This feed contains pages with the tag "Food".

On A Knead To Know Basis

Most bread we've been able to find in the USA is packed with sugar or some other sweetner. So I've been wanting to make some myself.

I've never made bread before and most recipes seemed pretty daunting.

Then I saw this no-knead bread recipe that seemed so simple even I could manage it.

Mixed the dough before I went to bed last night and left it covered on top of the fridge. Checked on it this morning and it'd filled the bowl right up to the plastic wrap, bubbling away happily.

After dusting a cookie sheet with flour (way too much) I poured out the dough and sprinkled on some oregano and rosemary.

20 minutes in the oven and then a 10 minute rest and voila!

The whole kitchen smells of herby-starchy goodness.

The bread tasted delicious and most important of all it tasted great with butter and vegemite.

Wonton Acts of DIY

I was oncall this weekend and rather than spend two days working on my computer we had cunning plans for making things with our own bare hands.

Cody and Ellie came over on Saturday and Ellie taught us how to make wontons.

They were quite simply the most amazing wontons I've ever had. Tangy, sweet, savoury and with a wonderful texture. Damn, I'm hungry again now, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Ellie's Awesome Wonton Meat Filler Recipe


  • 2 pounds of ground pork
  • 4 chinese sausage finely diced
  • 1 pound of medium sized shrimp (shelled, deveined and cut into 6 pieces)
  • 1 medium bunch of scallions diced
  • 2 tablespoons of finely diced fresh ginger
  • 16-20 good sized water chestnuts peeled and finely diced (preferably fresh rather than in a can)
  • 5 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons of garlic salt
  • 4 tablespoons of white pepper
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch


Chop, chop, chop... Everything goes into a big bowl and mix with hands. Need lots of wrappers. Feeds at least 10 people.


  • 1.5 liters of water
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • sliced fresh shitake mushrooms
  • baby bok choy hearts
  • 3 thin slices of ginger

To hell with measuring utensils. These wontons are Ellie-mother approved as of this morning.

Making the wontons


  • wonton wrappers - we used two packets of premade ones
  • bowl of water
  • a spoon


  1. put a wonton wrapper in your hand
  2. dip your finger in the water
  3. wet two connected edges of the wrapper (ie. make a V)
  4. use the spoon to scoop a small ball of filler from the bowl the ball should be small enough that you can fold the wrapper over
  5. fold the wrapper in half to make a triangle
    • the filling should be in the centre
    • the two edges you wetted should stick to the other two dry edges
    • use your fingers to pack down the filling and get rid of any air bubbles
  6. grab the middle of the two joined edges and bring them together and press down. this will make a sort of crown shape with the filling at the bottom. Ellie said there's no set way to do this, people do all sorts of stuff.

making wontons is a fun group activity. you can chat while your hands are busy.

Cooking the wontons

  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil
  2. Add the wontons
  3. When they start to float and "look like tiny brains" add some cold water
  4. Once the boil starts again they're ready to take out with a slotted spoon

Cook them in batches rather than crowding the pot

We used about 2 packets of pre-made wrappers. I don't recall how many was in the packets but at a guess I'd say ~30-40. Even though they were deliciously moorish we didn't eat them all and ended up freezing a bunch.

I'm looking forward to cooking them on my next oncall shift.

Sunday True Brew

On Sunday we brewed our second batch of beer, a honey wheat beer. The intent was to try to replicate an Australian microbrew called "Beez Neez". On further investigation at the brew shop it turned out Beez Neez is a lager. That's not really a beer style for a rank amateur.

Luckily the superbly helpful chaps at MoreBeer in Los Altos had a plan. They took their Honey Pale Ale recipe, substituted the malt extract for wheat extract and then swapped the yeast for a German ale yeast called Kolsch. Kolsch ferments like an ale yeast (same temperature range, lag time etc) but has an end result similar to a lager yeast (clear and dry).

I have no idea if it's going to work. It tasted very sweet before we pitched the yeast, which is not too suprising considering it had 3lbs of honey in it. The expected Original Gravity was spot on (we remembered to check this time) so hopefully the yeast do their thing and we'll have drinkable beer in a few weeks.

A Tale Of Cocktails

Our first cocktail party/experiment after our Cocktail 101 course seems to have been a success. Many cocktails served and only one injury. The table in question has been severely reprimanded. Hopefully there will be no repeat performances from our erstwhile furniture.

Next step is scaling up these hijinks and finding a place to store all the booze.

Learning Day

Yesterday was a great learning day. I started a 2 day Getting Things Done course and then went to Bourbon & Branch Beverage Academy for a "Cocktails 101" course.

Both were interesting for different reasons and will lead to further personal development ;)

Lasagna From Scratch Party

One of my favourite food blogs is FX Cuisine. FX is a Swiss foodie and an excellent photographer. His posts always leave me salivating and his Lasagna From Scratch post was no exception.

I've been wanting to make it for the longest time and finally got it organised as a party. A bunch of friends came over and we made a day of making the ragu bolognese and pasta from scratch.

The finished product was devine and our good friend Phil, visiting from Australia, arrived just in time to partake.

The photos aren't quite up to FX's standard but I wager you'll still be hungry after looking at them.

Three In 24 Hours

Our good friend Phil is visiting from Australia as part of his world tour. We've been talking about going to The French Laundry for years and after a few months of planning we finally went yesterday.

It was pure indulgence. We sat down for lunch at 11:15 (after they provided Phil and I with jackets) and noshed, chatted and drank our way through 9 divine courses.

I had thought our reservation was for dinner so I booked overnight accomodation at The Railway Inn. This turned out to be a fortuitous mistake. We spent a lazy afternoon ruminating in our train car (some of us might have had a kip).

After that it was determined that though food was most likely unneccessary we could probably benefit from an evening cocktail. So we headed over to Bouchon, had a few rounds and were in fine spirit.

Phil mentioned to the delightful hostess that if she could spare us a table for three we would greatly appreciate it and later she did. Enough time had passed for us to recover a small appetite. We had a light meal and lingered over dessert.

Ad-Hoc (Thomas Keller's third restaurant in Yountville) has just started doing brunch and we have a reservation for 11:30.

Such decadence :)

Quiet Christmas

Tanya got the unhappy news that her Uncle Paddy has passed away. He had been unwell for a while but it was still a shock. He'll be missed, he was quite a character.

Tanya has flown home for the funeral in Cairns and her parents are meeting her there.

We'd planned to have dinner on Christmas Eve with our good friends Weaver & Andrea (who're East Coast transplants). I'd planned to cook an Aussie lamb roast for Christmas dinner and we decided to stick with it.

I bought a full leg of lamb without really thinking it through. When I got to A&W's place I discovered the leg wouldn't fit in their largest baking dish.

I'd called home to wish everyone merry Christmas and mentioned my predicament to both Liam and Dad. They had very different solutions and I ended up going with Dad's, which involved more knife work (bone the leg out and place the bone on the bottom of the pan) but less violent whacking with a meat mallet (Liam suggested paring the meat back and then breaking the leg).

After making several incisions in the meat and stuffing them with slices of garlic the lamb was ready for a beer bath. I'd picked up a bottle of St Peters Organic Golden Ale and poured the whole bottle over the lamb in the baking tray.

The veggies were 'unique'. Andrea and I had a bit of a communication failure (and several glasses of wine) and the sweet potato got finely diced :)

It all worked out pretty well. Cooking a full leg of lamb for three people was a tiny bit of overkill but it did leave us with lots of leftovers.

The Ritual Of Eating

One of the things I love about trying new cuisines is learning the rituals of eating the food. Eating Asian food with a knife and fork is a different experience to using chopsticks. Shaking parmesan cheese on a seafood dish is considered a grave insult in Italy.

A meal is as much about how you eat it as it is the food itself. The first time I had a dish claiming to be Peking Duck it didn't come with the traditional pancakes. It wasn't until many years later I was convinced to try it again by a friend in London that I discovered how wonderful the dish can be.

Take a freshly steamed pancake, add a dollop of plum sauce, a few sprouts, maybe some carrot slivers and pieces of delectable, crispy duck. Now roll it up and munch away. The textures and flavour are markedly different from a pile of said duck in a pool of sauce served with rice and not a pancake in sight.

What got me thinking about this was the Southern fried chicken at Charlie's Cafe today. I've had Southern fried chicken before and when it's good, it's delicious. Spicy, chunky breadcrumbs encasing moist chicken, usually served with something decadently artery clogging.

Today was no exception (Mac 'n' Cheese on the side, yes please) but it was one of my workmate's who introduced me to a particularly Southern ritual. Eating the fried chicken with your fingers and dipping the piece in honey, instead of something like tomato sauce.

It was delicious. What more could you want? Deep fried food dipped in pure sugar, it's the American dream ;)

Old Wine Is Good Wine

While we were in Brisbane we had the chance to pop the corks on some of the wine we got at our wedding. Five years on and without exception every bottle we've opened has been superb. Luckily we had the foresight to label the bottles with their suggested 'peak' year to drink.

So a huge thank you to everyone who generously donated to our cellar, it has proven to be a most precious and delightful gift. We look forward to sharing more bottles with you all.

A Good Weekend Was Had By All

Friends and Family was truly awesome.

We stopped for supplies in Hopland and visited the Phoenix Bread Company. They make an exceedingly delicious version of fougasse. We were fortunate enough to have arrived shortly after they took a beef brisket fougasse out of the oven. Their website seems to be down but I found an article that mentions the fougasse. Even half a slice was suprisingly filling.

The campsite itself is pretty much in the middle of nowhere (ideal for loud music). Situated on a hill covered in trees and a beautiful ornamental fruit garden, the site is a natural wonderland, complete with a swimming pond.

I was a ring-in judge for the Iron Chef competition on Friday night, which was much more laid back than it's TV counterpart. The food was excellent and the winner, Amber, made good use of the suprise ingredient (limes).

Tanya and I had signed up for some shifts in the kitchen on Saturday and that was heaps of fun. Tanya learnt how to make Spanish tortillas (which looked like a frittata to me) for Saturday brunch. Meanhwile I was on cleanup duty. Everyone was chatting and joking and having a great time, despite a few tortilla spillage disasters.

My dinner shift was a bit less exuberant due to a few people not showing up for their shifts. The people who did show were awesome though and we knuckled down and powered through the food prep. Dinner was even on time.

I'm toying with the idea of signing up to be the cook for a food shift next year. It's quite a challenge to feed 500 people when you're armed only with some variously skilled volunteer labour and a random assortment of kitchen gear. =]

The pre-party on Saturday night was called "Schpank" and you had to be schpanked to get service at the bar. The costumes were many and varied and there was lots of berry infused alcohol to drink (or alcholol infused berries to eat).

The rest of the night was all about the music, with DJs spinning till 10am the next day. Tanya and I lasted till about 4am before we headed back to our tent. Ear plugs saved the day (or night as it were) and we managed to get some sleep.

All in all it was a fantastic weekend and a big thankyou goes out to Matthew, Andrea and Molly who we tagged along with.