That restaurant across from Chinese Noodle Restaurant.

I have to admit it. I am a terrible restaurant reviewer, see, I’ve eaten here many times, I know exactly where it is and what my favourite dish is, yet I can’t remember its name. It is just across from the Chinese Noodle Restaurant in Chinatown, and I think that some of the dishes on the menu are actually cooked over there.

Pan fried pork dumplings (from the Chinese Noodle Restaurant)

That favourite dish are the knife sliced noodles.

The texture of these noodles is unique, and totally different to the hand pulled noodles which are also available. They are sliced from a ball of dough, thick and chewy in the centre and thiny and silky at the edge, with an uncanny ability to hold the flavour of the sauce. I remember them from China and have been searching all over Chinatown for this dish.

This version, served with bok choy and braised pork is wonderful. The restaurant is full of Chinese people, slurping and happily chewing and chatting over plates of northern chinese food.


Cumin Lamb ‘hamburger’

Next time, I promise I will remember the name of this place.


***EDIT***

This restaurant is named Chinese Noodle House, as opposed to Chinese Noodle Restaurant which is just across the way.

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Panna Cotta with rhubarb compote.

Sometimes the most rewarding and enjoyable meals are those that are the simplest. Often I will spend hours cooking a meal and the finished product has lost all allure for me. After tasting and nibbling I’m not hungry and however fresh and delicious the meal is, it feels tired and boring to me.

So when I was looking for a quick and easy dessert recently, I wasn’t joking about the quick or the easy requirement. But I also wanted something subtle, something grown up.
Panna cotta. It doesn’t get much simpler or sophisticated than this. Serve with some fresh rhubarb compote (oh yes, I’m getting through that produce) and fresh strawberries and this light, quivering, vanilla-ey mess turns into a delightful warm weather dessert.

Panna cotta with rhubarb compote and strawberries
Serves 8.
3C full cream milk
1C cream
1t vanilla extract (I couldn’t buy any beans, so this had to suffice).
1T gelatine (I couldn’t buy any leaves, so I used Ward’s gelatine powder, and I found it didn’t taste nearly as much as other brands I have tried).
1/3 C caster sugar.

Heat milk and cream until hot but not boiling. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. In a separate container blend the gelatine with a small amount of hot milk, gradually adding more, then stirring into hot milk. Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour into moulds. I used small metal dariole moulds, which don’t require greasing, just a dip in hot water to unmould.
Set in fridge – will take a few hours or overnight.
Serve with rhubarb compote – cook fresh rhubarb with a little sugar and some lemon zest until softened.

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Asparagus Frittata – tastes of Spring

Spring has finally struck Sydney, and those organic eggs and vegies delivered to me only hours previously were begging to be eaten. The asparagus was first on the list, any longer in the fridge and these tender tendrils would start to resemble the woody, tough and wrinkled bunches on sale at the supermarket.

But what to do with them? I didn’t want to adorn them too much, or cooking them much at all. I tossed up poaching some eggs and gently steaming the asparagus, but that seemed like too much work. Asparagus frittata though, this idea was a winner.

Let the ingredients speak for themselves. Cook quickly and lightly. That is what spring vegetables are all about. After the dreary depths of winter, these fresh new shoots and tender and wonderfully flavourful that they require little seasoning.

A recipe isn’t necessary – I just fried some garlic and onions, then beat and seasoned the eggs with their impossibly orange yolks. Heat up some oil, add the asparagus, fry for a second, then pour the eggs and onions in. Stir like for scrambled eggs, then let set. Don’t cook for too long though, the organic eggs are wonderful left a little runny.

Turn out and eat with crunchy seeded toast, and maybe a dressed green salad.

Note: This post is my entry to Eating with the Seasons – SEPTEMBER hosted by Maninas.

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Fresh, organic and free. I’m lucky.

At home, on the farm, we have a process when it comes to making dinner. I’m not going to talk about the wood stove (the bane of my existence when I lived there), but, instead, the produce.

It is my turn to cook dinner. Early evening, on holidays, relaxing. Its a few years ago. I hear the roar of the old motorbike and a lug hits the back veranda. I go out to investigate and everything I asked for is present and accounted for, freshly harvested.

Earlier Dad had asked me what produce I wanted, then at the very last minute he picks it all and speeds it back to the house. In a few minutes it will be prepared, cooked and eaten.

Now I live 700kms away, so the process isn’t so easy, and the produce isn’t so wonderfully fresh, but when it arrives it feels like christmas.

Last week Dad called and asked what I would like brought down, see, this time he was driving to Sydney, so space was not an issue. I asked for avocados, garlic, asparagus. “Sorry”, he said, “the asparagus hasn’t started yet”. So I was happily surprised when a handful of impossibly fresh thin spears arrived. “The asparagus started two days ago”, he explained.

When I was young, it was an avocado farm. I took them for granted, during the season anyone who visited left with bags bursting with these wonky orbs of deliciousness. When I left, I missed them dearly unable to bring myself to pay $2 for one.

This garlic reeks. Wonderfully. Dad didn’t grow this, he exchanged something for it at the organic market where he sells all his produce.

I left the beetroot and nubbly lemons, I had more than I could carry, and now to figure out what to do with my lucky haul.

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Strawberries.

The past few weeks the strawberries have been divine. Heralding the beginning of spring and on sale everywhere. Strawberries, which all too often disappoint, are packed with flavour and unbelievably fragrant.

Standing in the fruit shop, nose hovering about the air holes in the plastic punnets, I have almost swooned on more than one occasion as this seasons offering are wonderfully aromatic. Many punnets have come home with me, to be eaten simply sliced alongside rich chocolately desserts, or paired with banana and mixed through yoghurt, sultanas and rolled oats for a simple and quick breakfast. I have yet to actually cook anything with them. These specimens are just too perfect to mess with.

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