Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mad Raven Pizza Deluxe ... gourmet pizza comes to Kallista!

 Following on from my previous post and a fellow blogger's rave reviews of "the raven" - I also simply must gush about the new food sensation that's descended on our fair town of Kallista.

A hallmark of a good restaurant and accommodating chef is the vegetarian menu.  Mad Raven flapped in last Friday and so far has drawn many locals out of their cosy fireplace-warmed homes to treat their tastebuds to a refreshing menu of gourmet pizza.  The "Carnivore" menu features toppings like "Sweet Pork", "Lamb Boreka" and "Moroccan Prawn Chermoula".  But the Vego menu is where the fun really begins.  "Margarita loves Mr. Garlic", "Smoked Tofu Parmigiana" and "Pumpkin Perfection" are but a few of the tantalising options. 

Hubby and I skipped across Monbulk Road to the Kallista Cellars to grab a bottle of cleanskin Merlot, and bounded back, eagerly waiting outside the front door of the restaurant to the quizzical looks of the waiter and chef, who were still just opening the doors (it was 5.30 and we were very hungry!) - but they were nice enough to allow us inside to get out of the frosty Dandenongs night air.  The restaurant itself is quite small:  two booths accommodating four people each inside, and some outside booths for warmer nights - or those too late to snag an indoor seat.  The decor is homely and comforting with interesting nick nacks possibly from the quirky antique store next door, with cool jazzy tunes playing in the background.  Our young waiter was eager to assist, very knowledgeable of the menu and, it must be said, a sweetheart. 

We chose to share an entree of "Teriyaki Saganaki Prawns" which came out in a hot saganaki dish - the most delicious concoction of grilled prawns, resting on juicy, salty nori sheets and swimming in a ginger, spring onion and sweet teriyaki sauce, topped off with fresh coriander leaves.  The combo of salty, sweet and the fresh zing from the coriander was truly wonderful and devoured before I could even think of taking a photo.  For the main, Mr T went with the "Goa Chicken" pizza, with spicy chicken red onion and yogurt dressing with a healthy topping of fresh coriander.  I went with the "Hot Pesto" - my idea of pizza heaven including all of my favourite toppings:  pesto, mozzarella, goat's cheese, loads of fresh sliced chilli, sambal, red onions and ... anchovies. 

After smacking our lips and devouring our pizzas, against our better judgement we shared a dessert:  "lemon curd mousse tart" which was every bit as delicious as it sounds.  It came topped with a generous pile of persian fairy floss and some double cream on the side. 

A new restaurant pops up in the main street of our sleepy little town and as if that's not exciting enough - it turns out to be one of the loveliest I've ever had the pleasure of eating in.  And I've eaten in some lovely restaurants, so that's really saying someting.

Cheers,  K_Bom

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My favourite naughty foods

Pizza and chocolate.  Not together obviously, although I suppose you could do a nice chocolatey pizza like the one at Max Brenner's ... mmm ... where was I??

Oh. Yes.  My two favourite foods that are well and truly in the "naughty" category would have to be pizza and chocolate.  Unfortunately I don't have the metabolism of a hummingbird so I do try to be a good girl and keep them both to a minimum. 

Many, many years ago I worked evening shifts in a small but very busy country pizza restaurant.  I would work for five or six hours in the kitchen and go home absolutely reeking of tomato paste, melted cheese and ham; the smell would embed itself in my hair, clothes and skin - and I went off pizza for quite some time.  Nothing against the place as it was extremely popular and the pizza was excellent (I happily ate there before I got the job).  Something about how mechanics' cars are always overdue for a service.  Or someting like that.  Anyway, I got over my pizza aversion soon enough and have since become a coinnosseur of sorts.  Barbara, local Vintage Cookbooks shop owner, recently blogged about a new gourmet pizza restaurant that's opened up in my little town in the hills - pardon my excitement but this is HUGE news, because there was only one dinner restaurant in the town before that, and becuase I just LOVE pizza's which are a bit 'out there'.  I'll keep you posted as I'm sure I'll be eating there soon.

The best negotiation between eating the usual dripping-with-fat-pizza-shop-pizza and the weight watchers cardboard version, has got to be making your own from scratch.  You can use healthy toppings and low fat mozzarella cheese which pretty much tastes the same as regular.  Tonight I gave my new Kitchenaid mixer a workout and used the dough-hook to create a lovely pizza dough, and made pizzas for my husband and I using our favourite toppings:  white anchovy+vegetable for me, and peking duck+vegetable for him.  I've put him on a mission so that we don't suffer soggy bases in future:  a terracotta tile for the oven.

The next thing I baked today was a downright disgustingly gooey chocolate and raspberry brownie, using the recipe from a Donna Hay book ("Instant Entertaining").  Having the raspberries is an amazingly clever addition as the acidity and tartness cuts through the rich chocolate beautifully.

My excuse is that I'm booked in with a friend's church to help cater a gourmet three course meal to 14 dinner party guests - all in the name of some good old fashioned fundraising.  So at the moment I'm testing out various sweet and savoury things to ensure we get it right on the night.  And so I don't completely gorge myself on all of the finished products, I'm taking them into work to tempt the tastebuds of my colleagues instead. 

You know the drill; let me know if you would like a recipe or two... and if you like my blog, please subscribe!

Cheers, K_Bom x

Mushroom, Potato & Leek soup

One of the items on the basic shopping list I gave to my husband this morning was "olive oil - decent".  Normally I have plenty of assorted bottles of the stuff in the pantry - given as gifts or sourced at various foodie markets or the odd vineyard.  But as I planned to spend today in both the kitchen and my pj's, taking a leisurely trip down into the Yarra Valley wasn't on the cards.  When he asked what would constitute "decent" from the local supermarket, I showed him the dregs of the last bottle of Cobram Estate (purple lable) and expected he'd simply buy another. 

He came back with three bottles of CE - one of each flavour - and with a proud flourish, lined them up on the kitchen counter.  We conduct a taste test using some Phillippa's organic sourdough to soak up the liquid gold.

We need to use up the sourdough today; what better way than to soak it up with a lovely warming winter veggie soup?  Vegetarian food comes to mind not because I'm a staunch non meat eater (although I think I could be without too many dramas) but because I have really been craving veggies lately.  I also have several vegetarian/vegan friends (and readers).  I decided to use some of the beautiful leeks from our garden to put together a lovely potato and leek soup with big chunks of swiss brown mushrooms to 'beef' it up.  It turned out really well - silky smooth with a nice tang courtesy of a bit of lemon juice.


-  500g peeled/chopped potatoes (anything suitable for mashing)
-  two leeks, cleaned and white part sliced
-  olive oil
-  250g swiss brown mushrooms, chopped into quarters (don't peel!)
-  3 cups vegetable stock
-  2/3 cup cream with juice from half a lemon mixed in (or light sour cream or low fat milk for the diet-conscious!)


In a large saucepan, heat some olive oil and saute the leeks until soft.  Add the potatoes and stock, bring to the boil then cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 mins until potatoes are cooked; remove from heat.  In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in another pan with some olive oil until just softened, set aside.  Put the potato mixture into a food processor and blend, or use a stick blender until smooth.  Add the cream/sour cream/milk mixture and stir well over a low heat.  At this point add your seasonings - personally I only needed to add a little white pepper but no salt, as the lemon juice seems to give it just enough flavour.  Serve in bowls with a drizzle of your favourite olive oil (I used CE extra virgin "fresh & fruity" blend) with a generous pile of mushies on top.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Windsor High Tea & Chocolate Degustation

You must excuse this post for being a bit rambling and incoherent as I've spent the better part of this weekend consuming, and being consumed by, chocolate.

The weekend kicked off with a visit to the Windsor - a belated birthday present from bestie V - high tea seated amongst a gaggle of rather well dressed and heavily made up screeching women, all stuffing their faces on devonshire tea, french champagne, finger sandwiches, mini quiche/pies, made-to-order crepes and a mountain of assorted sweets.

I entered the beautiful restaurant at 111 Spring feeling just a tad under-dressed in my "good" jeans, new black cowl-neck knit and my face naked of makeup; finding myself juxtaposed against a room full of designer gear, stillettos, bling-y handbags and gargantuan earrings.  I soon forgot myself however, setting eyes on the dessert buffet and beginning to drool quite embarrassingly.  Sage advice from friend/colleague D was delivered beforehand:  "don't eat before; don't eat after" - I was immediately grateful for having followed the first part of the instruction. 

What blew me away the most was the dessert buffet.  So busy was I elbowing away the stilletto-wearers to get first pick of the mille fuille tower and virgin slices of the many cakes, I did not take a photos of the buffet in its entirety; rather just my plate with a modest assortment of my favourites: creme brulee, pistachio almond cake(tte), some sort of mousse pudding, and my AB-solute favourite - lemon meringue tart.  I will quietly admit that I went back more than twice, as did V (although she had the excuse of eating for two).  I would also like to say that I went home, all full and happy without eating any dinner - but that would be a big fat lie.  Later on my husband and I went out to dinner, where I ate both an entree and main course (Italian, no less).  I am truly ashamed.

This morning I awoke with chocolate on the brain - you'd think that Saturday's experience would have put me off sugar and cocoa for a while but noooooo, I got out my winter Donna Hay mag and some of my beloved dessert-y cookbooks settling on not one, but TWO things to bake.  First up was Donna's chocolate layer cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting (I justified it by promising myself I'd take it to work for D's birthday) and secondly, a mascarpone chocolate tart.  The tart was something I just HAD to do, as I needed to practice the recipe for an up-coming dinner party (honest!)

Okay, so the cake doesn't quite look as good as one of Donna's creations.  But doesn't it look just delish in all its ugly glory?

The tart looks much nicer.  I served up a slice to my non-calorie-counting husband along with a quenelle of Maggie Beer icecream.  I took a forkful from his plate and it was ... incredible. 

*undoes my jeans* ... time to watch Masterchef.  :-)

PS:  if you'd like recipes to either of the two chocolatey creations, just leave a comment.