Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Monte Carlos

Sorry no fancy words today, just a recipe.

Monte Carlos
Recipe from Recipes+ May 2009

125g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup custard powder
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup milk

Jam Filling
50g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Using an electric mixture, beat butter, sugar and essence in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
2. Sift flours and custard powder into butter mixture. Add coconut and milk. Using a round-bladed knife, cut through mixture until well moistened and beginning to clump together. Press dough into ball.
3. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on prepared trays, leaving room for spreading. Using a fork, press tops to flatten to 5cm rounds, then make a cross pattern. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Jam Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a small bowl until light and creamy. Add the jam, mix roughly.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate Pots de Creme

This last weekend my very best friend came over for dinner. A few days before her visit I asked what she wanted for dessert. Her answer "something custard-y, gooey... chocolatey" My first thought was Pots de Creme. I had seen a recipe in the February copy of Recipes+ and was planning on making that one, but in my last minute rush I didn't have the 6 hours to let it set. A quick net search landed me with this great recipe from My Recipes. It was written for 8 but I halved it. It tasted great, and had a great texture, firm top with a lovely gooey custard beneth, just as requested by the honoured guest!

Chocolate Pots de Creme
recipe from My Recipes

Ingredients (Makes 4)
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Put 4 ramekins into a large roasting pan.
2. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a pan over medium heat, warm cream, milk and 1/8 cup sugar, whisking often, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just simmering. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pour over chocolate. Let stand 3 minutes to melt chocolate; whisk until smooth.
3. In a second bowl, whisk remaining sugar and egg yolks until well combined and pale yellow. Whisking yolk mixture vigorously, slowly pour in about 1 cup chocolate mixture. Pour in remaining chocolate mixture, whisking well. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup.
4. Pour mixture from measuring cup evenly into ramekins. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Carefully transfer pan to oven and bake until custards are just set (they will jiggle slightly in centre), 25-25 mintes. Remove ramekins from water bath and let cool to room temperate on a wire rack. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 1 hour.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Coconut and White Chocolate Cookies

Happy Australia Day! The lamb roast is ready to go in the oven, lamingtons are in production and the cricket is on the TV, what a great way to celebrate being Australian. This year my celebrations are alot quieter than last. I'm spending the day at home alone, just relaxing. I've done a little cooking, but a whole lot more just sitting around in front of the cricket.

These cookies aren't particularly Australian, they were just the flavours I felt like at the time. Similar to the very common white chocolate and macadamia cookies, but a little cheaper (macadamias are so expensive!) They are just sweet enough with a lovely hint of coconut. Great for sharing, I took mine to the 20/20 cricket and snacked on throughout the week. And I got to use these very cute measuring cups I got for christmas. They are very easy to store and have 2/3 and 3/4 cup measurements too, how awesome is that.

Coconut and White Chocolate Cookies

125g unsalted butter
1 cup+ 1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

1. Preheat oven to 180C; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
2. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well. At low speed, add the plain and self-raising flours and coconut and mix until a soft dough forms. If its too crumble add a little milk at a time. Add the chocolate and mix using a wooden spoon.
3. Mould 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough into balls. Place on prepared sheets, 5cm apart, and press down lightly. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden on the bottom. Allow to cool on baking sheets.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mayonnaise Chocolate Brownies

Ever read a recipe that you just have to try straight away? I saw this in the current issue of Australian Good Food and made it almost straight away. I have tried Low Fat Brownies before that are nice but was very interested in this recipe. This one uses mayonnaise to help lower the fat content, something I have used before when I made Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. That worked out really well so I was confident in these brownies. The texture is definitely more cakey then fudgy but that's the way I like my brownies and the use of a good quality dark chocolate makes them beautifully rich. I never revealed the reduced fat nature of these brownies to my testers and they were all satisfied, with no clue to the true ingredients, infact I've renamed them Mayonnaise Brownies instead of the Reduced-fat Chocolate Brownies title it has in the magazine. I have pretty strong brownie competition from a friend who makes the fudgiest, richest brownies you have ever tasted and these didn't measure up for many of my tasters but for a lower fat (they're not 'low fat' just less then a regular brownie) they are pretty darn good.

Here's how it went:
Grab all the ingredients, and plug in your ipod. The recipe called for 70% cocoa chocolate but 85% was all I could get, but whatever you choose make sure its good quality dark because you really taste it.

You might have some lunch as well. Multi-tasking give it a try.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin. I'm sure a glass dish would also work.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water on low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Look at that gorgeous gorgeous chocolate.

Meanwhile, sift flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda. Stir sugars into chocolate with coffee, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in warm water. Whisk in egg.

Stir in mayonnaise until smooth and glossy. I used low fat mayo because its what I had in the fridge, which means they're even lower fat, awesome. Gently fold through flour mixture until just combined.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth surface, if you're neat that way. Stick it in the oven for 30 mintues and chill out in front of the TV while you wait. The brownies need to cool completely in the pan, so a little more patience is needed. Then outta the pan, cut up and taste test.

Reduced Fat Chocolate Brownies (Mayonnaise Brownies)
From Australian Good Food Jan/Feb 2010

85g dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp powdered instant coffee
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp warm water
1 egg
1/3 cup mayonnaise

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water on low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, sift flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda. Using a wooden spoon stir sugars into chocolate with coffee, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in warm water. Whisk in egg. Stir in Mayonnaise until smooth and glossy. Gently fold through flour mixture until just combined.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth surface. Bake for 30 mintues, until a skewer inserted comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Cool completely in pan. Cut into 12 pieces to serve.

The article said there are 658kJ and 6g total fat in each brownie, compared to 1351kJ and 18g fat of a regular brownie.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

San Francisco

San Francisco holds a very special place in my heart. During my last semester of university I studied abroad at San Francisco State University. I spent 5 beautiful months exploring this incredible city. It has so much to offer and every time I return it feels just like home.

On our first night we wandered down to Pier 39 and around Fisherman's Wharf. Touristy yes, but it is a great location. My brother was a little tired of burgers (Can you believe it!) and felt like fish. Now I'm sure your thinking, great, a lovely little seafood restaurant, maybe some lobster, and of course clam chowder. Well sorry you'll just have to visit for yourself to find out about that experience. Because we went to Joe's Crabshack. Now in defence, at the time of walking in we didn't know it was a huge chain, nor did we know they dance on the tables, but the food was good and just the change in menu we were looking for. I had the fish and chips, G. had the fish and shrimp and chips.

The next night we took it up a notch in chain restaurants and had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Up until this point we'd never ordered dessert after dinner because we were always too full from dinner, but we were determined to make it to dessert this time. It was definitely worth it. I had the most incredible Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundae ever. It was three of the densest, fudgiest, chocolatiest (?? huh?!) brownie I'd ever had with ice cream, whipped cream and choc fudge. Amazing. Incredibly sweet and rich. I managed to eat one of the brownies and a scoop of ice cream and I was done, but the memory remains forever. In case you are wondering, I didn't have cheesecake because I don't like it, but my brother did and I think he thought the cheesecake was just as amazing as my brownie.

When we were planning this trip there was only one place my brother was determined to eat at and we had to wait until San Francisco to get our chance. In 'n' Out was on the cards for lunch today. I'd never eaten there before because I don't eat burgers and that's all they serve. This day I stuck with fries, and the thickest milkshake I've ever had. B had the double double cheese burger which he really enjoyed. I don't think it was his favourite burger ever but it lived up to the hype.

The Ferry Building. Oh the joys, the love of the ferry building. If you ever go to San Francisco go here. No seriously do it if you do nothing else. There is the fresh food, cheese, meat, bread, chocolate... on and on it goes. So pretty, so yummy. There is a small selection of restaurants as well. For dinner after In 'n' Out lunch, my bro was back on the burger wagon and we went to Taylor's Automatic Fresher in the Ferry Building for more burgers. This place is kinda a cross between a diner and fast food place. It looks like a diner, the menu is like a diner, but you order and pay at the counter. I had chicken tenders with fries and grilled cheese. G. had a burger (shock horror) fries and chicken tenders. He said it was the best burger he's had yet. That's a pretty big statement given the number of burgers he ate in two weeks. The chicken tenders and grilled cheese I had were pretty damn good too.

Our 13th and final full day was nice and relaxed. We slept in and then just wandered around this beautiful town. For lunch we stumbled into this really great little diner on Chestnut St, Bechelli's. It was probably the most authentic diner experience we've had all trip. I had grilled cheese with bacon, dripping with oil and delicious. G. had a burger (his 4th in a row, it really is getting disgusting at this point). Dinner was a not so authentic diner experience, Lori's Diner back in the city. Don't get me wrong, its a great menu, good food but well its a bit same same. I had chicken tenders. G. had his 5th burger in 3 days.

I have loved my brief trip to the USA. Lots of great food, and tons of shopping. I've bought a few cook books, some cookie cutters and a couple other bits and pieces. Check out the pic of my loot. The books I picked up were Baked, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and Big Fat Cookies. I also picked up the January copy of Food Network Magazine and an old copy for Everyday Food. Look out for some great posts about these in the future.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Las Vegas

Las Vegas has certainly got to be one of the best culinary destinations in the USA. You can eat whatever you just about whenever you want. A huge range of cuisines to sample and arguable the best selection of US and World acclaimed chefs you'll find anywhere. But you won't be seeing any reviews for those restaurants here. As I've said before I'm a very fussy eater and my brother, who is joining me on this trip, is a simple burgers and bbq kinda guy. So thats what we ate, low cost everyday food. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good, it was great food, just the way we like it. This was not my first trip to Vegas, but I still managed to eat at a few new places, and if you've ever been to vegas you know that this place changes very often, so there is always something new.

You really can't avoid the Harley Davidson Cafe, its right on the strip with a huge sign and plenty of bikes out the front. My brother is a big fan of Hard Rock Cafe, but he thought this would be a better place on our first night, seeing as you can go to Hard Rock anywhere. We started off with an apetizer of chicken tenders coated in cornflake crumbs. G had a huge steak with a ton of sides. I had the fried chicken with fries, corn and biscuit. We also ordered a side of garlic bread, but with all this food our eyes really were bigger then our stomachs.

Vegas is all about buffets. I tend to avoid them in most places, but in Vegas it is just done so well (usually) and is an experience. We went to the Spice Market Buffet inside Plant Hollywood Casino (formally the Aladdin). It's considered the best buffet in Las Vegas and for good reason. Its divided into 6 stations of different cuisines, Seafood, Italian, Middle Easters, Asian, American and Mexican, plus soup and salad. We ate a fair amount from each station but it was really all about the dessert. There was a wide selection of cakes, pastries and pies as well as chocolate mousse and ice cream (with all the toppings!). I had three servings of dessert, more then what I ate of the mains. Amazingly good food, definitely how all buffets should be.

The next morning, despite still being full from the night before, I was determined to have a sit down breakfast. There was a Denny's across the road, and while not by any means gourmet food, I wanted my brother to have the Denny's experience. He ordered a Lumberjack Grand Slam (with extra bacon) while I stuck to some pancakes. It may be run of the mill, but it does keep you happy.

For dinner on our last night we went to Diablo's Cantina, situated next to the New York, New York casino (where we were staying). I love Mexican food and struggle to find decent Mexican back in Australia (there is one really great place near home, but it took me a long time to find it) so I was definitely determined to have some on this trip. My brother isn't a huge fan though so I knew it would only happen once or twice. We had walked past this place a couple times and liked the look of the menu and enjoyed the atmosphere. I had a Chicken Quesadilla and G had sizzling combination Fajitas which were both great dishes. G is definitely liking Mexican food more and more.

Next stop San Francisco

*and yes I realise its been a while between posts, I'm actually back in Australia already, just trying to find time between unpacking and cleaning to post. Plus having a cold doesn't help either*

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New York City - Part 2

Well I'm not in New York anymore but I will catch you up on my time there. We've had some more great meals (and some quite boring ones) and been to some great little food markets as well. The above picture is from Chelsea Market, an amazing collection of little food stores and restaurants. While I didn't purchase anything I had a very difficult time leaving. It's such a shame that I can't take any food back into Australia with me (besides chocolate and other processed, packaged food). There was also a kitchen supply store that couldn't resist. I love kitchen supplies about as much as I love cooking (maybe even more!), it's so tempting to get a second suitcase just for cake tins and utensils!

Our forth day in New York was freezing! Colder then any other day (I'm sure I said that everyday). We started the morning with a quick breakfast of hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls from Angela's Rock and Roll Deli, a tiny little place right near central park.

Lunch was even better. We had seen this place full of people the day before and when we ended up near it again at lunch time we had to go in. Silver Spurs Diner is a great local diner with huge character and huge meals. It seems like the burgers are their signature dish, G had the cheeseburger with bacon. I had a grilled cheese that was perfectly cooked with the just the right amount of cheese and butter. One of the best things about this place was the people. We were sitting next to two men, who judging by their very interesting conversation seemed to be medical researchers, perhaps professors at the local NYU. Such a New York moment.

The next day was New Years Eve, and not very foodie at all. This was the
morning I went to chelsea market but the rest of the day was pretty uneventful food wise. The evening however was an experience. Like true tourists we decided to do the Times Square thing. While I'm glad we did it, because I would have regretted it if we didn't, I don't recommend it. We stood in the freezing cold, rain and snow for 6 hours. From our location we could see the Times Square ball, but we couldn't see or hear any of the entertainment so it made for a boring evening really. But we survived and welcomed 2010 with about a million other people.

New Years day was a very late start. It was our last day in New York but we were too exhausted to really do much at all. We went to Heartland Brewery near Rockerfeller for dinner. I had been to a Heartland on a previous trip and thought my brother would enjoy it but it didn't measure up to my expectations. The service was not great and the food was pretty average. We ordered an appetizer which never arrived, and waited about 40 minutes for our mains. Not the best end to our time in New York, but I'm sure it was just a bad night for them.

Next stop is Las Vegas for 3 nights. I love Las Vegas for its shopping and endless choice of great places to eat. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good Bye 2009

I am SO glad to get to the end of this year. It has been quite a year with a lot happening in my life behind this blog. It hasn't been the greatest year, so I'm looking forward to moving on and starting a bigger and better new year. It hasn't all been bad though this year, I've worked slowly on my blog and think its time to celebrate.
Thank you for visiting and please look out for even more bigger and better recipes in 2010. Happy New Year!

My Top Five Recipes

Most Viewed Recipe

Post with the Most Comments

Favourite Comment Recipe

My favourite comment was actually an email from a lovely mother who wanted to thank me for providing recipes that her daughter, recovering from anorexia, had found and loved. I was so grateful to receive such a great email and hope I can continue to help.

Favourite Picture

Best Unpublished Recipe
Tiramisu Cupcakes

So that is just some of what I did accomplish in 2009, but I really did fail with the goals I set myself last January. I didn't do any of them. So for 2010, I'm taking it as it comes. I'll bake and cook when I feel like it, no pressure. Let the new year begin

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New York City

Here I am coming live from New York which is just a little far from home. I am over here for a two week trip with my brother. We will be in New York for 6 days (including new years eve) and then move on to Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Since I won't be baking for a few weeks I thought instead I would share with you some of the meals, snacks and food related stores we encounter. Please don't expect lavish restaurants and exciting discoveries. We are simple (sometimes very fussy) eaters and are trying to experience as much 'american' food as we can . So that include chain restaurants, fast food and what many might see as a little boring and everyday. We also don't have a huge budget so 5 star restaurants are definitely out of the question. Another thing, because lighting is often so bad in restaurants, and mostly I'm too busy eating to take pictures, most of the photos posted will come form the establishments own website. Although that isn't authentic blogging, my aim is more to share the places we visit, rather then my personal photos.

So what are our food highlights from the last three days?

At the end of our first full day in NYC which I filled with shopping and my brother went to a giants game, we decided to check out the local restaurants near our hotel (The Pod Hotel). We decided on a nice local bar, The Pig and Whistle. I had Chicken Tenders and Fries (which will be a common choice for me) and my brother G had The Real McCoy Burger . It was great food, great atmosphere and what seemed very authentic. This was an experience quite different from the touristy times square.

By the time we had lunch on our second day we were starving! We ran into a deli-cafe downtown, just near Wall St. I have no idea what the place was called but I had an amazing Chicken Parmigana Panini. It was shredded chicken mixed with marinara sauce and basic, grilled with a slice of mozzarella. It was incredible.

The next night told a very different story. It was times square, and chain restaurant goodness at Dave and Busters. I had been to Dave and Busters in St Louis on a previous trip and knew it was a place my brother would love. You get what is expected here, menu favourites that are well made and taste good. I had The Mac and Cheese (with bacon and chicken!). G had the Island Grilled Trifecta, skewers of sirloin steak, chicken and shrimp with a variety of dipping sauces, served with rice.

On our walk back to the hotel I couldn't resist this GIANT black and white cookie from Hot and Crusty bakery in Grand Central Station. It took me two days to finish but was so very worth it. The cookie was soft and crumbly, the frosting just the right thickness, and it seriously was huge.

By the third day, the coldest yet, we were exhausted and needed an early night. We had pizza for dinner, I had cheese, G had pepperoni. We couldn't resist the garlic knots either. You really can't go wrong with pizza, the slices are huge, the prices are great. You can get good pizza just about anywhere in New York, we got ours from Red Stone Pizzeria Cafe near the hotel.

So far the food has been good, but I know it's only just begun. I can't wait to try out even more, check out some markets and food halls and then get back to Australia to cook it all for myself. But for now its into my nice warm bed out of this cold.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cookies

So the other week I blogged about how I would love to be able to give away some cookies and other baked good for christmas. I wasn't feeling too optimistic about it but miracles do happen. I finally got into the kitchen and made cookies, Chirstmas cookies!! then I wrapped, decorated, tagged and delivered this lovely little parcels of joy. I made two varieties, a basic butter cookie cut into stars (The recipe was from the cookie cutter box) and basic shortbread.

It wasn't all success though. As well as the little parcels, I also made a cookie christmas tree. Sure it all went together ok, and looks good. But fast forward a day to when it was supposed to be delivered and its not such a pretty store. It fell apart, and an emergency gift was needed instead. I'll just leave you with pretty pictures and spare you the future horror.