Getting Sauced

If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would hands down be pasta.

Why not try a pasta bar appropriately called Sauced? o1

Upon entry, my nose was filled with the aromas of Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves, and my ears were given a little bit of a shock with the indie pop music that was being blared over the sound system. Like the name suggests, Sauced specalises primarily in pasta dishes, but serve some sides as well. Prices ranged from $15-$25 for pasta dishes and $5-$9 for sides.

This place is not your traditional, home-style Italian restaurant. Nonna is definitely not out the back making pasta by hand. The interior was similar to that of a hipster, warehouse inspired cafe, with wooden chairs and tables, and a bar attached to the counter. It would roughly fit 50 people at maximum capacity.

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After perusing the menu, I decided on Osso Buco filled Ravioli in Amatriciana sauce.

 

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After a short wait of 10 minutes, steaming hot ravioli pillows covered in a vibrant, red tomato sauce and pieces of pancetta greeted me, garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil leaves. There was also a slice of toasted bread to help mop up the leftover sauce. Let’s say that I left feeling extremely satisfied.

The fact that I was eating at a trendy pasta bar and not restaurant is indicative of how pasta is engrained into the Australian diet. As a city where multiculturalism is generally promoted, Melbourne certainly caters for a wide range of cuisines from all over the world, and makes them easily accesssible to its people. Having lived here, I am more inclined to try foreign dishes and be more accepting of new cultures.

So, why don’t you go get sauced? Locations here.

 

 

Almond Biscotti

For the food fair, I decided to make the humble Italian biscuit, biscotti.

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I first ate biscotti when I was 5 years old and my family had  moved to our new house. After we had settled in, the elderly couple next door came to welcome us with some homemade biscotti.

Being the greedy child I was, I ate one immediately, and crunch! These biscuits were a lot harder than I expected! Many years have passed since, but I still remember that first bite and have wanted to recreate it.

Initially, everything was going fine. I mixed the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients…but this dough was nothing like I had encountered before…

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Dry and crumbly, I struggled to get the dough to stick. In my panic, I resorted to googling ‘how to fix dry biscotti dough’, and surprisingly, dry dough is normal! I did however, add a tablespoon of water to make my life a little easier and continued to knead.

Eventually, after putting in some elbow grease, I managed to form to oblong shapes and put them in the oven to bake.
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To create the dry and crunchy qualities of biscotti, the dough has to be baked three times Once to set the dough, and then the dough is sliced up and baked again on either sides.These biscuits are simple to make, but boy do they sure take up a lot of time!

And the final result….

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Success!

At the food fair, two girls tasted my cookies, both saying that they found the cookie very hard, but they liked how they could taste the almonds. Another girl calledalso commented that she would have liked some coffee to dip the biscuit into.

At the end of the day, I was pretty pleased with my results. Here’s the recipe I used🙂

Eggplant Parmigiana

Word of the Day: Parma

According to Urban Dictionary, it’s Australian slang for a chicken parmigiana, normally used in the phrase “pot and parma”.

I’m about to tell you there’s another alternative:Parmigiana Di Melanzane

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Doesn’t that just look like a slice of heaven? So much better than this…

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Parmigiana Di Melanzane, or ‘Eggplant Parmesan’ is actually a traditional dish found in Italy. Eggplant Parmesan is a casserole dish consisting of thin deep fried slices of eggplant, layered with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, parmigiano cheese, basil and hard-boiled egg slices.

Are you salivating yet? I know I am.

There is much debate over its origin, with three regions claiming ownership of the dish: Campania, Emilia Romagna, and Sicily.

The first theory: This dish is very famous in Campania, so naturally people think that it must come from there due to its popularity.

Second theory: The term “Parmigiana” means to cook like the Parmesans, who were inhabitants of Parma, a city in Emilia Romagna famous for its culinary tradition.

Third theory: The Sicilian word “Parmiciana”, means a wood shutter having a set of parallel slats called louvers which the layers of eggplant resemble.

Whilst the assembly of an eggplant parmesan is roughly the same, the preparation can differ. Some prefer to dip the eggplant slices in batter or egg and then fry it, or some flour it and then fry it. There is also an alternative to bake or grill the slices to create a lighter dish.

There are international variations of this classic recipe. Both Australia and Argentina have veal or chicken parmigiana, and England uses pork. They do not have layers though, everything is just piled on top of the meat.

Which ‘parma’ do you prefer? The original version or the international version?

 

 

 

Straight From the Baker’s Oven – Baeckeoffe

If you’re anything like me, winter is easily the worst season. Icy winds, frost-bite inducing temperatures and just miserable, dreary skies. Bleugh.

Luckily for me, plenty of people associate winter with (over)eating delicious winter-warming meals, and Alsace in France is no exception.

Baeckeoffe, meaning “baker’s oven”, is a flavoursome dish that is made up of layers of beef, pork, lamb and root vegetables marinated in a dry white wine, usually a Riesling (one from the region of Alsace is preferable) and baked in the oven in a casserole dish with a lid.

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Y.U.M. I’m so glad you can’t see me drooling right now.

Inspired by the Hebraic tradition of Shabbat where the was no use of fire between Friday night until Sunday, the women would prepare this dish on Saturday afternoon and drop it off at the village baker’s oven to cook whilst they attended the Lutheran church service. After church, the women would collect their dish and take it back home to eat with their family.

Some versions of this dish include “rope dough”, where a dough of flour, water and oil is used to seal the lid and the baking dish together, keeping the stew moist inside.

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This Alsatian classic is rustic in style, not so typical of the delicate haute cuisine that France is so well known for. However, it still requires plenty of careful preparation.

Although this dish was originally made for family meals, plenty of chefs in Alsatian brasseries and restaurants serve this on their menu. They do however instead of stewing the meat, cook it directly with the white wine.

Try this recipe for an Australian adaptation of Baeckeoffe, with the addition of a brussel sprout salad on the side.

Michirones

Ah, Spain.

The land of sangria, siestas and sunshine: destination summer holiday. Sorry to interupt the daydream, but let’s just change up the scenery.

Ever seen Spain like this? Welcome to winter in Murcia.

It’s unbearably cold for your Australian-acclimated body, it’s even snowing and you’re craving something hot to warm up those insides of yours. Don’t worry, I have just what you need to satisfy those comfort food needs!

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Oh hello, my scrumptious dish of michirones. Hailing from the city Murcia, michirones are served as an appetizer in tapas bars.Comprised of dried beans stewed with cured ham, bacon, chorizo and garlic, it is a hearty dish eaten during winter. Don’t forget the paprika and bay leaves!

Served in a hot claypot to retain heat, it reflects how Murcia was famous for its ceramics. The combination of chorizo and paprika create a vibrant red broth, packed full with flavour and nourishment. A bottle of chilled wine is always ideal to have nearby, as the dish can be spicy!

Whilst Murcia is known for its fresh fruits and vegetables due to its handy location of being near a huertas which the Segura River passes through, the use of dried beans is indicative of when people used to trade from ports and docks, and food had to be stored and cooked in a way that would last a long journey. Designed to be shared in the middle of a table, michirones were not only a simple dish to make, but also one that reminded traders of their families at home whilst they were away.

This dish is extremely popular in Murcia, but is also served in the province of Alicante, in Hellin. In Hellin there is also the addition of potato.

Here is a recipe for you to try!