Steamed Mussels with Chilli Tomato Sauce

DSC01393

I never used to cook mussels as it was in my ‘too-hard basket’, this was until I started using the steaming function on my Thermomix. I’ve made these mussels a number of times now and it’s always a crowd-pleaser. I think my friends and family love it because the mussels don’t get overcooked and the sauce is infused with seafood essence. Make sure you have some crusty bread ready as people love dipping their bread into any left-over sauce!

Steamed Mussels with Chilli Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg Mussels (preferably fresh)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red or brown onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 birds eye chilli, I don’t deseed them (good kick & it’s not too hot)
  • 1 tablespoon Thermomix vegetable stock concentrate
  • 100g white wine
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes with basil and oregano (if you can’t find this, buy a normal can of tinned tomatoes then add basil and oregano)
  • 20g cooking oil
  • Fresh herbs for garnishing (optional)

Method:

  1. Clean and de-beard the mussels, place in Varoma steamer (use both racks) and set aside
  2. Chop the garlic, onion and chilli in the TM bowl for 3 seconds Speed 7
  3. Scrape down the sides, add oil and saute for 2 minutes, 100 degrees, Speed 2
  4. Add remaining ingredients, place Varoma steamer on top of TM Bowl, 15 minutes, Varoma, Speed 1
  5. Place opened mussels onto serving dish and pour the sauce over the mussels
  6. Serve with warm bread or cooked pasta

DSC01424

Enjoy! :)

*Foodsaurus

The Village- Potts Point

I was recently invited to The Village in Potts Point to taste their new Ladies Lunch package, it was a pleasure to attend this event with my mum.

Upon entering The Village, we were greeted by a friendly waitress who led us to our table in the open and relaxing dining area which overlooked the courtyard and bar. Once seated, we were offered a glass of bubbly and two small plates of olives and mixed nuts to share.

DSC01338

DSC01374

For the entrée we were served a platter to share. This platter included Salt & Pepper Calamari with parmesan aioli and fresh lemon, Sweet Corn & Basil Cappuccino with tempura cauliflower, Rocket, Pear & Parmesan Salad with lemon oregano vinaigrette and Butternut Pumpkin Arancini with buffalo mozzarella & fresh basil.

DSC01352

The shared platter was a wonderful way to start our three-course meal! The cappuccino soup was sweet, creamy and delicious. The pumpkin cheese balls rested on a sauce with tinge of Indian spice. The well-seasoned calamari along with the fresh salad were light complements that balanced the platter so that it wasn’t too rich or creamy.

For mains, we were given the choice of Seared Fillet of Huon Salmon with marinated feta, rocket and parmesan salad or Crispy Skinned Confit Chicken with warm potato & shallot salad and red wine jus. We ordered both of them so that we could try everything!

DSC01369

DSC01366

The confit chicken had a tasty rosemary aroma, the meat was tender and the skin was crispy as promised. However, I don’t remember seeing or tasting the red wine jus as the chicken was served on a white sauce with three dollops of a spiced sauce. Nevertheless, I loved the chicken! We were also given a bowl of fries on the side, these fries were addictive especially when dipped into the spiced sauce. The seared salmon also had a crispy skin, I thought the flavour was well-balanced but my mum thought it was too salty for her palate.

To finish our meal, the waitress presented us with a The Village’s signature desserts on a Dessert Tasting Plate. The beautifully presented plate had a good variety of desserts to share- white chocolate panna cotta, Nutella chocolate tarts, lemon meringue tart, macarons and a berry coulis on the side.

DSC01386

I enjoyed the different flavours of macarons as they were not overly sweet. The white chocolate panna cotta was a bit too heavy for my liking but I appreciated how it was decorated – the black speck on the top of the panna cotta was actually a piece of Black Sea Salt!

The Ladies Lunch package costs $59 per person. This package is available on Saturdays for a minimum of three guests and for groups of 15 or more on other days. Reservations are essential.

My mum and I enjoyed our date at The Village and I’d recommend this package to anyone looking for an elegant lunch with a group of girlfriends.

The Village

1 Kellett Way, Potts Point NSW 2011
(02) 8084 6057
http://www.the-village.com.au

*Foodsaurus

Disclosure: Foodsaurus dined as a guest of The Village. Many thanks to Lily at Cav Con for the invitation.

The Village on Urbanspoon

Excelsior Jones – Ashfield

DSC01254
Excelsior Jones was named ‘Best New Cafe’ in the 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide. This corner-shop cafe is tucked away in a quiet end of Ashfield, about a 30 minute walk from the train station. This was my first time visiting Excelsior Jones as I wanted to check out what the fuss was about.

DSC01241
There was a queue outside the pink building when my friend Shuv and I arrived for lunch last Saturday and naturally we joined the queue…this turned out to be a bad idea, as others had put their names down prior to lining up so we were waiting for ages without a ticket!

We eventually got a table and sat near the open kitchen where we could see the action. After looking at the menu, we ordered the Cheeseburger with grass fed Angus beef, Gruyère cheese, tomato relish, aioli and fried spuds ($16) along with Pork Hash with fried buckwheat, shallots, poached egg and fresh herbs ($16).

DSC01249

The food took a long time to arrive but thankfully it was worth the wait… the first thing that stood out on my plate were the spuds – chunky, crispy and well seasoned fries! The size of the burger was much smaller than I had expected but the buns were soft and covered with a thin layer of Gruyère cheese. Unlike most burgers at cafes, this beef pattie was cooked medium-rare which meant it was nice and juicy.

DSC01247

I also had a few nibbles from Shuv’s bowl of Pork Hash, this was another stand-out dish and seemed to be what everyone else was ordering. This dish was delicious with bits of pork, potatoes and herbs all mixed together and topped with a beautifully poached egg.

DSC01229

For drinks we ordered an Iced Coffee ($5.50) and the waitress recommended the Lime & Coconut Malted Milkshake ($6.50). The milkshake had an artificial lime flavour so we much preferred their 5 Senses house blend iced coffee.

DSC01239

This unpretentious, hip and friendly cafe was worth the hype and I’d love to return to try the rest of their menu.

Excelsior Jones

139A Queen St, Ashfield NSW 2131
(02) 9799 3240
http://www.excelsiorjones.com

*Foodsaurus

Excelsior Jones on Urbanspoon

Super Quick Watermelon Sorbet and Granita

I’ve had my Thermomix for almost 3 months now, I first saw it in action 9 months ago at a home demonstration. The demo was more like a feast as the consultant whipped up 9 dishes in 3 hours for the 12 of us. I was very impressed by this kitchen appliance and spent the next 6 months thinking about the price tag and doing my own research on this gadget with over 20 functions. What eventually convinced us that this was worth the money was seeing my mum use her “Thermie” daily to make all sorts of dishes- food that she would not have otherwise made if it weren’t for her Thermomix.

So without further introduction, here is my trusty kitchen hand…

DSC01257

Sydney was quite hot over the weekend and I had three boxes of watermelon in my freezer so I decided to blitz them up to make some healthy sorbet and granita.

DSC01264

I have in the past watched my friends use a fork to scrape a block of flavoured ice to make granita- this not only took time but a lot of muscles! The one below took 30 seconds with the push of a button.

DSC01292

30 Seconds Watermelon Granita

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of frozen watermelon (this was approx. 350 grams)

Method:

  1. Add frozen watermelon into TM bowl, place measuring cup on lid. 30 seconds/Speed 10 (gradually increase the speed).
  2. Eat and be prepared for a brain freeze!

DSC01316

Watermelon Sorbet
This recipe was tweaked from Thermomix Australia’s Everyday Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of frozen watermelon (this was approx. 700 grams)
  • 70 grams raw sugar, adjust to taste

Method:

  1. Add the raw sugar into TM bowl, place measuring cup on lid, mill 10 seconds/Speed 9
  2. Add half of the frozen watermelon into TM bowl, place measuring cup on lid, 1 minute/Speed 10, gradually increasing the speed
  3. Add the remaining watermelon, 1 minute/Speed 10 use TM spatula to assist in crushing all of the watermelon.
  4. Ready to serve!

I will share more Thermomix recipes in the future so make sure you stay tuned!

*Foodsaurus

Foodsaurus is not sponsored by Thermomix or Vorwerk (the manufacturer) in any capacity. Foodsaurus is simply a Thermomix user.

Méjico – Sydney

DSC00992

I visited Méjico in Sydney at the end of October 2013 with my colleagues to celebrate Yvette having a baby and going away. Since this is a belated blog post, Yvette has since given birth to baby Joel who is super cute! Hope you are enjoying your time off from work :)

DSC00989

Méjico is located next to Jamie’s Italian in Sydney. From the moment you walk in, you can tell from the modern and classy décor that this place is not your average Mexican diner.

Some of us arrived earlier than others that night, so we waited at the bar area and grabbed a drink. They have a good selection of alcohol and non-alcohol beverages, their Chia Concoctions caught my eye so I ordered the White Nectar drink with chia, coconut, aloe vera and lime ($6.50).

Once our whole group arrived, we were directed to our table where we ordered individually off the menu.

DSC00999

DSC01001
As a starter, I ordered Pacific Scallops Ceviche with avocado, pomegranate, jalapeño, crispy eschalots ($16) these were bite-sized delights, the scallops were fresh and the jalapeño gave it a good kick. I also tried a Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviche with ruby grapefruit, watermelon, pepitas, radish and charred chilli flakes ($16) I preferred the scallops.

DSC01002

DSC01006We ordered their Signature Guacamole served with golden plantain chips ($12) to share, the guac was smashed by a waiter using a mortar and pestle at our table. Although this was their signature dish, it lacked seasoning. On the other hand, we couldn’t get enough of the chips, with some of us trying to figure out where to buy plantain so that we could try it at home.

DSC01007I ordered Tacos soft shells, served three at a time ($16) for main, they were served as a plate of three and you can choose your own combinations. I picked their Seared Ocean Trout, Slow-braised Pulled Pork and Braised Lamb. Ocean Trout may sound odd for tacos, but I asked the waitress which was her favourite and she picked the trout so I gave it a go, I’m glad I took her advice, it was delicious. The other two had good flavours as well, especially when you add some of the sauce provided. My only complain is that the tacos were too small!

DSC01010

DSC01003

My colleagues also ordered other sides to try- Blackened Corn with smoky paprika, queso fresco, parmesan ($7) and Croquetas with sweet potato, cumin onion and manchego ($8) – one word, yum.

I had a good time at Méjico hanging out with my work mates. Although we had mixed feelings about the service, we enjoyed the food at Méjico.

Méjico

105 Pitt Street, Sydney
(02) 9230 0119
http://www.mejico.com.au/

*Foodsaurus

Méjico on Urbanspoon

Muse Kitchen – Hunter Valley

Foodsaurus is finally back from an extended break. I hope you are enjoying 2014 so far! To be honest, I haven’t been eating out much since mid-December when I took the plunge and invested in a Thermomix, an awesome kitchen gadget that has made home cooking quick, easy and fun.

Since I still have a few Hunter Valley posts from last year, thought I’d start off with this post on Muse Kitchen, sister of the hatted Muse Restaurant in the Hunter. Muse Restaurant was closed for a private function on our last day so we drove to Muse Kitchen which is located at the beautiful Keith Tulloch’s winery for lunch.

DSC00887

Muse Kitchen is a small restaurant with an intimate ambience to it. We arrived at midday, when the doors were opened and good thing we got there early as the restaurant was packed within half an hour by people who had made reservations.

DSC00860

DSC00864

We started our lunch with Organic Ciabatta with caramelised onion and aged balsamic ($12) I love eating warm bread dipped in locally made olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s a must to visit and purchase a few bottles of olive oil when you’re in the Hunter!

DSC00867

For mains, I ordered Milly Hill Lamb Sausage Orrechetti Pasta with Binnorie goats cheese, grape tomato, eggplant and lemon ($35) I am normally not a big fan of lamb, nor do I normally order goats cheese but I wanted to give this a try and I’m glad I did.

DSC00868

Peter ordered the Pan Fried Market Fish with braised fennel, blood orange, caper and raisin butter ($36) I must say I don’t remember what the fish of the day was but I remember the dish being too citrusy from the blood orange.

DSC00880

And finally, we ordered dessert. Lemon Curd Stuffed Profiteroles with passion fruit, caramelised white chocolate sauce and pistachio crumble ($14). This dessert was probably the highlight of all the meals during our trip, it was simply amazing.

DSC00888

Muse Kitchen

Keith Tulloch Winery, Lot 17 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
http://www.musedining.com.au

*Foodsaurus

Muse Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Seiobo- Sydney

DSC01180

About 3 years ago, I was having lunch with my friends Jazz and Grace. At the time Jazz was single and didn’t think she would ever get a date. Grace and I thought this was silly and placed a bet with her, our bet was that if she was still single by the time she turned 26 we would give her $100 each but if she was in a serious relationship by 26 – she would give us each $100. It was a deal. Not long after this bet, she started dating a great guy and they got married last year. To celebrate our win, we decided that we would contribute the amount towards a good meal… and finally earlier this month we went to Momofuku Seiōbo for lunch!

DSC01123

Momofuku Seiōbo at the Star is Momofuku’s first restaurant outside of NYC offers an eight course tasting menu for lunch, we booked 20 days in advance online for four people. Some say it’s quite hard to get a reservation, but according to Jazz, it was harder to organise a date with the four of us than to place the reservation.

Walking into Momofuku feels like walking into a nightclub- they have loud music pumping in the background and a dark decor with the use of mirrors and neon lights. The interior of the restaurant features an open kitchen so that you could watch the chefs prepare your meal.

DSC01126

Smoked Potato
Apple

Smoked Potato with Apple was the first dish that was brought to us. The outside layer was crispy, similar to a spring roll. The smokiness was prominent in the mashed potato filling and the gel on the side tasted like sweet apple. The roll was topped with shaved dehydrated apples. This was a fantastic amuse-bouche that got our taste buds going.

DSC01129

Steamed Bun
Pork Belly

Our first course – Steamed Bun with Pork Belly. This is the famous pork bun by David Chang. It was soft, melt-in-your-mouth-delicious, and it did leave me wanting another one…especially after adding the sriracha sauce. But at the same time, I didn’t quite understand what the craze is over Momofuku’s pork bun?

DSC01131

Striped Trumpeter
Peach, Sea Blight

Our second course – Striped Trumpeter with fermented peach and sea blight. The trumpeter was prepared like sashimi but the texture of the fish was quite rubbery. The sea blight was like eating grass. The liquid in this dish tasted like sea water. The fermented peach was probably the only thing we enjoyed from this dish.

DSC01140

Potato
Roe, Leek Heart

Our fourth course – Potato with Roe and Leek Heart. This course was better than the third course. Potatoes were crispy and the leeks were soft. The bits of red bacon-looking pieces are actually a native Australian fruit called Quandong. The only let down was the green sauce which was bitter and slightly overpowered the dish.

DSC01143

Eel Dashi
Octopus, Cucumber

The fifth course – Eel Dashi with Octopus and Cucumber. This was a dish that we all enjoyed and almost licked our plates for. The jelly was infused with eel, the octopus was cooked to perfection and all the components of this dish worked well together.

DSC01148

Egg
Cauliflower, Mushroom

Another fantastic course, Egg with Cauliflower and Mushroom. An amazing slow-cooked egg yolk at the centre of this dish, soft on the inside and firm enough to stand on its own. The cauliflowers were roasted to perfection and mushrooms are the thinly sliced circles you see in the photo. All of these ingredients sat on a layer of mushroom puree – delicious. This was one of my favourite dishes!

DSC01151

Trumpeter
Kohlrabi, Oyster

The Trumpeter must have been their catch of the day… the fish was perfectly cooked. I’m not sure where the oyster was in this dish as I don’t remember eating it and this photo doesn’t help identify it either…may have been the sauce.

DSC01163

Chicken
Endive, Sunflower

Another main dish, Chicken with Endive and Sunflower. The paste on the right of the photo was like a sunflower paste with a bit of deep fried chicken fat (parson’s nose). The chicken tasted very bland on its own, it felt like they forgot to season the dish. I think the point was to smear the paste onto all the components to enjoy this dish. I didn’t mind the taste of the paste, but my friends were not fans..

DSC01167

Curd
Blackcurrant, Mint

Ok, at this point of the meal we’ve lost count of the number of meals… and when this Curd with Blackcurrent and Mint came we thought this was our last course (we  weren’t given the menu until the end) and we began to kick ourselves for Momofuku not having a proper dessert to finish the meal. Personally, I’m not a fan of goat’s curd… so I didn’t have the whole thing. My friends enjoyed it, especially with a sip of dessert wine on the side.

DSC01173

Sorrel
Pistachio, Marzipan

So having thought our last course was our final course, we were overjoyed when our waiter presented us with an actual dessert! Sorrel ice cream with Pistachio meringue and Marzipan. This was a work of art – both visually and in taste, the sorrel ice cream was refreshing and the dish worked well with the tiny berries and marzipan on the side topped with pieces of pistachio meringue.

DSC01178

Salted Caramel & Canelé

To finish our meal, we were served the petit fours- Salted Caramel and Canelé. The salted caramel was soft, tasty and like toffee that sticks to your teeth. The canelé was hard on the outside and soft like cake on the inside.

At the end of our meal, we received a postcard, a menu and a small packet of kimchi to take home. We also went away with memories of some amazing dishes and some really average ones…. but at the end of the day, we had fun celebrating our win at a fancy restaurant :) Thanks again Jazz.

Momofuku Seiōbo

The Star 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
http://momofuku.com/sydney/seiobo/

*Foodsaurus

Momofuku Seiōbo on Urbanspoon

Neil Perry’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

DSC00632

Ever since I bought a stick blender in August, I’ve been trying out different soup recipes as making soup is so simple yet so healthy.

I found this Neil Perry of Rockpool recipe on the Qantas Recipe Archive and gave it a go when I had guests over, I served it with some pan-fried croutons topped with parmesan cheese.

Neil Perry’s Cream of Mushroom Soup (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • ½ brown onion, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • Sea salt
  • 500g mushrooms (field, Swiss brown), sliced
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 800ml fresh chicken stock (I substituted this with my mum’s Thermomix Vegetable Stock)
  • 100ml single (pouring) cream
  • Small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in large, heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add the white wine to pan and simmer until reduced by half.
  4. Add the stock and cook, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until reduced by half. Remove from the heat.
  5. Transfer to a blender and puree the soup until smooth.
  6. To serve, stir in the cream, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice and check seasoning.

*Foodsaurus

Robyn Drayton Wines – Hunter Valley

DSC00763

We visited Robyn Drayton Wines one afternoon in the Hunter, this place is not only a winery but a museum filled with historical photographs of the wine region as well as a cafe that serves Devonshire Tea, raisin toasts and cheese platters all year round.

We ordered a Devonshire Tea ($12) each, this included a large scone topped with icing sugar, strawberry jam, whipped cream, butter and a hot drink (tea, coffee or hot chocolate). For $12 this was good value considering that meals in the Hunter Valley cost double of what you would normally pay in Sydney.

DSC00757

It was a delicious afternoon tea and the best part about it was sitting under the verandah overlooking the vines and the majestic Brokenback Mountains.

DSC00776

Robyn Drayton Wines

Cnr McDonalds & Pokolbin Mtn Rds, Pokolbin NSW
(02) 4998 7523
http://www.robyndraytonwines.com.au

*Foodsaurus

Robyn Drayton Winery Cafe on Urbanspoon

Let’s Do Dessert 2013: Glass Brasserie

DSC01033

Last night I squeezed in a last-minute “Let’s Do Dessert” (formally known as “Sugar Hits”) before the end of October’s Good Food Month.

After going to a farewell dinner for my colleague Yvette (I will blog about Mejico soon!), I went to Glass Brasserie at Hilton Sydney for a late night indulgence with friends who had just finished a wedding rehearsal.

For the first time, I had a poor first impression of a multi-award winning restaurant. We phoned the restaurant 30 minutes before our booking to see whether we could add an extra person to our table, the waitress claimed that they were “fully booked” and could not accommodate for any changes, yet the five of us walked into the not-so-full restaurant and ordered a serving each with no problems.

For $20 a head we were presented with the dessert - Chocolate Delice served with Peanut Butter Ice-Cream & Salted Caramel Popcorn with a glass of Brown Brothers dessert wine on the side.

DSC01029

The slice of chocolate delice, decorated with toffee-like popcorn and peanuts served with a smooth ice cream and chocolate sauce reminded me of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – rich, nutty and luscious. Despite the first impressions, the sugar hit was an enjoyable treat.

Glass Brasserie

Level 2, Hilton Hotel, 488 George St, Sydney NSW
(02) 9265 6068
http://www.glassbrasserie.com.au/

*Foodsaurus

Glass Brasserie on Urbanspoon