Tag Archives: Pizza

Ottolenghi’s Walnut, Fig and Goat’s Cheese Salad (+Bonus Fig and Proscuitto Pizza)

8 Mar

Everyone seems to love the Ottolenghi cookbook, so when I tried a few recipes from it and my reactions ranged from “it’s okaaay but not worth the effort” to “oh God I’m going to be sick” I figured I had done something wrong and tucked those blog posts away in shame.

I was leafing dejectedly through my Ottolenghi cookbook the other day when I saw a recipe that I knew would be fine – I’ve never met a combination of walnuts, figs and goat’s cheese that I didn’t like!

The salad is supposed to serve 4, but if it’s you are a big eater it will easily serve 2. Also I cheated a bit – I didn’t have mint and parsley so I just used a mix of random salad greens.

I think I cooked the sauce a little too long because it was quite thick at the end – more jammy than dressing-like, which meant that it clumped instead of spreading out nicely over the salad. Oh well, lesson learned!

We had lamb cutlets with the salad. It was a delicious (though somewhat high calorie) meal, and afterwards James made a point to tell me how much he had enjoyed it. =) I think he is trying to encourage me to make it again.



  • 125ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 60ml red wine vinegar
  • 50g honey
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • 50g walnuts, broken
  • 100g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • 20g mint leaves
  • 25g flat parsley leaves
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 fresh figs, halved or quartered


  1. Place all the sauce ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan, stir and put over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until reduced by two thirds. Remove from the heat and keep somewhere warm.
  2. Place the walnuts in a non-stick frying pan and toast over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
  3. Gently toss together all the salad ingredients, apart from the figs, seasoning with salt and pepper. Make sure the components stay separate and that the cheese doesn’t smear the leaves.
  4. Place the figs on the serving plate and pile the salad next to them. Drill a small amount of sauce over the figs and salad.

Also I had some leftover figs so a couple of days later I made a pita bread pizza with them.

From memory the toppings were olive tapenade, figs, brie and proscuitto, with rosemary sprigs and balsamic vinegar drizzled on afterwards.

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serve of salad: 690 calories,  62% fat, 9% protein, 29% carbs

Groove Train

10 Oct

Groove Train
619 Doncaster road, Westfield Doncaster

My cousin Kaylene was down from Sydney and we decided to have a mini cousin gathering (without Cat and Scott, who were in Vietnam). Unfortunately we didn’t book until the last minute, and by then all the decent options were taken, so Klene booked us in for Groove Train.

I admit – I pre-judged Groove Train; I pre-judged it very harshly. At the time of booking it was sitting on a mighty 24% approval rate at Urbanspoon, but it was a Friday night and we were desperate.

I will say that the space was gorgeous – dark, wood, high ceilings, sexy downlighting – it hardly looked like the sort of restaurant that would score below McDonald’s on Urbanspoon.

We did some shopping beforehand (2 shirts and a pair of sandals for James), and were the last to arrive.

There were heaps of waiters but they were all milling around, and it was really difficult to get their attention. That would have been more annoying, except their crappy service gave us more time to chat.

James and I had a big lunch so we split a pizza di carne ($20.90)

The topping was Napoli sauce, mozzarella cheese, Virginian ham, Italian salami, bacon and capsicum. It was about the size of a dinner plate, and alright – but honestly, how hard is it to fuck up a pizza? It was incredibly overpriced, but everything on the menu was.

There was a huge gap between when they took away our plates and when we were able to flag down a waiter to order dessert, so in that time we organised our kris kringles for Christmas this year. 3 months in advance, oh yeah …

For dessert we had a dessert calzone ($15.90)

It was basically a calzone filled with nutella and a couple of token strawberries. Andrew recommended it, so I was feeling optimistic, but it wasn’t great. Do you know how hard it is to make nutella not great?? The pastry was flavourless – it was basically a nutella scooping vessel, and there was so much nutella that everyone felt sick afterwards.

The bill-paying system was weird – the bill was brought to the table, but you had to then take the bill and your payment up to a counter. There was a huge line when we went to pay, and it took ages. We were annoyed enough that instead of paying in cash, James counted up the bill and used his credit card instead so the restaurant would get 1% less profit from the credit card transaction fee. We are petty people.

Groove Train has food for people who don’t care about food. But it’s one thing to pay McDonald’s prices for McDonald’s quality food; it’s just adding insult to injury to pay restaurant prices for fast food quality. Buy a $5 Domino’s pizza and put it on a big white plate, and for dessert grab a spoon and a jar of Nutella. There, I’ve just saved you $30.

Groove Train on Urbanspoon

Settebello Pt 2: The Lunchening

25 Feb

46-50 hardware lane, Melbourne

A few weeks ago James and I had a serviceable but not distinctive breakfast at Settebello. Last week Cat and I took Ivo so we could use up some more of our vouchers – 2 $30 vouchers for 3 people, which actually ended up being a bit of overkill.

Most people seemed to go for the pizzas, which is what I decided to do, especially since Cat highly recommended the smoked ham, gorgonzola and spinach pizza ($8.90). To be honest I found this one a bit bland – I couldn’t taste the gorgonzola, which was where the flavour should have come from since ham and spinach are fairly bland. The base was much better than the breakfast pizza though – light and thin crust, just how I like it.

The prosciutto and chilli pizza ($8.90) was much better. Just the right amount of chilli, and the prosciutto was much stronger tasting than the stupid ham. I wish I’d ordered two of these!

To use up the voucher I also ordered some macarons for us to share ($2.50 each) though nobody else wanted any so I ended up with them all. From the left: chocolate cherry, watermelon, raspberry and white chocolate, and salted caramel x 2. The best one was the chocolate cherry.

Cat had a pizza with salad and diet coke, and Ivo had a pizza and a tart. I was quite clearly the piggish one with my 2 pizzas and giant stash of macarons.

It was nice catching up with Ivo and Cat – we all agreed that we should do this more often now that Ivo works in the city. Cat and I both have a list of lunch places we want to check out.

I have one more voucher to use up for Settebello – I will have to take James there again, because I bet he’d really enjoy the chilli pizzas.
Sette Bello on Urbanspoon


21 Feb

46-50 hardware lane, Melbourne

Late last year I bought some Zoupon (at least I think it was Zoupon) vouchers for a cafe called Settebello. I paid $11 for a $30 voucher, which was a pretty good deal so I ended up buying a few.

The vouchers expire in early March, so I’ve been frantically trying to use them up, and a couple of Saturdays ago James and I had breakfast there.

I ordered a glass of orange juice and a breakfast pizza. The pizza base was quite tough and thick, and the bacon wasn’t as flavorsome as the bacon I normally buy. Still, pizza is still alright even when it’s not great. I might have a go at making a breakfast pizza at some point.

James ordered some sort of eggy salsa-y thing and a long black coffee. Sorry, I’m not good at remembering stuff, and there aren’t any prices or menus on the Settebello website. He seemed to like his breakfast alright, though he wasn’t wowed. He said the coffee was decent, but his gold standard is still Seven Seeds.

Look at him sitting so patiently while I take a photo of his food. =)

To use up the voucher I also  ordered a custard tart with some nutella swirled in. Delicious! Best part of the breakfast!

The meal came to a couple of bucks over $30. It was incredible value for the actual $13 that we paid, but in terms of the actual food it’s not as good as G&O or Fandango (though admittedly we are spoiled when it comes to our local breakfast places).

I went there a week later for lunch with Ivo and Cat, and I think their lunch offerings are far stronger.

Another Pizza Attempt

15 Dec

I make pizza when I’ve run out of food. I’m normally quite organised with how much food I buy, but sometimes I miscalculate leftovers or haven’t accounted for lunch. I don’t know if James realises, but pizza is my “oh crap, there’s nothing to eat” meal.

It uses ingredients I already have on hand – canned tomatoes, mozzarella (though I’m running low – I need to make another Mediterranean Wholesalers run), chilli anchovies, and basil from the balcony garden. And also flour, oil, sugar, yeast and salt for the dough. Easy!

It feels so wholesome going onto the balcony and snipping off some basil. I should update about the garden soon, I’m just waiting for the tomatoes to do something interesting.

So really, this is a blog post about how lazy I’ve been all week. Normally I’m quite productive while James is at work, but since he’s working from home it feels like he’s still on holiday. I think December is going to be a pretty slack month for me!

Cooking Stuff I Want

10 Dec

(or have recently bought)


A Kitchenaid mixer so I can make bread/pizza dough, baked goods, and ice cream. A couple of years ago there was a deal where you got a free ice cream bowl attachment (normally $200 I think) when you bought a mixer, so if they come out with that again I’ll definitely buy it.

Some A Grade Bourbon Vanilla for making my own vanilla extract.

A pizza stone. I’ve been getting into making pizza again and a stone would give me better heat. I could also use it for baking bread.

A 15cm ovenproof frying pan. I need to get this one soon since I’ll need it when I attempt the Bistro Vue tarte tatin for James’ birthday.

A mandoline. So I can julienne stuff easily.


I had a Myer gift card to use up (hooray for credit card rewards points!) so I picked up some of the more urgent items on my list. All the departments at Bourke Street Myer have been moved around again, but now half the stairwells and escalators are closed. James was at Myer last week, and even the staff didn’t know where some of the departments were. You can imagine how fun it is when you add heaps of confused Christmas shoppers.

All the Australian retailers are QQing about how everyone is spending their money buying overseas, but all the Christmas presents I bought online have:

  • arrived within a week and a half
  • been half the price I could buy them here
  • not required me to go shopping in a crowd of slow-walkers

And overall it’s a much more pleasant experience. But rant aside, this is the stuff I bought.

A mini cupcake/muffin tray. For a higher ratio of icing to cupcake!

Oxo Good Grips Tongs. I’m very picky about tongs, and these are my favourites.

More measuring spoons

A pizza cutter. Because I was getting tired of moving the pizza to a chopping board, then hacking away at it with a knife.

Pear, Proscuitto and Goat Cheese Pizza

20 Oct

Remember the 00 flour I bought from Mediterranean Wholesalers?

I had to look up a recipe that specified 00 flour because I’ve read that it absorbs water better than plain flour. I slightly adapted mine from this Food Network recipe – the only change in the ingredients was using olive oil instead of EVOO, but I was pretty slack with the method.

The recipe said it would make 3 pizzas, though I only got 2 thin (albeit quite large) pizzas out of it. The first batch was incredibly hard to roll out – it kept tearing and shrinking, and I had to keep patching up holes with other bits of dough, and it was a bit frankensteiny when I finished with it. I think either I didn’t knead it enough or I didn’t give it enough time to warm up from the fridge. The second batch was perfect – it had a couple of extra days to rise in the fridge and I brought it to room temperature for the final rise.

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups 00 flour, plus more for dusting


  1. Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a big bowl. Stir gently to dissolve and let stand about 10 minutes (yeast should be foaming)
  2. Add salt and 2 TBSP of olive oil. Dump in the flour and knead, knead, knead. I just knead in the bowl to avoid having to flour a surface. If the dough is crumbly, add more water and if it’s sticky, add more flour. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Lightly oil the kneading bowl and put your dough inside. Cover with glad wrap. If you have a few days, let it slow-rise in the fridge for maximum flavour, but otherwise let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.

The oven was heated as high as it would go and I baked the crust for a couple of minutes, then topped it with caramelised onions, beurre bosc pears (cooked quickly on the stovetop – in the remainder of the caramelised onions), soft goat cheese, proscuitto and a handful of walnuts. Baked it for another 5 minutes or so, and it was perfect.