Saturday, January 28, 2012
It’s just not summer without delicious, juicy stone fruit. Peaches are one of my ultimate favourites, and they have been especially beautiful this year. There are so many interesting things you can do with them, so I thought I would share a few ideas courtesty of some of my favourite blogs (and a few old favourites from my own archives) that will hopefully inspire you to get creative with peaches before the summer is over. I’ve also got a seriously delicious recipe to share with you too, at the end of the post. Enjoy!
Picture Credits: Bless Her Heart & Verses From My Kitchen
1. What could be better than peaches with your Pimm’s? Not much I imagine. Bless Her Heart gives us a lovely recipe for a Pimms Cocktail that has a triple hit of peach with peach bitters, peach syrup and lovely fresh peaches too!
2. Another lovely drink (with possibly the best name ever) is The Shucks Deluxe from Verses From My Kitchen. I love the sound of this summery drink with vodka, honey and a hint of rosemary. Yum!
Picture Credits: Endless Simmer & Cherry Tea Cakes
3. Yes, yes, I know I’m a little bit obsessed with boozy pops lately, but these Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Pops from Endless Simmer sound amazing! I love the sound of peach, strawberry and vodka together in one adult iceblock.
4. This Peach and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream from Cherry Tea Cakes sounds pretty amazing. I love combining fruit and herbs and this recipe sounds like a winner!
5. This delicious Summer Verrine of Peaches and Honey comes courtesy of my friend Karen from Citrus and Candy, which looks like the best way to enjoy both yellow and white peaches, apart from eating them fresh with the juices running all the way down your arm!
6. Peach and Ginger is a lovely combination that works so well in this ice cream, especially served with a delicious gooey blondie. Or, serve this in ice cream sandwich form as in the original recipe from Whimsy and Spice via Design*Sponge.
7. How stunning is this Peaches and Cream Layer Cake from Always With Butter! I love the sound of the mascarpone ‘frosting’ that I think would truly let the peaches shine. I wish my birthday was in summer so I could have this as my cake!
8. This Yoghurt and Almond Cake with Caramel Peaches is one from my own archives and I had to include it because it’s a beautifully simple cake that is a great base for any number of flavours. I just loved this version topped with caramel peaches.
9. These Praline Peaches from What Katie Ate just look magical don’t they? They are baked in honey and served with a homemade praline and lightly sweetened mascarpone. I can’t wait to make these for my next summer dinner party!
10. Peaches are also lovely as part of a decadent weekend breakfast! I love the look of the Roasted Peach Crepes from Inspiring the Everyday. I mean isn’t that photo beautiful! I’ve never made crepes before but these with a little whipped cream and dark cherry jam look like perfection!
11. Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes did a wonderful job recreating the classic dessert Peach Melba into Macaron form with raspberry buttercream and poached peach. And aren’t the heart shapes totally cute!
12. As soon as I saw the Pork Pizza with Provolone and Peach in Gourmet Traveller, Ut Si Café was a must visit for our Tasmania trip early last year. And I’m so glad we did, because that pizza (changed up in different seasons and served with pear when we had it) was absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try it at home!
13. I’m so glad I have been able to finally make the Peach and Bourbon Pies that have been floating around in my head for such a long time now, and they were even more delicious than I imagined they would be! I used my favourite pastry recipe again, although I found it necessary to put it back into the fridge a few times because the heat made it quite tricky to work with, and the filling couldn’t be simpler. These little pies were very popular around here. They were great hot or cold, served with ice cream or completely plain. There's one left and I think someone's going to have to fight me for it!
Peach and Bourbon Pies
Vanilla Pastry (adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
• 450g plain flour
• 120g pure icing sugar, sifted
• 225g cold butter, coarsely chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3-4 tablespoons iced water
Peach and Bourbon Filling
• 5 or 6 peaches (depending on size)
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons bourbon
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 1 tablespoon cornflour
To make the pastry, combine flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3-4 tablespoons iced water and vanilla extract and pulse until mixture just combines. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). For the pie filling, peel peaches and remove stones. Cut each peach half into quarters, and depending on the size, you may need to cut them in half again. Combine peach slices and the rest of the ingredients for pie filling in a bowl and stir gently to combine. Set aside.
To assemble pies, roll two-thirds of the pastry between sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm thick and use to line 6 buttered 9.5cm diameter pie pans. Fill with peach mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to 3mm thick and cut into 1cm strips. Place strips over tops of pies in a lattice shape, press down and trim edges. Brush tops with egg wash and scatter with raw sugar. Bake pies for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Given that today is Australia Day, I wanted to make something suitably patriotic to celebrate. I wanted to have a bit of fun, with a twist on a classic Australian icon, and given my predilection towards cake, choosing the lamington was a no brainer! I’ve had plenty of average lamingtons in my time, and I’ve learned that nothing beats homemade.
That’s where these Lamington Doughnuts come in. Imagine a fresh, fluffy, perfectly cooked doughnut, filled with warm jam and dipped in a rich chocolate glaze, then tossed in coconut. And they were seriously good.
I’ve listed the jam as optional below, because I won’t lie, I made a complete mess of my kitchen while trying to fill them. I had jam all over my hands, all over my shirt, and all over the kitchen bench! It’s also a good idea not to use a chunky jam because the fruit will block your piping bag. The doughnuts were still delicious without it.
I hope you’re all enjoying your Australia Day with BBQ’s and beers and good times with your mates today! I'll see you back here next week for a nice summery dessert.
Makes about 20
(adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
• 125ml (1/2 cup) pouring cream
• 60ml (1/4 cup milk)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 225g (1 ½ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 1 tablespoon dried yeast
• 30g caster sugar
• Vegetable oil for deep frying
• ¾ cup strawberry jam, slightly warmed (optional)
• 1 ½ cups coconut (shredded or desiccated)
• 2 cups icing sugar
• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• 10g butter
• ½ cup milk
For the doughnuts, combine cream, milk and vanilla in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until lukewarm (30 seconds - 1minute). Meanwhile, combine flour, yeast, sugar and a pinch of fine salt in a large bowl. Add cream mixture and stir to combine. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth. Transfer to a lighly oiled bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (35-40 minutes).
Knock back the dough and roll out on a floured surface to 2cm thick. Cut out 5cm circles, place on trays lined with baking paper, cover with a clean towel and stand for 30 minutes or until risen. Preheat oil in a deep fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 180°C (350°F). Deep fry zeppole in batches, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes). Drain on paper towel and allow to cool slightly.
Fill a piping bag with slightly warmed jam and pipe into the center of each doughnut, being careful not to overfill.
To make the chocolate icing, sift icing sugar and cocoa into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and milk. Stand the bowl over simmering water and stir until icing is of a good consistency. Place coconut in a small bowl. Hold each doughnut on a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Dip into the chocolate icing then toss in coconut, one at a time, to cover. Stand lamington doughnuts on a wire rack until set.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Wahhooooo! It’s a momentous day, because Perth finally has a good Mexican restaurant! After visiting a couple of disappointing places over the last few years serving inauthentic grease-laden slop, La Cholita is a truly welcome addition to the vibrant Northbridge dining scene. We got there just before 7pm and snaffled the last spot sitting at the bar. Shortly after there was a queue stretching down the street. Something you expect at popular restaurants in Sydney or Melbourne, but something I’d never witnessed before in laid-back Perth!
It’s hard not to pick up on similarities with places like Mamasita and Barrio Chino. The staff are all young, hip things, and I think tattoos must be part of the uniform. The drinks list focuses heavily on tequila, as you would expect, but also has a really interesting wine list ranging from Spain and Portugal to Argentina and Chile. I started with a glass of Sangria, which was perfect for the warm evening, and had me going back for more as soon as my glass was empty.
We were given a variety of condiments – lime wedges, a tangy yoghurt sauce, a green chilli relish and a spicy chilli sauce. We each ordered the Mexican Street corn, since the menu didn’t say you actually got 3 pieces per serve. Not that it really mattered, we polished them off! They were good but I wished there was some coriander to liven them up a little.
As you may have realised by now, I’m powerless to anything involving pulled pork so the Slow-cooked Pork taco with pineapple and onion was a must-order for me. The tortilla itself was a little thick and doughy compared to others I’ve tried, but it was still pretty great. Steve tried the Baja fish taco with chipotle mayo. It was actually a bit disappointing – the batter was quite thick, and I can’t help but think it would have tasted better if the fish had been grilled and served with some crunchy slaw instead.
They misplaced our order for our main dish, Chicken Mole, and the staff were a bit hard to flag down to ask about it. When it finally arrived at our table it was a little different to how we expected. Instead of being cooked in a sauce, the chicken was grilled with a spiced chocolate mixture piled on top. I can’t rave enough about how perfectly the chicken was cooked. The meat was amazingly juicy. The “sauce” was tasty, but a little under-seasoned and I think the spices could have been a lot stronger. It was greatly improved with some chilli from the condiments tray.
We were getting pretty full by this point but we couldn’t leave without having dessert! Especially when there’s dulce de leche ice cream involved! The ice cream was wrapped in pastry and cooked, served with cinnamon sugar and chocolate sauce. It was a delicious, oozy mess that almost had us licking the plate clean.
We enjoyed La Cholita and I’m very happy to find some decent Mexican in Perth. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of their other dishes, especially the tostadas and quesadillas. I would put it on par with Mamasita in Melbourne in terms of food (good) and service (hit and miss). It does get loud and very busy in there, but the atmosphere is a lot of fun for a catchup with friends over some good food and booze.
La Cholita, 279 William St Northbridge WA (08) 9227 9238
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Isn't it funny how your tastes change over the years? As a child I wouldn't go near mushrooms, eggplant, pumpkin, seafood, and many more things I now find delicious. Lychees were definitely in the 'no way' zone but these days I love them, and they have been especially delicious this summer. I came home one day a few weeks ago to find a surprise gift waiting for me, a box of beautiful lychees from Impact Communications that were just waiting to be turned into something delicious.
When thinking about what to make, my mind kept wandering back to the signature cocktail at Kit & Kaboodle in Kings Cross, called the Kit Martini – a delicious combination of vodka, lychee, elderflower and cloudy apple juice. I decided to play with those flavours in a boozy, and decidedly summery iceblock. And I've gotta say, they're every bit as good as the drink itself!
Even better, they’re ridiculously easy to make – just stir, pour and freeze. I can imagine eating one of these after a dip in the pool on a hot day, or after a BBQ dinner on a sultry evening. I made my iceblocks in shot glasses, but you could also try using small cake moulds. And funnily it was almost a year to the day that I posted these delicious Watermelon, Raspberry and Gin iceblocks, which I’ll definitely be making again soon!
Thanks again to Impact Communications for the beautiful lychees!
Lychee, Vodka and Elderflower Iceblocks
• 8 lychees, peeled and seeds removed (or use canned lychees if fresh are unavailable)
• ¼ cup vanilla vodka
• 3-4 tablespoons elderflower liqueur or cordial
• 500ml cloudy apple juice
• Sugar syrup, to taste, optional
Process lychees in a food processor and pass through a fine sieve to get about 200ml of juice. Stir in vanilla vodka, elderflower liqueur or cordial and apple juice. If desired, add sugar syrup to taste.
Pour into shot glasses or other small mould and freeze for about 2 hours. Insert a paddle pop stick into the center of each iceblock and then freeze overnight, or until firm. To serve, gently twist iceblocks from glasses or run under a little cool water to dislodge. Serve immediately.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I was going to wait until next week to post these, but I just couldn’t. I’m pretty excited about these little babies! I had the idea to turn the beloved summer dessert Strawberry Shortcake into a macaron quite some time ago, but I was too scared of baking those temperamental little biscuits to try it until now! Perfect macarons are akin to the Holy Grail for an amateur baker, and let me tell you, it took quite a few attempts before I managed to get them right.
Thank goodness for Steph, who not only gave me a great demonstration but also a good dose of moral support and inspiration while brainstorming possible macaron flavour combinations. While my technique is still not quite perfect (I seem to have a habit of under mixing them slightly) I think they’re definitely passable! And even though I’ve made a few successful batches in the last few months, I still do a happy dance in front of the oven when I see that they have feet! Huzzah!
I made these last weekend while I was in Perth, where we have established a little garden that the boy does a smashing job of looking after while I’m not there. The cherry tomatoes and capsicum are going great guns, and you know what happened to the mint. The strawberries have just started to ripen (although unfortunately there were not enough yet to use homegrown in this recipe, maybe next trip!) but they looked so pretty I just had to photograph them.
I was really happy with how they turned out and they were certainly popular with all of the taste testers! I think they would be rather lovely at a high tea or a garden party, don’t you?
Strawberry Shortcake Macarons
Makes about 15 sandwiched macarons
Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes
• 110g almond meal, dried in a cool oven for 5 minutes and sifted
• 200g icing sugar
• 100g aged eggwhites
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites, optional (available from Essential Ingredient)
For the filling
• Lightly sweetened whipped cream
• Fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into 1cm cubes
To make the macaron shells, line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in a food processor and pulse to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and egg white powder in a medium bowl until the powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.
Add meringue to the dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white. You can be quite rough at this point, and then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of the mixture spread across the surface should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds 3cm diameter on prepared baking sheets.
Tap against the bench to remove any air bubbles and leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently, it doesn’t break. Preheat the oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F) and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes. Gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Spoon or pipe whipped cream onto macaron shells, adding ½ teaspoon of chopped strawberries and then sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature. Serve at room temperature.
Monday, January 9, 2012
I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions lately, I guess it comes with the territory in the first few weeks of January. I get the feeling that 2012 will be a year filled with big changes, big adventures and big life decisions, though I don’t want to jinx anything, and I thought I’d share a couple of the things I want to do this year here.
• Read more. I used to read a crazy amount of books but as the last few years have got busier, I have been reading less and less.
• Make more from scratch. I’m usually pretty good at this, but I want to make the effort to make more of my ingredients totally from scratch, like mayonnaise, ricotta, stock, bread etc.
• Waste less. I’m sure I’m not the only one who buys a bunch of herbs for a particular recipe and forgets about the rest until it’s turned to liquid in the crisper drawer! This has to stop, because the food waste statistics are absolutely horrifying.
• Grow my own. Stemming from the last point, I can pick just enough for what I need. Plus it’s so satisfying to be able to go out and pick beautiful fresh herbs and vegetables from the backyard. From the little garden we started in spring, the tomatoes, strawberries and capsicum are going great guns, and the mint is growing wild!
• Document the year. If you follow me on Instagram (username is spicyicecream, of course) you can see the results of my photo-a-day project! I hope to make it past April this time around!
This ice cream was completely made from scratch (check!) using mint that we grew ourselves (check!) in our fancy new red ice cream maker, a Christmas present from the boy's parents. I’ve been interested in making a fresh mint ice cream ever since I saw it on Orangette a few years ago, which was from my favourite ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. The man is a genius, and this ice cream is delicious.
I loved the herbaceous quality of this ice cream, so different (and so much better) than anything artificially flavoured. I ended up using a bit less than the original recipe asked for but it was a surprisingly strong mint flavour. I added a couple of drops of food colouring to get that shade of green but I’ve listed that as optional in the recipe below. The addition of chopped chocolate and a rich chocolate sauce was also fantastic and I know I’ll definitely be making this ice cream again and again.
Fresh Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 1 litre
• 1 cup milk
• ¾ cup sugar
• 2 cups heavy cream
• Pinch salt
• 1 cup lightly packed mint leaves
• 5 large egg yolks
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• A few drops green food colouring, optional
• 100g chocolate, finely chopped
Warm the milk, sugar and 1 cup of cream, salt and mint in a medium saucepan. Once the mixture is hot and steaming, remove from the heat, cover and let stand for at least an hour to infuse the mint flavour. Remove the mint with a strainer and then press down with a spatula firmly to extract as much mint flavour as possible, then discard the mint.
Pour the remaining cream and vanilla into a large bowl and set a strainer on top. Rewarm the infused milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and then slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
Cook custard, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Immediately stain the mixture into the cream, then stir over an ice bath until cool. Add food colouring if using. Refrigerate overnight, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When almost ready, stir in chopped chocolate, transfer to a container and freeze until firm. Serve with chocolate sauce.
Chocolate Sauce (adapted from Taste)
Note: This recipe will make more than you need, but it will store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
• 185ml thickened cream
• 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 55g brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place ingredients into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a metal or wooden spoon until chocolate is almost melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until chocolate melts. Serve warm or transfer to a clean airtight jar or container. Store in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. Serve room temperature or warm.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
If I were forced to choose only one kind of sweet to make for the rest of my life, it would have to be gorgeous, rustic, Southern-style fruit desserts. From pies to crisps, buckles to slumps, I am in love with them all…especially their curious names! You can’t really go wrong with baked fruit and pastry with a big scoop of ice cream on top.
Today I’ve got a beautiful recipe for you guys, and I’m not ashamed to say I ate pretty much all of this on my own because I didn’t want to share! To make the most of the delicious berries that are in season at the moment, I baked up a Berry Cobbler. I used a mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and red currants subtly flavoured with elderflower, topped with a delicious buttermilk biscuit pastry.
It was a really great dessert, one I’m sure would be a delicious ending to any summer BBQ. Bonus points because it takes hardly any time at all to put together, and you can definitely play around with the fruits and flavours you use. Any kind of stone fruit would be delicious, from cherries to peaches or even apricots. In winter, try it with apples and pears spiced with cinnamon and vanilla.
Mixed Berry Cobbler with Buttermilk Pastry
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 2 hungry people
• 400g mixed berries (I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and red currants)
• 200g raw caster sugar
• 1 tablespoon plain flour
• 40ml elderflower cordial or liqueur
• 1 cup self raising flour
• 50g butter, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons raw sugar, plus extra for scattering
• 90ml buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 180°C (400°F). Combine berries, sugar, flour and elderflower cordial or liqueur in a bowl and divide between 2 ovenproof bowls (or in one larger bowl if you prefer)
For the buttermilk pastry, process flour, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add buttermilk and process until mixture forms a dough, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until smooth. Roll out to 5mm thick and cut out 5cm rounds with a pastry cutter. Arrange over berries, overlapping slightly. Brush tops with a little extra buttermilk and scatter raw sugar over pastry. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and pastry is golden and risen. Serve hot with ice cream.