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“So…start talking.”

I have never worked with yeast before. Ever since taking up my food blog stalking reading habits however, I’ve grown more and more ambitious, ever tempted by crunchy looking crusts, and tender, air-pocket strewn crumbs. And so, I tried. Using the pizza dough recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which was used by the Daring Bakers a few months ago.

Lessons learned before going into the oven:

a) No matter how good someone is at maths, make them take out a set of scales and actually *weigh* the flour.

b) Double check amount of flour in the recipe before dumping it into the bowl.

c) Even if a recipe says the dough will be sticky, it should still not be pourable. See a) for why it is pourable.

d) Trust the weather forecast. Have something that will warm the area enough for the yeast to rise on standby.

e) A table lamp is probably not adequate for anything more than interrogation.

f) Flour is your best friend, when the dough seems to be binding itself at a molecular level to anything it comes in contact with.

g) Don’t go out the day you try to make pizza for dinner, when you’ve never done it from scratch in your life.

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Adriano Zumbo’s new collection was released yesterday, so we made a quick(ish) trip to Balmain to check it out. The haul was quite extensive, with ‘lunch’ at the Cafe being an extra splurge.

Instore Goodies:

We managed to get a list of most of the goodies that will be appearing at the counter this season, but these are so new that most of them don’t even have names or labels yet! The staff were very helpful in describing them to us. 

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Well, more like the hidden depths of Glebe. The last stop on our day at the Glebe Street Fair, by this time, we were full, tired, and sore. But there’s always room for chocolate, and we felt the need to do our foodie duties…;)

The interior is a little similar to Max Brenners, albeit with a distinctly aged Spanish theme – warm and comforting, padded seats (bliss!), wooden furniture and dimmed lighting. Didn’t quite have the polish of the Lindt cafes, but welcoming none the less.

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16.11.08

We visited the Glebe Street Fest – a day of food, shopping and lots of walking.

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The day was hot and humid, smoky with controlled fires. In the evening, a storm swept through, bringing noise, lightning, rain and blessed relief from the sweltering heat of the day. Settle down with the comforting scents of melted chocolate and flour… Chocolate Crinkles, crisp and sweet on the outside, and darkly rich on the inside. Something sweet, to dry all the tears, trade sweet sleep for fears, as I wait for a kiss goodnight…

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aka Panzanella. This lovely Italian bread salad originates from Tuscany, and is perfect for these lazy spring days that feel far too much like summer. This is just a rough version I threw together with what was in the fridge, no exact measurements I’m afraid. It’s more akin to a bruschetta mix than to a ‘traditional’ panzanella, but everyone seems to have a different recipe, so I’m not overly concerned.

Take a look at these gorgeous tomatoes. The warm weather is back, and you can taste the flavours seeping back into the watery bland tomatoes of winter. In the background, sadly wilted basil, and some bread – Ideally use a well-crusted Italian loaf, seeing as I didn’t have that on hand, ordinary vietnamese bread rolls will do.

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Chop/dice everything up! Clockwise from bottom right, tomato, tomato innards (removed so it didn’t get too watery), minced garlic and basil. Some finely chopped Spanish onion and diced cucumbers would be lovely too!

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Shred the bread (hey that rhymes) into chunks about the size of your tomato pieces. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over sparingly, and grind a little pepper and sea-salt. Toss up, and place it under the grill to golden-ify.

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Makoto, and indeed, most of the Masuya group restaurants (including Makoto, Masuya and Musashi) are our absolute favourite Japanese restaurants. Granted, we don’t tend to go looking around for much (needs to change!), but since Makoto and Miso are just downstairs from home, it’s always so much easier to go there, and be guaranteed of a good meal.

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Salmon and Kingfish Sashimi 

The sashimi here is usually fantastic – fresh and firm. It wasn’t an exception today, except note to self: eat before udon, not after, the temperature of your mouth makes a difference. Would have loved more kingfish, but this is the usual portion size. It looks a bit like a fish in this picture

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Tempura Udon

The udon here is served in a clay pot, and typically comes out bubbling, which is always awesome. I love the udon at Makoto because it features an egg dropped in the soup to be barely cooked – the whites are still custardy and silky soft, while the combination of yolk and broth are such a more-ish and comforting flavour. I wasn’t very impressed by the tempura though – the pumpkin was passable, but by the time I got around to the two prawn tempura, they had swollen with soup and soggy. I tend to prefer my tempura on the side, served separately for that reason. The prawns tasted as though they had come into contact with ginger (not a bad thing, just unusual) and were also a little rubbery, probably due also to being in the hot soup for a while.

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Chicken Teriyaki Udon

Tim wasn’t too impressed with the chicken, though I thought it was okay. The good things about Makoto’s udons are the slippery soft noodles, and flavoursome broth. And the colourful pink fishcakes (naruto?) are so cute and yummy – I stole one of Tim’s and made it mine and life was all good…

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Spider Roll

When I think Makoto, I think Spider Roll and Sushi Rice. I first was introduced to the wonder that is soft-shell crab here, and was quickly addicted. The inside out roll has soft-shell crab, cucumber, red capsicum, lettuce and some sort of tofu/egg/fish…thing (it used to be crabstick, I have no idea what it is now), wrapped tenderly in nori and rice (and I’d kill for Makoto’s sushi rice – perfectly cooked and flavoured), and rolled generously in black roe. A squeeze of mayonnaise and spoonful of salmon roe (also addicted to this stuff) finishes this off – making a dish slightly too big for my mouth, but never turned down, no matter how full my stomach is. In fact, when the discounted special plates came around in the afternoon, we polished another plate off!

Other dishes we love at Makoto:

Soft-Shell Crab Karaage
Ebi-Prawn Sushi (battered prawn served nigiri-style) – absolutely a must if you come in early, when it’s still fresh and crispy
Any of the nigiri (salmon and kingfish are our staples, others include bonito, yellow-fin tuna, octopus, scampi, prawn, calamari…)
Cheese Roll – one of Tim’s favourites, I believe it has smoked salmon in it?
Tamago-yaki sushi – they say that the true test of a sushi chef is in their tamago-yaki – the rolled sweetened egg omelette must be perfectly balanced, not too sweet, and in my opinion, these guys do it well. Also helps if you’re an impoverished uni student (can you say salmon nigiri, inari-zushi & tamago-sushi cheap plates, plus takeaway discount? xD)
Ikura or Lobster Conveyor – A small ball of sushi rice, wrapped in a generous slice of salmon sashimi and topped with either copious amounts of salmon roe, or flavoursome lobster salad.

Makoto is located at the corner of Liverpool St and Pitt St next to World Square. Discounts for takeaway are available, as well as special plate offers if you come at the right times. Plan ahead and leave time to wait, or go early – there’s always a queue of eager patrons.