Saturday, October 29, 2016

Runya's Rooms, Melbourne

For my birthday, my old work chums and I went to Runya's Rooms in the new St Collins Lane shopping complex in the Melbourne CBD.  You can book in for a high tea at Runya's, and there are some beautiful cakes and pastries displayed in the window:

However, we were there for lunch, so something a little more substantial was called for.

Greg went for the minute steak sandwich with onion jam, gruyere, tomato, lettuce aioli and relish ($19) - it was hearty and tasty:

Justine went for the selection of sandwiches, which are the same as those served at high tea ($16):

Swee went for the mini lamb sliders with babaganoush, cucumber and tahini yoghurt ($15):

And I went for the magnificent looking hot smoked salmon, poached eggs, toasted rye, beetroot relish and dill hollandaise ($17):

Everyone was happy with their choice.  Service was efficient.

I would like to go back and try the high tea.

Shop rg03 St Collins Lane
260 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000

Thursday, October 27, 2016

EwE - Rosemary Potatoes - This Spud's For You

It's autumn (fall) in the US, so Kayte has chosen the seasonally appropriate theme of "This Spud's For You" for Eating with Ellie. Of course, potatoes are good at any time of the year, and in cool Melbourne, I am not dreaming of icecreams and seafood on the beach yet.

I made Ellie's Rosemary Potatoes from So Easy.  These potatoes are so easy to make - just chop red potatoes in half, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and rosemary, and et voila - a beautiful side dish is created.

To see what the others made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

TWD - Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

The second recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie this month is Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping.

This tart had a few components but was not hard to make.  First, you made a fully baked pie crust.  Next you cooked some pears for the filling and placed them in the tart.  This was a little time consuming because you had to peel, core and dice the pears first. Finally, the pie was topped with a topping of egg whites and sliced almonds, before being baked.  And lo, isn't it glorious:

This was one where the effort paid off.  This tart was glorious, and well worth making again:

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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dunkler Kirschkuchen (Spiced Chocolate Cherry Cake)

It is Tim's birthday today.  Originally, I wanted to make him a cake containing raspberries, but I didn't find anything that inspired me.  Instead, I turned to my newest baking book, Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss.  My mother's family were Germans and Prussians who emigrated to Australia in the 1870s, so I have a very strong interest in German baking as my way of connecting to them.  Luisa is an Italo-American who lived in Germany during part of her childhood and who married into a German baking family, hence the inspiration for her book.

The recipe that I chose to make for Tim is Dunkler Kirschkuchen (literally, a dark cherry cake).  I chose it because the flavours (chocolate, almond, cherry) sounded wonderful, I had all of the ingredients, and the  cake sounded festive enough to be a birthday cake (there is no photo of it in the book).

I made myself a cupcake to try:

The cupcake was slightly drier than I imagine the larger cake will be because I just approximated baking times (and talked on the phone while it was in there!), but the flavour was awesome - chocolatey, nutty and spicy (from the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg).  The toasted almonds gave the cake a lovely varied texture. 

The cake itself took around half an hour longer than the baking time stated in the book because the batter is very moist from the cherries - the middle took quite a while to set, hence my theory that the cake itself will be moister.  While baking, this cake smelled just like Christmas because of the lovely spices. 

Luisa said that this cake is usually only made in autumn or winter in Germany - that makes it perfect for this year's Melbourne spring.  The day I made this cake, it rained, hailed, shone and blew a gale in alternating cycles all day, and the temperatures were woefully cool for this time of year.

If you have a yen to make this cake, the ingredients are:

150g butter
100g toasted almonds (or toast them yourself for 10 minutes in the oven)
585g canned pitted sour cherries, drained (I just used a 500g bag of frozen cherries)
100g dark chocolate
150g sugar
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 pinch nutmeg
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line the base of a 9" springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or microwave and set aside.

Grind the almonds into a fine meal.

Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.

In another bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and lemon zest, then beat into the butter mixture until just combined.  Add the melted chocolate and fold in to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold firm peaks.  Fold one third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remainder of the whites until no white streaks remain.

Scrape the thick batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth over evenly.  Top the cake with the cherries, pressing down gently but do not press so hard that they sink into the batter.

Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through (mine took half an hour longer).  Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unclipping the springform collar and allowing the cake to cool completely on the wire rack.

You can serve this cake dusted with icing sugar and with sweetened whipped cream if you like.  I did neither, as I gave the whole cake to Tim simply placed on a homemade cake board and wrapped in gladwrap so that he could take it to share with his family for his birthday (which is today).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Donna Hay's Sticky Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Rice

Recently, Donna Hay Magazine celebrated its 15th birthday.  I couldn't resist buying the 15th anniversary edition, as it had a gorgeous white meringue covered cake on the cover.

I have tagged a few recipes, but the only one I have made so far is the Sticky Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Rice on p66.  I was intrigued by the meatballs because they contain panko breadcrumbs.

While I am not a huge lover of meatballs, I did like these.  The coconut rice was a lovely side dish to serve them with.

If you would like to make these Asian-inspired meatballs, you will need:

500g chicken mince
2 teaspoons chopped kaffir lime leaves
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil (I just used olive oil)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 cups cooked long grain rice
6 baby bok choy, halved and blanched
coriander to serve

Put the mince, kaffir lime leaves, breadcrumbs, ginger and half the oyster sauce into a bowl and mix to combine.  Roll tablespoonsful of the mixture into balls.

Heat the oil in a large  frypan, then add the meatballs and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning as necessary, until golden brown.  Add the water and the rest of the soy sauce and cook for a further 2-3minutes or until slightly reduced and sticky.

Stir the coconut milk through the hot rice.  Divide the rice between 4 plates, top with the meatballs and glaze, bok choy and coriander. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

EwE - Apple Brown Betty - An Apple A Day

Peggy has selected this week's Eating with Ellie theme, An Apple a Day.  Initially, I was going to go for a savoury recipe, but most of those were salads, and it was far from salad weather in grey, cold, rainy Melbourne.  Instead, I went for an intriguing recipe for Apple Brown Betty in So Easy.

This recipe was intriguing because the crumble on top of the Brown Betty was made primarily from brown bread crumbs, with crushed walnuts mixed in. 

I really liked this dessert - it was so light, and very tasty.  If you are an apple crumble fan but want to eat more healthily (ie keep off the butter), then this could be the dessert for you.

To see what the others made this week, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nigella's Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake

"Dark and Sumptuous" - don't those words draw you in, regardless of what they may be describing?  In this case, they refer to Nigella's Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake, and they make me automatically want to lick the spoon.  I got the recipe from Simply Nigella, but you can also find the recipe online here.  Even better, watch Nigella make it here.

If you ever wondered why it is called a "dark and sumptuous" chocolate cake, wonder no more:

The cake itself is flavoured with cocoa, not chocolate, while the icing does contain rich melted dark chocolate.  The cake contains coconut oil, while the icing contains coconut butter, which adds to the moistness and flavour of the cake.

Here's a peek inside the cake:

Don't let the requirement for coconut butter deter you - you can use margarine instead, and if coconut oil is not your thing, you can use a vegetable oil.

This was a gorgeous, easy to make cake, and I would definitely make it again.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cutler & Co, Fitzroy

For my birthday this year, Tim took me to Sunday lunch at Cutler & Co in Fitzroy.  The set Sunday lunch menu ($75) is meant for sharing, and it changes weekly.

Our seats were at the bar, which was perfect, because we could watch the kitchen team prepare the food.  It was pretty intricate labour in some cases, and it was amazing how fast they whipped up the dishes:

We started off our meal with a slightly bitter blood orange cocktail, which was devine:

For the appetisers, we started with prosciutto and pickle on rye crackers, and prawn crackers:

The other appetiser was radishes with fromage blanc, parmesan crackers and smoked fish roe:

Next  came some beautiful bread that we spread with some of the fromage blanc:

Our next dish was grilled asparagus with stracciatella and watercress:

This was followed by sea bream with ginger soy dressing and kohlrabi - the dressing was just devine, though when I tried to source the ginger vinegar that the chef told us was in the dressing, I balked at the $40 price tag:

The next dish was roasted celeriac with pickled shitaki:

followed by smoked duck with zucchini and preserved lemon:

For our main course, we decided to share the roast lamb:

which came with this side salad:

Our final course was dessert.  Tim chose the Earl Grey chocolate mousse with mandarin and yuzu curd:

while I went for the buttermilk panna cotta, rhubarb and plum blossom icecream:

I loved my dessert - the flavours and textures went together very well.

To finish off the meal, we received coffee and chocolates:

Here we are looking happy at Cutler & Co:

The service at Cutler & Co was very good - the staff were attentive, and the dishes moved quickly.  Because we were seated near the kitchen, some of the chefs even took the time to talk to us about the dishes.

I really enjoyed my experience at Cutler & Co, and would visit again.

55–57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy VIC
Ph: 03 9419 4888

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jamie Oliver's Mexican Pan Cooked Brekkie

On the weekends, I like to treat myself to a cooked breakfast.  Jamie's Every Day Super Foods has some terrific breakfast recipes, and they mainly use ingredients that I would normally have on hand, so it's no trouble to cook them.

A couple of weekends ago, I made Jamie's Mexican Pan Fried Brekky - Eggs, Beans, Tomatoes and Mushrooms.

You fry up some tomatoes and mushrooms, then crack eggs into the pan which you slosh around a bit so that the whites coat the pan and form a dish for the rest of the components, then add black beans and Worcestershire sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until the eggs are done the way you like them.  Breakfast is ready!

This is a lovely, healthy, hearty breakfast, and is also vegetarian.  It's a great way to start the day.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

TWD - Custardy Apple Squares

Oops!  I made my Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for this week - I just forgot to post about it.  Well, better late than never, I say.

I made the Custardy Apple Squares (I have also made the Pear Tart but you'll have to wait for that one!).  This little treat was dead easy to make, so long as you own a mandolin to slice the apples thinly.  It comprises sliced apples baked in a custard batter then cut into squares  - and that is it.

I really enjoyed these pleasant tasting custardy apple squares.  They were not fancy, but they were good.

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

EwE - Savoury Peach Chicken - It's Peachy!

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is It's Peachy!, chosen by me.

The obvious thing would have been to choose a sweet dish, but I went for savoury instead and chose Ellie's Savoury Peach Chicken.  Blame Blogger for the ridiculous angle of the photo for this post - I am sick of fighting with this flaw in the application.  Google, please put a photo rotation feature into Blogger.

This dish was terrific - very tasty, and I like the sweet and salty combination that comes with meat and fruit in a dish.  The sauce on its own is devine.  I served this dish with steamed broccoli  - easy and tasty.

To see what everyone else made for this week's theme, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Easy Chicken Bake by The Hairy Dieters

When looking for dinner inspiration, I took account of the fact that I had chicken breasts in the freezer, and hit The Hairy Dieters' Book 2, The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life, for recipes.  I found a recipe for Easy Chicken Bake, which is also online here.

As the Hairy Dieters say, this recipe is dead simple.  Toss some chopped zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, sweet potatoes and capsicum into a baking dish with a few chicken breasts, season with salt, pepper and chilli, and bake.  In no time at all, and with minimal effort, you end up with a healthy, satisfying meal.

This dish is the kind of thing that, for ease and results, could become a family favourite.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Walnut and Coffee Cake for Treena

Unfortunately, due to administrative arrangements at my Pilates clinic, I once again have to say goodbye to a Pilates instructor.  This time it was Treena, whose days are being swapped to fill in for someone else going on extended leave.

Treena has always been interested in and appreciative of my baking, so I baked her a cake all of her own for our last Monday class together - a Walnut and Coffee Cake from Lomelino's Cakes.

I wanted to try the cake myself, so I baked a cupcake-sized version for myself:

The cake was very light and not overly coffee-tasting:

However, the icing containing coffee and Kahlua was very coffee-tasting - perhaps a little too strong for my tastes.  Instead of making a ganache to decorate the cake, I mixed in some cocoa to the leftover buttercream and topped the swirls with walnut halves rather than malted milk balls:

The other changes that I made to the recipe were to not bother splitting the two layer cakes into two, so I had just two layers instead of four, and not including the cream in the frosting so that it had better keeping qualities.

To make this cake, you will need:

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and ground
1 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons hot water
230g butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line two 8" layer cake tins.

Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water and allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Pour the flour mixture and the ground walnuts into the batter and beat until well combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove the cakes from the oven, cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then unmould onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, dissolve two tablespoons of instant coffee powder in 1 tablespoon of hot water, then set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 150g of butter until almost white, then beat in 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, the cooled coffee mixture and 2 tablespoons of Kahlua. Beat until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake board or plate, and spread one third of the frosting over that layer.  Place the second cake layer on top of the iced layer, then spread the remainder of the frosting over the outside of the cake.  If you like, reserve about half a cup of frosting, stir in a tablespoon of cocoa, and place that icing into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe rosettes on top of the cake.  Top each rosette with half a walnut.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Zumbo Treats from Zumbo's Just Desserts

Zumbo's Just Desserts was a TV reality show about every day people making patisserie, being judged by Rachel Khoo and the master himself, Adriano Zumbo. It wasn't scintillating viewing - until towards the end, when there were fewer contestants and more crazy Zumbo tests, I found it quite slow and either skipped it or just watched bits and pieces while I channel surfed.

However, as you can imagine in a show featuring Adriano Zumbo, there were some amazing Zumbo creations that were set as Zumbo challenges in the elimination contests.  Miniature versions of these challenge creations were sold in Zumbo stores from Friday to Sunday following the show on which they were featured.   It was too expensive to buy all of them - these special creations cost from $11 to $15 a pop - but I couldn't resist trying a few when I was in the vicinity of a Zumbo store.  I wasn't greedy - I shared every single one of them with a friend.  That is why all of my photos were taken out and about - no styling here, and for one of them, I cut it in half with the cover off a magazine as that was the best I had.

At the top of this post is my personal favourite, the Golden Ducky, on cuteness factor alone.  This one comprised steamed gingerbread sponge, passionfruit peanut caramel, honeycomb mousse, peanut crumble sable, peanut butter cleam, passionfruit gel and honeycomb - oh, and a chocolate golden ducky!  It wasn't as impressive as the full-sized one on the show which bubbled with coconut bubbles created with dry ice, but it was still pretty impressive.

For week one of the show, I tried two of the three desserts. 

This one was called "Just a Stones Throw Away".  It was comprised of yuzu mousse, caramel hazelnut bavaroise, hazelnut dacquoise, yuzu caramel cremeux, salted mandarin caramel crème and mandarin gel.  These were the layers:

My second week one dessert was the Frankenzumbo:

This one comprised lemon tart, baked into a brownie, topped with a raspberry jam filled donut, all baked inside a pavlova, topped with vanilla chantilly and fresh strawberries, passionfruit and a macaron shell:

This one was pretty hard to cut in half, even with a plastic knife on a park bench, so it looks a little messy, but you get the idea.

And of course, I had to get the finale dessert, the Sugar & Spice: 

The fault in the glaze was not there in the shop - wherever it touched the box, the glaze came off.  This was comprised of brown sugar sponge, black tea muscovado brulee, 5 sugar mousse, coconut sugar & tonka rice pudding, maple caramel, soft honey nougat, spiced pear mousse, burnt butter panela, honey pear compote and a white glaze with a cinnamon friable pastry:

It was as light as a feather to eat - hoping that means it had no calories!  The chocolate petals and butterfly on top were a nice touch.

All of these desserts were pretty tasty, but as I said, I loved the Golden Ducky best because it was just so darn cute.

Hats off to Adriano Zumbo, who is amazingly creative to come up with all of these wacky, attractive and delicious desserts.  I don't have the patience to make such things, let alone anything else (umm, like actual talent), so it was fun to experience a slice of the Zumbo's Just Desserts action through Zumbo's stores.