Sunday 29 May 2022

Paddington Cafe, Geelong

Paddington Cafe opened in Geelong during 2020.  My parents spoke fondly of it while we were in lockdown in Melbourne and they were not.  It was not until May 2021 that I finally visited, and then in April 2022 I had lunch at their new location with my mum.  It is a fine addition to the Belmont High Street.  A spot of inner city coffee chic in regional suburbia!

This is the cafe in 2021 when it was in a small space down a laneway.  It was quite cosy with cakes in the display cabinet, a few choice groceries for sale and a few tables and chairs inside and out.  As it opened during the 2020 lockdown, the focus was on takeaway rather than eat in.  My parents were very happy to grab a coffee there while on their walks during lockdown.

When I visited in 2021 with my parents and my interstate brother, we were able to sit inside the cafe.  The large windows made for good people watching, although there were less people passing in the laneway than in the high street to watch.  If you weren't facing the window, you could cast your eye over some interesting artworks on the wall.

I ordered the Vegan Sandwich: the smashed garlic and peas, tomato, hummus, mustard, cucumber and spinach came in a toasted foccaccia with some crisps on the side.  It was quite nice though I am not so keen on the mustard as a condiment.

I was pleased to be able to order a can of kakadu plum and ginger kombucha to have with my toastie and a very pleasing intense salted caramel whoopie pie for afters.


There were plenty of cakes to choose from in the display cabinet.  Lots of healthy seeds and lots of decadent frosting.  You can have your choice.

Later last year, Paddington cafe moved to a new premises in a larger, more prominent location on the High Street.  It is a space with less windows, but more tables and chairs.  What hasn't changed is the friendly welcoming staff and ambience including that tempting cake display.  When I visited with my mum last month, we decided to eat outside because fresh air and pandemics go together well!  Not the best place for quick service though!

I ordered the Quinoa bowl with some fried haloumi as extra.  The bowl was a combo of quinoa, rocket, seeded avocado, kale, broccolini and sweet potato hummus.  Honestly I can't quite remember exactly what was in the bowl but I think it was sweet potato hummus.  It was just the sort of nutritious colourful food I needed.  So satisfying.

Again I had the kakadu plum and ginger kombucha.  My mum and I shared a chocolate cherry and pistachio cupcake.  It was one of the nicest combinations of flavours I have had in a cake for some time.  The chunks of stewed cherry were refreshing in the dense chocolate cupcake that I think was made with ground pistachios as well as the pretty swirl of pistachio green frosting.

Since my last visit in April, it looks like their menu has changed again but it continues to have interesting dishes and cater for vegans and gluten free customers.

Paddington Cafe
134B High Street, Belmont  VIC  3216
Menu on ubereats

Sunday 8 May 2022

Twice baked potatoes with cauliflower, cashews and pesto

Baked potatoes are such a satisfying meal as the nights draw in and the evenings are suddenly chilly.  I made these recently when I had a whole cauliflower that I wanted to cook up in a stew but I had decided to bake some potatoes.  I started to fry up some cauliflower and zucchini to top the potatoes.  Before I knew it I had a hearty mixture to load into the baked potatoes and bake in the oven for a second time.

I pulled out bits and pieces from the fridge to add to my potato mixture: olives, capers, cashew nuts and dried cranberries.  (Ok, I keep my dried cranberries in the pantry but the rest was in the fridge.)

The potatoes were in the oven about one and a half hours.  I like to leave them til their skin is crispy and when I squeeze them (using oven gloves or a scrunched tea towel) they feel soft inside.  I really love those really crunchy skinned baked potatoes that I buy at festivals.  They seem to sit in the warmer forever so I don't worry about the potatoes being in the oven too long.  Though they smell good once done, which is every bit as good as a timer!

Mix everything together til you have a cohesive mush.  The potato helps hold everything together.  Taste it and adjust seasoning or if you think of something missing, such a mustard or herbs, add it in. 

Now stuff the mixture into those potato shells.  Mine piled pretty high and then I squished it all down with the back of a spoon.  The flatter the mixture is, the more cheese will sit on top.

Bake them again in the oven.  They just need to warm through and crisp on top.  They can be made in advance, eaten at room temperature.  They can even be eaten with your hands.  These baked potatoes can be modified to suit what is in the kitchen but I really liked this combo.  It tasted almost meaty, though I have been told in no uncertain terms that a what a vegetarian finds "meaty" is quite different from a carnivore!  But even a vegetarian's idea of meaty is pretty good for a cool autumn evening!

More baked potatoes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Baked potatoes with beans and pesto (gf)
Baked potato with haggis 
Cheesy twice baked potatoes (gf) 
Smoky lime peanut baked sweet potatoes (gf)

Baked potatoes with cauliflower, cashews and pesto
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe Recipe
Serves 2

2 large potatoes
olive oil
2 x fist sized pieces of cauliflower, chopped into 1cm florets
1 zucchini, cubed
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
pinch of garlic salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
3-4 tbsp chopped roasted and salted cashews
2-3 tbsp sliced olives
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp capers
2-3 tbsp pesto
1-2 tbsp butter
squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 handfuls of grated mozzarella

Baked potatoes at 220 C for about 1.5 hours or til skin is crisp and it feels soft when squeezed or pierced by a skewer. 

While potatoes bake, drizzle some oil into a frypan (I used a cast iron pan) and fry the cauliflower, celery and zucchni with a pinch of garlic salt until cooked but with a bit of resistance when skewered with a knife (they will cook more the second time).  Prepare remaining ingredients.

Place fried vegies, parmesan, cashews, olive, cranberries, capers, pesto, butter and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl.  When potatoes are baked, leave oven on, slice in half and scoop out the cooked potato, leaving about half a cm shell.  Add cooked potato to the bowl and mix everything together.

Place four potato shells on a lined baking tray.  Spoon filling between the shells, pressing it in.  Sprinkle each shell with mozzarella.  Bake an additional 15-30 minutes until cheese is golden brown and crispy.  Eat warm or at room temperature.  Can be reheated to eat later.

On the stereo:
The Köln Concert: Keith Jarrett

Thursday 5 May 2022

In My Kitchen - May 2022 (easter)

April was a blur of Easter and illness, with the federal election campaign finally underway.  Lots of chocolate and hot cross buns.  Lots of tissues and pyjama days.  Lots of dirty politics.  Covid continues to play a role in my life with three family members getting Covid just days before my sister and her family finally visited from Ireland.  Then my uncle had a visit to ICU with Covid.  And more and more people I know seem to have had Covid.  When Sylvia got a cold and I caught it from her, it seemed that Covid might have caught up with us but the RAT tests and doctors said otherwise.  And now May brings wintery weather, dark nights, slipper, winter boots, limes on the tree and a need to get my bike lights in order.
The top photo is actually in my mother's dining room where she had a pretty display of flowers from her garden, chocolate bunnies and cupcakes on Easter Sunday.  The cupcakes were brought over from Dublin by my sister who thought the orange ones looked like leftover pumpkin cupcakes from Halloween.  I agree that they looked more pumpkin than carrots.  Surely they meant to have carrots with the bunnies and chicks!

I often make a few batches of hot cross buns at Easter.  This year I followed my favourite Sourdough Hot Cross Buns recipe.  But I didn't have pumpkin and so I thought I could add natural yoghurt instead and substitute an egg for aquafaba.  It was such a sticky dough I should have known it would end up a flat underbaked slab of HCBs.  Not my finest moment in baking. 

Just before Easter, Sylvia and I had a nice outing to some fine bookshops and food shops.  We bought books at The Little Bookroom in St George's Road, Fitzroy.  I have always loved visits to the Little Bookroom in North Carlton but we found quite a few tempting food shops near its new location across from Piedimentes.  Nearby is Wild Things Food with lots of interesting groceries.  I was most excited by the Herbs of Life Peach and Apricot Kombucha.  It was quite tart but very refreshing.

I also bought a packet of dried dragonfruit in Wild Things Food.  I've never come across this before and felt there were some good possibilities.

We also swung by Baker D. Chirico in Faraday St, Carlton for some excellent sourdough hot cross buns.

But no matter how good a bakery is at baking hot cross buns, it is not the same as the ones I make at home just the way I like them.  I like to add in different dried fruit to the supermarket dried fruit mix and I love thick crosses. 

I had another go at hot cross buns with dried dragonfruit, dried peaches and dried pineapple.  I was surprised how the dragonfruit made the dough bright pink and broke down in the dough into a pleasing seediness.  The pineapple all but disappeared.  The hot cross buns seems a little tropical and exotic.  If I had time I would love to develop the idea with coconut milk and perhaps even some desiccated coconut in them or on them.  Maybe next year.

The batch of dragonfruit hot cross buns was amazing.  I still didn't have pumpkin but I halved the yoghurt so it wasn't impractically soft.  One of the best things about baking your own hot cross buns is having them hot out of the oven, with the first bun torn into two pillowy halves to hold the melted butter, and the kitchen smells of the sweet spicy yeasty fragrance that is Easter.

On Easter Sunday I left Sylvia and her cold with her dad and I visited my parents, siblings and niblings in Geelong for lunch.  My mum did a lovely roast dinner with lots of crispy potatoes and melting roast pumpkin.  My sister Susie made her fantastic cauliflower cheese that is creamy enough to mop up the peas.  And another sister Fran made some wonderful refreshing punch.  With a cheesecake for afters, it was a fantastic dinner.  After lunch a few of us went to Torquay for a brisk swim in the chilly ocean.  It must be that familiarity breeds contempt as it was all the out-of-towners who headed to the beach!

It was great to see my oldest sister Chris at Easter.  She had brought some treats from Marks and Spencer in Dublin.  I really loved these super soft, super cheesy Cheddar and Red Leicester Hot Cross Buns.  (Much more cheesy than the cheesymite ones from our local supermarket).

My sister also brought some special Easter gelatine-free Colin Caterpillar sweeties.  The caterpillar and easter egg jubes were so cute.  And a Dublin carry bag.

After Easter we took it easy because Sylvia had a cold and then later in the week I caught it from her.  We have take a lot of RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) in the past couple of weeks.  It is my first time I've used RATs.  They were all negative.  I was very grateful that we are now able to be triple vaccinated and test for Covid at home.  How far we have come.  Though I didn't have Covid I had some of the worst post-viral asthma I have had for years. 

I am glad my medication f to see my sister again before she headed home to Ireland.  We went to the Post Office Hotel in Coburg and shared a cheese platter in the beer garden.  It was good to have time together before she hopped back on the plane.  I gave her a lime from my garden that she took home with her.  It is amazing to think the lime was on the tree in my backyard one day and then in her kitchen in Dublin a day or two later.  Life since Covid still seems freaky and special!

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  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 visit more kitchens and her wonderful hand drawn header.