Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Olympic Cider - The Hills Cider Company - Hybrid Series - Apple & Ginger

In keeping with the patriotism of the Olympic Games, this week's cider promotes two of our fantastic States: Adelaide for it's delicious apples & Queensland for it's famed hand selected ginger. 

Made by The Hills Cider Company, who are already well known for their Apple Cider and my current favourite Australian Pear Cider .The guys behind the name are Steve Dorman and Tobias Kline who spent several years perfecting their craft prior to entering the Australian market in 2010.

This limited release cider is deliciously refreshing, and upon pouring it is quite heady, but this quickly settles to reveal a clear golden amber cider with strong apple and ginger aromas. I really like the subtle hint of spice in this cider, it helps cleanse the palate and the acidic structure contributes to it's slightly drying finish.

With much less sweetness than their other two ciders, the apple and ginger flavour combination works really well. For this reason,I believe it is more geared to the dedicated cider drinker, as it probably won't appeal to those who prefer sweeter ciders. That said, it will pair really well with sweet desserts and strong cheeses.

Along with all ciders by The Hills Cider Company, this one comes a la naturale - with no added flavours, sugars or concentrates - Just how I like them!

At 8% this one is fairly strong. A 750ml bottle will provide you with 4.75 standard drinks.

You can purchase The Hills Company Hybrid Series - Apple & Ginger in NSW, at Camperdown Cellars, Balmain and Toxteth Wine Shops. Contact them here  for stockists in other States.

The Food Mentalist sampled the Hybrid series compliments of The Hills Cider Company.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Black Sticky Rice & Caramelised Coconut Pudding

Black sticky rice is one of my all time favourites so when I came across this recipe online, I just had to make it. It's super easy and tastes amazing. Black glutinous rice is an Asian rice which turns sticky when cooked. Despite it's name it doesn't actually contain any gluten. It has a wonderful nutty texture and pairs really well with coconut, sweet syrupy sauces and caramel flavours. You can purchase black sticky rice in most Asian grocers and some supermarkets also carry it.

Black Sticky Rice w/ Caramelised Coconut
Adapted from SBS Food's Black Sticky Rice Pudding w/ Caramelised Coconut 

2 cups black sticky rice (soaked overnight in cool water)
5 cups water
2 cups sugar

Coconut Cream
1 cup coconut cream
2 tsp rice flour ( optional)
½ tsp salt
Pinch of sugar

Caramelised Coconut
2 cups grated coconut ( I used McKenzie's Moist Coconut)
1 cup brown sugar

Wash the black sticky rice. If you have a rice cooker, cook as you would normal rice. I did this and it turned out perfectly. If not, combine in a saucepan with water and place over medium heat to boil until the rice is cooked through. Add the sugar and continue to boil until the sugar dissolves.

For the Coconut Cream: Combine the coconut cream, rice flour ( optional), salt and sugar in a pan and cook over low heat until boiling. Set aside.

For the Caramelised Coconut: Combine the grated coconut and sugar in a saucepan, stirring over a medium heat until syrupy. Remove from heat.

Serve by spooning the black sticky rice into individual bowls and top with caramelised coconut and a drizzle of the sweet coconut cream.

Were you up early to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games? What did you think?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Old Mout Cider - Feijoa & Cider

This week's cider is another by the guys at Old Mout Cider in Nelson New Zealand.  This line extension is unique because it introduces us to the flavours of the feijoa fruit - pronounced ( Fee Jo Ahh). Native to the highlands of Brazil, Paraguay, Northern Argentina and Uruguay, this fruit is also very common in New Zealand and is recognised for its pineapple and guava flavours.

Feijoa Fruit

This pale blonde cider marries the lovely flavours of apple, with the tart sweetness of the guava and pineapple. It has a fine carbonation and a medium balanced sweetness. The cider itself has fairly strong alcoholic flavours, and at 8% , a 330ml bottle will provide you with 2.1 standard drinks.

This cider is unique and would be a great alternative to a sweet fruity Riesling or Gewurztraminer. It will pair really well with spicy dishes and curries as the zingy fruit will help cut through strong flavours.

Made from whole fruit, with no added sugar, this one is also gluten free.

The Food Mentalist purchased Old Mout Feijoa & Cider @ Camperdown Cellars, Sydney.

For your local Australian stockist clear here 

Next month, I am heading to New Zealand for the first time - and will visit the South Island. Please feel free to leave suggestions on places to visit, restaurants etc below.

Hope you are all having a great Sunday!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Buttermilk Cheese & Chilli Scones

During the first few years of the 90's I had a very scary, rather tragic perm. It was honestly quite hideous and it was so tightly wound that I remember feeling like Little Bo Beep - only thing missing was my sheep. Oh wait, they weren't missing - they were actually on my head!

It took forever to grow out and whilst memories (photos) continue to haunt me, I do share some fond memories of that time too - namely those relating to food.  The 90's saw a revival of the humble scone particularly in the United States, which of course had a flow on effect here. I remember Nan churning out loads of varieties - from pumpkin, to date and plain old fluffy buttermilk ones. Smothered in butter, they were delicious.

I developed this recipe to accompany Pete's corn chowder which is perfect during winter, as well as to test out my new Baker's Secret products which I was lucky enough to trial recently. I made these scones wheat, gluten & soy free and they turned out really well. You can use any cheese in this recipe, we just happened to have tasty on hand at the time. 

To make the regular version just substitute with regular self raising flour and omit the xanthan gum - Easy.

Buttermilk Cheese Scones w/ Chilli
An Original Recipe by The Food Mentalist
Makes 5-6

75g grated cheese ( I used tasty)
3 tbs buttermilk plus extra for brushing over the scones
175g gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of paprika
25g butter
dried chilli flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 220'C. Sift flour into a bowl, then add the ground mustard seeds, salt and one really good pinch of paprika. Mix together thoroughly, then rub the butter in, using your fingertips, until crumbly.Then mix in about 75g of the grated cheese.

Next, beat the egg with 2½ tablespoons buttermilk and gradually add it to the dry ingredients, mixing first with a knife then with your hands to make a soft dough. If it is a little dry, add a little more buttermilk, enough to make a soft smooth dough, that will leave the bowl clean. My Nan always says it's important to not overwork the scone mix as it can become tough and if your aiming for fluffy pillows rather than 'rock cakes' treat the mix with care.

Next, roll it out as evenly as possible to around 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick – The secret of well-risen scones is to start off with a thickness no less than an inch. Then using a fluted cutter, cut out 5-6 scones. You may need to re-roll the dough to cut out them all out.

Place them on the well-greased baking tray or a non stick one like the one I used above, brush the tops with a little more buttermilk, then sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top of each scone and top with a little dried chilli flakes.

Bake them on a high shelf for about 15-20 minutes until the scones have risen and are golden brown. Serve warm with lots of butter!

Serve with corn chowder or your favourite winter soup.

Max wanted a little scone action too, you couldn't blame him really.

Have you made scones lately? What is your favourite kind?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cider Sunday - Batlow Premium Cider

Happy Cider Sunday Everyone,

What a gorgeous day we have had here in Sydney today, a nice change from the wintry cold days before.

This week's cider - Batlow Premium Cider is one of the newest to hit the Australian market, launched by brothers Sam & Rich Coombes in October 2011. I was fortunate enough to meet Sam, and sample this cider yesterday at Camperdown Cellars in Sydney, when I popped in to stock up on new ciders to try. I must say I am very impressed by the concept of turning Australia's iconic Batlow Apple into a premium cider - Nice work guys!

Batlow, is located at the base of the Snowy Mountains, 450km west of Sydney. Apples are handpicked within a 30km radius of the Batlow Post Office and are transported to Victoria to a cidery where the apples are processed and the natural fermentation process begins. Before sampling this cider I was impressed to find out that it does not contain any concentrate or added sugar, and it's gluten free. I think most ciders are generally gluten free but it's nice to know that this one is guaranteed of the fact.

Upon pouring, it has a slight foamy head which quickly settles to reveal a clear pale golden cider with light to medium carbonation. It has a lovely balanced earthy sweetness and great acid structure that lingers and finishes fairly dry. It is crisp and very easy to drink, with fresh apple flavours coming through - I was also happy to note that each 330ml bottle contains about 3 1/2 crushed Batlow apples.

Pete is currently participating in Dry July and even though I tried my hardest to get his opinion on this one, he just wouldn't waver. Not to worry though, as this cider will definitely be a regular in our household - I know it's one that Pete will really enjoy too.

It definitely lives up to it's name, and I am sure we will see and hear more from these guys as it's popularity grows.

This cider will lend itself to most food pairings and it's medium-dry finish will complement foods including seafood, roast meats, and even fruity desserts. Why not try it instead of your usual white wine for something a little different.

At 5.2% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.4 standard drinks.

For your local stockist click here and to find out more about this great cider check out their website @ 

The Food Mentalist purchased Batlow Premium Cider @ Camperdown Cellars
A pack of 4 (330ml) bottles - $14.99

What did you get up to today?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Win with Lipton Ice Green Tea

Who doesn't love a tea party, right? And in the lead up to Spring, planning and hosting the perfect tea party is a great way to inspire your creativity and catch up with friends and/or family.

Being the green tea addict that I am, I absolutely love this range. Flavours include - Original, Mango, and Citrus. They are low in calories and do not contain any artificial sweeteners - Yay!

At a recent launch party, Lipton Ice Green Tea ambassador Kate Waterhouse shared her ultimate Ice Green Tea party tips. Some of my favourites are:

  • If the idea of cucumber sandwiches bores you, or the thought of sugary cakes gives you a stomach ache, try something a bit more refreshing to go with your Lipton Ice Green Tea. Sesame crusted sushi, Vietnamese rice paper rolls or chilli-salted edamame are not only lighter options they’re bound to get your taste buds pumping. 

  • Instead of using old glasses and china, serve your Lipton Ice Green Tea and treats in an unexpected way. For an ultramodern aesthetic, serve everything on glass or stainless steel. If your taste is more modern-eclectic, scavenge local vintage stores and antique shops for unusual or unique glasses, plates, and tableware. 

  • Instead of drinking one type of Ice Green Tea, turn the occasion into a taste-test party. It’s an excellent excuse to show off your designer glassware and accommodate your guests’ palates. Set out several pitchers or jugs and pour a different type of Ice Green Tea in each one. So you know what you're drinking, make little folded display cards ahead of time to stand in front of each jug. 

  • Rather than sending your guests handwritten letters (very old world), invite your guests online. A quick Facebook event page will give you a chance to monitor RSVPs or for a personalised touch, hit the web for pre-prepared e-invites. There are lots of different templates you can use, depending on your style and theme. 

  • For a special touch, make your own flavoured ice cubes. They look divine and will keep your drinks refreshingly chilled throughout the day. Just add a little lemon juice and peel to water and pour into ice cube trays. Or for a summery mango twist, blitz mango and ice and pour the puree into trays to freeze. Alternatively, freeze your favourite Lipton Ice Green Tea into cubes so the tea won’t dilute throughout the day.

  • Flowers are a must and don’t have to break the bank. Arrange pretty posies of your favourites around the table, or for a vintage touch, use old jam jars and bottles as vases. Now place single-stemmed flowers in each and clutter them around the space.

  • Everyone loves to dress up, so to get guests excited, give your day a special theme – whether it’s dressing in a particular colour or going for more of an specific dress code like Oriental Bazaar or Mediterranean Delight – either way it will provide some entertaining photo moments which you can share with everyone post-event.

Thanks to Lipton Ice Green Tea, one lucky reader will win their very own Lipton Ice Green Tea pack with samples from the entire flavour range including 3 x 1.25 litre bottles and 1 x Mixed Case (12 x 500ml bottles). For a chance to win, all you have to do is tell me your BEST tip for throwing the perfect Ice Green Tea Party. You can enter once daily.

 The competition is open to Australian residents only and entries close on Sunday 22nd July at 12pm midday.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Aspall Crisp Draught Suffolk Cyder

After a few very busy weeks, a nasty cold and general chaos I started back at the gym yesterday. I actually enjoyed it and today I backed it up with a quick warm up session with Pete and a lap around the Bay Run with a combination of walking and jogging. Let's just say I am more than happy to be sitting down right now, my legs feel like jelly!

Aspall is this weeks apple cider, and it is produced by the Chevallier Family in Aspall, Suffolk - England. For eight generations the Chevallier Family have been churning out quality cider and this particular blend was created in 2003 to celebrate their 275th year of cyder making.

First thing you notice about this one is it's crystal clear bright yellow hue. It's gorgeous, particularly on a sunny day like today. With fine carbonation and a welcomed balanced sweetness, this one is is surprisingly good.  I remember many of the traditional ciders in London to be cloudy, flat and served warm and in stark contrast, this one is crisp, light and delicious.

Fresh ripe apple flavours are evident from the outset, with a nice acidic balance and just a hint of dryness toward the end. Despite it's 5.5% alcohol, it doesn't exhibit strong alcoholic flavours like some other ciders do.  Overall, this one is very easy to drink. It will pair well with light fresh flavours - like stir fries, noodle dishes or a generous cheese platter laden with dried fruit and fresh figs.

At 5.5% alcohol, a 500ml bottle will provide you with 2.2 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased Aspall Crisp Draught Suffolk Cyder at Camperdown Cellars. Its is also available at Dan Murphy's and other liquor retailers.

RRP $ 6.90 per 500ml bottle.

Tell me, how often do you exercise? Do you find it hard to fit it in?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cider Sunday - Duche De Longueville - Apple Cider

Happy first day of the month! A great day to celebrate with this week's cider direct from Normandy in France. 

This one has strong sweet aromas of caramel and vanilla. A varietal cider made using the Gros OEillet cider apples which are harvested on their own orchards in Normandy, this cider has a natural sweetness and strong roasted apple flavours. Made using no added sugar or preservatives, this one has a fine carbonation created by the natural fermentation process.

This cider reminds me of a more traditional style cider and is medium to full bodied with a unique must flavoured dry finish. At 4.5% a 500ml bottle will provide you with 1.9 standard drinks.

This one will pair well with roasted white meats and barbecued seafood.

The Food Mentalist purchased a 500ml bottle of Duche De Longueville Apple Cider at Camperdown Cellars for $7.99

What are you up to today?