Soup of the day

Soup of the day

 

Worst. Soup. Ever.


Wedding cupcakes

Wedding cupcakes

I made wedding cupcakes! These were for two really good friends who had one of the loveliest (and most fun) weddings I’ve ever been to. I was pretty proud of myself for these cupcakes, and I’m so happy for my friends. It was so exciting being able to contribute to their big day by way of baked goods.

I’ve blogged about this recipe before – Joy the Baker’s red velvet cupcakes. It really is just about the best cupcake recipe ever.

One day I’ll share the (slightly less elegant) cake I made for the hen’s party…


Easter eggs

Easter eggs

Happy Easter! Here are some Easter eggs I made – hard-boiled eggs, decorated with crayons and coloured with food dye. I made these purely for my own entertainment. They weren’t a ‘fun activity to do with the kids’. (Cause I don’t have any, or associate with many of them. Also, as a kid I thought these Easter eggs were lame – seriously, hard-boiled eggs, that’s it? Meh.) I didn’t even share them with anyone or take them anywhere. I just decorated my own hard-boiled eggs so that I could enjoy looking at them for the few seconds before I peeled them and ate them. Yep. There’s really not a lot more to say about it than that.


Awesome sauce

Tabasco chipotle sauce

People bandy about the term awesome sauce all to readily these days. It’s a pity, really, because it cheapens the term. And it makes it harder to convey just how awesome the Tabasco chipotle sauce is. It’s the definitive sauce. It wins. It doesn’t come in the standard Tabasco bottle, you know, the little one. It only comes in the big bottle, which makes sense; if someone gave you a small bottle of this sauce it would be almost like they gave you nothing. It would be a tease. It would be an insult. This is the kind of sauce you want to slather, not delicately sprinkle, over food. And you want to know that if you need more, there’s more there. Actually, come to think of it, it should only be sold in a twin pack, so you always know there’s more… No, wait, it should be pumped to your house through a chipotle Tabasco sauce tap right next to the water tap… instead of the water tap… no, scratch that, water, while not chipotle Tabasco sauce, does have its own merits.

The photo above didn’t capture the halo that is usually around the bottle. And it’s hard to express the immense sense of well-being that comes from having a full, unopened bottle in your hand. The possibilities! Everything becomes a vessel for sauce. You start planning meals based on what you can put the sauce on. Apparently, people even put it in their coffee.

Anyway, the point is, if you see this sauce, buy it. According to legend, it’s ‘the pride and joy of Paul McIlhenny, president of McIlhenny Company’, the makers of Tabasco sauce (and other things, apparently). He used to only share it with family, and now he’s given it to the world. What a dude.

In the interest of full disclosure, I purchased this bottle myself, and I do not represent the sauce industry or work for the McIhenny Company. But I totes would – they could pay me in sauce and I’d be happy.


Christmas ice-cream

Christmas ice-cream

The first post I put on this blog was a recipe for panna cotta that I made last Christmas, so this post for another Christmas dessert seems to be a milestone of sorts. I guess more than anything I’m surprised I’ve managed to actually blog as much as I have (and I know it’s not a lot), given that my food blogging talents lie more in lurking on other blogs than actually writing my on my own.

I had the idea for this recipe ridiculously early, like in about July or something. I worried that I would forget it for some reason so I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it on my wall. Next to the notes for the important things I need to do, like write a thesis… It came to me when, strangely enough, I was drinking the key ingredient for this ice cream – Pedro Ximénez sherry. I’ve never been a fan of sherry, but Pedro Ximénez is different – it’s thick and sweet and tastes like Christmas pudding. Because I’m a crazy genius, I came up with the idea of putting something that tastes like Christmas pudding into ice-cream and calling it Christmas ice-cream.

This isn’t the most practical recipe to share on the blog because you really need an ice cream maker, which isn’t exactly a common piece of kitchen equipment. I don’t own one either (and I own other single-use appliances such as a pasta maker and a yoghurt maker), but luckily I could borrow my brother’s. Actually, I borrowed from all over the place for this recipe. I wasn’t sure of the best way to get the sherry into the ice-cream, and what other flavours to put with it, so this recipe is very much an amalgamation of many other ideas. For example, the ice-cream itself is the vanilla ice-cream recipe from David Herbert’s The Really Useful Cookbook (it really is, really useful). Then, I searched the internets for dessert recipes with Pedro Ximénez. I thought about adding some chocolate to the mix, but decided that was too complicated or something, and also thought about caramel and raisins, until I remembered that raisins are rubbish. Finally, I decided the best way to incorporate the sherry was to soak dried cherries (even though dried cherries are stupidly expensive) in it for a day or two, based on Joy the Baker’s recipe for cherry bourbon ice cream. Somewhere along the line, flaked almonds also got thrown in the mix.

I think for Christmas day we’ll have this with fresh berries and chocolate truffles. The best thing about it as my contribution to Christmas day lunch is that it’s already done. The worst thing about it is that I made four batches, well, five including the test one, and as a result I have a stupid number of egg whites in the freezer. And I refuse to eat egg white omelettes because the thought of them makes me depressed. First world problems can be such a drag.

Pedro Ximénez, sour cherry, almond and vanilla ice-cream
This recipe makes about a litre of ice-cream.

1/3 cup dried sour cherries
about 1 cup Pedro Ximénez
500 ml full-cream milk
1 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 1 tbs caster sugar
250 ml thin cream
1/3 cup flaked almonds

Put the cherries in a jar with a lid and cover with sherry. Put the lid on and leave for a day or two. I left mine for a day, because I’m impatient, but I think two would have been better.

On the same day you cover the cherries with sherry, you can make the custard base for the ice-cream (it needs to cool completely before you can churn it in the ice-cream maker). Place the milk in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrap the seeds out into the milk. Put the pod in the milk too. Heat over a low heat until it almost simmers and then remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs yolks and caster sugar for 4-5 minutes until thick and pale. I used a food processor with a whisk attachment to do this. Add the milk and vanilla mixture in and whisk until combined.

Put the combined mixture back in the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly. It’s done when it covers the spoon (you should be able to run your finger down the back of the spoon and leave a path for a few seconds). Be careful not to overcook the custard, or let it boil, as it will curdle. It will take about 20-25 minutes, and you really can’t leave the kitchen in this time.

Strain the custard into a bowl, let it cool to room temperature and then put it in the fridge overnight. Discard the vanilla pods.

When you are ready to churn the ice-cream, lightly whisk the cream and then whisk it in to the custard. Churn it in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (these are different for different machines so not worth noting here). While the ice-cream is churning, lightly toast the flaked almonds and let them cool. Strain the cherries (reserving the sherry), and chop roughly. When the ice-cream is almost set, add the almonds, cherries, and 2 tbs of the sherry.

The ice-cream will still be quite soft after it’s churned, so you will need to freeze it for a while before serving. Homemade ice-cream can be a bit hard and need to be warmed slightly before serving, but the alcohol in this keeps it soft and you can serve it straight from the freezer.

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop - Festive Favourites


Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen

Chocolate truffles

I’ve been doing a lot of reading of food blogs for my masters (speaking of which, if you want to help me out by completing my survey of food blog readers, that would be most excellent), and one of the things I’ve noticed is how food bloggers like to talk about being food bloggers. There are numerous posts on food blogs across the world that start with statements like ‘you know you’re a food blogger when…’ or end with ‘…because I’m a food blogger’. To be honest, I think it’s endearing, but I guess I have a bias.

I didn’t really think I was a proper blogger until I went to the Eat. Drink. Blog. conference and Tammi, the MC, opened the conference by saying it was a ‘caveat free zone’ – we were (are) all, one way or another, food bloggers.

Since the conference, I’ve thought about the things that make me a food blogger. Other than, obviously, having a food blog. For example, most of the photos on my camera are of food. It seems I don’t take photos of people anymore. Maybe cannibal food bloggers have cameras full of pictures of people? It certainly would be a niche audience. The other thing that makes me think that perhaps I’m a real food blogger after all is how often I rate things to cook in terms of their blogability (totally a word). For instance, the other week when my friend asked if I would make 120 chocolate truffles for her mum’s wedding, I thought, ‘that would make a good blog post’, rather than ‘no’. What’s more, I didn’t just think it, I went ahead and made them.

Chocolate truffles have been on my list of things to blog about for a while anyway, and the blog really did need a new post. Also, buying 3kg of chocolate is kind of fun. See:

chocolate, 3kg

And here’s how it looks melted:

melted chocolate, lots of

Orange chocolate truffles
I’ve based this recipe on Luke Mangan’s recipe for white chocolate truffles in the October 2002 issue of delicious. I guess that means I’ve been making them for nine years. I used to make them for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter and any other reason. National holidays. Flag days. Tuesdays. Now I just make them for Christmas. And the occasional wedding. You’d think I’d be able to make them neater by now, but I’ve always had a problem with getting them nice and round. These were no different, which is why I tarted them up with some gold foil. I kind of hoped people would be so impressed/distracted by the pretty, shiny gold leaf that they wouldn’t notice how amateur the truffles looked.

For the wedding I quadrupled this recipe, so this should make 30 or so, depending on how big you want to make them. These ones have orange liqueur in them, but I’ve made them in the past with coffee, amaretto, rum and ginger, cherry liqueur – you can really put any flavour in you want.

900g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa), chopped
60g unsalted butter, chopped
110ml thick cream
70ml orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)

Place 500g of the chocolate and butter in a bowl, and melt over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water).

Heat the cream and liqueur in a small saucepan until almost boiling. If it does boil it will likely spill over, so be careful. If it does spill over, get the person who asked you to make the truffles in the first place to clean it up.

Combine the melted chocolate and butter mixture with the cream and liqueur mixture. Pour this mixture, which, incidentally, is a ganache, into a dish and freeze for a few hours.

When the ganache is firm, scoop small balls out and place them on a tray covered in foil. Freeze for several hours or overnight – you want them to be really hard so they don’t melt when you coat them in chocolate.

Take the frozen balls out of the freezer and, if they’re particularly misshapen, you can roll them between your hands until they’re smooth(er) and round(er). You might then need to freeze them again.

Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using a fork, dunk the balls in the chocolate until covered. I sort of rest the ball on a fork, rather than pierce it, and dip it in the chocolate and then wait until the excess chocolate drips off. Then I carefully place the ball on a foil covered tray. Repeat until all the balls are covered and refrigerate until the chocolate is hard. You can dust them with cocoa powder, or sometimes, just before the chocolate is set, I top them with candied orange peel. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, gold leaf.


On grapefruit…

Grapefruit

Recently, I found myself in possession of a grapefruit. Not a lovely pink or ruby red grapefruit, mind you, a regular ol’ yellow grapefruit. It must be tough being a yellow grapefruit these days, living in the shadow of your pink and ruby red cousins. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly enthused by the grapefruit. Had there been gin in the house I may have been more enthused, given that my favourite way to have grapefruit is in a gin and tonic with a splash of Campari. But, my lack of enthusiasm was trumped by my hatred of wasting food, so I set about finding a way to use the grapefruit. I guess, at this point, it could have occurred to me to just eat it, but I’m really not a massive fruit fan. And why does such an ordinary tasting fruit have to be so comically large? Grapefruit are all like ‘Yeah, I’m bitter, but there’s HEAPS of me’. I don’t know… do they want to be eaten or not?

Grapefruit cake

If I can’t combine fruit with alcohol to make it palatable, I usually try to find a way to bake it. And this is what I did with the grapefruit. Remember my lemon yoghurt syrup cake disaster (of course you do, I know how religiously you follow this blog!)? Well, I swapped the lemon for grapefruit. Revolutionary, I know. Swapping one citrus for another has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. Until now… It’s probably a bit early on in the life of this blog to start rehashing recipes, but I can’t think of anything else to write about this turned out so well I thought I’d put it up. Anyway, I’m not reposting the recipe because I didn’t really change it, I just used a bigger pan, which I greased AND lined with paper, and I put grapefruit zest and a couple of tablespoons of grapefruit juice in the cake mixture, and grapefruit juice and some orange peel in the syrup, because I’d used all the grapefruit rind by that stage. The cake is actually really nice with the grapefruit, the vast amount of sugar cancels out the bitterness, and it goes splendidly with a cup of tea and a hangover. Obviously, it would be even better with a pink or ruby red grapefruit.

Grapefruit cake and tea