Saturday, April 24, 2010

The West Australian, April 2010

Kids in the Kitchen

It all started with Play School. Presenters would bake gingerbread men and serve up plates of rubbery spaghetti for Big Ted and Jemima, and children from all over Australia would turn to their parents and say "Can we make that?"
Nowadays, there is a plethora of children's cooking courses, television shows and child-sized kitchen gadgetry.
(Follow link to article)

Fresh, The West Australian, April 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

The West Australian, April 2010

Restaurant Review: Il Cibo

A four-month-young cafe in the hub of Fremantle, Il Cibo seems to be enjoying brisk trade thanks largely, I'd imagine, to the nous of its matriarch Donatella Niedda.

No stranger to the industry, Donatella was formerly at the helm of Beaches Cafe, Toscanini's and Capodonna before hanging up her apron a few years back. Now she's come out of retirement to run the Market Street corner eatery with her daughter, Jessica Thomas. It's a big, warehouse-style space filled with an eclectic, very Freo mix of retro furniture. The outdoor dining area sprawls out onto the pavement while the interior of the cafe, made up of three different rooms, includes a play corner for the kids while Mum and Dad enjoy their lattes.

On the day we visited, the breakfast crowd was just trickling out as we made our way in for an early lunch. Rumour has it there are plans to segue into dinner down the track because of high demand.

Meaning 'the food' in Italian, Il Cibo has a surfeit of healthy, organic fare on offer from behind two massive display cabinets. All of the dishes (bar the bikkies) are made in-house and the lunch menu features cafe classics such as quiches, frittatas and salads, as well as a steak sandwich ($17.50) and chicken and continental paninis ($11.50) coming from the semi-closed kitchen.

We decided on three of the more interesting-looking dishes from behind the glass, which went into the middle of the table to be shared among the group.

A continental 'frizza' ($12.50), a hybrid of pizza and frittata, had a smooth omelette base of herbs, Parmesan, cream and egg with a topping of sliced sausage, olives and shredded spinach. It was a good, solid dish that would have gone down just as well for brekky.

A tasting platter for one ($25) arrived in a fabulous black paella pan. The offerings - which apparently change frequently according to the whims of the kitchen - comprised generous chunks of chorizo, grilled mushrooms, spinach quiche, marinated octopus and a more-ish tomato passata that was begging for some chunks of crusty bread. There was also a wild rice salad with an odd mix of coriander and red currants that didn't quite seem to work.

Spinach and ricotta crepes ($9.50 or $17.50 with salad) were big and hearty and ticked all the boxes, although, like all the dishes we shared, the serving side was on the small side.

Which of course meant more room for dessert. We stuck with the sharing theme and ordered two desserts for the table. Flourless chocolate cake ($6) came up trumps, with a wicked chocolate crust housing a moist, soft centre and served with light-as-cloud whipped cream. Rolled berry pavlova ($6) was good, though the presentation could have been better - it look more like Eton mess on a plate.

The wine list had gone astray so we went with the recommendation of a Flametree sauvignon blanc semillon 2009 ($32), which was a nice crisp drop for a lunchtime date.

A good, healthy way to welcome in the weekend.


The Westn Australian, April 2010

Insider's Guide to authentic Asian

Love Asian cooking but lost in translation when it comes to all those exotic ingredients? To help you separate the shao hsing from the tom yum, we've demystified some of the unusual items in the Asian pantry.


A Japanese rice wine best known as one of the main ingredients used to make sushi rice. It is very sweet in flavour and is used for cooking only. It can be added to seafood to mask 'fishy' aromas.
USE IT: Mix with soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger for a delicious teriyaki sauce.

Palm Sugar

A sugar made from the sweet sap of palm trees (most commonly date and palymra palms), palm sugar has a molasses-like texture and is widely used in cooking throughout South-Est Asia. It is largely unprocessed and therefore has a coarser, grainier consistency than other sugars.
USE IT: For a sweeter, more syrupy flavour, add it to a rice pudding made with coconut milk.

Tom Yum Paste

Tom yum paste is best known for its distinctive hot and sour flavours. Most frequently used in Thailand and Laos, its ingredient base includes lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, fish sauce and chilli, which are all either crushed in a mortar and pestle or pureed in a food processor to form a paste.
USE IT: Give chicken or prawn soup that authentic Thai flavour by adding tom yum paste to your stock and sprinkling with coriander leaves.

Panch Phora

An Indian version of five-spice, panch phora is a spice mixture made up of various seeds - mustard, nigella, cumin, fennel and fenugreek - which can either be used as is or pounded down into a powder. Oil can also be added to make a paste.
USE IT: Add a teaspoonful or two to a meat or vegetable curry dish to give it some extra zing.

Pomegranate Molasses

A thick, syrupy condiment that has its origins in the Middle East. The result is a highly acidic syrup which can be tempered with olive oil or honey. It can be used to add extra tang to sauces, soups and other savoury dishes.
USE IT: Add a dollop to vinaigrettes to give vegetables and salads some punch.

Shao Hsing (or Shaoxing)

A Chinese rice wine that is known to be one of the finest of its ilk, shao hsing is full of flavour and extremely dry, with a flavour not unlike sherry. It is made with fermented rice that has been steeped in the lake waters of Shao Hsing province in eastern China.
USE IT: Add a splash to the wok next time you're cooking up a Chinese stir-fry.


Not just that fiery green dollop that comes with your sushi, wasabi is a potent Japanese condiment similar to the horseradish root. It comes in many forms including dried, powdered and as a paste.
USE IT: Mix wit soy sauce, sugar and rice wine vinegar for a salad dressing with bite.

Rice Bran Oil

Similar to vegetable oil, rice bran oil - made by extracting oil from the germ and husk of a rice grain - is known to be one of the healthiest edible oils around. It has a mild flavour and a high tolerance to heat, making it perfect for deep-frying.
USE IT: Add a glug to your next stir-fry to add a delicate flavour and lower your cholesterol.