lunch at nobu

nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

It’s so satisfying and pleasurable to step away from that most elusive of gourmand beasts – the perfect dining experience.

Over the weekend I was fortunate to have one such experience at Nobu restaurant in Perth, where a group of work friends and I had lunch.

It wasn’t only the dishes themselves that made it such a memorable occasion but the wonderfully understated elegance of the entire affair.

The ocean – the source of Japanese cuisine’s fresh and natural flavours – is reflected everywhere throughout the warm-hued interior by subtle conceptual references, from the huge clusters of bubble-like golden baubles on the high ceilings to the partitions of gently swaying metallic sea grass.

table twenty eight

Service was friendly and knowledgeable without being at all obtrusive (the waiter assigned to our table seemed almost psychically efficient, appearing whenever needed and then melting away again).

Japanese food is renowned for its refined preparation and presentation, a dedicated art practiced over centuries, and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa offers an innovative menu that embraces contemporary dining whilst clearly revering traditional techniques and dishes.

Every plate delivered to our table was beautifully and delicately constructed, conveying great care and respect to the ingredients.

I’ll leave my photos to tell the rest of the story, as words don’t do it quite justice!

table twenty eight

miniature tacos with scallops; hot creamy & spicy crab

 

pork belly with caramel miso sauce - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

pork belly with miso caramel sauce

 

soft shell crab & sashimi combination - nobu restaurant, perth | table t

soft shell crab & sashimi combination

 

nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

 yellowtail sashimi jalapeño; soft shell crab & sashimi combination - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

yellowtail sashimi jalapeño; soft shell crab & sashimi combination

 

salted caramel miso parfait with caramelised popcorn - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

salted caramel miso parfait with caramelised popcorn

 

filo & pecan praline, berry compote, meringue, coconut & lime sorbet, passionfruit mousse - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

filo & pecan praline, berry compote, meringue, coconut & lime sorbet, passionfruit mousse

 

cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet & raspberry sauce - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet & raspberry sauce

 


gingerbread ice cream & festive cheer

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

While it’s been heating up outside during the past week, I’m trying to keep things cool inside my apartment.

My routine during the holiday break has been hitting the beach early in the morning, which I think is the best time of day to enjoy it (normally my internal work alarm clock still has me up by 05:00am even on my days off!).

Getting down there around 06:30am means avoiding the fierceness of the sun later in the day, the crowds of weekend dog-walkers and the sea breeze that descends by late morning to whip the ocean into a sea of white caps.

Leighton Beach even experienced a small token of Christmas festivities, with a small ornament-adorned tree appearing near the shore during the week – the work of whimsical, kind-spirited local.  I couldn’t resist taking a snap…

festive cheer on leighton beach | table twenty eight

This lovely ice cream recipe is perfect for the hot weather but also using up any leftover gingerbread from Christmas.  Not that I had ANY remaining to speak of – I had to bake a batch especially because the box of gingerbread unwrapped on Christmas morning was devoured in the subsequent 24 hours.

For this recipe I took inspiration from one of my favourite food blogs, If the Spoon Fits.

It’s a site dedicated to the creamy, dreamy frozen creations of ice-cream lover Lindsay, whose fantastic photos and tempting recipes rarely fail to trigger my internal ice cream craving radar.

Concoctions from her site that went straight on my to-make list include key lime pie ice pops, peanut butter and jelly ice cream and meyer lemon pie ice cream.

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

Lindsay posted a recipe for brown butter gingerbread swirl ice cream back in December and it immediately moved to the top of my festive treats priority list.

I went to the effort of making my own gingerbread cookies (because the scent of spices and baking at Christmas time is heavenly) but you can of course use store-bought.

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

gingerbread ice cream

inspired by the recipe found on if the spoon fits


2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk
2 vanilla pods, split lengthwise
1 large piece of fresh ginger, trimmed of skin
1 cinnamon quill
5 whole cloves
6 egg yolks
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup golden syrup
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ cups roughly crumbled gingerbread cookies


To a medium saucepan add the milk, cream, fresh ginger, whole cloves and vanilla pods.

Heat until just at boiling point, then remove from the stove and allow the cream to steep for half an hour. This will infuse the ice cream base with those lovely fresh spices and the fresh ginger.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg yolks, golden syrup, brown sugar and ground spices until you have a thick, rich and even mixture.

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

After the cream has rested for 30 minutes, remove the piece of ginger and return the saucepan to medium heat, stirring gently until the mixture starts to simmer.

Remove from heat, strain through a sieve to remove all the solids and then slowly add the sieved cream to the egg mixture, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk.

Once all the cream has been incorporated, return the entire mixture to the saucepan.  Heat on medium-low and stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Gently pour the cream into a large glass or stainless steel bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool. A lot of ice cream recipes recommend at least four hours or overnight but I’m impatient so my cream mixture only spent about two hours chilling out.

When the mixture has cooled and you’re ready to make the ice cream, add the cream to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. Once the cream has gone through the churning cycle, tip into a loaf pan (or other freezer-appropriate receptacle) and stir through the crumbled gingerbread cookies.

Freeze for at least an hour before serving.


grand marnier christmas cake

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

:: It’s hard to believe another year has flown by and once again Christmas Eve is upon us.

On Sunday morning, our whole family – aunts, uncles, cousins and great-grandchildren – came together at Grandmama’s for Christmas brunch.

I just adore Christmas. It is my absolute favourite time of year for so many reasons, but one of these is the whole family getting together under one roof to celebrate.

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

Year after year I still get ridiculously excited for our festive traditions; Grandmama’s tables joined together to fit everyone in and weighed down with platters of delicious fare (we have so many excellent cooks in the family), the good china and crystal brought out for the special occasion, the bangs and scent of Christmas crackers going off, paper crowns and terrible jokes, champagne and laughter…

And amid numerous animated conversations and surrounded by high spirits, my grandmother – the family matriarch – sits at the head of the table in her usual chair, serene and delighted in her quiet way to see all together again.

christmas at number 4 | table twenty eight

christmas at number 4 | table twenty eight

My contribution this year was a gorgeous Christmas cake, laden with fruit that had been soaked in liqueur syrup since the first of December.

The garnishing of little marzipan oranges and holly make it a resplendent dessert (even if a little old-fashioned, although that is part of its charm).

The recipe advises that this cake freezes very well and can be kept for at least a year in a cool dark place (if for some inexplicable reason you don’t finish it before New Year’s…?). To store, simply keep the greaseproof paper from the tin wrapped around the cake and enclose securely in plastic wrap.

Merry Christmas to all and I wish you safe and happy holidays…

Angelica

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

christmas brunch | table twenty eight

grand marnier christmas cake

adapted from ‘best recipes from the australian woman’s weekly’


grand marnier fruit mix (start about one month in advance)
2 cups raisins

1 cup sultanas
1 cup mixed peel
1 cup dates
1 cup prunes
5 glace apricots
6 miniature glace pears
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup blanched almonds
zest of 1 orange, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
juice of half an orange
1 cup grand marnier liqueur, plus additional to brush the top of the cake

cake mix
250g butter
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 eggs
1 cup almond meal
1 cup plain flour

to serve
3 packets marzipan
orange food colouring
cloves
fresh holly leaves


Place the sultanas and mixed peel in a large mixing bowl. Chop the rest of the dried and glace fruit the same size as the sultanas and add to the bowl.

Add the walnuts, blanched almonds, orange juice, zest and liqueur, stirring thoroughly until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place the fruit mixture in a large mason jar with a tightly fitting lid (or other airtight container).

Stand overnight and then flip the whole jar upside down the following day, allowing the syrup that has pooled in the base of the jar to trickle down the other way. Invert the jar each day until you’re ready to bake the cake…

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

Preheat your oven to 140°C.

Prepare a deep round 23 centimetre (9 inch) cake tin by lining the base and sides with three layers of greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter until soft and add the brown sugar, beating until combined.

Add the eggs the one at a time, beating only until combined before adding the next egg.

Pour the fruit mixture into a large bowl and add the butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon or your hand, stir well until the fruit and nuts are coated.

Add the flour and almond meal, stirring again until the cake batter is thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin.

The original recipe says to bake the cake for three hours but I checked my cake at the two hour mark and it was well and truly ready. To allow for differences in individual ovens and be on the safe size, I suggest popping on a timer to check the cake every 30 minutes after the one and a half hour point with a metal cake skewer.

Once baked all the way through, brush the top evenly with a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur, cover with aluminium foil and let the cake cool completely in the tin.

To make the marzipan oranges, dust your hands well with sifted icing sugar and roll the marzipan into 12 evenly-sized balls.

Roll the balls over the small size of a box grater to create the effect of orange skin. Paint with orange food dye and place on a wire rack to dry overnight. Use your finger to make a small indent into the top of the orange and press a clove into the indent.

Arrange the oranges evenly around the top of the fruitcake and garnish with fresh holly.

Happy festivas!


broccolini & green bean salad with curry leaves & fresh coconut

broccolini, green bean & fresh coconut salad | table twenty eight

:: I’ll keep this post short and sweet, because the end of year crazies are getting to me and I’d like table twenty eight to retain a readership.

Last week I made a snap decision to take the week of Christmas off to recover and recharge, as I think I reached the end of my annual cerebral allowance a few weeks ago and am now just running on fumes.

In the effort not to forget anything and trying to remember from minute to minute why I’ve walked into a particular room or decipher what I’ve madly scribbled on a particular post-it note, there’s a constant bedlam of haphazard thoughts charging around my brain, often emerging in garbled mutterings to myself, and then sudden vocal outbursts when lucid thoughts manage to break through – ‘GhfhrhgnrrmnCHRISTMASCAKEfghrrhfhnfhrngfPETROLfhrghhfhgnrggghhMILK!ghfmrenmrhfhnfhBAILEYFOODfgrhegrhjfhreghngCUPOFTEA…’

So before I get distracted and go off on a tangent, I’ll direct you to the recipe at hand – Yotam Ottolenghi’s broccolini and green bean salad with curry leaves and fresh coconut.

This inventive combination may sound intimidating due to a list of exotic ingredients but don’t be fooled – it’s dead easy.

broccolini, green bean & fresh coconut salad | table twenty eigh

Fresh coconuts have become much easier to come by (the brown rough-skinned type, not the young drinking coconuts) and you just need a couple of household tools handy to open them up.

Use a screwdriver to drill open two of the eyes (one of the three will always be easier than the other two) and drain the coconut water into a glass – perfect refreshment while you’re cooking.

You can then use a hammer to bang along the equator of coconut until it splits or alternatively – as I did – head outside and drop the coconut a few times on concrete paving until it cracks open.

I also had issues with hunting down frozen edamame beans so used shelled broad beans instead, which still worked very well. The combination of black mustard seeds, lime and curry leaves is so wonderfully aromatic… I guarantee you’ll be making this dish again.

broccolini, green bean & fresh coconut salad | table twenty eight

broccolini & green bean salad with curry leaves & fresh coconut

adapted slightly from ‘plenty more’ by yotam ottolenghi


2 bunches of broccolini (or purple sprouting broccoli), trimmed

2 handfuls of green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
½ cup shelled frozen edamame (or substitute with broad beans)
1 medium brown onion, finely diced
2 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
30 fresh curry leaves (or 40 dried curry leaves)
1 – 3 whole dried chillies (depending on your taste)
2 fresh limes
⅔ cup of coriander (cilantro) leaves
⅔ cup coarsely grated fresh coconut
sea salt
olive oil


Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

Carefully add the broccolini stems and green beans.  Blanch for a few minutes until just tender but still with bite.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Pat the vegetables dry and transfer to large serving bowl or platter.

If you’re using edamame, bring the saucepan of water back to the boil and blanch them for a couple of minutes.  Transfer to your colander, run under cold water, pat dry and scatter over the other green vegetables.

Alternatively, if you’re using broad beans like I did, remove the tough outer shells from the individual beans and add directly to the broccolini and green beans (you won’t need to blanch them as they’re already tender enough).

Sprinkle a pinch or two of sea salt over the vegetables.  Stir and set aside until needed.

broccolini, green bean & fresh coconut salad | table twenty eight

Add a few glugs of olive oil to a large frypan over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced onion and a pinch of sea salt to the pan, and gently cook for several minutes until soft.

Add the black mustard seeds and when the seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves and chillies.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of zest from the limes and add to the frypan.  Sauté everything for another couple of minutes, before pouring the fragrant mixture over the top of the vegetables.

Gently turn the salad over with your fingers and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, squeeze the juice of the limes over the top of the salad.  Add the coriander leaves and grated fresh coconut, then gently toss and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

 


peanut butter caramel slice

 peanut butter caramel slice | table twenty eight

:: Each year at work we arrange kris kringle amongst our immediate team and for my gift this year I made a batch of this moreish peanut butter caramel slice. 

Sweet treats work really well as kris kringle gifts, as it’s hard to go wrong with baked goods – especially if they’re homemade and come in a nice container that can be kept and re- purposed (used tupperware doesn’t count).

 It’s also a great option if you don’t know your recipient very well, because a) homemade gifts carry a nice personal touch and b) …well, it’s edible… Enough said.

weekend coffee & bailey | table twenty eight

This recipe hails from the classic cooking repository of the Australian Women’s Weekly, from a specialty biscuit edition that’s got to be at least twenty years old.

I popped over to Mum’s last week to to trawl through her AWW cookbooks and flicking through them brought back so many childhood recollections.  As previously noted, my memory is fundamentally linked to food and triggered by recalling whatever I happened to be eating at the time.

Well, looking through those familiar pages of lemon coconut slice, stained glass biscuits and honey jumbles, I couldn’t help but be transported back to primary school age…

 We’d regularly come home to Mum’s baking, often found still cooling on a wire rack on top of the stove, the kitchen full of sugary smells and – if we were lucky – the mixing bowl still waiting to be licked clean.

peanut butter caramel slice | table twenty eight

I’ve tweaked the original recipe a bit to include peanut butter, by replacing the same measure of butter in the caramel topping (because let’s face it – almost everybody’s life can be improved by more peanut butter).

 (Apologies to those allergic to peanuts, you might have to sit this one out…!)

peanut butter caramel slice | table twenty eight

peanut butter caramel slice

adapted from ‘the big book of beautiful biscuits’ by the australian women’s weekly


125g butter

1 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup plain flour
¼ cup self-raising flour
pinch of sea salt

peanut caramel topping
½ cup brown sugar

60g butter
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
150g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt

 
Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a lamington tray with baking paper.  The baking paper isn’t technically essential (you can grease the pan with a little butter instead) but it makes removing and cutting the slice far easier at the end.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and whisk briefly to combine.

Sift together the plain flour, self-raising flour and salt, and add to the wet mixture.  Whisk on low until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs (I needed to add a teaspoon of cold water to bring mine together).

Once thoroughly combined, tip the ‘crumbs’ onto the baking paper within the lamington tray and use the back of a soup spoon to spread and smooth over the biscuit dough in a single, even layer.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and starting to brown at the edges. 

Remove and set aside while you make the peanut caramel topping.

  peanut butter caramel slice | table twenty eight

Place the butter, sugar, golden syrup and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Whisk together until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is an even consistency.

Simmer gently for 5 minutes before stirring through the sea salt and chopped peanuts.

Remove the caramel from the heat and pour over the biscuit base, making sure all the surface is covered.

Bake for a further 5 minutes and then set aside to cool completely, before removing from the tray and cutting into squares.

 


moroccan broad bean salad with yoghurt dressing

moroccan broad bean salad with yoghurt dressing | table twenty e

My uncle Mark is a fantastic cook and I always look forward to his contributions when the family gets together.

His creations are most often vegetarian and gluten-free (to suit my aunt) and are always packed with fragrant spices and strong flavours, thanks to his Indian heritage and influences from Middle-Eastern cuisine (think Yotam Ottolenghi’s style).

I remember the first time I ate this salad, it stopped me in my tracks.

Each mouthful just seemed to get better and better than the last. The balance of spices, different textures and heat mingling together – earthy, grassy broad beans; caramelised onions spiked with chilli, curry leaves and cumin; the crunch of toasty croutons; cooling, lemon-garlic yoghurt and fragrant, fresh mint to top it all off…

It really is a revelation.

moroccan broad bean salad with yoghurt dressing | table twenty eight

moroccan broad bean salad with yoghurt dressing | table twenty eight

I of course asked for the recipe (before I’d even scraped my plate clean) and uncle Mark kindly obliged.  But I was inexplicably left disappointed and scratching my head the first time I made it, as it totally lacked the intensity and intrinsic layers of seasoning that initially blew my mind…

Essentially, it lacked the MAGIC.

So we arranged a weekend cooking date and I showed up, camera and tripod – and tastebuds – at the ready to capture the creation of this dish.  It had undergone some refining in the meantime with the addition of oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, adding vibrant colour and a subtle sweetness to the palate.  My aunt and uncle have a curry tree in their yard and the freshly picked leaves seem to make a huge difference to the overall final flavour.

We also used the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes in another great ‘salad’ of feta shards, chargrilled chilli peppers, toasted walnuts and balsamic dressing (see the photo below).

Vegetarians and carnivores alike – enjoy!

feta with chargrilled chillies, walnuts & balsamic dressing | table twenty eightfeta with chargrilled chillies, walnuts & balsamic dressing | table twenty eight

moroccan broad bean salad with yoghurt dressing


2 punnets of mixed cherry tomatoes

a few springs of oregano and thyme, leaves chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, chopped (not ground)
1 dried chilli, finely chopped (or more, depending how hot you like it)
10 fresh curry leaves
2 – 3 slices of bread (gluten-free preferably), toasted and roughly diced
handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

broad beans
2 – 3 cups broad beans (frozen or fresh), shelled and pods removed

zest and juice from 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

yoghurt dressing
2 cups thick greek yoghurt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped to a paste
juice from 1 lemon
sea salt


Preheat your oven to 250°C.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a large baking dish, scatter over the chopped garlic, oregano and thyme.  Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for half an hour, or until the tomatoes are blistered and roasted.

Remove and set aside to cool.

If you’re using fresh broad beans, blanch them in unsalted boiling water for a couple of minutes (they should still have bite).  Remove, run under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain, laying on a tray to cool down slightly.

Place the broad beans in a bowl and dress with lemon juice and olive oil (about a 1:3 ratio, one tablespoon of lemon juice to three tablespoons of oil).

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and taste to make sure the flavours are balanced.  Add a little more lemon juice if needed and then let the beans marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.

moroccan broad bean salad | table twenty eight

In a large, shallow bowl (which can also be used as the serving bowl), mix the yoghurt with the garlic paste, remaining lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  Taste to ensure the flavours are balanced, adjust if needed and place in fridge until needed.

Heat a little olive oil in a large, shallow pan over medium-low. Add the chopped onion, cumin seeds, chilli and curry leaves, stirring and cooking until the onions are soft.

As the onions start to colour, turn up the heat slightly, add the diced bread and combine thoroughly with the onions.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly (watch it very carefully!) until the bread is crispy and golden.  Season to taste and set aside to cool slightly.

When ready to serve, add the mint leaves to the broad beans and toss through, before scattering on top of the yoghurt.  Scatter over the spiced croutons and onions and finally, top with the roasted tomatoes.

Lightly sprinkle some lemon zest on top, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive and serve immediately.


beef empanadas

beef empanadas | table twenty eight

:: As mentioned in my last post, I spent a recent afternoon cooking up a Mexican feast with friends.

In addition to Nicole’s drop-dead delicious jalapeño poppers we feasted on these wonderful beef empanadas, courtesy of a new cookbook – ‘My Abuela’s Table’ by Daniella Germain.

In this book, Daniella shares the recipes handed from her Mexican grandmother – her abuela – as well delving in to the basics of authentic Mexican cuisine, such as spices and chilli varieties.

beef empanadas | table twenty eight

But the most stand-out feature of the book are the whimsical illustrations adorning every page, many of which won’t fail to elicit a smile (like cute little chickens recommending favourite recipes)!

Although I’m normally one of those people for whom photos are a necessary ingredient in recipe books, I went straight out to buy my own copy after leafing through Nic’s.

It’s such a beautiful, all-encompassing piece of creativity – go check it out…

beef empanadas | table twenty eight

beef empanadas

based on the recipe from ‘my abuela’s table’ by daniella germain
 
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chorizo, skin removed and finely diced
500g shin beef, trimmed and cubed
3 bay leaves
400g tin diced tomatoes
⅓ cup pine nuts
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
2 cups beef stock
1 tsp white wine vinegar
black pepper
olive oil

for the pastry
5 sheets shortcrust pastry

milk (for sealing the pastry)
1 egg
2 tbsp water


Preheat your oven to 180°C and line two large baking trays with baking paper.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, fry onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the chorizo and fry for another few minutes until the fat from the sausage has rendered and the chorizo is browned (but not crispy).

Add the beef cubes and fry for a further five minutes until browned, before adding all the remaining filling ingredients and combining gently but thoroughly.

Cover the pan and simmer gently for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. After this time, uncover and simmer for a further hour until the sauce is thick and almost dry. The meat should be completely tender and falling apart easily, so you may need to add extra water during the cooking process if it needs longer.

Once the sauce is reduced and very thick, remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely (this is important, as hot filling will ruin your pastry before it’s even hit the oven),

beef empanadas | table twenty eight

When you’re ready to assemble your empanadas, clear a nice big space on your bench top (kitchen tables also work well). Pour some milk into a small bowl and set down within easy reaching distance.

Cut 15cm (6 inch) circles from the pastry sheets and place two heaped tablespoons of beef sauce in the centre of each.

Carefully fold into a half moon shape and seal the edges with a dab or two of milk. Use your fingers or a fork to create fancy folded or crimped edge.

Beat the egg together with the water and brush over the tops of the prepared empanadas, and then bake for 15 minutes until golden and crispy.


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