The Social Kitchen at Queen Victoria Market

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

thesocialkitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

The Social Kitchen

I know what I want for Christmas.

No, that doesn’t mean that I think Christmas is all about presents. It just means I KNOW it’s a tiny, little bit about that. I so enjoy buying a present for someone that totally and completely excites them. And who am I to stand there, arms crossed, looking all grinch-y and say that getting a present for myself is silly? This is Australia’s silly season after all.

Now that I’ve completely justified it to myself – I’d like to ask for another cooking class at The Social Kitchen, please. And thank you.

This past Saturday was my first.

Parking at Queen Victoria Market is easy at 9:30am and finding your way to the all-black, pop up cooking school is even easier – head towards the corner of Peel and Victoria Street and you’ll spot it. Make your way through the sliding glass doors and you’ll be greeted with a smile, a name tag and a request for a coffee order.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the room is beautiful. Straight out of the set of a cooking show, except better because there are no cameras, lights, or audiences crowding the room. It’s just you, your new friends (“I swear I’m not looking at you boobs, I’m just trying to read your name tag”), the fresh food from Queen Victoria Market, the kick-ass Fisher and Paykel appliances and your chef.

Half the fun of the class is the chef. The Social Kitchen offers a full range of classes and a full range of chefs to choose from. We’re not talking any old chefs, we’re talking the heads of the most delicious restaurants in Melbourne. Our chef was Keith Jackson. He is a hands on, do it to taste, do-what-you-want-as-long-as-it-tastes-good type of chef and I absolutely loved it. Keith danced from cooking station to cooking station making sure we were heading in the right direction with our recipes. He didn’t even get angry when I burnt the meringues courtesy of the white wine I couldn’t stop consuming. It was about 10:30am.

What I loved most is that we didn’t just have fun trying to follow recipes, we learned valuable things. For example:

  • The correct way to chop onions (I went home and tried it that very night and did not cry one tear. Jack was very impressed.)
  • Simply chopping a garlic will not do a thing, you must smash it to pieces and then do what you will with it.
  • MSG is not all bad, it’s the fake MSG that gets you because, okay, there is MSG is parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce, and anchovies.
  • We cannot taste salt past a certain level in the air.
  • Scones are actually the perfect meal.
  • I desperately need a new kitchen with all Fisher and Paykel appliances.

I’m sorry I’m bombarding you with information, but I just had SO MUCH FUN that I needed to share. In the end we made strawberry bruschettas, pan seared Duck in shiraz with garlic spinach and raspberries, and a deconstructed smashed pavlova. YUM!

I wish there was some sort of monthly membership to The Social Kitchen. It would be such a better gift to give myself than only one class. Oh well, I just really hope I like it.

Pan seared Duck, Shiraz and Raspberries recipe after the jump!

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Dutch Pancakes

If You’re Not Dutch, You’re Not Much

Dutch Pancakes

A friend once kept telling me, if you’re not Dutch you’re not much. Luckily, I will be some what Dutch come December. Or I guess I’ll be Australian. No, wait. I’ll probably still just be a Venezuelan American who’s married to a Dutch Australian. I’m not sure how it all works, but the thing I do know is that I have come down with a Dutch bug.

You remember how during the world cup I wanted Holland to win (only after the US was out of course)? I’ve been riding my bike as transport every chance I get (very dutch). I’ve been dreaming up living in Amsterdam one day. AND I’ve been going nuts every time I see a poffertjes truck.

Poffertjes are good because they’ve mastered the art of simplicity, don’t you think? This meal dates back to the 1700’s. It was said that a poor, hard working farmer was experimenting with recipe development as a hobby but the only ingredients he had to work with were buckwheat flour, water and yeast. Now a days, it’s a much more developed meal and modern necessities, such as milk, eggs, butter, and syrup, have been added.

I haven’t had a chance to make them for myself as I’m missing the all important poffertjespan, but I’m crossing my fingers I get one as a wedding present. My Little Expat Kitchen’s recipe is the recipe I have my eye on. It looks to be more complicated than it should be but, then again, I’m taking my entry into Dutch-ism very seriously.

For now though I’ll just keep stalking the Tram Stop at the Queen Victoria Market.

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Banana Bread and White Chocolate Chip Muffins

banana bread muffins

What do you do when you mix 6am World Cup games and ripe bananas? Banana bread and white chocolate muffins! Yup, it’s true. That’s exactly what you get.

We have been pretty into this World Cup this year, mostly because Jack and I now go for each others teams. I brought USA, Italy and any Latin American country into the relationship. Jack brought Australia and the Netherlands.

That means that not only have we lost all our free time before work, but now there is absolutely no time to even eat breakfast. Catastrophe! By exactly 10:47am I’m rummaging through the kitchen at work trying to find anything that will help kick a headache and bring joy back into my life.

That exact situation happened last week and all I could find was 3 ripe bananas that I was sure no one was going to eat. Even I couldn’t bring myself to eat them – cue the strong stench and colorless skin – but what I did bring myself to do was plan to make banana bread muffins so that the situation would never happen again.

I cannot (but have to) wait for the Netherlands to play Argentina tomorrow. I’ll have my coffee in one hand, my pre-made breakfast in the other and a cute Dutch boy by my side. Man, oh man. How I miss the World Cup already and it hasn’t even finished.

Banana Bread and White Chocolate Muffins
Recipe adapted from Sarah’s Banana Bread Muffins 

1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 egg
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 of white chocolate chips
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 of salt

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease muffin tin with a little butter.

Mix sugar, oil, and egg until creamy and light yellow in a bowl. Add bananas and white chocolate chips. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until completely smooth. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. And then eat your heart out.

Best Cookie Recipe Yet

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The dessert I make most in my home is cookies. Plain, old, “boring” chocolate chip cookies. I like making them from scratch, having them warm from the oven and straight onto the plate that will sit next to jack and I on the couch to console me during our next episode of Fargo.

There is nothing more exciting than when the self timer goes off and the cookies are left on top of the stove to cool. The smell takes over the room, milk (or wine) is poured and full tummies somehow start to rattle.

In all my time, I’ve never been able to make the perfect cookie. Something is always off with every different recipe I’ve tried: Not enough chocolate chips, too much butter/grease, not enough crunch, way too sweet, too much crunch, and the list goes on. And while I can’t say that the extra large, chewy cookies I made this past weekend were perfect, I can assure you that they were perfect for us!

Extra Large Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 grams unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 a bar of Lindt Dark Chocolate bar chopped up (the chocolate bits).

1. Preheat the oven to(165°C). Line tray with baking paper.

2. Melt butter over heat. Set aside.

3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

4. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

5. Stir in your chopped up Lindt Chocolate bits (we used half a bar, you can use as much chocolate chips as you like) using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time for extra large cookies. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

6. Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, check your cookies before they’re done but put timer at 20 minutes. Once done, let them cool for about 4 minutes and devour.