Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TWD - Nun's Beignets

Our last Tuesday with Dorie recipe for this month is nun's beignets (also known as the poetically named nun's farts).  For the uninitiated, these are little donuts made from choux pastry rather than bread dough.  When cooked properly, the choux expands and there is a cavity in the middle of each beignet.

Now that I have told you what is supposed to happen, let me tell you about my beignets.  I had a terrific lesson in how and how not to make beignets, all in the one night.

I made a half batch of dough, not wanting to have too many beignets in the house.  I don't have a deep fryer, so I had to rely on oil warmed on the stovetop in a saucepan.  This makes temperature regulation quite tricky.

The first three beignets I made were quite good.  They were maybe a little dark, and they seemed to take ages to puff up to the point where they split (which is how you know they are ready), but overall, the finished product was as it should be with a golden outside encasing a chasm (evidence of the fart?).

The next three went very, very dark and never did split.  When I bit into one, the centre did not have a cavity, but had a cooked, custardy middle that reminded me of a cannelle.  Tick, tick, even though it wasn't quite right.

The very last beignet, which was cooked on its lonesome, was a disaster.  It also went very dark, almost to the point of black, and still it did not split.  I made the mistake of eating this number, and wished immediately that I had just thrown it out.  The middle was dense and leaden, the outside tasted burned, and was also bitter because the oil had obviously turned after being heated for so long.

I did try to reduce the heat to the oil during the cooking process, but to no avail - it really is difficult to regulate the temperature of oil on my gas stove.

I found the whole experience rather educational, if not actually all that successful. I now understand why Dorie said you have to cook the beignets until they split, because until they do, they remain rather dense in the middle, and can be downright unpleasant.

I realise that the results of my experiments, were due to my own (and my stove's) shortcomings, but I won't be making these again soon.  On the upside, I know that done well, beignets are delicious, and I would buy them in a heartbeat if I saw them (which is unlikely on Australian streets).

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bistro D'Orsay, Melbourne

Tim and I celebrated Valentine's Day on the Friday afterwards by going to dinner at Bistro D'Orsay.  I have always wanted to eat there, but this was entirely Tim's idea.  It was a great pick!!!

Bistro D'Orsay, at the "Paris" end of Collins Street, conjures up the dark, smoky atmosphere that I imagine would have existed in old-time Paris (an image gleaned from historically accurate films like Midnight in Paris and Moulin Rouge): 

I really liked the interior, and especially loved the gorgeous mural painted on the ceiling.

Tim was shouting me for Valentine's Day (aww, I am lucky), so he insisted that we have three courses.  At the start of the meal, this seemed easily achievable, but by the end, all I can say is that thank goodness I have a separate dessert stomach.

For starter, I selected the brandied duck liver pate with cornichons to share ($17.50):

Whether you would enjoy this depends on whether you are a pate person or not.  I am in the "yes" camp, so the smooth, luxuriously rich pate, smothered on slices of soft baguette, and topped by a contrasting slightly sour, tangy cornichon, was devine. 

Next came the mains.  Tim ordered the pan seared barramundi with kipfler potatoes, and orange, fennel and rocket salad, and a saffron beurre blanc (Manu would approve that there was "sauce") ($36.50):

For me, it was steak frites ($27.50) all the way - you can't beat the classics:

The steak was juicy and tender, the frites cooked to just the right state of crispiness, and when slathered with a little of that garlic butter (not all of it!!) - just heaven.

Now by this stage, I was groaning, especialy as they had topped up the bread for the starter as we still had pate left.  However, being the stoic individuals that we are, we moved into dessert.

I ordered the warm rhubarb frangipani (a tart) with almond icecream and rhubarb compote ($17.50):

This dessert was nice, but not a patch on Tim's dessert, the Pear Tarte Tatin with Roasted Almond Icecream ($17.50):

I was lucky enough to be able to have a taste of this, and it was just beautiful - buttery, melt in your mouth puff pastry topped with golden caramel coated pears.  Mwah!

The service was attentive and efficient - just the way I like it.

Tim gave me this lovely tin of truffles from Haighs:

And I gave Tim this teddy bear from Burch and Purchese (said teddy bear insisted on falling off his mount, so after the warnings from the lady in the shop, I was terrified of smashing him before giving him to Tim):

It was a super Valentine's week for us.

184 Collins Street
Phone: +61 (03) 9654 6498

Saturday, February 25, 2017

White Chocolate Malteser Cheesecake

Ok folks, hold onto your waistlines, because the recipe I am sharing today is for White Chocolate Malteser Cheesecake.  While this cheesecake may not exactly be good for your diet, it is good for your soul, and I am coming round to the belief more and more as I get older that having a little bit of what you fancy really oils the wheels of life.

Frankly, what is not to love here - white chocolate, Maltesers, cheesecake, with a chocolate ripple biscuit base.  I mean - how delicious does that sound?  And this cheesecake delivers on its promise.

I made this cheesecake not once, but twice.  My mother told me about the recipe in her local newspaper, The Toowoomba Chronicle, so I tracked it down.  Then, when I went home to visit my mum, she had bought the ingredients to make it.  Cheesecake #1.  I returned to my place, where I had also bought the ingredients to make this cheesecake, and there we have it.  Cheesecake #2.

I decorated my cheesecake with edible flowers from my very own balcony garden, which continues to defy my neglectful gardening habits.

Here is cheesecake #1, made at mum's:

This cheesecake is smooth, creamy, surprisingly not too sweet, and the base is lovely and dense and chocolatey.

The recipe for this cheesecake, if you dare to try it, is as follows:


250g packet chocolate ripple biscuits
12 pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
180g walnuts

 Grease and line the base of a 9" springform pan.  Blitz the chocolate ripple biscuits into crumbs, then add the dates, walnuts and coconut oil (or butter), and blitz until combined.  (Make sure your food processor has a decent capacity and plenty of grunt.)  Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly over the base and up the sides of the pan.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.


500g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar (I reduced it to 1/2 cup without incident)
200mls thickened cream (I used light cream, also with no ill effect)
400g white chocolate, melted
250g Maltesers, halved
1/4 cup boiling water
3 teaspoons gelatine

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a stand mixer until smooth.  Add the cream and beat until well combined.

In a small cup, add the boiling water to the gelatine and stir until smooth.  Add the gelatine mixture to the cream cheese mixture, and beat until thoroughly mixed in.

Stir the white chocolate and Maltesers through the cheese mixture, then pour into the chilled base.  Refrigerate the cheesecake until set (I found that three hours was plenty, but to be safe, leave it overnight).

Eat and enjoy the fuel for your soul.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

EwE - Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage - Travel to the Orient

For Eating with Ellie this week, Margaret chose the theme of Travel to the Orient.  I am off to China this week (at least in a Westernised sense) with my Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage.

This was pretty tasty - brown rice, prawns, cabbage, ginger, shallots, soy sauce, sesame seeds.  I made it and froze it for work lunches.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TWD - Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart

The second cookie recipe for Dorie's Cookies this month is Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart.  The idea is to make two huge chocolate heart shaped cookies and little ones with the scrap dough, and for the two large cookies to be shared.

However, in my universe, people would not dig the concept of sharing a cookie with other people.  To avoid this potential awkwardness, I just made a half batch of smaller heart shaped cookies.  I ended up with 13 cookies.

Maybe it was the hot weather, but some of my cookies spread so much in the oven that they no longer resembled hearts.  The remainder looked a whole lot better once they had been iced and sprinkled with sanding sugar and non pariels.

I think that these cookies ended up looking very cute.  I couldn't resist posing my mini kewpie and my brand new Valentine's edition Sonny Angel with these cookies.  They are just adawbs and perfect for setting the Valentine's Day mood.  I made these cookies and took them to work on Valentine's Day - I think people may have found it a bit weird if I had brought in a batch of heart shaped cookies at any other time.

The cookies themselves were surprisingly delicious - the chocolate flavour comes from cocoa, but the cookies are quite chocolatey and are light and buttery.

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seasons on Ruthven, Toowoomba

On a recent visit to my mother, our family went to dinner at Seasons on Ruthven, the restaurant attached to the Ambassador motel.  It was a very warm night, and we were lucky enough to be seated out on the balcony:

where we could watch the summer sun set:

My mother is a fan of herb and garlic bread, so we ordered the garlic, herb and parmesan baguette ($10):

The balsamic vinegar drizzled on top of this baguette was a delicious touch.  Our waitress was disappointed that we did not try the edible marigolds.

For main, my mother ordered a special of the day, almond crusted barramundi served with vegetables and tartare sauce ($27):

My brother also ordered from the specials, in his case, chicken breast with cherry sauce ($27):

I ordered off the menu - the pan seared pork fillet with apricot and prune grand marnier glaze, parmesan baked potatoes, almond broccolini, baby carrots, and of course, the ubiquitous edible marigold ($34):

I can't comment on anyone else's dishes other than to say that they were routinely well presented.

My meal was absolutely scrumptious - I adore meat and fruit together, and the pork was cooked to perfection.  However, after deciding to try the edible marigold, I can say that I am not a fan - it has a very grassy flavour that was not appealing to me.

The staff were very friendly and efficient, and of course, our table overlooking the sunset was just lovely.  I would definitely go to Seasons again.

Ambassador on Ruthven
Best Western Plus Motel
200 Ruthven Street Toowoomba
Ph: 07 4637 6800

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Banana Oat Smoothie

This month's recipe on the Red Tractor calendar is a Banana and Oat Smoothie.  Here is the accompanying calendar illustration and quote:

I can't say that I had ever had a smoothie before, and I was a little hesitant to make it.  However, I went ahead with it, and while it tasted OK, I can't say that I enjoy the smoothie texture. Drinking something so thick just feels wrong to me.

However, if you are a smoothie fan, this one does taste good, so you may enjoy this recipe:

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup low fat Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 banana, cut into thirds
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

EwE - Chicken Marsala - Your Heart's Desire

Kayte chose the theme of Your Heart's Desire to coincide with Valentines Day for Eating with Ellie this week.  I interpreted this to mean that I could make whatever I wanted to.  Where I took the theme is - if I was cooking Valentines Day dinner for my beloved, what would I make from Ellie's repertoire? 

I chose Ellie's Chicken Marsala from Comfort Food Fix.  It tastes a little bit naughty but is actually very nice, given its Ellie makeover.  The sauce is thick and sweet, containing marsala and mushrooms.  I served my chicken marsala with boiled beans and carrots that had been sexed up with a splosh of cream.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TWD - Sunday in Paris Cake

Happy Valentines Day!  For the Valentines edition of Tuesdays with Dorie, I have chosen to make Sunday in Paris Cake - and why not.  It's a little like a Snickers without the caramel - chocolate, peanuts, peanut butter, more chocolate - hey. what's not to love.

Assuming that your beloved likes their chocolate not too sweet, then this cake could be the perfect treat to capture their heart this Valentines Day:

Personally, I really liked this cake.  It wasn't overly sweet, which was a huge plus for me, and of course I am a fan of chocolate.  It wasn't a moist cake, but nor was it dry and crumbly.

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Vegetable Frittata

If you are looking for a delicious portable dish containing lots of vegetables for lunch, you can't go past a Vegetable Frittatta.  I shy away a little from frittatas because I have eaten some rather dry, rubbery affairs in my time, but a recipe in last month's Taste magazine  was bright, colourful, fluffy, not dry and packed full of veggies.  It tasted fab too.  I sliced it into the 4 servings recommended and took it into work for lunch.

To make this vegetable frittata, you will need:

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced
200g broccoli, cut into florets
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (I didn't have any so left them out)
2 tablespoons fresh basil
70g feta
150g halved cherry tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Line a 16cm x 26cm slice pan with baking paper.

Steam the asparagus for two minutes until tender crisp. Refresh under cold water, drain, and coarsely chop broccoli.

Whisk the eggs, milk, herbs and two thirds of the feta in a large bowl.  Add the vegetables and fold through the egg mixture.  Pour into the lined pan, and arrange halved tomatoes and feta on top.  

Bake the frittata for 25-30 minutes or until set in the middle.  Cool, then cut into 4 pieces to serve.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hummingbird Cake

I subscribe to Taste magazine, and I enjoy flicking through it, even if I don't make anything out of it.

Last month, there was a lovely Hummingbird Cake that claimed to be healthier than your usual version.  It looked so enticing, I decided to dive in and make it.

I wasn't disappointed - this was a lovely cake.  I will admit to not liking the icing without icing sugar as much, but as a healthier alternative that still tastes good, I'd go with it.

To make this Hummingbird Cake, you will need:

1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cups dessicated coconut
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
100ml olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
440g crushed pineapple in juice, drained

200g light cream cheese
1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
3 teaspoons honey
grated rind of 1 lime (I omitted this)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 22cm springform pan with baking paper.

Combine the flour, oats, coconut, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

In a jug, mix together with yoghurt, oil, eggs, honey and vanilla, then pour into the well in the dry ingredients.  Fold the ingredients together to combine.  

Place the mixture into the prepared springform pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in the pan for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake is cooled, to make the frosting, put the cream cheese, yoghurt, honey and  lime rind )if using) into a bowl and beat together with a spoon until smooth.  (I used a hand held mixer in the end, as the cream cheese was quite lumpy).  Spread the frosting over the top of the cake, and decorate with toasted coconut and lime zest if desired.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

EwE - Mango Stuffed Challah French Toast - Stuff It!

For Eating with Ellie this week, Peggy chose the theme of Stuff It!  I lucked in, because I have just bought a new Ellie book that had the perfect recipe in it. 

I already owned two Ellie books, but because Ellie is not well known in Australia, her books are not readily available other than through mail order sites, and they are expensive - $40 plus a book.  However, one day a couple of weeks ago, I just happened to wander into The Book Grocer on Bourke Street at lunch time.  The Book Grocer sells remainders for $10 each.  I was really just passing time when I ran my eyes over the shelves - and lo, there was a stack of Ellie's Comfort Food Fix.  Bonus!!  I clarified the price ($10!) and I was sold.   Some of the other Ellie cooks have used this book and I knew it had some great recipes, so I am so pleased to add it to my collection.

For the Stuff It! theme, there is a recipe in Comfort Food Fix for Mango Stuffed Challah French Toast.  Perfect!!  I already had the mango (it is summer here), although I had to buy the cheeses and the bread.  I hit a snag with the challah, because I tried 4 supermarkets and no-one had it.  My local Woolworths normally sells challah, but of course, when I went to buy it, they did not have it.  Having already done the rounds of supermarkets near where I work the day before, I was not going to walk miles up the road to see if Glicks, the Jewish bakery, was open on a public holiday, so I looked around for alternatives.  I chose a pane di casa, which to my surprise was a very nice loaf, even though it was the supermarket's own brand.

I made this for brekky the next day before work (yep, I did!! so quick), and loved it.  When Ellie says that it is ambrosial, I'd have to agree with her.  A thick slice of bread has a pocket cut into it, which is stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, ricotta, diced mango, honey and cinnamon.  It is then pan-fried in egg and milk.  You are supposed to top the whole thing off with maple syrup, but I forgot, and anyway, it didn't need it - the French toast is just the perfect amount of sweet as is.

While I don't think it would be wise to eat this every day, despite it being lower calorie than regular French toast, it was delicious, and perfect as a sometimes treat.  When mangoes are out of season, I think tinned peaches would be a fine substitute (or tinned mango, but I often find tinned mango to be tart).

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chinese New Year at Harmony BBQ and Seafood Restaurant, Malvern

Saturday, 28 January was Chinese New Year, and this year, we celebrate the year of the Rooster.  To mark the occasion, Tim and I went to dinner at Harmony BBQ and Seafood Restaurant in Malvern.

When I rang to make the booking, I was told that they would be having "line dancing" at 7.30.  I thought that was rather curious for a Chinese restaurant, but I said, "sure, that's fine".

When I mentioned the entertainment to Tim, he said, "yes, lion dancing is traditional for Chinese New Year".  The penny dropped - it wasn't going to be people decked out in cowboy boots dancing to Billy Ray Cyrus, it was going to be traditional Chinese lion dancing.  That seemed more like it. 

I understood later why I was asked if I was OK with the dancing - lion dancers are accompanied by very loud drum music that is not conducive to conversation.  We were treated to not one, but two separate performances, an hour apart (first an orange lion, then a yellow and a red lion together).  After the dancing, fire crackers were set off in the street.  I didn't mind the noise and really got into it.  I was glad I was seated in a place where I couldn't get "eaten" by the lions though.  Even the tiny children in the restaurant were not perturbed by all the raucous noise, which surprised me.

After the first lion left, we were able to start ordering dinner.  We started with ginger prawn dumplings, my favourite, packed with gorgeous gingery prawns:  

We also ordered the scallop dumplings, nice but not a patch on the ginger prawn dumplings: 

For main, we ordered beef and vegetables:

and deliciously gooey and sweet mandarin pork ribs:

We also ordered steamed rice so that we did not miss out on any of the lovely sauces.

After some more lion dancing, we ordered dessert - banana fritters:

This looks a little scary, but it was utterly delicious - a thinly battered fried banana and vanilla icecream with golden syrup.  What is not to love?

Neither of us had been out for Chinese New Year before, so we had a blast getting into the spirit of the lion dancing and cracker blowing and general joyousness of it all.

42/40 Glenferrie Rd
Malvern VIC 3144

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

TWD - Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, I chose to make the Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans.   I was a little underwhelmed by the choice initially, because I can take or leave store-bought shortbread.  It is without fail hard and fairly flavourless, almost waxy tasting.

However, these shortbread fans were nothing of the sort:

They were melt-in-your-mouth good.  I couldn't taste much rose, nor hibiscus for that matter. My shortbread tasted predominantly of passionfruit, as I only had passionfruit-hibiscus tea (from another Dorie project, but don't ask me to remember which one).

I went through the whole process and iced the shortbreads and sprinkled them with sanding sugar. However, I preferred the shortbreads uniced.

These shortbreads are gorgeous - I would make them again.  They would be a wonderful Christmas gift.

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Jamie's Super Food Family Classics Round Up

I recently acquired Jamie Oliver's Super Food Family Classics, having been enticed by his TV program.  The recipes are a bit hit and miss, but here is a roundup of the ones that I have tried to date.

At the top of this post is the chicken korma, cauliflower and brown rice.  This dish held much promise, as I love a good curry, but this one was disappointing.  It ended up being quite bland, and not a dish that I will be repeating.

Next up was the pasta agrodolce with sweet peppers, salted ricotta and basil:

This dish was very tasty.  I loved the raisins and pine nuts in among the vegetables (red onion, red and yellow capsicum).  This one is a keeper.

 Jamie has some good tray bakes - this one is the chicken & chorizo tray bake with peppers, sweet potatoes and spuds:

I think the saltiness of the chorizo was a little too much for me, but I otherwise enjoyed this dish.

There was also the Mango Teriyaki Salmon with Brown Rice:

That one was pretty good, and it had lots of lovely green veggies in it.

Finally, there was Jool's Tuna Pasta Bake: 

I found this one a little too funky for my liking.  Maybe it was weird because instead of leeks and fennel, I used onion and broccolini (as I couldn't get leek or fennel).  In any event, it was rather offputting, so it would be reappearing at my place.

So there you have it - my round up from Jamie's Super Food Family Classics.  There were some hits and some misses, but overall, I think the recipes were good.

Friday, February 3, 2017

David Lebovitz's Banana Upside Down Cake

I have an epic collection of recipes that I have either downloaded from online, or torn out of magazines and newspapers.  It is rather telling that the vast majority of them are sweet recipes.  

A source of some great recipes is David Lebovitz's newsletter.  Recently, he featured a recipe for Banana Upside Down Cake that just spoke to me (at least, the gorgeous gooey bronze caramel spoke to me), so I downloaded it.  You can find it here.

Happily for me, this cake actually got made (helped along by three large aged bananas in my fruit bowl).  In addition to the aforesaid gooey caramel top on this cake, there are the sliced bananas that get coated in the caramel, and a lovely, light spongy cake underneath.  I am with David on the fact that this is best eaten warm, and that you don't need any accompaniments to enjoy it.

This is one heavenly cake.  If you like bananas, or even if you don't, I highly recommend giving this cake a go.  I loved it.