Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Coo, lumme!

Coo is a little Japanese restaurant on East Row, up the London Circuit end. It's run by the same people as Iori, and they seem to have maintained their tradition of hiring sweet, friendly but vaguely confused Japanese students as staff. They also share a website - here is Coo's section.

The routine here at lunchtime is that you rock up to the front counter, order and pay. The menu is posted all over the wall, and there's a lot more to choose than is shown on their website's lunch menu. You can have your lunch to take away, or eat in with no price difference. If you choose to eat in, you then go through the curtain, clutching a card with your table number, and also any bits of your lunch that have come out of the cold storage at the front. Behind the curtain there's a lot of small tables, a licensed bar with sake and Japanese beer and some odd fruity slushy mocktails. There's also more menu items on the wall, and a TV playing bizarre Japanese shows - while we were there it was Tokyo shock boys, pretty autumn travelogues, and sumo wrestling.

The sushi and sashimi plate ($8.50) is the normal variety you'd get from many a takeaway place. Tuna, salmon, some white fish, a couple of cucumber rolls, a cooked prawn, a piece of California roll. It was all good, and to my surprise a small cup of light green tea and a styrofoam cup of white miso soup turned up to accompany it. My friend had a white pork noodle soup - there are many to choose from, with ramen, udon or soba and a bewildering variety of stocks and accompaniments. To add to the difficulty of choice, you can have combos - a half serve of soup and something else like a tonkatsu, tempura, or sushi selection. Large bento boxes, whether eat in or take away, run at about $12.

The food is very good, and the lunchtime service very quick. We will definitely be back for more. I'm pleased about this, as I love Japanese food. Last year, when they had recently opened, we had a bad evening with ridiculously slow service. We tried to grab a quick bite of sushi before a show, but nothing arrived for 45 minutes! I can now hope that this was just teething pains - this lunch experience bodes very well.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Happy Easter!

No, seriously, WTF are you thinking, Woollies? Hot cross buns for sale already? I'm barely over Xmas, and even though I didn't do the big dinner thing, we still have leftovers to get through. And seriously, EPIC is currently full of Summernats, not folkies. Your timing is just way off.

My main Xmas food discovery this year has been the Delicious recipe for fruit mince scrolls. Valli Little titles it the "Christmas Morning Crown". I made, well, not exactly it, but a variation of it for Xmas breakfast a couple of weeks ago. And then I liked it so much I did it again to host an arvo tea for some friends. And then again just because I got into a YEAST FRENZY!!!! In just one day I made the scrolls, no-knead bread, and some pizza bases. And then I ran out of yeast, or who knows what else might have happened.

I'm back at work now, so a frenzy like that is unlikely to recur for a bit. But the cool thing about the scrolls is that you can make them the day before you bake them. A little easy prep on Saturday, and then fresh baked scrolls on Sunday morning, oh my yes! The dough is a rich one and quite tender, since it's not really kneaded. It's also not a sweet dough, so you could even try a savoury filling. Ham, cheese, pineapple & jalapeno pizza scrolls, perhaps? Probably not with the icing, in that case.

Recipe: Iced Fruit Mince Scrolls

225g bread flour
7g sachet yeast (1 teaspoon granules)
2 teaspoons sugar
a small pinch of salt
40g butter
1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 cup fruit mince
2 tsp grand marnier
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup mixed glace fruit (chopped to half cherry size)
3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
45g softened butter.

1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
1 - 2 tablespoons liquid (lemon juice, grand marnier, rosewater etc)

* Measure out the flour and add yeast, sugar and salt.
* Melt the butter, and mix in the warm milk, stirring well.
* Add the egg to the warm milk, and beat well.
* Make a well in the flour, and mix in the milk mixture, stirring flour in from the sides gradually to prevent lumps.
* Bring together in a rough soft ball, and cover with plastic wrap.
* Let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Or a not quite so warm place, for an hour and a half - until about doubled in size.

* While it's rising, prepare your chosen filling. For the fruit mince one, simply mix all ingredients together well, mashing the butter up with the fruit.

* Punch down, knead for half a minute, and turn out onto a floured surface.
* Roll or stretch it out to the size of a small oven tray.
* Spread filling out, leaving about 2cm space at the long edges.
* Roll up from the long edge so you have a filled sausage of dough.
* Grease and flour an oven tray, or line with silicone and flour lightly.
* Cut the sausage into 8-10 pieces, and arrange these in a ring on the tray. Keep cut side up, and let the sides just touch.
* Cover with a dampened teatowel or strong kitchen paper, and leave for another hour in the warm spot.
* Refrigerate overnight, if you want - bring back to room temperature before baking.
* Bake at 180C for 20 minutes, until golden.
* Cool for five to ten minutes before drizzling some icing over the top in swirls or zigzags.

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, and add liquid by teaspoons, stirring well, until it is just liquid enough to drizzle.

Other filling options:
* 1/2 cup of your own fruit mix (currants, raisins and mixed peel), pre-soaked in tea or Grand Marnier, with 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar and 45g softened butter.

* Valli Little's original - 50g soft brown sugar and 85g softened butter, plus 1/3 cup sultanas, 1/3 cup mixed peel, 1/4 cup glace cherries, 2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts.

* Use your imagination. Jam, other dried fruits, chopped nuts, stewed apple or rhubarb, cinnamon sugar, spices etc.

The icing is also totally generic. Use a couple of drops of vanilla essence, plus water. Or Grand Marnier, lemon juice, lime juice, rosewater, or whatever you fancy. Spices can be added, too - I made one with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon mixed in with the icing sugar.