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24 Jul

Ca va mes amis?

I’m sorry – I have been seriously neglectful of late! Between a trip to the snow, a few late nights in the office and some busy weekends I’ve been eating far more take away than I care to admit!

I even missed Bastille Day! I was planning to get all Frenchy, reinvent Little Miss Piggie as ‘Le Petit Cochon’ and whip up my favourite French fare to share with you but instead I was busy drinking red wine and playing board games in front of the fire in country Victoria! Do you blame me?!

Fortunately the recipe I plan to share with you today requires very little effort and time and the dividends you get from this baby make it a worthwhile investment (banker chat, no big deal, I wonder If the Fin Review needs a food writer?!)

A bit of background… I work in Surry Hills, which feels like the epicentre of Sydney’s food scene. This has its benefits and its drawbacks. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain, but when you have such a plethora of options and are particularly bad at decision-making (as I am), this happens to pose a serious problem!!!

So it seems strange that of all the places at which we could eat, we often end up at The Naughty Chef; a dingy-looking, funky-smelling Vietnamese café on Elizabeth St.

The drawcard? Bun-Bo-Xao.

I was introduced to this Vietnamese salad early this year by a work colleague and have been chowing it down at every chance ever since (usually every Friday lunchtime!)

In fact, I got over waiting for Friday lunchtimes to come around and decided try to recreate it myself ‘a la maison’…

I recommend you try The Naughty Chef’s bun-bo-xao if you get the chance, but if not, try mine…ok, so I can’t quite claim this as my recipe, it’s more a Luke Nguyen / Naughty Chef hybrid, facilitated by moi!). It’s super easy, deliriously delicious and I’m going to take a punt and say it’s pretty healthy too(if that’s what your into!!)- three big ticks from me!!!

Not quite Porgie’s Bun-Bo-Xao

  • 500g sirloin or rump steak
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass (I’ve used lemongrass from a jar before when the real deal wasn’t available)
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 400g thin rice vermicelli
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Handful of mint leaves, torn
  • 4 tbs chopped coriander
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, julienned
  • Half a red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Nuoc Cham20110724-042801.jpg

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 – 7 tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Pour the fish sauce, crushed garlic and lemongrass over the steak. Cover and marinate in the fridge until ready to cook.

Make the nuoc cham by grinding garlic and chillies in a mortar and pestle until it resembles a thick paste.Combine the fish sauce, sugar, water and lemon juice in a separate bowl and stir thoroughly until sugar has dissolved. Add garlic & chilli paste and mix. Set aside.

Soak the noodles in boiling water for a couple of minutes. When soft, drain and rinse with cold water then chop up with kitchen scissors. Once drained, separate the noodles, vegetables and herbs between 4 large bowls.

Heat oil in frying pan over high heat until very hot. Place whole steak/s in and sear. Cook to your liking – I prefer it to be on the rarer side! Once cooked, allow to rest for a few minutes then thinly slice the meat and divide amongst the bowls.

Pour over some nuoc cham (adding more to taste if you wish) and serve with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of fried onion and crushed peanuts.

Yum…now I’m hungry for Naughty Chef! This is a perfect recipe for a fresh lunch or light dinner!

Next up – I’m searching for a good winter recipe to share with you – I’ve been reprimanded by my younger brother for not having gotten around to this already – sorry master! So in his words, I’m going to ‘fix that’!!!

Also – I’m heading home to the beautiful North Coast in a few weeks and hoping to pop in to my favourite local – Harvest Café at Newrybar for a meal! Stay tuned for a review!

Little Miss Piggie xx


Remember your first time?

6 Apr

Well it certainly was a weekend of debuts for me…I’m actually feeling quite accomplished this week; proud even. Proud enough to do a little shameless boasting anyway! That was your warning people!

Most notably, I participated in my first (mini) triathlon! It was surprisingly fun, though I must admit I was decidedly terrified pre-race!

On the cooking front, I made fresh egg pasta for the first time (in preparation for my impending triathlon debut), baked my first loaf of fruit bread and whipped up my first ever batch of fruity, buttery scones! In hindsight, I possibly went a little overboard with the whole carbo-loading thing; nonetheless I had a great excuse!

Why scones you ask? No I haven’t joined the CWA; in fact, I had a perfectly good reason for baking a batch of the good ol’ fashion high tea favourites. JAM! More on this later.

As promised, today’s download is all about last weekend’s road trip…

Destination: Blue Mountains

We got on the road bright and early Saturday morning to make the most of the day. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite packed appropriately for the chilly weather we encountered on arrival, so a good portion of our morning was taken up by emergency shoe shopping (needless to say, I wasn’t complaining)!

After a yummy macchiato at Stockmarket Cafe in Leura (regretfully we didn’t get to try their much-lauded & scrumptious looking breakfast menu) and a whip around the local shops and markets, we headed for Katoomba. We couldn’t visit the Blue Mountains without a trip to the famous 3 Sisters so we picked up a few picnic goodies and made the pilgrimage!

Our makeshift picnic lunch was hands down the most enjoyable dining experience of the weekend. Simple but delicious! The two standout ingredients were the near-authentic, super crusty demi-baguettes from Hominy Bakery in Katoomba and the morning’s market bought chutneys.

There’s just one other place I feel compelled to recommend to anyone who’s planning a visit to the Blue Mountains, Station Bar & Woodfired Pizza. It’s the perfect wintery watering hole…exactly what you need in a place like Katoomba!

We stumbled across this charming bar on our way to the pub for a pre-dinner tipple. The decor at Station Bar & Woodfired Pizza is oh-so-warm and inviting and the temperature inside, much the same. And though I can’t attest to the quality of their wood-fired pizzas, I can say that the few I saw and smelt nearly tempted me to cancel our dinner plans and settle in for the night!

Wood-fired pizzas; cocooning decor; a long and inventive cocktail list; live music and a sensational array of beers on tap and by the bottle…have I sold it to you yet? Get there!

I thought I might share a recipe with you this week. This one was inspired by my trip away…

So I have to confess, I’m a victim for a market (thanks Mum)!! I used to be found hanging around the bead and jewellery stalls but these days, for sure and certain, you’ll find me somewhere near the food, especially if there’s a sample to be had! So naturally I hunted down the local markets in the Blue Mountains area as soon as I knew our destination.

Et voila, success! Thanks to the weekend away my fridge is now laden with delicious chutneys and yummy jams!

In fact I came across rosella jam at the Penrith High St Markets on our way back to Sydney and couldn’t resist stocking up as it’s not so easy to find.

This was the inspiration for my introduction to the art of scone-making…ones of a healthy(er) disposition! See, I told you there was a good reason for it!

The following recipe is a combination of a few recipes that I liked – I’m not sure I’ve nailed it yet, but according to those who sampled the finished product, they weren’t half bad!!!

Please let me know if you have any tips or tricks for scone making!

Fig & Walnut Scones with a healthy(er) disposition

  • 165g cold butter, cubed
  • 3 cups flour or wholemeal flour if you like ’em really healthy!
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked for a wash
  • 2 tbs sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon for dusting

Cinnamon Greek yoghurt

  • Small tub of plain Greek yoghurt or Greek style natural yoghurt
  • A couple of drops of vanilla essence
  • Sugar and cinnamon mix

Preheat oven to 220 deg Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the baking powder, soda, and sugar. Mix.

Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers, forming crumbs. Continue until the mixture is approximately uniform without letting the butter get too warm. Stir in the figs and walnuts.

Add the buttermilk and work it into the dough. Add more if needed to moisten the whole mixture. Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will create tough and chewy scones – not CWA approved!

Once the dough is mostly uniform, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Pat each half into a circle or rectangle about 1 inch thick. Cut into relatively even wedges with a sharp knife.

Place wedges on the baking tray relatively close together to help the scones rise and avoid spreading. Brush each wedge with the egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Reserve any leftover cinnamon sugar for the Greek yoghurt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the wedges are golden brown and smell irresistible!

And for the finishing touches… Cinnamon Greek yoghurt & rosella jam

Call me a killjoy, but I‘m always looking for ways to make sweet treats a little healthier without compromising on taste or decadence.

I’m not much of a cream girl (boring I know) so I created a substitute that will never make you miss cream on your scone again!

Whilst the scones are busy getting golden and delicious, mix some of the leftover cinnamon and sugar blend with a few tablespoons of Greek yoghurt (or Greek style natural yoghurt). Add a few drops of vanilla essence to taste. Once the yoghurt mixture is sweet enough for your liking, lightly whip with a fork or whisk to add some air to the mixture (if you wish).

Spoon into a bowl and serve with warm scones and jam of your choice!

Miss Piggie xx