Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cinnamon Date Scrolls

Hubby loves coffee scrolls, cinnamon scrolls, with heaps of icing on top.  However, the doctors didn't deliver good news to him and it does look like he has to cut back some sweet addictions.

He still loves his sweet breads and I have some dates left over.  So, this is it...

Cinnamon Date Scrolls

1 part of Plain Flour Pain Viennois dough as per this recipe
100g butter (I know its bad)
6 heap tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp all spice powder
1 cup dates (roughly), diced

Makd the dough and let it proof.
When it's almost proofed for the first time, melt butter and mix in sugar, cinnamon powder, all spice and stir in the chipped dates. 

After the dough was proofed, roll it out into a rectagular shape and spread the filling mix.
Simply roll up the dough into a long log and slice...

Place them on a lined tray and let them proof again for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Brush on egg wash and and bake in 180C oven.

It's sweet enough without the icing, but it will be nice with icing as well...

Monday, June 27, 2011

FROM PHYLLO TO BAKLAVA!! - June 2011 Daring Baker Challenge

Big thanks to Erica of Erica's Edibles - what a wonderful challenge..

Believe it or not, I have been wanting to do the baklava's for years...  I love to cook with anything Mid-Eastern flavour and baklava is in the heart of a lot of cuisines in the region, Greek, Turkish, Lebonese....  Different flavours, shapes...

But, I've never done it... it's all too easy to get the little treats from the local delis or cake shops, we are living in a traditionally very Greek Italian influenced area.  Not only we get really good wood fire oven pizzas, we also get all the yummy treats and sometimes it's just over the otherside of the fence from the next door neighbour, who makes the perfect Greek coffee and all the traditional treats from scratch... 

Alright, back to the challenge.  I will have to do it now as it's the challenge.  I must admit that although I have been wanting to make filo pastry from scratch for a while (we usually call them filo not phyllo here in Australia), I know it's a tough pastry to do...

Time to get enough courage, the recipe by Eric was a very good guide.

Please scroll down to the bottom of the recipe, and watch the youtube video for rolling filo pastry,... I don't have the thin long dowel but thanks to the non stick rolling pin I bought a while back, I've done mine... with a bit of pain, I wouldn't say it's easy.

It's not so difficult to make the fillings.

The amount I use is very similar to Eric's recipe, and I toasted my almonds and pistachio's first,

before processing it with dates and dry cranberries. 

I also added a bit of lemon peels.  It only takes a few minutes to break everything down and it's also the perfect process to mix the cardemon, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar with the crushed nuts and dry fruits very well.

I brushed the sheets with clarified butter which I made earlier. 

You can use ghee, but it's easy to make clarified butter anyway, and a lot cheaper.  3 sheets for the bottom layer.

Lay the mix into the tray, using about half of the filling mix.

I layed another 2 sheets in the middle to give it a bit of crunch, brushing the sheets with butter as I go, and the rest of the filling mix.

Layed 2 more sheets on top, add plenty of butter, and cut the shape out, put it in the 180C oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup.  I did make a lott more of the syrup compared to the recipe, added more lemon juice and orange juice, as I can use the left over syrup to sweeten my home made yoghurt later on.  Strain the syrup through the sieve once it's done.

Once the baklava's baked, take out of the oven and while hot, pour hot syrup over the baklava, and when it's cooled, serve...

Brought some to work today and shared with mates during our morning quiz time... Happy team.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Perfect Roast Pork Means Perfect Crackling

What's the best part of the roast pork?  Both hubby and the girls say... the crackling, the super crispy, crunchy, fatty crackling... As a matter of fact, they'd hope the whole roast has only got cracklings.

Over the years, I've been avoiding roast porks as I haven't been able to achieve the best crackling, most of the time, I get some part good crackling, but not all.  I tried quite a few different recipes.

So when I started this roast pork leg today, I didn't really try at all.  I have been doing my roast in slow ovens lately so I started slow for the pork as well. 

Rub the scored skin with salt, cracked black pepper and olive oil and in the 125 Oven.  It's not a big piece of the leg, just around a kilo, so it took around 1 hour and half.  After that, I cranked the oven to 220C.

After around 30 minutes, amazingly, I got the perfect crackling... all over.

The only complaint was... not enough crackling..  again?  Maybe next time I should buy pork skin only.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dark Chocolate Espresso Hazel Nut Brownie with Rich Chocolate Ganache

I haven't made brownies for a while.  Everyone loves brownies, but last time I made them, I think they were too dry and didn't came out right.

It did take a long time before I wanted to do it again, and this time, instead of other recipes I use, I just based on my gut feelings and what it should be.

So this is totally mine on the go

Dark Chocolate Espresso Hazel Nut Brownie with Rich Chocolate Ganache

For the Brownie
150g Lindt's Dark Chocolate with 50% Cocoa
100g Milk Chocolate - Chunky Hazel Nut
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
150g Self Raising Flour
150g butter
1 tbsp Kahlua
2/3 tbsp Moccona Instant Espresso
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp golden Syrup
200ml milk

Whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar, until ribbony.  Whisk in golden syrup and slowly incorporate in room temperature milk until smooth.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with butter, and add the instant espresso, mix well. 
Mix the 2 liquids together, add Kahlua and mix till smooth.
Sift in SR flour. 
The mix already contains a bit of crushed hazel nut from the chocolate bar, and can add a bit more if desired, however I do find adding extra nuts make the brownies drier.
Pour in 11X7 lined greased brownie pan and bake in 140C oven for 1 hour.  The centre might still be a bit gooey, but let it cool.

Once cooled, make chocolate ganache using 80g dark chocolate, 30g butter and 100ml cream, add to the brownie.

Slice and share....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tasty Linguini Marinara with Fresh Tomatoes and Mushroom

My family loves pasta.  No doubt.  Especially the children.
However, they always love their bolognese sauce.

So this time, I made a simple linguini marinara, with vegetables, herbs and white wine as sauce.
The ingredients used:
1 kg mixed fish fillets, prawn, shell fish - seafood marinara mix.
6 ripe tomatoes
Handful of button mushrooms
1 cup of white wine
plenty of olive oil
Fresh basil, mint and parsley from the garden
crushed garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1 sliced red onion
Cracked black pepper and salt

Saute and garlic and onion in heated oil.  Meanwhile, cook the linguini in boiling water with a bit of salt.
Add in the tomato and mushrooms, saute till half cooked.
Add in the seafood mixture and , let it cooked till half cooked and add in white wine. 
Add the shopped fresh herbs, lemon juice and pepper and salt, mix well.
Drain cooked al dente linguini in colander add to the marinara mix, stir through and take pan off heat, drizzle on more extra virgin olive oil, serve with shaved parmasan and more fresh parsley.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Orange Sauce Individual Spotted Dick Pudding - Inspired by Gary Mehigan of Masterchef Australia

I must admit that I'm a fan of Aust Masterchef... I think I'd watch the Masterchef UK, US or NZ version if they are all available to free to air TV.

I am addicted to whatever cooking show on Tele.  I like all the chef's recipes on MCA, so Friday night's Master Class, is my time to enjoy TV with a cuppa.  I bookmark all the recipes, not all the time I will use the recipes straight away, but this week, hubby says, I want Gary's Pudding - The Spotted Dick with Custard...  It's such a classic English pudding and hubby would like to have it again.  After a few giggles from the children, and checking of some core ingredients, I said to hubby, alright, I will do it if my footie team win.

The AFL match was on Saturday, his team Bombers, against mine, Kangaroos.  So I said to the rest of the family who are basically all Bombers supports (less the step daughter), that I would cook dinner if my team win, and daddy would cook dinner if daddy's team win - the logic behind this was, if our footie team wins, it will brighten us up, and we will have energy to cook.  Anyway, it was my excuse to get out of cooking because before the weekend, Bombers were a much stronger team.

But, start of the game, Kangaroos were ahead in the first quarter - 2:10pm. 

Better start to prepare the roast dinner and the pudding that hubby requested.  By the time the game got into the third quarter, I told hubby that he's got pudding tonight.

I didn't use all of Gary's recipe, and I made individual puddings instead.

Individual Spotted Dick Pudding
Serves 6

coarse zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
Juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
12 tbsp sugar
100g SR flour
60g white bread crumbs (I always have some in my freezer)
2 eggs
100ml milk
1 tsp Cointeau (something that I use a lot if I'm using orange)
80ml Canola oil (I haven't got suet and I thought this is a healthier alternative)
Sultanas and other mixed fruit

1. Make orange caramel sauce, use half of the juice and all of the zest, and 8 tbsp of sugar in a small saucepan, the way how normal caramels are made, the only liquid used is the juice, so no extra liquid is needed.  Once the caramel turns a blonde, stop the cooking process by putting the bottom of the pan into cold water, and share the caramel into 6 greased ramekins. Add dried fruits, as I'm making smaller individual puddings, I only added sultanas at the bottom.

2. Whisk eggs and the rest of 4 tbsp of sugar to a silky consistancy, and slowly whisk canola oil, you should be able to get a very smooth mix, and add slowly room temperature milk. 

3. Sift in flour, mix well till smooth, fold in the bread crumbs and and rest of the juice and cointeau.  Fold in the mixed dry fruits and share between the ramekins.

4. Place all the moulds in the baking dish, fill up the water in the baking dish till 1/2 - 2/3 of the ramekins and cover the whole dish with foil.

5. I set the oven for 125C - 257F for my roast, so that's the same oven I used for this batch of puddings, and I have put them on the top rack of the oven for maximum heat, for an hour.

6. The puddings are to be served warm. I kept the whole thing in the oven after the cooking of the roast if finished, so we could get warm pudding after dinner.  Slice the knife around the pudding to release the pudding, and slice out onto the plate, drizzle on some golden syrup or our family's new favourite, maple syrup, and serve with custard, or just double cream.

Happy hubby even after a not so happy footie game.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lemon Curd

I have been wanting to make lemon curd for a while and this year, there's excuse.  We have a lot of lemons on our Lemon Myer tree.

So this is the first lot of Lemon Curd I made, using the recipe from Delicious:

Zest and Juice of 2 large lemons (I used 3 as I was trying to use up the smaller ones first)
165G sugar
2 Egg yolks
2 large eggs
80g Butter

Whisk yolks, eggs and sugar in a small saucepan, until smooth and put on low heat, add in melted butter, juice and lemon zest, and keep stirring till it's thickened.

Put through sieve, to get rid of the zest and there, luxious lemon curd...

In a sterilised jar, it keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge, great for buttering breads, sandwich between cookes, and on tarts and as cake frosting...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lemon Raisins Apricot Walnut Knot Bread

It's fun to make a sweet bread sometimes, especially when we have extra dough left from making children's Pain Viennois.

Lemon Raisins Apricot Walnut Knot Bread

2/3 quantity of the Pain Viennois dough using bread flour only.

75g butter, softened
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp all spice powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced dry apricot
2/3 cup toasted and crushed walnut
1 tbsp cream sherry

Beat butter with sugar until smooth, mix in rest of the filling ingrediants and set aside while the dough was proofing.

Roll out the dough into a square and spread on the filling mixture.

Tie up into a knot and leave on the baking tray to proof.

Brush on egg wash

and bake....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Perfect Roast Lamb

The perfect Sunday roast... is classic Aussie.  Out of all the roast meals, my favourite is the roast leg of lamb. 

First of all, I make the marinate.  As the children can't eat a lot of spicy food, we have to go with some flavoursome spices but not spicey.

Roast Leg of Lamb

2 cloves of garlic
fresh rosemary
Black pepper
Sea salt
Olive oil.

Pound the herbs with pepper and salt in mortar and pestle, and move it to the bowl and soak the herbs in enough extra virgin olive oil.  Leave aside for 1-2 hours.

Score the leg of lamb, and rub it with the marinate, place on the roast rack and leave it for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 130-140C or 285F.  Put the lamb on rack and let it go into the oven.  3.5 hours.

Without taking the meat out of the oven, put the oven to 200C or 390F for 10-15 minutes.

Cut in slices or just take it off the bone, and serve with yoghurt sauce, or gravey, this time we served with creamy potato salad...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Creative Potato Salad - June 2011 Daring Cook Challenge

Daring cooks were asked to be creative with their potato salad this month, by Jami Sorrento.

The demonstration of different potato salads and tips and ideas are here.

My family love a good potato salad, and normally when I mention the word potato salad, they go for the traditional version.  So I made one just like what I normally would make:

Potato Salad with Mayonnaise, Eggs, Bacon and Onions
6 Desiree Potatos, boiled, cooled in colander to reduce liquid, and peeled, cut in cubes
4 Eggs, hard boiled and cut in wedges
10 Capers, finely chopped
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 stripes of bacon
1 small brown onion
4 tbsp mayonnaise (whole egg mayo from shop or home made)
1 tbsp Dijion mustard

This is a very simple salad, and a lot of Aussie families have their own version of this salad, especially with the back yard barbeque.
The best potato to use in this salad will actually be baby chap, but since I've got a lot of desiree on  hand.
When potatoes and eggs are cooled and cut, pan fry the bacon and onion till fragrant and brown, put on top of the potato and eggs, add salt and cracked black pepper, capers, and the mayo and mustart, stir through,

 add a bit of herbs, if I do it for a party for adults, I'd normally add dill, parsley and chive, but when serving at home, I know the children don't like a lot of herbs so I just added some chives.

Serve with roast leg of lamb.

The second salad I made was a couple of nights later, more fit for adults and more mediterranean flavour.

Pan Roasted Spicey Potato Salad with Garden Greens

For the spice mix for the potatoes, I used smoke paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, dry herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme), salt and cracked black pepper, lemon zest, (I would have addedn cajun peppers but I had a very hot and spicey lunch and decided to leave the heat out).

Potatoes are skinned and cubed, steamed and dried.

Heat up some extra virgin olive oil and add in potato cubes, add spices and coat them well, set aside to cool.

The rest of the salad is endive leaves, a couple, 1 cubed lemonese cucumber, 3 small riped tomato, 1 small avocado, a couple baby carrots - blanched, feta cheese.

Salad dressing is vinegarette made of 1 tbsp lemon myer juice, 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, salt and cracked pepper and 1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey). 

Whisk very well until well combined and dressing look a bit pale yellow, smooth and milky look.  

Stir through.

We had aged scotch fillet for dinner with the salad, and garlic yoghurt sauce for the steak.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Moist Apple Tea Cake

Hmmm.. I know something is playing my mind... what was I thinking.  I mean earlier on, I bought some condensed milk.  They have been sitting on the shelf for a while and I never really liked them as they were just too sweet.

And after the Masterchef's cans and frozen challenge, I thought, might find some way to use up some.

After using up some for pancakes, I found myself using the rest of the condensed milk, stewing some apples.  Big mistake.  It looked... funny.

Anyway, to rectify what I've done to the apple and condensed milk, I made this Apple Tea Cake, which is actually quite moist...

Apple Tea Cake

150g Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
50ml milk
150ml sweetened condensed milk
2 large apples (pink lady) sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp all spice powder
100ml canola oil
1 tsp vanilla essense

First of all, of course, stew the apple with condensed milk until apple pieces just cooked, set aside to cool.
Whisk eggs and slowly add in oil, vanilla essense whisk till smooth.  Add milk and whisk till smooth, then sift in flour, and spices.   Add in the apple condensed milk mixture.
Bake in a greased loaf tin (I used my silicon tin) in a preheated 190C oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. 

It's a very moist cake and does take time to cook..

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vanilla Almond Pancakes with Maple Syrup

We have been buying a lot of maple syrup lately because we have been having our weekend pancake brekkies, and most of the time, the children would like to have maple syrup.  This time, something really simple and flavoursome.

Vanilla Almond Pancakes with Maple Syrup

150g Self Raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essense
4 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
250ml milk
30ml macadamia oil
50g almond meal

Whisk egg and sugar till light and pale, whisk with oil and until smooth.
Add in milk, vanilla and mix well.  Sift in flour and fold in almond meal.
I normally do my pancakes on medium heat on non stick service, and it's a simple brekky if drizzeled with maple syrup...

Will be also nice with a dulop of whipped cream.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Braised Lamb in Passata with Gnocchi - Potato Dumplings

It's cold cold winter here.
Time to use a lot of my slow cooker.

A dinner that can easily be prepared the night before.

This time, slow braised lamb in passata with gnocchi - the fluffy potato dumplings.

The night before, brown all sides of the meat (I'd love to be able to do it just before the slow cooking process starts, but as previous posts states, I start working roughly 7am every morning) and make a bouquet garni of parsley, bay leave, rosemary and mint.

The next day, cut the veggies, zucchini and fresh tomatos and an onion and 2 cloves of garlic, lay at the bottom of the slow cooker, add lamb pieces - shanks, and necks, and add passata, white wine and bouquet garni.

Let it cook for the day.

The job is then easy when I came home.  While the lamb is simmering, make gnocchi.

500g desiree potato with 100g flour plus extra to dust, will usually give my family enough potato gnocchis.  The children are not specific about the seashell shapes and they are happy with the rustic cuts.  Gnocchis don't take long to cook, and this is a lovely winter meal...