Friday, July 30, 2010

More On Monteiths Brewery

Remember back in the day when I told you to keep your eyes peeled for more from NZ brewing company, Monteith's? Well no need to go to any trouble because I've figured it out for you!

This little label is fast becoming my favourite brewer. They are so fantastically original and their products are so, so good. They have crafted two beers; a dark, thick, rib-sticking winter brew, and a light, fragrant summer ale which will have you relaxing on a banana lounge next to an inflatable pool in no time

I'm no beer fanatic, after all I'm a dainty girl aren't I, but I have been known to sip a beer now and then. We first tried the two ales on tap at the East Village Hotel in East Sydney on a recommendation by a friend that "if you can't imagine yourself drinking this all summer, then we can no longer hang out". Well I can tell you that we will be hanging out with that guy EVERY SINGLE DAY this summer because that pale ale is unlike anything I have ever had. Ed deduced it down to tasting like a glass of Pimms, and he was exactly right. It's Pimms, in beer form. A slightly citrus, dry, fruity tang that made me want to sell my puppy and fly to Barcelona to hang out on the beach for a few months.

The winter ale is dark, brooding and perfect on the cold and rainy night we tried it on. If I had a beautiful duck ragu to go with it, I'm pretty sure my life would be complete.

Check them out, i'm sure there will be plenty more gems to come from Monteith's, and i'll be waiting, bottle opener in hand.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Something Delicious

The Sydney Aroma Festival descended on Circular Quay and The Rocks on Sunday. It was packed with people, the music was blasting and the lines were looooong. The chai was spicy, there were camel rides and buskers, nougat and cupcakes, and every blend of coffee imaginable.

I had a terribly underwhelming cold steak sandwich, but I also had these. The most crisp, light and fluffy cannoli ever. I can't even remember what the stall was called but I do remember the sweet whipped ricotta studded with chocolate chips and cherries. Boy oh boy do I remember!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Assorted Brigadeiros (Brazilian Coconut & Condensed Milk Truffles)

Here is a recipe for a pretty amazing party.

- 1 large bunch of vintage metallic blue taffeta, rinsed and drained

- 15 metres of spotted tulle

- 10 buckets of white wine sangria with lychees, lemon and mint

- 10 buckets of red wine sangria with oranges

- 3 hair crimpers

- 2 cans of hairspray

- 6 rolls of streamers

- 1/2 teaspoon blue eyeshadow

- 3 Michael Jackson CD's

- assorted tapas dishes, including brigadeiros

- a sprinkle of amazing friends (thanks Rach and George!!!!)

Me and condensed milk have a little thing going on.

a little.... relationship.

It's been going on for years now, i'm proud to say we are very committed to each other. He understands me and I understand him. It's a mutual love (i'm sure).

On travels in Vietnam, I gasped at delight when I tried Vietnamese coffee, sweetened with condensed milk (may have drunk more milk than coffee much to everyone's disgust)

On hikes at Timbertop we used to carry around tubes of the stuff, sucking them dry. Our breaks weren't for water, they were for the sweet, sticky tubes at the bottom of our backpacks.

Naturally I jumped at the chance to try and make these little balls of condensed milk goodness, infused with coconut milk and rolled in assorted goodies.

I have wanted to incorporate pop rocks into a dessert dish for aaaaages, I tried sprinkling them on the tops of macarons, but that was an epic fail. The sugar melted the shell of the macaron in the oven much to my horror, I thought the idea was genius!

Biting into a condensed milk truffle rolled in pop rocks is my idea of a pretty good time, so I tried it out. It worked! The only minor problem was when I put them in the fridge, the sugar melted a little bit, although in the end it the pop was still there.

I rolled the others in toasted coconut (my next favourite) and little "chocettes". Chewy, Gooey and moorish as hell.

Assorted Brigadeiros (Brazilian Coconut & Condensed Milk Truffles):
adapted from the New York Times

makes approx. 25 truffles

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons corn syrup (glucose syrup)
2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
desiccated coconut (dry toasted for 5 minutes in a fry pan)
chocettes (or chocolate vermicelli)
pop rocks

Place the condensed milk, coconut milk, corn syrup, butter and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to the boil then turn down the heat to medium and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens considerably (it will look kind of like fudge) and turns a beige caramel colour (similar to dulce de leche, about 10-15 mins). The mixture will pull away from the bottom of the pan, leaving a brown residue at the bottom, when this occurs, pour the mixture into a bowl leaving the residue behind.

Let cool to room temperature, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. When set, scoop out approx. 1 tablespoon amounts of the mixture and roll into balls in slightly moist hands. Roll each ball in a coating of your choice, then place in mini cupcake wrappers, refrigerate until use, these are better eaten slighty cold.

Cauliflower with Raisins, Capers, Almonds and Chives

This week has been pretty busy. It was deadline at the magazine, the plastic guard-thing under my car somehow (somehow meaning i'm looking at YOU Alice) ripped halfway off and now drags along the ground as I drive, the much anticipated 80's prom themed tapas party at Rach's house was fast approaching and it was the Sydney Aroma Festival on Sunday. Not to mention my sister Maddie returned from a month in sun-drenched Europe the lucky sausage, (she did bring me back gorgeous Italian anchovies though!) Needless to say, I didn't have much time to cook.

That being said, you know those nights when you don't really care about what you have for dinner, you just want it to be good. Good as in comforting, smack bang full of flavour and not too high up in the difficulty stakes. Good as in you could easily sit in front of re-runs of Australia's Next Top Model with a huge bowl of the stuff, a nice glass of wine, and be more than content.

Well this is one of those dishes. Cauliflower on its own is not particularly inspiring. But paired with the crunchy breadcrumbs, almonds, sweet-yet sour raisins, salty baby capers and handfuls of fresh chopped herbs, it's awe inspiring. Up until now, the only cauliflower that has ever passed my lips has been mostly cauliflower cheese; roasted and smothered in bechamel sauce. Delicious to say the least, but it's time to jazz up this vegetable once and for all.

Cauliflower with Raisins, Capers, Almonds and Chives:
Adapted from Gramercy Tavern NYC via

Serves three as side dish

1/2 head cauliflower, trimmed of leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons fresh soft bread crumbs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons whole almonds (I used slivered, then you don't need to chop them)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons raisins (I used sultanas)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon (I used mint, to add more freshness)
1 teaspoon finely sliced chives.
squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Cut cauliflower from top to bottom in 1-inch slices. Place a large ovenproof skillet over low heat and add one tablespoon butter. When it has melted, add bread crumbs and almonds and toss until toasted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe out pan.

Return pan to medium heat. Add remaining one tablespoon olive oil and cauliflower slices. Sauté until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer pan to oven and roast until tender, about 12 minutes (fry in batches if all the cauliflower doesn't fit, you need an even browning.)

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and add raisins, vinegar and 1 tablespoon water. Simmer until raisins are plump and soft, about 5 minutes; drain and set aside. In a small bowl, combine almonds, capers, raisins, parsley, mint and chives. Season with salt and pepper and toss to mix.

Arrange roasted cauliflower on a serving platter. Spoon almond-herb mixture evenly on top and sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs. Squeeze lemon juice over the top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Asparagus, Chorizo and Pine Nut Sauté

This is a pretty simple recipe. Anyone can do it. I don't want to put up too many complex recipes on this blog, I want to put up good ones. Tasty treats. As much as I love to challenge myself, I also love a recipe that doesn't pretend to be anything its not. Asparagus, chorizo, pine nuts. That's all you need for something magnificent.

It's salty, with crunch from the bright, lush, carnival green asparagus and a woodiness from the pine nuts. I was staying with my godfather in London when I first tried this dish. He is a fantastic cook, one that you wouldn't expect, open his cupboards and you will find homemade jalapeno sauce in there.

We had lunch at a small French Bistro in Windsor where we were watching the kids rattle around a polo field with miniature mallets that barely reached the ground. Lunch was fantastic, confit of duckling with a crisp rosé, joined at the hip with this asparagus that has literally been at the back of my mind for a year. We came home and made it again for dinner, it's that good.

Alright, that's enough tantalising from me.

Asparagus, Chorizo and Pine Nut Sauté:
Adapted from a fine little bistro in Windsor

Serves two as a side dish.

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch green asparagus, rinsed and drained
1/2 a chorizo sausage halved and sliced
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Sauté asparagus for 3 minutes, add chorizo and pine nuts and sauté until all ingredients are cooked through and the pine nuts are golden brown, about 3 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Another dive into the Bourke St Bakery cookbook for today, You may as well get used to it because there will be a lot more to come.

I wanted cookies, bad. We have a cookie compendium at home with 500 recipes, but nothing jumped out at me. I'm sick of plain old chocolate chip, shortbread and jam thumbprints. Give me something interesting for once, cookbook shelf!

Bourke St make these intensely rich chocolate biscuits with sour cherries. And I wouldn't have messed with them if it weren't for the fact that I can't find dried sour cherries anywhere!

REVEAL YOURSELF CHERRIES. (If anyone has any clue please let me know!)

Lucky dried cranberries are in abundance, they fit the mould like a tacos and margharitas, like vegemite and toast, like champagne and strawberries, like cookies and cream. What make these so gob-smackingly yum (no yum/yuck to be found here Mr. Preston) is the entire bar of real dark chocolate melted and folded into the mix. Cocoa powder just doesn't cut it.

This will be my last sweet post for a while, I'm in a bit of a savoury rut and am determined to dig myself out of it. I'm thinking roast cauliflower with raisins, capers and chilli, i'm thinking fennel gratin, i'm thinking snapper pie. I'm thinking lots of things, don't turn that dial kids!

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Cookies:
adapted from the Bourke St Bakery Cookbook

235g dark chocolate (55% cocoa), chopped
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoons salt
100g unsalted butter
240g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
85 g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C.

Put the chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Allow the water in the saucepan to boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir the chocolate while it slowly melts.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding more. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing well after each addition, then add the melted chocolate and mix until well combined.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, then fold through the dried cranberries.

The mix can become quite sticky , so you may need to refrigerate it for 15 minutes before shaping the biscuits. Take 3 tablespoons of mixture at a time and roll into even-sized balls - you should make about 12 balls in total.

Place the balls on baking trays lined with baking paper, allowing room for them to spread. Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes, or until firm. Bake in batches, for 15-20 minutes each, or until risen and quite cracked on top. Cool on trays. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Cheer-Up Rhubarb Cake

Goodness me it's another tart.

Yes I called it a cake in the subject line and yes that was only to lure you in.

Now that you're here... It's another tart suckers!!!

I fooled you and I fooled you well.

You loved it though.

When a beautiful friend is feeling a bit down, and its freezing outside, there is only one solution. A tea party! With yummy pastries to put in your face!

Rhubarb makes everyone happy. So does tea. So does Champagne. So does this amazing new discovery I have found called semolina cream.

Semolina cream = happiness. It's like a custard only better. Waaaaay better.

Rhubarb Tart with Semolina Cream:
adapted from Gourmet Traveller

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

1 2/3 cups plain flour
50g icing sugar, sifted
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 a bunch of rhubarb (washed) trimmed to fit a circular tart tin

Process flour, icing sugar and butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until combined. The mixture should still look like breadcrumbs with bits of butter still visible. Bring the dough together into a flat disk shape with your hands. Wrap in cling-wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 an hour.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to approx. 3mm thick and place into a tart tin, pressing in the edges and trimming off excess pastry. Refrigerate for 20 mins. Line the tart shell with baking paper and fill with baking weights or beans. blind bake for 15 minutes, remove weights and bake for another 15 minutes until the shell is dry and golden. Cool.

Semolina Cream

1 2/3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup semolina
2 thinly peeled strips of lemon rind
3 egg yolks

Combine milk, cinnamon, sugar, semolina and lemon rind in a saucepan and stir continuously over low-medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, then stir for another two minutes until the mixture is very thick, the consistency of custard. Remove from heat, discard lemon rind, then whisk in the yolks one at a time, until well combined. Cover semolina cream closely with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature.

Spoon semolina cream evenly into the tart shell and place rhubarb lengthways over filling. Sprinkle with caster sugar then cover loosely with foil. Bake at 190 degrees C for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the semolina is set and the rhubarb is tender. Serve warm. The tart is best eaten the day of making.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spiced Beetroot Chutney

Does anyone remember Chutney? The woman with the shocking perm and the trembling lip who shot her father in the film Legally Blonde?

I don't particularly want to discuss the dramatic aspects of the films glorious descent into discussions such as "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't shoot their husbands. They just don't!" But I do want to discuss Chutney.

Elle, you're right, happy people don't kill their husbands. Poor, disturbed girls buried under the burden of a name like Chutney do. I'm sure if her parents had named her Cool Whip her life would have taken a completely different track.

Chutney is not delicate. Nor is it subtle. It's chunky, sloppy at times, and a general mish-mash of ingredients, spices and flavours that all combine to create a wonderfully delicious, figurative can of pickled worms. Open that can of worms and you're smacked over the head with a barrel full of flavour, begging to be eaten with a thick, juicy steak.

Your ham sandwich will no longer be frowned upon as a regular sandwich anymore. It's Gourmet now, it's a little bit posh.

Go show it off! And please refrain from naming your children after condiments. It's really not very attractive.

Spiced Beetroot Chutney:
Adapted from Good Taste Magazine July 2009

makes approx 2 jars

2 medium fresh beetroots
1/3 brown onion, finely chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
juice of one orange
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large fresh rosemary sprig

Preheat oven to 200°C. Wrap each beetroot bulb in foil. Place in a baking dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour. Set aside to cool slightly. Using disposable gloves to avoid staining your hands, remove the skins and discard. Trim the root and stem ends. Finely chop the beetroot.

Place beetroot, onion, apple, vinegar, orange juice, sugar and cloves in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the rosemary. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 1/2 hour or until the mixture thickens slightly.

Remove the rosemary and discard. Spoon the hot chutney into sterilised jars. Seal and invert for 2 minutes

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ganache with Panache

The Bourke St Bakery cookbook is a little bit intimidating to say the least.

For starters, you have to begin most recipes a day ahead, which doesn’t really fly with my whole impulsive-baking thing. Even though I’m semi-comfortable with yeast these days, (since the crumpets and pretzels, and yes I still sporadically check under my bed for guerrilla pretzel dough), I haven’t yet ventured into anything requiring a starter – which is needed in nearly every bread recipe in the book. I'll get there, but one step at a time people.

While flicking through the beautiful, yet brick heavy book, and after wiping the puddle of drool off the pictures of praline twists and rhubarb danishes, there was no doubt in my mind that this book was going to be habit-changing for me.

That being said, I was a little off-put by the proving and resting times, even though I realise that time is a key ingredient required to obtain Bourke St Bakery results, sometimes I just want to make something and then be able to eat it not so long after that. Wham bam thank you m’am, from oven to mouth in less than an hour.

Anyway I started off simple. I also popped the cherries of my new-fangled individual tart moulds. Sexy. They worked a charm thank you very much. The result was a crispy shortcrust shell filled with a silky, glossy dark chocolate ganache your mama would be proud of. From oven to mouth in less than an hour too! (excluding bowl licking time, which is immediate and very necessary).

Please enjoy, and don't forget that you can freeze your ganache and reheat it over a pot of simmering water, no excuses now!

Dark Chocolate Ganache Tarts:
adapted from the Bourke St Bakery cookbook

Makes approx. 14 tarts

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
200g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
10ml vinegar, chilled
50g sugar, chilled
85ml water, chilled
330g plain flour, chilled
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Put the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and add the water, stirring well. Set aside for 10 minutes, then stir again to completely dissolve the sugar.

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and add the butter, pulsing in 1 second bursts about three or four times to partly combine. You should still be able to see pea sized chunks of butter, the floury mixture should be rather shaggy, not a ball of dough. Gradually add the sugar/vinegar mixture and pulse to combine. Gather together the mixture into two balls, you should still be able to see streaks of butter, which gives the pastry a flaky quality when baked. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. (I only refrigerated it for 1/2 an hour and it was definitely enough time).

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the pastry into a round disk, about 3mm thick, try not to use too much extra flour when rolling out the dough as it will alter the texture. Cut out rounds to fit individual sized tart moulds with detachable bottoms (they make it MUCH easier to remove the pastry, non stick moulds really help too).

Remove the extra pastry from the edges and place the shells back in the fridge for 15 minutes to re-chill. Fill with baking weights and blind bake for 10 minutes, remove the weights and bake fur a further 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Chocolate Ganache
200ml dark chocolate (Bourke St uses milk chocolate)
200ml pouring cream

Chop the chocolate and place into a large mixing bowl. Place the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until well combined and the chocolate is melted, (try not to stir too much as it will create air bubbles). Pour into a jug and pour into the baked pastry shells until filled to the brim.

Allow the tarts to set at room temperature for a few hours. The tarts are best not refrigerated as it will cause condensation which will affect the look of the ganache. They are best eaten within 24 hours and are best kept in an airtight container.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Afternoon Tea

Three-thirty-itis is gone in a flash thanks to a beautiful brown sugar cake with caramelized pears that just waltzed into the office.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Citrus Squeeze

There is no better time than now to buy oranges, lemons and giant ruby-centred grapefruits, heavy with juice.

If you didn't already know, a glass of orange juice first thing in the morning perks you up more than an espresso.

True story.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Macarons with Passionfruit Curd

Ah the elusive macaron. So seemingly sweet and innocent on the outside, absolutely filled with sugar-coated kryptonite on the inside. Deceiving bakers everywhere, these tiny little almond meringue shells are taking over.

Last year, kids didn't want a beautifully frosted birthday cake in the shape of a butterfly anymore, they wanted nothing less than a gilded tower of picture perfect cupcakes, iced to within an inch of their lives with rich buttercream in pretty pastel colours. Gone was the messy cake cutting, which personally breaks my heart! The tradition of kissing the closest boy if your knife touches the bottom is dead thanks to the cupcake.

This year, cupcakes have been left to the wayside to make room for a slightly more complex birthday treat; the macaron. The film Marie Antoinette may have made them royalty, but Masterchef made them achievable. I have tried to make these three times. And only on the third go did they finally stand up in the oven on their little meringue feet.

Lucky for me, and you, I have been let in on the secret! You have to let go of everything you know about egg white folding - thank god because I am hopeless at it. Once your whites are whipped to firm peak perfection, and you have sifted any lumps out of your almond meal and icing sugar, you have to quickly mix in the egg whites to get rid of any air, rather than keeping in the air as you would making normal meringues or pavlova etc. THAT'S the clincher, a piping bag also helps with height and consistency.

There are one trillion flavours and combinations that would be perfect for macarons, I started very simple with a passionfruit curd filling, I wanted to get them right before I started mucking around with different flavours. So now that i've figured it out, there will be lots more experimenting to come.

Macarons with Passionfruit Curd
Adapted from

100g aged egg whites (approx 3 eggs)
110g almond meal, dried in a cool (100 degrees C) oven for 5 minutes and sifted
200g icing sugar
50g sugar
1 drop rose pink food dye
passionfruit curd

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Carefully sift your cooled almond meal into a large mixing bowl, making sure to not force any lumps through or you will not have a smooth shell. Sift the icing sugar into the same bowl and stir to combine.

Beat egg whites in a medium mixing bowl until it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar (and food colouring) and beat until it reaches stiff peaks, take care not to overmix!

Add meringue to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white, then fold carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after 30 seconds to a minute. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds of about 3cm diameter on lined baking sheets or silicon baking mats. Gently rap your baking sheets on your bench top to remove any extra bubbles from your piped shells. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before baking.

Preheat your oven to 140-150 degrees C (temperature varies depending on your oven). Place on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if they are not professional grade. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

When the shells are completely cooled, spoon about 1 tsp of passionfruit curd into the centre of a shell, and sandwich another shell on top. The flavour of the macarons improves well after a night in an air tight container, so if you can, wait a while!