Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mini Flourless Orange & Cardamom Cakes


I’m back! As you can imagine the last couple of weeks have been crazy, what with Christmas parties & getting ready to move & I’ve barely started the packing or shopping for that matter. Today I had a couple of the girls over for what is probably my last bit of entertaining in this house before the move in 2 weeks time. It will be sad to leave this home of the last 4 years which has been perfect but it is a new adventure we will be embarking on which is very exciting too. Lunch was grazing food, about all that Chloe lets me get up to these days & everyone else was bringing along children & a plate too. We had marinated olives, a lovely spicy red capsicum & chickpea dip on crostini, ham, prosciutto, marinated octopus, cheeses, breads, dolmades & a beautiful salad. To finish off a fresh summer fruit platter & these gorgeous mini cakes which were a cinch to make. To save time I cooked the oranges last night & today it was just a matter of throwing everything into the food processor, baking & icing, yum. Note – the icing is very generous, I could easily have used half this quantity & still had a good coating on each cake. The recipe was in Delicious, a few issues back.

Mini Flourless Orange & Cardamom Cakes

Makes 18

2 oranges
250g caster sugar
6 eggs
2 cups (250g) almond meal
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn ground cardamom
1 cup flaked almonds, toasted

Icing
500g icing sugar, sifted
125g cream cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
25g unsalted butter, softened

Place the oranges in a saucepan, cover with cold water & bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low & simmer for 1 hour or until soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove oranges & cool. Discard the liquid.

Preheat oven to 170c fan forced. Line the 18 holes (1/3 cup) of muffins pans with paper cases. Quarter the oranges, then remove any core & seeds. Place in a food processor & process until smooth. Add the sugar & process to combine. Add the eggs & process to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the almond meal, baking powder & cardamom. Divide the mixture evenly between the patty cases & bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove & cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the icing, process all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread the top of each cake with some icing & sprinkle with the nuts.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sensational Chocolate Chip Cookies


After a week in Noosa where the closest I came to cooking was throwing together a sandwich or two or mashing up fruit & yoghurt for Chloe to eat, I was itching to get back into the kitchen & cook, more precisely to bake. So the day after we arrived home I was into it, baking these irresistible, melt in the mouth, cant stop eating them choc chip cookies from Bill Granger’s Sydney Food. Some were for my parents who were popping in for a visit after week long Chloe withdrawals & some were supposed to be for my Mother’s Group picnic which I didn’t make it to thanks to someone wanting their nap right in the middle of it. So unfortunately now I have a whole stack of cookies that I will have to gobble up myself, with a little help from Michael of course.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

125g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups tightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 ½ cups chocolate bits

Preheat oven to 180c. Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light & creamy. Add vanilla & egg & stir to combine. Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt until just combined. Fold through chocolate chips.

Place spoonfuls of cookie mixture on a greased & lined baking tray, allowing room for spreading. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until they turn pale gold.

Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool further. Makes about 25

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chunky Chorizo, Chicken & Vegetable soup


I made this soup on Sunday night, our rainy day here in Melbourne if you recall. It was fabulous & more of a stew really it was so thick & full of goodness. Michael took one look at the chicken, chorizo & bacon & asked me why I was ruining it with veggies, mmmm men hey. Myself I loved the vegetables & pasta as well as the good proportion of meat, this soup had everything. The recipe was published in Gourmet Traveller as a readers request from Belgravia at Union Bank’s, I’m guessing it’s a Sydney restaurant as I’ve never heard of it.

Chunky Chorizo, Chicken & Vegetable soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200g smoked pork belly or bacon, cut into 1cm dice
3 onions, cut into 1cm dice
1 carrot, cut into 1 cm dice
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1 cm dice
1 chorizo, cut into 1 cm dice
4 free range chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm dice
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
750ml chicken stock
250g (1 cup) tempesta or other small pasta
150g (1 cup) green peas
2 zucchini, cut into 1 cm dice
1 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
50g baby spinach
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or basil leaves
Finely grated parmesan to serve

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium-high heat, add bacon or pork belly & cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until starting to colour. Add onion, carrot & celery & cook for 10 minutes, then add chorizo, chicken and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally. For 5 minutes or until chicken becomes opaque. Add tomato & stock & season to taste with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium, then cover & simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta, peas, zucchini & beans & stir to combine, increase heat to medium-high and cook, covered for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove from heat, stir through spinach, parsley & remaining olive oil. Ladle into bowls & serve with parmesan.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ricotta, Orange & Currant Fritters


I know its been a while since my last post, I have been in quarantine with Chloe as she was exposed to the chicken pox and the incubation period is up to 21 days so have had to keep her away from most people, ie friends with babies or who come into contact with babies which is surprisingly most people we know, until we find out if she has it or not. So far so good and only a few days to go. Anyway this has meant no entertaining = no baking or cooking anything exciting & so therefore nothing to blog about. Yesterday however I decided to whip up a batch of pancakes which turned out absolutely delicious so I must share with you. The recipe came from the latest Donna Hay Spring issue. The flavours of orange & currant stood out beautifully encased in the soft & light ricotta batter & all that was really needed was the slightest squeeze of lemon juice & they were perfect. A great way to start a rainy Sunday, in fact the rainiest day we have had in about 2 years if I heard right.

Ricotta, Orange & Currant Fritters

1 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1/3 (73 1/3g) cup caster sugar
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
½ cup (75g) currants
2 eggs, separated
unsalted butter for greasing
icing sugar for dusting
lemon edges to serve

Place, the flour, baking powder & sugar in a large bowl & mix to combine. Add the ricotta, milk, orange rind, currants & egg yolks & mix to combine. Place the egg whites in a bowl & whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold through the ricotta & flour mixture. Heat a lightly greased frying pan over medium heat. Cook 2 tablespoons of the mixture in batches for 2-3 minutes each side or until puffed & golden. Dust with icing sugar & serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chocolate Guinness Cake


Yesterday was a double celebration. Firstly it was my brother Rob’s birthday & secondly Michael & I bought a new house in Brunswick so I was very, very excited as you can imagine. To celebrate the birthday I decided on Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake from Feast as it sounded very manly & to celebrate the house purchase I had just the tiniest bit of bubbly! The cake was excellent, firstly it was huge, rising quite high, it was also lovely & moist. You couldn’t taste the Guinness itself though I suspect it was what gave this cake its lovely velvety smooth taste along with the whole pack of butter. The cream cheese icing topped it off perfectly. As for the bubbles, I am dreaming of the day when I can celebrate something with a whole bottle (or 2!). 60 day settlement & then I can start on my dream garden though it will be the middle of summer so most of the planting might have to wait a season or so. When the gardens in then it will be lots of cooking of fresh herbs, veggies & fruit in my dream kitchen, which I also have to build/renovate along with half of the house. It will take a while but sure it will all be worth it & in the meantime better start packing

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Cake:
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons bicarb of soda

Icing:
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double of whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 180c. Butter & line a 23cm springform tin.

Pour the Guinness in a large wide saucepan, add the butter in slices & heat until the butter is melted, whisk in the cocoa & sugar. Beat the sour cream with eggs & vanilla & then pour into the mixture & then whisk in the flour & bicarb.

Pour the batter into the tin & bake for 45 mins to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack before turning out. When the cake is cold make the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth then sieve over the icing sugar & then beat together. Or do it in a processor, putting the icing sugar in first, blitzing to remove lumps then add cheese. Add the cream & beat again until the mix is a spreadable consistency. Ice the cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Paper Baked Spiced Pastries


Here is a really simple recipe for a sweet treat that takes no time to knock together & tastes beautiful. It’s a bit like a scone dough with dates & lots of spice. The recipe was from the Donna Hay Entertaining issue. Doesn't it look pretty?

Paper Baked Spiced Pastries

½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon mixed spice
1 ¾ cups (262.5g) plain flour, sifted
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder, sifted
½ cp (160g) pitted & chopped dates
½ cup single or pouring cream
½ cup milk
30g unsalted butter, melted for brushing

Preheat oven to 180c. Combine the sugar, cinnamon & spice and set aside. Place the flour, baking powder & dates in a bowl & stir to combine. Make a well in the centre, gradually add the cream and milk, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth & elastic. Roll out to 30cm x 40 cm. Brush with butter and sprinkle with the sugar mix, reserving 1 tablespoon. Roll the dough to enclose and slice into 8 pieces. Place the dough into 8 x ½ cup capacity muffin tins lined with non stick baking paper or muffin cases. Brush with butter & sprinkle with reserved sugar. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked & lightly golden. Makes 8.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rumi, Brunswick East

Well I finally made it to Rumi in Brunswick East last Friday night & I have to tell you it was well worth the wait & having to book in about 3 weeks in advance. So with Chloe safely in the arms of my parents out we went. The restaurant itself is quite small & intimate, dimly lit & with plain & simple furniture, nothing fancy here. The tables were quite small but they still managed to fit all of our food on so no problems there. The menu & wine list were also kept quite small & simple with my only problem being that of all the white wines on offer all of the wines by the glass were either chardonnay or chardonnay blends of some sort, I would have hoped for a bit more variety. The wine I chose in the end was a blend from Lebanon – I figured I may as well try the wine from the area as well as the food, the blend was of sav blanc, semillon & chardonnay, not the most typical, but I enjoyed it & if dinner wasn’t quite so efficient would have loved more than the 2 glasses I managed to squeeze in. Michael had a beer, there were about 4 types on offer including Effes from Turkey in keeping with the theme.

To eat we started with some delicious Persian meatballs in a tomato & saffron sauce, the serve was 4 so not too overwhelming. We also had some calamari crumbed in burgul & served with an almondy type paste which was almost like a hommus, these were nice & tender & very good too, in fact I could do with a plate right now as I sit & type away hungrily just before dinner tonight. These came with some complimentary pita bread too. For the mains we shared the lamb casserole with caramelized onion on top, served with a pilaf which was studded with chickpeas & a baby beetroot & yoghurt salad. The lamb was divine, it really was so lovely & tender that it melted in your mouth. All of the serves were perfect too, they looked quite small but it was more than enough food & it was an effort to fit in dessert but of course I insisted we share one. We had the pastry special which was filo with honey, pistachios & caramelized bananas, it too was fantastic & tasted like a cross between baklava & a banana fritter which may sound weird but worked pretty well indeed. The service was very friendly & efficient, my only problem was that with all of the noise I found it difficult to hear the waitress’s explanations of various food items. Also we were over & out in about 2 hours which I’m sure if you were in a bigger group would be drawn out much longer. To sum it up, yum, yum, yes please, can’t wait for more!

Rumi
132 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
9388 8255
Dinner Tues – Sat
Breakfast & lunch - Sat




Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chocolate, Coffee & Hazelnut Cake


This week I had a visit to Megan’s in the diary so I got to break out the Kitchen Aid again to bake a cake, I think I was starting to have baking withdrawal DT’s. I chose this cake which was more of a torte really, I just love a rich dark chocolatey cake & the hazelnuts make a nice change from almond meal or flour for that matter. Megan had a nice bowl of strawberries & blueberries which worked really well served alongside with the cream too.

Chocolate, Coffee & Hazelnut Cake

200g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
150g unsalted butter, chopped
2/3 (150g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon whisky
1 tablespoon strong black coffee
5 eggs, separated
¾ cup (100g) ground hazelnuts
cocoa, to dust
thick cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 180c. Grease & line the base of a 20cm springform pan.

Place chocolate, butter, sugar, whisky and coffee in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water on low heat. Stir for 4-5 minutes, until chocolate melts & mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until smooth. Fold through ground hazelnuts. Using an electric beater, beat eggwhites until firm peaks form. Stir 2 tablespoons of eggwhites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes, until firm. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with cocoa & serve with thick cream,

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Chicken & Chorizo Paella


Who doesn’t love a good Paella? With the warmer weather starting to show itself & memories of Spain I decided that last weekend would be a good time to make a big batch of paella with some inspiration & a recipe from the latest Gourmet Traveller Spanish Edition. I find that it’s a pretty simple dish to prepare, much easier than the time consuming risotto that requires constant stirring & ladling in of stock anyway. This recipe was a good one, feeding eight so I had to split it into 2 frypans as there was no way it would fit into my tiny paella dish. This of course means that I have some stashed away in the freezer for those nights I really don’t have time to cook, love cooking big like this which I find gets harder as summer comes along as most of the food I want to eat is simple & fresh, whereas food that is suitable to freeze, ie stews, heavy pasta dishes, etc is more stodgy winter food. So Paella fits both the freezer & summery bill – though it is still quite heavy the fact that it is Spanish means it definitely gets the thumbs up for warm nights. The overall result was delicious & cant wait to tuck in to the rest.

Paella

2 litres chicken stock
2 tspn saffron threads, toasted (no toasting from me)
2 tbsp olive oil
1.4kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or you could use thigh fillets as I did)
2 chorizo, cut into 2cm pieces
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
6 vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded & finely chopped (or you could just chop & skip the peeling & seeding as I did)
400g Calasparra rice (Arborio also works)
2 tspn Spanish smoked sweet paprika
1 tbsn rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
300g podded green peas
300g baby green beans, trimmed

Combine chicken stock & saffron in a large saucepan & bring to the boil, then simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until saffron has infused & colored the stock.

Heat olive oil in a 38cm caldero (paella pan) or frying pan, add chicken & chorizo & cook, turning occasionally, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until golden, then remove from pan.

Add onion, garlic and capsicum & cook, stirring continuously, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden. Add tomato, cook for 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates, return chicken & chorizo to pan & pour over stock. Bring to the boil & cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through.

Add rice, paprika & rosemary, then season to taste with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, for 5 minutes, then scatter with peas & beans & cook for another 15 minutes or until rice is tender & stock is absorbed. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fruit Loaf


Now that I have sworn off baking & the making of all things sweet temporarily I managed to sneak in this lovely fruit loaf this weekend telling myself it was bread & not a cake so allowed. I don’t make bread very often but every now & again I get a hankering for it, especially after Megan dropped in for lunch the other day & brought along a fabulous loaf that her husband had baked that morning, very impressive & not something Michael would ever do or most husbands/boyfriends I know of for that matter! The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver Return of the Naked Chef & was delicious, its quite a heavy loaf as I find most fruit breads are, but slathered with a little butter it is perfect for breakfast or a snack & I can imagine in a couple of days will go well in the toaster too, it makes a massive loaf which will last for ages.

Fruit Loaf
30g fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
30g sugar or honey
625ml tepid water
1kg strong bread flour
30g salt
extra flour for dusting
Fruit Mix
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 clove, ground
200g dried apricots
100g dried dates
200g dried raisins

Firstly you need to get your fruit mix ready. Put all ingredients in a food processor & chop very finely.

Now to make the bread
Stage 1. Dissolve the yeast & sugar in half the tepid water.
Stage 2. On a large clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour & salt. With one hand make a well in the centre & pour in all of the dissolved yeast & sugar mixture, with your fingers make circular movements, from the centre working outwards, slowly bringing in the dry ingredients until all yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water & the fruit mix into the centre & gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. If needed add a little extra water & also note that you may not need to use all of the water as the dried fruit retains water too, you will have to watch the dough carefully & be the judge. For mine I used the exact quantities.
Stage 3. Knead for 5 minutes & if any sticks to your hands just rub together with a little extra flour.
Stage 4. Flour both hands now & lightly flour the top of the dough. Make into a roundish shape & place on a baking tray. Score the dough with a knife. Leave the dough covered in glad wrap to prove in a warm, moist, draught free place, it needs to double in size, about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200c.
Stage 5. Take the proved dough & bash the air out, then shape into a round & place on a floured baking tray to double in size again, about 40 minutes.
Stage 6. Bake in a preheated oven for 50 mins to 1 hour. Loaf will be cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mushrooms on Toast


Lately Michael & I have been going for nice long walks each weekend & going out for brekky with Miss Chloe which is something we all seem to like & behave for. This weekend however we went out for a quick dinner while giving the grandparents a trial run at babysitting. It didn’t go quite to plan with Chloe deciding she would not drink one drop of her expressed milk from grandma so I fear we will be needing lots more practice before we are able to leave her for more than a couple of hours, which we need to do in December for a wedding and various Christmas functions. Anyway the point of this is that as we went out for dinner we skipped our breakfast ritual & instead I cooked up a delicious breakfast at home. Of course I turned straight to Bill Granger for inspiration as I looovvee his breakfast recipes. This one was from Bills food & was no exception, I used some Hope Farm Rye & Caraway Sourdough that I picked up from the inaugural Carlton Gardens Primary Farmers Market which was delicious. The caraway seeds gave the bread a flavour that I have missed for years, my grandparents used to buy a particular rye bread all the time & have it out for sandwiches whenever we would visit & this is exactly what it tasted like. Thanks Haalo for your market listings which I regularly check & discovered this new market in. The mushrooms were simple & tasty, put the whole lot together with some ricotta & a beautiful dish is created once again.

Mushrooms on Toast

40g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra, for brushing
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g mixed small mushrooms
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 slices sourdough bread
1garlic clove, extra, for rubbing on bread
250g (1 cup) ricotta cheese

Put half the butter with the oil & chopped garlic in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Add the mushrooms, 60ml water & sat & pepper to taste. Cover & cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked & the liquid is syrupy. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, parsley, tarragon and lemon zest. Taste for seasoning & adjust if necessary. Whisk the remaining cold butter through to thicken the mushroom sauce.

Towards the end of the cooking time, brush the bread on both sides with the extra oil. Grill until golden on both sides, then rub both sides with a cur garlic clove & place on serving plates. Top with ricotta & then mushrooms & serve immediately. Serves 4.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chocolate Nut Meringues with Cream and Berries


I am a big fan of Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Pavlova so when I saw this recipe for something similar in Marie Claire Zest, yet with the added bonus of nuts, I just had to give it a try. Well they were just as good & tasted deliciously like ferrero rochers. As you can see I topped mine with strawberries as that’s about all that’s available now, I cant wait to have them with some raspberries & other berries too. They are ideal for the nicer weather now & the fact that you can make them in advance & just put them together at the last minute makes them perfect for entertaining.

Chocolate Nut Meringues with Cream and Berries

3 egg whites
200g caster sugar
2 tablespoons dark cocoa
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
50g flaked almonds
150ml cream, whipped
500g mixed berries

Preheat oven to 150c. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then slowly add the sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is white & glossy. Fold in the cocoa and ground hazelnuts, then spoon the meringue into 6 large dollops on the tray. Using the back of a spoon, create a dip in the top of each meringue. Sprinkle with almonds and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off heat, but leave the meringues to cool in the oven wi the door ajar. Serve topped with whipped cream & berries.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spiced Indian Kofta


With spring in the air, I like all other Melbournian bloggers out there it seems, am very excited about the new food that spring brings with it. Now I know you are all thinking lovely fresh broad beans or asparagus or some such healthy food but I am talking the start of barbecuing again, don’t you just love it when you are walking home around dinner time & the smell of burning meat is wafting past, makes you just crave that first bbq instantly. Anyway I didn’t actually bother with breaking out the Barbie for just Michael & I but I did try out a new recipe for when I do break it out very soon. This comes from Ainsley Harriott’s Ultimate barbecue bible which is jam packed full of interesting ways with meat, fish, veg & all things barbecue. Normally to me a hamburger (or variation of) is a hamburger & they don’t do that much for me, these tasty little morsels however are sensational, bursting with flavour & even a little bit of punch, they are so tasty that they will be on the menu for the next bbq for sure.

Spiced Indian Kofta

450g lean minced beef
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5cm fresh root ginger, peeled & finely grated
2 spring onions, trimmed & finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garam masala
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 green chilli, seeded and very finely chopped
3 tablespoons Greek natural yoghurt
a little oil for brushing
lemon wedges & extra yoghurt to serve

Mix all your ingredients apart from the brushing oil & lemon wedges together well with your hands. Then divide into 8, if skewering, shape each piece into a long sausage around each skewer. Or you can be lazy & just shape into patties to fry up on the Barbie.

Brush with a little oil & barbecue over medium hot heat for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges & extra yoghurt. We had ours on naan with some salad which was lovely.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chocolate Filled Oat Crunch


This week I was off to Megan’s for lunch with the girls & my contribution was these very yummy copies of the good old Kingston bickie. I love the original & of course as always, home made (to me at least) is always better & these are no exception. The biscuits are really very sweet which is ok by me & it was very difficult but I didn’t leave any at home (though I of course did sample a couple first & let Michael in on some too) & the leftovers remained at Megan’s, my willpower is getting pretty good lately, wonder how long it will last?

Chocolate Filled Oat Crunch

180g butter
120g demerara sugar
90g golden syrup
150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g desiccated coconut
60g rolled oats
150g milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 160c. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar & golden syrup until pale & fluffy, then add flour, bicarb of soda. Coconut & rolled oats and beat on slow speed until just combined. Spoon teaspoons of the mixture onto baking paper lined oven trays. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. Meanwhile, melt chocolate, cool to a thick consistency & spread over half of the biscuits & sandwich with the remainder. Biscuits will keep in an airtight container for 5 days.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Caffe Latte Cream


This is the elegant after dinner cake that I made for my Dad for Fathers Day last weekend. It is another Nigella recipe from her Chocolate Cake Hall of fame in Feast. Calling it an after dinner cake is just my thing as the intense coffee flavour seems to suit the late night piece of cake with coffee or even a nice Muscat more than say an afternoon nibble but I’m sure it would be delicious at any time of day. My cake came out really well, for some reason after I poured over the liqueur & let it cool, the top went crisp & didn’t sink at all. I could have eaten a lot of this but for once showed restraint & only had one piece then left the rest a t my mums so temptation was not in my path. I have a holiday to Noosa coming up in 2 months & have been very slack about getting rid of the baby belly, in Winter it hardly seems worth the effort. So now, I’m not going so far as to diet but I am baking less (trying anyway) & only making for visits to other people so I at least only end up eating a bit (and bowl licking of course which is my downfall) but I just cant bring myself to cut out baking altogether. Hopefully my daily walks in the gorgeous spring weather will help & I wont have to intensify my modified eating plan just yet.

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Caffe Latte Cream

Cake
150g dark chocolate, chopped
150g butter
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g plain flour
5 teaspoons instant espresso powder
4 tablespoons Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur

Caffe Latte Cream
75g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
375ml double cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Take anything you need out of the fridge to bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180c. Butter & line a 23cm springform tin. Melt the chocolate & butter & set aside to cool slightly. Beat the eggs, sugar & vanilla together until thick, pale & moussey. They should have at least doubled in volume, even tripled. Gently fold in the flour & espresso powder & finally add the chocolate & butter mixture, folding gently again. Pour into the tin & bake for 35-40 minutes until the top of the cake is firm. Immediately pour over the liqueur & then cool completely on a rack in the tin before releasing from the tin.

For the cream, melt the white chocolate & let it cool. Fold in the cream & espresso powder, whipping together to thicken a little. Dust the cake with cocoa & serve with the cream alongside.




Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chocolate Malteser Cake


Here is a very Kingly looking cake with its lovely malty crown which I thought was fitting for Fathers Day celebrations. The malty flavours running through the cake & icing, topped with the maltesers really gave this cake a unique flavour which seemed to go down very well with all, it was lovely & not too sweet or heavy. The recipe comes from Nigella's feast. For Michaels first Fathers Day, Chloe showered him with gifts & we had a lovely day out at his sisters in Laurimer, which is a lovely estate out in what to me feels like the country, around Whittlesea way. They have a huge house on a humungous block that is really very nice though I can’t imagine living that far away from it all in such isolation from my beloved Brunswick with its unique mix of people, parks, cafes & shops that provide endless hours of walking & entertainment for Chloe & I, especially now that the weather is getting to be just how I like it, sunny & happy! So for now I will stick to my little house that I love so I can be where the action is & dream of the day I can afford a big house in Brunswick with a big backyard so I can have my veggie patch, fruit trees & grass for the kids to play on, who knows I may just get my dream one of these days if I can be patient a little while longer (note patience is not my strong point!).

Chocolate Malteser Cake

Cake
150g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
175ml milk
15g butter
2 tablespoons horlicks
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Icing
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
45g horlicks
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 x 37g packets maltesers

Take anything you need from the fridge out & allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 170c. Butter & line two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking paper.

Whisk together the sugars & eggs while you weigh out the other ingredients. Heat the butter, milk & horlicks in a saucepan until the butter melts, and it is hot but not boiling. When the sugars & eggs are light & frothy, beat in the horlicks mixture and then fold in the flour, cocoa, baking powder & bicarb of soda. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins & bake for 25 minutes, the cakes will spring back when touched when ready. Let them cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes & then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

Put the icing sugar, cocoa & horlicks in a food processor & blitz to remove any lumps. Add the butter & blitz again. Stop, scrape down the sides & start again, pouring the boiling water down the funnel until you have a smooth buttercream. Sandwich the cakes together with half the mix & put the rest on top then finish off with a ring of maltesers around the edge.





Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pecan, Honey & Caramel Slice


My mum was not well this week & had to have a small op so I wanted to cheer her up, so as well as taking her a lovely drought tolerant plant for the garden (instead of flowers which just die) & a box of Ferrero Rochers (Michael bought back 3 mega boxes from NZ which I did not want to consume all by myself) a home baked treat was also in order, she loves a pecan pie so I thought this recipe sounded right up her alley. This is a Belinda Jeffrey recipe from Delicious Magazine and believe me its very good & dead easy to make as well.

Pecan, Honey & Caramel Slice

2 cups plain flour
½ firmly packed cup (100g) brown sugar
180g chilled unsalted butter, chopped

Pecan topping
125g unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed (200g) brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 ½ tablespoons pure (thin) cream
250g pecans, sliced lengthways
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 4cm deep, 21 x 30cm slice pan with baking paper, allowing the paper to extend slightly over the edges of the longer sides. Whiz the flour, sugar & ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor for 15 seconds. Add butter and whiz until mixture resembles damp sand. Tip into pan & pat out evenly over the base. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Towards the end of baking time, make the topping. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over medium heat. Add sugar, honey, cream & ¼ teaspoon salt & stir for 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium low & stir for a further minute. Stir in the pecans & vanilla, then remove from the heat & keep warm.

Remove base from oven & stand for 1-2 minutes, then spread warm pecan mix evenly over the top. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until topping is bubbling & deep golden. Place the pan on a rack & cool completely. Once cool, slice & store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in a cool spot.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Pear & Macadamia Nut Crumble


It may seem that all I am doing is eating sugar & butter laden sweets lately but that is not true, its just that my dinners have not made it to the blog world. For instance this week Michael was in NZ on business for a few days so I ate food from my freezer that I had cooked before (not horrible package meals), or food my mum made for me. I did also make a big batch of my tomato & lentil soup. So here is this weeks sweet fix, this is a great crumble recipe that really stands out, in part due to the spiciness of the pears & secondly the addition of macadamia nuts really make this one a winner. The recipe comes from Surfing the Menu.

Pear & Macadamia Nut Crumble

8 Williams pears, peeled, cored & quartered
100g caster sugar
finely grated zest & juice of 1 orange
1 stick of cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways

Crumble

280g plain flour
125g caster sugar
100g roasted & crushed macadamia nuts
125g butter, softened

Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Place the pears in a medium saucepan with the sugar, zest, juice, cinnamon & vanilla bean. Cook, covered over a moderate heat until the pears are tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick & vanilla pod.

Preheat the oven to 170c & grease an ovenproof dish (30cm x 8cm & 8cm deep). Spoon the pears into the prepared dish.

For the crumble, combine flour & sugar & nuts in a bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers, rub in until evenly distributed. Scatter over the pears & transfer the dish to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with ice cream.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

White Chocolate Cheesecake


Here is a recipe for a fantastic no fuss, no cook cheesecake from my favourite desert man Bill Granger from Bills Food. I know I have been a bit slack in the posting lately but it seems that I can’t quite muster much enthusiasm for blogging lately, I have gone from one extreme to the other. I am still cooking up a storm & eating lots of fantastic food, I'm just keeping it all to myself for now, sorry…

White Chocolate Cheesecake

100g plain sweet biscuits
50g butter, melted
250ml (1 cup) cream
250g cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
125g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
500g white chocolate, melted
Passionfruit pulp

Process the biscuits in a food processor until they look like breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter, process briefly, then tip the mixture into a 20cm (8 inch) springform tin lined with a disc of baking paper. Press firmly into the base of the tin, then place in the fridge until needed.

Using electric beaters, whisk the cream, cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar & chocolate together until smooth. Pour onto the biscuit base & put back in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve drizzled with passionfruit pulp & cut into wedges.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Coconut Muesli


I found another recipe for muesli in Marie Claire Luscious, this one is possibly even nicer than the Bill Granger recipe & uses mostly maple syrup with a bit of vegetable oil instead of a load of butter so has a lot less fat though of course is higher in sugar, so take your pick of poison. I will keep on alternating & changing the fruit in each batch for a bit of variety too, I cant get enough of the home made stuff, much nicer than anything from the shops.

Coconut Muesli

400g (4 cups) rolled oats
125g (1 cup) unsalted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
125g (1 cup) slivered almonds
120g (2 cups) shredded coconut
250ml (3/4 cup) maple syrup
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
40g (1/4 cup) finely sliced dried peaches
35g (1/4 cup) finely sliced dried mango

Preheat the oven to 150c. Put the oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds & coconut in a large bowl & mix well. Heat the maple syrup & oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour the warm mixture over the muesli & stir so that the grains & seeds are all well covered.

Spread the mixture over 2 baking trays & bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and swapping the trays around in the oven halfway through baking. Remove from oven & cool. Transfer to a large bowl, add fruit & toss well. Makes about 1.2kg, enough for about 12 serves. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Orange & Almond Torte


Here is a fabulous cake, another perfect chocolate & orange combination, this time from my ‘Slice of Port Douglas’ cookbook that I picked up holidaying there a few years back.
I managed to hold out over a week before using my fabulous new Kitchen Aid again, I am really trying to only bake sweet things when I’m either off visiting or having people over, any more & my waistline would be in more trouble than it could handle. This cake was well worth the wait, my parents were very impressed & so was I, it was very moist & the chopped & not too finely ground texture of the nuts & oranges was nice, without being dry or crumbly. One note though, the syrup is nice but if you cant be bothered I really don’t think you need it. When I make this one again I will not bother.

Orange & Almond Torte

2 Oranges
300g blanched almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 eggs
200g caster sugar

Chocolate Ganache
200g plaistowe dark cooking chocolate
½ cup cream

Orange Cointreau sauce
2 cups water
1 cup caster sugar
zest of 2 oranges
Cointreau, to taste

Place oranges in a saucepan & cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer for 2 hours. Discard water & set oranges aside to cool. Remove the seeds (if any).

Preheat oven to 160c. Process the almonds & baking powder in a food processor until consistency resembles crushed nuts. Set aside. Process the oranges (skin & all) in food processor until smooth. Beat eggs & sugar in a bowl until light & fluffy. Fold the orange & almond mixture into the egg & sugar mixture. Pour the mixture into a greased & lined 26cm (10 inch) spring form tin. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the Ganache, place chocolate in a food processor & process until chocolate resembles course breadcrumbs. Heat cream in a saucepan over low heat & do not boil. Remove cream from heat & slowly add chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth. Immediately spread over the cooled torte.

To make the sauce, place water, sugar & zest into a saucepan & bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook over a low heat until sauce becomes syrupy. Add Cointreau to taste. Serve with a dollop of cream & some syrup drizzled over the top.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cheats pierogi



You may previously have heard me mention my love of all foods Polish & in particular pierogi, a food I grew up eating thanks to my Grandma. Pierogi are little filled dumplings, everyone has there own version, we had ours with a potato & onion filling. Sadly my Gran is no longer with us & you may find it hard to believe but I am always too lazy to make this myself as I have memories of it being such a mammoth task. My gran would make hundreds so that whoever dropped in not only could eat a few but could also take home a bag for later! To make them involves making the pastry dough which needs to be kneaded for quite a while & then you make little balls (about golf ball sized) which then have to be rolled flat, these are then filled individually by hand. As a kid the most help I usually offered was to take a ball or two & make them into different animal shapes.

So a while back my mum & I had a craving & she being as bad as me at actually getting around to these suggested a quick fix. We used wonton wrappers & those little plasticy wonton press thingies you buy for a couple of bucks from the Asian grocery store. So we made our filling by boiling a load of potatoes in salted water, frying up a few chopped onions in lashings of butter & mashing the whole lot together. We then set up the assembly line. For each pierogi we stuck two wrappers together with water (one is too thin), lay the wrapper flat on the press, in goes a teaspoon of potato, wet the edges with water & press to seal, continue until you have hundreds & all of your wrappers or filling is gone. To cook, bring a pan of water to the boil, drop them in a few at a time & cook until they float or a few minutes each. When cooked, swirl around in some butter until melted & nicely coated & serve with lashings of good sour cream, we prefer Jalna. When you eat them the next day, fry them up in some more butter (yes this is definitely heart attack material) until crisp & golden on both sides & serve with sour cream again. Absolutely delicious & tasted the real deal too, now that I have my ‘cheats’ version, I can see myself making these more often which is very dangerous indeed.

Sweetcorn Fritters with Roast Tomato & Bacon


I have been rather busy the last few weeks & haven’t had a chance to cook up a big brekky for Michael & I for a while so I got out my trusty Bill Granger books who I always turn to when wanting a new idea for breakfast. This recipe comes from Bills Sydney Food. Let me tell you these fritters were sensational, easy to make, they held together beautifully & the flavour was a lovely sweet, soft sensation. I made heaps & the leftovers were just as good cold or heated up in the microwave. I’d say this breakfast was the best I have had in a long time & could stand up to a few of my favourite cafes & a lot cheaper too!

Sweetcorn Fritters with Roast Tomato & Bacon

1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
½ cup diced red capsicum
½ cup sliced spring onions
¼ cup chopped coriander & parsley (combined)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ripe roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

To serve
Rocket
Grilled Bacon

Firstly get your tomatoes roasting. Preheat the oven to 180c. Place tomatoes cut side up on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper & roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Sift flour, baking powder, slat & paprika into a large bowl, stir in sugar & make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, combine eggs & milk. Gradually add the egg mix to the dry ingredients & whisk until you have a smooth lump-free batter.

Add vegetables & herbs & mix to combine. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, then drop in 2 tablespoons of batter per fritter & cook 4 fritters at a time. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden underneath, flip & cook the other side until also golden. Serve with tomatoes, rocket & bacon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Finally my new toy arrives!

After my old cake mixer kicked the bucket a few weeks back I have been umming & aahing over various mixers with the Kitchen Aid being at the back of my mind the whole time. I wasn’t satisfied with any of the other brands in the shops & figured that if you’re paying a few hundred why not add a couple extra & get your dream tool, especially as I can easily justify it by pumping out a couple of cakes a week. So I ended up convincing myself that I had to have the Empire Red beast of mixers but there was no talking Michael into buying it for me even after I produced such a beautiful baby for him earlier this year, my birthday & mothers day came & went & still I was tool-less. Luckily a nice break on my tax return meant that I had the means to make the purchase myself & here it is, everything I dreamed of & more (sorry if I am sounding a bit over the top but it is a Kitchen Aid after all!)

So yesterday was the big day, I had bought it online for a discounted price that none of the other stockists would match so it arrived at my door which was much easier than dragging a 5 month old child through the rain to the shops, not to mention pushing a pram & lugging the box at the same time, would not have been easy. I was visiting the lovely Megan today who also popped out a beauty of a baby a few days ago so of course I had the perfect excuse to bake my first ‘Kitchen Aid’ cake. As it was an earlyish visit I chose this delicious but easy cake of Bill Granger’s from Bill’s Food. Once again he did not let me down & the cake was very yummy & I didn’t even make the custard that he suggested would go well with it. Oh and yes the mixer lived up to it expectations, it purred through the creaming like a dream & left me in no doubt that the right choice had been made.

Pear and Vanilla Cake

80g (3oz) unsalted butter
185g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest from 1 lemon
185ml (3/4 cup) cream
165g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
4 pears (I only used 2)
20g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
60g (1/4 cup) raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 180c (350f/Gas 4). Cream the butter & sugar together in a bowl until light & fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla & lemon zest & beat for another minute. Add the cream & mix until smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder & salt & beat until smooth. Pour into a 24cm (9 inch) non stick springform cake tin & smooth the surface.

Peel & core the pears, cut into 3mm (1/8 inch) slices & arrange on the batter in two concentric circles. Brush the pears with the melted butter & sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean & te pears on top are lightly browned. Remove the side from the cake tin & slide the cake onto a plate. Cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

These cupcakes are luscious & moist & when you hit a cherry spot its beautiful. You could just as easily use any other flavoured jam to completely change the flavour, I think orange (marmalade) would be perfect too as cherry/choc & orange/choc are two of my favourite combinations, plum would be another great flavour to try. I didn’t find any natural coloured cherries so had to go with bright & fantastic red which didn’t pose a problem for me, I love bright colours. The recipe comes form Nigella’s Domestic Goddess.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

125g soft unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g morello cherry jam
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
150g self raising flour

Icing
100g dark chocolate
100ml double cream
112 natural coloured glace cherries

Preheat the oven to 180c & line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases.

Put the butter in a heavy bottomed pan on the heat to melt. When nearly melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat & stir with a wooden spoon until the butter & chocolate are smooth & melted. Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt & eggs. Stir & when all amalgamated, stir in the flour. Pour into muffin papers & bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, break the chocolate for the icing into little pieces & add them to the cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from heat & then whisk until thick & smooth. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing with the back of a spoon & top with a cherry in the middle.

Makes 12

Friday, July 06, 2007

Kugelhopf with Honeyed Muscat pears


This week I made this lovely Kugelhopf which featured in the July ‘French’ issue of Gourmet Traveller. It is a dessert that comes from the Alsace region, hence the German feel to it and apparently the Germans & Austrians all lay claim to the cakes origins too. Not having any Alsatian Muscat on hand (who does??), I used a lovely muscat that I had lying around from a trip to Rutherglen’s Campbells winery. It goes without saying of course that a glass of the stuff alongside the dessert goes very well indeed. I loved the cake which to me was quite unusual & different to any I had made before. You make it very much like a bread & in the end it has the texture of bread yet beautiful & sweet but not overly so, the bits of dark chocolate & muscatels just make it perfect. I also found it really needed the pears & syrup drizzled over the top or else it was a bit dry on it’s own. Note my cake is not very high as I had trouble getting it to rise, not to worry though as the flavour was still up there.

Kugelhopf with Honeyed Muscat pears

1 egg
100ml warm milk
50g dried muscatels or raisins
60ml (1/4 cup) kirsch
250g plain flour
55g white sugar
1 teaspoon dried yeast
75g unsalted butter, softened
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
14 whole blanched almonds

Honeyed Muscat Pears

440g (2 cups) caster sugar
2 tablespoons honey
6 corella pears, halved lengthways
2 cinnamon quills
140ml Alsatian Muscat or similar floral, sweet wine

Lightly whisk egg & milk together in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine muscatels and kirsch to soak & set aside. Combine flour, sugar, yeast & 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor & process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add butter & process for 2 minutes, then add egg mixture & process until well combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface & knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour to stop dough from sticking, if necessary. Transfer to a large bowl & stand in a warm place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size. Knead dough again on a lightly floured surface, adding chocolate, muscatels & kirsch, kneading until combined.

Preheat oven to 180c. Lightly butter & flour a 5 cup capacity, 16cm diameter kugelhopf mould, shaking excess flour from mould, & press almonds into grooves of mould. Roll dough out into a log shape, long enough to fir mould, then join ends to form a circle. Carefully place log into mould & press down. Cover with a tea towel & stand for about 1 hour or until dough has risen to rim of mould. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

To make pears, combine sugar, honey & 2 cups of water in a saucepan & cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low, add pears, cinnamon & 60ml Muscat & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until pears are tender & caramelized. Remove form heat & stir in remaining Muscat.

Serve Kugelhopf with pears & drizzled with syrup.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Warm Pistachio Cupcakes


The latest issue of Delicious featured this recipe of Shannon Bennet of Vue de monde fame. How could I resist trying them out when apparently he sells more than 100 of them a week in his cafĂ©. Especially after last week when I was treated to a most amazing experience of dinner at his famed restaurant, all I can say is wow and you have to check it our for yourself (when your budget allows!) as my humble words could in no way express how fantastic the night was. The cupcakes were beautiful, very moist & quite unusual as you can see from the ingredient list, not your typical cupcake mix. One note though, they are very adult & the 2 children who tried them didn’t think they were that special at all & in fact wouldn’t eat them after the first mouthful. Oh and I think I went a bit overboard on the green food coloring, the effect is supposed to be more subtle than my fluoro green alien slime impersonation.

Warm Pistachio Cupcakes

130g shelled unsalted pistachios rubbed in a tea towel to remove skins, plus 12 shelled pistachios to garnish.
100g unsalted butter, softened
85g caster sugar
75g good quality marzipan (min 50% nuts), chopped
2 eggs
1 tablespoon kirsch
2 drops vanilla extract
30g semolina
250g ready made icing
2-3 drops green food colouring

Preheat oven to 170c. Line a 12 hole, 1/3 cup capacity (80ml) muffin pan with patty cases.
Place 100g of the peeled pistachios on a food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until they are very finely ground (almost a powder). Remove 1 tablespoon ground pistachios & set aside. Transfer the remainder to the bowl of an electric mixer with the butter, sugar, chopped marzipan & a pinch of salt. Beat well until the lumps are removed & you have a smooth paste. Add the eggs one at a time, beating continuously, ensuring the mix doesn’t stick to the side of the bowl & is thoroughly combined. Roughly chop the remaining 30g of pistachios and beat into the mixture. Beat in the kirsch, vanilla & semolina until combined. Divide evenly among patty cases & bake for 25 minutes or until form to the touch. Remove & cool slightly in the tray.Gently warm the icing in a saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until melted & smooth. Stir in the food colouring. Working quickly, spoon icing onto cakes. Place a pistachio on top of the icing & dust with reserved ground pistachios

Friday, June 22, 2007

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal


After my success with granola the other week I was really keen to try to make some more home made breakfast cereals & found this recipe for muesli in Bill Granger’s Sydney Food. I didn’t add the rye flakes as I couldn’t find them anywhere I looked, for the fruit I added apples & apricots & the end result was absolutely delicious, even better than the granola & a lot less fussy with less ingredients. Try some, it’s oh so much nicer than anything you will buy & as good as the ingredients you choose yourself to put into it.

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal

125g unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
500g rolled oats
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
¾ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes
1 cup chopped dried fruit, such as sultanas, apricots or apples (optional)

Preheat oven to 170c. Place butter, honey & vanilla in a small saucepan & cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until honey and butter are combined. Place remaining ingredients, except the fruit, in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly stir in the butter mixture, making sure that each grain is evenly coated. Spread the cereal over 2 large baking trays & bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the grains are crisp & very lightly browned. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the trays.

Remove from oven, cool & then add the fruit & mix well. Can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Makes 1.5kg.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chocolate Crusted Lemon Tart


This weekend I wanted to make something sweet & I had a bit of a chocolate craving, so I flicked through all of my books for the perfect recipe that would not require a mix master (I still haven’t decided what to buy). I ended up with this tart from Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipes, I adore a good lemon tart & have never had one with a chocolate base before & thought it sounded even better than a plain crust, I wasn’t far wrong, I loved it & the two flavours were perfect together, it would be even better with some fresh berries alongside too I think. Yum!

Chocolate Crusted Lemon Tart


Pastry
175g plain flour
25g cocoa
pinch of salt
25g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled & diced
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water

Filling
75g dark chocolate, grated
3 juicy unwaxed lemons
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
150ml double cream
icing sugar to sprinkle

To make the pastry, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt & icing sugar. Rub in the cold butter using a food processor or your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Mix the egg yolk with the water, and add to the mixture to make a dough. You may need to a little more water. Gather the pastry into a ball, wrap it in greaseproof paper (or glad wrap as I did) & chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Roll out the pastry from the centre and away from you, then back to the centre & down towards you, using your weight to push down on it to avoid stretching it. Line a 23cm tart tin with a removable base with the pastry. Prick the pastry base with a fork in several places & chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200c. Line the pastry case with foil & baking beans ad bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil & beans & bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven & reduce the oven temperature to 170c. While the pastry is still hot, scatter the grated chocolate evenly over the base & then leave to cool.

To make the filling, finely grate the zest from the lemons into a mixing bowl. Squeeze and strain the lemon juice & add it to the zest with the sugar. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved, then whisk in the eggs & cream until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the filling into the cooled pastry case & carefully return it to the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just set. Remove from the oven & leave on a wire rack to cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar before serving.



Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sicilian Roasted Fish with lemon, anchovies, capers & rosemary


Last night we had this delicious fish from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days. The recipe called for Brill, turbot or halibut steaks which I’m not sure if you can even get here in Australia, certainly not at my local fish shop anyway so I used some lovely Blue Eye fillets instead. All of the flavours give the fish a beautiful flavour & I found no additional lemon or seasoning was required at all, it was perfect the way it came out of the oven. Also for the fist time ever I actually really enjoyed the anchovies, these being one item I was never that fond of when whole & only coped with when incorporated into sauces, stews, etc, amazing how your taste buds change over time. I served it with a simple baked potato & some salad.

Sicilian Roasted Fish with lemon, anchovies, capers & rosemary

1 handful of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
extra virgin olive oil
4 x 200g brill, turbot, halibut or blue eye tranches/steaks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large unwaxed lemons, finely sliced
1 large handful of salted capers, soaked
8 good anchovy fillers
a splash of white wine or prosecco

Preheat the oven to 200c. Bruise your rosemary in a pestle & mortar to bring out the flavour. Add 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil & scrunch together. Pat half of this flavoured oil round the fish, season well & put into an earthenware dish or roasting pan. Lay 4 or 5 thin slices of lemon over each steak, sprinkle over your capers & drape over the anchovies. Drizzle with remaining flavoured oil & bake for around 15 minutes off the bone or 25 minutes on the bone. Now you could splash the wine in if you like. Remove from the oven & allow to rest, like a steak for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Andy Fairfield Granola


Over the long weekend I thought it would be fun to make my own breakfast cereal. The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Feast & is really simple & the taste is amazing, it’s great with milk for brekky or just by the handful as is whenever a snack is required. It makes about 2.5 litres worth so you end up with heaps & I think it was definitely worth the effort. Mine cooked for 40 minutes in a fan forced oven & was probably just slightly overdone though not too much the worse for it. And by the way I’ve never eaten Granola before though I’m pretty sure its just muesli by another name so I don’t know how this compares to the store bought variety.

Andy Fairfield Granola

450g rolled oats
120g sunflower seeds
120g white sesame seeds
175g apple compote or sauce
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
120g brown rice syrup or rice malt syrup or golden syrup
4 tablespoons runny honey
100g light brown sugar
250g whole natural almonds
1 teaspoon Maldon salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
300g raisins

Mix Everything except the raisins together very well in a large mixing bowl. Spread the mixture evenly on two large baking trays & bake in a 170c oven, turning over halfway through baking & re-distributing the granola evenly during the baking process. This should take anything from about 40 minutes. Electric tends to be faster than gas.

Once baked, allow to cool & mix together with the raisins & store in an airtight container.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Heart shortbread kisses



Well it looks like I have had disaster number 3 thanks to disaster number 2. I decided to make some shortbreads from Bill Granger’s Bill’s Food to take over to Megan’s for a sweet after lunch treat. The recipe stated minimal beating so I thought I could get away with doing it by hand while in the absence of a mix master. Not so, I don’t think the butter really mixed in properly & as a result the biscuits spread & melted into each other while cooking & some were so bad that they bubbled up & just crumbled when touched. So I ended up with about 8 biscuits (minus one perfect one I dropped on the floor) instead of the 15 the recipe states you will make. One thing though, disaster or no they still tasted amazing, that melt in the mouth buttery sweetness was fantastic sandwiched together with the sweet jam. Hopefully that’s it for kitchen disasters for while now, fingers crossed.

Heart shortbread kisses

40g (1/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
250g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g (1/2 cup) cornflour
185g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
a pinch of salt
80g (1/4 cup) raspberry jam
icing sugar for dusting

Beat the sugar & butter together in a bowl until just combined. Add the vanilla extract, sifted flours & salt & mix until a dough forms. Mould into a log 6cm in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Remove the dough from the fridge & cut into 7mm slices, then cut shapes with a 5cm heart biscuit cutter. Reroll the excess dough & repeat the process until all the dough is used up.

Place the hearts on a greased & lined baking tray & bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks & leave to cool completely. Spread half the biscuits with jam, top with remaining biscuits & sprinkle with icing sugar.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Choc Oatmeal Cookies



On the weekend I made yet another batch of cookies & this time disaster struck again, my mix master blew up whilst creaming the butter & sugar, it is just a cheap Ronson that I have had for about 8 years (of which it probably has only been used a lot these last 2 years) & now the question is, what should I replace it with? I would love a Red Kitchen aid but will have to think long & hard before blowing that much cash on a kitchen appliance even though it will definitely be used! Now I’m just waiting for disaster no 3, you know what they say, things come in threes and I don’t suppose last weeks disaster where our drain water started dripping through the light fitting in the ceiling down into my kitchen due to a blocked toilet counts as that I am classifying as a plumbing disaster. Anyway the biscuits were from Bill Granger’s Bills Food & were nice & crunchy, they almost tasted like a butternut snap with choc chips to me which is good as I love butternut snaps. And thankfully they still turned out seeing as how I had to half beat them by hand – those arm muscles from carrying Chloe around are coming in handy lately.

Choc Oatmeal Cookies

150g unsalted butter, softened
230g (1 cup) soft brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g (1 cup) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
235g (2 1/3 cups) rolled oats
175g (1 cup) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180c. Line three large baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter & sugar together in a bowl until fluffy & smooth. Add the eggs & vanilla extract & beat until smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder & salt into the bowl & mix lightly. Add the oats & choc chips & stir to combine.

Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on the baking trays. Flatten the balls with a fork dipped in flour. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Remove from the oven & cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 30.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Spring Vegetable Soup



For some cleansing this week I made yet another soup, this one chock full of fresh veggies & even using my very own vegetable stock, the recipe is from Bill Granger’s Sydney Food. The home made stock does make a big difference, especially as this one is full of extra flavour including such ingredients as garlic, parsnips & spring onions. Now that I’ve been good I can safely make some more cookies!

Spring Vegetable Soup

25g butter
½ cup sliced keels, white part only
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup unpeeled, diced red potato
1/3 cup diced turnip
3 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly shucked corn kernels
1/3 cup diced zucchini
1/3 cup chopped green beans
½ cup ripe, chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup peas
1/3 cup parsley, chopped, to serve

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, celery, potato and turnip 7 cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, salt & pepper & bring to the boil. Lower heat & add remaining ingredients. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until vegetables are just tender. Ladle into bowls & top with chopped parsley. Serves 2.

Vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil
500g onions, chopped
500g carrots, chopped
250g parsnips, chopped
2 celery sticks including leaves, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
4 spring onions, chopped into 6cm lengths
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, parsnip, celery & garlic & stir fry for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and 2 litres of water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer & cook for 1 hour. Allow to cool, then strain. Makes 2 litres. Leftover keeps well in the freezer.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Baked Pears & Dates



Here is another beautiful recipe for baked pears, the spices leave a heavenly aroma wafting through the house & the sour cream is really good with the brandy & sugar mixed in. I even forgot the almonds so I suspect they would be even better with these sprinkled on top.

Baked Pears & Dates

¼ cup (55g) firmly packed brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra
grated rind & juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
2 firm beurre bosc pears, cut into quarters & cored
8 dates, seeded
300g sour cream
1 tablespoon brandy or rum
½ cup (35g) slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 200c. Combine sugar, orange juice, rind & mixed spice in a large bowl. Add pears to bowl & coat well. Place pears, cut side up, with juice and dates in a heatproof dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn pears, baste with liquid & bake for another 20 minutes, until pears are coloured & tender.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, extra brown sugar & brandy in a bowl. Serve with warm pears & a little syrup, sprinkled with almonds. Serves 4

Cherry Tomato, Herb & Chilli Fish

For my birthday this year, Megan gave me this great little cookbook that I had never heard of, The Hungry Girls cookbook. It is a small collection of recipes put together by 3 Melbourne friends, each of the limited 200 copies are stamped, lined with cloth & sewn together by hand & it is truly a special gift. The recipes all look delicious & here is a look in, last night I made my first attempt which was seriously good & so very simple. I used flathead which cooked up perfectly, I was worried it would break up but no chance of that. The flavour of the tomatoes really penetrates the fish & along with the simple herb sauce went well with a simple baked potato & salad. The book was released In April so I’m not sure if there are any left but if you can get to any of the stores that stock it, pick up a copy, it is a real treat & I love something unique, especially when produced by local girls.

Cherry Tomato, Herb & Chilli Fish

1 whole white fleshed fish weighing 1.5kg, filleted & skinned, each fillet cut into 2 pieces
or
4 x 150-200g white fish fillets
salt & pepper
75g butter
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 red birds eye chillies, finely chopped
2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Pat the fish dry & rub with a little salt. Heat the butter & oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter foams, then add the garlic & chilli, frying until the garlic begins to color. Add the tomatoes & fry for 30 seconds, then add the herbs & season with salt & pepper. Stir to combine, and make sure the tomatoes cover the base of the pan fairly evenly. Lay the fish fillets on top & gently press them into the tomatoes. After 2-3 minutes, when you can see the fish turning opaque up the sides, turn the fillets. Try to pick up some of the tomatoes underneath so they end up on top. Cook for another 2 minutes then serve. Serves 4.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Double Potato & Halloumi Bake


Here is a nice recipe for some lovely comfort food veggies topped with lovely comfort food cheese - halloumi, could you ask for more on a cold winter’s night? I nearly ate the whole tray it was so good. The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites.

Double Potato & Halloumi Bake

1 large sweet potato
1 large Desiree or other red/firm potato
1 red onion
1 yellow capsicum
1 red capsicum
½ head garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
125g Halloumi cheese, sliced as thin as you can
ovenproof baking dish, 25 x 15cm

Preheat oven to 200c. Peel & cut the sweet potato into rough 4cm cubes & the potato slightly smaller, 2.5cm as the sweet potato will cook more quickly. Peel & halve the red onion, then cut each half into 4-6 segments, discarding any tough outer skin. De-seed the peppers & cut into 2.5cm squares, and separate the cloves of garlic. Put everything into a large roasting tin and, using your hands, give the vegetables a good coating of olive oil. Season with black pepper, but no salt as the cheese will make it salty (& make water leech out). Cook for 45 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cook through & here & there tinged with brown. Turn the oven right up or use a grill & place the cheese on top of the bake & put in back in for 5-10 minutes until melted & slightly brown on top. Serves 2-3.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Iced Spice Fingers


Today Rach was coming over for a nice early (11am) visit with Ethan so I thought I would whip up a batch up bickies for morning tea, biscuits are my craze at the moment & there will be a few more coming up soon. I don’t think starting at 7.30am on baking is a good idea as I must have been half asleep, they were nearly a disaster but somehow managed to turn out very nice indeed in the end by some miracle. Do you like the nice fluorescent shade of pink I managed to attain? Firstly after stage one I ran upstairs to do my morning exercise, bike & some sit ups (still trying to regain pre pregnancy bod) & 5 minutes in remembered that I forgot to add the egg & vanilla so ran down, took the mix out of the fridge & added them in completely the wrong order, it was so tough to stir these in that I actually broke my wooden spoon in half. After my exercise session I then realized that I forgot to preheat my oven but went ahead without waiting as I only had so much of a window while the little Miss was asleep. Next I made the icing with 2 tablespoons instead of teaspoons of flour & was worried that this would lend a floury flavour but no taste of flour at all. I guess the lesson is that even when it looks like you might have to bin the mix all can still turn out & exact measurements or following of the recipe is not really necessary even in the more unforgiving world of baking where I thought that precision was always the key!

Iced Spice Fingers

180g butter
100g brown sugar
265g (3/4 cup) golden syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
450g plain flour
75g self raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarb of soda
3 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon & mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cloves

Icing
240g (1 ½ cups) icing sugar
2 teaspoon plain flour
1 egg white
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 170c. Combine butter, sugar & golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter melted. Cool for 10 minutes, then stir through egg & vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl, pour over golden syrup mixture & stir to combine. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface & knead until combined. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using your hands, roll tablespoons of the mixture into 6cm lengths. Place onto baking paper lined oven trays & press lightly to flatten. Bake for 12 minutes or until browned. Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, sift together sugar & flour. In a bowl lightly whisk egg white until foamy, gradually stir in icing sugar mixture, then add lemon juice & mix to combine. Halve icing, add a few drops of pink colouring to half & stir to combine. Spread icing over biscuits and stand until set.