Feb 21- 29th- It’s MKR Season and a Cookbook gets Banished!

Sunday- Gozleme of lamb, mint, feta and spinach with lemonPete Evans’ My Table – I picked this dish because it’s MKR season.

MKR, also known as My Kitchen Rules, is an Australian TV show that’s somewhere between Come Dine with Me and Masterchef.  The premise is that 5 couples eat three course meals at each other’s houses and then score them accordingly.  There are also two celebrity guest chefs (well, four actually now but that’s a longer story) who are forced to eat and rank the meals as well.   The contestants have varying levels of both cooking skills and likability making the show both weird and watchable. 

One of the judges on the show is Pete Evans, an Australian Chef who was originally so famous for his pizzas that when Oprah was here in 2011 she took her audience to a pizza making class at his restaurant, Hugo’s.  Unfortunately, he is now known for being more of a fanatic for the Paleo diet and praising activated almonds.  His Hugo’s restaurants, originally based in Bondi, but later also in Kings Cross and Manly have now shut all but the Manly location.

Anyhoo, I am a big fan of the three Pete Evans cookbooks I have- My Party, My Table, and My Kitchen.  This recipe comes from the My Table book, a book dedicated to food for entertaining.  My Party focuses on cocktails and canapes and My Kitchen is for casual home cooking.  My Table is definitely my favorite.

I’m not sure what prompted me to pick Gozleme.  If I’m completely honest, I’ve only eaten gozleme a handful of times- mostly at outdoor festivals and events.  The Gozleme stall is an ever present fixture at every outdoor event, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Gozleme in a restaurant.  Granted, we don’t go to a lot of Turkish restaurants, so that could explain something.   If you’ve never had a Gozleme, it’s more or less a filled Turkish savoury crepe- only a lot easier to make!   You start with a dough, rather than a batter, roll it out, fill it with the filling (duh!) and fry it for a few minutes.  Definitely one to add to the repertoire.  I served it with a Greek Salad and it was perfect!

Tuesday – Carpaccio of Beef with Thai Flavours- from Mr. Hong again.  And again he didn’t disappoint.  I love Beef (and Salmon) Carpaccio and Steak Tartare.  I’m not one to be put off by raw meat.  This dish calls for the beef to be seared before being dressed with Thai flavours and herbs.   So far, the two recipes I’ve made have been winners- I’d like to try a few more things out of this book- but some of them will definitely take a bit more effort and time than the average Tuesday allows for!

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Wednesday- Ume Restaurant–  We went to this restaurant just before our trip overseas last year.  At the time, it was for a Tintilla wine dinner and it was beautiful.  This time we went because we had a 2 for 1 voucher because it was The Runner’s birthday.   It was good, but it was definitely the better the first time.  Maybe the wine helped to improve the taste of the food but this time we thought it was OK.  Not bad, not great, but good.  I think it was because we loved it so much before, that it didn’t quite live up to our expectations the second time around!  The dishes were still beautiful but  my highlight was trying my first Japanese non-Sake Wine!

Thursday- Tomatillo, Avo and Tomato Gazpacho with Feta- YAY, I got my tomatillos so could make my Tomatillo Gazpacho this week.  It was worth the wait!

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Friday- Thai Takeaway

Feb 27th: Besser– As we like to do on Saturdays, we lunch!  This week we checked out Besser, an Italian restaurant in Crown Street in Surry Hills.  I’m sure it’s a popular restaurant- for dinner.  The food was good and the fit out was great but during lunch, it sort of lacked, well customers to be honest.     The service was relatively good- but they seemed a bit bored.  Of course, they were, there was only one other table there!   The food was really good, it was sort of a mix between fancy and Italian homecooking- I had a steak tartare and roasted vegetable salad which was beautiful (fancy).  The Runner had Turkey Gnocchi (very rustic and homestyle) which he absolutely devoured after his last long training session before his Three Peaks ride in two weeks’ time.

Feb 28th:  Sydney Cellar Door/Cocoa Coq Au Vin-  We ended our weekend- and basically our summer at the Sydney Cellar Door Wine Festival in Hyde Park.  It was a beautiful summer day, and a great day to spend outside sampling wine from wineries across New South Wales.   It’s no big secret that The Runner and I LOVE the Hunter Valley, but we haven’t spent much time exploring wineries in other regions such as Mudgee, Orange, and the Southern Highlands.  The Sydney Cellar Door was a great chance to sample a few highlights from each region and to try a few new wines.   We’ve even decided to branch out and plan a trip to Orange in a few weeks’ time.   FYI- they have excellent Apples (and wines) in Orange.

I also had my first cooking failure of the year.

So, The Runner does this thing sometimes where if I ask him what he wants me to cook, he sort of just says random foods and tries to get me to find a recipe to match.  This week was Chocolate and Chicken.  I could have gone the Mexican route and done Chicken Mole….I should have gone the Mole route in retrospect but instead I diverted to France and found a recipe for Cocoa Coq Au Vin in the Mast Brothers Cookbook.  I’m not quite sure where to point the finger of blame for this one—did I “taste” too much wine and not follow the recipe?   Is chocolate and chicken a bad combination?  Is the recipe flawed?  Is it a combination of all three?  I was willing to take the blame for this one until I read the Amazon.com customer reviews of the Cookbook.  It’s a DUD!  There’s a common theme in all of the reviews- the recipes don’t work!  Phew!  It didn’t help to solve the problem of the 4 pounds of not so nice chicken that was sitting in a pot, however it did restore my confidence in my cooking.   Sorry Mast Brothers, but it looks like you’re getting banished from our Kitchen!

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Hope you enjoyed the extra day this year!  Happy Autumn to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere!

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