Tuesday
Apr292014

rhubarb and kiwifruit crepe cake with rum spiked whipped marscapone

Just ask my dentist and he'll verify that I'm a sucker for desserts.  So to someone like me, the idea of a crepe cake sounds like the perfect excuse to eat dessert for breakfast.  I'm not quite sure how to justify the rum spiked marscapone before 10am so let's just keep that our little secret ;-)

This recipe will make double the amount of rhubarb and kiwifruit compote.  The excess can be stored in a steralised jar (ie. a jar which you have run through a piping-hot dishwasher to get rid of any nasties) for up to a week.  It would also be tasty on crumpets.  

rhubarb and kiwifruit crepe cake with rum spiked whipped marscapone 
Serves 4-6

1 bunch rhubarb, leaves discarded, stalks cut into 2cm long pieces
6 kiwi fruits, peeled, cut into chunks
200g raw caster sugar
1/2 cup chilled thickened cream
1/2 cup chilled marscapone 
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tbsp dark rum 

CREPES
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk

To make compote, combine rhubarb, kiwifruit and sugar in a large saucepan and stir to combine.  Allow to sit for 30 mins until liquid is drawn from the fruit and sugar has dissolved.  Place saucepan over low heat, cover, and allow to gently cook for 30 mins, stirring regularly.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool completely.

To make crepes, place flour, eggs and milk into your blender.  Blitz on high until well combined and frothy.  Allow to sit for 20 mins, this will let the batter thicken and for air bubbles to settle.

Heat a small, non-stick frypan (I used 20cm) over high heat.  Drop heat down to low, then pour a small amount of the crepe batter (enough to just cover the base of your frypan) into the pan.  Swirl to coat.  These won't take long at all to cook - when you start to see bubbles form on the surface, flip the crepe and cook the other side just for a few seconds, then transfer the crepe to a plate to cool.  Repeat with remaining batter until you have 24 crepes.

To make the whipped marscapone, add cream, marscapone and sugar in a plastic bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy but firm peaks form.  Add the rum then beat just a tiny bit more until combined.  Refrigerate until required.

To assemble the cake, spread 1/2 tbsp compete onto half of the crepe.  Fold the unspread half over the top of the spread half, then fold again so that it resembles a 1/4 circle.  Repeat with remaining crepes, placing the quarters together to form a full circle, then when making the next level, offsetting the crepes so that the quarters are not stacked directly on top of the quarters below.  

Top the cake with a large dollop of compote and then the whipped marscapone.  Cut into 4-6 wedges to serve.

Monday
Apr282014

olive and almond crusted rack of lamb with fior di latte baked vine tomatoes

You know Melbourne winter is coming when you take a rack of lamb out to defrost at 8am, come home at 6pm and it's still frozen inside. That's right, our house is Siberia.

Even our dachshund, Edweiner, was begging for her winter wardrobe to come out before she would brave the cold to chow down her breakfast. Dressed in an uber stylish, maroon turtle-neck sweater, she trotted back into the house, lept up onto the couch (naughty!) and shivered on my lap as I sipped on my second cup of coffee (just for warmth, not for the usual reasons I'd have a second cup - to stay awake and make people tolerable).

This simple dinner is SO quick and easy but packed with flavours. The briny punch from the olives is mellowed out by the creaminess of the almonds and the baked fior di latte-stuffed vine tomatoes are a winter-weather take on Caprese salad.

olive and almond crusted rack of lamb with fior di latte baked vine tomatoes
Serves 4

2 racks of lamb, frenched (about 600g each)
350g jar of pitted green olives, drained, rinsed and patted dry (paper towel does the trick nicely)
100g roasted almonds
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of firmly-packed basil leaves
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
4 large vine tomatoes
1 large ball fior di latte
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200ºC.

To make the crust, combine olives, almonds, garlic and basil in a mini food processor and blitz well until a course crumb forms. Season with salt and pepper (taste as you go - you won't need much salt and the olives are quite salty already).

Press 1/2 of the crust firmly onto the surface of a lamb rack. Repeat with remaining crust and lamb rack.

To prepare tomatoes, place tomatoes on a chopping board (stem side down) and make 3 deep slits in each. Slice the fior di latte into 12 slices and stuff a slice into each tomato slit. Wrap the bottom half of the tomato in foil (this holds it together during baking), then drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake lamb and tomatoes together for 25-30 mins (check meat by inserting a meat thermometer into the centre of the loin - when the temperature reaches 60ºC it will be a perfect medium-rare). Turn off oven, leaving tomatoes inside to stay warm. Remove lamb from oven and rest on a plate for 5 mins before cutting each rack in half and serving with baked tomatoes.

Saturday
Apr262014

boozy chicken

There's been a 6 pack of beer hiding out in the back of our fridge for the past 6 months. It has managed to maintain a relatively low profile, which isn't too hard given that THBBF and I aren't big drinkers. Well, he isn't, and I'd prefer vodka anyway.

Did you guys ever read Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine as a kid? To this day I can vividly recall our school teacher telling us this story in class. I was inspired. I rushed home from school, threw my school bag down and cupboards started flying open left, right and centre. I was going to make my own marvellous medicine! A squirt of this (toothpaste) and a splash of that (cleaning products), it all went into a Chinese container which accompanied me to school the next day. I only got to show a few of my friends before it was promptly confiscated and my Mum called.

As an adult I still have the same crazy fantasy - except these days I re-enact it in the kitchen... with edible ingredients. This magical marinade, with a squirt of tomato sauce and a splash of lager, is spicy and sweet while the beer locks in all the chicken's moistness when grilling. I am not sure if it would appease a crotchety old granny but I still think George Kranky would be proud.

boozy chicken
Serves 6

6 chicken drumsticks
1 cup Coopers Pale Ale beer
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cinnamon quill, broken up into rough pieces
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp chilli sauce (I used Trailermade's - if you're a Melbournite do check it out, it's hella good)
Cooked wholegrain brown rice tossed with olive oil, lemon zest and chiffonade basil, to serve

Combine beer, tomato and chilli sauce and cinnamon in a wide, plastic/glass container (with a lid). Season with salt and pepper then place chicken drumsticks in a single layer and allow to marinate, turning chicken half way, for 8-10 hours.

Heat a chargrill pan to medium-high heat. Cook chicken, turning every 5 mins, until cooked through (internal temperature 72º or when you poke the thickest part with a skewer the juices run clear. If they are pink you will need to cook a bit longer). Cooking time should take around 25-30 mins depending on the size of your drumsticks and the heat of your pan. Once cooked, remove from the pan and cover lightly with foil, allowing to rest for 5 mins before serving with the brown rice.

Friday
Apr252014

oreos and milk brownies

First you twist it, then you lick it, then you dunk it...

oreos and milk brownies
Makes 12

1 pack of Oreos (100g for brownie batter, 50g for sprinkling on top and a couple of extra biscuits for your eating pleasure)
60g Milky Bar, cut into small chunks
12 Fujiya Milky lollies (from Asian supermarkets)
40g cacao powder
1/2 cup boiling water
60g dark choc (70% or higher)
100g unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, plus two yolks
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tonka bean, finely grated
250g plain flour
450g caster sugar
Sea salt flakes

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 150ºC.

In a large bowl add boiled water to cocoa powder, stirring well to combine.  Add dark chocolate and stir until melted, then add butter and oil and mix well.  Add eggs and extra yolks and grated tonka bean and stir really well until all the ingredients come together, then add flour and salt and continue to stir well until combined.  Fold through the 100g of Oreos, Milky Bar and Milky lollies, then pour into a lined and greased 20x30cm baking tray.  Sprinkle with the extra Oreos and a little extra sea salt flakes.

Bake for 30-35 mins, then remove from oven, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 mins before devouring (I know it's hard to be patient, but the wait will be worth it!  This is what makes the brownies lovely and chewy).

Friday
Apr252014

inverted pintxos

I've been advised that as long as I keep the contents of my blog 80% inspirational (I'll barrack for that little kitten hanging on a branch any day, just don't expect me to shove the motivational posts down your throat over on my Instagram) then I pretty much have free reign over the other 20%, which pretty much means that I can take up 1/5th of your precious reading time with a good ol' bitch and moan.

For something totally unpredictable, today I choose to whine about weight loss. Or non-weight loss, rather. When you are a food blogger nobody takes you seriously when you say you want to try and lose weight. It's kind of like being a supermodel and saying you want to eat a jam doughnuts for breakfast everyday. Or being a nun and saying you want to take up erotic dancing as a hobby on the side. OK, you get the idea...

On the 31st of December, 2013 I made a drunken promise that by the end of 2014 I would have lost 10kgs. My significant other (my boyfriend, that is, not the extra 10kgs) made a non-drunken promise to gain 10kgs. You can probably see where this is going. To date I have gained approximately 3kgs. No points for guessing how much he's lost.

So it's now the 25th of April, we're 1/3 of the way in and I've got a lot of work to do. And what else would one do when searching for a solution to a problem than to download an app. Weight loss - there's an app for that, you bet your sweet (fat) arse there is. I'm currently using My Fitness Pal, which has allocated me 1570 calories per day, on the promise that I go for a brisk, 1 hour walk every day. The tram stop is 5 mins walk from our house, so ironically I need to get off at the Queen Victoria Markets, NOT buy an almond croissant, and walk the rest of the way to my day job.

So when I want to make dishes like this, it pretty much means all I can eat for the rest of the day is a green smoothie and a handful of bird seeds. Which is why I have put these into the "Party On" category, probably best saved for special occassions...

inverted pintxos
Makes 12

1 baguette loaf, cut into 12 rounds
900g mashed potato, with 50g butter and 2 cloves crushed garlic stirred through, seasoned with salt and pepper
300g fillet of mild, white fish (Blue Eye or Ling are nice options)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (you hipster, you)
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of milk
1 cup plain flour

CHARRED CAPSICUM AND HAZELNUT PESTO
2 large red capsicums
50g roasted hazelnuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp baby capers
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 tbsp light olive oil
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

To make the pesto, cut capsicums in half, discard stalk and seeds. Flatten with the palm of your hand, then place on a foil-lined baking tray and place under the grill (about 200ºC should do the trick) for 10 mins or so until the skin has completely blackened. Place into a large bowl, cover with cling wrap and set aside for 10 mins, then remove and peel off the skin and discard. Add the capsicum flesh and the remaining ingredients (except oil) to a mini food processor. Blitz until smooth, then gradually add oil in a thin stream until the mixture is a pesto-like consistency. Season to taste, then set aside.

Pan fry fish until cooked through (if you have a meat thermometer, it should reach 62ºC in the thickest part of the fillet. If you don't have a thermometer, you will know when the fish is done when it easily flakes when separated with two forks). Set the fish aside to rest for 5 mins, before carefully flaking the flesh in to small chunks (discard the skin and any bones) and stir through the mashed potato mixture. Allow the mixture to cool for 15-20 mins in the fridge.

Heat a deep fryer to high. Preheat your oven to 100ºC and have a foil-lined baking tray ready.

Place the flour on a large plate. Have the egg mixture ready in a bowl and the breadcrumbs on a separate plate. When the potato has cooled, form into 12 log-shaped croquettes (they will be approx 1/4 cup of potato mixture per croquette). Dust lightly in flour, brushing off any excess. Dip into egg mixture to coat, then roll in breadcrumbs until well coated. Repeat with remaining croquettes.

Deep fry croquettes, 3 at a time, until lightly golden. Drain on paper towel, then transfer to the prepared baking tray and pop into the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining croquettes.

Toast the baguette slices under the grill until lightly browned. To assemble the pintxos, begin with a croquette on the bottom, then spread a generous amount of the pesto onto a baguette toast and place on top of the croquette, securing with a fancy skewer. Serve to your admiring guests.