Sunday, September 29, 2019

Salted Caramel and Pretzel Cheesecake

Are you a fan of cheesecake?  I find that people sit firmly in one of two camps - they either love cheesecake or they loathe it.  I sit in the former camp, and adore cheesecake in all of its forms, whether baked or unbaked.  The only thing that makes me sad is when someone has turned a cheesecake recipe into a cloggy dense mess, instead of a smooth and silky thing of wonder.  

Another one of my favourite things is caramel, so when I saw the photo of a salted caramel and pretzel cheesecake on the cover of the September issue of Delicious magazine, I was sold.  Is this not a thing of beauty:

Even better, I already had all of the ingredients needed to make it, accumulated from random purchases and leftovers from other recipes.

I am so glad that I ventured to make this indulgent cheesecake - it was everything I'd hoped for.  Sweet, salty, smooth, luscious and altogether a treat to be savoured.  The pretzels are incorporated into the crust, and the caramel flavoured cheesecake is topped with a layer of store bought dulce de leche to up the ante on the caramel flavour.

To make this cheesecake, you will need:

200g crushed salted pretzels
200g digestive biscuits
350g butter, melted and cooled
400g brown sugar
450ml thickened cream
3 titanium strength gelatine leaves
450g cream cheese, softened
250g store bought dulce de leche

Grease and line a 22cm wide, 5cm deep springform pan.

Put the pretzels in a food processor and finely chop.  Add the biscuits and process until fine crumbs form.  Add 250g of the melted butter and process to combine.  Press the mixture into the base and up the sides of the springform pan, and chill until needed.

Put the remaining melted butter into a saucepan with the brown sugar over medium heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the cream and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens.  

In the meantime, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.  Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and stir the gelatine into the hot cream until dissolved.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Put the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until smooth.  Gradually whisk in the cooled cream mixture until smooth, then pour into the chilled biscuit base.  Refrigerate the cheesecake for 6 hours or until set.

To serve the cheesecake, spread the dulce de leche evenly over the top of the set cheesecake.  Slice and serve.  Devine!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Roasted Miso Ginger Chicken

Roast chicken is such a comforting dish.  It reminds me of being ten years old, and when I came home from Sunday school, Mum would have a fabulous roast chicken lunch put together.  The wonderful smell as the chicken finished roasting made me impatient for lunch to be served, so I would try and quell my impatience by watching Barbara Woodhouse train dogs and their owners on TV.  Hey, it worked for a would-be vet! 

One of the most delicious roast chicken dinners that I have made in recent times comes from the New Zealand version of Cuisine magazine.  It is a Roasted Miso and Ginger Chicken.  A miso, garlic and ginger butter is sld under the skin of the chicken before roasting, and the chicken is served with roasted spring onions and broccolini.  It is really good, especially if you are a fan of Asian flavours.

If this sounds like a recipe that would tickle your tastebuds, you will need:

1 tablespoon white miso
50g softened butter
2 minced cloves garlic
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 chicken
250ml chicken stock
1 bunch spring onions cut into 5cm lengths
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds   

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Combine the miso, butter, garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon of rice wine in a bowl.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towel, loosen the skin from the flesh on the breast, and smear half of the miso butter under the skin of the breast of the chicken.  Smear the rest of the miso butter into the chicken's cavity and over the outside of the chicken.

Put the chicken breast side down into a roasting tray.  Season the chicken with salt.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then turn it breast side up in the roasting tray.  Add the chicken stock and the remaining tablespoon of rice wine, and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Add the spring onions and broccoli to the roasting dish, return the chicken to the oven, and roast for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken   from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before scattering it with the sesame seeds and carving to serve.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

TWD - Fall Market Galette

This month's last Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Fall Market Galette - except that in my part of the world, it is actually spring, so mine is technically a spring market galette.

To make this galette, Dorie's galette dough (made flexible for easy folding) is filled with grapes, figs and plums.  However, I can't get figs and plums at this time of year, so I substituted peaches (US imports) and pears in my galette.

The dough bakes up all flaky and crisp, and the juicy fruit and walnuts are the stars of the galette:  

This galette was absolutely delicious, and matched the devine smell as it baked.  I served my galette with a little vanilla icecream.

My galette is reposing on a tea towel from the Margaret River region o Western Australia, where I recently took a short vacation.  You can just see Cape Leeuwin peeking out from under the galette - this is the most south-western point in Australia, and has a lighthouse that was manned until the early 1990s.  It is also the point where the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet.  It is windy and cool up there, but worth a visit.

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

Monday, September 23, 2019

C Restaurant in the Sky, Perth

On a recent holiday to Perth, Western Australia, my family and I visited C Restaurant in the Sky, the city's only revolving restaurant.  It is located on the 33rd floor of St Martins Tower in St Georges Terrace, a main street in the Perth CBD.  

We were seated next to a window, where we were greeted with various magnificent sweeping views of the Perth skyline as we slowly rotated around the circular tower:

It takes just over an hour to make a round trip around the restaurant.

For a mid-week visit, you are required to order three courses (entrée, main and dessert) for $99, if you are not ordering the five course degustation.

My first course was a double-baked blue cheese soufflé with quince gel, roasted hazelnuts, frisee salad and champagne sorbet:

This dish was light and fluffy and tasted just as good as it looked.  The champagne sorbet was a little strange with the warm soufflé, but delicious all the same.

My next course was barramundi with confit potatoes and leeks, grilled prawns,  lemon and garlic puree, buttermilk veloute and shellfish oil:

The lattice was purely decorative and did not have much flavour.  The fish was flaky and soft with  crisp, salty skin.  The lemon and garlic puree was a revelation and made the dish with its zingy citrus flavour.

Our main course was followed with a palate cleanser of lime and raspberry sorbet, which my brother mistook for dessert:

Finally, my dessert was a raspberry mousse, sitting atop a vanilla pastry base, with raspberry sponge and tuile and raspberry sorbet:

This dessert was as pretty as a picture and was devine - smooth and not too sweet, and set off admirably by the fresh fruit garnish.  The sponge pieces were a little dry, but this was easily remedied with a little raspberry coulis and raspberry sorbet.  I could easily have gone for seconds of this.

One of us had a birthday, so they were served with a teeny tiny piece of mud cake topped with a sparkler, reposing on a plate with a greeting in dessert sauce: 

So cute!!

All the while, the restaurant kept revolving, and Perth delighted us with its twinkly night sky:

The service was very friendly and efficient.  Our waiter had only been there for two weeks, but you would never know - he was an absolute pro.  

The hardest part was finding our way out at the end, as we were slightly disorientated after revolving around.

I highly recommend a visit to C Restaurant if you ever find yourself in Perth - the atmosphere, service and food are top notch.

Level 33/44 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

TWD - Sweet or Savoury Cream Cheese- Honey-Nut Wafers

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Sweet or Savoury Cream Cheese-Honey Nut Wafers. These biscuits comprise a cream cheese dough base, topped with either jam or blue cheese (depending on whether they are sweet or savoury), then topped again with a delicious walnut-honey mixture.

I made the sweet version and used up some quince and ginger jam on four of myy biscuits. For the rest, I straddled sweet and savoury by using fig and port chutney.  Both versions were delicious - I could not really tell which were which. 

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

TWD - Caramel Topped Rice Pudding Cake

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I have made Caramel Topped Rice Pudding Cake.  When I was growing up, rice pudding was a regular dessert in our household.  Mum's rice pudding was thick, creamy and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Fast forward to Dorie's recipe for Caramel Topped Rice Pudding Cake, and I will say that while cinnamon is good on top of rice pudding, citrus-tinged caramel trumps it.

Rice pudding cake involves making a rice pudding, then adding eggs and vanilla and baking it in the oven in a tin that has been lined with caramel.  It is rice pudding in slice and serve form - yum!

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

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Toffee Apple Cake with Maple Apple Caramel

I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
A million dreams for the world we're gonna make
Hugh Jackman, A Million Dreams 

The words above are from a song featured in The Greatest Showman, a movie about PT Barnam and the founding of the Barnam and Bailey Circus.  It is a hopeful and uplifting song, which we are currently singing in the community choir that I have joined.  After a hard day, it makes me believe that being together with the people that I love, the world can be a better place.

When I was little, going to the Show or going to the circus always meant that Mum would buy me a toffee apple.  I think at the time I underappreciated the toffee apple because underneath it all, it was just fruit, but as a grown up, I rather enjoy the crunch of the toffee apple and the contrast of the sweet toffee with the tartness of the apple.

Going back a little while, I made a Toffee Apple Cake with Maple Apple Caramel from the May 2019 edition of Delicious magazine.  This cake reminded me fondly of the toffee apples of my childhood, so I had to make it.  My cake is not as grand as the original (which you can see here), as I only made one layer of cake and had one apple on top (although I made three).  Frankly, for a day to day cake, that was enough - a grand cake like the one in the magazine would perhaps be good for a special occasion, but was too OTT for me to make just for fun.

The cake itself is moist as it contains grated apple and buttermilk: 

Here is the finished product - one single layer made from a half recipe of cake, with a single (imperfect) toffee apple adorning the top:

I thought the cake was pretty good, and could be readily made without the fuss of the toffee apples if desired:

Oooh, and do make the maple apple caramel sauce - it is delicious and adds additional moistness to the cake: 

To make the cake my way, you will need:

350g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
250g butter
300g sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
2 apples, peeled and coarsely grated

For the maple apple caramel

125ml apple juice
125ml maple syrup

For the toffee apples + praline

3 small red apples 
1 cup sugar
30g almonds

For the icing

250g cream cheese, softened
92g butter, softened
70g icing sugar, sifted
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line one 23cm cake tin.

 Sift the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.

Add the flour and mix in on low.  Fold in the grated apple with a rubber spatula.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for one and a half hours or until cooked through.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin.

For the icing, beat all of the ingredients together in a stand mixer until smooth.

For the maple apple caramel, put the apple juice and maple syrup into a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by a third.

For the toffee apples, line 2 baking trays with alfoil, grease the trays, and place a greased wire rack over the top of one tray.

Melt the sugar in a saucepan and wait until the sugar turns golden brown  before using tongs to dip each apple into the toffee, and swirling to coat completely (work quickly as the toffee sets hard quickly).  Place each apple onto the greased wire rack to cool completely.

Pour the rest of the caramel over the foil lined tray and scatter over the almonds.  Once the toffee has set, finely grind up the almond mixture in a food processor.

To assemble, ice the cooled cake with the cream cheese icing, sprinkle the top of the cake with the almond praline, and top with one or more toffee apples. 

Serve the cake in slices drizzled with maple apple caramel.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

TWD - Cocoa Almond "Uglies" (Brutti ma Buoni)

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Cocoa Almond "Uglies" or "brutta ma buoni" (ugly but good).  These biscuits are really easy to make with icing sugar, almond meal, egg whites, cocoa, slivered almonds (or in my case, flaked almonds) and chocolate.  I used a part of a Ferrero Rocher Easter Egg as my chocolate.

You mix everything together then place heaped mounds on a baking sheet, et voila, delicious cookies.  They don't spread much and are super delicious.  These are my kind of biscuits.

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

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Pork, Caramelised Apple and Caraway Sausage Rolls

Today is Father's Day in Australia.  If you want to help your meat-loving Dad celebrate with some food treats, you can't go past the Pork, Caramelised Apple and Fennel Sausage Rolls in the Tivoli Road Baker book. 

These sausage rolls have an absolutely delicious filling, and go down a treat with a dipper of tomato sauce.

Me being me, I substituted the fennel seeds for caraway seeds (because that is what I had), and on top of the sausage rolls, I used a mixture of sesame seeds and poppy seeds that I had from another project (again in substitution for fennel seeds). 

I highly recommend giving these sausage rolls a go if you are a meat lover.  To make them, you will need (as modified by me):

2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 brown onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
20g butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1.2kg pork mince
65g fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 lightly beaten egg
5 sheets Pampas frozen puff pastry
sesame seeds for sprinkling on top

Toast the caraway seeds in a small dry frypan until fragrant.  Crush in a mortar and pestle, and set aside.

 In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil.  sweat off the garlic and onions until lightly caramelised.  Add the caraway seeds, rosemary and thyme, cook for a minute, then set aside to cool.

Wipe out the large frypan and melt the butter in it.  Cook the apples in the butter for 2 minutes, then add the sugar to the pan.  Cook until the sugar is caramelised, then deglaze the pan with the vinegar, and set the apples aside to cool.  

Combine the mince, apples, breadcrumbs and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Using your hands, mix through the onion and garlic mixture until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry in half.  Divide the sausage mixture evenly between each half piece of pastry (10 batches in all), and place the mince along a long edge of each piece of pastry, forming into a sausage shape with your hands which is the length of the pastry.  Brush the other long edge of the pastry with the beaten egg, then roll the pastry from the meat side to the beaten egg side, with the sealed edge on the bottom.  Place each roll on a baking tray, then brush the top of the sausage rolls with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Lightly prick the top of each roll with a fork.  Refrigerate the rolls for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Bake the sausage rolls for 40 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.

Serve warm with tomato sauce on the side.