Moussaka: A family favourite

MFF_Moussaka

If you love lasagne but want something a little healthier, this easy recipe for moussaka is just for you. Moussaka is a traditional Greek recipe similar to Italian lasagne, but uses eggplant instead of pasta for the layers. Great for using up leftover bolognese, feel free to use your own recipe. It’s comfort food at it’s best, perfect for a family dinner or if you’re like me, great to whip up on the weekend for an easy mid week meal. And if you’re gluten intolorant, substitute the flour in the bechemel for corn or gluten free flour.

1 large eggplant, finely sliced longways
3 cups bolognese sauce (recipe below)
3 cups bechemel sauce (recipe below)
 1/2 cup grated cheese
spray oil for greasing

  1. Make the bolognese sauce and set aside to cool.
  2. Make the bechemel sauce and keep warm.
  3. Preheat oven to 180C.
  4. Grease a 30cm  x 20cm tin with oil. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer over the bottom of the tin. Spread 1/4 of the bolognese evenly over the eggplant, then do the same with the bechemel. Repeat layers in this order until everything is used up, finishing with a layer of eggplant topped with bechemel.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese over moussaka and place in a moderate oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Serve warm with salad.

Serves 4

BOLOGNESE SAUCE
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g beef mince
700g passata tomato sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add onion and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent but not brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the beef and use the back of your spoon to break it up. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
  3. Once all the liquid has evaporated, add the passata and balsamic and stir through. Season to taste.

BECHEMEL SAUCE
60g butter, chopped
1/4 cup plain flour
3 cups milk
60g parmesan cheese, finely grated
good pinch ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of milk and wisk until absorbed. Continue adding milk a little at a time, whisking until all incorporated.
  3. Stir through the parmesan and nutmet and season to taste.
Posted in Dinner/Main Meal, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Som Tam: High quality Thai food in Thornbury

This is a sponsored post

Som Tam
750 High Street
Thornbury 3071
(03) 9480 5276

MFF_SomTam_Window

In the midst of a restaurant and café district, Som Tam Thai restaurant brings high quality Thai cuisine that is equally delicious and fresh to Thornbury’s High Street. Som Tam offers a variety of rich flavours and dishes that will satisfy the Melburnian food lover’s palette

Som Tam drew on the wonderful sights and colours of Thiland to inspire their menu. Their menu may be short, but it is carefully selected with flavoursome dishes using fresh and unique ingredients sourced from the best traditional grocers around Melbourne. Vegetarians are well catered for as are the gluten intolerant, with many options or alternatives throughout the menu that are just as rich in taste and colour.

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Enjoy the fine authentic taste of the Roast Duck Red Curry ($18.90) or, indulge in something sweeter in the dessert menu such as the Sticky Rice with Coconut Ice-cream. ($6.90) Thai cuisine is traditionally enjoyed in a communal atmosphere. In Thai culture, dishes are made to be shared and enjoyed together with family and friends. Som Tam sure kept this is mind when creating the menu. The abundance of flavours available will have you sampling the starters and wanting to share dishes around with all your dinner guest. The Pla Goong poached prawns with Thai chilli paste and ginger ($11.90) would be perfect to pass around the table.

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The surroundings of Som Tam are reflective of the charming scenery and colours of Thailand. The restaurant’s philosophy of preserving traditional Thai food culture delivers a warm and welcoming family environment. The dishes are truly authentic to Thai cooking, simple, flavoursome and made to be enjoyed and shared with loved ones.

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Hammer & Tong good for more than brunch

Hammer & Tong
Enter from Westgarth St.
Rear 412 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, VIC 03065

(03) 9041 6033

What do you get when two ex-Vue de Monde expats decide to open their own restaurant? A casual yet sophisticated eatery of an exceptionally high standard in the back streets of Fitzroy.

Hammer and Tong opened at the start of 2013 in the space that was previously The Brix. “They had very good taste,” says owner Dennis Ferreira of the previous inhabitants. “We basically got handed this very beautiful restaurant.” So the space was left virtually untouched when they moved in – same large windows, same open kitchen, same plants, even the same crockery. But Ferriera and chef Simon Ward have made the space their own, serving up Modern Australian fare with an Asian leaning.

While many may know the place as an excellent spot for breakfast and lunch, it’s worth noting they also have an excellent dinner menu from Tuesday through Saturday nights. The cocktail list is definitely worth a mention – all the classics are there like a Tom Collins, Boston Sour or Kamikaze, a steal at $15.00 each.

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The menu is designed to share, broken into small dishes and large dishes with a couple of sides. Since opening, the soft shell crab burger ($14.00) from the small dishes menu has been a staple. It’s a dish that pops up on a lot of menus around Melbourne, some good some bad, but this is definitely one of the better ones. The crab is crispy, the roll is fresh, and the whole thing will leave you wanting more.

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The smoked duck yolk and potato with chicken crackling & aruga caviar ($20.00) is a good example of what happens when gourmets do bar food. Drag your crispy chicken skin through the silky-smooth mash potato, breaking the egg yolk and scooping up some caviar as you go. It’s a real treat and just what you’d expect from guys like this.

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From the larger dishes, the Lebanese eggplant & paneer curry with angel hair chilli ($20.00) comes served with a grain salad to keep things interesting. Even though it’s vegetarian, the meaty eggplant and paneer are sure to leave you satisfied. It’s quite a light curry, not bogged down with heavy cream, with fresh flavours and a subtle hit of chilli.

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The twice cooked crispy pork, blood orange & star anise jus with curry spiced brussel sprouts and kale chips ($26.00) is one of the more ‘classic’ dishes on offer. The beautifully fatty pork with crispy crackling is well-balanced by the nutritious kale and brussel sprouts.

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But no meal would be complete without the hand cut chips with truffle mayonnaise ($9.50), the decadent truffle a subtle reminder of where these guys have come from. Never tried truffle mayonnaise? This is a good place to start.

MFF_HammerTong_Chips

To finish, the roasted coconut pannacotta with splice curd, kaffir lime and maluka honey flakes ($14.00) is as delicious as it is beautiful. Served in a petri-dish with a good wobble, the splice curd and matcha powder cut through the creamy coconut flavour.

MFF_HammerTong_Pannacotta

If you thought Brunswick st is only a place for hipsters and cheap eats you’d be wrong. Hammer &  Tong brings to the area a sophisticated eatery with serious pedigree. It’s a good place to take friends for a special occasion with cocktails, or for an intimate, casual dinner for two when you’re trying to impress.

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Posted in Fitzroy, Northern, Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

RSPCA’s Cupcake Day

MFF_Header_RSPCAToday is the RSPCA’s annual cupcake day, and so we have a special guest post from Sister E. RSPCA’s Cupcake Day is held in August every year, with Victorians encouraged to host cupcake fundraisers, such as morning teas and bake-offs, and donate the proceeds to the RSPCA. In 2013, Cupcake Day raised more than $1.2 million across Australia, that helped continue RSPCA’s tireless efforts to fight animal cruelty via their Inspectorate, animal shelters, veterinary clinics and educational services. In Victoria, the RSPCA receives less than 3% government funding and so rely heavily on the kindness and generosity of the public to continue their animal welfare work. So have a go at making some cute looking cupcakes and donate to this worthy cause here! – Sarah

MFF_RSPCA_CupcakesIn the spirit of today being the RSPCA’s Cupcake Day I bring to you a new cupcake creation to add to your repertoire – Cookies n Cream Chocolate Cupcakes… Pet Style!

This recipe is super simple and the icing technique is one of the easiest to do, the equation:
Your Favourite Chocolate Cupcake recipe (my one can be found here) + Your Favourite Vanilla Icing + Chocolate Biscuits = Deliciousness

Get creative with whatever you have in the pantry (or whatever pet you own!): plain biscuits for some golden retrievers, gingersnaps for some ginger cats, coconut for little Snowball… Endless possibilities!

It’s not too late to get involved with the fundraising, you can find all the information and where to donate here rspcacupcakeday.com.au

12 chocolate cupcakes
1 quantity vanilla icing
200g chocolate biscuits
200g large white chocolate buttons
200g small milk chocolate buttons
black, white and pink writing icing

  1. Bake 12 of your favourite chocolate cupcakes and make 1 quantity of your favourite vanilla icing (alternatively, use packet mix).
  2. Crush half the biscuits into your icing and stir to combine.
  3. Slather on around 1.5tbsp of the icing onto each cupcake, using a knife and roughly smoothing it over the top of the cupcake leaving a small border around the edge.
  4. Crush the remaining biscuits into a bowl
  5. Take each cupcake and dip it icing first into the bowl and lightly press down to stick the crumbs to the icing, you can be pretty rough with this!
  6. Then turn the cupcake onto a slight angle, dip and turn, so to coat the edges of the icing
  7. Once the icing is completely covered you can mold the icing with your hand and extra crumbs if need be, as I said, this technique is almost fool-proof!
  8. Cut the large white buttons into triangles for cat ears or in semi-circles for dog ears. Push into the cupcakes before piping the eyes, whiskers and mouth and adding a small chocolate button for the nose as pictured.

Makes 12

Posted in Dessert/Sweet, Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Punch Lane turns 20

Punch Lane
43 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9639 4944

In a time where it’s all about pop ups, rapidly changing food trends and no booking policies, it’s nice to see a Melbourne icon stand the test of time. Last week, Punch Lane in Melbourne’s Paris end celebrated 20 years with a small group of friends, family and media, a significant feat in a city where Gordan Ramsay and Manu Feildel failed to make it stick.

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Owner Martin Pirc has clearly worked out what Melbournians want, foregoing the evolving food trends and sticking to quality food and excellent service. Established in 1995, Punch Lane was ahead of it’s time, helping pioneer Melbourne’s renowned ‘laneway dining’ culture: “It happened unknowingly at the time, or maybe it was just by chance or luck… Being young, perhaps naïve and maybe even a little lucky, I settled upon the perfect set of circumstances with a corner block, an old red brick building of a bygone era and licensing laws that allowed you to be more flexible. I think a lot of this, and probably a lot of my career, has been intuitive. It just felt like the right combination of things for me.”

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Having undergone a recent renovation, the space remains as it was with dark timber, moody lighting, and rows upon rows of wine bottles that decorate the walls, creating a space that is sophisticated yet relaxed.

The seasonal European menu is short and carefully selected. Enjoy a glass of wine at the bar with a Prawn bonbon with chilli salt & lime ($5.00 each), Sheep’s haloumi with peppered raisins ($8.00) or pancetta wrapped dates with blue cheese ($6.00). Otherwise sit down and relax and choose off the full menu.

Entrees such as crispy quail, golden raisin & caper salad ($21.00), slow cooked salmon with caramelised yoghurt, bois boudran & sorrel ($21.00), or wagyu carpaccio with truffle dressing ($22.50) will whet your appetite before launching into mains like Black Angus scotch fillet ($42.00),  Roast Aylesbury duck breast ($39.00) or Barramundi and clams in “Aqua Pazza” aka crazy water ($38.00). Just ensure you save room for dessert.

But if you really can’t decide, opt for the “five course tour of the Punch Lane menu” for $74.00 a head.

MFF_PunchLane_LemonTarts

It’s not often a restaurant makes it to 20 years so when it does it speaks for itself. Catering to business lunches, after work drinks, group celebrations or intimate dinners for two, Punch Lane is landmark in Melbourne’s culinary landscape.

Punch Lane on Urbanspoon

Posted in CBD, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment