Monday, April 20, 2009

Healthy freekah salad a la Cumulus

I went to Cumulus Inc in the city for the first time a few weeks ago- have to say, the food didn't knock my socks off and the tapas style way of serving made for an overly long lunch and a nagging feeling of not being quite full (I know- I should just get with the programme- this is the way its done in Melbourne these days!).

One course that I really loved was a Cracked Wheat and Freekah Salad. Lo and behold, in this month's Gourmet Traveller, a reader has asked for the recipe and it is there for all to see.

Now I had a first crack at making the recipe as per the mag, and it was delicious, but I was a little put off by all the butter that goes in. So tonight I had a crack at it without the butter- and hip-hip hurray- it still tastes great and alot less fat.

So if you want to make a healthier version, just leave out all the butter. And to save some time, just cook the Cracked Wheat and freekah together- I can't really see any reason to cook them separately. Not on a weeknight anyway- and not when hubby does the washing up.

Great combination of sour and salty flavours and without all that butter really healthy. Probably took around an hour to make- and we ate it served with some lamb chops - yum- and there's enough left for lunch tomorrow.

I sent the recipe to one of the girls I was lunching with, who also loved the salad- and she hasn't made it yet, cause she is daunted by the ingredients- so here some hints on the ingredients.

The freekah (which I had never heard of before) was available in the healthfood section of our local Coles- so imagine would be available in most large supermarkets, or even health food stores (apparently its amazingly good for you!).

The labne and barberries (neither of which I'd heard of before) are really worth seeking out. A good middle Eastern food store should stock them- I got mine at a little store on Sydney Road up near the A1 bakery (always worth a visit).

The barberries are deliciously tart and I can imagine using them in any recipe you might otherwise use cranberries- they are apparently a staple of Persian cooking and once rehydrated (just soak 10 minutes in water) can be used to spice up couscous or crush them dried to rub into chicken before baking. Here's what they look like dry.

Labne is a cheese made from yoghurt- convenient to buy, but if you were really keen, you could try and make your own- would be quite a feeling- to make your own cheese! Found a recipe here- you'd just leave out the herbs on this one

However you choose to make this salad, I'm sure it will be delish- I certainly love it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Melbourne Restaurant Wishlist

These are the 3 restaurants at the absolute top of my wishlist at the moment- places I've never been but really want to try- based on hype and hearsay

  1. Rumi -
  2. Mutti - Just read about it in Epicure on April 14 - a new Germa restaurant on Elgin Street Carlton. Thomas Stocklinger (ex-Fenix) is Austrian and will be cooking up a rustic storm
  3. Helenic Republic -
Keen to hear what's heading up everyone else's wishlist at present!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Meadowbank Estate


Meadowbank Estate in Cambridge Tasmania is not a secret or insider tip- its probably just about the opposite of secret as everyone we mentioned our impending Tassie trip to, insisted we visit this winery- and I am so glad we followed their advice! This place is absolutely divine!
Bearing in mind that popularity, it would be a good idea to book ahead- we were lucky that they could squeeze us in for lunch with only a 30 minute wait (perfect for some tasting!)- I would hate to think we might have missed it.
Set amongst vines with lovely water views (though in Tasmania just about everything seems to look out over the water!), this was the perfect spot for a late summer lunch. The staff were amazing- not only their efforts to accomodate a late lunch party of 8 on Easter Sunday but their knowledge of the food and ingredients as well as the wine was indeed impressive- both our waiters were mainland expats and absolutely in line with what you would expect in more upmarket Melbourne or Sydney restaurants, but with a more relaxed air.
See Rita's Bite for more raves about the staff:
Now I'm not usually a fan of the tapas style eating- multiple entree sized, try different things out concept- I usually prefer to have a substantial main and go for it- but glad this place did this, we tried out a number of dishes and they had one thing in common- amazing produce (pretty much a given on the island) and simplicity of presentation and flavours- nothing felt overly elaborated.

Smoked trout fritter, garlic aoli

Smoked hock terrine, cornichons, toasted brioche

Rich flavours of the hock in the lightest of light environs- an absolute delight!

Sugar cured ocean trout, potato pancake, crispy bacon, horseradish cream

Breast of honey smoked duck, figs, walnuts, wild rocquette (to share)

The sweetness of the honey smoking and figs complemented the duck so well- perfectly cooked!

Chargrilled tuna, skordalia, grapes, capers, pine nuts, white anchovies
A perfectly cooked piece of tuna- the skordalia was brilliant (must get a recipe for that!).

I'm not going to attempt to describe the wines- as I am anything but an expert on wine, but their 2005 Pinot took my fancy ( some of our party really enjoyed the unwooded chardonnay

But make your own call on the wines.

Meadowbank Vineyard

699 Richmond Road

T: +61 3 62484484

And for a really comprehensive list of Tassie restaurants check out Rita's bites