Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, December 23, 2013

Simple Dinners 07 / Prawn and Watermelon Panzanella

prawn watermelon panzanella

An Australian Christmas is a magical thing. 

There's usually seafood, salads and pavlova topped with lots of summer fruit. With some luck it's warm and sunny, and lunch is usually followed by a dip in the pool... unless you opt for a nap on the couch instead. I really can't imagine Christmas any other way.

If you're looking for a last minute Christmas salad or side dish or even a quick summer dinner, this is it. Ticking all the boxes - seasonal, delicious, pretty on the plate and a little bit unique, this Prawn and Watermelon Panzanella combines some seriously awesome flavours in the one dish. From start to finish, the whole thing took less than 15 minutes and can even be made on the BBQ.

A traditional panzanella is a great way to use in-season tomatoes and day old bread, making it a fantastic summer meal. But I took it a step further, because I love watermelon, feta and mint together. And to make it a little more substantial as a meal, I added some beautiful pan-fried prawns, but you could add grilled chicken or thinly sliced rare beef or lamb instead, or leave out the meat entirely for a yummy vegetarian dish!

I wish all of my readers a wonderful, relaxing Christmas. I hope you enjoy lots of great food and good times with your family and friends. Thank you so much for all of your support this year, and I'm very excited about what 2014 will bring! I'll be back next week sharing some of my favourite posts of the year xx

prawn watermelon panzanella

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Cheesecake + 13 Ways with Cherries

chocolate bourbon cherry cheesecake

CHERRIES! I get super excited this time of year, because yes, Christmas is a little over a week away... but even more awesomely, almost all of my favourite fruits are in season, abundant, and totally delicious. Berries, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, figs (soon) and cherries!

They're one of my favourite fruits and only have a very short season, so I wanted to share 13 amazing looking recipes that I hope you'll try. And if you're in the northern hemisphere and fresh cherries aren't available, most of these recipes work with preserved cherries too. I think some of these would be perfect at your Christmas lunch!

13 Ways with... Cherries

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Our Kitchen & Cookie and Kate

1. This Cherry, Lime & Whisky Cocktail from Our Kitchen looks very pretty, and sounds perfect for any Christmas party, no matter which hemisphere you're in. Stripy straws a must!

2. I only discovered Rainer cherries recently, and loved their sweeter flavour. I loved Cookie and Kate's lovely twist on the classic cocktail - the Rainier Cherry Mojito. Sounds perfect for a sunset tipple on a hot summer's day.

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: How Sweet Eats & Martha Stewart

3. How good do these Roasted Cherry Bourbon Milkshakes with Hot Fudge look! This recipe from How Sweet Eats looks like a very, very special boozy treat. I've also become addicted to this beautiful and new-to-me blog. Check it out!

4. When I was in New York earlier this year, I became addicted to this Cherry Juice that was sold at the Union Square Greenmarket, which was tart and super refreshing. I think Martha Stewart's Sour Cherry Lemonade would be just as delicious. I love that it's served in a large pitcher - perfect for your summer BBQ's.

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Cannelle et Vanille & Spicyicecream

5. Aran from Cannelle et Vanille is a very talented lady who always makes the most delicious looking desserts, and these Cherry, Cinnamon and Vanilla Flan Tarts are no exception! I love that she has mixed different kinds of cherries in the one dessert for colour and flavour.

6. I made these Cherry Poptarts with Vanilla Bean Glaze for my blogger girlfriends a few Christmases ago and they were a massive hit. The best thing is that they're made with a good quality (or even homemade if you're feeling keen) cherry jam, so you can enjoy them all year round.

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: What Katie Ate & Lara Ferroni

7. What Katie Ate is one of my favourite blogs without a doubt. I remember seeing this epic Black Forest Gateau (from an episode of Masterchef Australia) soon after I discovered it and was immediately hooked. Luckily it's still picture perfect, even if the recipe had a few problems.

8. Lara Ferroni is the author of a book all about doughnuts (which I own and love), so I would trust her implicitly on all matters concerning fried dough. I love the sound of these simple Ricotta Drop Doughnuts with Fresh Cherry Sauce. Perfect for breakfast or dessert!

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Citrus and Candy & Gourmet Traveller

9. My gorgeous friend Karen from Citrus and Candy does decadent desserts like no other, and clafoutis is a great "lazy but fabulous" option, in her words. So it goes to reason that this Chocolate and Cherry Clafoutis is perfect for the busy Christmas season, when you'd rather spend time by the pool than in a hot kitchen. Perfect.

10. Christmas breakfast is sorted. This alluring stack of Cherry Toast with Vanilla Cream looks like the perfect way to start your Christmas Day. With a few Mimosa's too?

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Call Me Cupcake & The Bojon Gourmet

11. Ice cream on Christmas Day is a bit of a tradition here in Australia, because it usually gets so hot! Dessert is often followed by a dip in the swimming pool. I really love the look of this festive Fudge Ice Cream Cake from Call Me Cupcake, topped with ruby red cherries. Stunning!

12. This Roasted Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream with Bourbon and Chocolate from the Bojon Gourmet looks like a grown up cherry ripe. And that is definitely something I can get behind. If you haven't already checked out this blog, do! It's filled with great recipes and amazing photographs.

chocolate bourbon cherry cheesecake

13. It was my Mum's birthday over the past weekend and she deliberated long and hard over the kind of cake she wanted. "Cheesecake would be nice... or something with cherries" were her requests, so I set about combining the two in one decadent birthday dessert - Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Cheesecake - that would also be perfect for Christmas.

I think next time I'd swap half the amount of cream cheese for mascarpone or ricotta (or a combination of the two) and use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder. I was a little rushed for time, used a cake tin that was slightly too small and probably didn't give the cheesecake quite long enough to cool in the oven before transferring it to the fridge, so it sunk a little and developed a few cracks in the top. Oops. Luckily with some strategic photo angles you can't really tell, and it still tasted great. I even got Mum to cut her cake for me while I photographed it! Happy Birthday Mummy! xx

Hope you give these a try, and if you have any other great cherry recipes, please post the link in the comments below!

chocolate bourbon cherry cheesecake

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chocolate Spice Gingerbread + 10 Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

chocolate spice gingerbread

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, that's for sure. For the last few years, one of the things I've enjoyed most about the Christmas season is baking. And in particular making homemade treats as gifts for friends, family and work colleagues.

Something thoughtful that is made with love. Something with Christmassy flavours, that inspires a little bit of nostalgia. Wrapped up with ribbon or twine and a handwritten note. I think it's a really special thing to do for the special people in your life, and I hope to continue the tradition for years to come.

chocolate spice gingerbread

This year, I wanted to put a new spin on one of my favourite recipes and this Chocolate Spice Gingerbread was born. Adapted from one of the first ever Christmas recipes I posted on this blog, it's been my go-to Christmas cookie recipe for years now, producing a soft and slightly chewy gingerbread. This time I added some cocoa, cloves and black pepper for a headily spiced gingerbread that made the house smell delicious as it was baking.

I kept it simple with traditional gingerbread men and snowflake shapes. I wasn't all that confident with my icing technique - some of the cookies looked like they were decorated by an un-coordinated six year old - but they tasted fantastic and were a big hit with the family.

chocolate spice gingerbread

I hope that inspires you to try making some homemade edible Christmas gifts for your friends and family this year. Here are 10 delicious ideas from some of my favourite blogs, I hope you'll give some of them a try!

For more Christmas recipe ideas, click here

chocolate spice gingerbread

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Recipe Roundup

merry christmas!

I had planned to share one more recipe with you before Christmas, but in the midst of a cleaning frenzy and packing for my trip to Perth, being dosed up on painkillers for my aching shoulder and the finished dessert just generally being all kinds of 'meh', I unfortunately have nothing new for you today!

I did however still want to pop in and wish all of you lovely readers a very very happy Christmas and holiday season. I hope it's filled with love, family and of course good food!

While I'm here I thought I'd shine the spotlight back onto the archives, just in case anyone is still looking for Christmas recipes because there's some pretty awesome stuff hiding back there! Here are a few of my faves...

christmas recipe roundup!

Traditional Desserts

I'll be back next week with a roundup of my favourite posts from 2012! xx

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mulled Wine Marshmallows

mulled wine marshmallows

I had wanted to come here today to write about Christmas baking and how much I was looking forward to some time to relax over the holidays, but after the heartbreaking events that happened on Friday in Conneticut, it all seems so trivial. I almost didn't post this at all.

I don't usually get so open and emotional here, but I have been much more affected by this event than any other disasters or tragedies in recent times, even those that happened much closer to home. I was in tears as I read about the heroic teachers who protected their young students, including Victoria Soto who was not much older than me and showed bravery I'm not sure I could have if I were in her shoes. Twenty young children were taken way, way, way too soon. And imagine how traumatic it was for all of the children who managed to hide and survived.

All of those people went to work/school on that completely normal day without even an inkling of what was about to happen. Everyone in that small town is now changed forever, especially the families and friends of the victims. I'm tearing up a little again as I write this. I hope and pray that their souls are at peace in heaven, and that senseless crimes like this could somehow be stopped for good.

mulled wine syrup

I think it's so important to tell the people you love that you care about them. We're all so busy with our own lives and all the stuff we think is important, but I for one am going to make a much greater effort to give my friends a phone call when they cross my mind, and spend time with my family way more often than I currently do. Life is just too short to hold grudges, anger and resentment. Friends and family are invaluable, and what better time than Christmas to make sure they know you love them.

At Christmastime I try to give edible homemade gifts, because they truly are made with love and I think it shows. These marshmallows were pretty darn delicious, but didn't quite work out as I'd hoped so I will keep working on the recipe before I share it with you. But the star here was the Mulled Wine Syrup! A bottle of wine was simmered with sugar and spices (you can use whichever ones you like) to create a wonderfully ambrosial syrup that I think would make a lovely gift because it's so versatile. Use it as a topping for ice cream or poached fruit, as the base for a delicious sangria or even as a glaze for ham or duck.

I hope this inspires some of you to show your loved ones that you care - whether it be with a phone call or a homemade Christmas gift, and to pray for the people who lost their lives, and all those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

mulled wine marshmallows

For more Christmas recipes click here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Berry and Moscato Trifles

berry moscato trifle

It's that time of year again. Hard to believe right? Is it just me or has this year flown by faster than ever?! But Christmas is just around the corner and I'm really looking forward to it, for a change. I'll be over in Perth with the boy's family for the first time, hopefully enjoying a proper hot Aussie Christmas! But I have a few neat Christmas recipes to share with you before then...

I was never a fan of heavy, overly boozy trifles made with packet jelly and poor quality custard, but seeing some beautiful and modern spins on this classic Christmas dish in recent years has changed my mind completely. I actually have a whole bunch of other ideas of trifles to make in the near future, so colour me obsessed (and stay tuned, it's gonna be awesome).

I first made this recipe for last year's family Christmas lunch in a massive trifle bowl, and I was surprised that after a huge lunch and with several other dessert choices, it was completely demolished! Quite a few people asked me for the recipe so I knew I would have to make it again this year - but this time I decided to halve the recipe and make individual servings as a practice run for Steve's much smaller family!

berry moscato trifle

There are a few different elements to this dessert, but it comes together more quickly than you'd think. The cranberry and moscato jelly and the vanilla bean custard can be made in advance, and the whole thing can be assembled the day before (or even a few hours before) you plan to serve it. This time around I used a store-bought sponge cake and cherry jam which saved me a lot of time, however homemade would taste even better!

I just love this summery, festive combination of flavours, but feel free to play around with it. Champagne would be a lovely substitute for Moscato in the jelly, any kind of berry jam or even rhubarb would work well, and a hint of passionfruit in the custard would be delicious too. This recipe can also be easily scaled up and served in a large glass bowl to feed a bigger crowd. Stay tuned for more Christmassy recipes coming up soon!

berry moscato trifle

For more Christmas recipes click here

Friday, December 23, 2011

Candy Cane Spiders + 13 Ways with Candy Canes!

candy cane spider

Well well, it’s Christmas Eve Eve. Most of us are finishing up work for the year and finishing off preparations for a big weekend of celebrating! Hopefully you’re nearly finished all your shopping, but if you’re still stuck on what to make for Christmas dessert, hopefully this post will help! I thought I’d get into the festive spirit with a pepperminty round up of Christmassy recipes featuring candy canes!

I had a lot of fun putting this together because it’s such a great chance to see how creative other bloggers can be! From show-stopping cakes to gorgeous homemade gifts and celebratory cocktails, I never realized how versatile those red and white striped candies could be.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Tartelette & Gourmet Traveller

1. One of my favourite bakers, and macaron maker extraordinaire Tartelette baked up some gorgeous Candy Cane Macarons, which I think are totally stunning. Her detailed recipe also makes macarons seem a little less scary!

2. If you’re a more experienced (or adventurous!) macaron maker, you could attempt Adriano Zumbo’s Candy Cane Macarons. Red and white mixture is marbled together and actually piped into candy cane shapes! They’re absolutely beautiful but I think I’ll leave this one to the experts! The caramelized candy cane ganache filling sounds wonderful though.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Cake and Allie & My Recipes

3. Out of all the Candy Cane Cupcake recipes out there, this one from Cake and Allie has to be one of the most beautiful. I love the marbled red and white frosting!

4. This amazing Candy Cane Cake would absolutely steal the show at Christmas lunch! Coated with pulverized candy cane pieces, I think it would also be totally deliciously decadent if you used a fudgy chocolate cake as well.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: My Recipes & Spicy Icecream

5. I think these cute Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies would make delicious little gifts for friends and family this Christmas. But to make them even more awesome, they are sandwiched together with peppermint icing. Yum!

6. This recipe has fond memories for me, baking with my sister. Which is kind of appropriate as she also helped out with today’s recipe, but more on that later! These easy Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies were inspired by a Donna Hay recipe and are the perfect treat to make with the kids, or to leave out as a bribe, I mean, snack for Santa.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Tablespoon & Hungry Girl Por Vida

7. This recipe for Candy Cane Martini Jelly Shots is so creative, not to mention pretty! Perfect little adults-only treat for a Christmas party, and a great concept to experiment with.

8. I have just discovered this gorgeous blog, Hungry Girl Por Vida but I’m totally in love with the gorgeous photos and recipes such as these Candy Cane Truffles. Give them as gifts or stir into warm milk for a decadent peppermint truffle hot chocolate, you can’t go wrong with this great, simple recipe!

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: A Taste of Koko & Raspberri Cupcakes

9. I’ve been obsessed with chocolate “bark” since I made that crazy Sprinkle Bark Cake, and so of course I had to include Peppermint Bark in this roundup! A Taste of Koko has a beautiful version with not one but three layers of chocolate and a generous sprinkling of crushed up candy cane pieces.

10. I love the sound of the Candy Cane Chocolate Syrup (also known amongst us as “awesomesauce”) that my friend Steph made to top this stack of festive red and white pancakes. I can only imagine how awesome this would have tasted!

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Country Living & My Recipes

11. If you’re still looking for a delicious homemade gift, this Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix might fit the bill! Packaged up in a pretty jar, I know I’d certainly love a thoughtful (and delicious) present like this! Or, you could make a batch of this for yourself in case hot chocolate cravings strike. It will last for up to six months in an airtight container.

12. Of course I had to booze it up at some point, and this Candy Cane Martini fits the bill nicely! I think this minty martini would be absolutely perfect for holiday parties.

candy cane spider

13. I’m totally thrilled with how this crazy idea turned out – a Candy Cane Spider! Americans might know these better as an Ice Cream Soda or Float but in Australia, we’ve always known them as “Spiders”, but whatever you call it, it’s a delicious creamy drink made with ice cream and topped up with a carbonated drink like Coca Cola or root beer.

I decided to get creative and try a festive version made with candy cane ice cream, white crème de cacao and lemonade. I used a fantastic and easy “no churn” recipe which was also delicious on its own. After that, just put two scoops of ice cream in a tall glass with the white chocolate liqueur (if you like, if you’re making this for the kids, just leave it out) and top with lemonade! An easy Christmassy drink in seconds! I also just want to wish all my wonderful readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe break! Hope it's filled with lots of good food! xox

candy cane spider

Candy Cane “Spider”

Serves 1

No Churn Candy Cane Icecream (adapted from Vanilla Bean Blog)
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste)
• 2 tablespoons white crème de cacao (optional)
• 2 cups cold heavy cream
• Crushed candy canes (I used 6 regular candy canes)

Candy Cane Spider
• Crushed candy canes, extra, to line rim
• Glucose syrup or honey
• 2 scoops candy cane ice cream
• 15ml white crème de cacao (optional)
• Lemonade (or Sprite) to top up

To make candy cane ice cream, stir together condensed milk, vanilla, peppermint and white crème de cacao in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, beat cream on high until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into condensed milk mixture. Stir in crushed candy canes and pour into a regular size loaf pan. Freeze until firm, for about 6 hours or overnight. Keeps up to one week in the freezer.

To make the spider, rub a small amount of glucose syrup or honey around the rim of a tall glass with your finger. Place crushed candy canes onto a plate and press rim of the glass into the candy. Place 2 scoops of candy cane ice cream into the glass. Pour over crème de cacao and top up with lemonade. Serve immediately.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marmalade and Whisky Glazed Turkey

marmalade & whisky glazed turkey

The other day someone called me a ‘Domestic Goddess’. I was half thrilled and half horrified. While I love baking and like to think I’m a passable hostess, there’s currently a week’s worth of clothes on my floor at the moment (shhh!) and I’d almost rather be subjected to Survivor-like challenges than do the dusting. Nigella and Martha make it look so easy, nay, glamorous, but the thought of cooking Christmas lunch for a crowd sends me into a cold sweat.

I’m sure I’m not alone on this one, cooking a whole turkey seems pretty daunting! Which is why when Ingham and Beyond The Square Communication offered to send me out a selection of fresh cuts of turkey to experiment with, I jumped at the chance to try my first foray into roast turkey, without the added stress!

roasted chats with crispy speck

I used the turkey leg roll to make a lovely little roast, glazed with orange marmalade, mustard and whisky, served with some delicious roasted chat potatoes with crispy speck, which I enjoyed for a lovely long pre-Christmas Sunday lunch with the family.

All the hard work in prepping the turkey has been done for you. The roast is pre-rolled with a delicious breadcrumb and herb stuffing, and putting the glaze together is an absolute breeze. I think even the most un-domesticated could manage Christmas dinner this year! I was thrilled with my little roast, the meat was moist and perfectly cooked and the glaze gave it a beautiful taste. I’ve included the recipe for the glaze below, which was beautiful with turkey but I think would also be lovely with chicken or ham this Christmas!

marmalade & whisky glazed turkey

Marmalade and Whisky Glaze
Makes enough to glaze a small roast

Note: I didn’t write down exact amounts for the ingredients for the glaze, so the measurements below are quite rough, so feel free to add more or less of each to suit your personal taste. This recipe can be scaled up if you are making a larger roast.

• ½ cup orange marmalade
• 1 teaspoon hot English mustard
• 1-2 tablespoons whisky
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine marmalade and mustard in a small saucepan and stir to combine over medium heat. Add whisky, salt, and pepper to taste. Brush onto meat and roast, covered with foil. Roasting time and temperature will depend on type and size of roast you have. Serve with roast vegetables such as chat potatoes with crispy speck.

The turkey used in this recipe was a gift from Beyond The Square Communications and Ingham.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spiced Baked Muscat Custards

spiced muscat creams

Christmas has sort of snuck up on me this year. While the decorations have been out in the shops since October, our summer weather isn't really playing along and it's hard to get into the spirit of an Aussie Christmas when you're still wearing a coat in December! So with just days to go, I thought I'd embrace my favourite part of the season (ahem, get my act together) and bake up something festive. And these little beauties certainly fit the bill.

spiced muscat creams

If you haven't already noticed, baking with booze is one of my favourite things, and I reckon you're given a free pass at Christmas to indulge in brandy, rum or muscat-soaked desserts. These spiced baked custards have a triple hit of booze in the muscat-soaked raisins, the custard itself and also in the caramel on top. It's silky, rich, indulgent and downright delicious.

If you're cooking for a crowd, the custards can be baked in advance and stored in the fridge with the caramel poured on top just before serving. Or, if you like, skip the caramel altogether and serve them with a bruleed sugar crust and berries. I loved digging down to the bottom to scoop up the boozy raisins and have a little bit of all three elements in every bite… with a sip of muscat to wash it down of course!

spiced muscat creams

I also want to mention some lovely free-range eggs that I was given courtesy of McLean’s Run and One Green Bean that I used to make these custards. I grew up with chickens as pets, so we always had the freshest eggs with vibrant yellow yolks, and it makes such a difference in your cooking. The closest thing to collecting eggs from your own backyard is to use quality free-range eggs from Australian owned and run company who truly care about the welfare of their chooks. Thanks again to McLean's Run for sending me two dozen lovely eggs!

The baked muscat custards look adorable served in mismatched ramekins or teacups, but it's quite a rich dessert so I would keep the serving sizes quite small, especially if you're serving them at the end of a big lunch!

It's also time to announce the winners for my Jacobs Creek competition (picked at random). Congratulations to KayB, RozzieC and Phoebe! And thanks to everyone who participated :)

spiced muscat creams

Spiced Baked Muscat Custards
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 6-8

• 100g dried muscatels or raisins
• 175ml muscat
• 600ml pouring cream (35% fat)
• 50ml milk
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 6 egg yolks
• 55g light brown sugar

Muscat Caramel
• 250g caster sugar
• 50ml muscat
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine muscatels (or raisins, if using) and 125ml muscat in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until muscat is absorbed (6-8 minutes). Set aside.

Combine cream, milk, remaining muscat, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium high heat. Remove from the heat, over and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until sugar dissolves. Pour cream mixture over and whisk to combine. Strain into a jug.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Divide muscatel/raisin mixture between 6-8 ramekins or tea cups (depending on the size you are using), pour custard over and place in a tea-towel lined roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the bowls and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Bake until just set (50-55 minutes). Remove from the water bath and stand for 10 minutes. Refrigerate until required.

To make the muscat caramel, combine sugar and 80ml of water in a medium saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until caramel in colour. Remove from the heat, add muscat, vanilla and 80ml water (be careful as mixture will spit), return to the heat and stir until combined. Set aside until cooled. Pour muscat caramel over the baked creams and serve.

Eggs used in this recipe were a gift from McLean's Run and One Green Bean

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Toffee Apple Trifle

toffee apple trifle

This is a dessert that has been on my mind for quite some time, in fact for almost a year it’s been floating around in my brain, and sketched into notebooks. Toffee Apple Trifle, it just has a nice ring, doesn’t it? And it seemed like the perfect sweet ending for my Christmas in July lunch! I like the idea of a trifle, but I’ve eaten so many downright awful ones over the years that I really wanted this to be special.

I’m usually not into desserts that have a lot of components to prepare, but this is an exception and completely worth the effort. But if you’re running short of time, you can definitely use a store-bought sponge cake and some good quality store-bought custard. Don’t be put off by how long the recipe looks, each part comes together quite quickly and the whole trifle can be made in advance so there’s no need to stress once your guests arrive. Here’s a bit of a rundown of each element that went into this dessert:

Apple Cider Jelly – This was the star of the whole dish for me, and the one element that truly made it unique. While only a small amount of cider was used, it was clearly discernible but still subtle when all the layers were tasted together. I used Monteith’s Apple Cider because it’s not too sweet, but feel free to use your favourite. I also like Napoleone & Co and Rekorderlig. It has also inspired me to create some other boozy jellies, but more on that soon.

Brown Sugar Sponge – I’m just going to come right out and say that I’m not very good at sponge cakes. I think I was a little too rough with my folding so the finished sponge was not as light and fluffy as I would have liked, but I loved the brown sugar flavour. Maybe you’ll have more luck than I did.

Salted Caramel Apples – I kind of made up the recipe as I went along, simmering Granny Smith apple pieces with butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until I was happy with the taste and the apples were cooked through.

Vanilla Bean Custard – The perfect creamy accompaniment to round out all of the flavours. I flavoured mine with vanilla bean, but cinnamon or other spices would also be lovely. I topped mine simply, with some Persian fairy floss for a little bit of wow factor, and a lot of fun.

toffee apple trifle

Toffee Apple Trifles
Serves 6
Note: You must begin this recipe 2 days before you wish to serve it

Apple Cider Jelly (adapted from Donna Hay)
Note: this recipe will make a little more than you need, so if there’s any leftover after you’ve filled your serving glasses, refrigerate the rest of the jelly separately for a nice treat

• 1 ½ tablespoons gelatine powder
• 1 ½ cups (375ml) apple juice
• 1 ½ cups (375ml) water
• ¼ cup (60ml) apple cider
• 1 cup (220g) caster sugar

Place the gelatine and ½ cup of the apple juice in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the gelatine is absorbed. Place the remaining juice, water, cider and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add gelatine and stir to combine. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Evenly fill six glasses until 1/5 full and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

Brown Sugar Sponge (adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
• 6 eggs, at room temperature
• 80g brown sugar
• 80g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 150g plain flour, triple sieved
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• 60g butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Whisk eggs, sugars and half the vanilla seeds on high speed in an electric mixer until mixture is tripled in volume and holds a trail (10-12 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl, sift over flour and baking powder in two batches, gently fold to combine, then fold in butter. Divide between two 20x30cm brownie tins lined with baking paper and bake until dark golden and centres spring back gently when pressed (15029 minutes). Cool slightly in tins and then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, cut out circles the same diameter as your glasses and gently drop cake layer on top of jelly layer.

Salted Caramel Apples
• 4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm cubes
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 75g butter, cut into cubes
• ¼ cup cream
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste

Place apples into a medium saucepan with brown sugar and butter and cook, stirring, until butter and sugar are melted and apples are starting to soften. Cover and cook over low heat until apples are tender. Add cream, stir to combine and salt to taste. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature before dividing evenly among glasses. Refrigerate until required.

Vanilla Bean Custard (adapted from Donna Hay)
• 2 ¼ cups (560ml) pouring (single) cream
• ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
• 6 egg yolks
• 1/3 (75g) cup caster sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornflour

To make the vanilla custard, place cream and vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Cover and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.

Place the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture over the eggs and whisk to combine. Return mixture to the saucepan and stir over low heat for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the vanilla bean and allow custard to cool completely. Divide evenly between glasses and refrigerate overnight.

To serve
• Pashmak, Persian fairy floss (optional)

To serve, place a little bit of Pashmak fairy floss on top of each trifle and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mulled Wine Cherry Sauce

mulled wine cherry sauce

There’s something that looks so magical about a proper White Christmas, complete with traditional roast dinner. But on Christmas Day down under, we’re much more likely to reach for the prawns and beer than the roast pork and mulled wine. That’s why I love Christmas in July – we get to have the best of both worlds!

christmas in july lunch

Over the weekend, I hosted a Christmas in July lunch for some of my best friends. I just love dinner parties. I love planning menus, doing the shopping, setting the table, and finally sitting down with friends and family to enjoy a special meal. There was a delicious roast pork shoulder with crackling, crispy roast potatoes, pear and fennel salad, and a blow-your-mind-awesome cherry and mulled wine sauce, which is what I want to talk about today.

We’ve had some lovely, cheap cherries around of late, and while I know they’re imported and have travelled thousands of miles to get here, they’re one of my favourite fruits. This sauce is absolutely genius. Red wine is simmered with cinnamon quills, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves until it’s syrupy and delicious, then some red wine vinegar and sugar are added to balance the sweetness and acidity, and finally the pitted cherries go in to simmer until they’re tender. It’s delicious.

christmas in july lunch

The roast pork was a perfect match, but this would also be lovely with ham, turkey, duck, or even with a charcuterie platter. If you omit the vinegar, I think this would also work as a sweet syrup which would be delicious with puddings or spooned on top of ice cream. I think this sauce will be a regular addition to my Christmas table from now on, whether it’s July or December!

mulled wine cherry sauce

Mulled Wine Cherry Sauce
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 20

Note: The recipe below serves 20, but is quite easily scaled down (I quartered it). However it’s so damn good that I think it’s worth making the whole batch, as it will keep in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 1 month.

• 750ml red wine
• 4 bay leaves
• 4 cinnamon quills
• 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
• 4 cloves
• ½ vanilla bean
• ¾ cup red wine vinegar
• 200g caster sugar
• 1kg pitted cherries

Combine red wine, bay leaves, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and vanilla bean in a wide saucepan and simmer over medium heat until fragrant and infused (8-10 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar, season to taste with sea salt, and stir until sugar dissolves.

Add cherries, bring to a simmer and cook until just tender. Transfer cherries and liquid (including herbs and spices) to sterilised jars, seal and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread House

daring bakers gingerbread house

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was possibly the most memorable of all the challenges I’ve done since joining in August last year. I was slightly terrified that we would be given something like the six-part, twelve-page Buche De Noel from last December’s, but I was pretty excited to find that we would be making Gingerbread Houses, just in time for Christmas. It is something I have always wanted to do, but my engineering and construction skills leave much to be desired. They always seemed far too difficult and time consuming. And while they were both of those things, I learned that patience and planning pay off and this was a fantastic and totally rewarding challenge.

daring bakers gingerbread house

I ended up making two houses, because originally I was planning a traditional looking snow-covered house, and an Australian themed outback house, but I was discouraged when I couldn’t find a kangaroo shaped cookie cutter. But I still kept the front verandah, as I'd planned. I decorated the first house with the help of my Dad (it’s definitely a two-person project). For the second house, I helped my Mum with putting it together, but she got creative with the lolly jar and decorated it mostly by herself, complete with garden balcony and stained-glass window. It was nice to get everyone involved, and these would be especially fun to make with young kids.

daring bakers gingerbread house

I used Anna’s recipe for gingerbread, which was a little dry at first but I added a little more water and rested it for quite a long time so I didn’t have many problems with pieces shrinking. It was delicious, and a great base to work from. My sister and I made our own templates, although the second one was based on this one from BBC Good Food. The Royal Icing recipe called for too much icing sugar, in my opinion so I added it slowly until I felt it was the right consistency – a little under 2 cups of icing sugar, not the 3 cups the recipe stated. I’m not going to post the recipes here, but you can find them on the Daring Kitchen site.

daring bakers gingerbread house

I used various sweets for decoration – different flavoured candy canes, sugared jubes, M&M’s, and TeeVee Snacks to create a log cabin look. The chimney on the first house was a Milky Way chocolate bar, and the doors on the second were Tim Tam biscuits. I have to admit though, demolishing the house was a little hard to do. I was pretty proud of my first gingerbread house attempts and I didn’t want to eat them. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it!

daring bakers gingerbread house

There were some absolutely incredible gingerbread houses made by other Daring Bakers this month, it’s amazing what you can do with a few simple ingredients and some imagination! The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.


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