Thursday, December 29, 2005

Traditional Trifle

Kind comments from KP, have prompted me to finish this post, with the addition of the recipe. I must say I have thought twice about whether I would share the recipe with anyone, as it is so basic, but it is always a hit and I have been designated the traditional trife maker for some time now, so it must be good despite its unpretentious ingredients.

I first encountered this recipe when I was 16/17 years of age at a school camp in the Gold Coast hinterland, my former typing and shorthand teacher showed me how to make it. Being a custard lover, I use this recipe because it doesn't include jelly in it.

Here goes:

I think the most important ingredient for a trifle, is the bowl you use, I bought this Krosno, 3 litre bowl a few years ago and have never looked back, most people who get to delve into its depths nearly always exclaim at its attractiveness and their reluctance to spoil the presentation nevertheless it all disappears.

You need:
2 packets of the jam rollettes
Fosters custard powder
1 and a half litres of milk
1/2 cup sugar (as per custard instructions)

Tinned peaches
whipping cream
toasted flaked almonds

I begin by making the custard as per the instructions on the packet, I really don't see the point in making custard from a recipe when I am using tinned peaches and jam rolletes - why go glamour on the custard!

Slice the jam rolls and line the bottom of the bowl and up the side about one row. Splash the sherry liberally over the cake, then line the bottom of the cake with some peaches. Top with custard to the level of the first row of the cake. Then line the custard with more cake then peaches making sure you make a row of peaches visable on the outside of the bowl, before lining the outside of the bowl with another row of sliced jam rolls. Fill with custard.

You could continue layering in this manner (remember to splash the sherry over any new cake you add!) though it is largely dependent on the size of your bowl, but remember to leave room for a final huge layer of whipped cream topped with flaked almonds which should be added to the trifle just prior to it being served.

Some tips:

I make the trife the day before it is served to let the sherry soak into the cake.

Make the custard thicker than the packet instructions i.e. maybe add a few more tablespoons of custard powder than is recommended.

When whipping the cream, add vanilla extract and icing sugar (about 1/2 cup for 600mls).

Okay there it is, my secret foodie shame a dish I have basically assembled only. Still I love this trifle and while it is completely bogus, I will make it every Christmas till the day I die.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

contents of Christmas goodie box: Iced gingerbread and Cranberry, pecan and white chocolate cookies.

My gift of christmas goodies this year

Christmas day food collage

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A reason to bake - I do need one!

It was because my sister bought me this little cookie spatular(sp?) that I decided to bake the pumpkin rock cakes with brown butter icing found at Esurientes. Well that and the fact I had to stay home with Elliot while he was sick for the 5th day in a row, I did however find out why he was so sick - Glandular Fever!

I knew I had a piece of pumpkin I hadn't used so it had to be these rock cakes. I was surprised though how many ingredients were in the recipe I kept having to come back and forward from my pantry to the computer. Now that is a new thing to consider in kitchen design three paces from your desktop screen to the pantry, the stove, sink and bench top!

I am not keen on sultanas too (like Niki) and decided to use some dried cranberries instead, I also decied to use pecans and walnuts as I keep a mix of them to use on my cereal most mornings.

Loving the collage!

Ingredients (Makes ~50)
125g / 4 oz butter, softened
150g / 5 oz plain flour
175 g / 6 oz soft brown sugar, lightly packed
225g / 8 oz canned pumpkin or cooked pumpkin
1 medium egg, beaten
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
125 g / 4 oz wholemeal flour
75g /3 oz pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
100g / 3 1/2 oz raisins
50g / 2 oz butter
225g / 8 oz icing sugar
2-3 tbsp milk

I cooked my pumpkin and mashed it with a fork.

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. Using an electric beaer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the plain flour, sugar, pumpkin, beaten egg, and beat with the mixer until mixed well.

3. Stir in the ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon on the vanilla essence and then sift in the baking powder, bicarb of soda and grated nutmeg. Beat the mixture until combined well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add the wholemeal flour, chopped nuts and raisins to the mixture and fold in with a metal spoon or rubber spatula until mixed thoroughly together.

5. Place teaspoonfuls about 5 cm/2 in apart on to the baking sheet. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are firm.

6. Remove biscuits from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat, until pale and just turning golden brown.

7. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar, remaining vanilla essence and milk, stirring. Drizzle over the cooled cookies and serve.

I found that my icing was too runny and had to leave it in the fridge for a while the icing also never completely set which I put down to it having butter so transporting these dudes was not without some hazard. I also used an organic icing sugar while in search of the unrefined icing sugar I discovered the organic icing sugar and decided to give it a whirl - I think it simply results in different coloured icing sugar though along with the brown butter it was always going to have a different colour anyway.


Smoked trout with potato salad

I am having lots more fun lately mucking around with Picasa so I felt better about posting the recipe for this salad from Bill Granger's Sydney Food even though I wasn't entirely happy with my photography.

I have made this salad twice this week, and it is a wonderful entree so easy to prepare and serve and actually quite light and fresh with it's creamy lemon mayonnaise combined with the silky and rich smoked trout. You can make the dressing and mayonnaise in advance and cut up most other ingredients so prior to serving you need only boil the potatoes and assemble the salad.

100 ml (3 1/2 oz) extra virgin olive oil
50 ml (1 3/4 oz) lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic crushed with a little sea salt
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped italian parsely
1/4 cup finely sliced spring (green) onions
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon baby capers
500g (1 lb) unpeeled waxy potatoes (chats or kipflers)
250 g smoked rainbow trout (skin and bones removed)
to serve - lemon mayonnaise

Place olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined. Stir in herbs, spring onions, celery and caperss.

Cook potatoes in a large saucepan full of salted boiling water until tender when pierced with a knife. Drian and allow to cool for 5 minutes before peeling and slicing. Add potatoes to dressing while still warm. Stir gently to combine.

Divide potato salad among four plates, top with flaked smoked trout and drizzle with lemon mayonnaise.

Lemon Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
50 ml ( 1 3/4 fl oz) lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black peper
100ml (3 1/3 fl oz) canol or other mild oil

Place egg yolk, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper in a bowl (or food processor) and whisk until combined. Add the oil drop by drop, whisking constantly. When the sauce start to thicken, add the oil in a steady stream until fully incorporated. If the mayonnaise is too thick, thin with a tablespoon of warm water. Keeps in refrigerator for 5 days.

P.S. I used some curly lettuce too.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

23rd post 5th line

I am awake this morning at 5.00am wondering what we are going to cook for an extra-special dinner tonight. And I thought I would do this meme as well, though I have another meme I have started and yet to finish!

So what was the fifth line:

"To get through one of these efforts means loads of stamina."

Oh so true today. We have only half formed the ideas for the dinner and it is going to be lots of work:

To drink: Moet
To eat: Smoked salmon on chive blini & Rare roast lamb on tapanade bruschetta

To drink: A Hollick Sauvignon Blanc
First course: Smoked trout and kipfler salad

To drink: A Pinot Noir
Main: Hand-made peking duck ravioli with asparagus and broccolini

Dessert wine: Cheese Course
Yet to be decided a creamy french brie and crusty bread.

Dessert: Raspberry Souffle

Okay I started the above on October 8 and I have finally returned to this post and am able to say that as things turned out, the entree was perfect and very little work was involved. Unfortunately I have no photographs of that dinner. In the end we did not make the dessert and had the cheeses instead due our having to make the pasta from scratch - which basically took the entire day!

November 6 - I finally get to return to this post having just farewelled our lunch guests - but this time I have photographs of the lunch we served so I wanted to post about it in its entirety. With this lunch I decided that I didn't want to prepare an entree so I decided to go into a bit more detail with the starters to have with the champagne. One canape I just cannot go past is the herbed pikelet - it is so easy to prepare and the results are very rewarding visually.

Herbed pikelets with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers, lemon and chives

I found the recipe for these pikelets in my littlest but handiest book called Small Food (snack-sized bits to share with friends) by Murdock Books. There are always things that I can pick from this book to serve to guests with champagne on arrival. Sometimes when I get that little bit stressed I almost call off making these pikelets off, but thank goodness I don't because they always make great first impressions

Herbed pikelet
1 cup self-raising flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsely
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage

smoked salmon
creme fraiche

Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually add the combined egges and milk, mixing the flour in slowly. When the flour is incorporated, add the parsely and sage and season well. Whisk until a smooth batter forms.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and spray with cooking oil spray. Drop heaped teaspoons of batter into the pan and flatten them to give 5cm circles. Cook until bubbles appear in the surface of the pikelet, then turn and brown the other side. Lift out to cool on a wire rack.

To top - take thin slices of salmon and cut into 1 cm wide strips and curl into a rosette. Drop half a teaspoon of creme fraiche on the pikelet then place rosette of salmon, a caper and a very small thin slice of lemon. Arrange chives on top.

Prosciutto and zucchini bruschetta (from a previous post)

Chilli and basil prawns with rocket bruschetta

With the bruschetta - I usually rub the toast with a clove of garlic and drizzle some extra virgin oil on top prior to placing the topping. These were green prawns that we marinated in basil oil, chilli and garlic and briefly sauteed prior to serving on top of the rocket - easy peasy.

Braised belly of pork in a rich glaze, truffled mash, asparagus and wilted spinach.

This main was incredibly easy to make. It is the first time I have worked with pork belly. I had been impressed a couple weeks early when my sister roasted a pork belly so I decided to see what else I could do with it. I found this recipe on the web and it is from Gordon Ramsey - it was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C the reduction which I spooned over the top really made it. I served it with a truffled mash - I used dutch cream potatoes, lots of cream and butter and after mixing through the truffle oil, for good measure I drizzled some basil oil over the top too.

1 whole pork belly joint, about 1kg
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
a head of garlic or 6 fat garlic cloves, peeled
100ml sherry vinegar
200ml soy sauce
1.5 litres brown chicken stock
5 star anise
20 coriander seeds
10 white peppercorns
10 black peppercorns

To prepare the pork, use a sharp filleting knife to cut off the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat about 5mm thick. Remove the rib bones and discard. Even out the thickness by taking a slice from any thicker areas and placing where meat is thinner. You should now have an even sheet of boned pork belly. Roll this up quite firmly and tie into a neat, even-shaped roll. (I did none of this I got my butcher to do it!)

Heat a shallow flameproof cast-iron casserole or deep saute pan (with lid) until you feel a strong heat rising. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the pork joint, turning until caramelised all over. Remove to a plate.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and saute the vegetables and garlic for about 5 minutes.
Deglaze with the sherry vinegar and cook until reduced by half, then return the pork joint to the pan, placing it on top of the vegetables. Pour in the soy sauce and stock, then add the whole spices. Bring to the boil and partially cover the pan. Braise slowly over a low heat, or in the oven at 170°C, Gas 3.

I took the lid off for the last 45 minutes.

Cook for 2- 3 hours, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until the meat feels very tender. To test, push a metal skewer into the middle of the joint; there should be a little resistance.

Lift out the meat and set aside to rest on a warmed plate. Strain the pan juices into a pan and bubble to reduce to a glossy brown glaze.

To serve, remove the string and cut the pork roll into portions, or thick slices. Arrange on warmed plates and surround with wilted spinach and steamed asparagus. Serve with pomme puree.

Chocolate cloud cake and strawberries

Of course Niki inspired me to make this it is Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Cloud Cake. I am resigned to the fact that eventually I will end up baking every single cake that Niki and Nigella has done or will do though it will take some time as I need reasons to bake and don't do so indiscriminately - I am so happy I finally had a reason to bake this one.
250g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids *
125g unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175g caster sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
23cm springform cake tin
For the cream topping:500ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)**
half teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC/gas mark 4. Line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate. Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 75g of the caster sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and orange zest.#

In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 100g of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools. When you are ready to eat, place the still tin-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its tin. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges: it's the crater look we're going for here. Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer. Serves 8-12

My extra notes
*I used two 100g Lindt 70% bars of chocolate and I don’t think the 50g made a huge difference
**I used brandy instead of cointreau and I also used the orange zest
#(I didn’t know how long to beat at this stage so I decided to beat the eggs and sugar till the mixture was creamy and thick)

Melbourne Cup - cupcakes

I love my recipe for the cupcakes it basically involves throwing everything together and beating it up, which is exactly what I did on Melbourne Cup eve evening in order to bake and decorate some 80 plus cup cakes for our Pink Thai themed lunch.

The cup cakes went down a treat our pink theme went particularly well - I just remembered I lost at the track but managed to pick up the best dressed at the office! I was particularly proud of the men who donned their best pink bits to participate the office was particularly pretty instead of drab that day. Funnily enough though the next day we three women from my team turned up the next day head to toe in black. Maybe it was the memories of celebrity head played on the day that made us think we better turn up and look like we mean business again!

Cup Cakes

125g. butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 heaped teaspoons butter
lemon juice


1. Pre-heat oven to 180deg.C. Line a 12 cup patty cake or muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until ingredients are just combined. Scrape down with spatula and beat again until the mixture is thick and has lightened in colour.

3. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into each patty case and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and the cakes spring back when gently pressed on the top. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

4. Combined icing sugar and butter in food process and process until well mixed. Add lemon juice, a little at a time, until icing is of spreadable consistency. Using a small icing palette or spatula, top each cake with icing and decorate as desired with silver or coloured cachous, chocolate sprinkles or hundreds and thousands or marshmallows cut into thirds width ways with some good kitchen shears.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A tale of two slices

It was the lemon slice show-cased here so beautifully that drew me back to making another slice. And it was the last drink of the evening - a passionfruit flavoured cocktail at the Lychee Lounge two weeks ago called the "Pavlova" that made me want to bake the Coconut and Passionfruit Slice from Bill Granger’s "Sydney Food".

The texture of this slice is more custard-like compared with the lemon slice, as this slice has eggs and cream as the main influences over the texture and it was the ricotta which exerted a influence over the cheese-cake like quality of the lemon slice. I am comparing because I like to know what might be expected from each slice.

The ingredients for the Coconut and Passionfruit slice remind me of a cocktail too, a modified pina colada - passionfruit instead of pineapple and minus the white rum. I wouldn’t mind turning this slice into a cocktail this summer.

Lemon and Ricotta slice

Coconut and passionfruit slice

Coconut and Passionfruit Slice

125g (4oz) butter
½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1 ½ cup (12fl oz) cream
1/3 cup plain flour
160ml (5 ½ fl oz) coconut milk
juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ cup (4fl oz) passionfruit
Preheat the oven to 180 c (350F).

Beat butter and sugar in bowl until light and creamy, add egg and vanilla essence and beat well. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until combined and the mixture forms a sticky dough.
Flour hands and press pastry evenly into the base of a greased and baking paper-lined tin ( 23cm x 23cm/ 9x9inch) Bake pasty base in oven for 15 minutes

Place eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale. Add coconut, flour, cream, coconut milk, lemon juice, zest and passionfruit pulp, and stir to combine. Pour filling over pastry base in the tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

When cool, slice into squares. Makes 20 square.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

bruschetta con zucchini e leg ham

I bought some gorgeous Italian pane yesterday, and we ate some of it mopping up the sauce on the veal that P made last night and then again for breakfast today. I let P sleep in of course and kept the children quiet, while I juiced about 20 cold oranges.

I then prepared a saute of fresh tomato and shallot and fried up some crispy bacon and made a herb omelette and filled it with rocket and chilli feta and served it with the toasted pane. I made P a nice flat white and woke him at 9am and let the children give him his gift and then lead him to the table which was set and had the paper ready for his perusal.

After breakfast I cleaned up and took the children shopping while P took some time to finish the paper on the lounge in the sun on the deck. When I returned I made the self-frosting cupcakes below. After that I thought, I have to use this marvellous pane again for lunch. I have made this bruschetta once a long time ago, but I have always remembered how much I enjoyed it. Before there was Nigella, there was Jamie and before there was Jamie there was the River Cafe girls, Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers. This recipe is from the Green book ( I also have yellow and blue and use them for inspiration when planning special dinners) which has many, many fantastic recipes for vegetables. The recipe actually calls for prosciutto and I tell you if I had remembered to buy some while I was out earlier I would have made it that way, but ham had to do and it was still very tasty, and the photograph doesn't do the zucchini, lemon and herb mixture justice at all.

Here is the recipe:

1.5 kg small firm zucchini, trimmed
3 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsely leaves
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
1 thick-skinned lemon, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled, 2 finely chopped
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices sourdough bread
extra virgin olive oil
18 slices prosciutto di parma or ham

Cut the zucchini in half lengthways and then in half again. Slice across into rough dice. Chop the herbs together. Peel the lemon, remove any white pith, then finely chop the peel ( or zest with a microplane if you have one).

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the chopped garlic and a few seconds later the zucchini. Stir to combine, keeping the heat up high. When the zucchini are beginning to brown, add half the herbs and salt. Put on the lid, lower the heat slightly, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for a further 10 minutes with the lid on.

Add the remaining herbs and half the lemon peel to the zucchini mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill the bread on both sides, rub with the whole garlic clove on one side only and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Spoon over the zucchini, sprinkle with the remaining lemon peel and serve with the prosciuto.

Self-frosting cupcakes

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise to many that I had to give these cupcakes a go, there are few food bloggers that haven't!

Anyway these are my efforts, I would appreciate a grading on the swirling I would give me a C+ when compared with many of the efforts on the various foodie sites like Barbara's, Niki's, Nic's, and chichajo's.

That doesn't mean however, that we should be comparing and grading our goods, these swirls are much like the food writers who produced them and are as individual as we are all -and that is despite our wanting to bake each other's goods;)because as it is said "copying is the sincerest form of flattery".

It also reminds me of a conversation I had earlier in the week when a very good friend was being very complimentary about my food blog and encouraging me to do further things with it and I replied to her that I am not a chef and am entirely derivative so I couldn't see how my work would stand out from anyone else's, and there were people on the net doing far better than I was though I am just happy in my little corner of the net doing my thang for myself as much as anyone else.

Anyway for my own sake I will post the recipe here too though variations and hints can be found on any of the above sites should I be the one to lead you into temptation..

140 grams butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
200 grams sifted plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
~1/3 cup Nutella (or other chocolate peanut butter spread), slightly warmed

Preheat oven to 165C.
Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don't worry if the batter doesn't look smooth. Add vanilla.

Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains ( I was lazy and used my electric beater for this part). I added a splash of milk here to loosen the batter very slightly as suggested by Niki.

Fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full (seemed to much for my cakes as those ones overflowed so I tried half for a smaller neater looking result). Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp chocolate spread (again I used just less than a small teaspoonful).

Swirl the spread in with a toothpick or knife point ( I used a wooden skewer) making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the spread. When I made the mistake of too much chocolate I put a small dob of batter on top and blended that in, cheating probably, but alls fair..when trying to get those damn swirls on top I say.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Strangely enough I made 15 though the recipe says you should produce 12. They were enjoyed by one and all.

One last aerial shot of those swirls before you give me the grade if you please!

Chilli and garlic peas

I made a special trip on the weekend to pick up these peas from a shop that a colleague at work told me about. It's an Indian food store and it is in a shopping centre which I rarely frequent but thought I would try and do my weekly shop there. I found it difficult to say the least. I must be getting older as I found it increasingly difficult as I went into each isle of the Action supermarket and couldn't find the things I was used to find in the place I usually find them at the Coles or the Woolworths shops I tend to use.

I was also disappointed with the butcher outside the supermarket as I was after some veal for a dish that P wanted to make that night, one of his specialities, thinly pounded veal wrapped in prosciutto and filled with boccincini, fresh oregano and lemon oil. I found the butcher's veal at an excellent price $14.99 per kilogram however I simply did not think that it was veal - I would call it yearling it was far to deep a colour to be veal, I almost wanted to tell him that I was happy to purchase it on the basis that it was yearling but felt gyped that he was calling it veal. I wouldn't mind paying more if he actually could provide veal in fact I would pay more! Nevertheless I purchased the veal yearling and took it home and said to P not to consider it veal and on that basis we enjoyed our meal.

I also just couldn't finish my shop in this centre and had to pack it in purchase what I had so far and drive to my usual shopping centre. Ah familiarity... I can't believe I how much I need it in shopping aisles.

Back to the peas, they were worth the trip and I could imagine eating them on a hot afternoon while drinking a Corona with a bit of lime in the neck of the bottle, like the complete tosser that I can be when I want to be..

Farmers' markets goods

Pistachio and macadamia brownie

I went to the Farmer's markets last Saturday morning as usual, 6amish and when it starts getting light around 5am I will be going at 5.30am. I like to avoid the crowds and the parking problems that come with attending later.

Apart from my usual purchases which includes, the rice and polenta loaf from Sol Breads, the free range and organic eggs, flowers and herbs to pot and some herbs to eat, I sometimes treat the kids,myself and buy some sweet treaties. One of my favourite stalls is a bakery one called Le Sebastian which apart from having irresistible goods has a young man with an equally irresistable French accent and if he is not busy I cheekily get him to tell me what is on offer without any intention of buying more than I actually have in mind.

Some of the things I have purchased have included the raspberry and almond croissants, the buttery shortbread biscuits sandwiched with strawberry or lemon cream ( a steal at 3 for $2!) and these gorgeous brownies (another steal at $3), which I actually do take home and offer to the children after they have their freshly boiled egg and ciabatta toast. This bakery also does beautiful sour dough bread and on occassion I have purchased a loaf for a special dinner.

Last week I also found the gorgeous and whimsical white chocolate brownie (below) with the enchanting candy pink icing ($2 each!). They were not as rich as the dark chocolate brownie and had quite an intense vanilla flavour I would probably purchase them again, however Elliot wasn't so keen on the icing with the sugar crystals on top.

It has taken me years but I have finally learned some restraint when shopping at the Farmer's markets and I don't buy smoked trout, dips, cheeses, breads and meats (Gungel pork, mandalong lamb, spatchcock, duck etc) there every time, just when I really, really need too. I will probably post next week about some delicious fudge I have been buying there too, I can't this time because I didn't photograph it before all of it was consumed!

White chocolate brownies with candy pink icing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chocolate Orange Cake

Word can't describe how lovely this cake actually is, light, moist, decadent, everyone who tried it raved. I made this cake on the Brisbane Exhibition Show day during my prolific afternoon of baking and cooking, referred to in the next post.

Inspired by Niki's gorgeous cake combined with the fact that I had just purchased Nigella Lawson's Feast the day before made my baking this cake a fate accomplii.

I decided to take to work to treat my colleagues and they expressed their appreciation prolifically, so it will be more cake for them another day.

I decided to use Niki's lovely ganache to the top and everyone who tried it said they couldn't imagine the cake without it. I will have to make sure that next time, I let the ganache cool some more before applying to the cake. I will leave you to discover the recipe for the ganache on Niki's blog but I will add the recipe for the cake here for posterity:

1 large navel orange (approx 400g)
6 eggs
1 heaped tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g ground salmonds
250g caster sugar
50g cocoa
orange peel for decoration if wanted

Preheat the oven to 180c. Butter and line a 20cm springform tin.

Put the whole orange in a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft. Drain and, when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips. Then pulp everything- pith, peel and all - in a food processor.

Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarb of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run the motor until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but still slightly knobbly with the flecks of pureed orange.

Pour into the tin and bake for an hour by which time the cake tester should come out clean. Check after 45minutes in case you need to cover with foil to prevent the cake burning before it is cooked through or it may just need less than an hour depending on the oven.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin, on a cooling rack.

Make ganache as per Niki's recipe however make sure you leave to cool and thicken. I put mine on prematurely and lost quite a bit of ganache as it spilled onto the plate when still runny.

Zest some orange peel and decorate.

Flourless chocolate and orange cake.

Cranberry, white chocolate and pecan cookies

I had a very prolific Wednesday afternoon in the kitchen last week during our public holiday for the Brisbane Exhibition. I made sushi, minted pea soup, butter chicken, a flourless chocolate and orange cake (see above) and two batches of these cookies.

I was inspired to cook after purchasing Nigella Lawson's Feast from the ABC Shop for the price of $40. God I love a bargain.

First up I had to make these cookies as up until now I have only been making Bill Granger's Chocolate Chip Cookies which are fantastic but I really need to stretch my repartoire.

These biscuits are lovely, smooth white chocolate, brown sugar for the chewy caramelisation and then cruncy pecans and piquant craisins a great combination.

As usual I made a double batch and then promptly gave lots away. I also didn't do the resting in the fridge I just forgot so I don't think it will make any difference if you do or don't. I made sure most of my biscuits were pale golden as I don't like the white chocolate to be burnt or the cookies to be too hard.

Elliot enjoyed helping me by cutting the chocolate, pecans and craisins. I was taking photographs he then tried to get into every one, of course because I asked him to step aside at first, his feelings were hurt, so by the time I invited him to participate he had spat the dummy and this photograph is the result.

Cranberry and White chocolate Cookies
140g flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt 75g rolled oats
125g soft unsalted butter
75g dark sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans roughly chopped
140g white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180c

Measure out flour, baking powder and rolled oats into a bowl.

Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy then beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and oat mixture and then fold in the cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips or white chocolate, chopped into small dice. Set the bowl of biscuit dough in the fridge for 10 –15 minutes.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking tray, and squish the dough balls down with a fork. Cook for 15 minutes, when ready, the cookies will be tinged a pale gold, but be too soft to lift immediately off the tray, so leave the tray on a cool surface and let them harden for 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula or whatever to cool fully on a wire rack.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Cheesy Mac

Macaroni Cheese

To me the most wonderful comfort food involves pasta and cheese and pork i.e. pasta carbonara would have to be my all-time favourite but macaroni cheese would have to be close for uncomplicated food served hot and fast.

I used a recipe from the wonderful Delicious magazine as made by Jill Dupleix:

300g macaroni or other short pasta
2 thick slices (250g) leg ham, chopped
2 tbs dried breadcrumbs
1 tbs grated parmesan

50g unsalted butter
1/3 cup (50g)plain flour
600ml milk, heated
1 cup (75g) parmesan
1 cup (75g) grated guyere or cheddar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp paprika

Preheat the over to 200c
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water till al dente and drain.

Melt butter over low heat and sprinkle with the flour and sir well with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add half the milk, stirring well, until the sauce thickens. Gradually add remaining milk, stirring until thick but still runny. Stir for a further minute, then add the cheeses, mustard, paprika, sea salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes, adding a little more milk or water if too thick. Stir in ham.

Arrange a layer of pasta in the base of four individual 2 cup (500ml) buttered ovenproof dishes (or 1 large 30cm x 20cm dish), then spoon on plenty of sauce, more pasta, then more sauce. Stir gently then scatter tops with the bread crumbs and paremsan. Bake for 30minutes until bubbling and brown.

Fresh Tuna, prawns, avocado on brown sushi rice.

I simply cannot resist the lure of lovely fresh red tuna. While out grocery shopping I found it and as soon as I saw it started to think of making some sushi maki as soon as I returned home. Alas, once home I realised that I should have bought some nori as well so I had to invent this dish instead.

I used brown rice which doesn't have the requisite starch that you need for making sushi maki so it was probably a good idea to have it in a bowl. There really isn't much of a recipe as such for this dish. I simply boiled the brown rice and when it was ready I added some sweetened vinegar and tossed through. I use white vinegar about 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt. I didn't make that much rice probably only a cup full as sushi rice does not keep.

I cut some of the most perfect looking avocado and peeled some of the prawns I brought home from shopping as well. I mixed some tamari and wasabi and drizzled it over my concoction and I would have to say it satisfied my desire for a sushi like dish. I have since rectified my mistake of not having any nori at hand and took a trip to China town last week, and purchased 50 sheets for $5.00 so I can have sushi whenever I like.

I can't wait to get back to China town I need to have a closer look at some of the many sauces they have in stock and want to buy some coconut vinegar - I need to know how to use it too and I am looking forward to finding out.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Honey-roasted pumpkin and spinach risotto

This was my dinner tonight and my dinner alone, P is not a big fan of rice dishes and no meat,unfortunately for him as far as I am concerned.

I found the recipe in my friend's copy of this magazine. I have always thought this was a quality foodie magazine, but the latest issue has convinced me that a subscription is definately in order.

I found at least four things I must cook, the first is out of the way, being the risotto for tonight's dinner. On the weekend I want to give the red roast duck curry a whirl. For a dinner with my in-laws date yet to be determined I think I can safely say I won't be able to beat the dessert on the cover, brownie pudding with chocolate sauce. And for a mid-week vegetarian soup next week I really must try the minted pea soup.

I thought the risotto turned out very well and I loved the honey flavoured pumpkin mixed with the lemon and yoghurt. However I did alter the recipe as it used mascarpone instead of yoghurt and italian parsley instead of baby spinach and I also embellished with some dried chillies.

So I will present the recipe as provided in the article with my alternatives and additions in italics. Because if I had mascarpone on hand I bloody well would have used it!

Serves 4-6
900g pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2tbs honey, plus extra to drizzle
850ml vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2cm piece of ginger grated
1 cup arborio rice
2/3cup white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish (baby spinach)
2 tbs mascarpone, plus extra to serve (plain yoghurt)

Preheat the over to 220c
Lay pumpkin in an even layer on a large baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of honey, tossing well to coat each piece. Roast for a further 15 minutes until cooked and golden.

Place stock in a saucepn and keep at a simmer over low heat.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-based pan over low heat. Add onion and stir for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add celery and cook for 1 minute, then add ginger and rice and cook for a further minute, stirring to coat grains. At this point I smashed two dried red chillies in my pestle and mortar and added them to the rice.

Increase heat to medium-low, add wine and cook until absorbed. Add stock a ladleful at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked but still firm to the bite

(It took me at least 30 minutes which has always been a standard time for making risotto for me. I like my risotto reasonably wet as well so when I add the last ladleful of stock it is not to be completely incorporated into the rice but allow a bit of a gravy to develop).

Add lemon juice, pumpkin and parsley (baby spinach). Season, then stir in mascarpone (I omitted this step for the yoghurt as I thought with the lemon it would be tangy enough and it didn't need more from the yoghurt. Also I decided not to season as I went a bit heavy on the salt on the pumpkin. When I tipped the roasted pumpkin into the risotto it came with seasoned olive oil and honey juices which really added quite a bit of flavour).

Serve with a dollop of mascarpone (yoghurt), a drizzle of honey (damn forgot to do that!) and extra parsley.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A "special" meal. Roast chicken and greek potatoes.

Sunday morning - such a change from two weeks ago, a reprieve from Gabriella and I get to wake up at 7.45am instead of 6.30am and another reprieve and I decide to cook one breakfast for absolutely everyone. Bill Granger's scrambled eggs, bacon and fried Turish bread - very indulgent as I usually steer clear of dairy, red meat and wheat bread.

This weekend I have been pleasantly pleased with having obtained some ingredients "on special" however I thought the meal I produced with them has so far been quite special (I also bought some chicken legs and yellow peas, I am marinating the chicken legs for tandoori chicken, and preparing the peas for a dahl).

I love a bargain and must tell what I paid for my ingredients the 2 kg cornfed chicken was $5.99 and had to be used by Saturday, and the 1.5kg packet of pontiac potatoes were $1.40.

Very basic ingredients and this is how I prepared them for the final dinner of the week long celebration of P's birthday:
The chicken I decided to stuff with a gluten-free mixture of toasted pinenuts, chopped apricot, coucous, shallot and a piece of crumbled gluten-free bread mixed together with one egg.

On the outside of the chicken I used my pestle and mortar to pound some basil leaves, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper and generously coated every nook and cranny of my lovely yellow chicken.

The potatoes are prepared via a recipe from my sister and is called Greek Potatoes. The gorgeous pre-preparation colours of red, white and green give way to the delicious caramel colours below and what has been scrumptiously carmelised are the potatoes cut into halves (and sometimes quartered if large), roughly cut chunks of red onion and roughly smashed bulbs garlic. The dish is seasoned with ground pepper and salt and liberally coated with olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Then water is added to about halfway mark of the dish. Lots of fresh oregano is scattered throughout the potatoes.Due to the water the potatoes require a fair bit of baking to reduce and carmelise.

I put the potatoes in a hot oven with the chicken, for about one and a half hours and made sure I turned them occassionally and kept an eye on them to ensure they did not dry prematurely or burn.

The finished chicken.

The Greek potatoes in all of their caramelised goodness:

Finally the plated product.

I decided to keep the green vegetables simple and I sauteed some onion and bacon and added some chicken stock, green beans and celery.

When making gravy I always roast my meat on a rack and in the roasting tray keep some water. After I remove the meat from the rack to rest, I pour the remaining juices into a saucepan and usually thicken with some flour, however this time I used cornflour I was trying to keep to my gluten-free theme.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Coffee and Chocolate Fudge cake

Coffee and Chocolate Fudge cake.

I found the recipe for this cake on this fabulous weblog and I am completely in awe and enamoured of Niki's cake making and decorating skills. Niki's recipe can be found in her index under chocolate cake (note to self must make time to work on my index - I have started really)!

Some of the high points about this cake - I used chocolate coated bailey's coffee beans on top and flavoured the chocolate fudge with kahlua and caramelised walnuts are THE BEST and were not that hard to make!

Another little lesson I would like to pass on. This cake was made by me on Sunday morning for the celebration of a number of family birthdays and I was quietly very pleased with myself and quite confident after having taken a few dozen photographs of my latest accomplishment. But then......... what is the saying "with pride comes a fall". I was feeling sooooo confident I thought quite stupidly that I could push the cake on it's plate into the inverted tupperware cake box lid - alas it was not to be. As stable as stiffly whipped coffee cream can be on a very cold day in Brisbane in mid July it was not stiff enough to support my vainglorious efforts and the cake actually ended up looking somewhat different just prior to being transported to the actual party. I decided not to be so vain as to not have any photographic evidence of my folly and a photograph would serve as a timely reminder that I can still have some lessons to learn about confidence and complacency.

Very easy upside down pear and caramel cake

I had to decide very quickly on Friday afternoon what dessert I would make and take to our friend's place for dinner. I did not want to waste time shopping or making pastry so this was the best product I could come up with the ingredients on hand - brown sugar, walnuts and a tin of pears. I thought a pudding would suit the cold evening as well then remembered how people enjoyed eating this pudding-like pear cake with caramel sauce all rolled into one last time I made it.

I made it once many years ago but was unable to find the same recipe I found this recipe on the internet at this address. I decided to dot some walnuts throughout the bottom of the cake as well. It smells divine whilst baking all that caramelly goodness. The other thing is that it is quite a big cake and would serve 8 people quite easily. It is also a cake which is quite lovely served warm with ice-cream and cream and extra caramel sauce though I didn't remember about the need for extra caramel sauce till later that night.

Despite the link above I will repeat the recipe here in case that link ever dies.

Pear Caramel Cake

340g unsalted butter
175g brown sugar
4 ripe pears (or one tin of pears)
300g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground mixed spice
250ml milk

Melt 170g butter in a heavy based saucepan over low heat. Pour into a prepared 26cm round springform pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter.

Peel, core and cut pears into thick slices arranging over the base of the pan, slightly overlapping. ( A small tin of pears works very well too)

Beat remaining butter and caster sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder and spices into bowl and fold in.

Fold in milk and mix gently by hand to form a smooth batter. Spread batter over pears being careful not to move any. Bake in a pre-heated 180 C oven for 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, invert onto a serving plate and serve immediately.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Mini whisk

Mini whisk - my best gadget friend in the kitchen this morning.

I love this mini whisk! This morning it was there for me when I needed some assistance.

A few minutes ago, just after 10am I mentioned to P that since I had been up since 6.15am this morning with Gabriella, I had managed to cook and serve about 5 different things:

1. Peanut butter on mult-grain toast with some warmed milk and a glass of pear juice - Gabriella.

2. Smoked salmon and cream cheese omelette with a splash of hollandaise on toast for my nephew Mason and myself. Soy milk flat whites for me.

3. Boiled egg for Elliot.

4. Coconut crumpets and lemon butter for my sister and a much later second course for Mason and me.

5. Fried egg on pan-fried ham with avocado and pesto on toast and a side of grilled tomato for P and a couple of flat whites.

What else do you do on Sunday morning from 6.30am, when the wind is blowing an icy gale outside? My making some hot breakfasts seemed like the best answer.

Back to my sad little mini whisk, I think he should be much happier given how much I enjoy using him i.e. for the omelette, for uncurdling my lemon butter, for reconstituting my hollandaise (which had separated on being re-warmed). I also use him for dressings, gravys and much more.

My day ahead involves domestic duties and planning a roast pork for dinner tonight. I have yet to figure out how I want some sage to feature in the pork. I also get to have some delicious seafood chowder for lunch.

I then have to think about my dinner and lunches for next week, as during the week I have a gluten free, no red meat and a mainly dairy-free, mostly vegetarian diet. Obviously I splurge on the weekend - well I think 2 days of treats is better for me then 7 days!

So to prevent me having to cook 2 different dinners every night (because P refuses to adopt a meat-free dining working week!) when I really don't have the time, I try to make myself a big batch of vegetable soup, last week it was a pureed cauliflower with a dollop ofbasil and walnut pesto for a few nights.

I was also heavily into pumpkin. One night I sauteed some diced pumpkin in nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves to which I added some soy,chillie and honey marinated tofu - this was eaten with brown rice and some english spinach. Another night it was soba noodles tossed in sesame oil, peanut oil and chillie (inspired by delicious days) More adventures with tofu involved a slightly curried version, again the tofu had been marinated - in soy,lime juice and curry powder was then stir fried with shallots, slivered almonds, carrots and dried apricots and served on basmati rice.

I am thinking this week there will be more pumpkin, brown rice, soba noodles, rice noodles, broccoli, zucchini and tofu to feature. I should be doing up a soup but I can't decide what sort maybe a batch of red lentil and vegetable soup -though I wouldn't mind trying a yellow split pea soup for a change. Who knows plenty to mull over.

Oops nearly forgot I will also have to stew some pears in some brown sugar and spices to add to my pecans which I put over my porridge in the morning.

Serve of seafood and pumpkin chowder

Serve of seafood and pumpkin chowder

Some very good friends of mine recently brought a huge bowl of seafood chowder to share with me at work. It was a white creamy soup, jam packed with lots of lovely seafood – scallops, calamari, mussels and prawns being the predominant ingredients.

It was the most gorgeous comfort food to imbibe on a chilly day and as I wanted to make some this evening I tracked down a few recipes on the internet and did some adapting to my tastes. I would say my biggest influence though was the clam chowder recipe from Larouse.

Some of the recipes I located used potatoes, I am not a huge fan of the texture of potatoes in a soup plus I prefer to steer clear of them so I substituted pumpkin for potato. I didn’t use a lot of pumpkin just enough to provide an golden/orange tone to the colour of the soup.

I also used cream, though I dabbled with the thought of light carnation milk but then when I had purchased such gorgeous seafood I think some light tinned cream just wouldn't do my chowder justice plus it's not like I make seafood chowder every weekend.... maybe that will change.

1 medium onion
3 rashers bacon diced
1 red/green capsicum
3 stalks celery
small piece of pumpkin
few dried red chillies finely diced

1.5 litres vegetable stock*
salt and pepper
Italian Parsley

lots of mussels (12)
couple of dozen green prawns,
3 -4 tubes of cleaned calamari cut into strips,
couple of dozen scallops,
1 fillet white flesh fish

300mls cream**
40 grams butter
40 grams of plain flour (I think? I used 3 heaped wooden spoonfuls not a flat wooden spoon hope that helps)

Remove the rind from the bacon and simmer the bacon in water for a few minutes then drain and dice.

Add the diced bacon to the finely diced onion, capsicum, celery, pumpkin and red chillies and saute in some garlic infused olive oil for 5 - 10 minutes, do not allow the ingredients to brown. Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes. (I didn't do it, but in retrospect I think a liberal splash of white wine wouldn't have hurt at this stage)

While the vegetable stock is simmering, in a separate saucepan melt the butter but don't allow it to brown then add the plain flour stirring it until it mixes into a smooth paste. Stir the flour and butter in the saucepan on medium heat for 3 minutes then remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cream, mixing until smooth and there are no lumps.

Add the roux to the vegetable stock and mix through thoroughly until the chowder is heated through. Add the seafood and mix in thoroughly. I then turned the chowder off and let it stand till I was ready to serve.

When I reheated the chowder I did so until the seafood flesh was firm. I then seasoned with salt and white pepper. Prior to serving the chowder I scattered some finely chopped Italian Parsley over it.

I also decided to serve the chowder with some garlic bread which I made from some long bread rolls cut in half with lashings of garlic butter dotted with some parsley. The garlic butter I quickly mashed together with my pestle and mortar and then toasted the bread under the grill (broiler).

*I decided against using a fish stock and I used vegetable stock instead. My reason being, that I didn't want an intense seafood flavour from the start, I wanted the flavour from the seafood I was adding to eventually infuse the chowder as I reheated it prior to serving. **I found that the chowder became thin on reheating so I found myself quickly thickening again with a cornflour paste which I had made with milk. I think the thickness of the chowder is a personal preference, in this case I wanted something that was about the thickness of a custard which in turn made the soup extremely filling.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pot of seafood and pumpkin chowder

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lemon - Almond Butter Cake

I found the recipe for this cake in the New York Times in the Dining and Wine section on the on-line version of this publication a few years ago. I made this cake last night and it is continuing with my passion for lemon flavoured desserts and lemon butter.

The last time I made this cake was 2002 and baked it to take to work nd share with colleagues and that is exactly what I did again today. It was still as good as I remembered.

As with most recipes from U.S publications the measurements are somewhat unfamiliar to us Antipodes. One day I hope to convert it to grams for convenience sake but that doesn't mean it isn't that difficult to work with the recipe below just a bit fiddly:

Lemon-Almond Butter Cake
(adapted from ‘in the Hands of a Chef")

For the lemon curd
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
3/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (I use a half a cup - no big deal about being exact!)
4 extra-large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed

For the cake
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 extra large eggs
½ cup ground toasted almonds
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds
About ½ cup heavy cream for garnish
1 tablespoon almond liqueur (optional)

For the curd – combine zest, juice, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl, and beat well. Add butter, and place over a saucepan full of simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until mixture thickens into curd, about 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl, and press plastic wrap onto suface to keep skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, at least 1 ½ hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees (I didn't convert exactly and decided to use about 180 degrees C ).

Grease 9 inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon butter, and dust with 1 tablespoon flour, shaking out excess. I also used some silicone paper on the base of the pan.

With an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter and 1 cup sugar together until light and fluffy.

Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt, and stir in. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until they start to foam. Do not over beat or the cake will be tough.

Add eggs and ground almonds to batter and mix well. Scrape batter into the prepared pan, drop 8 individual tablespoons of lemon curd around the perimeter of the batter, leaving a 1 inch border, and taking care to space drops evenly.

Drop 3 to 4 tablespoons of curd in the centre of the batter. Refrigerate remaining curd for another use. Sprinkle the cake with toasted almonds and 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, depending on taste.

Bake until cake is toasty brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the cake (not the curd) comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Let cool on rack 10 minutes, then remove side of pan, and cool completely. Whip cream with almond liqueur. Present cake at table and offer whipped cream on the side.

Some of my experiences with this recipe - I used an 8 inch pan and was only able to fit six tablespoons of curd about the perimeter of the pan and drop two in the middle.

The sprinkle of sugar isn't really necessary - given the one cup in the batter. I haven't thought it necessary to use the almond essence in the whipped cream but do think the whipped cream is essential with such a dense cake.

More cake

Quick canapes

I made these canapes on Sunday night before P's mother and grandmother came for some roast lamb. We didn't have lunch so I decided to serve something very light to cut our appetites before serving the main course so I had to come up with whatever I happened to have on hand.

There are only two types of canapes here - one is smoked salmon,caper, chives and sour cream and the other is blue cheese, walnut and pear. I served the salmon on some little toasts I made by cutting out some circles of bread (I used multi-grain because that's all we had but any bread is fine) brushing the circles with some garlic oil on both side and putting on a tray in the oven for 5 minutes till crisp. The cheese is served on a falwasser cracker.

I actually quite like the idea of serving an assortment of canapes before a main course in the place of an entree however most the time if it is a leisurely dinner I will do about 4-6 only to have with some champagne over the years between my sister-in-law and her husband and P and I we have come up some tasty morsels.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Roast pork

Traditional Roast pork

I made this roast pork some time ago, I think since then there has also been a roast chicken and a roast lamb. But this one was the only one I had the chance to photograph. It is very simple in its appearance which is in fact what I was aiming for. I am no expert in roasting having only ventured into making a roast by myself after my good friend P and his English ex-pat wife stayed with us and treated us to roast pork and roast beef with yorkshire pudding last winter.

They really got me over my apprehension about roasting I have also viewed it as quite a logistical nightmare, ensuring everything was golden brown, meat perfectly cooked and presented piping hot to the table with a steamy jug of gravy.

I have reached my idealised roast heights yet, but I am getting there and am moving out of entirely novice territory. I have made a habit of roasting at least once on the weekend now that it is cool. Roast pork and crackling is one of P's favourites. I have fallen into a habit of roasting a minimum of vegetables, potato, carrots, pumpkin. This time I added parsnip and some baked garlic. For green vegetables I simply use some frozen baby peas and I make my gravy from the drippings left in the baking tray.

I also bake my meat on a rack and ensure there is water in the base of the tray at all times so the meat is never dry. When roasting pork I rub the pieces with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Hasselback is my preferred style of potato. The Hasselback potato involves cutting a peeled potato in half and using small slices almost all the way through the potato. I employ a hint that I read somewhere which ensures that you don't end up cutting too far through the potato and end up with quarters instead. I line the half potato between two chop sticks and that way the chop sticks form a barrier and prevent the knife slicing through.

I have become better with browning my vegetables since taking this last photgraph as my son insists on "golden roast potatoes". Last week when roasting some lamb, I par-cooked the hasselback potatoes in the microwave and coated them with some seasoned plain flour and splashed some garlic infused olive oil over them. Plus I cooked them on baking paper.

With the pumpkin and carrots I also coated them with seasoned flour splashed them with the garlic infused olive oil and cooked them on baking paper and put them in some time after the potatoes so I could ensure the pumpkin was not over cooked.

What I love about my adventures with roasting is that I am becoming much more expert at roasting the vegetables in conjunction with the meat and being able to serve an entirely warm meal to everyone at the table. I have always had so much trouble coordinating the final parts of the roast but practice in roasting appears to truly make perfect or at least better.

My ambition is to do that roast beef with my own yorkshire pudding I feel that will be the true test of my roasting skills, I would love to hear of anyone's adventures with roasting beef and what a good cut to use is, plus any hints on yorkshire puddings.

Coconut crumpets with lemon butter

This morning I just had to finally make the coconut crumpets I have up until now only been able to purchase. I think they turned out pretty well, though I made way too many for just P and I and I had to freeze the remainder. Nevertheless, it was much easier than I imagined. I made the lemon butter while the mixture was standing so it was a little warmer than it should have been, but it was still damn good.

Coconut crumpets with lemon butter
(Makes two dozen crumpet in egg rings)

1 sachet (7g) dried instant yeast or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
3 cups (450g) plain flour
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1 teaspoon sugar
250ml milk
375ml water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Sift yeast, flour and sugar into medium bowl.
Heat milk and water together in small saucepan, or microwave, until it reaches blood temperature. Whisk milk mixture gradually into flour mixture until a smooth batter is formed. Cover, allow to stand 1 hour. (Heat oven to 200 degrees C then turn off and let the mixture stand in there for one hour or until doubled in volume)

When ready to cook, stir in salt and bicarbonate of soda. Heat heavy pan (my le creuset pan was perfect) until a small knob of butter browns and burns within 10 seconds. Wipe burnt butter off pan.

Make sure batter is consistency of pouring cream. If it is too runny it will run out of the moulds, if too thick, the bubbles that form and characterise a crumpet will not form. If too thin, thicken with a little extra flour. If too thick, thin with a little warm water. It is best to try cooking one crumpet before altering the consistency as you will have a better guide of what is too thick or too thin.Place egg rings, biscuit cutters or muffin rings onto pan. Spray lightly with spray oil to lightly coat. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons mixture into rings or cutters. Do not fill too full as mixture will burn before it cooks through. You may have to reduce temperature if bases are burning before tops have dried out.Cook crumpet without moving until bubbles have formed on the surface and the top has a dried out look. Flip egg ring and crumpet to cook top. Allow to cook only briefly to lightly brown the top.

Allow to cook only briefly to lightly brown the tops. Eat immediately with butter and home-made jam or honey, or caramelised bananas or lemon butter.

Lemon butter
I have learned how to use my microwave to make lemon butter and hollandaise sauce so it is extremely quick and easy.

In a small bowl add two eggs, ¼ cup of caster sugar, and the juice and zest of one lemon and whisk together. In a separate bowl, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Add the melted butter to the egg mixture and whisk again. Place in the oven then on half or three-quarter power level begin cooking for 3 minutes checking every 30 to 45 seconds and whisking again. Lemon butter is done when it is a thick consistency.
You could strain the butter to remove the zest, however I am a big fan of the zest and never bother straining. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap pressing down on the surface of the mixture so a skin will not form and put in the refrigerator to cool.

Smoked salmon,eggs and hollandaise

This photograph is of Paul's eggs I like mine with baby spinach too.

An old post I am finally up-dating with some details.

This hollandaise was made on soy butter, a small gesture to reduce the impact of the cholestorol laden nature of this breakfast indulgence.

2 toasted crumpets
avocado on each toasted crumpet or pesto if you have some handy
smoked salmon for each crumpet
2 poached eggs for each crumpet
hollandaise sauce
freshly ground pepper

I like to poach my eggs in a large saute pan of hot water (with a dash of vinegar in the just simmering water) by breaking the egg onto a saucer then swirling the hot water with a spoon and sliding in the egg. Using this method I am able to cook 4 eggs fairly quickly.

I make the hollandaise in the microwave and my measurements are a bit slap dash.

Put 2 egg yolks in a medium bowl, add some white pepper and sea salt to taste (just a pinch) and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and whisk together till combined. In a separate bowl melt about 80 grams of butter in the microwave and add to the egg mixture and combine with a whisk.

Then on either 1/2 power or 3/4 power place the egg and butter mixture in the microwave and in short bursts (45second and less as you progress) cook the mixture - taking it out at intervals and whisking. The mixture is done when it is like a thick pouring custard.

About Me

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Mother of two with one of each. Wife of one.Dogless. Busy working five days a week, baking and cooking when time allows. Writing rarely these days. Wishing I had time to read more often.

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