Archive for December, 2009

2009 Roundup, 101st post and Win a Cupcake Cookbook

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Here is a roundup of some of my favourite recipes for 2009, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. Plus – this is my 101st post.

I’m looking forward to what 2010 will hold for me, my cooking and for everyone else. Happy New Year everyone!

P.S. Look at the bottom of this page for your chance to win a cookbook!

Chocolate Swirl Croquembouche
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Crouquembouche
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Strawberry and Cream with White Chocolate Sponge and Ice Cream
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Triple Chocolate Praline Tart
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Baci Gelato
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Chocolate Delice

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Gingerbread House
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Choc Chip Friands with Cinnamon and Almonds

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Portuguese Custard Tarts
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Strawberry Roulade with Lemon Cream
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Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns
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Pear and Raspberry Bread
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White Chocolate and Hazelnut Mud Cake
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White Chocolate and Honeycomb Mud Cake
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Toblerone Cocktail
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Beef Wellington
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Beef Korma
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Naan Bread
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Mushroom and Cheese Strudel
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Fajitas and Tortilla’s
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Spanakopita
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Did you like them? There are many more, just go to my Recipes page to see what recipes are available.

I decided I should offer a prize for my lovely readers in celebration of my 101st post. After receiving a copy of Hello, Cupcake! as a birthday present, and seeing what cute creations can be made to decorate cupcakes, I decided this would be a great prize for someone. (1 prize available)

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All you need to do to win, is write a comment below (to this post) answering the following question:

If you were to hold a themed party, what theme would you choose and how would you decorate and/or flavour your cupcakes to match the theme?

You may enter once daily (as long as your answer is different), and the competition ends on January 27th 2010 at 5pm AEST, with the winner being announced 30th January 2010. (Please make sure you use a valid email address, as this is how I will contact you).

** Please note: This competition is now closed. The winner has now been chosen: Katherine Ryan with cocktail party inspired cupcakes – see below for her answer **

Please note: This is not a sponsored competition, I will be buying from an online book store that says it ships worldwide – so this competition is open for everyone! (So tell your family and friends).

Happy New Year again everyone!
Anita

Chocolate Swirl Croquembouche

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

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I started craving croquembouche again after the second last celebrity MasterChef. I was craving it so bad, that I didn’t think I could wait until Christmas (which is when I had planned to make my next croquembouche) to eat a custard or pastry cream filled profiterole with the lovely caramel or toffee crunch.

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The chocolate delice challenge was taking up my time and weekends were being filled so fast with dinners, outings and a gingerbread house, I didn’t know if I would get any Christmas shopping done (I didn’t get much done, lucky I have a wonderful mum and sisters who did most of it, and whom I thanked with this lovely croquembouche along with the rest of Christmas lunch).

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For Christmas I decided to make Adriano Zumbo’s chocolate swirl croquembouche, as I was intrigued by the chocolate profiteroles, but I still wanted the original gorgeous profiteroles too.

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Others and myself looked around quite a bit to find isomalt and the white food white colouring, but were unable to find any in shops – a few places online look as though they sell it. So, instead I decided to make some royal icing butterflies to go on top (using the leftovers from my gingerbread house).

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After comparing these quantities to those from the first croquembouche, I decided to cook half the quantity of choux pastry (for the normal and chocolate ones) and a bit more than half the caramel (although I should have made the full quantity of caramel/toffee, as I was making the base and the extra was required for this). I think it’s better to have left over custard than profiterole cases and toffee.

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The half amount of choux pastry made almost the perfect number of profiteroles for the vanilla pastry cream. I ended up with a decent amount of chocolate pastry cream left over, but I’m not complaining – as both pastry creams are delicious.

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I ended up making quite a large filled croquembouche this time around, although probably wouldn’t recommend one quite as large, as mine only lasted long enough for the photos before crashing down. The next day all the caramel/toffee had dissolved into a large sticky puddle, even though the profiteroles were in an air tight container. We had a large amount of humidity on Christmas day.

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I’m really happy I tried the chocolate swirl croquembouche, although think I would stick to the normal one in future, and make the tower a bit smaller.

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Chocolate Swirl Croquembouche

Recipe slightly adapted from Adriano Zumbo’s recipe on Celebrity MasterChef 2009

Serves: 12 (I think it serves 20 or more)

Vanilla pastry cream
2 litres milk
500g egg yolks (from around 30 large or extra large eggs)
500g sugar
200g cornflour
200g butter
2 vanilla beans, split, seed scraped out

Chocolate pastry cream
750g of the vanilla pastry cream
375g cream
190g Cocoa Barry 72% Venezuela Chocolate (I used 100g 70% Lindt Chocolate + 90g dark cooking chocolate)

Choux pastry (this is half the quantity from the original recipe and made around 130 profiteroles)
212 ml water
265 ml milk
10g sugar
10g salt
200g butter
265 g plain flour
8 eggs

Chocolate choux pastry (this is half the quantity from the original recipe and made around 40 chocolate profiteroles)
80ml water
100ml milk
4g sugar
4g salt
75g butter
75g flour
25g Barry cocoa powder
3 eggs

Caramel
1kg sugar
300ml water
400g glucose
250g chopped almonds

Decorations (optional)
200g isomalt
20ml water
A few drops of food colouring
Selection of food colouring

1. To make the pastry cream: place milk and vanilla beans into a large saucepan. Heat gently over medium heat until milk almost boils. Remove from heat, discard vanilla beans and set aside. Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour with electric beaters until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and return mixture to the same pan. Stir over medium heat until the custard boils. Remove from heat and pour onto flat tray, spread out to cool rapidly. Cover the surface of the custard closely with cling film, to prevent a skin from forming. Use a candy thermometer to check temperature of custard. When mixture has reached 55ºC, stir through butter and refrigerate, still covered, until completely cooled.

30 egg yolks - the most I've ever used

30 egg yolks - the most I've ever used

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The custard mixture was too much for the bowl I had. So I whisked in 1 litre of the milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks and sugar, before straining it all back into the remaining 1 litre of milk in the saucepan.

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2. To make the chocolate pastry cream: place 750g of cooled vanilla pastry cream, chocolate and cream in a saucepan and reboil. Pour onto a tray, cover with cling film and refrigerate until completely cooled.

3. To make the choux pastry: preheat the oven to 210ºC convection. Lightly grease 2-3 large oven trays and set aside. Combine the water, milk, sugar, salt and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon quickly beat in the flour. Return saucepan to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cook stirring over low heat for a further 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

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4. Using hand beaters, beat the mixture to release any more heat. (I used my KitchenAid to get rid of a lot of the heat before adding the eggs). Gradually add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well between each addition until all the eggs have been added and the mixture is thick and glossy (a spoon should be able to stand upright in it). Beat for several more minutes, or until thickened.

Half way through the eggs

Half way through the eggs

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5. To make the chocolate choux pastry: repeat step 3 & 4 to make chocolate choux pastry adding the cocoa powder with the flour.

6. Spoon the mixtures, in batches, into piping bags fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle. Cover remaining pastry with cling film. Pipe mixture onto trays about 2.5cm x 2cm high leaving room for spreading. Bake for 25-30 minutes, in batches, or until firm and hollow when tapped. Transfer puffs to wire racks.

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7. Spoon custards into separate piping bags with a nozzle less than 1cm. Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill choux pastry with vanilla pastry cream and chocolate choux with chocolate pastry cream. Set aside.

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8. For the caramel: grease a cake ring with cooking spray. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils. Add glucose, and cook until syrup turns a caramel colour. Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of cold water to cool slightly. Pour just enough caramel to cover almonds and mix well; pour almond caramel into ring to form a 5mm base. This is the base for the croquembouche.

9. Dip the puff bases (I dipped the tops of the profiteroles) in enough toffee to coat and place upside down on a tray lined with silicon paper or silpat mat. (I used baking paper, which worked reasonable well).

10. Combine isomalt and water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring mixture to 160ºC. Remove from heat and add white food colouring. Mix well; mixture will turn completely white. Slowly add drop by drop of colours and swirl pan to mix slightly. Pour into silpat moulds, reserving 1-2 tablespoons of mixture. Stand butterflies for 5 minutes or until hardened.

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I improvised and made royal icing butterflies, by piping different coloured royal icing onto baking paper – be careful – they are fragile (two of my three fell apart.

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11. To assemble: oil the inside of the croquembouche cone. Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the inside of the cone in a single row. Place one chocolate ball in each row, to the bottom right of previous chocolate ball. Continue adding rows of vanilla balls and single chocolate balls until the cone is filled and the chocolate balls forms 2 spirals pattern. Place a small amount of caramel on the last balls inside the cone. Place base inside the cone, gently invert cone and slide off the metal cone. Using reserved isomalt mixture, dip butterflies into mixture and fix to top of croquembouche.

Note: I built my croquembouche from scratch, although it was too tall to stand by itself. I may have needed to use more toffee to hold it together. I would make a smaller one in the future.

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Gingerbread House – Daring Bakers Challenge December 2009

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

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I hadn’t planned on making a gingerbread house in December, for Christmas or for any other occasion. It just seemed like I already had enough on my plate around this time of year, without complicating it even further with making a gingerbread house.

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This didn’t stop my enthusiasm when I found out what we were making. I’d never made a gingerbread house before – not even plain gingerbread… So I went straight to the internet to get ideas (I even asked a friend from work about the structural plans her husband had used last year – as that was an awesome gingerbread house!)

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I decided to scale it down and not attempt the two storey magnificent house and found a cute (what I thought would be relatively easy and not too time consuming) gingerbread house with very cute decorations.

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I’m not particularly good with my estimations, as everything seemed to take a lot longer than I had intended (everything except my plans for the house I drew up, along with a cardboard contraption to ensure the roof had a curve to it). The dough was very easy to make (except – I ran out of plain flour – who does that?) plus I think the conversion we were given may have been wrong, as it says 5 cups of flour was 875g not 625g, which is what other internet resources say.

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I left the dough in the fridge overnight, as I was having a busy weekend. The next morning it took ages (more than an hour) for the dough to come to a workable consistency – I had to bring in the big guns to roll it out for me.

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I had been given a hint, that you should cut out your gingerbread pieces once the gingerbread is baked and still warm – as it tends to shrink and warp while cooking, giving uneven walls etc. That was very useful in making sure I had the correct shapes. I just cut out the dough a bit bigger than my templates and cut out the templates from my cooked gingerbread while it was still warm – leaving the roof to set on my curved cardboard (a 24cm long piece of cardboard stuck to a piece of paper to measure 23.7cm on the paper.) I stabilised it with two rolled up overhead projector transparency sheets.

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Once it was all cooked and cooled, I had to find my decorations. Why is it that every time you’re looking for something in particular, you can never find it?? This happened with a few of my items, although in the end, I couldn’t really fit anything else on the large pavlova plate I was using.

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The royal icing was a first for me, and I found that 330g icing sugar seemed a bit too much for the amount of egg white (maybe I had to mix it more). I used some reasonably runny icing for the decorations, although it wasn’t great for holding up the walls of the house. So I added more icing sugar and eventually got quite a hard icing, which worked well for stabilising the walls and roof. All a part of learning, I guess.

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I had help with all the decorating and holding of pieces from my mum and sister (thanks ladies), with them making the very cute snow men out of marshmallows, royal icing and sour strips. (How cute are the scarves and gloves? 🙂 )

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Holding the leaning side walls, chimney and especially the large roof were a bit nerve racking, although with a bit of icing and patience, it held together.

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The gingerbread was quite flavoursome (with everyone eating the off cuts and lollies while working), although I think I would put less ground cloves in next time (most people loved the strong flavours, but it was a bit strong for me).

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Now…. To transfer it to my place for Christmas… why didn’t I do it at my home?

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Thanks again to both our hosts. I really enjoyed this challenge (even though I am unlikely to make a gingerbread house as elaborate again).

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I used Y’s chosen recipe:

Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)

from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g] (I found this to be 625g)

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour.

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Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight. (Mine went very hard after chilling overnight).

Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.

Update: Click my link for my template

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Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.

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For the tiles on the roof - Use a small circle cutter to make semi circle indents in the dough before backing

For the tiles on the roof - Use a small circle cutter to make semi circle indents in the dough before baking

Y’s notes: [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]

Preheat the oven to 375’F (190’C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

I quickly cut out the roof when the gingerbread was cooked and placed it on a curved piece of carboard to get the curve

For the roof I quickly cut out the roof when the gingerbread was cooked and placed it on a curved piece of carboard to get the curve for the roof

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar (I used a little less)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren’t using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.

Simple Syrup:(I didn’t use this, and assembled everything with the royal icing)
2 cups (400g) sugar

Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

My photos of the assembly: (using lots of royal icing)

Place all decorations and piping on before assembling

Place all decorations and piping on before assembling

I did one wall first (held up by a glas as it is a leaning wall) then the back of the house.

I did one wall first (held up by a glass as it is a leaning wall) then the back of the house.

Pipe royal icing on the plate and the sides of the wall before placing walls in place. Pipe extra royal icing in the inside of the house. Make sure the walls are stable before attempting to put the roof on.

Pipe royal icing on the plate and the sides of the wall before placing walls in place. Pipe extra royal icing in the inside of the house. Make sure the walls are stable before attempting to put the roof on.

Pipe royal icing on all the edges the roof will attach to. Place roof on top and hold in place until stable.

Pipe royal icing on all the edges the roof will attach to. Place roof on top and hold in place until stable.

Pipe lots of royal icing on the remaining piece of roof, as you won't be able to pipe any more on the inside. Hold in place until stable.

Pipe lots of royal icing on the remaining piece of roof, as you won't be able to pipe any more on the inside. Hold in place until stable.

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Gammon

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

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What is Gammon?

This is the first question asked by almost everyone when I mention we are cooking gammon (also called jambon). Gammon is a wet cured ham, rather than a dry salt-cured ham, this results in a less salty, sweet and subtle flavoured ham. Sounds good already.

Although the cooking of the gammon requires quite a bit of time, it is very, very easy. We just asked our butcher for a gammon and they gave us a 4.4kg gammon removed from the bone, rolled and netted. All that is involved is boiling and simmering then baking. (Make sure you ask for it to be not dry salt cured, otherwise you can’t enjoy the lovely flavours from the apple cider and glaze it’s cooked in).

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It tasted FANTASTIC! The bits that fell off after removal from the large pot were great. We have made it a few times and it is on our menu for Christmas this year, as it looks so festive with the lovely pineapple and glace cherries checked pattern with cloves. I would recommend giving it a try!

Gammon

1 gammon (uncooked ham, de-boned, rolled and netted) (appox 4.4kg)
2 x 700ml Apple Cider
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2 carrots, peeled and cut in three
10 peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Whole cloves
1 packet (100g) glace cherries
400g sliced pineapple (in juice), cut into small wedges or pineapple pieces
Tooth picks

Glaze
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons mustard powder
4 tablespoons honey (optional)
1 tablespoon ginger, grated

Place gammon in a very large saucepan. Add apple cider, onion, carrots, peppercorns, bay leaves, mustard powder. Add water until gammon is covered. Turn heat up to medium high and when it comes to the boil reduce to a simmer.

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Cook for 4 – 4.5 hours (around 30 minutes per 500g). Preheat oven to 160°C towards the end of cooking.

To make glaze, mix all ingredients together.

Remove from water and remove netting from gammon (the skin should come off with the netting). Remove any excess fat, but leave a layer on. Score the fat and top layer of gammon with a knife, and make a diamond pattern.

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Stick whole cloves in the points of each diamond. Using toothpicks, stick pineapple and glace cherries alternatively in the middle of each diamond.

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Spoon half the glaze over the gammon. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over the gammon once or twice during cooking.

Remove the gammon from the oven and remove cloves. Either leave the cherries and pineapple on the ham while you carve the meat, or serve beside cut gammon.

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Aria

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

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I was lucky enough to be taken to Aria for a Christmas lunch!

Mango - cheese cake with ginger crumble, lime jelly and roasted pineapple sorbet

Mango - cheese cake with ginger crumble, lime jelly and roasted pineapple sorbet

Sydney city looked spectacular on the bright sunny day we went out for lunch, with views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Pity I didn’t take photos of them, too concerned about the food perhaps? (truly obsessed with food I am)

Coffee - warm coffee cake with espresso ice cream, coconut sorbet and passionfruit

Coffee - warm coffee cake with espresso ice cream, coconut sorbet and passionfruit

Everything was lovely at Aria, the room, the staff, Matt Moran – yes, we did see Matt Moran, and a good friend was nice enough to go and ask if he’d mind having a photo with me 🙂

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There was a very good range on the menu (as we had a group booking), with 5 choices per course. I couldn’t go past the pork belly for the entrée and when it came out, I was glad with my choice. All portions were very generous, the pork belly was gorgeous and rich with a beautiful crispy skin on top. There was a large amount of fat under the skin, which I’m sure most people would have enjoyed, although I don’t eat much fat at all, and had to remove some of this. The pork had a fantastic pork croquette and beautiful pear chutney accompanying it, along with a paradise pear which worked surprisingly well.

Pork Belly - Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pork croquette, paradise pears and pear chutney

Pork Belly - Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pork croquette, paradise pears and pear chutney

I tried a small amount of the Kingfish with some octopus carpaccio and am starting to think – I may actually like a bit of seafood (in the past I have had quite badly cooked seafood, but am coming to realise it’s not all that bad).

Kingfish - sashimi and cerviche with octopus carpaccio, cucumber and citrus

Kingfish - sashimi and cerviche with octopus carpaccio, cucumber and citrus

For the main I chose the lamb, which was perfectly cooked and again, generous in size. The plate looked like an artwork, with everything perfectly placed, baby artichokes and lovely sauce for the lamb.

Lamb - basil scented fillet with red capsicum, baby artichokes and green olive and lavender sauce

Lamb - basil scented fillet with red capsicum, baby artichokes and green olive and lavender sauce

Trevalla - roasted with glazed witlof, chesnut mushrooms, white beans and chicken jus

Trevalla - roasted with glazed witlof, chesnut mushrooms, white beans and chicken jus

Now to dessert, and I always leave room for dessert. It was moderately hard to choose the dessert. Don’t get me wrong, everything sounded amazing (and looked absolutely fabulous when they arrived), but I was choosing between the strawberry dessert and the chocolate tasting plate (remember I tried to make that one?). I heard the strawberry dessert was fantastic. Everything from the creamy panna cotta to the wonderful sorbet. I would love to try this.

Valrhona Chocolate - rich chocolate delice with chocolate sorbet

Valrhona Chocolate - rich chocolate delice with chocolate sorbet

Strawberry - poached strawberries with panna cotta, clotted cream and shortbread

Strawberry - poached strawberries with panna cotta, clotted cream and shortbread

I wasn’t sure whether the chocolate plate would be similar at all to the one I made in presentation or taste. When it came out it looked gorgeous. Everything was perfectly positioned, nothing was melting (like mine) and the chocolate had the signature snap to it. The macaron was actually my favourite on the plate, as it was lovely and sweet. I think I have to come to terms that I can’t deal with too much bitterness. Although every part of the dessert was lovely, I couldn’t finish it. I can think of several 85% -99% cocoa chocolate lovers who would have adored this dessert, but I’m still struggling with that high percentage of cocoa. I need the sugar and the milk, so unfortunately couldn’t appreciate and finish this dish like I would have hoped.

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What a lovely lunch.

ARIA Restaurant Sydney
1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9252 2555

Lemon Tasting Plate and the MasterChef Cookbook

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

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My family and friends know how much I loved watching MasterChef. Most of my readers have probably also picked up on this from the other recipes I’ve already made from MasterChef:
Strawberries and Cream Dessert
Sticky Date Pudding
Aria Chocolate Tart
Croquembouche
Chocolate Delice
Scones

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So why did I like it so much? While others were interested in watching drama unfold, I was waiting for the food. What will they cook with those secret ingredients, what would I cook? Which celebrity chef will be on? I wonder what they will make? (I really loved seeing the Chefs recipes, who wouldn’t?)

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That’s why I was so excited to be receiving a copy of the MasterChef Cookbook! (Thanks to Random House for sending me the book). I know that many of the recipes can be found on their website, but how can people resist having the recipes in their bookshelf – along with some of the recipes, tips and step-throughs not included on the website. (My love of cookbooks will probably see me getting some new ones as Christmas presents this year 🙂 ).

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One of the recipes I was looking forward to was the ice cream recipe – I remember how much people loved the silky ice cream, and the method seemed easy enough. One recipe most people won’t remember, as it was made very early in the series, was Linda’s blueberry and violet rice pudding. I remember it being presented to the judges when contestants were trying to get past the first round. It’s just so pretty! It’s on my list, and I’m happy to have the recipe.

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The book itself is around 260 pages and covers a lot of the basics for cooking. Some of the tips include how long dry, wet, fresh and frozen goods should be kept, knife skills, sauces and stocks, different types of potatoes and onions and their uses, as well as a few step-by-step instructions, where it’s needed. There are photos of all the contestants, reminding you who made the dish, photos of the action, the judges and the celebrity chefs.

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In front of many of the recipes are contestants views and thoughts of the dish, their inspiration or history behind it or just a reminder of where the recipe fitted into the competition. I love the large photos (almost one opposite each recipe) and I think this helps cooks make a quick decision as to whether they would be interested in making the dish, or at least how the dish should look once finished.

I would have liked to have seen a few other recipes in there, such as the chocolate and jaffa souffle which looked gorgeous, buttermilk hot cakes with candied apples and Julia’s baked ricotta (the recipe that got her through past the first round).

Overall, I think this book is presented in a great way and would appeal to both inexperienced and veteran cooks alike, and to anyone who likes a challenge!

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I decided I would finally have to make the lemon tasting plate seen on one of the Masterclasses on MasterChef. This included Julie’s Lemon Diva Cupcakes, lemon curd, lemon creme fraiche and lemon vanilla syrup. The book has recipes for both the lemon curd and lemon cupcakes, although I just made up my own lemon cream to go with it – the result, a gorgeous blend of lemon flavours. The lemon cupcakes were lovely and light (these would also be great as plain vanilla cupcakes) and worked well with the slight tang of the lemon curd and the sweetness of the lemon cream.

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Lemon Tasting Plate

Edited 18/12/09: Recipes removed due to request

My lemon tasting plate consists of Julie’s Lemon Diva Cupcakes and Lemon Curd from the MasterChef cookbook and my recipe of lemon cream

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Lemon Cream

Recipe by me

250ml thickened cream
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup caster sugar

Beat all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, until cream becomes thick and whipped.

To serve:
Cut a shallow hole out of the top of the cupcakes (cut this piece in half). Place a teaspoon of lemon curd in the bottom of the well and then top with some lemon cream. Place the cut out halves into cream, with the curved sides facing one another to look like butterflies.

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or

Smear some lemon curd onto a plate. Crumble over a lemon cupcake and quenelle the lemon cream and place on top.

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Chocolate Delice

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

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I was contemplating making the chocolate swirl croquembouche on the second last episode of Celebrity MasterChef, although that will have to wait until the Christmas holiday. I instead decided to make Eamon Sullivan’s Chocolate Delice, which scored the highest, 30/30 from the judges.

It sounded fantastic, like an upmarket Mars bar. Biscuit, crème brulee, chocolate cream, chocolate ganache and salted caramel sauce – it does sound good, doesn’t it?

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I also thought I could make it over two days and this would make it a lot easier. I decided to follow the recipe exactly (even though it doesn’t state the strength of the gelatine leaf – I’ve been wrong before just assuming Chef’s mean gold strength).

The biscuit came first and was a lovely consistency, it fell apart a little, but was lovely and silky. It was tasty once cooked too – like a cross between shortcrust pastry and shortbread.

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I got to the end part of the crème brulee section and thought to myself that the recipe sounded very strange. The crème brulee mix wasn’t a thick custard which would set, it was a thin custard which I thought could either be made into an ice cream by freezing or a crème brulee by baking in a water bath – which is the way I usually see it made. This recipe didn’t state anything about baking the crème brulee. Just pour it on top of the biscuit and refrigerate to set. Now, I decided to only test a few and leave the remainder of the mix in a jug in the fridge to make into proper crème brulee if it didn’t set.

Surprise, surprise, it didn’t set. My two biscuits in the cookie cutters were not tight enough and almost all the crème brulee mix drained out of them. My made-up mould consisting of a cut up overhead projector sheet, held the mix in on top of the biscuit, but it was too runny and would have run everywhere if I had undone the plastic.

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I decided to place all my remaining mix into 2 ramekins and placed the ramekins into a small lasagne dish with enough water in it to come half way up the ramekins and baked them for 20-30 minutes at around 150C. Once cooked (just set), I removed the ramekins from the oven and cooled them in the fridge for a few hours. Place one heaped teaspoon of caster sugar on top of each and place under a very hot grill until the sugar caramelises (or use a blowtorch if you have one). Serve immediately.

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After cooking my crème brulee’s, I decided to watch the episode of MasterChef again (as I was a little distracted while watching it the first time). I watched carefully and saw Eamon placing what looked exactly like the crème brulee mix into a lined tray and into the oven. He even mentioned his biscuit was cooling and his crème brulee was in the oven – but no mention of this in the recipe 🙁

I thought about stopping here and not continuing. But how could I? I was still concerned about the gelatine leaf, but hopefully it would be alright…

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Ok – so I made it again!!

This time things went ok. I still had a few problems, but the overall result was gorgeous. I was concerned it would be too rich, although the combination of all components worked wonderfully together.

I made the biscuit base and crème brulee the night before.

The biscuit base worked well (I rolled it out to fit a normal baking tray). It does crumble a bit while working with it. I cut 10cm diameter circles (6 in total) – although they could have easily been smaller, as the dessert was a little difficult for some to finish.

I cooked the crème brulee in a 23cm x 34 cm (2-3 cm high) baking paper lined tray for 25-30 minutes at 150C. This was then cooled overnight.

I made the chocolate cream (although didn’t use it all) using 2.5 titanium strength gelatine leaves (total 10g) (one titanium leaf is supposed to set 250ml liquid).

This was then cooled for 30minutes or more while I placed the crème brulee on the biscuit base. Firstly I scraped off the top layer of crème brulee, then cut it using a cookie cutter and carefully placed it on the biscuit base (most fell apart and I tried to spread it around evenly).

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I used cookie cutters and plastic overhead projector films/sheets to hold in the crème brulee and cream, the cookie cutters worked better, although the films worked well enough.

The cream was poured over the crème brulee and left to set in the fridge (for an hour or so).

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Prepare the glaze (I used half the quantity, which was just enough to cover all 6 delices). Let it cool and once the cream is set, remove cookie cutter (Eamon used a blow torch, although I don’t have one yet, so I carefully pushed the cookie base up). Pour the glaze on top and cool in the fridge.

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Roast the almonds (I forgot to do this), then place them around the set delice.

Melt the white chocolate (I used 100g, but you could use less). Drizzle over the top and cool.

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I had a little bit of a problem with the sugar in the caramel. I tried to melt it over low or medium heat, but it didn’t dissolve. I continued to cook it and the water evaporated and the sugar became quite dry. Although after continuing to cook it on medium/high heat, eventually it started to caramelise (without dissolving first). Take it off the heat and stir in the cream, a bit at a time if need be (be careful as this bubbles up a lot), then whisk in the remaining cream and butter. Cool a bit before serving.

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Chocolate Delice

Recipe from Eamon Sullivan on Celebrity MasterChef 2009
For my tips see above and some are also in the recipe below in italics

Biscuit Base
250g plain flour
150g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg

Crème brulee
375g thickened cream
135mls milk
2 vanilla beans, scraped
7 egg yolks
1 whole egg
60g caster sugar

Chocolate cream
190g thickened cream
190g boiling water
60g cocoa powder
150g white chocolate
125g dark chocolate
15g gelatine leaf (I used 2.5 titanium strength gelatine leaves ~10g total)

Chocolate glaze (I made half this quantity)
340g dark chocolate
230mls thickened cream
165g glucose syrup
30mls water
¼ cup flaked almonds
200g white chocolate

Salted caramel
250g caster sugar
50mls water
150mls thickened cream
150g unsalted butter
Sea salt flakes

Preheat the oven to180C.

For the biscuit base, place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and process to a breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg and process again to combine. Tip out onto a clean flat surface and roll into a smooth dough, wrap in cling film and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Once rested use a rolling pin to roll into a 1cm thick rectangle shape; place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool then using a circular cutter cut out biscuit bases, set aside.

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For the crème brulee, combine the cream, milk and vanilla beans in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil then remove from heat. Strain into a clean saucepan. Place the egg yolks, whole egg and sugar into a bowl and using an electric hand beater whisk until thick and pale, pour half the heated milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk continuously. Pour the mixture into the saucepan of remaining milk and place over a low heat, cook for 3-5 minutes stirring continuously. Pour into a jug and cool slightly. Place the biscuit bases on a baking tray lined with baking paper, place a ring mould onto the bases and pour the crème brulee into the moulds(I cooked mine for 25-30 minutes at 150C – see tips above), place in the refrigerator until set.

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For the chocolate cream, pour the cream into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil, whisk the cocoa in the boiling water and add to the cream, continue to whisk, add the white chocolate and stir until melted, add the dark chocolate and continue to stir until chocolate has melted, bring the mixture to the boil then remove from heat. Place the gelatine sheet in a small bowl of cold water to soak for a few minutes, using hands squeeze out all moisture, add to the warm chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.

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For the chocolate glaze, pour the cream into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil, reduce heat and add the chocolate, glucose syrup and water, whisk continuously until chocolate has melted and a smooth sauce is created.

Place the almonds on a baking tray and place in the oven until lightly golden.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place the white chocolate in a bowl, place the bowl over the water and melt the chocolate, spoon the melted chocolate into a piping bag.

For the salted caramel, place the sugar and water in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, stir until the sugar has melted then allow to simmer until caramel has formed. Whisk in the cream then continue to whisk in the butter, whisk to a thick glossy sauce.

To prepare the delice, pour the chocolate cream over the set brulee and allow to set. Remove the moulds and pour over the chocolate glaze. Allow glaze to set. Place toasted almonds around the edges of each delice. Drizzle the white chocolate in stripes over the delice.

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To serve, spoon caramel sauce onto a serving plate and sprinkle with a small pinch of sea salt, top with the delice to serve.

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Moroccan Meatballs with Chickpeas

Monday, December 7th, 2009

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Firstly, I’d like to thank Rilsta from My Food Trail for the lovely Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker I received from her 100th post competition! I was very happy to hear I had finally won something, especially something food related. Although this recipe does not use the flavour shaker, I have a few recipes I think could make good use of this and will hopefully be able to make and post them in the new year. Please visit Rilsta’s food blog, it has a great reviews of places to eat around Melbourne and some lovely recipes too! Thanks again Rilsta.

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Now onto the dish – the aromas coming from the kitchen when these meatballs were cooking in the oven could tempt any passer-by.

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I loved that the base of this dish was with chickpeas too. I was trying to find something other than potatoes, rice or pasta to serve with meatballs – and the chickpeas were very complementary.

Moroccan Meatballs with Chickpeas

Recipe from Cuisine

Makes 16 to 18 meatballs, Serves 4

Meatballs
2 thick slices white bread, crusts removed
100ml milk
500g lean minced lamb
1 small onion, grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g canned tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
400g canned chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 200C. Soak the bread in milk for five minutes then squeeze out excess milk. Mix the bread with the meat in a bowl. Add the onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and salt and knead it with your hands until well mixed. Roll the meat into golf ball-sized balls, place on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned.

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To make the sauce, heat oil in a frypan and cook onion for five minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, water and bring to the boil. Add chickpeas, parsley, coriander, cumin, paprika, ginger and salt, stirring, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt, if desired.

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Toblerone Cocktail

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

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I enjoy cocktails that don’t taste like too much alcohol. Most people would say I would therefore like almost all cocktails, although that isn’t the case. I like a few – and this is my favourite!!

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It could almost be a dessert in itself, but I do enjoy it at any time and with (almost) any meal – it tastes just like a chocolate milkshake – only alcoholic 😛

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drink it all the time. But once in a while, it’s a nice treat and will be lovely in our hot weather.

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Toblerone Cocktail

Recipe by me – Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

Serves: 1 large cocktail or 2 in martini glasses

½ shot (15ml) Kahlua
½ shot (15ml) Baileys
½ shot (15ml) Frangelico
½ shot (15ml) dark Crème de Caco (if you don’t have this, either omit it or add another 1/2 shot of Baileys)
½ cup (125 ml) milk
2-3 scoops ice cream
Chocolate sauce
Handful ice cubes (4 large ice cubes)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

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