Thursday, November 26, 2015

EwE - Meatballs with Simple Marinara

This week's Eating with Ellie dish is Meatballs with Simple Marinara, chosen by Margaret.  I always thought that marinara implied seafood (there is none in this dish), and that a tomato sauce was Napoli, but hey, a rose by any other name ...

This was another surprise hit.  The meatballs/rissoles of my childhood or in a can were rather dry, nuggety things, but these meatballs were moist and delicious - presumably because of the addition of grated carrot and cooking them in the sauce.   They were flavourful and filling and I'd make them again.

I served my meatballs with the salad from next week:

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pumpkin Pie for US Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States.  To celebrate with my US readers, I thought I'd make a pumpkin pie, traditional Thanksgiving fare.  

There are  many, many different recipes for pumpkin pie.  I decided to make the recipe from the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie.  Hoosier Mama is a pie shop in Chicago, but a Hoosier is a resident of Indiana, the neighbouring state to Illinois.  This book has few photos but lots of pie recipes.  You can also find the recipe online here.

I had to adapt the recipe for a number of practical reasons.  First, canned pumpkin puree is not a thing in Australia; nor is pumpkin pie spice.  You might be able to track them down for an exorbitant price in specialist shops, but I am more resourceful than that.  For the puree, I roasted a piece of pumpkin for an hour then mashed it.  For the pumpkin pie spice, I combined half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger with a grating of nutmeg on top - I have no idea how authentic that is, but I wasn't going to look up what's in pumpkin pie spice at the time of night I was making this pie.  A major oversight on my part was not having cream - a bit silly given that pumpkin pie has a custard filling.  However, I improvised with natural yoghurt, which dare I say it, seemed to work.  (It also used up the remainder of a pot of yoghurt that I was not particularly fond of.)

The crust was Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough rather than the one in the book, as that is the one that I am used to.

Although the crust got a bit knocked around (you can see where my oven mitts mauled it getting it out of the oven), the end result was pretty good:  

I served this sans cream, as it is "healthy" enough as it is ;)

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia (the Pilgrims didn't land here!), so Christmas is our next big celebration.  They put up the gorgeous tree in the foyer of our building over the weekend:

This year, it has winky lights - I love it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US readers!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Banana and Coffee Cake

I recently made a gorgeous Banana and Coffee Cake recipe by Julie Goodwin that I found in the September 2015 edition of the Australian Womens Weekly.  The recipe also called for a caramel sauce to be served with it, but I didn't think that was necessary.

The cake was gorgeous and moist, and is one of my favourite banana cake recipes.  One of my colleagues asked for the recipe, so it can't have been too bad.

To make this cake, you will need:

185g butter
Stevia - the recipe says 1 cup (245g) - I thought this sounded mad so I used 18 x 2g stevia sachets, equivalent to 1 cup of sugar, which seemed quite enough
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups/335g self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups/525g mashed ripe banana
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup/200g sour cream
1 cup/100g roasted chopped walnuts
1/4 cup/60ml boiling water
3 teaspoons expresso coffee granules

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius., and grease and line a 22cm round cake tin.

Beat the butter and stevia in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mashed banana, vanilla, sour cream and walnuts and combined water and coffee and combine using a rubber spatula.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.

Place the cake in the oven to bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice into generous wedges to serve as is, with caramel sauce or icecream.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Little Frankie's, South Yarra

A couple of weeks ago, Tim and I went for lunch at Adriano Zumbo's newest establishment, Little Frankie's.  Little Frankie's is a tiny cafe attached to Fancy Nance, Adriano's high tea venue in South Yarra.  In fact, from our vantage point in Little Frankie's, we could watch all the ladies decked out in fancy clothes enjoying high tea.  The two venues are separated by this very colourful mural:

At Little Frankie's, you can eat in or take away.  There are pastries with an Italian spin:

and panini:

and some very tempting gelato:

Tim and I ate in.  I ordered this proscuitto panini with cherry tomatoes and buffalo mozarella:

The panini was like a big soft cushion, and the fresh ingredients on top made it a delight to eat.

For dessert, we indulged in gelato - for me, the banana and caramel swirl in a cone:

Little Frankie's also does a decent coffee:

Little Frankie's was quiet when we were there, especially compared with the noise and bustle coming from Fancy Nance next door.  We liked the calmer atmosphere, where we could talk without shouting and didn't have to wait to be served.

If you are in the South Yarra area, Little Frankie's is worth a visit - dare ya to resist the bombolini!

21 Daly Street
South Yarra VIC 3141

Thursday, November 19, 2015

EwE - Taco Pizzas

This week for Eating with Ellie, Kayte chose Ellie's Taco Pizzas.  These use corn tortillas that have been oven toasted as a pizza base, which is then loaded with a spicy bean paste topping, turkey mince, corn and cheese.  There was also meant to be shallots on top, but I forgot them.

I wasn't initially enthused by this recipe, but the combination tastes good.  After the first night, I wrapped the ingredients in the fresh tortilla and toasted it in a sandwich press, which was less messy and tasted better.

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Charleston Coconut Bliss Cake - Melbourne Cake Club

Last Thursday night, the Melbourne Cake Club met at Bad Frankie in Fitzroy.  November's theme was Cocktail Cakes, inspired by the spring racing carnival.

My cake was a Charleston Coconut Bliss Cake.  It doesn't look very exciting, but it tasted great.  Think coconut liqueur sponge, filled with rum spiked mango and topped with coconut sprinkled icing.  The recipe was from Bootleg Bakery by Kiki Bee.

Half the fun of the Cake Club is how everyone interprets the theme.  Nicole made a mud cake in the shape of a cocktail:

Kara made an orange cake filled with cointreau custard and topped with marmalade, with chocolate sauce on the side: 

Dalya made a pina colada cake, studded with pineapple and smothered with caramel:

We dressed up for the occasion too with fascinators.  Here's Dalya and Nicole:

and Kara and I:

Bad Frankie has an awesome cocktail list, so I went for Mrs Ffrench's Apple Pie No 2 - brandy, cinnamon, myrtle, eucalyptus and apple juice:

This is what the cakes looked like inside:

It was a fun evening with some truly delicious cakes.

To make your own Charleston Coconut Bliss Cake, you will need:

100g dessicated coconut
100ml coconut liqueur
150g butter
100g sugar
3 beaten eggs
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

2 ripe mangoes
juice of one lemon
juice of one lime
50ml rum

300g icing sugar
dessicated coconut for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line 2 x 18cm round cake tins.

Put the dessicated coconut and  coconut liqueur in a bowl and stir to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until light and creamy.   Add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well between each addition.  

Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold through the butter mixture.  Finally, fold in the coconut mixture. 

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done. Unmould the cakes after 5 minutes out of the oven and cool them on a wire rack.

To make the mango filling, remove the flesh from the mangoes.  Thinly slice the flesh of one mango and set aside.  Puree the flesh of the other mango and combine in a bowl with the rum, lemon juice and lime juice.  Spread the puree over the top of one of the cakes, arrange the mango slices on top of the puree, then top with the other cake.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar  in a bowl and combine with just enough cold water to make a thick paste.  Spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with coconut.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tour

Tim and I recently went on a wine tasting tour with Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tours, as part of Tim's birthday celebrations.

Our tour lasted for a day, and we visited five wineries, a chocolate shop and a cheese shop.

We left Melbourne at 9am, with the first stop being at Yering Farm Wines.

Here, we learned the basics of wine tasting (colour, aerating, smell, a quick swallow over the tongue and then a lingering taste, holding the wine in your mouth).  I bought a lovely dessert wine here.

Here's Tim and I on the breezy morning at Yering Farm: 

Our next stop was Yarra Valley Dairy, where we were treated to a selection of cheeses to try:

My favourite cheese was a marinated goats cheese called Cardi, marinated in oil with shallots, coriander, peppercorns and cardamom.  I liked it so much that I bought a jar to take homer.

There is also a café attached to the Dairy, so that you can enjoy a meal or a snack during your visit.

Next stop was Domain Chandon, where the beautiful cottage and garden situated at the top of this post is located.  Here we could choose a glass of one of their four types of sparkling wine.  I selected the Chandon Cuvee Riche, a sweet sparkling wine:

After enjoying a glass of sparkling wine and a walk in the grounds, we drove to our stop at Rochford Wines.  Here, we did another tasting, this time with each of us being given a sheet of paper to rate the wines:

We were also invited to select a lunch dish (included in the tour price) from four options.  I chose the pea risotto:

while Tim chose the salmon salad:

We shared each of these dishes.  We also received a glass of wine of our choice (red or white).  Lunch is included in the tour price.

After exploring the grounds at Rochford Wines, we drove in our mini bus to the next stop - St Huberts

By this stage, some of our group were over the wine tasting and opted out.  because I tasted and but did not swallow most of the wine, I was still good to do the tasting.

Our final stop was Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery

Here I was delighted to experience a chocolate tasting:

The chocolate was all very good, but it is on the pricey side.  Tim and I chipped in to share a block of the Lemon Myrtle chocolate that we tasted.

Be warned that this place is very popular and hence very busy, so you need to bring your patience with you.

The chocolaterie was our final stop before heading back to Melbourne.

I really enjoyed this winery tour.  The small tour size (14) and guide really enhanced the experience.  I hope to again sometime in the future.