Sunday, December 1, 2013

Red Wine and Chocolate Beef Stew

I decided to try something different with my stew and so I added chocolate!  Chocolate in savoury dishes seems to be the 'in' thing to do with cooking.  At first I thought that this was all a chefy gimmick and struggled to connect how this delicious sweet can enhance a savoury dish.  But at the same time this combination fascinated me.  I began to think more about this combination and remembered the Mexican mole sauce which too contains chocolate but somehow (when executed correctly) is the perfectly balanced savoury sauce.  

The key when using chocolate in savoury seems to be how it is balanced within the rest of the dish.  The chef of London's Bocca di Lupo and Gelupo, Jacob Kenedy, explains it perfectly "together with acid flavours, such as vinegar or tomato, or hot or aromatic spices, (chocolate) can be revelatory.  Too many sweet notes and it is as if someone has melted a Mars bar over your main course".  So with that, I present you with the recipe from my first attempt at using chocolate in a savoury dish.

So dear readers, what strange and wonderful sweet ingredients do you enjoy in your savoury meals? And have you ever tried using chocolate in a savoury dish?

Red Wine and Chocolate Beef Stew
- 1.5kg beef, in large chunks (I used oyster blade, but any secondary cut will work fine)
- 2 brown onions, sliced
- 2-3 sticks of celery, sliced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 10 shallots, peeled
- 250ml red wine
- 60ml red wine vinegar
- 1L good quality beef stock
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 generous handfuls of sultanas
- salt
- pepper
- 50g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate)
- 1-2 tbsp brown sugar
- parsley to serve

1.  Heat a large frying pan with a small amount of olive oil on high heat.  Add a small batches of the beef and brown.  Remove the beef and add to a large saucepan.   Continue until all the beef is browned.
2.  Reduce the heat to medium-high heat and brown the sliced onions.  Add the celery, carrot and garlic.  Fry for 5 minutes and add to the saucepan with the meat.
3.  Fry the shallots (whole) till golden brown, add to the beef saucepan.
4.  On high heat, add red wine and the vinegar and bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes (this step gets rid of the alcohol content in the wine which makes the sauce less piquant later on).  Add this to the beef saucepan
5.  Add to the saucepan the stock, cinnamon quill, nutmeg, thyme, bay leaves, sultanas, salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil and reduce to a very low heat simmer with the lid on.  Simmer for 2.5-3 hours.
6.  Melt the chocolate gently in the microwave or over a double boiler.  Add a tablespoon of the cooking liquid and mix well.  Add another few more tablespoons of liquid and then add the chocolate to the stew.  Boil for another 30 minutes.
7.  Remove the thyme sprigs, bay leaves and cinnamon quill and discard.  Remove the beef and shallots and cover and put aside.  Use a Bamix to whiz up the sauce.  Add the brown sugar.  Boil the sauce on a high rolling boil to reduce it to approximately half.  Taste and adjust seasoning if required (it also may need a bit more vinegar or sugar depending on the stock that was used).
8.  Return the meat and shallots and cook for another 30 minutes (optional - this makes the sauce richer but if you are short for time, this step can be skipped).

9.  Serve on celeriac puree with parsley for garnish.  Enjoy :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lamb Meatballs with Figs, Cranberries and Yoghurt

Uni exams have finally concluded for 2013 so I can finally indulge in using my cookbooks.  It so happens that since finishing exams the weather has been consistent thunderstorms and so a perfect winter warmer dish (although it is summer here on the Gold Coast) was necessary.  So dear readers, what are your favourite winter warmer dishes?

These lamb meatballs are the perfect mix of sweet and sour, balanced with a dollop of yoghurt.  This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's, 'Jerusalem'.

I am lucky enough to have my wonderful sister visiting me, who took the photo below (find more of her excellent work here and here)

Lamb Meatballs with Figs, Cranberries and Yoghurt
Serves 6, makes around 35 meatballs

- 750g minced lamb
- 2 onions
- handful of fresh mint, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground allspice
- 4 tbsp dried cranberries
- 1 egg
- 300g shallots, peeled
- olive oil, for frying
- 200ml white wine
- 500ml chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-6 thyme sprigs
- 2 tsp sugar
- 150-200g dried figs
- salt
- black pepper
- greek yoghurt to serve

1. Mince the onions in a food processor till very finely chopped.  Add to mixing bowl along with the lamb, mint, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, cranberries, egg, salt and pepper.  Mix very well.
2.  Roll into small balls (about the size of golf balls).
3.  Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a saucepan which has a tight-fitting lid and place a few meatballs in at a time.  Brown them on all surfaces and then remove from the pot and set aside.  Continue this with the remaining meatballs.
4.  Add shallots to the pot and brown.
5.  Add the wine, stock, bay leaves, thyme and sugar and bring to a gentle boil.  Add the figs and the meatballs.  Close the pot and reduce the heat to very low and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
6.  Remove the lid and allow the sauce to thicken on the low heat for another hour.  Taste and season as required.
7.  Serve with fluffy couscous and a good dollop of greek yoghurt.  Enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Creamy Tuna and Mushroom Pasta Sauce

A friend of mine asked me for a dinner dish which is fast, cheap, tasty and doesn't require cooking skills - essentially a perfect meal for a busy, hungry uni student.  This recipe ticks all the boxes and is one of my favourite pasta sauces.

Creamy Tuna and Mushroom Pasta Sauce (Serves 4)

- 1 medium brown onion, diced
- 1 bag of button mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 1 large can of tuna (400g), drained
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 250ml light cream
- 1/2 bunch of continental parsley leaves, chopped
- salt
- white pepper
- olive oil for frying
- pasta - any pasta works with this sauce but I prefer fettucini

1.  Bring large pot of water to the boil for the pasta.  Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook the pasta per packet instructions.
2.  Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat, add olive oil and onions.  Saute the onions until translucent.
3.  Add mushrooms to the pan with some salt (the salt helps the mushrooms release their juices quicker).  Cook for around 5 minutes.
4.  Add tuna, tomato paste, cream and pepper.  Mix well and let cook until hot.  Take off heat and add the parsley.
5.  Serve the sauce over the pasta.  Enjoy :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Braised Beef Cheek with Mushrooms

Winter might be over here in Australia, but that doesn't mean slow braised dishes are still not able to be enjoyed.  As a university student with days when clinic runs till 7pm, my slow cooker is one of my favourite kitchen appliances - it allows me to come home from an evening at uni to a delicious smelling apartment and a hot cooked meal.   So dear readers, I would love to know, what is your favourite smell to come home to after a long day at uni or work?

Some tips for braising or slow cooking:
 - try to use larger pieces of meat (this allows the juices to stay in the meat and hence make it more tender)
- always brown the meat on a hot pan prior to placing it in the slow cooker
- once the meat is tender, remove it from the slow cooker and reduce the sauce (as the slow cooker, cooks at a low temperature, very little steam is produced resulting in hardly any liquid being reduced during the cooking process)

Braised Beef Cheek with Mushrooms (Serves 4)

- 4 beef cheeks
- 2-3 tablespoons flour
- grapeseed oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 medium brown onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 fist of garlic, peeled
- 400ml red wine
- 500ml beef stock
- 3 tbsp Marsala (or sherry)
- 6 juniper berries
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- salt
- pepper
- bag of button mushrooms, halved or quartered
- butter

1. Place a large saucepan on high heat with some grapeseed oil.  Lightly coat the beef cheeks in the flour.  Brown the beef on the saucepan for around 2 minutes on each side.  Take the beef off the pan and place into slow cooker.
2. On the same pan saute the onions, carrots and garlic over medium heat for around 5-10 minutes (or until the onions have become translucent and are beginning to become golden).
3.  Add the wine.  Cook for 2-3minutes.  Transfer it to the slow cooker.
4.  Add to the slow cooker the stock, Marsala, juniper berries, bay leaves, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Cook in slow cooker for 4-6 hours on low heat.
5.  After 1-2 hours of cooking, add the mushrooms.
6.  After 4-6 hours have elapsed, removed the mushrooms and beef and cover with foil to keep warm.  Removed the juniper berries and bay leaves and discard.  Whiz up the sauce with a Bamix and transfer it to a saucepan.
7.  Boil the sauce on high heat on a rolling boil until it has reduced to a thick luscious sauce.  Taste and add seasoning as required.  Add a small knob of butter.
8.  Return the meat, mushrooms and sauce to the slow cooker and keep on warm until ready to serve.  Serve with Heston Blumenthal's potato mash (recipe can be found here).  Enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013


After a long break from blogging (but not from cooking), I have decided to once again use my blog to record recipes, write reviews and hopefully inspire you, my dear readers.

The other day, while out grocery shopping, I noticed a one kilo bag of baby beetroots for $1!  As a university student, with almost no disposable income, a bargain like this is almost impossible to refuse.  One kilogram of beetroots - what was I going to do with them?!  After much thought, I decided to make a beetroot and goat cheese risotto and a Russian salad - Vinaigrette.    So dear readers, I would like to know, what you love to cook with beetroots?

Beetroot and Goat Cheese Risotto (Serves 4-5)

- 300 grams of baby beetroots
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/3 cup white wine
- vegetable stock cube (I used Massel)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt
- white pepper
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
- 30 grams butter
- soft goat cheese to serve

1.  Place baby beetroots into a saucepan of cold water (approximately 1.5-2L of water).  Bring to the boil and simmer for 40mins or until the beetroots are just tender.  Take them off the heat. (Do NOT discard the cooking water).   When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel the beetroots (the hotter they are, the easier it is to peel).  The skin should slide off easily in your hands.  Discard the peel.
2.  Place the peeled beetroots into a food processor with the balsamic vinegar.  Pulse until fine.
3.  Bring the beetroot water back to boil and add the vegetable stock cube and stir.  Once the stock has dissolved, take off the heat and cover.
4.  In a large pan on medium heat, saute the onions on the olive oil until translucent (approx. 5 mins)
5.  Add the arborio rice and gently stir to coat the rice in the oil (2-3mins).
6. Add the white wine and stir until the wine has almost completely evaporated.
7.  Add a laddle of the beetroot/stock water to the pan, gently stirring the rice until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
8.  Repeat step 7 for around 20 minutes.  (If you run out of stock, and the rice is not completely cooked, add a laddle of boiling water instead).
9.  Once the rice is al dente, add the butter, beetroot, parmesan, salt and pepper.  Take off the heat once all the ingredients have been well mixed together.
10.  Serve with crumbled goat cheese on top

* * *

Vinegrette Salad
- 250 grams baby beetroots
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1/2 white salad onion
- 4-5 large pickled cucumbers
- 3-4 tbsp sauerkraut
- 1 can of garden peas (200g), liquid discarded and peas rinsed well
- 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt
- pepper

1.  Place baby beetroots into a saucepan of cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 40mins or until the beetroots are tender.  When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel the beetroots (the hotter they are, the easier it is to peel).  The skin should slide off easily in your hands. 
2.  Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, place whole potatoes and carrot into cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until cooked.  Like with the beets, peel the potatoes when they are cool enough to handle.
3.  Finely dice the onion.  Add to salad bowl.
4.  Dice beetroot, carrot, potatoes and pickled cucumbers and add to the salad bowl.
5.  Add the sauerkraut, garden peas, mayonnaise, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well and taste for seasoning. 
Note: this salad tastes better the next day, once the flavours have been able to develop.  If you don't like mayonnaise, it can be substituted with extra olive oil and white wine vinegar.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Baked Whole Trout

When it comes to cooking fish, I have found many people prefer cooking with fillets than whole fish.   Cooking whole fish should not be a daunting task so here is a simple recipe to cooking whole trout.  It's a great fish to cook with as it is inexpensive and a relatively small fish and therefore perfect for solo dinners.

Baked Whole Trout

 - 1 whole trout, scaled and gutted
 - half a lemon
 - 50g unsalted butter (good quality)
 - half a bunch of dill
 - half a bunch of parsley 
 - half a bunch of corriander
 - 2-3 garlic cloves
 - salt
 - pepper

1.  Preheat conventional oven to 180°C.  Lay out three large pieces of aluminium foil (large enough to wrap around the fish).
2.  Slice lemon and garlic thinly.
3.  Wash fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Make 3 incisions, evenly spaced, into one side of the fish
4. Salt the cavity of the fish and rub it into the flesh
5.  On the aluminium foil, lay down half the lemon slices and garlic slices.  Place the fish on top.  Add all the herbs into the cavity.  Stuff butter into the incisions made on the fish.  If there is any remaining butter place it around the fish.  Add the remaining lemon and garlic on top and sprinkle cracked pepper over.
6.  Wrap the fish very tightly in the aluminium foil.  You don't want any steam or liquid flowing out of the foil so ensure it is closed well.
7.  Place in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Taste Of Meesh's

Tuesday night, Nick and I went to a new restaurant, called Meesh's Restaurant, for 'A Taste Of Meesh's' cocktail party.  The event was hosted to introduce the new Autumn menu.  Meesh's restaurant is located on the Burleigh Heads beachfront and has a wonderful view overlooking the beach with the high-rise buildings of Surfers Paradise lit up in the distance.

On arrival we were greeted with glasses of either shiraz, semillon sauvignon blanc, rosé or a pomegranate champagne.  Throughout the night I tasted the different wines except for the rosé and was impressed with the quality.  It's a good sign when the wine is such good quality at a function.  Nick had a glass of Hef, a beer from the Burleigh Beer Company and enjoyed it immensely.  I recommend trying this beer if you can get your hand on it - it's so delicious!

A large table draped in grapes, figs, logans and cheeses from the Hunter Valley Cheese Company filled the room and attracted the guests.  The fruit was lovely and fresh and accompanied the high quality cheeses perfectly.

Soon after arriving, canapes started circulating the restaurant.  The first canape of the night was a chicken and sweet corn soup finished with a piece of pop corn.  Such a lovely flavoured, refreshing soup made even better with the texture of the pop corn - a perfect starter.

A piece of rare steak in a rich jus, followed, which fell apart instantly in my mouth.  An array of plates full of canapes including caramelised onion, blue cheese and fig tart, smoked salmon and goat cheese toasts, chicken salad with asparagus mini tarts and skewered scampi, enticed the guests.

Later in the night I was served the most magnificent won tons filled with duck, ginger and spring onion with a plum sauce.  The won tons were wonderful and crispy and the filling was divine - just thinking of these is making my mouth water!

Coming out of the kitchen were shot glasses filled with a dark liquid with a large amount of what appeared to be thick steam flowing from them.  It looked like something that belonged in a science laboratory rather than in a restaurant!  It was soon explained the contents of the glasses - duck consomme with dry ice.  I was sketchy at first to try a consomme individual from a meal but as soon as I tasted it, it became clear why it was served in this way.  It was rich, full of duck flavour, seasoned perfectly and finished off with chives.  It was probably my favourite dish of the evening and I recommend it very highly.

The canapes finished with a small chocolate tart filled with chocolate ganache.  The wonderful, crunchy chocolate pastry harmonised with the smooth textured, rich chocolate ganache.  A few other desserts were served, however I didn't get the chance to try them.

The food was of very high standard prepared with  quality ingredients.  The food showed off the chefs high level of food knowledge and skill.   Live music played throughout the evening, adding to the ambience of the night.  I will definitely be going back here and recommend it highly to those visiting or living on the Gold Coast.

These photos were taken by Doris Pridmore from Eloquence Photography (

Meesh's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Katletki - Mums Chicken Patties

This is mums recipe for Russian chicken patties called Katletki.  Smelling katletki cooking, reminds me of home and takes me back to the days I would come home from school and be so excited for mums dinner. This is my ultimate comfort food!!


 - 500 grams good quality chicken mince
 - 4 eggs
 - 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
 - 1 onion
 - 2 cloves of garlic
 - salt
 - pepper
 - paprika
 - olive oil for frying

1.  Grate the onion into a large bowl.  Mince the garlic and add to the bowl.
2.  Add the chicken mince, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and paprika to the bowl and mix well.
3.  Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to evenly cover the pan.  Once the frying pan is hot, add tablespoons of the mixture to the pan.  Let the patties brown then flip them over.  Bring the heat down to low and once the patties are brown on both sides add 1-2 tablespoons of water and cover.  Let them cook for about 5 minutes.  Take off the lid and allow them to fry for another few minutes on either side.  Remove from pan.
4.  Repeat this process until all the mixture is used.
5.  Serve with pasta, rice, potato, salad or bread.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

The other day Nick was commenting on how much he misses The Little Cupcakes shop in Melbourne.  Since it's holiday time and I have plenty of time to spend on cooking, I decided to surprise him with some of his favourite flavoured cupcakes- Red Velvet. 

 Fun fact:  red velvet cupcakes originally were not coloured with food dye but were red due to the unprocessed cocoa reacting with the buttermilk making a rich deep browny red colour.  Nowadays it is increasingly difficult to find unprocessed cocoa so food dye is the way to go.  

Tip:  use a hand electric beater for majority of the method - this helps make the cupcakes fluffier.

This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

 - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- 1 bottle of red food dye (approx. 3 teaspoons)
 - 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
 - 1 1/2 cup sugar
 - 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder, sifted
 - 2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
 - 1 teaspoon salt
 - 2 eggs, at room temperature
 - 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
 - 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
 - 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
 - 1 teaspoon white vinegar
 - 120 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
 - 180 grams light cream cheese (preferably block rather than spreadable), at room temperature
 - 2 cups icing sugar (do not use icing mixture - it is not the same thing!)

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees.  Place cupcake liners into the muffin tins
  2. In a small bowl mix together the cocoa and red food dye - ensure there are no lumps
  3. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy and light.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Add cocoa paste and vanilla essence, beat well.
  6. Add baking powder, salt and 1/3 of the flour.  Beat well
  7. Add half of the buttermilk.  Beat
  8. Add 1/3 of flour.  Beat
  9. Add the rest of the buttermilk.  Beat
  10. Add the rest of the flour.  Beat
  11. In a separate bowl add vinegar and baking soda (don't worry if it fizzes - this is normal).  Mix this into the cupcakes batter.
  12. Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full.  Place in oven for around 20 minutes.  Check them by placing a skewer into one of the centre muffins and checking if it comes out clean.    Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack
  13. For the icing - beat together the butter until creamy and light.  Add the cream cheese and continue beating until fluffy.
  14. Add the icing sugar a cup at a time and beat until the icing mixture if very fluffy.  
  15. Once the cupcakes are cooled, pipe the icing onto them.  Enjoy :D
Note that this icing must be refrigerated.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

Its been a long time since I've posted but I'm back with lots of exciting and new recipes to share :).  Today I was flicking through The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia for some inspiration for dinner and found a mouthwatering photo of ricotta and spinach gnocchi.  My first attempt at gnocchi (recipe can be found here) was a long, tiresome process.  The recipe for the ricotta gnocchi is so simple that I decided to follow it (with minimal tweaking of ingredients and amounts).  This is a great recipe for dinner parties as the gnocchi can be cooked ahead of time and it looks very impressive.

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi 
(adapted from The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia by C. Capalbo et al.)

 - 6 garlic cloves
 - 1/2 bunch of basil
 - 1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley
 - 200-250 grams baby spinach leaves
 - 270 grams fresh ricotta
 - 1 egg yolk
 - 1/3 cup grated parmesan
 - 2/3 cup plain flour
 - pinch of salt
 - cracked pepper

 - 30 grams butter
 - 10-15 leaves of fresh sage


  1. Bring a small amount of water to the boil.  Add garlic cloves and boil for 4-5 minutes.  Run them under cold water to cool them.  Pop the garlic out of their skins and using a garlic crusher, crush them into a small bowl.
  2. Place washed spinach into a small saucepan (don't add any water as the water from washing the spinach should be enough to wilt the spinach).  Allow to wilt on a low heat.  Once the spinach has wilted, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, wash and finely chop the basil and parsley.  Add to the garlic.
  4. Squeeze out all the water from the wilted spinach.  Chop finely.  Add to garlic and herb mixture
  5. In a separate bowl, add the ricotta and egg yolk.  Mix well.
  6. Add the herbs and garlic mixture to the ricotta.  Mix well.
  7. Add parmesan, flour, salt (salt to taste - if the parmesan you are using is very salty, leave out the salt) and pepper.  Gently mix, ensuring all the ingredients are combined
  8. Place the mixture in the fridge for an hour (or more).  This makes the mixture much easier to work with.
  9. Using floured hands, roll small balls of the mixture.  (I made them about the size of walnuts but its up to you how big you want them)
  10. Bring a large saucepan to the boil.  Salt and carefully add the gnocchi.  (I recommend doing small amounts at a time so they don't stick to one another).  They are ready once they begin to float.
  11. Remove them from the water.  (If you are serving this dish later, place the gnocchi in the fridge.  Just before you serve them - warm them up in microwave prior to continuing the next steps)
  12. Melt butter on medium-high heat on a large frying pan.  Once the butter has all melted, add the sage.  Let the sage cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the gnocchi.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, turning every few minutes.  Serve with the sage and butter from the pan and sprinkled with parmesan.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry season came early to Queensland this year so I decided to make my favourite strawberry dessert - mousse.  I don't like using gelatine if possible so this mousse is not as thick as normal however the taste and texture is lovely.  If you prefer a more solid mousse add a few gelatine sheets to the strawberry puree.

Strawberry Mousse

 - 500g strawberries
 - 1/2 lemon-juice
 - 1/2 cup caster sugar
 - 1/2 cup cream
 - 4 egg whites
 - pinch of salt

1. Wash and hull the strawberries and place in a food processor with the caster sugar and lemon juice.  Pulse till strawberries are completely pureed.  Place the strawberry puree into a large bowl
2.  Using a electric beater to whisk the cream until it is very thick.  Slowly fold the cream into the strawberry puree.
3.  In a clean bowl (be sure the bowl and whisk is completely clean and the egg whites have no egg yolks in them) add egg whites and beat until they begin to thicken.  Add a pinch of salt and continue to whip until very stiff peaks form.
4.  Fold half the egg whites into the strawberry mixture.
5.  Gently pour the strawberry mixture into the bowl with half the beaten egg whites and fold very gently.
6.  Place in container and place in the fridge for 2-4 hours before serving.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Panforte-Traditional Tuscan Cake

At the beginning of the year, Nick and I travelled to Sienna and bought some of the most magnificent panforte I have ever eaten!  It is so hard to find good panforte in Australia so I decided to try to make my own as a gift for dad (as panforte is his favourite dessert).  This recipe is adapted from 'Complete Italian Food', written by one of my favourite Italian chefs, Antonio Carluccio.  This cake will last a very long time but be warned - its very more-ish!

 - 250g skinned, blanched whole almonds
 - 150g walnuts
 - 50g pecan nuts
 - 55g candied citrus peel
 - 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 - 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
 - 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 - 200g plain flour
 - 200g icing sugar
 - 200g honey
 - 1tablespoon water
 - 2-3 sheets of rice paper (enough to line the base of the tray)
 - 2 tablespoons fine vanilla sugar

1.   Preheat the oven to 160°C
2.  Toast the almonds on a frying pan on medium heat (be careful not to burn the nuts).  Slice the candied citrus peel into thin strips.
3.  In a bowl, add the toasted almonds, candied citrus peel, walnuts, pecans, cinnamon, coriander seeds, nutmeg and flour and mix.
4.  Place icing sugar, honey and water in a pot over low heat until dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and allow the mixture to begin to bubble.  Once bubbling use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until a dense, pale brown liquid is formed
5.  Pour the hot caramel over the nut mixture and mix until all the nuts are covered by the caramel.
6.  Line a shallow cake tin (I used a 21cm round tin) with rice paper. Add the mixture and level the top.
7.  Place in the middle of the oven for 30mins.
8.  Allow the panforte to cool in the tin.  Dust with vanilla sugar.
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yoghurt, Orange and Pistachio Cake

This cake is perfect as a tea cake.  I felt like making a cake that is not too sweet and had a middle eastern style and therefore I made it using semolina.

Yoghurt, Orange and Pistachio Cake

-       100g whole pistachios
-       75g self raising flour
-       1 ¼ cups fine semolina
-       1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
-       ¼ cup white sugar
-       ¾ cup plain yoghurt
-       3 eggs
-       2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-       zest of 1 small orange
-       ½ cup orange juice
-       1 cup water
-       1 cup white sugar
-       orange peel of 2 oranges

1.     Preheat oven to 180°C.  In a large bowl, add pistachios and sift flour, semolina, bicarbonate soda and sugar.  Mix.
2.     In a separate bowl add yoghurt, eggs and oil.  Beat for 3-5 minutes.
3.     Add orange zest and orange juice to the egg mixture and mix
4.     While stirring the flour mixture, slowly add the yoghurt mixture until combined.  Let it rest for 5 minutes.
5.     Butter the cake tin.  Pour in cake mixture. Place in oven for 30 minutes.
6.     Cover the cake with foil and place in oven for another 15 minutes.
7.     Whilst the cake is baking julienne the orange peel.  Add the sugar and water to a pot.  Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat.  Add the orange peel and cook for 20 minutes.
8.     Remove cake from tin.  Poke holes in the top of the cake.  Slowly drizzle the syrup over the top of the cake.  (Do this very slowly to allow the cake to absorb the syrup).
9.     Decorate with the candied orange peel.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Breakfast Smoothie

This is just one way you can make a breakfast smoothie, play around with it depending on what ingredients you have on hand - as long as it includes fruit, yoghurt and rolled oats.

Breakfast Smoothie

¾ cup mixed berries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon rolled oats
1 tablespoon LSA (ground linseed, sunflower and almond)
1 teaspoon sunflower kernels
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon raw sugar or honey
½ cup plain yoghurt
¾ cup milk/ soy milk

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse for 3 minutes.

Apple, Cinnamon and Yoghurt Cake

A perfect winter cake which is light and moist and simple to make.  You can substitute the apple with pear.

Apple, Cinnamon and Yoghurt Cake
-       60g butter (at room temperature)
-       300g plain flour
-       230g brown sugar
-       50g white sugar
-       2 eggs
-       1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
-       pinch of salt
-       1 teaspoon bicarb soda
-       1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-       1 cup plain yoghurt
-       2 Granny Smith apples

1.  Preheat oven to 180°C
2.  Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence with an electric hand beater until creamy.
3.  Add cinnamon and salt and mix with wooden spoon.
4.  Sift in flour and bicarb soda and mix with a wooden spoon.
5.  Add yoghurt and mix till homogenous mixture forms.
6.  Peel apple and cut into 1cm cubes and add to the cake batter and mix OR slice apples into thin slices and place on top of the batter once it is in the tin. 
7.  Butter individual ramekins or a large cake tin.  Add cake batter.  Sprinkle the top with a thin layer of white sugar and cinnamon.  Place into oven on lower shelf.  The cooking time will vary depending on the container used.  Individual ramekins will cook in about 40 minutes and a large cake tin should take about 60 minutes.  However check, using a skewer whether the cake is fully cooked inside.
8.  Serve warm with fresh cream :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Middle Eastern Lamb and Yoghurt Stuffed Zucchini

Middle Eastern Lamb and Yoghurt Stuffed Zucchini or Eggplant

-       500g lamb mince
-       3 teaspoon ground allspice
-       2 teaspoon cinnamon
-       4 teaspoons dried mint
-       salt
-       pepper
-       6 small zucchinis or 2 eggplants
-       2 onions, diced finely
-       2 cloves garlic, crushed
-       4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
-       2-3 tablespoons pine nuts
-       plain yoghurt, to serve
-       Fresh mint leaves, to serve

1.       Heat a pan on medium-high heat with a little olive oil.  Add the lamb, allspice, cinnamon, mint, salt and pepper.  Break up the lamb to avoid any clumps.  Fry until the lamb is just browned.

2.     Take the lamb off the heat and place in a sieve.

3.      Sauté the onion and garlic until they are translucent and just beginning to brown.

4.       Place the lamb in a bowl and add the fried onions.

5.      Brown the pine nuts in the pan.  Add to the lamb mixture

6.      Add the yoghurt to the lamb and mix

7.      If using zucchini - cut the ends off the zucchini and slice lengthways in half.  Using a teaspoon, remove the pulp of the zucchini.Steam the zucchini skins for 15-20 minutes
If using eggplant - cut the end off and grill for 20 minutes under hot grill, turning every 5 minutes.  Cut the eggplants in half and remove half of the flesh - you can add this flesh to the lamb mixture or discard.

8.     Arrange zucchinis/ eggplants on a serving dish, fill with lamb mixture.  Place under hot grill for 5 minutes.  Drizzle with a generous amount of plain yoghurt and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yoghurt, Feta and Herb Dip

A refreshing, yummy and very easy dip.  (As it's exam time I won't be able to write too much before the recipes I post)

Yoghurt, Feta and Herb Dip
 - 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
 - 200grams feta (preferably low salt)
 - 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
 - 1/3 cup of fresh herbs (continental parsley, coriander and dill)

1.  Place butter, feta and herbs into a blender.  Pulse until smooth consistency forms.
2.  Transfer the mixture into a bowl.  Add yoghurt and stir.
      Serve with your favourite vegetables or biscuits.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake

A delicious moist cake, perfect for winter.

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake
 - 60g butter (at room temperature)
 - 300g plain flour
 - 350g brown sugar
 - 2 eggs
 - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
 - pinch of salt
 - 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
 - 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 - zest of 1 lemon
 - 1 cup creme fraiche/sour cream (or 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup cream)
 - 3-4 sticks of rhubarb

1.  Preheat oven to 180°C
2.  Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence with an electric hand beater until creamy.
3.  Add cinnamon and salt and mix with wooden spoon.
4.  Sift in flour and bicarb soda and mix with a wooden spoon.
5.  Add creme fraiche (or substitute) and lemon zest and mix till homogenous mixture.
6.  Wash and cut rhubarb into small pieces and add to the cake batter and mix.
7.  Butter individual ramekins or a large cake tin.  Add cake batter.  Sprinkle the top with a layer of white sugar and cinnamon.  Place into oven on lower shelf.  The cooking time will vary depending on the container used.  Individual ramekins will cook in about 40 minutes and a large cake tin should take about 70 minutes.  However check, using a skewer whether the cake is fully cooked inside.
8.  Serve warm with fresh cream :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sweet Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Cinnamon Scented Cous-Cous

I absolutely love Moroccan food and though I have eaten it a fair few times I have never attempted making a Moroccan dish.  I decided not to look at traditional recipes for ideas of what ingredients to use and how to cook the lamb but rather go with the flavours I know so well from eating the food.  So this recipe is not traditional however it makes a delicious tagine that does have all the typical Moroccan flavours.

Sweet Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Cinnamon Scented Cous-Cous
 - 850 g lamb shoulder (boned and fat trimmed, cut into cubes)
 - 2 onions, sliced
 - 2 garlic, peeled and crushed
 - 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 - 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
 - 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
 - 1/2 teaspoon mint flakes
 - 1 teaspoon ground pepper
 - 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 - 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
 - 1 orange
 - 2 tbsp almond meal
 - 1/2 cup chicken stock
 - handfull of dried apricots
 - 2 handfulls of dates
 - 3 tablespoons pistachio
 - 1 tablespoon pine nuts
 - 1 tablespoon honey
 - salt
 - 2 cinnamon sticks
 - 1 cup cous cous
 - 1 tsp cinnamon
 - 1 tablespoon oil
 - 10g of butter
 - sultanas

1.  Brown the lamb in small amounts on oil in a hot pot.  Remove the browned lamb.
2.  In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, mint, pepper, nutmeg and ground coriander.  Fry the onions and garlic in the pot on medium heat.  Add the spices and fry till the onions become translucent.
3.  Add the browned lamb to the pot and mix - ensuring the spices cover all of the meat.
4.  Add the chicken stock, fresh orange juice and enough water to just cover all of the meat.  Bring the heat down to very low and cover.
5.  Chop the dates and apricots into quarters and add to the pot along with the almond meal, honey, 1 cinnamon stick, pine nuts, pistachios and salt.  Simmer on low heat with the lid open for 1.5 - 2 hours, mixing every 15 minutes or so to ensure the bottom of the pot does not burn.  Taste for seasoning at the end and add salt and pepper if needed.
6.  To prepare the cous cous.  Boil 1 cup of water with cinnamon stick, sultanas, oil and salt.  Once the water has boiled, take off the heat and add the cous cous.  Close the lid and leave for 5 minutes.
7.  Using a fork fluff up the cous cous.  Add butter and a few tablespoons of boiling water.  Place over a medium flame and continue stirring with the fork for 3-4 minutes.
8.  Serve the lamb tagine on top of the cous cous and enjoy :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vichyssoise Soup

This potato and leek soup is another one of mums recipes.  At the beginning of the year Nick and I went to a wonderful restaurant in Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and enjoyed a delicious lunch.  Before our meal a small tasting of potato and leek soup was served to us, compliments of the chef.  It had a blue cheese mixed through it, the saltiness of it cut through the creaminess of the soup perfectly.   I decided to use mums recipe to make the soup and at the end mix through some blue cheese.  If you're not a fan of blue cheese, the soup tastes delicious without it and is another very easy recipe to make.

Vichyssoise Soup
 - 3-4 leeks
 - 5-6 potatoes
 - 1L milk
 - 1 cup water
 - salt
 - pepper
 - 25g butter
 - blue cheese (I used King Island Roaring Forties)

1. Trim the dark leaves and the hairy roots off the leek and wash thoroughly.  Cut the leek along its length and slice.
2.  Wash and peel potatoes.  Dice.
3.  Add leeks, potatoes, milk and water to a pot and place on medium-high heat till it begins to boil.  Be sure to use a wooden spoon to mix it everynow and then so the milk does not burn.  Once it begins to boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes.
4.  Add salt and pepper to taste and the butter.  Take off heat and use a barmix to mash the soup, ensuring no lumps.
5.  Optional - add blue cheese and mix or serve as is.  Enjoy :)