Archive for March, 2010

Raspberry Sorbet

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

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Is it too close to Winter for me to post this recipe? I say, no. At the moment in Sydney we are having very odd whether. It is surprisingly warm, a month into Autumn.

I had been wanting to make a sorbet for quite a while, when the opportunity came crashing through my door – a faulty freezer had caused a family members frozen raspberries to thaw (along with a range of other frozen goods). Rather than throwing them out – yes, that was their plan, I put up my hand and said “but I can make some raspberry sorbet with that”.

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I was surprised at how lovely this sorbet was – sweet and full of flavour. Now time to expand my repertoire of sorbet flavours – well… maybe next summer…

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Raspberry Sorbet

Recipe from Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

500g raspberries
1 orange, juiced
2/3 cup caster sugar
¾ cup water

Puree the raspberries in a food processor, and then pass through a fine sieve into a large bowl, keeping the juice and discarding the seeds. Mix in the orange juice.

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Place the water and caster sugar in a saucepan and heat on medium/high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the sugar water to the boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Whisk the sugar mixture into the sieved raspberry puree and cool down in the sink with ice cubes and cold water. Once cooled, churn in an ice cream maker as per instruction manual and then freeze in a suitable container. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, place in a suitable freezer container and freeze for a few hours at a time, whisking or using a fork, to break up larger ice crystals. Continue to mix until it is too frozen to mix further.

5-10 minutes prior to serving, remove the sorbet from the freezer to allow easier dishing of the sorbet.

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Orange Tian – Daring Bakers Challenge March 2010

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

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The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I don’t use oranges much in my desserts, except for fruit salads, so the concept of this dessert was difficult to grasp. I decided to make the dessert as written, along with adding chocolate to half the mix and serving with Jaffas to make choc orange dessert.

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There were many components to this challenge, including the marmalade – which Nick was very excited that I would be making. He loves marmalade, especially chunky marmalade, so I decided to make it chunky – a little too chunky for me. The pate sable was lovely and easy to make, although I needed to cut the pieces again after cooking to ensure they fit in moulds.

I had a touch of trouble with the caramel, as it melted and caramelised at the same time, so when I added the orange juice it clumped a heap and I had to cook it until the clumps of sugar dissolved again.

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I tried both the normal and chocolate version, although think I prefer other desserts and flavour combinations. The others who tried it thought it was quite nice – even prefering the original flavour over the chocolate version.

Thanks again to our host Jennifer for this challenge. I found the flavour combinations very interesting, and have learnt quite a bit from the experience.

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Orange Tian

Dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris

For the Pate Sablee:

2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams

Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:

Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

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For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

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For the Caramel:

granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream:

heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 teaspoon Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon
I folded 50g melted and cooled dark chocolate to this whipped cream for my choc orange version

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

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Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

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Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

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Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes. (I left mine in the freezer for a few hours, and stored leftover ones in there too)

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I remember trying a chocolate Guinness cake in my later years of University when a friend brought one in (we had cake days every Friday). I was a little apprehensive (as I don’t like beer), but once I was convinced to try it, I haven’t looked back. I have been spreading the word, trying to convince as many friends and family as possible (some are more difficult to convince than you would imagine) to try it and that’s all it takes to get most people hooked.

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It even looks like a poured out Guinness, and you can be sure guys and girls alike will be intrigued by having beer in a cake.

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The best aspect of this cake has to be how lovely and moist it is. Coming in a close second (or equal first) is the great flavour combination of the chocolate with a very slight Guinness flavour (trust me, I don’t like normal beer, let alone Guinness – but I [and other non-beer-drinkers] really enjoy this cake) and the creamy icing.

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I wish I had a slice right now…
[By the way, you can freeze it, iced and everything – it makes the perfect easy snack for work, school or shopping].

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

Recipe taken from the internet years ago… can’t remember the site sorry

butter for pan
1 cup Guinness Stout
10 tablespoons butter (10oz or 300g)
¾ cup cocoa
2 cups caster sugar
¾ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or imitation vanilla – it works just as well in this
2 cups plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking soda (bi-carb soda)

Icing
1¼ cups icing sugar mixture or icing suger
8oz (240g) cream cheese at room temperature
½ cup heavy (thickened) cream

Heat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan forced). Butter a 22cm (9-inch) spring-form pan and line with baking paper.

In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

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In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well.

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Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

Yes, it is very liquidy - don't worry - this will make it moist.

Yes, it is very liquidy - don't worry - this will make it moist.

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Icing: Mix cream cheese with electric mixer and blend until smooth. Add cream, then sifted icing mixture and mix until smooth and spreadable. Also add a little cocoa powder to give the icing the murky look of the Guinness frothy if you like.

Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.
Makes one 9-inch cake, 12 servings.

My Note: To use up a whole 440 ml can of Guinness multiply the recipe by 1.5 times. Pour 2/3 mixture into cake tin and the rest into approximately 24 patty cases or 12 large muffin cases. (cook these for 15-20 minutes). Make 1 quantity of icing as this should cover both the cake and patty cakes. Slices of cake and muffins can be frozen and thawed when you have a craving.

Rough Quantities for 1.5x normal quantity (1 x 22cm cake + 12 muffins)
butter for pan
440ml can (approx 1½ or 1¾ cups) Guinness Stout
15 tablespoons butter (450g)
1 1/8 cup cocoa (Or one heaped cup)
3 cups caster sugar
1 1/8 cup (approx 300g carton) sour cream
3 large eggs
1½ tablespoon vanilla extract or imitation vanilla
3 cups plain flour
3¾ teaspoons baking soda (bi-carb soda)

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Taste of Sydney – March 2010

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

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I went along to the Taste of Sydney on Friday night 12th March, for the first time (this was the second year it was held). It is held in Centennial Park in Sydney – and I’ve included a few photos Nick took whilst making his way to the festival (in the top part of the park). How cute is the baby black swan?? 🙂

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I had already highlighted at least 12 dishes on the menu before getting there: more than half which were in the dessert section.

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I managed to convince a few people to come along, which made trialling all the food much easier. When we arrived, we straight away received our free Gourmet Traveller – the Greek issue (which I was excited to get) and the Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine.

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Soon after arriving and trying some Ferrero Rondnoir (very yum), we went along to the first session of the Taste Kitchen. Guillaume Brahimi from Guillaume at Bennelong was the feature chef and he was showing us how to make the perfect potato mash. The session was very good, with Guillaume having a good stage presence and was quite funny. The session made me really crave the mash potato at his stall.

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We decided to buy our meals first, before going and trying the specialty stores. This would give us better lighting for photos – and even better – seating! We got some great seats near the Opera Bar stand, so we enjoyed some great music while eating.

We bought $120 worth of crowns ($1 = 1 crown – the currency used at the taste of Sydney) to share between the three of us – which I think was just the right amount.

We started with the Crispy Wagyu Beef with Wild mushroom and Truffle Foam (10 crowns) from Restaurant Balzac. This dish was very nice, with the wagyu encased in pastry with a lovely sauce (or foam). I think it would have been easier to eat by hand rather than with the knife and fork, like we did.

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The yellow fin tuna with sweet pork crackling and ruby grape fruit (10 crowns) was next on the list and was quite lovely. I had a small piece of this and enjoyed what I tried.

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I decided to go straight for the mains, trying the Braised Cape Grim beef cheek and glazed onion pie in sour cream and puff pastry case; red wine veal jus (12 crowns) from Bird Cow Fish. The pastry was lovely and crispy, with the beef cheek flavoured beautifully and falling apart with a slight pull of the fork. I really enjoyed this dish – as you’ve got to love a great pie.

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My second dish was the 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder; minted crushed peas and feta dressing (12 crowns) from Four in Hand. The lamb shoulder was also falling apart beautifully and worked wonderfully with the minted crushed peas (which weren’t too minty for me).

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The Organic Grass Fed Wagyu Beef Burger (12 crowns) from Plan B was perfectly cooked and had great flavours incorporated in the wagyu beef patty.

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Our last main dish – and I think the winner of the night – was the Wagyu Beef Daube with Paris Mash (12 crowns) from Guillaume at Bennelong. (Am I glad I convinced Nick to go and buy that one – I couldn’t stop digging in with my fork and taking bites of the gorgeous beef and mash). The taste and texture of this meal were just gorgeous. Definitely high on my list of meals to try.

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Moving on to desserts… A couple of us really wanted to try the chocolate fondant with vanilla bean ice cream (10 crowns) from Restaurant Balzac. When it arrived at our table, it looked slightly different to what I was expecting, although upon tasting, I was relieved that the inside of the chocolate cake was soft and very rich and chocolately. Altogether one of the top desserts.

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Another top dessert was the very talked about vanilla panna cotta with lavender honey and fresh pomegranate (12 crowns) from Jonah’s at Whale Beach. It wobbled gloriously, with us all having a great laugh at its movements. The panna cotta was the perfect level of richness, with a great vanilla flavour, which worked very well with the lavender honey and pomegranate molasses.

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The fig and ricotta pizza with honey ice cream (8 crowns) from Assiette was chosen as our 3rd dessert and was nice although didn’t rate as highly as some other dishes.

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When I ordered the 4’s dark chocolate Cherry Ripe (8 crowns) from Four in Hand I didn’t know what to expect, although was for some reason thinking of an upper-class cherry ripe – like a gorgeous chocolate and cherry tart. It was composed of cherry sorbet on a chocolate cake or biscuit base.

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Lastly we decided to take some pistachio, chocolate and strawberry macaroons (8 crowns for 3 macaroons) from Guillaume at Bennelong home with us on the train. The favourite of these was the strawberry macaroon which was strongly strawberry flavoured.

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Now on to the extra things available at the festival… I was given a few tips from people who went to the Thursday night opening session – this included some foods not to try, make sure to check out portion sizes of other customers food to help you choose, and which places gave out the best free food or drink.

One of the best places to try out new foods is the New Zealand stand, which had a great range of lovely gelato, a beautiful marinated salmon, clams, mussels and a range of New Zealand cheeses.

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The second was City Tattersalls which had a great range of dishes including a lovely mini wagyu beef burger, fresh donuts with injectable white chocolate or raspberry and mini servings of caramel and chocolate panna cotta. They also had a competition which you could enter. These two places are a must visit.

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A couple of other places which served free food or drink was Pure Spirits (I tried the chocolate vodka!), Game Farm (they had some lovely quail pieces), Baileys (which had coffee baileys on ice cream) and the Grumpy Baker (which was where we spent our last crowns to buy the sourdough rustica).

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Overall, we had a good night, lovely food – I really enjoyed trying so many dishes, good music and fun atmosphere.

After comparing the taste of Sydney festival with the Good Food and Wine show, I would say the taste of Sydney has far better food at a more reasonable price. Although the Good Food and Wine show had a very large range of exhibitors that were giving away a lot of produce to try. It was only at that show that I found some wines that I enjoyed, and imagine some exhibitors at the taste of Sydney would benefit from giving more free samples to those attending, rather than making people pay for them. I tried a lot more wine and spirits at the Good Food and Wine show, and those that I enjoyed have certainly benefited since then, whereas I only tried one drink at this festival, which really did limit the exposure they may be seeking.

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Spinach and Sour Cream Dip

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

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This dip is high on the list of dips we make for parties. Even though it may not sound the tastiest (with a packet of spinach in it) – it really is quite lovely. Even those who don’t like spinach will go back to more!

The dip can be served in a number of ways, with some Lebanese bread (which has been spread with a herb butter, cooked in the oven and then chopped up to biscuit size). Alternatively, you can scoop out cob of bread and serve the dip in the middle, with friends and family tearing off edges of the cob and dipping it into the dip. You can also heat the dip up in the cob for a few minutes in the oven.

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And what’s even better is it can be made the night before, so it firms up a bit in the fridge. I love being able to have things organised – it takes out a lot of the hassle and stress which could have been felt on the party date, if you had to prepare everything that morning.

On another note – I can’t believe how busy this year has been (and is)!! I have weekends booked up until late April, with a heap of big birthdays, weddings, hen’s nights, the taste of Sydney (Thursday-Sunday, in case you haven’t heard), Easter, ANZAC day and a quick visit to Melbourne for a French cake cooking class (very exciting!!).

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Spinach and Sour Cream Dip

Recipe source unknown (possibly a friend of a friend of the family?)

1 box (250g) finely chopped frozen spinach – thawed then excess water squeezed out with hands or a sieve.
1 carton (300g) sour cream
½ cup grated cheese
1 packet spring vegetable soup mix (Continental brand – we found this is nicer than some other brands)
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 small packet pine nuts (toasted) (optional)

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Mix ingredients together, sprinkle pine nuts on top. Serve in a cob or on Pita/Lebanese bread.

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Better made the day before and the dip stored in the fridge (but scooped into the cob just before serving).

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