Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mango-a-go-go

First there was my 'nod' to coconut, now today is a mango day.  

Firstly it started with my stepson, who brought over a 6 pack of Mango beer.  Mango beer!?! I had never heard of it!  He asked if I wanted one, to which I said yes, then I planned Sunday night's dinner around it!

So... what to have for dinner?
I wanted something a little spicy, full of flavour, and easy peasy to do. 

The solution?  Mango curry marinated whole chicken, and roasted vegetables.

I bought a whole raw chicken from my mate Marcus at M & K Meats at the Lanyon Marketplace. He even butterflied it for me, right there on the spot. Took him all of about 20 seconds. He's good like that.

Next, the spices.  I think I got out half of my spice jar collection, and started eyeballing amounts into a large bowl.  A dash more turmeric for colour... a shake more of chilli for some heat, and a whole lot of everything else.  Next, I blitzed up some frozen chunks of mango flesh... some olive oil.... some lemon juice... and the spice mix. A lush aromatic thick marinade was created to which I bathed the butterflied chicken. Popped it into the fridge for the next 8 hours.


Nearing dinner time, all I had to do was prep a few vegetables (potato, onions, sweet potato, red capsicum and broccoli) and let the oven do all the work.  60 minutes later and dinner was ready. As I wanted, easy peasy.




Now for the mango beer... It was delicious!

It tasted like a combination of a 'west coast cooler' but with mango flavour, and was matched with the 'beeriness' of the beer. It went down a treat. I can well imagine this beer at a summer evening BBQ. I must look out for it.



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Plaka

For our second wedding anniversary we ventured over to the 'other side' of town to Dickson to give the re-opened Plaka Restaurant a go. The Plaka was a Canberra staple for nigh on 30+ years at the Mawson shops until they closed their doors a couple of years ago. The family resurrected the restaurant, due mainly to the family's children wanting to again work in the family business.  They have been open in Dickson for about 3 months now. 

The restaurant is huge!! They can seat 70 people outside on the wooden benches (it was much too cool tonight for outdoor dining), and they can fit 150 inside. The tables are well laid out and there is plenty of room to move about. White tablecloths, white crockery and silver cutlery. Simple. Elegant. Greek themed decor adorns the walls. The menu is vast with lots of options. It made it hard to settle on just a few dishes. We will have to drop in again to try more selections, especially the range of seafood offerings.

For entrĂ©e we shared a plate of dolmades. Tasty, warm, beef and rice filled vine leaf parcels, absolutely smothered in a decadent lemon sauce. Five were presented on the plate, and we nearly fought over the last one, but cut it in two to keep the peace.

Hubby's main was veal scallopini. The veal was beautifully tender, and covered in a creamy mushroom sauce, with lovely veg and rice.


My main was the chicken souvlaki plate. Talk about a huge meal! Two chicken shewers, plenty of greek salad, potatoes, tzatziki, and oodles of homemade delicious bread. Next time, I think I will just hunker down on the bread alone, it was devine.


The only selection for dessert was baklava, which as tempting as it sounded, we just couldn't do it justice, so we finished the meal there.

Bon appetit! 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ode to Coconut


Ah coconut, how I love thee.  I do. I love all things coco-nutty.
The smell of it, the taste of it, the fact it has both juice and flesh and the sheer versatility of it, from being able to eat it, make soaps from it, and using the coir from its husk to make all sorts of things from doormats to fishing nets.

This month my kitchen has produced a variety of things devoted to the coconut. I bought a coconut from my local supermarket, checking first for that all important sloshing sound when picking it up which meant it was full of lovely coconut water. I also bought a packet of coconut meal (also known as coconut flour).

So, from the fresh coconut and the coconut flour I have made...

Coconut pancakes
Beat together a couple of eggs and add a dash of vanilla. Add to this two mashed bananas, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of baking powder and a third of a cup of coconut flour.  The flour seemed to absorb the moisture really quickly, so I added a splash of milk, and gave it a good whisk.  Pop small spoonfuls into a warm pan and flip when golden.  Yummo. That made for a great weekend breakfast. 

Hummingbird cake
From the taste website, this was a really easy recipe EXCEPT I was watching the Bathurst 1000 race on TV at the same time and omitted the olive oil!! I wasn't about to unload the cake batter from the tin, so I sent it into the oven, sans oil, and it turned out just fine.  The fact that I might have toppled in a couple of extra pineapple pieces may have given it the additional moisture it needed. Suffice to say, the cake was a hit, especially with the hubby.

Coconut cocktail
This was a little thrown together from likely contenders that just happened to be the kitchen. I wasn't about to go to the shops and get something else. So... this little concoction consisted of fresh coconut juice, a splash of gin, a splash of Solerno, and some crushed up pineapple pieces (which were leftover from the Hummingbird cake recipe).  Fruity, warming and sunshine-y, yum. 

A quick breakfast smoothie
About a third of a cup of fresh coconut water, same amount of milk, and a generous handful of blueberries. Blitzed up with the stick mixer until frothy and purple. That went down a treat.

And finally,
Snacked on the coconut flesh. We kept it in a bowl in the fridge and would pop a piece during the evenings. 


 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A bunch of flowers



Sometimes you just have to spoil yourself.
Sometimes you can't resist something beautiful.
Sometimes you just need to stop and smell (or buy) the flowers.


So I bought this lovely bunch of lillies from my local supermarket. For a mere $6, this bunch came home wth me. Was photographed by me. And was enjoyed by me. Just because.


 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

In My Kitchen - October 2014

Welcome to my first ‘In My Kitchen’ post.  Thank you to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for the opportunity to join this inspiring series. I will be sure to check out the other October posts.

In my kitchen this month, my cookbook and writing stash has been further expanded. Thanks to the trash ‘n’ treasure markets, and a little online shopping for the first batch…


…and the annual Spring Lifeline Bookfair for most the second batch, as well as Rishi Desai's Modern Indian cookbook which I purchased off him, and had him autograph. Oh, by the way, he works in my office! Each time I go to this bookfair I think that I’ll only get a few things, however each year my interests grow and vary and I end up with a heavy bag full of goodies. I now clearly understand the need for a “granny trolley” at this event, as you can store so much inside, and it wheels for easy convenience. Next year I’ll get one, for sure.

In my kitchen is local produce in the form of eggs from Gunning.  Such a cute name and logo ‘Gunning Bum Nuts’ (GBN) makes me smile every time I open the fridge and spy the egg carton. I understand that the family behind GBN has just got an egg stamper made up in the image of their trade marked logo. Too cute.

 
In my kitchen I now have a set of 3 crumbing trays. I saw these in a magazine years ago, but only spotted them recently at new homewares store in the Tuggeranong Hyperdome, ACT.  The store: Off the Pallet, and I picked up these beauties for a crazy 60% off store opening sale.  I put them through their paces by crumbing up some delicious chicken tenders.

From the same store I picked up these cute little bowls. Just the perfect size for photo props for my food photography hobby.

 
Now for a little something grownup - Campari.  I really think my tastes are changing, maturing even. Campari. It’s bitter, orangey, herby and just begging for warmer days, freshly squeezed orange juice, and ice filled glasses.

 
Viewed from my kitchen window are our blossoming fruit trees.

Happy October to you all, Kirsty