Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burnt Fig Semifreddo


Have you ever had Maggie Beer's ice cream with burnt fig jam, honeycomb and caramel? If you haven't, you have no idea what you are missing, it's a revelation in the frozen dessert world. She is a seriously smart woman and sometimes I wish we were related so I could hang out at her farm while she whips up a perfectly roasted pheasant with verjuice or something like that, and scoops up this ice cream for dessert. If any of you ever meet her, tell her I'm waiting with held breath for her to adopt me.

In the meantime, I'll live through her recipes. The good thing about this recipe is that you don't even need pristine figs (which are hard to come by this season, sad face) you can use mediocre ones and no one will ever know, because when they are bubbled down into a brown sugar caramel, slightly burnt at the edges, no one will care that they were perhaps a little bruised to begin with, because no one will be able to tell. Sneaky huh?

This is great, great, great stuff. You will love it I promise. It's creamy and soft and the burnt fig jam? Impossible to stop eating. And guess what? You don't even need an ice cream machine! Hurrah! All you need is a giant spoon to eat it with.

Also, who is jealous of my sisters amazing tea set (above)? ME. THAT'S WHO.


Burnt Fig Semifreddo:
adapted from www.monsieurwag.com (an original Maggie Beer recipe)

I cut half the original amount of caster sugar in half, I think the fig mixture is more than sweet enough.

300g fresh figs, finely diced with stems removed
150g brown sugar
7 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
250ml cream, whipped to soft peaks
50ml cream, un-whipped.
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Add the figs to a large frying pan and stir over medium to high heat until they are softened and are starting to stick to the pan slightly, about 5 mins. When you can see them starting to stick, add the brown sugar to the pan, stir to combine, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes to caramelize.

In this recipe, the aim is to burn the figs, just slightly, to enhance the depth of caramelised flavours. So, keep an eye to the pan, and try to let the figs cook as much as possible. The mixture will thicken, taste it and if it tastes only slightly burnt, then take it off. If you over cook it, the sugar will taste bitter and unpleasant.

Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pan from the heat to cool to room temperature. Add the 50ml of cream and gently work it into the jam. The figs will relax and give you a much more workable mixture. (You must not add the figs to the semifreddo mixture when they are scalding hot – it will scramble the eggs.)

In a mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks on high until they nearly triple in volume. The mixture should form a thick ribbon-like texture. You need to be patient and persistent – you will be whisking the eggs for at good 15 minutes to get the necessary volume and texture. Add the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time, ensuring it is well mixed by continuing to whip the mixture on high.

Next, fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture, taking care not to lose the volume.
Finally, gently fold the fig mixture through and pour it into a plastic (freezer proof) container. Place it in the freezer to set over night – or least for 4 hours.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What I Wore


A giant box of popcorn costume. Yeehaa.

Get it HERE.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Croque Madame


Egg on toast? Why would we shlep all the way over to your supposedly "exciting" blog to read about boring old egg on toast? Yes, I can hear your thoughts, readers. I know what you're thinking, and I have to tell you to back off because what you see here is better than any old egg, on any old toast. Behold, the croque madame. A little bit more fancy than a croque monsieur, a little less fancy than french toast and a little bit more tasty than a ham and cheese sandwich.

You have to use great, chewy sourdough bread, you snuggle in a little ham and a little cheese. Dollop a knob of butter into a hot pan and lay the slice of bread, strewn with ham and cheese, into the pan and fry it until the underside is golden toasted. Hide it in the oven for a few minutes so the cheese is drippy and hot, all the while whisking up an easy, creamy bechamel sauce. Fry a fresh egg in a hot hot pan so the edges crisp up into a lacey skirt. Toast another slice of bread, sandwich the bread on top of the ham and the cheese, spoon over the warm bechamel, top with cheese and then its back into the oven before being crowned with a glowing, quick-fried, runny egg. Can you think of anything better for breakfast on a Sunday morning?

I may not know a lot of things, but I do know that this is the best hangover cure out there. Drink a super cold glass of Milo alongside it and you will feel right as rain, and pretty pleased with yourself too.

Croque Madame:
I have no idea where this recipe came from, I had it in Paris when I was there last and kind of made it up from what I could remember.

serves 1

2 slices of country-style sourdough bread
2 slices of country-style ham
cheddar cheese - grated (about 3 tablespoons to taste)
1 fresh egg

for bechamel sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Lay the ham on top of one of the slices of bread and sprinkle with a little grated cheddar cheese. Melt butter in a pan over high heat, and fry the bread with the ham and cheese on it, without turning, until the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Remove from the pan and place on a small baking tray or roasting pan, cheese side up, and bake in the oven until the cheese is bubbling and melted. Toast the other slice of bread in the toaster.

Meanwhile, to make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan. When melted, whisk in the flour until a roux forms (a roux is what the mixture is called when the melted butter and flour are smooth and combined, it will be rather thick, this is good). Gradually add the milk to the roux, whisking all the while, until the sauce thickens into a smooth sauce, it should coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste, and add a pinch of cheddar cheese to it for more flavour. Remove from the heat and cover the surface directly with cling wrap so a skin doesn't form.

When the cheese has melted on the bread in the oven, remove from the oven and top with the other piece of bread. Spoon the bechamel sauce over the top of the sandwich, and top with grated cheddar cheese. Put back in the oven until the cheese has melted and browned.

Meanwhile, fry an egg in a hot pan until cooked to your liking, (I like it runny). When the cheese has melted on the sandwich, remove from the oven, top with the fried egg, and serve immediately.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Close Planted


 I always walk past this street on my way to work. It's in a little laneway halfway between Paddington and Darlinghurst, and the street is planted closely with those trees whose leaves look like grapes,
I don't know what their real names are.
Anyway the little terrace houses have front stoops where you can sit with a cup of tea and the Sunday magazine, and it's quiet. The ivy grows all down the walls.
I love it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Homegrown Olives


We have had these olive trees at our place for close to 15 years and we are only deciding to harvest the olives now. I picked one once and bit into it straight from the tree. Don't ever do that, I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. Especially you, my favourites. But right as I speak they are sitting in a big tub of brine that we are dutifully changing every few days until they are ready (we have a while to go). 
I'm trying to think of some delicious way to marinate them, any ideas? 

NOTE: I have added a follow by email gadget to the right hand side bar. If you want to get posts delivered straight to your inbox as soon as they are published, add your email address there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Apple Cider Pops


I lied when I said that I was ready to put away the popsicle moulds and bring out the stew pots, I lied straight to your face.  I'm not ready to pack away my summer dresses and my big sun hat and my sunglasses that look-like-Karen-Walker-but-aren't-really. I'm not ready to forget about lying by the pool and drinking cool, crisp rosé after work. It's not fair! I want to eat popsicles all the way through winter, what would a mulled wine popsicle taste like? Nice? Perhaps let's start with cider first. 

Cider is the epitome of the perfect summer tipple, I recently discovered Swedish Rekorderlig cider, I chose it first for the bottle and the label, always a sucker for cuuuute packaging. But the cider really is right on the money. Not too sweet, it tastes like freshly cut apples, just like good quality cider should. I was a little dubious about the alcohol content, since hooch doesn't freeze so well, but added with some sugar syrup it worked a treat. These pops are like an apple granita, for big kids, the thin slice of apple nestled inside looks pretty too don't you think?

Do you want Summer to be over? Or are you keen for a big bowl of piping hot soup?



Apple Cider Popsicles:
An original recipe

I found these little piccolo latte glasses we had to be the perfect size for the pops, you could use shot glasses too if you like, or you can buy popsicle moulds from any kitchen store.

1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
300ml (approx) of your favourite apple cider (I use Rekorderlig)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
Green apple, very thinly sliced
popsicle sticks

To make sugar syrup, combine the sugar and water together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 3-4 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. In a large jug combine sugar syrup, cider and lemon juice, stir. Taste, if it's too sweet add more lemon juice, if it's not sweet enough add a little bit more sugar syrup (I don't like it too sweet).

Pour into glasses or popsicle moulds, add the slice of apple. Place on a plate in the freezer, after an hour and a half, when the mixture has started to crystallize, stick the popsicle sticks into the glasses standing up straight, if they don't stay upright, leave them to freeze for a little longer before adding the sticks. Freeze for a further two hours or overnight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taste of Sydney 2011


It's hard to know what to say, or do, in the wake of the horrible happenings in Japan at the moment. I kept debating whether its frivolous to post about food in the midst of such catastrophe but I feel that some escapism is needed in times like these, and if I can help someone out there forget for a second, then I'm happy to help. I hope all your family and friends are well and safe. We're all thinking of you. x

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The food orgy that is the Taste of Sydney festival returned to Centennial Park last weekend with a super-sized sack full of treats for the good girls and boys of Sydney. I had in my hot little hands free tickets thanks to my boss, which let me through the gates on opening night and then on Saturday as well (to eat everything my belly wouldn't fit in on Thursday night of course). 20 of the city's top restaurants congregated in the Brazilian fields and churned out plate after plate of the dishes that make them famous.

The festival looked absolutely spectacular at night, like a circus but with the smell of truffle instead of popcorn, adrift on the air. By day it was a different story. The pimms cups in the VIP tent went down a treat, but it was a serious challenge to find water in the sticky heat. Dehydration has never stopped us before so on we ploughed. It was excruciatingly hard to choose dishes to eat, they each smelled better than the next, this is not an event to fly solo, you need to recruit at least a couple of friends to cover the expanse of options behind each counter (good effort Georgie and Mill).

Lovely people, your menu awaits...

(District Dining & Assiette's crisp pork belly with cashew nut caramel, watermelon, mint and pickled daikon)

There were two pork belly options this year, and they were like chalk and cheese which was a relief. Collin Fassnidge from The Four in Hand (aka the pork master) was whipping up a smokey confit pork belly with squid, chorizo and chickpeas, (a dish I have a feeling I have eaten at the Four's pub once upon an evening) but Assiette's cashew caramel pork belly won my heart. My picture does this dish no justice (all was a little wilted in the heat) but it was stunning. The crunchy, sweet and salty pork was close to perfect.


(Balzac's Crisp Wagyu Beef with Field Mushrooms and Truffle Foam)

Bow down readers, and remove your hats, because what you see before you may look like a dagwood dog, but is in fact a dish that all but rendered me speechless. That pool of truffle foam you see right there? Heaven. The softest, most meltingly tender beef I may have ever had swathed in a crisp, nowhere-near-greasy jacket of pastry. I can hardly begin to describe how good it was, I couldn't stop spooning that truffle foam into my mouth. Wow.

(Etch's Caramel Date Tart with Earl Grey Syrup and Chantilly Cream)

The dark horse of the day was the earl grey syrup under the date tart at Etch, the tart was nice enough, the velvety smooth caramel ticked the requisite boxes, but that syrup was surprisingly amazing. I'm going to nab the recipe and try to make it, it was such a beautiful Earl Grey flavour, not the Twinnings kind either, it was floral and delicate and gorgeous, would be perfect with ice cream.


(Otto's Amedei Milk Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel and Fresh Berries)

At this point we were bursting but anything with salted caramel in the title is hard to pass up, the mousse was very soft (the heat may have helped with that a little) but kept it's shape, the dollop of salted caramel right in the middle was a little sparse for my liking but was still a nice surprise just when I had begun to think it wasn't in the mousse at all. Nice save, Etch.

All in all a pretty great couple of days. Other honerable mentions go out to District Dining's crisp fried, spicy free range chicken (although way too light on the spice for me) with coleslaw and lime aioli, and also A Tavola's gnocchi with lamb ragu. Considering investing in a second stomach in preparation for next year, thoughts?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not-So-Tiny Gingerbread Teddies


Some great things have been happening lately. For one, I am finally getting my bedroom walls painted white. The raspberry pink I wanted when I was thirteen is getting mighty tiresome to wake up to every morning, so white it is. Whiter than Vanilla Ice. The same painter is coming to change it who painted it pink in the first place. He laughed when we told him what I wanted. Fair enough.

The second piece of news is that it's Taste of Sydney Festival this weekend! I was lucky enough to scope it out last night and wow, the crisp wagyu with mushrooms and truffle foam from restaurant Balzac was a revelation. Heaven has a name, and it's truffle foam. I'm going back on Saturday to catch up on the rest of the sample plates I didn't get to try last night, and will be back here next week with a full wrap up of the highlights, so get excited! Item three on my list of exciting happenings is the imminent re-launch of dailysydney.com, where I am the new food and drink editor! It's a blog all about the best things happening in this wonderful city of ours and I'm pumped to get things moving. Am doing my first interview today and we have lots of cool stuff lined up for the re-launch so watch this space.

I think we should celebrate with some gingerbread and a Friday night beer.

You don't even understand how many biscuits I made yesterday. Trays and trays and trays. And this was a halved recipe, I would hate to think how many it would make doubling it. Although having 80 gingerbread teddies isn't such a catastrophe, it would be terrible to have 80 sour pots of yogurt, too many biscuits is a good thing. If we get hit by a hurricane (which actually isn't so unlikely these days), we're covered on the cookie front.

This is a Bourke St Bakery recipe, from their enormous baking bible. The recipe uses a lot of butter. But be strong, be sturdy, add that last pat of butter because it makes them rich and luxurious, dense and crumbly.

And cut them out into teddies, because cookies shaped like people freaks me out a little. You can even draw bikini's on your teddies, bikini bears are a win win situation.

Gingerbread Biscuits
Recipe from the Bourke St Bakery's Ultimate Baking Companion

This is a halved recipe from the original one in the book, you could make the whole recipe but it's a marathon.

biscuits
560g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
3/4 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
200g unsalted butter at room temperature
200g soft brown sugar
110g golden syrup or honey
1 egg
2 egg yolks

royal icing
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

To make the biscuits, sift the flour, salt, bi-carb soda and spices together in a large bowl.
Put the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in another large bowl and mix using an electric mixer until light and creamy.

Gradually add the egg and the egg yolks and mix until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients in three batches and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough into four even portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to three days.

Remove from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly. Roll out each disk on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thickness (the thicker they are the easier it is to cut them out, if they are too thin their shape goes all wonky. Cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on wire racks before icing.

Meanwhile, to make icing, whisk egg white to loosen it. Gradually whisk in the sifted icing sugar until the icing thickens and looks glossy and smooth. Add the lemon juice and whisk through. Pipe decorations onto cookies using a piping bag. When the icing is dry, store biscuits in a sealed container for up to two weeks (if they last that long).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe Index

BISCUITS

BREAD AND BREAD-LIKE THINGS

CAKES AND TARTS

CANDY

DRINKS


MEAT AND POULTRY

OTHER DESSERTS
Baklava

PASTA

SALADS

SEAFOOD

SNACKS

SOUPS

VEGETARIAN

Monday, March 7, 2011

Turkish Yogurt Cake with Figs and Ginger Praline



So, I made this cake to take to a friends farewell party, his name is Brett Bacon.
Thus, this is a Bye Bye Bacon Cake. I thought it looked beautiful with the craggy, glistening pile of ginger praline piled high on the top... and then someone said the sliced figs looked like pickles. And now all I think about when I look at the picture above is pickles.

Well they aren't pickles, dickhead! They're figs. Last of the season figs that were quite disappointing to be honest, the floods have all but ruined this years crop, the colour of the flesh was dull and they were a little watery. Luckily the oven worked it's magic and turned them jammy, sticky and sweet. Just the way I like them.

This cake is a cross between a souffle and a cheesecake. It rises in the oven, almost to overflowing, and then subsides like a deflated balloon when you sit it on the counter to cool. The crumb (if you can call it a crumb) is luscious and soft with a slip of lemon and a few drops of orange blossom water. The ginger praline, another way to use up the rest of the bag of crystallized ginger you have in your pantry, gives it a kick and a mouthful of crunch that such a delicate cake should always keep in its back pocket. The last shards of praline were picked up to be sucked on in between slurps of beer, in the most lady-like way possible of course.

In the last couple of weeks I have booked tickets to the USA for a two week holiday in September with one of my best friends. We're heading to LA, San Fran and NYC and I can't wait! I want to go now! We have also all decided to go on a camping trip for Easter, three hours down the coast on the beach. All I want to do is catch a big slippery fish and cook it over a driftwood fire, it must be the cave woman in me, the same cave woman who is calmly excited about Autumnal cooking; lamb shanks and beef cheek ragu.
I'm putting away the popsicle moulds and dusting off the stew pots.


Turkish Yogurt Cake with Figs and Ginger Praline
adapted from Claudia Roden's Arabesque

I added the orange blossom water and the figs to the recipe, I figured I might as well go all the way with the Turkish theme and it really worked. If you can find better quality figs than the ones I used, they might be nice fresh, quartered and piled up on top with the praline. If you can't find figs at all, this cake would also be lovely with stewed rhubarb. The praline was a lightbulb idea that I kind of made up, i think it would also work if you added the ginger to the sugar while it is boiling on the stove, they might melt into the mixture really nicely. If you try it let me know how it goes!

Cake
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour, sifted
1 2/3 cups full fat Greek yogurt (half fat is too watery)
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
juice of one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons orange blossom water (available from health food shops)
3 fresh figs (I used green but use black too if you can find them) sliced from the top down

Ginger Praline
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Cream the egg yolks with the caster sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix until combined. Add the yogurt, lemon zest and juice and mix until combined. Add orange blossom water, taste, and add more if necessary. Mix well.
Whisk egg whites using electric beaters in a clean dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into yogurt mixture until combined. Take care not to over-mix as all the air will leave the whites.

Grease a 9 inch spring-form cake tin with butter, and line the bottom with parchment. Pour mixture into the cake tin and arrange the fig slices on top. Bake cake in the oven for 45-60 minutes or until the top is browned. The cake will rise like a souffle but will subside when removed from the oven. Let cool while you make the praline.

For the praline, spread the chopped candied ginger on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium to high heat. Do not stir the mixture, but brush down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water to stop the sugar crystallizing. Boil the sugar for about 8 minutes or until the sugar turns a light caramel colour. Be careful not to let it get too dark as it can burn very easily. Pour caramel in a pool over the chopped ginger. Let the praline completely cool until hard. Using your hands, crack up the praline into shards and arrange in the middle of the cooled cake.

Serve at room temperature. Best on day of baking.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lusting

 Layered Coin Necklace

 Red gold bar bracelet

Triangle shield bracelet

Sorry I haven't been around much lately, have been in a bit of a food photography slump but am ready to drag myself out of it this weekend with lots of cooking to be done!

I wanted to show you all these amazing pieces I have just discovered on Etsy from New York designer Kim Dulaney, these pieces are from her Fortune collection. Aren't they stunning? and so affordable, all these pieces are under $40!

They have a bit of an American Indian vibe and I dig it, man.