Friday, July 31, 2009

Birthday Cake

happy birthday to me!

My 21st birthday was back in the middle of June, but I couldn’t resist sharing the cake I made for myself. I picked out Tartine Bakery’s Lemon Meringue Cake, because I can never resist the combination of slightly tart lemon cream and sweet meringue. Unfortunately this is one of the only photos I managed to get of it! It was a rather ambitious undertaking but well worth the effort. It was also a good chance to practice my layer cake making skills, because it is always an area I’ve struggled a little with.

Tartine’s chiffon cake recipe is the best I’ve ever tried, giving me an absolutely perfect cake to work with, and I would not hesitate to make it again! The layers are soaked in a lemon syrup and then sandwiched with a delicious lemon cream and home-made caramel. Then after a rest in the fridge, the whole cake is slathered with Italian meringue and then torched with a blowtorch.

The cake can be assembled in the cake tin, which makes it a little easier, however mine was still a little slanted, as you can see. There are several elements to prepare, but a lot can be done in advance. I would recommend leaving the assembled cake in the fridge at least overnight, so it can set up a little better and be easier to cut.

It was very sweet, and if I made it again, I’d be inclined to leave out the caramel altogether. I also thought that the cake was moist enough that it didn’t even need to be soaked with lemon syrup. Next time I might make cute individual cakes for something special. I’m not going to give the recipe for each element here but I wanted to share the chiffon cake, because it’s a beauty. Check out Dr. Mark's version of this amazing cake, on his blog No Special Effects.

Chiffon Cake
From the Tartine Cookbook
Makes one 10-inch cake

• 2 ¼ cup plain flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 ½ cup sugar
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 6 large egg yolks
• ¾ cup water
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 ½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated
• 10 large egg whites
• ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to (160°C) 325°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch sides. Line with parchment paper cut to fit exactly. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
2. Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add ¼ cups of the sugar and the salt and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture and then whisk quickly for about 1 minute until very smooth.
3. Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and use a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and beat on medium speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks.
4. Using a rubber spatula, scoop about one-third of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula if necessary. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. To unmold, run a small thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Release and life off the pan sides. Invert the cake, peel off the parchment. The cake will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Zumbo Winter Collection

zumbo

There’s just something about Adriano Zumbo. He seems to have the ability to draw out the sweet tooth in just about anyone. It was a real treat to see him on Masterchef and watch the contestants (and then some food bloggers) try to recreate some of his incredible cakes! After I missed out on the food blogger gathering at his Chocolat Café following the launch of his Winter Collection due to a public transport mishap (boo!), I made it my mission to travel to Balmain for a taste of my own. The latest collection for winter, called 40 Days and 40 Nights is as creative and inventive as ever, with bold presentations and even more interesting flavour combinations.

escape from a columbian rainforest

After seeing everyone’s posts about it, I was fascinated by the ‘Escape from a Columbian Rainforest’ – a flourless chocolate sponge, dark chocolate fizzy disc, cherry cola jelly, cherry cola syrup and chocolate sabayon mousse that looks like a Coke can. It’s changed slightly since the launch. No longer can you poke a straw into the top to suck out the cherry cola syrup, because the top is now a very authentic looking silver chocolate disc. But this left us a little confused about how to eat it, especially when it got battered around a little on the walk to the ferry! Having never been a huge fan of Cherry Coke I think the flavours of this were lost on me a little bit, but the presentation won me over completely.

wheely

The ‘Wheely Lost’ was hazelnut meringue, anzac moisture, mint chocolate disc, vanilla apple tatin chantilly and apple tatin compote, which seemed to be a reinterpretation of this one and carried on the ‘wheelie’ theme that has been also present in other collections in the past. I loved the slightly crunchy anzac biscuit crumbs dotted around the outside. The flavours of apple and mint worked well and definitely seemed wintery.

danny has tickets to her box office

‘Danny has tickets to her box office’ consisted of a chocolate pop rock and popcorn disc, vanilla almond chantilly, dulce de leche, flourless chocolate sponge and almond feulletine. This was interesting to eat, especially the chocolate pop rock disc which gave an interesting sensation when you put it into your mouth. I really liked this one, except that the almond chantilly tasted mostly of marzipan and I’m not a huge fan. It was exciting to see popcorn in a sweet cake, and I think this one worked.

lukas rides the tube

My favourite was called ‘Lukas Rides the Tube’, I believe a new addition to the collection. It’s a stunning cake with macadamia praline mousse, macadamia daquoise, vanilla chantilly, pear tatin and macadamia feulletine. I thought the flavours and textures were really well balanced, and it was absolutely gorgeous.

macarons

The macarons were amazing, as always, a combination of flawless technique and innovative flavour combinations that satisfy my sweet tooth every time, like salt and vinegar, and salted butter popcorn. My favourites were the gianduja and pine nut, and the rice pudding, which was a great play on textures with a lovely warm cinnamon flavour.
I will definitely not leave it so long between visits again, because I never fail to be blown away by Adriano’s creations. And now, with the lines at his patisserie stretching out the door, and lotteries to win a chance to buy his chocolate mousse cake, it’s as clear as ever that Sydney’s collective sweet tooth cannot be sated.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Memory Lane

mallow cookies

I was as excited about this month’s Daring Bakers challenge as only cookies can make me. We were given two recipes this month, with the option to do both or pick one, and from the very beginning I knew I had to try the Mallows. This came with a slight amount of trepidation (which I’m learning is a regular thing with these DB challenges) as my last attempt at home made marshmallows was so disastrous I couldn’t even bring myself to blog about it! I’m happy to say I had a lot more success the second time around!

The Mallows have three components – a biscuit base, home made marshmallow and a chocolate glaze. Each component came together quite easily to produce a gorgeous cookie, even though there was a bit of waiting involved. I had great plans to make a few batches with different flavoured marshmallows but decided to keep it simple yet delicious and flavoured the mixture with vanilla bean.

wagon wheel

The recipe said that it would make two dozen cookies, but it made closer to fifty. I ended up with more cookie bases than I had enough marshmallow mixture to pipe onto, so I sandwiched them together with jam to make tiny wagon wheels for a great little trip down memory lane. I enjoyed this challenge and would not hesitate to make these again, they were a real crowd pleaser and fifty cookies disappeared a lot quicker than I thought humanly possible!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

marshmallow

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Makes roughly 45-60 cookies

• 3 cups all purpose flour

• ½ cup white sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt

• ¾ teaspoon baking powder

• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together

Marshmallows
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup light corn syrup
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites, room temperature
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Chocolate Glaze
• 340g dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 55g vegetable oil

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
 On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
 Add the eggs and mix until combine.
 Form the dough into a disk, wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. . When ready to bake, line a baking tray with parchment paper and
 preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

3. . Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 3-5cm cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
 Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

4. To make the marshmallow, combine the water, corn syrup and sugar, and bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 112°C (235°F) on a candy thermometer.
 Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
5. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
 Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
 Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
 Transfer to a pastry bag.
6. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.

7. To make the chocolate glaze, melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
 Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
8. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm.

Monday, July 20, 2009

High Tea at The Loft

menu

I can’t think of many ways I’d rather spend an afternoon than sitting in the sunshine with a few girlfriends, leisurely sipping tea and eating dainty cakes. But when you add in teapot cocktails and a beautiful view, there’s no wonder we were at the Loft two Saturdays in a row for High Tea! The first time, Steph, Karen, Lili, Betty and Jen and I sampled the Loft’s regular High Tea package, available every Saturday and Sunday between 1-3pm. We decided on High Tea with a Twist which comes with a tea-infused cocktail or glass of sparkling in addition to a tiered stand of petit fours and tea or coffee. It was a real treat to be served cocktails out of cute teapots, which gives the Loft’s High Tea a real difference from others in Sydney.

cocktails

The teapot cocktails come out first amongst a flurry of camera snaps. With one teapot shared between two, we decided to share the Sencha Quince Fizz (Lillet shaken with a hint of vanilla, fresh passionfruit pulp, pink grapefruit and chilled T2’s Sencha Quince Tea), the Turkish Delight (Plymouth gin and a touch of Tuaca shaken with homemade rhubarb puree, pear cheek, fresh lemon and chilled T2 Turkish Apple Tea) and the Strawberry Pash (Zubrowka Bison-grass vodka, crème de fraise shaken with home made apple puree, strawberries, basil and sweet T2’s Mardi Gras). The Sencha Quince is a favourite, though tastes more of passionfruit than anything else and Turkish delight is lovely, fruity and light.

sandwiches

The sandwiches were nice and fresh, however the fillings were quite standard – smoked salmon and dill, cucumber and cream cheese, and chicken and mushroom. The roasted vegetable frittata however was quite disappointing, tasting very eggy with a strangely shiny surface.

scones

scone

The scones looked a little flat but were surprisingly light and fluffy, served with strawberry jam and whipped cream. Though apparently it’s hard to compare them with the Tea Room’s scones… I think that might be our next High Tea outing, in fact.

cakes

The tiny lemon meringue pies are cute, and very sweet, but I think I’ll love any lemon meringue pie you put in front of me. The brownie was a tiny bit overcooked, but I really liked the pear and almond tart. The dark chocolate truffle dusted with cocoa powder was also delicious. Having tasted the tapas plates that the Loft prepares in-house and loving them, it seems that the quality has taken a little step down on the food that is ordered in.

tea

Next up, the girls came back to take our tea orders. We each ordered something different, which meant there was little room left on the table. The tea was served in elegant fine glass teacups, which proved a little too delicate when Lili swapped one cracked teacup for another! I had the Madagascan Vanilla tea, which was a lovely black tea scented with vanilla bean, but Lili’s chai and Steph’s Blue Mountain tea smelled incredible as well. I also had a taste of Betty’s Gorgeous Geisha, a beautiful and slightly fruity green tea. The high tea had it’s ups and downs. The highlights were definitely the teapot cocktails, the wonderful company and the beautiful view, which made it a very memorable afternoon indeed.

teapot cocktail

The next Saturday we were back for a special Christmas in July High Tea, which I was excited about from the very beginning. Though not a white Christmas, it was unseasonably warm, an absolutely gorgeous day to be sitting in the sunshine. Steph and Karen were back, as well as Lorraine, Betty the Hungry Girl, Suze and Helen, and Leona was unable to make it at the last minute.

cocktails

We started with teapot cocktails again, and I don’t think they ever get old. Santa’s Little Helper had fresh berries crushed with cranberry juice, bourbon and fruit liqueurs balanced with a hint of citrus, topped of with red fruits tea. It was quite strong, and the bourbon seemed quite out of place in this otherwise very girly cocktail. Silent Night was chocolate liqueur combined with Martel VS, a touch of chilled espresso rounded off with peppermint tea. This was intriguing as I love chocolate and espresso together, but it didn’t quite live up to expectation. The highlight however was Rudolph’s Nose, with rhubarb puree and fresh cherry shaken with bison grass vodka and a hint of citrus with Turkish apple tea. We also couldn’t resist a repeat performance of the gorgeous Sencha Quince Fizz.

sandwiches

The sandwiches were an improvement on last week, with more festive fillings such as turkey and cranberry, baby prawn mayo with sprouts and honey roasted leg ham with mustard pickle. They were all quite nice, with the turkey being a favourite. There was also a slice of chicken & pistachio galantine, a baby red pepper stuffed with goat’s cheese and a ham and roast onion frittata, which was a huge improvement’s on last week’s.

scones

This week there were raisin scones with jam and cream, just as nice as last week’s. The White Christmas rum ball was white chocolate with a tasty alcoholic kick.

cakes

The sweets were also an improvement on last week in my mind, with the mince pie being one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m not usually a fan of them, but this had beautiful buttery pastry and a tasty spicy filling. The baked custard tarts had the same pastry base, and the sour cherries were a nice addition. The macadamia nut brownie was not overcooked, still slightly molten in the center.

teapot

This week I decided to try the chai tea – wonderfully spicy and seductive in flavour, definitely a favourite. So while the food was much improved, the cocktails were a little average, and as Karen mentioned, the atmosphere could have definitely been more festive with a Chrissy carol or two by the piano man, or some decorations. I think we’ve proven that you can never have enough high tea, and so, even after two in as many weeks, we are still planning another for the near future – the QVB Tea Room, perhaps?

High Tea is available every Saturday and Sunday between 1-3pm. Bookings Essential.
Christmas in July High tea is available for one more weekend - Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July. Bookings Essential

The Loft, 3 Lime St, King St Wharf Sydney

Loft on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Only Place

apple crumble slice

For someone who claims to hate winter so much, I have been enjoying this one an awful lot, minus waking up before the sun. My collection of scarves and cardigans is growing out of control, since both form part of my winter ‘uniform’. It has steadily been getting colder but the days are still beautiful and mild for the most part, and cold hands are nothing when you wrap them around a warm cup of tea.

And then of course, there is the food. Winter is all about comforting, hearty dishes and revisiting old favourites. Rediscovering classic flavour combinations using seasonal ingredients, as well as dreaming up new ones, because really, the kitchen is the only place to be.

This apple crumble slice is a beautiful play on a classic dessert. The different layers – cake, apple and crumble work in complete harmony together, giving you different tastes and textures in every bite. It’s very easy to prepare, and was a winner with all the taste testers!

Apple Crumble Slice
Recipe adapted from Donna Hay
Serves 6-8

• 100g butter
• ½ cup caster sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 cup plain flour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
• 1 tablespoon milk
• Icing sugar, to dust

Apple Filling
• 5 apples, peeled and chopped
• 10g butter
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumble Topping
• 1¼ cups plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 125g butter
• ¾ cup caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF). To make the crumble, mix the flour, baking powder, butter and sugar in a bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside.
2. To make the apple filling, place the apple, butter and cinnamon in a saucepan over low heat and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Allow to cool.

3. Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Fold through the flour, baking powder and milk.
4. Spread in a 20cm x 30cm tin lined with non-stick baking paper, top with the apple filling and crumble and bake for 40 minutes until golden. Serves 6-8.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two Years Old

creme brulee

This dessert is inspired in part by a recent episode of Masterchef Australia, (with which I am unhealthily obsessed) when the final four contestants were told to cook from their hearts and produce a dish that they would each serve in their own restaurants. It got me thinking about the kind of food I love to cook the most. If it’s not obvious already, I love making desserts, but my very favourites seem to almost always involve seasonal fruit. But if you add some custard and a crunchy toffee top, I’m in heaven!

This is an interesting interpretation of a Crème Brulée, in which the cream is infused with tea leaves. I decided to stick with the theme and picked up some Sencha Quince tea, flecked with pretty blue cornflower petals, though you could also use French Breakfast tea if you like. It gave such an interesting flavour, one that was hard to put your finger on at first but that was absolutely delicious with the quince. I really liked this dessert – not only eating it, but making it as well. I used caster sugar to caramelise this time, rather than the brown sugar I used on my last crème brulée and this gave a thinner but cracklier toffee.

So here is a little treat from my heart, to celebrate my blog’s 2nd birthday! That’s right, spicyicecream turns two years old today and I couldn’t be happier. This blog has brought me more than I ever imagined and I’ve made so many wonderful friends both in Sydney and beyond. I’d just like to say thank you to all my readers for your visits and comments, your words and thoughts really make my day!

So tell me, friends, is there anything you would like to see on spicyicecream? More restaurant reviews, or more savoury recipes? Should I keep the desserts coming? How about seasonal and special occasion recipes? I would love to hear your thoughts on how to make this blog better over the next year!

Quince and Tea Crème Brulée
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Makes 6-8 ramekins

Quinces
• 4 tablespoons caster sugar
• 100ml dessert wine
• Juice of 1 lemon
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 1 cinnamon quill
• 1 quince, peeled, cored and cut into 8 slices

Crème Brulée
• 2 cups pouring cream
• 1/3 cup Sencha Quince tea leaves (or other green tea)
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 4 egg yolks
• ½ cup caster sugar, plus more for bruleeing

1. To prepare the quinces, combine sugar, wine, lemon juice, vanilla bean and seeds, cinnamon, quince pieces and ¼ cup of water in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour or until the quinces are tinged with pink. Allow to cool until required.
2. To make the crème brulee, combine the cream, tea leaves and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 20 minutes to infuse.
3. Combine eggs yolks with ½ cup caster sugar in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve sugar. Bring cream mixture to a simmer again and then pour onto egg mixture, whisking to combine. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and discard tea leaves.
4. Divide quince pieces between the bases of 6-8 oven proof ramekins. Pour over the cream mixture and place ramekins in a deep sided roasting tray. Add enough hot water to come up about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake at 160°C (320°F) for 25-30 minutes or until just cooked, then remove ramekins from tray and refrigerate for an hour, or until cold.
5. To serve, scatter with a thin, even layer of caster sugar over each custard and caramelise using a blowtorch. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Perama, Petersham

perama greek restaurant

Mixed Dips – Tzatziki, Tarama, Split Pea, Olive Paste and Smoked Eggplant served with Pacimadia seasoned with sesame seeds and oregano, Mixed Pickles – Cabbage, Mushroom and Octopus, BBQ Marinated Artichokes

Brace yourselves. It could only be described as a feast of epic proportions. I lost count of just how many dishes we went through at the Tweetup dinner at Perama Restaurant in Petersham, but I think the official figure was about thirty-five. Head Chef David Tsirekas fed us until we were full to bursting with his banquet menu and other dishes, and all the wine we could manage, all for an unbelievable $50 per person. I was a little unfamiliar with Greek food but I can now say that I am converted.

perama greek restaurant

Greek Salad – Dressed with Cretan Minos Olive Oil, Deep Fried Haloumi

This Greek Salad was far and away the best I’ve ever had, with a generous slab of creamy fetta. I also loved the deep-fried haloumi, and I had quite a few of these. The texture is so unique and lends well to being fried.

perama greek restaurant

BBQ Haloumi Cheese – Char-grilled Cypriot haloumi cheese served with chopped tomato, olive paste and honey peppered figs, Graviera Crumbed Halloumi– Crumbed Haloumi and green tomato served with frisee leaf, capers, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate vinaigrette, Hand Rolled Spinach Filo Pie

More haloumi, a real treat as I love it. The honey peppered figs were absolutely beautiful and this was one of the dishes I liked best. The filo pie with spinach was also delicious with amazingly crispy and perfectly cooked filo pastry and a tasty filling. I didn’t get to try the Manouri salad but it’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to about going back to Perama. Yes, you heard right, even after this onslaught of food, we are definitely planning a return visit.

perama greek restaurant

Filo Pastries – Danish White and Ricotta cheese, shredded lamb and white bean, rabbit stifatho and scallop and prawn. Sheftalies (Pork Sausage) & Chilli Mussels

perama greek restaurant

Vine Dolmathes, Giouvesti Goat

An interesting addition to the banquet was the Giouvesti Goat, an experiment that David did in raising a goat for 3 months fed on beer and chestnuts, based on the same principle of raising Kobe Beef. Steph and I began referring to it as the ‘Magical Goat’ (“would you like some more Magical Goat?”). I had only tried goat meat once before and this was completely different and so much better. It was a delicious dish, a real treat to get to taste the end result of such an interesting experiment!

perama greek restaurant

Hand Rolled Pumpkin Filo Pie – Baked hand rolled filo and pumpkin pie served with a roasted beetroot, leek and mustard puree, Zucchini Fritters, Bean Salad

perama greek restaurant

Rustic Chips with Ouzo Mayonnaise, Fried Calamari – Calamari served with ouzo garlic mayonnaise, Pork Belly Baklava – Layers of flaky filo pastry, pork belly meat, date and pistachios, 
topped with crispy crackling and served with a date and mastic sauce

The chips were quite nice but I was a little undecided about the ouzo mayonnaise. In theory it sounds fantastic but personally I am not much of a fan of aniseed or Ouzo so I think the others may have enjoyed it more than I did. The pork belly baklava however was a masterpiece with so many flavours and textures working together in harmony.

perama greek restaurant

Lamb Skaras – Slow braised lamb shoulder with oregano, olive oil, wine and garlic, served with baked oregano lemon potatoes and string beans, Roast Duck with cumin spiced quince and served with wilted greens, Lamb Kleftiko (Casserole)

I really loved the Lamb Skaras, and even though I was getting pretty full by this point I kept coming back for more and more of this delicious slow cooked lamb. The roast duck was lovely with the quince, but may have been just slightly overcooked. I didn’t get to try the Lamb casserole, but it was presented to us in a lovely way, the waiter cut open the paper at the table and told us a little story about how the Greeks used to cook this dish during the War of Independence.

perama greek restaurant

Caramel Baklava Ice Cream, Mandarin Bougatsa, Ekmek, Kalamata Baklava

And finally, it was time for dessert! The caramel baklava layered between creamy vanilla ice cream was delicious, and went perfectly with the mandarin bougatsa, which had a lovely custard and mandarin segments inside the pastry, and this dish was one of my favourites from the night. I didn’t get a photo of the olive oil ice cream but that was also a surprise highlight and I am looking forward to trying to replicate this recipe at home with some good quality olive oil. The Kalamata Baklava and kalamata mascarpone ice cream did indeed have olives in them. I was a little undecided about this dish, though if you like your olives I think it’s safe to say you’ll love this one.

Another delicious dessert was the Ekmek, which was brioche soaked in syrup and served with cream. Steph loved it so much she went home and made her own version! There was also a nice rhubarb rice pudding and poached pears in red wine syrup that I didn’t manage to snap photos of on the night.

It was a great night with an awful lot of amazing food for an unbeatable price. I would definitely come back for more, but next time I think I’ll skip lunch beforehand.

Perama on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 6, 2009

For Winter

pudding

I am a little late with posting my monthly Tartine Cookbook post, but I couldn’t pass this up because it’s such a wonderful sounding dessert that I just had to try. June’s recipe was the Steamed Gingerbread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, which I picked because it sounded perfect for winter. It was dense yet moist, spicy enough to be intriguing but not overpowering, and would make a wonderful addition to your Christmas in July dinner party!

I made a few modifications to this recipe, substituting golden syrup for most of the treacle (blackstrap molasses) called for, because it’s such a dark smoky taste and I didn’t want it to completely overpower the other flavours in the pudding. I added a couple of tablespoons for a more subtle flavour. I also decided to make an actual bourbon sauce instead of a hard sauce because it was what I was in the mood for at the time – warm spiced pudding, melty ice cream and hot boozy bourbon sauce on top. Using basically the same ingredients as the recipe called for, I just whisked them together over low heat until the butter melted and then added some cream at the end to round out the flavour.

I really liked this dessert, and it was definitely a winner with my trusty taste testers. I can’t seem to get enough of warm puddings these days and it really hit the spot on a cold wintery night. And if you’re in the mood for something summery, go and check out Mark’s blog to see his gorgeous Summer Fruit Bavarian that has me pining for the warmer months!

Steamed Gingerbread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
Recipe adapted from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook
Yields 6-8 small cakes or loaves

Gingerbread
• 1 ½ cups plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 5-6 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
• ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons hot water
• ¾ cup sugar
• 2/3 cup vegetable oil
• 2/3 cup golden syrup
• 3 tablespoons treacle (blackstrap molasses)
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs

Bourbon Sauce
• 115g butter, room temperature
• 1 cup icing sugar
• ½ cup bourbon
• Pinch salt
• 3 tablespoons cream

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and butter the bottom and sides of 6-8 ceramic ramekins or small loaf pans.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and pepper into a mixing bowl.
3. Place the ginger in a blender, add enough of the hot water to cover and process until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Pour the rest of the hot water into the blender to dislodge any remaining ginger and add to the bowl. Add the sugar, oil, molasses and salt to the ginger and beat on medium speed until well mixed.
4. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until moistened, then switch to high speed for about 1 minute until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
5. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until the incorporated. The batter will be very thin. Pour into prepared ramekins or loaf tins, dividing it evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.
6. To make the sauce, whisk the butter, sifted icing sugar, bourbon and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted and the alcohol has evaporated. Add the cream and stir to combine.
7. When the cakes are ready, let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream and the bourbon sauce. Cakes will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ripples, Sydney Wharf

duck liver parfait

I was very excited when Prue from The Mint Partners invited a group of food bloggers out to the brand new Ripples on beautiful Sydney Wharf, the newest addition to the Aqua Dining group under Head Chef Richard Park. It was a cold and drizzly night, but that didn’t dampen our spirits as we set out for Pyrmont. Located just across from Star City Casino, and the view of the city skyline was beautiful. It was also a chance to enjoy a unique ‘Chef’s Table’ style of dining I had only read about but never before experienced. I was looking forward to being close to the action, to get a glimpse into the workings of a professional kitchen during dinner service.

epi

We started with some crusty French epi bread with anchovy butter, a lovely fresh tasting pesto butter, olive tapenade, onion marmalade, pickled prunes and the most amazing duck liver parfait with a tangy layer of cranberry jelly. I had to keep reminding myself that there was much more food to come, and not to keep shovelling the lovely parfait onto the fresh crunchy bread!

scallop
Spring Bay Scallop with Fennel Salad

souffle

For entrée a few of us picked the Twice Baked Goats Cheese Soufflé with Onion and Thyme Soubise. It was perfectly cooked, with a lovely light texture and is wonderfully cheesy.

warm oysters

Oysters were also a popular choice, served either warm with leek fondue and goats cheese sauce, or with a mignonette dressing.

confit duck

For main course, I had the Duck Leg Confit, served with red cabbage, frisee salad, hazelnuts and a tangy seeded mustard dressing. It was a beautiful dish, the flavours went wonderfully together and I loved every bite.

seared kingfish
Pan-Seared Kingfish, Gnocchi Parisian with Olives, Braised Fennel & Baby Eggplant

bouillabaisse

The Signature Bouillabaisse was a seafood extravaganza served with garlic bread and rouille. I tried a little of Lorraine’s and though I don’t usually go for seafood, it was great.

fish & chips
Ripples Famous Fish & Chips, Homemade Tartare Sauce & Lemon

lamb

Billy’s Six Hour Braised Lamb Breast was a dish I had my eye on and almost ordered. It was served with petits peas and green olive salsa, and was so wonderfully tender. I would love to try this all to myself next time!

lyonnaise potatoes
Lyonnaise Potatoes

rabbit

Reem shared her Rabbit Fricassee with Mushroom, Lardons and Potato Dumplings which was the perfect dish for a wintery night. It was the first time I’d tried rabbit since I was little, and I quite liked the taste. It was a nicely balanced dish, cooked well and served beautifully.

creme caramel

And then after a lull in activity in the kitchen, the chefs busied themselves with preparations for dessert. The Grand Marnier Crème Caramel was intense in flavour, definitely one for Grand Marnier fans.

terrine
Chocolate Terrine with Pistachios and Raspberry Sorbet.

pudding

The Warm Chocolate & Hazelnut Pudding with Chocolate Ice Cream & Nut Toffee was another perfect dish on this rainy night. It was rich and deep, I loved the nut toffee.

tarte tatin
Apple Tarte Tatin & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

gingerbread

But the absolute hit of the night however, was the Leatherwood Honey & Goats Curd Parfait with Poached Quinces. Not only visually stunning, the flavours and textures of each component from the spicy gingerbread to the melt-in-your-mouth Persian fairy floss were so well balanced that you could take spoonful after spoonful without ever feeling like it was too sweet.

It was a fantastic night, a wonderful meal with some great friends. Thanks goes to Prue for being a wonderful host, Head Chef Richard Park and the team at Ripples for putting on an excellent dinner. Check out Lorraine's, Billy's, Jen's, Helen's, Melissa's, and Reem's blogs for their thoughts and photos from the night!

56 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont
www.ripplescafe.com.au

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