May 31, 2008

good food & wine show

Yesterday C., G. and I spent a lovely day at the Good Food & Wine Show at Jeff's shed. We all had lots of tastes and samples and each ended up with a big heavy bag of edible goodies. How envious we were of all the clever people who brought their shopping trolleys!

There were lots of great food and wine exhibitors to talk to...

and lots of great ideas...

Gorgeous gifts at Edible Blooms.

Tastes and recipes from Brookfarm macadamia products.

Exceptionally good chocolate from Loving Earth.

G. had to leave early but C. and I had a very nice relaxed lunch at the Lindemans Early Harvest Restaurant...

I had Peter Evans' delicious Chicken larb salad (recipe provided!) and a glass of Lindeman's Early Harvest Crisp Dry White...

while C. had his Prawn on an avocado stack and a glass of Lindeman's Early Harvest Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.

And we signed up to do a French Macaroon class at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in July. All in all a very pleasant day...we'll definitely be going back next year - with trolleys!

May 28, 2008

nanaimo bars

I noticed I still had an old recipe for Nanaimo Bars when I was looking for the one for Lattice slice the other week. Like the Lattice slice, I used to make these bars back in the 80's for afternoon teas at various playgroup/kinder/Mothers' Club meetings. Then yesterday I came across this post on the wonderful Cakespy blog, and that gorgeous photo made my mouth water. So of course I had to make a batch right away. My recipe is almost exactly the same :
Nanaimo Bars
2 cups crushed digestive biscuits ( I used McVitie's)
125 unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup insweetened cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup coconut
1 egg, lightly beaten.
1/4 cup sugar (I intentionally left this out as the other layers are very sweet)

Preheat oven to 170C. Mix all ingredients together and press into a non-stick paper-lined tin measuring approx. 27cms x 17cms. Bake 15 mins. Cool slightly. While base is baking, make the filling:

125 g unsalted butter
2 cups icing sugar
2 T custard powder
2 T milk
1/2 t vanilla extract

Cream all ingredients together until light and fluffy. Spread over cooled base. Refrigerate while making the topping:

180g dark chocolate
60g unsalted butter.

Melt together in a heat-proof bowl over boiling water. Stir until smooth and spread over top. Chill until set and cut into bars to serve.

May 22, 2008

no-stir risotto

I love risotto, and never minded making it on the stove top with all that stirring. But after I discovered this recipe in delicious a couple of years ago I realised I had never really cooked it properly. Mine had always been slightly al dente, whereas with this method the rice is really creamy. Now I always adapt different risotto recipes to use this oven method.

I lashed out and bought this gorgeous Le Creuset pot especially, and it's perfect for risotto-for-two.

This recipe makes a creamy but fairly dry risotto, so if you prefer yours sloppier (and more authentically Italian?) then you'll need to add more liquid.

And there's only one pot and one baking tray to wash up afterwards.

May 21, 2008

slice in a hurry

I received an email yesterday afternoon apologising for the short notice but asking choir members to bring a plate of something to have with supper after rehearsal. This slice was all the rage 30 years ago at our Mothers' Club meetings. It's a breeze to make and tastes like a little slice of cheesecake. I just had to pop out and buy the Lattice biscuits (boy am I going to miss the IGL down on the corner when we move) and they were done in 15 minutes.

Lattice Slice

1 pkt Lattice biscuits

125g cream cheese - straight from the fridge and cut into cubes

125g butter (softened by cutting into cubes and microwaving a few seconds on low)

125g caster sugar

2 t gelatine dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water

1/2 t vanilla extract

First dissolve the gelatine in the hot water, then pour mixture into a fresh (cold) cup or glass and stand in a bowl of cold water to cool quickly. Blend together cream cheese, butter and sugar in food processor until smooth, scraping sides once. Add cooled gelatine mixture and vanilla down the feed tube and process a few seconds until combined. Put bowl in fridge while doing the next step. Lay out half the Lattice biscuits in a foil lined tin. Don't worry if some of them are broken, they can be hidden underneath to serve. Spread the cream cheese mixture over and top with the remaining biscuits. Refrigerate until firm, separate carefully and cut in half with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

May 18, 2008

wintry night food

Friday was a sunny and mild 20 degrees in Melbourne, but yesterday winter arrived with a vengeance. The temperature only got to 10C and it rained most of the day. It was my turn to take the entree to a dinner party last night so it had to be both comfort food to suit the weather, and be easy to transport.

These delicious fool-proof souffles were perfect. The recipe came from an English magazine a few years back. I've made them quite a few times and they always turn out perfectly. They can be completed to the end of step 4 up to a day ahead, then baked when you're ready to serve them.

Twice-baked Cheese Souffles (serves 6)

300ml milk

1/2 small onion, studded with 1 clove

40g butter plus extra for greasing

40g plain flour

75g each of good cheddar cheese and gruyere cheese, grated and tossed together

1 t wholegrain mustard

pinch nutmeg

3 egg yolks

4 egg whites

200ml thickened cream

2 T grated parmesan

parsley sprigs, to garnish

1. Put the milk in a small pan with the onion and bay leaf. Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 min. Remove the onion and bay leaf. Preheat the onion to 180C.

2. In another pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Remove from the heat, then gradually stir in the infused milk. Return to the heat and stir constantly until thickened and just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat then add 125g of the cheese and the mustard. Season well and add a good pinch of nutmeg, then beat in the egg yolks.

3. Butter six 150ml ramekins thoroughly. Put the kettle on to boil. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the cheese sauce. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, then put them in a roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 15-20 min until set and golden. Remove from water bath and leave to cool.

4. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, then carefully turn the souffles out on to a buttered oven proof dish.

5. Increase oven to 200C. Season the cream, then pour it over the souffles. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and parmesan and bake for 15 - 20 mins. until the cream is bubbling and the souffles have risen. Remove with a palette knife and serve immediately, garnished with parsley.

May 2, 2008

cafe zum zum

We've been trying to eat at Rumi for ages but keep leaving it too late to get a table. We were hoping to go last night for Nick's birthday but didn't phone them until the beginning of this week and once again they were booked out. So we went to Cafe Zum Zum instead, and weren't disappointed as the food was fantastic. The Age Good Food Guide scores it at 13 out of 20 compared to Rumi's 14.5 so Rumi must be pretty outstanding. Between the 5 of us we had 5 entrees and 4 mains which was probably one dish too many - but the food was so delicious there were no leftovers.

First up were the dips - the usual middle eastern ones and all very good.

Next - probably my favourite - was a warm chickpea salad with yoghurt and tahini dressing with squares of toasted Arabic bread through it - very very good.

Next were two lots of pastries. First crispy feta and mint triangles

followed by fat rolls filled with lamb and pinenuts and drizzled with pomegranate essence.

The first main was Moroccan lamb with Ras el hanout and saffron rice

Next was Harissa chicken with chick peas and almond rice

then prawns marinated in coriander and chilli with cous cous.

Next was my favourite of the main courses - snapper with tahini sauce

and lastly lamb shish kebabs with saffron rice and tahini dressing. We were all much too full to have dessert so will have to do that next time. And there definitely will be a next time.