Dinner with my partners extended family. I had only met his Tia and Tio once and I was still trying to make a good impression so I thought what could I take over as a thank you? Their Grandmother lives with the family and is from Uruguay so I was certain dinner was going to be fabulous and I am sure she would have all bases covered, therefore I felt there might be room to impress with dessert, plus I hadn’t baked something worth wild in a couple of weeks.
I did not want to take something too rich or chocolatey, it needed to be simple and delicious without being over the top. I thought fruit was a good place to start and I remember a couple of years ago baking a nectarine frangipane tart which was fantastic. Unfortunately it is the middle of winter now and all the good fruits are out of season. What could I be left with – apples, pears or cherries. The first two are boring and not packed with flavour. Apple is better in a crumble, pear is better with a chocolate frangipane, which is a good mix, but not something I wanted to recreate for this occasion, so by deduction Cherries it was to be.
I was surprised the cherries out, although $15/kilo, were so large, juicy and bursting with flavour, I thought to myself even from the get go this was going to be good. The frangipane itself was surprisingly easy to make, even though once someone commented that good frangipane had to be made a day ahead and left to rest for 24 hours before using it, I think people who believe this have no life and personally I think it would not make any difference as the tart I made turned out fabulous.
I had to make a few little tarts for my Mother who always wants to try my creations, but I had so much mixture that the mini tarts were basically overflowing with filling. One thing I was worried about once it was in the oven was the fruit burning but I was lucky that my oven did not decide to do its own thing and it baked evenly, did not burn and looked amazing. The only thing I forgot to do before I took it along to dinner was use some jam to make the cherries that little bit shiny and prettier, but I was confident they would like it none the less.
The result? THEY LOVED IT. I was soooo happy I have proved my baking abilities and impressed the relatives to be. Now I am sure they will have faith that I can take care of and cook for their beloved nephew. So that was one half of the satisfaction, but the other was my Mother’s reaction. Normally she always finds faults in my cooking, too dry, not enough stuffing, whatever, but her mini tarts were perfect. She could not stop complimenting them. PURE DELIGHT!
So the moral of the story is, this is the perfect tart to impress, serve with some ice cream, doucle cream or dab with some cognac when it comes out of the oven even for an adults only version, and you will be raved about for weeks to come.
Cherry Frangipane Tart
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1. Prepare pastry and bake then leave to cool.
2. While cooling pit all the cherries and cut in halves (you don’t want to bite into seed).
2. Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.
3. Cream butter and sugar until light in colour. Add vanilla paste then eggs in one at a time and mix until well combined.
4. Take mixture off the paddles and stir in the almond meal with a wooden spoon.
5. Pour frangipane over cooled tart shell then arrange the cherries in a nice pattern, but make sure that they are pressed in so they don’t fall off once baked.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool.
7. Serve with vanilla ice cream, double cream or dab some cognac over the top (while still hot). Enjoy
For Christmas this year I was lucky enough to get a Mix Master from my family. It is amazing and I could not wait to christen it, but wanted to do something special. It was also close to the birthday of a very close friend, so I thought it would be nice to bake her a tart. Really what better reason to cook but for others to enjoy it.
What would I cook though? Well Francine is always happy and bubbly and I know she likes chocolate as all the kids in my family and hers used to love eating a rich chocolate mousse cake at her house since we were young. But now we are older and I thought something a little lighter might be appropriate. I have always loved the look of tarts in which whole fruits were pushed on the top and then baked but did not particularly want to make a marzipan filling as I am not so fond of them, and honestly, how much more boring are they to chocolate. So I found the tart I would make…..a chocolate pear tart (and it is a tart as I am completely in love with pastry and now find it so rewarding to make perfect pastry that is crisp and crumbly, but not overly, just right).
This tart however is different to my signature chocolate caramel tart in which you cook the pastry before adding the filling as you cook the filling to so it all cooks together. I was a bit skeptical at the beginning as I thought the pastry would not cook enough and would be soggy but the filling rose quite a lot and was light so the pastry was able to cook through and go hard.
It looked beautiful when it came out, although the pears weren’t perfectly placed, but it was a little difficult to cut as you would need a very sharp knife to cut through the pear so you don’t pull them out of the filling. I was not game enough as I was out at a restaurant, so decided to give Francine (birthday girl) a whole line of pears and me none. I actually preferred that as I just wanted chocolate. As we were at an Italian restaurant we also got some vanilla bean and hazelnut gelato to go with the tart and I must admit I preferred the latter (surely I am not biased as it is my favourite flavour) but I really do think it just added a little bit more to the whole tart.
There was about 7/8 left of the tart so I sent it home with Francine for her family to enjoy.
Happy Birthday Francine!!!
Chocolate Pear Tart
3 Pears (ripe and firm)
8 oz good semisweet chocolate
3/4 cups of heavy cream
1 egg yolk
seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar for sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F
Peel, core and cut the pear into quarters. Cook it in a microwave until they are just about tender.
Take out and let it cool.
In a double broiler melt the chocolate with cream. Whisk thoroughly so that it all incorporates well.
Then add sugar to the chocolate and mix it till the sugar dissolves well.
Set it aside and let it cool.
Whisk egg and egg yolk in a mixer. Add vanilla beans or extract and mix it together.
Once the chocolate and cream mixture is cool enough pour it into the egg with mixer on medium low to combine everything together.
Take out the tart pan from the freezer. Arrange the pears and then pour the custard into the pan carefully not to pour on top of the pears but from the sides.
Place it into the oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes but I start peeking after 40 minutes.
When the chocolate custard is puffed and set, its done. It should be a little firm to touch and slightly cracked from the edges.
Take it out and let it cool before serving, only if you can resist!
So it has been a fair while since I have posted. Lots has happened in the past couple of months including adjusting to my new job, breaking my wrist and trying to do anything with my cast on, and also getting through Greek Easter, graduation and Flaounes making which all happened on the same weekend.
It seemed as though when I cooked it was only quick dinners as time got past me, or the limited time to prepare anything for a party left me feeling ashamed of the non creative plate I was bestowing on the host. Finally though, a dinner party where I not only had time to cook, but also time to prepare something unique and delicious.
I had a week to devise something impressive but also something challenging to myself. Recently I have been going down to my local butcher, Pino’s Dolce Vita, and choosing something new to cook every week. They are specialists in sausages and cured meats but they also have a huge range of meat, poultry and game to whip up. I had a look at what was in the window and there were things like beef cheeks, veal cutlets and other more common meats, but I really did want something less seen, so I asked if they had rabbit……OF COURSE they do, but it is brought in fresh to order, and let me tell you, when I got my rabbit the flesh was so pink that you could tell how incredibly fresh it actually was. I was so excited at the challenge.
Rabbit is an animal I have wanted to cook again since my first attempt, which was a very “good effort” was overcooked and dry as I did not know how to work with this delicate meat. When cooking the meat it requires your full attention because like poultry or other white meats, it is so easy to overcook and be dry and tasteless.
I have continually come across recipes which stated rabbit stew, rabbit terrine or even assiette of wild hare. There are many ways to cook rabbit more than simply applying to a heat source. I really wanted the meat to keep its juices and be succulent and flavoursome. I therefore decided to treat the meat as something I could slow cook, something that can soak up all the flavours from the juices it was in.
So I did just that, cut up the rabbit, threw it into a casserole dish with tomatoes, garlic, sausage, white wine and cinnamon quills. Simple. Lid on. Bake for 6 hours on 150 degrees and ta da! Soft rabbit meat falling off the bone. DELISH!! I was so happy with my dish, I could not wait till my friend tried it. Finally something different I could take to a dinner party, something you won’t find commonly at restaurants and overall a very cheap meal.
The response was fantastic, and we even found a wine that matched perfectly, although a very unexpected pairing, an 2010 Arbois “Trousseau” from Jura mmmmmmmm
Slow Cooked Rabbit
1 rabbit cut into 6 pieces (with bone)
1 can crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 chorizo (or similar sausage)
2 cinnamon quills
2 cups dry white wine
1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C
2. Roast for 6 hours, turning every hour (if there is not enough liquid add some more wine and tomatoes)
3 large parsnip
1 cup milk (use cream for a richer taste)
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
2 bunches dutch carrots
1. Peel parsnip then chip into cubes. Roast until cooked through and slightly browned on outside.
2. Put cooked parsnip into a blender with the milk, butter and Parmesan. I wanted a texture that was not completely smooth, but if you wanted it to be smoother, add more milk. Set aside)
3. Peel carrots then boil until cooked (note that they will not all be the same size so you will have to constantly take out the cooked ones individually as you don’t want some to over cook). Once cooked put in a bowl of cold or iced water to stop cooking them.
4. When ready to serve put carrots into a pan with butter and golden syrup and cook until they start to get crispy.
5. Portion up the rabbit, parsnip puree and carrots onto a plate and enjoy with a glass of Trousseau.
Pino’s Dolce Vita
45 President Avenue
Kogarah NSW 2217
(02) 9587 4818
Mondays to Fridays - 8:00 am -5:30 pm
Saturdays - 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
They have a full breakfast and lunch menu and beautiful coffee and sweets.
For those of you who have stomach problems I highly recommend looking into the FODMAP’s diet. It has saved me and I can assure you it is not a fad diet, but a life changing diet. I used to have stomach pain every day, bloating, indigestion and constant discomfort. I went to doctor after doctor and it wasn’t until I saw a particular Gastroenterologist that he int
For those of you who have stomach problems I highly recommend looking into the FODMAP’s diet. It has saved me and I can assure you it is not a fad diet, but a life changing diet. I used to have stomach pain every day, bloating, indigestion and constant discomfort. I went to doctor after doctor and it wasn’t until I saw a particular Gastroenterologist that he introduced me to this diet. Within a month I was not sore, I wasn’t constantly complaining and I was actually happy and enjoying food again.
There are a lot of foods that must be cut out but I won’t go into that, it is easy enough to find information about it, however what I will say is that I had been searching for a book on FODMAPs written by Dr Sue Shepherd who is a specialist in this area. Recently I found it while holidaying in QLD and had to buy it. The great thing about this book is that is explains clearly what FODMAPs is, how different foods affect different peoples and then it gives suggestions on how to make such a diet part of your life even if you are also gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, vegetarian or vegan. There are a range of great recipes at the back which I really wanted to try out.
So this easter I thought I would make a dessert so I could enjoy it without feeling sick and decided that the items I had on hand were sufficient to make the lemon bars. It was really easy to make and actually didn’t require as many as I expected.
It is as easy as making the base then pouring over a lemoney mixture, baking and cooling. Done. Easy peasy! It is even a great one for the kids to help with!
Gluten Free Lemon Bars
(recipe slightly adapted from “Food Intolerance Management Plan, Dr Sue Shepherd)
3/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsps grated lemon zest
125g unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsps rice flour
1.Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
2. Mix flours, sugar and zest in a food processor to combine. Mix in butter until it starts coming together in a ball.
3. Press into a lined tin and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned on top.
4. In the meantime beat eggs and sugar in an electric mixer then add lemon juice, zest and flour and mix until well combined.
5. Pour over the top of the base and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
6. Let cool then dust with icing sugar to serve.
In recent months I haven’t been cooking as much as I have started working full time and have not had my own space to experiment without interruptions. I knew that my whole family would not be home this Valentines Day so it was the perfect opportunity to satisfy my huge desire to cook up something special. Last year I had to work on Valentines so I haven’t cooked up a celebratory dinner like this for a while, and I know post Valentines it will have to wait until September until we move into our own apartment with our own custom designed, absolutely fabulous kitchen (now christening that kitchen will be a dinner to remember). But we are not there yet so I just have to make do with my electric cooktop in the crowded kitchen I currently have at home.
I have been dying to cook Waygu every since a friend of mine made it for me at his house, although his was from Victor Churchill’s in Wollahra and costs ~$180/kg. I could not afford this yet, but one day, so I shopped around and found another well known butcher, which has a huge meat market in Glebe. Glenmore’s is just next to Wentworth Park and has been there for years. As it is a wholesaler the meat is ridiculously cheap, I mean I was able to get waygu for ~$55/kg, and although this was the lowest level of waygu I did not mind as I could handle having to work of that amount of fat but not a piece or fat with meat through it as some of the higher levels seem to resemble.
I had also planned to get some oysters for entree but the thought of buying them from David Jones after work and transporting them on the train home seemed like a less than pleasant experience, and not only for me but all the other train goers. SO I resorted to something very simple and quick to prepare which everyone loves, fried cheese mmmmm My family had bought a large wedge of Kefalograviera, which is a hard and salty Greek cheese traditionally supposed to be made from sheep’s milk, but the stuff we get here does not taste like sheeps milk. It is traditionally used in Saganaki which is a dish that has so many variations but basically is a thick chunk of this cheese fried and sometimes topped with prawns. It works well as it does not melt easily but goes stringy like mozarella.
We both enjoyed this entree and it only wet our appetite for the dish to come. I was not sure if the flavour would be enough to enjoy, as it hung on the fact I’d cook the meat perfectly and this was something I was scared I would not achieve. 10 seconds to long could be fatal and result in overcooked meat. I have had a lot of practice recently and learnt how much meat continues to cook off the pan, so I was confident but just in case I also made some paprika chips, green beans and diane sauce (on the side, this is not blasphemy with waygu).
My complete concentration was on the meat as it cooked and because one steak was thicker than the other it was easy to achieve medium rare and medium steaks. One thing I must say right here is that recently I have started cooking steak in butter rather than oil, I just find that the flavour is a little richer, and really a little butter wont kill anyone, but you will enjoy the meal a lot more.
While the steak rested I plated up the sides, the sauce and pouring the wine. We enjoyed a Katnook Estate 06′ Founders Block Cab Sav which was aired for hours, super super smooth and paired perfectly to this delicious piece of meat.
Here is just another one to tease you because it was INCREDIBLE, and you know you have done it to perfection when your partner who is not the biggest foodie but loves a good steak continually compliments you and says it was the best dinner ever and because it was so good now feels bad he hasn’t contributed to dinner. Of course he knows he couldn’t have helped as I would have been a complete Nazi telling him he was doing his task wrong, probably after he was distracted by something else. Cooking is not his thing, as as I tell him, it makes me so happy to cook for him…..so really the way into my man’s heart I have learnt over the years is a good steak and then a nice simple dessert, like ice cream!
A couple of months ago I introduced my partner to Maggie Beer “Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel Ice Cream”. Big Mistake! Whenever he is left with a container it disappears withing a couple of days so that I am not able to enjoy it. Well this obsession with ice cream had led me to in the past learn to make passionfruit semifreddo, ice cream millefuelle and chocolate strawberry ice cream cake. This year I wanted to try a recipe my Thea whips up for all family funcitons, and it is quite funny that now ice cream sandwiches are in fashion at many restaurants! It only required 4 ingredients and is very simple, so I thought, well I did manage to stuff it up by getting the quantities wrong so that the mixture was not dense enough to keep the biscuits on the bottom when poured over, they rose to the top and so I don’t have a sandwich but rather an ice cream slice with all the heavy chocolate bits sunk on the bottom.
Did we really mind? NO. It still tasted delicious and the best bit were all the crunchy pieces of “malt o milk” cookie, violet crumble and chocolate. We gobbled it up very easily and were now very very full.
I was so happy at how the dinner turned out as it was perfect and my partner was really in awe as he could not stop saying thank you thank you thank you. Definitely one of the best dinners I have ever cooked and the best Valentine’s meal we have had together. See no need to go out to restaurants, eat not so good food in a bad atmosphere, probably 1m away from the next table and with a long drive home. I much prefer home cooked dinners anyways which are simple and with good produce.
Happy Valentine’s Day mi amor.
For recipe of Steak Diane click here
Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 can condensed milk (400mls)
1 x thickened cream (600mls)
2 x crunchie bars, crushed
Malt o milk buscuits
1. Line a dish with baking paper at then line the malt o milk cookies flat so they resemble tiles (remember the direction you have placed them)
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over cookies.
3. Place remaining cookies in same tessellation pattern as on the base then freeze overnight.
4. To serve lift the baking paper out and cut off rectangular sandwiches.
I have been wanting to make Crack Pie for such a long time. We have all heard the rave about Momofuku even before it hit Sydney with their famous Pork bun’s and crack pie, but now Sydney ciders are lucky enough to experience it all on home turf…..at a price. For me, I am not that into asian cuisine, but I do have a very very sweet tooth and this pie is known to be the epitome of sweet pies and one that you will become addicted to. I think it is something about the base, it is basically a cookie that you bake then make into a tart base, similar to cheesecake (and if you wanted to cheat you could just do so with pre made cookies). The filling is somewhat like a custard or creme brulee as it is smooth and thick but rich. I assure you, if you give this pie to kids they will be running around for hours and not sleep that night, that is how much sugar there is in this tart.
The perfect opportunity arose with the 18th birthday of a close friend from work. Not only does she love desserts but is a huge chocaholic. I did end up finding a recipe for Crack Pie with a twist or nutella and thought it’s a done deal….Sure some people would this this would bastardize the original recipe but isn’t everything better when you add nutella??
I have seen some versions of this recipe which required days of cooking, cooling and setting, and during the week I just didn’t have time for that so this version is perfect as you can do it in one night, over 3 hours and then cool it overnight and it will be perfect the next morning. The only thing that you need to consider is how you will transport the pie to your destination as it needs to be kept cold. I was lucky and it was a particularly cold Summer’s day in Sydney town so it did not melt even though it was nearly two hours between fridges at either end.
Once it came time to cut the tart it came out of the fridge at the last minute as it must be served chilled as it does melt and goo all over the plate after a while. In the end was it a success? DEFINITELY but one thing I noticed is that once it did start to warm up it tasted sweeter which was a little bit too much. If I made it again I think you would get away with no brown sugar at all. Nutella is sweet enough as it is and with the amount of sugar in the filling and brown sugar it is a little sickening, so omitting brown sugar all together would be fine….there was so much filling left over that you don’t need it.
But now I am so happy I can say “I have made Crack Pie” and even if people did not know what you were talking about the name is still pretty cool, give it a try!
See ShowFood Chef’s recipe here. (but remember no brown sugar in the filling)
I have wanted to try something from the Adriano Zumbo cookbook released only a couple of months ago. We have all seen his crazy cakes on Masterchef and in his stores but to actually make one, I am sure many of us would not even dare. For me it is a challenge that will test me and these are the types of things I love giving a go. I know it will not be perfect and like he would do, but for your average run of the mill kitchen I think I did ok.
I wanted to give this cake a try as it involves many layers of chocolate, which I love, and it has so many contrasting textures I thought it would be really interesting to eat. I must admit that I only ‘got’ the idea of the cake half way through cooking it. Although you created each layer and froze it individually to set, it ended up being a sort of ice cream cake. The thing I did not get was how 7 layers of frozen goodness were supposed to merge into one cake…..
The first time it was served it fell apart into its layers, but after a few times it had melted a little then was refrozen it set into one form. It was very hard to cut the bottom three layers but all in all a success. The result for the best layer was unanimous too….creme brulee was so delectable, perfect by itself or with some of the chocolate mousse, which does look more like choc chip mousse as I did do a boo boo while making it. The recipe states that when you have the melted chocolate and the cream you must cool the melted chocolate so it does not melt the whipped cream, but too cold and it will set into chips rather than turn into silky chocolatey creme……so cold melted chocolate equals what I produced. I actually like the look though as it breaks up the rest of the intense chocolatiness and makes it look not as rich.
So three days and seven layers later I used up 2 dozen eggs, 4 blocks of chocolate, over a litre of cream and blocks and blocks of butter……do you still want a piece?
There is one layer which I made but did not include in the cake which was a chocolate meringue. Since the cake had not moulded very well at first the meringue layer would have just completely separated the cake in two. It was very tasty and took the longest out of every layer to prepare (nearly 4 hours) but it did not go to waste and was subsequently eaten by my family. The mirror glaze would have been the trickiest as it depended a lot on temperatures and having particular ingredients which I did not have, so I made do with what I had and it was shiny, but a little thick. The rest were all straight forward and just required patience. Overall I do think it is a marvellous cake, and definitely the best ice cream cake I have ever had…..would I ever make it again? Probably not, unless a close friend requested it for a special occasion.
Was it worth it you ask? YES I made a Zumbo cake and it nearly worked, that is an achievement in itself!
[I have decided not to put up the recipe as it is extremely long. If you would like a copy, email me and i'll send it to you.]
Mum’s birthday. What do I cook??? She has recently deemed a new cake cookbook she purchased as her favourite thing since sliced bread….well maybe not that much, but she is very excited, so I thought I would do something out of that for her. I did think however maybe the choice should be her’s and I am glad I did as she told me to make one of her favourite cakes which I forgot I was saving to bake for this day.
I lie actually, I made it a couple of weeks ago but that recipe was stupid, or maybe I was the stupid one to listen, as it instructed to put a springform tin into a waterbath to cook the cake. It is evident that the bottom half of the cake was absolutely soaked! Straight to the bin it went….
I researched and found many recipes for souffle cakes which did not require a waterbath and decided on one. The key to this cake is creating as much air as possible and being very delicate and careful when you do finally fold everything together as you want it to be as light and airy as possible, so if you are too rough or stir rather than fold, you will get rid of a lot of the air bubbles.
Once you pout it into the springform tin (no waterbath this time) you bake it slowly for a long time. If you cooked it fast the outside would cook and the inside would remain raw, so be patient and it will turn out like this…..
Crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy, to the point of it melting in your mouth, on the inside. It is for this that it is so appropriate for any event as it is rich yet light and wont leave you feeling like you just ate a brick, you might even go back for a second one.
When I served this to my Mum she was just in heaven and did, like most girls, continue to cut slithers to make themselves feel better about not having a second slice. My twin brother was convinced it was just too rich and did not understand why I was putting a large scoop of ice cream to have with mine….some boys just don’t know how to enjoy decadence!
All in all Mum loved it, which is the most important thing. We had a simple do for her birthday this year, but I know she did not mind as she got exactly what she wanted…..the best chocolate cake in the whole wide world.
Chocolate Souffle Cake
(slightly altered from Dolcetto Confections)
400g dark chocolate, chopped
175g unsalted butter
7 large eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
ice cream to serve
Finally the day had arrived. I organised a lunch with my capoeira girlfriends at least a month ago, although admittedly I cancelled and rescheduled twice, so in a way it is my fault, but it worked out for the better as today was a beautiful day and really the start of summer!
I woke up early for anyone’s standards of a sunday morning, 7am, and was out of the house by 8:30 for a morning coffee and to buy groceries. By the time I got home I had already prepared the pasta I had planned, which worked out quite well considering I had never made a flavoured pasta before, and by 11am all prep was done. Now at this stage I would have been stupid not to swim and tan in my pool since the sun was out and I hadn’t gotten any vitamin D in a while.
Once I was a lightly darken shade of brown and the girls were almost here I finished the ravioli. I had wanted to make a beetroot pasta for a while as the colour is quite pretty and I flavour goes particularly well with goat’s cheese, which I love, and I was certain the girls would love it too. To prepare the filling I just mixed a marinated goat’s cheese with a goat’s chevre and powdered sage, but I left it until just before they arrived to finish as I did not want to leave the pasta in the fridge to toughen up, but did not want to leave the cheese out in the heat to ruin.
The girls actually timed it perfectly and arrived all at once not too long after I had finished the ravioli. I heated the water, made the sauce and then we served up and sat on the balcony where the sunny Sunday afternoon turned into a stormy, thundery afternoon. It did not dampen the lunch though as it made sitting out on the balcony, overlooking the water that bit more relaxing…..especially with a glass of wine or two.
The one thing I love about burnt butter sauces is that they go with so many fillings, and do not have to be heavy as many people might think, you only need a drizzle and the beautiful nutty flavours go through the pasta beautifully. I also this time bought fresh sage which fried while the butter was cooking away and really enhanced the dish. All in all I got the thumbs up from the girls and showed them that fresh pasta is not so daunting to make, you just need a good pasta maker, strong arms and patience because if the dough is not springy enough, it will rip in the pasta maker or your pasta will be tough and not enjoyable. A key I would say is to allow at least 10 minutes for constant kneading, and I’m talking full elbow grease, not just wimpy kneading, and your pasta will be delicate silky strips of pleasure.
Beetroot Ravioli with goat’s cheese and sage butter
400g ’00′ flour
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
100g beetroot puree
1. put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Put eggs and puree and beat lightly with a fork to combine.
3. Using your hands mix to form a dough and knead until springy and silky. Leave to rest for half an hour.
4. Separate the dough into6 balls. Using the largest flat setting on your pasta machine, then close the gap by 2 notches and feed the dough through again. (each time coating the dough with a little flour so it does not stick and rip)
5. Put the setting to the thinnest you can get and slowly and carefully feed the dough through. Lay flat on a towel (do not fold over, I did this and they all stuck together even though I had rubbed flour onto them. In the hot weather they just fused)
6. Repeat with all the dough and lay flat.
300g marinated goat’s cheese (drained weight)
300g goat’s chevre
4tsps powdered sage
1. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth paste.
parmesan (to finish)
1. To make the ravioli add dollops (about a tsp) along the dough leaving at least a 5cm gap. Put a sheet of dough over the top and press around the filling to make the dough stick together. Using a ravioli cutter cut into squares and place on a clean tea towel until ready to cook.
2. Once all done and ready to cook, boil a large pot of water and add some salt. Carefully place the ravioli into the water and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook as the sauce will continue to cook it.
3. While cooking make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan and add the sage leaves. Cook until the butter is bubbling, has turned brown and the sage leaves and fried.
4. Once cooked strain and make sure you get as much water off as possible.
5. Plate up and then using a spoon pour the burnt butter over the top of the ravioli and then place the fried sage leaved on top.
6. Grate parmesan over the top and serve immediately.
I love making fresh pasta! I just have to state that, and until I went to Italy two years ago and learn from my friend who lived in Milan, I did not realise how easy it is. Super easy, but you really need to have patience once you form the dough and knead like crazy. I’m talking at least 10 minutes to make a super springy, glossy, smooth ball of dough. Once rested for half an hour it is all steam ahead and you will have fresh pasta in no time.
Your pasta maker will have a whole heap of different size profiles but once you start you need the flat profile open to the widest, this is to start the flattening process. After this is done close the gap two notches and then afterwards 2 notches again until you have quite a thin sheet of pasta. (throughout this whole process you must continually wipe the sides with flour to avoid it sticking on the pasta maker and ripping. Disaster!
If it has not ripped and is thin you can decide on the type of pasta you would like to make, for this recipe and most seafood or light sauced recipes spaghetti is a great option. Slowly feed your pasta sheet through the spaghetti profile and wind until it is all cut up then add more flour and with your hand grab the pasta lift up and drop, lift up and drop so that the pasta separates. Put into bundles and let it rest while you prepare your sauce.
This sauce is one that I just whipped up with a mystery bag a friend bought over, so you can use an type of seafood you like, including shellfish, bugs, prawns, mussels etc. Just remember with seafood the one thing that is a must is fresh parsley. I am very lucky we have an abundant supply in my backyard so it was just a quick trip downstairs and not up to the shops for half dead stuff. Other ingredients that are complimentary with fresh seafood pastas include chilli and garlic, but today we were adding some truffle oil to finish, so I went without as I did not want them to overpower. Instead I just added some fresh truss tomatoes and a whole lot of mushrooms.
One thing I do stress is that once you make the pasta it MUST be undercooked slightly as you need to stir it through the sauce for at least a minute so it can absorb those flavours, hence it will continue to cook, so if you want perfect pasta don’t hesitate and take it out.
NB: one last thing….. fresh pasta will always taste better the day after as it has had all that time to absorb the flavours of the sauce.
Fresh Scallop & Prawn Spaghetti
fresh pasta (serves 8)
600g ‘oo’ flour
1. Put the flour in a bowl and then make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs in the centre and then using a fork lightly whisk the eggs together.
2. Start combining the flour then use your hands to form the dough. Knead until the dough is very springy, shiny and smooth (approx 10 mins).
3. Let dough rest for 30 mins before cutting it.
4. Cut the dough into eight small balls and using the largest setting on the flat profile of your pasta maker, push the balls through. Dust discs of dough with flour.
5. Close the gap by two stops then put the dough through again. Dust discs with flour.
6. Close the gap to the thinnest or second thinnest setting (whichever you prefer) and slowly pass the dough through without ripping it. Dust with flour.
7. Using the spaghetti setting pass each disc through then sprinkle with flour. Using your hands separate the pasta by picking it up and dropping it, then leave the eight piles to rest until the sauce prep is done.
8. Cook pasta in salted water, take off and strain just before ‘al dente’ (as it will continue to cook in the sauce and you do not want soggy pasta). Set aside to cool.
600g baby scallops (frozen is fine, just thaw before using)
600g whole green prawns, shelled and cleaned
3 large truss tomatoes, diced
500g mushrooms, diced
2 large handfuls of parsley (although you can never have enough)
truffle oil to drizzle
1. Before using the seafood pat it dry as it will release a lot of liquid which you do not want.
2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened.
3. Add the scallops and cook them for 3 minutes then add the prawns. When the prawns are nearly done add the parsley and stir through.
4. Add pasta and stir through for a good couple of minutes so the pasta absorbs the flavours of the sauce.
5. Serve then drizzle with truffle oil.
This is a long time favourite in my family and a great, much healthier alternative to ‘banana bread/cake’, but I will warn you, make 2 loaves as it goes very quickly. This version is not super sweet like some store bought varieties so you can take it for breakfast morning tea, afternoon tea or something to finish off dinner, and for that reason it does not last in my house.
I also add spices to the mixture which you do not have to do, like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, as I love this combination. We can see a similar combination of spices and fruit and nuts in Moroccan foods such as the spice mix ras el hanuot which contains cinnamon and nutmeg, and many tagines that use ras el hanout have prunes and almonds, so although this is just a basic loaf which has chucked a few ingredients together, it could be a mix that can be translated also into many other moroccon dishes. You could substitute the flour for pastry, add almond meal and make a phyllo snail roll with nuts, dates and spices, which would be a variant on their almond and cinnamon phyllo roll.
Anyways back to this loaf. It really is not a hard loaf to make, it just takes a bit of time to prepare and cook, but the only way to fast track this is to make the loaf in a very small tin so it cooks quicker, but noone will prefer a small slice to a large thick slice!
Spicy Date & Walnut Loaf
250g dates, chopped
1 tbsp bi-carb soda
1.5 cups boiling water
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
200g walnuts, roasted
1. Put the dates, bi-carb and boiling water in a bowl and leave it stand for 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
3. Cream butter and sugar then add eggs and mix until smooth. Add spices then remove from mix master.
4. Add flours, walnut and date mixutre to the butter mixutre and stir until just combined. DO NOT over stir otherwise it will not be light and fluffy but dense and hard.
5. Cook for 1 hour 20 mins or until cooked through. (I usually have to cover the top with alfoil after 40 minutes to avoid the top burning as I want the inside to cook, even in my weird fan forced oven)
My Mum recently purchased a cookbook of the most simple cakes you will ever come across. This one is no exception, and features in the ‘food processor cakes’ section. With the exception if boiling some fruit, everything is thrown in, blitzed and baked. Easy peasy!
Cakes which use almond meal commonly are paired with oranges but we had just been given a bag of homegrown mandarins from the elderly couple next door, so of course I feuded to substitute these as the flavour of these mandarins were so intense, they were juicy and sweet, Much nicer than those dry ones you buy in the supermarket!
The benefit with this recipe is that it is not only gluten free but also completely dairy free, no butter, no milk zilch! Great for people with intolerances and this cake although it has a little but if sugar is high in protein and fibre. For those who can have dairy it is great with some natural Greek yogurt, but it is still delicious just plain.
The texture is so moist and light so great for any time of the day, if you wanted to make it an adult version you can pour 2 tbsps of galliano or cointreau over the top once it cones out of the oven.
Overall I give this cake 5/5, it is light, tasty ad super easy to make. I’ll let Mum gloat now and tell Me that cookbooks do not need to be expensive or have celebrity chefs to be good. How right she is!
Flourless Mandarin & Almond Cake
1/4 cup galliano
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp vanilla essence
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Boil mandarins in a pot full of water for 40 mins or until the skin is soft.
2. Cut off any bad bits of skin and then quarter mandarins. Allow to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
4. Once cooled slightly blitz until quite a smooth purée. Add galliano, sugar and baking powder as blitz again.
5. Add among meal and pulse until just stirred through then add eggs and pulse until just combined. (do not over mix it otherwise it will be dense and heavy)
6. Line a springform tin with baking paper then pour mixture in. Bake for 50 mins.
7. Allow to cool in tin then when ready to serve dust with icing sugar.
I have wanted to cook something from my Movida Rustica cookbook and have been eyeing this cheesecake out for a long time. It is a Spanish baked cheesecake, not an Italian baked ricotta cheesecake that everyone knows well, and unlike those “Cheesecake Shop” styles, it is light and fluffy, how I like my cheesecakes. Best of all this recipe is gluten free!
Cheesecake has been one of my favourite cakes since I was a little girl. I always used to request a baked cheesecake from a particular bakery in Bardwell Park for my birthday which was as light as a marshmallow, it just dissolved in your mouth and was dangerous if you were left alone with it and a knife. Within half an hour you would just notice the cake gradually getting thinner and thinner as I took thin slithers stealthily, knowing I had overindulged but enjoyed every bite so much. I must admit though, I loved the base of that particular cake, but now since discovering my gluten intolerance, such past times are not so enjoyable and that is why this recipe is so promising, Light and fluffy but that caramelized crust on top just giving it that little extra that you do not even need a base.
This ridiculously easy recipe originates from San Sebastian in the north of Spain and once cooked in a hot oven sugar is sprinkled over the top and finished off with a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. It when served whole it could even look like a crema catalan due to this similar finishing technique, but once you take a spoon you will discover the soft luscious texture which dissolves on the tongue. Look away and it will be gone before you know it!
Today however was one of those days when you don’t quite have enough of anything and due to the gloomy cold weather you can possibly fathom venturing outside to the shops so make do and improvise, which I do actually love. Every recipe can be pulled and tugged here and there to produce a nearly the same if not better outcome. So I had a little less fresh cream, I used thickened cream. I did not have goat’s curd so in went more philli. No lemon rind, but a touch more lemon juice was added. Finally my large circular springform tin was lent out, as something always is, so out came the tart dish, a mini springform tin and 2 ramekins.
5 minutes after it started cooking I walked past the oven and almost jumped out of my socks as they had risen a lot and I was worried they would overflow, but as I discovered when I pulled them out to sprinkle the icing sugar on top for the last stint, they just sunk. It was kind of depressing as this beautiful, velvety cake, which almost looked like a souffle does what is the fear of all cooks and ‘lets off some steam’. I knew it probably was supposed to and I was to cook it for 10 more minutes but no cook likes to see something sink down in front of their eyes.
I had also lent out my blowtorch to a friend when I delivered a creme brulee last month and have forgotten to collect it, so I had to use an alternative method for the caramelization of my crust. A HOT HOT grill will do the trick, as it will to make Naan bread, I discovered once. They are very handy and can be used to do many great things. Of course the result is not as pretty as the one in the book, but I am sure Frank Camorra would be impressed for a quick effort.
butter, for greasing
plain flour, for dusting (for gluten free dust with almond meal)
500mL (2 cups) cream
155g (2/3 cup) superfine caster sugar
300g (1 1/4 cups) soft cream cheese – Philadelphia is the fine
180g goat’s curd
125g (1/2 cup) thick plain yogurt
grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Lightly grease a 25cm springform tin with butter, the dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
3. Place all the ingredients except the icing sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth. (about 1 minute then it will be thick and all combined). Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes or until just set.
4. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven, sprinkle the icing sugar over the top and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and using a kitchen blowtorch, brown the top until it is very dark. Alternatively, brown the cheesecake under a very hot grill (broiler). Allow to cool before serving.
I have never read Dr Seuss, but I don’t need to have grown up with it to know the term “green eggs and ham”. In Sydney today it is currently 18 degrees C and a time to grab the jumpers, pull out the heaters and eat comfort food. I have been working away at home all day looking outside at a gloomy scene. No sun glistens off the river, no birds are chirping and I could not be further from wanting to be out there. I would much prefer to stay inside, in my pajamas and have breakfast for lunch as you would on the weekend.
I have been craving baked eggs for a while now but it wasn’t until last weekend when I purchased my first packet of gluten free puff pastry from Harris Farm Market that I decided, this week is the week I will do it. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a plate of pastry without worrying that my stomach will hurt afterwards. Of course I have the occasional nibble but to sit down and know this will not make me sick is something I am looking forward to tremendously!
So this is a chance I decided to pay my dues to Dr Suess and make my own “green eggs and ham”. My green was the salsa verde I made last week as a topping on some steak and my ham will be some Calabrian nduja which is hard to come by in Australia. I got this one from Pino’s* in Kogarah. Pino is the king of curing in Sydney and his nduja will not let those die hard fans down. It is spicy, smoked in house and available in a sausage or in a paste.
The one thing I hate when I used to bake eggs in pastry is that the pastry on the bottom was always soggy, not matter if I baked it for a little first or in a water bath it never crisped up so I was not going to be disappointed by this GF pastry even before I started. The base of my ramekin would be juicy, sweet vibrant red capsicum topped with my salsa verde then some nduja. The pastry will go around the inside of the ramekin and then the eggs will sit inside. Finally it will be topped with some marinated feta and more salsa verde.
The result? Only a little sogginess on the base of the pastry but the rest was absolutely delicious. The capsicum had softened but still had some crunch to it and the feta had softened all over the top. What about the pastry you ask? Look I will not sugar coat it for you, gluten free tastes nowhere near the real thing, EVER. I don’t care who says they can make a product that you would not know as you will. The flavour of rice flour is so strong in every combination you can think of and the texture was thick and more like a shortcrust than a puff, but did I enjoy it? I enjoyed it enough to satisfy my curiosity and add some diverse textures to my green eggs and ham.
Green eggs and ham
1/2 sheet gluten free puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup salsa verde
3 slices nduja, broken up
1 capsicum cheek
2 tbsp marinated feta
1.Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.
2. Spray the ramekin with EVOO.
3. Break the pastry into thirds and fit around the inside of the ramekin. Slice the capsicum in the shape of a circle to fit on the base of the ramekin inside the pastry.
4. Top the capsicum with some salsa verde and the nduja. Crack the eggs inside then top with the feta.
5. Bake for 17 minutes or until the egg just sets.
6. Remove from oven and put a few dollops of salsa verde on top. Serve.
7. Use the pastry to scoop up the filling!
* Pino’s Fine Foods
45 President Ave
Kogarah NSW 2217
(02) 9587 4818
This dip is a favorite in my family. Whenever there is a tub at home you can be assured it will not be there 2 days later, it is highly addictive and can be put on anything (some might say). That is how much we love it.
My Yiayia (grandmother) is a legend. Everything she cooks tastes amazing and no one can cook her dishes better.
I have been determined to learn how to make taramasalata for a long time and document these recipes she has stored in her head as I want to pass them down to my children one day and keep the passion of particular dishes alive. Also because I know she would be so proud of me.
My Yiayia came out to Australia in the 1960′s with two young boys. Of course assimilation was hard and the strength or the Greek network in the inner west was at it’s peak. Unfortunately in the early 1980′s she lost her husband and both sons had left home and gotten married, so learning English was not something she really got a lot of help with. Luckily has many friends who she catches up with everyday but until recently I did not know how much of a social butterfly she is. Coffee with friends 3 days a week, shopping 2 other days a week and then seeing her sons twice a week. You really need to plan to see her as dropping past is not always a successful plan.
As a grandchild who does not speak Greek it does make it hard to converse, but the more time I spend with her the easier it is for us to understand each other and learning her recipes brings us both so much joy. I want to share this recipe with you all as it is very unique and not many make Tarama in this way, but that is why it is so good, the best. I know you will agree with me.
3 large potatoes, Boiled and mashed
200g tarama paste*
1 3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
1. With a hand blender mix the tarama paste and onion together.
I always get excited when I find something my Mum really enjoys and asks me to make again, believe me there have not been many! So when I got to use yogurt (tick) in some muffins (tick) and some coconut (tick) I was very positive as each of these things she enjoys. I must admit though my Mum is obsessed with yogurt, and in these muffins it gives them quite a sour flavour which is beautiful with the fruit and coconut, but can I just set a scene? My Mum puts yogurt on nearly everything she eats, any rice dish, salads, even once she put it with Osso Bucco despite my pleads to tell her not to ruin my rich 4 hour slow cooked meal. She continued with happiness. I have accepted it now, but if it floats your boat then why not enjoy it with as much as you can. No that does not mean pouring nutella over everything to make it taste better, but it probably would!
It is an easy one bowl recipe which is quite foolproof, once you cream the butter you just throw it all in and mix. It is not restricted to strawberries either, I have used blueberries which are also a great mix with the coconut but any seasonal fruit would work well. Apart from the complete easiness of this recipe is the texture. They turn out so soft and fluffy, I was surprised to see how well they keep after couple of days, they are still extremely moist.
Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup natural Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup milk
2 cups SR flour
1 punnet strawberries chopped (or 1 1/2 cup blueberries)
1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2) Cream sugar and butter. Remove from mix master and stir in the yogurt, milk and eggs until well combined.
3) Add coconut and fruit and mix well then add the flour and mix until just combined. It should be quite a wet mixture so if it is too dry add some more yogurt.
4) Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
I have never been the hugest fan of Creme Brulee. I like it but there are things I would order over it…….this was until 3 weeks ago when a friend had prepared some at his house for a dinner party. I remember I was completely absorbed by the creamy, thick, smooth texture which was so enjoyable. For that minute I completely forgot I was lactose intolerant and what lovely stomach cramps I had to look forward to. It did not matter, life it too short to not enjoy simple things like this lovely dessert.
So the opportunity came for me to devise two desserts for a dinner party I was attending yesterday. Firstly chocolate fondant popped into my head but then I decided to give this one a go too. I did however need a blowtorch for the event which I mentioned to my Mum and she said I should ask my Dad, who of course in his large workshop downstairs had a more than appropriate piece of equipment for me. (I appologize for the ugly photo, but it is not something I wished to style, but just take note of the size of Moccona in the background – not mine by the way)
When it was ready to torch I got a little excited and turned it up quite high and slightly burnt my brulee. The second ramekin was much more successful, but this did not deter us from completely devouring them. And again for that moment I was completely oblivious to what was going on around me, only concentrating of flavours, textures which left me with a very large smile.
(Yes this camera shake is the result of a kiwifruit cocktail, beautiful gamay and Napa Valley Cab)
2 cups cream
5 eggs yolks
100g caster sugar + extra for toffee
2 tsp vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 120°C.
2) Put the cream and vanilla into a pot and bring to the boil. Take off heat immediately.
3) Cream yolks and 100g sugar until thick and very pale. Pour cream into the yolk mixture and mix until well combined. Pour into 3 large ramekins.
4) Boil water in the kettle and prepare a waterbath to cook the creme brulee. Place the ramekins in the waterbath and cook for 45 minutes or until the top is set (do not let the brulee start to bubble)
5) Cool for at least 4 hours then when ready to serve sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top of the brulee and using a blow torch evenly caramelize the sugar so that toffee is produced. Serve and enjoy!
This dessert has travelled all over the word, passed by so many of my friends and brightened up dinner parties. It all started back in 2008 when I had a dinner party with uni friends and prepared the gooey chocolatey dish. I was surprised it was so easy to make and realised it is perfect for such instances as you can prepare them ahead of time.
I then went to France and made this for my friends Laura and Elwyn, in both dark and white chocolate, and after that requests from friends for the recipe poured in. Last weekend I decided it was revisit this decadent pot of goodness for a dinner party with my partner’s bestfriend and his girlfriend. It was actually quite fitting as Laura is the biggest chocoholic I know and since her birthday was only two days ago it dessert for the dinner had to be spot on.
I had forgotten how easy this is to make, the only part that is slightly hard is the whisking eggs and sugar over a double boiler for 8 minutes. I don’t like to use electric mixers so my arm got a huge workout, let me tell you, but once they are done they can last chilling in the fridge for weeks, and since they only take 12 minutes to cook, what really could be easier for a dinner party?
Nothing else needs to be said. Laura enjoyed it. So did I.
Dark Chocolate Fondant
70g dark chocolate
60g unsalted butter
20ml espresso coffee
100g caster sugar
50g fine almond meal
1) Over a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate until mixed together. Take off heat and then stir in espresso.
2) In a seperate bowl over the double boiler combine the eggs and sugar then whisk for 8 minutes or until thick and pale. Remove from heat.
3) Fold chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and once combined sift the almond meal in and stir lightly until just combined. Pour into 2 large ramekins. Refrigerate for minimum 2 hours.
4) When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180 degrees and cook for 12 minutes or until the top has just set. (The longer you cook it, the more like a pudding it will become) Serve immediately with come ice cream on the side.
Basically this is ‘my’ tart. The one that I have made more times than any other. The one that I am most confident in, and the one that I have spend more time developing the recipe than any other. This is the signature of Trish.
My journey with this tart started way back in 2002 when I used to make Chocolate Caramel Slice, a cheat of this tart really, which was easy and something I could cook with my eyes closed in 1 hour flat without fail. It used condensed milk instead of a pure caramel and a biscuit base rather than pastry. It is very much loved by my family, and some even prefer it to this tart, but once you learn to make pure caramel, nothing tastes as good.
My first attempt of this tart was for my Cheese Room Xmas party in 2008. It took all day long and I was so proud by the end that it had worked. The only problem was that while making this caramel, for the first time, a bit of hot toffee squirted up and onto my thumb burning it extremely badly. It ended up being a second degree burns and it took a very very long time to heal, but now is a war scar I say, which I quite like as it has a story to it, but it just shows you the dangers of hot toffee.
Now I am much more aware and can see how the toffee is progressing so I am ready for the addition of butter, cream and salt. I do have to say that if you want salted caramel DO NOT BE SCARED to put a lot of salt it, you need to otherwise you will not get the desired result.
The second most important thing, after the caramel, is the pastry. I sourced this recipe from a great source who you could not fault, none other than Adriano Zumbo himself. Long story, if you want to now ask me, but he gave me the recipe and it is faultless every single time. MY tip? Once you make the pastry put it in glad wrap and flatten it out in a similar shape to your pan. It will make it easier to roll out after. For help on rolling it out thin, look at my link to ‘perfect pastry’. Now I use this recipe for most of my tarts as it is so easy and tastes great!
Ganache! OH how I love thee. The only thing I can say is INVEST in good quality chocolate as you can taste the difference. For this instance I was using 57% single origin chocolate from Trinidad and Tobago and it was so fruity and bright in flavour. mmmmm If you think I sound crazy please go and do a chocolate tasting course and then come back to me.
The final product. There is nothing left to say but eat quickly as it will ooze everywhere. (if you did not want it to ooze so much though, once you have made the caramel continue to cook it over a very low heat for another 20 minutes and it will thicken up)
1 1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water
135g unsalted butter
110ml pure cream
2tbsp sea salt
265g Valrhona Dark chocolate (between 55-75% cocao)
100mL pure cream
65g unsalted butter
1. Prepare the pastry and blind bake. Cool.
2. For the caramel, over low heat mix the water and sugar in a pot and then let it simmer away until it goes through all the sugar stages and finally starts to turn brown. At this stage do not take your eye off it as it is so easy to burn.
3. Once it starts to turn a rich golden brown take it off the heat and mix in the cream, butter and salt. Be careful as it will splatter, but mix thoroughly until it is all combined. Put it back on the heat for 2 more minutes. At this stage if you want the caramel to be gooey, take it off, otherwise for a firmer caramel leave it on for another 20 minutes.
4. Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell. Refrigerate for 5 hours at least.
5. For the ganache, heat the cream over a double boiler until just warm then add the chocolate in and mix until combined. Add the butter and watch the shine really come up now. Cool it slightly and then pour it over your ‘firm’ caramel’ (N.B. If the caramel is not set the chocolate will push through and end up underneath the caramel)
6. Leave the ganache to set for at least 2 hours and then serve and devour in one sitting. I would not expect it to last for 2 anyways.
This dish is one of those dishes that Peru is known for. “Seco” means dry and “Cordero” is lamb, so this dish is translated something like a dry lamb stew. Its main ingredient is coriander which makes a colourful and flavuorsome sauce. It is one of those stews where you can use those tough cuts of meat and slow cook them all day and although shoulder is the most common cut used, I have chosen to use lamb shanks as I find this cut incredibly tender.
If you are one of those people who do not like red meat, not to worry, this recipe is also able to be used with poultry and fish. You would just have to adjust the cooking time and maybe start cooking the sauce for an hour before adding your meat.
The test came when my partner sat down to eat. He started by telling me how his Mother usually makes it, with a salsa on the side of onions in lemon juice with chilli on it. Then alerted me to the fact that there was not enough liquid and usually a lot more coriander (I have added extra to the recipe below)…….but other than that pretty good. Meat was soft and juicy (tick), flavour was correct (tick tick) and just for the record he has never seen his mum use beer as many traditional recipes state (well I didn’t so that is another tick).
I have altered this recipe so that it is gluten free and easy on sensitive stomachs, but I have noted the changes.
Seco De Cordero
6 large lamb shanks, frenched
3 cloves of garlic
3 stalks celery halved and chopped
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp aji amarillo
5 large coriander bunches
2 cup dry white wine**
3 cup chicken stock
10 small potatoes
2 cups rice
1. Brown the lamb shanks and set aside.
2. In a mortor and pestle grind up the coriander with some olive oil, in batches and set aside.
3. In a large pot sweat the garlic and onion until translucent, add the cumin, 1 tbsp of aji paste, the coriander paste lamb shanks and liquids. Stir and simmer for 2 hours, sitting occasionally so that it does not stick.
4. Once the stew is almost done boil the potatoes in water with the remaining aji paste until tender. Chop in cubes to serve. Cook the rice in plain water until cooked.
5. To serve plate up the meat, some rice and potatoes in a bowl then spoon the liquid over.
* I used celery instead of onion which may irritate some peoples stomachs.
** Traditionally beer is also used in the recipe so that there is 1 cup beer and 1 cup white wine, but I have removed this so it is a gluten free dish.
Yesterday was my best friend Kelly’s birthday. Happy 24th! We started celebrating the night before with dinner at Intermezzo Restaurant at GPO which was fabulous……and last night we continued with a bowling party. Although I am a terrible terrible bowler, it is surprising how much fun you can have when everyone has not done it for such a long time, I was not as bad as I thought….although compared to my competitive bowling family, scores of 82 and 75 would be shunned upon, they only get scores over 200. I might be bad at bowling but I knew that I would redeem myself with the birthday cake I baked for Kelly.
The cake is called Dobos Torte is a traditional Hungarian cake which consists of layers of sponge and chocolate butttercream with discs of toffee coated sponge on top. I appreciated that it is great in the traditional way, but I wanted to change it up a bit. I based the cake around the recipe from Canelle et Vanille, however I altered my creams a little. I decided to ditch the toffee pieces on top as I thought the cake was rich enough. The buttercreams were a bit different too, the inside being brown butter salted caramel buttercream, and the outside is that buttercream with dark chocolate and cocoa.
I must admit I was quite worried when I presented it that it would be too rich, too buttercreamy and noone would like it. This was her only birthday cake so I could have possibly ruined her birthday. Luckily EVERYONE loved it and were so impressed by it, especially Kelly. Phew! Just over 4 hours to make and it was gobbled down in 5 minutes. Definitely worth making, you just need lots of bowls and to be patient when making each component, it is worth it in the end.
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups icing sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
195g plain flour + 17g cornflour, sifted together
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper.
3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup of icing sugar, and the vanilla with a mixer until pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon in the mixture (approx 3 mins).
4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat to form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the rest.
5. Combine the flour and salt then sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
6. Spread the batter amongst the sheet pans as flat as you can and bake until lightly golden on top (approx 7 mins) Let the sponge cool.
NOTE: To make the sponges a consistent flatness put a piece of baking paper over the top, just as they have come out of the oven, and using another flat tray gently press it down so that it becomes flat and even.
Burnt butter Salted Caramel buttercream
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)
1. In a small saucepan mix water and sugar and then leave over high heat to start caramelizing. (KEEP AN EYE ON IT) Cook until it is a deep golden brown colour then remove from the heat immediately.
2. Very carefully pour in one cup of water, being mindful that it will splatter so pour slowly and step back.
3. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. (approx 10 mins)
Caramelized Butter Frosting
2 x 170g butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp caramel syrup, heaped
sea salt, to your taste (I used about 2tbsp)
1. Cook butter until brown. Pour through a sieve then cool.
2. Put cooled butter into a mixer bowl and slwoly whisk in the first 2 cups of icing sugar. The mixture will start to get thick so add some of the caramel and cream, then continue to add sugar. Repeat until it looks like below and then add salt to your taste.
NOTE: You will have left over, use it for the chocolate buttercream after you have laid out the layers of your cake.
leftover caramel buttercream
200g dark chocolate, melted
1 cup cocoa
1. Cut the sponge layers into thirds and place on your serving plate which is lined with some baking paper. Place the first layer of sponge and using a knife, spread an even layer of the caramel buttercream over the top.
2. Repeat with other layers until you have placed the last layer of sponge on top.
3. With the remaining caramel buttercream make the chocolate buttercream then using a knife spread the chocolate buttercream around the edges of the cake, covering it well.
4. Decorate with sprinkles or smarties etc. Refrigerate until 30 minutes before you want to serve it.
Last night I was lucky enough to eat at Intermezzo, a restaurant in the historic GPO building. The setting is perfect for so many occasions, lunch times are packed with suits and in summer tables spill out onto the plaza, but at night it becomes dim and spot lit highlighting the historic features of the space like the sandstone walls, enormous mirrors and glass roof.
To start you can sip on a glass of beautiful and crisp Soave, like me, or maybe some Veuve Cliquot like the girls and nibble on some antipasto of cured meats (proscuitto, salami and coppa), sardines, mixed marinated olives, fresh mozzarella, grissini and char grilled bread rubbed with oil. (I forgot to take a photo).
The atmosphere when full buzzes, but when you have good company or something to celebrate time just goes and before you know it an hour has passed and you have forgotten to order your mains. Lucky Chef sent out a little something to wet the palate……succulent scallop wrapped in proscuitto on a gorgonzola sauce. So tender and the sauce was soo incredibly creamy but not piccante, quite mild with just the smallest hint of blue. As Samantha said, and rightly so “this sauce is so good I could eat a whole bowl of it”, and then I directed her downstairs to the cheese room where they serve cheese fondue!
Our drinks disappeared too quickly and a suitable bottle had to be chosen. Without previously discussing it I suggested a region that I love and that I was craving, to my surprise it was the one Italian red both girls knew and also enjoyed. So that bottle of 08 Cianti Classico Castello di Fonterutoli came streaming into our big wine glasses. Swirl, sniff, taste. Perfecto!
It was now time to cleanse out palate before mains. Out came 2 sorbets which brought back childhood memories for all of us sitting on a summers day sucking on frosty fruits. The flavours were so intense pineapple and mixed berry but the baby basil leaves add that very much needed savoury note. Great combinations and we all slurped this dish up very quickly.
Mains look delectable as they are served. Kelly was first with her Crispy Skin Snapper on creamed peas with sauteed shrooms. She insisted it was amazing and the mushrooms are to die for, clearly they aren’t just your standard button mushroom but a mixture of all shapes and sizes, the way it should be.
My Barramundi, mussels, tomato and spinach cooked in a bag with white wine was very delicate and light. A great choice for those long dinners when you know you will be having many courses. The fish was perfectly cooked but you can’t get over the intense flavour of the mussels which perked up the mild taste of the barra.
Finally, the most beautiful dish……Samantha’s Scampi Linguine. The looks did not deceive and she finished every last bit, hailing the chef and announcing it was the best scampi she has ever ever had. She insisted us all taste this scampi and it was outstanding. Sweet with a soft tender texture.
All starting to get full, but of course know what is coming our way. The room starts to empty and luckily so as the wine is kicking in and our conversation starts to get a little rowdier with uncontrollable laughter happining a lot more frequently now. Come on, 3 girls, a lot of wine and a birthday to celebrate, how do you expect us to act?
Only one thing shuts us up……..the presentation of dessert!
So stunning. Caramelized apple tart with candied figs and apple mint ice cream.
But my favourite is the sweet ricotta canolli. At the sight of this I tell my stomach it is going to have to cope with a chunk of gluten as this opportunity cannot be passed up…..and does it disappoint? Not at all! Just as good as Papa’s in Haberfield, and a lot less packed!!!
We stroll out of there at 10:30pm and decide the night is not over but a post dinner cocktail is in order so Prime happily accommodated our presence and soon we were sipping on espresso martinis and caprioska’s.
Kelly was completely over the moon and delighted to have spent the last few hours of her 23rd year with her sister, Samantha and I. The staff were fantastic and the food was outstanding. What a perfect atmosphere and location full of history for us two architects. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
No. 1 Martin Place
Lunch: Monday to Friday – 12pm to 3pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday – 6pm to 10pm
This year I was asked to be one of the contributors to Eating & Drinking Sydney, a new comprehensive food guide for Sydney and surroundings. I wrote for the restaurants sections which meant I got to try a whole lot of new restaurants, hpi and funky places that have been there for a while and also some that are just plain institutions (which I liked the most!).
The other sections throughout the book are Cheap and Cheerful, which was edited by the popular “Grab Your Fork” blog creator, Helen Yee, and then the lucky Anna Fedeles edited all the bars around town, but I think the hat has to go to Elizabeth Meryment who read through and edited, not to mention, dined at many of the 300+ restaurants featured (is anyone wishing you had Liz’ job?…..I do!)
The book will be released September 1, 2011 and will retail for $29.95 BUT I have 2 copies to give away.
How do you enter? Just tell me, in the comments below, your favourite dining experience. This does not mean just the food, the view or the service, it is the whole shebang. Tell me Sydney! The best two comments will get a copy of the book sent to them.
For more information on the book, check out the facebook page here.
I am very much a ‘when in Rome’ type of person, and so is a very close friend of mine, Kelly. Kelly lived in Paris for a year and adopted the lifestyle very easily…..including the traditions of a sweet breakfast from the Boulangerie, where she bought brioche every couple of days so she could make toast in her apartment which she then topped with Nutella. Coming home to Sydney, Kelly was starting to have withdrawal symptoms as she claims she could not find anywhere that made good Brioche to satisfy her breakfast needs, so I did two things for her:
1) Gave her a list of good bakeries which do make exceptional brioche including Iggy’s in Bronte and Bourke St Bakery in Surry Hills, both of which are not too far away from her home in Coogee;
2) BUT I also accepted the challenge to recreate this bread and see if it meets her expectations or if it at all lives up to the standards she enjoyed in Paris.
But how does one find the perfect recipe? Where does one look? I figured first thing is first, if I was going to find a recipe, it would have to come from a born and bread French(wo)man. I knew that many of the top blogs are French based, and so I read read read, finally narrowing my search down to two types of recipes. The first which some might argue is the ‘proper’ was to make brioche required starting the day ahead and making your own started and letting it ferment overnight. Although I do like making things completely from scratch, I have tried this once before and my house is always so cold, it never works, so I decided the second style would have to do, even though I would use dried packet yeast. The recipe is from a blog called “Tartlette“.
That was the first thing I did, made my yeast mixture with milk (which the original recipe has) however, I started it three different times and none of them fermented. I first warmed the milk in the microwave, WHICH YOU SHOULD NOT DO, as the microwave kills some of the amino acids which are required for the fermentation. So I then tried to warm the milk in a pot and then add the yeast. FAIL. It still did not work. I was so upset, and by this stage I had already mixed all the other ingredients and was just waiting for the final bit, the yeast. I then ditched the milk and used lukewarm water and a little sugar, and presto, within 5 minutes I could already see the frothing start. To compensate no milk, I added more butter to my recipe than originally stated, and once the yeast was ready I added it in a thin stream, mixed, and let the dough rise and rise and rise.
When making any bread, you must be patient at this point and I find even allow more time than stated to let the dough rise. After it was chilled, kneaded and then left to rise again it was into the oven for 25 minutes and out it came with a gorgeous golden brown crust, but was so soft and fluffy on the inside it was the type of thing which you could eat and eat and eat without realizing how much you are consuming as it is just so light.
The test now was to recreate this for Kelly for the final tick of approval, but at least I am confident now that mine has a chance to please her high standards.
Yes! She loved it….although I did not make my own nutella, she did thoroughly enjoy it! As for me, I decided smearing a few slices in melted dark chocolate would do fine!
1⁄3 cup lukewarm milk (not too hot so that it kills the yeast!)
1⁄4 cup sugar + 1 tbsp
2 1/2 tbsp dry yeast
splash of orange blossom water
5 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter
1. To get the starter going mix the milk, 1 tbsp sugar and the yeast in a bowl. Leave it in a warm place for 15 minutes so it rises and bubbles.
2. Whisk in the rest of the sugar, 4 eggs and the orange blossom water until well combined.
3. Transfer to a kitchen aid and using the paddle handle on a low speed add the flour and salt and butter. Mix until just combined then increase the speed until well combined and a clean dough that comes off the handle forms.
4. Transfer to a buttered bowl and place in a warm area. Let the rise for one hour or until it doubles in size.
5. Knock the dough back, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
6. Now form your loaves (this recipe will yield 2) and place on baking trays. Again let them rise for 1 hour. (They will need to be on seperate trays as they will rise a lot and combine)
7.Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat the last egg to make an egg wash and brush over the loaves. Bake until golden brown, approx 25 mins.