Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dark Chocolate Ganache and Coconut Tart

Being in Australia, I missed out on all the foodie enjoyment associated with Thanksgiving-but that didn't stop me from making pie! I believe it's a Martha Stewart creation originally- and so simple, delicious and gluten free just as an added bonus. I love that only four ingredients are used to create this luscious silky dark chocolate tart. It's somewhat ganachy, with that gorgeous coconut crust-sort of like a giant, chocolate covered macaroon, really. Its impressive yet takes next to no effort or skill, and feeds an army die to its glorious richness. Could there be any more perfect a dessert for Christmas? Easy, quick, delicious, festive, impressive! Perfection.



DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE & COCONUT TART (Adapted from Marin Mama Cooks)

4 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 cups dessicated coconut
350g dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 180C.
Place one third of the coconut into a medium bowl with the butter and stir thoroughly to combine. using your fingers, combine the remaining coconut with the butter coconut mix.
Line a 9in pie dish with baking paper. Press the coconut mixture firmly into the base and then up the sides of the dish, leaving the top edge more loosely packed and fluffy. Lay a sheet of foil underneath your pie dish and draw a circle around it. Cut off the edges so that you have a foil cover the size of the pie. Fold this in half and cut a half circle about two inches from the edge. Unfold to reveal a "o" shaped ring of foil. Place this on the pie so that it covers the top of the edges. This will stop it from over browning. Place the pie in the oven. You will need to carefully watch the pie, as ovens vary hence does the cooking time. Also what you cook in (glass, tin, ceramic etc) will alter the browning time. I cooked mine in a tin and it took about 12-15 minutes to start tuning a golden brown. Then remove the foil and cook for a further 4 minutes until just golden on the edges. Be careful not to let the bottom get too brown. If one area is getting too brown, cover in a piece of foil to stop the browning process in that area.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When the crust is cool, chop up the chocolate and place it in a medium sized heat proof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan. Over a medium-low heat, bring the cream just to the boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate, and let it sit for 10 minutes undisturbed. Mix together until fully incorporated and smooth and glossy. Pour into the coconut base and smooth the top if you need to.
Refrigerate until the chocolate has set (this will depend on the the of chocolate you use, it can take from 2 to 24 hours)

Serves: 10-12 (slice small as this tart is very rich)




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Best Ever Beef Marinade

There are ten of us kids in the family. Well, not kids anymore, but we were kids when I was of the opinion that meat was disgusting. Twiggy little me thought it was like to hunting and killing the beast itself to get the knife through those rubbery, sinewy steaks. I felt like I was sawing away at it for hours on end just to get a bite. Okay, so there were a stack of us, and my parents couldn't give us prime steak every night. I didn't even know there was such a thing as tender, succulent meat until I had my first blissful meat experience on my dinner break when catering for Peter Rowland. My goodness! Safe to say I almost fell off my chair.
I had a brief and idiotic spell there for a while at university when I almost went vegetarian. Don't tell my husband. He will be scandalized. Honey, if youre reading this, forgive me! I momentarily lost my head trying to please everyone.
But the memory of that juicy steak woke me out of my reverie, and I decided not to follow that path after all.  It would only have been to please someone I was trying to impress, and wasn't worth impressing after all. I could have married into malnutrition and meatlessness for life. (Don't worry, I know all you vegans and vegetarians aren't horribly malnourished. What are you doing reading about steak? Get out of here!)
MEAT. It called me! I left that veggie man and took myself to the closest kitchen.
But...I had no idea how to handle the stuff, or get that juicy, tender quality I had once tasted in the back kitchen at Ripponlea Estate. How did they get that flavour?
I still don't know exactly how they got that steak so good. I figure it's probably a lot to do with a really great cut of meat, tenderizing and a the perfect chef.
But since finding out I'm super low in iron, I decided to get myself some awesome steak and get marinating. I found this wonderful recipe and got all excited over it. My husband is the king of meat, sauces and marinades, and I finally made something on his level in the savory department-I was pretty proud of myself and couldn't wait to share the recipe. It's now my go-to recipe when cooking up kebabs or beef steak. So. Delicious.





BEST EVER BEEF MARINADE (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp french mustard (or Dijon if preferred)
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until combined. Add the raw steaks and marinate for 24 to 48 hours (I only had time to let it sit for 4 hours and it was still awesome). Remove from the marinade and cook until desired doneness. Serve.


NOTES: This recipe serves 4. I also used some of the left over marinate to concoct a gravy, adding a little corn flour to thicken and some gravy powder. Combine and cook until thick, and use over your veggies. Yum!



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cupcake Christmas Wreath

In celebration of Cupcake Day and that of Christmas, I have utilized a stack of left over cupcakes to create an edible wreath. What a great activity to do with the kids in the lead up to Christmas! If you're looking for things to do with kids in the Christmas holidays, here's a memorable and yummy activity that is bound to keep them busy and get them excited.
All you need is a number is small cupcakes-enough to make a circle, and perhaps an inner circle to make the wreath thicker. Then you will need enough green coloured icing mixture to cover the cupcakes, as well as a large "grass" nozzle. A grass nozzle has several holes in the end to create a grass effect, or in this case, a rough pine needle look. You can most likely pick one of these nozzles up from your local cake decorating store. To the finished wreath, I also added a large gold bow, and some artificial red berries to make it look more festive. The kids went wild for it!




CUPCAKE CHRISTMAS WREATH

Basic butter cake recipe for cupcakes (makes 12 or 24 mini cupcakes. I used mini ones for the wreath):

125g butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup SR flour
1/2 cup corn flour
2/3 cup milk
2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with 12 cupcake cases. Beat the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until combined.
Sift the self raising flour and the corn flour and fold into the butter mixture along with the milk. Beat the eggwhites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the milk mixture (don't worry if the mixture looks a little curdled.)
Divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch. Leave for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Basic Butter cream icing:

250g butter
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
green food colouring

Beat the butter until creamy. Sift the icing sugar into the butter mixture and whisk, along with enough milk to get a nice thick texture. Add the vanilla and the food colouring, and thoroughly combine. You may want to add a little more icing sugar if your icing does not hold shape.

Assembly:
Take all the wrappers off the completely cooled cupcakes. Arrange one circle of cupcakes, then use the remainder to add another inner circle Fill a ziplock bag fitted with a grass nozzle with the butter cream icing. Pipe onto the cupcake wreathe using until the tops are well covered. Decorate as desired with ribbons and holly to complete.


Check out other bloggers involved in cupcake day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Princess Castle Cake

I'm the possessor of one very strong willed, stubborn daughter. My husband is the possessor of one soft as a marshmallow wife. It's probably not an ideal combination. But we try to do our best and with lots of coaxing that wild little girl, we often get where we need to be.
But to make matters more difficult, she's a self-proclaimed princess. She even tells strangers with a poker face that she is in fact, a princess-as if they should know better.
As if I needed to feed the delusion, I agreed to making her a princess castle cake for her third birthday. We found a castle cake kit by Wilton which my daughter loved-it had a million spires and the price for the kit was a bit over the top too for a third birthday.
So I thought I'd wing it. She was beyond thrilled with the end result, although at one stage I was tearing my hair out trying to mend tearing fondant which was melting as I placed it. You will know why if you live in Brisbane. It's still spring and we've had days of 40C+ weather with tonnes of humidity. Not cake friendly. The back of the cake looks like a dogs breakfast. Thankfully no one's looking there!
I used a double mixture of Mississippi Mud Cake and made the base cake in a 15cm round tin, and three small round cakes in 7cm ramekins for the tall back tower part of the cake. These were covered in fondant and skewered into place. The towers can be made from mini sponge jam rolls but I used cardboard rolls, topped with mini waffle style ice cream cones. I used a texture mat to create the brick pattern on the fondant, and the other decorations were hand rolled vines and roses. I hope you enjoy the photo by photo cake tutorial. Shoot me any questions you might have. It's much easier than it looks and you can even get really clumsy and messy with it like me and easily cover the flaws-and it will make any princess wanna-be totally thrilled for weeks.




STEP BY STEP CASTLE CAKE PHOTO TUTORIAL


 Roll and cover your cake board in fondant.Trim the edges to neaten.


Crumb coat your first cake with a thin layer of buttercream icing and refrigerate for 10 minutes or so to harden.


 Place the rolled fondant on your cake. It doesn't have to be absolute;y perfect, as you can see mine isn't. This will be texturised with the texture mat, so it tends to look okay in the end even if a little bumpy. Measure the cake you're about to stack and place wooden skewers in place to secure the next cake. Make sure the skewers will not pop through the top of the next layer, I made that mistake!


Cover the tall cake with fondant and gently push it onto the skewers on the first cake. Please excuse the hideous lumps, at this stage I was near to tears because my fondant was misbehaving on layer two. We can hide all the nonsense in vines, roses and towers later on.




To make the pointed roofs of the towers you will need a packet of mini cones. These stand about 8-10cm tall. Roll out your contrasting fondant and wrap around the cone. Cut off any unsightly edges and make sure all the fondant sits nicely at the bottom of the cone and slightly overlaps at the final edge. Press gently to secure this edge.





 Before moving on to our cardboard roll towers, I rolled the roofs in a little shimmer dust and set aside. The same sort of method goes for the fondant covered rolls. Once covered in fondant, I gently rolled these babies over a brick texture mat, then trimmed the edges. This is a good time to texturise the main cakes also. Gently press the texture mat all around the sides of the cakes to get the brick or cobble stone pattern.



Stack the towers on the cake and secure them with wooden skewers. These should stick out somewhat, as we use them to hold the roofs in place too. The bottom towers can just sit there or be fixed with some edible glue if you prefer.


Use the skewers to position the roof part to each tower. I found these fine just balanced so, but you could use edible glue to secure them further if you need to move your cake around a bit or take it in the car. I used edible glue to secure the roofs on the bottom two towers, as there are no skewers in these two.


 See, all those huge imperfections are melting away as we add detail! Woop!


Add a door, windows and any other details you like. I added twisted braid to the bottoms of the bottom towers, the centre join of the cakes and also the bottom of the top tower to give a bit of fluidity. I matched it with the tower roofs and the door trim. I also added glitter to the spires and topped them with pearl cashous. I added vines and roses that I had made earlier on. (The best way to make the vines is to roll flat some green fondant and cut off thin strips of it.) I added leaves to the vine by cutting little heart shapes from the same green fondant, and squishing the pointy ends into more of a point.



My Daughter Vienna Rose, the happiest little princess with her castle.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Orange and Beetroot Ice Cream

I've never been into weird food. Lamb's brains, liver, bacon flavoured soda. I'll pass.
I'm anxious when I hear about people adding cauliflower to their sweets, and even have my reservations abut zucchini in chocolate cakes, although I hear at least that one is quite nice.
So, adding pureed beetroot to ice cream is a real leap for me. I happen to love beetroot, despite its staining tendencies, and fell in love with the thought of churning hot pink to fuchsia coloured ice cream in my machine.
I figured someone had probably already invented beetroot ice cream, so I googled it and found a recipe for it on a lovely blog. The pictures were amazing, and yes, the ice cream was fuchsia!
Somehow mine didn't turn out so hot pink, but it was a lovely shade of pink, and tasted even better than I thought it would. When you hear that a vegetable has been added to ice cream, it can make you pretty weary- so I have to say I was absolutely pleasantly surprised. Of course you are all wondering what it tastes like. Well the first flavour that hits you is that of oranges-a delightful citrus that hints at marmalade and is simultaneously fresh. There are subtle notes of beet on the end. I wouldn't go as far to say that you can pick out the flavour distinctly, but there are definitely beetroot qualities, a certain earthiness, a tang. There are no strong flavours, it is a very smooth and harmonious combination, a delicate quality to the ice cream, along with a silky smoothness that lacks in many home made ice creams.





ORANGE AND BEETROOT ICE CREAM  (Adapted from Saveur)

2 cups milk
4 tsp corn flour (or corn starch)
1 1/4 cup thickened or heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
pinch salt
peel of 1 orange
3 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup pureed beetroot (I used beetroot from a 450g can, drained.)

In a small bowl, place 1/4 cup of the milk with the corn flour and set aside In a medium saucepan, place the remaining milk cream, sugar, syrup and salt and whisk to combine.
Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Add the orange peel and cook for 4 minutes Stir the milk-cornflour mixture until combined, and add to the saucepan. Return to the boil and cook, stirring until thick, for about 2 minutes. Remove about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture and place in a small bowl with the cream cheese. Combine thoroughly until smooth. Add this to the saucepan. Stir in the pureed beetroot.
Chill the mixture until completely cold. I left mine overnight in the refrigerator. Then strain the mixture to remove the beetroot and orange peel. Follow the manufacturers instructions on your ice cream machine for the final step. When churned, place in the freezer for several hours to freeze before serving.

Makes about 1 litre




Monday, October 27, 2014

Banana Raspberry Bread with Lime Cream Cheese Icing

When a dash of love is added to cooking, it is instantly transformed into something infinitely more palatable. I think real cooking is love-it's giving. When I say real cooking, I mean throwing a wad of 2 minute noodles into boiling water doesn't count. It must involve some effort, some portion of your time, some giving--as all love does require.
Just think about it-when you cook, you cook for friends, family, yourself. Often it's performed because you have to, because there are rumbling tummies and tiny (or big) wailing mouths. But even when it's done through necessity, it is done because you love those people. Some people cook for themselves, preparing amazing dishes, for the love of food. Others cook for the love of money, and so forth, but basically, good  food and love revolve around each other.
When I was studying teaching at University before I met my husband, I lived with two other girls in a quaint little townhouse on the skirts of Melbourne. We all fended or ourselves food wise, never cooking for anyone but ourselves as we all had varied schedules. We were three very different people, all living different lives, and looking back on how we ate doesn't surprise me. One held a part time job, and basically lived off 2 minute noodles, ice cream and those cream and jam filled sweet buns. The other was a student like myself and it was toast and bought sushi for her. I lived off 8 cups of coffee a day and various blends of pasta and jarred sauce. Ugh!
None of us loved food enough to bother to make any effort. We had no one to cook for and didn't even love ourselves enough to at least make an effort to eat healthily.
It was only when I met my husband that I started taking an interest in food, especially as he was a big fan of everything I made. It was such an encouraging thing that it became an addiction, and I couldn't keep my mind off food and what I was going to make for him the next time he visited. Well, I married that man, and I also simultaneously married my food addiction. Now I actually eat. And I actually get hungry. And I limit myself to one coffee a day, just to kick start me in the morning. Jarred pasta sauces are not off limits, but used sparingly, only for those wild and woolly days, where you get to the end of the day looking like you were just thrown out of a hurricane and the kids are literally ripping the hair out of your head. I love my family too much to do that to them regularly-but sometimes, necessity calls for quick and fuss free!
Well, this banana raspberry bread with lime and cream cheese icing is certainly made with love, time and thought. I love how all these flavours come together to make for a delightful treat for the senses-the sweet moistness of the banana, the slight tart accents of raspberry, the creaminess of the cream cheese icing with a zingy hint of lime zest.We couldn't get enough of this delicious cake! The icing really was what took it up several notches, and I almost wish I had made more icing! If you're a big fan of cream cheese icing, you could double the icing recipe and cover the whole top of the bread. You will not regret it!





BANANA RASPBERRY BREAD WITH LIME CREAM CHEESE ICING (A Lick the Spoon Original)

6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs
4 mashed bananas
1 cup Self Raising flour
1/4 level tsp bicarb. soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
50g cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp lime zest, finely grated

Preheat the oven at 180C. Line a loaf pan with baking paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg gradually, beating well between additions. Add the mashed banana and beat again.  Add the flour, bicarb soda and salt and stir through until well combined. Lastly fold in the raspberries.
Bake in the oven for 1 1/4 hours until nicely browned on top. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes or so before gently removing and placing on a wire rack.
To make the icing, beat the cream cheese, lime juice, icing sugar and zest together in a small bowl until smooth. You may add a little more icing sugar if you prefer the consistency to be thicker, or a little more lime juice if you find it too thick.
Pipe or spread over the top of the cooled bread before serving.

Makes one loaf.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Strawberry and Pear Crumbles

 It was a brown slimy substance defrosting in a ziplock bag on the counter. Brown liquid was accumulating in the bottom. My husband came home and pulled a face of disgust as he gingerly inspected it , and asked me what on earth that ungodly looking goop on the bench was. You know, when you buy too many bananas, and they start going brown on the outside and a little soft under the skin? I peel them and pop them in a ziplock bag in the freezer, ready for banana bread when I have the chance. When I told my husband that I intended to make a cake with this squelchy mess, I think he almost passed out.
He was so disturbed by it that I promised to throw it out. The next time I served banana bread, he had no idea that I used the same method for saving my bananas, and he loved that bread! I secretly chuckle and continue with the practice. What do they say-what you don't know can't kill you? I doubt that saying rings true for many cooking substances, but hey, I've worked in kitchens and seen chefs use the ten second rule and worse multiple times. Shhh...don't tell anyone I told you!
But back to over ripe fruit, it seriously carries an intensified flavour. I'm sure it doesn't apply to all old fruit and there's a fine line between old and OLD. Browning bananas always make the best banana bread, soft tomatoes make the sweetest chutney, you get the picture.
Well, I had a bruised pear and some strawberries that were looking pretty tired. I decided to slice them up and pop them into an apple crumble style dessert, without the apple. Also, being a sucker for vintage kitchen wares, I couldn't resist the opportunity to get out those pastel ramekins!
This is a really easy, go to recipe for a quick, delicious and nutritious dessert. It took as little as five minutes to assemble.
I was so surprised by how these two fruits came together in perfect harmony, topped with a delightful oat laden buttery crumble on the top with a dollop of cream. The juices of the strawberries had coloured the pear a soft pink, and it was a very pretty and scrumptious end to a meal.





STRAWBERRY AND PEAR CRUMBLES (A Lick the Spoon original)

1 large pear
1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp. plain flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rolled oats
Cream to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven at 180C.
Peel, core and slice the pear. Slice the strawberries. Layer these two cut fruits between two oven proof ramekins. In a small bowl, pour the melted butter. Add the flour, brown sugar and oats. Combine until a crumbly dough forms. Sprinkle this mixture over the tops of the fruit in the ramekins. Cook for 15 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before serving with cream or ice cream if desired.

Serves 2




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Traditional Home Made Sausage Rolls

I was impressed with the ease of the sausage roll recipe and the end result was so delicious. Not one person in the house could stop eating them, and when we had our fill, there were more to pop away in the freezer for another day. Who would ever settle for store bought sausage rolls after this?
Besides the amazing flavour, these sausage rolls freeze really well and are great for an afternoon snack...or pop them in the kids' lunchboxes! They'll love them.





TRADITIONAL HOME MADE SAUSAGE ROLLS 

500g lean mince beef
500g sausage mince`
2 onions, finely chopped or grated
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. mixed herbs
1 tbsp. BBQ sauce
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180C. Line and grease two baking trays.
Combine sausage and beef mince, onions, 1 egg, garlic, sauces, parsley, breadcrumbs, mixed herbs and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix until incorporated.
Cut each thawed pastry sheet in half. Brush each piece with the remaining beaten egg. Using a teaspoon, spoon a portion of mince mixture down the centre of each piece of pastry.
Roll the pastry over the mixture and press the edges to seal, leaving the ends open. With a sharp knife, cut the sausage rolls into four, then place on the trays seam side down. Brush with egg and lightly score the tops diagonally with a sharp knife.
Increase the heat of the oven to 250C, and cook the sausage rolls for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with BBQ or tomato sauce.

Makes  24

NOTES: These are ideal for freezing and thawing as needed!