Comments (16) | Sunday, August 31, 2008
his month I took part in my first Daring Bakers challenge.
What a challenge it was! Although I was rather excited by the prospect of making chocolate eclairs, once I printed out and read the 5 or 6 pages of instructions my enthusiasm slowly slipped away.
I set aside a whole day to complete these as I wasn't sure how long and how fiddly it was going to be. I ended up with quite a lot of eclairs, so I passed some onto my neighbors and my eclair eating friend Alana. Then I wished I hadn't given so many away because I wanted to eat them all! Luckily I did share them though since they aren't really the healthiest thing.
Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Cream Puff Dough
(see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.
2. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3. Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.
1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1. Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2. The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3. Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
2. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3. Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined bakingsheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2. Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4. Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2. Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water • ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1. Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2. It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
You can check out other member's results at http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/
I wonder what next month's challenge will be! Wish me luck!!
Comments (2) | Monday, August 25, 2008
So after the Taste Festival we went out with one of Iron Chef Rob's friends to the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy. Rob fell in love with this beer on a recent trip to Perth, and nearly wet himself when I told him about this place in Melbourne.
We tried to call up and book throughout the week but the phone rang out, so we figured we would be ok to go in and get a table. Little did we know we actually had to be on a waiting list for a seat.
This was ok, so we headed off to the bar, boys getting their beers and I was on the Pipsqueak Cider. So after waiting for 1 hour and 15 minutes we finally go a table. The matradee was excellent though, kept coming back and updating us on the status of people who were about to leave the restaurant, even brought us some olives to nibble on. It wasn't his fault, there was a big birthday table taking up lots of valuable bum real estate!
So after we had been staring at the menu on the wall for all that time we had no problems knowing what we wanted to eat. I ordered these Kangaroo skewers, and they were very juicy and tender. The relish was a lovely accompaniment. Rob's friend ordered the chicken and leek pie, which was of generous size served with mash potato, peas and gravy.
Warm cinnamon doughnuts served with cream and ice-cream
Bread and butter pudding, served with cream and ice-cream.
The boys really enjoyed the bread and butter pudding, I don't fully understand bread and butter pudding; why would I want to eat toast for dessert?
Service here is great, the kitchen is always busy. Just be aware you might have to wait some time for a table if going on a popular night.
Comments (2) |
If you asked me what I did on the weekend, the only answer I'd have for you is that I ate, then I ate, then ate some more! And what's more, I could boast that I ate at some of Melbourne's top restaurants for lunch with a few hundred of my newest friends.
This was my first year attending the annual Taste Festival.The festival is held both here in Melbourne and also in Sydney once a year. This gives the top restaurants in each city a chance to exhibit their signature dishes, as well as smaller concession stands a great environment to promote their produce.
I had an absolute blast at this event, and I will be making it an annual event that I MUST attend! I was so glad I didn't eat any breakfast before we went because I was so full at the end of it. The vibe in the Royal Exhibition Building was invigorating!
So many people passionate about food and wine, and free samples every where you looked! Everyone wanting you to try their specialty.
There were multiple classes including wine and beer tasting, to cooking demonstrations. You could even meet the famous chefs behind the restaurants. All the staff seemed to be buzzing, there was not a frown in sight!
Iron Chef Rob and I had Emirates V.I.P tickets. This meant we got extra "Crowns" and access to the Emirates V.I.P lounge which included 3 free drinks.
"Crowns" were the official currency of the event. Essentially, 1 Crown = $1.
Dishes ranged from 8 Crowns to around 16 Crowns.
The Emirates V.I.P Lounge
The Press Club
George Calombaris @ The Press Club
The souvlaki was amazing, just like most things we ate. The bread was light, fluffy, warm and handmade to hold the contents of the souvlaki. The lamb just melted in your mouth, with the mustard, onions, chips and whatever other secret ingredient just tying everything together so nicely. We could have stopped there and eaten these all day long!
Whilst we went around and tasted a few other things we came back to try the dessert. How on earth can anyone resist trying Turkish delight filled doughnuts? It was yet another taste sensation by George, whom some of you might recognize from the TV show "Ready, Steady, Cook!" Nice and crisp on the outside, doughy and warm on the inside, along with a lovely pannacotta, I will be making sure I visit The Press Club at least once in my life!
Who can resist Wagyu beef at such a cheap price? Who?... not me that's who!
This is the stand most of the Asian community headed to first. I don't blame them. Cheap seafood from Robert Di Nero's famous restaurant, Nobu.
The James Squire Beer Masterclass
We broke the day up with a beer tasting class. Mind you this started at 11:45am, a little early to be on the grog, but with champagne flowing freely, no one was judging anyone!
Our teacher was Chuck Hahn. He has been brewing beer for quite some time, if he doesn't know the answer, I don't think anyone would. We learnt how to properly pour different beers, and how a little bit of soap in the glass could affect the quality of the head on a beer. The we got stuck into it, 6 bottles of beer to share between 4 people.
- Golden Ale
- Amber Ale
- I.P.A (Indian Pale Ale)
We got to try cow cheek marinated in beer with mash potato from The Courthouse restaurant; Carbonade of beef with pomme puree, parsley and caper salad, which was truly delicious. accompanied by a beer, for which the life of me I can't remember which one it was!
We also got free Lindt chocolate to try with the Porter, which was really complimented eachother. This beer had coffee notes to it's smell. I know I'm starting to sound like a pretentious wine connoisseur but we learnt out to properly smell and taste our beers.
Fifteen & Circa, the Prince
We are all familiar with Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant. There was a TV show about it, critics were raving, you had to book months in advance to get a table. I definitely wanted to try, but the price always put me off. Sadly, the food was our least favorite of the day.
Pork sausage with chilli and garlic on caponata di melanzane (a Sicilian eggplant relish) & Fifteen's Olive Oil Chocolate mousse with candied pistachios and grappa marinated strawberries
Slow cooked Sher Wagyu, braised meat pie, truffled coleslaw, licorice spiced pumpkin
The pork sausage with relish was yum but didn't really stand out like the souvlaki or burger we had earlier in the day. It was all just a bit average I'm afraid.
The Wagyu meat pie from Circa, The Prince was impressive though. And the coleslaw and spiced pumpkin, incredible! I could not stop drooling over this dish. I had never heard of this restaurant before but I would love to go there one day to try some more.
Those of you who know me well will guess that this was my favorite stand, Lindt chocolate.
I was talking to the chocolate barista and he said Melbourne will be getting one early next year, so far there is only a Lindt cafe in Sydney. I'm so excited! The hot chocolates from here are to die for, made with Lindt chocolate of course! We bought some chocolate flakes to take home to brew up a cup ourselves. Luckily we saved the best stand till last!
This was the only thing I spent money on, mini cupcakes! Although they looked very familar, Decadence cafe in South Yarra are currently stocking them. So I asked the girl if they supplied to this cafe and she said yes! Although they might not be for too much longer as the owner has just changed hands. Seriously, if you can get your hands on these babies you will not be sorry. I would HIGHLY recommend the "Lemon Meringue" cupcake.
So to conclude; We had an amazing time. Lots of fun, new flavours and laughs. I found a bean dip called "Fart Alot", and there was a chutney/sauce company with the quirky name of "Spice Girlz".
Definitely put this in your calender if your a foodie fantantic!
Comments (0) | Thursday, August 21, 2008
I finally made it back into the kitchen for mid-week cooking this week. I chose something quick and easy so I didn't have to spend endless hours slaving away in the kitchen, like I did on the weekend with this month's Daring Baker's challenge.
I saw this recipe in the Delicious 5 Nights a Week book, but also came across it on the Taste website when I was looking for inspiration.
The wellingtons looked rather professional, smelt amazing but some what lacked a little in flavor. I ended up adding some tomato sauce, whilst my mum added some tartar sauce. However my dad and Iron Chef Rob preferred them without any extra sauce.
I would say if you are serving at a dinner party, make smaller versions as these were quite huge. Chips would be a nice side dish for a classy fish and chip dish.
Delicious - 5 Nights A Week
4 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tbs basil pesto
4 x 100g skinless salmon fillets
4 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice, plus extra wedges to serve
1 egg, beaten
1 tbs sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Halve each sheet of pastry. Spread 2 teaspoons of pesto in the centre of 4 sheets, leaving a 3-4cm pastry border. Place a salmon fillet on each and season with salt and pepper. Lay overlapping slices of tomato on top of each salmon fillet. Drizzle with lemon juice and brush the pastry border with some beaten egg.
3. Cut 4-5 long slits in the centre of the remaining 4 pastry pieces. Lay each piece of pastry over a salmon fillet, pulling slightly to separate strips, then press down the edges and trim, making each parcel into a neat rectangle. Brush the pastries all over with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
4. Using a fish slice, carefully lift the parcels onto the prepared baking tray, bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish is just cooked through and pastry is puffed and golden. Serve with lemon wedges and a green salad, if desired.
Comments (2) | Monday, August 18, 2008
My friends and I have started a little tradition this year called "International Cuisine Night". We choose a cuisine other than your traditional Italian, Thai, Indian, etc and sample the delicacies.
This time around we went for tapas.
We originally wanted to try the award winning MoVida, but we settled on the idea of Mecca Bah in Melbourne's Docklands.
Unfortunately they don't take bookings, so we got there fairly early and found there was still a few seats available for us to dine.
The restaurant has a gorgeous atmosphere, with plently of tea light candles and lovely Moroccan inspired crockery. As the restaurant is sitted ontop of the water and shaped a bit like the front of a boat, you get the impression you are on a fairly large cruise ship, without the sea-sickness! (A real bonus for people like me).
Large boats with their fairy lights pass the restaurant, giving this place a very romantic feel.
We started off with some breads and dip, as well as these sweet potato felafels with tahini sauce. Both were very nice, excuse the not so good photography, it was rather dark in the restaurant!
Next up we decided to share a Turkish pizza: roast pumpkin, chilli, pomegranate jam & feta. This was really delicious, the pomegrante jam was blobbed over the pizza and gave it a really nice sweet taste, whilst the chilli added a nice kick to the taste buds.
We also decided to share a tagine as the table next to us had one and it looked so yum! We got the chicken with tomatoes, almond, sesame seeds & honey tagine with cous cous. I have never had cous cous cooked so nicely! (I had a bad experience on a school camp. You seriously could have built a house with our cous cous).
The chicken practically melted off the bone. Probably an excess of corriander in this dish for me, and some random nuts included which we are still un-decided if we like or not.
Service was pretty good, trying to do a few upsells when ordering but we had a lovely experience at Mecca Bah and will be back for more!
Full Menu Available at: http://www.meccabah.com/melb/index.html
Mecca Bah is also in Brisbane and Canberra.
After some cocktails in Fitzroy we ended up at Brunetti's yet again! I've been there way too many times lately, haven't taken photos of everything I've eaten but this mint chocolate mousse deserves it's own special mention.
Comments (0) | Friday, August 15, 2008
As mentioned in my previous post, we had dinner before the Pete Murray concert. We decided on a place I celebrated my birthday at earlier this year; Spiga.
Located in Melbourne Central Shopping Centre amongst other cafes, Spiga is a little escape away from the hustle as bustle that surrounds the Melbourne CBD.
An extensive list of wines, and seasonal menu, teamed with attentive staff, make Spiga an easy dining experience.
We were all in the mood for pizza, so we chose 3 different pizzas to share.
All were delicious on a nice thin, crispy base. I especially enjoyed the provolone cheese on the prosciutto pizza. The tomato sauce, bocconcini cheese and prawns were a great combination, I could have eaten the whole pizza.
Full menu available at: www.spiga.com.au/menu.php
And for those interested, the Pete Murray concert was awesome, we were standing very close to the front of the stage.
Comments (0) |
Firstly, let me apologise for no mid-week cooking this week, my week was turned a little upside down. But it will be back next week! Sorry to disappoint my regular readers.
Thursday night Iron Chef Alana, Rob and Adrian went to see Pete Murray in concert. Before meeting Alana and Adrian for dinner Rob and I decided to get some afternoon tea as we had 2 hours to kill. Rob's suggestion of Max Brenner was the best idea since sliced bread!!
I got the "Hot Chocolate with Crunchy Magic Waffle Balls", not only because I like to say it but cos I love those crunchy magic waffle balls!
Rob and I shared a Cinnamon Chocolate Babka. I have always wanted to try a Babka since I heard about them when watching Seinfeld, (my next thing to try from Seinfeld is a marble rye).
It was soooooooo delicious! It was nice and warm and when I cut it in half it was full of chocolate, never a bad thing! The little pot of melted chocolate that came with it really wasn't necessary, however we didn't let it go to waste.
Everything is amazing at Max Brenner! The drinks, the food, even the service. Take your favorite choco-holic friends here! Chocolate pizzas and fondues are great to share.
Comments (1) | Sunday, August 10, 2008
Is it bad that in August I still have an chocolate easter bunny looking at me, mocking me with it's thoughts..."eat me.... eat me!!!".... ok maybe I'm starting to sound like a psycho patient!
So anyway, I showed him who's boss!
So I had to find a recipe that I hadn't made before using milk chocolate. It proved a bit of a challenge as most recipes want you to use dark chocolate, including this one from the blog Butter, Flour, Sugar.
So I thought milk chocolate would be fine instead of dark chocolate, and it was. No more easter chocolate until next year!! woot!
Oaty Chocolate Cookies
(adapted from a recipe found in ‘Bills Food’ by Bill Granger)
From Butter, Flour Sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
230g brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g rolled oats
180g dark chocolate, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and brown sugar with a hand-held beater until light and fluffy
3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
4. Fold in the flour, oats and chocolate. Roll tablespoonful sized balls and place them on your lined tray/s. Flatten them slightly with your fingers.
5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until they become pale golden brown.
Comments (2) | Thursday, August 7, 2008
This week for mid week cooking, Donna Hay came off the book shelf again. I tried her recipe for chicken and bacon pies. What caught my eye was the homemade potato crisps that replace the traditional pastry top.
The only problem I encountered was that I could have used a bit more chicken. Unlike last week's mid week cooking where there was an excess of chicken, this week we could have done with some of the leftovers.
Gorgeously rich in flavour, these pies are perfect for a cold winter night. I probably could have left the potatoes to crisp up a little more, but I could not wait! They smelt so good!
Chicken & Bacon Pies
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 rashers bacon, chopped
2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) white wine
1 cup (250ml) pouring cream
sea salt and cracked black pepper
350g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
melted butter, for brushing
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F).
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until brown.
3. Add the white wine, cream, salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes or until thickened slightly.
4. Spoon the mixture into 4 x 1¼ cup capacity (310ml) ovenproof dishes and top with the potato slices. Brush with melted butter, place the pies on a baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crispy.
Comments (2) | Monday, August 4, 2008
After reading many food blogs and wondering why on earth they were all making the recipe, I actually did some investigating to find out they all belong to a group called "The Daring Bakers".
Each month a challenge is set, and everyone gets into their kitchens to whip up their creations. We post at the end of the month, until then everything is top secret!
We all bake the recipe, those with an intolerance to some things (e.g./ lactose, gluten) can modify the recipe to suit their conditions.
To find out more information, or to become a daring baker go to: www.daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com
Until then, check back on August 31st to see what top secret recipe was this month's challenge! Hope my efforts turn out ok!!
Comments (2) | Sunday, August 3, 2008
Now I don't normally buy packet mix cake anymore since I started it was time I learnt how to cook. These were originally going to be for Iron Chef Alana's birthday but I didn't have time to make them on the day of her party and it would have been too must hassle to transport them in and out of the restaurant.
This is the "Greens" mix. And I don't want to sound full of myself, but the ones I make from scratch taste heaps better! This one had the packet mix flavour. But still, it was nice and easy to make!
Since it was also my cousin's birthday this week, I still whipped these cupcakes up and when they came over for afternoon tea we all hogged into these.
Comments (2) |
Nothing says "Happy Birthday" more than a birthday "dong"!
Iron Chef Alana celebrated her birthday this weekend at her favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Tran Tran in Melbourne's Richmond.
Whilst everyone was enjoying dinner we saw one of these banana fritters being brought out, complete with sparklers and the Happy Birthday song playing in the background and we all agreed the birthday girl needed one of these!
There are some fairly amusing shots with this "delight" but I am choosing not to post any incriminating shots on here! Sorry folks!
Hope you had an awesome birthday Iron Chef Alana =)
Permission must be granted before using any images or text from this website.
Feel free to contact me:
ironchefshellie [at] gmail [dot] com