Monday, November 28, 2016

Thai Style Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

I recently made a very good Thai Style Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry from this recipe on Well Nourished.  The original recipe is vegetarian, but the author discusses adding meat to it.

The sauce is really quite good, but I did find it a tad garlicky.  next time, I'd ramp down the garlic.

The great thing is that even though you have to take the time to make the sauce, it makes enough for two stir fries.  This means that you can put the leftovers into the freezer for another day - fabulous!  I like recipes where the hard work pays off like that.

If you like stir fry and you enjoy Asian flavours, this healthy recipe is worth trying out. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Abbey of the Roses, Warwick, Queensland

A few weeks ago, my family went to Abbey of the Roses in Warwick for  morning tea and a tour.

The Abbey of the Roses was a former Sisters of  Mercy nunnery, and was built in 1891.  It was in the hands of  the nuns until the late 1980s, when it was sold, and has gone through several iteration in that time.  Its current owners bought the Abbey and restored it to its former glory as far as possible, although previous owners had irreversibly destroyed certain aspects of the interior.

The Abbey is huge, so its owners run it as accommodation, a wedding venue and conduct tours to help pay for its upkeep.

My mother booked us in to the morning tea, which comes with scones, jam and cream with tea or coffee.  This is a glimpse of the tea room, which used to be a school and dining room for the girls taught by the nuns:

Here is our table's tea tray, laden with scones:

Mmm, a half scone with jam and cream:

The resident cat came to check out my Mum:

then jumped onto the lap of the lady sitting next to me - clearly, it's a shy cat:

After morning tea, the owner of the Abbey takes you on a tour of the downstairs areas (not the upstairs accommodation), with patter about the history of the Abbey and the renovations along the way:

This is the restored chapel, one of my favourite parts of the Abbey:

Look at the gorgeous stained glass windows, which were made in Germany and shipped to Australia in treacle for protection:

There are also extensive gardens surrounding the Abbey that you can walk through after the tour - this large pepper tree is one of the most striking features:

If you happen to be on the Darling Downs in your travels, it is worth making a visit to the Abbey of the Roses - but do remember to book (you can't walk in).

8 Locke Street
Cnr Dragon
Warwick QLD Australia
Ph: (61) 7 4661 9777

Friday, November 25, 2016

Chili Con Carne Sausage Rolls

For our Movember morning tea last week, I also made Beef and Bean Sausage Rolls from the Bourke St Bakery Cookbook.  These sausage rolls are inspired by chili con carne.

I was glad I made these, as they were the sole savoury offering on our morning tea menu, and they went quickly.  If I say so myself, they were delicious.  It also used up the puff pastry living in my freezer, taking up precious space. 

The recipe for these sausage rolls is as follows:

1/2 of a 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
20ml olive oil
3 chopped garlic cloves
2 small red chillies, deseeded and  finely chopped
1 chopped brown onion
500g beef mince
30g dry breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
3 sheets store-bought ready-rolled puff pastry

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
chilli flakes, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, chillies and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the kidney beans stir together for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Put the bean mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the beef, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix for 3 minutes to thoroughly combine.

Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg, milk and a pinch of salt. 

Take a pastry sheet and cut it in half so that you have two long rectangles.

Divide the beef mixture into six even-sized portions. On a clean work surface, roll each portion out into a log. Place each log in the centre of a pastry sheet and brush one long edge with egg wash. Firmly fold the pastry over, pressing to enclose, leaving the ends open. Cut each roll into 3-4 pieces and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Brush the top of each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Bake for 35-40 mins, or until they are golden brown.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

EwE - Asian Noodle Bowl - Fowl Weather

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is Fowl Weather, chosen by Kayte.  You might not be able to see it, but there is chicken in the dish that I chose, being the Asian Noodle Bowl

This is a terrific dish, because it is full of vibrant, fresh vegetables to go with the soba noodles (I used wholemeal spaghetti, being the alternative) and chicken.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TWD - Apple Speculoos Crumble

The second Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking Chez Moi this month is Apple Speculoos Crumble.  This is apple crumble with a twist - namely, that the crumble is made from crumbled speculoos biscuits and butter.

I used gingernut biscuits instead of speculoos, as I already had them in the house.  I also used the optional nuts with the apple, in my case, almonds.  I made two ramekin sized serves instead of one big one.

This  dessert was OK, but I think I like traditional apple crumble better. 

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Moustaches for Movember

This month is Movember.  During Movember, guys grow 'taches for money to raise funds for the Movember Foundation to address some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

My work has a fundraising team, and I decided to help out by organising a Movember morning tea, entry by gold coin donation.

One of my contributions to the morning tea was Red Velvet Cupcakes, made from the Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet recipe.  I halved the recipe to make 15 cupcakes: 

To make my cupcakes Movember-fit, I adorned them with moustache faces. I iced the top of the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream (my usual Primrose Bakery recipe), then topped that with rounds of white fondant.  I then made the 'taches from rolled black fondant:

It was a little fiddly, but I think they look great.

We raised $62.40 for our Movember team, which is a good outcome as we only have a small office and a lot of people were away on the day.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

EwE - White Turkey Chili - Chili Today, Hot Tamale

For Eating with Ellie this week, the theme is Chili Today, Hot Tamale, chosen by Peggy.  I made Ellie's White Turkey Chili

This dish is meant to be all white - however, it is too hard to get white corn here, so I just used the regular kind.

I thought this was quite tasty - not much else to say about it because it is what it says on the tin.

Chili is welcome in these parts at the moment, because while it might officially be mid-spring, the weather is stuck firmly in July.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TWD - Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

For my second Dorie's Cookies recipe, I have made the Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.  if you thought that these looked like Oreos, you are right - Oreos were the inspiration for Dorie's recipe.

I personally think these cookies are much nicer than Oreos.  They are not as sweet - in fact, they were not high on the sweetness factor at all, just delightfully chocolatey.  The filling was lovely too - half a tablespoon in each cookie is all that you need, and I found that even when I ate a cookie before chilling that the filling was thick enough not to squeeze out.  I made a half batch, which still seemed to make a lot of cookies!

I am giving my cookies to the receptionist at my Pilates clinic to celebrate her finishing her music degree.  I have a small embossed roller featuring music notes that I bought at The Cake Bake and Sweets Show this year, so I ran it over the cookie dough before baking so that my cookies are personalised for the recipient.  I found that the embossing worked best when I pressed a little more firmly (the first batch are not as distinct with the embossing).

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

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Grossi Florentino, Melbourne

For Tim's birthday this year, his choice for dinner was a Melbourne institution, Grossi Florentino, which serves an Italian inspired menu.  We went to Grossi Florentino Upstairs, the swish fine dining section:

Service is done the old fashioned way - you are referred to as "sir" or "madam", as the case may be, and you are waited on very attentively.  There is a stool for your handbag, and crumbs are vacuumed off the white linen tablecloth between courses with what looks like a gold cigarette case.

The side plate at Grossi Florentino reflects parts of the 1933 murals painted on the walls of the restaurant:

Soon after being seated, we were served with a couple of amuse bouche - the first being salmon:

and the second, being almost too pretty to eat, clams: 

We were also served bread with a choice of butter, balsamic butter or oil (the balsamic butter was dreamy):

At Tim's option, we went a la carte - 3 courses for $140.

For entrée, Tim chose the risotto con gamberi (prawns, saffron, zucchini):

while I went for the mud crab (mandarin, radish, bunya nut, buckwheat) - primarily because I was curious what they did with the bunya nut - it is not a strong flavour so I didn't really notice it in the dish:

Again, it was such a pretty dish.

For main, Tim went with a special - slow cooked wagyu:

I went for the John Dory - kale, macadamia, saffron and celeriac:

The kale is the green swishes on the plate.  The little splodges on top of the fish are nduja, a spreadable salami.  This dish was very light and enjoyable - I was happy with my choice, and a light meal helps you to manage three courses.

Before dessert, we were served a palate cleanser in the form of coffee sorbet on milk foam:

For dessert, I couldn't go past the chocolate soufflé - I have never had a soufflé that I didn't make myself before, and I really enjoyed it, particularly with the lashings of chocolate sauce: 

Tim's dessert was the showpiece - the Sfera alla Fragole, a magical dome with fermented strawberries, meringue, yoghurt sorbet and marscapone:

With coffee, we were served another magical dome:

This one was filled with sweets:

What a terrific dinner!  We loved our Grossi Florentino experience.

80 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9662 1811

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Strawberry Cream Cake for The Melbourne Cake Club - Springtime

On Thursday night, seven members of The Melbourne Cake Club met at Lady Grange in St Kilda to celebrate Springtime and eat cake.

My cake was a Strawberry Cream Cake decorated with a flower and spring-coloured decorations.

The recipe for my cake came from Christine McConnell's Deceptive Desserts, which was a birthday present this year.  The book is gorgeous and the cakes spookily sensational.  However, I am largely going to use the book for its unusual cake and icing recipes, as there is very little guidance in the book as to how to go about assembling Christine's detailed creations.  The cake layers contain fresh strawberries and strawberry jelly crystals:

as does the icing:

Instead of decorating my cake as in the book, I left the strawberry icing as the outer layer, and stuck non-pariels over the top of the cake, and positioned coloured cachous around the outer edge.  I finished it off with a sugar rose:

This is what the finished cake looks like inside:

To make the strawberry cream cake, you will need:

225g butter
2 1/2 cups plain flour (I used gluten free flour)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons strawberry jelly crystals
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in it)
2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line 3 x 9" cake tins.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined.  Add the melon juice and vanilla and beat well.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, jelly crystals, baking soda and salt.  Add the flour mix and buttermilk to the cake batter alternately, starting and ending with flour, and beat on low speed until combined.  Fold in the strawberries by hand with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the three cake tins and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes before unmoulding and immediately wrapping in cling film, and refrigerate until chilled.

For the icing:

1 cup fresh strawberries
250g softened butter
4 cups icing sugar (I accidentally only used 3 and it worked fine)
2 tablespoons strawberry jelly crystals
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Hull the strawberries and blend to a puree in a food processor.  Put the puree in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half.

Cream the butter in a stand mixer, then add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, until well combined.  Add the jelly crystals, vanilla and salt and beat well.  Add the cooled strawberry reduction and beat until combined.

Decorate the cakes as you want to!

The other array of springtime cakes at The Melbourne Cake Club were:

Lavender Marble Cake by Judy

Mango Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting by Nicole

Orange Blossom Cake by Abi

Ricotta Cheesecake by Sue

Vanilla Cake with Blueberries and Lemon by Karen

White Chocolate Cake with Rose Flavoured White Chocolate Buttercream and Modelling Chocolate Roses by Dalya.

If you are in Melbourne and would like to join The Melbourne Cake Club, you can - our Facebook page is here and our Meetup page is here. We meet on the second Thursday night of each month from 8pm to 9.30pm at various venues.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

EwE - Spaghetti Frittata - Perfect Pasta

I chose this week's Eating with Ellie theme of Perfect Pasta.  Pasta is not one of my favourite foods, but I guess at the time of choosing the theme, I was trying to be alliterative.  Don't get me wrong - pasta is OK - but it is not something I ate much of growing up, hence I would not miss it much if I never had it.

The recipe that I chose is Ellie's Spaghetti Frittata.  Granted, this dish does not look very attractive - the spaghetti makes it look like something from a Halloween party - but it tastes really good.

The frittata contains spaghetti, spinach, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese.  I'd probably replace the sun-dried tomatoes with fresh cherry tomatoes if I made this again, as I found the strong flavour of the sun-dried tomatoes a little out of place here.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TWD - Caramel Tart

It's Tuesday with Dorie, and this month, for my first recipe, I chose the Caramel Tart.  It's basically a caramel custard baked inside Dorie's sweet shortcrust pastry.

Yeah nah - mine doesn't look anything like the pretty food stylist's photograph on the Web:

When I re-read the recipe, I realised that the two separate layers resulted from leaving the foam on the filling of the tart.  Despite my tart being somewhat of an ugly duckling, it tasted good.  I liked it slightly warm, and it was even better when I did what I was told and allowed it to chill completely.

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