Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TWD - Nun's Beignets


Our last Tuesday with Dorie recipe for this month is nun's beignets (also known as the poetically named nun's farts).  For the uninitiated, these are little donuts made from choux pastry rather than bread dough.  When cooked properly, the choux expands and there is a cavity in the middle of each beignet.

Now that I have told you what is supposed to happen, let me tell you about my beignets.  I had a terrific lesson in how and how not to make beignets, all in the one night.

I made a half batch of dough, not wanting to have too many beignets in the house.  I don't have a deep fryer, so I had to rely on oil warmed on the stovetop in a saucepan.  This makes temperature regulation quite tricky.

The first three beignets I made were quite good.  They were maybe a little dark, and they seemed to take ages to puff up to the point where they split (which is how you know they are ready), but overall, the finished product was as it should be with a golden outside encasing a chasm (evidence of the fart?).

The next three went very, very dark and never did split.  When I bit into one, the centre did not have a cavity, but had a cooked, custardy middle that reminded me of a cannelle.  Tick, tick, even though it wasn't quite right.

The very last beignet, which was cooked on its lonesome, was a disaster.  It also went very dark, almost to the point of black, and still it did not split.  I made the mistake of eating this number, and wished immediately that I had just thrown it out.  The middle was dense and leaden, the outside tasted burned, and was also bitter because the oil had obviously turned after being heated for so long.

I did try to reduce the heat to the oil during the cooking process, but to no avail - it really is difficult to regulate the temperature of oil on my gas stove.

I found the whole experience rather educational, if not actually all that successful. I now understand why Dorie said you have to cook the beignets until they split, because until they do, they remain rather dense in the middle, and can be downright unpleasant.

I realise that the results of my experiments, were due to my own (and my stove's) shortcomings, but I won't be making these again soon.  On the upside, I know that done well, beignets are delicious, and I would buy them in a heartbeat if I saw them (which is unlikely on Australian streets).

To see what everyone else made this week and how it went, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bistro D'Orsay, Melbourne


Tim and I celebrated Valentine's Day on the Friday afterwards by going to dinner at Bistro D'Orsay.  I have always wanted to eat there, but this was entirely Tim's idea.  It was a great pick!!!

Bistro D'Orsay, at the "Paris" end of Collins Street, conjures up the dark, smoky atmosphere that I imagine would have existed in old-time Paris (an image gleaned from historically accurate films like Midnight in Paris and Moulin Rouge): 


I really liked the interior, and especially loved the gorgeous mural painted on the ceiling.

Tim was shouting me for Valentine's Day (aww, I am lucky), so he insisted that we have three courses.  At the start of the meal, this seemed easily achievable, but by the end, all I can say is that thank goodness I have a separate dessert stomach.

For starter, I selected the brandied duck liver pate with cornichons to share ($17.50):


Whether you would enjoy this depends on whether you are a pate person or not.  I am in the "yes" camp, so the smooth, luxuriously rich pate, smothered on slices of soft baguette, and topped by a contrasting slightly sour, tangy cornichon, was devine. 

Next came the mains.  Tim ordered the pan seared barramundi with kipfler potatoes, and orange, fennel and rocket salad, and a saffron beurre blanc (Manu would approve that there was "sauce") ($36.50):


For me, it was steak frites ($27.50) all the way - you can't beat the classics:


The steak was juicy and tender, the frites cooked to just the right state of crispiness, and when slathered with a little of that garlic butter (not all of it!!) - just heaven.

Now by this stage, I was groaning, especialy as they had topped up the bread for the starter as we still had pate left.  However, being the stoic individuals that we are, we moved into dessert.

I ordered the warm rhubarb frangipani (a tart) with almond icecream and rhubarb compote ($17.50):


This dessert was nice, but not a patch on Tim's dessert, the Pear Tarte Tatin with Roasted Almond Icecream ($17.50):


I was lucky enough to be able to have a taste of this, and it was just beautiful - buttery, melt in your mouth puff pastry topped with golden caramel coated pears.  Mwah!

The service was attentive and efficient - just the way I like it.

Tim gave me this lovely tin of truffles from Haighs:


And I gave Tim this teddy bear from Burch and Purchese (said teddy bear insisted on falling off his mount, so after the warnings from the lady in the shop, I was terrified of smashing him before giving him to Tim):


It was a super Valentine's week for us.

184 Collins Street
Melbourne
Phone: +61 (03) 9654 6498

Saturday, February 25, 2017

White Chocolate Malteser Cheesecake


Ok folks, hold onto your waistlines, because the recipe I am sharing today is for White Chocolate Malteser Cheesecake.  While this cheesecake may not exactly be good for your diet, it is good for your soul, and I am coming round to the belief more and more as I get older that having a little bit of what you fancy really oils the wheels of life.

Frankly, what is not to love here - white chocolate, Maltesers, cheesecake, with a chocolate ripple biscuit base.  I mean - how delicious does that sound?  And this cheesecake delivers on its promise.


I made this cheesecake not once, but twice.  My mother told me about the recipe in her local newspaper, The Toowoomba Chronicle, so I tracked it down.  Then, when I went home to visit my mum, she had bought the ingredients to make it.  Cheesecake #1.  I returned to my place, where I had also bought the ingredients to make this cheesecake, and there we have it.  Cheesecake #2.


I decorated my cheesecake with edible flowers from my very own balcony garden, which continues to defy my neglectful gardening habits.

Here is cheesecake #1, made at mum's:


This cheesecake is smooth, creamy, surprisingly not too sweet, and the base is lovely and dense and chocolatey.

The recipe for this cheesecake, if you dare to try it, is as follows:

Base

250g packet chocolate ripple biscuits
12 pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
180g walnuts

 Grease and line the base of a 9" springform pan.  Blitz the chocolate ripple biscuits into crumbs, then add the dates, walnuts and coconut oil (or butter), and blitz until combined.  (Make sure your food processor has a decent capacity and plenty of grunt.)  Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly over the base and up the sides of the pan.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Filling

500g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar (I reduced it to 1/2 cup without incident)
200mls thickened cream (I used light cream, also with no ill effect)
400g white chocolate, melted
250g Maltesers, halved
1/4 cup boiling water
3 teaspoons gelatine

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a stand mixer until smooth.  Add the cream and beat until well combined.

In a small cup, add the boiling water to the gelatine and stir until smooth.  Add the gelatine mixture to the cream cheese mixture, and beat until thoroughly mixed in.

Stir the white chocolate and Maltesers through the cheese mixture, then pour into the chilled base.  Refrigerate the cheesecake until set (I found that three hours was plenty, but to be safe, leave it overnight).

Eat and enjoy the fuel for your soul.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

EwE - Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage - Travel to the Orient


For Eating with Ellie this week, Margaret chose the theme of Travel to the Orient.  I am off to China this week (at least in a Westernised sense) with my Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage.

This was pretty tasty - brown rice, prawns, cabbage, ginger, shallots, soy sauce, sesame seeds.  I made it and froze it for work lunches.

To see what the others made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TWD - Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart


The second cookie recipe for Dorie's Cookies this month is Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart.  The idea is to make two huge chocolate heart shaped cookies and little ones with the scrap dough, and for the two large cookies to be shared.


However, in my universe, people would not dig the concept of sharing a cookie with other people.  To avoid this potential awkwardness, I just made a half batch of smaller heart shaped cookies.  I ended up with 13 cookies.

Maybe it was the hot weather, but some of my cookies spread so much in the oven that they no longer resembled hearts.  The remainder looked a whole lot better once they had been iced and sprinkled with sanding sugar and non pariels.

I think that these cookies ended up looking very cute.  I couldn't resist posing my mini kewpie and my brand new Valentine's edition Sonny Angel with these cookies.  They are just adawbs and perfect for setting the Valentine's Day mood.  I made these cookies and took them to work on Valentine's Day - I think people may have found it a bit weird if I had brought in a batch of heart shaped cookies at any other time.

The cookies themselves were surprisingly delicious - the chocolate flavour comes from cocoa, but the cookies are quite chocolatey and are light and buttery.

To see what everyone else made this wee, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seasons on Ruthven, Toowoomba


On a recent visit to my mother, our family went to dinner at Seasons on Ruthven, the restaurant attached to the Ambassador motel.  It was a very warm night, and we were lucky enough to be seated out on the balcony:


where we could watch the summer sun set:


My mother is a fan of herb and garlic bread, so we ordered the garlic, herb and parmesan baguette ($10):


The balsamic vinegar drizzled on top of this baguette was a delicious touch.  Our waitress was disappointed that we did not try the edible marigolds.

For main, my mother ordered a special of the day, almond crusted barramundi served with vegetables and tartare sauce ($27):



My brother also ordered from the specials, in his case, chicken breast with cherry sauce ($27):


I ordered off the menu - the pan seared pork fillet with apricot and prune grand marnier glaze, parmesan baked potatoes, almond broccolini, baby carrots, and of course, the ubiquitous edible marigold ($34):


I can't comment on anyone else's dishes other than to say that they were routinely well presented.

My meal was absolutely scrumptious - I adore meat and fruit together, and the pork was cooked to perfection.  However, after deciding to try the edible marigold, I can say that I am not a fan - it has a very grassy flavour that was not appealing to me.

The staff were very friendly and efficient, and of course, our table overlooking the sunset was just lovely.  I would definitely go to Seasons again.

Ambassador on Ruthven
Best Western Plus Motel
200 Ruthven Street Toowoomba
Ph: 07 4637 6800



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Banana Oat Smoothie


This month's recipe on the Red Tractor calendar is a Banana and Oat Smoothie.  Here is the accompanying calendar illustration and quote:


I can't say that I had ever had a smoothie before, and I was a little hesitant to make it.  However, I went ahead with it, and while it tasted OK, I can't say that I enjoy the smoothie texture. Drinking something so thick just feels wrong to me.

However, if you are a smoothie fan, this one does taste good, so you may enjoy this recipe:

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup low fat Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 banana, cut into thirds
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.  Serve immediately.