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Monday, May 29, 2017

Free bread making class - French and Italian Artisan Breads at Sydney TAFE

Bread making class at Sydney TAFE

So you think croissants are from France? Think again. It's one of the first misconceptions our teacher, Laurie Donnelly, clears up at the start of our bread making class. Croissants originated in Austria, not France. And French fries? They're from Belgium. And another surprise? Sydney TAFE holds fee-free government-subsidised classes. Today's Artisan bread making class is one of them.

Laurie Donnelly with dough at the Italian and French Artisan Bread Making Class at Sydney TAFE
Our teacher for the day, Laurie Donnelly portioning dough

There are twelve of us today, assembled on a Saturday morning at the Ultimo campus. Laurie talks us though the meaning of artisan bread, a skill of making bread by hand. "In the old days," he says in a thick English accent, "all bread was artisan. We didn't have machines making them."

Making bread dough in the commercial mixer
Making bread dough in the commercial mixer

Today's class, focussing on Italian and French artisan breads, condenses a typical six week course into just under six hours. That means we don't have time to make individual doughs, instead using two that have already been pre-proofed and making one as a group in class.

One of the biggest bread making tips from Laurie is the importance of water temperature. Too cold and it will impede or kill the yeast. The optimal water temperature is 13C. He also says the best bread flour comes from Canada, prized because of its high protein (about 12-14%).

Laurie demonstrating how to knock down the dough
Laurie demonstrating how to knock down the dough 

Over the course of the day we will proof and shape seven different breads before baking them in commercial ovens.

Knocking down the dough during the Italian and French Artisan Bread Making Class at Sydney TAFE
Knocking down dough

It's a hands-on class with students working in pairs at stainless steel workbenches.

Scoring bread dough into pagnotta
Scoring the dough for pagnotta, an Italian village loaf

As we progress through the breads, Laurie demonstrates how we need to knock down, fold, shape and score each bread.

Tabatiere bread ready for baking
Tabatiere bread ready for the oven

The breads are transferred into the ovens using a pizza oven peel. The ferocity of the ovens, including the steam function and steam release valves, create major envy.

Laurie has another tip for home bakers: when your oven meets the require baking temperature, it should sit there for at least 30 minutes undisturbed to stabilise the temperature. That means when you open the oven to add your items for baking, the temperature is less likely to drop significantly, ensuring your bread will rise spectacularly.

Making cuts into dough to make artisan bread
Making cuts into dough to make a zigzag loaf

We gently stretch dough into ciabatta, the Italian word for slipper that makes so much more sense when you're faced with the elongated dough shape. We use a commercial bread shaper that magically spits out rolled baguettes.

Pagnotta dough ready to bake
Pagnotta dough ready for the oven

Scoring the dough is more stressful than it looks, requiring surgical precision and emergency room speed, trying to make cuts that are clean, even and at exactly the right angle to allow puff without it collapsing.

Golden baked pagnotta bread
Golden baked pagnotta bread

But it works! Our breads emerge from the oven looking lofty, tanned and smelling incredible.

Baked tabatiere French artisan bread
Baked tabatiere

Bread dough rolled out into pizza bases
Pizza dough rolled out

Some of our dough is rolled out into pizzas for lunch.

Assembling our pizzas
Assembling our pizzas with salami, mushroom, cheese and mozzarella

Pizzas ready for lunch during our bread making class
Pizzas ready for lunch

Freshly baked pizzas are just what we need after a long day of baking.

Aeration inside the ciabatta
Fluffy holes inside the ciabatta

The biggest hit of the day is the ciabatta. The most important thing about ciabatta is the air bubbles inside, creating a light and airy fluffiness. Eating this fresh from the oven, with its soft interior and slightly crusty edges, is pure bliss.

By the end of the day, each student could take home up to 12 loaves of baked bread. Anything unwanted is donated to charity.

I attended this course after noticing a Facebook share from a friend and I'm so glad I did. It definitely gives you a greater appreciation for bread and the work involved every loaf. I also ate several slices of bread while writing this post. I had to.

Baked Italian and French artisan breads

Fully subsidised classes at Sydney TAFE are available for Australian citizens and residents. You can view a list of free courses online as well as follow the Sydney TAFE Hospitality Facebook page for notices on upcoming courses.

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/29/2017 02:01:00 am


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Merchants of Ultimo, Broadway Shopping Centre

Sweet potato fries at Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre

It's like a food court, but with table service. The Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre is like a mini food court, complete with salad bar, pizzeria, rotisserie, cafe and patisserie. What most passersby don't realise is that eat in diners don't have to line up at each stall to place their order. Roving waitstaff offer complete table service, offering a clipboard menu of all offerings and a single bill at the end.

Seating at Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Seating inside the Merchants of Ultimo

Seating fills up quickly during peak hour. It's a cleverly designed space with plenty of timber beams, hanging greenery and tempting visuals, like legs of lamb slowly spinning on the rotisserie and pastry chefs icing bespoke cakes at the counter.

Salad sation at The Gardens in the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Salad station at The Gardens

The Gardens has to have one of the prettiest displays of salad vegetables around, much more enticing than the usual stainless steel sandwich bar set-up.

Salad ingredients at The Gardens in the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Salad ingredients

This station isn't all vegetarian. They also churn out wagyu cheese burgers, buttermilk chicken burgers and salads mixed with woodfired chicken, rotisserie lamb and miso glazed salmon.

Valoriani Forni wood fired oven at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Valoriani Forni wood fired oven

And on a cold day, you'll relish the heat from the Valoriani Forni wood fired oven, tucked away in the corner.

Rotisserie lamb salad at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Rotisserie lamb salad $17

We tried a number of dishes over a series of visits. The rotisserie lamb salad was a winner with tender shredded lamb piled high with salad greens, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, roasted corn kernels, giant golden raisins and squeaky slices of grilled haloumi. The coriander and yoghurt dressing helped everything come together.

Roast pork with woodfire corn and house slaw from Henry's Block at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Roast pork with woodfire corn and house slaw from Henry's Block $16

The roast pork doesn't arrive with as much crackling as we would've liked, but the Henry's Box concept is a cute idea, allowing you to pick your protein and two sides. The woodfire corn is sweet and juicy, drenched in lemon butter and covered in shaved parmesan. The house slaw of shredded celeriac, kohlrabi and fennel is refreshingly crisp.

Sweet potato fries at Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Sweet potato fries $5

And then there are the sweet potato fries. In a city plagued with soggy imposters, these are every bit as noisily crunchy as the ones in your wildest dreams. You'll be fighting over the last one.

Roast corn, woodfired corn and rotisserie lamb salad at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Digging into lunch

PIzza station at Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Making pizzas at Pizza Mario

If there's one stall that shines, though, it's Pizza Mario, run by the same folks behind Da Mario.

Potato pizza and margherita pizza by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Potato pizza and margherita pizza ready for the oven

In the open kitchen you can watch them prepping the pizza dough, layering on the ingredients and then transferring them into the woodfired oven using a peel.

Pizza Mario cooking pizzas in the woodfired oven at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Sliding pizzas into the oven

Diavola pizza by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Diavola pizza $16

There are a dozen pizzas to choose from, including a ham, mushroom and ricotta calzone and a nutella calzone for dessert. The diavola pizza packs some devilish heat with spicy salami and chilli.

Buffalo margherita pizza by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Buffalo margherita pizza $16

Traditionalists will go with the classic margherita for $13 or upgrade to the buffalo margherita for $16, strewn with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.

Underneath the woodfired pizza base by Pizza Mario at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Pizza upskirt shot

But the magic is all in the pizza crust, super thin and almost floppy in the middle with a puffy blistered crust that has just the right amount of woodfired char.

Buttermilk chicken burger at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Buttermilk chicken burger $18

The buttermilk chicken burger is a satisfying number too, a juicy fillet shielded by a crunch of knobby batter. The milk bun is soft but still still sturdy enough to hold the chicken, salad, sriracha and pudding of molten smoked mozzarella cheese.

Seating in front of Nero's Brew at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Seating in front of Nero's Brew coffee station

Coffees are served via Nero's Brew using Single Origin beans.

Desserts by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Desserts from Leave it to B

And it's hard to pass up the sweet treats from Leave it to B by ex-Rockpool pastry apprentice Brendan Dewar who went on to open Brendan Dewar Patisserie in St Ives.

Berry tart by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Berry tart $8.50

The L-shaped glass cabinet runs from gateaux to croissants. 

Cheesecake slice by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Cheesecake slice

Citrus pillow lemon meringue tart by Leave It To B at the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre
Citrus pillow $8.50

We've had the millefeuille and a tropical fruit dome takeaway, but the only dessert we've had eat-in was the citrus pillow, a fancy lemon meringue tart with shards of isomalt toffee. The lemon curd is bracingly sharp, just what you want against the sweet blowtorched rosettes of meringue.

Entrance to the Merchants of Ultimo at Broadway Shopping Centre


Merchants of Ultimo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Merchants of Ultimo
Level one, Broadway Shopping Centre
1 Bay Street, Broadway, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9346 8775

Opening hours
Daily 6am-9pm



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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/21/2017 05:43:00 pm


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Ms G's, Potts Point

Korean army stew jaffle at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney

The humble Aussie jaffle. Two bits of bread sandwiched together to create a pocket for molten cheesy goodness. And then Dan Hong comes along and stuffs it with Korean Army stew. It's as though he's on a one man crusade to bring budae jigae to the masses.

But you know what? It works. This Korean American hybrid, a stew (jigae) invented from army (budae) rations during the Korean war, combines noodles with kimchi, gochujang pepper paste, Spam and American cheese. It's spicy, salty, carby cheesy goodness - just the kind of thing you want in a toasted pocket.

At Ms G's this jaffle will set you back $18 but surely that's quality kransky and mortadella buried in there amongst the ramyum noodles and mozzarella. And it's the kind of tongue-in-cheek quirkiness you can expect at Ms G's, a mash-up of all things Asian in the middle of Potts Point.

Burrata with strange flavour sesame sauce at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Burrata with strange flavour sesame sauce, chilli oil, spinach and peanuts $22

Take cheese for instance. Burrata is the last thing you'd expect to find in a Chinese restaurant but here it's freaking out every Nonna with the addition of crushed Sichuan peppercorns, sesame seeds, rice vinegar and peanuts. Guaiwei strange flavour sauce is straight outta Sichuan province, more commonly used with cold chicken, but oddly complementary against the cold creamy lusciousness of mozzarella filled with cream. It's a ballsy move (ahaha) and it works.

Ms G's falafel with green tomato salsa at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Ms G's falafel, green tomato salsa and black garlic aioli $4.50 each

In contrast, Ms G's take on falafel is much less exciting, not that there's anything amiss with the chickpea patties, but its topping of green tomato salsa and black garlic aioli seems to veer off the modern Asian path, even with the inclusion of black garlic.

Vietnamese steak tartare with prawn crackers at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Vietnamese steak tartare with prawn crackers $21

While some dishes change on the menu, others will always remain. And with good reason. The Vietnamese steak tartare is too good to ever remove, a hybrid between steak tartare and the Vietnamese bo tai chanh rare beef salad. Those thick crunchy prawn crackers are the perfect carriage for seasoned chopped beef, a glossy egg yolk and a mountain of deep fried shallots.

Mini banh mi with chicken katsua and spicy fish katsu at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Mini banh mi with chicken katsu and spicy fish katsu $7.50 each

Mini banh mi are about as far removed from your Cabramatta favourite as you can get, but that includes the juiciness of both the chicken and fish fillets, each coated in panko crumbs and deep fried to an expert crunch.

Cheeseburger spring rolls at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Cheeseburger spring rolls $6 each

Cheeseburger spring rolls are always a winner. It's that sharpness of dill pickles against the tomato sauce, beef mince and cheese that make these so ridiculously addictive.

Fried sweetcorn with dashi brown butter at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Fried sweetcorn, dashi brown butter, parsley and furikake $18

Fried sweetcorn involves some serious knifework with each corn cob split into four quarters straight through the core. Butter and cheese on corn is a no-brainer but the addition of dashi and furikake, the seaweed seasoning usually used for sushi rice, lifts the umami intensity to a plate-licking eleven.

Masala fried rice at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Masala fried rice $24
with spiced chicken, curry leaf, crispy skin and garlic chilli toppping

The fried rice tends to change styles regularly. When we visited it was masala, a big hit of curry flavours with prized smithereens of chicken crackling and a bucketload of fried garlic.

Crispy fried chicken wings with tom yum mayonnaise at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Crispy fried chicken wings with tom yum mayonnaise $17

We've almost finished our second round of cocktails by the time the crispy fried chicken wings arrive. These are so crunchy I could weep, except I'm too busy dunking these brittle skinned mid-wings (and yes, they're ALL mid-wings) into a tub of tom yum mayonnaise.

Salt and vinegar eggplant tempura at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Salt and vinegar eggplant tempura $17

And because you can never have too much fried, we finish with salt and vinegar eggplant tempura. These have only a light spray of vinegar on them, but the batter is insanely good. You'd hear the shatter of someone munching on these from the other side of the (noisy) dining room. The eggplant is perfectly squidgy in the middle too.

Hongo Bongo strawberry granita with yoghurt mousse, mochi, watermelon and Calpis sorbet at Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney
Hongo Bongo $16
Strawberry granita, yoghurt mousse, mochi, watermelon and Calpis sorbet

There are four desserts to choose from, including the calorific overload that is Stoner's Delight Part 3 - doughnut ice cream, crispy bacon, peanut and pretzel brittle, Mars bar brownie, potato chips, deep fried Nutella and more - but we go for the lightest one, the Hongo Bongo.

There are strong similarities between this dessert and the previous Namira's Dream, named after Dan's daughter. The Hongo Bongo swaps out fresh strawberries, lychee tapioca and mascarpone mousse for fresh watermelon, mochi and yoghurt mousse. The strawberry granita and the Calpis sorbet features in both.

It's just the palate cleanser you want to finish on, and the mix of textures and temperatures creates different combinations with every spoonful.

Why's it called Hong Bongo? I suspect it has something to do with this...

A post shared by Andrew Levins (@levdawg) on

If you missed the full episode of Mitch Orr's Chef's Night Out on Munchies you can catch it here.

Ms G's in Potts Point Sydney


Ms. G's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ms G's
155 Victoria Street, Potts Point, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday 5pm-12 midnight
Friday 12pm-3pm and 6pm-11pm
Saturday 12pm-11pm
Sunday 1pm-9pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/09/2017 01:51:00 am



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