Friday, February 19, 2010
I thought I’d left the crazy world of deadlines and sleep deprivation back in my college days, when the all nighters were all too common and I’d live and breathe Photoshop. But no, here we are again, a little bit older and wiser but still trying to beat the clock, when the to do lists seem to get longer instead of shorter. I’m heavily involved, working on a very exciting project with Denea, aka Gourmet Rabbit. I feel very lucky to be combining the two things I love the most, and I will tell you all about in early March when it is officially launched.
So, instead of a brand new recipe fresh out of the oven, today I’m dusting off one I’ve been meaning to tell you about since November. We invited my Nanna over for lunch one Sunday, and I cooked a lovely summer vegetable galette, with prosciutto and fetta. It was also a great opportunity to test out Bourke Street Bakery’s savoury shortcrust, which has since become my go-to recipe, because it’s delicious and buttery, and so versatile. You could even make a double batch and keep some in the freezer for those days when you’re short on time.
The best thing about this type of lunch is that you can use whatever’s in season – tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini in summer, pumpkin in winter, with whatever cheese you fancy. Or they’re a great way to use up the folorn specimens hanging around in your vegetable crisper. It’s casual, yet impressive and the free form shape of the galette means there’s no skill involved and even the kids can help out, or make their own!
Summer Vegetable Galettes
Makes 6 small galettes
The recipe below is a really rough guide, because you can get creative with the fillings, depending on what you like and what’s in season.
Shortcrust Pastry (from Bourke Street Bakery)
• 300g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1.5cm cubes
• 600g plain flour, chilled
• 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
• 3 teaspoons (15ml) vinegar, chilled
• 170ml (2/3 cup) water, chilled
• Eggwash, to brush
• Caramelised Onion
• Proscuitto, bacon, pancetta
• Cherry Tomatoes
• Char-grilled Eggplant
• Baby spinach
• Cheese – feta, goats cheese, blue cheese, brie
1. Remove butter from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you start mixing. The butter should be just soft but still very cold.
2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and add the butter, pulsing in 1 second bursts about three or four times to partly combine.
3. Turn out onto a clean surface and gather together. Combine the vinegar with the chilled water and sprinkle over the flour mixture. Use the palm of your hand to smear the mixture away from you across the bench. Gather together and repeat this process once or twice more to bring it together. You should still be able to see streaks of butter through the pastry.
4. Divide into two round, flat discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5. Remove the pastry from the fridge 20 minutes before you want to roll it. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and rub some flour over your rolling pin. Divide each disc into 3 even portions. Roll each into a circle shape, sprinkling extra flour over the bench if needed. Place onto baking sheets and return to the fridge for at least an hour, for gluten to relax.
6. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Place the fillings of your choice in the center of each pastry circle, leaving at least 4-5cm edge. Fold in edge over filling, brush with egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with salad greens.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I’m having trouble snapping out of holiday mode. I just spent six glorious days in Perth with my favourite person, where the weather was lovely, the mood was lazy and miraculously, I didn’t get a single work call all week. It’s an interesting feeling, being on holidays in a familiar place. I’ve been to Perth quite a few times now, and although there’s still lots of things I want to see, and lots of restaurants I want to visit, it doesn’t feel like I have to jam-pack my schedule. I know that I’ll be back, in less than a month to be precise!
Instead, we cooked – the chicken with ratatouille made an appearance, as well as a lovely slow-roasted pork shoulder that was then shredded and served in tacos, and duck donuts (!) inspired by those at Sparrow Kitchen & Bar in Adelaide, which were almost perfect and that I hope to share with you soon. We had a picnic lunch in a gorgeous park with views of the city and Swan River, danced badly and sang loudly at Big Day Out, went for motorbike rides, watched movies (I finally saw Up! So gorgeous!) and just enjoyed spending time together.
This gorgeous cake reminds me of summer holidays and lazy days. The peaches have been beautiful this year, and this is a fantastic way to make the most of them, save of course eating them for breakfast with the juice running down your arm. Yoghurt Cake, or Gâteau au Yaourt is a French classic, and one of my favourite simple cakes to make. I’ve been making the version from the Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook for about two years now, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to mention it here! It would be wonderful to take on a picnic lunch, or to have for afternoon tea on a summer’s day.
The cake comes together quickly and easily, and is a great base for adapting the flavour. I made a great version using pink grapefruit last year, though lime is another firm favourite. You could of course substitute other fruit for the peaches on top. Berries or apricots would work nicely, I think. The cake tastes best on the day it is baked.
Yoghurt and Almond Cake with Orange Caramel Peaches
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 140g self-raising flour
• 4 eggs, separated
• ½ cup (110g) white sugar
• ¾ cup (210g) Greek-style yoghurt
• 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
• 1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice only
• 70g almond meal
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
Orange Caramel Peaches
• 3 peaches, cut into wedges, stones discarded
• 200g white sugar
• Juice of 1 orange
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Sift flour into a bowl and set aside. Whisk yolks and white sugar in a medium size bowl until pale and creamy. Add yoghurt, olive oil, rind and juice. Stir to combine, then fold in flour and almond meal and set aside.
2. Whisk egg white in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold egg white mixture through yoghurt mixture, pour into a 23-cm springform pan lined with baking paper. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in tin on a wire rack. Cake is best eaten the day it is made.
3. For orange caramel peaches, place peaches in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan, and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook until caramel coloured (8-10 minutes). Add orange juice, being careful as mixture may spit, and then stir to dissolve. Pour over the peaches, stir to combine and set aside for 1 hour. Spoon over cake to serve.
Monday, February 8, 2010
I couldn’t say no to a post-Christmas celebration with my favourite group of food bloggers. Richard from Here Comes the Food invited us around to his place for a Boxing Day food fest, really the last thing my waistline needed around that time of year. Yes, this post is more than a few weeks late! What was originally going to be a summery barbeque was sadly rained out, but that didn’t stop me from traipsing halfway across Sydney in the rain, braving Cityrail trackwork, with dessert in one hand, umbrella in the other.
When we arrived, Suze was grinning and assembling her infamous Luther Burgers. And yes, they are what they look like – a bacon and egg cheeseburger with a Krispy Kreme donut for a bun. One of these babies probably contains the recommended calorie intake for an entire week, but that didn’t stop us. In fact, the flavour combination was great, in a dirty way, as the donuts leaked runny egg yolk and sugar glaze. The table was quiet – it was a combination of sweet and savoury that actually worked, with the sweetness of the donut and the pineapple working well together. It was a lesson in gluttony - crazy indeed, but definitely worth it.
And onto the rest of the food. Leona brought some Indian treats from Newtown, which I didn’t end up trying! Shez made a lovely foccacia studded generously with ham, tomato and cheese, which I really loved. The Ninja has brought some gourmet sausages, which we teamed with Baconnaise, a worthy investment on Richard’s part, because “everything should taste like bacon”. Simon has brought along his Chicken Surprise – balls of deep fried chicken, each with a different filling – some with smoked cheese, or asparagus, ham or proscuitto. The Ninja has unluckily picked the one filled with Wasabi, but apparently it’s not too bad.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of Richard’s or Billy’s delicious pork belly, or Jacq’s potato salad (thank god someone thought to bring vegetables!), nor the infamous can of whale meat that Billy has brought. I didn’t try any, but apparently it tasted like tuna with the texture of pork.
And then it was time for dessert! Steph has brought along a blow torch, with which to toast the marshmallow topping of her S’more Cheesecake, which was exciting because everyone loves fire. This was incredible! The dark chocolate filling wasn’t overly sweet, thankfully, and the topping was absolutely delicious – melty, toasty, and slightly crunchy with marshmallows from Sweetness The Patisserie. You can find the recipe on Steph’s blog.
Teresa has brought some Momofuku cookies from New York, but I was so full by this point that I didn’t try one. My contribution was a green tea-tiramisu, where the sponge biscuits are soaked in a mixture of brewed green tea and Zen liqueur, with a dusting of matcha powder between the layers and also on top. Pistachios are sprinkled on top, but due to Steph’s nut allergies I served them on the side for the dessert. See the recipe at the end of this post!
Helen, the Cupcake Queen wows us with some delicious strawberry balsamic cupcakes, that are topped with popping candy for some childlike novelty. I like a dessert that makes people giggle, and this certainly did as the strange sensation of the popping candy exploded in our mouths. Jacq’s has brought a refreshing panna cotta with peach jelly, and Shez made a chocolate Christmas pudding (no photo of this, unfortunately) and a lovely citrussy sponge cake layered with whipped cream.
I left for home soon after this, as I was one of the only people present who had to work the following day. I was bummed to miss out on Pictionary and catching up with Yas and Lex who arrived later. Thanks Richard for hosting, and to everyone for sharing such great food! You’ll never come away from a food blogger’s gathering with an empty stomach, that much is for sure.
Green Tea Tiramisu (Tea-ramisu)
Serves 8 - 10
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
Note: Matcha powder is available from Asian groceries. Zen liqueur is available from selected bottle shops (I found it in Crows Nest.) You could also serve this in individual serves. I made a few extra in martini glasses for a more elegant presentation.
• 3 eggs, separated
• 1/3 cup caster sugar
• 200g mascarpone
• Pinch cream of tartar
• 1 cup thickened cream, whipped
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup Zen Green Tea liqueur (or Cointreau if you like)
• 12 sponge fingers/ladyfinger biscuits
• 2 cups brewed and cooled green tea
• ¼ cup matcha (green tea powder)
• Chopped unsalted pistachios, to serve
1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (being careful not to let the bowl touch the water) until mixture is thick and pale. Remove from the heat, then add the marscarpone and beat until smooth.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
3. In another large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and then gently fold in the mascarpone mixture, followed by the egg whites until completely blended.
4. Combine the green tea and Zen liqueur in a shallow dish. Dip the sponge biscuits into the liquid briefly, ensuring they’re soaked through. Layer half the biscuits in the bottom of a 1.5L serving dish. Spread half the cream mixture on top and dust with half the matcha.
5. Repeat layers, finishing with a cream layer and most of the remaining green tea powder. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Just before serving, dust with the remaining green tea powder and scatter with chopped pistachios.
Friday, February 5, 2010
I keep prattling on about how much I love summer fruit – berries, mangoes, peaches and cherries, but I also love summer vegetables. Eggplant is one of my favourite things, and I love zucchini in almost any form. Lets not forget gorgeous ripe tomatoes, which need nothing more than a drizzling of olive oil and some cracked black pepper on your favourite sourdough to be the perfect summertime lunch. What better way to showcase summer vegetables than ratatouille, an honest French dish that lets the flavours do the talking. I’ve already made this twice so far this summer and I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!
I found the recipe in an old Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook from 2006. I have simplified it somewhat to really make the flavours shine. The ratatouille is served with some crispy potatoes that are sliced thinly, par-cooked until tender, then pan-fried with butter and oil until crisp. They’re then tossed with parsley and, if you like, a little red wine vinegar. Sitting on top is a crispy-skin chicken breast. Make sure you buy chicken with the skin on – parsley butter is pushed underneath the skin, and then the chicken is pan-fried skin side down before being baked, covered with foil for 20-30 minutes until juicy and perfectly cooked.
Everyone who has tried this dish has absolutely loved it, even the boyfriend’s parents! The components compliment each other so well. There is a little bit of prep work involved, but the ratatouille can be made in advance and heated gently just before you’re ready to serve it. It’s a fantastic way to showcase your favourite summer vegetables in an honest and simple, restaurant-quality dish, the best kind to have in your repertoire as far as I’m concerned. I know I’ll be making this again!
Crispy Chicken Breast with Ratatouille and Crispy Potatoes
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 4 chicken breasts, skin on
• ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
• 40g butter, softened
• Sea salt & black pepper
• ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 small eggplant, cut into 1cm dice
• 1 green zucchini, cut into 1cm dice
• 1 large red capsicum, cut into 1cm dice
• 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 400g can chopped tomatoes
• 50g tomato paste
• 1 tsp granulated sugar
• Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
• 5 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled into 1cm thick rounds
• 20g butter
• ½ cup olive oil
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
• 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, optional
1. For ratatouille, heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add eggplant and cook until tender, then transfer to a bowl. Add zucchini to frypan and cook until tender, and then add to eggplant. Cook capsicum until tender and then add to vegetables in the bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add the vegetables and season to taste. Keep warm.
2. For potatoes, heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Add onion and sauté for another 5 minutes or until onion is tender, then add parsley and season to taste. Remove from heat and toss through red wine vinegar, if desired.
3. To make crispy skin chicken, combine parsley and softened butter in a bowl. Using your fingers, separate skin from chicken breast to form a pocket and spread butter under the skin. Heat a frying pan to medium heat and cook chicken, skin side down for 3 minutes or until golden, then turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Transfer chicken to a baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.
4. Serve chicken with ratatouille and potatoes.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
My little sister had never been to Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie. While I had brought the occasional macaron home on my travels, I thought it was about time she tried the amazingly quirky creations of the man himself. I don’t get over to Zumbo as often as I’d like to, since I live on the other side of Sydney, but it’s always an experience, complete with sugar high and occasionally tummy ache. She was on school holidays and I had the day off, so the timing was perfect. It helped of course, that it was Mousse Cake Day.
That’s right, Zumbo’s infamous Masterchef mousse cake, in miniature form. The lovely Gourmet Rabbit even had a cake put away for me, which was fantastic, because they sold out so quickly that I would have otherwise missed out. It seems that even months after the Masterchef finale, the hype around Zumbo has yet to die down. And now I can understand it. Not only is the mousse cake absolutely beautiful to look at, the taste is sublime. Layers of chocolate mousse are interspersed with biscuit, apple and caramel to produce a masterpiece.
It was also a great opportunity to check out the new Summer/Autumn collection called ‘I thought it, you brought it, I built it, you bought it”, which was as wacky as ever. Who would ever have thought to put mashed potato or cauliflower or mustard in a cake! Although the cakes themselves seem to be slightly smaller than in the past, there are some beautiful summery flavours combined with the same skill, technique and originality that Zumbo is famous for.
We tried two cakes from the collection, as well as a handful of macarons. The first was “Not too S-h-a-b-b-y”, a flourless biscuit with muscovado crème brulee, plantation chocolate mousse and chocolate malt crème legere. It tasted like a super sophisticated version of a cake my grandmother makes, and was absolutely delicious.
The “5 6 7 8” was a gorgeous and summery cake – pineapple palm sugar sous vide, lemongrass, pandan and vanilla crème legere, coriander creameaux and peanut sable. I was intrigued by the use of coriander in the cake, but it worked brilliantly and tasted incredible. I liked that it was not overly sweet, but each individual flavour stood out in the different components that made up the cake.
I hadn’t had a macaron since our insanity on Zumbo’s Macaron Day back in November, but I was nonetheless excited to check out the new flavours. We bought Summer Pudding, Peach Bellini, Strawberry and Balsamic and Pineapple Coconut. All of the flavours were strong and true, I especially liked the Pineapple and Coconut flavour, and the Summer Pudding had a hint of “breadiness” to it that worked wonderfully.
Adriano Zumbo Patisserie, 296 Darling St Balmain