Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TWD - Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. These bars comprise chocolate chips, coconut and dried apricots baked into a chewy dough in a cast iron pan.

These bars were not the prettiest thing I have baked this year, but they were tasty.  They were a surprise hit at work too, and I received a request for the recipe.  As well as being published in Dorie's Cookies, the recipe is online here

To see what everyone else baked this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Soup - Red Tractor July

This month's Red Tractor calendar recipe is Roasted Cauliflower Soup.  I will be honest and say that this recipe did not appeal to me.  I am not a huge soup fan to start with, and roasted cauliflower soup is not a flavour that is high on my desired list.  However, in the spirit of my project, I made the soup anyway.

The calendar quote for this month comes from  Anne of Green Gables:  

I am a big fan of Anne, and this statement reflects Anne's dauntless optimism.  In the middle of winter, now that I am older, I find it hard to muster up this kind of optimism, but it is an inspirational attitude to have.

Now for the soup.  It tasted better than I imagined, but it's still not something I would ever make again.  The potatoes and apples help to balance the cauliflower so that the soup doesn't smell like an old sock.

If roasted cauliflower soup is something that may float your boat, you can make it with the following ingredients:

1 cauliflower cut into florets
3 red apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 finely chopped stalks of celery
2 large potatoes, finely chopped
6 cups boiling water
2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
1/2 cup cream

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Toss the cauliflower, apple and garlic together with the olive oil in a large bowl. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then cook the onion and celery until soft.  Add the cauliflower, apples, garlic, potatoes, boiling water and stock cubes, bring to the  boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. 

Puree the ingredients in the saucepan with a stick blender, then stir in the cream and serve.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Sweet Cherry and Marzipan Buns

In The Guardian recently, Ruby Tandoh of GBBO fame published a recipe for Sweet Cherry Marzipan Buns.  “Cherry” and “marzipan” instantly had my attention and I wanted to make these buns.

The buns comprise a sweet bread dough that is shaped with a hollow, into which you pop a marzipan disk and cherry compote before baking. Fresh out of the oven, the buns are completed with a sweet glaze.

These buns were delish - like a cherry danish with bread instead of pastry. As Ruby says, if you have a lazy weekend afternoon to make them, then I highly recommend giving these tasty buns a go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

TWD - Classic Fruit Tart

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is a classic - Classic Fruit Tart.  Who doesn't like custard topped with berries delivered on a pastry crust?

This dessert looks a million bucks but is, to quote Amazon, "easy az".  It is especially easy when you press the pastry into the tin to create the crust.  The pastry doesn't end up as thin or even as rolling it out, but it is much quicker and causes less drama. 

And this is the end result!  Who cares if the crust gets a bit thick in parts?  I just love the decadent combination of berries and fruit - so pretty, so delicious, and just right.  This is definitely one I'd make again.

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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sweet Potato, Mince and Pasta Bake

In my quest for the perfect lunch dish, I recently found a recipe for Sweet Potato and Mince Pasta Bake published in the Australian Women's Weekly featured in an advertisement for sweet potatoes.  I liked the sound of the ingredients, which included both meat and vegetables.

I made some changes to the recipe  that were mostly accidental.  I used fusilli rather than penne because that is what I found at my supermarket.  I left out the spinach because I forgot to buy it, and the pine nuts because I couldn't find them in my pantry cupboard.

I recommend using a food processor to grate the vegetables as this will save you a lot of time and grief. 

This is a really hearty, warming winter lunch, and I would happily make it again.  

If you think that you'd like to make this dish (my version), you will need:

  • 350g dried pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 500g beef mince
  • 400g sweet potato, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1 small zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup  beef stock
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 100g ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese

Preheat your oven to 220°C.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Heat the oil in a frypan and cook  the onion and garlic until softened. Add the mince and cook until browned. Add the sweet potato and zucchini and cook until softened slightly.  

Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, stock and thyme, then simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until thickened slightly.

Combine the pasta and the sweet potato mixture in a large ovenproof dish. Crumble over the ricotta, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and serve with a garden salad. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Chocolate Licorice Loaf Cake

Are you a licorice lover? And if yes, do you like all kinds of licorice or just certain kinds? I like most licorice except the Dutch salted stuff, but funnily enough I hate all other black lollies, including black jelly beans.

In The Age recently, they published this recipe for Chocolate Licorice Loaf Cake.

This cake was absolutely delicious, and it even received a tick of approval from my Pilates instructor, who does not like licorice! Melting the licorice was kind of gross, as the result looked like melted down car tyres, but trust the recipe - it works. I used Darrell Lea soft black licorice to make the cake. My licorice didn’t not melt down completely and I think that’s OK. I actually liked the soft chunks of licorice that remained in the cake.

I didn’t bother without the caramel sauce or extra garnish of licorice on top of my cake - I think it was perfect as is. But by all means, if you prefer, you can go the full McCoy, like the recipe.

If you are a licorice lover (or even if you are not!), I highly recommend making this delicious cake.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

TWD - Pistachio Berry Slims

This week's Tuesday with Dorie (Dorie's Cookies) pick is the rather festive looking Pistachio-Berry Slims.  These cookies are pistachio macaroons topped with red jam and fresh raspberries (hence the red and green festive appearance):

If you don't like pistachios you will not like these cookies - there are only three ingredients in the base cookie (ground pistachios, sugar and egg whites), making the pistachio flavour quite strong.

The cookies are baked in a log before being cut into "slims" with a serrated knife:

The log is baked with a hollow in the middle for the jam and raspberries.  I used rosella and wild plum jam rather than raspberry jam because I already had it open and it fits the "red jam" bill.

I liked these cookies without being rapt with the flavour.  I do like the fact that they were super simple and quick to make - if you have guests coming in a couple of hours you can whip up a batch of these and have them on the table by the time they arrive.  (There is an hour's chilling time that you need to build in.)

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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Red Tractor June - Veal Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce

It is really cold and grey in Melbourne at present, so it was pleasing to see that this month's Red Tractor recipe was something warm and hearty.  The recipe was for Veal Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce.

The calendar saying this month is very true:   

It makes me think that my efforts have been for a reason.

I liked the mushroom sauce with this recipe, which is made with canned mushroom soup.  It is something that I can make again with another dish.

Without further  do, here is the recipe for the Veal Schnitzel:

4 x 100g veal steaks, flattened
1/2 cup plain flour
1 egg, lightly whisked with a bit of milk
2 cups soft fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Coat the veal with flour, and shake off the excess.  Dip the veal in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs to coat well.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil and butter in a fry pan and cook the veal on each side until golden, then drain on paper towel.

For the mushroom sauce:

20g butter
250g button mushrooms, sliced
1 crushed clove garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
420g can cream of mushroom soup

Heat the butter in a small frypan, then add the mushrooms and cook until tender.  Add the garlic and paprika and cook for one minute.  Add the soup, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.

Serve the veal schnitzel with the mushroom sauce and potato mash and green beans.  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tuna Pasta Bake

I have said before that I struggle to find good dishes to make for lunch that go beyond the stodgy sandwich.  Recently, in a Taste magazine newsletter, I found inspiration in a really good recipe for a simple Tuna Pasta Bake.  This pasta bake only uses six ingredients.  I bumped it up to seven by adding frozen vegetables to make it a true "one pot" dish that is transportable and can be heated up in the microwave for lunch at work.

This is the kind of dish that speaks for itself, so without further ado, here is how to make it.

Gather together:

300g dried macaroni
40g butter or margarine
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups skim milk
3/4 cup reduced fat melty grated cheese
425g can of tuna in springwater, drained
250g mixed frozen chopped vegetables
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.  Lightly grease a large casserole dish.

Cook the macaroni according to packet instructions then drain, reserving a quarter of a cup of the cooking water.

Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan, then add the flour and stir for a minute over the heat.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour in the milk.  Stir to combine then return to the heat, and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.  Season with salt and pepper, and stir through a quarter of  a cup of the cheese.

Combine the cooked macaroni, tuna, frozen vegetables and reserved cooking water, then arrange evenly on the bottom of the greased casserole dish.      Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese, then bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Serve and enjoy!  (I got 6 servings out of it.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

TWD - Black-and-White Baked Alaska

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Black-and-White Baked Alaska.  It's the kind of icecream treat that is tolerable in winter as it is served warm.

This Baked Alaska has a dense, fudgy, brownie base that collapses on cooling to form a "dish" for the vanilla icecream filling.  It is then topped with meringue before baking and serving.

I quartered the recipe as this dessert is just for me - the icecream filling makes it impossible to transport.  I used one of the Wilton 6" layer cake pans that Kayte gave me for the base, which turned out to be the perfect size.

I enjoyed this dessert but found it to be very rich.  Even with the reduced size, half was too much for me.  There is also a lot of fussing involved in making this dessert and more washing up than I care for, so it won't be a regular at my place.

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

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:


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

1/3 cup brown sugar

100g butter, melted

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.