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

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

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!

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.


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.