Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cambodia 2014: Psar Leu Market, Siem Reap


Psar Leu Market

Back to the Cambodia posts! I've got another picture post for you today: our visit to the Psar Leu Market in Siem Reap. Psar Leu is a very big local food market, which we visited as part of the "Cooks in Tuk Tuks" cooking class. A guide from The River Garden Hotel took us to the market, showed us around and bought some ingredients and snacks, before taking us back to the hotel for the cooking class itself. At first I was planning to do just one post on the market tour and cooking class, but as I looked back through my photos, I saw that we got so many fantastic pictures at the market that I thought it deserved its own post! Of course, when I say that "we" got lots of great pictures, I mean that Sandra took all the photos whilst I wandered around gaping at all the fascinating stalls, dodging the motorbikes, and desperately trying not to look sweaty. (Spoiler alert: I failed - it was blisteringly hot!) I don't think that lots of tourists visit - in fact, our little group of four were the only tourists we saw all morning - but if you're a food lover, I'd highly recommend making a stop there! So much great food to see and eat, a wonderful bustling atmosphere - it's a real slice of local life.

Enjoy!

Psar Leu Market

Vegetables

Psar Leu Market

Psar Leu Market

Crowded!

Shellfish cooked in the sun

Chillies! Chilli sauce! Colours!

Pork

Fish

Chilli pastes

Dessert stand!

Grilled bananas

Tree ants

Fish!

Khmer sausages

Market stalls

Bananas!

Pretty fruit stalls

Pork!

Deep-fried banana goodness; Glutinous rice balls

I'm so glad we visited the market - it was such an enjoyable and fascinating morning! Next up: the cooking class!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prix Fixe: A Nutcracker's Christmas

Prix Fixe

Prix Fixe
Alfred Place
90 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Prix Fixe on Urbanspoon

Yup, another Prix Fixe dinner! This time, the theme was (and still is, until the end of December), "A Nutcracker's Christmas". Seeing as I've written about Prix Fixe twice before, I won't go into too much detail and I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Suffice it to say this menu was very impressive - the themed cocktails were fabulous, I truly enjoyed all four courses, and would highly recommend you squeeze in a visit before the end of the year. Bravo, Philippa!

Back: On Point - Plymouth gin, maple syrup, grapefruit, hopped grapefruit bitters & Prosecco - $20
Front: Fritz's Fumble - Zubrowka, St Germain elderflower, Yellow Chartreuse, white peach, lime & thyme - $20 

Bread

Oysters - $4 each

Summer borscht, crème fraiche, dill avruga caviar

The borscht was smooth and velvety, with the natural sweetness of the beetroot complimented by salty pops of caviar. The quenelle of crème fraiche ice-cream was a fun and sophisticated take on the usual dollop of crème fraiche or smetana.

Prawn cocktail Russian style – Crystal Bay prawns, melons, avocado and apple

When I think prawn cocktail, I think dinky little glasses filled with lettuce, prawns, and mayonnaise, and this version completely surpassed my expectations. I loved the crisp lettuce, the sweet pieces of melon and apple, the creamy avocado, the fresh prawns and the sharp horseradish sauce.

Porchetta rolled with apricots, hazelnuts and thyme

Cool sauerkraut

The pork was tender and flavourful, and the crackling appropriately crackly. This main course (rolled roast pork with crackling and a cabbage salad), is exactly the type of thing I'd love to serve at a dinner party.

Compote of cherries and raspberries, basil ice cream, meringue tutu, plum jam roly poly

The dessert was just stunning - a cherry and raspberry compote, plum jam roly poly, sweet basil ice-cream, dehydrated raspberry powder and crisp sticks of meringue. All the flavours and textures worked so well together - it was fabulous! I was particularly impressed by the basil ice-cream, with its beautiful jade colour, perfectly smooth texture and pure basil flavour.

Gingerbread hearts to finish

These cute little gingerbread hearts were brought out as an accompaniment with tea and coffee to round out the meal. Lovely!

Read about my previous experiences at Prix Fixe:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Aioli, Chives and Pine Nuts

Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Aioli, Chives and Pine Nuts

Hey hey! Quick recipe post today! So, these bacon-wrapped dates are a super delicious and impressive snacky canapé-type nibble thing. My friend D-Slam tried something similar at restaurant in Singapore a few months ago, totally loved them, and then recreated them for her housewarming party back in Melbourne. (I ate a rather crazy amount - whoops!) The flavours are quite intense - sweet caramelly dates, salty crisp bacon, oniony chives, buttery pine nuts and garlicky aioli - but the combo is addictive and I've never met anyone who doesn't go crazy for them. They're so good!

I finally made them myself on the weekend for a barbecue we hosted on Sunday. They're a little fiddly to make but not difficult at all - I rolled up the dates the night before and stashed them in the fridge, chucking them in the oven when our friends arrived. Boom.

The quantities below are quite flexible - you essentially just need enough bacon to cover the amount of dates you have, with some chives, aioli and pine nuts to sprinkle over. I've specified 907 grams of Medjool dates because that's the size of the packet they come in. I found that 200 grams of streaky bacon was just enough to cover the dates, but if the idea of a potential bacon shortage stresses you out, start with a larger amount. You can never have too much bacon. True for this recipe, true for life.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Aioli, Chives and Pine Nuts

Ingredients
907 grams Medjool dates
200 grams streaky bacon
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons aioli
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Method
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Pit the dates using a small sharp knife.
Cut the bacon in half lengthwise and in half again crosswise.
Place a pitted date on the end of a piece of bacon and roll up. Secure with a toothpick and place on the prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remainder of the dates and bacon.
Bake the bacon-wrapped dates for 10-15 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and crisp.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, until golden brown.
Place the rolls on a serving platter.
Top each roll with a drizzle of aioli, followed by a generous sprinkling of chopped chives and pine nuts.

While we're here, let's have a look at some of the other things we served at the barbecue. It was a pretty big party - we hadn't entertained in ages and felt like going all out! We had about twenty people over on the Sunday arvo, and spent most of Saturday cooking and preparing. Not an easy task the day after my work's Christmas party (ouch!), but I just managed to push through. I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea! Anyhoo... it ended up being such a fun afternoon: lots of food, lots of friends, and a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. Best. In all the hustle and bustle, I totally forgot to bring my camera and just snapped a few photos on my phone - looking back I realised I didn't take photos of all the food, but got heaps of our friends. I don't even know who I am any more!

Eggplant and Feta Rolls - (Nigella Lawson recipe)

Lamb backstraps marinated in honey, garlic and coriander - Ottolenghi recipe

In addition to the lamb, we served Bratwurst, chicken sausages, Frikadellen, and some roast ocean trout.

Chickpea and Feta Salad - Tessa Kiros recipe

We also served a parmesan, spinach and pear salad with maple-glazed walnuts.

And dessert! A peanut butter cream pie (ZOMG) by Joy the Baker and a pavlova! The pav turned out a little weepy but it tasted good and it was demolished in no time at all - yay.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie; Pavlova

Hope you are all having a great week!