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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Challah French Toast with Blueberry Compote

Lazy weekend breakfasts are my thing.

It took me a while, but I’ve learned to love breakfast. It should be special and I think that people don’t celebrate it enough anymore. It should be the highlight of the weekend, a time to congregate around the table with your loved ones, reflect on the week and unwind while enjoying scrumptious food.

Our Saturday morning breakfast was messy, runny and ever so delish. The Challah was the perfect bread for these thick slices of French Toast- soft yet absorbent, it mopped the cinnamon-scented egg and milk mixture right up and even after the frying process, it was beautiful and soft and melt-in-your-mouth.

 

INGREDIENTS

For the French Toast:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Challah or Brioche loaf, cut into 6-8 thick slices
  • 3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the blueberry compote:

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

METHOD

  1. First, get your blueberry compote started. Combine 1 cup of the blueberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the blueberries and cook for 8 minutes more, stirring frequently. Cover and keep warm until you’re ready to serve it over the French Toast.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large, shallow bowl.
  5. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture, ensuring that both sides have soaked up the liquid.
  6. Heat a large frying pan on medium heat and melt a tablespoon of butter.
  7. Cook the bread in batches until both sides are golden. Transfer them to a baking dish and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining slices.
  8. Serve the French Toast with a few spoonfuls of the warm blueberry compote. If you’re feeling extra naughty, a scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream and maple syrup would be perfect too.
 

Chocolate Peppermint Log

This was an old post originally published in August 2010, however I have had a few friends ask me about it so I thought I’d edit the post, put some new more recent pictures with it….and promise to start my diet tomorrow.

The original post continues below.

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When I go out to eat, I always, without hesitation, order the fanciest, most overdone, pretentious, bordering on ridiculous dessert I can find on the menu.

A part of me takes joy in the destruction of such works of delectable art. It’s a power trip of epic proportions. I break the desserts apart, burrow through them with my spoon like I’m digging for long lost treasure and smoosh everything together on the spoon while trying to get a bit of every single flavour into my mouth at once (always attempted in a lady like fashion, of course). That is part of the fun of eating out.

So when I’m home it’s quite the opposite. I don’t have the time, energy or patience for intricate desserts. Rough and dirty baby, that’s how I like ’em. Unlike the awful things I do to the pretty restaurant desserts, mine look ravaged prior to being served up. Cue recipe for the Chocolate Peppermint Log.

I like to think of this one as an Aussie Christmas tradition- someone will undoubtedly bring one to every Christmas lunch. Now, we can turn our noses up at the chocolate biscuit and whipped cream creation and act like we’re way above it all, but deep down, we’d all happily sit down and demolish a slice of this log without hesitation. I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine.

The chocolate peppermint log may not be ostentatious, it may not take half an hour to plate up or present as delicately and intricately as some of the other desserts out there, but it’s flavourful, quick, easy and the kids love to help make it. See, that’s what I’m all about. Bringing the family together. For sugary, chocolately, fat-laden treats. That’s me. I’m going to be a great mother one day….

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Chocolate Ripple biscuits (plain chocolate biscuits can also be used)
  • 450ml thickened cream
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 Peppermint Crisp chocolate bar, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 Cadbury Flake chocolate bar, finely chopped (I also use Peppermint Aero instead of Flake)

Method

  1. Combine cream, caster sugar and cocoa in a large bowl. Mix with electric beaters on med-high setting until  peaks form and cream is whipped enough to spread with a knife. Add half of the chopped/grated Peppermint Crisp chocolate.
  2. Take a chocolate biscuit and spread thickly with whipped cream. Repeat with a second biscuit. “Glue” the biscuits together and repeat the process, spreading whipped cream on one side of each biscuit and gluing together to form a log shape.
  3. Once you’ve formed the log, take the remaining whipped cream and smother all over the log, covering it generously. You dont want to see any of the biscuits peeking out. Make sure you smooth the cream down the sides and all the way to the bottom.
  4. Sprinkle remaining Peppermint Crisp chocolate down the middle of the log and top with Flake chocolate. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
  5. To serve, slice the cake on a diagonal angle so you can see all the lovely layers of chocolate and cream.
 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Devilish Desserts

 

Banana & Pineapple Pancakes

Pancakes are a weekend ritual in our house and now that summer has arrived, I found myself becoming uninterested in pancakes and wanting fruity, tropical flavours for breakfast. This may have also had something to do with the remaining bottle of pineapple juice in my fridge and the bananas in the fruit bowl begging for mercy.

These pancakes were a nice change and perfect for a warm, sunny summer brunch. Next time, I’ll do just pineapple and coconut. It will be like a pina colada pancake! Ok. I’ll stop.

You can put the pineapple chunks or ring into the batter if you like, but I couldn’t be bothered. Maybe next time!

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 overripe banana, mashed
  • 35g (1/3 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 40g butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • extra butter, for greasing
  • Vanilla ice-cream, to serve
  • Maple syrup, to serve

METHOD

  1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the coconut and sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  2. Whisk together the pineapple juice, milk, butter, vanilla and eggs in a bowl. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk until just combined, don’t over-mix or they’ll be too tough and chewy.
  3. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Grease the pan with a generous amount of butter.
  4. Ladle about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and spread to form a 12cm-diameter pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  5. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing with butter between pancakes. You should get about 8 pancakes from this recipe.
  6. Top with ice-cream and drizzle over maple syrup.

Recipe adapted from Taste.com.au

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Beautiful Brekkies, Sinful snacks

 

Brandy Snaps with Orange & Ricotta Cream

I’ve always wanted to make brandy snaps. For years, they’ve been a Christmastime treat, but they always struck me as too difficult, too fiddly, too poncy to make.

So this year I decided I am going to make them myself for next Christmas, but knowing me, I’d need a bit of practice because they just seemed too hard, so I propped myself on the couch and watched an hour of Youtube videos on how to shape them. That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back, but it gave me some confidence to try it!

Mine are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, some were deformed and I struggled a little with consistency, so next time I’ll try to perfect those things, but overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be! I recommend you giving it a try if you’ve been reluctant like I was. It totally opened up a new door to me once I did it and I got excited thinking about all the possible future recipes I could create after learning such a simple technique.

For a spin on the traditional whipped cream filling, I chose an orange and ricotta cream- orange and brandy seem to go well together and I chose to halve the whipped cream intake by adding ricotta… I’m not sure if a dietician would approve, but it sounded good in my head. And tasted even better on my lips! MM MMM!

 

INGREDIENTS

For the brandy snaps:

  • 1 stick of salted butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup (or molasses)
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tbsp brandy or cognac

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange juice or Cointreau

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. To start on the brandy snaps, place butter, sugar, syrup and brandy in a medium saucepan over low heat; cook and stir until butter is melted. Stir in flour slowly and mix until it’s smooth.
  3. To ensure consistency, use a measuring spoon for 1 tbsp of batter. Drop the batter about 3-4 inches apart on a lined tray. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.Keep an eye on the oven because everyone’s oven is different and these can go wrong so fast…I should know!
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to touch- about a minute or so. Gently peel the ‘biscuit’ from the tray and quickly wrap it around something with a tubular shape- a fat wooden spoon or cooking utensil, etc. If they get hard and uncooperative, pop them back in the oven for about 10 seconds and they’ll be pliable again.
  5. Allow the biscuit to cool around the mould and then gently remove and set aside.
  6. While the biscuits are cooling, start on the filling. Beat together butter, ricotta, cream, caster sugar, orange zest and orange juice/Cointreau until it’s smooth and glossy and beautiful. You want the cream to be light and fluffy.
  7. Get your piping bag ready! Pipe the filling into cooled brandy snaps just before you’re ready to serve them.
  8. Sit back and enjoy praise from husband while telling him how difficult they are to make and hinting you need a foot massage.
 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Devilish Desserts, Sinful snacks

 

Slow Cooked Chicken in White Wine & Rosemary Sauce

“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.” – Anonymous

I never thought it would happen, but somehow I turned into one of those people that love and stockpile wine.

If you had told me this during my tequila-soaked early twenties, I would have laughed and said something along the lines of “Wine is for old people… [hiccup]”.

Now, not only do I like to drink wine, but I’m cooking with it more than ever! My husband says this is bordering on alcoholism. I think he just needs to pour me another glass and shut the hell up!

Truthfully, I’m not a big drinker anymore, but I do enjoy my wine on ocassion, especially in cooking. Wine lends a beautiful flavour to sauces, hearty stews and marinades and almost any meat cooked in wine is delish and tender, melting in the mouth.

This recipe suits a dry white wine. I’ve made this with sweeter, fruitier wines like Moscato before, but the sweetness overpowers the dish, so I’d suggest a dry white. You can use red wine also, but since I break out in hives when I drink red, I stick to white!

When it comes to cooking to wine, it’s tempting to use the cheapo bottle you got as a birthday present from your mother in law  the neighbour you don’t like, but the better the wine, the better the taste. If you wouldn’t drink a glass of it, don’t pour it into your food!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Chicken Breasts, skin off (trimmed and cut into palm sized pieces)
  • 1 small brown onion, diced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a low heat, add onions and rosemary, cook it gently then remove it from the pan once it’s translucent and soft.
  2. Once you’ve removed the onion from the pan, turn the heat up high and drizzle with a little extra olive oil if required.
  3. Coat the chicken pieces in flour, add them to the hot pan, seal them quickly on both sides until they are browned. Toss in any excess flour from the bowl and cook it off to remove that floury taste.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the wine, enough to ensure the chicken is covered. Add the cooked onion and rosemary back into the pan.
  5. Cook on low heat, covered for about 40-45 minutes minutes, stirring occasionally or until the liquid has reduced and becomes thick. Alternatively, you can also pop a lid on this (if you’re using a casserole-type dish and pop it in the oven at 160C for about an hour) to let it marinate and cook gently in the beautiful wine.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley a few minutes before turning the heat off.
  7. Serve with lightly dressed salad greens or mashed potato.

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Delish Dinners, Luscious Lunches

 

Roasted Garlic & Dijon Mustard Mashed Potatoes

I live near potato farms which is just cruel considering I’m supposed to be low-carbing and avoiding the only things that make my life worthwhile- pasta, bread and….. potatoes.

I’ve always said I could eat potatoes everyday, in every which way, I just love them so much. Roasted, baked, mashed, boiled, fried- it doesn’t matter, I’d gobble it down.

So recently, with the New Year excesses behind me, I had been a good girl but a recent drive past the potato farm had me weak at the knees. All those beautiful, fresh potatoes, straight from the farms, caked in soil and smelling of the earth, I HAD to have some.

I picked up a huge 10kg bag of spuds and managed to wrangle it to the car (my daily exercise) and started plotting all the delish ways I was going to eat these babies.

One of my favourite foods is mash. I’m not gonna lie. Some of my winter dinners have consisted solely of mashed spuds and some gravy poured over the top.

This recipe is for anyone who is open to trying something new with their mash. For me, I had a hankering for roasted garlic and potatoes so I combined the two together. It’s delish, decadent and smells ever so seductive.

The slower and more gently you roast the garlic, the sweeter it will be so if time is on your side, get it started earlier in the day or use it leftover from another roasting session.

Also, if you have a potato ricer, you’ll get a smoother, more creamy mash.

Don’t laugh, but I had the leftovers today spread across some bread. A mashed potato sandwich. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Place the head of garlic on a tray lined with baking paper, generously drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes-1 hour, until golden, soft and fragrant. Allow the garlic to cool for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes. Do the ‘Prick Test’ (Don’t you wish you could do this with some men? lol) with a fork to ensure they’re cooked.
  4. Drain the potatoes and return back to the saucepan. Add the Dijon mustard, milk, butter and seasoning and mash over low heat until smooth.
  5. Once the garlic has cooled, peel off the outer skin and gently squeeze the gooey roasted garlic out of about 3-4 cloves. On a chopping board, smoosh it out with the back of a spoon until it becomes a smooth paste. Mix this in with the potatoes until well combined.

Use the leftover roasted garlic cloves to spread on toasted bruschetta or Ciabatta bread or even rub it onto some beef/steaks before cooking for your next dinner.

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Delish Dinners, Luscious Lunches

 

Peperonata

Lately, I’ve been joking with my Italian grandparents about how much I miss the ‘peasant food’ that they grew up with and the recipes they brought to Australia with them and in turned raised us to eat.

The food back then was so simple- my grandparents and parents were raised in a simpler time, where they had to be resourceful with the meat and vegetables they had and would sometimes have to stretch those meals over long periods of time.

And yet, some of their food is the most delicious! Simple recipes, with few ingredients and uncomplicated methods. Sometimes I wonder what the hell we are doing these days with all this deglazing, flambe-ing and tomato-rose garnishes- we need to go old school and just pick a couple of ingredients and cook them simply and season them properly! That’s it! There’s no magic, you won’t die of starvation and the food is healthy, fresh and delish.

Peperonata is one of those favourites. There are lots of variations depending on where you come from and the one I was raised with was a tasty concoction of slow cooked red capsicum, onions, wedges of potato and some peeled tomatoes. You can add basil, garlic and a bit of oregano for extra flavour too (I do, but my grandma won’t- in fact she’d disown me if she found out I was telling people to put them in it, sorry Nonna!).

This is delicious on it’s own with some crusty Ciabatta bread on one of those CBF days. It smells AMAZING while it’s cooking away, so if you’re having people over, they automatically think you’ve been working your butt off in the kitchen because it smells so damn good.

It’s versatile too. Without the potatoes, it would be good tossed through some penne with some Parmesan cheese, in a lasagna, alongside a beef or chicken dish or even as the basis for a good Cacciatore- just add some olives and a few other veggies, some more Passata and slow cook your chicken in it. Delish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 red capsicums, sliced into thick strips
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 bottle tomato passata/ 1 can peeled tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt, pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-based pot (non-stick preferred)- a Dutch oven, slow cooker or crock pot, cover and cook on low heat on the stove for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened significantly and the capsicums are soft and fragrant.
  2. Serve with crusty bread and a salad or as a side dish for beef or chicken.
 
 
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