Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chocolate, Fig and Ginger Fruit Mince

Christmas is coming, and it's time to get stuck into preparations for Christmas goodies.

I recently made Chocolate, Fig and Ginger Fruit Mince using this recipe.  It is now maturing so that it is ready to fill some yummy shortcrust pastry cases for fruit mince tarts.

Chocolate Fruit Mince is new to me, so I am looking forward to tasting the end result.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tonka, Melbourne

My friend J and her husband, S, were visiting Melbourne recently.  They had been going to go to the cancelled Stone concert at Hanging Rock, but those plans obviously changed.  It did give them the opportunity to eat at a few Melbourne establishments that they had been wanting to try out, and one of those was Tonka, in the CBD.  Tonka has Indian/ South East Asian fusion style cuisine.

I got there before my friends, so had the chance to check out the ambiance of the restaurant before it got too full:

I had a seat which had a pleasant view out the window to some green trees  - and off to the left, the freeway:

I had to eat and run because I was at work. However, I did get to try this starter, pani puri ($4.50 each):

They are crispy parcels filled with spiced potato, mung beans, date and tamarind chutney with aromatic water.  They were surprisingly refreshing.
J & S ordered this, which I think is the tuna tartare with rice pappadum, pomegranate, ginger and fresh wasabi ($22): 

I ordered chicken biryani  with Sella rice, saffron and cassia ($22):

It was delicious but rather hotter than I expected:

I also ordered the pappadums with tomato, coriander and red onion salsa at our waitress's suggestion for the salsa:

J & S also Hervey Bay scallops with spiced cauliflower, sweet peppers and pancetta ($6.50 each):

These are charred crystal bay prawns, mild machher curry sauce and crispy curry prawns ($18):

The last dish I saw that J & S ordered was burrata cheese, fresh coriander relish and charred roti ($22):

It all looks amazing! Unfortunately, I had to go back to work and leave them to it.

20 Duckboard Place
Melbourne 3000
Ph: +61 3 9650 3155

Friday, November 28, 2014

FFWD - Beatrix's Red Kuri Soup - sort of

This week's French Friday with Dorie recipe is Beatrix's Red Kuri Soup. One big issue is that I could not, even during the autumn/winter, find a Red Kuri Squash.  You can buy the seeds online here, but it seems that unless you grow Red Kuri Squash yourself, you can't acquire one.
Accordingly, one day in the autumn, I aw this adorable little pumpkin, and thought it might do:
As you see from the top of my post, it certainly made soup. However, as Dorie's recipe says to use the skin as well, I learned that this little pumpkin isn't quite the same as a Red Kuri Squash.  I assume that when you cook the skin of a Red Kuri Squash, it becomes soft, so that it can be processed up into the soup.  Not so the skin of this little darling: 

The skin stays hard, even after cooking, so when you process the soup, you gets hundreds of tiny gritty pumpkin skin pebbles all through your soup. 

Needless to say, that no matter how pretty my pumpkin, and how lovely the colour of the resulting soup, this was not a hit with me.

To see how Doristas who found a Red Kuri squash went with this soup, visit the LYL section of the website.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today is Thanksgiving in the US, so to celebrate with my US readers, I have made Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

The pumpkin bread recipe is here.  Instead of pumpkin pie spice, which is not sold readily in Australia, I used a teaspoon of ginger and a quarter teaspoon of cloves.  Also, canned pumpkin is hard to get and very expensive here, so I made my own pumpkin puree.

Instead of using the caramel flavoured buttercream from the pumpkin bread recipe, I made cream cheese frosting using this recipe.

The end result was a lovely, moist, lightly spiced cake that smelled like magic while it was baking:

I adore pumpkin baked goods, and I would definitely make this again.

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WWDH - Pad Thai

"There's no time to lose", I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away

Ruby Tuesday, Jagger/Richards
Last night I saw the movie A Long Way Down at the British Film Festival.  It is about four people who meet at the top of a building known colloquially as "Topper's Tower", who were there separately on New Years Eve to top themselves.  However, they make a pact not to do the deed until Valentines Day.  The movie is a little more uplifting than this premise sounds, but it reminded me of the above words from Ruby Tuesday - that we should catch our dreams before they slip away.
All of that has nothing to do with this week's Wednesday with Donna Hay dish, Pad Thai, chosen by Margaret.  The recipe is from p133 of Modern Classics I, but is also online here.
This dish is simple enough to make.  Donna says to use shrimp paste, which I did - but boy, does it stink.  It is a bit of a turn off and I have no idea what to do with the rest of it.  However, the Pad Thai tasted good, shrimp paste and all.
To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought of this dish, visit their websites.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TWD - Cranberry Crackle Tart

For our second Baking Chez Moi TWD recipe, our assignment was Cranberry Crackle Tart.  This tart comprises a shortcrust shell, filled with a layer of jam, and topped with meringue mixed with fresh or frozen cranberries. 

Sadly, cranberries, whether fresh or frozen, are not easily acquired in Australia.  I read online that cherries might be a good substitute for the cranberries, so that is what I used.  They are bigger than cranberries, so my tart is a bit lumpier than the one in the book, but it tasted pretty good:

A lot of people at work complimented me on it, which rarely happens because I bake so often, so this recipe obviously hit the spot.

To see what the other TWD bakers thought of this recipe, visit the LYL section of the website.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Karen Martini's Red Velvet Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Recently, The Age Good Food ran a piece on Karen Martini's new cookbook, and published her recipe for red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow frosting.  Now, these little cupcakes looked so cute that I had to make them - and besides, red velvet is always a hit.

Here's a peek inside the finished product:

My frosting doesn't look like the photo, but then again, food stylists have a way with their subjects that I cannot hope to match.  I found the frosting quite sticky and therefore not that easy to work with.

These cupcakes were good; however, my favourite red velvet cake remains that of Libby Summers, with its moist decadent cake topped with cream cheese frosting.  However, these were fun to make, and tasted good.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From Paris to Provence - Como House, South Yarra

Yesterday, I went with Vanda, Sandra and Lee to Paris to Provence, a French Festival held in the grounds of Como House, South Yarra.

We went early so that we had an easy time moving about early on:

Believe me, this was packed within a couple of hours. 

There were craft and homewares stalls, and then my favourite - loads and loads of food.

There were crepes:

and macarons and pastries:

and small goods:

and cheese:

and pate:

and alcohol:

Here are some industrious workers making crepes (I bought one with salted caramel and sea salt - yum):

There were also colourful characters roaming the grounds, including this guy (pictured with Sandra and Lee's Yorkie, Zelda), who rode a unicycle:

And these courtesans from Versailles (who were very funny and adored Zelda):

and a Poirot clown on stilts:

In addition to my crepe, I bought this crème brulee from the Choukette stand:

and (L to R from top L): date, walnut and apricot loaf from Brasserie Bread, a fennel infused salami from Salumi, coffee caramel from Caramelicious, an almond croissant for Tim from one of the onsite coffee stands,  mustard and black balsamic cream from Steph's Gourmet Foods, and a from Bean to Bar 70% dark chocolate bar from Monsieur Truffe:

We also picked up a free cheese show bag from President Cheese, featuring camembert, brie, muscatels, lavosh crackers and a slice of date and pistachio roulade:

All in all, it was a fun and fabulous day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dan Lepard's Caramel Christmas Cake

Christmas is nearly here - I don't know how the year passed by so quickly, but it did.   It's time to start thinking seriously about your Christmas menu, and of course, your Christmas bakes.

I got organised and made my Christmas cake in October so that it can mature before Christmas.  This year's Christmas cake recipe comes from Dan Lepard via The Guardian - a Caramel Christmas Cake.  The recipe is online here.

The word "caramel" had me in immediately with this cake.  What's not to like?  The fruit component is currants, raisins, prunes and glace cherries.  This makes it slightly cheaper than fruit cakes with the full range of glace fruits.
The cake was a dream to bake, and came out looking and smelling beautiful.  I won't be cutting it until Christmas, so I can't give you a peek inside, but I think the outside is persuasive enough.  If you need more convincing, just read the first paragraph of the recipe - it's got caramel in it!
Are you baking a cake this Christmas?

Friday, November 21, 2014

FFWD - Storzapretis

This week's French Friday with Dorie dish was a bit of an enigma - Storzapretis.  I had no idea what this was, but Dorie has helpfully subtitled it as Corsican ricotta and mint gnocchi.

I had read that this takes a while to make, and it does - you have to make your ricotta, spinach and mint gnocchi then freeze it for a while (not to mention the half an hour it took to make 34 quinelles of ricotta):

I was worried about mine falling apart while being boiled, after reading the other Doristas experiences, so I took a leaf from Adriana's book and just baked mine from frozen for 35 minutes:

It looks like a splodgy mess, but it tastes great!  I was worried about the mint, but it somehow went with the dish.
To see what the other Doristas made of Storzapretis, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolate Cake with Vegemite Caramel Buttercream

As regular readers will know, I have an eye for the unusual, so when I was asked to make chocolate cake, I wasn't going to make any old chocolate cake - it had to be different.  The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook stepped in with a recipe for Chocolate Cake with Marmite Caramel Buttercream.  You can find the recipe online here.

Aussies don't do marmite, so I substituted vegemite for the marmite.  It sounds weird, but think salted caramel, and that's what the vegemite does:

This cake is very tasty, if a tad sweet because of the frosting.  I made only half the frosting which was sufficient to do the cake.  The trick with the frosting is to work with it fast because it sets up quickly - I ended up moulding it around my cake rather than spreading it (which works just fine, in case you were wondering).

If you have chocolate cake fans to please and want to add an element of mystery to your creation, try this cake recipe - it's good. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WWDH - Balsamic and Tomato Roast Chicken

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, I selected Donna's Balsamic and Tomato Roast Chicken from p99 of Off the Shelf.  At the time it seemed like a good idea, then I didn't want to make it.  However, I am glad that I stuck to my guns and I did make it, because it was delish!

This dish could not be simpler to make.  You can find the recipe online here
There is no fussy pre-cooking of anything - it is basically a one pot dish.  Put slices of eggplant in the bottom of a greased roasting dish, put a chicken breast on top of each eggplant slice, and dress with a tomato, balsamic, caper and olive oil sauce.  Put in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes and voila - dinner is served:

Donna suggest serving this dish with an arugula salad - that is not my thing, so I served it with stir fried veges instead.  Nom!

My fellow WWDH cooks are Margaret, Chaya and Sarah - go see if they made it too.

I have been a busy little blogger lately, so I am sharing with you a brief montage of my adventures.  I saw The Rolling Stones in their 14 On Fire Tour at Rod Laver Arena:


I was in awe of Mick's voice and flexibility at age 71, and of Ronnie's glittery red shoes.

I also saw Katy Perry at Rod Laver Arena:

Yep, that's her singing into a sunflower, not that you can see from the photo.  The pretty lights struck me, as did Katy's many costume changes - just like a real life Anime feature.

I also went to see What We Did on Our Holiday at The British Film Festival at Palace Como:


Loved that movie - it makes you laugh and cry, and it features David Tennant - what more could you want?  This cool Union Jack mini was in the foyer of Como to celebrate the Festival.

Enjoy the rest of your week.