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.
This cake was quite the revelation - sometimes polenta cakes can be a little dry or crumbly, but adding almonds into the mix you get to keep all the gluten-free goodness but now with increased tastiness! The berry and almond crust is just a bonus, feel free to leave it off if you are just after a simple tea-time cake.
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 30cm cake tin. If you don’t have one that big you’ll need to increase the cooking time but keep an eye on it to make sure the top doesn’t burn. Cover it with foil if it starts to look brown.
Beat the butter till pale. Add the sugar and continue to beat for another minute or two. Fold in the almond meal and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the lemon rind, lemon juice and polenta and mix till just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
Stir the cornflour and sugar into the berries until there are no lumps and it is well mixed. Spoon over the top of the cake and bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least half an hour, then serve warm with creme fraiche or natural yoghurt.
People always ask me what my favourite cake is so here it is: Chocolate Cinnamon Coffee Crumble Cake. A recipe from Belinda Jeffery that I have only tweaked ever so slightly as there is no point in messing with perfection. The ideal way to eat this cake is still warm from the oven - bring it to the table and then pour the chocolate sauce over it in front of your guests for a bit of dinner theatre. The cake itself is a buttery coffee cake with intense striations of coffee, cinnamon, chocolate and nuts that deliciously balance between sweet and bitter and nutty. I wish there were leftovers from the one I made the other night…
Make sure you use a large kuglehopf tin as there is a lot of lift in the mix and it will rise.
Serves 8 - 12
Preheat the oven to 180C and generously butter a large kuglehopf tin.
Put the sour cream, yoghurt and bicarb of soda into a bowl and let stand for 15 minutes until it is all puffed up.
Put all the crumble ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it has the texture of coarse sand. Alternatively you can do it by hand, just make sure the chocolate is very, very finely chopped and the nuts are pulverised by putting them in a teatowel and beating them with a rolling pin or the like.
In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar until they thicken and become creamy - about two minutes with an electric beater or 5 - 10 by hand depending on your technique. Beat in the softened butter until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Add the coffee and vanilla and mix well. Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and salt until you have a nice thick cake batter.
Place a quarter of the batter in the bottom of the tin. Top with a third of the crumble, then another quarter of batter and third of crumble until you finish the top layer of batter. Take a skewer and swirl it through the mix, just enough to create gentle swirls of crumble through the cake.
Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, or until the cake has pulled away from the sides of the tin and a skewer inserted into the mix comes out clean. Allow to cool for half an hour in the tin, then invert onto a plate and serve at the table drizzled with chocolate ganache.
Place all the ingredients in a small, heavy-based pan and place over low heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate and butter have all melted and the ganache is glossy. Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool for half an hour before covering the cake (it will still be quite runny so if you want to ice the cake in advance let it cool for longer).
Haven’t been cooking much worth blogging about recently, although might put up a coupla easy soups soon. I did manage to knock this up last week though - I call it Beanie Cake.
I’d recommend serving this flaky, cheesy roll with relish and some salad.
Preheat the oven to 210C.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and mushrooms and fry gently till the mushrooms start to soften. Add the silverbeet and continue to cook till the leaves are wilted and all the liquid in the pan has evaporated (important not to skip this step or your filo will get soggy). Allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
In a large bowl mix the cheeses, walnuts and cooked vegetables till evenly distributed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Peel off two sheets of filo and drizzle half a tablespoon of melted butter evenly over the top. Repeat with two sheets of filo and half a tablespoon of butter at a time till all the sheets are layered up. Mound the filling evenly lengthwise along the filo. Roll up the pastry to form a log. Place seam side down on a large greased baking tray, paint with the last of the melted butter and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Making this pudding feels like cheating because with these ingredients resistance is futile. Make sure you let the corners of the croissants poke up above the custard so they go all brown and crispy.
Slice the croissants horizontally in half and layer in a deep baking dish just large enough to hold them. Evenly distribute the chocolate and cherries between each slice.
Beat the cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Pour over the croissants. Scatter the almonds, butter and sugar over the top. Allow to sit for at least half an hour to let the pastries soak up some of the custard.
Bake at 170C for 25 minutes or until the tops of the croissants are brown and the custard is no longer runny. Serve immediately (with ice cream is an over-indulgence but don’t let that stop you).
Thanks to Curly Girl Kitchen for the photo, I forgot to take one, was too keen to get into it!
- Black and White Eggs Stuffed with Tapenade
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
- Hot Dogs
Tree of Life
- Awkward Mash
- Mushroom Ragout & Rabbit and Prune Casserole
- Hawaiian Pickled Mango Salad
- Special Chocolate Pie
- Homemade Jam
Midnight in Paris
- Hemingway’s Mojito
I was privileged enough to be asked to make a wedding cake for the Adelaide/Delhi union of my friends Chris and Simi. The bride’s gorgeous sari was the inspiration for the design on the cake, while the cake itself incorporated some of the best of the spices and flavours of India. Like all Indian desserts it is sweet, and I recommend you use the highest quality white chocolate you can find to get real depth of flavour. This quantity will make about half a wedding cake, or a nice big double-decker special occasion size. Don’t worry if there are leftovers, it is one of those cakes that improves with age. I’m not including decorating instructions here, but feel free to dye the icing pink and cover the cake in silver cachous. (will put proper photo up when I get the wedding pictures)
White chocolate ganache
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and flour 2 24cm pans.
Soak the coconut in extra (1/4 cup) buttermilk while you get the rest of the cake ready
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks one at a time, then stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in the pistachios and soaked coconut.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold one third of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Divide batter into prepared pans.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Note: If your oven is a hot one place the cakes in the middle of the oven or lower as the high sugar content means the crust is liable to burn. Allow to cool.
White chocolate ganache
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put into a heatproof bowl. Put the cardamom pods into a heavy-based saucepan with the cream. Bring to the boil (watch it or it will boil over!) then turn to a low heat and simmer for five minutes. While its still hot pour the cream through a sieve onto the chocolate and stir well until the chocolate is all melted. Allow to stand in a cool room for half an hour or so (or put in the fridge for about 20 minutes) until it has reached spreading texture. Spread one third of the ganache on the bottom cake, top with the second cake and cover the top and sides with the remaining icing.
Thanks to Clara for the recipe cake-spiration.
Apologies, we have been experiencing technical difficulties, but will soon resume our usual tasty service. Stay tuned for Indian Wedding Cake! And note that the URL has changed slightly, for now…
I’m working up to adopting a grandmother from every nation under the sun so they can each teach me how to cook properly in their native cuisine. Until then there is my English Nana with her perfect Yorkshire Puddings and revelatory Fish Pie, and my Polish Babcia and her many tasty Eastern European treats. Here is her version of Potato Salad. Not sure how authentic the baked beans are or why she uses them instead of a tin of haricot beans, but I’m not about to argue with tradition. This dish stands or falls on the pickles, make sure you get the ones that say Polski Ogorki somewhere on the label, the other ones are too sweet.
Serves 10 as part of a meal, great as leftovers the next day
Place the potatoes, carrots, corn and eggs in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for six minutes then remove the eggs. Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender but not soft. Drain the vegetables and allow to cool slightly. As soon as you can handle the vegetables get to work on them, time is of the essence here. Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut into 1cm dice. Shave the kernels off the corn. Peel the eggs and cut into small cubes. Place all of these ingredients into a large bowl with the baked beans, pickles and spring onion. Dress while warm, this means the vegetables will soak up more of the dressing and the final result will be much yummier, even if you serve it cold.
Place all the dressing ingredients except for salt and pepper into a jar and shake really, really well until all the ingredients have mixed together. Make sure there are no lumps of mustard hiding anywhere as that could be a nasty surprise for someone. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Thanks to Christina for making Potato Salad look sexy!
Next time you finish a piece of Parmesan cheese keep the rind in the fridge until you’ve got a couple of them, then you’ll be ready to make this soup. The rind adds an extra savoury note to an otherwise ordinary vegetable soup. These are the veg I had in the fridge but use whatever you’ve got, just make sure they are chopped into small bits.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onion and garlic till soft. Add the vegetables, herbs, Parmesan rinds, two litres of water and stock cubes and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with croutons. Some people like to eat the Parmesan rind on bread straight from the soup pot, some people can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that and just throw them away, I’ll leave it to you to investigate.
Heat the oven to 220C. Spread the bread out on a large flat baking tray, scatter over the garlic, oil and sea salt and toss well. Bake for 10 minutes or until the croutons are just starting to go golden.
Thanks to Christina for the fantastic photos.