Friday, 24 May 2019

Carringbush Hotel, Abbotsford

After I saw Cindy and Michael recommend the Carringbush Hotel, it wasn't long until we visited for lunch.  The pub promised a vegetarian menu with promising kids meals and an intriguing name.  My family, like many with Collingwood connections going back a few generations, has connections with Frank Hardy's Power without Glory.  Anyone with such a history might feel a prick of interest in a pub named after the fictitious suburb from the novel which was easily recognisable as Collingwood.

We visited last weekend for a late lunch.  It was the lull between the end of lunch and the start of the evening crowd.  Even then there was a decent scattering of punters.  The building dates back to 1889.  It has been modernised to let in light without whitewashing out its historic charm.  It retains the exposed red brick walls, a faded painted advertisement in the beer garden and the bar faces into the street through gorgeous arched windows.

And there are fireplaces.  I counted three but am not sure there weren't one or two others in some nook or cranny.   The above fireplace with so much wood stacked either side looks like it is frequently used.  As we left I noticed another fireplace had a fire in it.  The crowds were building and the pub looked so welcoming and cosy.


Our first move was to head to the bar for a drink and to order our meal.  When we bought drinks I asked what non-alcoholic drinks were available.  (The Carringbush apparently has a great selection of craft beers if that is your thing.)  I was delighted to hear they have kombucha on tap.  Oh joy!  And it had a tropical flavour.  I was told that they rotated different flavours but only had one kombucha tap.  There was also an unnamed mocktail on the drinks menu but I forgot to ask what it was.

A sign of a modern pub is an extensive collection of hot sauces.  The Carringbush's four  shelves of sauces is rather impressive and seemed to include quite a bit of heat.  We also found some games on the mantlepiece near our seat.  Sylvia selected junior scrabble.  And there was the vegetarian menu too with decent offerings of vegan and gluten free items.

I had been excited to see Cindy's meal of battered cauliflower with chips but it was off the menu during our visit.  I was tempted by the maple teriyaki tofu with sushi rice and onion broth, and by the pie with mash and mushy peas.  The salads also looked nicely substantial for a summer's meal.

After some swithering, I ordered the vegan Housemade gnocchi with parsnip puree, chilli parsley pesto, brussel sprouts and broccolini, served with a potato bun. ($22)  I cannot speak highly enough of this dish.  There was enough gnocchi without being stodgy.  The parsnip puree and pesto worked really well as a substantial creamy but not heavy sauce.  And the dish had plenty of green vegetables.  All with lots of great flavours and not too spicy. 

Sylvia eyed off my accompanying potato bun greedily.  I shared it with her.  It was incredibly fresh and so fluffy and soft with a thin crackly crust.  Sylvia was very pleased to have the pasta shells with tomato, basil and cheese ($9) from the kids menu.  She really loved it, though was distracted by the scrabble and took her time to eat it. 

I was a little disappointed she did not order the cauliflower nuggets with chips from the kids menu.  I think if it had just said vegetarian nuggets she might have been more willing to try.  As an adult I am fascinated that they are made with cauliflower but kids just have less of the adventurous spirit.

For dessert we had the oddly named "Chocolate stout black forest cake with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce". ($12.50)  I think they might have forgot to deleted "black forest" after they changed the cassis syrup to butterscotch.  The toffee shards on top looked like butterflies.  I shared this with Sylvia rather than her having the scoop of ice cream and sprinkles from the kids menu.  She ate most of the ice cream.  The cake was quite rich and had some stout in the floavour so I could have done with a bit more of the ice cream but that was not the pub's fault I gave most of it away.  Other than that it was a nice rich dessert. It was neither vegan or GF but the apple crumble is both.

One odd thing about our seat was that every now and again the lights dimmed.  Or so it seemed.  After thing happened a few times we realised the sun was lighting up the table from above the beer garden.  And at the top of the beer garden is the railway line.  When a train came past it blotted out the bright sunlight.  The dimmed light was odd but I enjoyed looking up at the top of the wall and watching trains go by.

I really loved our lunch at the Carringbush.  Staff were friendly and helpful.  My main course gnocchi dish was amazing.  The interior had lots of really welcoming spaces.  We really enjoyed whiling away a couple of hours with good food and the scrabble game.  If only we lived closer we would be regulars.  And I wonder did my great grandfather and family ever visit and what might they think of it today.

The Carringbush Hotel
228 Langridge Street, Abbotsford
03 9191 0149
www.thecarringbushhotel.com.au

The Carringbush Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Chickpea tangine with quince

I sometimes find "related links" on blog posts a waste of time but every now and again they are brilliant.  Even on my own blog.  While looking for links related to the quince muffins in my last post I was reminded of how much I wanted to cook savoury recipes with quinces.

One reason I include related links to external sites when I get time on my blog is that I really miss my bookmarkting service, Delicous, that I used for years.  When it closed some years back I lost thousands of tagged bookmarked recipes.  Every now and again I have a specific ingredient and wish I had these bookmarks to help me find recipes I have found in the past.  When it came to quinces I remember an impressive quince and manchego tart but can't find the url.

The tart was a bit fancy anyway.  I really liked the idea of quince in a tangine.  But I had already poached all my quinces.  Recipes I found had uncooked quince but I used what I had.  And it worked.  The chunks of quince in the stew were really lovely.  Then after a couple of nights it was less noticeable. 

Now I made the disclaimer that this tangine is cobbled together from checking out tangines online.  I make no claims for authenticity.  The tangine that really inspired me was an Aubergine and Quince Tangine from Allyson Gofton.  I surmised the tangine is often eaten with couscous but I could not find my regular couscous so I first ate it with fresh sourdough bread and then with pearl couscous. (I found my regular couscous after I had bought the pearl couscous.)

I didn't have aubergine but I did have a purple cauliflower that I wanted to feature.  It worked really well, even though I wanted it well cooked so it lost some of the brilliant colour.  Never mind, it is almost winter so it is too dark at dinner for any impressive photos!  I intended to use a mix of my own spices but found some harrisa and turmeric/garlic/ginger paste in the fridge so I used them instead.

It is great to find a new way to use quinces.  I added less sugar to the poached quinces than my usual.  So if I were to poach quinces I would go easy on the sugar again so they fit easily into something savoury too.  This tangine has been a good introduction to quinces in savoury food.  I look forward to trying more savoury quince recipes.

More savoury recipes using poached or fresh quinces:
Grilled cheese and quince toasted sandwich  -  Prevention
Poached quince and frisee salad with blue cheese croutons - SFGate
Roasted fruit and cheese plate - Food and Wine
Savoury quince and onions - Wonderful Ingredients
Spicy quince and apple chutney - Hitchhiking to Heaven

Chickpea, cauliflower and quince tangine
Serves 4-6

2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 red capsicum (pepper), sliced
2 tbsp harissa
1 tsp turmeric/garlic/ginger paste
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400g tin of diced tomato
1 cauliflower, broken into florets
1 cup stock
1 cup chopped poached quince 
1/4 cup quince poaching juice (optional)
seasoning
parsley, for serving

Heat olive oil in a small stockpot.  Cook onion, carrot and capsicum in oil for 10-15 minutes until soft.  Stir in harissa, turmeric/garlic/ginger paste and chickpeas until chickpeas and vegies covered in spices.  Mix in the remaining ingredients, check and adjust seasoning.  Cover, bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for 30-40 minutes until cauliflower is soft.  Serve with chopped parsley if desired.

NOTES: You can substitute apple slices for quince slices (either raw or stewed apple would work).  Couscous seems a traditional accompaniment to tangine but bread or rice would do nicely.  If you don't have turmeric/garlic/ginger paste use a couple of cloves of garlic and 1/2 tsp each of turmeric and ginger.  If you don't have harissa, you could search a Moroccan seasoning online to get an idea of the spices to use instead.

On the Stereo:
The Swell Season: self titled

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Quince and polenta muffins for election bake sale

My mum gave me some quinces a couple of weeks ago.  I love quinces but they lingered for far too long.  I have just been too busy for them.  (Busy times which mean less time for baking or blogging.)  But when the school holds a cake sale for today's federal election, it is great to have an incentive to bake with the quinces.

I found a quince muffin recipe on a blog called In Erika's Kitchen. The idea of baking the muffins with strips of quince on top was just what I needed.  Muffins can be pretty ugly.  Not only did the strips of quince make the muffins look prettier but they also make it clearer to punters what they are buying.  I added some polenta which also gave the muffins a slight grittiness.  However they were rather good.

And we didn't just bake quince muffins.  Sylvia made coconut ice last night with a very nice teal layer.  I baked vegan brownies which were a bit less moist than last time but still nice and dense.  This morning I made some pumpkin muffins and will write about these soon.

We headed to the school to vote early (for us) at 9am with lots of cakes in hand so that we didn't have empty hands for all the how to vote cards.  I still arrived at the school gate with a clutch of how to vote cards.  The prize for the best was the Independents for Climate Action Now with their scorecard on parties and climate change which used emojis for how well they were doing.

We dropped off cakes at the cakestall.  Then headed into vote.  I queued for over 30 minutes.  Thank goodness for the sunshine.  And I was also thankful for fresh home made doughnuts with raspberry coulis and pretty flowers.  They were so good and some comfort after confronting a senate voting slip with 81 candidates on it that seemed to go forever.

Our electorate is changing along with other inner city seats.  While it used to be a safe Labour seat, it now is less certain thanks to the challenge from the Greens.  A bit of competition means that politicians are kept on their toes and actually woo voters rather than taking them for granted.  Politics is a bit like the chocolate toss where Sylvia and I spent an hour overseeing this fundraising game of trying to toss a gold coin onto a chocolate bar - it is much harder than it sounds.

As I watch the election results, we see that politics is a complicated game.  The opinion polls that found Labour to be the victor in the election are being proven wrong.  However every time I watch an election on tv I find it bemusing to see how they crunch the numbers.  I have always been more a qualitative than quantitative person and still want a nation of compassion rather than wealth.  I fear that compassion is not the winner in this election.

And so back to the quince muffins.  They seemed to be selling when I left.  They are quite traditional sort of muffins with a slight polenta/quince texture, a hint of spice and a fruit topping.  These are just the sort of thing to pop in the lunchbox but could have enough style for an afternoon tea or just comfort eating in the face of an election loss.

More quince recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana and quince smoothie (gf, v)
Quince and almond cake
Quince and walnut garibaldis (v) 
Rhubarb, quince and apple crumble (v)
Stephanie's quince and nut cake

More quince recipes elsewhere:
Golden quince almond tart - Allotment to Kitchen
Quince and apple ANZAC biscuit crumble - Not Quite Nigella
Quince & gorgonzola salad - Where's the Beef
Quince and vegetable tangine - CERES Fair Food
Spiced quince and cranberry chutney - Lavender and Lovage

Quince and polenta muffins
Adapted from In Erika's Kitchen
Makes 12 muffins

Wet ingredients:
1 cup mashed quince
3/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup rice bran (or neutral) oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups self raising white flour
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

To decorate:
12 slices poached quinces

Mix wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls.  Combine until just mixed.  Spoon into paper cups in a 12 cup muffin tin, only about a third to a quarter full.  Push a slice of poached quince into each muffin.  Bake at 180 C for 25 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Poached quinces
adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and Figs and Pigs

5 quinces
200g sugar
1 lemon, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves

Peel, trim and quarter quinces.  Cut each quarter into 3 or 4 slices.  Cover with water.  Push cloves into lemon quarters.  Place the lemon quarters, cinnamon stick and sugar.  Stir.  Bring to boil and simmer (covered) for about 5 to 10 minutes until quinces are soft.  Cool.

NOTES: You could puree the quinces rather than mashing if you prefer.  I found it easier to mash well with a fork.  For a less gritty texture, substitute flour for polenta.  Once you put the batter into the paper cups, it will get more full once you press the quince slices on top so do not fill too much.  If you don't have self raising flour substitute 1 1/2 cups plain flour and 3 tsp baking powder.  I had 5 quinces so I didn't use all of them for the muffins.  I think 3 quinces is closer to what you need.  Put aside 12 nicely shaped quince slices before mashing or pureeing.  When previously poaching quinces, I have used more sugar (eg 800g for 3 quinces) but decided to follow with less sugar in the Figs and Pigs recipe.  It was less syrupy but kept the quinces fine for days.

On the Stereo:
Greatest Hits: Elton John

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Twice baked potatoes and SpudFest 2019

On the weekend we went for a country drive to SpudFest 2019 in Trentham.  We came away with 3 kilograms of spuds.  On Sunday night we had fantastic baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, grated cheese, baked beans and finely chopped purple cabbage.  It was so good but too dark and hurried for a photo.  So I decided to revisit baked potatoes today before a dentist appointment.  When I looked online at how to reheat them the internet presented me with the idea of twice baked potatoes.  Thank you, World Wide Web for a great dinner!

Baked potatoes are fantastic but finding good potatoes to bake at home can be challenging.  SpudFest had such a great range of potatoes to choose.  (If you didn't make SpudFest I recommend your farmers market.)  Twice baked potatoes are the best of both worlds.  You get the crispy skin of the baked potato with the creaminess of mashed potato.  We also had lots of herbs in the garden so these also went in with lots of cheese.

Making the twice baked potatoes were great and reheating them was really easy.  I think perhaps I should make them more for busy work nights because they are so easy to make ahead.  And if you don't have the time to bake them the second time, you could do what I did before I left home and bung them under the grill to crisp up on top and eat them straight away.  I ate mine with refried beans but I think coleslaw is a great classic side to eat with baked potatoes.

And because the potatoes came from SpudFest, here are a few photos.  We didn't get there til mid afternoon so we didn't get involved in all the activities.  It was a fun visit.  Sylvia is quite into potatoes so we enjoyed all the pictures of friendly potatoes.

There were a few different areas around Trentham so we chose one.  It was mainly food trucks, live music and a merchandising stall.  The ambience was lovely but when we arrived the weather was quite grim.

Within minutes it had transformed to a beautiful autumn day.  We had some late lunch: amazing hot crunchy potato waffle chips, some pumpkin soup that was nice but needed seasoning, interesting musk-flavoured ice cream and delicious hot jam doughnuts.  Did I mention my parents came along and my dad loves hot jam doughnuts!

We walked along the high street and were amused to see potatoes in the store displays.  Some were placed among the wares.

Some potatoes were a little more artistic.  This wee potato is so cute!

And others were just plain silly but fun.  You can see my dad's hand beside this huge potato statue to show you how big it was.  I didn't take a photo of the man dressed as a potato!

We stopped at the Red Beard Bakery to watch the bakers cut bread rolls with very fancy cutters, to drink lime and mint kefir and to rest indoors out of the cold.  They weren't quite in step with the SpudFest with their pumpkin display but sadly they were sold out of SpudFest Spud Bread.

And one last photo that made me smile even though it is not spud related is this wombat statue.  I guess you might say it looks like a misshapen spud.  We left with our sack of spuds and a resolution to return to Trentham soon.

I am sending these twice baked potatoes to Eat Your Greens, a blog event hosted by Allotment to Kitchen and the VegHog.

More baked potatoes recipes online:
Baked beany potatoes with pesto: Green Gourmet Giraffe
Baked potato with haggis: Green Gourmet Giraffe
Twice baked potatoes with leek and cheese: The VegHog
Cheesy leek baked potatoes - rarebit style - Little Sugar Snaps
Mexican street corn twice baked potatoes - The Candid Appetite
Twice baked potatoes with caramelised onions and blue cheese - Fine Cooking


Twice Baked Potatoes
Serves 2-4

4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped herbs (I used parsley, chives and thyme)
3/4 cup grated cheese 
1/4 cup extra grated cheese for topping

Place potatoes on an oven tray and poke with a sharp pointed knife a few times.  Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours at 200 C.  The potatoes are baked when the skin is crispy and the insides are soft so that a skewer or knife slides in easily with no resistance.  Cool slightly so they are easier to handle.

Cut tops of potatoes off and scoop out the potato flesh, leaving enough in each potato to hold its shape (about 5mm thick).  We snacked of the tops but you could halve the potatoes if you don't want to waste the tops.

The potato that comes out should be quite dry.  Mash it with milk, butter, sour cream, mustard and seasoning.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Stir well to make it creamy.  Stir in herbs and 3/4 cup cheese.  Spoon back into potato cases and sprinkle with a little cheese.

Return potatoes to the oven for 20-30 minutes or until topping is crispy.  If you are in a hurry just crisp the topping under the grill.  If you want to eat later you can leave for a few hours on the oven trays or keep in the fridge overnight.  If it has been in the fridge, it might take longer to reheat.

On the stereo:
Nightflight: Kate Miller Heidke

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Lorne cafe: HAH Lorne Beach

While in Lorne recently, I liked the sound of HAH Lorne Beach but found the Google directions a bit odd.  At first glance it seems like there are no cafes on the beach side of Mountjoy Parade.  You need to walk down between the grassy playground and carpark (near the cinema) to the cafe which overlooks the beach.  It is worth getting your bearings and finding the cafe.

This is the view.  Impressive, huh!  I imagine a few parents enjoy a coffee and meal while their kids are running around the beach.  We were there on a cool windy Autumn morning and sat inside.  Here the hipster inner-city meets the relaxed beach.

I struggled with the menu because they had a lot of good lunch bowls, salads and jaffles but I wanted something more suitable to brunch.  So I settled on the avocado on toast.  Sometimes it is just what I want in the morning.

Sylvia didn't want another toastie because she already eaten one the previous day.  I had thought she might have tried the apple, sultana, maple, coconut sugar, and cinnamon jaffle (or toastie).  She just ordered a chocolate milkshake and a packet of her favourite roasted seaweed snacks.  She also bought some gummy bears for later and I was annoyed after we bought them to find they had gelatine.  It is too easy to assume a wholefoods cafe will be all vegetarian but this one isn't.

She wolfed down the seaweed but was not keen on the milkshake.  I am even less keen on milkshakes at the best of time and didn't taste it but I suspect it was her ambiguous attitude to milk rather than the cafe's fault.  At least they served it in a suitably small cup for kids.

My avocado on toast came with tomato, spinach, dukkah and lemon.  I really loved it.  These are exactly the vegetables I want at the start of the day.  The dukkah was a nice touch that I should remember at home. 

The cafe is not only right on the beach but has the swimming pool, a trampoline and mini golf centre and a great playground right behind it.  If you are after hiring bikes, surfboards or bodyboards, this is also the place for you.  HAH stands for Health and Hire.  So you can be really active and eat well too. 

HAH Lorne Beach
81 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne Foreshore, Lorne
Phone: 0406453131 or 0437759469
https://www.hahlornebeach.com.au/

HAH Lornebeach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 2 May 2019

In My Kitchen: May 2019

May arrives with darkening evenings and cold mornings.  Not great for blog photography and cycling home from work.  But there are also apples and soup and pastries so it is not so bad.  April was filled with of school holidays and Easter and birthdays.

The above photo is of the hat I decorated for a birthday party with a mad hatter theme.  Fortunately my friend Kerin had heaps of fake flowers leftover from some craft she was doing and gave me a box of them (after her cat lay in it in a snuggly attempt to claim it).  Sylvia and I had a lovely morning decorating hats and hairbands with the flowers.

Another friend gave Sylvia some Easter cookie cutters.  They were fun cutting out shapes with the sugar cookies we made for Easter.  I think the carrot cutter is the cutest.  When we were decorating our carrot cake recently, I wondered how it would look with carrot cookies decorated and placed around the edge of the cake.

And I got hit by the Easter spirit and had to try some Hot Cross Bun ice cream.  It was not my thing.  Just too creamy.  No amount of spice and raisins would change that.  I had half hoped there would be chunks of hot cross buns but I probably should have been honest with myself and bought some of the hot cross buns on special in the supermarket (even though homemade HCBs are the best).  I much prefer HCBs to ice cream.  I already miss them but they are special because they only happen for a few weeks in a year.

We love these new tomato and sweet basil mini rice cakes from Table of Plenty,  Their chocolate covered rice cakes have always been popular in our house but it is so nice to have a savoury version.

A few weeks back, I made my first egg omelette.  I have made lots of vegan omelettes in my time but I don't like eggs.  Last year Sylvia was eating lots of vegan food but this year she is suddenly into eggs.   She likes her omelettes made with 1 egg, chopped tomato, chopped basil, a spoonful of milk and some seasoning, fried over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.  We started with 2 eggs omelettes that she shared with E but we have made her a few 1 egg omelettes when he is eating something else.  Oh and she still eats my vegan omelettes. Thank goodness for small mercies!

Sylvia is quite into We Bare Bears at the moment.  I haven't watched much of it but her Ice Bear is so cute.  And so is the little Ice Bear she made out of modelling clay.

Another joy of Sylvia's life that has come into our kitchen is the combination of cheese and spinach.  We made some spinach and ricotta cheese pastries from a supermarket magazine.  Sylvia was not keen on the filling in the pastries because it had quite a lot of herbs in it.  It is a shame because I always have mint in the garden and rarely find a use for it.  I liked the filling and have used the rest of it grilled on toast.  But it is a good step for Sylvia as there is a lot of cheese and spinach pastries out there.  We will try some other versions.

And there is more slime.  Glossy, stretchy, bubbling, crackly, soft and supple.

As it is apple season, we are eating lots of apples.  But some have fallen by the wayside and been stewed.  During the school holidays we put some apples in pastries.  And, because we had time to play with our food, we tried styling each pastry in a different way.

Sylvia saw a kid making rocky road popcorn on the ABC's How to Do Stuff Good.  (It is a show where kids show kids life hacks or as we used to know it, helpful tips!)  So she wanted to do it.  She had some Easter marshmallows on special (because it is hard to find vegan marshmallows) and mixed them with raspberrie lollies, coconut and melted Easter eggs.  It tasted great and disappeared very quickly while we watched the Gilmore Girls.

Here is a photo of the food we bought at the farmers market.  At the back is some catnip.  I've only ever seen it in cartoons before so it fascinates me to see the real stuff.  Our cat is not so keen.  There is also a purple cauliflower, hummus, spanikopita, beetroot, hummus, orange juice, a chocolate and cardamom bun and lots of apples.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.