Monday, October 25, 2010
I’ve been on a doughnut making kick this year, in case you haven’t noticed. There is nothing better than a homemade doughnut, still hot from the fryer. Doughnuts are particularly fascinating to me, because it seems that almost every culture has a different version of sweet, fried dough. Italians have bombolini and zeppole, the Greeks have loukoumades, the Spanish have churros dunked in hot chocolate (for breakfast no less!), and do I even need to mention the varieties of doughnuts that America has given us? The list goes on and on.
Recently I mentioned the amazing Turkish delight doughnuts that we had for dessert at Maha Bar & Grill in Melbourne, and I just had to try making them at home. Luckily, the recipe had been published in Gourmet Traveller back in April, along with the amazing 12-hour lamb with green olive tabouleh that I had for my main course at the restaurant. I thought that the doughnuts could benefit from a bit more filling but I loved the candied almonds (although I used pine nuts) and the subtle rose and honey syrup.
Until last year I wasn’t a fan of Turkish delight at all, until I tried some proper homemade stuff at Perama in Petersham. Lately I can’t get enough! The dough itself is simple to prepare and only requires a 15 minute rise, unlike a normal yeast dough which can take up to two hours. The result is a very light and fluffy doughnut, but the dough is a little tricky to handle. I found an ice cream scoop was the easiest way to shape the doughnuts, taking a scoop full of dough, pressing the Turkish delight in and then sealing over the gap with my fingers.
These doughnuts aren’t meant to be perfect, so the slightly scraggly, uneven edges from where the dough hits the oil are all part of the charm. I halved this recipe, but if you’ve got a big group of friends around go ahead and make the full batch. Like most doughnuts, these taste best on the day that they’re made, preferably within minutes of coming out of the fryer! If you can’t make it to Maha, these will definitely satisfy your tastebuds, and it’s cheaper than a flight to Melbourne!
Turkish Delight Donuts
Adapted from Shane Delia at Maha (Gourmet Traveller April 2010)
• 30g pine nuts, to serve
• 300g plain flour
• 15g dried yeast
• 2 teaspoons caster sugar
• 150g rose-flavoured Turkish delight, diced into 1.5cm pieces
• Vegetable Oil, for deep drying
• 200g honey
• 1 cinnamon quil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 50ml rosewater
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Spread pine nuts on a small oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally for 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Cool, chop coarsely and set aside.
Meanwhile, for rose syrup, combine honey, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, add rosewater, set aside to cool.
Preheat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 170°C (340°F). Combine flour, yeast, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl, and gradually whisk in 350ml lukewarm water until combined and smooth, then stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes or until swollen and foamy.
Working with one piece of Turkish delight at a time, take a scoop of dough with an ice cream scoop. Press Turkish delight into the scoop and use your fingers to cover over and seal the gap. Deep fry in batches, turning occasionally until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper and then transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with rose syrup and serve hot, sprinkled with pine nuts.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
My Dad’s family moved to Australia from Malta in the 70's, so I've grown up eating many of my Nanna's traditional homemade dishes. Malta’s food culture is quite unique. The cuisine is a bit of a melting pot, borrowing ideas from nearby Italy and the Middle East, as well as a focus on fresh seafood as it is an island in the Mediterranean after all. When I first heard about the restaurant Maha, I was intrigued by a modern interpretation of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Chef Shane Delia grew up in a Maltese family like mine where food was a huge part of their lives. I just knew I had to try it the next time I visited Melbourne.
We picked a surprisingly busy Thursday lunch, with the restaurant obviously a popular choice for business lunches. There are several ways of dining at Maha. The first is the soufra, 2, 3 of 4 courses specially created for each table, catering to allergies or dislikes. There is also the Sultan’s Feast, a $75 degustation, an exploration of Shane’s influences and signature dishes. Or there is the a la carte lunch option, which we picked, with 2 courses for $55 or 3 courses for $65.
I started with a lovely cocktail called Roses Are Red ($18) which was a unique blend of Plymouth sloe gin, rosé, rose syrup, lemon jallab grape & rose syrup. While it looked very pretty in pink, it actually packed a fair bit of punch. The flavours worked so well together, and it was a great start to the meal.
We started with a dish that ended up being the highlight of our meal, if not the whole trip! The roast Glenloth quail with cocoa nibs, candied walnuts and ancient grains, chicken parfait bastilla, coffee and cardamom air was a beautiful and thoughtfully prepared dish that I could have eaten all by myself if allowed! The quail was perfectly cooked, succulent flesh with delicious crispy skin. The “ancient grains” were an interesting textural contrast with the bitterness of the cacao nibs subtle but welcomed. I also really loved the parfait. The foam seemed perhaps a little over the top, I thought it neither added not detracted from the dish itself. A really fantastic dish, beautifully balanced and presented.
Steve chose the slow roasted otway pork belly with crispy skin, pomegranate and grape dressing for his main. It looked stunning on the plate and was served with an apple and celeriac salad with tahini mayo on the side. I thought that the pomegranate and grapes were an interesting accompaniment, their tartness helping to balance the richness of the pork. It isn’t a dish for the faint hearted or cholesterol conscious, that much is certain. The cracking was earth-shattering and perfectly cooked but the meat was unpleasantly fatty in some places.
My dish was the 12 hour roasted lamb shoulder with pistachio and green olive tabouleh. It was beautifully cooked, treated with care and it showed. I hardly needed my knife at all, the meat was so wonderfully tender. It was served with a tangy labne that contrasted nicely with the meat. My only criticism was that there was too much meat and not much of anything else. It would have benefited greatly from double or triple the amount of tabouleh! I don’t usually love green olives, but they went really nicely with this dish and I loved the textural contrast of the pistachios.
The dish I was most excited about was the Turkish Delight Doughnuts. After seeing the feature on Maha in Gourmet Traveller earlier this year, I wanted to try them, and I thought we were really in for something special. While they were very tasty, I think they were a little doughy on the inside and seemed to be a little lacking in filling. But I loved the candied almonds and the sticky syrup that accompanied them, and they were lovely with a Turkish Apple tea.
I thought it was a really lovely lunch. The staff were fabulous and very helpful, the décor was stunning and the food was very interesting and unique. I thought the quail dish was pure genius and the stand out of the meal, and I can’t wait to try making the Turkish Delight doughnuts at home!
Maha Bar & Grill – 21 Bond St, Melbourne
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I’ve just got home from a few days in Melbourne with the boy, which was absolutely lovely… except for the crazy and unpredictable weather! This weekend has taught me that it’s really possibly to get four seasons in one day, even though it’s supposed to be spring. I hear the weather in Sydney hasn’t been much better. With such indecisive weather around I thought it fitting to dust off this dessert, which straddles winter and summer, using the last of winter’s produce in frozen dessert. Quince season is winding up for the year, while ice cream season is just beginning!
Quince and rhubarb is a magical combination. Two of my favourite things; a match made in heaven. I will warn you now, cooking quinces is a labour of love. They need to simmer away for hours to develop the signature ruby colour. I poached mine in slices for about three hours until they were rosy, and then added the rhubarb for a burst of vibrant colour and tartness. I strained the fruit, while retaining the liquids, which I then simmered down to a syrup. Finally I pureed the fruit and syrup together.
You could stop at this point, because the quince and rhubarb puree would be lovely with yoghurt, or to spoon onto muesli, but I decided to swirl it through a homemade brown sugar ice cream. The ice cream itself was based on David Lebovitz’s vanilla bean ice cream from The Perfect Scoop, my go to ice cream book that has never failed me. I replaced the white sugar with brown sugar for an interesting, slightly caramelly taste that worked so well with the fruit puree. I liked this ice cream on its own, or in a waffle cone, but it would make the most perfect accompaniment to a rhubarb crumble. I swoon a little just thinking about it.
You could get really creative with “rippled” ice creams, especially with the summer fruit that is just around the corner. Peach puree swirled through honey ice cream, apricot swirled through tea-infused ice cream, or perhaps cherry swirled through coconut. The combinations are truly endless, and I think I’m going to have fun playing with them over the warmer months!
Quince and Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Makes 1 litre
Quince and Rhubarb Puree
• 1 quince
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 litre water
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• ½ bunch rhubarb, cut into 5cm lengths.
Peel and core the quince and cut into 8 pieces. Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat. Add the vanilla seeds, bean and quince pieces. Half cover the pot and simmer on the lowest heat for 3 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes and topping up with water if necessary. When quince is rosy pink, add the rhubarb and poach until soft. Strain the fruit and reserve the juices. Add the juices back to the saucepan and simmer until syrupy. Place fruit and syrup into a food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Brown Sugar Ice Cream
• 1 cup (250ml) milk
• ¾ cup (150g) brown sugar
• 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
• Pinch salt
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 6 large egg yolks
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Warm the milk, brown sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Place the vanilla seeds and bean into the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pout the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pout the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract and stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Swirl spoonfuls of the puree through the brown sugar ice cream and freeze overnight, or until scoopable.
Friday, October 15, 2010
I remember as a child playing shop with my fabulous cash register toy that even had a working conveyor belt. I used to wish I could make delicious things to sell in my shop, with my dolls being my best customers. In recent times, this has all become possible. For a few months now, Miss GourmetRabbit herself, Denea and I have been toying with the idea of selling gourmet jam and home made granola at the markets, and it’s finally become a reality.
Over the weekend, we had out first day at the inaugural Reservoir Bazaar Markets at The Winery in Surry Hills. At my day job, I designed the logo and posters for the markets, which are on every Saturday between 10am-4pm and it was a great opportunity to be involved on a few different levels.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we have two varieties of delicious MyRabbit Muesli – Squirrel Mix, which contained hazelnuts, almonds and juicy chunks of Turkish figs, and Rabbit Mix with a lovely blend of Manuka honey, cranberries and white chocolate-coated almonds.
The granola is sold in large and small coffee cups with a spoon so you can add milk or yoghurt and eat them on the go or at your desk, perfect for people who don’t have time to sit down to a proper breakfast. But the best part – once you’re done, the cup can be reused for your morning coffee. Brilliant! Small cups are $6 and the large cups are $8.
We also have a range of spicyicecream branded preserves, which is very exciting! My strawberry jam has a subtle hint of ginger and vanilla, and is absolutely delicious on scones. Denea’s Nanna would be proud that her recipe is used for our country style lemon butter – it’s the real stuff, and it tastes fantastic. The jams are packaged beautifully with labels designed by moi. And with Christmas around the corner, they would make excellent gifts at only $10 each!
We’re also selling GourmetRabbit magazine, so if you haven’t got your copy yet, this is the perfect chance! Our next markets will be in a fortnight, on Saturday 30th October and we hope to see you there! And for my lovely readers, here’s a very special offer. If you mention this post, you’ll receive a free small granola with any purchase of $20 or more! So come down and say hi, check out the markets, get your granola fix and have a lovely long lunch at The Winery!
Reservoir Bazaar Markets, Every Saturday 10am-4pm at The Winery
285A Crown St, Surry Hills (near Thomas Dux)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of food I like to cook the most. A big hunk of meat, slow roasted until it’s falling off the bone, or a sauce simmered for hours to adorn some homemade pasta. But when it comes to sweets, my favourite desserts always seem to revolve around seasonal fruits. While I love cooking with chocolate, there’s something magical about fruity desserts. In summer it’s all about cherries, peaches and plums, and in winter quinces and pears appear regularly in my kitchen.
Crumble is one of my favourite desserts to make, because it’s so easily adaptable to include whatever fruit you find at the market, or combination thereof, and they’re quick and easy to prepare. There’s truly not much better than a warm crumble with a big scoop of ice cream, no matter what time of year. Right now, blueberries are coming into season, they’re one of my favourite berries and I love baking with them.
When I saw this amazing blueberry crumble cake on the lovely blog Sweetcakes Bakeshop, I knew I had to make it. I think it was a great way to combine a fruit crumble with a buttery cake, a match made in heaven. I love the combination of textures – from the jam-like blueberries, to the buttery crunch of the crumble. It’s an easy, homely dessert, a lovely alternative to an afternoon tea cake or the perfect little sweet thing to take on a spring picnic.
I added some ground cinnamon to the cake itself, as well as a good splash of homemade vanilla extract. I think this cake would also be lovely with other fruit instead of blueberries, maybe thinly sliced peaches, raspberries, cherries or figs, or you could try adding oats, nuts or other spices to the crumble for something different.
Blueberry Crumble Cake
Adapted from Swetcakes Bakeshop
• ¾ cup sugar
• 55g butter, softened
• 1 egg
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ¼ cup milk
• ¼ cup pouring cream
• 1 ½ cups plain flour
• 1 teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 cups fresh blueberries
• ¼ cup sugar
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1/3 cup plain flour
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 55g butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) pan. Cream together the sugar, butter, egg and vanilla extract.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl or jug, combine milk and cream. Add flour mixture to the butter in thirds, alternating with milk, starting and ending with flour. Pour batter into the pan. Top with blueberries.
To make the crumble topping, combine the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Rub butter into the mixture with your fingertips. Sprinkle over cake batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes until crumble is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I declare that 2010 is the year of ribs! I think I’ve eaten more ribs this year alone than in the rest of my life combined, and it’s only October, plenty of time yet! There’s been all you can eat rib-a-thons at Mumu Grill, Café Ish and Waterfront Grill, as well as some delicious specimens sampled at South, Buzo, Sugarmill and Taste of Sydney (I still dream about Danks St Depot’s watermelon smoked beef ribs). What could be more beautiful than perfectly marinated meat, absolutely falling off the bone, with no cutlery required! It’s quite primal, I suppose, gnawing meat from bones, but makes me glad to be a carnivore, because, well, animals are delicious.
It was only a matter of time before I shared my own recipe for ribs. It’s one that I’ve made a few times this year and that I now deem perfect. It’s loosely based on a recipe from this year’s Masterchef, following the same method with a spice rub, a good grilling on a smoky barbeque, and then followed by a slow braise in the oven, soaking in a saucy marinade. I’ve changed up the ingredients in both the spice rub and the marinade a little to create an incredible combination that is a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy, but massively delicious. Especially with a beer, or a summery cocktail.
This recipe is quite time consuming to tackle all in one day, unless you’re planning a very late lunch, but if you prepare the spice rub the day before, the pork ribs can marinate in the fridge overnight. And if you have a handy man about the house to tend to the barbeque, you can prepare the marinade in the meantime. But make sure you’ve got snacks while they’re braising, because hot damn they smell so amazing my mouth was literally watering, while my stomach was growling.
In the future I’d really like to try cooking beef ribs, I think they’re quite a different specimen to pork ribs but equally if not even more delicious. And I have the recipe for Jared’s watermelon ribs from his beautiful cookbook Sharing Plates! I served the pork ribs with crinkle cut chips – a personal favourite – but you could serve with piping hot cornbread, coleslaw or salad.
BBQ Pork Ribs
Adapted from Masterchef
• 1.5kg American style pork ribs
• Olive oil
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon salt
• ½ teaspoon chilli powder (to taste)
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ brown onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• ¾ cup brown sugar
• 1/3 cup white vinegar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon chilli powder
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons Maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• ¼ cup red wine
• 1/3 cup bourbon
• ½ onion, finely chopped
• 1 tomato, finely chopped
• Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the ingredients for the spice rub in a bowl. Using your hands, rub the mixture into the meat to coat completely. Set aside in an air-tight container in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
Heat a BBQ or char-grill plate over high heat. Drizzle olive oil onto ribs and toss to coat. Place ribs fat side up and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until sealed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place marinade ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened slightly and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer ribs to a large oven-proof dish and pour over marinade. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1 ½ - 2 hours, turning 3-4 times throughout, until meat is tender and falling off the bone. You can remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking to crisp up the outsides slightly. Serve with chips.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Long time readers will already know that I’m a lover of all things ginger. It’s sort of funny actually, because as a child I hated it. I didn’t like gingersnap biscuits or the ginger ale my Nan would offer when I went to visit, but then I will admit, I was a pretty fussy eater. I also didn’t like mushrooms or any type of seafood, which now that I am older and wiser, I’m learning to love. It seemed like the obvious next step would be to try making my own ginger drinks, since I love them so much. Which brings me to this fabulous recipe for homemade ginger ale, which I discovered on Gourmet.
I am still a little too freaked out by the possibility of exploding bottles to attempt brewing my own ginger beer (yet) but I will get there one day. In the meantime, this ginger ale is ridiculously easy to make and comes together in hours rather days, and you can even spend most of that time doing other things, like catching up on Gossip Girl over the long weekend. Just peel and slice some fresh ginger and simmer on the stove with some water. Turn off the heat and steep for another 20 minutes, add some sugar, strain, cool and drink. That’s it!
I have made this recipe before, when I was visiting Perth earlier this year, but we drank it all before we got to snap a photo. It tasted remarkably similar to the ginger cordial at Bills, which I thought could benefit from just a little more sweetness. This time I think I’ve improved on it, and it’s totally delicious. I like mine with gin, lime wedges, mint and lemonade, but you could try vodka, rum or Pimms if you prefer, perhaps with slices of cucumber or fruit to make a lovely summery drink.
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 1 1/2 cups (enough for 6-8 drinks)
• 200g chopped, peeled ginger
• 2 cups water
• ¾ cup caster sugar
• 1 litre lemonade
• Gin, lime wedges, mint leaves and lemonade to serve (optional)
Cook ginger in water in a small saucepan at a low simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered for 20 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve into a heatproof jug, pressing on ginger and then discarding the solids. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Chill syrup until very cold.
To assemble drinks, (the way I like mine) place ice cubes, 30ml gin, lime wedge and mint leaves in a glass. Top with cold ginger syrup to taste and lemonade.