Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cook. @ Home - Pear Tarte Tatin

Hands up those who've been watching The Great Australian Bake Off?  I love watching it, especially whilst on Twitter as it's like watching a good show with a whole bunch of witty friends.  The down side of it is that I'm always hungry and hankering for some of the baked goodies that are happening on the screen.  A few weeks back they had an episode on tarts and it reminded me that I'd been meaning to try making a tarte tatin.  I've been thinking about it since I had a slice of Nadine Ingram's awesome pear tart at Flour and Stone when I visited Sydney earlier in the year.  In no way was my tarte tatin as yummy as that, but it was delicious, easy to make and the family gobbled it up in the blink of an eye!

Vanilla Pear Tarte Tatin      adapted from

2-3 ripe William Bartlett Pears 
100g sugar
50g butter
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
one sheet of frozen puff pastry

1) Heat the oven to 200 C (fan force) and cut the pears into slices 
2) Melt the sugar over medium flame in an oven proof pan/skillet until slightly brown/caramelised - don't stir, but instead just agitate the pan as the sugar melts
4) Take the pan off the flame, add the butter and vanilla and stir to melt
5) Arrange the pear in whatever pattern you like on the pan, return to a medium flame for 5 minutes or until the pear is soft (becomes slightly translucent) and remove from heat
5) Cut your rolled out puff pastry with a sharp knife to just fit over the bottom of the pan. Place the pastry over the pear in the pan and tuck the sides in
6) Put the pan in the oven and bake for  20 minutes or until the pastry is slightly brown and puffy
7) Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes, put a large serving plate over the pan and flip, so that the tart sits on the plate pear-side up
8) Spoon over any remaining caramel and serve with a dollop of ice-cream

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Eat. @ Collective Espresso

3 Cookson St, Camberwell 3124 ph (03) 9882 8995

Collective Espresso is one of my new favourite places.  Friends who know I blog (I try to keep the blog a bit of a "secret identity" hehehe) often ask me to recommend them places to go and I've found myself suggesting Collective Espresso on more than one occasion.  This lovely little coffee and brunch spot has been around for a few years and I'm kicking myself for not having tried it out earlier!

On the first visit I went with Bubs and we perched on high stools at the large communal table inside.  It's cosy and fun and we shared the Miso cured Salmon, with potato rosti, kim chi and sesame fried eggs. ($18)   To be honest this has been my favourite breakfast/brunch dish so far this year!  The salmon was tasty, the rosti was beatifully crispy, and those eggs were to die for.  The were not what I expected fried eggs to be, but turns out they are poached eggs which are then quickly fried to give a slightly crispy bite before you get into the runny but oh-so-slightly thickened yolk.  Genius!

The mocha ($4) was excellent and much enjoyed with a copy of Epicure (love Tuesdays!)

Of course I had to bring Hubby back and this time we had to come on the weekend which means super busy crowds.  Luckily we were quickly seated,  but decided to move to one of the outside tables as we were a bit worried that Bubs was getting a bit keen climbing up and down on the stools and disturbing all the other cool young diners at the communal table.   Again I ordered the same dish but this time it came with miso cured kingfish.  I preferred the salmon but the kingfish was quite delicious too.

Hubby ordered the "Collective Sigh of Relief", oh how I love dishes with quirky clever funny names! The dish is made up of scrambled or poached eggs, native spinach, 3 types of mushrooms (we could only find 2 but not too fussed), baked beans and kaiser bacon ($22)  The big breakfast did not disappoint, the thick cut bacon was flavoursome and the beans were perfect for a chilly but sunny saturday morning. 

As you can tell I love this place!  The staff are young and super busy with customers but were still very friendly and helpful with our requests.  The chef took time to answer my questions about the eggs.  The downside is that limited seating means that on the weekend it can get very busy and there's no room for prams or highchairs.  Nonetheless I've always enjoyed our visits and I look forward to enjoying future visits with the kids seated outside as the weather warms up!

Collective Espresso on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eat. @ Hammer and Tong

412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 3065 ph (03) 9041 6033 (enter from Westgarth St)

Hammer and Tong joins the vibrant cafe scene in Fitzroy as an all day eatery.  I've heard that it gets crazy busy on the weekends, so Bubs and I popped in for a mid week brunch a few weeks back to try and avoid the crowds!

Starting off with an excellent mocha ($3.9) that helped ease the tension of morning traffic on Alexandra parade.  

Bubs and I shared a Spiced Corn Fritters, with avocado, sour cream, chili jam, tomato and poached egg ($17).  Bubs is crazy for eggs at the moment so we added an extra poached egg for $3.5.  I don't usually like big round fritters (yes I prefer them flat like a pancake!) but these tasted awesome with the spices, super good looking on the outside and lovely and 'corny' on the inside (like a good man? Boom boom!)  The flavours were amazing and I especially liked the dehydrated corn scattered on the leaves for the extra texture they add to the dish.

The atmosphere is relaxed and the tables are spaced wide enough for pram parking.  The wait staff are cool but more importantly attentive and helpful with my requests, and also quite friendly to Bubs.  I've heard that their soft shell crab sliders are out of this world so we will definitely be back for another visit.

Hammer and Tong on Urbanspoon