Sunday, November 22nd, 2009


I love scones. Almost nothing is as good as jam and whipped cream on some fresh scones.


Even better is when they’re so quick and easy to make – and these ones surely are. They were seen on a masterclass show on MaterChef, although had dates and lemon. I’m sure this flavour combination would be great, but without them the recipe is lovely.



Recipe adapted from MasterChef’s Date and Lemon Scone recipe

150ml-175ml milk
150ml cream
1 egg
3 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Cream & jam, to serve

Preheat oven 200°C fan forced. Line large flat oven tray with baking paper.

Whisk 150ml milk, cream and egg together until well combined. Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir gently to a soft dough, adding remaining milk if necessary. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together.

Press dough out to 2cm-thick.


Cut scones from dough and place onto tray flat-side up. Press dough together gently and repeat using the remaining dough.


Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen. Serve hot with jam and cream.



Strawberries and Cream with White Chocolate Sponge and Ice Cream

Saturday, November 7th, 2009


When I saw Katrina Kanetani from Pier walk into the MasterChef kitchen on Wednesday night I was so excited as I knew desserts would be on the menu. Katrina was named Chef of the Year in 2007 and is the head Pastry Chef at the three-hatted restaurant Pier, how could I not be excited to see what creations the celebrity contestants had to choose from.


I thought both desserts Katrina revealed were gorgeous. How could you choose? Being a chocoholic I was obviously eager to get the recipe for the chocolate dessert – a chocolate brulee. But, after saying that, the strawberry, cream, sponge and tuile creation looked marvellous (this was the chosen dessert).


Even better? I actually had most of the ingredients at home (couldn’t find sumac, though). So I had decided, printed the recipe off the day after the show and started planning how I would fit it in on the weekend, without making the whole day full of cooking and dirtying the kitchen, like I tend to do.


So I made the ice cream the night before, chilled the custard on ice and placed it in my ice cream maker. It looked gorgeous (and tasted beautiful). I placed it in the freezer overnight and left it out for 10 minutes or more for it to soften.


Everything on the plate worked fantastically together. It looked amazing too. I couldn’t believe I actually got it quite close to the actual dessert. I had a few problems with the tuile, mainly the fact my baking trays decided to buckle under the heat, causing the tuile mixture to be uneven. Overall I was very happy with my result.


Aren’t my dinner guests tonight going to be happy? 😛


Strawberries and Cream with White Chocolate Sponge and Ice Cream

Recipe by Katrina Kanetani as seen on Celebrity MasterChef 2009

Strawberry Ice-cream
180g strawberries, hulled, halved
360ml cream
5 egg yolks, reserve whites
120g caster sugar

White chocolate sponge cake

135g white coverture chocolate, broken up
125g unsalted butter, softened
5 egg yolks
4 egg whites
90g caster sugar
60g plain flour, sifted

50g plain flour
60g caster sugar
35g icing sugar
Pinch salt
4 egg whites
65g butter, melted

Chantilly cream
200ml cream
1 tbs icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla bean extract


3 large strawberries, hulled
2 tsp icing sugar
½ tsp sumac (I left this out as I had none)

To serve
Icing sugar
Sumac (I left this out as I had none)
(Some of the strawberry puree – see method for ice cream)

To make the strawberry ice-cream, puree the strawberries in a small food processor and pass through a sieve. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the puree for serving. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat to just below boiling point. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl. Gradually pour the hot cream into the yolk mixture, while whisking continuously until all the cream is added. Transfer the mixture into a clean medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon (mixture will be about 84°C). Strain custard through a fine sieve and place over a bowl of iced water, whisking until cold.


Stir through the remaining strawberry puree.


Transfer ½ cup of the ice-cream base into a cream canister and charge twice, shaking vigorously after each charge (I didn’t do this part as I wasn’t sure where it should be used for serving, plus I didn’t have the equipment. I placed it all in the ice cream maker.). Refrigerate cream canister until ready to serve. Pour remaining ice-cream base into a chilled ice cream maker and churn for about 20 minutes. Remove from ice cream maker and place in the blast chiller for about 10 minutes or until firm. (I placed mine in the freezer overnight)


To make the white chocolate sponge cake, preheat oven to 160°C fan forced. Grease and line a 4cm deep baking tray (mine was 4.5cm x 21cm x 31cm). Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a metal spoon until melted. Transfer to a large bowl and cool. Add the butter to the cooled chocolate and beat until smooth. Stir in egg yolks and mix until well combined.

Using an electric hand beater, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue beating until it forms stiff peaks.


Fold the egg white mixture into the white chocolate and mix well. Gently fold in the flour. Spread the cake onto prepared baking tray until 2cm thick.


Bake for 10 minutes or until cooked (until skewer comes outs clean)(mine took 20-25 minutes). Allow to cool in pan then turn cake onto a board and remove baking paper. Turn cake over, top side up. Cut out a 3cm x 15cm x 15cm triangle. Reserve sponge triange and off-cuts for serving.


To make the tuile, grease and line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper. Sift the flour, sugars and salt into a bowl. Mix in the egg whites and butter. Place in the blast chiller for 10 minutes (I placed it in the freezer for 15 minutes). Spread a thin layer of batter onto one of the prepared trays and bake for 8 minutes (tuile should be set but not browned yet) (I did this at 160C fan forced). Using a sharp knife, cut the tuile, lengthways into 5cm wide strips. Turn onto the second prepared tray, separated slightly and return to oven until golden brown. While still hot, twist the tuiles and allow to cool to your desired shape.

To make the Chantilly cream, place the cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until soft peaks form; refrigerate.

To prepare the strawberries, slice strawberries into 3mm thick rounds. Place the strawberry slices, sugar and sumac in a bowl and toss to coat all side of the strawberries.

To serve, dust the sponge cake triangle with icing sugar and place in the centre of the serving plate. Place a quinell of Chantilly cream on top of sponge triangle and sprinkle the cream and some of the plate with a little sumac. Rebuild strawberry next to the sponge so bottom becomes the top. Place a small piece of squashed off cut sponge on the plate to stand the ice-cream on. With a warmed spoon, take a quinell of strawberry ice-cream and place it on top of the squashed sponge (squashed sponge should not be visible – it is just use to hold the ice-cream). Dust the tuile with icing sugar and place in the centre of the plate. (I used a piping bag to make the strawberry puree into smallish dots on the plate)


Aria Chocolate Tart

Monday, August 31st, 2009


Again with the MasterChef recipes….


I was jumping off the lounge screaming when I saw Matt Moran’s beautiful chocolate tart and tasting plate. It looked magnificent!


It combined dark chocolate-based components and created a lovely artwork on the plate. Every aspect seemed to have the possibility of problems, too thick pastry, grainy sorbet and bad tempering of the chocolate – leaving it not shiny and not able to be snapped.

It also involved more than 1kg of dark chocolate… crazy!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as pleased with this as I was with my most recent triple chocolate praline tart. This tart/combination was too rich for me (it may not have helped me eating parts of the dish as I was making it), but I generally only have a couple pieces of dark chocolate when I eat it, whereas I can eat half a block or more of milk chocolate in one sitting.


The sorbet was quite rich, with both the sorbet and the remaining tart filling (which was used to hold the macarons and pipe on the plate) didn’t freeze well enough (as you can probably see in some of the photos), in more than 2 hours in a normal freezer. Both the sorbet and tart filling were a better consistency after freezing overnight (we had a lot leftover as it made a heaps more than was required for the dishes).


I tried quite hard to temper the chocolate, although it still didn’t turn out how the MasterChef one did… Here are a few reasons that I think it may not have worked:

I’ve done a bit of research and found most sites say to bring the chocolate up to 46-48C, whereas this one stated 55C. Is this temperature too high?


I used a milk thermometer as it seemed more sensitive at lower temperatures than my sugar thermometer (was it not sensitive enough?)

Maybe the quality of the chocolate wasn’t good enough for this recipe?

Perhaps some water did get into the chocolate?

I put the bowl into a preheated oven of 160C – the recipe didn’t state how hot the oven should be (it may have heated too much at this stage)

I placed the chocolate covered film in a metal tube at room temperature (could the metal tube have caused it to set too fast?)


I noticed the chocolate that was spread on later films turned out shinier and cracked – did it need to be cooled to a certain temperature before spreading?


I am definitely looking forward to trying tempered chocolate again, this time using a more specific recipe, with a lower temperature for the melted chocolate.


Everyone needed to add a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream to their dish to cut the richness of all the dark chocolate.


After all that, I am glad I tried this dish, but I wouldn’t make it again. I would be interested in trying the one from Aria though to see how it compares.

Check out the full recipe at

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Praline

Saturday, August 1st, 2009


There are many dishes that I have on my list of yummy things to make after watching the MasterChef Australia 2009 series – and this was one of them. You may have already seen my first MasterChef challenge – the Crouquembouche, which I will be making again (not necessarily in a cone shape – perhaps just profiteroles filled with gorgeous custard, placed on baking paper and toffee poured over them, thereby reducing any injury due to placing fingers in hot toffee).


The judges absolutely loved the contestants’ sticky date puddings for this pressure test, with none of them being eliminated as they had all done so well. A friend at work had also made this dish – at least 3 times, so I figured it must be good.


I thought the dish was very lovely, although I think my expectations on taste had been lifted so high from the Crouquembouche that it didn’t live up to that recipe. The butterscotch sauce was easy and beautiful (I love butterscotch flavoured desserts) and the praline was quite nice too (although when I poured it over my almond slivers, it tended to push them away rather than flow over the top – not sure what I did wrong). The sticky date pudding itself was very tasty, even though I don’t normally like sticky date puddings out at restaurants.


Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Praline
Recipe from MasterChef Australia 2009

Makes: 6-8

180g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
11/4 cups (310ml) water
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
60g butter, softened chopped
2 eggs
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour

Almond praline
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (35g) slivered almonds

Butterscotch sauce
50g butter
1 cup (220g) brown sugar
1 cup (250ml) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Lightly grease 8 (1/2 cup capacity) metal dariole moulds. (I used 6 ramekins)

Place dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Remove from the heat. Add
bicarbonate of soda, stir until dates start to break down, set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.


Beat butter and sugar in a bowl using a hand beater, gradually add eggs one at a time, beat until light and fluffy.

Add date mixture, stir to combine. Carefully fold through sifted flour, divide mixture evenly between the eight moulds (I used 6 ramekins), until 2/3 full.


Place moulds in a baking tray, carefully pour water in tray until it comes up 1/3 of the side of the moulds. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until golden and skewer comes out clean.


Meanwhile, for the almond praline, combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Scatter almonds onto a baking paper-lined oven tray, pour over caramel and cool until set. Break praline into pieces.




For the butterscotch sauce, combine butter, sugar, cream and vanilla in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring sauce to the boil, reduce heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.

To serve, invert the hot pudding onto a serving plate, top with butterscotch sauce and shards of praline.



Gordon Ramsay, the MasterChef Judges and The Good Food and Wine Show 3-5 July 2009

Sunday, July 5th, 2009


Now some would say that counting down the days to buy tickets in the pre-booking period and calling your husband panicking 30 minutes before the lines open 6 months, 6 days and 1 hour before an event might be considered a little…. Let’s say… obsessive…


I would be one to agree with that view.

But it did not stop me late January making sure I did not miss out – as this is the first famous person I’ve met (that I can remember) and the first Good Food and Wine Show I’ve been to. Last year I was too busy and the year before that was the first time I’d really heard much about the show.


Gordon Ramsay was very different to how he acts on his shows. He seems to be more like how you see or hear him in interviews. Quite nice, with the occasional rude joke and a little swearing (I don’t even recall him swearing… maybe once or twice – but I missed it, which is not such a bad thing).


He made (with help from another chef) Cod and Tomato Chowder, Glazed Salmon with Spinach and Radish Salad and for dessert Poached Pears in Mulled Wine – with the most fantastic smelling caramelized figs! Unfortunately I wasn’t picked to go up and taste test the dishes (two females and two males from the audience were chosen).


After the show, Gordon did a book signing and was absolutely lovely in person. He greeted Nick and I, giving me a kiss on the cheek and having a small conversion about who does the cooking in our house, baking and how it is a science and wishing us well. I was delighted with how it went and look forward to cooking some of the lovely dishes from his new book Healthy Appetite, which we got singed.




A Photo from Healthy Appetite: Vanilla pannacotta with blueberry sauce:


In between this show and the next, we went around the Good Food and Wine Show trying out new foods and a lot of wines. The foods on offer ranged from lovely chocolates in a variety of intriguing flavours, nougat, biscuits, cheese, olives, olive oil, cakes, ham and lovely dips.

I was lucky enough to find my way to The Biscuit Tree, where ChocolateSuze was chatting to Lili and was extremely generous is giving us a taste test of some of her lovely biscotti and shortbread. The only problem with this was trying to decide on which to buy. 🙂 We ended up choosing a lovely Cardamon & Pear Pistachio Biscotti. The flavours complement each other really well and don’t compare to anything you can buy in the shops. Nice to meet you finally Suze! 🙂


The wines on offer took up probably more than half the stalls, I decided to try and find a wine which I liked and since I don’t really like wine, Nick ended up with double the amount of wine he had asked for. I did find a couple which I liked though, so all-in-all with a lot of taste testing done – a few Muscato’s will be remembered and possibly bought in the future.

Moving on to the last show we saw before we left, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris (two of the judges from MasterChef) from the Boathouse and The Press Club respectively, were on stage making a lovely array of dishes including Jam filled Donuts. Matt Preston also made an appearance during their cooking, with Gary and George giving one of his cravats to an audience member. Matt made sure the oven and oil was at the right temperature, as he mentioned the day before it wasn’t checked which made some of the dishes not turn out as they should.



Gary and George were very entertaining, working very well together, with many good jokes throughout. Some of the contestants from MasterChef came on the stage, with the audience picking Poh to help them with the donuts.


I had seen George’s book The Press Club a while ago and had put it on my Birthday wish list. Although after hearing George was doing signings, I made sure I bought his book at the show and got it signed, so we’ll have to see if I have to wait till my birthday to get it, or whether it will be a present to myself 🙂 . George seemed surprised by the number of people at their show as it was more packed than the earlier Gordon Ramsay show (perhaps because it cost extra and was quite early in the morning).


Just looking through the photos in The Press Club is enjoyable, with each dish presented like a piece of art. I look forward to making some of these dishes, especially as I have a big love of Greek food – especially sweets.



Photo from The Press Club: Island of Chios Mastic Pannacotta, Greek Doughnuts:


All-in-all, I really enjoyed my first Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney. I would have liked a few more foods available to try and I also found the prices quite high on a lot of the food to eat there. The shows themselves were very enjoyable, more for the celebrities themselves than the actual cooking.


Thursday, July 2nd, 2009


I was so inspired while watching MasterChef when Adriano Zumbo brought out a massive Croquembouche (a custard filled profiterole stack covered in toffee/caramel).

Hearing the crispy crunch as the contestants bite through the toffee covering layer, then seeing the thick custard and lovely fresh choux pastry… I just melted. I wished badly that I could be there trying one. (Maybe not competing – it seemed very stressful, with contestants burning their hands left, right and centre.)


After such a good recommendation (of stress and burnings) – why wouldn’t I give it a go? 😛 Well I hoped that doing it at home without as much stress would allow the experience to be a good one.

I just needed a reason to make one, and what better than a “Welcome Home” dinner? (You would want to leave and come back every week if this was your reward for returning… or at least I would).


Can I just say… this is truly the BEST, most FANTASTIC custard ever!!!! (sorry I didn’t get a photo that did it justice) The whole combination of choux pastry, custard and toffee was just amazing! I will definitely make this again, but next time I will be a bit more careful with the toffee…


I made the quantities given on the MasterChef website (check out their video), and it ended up making around 180 profiteroles (8 trays worth) and enough custard to fill half of them, with enough toffee to coat those with custard. As we had so many pastry shells left over, we filled half of the remaining profiteroles with vanilla whipped cream and dipped the top in melted dark chocolate. For this reason I would suggest making half the quantity of profiteroles (or if you only want one small Croquembouche, make a quarter of the profiteroles and half of each the custard and toffee). Due to the excess in cooking, I ended up taking a small tower and some chocolate ones to work… those poor people 😛


I found the toffee didn’t last very well for the next day, I’m not sure of the best way to store this overnight if you make it in advance, but I’m sure the custard could be made the day before, I’ve also heard the profiteroles can be made in advance… I’ll try and get back to you on what works….


Recipe from Adriano Zumbo on MasterChef Australia

Choux pastry:
425g Water
530g Milk
20g Sugar
20g Salt
400g Butter
530g Flour
16 Eggs

Pastry cream:
1300ml Milk
330g Eggs Yolks (around 18)
330g Sugar
130g Cornflour
130g Butter
2 Vanilla beans

660g Sugar
200g Water
260g Glucose

To make the pastry cream, place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Heat gently until the milk almost boils. Remove from the heat, whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Return mixture to same saucepan and stir over medium heat until the custard boils. Spread over a tray to cool rapidly. Cover the surface of the custard closely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming, at 55°C transfer to a bowl and stir through butter and refrigerate to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celsius convection. Lightly grease 4 oven trays and set aside. Combine the butter with water, sugar, milk & salt 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 to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan. Cook, beating over low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook flour. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.


Transfer to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture to release any more heat. 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. Beat for a few more minutes, or until thickened.

Spoon the mixture, in batches, into a piping bag fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle. Cover remaining pastry with cling film. Pipe mixture onto trays about 3cm 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.



Put custard into a piping bag with a nozzle less than 1cm. Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill with custard.

For the caramel, combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils add glucose, and cook until caramel in colour. Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of water to cool slightly. Grease a cake ring and place ring mould on a baking paper lined tray, pour enough caramel to coat the base 5mm. This is the base for the croquembouche. (I didn’t make this base)
Dip the puff bases in enough toffee to coat and place upside down on a tray lined with baking paper.

(I just put a bit of toffee on the base of the profiteroles in a line so I could still hold the edges of the base. I then dipped the top in the toffee and stacked the profiteroles making a cone shape, sticking them together with extra toffee if needed)

To assemble, oil the croquembouche cone. Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the base of the cone. Continue adding balls until the cone is covered.
Transfer the base for the croquembouche to a serving plate. Place a small amount of caramel on the base. Grasp croquembouche gently and lift from the cone and place on the caramel base.

Re-heat the remaining toffee then dip two forks back to back in it. Spin toffee around the Croquembouche. Decorate with violets.


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