Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Neb At Nut Roast II - Cheesy Nut Roast



My fellow Melburnian, Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe, is hosting an event called A Neb At Nut Roast.  Johanna has challenged us to make a nut roast and post about it by 5 May 2011. 

I personally had never made a nut roast before.  My sole experience and knowledge of nut roasts is the Christmas sequence in the film, About A Boy, where Toni Collette's slightly unhinged mother character serves a nut roast for Christmas dinner, as she and her son are vegetarian.




I chose to make Johanna's cheesy nut loaf, made of vegetables, nuts, cheese and rice, as I could not find a recipe for nut roast in my own recipe books, and this sounded like a nice introduction to nut roasts.  Here are a few of the ingredients:







The nut roast was easy to make - I recommend having a food processor to grind the nuts yourself, or else buy the nuts pre-ground.

I served my nut roast with steamed veges and tomato sauce - and it tasted pretty good, as well as looking very colourful, and was quite filling:



I see no reason why I wouldn't make nut roast again.  It seems like a fairly healthy alternative to meat, is easy to make, and there are lots of variations out there.

Thanmks to Johanna for hosting this event and for introducing me to something that I may not have otherwise been motivated to try.

Friday, April 29, 2011

FFwD - Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak


This week's French Fridays with Dorie allowed me to indulge in one of my favourite meals - a good old fashioned steak.  The recipe is for Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak, and is essentially a steak rubbed with freshly cracked black pepper and served with a cream sauce.  

I skimped on the sauce, so you can barely see it in my photo, but it was there.  I enjoyed this steak, even though I used the cut that I had in my freezer (rump) instead of the cut that Dorie stated.

I served my steak with curly tail fries and baked asparagus.  

This method of cooking steak is not unlike how I normally cook my steak, sans the sauce, so there were no surprises for me.

To see what everyone else thought of this week's dish, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chocolate Fridge Cake for the Royal Wedding


Unless you have been living in total isolation from the media for the last six months, you will know that Prince William and Catherine Middleton will marry tomorrow in Westminster Abbey.  Ensconced as I am Down Under, I have not seen any of the Royal Wedding tat that is readily available in England, although I have a friend in London who is purchasing some and posting her finds on Facebook.
However, I could not avoid the coverage of the finer details of the Royal Wedding, including that in addition to the traditional wedding cake, Prince William is having a groom's cake in the form of a chocolate fridge cake.  He has commissioned McVities, makers of the key ingredient of rich tea biscuits, to make this cake (the other one is being made by Fiona Cairns), as it has fond childhood memories for him.

A chocolate fridge cake is roughly a concoction of chocolate, biscuits, nuts and fruit.  Depending on which recipe you use, it contains golden syrup or condensed milk, glace cherries or raisins or both, dark or milk chocolate or a mixture of both, and nuts - or not.  There are a trillion different recipes online, all claiming to be "the" recipe.  

I wanted to make a chocolate fridge cake as my tribute to William and Catherine, so I threw my hat into the ring with a recipe I found here in The Daily Mail. This one contains condensed milk and is non-specific about the type of chocolate.  I used Paradise Rich Tea Biscuits, the McVities version being frightfully expensive here and only available from The British Shop.  They are not the same as McVities because they contain currants, but I thought that this would boost the dried fruit content of the cake.  I also soaked my raisins for half an hour in a tablespoon of Cointreau to plump them up and add a tinge of orange flavour to the cake.  As I didn't have glace cherries, I left them out, and chose walnuts as the nuts for this cake.

A word of warning about this recipe - it did not set up particularly well, and the crisp layer of additional chocolate on top made the soft under-layer especially hard to cut.  I used dairy spread instead of butter (because the recipe indicated that margarine was OK) - perhaps this had something to do with it.  However, to be on the safe side, I recommend placing a layer of unbroken (preferably square or rectangular) biscuits in the bottom of the pan and layering the rest on top so that there is a solid base for your fridge cake.

I have tried a square of the not-quite-set cake, and can say with certainty that it tastes like you'd expect - very sweet, candy bar-like, slightly crunchy and very good in a childlike way.

I am not quite sure whether I will watch the wedding yet - I love a good frock, but I don't have to watch the whole wedding to see Catherine's dress. Will you be watching the wedding?

Dining at Ezard



I am very excited, because I am a member of the newly formed The Restaurant Club.  Once every one or two months, The Restaurant Club will meet at a different restaurant to enjoy some fine food, wine and conversation, with members of the Club to choose the venue alternately.

Our first event was at Ezard in Flinders Lane, Melbourne.  On Friday nights, you can get three courses for $95, and this was the option we chose, as many of us did not feel able to tackle the 8 course degustation menu ($120).

I arrived early, so while waiting in the lounge, I managed to down two glasses of the 2004 Winstead Blanc de Noirs - a very fine sparkling indeed.   Ezard is dimly lit, so at that stage, I could quite comfortably have curled up for a kip on the lounge.

When everyone arrived, we were seated at our table, and each given a slice of soft white bread to enjoy with the garlic and rosemary infused oil and these fine condiments:



From left to right, they are dashi salt (with seaweed and fish flakes); chilli palm sugar (it sounds weird, but this was my favourite - sweet then hot on the tongue and absolutely devine); and salt and Szechuan pepper.

We were then served an amuse bouche of a garlic prawn (forgive the terrible photo - the lighting was dim and I hadn't mastered my iPhone camera yet):



Next came entree.  I chose the five spiced bangalow sweet pork belly with celeriac and apple remoulade and mustard sauce:


OMG - this was devine, and perhaps my favourite dish of the night.  I was a bit worried about having pork belly for entree in case it was heavy and filling, but it barely touched the sides.  The gloriously cooked pork was thinly sliced so that it was as light as a feather on the stomach, and the combination of apple and mustard with the pork was a dream come true.

For main, I chose the pan fried john dory with cauliflower cream, roasted jerusalem artichokes, seared scallop, farmed osetra caviar and chive oil (also pictured at the top of this post):
 


The foam that you can see is the cauliflower cream, and the top photo more clearly shows the scallop and caviar (which were hiding under the garnish).  This dish did not strike such a strong chord with me -  I found the cauliflower cream too rich for my liking, and the dish did not sit as well with me as the pork.  Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for fish - next time, I would be keen to try the caramelised pork hock that one of my colleagues tried, as that looked magnificent.  (Of course, I then would not have pork belly for entree!)

Finally, out came the desserts - and as I exclaimed at the time, they were awesome!  My pick was the duo of pear and caramel parfait, passionfruit syrup and salted popcorn, topped with pashmak:
  


The icecream in the parfait was a little firm, but the overall taste combination was fabulous, and the addition of the salted popcorn was inspired.

A colleague was recommended the fromage frais cheesecake with a tuile, sago pearls and rhubarb sorbet, and topped with vermicelli:



The "frogs eggs" are the sago pearls, and I am told that this dessert was fantastic.

A number of Club members chose the honeycrunch icecream, toasted gingerbread and sugar swirl:





It looks pretty spectacular and won a unanimous tick of approval from those who chose it.

Our meal was accompanied by red wine (I didn't choose it so I don't know what it was).

The service was very efficient, knowledgeable and courteous, with one of the Club members taking quite a fancy to our waiter.

All in all, we had a fantastic evening that more that justified the price of the meal.  For a special occasion or whenever you feel like a splurge, Ezard is a fantastic venue to dine at.


Ezard
187 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Ph: +61 3 9639 6811




Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Maple Mousse in an Edible Container


One of the best things about blogging is learning from other bloggers what they like to eat and what is traditional fare for them.  For ages, I have read posts by Canadians about combining ultra sweet maple syrup with salty bacon, and intrigued, I have wanted to try it for myself for the longest time.

This month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz gave me the perfect opportunity to try maple syrup and bacon together.  She wanted to share with us the Canadian experience of a “Cabane √† Sucre” (that is, a sugar shack pilgrimage), where people feast on eggs, ham, pea soup, pork rinds, beans, pancakes, bacon and pies drizzled with maple syrup and follow it up with maple syrup taffy for dessert.
The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!
 
For my edible containers, I tried to make the bacon cups, as well as making a regular tart shell using dough left over from another project:



 As you can see, my bacon cups, moulded around dariole moulds used for mini Christmas puddings, were an epic fail!  I think that bacon here is cut slightly differently than in the US and Canada, and is very irregular in shape, making it difficult to wrap tightly around a mould in a woven pattern.

However, necessity is the mother of invention, and I joined the two holey bacon cups into one: 




I think it looks kind of pretty, like a meaty rose, don't you think?

The bacon took forever to crisp up in the oven, not helped by my desperate addition of more bacon as they cooked to try and plug the holes as the bacon shrank.  However, I do like the idea of baking bacon, because all the fat cooks off, and you are not adding more fat like you do when you fry bacon.  So in my books, oven baked bacon = healthy bacon!

I don't have a photo of the mousse in the bacon cup, because the photo that I took was so bad that I deleted it, not knowing what it was when I went to write this post.  Only after scratching my head for a while wondering where the photo went did I realise that it was the unrecognisable horror that I had deleted.

My verdict on the maple mousse and bacon combination is this:  at first, the very salty bacon and very sweet mousse are superb together - I enjoyed the intensity of the flavour combination.  However, after a couple more bites, the whole thing became too overwhelming, and I couldn't go on.  This experience showed me that the bacon and maple combination has terrific potential - however, I would like to tone it down a few decibels, perhaps with a smaller portion size or playing with the bacon: mousse ratio.  I actually think mini muffin size bacon cups with a small splodge of mousse would be perfect (which is the opposite to Evelyne's findings).

For the tart, I just filled a 6 inch tart shell made using Dorie Greenspan's  sweet tart dough with as much mousse as it would hold, and cut up a piece of crispy oven baked bacon to decorate the tart. I didn't try the tart (I donated it to work), so I am not sure how this combination went down.

As I only made a half recipe of the mousse, I only need the two edible "cups" that I had.

Thanks to our host, Evelyne, for introducing me to a new flavour experinece, one that I am keen to experiment with in the future.  This month, the Daring Bakers (moi excepted) have been even more creative than usual because there is a competion, so do yourself a favour and check out the slideshow on 27 April (US time) on the website of all the different edible containers for the maple mousse.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TWD - Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies


This week for Tuesday with Dorie, I was pleased to see a recipe using cornmeal, which I bought for another Dorie challenge.  Valerie, of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine, chose Dorie's Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies.

These cookies were easy enough to put together, but I think I rolled mine a little too thinly, as in the oven, they all blended together into one super cookie.  I cut the super cookie while it was still pliable so that I ended up with individual cookies.

These cookies tasted good - they are shortbread after all - but would have been better if I had left the dough a little thicker.

Thanks to Valerie for hosting us this week - she will have the recipe, or buy the book, Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  To check out how other TWD members fared with these cookies, visit the TWD website at this week's LYL section.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Figolli for World Figolli Day




Figolli? Eh? This was my first thought when I received an invitation on Facebook from Nanette of Gourmet Worrier to participate in World Figolli Day. If, like me, you have never heard of figolli, they are traditional Maltese almond pastries cut into symbolic shapes and decorated with royal icing topped with an Easter egg.


In Nanette's words:



The idea behind World Figolli Day is that you turn off the television and get off the couch and head into the kitchen with your kids, nieces and nephews and have a bonding session with some dough and royal icing and hopefully pass on a few Maltese culinary traditions whilst your at it.



Once you've completed your creations remember to take a photo of them and then upload your images to the World Figolli Day flickr group.


I am up for a challenge, so I decided to make some egg shaped figolli using this recipe.

Making figolli is a multi-stage process, and I don't recommend doing it (like I did) starting at 7.30pm after a Pilates class while needing to pack to go away for 5 days and with a sink full of washing up.  That said, it is not difficult, just time consuming.

First, you make the pastry and chill it.  While the pastry is chilling, you make almond paste (handy for using in other recipes, and I had heaps left over).  You then roll out the dough to ~ 1/4 inch thick, and cut out an even numbers of matching shapes.  Place half of the shapes on a baking paper lined cookie tray, then spoon about a teaspoon or so of almond paste on top of each half and spread it over the cookie shape, nearly but not quite to the edge.  Next, using a pastry brush, brush around the edge of each shape (outside the almond paste) with water.  Finally, place the matching half of each shape on top of it, and seal the cookie by pressing around the edges so that the water glues the edges of the top and the bottom halves of the cookies together.  You then bake the cookies until golden brown: 


Allow the cookies to cool completely.

The next step is to decorate the cookies with royal icing.  I used this recipe.  Colour the icing however you like.  I tried to make duck egg blue, but the icing turned out a little darker than that.  Once you have iced the cookie, pop a foiled mini Easter egg in the middle of it before the icing dries so that it "sticks" to the cookie, and pipe on contrasting decorations if desired: 


Once the icing has set, eat and enjoy!



To check out all of the wonderfully creative figolli, visit the Flickr link referred to at the top of this post. Thanks to Nanette for introducing me to a new and definitely enjoyable Easter treat.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Matzo Brittle




I had first read about candy made using crackers in the New York Times Christmas recipes section, where they used saltine crackers with chocolate, caramel and nuts to create candy.  I ws intrigued, but filed it in the "to do" list which grows every day.

However, when it came time to do some Easter baking, I wanted to include the Jewish members of our team (who incidentally turned out not to be devout so I needn't have worried).  Inspired by this recipe that I found at Smitten Kitchen, I decided to make matzo brittle.  This should really be called "crack candy", because it is soooo addictive.  What is not to like about chocolate, nuts and caramel on a crunchy biscuit?

The matzo brittle is a breeze to make.  Take 4 matzo boards and fit them snugly into a foil lined cookie tray:




Next, make a caramel with butter and brown sugar, and pour it over the matzo, then bake the caramel covered matzo in the oven for 15 minutes:




Chop up 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate finely, and when the caramel matzo comes out of the oven, sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the surface of the caramel.   Leave it to sit for 5 minutes, then using a metal spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top of the matzo, and sprinkle it with chopped nuts:

 


Finally, when the matzo brittle has cooled, break it into shards - brilliant!

Try it - I am absolutely in love with this recipe, and when made with kosher ingredients, it is a perfect Passover treat. I am not Jewish, but I loved this candy - I'd definitely make it again



Friday, April 22, 2011

FFwD - Mustard Batons


This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe (which happens to be Good Friday) is Mustard Batons. Just as it says on the tin, these are puff pastry sticks enclosing a thin spread of mustard and brushed with egg wash to brown them.



Warm, these tasted good. They's make a great alternative to nuts or chips on the snacks table at a party.


If you'd like to see lots of mustard batons, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Raspberry and pear cake


Don't you just love getting the newspaper on the weekend, putting your feet up on the couch or bed, and spending a few lazy hours reading it?  This is one of my favourite pastimes, although I seem to do it less and less these days.  I  look forward especially to reading the insert magazines, which are full of columns and stories and, best of all, recipes.   

On Saturday, the magazine in The Age is called Good Weekend, and regularly features recipes by one of Australia's top chefs, Neil Perry, of Rockpool and Spice Temple fame.  I tear any recipes out that I fancy and put them in my enormous recipe stash, fervently hoping that one day I make at least some of them.

Last month, Neil featured a raspberry and pear cake in his column, which immediately caught my eye.  I love fluffy, fruit-filled cakes, and this one fit the bill nicely.

The cake was easy to make, and the longest step was the baking time of one hour and fifteen minutes.  For my labour, I was rewarded with a fluffy, buttery, moist, spongy cake studded liberally with raspberries and pear chunks.  In a word - devine!



To make this cake yourself, you will need:

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
juice of one lemon
180g butter, softened
180g sugar
2 eggs
200g self raising flour
100g almond meal
2 tablespoons milk
250g fresh or frozen raspberries (I only used 125g which was plenty)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Spray a 20cm springform pan with spray oil, and line the base with baking paper.

Pour the lemon juice over the chopped pears and toss to cover the pear chunks so that they don't brown.

Put the butter and sugar into the bowl  of a stand mixer, and beat until pale and creamy.  In a cup, beat the eggs together with a fork, then add it in a steady stream to the butter and sugar mixture while continuing to beat it.

In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, then whisk in the almond meal.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the flour and almond meal into the butter mixture in 3 separate lots.  The batter will become very thick - don't worry!  Stir in the milk, then carefully add the pears and raspberries to the batter and fold into the mixture with the rubber spatula.

Place the batter into the prepared springform pan, and smooth over the top with a metal spatula or knife.  Put the cake into the pre-heated oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove the cooked cake from the oven and cool in the springform pan on a wire rack.

Once the cake is cool, run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake from the sides, then take the cake out of the pan.  Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve.  


This is a really lovely cake - the type that you would like every day with your afternoon cup of tea.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TWD - A Tourtely Apple Tart


It definitely feels like Tuesday again, and for this week's Tuesday with Dorie, Jeanette of The Whimsical Cupcake chose A Tourteley Apple Tart. I am not sure what the grand title means, but I can tell you that this is a fantastic tart, albeit a little time consuming to make.

The double crust was supposed to be Dorie's sweet nut tart dough - somewhere along the way my mind forgot entirely about the nuts, so my tart dough is Dorie's ordinary (but absolutely super!) sweet tart dough.  I was kind of scared as the pastry lid was rolled out - I have never rolled out this dough before, and it is kind of crumbly, but a couple of hours in the fridge worked its magic, and the pastry came out hassle free.

The filling is apple, butter, raisins, almond meal, sugar and apple cider:


 It tastes pretty good - definitely worth the extra cooking time required for a normal apple filling.  Once the pre-cooked tart shell has cooled, it is filled with the apple filling, then the rolled and pre-cut pastry lid is placed on top, complete with (off centre) steam vent:



Water and a light roll with the rolling pin over the top seals the lid on.  I also brushed my top crust with egg wash to make sure that it browned up nicely in the oven.

After 45 minutes in the oven, you end up with this:
 

 

I forgot to turn down the heat half way through the baking time, so my crust is a little browner than it might otherwise be, but no matter - it still tasted good.

Here is a sneak peek inside:




Thanks to Jeanette for hosting us this week - she will have the recipe, or check out Dorie's book, Baking From My Home To Yours.  And to see how everyone else fared with the Tourtely Apple Tart, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gluten free, dairy free pear cupcakes



I have just finished watching Part 1 of Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.  For non-Aussies, Cleo is the Aussie born rival to Cosmo, born out of the fact that News Ltd lost the bid for the Australian rights to Cosmo to the Fairfax Group.  Cleo was born at approximately the same time as me, so I found it compelling viewing for more reasons than one.  I am loving the 70s fashion and hair, and I can't help but admire Ita Buttrose, the female editor of Cleo at its inception appointed by the Packers.  She is not only gutsy and strong (and it seemed that you had to be working for the Packers), but also stylish and very much a woman at the same time.  Ita had to deal with terrible upheaval at home as well as at work, while having to hold it all together - who needs it!  I laughed when I heard that Sir Frank Packer's nickname was "God" - I have worked in offices where there is also God.  The soundtrack is a fabulous assortment of 60s and 70s hits, including one of my personal favourites, The Real Thing, written by Australia's own Johnny Young.  I also chuckle every time that I hear Gough Whitlam's campaign song for the 1972 Australian Federal election, It's Time.

It was a weekend for recapturing my lost youth, and I watched The Breakfast Club, by John Hughes, for the first time.  I totally cracked up - it really was just like my school days (minus that scary principal!), despite being set in the US.  I blush to confess it, but if I was one of the characters in The Breakfast Club, I would be a girl version of Brian, the geek who believed that he had to achieve perfect marks at all costs (although I have never been called on to make an elephant lamp). And how good was the quote from John Bender when describing Brian as a "neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie"?  OMG - I just loved it!  And I am also loving Simple Minds' Don't You (Forget About Me), which is the movie's theme song. It is very representative of the era, and a terrific song to boot.

What does this have to do with food?  Nothing!  Just wanted to put down some things that have been going through my head this weekend before they are lost forever.  Now onto the food ...

This weekend, a group of us went out to celebrate my lovely friend Craig's birthday.  We went to Birdman Eating in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.  Its name was inspired by the Birdman Rally at the Moomba festival, and there are wooden artists' models with wings suspended from the ceiling as an homage to that event.  I won't review the food, which is designed to be shared, but I will say that I adored the slow roasted lamb and the duck confit that we had, as they were melt in your mouth fabulous, while the pavlova was very average and should have been given a miss.

A couple of weeks back, I made the pear cupcakes at the top of this post for Craig - they are gluten free and dairy free, and Craig tells me that they were quite delicious, and unusual because of the inclusion of golden syrup.  You can find the recipe here.  I think that they are definitely worth bringing to your attention, because so many gluten free recipes that I come across are flourless orange or chocolate cakes.  The beauty of these cupcakes is also that they don't use special gluten free flour, just plain old rice flour, which happens to be gluten free but is inexpensive to buy.  They are also super quick to make - which is what I need when I am baking mid-week.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, April 15, 2011

FFwD - Chocolate eclairs


This week's French Fridays with Dorie required us to make that very French treat, eclairs ("lightning").  The recipe was for vanilla eclairs, but the playing around section referred you to a recipe for chocolate pastry cream. I decided to go with chocolate pastry cream and chocolate icing, as I have made vanilla pastry cream many times, and was keen to try something different.

Here are my choux buns before being filled:


They appeared to deflate after being taken out of the oven - perhaps I should have skewered them to let out the steam.

I then filled them with chocolate pastry cream:


For whatever reason, my chocolate pastry cream did not firm up quite enough, so my eclairs ended up being a bit messy (although they tasted good!).  I just put ordinary chocolate icing on top of the eclairs rather than making a ganache, as I didn't have any cream.  The icing squished the pastry cream out of the eclairs, making them even messier!

I overheard a discussion on the kitchen that "they taste better than they look" - after I had carted my already messy eclairs into work, I'd have to agree with them. This did not stop me from eating 4 of them (2 on the night I made them and another 2 at work) - I made "eclair-lettes" as my pastry tip was not quite as big as Dorie recommended, so this is not as evil as it sounds!

To see how everyone else in the gorup fared with the eclairs, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gluten free, dairy free spice cookies and sesame crackers



Last weekend, I had the most wonderful time away with friends at Anglesea, along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.  It was gorgeous to leave behind all my cares and chores for a couple of days, and really just do - well, nothing.  We talked and watched TV and walked along the beach, and grocery shopping, cleaning, washing and vacuuming did not even enter my head.  Here is a view of Roadknight Beach at Anglesea:





Isn't it stunning?  The weather was just glorious on Saturday morning when we went for a walk along the beach, but turned to rain in the afternoon, so we turned to cooking TV for entertainment while the rain bucketed down outside.  Bliss!
As you can imagine, plenty of eating was also done.  Saturday morning was a highlight, with Sian making a bang up fry up breakfast of blueberry pancakes with honey, bacon and eggs.  It was fabulous!

One of my friends, Craig, is gluten and dairy intolerant, so I brought along a couple of treats that I baked to make sure he wouldn't miss out.  The first of those treats was the spice biscuits pictured at the top of this post - or the "nipple biscuits", as they became known.  The recipe came from the Fisher & Paykel website here.  These biscuits were very easy to make and tasty to boot - they would be particularly good at Christmas, when spice cookies are a given.  I used hazelnuts on top of my biscuits instead of almonds or walnuts, hence the reason for their "nipple" moniker.

I also made Craig these sesame crackers from Elana's Pantry:


They may not look like much, but they pack a punch - the sesame seeds make these crackers crunchy and flavoursome, and don't be tempted to add more salt - the recipe contains the perfect amount of salt.

Both of these treats were delicious, whether or not you have food intolerances.  I would definitely make them both again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TWD - Strawberry rhubarb double crisp


Rhubarb and strawberries seem like rather summery produce, so the timing for this week's Tuesday with Dorie pick by Sarah of Teapots and Cakestands is not quite perfect for anyone, it being early spring or autumn (depending on your hemisphere). Sarah chose Dorie's Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp as this week's recipe.

Luckily, here in the southern hemisphere, both rhubarb and strawberries were easily available.  This crisp features an oaty base and topping which contains both ground ginger and crystallised ginger, as well as walnuts, and is filled with cut rhubarb and a strawberry jam of sorts made with strawberries, ground ginger and sugar thickened with cornflour.

Here is my crisp:


This tasted rather good warm with icecream.  Not sure if I'll make it again yet, but it is certainly worth making.

To get the recipe, buy Dorie's book or visit Sarah's site.  And to check out what the other TWD bakers thought of this, visit the TWD website LYL section for this week.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Galaktoboureko




Galaktoboureko is a Greek sweet which translates literally to "milk pie".  It comprises a semolina custard between layers of filo pastry and soaked in a syrup.  It is known as the "king of sweets" in Greece.

Last year, my blogging friend Ivy of Kopiaste published a Cypriot cookbook called Mint, Cinnamon and Blossom Water.  One of the recipes in that book happens to be for galaktoboureko.  As I have wanted to make this dessert ever since I tried some that my friend Steve's mother had made, Ivy's recipe gave me the perfect opportunity to do so.

For the recipe, you can buy Ivy's book; there is also a similar, older version of this recipe by Ivy online here.  The recipe in the book is slightly different, as one of the cups of milk is substituted with cream, and the syrup recipe is dramatically scaled down (because you definitely won't need all of it).






One thing to note is that the recipe makes a huge quantity - you can easily halve this recipe and still make a significant quantity of galaktoboureko.
 
If custard and syrup are your bag, I highly recommend making galaktoboureko - it is truly the king of sweets.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fresh Fig Cake



Are you lucky enough to have a fig tree in your garden?  I have to laugh in the knowledge that when I was a child, the next door neighbour had an enormous fig tree that overhung our back garden, but the figs went to waste because no-one picked them, and we in fact viewed them as a nuisance, because a part of our back yard would become an unusable mess of rotting, stinking figs that had fallen from the tree into our yard.

Fast forward about 30 years, and if that tree were still there, I would be gleefully harvesting the fruit overhanging into our yard.  I adore fresh figs, and lament that the season is so short and that figs are so expensive.

For my final fig recipe using the figs given to Karen at work by the fruit man, I made a fresh fig cake from the recipe here. This cake is light and fluffy and delicious, and allows the flavour of the figs to shine.

Unfortunately, my figs largely sank into the cake, but no matter - this was a good cake.

Hope you enjoy this recipe if you try it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

FFwD - Garlicky crumb-coated broccoli



When I saw this week's French Friday with Dorie recipe - Garlicky crumb-coated broccoli - I can't say that I was enthused.  Broccoli with garlic and breadcrumbs - so what, I thought.
Man, I under-estimated  this dish.  It is simple, but it is good!  You saute steamed broccoli with breadcrumbs and garlic, and it tastes AMAZING!

To check out what everyone else thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFwD website

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jane Kennedy's Korma


I hate the cold weather, but I do love all the rich, hearty winter foods.  Stews, curries, roasts and puddings - here we come!

I adore a good curry - I like a little bit of kick, but not so much that your eyes water and it plays havoc with your digestive system.  When I was looking for inspiration for this week's meals, I turned to Jane Kennedy's OMG! I Can Eat That?  This book takes traditionally boombah foods (ie foods that make your backside huge) and turns them into more calorie-friendly options. She has a few great sounding curries, and I selected her lamb korma curry.  The twist is that lamb is hideously expensive, so I substituted beef - making mine a beef korma curry! 




To make this curry, mix 250g Greek yoghurt, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 3 crushed cloves garlic, a pinch of sea salt, a teaspoon of ground chilli powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of  turmeric together in a bowl. Coat 1kg lamb (or beef!) with the marinade, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frypan.  Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 3 bay leaves, 5 cloves, 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (I skipped these) and a cinnamon stick to the pan, and cook for 15 seconds.  Add one sliced onion to the pan, and cook until the onion is golden brown.  

Put 1 x 400g can of tomatoes, a bunch of coriander (all of it!!  I love it - no waste), 2 sprigs of mint (I skipped the mint) and 1 tablespoon of dessicated coconut into  a food processor and puree the ingredients.  Pour the puree into the fry pan with the onion, together with 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons garam marsala, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of chopped chilli (I just added the whole chilli - after all, what was I going to do with the rest of it?).

Add the marinated meat to the pan with 500ml warm water, and simmer the mixture for an hour or until the meat is tender.  Just before serving, stir through the juice of half a lemon.

To serve with the curry, I made Jane's cauliflower "rice" - simply cut up half a cauliflower into florets, microwave on high for 5 minutes (don't add water), then blitz the cooked cauliflower in a food processor:




The cauliflower is not quite the same as rice in texture or flavour, but it is a good vehicle for soaking up all the curry sauce.  Yum!