Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Green spring rolls

Another recipe 'on the lighter side'.  Quite frankly, this is a diet recipe as you don't end up with a lot of food!  But it did look so delicious on the page (left).

As a result, I knew we had to try it, and G ended up making them in the afternoon, and then I cooked the chicken with the same dressing (which required more oil than Jill suggested).

It was quite simple, according to G, and certainly looked pretty cool on the plate, and it tasted great.  The sauce really worked on the chicken too.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Chocolate (almost mud) cupcakes

I've previously described these cupcakes as melted butter and chocolate with a thought of flour - to indicate how little flour is in this recipe.

The ingredients:
  • 300 grams butter
  • 300 grams chocolate
  • 115 grams sugar
  • 115 grams flour
  • 5 eggs

The method:
Melt the butter and chocolate together - I have done this over the stove in a double boiler, and in the microwave.   I have heard of brave souls who have melted chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over direct heat.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and yellow, and thicker.

Fold in melted chocolate/butter mixture, and make sure it is all mixed through - you don't want any vanilla streaks in your cupcakes!

You will be left with a pretty runny batter - remember, there is very little 'dry' ingredient in this mix.  So you will probably make a mess as you distribute it amongst a lined cupcake pan.

Bake, 25 minutes, 160 degrees.

Of course, for those chocaholics amongst us, the only option is to ice this cupcake with dark chocolate ganache!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Carrot fritters (with scallops)

You will quickly notice that the scallops are not on the plate, rather it is chicken tenderloins marinated in vegetable oil and curry powder (the same spice that went into the carrot fritters).  I do not like scallops, I don't know how to cook scallops, and we live a long way inland, so I would suspect that scallops would not be that fresh and the only thing worse tasting than fresh scallops is old scallops!

This was the first time I have ever done any kind of frying at home (aside from pan fry with just a spray of oil I mean).  I had to cook so the fritters were abotu half submerged in the oil, until golden, and then flip.  Ensuring the oil was hot enough, and draining the fritters on paper towel afterwards resulted in really light, fluffy fritters that weren't oily at all.

You could really do this with any vegetable you like, and can be bothered to grate.  G suggested potato, but grating potatoes doesn't really appeal!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Chocolate meringue cookies

These cookies are delicious and so simple.  Most of the work happens in the kitchen aid (whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks) and then you just fold in melted chocolate and chopped nuts.

The recipe:
Melt 1 cup choc bits (your choice, though I've never tried white)
Stir in 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (your choice, I've tried walnuts and almonds and I recommend you choose a nut that is light weight for its size - walnuts, pecans etc)
Mix the nuts and chocolate together, and then set it aside to cool - it needs the next few minutes to cool so that it doesn't cook the egg when it gets mixed in.

Beat 2 egg whites with 1/8 tsp white vinegar until soft peaks forms.
Slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar (I always use caster sugar so the meringue is super smooth) and 1/8 tsp vanilla essence and beat until very stiff peaks form.

Fold in choc/nut mix.

Put teaspoon size drops onto lined tray and bake at 175 degrees for 15 minutes.

You have to give the biscuits some time to cool on the rack so the bottom hardens up.  If you lift them off too early the centre of the biscuit will stick to the baking paper.

This recipe originally came from Cindy Harris - Harwood Productions (link here)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Caramel chicken

This tasted great, but appearance wise... less than satisfying.  My fault, I put the vegies in too early to cook with the chicken.  That meant they really soaked up the sauce, but look kind of brown!

Also, the sauce wasn't reducing quickly enough, so it was less sticky than it looked in Bill's version.

Oh well, can't win them all.

Bill's version:

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Grilled zucchini with caprese salad and rocket salsa

First things first, I swapped the 'rocket salsa' for left over salsa verde from the tuna recipe, we still had plenty of it left, it was basil based, and was the same colour as the rocket salsa was in the magazine picture.

Anyway, this was the second recipe I made from Jill Dupleix's new column in Delicious, called Lighten Up.  Don't be scared of the name, this doesn't seem to be a diet section of the magazine, although it does give a nutritional breakdown for each recipe (you know, fat, fibre, protein, carb by percentage).  Rather, it looks to be a section focussed on light meals (although they may be high in fat!)

We don't own a big enough chargrill pan, so I did some in the chargrill pan, some in the regular fry pan, and it all tasted great.  The whole thing would have tasted better if we could have found better quality cheese.  I remember when we lived in England in 2004 G and I used to go to Harrod's all the time.  On one visit there were taste testing stands for all kinds of specialist Italian producers, including a buffalo mozzarella producer.  Divine. That cheese in this salad would have been perfect.  G is now tasked with finding something compares...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Honey cheesecake

Wow, this is a weird cake.  Mostly all ricotta, with very little extra added (weight wise) to make it a cake.  Seriously, it took 1kg of ricotta.

Anyway, as you can imagine, it's pretty easy to put together.  Partly done in the kitchen aid (the sugar and eggs), partly done by hand (folding in ricotta). Into the oven for a long, relatively low temp, bake.  80 minutes.  You can get a lot of other things done in 80 minutes, particularly when you are trying to make dinner at the same time.

When it first comes out of the over it is HUGE:

And then it deflates, a lot:

And keeps going, here it is served with some orange syrup and whipped cream:

Modifications: dried apricots, rather than sultanas - G's mum doesn't like sultanas.  That's all of the mods - I am a believer that baking is chemistry and you don't mess with the formula!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Why do I already have the April issue of Delicious???  It's only 18 March, which means I still have 13 days to cook the remaining 4 recipes I want to make from the March edition, but the April edition has turned up and is very tempting.

I don't know why magazines are published on this month ahead schedule.  I read:

"Say your monthly magazine reaches newsstands on the 5th of each month. Do you call the issue that comes out on 5th of July the July issue? No, because there's a risk that come 1 August, the July issue will be cleared off the shelf and your magazine won't be on sale for at least five days until the August issue arrives. Dating a month ahead ensures your magazine is on the stands until the next issue comes out. That's why magazines are dated a month ahead." (source)

Ok, so the date printed on the cover means that the contents are current from when you buy the magazine (in the previous month) to the end of the month printed on the cover?  Well, not in my opinion.  Particularly in relation to food magazines.

We're all becoming more obsessed with seasonality, and using local produce.  When a magazine is advertised for 'April' I expect that ingredients in season in April will be featured.  However, this does not seem to be the case. For example, asparagus is in season in 'Summer'.  Sure, there can be arguments as to when summer begins and ends, but April is not summer.  Why is asparagus featured in the April issue.  Not only is out of season produce more expensive, it also tastes worse (assuming it is old stock) or has travelled a long distance.

In terms of fashion magazines I can almost understand why they date the magazine a month ahead.  Fashion shows etc are done at specific times of the year (NY fall fashion week is 11-18 Feb) but those clothes won't be in shops for a while - weeks or months depending on the hemisphere in which you live. 

Anyway, rant over.  I am left with a dilemma: not sure whether my rule should be to cook when the magazine arrives or when it is the actual month that is printed on the cover... thoughts?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Corn soup with pan fried mushroom

Consider your self warned, this soup took a lot of preparation time!  You need to make 'corn stock' by boiling the de-corned cobs in water for a while (up to an hour).  Then you need to cut and cook what seems like a lot of eschalots - which inevitably leads to me needing extra time for 'crying breaks' while I am cutting!  Throw in the corn kernels, cook for a while, throw in the corn stock, cook for a while, add cream and seasonings, then blend.

None of the steps are hard, but they really are time consuming so this is not going to become a midweek favourite, unless I've made the soup on the weekend before!

The taste, oh the taste.  All the work is worth the taste.  The corn flavour is simply phenomenal.  I actually boiled my cobs for too long, and didn't end up with enough water, so I added some chicken stock.  Did not make a difference (in my opinion).

The mushrooms in the middle were fabulous too.  I had a minor heart attack when I was looking over the recipe (when the soup was simmering towards the end of the cooking time) to figure out the mushrooms and I saw that 'garlic' was on the ingredient list, and I hadn't put garlic in!  Not to worry, the garlic is ONLY to go with the mushrooms. 

The mushrooms didn't really float, although I followed the instructions to plate up.  Oh well, you can see a hint of them to the left, and they added a wonderful flavour to the soup.  I am going to have the leftover soup for lunch at work, sans mushrooms, so it will be a good comparison.

I served it with garlic bread, and salad, because a meal is not compete without salad, no matter how wonderful the corn soup tastes.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Smoked sea salt - update

Located a box of the Maldon smoked sea salt (blog post about how I wanted to buy some here).  Here it is in our kitchen:

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Curried egg garden salad

G loves soft boiled eggs, so I did them softer than the recipe called for - which I think worked, just! 

The curry mayo was great - partly because I used really good whole egg mayo as the base.  I certainly bulked out the salad a bit - so it would be a whole meal, rather than a side salad.

There really wasn't anything 'special' about this salad - the recipe version, or my version.  It was just a salad, using whatever ingredients I had lying around, topped with a boiled egg and curry mayo instead of salad dressing. 

Probably wouldn't bother to make it again...

Friday, 12 March 2010

Chargrilled tuna with salsa verde

Jamie serves this on a big platter, and made coriander salsa verde.  You have to admit that his looks very pretty!  I don't really like coriander, and was only making the dish for 3 people, which didn't really warrant a platter.

The salsa verde (my version) was a simple job for my food processor.  Basil, mint, oil, red wine vinegar, capers and pepper.  Pulse until done. 

Cooking tuna doesn't really require much more effort - except you need to remember to marinate the tuna early enough, which I did.  Then it was a simple matter of pan frying the tuna, blanching some greens and serving it with the salsa verde so it looks pretty on the plate as a single serve. 

I (unashamedly) did the restaurant thing of stacking the tuna on the veg, which makes it practically impossible to eat, but sure looks good. 

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Delicious March 2010 review

It arrived, but I wasn't quite finished with February, so I decided to wait until it was properly March before I cooked from this beauty.

My 'to make' list:
  • Swordfish involtini
  • Green spring rolls
  • Smoked salmon souffle
  • Roasted eschalot, smoked sausauge and mushroom tart
  • Curried egg garden salad
  • Chargrilled tuna with salsa verde
  • Grilled zucchini and caprese salad
  • Corn soup with mushrooms

But no desserts appealed in this issue - all to cakey/pastryish (and not enough chocolate) for my tastebuds.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Finished with February

So I didn't make everything I had planned from this issue of Delicious, however I gave it a good try, and liked most of the results!

What I made:
  • Ocean trout with smashed potatoes
  • Ben's pumpkin (sweet potato) scones
  • Tomato and goat's cheese tart
  • Cheat's peach melba (althought it wasn't called that)
  • Asparagus salad
  • Milk and honey parfait

What I didn't get to:
  •  Brioche french toast
  • Spiced rice salad
Successes?  Well everything tasted good, but I have made the peach melba again (with nectarines and blood orange gelato) and I have absolutely raved about that tart!  If I had to pick just one it would be the tart.

Less successful?  the texture of the milk and honey parfait wasn't great , and the asparagus salad wasn't totally amazing, or particularly original. 

Monday, 8 March 2010

Milk & honey parfait

This was on my list of 'to make' out of February Delicious, but when I managed to buy some fresh honeycomb at the shops last week, I knew it was time!

It's a simple recipe, with all the hard work (beating) done in the Kitchen Aid of course!

It separates as it sets, which is not obvious from the picture, but if you look carefully you can see it, which reassured me no end!

The texture is quite strange, but I think a stronger tasting honey would have been better - the honey from the honeycomb, or some of the leatherwood honey Tetsuya uses!

I served it with some raspberry coulis, cream and some honeycomb - looked yum!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Little Cupcakes, Melbourne

I thought it would be a nice surprise to turn up at my sister's house with some cupcakes for us to share, so after I arrived in the city in Melbourne I went to Little Cupcakes in Degraves St.  There are 2 'Little Cupcakes' locations in the city, but the Degraves St one seems like the main location - or at least, that's my impression from their website.

I bought 4 mini cakes: choc mint, cookies 'n' cream, latte and white chocolate and raspberry.

The cookies 'n' cream was my least favourite - too sugary - but my goodness, they really were all delicious.  The best cake was the white chocolate one, super smooth and not crumbly, the chocolate cakes (all 3 of the other flavours were chocolate cakes) ranged from too dry/crumbly to just right!

The icing is beautifully heaped mounds of super smooth deliciousness, artfully topped with a flavoursome decoration.

These are definitely in the running for wedding cupcakes...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Tetsuya's smoked trout

When we spotted this in the cabinet at the Food Lover's store (a local gourmet deli style store, website here) in north Canberra, G and I KNEW that we had to eat it.   I have previously blogged about our dining experience at Tetsuya's restaurant here - and of course the in home experience could never be as good, but this trout was pretty fantastic. 

We did all the right things:
  • brought it up to room temperature
  • put it on good bread
  • secured it to the bread with a bit of hollandaise (Simon Johnson on sale at the DJ's foodhall)
and munched away!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Chocolate custard tarts

These are fantastic - I wish I could make custard!  As I have noted before I cannot make custard, but G can, luckily.

Bill has a neat trick for the pastry rounds - you layer 2 slices of defrosted pastry on top of one another, roll it up, slice it and then roll the spirals out into pastry rounds for tart shells.  

Anyway, simple enough concept.  Make custard on stove top, allow to cool.  Pour into unbaked pastry shells, bake together.   Sprinkle with icing sugar JUST before you serve or it will dissolve.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Silicon bakeware

I have a little collection of silicon bakeware, 'little' being the operative word!

I have little round ones and little star shaped ones.  I use the round ones for making mini cupcakes, or mini muffins.  They are really good quality silicon and the little cakes just slip right out!

The star ones are probably too small for cupcakes, although the box they came in specifically says to make cupcakes in them!  What do you think?  I think I am going to try and make chocolates in them (after I do a chocolate cooking class on 20 March).  I will report back with results.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

BBQ duck salad

Super easy - buy half a duck, tear up, mix with salad.  Done.  Or a little more fancy if you follow Bill's way!

And we did predominantly follow Bill's recipe, though I did add some extra vegetables so it was a meal, rather than an entree. 

The best part was probably the dressing - adding Hoisin sauce to a vinaigrette - delicious.  Of course, a good duck was pretty important too. 

Monday, 1 March 2010

Warm tomato and ricotta pasta salad

Making the breadcrumbs was the worst! I ended up with a blister (a serious one) on my thumb. This has something to do with how they are made - from toasted bread, crushed in my hands.

Anyway, the general idea is that you toast bread, make breadcrumbs. While the bread is toasting you chop up the tomatoes and marinate them in the appropriate vinegar and herbs.

Cook some pasta and toss the tomatoes through, along with some crumbled ricotta and then top with the breadcrumbs, and basil (assuming you have it!)

I cooked the tomatoes a bit - just because I like my dinner super hot, not just warm.

I hate cooking rigatoni. It is too thick and falls apart as it cooks. Yuck.