Wednesday, 28 April 2010

apple & sultana scones

Here I am writing this post and my stomach is talking to me, and not in a good way. It started talking to me at 4am this morning, after about an hour decided it had enough and left me alone so I could get a bit more sleep. I hopped on the train and it talked to me, Nurofen seemed to quiet it down a bit and then just as I was doing the dishes, it starts again. Unfortunately I don't speak a word of stomach language so I have no idea what it's trying to say to me but it's probably along the lines of 'I don't like what you're eating'. So yes, something I've eaten has given me a particularly upset stomach.

Stomach issues aside, here's a recipe for Apple & Sultana Scones which I baked over the Anzac long weekend. The recipe conveniently used up the last apple I had in the house (yes mum will be particularly pleased) and well, it's conveniently also been my breakfast for the last couple of days. (Unfortunately, the rumour that an apple a day keeps the doctor away doesn't quite apply here. If my stomach pains persist, I am definitely going to go see a doctor!)

The recipe made use of the newly purchased food processor (which I love by the way) but don't be fooled, there's actually a bit of work you need to do where the food processor's not involved. 

Start by preheating the oven to 220 degrees. Combine 225g plain flour, 4 tsp baking powder and 2 tbsp caster sugar in the food processor.

Cut into cubes 50g unsalted butter. Add the butter to the flour mix and process for about 20 seconds until the mixture resembles find breadcrumbs. You might actually need to use a scraper to move the ingredients off the side of the food processor bowl (like I said, whilst it's a handy machine, you still need to do your bit!). Transfer the mix to a large bowl.

Peel, core and finely dice 1 eating apple. Stir in the apple and 40g sultanas into the mixture.

Beat 1 large egg and 80ml full cream milk together in a measuring jug and gradually pour into the flour mixture and bring to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth.

Gently pat or roll the dough to a thickness of 2.5cm. Place on a lined baking tray.

Cut the round into 8 equal pieces. What the recipe actually suggests is reserving a bit of the egg mix from previous and brushing the tops of the scones with it to give it a nice, golden finish. Somehow or other, I skipped through this part so mine's aren't quite so golden as the ones pictured in the book.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden. 

Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Enjoy your scones with a lick of butter!

I've been keeping my scones in the fridge so that they last a bit longer (at the moment, I'm the only one eating them because my brother aka the rat decided he doesn't like scones in general - he did the same thing again where he broke off a chunk when I wasn't looking!) Personally I think they're rather healthy (much healthier than most of the things I bake) and they're great for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack. 15 seconds in the microwave is spot on to reheat them.

Well now that all the apples are used up, I'm looking at all the oranges we have at home and thinking what I can do with them. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

apple-topped loaf cake

Somehow or other, this Anzac weekend ended up being a 'let's bake with apples' weekend. And before you conjure up images of baskets and baskets of apples being turned into assorted baked goodies, I actually only had 2 apples and with these two apples, I made two very different things. Here's what I baked after a lazy sleep in on Sunday morning with one of the apples...

Preheat oven to 150 degrees (fan bake). Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. It really does pay to take the time to trace and cut the baking paper so that it fits the tin perfectly. The baked product ends up looking a lot nicer around the edges and you'll spend less time getting angry at a piece of baking paper that keeps popping out of the tin when you just go and squish it in.

Beat 150g softened unsalted butter and 150g caster sugar together in a large bowl with an electric whisk until smooth, light and fluffy.

Add 2 beaten eggs one at a time, stirring well between each addition. Stir in 150g ground almonds, 50g plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Then stir in the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 100ml full cream milk. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and level the surface.

Slice up 1 medium sized red eating apple (remove the core). Arrange the slices evenly over the top of the loaf.

Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, until the cake has risen and is golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack. (Trust me, you'll need that extra 20 minutes in the warm tin for the cake to do its last bit of cooking so don't be in a rush to take the cake out of the tin too soon).

Last but not least, dust with icing sugar if you are that way inclined. I prefer not to as it means less sugar ( I figure I eat enough sugar as it is!) And well, it goes with out saying that this cake should be stored in an airtight container in a cool cupboard or in the fridge. The recipe recommends you eat this cake within 2 days.

Whilst the cake was cooling down, I actually ducked upstairs to read and when I came back down, nearly thought that a rat had got to it as the edge of the cake had gone. Turns out my brother had got to it before me and well, he's given his stamp of approval. I rather like this loaf myself - it's extremely moist and looks ever so pretty coming out of the oven. FYI: Recipe is from 'Cakes & Bakes from my mother's kitchen' by Linda Collister.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

jamie oliver's bakewell tart

After seeing Jamie Oliver live, I've been on a bit of a Jamie rampage. The boy has been religiously watching Jamie's Revolution on Youtube and well, the cookbooks I own have been pulled out from their respective spots in my room and recipes are being bookmarked for making. Here's the first of the recipes from Jamie's dinners (probably one of my most used Jamie Oliver books - I look through this book and every recipe is something that I want to eat!) The recipe is for Jamie Oliver's Bakewell Tart; I've tweaked the recipe a little bit so hopefully you find this a bit easier than the one in the book.

Introducing the new family member to my kitchen! It sat in its box for a couple of weeks so I was glad to finally pull it out to use. Anyway, here I've used it to make the pastry for the Bakewell tart. Cream together 125g butter, 100g icing sugar, a small pinch of salt in the food processor. 

Add to it 255g flour, vanilla seeds from 1 vanilla pod, zest of 1/2 lemon and 2 egg yolks. Pulse together until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, then add 2 tbsp cold milk. Open the lid of the processor and using a spatula, work the mixture into a ball of dough. Take the dough out of the food processor and place on a lightly floured surface. Work the pastry together but not too much otherwise you'll risk it becoming elasticy and chewy rather than flaky and short as it should be. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Whilst I had the pastry in the fridge, I went about to make the frangipane (which is the filling for a bakewell tart). First of all, wash out the food processor bowl. In the clean bowl, combine 300g butter and 300g caster sugar until light and creamy. Add to it 350g almond meal and 3 lightly beaten eggs. Fold the mix together until completely mixed and smooth. Place it in the fridge to firm up slightly. Time to do a bit of cleaning up!

 By the time you've cleaned up, you'll be able to take the pastry out of the fridge. Roll out the pastry and line a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin with it. For me, I had enough to make a big tart and a mini one. Place these in the fridge for around an hour (I cheated here a bit and you can see the shrinkage in my big tart in one of the pics below.) Half an hour before the the tins are ready, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Once the hour of fridging the tin and pastry is up, bake tarts for around 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven, place to one side, and turn the oven heat down to 170 degrees.

Smear about 6 tbsps jam over the bottom of the pastry case.

Pour in the chilled frangipane mixture on top and sprinkle with some sliced blanched almonds.

Bake the tart for 40 minutes, or until the almond mixture has become firm and golden on the outside but is still soft in the middle.

Allow to cool for about 30 minutes and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! (the recipe also recommends creme fraiche or custard) Here I've cut up the small tart; it was already quite filling to have a small slice of it!

My thoughts? This tart was a lot of work and also a lot of tart! Probably took me a good 4 hours from start to finish and at the end of it, there was just so much tart to eat. My aunt kindly dropped by to take away half of it but even with the half we had at home, we've eaten it ever so slowly. In hindsight, I should've looked at the ingredient list properly and realised that there was over a kilo of ingredients in it and culled it to half to make it slightly more manageable. 

Whilst making it, both the boy and mum expressed concern over the amount of sugar and they were right, it did end up being quite a sweet tart (but still a yummy one!) I highly recommend serving this tart warm with vanilla ice cream, it's the perfect combo. If anything, the food processor came in real handy for this recipe and it did make me think, why on earth didn't I get one earlier? It's so easy to use and my pastry came out so smooth and flaky, I can't imagine why I would ever to do it again my hand! Anyway, more Jamie adventures to follow and yes, I'm also quite addicted to my food processor so I'm sure you'll see more of it soon. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

lord of the fries @ elizabeth st., melbourne

So I have a rather impressive stomach. After 4 hours of eating at Vue de Monde, a little bit of waddling afterwards, two hours later, I'm all ready to eat. The boy is the same although my stomach is probably bigger than his or shall I say, he hides it better than I do? Ah well, I figured that it's never going to be fair. The boy has a better metabolism than I do, I just get fat when I eat too much and unfortunately trips to Melbourne seem to facilitate the process!

Anyway, I'm off on a tangent now. Back to our choice of dinner that night before going to see Jamie Oliver at Hisense Arena; this is a place I've been wanting to try for the last 3 trips I've made to Melbourne (spanning at least the last 2.5 years), the rather famous 'Lord of the Fries'.

We order the meal deal with the 2 regular LOTF burgers & chips.

I was rather impressed by the burgers which have a vegetarian patty 'which has the look, taste, texture of beef'. The boy's first comment was that 'it's not beef' which gradually lead to comments about how he'd be hungry again later that night. Might explain why they have the meal deal with the 2 burgers - you'd probably get that all for yourself if you were hungry.

Dinner was enjoyed by the banks of the Yarra River.

It's all smoking and happening in the building right across from us!

My verdict - the chips are much healthier than your regular chip (and well, lots of fun to eat out of the cone shapped wrappers) but I was definitely much more impressed by the beef tasting vegie patty in my burger. The patty had just the right amount of spiciness and after eating such a long lunch, the burger was just the right amount of food for me. However, if you are like the boy and enjoy your meat, you may be a little disappointed and get a bit hungry later on. Anyway, having reading about Lord of the Fries across blogs far and wide, I was just glad to finally try it out for myself!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

vue de monde @ little collins st., melbourne

My trip to Melbourne seems so long ago! It's rather unfair that holidays always seem to go by so quickly and work just chews up so much of my time and passes by ever so slowly. And well, once again I've been caught up in the whirlwind of work so have only managed to get some time now to catch up on the rest of my Melbourne posts. 

So it was that J&I flew down to Melbourne to see Jamie Oliver. I don't think J understood my fascination with Jamie until he actually saw him for himself. Since coming back, J has been urging me to make pizza just like Jamie does and well, there was definitely no comments made about me having too many cookbooks when I said I was ordering Jamie's new cookbook online (I think J is secretly in love with Jamie too!)

But Jamie isn't the reason for this post. This post is about an incredible 4 hour long degustation lunch that J&I had on the day before we went to see Jamie. This was the first time ever that I had a degustation for lunch and in every way, it was a memorable one! Let me take you on a visual tour of our 4 hour lunch...

Arriving at Vue de monde at 12 noon, J&I are the first to sit down.

Here we are admiring the decor and the detail they put to the table setting. It's ever so neat and pretty, a most fitting compliment to the food that was about to come to the table.

Amuse Bouche - Kangaroo charcuterie. I was actually surprised that kangaroo was the starter to the degustation; kangaroo tends to have such a distinctive flavour which I thought would linger a bit too much but having a taste of this, I certainly changed my mind.

Amuse bouche - Smoke eel with apple gel.

Amuse Bouche - Kingfish with Osetra caviar.

Freshly baked bread roll.

First course: Heide vegetable garden. The vegetables were ever so fresh and crisp, I can't say that I've had fresher vegetables elsewhere!

Second course: Cauliflower tofu & slipper lobster with kombu crackers. The saltiness of the kombu crackers is a sharp contrast to the first course but only just salty enough to tease you and challenge your tastebuds.

Third Course: Green vegetable salad. I was actually quite surprised to see two vegetable dishes feature in the first three courses of the degustation. 

Fourth Course - Classically inspired truffle risotto. The truffle is freshly grated for you at the table and well, this dish was definitely one of my favourites. I hear it's one of Vue de Monde's signature dishes and looking around me, I could see it being ordered across the restaurant.

This is the view from our table.

Our fifth course comes to the table with a bit of prep work required.

Fifth Course - Whiting & basil ballotine, tomato infusion and mozarella noodle.

Palate cleanser.

Sixth Course - Western Plains pork with flavours of the earth.

Seventh Course & also my favourite course: Blackmore wagyu beef with dried berries & earl grey parsnip. Just look at the snowflaking on that piece of wagyu!! From our table, we could actually see the wagyu being cut up and I really had to restrain myself from jumping up and grabbing the whole piece for myself.

A cute little toothpick holder! The silver man actually pulls out a toothpick from the box!

J&I (our bellies covered by the table!)

Here's the palate cleanser before we eat dessert - Woodside Pompeii with pear.

Eighth Course - Lollipop. Yep, it's made to be eaten like one!

Ninth Course - Blackcurrant sago and blackcurrant mousse with raspberry meringue and bubble gum ice cream. Eating this one sent tingles down my spine; it's an interesting mix of sweet, sour, crunchy and the rather distinctive taste of bubble gum.

Tenth Course - Golden Gaytime souffle and also my favourite out of the desserts.

And to finish, Petits-fours.

So it was four hours later that we completed all ten courses. We were the second last table to finish lunch and to be honest, I was more than happy just to sit there for the rest of the afternoon and enjoy the feeling of the good food in my stomach. I really didn't want to move.

But well, there was still an afternoon left to explore a bit of Melbourne so reluctantly, we got up and vacated the restaurant. Simply said, I was full and it took a bit of coaxing on J's part to get me moving. 

Thanks to the lovely team at Vue de Monde for such an incredible lunch. Your dishes challenged my tastebuds. I love how you present your food and well, there's not one bit that I would change; you are perfect just the way you are!