Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

New city, new job and n20140513-202943.jpgew kitchen… I’m back and a lot has changed since my last post. However some things haven’t and our loveof food, cooking and eating hasn’t. This week is a bit crazy at my new job, long hours, lots of politics and the prospect of working on Saturday. I came home from worktonight and really had major chocolate cravings. I was just going to buy some chocolate but instead thought I would bake.

Over the weekend my brother and I stumbled across a slice recipe that our Mum used to make for afternoon tea when we were young. Now, the slice is called Chinese Chews… I have know idea why and there is certainly nothing Chinese about them. My brother thought his Chinese wife would find the name hilarious. So I decided I would make this randomly named slice.20140513-194233.jpg

It was a very easy recipe and one I don’t think I have ever made. In a large bowl I mixed together 1 cup sugar, 1 cup mixed dried fruit, 1 self-raising flour, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 1 tablespoon cocoa. While I was combining the dry ingredients I had 125 grams of margarine melting.

When the butter was melted I added it to the dry ingredients along with an egg and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Then I just mixed it all together. It is quite a stiff mixture so I got my hands in there to finish combining it all.

20140513-194241.jpgI then pressed the mixture into a slice pan that I had lined with baking paper. You don’t need to grease the tin or line it but I did this so I could easily remove the slice. Once evenly and firmly pressed into the pan I popped it into a moderate oven for 20 minutes.

While it was baking I mixed together the butter icing. Check out my recipe here. When the slice was baked I iced it while it was still hot. The icing melts into the slice and makes it chewy and yummy. The final touch was just to sprinkle some coconut over the top.

I let it cool before tucking in… Organising lunches, dinner and cleaning up while it cooled.20140513-194251.jpg

Then it was ready…. One bite and I was 10 again. Chewy, chocolaty and full of fruit! I behaved and only ate one piece and will take a lot into work tomorrow but it was worth the effort of baking just for that one slice of Chinese Chews….

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20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.
Enjoy!

Mums Apple Pie.jpgSince my unexpected arrival back in Australia 2 weeks ago, I have been bunkering down at my parents’ house.  It has always been a place that I feel at home, get taken care of and can take some time to get my head on straight. I was fortunate to have one of my Apples.jpgclosest friends K and her baby and husband come up the first weekend for Sunday lunch. This was a wonderful distraction and enjoyable afternoon, a great way to get my mind of my own troubles.

I managed to help Mum whip up some food, making a mushroom risotto and some fresh bread. However in my less than stellar state I let Ingredients.jpgMum cook dessert. Mum’s apple pie (that is actually her sister’s husband’s grandmother’s recipe… yes it is one of those recipes) is sweet, delicious and not like the apple pies you get in the US. It has a sweet shortcrust pastry rather than the more savoury kind you get in the US.Pastry.jpg

Firstly put on the apples to stew… Just peel and slice up some granny smith apples and add them to a pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

For the pastry, beat 125 grams of butter and ¾ cup of sugar together until creamy. Add in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla Rolling.jpgand a pinch of salt. Then gradually mix in 2 cups of self-raising flour, ½ cup of plain flour and ½ cup of cornflour. Mix this until everything is combined.

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The rest is simply rolling out the dough for the base and the top. Filling the pie with thecooled apples and then baking.

It bakes in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The great thing is that because the apples are cooked you’re Pie.jpgjust cooking the pastry until it is crispy.

This is now my new go to sweet choice for when I am down… not chocolate or icecream… Mum’s apple pie. Served with a dollop of icecream or fresh cream, it is just the perfect way to end a Sunday lunch or any lunch or dinner or breakfast… my new comfort food. Thankfully though it isn’t hard to make it is just time consuming enough for me not to make it too often… otherwise I could be in big trouble! Delicious, sweet and crispy… give it a try, it is guaranteed to help warm your heart!

Slice of pie.jpg

 

Time to eatBeing the foodie in our office has lead to me bringing in cakes for birthdays. Fortunately we have a staff of 6 so it doesn’t happen too often. Earlier in the year I made a Mum’s Sticky Chocolate cake for everyone which was a huge success. This time around I gave the birthday girl a few choices and she went with the Triple Chocolate Marble Mud Cake… well really, who wouldn’t!?

Step 1

The only problem… I had never made it before! How difficult could it be.

In a small pan I combined 250 grams of chopped, unsalted butter, 2 cups of caster sugar, and 1 cup of hot water. I mixed this until it was all melted and combined. Then I just set this aside to cool for 15 minutes and got on with the rest of the recipe.

Base mixture

While it was cooling I melted 150 grams of white chocolate in a bowl and in another bowl I melted 150 grams of dark chocolate. I used 70% dark so that it wasn’t too sweet. There is so much sugar in this recipe already I didn’t think I need extra in the chocolate. I then set these aside.

Going back to my sugar, butter and water mixture I whisked in 1 cup of plain flour, 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour and a teaspoon of vanilla. I added 2 eggs that I had already lightly beaten and whisked everything together. Now the tricky part… I had to divide the mixture into 2 equal parts, putting them in separate bowls. After a bit of back and forth, I think I got pretty close.

Two mixtures

To the halved mixture I added the melted white chocolate to one and the melted dark chocolate to the other. I just quickly mixed the chocolate into each mixture and the cake was ready to assemble.

Layering

In my large cake tin I spooned a spoonful of the white mixture in one corner and then next to it a spoonful of the dark mixture. It was easy just alternating between the two, layering them on top of eachother, until the mixtures were completely gone.

This went into a preheated 150C degree over for 1 3/4 hours. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, well relatively easy. I then just sat back with a glass of wine and waited for it to cook.

Cream and chocolate - Copy

When I opened the oven I discovered it may not have been as easy as I thought. The middle of the cake had sunk! Oh well, that was what the ganache was for… to fill up the large crater in the cake.

Ganache

I turned it out and let it cool. Of course as it cooled the center dropped more… What could I do? More room ganache is what I say!

When it was cool and ready to coat in ganache, I quickly combined in my double boiler 300 grams of milk chocolate and 3/4 cup of thickened cream. I slowly melted these together over a low simmering pot of water. I stirred this continuously until the chocolate had completely melted and was combined with the cream.

I took it off the heat and set it aside. As I was preparing the cake I realized that the square cake didn’t quite fit in my round Sunken but deliciouscake carrier… being the ideas woman I am, I angled off the corners to make a shape that would fit in the container… Later people in the office commented on how cool it looked – I didn’t tell them it was purely to get it to fit, not make it look pretty.

The ditch

My cake now fit in the container, it was time to ganache it! I poured my ganache onto the cake and filled up the huge crater in the center. I then smoothed it down and around the edges until it was completely covered. It looked great! You couldn’t even tell that the cake looked like it had been hit by a meteor. A few quick decorations with fresh strawberries and I was done!

I held my breath when we cut it in the office, praying that it was actually marbled and that the puddle of ganache wouldn’t run off the cake like a waterfall. Luckily it didn’t!

Iced

The best news is that everyone in the office, including the birthday girl loved it. The cake is moist, dense and incredibly rich (especially the parts in the center with an inch of ganache on top). The cake was an afternoon snack for everyone for the rest of the week. I even managed to sneak J. home a slice. He really liked it, he thinks the texture is like a soft, dense cookie.

For a first attempt at this recipe I think I did well. It wasn’t as great as my mum’s but I rarely make her recipes as well as she does. It was a hit and it was delicious, I couldn’t really ask for more but I think I will need a little more practice to be able to make it as easily and as well as I make my Mum’s Sticky Chocolate.

Close up of marbling

Mango Coconut Panna Cotta.jpgJ. and I like to make bets with each other at different times. Whether it is on the AFL, NFL, the Olympics or who was in a particular movie, it makes for some fun teasing and competitiveness between the two of us which we both enjoy.

Most often the bets will involve payouts of dinners out or dinners made or chores done… I hate to say that I am often on the loosing end of these bets. For example last summer I lost a number in a row and ended up having to change the cats litter box for 2 months straight… not fun.

Ingredients.jpg

J. won a bet again recently that let him decide on a 3 course, homemade dinner and then chose this past weekend to redeem it! The meal he chose was scallops, followed by roast lamb and potato gratin and then panna cotta for dessert. He really didn’t have any preference for how I cooked the scallops or what flavor panna cotta I made, so I got to play a little.

First I chopped up 2 ripe mangoes and puréed them in the blender. The mixture should become Mango.jpgrelatively smooth. I then set this aside. I added 500ml of thickened cream (whipping cream) and 500ml of coconut cream to a saucepan. This went onto medium heat and I added 1/3 cup of caster sugar to this mixture. I kept stirring this until it was completely heated through, (around 3 minutes) and the sugar had melted.For dessert I decided on a Mango Coconut Panna Cotta… nice and light and very summery. The great thing about panna cotta is that I can make it early on in the day and it just sits in the fridge ready to go for dinner. First thing Saturday morning I got to work.

Cream mixture.jpg

In a small bowl I put 2 tablespoons of boiling water and 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder and stirred this until the gelatin had melted. Setting this aside I went back to the cream mixture.

I added the puréed mango to the cream mixture, mixing until it was completely combined. I put this into a jug (passing it through a sieve to make sure I got out any chunky bits of mango). Finally, I added the gelatin mixture to the jug, stirring quickly until it was completely mixed in.

Ready for pouring.jpg

That’s everything done! It was easy. I just then poured the mixture evenly into 6 ramekins and placed them in the fridge. They took around 5 hours to set but they were in there a lot longer just to make sure.

I removed them from the fridge about 20 minutes before we were going to eat them just to soften them a little. I topped each with some slices of fresh white peaches and grated dark chocolate.

Panna Cotta.jpg

They were delicious! J. really enjoyed it – he love both mango and coconut. I was happy with how they turned out. Perfect consistency and texture and then they tasted pretty amazing as well. A perfect summer dessert…

Passionfruit Choc Brownies.jpgOver the weekend we ran out of sweets. We have been trying to cut back on sweets, which means I have curbed my baking a little but we still like to have one small thing after dinner each night as a treat. So on Saturday when we discovered all our treats had been eaten, I know I had to bake.

I gave J. a few things to choose from and he settled on Passionfruit Choc Brownies. Like every normal person we love chocolate and we are both crazy about passionfruit, even though you can’t get fresh ones here in Arizona.

(I am trying to grow my own vine though…)

Luckily I still have some of the passionfruit nectar in a tin left from our last supply run to Australia!

I must apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos… but it is so easy, the photos aren’t really necessary.

Out of the oven.jpg

First up, I preheated the oven to 180C (356F) and greased my square baking tin. I roughly broke up125 grams of 70% dark chocolate and chopped up 125 grams of unsalted butter, putting them into a heatproof bowl. Over a saucepan of simmering water, I melted the butter and chocolate until combined.

Once completely melted I took it off the heat and added 150 grams of light brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is incorporated. To this mixture I added 2 medium eggs and 1 additional egg yolk… (2 whites, 3 yolks). I mixed all of this together before sifting in 40 grams of self-raising flour, 40 grams of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. It is best to use a really high quality cocoa powder for this so you get the best flavor in the brownie.

Ready to cut.jpg

When this was all combined I added 4 tablespoons of passionfruit nectar (including seeds) and mixed that in. I poured the mixture into the

tin and placed it on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.

They smelt delicious when they came out of the oven but we were good and went to the gym, had dinner and then ate a brownie. I cut them up and J and I ate one with a glass of milk.The best way to tell that the brownies are done is to insert a skewer and it comes out with some dense crumbs left on the skewer but no gloopy, wet mixture.

The brownies have a great chocolate flavor with just a hint of the passionfruit. I would probably add more passionfruit nectar next time. However, they are yummy and delicious and not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the dark chocolate.

This was the first time I have made them and I will be definitely making them again… J. really enjoys them too – a nice sweet treat after dinner!

Grilled Qual.jpgJ. and I like to watch a local PBS show called Check Please, Arizona. It is a funny little show that reviews restaurants here in Arizona. We have discovered a few places from watching this show and have also written off quite a few.

A few months back we were watching, looking for places we could possibly take my parents when they came to visit and Rancho Pinot was reviewed. It is a little fancy for our usual tastes but the Wild West décor and some of the menu items caught our eye.

We do occasionally like to try out some of the fancier restaurants so we decided try it out to see if it was the kind of place we would want to take visitors. The restaurant is decorated with a giant cactus skeleton in the middle of the restaurant – who knew they had skeletons. The walls are then decorated with Southwest themed photos, painting and bits and pieces. All very quirky and different.  I thought that it was something different for visitors.

Anyway, to the important stuff… the food.

Scallops.jpg

To start we ordered the small plate of grilled quail with sweet corn polenta, sautéed greens and peach mostarda. This was delicious and we were hoping it would set the tone for the rest of the night.

J. order scallops for his main course. He had seen them on the TV show and they were one of the main reasons we went there… His plate came out with 3 diver scallops that had been mesquite grilled, on a bed of corn risotto with tomato broth and bacon-fennel relish. Doesn’t that just sound amazing!! It was a small serving and I knew it wasn’t going to be enough for him so I had ordered accordingly.

Berkshire Pork.jpg

Though there was nothing wrong with the dish J. wasn’t raving about it and considering this was the main thing he had wanted to try, it was a little disappointing. He was also still well and truly hungry after he had finished it.

Fortunately I had ordered the Berkshire Pork. This was huge and served with creamy polenta, green beans and a roasted tomato. The pork was tender and flavorful, the polenta was tasty. Thankfully there was plenty for J. to finish it off.

Since we were out on the town for the night we ordered desserts. J. wanted to try the Olive oil cake with meyer lemon curd, which was tasty. I had the Shaker Meyer Lemon Tart, which was different from other tarts I had tried, more like a lemon pie, with pastry on the top as well as the Olive Oil Cake.jpgbottom. It was yummy and tangy, as a good lemon tart should be.

I don’t like giving bad reviews, and this isn’t really bad, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food or the service. I would never tell someone not to go here. You will get good food and good service and be in an interesting restaurant. Plus they have a really good wine list.

Unfortunately though for us, it wasn’t memorable and it certainly wasn’t worth the price we paid. The most memorable thing for me all night was the Arizonan wine I had with my meal! As you can probably tell from this entry we weren’t really impressed or disappointed… it was all just fine. Not what you want when you spend $100+ on a meal.

Lemon tart.jpgWhen we are going somewhere nice for a special occasion this won’t be at the top of our list, there are other places that are more memorable and places that we rave about that come before this. They do have seasonal menus which means we might go back some day and try a new menu and could be wowed!

However, this is just our opinion and what we like – maybe you will have a better experience and it will be exactly what you want.

Plus, where else can you get Wild West fine dining!

We’re back!

We haven’t really been anywhere but it seems as though life got in the way of the blogging for the last few months… However just because we were too busy to blog doesn’t mean we were too busy to eat.

We have been eating as hard as always. The last few months have been a combination of travelling, delicious tastes, addictive drink and great cooking home!

So stay tuned for some tales, recipes, photos and FOOD!

We’re happy to be back…

Banana Muffins.jpgJ. and I had a pretty lazy Sunday… we were in the kitchen making ourselves some crepes for breakfast and I noticed that a few of our bananas were looking a little worse for wear… Banana Muffin time!!!

A few years ago my mother discovered (I have no idea where she got them from) a bunch of recipes from the Australian Institute of Sport for low fat (or at least reduced fat) muffins! I love a good muffin and they are so often terribly bad for you so I have loved having this group of recipes. Plus they are really easy recipes to make.

So Sunday was banana muffin time.

In a large bowl I sifted 1½ cups of self-raising flour and 1 cup of wholemeal self-raising flour. If you don’t have wholemeal flour you can just use regular self-rasing for the entire amount. Next I stirred in ¾ cup of brown sugar. This was a little difficult because our brown sugar was really hard and didn’t stir through so well. I figured it didn’t matter so much because it would melt down in the oven.

I made a well in the centre of the dry ingredient and put them aside, set the oven for 350°F and started on the wet ingredients. In a small bowl I melted 2 tablespoons of margarine and then added to it my 2 very ripe bananas and mashed all of this together. I added to this 1 cup of skim milk, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. I mixed this together well and then poured it into the dry ingredients.

Make sure you gently stir the ingredients together – there is no need to beat or whip it together. When it was completely combined I spooned the mixture into my greased muffin pans. I filled each up about 2 thirds of the way. And then into the oven they went for 20 minutes.

When they came out of the oven I let them sit for a few minutes in the pan to cool before tipping them out. We ate some straight away and they were so delicious. The great thing is this recipe makes about 16 muffins so J. and I had them for a snack at work every day this week! Yummy, delicious, and not too bad for you… Gotta love that!

Betel Leaf.jpgFirst let me apologize for my absence. I haven’t been well and have not been up to sitting down and writing when I Watermelon.jpgget home from work. I hope I am back to normal and be posting regularly again from now on.

Back to food!

J. and I still have so much food to write about from our time back in Australia. I thought I would share one of the meals we had at a great Asian restaurant in Melbourne while we were there.

For Christmas we were lucky enough to get a $100 gift card for Red Spice Road, a very cool, very delicious Asian restaurant in one of the gorgeous laneways in Melbourne. For those of you who don’t know Melbourne, it is filled with small laneways that have some of the best food, coffee and nightlife the city has to offer, well really, Australia has to offer. Whenever in Melbourne, time must be taken to wander these laneways and see what has changed, discover new places and visit old favorites.

Oysters.jpgJ. had never been to this restaurant before so we decided to go all out and get the $75 per person tasting menu… Tofu and mushrooms.jpgwhy not when we had the gift card! We mistakenly thought that we needed to pick a few of the items from the huge tasting menu to have, however it turned out that we got enough of everything on the menu for two… Oh dear!

The first trio of dishes were little nibblies or starters. Just a bite of each for us. But those bites were magnificent! First up was Betel Leaf with Chicken, Crab, Coconut, Chilli & Kaffir Lime. I usually find things wrapped in betel leaf to bitter but this was just perfect. The chilli & lime fought against the bitterness and the sweet crab and coconut just tied it all together. The next bite was Watermelon topped with Sticky Pork, Peanut and Prawn Relish. As weird and unusual as this sounds it was probably my favorite thing of the night. I don’t actually know how to describe this accurately but it was a burst of sweet, savory flavor in your mouth. I could have eaten 12 of them but we only got 1 each.

Lamb Ribs.jpgThe last dish in this first trio was an Oyster with Chilli Jam, Lime Juice and Crispy Shallots. Now IBeef salad.jpgam not sure if I have ever expressed the love J. and I have for oysters on the blog before… but we seriously have an obsession with them. I think we would have been happy to eat the oysters and nothing else if we could have had 3 dozen of them! These were the perfect bite, but sadly just one bite each.

A few sips of wine and a little chatter later the next trio of dishes arrived. These would be the appetizers. First was the Beef, Rice Noodle, Herb, Pickled Carrot, Cucumber and Shallot Salad, seriously spicy and delicious. There is something so refreshing about this kind of salad!

Kingfish salad.jpgIn this trio we also had Crispy Tofu with Mushrooms, Wombok, Bamboo, Green Onion and Masterstock Duck curry.jpgand Twice Cooked Lamb Ribs with a Tamarind and Coconut Relish. Both of these were completely amazing. The lamb ribs, well the meat just fell off the bone and then the tofu dish was unbelievably delicious. J. even enjoyed the tofu.

I was getting full, really full by this stage and the main dishes were still to come! I thought they would be small but they were huge and this trio had my favorite dish from this restaurant in it so I had to find room to eat!

The final trio… could we do it??

First was the Raw Kingfish, Green Tomato, Asian Celery, Green Chilli and Coriander Salad, light and perfectly cooked… we managed to squeeze all of this in. J. was a trooper and pushed through the pain. Also in the trio was a Duck Red Curry with Pineapple and Sweet Potato. This was a creamy, spicy curry with just the right hint of sweetness. If I hadn’t already had 7 other dishes I could have dived into this!

Pork Belly Perfection.jpgThe last dish was the dish that I come to Red Spice Road for… Pork Belly with Apple Slaw, Chilli Caramel and Pandan Cream.jpgBlack Vinegar. What do I have to say really… the name says it all. Crispy pork belly with chilli and vinegar – PERFECTION!

We were full… 9 dishes of food… I know it was a tasting menu but those servings were not small… And then there was still the dessert. I didn’t know if we could do it but the waiter promised us it was light and refreshing…Pandan Cream with Puffed Wild Rice, Peanut Praline and Coconut. Well, the waiter was right. It was fresh, light and delicious. The best thing to finish off our feast.

It was a long meal… 3 hours. It was a delicious meal and it was a big meal! We were both so impressed and happy with our dinner. We didn’t really need to eat for a few days after but of course we were on holidays so that didn’t happen.

So if you ever find yourself wandering around Melbourne’s laneways definitely check out Red Spice Road!