Thai Style Pumpkin Soup w/ Tuna

MFF_ThaiPumpkinSoupTuna

Now that it’s getting colder, there’s nothing better than a nice warm bowl of pumpkin soup. But if you’re anything like me, even the largest bowl of pumpkin soup will only keep you full for about 5 minutes. The solution? Add tuna! That’s right. If you want to make your soup more of a meal, adding a tin of tuna and some garnishes is a great way to fill you up! You can even make the pumpkin soup ahead of time and freeze in individual portions, adding the tuna and garnishes later for a super speedy, healthy lunch.

PUMPKIN SOUP
1 tbsp coconut oil

1 brown onion, diced
3 tbsp thai red curry paste
1 large butternut pumpkin (about 2kg), peeled, cut into 5cm pieces

1.5L chicken stock (or use vegetable)

TO SERVE
600g canned tuna in oil
100ml coconut cream
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp chilli powder

  1. In a pan large enough to fit the cut pumpkin, brown the onion in the coconut oil until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the curry paste and stir until fragrant, about 1 minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin and enough chicken stock just to cover everything (you may not need it all). Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and leave for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is very tender. Allow to cool slightly before blending with a hand blender.
  3. Divide the pumpkin soup amongst 6 bowls. Drizzle in some coconut cream, then top with tuna, coriander and chilli powder.

Serves 6

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Mexican Stuffed Eggplants

MFF_StuffedMexicanEggplant

I’m a big fan of Mexican food and love a good burrito, but I always feel a bit guilty after eating them. So I came up with this recipe for Mexican Stuffed Eggplants to ease my carb guilt. Really easy to make, these guys are full of protein and veggies to make them a complete meal in themselves, and much better for you than the real thing (and are gluten free!). Serve them with Greek yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves, or even some guacamole if you like.

MEXICAN STUFFED EGGPLANTS

3 large eggplants
1 brown onion, diced
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
750g mince beef
30g sachets taco seasoning
3 tomatoes, diced
1 red capsicum, deseeded and diced
1 can corn kernels
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
50g grated cheddar cheese
plain Greek yoghurt & coriander leaves, to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 180C fan forced.
  2. Cut the stem off the end of the eggplants and cut in half lengthways. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the eggplant, leaving about a 5-10mm border. Discard the flesh or use for other recipes. Arrange the eggplant cut side up in 2 deep baking trays so they fit snugly.
  3. In a large saute pan, cook the onion in the coconut oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the mince to the pan with the taco seasoning and cook until the liquid appears and evaporates, about 5-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, capsicum and corn and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season mince to taste.
  5. Divide the mince between the eggplant, sprinkle with pine nuts and cover with aluminum foil. Place in a moderate oven and cook for 60 minutes or until eggplant is tender.
  6. Remove eggplant from oven, sprinkle with cheese and place under the grill until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with coriander leaves. Serve warm with Greek yoghurt.

Serves 6

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Lest We Forget

MFF_CheeseBiscuitsToday is Anzac Day here in Australia, and in remembrance of our soldiers who fought at war we traditionally make Anzac Biscuits. It was claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. As I don’t really like the taste of Anzac biscuits, I’ll be making these cheese biscuits instead, a recipe passed on to me by my late Grandmother Jean.

240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
120g cold butter, cubed
60g grated cheddar
50g grated parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. In a food processor, process the flour, butter, cheeses, salt, cayenne, and mustard until it resembles fine crumbs.
  3. With the motor running, add enough of the cold water until the mixture clumps into a ball (you may not need it all, depending on your butter).
  4. Remove dough from food processor and divide into 3 portions. Roll each potion out into a log shape 3-4cm in diameter, using a little extra flour to stop the dough sticking to the work bench.
  5. Wrap each log in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm. Slice logs into biscuit shapes approximately 5mm thick and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle each biscuit with a little extra parmesan, then bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes until beginning to brown. Remove and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes approx. 50

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The Cru in Kew

Cru
916 Glenferrie Road
Kew
(03) 9818 4366

In the leafy suburb of Kew, the guys at Cru are bringing the locals some tasty treats after the morning school run. Peering through the glass it’s easy to feel this place would be right at home amongst the cafes of Fitzroy: it’s got the same vibe that makes it feel like a hidden secret only locals are allowed to enjoy. But take a deep confidence-boosting breath and walk through the door and you’ll be rewarded with some fab fare.

It’s a narrow space, but deceptively big. Grab a seat along the narrow bench opposite the marble counter, otherwise make your way past the bearded baristas and down the narrow alleyway and you’ll find a surprisingly welcoming outdoor area out back.

The menu is inspired by the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The shakshuka eggs – eggs baked in tomato sugo with basil and chilli served with sourdough ($16.00) – are a common sight on menus these days, but are a favourite nonetheless.

MFF_Cru_BakedEggs

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the Middle Eastern inspired eggs with felafel, chilli, humus, plenty of herbs and some real pita bread ($17.00) is something you won’t find everyday and worth making the trip for. The doughy pita bread is a great alternative to sourdough, great for mopping up those poached eggs and hummus. Just watch out for the chilli though if you can’t handle heat – this one has a real kick to it.

MFF_Cru_Felafel

Even the fruit salad ($13.00) has it’s own Middle Eastern spin. A selection of seasonal fresh and poached fruit come served with labneh flavoured with dates and toasted quinoa. It’s a nice, light start to the day.

MFF_Cru_FruitIf all that sounds too scary, rest assured you’ll still find classics like smashed avo on the menu. This Cru’s version comes with minted peas and lemony ricotta ($14.00). Add a side of bacon if you’re in the mood.

MFF_Cru_AvoThe lunch menu is full of baguettes, burgers, salads and sliders with interesting combinations such as the crab slider made with soft shell crab, wombok slaw and lime mayo on a brioche bun ($18.00), or the 8 hour chermoula spiced lamb wrap with minted yoghurt, braised lentils and tomato ($16.00). Add a side of chips or salad for an extra $4.00 if you’re feeling hungry.

The guys are even open in the evenings too, serving up small, medium or large sized share plates to accompany their extensive wine list. Enjoy some pork belly with watermelon, pomegranate molasses, whipped feta and herbs ($17.00) or some potato gnocchi ($27.00) with a glass of Tempranillo from Spain.

These guys are definitely adding a little spice to the quiet suburb of Kew.

Cru on Urbanspoon

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Splurge at The Kettle Black this long weekend

The Kettle Black
50 Albert Rd
South Melbourne, VIC 3205
(03) 9088 0721

MFF_KettleBlack_Exterior

In Melbourne there are a lot of good brunch places, some might say too many. Come Saturday, we Melbournians love nothing more than to pull on our lycra and dash out the door to meet up with friends at the latest and greatest brunch spot. Well, maybe you don’t don the lycra, but I’m sure you are meeting up with a friend or two who is.

There seems to be a bit of a formula though for the ‘IT’ places to visit: industrial chic fitout + smashed avocado on toast + baristas with beards = success. So when a place decides to do things a bit differently it’s a bit of a gamble, but one that is seemingly paying off for the guys at Kettle Black in South Melbourne.

You won’t find any distress timber or exposed brick here. Instead, the guys at Studio You Me have done a clever job at making the space feel incredibly light and airy, which is just as well given the number of people trying to cram their way to a table. White marble is paired with gold trimmings, blond timber and subtle green embellishments in what could potentially be the next big thing in restaurant fitouts. It feels decadent yet strangely relaxed at the same time.

Of course such a beautiful space should be matched by some equally beautiful food, and Kettle Black delivers in spades. The kingfish with potato crisps, tomato, avocado and purslane leaves ($23.00) artfully demonstrates the chefs’ abilities to build beautiful plates of food. But while it’s an attractive dish, it doesn’t quite deliver so proficiently in terms of taste. It’s a bit ordinary sadly, and the purslane leaves may perhaps be more gimmick than suitable accompaniment.

MFF_KettleBlack_Kingfish

While this restrained approach may not work for the kingfish, other dishes are more successful, such as the burrata with raw hairloom tomatoes, burnt rainbow chard and vinegar ($17.00). The classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella is lifted by the sharpness of the vinegar with some added texture from the chard. Again though, the purslane leaves make an unnecesary appearance.

I think someone in the kitchen must have shares in purslane as just when you think you can order something that doesn’t contain the tough leaves, they pop up again on the benedict-style eggs with braised pork shoulder and aerated hollandaise ($17.00). Scrape them off and order a side of avocado instead ($5.00) and enjoy scooping the creamy flesh straight from the skin.

MFF_KettleBlack_BurrataMFF_KettleBlack_BenedictIt seems like just about everywhere you can find a version of a lobster roll, so it’s nice to see somewhere take advantage of our country’s amazing produce and offer a crayfish version instead ($21.00). In what is already a fan favourite, the Kettle’s version still comes doused in mayo (this time it’s yuzu flavoured), but it’s also got sorrel and lime for some added punch. Don’t even start me on the purslane leaves.

MFF_KettleBlack_Crayfish

To keep things interesting, there’s a list of changing specials. When we visited, the crayfish burger was being given a run for it’s money by a prawn incarnation with mayo and jalepeno. A very pretty dish of snapper with heirloom vegetables, burnt onion and buffalo ricotta was also on offer.

MFF_KettleBlack_PrawnRollMFF_KettleBlack_SnapperAs if that wasn’t enough reason to trek all the way out to South Melbourne on a Saturday morning, the Kettle also has it’s very own unique blend of coffee from 5 senses, as well as a range of single origin and filtered options sold from a coffee cart by the front door.

MFF_KettleBlack_Coffee

It should come as no surprise that there are some big names behind Kettle Black. Owners include Nathan Toleman, Jesse Mctavish, Ben Clark and Diamond Rozakeas from Top Paddock, former Two Birds One Stone manager Tim James, and Sam King (ex De Clieu and Seven Seeds).

With all that experience between them, it’s little wonder Kettle Black is forging a new direction in Melbourne’s congested brunch market. The beautiful surrounding and equally beautiful dishes mean they can get away with charging a little more, and after a busy 4 day working week this is just the place to splurge this long weekend.

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon

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