Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hazelnut Chocolate Balls

Home made ferrero rocher chocolates. A big claim I know. They may not be exact, but it's a pretty good approximation. Hazelnut and chocolate were just meant to go together. It's so incredibly good.

What seals the deal is that they are so ridiculously easy and quick to make.

Chocolate Hazelnut Balls
(Tessa Kiros from Apples for Jam)

Mix together 6 chocolate wafer biscuits broken into pieces, 250gm of ground hazelnuts and about 200gm of nutella. You may need more nutella. The mix should stick together without being too sticky. Chill.

Roll into small balls. Chill.

Melt 250gm of dark chocolate in a double boiler. Dip the balls in one by one to coat in the chocolate. Let most of the chocolate drain away and place the balls on a foil lined tray. Allow the chocolate to set (which may require a return trip to the fridge).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pumpkin Cake

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of the Italian cooking bible, The Silver Spoon, for Christmas. I had a great day pouring over all the delicious and exotic (cuttlefish anyone?) recipes with my sister.

One thing I did not notice, however, was this pumpkin cake recipe. I only made it because I was in a rush, I needed to find a cake to make and I opened straight up at this page and thought that will do.

And what a piece of luck it was, because this is a truly delicious cake. The texture is soft and moist. I was a bit dubious about adding crushed up biscuits, but the amaretti gives a lovely flavour. I used limes for the rind and they added a lovely subtle tang.

It's a conventional cake recipe so it's very quick and easy. I will be making this again and again. YUM!!!!

Pumpkin Cake
(from The Silver Spoon)

Cream 100gm of butter and 200gm of caster sugar. Beat in 2 eggs until light and fluffy. Add 150gm of pumpkin puree, 225gm of self raising flour, grated rind of 1 lemon or 3 small limes, 8 crushed amaretti biscuits and 5 tbspn of milk. Pour into a greased and floured 20cm cake tin. Bake in 180C oven for 45 minutes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dill Bread

Dill is one of my favourite herbs. One of my favourite dishes has to be beef stroganoff with dill. Maybe I will post about it one day. My local deli sells a dill pesto which is so incredibly good. There's always some in my fridge.

So when I saw this recipe posted on the BBC food boards, I had to try it. The use of cottage cheese was also intriguing. I have tried in vain to re-find the post to link to here. So I'm hoping that the original poster, Winterberry, will not mind if I re-post her recipe here. It is after all a testament to his/her great taste and cooking acumen.

I thoroughly recommend the BBC boards as a great source of tried and true recipes and helpful advice. I have posted quite a few questions and have always gotten great replies. Here's a link.


Anyway, back to this recipe. It's so easy to make. And the bread is lovely and moist and tender and delicious. The original recipe used dill seeds. But I couldn't find them so I used dried dill. I don't think you would even have to use dill. Other herbs would probably work just as well.

Dill Bread
(from Winterberry on the BBC Food Boards)

Proof 1.5 tspn of dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with 1 tspn of sugar. Beat 1 egg and add 1 dry dill to taste, 1 cup of room temperature cottage cheese, 1 tbspn of chopped onion, 1 tbspn of melted butter, 1/4 tspn of baking soda, 1 tspn salt and 2 tbspn sugar (less 1 tspn as it was added to the yeast mix). Mix and add yeast mix. Add 21/4 cups plain flour and mix to a stiff dough.

Leave to rise for 1 hour. Put dough into a buttered and floured loaf tin and leave 20-40 minutes to rise again. Bake in 200C oven for 40-50 minutes.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The World of Food in Canberra

This weekend the Multicultural Food Festival was held here in Canberra. It's an annual event and a highlight of the year for me. There were around 100 stalls (I think) hailing from all parts of the world - from Cuba to Papua New Guinea to Belgium. As usual I ate myself to a standstill and then rolled home.

The only downside was that I forgot to take my camera with me. I kicked myself repeatedly. But I brought home heaps of treats to scoff later and I have managed to capture those (see below).

I have two hard and fast rules for this festival. No indian, sri lankan, thai or chinese. No doubt the food would be delicious, but I can pretty much eat curry puffs or satay sticks any night of the week from any of a dozen different restaurants in my neighbourhood alone. I prefer to focus on cuisines where I have few other opportunities to sample them.

The other rule is snack food only. I am always hugely tempted by the vast array of sausages that are on offer. German, Polish, Hungarian, Macedonian, South African to name just a few. But they are filling and I can only eat so much. I like to maximise the variety of foods I can sample.

So anyway, this is what I ate this year.

Savoury Dishes

Meat momo from Tibet. Very good. In 2002, I spent three weeks in Tibet living on yak momos. I really enjoyed them. The gradual variation in momos was interesting - at least to me anyway. They graduated from a very bready dough wrapper in Tibet to very much a noodle wrapper as you moved further into China.

Za'atar bread from Saudi Arabia. Okay. A thin dough spread with a za'tar mix and then rolled up swiss roll fashion and sliced. I found it a bit dry to be honest.

Kaakro (banana and polenta puff) from Ghana. Pleasant and Interesting. A deep fried ball of grainy polenta with a lovely banana flavour.

Mandu (pork fried pork and vegetable dumpling) from Korea. Excellent. Very small half moon shaped noodle parcels filled with pork and vegetables, pan fried to a lovely crispy bown on the bottom. Kind of like a potsticker I guess. It was delicious.

Mashed potato kebab from Pakistan. Good. A round deep fried ball of potato heavily spiced with coriander, fennel seeds and chile. So not what I would normally term as a kebab. It was a bit too spicy for my tastes. I am a whimp in this direction.

Empanada from Chile. Delicious. A crispy pastry filled with tasty meat with gravy, boiled eggs and olives.

Cabbage and Egg Piroshki from Russia. Okay. A flaky pastry filled with cabbage and egg. I think I was just far too full by this stage to really enjoy it.

Sweet Dishes

Pasteis de Nata (custard tart) from Portugal. Good. Crispy pastry filled with custard and topped with caramel. A bit too sweet for my tastes.

Churros con chocolate from Spain. Good. Deep fried pastry piped into circles that are dunked in a chocolate sauce. I would have preferred more chocolate, there wasn't quite enough.


Young coconut juice from Bangladesh. Excellent. One of may all time favourite drinks. So sweet and refreshing and yum.

Otai from Tonga. Delicious. A watermelon, pineapple and coconut fruit punch. This is always a highlight. It is absolutely delicious and I love it.

Lemonade from Finland. Excellent. I would love to know how it is made. It was more of a bitter lemon flavour rather than the overly sweet variety of lemonade that you usually get.

Take Home Treats

Soft Torrone from Italy. Good.
Rich and chewy and studded with

Biltong from South Africa. Yum. It's a strange thing to like, but I really do. I have gloriously happy memories of gnawing on biltong throughout a road trip around southern africa a few years back.

Potica (Walnut Cake) from Slovenia. Good, but it just couldn't live up to the plum cake I'm afraid.

Milk Tart from South Africa. Very good.
Strangely enough, I never actually ate this
while I was in South Africa. But I love custard
tarts and this is an excellent version.

Plum Cake from Poland. Scrumptious. A real homemade treat. Rich and buttery with lovely juicy plums. And they didn't stint on portions either. The stall was run by some lovely old ladies. I am totally jealous of their grandchildren. I wish I had the recipe.

Almond Biscuits from Bulgaria. Good. Lovely and crisp.

Turkish Delight from Turkey. Divine. I love Turkish Delight. This was lovely and chewy with little slivers of pistachio.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Brown Bread and Butter Ice Cream

Frozen wheetbix. If this sets your mouth to watering, then this is the recipe for you. I personally hate wheetbix frozen or otherwise. So naturally I was very disappointed with how this recipe turned out.

There were a few issues

I was kind of thinking that the bread crumbs would stay hard and crunchy and sugary in the ice cream. After all the cream itself has no sugar and is very bland. But no, they dissolved into mush. I accept this may be due to my cooking. But I don't see what else I could have done. I baked them for longer than the specified time. Any longer and they would have all been black. They were hard and crunchy when they went into the ice cream.

It is almost impossible to cook the crumbs without either some of them either burning or being underdone. This is simply because you cannot get an even sized breadcrumb in a food processer. There will always be some very fine crumbs which toast very quickly.

The butter adds abosutely nothing that I can see other than extra fat. No taste, no texture, nothing. It seems to be there for the name alone.

Oh well. You cannot win them all.

Brown Bread and Butter Ice Cream
(by Tessa Kiros from Apples for Jam)

Process 100gm of brown bread into crumbs. Grease a large baking tray and scatter with crumbs and 100gm of brown sugar. Mix together and then bake for about 12 minutes in a 200C oven. Turn during baking. Leave to cool.

Melt 60gm of butter and toast to a golden brown. Leave to cool.

Whisk 2 eggs with 1 tspn of vanilla extract. Heat 125ml of cream and 125ml of milk to just below boiling point. Gently whisk into the eggs and then pour back into the saucepan and whisk over a low heat until thickened. Cool for 10-15 minutes and than add another 250ml of cream, the melted butter and the crumbs.

Cool and then churn in an ice cream machine.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Orange and Cardamom Ice Cream

For me, orange and cardomom ice cream rustles up all kinds of romantic notions about the middle east. The souqs, the spice markets, long luscious fruit drinks from tiny little stalls. Just down the road is a little middle eastern grocery store which I absolutely love visiting. As soon as you walk in the aroma of spices rolls over you like a wave. It takes me straight make to my travels through syria, jordan and turkey - a fantastic time in my life. It was with this in mind that I decided to try this recipe from the Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander.

I have to say I am in two minds. At first I thought it was awful. Stephanie absolutely insists that you must use concentrated orange juice to get the right flavour. Well, that is fine if the flavour you want is throat lozenges. This was even using a natural juice conentrate. I personally detest fake fruit flavours. Chemical orange is way at the top of my hate list followed by banana and strawberry. I prefer natural or nothing.

But the more I ate this ice cream the more I came around. While I never grew to love the flavour I came to sort of think it was okay.

So much for the taste, what about the texture? Well that was excellent. Lovely and smooth and creamy. It is a more unusual recipe in that you beat a sugar syrup into the eggs to create a kind of zabaglione I guess. I find working with hot sugar syrup to be a bit initimidating, but it turned out to be absolutely simple.

The only issue really was whether you are supposed to let the mixture cool before you churn it. The recipe doesn't specify doing this. But given that my ice cream machine simply would not tolerate warm mixture, I left it in the fridge overnight. Naturally, the volume in the eggs dissipated but the outcome was perfectly fine for me.

Orange and Cardamom Ice Cream
(Stephanie Alexander from the Cooks Companion)

Bring 3/4 cup castor sugar and 1/2 cup water to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lightly beat 4 eggs. Pour on the boiling syrup beating until the volume has doubled. Beat in 1/2 cup concentrated orange juice and the seeds from five cardamom pods. Stir in 11/4 cups of cream. Churn in an ice cream machine and freeze.

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