Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"It actually looks like a pie".....

....was the exact quote from my love. *Heh*. So I actually went ahead and made my own pastry (sour cream shortcrust for the base, and it was absolutely amazingly easy.) I used Maggie Beer's recipe - so now have a new found respect for her. And yes, I did in fact do this on a weeknight. Basically - I just made the pastry as soon as I got home, then threw it in the fridge to chill whilst I put away the shopping, got changed etc.

AS for the pie filling? Well, it was a fairly simple affair:

1 onion finely diced
500gm lean beef mince
1 tspn garlic
Gravox powder
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
red wine


saute onion, add mince, brown
Gravox, water to desired thickness and rest of ingredients to taste.

After blind baking your pastry, add the meat mixture, and top with either another quantity of sour cream shortcrust or some puff pastry. I used puff pastry for this.

Repertoire? Oh yes, Andrew was very impressed indeed.

And it nicely fits the frugal bill, I think.

Confession? I actually did buy some store bought shortcrust, just in case of emergency. Now I have to find something to do with it *sigh* it never, ever ends, does it?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Big Menu Monday - what's coming up this week?

So I finally get back to Big Menu Monday. I seem to spend most of my Mondays planning what I'm going to eat for the rest of the week, so I thought I might as well share it with the internets.

  • Kashmiri lamb curry - though I just found out this is really just another name for Rogan Josh. Oh well! The recipe looks great, nonetheless.
  • Meat pie - probably made with mince and some sort of yummy gravy. This is a special request from Food Critic Andrew. However, I told him that I see his pie, and raise him homemade pastry (but not the puff pastry part!) It leads me to the big challenge - homemade shortcrust pastry. Now -pastry is supposed to be easy, but it totally freaks me out for some reason. I'll let you know how it goes. I was thinking a) have back up pastry in freezer b) possibly make Maggie Beer's sourcream shortcrust pastry - which sounds utterly delicious. Helenactually made some pastry on the weekend so I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures of that.
  • Apple and hazelnut strudels for some sort of dessert this week, I think (when I've finished the dark chocolate tart!)
  • And I've been rediscovering Nigella this week. I am so in love with her food, I want to weep with gratitude to her publishers..... I am sure you'll see something of hers in the mix this week.
  • Oh! And planning a dinner this weekend for a friend. I have entree ideas, dessert is sorted. Now for the main event???
Yum, yum, yum.

Now for some of that chocolate tart....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dark chocolate and coconut tart

Oh, now this is special.....

I've finally eaten all the Banoffee Pie and have now made this amazing dark chocolate and coconut tart.

Look, I got the idea from taste.com.au - they have a recipe for "Bounty tarts", basically involving some melted Bounty chocolates and a bit more chocolate melted in - but I've gone and adapted it to a more sophisticated adult taste (well -OK - it's got dark chocolate in it, might be a bit strong for kiddies).

So, basically -


250 gm best dark chocolate
300 ml double cream
100g (or more to taste) shredded coconut
quantity shortcrust pastry


Blind bake your pastry into a large tart pan, or into smaller mini tart pans.
On the stove, melt the dark chocolate, and stir in shredded coconut
When it is all melted and stirred through, remove from heat, and add cream.

Pour into cooled down pastry, and put straight into the fridge.

Allow to set overnight (or as long as you can hold off)

Serve cold with whipped cream on the side or any other side you prefer such as vanilla ice cream. Don't crowd the flavours too much, I think. The tart is quite soft, so really needs to be served straight from the fridge. Enjoy!

Am I the only person in the world who has a religious experience when they eat banoffee pie?

So, I finally went and did it.

Forever, I've been wanting to recreate these amazing desserts that I experienced whilst living in the UK (Gloucestershire to be precise). I worked in a boutique hotel and one of the cakes/desserts they served was Banoffee pie. I had never tried anything so amazingly great in my entire life.

I've always had issues with my weight, always promising myself I would lose weight, so making these incredibly rich desserts seemed a bit contrary to that, and I'd never make something as rich and delectable as a Banoffee pie. Possibly out of fear that I would eat the entire thing in one sitting!

So now I've got my weight issues under control and feel a whole lot freer to make and enjoy these yummy desserts - because I know how to keep it in moderation.

So I found a few recipes on the Internets - but really ended up doing my own thing just by using the same principles I found all over the place.

So here goes -


Shortcrust pastry
1 x banana, sliced thinly
1 tin top "n" fill caramel (or you could make your own home made caramel)
whipped cream
drinking chocolate powder


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (medium oven)
blind bake the shortcrust pastry for 10-15 mins
Allow the pastry to cool, then remove your rice/pasta/ceramic beads whatever you use to blind bake with.
Lay base of tart (or mini tarts if you prefer) with banana slices
Add caramel over the top, to fill tart.
Lay more banana over the top of caramel
lay whipped cream over the top
Top with chocolate drinking powder

Serve. Enjoy the love. Lie on the ground and hug yourself with joy for,oh, an hour or so!

Notes: These should be served immediately. Shea has suggested that she would put coconut in place of the chocolate - which sounds like a great idea. Food Critic Andrew would like a biscuit base -like the Best ever cheesecake - so I will probably try that next time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best ever cheesecake (apparently)

So one type of cake I have never truly understood is Cheesecake (Cheese? Cake? separately sure, but never ever together…). Food Critic Andrew on the other hand is a huge fan of cheesecake, so I make one occasionally. He’s just getting over a nasty cold/flu (which I now have – hooray!) so I though I’d cheer him up with a nice baked creation. So I had a look around my favourite sites and came up with this recipe.

So if you have a look through the recipe on the cuisine's site -it involves a spring form tin, and firstly constructing a waterproof contraption around the edges with a combination of tinfoil and baking paper. So I made that, then proceeded to make the mixture, and then finally put the tin in the tray and adding the boiling water.

Then watched as the water came though the aluminium foil. So much for my waterproof contraption - *sigh*.

So it goes in the oven for 50 minutes initially, so I nonetheless trotted off to the DVD store, quite despondently to pick up some viewing for the evening.
We got back, and when the timer went off I duly left it in the oven for the prescribed hour (well, 55 minutes anyway). Out it came - and it actually looked like it had cooked! I was expecting a dish full of cream cheese yuckiness everywhere that would take forever to clean up.

Duly refrigerated it overnight and served it after Sunday lunch Roast rabbit (which is another story altogether). My confidence was shaken, but as I gingerly sent the hot knife through the cake, it actually had cooked! The biscuit base did actually look like it had some water through it, but actually cooked rather well. Food Critic Andrew actually said the base was a big part of the taste - and provided a nice contrast to the cake. Also, the bottom half of the filling was a bit less solid than I would like - but I don't know whether it should have more baking time, or it was the water.

Anyhow - will I do it again? Yes - unlike the Roast Rabbit, I sure will. With some modification and a bit more care with the craft project described at top.

And yes - it quite lives up to its name.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Olive oil in desserts?

So Helen was telling me today about the MasterChef website, which apparently has the recipes for some of the recipes they use on the show (I don't watch TV). And she was also saying that they have an interesting recipe for Chocolate Mousse, which involves evoo (or perhaps just olive oil?) So I found the MasterChef site and finally found the recipe here at the Ready steady Cook site here. Apparently this recipe has done the rounds with this chef!. I'm going to give it a go soon - just to get past the issue I have about evoo and desserts. Weird. I'll let you know how it goes, of course!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday night express dinner

So, pictures from my camera are loading, but not from my desktop. *sigh* oh the internets - why do you torture me so?

Tonight I am utterly exhausted and frankly, could use a lie down for about - oh, 72 hours straight. I didn't go for a morning jog today, and maybe that is why I feel so completely tired.

Yesterday was my University graduation (tiring), the day before was a trip to Taronga Zoo with my Sister, her 9 yr old, her 6 week old, Food Critic Andrew and my Dad. They drove up from Melbourne on Sunday night as a surpise. It was so great to see them! Baby Cameron is the most gorgeous baby I've seen in a while. he's also very calm, which is nice no doubt for my sister.

Anyhow, back to the recipes (why we're here!) Tonight I made this Chicken dish that I found recently on cuisine.com.au. I am sometimes a bit cynical when I see "Kid Friendly" and often wonder whether it's a bit bland. Anyhow, I made it generally according to the recipe, except that I added onion, celery (after the chicken) and far more white wine than the recipe called for. I also added a bit more tomato paste than the recipe called for, just to taste. The recipe (despite the photo) doesn't seem to have olives included. So I put them in along with the mushrooms. The verdict? B Sides. I'd have this again. It didn't seem particularly special or out of this world as say the Beef Olives featured a while back.

Oh - and a special mention for Cold Rock Ice cream - I had one of their sundaes yesterday (after my Graduation - it was my special celebratory treat) The girl in the shop was nice enough to just make it with 2 instead of 3 scoops of ice cream. I still felt rather ill afterwards, but gosh it was lover'ly! My scoops? Choc hazelnut (with maltesers mixed in) and mint choc chip (no mix in). OMG, so unbelievably great. I love ice cream! I want an ice cream maker now!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Anzac Biscuits by Helen

*sigh* I've been trying for days to get the pictures to upload, but they just don't want to. Anyhow:

My friend/colleague Helen made some amazing Anzac biscuits:

Helen writes "The Anzac recipe was from taste - http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/15770/chewy+anzac+biscuits.

The Anzac biscuits were so yummy, and I'll definitely make them again. I measured the dough out with a tablespoon, so that's why they're all a consistent size, and it actually made 35, not 24. I used the scales to measure the ingredients out instead of the volume measurements and 10min in the oven is exactly right, but a bit longer is fine if you want them a bit crunchier on the outside. If the mixture made 24, each biscuit would be 524kJ each."

Sunday Roast - Crispy duck with cabbage

Ohh, look at that crispy duck skin. Today was the first time ever that I attempted to roast a duck. I bought it yesterday in Chinatown. I've been researching over the last week how I should cook it, and the best recipe I could find was here.

However, I decided to skip the apple cider parts and simply saute some cabbage and give it a white wine vinegar dressing. Gravy was served on the side, along with roast onions, parsnip and potato. You can see from the lightness of the flesh that this was a farmed, not wild duck. Food Critic Andrew tells me they are a lot darker in colour, and a lot stronger in flavour.

Make sure of the following:

  • Your duck is up on a rack above your roasting tray (this allows for the fat to drain)
  • Don't worry about olive oil on the vegetable - there is plenty of duck fat darining out of the duck as it cooks
  • Don't stuff the duck, just put in some onion and herbs. This lets the hot air cook the duck from the inside.
  • To ensure a crispy skin, pat the duck dry after washing, score the duck breast, and rub salt into the skin.
So I've kept the duck carcass and remains to use as stock at some point (fingers crossed. Firstly, I need to find a use for it).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

French toast with caramelised nashi - Saturday breakfast

I've been busting to make this French toast with caramelised nashi for ages now, and haven't quite been organised. But here it finally is. And it was absolutely delightful. The one thing I am terrible at is actually reading and following the recipe. I followed this one very carefully, in case I missed something. I even made sure to use the right sugar.

And it was utterly delightful. I did have a terrible suspicion that it would turn out far far too sweet for my liking, but actually it wasn't overly sweet at all. Food Critic Andrew has even gone so far as to say that this could be a regular fixture at our breakfast table on a Saturday morning.

Downside? The nashi's are a slightly expensive fruit (in comparison to other pears and apples), but I actually have some leftover, which I may have on porridge this week. I am actually most proud of how golden the caramelised nashi is. As for food portioning? Well, that one slice was actually quite adequate for a light breakfast, surprisingly.

Oh, and best of all? The loaf of spotted tom (raison bread) now sitting in the fridge. Yum. I certainly don't need an excuse to get into that stuff! I would like to get better at making my own home baked loaves though! I can imagine how maany preservatives are in the store bought stuff!

Chinatown visit! Saturday morning expedition

So I had an expedition to Chinatown today - with the express intention of picking up a few ingredients, most specifically a duck - and also some red bean paste pre-curser. I can gets duck locally but at a very expensive price. I also thought that since I was there I might pick up some Asian food staple such as udon noodles, and "cake mix" (I think that should be bread mix!)for the kaarage chicken that I've made once or twice. So happily, it also turns out quite nicely that there is a very cheap produce market underneath. I managed to pick up a duck for roasting, and a frozen rabbit for quite a lot cheaper than my local butcher (A little while ago, I'd planned to do a roast rabbit). Also a whole lot of fresh vegetables for far cheaper than my local supermarket, so I am very very happy. And yes, I did manage to pick up azuki beans for the red bean paste pancakes I'll be making in the near future. I am very pleased. My fridge is very full.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Can you freeze sandwiches?

So I happened to be reading a post (possibly this) and was intrigued with the idea. So I don't like PBJ, but was wondering about other sandwiches I could possibly freeze for my own lunches. Found
this post on bento boxes, and apparently it's quite possible. Stay tuned for a tryout.....

Kangaroo Steaks with pepper and cranberry sauce

Oh, So I did up a really lovely Kangaroo Steak with parsnip/potato mash and vegetables this evening for dinner. My local and most convenient Supermarket doesn’t have the biggest range of foods so I was rather pleased to find they actually stock Kangaroo meat. Let’s hope they keep it up in the future! The Manager or whoever does the buying there tends to discontinue products with abandon. I’m just upset that they discontinued one of the only herbal infusions I like – and also can’t seem to stock any sort of dumpling. Anyhow, back to the Kangaroo. It needs to be cooked only briefly to ‘rare’ – it is very tender, and overcooking can make it a bit tough. I did want to make a riberry sauce to go with this, but they’re not in season/easily procured at the moment. (Also, apparently they grow around here, but I dn't have time this evening to scour the streets) I was thinking that the Kangaroo might go nicely with a cranberry sauce perhaps? Tonight I made a pepper cranberry sauce – but you can also let the meat speak for itself.

So I had about 300g Kangaroo Meat (100g portion for me, 200g for Food Critic Andrew)
Enough potatoes and parsnip for a decent amount of mash
baby carrots, steamed
sauted asparagus

Pepper and Cranberry sauce - I used a standard pepper sauce for this, and just added 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries to the sauce.

Verdict? It was quite lovely - and a nice occasional recipe. If you're concerned about your impact on the environment, Kangaroo is certainly a great idea, because they are regarded as a pest in Australia, and are often culled. They apparently also do not create methane, and don't have the same destructive impact as cows and sheep do.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Such interesting things at "Breadtop" today

Breadtop is a franchised bakery in Chinatown. I went past the World Square one today and popped in for a brief look. Here is some of the more adventurous stuff on offer:

Bamboo charcoal bun.

Bacon bun - with fish flakes. yum?

Seaweed Pork floss. An interesting combination, most certainly. On Saturday I am planning a Chinatwon expedition to pick up a duck for Sunday roasting, along with proper dumplings, red bean paste (or possibly just prepared red beans in a can, whatever I can get), so I think I may buy a few of the above things just gor pure taste testing. I love Breadtop! I did break, however, and buy some Meiji black chocolate from the supermarket. I wish my local supermarket sold this stuff!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu Monday - what am I cooking up this week?

So after being relatively away for a week or so (my Internet was shaped - and oh boy! was it slow) I'm back with a fresh set of eyes and plenty of ideas of things to make.

No doubt the tremendous Beef Olives (pictured, above) will make an appearance this week. Stayed tuned for this yummy bit of 70's Kitch
Chorizo and mushroom pasta: I'm always on the lookout for something to do with Chorizo - I love the spiciness!
Lancashire hotpot -Food Critic Andrew is most interested to try this, as I am to try cooking one. I think I may try the Mrs Beeton version to kick start that segment
Honey mustard pork chops (this is what I tried this evening)
Kangaroo Steaks with mash and roasted tomatoes (unless of course I can get my hands on some riberries quickly?)

Sweet things:
Looks like there will definitely be a caramelised apple rice pudding in the near future; definitely check out the link - it looks divine!
Apple and custard muffins - these sound utterly fabulous
I am thinking I am going to have to try

Saturday breakfast:
French toast with caramelised nashi

Stay tuned.....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ice cream tasting today

So I went to an Ice cream tasting today, and did some taste tests of various Cornetto and Drumstick flavours. My oh my were there some great ones. They are obviously thinking about marketing some new concepts and ideas, some (which I won't mention too many details) but they aim to elevate the Cornetto/Drumstick to a whole new level. Am I keen? I don't know. I was talking to Food Critic Andrew about these ideas, and he made an excellent comment - "I eat a Cornetto 'cause I love the taste of Cornettos and so I buy one when I want one". He made an excellent point. I think they should keep their ice creams traditionally flavoured.

They did make me want to make ice cream cakes though! I had an excellent one for my birthday last year - A star shaped cake with mint, chocolate and vanilla. I ate most of it (though, I suspect that is why I am now seeing the dietitican! LOL)

Perhaps I should organise something very special for after my graduation next week. Thoughts?

So, does one really actually need a special occasion for these?

Have a look at these. I think not! yum. I am way too obsessed with desserts, I think! Need to concentrate on the savoury