Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunny morning and Wrong Art

Art for art's sake, with no purpose, for any purpose perverts art. But art achieves a purpose which is not its own.
 - Benjamin Constant

It's a beautiful and sunny day today outside. It has been a lovely morning, I've managed to respond to a couple of friends' email, while my daughter was having a sleep. It does not happen often. Mostly my mornings are very busy, but today kids are being great, they are playing by themselves for a change, together, running through the house, having fun.
And I've got two minutes to get back to my blog.

Photo taken from musicfeeds.com.au website

Couple of days ago I saw an interesting program on TV about an alternative Art project exhibition, it took place in Melbourne, and it was called "Wrongtown".
The exhibition itself was set in a suburban house. A group of talented artist took on a job of renovating the place, remodeling it into an object of art, rather than a normal place for happy household living.
It was a pure work of art and imagination! For example, the kitchen was transformed into a giant drain hole, with garden dirt all over it. The other example - bedroom with the cupboards filled with dripping like blood jam, chests of draws stuffed with pop corn and other sweet and sticky substances from the kitchen's pantry.
It looked quite impressing!
Every room of the house was filled with unexpected surprises.

Talented people can create art out of nowhere and bring it to now and here :)
Hopefully one day this exhibition will take place in Brisbane. Would love to go there and experience madness of the Wrong Town.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lamb kofta kebabs with pistachios and spicy salad

We had this meal tonight for dinner.
Another amazing recipe from my favourite Jamie Oliver book!
I got pretty much the exact recipe here. However, when I was making it, I've done a couple of changes, I used Vietnamese mint instead of usual mint (because that's what I've got in my garden at the moment) and I cooked my kebabs in the oven instead of a grill, it turned out very nice any way. Vietnamese mint has got a very strong flavour, so I would not put as much of it in the salad, however it does add an extra taste to the meal, so thumbs up for the Vietnamese mint from me!

500g lamb mince
2 heaped tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 level tablespoon ground chilli
1 level tablespoon ground cumin
4 level tablespoons sumac, if you can find any, use finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good handful of shelled pistachio nuts
A few handfuls of mixed salad leaves, such as romaine or cos, endive and rocket, washed, spun dry and shredded
A small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
1 lemon
A bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
Extra virgin olive oil
4 large flatbreads or tortilla wraps
4 heaped tablespoons natural yoghurt

Combine lamb mince with most of the thyme, chilli, cumin and sumac (reserving a little of each for sprinkling over later), a little salt and pepper and all the pistachios.
Divide the meat into four equal pieces and get yourself four skewers. With damp hands, push and shape the meat around and along each skewer. Press little indents in the meat with your fingers as you go – this will give it a better texture when cooked.
In one bowl, mix the salad leaves and mint. In another, combine the sliced onion with a good pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (the acidity will take the edge off and lightly pickle the raw onion). Scrunch this all together with your hands, then mix in the parsley leaves. Grill the kebabs until nicely golden on all sides. Dress your salad leaves and mint with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Meanwhile, warm your flatbreads for 30 seconds on your griddle pan or under the grill, then divide between plates and top each with some dressed salad leaves and onion. When your kebabs are cooked, slip them off their skewers on to the flatbreads – you can leave them whole or break them up as I’ve done here. Sprinkle with the rest of the sumac, cumin, chilli and fresh thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Now either toss the salads, grilled meat and juices together on top of the flatbreads and drizzle with some of the yoghurt before rolling up and serving; or let your friends toss theirs together at the table, then dress and roll up their own, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil.

Use lean mince and light yoghurt to make it low fat.

Spring fresh salad

1 tomato, chopped
1/3 continental cucumber, sliced into quarters
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
a bunch of fresh salad leaves
1 celery stick
1/4 of capsicum sliced
a small handful of pea sprouts
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
A handful of cooked (roasted or poached) shredded chicken
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl.
Mix 3 parts of olive oil with 1 part of balsamic vinegar in a small jar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, close the lid tightly and shake well. Add dressing to the salad and serve!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home made yummy pizza's with roasted vegetables and chicken

What can be better than a home made pizza! You can experiment with lots of different ingredients, mix and match together what ever you feel like!
What I've got here is two simple variations of the same recipe for the healthy and yummy pizza.

For the pizza number one you'll need:
Pizza base (home made pizza dough is much nice than any other, but today I've got pretty good quality bought ones, you can buy ones you like most or make some yourself)
Tomato paste
Roasted veggies: potatoes and pumpkin cut into 1-2cm chunks
Roasted with oregano and white wine chicken, torn into small pieces
Fresh capsicum, chopped
Sun dried tomato
Ricotta cheese, torn into small bits
Fresh rosemary leaves
Tasty cheese grated
Garlic powder

For the pizza number two:
Pizza base
Olive oil
Roasted veggies: potatoes and pumpkin cut into 1-2cm chunks
Roasted with oregano and white wine chicken, torn into small pieces
Fresh capsicum, chopped
Ricotta cheese, torn into small bits
Fresh rosemary leaves
Fresh garlic, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C.
For the pizza number one: Spread tomato paste onto your pizza base, and place all your veggies, chicken, sun-dried tomato and ricotta on top. Sprinkle it all with rosemary leaves, a bit of garlic powder and cheese.
For the pizza number two: Brush pizza base with olive oil, place your veggies, chicken and ricotta onto the pizza base, sprinkle with chopped garlic and rosemary leaves.
Cook in the oven for about 15 min or until ready.

A little bit of art for one weekend

"The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you".
- Oscar Wilde
The same day I went to the tea shop, we visited the Gallery of Modern Arts and Art Gallery in central Brisbane.
I love art in all its forms and shapes! It's amazing what some people can come up with, sometimes it's just crazy, other times it is very inspiring.

There are a few pictures of what is currently going on in Brisbane's art centre.

Harold Parker  "Spring awakening"
Giovanni Battista Foggini "Hercules and Omphale"
Giacomo Ginotti "Lucretia"

"Where did I learn to understand sculpture? In the woods by looking at the trees, along roads by observing the formation of clouds, in the studio by studying the model, everywhere except in the schools".
- Auguste Rodin
George Baldessin "Three pears"

Mathieu Mercier "Drum 'n' bass Lafayette"
Robert MacPherson "Scale from the tool colour group"
Olivier Mosset "Untitled"
Marilyn Minter "Marilyn Minter for Supreme"
Emmett Williams "Sencce Sound"
Nam June Paik "TV cello"
John Giomo
Author unknown "Not a happy kitten. In fact I'd say it was a dog"
30 NO NEWS by AY-O

Rosalie Gascoingne "Lamp lit"
Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phu Nam Thuc Ha, Link-fish, Ca Sau Yellow "Proposal for Vietnamese landscape #1: United and determined to triumph, thirst for more, Dinh"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tea Topic

I have finally found a Tea shop in Brisbane!

With my kids, I always have a lot of things on my mind, and for a long time searching for the tea shop was not the first priority, but last weekend, I have decided not to put it away any more and enjoy the opportunity of travelling to the city, so I looked up their address.
The shop is called 'Tea Centre', it's located in the heart of Brisbane. The shop isn't big, but just perfect for a tea lovers. It's got everything you'd want! There is an excellent selection of tea choices: classic black, green, white, herbal and flavoured verity. Many of them delivered from all the different sides of the world.
Just Imagen the leaves were all picked by different people, collected, prepared, packaged and brought to this tiny cozy house of tea! The shelves are all packed up to the roof with large metal containers. They also got a nice selection of pretty tea pots, cups, and other interesting things for a tea party :)

I have not bought a lot for the first time, I've decided first of all to try out the shop.
This is what I have chosen. I got three different choices of tea: 1) "Happy Hour" (black tea with cinnamon and rose petal, 2) "Sydney Special" (Black & green tea with mango, jasmine flowers, rose flowers, cornflowers & calendula flowers) and 3) classic green "China Chun Mee Moon Palace".

"Sydney Special"

"Happy Hour"

"China Chun Mee Moon Palace"

I have chosen two types of flavoured teas. I do like when the tea got an extra flavour to it.

You can't taste the tea right at the shop, but you can smell the leaves. They offered me to taste the tea in the cafe situated not to far away from the shop, but I thought I'll choose by the ingredients, the description and the tea fragrance.
Mmm, I was looking forward to get home and taste what I've purchased!
It was a delicious experience! My favourite out of those three was "Happy Hour". I was not sure about "Sydney Special" at first, but the next day I tried it, I changed my mind, I actually liked it a lot.
I can't say I am a big fan of green tea, it always seemed a bit bitter to me, no matter which brand or type I tasted. However, I've learned something new about this kind of tea from the little brochure they gave me at the shop. Apparently, water used for brewing green tea should be below boiling point, with some fine green teas, the water can be as low as 70C. If you over brew your tea it will become bitter. That's it! So simple. And all this time this simple thing prevented me from enjoying green tea drinking! You learn something you every day of your life.
Well, now I know. And I did exactly as they said when I was brewing my new green tea "China Chun Mee Moon Palace", and it made a significant difference in flavour and taste.

I can't wait to try out more new and exciting flavours of tea they got there. I even got a list of what I'd like to taste next.
I'm already looking forward to going there again, Though, this place also got a web sight and they do delivery, which gives me an option of staying at home and ordering on my laptop. But I think I'd rather go there myself, just to experience friendly and cozy atmosphere of the quaint little tea house again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Roasted chicken breast with cherry tomatoes and asparagus

Another one of Jamie Oliver's must make it again recipes...

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put 2 chicken breasts, in a bowl. Add 14 trimmed sticks of asparagus, 12 halved cherry tomatoes and the leaves from 1 sprigs of fresh rosemary plus 2 whole sprigs of rosemary as well. Toss everything together with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Put the veggies into a tinfoil tray and place the chicken and rosemary sprigs on top. Season well. Add some white wine and cook in the middle of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes.
Serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New York Cheesecake

1 x 250g pkt plain sweet biscuits (such as Arnott's Nice)
125g unsalted butter, melted
750g cream cheese, at room temperature
215g (1 cup) caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbs plain flour
4 eggs
1 x 300ml ctn sour cream
120g fresh or frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line the base of a 23cm (base measurement) springform pan with non-stick baking paper.
2. Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Transfer to the lined pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the biscuit mixture firmly over the base and side of pan, leaving 1cm at the top of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
3. Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind in a large bowl until just combined. Beat in the flour. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. Stir in the sour cream until just combined.
4. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the base. Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours or until just set in the centre. Turn oven off. Leave the cheesecake in oven, with the door ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (this will prevent cheesecake from cracking). Place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill.
5. Top the cheesecake with the raspberries. Cut into wedges to serve.

Just a recommendation from my own experience! Place the baking tin onto an oven tray before putting it in the oven. In case if the cake mixture leaks in the oven, you'll be able to change the try quickly to prevent it from smoking :)