Friday, April 29, 2016

Chocolate and Pear Frangipane Tart

I have rather mixed feelings about autumn. On the one hand, days are shorter and darker and colder, heralding the rapid approach of my most dreaded season, winter.  On the other hand, the trees turn out in their most glamorous and brightly hued foliage (a last hurrah before dropping their clothes for the winter?), the days are never too hot and the excellent autumn fruits are in season.

Tim recently handed me a recipe he found in the local paper that celebrates one of the best of those autumn fruits, the pear.  The recipe was for a Chocolate and Pear Frangipane Tart, with the pears poached in red wine before being fanned out across a bed of chocolate frangipane and bedecked with reduced red wine sauce:

You can find the same recipe online here.

What did I love about this recipe?  I loved the smooth, not overly sweet taste of the chocolate frangipane against the cool, soft depth of the poached pears.  I also loved the gorgeous red wine reduction sauce on top - this is one occasion where I'd say don't skip the sauce, at least if you love red wine or dessert wines.

What didn't I love?  The pastry was ultra difficult to work with - even after chilling for the requisite period, it quickly turned sticky and just would not come off the baking paper I was rolling it on.  In the end, I scraped it off the paper in blobs and just mooshed it into the tart pan.

I served my tart not only with the red wine sauce, but with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, which helped to make it all a little moister and slide down the throat - brilliant.

This tart, although a little fiddly to make because of the number of elements, is quite delicious and well worth the effort if you have the time. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

EwE - What's on the Side - Zucchini, Spinach and Corn Saute

Our last theme for Eating with Ellie in April is What's On the Side?, chosen by Margaret.  Ellie described her Zucchini, Spinach and Corn Saute as one of her favourite sides at a particular Mexican restaurant.  She suggested pairing it with her Chicken Enchiladas.  The combination sounded faultless, so I went with that combination.

This side is super easy to make - I used tinned corn kernels (although you can use fresh), bagged baby spinach and zucchinis paired with onion and garlic, sautéed in the pan.  It is super quick to prepare and super tasty.

To see what the others made for this week's Ellie theme, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

TWD - Jammer Galette

When I was a kid, my mother used to make a wonderful jam and coconut slice.  It was very simple to make, with the base just being pushed into the pan, jam being smeared on top, and an egg white and coconut topping being spooned carefully over the top to cover the jam.  It was then baked to golden perfection and sliced into squares for enjoying with a cup of Milo or put into school lunch boxes. You can find the recipe for that slice here.

Fast forward to the present, and this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe, Jammer Galette, was like a more sophisticated sort of jam slice.  It comprises a pastry base made with a reasonably easy to work with dough, topped with a significant amount of jam, then instead of being topped with coconut snow, it is topped with a buttery streusel.

I used mixed berry jam for the middle (just because I had it), and when serving the galette, I took up Dorie's suggestion to top it with a little icecream (in my case, raspberry ripple, replicating the jam filling of the galette).

The Jammer Galette  was absolutely delicious served just warm as a Sunday night dessert.  It gets a resounding thumbs up from me - a buttery, jammy sensation with a hint of nostalgia.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made from Baking Chez Moi this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Today is ANZAC Day in Australia.  To find out more about ANZAC Day, check out this link.

ANZAC biscuits are common in Australia all year round, not just on ANZAC Day.  Legend has it that loved ones sent the ANZAC soldiers ANZAC biscuits during World War I because they kept well.

This year, to commemorate ANZAC Day, I decided to make ANZAC slice instead of ANZAC biscuits.  The concept is simply to take the basic elements of ANZAC biscuits (rolled oats, golden syrup, coconut) and put them into slice (bar) form.

The recipe that I used for my ANZAC slice is available online here.  There are also lots of other similar recipes for this slice.

If you have never smelt ANZAC biscuits or ANZAC slice baking before, then you are in for a treat if you make this.  It has a sweet yet earthy smell, and the golden syrup and brown sugar give the slice a caramel flavour.

The advantage in making ANZAC slice as opposed to ANZAC biscuits is that there is less fuss in making the slice - you simply push the mixture into the prepared tin and cut it into pieces after baking, as opposed to having to roll individual balls for biscuits, and you eliminate the issue of the biscuits spreading into one another.

To all Australians and New Zealanders, I hope that you are enjoying ANZAC Day.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chez Dre and Bibelot, South Melbourne

A couple of weeks ago, Tim and I went on a South Melbourne adventure.  We started with lunch at Chez Dre,  a fabulous café and bakery tucked into a laneway in South Melbourne.  The menu is described as "French-inspired", and offers all day breakfast dishes as well as a lunch menu.

Chez Dre is very popular - we had to put our name on the wait list and sit on a bench outside, but we waited less than 10 minutes for a table.

Once inside at a cosy corner table, I ordered one of the all day breakfast dishes, Stracciatella di Bufala ($17.50).  This dish comprised two poached eggs sitting atop a bed of roast pumpkin and pepitas on sour dough toast, with beetroot chips and pea shoots.  It was absolutely delish and very filling. 

After lunch, we went for a walk around the streets of South Melbourne and Albert Park Lake:

We spied a very lush wedding party at a lakeside venue with gorgeous white roses on display.  The guests were all seated in the sunny enclosed area outside the venue, and the groom's party was standing at the front, no doubt waiting for the bride's big entrance.

Once we had walked off some of our lunch, we went for coffee and dessert at Chez Dre's sister dessert boutique, Bibelot (meaning a small object of desire).

We came late in the day (around 3pm), so many of the desserts were already gone.  However, we were very happy with our choice of the Peanut Caramel Tart ($9.50), which we shared:

This gorgeous little dome has a chocolate sable base filled with chocolate ganache, then topped with peanut caramel and caramel crème:

It tasted as amazing as it looks.  It was like a fancy Snickers bar. 

Bibelot also serves chocolates and icecream, with a range of jams and other products on sale.

We enjoyed our afternoon in South Melbourne and hope to return soon.

Chez Dre and Bibelot
285-287 Coventry St
South Melbourne VIC 3205

Thursday, April 21, 2016

EwE - It's In the Bag - Cajun Chicken with Vegetables in Foil Packets

This week's theme for Eating with Ellie is "It's in the Bag", chosen by Kayte.  She spoke about parchment, but there were no parchment Ellie recipes that I could find.  However, she does do a line in cooking in foil packets, which is where I went with this theme.

The only "in the bag" recipe in Weeknight Wonders has already been made by the group, so I had to look elsewhere for a recipe.  I chose Ellie's Cajun Shrimp in foil packets, but substituted chicken for the prawns.  

This was such a delicious dish - chicken that has been coated in cajun (creole) seasoning, poached in a foil packet in the oven with sausage (I used saucisson), chopped capsicum (peppers) and frozen vegetables (which I used instead of corn), with a "sauce" made from olive oil and white wine.  

This one is a definite keeper - but I'd say that about most of Ellie's recipes.

To see what other "It's in the Bag" recipes the group made, visit the LYL section of the EwE website

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Apple and Grape Pie

Recently, I found myself left with a whole bunch of sliced apples that I had leftover from my  Upside Down Toffee Apple Cake, and a lot of red grapes left over from some Eating with Ellie dishes.  I was keen not to waste these precious ingredients, so I began Googling for a cake recipe using apples and grapes.  I found one, but I also found that apple and grape pies seemed to be way more popular.  I don't make pies very often because they are a lot more effort than your average cake, but on this occasion, the evidence was irrefutably in favour of making an apple and grape pie.

I ended up using elements from two different recipes for my pie.  I used the crust recipe from Bon Appetit and the filling recipe from Spinach Tiger.

The Bon Appetit crust baked up as a wonderful combination of buttery and crisp (because of the shortening).  It was relatively easy to work with as well.

However, I used Spinach Tiger's filling because it left the apples and grapes largely in their natural state without cooking them down first, and it was of course a lot quicker to make.

The resulting pie was absolutely heavenly.  The apples cooked down so much that the most noticable element of the filling was the grapes.

I did have a lot of juice cook out of the pie and I worried about a "soggy bottom" on my pie; however, when I took the pie out of its tin, there was no issues - the base had held up with the par-baked crust.

If you happen to have a glut of apples and grapes on hand, or just fancy the combination of apples and grapes, I can highly recommend this pie.