Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring bakers, foray into fortunes

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

It is one that must be familiar to most pastry chefs. I learned about how fun tuille are in my introduction to baking and pastry class. The chef showed us how to make little twizzles, spoons, stars and fortune cookies.

I thought it would be fun to try the fortune cookies again. I baked circles of the batter with dots and swizzles of cocoa batter and then folded them over a little note and wrapped them up.

I think this batter was a little more greasy than the tuille batter I'd used in the past, it got the notes really greasy, which wasnt terribly appetizing, but it was fun to see the way the designs were distorted.

I'd love to have got busy with lots of fun and creative designs, but time didnt allow, please visit the other daring bakers for much more ideas and recipes!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bling Cupcakes

This was a real fun little project. Someone asked me to make them some cupcakes with an 'old skool' theme. I'm not really very well versed with that kind of stuff, so I had to ask for some images, and then got to work on some fun little toppers for the cupcakes. The hats were really fun, and then the 'bling' medallions were cool. Yellow and grey fondant covered with a little bit of gold and silver .

The cakes themselves were delicious too, a raspberry chocolate cupcake with a totally addictive chocolate raspberry ganache. These would be a perfect addition to any valentine's day celebration!

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes from Womens weekly cupcakes (Australia)

60g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) water
90g butter, softened
1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup (100g) all purpose flour
2/3 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup (40g) almond meal
100g frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 325 f. Line a muffin pan with 12 cases
Heat the chocolate and water in a pan until melted. Set aside
Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder
Beat the butter and the sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, beating in between.
Add the flour mix and almond meal and mix just until combined, add the chocolate mixture and the raspberries and mix.
Scoop into the cases and bake for about 40 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Whipped Raspberry Chocolate Ganache adapted from Rose Levenbaum's Cake Bible
8 oz whipping cream
2 oz dark chocolate
3 oz milk chocolate
2 oz frozen raspberries
3 oz raspberry jam

Heat the cream until almost boiling, add the chopped chocolate, remove from heat and stir until melted.
Boil the raspberries and jam with a little water for a couple of minutes and put through a sieve.
Stir into the chocolate mixture and chill for around an hour.
When the ganache is chilled, whip until stiff. Pipe onto cupcakes

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mexican Rice Salad

I had some leftover rice to use up, then I realised I had cilantro, peppers, lettuce from my CSA, and some sour cream and mozzarella that needed using up. Mixed up with some black beans this made a delicious and healthy lunchtime salad.

I feel bad for people in Europe and on the East Coast, as we sat in our t-shirts on the patio eating this and it was just glorious, but then we pay the price in sunshine tax!

Mexican Rice Salad
Serves 2 for a hearty meal, or 3 for a lighter meal
1 cup brown rice
1 tin black beans, rinsed
2 peppers, diced finely
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
5 spring onions chopped finely
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small avocado, diced
1 tbsp Penzeys Taco Seasoning
2 oz mozzarella or mild cheese, chopped finely
dollop of sour cream
handful of salad leaves

Combine all the chopped ingredients with the seasoning and serve on a bed of salad with a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life's a beach cupcakes!

After getting back from a lovely holiday in Melbourne I wanted to try out my new cupcake book. It was a friend's birthday, and I know he loves the beach, so some tropical cakes with a beach theme seemed perfect.

These lime-coconut cakes rise to a perfect little dome and retain a nice bit of moisture. I added lime to the frosting for a bit more of a tang.

Life's a beach cupcakes adapted from Womens Weekly Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

Lime Coconut Cakes
250g butter, softened (I'll assume that is salted butter)
2 teaspoons coconut essence
1 tablespoon finely grated lime rind
1 1/2 cups (290g) caster/superfine sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup (160ml) milk
1 1/2 cups (120g) dessicated coconut
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
60g butter, softened
160g cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons coconut essence
3 cups (480g) icing/confectioners sugar
Optional: juice of 1 lime

Decorations-fondant flowers/trees, crushed graham crackers for sand

Prepare 2 muffin tins with 24 cupcake cases. Preheat oven to 350f
Beat butter, coconut essence, lime rind, and sugar until fluffy
Add eggs, one at a time and beat
Meanwhile, sift flour and baking sugar
Add the coconut, stir in, then half the flour mixture, stirring gently until just combined. Add the milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix gently just until combined.

Scoop the mixture into the cupcake cases until about a third full. Bake for 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean

Frosting: Beat together the butter, cream cheese and coconut essence. Add icing sugar and mix slowly until incorporated, then beat. Add lime juice, if desired and beat.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obamaberries, Yes we can!!

In honor of our new president I made some red velvet cupcakes with a little cream cheese frosting and topped them with horribly unseasonal blueberries from Chile.
As always, I used the red velvet cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I used the 'no taste' color and its a lot less vivid than the other stuff. I've grown to love that really vivid scarlet of the red velvet cakes, so it wasnt quite as bright as I'd like.

Lets hope this is the start of a new era. At least our president will be able to pronounce nuclear.

Also, please congratulate me for my American spelling, it made me gag, but since I've got my green card and I went through the US citizen line on the way back from Australia, I'd better try and act a bit like I'm going to be here a while. Certainly the first time an agent has said to me 'welcome back'!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Highlights of Melbourne

I had a wonderful time in Melbourne, its a real foodies paradise.

I spent the first few days in Mentone, a suburb just outside of the city, then we made our way along the Mornington Penisula, first to Mornington, then along to Rosebud.

Melbourne is great for the fact that a lot of the food is just awesome, but not fussy. Its very relaxed, and people dont tip much, which is sometimes reflected in the service, although I actually appreciate the more honest approach. I think I'd say the best thing is the coffee, which is absolutely outstanding. My pick was the flat white, which I guess is a latte.

Here's my adorable niece, Poppy, choosing from the menu at the Portsea Pub. She seemed to really love perusing the menus, then bashing them on the table. Shame she's not actually eating any real food yet!!

One of the most amazing experiences was our trip to French Island on the ferry. A far out amazing place. We enjoyed a delicious cheese sandwich on freshly made bread, with a pot of tea strong enough to stand a spoon in.

We also had a most delicious cream tea on a farm, with a trip to see the Koalas included. I'm glad they didnt really have safety inspections on this island as it was kind of scary in the 'tea rooms' but we were really glad we tried the delicious scones with home-made jam and cream. They were served with an iced coffee which cooled us down well.

Another fantastic foody adventure was had at heronswood, near Dromada. A spectacular garden to look around, complete with veggie gardens, and test gardens, finished off nicely with my best meal. The produce was all local, some of it even from the gardens. We polished off a delicious plate of ridge estate olives, some lovely local wine from Underground, then I enjoyed an heirloom tomato salad with basil sorbet. So refreshing! My brother had a duck salad with beets and mum had a delicious caramelized onion tart with cheese.

The highlight was probably dessert though. We had a truly intriguing pavlova, made with pink peppercorns, lemon curd, strawberries and cream. Very aussie!

Mum and I had a fun adventure in the dandegongs, hiking up 1000 steps, then getting very hungry and feeling the need for a 'pie in the sky'. The meat pies were supposedly amazing, my pastie with veggies was a bit plain, but the chips were totally worth it!

Shame I didnt take any pictures of our other adventures. Mum and I had a wonderful dinner at the Garlic Kiss, in Mornington. They had my favourite cheese, halloumi, grilled with rocket pesto and asparagus. mmmm!

We also found sour cherries at a little farm which I cooked in a pot with pork chops, then made a crumble with the rest.

I had a wonderful lunch with mum at Box Stallion Winery, and made away with a delicious rose and a spicy shiraz.

We also enjoyed two fantastic breakfasts at Ricketts Point in Beaumaris, a breezy hour's walk from my brother's house in Mentone. Thankfully it didnt rain on the baby, otherwise we'd be in terrible trouble!!

With Poppy by our side most of the time, I got to do my fair share of cooking, I had a go at a trifle, which went down very well with the family, I also tried panettone french toast, mmm. Our new year's eve supper was pretty good, I scraped together a nice risotto with smoked trout and shrimps. I also managed to turn a fajita kit into some tasty roasted veggies and tofu enchilladas! My family are fantastic as they always seem to love everything I cook!! I hope we get to hang out again sometime, its kind of hard being on three different continents.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy New Year!

I've been a bit busy with my little niece in Melbourne, Australia, but I'm back and ready for more blogging and food!

Melbourne is a foodie's paradise, especially the Mornington Peninsula where we stayed for most of my trip, so I've got lots to say.