Saturday, 31 July 2010

Spinach, mushroom and brie freeform pie

I altered this recipe a bit, just on quantities though, because we only wanted to eat it for one meal.  Often the Delicious recipes serve 4 or 6 people and I make the full amount to use for lunch leftovers during the week (or the next night if I am feeling lazy) but I don't think pastry reheats very well, so I just made 1/3 of the recipe and made 2 individual pies.

Again, a simple pie that did not require blind baking.  I used the best pastry I could find - careme all butter puff pastry - and this brand even makes delicious tasting soggy pastry.  The pastry on the bottom was soggy (no blind baking) but great anyway!

I cheated and used frozen spinach, which still worked perfectly fine, and I only used about 2/3 of the brie required after I had calculated the new quantities just to make 2 pies, and I am glad I used less brie or the pie would have been too rich.  I actually had sealed the pastry and had put the pies in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes when I looked down at the chopping board and realised that I hadn't put any of the brie in!  I quickly unsealed and inserted the brie and re-sealed the pies. 

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Obsessed with Cupcakes on Pitt?

Each time I go up to Sydney (or G goes) we grab some cupcakes, often from Cupcake on Pitt.  To be honest, the chocolate cake is often too dry, but the cakes are a great (small) size and the flavours are good, and natural/not too sweet, even the fruit flavours.  They decorations are pretty, and a step above a simple icing swirl with a 'flavour indicator' (eg piece of honeycomb) put on top.  I have probably tried (or bought) most flavours.

(back row - peanut butter, white chocolate; middle row - raspberry, strawberry; front row - banana, butter cookie)

(clockwise from front left - black forest, raspberry, choc mint)

(left column - 2 x chocolate sundae, pistachio; middle column - pistachio, lemon; right column - carrot, 2 x mocha)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Pie of Ballycroft cheese, smoked salmon and potato

First things first, I could not find Ballycroft cheese at my local shops so I just used some smooth ricotta cheese, which worked absolutely fine!

It's quite a simple pie but I think I prefer the (more complicated) pie that involves blind baking first - the pastry on the bottom is better, crispier and overall the pie is more enjoyable.  Actually, if you look at the photo in Delicious of this pie you'll see that it looks like an inverted pie.

Simply layer each ingredient (though parboil the potatoes first) and then bake! Unfortunately my layers looked less distinct that Mark McNamara's (the chef who wrote the recipe) but I still think it looks pretty impressive, and G agreed.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Layered vegetable torte

As Mark Bittman admitted in his NY times article about this dish, it's not very 'minimalist'.  By this, he, and I, mean that it requires a bit of time and some care in presentation is needed.

We did our vegetables on the BBQ - faster as we could do more at once.

Then it was simply a matter of layering it all into a springform pan, sprinkling with breadcrumbs and parmesan and baking for 30 minutes

And because we already had the BBQ on, we decided to serve this with sausages

Do you want to make it?  Recipe here.

Friday, 23 July 2010

My mini bundt cake pan (and its first use)

I bought a mini gugelhupf pan (also known as bundt cake) from Aldi a couple of weeks ago, and got around to using it this weekend.

First things first, I had to find a recipe (that didn't include yeast - none in the house or bananas - which I do not like).  Found one on

1 cup butter,softened
1 cup superfine sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Slowly add the beaten eggs and mix together.
3.Gradually fold in the flour and the cocoa powder mixing well. Spoon all of the mixture into the bundt cake pan.
4.Bake for about 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

This recipe made enough for 6 mini bundt cakes and 4 1/2 cupcakes (regular size) and only took 20 minutes to cook.  I left them in their pan for 10 mins to cool, and then attempted to turn them out.

Unfortunately the non-stick + oil spray wasn't enough and they took a bit of effort to get out, and used a bit of icing as glue to stick them back together - still look and taste delicious though.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Spicy meatballs on toast

Yum!  I love meatballs, but I don't enjoy making them and getting all that mince, raw egg etc under my fingernails - I let G take care of that, and he does such a good job making them evenly.

I then baked the meatballs in the oven (after browning them in a pan - if I was smarter I would have used the same pan, and made less washing up for afterwards) for 10 minutes with some cherry tomatoes.  Then tossed them in some sauce (passata, vinegar and brown sugar) and served with toast, and a variety of olives.

Of course, there was some left over which we enjoyed at lunchtime today on some pasta.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Sugar thermometer

Obtained!  I was lucky enough to be given one for my birthday recently.  Now I need to make the rosette cookies I have talked about for a while now...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Chocolate bread cake

Why did I bother with this one?  As I think I mentioned in my review of the July issue (post here) I do not like bread and butter pudding, and I was a little apprehensive about this cake.  Correctly apprehensive so it turns out.

My main problem with bread and butter pudding is the texture (and I have the same problem with trifle and bananas).  It is smooth but slick and mostly tasteless. 

For some reason (possibly because it had been a while since I had baked anything and the kitchen aid was feeling unloved) I decided to make the Chocolate Bread cake from Tobie Puttock.

Another reason I chose to make this is the picture - doesn't it look delectable with the orange sauce just dripping over the sides.

Anyway, it's a weird recipe which starts with soaking bread in milk - oh the smell, suffice it to say - unpleasant, and the appearance - unappealing.

Then I beat in the bread to egg, milk, chocolate etc and at that point I was concerned because it was a very runny mixture.

The cake went into the oven and I had a bit of mixture left over (which went into the bin).  The cake is baked for 40 mins at a high temperature and 50 minutes more at a lower temperature.  Then it came out and sunk a little bit but looked quite nice when I eventually served it (without the orange sauce).

Looks good, G enjoyed it and I didn't.  Oh well.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Delicious magazine, July

Delicious have had a run of dark colours on the covers, slow cooking, and rich, hearty looking food.  Looks delicious, but perhaps I am feeling a little bored with the 'same, same' look - I am ready for Summer (or at least Spring) and want the magazine to make me feel like Spring is on the way.

That criticism aside, there are still several dishes I want to make:
  • Celeriac soup - never cooked with celeriac before, and I feel like this would be a good wintry meal
  • Lamb ragu with rosemary, chilli and conchiglie
  • Pie of Ballycroft cheese, smoked salmon and potato - maybe without the Ballycroft cheese (as I have never seen that in the shops around here)
  • Pot-roasted bolar blade with port and garlic- will have to purchase something to cook this in
  • Spicy meatballs
  • Spinach, brie and mushroom pie
  • Apple & pear pikelets
  • Chocolate bread cake - can I really bring myself to make this?  I despise bread and butter pudding

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Vietnamese chicken, lemongrass & rice soup

Wow, so many modifications on this one.  The butcher didn't have marylands (so I bought drumsticks), I cheated on the stock because I couldn't be bothered making it from scratch, left out the ginger and coriander...

But it still tasted so good, and though I can imagine it would taste better if I had bought all the listed ingredients and if I had bothered to make the stock myself, I think that in terms of effort put in versus results I definitely came out ahead!

Not the most attractive meal....

Monday, 12 July 2010

Herb baked blue eye on saffron & tomato potatoes

Geez, the recipe title is a bit of a mouthful!
It tasted wonderful though, and was relatively easy to make:
  • par boil the potatoes (do it for longer than the recipe calls for or your potatoes may not be cooked through once you have baked the dish
  • marinate the fish in A LOT of herbs
  • bake it all in the oven (with tomatoes and saffron)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Cheat's crumble

Apple, rhubarb, apricot crumble, together or separately, perfect for a winter dessert.  Sometimes making a crumble can be a lot of effort especially if you are only making it for two people.  I revert to a cheat's version.

All you need to do is rub together unsalted butter, flour, oats and your choice of extras.  I like to add in chopped up dried apricot, dessicated coconut, chopped nuts, choc chips... mmm.  Rub it until it is all mixed together and clumpy.

Then all you do is fry it in a fry pan, no oil because the butter in the mixture will be enough.  Cook it until the things start to brown and there are no clumps of butter or flour.  Pour on stewed fruit (or pie fruit from a tin) and maybe top with some cream.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Nordicware baking mat

I have previously written about my desire for a silpat.  As they are unavailable in Australia I have considered purchasing them from eBay USA and paying the exorbitant shipping... but I was pleasantly surprised to find Nordicware's baking mat.  It's weird, and I don't know what it is made of.  But the deal is that it comes in a large rectangle which you can cut to size - and there are templates for Nordicware's baking trays if you have one to match your baking mat!

So far I have only used it instead of flouring my bench - because I have plenty of baking paper to use up first!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Some baking

We have morning teas at work every couple of weeks I guess - birthdays, farewell parties and occasionally a charity fundraiser.  I like to take different things each time, and recently I've had a couple of successes.

These are my simple butter cookies (which I will blog about in more detail in the future).  The interesting feature of these really is the decoration.

I rolled out the biscuit dough and cut big circles, then cut little circles from the middle - I think these little holes were made with the big end of piping tips. 

I made thick icing sugar glaze (icing sugar and a little milk + food colouring for pink/+ cocoa for chocolate) and spread it all over then decorated with sprinkles and mini chocolate bits.

I found the idea at a blog called the decorated cookie - have a look at the spectacular biscuits here, way more complicated than mine, and involved piping and then flooding cookies before sprinkles.

More recently I made chocolate caramel cups, which came from Good Taste magazine December 2009.

To start, you need to melt 150 grams of chocolate (I prefer dark) and then paint a thick, even layer on the inside of foil cups.  Leave the foil cups upside down on a cake cooling rack to set for 20 minutes.

Then melt 80 grams of mars bar with 1/3 cup pouring cream in a small saucepan over a low heat.  Once the mars bar has melted in take the pan off the heat and let it cool and set for up to 10 minutes.  Then pour it into each cup and top with more melted chocolate (which you may have to re-melt).

You can see that we don't own the appropriate paint brush to make these chocolates, so we used clean cotton buds - worked perfectly!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Nasi goreng

Confession - this is the first time I made a curry paste from scratch.  It just looked so delicious in the magazine that I had to make it:

So of course, I didn't follow the recipe precisely.  I left out the prawn (not a big fan) and also left the shrimp paste out of the curry paste - not because it is made from shrimp but because I couldn't find it at the shops.

Pulled the trusty food processor out to make the paste - and it make short work of it!  Then it was simply cooking it, with some rice, vegies and flaked smoked trout = done.

A side note, this recipe requires organisation!  Sometimes, when I'm cooking, I chop as I go but sometimes everything needs to be ready because the whole thing only takes a few minutes - this is one of those recipes, so be prepared:

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Chocolate toast

I've been making decadent breakfasts lately, though this one may 'take the cake' so to speak.

Literally, it's dark chocolate sandwiched between good bread, cooked in butter and olive oil and sprinkled with salt at the end of the cooking process.

When I saw it in Delicious I knew I had to make it, and then one of my favourite bloggers - Almost Bourdain - made it and it looked so good!  She used lindt sea salt, which I didn't own at the time, but have since purchased:

Quite frankly, any meal that starts like this:

has to be fantastic!