Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alimento Cafe, Parramatta

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There's always that strange feeling when I walk into an unfamiliar restaurant for the first time, and don't know exactly what to do. I've experienced it in bistros, when there's a sign which tells you to wait there, but not a waiter in sight. Or in cafes, when you're not sure whether you're supposed to order at the table or at the counter.

We're at Alimento Cafe (after much indecision as to where to eat), and although there are plenty of nice empty tables outside, we're standing awkwardly at the entrance. Do we just sit down and hope that someone notices us? Do we go up to the staff at the counter? Or do we wait until a waitress notices us and takes us to a seat?

We finally capture the attention of the girl at the counter, who (after establishing that we are not voucher holders) tells us to just sit down anywhere and she'll get someone to bring us the menus.


I don't often eat at cafes, and would probably never have noticed this one, but I'd read about Alimento online after searching for Italian food in Parramatta for a dinner with friends.....which never ended up happening. The prices on the menu are quite reasonable, especially at lunch, with their $10 specials- which we're here for. The lunch specials come with the condition that you order a drink from their extensive list of drinks (which took me forever to choose from). I ordered a mocha, which was nice, though I would have liked it to be a little more chocolatey- but I'm not a coffee drinker (this would probably be about my 5th mocha I've ever had) so don't take my word for it ;)


Lemon Pepper Perch Fillet $10

I order the lemon pepper perch fillet, a delicious piece of fish, grilled until tender and crisp at the edges and covered with a layer of lemon sauce. The sauce is surprisingly pleasant and tasty, with the light taste of lemon not being too overpowering and also serves as a nice dressing for the salad. The chips are definitely the highlight of the dish for me, with their shattering crunch and ability to stay crunchy even when soaked in the lemon sauce. My only complaint is that there isn't enough of them!!



Chicken and Prawn Risotto $10

My friend's order of chicken and prawn risotto, was quite popular amongst their lunch customers- and hard to miss with the strange lettuce leave on the side. The tomato based risotto is delicious and creamy- I certainly wouldn't mind ordering it next time! :)

Alimento Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 21, 2011

Strawberry Ice Cream

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The first time I made ice cream was about 5 years ago, when I browsed upon the "shakey shakey ice cream' recipe on the abckids website which looked really fun to make. The idea was basically this-  mix a couple of ingredients (basically just milk and sugar), put them into a ziplock bag, and then put that bag into a bigger ziplock bag filled with ice and shake until it becomes ice cream. Fun right?

Unfortunately, the 'ice cream' tasted like sweetened frozen milk more than ice cream and did not freeze completely, so it ended up in the bin and that was the last time I attempted to make my own ice cream again! We actually have an ice cream maker at home (and we've had it for quite a long time!) but my dad is usually the one who makes ice cream. Not that we have homemade ice cream often- the last time he ever made any ice cream was at least 5 years ago!!
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With the warmer weather approaching, and the many tempting ice cream recipes I've seen on blogs, I thought it was about time I got the ice cream machine back out for a churn. I used a simple custard based recipe from a cookbook I've had on my shelf  for a while, added some strawberries to the mixture (it's our favourite homemade ice cream flavour so far!). It was actually surprisingly fun to watch the mixture slowly solidifying as it touched the edges of the freezer bowl and turning into ice cream. And almost impossible to resist sticking my finger in!!

Before long, I had a tub of delicious and creamy ice cream! The texture was softer and creamier than what I remember of my dad's non-custard based ice cream. I especially loved the fresh strawberry taste which was nothing like the fake strawberry flavoured ice creams you get at the supermarket (I don't like strawberry 'flavoured' things). And needless to say, it was quite addictive- just ask my sister, she couldn't get enough of it! Now I know what I'll be up to this summer ;)


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Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe
Recipe adapted from Delicious Ice Cream

300ml milk
1 vanilla pod
4 large egg yolks
115g caster sugar
250g fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
300ml double cream

1. Pour the milk into a large heavy-based saucepan. Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into the milk, then add the whole vanilla pod too. bring almost to boil, then remove from heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
2. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk together until pale and mixture leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, then slowly add the milk into the egg mixture, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Strain the mixture into the rinsed-out saucepan or a double boiler and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle. Remove the custard from the heat and leave to cool for at least 1 hour, stirring from time to time to prevent a skin from forming.
3. Meanwhile, puree the strawberries with a blender or by pushing them through a sieve. Stir into the custard mixture with the lemon juice.
4. Whip the cream until it holds its shape.
5. If using an ice cream machine, fold the whipped cream into the cold custard, then churn the mixture in the machine following the manufacturers instructions. Alternatively, freeze the custard in a freezer container, uncovered, for 1-2 hours, or until it begins to set around the edges. Turn the custard into a bowl and stir with a fork or beat in a food processor until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Return to the freezer and freeze for a further 2-3 hours, or until firm or required. Cover the container with a lid for storing.

* I also added a little bit of alcohol (rum) into the mixture with the strawberries because I read somewhere that alcohol makes ice cream smoother. 
This post is linked to Foodie Friday

I've submitted this recipe to the Power of pink challenge :)

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