flourless tangelo & almond cake

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight
::  Over the weekend I had the sudden urge to drop everything and bake.
It was a craving for the methodical mixing of butter, sugar and eggs; the creation of something tangible to sit in warm, syrupy glory on the bench top and waft sweet aromas throughout the apartment.
In times of change or mounting tasks that seem discouragingly far from completion (several loads of laundry requiring washing, drying, ironing and folding; re-potting houseplants who’ve outgrown their homes; getting another set of keys cut; mentally planning the working week ahead; scrubbing the shower; calling my grandmother to ease my guilt of not speaking to her for weeks; arranging an overseas holiday to match the air tickets I purchased months ago)….
…Well, when all this chaos is bouncing at high speed around one’s brain, being able to follow a clear set of instructions and turn out a tiny, hopeful result in the midst of disorder is quite cheering.
Even for an experimental, non-follower-of-instructions cook like me.
flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight
I’d received some wonderfully vibrant tangelos from my good friend M, whose mother owns the beautifully tendered garden that I’ve shared previously (here).
Their tangelo tree is currently laden with fruit, adding a glorious pop of colour to surroundings which are otherwise subdued in the midst of their winter hues.
flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight
After my first successful round of baking (a banana, date and walnut cake which I’m sure will feature here one day), I was feeling more consoled but still in need of the therapeutic benefits of baking.
Inspired by the vivid tangelos sitting on the kitchen table, I used them as a substitute in the classic combination of almond meal and orange.
Tangelos provide a very similar flavour but have a nice, restrained ‘tang’ that distinguishes them from their orange cousins – ideal for balancing sweetness.
The almond meal retains the moisture of the fruit juice, resulting in an almost pudding-like cake. 
You can serve it warm, straight from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone – or let it cool and save slices for a rainy day, when in need of some sunshine and satisfying cheer.

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

flourless tangelo & almond cake

120g butter

3 cups almond meal
juice of 2 tangelos
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
4 eggs
1 cup castor sugar
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
tangelo syrup
juice of 1 tangelo
¼ cup castor sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a loaf pan with greaseproof paper.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high until creamy and light.
Reduce the mixer speed to slow and carefully add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until the mixture is fully incorporated.
 Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the plain yogurt and add to the butter mixture, along with the citrus juices, vanilla extract and scraped vanilla seeds.
Beat on a slow speed to ensure all ingredients are combined.
Finally, using a spatula, gently fold through the almond meal so that you end up with an even, wet batter.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean.

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

Set aside to cool whilst preparing the tangelo syrup.
Place the citrus juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until the syrup has reduced and become viscous.
Pour the syrup over the cake whilst still warm and allow it to soak into the cake before slicing.


slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde

slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde | table twenty eight
:: If pesto is the indulgent, luxurious Roman aristocrat then salsa verde is its vibrant Mediterranean coastal cousin.
With its punchy, acidic flavours of lemon, capers and herbs, it pairs wonderfully with any type of seafood.
But one union I hadn’t previously considered was using it to give some lighter, fresher notes to hearty winter dishes.
slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde | table twenty eight
Slow-cooked casseroles are wonderful in their own right, served with mash potato or pasta or hunks of crusty bread for the ultimate satisfying tummy-filler.
But I highly suggest giving tradition an interesting new twist with a few dollops of this vibrant sauce.
This was the first time I’ve cooked beef cheeks and to be honest, they really aren’t the most attractive cuts of meat. I was rather taken aback at their appearance and how determinedly tough they were to trim.
But pour over some velvety cabernet merlot and leave them for a few hours in the oven – well, let’s just say that magic happens…
slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde 006

slow-braised beef cheeks
with salsa verde

adapted from ‘delicious. more please’ by valli little

beef cheeks
750ml bottle of red wine
6 beef cheeks, trimmed
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1L good quality beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
olive oil
salsa verde
1 thick slice of white bread, crusts removed
½ cup olive oil
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 handful basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
to serve
creamy mash potato or wet polenta

Preheat your oven to 170°C.
Place the wine in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish over medium-high heat.
Dust the beef cheeks in the seasoned flour. The easiest way to do this is to place the flour in a plastic bag (first make sure there are no holes in the bottom!), pop in the beef cheeks and give the whole thing a good shake to make sure the meat is evenly coated.
In batches, brown the beef cheeks for a couple of minutes each side on each side until sealed, adding a little more oil in between if necessary. Remove and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until soft.
Stir in the garlic and return the browned beef cheeks to the pan.
Add the reduced wine, beef stock and bay leaves. The meat should be completely covered with liquid, so top up with water if necessary.
Cover and cook in the oven for at least two and half hours or until the beef is meltingly tender.
Meanwhile for the salsa verde, break the bread into chunks and drizzle with olive oil.
Mix with your hands so that the oil is absorbed and then place with the remaining olive oil and sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Blend to a paste and taste to check the flavour balance. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with more lemon juice and olive oil.
Set aside until ready to serve.
Once the meat is cooked and completely tender, carefully remove the cheeks and place on a plate, covering with foil to keep them warm.
Place the casserole over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and season if necessary.
Serve the beef cheeks over a bed of mashed potato, ladle generously with the cooking sauce and dollop with salsa verde.



making gnocchi at c restaurant

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

:: Two weeks ago, I was very privileged to be asked into the kitchen of C Restaurant to observe the making of what is arguably their famous dish – gnocchi with napolitana sauce, gorgonzola and spinach cream.
C Restaurant is located on the top floor of St Martin’s Tower in Perth’s CBD and is the city’s singular revolving restaurant, offering a 360° panorama of Perth and the Swan River.
Although challenged to keep up with the dramatic transformation of the city’s dining scene during the past couple of years and compete with the vast number of new bars and eateries popping up, C Restaurant remains a polished venue offering some of the best value fine dining in Perth.


c restaurant, st martin's tower in perth | table twenty eight

Long time followers may remember my efforts to replicate C’s signature dish a couple of years ago; a homage to its gnocchi which is served atop a bed of rich tomato sugo, covered in gorgonzola and spinach cream and a sprinkling of parmesan, then broiled under the grill until golden brown and molten.  Absolutely delicious…
So when Head Chef, Frantisek (Fero) Ilizi, invited me into the restaurant’s kitchen to watch the creation of such a favourite, I was most appreciative and eager to take him up on the offer.
A huge thank you to Fero and the C Restaurant team for such a unique opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes of a commercial kitchen.


making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

To make the several kilos of gnocchi required each day, a mountain of potatoes are boiled, peeled whilst still warm and then passed through a moulie.
The finely mashed potato is turned out on a large surface and seasoned with nutmeg, white pepper and parmesan, before the binding agents of flour and egg yolks are added.


making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight
making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight
making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

The dough is brought together with care.  Fero’s key tip here is to do so very gently and avoiding over-kneading the mixture, in order for the consistency remain as light as possible.
The dough is then divided and rolled into logs, before being chopped into the distinctive diamond-shaped gnocchi.


making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight
making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight
making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

The trays of gnocchi are tipped into vats of boiling, salted water and cooked until the individual pieces float to the surface.
Once removed and drained, they are sautéed in a hot pan until glossy and caramelised at the edges.


making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight
making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

Cream and gorgonzola are added to the pan and heated through until foaming, before adding handfuls of fresh spinach.
When ready to serve, a layer of thick napolitana sauce is ladled into the base of a shallow bowl, gnocchi placed on top and the gorgonzola cream poured over.
After a final sprinkling of parmesan, the bowl is placed under a hot grill to develop a lovely cheesy crust and the final touch is a garnish of sundried tomatoes.


making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

leek & feta tart

 leek & feta tart | table twenty eight
:: Today gave us a perfect, bright winter afternoon – clear and crisp and full of light.
This morning, however, was an entirely different day.
A morning for staying in bed, surrounded by a comforting white fort of duvet and cushions, bedroom curtains open to reveal the grey, rain-drenched world outside, a hot cup of tea steaming on the bedside table and a great novel to while away the hours.
A morning for enjoying all those comforts of winter I hold dear, including those tastiest of morsels borne by my oven.


leek & feta tart | table twenty eight

This lovely savoury tart, though rich and warming in nature, is deceptively light with its crisp, airy layers of golden flaky pastry.
I used goat’s feta, as its distinct acid tang marries so well with the sweet leeks but you could of course use cow’s feta in its place.


leek & feta tart | table twenty eight
leek & feta tart

4 leeks, leaves removed, white and pale green stems reserved

1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tsp castor sugar
pinch white pepper
300ml pouring cream
100g goat’s feta (or cow’s feta, if preferred)
3 eggs
6 sheets filo pastry
⅓ cup olive oil, for brushing
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Ensure the leeks are rinsed well to remove any dirt or grit, then halve and thinly slice.
Heat a hearty glug of olive oil in a medium saucepan on low.
Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes until fragrant, then add the leek slices and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until beginning to soften.
Add the sugar and a pinch of white pepper, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, stir well and taste to see if the leeks need any seasoning adjustment. Be careful not to over-salt, as the feta will provide the bulk of salt to the dish.
Simmer for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, until most of the vegetable liquid has evaporated.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
leek & feta tart | table twenty eight
Meanwhile, prepare the filo pastry on a cool, dry surface.
Brush one sheet of filo gently with olive oil and place another sheet on top, continuing to layer the remaining pastry and olive oil.
Line a high-sided tart pan with the filo layers, pushing snugly into the pan grooves and trimming the pastry as needed.
Lightly whisk the eggs and cream together and add to the cooled leeks. Crumble in the goat’s feta and whisk thoroughly to combine all the ingredients.
Pour into the filo pastry case and bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden and the centre cooked but still with a distinct wobble.
Serve hot or cold with a side of greens.

jewish chicken dumplings

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight
 :: Most people have a much loved dish that makes an appearance during their birthday celebrations, whether it be homemade from the family kitchen, or a decadent meal served at a favourite restaurant.
When my brother was young, he always used to request Hungry Jacks (the Australian Burger King equivalent) for his birthday dinner.
While this might have been interpreted as an insult to our mother’s cooking repertoire, it was only because the number of times we had take-away each year was so few that greasy fries and burgers were a wildly exciting treat.
Luckily, working at Hungry Jacks for four years during high school brought an end to fast-food drought and now it’s usually Mum’s roast chicken that graces the table for his birthday dinner.

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight

As for me, I never had a textbook answer because I find it near on impossible to name a favourite dish. Perhaps if I had a whole week of birthday dinners, it might be slightly easier to decide…
But this year when asked for my birthday dinner request, the first thing I thought of was a bowl of these hearty, wholesome chicken dumplings.
Wonderfully fragrant with notes of cinnamon and white pepper, it’s one of the most comforting meals I know and warming from the inside out.
Certainly a worthy birthday dinner nominee!

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight
jewish chicken dumplings


4 chicken breasts, minced
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 stick celery, diced and blanched
400g can chopped tomatoes
sea salt
olive oil

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic over low heat until softened.
Add the celery pieces and continue to fry gently for several minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes.
Season with sea salt, cover and let simmer on very low while you prepare the dumplings.

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight

In a large bowl, whisk the egg with white pepper and cinnamon. Add the breadcrumbs and minced chicken, mixing well to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Mould into walnut-sized dumplings and carefully place into the simmering tomato sauce.
Cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked all the way through.
Serve steaming hot, over wholegrain or risotto-style rice.

bailey’s bread & butter pudding

 bailey's bread & butter pudding | table twenty eight

 :: This is the grown-up, extra indulgent version of that timeless classic, bread and butter pudding.
A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden yearning for this warming winter pud and was racking my brains for a way to add some additional warm-and-fuzzy factor when my mental tastebuds fell on the perfect solution – Bailey’s!
bailey's bread & butter pudding | table twenty eight
The whiskey-based cream liqueur is an irresistible boozy bonus in this already delicious dessert and I used it not only in the custard but also beforehand for infusing and plumping up the raisins.
Although traditionally this dessert is a great way of ensuring that slightly stale bread doesn’t go to waste, I used a fresh white Vienna loaf in my version which worked wonderfully to soak up every last drop of Bailey’s custard and result in a soft, light-as-air pudding.
Go on – you know you want to…
 bailey's bread & butter pudding | table twenty eight

bailey’s bread & butter pudding

1 fresh loaf white bread (or slightly stale, if you have it on hand)

50g butter
¼ cup castor sugar
600ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
½ cup raisins
8 eggs
½ cup Bailey’s cream liquor
handful of pecans, roughly chopped
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Tip the raisins into a small bowl and pour the Bailey’s over the top, ensuring they are fully immersed.
Set aside while you prepare the rest of the pudding, to allow the fruit soak and plump up.
Using a sharp bread knife divide the white loaf into slices, about an inch in thickness.
Flatten the slices with the heel of your hand and butter the tops thinly but thoroughly. Set aside.
For the custard, whisk the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and thick.
Drain the liquor from the raisins and add to the egg mixture (keep the raisins separate to layer through the pudding).
Add the vanilla seeds and milk to the mixing bowl and whisk briefly until you have an even custard.
bailey's bread & butter pudding | table twenty eight
Butter a large pie or casserole dish and place a layer of bread slices, butter sides up, on the base. Sprinkle with raisins.
Repeat until you’ve used all the bread slices and then carefully pour the custard over the top of everything.
Don’t worry if you find you have a lot of custard left over – wait a few minutes for the bread to soak up the mixture and have another run at it. You might need to do this a few times until the bread reaches maximum saturation.
Sprinkle the top of the pudding with chopped pecans and dust generously with icing sugar.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is golden and crunchy but the centre still has a distinct wobble.
Dust with another layer of icing sugar if desired and serve the hot pudding with a generous serve of vanilla ice cream or scoop of double cream.




chargrilled squid with smokey chilli, fennel & apple

chargrilled squid with smokey chilli, fennel & apple | table twenty eight
:: This recipe is heavily inspired by a wonderful dish eaten at Bib and Tucker a while back, drawing from the rich, smokey-spicy flavours reminiscent of Spanish cuisine.
It was during a lunch date with Mr Pitt, who for many years has been my esteemed partner in wining and dining.
We’ve gradually been working our way through all the best that Perth has to offer in the way of eating and drinking, and some of the best meals I’ve enjoyed have been shared in his company.
Menus are navigated with the long-standing and respected tradition that each diner cannot order the same dish as the other, thus maximising the opportunity to taste as many dishes as possible.
The sampling of each other’s mains is always a civilized and fair exchange – but dessert is pretty much a free-for-all and reaching over the table to pilfer spoonfuls of the other diner’s peanut butter parfait has been known to occur…

chargrilled squid with smokey chilli, fennel & apple | table twenty eight

On this occasion we were dining at Bib & Tucker, a relatively new bistro nestled in the sand dunes and overlooking the beautiful vista of Leighton Beach.
We were seated on the bar right next to the kitchen –the foodie equivalent of being seated in the front row of a rock star’s concert – and were very lucky to have Chef Scott Bridger take the time to chat with us.
He recommended the day’s special of local cuttlefish, chargrilled and studded with quintessential Spanish flavours - smoked paprika, chilli and chorizo – and served on a fresh shaved fennel and apple salad. Magic.

chargrilled squid with smokey chilli, fennel & apple | table twenty eight

chargrilled squid with smokey chilli,
shaved fennel & apple

4 whole squid, cleaned, skin removed and tentacles removed (but reserved)

½ dried chorizo sausage
⅓ cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped
½ fennel bulb
½ green apple
1 lemon
handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
chilli jam
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 long red chillies, seeds removed, finely sliced
4 tbsp harissa
1 tsp sugar
sea salt

Start preparing the chilli jam by heating a frypan over medium heat.
Add the smoked paprika and dry-fry for a minute, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil, heat briefly and add the chilli and garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the harissa, sugar and a pinch of sea salt.
Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture is thick and glossy (similar to a jam consistency). Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.

chargrilled squid with smokey chilli, fennel & apple | table twenty eight

To prepare the squid, use a sharp knife to halve and concertina the hoods with fine slices. Thoroughly pat dry with absorbent paper and set aside.
Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, thinly slice the fennel and apple. Squeeze over the juice of one lemon, toss and set aside.
Remove the casing from the chorizo and finely chop into small ‘crumbs’. Heat a frypan over medium heat and fry until the fat has rendered and the sausage is crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.
Lightly oil a griddle pan and heat over high until smoking.
Add the squid pieces and tentacles, grilling until the charred, golden and cooked through.
When ready to eat, spread the fennel and apple on a serving platter and place the squid pieces on top.
Dot generously with spoonfuls of the chilli jam and scatter with the chorizo crumbs, chopped parsley and smoked almonds.
Drizzle with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.


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