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Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Baking

Holiday baking has pretty much been non-stop and the sad news is I still need to do FIVE more NEW recipes before the end of the year!  I believe it is crunch time and at the moment I am feeling pretty cooked out after baking for three days and making Christmas dinner last night! 
Brown Sugar Pavlova w/Custard Cream & Berries
One of my favorite recipes of the season has been my very own creation and I am calling it 'Christmas Rocky Road', if you feel like making it here is the recipe to enjoy:

Christmas Rocky Road
2 cups dark chocolate chips or chocolate pieces
1 cup milk chocolate chips or pieces
1 tablespoon of butter
8 candy canes crushed
10 chocolate cookies (biscuits) crumbled
3 cups marshmallows (mini or large ones cut up)
Place a heatproof bowl over boiling water and place chocolate and butter in the bowl. Stir once the chocolate has started to melt until completely smooth and then remove from heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and spread into a baking dish. I sprinkled extra crushed candy cane on top. Place in the refrigerator to cool, once hardened cut into slices. Enjoy.

Christmas Rocky Road

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roasted Cornish Hens & Sweet Potato Risotto, Chocolate Orange Biscotti, Self-saucing Brandy Pudding

Roasted Cornish Hen w/Sweet Potato Risotto & Cranberry
NINE more to go...I am getting there!  With 2 Christmas parties to cater and Christmas dinner I should have no problem finishing my challenge.  The last three recipes were Roasted Cornish Hens w/ Sweet Potato Rissotto & Cranberry Sauce, Chocolate & Orange Biscotti and last night I made Self-saucing Brandy Pudding.

Chocolate Dipped Orange Biscotti
The Cornish Hens were delicious and definitely would do this recipe again, would have been really nice with sweet potato mash and maybe some greens.  I am not that impressed with the biscotti, but unless you have a nice warm drink to dip in let's face it biscotti is just so dry!  As for the brandy pudding, it was lovely but was a little low on the sauce, so I think with a bit more sauce and maybe even some nuts or something else in there it would have been even better.
Self-Saucing Brandy Pudding

Friday, December 17, 2010

Easy Hors d'oeuvres

Dates wrapped in Prosciutto 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of catering a jewelry party for my mom, isn't it nice to be home!  My mom is a jewelry designer and launching a new concept of people having parties to come together and learn about the jewelry, have some fun and hopefully make some purchases!  Feel free to check out her website

Crackers w/Brie & Fig Jam
The only new recipe was the 'rocky road', however I did alter it a bit (added dried cranberries instead of glace cherries and almond flakes instead of macadamia nuts!)  As for the other deluctable eats, they were Leila originals: Mozzerella, Cherry Tomato & Pesto Bruschetta, Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Tartlets, Salmon & Cucumber Crostini, Proscuitto wrapped dates and cracker w/fig & brie.
It was a lovely afternoon and a pleasure to cater for my mom. 

Tonight I am determined to make another new recipe, cornish hens w/sweet potato risotto & cranberry sauce.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chocolate Souffle

We touched down late on Tuesday, December 7th and headed to Richmond where we will spend most of the next 2 months.  I had a good 24hours of NO cooking while we travelled, so I figure I must be good to go!  And I have already had several requests for cooking engagements. 

My sister wants a tablenosh dinner, my mother has me booked for 2 events, we have a Christmas Eve Party and my aunt may need my help for their Christmas party!  I have 13 more NEW recipes to do before the end of the year and it sounds like I will have plenty of opportunities to get them done.

Tonight I made recipe #87 which was a chocolate souffle from Delicious Magazine, special Desserts Edition.  It was good, but I think could have been a little sweeter next time, I think the chocolate was a little bitter.  As far as the texture goes, I think it was about right or at least tasted good to us :)!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recipe # 80

The days are going by quickly and I will probably go into frantic cooking new recipes mode soon!  Last night I cooked Snapper for the first time in lemon, butter and a bit of garlic, following a Donna Hay Recipe.  I served the snapper over a 5 grain fritter w/tomato & avocado salsa and pan-fried garlic prawns.
(I also did a blackberry peach cobbler for dessert, I made up the recipe so have to count it as my own - which is an idea for next year...Leila's 100 original recipes!)

Anyhow, the snapper was beautiful, moist, flavorful and was nice with the salsa and combination of other flavors.  We have our Christmas Party coming up on Friday, so I think I will try to whip out some new canape recipes and a new chocolate recipe as well!  Stay tuned and let me know if you want the actual recipes and I will put them up!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Time

In some ways it is hard for me to believe my family in the states is celebrating Thanksgiving today and I am not there.  But go figure I miss one Thanksgiving dinner in American and I end up with four here!  It has been a turkey eating week, the celebration kicked off on Sunday with some American friends and a few Aussies who used to live there and love celebrating Thanksgiving.  I must admit I did not do much cooking for it and only provided a standard appetizer of baked brie w/fig wrapped in puff pastry.  All the other fixings came from other people, it was good stuff.

Then Wednesday night we had another Thanksgiving celebration also hosted by some Aussie friends, this time I did the turkey (I down sized from the Christmas in July Turkey), the stuffing and a pumpkin pie.  Both the stuffing and the pupkin pie were new recipes I pulled off Epicurious.  Personally I thought the pumpkin was tastier than usual and had a richer flavor, it was just a little too sweet, so next time I will add less sugar.  The stuffing was fine, I think I still prefer my grandma's cornbread stuffing, which I am making for tonight's celebration along with her coconut custard pie and my Aunt Isa's cranberry sauce.

Thursday night we enjoyed a small Thanksgiving meal at home with two American friends, we had left overs and made a few extra's, cracked open our favorite wine and gave thanks together.  Afterwards in honor of my family tradition we got out the guitar and sat around the living room singing songs.  It was a lovely night.

And last night we had the BIG Thanksgiving at the home of another American couple with a table set up for 26 people, children included.  It was a fantastic night, a few types of turkey, stuffing, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, mashed potato, sweet potato casserole, rolls and more.  Not to mention 5 pies for dessert and an american football game on the TV!  Good times and good fellowship. 

And now I am officially Turkeyed out...until Christmas!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

22 to go...

This week has been fairly busy cranking out new recipes as I try to wrap up my 100 new recipe challenge before December 31st!  And even though no more tablenosh dinners, I have managed to cater a dinner for 15 for my boss and a dinner for 10 with Pete's students.  This week I am doing some desserts for another work event and catering a birthday party for my Father in-law...up to 30 people, I could be a little 'cooked out' by the end of it!
New recipes have included: spicy cous cous encrusted chicken, pan fried goats cheese salad, poaches pears, lemon tart, passionfruit & coconut tart and raspberry muffins.
Cous cous encrusted chicken, with pan-fried goats cheese salad and beans
The chicken was awesome, definitely a keeper as well as the goats cheese, yum.  The raspberry muffins were a Curtis Stone recipe and more like souffle muffins because they used egg whites as the rising agent, they were a hit, very moist and delicious.  Both tarts were also very nice and as far as the poached pears in port, they were terrible!  The port tasted pretty gross with the pears, not a good combination, Donna Hay...what were you thinking?

I am up to 78, I reckon I better do some good techinical recipes and finish that Snow Egg from Masterchef...hmmmm will keep ya posted!

ps. For anyone interested I am going to post a few of my recipes soon, so you can actually use some of the winners yourself.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two Degrees of Seperation

Despite the amount cooking disasters I had in preperation...somehow another fabulous night occurred, filled with all sorts of people who do all sorts of things.  And it was almost creepy the way people figured out they were connected!  There seemed to be 'two degrees of seperation' happening.  Itwas awesome, pretty much everyone who came figured out how they had a connection with someone else.  For example, there were two lawyers at the table, who came seperately and did not know each other, however once they started chatting it turned out one had read and scanned an article written by the other that very day!

Leading up to this tablenosh my day seemed to be filled with kitchen mishaps (such as my burnt chocolate mousse, gooey merengues, gluggy risoni, fogotten roasted peppers, smoke alarms and more...) and I think there was a part of me thinking 'HOW IS THIS EVER GONNA HAPPEN?'...but it did, with the help of my fabulous sous chef (Leslie) it all came together and people came, they ate, they laughed, they shared stories and they all had a good night enjoying community around food. 

And this was the menu:

Aperitif: Mango Malibu Martini
Starters: Macadamia & coconut crusted prawns w/spicy aioli
Zuchinni & corn fritters w/labna & tomato salsa
Main: Pan roasted swordfish w/balsamic reduction
Risoni w/sundried tomatoes & asparagus
Rocket & sautéed green beans
Dessert Trio: Lime tartlet w/citrus cream
Chocolate mousse spoon w/strawberry coulis
Berry rhubarb & vanilla bean custard crumble
Digestive Baileys

I think I was most pleased with the zuchinni & corn fritters w/salsa and the berry crumble combination was pretty good.  All in all the food was fine but it was the people that made the night.  I am looking forward to picking it back up again in February 2011 until then you might have to travel to the US to get a spot at tablenosh! 

It has been a great year and exciting venture, I have learned heaps in the kitchen althought I still have about 25 new recipes I need to make before the end of the year!  I look forward to seeing what 2011 will bring and who might end up at my table.   

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tablenosh 2010 Finale Dinner

Finishing with brunch did not feel quite right...I have convinced my sweet hubby to let me do a 'finale' tablenosh dinner.  However since we are headed to the states for Dec. & Jan. the only date I had free was NEXT Saturday night!  So very short notice, but hopefully will draw in a few spontaneous diners who want to enjoy my favorite recipes of 2010.  Now I just have to remember what I have made and actually narrow it down to the best of the best.  Feel free to leave me some comments to help me choose!!!  I need 2 appetizers, Main, dessert, and!
Here are a few pics to 'whet' your appetite and inspire some feedback :)

Pan Fried Chicken w/Sweet Potato Mash, Mushroom Herb Sauce & Asparagus

Dukkah Encrusted Salmon, with Cous Cous Salad & Asparagus

Sundried Tomato, Goats Cheese & Pesto Tartlets

Chicken Cacciatore

Citrus Cake w/Passionfruit Custard & Lemon Cream

Fijian Style Curry w/Jasmine Rice

Pot Au Feu

Red Velvet Cake w/Fresh Berries

Wholemeal Pasta w/Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Parmesan


Monday, October 25, 2010

Friday Night Tapas and Rainy Day Brunch was a big weekend.  I don't think I will being putting on back to back events again, but hey ya gotta learn some how!
Friday night tapas and sangria for a private party was fabulous.  I think all the guests enjoyed themselves as well as the tapas and sangria.  The menu consisted of roasted capsicum dip with crostini, spicy lentil & pumpkin dip w/crispy pita bread, spanish meatballs, zuchinni & corn fritters w/ tomato salsa, crispy handcut potato's with garlic aioli, chorizo flambe and garlic and chilli, garlic & coriander prawns.  Finished off with vanilla bean & mascarpone custard spoons, chocolate brownies w/ganache and fresh strawberries. My favorite...the custard...AMAZING (just finished eating the last drop!).  I will eventually post up this delicious must make recipe for all to enjoy.

As for much for my sunny day patio rained and poured and the sun did not come out and therefore I had to shift things around and do it all inside.  Which was fine, but not quite my original vision.  The hit for the brunch was definitely not me or anything I did...I would say it was the coffee!  My friend John was SO gracious and blessed us with his barista skills and coffee machine for the morning.  I was impressed.  He sourced the best of beans to match my menu for the morning and was prepared to make all requests.  It was pretty funny when I went to take the orders and had a full list of drinks for him...from picolo's to double machiatto's, he did a fantastic job.
Otherwise I think the food went down okay, the menu for the morning went like this:

Begin:  Strawberry Champagne Cocktail
First: Mini Raspberry & Rhubarb Muffins, Mini Broccoli & Cheddar Muffins
Second: Coffee by John: Seasonal Espresso Blend, Market Lane, Melbourne
Third: Ricotta, Honey & Banana stuffed French Toast, Breakfast Style Potatoes, Three Cheese Tartlets with Spinach & Prosciutto and Shortcut Bacon
Finish: Passion Fruit Sorbet with Mango Coulis

Thursday, October 21, 2010

double time

this weekend is gonna be my first attempt at 2 tablenosh events in one weekend (i could be crazy)!  tomorrow night is a private 'tapas & sangria' function.  i am gonna try out a couple new tapas ideas as well as utilize some of the favorites from my previous tapas night.  so far the sangria is soaking the vanilla custard is half way there and the choc brownies just need some ganache...i think tomorrow is gonna be a full day in order to get all the rest done!  but am definitely looking forward to an evening of meeting new people and sharing the tablenosh love...

hopefully i can do a quick turnover and be ready to go for my first tablenosh brunch!  i have even managed to get an expert barista (no joke, he is actually a barista judge!) to join us for the morning making coffee's.  the menu is coming together with raspberry & rhubarb muffins to start, stuffed ricotta, honey & banana french toast, homestyle breakfast potatoes, ham & swiss tart, bacon and more...

so, here's to a good night's sleep and a fabulous day of cooking tomorrow!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

filled up

I really cannot tell you how much pleasure it gives me to have my home filled up with people telling stories around the table!  It was another great evening, it truly amazes me that it all comes together, but it does.  The last guests left about 11:30pm and we probably could have chatted the night away.  I am pretty exhausted, but was all worth it!  Not sure how I will cope with the double next weekend, but only one way to find out.  I will post some food pics up soon and explain the tonight's menu.  All I can say is the lemon-blueberry cheesecake parfaits were definitely a hit!  And a big thanks to my fantastic side-kick Allie, could not have done it without her. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe

If you are interested in making your own version of this cheesecake give it a go (here is my attempt at giving you the recipe I used, although I tend to eyeball things, so not quite sure about the measurements)!  It is flexible so feel free to experiment...and the plain lemon with no blueberries is also good, especially along with fresh strawberries or raspberries.

1 package of plain biscuits/graham crackers
1/4 cup almond meal
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Lemon Zest
125g Butter (1/2 cup) melted

I used my food processor to grind up the dry ingredients and then add the wet ones.  Press into a springform pan, I put baking paper down first but you don't have to.  Bake on 375F / 180C for about 10minutes.

2 packages of cream cheese (16oz/500g) (room temp)
1 250g/8oz container of Ricotta
3 eggs (room temp)
1 1/4 cups sugar
Juice from 2 lemons
Zest from 2 lemons

Mix the cream cheese and ricotta until smooth, mix until creamy and then slowly mix in the lemon juice and zest.  Finally add eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.  Pour the filling into the base.

Blueberry Swirl
3/4 cups frozen blueberries
2 Tablespoons of sugar

Heat the blueberries (you could also use fresh ones) in a small pan with sugar until juicy and warm.  Then uses a mixer to chop and mush the blueberries to make a compote.  Dollop 4 blobs of blueberry mixture onto cheesecake filling and use a knife or skewers to swirl around.

Bake cheesecake at 160C/ 325F for about an hour and ten minutes or until set.  Allow to cool and then chill, probably best if chilled overnight.

If you want to do a glaze you can just do a thin layer of whip cream or use sour cream.  I blend the two add a bit of lemon juice and some confectionary/icing sugar.  You can spread this on once the cheesecake is completely cooled and top with fresh blueberries and lemon zest for added decor!  Enjoy...and if I forgot something don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Picnic with Sydney Food Bloggers

After a VERY busy night working on my lemon ricotta cheesecake with a lemon sour cream glace and blueberry swirl, cooking up a new recipe for tablenosh (pesto, ricotta and sundried tomato stuffed chicken)and making a couple of quiches for a friend, I managed to pull it together this morning and headed to a Sydney Food Bloggers Picnic in Centennial Park.  Who knew there were SO many other people blogging about food in Sydney!?

It was a Mad Hatters theme picnic where everyone was invited to bring a dish to share, which would also be judged and prizes for favorites.  It was delightful, I had so much fun chatting with other foodies and sharing about tablenosh.  It was also fabulous trying everyone else's food...yum!  I thought my cheesecake actually turned out really well, but unfortunately it won no prizes.  But there was lots to be judged and choose from so I don't feel too bad.

I am really excited to keep an eye on some of these blogs, especially and  Thanks for a fabulous afternoon fellow food bloggers and hope to see some of you at my tablenosh soon!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Not the ONLY underground restaurant!

A couple of months ago I was so excited to discover that tablenosh is NOT the only thing happening in Sydney’s world of ‘underground’, ‘hidden kitchen’ or ‘secret supper clubs’!! To my own excitement I found an article that list 5 other groups all happening in Sydney, of course my next step is to get myself a seat at one of these events!

Meanwhile, tablenosh continues to be great fun as I cook up new recipes and experience new faces around my table! This month should keep me on my toes, as I do my first brunch and a Saturday night dinner and two Private Functions!

As I continue to try and spread the word about my ‘in-home’ dining concept, I would love your help. So, please book in to bring your friends, colleagues, family or just grab your neighbor for a night out to dinner…in my home!

Thanks so much for your support and excitement for my Tablenosh Project.
Yours, Leila

Upcoming Nosh Nights:
Saturday, October 16th at Dinner 7pm
Sunday, October 24th at Brunch 11am

Cooking from Callalla

We just returned from a few days in Callalla Beach with friends, a great opportunity to take advantage of a lovely BIG kitchen and people to cook for!
This was a mild fji style curry with fresh pineapple.

For afternoon tea I made some Zesty Lemon Scones served with Lemon Cream & Raspberry Jam.
A new dessert was poached pears in dessert wine with vanilla bean, served with vanilla icecream. Yum.

There were a few others, but for some reason I cannot get the pictures to upload properly and I am sick of trying!

Next Tablenosh date is Oct. 16th and there are still a few seats available!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

'Wet Paint'

Yesterday was our third wedding anniversary, so of course I thought we best go out for dinner.  We wanted to be somewhere near the beach, so with a bit of research I found this fabulous little restaurant in Bronte called 'Wet Paint'. 

When we got there we were the only ones there...but by the time we left the place was packed.  Beautiful ambiance and the food was delicious.  I started out with a raspberry mojito, one of my favorite cocktails!  Pete had a goats cheese souffle with salmon, basil and dill, for entree and I had sesame crusted prawn cutlets served over a Waldorf salad.  Delish!

And then the mains, I could not refrain from ordering their signature dish which is a 'Louisiana stuffed chicken seared breast, stuffed with cornbread, sundried tomatoes and cashews, served with a lemon butter sauce!  It was delicious,  I might have to give this recipe a try myself!  Pete on the other hand ordered the Fillet Steak with Bearnaise prosciutto wrapped eye fillet steak served with roasted field mushroom and bearnaise sauce.  We were very satisfied.

We went ahead and ordered desert, but must say I was not as impressed with the desserts, I also think I was too full to be eating anymore!  Overall it was a really good find and I would definitely recommend this lovely spot.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday Night's Nosh

Fridays are a little trickier...but somehow it all came together and tablenosh last night was fabulous (well at least I enjoyed it).  The day started with a very early morning trip to the Sydney Markets, only to find out they were not really set up for the public until 9am (I got there at 6:45am)!  In the process of avoiding being hit by a forklift and try to find my way around vegetable chaos, I met a lovely guy who informed me I needed to come back at 9, he must have seen the look on my face and offered to shout me a coffee.  So, we sat down over a coffee and chatted about the world and all its troubles (it was pretty funny considering he was wearing one of those shirts that says 'sh** happens').  After my coffee with Bob, I hopped back in the car drove home through the Paramatta Road traffic and got to work on some baking.

Take Two...I headed back to the markets at about 10:30am.  Whew, they were up and running and I was able to find everything I needed other than limes (clearly they are not in season at the moment), as I found them at Franklin's for 19.99/kg!  I pulled back into the driveway about 11:45am, unloaded the groceries and went to get my key and realized 'Oh NO I am locked out'!!! Seriously what a day already.  Fortunately I was able to go pick up a key from the real-estate office.

Things calmed down after that and my friend Chelsea came by to help me do some prep-work and be my taste tester.  The only other close disaster I had was almost chopping off the end of my middle finger!!  This is what happens if you take your eye off the knife in the midst of panic, whew I never realized how protective our fingernails are, thankfully it was just a small cut.  I put on a band-aid and kept going.

Okay so tablenosh...what a fun group of people!  Being an extravert definitely makes it hard sometimes to remain in the kitchen when the lounge room is lighting up with laughter, it was fabulous.  The smoke alarm added some extra laughs for the group (as I kept setting it off), I thought this just added to the 'in-home' experience.  A special thanks to my assistant for the evening, Julie Bosma, she was an excellent help!

The guests were welcomed with a pre-dinner cocktail, a Leila original that I called a 'strawberry splash'.  Basically a scoop of lemon sorbet, malibu rum, lemonade and a dollop of strawberry granita...refreshing and yummy!  The starters for the evening were broccoli and cauliflower fritters with a cheesy dip and grilled haloumi. 

The main for the evening was Grilled Swordfish on a bed of rocket & cous cous salad, topped with a mango salsa and fresh coriander pesto.  I am just bummed I did not actually get a bite myself!! (guess I will have to make it for Pete and I sometime)

The dessert trio got a delightful response, Chocolate Mousse Spoons, Mini Berry Rhubarb Crumble and the Petite Citrus Cake with Passionfruit Custard and Lemon Cream.  I think the guests were well pleased, I definitely gonna have to make the crumble again.  Strawberries are in season at the moment, so it was primarily fresh strawberries and rhubarb stewed with brown sugar and I threw in a few raspberries for flavor.  As for the crumble topping, the trick was using ginger cookies and crushing them into the usual topping. 

After dinner we all retired to the lounge room to finish things off over iced baileys, dessert wine and coffee.

What can I say, I am delighted to have had another evening of good fun and good food in my only reget and utter embarrassment for the evening was, I forgot to put napkins on the TABLE - I went to go crawl into bed and there sat all my neatly pressed and folded napkins!!! oops - at least the food wasn't too messy!  

On another note, I am excited to say I have my first tablenosh 'private function' booking!  And as for the next Nosh Night open to the public, it will be on Saturday, October 2.  I am already taking bookings, so don't me now to get your spot!