Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peppermint Ganache Cups and Bad Kitchen Habits

Sometimes I live on estimates. I wholeheartedly believe in keeping flexible and not worrying too much, but this attitude comes with a price. This is a very annoying trait in the kitchen. When I experiment with food, I throw in a dash of this and a pinch of that. I never know how it will turn out, but when it is finished and turns out to be a success I have a strange mixed feeling of joy and disappointment. Joy that I made something that was delicious, disappointment I wasn't more careful to note down what measurements I had used so I can replicate it and then share with you all.
There's another really annoying habit I have in the kitchen. Often I combine recipes to make something. For example, I might adapt a shortbread recipe and use it as a pie base, and use a topping from another recipe as the pie filling (eating the remainder of the goo because the recipe I borrowed it from gave me too much for the pie) and then topping it with an invention of my own which is a bit of this and a bit of that.
So sometimes its rather difficult to accurately write down the recipe in full, and I apologise for that. Usually I don't post those recipes for the reason they are too messy for the general cook. I would have to add notes such as "This recipe makes twice the amount of pie filling required for this pie, however, due to measurements, it is too difficult to only make half the mixture (unless you want to try using half an egg)".
So below, I apologise again for this recipe. I have no idea on the measurement for quantity of the chocolate used in the edible cups, nor the quantity of cups that will be made from the recipe. Yes, I did it again. I used half the ganache for another recipe. But I just had to share this anyway. Its so yummy and would be perfect for a late nibble after a dinner party.


300g good quality dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated
125ml (1/2 cup) light olive oil
2 tsp. peppermint essence
Store bought chocolate cups, or a good quantity of dark chocolate for homemade cups

Melt the chocolate gently in a microwave proof bowl, checking and stirring regularly to ensure it does not burn.
Set aside to cool slightly. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until well incorporated. Gradually add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture, beating well until smooth. Add the oil gradually while beating, and lastly, incorporate the peppermint flavouring. Refrigerate until firm.
If you are making your own chcolate cups you will need a good quantity of dark chocolate (I cannot tell you how much as I used half the ganache for another recipe so I have no idea how many this makes.
Melt the extra chocolate and paint the bottom and the sides of the aluminium foil cases. When set, pipe the firmed ganache into each cup with a large star nozzle. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe will make at least 20 ganache cups.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Almond Creme Anglaise with Galliano Amaretto

My husband was given a glorious bottle of Galliano Amaretto liqueur a few years ago. He has never been able to take to it, it has a very strong almond flavour. Ever since we opened that pretty bottle, I have been looking for other ways to use it. I am sure it would be lovely in a creamy cocktail, but there's so much of it to use!
When I discovered the The Secret Recipe Club and was assigned the the blog Samayal Arai, I was thrilled to see that this delightful page had a recipe I could use the liqueur in. Her recipe Almond Creme Anglaise not only sounds amazing, but tastes just glorious with those bright red strawberries dipped into it. For one, I am addicted to custard, and this creamy anglaise is so smooth, with that slight nutty taste to make it just that little bit fancier. You can use it as a fruit dip instead of chocolate for a lighter option in these warming spring months without feeling too weighed down...yet keeping that satisfying happiness of indulgence.


1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. custard powder
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. Galliano Amaretto liqueur (or 1/2 tsp almond essence)
Fruit such as strawberries to serve.

Separate the eggs.
Place cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan. Set the heat on medium and whisk until warm and the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the custard powder and yolks and continue to whisk. Whisk until the custard thickens but be sure not to let it boil as this may curdle the mixture. Remove from heat and set the saucepan in a few inches of cold water so as to cease the cooking process. Cool and add the liqueur to flavour. Serve with strawberries or a fruit of your choice.

NOTES: This recipe makes about 1 cup of creme anglaise. You can toast some almonds before you start the cooking process and add them to the milk and cream mixture at the beginning, removing them at the end, like Samayal Arai did in her recipe for that extra nutty flavour if desired.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Footy Fever Food

Well, Football Finals are just around the bend--not that it interests me too much this year, as Essendon miserably failed the last game they played in the semi finals. I still like to watch the grand final, regardless though. And there is no better time to get out the meat pies, the sausage rolls and all that footy fever food!
Believe it or not, I've never made sausage rolls before, and I guessed it was high time. I was impressed with the ease of the recipe and the end result. Who would ever settle for store bought sausage rolls after this?
Besides the amazing flavour, these sausage rolls freeze well and are great for an afternoon snack...or pop them in the kids lunchboxes! They'll love them.


500g lean mince beef
500g sausage mince
2 onions, finely chopped or grated
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. mixed herbs
1 tbsp. BBQ sauce
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180C. Line and grease two baking trays.
Combine sausage and beef mince, onions, 1 egg, garlic, sauces, parsley, breadcrumbs, mixed herbs and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix until incorporated.
Cut each thawed pastry sheet in half. Brush each piece with the remaining beaten egg. Using a teaspoon, spoon a portion of mince mixture down the centre of each piece of pastry.
Roll the pastry over the mixture and press the edges to seal, leaving the ends open. With a sharp knife, cut the sausage rolls into four, then place on the trays seam side down. Brush with egg and lightly score the tops diagonally with a sharp knife.
Place in very hot oven at 250C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with BBQ or tomato sauce.

Makes  24

NOTES: These are ideal for freezing and thawing as needed!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Way to a Woman's Heart

He looked at my sideways as we stood before the counter, and I knew this was about to be the worst date ever. "Have you got any money with you?"
Did I hear correctly? I hadn't ordered a main of lobster with an entree of oysters or something.
The silence was deafening as I reached for my purse in my hand bag. Why the heck did I bother to dress up... wear that flower in my hair...bother to put on the makeup and perfume...
Silently fuming and at the same time quite confused, I paid for my meal and we left the restaurant. I was sure he must have been feeling as embarrassed as I was, but he seemed cool, reaching for my hand and flashing me a smile. This was definitely not cool for a first date, especially when he had asked me out.
I will never quite look at risotto the same way again with that memory. I'm a traditional girl, I have certain expectations about the chivalry of men on a date. Is it too much to ask to be chased, wooed and wined and dined at the admirer's expense? I would have preferred for him to lie to me and say "Oh darn, I seem to have left my wallet at you mind? I'll pick up the bill next time I take you out."
Next time? Well. Lies or no lies, it was a terrible way to start a possible relationship.
Anyway, men take note. She'll be more impressed with a home cooked risotto instead of forking out for herself, if you don't happen to have the money to take her out at the time. There are numerous benefits in this...she will see you can cook, or are willing (even if it turns out not as expected), it will be about a third of the price if not less, and you will have the intimacy of your own home or your garden to woo her. Do I hear BROWNIE POINTS? Yes! A thousand times, yes.

Okay, this is not exactly risotto...I couldn't make myself go there. After five years, this is the first time I have spoken to anyone of the risotto date. But this recipe is as delicious and super easy and packed with flavour! (and it costs about $5 to make) Home cook this for her and you won't be sorry...

1 small onion, chopped finely
1 ½ cups uncooked rice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tin diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
½ cup grated cheese (more if desired)
A pinch of chilli powder if desired
Parmesan cheese to top
In a medium saucepan over a moderate heat, fry onion until soft. Add the rice, oregano, tomato, salt, chilli powder and water and stir to combine. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until little holes begin to appear in the surface of the rice. Remove from heat and sit until water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. (You may wish to add some more water and continue simmering a little longer if rice does not seem cooked through.) Stir through the grated cheese and serve, topped with a good helping of Parmesan cheese.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Passionfruit Melting Moments with "The Pudding"

My name is Benjamin, and once again, it is my pleasure to be a guest on mummy's cooking blog. You may remember me as The Pudding, but since evolving from a crawler to a walker, I am now not the tubby little guy I used to be.

Don't be fooled by my new svelte appearance...I am Mummy's right hand man in the kitchen. I do all the taste testing and licking of the spoon. I even get my hands in the thick of it all when Mum's not looking.
I don't like to brag, but I am a pretty awesome cook.
Mum always gets me to cook up something delicious, especially when her girlfriends are coming over for a cuppa. She said that when my new brother or sister comes I am going to have to cook dinner every night. Phew! and I'm only 16 months old.
Today I made Passionfruit Melting Moments, and they are so yummy and crumble away in your hands if you squeeze them too hard. I made a real mess while taste testing. So yum yum yum! And thirsty work too.

PASSIONFRUIT MELTING MOMENTS  (from The Essential Baking Cookbook)

250g butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup custard powder


60g butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 180C.
Beat butter and sugar together until combined and creamy. Then beat in the vanilla essence. Sift in the flour and custard powder and mix with a knife, in a cutting motion, forming a soft dough.
Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and lightly flatten with a floured fork. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool slightly on trays before transfering to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the filling, combine the butter, sugar and pulp in a small bowl and beat until thick and creamy. When the biscuits are cooled, pair together with the filling between.

NOTES: these biscuits last for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Makes about 15 pairs.

BEN'S TIPS: Make sure the dough balls are all the same size so they all match up in neat pairs at the end!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chocolate Jaffa Mousse

As you have probably noticed, I have a "thing" for miniatures...small pots of this, mini that...tiny little cakes.
I suppose that makes me Bridget Jone's mum: "another one of Mother's culinary triumphs...everything in miniature".
But there is something rather special about quaint edibles. They say "I look almost too cute to eat...but if you do, I won't add anything to your hips." Deceitful little devils. They look so good and you feel like you could eat a thousand of them, because they're so small.
I guess it attracts my feminine tastes and the size of my dessert stomach, which is significantly smaller than the other stomach. Those giant muffins you can buy in cafes never appeal to me, they always look so big and chunky...even if they are bursting with berries and white chocolate and screams of deliciousness.
Anyway, often there's a good reason things are smaller than usual. These little pots of Choc Jaffa Mousse would kill you if they were any bigger. Death by chocolate sounds good, but don't go there, you may regret it. These fellows are so delicious and smooth, its the closest thing on earth to heaven (I'm convinced). The thick, creamy, glossy goo is more like a ganache than the traditional airy and light mousse. You'll be hooked! Its the perfect way to finish off any meal and you're bound to receive loads of compliments. Its a winner every time.


300g good quality dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated
125ml (1/2 cup) light olive oil
2 tsp. orange essence

Melt the chocolate gently in a microwave proof bowl, checking and stirring regularly to ensure it does not burn.
Set aside to cool slightly. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until well incorporated. Gradually add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture, beating well until smooth. Add the oil gradually while beating, and lastly, incorporate the orange flavouring. Pour into individual bowls and cover with plastic. Refrigerate until set and serve.

Serves 6

Caramel Creme Cinnamon Puffles

There are some flavour combinations I could never get over. Coconut and lemon, chocolate and orange, sugar and cinnamon, or that never tiring, ever fresh strawberries and cream duo. Alright, I believe the strawberry theme has been overdone on here of late, and this one soon is to be also. Why can’t I stop using custard? Just about everything goes with custard! And now that I have proudly perfected the little rascal, I am in fits of indulgence eating it all the time, and dreaming up things to put it in or on or amongst.
Now the other day and lovely lady asked me what the devil to do with a bottle of caramel essence. It reminded me of last week when my husband and I came across chocolate essence in the supermarket and we both laughed. What on earth would you want chocolate essence for?
So since being asked  for ideas on how to use caramel essence, I went out and purchased some and began thinking, thinking. Google was no help what so ever. So my mind had to do some work for once. I deduced that the answer to these mystifying essences was super simple. Sometimes, you want the flavour but the textures won’t mesh. For example, if you had a quantity of caramel and wanted to make a caramel mousse for dessert, the textures may clash and you might end up with a disaster on your hands. And sometimes you want the flavour without the bother of making a pot of caramel goo, just for caramel icing for those gorgeous little cupcakes. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like the real thing, but an essence is a time saver, a shortcut, and a tasty one at that. And its safe.
So, add that caramel essence to anything you wish. You can substitute it for vanilla essence in any recipe for a different twist, in slice bases, in cakes, in icing in desserts. I'm looking forward to adding it to fudges, mousses, jellies and biscuits. Any one else got some fabulous caramel essence ideas?

A little smaller than golf balls and of course, a hundred times tastier!


1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
90g unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup plain flour
2 eggs
3 cups vegetable oil

Put sugar and cinnamon in a baking tray and combine. Put milk and butter in a medium pan and cook, stirring over a low heat until the butter has melted (do not boil). Add flour and stir until mixture forms a ball. Transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until completely combined. Put mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Heat the oil over a high heat. Pipe blops of mixture into the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the balls float to the top and are golden. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to the sugar and roll until well covered.

2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp corn flour
40g butter
1 tsp caramel essence
To make the custard, bring milk to the boil. At the same time, in a separate saucepan, combine yolks, corn flour and sugar together and whisk over a low heat until the milk boils. Add a splash of boiled milk to the yolk mixture and begin to whisk vigorously. Gradually add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk constantly, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and immediately scrape the custard into a bowl and place in a basin containing a few inches of cold water. Add the butter in 3-4 installments. Add caramel essence to flavour. Cool.
Peirce each cinnamon ball with a knife. You will notice one side of each ball has an air pocket. This is the side to pierce. Fill a piping bag with the custard and pipe into each hole. Serve.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Raspberry Jelly Cheesecake Slice

There’s something about jelly I just cant resist. I know, it’s just plain old ordinary jelly, but it fascinates me in ways I can’t describe. There’s something about the vibrancy, the texture, the way it can easily be made plain or fancy, the way the light falls through it, the way it sets. Gelatine…one of the wonders of the cooking world. I love it! And you won't have to worry about adding layers to your hips. Jelly has to be just about fat free! No guilt in diving into a bowl of this stuff!
So I’m bringing back an old family favourite once more, and changing it a little to add my own touch. 
You will just love this slice. It has a beautiful moist base that a friend described as “apple crumble-like”, topped with creamy lemon filling and then again with a layer of red raspberry jelly. It has a certain cheesecake taste and creaminess between the jelly and the base without the heaviness, and looks adorable when cut into squares. 
So here you are, ladies who wanted more slice recipes. This one is simple and gets compliments all around, every time, and is perfect for just about any occasion.



1 cup Self Raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
125g butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla essence


1/2 can (200g) sweetened condensed milk
2 lemons, juiced
2 tsp. unflavoured gelatine
3/4 cup boiling water


1 packet raspberry jelly
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat the oven at 180C. To make the base combine flours and sugar in a bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla, and stir until well combined. Using a metal spoon or fork, press the mixture very firmly into a greased 18 x 20 dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

While waiting for the base to cool, make the lemon filling. Place the boiling water into a small bowl and gradually shower the unflavoured gelatine into it so that it does not clump. Stir until dissolved. Add the lemon juice and condensed milk and stir until well combined. Pour over the cooled base and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set.

When the lemon layer is firm, take the raspberry jelly crystals and combine with the boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved and sit aside to cool for 15 minutes. Gently pour the raspberry jelly liquid over the lemon layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set.
Cut into squares and serve.

NOTES: Occasionally the jelly layer may escape down the sides of the base before it sets. To avoid this, firmly compact the base before cooking, and leave a lip of base mixture around the edges of the baking tray. (you can see from some of the pictures that I learned the hard way! it was still delicious though!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Moscato, Strawberry and Cream Dessert Cakes

Somehow I feel that if I use alcohol in cooking, it doesn’t count as drinking. Not that I’m opposed to alcoholic beverages…oh no, not me! I love my glass of vino with my meal and a few more to celebrate when the occasion calls. But being pregnant, one hears a lot of conflicting stories about what one should and shouldn’t steer away from. I don’t believe a drink here and there is harmful during pregnancy…I have even heard of an obstetrician telling a pregnant woman to go home and have a whiskey.
My midwife would keel over right now  and the pregnant women at my class would probably go into labour on the spot out of anxiety if I were to mention this at the group sessions I attend. Can you believe the last discussion we had (THEY had) at the group was about avoiding any baked goods containing vanilla essence? Apparently some of the more authentic versions have the tiniest smidgen of alcohol in it, or used to. These women (and the midwives for that matter) were talking about not partaking in any goods containing the little vanilla essence that we find in most delicious foods.
I have never seen any recipe containing more than a teaspoon or two of this stuff…and the variety bought at the local stores is completely artificial anyhow (no alcoholic content in sight). Seems ridiculous to me. I have been enjoying a small white wine every so often since my first trimester left me. Truth be told I don’t really feel the desire for that sip anymore. But when I do, let me have my few mouthfuls.
What to steer away from while pregnant: over the top paranoid dietitians and those who follow them.
What not to steer away from: these delicious Napoleon-inspired dessert cakes made with sweet Moscato wine, filled with delicious vanilla custard and topped with lashings of whipped cream, crispy pastry and divine cuts of strawberry. Go on, you deserve it! You know you do!

(Adapted from The Silver Palate and inspired by Sonja's Cupcakes)

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup light olive oil
½ cup Moscato or other sweet white wine
1 cup Self Raising flour
¼ cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla essence
½ sheet puff pastry, thawed
100g fresh strawberries
150g cream, whipped
Vanilla bean dusting sugar (or powdered icing sugar)

2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp corn flour
40g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence

Set the oven at 175C. Beat the sugar and the eggs until well combined. Add the oil, wine, flours, salt and essence, and beat on high for one minute.
Divide the mixture into 8 large muffin/patty cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Remove from oven and cool.
Meanwhile, cut the puff pastry into several strips and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 20-30 minutes until puffy, crisp and golden. Cool.
To make the custard, bring milk to the boil. At the same time, in a separate saucepan, combine yolks, corn flour and sugar together and whisk over a low heat until the milk boils. Add a splash of boiled milk to the yolk mixture and begin to whisk vigorously. Gradually add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk constantly, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and immediately scrape the custard into a bowl and place in a basin containing a few inches of cold water. Add the butter in 3-4 installments. Add vanilla essence to flavour. Cool.

Remove the centres of each cooled cupcake with a knife. Fill the holes with custard to the brim of each cake. Top with layers of whipped cream, slices of strawberry, broken pastry and lastly, a good sprinkling of vanilla bean dusting sugar.