Farewell Melbourne, until we meet again!

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Our final week in Melbourne was a week of how much more delicious Melbourne food can we eat?

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Melbourne is a foodie city which is why I love it so much, it speaks my language – the language of food in many cuisines. Melbourne is an absolute delight to visit, and there are always many superb restaurants to discover! My sister told me about a place called Lankan Tucker in Brunswick – as one of my last lunches with my foodie friend Cath we went for a feed of pan rolls and stuffed roti, it was absolutely delightful. The day before we had visited my uncles take away Sri Lankan shop and had a pan roll and brought home many treats we had with dinner – the kids wanted more by the time we left, which is always good. Sri Lankan food is always an excellent find – these treats of pan rolls and stuffed roti are quite time-consuming, so it is a real score to find them. At Lankan Tucker, the toilet was the best with some sayings we used to hear all the time from our parents, these sayings were described as “Lankanisms”, an absolute classic! Indeed, we would love to go back for more next time we go to Melbourne, and we will be visiting Uncle Glens take away for an order of pan rolls from Curry and Chips.

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We always find well-made coffee in Melbourne that is just amazing but the kids even score with a beautiful hot chocolate as well – to me it is all about the ritual of coffee and tea, enjoying time over a cuppa. None of this takeout and go business, no thank you!

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On Sunday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary – it was a hot day, so off we went to downtown Mountain View for dinner of a $12 salad from sweetgreen – I really like their ethos towards food sustainability and their support of local food and agriculture. I felt like a salad and scored a salad a mighty big one at that, it was chilli hot which added to the salad and our first time there. It was OK, but I think it may have been better with pickles, everything is better with pickles. As steel was the element for our 11th anniversary, I said to my hubby hey we were in a steel aeroplane for a very long time I think that makes a great anniversary gift – a trip home to Australia! Even though I have been living here for nearly 11 years, Australia is where I feel I belong.

So I was very excited to come back and see the ladies at the ranch – I love the chickens, and the Bantams have grown so much, time for some selfies with the chicks!!

On Monday it was hug a chicken day, in our neck of the woods! I don’t think they were that excited to see us but we bought them some treats, so in the end, they were happy. The kids really spent so much time with them and gave them lots of hugs and attention. Now it is back to reality, and I actually start a full-time job in August as a Teacher Assistant, life is going to start to get real busy!!

Jammed pack family fun

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My final week in Queensland with my family was filled with so much action interspersed with food which I love! We began our relaxing weekend with my sister and her crew coming to stay with us at our Air BnB we enjoyed a Sri Lankan feast with lots of wine for dinner and the kids enjoyed their fidget spinner collection and enjoyed the challenges of timing them.

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We spent Sunday at my parent’s place and the kids watched a movie after a lunch of tasty pastries from the bakery and took some fun photos in the garden.

Monday we went on a family trip with my uncle into the city to see the Marvel exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art AKA GOMA – it was a super fun exhibit and displayed behind the scenes costumes and sets but the kids just zoomed through it! For lunch we went to this delicious gyoza place for a sushi burrito for me covered in wasabi pea powder, yummo! The kids loved their doughnuts and ice cream by Mr Fitz.

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Tuesday we enjoyed a family pub lunch for my aunts birthday celebrating with cake and balloons, scoring some super photos with balloons as props!

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Wednesday my sister found this great German guy who custom creates bikes as well as hires bikes to visitors on the peninsula for $25 per hour – Street Art Cycles come highly recommended and as it is an excellent bike riding destination, this was a perfect score for a day trip and we rode 20 kilometers in total for the day. The kids were really enjoying the 24″ frames and really took off riding on this dedicated pedestrian / cycleway parallel to the beach front! I rode this Breezer bike called Uptown designed by a mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze whose history in biking began in Marin, San Francisco (so random and so fun).

We also found some local cats of the neighbourhood that were just like our dearly departed. Monty the cat across the road was just like Yeti the Himalayan Persian who belonged to my parents. And on our side of the street was an orange cat just like our lovely boy Mack who enjoyed pats from strangers.

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And my sisters beautiful black cat Millie gave us a bit of a scare when she disappeared for hours and we found her stuck behind the washing machine!

Towards the end of the week I realised I really had to get out and enjoy the sunny mornings and find some local wild life – I found some rainbow lorikeets on my morning walk / run having a party at a local mansion by the beach in this amazing tropical native garden. My friend Markus came to visit for lunch and we enjoyed another meal of fish and chips and went to find Gollums door on a tree by the beach. My last Sri Lankan meal of rice sticks, pan rolls, vadas with salad was enjoyed and it was such a treat!

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Friday came around and it was peoples day at the show so we went together with my nephew and enjoyed the pastel chickens, checking out sideshow alley with all the crazy clowns and toys and riding the ferris wheel yet again, I was a bit nervous of heights but I had to be brave as I was with Mr Ash and mum had to ‘make it work’.

Saturday we planned for our sausage sizzle and bought a variety of meat sausages from The Meat-ting Place – an organic butcher who could tell me where they sourced all their meat. The bonus was that they also had fish and I found Wild Barramundi from the Northern Territory which was perfect cooked in a foil packet with herbs and spices on the BBQ.

Sunday was our final “together” day where we went out for a day trip into BrisVegas to ride the free CityHopper ferry and eat some delicious Greek street food at Zeus Cafe in Southbank. We caught ferry down to the place where I moved to when I first left home and wandered the streets of New Farm before we went to New Farm Park with the kids. They loved it there and so did we, as we enjoyed the big old Jacarandas and the way the playground was built with a Strangler Fig!

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Before long it was my last morning walk on the beach where I said goodbye to the pelicans and our time in the peace and quiet of the Redcliffe Peninsula. I have to say it was an enjoyable couple of weeks with my family and catching up with friends!

A piece a Week – A stingray gift for a baby and a weekend away to Aptos

For my birthday I booked an Air BnB getaway by the beach which was so relaxing. The times have been so busy these past few weeks that a weekend away by the beach was the best thing to do. The fun thing was that it was the same weekend as Easter so the easter bunny came to visit the lovely garden right by the house. On the way back home we stopped by at Capitola – we have lived here for 8 years and this was the first time we visited Capitola by the sea. I was entranced by the Venetian Hotel pictures I had seen on the internet – so I was on a mission to find them! 
On the Sunday we were at Capitola it was a rainy and overcast perfect for photos and Capitola is an excellent place to take pictures, it still has a lot of old signage and the Venetian Hotel is so colourful. The evening before was my birthday and we went out to dinner to a vegetarian restaurant with Sri Lankan and Indian flavors! I was so excited to find a vegetarian restaurant with a Sri Lankan spin and could not wait to go – the restaurant was Malabar and the food was divine. I really should not have worn a belt that evening as I ate so much!! There was no alcohol on the menu but they did have a collection of very tasty drinks and a favorite was dates, rose water and almond milk so I will have to try this at home, what a combination. Malabar in downtown Santa Cruz was certainly a highlight of my weekend, a vegetarian restaurant and Sri Lankan goodness all in one 🙂 
For one of our teachers at school I made this stingray (our mascot the Stevenson Stingrays) for her little baby it is a spin on the Bunny Blanket Buddy pattern by Lion Brand Yarn. 
Hello stingray in the sea!

This is an eggplant dosa from Malabar – just like my mum used to make her eggplant curry. As the kids are not fans of eggplant at home so when I get the opportunity to eat it at a restaurant I grab it! This was spicy and in a Sri Lankan style of curry that took me back to my roots.

This dosa and it’s accompaniments – yummo!!
On our way back from our weekend away we stopped at Capitola and here it looks like the kids are wandering alleyways of Europe 🙂 This is the Venetian Hotel right near the beach built by a Venetian Architect in 1924 – super cool and very colorful! 
Look out you are on private property!! 

We took a wander on the pier where you can hire boats and kayaks to go fishing and hang out on the water for the day – I found this though Mr A is not too keen!

Should we go on a boat ride?? 

We had the easter bunny drop his eggs the night before in the garden – that was very foolish as when we woke up in the morning for the egg hunt the eggs had been pilfered by the bandits of the night! The raccoons had a feast of easter eggs and enjoyed the milk chocolate and dissed the dark chocolate eggs!

The hunters in action!

Egg aftermath after the bandits struck 😦

Score from the Easter bunny

“This dark chocolate egg sucks,” says Racoon and his buds!

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Breudher

For some reason over the last couple of busy weeks in my schedule I have chosen to do somewhat complicated recipes. I have managed to fit in making a Breudher this week after a hectic week of preparing for the trunk show (see previous post). I loved the show and the time to get this done last week was slim. So yesterday I got a start on it in the afternoon after volunteering in the classroom and made the first step for this recipe is the bread dough. My house is way too cold for bread to rise so I left it out in the sunshine and it rose just perfectly doubling in size. So thank goodness for the warmth outside as it would take forever to get this done! This is a cake that is usually served at Christmas with Dutch Edam Cheese – we would have this for breakfast and what a treat it was! The Breuder was part of the Dutch influence in Sri Lanka – actually my ancestors from way back are Dutch. Be sure to have a bit of time on hand and a warm area for the bread to rise before getting a start on this recipe. 
This has been adapted from a Anita Dickman and Charmaine Solomon recipe due to being confused about how to incorporate the ingredients. Prepare the dough first as it has to rise twice and then once Breudher ingredients are incorporated it has to rise again. Prepare a Bundt pan for this recipe as it looks wonderful – I just used my ring pan which does not have an elaborate pattern like the Bundt tin so it does not have the ‘hanger appeal’.  
Basic Bread Dough
(White Bread)
500g (1.1lbs) plain flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
25g (1oz) of melted butter (optional)
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1. Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup warm water, sprinkle yeast on top and leave aside for 10-15 minutes until it becomes frothy.
2. Sift flour in a bowl make a well in the centre of the flour, add yeast mixture, melted butter and the balance water.
3. Add the water gradually until you get a soft, sticky dough.
4. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 15 – 20 minutes or until bubbles start to breakthrough the surface, which indicates that the dough has started to rise.
5.  Punch the dough in the middle. Then turn the dough to a floured counter and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky. Dust occasionally with flour. 
6. Put back in a clean bowl and leave to rise for 1 – 11/2 hours or until double in bulk. Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead lightly for a few seconds. Add the salt at this stage and place in a huge mixing bowl.
7. Follow the Breudher recipe from here. 

Breudher
Breudher ready to go with some Australian Tasty Cheese
500g (1.1lbs) basic bread dough (see recipe above)
1/2 teaspoon salt

150g (6 ozs) sugar
6 egg yolks

75g (3 oz) butter

100g (4 oz) sultanas
1 tablespoon flour
1. Make dough and leave aside to rise. 
2. When it is well risen, punch dough, add salt and knead well.
3. Then weigh the dough to make sure it is 500g (1.1lbs).
4. Put it into an electric mixer and beat (with a dough hook) while adding the sugar slowly.  
5. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Add the butter a little at a time.
6. Dust the sultanas with 1 tablespoon flour and mix through the dough. 
7. Pour the breudher mix into a ring mould and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 – 40 minutes until it doubles in bulk (I used a preheated oven that was turned off as it keeps its warmth, as it was evening). 
8. Bake at 200 degrees C (or 400 degrees fahrenheit) for 10 mins and then at 180 degrees C (350 degrees fahrenheit) for a further 10-15 minutes. 
9. If the top starts to brown too soon, cover with foil and cook until a skewer comes out clean. 
10. Cool for 5 minutes in pan and turn out on a wire rack to cool completely. 
11. Serve with butter and Dutch Edam cheese.
Note: It is important that the ingredients are added gradually to keep the batter firm. 

A slice of Breudher and a cup of tea was always a pleasure at family gatherings

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Pol Sambol

Due to a cold I am posting this later than planned – Oh the chaos of life! I wanted to try Peter Kurivita’s Pol Sambol recipe and it turned out really fresh with the lime juice and this time I added the chilli as it was a small amount for just the adults! What better way to clear out your cold than to eat chilli. I decided to enjoy the Pol Sambol with a coconut roti made with added Habanero peppers to add a bit of colour and flavour to the roti. And it turned out better than expected as the pepper flavour throughout the roti added the right amount of texture.

Pol Sambol (for two)

Pol Sambol ready to serve with your favourite roti

1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 red onion, chopped finely
black pepper
dash of lime
salt to taste

1. Add the coconut to the bowl – mix in chilli, red onion, pepper, a dash of lime to make the sambol nice and wet but not sloppy. Add salt to taste.
2. Serve with coconut roti.

Coconut Roti

Rotis with a bit of green!

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup desiccated coconut1 onion sliced

1 habanero pepper or any other capsicum of choice
Salt to taste

Water (about 1 cup)

Canola oil for frying

Method

1. Prep onion and pepper in food processor – pulse till they are small.
2. In a large bowl mix onion, pepper, flour, desiccated coconut, butter, salt and water.
3. Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough that can be formed into balls.
4. On a floured surface place balls and flatten -the kids can help with this.
5. Heat up a heavy based skillet and fry in oil until brown on both sides.
6. Drain oil on a paper towel and serve the Roti with your favourite curry or sambal.


52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Potato Cutlets

My mum used to make these potato cutlets with tin tuna fish and fennel and they were so good! Though for this version I am trying a vegetarian alternative. The kids really loved them with a canola mayo and I had it with a mango pickle and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Delicious potato cutlets with avocado salad and mango chutney

Potato Cutlets

1 tsp sale
1 lb potatoes, boiled in microwave and then mashed.
Black Pepper
1 egg for cutlets

Breadcrumbs for coating

1 egg beaten

Filling

1 onion
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup coriander

Canola oil for frying

1. Prepare potato and cook in the microwave till the consistency is ready for mash.
2. Finely chop onion and put in a large bowl.
3. Cool mashed potato in fridge or on counter.
4. While potato is cooling prepare the filling – and add to the onion in the large bowl.
5. When potato is cool enough add to the large bowl with the filling ingredients.
6. Add an egg to the filling and potato mixture.
7. Work on consistency to get a ball that holds together in your hands.
8. Dip in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs and flatten.
9. Cook cutlets on moderate heat in the canola oil until brown on both sides.
10. Serve with mango chutney and salad or whatever you like really!

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Coconut Roti

As last weeks recipe was a bit of a fail I figured something easy would be a good choice this week. So I made Coconut Roti and Egg Curry. I was going to add a coconut sambal to the plate though the time did not allow it. The fun thing with make Rotis is that it is a kitchen job where the kids can get involved and help out with the moulding and flattening, just like play dough!

Delicious Egg Curry and Coconut Roti

Coconut Roti 

(Makes about 24)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 onion sliced

1 sprig of curry leaves sliced
Salt to taste (about ½ tspn)

Water (about 1 cup)
Canola oil for frying
Method
1. Slice onion and curry leaves.
2. In a large bowl mix onion, curry leaves, flour, desiccated coconut, salt and water. 
3. Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough that can be formed into balls.
4. On a floured surface place balls and flatten. 
5. Heat up a heavy based skillet and fry in oil until brown on both sides. 
6. Drain oil on a paper towel and serve the Roti with your favourite curry or sambal.
Egg Curry simmering away
Egg Curry
3 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
2 tsp black mustard seeds
sprig of curry leaves 
1 red onion – thinly sliced
1 small knob of ginger – finely grated
4 cloves garlic – crushed
1 tsp roasted cumin

1 tsp roasted coriander

1tsp turmeric

2 tsp tomato paste

1 cup coconut milk
salt to taste

Method
1. Boil eggs until they are hard boiled (10 minutes) then put in cold water and peel. Set aside. 
2. In a heavy based skillet over medium heat – add the coconut oil and the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds pop, add the curry leaves and onions and saute until translucent. Then add the ginger and garlic. 
3. Stir and then add the spices and tomato paste. Continue to fry for about 2 minutes and pour in the coconut milk. 
4. Turn down the heat to simmer and add the eggs – Simmer the curry until the sauces thickens. 
5. Season to taste and enjoy with the Roti or your favourite rice. 

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Vegetable Biriyani

This week I made a vegetable biriyani which is a favourite meal of mine. It has varied over the years especially when we bought it from families who sold it as a special dish packaged in alfoil and frozen, to be eaten as a family treat. This recipe is from a cookbook called Great Vegetarian Dishes by Kurma Dasa who is one of the Hare Krishna movement’s most celebrated chefs. I love a lot of the recipes in this book but this Biriyani recipe takes me back to Melbourne when I first made it when I was a student and had to ration my funds. Going to the Indian grocer and buying spices was a bit out of my budget at the time – but I must have made quite a bit of Indian food after buying all the spices! This is an excellent meal for student living as you can eat it for days! It is also a perfect dish for guests as it does go a long way and can serve up to 6 people. We just ate it for dinner as is as there are nuts and beans for the protein with the rice and vegetables. The recipe calls for eggplant which is just divine but I cannot find any this time of year. I substituted zucchini which made their way from Mexico so if I looked harder maybe the eggplant was there too??

Biriyani served with fresh coriander

Vegetable Biriyani

 2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
2.5 teaspoons turmeric
4 tablespoons ghee or oil
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 zucchini
4 mushrooms
2 cups tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar\
1 cup cooked lima beans\
2/3 cup slivered raw almonds
2/3 cup broken or halved cashews
2/3 cup raisins
Fresh coriander

1. Wash, drain and dry the rice.

2. Boil the water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric in a 4 litre saucepan over moderate heat.

3. Heat half the ghee or oil in a skillet over moderately-low heat. Saute the cardamom seeds and the rice in the hot ghee for 2 minutes or until the grains turn whitish. Add the boiling water. Stir, raise the heat, and bring the water to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer without stirring, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, allowing the grains to become firm.

4. Heat the remaining ghee or oil in a smaller skillet over moderately high heat. Saute the mustard seeds in the hot ghee and when they crackle, add the poppy seeds, the cayenne pepper, garam masala, coriander, zucchini and mushroom pieces, and half the butter. Stir fry the vegetables for about 3 minutes.

5. Add the tomato, remaining salt and sugar. Simmer the vegetables until just tender. Add the lima beans and remove from the heat.

6. Spoon half the rice into a large buttered 9×12″ casserole dish and spread evenly. Spread the vegetable mixture on top.

7. Heat the remaining butter in a small pan over moderate heat. Saute the nuts in the hot butter until they turn pale golden brown. Add the raisins and stir-fry until they swell and the nuts are golden brown.

8. Combine this mixture with the remaining rice and spread on top of the vegetable layer. Place a lid or alfoil on the casserole dish and bake in a preheated moderate over (180ºC/355ºF) for 30 minutes. Serve hot with fresh coriander.

Vege Biriyani straight from the oven

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Kiribath and Seitan Curry

This week was a fairly easy recipe though a rough week in trying to get the recipe posted. It has just been constant chaos though now I am finally finding time to sit and write this. I must say the Kiribath is something  I remember from when I was little for all the festive events. We had it for breakfast sprinkled with sugar – what a treat for a kid first thing in the morning! Other times we had it with a coconut sambal and meat curry which is the inspiration for this meal. This is a vegetarian version which is just as good as the secret was to roast your own curry powder – it really makes a difference in flavour. 
For the meat curry I found a wonderful recipe on taste.com.au and I roasted spices and ground them in the coffee grinder – whoever has the next cup of coffee will be enjoying a very aromatic cuppa! 
The seeds all dry roasting in a pan
Ground roasted curry powder in the coffee grinder 

Kiribath is milk rice and and literally in Sinhalese it means a milk bath. The rice is cooked in a coconut milk and then put in the fridge to set and then serve – that is how I have always had it anyway.

Kiribath and Seitan curry (yes seitan is a popular meat alternative in this household)

Following are the recipes for the Kiribath and the Seitan curry – do note this is a super easy and quick to prepare meal.

Kiribath

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water

1 can coconut milk

salt to taste

1. Cook rice in rice cooker and when ready transfer to a saucepan and cover in coconut milk.

2. Add salt to taste and cook on low until the rice has absorbed all the coconut milk.

3. Transfer to a plate to cool and then place in fridge when the rice is at room temperature (do not put it in the fridge while warm).

4. Serve the rice cut into diamond shapes with a favourite curry or coconut sambal.

Seitan curry 

1 packet of seitan strips
Flour
Paprika
Olive oil

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cm piece ginger, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cardamom pods, cracked
teaspoon black mustard seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small to large tin diced tomatoes (ideally fresh if they are in season)
1/2 to 1 cup water

Ceylon curry powder

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon quill crumbled
1. Prepare seitan for the curry by dredging it in the flour and paprika and sautéing it in olive oil. Then keep aside for later. 
2. Make the curry powder by roasting the spice ingredients on medium heat and when cool transfer to a coffee grinder. 
3. Pulse onion, ginger, garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. 
4. Heat ghee in a skilled add onion mixture and cook over medium heat until golden. Add curry powder, turmeric, cardamom pods, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook stirring for 3 minutes then stir in vinegar. 
5. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup water initially and add the prepared seitan and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
6. Serve with the kiribath or any rice or noodle side dish with a salad. 
We have avocados and carrots in season at the moment so that is why they are there 🙂 Oh and feel free to add chillies to the onion, ginger and garlic. I omitted the chillies as I didn’t have any on hand and the kids would say it to too spicy and not even try it. They loved the rice and gave thumbs up for the curry so it was a winner. 
The plan is to grow some chillies over the summer and it is time for Project Garden next week when my son is on his 1 long vacay from school. His is on his way to earning yet another Pokemon book once he helps me with this project!