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Recipes

Cherry Frangipane Tart

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
Pastry

25 cherries

115g butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

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


Slow Cooked Rabbit

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

serves 4

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)

to serve

3 large parsnip

50g butter

1 cup milk (use cream for a richer taste)

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

2 bunches dutch carrots

knob butter

golden syrup

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

http://pinosdolcevita.tumblr.com/

www.pinosdolcevita.com.au

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.


Gluten Free Lemon Bars

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

topping

3 eggs

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.


Valentine’s Dinner

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.


Momofuku’s Crack Pie…..with Nutella

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)


Adriano Zumbo “Tanzanie” cake

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.]


Chocolate Souffle Cake

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

1.Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and grease a springform tin.
2. Over a double boiler melt the butter and the chocolate together then take off the heat and cool slightly.
3. Beat the egg yolks with half the sugar  until pale orange, light and fluffy, and so that the beater creates ribbons through the mixture.
4. Using a rubber spatula fold the chocolate with the egg yolk mixture. Set aside.
5. In a ‘clean’ bowl with a clean whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until you reach thick glossy peaks. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites (be careful not to loose a lot of air out of the mixture)
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is just browning and it has risen up substantially.
7. Refrigerate while still in the pan for at least 3 hours (as you might break it if you took the springform off while it is still hot) then serve at room temperature with ice cream.

Beetroot Ravioli with goat’s cheese and sage butter

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.

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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

(serves 6)

pasta

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.

 

filling

300g marinated goat’s cheese (drained weight)

300g goat’s chevre

4tsps powdered sage

1. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth paste.

 

sauce

250g butter

fresh sage

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.


Fresh Scallop & Prawn Spaghetti

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

6 eggs

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.

sauce

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)

50g butter

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.


Spicy Date & Walnut Loaf

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

100g butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

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)


Flourless Mandarin and Almond Cake


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

6 mandarins

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.


Gazta Tarta – Cheesecake

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.

Gazta Tarta

8 serves

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

5 eggs

180g goat’s curd

125g (1/2 cup) thick plain yogurt

grated zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

40mL brandy

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.


“Green eggs and ham” (gluten free)

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 serving)

1/2 sheet gluten free puff pastry, thawed

2 eggs

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


My Yiayia’s Taramousalata


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.

Taramousalata

3 large potatoes, Boiled and mashed
1 onion
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.


2. Slowly add the potato until it gets thick and then add 3/4 cup oil. Blend. Then add 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Blend well.


3. As it starts to smooth out add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice until light and smooth and the texture looks like it does below.



Strawberry yogurt muffins

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

85g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
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.


Creme Brulee

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)

Creme Brulee

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!


Dark Chocolate Fondant

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

2 eggs

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.


Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

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)


Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

Perfect tart pastry

Caramel

1 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/3 cup water

135g unsalted butter

110ml pure cream

2tbsp sea salt

Ganache

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.


Seco de Cordero


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

Serves 6

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.


Dobos Torte

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.

This is my recipe, or the best I can devise as I did so many things impromptu, so I apologize if you end up with bowls of buttercream or toffee leftover.

Sponge

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

Caramel Syrup

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
200mls cream
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.

Chocolate buttercream

leftover caramel buttercream

200g dark chocolate, melted

1 cup cocoa

To assemble

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.

5. Slice thinly to serve. Enjoy.


Eating & Drinking Sydney – New food guide GIVEAWAY

Hi guys

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.

Start posting…..


Steak Diane with chips

This is the one thing my Dad requested for his birthday “I just want a really good steak diane, but not with mash, with crispy chips”. Ok Dad. Done!

I went to Pino’s Meats on President Ave to get the meat as they are a meat specialist and know their stuff. Everything is fresh and they cut to order. I ordered Scotch fillet as it has a good marbling of fat through it and will give this dish a good flavour.

Now, the second part of this dish are good chips. Recently I saw Heston Blumenthal on masterchef and I remember he talked about how to create the best chip. He said you need to boil the chips first and cool them so they are perfectly cooked once you deep fry them and so that you do not need to keep them in the oil a long time and burn them.

The only thing I would suggest doing which I did not is to get the right type of potato that he suggests, which are the charlotte or belle de fontenay varieties. Although my chips were well cooked, they did not stay crispy for long. I think maybe my oil was not hot enough either?

As you can see below, I like my steak quite rare, the opposite of my Dad who likes his well done. So I did it how he liked it, but for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the juices from this beautiful piece of meat (no sauce, my lactose intolerant stomach would have hated me!)

This is the real deal. I must admit it did look good. Dad was very very pleased and  enjoyed the meal thoroughly with a bottle of Katnook Estate 2006 Founders Block Shiraz.

Steak Diane

4 thick pieces of scotch fillet ~ 250g each

abuot 20 mushrooms

50g butter

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

300mL cream

1/2 cup brandy, plus some to deglaze

bunch chives

Cold half cooked potato chips

1.Before you cook the beef I would suggest start to cook the chips in hot oil as they take a while to cook. Drain on paper towel and season.

2. Cook beef to your liking. (If they are thick, brown well and then bake in the oven until cooked enough)

3. Deglaze the pan you cooked the beef in by pouring in a good splash of brandy. Then melt the butter and sautee down the mushrooms.

4. Add the dijon and worcestershire sauce and mix in well.  Then add the  brandy and cream and 1/2 the chives. Simmer.

5. Once the beef is done, let the steaks sit for a couple of minutes them slice. Arrange on the plate with the pink flesh facing up. Spoon over some sauce, and sprinkle with extra chives then stack some chips on the side.


Mini Pavlovas

Today is my Dad’s birthday and one of his favourite ‘cakes’ is Pavlova. Of course for his birthday I wanted to prepare a menu for him that he would really enjoy. I knew he would be opening a good bottle of wine for the evening, but dessert really has to cap it off.

Last time I tried to make meringue it did not work as the bowl I used was too shallow and the meringue went ALL OVER my kitchen, and I am not kidding. This time I used my newish kitchen aid which has amazing power and a deep bowl. Easy! I got glossy thick meringue in no time.

You have to lick the bowl….raw meringue is soooooo yummy. Even better when you sprinkle a little bit of cocoa on top!

I was a bit scared to dollop the meringue into blobs, and I would normally use a piping bag, but I lost my nozzled (of course, what timing!) So 2 spoons together worked ok. Then the cooking process is very slow. I even think I sped it up a little, but it will take more than an hour to cook at a very low heat ~90 degrees.

So now that the meringue is done, I have to work out what will go on top and if you know me, you know I don’t like to make things that are the norm, so today we will be playing with the meringue. I have made the bases plain, so that they are gooey in the center, but for the topping we cannot use just a plain whipped cream No no no. It must be more interesting.  I have decided to go with fruits for this ‘end of winter’ night and also so that we don’t finish on a really heavy dessert after steak and chips.

I found beautifully ripe mangoes at the fruit market so I decided to make a mango cream drizzles with passionfruit and grated chocolate. However these mangoes were very deceptive. They had a very strong aroma from them but when I blitzed them their flavour was almost absent. I folded the pulp through the whipped cream but still it was a flat flavour. I resurected it though, PHEW! I cannot have bad cream, as Dad absolutely loves whipped cream, so if I was going to flavour it it had to taste good. Unfortunately I did not have any limes which would have lifted the flavour with the acidity but I did have some left over lemon curd (as you do) in my fridge from last week, so a substantial amount of that in and now it tasted great. With the addition of some gelatin (just to make it a bit firmer after all the liquids I added ) I think it is done.

Now time to assemble. The scary part! I feel like one of the finalists in masterchef when they wer assembling Rene Redzepi’s snowman….so if they can do it surely I can too! I searched high and low for my piping bag as I can carefully pipe my mango lemon ‘mousse’ now on top in a neat pile then top with passionfruit and shavings of chocolate.

 

Meringue with mango lemon mousse

(makes 7 blobs)

6 egg whites

pinch salt

375g sugar

1 mango

300mls fresh cream

1/2 cup lemon curd

3 gold gelatine leaves

passionfruit

70% dark chocolate

1.Preheat oven to 90 degrees Celsius.

2. Put egg whites and salt in your kitchen aid and whip until stiff peaks. Then slowly add the sugar until thick and very glossy.

3. Using a piping bag, or spoons, put blobs on a flat tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 1 hour until outside and base is just set. Let cool.

4. Now prepare the cream. Pulp mango flesh and put through a sieve. Fold into cream.

5. Fold in lemon curd.

6. Melt gelatine leaves in a little bit of hot water until completely dissolved. (You may need to put the water and leaves in a pot and boil until dissolved). Pour into a seperate and let cool slightly so it does not curdle the cream. Then add to cream and mix in well. Refrigerate.

7. Take all of the passionfruit out of the shell. Set aside.

8. Grate dark chocolate and set aside.

9. To assemble, pipe some cream gently on top of the meringue, leaving a pit in the center. Spoon some passionfruit in the center of the cream and then sprinkle with some chocolate.


Lemon Curd Tart

I decided to make this tart after a challenge was given to me where someone said to me how HARD lemon curd tarts are to make. I thought pfft, they are not, I am confident I can make them well as I have done so in the past and they were very successful.

Unfortunately I did loose my recipe when my website was deleted so I had to do some research and play with the recipe before posting. I ended up using Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nursery’s recipe as a base and change it around a little. I like the curd to be quite tangy and sour as it balances the extreme richness of the butter and many yolks….also it allows you to pair it with creme fraiche or ice creme and still be balanced instead of just rich.

Basically you just need to make sure that when making the curd you do it slowly so it does not curdle, then you are set. I always use the same pastry recipe for most tarts and once the pastry is cooked you let it cool and fill it with your cooled curd.

This is my adapted recipe.

Use my perfect pastry recipe

9 egg yolks
4 lemons zested
3/4 cup lemon juice (but add it slowly and taste in between so it is to your liking)
250g sugar
300g butter

1. Using the perfect pastry recipe cook the tarts and let them cool.
2. In the meantime, over a low heat melt all the curd ingredients slowly, so it does not curdle (approx 10 minutes).
3. Pour mixture into another bowl and allow it to cool.
4. Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry cases, but do not overfill.
5. Bake in oven at 240C for 5-6 mins.
6. Cool to room temperature then place in fridge for 2 hours.
7. Serve with ice cream or creme fraiche.


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