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.
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
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.
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.