Friday, October 31, 2014

FFWD - Osso bucco a l'Arman

For French Fridays with Dorie this week, our assignment was Osso Bucco a l'Arman. 

We were supposed to buy four veal shanks for this purpose, but these were nowhere to be found here, so I just bought three pieces (~1 kilo) of beef osso bucco and made the full sauce recipe.

The mix of flavours in this dish is quite delicious - oranges, tomatoes and rich, melt in your mouth meat are the stars.  I also took up the bon idee of making a rice pilaf to serve with my osso bucco.

This tasted good, and I like stew like dishes such as this one.  Would I make it again? Maybe - but osso bucco is not a cheap cut, so it would be a dinner party/special occasion dish only.

To see what the other Doristas thought, visit the FFWD website.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

La Luna Bistro, Carlton

For Tim's birthday, I took him to La Luna Bistro, in Carlton.  La Luna is the restaurant owned by Adrian Richardson, of Good Chef, Bad Chef fame (yes, Adrian is the "bad" chef).

In case you can't guess from the décor, La Luna specialises in meat dishes.  The only vegetarian dishes here are the sides.  Gathering from what other people were ordering, we figured that the steaks must be the most popular item, but wow, they were huge steaks.

La Luna does two sittings each night - a 6pm sitting and an 8.15pm sitting.  We took the 6pm sitting as we'd be starving by 8.15pm, and figured if we didn't get to dessert by then, we could go somewhere else in Carlton.

Our series of black-bedecked waiters were very friendly and we did not want for anything.    If you are trying to run two sittings like clockwork, this is a good thing.

For entrée, I ordered one of the daily specials, a kingfish ceviche ($21.50):

I ordered this because I knew it would be fairly light (leaving room for more!), and I enjoyed its clean, fresh flavours.

Tim ordered another daily special as his starter, a barbecue pork rib ($10.50):  

Tim loved this, as the meat was melting off the bone and covered in spicy sauce.  I got a sneaky taste of this and also thought it was good.  The sauce was definitely on the hotter side, as Tim's head started to sweat (a sure sign that what he is eating is hot).

For main, I went for the slow cooked goat with beans, spinach and carrots ($41.50):

I chose the goat because I have never had it before and it is not common on restaurant menus here.  The goat was moist and soft, and melted off the bones.  The rich tomato based sauce complemented the meat and vegetables well, and was perfect for mopping up with the bread that we received.

Tim ordered the roast pork with crackling ($21.50):

He was also very happy with his choice.  I quite enjoyed the crispy crackling.  Again, this dish comes with a sauce that just begs to be mopped up with bread.

In our absent mindedness, we forgot to order the side dishes that we chose, but it didn't matter - we were very full with what we had.

For dessert, Tim ordered tiramisu (Adrian's classic ($18.50):

H enjoyed it, and I also enjoyed the morsel that I tasted.

I went for the chocolate pudding with vanilla icecream and honeycomb ($18.50):

Let's be honest - the overwhelming star of this dish was the gooey chocolate pudding:

The vanilla icecream and honeycomb (which was no more than a few smears of toffee on the plate) were bit players.  And yes, this pudding tasted as sensational as it looks.

To drink, we started off with a couple of glasses of prosecco ($11.50), followed by a beer for Tim and a cider for me ($8.50 each), and finished off with coffees ($3.50): 

We enjoyed our La Luna experience and would definitely go back.

320 Rathdowne St
Carlton North VIC 3054
Ph: (03) 9349 4888

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WWDH - Vegetable Stir Fry

We are going healthy this week at Wednesdays with Donna Hay, as Margaret has chosen Donna's Vegetable Stir Fry from p70 of Modern Classics I.  The recipe is also online here.

This recipe is just what is says on the tin - a large variety of vegetables stir fried with soy sauce and a small amount of sugar.

I generally like my stir fries a bit saucier, but that could easily be fixed by upping the soy sauce.  I loved the roasted cashews - they added some lovely crunch to the dish. I served this with a can of tuna one day, and some shredded chicken another.

To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their websites.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Carrot Cake" Muffins

After making Dorie's Scallops with Double Carrots, I was left with an awful lot of vegetable juice that I was never going to drink.  (I could not buy a small poppa size vegetable juice and ended up with a litre of it.)  Not wanting to waste the lot, I put some in a stir fry, but then wondered if I could use it creatively in some baking.

After browsing through some Google results, I found this recipe for Carrot Cake Muffins from Mom Endeavors. They use 3/4 cup of vegetable juice -perfect!  The recipe made 18 regular sized muffins.  If I had known, I might have cut the recipe down a little, but my work colleagues had no troubles polishing these off - someone told me they had three!

Here's a peek inside the finished product:

These are great muffins to get some veges into your kids, but the sugar content is on the higher side (2 cups), so if you are watching that element of your diet, you may want to cut it down a tad.  With three cups of carrot, I think these muffins are a genius way to up the vegetable content of a fussy child's diet.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oliver & Co, Indooroopilly Shoppingtown

On a recent trip to Brisbane, I dropped into Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, which has recently undergone a major overhaul.  I needed some brekky, and decided to try my luck in the new gourmet food court on the lower level of the shopping centre.  After browsing the options, I settled on Oliver & Co, a deli come café.

I hadn't read any review about this place before I went, and I am glad that I didn't.  Some of the reviews are quite negative, but  I enjoyed my brekky experience.

I started off with a skinny flat white coffee ($3.80), which came out quickly:

The coffee was fine - no complaints.
For breakfast, I chose avocado salsa and cherry tomatoes on sour dough with poached eggs ($14):

I really enjoyed it, I would have preferred no red onion in the salsa (not being a red onion fan) - but that is a subjective thing.  The eggs were perfectly poached, as I was asked how I wanted them - and they came out with pleasingly runny yolks that I could soak up with my toast.  I thought that the plating with the bright red cherry tomatoes and contrasting green rocket was quite attractive.

While I was waiting for my order (which came out promptly), I wandered over to the amazing looking row of cakes on the counter.  This is one of them:

I bought two slices to take home - one slice of poached pear and caramel cake ($4.90):

and one slice of orange and ginger cake ($4.90):

The poached pear and caramel was my favourite, although of course very sweet from the caramel.  It also had a nutty topping.  If you like your cake denser and less sweet, the orange and ginger cake is for you.

I had no issues with the service.  Admittedly, I arrived early and appeared to be the first customer for the day, but I was served promptly with cake, even though by that stage several other tables had been seated. 

I would love to try some of the meats and cheeses on display at Oliver & Co, but because I was travelling, it was not possible on this visit.

I'd go to Oliver & Co again - I enjoyed the food and the French inspired décor is charming. 

Oliver & Co
Indooroopilly Shoppingtown
322 Moggill Road
Indooroopilly QLD 4068
Ph: 07 3327 2817

Friday, October 24, 2014

FFWD - Canneles for Dorie's Birthday

It's a special French Friday with Dorie this week, as today is Dorie Greenspan's birthday.  Happy birthday Dorie!

Our mission this week is to select one of the nominated recipes from Dorie's new book, Baking Chez Moi, and make and post about it.

I was pleased that one of the recipes was for canneles.  The recipe is posted online here.  I have had this on my "must make" list for a long time, and earlier this year, I had even bought a silicone mould to make my own canneles.

There has been a lot written about the difficulty of making canneles, what makes a perfect cannele, and tips and tricks for making them.  I have the fabulous advantage of having never laid eyes on a cannele in the flesh, so to speak, so I was guided entirely by Dorie's notes and the photographs that I found online.

The name of canneles comes from the fact that they are baked in moulds which make them "channelled".  Dorie says that traditionally they are baked until they turn almost as dark as nuggets of coal, and we were told to bake them until they became "very dark - black really".  This sounds counter-intuitive, but the idea is that canneles are all crispy, chewy caramelised sugar on the outside and soft and custardy on the inside.

Having never eaten a cannele before, I thought mine fitted the bill.  Of the 8 canneles that I made, two puffed up and never really fell down properly, so they were an odd shape.  The   others were certainly the right shape, and I think they were the right colour, according to Dorie's standards (cf other commentators).

However, it took an hour and a half to achieve this colour in my oven, not an hour.  I began to despair of ever getting even close, but I am happy with the end result.

I ate one of my canneles and thought it was good - it had a lovely, chewy outside and a soft, custardy middle as per Dorie's description. Now I just need to convince people at work that these little black cakes(?) are supposed to be like that and are really good. 

Check out what all the other Doristas made to celebrate by clicking on the links below:

Mini Cannelés

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lemon Creme Fraiche Cake

Recently, I had some crème fraiche left in the fridge to use up, so busily Googled recipes containing crème fraiche.  I tried "crème fraiche" plus "ingredient" which largely gave me recipes for making crème fraiche, so I changed tack and Googled "crème fraiche" plus "cake" and bingo - I found this terrific recipe for Lemon Crème Fraiche Cake

The finished cake was so moist and light, and was a winner at work:

The only change that I made to the recipe was to substitute some of the crème fraiche for thickened cream, as I did not have quite enough crème fraiche.  It didn't seem to make a difference to the finished product.  Also, if you want enough glaze to easily cover the cake, I recommend at least doubling the recipe given - I found that the amount suggested did not make enough glaze to easily cover the top of the cake.

This cake was popular at work too, so comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WWDH - Chickpea and roast pumpkin soup

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, I chose another soup - this time, Donna's Chickpea and Roast Pumpkin Soup from p76 of Off the Shelf.  You can also find the recipe online here

I enjoyed this soup - the whole chickpeas added some welcome texture.  However, I found it slightly too sweet, and would have upped the spice component - perhaps by adding some chilli.

To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their websites.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Citrus Sunbeam Layer Cake for Chi

A colleague, Chi, had his last day with us last week.  I found out when his last day was, and decided to make him a cake to ensure that he was seen off in the right fashion.

I had not the faintest idea what kind of cake Chi liked best, so I randomly decided I would make some kind of orange cake based on the number of oranges I had in the fridge.  A lot of recipes that I came across were of the boiled orange/flourless variety.  Not having a couple of hours to boil oranges, I was very excited when I landed on the recipe for Citrus Sunbeam Layer Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.

You can also find the recipe for this cake online here.  I chose to make only a half recipe, and made two orange layers and one lemon layer, as I wanted my cake to focus on the orange.  I also substituted Cointreau for the limoncello to bring out the orange flavour.  I left the alcohol out of the icing completely - mainly because I forgot to add it.

To decorate the cake, I used black writing icing (a winner) and popping candy (not a good idea - it all popped as soon as I put it on the cake and went quite sticky looking).

Despite my off-centre writing and sticky popping candy decoration, Chi was very pleased with his cake, and a number of people told me they enjoyed it.  I'll count that as a keeper in my books.

Friday, October 17, 2014

FFWD - Roasted Kipfler Potatoes with Garlic

This week's edition of French Fridays with Dorie is a Sunday roast dish -  Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic.  Unfortunately it is not the season for Jerusalem Artichokes, so I used kipfler potatoes instead - similar shape, similar taste (or so the Internet tells me).

It is pretty simple to make this - peel your Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes, slice them lengthways, place them in an oiled casserole dish with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sliced garlic cloves, mix it all up, and bake on high until golden and cooked through.

How can you go wrong with this - it tasted good.

To see what everyone else thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cheesecake topped brownies

My final birthday afternoon tea post relates to something chocolatey and delish - brownies!  In this case, I made brownie bites with cheesecake topping from p146 of Nibbles - 100 Sweet and Savoury Finger Foods.

These little bites are just the ticket for someone who likes their chocolate - and they are very simple to make.

To make them, you will need:

125g butter
200g dark chocolate
220g sugar
3 eggs
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


180g cream cheese 
75g sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 165 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 27cm x 17.5cm slice tin.

For the topping, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth, then add the remaining topping ingredients and beat to combine.  Set aside.

For the brownies, melt the butter and chocolate together over a bain marie. 

Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until light and creamy.  Mix in the chocolate mixture.  Add the flour and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin.  Spoon the cheesecake topping over the top of the batter and spread evenly.  Using a knife, cut through the mixture at intervals to create a marbled pattern.

Put the brownies into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.  Cool the brownies in the tin, then cut into 1 inch squares.  Serve  and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WWDH - French Onion Soup

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Sarah chose French Onion Soup from p28 of Modern Classics I.  I did have a sense of deja vu with this one, and sure enough, found that we had made it in February 2013, before Sarah joined us.  Oh well, it never hurts to make the classics again, and we are finding that we are all going back to the same recipes subconsciously because they were good.

I liked this well enough, but only made a quarter recipe because I didn't want to swim in soup all week.

To see what Sarah, Margaret and Chaya thought of this soup, visit their websites.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Millstone, Malvern

In the last twelve months or so, a few new local cafes have opened their doors.  One which has proven extremely popular, judging from the ever present crowds, is Millstone.  The café is named after Arthur Ebbott, who ran the first mill and grain stores in the area.  The pastry chef at Millstone, Alice Wright, trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.  After reading that, how could I pass up trying some of her delicious pastries?

My opportunity to visit Millstone came one morning when I was working from home.  Being a weekday, and still quite early, it was easy enough for me to get a table.  I was greeted on arrival by a very friendly counter assistant, who told me to take a seat anywhere in the light-filled café. 

I started with my usual weekday pick-me-up, a skinny flat white coffee: 

You cannot believe how welcome my morning coffee is on weekdays, and it sets me up for the day ahead.  Millstone's coffee was just right, and served in a cheery blue cup and saucer.

I didn't want a fancy breakfast, so I ordered what I often make at home for myself - poached eggs on toast:

This was not just any old toast, but a lovely sour dough.  And thankfully, the eggs were perfectly gooey inside:

I enjoyed this simple breakfast, which was brought out very quickly and efficiently by the friendly wait staff.  The only thing that would have made it better is a smear of chutney on the toast, like I have at home.

Of course, I had to buy some pastries for take out.  I bought this apple brioche ($4.50): 

The buttery layers of bread were topped by a slice of baked apple and sprinkled with cinnamon.

And best of all, they started bringing out the patisserie items just before I left.  I chose a salted caramel, hazelnut and rhubarb dome ($9):

Here's a peek inside:

The brioche was nice, but this was devine!!!

I will definitely return to Millstone, but I think I will wait until my next working from home day so that I don't have to battle the crowds in this deservedly good café.

10a Claremont Ave
Malvern VIC 3144
Ph: 03 9509 0789

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dark Chocolate and Marmalade Cake for Collette

Recently, it was my colleague Collette's birthday.  To celebrate, I made her the Dark Chocolate Marmalade Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  You can also find the recipe online here.

I love a chocolate/orange combination, so this cake was a perfect flavour choice.  I also loved the chunks of chocolate throughout the cake:

Instead of making the chocolate buttercream that accompanied the recipe, I used the chocolate fudge icing from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook, which is also online here.  It tastes very chocolatey but doesn't use chocolate, just cocoa, so it is infinitely quicker and cheaper to make.

For decorations, I used Queen chocolate letters (another birthday pressie from Mum) and sugar butterflies.  I thought it looked really pretty.

I thought the cake itself was a little on the dry side, but there were no complaints - at least none that were passed on to me.  The frosting helped to combat any dryness, so it was a win from my standpoint.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Golf Cake for Mitch

We lost another Pilates instructor on Monday (careless of us, isn't it), this time a physio called Mitch.  Mitch stands out as being the only physio I have met who trained at Bond University (the first full fee paying Uni in Australia) - before then, I didn't even know you could study physiotherapy at Bond.  I caught wind of Mitch's departure by accident, and decided to thank him for his time with us by baking him a cake. 
I don't know a lot about Mitch, but I do know that he is crazy about golf.  That made the theme of the cake a no brainer.  Next step was to turn to Google to find a golf themed cake that looked good but wasn't too hard to achieve.  After scrolling through numerous images, I found several people who had made a round cake iced green, with "grass" icing on top, a small hole in the top of the chocolate cake to imitate a hole, and a golf ball (real or chocolate) on top.  For one example, look here.  
I bought a grass piping tip and a golf ball chocolate mould, and voila - I was set to make my own version of the golf cake:
Pretty impressive, yeah?  And even better, simple to make.  For the base cake, I used a half recipe of Jennifer Graham's Dinosaur Rock cupcake recipe.  The exact quantity for a half recipe is posted here (hmm, seems this is my leaving cake of choice).

I iced the cake using The Primrose Bakery's vanilla buttercream icing dyed with green liquid food colouring, piping on the grass with the Wilton no. 533 tip.  I cut a hole out of the iced cake using a small biscuit cutter - maybe I should have done it before piping the icing on, as it smudged the icing a little, but I wanted it to look like someone had just cut the sod.  Finally, I made a golf ball using white candy melts in a golf ball shaped chocolate mould:

The ball was not perfect, but it was OK and looked the part.

Overall, I was happy with the golf cake - it was simple yet effective.  Keep in mind if you are making a cake for a golf-loving person.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mary Berry's Cherry Cake

Wayne is another keen baker in our office.  He makes an awesome baked cheesecake and a devine sticky date pudding.  When he mentioned that he hadn't had a cherry cake for ages, I was happy to volunteer to make one.

I selected Mary Berry's Cherry Cake recipe from her book 100 Cakes and Bakes.

As you can see, this is a lovely, sturdy, golden cake, full of glace cherries.  The almond meal adds an interesting texture. I didn't quite follow Mary's directions to dump everything in at once when mixing the batter; I used the traditional method of creaming of butter and sugar before adding the other dry ingredients.

This recipe for an old fashioned favourite is a keeper.  After all, if you can't trust Mary from The Great British Bake Off to provide a good cake recipe, who can you trust?