Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vanilla Pannacotta with Grilled Figs & Sticky Toffee Pecans

Sorry about the lack of photos for this one, was concentrating on too many things at once, and it's too overcast to easily get a sharp photo today!! 

Homemade Tacos with Spicy Pulled Beef

I'm back on the Mexican bandwagon, with tacos galore and soon to make a black bean soup. Normally i think of tacos, burritos and the like as an awesome fast food. Grill up a chicken fillet, or even just combined refried and kidney beans, stuff them into a tortilla and you have an easy meal. But this time, i tried something different...

I made my own corn tortillas. And it was interesting to try. But i sure as heck wouldn't wanna do it for a hoard of people without my own tortilla press and staff of assembly line workers. But, if you're interesting in cooking as much as i am, give it a shot. You can experiment with extra ingredients too, or even get a hold of blue masa.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beef Vindaloo

I'm not someone who goes crazy about hot food. I like it, but i don't crave the spice; i crave the taste behind the heat. And as such, the reason i love vindaloo is not because of the fiery heat that sears your tastebuds, but the sharp tartness of the vinegary sauce cutting through the fatty meat.

Baked Caramel Cheesecake

Cheesecake is definitely my favorite type of cheesecake. Once upon a time, there was nothing nicer to do than saunter down to Cafe Greco and sit out the front, cigarette in in one hand, the other hand interchanging between a cup of espresso and a fork to shovel delectably gooey cheesecake into my mouth.

So okay, now i don't live a lazy saunter's distance from cafe greco. And i don't smoke. But. Cheesecake. Will. Not. Die. And it's a fantastic excuse for using the second half of my dulce de leche, and to win over my family at dinner tomorrow. I hope they don't mind that i took a chunk out of it.... for photographic purposes *gulp*.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Charred Bananas on Cocoa Poffertjes with Dulce De Leche

Or grilled nanies with tiny chocolate pancakes and milky caramel! 

A background:

Ladyfinger bananas, also known as sugar bananas are smaller variety of banana which are incredibly sweet, perfect for use in desserts. They are a bit more expensive, but worth it!
Poffertjes are tiny pancake pillows, originating from Holland.
Dulce de leche is a spanish milk based sauce tasting like a milky caramel. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Salade Aux Lardons

My mission for tonight was to eat something healthy, considering the recent spate of fatty foods i cooked (and an attempt today to bake a cake containing 20 egg yolks... did not work so well!). When one says healthy, one's mind immediately gravitates towards salad. Unfortunately, mine gravitated towards salade aux lardons.

Mission failed.

Lardons are slices of smoked pork belly, but you can use a good bacon like it did. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shu Mai

I haven't been to proper yum cha in soooooo long. And despite lots of delicious food at the Langham buffet i went to this week (chocolate Naan anyone?), the shu mai were mushy and flavourless. Remedy: make my own!

To be honest, one might say i've never had much luck making dumplings. One new year i made pot stickers which stuck irrevocably to the pot, and a mushy, squishy shu mai, and have made xiao long bao that, despite being tasty, looked and had a texture more akin to steamed pork roll. Since then i've learnt that shu mai filling should never see the inside of your food processor! And with these shu mai, i didnt have to worry about getting the dumpling skin right.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Five Spice Duck with Sweet Potato Puree and Cherry & Shiraz Jus

I think my favorite meat is duck. My favorite food is definitely Peking Duck. And whenever i see it on the menu, i'll order the duck. This is the first time i've ever cooked it! I was very happy to find the skin quite crispy, though i would have liked the fat to render a little more. I suppose that it would be difficult to render too much fat from this method of cooking though; more time would be needed.

I was surprised when i cut open my sweet potato to find a purply white colour on the inside! Most sweet potatoes i buy are the orange variety; i learnt my lesson! The grey colour of my mash is perhaps not so appealing as i was looking for.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Simple Strawberry Mousse

I'm not sure if this is exactly the same as mum used to make, but it sure tastes like it! The flavour of ripe strawberries really comes through in this mousse, so it's best made in summer when the strawberries are at their peak. You can use this mousse to make strawberry royale, a decidedly 70's dish that i'll endeavour to make shortly.

Slow Cooked Rabbit in Red Wine on Sage Polenta & Wilted Spinach

On Thursday i was wandering around Camberwell Market, checking out what sort of crabs the fishmongers usually stocked. On my way out, i wandered past one of the poultry sellers and noticed they sold rabbit! No idea what to do with it, i thought heck i'll figure that part out later, and bought one.

I came home, sure that i've seen bazillions of recipes for rabbit before. But after flicking through my cookbook, i was wrong! The one recipe i could find, that seemed appetizing, was a stifado- which i cooked using beef cheeks only a couple of months ago!

Thankfully i found a trend of slow cooking the rabbit in wine. So i pulled together this and that from the various recipes i came across, and came up with something a bit fancy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hoppin' John with Masa Cornbread

Come sit a spell whilst i cook up a storm of good ol' fashioned Southern hospitality. Hoppin' John is a traditional American New Year's soul food from the deep south. Technically if you eat it the day after the 1st January, it would be called Skippin' Jenny. Can someone tell me what to call it when you eat it on the 6th??

Well slap me on the head and call me silly, this dish is meant to be good luck to eat in the new year! And shoot, i reckon it sure is satisfying, and pretty darned cheap too. Authenticity be damned, you should use black eyed peas but as i could not source any, i've used harricot (white) beans in lieu. You could really use any beans you like, just don't use canned ones as they ain't worth a plugged nickel.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gnocchi With Burnt Butter & Sage

I've been meaning to cook this one for ages! Ever since i made that gnocchi in fact; which has been sitting in my freezer.

This sauce needs to be accompanied by a special sort of pasta. No spaghetti or penne here please. It is a sauce for gnocchi, agnolotti, or tortellini. The first time i had this was with a ricotta and prosciutto ravioli at Grossi Florentino's cellar bar. And i was in love.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Slightly Special Mango Puddings

Rule number one of yum cha: always save room for mango pudding.

After stuffing myself silly on siu mai, har gow and xiao long bao (if i'm lucky) at one of Melbourne's yum cha restaurants (Shark Fin & Red Emperor being my favorites to date), light, creamy, yet not rich, mango pudding is the best way to end the meal. But what if you didn't gorge yourself with yum cha? What if you wanna take it up a notch!

Well... here's my attempt.

Lemon Curd Tart

Mmm i made this for my dad's birthday on Christmas eve. Once again i cheaped out and bought a premade flan base; they're just so easy!! Admittedly though, they do not taste as nice as a home made pastry base. I promise i will make one this year!!

So as i bought the base pre-made this post is really more of a 'how to make lemon curd' post. Lemon curd is not limited to lemon tarts. You can use it on scones with cream, you could add it to icecream (Maggie Beer does an exception lemon curd icecream), use it as a layer on a sponge cake, or just eat it on bread like jam. Remember though that it does not last like jam does; this stuff will only keep a few weeks and MUST be refrigerated.

Retro-Stylin' Tuna & Chickpea Bites

Okay so returning to my cupboard-emptying recipes finally! This one was a jackpot. I cleared my cupboard of 3 little cans of tuna and the remnants of a packet of dried chick peas. I was even going to chuck in a can of cannelini beans but the chickpeas swelled to be more than i expected so i didn't need anything else.

I think these bites would go really well inside of a wrap, in lieu of falafel.

  • 1 large onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 large carrots, chopped roughly
  • 1 large bunch coriander, chopped roughly
  • 300gm canned tuna, drained
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, left to soak overnight. 
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Yogurt and lemon wedges to serve with.

Essentially; chuck all the ingredients in a food processor and blend blend blend!
For a more scientific approach, and to ensure even food processing, do the following:
Add garlic, onion, coriander, and carrots to processor first and blend until finely chopped.

Then add the chickpeas and tuna and do likewise.

Then add the flour, spices, seasonings and eggs and process one last time.

Scoop the mixture into large tablespoon sized balls and place on a lined baking tray.

Cooking in the oven at 180 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden and crunchy on the outside.

Enjoy with yoghurt and lemon.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Basic Pizza Dough & Sauce

Confession: I actually love Pizza Hut's pizza crusts. It's almost as though they are deep fried! Golden, fluffy, crispy, mmm it's the only good thing about Pizza Hut since they stopped the $4.95 all you can eat kids meals.

Alas, i have no idea how to make their pizza bases. If i did, i would probably freak out at the calorie content or some strange and horrifying ingredient used. So instead, i thought i'd post my standard pizza base recipe which has come through a few renditions.


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