Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black Forest Muffins

The Cookbook Challenge: Muffins

Who knew muffins had this much oil in them? I've never been a huge muffin fan, but will certainly be wary of their oily goodness in future! Very keen to see if anyone has some low fat muffins that still work.
Enough with complaining- on to the muffins- that actually tasted really good and were lovely and light and fluffy. I made these for my bookclub girls and at the end, they were all gone- surely a good sign!

My recipe was based on the rhubarb muffins recipe in Stephanie Alexander's book "The Cook's Companion" which is an absolute stalwart at our house. I don't think I've ever made a dud out of it.
I just substituted the 2/3 cup of rhubarb for plums- as I bought some beautiful plums at a plum farm up near Alexandria last weekend (if you're driving up there, stop in - beautiful plums and other organic produce). Then I added in some grated dark chocolate to give it a little Black Forest feel.
This recipe is also incredibly simple- you could whip it up in a jiffy for unexpected guests!
It worked well- the basic recipe is nice and light and you could substitute in any fruit you have on hand.
220g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup of chopped plums (or rhubarb)
2 tbs chopped dark chocolate (optional
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease 12 muffin tins with oil.
Sift flour and baking powder and stir in sugar.
Mix milk, egg and oil together.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and beat in the liquid.
Mix in the plums and chocolate.
Spoon into muffin tins until 2/3 full and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
If you like this, you might also want to try my plum and ricotta crumble cakes

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cookbook Challenge - Love

For this weeks challenge, everything revolved around Rusty. My first dish was a Black Sticky Rice Pudding, cause he loves it. My second was a Black Forest cake because, well I love him and its favourite cake.

Both dishes were delicious and we ate the whole cake with the help of only one other person. The Black Sticky Rice keeps well in the fridge and we had it for desert a few nights running.

Sticky Rice is from my new Food Safari book- which is brilliant- I've already made a few things out of it. What I quite like about this book is that it seems to often be a bit loose with times and quantities- so it leaves a bit to the imagination. The recipe is wonderfully simple, though grating fresh coconut is a bit of a messy business and involved a whole new kitchen arsenal of a hammer and a screwdriver.

The Black Forest Cake recipe is from Gordon Ramsays Cooking for Friends which I borrowed from a friend. Although this is a rather complicated recipe, it is one of the simplest for Black Forest Cake that I've seen. The only thing I would change about the recipe would be to use normal fresh whipped cream instead of double cream to make it a little bit lighter and fluffier. My other recommendation would be to sprinkle the cherry juice generously to make this moist as!

Black Forest Cake

For the chocolate sponge:
125g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
5 large eggs, separated
200g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp cooled espresso or strong coffee
100g dark chocolate (minimum 65% cocoa solids), melted in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water
For the filling and topping:
500g ripe cherries
60g caster sugar
75ml kirsch or cherry brandy
550ml double cream
1-2 tbsp icing sugar, to taste
4-5 tbsp good-quality cherry compote
Grated chocolate, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 150ÂșC

Butter, line and butter again the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together and set aside.
In a large grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks using an electric beater. Beat the butter and sugar in another mixing bowl until pale and light.

Beat in the yolks one at a time, then fold the espresso through, followed by the melted chocolate.
In several batches, fold the sifted flour mixture and the beaten egg whites alternately into the butter mixture. Spread the combined batter over the base of the prepared tin and level with a spatula.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment.
Remove the stems and pit three-quarters of the cherries, leaving the stems on the remaining cherries to garnish. Put all the cherries, the sugar and kirsch in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cherries are just soft, giving them an occasional stir. Tip the cherries and kirsch syrup into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, whisk the cream and icing sugar into soft peaks.
Using a long, sharp knife, halve the cake horizontally. Drizzle each half with the kirsch syrup from the cherries to moisten. Place the bottom half on a cake stand and spread over half the whipped cream. Arrange the stemmed and pitted cherries over the cream, then spoon over a layer of cherry compote. Top with the upper half of the cake. Spread the remaining cream on top.

Sprinkle over a little grated chocolate, then garnish with the whole stemmed cherries.

Sticky Rice
Ingredients2 cups black sticky rice (soaked overnight)

5 cups water (this was probably a little too much water, next time I'll try with 3 or 4 cups)

2 cups sugar

Sweet Coconut Cream

1 cup coconut cream

2 tsp rice flour

½ tsp salt
Pinch of sugar

Caramelised Coconut

2 cups grated coconut

1 cup brown sugar


Wash the black sticky rice. Combine in a saucepan with water. Place over medium heat and boil until the rice is cooked through and split. Add the sugar, continue boiling until sugar dissolves.

Sweet Coconut Cream: Mix the coconut cream, rice flour, salt and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat until boiling. Remove from heat.

Caramelised Coconut: Mix the grated coconut and brown sugar in a saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat.

To serve: spoon the black sticky rice into the serving bowl and top with some sweet coconut cream and caramelised coconut.

Cookbook chellenge - Egg

Cookbook Challenge: Egg
From tapas to Meze is one of my favourite cookbooks- I've had it for ages, and it was very handy back in my vegetarian days, as it has quite a few good vego recipes that are quick and easy. Covering the mediterranean from Europe to the middle east, it also has fantastic variety.
Avgolemono is a recipe I've been meaning to make for a while. Avgo means egg, and lemon lemon in Greek- and this combination with a chicken stock and some light veal meatballs struck me as a nice combination for a summer meal.
This made a fantastic weekday meal as well as I made the chicken stock(a couple of chicken carcasses from the Vic markets, an onion, a carrot, some celery and water) and the meatballs on the weekend - they kept well in the fridge and were simple to make up on a weeknight.
Now the trick to this soup apparently is not to have the eggs curdle. This was not the case with my soup and the eggs curdled- oh well- it was still a lovely weekday meal and I would definitely make it again.
1/2 pound ground veal
1 clove garlic minced
1/3 cup grated yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dry whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
9 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup long-grain white rice
2 eggs
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Chopped fresh mint
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
In bowl, mix veal, garlic, onion, lemon zest, mint, parsley and egg yolk.
Add bread crumbs and milk, and season with salt and pepper.
Mix well. Form into 3/4-inch meatballs. Place on an oiled baking sheet.
Bake 10 minutes.
Bring stock to boil in soup pot.
Reduce heat to medium-low; add rice, salt and pepper.
Simmer slowly 10 minutes.
Add meatballs and continue to simmer until rice is cooked, 10 minutes.
Beat eggs and juice of 1 lemon in bowl until light and frothy.
Add 1 small ladle boiling broth to egg mixture and beat vigorously.
Continue to add broth a ladle at a time, beating after each addition, until you have added 5 or 6 ladlefuls.
Pour mixture back into soup pot.
Taste and add additional lemon juice, salt and pepper, if needed.
Garnish with parsley and mint and serve immediately.
Do not reheat this soup to boiling point or it will curdle.
Servings: 6

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dumpling Love

I love Gingerboy.
I love dumplings.

These two things are coming together in a dumpling cooking class at Gingerboy with the Age Young Chef of the Year 2009 - Chris Donnellan.

Apparently Chris "will be sharing his secrets and techniques into dumpling making. There are two classes being held on Saturday June 12th, 2010. First class: 8.30am - 10.30amSecond class: 11.15am - 1.15pmCost: $125.00 per person"
I understand the 11.15 class is sold out.
Apparently the class will run for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then you will be able to sit down and eat the dumplings you have just made with a glass of champagne.
They will be making 3 different types of dumplings for the class
prawn and ginger dumplings
pork, garlic chive and chilli dumplings
steamed apple and vanilla dumplings with sweetened coconut cream

Please email for more information or bookings

Its a long way off, but should be awesome!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Mixed

With the heat on the weekend, the only mixed up for consideration was a mixed drink! As suggested in my last entry, I am also going to raid some old Gourmet Travellers for recipes in the challenge- and I had one all lined up from the January Issue: Raspberry and Lemon Iced Tea.

This recipe was easy to make and absolutely delicious- 100% endorsed by my bookclub girls who sat out the 38 degree afternoon on Sunday with the help of this little refresher. I didn't take a pic of the finished product unfortunately, but it was perfectly colour matched to the rose we were drinking- absolutely beautiful.

300 gm white sugar
200 gm frozen raspberries
2 tsp loose leaf black tea (I used orange pekoe- perfect light flavour for an iced tea!)
4 lemons, juice only
To serve:
ice, mint leaves, lemon slices and soda water

Combine sugar and raspberries in a heatproof bowl, stir to combine, and cover with foil. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and cook until syrupy (2 hours). Strain through a fine sieve into a large jug (discard solids) and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine tea and 1 litre boiling water in a separate heatproof jug and cool. Strain through a fine sieve into raspberry mixture, add lemon juice and refrigerate in bottles until chilled.
To serve, fill glasses with ice, add lemon and raspberry tea to taste, top up with soda water, add mint and lemon slices and serve.
So easy! And so yummy!