Friday, 5 December 2008

Italian meatballs with tomato sauce

Recently we went up to Queensland for a bit of a holiday and stayed with our gorgeous friends Polly and Shane. Polly and I are in our element in the kitchen, so there was plenty of cooking to be done, which was loads of fun.

One of my favourite meals during our time there were these meatballs. Mmm mm. Prior to this event I had never really like meatballs, they seemed pointless, why not just bolognese? I know, I know, silly of me huh? I totally understand why meatballs now! These are perfect! I've made them several times since, and they are very popular.

180ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
100grams pinenuts, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
handful of parsley, basil and rosemary, roughly chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
50g fresh breadcrumbs
250g ricotta
25g parmesan, grated
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
500g minced beef or pork

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml red wine
large tbs tomato paste

Start with the meatballs - fry the onion, garlic and pinenuts in half the olive oil until soft.

In a large bowl combine the herbs, fennel, breadcrumbs, ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, egg and mince. Add the cooled onion mix and some salt and pepper. Leave the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before making into balls.

Form the balls with about 50grams of the mixture (about the size of a walnut) and then flatten a little to make it easier to cook on both sides. Make balls out of all the mixture and then you're ready to fry.

Fry the meatballs in a large pan with the remaining olive oil until golden brown. Cook in batches so the pan isn't too crowded.

For the sauce, fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for a few minutes till soft and add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and then add the meatballs gently to the sauce and simmer for a further 10 minutes, covered. Allow this all to stand for 10 minutes and serve with pasta of your choice.

Sathya-rating *****

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Daring Bakers November Challenge - Caramel Cake

It is that time of the month for many food blogs around the world to be taken over by the wonderful Daring Bakers - yay! I love it. I have missed some challenges unfortunately, and for this I apologise. Pregnancy has caused vomiting all day, every day for 6 months straight which hasn't helped my time in the kitchen (or anywhere for that matter!) but this month I managed to complete a challenge so here I am again.

This months task was set by Dolores with the help of Alex, Jenny and Natalie and is a gorgeous caramel cake recipe created by Shuna Fish Lydon.

As you can see, I decided to make cupcakes, which turned out successfully. I as worried I may have lost my touch with months of not baking but I was fine. I didn't find this recipe difficult at all, I don't know how others feel? My caramel syrup came up easily, the frosting mixed together nicely and the cakes were perfect. I prepared the syrup and frosting on a different day to the cakes and when realising just how sweet the frosting was halved the sugar in the cakes, which I am very happy about as they overall effect was still very sweet. I am a sweet tooth, so when I think something is very sweet, it really is!

I brought these along to a big family event this evening and one walk around the room on a tray and they all disappeared and seemed to be devoured just as quickly.


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 180C

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
450g icing sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Sathya-rating ***

Monday, 24 November 2008

Tiramisu - David Lebovitz

I don't know about you, but if Tiramisu is on the menu somewhere, I always order it. Therefore I think of myself as quite the connoisseur! There seem to be so many different ways for it be made and presented. I am rarely disappointed, but there are outstandouts among all these tiramisu's I have ordered, I can't think how to describe it other than nice and moist, juicy, boozy and chocolatey as well as the definite flavour of mascarpone.

So when I saw David Lebovitz' recipe recently and noticed how easy it all was to prepare I decided it was time to give it a go at home. The perfect occassion arose, when friends of ours came for dinner who both own successful restaurants with my favourite little girl, Indiah. I made delicious meatballs (coming here soon) and this tiramisu for dessert. I always get a little nervous cooking for people in the hospitality industry, they know so much and chances are they'll discuss it (often at length) on the way home. Everyone loved this though, I think I was actually the most critical - the balance wasn't quite right - too much boozy biscuit and not enough creamy goodness. There's an easy solution for that though, I'll just double the mascarpone/egg mix next time!

½ cup (125ml) espresso, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon cognac
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch of salt
90g sugar, divided
250g mascarpone
twelve ladyfingers
optional: 1 ounce (30g) bittersweet chocolate
unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving

Mix together the espresso, rum, and cognac.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they begin to get stiff. Beat in half of the sugar until stiff. Scrape the egg whites into a small bowl.

Separately beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until stiff and light-colored, about three minutes. Beat in the mascarpone with a spatula or whisk by hand, until smooth.

Fold in half of the beaten egg whites, then the remaining half, just until fully incorporated.

Place a large soup spoon, of the mascarpone cream into each vessel (I used martini glasses).

Dip each ladyfinger in the espresso mixture for 5-10 seconds, until completely, utterly soaked. (Dried ladyfingers will take longer to saturate than softer ones.) Break the ladyfinger in half to be sure; they should be dropping wet, and can't be saturated enough. Then layer them over the mascarpone cream in each vessel. Use two ladyfingers per.

Grate a lots of dark chocolate over serve and top with remaining mascarpone cream. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve shake powdered cocoa generously on top.

Sathya-rating ***

Monday, 17 November 2008

Coconut Bread

First and foremost, I'm sorry I haven't been giving this little blog much attention of late. I can give you many excuses, but I don't really like excuses, they're boring and don't really relate to the world of food, so please believe me its not because I don't love this blog and all that comes with it, its just been a full on time in my life (and will continue to be what with a baby coming in Feb)!

Anyhow, I'm here to tell you about a Bill Granger recipe I came across, mixed up and served when my gorgeous friend Anna came over for a cup of tea recently. Coconut Bread. YUM! It was delicious. I often make banana bread as its such an easy pull together recipe that is highly satisfying, so this appealed to me immediately. Everyone really enjoyed it and the loaf disappeared in one afternoon (hence the photo). It does take an hour to bake, but its defintely worth it. The house smelt sensational, we served it warm with lashings of butter and cups of tea and were all extremely content.

2 eggs
300ml (10 fl oz) milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 ½ cups plain (all purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
150 g (5 oz) shredded coconut
75 g (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Lightly whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together.

Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add sugar and coconut, and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture is just smooth, be careful not to over-mix.

Pour into a greased and floured 21 x 10 cm (8 1/2 x 4 in) loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, and remove to cool further on a wire rack.

Serve in thick slices, toasted, buttered and dusted with icing sugar. Makes 8-10 thick slices.

Sathya-rating *****

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Donut Muffins

I spotted these little babies over at Dishing Delights and was sold. I made them a few days later, quickly and easily and they were delicious! Simple little cakes with a cinnamon sugar topping - how can you go wrong!

My sister, Sal remembered I was making them and dropped in and really enjoyed them as well. So much so, she made them herself.

This is the type of recipe I will use over and over as its easy and everyone will enjoy.

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

2 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 to 8 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

55 grams butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Position oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper cups.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Don't overmix; batter should not be smooth.

Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins come out clean, 15-20 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, melt the butter and place in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, dip them one at a time in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar mixture. Set on a rack to cool.

Sathya-rating ****

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Spinach pesto - easy week night dinner

Once upon a time I lived in Amsterdam for a year to get to know my Dutch family and learn the language. I was a very poor young lady struggling to pay the rent every month while I did a traineeship in a gorgeous 5-star hotel in the city. This meal was cooked often in my tiny kitchen, as it would go a long way and didn't cost a lot to make. Its very tasty and easy and quick to prepare.

So, recently when I saw a luscious green bush of spinach on special at the store I remembered this dish and needed to eat it again. It was as good as I remembered. It must have been about 10 years since I last made it, but it was like yesterday and brought back lots of memories.

You can also prepare this with frozen spinach and it works fine. Just make sure you squeeze out all the excess water before you puree.

300g spaghetti
450g frozen spinach or a large bunch fresh spinach/silverbeet
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
large handful of parmesan, freshly grated
fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper

Defrost the spinach well and squeeze out the excess water. If using fresh spinach, wash thoroughly and remove the stalks. Pop the leaves in large pot, put the lid on and cook for a few minutes, stirring once or twice to cook the spinach.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until smooth. You'll need a lot of freshly grated nutmeg and salt and pepper. Taste to check the seasoning. Depending on the water content of the spinach you may need to add a spoonful of pasta water to break up the pesto. Use your instincts.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss through the pesto and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan on top.

Sathya-rating ****

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These little babies are meant to be the best chocolate chip cookies in the world according to the New York Times. Big call if you ask me. I noticed them when several bloggers were making them and decided they would be a good way to introduce a new little 9 year old who stays at our house occasionally to the kitchen.

They look good don't they? They were very but personally, the recipe took far too long (24-36 hours in the fridge) + my oven couldn't fit the cookies in one go for them to be the best ever plus I also like nuts in my chocolate cookies. Anyway, have a go, I don't know anyone who can say no to a chocolate chip cookie - yum!

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (240g) plain flour
1 2/3 cups (240g) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt,
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 285g) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (285g) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8225g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds (570g) bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content
Sea salt, such as Maldon

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well; then set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. (Unless you have a plastic guard that sits around the rim of the bowl, this will make a big mess at first, with flour flying everywhere. I found that carefully holding a dish towel around the top of the bowl helped a lot.) Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 180°C. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Using a standard-size ice cream scoop – mine holds about 3 fluid ounces, or about 1/3 cup – scoop six mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: About 24 (5-inch) cookies.

Sathya-rating ***

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Something silly

I saw this on Peabodys blog and thought it was fun.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (fine Canadian food) - YUM!
60. Carob chips - gross
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cakd
68. Haggis (It’s not that bad people)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge: Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs

Yesterday was the last day I could possibly make August's Daring Bakers challenge. I had all the ingredients in the fridge, but had resigned myself to the fact I probably wouldn't make them. The kitchen hasn't been my favourite place since I found out I'm pregnant, the exhaustion and nauseous kills the fun, so I wasn't expecting to jump out of bed and feel like hours of whisking, beating, stirring and baking but I did! And, I am glad I did, these are so delicious! And it wasn't too complicated.

Tony Tahhan & Meeta set this months yummy chocolate-y challenge. Following our Daring Bakers forums this month, it seemed like a few people struggled so I was a little nervous but it all came together quite nicely. Now, I know my little creations don't look great, but I blame that on not having a big enough nozzle for my piping bag so I struggled to make the choux pastry into decent shapes (you should see the 'finger' style, eclairs ones - ha!). Yes, they don't look great but they tasted perfect if I may say so myself.

I was planning to make the pastry cream vanilla rather than chocolate but I had a visitor chatting to me whilst I was making these so I didn't pay close attention and suddenly realised I had made chocolate pastry cream! I'm glad I did to be honest, cos this component was my favourite - yum. Although this was my favourite, this pastry cream also annoyed me the most as I could not get it thick enough to pipe nicely into the choux pastries. Eventually I added some thick whipped cream which helped a little, but not enough. Its ok, people don't realise till they take a bite and yummy chocolate cream oozes all over them. Fun to watch if you ask me.

Please find the recipe below and if you want to check out my fellow Daring Bakers please do so here.

(Oh, I forgot to mention, I followed the recipe to the letter, but I halved the chocolate sauce ingredients at the end and it was plenty for the 7 tablespoons needed for the glaze).

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

Cream Puff Dough
½ cup (125g) whole milk
½ cup (125g) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
2 cups (500g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four instalments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

Chocolate Glaze
1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce
4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 g) water
½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Sathya-rating ****

Friday, 29 August 2008

Fragrant Custard Apple Cake is a great Australian website linked to a local newspaper which I enjoy having a look at from time to time when I feel adventurous or like a challenge.

I found this recipe sometime ago and when my sister came over from Melbourne recently and lunch was to be at our house, I thought this would be the perfect dessert as she cannot eat chocolate.

I never really made up my mind about this cake, I didn’t really enjoy making it as there wasn’t enough batter to spread it on the bottom of the pan, then pour on the custard and then spread on more batter. Secondly, ‘spreading’ batter on runny custard is not easy with a thick batter. I ended up adding some of the left over egg whites into the batter to make it runny and just putting spoonfuls on top of the custard and hoping for the best. When it finally came out of the oven it looked perfect and delicious, the sliced apple and spiced sugar helped I think.

Once we let it cool a little and sliced it into chunks and served it with cream everyone was very happy and enjoyed it. Personally, I was expecting a layer of cake, layer of custard and another lay of apple cake, but the custard kinda went into the cake. You couldn’t differentiate the custard at all. Some bites were moist and custardy and others were just ordinary cake. If I make this again, I think I would add some of the spices to the batter and possibly put some apples slices on top of the batter before the custard goes in. Anyway, it lovely, and everyone enjoyed it and it was lovely to sit around the table with the whole family.

For the custard
1 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
55g castor sugar
30g plain flour
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:
200g soft butter
110g castor sugar
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour, sifted
2 small unpeeled apples, cored and thinly sliced (about 140g each)
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp castor sugar, extra
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon

For the custard
Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl until thick then add flour and whisk until smooth. Pour hot milk onto egg yolk mixture and stir until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan and stir over low heat until mixture comes to the boil. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes until thick then remove from heat, stir in vanilla and chill, covered in the fridge.

For the cake
Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Combine butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Fold in flour.

Spread half the mixture into a 22cm greased and base-lined cake tin, add custard and smooth with a spatula.

Add spoonfuls of remaining cake mix and spread carefully with a spatula to cover custard.

Arrange apples on top of cake mixture and brush with melted butter. Combine sweet spice mix with extra castor sugar and sprinkle over apples.

Bake for 60 or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in pan before turning out.

Sathya-rating ***

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Cucumber & Feta Dip

I've mentioned several other food bloggers on here, I think, many of them I admire and enjoy reading and seeing what they're up to. David Lebovitz is an amazing blogger, writer and chef who lives in Paris and keeps me regularly entertained with all sorts of interesting recipes and tales. A recipe he recently blogged about caught my eye, I printed it out and made it the next day for a big family lunch to celebrate my sister being in Adelaide for the weekend.

Now, David mentions how fantastic the cucumber & feta dip below is, and I was expecting a lot as all the ingredient are up there in my favourites list but you should have seen everyone wolf this dip down! It was sensational. I will be making this again and again!

I served Joanne Weir's cucumber and feta dip with triangles of pita bread brushed with olive oil and paprika and crisped them under the grill for a few minutes.

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into pea-sized pieces
coarse salt
8 ounces (225g) feta cheese (see Note)
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
2-3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely-diced
1 tablespoon (each) chopped fresh mint, parsley and fresh dill

Place the cucumber pieces in a colander, mix with a light sprinkling salt, and let drain 30 minutes to an hour, shaking the colander from time to time.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and mash together with the olive oil, lemon juice, water, and a few turns of black pepper.

Mix in the cucumbers, onions, and herbs. Taste, and add more salt if desired.

Sathya-rating *****

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Easy week night dinner - tom yum soup

I haven't been around much sorry, cooking and inspiration in the kitchen hasn't been the easiest thing for me at the moment. Hopefully one day soon I can explain. However, this is something I managed to whip up nice and quickly after a busy day at the office - tom yum soup. You can do the same with laksa (just use laksa paste and coconut milk instead of tom yum paste and stock). The ingredients don't matter too much, like most soups you can chuck in whatever you have in the house and think would suit. If you don't know tom yum its a sour spicy soup that is delicious!

(makes 2-3 serves)
2 tsps of ready-made tom yum paste
half cucumber, sliced
100g beancurd, cubed
handful bean sprouts
2 tbs fresh coriander leaves
500ml-1 lt stock
2 lime leaves, finely sliced
100 g oyster mushrooms, cleaned
spring onions, chopped
200g asian noodles, prepared according to packet instructions

Bring a large pot of stock to the boil, add the tom yum paste, lime leaves and mushrooms and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Place the noodles in 2 large bowls and top with cucumber, bean sprouts and spring onions and ladle in the soup mixture to cover everything. Top with coriander leaves and serve.

Sathya-rating ****

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

July Daring Bakers Challenge - Hazelnut gateau with praline butttercream

Its that time of the month for us to share our July Daring Bakers challenge with you! Yay. I love it when we get to share it, as it means the hard work is over and we get to find out soon what our next challenge is… Something without buttercream I hope!

July’s challenge, a hazelnut gateau with praline buttercream, was set by Melecotte and was awesome! Everyone loved it. I think this and the Danish Braid we did last month are my favorites so far.

I struggled with this challenge though. I think I went in too confident (as we as Daring Bakers have completed the genoise and buttercream a few times now). The cake part went fine, the glaze went fine, but the buttercream, (the blooming buttercream) wouldn’t work for me! The first attempt was lumpy as I tried to cut corners by not creaming the butter before adding it to the egg mix, so I started again. This time I followed the instructions to the letter and it just wouldn’t come together, it looked like it was curdled. But, I just kept on beating and it came together perfectly in the end. Sometimes you just gotta keep on beating. Thank goodness, as it was the best part. How could you go wrong with praline though, I ask you!

I made this cake for my youngest sister, Sals birthday and she loved it, which is the only person I really cared about. I packed ¾ of the cake up for her and she took it to work and she tells me everyone there loved it too and thought she’d bought it! That’s a compliment in my books. Or maybe not! Haha. Anyway, the recipe is to follow and if you want to look at what my fellow DB members got up to have a look here.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Gateau
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Gateau

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 180C. Grease and flour a 25.5cm X 6cm round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. (160C) Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Sathya-rating ****

Friday, 25 July 2008

Vegetarian Shepards Pie

Its cold in my part of the world at the moment. Not as cold as its gets in many other parts of the world, but cold enough that you hate getting into bed at night ‘cos its like ice, hate getting out of bed in the morning ‘cos its just so cosy, shiver while you wait for the bus and time to eat nice comforting food like Shepards Pie.

I made this one recently for my dear friends Ehren, Kate, Tony and my sister Surya. Surya and I weren’t too excited about it and thought it could have used some tomato paste and more seasoning and more herbs but everyone else really liked it. I would like to make again soon and tweak the taste a little.

This recipe came from Delia, who is one of my favourite celebrity chefs, and I think was maybe one of the first whom I fell in love with many years ago. She’s got quite a reputation in the UK, but not so much here, but her books are like bibles of the kitchen to me. The recipe and amounts are very specific, I’m not that type of cook, so feel free to work with this one as you like. I didn’t note amounts of veges etc which is annoying, sorry. I also didn’t add goats cheese to the mash as Delia states, just some grated cheese and paprika on top.

110 g dried black-eyed beans, pre-soaked and drained
75 g green split peas (no need to soak), rinsed
75 g green lentils (no need to soak), rinsed
50 g peeled carrots
50 g peeled swede
50 g peeled celeriac
1 large onion, peeled
1 small green pepper, deseeded
50 g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
225 g tomatoes
2 heaped tbs chopped rosemary
2 heaped tbs chopped parsley
¼ level teaspoon ground mace
¼ level teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

For the topping:
700 g potatoes, peeled
50 g butter
2 tbs milk
25 g Pecorino cheese, grated
1 cup grated cheddar
Sprinkling of paprika
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Soak and drain the black-eyed beans overnight if you have time and think of it in 2 pints (1.2 litres) cold water. If you need them now, bring them up to the boil (using the same amount of water), boil for 10 minutes and leave them to soak for two hours before draining.

Next, put the drained beans into a saucepan with the split peas and lentils. Add 1¼ pints (725 ml) boiling water and some salt, cover and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the pulses have absorbed the water and are soft. Remove them from the heat and mash a little with a large fork.

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C, and put the potatoes on to cook. Once they are cooked, roughly chop all the vegetables, pile the whole lot into a food processor and process until chopped small. Next, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the vegetables and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then until they're softened and tinged gold at the edges.
After that, add the vegetables to the pulses mixture, along with the herbs, spices and salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste.

As soon as the potatoes are cooked, mash them with the butter, pecerino and milk, season well with salt and freshly milled black pepper and spread the potato over the rest of the ingredients in the dish. Finally, sprinkle over the cheddar and paprika and bake the pie on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. If you want to prepare this in advance, it will need about 40 minutes in the oven.

Sathya-rating ***

Monday, 21 July 2008

Easypeasy Coconut Macaroons

Here's something super easy, quick and tasty. Coconut macaroons. I never knew they were so easy. If I did I would probably be 20kgs heavier than I am now! My lovely sister Surya threw these together and we were shocked by how they came out. Perfect. A good last minute go to recipe.

1 can of condensed milk
450g shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients together.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto generously greased baking sheets.

Bake at 180°C for 8 minutes.

Cool coconut macaroons slightly; remove to rack.

Sathya-rating ****

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Lemon Risotto with bacon & almonds

Another busy weekend of unpacking and sorting out our new home. Its coming along nicely and I’ve managed to cook a few nice meals to make it feel more like home. I have also managed to burn to cakes in the oven, so I am yet to work that one out! I made this on the weekend, which was the perfect comfort food while Adelaide is so cold and we’d worked hard around the house. This recipe comes from the gorgeous Heidi Swanson over at 101 Cookbooks which I have adapted to suit out liking. I love lemon, and I love risotto, the creamy, tangy bowl full of rice is perfectly finished with the crunchy almonds and crispy bacon. Try it, its yummy!

3 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups arborio rice
Squeeze of half a lemon
4 cups stock (or water), almost at boiling point
Grated zest of 2 lemons
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs sour cream
3 big handfuls of greens, chopped (I used rocket)
3-4 rashers of bacon, roughly chopped and fried till crispy
Handful of toasted flaked almonds to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, , garlic, and salt and fry lightly, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.

Add the rice and stir until coated by the oil. Next add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir till it evaporates.

Add one ladle of stock at stock at a time to the rice mixture, stirring continually letting the rice slowly absorb the liquid. I have the heat on medium so there’s a little bubbling but doesn’t go to fast. Add all of the stock till the rice is just cooked.

Stir in the lemon zest, parmesan, rocket and sour cream and season. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes .Taste to check the rice is cooked and seasoning is correct and serve in warm bowls topped with the toasted nuts, crispy bacon and more parmesan cheese.

Sathya-rating *****

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Easy week night dinner - Kheema with Peas

We're settling into Adelaide well, but there is just so much to do! The house is coming together and we're getting used to our jobs, slowly. All of this means I don't give this site or my kitchen as much attention as I'd like, sorry. However, the internet was connected yesterday and the kitchen is pretty much done so that will change soon.

Here is a little something I threw together after work that was so easy and so delicious! Its saucy, tasty and comforting. The best part was the leftovers the next day which we put into toasted sandwiches, yum!

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
750g lean minced lamb or beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
250ml water or stock
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
200g podded peas, fresh or frozen
1-2 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until light golden. Add the ginger and garlic, stirring well, than add mince and fry for 5 mins until browned.

Add the tomato paste, water, coriander, chilli, turmeric, salt and pepper, and stir well. Cover and cook gently for 20 mins. Uncover, add the peas and garam masala and simmer until the peas are cooked and the kheema is thick and saucy.

Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve with yogurt and breads or rice.

Sathya-rating ****

Sunday, 29 June 2008

June DB Challenge - Cherry & Custard Danish Braid

It's the end of June, which means time has come for the Daring Bakers to take over the blog-waves again!

This month we were set the enormous challenge of a Danish Braid with a filling of our choice.

Hours before I discovered this challenge, I was having lunch with dear Laura, who was telling me all about these amazing German custard and cherry pastries she devoured when she was working in Hahndorf, South Australia.

So by the time I'd finished reading the recipe for this latest challenge I knew I would use a cherry and custard filling and started thinking of how I could do that. I ended up finding a jar of morello cherries in juice at the supermarket, boiling them down with some sugar and mushing them to create a yummy compote. I glugged some custard on top and closed my braid and the end result was heavenly. Sour and sweet with flaky, sweet and buttery pastry.

The challenge took me a long time with all the resting (5 times + proofing) (one night and one morning which I didn't enjoy this time. I think because it was stopping and starting. The actual making of the braid part was fiddly but enjoyed it and the end result looked really special, which made it all worthwhile (as did the taste!). I made one large one and 1 small one, which I froze after proofing, defrosted in the fridge over night and then the next day took it out of the fridge for a few hours before popping it in the oven, and it worked fine, which is always good. Overall, I really enjoyed this challenge, I think the end result was my favourite out of all 11 challenges I have now completed, it was yum! I don't think the process was though, and I doubt I will be making Danish pastry from scratch again, although who knows!

If you would like to check out how my fellow Daring Bakers went with their Danish Braids this month you can do so here.

For the dough (Detrempe)
28 grams active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
225 grams cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour


Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the "walls" of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.


Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 45 x 33 cm and 0.5 cm thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 33 x 45 cm, 0.5 cm thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Cherry compote
Makes enough for two braids

500 grams cherries, washed, pitted and halved (or 1 jar of morello cherries)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch, or orange flavored-liqueur

In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, water, lemon juice, and sugar.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and kirsch and add to the cherry mixture.

Return to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.


Makes enough for 2 large braids


1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups cherry compote
1 cup of thick vanilla custard
2 tbs flaked almonds (for decorating)
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 38 x 50 cm rectangle, 0.5 cm thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.

Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 12 cm long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 2.5 cm apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you've already made.

Spoon the cherry compote onto down the center of the rectangle of the braid and then glug a little custard over the top of your braid.

Starting with the top and bottom "flaps", fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom "flap" up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash

Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking

Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 32 degree C environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees C, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Black Dhal

Dhal is one of my favourites. For me, its a comfort food. As mentioned on this blog a few times by now , I assume, the Indian culture, and therefore Indian cuisine has been central in my life since I was born. Whenever I’m not well or down, I enjoy making dhal (or ordering it takeaway) and enjoying it with rice and yogurt. Dhal is an easy dish to prepare made with spices and lentils. Black dhal is, in my opinion, a fancy dhal. It originated in Punjabi, in the North of India and is creamy and has a very different taste to traditional (yellow) Dhal. I’ve tried to make it a few times but this last time was the first time I truly succeeded. It tasted as it should. The black lentils (urad dhal) take a very long time to cook in comparison to other lentils. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, then you’ll need to cook it gently overnight to get the same effect.

I’m looking forward to making this again. Its delicious. I usually make way too much as it freezes really well.

1 cup black urad dal
2 tbsp kidney beans
2 tbsp chickpeas
5 cups water
salt to taste
red chilli powder to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
4 tbsp ghee
4 pureed tomatoes
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp butter
1-2 tbsp tomato ketchup
medium bunch coriander

Soak 1 cup black urad dal, 2 tbsp kidney beans and 2 tbsp chickpeas in cold water for 5-6 hours.

Drain water from soaked dals. Add 5 cups of water, 1.5 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic paste, 1/2 tsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp ghee and 1/4 tsp red chilli powder. Put these in a pressure cooker.

After first whistle, boil on low flame for 40-45 minutes.

Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a pan. Add 4 pureed tomatoes and cook till tomatoes become a little dry. Add 2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp garlic paste, 1/2 tsp ginger paste and 1/4 tsp red chili powder. Cook till oil separates.

Add boiled dal to this tomato mixture with 1 tsp butter and 1-2 tbsp tomato sauce.

Mix and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame mashing some of the dal occasionally to create a nice thick texture.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and cream.

Sathya-rating ****

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Gordon Ramsay



Gordon Ramsay.



Little ol' me.

He's perfect.


I promise a recipe is coming soon, the move is almost complete.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Perfect Party Cake

I made this again on the weekend.

Actually, would you beleive I made it twice! Once on Saturday morning for a dear friends baby shower which was demolished in under an hour and then just the cake party (no buttercream) last night. I'm having some people over for dinner tonight whom I want to spoil and as I was throwing around ideas for dessert I thought why not amke just that gorgeous cake and serve it with some berries and fresh cream. I'll let you know how it goes. I can't imagine any other way than brilliant.

The method of rubbing the sugar with the lemon zest before you get started is genius. The smell it creates is divine!

Anyhow, I just thought I'd share just how brilliant this cake really is!

Sathya-rating *****

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Baba ganoush

I don't like eggplants/aubergine. Nope, don't like it. Won't order it, cook it, serve myself some. For some reason this is changing. Its funny how things change. Everything does really, well, I think it does anyway. My tastebuds are ever changing and eggplant is one of the last things to cross the line. I made this eggplant curry a couple of months ago and loved it and now baba ganoush has come along. I love it. And, I love the eggplant curry. Does that mean I now like eggplant? Nah, I don't think so.

This is what came up when I typed baba ganoush in Google and its easy and delicious.

1 large eggplant baked then peeled
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of tahini
blend in blender or
mix with mortar
mint or parsley for garnish
olive oil/cayenne pepper to top

Roast the eggplant for one hour in a hot even and then place a plastic bag to cool, then you can peel and remove top, place in a bowl. Add garlic, lemon juice and tahini paste, blend in a blender or with a mortar. Spread onto a deep plate and garnish with parsley or mint and top with olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or paprika.

Serve with turkish bread, crackers or pita breads fresh or toasted under the grill with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Sathya-rating ****

Monday, 2 June 2008

Tiropita - Greek Cheese Pie

Being back in my home town brings all sorts of feelings. One of my favourites is catching up and cooking a nice meal for someone I love and haven't seen much of in a long time.

Monday night was one of those nights. I'd had a hard start to a second week in my new job and had forgotten plans with a dear friend I'd hardly seen since being in Adelaide. I dragged my sorry bones home wondering where I was going to muster the energy to cook dinner and hang out. Our guest arrived as I did and the pure luxury of having her there gave me all the energy I needed. I had a great night, made this pie from what was in the fridge while catching up on the latest gossip and news and just hanging out with an old friend and too much wine - I was full of beans and feeling much happier!

80 grams baby spinach
4 eggs, lightly beaten
400 grams feta cheese
few shavings fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper
10 sheets filo pastry
6 tbs melted butter
1 tsp kalonji (black onion seed)

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the spinach, eggs, cubed feta, nutmeg and salt and pepper and blend together with a bamix till just smooth.

Lay pastry on flat work surface, covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Brush one sheet with melted butter and top with second sheet of filo. Repeat until filo is finished. Brush the remaining butter into the pie dish, line with the buttered filo and spoon the filling in and fold the sides onto the top. Cut pieces from the sides if too long and place over the filling to cover. Brush the top with butter and sprinkle on the kalonji or sesame seeds and place into the hot oven for 20 minutes or till golden and firm to touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving with salad (we chopped 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 red capsicum & 4 tomatoes into chunks and tossed them in glug of olive oil, juice of half a lemon & salt and pepper).

Sathya-rating ****

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Lavender & White Chocolate Opéra Cake - Daring Bakers May Challenge

Herewith I share with you my 10th Daring Bakers Challenge - Opéra Cake. Ta-da!

Do you know what that is? I didn't. I had to read up and look through Google images. I realised immediately this was something I had eaten at a glorious high tea at the Sofitel Wentworth a few months ago. According to Larousse Gastronomique "Opéra gateau is an elaborate almond sponge cake with a coffee and chocolate filling and icing." The founders of our wonderful Daring Bakers group, Lis & Ivonne set this months challenge with clear instructions to follow the recipe but adapt the flavourings to our likings as long as the overall appearance was light in colour.

I threw around many ideas for about a week and eventually decided on an old favourite flavouring, Lavender which I had mainly used for pannacottas (that reminds me, I don't think I've done them on BCM - I will soon!).

So Lavender and White Chocolate it was. I followed the recipe we were given to the letter, however I flavoured the soaking syrup with a few leaves of lavender, the white chocolate mousse with a few more leaves of lavender and several strategic drops of food colouring.

I hope you like the look of this - I worked very hard to complete this in one evening. It went down very well, but next time I share it around I will be cutting pieces half the size as it was incredibly rich! I enjoyed this recipe immensely. As I've said many times now, my confidence gets better every time I complete a challenge and this was no exception.

If you would like to see how my fellow Daring Bakers went, please head on over to the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

Here's what I did.

A Taste of Light: Opéra Cake

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty's Chocolate Passion.

For the joconde

(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)

What you'll need:

2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans
a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what's called for in the ingredients' list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
parchment paper
a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it's preferable to have two)


6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) white sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).

Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.

Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.

Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup

(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

What you'll need:

a small saucepan


½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 3 -5 cm piece of lavender leaves

Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the buttercream

(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)

What you'll need:

a small saucepan
a candy or instant-read thermometer
a stand mixer or handheld mixer
a bowl and a whisk attachment
rubber spatula


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
seeds of one vanilla bean
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons of melted white chocolate

Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don't worry about this and don't try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

At this point add in the white chocolate and beat for an additional minute or so.

Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it's set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you're ready to use it.)

What you'll need:

a small saucepan
a mixer or handheld mixer


7 ounces (200g) white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream

Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.

Stir to ensure that it's smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse. If it's too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it's spreadable.

If you're not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you're ready to use.

For the glaze
(Note: It's best to make the glaze right when you're ready to finish the cake.)

What you'll need:

a small saucepan or double boiler


14 ounces (400g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)
5 - 8 cm piece of lavender leaves

Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream and the piece of lavender. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.

Let cool for 10 minutes, remove the lavender and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.

Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake

(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you'll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven't already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Sathya-rating ****