Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Summertime Pavlova

Pavlova is another dessert that is very big in my family. Mum used to make them all the time when I was a little girl; and decorate them to look amazing. I always assumed they would be very difficult to make, but as it turns out they are so simple. I wish I knew as they are one of my favourite desserts and I'd have been making a lot more if I knew how easy they are!

The pavlova does sink when it is finished cooking, but I was let in on a little secret. If your oven is electric then do open the door slightly as it cools. But if your oven is gas, leave the door closed and let it cool inside the oven.

I was very happy with my first attempt at Pav. It was crunchy outside and chewy inside. And it all disappeared in five miuntes flat!

3 egg whites
4 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream, to serve
2 passionfruit to decorate
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat teh egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, then the vinegar, cream or tartar, cornflour and vanilla extract and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
Spoon the meringue onto the centre of the tray then spread it out to form a 20cm circle. Put into preheated oven for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 120 degrees and cook for a furter hour.
Turn the heat off and leave the door slightly ajar and allow the meringue to completely cool in the oven.
Serve topped with whipped cream and passionfruit.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

I went back to my parents fabulous olive grove in the Clare Valley... again, on the weekend. Had a wonderful, relaxing, rather drunk time. I was on cooking duty on Friday night and dad and I decided Lamb Shanks would be the go. I had taken all my cookbooks with me and we went through them and searched for the lamb shank recipe we fancied the most! In the end dad won out as he wanted the shanks with the most spice and flavour. Mum wanted veg and I wanted sauce! In the end I think we all got what we wanted.

The smell, flavour and texture of these shanks is unbeatable. Mum has decided to cook the same meal for all of her friends who are coming over for a dinner party this weekend; and I bought a few extra shanks when I was purchasing these, so Andy will be having shanks for dinner tomorrow night. And I truly can't wait!

4 lamb shanks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons dried chilli
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrot, quartered & finely sliced
5 sticks of celery, quartered & finely sliced
2 medium onions, quartered & finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
170ml dry white wine
6 anchovy fillets
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Season the lamb with salt & pepper. Smash up the coriander seeds & dried chilli & mix with rosemary & dried oregano in a mortar and pestle. Roll the lamb in this mixture, pressing it well. Dust the lamb with the flour.

Heat a thick bottomed casserole pan, add the oil, brown the meat on all sides & then remove from the pan. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, onions & a pinch of salt and sweat until softened. Add the vinegar & allow it to reduce to a syrup. Pour in the wine & allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Add the anchovies & tinned tomatoes, kept whole. Shake the pan & return the lamb to it. Bring to the boil, put on a lid & simmer in the oven at 180 degrees for 2 hours. Remove lid & cook for a further half an hour. Season to taste & stir in the fresh parsley.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Golden Syrup Dumplings

You cant get much more Australian than Golden Syrup Dumplings! They are so delicious and so naughty! In our family they were only served as a very very special treat, generally on our birthdays. It was the one day of the year that we could request whatever we wanted for dinner! So nine times out of ten it would be KFC for dinner and Golden Syrup Dumplings for dessert. They are most definitely in my top five favourite sweets!
And so last night was the first time I have ever made them. I've come up to Clare for a few days to stay with my parents and nana. So under mum and nana's guidance I made my first Golden Syrup Dumplings. I always believed, as did my sister, brother and father, that mum and nana never made enough syrup. You can never ever have enough syrup. So I tripled the syrup. The recipe below is the triple syrup version, and by far the best.
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup milk approx
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cups water

Rub butter and flour together with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix. Add dashes of milk until it forms a dough. Roll balls with the dough mix. About half the size of a golf ball.
Mix the syrup ingredients together and heat over medium/high heat until bubbles form around the edge then turn down to medium and add the dumplings. Let them cook themselves, no need to turn them or poke them. After about fifteen minutes when they have doubled in size and are golden brown, serve with cream.


Gingerbread Men

It's my nephew Louie's 6th birthday today! And so there is a big birthday party at his house this Saturday. I was placed on gingerbread man duty which I was very pleased about! I hadn't made gingerbread men since I was a little girl with my nana. I did drink a bottle of wine, and then some as i made them, so the icing is a little skewif! But I'm sure Louie and his friends will devour them! I was lazy (and drunk) so instead of making up my own icing I used the colourful, premade icing in the tubes. It did make it a lot quicker and easier. However, the premade icing tastes like musk. I believe a true gingerbread man should have home made icing. But overall they were really fantastic! I was very proud!

Melted butter, to grease
125g butter, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
1 egg, separated
375g (21/2 cups) plain flour
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Plain flour, to dust
Icing, to decorate
Smarties, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush 2 baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick. Use a 9cm gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Pipe icing over gingerbread men to decorate. Finish with Smarties.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Risotto Relay!!

Sathya & Liz would like to invite all fellow bloggers to be part of our Risotto Relay! We luurve a good risotto and we want to accumulate as many fantastic recipes as possible! So put on your aprons and get chopping, stirring and garnishing!

Email us your name, blog name, link to your risotto and a photo, with the subject Risotto Relay, at . Mention the Risotto Relay in your post with a link to our site by the 20th of October and we will choose the winner for the most tantilising risotto of all!

As we are Australians, we would like to present the winner with a delicious packet of Tim Tams! Australia's most famous and delicious chocolate biscuits! So get cooking and let Australia see your talent...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tomato & Prosciutto Risotto

Risottos are one of my favourite dishes. However, when it comes to cooking them I always have a phobia of the "constant stirring" part; that I will somehow burn it and ruin it. Thus, the only risottos I have ever made have been the "bake in the oven" type. I decided it was time I moved past this fear, as it surely couldn't be that hard! And it wasnt!

It was the prosciutto that drew me into this one. It asked for four slices, but being the greedy guts I am, when it comes to prosciutto, I bought 8 slices. In the end though, it didn't need it. The flavour of the risotto is so lovely that too much prosciutto makes it a bit sickly. So I do recommend sticking with the recipe and not being a glutton like me!

It was very easy, only a few ingredients, but fantastic subtle flavours. I'll definitely be doing this one again... and again.

1 litre chicken stock
4 large slices of prosciutto, cut in half crossways
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
3 ripe roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
rocket, to serve

Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a low simmer.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the prosciutto. Cook on both sides until golden and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the butter, garlic and leek to the saucepan and saute for 4-5 mins, or until the leek is soft and transparent. Add the rice and stir for a minute until the rice is well coated and the grains are glossy.

Ladle 250ml of stock into the pan and simmer, stirring until it is completely absorbed. Add another 250ml of stock and the chopped tomato. Cook, stirring, for a further few minutes until the stock is completely absorbed, then add another 250ml of stock. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, then test the rice to see if it is al dente. If it needs more cooking, add the remaining stock. Splash in the sherry and add half the parmesan, then lightly fold it through the risotto.
Spoon into four warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Crumble the prosciutto into smaller pieces and scatter over the risotto. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with a rocket salad. Serves 4.

Passionfruit Shortbread Biscuits

This is another recipe from the Stephanie Alexander book. My nana gave me a good quality piping bag for my birthday so I wanted a recipe for which I could use it. These biscuits were very easy and ready to eat in no time. They taste like a summers day. I love shortbread but sometimes it can be a bit much, but these are light and quite refreshing...
According to the recipe they store really well and taste better if freshly iced. So they suggest only icing them as you need them and storing the rest in an airtight container.

180g softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of three passionfruit
100g cornflour, sifted
180g self raising flour, sifted

50g unsalted butter
1 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of 2 passionfruit
Briefly cream butter, zest and icing sugar in a food processor (be careful not to over process). Mix in passionfruit pulp, cornflour and flour. Scrape mixture into a bowl and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 220 degrees. Pipe rounds or fingers of batter onto baking trays lined with baking paper and bake until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing, melt butter in a bowl over simmering water. Add passionfruit pulp to butter and then stir in icing sugar. Beat hard for 1-2 minutes until the icing is really shiny. Dip each biscuit into icing and place on a wire rack with baking paper underneath to catch the drips.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Orange Cake

It was my birthday last Friday and I was absolutely spoiled!! Everyone gave me cooking foody stuff which was fantastic!! Best birthday for presents EVER I reckon!! And one of the presents I received from Andy was the Stephanie Alexander cookbook which I have had my eye on for a very long time. He also gave me a deep fryer (like my thighs need it!)

This Stephanie Alexander book is amazing. It is an encyclopedia for any cook, especially Australians!! It is divided into chapters based on the ingredient! So if you are looking to cook with limes for example, then head to 'L' for lime and it will give you a complete background on limes, how to store them, how to cook them, how to peel them, ideas and tips and information one would never reaslise about limes; plus a whole bunch of fantastic recipes which main ingredient is lime!
It has an amazing range of recipes for all the standard ingredients like beef, chocolate, cheese, olives etc; but also goes as far as kangaroo, pheasant, yabbies and rabbit, to chesnuts, tarragons, pommegranates and figs! I am going to have a fantastic time making my way through this book, all 1,126 pages!!!
So tonight I decided I would bake a cake! Also because Andrew's brother Dave and his fiance Monique gave me a gorgeous cake tin for my birthday. And so the orange cake seemed like the best choice...
It is delicious! The icing is like the glaze on Krispy Kremes! It has just enough orange flavour to not be overpowering. I couldn't wait to cut myself a slice!

250g softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100mg orange juice
250g self raising flour

1 cup pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon orange juice
40g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and greace a 22cm spring form tin or round cake tin with a little butter.
Blend butter, sugar, eggs and orange juice in a food processor for about 1 minute. (I used an electric mixer). Add flour and mix again until smooth and creamy, about another minute. Spoon into tin and bake for 50 minutes or until skewer inserted into the middle tests clean. Transfer tin to a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn cake out. Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, combine all ingredients into a bowl and warm over a saucepan of hot water. Pour icing over cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lime Curd Cupcakes

It has been over a month since I have added anything to the Baker Curry Maker and I have missed it so much! But the diet is finally over and I am ready and rearing to get back into the cooking! Sathya pointed out this new monthly cup cake event and I thought it was a perfect way to get back into the baking! And what a fantastic ingredient to be using, lime!!

It was my 28th birthday this weekend and so Andrew and I decided to spend it at my parent's olive grove in the Clare Valley. Clare is one of South Australia's most well known and beautiful wine regions. One of my many wonderful gifts was a Donna Hay cookbook, which is where I found this recipe which I have adapted to make two delicious cupcakes using the key ingredient, Lime!

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk
icing sugar for dusting

Lime Curd
1/2 cup lime juice (approx 3 limes)
125g butter
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

To make the lime curd, place the lemon juice, butter, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of rapidly simmering water for 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Refrigerate until cool.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat well.

Spoon the mixture into twelve patty cases and bake for 15 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool.

Cut a circle out of each cupcake and fill with the lime curd. Top with the cupcake circle and dust with the icing sugar.

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes

Make the cupcakes as above but instead of cutting a circle out of the top, ice them generously with lime vienna icing!

1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 drops vanilla essence
90g butter

Mix the above ingredients together and ice the cupcakes. Sprinkle lime rind over the top.