The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge

The Bank is located inside a heritage building on the popular Sydney Road, Brunswick.

Even though I had looked at the website, The Bank was nothing like I imagined it would be. Walking into the restaurant was like walking into a music academy. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the different instruments, the open stage and the music school (a small room nestled within the restaurant). Only after all this, would you notice that this place is also a café and restaurant.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

A chat with Sebastian Riggio (owner, chef, musician and much more….) gave us a deeper insight into why music was such an integral part of The Bank.

Sebastian not only has a passion for music but also for discovering new talent; train and set them up for the world stage. One of his protégé is Eva Kourtes (best female guitarist, 2014), guitarist, pianist, musician, songwriter and composer who will soon be going on a world tour with the music legend, Carlos Santana.

And when Eva is not teaching at the music school or performing with her band, Evaluation, at The Bank, she also dons the cap of the unassuming waitress who might be serving you while you are dining there. Much to learn and get inspired by from this 20 year old!

Coming to food, The Bank is all about fresh, wholesome and hearty Sicilian cuisine.

While I have eaten at plenty of Italian restaurants, there were a few dishes on the menu that were so classic Sicilian, not common in many other places.

The bar menu is basic; a few choices ticking of all categories like wines, spirits, cold drinks, hot beverages etc….

For drinks, we got a glass of house red, a sparkling and lemon lime bitters.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

We started the meal with Arrancini – deep fried rice balls, topped with fresh bolognese and parmesan. A classic Italian dish, but you will soon realize how the flavours are different depending on the region of Italy. I loved the fact that it was topped with bolognese; added so much flavour to the whole dish.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The second starter we tried was the Polpetti – homemade meatballs in a Napolitana sauce. I love Italian style meatballs and this is one dish that I always order. But I was surprised that the Polpetti was quite different to what I have eaten at other places. The texture was slightly dry and the meatball had a crusty exterior. It was served as one large meatball with the Napolitana sauce. I was told that this was the Sicilian style where instead of mince, it’s the sausage stuffing that’s used to make Polpetti. While the dish tasted good, I think I prefer the other style of meatballs compared to this one.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

We also ordered the Orange & Fennel Salad – served with extra virgin olive oil, spring onions, chilli flakes. A light and really refreshing salad, this was a good accompaniment with the Polpetti.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we got Homemade Salsici – spicy sausages served with a garlic & onion tapenade. I cannot stop raving about this dish. I have never had sausages made like this before. Fresh homemade pork sausages in the most deliciously spicy garlic, pepper and onion tapenade. Absolutely blown away by the flavours and the dish of the day. Highly recommended!

When I asked more about this dish, Sebastian said that the secret lies in the sausages that are made in house. He was kind enough to even show me some. One of those dishes where you truly appreciate the magic that quality ingredients can bring to a dish.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

And of course we had to try out the artisan pizza range. While The Bank does regular style pizza dough,  it’s recommended to try out the artisan style pizzas that are native to Sicily. We chose the Caltagirone, a very traditional one topped with prosciutto, tomatoes, spinach and onions. It was clear why the artisan style dough stands out; the thin crusty base with a really good balance of toppings was perfectly delicious. Subtle yet so full of flavour.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

The Lasagna Siciliana – ham, cheese, peas topped with napolitana or bolognese sauce is another signature dish at The Bank. Though I didn’t try it out, I was kindly allowed into the kitchen to watch the making process. And I am sure I will be ordering it the next time I visit The Bank.

The Bank, Brunswick (Melbourne) – Restaurant, Café and Music Lounge - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, The Bank is a place where home style Sicilian cooking meets great music. Drop in for a bite or catch up with friends for a coffee in the lounge. But stay back for the music!

The Bank

840 Sydney Road
Brunswick
Victoria

Phone no: (03) 9383 1963 / 0418 996 321

http://www.thebankbrunswick.com/

Timings:

Thursday : 5:30 – 10:30pm
Friday – Sunday : 12:30 – 10:30pm

Disclaimer – I visited The Bank as a guest of AGFG, but the opinions are entirely mine.

The BANK brunswick Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively

2018 has been such an exciting year for me on the work front. So many interesting opportunities and collaborations have come my way this year, most of which has pushed me clearly beyond my comfort zone but enabled me to take my food dreams one step further.

And one such exciting opportunity has been this collaboration with Feastively.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

Feastively specializes in fresh meal boxes that are designed to help you cook a delicious dinner in three easy steps and just 15 minutes. Based on the meal plan and dishes that you choose on a weekly basis, all the prep work is done, packaged and delivered to your home.

Earlier this year, the company got in touch with me to find out if I would be interested in transforming some of my signature recipes from the blog into a fresh meal box format. I was surprised but couldn’t be more excited. This was almost like cooking personally for all of you (nothing could give me greater joy)!

Since I had tried out Feastively meal boxes last year, I was already aware of the quality of their meals. And I was quite impressed with the taste of many of their dishes. But making the decision was still hard because I wanted to be sure that my recipes delivered the same flavour as how I would cook at home, when it gets transformed into a fresh meal box.

But Feastively provided me with the kind of support to enable this and make the project a reality. A lot of testing and tweaking has taken place behind the scenes on their end as well as mine to ensure that each signature dish that is showcased has my stamp of approval and will deliver in terms of freshness, quality and flavour.

And finally the day has arrived; Indian Kheema Masala (Beef Mince with Potatoes, Peas and Rice) is now available through Feastively.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

One of the most popular recipes on my blog, I am so glad this was the first dish that made it to the meal box. If you were to make this dish from scratch, it will easily take 45 minutes to an hour. But now with the Feastively fresh meal box, all that you need to do is three easy steps and dinner ready in 15 minutes.

The whole spice infused caramelized onion and aromatic base is what takes the longest to cook in an Indian dish like this which has already been prepared for you. All that you need to do is cook the potatoes, peas and beef mince, add it to the mildly spiced sauce followed by yoghurt to get a delicious beef mince masala in no time at all. Serve it with a side of steamed rice for a hearty, flavoursome dinner. A glass of red would just make it perfect.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

It’s pretty simple to use Feastively. First, you opt for a meal plan based on the size of your family. And then add the recipes from the week’s list to your plan. The recipes are changed on a weekly basis so that there is something new to try and boredom doesn’t kick in from eating the same dishes. The dishes are also spread out across several different cuisines, all of which are Aussie family favourites.

The biggest advantage of using a fresh meal box service like Feastively is not just the amount of time you save but also the fact that it is way healthier than your local fast food or takeaway. There are no preservatives or additives, just fresh and seasonal ingredients prepped and put together for you to reduce cooking time.

While the Indian Kheema Masala is the first one to be launched, there are others being tested which will soon be introduced into the weekly menu. And if you have any dishes or recipes from the blog that you would like to see on Feastively, please do comment below and we will try our best to incorporate it.

So please do try it out and let me know your feedback; it would mean a lot to know what you think about the dish.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

 

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake

The almost ‘one tray’ bakes and roasts are fast becoming a favourite in our home.

While it’s warm, hearty and comforting during winter, it’s also very easy to put together. That’s why I have been trying a lot of these nowadays. Today’s dish is a sausage and potato bake but with Spanish flavours to add that extra oomph of flavour.

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a very simple dish but a really flavourful one. So it’s important to get sausages that are of top notch quality. Don’t go for the generic supermarket ones, the kind you tend to buy for backyard barbecues. Instead go for the gourmet ones that are prepared from top quality mince and also seasoned well.

For this dish, I chose chorizo since it’s the best for a Spanish style bake.

Instead of a sauce, I went with a sautéed onion bell pepper mixture that was flavoured with paprika, garlic and turmeric as the accompaniment to the sausages and potatoes. Baking it all together in a pan not only makes it easy but increases the overall flavour of the dish.

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

This Spanish style sausage and potato bake can be had as a meal on its own but I added a side of saffron rice and paired it with a nice Tempranillo. Looks fancy but actually a really simple dish.

Ingredients:

  1. 6 chorizos
  2. 4-5 Kipfler potatoes; cut into wedges
  3. 2 red onion; finely sliced
  4. 2 red bell pepper; pith removed and finely sliced
  5. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  6. 2 garlic cloves; finely sliced
  7. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  8. 2 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  9. 1 can diced tomatoes
  10. ½ cup kalamata olives
  11. Salt, to season
  12. 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley; finely chopped

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Heat olive in a pan and add the onions. Sauté on high heat for 2 minutes and then add the garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes or till the onions and peppers are softened.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and smoked paprika; mix well to combine.
  4. Then add the diced tomatoes and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and add the potatoes and sausages to the pan. Mix well to combine so that the sausages and potatoes are coated well with the onion pepper mixture.
  5. Transfer to a baking tray and arrange in such a way that the sausages and potatoes are on top for even cooking.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove to turn the sausages and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes till the potatoes are roasted well.
  7. Remove and add the olives and parsley.
  8. Serve warm with saffron rice

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes)

Banana bread is one of the most forgiving recipes that I know, especially since I am a novice in the baking department.

It does not require the exacting measurements or baking knowledge that is required to bake most other desserts, cakes etc…. But having said that, there are good and bad banana breads.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you do not like banana bread, then chances are you have had the not so desirable ones that are sold at most generic cafes. It was the same for all the three of us which put me off baking it for a very long time. But as I started seeing a lot of my friends and favourite bloggers sharing so many different styles of banana bread, I realised that there is more to this recipe.

So began the experiments trying out various recipes to get one that we enjoyed best. There was no dearth of over ripe bananas in the house. By weekend, there are always a couple that has begun to look way too brownish for my son to eat and the only way I used to finish it off was in smoothies and milkshakes.

And overripe bananas are exactly what you need for this bread.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Though named so, banana bread is a cross between bread and cake drawing inspiration from both baking techniques.

The decision to add vegemite was almost last minute. We are not big fans of vegemite but there is a small bottle in my pantry that I use occasionally to experiment and create recipes that incorporates the flavour and nutritional components of vegemite without being too obvious in the smell department. Just can’t stand that!

One good example of this would be the Vegemite roast chicken that’s quite popular in our home.

As I tasted the banana bread batter, I thought it could do with another ingredient to sort of intensify the flavours and suddenly vegemite came to mind. Added a little bit to the batter and I really liked the richer, almost caramel kind of flavour that I decided to go ahead with it. And boy, it did turn out delicious.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you have vegemite at home, then by all means use it; I promise you won’t be disappointed. But if you don’t, then omit it and go ahead with the batter as such or you incorporate other flavours like chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, peanut butter etc….

Ingredients:

  1. 3 medium sized ripe bananas
  2. 2 tbsp whole milk
  3. 3 eggs (room temperature)
  4. 80 gms unsalted butter (melted)
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. 1 cup raw sugar
  7. 1 tbsp vegemite
  8. 2 cups plain flour
  9. 2 tsp baking powder
  10. Almond flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced).
  2. Grease a loaf pan with butter or oil spray and then line with baking paper.
  3. In a large glass bowl, add the bananas and mash well with a fork. Then add the melted butter, sugar, milk, vegemite and eggs. Use a whisk or hand held beater to mix all the ingredients.
  4. In another bowl, sift the flour along with baking powder. Add a pinch of salt to this and mix.
  5. Add the flour to the banana mixture and fold in gently till all the whole batter gets combined well.
  6. Pour into the loaf pan and line the top with almond flakes.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or till done (insert a skewer through the centre of the loaf; the skewer will come out clean if done).
  8. Cool before removing from the loaf pan.
  9. Slice and serve with butter.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

June Favourites

School holidays are here, and it’s such a relief from the monotony of a routine.

We totally enjoy the school holiday period, especially because it means no need to wake up to the alarm clock. It’s such a relief folks because I love to sleep.

And I enjoy having Adi’s company too. He is quite happy to do his own things and do not disturb me unnecessarily which means I can still manage to get in a bit of my work done. I try not to take up too much work anyway so that I can spend time with him, take him to activities etc….

We are so looking forward to the Disney on Ice, 100 Years of Magic performance this week. It’s our first time and quite excited for it. Then there are a couple of playdates planned and a few other activities which should keep him engaged during the holiday period.

What’s your plan for the holidays? Any special activities planned?

Getting to food, it’s been a really interesting month. Tried out so many different recipes both for the blog and for clients, and it’s been a really amazing experience. There’s also a project that I have been working on for a while now and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But a few more days before the big reveal. So excited!

Plus, I am taking part in the NEFF Kitchen 50 Best Home Cooks contest. If you live in Australia, I would be deeply grateful if you could take a minute and vote for me. Thanks so much folks…

The voting link can be found here.

And the dish that I have entered for the competition is the slow cooked Lamb Shanks with Srilankan curry powder.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my favourite recipes that I developed for a client this month was the Pan grilled Fish Skewers with Sambar Powder.

My love for sambar powder is common knowledge, especially among my blog readers. But for those who are new here, sambar powder is a spice blend that is predominantly used to make sambar, a lentil stew with vegetables that is a traditional South Indian dish, but now a highly popular dish worldwide. But apart from making sambar, I love using the spice blend to season many other dishes and these fish skewers are the latest.

A highly aromatic blend, the sambar powder works as a brilliant rub for grilling fish, meat or vegetables. It can be used to season curries or stews too, adding a nice depth of flavour. In this dish, I have used it along with yoghurt to make a marinade. The fish and veggies were added to this and coated well; finally the skewers were pan grilled to perfection. An excellent starter to any meal.

Pan grilled Fish Skewers with Sambar Powder - thespiceadventuress.com

Now getting to other recipes and tidbits that became part of my June favourites…

A cocktail for the Campari lovers.

A delicious way to have broccoli. Yum!

This wedge salad is drop dead gorgeous.

Can’t wait to try out this linguine recipe.

Totally love mussels and this one is lipsmacking delicious.

Okra, my absolute favourite vegetable and a delicious recipe that I am going to make next week.

I have already started searching for burger recipes for Father’s Day. This one and this one are close competitors.

Have you seen the new Salt n’ Pepper Vegemite range?

This feather tray would sit beautifully on my coffee table.

My favourite winter aroma.

 

Mexican Hot Pot

It’s been one of those crazy weeks where nothing goes to plan. There’s no particular rhyme or reason but I couldn’t stick to a routine most of the days which makes me feel overwhelmed and uninspired. And its work that often gets affected and when I mean work, it’s often food, cooking and the associated bits and bobs.

I am not one of those people who say, ‘the kitchen is my happy place; when I am upset or stressed I go into my kitchen and cook to make me feel good again.’ Nope, that’s not me at all. I simply can’t cook or to be honest, detest getting into the kitchen when I am down. When I am feeling low, I can mess up even the most basic of dishes. Most people don’t believe me when I say it but that’s the real honest truth. I can burn water if I am not in the right frame of mind.

Today’s recipe was actually prepared last week. It was developed for a client but all of us loved it so much that I decided to post it here too. Especially since it fits the bill as a winter warmer dish.

The Mexican hot pot is one of those dishes that require a bit of prep but then the whole dish comes together in no time at all. It’s warm, comforting, hearty, delicious and perfect for sharing. And it makes the perfect weeknight meal or weekend indulgence.

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

This hot pot is all about the broth that has been infused with Mexican flavours. I used chicken as the protein, but it can easily be substituted with any other meat, fish or even vegetables of your choice. To maximize the flavour of the broth, the onions, tomatoes and bell peppers were roasted and then blitzed. Roasting helps to intensify and draw out flavours, a step that’s totally worth it.

Rice is optional, but I wanted this Mexican hot pot to be a complete meal so rice was part of the bowl. A totally customizable dish, it is best served as different components like the broth with chicken, rice, coriander, lime, avocado crema, tortilla strips, pickled onions, jalapenos etc…. Allow everyone to assemble their own bowls, building up the flavours to their preference.

And before we get onto the recipe, here are some of our all time Mexican favourites;

  1. Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa
  2. Chicken Tinga Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa
  3. Byron Bay Guacamole
  4. Fish Tacos with Pickled Slaw

Ingredients:

For the hot pot:

  1. 1 large Spanish onion; diced
  2. 1 large red tomato; diced
  3. 2 fresh jalapeno; sliced
  4. 1 large red bell pepper; diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves; peel on
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 400 ml crushed tomatoes
  8. 2 litre chicken stock
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  11. ½ tsp cumin powder
  12. 1 tsp dried oregano
  13. 4 chicken thighs (boneless); finely sliced

Avocado Crema:

  1. 1 ripe avocado
  2. ½ cup plain yoghurt
  3. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  4. Juice of ½ lemon
  5. Salt, to season

Toppings: (adapt to individual preferences)

  1. Steamed white rice
  2. Pickled red onions
  3. Fresh jalapenos; finely sliced
  4. Fresh coriander leaves
  5. Lime wedges
  6. Lebanese cucumber; cut into long strips
  7. Fried tortilla strips (cut 1-2 tortillas lengthwise using a scissors and fry in oil till crisp)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a roasting/baking tray, add the diced onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapeno and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and mix well to coat. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes till the veggies are lightly roasted and soft. Remove and cool lightly.
  3. Remove the peel of the garlic and add all the roasted veggies to a blender. Add the crushed tomatoes and blend well.
  4. In a large stock, add the blended mixture along with chicken stock. Then add the paprika, cumin and oregano. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Bring to boil and then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and cook on high heat till the chicken is tender and cooked through. This should take only about 5 minutes as the chicken pieces are finely sliced.
  6. Meanwhile prepare all the toppings.
  7. To make the avocado crema, blend the avocado, yoghurt, garlic, salt and lemon juice till you get a smooth consistency. (Makes an excellent dip with nachos or any other crisps).
  8. To serve, lay out the chicken broth, toppings and avocado cream. Let each person assemble their bowl based on preferences.

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Chicken Meatball Salad

Do you cook with your children?

Not the once in a while ‘school holiday’ cooking but do you involve your kids in your everyday cooking and food related activities?

From a very early age, I made sure that I got Adi interested in food and cooking. Initially it began with taking him to the market where I taught him to identify the different fruits and vegetables. I would encourage him to touch and feel the produce or ask him to pick out some for our shopping basket. In fact, Adi learnt the different colours and his initial 1, 2,3s…. at our local vegetable shop.

As he grew older and learnt to read and write, I made sure he was with me for most of our weekly grocery shopping trips. He learnt more about the different fruits and vegetables, also learning how to pick out fresh produce but at the same time, I encouraged him to pick out wobbly and misshapen ones that are still fresh indirectly teaching him about food wastage.

And now he is my favourite shopping partner. Not just with the veggies but he is also quite well versed at picking out most ingredients at the supermarket, choosing the deli meat every week for his lunch box etc…

I have also consciously involved Adi in household chores from cleaning, arranging his room and toys, helping me out in the kitchen etc… Initially he wouldn’t be interested but now he sees it as a responsibility and he understands that he needs to do his share too.

Now there are so many advantages to this but above all, I wanted him to develop two important life skills – learning to cook so that he is not dependent on anyone for his needs and also helping him understand that the kitchen, cooking, cleaning etc… is not just a woman’s job.

I wouldn’t claim to be a perfect mom (that phrase doesn’t exist!), but consciously incorporating certain rules or principles has made him a largely responsible and flexible child. It has been hard and there were plenty of times when I lost patience especially because I started very early on, when he was about 2 years of age. But I had the belief that it was the right path which will show results after a few years. And it did…

Adi is 9 years old now, a happy boy who enjoys food and not a fussy eater at all. He enjoys doing his chores, has a flexible disposition, responsible and accountable; all those years of gently steering him from behind seems to have had a positive effect so far.

I am not writing this to brag; every child is unique and has both strengths and weaknesses. Adi has his share too. But I write this for the many young parents who struggle either due to lack of knowledge or think that they have time to rectify certain things when the child is older. And food always seems to be an issue, especially getting the child to make healthy food choices as he grows up.

You have to start really young with children that it almost becomes a way of life for them because it’s so hard to change ways later. And we most definitely can’t raise our kids like our parents did because the needs of this generation are way different. Agree there are some traditional values that remain same but largely our lifestyles have changed which means our parenting must too.

Today, we are making one of Adi’s favourite salads – a Chicken Meatball Salad.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, it’s easy to get him to eat veggies and salads are a regular feature at our dinner table. But once in a while, we make this chicken meatball salad which doubles up as his school snack the next day.

Whenever we make this salad, Adi’s job is to help me roll out the meatballs and also preparing the dressing (he loves the shake shake part) and finally tossing it all up.

The meatballs are simple and are great as a snack. So I always double up the quantities and freeze some to have as an after school snack later in the week. And with meatballs, you can do so much….add it to pastas, a curry base or sandwiches.

The salad is a beautiful medley of our favourite veggies and herbs. Use what’s in your refrigerator or the combinations that your children like to eat.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  1. 500gms chicken mince
  2. 1 slice white bread (soaked in ¼ cup milk)
  3. 2 sprigs rosemary
  4. 1 tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  5. 1 tsp sweet paprika
  6. 1 tsp lemon zest
  7. Salt, to season
  8. Black pepper, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for shallow frying the meatballs

For the salad:

  1. Salad greens
  2. ½ punnet cherry tomatoes; halved
  3. 1 Lebanese cucumber; diced
  4. 1 yellow bell pepper; diced
  5. A handful of olives
  6. 3 bread slices; to make croutons
  7. 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil; for dressing
  8. Regular olive oil; for shallow frying the meatballs
  9. Lemon juice
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and tear into smaller pieces.
  2. Add this to a large bowl along with the chicken mince, rosemary, parsley, paprika, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and shape the mixture into even sized meatballs. Keep aside and allow to rest while you assemble the ingredients for the salad.
  3. In a large salad bowl, assemble the salad leaves and veggies.
  4. To prepare the dressing, add the olive oil to a small jar with a tight lid. Add the juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt. Shake vigorously to get an emulsion; taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large pan and shallow fry the meatballs in batches.
  6. Add the meatballs to the salad; pour the dressing and toss together to combine.
  7. Serve immediately.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Chicken Wonton Soup

Anthony Bourdain is no more.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think that this is the way I would pay tribute to him on my blog. I have always wanted to write about Bourdain, his books, travels, shows and the stories of food cultures that he bought into our lives. But somehow I never put those thoughts to paper and now this….

It’s been an incredibly hard one to digest.

I have never been so profoundly distressed about someone’s death, especially someone who has not been a part of my personal or real life. He was not family or a friend, just a celebrity I watched on TV, so I couldn’t even fathom why I experienced that numbing ache, that overwhelming sense of sadness that sits heavy in my chest everytime I think of it.

But the truth is that he was one of those rare souls who had touched my life (and I realise so many others too) at a much deeper level.

Yes, Bourdain was all about the food, travel and culture. At least that’s how I identified with his books and shows initially. All the more, because I have always been an advocate for food…without borders, a belief or philosophy on which my blog has been founded too.

But as I got to read and watch him more, I realised that I connect with him so deeply because of our inherent restless, angry souls. His journey has been so different to mine yet somewhere I felt a sense of ‘this guy gets what I feel’ most of the time.

A restlessness to explore the world through food…..he did it through his travels; I do it through this blog. And sometimes that passion can be a burden too, because you are often misunderstood. I remember reading somewhere that most of his friends couldn’t get his relentless need to talk about food and cultures which made conversations difficult at times. And that’s a feeling I totally relate to; people around who simply can’t get my passion or think I am not doing anything worthwhile with my life.

There’s been much discussion about mental health, depression etc…. in the online world after his death but I am not going to talk about it. Not because I don’t think it’s important; because today I want to remember him again only for his love for travel and respect for food and cultures.

And I know these few lines can never completely convey the respect I have for Bourdain’s work….

Let’s get back to today’s recipe.

Dumplings, dimsims, wontons…we are just crazy about these at home. Steamed, pan fried, deep fried, we love it in all forms. But one of my personal favourites especially during winter is the wonton soup.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

I order it a lot while eating out at Asian restaurants but this time, I wanted to make it at home. I am not a pro when it comes to shaping wontons so I just followed this video which was really informative.

Not a complicated recipe at all but a tad bit time consuming making the wontons. But it was totally worth it as I made enough to freeze for another comforting weeknight dinner.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

The broth is light and simple but really flavourful and the only way to get that is to use a really good quality stock, store bought or homemade. I added the long red chillies (less heat), plenty of garlic and ginger along with soy and sesame oil to get a well balanced and moreish broth. I could just drink this broth all day long…..

This chicken wonton soup is like a hug in a bowl. It only takes minutes to prepare the broth and the wontons are boiled in the broth itself. I also added some bok choy at the end to finish off. You can add mushrooms, radish or any vegetables/greens of your choice. I wanted it to be all about the wontons, hence kept it simple.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Fix Feast Flair

Ingredients:

For the wontons:

(Makes 50 wontons; makes extra which is suitable for freezing)

  1. 50 Wonton wrappers
  2. 500 gms chicken mince
  3. 2 spring onions (only bulb); finely chopped
  4. 2 large garlic cloves; grated
  5. 1 ½ tbsp hoisin sauce
  6. ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  7. 1 tbsp sriracha
  8. ½ tsp black pepper powder
  9. Salt, to season

For the broth:

  1. 1 litre chicken stock
  2. 1 large red chilli (less heat variety)
  3. 5 -6 ginger slices
  4. 2 garlic cloves; finely sliced
  5. 2 tbsp soy sauce
  6. ½ tsp sesame oil
  7. ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
  8. 1 bunch bok choy (ends trimmed and leaves separated)

Method:

To make the wontons:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the chicken mince, onions, garlic, hoisin, oyster, sriracha, pepper and salt. Mix well to combine and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  2. For making the wontons, check out this video. I made the tortellini shaped ones since it was the easiest and most preferred one for me. To create this, place about 1 ½ tsp chicken mixture in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Wet the tip of your finger in a small bowl of water and run along the edges of one half of the wrapper. Fold the wet edges over to the dry edges to get a triangle shape and press to seal. Next tuck in the two edges towards each other to get the tortellini shape.
  3. Prepare all the wontons and keep stored in an airtight container. The wontons can dry out fast so place in the container as you make each one.
  4. To make the soup broth, add the stock to a large pan. Next add the chillies, sliced ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Bring to boil and add the required number of wontons. Cook for 4 minutes; then add the bok choy and cook for one more minute.
  5. Serve immediately.

Note – The broth is best made fresh, but if you intend to store it, then remove the ginger slices before doing so or it could turn slightly bitter on sitting.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I have always been a huge fan of soups and it’s made round the year in my home. But during winter, the frequency increases manifold. After all, what can be more comforting than a steaming hot bowl of soup on cold, wintry nights!

While I make a lot of soups at home, many of the recipes do not make it to the blog. But with increasing requests from readers, especially during this season, I have decided to update the blog with more recipes, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Starting with this delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup….

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Carrot is a much loved vegetable in our home. It’s one I can get Sam to eat without any fuss and as for Adi, he behaves like Bugs Bunny around it. Even though I have made carrot soup plenty of times, I have never tried the Moroccan style before. But the memory of having it at one of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants has always stayed in my mind. The spices used to flavour the soup make it a standout and really intensifies the sweetness of the carrots.

Then I came upon a carrot soup recipe by Rebecca Katz, which calls for saffron as a special ingredient. Now that was interesting and I really wanted to give it a try to experience what saffron adds in terms of flavour to a soup like this.

And it turned out beautiful. A tiny pinch of saffron is enough for a dish like this or it will overpower the flavours completely and totally ruin it. But in the right amount, it works magic along with the other spices to make this the best carrot soup ever.

Kept the garnish simple and traditional, with sourdough croutons, coriander leaves and a pinch of paprika.

And before we get on to the recipe, here are five of my all time favourite soups….

Potato and Parsnip Soup

Beer and Cheddar Soup

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup with Brown Mushrooms

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg carrot; cut into chunks
  2. 1 onion; diced
  3. 1 celery stick; diced
  4. 3 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp ground cumin
  6. ½ tsp ground coriander
  7. 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  8. 1 dried bay leaf
  9. Salt, to season
  10. A pinch of saffron (soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk)
  11. 1 litre vegetable stock
  12. 1 tsp lemon zest + lemon juice

To garnish:

  1. Sourdough croutons
  2. Sweet paprika
  3. Coriander leaves

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat oil and add the onions, celery and carrots. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes with regular stirring.
  2. Then add the bay leaf, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli flakes, saffron with milk and vegetable stock. Season with salt and mix well to combine.
  3. Bring to boil and then simmer gently till the carrots are completely cooked (takes about 20-25 minutes).
  4. Cool slightly and add the lemon zest. Blend into a soup like consistency using a stick blender. If using a mixer, blend in batches.
  5. Return to heat and add half of the lemon juice. Taste and add more if necessary. Also add water to get the desired consistency if the soup feels too thick.
  6. Serve warm garnished with croutons, fresh coriander leaves and a pinch of sweet paprika.

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne)

Supernormal requires no introduction to the food lovers of Melbourne.

Showcasing a modern Asian (heavily leaning towards Japanese) menu, Supernormal has become an iconic Melbourne institution situated on Flinders Lane where many of the best dining spots of the city can be found.

I was catching up with girlfriends for lunch (a great place for that), and we were eagerly looking forward to some great food and drinks.

The space inside is expansive; plenty of seating options yet not with an overcrowded feel though the restaurant is packed at most given times. The kitchen bar is the main focal point where the chefs seamlessly go about their tasks without being loud and obtrusive. There is also plenty of seating along the bar if that’s what you fancy. But we were there for a sit down, slow lunch and the staff was so kind to give us a table with a window view, for an almost secluded feeling.

Supernormal has a small but really good drinks menu, especially when it comes to cocktails. The Asian inspiration can be found here too and we ended up tasting 4 different cocktails.

Umeshu Spritz (Choya classic umeshu, lemon, Prosecco) – light and refreshing, this one has citrusy flavours and really clean on the palate, especially for those who prefer light cocktails or if you plan to have more than a drink.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Blossom Riddle (Don Julio tequila, cassis, pineapple, lime) – this drink is slightly stronger, one for the tequila lovers. But extremely balanced out with the tangy sweetness from the lime and pineapple.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

Tiger Uppercut (Ketel One vodka, ginger, almond, bitters) – a great vodka cocktail I have tasted in a long time. The ginger adds a touch of freshness making it extremely easy and balanced on the palate.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Shaddocks Path (Johnnie Walker Black whisky, grapefruit, lemon) – another stronger one, this celebrated the whisky in a really good way. I was apprehensive about the combination of grapefruit and whisky but again, the balance is key and it was a great drink that paired really well with the lamb.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu at Supernormal is designed to be shared among a few people. So the idea is to order 1-2 dishes from each course and share. The staff are super friendly so don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or even to explain the dishes to you.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We started with Kimchi (cabbage, daikon and cucumber) from the Snacks section. A classic that has such a fine balance of sweet, sour and spicy…perfect to open up your taste buds for what’s to follow.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the raw bar, we got a few Sydney rock oysters; this one needs no explanation – a generous squeeze of lemon and straight into your mouth!

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I had heard much about the New England lobster rolls at Supernormal, that’s what we tried next from the Dumpling and Bao section of the menu. And I can easily say that it’s the best lobster roll I have so far had. I would highly recommend it.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we tasted was the Smoked Mussels, Potato & Salted Duck Egg from the Plates and Vegetables section. I was slightly apprehensive about this one as I really couldn’t fathom the flavours and what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised, the smokiness from the mussels paired beautifully with the potatoes and the crunch from the iceberg lettuce was a great textural point.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Meat and Fish, we chose the Slow Cooked Xinjiang Lamb served with sesame seed flatbread and a side of Sautéed Greens with fried garlic and chilli. That lamb was just heavenly; tender and juicy with a spicy gravy perfect to go with the flatbread. Again a dish that I would highly recommend.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

For dessert, we wanted something light so opted for the Kakigori – Japanese shaved ice, toffee apple and hibiscus. It was an interesting dessert especially the flavour combination. I liked it because it was refreshing, light and not too sweet.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, the dining experience at Supernormal was amazing. Great food, ambience and service; it’s a definite must visit in Melbourne.

Supernormal

180 Flinders Lane
Melbourne Vic 3000

Phone no: 03 9650 8688
info@supernormal.net.au

Timings:

Sunday to Thursday: 11am – 11pm
Friday And Saturday: 11am – midnight

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me and my girl gang.

Supernormal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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