Monday, October 19, 2009

Iggy's Bread - Bronte

Given the sorry state of bakery section in most super-markets, artisan bakeries have been gaining more popularity over the past few years. Not soon enough I'd say. I've had enough of the rectangular blocks of air and sugar that they label 'bread' and charge exorbitant prices for. With prices for supermarket bread around $5 a loaf, it has never made more sense in spending your hard earned cash on a freshly baked loaf that is just a few hours old and not laced with vegetable emulsifiers (481, 471).

The latest in the list of bakeries is Iggy's in Bronte. Not remotely close to the beach, it can be found back up the hill, deep in suburbia at 49 Belgrave St. Operating out of a non-descript shop front, you won't have a problem finding it - just look for the queue of locals. With no 'shop' to step into, this is a working bakery. If you peek inside you will see the bakers dusted with flour and commercial ovens hard at work. On the left of the shop front is a multi level rack stacked with the baked treasures and on the right the counter.

They offer huge rounds of sourdough, baguettes, bagels and specialty breads. The rounds of sourdough can be halved or quartered depending on your appetite. I just wish they had some labels so you could browse without having to point to each item to ask what it is. Having said this, there is a good amount of turnover as bread flies of the rack to be replenished with other varieties.

So what about the bread? My mission was to buy a loaf of their pecan and raisin bread which they only bake on Sundays. I got in the line which stretched for about 5 meters and as I got closer to the front counter, I scanned the rack looking for anything that resembled a fruit loaf. All I could spot was sourdough, bread with grains and bagels. This was looking like a failed attempt in the making. When it was my turn, I asked if they had any raisin and pecan bread and held my breath anticipating disappointment. "6 minutes" the lady said. I would have to wait only 6 minutes! It was almost like they were baking this bread especially for my visit. Then the price came.......... $12.00. Did I mention exorbitant prices before? I know, I know. I'm more than willing to pay good money for the real deal but $12 seemed a bit much, even for specialty bread.

Undeterred, I scrounged up the extra dollars and handed it over. After a short wait, a warm and heavy loaf was handed to me in a brown paper bag. The aromas of the fresh bread, fruit and nuts teased my nostrils as I inspected the deep brown loaf. Raisins studded the exterior with some blackened, frozen in their expanded state from the intense heat.

Racing home, I cut into the crusty exterior to reveal a rich dense loaf packed full of pecans and raisins. OK, now I see where my money has gone. The crust was crunchy to the bite, resisting my teeth and jaw muscles all the way until it yielded to the sweet and moist interior. What a fantastic combination! The sweetness from the raisins, the body and texture from the nuts. All brought together by a elastic, full bodied bread. This was meal in itself. At $12 for a 30cm long loaf, it's not something I'd buy everyday. It's a special occasion bread and one to treat yourself with. For the everyday, I will be back soon to sample their sourdough and bagels.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Luke Nguyen's Caramelised Pork Belly via Grab Your Fork

As soon as I saw Grab Your Fork's post on her Cabramatta food tour with Red Lantern's Luke Nguyen, I knew I had to make the recipe she kindly posted on her blog.

I had the advantage of learning from her experience and got all the ingredients together well in advance and had time to marinate the meat, which was not exactly pork belly as I was trying to cut down the fat but ended up adding something called pork rashers to some lean pork cutlets anyway. The pork rashers had lots of fat and skin and looked to me exactly like sliced pork belly but I have no idea which part of the pig they're from!

Yes, I confess it, I cannot follow a recipe without attempting to fiddle with it or adapt to circumstances, the circumstances being I already had some frozen pork chops in the freezer! So taking Luke/Helen's recipe, I ran it through the pantry database (me) and substituted palm sugar for the plain sugar, plain shallot for the red shallot which I could not find in a local grocery store and added coriander instead of the chili after the dish was finished. I served it with some white sticky rice and steamed Broccolini.

Reader, the meal was a success! Highly recommended that you follow the link and try it for yourself. As for leftovers, I now have a delicious master stock that can be reused, frozen or added to other meals for a tasty lift in flavour. Yummo!
This is the pork marinating, you can see the fat from the pork rashers amidst the diced chops.
The recipe calls for juice (not milk) from a fresh green coconut, I was thrilled to discover that my local Woollies has in stock coconuts just for drinking. The problem is, how do you open it up to obtain the juice as the shell is very hard? As you can see from the images, problem solved!
The secret to the marinade is the Caramel Sauce which is a very dark caramelisation of plain sugar with water, nothing at all like a western caramel sauce which is not as dark and bitter and is flavoured with butter. You can buy it commercially or make your own according to Andrea Nguyen's excellent Viet World Kitchen blog.
I managed to find the Elephant Brand recommened by GYF
Didn't have a claypot so I just stir fried the meat in a normal pot, adding the coconut juice last and boiling down until the sauce was slightly reduced but I recommend not reducing it too much as it is delicious drizzled over the rice.
Dinner is now served! A fantastic recipe, fast and uncomplicated.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Often in our rush to get things done, we forget the simple pleasures in life. Since having kids, I find that I'm seeing more through their eyes which literally forces me to stop and look at the smaller detail. This re-discovered awareness has resulted in me not just focussing on just great meals as a whole, but also the smaller elements that add to my enjoyment of a meal. So, here is my recap of the foodie things I loved in September ....ONE: "Traffic Light Sandwiches" at my lad's 5th birthday party. The theme for the day was car racing, and it was held at the local slot car track, so having sandwiches made with carrot, cucumber and tomato, but simply cut like sets of traffic lights delighted even the adults (and for the record, were scoffed faster than the plates of chocolate crackles). TWO: Giant (not just regular, but GIANT) Parma Violet lollies from my foodie friend Ya Ya. I have been hankering for the long lost taste of violet pastilles since my last travels to Paris (sadly, this was pre-children so many moons ago now). Knowing of my cravings, she wizzed me some Parma violets when she found them in the city. I was tempted not to share them, but was happy to find that only ONE of my children liked them so this meant that there was MORE FOR ME! I'm currently hot on the trail to Melbourne to find my traditional French Violette Pastilles by Abbaye De Flavigny. Tracked down to a store in the Block Arcade, but CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK!! Hopefully they will feature in my "things I loved" in OCTOBER. I'd love to hear of any other stockists if anyone knows any in Australia, no other flavour will do I'm afraid. THREE: big fat, juicy, zingy grapefruit picked from my 91year old neighbour's tree. The lad and I planned to make marmalade, but time got away from us so we just squeezed them for juice. An absolute delight - I'm lucky she is so generous with them, we enjoy them every year. FOUR : Bul-go-gi wrapped in Perilla Leaves. My local Korean grocery store is well stocked with great food and helpful advice. The whole family enjoyed wrapping the meat in the leaves and gobbling them up. With the left over leaves (you can't eat too much of this flavour in one sitting we found), we shredded them and sprinkled it on salad for a peppery taste. There is also Perilla Oil for making salad dressing, but so far I've only enjoyed the leaves. FIVE : Mini Tea cups given to my firstborn as a party favour. Made by the mother of the birthdayboy with tic-toc biscuits, marshmallows, freckles and lifesavers. She swore they were easy to put together, and they were so incredibly cute, I ache to make them. SIX : Dutch Poffertjes at the local fair. Little light puffy dutch pancakes smothered with maple syrup and icing sugar. Perfect to lift the energy levels after a hard day's spring fair action. SEVEN : Brioche and Olive bread, bought from the organic bread stall at the Northolme Grammer schools spring food fair. ALL of the bread was sensational. We enjoyed the brioche with marscapone and honey (my special Lebanese nutty orange blossom one bought in Haberfield), and the olive stick was cut up and served with olive oil and dukkah. Absolutely delicious. EIGHT : Fairy floss on a stick, as big as your head! Not that I'm advocating pure sugar as a healthy treat, but my memories of having this as a kid, watching the maker covered in flossy sugar, trying to catch the threads of cotton on the stick before they blew away, then twisting the stick until the ball stayed relatively stable enough to hand over to this huge-eyed child, quivering in anticipation. My daughter has my same glee when spotting a fairy floss stall at a fair. And, there is no other colour that comes close to PINK, although the lilac and blue do look rather pretty. NINE : now I have been a Maldon Sea Salt girl for a long time. However, when bumming around Claudios Firshmarket I came across Himalayan Natural Pink Salt. I couldn't resist. Its not as flakey as Maldon, so you don't get that satisfying crunch when salting a dish, but the fact that it is not processed, its mined by hand and stone ground from the Himalayan Mountains, and not to mention, a pretty shade of pink, then I was sold. Really, I can't taste the difference, but I enjoy thinking about its origins every time I salt. TEN : Cupcakes from "Cupcakes on Pitt". Now, I know they aren't the best cupcakes in town, coz the competition sure is tough out there, but boy they are cute. Handed around the office, squeals of delight from all adults as we drank in the visual of cutely decorated little treats. Lots of smiles as we enjoyed our afternoon tea that day. So, there you have it. Ten of my favourite little things enjoyed last month. I know its only early, but I'm already up to FIVE for my October likes!!! Make sure you stop and smell the roses every day...enjoy October and happi eating!