Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thai Naan a Disappointment

We have watched the Thai Naan in Chatswood go from a homey, traditional 30 seat eatery with dishes from $8 to a two storey, stark modern, brightly lit, $27 per plate restaurant.

The food has always been outstanding but tonight we were a little disappointed. Possibly, it was our choice of menu items but the food just wasn't up to it's normal creativity and incredible flavor.

The room was very stark, almost clinical.

 Usually the restaurant is packed but tonight the upper level was devoid of people. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

I normally like to drink an unoaked Chardonnay or crispy Savingnon Blanc with Thai but tonight I felt like a mild red and the Sangiovese was perfect. A nice complement to the duck and beef.

We ordered the Pad Thai in lieu of the Mi Krop we were craving but were sadly disappointed.

The Beef Salad was my favorite but even better the next day for lunch.
Pad Thai
Beef Salad

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Niece Makes a Feast

Our niece, Tatum is currently studying at The Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts  and loves to cook so her gift to us all was a sumptuous feast. Although, in the pastry program, Tatum excels in cooking in general. It was a fabulous meal. Thank you Miss Tatum!

Hors D'oeuvres
Prawn Tempura

Salmon Mousse wrapped in Cucumber with Salmon Roe

BBQ'd King Fish stuffed with Green Mango and Spanish Onion
Baked Turkey

Glazed Ham

Roasted Vegetables
Mango Salsa

Roasted Squash Salad

Flaming Christmas Pudding and Pineapple/Coconut Cups

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Slow Cooked Beef Pasta is Inexpensive and Tasty...

This is a variation on a Delicious magazine recipe that really worked well for our busy family and fit the requirement for our athletes of protein and carbohydrates.

Firstly you need to marinate the meat overnight. I used rump but you could use chuck steak.

The marinade...
1 carrot chopped
1 onion chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary
5 juniper berries bruised
4 cloves
750ml dry red wine

The next day, drain the beef and vegetables but keep the marinade.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a little oil in a large flame and oven proof pan, I like my Le Creuset. Brown the meat on all sides.

Remove the beef and set aside.

Add the vegetables and cook until softened.

Return the beef, and marinade and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Add 400 grams of chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup of beef stock, 10 grams of chopped porcini mushrooms and the soaking liquid.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours or until beef is tender.

The final dish will be rich and meaty. My kids like a little more tomato flavor so I added some tomato sauce. Remove the meat and shred with two forks. Meanwhile reduce the sauce. You could serve it as is with potatoes and vegetable sides or together with pasta and peas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Light Lunch with Smoked Salmon and Arugula

Apparently my omega 3 oil levels are low this week as I had a strong desire for smoked salmon. Simple enough yet tasty, I threw some on top of arugula with a little persian cucumber, sugar plum tomatoes, onion (yes I'll pay for it later) and capers. Drizzle with a good quality olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper...there you have it, lunch!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dinner Club at Cafe Nell

NW 20th and Kearney
We were grateful that our once a month Dinner Club friends, The Nasons, happened by this wonderful eatery the previous week during an outing in Northwest Portland. 

A charming restaurant with it's warm fire place and splendid holiday decorations, Cafe Nell was poised to impress. 

First up, cocktails. Would they pass the test of this discerning group of cocktail drinkers. I believe the answer was yes. (I am a wine drinker and yes, the selection was wonderful).

In addition to the distinct glassware, the consensus was that the cherries were the best ever tasted in a Maker's Manhattan and the balance of sweet to sour was just right in the Lemon Drop and other drinks. But the prize goes to the Monkey's Gland for the most uninviting name for a cocktail!

Now the food has a lot to live up to. Was the Chef up to the challenge?

Appetizers consisted of Mussels which attracted um's and ah's from the group (I'm allergic to shellfish so you'll have to take their word on it) and a very fine, not chunky and very tasty Black Bean soup.

The bread was amazing. Crispy crust and soft inside and very rustic in flavor. I am usually not a big fan of filling my tummy on bread before a meal but one taste and I was hooked!

We managed to select a variety of main meals which were all incredible.

Steelhead and Prawns over Risotto
Pan seared Sonoma Liberty Farms Duck Breast, bacon roasted Sauvie Island Brussels sprouts, Pomegranate gastrique (a reduction of wine, sugar and fruit).

Braised SuDan Farms Lamb Shank, RedTruck Farms celeriac prepared two ways, red chili demi glace.

Chipotle and Espresso Braised Cascade Natural Short Ribs topped withjalapeno relish, served over creamy white Bob’s Red Mill grits 

Venison and Prawns
Pumpkin Creme Brulee

So good, you have to see it again!

A pleasant evening altogether!

And of course you can read more reviews at Urbanspoon.
Cafe Nell on Urbanspoon