Monday, January 31, 2011

Cyclone Bianca vs The Saucy Minx

January and February are crazy times of the year. It's hot; you're broke and still recovering from the excesses that are Christmas and New Year. It's also the time of year where Italian families everywhere gather around someones backyard with crates of tomatoes ready for saucing.

There's Dean Martin's Che La Luna Mezza Mare song playing in the background while Zia brings around freshly made pizza and piping, hot espresso to get you through the morning - cue International Wog Day!

This year though it proved a little tough for la famiglia, with a category 4 cyclone by the name of Bianca trying to ruin the party. All weekend we were on Bianca watch trying to work out if it was even possible to go ahead with the sauce-making parade and would our tomatoes be OK the following week if Bianca hit.

You see it's all about timing when it comes to sauce making. The tomatoes have to be delivered at just the right moment and then it's action time with a production line of de-corers, boilers, mincers, bottlers, cappers and storers.

So..... after getting the all clear from Bianca we were good to go on Sunday morning (6am people) and I was put on de-coring duties and with 23 crates to get through let me tell you it was no easy task.  Slicing tomato after tomato and disposing of the green core filling the bucket ready for boiling, all up taking the six of us fours hours to clear.

After de-coring the tomatoes, they are sent to the boilers and this usually done by the men of the family (in this case it was two of the older cousins) who than boiled and minced the tomatoes ready for bottling.

This year the bottling task went to the brother-in-law who with precision and grace completed it in record time. Once the bottles are filled, it's then time for capping, boiling (again) and voila we have sauce ready to eat.  Saucy Minx 1 - Cyclone Bianca 0!

Here's a picture diary of the day:
Step 1: Cutting out the core of the tomato (in a bathtub no less)

Step 2: Getting rid of all the skins and mincing through

Step 3: Placing the sauce through a funnel-based container and into a bottle

Step 4: Placing bottles in crates ready to be capped

Step 5: Dinner is served
Do you have family, food traditions that you keep? Or do you make a mean pasta sauce? I'd love to hear from you Bx

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In other news!!!

Oh one more thing before I leave you today, hubby cooked again! Yep he's doing it regularly and working on something as I type. His latest masterpiece a Blueberry and Apple Cake courtesy of Donna Hay's Fast, Fresh, Simple cookbook - here's the evidence:

Blueberry & Apple Cake
Bx

Competition Time - Your Worst Cooking Disaster

Hi guys as promised here is our first competition for Cooking In Choos.

Although not a foodie item but more of a fashionista piece our first giveaway is a Parisian style Fleur Necklace. This handmade, silver plated, coin necklace,with black 8mm balls is made by West Australian local designer All Glitz & Glam and valued at $39.

For your chance to win this original piece tell us in 25 words or less tell us your worst cooking disaster? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section of this page or email me at Cooking In Choos

Competition closes the 7th of Feb at 5pm WST.

Goodluck
Bxo

All Glitz & Glam 42cm Fleur Necklace
To see the All Glitz & Glam Collection email them here All Glitz & Glam


Cooking In Choos now on Facebook

Hey guys

Just letting you know we're now on Facebook. Be the first to hear the latest news, enter competitions and read amazing interviews just by clicking on Cooking In Choos Facebook and liking the page.

Thanks again for your support.
B x

P.S Don't forget to spread the word and tell all your friends. x

Review: Devilles Pad

A few weeks ago my girlfriend invited us out for her birthday dinner at Devilles Pad. It's a place none of us had been to before and wanting to try something different I couldn't wait to check it out.

This themed, kooky, cabaret lounge-cum-cocktail bar-cum-restaurant is, well, different. And when I say different I mean good different. Making a statement from the the moment you walk in the door Devilles is set out somewhat like the Royal Show's Ghost Train with patrons welcomed by costumed staff and zombie-like lifesize wall mannequins.

Inside the quirky food  follows the theme with Quesadilla Diabla, Evil Empanadas and Hot Hickery Hogs on the diner-like menu. I chose the Royale with Cheese along with some Chicken Bites and Mexicorn washed down with the Tequila Temptress - all very basic but still quite nice.

You see the thing with Devilles is it's not just about the food and drink, it's about the whole atmosphere and this got it a 5/5 on my scale. Open Thursday through to Saturday Devilles entertainment ranges from Karaoke, Burlesque to Rockabilly with GoGo Dancers and Salsa Bands taking to the stage at any one time. It's great fun and a little different - try it, you may just like it!

Tucking into the Royale with Cheese

The Devilish Choc Fudge Brownie with ice-cream & Choc-Bourbon Sauce

The Birthday Girl's Moet Punch - now we're talking!
Score: Food 3/5 Atmosphere 5/5

Have you been to Devilles Pad? Did you like it? I'd love to hear from you. Bx

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hello Finland

Lately I've noticed a lot of readers from Finland perusing my blog, so to all of you I say a big welcome and thank you for following!

I notice you are all checking out the Masterchef posts so I'm assuming Series 1 of Masterchef Australia is showing over there. Le me know if there is anything you would like to read about or anything you'd like to be updated on.

I still keep in touch with Trevor Forster and Justine so if there's anything you would like to ask them please let me know.

Again thanks for following and I hope to continue keeping you all entertained.

Bel x

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year Resolutions

Yeah, yeah I know it's been done to bits but with the holiday season well and truly over I thought it best to write down my goals for the coming year. OK here goes:

  1. Pay off and reduce my debt: The old credit card took a beating over Christmas and this year I want to get into the habit of paying for things with $$$$$ and reducing my debt.
  2. Fundraising: Last year I, along with a few others held a Quiz Night for the Madeira,Portugal floods. It was very successful with more than 350 people turning up and a total of just over $15K raised. It was a mammoth task and one I would never do again ( IPhones, Blackberrys etc just spoil the fun of a good-old fashion quiz night - so never ever again). However I will be holding a few fundraisers throughout the year for various charities close to my heart & I will keep you posted as more details come to hand.
  3. Blog more: This year I will be spending more time online (even though hubby thinks I married to the laptop as it is)  using my time wisely and blogging more about my foodies adventures and travel escapades (I know I've already promised this but some of my pieces are being published therefore I'm waiting to post until they hit newsstands - again deets to come soon). I'm going to be adding competitions where readers of my blogs can win cookbooks, food vouchers and more yummy treats so keep your eyes peeled for these. I'll also be adding video blogs of me cooking some of my favourite dishes in the kitchen along with a few special guests as well as chef interviews and other video surprises.
  4. Travel: I want to see the world but this year I'm staying close to home and checking out the beautiful places in our great country. First on the hit list is Melbourne in March for the Good Food Fest to meet the lovely and amazing, Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson - can't wait! While we're there we are also looking at visiting  Daylesford and trying out their many beautiful spas. '
  5. Get in tip-top shape: The downfall of being a food writer is the weight gain and slowly, slowly I've seen my clothes size get bigger and bigger. This year I've seen a dietitian who has devised a healthy eating plan which I will follow  along with an exercise plan which includes Zumba, resistance training and Pilates & hopefully I'll be back to my pre-wedding weight before I know it!
That's it folks so what about you guys do you have any New Year Resolutions? I'd love to hear from you Bx

Bringing in 2011 with family & friends

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Greatest of Expectations

So sticking with the holiday food safari  or my eat, drink everything in site challenge my girlfriends and I set about trying a couple of High Tea venues over the Christmas/New Year break. It seems like forever since I mentioned Rochelle Adonis to them and there was no time like the present to finally get round to going there.

Rochelle Adonis, the former head pastry chef of Matt Moran's Circluar Quay restaurant Aria moved to WA in 2001 and business has been booming ever since. Known for her famous nougart, cakes, icecreams and sorbet I couldn't wait to try her High Tea to see if it lived up to expectations.

The verdict - hmmm it was OK, yep you heard me just OK. I've had several High Teas and they have been good, great and amazing (Raffles Singapore - to die) but this one just didn't cut the mustard. Don't get me wrong the place itself is gorgeous, pretty, girlie everything a High tea should be but the content and what you got for the price you pay was not, in my opinion, worth it.

Let me break it down for you. For $45 you get two courses of sweet and savoury dishes (keep in mind this was shared among four women and all up we tried 7 little bites sized treats each) and a coffee plunger or tea of your choice - we went the coffee. The first plate came out with 4 x cauliflower mousse (I say mousse because of the texture not sure what it really was), 4 x beetroot scrolls and 4 x cucumber sandwiches. They were all lovely and I know High Tea isn't lunch or a meal but these things were tiny.

The second dish was a tray of creme brulee (the winner of the morning) and chocolate truffles, apricot pastry triangles and miniature cakes. Again they were lovely but hardly touched the sides. Now my gripe is not about the taste because like I have said they were lovely - lovely being the operative word - not amazing, but for $45 a little overpriced.

Will I go back there again? Probably..... but not for their High Tea but to try some of her gorgeous looking cakes - I just hope they, unlike this experience, live up to their hype.

Score: 3/5



The pretty prints adorning the wall
The beautifully decorated long table

Cucumber sandwiches, beetroot scrolls and cauliflower mousse

Chocolate creme brulee with Spanish Churro

Me enjoying the best part of the high tea - creme brulee

Cake & truffle anyone?
Now onto the next High Tea experience at Palais 85. Again I've heard only good things about this place formerly of The Oyster Bar fame and like Rochelle I had to try it for myself. Palais 85 offer four different types of High Tea - High Tea, Sparkling High Tea, Champagne High Tea and Vintage High Tea and starting from $35 (cheaper when you use the Entertainment Card) - we chose plain High Tea.

So what do you get for $35? Well here you get to choose your favourite type of coffee or tea, so this time I had a skinny latte. I know you're thinking why coffee at High Tea, I can't help myself I love my coffee. Along with this you also get 10 tasty treats from cinnamon scones, rose pannacotta and of course the original cucumber sandwich. Again they were bite sized but with three more items on the menu it left all of us quite content - not tipping over the scales full, but definitely satisfied.

All up it was a nice experience and I'd go back to Palais 85 to maybe try their Vintage High Tea next.

Score: 4/5
High Tea #2 Palais 85

Opulence

More traditional and more variety for less
Enjoying part of the cucumber sandwich
Now onto something a little more laid back and in no way pretty my visit to the famous Alfred's Kitchen. A while ago I did a piece for The West about Perth's Best New Burgers and time and time again I was told it shouldn't have been about the "best new burger" but the "best burger" because there was no better burger than those found at Alfred's Kitchen.

Situated on James Street in Guildford this roadside burger kitchen had people lining up down the street to taste "the best burgers" in town so you can imagine my excitement as I got closer to finally tasting what everyone has been talking about.

The verdict? Did I agree with the cravat-wearing-Masterchef-judging Matt Preston? I really wish I could because everyone around me was......BUT I ended up ordering a Bacon Burger and who the heck knew a Bacon Burger was just that - a burger with only bacon! Yep, you read right. What I should have ordered was a hamburger with bacon - my bad! Oh well, I guess it just gives me another excuse to go back there and get it right the second time.
Alfred's neon sign
A Bacon Burger with just bacon - who knew?

So that's it, there you have it my latest foodie adventures. Have you been to Rochelle Adonis' and have you had high tea there? Was it good & did I get them on an off day? And what about Alfred's is it really the place to find the ultimate burger? I'd love to heard from you B xo

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Food glorious Food!

It's been a great last couple of weeks. I've caught up with old friends, been to a Christmas party or two and having decided to jump off the no-carb bandwagon, spent the last few Sundays eating my way around the northern suburbs.

First stop Il Circolo on Angove Street in North Perth. This little Italian style trattoria serves up hearty breakfasts, coffee, cake and traditional Italian fare and having only had a light breakie hubby and I and were looking for something to curb our hunger.

Il Circolo  have a simple menu with a little bit of everything to suit most appetites and on this visit the Beef Ragu Tortelli got the nod. Light, fresh and delicious the Tortelli was definitely a good choice and went down even easier with an Italian Aranciata (Orange soda water). 

I would recommend Il Circolo for breakfast, light lunches or a quick coffee but if you are looking for something fancier try elsewhere. All in all though it's good value for money and I'll be revisiting them soon. Score: 3/5


Beef Ragu Tortelli
So after our visit to Il Circolo we decided to grab dessert at the Sherbet Cafe and Bake Shop in Maylands. I'd only heard good things about this quaint little coffee shop-cum-bakehouse and was dying to find out if it was all true.

Reminiscent of New York's famous Magnolia Bakery this cute little gem has something for everyone. Whether it's high tea with the ladies, a light brunch or sweet treat you're after Sherbet do it all and what I love most is the way they stay true to English tradition, presenting their yummy morsels on vintage china.

I can't wait to get back there to try their coffee and red velvet cake. Score: 5/5

The pastel blue sign outside Sherbet in Maylands

Cupcakes anyone? Chocolate, Banana/Caramel and Vanilla -Delish!
Also during our break we've been getting into the entertaining and trialling out different recipes. The latest one doing the rounds in the kitchen is our prawn pizza along with any cured meat we have in the fridge. I never thought the seafood/meat combo would be any good but after trying Theo Kalogeracos' (of Little Caesar's fame) Jane's Addiction it has become my favourite type of pizza to eat. So....since then we've done ham and pancetta and this time we thought we'd mix it up by adding salami. The verdict - another winning combination. Try it if you're game and want a change from the Margarita, Capriciosa varieties.

Prawn, Salami and Mozzarella Pizza

So now it's time for dessert.......again and this dish is c/o Nigella Lawson and inspired by one of my favourite bloggers Mia Freedman  (click http://www.mamamia.com.au/ if you want to see her attempt this dish or read along to find out more). Mia doesn't get in the kitchen much and admits to not really having the culinary skills to create masterpieces BUT all power to her because at least she gives it a shot.
These tasty treats contain only five ingredients and are simple, delicious and best of all can be made in no time. If you want to try them at home yourself send me an email and I'll get back to you with the recipe otherwise feel free to click on the link and enjoy Mia at her best. Bon Apetite!  
Nigella's Peanut Butter & Chocolate Slice

Has the silly season had you getting busy in the kitchen I'd love to hear from you - B xoxo                                                               

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