Friday, December 13, 2013

Chocolate Pretzel Beer Toffee

I stumbled upon this recipe for Chocolate Pretzel Beer Toffee by The Beeroness.

I'm telling you now that if you want to make a homemade gift for that beer lovin' guy or gal in your life then this is the recipe.

In fact I don't even like beer but this toffee is incredible, the balance of flavours with the sugar, beer and butter just works.

The toffee is made with just that - beer (amber ale), butter and sugar (I used raw).
Its thick and glossy, then sets hard but not too hard.

The chocolate (70%) is melted with hot beer tipped over it. Mine did seize but I managed to rescue it with more beer!

Then top the chocolate with smashed pretzels.

Set in the fridge then cut into generous sized chunks.

I'm hoping the recipients are happy!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Duck, Lychee & Watermelon Salad , Kambrook Christmas Cooking Class and Chai Banana Blitz2Go Smoothie

Recently I was invited by Kambrook to a Christmas cooking course at The Hospitality Establishment.

It was a fun afternoon filled with food, cooking and eating, learning some new 'perfect for Christmas' recipes, and witnessing how Kambrook appliances can make it all go so smoothly.

Our hosts Tony and Garth were very knowledgeable and added so much to making the afternoon enjoyable.  
It was a very relaxed class where you could sit back and relax, or get involved in the cooking (like me!).

We cooked a four course meal: 

- beautiful fresh scallops cooked in the Kambrook electric frypan with a delicious thai dressing wizzed in a Kambrook Blender

- salad of duck, lychee and watermelon with the duck cooked in the Kambrook electric frypan and the dressing made in a Kambrook Processor

- tender roast pork cooked in the Kambrook Turbo Convection oven served with an amazing cauliflower puree made using Kambrook stick blender

- Christmas pudding cooked in the Kambrook Pressure cooker with brandy custard 

- and Christmas Inspired macarons made using the Kambrook electric mixer.

So the first of the recipes I have recreated at home is the duck, lychee and watermelon salad.
It is such a beautiful recipe using fresh ingredients, and can be done in a short period of time.
I'm not so sure how well received it would be if I cooked it for my family at Christmas as they don't usually eat duck, but if I could convince them to would be love at first bite.
Would your family like duck for christmas?

What I particularly like about this recipe is the addition of palm sugar praline, you smash into the dressing after you puree the base ingredients (garlic, ginger, eschallot, coriander roots, and chilli).
It took the dressing to another level, along with much lime juice balanced with fish sauce.

The duck component is breast simply seasoned with pepper and fish sauce, then pan fried skin side down for crispiness and then cooked on the other side. The resting of the duck after cooking is so important.

All the beautiful fresh salad ingredients of mint, coriander, lychees, and watermelon are tossed together, top with the sliced duck and pour over the dressing. 

Another great surprise on the day was the gift of a Kambrook Blitz2Go Blender.
I couldn't believe it!
It is a clever little thing too, where you add your ingredients directly to the bottle, screw on the blade then flip it upside down to blend in seconds.
Simply remove your bottle, swap the blade for a lid, and your ready to go.

This is my little Chai Banana smoothie recipe - blend a frozen banana with 1 cup chilled soy chai tea, a teaspoon of honey and a spoonful of natural yohgurt.
A perfect pick me up on a hot day.

I am so thankful to Kambrook for inviting me, and being so generous with the gift. 
Please do go check their facebook page, they share great stuff and have giveaways too.

I also wanted to thank The Hospitality Establishment for the great afternoon and the generosity of them allowing me to share their recipe.
They run many cooking classes, I would love to go back and do one if anyone is interested in joining me?

Duck and Watermelon Salad
(I have written it as on the recipe sheet provided)

4 duck breasts
8 lychees, peeled, halved, deseeded
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
100 g watermelon
1 large red chilli
2 eshallots
1 tbs crushed peanuts
20 ml fish sauce
pinch of black pepper

Slice duck skin, just to meaty part.
Marinate duck in pepper and fish sauce, sit for 10 mins.
Heat Kambrook frypan up until just smoking, lay duck breasts skin side down and cook for 8 mins. Turn over and cook for 6 mins. Remove from pan and rest for 6 mins uncovered.
Slice duck into small pieces.
In a large bowl mix lychees, mint and coriander leaves.
Slice watermelon into small pieces, slice eschallots and julienne red chillli.
Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.

Ingredients - Dressing
4 red chillies
1 knob ginger
2 eschallots
2 cloves of garlic
20 ml fish sauce
3 coriander roots
50g palm sugar
pinch white pepper
Juice of 8 limes

Method - Dressing
In the Kambrook food processor wizz chilli, garlic, pepper, ginger, eschallots and coriander root until a fine paste has formed.
Add palm sugar and wizz until sugar has dissolved.
Add lime juice.
Season with fish sauce, add small amounts and taste until desired balance is achieved.

Note: I added cucumber to my salad, and I used the palm sugar and peanuts to make a praline that was incorporated into the dressing, a method shown to us with the scallop dressing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ginger Brulee Tarts

When I saw A Table for Two post this recipe for Ginger Brulee Tarts as part of a monthly baking challenge I was in.
I love baking tarts and have been longing to try the famous Bourke Street Bakery ones, but hey the next best thing is to bake it yourself, right?

Really baking a tart is a simple thing.
Just start with the pastry. 
I have though discovered, that somewhere along the way I became really bad at following recipes.
I did not follow the recipe strictly, I used icing sugar instead of caster and I added an egg yolk to my pastry.

Just be gentle and patient with the pastry is my advice, mix it gently, rest in fridge, roll out, add to tin, rest again in fridge then prick (or use baking beads) and bake.

I used a well greased cupcake tin as my two favourite tart tins have come to the end of their lives.

The filling is really just a custard. 
Again, not following the recipe, I used milk not cream and it was lovingly infused with ginger, cardamon and cinnamon.

The milk is combined over heat with the egg yolks and sugar until a thickish custard is achieved.
Because I used milk, mine was really not going to set enough, so I poured it into my pre-cooked tart shells and popped them back in the oven for s short while until the custard set.

Once ready to eat I sprinkled over some sugar and used my mini little blow torch to make a crunch.

They were delicious, soft custard, the crunch of the toffee top, the depth of flavour from the spices, all incased in delicate pastry.

I'm even more excited to try the Bourke Street Bakery version - one day!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Roast whole stuffed pumpkin - Nigella Cookalong

I've been keeping an eye on Nigella's Cookalong and joining in when I can. When the November recipe was posted for Roast Stuffed Pumpkin I was excited.

I bought this beautiful pumpkin at the Orange Farmer's market.

The top is removed and the insides scooped out.

Nigella suggests this great idea where you half fill your pumpkin with rice in a freezer bag to determine how much you need, since all pumpkins are different sizes.

For the rice filling you soften some onion and then add cranberries, ground ginger and allspice, garlic, and zest.
My only real variation to the recipe was adding some chopped zucchini chunks, really my laziness so I could serve it up as a more complete meal without cooking extra veg!

The basmati rice is stirred in and then add stock, I used my homemade free range chook stock.
The lid is then popped on and the rice allowed to absorb the stock over low heat.

The inside of the pumpkin is rubbed with garlic and salt.

Fill it up with your rice filling, and push the 'lid' on top.

The bottom is wrapped in foil and hot water is added to a pan for roasting.

It is baked for a couple of hours and then it is oh so soft but yet fully intact.

Certainly an impressive table decoration, I am definitely going to cook it again for a dinner party.

The tender sweet roasted pumpkin was the perfect accompaniment for the rice filling, so flavoursome, especially those beautiful cranberries and the zucchini absorbing so much flavour.

Not to forget the gingery tomato sauce made to accompany the dish, I thought it tasted quite strange on its own but I couldn't get enough of it when eating with the pumpkin and rice.

Thank you Nigella for yet another amazing recipe!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baked Donuts

Recently I was immediately smitten with these Maple Pumpkin Donuts created by the brilliant Not Quite Nigella.
So much so I went straight out and bought a donut baking tin!

Its a great simple recipe that results in a fluffy delicious, basically guilt free, donut.

Two bowls - one with oil, eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin puree. 
I actually did not have enough oil so used half natural yoghurt. 
Mix together then add your second bowl of flour (I used whole spelt), baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Carefully add to your donut tin and bake.

I tipped them straight out of the tin, coated in cinnamon sugar and ate them hot.

They were delicious, everything I wanted them to be - a pumpkin pie donut!
The kids looooved them too.

I have also made a banana version, using the same recipe but substituting pumpkin puree for mashed banana. 
It was so good that I made it again but with a salted caramel filling....

They were delicious, the caramel added a whole other level of deliciousness.

I do recommend you bake them yourself :) check out Not Quite Nigella's recipe.