Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eat It

There are positives and negatives to having a dog who likes Bourke Street Bakery custard tarts as much, if not more than I do.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pear & Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches

I hate "artisan" waffle cones. I actually freakin' love those ones you buy in huge cardboard boxes from Coles, the ones that taste like cardboard and childhood and have that funny creamy-orange tinge? Sometimes I eat them plain without any ice cream at all, but I also eat anchovies straight out of the tin so you should take that with a grain of salt, or an anchovy.

Ice cream sandwiches are better than any kind of ice-cream cone. Cookies! Everyone loves cookies! Especially a homemade gingernut. My sister Alice made this ice cream, which nearly makes up for the fact that she's been wearing short shorts and leather jackets while drinking goon at college in Melbourne for the better part of a year and a half. Nearly.

The recipe, like pretty much all great ice cream recipes, is sprung from the mind of David Lebovitz's ice cream Bible: The Perfect Scoop. It's surprisingly fresh, juicy and not too rich, unlike the coconut, dark chocolate and hazelnut kind. It would be actually well-suited to summer, next to the pool, but pears are a winter fruit so we had better keep our bellies fixed on the present season.

The caramel isn't overwhelming, which is lucky when you match it to these golden-syrup spiked ginger biscuits thanks to Steph over at Raspberri Cupcakes (have you seen her blog? It blows my mind with cute). Together they are very well-matched, if the ingredients were a married couple they would never fight, and would have lots of little pear and caramel sandwich-babies and tell each other how pretty and delicious they both are ALL the time. Ahhh ice cream marital bliss.

Pear & Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz's 'The Perfect Scoop'
- Gingernut recipe from Everyday Cooking via Raspberri Cupcakes

Makes about 8-10 ice cream sandwiches depending on size, you could make mini ones if you wanted!

Ice Cream
3 medium-sized ripe, juicy pears, peeled and cored
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (180g) caster sugar
2 cups (500ml thickened cream)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Chop the pears into 1cm chunks.
Combine the sugar with 2 tbsp water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Watch it carefully until the sugar dissolves and caramelises into a light amber caramel, don't let it get too dark, you don't want the caramel flavour to be too overpowering.

When the sugar has lightly coloured, stir in the pear. Some of the sugar will seize up and harden, but as you cook the pears, use a wooden spoon to melt any of the hard sugar bits back into the caramel. Continue to cook the mixture for a further ten minutes until the pears are cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in half the cream, then mix in the remaining cream, along with the salt and lemon juice until all combined.

Let cool to room temp, then puree in a blender or food processor. Press the mixture through a mesh sieve to get rid of any tough pear fibers.

Chill completely in the fridge, then churn for approx 20 minutes (or according to manufacturer instructions) in an ice cream machine. Pour into a freezer-proof container and freeze overnight.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits.

2/3 cup (100gm) self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 allspice
50g brown sugar
50g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 tbsp golden syrup
raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Combine the flour, bicarb soda, spices and brown sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the golden syrup, and press to a dough-like consistency. Divide into 16 pieces (they spread a lot with baking), roll each piece into a ball, and press each ball down with a floured fork (or your fingers) on the baking sheet until they are quite flat. Sprinkle raw sugar over biscuit surfaces and press lightly into dough with your fingers.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. They will still be very soft. Cool on a wire rack until they have hardened.

When the biscuits are cool and hard, and the ice cream is ready, sandwich a scoop of ice cream between two ginger nuts and serve immediately as an ice cream sandwich. YUM.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lessons in Lomography

Hmm... can I pass these off as arty? Or are they just bad?

Ed gave me a Holga Lomography camera for Christmas last year, and I've only just got my first roll of film developed.

Well, there's definitely room for improvement isn't there. It didn't help that the back of the camera popped off a couple of times, and my arm wrestle with the film to get it out didn't help with keeping it safe from light exposure...

But anyway, these very, very wierd shots remind me of summer. Miss you, summer, hope to see you soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato, Maple & Pecan Salad

This salad sounds like it should be a dessert. Sweet potato, maple syrup, pecans, it should be a pie. Or a stack of pancakes. 

Don't worry though, I know you're smart, I know you're not going to be fooled into eating salad, thinking it's a dessert. You'll see when you make this, that there are other things in here too. There are herbs, spring onions, chilli, sultanas, orange and lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, lots of zing! zing! zing! that really makes it a salad you want to eat. Not push around your plate, pretending to eat, which is what usually happens with me and salads.

When I was making this, I had a thought that this might be the first salad ever featured on Stovetop. But then I double checked and saw that we have seen a sweet and salty celery, white anchovy, grape & parsley salad, a cabbage, broad bean and fennel salad with green goddess dressing and Jamie Oliver's peach, prosciutto & mozzarella salad.

It's salad galore around here! That makes me feel healthy, and grown up, and less guilty about putting maple syrup on my sweet potato.

This recipe is one from one of London's most-loved cafes, Ottolenghi, which has published Plenty, one of the best vegetarian cookbooks I have ever read. We ate this alongside their cauliflower and cumin fritters, which I'll tell you about another day, (the wait will be worth it!).

Roasted Sweet Potato, Maple & Pecan Salad
Adapted from Yottam Ottolenghi's Plenty

1 large sweet potato, skin on, cut into 2cm chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
35g pecans, roughly chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
4 tablespoons each finely chopped coriander and parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
handful sultanas
salt and pepper

60ml olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Place the cubed sweet potato on a parchment-lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Roast for 30 mins or until tender. Gently turn over halfway through cooking time.

Meanwhile, combine all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

Remove sweet potato from oven and cool for ten minutes. Toss together with pecans, spring onions, herbs, chilli, sultanas, salt and pepper. Drizzle over dressing and toss to coat. Serve. Salad will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pulled Beef Tacos with Homemade BBQ sauce

I wish someone would slow roast me in an oven for 4 hours, maybe then the warmth might seep through to my bones and stay there long enough for me to not have to wear my pair of thickly knitted Christmas socks to bed at night. Red Christmas socks with Santa's face on them are not particularly seductive, especially when paired with leggings and numerous other woollens. It's hard to be seductive in June through August, you have to think of other ways that don't have anything to do with lace or satin, try pulled beef tacos. Works every time.

You see, the days have darkened around here. Rows and rows of black stockings have appeared on the washing line and blankets are being piled on top of sheets. Rosé has been replaced with pinot noir and beef isn't barbecued anymore but is roasted, slowly slowly, in a sweet and sticky sauce until you can gently shred and pull it apart with two forks, ready to be wrapped in soft tortillas with a squeeze of lime. This kind of food takes some time, but it's ok because Sydney is notoriously shit at keeping it interesting in the rain and the cold. Summers are snoozed away on sandy shores but winters give you time to slow roast, set fires and watch two seasons of The Sopranos without feeling guilty that you should be out picking berries or surfing or barbecuing something.

Pulled pork has gone through a little re-awakening lately, and it IS delicious, worthy of its own post in fact. But there was something about this beef that I fell in love with, the chuck steak was fattier than pork neck, so the meat was softer, richer and pulled apart easier. I think beef also matches well with a dark, sweet sticky sauce, pork is better matched with braised apples and a bit of sourness. Next time you have half a day and a few people willing to supply tequila and a piñata, seduce them with this. You're welcome!

Pulled Beef Tacos with Homemade BBQ Sauce:
adapted slightly from a recipe by Emma Knowles via Gourmet Traveller

serves 10

Barbecue sauce
1½ onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
250 ml whiskey
165 gm (½ cup) golden syrup 
125 ml (½ cup) each tomato sauce, lemon juice and cider vinegar
80 ml (1/3 cup) Worcestershire sauce


30 ml vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
800 gm canned chopped tomatoes
2.5 kg beef chuck
20 soft corn tortillas 
To serve: butter lettuce leaves, coriander sprigs, grated cheese and lime wedges

For barbecue sauce, process onion, garlic and chilli in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add onion mixture, sauté until tender (6-8 minutes). Add bourbon, simmer for 5 minutes, add remaining ingredients. Simmer until thick (15-20 minutes), season to taste, cool. Makes about 550ml. Barbecue sauce will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion and garlic, sauté over medium heat until tender (4-5 minutes). Add can of tomatoes and barbecue sauce, simmer for 10 minutes. Add beef, bring to the simmer, cover, reduce heat to low, cook on the stovetop until the meat falls apart when you stick a fork into it (3½-4 hours). Remove the beef from the sauce using a slotted spoon and, when cool enough to handle, coarsely shred (discard sinew) using two forks and set aside. Continue cooking sauce, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until thick (30-40 minutes), drizzle a little over beef, keep warm. Serve with warmed tortillas, butter lettuce, grated cheese and lime wedges.

(The original recipe also includes a corn and green chilli relish which was lovely. Recipe is here.)


Friday, June 10, 2011

A Reuben Sandwich

Corned beef. Do you guys even like corned beef? Because I know some people have their doubts. Just like I have serious doubts about that Grey's Anatomy episode where they all sing, it's all pretty awkward.

Seriously though, corned beef is making a comeback. The thing is, the best part about a corned beef dinner is the leftovers the next day. Leftovers are a big deal for me because it's not often we have any lunch-worthy remnants of dinner in our house. Staring into the fridge around 8am in the morning at last nights stiff and cold spaghetti just makes me want to die. Does anyone else have this problem? I had just about given up trying to pack my lunches for work when I finally had some success with this sexy sandwich. 

Sexy might be a bit of a stretch. Sure, the taste is all kinds of awesome; sour, vinegary cabbage with a seeded mustard mayonnaise and Swiss cheese that melts all over the slabs of beef when toasted. But I don't think this lunch would win any awards at a beauty pageant, even if it was sleeping with the judge, even if it slept with ALL the judges. But since last week's fudge cake disaster I'm losing my faith in pretty, turning instead to messy. Messy hair, messy room, messy sandwiches. Much better.

A Reuben Sandwich
serves 1

This is a seriously quick version of sauerkraut, the flavour is still there, and the cabbage retains some bite, but you don't have to let it ferment for hours.

about 1/2 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1 tablespoon olive oil
glug of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 slices multigrain sourdough (or rye bread is traditional)
1 tablespoon whole-egg mayonnaise
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 slices Swiss cheese
3-4 slices left over corned beef

To make the quick sauerkraut, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the cabbage and sauté for 2-3 minutes until nearly tender. Add the cider vinegar and stir until the vinegar has disappeared from the pan, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and add to a small bowl. Add caraway seeds and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Butter the outside of each piece of bread. Combine mayonnaise and mustard and spread on one side of bread. Top with corned beef, cheese then cabbage. Toast until warmed through and the cheese has melted. Serve with pickles.