Saturday, April 25, 2015

Anzac Biscuits for the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC Day

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon
This year is the centenary of ANZAC Day.  ANZAC Day falls on 25 April every year, and honours Australians and New Zealanders who have participated in wars and peacekeeping operations around the world.
ANZAC is an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, who landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 in World War I.  Anzac biscuits were supposedly sent to the troops in World War I because of their keeping qualities.
Although Anzac biscuits are "keepers", they are delicious - they are made from rolled oats, sugar, coconut and golden syrup, and smell like heaven.
In honour of the centenary of Anzac Day, I made these Anzac biscuits from  a recipe on p84 of the April 2015 edition of Taste magazine.  I was not that happy with it - it uses caster sugar instead of brown sugar, the latter of which I feel gives the biscuits a lovely caramel flavour, and the butter stated was not near enough to roll the batter into balls.  Looking at other recipes, it seems that the ratio of dry ingredients to butter was slightly off.  The recipe makes crunchy Anzacs - I like mine chewy.  They tasted fine, but were just not what I am used to.
If crunchy Anzacs are your thing, here is the recipe with the quantity of butter adjusted - you could even add a little more butter, because I still struggled a little to make balls from the batter:
150g plain flour
155g caster sugar
140g rolled oats
80g coconut (I used dessicated, they used flakes)
150g melted butter
60ml golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats and coconut.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter and golden syrup, and stir the mixture to combine.
In a small cup, combine the bicarbonate of soda and water, then pour it into the biscuit batter and stir to combine.
Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls, place 2cm or so apart on the baking trays, and bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown. 
Remove the Anzacs from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking trays.
The recipe says you should get 26 Anzacs - I got 18.
Lest we forget.

Friday, April 24, 2015

FFWD - Sardine Escabeche


Life is rather like a tin of sardines - we're all of us looking for the key.
Alan Bennett

This week is our second last French Fridays with Dorie seafood dish.  Unfortunately, it comprises a rather oily fish concoction called Sardine Escabeche.

This challenge required us to use fresh sardines, so I dutifully went to the Queen Vic Market to find some (knowing that my suburban fish shop would not stock such a thing).  Fresh sardines were only $6.50 a kilo.  When I asked the fishmonger to fillet my sardines, he flatly refused, but was keen to sell me a 500g tray of frozen sardine fillets for $13!  Ahem - no.  (For the record, my 12 fresh sardines cost the princely sum of $2.55.)

Accordingly, on the night I made this dish, I set about filleting these little guys a la Karen Martini's video:

I have to say that it is quite a gory process.  I was prepared for it from the video, and wore food gloves to limit the mess.  Still, filleting 12 little fish with all of their organs still intact was not exactly a pleasant task.
Once the filleting was done, the rest of the process (flouring and shallow frying the sardine fillets, frying up some veges, adding a large quantity of oil to the veges and simmering,  then pouring over the fish before chilling for 6 hours or so) was quite easy.
Unfortunately, I do not understand the European love of putting large quantities of oil on fish.  I can understand that back in the day, it was a means of preserving them, but in the era of modern refrigeration, I just don't get it.  But then, I guess, some people really like oil-covered fish (see Salmon in a Jar). 
Thankfully, although this is definitely not a repeat dish for me, it tasted way better than salmon in a jar.  It was pleasant enough for cold oily fish with vegetables - at least everything was pre-cooked.  However, it still doesn't grab me.
To see what the other Doristas made of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

EwE - Asian Chicken and Vegetables in Foil

Margaret is giving us a touch of Asia with this week's Eating with Ellie, choosing Ellie's Asian Chicken and Vegetables in Foil.

This dish comprises chicken breast fillets steamed with carrots, capsicum and shallots with an Asian inspired sauce, steamed in the oven in a foil packet, then topped with toasted sesame seeds and more shallots (oops, I put those in the foil packet).

Unlike many of the other Ellie dishes, this one took more like 45 minutes to prepare and cook because of all the vegetable chopping involved.  However, it is quite simple to prepare.

I liked this dish, but it definitely needs more veges and some rice for a complete meal.

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WWDH - Green Olive Baked Chicken

Peggy chose Green Olive Baked Chicken from Off the Shelf for this week's Wednesday with Donna Hay.  It is the perfect comfort food now that autumn has well and truly kicked in, as evidenced by the leaves on the trees in my neighbourhood:

I liked this dish because it was quick, simple and unfussy to make -  a one pot wonder.  I think it tasted best the next day when all of the flavours had had some time to meld.

To see what the other WWDH cooks thought of tis dish, visit the LYL section of the website.  Or if you want to try this dish yourself, the recipe is online here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Raspberry Ripple Cake for Stacey

Monday last week was my last Pilates class with our instructor, Stacey.  She is a trained exercise physiologist, and found a full time job in her field, hence her reason for leaving.  I am very happy for her and very sad for me - she is one of the best instructors we have had, and a very nice lady to boot. 

As you will know, I love baking cakes, so I couldn't let Stacey leave without baking her a cake.  I chose Edd Kimber's Raspberry Ripple Cake from The Boy Who Bakes.  That book has been around for a while, but I only acquired it late last year, and this was the first time that I had used it.  If you don't have the book, a few people have published the recipe online, including here.  

I made a few adjustments to the recipe.  Instead of three layers, I cut the cake batter recipe in half and made only two layers, which seemed quite substantial anyway.  I also swapped out the Italian meringue buttercream (I personally hate Italian meringue buttercream!) for my favourite Primrose Bakery buttercream, but incorporated the same raspberry and white chocolate flavours that Edd used.

When I tried swirling white chocolate buttercream through the raspberry buttercream, I didn't get the ripple effect suggested by Edd, and I just messed up the smoothness of my frosting job.  I also tried to pipe little swirls on top for decoration using supermarket bought frosting in a tube, and the swirls unfortunately looked as though they could use some Viagra:

Oh well.  I hope Stacey enjoyed eating this cake - it certainly smelled amazing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

When I made chocolates for Easter, I needed something to fill them with.  I didn't have any cream so many of the usual fillings were out.  By luck, I came across this recipe from Honey and Spice for Dark Chocolate and Roasted Hazelnut Spread - homemade Nutella!

I was surprised at how easy and delicious this spread was.  I will shamefacedly admit that I have been eating the remainder out of the jar - it is that good.  Best of all, I know what's in it, which you don't with store bought Nutella.

While this spread  is not as smooth as Nutella, it has that lovely chocolate-hazelnut taste, and would be perfect on toast etc, just like Nutella.  Or for eating out of the jar ...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Masons of Bendigo

On our recent trip to Bendigo, we had a wonderful dinner at Masons of Bendigo, on the recommendation of my work colleague, Wayne.  We had a sneak preview of Masons on our Food Fossicking Tour earlier in the day, and it certainly heightened our anticipation of dinner at Masons in the evening.

Masons is very popular, and we were told on our tour that you have to book at least two weeks in advance.  I had booked a month in advance, so that part was taken care of.  As I mentioned in my post on the food fossicking tour, Masons has an open kitchen so that you can watch your meal being prepared.  Masons prides itself on its use of local produce which it highlights in its fusion style menu.  There are two dinner sittings at Masons - 6pm and 8pm.  We went for the earlier sitting - I would be so hungry if I had to wait until 8!

On arrival at Masons, we are presented with a plate of bread with miso butter:

The bread was delicious, and the miso butter was devine.

Next, our drinks arrived.  I ordered a glass of red:

and Tim ordered a local Tooborac beer:

Then came the good stuff - Tim and I ordered two entrees to share.
First up came seared Hervey Bay scallops, curried cauliflower, salmon caviar, coriander vinaigrette and squid ink crackers ($14 for 3, we bought an extra scallop):

This was my dish of the night - just heavenly.

Next came steamed sticky beef buns with shitaki mushrooms and pun chun sauce ($8 for 2):

No complaints here:

For main, Tim ordered the Beijing roast duck red curry, with caramelised pineapple, okra and puffed rice ($30):

with a side of jasmine rice:

while I ordered the baked barramundi with sweet and sour calamari salad, peanuts and yellow curry ($32):

Both mains were top notch, and we enjoyed them very much.

To finish off, we could not go past the Masons Tasting Plate ($26) - vanilla and peach brulee, Eskimo pie, yoghurt pannacotta with passionfruit gel, choc-hazelnut delice, baked cheesecake, Yuzu curd and tapioca pot with summer fruits, pomegranate icecream and Persian fairy floss:  

It was all pretty good, but I think my favourite was the pannacotta.

The service at Masons was very friendly and efficient, and Tim was chuffed that Nick, the owner, remembered him from the food fossicking tour earlier in the day.

We would definitely return to Masons when we are next in Bendigo.

25 Queen Street
Bendigo VIC 3550
Ph: (03) 5443 3877