Yeah, it’s vegan, but that’s incidental to how super tasty this pie is.
Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Heat at the lowest temperature, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has just melted. Put the brown sugar, almonds, pecans and coconut into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend until totally combined. Tip the nut mix into a deep 20cm tart pan with a removable bottom. Spread it evenly and set aside.
Wash out the food processor bowl. Add the yoghurt, peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt and process for about a minute until smooth and homogenous. Pour the peanut butter mix onto the nutty base and smooth the top.
Place the extra chocolate and coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Heat at the lowest temperature, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has just melted. Pour the chocolate over the peanut mixture and tap to even it out. Refrigerate for at least six hours until set.
Gently lever the edge of the tart tin away from the tart. Push up the base, remove the tart and serve immediately.
One of the many highlights of the best meal we had in Tuscany a couple of years ago was a beautiful, black, sticky mess of meltingly tender beef cheeks cooked in red wine. This is my attempt to replicate the magic, although since it was done in suburban Melbourne it was never going to be quite as good. I don’t always think it is always necessary to use excellent wine in cooking, but with this dish it is essential. A nice grunty red wine (I used a Barossa Valley Shiraz) is what is called for here. And while you’re at it I would also recommend buying the best quality meat you can. You’ll probably need to go to a butcher to find beef (or ox) cheek, if it is organic and free range all the better.
Place the beef in a large non-metal bowl. Add the wine, coriander, porcini, pepper and garlic. Tie a bit of cooking string around the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and parsley and add to the meat. It’s fine if you don’t have cooking string, just means it’ll be a bit more of a pain to fish out the herbs at the end. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours, but up to 48.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-based stew pot. Take 2 or 3 cheeks out of the marinade, shaking them clean as you do, and fry in the stew pot until nice and dark brown on each side. Repeat with the remaining cheeks. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot along with all the finely diced vegetables. Fry for ten minutes, or until the leek is translucent and the carrot starting to soften. Return the beef to the pot along with the marinade, beef stock and a teaspoon of sea salt.
Put the lid on the stew pot and transfer to an oven heated to 150C. Cook for 3 hours. It is done when the meat falls apart when gently poked with a spoon. Remove the herbs and add salt to taste. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve with buttery mashed potato and a second bottle of the wine you cooked with.
Blondie is the the lesser known cousin of Brownie but no less loveable, decadent or delicious. This version takes the sweet edge off the white chocolate with salted peanuts and peanut butter. Why is it the desserts that taste the best always look so … ordinary?
Makes 20 squares
Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
Place the butter and chocolate into a heavy based saucepan and melt over a low heat. If the white chocolate clumps together during the melting process give it a good whisk until the mixture is smooth. Place the sugar, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and whisk for a minute or two until creamy and fluffy. Fold in the flour, chocolate mix, peanuts and extra white chocolate until just combined. Pour the mix into the cake tin and level it out. Take pinches of peanut butter (about 1/2 teaspoon = 1 pinch) and dot over the surface of the batter until all the peanut butter is used up. Take a metal knife and gently swirl it through the batter/butter mix to evenly distribute the peanut butter throughout.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the blondie comes out clean.
If you want to turn this into a proper dessert serve the blondie straight of the oven topped with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of hot toffee sauce.
Put it on steamed vegetables with boiled eggs and vietnamese mint for a deeply satisfying Gado Gado. Or marinate chicken in coriander, cumin, turmeric and salt then grill and serve with this sauce for classic chicken satay. Or slather it on a burger for a bit of fusion cuisine. Yumbo.
Makes 2 cups
Put the shallots, garlic and oil into a heavy-based pan and fry very gently, without browning, until the onion is transparent. Add the spices and fry, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients, turn up the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and darkened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. All the oil you added in the beginning will separate from the sauce and you can pour it off.
Serve with meat, vegetables, tofu, fish, noodles, rice, tempeh, as a pizza topping, as a burger condiment, as a dipping sauce, etc…
optional Add 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder along with the other spices to give your satay some kick.
Yes, you will need a tagine to make this. There is something about the conical shape that steams and intensifies the flavours in a way that just can’t be replicated in a regular casserole dish. So go all the way into the back of the cupboard and dust off the tagine you got for your engagement/housewarming/Moroccan holiday. Apart from requiring special cookware, a tagine is incredibly simple to make with a small upfront investment of effort followed by hours of mouthwatering cooking smells. Enjoy.
Freshly ground spices are best, but I’ll understand if you aren’t in the mood to pestle.
Mix together all the spice rub ingredients. Coat the beef in the spices and marinate for minimum of one hour but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Layer the onion rings over the bottom and up the sides of the tagine. Continue with the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms. Spread the marinated meat in a single layer over the vegetables. Pour the tinned tomatoes over the top of the beef. Dissolve the stock in 400ml of warm water and pour into the tagine. Place the lid on and bake for two hours. Remove from the oven, sprinkle over the apricots and lemons, pushing any stray bits of meat down into the juice but without stirring. Replace the lid and bake for another hour.
Remove the tagine from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Then top with all the garnish ingredients and serve with couscous or strong, crusty bread.
Ishika’s Baby Owl Cake
Sophia’s Disco Roller Skate Cake!
This sauce will do fun things to your tongue. Goes well with fried seafood, potatoes or anywhere you’d use regular old tomato sauce.
Slice the tomatoes lengthwise and place cut side up on a baking tray. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over each tomato. Put the tomatoes into the oven at 140C for three to four hours until they have started to brown and collapse.
Mix the tomatoes with the remaining ingredients and blend (a blender or stab blender will do the job). If the sauce is too thick add a little hot vegetable stock until you’ve got the desired consistency. Will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
More is always better when it comes to chocolate and nuts as far as I’m concerned and these cookies are stuffed to bursting with both.
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Beat the butter with the sugars, salt and vanilla essence until light and creamy. Stir in the egg. Gently fold through the chocolate, almonds and flours till all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Shape the dough into 5cm circles about 1cm thick. Bake 12 minutes for a chewy cookie and 20 minutes for a crunchy one. Best served straight out of the oven with a glass of unhomogenised organic milk (fine, I can be a food hipster, but these are still some of the best cookies you’ll ever eat).
Went on holiday last week to the Limestone Coast and caused this happy accident during an evening at home in front of the fire.
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes, add the lime and it’s juice. Fill the glass almost* to the top with sparkling elderflower and gently add whiskey to taste. Terribly refreshing!
*Or halfway, or just add a dash depending on how much Highland you need versus how much Breeze.
I was fortunate enough to be shopping for chocolate for this tart when the Lindt 60% Cocoa truffle bar was on sale at the local supermarket. The slightly bitter yet melting texture of the chocolate made a tasty dessert something special, but if you can’t find that particular bar just buy the best you can find as I promise it will make a big difference to the final product. This is quite a rich tart but serving it with whipped cream is not outside the realms of good taste.
Mix the flour and salt together. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the flour, then rub together thoroughly till you have a mix resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Add three tablespoons of water and gently mix together (don’t knead or beat, you’ll get chewy pastry instead of crusty pastry) till the dough forms a ball, add the last tablespoon of water only if you need to. Roll out the dough into a circle approximately 4mm thick and use it to line a 25cm tart tin. Refrigerate for 20 minutes (this stops the dough shrinking when you bake it).
Preheat the oven to 210C. When the dough is chilled, place in the oven to bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Remove and cool.
Melt the butter and chocolate together then set aside to cool. Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites with the sugar till firm peaks form. Stir the egg yolks into the sugar then gently fold in the egg whites and whipped cream. Stir through the coconut then pour the filling into the cooled pastry case. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm. Decorate with more coconut shavings.
If you are looking for a comforting bowl of food to stay in on the couch with this could be just the thing. The herbs and spices are optional, but the more you add the more flavour the final dish will have. For the vegetable stock you can use whatever vegetables you’ve got in the fridge, these are just suggestions. If you don’t get through it all in one night, can I recommend rolling the cold leftovers into balls, dipping them into beaten egg, covering them with breadcrumbs then fry them up and serve with tomato relish for nibbles the next day! Sometimes I wonder if I’m turning into Martha Stewart, but that is what I actually did…
Spread the pumpkin out in one layer on a large flat baking tray. Sprinkle with ground coriander and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and honey and toss well to coat evenly. Bake at 210C for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is starting to go dark brown and is nice and soft.
While the pumpkin is roasting put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, whole parsley and rosemary stalks, fennel and coriander seeds, peppercorns and vegetable stock cubes into a large pot. Cover with two litres of water, bring to the boil and turn down to a low simmer. Let it simmer while you are doing everything else, at least 30 minutes.
Once the pumpkin is cooked, melt the olive oil and butter together in a wide, heavy-based saucepan or deep frying pan. Add the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat and cook gently till the onion is soft and translucent. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the arborio and cook, stirring constantly till each grain of rice is coated in oil and the rice is just starting to smell toasted (about five minutes). Pour in the wine and bubble away till it is almost all gone. Turn the heat down to medium, ladle in a couple of spoons of hot stock and stir till almost all the liquid has evaporated. Repeat this for about 15 minutes then add in the roasted pumpkin and continue to cook for another five to ten minutes, adding stock and stirring till the rice is cooked.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir through the Parmesan. Add salt to taste. Allow to sit for five minutes, ladle into a deep bowl, top with freshly cracked black pepper and eat on the couch in your pyjamas. Follow up with tea and biscuits.
This isn’t one of those polite tarts in which the filling peers meekly from below the crust and the filling is mostly egg with a bit of other stuff. This is a huge mound of flaky fish and vegetables with a sauce that balances perfectly between creamy and fresh and lemony rising up in a delicious mound over a crisp shortcrust base. Serve it with a side salad and some good friends. The leftovers will serve up well cold or reheated for a few minutes in a warm oven.
Butter a pie tin, making sure to get into each dimple with the butter so nothing sticks. Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick and line the pie tin with it. Prick holes all over the bottom with a fork. Cover the pastry with a piece of baking paper big enough to come up the sides of the tin and cover that with a thin layer of dried rice or beans. Bake at 210C for ten minutes. Lift out the baking paper and rice/beans and bake for another five minutes or until the base no longer looks wet.
Saute the onion, garlic and leeks in the olive oil till soft but not golden then tip into a large bowl. Add the broccoli, salmon, lemon zest, lemon juice, creme fraiche, cheese and dill and mix gently until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Taste for salt and pepper and add as required. Break the four eggs into a separate bowl, beat well and gently stir through the salmon mix. Pour the filling into the pie case and bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until the top of the pie has browned nicely and the filling isn’t wobbly. Allow to cool for at least half an hour then serve.
Everything in this poshed-up version of the Aussie original is made from scratch, except the puff pastry as no-one has that much spare time! Head down to the butcher to buy the meat because the supermarkets won’t have what you need in the size you need it. This is not fast food - start the meat the day before and finish the pie off on Sunday morning while drinking tea and reading the paper (or whatever digital equivalent you now read…). Serve for lunch with red wine, mashed potato and a sharply-dressed green salad then spend the rest of the day sitting around and digesting, there won’t be anything else you’ll want to do.
Serves 8 big eaters
Place the meat and bones into a very large saucepan, sprinkle with the soy sauce and vegetable oil and brown over high heat for ten minutes. Cover the meat with twice its volume in water. Bring to the boil and skim off and discard any scum that rises to the surface. Lower to a gentle boil and cook for three hours or until the meat separates easily. Get rid of the bones, reserve the meat and liquid.
Put the onion, garlic, olive oil and celery into a large heavy-based frying pan or saucepan. Saute gently for ten minutes, stirring regularly, until the onion has just started to go brown around the edges. Add the mushrooms, ground coriander and pepper and continue to fry for another few minutes until the spices are fragrant and the mushroom has started to collapse. Sprinkle the flour over the top, stir it in well and fry for another couple of minutes. Turn up the heat, pour in the red wine and bubble away until it is reduced by two thirds.
At this point remove the fat that has collected on the top of the beef stock. If it is cold it should be a solid piece and easy to take off, otherwise use a large spoon and skim as much off as you can, the pie doesn’t need any extra. Take the meat that was used to make the stock and cut it into rough chunks of about one inch square, although it will be soft enough to fall apart into smaller pieces as you cut it up and that is a good thing.
Add a couple of ladles of stock to the pan of mushrooms along with the chopped up meat and the beef stock cube. Simmer rapidly, stirring regularly, till the gravy has reduced down to a thick consistency that coats the meat plus another ten percent. Repeat with another three ladlefuls of stock three more times for a total of eleven ladles of stock, or about a litre of stock all up. The final result should be a thick, rich gravy. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly, to my tastes it needs a good couple of pinches of sea salt at this point and a few more lashings of black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 210C. Well grease a 30cm pie tin then line with one quantity of flaky pastry rolled out to about 3mm thick and sticking up about half a centimetre around the top of the tin. Prick the pastry with a fork all over the base. Cut a large piece of baking paper and use it to cover the pastry then pour in about 2/3 cup rice or dried beans or baking weights if you have them (does anyone these days?) and spread them out evenly. Bake for ten minutes, then lift out the baking paper and rice/beans/weights and bake for another five minutes. The crust should be without any wet looking spots, but still pale.
Fill the pastry case with the beef filling and top with a couple of tablespoonfuls of extra beef stock to keep it moist. Cover with a round of puff pastry, tucking it around the top of the flaky pastry that is sticking up over the lip of the tin. Beat an egg then generously paint the top of the pie with it. Cut a hole in the middle to let out any steam. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 210C or until the top of the pie is a dark golden brown and the pastry has started to come away from the edges of the tin.
Cool for 15 minutes, then serve with mashed potato and a crisp, tangy green salad. And the rest of the wine. And maybe some more wine…
This recipe was taught to me by an Israeli chef at a Tibetan Monastery in the South of France. Of course! It makes a lovely flaky pastry with a nice crunch. Great for pies and quiches.
Generously lines one 30cm tart tin with a bit left over.
Combine flour and salt. Add the butter and squidge it through with your hands till roughly combined (actually I like to use one hand and keep the other one clean till I’ve added all the other ingredients). Crack one egg into the mix and roughly stir through with your fingers, then repeat with the second egg. Add one tablespoon of milk and draw all the loose bits of flour and dough together - don’t bash it or knead it, just gently draw it into a ball. If there is still a bit of dry flour add the remaining milk.
Dump the dough onto some plastic wrap and wrap it up well, shaping into a rough, thick circle. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Unwrap the dough onto a floured surface, roll out to desired size and thickness and it is is ready to use. Don’t worry if it breaks apart a little when you roll it out, that means it will be deliciously flaky when cooked, just press it back into shape with your fingers.