Archive for March 2016

Celebrity Chef Restaurants at Sea

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

When you think about food on cruise ships, you might imagine standard buffet fare with the occasional fine-dining restaurant thrown in. But did you know that most Australian cruise lines also have restaurants from world-famous celebrity chefs?

That’s right – taking a cruise holiday doesn’t mean foregoing amazing first-class food! In fact, it can be the perfect way to experience celebrity chef dining. From Jamie Oliver to our very own Curtis Stone, there’s a whole host of amazing celeb chef offerings on Australian cruise ships.

If you’re having a hard time choosing which voyage to take, perhaps talk to some experts at a cruise specialist like CruiseAgency – they’ll know just which foodie cruise is best for you. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the who’s who of cruise celebrity chefs.

Jamie Oliver

Everybody knows Jamie, but have you had the chance to eat at his world-famous restaurant, Jamie’s Italian? If not, a Royal Caribbean cruise could be the next holiday for you. RC’s newest ship, Ovation of the Seas, sails into Sydney in December this year – and it features the British foodie’s take on rustic, hearty Italian fare. Bellissimo.

Curtis Stone

Australian celeb chef Curtis Stone has recently partnered with Princess Cruises to offer a unique dining experience on-board. SHARE by Curtis Stone is a brand-new restaurant specially designed to bring friends and family together for a memorable meal. Share plates are its particular focus, served family-style at long, communal tables to encourage engagement and conversation between diners. SHARE is available on RubyEmerald and Sun Princess ships.

Luke Mangan

Leading Aussie chef and restauranteur, Luke Mangan, lent his magic touch to P&O Cruises in the form of the exclusive Salt Grill. Found on all five of P&O’s Australian ships, Salt offers a high-seas dining experience with all the deliciousness of Mangan’s land-based Salt grills. Think fresh seafood, fancy high teas, and signature dishes like Luke’s famous liquorice parfait with lime syrup.

Guy Fieri

With a Food Network TV series and six restaurants in California, Guy Fieri is the definition of celebrity chef. You can get a taste of his signature American BBQ food at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse and Guy’s Burger Joint, both found on Carnival Australia cruise ships. Smoked meats and Southern sides are the name of the game at Pig & Anchor, while juicy burgers and hand-cut fries steal the show at the Burger Joint.

Are your foodie senses tingling and your mouth watering yet? Keep a cruise in mind for your next getaway – it might turn out to be a holiday dining experience you’ll never forget.

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Mocha Cholate Chip Hot Cross Buns

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter!

My best friend said the other day that she was really excited because it was almost time to make sticky date pudding. We were a little confused, and she explained that sticky date pudding is a winter dessert. I had never thought that it was, and always order it whenever it's on the menu because it's my favorite dessert.

But it's interesting how some things are considered seasonal, when you can really make it anytime you want. 


For me, it's gingerbread, pavlova, this special vegetarian dish that we only eat at Chinese New Year (actually, there are a bunch of dishes that we only have at Chinese New Year), and hot cross buns.

Did you know that you can get mocha hot cross buns at Baker's Delight? I had no idea until a girl at work told me last year. I was very disbelieving as I had never seen them before and thought maybe it was a Melbourne thing (she was from Melbourne and moved to Sydney) - but then, on her lunch break she went to buy me one (okay maybe she bought a six pack and maybe we ate them all) and came back to work, heated it up in the microwave for 15 seconds and put Nutella on it (?!?!) and I have never spent so much time during the rest of the year craving mocha hot cross buns.


I now realize that I could have been making these all year round. So I'll definitely be doing that from now on. They are a little time consuming in that you have to let the dough rise, but apart from that they come together quite easily, and are so fluffy and delicious.

Mocha Hot Cross Buns
Makes 24 small buns
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee 
  • 3 tsp active yeast
  • 4 + 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pink salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 tbsp coffee powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1 tsp milk 
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 tbsp water 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat half the milk and the coffee, sugar and oil until sugar is dissolved - it should not be boiling. Turn off the heat and then add the remaining milk and stir to combine and cool for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and stir to combine before adding 4 cups of flour. Mix well and then cover with a tea towel and set aside for 1.5 hours. 
  3. Mix together the remaining flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and stir until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar, coffee, and spices, mixing well.
  5. On a flour dusted surface, remove the dough and press down so it is slightly flattened.
  6. Sprinkle the sugar mixture all over and a third of the chocolate chips, then fold the dough in half and flatten again. Continue until all the sugar and chocolate chips are used up, and then flatten the dough into a symmetrical, circular shape.
  7. Cut the dough into even squares. I made tall, thin hot cross buns so mine were small squares, but feel free to make your buns as large or small as you like. Quickly roll each square into a ball and place on a greased baking tray with the seam side down. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise for about an hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 180C.
  9. Prepare the glaze by beating the egg white and milk, and brush over the risen buns.
  10. Prepare the cross mixture by whisking the flour, cinnamon and water together. Start by adding 1 tbsp of water to the flour mixture at a time, to make sure your crosses are the right consistency. It should not be too runny, but thin enough to pipe. 
  11. Pipe the crosses onto the buns.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the buns are golden brown, and then let sit in the oven with the door open for 15 minutes.
  13. Eat the hot cross buns warm, or with butter or Nutella.* Enjoy! 
* in the future I am going to incorporate Nutella into my hot cross buns.

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Sweet Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu

Friday, 18 March 2016

Making any kind of pasta from scratch is always daunting, because of all the equipment and ingredients and kneading and time and effort involved. You have to have the correct 00 pasta flour and lots of eggs and lots of kneading room and hands are sticky and you need a hanging surface area. I love it, but as you all know, I'm lazy.

Enter this sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi. Which comes together with a fork, in one (big) bowl, and requires minimal sticky hands. Minimal! 

We just had leftover baked sweet potato from dinner, which is what I used for this. If you don't have sweet potatoes handy, not all is lost. To stick with the one bowl-ness, though, simply peel and roughly chop up two sweet potatoes, and microwave with 2 tablespoons of water in a large bowl in 5 minute bursts until fork tender. Let cool, and then add in all the other ingredients. Alternatively, you can boil them like a normal, non-lazy human. Your call.

The ragu is even simpler: I used lamb, chilli and rosemary sausages from the deli, squeezed out of the casing. All flavour and seasoning included. Simmered with some garlic, bay leaves, more rosemary and tomato paste, and that's it!

Sweet Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu
Serves 4

For the Gnocchi

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed, and cooled to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ricotta, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain flour, plus 1/2 cup for extra/dusting
  • pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped up very finely (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mash together the potatoes and egg with a fork. Slowly sift 1/4 cup flour into the bowl, using a fork or spatula to fold the mixture over and over on itself. Add in 1/4 cup of ricotta and continue folding the mixture over. Add in the pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary, if using.  Repeat with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and ricotta, making sure everything is fully incorporated. It should be light and fluffy and not sticky. If the mixture is too wet, keep adding in tablespoonfuls of flour until it comes together, away from the sides of the bowl. Gather the dough together and shape a soft, pillow ball. 
  2. Dust a clean bench, or a large chopping board with flour. and turn the dough pillow out onto it. Cut the pillow into equal quarters, and then roll each quarter into logs. Leave to rest for a few minutes.
  3. Cut each log into one inch segments, dusting with more flour if it is too sticky. When all the dough has been used up, use a fork dusted in flour to press lines into the gnocchi.
  4. To cook, add the gnocchi into a large pot of salted, boiling water. Don't overcrowd the pan, or the gnocchi may stick together. Drain and serve. I put the drained gnocchi into a large non stick pan just to give them some crunch - completely optional, but it gives it an added texture.
For the Ragu
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 6 lamb sausages (or sausages of your choice, I used lamb, chilli and rosemary)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (alternatively, 1 tin of diced tomatoes, and omit the tomato paste)
  • 250g tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup red wine

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the garlic and onions, stirfrying until fragrant. Cut one end off from a sausage, and squeeze out the filling into the frying pan. Keep stirring. The sausage meat can be in chunks or broken up into tiny bits like mince, whichever you prefer. Repeat with remaining sausages.
  2. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, rosemary, and bay leaves, stirring to combine. Deglaze with the wine, and let simmer for about 15 minutes on a very low heat.
  3. Serve with gnocchi, top with parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.

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