Friday, 21 November 2014

Corn and Cauliflower Salad

It has to be said that my kids aren't picky eaters, but they do struggle with boiled or steamed cauliflower. However, when I roast it with spices, toss it with grilled corn, sprinkle it with toasted breadcrumbs and spritz it with lime dressing they're all over it. Go figure.

Corn and Cauliflower Salad
adapted from here
Serves 4

For the Salad:
2 slices white bread
2 corn cobs
2 red capsicums (peppers)
2 tablespoons olive oil
350g cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
Sea salt to taste

For the Dressing:
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Lime wedges to serve

Make the Salad:
Toast the bread until well browned. Pop it in a food processor and blitz until it's chopped up, but not too fine. Set aside.

Heat a grill pan on high and grill the corn until it is tender and starts to go golden brown in parts. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool enough to handle, run a knife down the cobs to remove the kernels. Discard to cobs and set the kernels aside.

Heat the grill (broiler) to high and grill (broil) the capsicums (peppers) until they are blackened on all sides. Put them into a plastic bad and seal the bag. Set them aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take them out of the bag and peel the blackened skins off. Remove the seeds and chop them into small dice. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the cauliflower florets and cook for about 10 - 12 minutes, until tender-crisp and golden at the edges. Throw in the cumin seeds, smoked paprika, chilli powder coriander powder, salt  and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Make the Dressing:
Put all the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Assemble the Salad:
Put the cauliflower, corn, capsicum and breadcrumbs onto a large serving platter and toss to mix. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves and drizzle with dressing just before serving. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Chocolate, Chestnut and Amaretti Cake - Gluten Free

All four members of our family went to the gym and did a Spin Fit session. It's our first gym class together as a family. Now that our youngest can reach the pedals on the bikes, we are good to go. We celebrated the occasion with cake of course. A family that sweats together, sweets together.

Chocolate, Chestnut and Amaretti Cake - Gluten Free
adapted from here

165g (6 oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped
110g (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus a little extra for greasing the pan
75g (1/3 cup) unsweetened chestnut puree
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
4 egg, separated
100g (1/2 cup) panela sugar (or your favourite natural sugar ie. coconut sugar, rapadura etc)
50g (1/2 cup) brown rice flour
60g (1/2 cup) millet meal
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 amaretti cookies, crushed

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line the bottom of a 20cm (8 inch) round springform cake pan with baking paper and grease the sides of the pan with soft butter, Set aside.

If you are using panela sugar or any course grain sugar, put it in a food processor and blitz until it is a fine powder. Tip it into a large bowl and set aside.

Put the chocolate, butter, chestnut puree and seeds from the vanilla bean into a heat-proof bowl. Suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring until smooth, Don't let the bowl tough the water. Remove it from the heat and let it cool for about 6 - 7 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and half of the sugar together until thoroughly combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and stir until incorporated. Fold in the brown rice flour, millet meal and salt.

In another bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar, a spoonful at a time, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Once incorporated, add another third of the egg whites and fold again. Add the final third of egg whites and fold gently until there are no streaks of meringue. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with crushed amaretti.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes. The centre of the cake will still be slightly moist and brownie-like. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes before releasing from the pan and leaving to cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Chocolate Cake Tart

I can't throw anything away. Not even cake trimmings. I made a chocolate cake a while ago. Hard to believe, I know. For some reason that escapes me now, I had to trim quite a bit of yummy cake off it. After I'd finished,  I looked at my kitchen bench covered in perfectly good chunks of cake and thought, I could:  A) just eat it straight off the bench, B) put it in a bowl, pour cream over it and watch an episode of Homeland while stuffing it into my cake-hole C) make a trifle - but I already had cake!!! (first world problems), or D) stash it in the freezer for later times of famine. I chose D). Fast forward a couple of weeks when I'm elbow deep in the glacier that is my freezer and I find a container marked "Chocolate Cake Crumbs". The idea of thawing it out, dumping it in a bowl and eating it with ice cream did occur to me, but I restrained myself and made this tart instead. I'm a picture of self discipline.

Chocolate Cake Tart
adapted from here

For the Pastry:
250g (8 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
500g (1 lb) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
50g (5 tablespoons) icing sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk (or enough to make up 1/2 cup liquids when added to the beaten egg and vanilla)

For the Filling:
1/2 cup chocolate cake crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup thickened cream
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder

For the Ganache:
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocoloate, chopped
150g (5 oz) cream

Make the Pastry:
Mix the egg and vanilla in a measuring jug. Add enough milk to bring the level up to 1/2 cup. Set aside,

Put the butter, flour, salt and icing sugar into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough of the egg mixture while pulsing the processor, to bring the dough together.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, bring it together into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to fit a 35 cm x 13 cm rectangular tin and line the tin. Line the pastry with a sheet of baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the baking beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 5 - 10 minutes, until golden.

Make the Filling:
Put all the filling ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour into the cooked tart case and bake for 30  - 35 minutes. Cool the tart completely in the tin.

Make the Ganache:
Put the chopped chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the cream to almost boiling in a small saucepan over medium heat. Take the hot cream off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Leave for about 2 minutes, then stir it together until the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth, velvety mixture. Pour the ganache into the filling and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

French Hot Dogs


It was one of my sons birthday yesterday. I... I mean We, decided to go with a sort of French vibe. I didn't think sitting the kids down to a meal of cassoulet was going to have them raving about how cool his mother he is, so I opted for French hot dogs. I don't know if there is such a thing as a French hot dog, but I figured if I used Toulouse sausages, creme fraiche, Dijon mustard and *baguettes, I just might get away with it. Hot dogs are always. always, a hit around here and throw in couple of dozen bags of "French Fries" and you've won the hearts and minds of all 14 year olds.

*NOTE: I used some soft hot dog rolls as well as baguettes. Chewy, crunchy baguettes are really the ONLY type of bread to use for anything that has the cheek to call itself a French Hot Dog, but anyone who knows teenagers will know that 9 out of 10 of them wear braces, and braces and chewy, crunchy baguettes don't mix.

French Hot Dogs
Makes 12

For the Caramelised Onions:
6 large brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced
40g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

For the Mustard Sauce:

1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
Squeeze of lemon juice

For the Hot Dogs:
1 tablespoons olive oil
12 Toulouse sausages
Baguettes or hot dog rolls (*See note)
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
2 cups grated Gruyère
Jar of cornichons
12 packets of "French Fries"

Make the Caramelised Onions:
Put the butter into a large frying pan and melt it on a low-medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions will start to go a little golden in parts and you will start to see some brown bits stick to the pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and give it a stir. Scrape the brown bits off the pan and continue to cook the onions for a few more minutes. The water will evaporate and you will start to see some more brown bits stick to the pan. Once again, add a couple of tablespoons of water and scrape the brown bits up. Continue to do this a few more times until the onions are a deep bronze colour. Season with salt, remove from the heat and spoon into a bowl. Set aside to cool until needed.

Make the Mustard Sauce:
Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Make the Hot Dogs:
Put the oil in a large pan and cook the sausages low and slow until cooked and golden-brown. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Heat the grill (broiler) to medium high. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Split the baguettes/hot dos rolls, slather with some caramelised onions, fill with cooked sausages and top with a generous amount of cheese. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and grill (broil) until the cheese is melted, bubbling and staring to go golden.

Drizzle with mustard sauce and top with "French Fries"/cornichons.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Pistachio Cupcakes

I love cupcakes. I love that they are easy to make and quick to bake. I love that they are individual and hand-held  - sort of unshareable in a greed-is-good kind of way. I love that a basic cupcake recipe can be taken in so many different directions. I love that when you pop those little paper liners in the wells of the pan, they are full of so many possibilities. Which means by the end of it all, I'm full of so many cupcakes... I mean, possibilities.

Pistachio Cupcakes
adapted from RSPCA Victoria
Makes 12

For the Cupcakes:
100g pistachios
140g golden caster sugar
140g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
140g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Pinch of salt

For the Icing:
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
Water as needed

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 160C.  Line a cupcake apn with paper liners. Set aside.

Put 85g of the pistachios into a food processor with half of the sugar and blitz until finely chopped. Tip into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, Add the remaining sugar, butter, eggs, flour, buttermilk and salt and beat on medium speed until smooth. Divide between the cases and bake for 22 - 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Icing:
Put the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough water to create a very thick icing.

Put a generous spoonful of icing on top of each cupcake, swirling the cupcake to get the icing to go right to the edges.

Coarsely chop the remaining pistachios and sprinkle them on top of the cupcakes. Leave to set for about 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Chilli Cornbread with Chipotle Butter

When I eat sushi, I imagine I'm in a pokey little hole in the wall eatery in the outer market of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. When I eat a baguette, I imagine I'm in my chic Parisian apartment eating it with some amazing butter and drinking exquisite coffee. When I eat Spaghetti alle vongole, I imagine I'm in a trattoria in Campania supping wine and looking fabulous in my impeccable Italian attire. When I eat hot steaming dumplings, I imagine I'm at Dong Hua Men Night Market in Beijing sitting outside the pub in the laneway drinking beer. When I'm eating cornbread with chipotle butter, I imagine... well, you get the picture.

NOTE: You'll have more chipotle butter than you need for spreading on the cornbread, but just store leftover portions in the freezer (*as explained below), and use on BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, roasted sweet potatoes, sourdough toast...nom.

Chilli Cornbread with Chipotle Butter
adapted from here

For the Butter:
2 dried chipotle chillies
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 habanero chilli (or chilli of your liking), chopped
250g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Cornbread:
2 jalapenos, finely sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
325g (corn meal) polenta
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
250ml buttermilk
2 eggs
2 corn on the cob, steamed till cooked and kernels removed
150g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons cottage cheese

Make the Butter:
Put the chipotles into a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to completely cover. Set aside for 30 minutes. After soaking for 30 minutes, drain and discard the soaking liquid, deseed and take off any stems.

Put the re-hydrated chipotles into a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and blitz until smooth.

Spoon the butter onto a piece of baking paper and roll it up into a log shape. twist the ends of the paper and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Take it out of the freezer and *cut it into portions, re-roll and return to the freezer and use as needed.

Make the Cornbread:
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Spray a 20 cm x 30 cm baking dish with cooking oil spray and line it with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the jalapenos into a small bowl and sprinkle with the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Combined the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, buttermilk, eggs and a good pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add the corn kernels, cheddar and cottage cheese and most of the jalapenos, reserving a few for sprinkling on top. Give it a good stir.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and sprinkle the reserved jalapenos on top. Bake for 35 minutes until golden and done. Leave in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serving with copious amount of the chipotle butter.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread with Ginger and Lemon Icing - Gluten Free

I think I deserve two pieces of gingerbread after my gym session. Not just because I worked hard, but because while I was working hard, the TVs were tuned to a station showing young girls twerking with almost no clothes on and teenage boys singing about how some imaginary girl doesn't know she's beautiful while I'm in a rather unladylike squat position with a medicine ball raised above my head - red faced and puffing. I tried to look away, but there are TVs plastered all over the walls, and the walls that aren't covered in TVs, are covered in mirrors so I get to see twerking inside twerking inside twerking inside twerking... ad infinium. It's enough to drive a mother of two to drink... or at least gingerbread.

Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread with Ginger and Lemon Icing - Gluten Free
adapted from here

For the Gingerbread:
180g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger root
150g light brown sugar
150g black treacle
150g golden syrup
250ml full cream milk
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
100g ground hazelnuts
120g brown rice flour
50g potato flour
Pinch salt
30g cacao powder 
150g dark chocolate chips

For the Icing:
8 cm knob of fresh ginger root
60g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cacao powder
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
250g icing sugar

Make the Gingerbread:
Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced. Line the base and long sides of a 30 cm x 20 cm x 3 cm baking pan with baking paper, leaving some paper hanging over the long edges. Set aside.

Put the butter into a large saucepan and melt over medium-low heat. Add the spices, ginger, sugar, treacle and golden syrup. Warm through then turn off the heat. Set aside.

Combine 1 tablespoon of the milk the the baking soda in a bowl and stir to dissolve. set aside.

Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk lightly. Set aside.

Pour the eggs, the remaining milk and the baking soda mixture into the melted butter mixture all at once. Beat well. Sift in both flours and cacao powder and add the ground hazelnuts. Beat until thoroughly combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes until it has an almost brownie-like texture. Cool in the pan.

Make the Icing:
Grate the ginger into a sieve suspended over a bowl. Take the grated flesh and squeeze it through the sieve so that the juice drips into the bowl. Discard the pulp and retain the juice (you should have about 2 - 3 teaspoons of ginger juice). Set aside.

In a heat-proof bowl suspended over simmering water, combined the butter and cacao powder, stirring until the mutter melted Add the ginger juice, salt, lemon juice and icing sugar and beat with a spatula until thick and glossy.

Lift the cooled gingerbread out of the pan using the overhanging paper and spread with the icing.