Rice Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Rice pudding is a strange thing. I remember eating it as a kid on Scout camps where it was cooked over the fire. I made it for the first time myself recently and quite liked it. Since then I haven’t been able to get enough. This time I decided to make a caramel sauce to pour over it with icecream. It works well I think. If rice pudding is your thing, you might like it too.

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

Cherry Berry Cheesecake

There has been a serious lack of baked goods in our house for a while now. I just haven’t been in the mood I guess. I thought I should end the drought with a cheesecake that I have been meaning to try. A friend brought a black-forest-inspired cheesecake to a barbecue sometime last year and since then I’ve wanted to make something similar. I don’t have a recipe, but I’ve made enough cheesecakes now that I thought I could just wing it.

The crust is made from finely crushed chocolate biscuits and melted butter. I used a tall glass to press the mixture against the sides and bottom of an 8″ spring-form pan and then baked it for 20 minutes to set. I used cream cheese, mascarpone and sour cream for the filling with sour cherries mixed through. I added a decent amount of kirsch as well to boost the cherry flavour.  The jelly on top is just the liquid from the jar of cherries with some gelatin added.

The combination of chocolate crust and creamy cheesecake studded with whole cherries is a winner. I didn’t measure anything as I was making it but I can probably write a close approximation of the recipe if anyone is interested – just leave a comment if you are. I promise it was easier than it looks.

EDIT: Continue to Recipe

Published in: on November 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Barbecue Meatloaf

Meatloaf is about as pedestrian as it gets. It brings to mind images of boring British roasts or cheap American diners. My mother has a Woman’s Weekly cookbook from the 60’s and I’m willing to bet there are several meatloaf recipes in there. It’s just not something you generally see in the glossy pages of modern cookbooks or magazines. But you know what? I happen to like the humble meatloaf. It’s warm, homely and comforting. And that’s good enough for me.

The recipe I use is from a family cookbook compiled by kindergarten mums in the small country town of Ceduna, South Australia where I grew up. The meatloaf itself is pretty standard, but the magic is in the barbecue sauce that it’s cooked in. It has a surprising depth of flavours and it keeps the meat deliciously moist. Seriously, it’s good.

But you’re more interested in the potato, aren’t you. Well me too. It’s called a hasselback potato, and I first came across the idea for these amazing things right here. They’re the Swedish version of a baked potato and are only slightly more difficult to make. The concept is simple; thin cuts along the potato (but not all the way through) cause it to fan out when baked so that the edges are crispy but the centre remains soft. I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen these before or thought of doing it myself. I stuffed a tiny slice of garlic into each cut and sprinkled some paprika over the top to give them a bit more flavour. I love the rustic elegance of these potatoes and the contrast of crunchy and soft. They are so good – I insist you try them.

The carrots were roasted whole and unpeeled with a simple red wine vinegar glaze. It was an experiment, but they turned out beautifully, far exceeding my expectations. I will make carrots like this again for sure. The beans were simply sauteed with garlic and lemon juice like I usually do. Altogether it was a really enjoyable meal.


Continue to Recipe

Published in: on October 1, 2011 at 12:02 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , ,

Pad Thai

I posted a recipe for Pad Thai when I first started this blog, but I think it deserves a re-post. I made a few slight changes to the recipe this time and I opted for tofu instead of meat (both options are in the recipe). It was actually my first time cooking with tofu and I think I’m a new fan. I don’t much like the flavour of tofu, despite its reputation for being tasteless; but the flavours in this dish are strong enough to cover up any subtle hints of bean curd.

I consider myself something of a Pad Thai aficionado. I was lucky enough to experience a month of travelling through Thailand when I was younger. It was a totally different type of cuisine to what I was used to, but I fell in love with it immediately. Pad Thai is a very common dish in Thailand (it literally means noodles cooked Thai style) and can be found everywhere from restaurants to street vendors. Needless to say, I ate a lot of it whilst over there.

Thai cuisine has become quite popular in Australia, but I haven’t been impressed with any of the Pad Thai versions I’ve bought here, unfortunately. They’re always bland, overcooked and a complete injustice to the fabulous flavours of Thailand. The recipe I’ve taken to using is very authentic and flavoursome, and nothing like what you would get at a western Thai restaurant. If you’ve had Pad Thai before and weren’t too fussed, I highly recommend you give this a go. Once you’ve made it a couple of times you’ll get a feel for it and will be able to whip this up without having to look at a recipe. Plus it’s healthy!

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday Night Pizza

Friday night is a great night for pizza. I am lucky enough to live close to a good pizza joint, but at $22-29 each it’s a bit hard to justify. More often than not I prefer my own pizzas anyway. Not only do you get to choose exactly what you put on them, but they just taste fresher.

I have only gotten into cooking with yeast fairly recently, after overcoming my fears. Pizza dough is a great place to start because it is very simple and forgiving. I tried several pizza dough recipes before finding one that I love. The recipe is from a professional pizza maker and it yields a large batch. I like to roll out all the bases and freeze half of them for later. You could always buy pre-made bases if you want to save some time, but you will likely pay more than they’re worth (it’s basically just flour and water!).

I topped the first pizza with sliced pan-seared chicken, cherry tomatoes, onion, mushrooms and capsicum. When it was cooked I drizzled some sour cream over the top and added a few baby corriander leaves from the garden.

The second pizza had hot pepperoni, mushrooms, onion and capsicum with mozzarella cheese.

I highly recommend making your own pizza bases – you won’t go back once you do. Also, put the cheese on first so you get more attractive pizzas, and don’t  overdo it with the toppings.

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on September 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , ,

Barbecue Chicken Open-Sandwich

For those who have been reading my blog from the very start, you may recognise this. It’s one of my favourite ‘quick dinners’ and was the subject of my very first recipe post. Looking back at earlier posts I am pretty amazed at how much better my photos have become. I’m still using a cheap point-and-shoot but I pay a bit more attention to lighting and composition now. I didn’t want this yummy recipe to be stuck in time with a bad photo, so I thought I should re-post it. Click here for the original pic!

You can eat it like I do with caramelised onion, roasted red peppers and baby spinach, heaped on top of crusty garlic bread. Or you could use the chicken some other way, like skewers perhaps.

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Black Forest Cake

I posted a while back about my first attempt at black forest cake. I was reasonably happy with how it had turned out, but I knew what I would do differently if I made it again. This opportunity came in the form of my very first customer, who, having seen photos of the first cake, wanted me to make one for them.

I wanted to go for a lighter cake this time as the first one was quite dense. I decided to challenge myself and try making a chocolate sponge. For the record, I suck at sponge cakes. They are notoriously difficult for the home baker so I am definitely not alone in this boat. I spent a good amount of time researching recipes and techniques online, and eventually settled for the promising-sounding Moist Chocolate Genoise from Rose Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible.

Genoise (pronunciation) is a very light, dry, and slightly elastic Italian sponge cake. It differs slightly from other sponges in that it contains no chemical leavening, so it relies entirely on air being incorporated into the mixture to rise properly. Other sponges may also use egg whites and yolks separately, whereas a genoise uses the whole egg, often heated with sugar in a bain-marie.

I was rather disheartened when my first pair of genoises came out looking like shriveled cookies. I had sifted the flour 3 times, followed the instructions perfectly, and folded the batter as gently as possible…WHY?! Why was my cake not airy and light like it was supposed to be? But failure was not an option with an expectant customer, so I reluctantly started again.

It went much faster and smoother the second time, and I began to get a feel for how the batter behaves. The second pair of cakes came out so damned perfect I was shocked. They rose all the way to the tops of the pans with a smooth, flat outer crust. It was one of my proudest baking moments. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera on hand, but I measured them each at just under 5cm tall once cooled (it is normal for genoise to sink slightly whilst cooling).

In my previous black forest I had layered it with a thick cherry filling made by cooking sour cherries with sugar and cornflour. I did the same thing but only used it in the middle layer and on top of the cake. For the other two layers I left the cherries whole and uncooked for a fresher flavour. The sponge cake lived up to its name and was quite moist for a genoise, but I still brushed the cake layers with some kirsh syrup to prevent it being too dry.

I spotted some uncharacteristically nice-looking fresh cherries at the supermarket whilst shopping for ingredients and couldn’t resist buying some. Usually you will only see cherries available in Australia for a limited time during summer for abut $20/kg, so this was an unexpected bonus. Forgive the pun, but I think they were the cherry on the cake so to speak, and I’m glad I bought them. They tasted really delicious.

Once the cake was filled and assembled, it was ridiculously, almost laughably tall. You can just imagine how large each slice was. It was quite an impressive sight though I must admit, and the customer was extremely happy with it. They thought it tasted great too which is the most important thing of all.

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Buttermilk Pancakes with Mapled Walnuts

These are the pancakes from my childhood. I’ve tried several different recipes over the years but I keep coming back to this version. They are soft, fluffy and not at all eggy like some tend to be. My favourite way to eat these is with a nice strawberry jam and whipped cream. When I was younger they were almost always eaten with sugar and lemon juice, a classic combination.

This time I thought I’d try something different and use walnuts, which I currently have an abundance of. I candied the nuts in a maple based syrup and just poured that over the pancakes. The flavours were good but the whole thing was just crying out for a scoop of icecream. Bananas would also go exceptionally well with this, but I’m not that rich!

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Curried Pasta Salad

This is a very simple and easy to make pasta salad with a tangy light curry flavour. I just used what I had in the fridge, which was red capsicum, purple heirloom carrots, spring onions and corriander. You can use anything you want to give it a little freshness and crunch. Snow peas, celery and cherry tomatoes are all good.

To make dressing for 500g of pasta, combine:

  • 1/2 cup locally-sourced olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp good quality curry powder

Toss together with cold pasta and finely sliced vegetables. You may wish to double the quantity of dressing or halve the pasta for a stronger flavour. The flavours will improve the second day. Store covered in the fridge to prevent drying out.

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

Mocha Walnut Slice

These have been a family favourite for many years. They’re moist and fudgey like a brownie, but not overly sweet or chocolatey. I like to pack them full of walnuts; which have a soft texture for a nut and complement the flavour of mocha well. It also makes them a little better for you so you can eat twice as many, yes?

Continue to Recipe

Published in: on September 3, 2011 at 9:07 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , ,