I have many memories of my mother’s cooking from my childhood, and I still make many of the recipes she cooked for me; Grandma’s spaghetti, Risotto Milanese, self-saucing chocolate pudding and one of my all-time favourite comfort foods, ‘Italian Stew’, a recipe someone gave her that came off the back of a tomato puree can involving beef strips, onions, capsicum, tomato puree, egg fettuccini and about half a packet of tasty cheese. Heaven.
However, memories of my father cooking when I was a child are few and far between. I remember him standing over his home-made barbie in front of the veggie patch, searing sausages and steaks while my mum prepped the classics- potato salad with mayo and hard-boiled eggs, ‘normal’ salad of lettuce, tomato, carrot and tasty cheese, and my least favourite, cold curried rice, with those dreaded sultanas.
The only other thing I remember my Dad making was scones. Or should I say, his version of scones, which is pretty much damper. The ingredients are self-raising flour, water, or sometimes milk if he’s feeling particularly decadent, and sultanas, which he mixes into a dough, shapes into a mound, bakes, slices and serves piping hot with margarine and honey.
My Dad’s not fussy when it comes to food and is most certainly the source of my practical streak, but even I can’t bring myself to simplify the recipe this much. Sure, his method cuts out most of the work and most of the ingredients that make up the scone but I’m sorry to say, it also cuts out most of the flavour. Might be ok for a jolly swagman but it ain’t gonna cut it for me.
Scones are somewhat fiddly, with the rubbing of butter into flour and the stickiness of dough. That kind of stuff is best avoided in my opinion, so I think my Dad’s on the right track. Grandpa’s scones are a delicious compromise. I only tasted them once, when I was 12 or 13, but I remember them fresh and hot from the oven, firm on the outside, rich and fluffy on the inside. It was a delightful surprise as I never knew Grandpa could cook. We slathered the scones with butter and jam. ‘They’re lemonade scones,’ he said. ‘Really easy.’
A few years ago I came across a lemonade scones recipe on Exclusively Food which is a great resource for basic Aussie recipes. This soon became my go-to scone recipe. It consists of only three ingredients (not counting the optional egg wash): self-raising flour, lemonade and cream. The cream fulfils the role usually played by butter and milk, the lemonade tops up the liquid, acts as a sweetener and the bubbles also help the scones rise.
I always judge recipes in terms of the ratio of effort over results, and the results here are truly worth it. The scones come out of the oven beautifully flakey inside, they rise beautifully and have a lovely golden crust. I would love to experiment with other soft drinks- ginger beer and date scones would be pretty tasty. But I can’t go past this recipe so I’ve never gotten around to it.
Lemonade Scones (from Exclusively Food)
325g (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) of self-raising flour
2/3 cup cold lemonade (I’ve also used lemon squash. It really makes no difference)
2/3 cup full fat cream, cold. I used pure cream as it was on special but you could also use thickened cream.
A beaten egg or milk to glaze, if desired.
Preheat oven to 225°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. The oven must be very hot as scones have a very short cooking time.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour to remove any lumps. Combine lemonade and cream in a medium bowl or jug.
Pour lemonade and cream mixture in to flour and gently stir ingredients together. Be careful not to over mix as the scones need to be light. The dough will be quite sticky and elastic.
Place dough on a lightly floured bench and split in half. Continue halving the dough until you have 16 even portions (I got 15, one was a bit of a runt so I broke it up and added it to the other smaller ones). You may need to heavily flour your hands to do this. Quickly form the portions into balls.
Place the scones in the centre of the tray, so they are just touching. Glaze if desired. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Serve immediately, don’t wait!
What’s your favourite family recipe?
We all have those cafés we wander by on a regular basis and think to ourselves ‘I really MUST remember to check that place out one day.’ More often than not, ‘one day’ never comes as we continue in our established patterns and habits, hanging out in the same bars and cafés as we always have.
One of the reasons I started writing Corridor Kitchen was as a means of stemming the tide of oft-walked-by places. I hoped that the cafés I had always wanted to check out would also be of interest to others, and that perhaps they, in turn, could suggest places to me. I wanted to develop a list of places that, in my opinion, are worth checking out.
I had wanted to check out The Kick Inside in Erskineville for months, which in reality probably means about a year. I finally headed there a few weeks ago when I had run out of coffee at home. It was about 40 degrees that day and I felt sorry for the guys working there- big open front window, no air conditioning. It’s not a great place to go in summer as you find yourself sliding down the retro vinyl furniture in a most unrefined matter.
That said it was all worth it when the barista brought me over a little retro carafe of water and a glass as well as the macchiato I had ordered. The heat was a bonus in a way, as I usually have to skull my tiny coffees but this time case my mach held the heat and I read the food-wank section in the Sydney Morning Herald. I glanced around. Photogenic Interior? Check. Good coffee? Check. This place deserves a review.
I arranged to meet my always-5-minutes-early friend there last Wednesday, and when she hadn’t appeared by 5 past the hour I began to think she wasn’t coming. This is not a reflection on my own impatience (although I am generally impatient), but rather her extreme punctuality. I received a panicked phone call a couple of minutes later. You see, the Kick Inside has no signage out the front, so she couldn’t find it, and like most people, she had assumed Erskineville petered out around the former South Sydney Town Hall. The Kick Inside, however, is located up the Newtown end of Erskineville Road, near the petrol station.
Out of breath and apologetic, my coffee companion joined me at my aqua-coloured side table surrounded by blue vinyl stools. The place describes itself as ‘an old skool lounge room’ and that’s not far off the mark. The Kick Inside is a colour-coordinated mismatch of retro chairs, lamps and tables are thoughtfully placed throughout the hardwood-floored interior, the coffee machine and food prep area stretches along one wall, a decor-matching mural in aqua and orange on the wall opposite. There’s a small courtyard and toilets out the back and a blackboard menu of reasonably priced cakes, breakfasts and Panini.
But coffee is what we came for and coffee is what we had. The Kick Inside uses Golden Cobra coffee, stocked by a limited number of cafés. I’m in a macchiato phase right now and my friend ordered a weak skim latte, but she wanted the same ratio of coffee to milk as you would get in a normal sized latte, so she ordered it with extra froth. This rarely works, as I know from my own unsuccessful attempts at ordering an extra frothy cappuccino only to receive a normal one. I gave up on caps years ago as latte-art obsessed baristas don’t seem to understand the concept of froth. Cappuccinos are one third espresso, one third milk and one third froth. Thus, a frothy cappuccino will have more than one third froth, and thus be quite strong. In Australia, a cappuccino includes a dusting of chocolate powder, making latte art irrelevant as all it does is dissolve the chocolate the cap drinker has been hanging out for.
So how was the latte? Perfect. It was extra, extra frothy but there was no compromise on the texture of the milk. And the mach? No shortcuts here, my macchiato was full cream deliciousness, nice and short, strong and rich. This place definitely deserves another visit.
The Kick Inside
(02) 9517 2255
43 Erskineville Road
Tues-Fri: 7:00am – 3:00pm
Weekends: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Do you have an often-walked-by place you’re just dying to try?
It has always amazed me how eager the Sydney food scene is to absorb reinterpret the so-called ‘traditional’ and ‘peasant’ foods of other nations into overpriced, ‘exotic’ wank. Besides the prohibitive prices of foods like tapas, Brazilian bbq and Cuban food, these reincarnations of cuisines which claim to be ‘inspired’ or ‘influenced’ by various countries almost always miss the point of the cuisine they claim to ‘draw inspiration’ from.
In Spain, where dinner is generally served at around 10pm, bars will offer tapas; small, simple, tasty, cheap morsels of food that you eat standing up to stave off hunger and stop you getting too drunk. This fulfils the dual purpose of soaking up alcohol and stimulating thirst. The point of tapas is not to fill you up. It is not even really to have a ‘meal’. People don’t sit down at a table, order a variety of drinks and food and then have them all brought over, eat, drink and pay at the end. In Australia, this style of serving is rare, and tapas becomes just an item on a menu, not a cultural practice.
What baffles me about this mistranslations is that restaurateurs and I presumably have a similar experience when we go to a foreign country. We’ll be walking the streets of whatever town in Spain as the bars will start to fill up with people socialising, drinking and snacking. The overall impression is of vibrancy. Life. Hospitality. Community. I look around me and think ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could bottle this and take it back home?’
Obviously we all view holidays through rose-tinted glasses. But it seems to me that many restaurateurs are viewing theirs with dollar-sign eyeballs. They want to bottle this experience and take it back to Australia, but they also want to pour half of it out, dilute it with water, mark up the price and sell it. They are translating a cuisine completely literally and without any of the nuance that comes from the culture it’s a part of. They take the food of Spain and plonk it down on an Australian restaurant table.
Now, it’s a fair point that Australian diners may not want tapas-style dining, just tapas-style food. Clearly a restaurant cannot force people to order this way or they won’t have any customers. I have noticed though that more and more pubs are serving tapas, and this seems more in line with tapas’ whole ethos.
The most basic tapas recipe is tortilla de patatas, sometimes known as tortilla española. In Spain you can buy it in supermarkets and chop it into wedges. It can be eaten hot or cold and consists of eggs, potatos and sometimes onions. I add garlic to mine but that’s completely optional. Serve with tomato sauce or aioli. Or plain.
Tortilla de Patatas
2 medium potatos, peeled
½ a medium onion
2 cloves of garlic, optional
2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt, to taste
Microwave or boil the potatoes, whole until cooked but not mushy. Leave to cool slightly. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt.
Finely slice the onion and finely chop the garlic, if using. Once the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut them into thick slices.
In a very small non-stick pan, heat the oil on a medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, then the garlic. Once the onion is golden, take the pan off the heat and turn the heat down low.
Add the potatoes to the pan. Mix them gently with the onion and garlic to combine but try not to break them. Pour over the egg mixture, making sure it gets into all the gaps, and place the pan on the heat.
The tortilla should cook very slowly and begin to firm up. Some people like it quite runny in the middle, some like it well cooked. I like mine firm so I leave it until almost completely set, 5-10 minutes.
When your tortilla is solid enough to flip, use a large flat spatula to do so. It won’t need much time on the other side as it is just to cook the top.
So, dear reader, what tapas dish do you crave?
We are told time and time again that one of the easiest ways to introduce people to new cultures if by feeding them, because wherever we go, whatever we do, we all need to eat. So it’s no surprise that the main focus of the 2011 National Multicultural Festival was food. I have to admit that although I was born in Canberra and lived there for the first 19 years of my life I’ve never been to the festival before. So I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from it, probably something like the food festivals we have here in Sydney. I was pretty sure there’d be gozlëme, that’s for sure.
Last weekend my man and I were visiting Canberra for a friend’s birthday and she had concocted marvellous challenge- food golf. The idea was that we all had to dress in golfing outfits and prowl the festival, marking off various foods and drinks as we consumed them. Each item was worth various points and at the end we would tally up the scores and proclaim the winner.
I stuffed things up by being the only one who didn’t get a costume sorted, and as we entered the multicultural festival at 3pm on Saturday, the atmosphere was not dissimilar to that of a moshpit and I began to wonder how likely it was that we would complete our challenge. One of the things I always forget about Canberra, a city where comparatively little happens, is what it’s like to be in the thick of it when something DOES happen. With an event like this, there’s a huge turnout and it feels like everyone in Canberra is there. Apparently, this year the three day festival attracted 100 000 people on the Saturday alone! That’s as many as it usually attracts for the whole three days.
I was impressed with food line-up, which went well beyond the usual suspects. Of course there was gozlëme, as well as German, Greek, Lebanese, Indonesian, Spanish, Mexican and Indian food, but there was also an endless list of national cuisines you rarely see, from Ethiopian to Chilean, Fijian, Samoan, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Serbian, Argentinean and Mauritian to name a few. It was nice not to come across the same stalls that rock up to every Sydney and Melbourne festival I have ever been to. A tapas or poffertjes stall has no place at the Hyde Park Noodle markets, for example, and I wish organisers would take a leaf out of the National Multicultural Festival’s book when they plan such events.
Even though we had a painstakingly prepared list of foods to ‘golf’ we made a beeline for the first Ethiopian stall we saw to grab a castle lager and some delicious injera topped with ‘sauces’, which I think is a good way to describe the way food in Ethiopia is eaten. The injera, a kind of crumpet-like sourdough pancake made of teff flour, is really the star of the show. We had it with a mild red lentil stew and a rich beef stew, with a pleasant heat from the berberé spices but not spicy per se. The injera was pleasantly sour and spongy- delicious!
Then I spied another cuisine not on our list- Philippino. I couldn’t go past a pillipit, a plaited Philippino donut dusted in sugar so my boyfriend ordered us one. He had to ask the stallholder 4 or 5 times because apparently pillipits are also known as shakoys so she had no idea what he was talking about! Unfortunately, the pillipit was not freshly made and was doughy and chewy – kind of like a day-old chain store pizza crust, so I photographed it and we threw it away, not willing to waste precious tummy space on sub-par food.
I was pretty stuffed at this point and needed a break but my boyfriend spied something intriguing at the Greek food stall. Again, Greece was not on our list but the Kokinisto, a meat and onion stew served with chips looked too good to pass up. I nabbed a couple of chips and a mouthful of stew and I’ve got to say it was pretty tasty but still not a patch on the Ethiopian beef stew.
What I really wanted was some Sri Lankan pan rolls or some kind of coconut based curry and that’s when we came across one of the two Sri Lankan stalls. I snapped a few shots of the fried treats on offer, as well as the Korean stall where they were cooking up some bulgogi beef and spicy chicken on large bbqs.
We decided it was time to offset the heat with some more beer and spotted a Spanish food tent selling tapas, beer and sangria towards the Canberra Theatre end of things. The offerings there looked delicious- tortilla de patatas, gambas al ajillo, chorizo and so forth and at pretty reasonable prices. We grabbed a couple of Cruzcampo beers, an easy drinking beer but it wasn’t as good as I remembered. I guess it’s because I wasn’t in Spain and it wasn’t fresh out of an ice-cold tap. Oh well.
We came back to the Greek stall where I had previously seen about 50 people lining up for Loukoumades, Greek doughnuts slathered in honey. I really wanted to get a picture of them being made but as I snapped away, I realised what I really wanted was a plate of these delicious puffs. Having never tried them and still disappointed by my stale pillipit, I joined the long queue which moved surprisingly quickly. The loukoumades were fried, slathered in honey, plated up and topped with cinnamon and walnuts, all for the grand total of $5! They were delicious- crisp on the outside and pillowy-soft in the centre, sweet and sticky with the crunch from the bitter nuts offsetting the warming cinnamon. I have to admit I had more than my fair share.
I noticed that there was a distinct lack of those fenced off little pig pens that have become the norm at NSW events serving alcohol. In NSW, public events require allocated, fenced off alcohol vending/consumption sectors, or else the whole event needs to be fenced off. The ACT has slightly different liquor laws to NSW and as such, although there was no glass allowed (all beers had to be poured into plastic cups), there was definitely a less restricted vibe, although still a police presence. The atmosphere was insanely busy and although it was quite hot and people were drinking, everyone was very laid-back and patient, even with all the lines and crowds.
Finally, we saw a guy weaving his way through the crowd with a shopping trolley full of our least favourite kind of beer- Quilmes. We figured he’s be heading to the Argentinean stall, which we were yet to discover so we followed (stalked?) along after him. The poor guy had a hell of a time getting through the crowd and finally stopped at a Chilean stall selling completos and beer. A completo is a hot dog with the lot (complete) and I had to get one. It had mashed avocado, fried onions, mayo and American mustard and I added pebre, a Chilean salad/salsa. Disgustingly delicious. They also had a selection of Chilean, Argentinean and Mexican beers but none were cold yet as they’d only just been unloaded so we headed back to the Ethiopian stall and grabbed another beer and some Indonesian satay sticks from the Indo Café stall. Tender and charred, they were a perfect finish to a 5 hour meal. All in all it was a grand day, although we had no chance of winning food golf.
So, dear reader, what’s you fave festival food?
Campos’ second Sydney store is nothing special from the outside. Blink and you’ll miss it, as the old saying goes. And in fact, I did- for three whole months. It was only when I came out of Dan Murphy’s a couple of weeks ago that I noticed a café across the road, and headed over to check it out. ‘I think it’s a real Campos,’ I marvelled to my boyfriend, meaning it’s not just some café that stocks Campos but it is actually a coffee bar they own and run. We had to give it a try.
Even though I’m quite capable of making my own coffee, I’ve got to admit my heart skipped a beat at the thought a of a solid, reliable coffee shop walking distance from my house, maybe with somewhere nice to sit rather than our slowly deteriorating, floods-when-it-rains, overpriced terrace. On entering the store I was not disappointed. Polished concrete floors, exposed brick, high ceilings, industrial fittings, floor to ceiling windows – can I move in here?
You’ll find Don Campos at ‘The Fountain’, a newly gutted and refurbished warehouse on Fountain Street, Alexandria that’s been subdivided into yet-to-be-leased retail space. Right now Campos is the only tenant on the ground floor so there’s an eerie sense of space. You can take a seat at one of their trademark annoyingly high stools or sit outside surrounded by industrial bleakness but don’t worry, this area is well on its way to full gentrification á la Danks Street.
As with Campos’ Newtown store, you order and pay at the counter and the staff bring the coffee to your table. Food is self serve at the time of ordering and there’s a filtered water tap embedded in a window-side bench if you need your thirst quenched. The menu is minimalist- miniature sandwiches and jewel-like cakes encrust the front counter. We got our coffees quickly, although there was a bit of a wait between them, which I always find a tad odd, especially as we ordered a macchiato and a piccolo latte.
The emphasis here is well and truly on the coffee, which is as it should be. There are various blends and single origins to try, as well as Campos’ sparkling long black which I’ve yet to sample. Don Campos claims to be Sydney’s first Siphon Bar, siphon coffee being a coffee geek’s dream fusion of coffee and chemistry which is super trendy these days. So don your hipster specs and have a go. Or let these guys do it for you.
The verdict? Delicious. These guys made my dream macchiato, a drink which is known for being slightly different everywhere. I like mine with a decent amount of foam and a dash of milk. I’ve visited Don Campos three times in two weeks and all of my coffees have been a sight to behold, swirls of smooth, perfectly textured milk and a crema-rich coffee shot. The first time I went I had their dark City blend, which was fantastically rich and dark without being bitter. The other times I’ve been I had what I assume was their Superior Blend, which I sometimes buy pre-ground for home use. I found that less impressive, lacking the punch I was after.
There is admittedly a lot of hype around Campos as a brand and, as with all hype, take it with a grain of salt. I will say that they choose which cafés they supply very carefully, in accordance with their ‘charter’, and I can also honestly say I have never had a bad Campos Coffee. However, that doesn’t mean every single coffee I’ve had from them has been fantastic. In the case of Don Campos, you can always send it back if it’s not.
Shop 2, 21 Fountain Street,
Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9690 0090
Weekdays: 6:30am – 3:30pm
Weekends: 8:00am – 4:30pm
I am ashamed to admit that the only thing I remember of Cyclone Larry is that it meant I could no longer afford bananas. Suddenly they were a luxury item at around $14/kilo. I remember the café I worked at having to pay more for a loaf of banana bread than I’ve seen before or since. What I didn’t know at the time was that my definition of banana may differ from that of the major supermarkets. But more on that later.
With all these natural disasters recently, there seems to be one issue (besides donations and tax levies) that the media uses to relate to those of us on the outside looking in: food prices. Articles on the impact of flooding and cyclone Yasi on fruit, vegetable and sugar cane crops in the immediate future and on the price of winter produce in the months to come, not to mention the loss to our coal and tourism industries, abound.
Obviously, fears are always more newsworthy than assurances. Various experts with clashing opinions are consulted, from economists to heads of major corporations to government officials, all asked to comment on or forecast the impact of these disasters on the average Australian household. Statistics are wheeled out, requoted, tweeted and blogged as people attempt to arm themselves with fact as a way of warding off impending doom.
Right now its guesstimate city as to what the outcome will be, but as Queensland accounts for 28% of Australia’s fruit and vegetable production, there is no doubt that there will be an impact. Lettuce, tomatoes, bananas and sugar cane will be affected. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, 60% of Australia’s sweet potato, spring onions, mandarins and zucchini and 80% of Australia’s beetroot comes from flood-affected areas. For these items and more, experts are suggesting substitution (for example, using cabbages instead of lettuce), but warn that the ability to substitute produce will lessen as supplies dwindle and that paying more for fresh produce is inevitable.
Just to make it a tad more complex, experts have pointed out that prices had already increased quite significantly from September to December for reasons wholly unrelated to natural disasters. On top of that, even after that impact of the floods and cyclone passes, prices will continue to climb, as rapid growth of immerging economies increases the demand for food.
For an added level of complexity, Coles and Woolworths have ‘relaxed’ their prohibitive quality standards when it comes to appearance, meaning that so-called ‘ugly’ fruit will be temporarily permitted on their pristine shelves. This practice forces us to question the value of such standards and whether it leads to artificial inflation of prices in major supermarkets. Farmers have long argued that there is actually an oversupply of produce on the market, but the major supermarkets reject it on cosmetic grounds, with farmers often overproducing to get perfect fruit and then selling off the excess at a discounted price. According to Brisbane website foodconnect, each year 100,000 tonnes of bananas are chopped up and spread over banana plantations as fertiliser.
If I were a proper food blogger, I’d give you a recipe right now using cheap, non-flood affected produce and wait for all the commenters to compliment me on my ingenuity. Or I’d tell you all to start growing your own lettuce/tomatoes/bananas/sugarcane, lazy so-and-sos. Or I’d extol the virtues of farmers markets, claiming that the Duopoly of Australian Supermarkets is evil and anyone who shops there just as bad. But none of that is for me. What I will suggest is that you read the specs for Woolworths Grade 1 bananas here and have a think about whether or not any of them seem relevant to you. These are the kind of framesorks that determint what we see on our supermarket shelves, and what get used as fertiliser.
Keep in touch!
By PDGACO payday loan
Popular posts this month…
- 3 great hole-in-the-wall CBD Cafes posted on April 13, 2012
- Review – Philips Saeco Intelia posted on January 10, 2012
- Café Review – The Grounds of Alexandria posted on April 4, 2012
- Kosher Whole Orange Cake posted on July 5, 2011
- Lau’s Ultimate Corn Fritters and the four fritter truths posted on March 1, 2013
- Eggplant Parma and Family Recipes
- Pigeonhole Gatherings
- On Healthy Eating – 5 tips from a food blogger
- The National Multicultural Festival 2013, Canberra
- Black Coffee Revolution – Get Brewing!
- Lau’s Ultimate Corn Fritters and the four fritter truths
- Café Review – Naked Espresso, Melbourne CBD
- Black Coffee Revolution – Aeropress
- Café Review – Excelsior Jones, Ashfield
- Black Coffee Revolution – Cold Drip
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Australia License.
Disclaimer:All opinions in this blog are mine, an everyday, real-life person. I do not claim to be an expert on anything. I do not accept payment for reviews and nor do I write sponsored posts. From time to time I give away products and experiences to my readers, all competitions have completely arbitrary rules, all decisions are final and all prizes awarded as I see fit.