Friday, 24 October 2014

Eating: Beletti, Dandenong


We decided on a whim to dine here once upon an early Saturday dinner. The restaurant is spacious and modern, but unfortunately due to our lack of a booking we were seated next to the entrance. Waiting staff were pleasant but service was a little slow, most likely due to our awkward seating location.

We started with the seafood skewers, served with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini cheese. The fish portions were well cooked, if that's the way you like your fish. I personally prefer it just done, not well done. The flavour was underwhelming, if there was more seasoning or a generous smattering of herbs it would have made it nicer. The prawns were the highlight for me, well seasoned with a good firm texture. The bocconcini did not belong on the dish, a different cheese would have given this dish more life. Overall, it gave the impression of a fresh light entree, which is perfectly fine in itself.

I wasn't too impressed with the Linguini di Mare. Maybe we ate on a night they just weren't performing well. The seafood was overcooked. Morton bay bug had the powdery texture, scallops rubbery. The pasta was overcooked and not the al dente I expect of most restaurants that offer anything pasta. The highlights of this dish was it's generous portion size, and the sauce. The sauce had strong hints of garlic, chilli, and parsley, but there just wasn't enough. The last few bites of linguini drenched in that sauce was delicious though.

We were similarly disappointed in the Beef Wellington. Once again the meat was under seasoned, and there was not enough sauce for the amount of pastry and meat. The pastry itself was thick, and got soggy very quickly. This offering was more like a beef parcel.

In conclusion:
Average Saturday night dinner. If you're in the area and looking for a place to eat food at and if you happen to also have the Entertainment book discount, then it's ok. There are other places who do this type of food in a better manner. Would not go out of my way to eat here. The best dish of the evening was the seafood skewer entree. 

161 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong 3175
(03)9793 1600

Beletti Restaurant Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Gardening: Spring is in the air

Whenever I crouch in my garden and poke about the dirt, pet the leaves and smell that wet dirt smell, I get a sense being a part of something. That something is special, it's removed from the little nugatory squabbles of life.

The familiar sight of basil shyly shifting aside the dirt to warms its leaves. My hope is that this time it finds something nice here that it chooses to stay and maybe even flourish.

I cheated with the spring onions and leeks. Cut offs were delicately shoved into the ground, and thereby giving myself instant grown ups. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with their puberty years. I've got a few teen-onions in a separate naughty area, since they wouldn't behave themselves. 

I've been informed that tomatoes are not fussy at all, their only flaw is their unquenchable thirst. I don't know why but they still worry me. So I've been pampering her with the sunniest spot possible, even if it means grass may wilt to satisfy her needs.

Already I see signs of what I hope is the fruit of my labours. But first I'll have to fight off the slugs.

Speaking of slugs, they really love the coriander, I caught three the other night sneaking their slimy beings onto this pot. The outrage I felt! I could barely control it!

I'm pretty sure I only have those very same slugs to thank for the holes in my spring beans. I'm glad I learnt about slug pellets before I sowed the snap peas. I'm trying a technique I like to call "stagger-planting". No, it's not staggering around the garden after imbibing C2H4OH and then face planting. I'm hoping that if I plant beans at one weekly intervals it will mean I shall have a constant supply of perfectly ripening beans to eat.

Now thank you friends for enduring that nauseating gushing about my newborns. One can only hope that if I do it now it will stem the effusive flow of cooing when I have a newborn of the human variety.

I blame spring.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Baking: Lemon, Raspberry and Sour cream cake


To me this cake sings of spring, with the adorable stain of red raspberry on the top. The lemon and raspberry match well together, with the sour cream ensuring it remains moist. Eat on its own, eat with a cup of tea, eat with raspberry lemonade!

This has to be one of the easiest cakes I have ever had the pleasure to make. It follows the same basic principles as a tea cake. This is a good cake to teach others the technique of "creaming". It has an advantage over tea cake, in that it's much more delicious.

This adorable cake tin is currently selling at Aldi for under $10, and I just desperately wanted to try it out. It turns out this cake tin is the perfect size for a small afternoon tea treat. It will definitely see plenty of action in the future.

I followed the basic recipe from SBS food online, but I cut down on the sugar, added more lemon rind, changed the tin size, and so adjusted the baking temperature.

Lemon, Raspberry and Sour cream cake
Serving size: 18cm Bundt tin or 20cm round cake tin
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 40mins

- 125g soft butter
- Rind of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 100g sour cream
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs at room temp.
- 50g frozen berries
- 150g (1cup) plain flour
- 60g self-raising flour

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius, and grease 18cm bundt tin with butter or canola oil
2. Cream butter and caster sugar together with electric mixer until pale yellow
3. Add one egg at a time, make sure to mix with electric mixer between each egg addition
4. Stir in lemon rind and juice with a wooden spoon
5. Shift the two flours together. Add a third of the flour mixture at a time, alternating with a third of the sour cream, folding ingredients into the batter between each addition.
6. Mix frozen berries with two teaspoons of caster sugar, add berries to the bottom of the bundt tin
7. Bake for 40mins at 160 degrees celsius, test at 35mins with a skewer to see if it's done (comes out clean then it's done, if comes out dirty it still requires another 10mins)
8. Leave to cool down completely before attempting to remove.
9. Remove from tin and eat! Feel free to dust with icing sugar or top with a cake glaze if desired.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Eating: Little Tommy Tucker


Little Tommy Tucker, is a small busy cafe off the main street in Bentleigh. It’s clean simple interior of wood, ceramic tiles, dotted with green plants, creates an inviting haven from which you can recuperate after a tough week. There is a wait but a few stools makes it tolerable.

Let’s just start straight out with a confession. I adore the institution that is brunch, but I own a quirk that I never been able to get rid of. I am distrustful of other people cooking my eggs for me. I’ve just had my egg-motions hurt time and time again by: hard yolks, over baked eggs, water clogged poached forms, to name a few. I would rather cook my own and to endure my own mistakes and messes, I don’t need to pay someone else for the privilege to suffer their ineptitude. But enough of this pontificating! Now you know why I tend to shy away from dishes containing eggs.

I chose the burger. This well constructed delicious handful ticks all the boxes for me. Brioche bun well crafted, and holds together under the onslaught of the juices and contents. The tomato relish is well balanced, not too acidic and a sweet balance to all the beef flavours exuding from the patty.

The beef patty is juicy and generously endowed. The patty is the main star of this dish, which I think should hold true for all burgers. Flavoured with onions, rosemary and thyme. All other elements help to support it, from the cheese, pickles, cos lettuce. Wedges are baked.

I was told the zucchini slice was creamy, going well with the salmon and crispy snow peas. The eggs here at this point in time were cooked perfectly with the yolk having the required slight oozy consistency.

In conclusion:
Excellent brunch place with pleasing decor and prompt service. The food will definitely please with good coffee and chai. Be aware of the wait, considering how good it is, the wait is worth it. If you’re wanting to try a new place, it’s a place I would think about going out of my way to try.

Little Tommy Tucker
432 Centre Road
(03) 9576 5174

Little Tommy Tucker on Urbanspoon