Friday, February 29, 2008

Sorry, no bread today

If you have come to visit me in the hope of seeing some delicious french bread, I'm afraid you will be disappointed. Life defeated good intentions this month.

Do not despair though, there are hundreds of talented daring bakers out there sharing their gorgeous bread creations. You can find them here. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Choco Hoto Pots

If you are a regular reader of this blog you would be excused for thinking that I do not like Nigella Lawson very much. I have been known to gently mock her on a few occasions. But I am actually a fan.

Admittedley, I would be even more of a fan if she stopped abusing adjectives, pulled her hair away from her face and more importantly the food, and stopped using that two handled knife for silly things - like chopping a single garlic clove (does she have shares in the company or something?). But these are small things. I can't help but admire her indulgent ways and the obvious pleasure she takes from it.

So for the past few weeks, I have been happily tuning into Feast. Enjoying it thoroughly, but not particularly inspired by anything. Until THIS...

Choco hoto pots. I immediately grabbed a pen and paper, scribbled down the recipe and marched into the kitchen. After half an hour or so, they came out of the oven. Ten or so cooling minutes later, in went the spoon and OH MY!!!

The top is a crackly crust, the outside is moist fudgy cakey goodness and the centre is warm molten chocolate. So good. And so fast. They take no time at all.

My only real downside is that they are very sweet. Maybe I will cut back on the sugar a wee bit next time. And there will be a next time.

Choco Hoto Pots
(adapted from Nigella's Feast TV show)

Melt 175gm of dark chocolate with 125gm of unsalted butter in a double boiler. Leave to cool.

Whisk together 2 eggs and 3/4 cup caster sugar. Mix in 3 tbspn of plain flour.

Fold egg, sugar and flour mix into the chocolate butter mix.

Spoon the mix into small buttered ramekins (less than a cup in size) or little teacups. Only fill to about 2/3 full. You should have enough for 4.

Place ramekins onto a baking tray. Bake in a 200C oven for 20 minutes. The pots will be piping hots so leave to cool down a bit. Expect the tops to sink down. Serve warm.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Taste & Create - Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

Taste & Create is a great blogging event hosted by Nicole over at For the Love of Food. The idea is that you are teamed up with a fellow blogger and you each make something from each other's blog. I have seen posts popping up in the blogosphere for ages, but I always seem to miss the deadline for registering. So frustrating. Finally, I got my act together and here I am.

My partner for the event was Laura Rebecca over at Laura Rebecca's Kitchen. It took me ages to decide what to make, she has so many great recipes. I thought about old fashioned apple cake, cardamom chocolate chunk cookies, spicy ginger cake.

Then I saw these - Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins - and it was all over red rover.

I was so excited to try them. I like donuts, but I rarely eat them as I avoid fried foods as much as possible. A baked substitute would be perfect. As if this wasn't enough, Laura Rebecca's A+ rating and very funny post completely sold the deal.

And am I glad, because these are FANTASTIC!!! I loved them. They really do taste like donuts. Like really, they do!! They disappeared so fast, I wondered if the whole thing had been a dream.

Laura Rebecca's recipe can be found here. Next time I make them I might use a smidge less baking powder. That's all I can suggest. Just bake, eat and enjoy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cupcake Hero - Raspberry Sherry Trifle Cupcakes

Don't you just love it when things come together!!

I had some girlfriends coming around for a bit of a natter and a catch up. The obvious thing to make was cupcakes. Serious grown up cup cakes.

I do not drink alcohol in any form ever. Not for any moral or religious reasons. I just find the flavours are way too harsh. And yet, I find it hard to resist boozy desserts, red wine sauces, guinness pies. I am an enigma even to myself.

So anyway, in thinking about these cupcakes I remembered a recipe I had seen in an old Donna Hay magazine for a raspberry sherry trifle version. It was perfect. I love trifle. My mum makes the best trifle in the world. Subjective, I know. But my whole family will agree with me, and we can't all be wrong. Right????

She only makes one a year, for Christmas Day. It must be the most anticipated and relished trifle ever. My uncles ring at least a couple of times in the lead up to make sure that it will be making an appearance.

Not long after my trifle cupcakes made their appearance, the theme for this month's Cupcake Hero was announced by Slush at Quirky Cupcake. None other than liquor. See what I mean about things coming together.

Okay, I might have had an inkling that it was at least an option. But still, it was great, no!

For these I decided not to use the Donna Hay cupcake recipe. It is far too dense and heavy I find. Instead, I used the Vanilla Vanilla cupcake recipe I first discovered on Stephanie's lovely blog A Whisk and a Spoon. They are so lovely and light. They have become my standard cupcake recipe.

They went down a real treat. We all agreed that you could actually serve them quite nicely as a dessert by removing the paper and turning them upside down in a nice bowl, like so. What do you think?

Raspberry Sherry Trifle Cupcakes
(adapted from Donna Hay Magazine May/June 2006)

1 quantity of Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes. Add in some raspberries (thawed frozen raspberries are fine) as you spoon the batter into the cupcake papers.

Poke some holes in the warm cupcakes with a skewer and drizzle over some sweet sherry. You can make them as boozy as you wish. Leave to cool completely.

Spoon the whipped custard onto the cupcakes and serve.

Whipped Custard Icing

1 1/2 cup single cream
1 vanilla bean (split) or 1 tspn vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tspn cornflour
1/2 cup thick cream

Place single cream and vanilla over a low heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean if using.

Place yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Slowly pour in hot cream, whisking continuously.

Return to a low heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens, about 8-10 minutes. The mixture should coat the back of the spoon. Refrigerate until cold.

Add the thick cream to the custard and whisk until the mixture is stiff or will hold its shape.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pancake Saturday

Yes, yes I know. It's supposed to be Pancake Tuesday. I planned a pancake Tuesday. I had all the ingredients, invitations and everything set for a Pancake Tuesday. The best of intentions and all that.

But then something came up and Pancake Tuesday became a Pancake Wednesday.

And the something else came up and Pancake Wednesday became a Pancake Thursday.

And...... well you get the drift. Hello Pancake Saturday!!!

In the best of traditions, I made enough pancakes to feed an army.

To start off I made these potato pancakes with bacon and cheese. I served these with a simple light salad.

To make them, I pour out the pancake batter. Then I sprinkle over some crisped bacon and grated cheese on the uncooked side just before I flip them over. I cook them at a higher than usual heat for pancakes so that the cheese forms a nice crispy crust. While I didn't add them this time, a sprinkling of chopped chives through the batter is also nice.

If you are feeling really indulgent, a little dollop of sour cream or whipped butter can also be added.

The second course was these - honeycomb pancakes.

The secret to these pancakes is the butter - whipped up with some condensed milk and chocolate honeyomb.

Slices are then left to melt over the top of the hot pancakes.

As you would expect, everyone pretty much rolled out the door. It was fun though.

Potato Pancakes with Bacon and Cheese

Combine 1/2 cup of milk with 1 tspn of white vinegar and leave for a few minutes.

Sift 1/2 cup of self raising flour and 1 tspn of bicarbonate soda into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of cold mashed potato, 2 eggs and the milk mixture. Stir together until well combined. (Some finely chopped chives can also be added here.)

Add 30gm of melted butter and fold in.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into a hot greased pan. Once bubbles start to appear in the batter sprinkle over some diced cooked bacon and some grated cheese (cheddar, mozarella or any melty cheese in good). Flip the pancake. Continue until the pancake is cooked through and the cheese has crisped.

Keep going with the rest of the batter.

Honeycomb Pancakes
(adapted from Australian Good Taste Magazine August 2000)

Beat together 250gm of softened butter and 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Stir in 35gm of finely chopped chocolate honeycomb (eg. Violet Crumble for Australians). Form into a log and refrigerate until firm.

Sift 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour and 1/2 tspn of bicarbonate soda into a bowl. Add 2 egg yolks, 1/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk, 1 tspn vanilla extract and 3/4 cup water. Mix until smooth. Stir in 150gm of ricotta cheese. Ensure that the mixture is not too thick - it should flow easily. Otherwise the pancakes will be too dense and heavy.

Fold in 2 stiffly beaten egg whites.

Pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter into greased pan. When bubbles appear flip over and continue until they are cooked through.

Slice honeycomb butter and place on top of hot pancakes to serve.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fruit Carpaccio

What do all these delicious ingredients add up to?

Fruit salad. Yep, that's right. But not any old fruit salad. The most interesting and delicious of fruit salads.

There are three key sets of ingredients. Naturally, there is fruit - thinly sliced pineapple, kiwifruit and strawberries. All of which are wonderfully abundant at my local market at the moment. The other suggested fruit is fresh lychees, but I couldn't find any nice ones. Really, I think you can use whatever you want.

Next, is a delicious lemongrass, lime and agave nectar syrup. I was really excited to use a new ingredient. I'm looking for new agave nectar recipes now. The trick is to allow the syrup to become lovely and thick.

Finally, you add a dollop of thick greek yoghurt strewn with lime zest and finely chopped chile. The tangy yoghurt cuts through the sweetness and the chile provides an interesting background buzz.

I have to admit I was a bit reticent with the chile. I am not a fan of spicy food. But you do actually need the full amount to work against the yoghurt. I think it's a matter of taste. Add however much you are comfortable with I say.

It all adds up to such a refreshing and unusual dish. I actually found this recipe in Oprah magazine of all places. I have never read this magazine before, I just picked it up at random at the airport bookstore. There was a feature on recipes by Pichet Ong, a New York chef. I have never heard of him before. But golly does he have some terrific recipes. I drooled over almost every one. Expect to see more here at some stage.

Fruit Carpaccio with Yoghurt and Lemongrass Glaze
(based on a Pichet Ong recipe featured in Jan 2008 Oprah Magazine)

Mix together 1/2 cup greek yoghurt, 1 seeded and finely chopped chile (about 1 tspn) and the zest of a lime. If you want, wash the unchopped chile under cold water to cut some of the heat. Refrigerate for at least an hour before you use it.

Bring a finely chopped 3 inch piece of lemongrass, 1/4 cup of agave nectar, the juice of 1 lime and 1/2 cup of water to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce to simmer and reduce by about half. The mixture should be a fairly thick syrup. Allow to cool.

Arrange thinly sliced pineapple, kiwis and strawberries on a platter. Spoon over syrup and add a dollop of yoghurt.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Brisvegas and Ice Scream

For the past week I have been in Brisbane (locally known jokingly as Brisvegas), my old university stomping ground. I had a great Australia day - down the pub, out in a shady garden, surrounded by frosty drinks, people draped in flags, watching the cricket. It was good to be Aussie.

Here are a few shots to give you a flavour of this most relaxed and laid back of cities. I hope you enjoy them.


I Scream for Ice Cream

I am amazed at myself!!! It is two-thirds of the way through summer and I have yet to post a single ice cream recipe. The horror, the horror!!!!!

Two rectify this terrible lapse I am posting not one, but two. And they are both absolutely delicious.

White Chocolate and Fresh Ginger Ice Cream

I love ginger. I love white chocolate. So when I spotted this recipe on David Lebovitz's blog, I simply could not resist.

Which is a good thing because I ended up with a lovely creamy refreshing ice cream. What's great is that the ginger flavour is totally in your control. I steeped the ginger for quite some time because I wanted a strong flavour. Less time will give a more subtle flavour.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

I spotted this recipe on Canela's Kitchen. Again, I simply could not resist. Growing up, my mum would make caramel and scoop it into little tartlettes topped with whipped cream, banana and passionfruit. My sister and I were in seventh heaven.

So to capture that flavour in an ice cream - oh drooooooool!!!!! And it was just as good as it promised to be.

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