Category Archives: LFW Food&Wine

Super Easy Warming Winter Puddings!

With winter well and truly settled in, we tested four yummy, and super easy, warming puddings to add to the table on a cold night. You can make all the puddings in one large dish, or split into individual ramekins for a special dessert. Serve each with ice-cream (we use Over the Moo because it’s the best!), or thick cream, home-made custard, or top with fruit and meringue for something a bit different. Enjoy! By Aine Dowling.

Magical Mocha Pudding

mocha pudding 3

Who doesn’t love a chocolate pudding, and this one is super easy and cooked in the microwave. This recipe is for grown-ups with spoonful of Tia Maria to serve (fortunately it doesn’t mention the size of the spoon, so knock yourself out!), but for the kids you can substitute chocolate sauce.

What you need: 150ml milk, 50gm pitted prunes, 2 teaspoons good quality instant coffee*, 50gm softened butter, 50gm icing sugar, 1 large egg, 50gm ground almonds, 2 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon self-raising flour**, and Tia Maria liqueur to serve (optional).

What you do: Measure the milk in a large jug and blend in a food processor together with the prunes and coffee until smooth. Add the butter, sugar, egg, almonds, cocoa, flour and a pinch of salt, then blitz again to make a thick batter. Scrape evenly and cleanly with a plastic scraper (don’t use metal) into 4 x 175ml ramekins, and cook in the microwave, spaced round the edge of the turntable, on Medium for 6 mins. The puddings will still look a bit moist, but that’s fine. Stand for 5 mins before serving. Top each with a spoon of Tia Maria (for the adults) or chocolate sauce (for the kids) and a scoop of ice-cream. *We grind our own beans and make our own coffee blends, but if we have to have instant we go for Gloria Jeans or Illy—more expensive, but much nicer.

Crunchy Caramel Crumble

apple crumbleI’ve always preferred crumbles to pies—not sure why … and the inclusion of caramel gives this a lovely smooth taste. The recipe calls for eating apples but I’ve used green cooking apples which are not as sweet, and make a nice contrast with the caramel. You can also substitute with other tart fruit such as rhubarb.

What you need: 8 apples—peeled, cored and cubed, 6 tablespoons Carnation (Nestle) caramel cream*, 50gm plain flour, 50gm oats, 50gm cold butter.

What you do: Heat oven to 200C. Put the apples into a saucepan with a splash of water, cover and cook over a high heat for 4-5 mins, stirring occasionally until just soft. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the caramel, then spoon into individual ramekins. Dot small spoonsful of caramel cream over the apples until only 1 tablespoon is left. Mix the flour and oats together, and rub in the butter with your fingers until you have a crumbly mixture. Stir in the remaining caramel and spread over the apples. Bake for 18-20 mins until golden and crispy on top. *You can buy Nestle Caramel top ‘n’ fill from any large supermarket.

Carefree Clafoutis

clafoutis 1Clafoutis (clafuti) is one of my all-time fave desserts—much be the French in me … This recipe is super easy and although the traditional Clafoutis is made with plums, you can change it to include your favourite fruit.

What you need: 1 cup whole milk, 3 eggs, ½ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons melted butter, ½ cup plain flour

What you do: Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and butter until the sugar is dissolved. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into a baking dish, and add your favourite fruit or flavouring—cherries, cubed apple or pear, sliced plums, etc. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the Clafoutis is puffed and golden. Serve immediately. Bon appetit!

Basic Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread-and-Butter-Pudding-2An oldie but a goodie—not much more to say really … But again, a super easy recipe and one that allows a few variations to suit you and your family’s taste.

What you need: 8 slices bread crusts removed, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons caster sugar, 300ml cream, 1/4 cup fruit jam or conserve to taste, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.

What you do: Preheat oven to 180C. Spread the bread with jam or conserve and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cut the bread into triangles and arrange in a greased oven-proof dish or four individual ramekins. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and cream. Pour over the bread and bake for 25 minutes.

Variation: Instead of jam, spread the bread with a good quality butter, and sprinkle with dried fruit—sultanas, chopped apples, apricots, dates, or figs. Or you can use fruit bread or buns.

**We use gluten-free (GF) flour in all our recipes.

New Season’s Menu at Les Bistronomes!

I love the seasons in Canberra because I love food. I love new menus and being drawn back to my favourite restaurants to try exciting dishes that celebrate the change in weather—especially winter warmer dishes that help us to take comfort from the cold.

BistronomesMultiple award-winning Les Bistronomes in Braddon has recently launched its autumn/winter menu, with a stack of mouth-watering dishes. It’s a true experience dining at Les Bistronomes and it’s no wonder the restaurant holds two Australian Good Food and Travel Guide Chef Hats. Where do I begin?

Bisronomes Beef burgundy1

Beef Burgundy (bœuf à la Bourguignonne)

I worship Chef Clement Chauvin for his amazing beef tartare and this special version is mandatory. The beef is grain fed and treated with total respect. A confit egg yolk sits pretty on top. All you do is gently mix, pop some mixture on top of the mandolin sliced, micro thin, crispy, gaufrette potatoes (served everywhere in France with tartar) and indulge. The horseradish element is the ‘winter warmer’ part of the dish. Favs remain on the entrée section (Les Bistronomes wouldn’t dare remove some), including the decadent garlic snails—for which the restaurant is famous.

Bistronomes Black pudding3

Black Pudding (Boudin Noir)

New is the black pudding. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to this dish, even if you’re not sure you’re a fan. Trust me, it’s delish. It’s made with pork and apple and served with a fried free range egg and a salad Lyonnaise, so very French, and, without giving any secrets away, the new French onion soup is delightful. Two of us couldn’t pass by the beef burgundy, a new star on the mains. No need to use a knife to cut through the braised beef cheeks in red wine. This dish is so soul satisfying, especially as it’s served with creamy soft polenta, mushrooms, and slow cooked onions.

Bistronomes Lemon sole

New Zealand Lemon Sole (Sole Limande)

The whole New Zealand lemon sole looks stunning on the plate and the fish, cooked to perfection, was moist and delicate. The forest mushrooms, and chestnut and beef burnt butter sauce ramped matters up considerably. And what about the sides? The kitchen excels at French peas and Les Bistronomes makes the most amazing fries. The simple fine-leaf salad with hazelnut vinaigrette is a perfect accompaniment to any dish.

Les Bistronomes has several mains for two to share (pre-ordering is recommended because they take 25 or 30 minutes to cook). Options include Clement’s signature ash-crusted duck a l’orange (served at the table in a dramatic way) and a Beef Wellington with foie gras.

Desserts are to die for and a feast for the eyes. Plating is so beautiful at Les Bistronomes. One of my favourite fruits is lemon and the Tarte Au Citron with blackberry sorbet and toasted meringue packs a punch on flavour. It’s a perfect texture and is bright and chirpy on the plate. If you’re keen on a traditional apple tart tatin for two, just pre-order. You’ll adore the triple vanilla bean ice cream. When you’re at Les Bistronomes, take time to talk to Sommelier Abel Bariller, a professional French Master Sommelier and a ‘Knight of Cognac’. His knowledge of wines, and how to match with food, is astronomical and he never hesitates to discuss options and motivate diners to experiment.

Bistronomes Lemon tart

Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron)

Chef Clement Chauvin_Les_Bistronomes_0041

Chef Clement Chauvin

 

The dishes at Les Bistronomes are fabulous value for money (mains average at around $34; some of Canberra’s better restaurants are creeping beyond mid-$40s). The atmosphere is charming. The furniture is comfy. You simply can’t go wrong. And, beyond the new winter/autumn menu, stay tuned for the special Bastille Day menu (14 July) or the special Truffle Dinner menu (27 July or 3 August).

http://www.lesbistronomes.net

Pie in the Sky!

Or in the Southern Highlands …

 Who doesn’t love a good pie? Especially on a cold June day. If that’s you, get yourself to the Southern Highlands this June when you can eat your way through the Highlands as they celebrate the great Aussie pie with Pie Time!

beef and veg pie

Home-made beef and veggie pie with filo pastry – photo by LFW

“The Southern Highlands has a large saturation of quality pie producers with everything from your top-notch gourmet pies, to family winter warmers and deliciously sweet dessert pies,” said Steve Rosa, Manager Tourism and Events, Destination Southern Highlands. “What better way to demonstrate some pie parochialism than with a pie festival, pie trail, pie competition and related pie events featuring over 30 local pie sites including bakeries, cafes, restaurants, hotels and associated businesses in the Southern Highlands. In essence, we’ll become the Southern Pie-lands throughout June.”

chicken leek and bacon pie

Chicken, leek, and bacon pie – photo by LFW

Pie Time has four components. The Pie Time Festival—featuring pie tasting, beer and pie matching, cooking demos, competitions, and music, and will be held on 24 and 25 June in Bowral’s Corbett Gardens. The Southern Highlands’ Best Pie Competition—for professional and apprentice bakers is on 22 and 23 June, also in the Corbett Gardens. The Pie Trail and Dine with a Pie includes pie sampling at hotels, cafés and restaurants during the month of June.

Pies will also be available at key attractions including the Illawarra Fly, Bradman Museum’s Stumps Café, Fitzroy Falls, and galleries, pubs, and restaurants in the region.

lamb pasties

Hearty lamb and veggie pasties – photo by LFW

You can also get a Pie Time break package—a ‘pie-cation’ at the iconic Peppers Craigieburn in Bowral where you can enjoy their signature pie and wine for two people, plus a welcome drink on arrival—from 1 June to 31 August. Pie-cation packages, and Southern Highlands’ hospitality, is also available at The Robertson Hotel, Peppers Manor House, Mildenhall Guesthouse, Fitzroy Inn Historic Retreat, and Gibraltar Hotel Bowral.

Pie eaters can also win an Ultimate Pie Lovers Experience including a gourmet pie lunch for 10 people at award winning Centennial Vineyards Restaurant, simply by buying a pie or pie dish, throughout June, and entering the comp on www.pietime.com.au

Pie Time

So lock this fun event in your calendar now!

For more information on Pie Time visit www.pietime.com.au.  To book your stay in the Southern Highlands for Pie Time 2017 visit www.southern-highlands.com.au or call 1300 657 559.

Bella Agostinis!

It’s relaxed, playful and a celebration of Dan and Dion Bisa’s ‘Italian life’. I’m talking about Agostinis, the latest addition to the food and wine scene at the award-winning East Hotel.

Kitchen from Hotel lobby Agostinis

This is the realisation of a dream for the Bisa siblings, who created Agostinis around their international dining experiences, their love of Italian food and all it represents, and their adorable and inspirational mum, Marisa—the matriarch of the family.

Chef Franceso (Frankie) Balestrieri, who always seems to be grinning from ear to ear, has created a menu that is simple, honest and not expensive given that virtually everything is made in-house—pasta, sauces, marinades, ice cream and even fairy floss.

The antipasti line-up is absolutely delish and will get your taste buds yelling ‘bellisimo’.

Italian Books on Tables Agostinis

Learn some Italian with Chef Francesco

The calamari is soaked in buttermilk before being lightly fried and it truly melts in the mouth. So too does the cured beef, which is sliced ever so thinly (it’s almost transparent) and served with textural elements such as crispy parmigiano and roasted hazelnuts. It’s a divine combination.

One of my absolute faves from the ‘primi piatti’ section, is the intriguing square-cut spaghetti (all pastas are served beautifully al dente). Frankie says this is a ‘true Sicilian delicacy with the taste of the Mediterranean Sea’, and he’s not exaggerating. The dish is created with love, by combining salty cured fish roe, garlic (what’s an Italian dish without garlic?), chilli, lemon and fresh parsley. Simply superb.

Another fave is the oh-so-classic, peasant-style spaghetti. It’s created with three elements—tomatoes that pack-a-punch with flavour, garlic and aromatic basil. That’s all it takes for an Italian masterpiece.

And, I highly recommend sharing the Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, the most succulent t-bone I’ve had in yonks. Again, simple is best, says Frankie. The beef is prepared solely with salt and rosemary, grilled to medium rare and left to do what a fabulous cut of meat should always do, and that’s rest. The roast potatoes are to die-for and I wonder over and over why I can’t cook potatoes like that.

Tonnarelli Ala Bottarga Agostinis

Pasta Tonnarelli Ala Bottarga

Pizza fans will quickly fall in love with Agostinis. The state-of-the-art, rotating Marana Fornit pizza oven is a marvellous beast that can cook 15 pizzas at a time, in a record 4 minutes. All pizzas are created with a thin crust, made in a special way by Frankie and his team so the dough doesn’t weigh heavily on the tummy. At the top of the list is the famous Margherita, always a winner in my books.

Desserts include a mini chocolate ricotta cannoli with delightful fairy floss, made on a special machine daily. It’s fun to watch the floss being made. Speaking of watching, you can sit at the bar and dine if you’d like. It’s mesmerising seeing the Agostinis’ kitchen team in full swing.

MelanzanePizza Agostinis

Pizza Melanzane – tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant, and basil

Agostinis has put as much love and attention into its wine list as it has its food. Several 100 per cent Italian-made wines are on tap and Bryan Martin (Ravensworth Wines, Murrumbateman) has been called in to work with the team, including on Beppo’s Blend. Agostinis uses the TAP. System, so wine quality is never compromised.

Al Fresco Terrace Agostinis

Dine al fresco at Agostinis

The décor at Agostinis deserves a whopper of a story in its own right. The attention to detail is unbelievable. Designed by Kelly Ross, who also designed Joe’s Bar at East Hotel, the décor is a perfect pairing of past and present. Ultra-modern neon pink signs mix comfortably with elements that harken back to Marisa’s Italian origins. The colour scheme is intriguing. The tiles are beautiful. The striking feature wall, by graphic designer James Manning, which forms the centrepiece of the restaurant, is loaded with memory and worth studying. Everything has meaning, including the 800 metres of distressed rope, cut to lengths and hung on dowel rods to represent home-made pasta hung to dry in the sun.

Agostinis. East Hotel. Open 7 days. 69 Canberra Avenue. 6178 0048.

Christmas Pampered Pavs!

Why is a pav always round? We don’t have the answer, but we do know it won’t ban you from family get-togethers if it’s not. So for Christmas … be bold and adventurous and take this quintessential Aussie dessert and turn it into a Christmas centrepiece!

Christmas wreath pavlova with berries and holly

Christmas wreath pavlova with berries and mint leaves

It’s amazing what you can do with a pav. Forget round, and make a wreath, a Christmas tree, gingerbread man, or yule log. Check our basic pav recipe below, and just add a Christmas theme, a bit of colour and bingo!—the Christmas Pampered Pav!

Christmas tree pavlova

Christmas tree pavlova

What you need: 6 egg whites, 1.1/2 cups caster sugar, ½ cup white sugar, 2 tablespoons cornflour, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus cream and berries, or whatever else you want, for decoration.

Yule log pavlova

Yule log pavlova

What you do: Step one (and before doing anything else) is to place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray, and draw the outline of the shape of the pav onto the paper, and pre-heat fan-forced oven to 180 degrees celcius*. Then … beat the egg whites until stiff shiny peaks form, and add the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, to the egg whites and mix until mixture becomes thick and glossy. Mix the white sugar and cornflour together and gently fold the mixture and the lemon juice into the egg white mix. Spoon the mixture into the drawn shape on the baking paper, turn the oven down to 150 degrees, and bake for approximately 1 hour until dry to the touch. Allow to cool in the oven with the oven door slightly open. The meringue should be dry and crisp on the outside and slight soft and gooey on the inside. When cool, decorate with your choice of fruit, and cream or custard.

Christmas wreath with red berries and holly

Christmas wreath with red berries, cherries, pomegranate, and holly

*Different recipes suggest different temperatures and timing, but we have used Nigella Lawson’s (aka The Goddess of Baking) temperature and timing.

Individual mini pavlova with berries and custard

Individual mini pavlova with berries and custard

‘Tis the Season to be cheery!

It’s summer and it’s holidays; time to kick back, put your feet up and relax. So cocktails or mocktails—what’s your favourite? Here at LFW we’re sort of into healthy eating (and drinking) so in the interest of keeping healthy we cut out the creamy cocktails and added fruit and fruit juice—well, it’s fruit right … so it must be good!

Classic Cocktails

Tropical Mai-tai and Magarita

Tropical Mai-tai and Magarita

Here’s our pick for some classic cocktails  to celebrate the season or welcome 2017! So get your shaker and little parasols ready and read on! Cheers!

Bellini

Bellini

Bellini Cocktail—although this was invented in Venice, Italy in the 1930s, it’s a great Aussie cocktail using fresh Australian summer peaches. Get a couple of nice soft’ish peaches and peel and chop. Place in a blender and whiz until pureed. Pour into a champagne flute and top with chilled Prosecco.

Classic Champagne Cocktail (serves 6)—place a sugar cube in each champagne glass and drizzle with four drops of Angostura Bitters. Cover the sugar cube with brandy, and top with chilled champagne or sparkling wine.

Daiquiri—this is super easy and you can whiz up in a blender. Start with 50ml of white rum (Ron Bacardi is a good choice), then add 10ml of freshly squeezed lime juice, 5 ripe strawberries, and sugar syrup to taste. Whiz it up with 4 ice cubes and pour into a Margarita glass. You can find sugar syrup at any good wine shop.

 

Mai Tai

Mai Tai

Mai Tai—this is one of our all-time fave cocktails!  What you need: 30ml white rum, 30ml dark rum, 30ml orange juice, 30ml pineapple juice,15ml Triple Sec. What you do: pop a few ice cubes into a cocktail shaker, and add all ingredients. Shake well and pour into a tall glass.

Margarita (serves 4)—in a large jug combine ¾ cup tequila, ½ cup fresh lime juice (between 4 and 6 limes), ½ cup Triple Sec or Cointreau, ½ cup water. Dip the rims of four Margarita glasses in lime juice then into salt to coat the rims. Add a couple of ice cubes to the glasses and pour over the Margarita. Garnish with lime slices.

 

 

Mojito—another of our all-times faves, this is nice and light and summery, and super easy to make. What you need: 1 fresh lime cut into pieces, 10ml sugar syrup, 2 tablesp fresh mint leaves, 50ml white rum, soda water, and 1 sprig of mint. What you do: place the lime, sugar, and mint into a cocktail shaker and muddle (mash) with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add the rum and stir well, then pour into a tall glass and add soda water until the glass is full. Garnish with the sprig of mint.

Classic Mojito

Classic Mojito

Magic Mocktails

Mocktails are non-alcoholic cocktails and are great if you’re the designated driver and don’t want to look like a wimp sipping on a mineral water.

m-blueberry_smashBlueberry Smash—a handful of blueberries, 10ml sugar syrup, 25ml fresh lemon juice, 100ml sparkling mineral water. Gently muddle the blueberries and syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add lemon juice and ice and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Strain into a tall glass, top with sparkling mineral water and stir to combine.

Lemon Island Iced Tea—make the tea beforehand and chill in the fridge. When cold place in a cocktail shaker with 50ml lychee juice, 10ml sugar syrup, 10ml fresh lemon juice. Pour over crushed ice into a tall glass and decorate with a stick of lemon grass.

Mockito Cooler

Mockito Cooler

Mockito Cooler—looks just like a Mojito! Combine together 4 cups of coconut water, 2 cucumbers (thinly sliced), ½ cup lime juice, ¼ cup sugar (optional if you like your drinks sweet), and ¼ cup chopped mint leaves. Chill for up to 2 hours before serving.

Pineapple Cobbler—this is a really neat non-alcoholic drink and looks great if you dress it up with a little umbrella or some small pieces of fruit on a toothpick and placed across the glass. Shake together 10ml of lime juice and 75ml of pineapple juice, and pour over ice into a tall glass. Add soda water to about ¾ of the way up the glass, and gently pour the strawberry juice on the top so it floats.

 

Summertime Stir Fry on the Barbie!

You know it’s summer when every man and his dog is in the back yard, BBQ tongs in hand, and the only time your man will wear an apron. Personally, I’ve never been a great fan of BBQs until I discovered that anything you can cook on a grill or in frypan, you can also cook on a BBQ! You can cook directly on the BBQ plate, or use a fry pan over the flame. So leave the wok in the cupboard, fire up the barbie, and enjoy an Aussie-Asian fusion summer stir fry.

stir-fry-bbq-2

Our recipe is for Thai Beef Salad Stir Fry and firstly you need a good cut of meat such as sirloin or porterhouse. You can substitute beef with chicken, or shell fish—just adjust the cooking time accordingly, and ring the changes with a variety of veggies. So let’s get going!

Basic Thai Beef Salad Stir Fry (serves 4)

Stir Fry Thai Basil and Chilli Beef Salad

Thai beef stir fry salad with chilli and basil

What you need: enough good quality steak for four people, 1 medium size onion (thinly sliced) 6 mushrooms (sliced), 1 packet ready-mix stir fry*, ¼ iceberg lettuce (chopped), 1 small packet crispy noodles, 1 Bok Choy (chopped), ½ red capsicum (thinly sliced). You can also add any other Asian veg or thinly sliced carrots, broccoli, baby corn, snow peas, cashew nuts, etc.

Marinade: 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 small and finely chopped hot chilli (optional, but preferable).

stir-fry-bbq-1

What you do:

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a jar and shake well. Slice the meat thinly, place in a bowl and toss in the marinade. Leave in the fridge overnight.

Fire up the BBQ and drizzle a teeny amount of extra-virgin olive oil on the plate. When hot, add the steak and sliced onion and toss for a couple of minutes. Then add the stir fry veggie mix and whatever else veggies your including, and toss together until the steak is cooked. Add the crispy noodles and toss in.

Place the chopped lettuce in four serving bowls. Place the beef stir fry on top of the lettuce and lightly toss. Serve immediately with rice or soy noodles on the side.

Chicken with stir fry veggies

Chicken with stir fry veggies

*You can buy ready mixed stir fry veggies from any major supermarket chain and they save endless slicing and chopping. You can get finely chopped or chunky varieties—buy as much as you need and use as soon as possible.