Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Snap it - red

Red. My fave colour and this week's Snap It topic. I'm a little addicted to these photography games! 

Here are some of my favourites from my camera roll, just because :)

Check out some more Snap It red pics at Faith Hope & A Whole Lotta Love

Have a great week!

Larissa x

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Breakfast Club - Laneway, Cammeray

One of the fun things about moving a couple of postcodes over has been exploring my new hood on foot. It’s hilly, but hey, I eat a lot of cake.

I find you discover the best of anywhere by simply walking around. Like these community herb pots placed along a back street with a sign saying, “pick on your way home.”

It’s how I found Laneway, my favourite of the local cafes. Ducking off the main street through a little square tucked between a carpark and a laneway, I came across its signature black and white striped awning. 

It spoke to me. It said: “This is your kind of place. Order a coffee.” So I did. And it was gooooood

I have been back many, many times since, creature of habit that I am. On my last visit, I brought along my little stylist sister, Dani, and Master N as honorary members of the Breakfast Club. And the time before that, I managed to get Mrs BeaSpoke Quilts and her hubby out of their own leafy haven to join me in mine.

The coffee was great, as usual, and it was ordered as soon as we sat down. A bottle of water and glasses were placed on the table without us having to ask. It’s nice when that happens isn’t it?

From the yummo menu, Dani ordered corn and coriander fritters with avocado salsa, bacon and roasted tomato, with the addition of a poached egg.

I had the slow baked beans with smoked ham hock and soft poached egg. That’s my ultimate breakfast right there. Well, it would’ve been if the toast had been buttered and it included two eggs instead of one but that’s just me griping. The beans were soft and rich and the egg was poached nicely. I was pretty happy.

Dani’s corn fritters, which I’ve had before, were not too pancakey as some can be. With the avocado and bacon, they’re really delicious. Another small gripe: the tomato is halfway to being hard and hasn't been roasted long enough. Surely no one ever eats warmish, slightly hard tomato? Am I wrong? Why do cafes persist with the roasted tomato thing?

Master N, having already scoffed a bowl of porridge earlier at home, had a serve of house made pear and raspberry bread with ricotta for his morning tea. It was buttery and fresh and he polished off every morsel, bar the piece I snuck, then went looking for crumbs.

He also very much rates the babycinos here. Except that they give one marshmallow instead of two, like some of his other favourite haunts. He looks around each side of the cup, searching for the other one in case he’s missed it :) 
He makes me laugh.

The service on the whole is friendly and efficient and the bill is reasonable in my book – about $60 for four coffees, a babycino, two delicious brekkies and a serve of pear and raspberry bread.

Laneway also does a fab lunch. A few of my favourite picks from the menu: 

Slow cooked lamb and pumpkin salad with minted yoghurt and pomegranate
Pulled pork sandwich with chips
Grilled haloumi salad

Laneway's namesake laneway
Not too many people know about it, and maybe the locals want to keep it that way, but for anyone on the north side of Sydney, it’s worth venturing further along Miller Street than Stockland and seeking it out.

5/457 Miller St, Cammeray
Ph: 02 9460 1602
Open for breakfast/lunch 7 days
No website but the cafe’s details are listed on Urban Spoon and Eatability.

In the mornings, Master N and I usually take a walk via Laneway and end up at our local park. 

Have you ever stumbled across a special cafe, park or shop while wandering around your neighbourhood?

Larissa xx

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Man Pies

It’s easy to love autumn. The crisp minty mornings, the array of beautiful colours on the trees and those first cravings for comfort food.

On my table in the past couple of weeks: slow-baked lamb shanks, pea and ham soup, Moroccan beef shin stew. And these hearty steak and mushroom pies (recipe below).

If, as Mr LP says, quiche is really called Lady Pie, then surely these pies, rich in beefy Stout flavour, are the manly equivalent?

Mr LP has been busy juggling study, work and rugby commitments lately so I thought I would spoil him a bit with man pies. He got home from training and practically inhaled one!

Once the meat is done, it’s easy to convert what is essentially a delicious stew into equally delicious pies. Especially when you cheat by using pre-made puff pastry, as I did (sorry, I realise this is a food blog but time is precious and that puff stuff is a bitch to make)!

Speaking of man pies, my man made me a spectacular pie (ok, tart) on Mother’s Day. Remember how he was up for the challenge of a Heston Blumenthal chocolate and passionfruit tart? Well, he nailed it and then some.

And not just that, he chefed an entire lunch for my Mum, Nan, sister, aunty, uncle and nephews too!

We three generations of mums were more than spoilt with lobster tails for entree followed by Maggie Beer’s lemon and tarragon roast chicken and then That Tart for dessert.

I may have been a little tipsy by the end of the afternoon, care of the pomegranate cosmos my little sister Dani was mixing!

Decorations and table by my clever little stylist sis!

It was wonderful to have everyone together around a laden table while I relaxed in the sun and watched my little one run around with his cousins.

My two boys. Lights of my life. More man pies on the menu around here!

Larissa xx

Steak and mushroom "Man Pies"

Makes 6 individual pies (you will need pie tins or foil pans), one large pie or a dozen mini pies

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
250g (about 8 medium) Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
500g chuck steak, chopped into casserole sized chunks
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
300mls Guinness
1 tbsp tomato paste
¾ cup beef stock
6 sheets quality all-butter puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked

Preheat oven to 160C.
Heat a generous glug of olive oil and a knob of butter in a heavy-based oven-proof casserole pan.
Gently fry the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and herbs until soft, golden and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
Toss the beef in the flour to coat and shake off any excess.
Turn the heat to medium-high and brown the beef in the same pan you used for the vegies. Fry in batches if the pan is too crowded. You don’t want to stew it; you want it to be nicely browned and tasty.
Add the Guiness to deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any bits stuck to the bottom.
Add the beef stock and tomato paste and give it a stir. It should be simmering nicely.
Add the vegies back in along with the mushrooms and stir again.
Season with salt and a good grind of black pepper. 
Bring it back to a simmer and then transfer to the oven for 2 hours, checking and stirring every 40 mins or so.
It’s done when the beef is tender and the sauce is gravy-like. If you think it’s too sloppy for your pie, put it on the stove (hob) again, uncovered, and simmer until it reduces to your preferred consistency. I left mine overnight in the fridge so it was perfect to use the next day.

For the pastry, preheat oven to 200C.
Cut out your pie shapes, top and bottom, from the thawed pastry sheets (I used a slightly larger bowl than my pie tins as a guide and traced around it with a knife. This allowed me to make two pies per sheet of pastry).
Press the bottom pastry halves into your pie tins, cover with baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans or rice. Blind bake for 10 mins.
Remove the baking weights and paper.
Place filling in the pie shells and cover each one with a top half of pastry.
Stab each pie a couple of times on top to let out steam and brush the tops with egg yolk.
Finish with a small sprig of rosemary in the centre of each.
Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 mins or until puffed and golden.
Delicious with a tall glass of Stout or a meaty Shiraz.  Any form of claret really!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Old Fashioned Apple Tea Cakes

It’s nearly Mother’s Day and most Mums I know (including me) love a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

Of all my Little Pudding treats, my Mum especially likes these apple tea cakes (recipe below). She loves nothing more than sharing one, warm from the oven, with Master N.

Cakes cooling on the fab new baker's cooling rack thingy my Mum bought me back from her recent road trip along the Great Ocean Road. This is why I spoil her with cake.
She spoons a big dollop of vanilla yoghurt on top (not for everyone but my son loves yoghurt just as much as she does) and they dig in together.

I prefer double cream. And perhaps, if I have some left over from my salted caramel peanut tarts, a splodge of caramel. It’s beyond comfort food and reminds me of butterscotch puddings from my childhood.

Home-made custard would also be a good partner for these little cakes if you wanted to serve them as an after-lunch pudding. They’re so easy and just scrumptious served straight from the oven.

Have a go experimenting with different fruit. I have been known to use nectarines in summer and plums in early autumn with a sugar crumble topping.

This batch was for Thelma & Louise Cafe in Neutral Bay, where they are on the menu year round. I’m told the nannas go nuts for them. Of course they do. It’s a Mum thing!

I’m setting the bar a little higher for Mr LP this Mother’s Day by asking for a chocolate passionfruit tart I saw on Cook Like Heston recently. Happily, he’s up for the challenge! Pics to come ;)

What’s your idea of the ultimate Mother’s Day treat for yourself or your Mum?

Larissa xx

Old Fashioned Apple Tea Cakes
Makes 12 (plus a couple of extras)

180g butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2  cups self-raising flour
1 cup sour cream
2 apples finely sliced
¼ cup apricot jam
¼ cup Demerara sugar (raw sugar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line a 12-cup muffin tray with patty pans (I use Robert Gordon ones but you don’t have to be fancy. Normal crinkly ones from the supermarket work just as well).
Cream butter, caster sugar and vanilla with a cake mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 mins).
Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined.
Add half the flour and half the sour cream. Mix until just combined, and then repeat with remaining flour and sour cream.
Spoon mixture into prepared patty pans, filling each only ¾ full.
Place 3 or 4 apple slices into each cake.
Bake for 20-25 mins until puffed and golden.
Mix together the Demerara sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
As cakes are cooling, bring the apricot jam to a simmer in a small saucepan. When it is smooth and syrupy, use a pastry brush to glaze the top of each warm cake with jam and then lightly sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar.
Serve with double cream and a freshly brewed cup of tea.