Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TWD - Swedish Visiting Cake Bars


This week's Tuesday with Dorie (Dorie's Cookies) recipe is Swedish Visiting Cake Bars.  These are a riff on Dorie's Swedish Visiting Cake.  I could not remember making the cake, but I am in awe of how bad my photos were when I made it!

In essence, these bars comprise an almond flavoured cake topped with a crunchy almond meringue topping.  They are tasty without being ostentatious.  I also liked that they were relatively simple to make.

I chose to cut my bars into triangles as suggested by Dorie, so I got twice as many bars for my effort.  That way, there was more to go around, and the size of the square bar was quite large. 

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Orange Cheesecake with Candied Kumquats


Tim's family has a kumquat tree in their backyard.  When Tim kindly offered to give me some kumquats, I was immediately on board.  Now what to make!

After some enthusiastic Internet searches, I decided to make this Orange Cheesecake with Candied Kumquats. While my candied kumquats were nowhere near firm enough to make my topping look like the source photo,  I was pretty happy with the end result, and it tasted sensational:


The cheesecake was so creamy, and the candied kumquats added just the right amount of tartness and texture.  I only made half of the cheesecake filling, as I find American style cheesecakes can be just a little too much.

Tempted?  Here is the recipe:

Base

2 cups plain biscuit crumbs (~1 packet Arrowroot biscuits)


1/3 cup brown sugar


100g butter, melted

Filling
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
500g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
Candied kumquats
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
255g kumquats, thinly sliced horizontally, seeds removed
For the candied kumquats:
Mix the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan, and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the kumquats, and reduce the heat to simmer until the kumquats are translucent. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and allow the kumquats to cool in the syrup. Strain the kumquats, reserving the syrup. Combine the kumquats and 1/4 cup of the syrup in a small bowl. Return the remaining syrup to the saucepan and boil it until reduced to 1¼ cups.
For the base:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line the base of a 9" springform pan.Combine the biscuit crumbs and brown sugar in a bowl, then pour over the melted butter and mix well. Press the biscuit mixture evenly across the bottom and 1 inch up sides of the springform pan. Bake the base until set and the edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow the base to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Keep the oven on, and wrap the outside of the springform pan tightly with alfoil to stop water from getting into it.


For the filling:

Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the orange peel in a small saucepan. Rub with your fingers until the sugar is moist, then add the orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup. Chill the mixture in the fridge until cool.

In the meantime, cube the cream cheese and beat it in a stand mixer with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Add the sour cream, flour, and salt and beat until just combined. Beat in the eggs, then fold through the cooled orange juice mixture. Pour the filling into the base, and place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up sides of the pan.

Place the roasting pan into the oven and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until the filling is just set.
Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. 


Remove the cheesecake in the springform pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, place the cheesecake in the fridge to chill overnight.

Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the springform pan, then unlatch the sides of the pan. Place the cheesecake onto a plate and arrange the candied kumquats on top. Serve drizzled with some kumquat syrup, if desired.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

TWD - Cowgirl Cornmeal Pecan Financiers



This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Cowgirl Cornmeal Pecan Financiers.  The name is not delicate but these little cakes are.  They contain toasted ground pecans, cornmeal and browned butter, making for  taste sensation.

I had a bit of a shopping excursion for the ingredients for these financiers, as neither cornmeal nor pecans are sold at my regular supermarket.  The cornmeal I understand (it is not an ingredient used that much in Australia), but the pecans I do not.  Coles is the only supermarket where I have reliably been able to get pecans in normal quantities.  The cornmeal came from an IGA, which also sold pecans, but only in industrial quantities.   

I wasn't thrilled at first to be making these financiers, but I changed my mind when I tasted them.  The are light and bursting with flavour.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Apricot and pumpkin seed biscuits


I recently saw an intriguing recipe for Persimmon and Pumpkin Seed Biscuits on Stuff.com.  The recipe contains dried persimmons.  I knew that I would never be able to buy dried persimmons here, so I was pleased that the recipe suggested dried apricots as an alternative.


Chocolate was optional in the recipe, but I am glad that I used it.  Without the chocolate, these biscuits would have tasted almost healthful - to me, biscuits should taste a bit decadent.

If you are interested in trying out these biscuits for something  a little different, you will need:

⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
100g softened butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 small egg
1 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Pinch of salt
⅓ cup chopped dried persimmons or apricots
50g chopped dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan until golden, then transfer onto a plate to cool.

Place the butter, sugar and honey into a stand mixer and beat until creamy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt, and fold in to combine. Add the toasted pumpkin seeds, dried persimmons or apricots, and chocolate and mix until just combined.

Roll the mixture into 12 walnut-sized balls and arrange, evenly spaced, on the baking tray. Gently press the balls to flatten a little. Bake for 12 minutes.

Remove the biscuits from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Moroccan Tagine


The chilly weather in Melbourne continues, with blasts of icy cold winds and sunny but warmthless skies.

It is truly soup and stew weather, so I was pleased when the latest newsletter from my physiotherapist linked to both a soup and a stew recipe. Naturally, I made them both.

The  stew recipe is a Moroccan Tagine from Taste.com.au. It is full of flavour and suitably hearty for cold nights.

To make it, you will need:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 750g gravy beef, trimmed, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, halved, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Moroccan seasoning
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups Massel beef stock
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • Brown rice, to serve
  • Cooked green beans, to serve

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Heat half the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Brown the beef in batches, then transfer to a plate.  

Heat the remaining oil in the casserole dish. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring, until onion has softened. Return the beef to the dish. Add the  flour and seasoning, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon.

Stir in the stock and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to the boil. TCover the casserole dish and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 1 and a half hours.

Remove the stew from the oven and stir in the chickpeas. Return the stew to the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes or until the beef is tender. Take the stew out of the oven and discard the cinnamon and bay leaves.

Serve with rice and beans. 
 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

TWD - Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch



It is now June, and in Oz, it is the start of winter.  "Up north", it is still warm, but the southern states where I am are really feeling the chill. This makes for good baking weather.

Our first Tuesday with Dorie recipe for the month of June is Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch.  These are rather delicious cookies flavoured by crushed caramelised sesame seeds, cocoa, dark chocolate and tahini.

Despite  these cookies being easy enough to make and extraordinarily good, I did find making the sesame crunch a bit of a faff, and it went everywhere when I was chopping it up for the biscuits.  I think the sesame wafers that you buy would be a good substitute.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Pumpkin Orange and Ginger Cake with Creamy Maple Icing


Brrrr ... It was the first day of winter yesterday, and boy am I feeling it.  By the standards of other continents, we don't get that cold, but I am not used to the cold so for me, the weather here at present is bitter. I often meet people who do not mind the cold, but I am strictly a sunshine and warmth girl.

On of the few good things about winter is that it is the time for awesome comfort food - soups, stews, casseroles, roasts and puddings.  An ingredient in many of these dishes is the humble pumpkin.  There are so many great pumpkin recipes out there, both sweet and savoury, and now is the time to  try them out.

I recently came across a  great recipe for Pumpkin Orange and Ginger Cake with Creamy Maple Icing.  As well as pumpkin, it features that winter staple, orange.  The ginger is in the form of ground ginger. 

This is one delicious cake.  I love the unusual flavours, and it is the perfect cake to cosy up with together with a piping cup of coffee under a blanket on a cold afternoon.


To make it, you will need:

200g mashed roast pumpkin, cooled
200g softened butter
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of ½ an orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 ½ cups almond meal
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Icing
75g softened butter
200g softened cream cheese, at room temperature
4 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Finely grated zest of ½ an orange
(I also added half a cup of icing sugar)
Preheat your oven to 180C and grease and line a 23cm round cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar together  in the bowl of a stand mixer until very light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and vanilla and beat well, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined.
Using a rubber spatula, fold through the almond meal, ginger, baking powder and salt. Fold in the mashed pumpkin until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out cleanly. (Mine took quite a bit longer.) Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out to a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, put all the ingredients except the orange zest in a bowl and beat until smooth. Spread over the cake, sprinkle over the orange zest.
Slice and enjoy with a cup of joe!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Miso Braised Chicken



I am a fan of the free supermarket magazines for tracking down tasty recipes for dinner.  A little while ago, Coles had a recipe for Miso Braised Chicken in their magazine, which can be found online here.

No surprises that this dish is bursting with Asian flavours - miso, ginger, soy, mirin and sesame.  I liked it so much that I accidentally made it twice in a couple of weeks, which I only discovered when I saw that I had photographed it twice.

If you are looking for a quick, tasty and healthy meal, this could be the dish for you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fitzrovia Buns


I have written before about how much I love the Honey & Co Baking Book.  There are so many recipes in it that I want to make.  I have already made the Pear Ginger and Olive Oil Cake and the Baked Doughnuts with Citrus Curd.

For ages, I have been waiting to make the Fitzrovia Buns, which are Honey & Co's answer to Chelsea Buns.  For the uninitiated, Chelsea Buns are sticky buns, kind of like pecan sticky buns or cinnamon buns in the US.  The Fitzrovia Buns caught my eye as they were filled with dried sour cherries and pistachios.  Sour cherries are hard to get here, so it took me a while to gather the ingredients, and then a while longer for me to find a spot in my schedule to make these buns.


However, I am so glad that I did.  These Fitzrovia Buns are the bees knees of buns - dense, sweet, sticky and packed with flavour. If you don't own the book, the recipe is posted online here.  However, if you love baking, I highly recommend this book - there are many delicious sounding and unusual recipes here that you won't find elsewhere.

The Fitzrovia Buns involve a few steps - making a dough, making a sugar syrup, waiting for the dough to chill, filling and shaping the dough, waiting for the buns to rise and finally baking the buns.  The dough and the syrup can be made in advance if you are short on time.  It took me four hours from beginning to end to have a warm batch of buns on my kitchen bench.

My faith in how good these buns were was backed up by the rapid rate at which they disappeared at work.  They get a gold star from me.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dining out in Darwin


A few weeks ago, Tim and I went to Darwin on holidays.  Darwin is in the Northern Territory, right at the top end of Australia.  Rather than having four seasons, Darwin has a wet season and a dry season.  The peak tourist season is during the dry season, which runs from May until October.  It is still very hot during the dry season (plus thirty degree Celsius temperatures), but it is not as humid as during the wet season, and it virtually never rains.   

While in Darwin and its surrounds, we took the opportunity to sample the local cuisine.  I can say that Darwin and Kakadu boast some of the most delicious food that you will eat, so it is definitely worth seeking out some top end specialities if you visit the Northern Territory.  



On our first night in Darwin, we visited the Mindil Beach Market for dinner.  On the way there, we witnessed the most glorious pink sunset. 



At the Market, there are food vans of nearly every variety you can think of, together with entertainment and shopping opportunities.  Crocodile claw keyring anyone?  


There is a carnival atmosphere at the Market, and it is a lot of fun.

 On our second night, we went to The Tap on Mitchell, a pub-style dining venue with a large, open air dining area fronting Mitchell Street, one of the main streets in Darwin. 

At The Tap, we could not go past the grilled barramundi (~$30), given that Darwin is famed for this fish:


The servings are generous at The Tap - Tim and I could have shared this dish, which came with two large pieces of barramundi.

Here is Tim enjoying a top end beer at The Tap:


After that, we went on tour for a few days to Kakadu National Park. We stayed one night at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, which is literally in the shape of a crocodile.  There are not too many options in Kakadu for dining, so luckily, the hotel restaurant, Escarpment, is a top notch venue, despite the presence of a dated buffet option (which we skipped for a la carte).

Again, cognisant  that  the Territory has some unique food to offer, we went with local delicacies wherever possible.  We started with the crocodile spring rolls:


I had never tried crocodile before and was unsure what to expect.  Some say that crocodile is like chicken; I think it is more like firm white fish, and is very tasty.



For main, Tim had the steak with sweet potato chips:


while I went for the kangaroo and mango salad:


I don't know what was in the dressing on the kangaroo, but it was utterly devine.

For dessert, we shared a wattleseed panna cotta with mango icecream:


This was good, but an anti-climax after the delicious kangaroo main.

Our next night landed us back in Darwin.  That night we ate at a Chinese restaurant near our hotel which was OK but nothing out of the ordinary.

After a day in Litchfield National Park, we arrived back in Darwin on sunset.  We decided to make our way to the thriving restaurant district at the Darwin Waterfront.  Our restaurant of choice that night was CHOW Vietnamese restaurant.  I love the fresh, vibrant flavours of Vietnamese food, and this restaurant did not disappoint.

For entrée, we shared the pork and prawn rice paper rolls ($9):  


These were good, but not unusual.

For main, Tim ordered the Sweet and Sour Soup with chicken, tamarind, okra, pineapple and tomato ($21): 


He enjoyed it as it was quite different to anything he had tried before.

I went for the Vietnamese Chicken Curry ($22), with chicken cooked on the bone, a coconut curry sauce and sweet potato: 


What can I say - this was sensational!

For dessert, we shared the tasting plate for one ($16), with ginger deep fried icecream, coconut cake and lychee jellies:

 

This was terrific too, my favourite being the deep fried icecream.

Seating was available inside or out - we combined the best of both worlds by being under cover in an open area of the restaurant.  This is the groovy mural on the back wall of the restaurant: 


I adored CHOW and wish it was closer so that I could go back.

The next day, we went out to Cullens Bay.  At night, there may be a thriving restaurant scene there, but it is almost deserted during the day.  At the gift shop, we found small tubs of Crazy Acres icecream ($6), made locally in the Territory at Berry Springs:


We tried the mango flavour, but there is also banana, passionfruit and vanilla.  The icecream is made with simple, natural ingredients and is absolutely delicious.  

That night, we headed to Rorkes Beer Wine Food for dinner.  Rorkes is situated in a lovely art deco style building, with many original fixtures still intact.  A very modern feature of Rorkes is that some of the tables come with their own beer taps to pour your own beer.

It was a very quiet night at Rorkes on the night that we were there.  We were a little disappointed that the online menu was not reflective of the much more limited menu at the venue.

Tim ordered the pub classic, chicken parmigiana:


while I ordered a rather lacklustre sweet potato gnocchi:


It was a grand venue, but the food was not inspiring.  It is not a place that I would be keen to revisit other than for the art deco features of the interior and the novelty of pouring your own beverage.

On our last day in Darwin, we did a Darwin Heritage Walk walking tour with John of Walk Darwin.  The last stop on our tour was at Lyons Cottage on The Esplanade.  There is a café there being part of a commercial outlet called Aboriginal Bush Traders, where John told us that we could buy a Devonshire tea with damper instead of a scone and with Australian native flavoured jam.  

Umm, well, don't go to Aboriginal Bush Traders and ask for a Devonshire tea as the staff will look at you as if you have gone completely bonkers.  We know because we tried it.  Instead, you need to order the Damper and Jam ($10.50), being a wattleseed damper served with your  choice of jam (we ordered the Kakadu Plum Jam), and to make it into a Devonshire tea, you have to order the tea separately. 


Although the service was rather unenthusiastic and slow, the damper was nice and it was a lot of fun to try this uniquely Aussie style of "Devonshire tea".

To cap off our Darwin trip, we went to the Hotel Darwin for lunch.  In its heyday, the Hotel Darwin was the place to be, but is now a shadow of its former self, although it has retained some lovely architectural features in amongst the modern less genteel trimmings of an Australian pub.

On John's recommendation, we ordered  the Territory Tasting Plate ($22), with salt bush seasoned emu, lemon myrtle fried crocodile and chargrilled kangaroo:


I couldn't taste the difference between the emu and the 'roo, and the crocodile reliably tasted like fish.  I enjoyed the novelty value of this dish more than anything.

Hotel Darwin also boasts that theirs is the best steak sandwich ($24) in the Territory, so we also ordered one of those: 


It was certainly very hearty and tasty, though unusually served on Turkish bread.

There you have it - our culinary tour of Darwin and Kakadu.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

TWD - Springtime Cookies and Curd



For Tuesdays with Dorie a couple of weeks back, we made Double-Butter Double-Baked Petit Beurre Cookies.  This week's recipe involves taking those cookies and turning them into a fruity dessert.


It is difficult to see in my photos, but the base of the dessert is a cookie, which is then topped with curd.  The recipe specified making grapefruit curd, but I still had citrus curd from a little while ago.  I could not justify making yet more curd, so I just used the citrus curd that I had.  Dorie also suggested making an optional rhubarb compote to top the curd, but I skipped that too.  Finally, the cookie and curd are topped by strawberries macerated in sugar and Kirsch.  I definitely recommend using the Kirsch if you have it - there's nothing like boozy, syrupy fruit.

I really enjoyed this dessert, despite it being autumn (nearly winter!) rather than spring in my neck of the woods.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.