Friday, January 14, 2011


This month the Daring Cooks are making Cassolet. Which is a huge pot of meat slow cooked in fat and then mixed with beans and cooked again. It is a classic French dish but I piked out and didn't make it. I did do a slow cooked vegie casserole. No fat involved. I will not maintain my weight loss with food like this and G won't eat it at all so I just couldn't face it here in the middle of Summer. I might make it in the middle of winter when the kids are all coming for dinner. They'll love it.

Recipe Sources:
Cassoulet by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman as featured on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008
Thirty Minute Cassoulet by Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way, KQED
Chicken Confit (Using Olive Oil) by Emeril Lagasse, via Food Network
Garlic Confit from Saveur, Issue #129
Leek Confit by Molly Wizenberg, as seen in Bon Appetit

Blog Checking Lines: Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
You can go to the Daring Kitchen and have a look at it if you want too but I couldn't stand the thought of it at the moment.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Daring Cooks October 2009 Challenge: Macarons

When I made Lemon and Passionfruit Curd I ended up with a lot of egg whites. The recipe calls for 9 egg yolks and 3 whole eggs so I knew I was going to end up with 9 egg whites.
I would really like to cook all the Daring Kitchen Challenge recipes so this seemed the ideal time to start with the Macarons. Macarons are so popular at the moment. They are supposedly difficult to make so I think I got really lucky. Ami of LAMonkey Girl used a claudia Fleming recipe that has a yeild of 120. I decided to use the recipe from "The MasterChef Cookbook volumn 2".
Callum has a recipe in there for Chocolate Delice served with Almond Macarons. They look lovely in the book and on the show. Other recipes are really complicated but this one is easy but a bit too sweet.
I used hazelnuts instead of almonds. I changed the amount of icing sugar in the recipe below from the original. The original recipe has double the amount of sugar and were too sweet for us and my taste testers at work. Ami of LAMonkey Girl hosted the Macaron challenge. The Daring Kitchen recipe has much less sugar but makes a larger amount. Mine made 60 halves so when they were sandwiched I ended up with 30.

Hazelnut Macarons


120 grams ground hazelnuts
215 grams icing sugar
3 egg whites (Room Temperature)
55 grams caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon creme of tarter
(There was supposed to be a drop of red food colouring but I left it out)

Preheat the oven to 120° C.
Sift the nut meal and icing sugar three times. (My nut meal was too coarse even after blitzing in the food processor so I only sifted it once).
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar, cream of tarter and food colouring. Whisk to stiff peaks. Fold in the nut/sugar mix until just combined (don't overmix).

Spoon into a piping bag with a plain 1 cm nozzle. Pipe 3cm rounds 3 cm apart onto 2 oven trays lined with bakepaper.

The recipe says it makes 40 I got closer to 60. Leave for 20 minutes and then bake for 30 minutes or until the macarons are easily moved on the paper. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray to cool.

I should have smoothed the tops more, it wasn't so obvious without my glasses that I still had a little peak on some of them. Oh well next time. They taste great.

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream

1 egg white
55 grams sugar
1 teaspoon liquid glucose
60 grams butter
60 grams chocolate

Combine sugar, glucose and 2 tablespoons water in small saucepan.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover with a lid and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and cook the sugar to 244 degrees, F.

While your syrup is boiling, whip the whites on medium speed of your stand mixer to soft peaks. This is a timing issue, so watch them carefully. If you overbeat your whites before your syrup reaches temperature, they'll be grainy. Adjust the speed of the mixer up or down and try and get your whites to the perfect consistency at the same time your sugar reaches 244F.

When the syrup is ready, with mixer on medium low, pour syrup in a thin stream down the inside of the mixing bowl. This will give the syrup a chance to cool off a bit as well as keeping the syrup from getting spun all over the sides of the mixer by the whisk attachment.

Turn mixer to high and whip until whites are completely cool and hold firm peaks.

Add the softened butter, a bit at a time making sure one addition is blended in before adding the next. After the butter add the cool melted chocolate and whisk until it is smooth and thoroughly incorporated. It might look a little curdled but just keep the mixer going and it will smooth out into a silky delight. Refrigerate to set and then pipe with a star nozzle onto half he macarons or jsut spread it on with a knife. You can leave a gap in the middle and fill it with your favorite jam.
I froze some of the filled macarons and they freeze beautifully and we eat them straight out of the freezer. The buttercream softens in our Australian heat and is a bit messy to eat. I will definitely made these again perhaps almond next time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going out to Eat

We went out for lunch yesterday. I had a superior Mediterranean Vegetable and Chicken Salad. I should have taken a photo but I was nearly finished it before I remembered. Well about to give the rest to G as I had eaten all the chicken and he cleaned up the rest.
I devoted some day dreaming time today to where I would really like to have a meal. If I could go anywhere I would go to Bill Jones’s place and let him cook for me. I’d even wash up. It is most likely not the top of most peoples wish list for meals but I really like the man, his cooking and his principles
What does make a great meal. Fantastic food of course but just as importantly is the place and the people. I would love to go to Paris and visit Le Bristol restaurant of chef Éric Frechon. Then on to Bernard Pacaud at Restaurant L'Ambroisie for a 3 Michelin Stars meal or to The Fat Duck Restaurant, so I could sit in the kitchen and watch Heston Blumenthal create and then eat it of course.
Truthfully though if I could choose only one then Vancouver Island here I come. Vancouver Island is one of the places I would most like to go too. I love the sea, the smell of ocean and open space after the rain and of course to just watch the water. A natural extension of that is my deep affection for islands especially when they have great food.
So it is that I will sit here and day dream of winning Lotto or perhaps get a job as a writer for Gourmet Traveller. You know something along the lines of Grey Nomad Travels. Then as soon as possible it will be a plane and off to Vancouver Island and British Columbia. G doesn’t want to go out of Australia so I just have to find someone to tag along with me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lemon and Passionfruit Butter/Curd

In our house we, G and I, have a deep and abiding love of Lemon Butter. So much so that I will buy a small jar at the Farmers Market and happily pay $6.00 for it. Curd is a time consuming thing to make so I felt that the price was worth it.
On Junior MasterChef on of the twins made Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. I had to have them so I made a batch. Just before starting on her lemon curd recipe I remembered the recipe my mother gave me that my Grandmother used to make. She didn't use a double boiler just cooked it on a low heat and watched it carefully.
Before starting I thought "Self why not melt the juice, butter and sugar together and then beat it into the egg yolks and then put it back on the heat....So I did and it worked.
That batch was wonderful. I had to try it again to make sure it wasn't just insanely good luck.
I was going to make Lemon Curd Pie and put the passionfruit on the top but decided to put the passionfruit in it.
It is addictive.
I am eating it with a spoon straight out of the jar. I will not be stopped. Be grateful I am giving out this recipe. I was so tempted to just hog it to myself.

Lemon and Passionfruit Curd
This curd is made in a pot on direct heat. Have the heat as low as possible or use a double boiler after adding the eggs. Heat to between 75° C(170°F) on your sugar thermometer.
Water in the double boiler should be just simmering and not touch the top pot or bowl.

1 cup lemon juice
½ cup passionfruit pulp
300 grams butter
1 ½ cups (330 grams) white sugar
Grated lemon rind
3 eggs
9 egg yolks


Wash, drain and preheat your jars in 100° Celsius oven for at least ten minutes.

Zest or finely grate the rind from enough lemons to make the 1 cup of juice.

Heat lemon juice, passionfruit, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and simmer until butter and sugar has melted.

Whisk the eggs and yolks until smooth. Continue whisking and pour the melted butter,sugar, juice,rind mixture into the egg and yolks. Return to the pot and cook over very low heat, whisking continuously until mixture becomes thick and just coats the spoon or is at a temperature of 75° C on your sugar thermometer. Strain into stainless steel bowl.

While the jars are hot put hot curd into the jars. Fill to within 1 cm of the lid. Put the lids on tightly immediately. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. Some of the lids will not vacuum seal. Use these first.
Makes approximately 6 cups curd.

Vary amount of lemon juice and passionfruit or change to another citrus. Do not exceed total of 1 ½ cups juice. If it is not as lemony as you like add 1 drop of natural lemon oil stir and taste, repeat until it tastes as you like.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Cupcake or Pie

There is a lot of talk on the web about Cupcakes being a dying fad. What are they on about. I don't really care about fads and trends. I do care about food, passionately, obsessively nearly hysterically at times (don't get me started about margarine I can get really hysterical about the yellow poison).
Anyway back to cupcakes or pie. That would be like trying to choose between cream and ice cream. Both should be able to co-exist or as CakeSpy recomends put them together.
Maids of Honour meets the criteria and there are heaps of recipes on the web. This is an easy recipe that is nut free. So it could also be called a Bakewell Tart. Traditionally the English Maid of Honour has nuts usually almonds in it and that is delicous. So forget about one or the other and have one or the other or both together. Oh and put cream and ice cream on top.

This recipe is from Celtnet Recipes

How to Make: Maids of Honour

These dainty, melt in the mouth tarts are named after the ladies in waiting (attendants) of Elizabeth 1st. The origins of these biscuits are very old indeed, though the form presented here is the modern version.

125g plain flour
2 tsp caster sugar
60g butter
up to 4 tbsp milk

2 tbsp butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 tsp plain flour
generous pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp cream sherry
130g ground almonds
40g fruit preserves (traditionally strawberry or raspberry, but any flavour will do)

Celtnet recipes chicken recipe divider

Maids of Honour Preparation:


Add 125g flour and the caster sugar to a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture comes together as coarse breadcrumbs. Add just enough of the milk so that the dough comes together as a ball. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until elastic then roll out to 3mm thick.

Using a pastry cutter cut into 6cm circles. Press these into the base of lightly-buttered tart tin cups and set aside.

Meanwhile, cream together the remaining butter and the sugar along with the flour. Beat in the eggs and sherry then add the ground almonds. Stir to combine then place 1/4 tsp of the jam or preserve in the base of the pastry in the tart tins. Cover with 1 tbsp of the almond mixture then place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are just golden brown.

Allow to cool before removing from the tart tin wells then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The photo is from All Recipes.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Pudding

In our house one of the things we always have no matter how hot it is is Christmas Pudding and Custard. I am assured by my darling husband that I make a spectacular Christmas pudding. He was raised with a traditional family and the Christmas Pudding was a big deal so high praise indeed.
The fruit and nut types change without notice but the pudding basics stay the same. This year I didn't use pineapple I used dried plums (yes prunes, my husband hates prunes but he never notices the dried plums).

Aussie Christmas Pudding
This pudding should be cooked no more than 2 weeks before Christmas then placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator. May also be frozen for 1 month.

100 grams sultanas
100 grams currants
100 grams dried apricots
50 grams dried apple
100 grams dried pineapple
50 grams dates
(Total of 500 grams dried fruit of any choice or commercial mixed fruit can be used.)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup rum (Alcohol of choice can be used i.e brandy or grand marnier)
125 grams butter (or that yellow poison margarine)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour (Gluten free flour is fine, also almond or coconut flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fresh cake crumbs (Or fresh bread crumbs)
1 green apple peeled, cored and grated.
2 eggs - beaten
Grated peel of 1 orange
1 cup macadamias –chopped
½ cup ground macadamias
Grease and flour a 2 litre pudding bowl or stainless steel bowl.
Chop fruit into pieces the size of the sultanas. Place all fruit in a large saucepan with sugar, juice and brandy.
Heat to a simmer, heat and stir well for ten minutes. Remove from heat.
Chop butter into pieces and mix into hot fruit. Add spices and vanilla and mix well. Put a lid on the pot and leave to cool.
Add all other ingredients to fruit mixture and mix well. Place into greased and floured basin. Cover with lid or with circle of bake paper and three layers of foil. If you are using the paper/foil cut a piece of string long enough to go around the basin three times. Tie tightly and knot.
Fill a large pot with boiling water. I use my large pasta pot with the insert in place. Carefully place the pudding in the boiling water cover with a lid and boil. Water should be 2/3 to ¾ up the basin. Replenish boiling water as necessary. Pudding should be boiled for 4 hours.
The pudding can also be cooked in a slow cooker. Place the basin in the slow cooker add 1 litre of boiling water. Put the lid on and put the cooker on high and cook for 6 hours. Replenish water as required.
After time take the lid or foil off the basin let it stand until cool. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.
On day of service recover tightly with foil and steam for two hours or put it in the slow cooker with 1 litre of boiling water for 2 hours.
This pudding doesn’t really need this unless you want it hot.
Turn out onto serving plate and serve with custard and cream.