March 29, 2012

Streetdance 2 3D


I love me a dance movie, always have. I don't know whether it was my repressed non-dancing childhood - being overweight and self-conscious does not make for a confident dancer - or my brief period of crazy DDR playing with my high school friends, but I do, regardless of whether I think there will be a great story, watch a dance movie. And I mean ANY dance movie.

By the way, if you're wondering why a food blog is writing about dance movies...well, there was a brief, embarrassing stint at hip hop class. There I said it. Don't ask any more because I refuse to talk about it. But I still love watching dancing!!! That, and this is also an entry to get tickets to watch Streetdance 2 3D (thank you Nuffnang!).

So anyway, this one's about ballet meeting hiphop (sounds kinda familiar). A street dance crew first loses their rehearsal space, and ends up getting space at a ballet studio, even though they have to include ballet dances in their routine. There is animosity from both ends of the camp, but eventually the love for dance wins out and there are AWESOME DANCE SCENES.

At least, we assume. To be honest I'm not approaching this movie from a plot perspective. We all know that when we go to watch a dance movie it's not for the plot, it's for the awesome camera work and choreography. We all know that no one is going to suddenly break out into perfectly rehearsed routines, but we believe it still, because we are so ridiculously entertained.

And I love being ridiculously entertained.

See StreetDance 2 (3D) at your nearest Hoyts. Mine is Broadway! Don’t forget to check out their Xtremescreen, La Premiere and IMAX!” Streetdance 2 (3D) opens in Australia April 19th, 2012


March 23, 2012

Unleashing the Quiche!


Quiche was first introduced to me in more or less the following words:

Leftover pie

And I can understand where it's coming from - it's a very economical way to use up leftover ingredients...provided you have spare pastry and spare dairy (read: cream) lying around. After making my favourite pastry recipe at the moment, I've been on a quiche bend, meaning that Sean and I have plenty of quick breakfasts that we can grab on the way to work! Happiness all around.

I guess the idea is that you can fill a quiche with pretty much anything you like - I always feel like if you like the combination, who's to judge? (I do have a rant about that, but more about it later) There are also many different quiche mixes on the net, but I'll just share what I use and just feel free to mix and match!

Quiche Mix
4 eggs
400g pure cream
50g milk
pinch of salt

Preheat 165C.

Line 12 muffin tins with pastry.

For this lot, I filled the quiche with leftover spinach, cream cheese, bacon, and then thoroughly mixed up the eggs, cream and salt and pour it over the filling till 1/2 mm from the top of the pastry.

Bake till the tops are brown.

Let cool on a cooling rack, and then upend the tray onto a cookie sheet.


I find that if you tip it out while it's too warm, there is some warping in the shape of the mini-quiches. But it's still cute! And your tummy won't know what shape it's in. ;)

Meanwhile, I've got some leftover pastry that I'm not sure what to do with. Any ideas?

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March 14, 2012

Best Savoury Pastry Ever


I have always been afraid of pastry. There was just something about it - can't overwork it, must rest it, it has to be as chilled as possible, don't add too much flour...

Over the years I've been given plenty of advice when it came to making pastry, and so my mind just freaks out whenever I even start researching making my own. Store-bought had always been enough.

Well, after working at Victor Churchill, I started tasting amazing pastries, and so now I can't go back to store-bought.

I had to bite the bullet and start making my own pastry. I knew a really good recipe that I wanted to make at home, and it seemed simple enough. There was a slight problem, though.

I mis-read the recipe.

When I had my first attempt, I had added FIVE TIMES THE AMOUNT OF BUTTER. It was also a 30C afternoon, and I thought that the reason that my pastry was falling apart on me was because it was way hot and there was quite a bit of butter. More butter than flour. It really should have tipped me off that my pastry couldn't even be rolled out properly and had to be squished into the muffin trays, but for some reason, I attributed it all to the heat.

The result?

The most amazing, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry that I've ever eaten. But I would never wish that making that pastry on to anyone. I'm not quite sure that the most amazing pastry was worth the swearing, struggling and wishing I had frozen fingers, but I do know that it is worth using more butter than the recipe intended.

Oh, you do need a standing mixer.

And so I present to you:

The Best Savoury Pastry

300g cold butter (salted), cubed
333g flour
1 egg
50g water

Using the paddle attachment (I only had the mixing attachment and the dough attachment, so I used the mixing attachment) combine the flour, butter and egg till the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Then (if you're using the mixing attachment, switch now to the dough hooks) add the water and mix till completely combined. Cover in cling wrap and rest in the fridge overnight.



Simple, right? The tricky part is really the rolling out - you have to make sure that you don't handle the dough too much. What I like to do is separate the dough into three portions and work one portion at a time. Once you start feeling that the butter in the dough is starting to melt, then put it back in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm and work on the other portions. Try to sprinkle on only just enough flour to prevent it from sticking, because the more flour you add the less buttery the pastry is going to taste. And it's pretty darn buttery.

I hope this simple recipe helps you get over your fear (if you had any) of pastry like it helped me.

Let me know how it turns out!

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March 08, 2012

Victor Churchill, Woollahra

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From left: Me, Mark, Romeo, Anthony Bourdain (!), Luke (giving his best blue steel) and Anna

Have I gotten your attention? Yes indeed, that is the Anthony Bourdain! Some of you might know that I've been all atwitter about meeting him, and it definitely has been the highlight of my week.

But before I tell you about that, let me first share with you why I've been so quiet; why I've been neglecting my poor bloggie.

It all started at the Good Food and Wine Show. I had gone for the first time last year, and had the opportunity to attend a charcuterie talk by Romeo. I was (am) in awe by the sheer amount of knowledge and, before I knew it, I had somehow finagled my way into being gifted with the opportunity to do work experience at Victor Churchill.

I immediately arranged to take 4 weeks off work so that I could fully apply myself and learn as much as I can. After humorous taunts from my friends about me probably only being allowed to clean the floors, I was extremely excited to actually be able to cook.


One of the first things I learnt was how to prepare plums. Finicky, ripe, delicate, but oh so delicious blood plums. Theoretically you can just twist them apart and pit them like peaches, but in reality, some of them were so delicate that I mangled my first few. It took me a while before I managed to get little (intact) heart shaped plum halves bountifully piled into a gastronome. They were then poached in a beautiful spiced syrup and left to infuse in the fridge for a couple of days. Every time I walked into the cool room I wondered what would happen to the gorgeous plums and the gorgeously deep magenta syrup they were poached in. I finally did get my answer:


Incredibly crumbly, jammy Frangipane Plum Tarts were the result. The buttery pastry melts into your mouth before being chased by the luxuriously comforting flavour and aromas of the ripe plums and spices. The flavour fills your senses before it slowly fades, leaving you with just the memories of being transported to a rural village where you've just nicked a cooling tart off a grandma's windowsill.

But those of you who know me well know that although I love a good dessert, cured/preserved stuff is really what I get excited about. And boy, did I have a reason to get excited.


Once every so often, Romeo cures whole salmon fillets, and then cold smokes them in-house.

IMG_0680Wood chips get set aflame in a cast iron pan and then quickly extinguished and put into an oven where the cured salmon sits. Thick grey smoke quickly fills the cavity and the salmon magically disappears into the smoke like a cheap magician in Las Vegas. After an impatient wait, the smoke finally clears and the gorgeous, coral salmon is released, dry to the touch but moist to eat, and not at all greasy and fishy like some of the commercially available smoked salmon that you can get from the supermarkets. As someone who has developed an expensive addiction to salmon, let me tell you that after tasting that smoked salmon, I can never bring myself to buy the regular stuff. Usually I can only eat a few slices of smoked salmon before it gets a bit much, but I can honestly say that I'll quite happily sit there and devour the whole fillet with no problem at all.

Besides the food that comes out of the kitchen, there is also the delicious cured meats.




Most of the meats are sourced from people who share the same philosophy as Victor Churchill, but there are actually meats that are cured in-house! There is a spicy chorizo that cures for three weeks that is the most delicious chorizo that I've had. And I'm not saying this because I've seen it made and am hankering after the recipe. This is actually a chorizo that, when it came time to taste the first batch, I was shamelessly eyeing the final piece that was sitting on the bench. And when Romeo kindly offered it to me, I eagerly pounced on it like a hungry hyena. Not my proudest moment, but the things I will do for delicious food.

And I guess it quite sums up my experience. This is but a start to my quest for deliciousness, and what a start it has been. Even though I have so much more to learn, I feel like my heart was filled every day with the knowledge that was bestowed onto me, the patience and generosity that was shown to me by Romeo, and the friendship that was shared by everyone that I had the luck to work with. Too quickly my 4 weeks was over, and I struggled to cling to my final week, willing the days to pass as slowly as possible so that I can extend the whole experience. Truly an experience that money can't buy.

But enough about me, I know that you want to hear about how I got to meet Anthony Bourdain!

Well, in my final week there I saw that beautiful chorizo in the cool room marked Do Not Sell. Curious as to what was wrong with the chorizo - and more importantly whether I would get to eat it - I asked why it wasn't to be sold. And then I was told, in hushed voice, that Anthony Bourdain was coming to Victor Churchill to film No Reservations.

I nearly had a heart attack.

Thankfully my near coronary disaster was averted by the sheer possibility of a culinary dream come true. This is something to tick off my bucket list, and years from now I will be telling my grandchildren that I was part of the team that fed Anthony Bourdain.


A revered yet excited silence fell when he walked in the door. The air was electric.


Camera men were like silent ninjas who were every where at once, which I guess is what you have to be to work on a show like No Reservations.



It was crunch time, and Romeo carefully selected the best of what we had to offer and beautifully arranged it on a platter.


And there's Luke carefully arranging the meats.


The adrenaline was pumping, the anticipation was high, and all too suddenly, it was over. And he emerged from the back room.


For such a culinary rockstar, I really didn't know what to expect. For the most part I was just staring him like a dumbstruck fangirl trying to keep quiet the crazy screaming that was going on inside.

And he was so nice. He complimented us on the food that he had tasted, and very kindly stayed to pose for photographs even though his producers had informed us that he had to rush to the next location. He was so friendly and had a kind smile and a hand shake for every one who had worked so hard to create the experience.

Even typing this brings a slight tear to my eye. I miss everything: I miss waking up at 5:30am, I miss the aching joints, I miss the sore knees, I miss standing there pushing pastry into tin after tin, I miss the aromas of the busy kitchen...but most of all I miss the learning. The knowing that every day that I wake up to go there is another day that I will learn new, different things that will expand and impact the way I cook in future.

I'm so glad and grateful for the experience, and it's something that I will never ever forget.

Victor Churchill
132 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 9328 0402 ‎

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