Wednesday, October 19, 2016

538/1038 - Soft-centred chocolate puddings

My eldest quite randomly requested a mud cake last weekend and I decided that soft-centred chocolate puddings would be a close enough response. 

I have never made lava cake and so my anticipation of seeing oozy centres when we cut into our pretty little desserts was running way off the chart. 

Instead of six puddings, I decided to make only four. Largely to avoid the squabbles I just knew would ensue when my family of four had eaten their fill in the first sitting. Because I had messed with the pudding sizes, the required cooking time remained a bit of an unknown. The first pudding, which will forever be known as "failed test pudding", oozed in a splat on to the plate. As luck would have it, young boys quite like oozy, chocolatey sludge and so number one disappeared with said pudding and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. 

The remaining three went back into the oven and I promptly forgot about them. When I finally remembered to take them out, I was fairly sure I had overcooked them, but held on to a small glimmer of hope that the lava would still exist. The initial incision was videoed ... and let's just say the result was not at all worth sharing. 

The upside? The centres were only just cooked and so we got to eat the lightest, fluffiest, most wonderfully melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cakes we have eaten in a very long time. 

Even better was finding a use for the dehydrated strawberries I had made only a couple of days earlier. 

Win x 

(See, even a lose is a win!)

Monday, October 17, 2016

537/1038 - David's eggplant pickle

Pickling is not my favourite thing to do. When undertaking this recipe I discovered that I am definitely "waiting-for-pastry-to-chill" patient, but not "waiting for vegetables to pickle" patient! 

Sooooo....pickled eggplant. The pickling process was relatively easy, but I will confess to completing it in between many other tasks and leaving the red wine vinegar on the the eggplant for w-a-a-a-y too long. Unfortunately this meant that the final product was lovely, but slightly more "pickly" than I would have liked. 

I decided to serve the eggplant as a part of an antipasto spread for dinner, which was lovely in theory but actually ended up being a little rich for my taste. Too much oily fish, oily olives, oily eggplant and I ended up feeling full, but a little nauseous by the end. 

This is a really lovely recipe but I think the learnings for me were - 1) put a day aside and complete the pickling in an appropriate timeframe, and 2) When serving antipasto, add lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to the mix.

P.S - The family loved it so still calling this a win! x

Thursday, October 13, 2016

536/1038 - Blue cheese dressing for lettuce

My little family loves all food, but we have a special place in our hearts for cheese.

Blue cheese is certainly divisive in the general population, but I am pleased that of my family of four, 100% of us are firmly on the side of this smelly little delicacy. 

With a mid-week trek into the city to watch the socceroos planned, I thought a quick burger meal would be an appropriate pre-game option. 

This easy and fabulous blue cheese dressing was the perfect accompaniment to my home-made patties and incredibly peppery, garden-fresh rocket. An enormous pile of raw green beans were also consumed, each scooped heartily into this wonderful dressing. 

I halved the recipe and it still made a mountain! The small bowlful that is left will be added to the antipasto platter I plan to put together for dinner tonight. I am so organised food-wise at the moment I almost don't know myself x

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

535/1038 - Chinese crisp-roasted pork

Is it completely immodest to proclaim this the best pork belly I have ever eaten? 

I will admit I was sceptical. I have only ever created pork crackling one way and that is with olive oil and plenty of salt. This version has the belly boiled and dried before the skin is salted and the meat, marinated. It is then left uncovered in the fridge for a number of hours before being blasted in the oven. 

The only tiny thing I changed about the recipe was to turn my oven to full heat rather than 230°C for the first twenty minutes as we have found this the best way to get a great crispy crackle. 

Not only was the crackling UNBELIEVABLE, but the flavour of the meat was also mouth wateringly good. Soy sauce and garlic on pork; who knew? 

My husband is the master of crackle and my mini-chef has actually warned me that one bad crackle attempt and I will be immediately removed from pork duty! After serving this one up, I do believe I have earned his crackle related respect x

Saturday, September 10, 2016

534/1038 - Piña colada custard doughnuts

My mini chef unexpectedly picked out a pineapple as one of his market selections yesterday. It was an interesting choice given his rather intense dislike for most fruits! 

As such, I thought it best that I used some of said fruit in a recipe to prevent it from ending up in the chook bucket. Love, love loving the sound of piña colada custard, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and put it inside the doughnuts I had promised to make in lieu of the market variety. A promise borne from my dislike of waiting to be served almost every week...

I am aware that some people will question my spelling of the word doughnut, given that the more commonly used "donut" is more succinct and of course, easier to spell. There are two reasons I stick with the longer version of this word; 1) Given the choice I will always opt for the English, rather than the American spelling of words. Call it a nod to my ancestors. 2) Whilst the shorter form, "donut" has been around for some time, its popularity grew exponentially after the opening of Dunkin' Donuts in 1950. The fact that a massive fast food chain increased the popularity of this word is reason alone for me to avoid it at all costs! 

It was fortunate I searched for a doughnut recipe early in the day given that the batter required a minimum of six hours in the fridge...and that was before the 2+ hours of proving! 

It was Joanne Chang (of Flour Bakery in Boston) who provided me with the doughnut recipe and I liked it (they actually tasted like doughnuts) but think I will get a better result next time if I heat the milk a little before adding it to the yeast. I am kicking myself that I didn't go with my gut and do that this time but I am usually one to trust a recipe the first time I test it out. I can only assume that the yeast she uses is of better quality than mine which is why my doughnuts didn't quite prove to the expected height. 

I am pleased to report that we have leftover custard (hooray!) which will be used to enhance our fruity desserts over the next couple of days x

Our little market pineapple

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

533/1038 - Penne with truffles

We had dinner out with the family recently and as we were preparing to leave, my sister in law sidled over to me holding a very suspicious looking little package. Wrapped in glad wrap and with a layer of paper towel underneath, its strange appearance had me wondering. Once she shared with me the nature of its contents, she became one of my very favourite people. 

A truffle, given to them by a friend who owns a truffle farm, was now in my possession. My excitement could not be contained! 

Of course we did the obligatory "infuse the eggs with truffle" before we used it, storing two eggs in a container alongside our lovely little fungus for a couple of nights so as to get more bang for our buck, truffle wise. We poached the eggs and they were delicious, with just enough hint of truffle to make them a very special lunch indeed. 

That night it was truffle pasta for dinner, finished with a gorgeous melty gouda as I couldn't get my hands on a good Gruyere.

If you can get your hands on a truffle (or have a very generous sister in law), it is a highly recommended culinary experience. If not, try this recipe anyway with some lovely fresh mushrooms x

Truffle infused poached egg

Friday, September 2, 2016

532/1038 - Apple Charlotte

I am on a bit of a Spring roll with my posts at the moment... (See what I did there?)

With plenty of apples on hand and an overseas guest to impress, an Apple Charlotte was on the menu for a recent dinner party. 

I had made two loaves of bread that day and one of them turned nicely into the crust for this lovely dessert. I will be honest and admit I was too nervous to turn my Charlotte out on to a dish, instead serving a scoop to each guest with a serve of my husband's fabulous vanilla ice-cream. 

A tip for anybody else trying this recipe; coconut sugar is the bomb! I use it a lot and it was particularly wonderful with this dessert, adding a depth of flavour that was very well received. Our guest of honour does not readily hand out compliments, but this apple Charlotte received a big thumbs up. 

It MUST have been good! x

Thursday, September 1, 2016

531/1038 - Oxtail braised with black olives

More market fare...

Again it was the mini-chef's choice which has made it to the blog, but quite unintentionally! One of our favourite market butchers was telling us about his fabulous oxtail and my mini-chef was smitten, deciding then and there that oxtail was his must have for the week. 

It wasn't until we got home that I realised there was an entire chapter dedicated to these rather expensive little tails. So not wanting to waste one, it was straight into our first oxtail recipe, braised with black olives.

The recipe called for 6-8 tails to feed 6 people. I have no idea if we eat like birds or if the cow from which our tail was lopped was some kind of monster, but one tail was plenty for the four of us!

Dinner was sticky and delicious and we even had sauce and a few small pieces of tail left over for the following night. The leftovers were expanded by tipping the sauce and all of the lovely fat into a pan with a couple of tins of tomatoes and a huge pile of mushrooms and cauliflower.

Magnificent x

Sunday, August 28, 2016

530/1038 - Fennel-marinated fish

We are now four months into our Vic Market routine and still my favourite moment of each week is watching my mini chef select a new protein for us to cook. This gorgeous Kingfish was one such selection, and he gave it to me along with the instruction that it must be pan fried. 

I didn't mind at all, knowing that I would get to use my gorgeous filleting knife from Japan to take the fish apart. Smearing the fillets with fennel paste (blitzed in the Thermomix) was a wonderful idea and we all agreed that it definitely enhanced but did not overpower this beautiful fish. 

This recipe only appears in the original, orange-spined version of The Cook’s Companion, so my apologies for inspiring those who do not have access to the correct book!

One for you, Mum x

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

529/1038 - Gruyère tart

As I munch on the leftovers of this tart, it strikes me that this challenge has greatly enhanced the standard of food I serve up to my little family. This is not a result of the challenge teaching me to cook (although I am sure the extra practice has helped!) but instead, it is the number of recipes I aim to churn out on a monthly basis which has seen many weeknight dinners elevated from simple meat and three veg to fancy roasts and tarts. 

Something else this challenge has inspired is my love of making pastry. It is something I do now on a regular basis (sorry waistline) and I can't imagine wanting to buy frozen shortcrust ever again. Puff is another story of course...

According to my youngest, aka mini-chef, this tart was lovely but would have been better with bacon. Mind you, according to him, most things would be better with bacon! 

Another one down, nine cheese recipes to go x