Bills – Woollahra

Lucky me! I had in my hands a voucher to eat at bills. Bill Grangers third Sydney cafe in the upmarket suburb of Woollahra. It was for quite a bit so my brother, sister and brother-in-law became lucky too. You can’t book a table at bills on the weekends so we just had to take our chances on the Saturday lunch rush. They looked really busy when I arrived but they soon found me a table while I waited for my siblings to arrive.

Coffee at bills is good. He has a custom made blend just for his restaurants from Single Origin Coffee. My brother has updated me on the Sydney coffee scene and he seems to think Single Origin is on top. oh yeah, and that’s my little sister in the pic.

Wagu beef burger with zucchini pickles and herbed fries. The burgers are served well cooked, which didn’t impress my brother who likes his meat not far off mooing. I like the salad on the side so that you can choose what you do or don’t like in your burger. The tomato sauce was freshly made too, no heinz bottles here.

I ordered the grilled halloumi open sandwich with cucumber, parsley, mint and tapenade bread. The freshest herbs I’ve ever had in a salad. Love halloumi, love tapenade, it was a good choice.

Prawn, chilli  linguini with rocket and lemon. Looks very homely doesn’t it. I think that’s the thing about Bills, it’s a cafe that serves good food but it’s the kind of stuff you could quite easily make at home with little sweat.

Bills at Woollahra does have a lovely outdoor courtyard with huge umbrellas, so rain or shine, it is a pleasure to sit in. I guess it’s the kind of place you could meet with friends and you’d be pretty certain that there would be something on the menu to please everyone.

Famous ricotta hotcakes with banana, honeycomb butter and maple syrup. There is definitely a reason why these are famous. The aroma of freshly cooked vanilla pancakes with pockets of warm ricotta are comforting. Now these are worth making a stop for. A weekend breakfast when you don’t feel like cooking…..absolutely worth the trip. And just so you know, this is a smaller dessert size portion.

I have had Bills brown sugar pavlova before, in London. I went to the dinner Bill held at Hix Selfridges sometime ago but never got around to writing it up. The pavlova was divine and my favourite dish of the night, so I had no hesitation but to order it this time.

My sister ordered the same. As you can see she got quite a few more raspberries than I did. Sadly it didn’t taste anything like I remembered, in fact it didn’t enjoy it at all. I thought the blueberries tasted a bit sour.

At the end of our meal when our waitress asked how everything was I told her about my sad pavlova. Without hesitation or even a thought of prompting she took both off our bill. Impressed, that’s all I can say. Lovely staff who work to ensure customer satisfaction will always leave me with a good impression. Bill, you should be proud.

Bill’s Basics – Coq au Vin

So Bill Granger has hit London!  Actually he, and his beautiful family, have been here for a while. The London food scene is at such an exciting time it has managed to entice him away from sunny Sydney. Bill has been spending his time in London getting a feel for the city, and looking for the right place to open an outpost of the famous Australian ‘Bills’. He has certainly not been idle though, publishing his 8th book while he has been here.Once again Bill doesn’t disappoint, divided into Baking, Breakfast, Soup, Salad etc, he makes it easy to find what you need.  I have used many of Bill’s recipes in the past and they have all worked. All of them.  I’m sure this book will continue to do the same. There is a great mix of recipes, in a clean line, beautifully photographed book.

I thought I would try out the Bill’s take on Coq au Vin.  It was so so simple and the aroma coming from the oven was enough to convince me I was in for a good lunch.

Bill’s Coq au Vin


Ingredients:

1.5kg chicken, jointed

150g diced bacon or lardons

10 french shallots, peeled

a few thyme sprigs

a rosemary sprig

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

3 tablespoons olive oil

250mls white wine

a small knob of butter

350g mixed mushrooms (such as oyster and chestnut), sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed with the back of a knife

a small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Method:

Preheat oven to 220°C/ gas mark 7.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a large roasting tin and scatter the bacon, shallots, thyme, rosemary and chilli flakes. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and roast for 20 mins.

Add the wine to the tin and roast for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven.

Heat the butter and remaining olive oil in frying pan and cook the mushrooms and garlic over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

Tip into the tin and scatter over the parsley.

Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

Bill is not a trained chef, just a guy who loves food. I think this is one of the things that makes his recipes work. He understands the demands of a busy life. His recipes look, and are, so simple yet they yield great taste with minimal effort. Fresh, simple flavours.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before London is home to its first ‘Bills’.  I will be first in line.

Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for providing my copy of Bill’s Basics.


Quick Breakfast Loaf

I have barely opened my eyes and I’m thinking of breakfast! So it’s quite hard for me to leave the house without food in my stomach, hence why I don’t do many brunches.

This may be titled Quick Breakfast Loaf but I would never imagine doing this on a weekday morning. I often have homemade granola in summer, porridge in winter with the occasional bite of toast….but sometimes you need a change!

 

Yes two bowls, but no beating, or getting out the KitchenAid, required. This is a very forgiving recipe which I have adapted from Bill Granger.

QUICK BREAKFAST LOAF

50g rolled oats

300ml milk

240g wholemeal self-raising flour

1 tspn baking powder

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

75g soft dark brown sugar

20-40g desiccated coconut

1 tspn cinnamon

3 tbspn honey

1 egg, lightly beaten

2-3 tbspn chopped almonds, plus extra for the top.

To Make:

1. put the oats in a bowl, with the milk, and leave for 30 minutes

2. preheat the oven too 180*C . Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

3. Add the mashed bananas to the milk, along with the honey

4. sift baking powder and flour into a large bowl, add the sugar, coconut and cinnamon. Mix together.

5. add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well, add the egg and 2-3 tblsp of the  almonds.

6. pour into tin (the mix will be quite wet) scatter the remaining almonds on top, and bake for 30-45mins (depending on your oven)

When the top is brown and the skewer comes out clean, it is ready.

Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes before removing and leaving on a rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

 

Natural yoghurt and summer berries.

 

Toasted with ricotta and honey, summer berries.

 

This loaf would be great for morning tea with your coffee as well.

Feel free to play with the ingredients. You could change the bananas and coconut for any dried fruit in your cupboard, just go for it!