Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Choc Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one my 'things' - I love making it, I love eating it and I am very particular about it. I hate those artificial tasting ones with the rubbery jelly on the top. I hate the gummy, claggy overcooked ones that taste like creamy nothingness. So while I was thrilled with this week's choice, I was also curious to see how Dorie's version would stack up!

We were asked to bring a dessert for Christmas lunch and rather than make the Key Lime Cheesecake as planned I decided to use this week's TWD recipe to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak).

To make it slightly more festive I chose a chocolate biscuit base with a chocolate cheesecake swirl, fresh raspberries and raspberry coulis. Unfortunately this did not make for a particularly photogenic cheesecake in poor light at someone else's house.

I am actually embarrassed to post this photo so please be kind.

The taste test ...

Ok so it looks crap but it tasted really nice! Honest!

I used 3/4 sour cream and made up the volume with cream so it had a lovely tang. It was really everything you want a cheesecake to be - rich but not sickening, sweet without being cloying. Yum!

I think for a true test I need to make it again with a plain biscuit base and no adornments (or maybe just a swirl of fresh passionfruit and some mango pieces). I preferred the plain to the chocolate swirl parts because the chocolate flavour was too intense. The fresh raspberries in the filling were lovely and you can never go wrong with raspberry coulis either.

I plan on making this again sometime in the next week or so and today purchased some cute mini springform tins (2 round and 2 heart shaped) for that very purpose.Link
Thanks to Anne of Anne Strawberry (whose blog I have only just discovered) for this pick. It's a keeper! You will find the recipe for the original Tall and Creamy Cheesecake here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers December - French Yule Log

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Wow what a challenge! While I was tempted to say I was too busy to even attempt such a complicated recipe I'm very glad I had a go. And really after reading through the recipe a few times and deciding which variation of each component to do, it seemed achievable!

Really this recipe is 6 relatively straightforward recipes in one (or 7 if you count the praline I had to make from scratch for one of the components).

Despite making a huge mess and using practically every pot, pan, spoon, spatula and appliance I own, I only struck a few problems.

Firstly while making the Chocolate Mousse component. The basic technique was to make a sugar and glucose syrup which is heated to the soft ball stage and then to beat this into already whipped egg yolks. My first attempt resulted in this ...

a stringy sticky cobwebby tangle of sugar around the beater which was incredibly hard to remove! Being pregnant I was already concerned about this mix being hot enough to cook the egg yolks and I don't think even a single drop of the sugar mix actually touched the eggs at that point!

So I made 2 extra batches of the sugar syrup, hoping that enough of it would get in to do the job. It certainly thickened up beautifully and became incredibly glossy so I took that as a good sign.

My other main issue was weather related. It was a very hot and humid 33 degrees the day I made this and neither the mousse or ganache actually became firm despite hours in the fridge. In the end I just ladled my soupy mousse over each layer and drizzled in the ganache and it seemed to work.

I also ended up with nowhere near enough icing to cover the log. What I should have done was attempted to spread the icing over the whole log (like a crumb coat) and then made a second batch. But by that stage I was pretty much over it so left it with a relatively festive drizzle which ran down the sides.

The only other issue came with the praline layer. I used my homemade praline with crushed oat flake cereal and ended up with quite a thick slab. This ended up being easy to eat once it was in pieces but none of us had the strength to break it with a spoon in our bowls. 'Scuse fingers!

This was an incredibly impressive dessert which I served at our early Christmas Eve Dinner on the 21st. It was relatively easy to slice after 20 minutes in the fridge and definitely rich enough not to need any extra decoration or accompaniments.

From top to bottom the layers are:
  • Milk/Dark Chocolate Icing
  • Lemon Daquoise
  • Milk Chocolate Mousse
  • Vanilla Creme Brulee
  • Milk Chocolate Mousse
  • Dark Chocolate Ganache
  • Praline Crisp
  • Milk Chocolate Mousse
  • Lemon Daquoise
What a mouthful!

Thank you to Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux for choosing such an exciting and challenging recipe. There is no way I would have attempted this on my own otherwise and their advice in the forum over the past month was invaluable!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Cooking

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a happy day yesterday. We had a lovely Christmas lunch with N's family/friends and as our only obligation was to bring a dessert it was also very relaxing! As usual there was far too much food despite a sincere effort to cut back this year.

On the menu there were 5 (!) types of meat - chicken, turkey, ham, beef and lamb, a potato bake and 3 types of salads, followed by plum pudding with custard, trifle and cheesecake. Yum! Not to mention the prawns, fruit, nuts, cheeses and other nibblies to start with (and can I just say that prawns and I do not mix well at the moment - the smell was nauseating and I made sure to sit upwind of them!)

On a better note we've had a tradition for the past 6 years of so of having a Christmas Eve dinner. Held at one of 3 homes, it is usually with the people we won't be able to spend Christmas Day with. This year was our turn to host and I'm just so thankful the weather cooperated. It was a lovely 27 degrees on Sunday which made the day in the kitchen much more pleasant considering I've reached the stage in my pregnancy where my back and feet are starting to hurt regularly!

Our Menu:

Entree: Fresh beetroot ravioli with walnuts and goat's cheese
Main: Roast turkey breast with cranberry and macadamia stuffing, greens and spicy plum sauce
Dessert: a Daring Baker's challenge to be posted in a few days!

Apologies for the terrible photos but I completely forgot to get out my camera until we were already sitting down at the table ... twice! So don't let the photos put you off, this was a truly fabulous meal!

Beetroot Ravioli with Walnuts and Goat's Cheese
Recipe from The Cook and the Chef

Yes this really is pasta not raw steak!
250g 00 flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon olive oil
100g pureed cooked beetroot

150g goats cheese
50g ricotta
3 tablespoons parmesan, grated
4 cloves garlic, roasted (in foil and squeezed)
2 tablespoons chives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon thyme
salt and pepper to taste

To Serve
lemon zest
20ml walnut oil
50g butter
1 tablespoon chives and lemon thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and chopped
cracked pepper and sea salt
parmesan shavings

Peel the beetroot and boil in a very little water until it is overcooked, then puree. This is one time when you want the beetroot to bleed.

Place the flour in a bowl; add the egg, oil and beetroot pulp. Using a pastry cutter or your hands bring the flour into the egg mixture and gradually combine it until you have a dough. Knead the dough on the work bench for a couple of minutes until it is firm and smooth. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the filling ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste.

Roll out the pasta, using dustings of flour to stop it sticking to itself.

Cut and fill the ravioli, pressing out the edges so that you don’t have double thickness of dough at the edge. Moisten the edge of the ravioli if you need to get a good seal.

Dust off any extra flour, and place in a saucepan of boiling salted water (with a dribble of oil on the surface) until they rise to the top. Drain and douse with evoo.

For the sauce, melt the butter and add the walnut oil and walnuts. Season with herbs and zest and salt and pepper.

Place the ravioli on a plate, drizzle the sauce over the top, and garnish with parsley and parmesan.

Serves 4 as a main (we made double to serve 6 people and still have a big ball of pasta dough in the freezer for another time)

Roast Turkey with Greens, Cranberry and Macadamia Stuffing and Spicy Plum Sauce

We were actually intending to have duck but balked at the price ($10 per breast!) so turkey it was. We choose a 2.6kg turkey breast on the bone, rubbed with Szechuan seasoning and roasted at 200 degrees for just under 2hrs and then rested under foil for 30 minutes. We also made sure to add some chicken stock to the roasting pan for extra moisture and a delicious 'gravy' to pour over the cut meat. The result was one of the juiciest, tastiest turkeys I can ever remember having. Even the leftovers were tender!

We baked the stuffing in a log separately to guarantee the turkey would be cooked through. This is the same stuffing I made for Thanksgiving and you can find the recipe here.

We also served blanched green beans and broccolini drizzled with the remnants of the pasta sauce and extra walnut oil.

The plum sauce was a brilliant find. It would go perfectly with duck (as it was intended to be) but it also elevated a simple roast turkey to something truly amazing.

Spicy Plum Sauce
From Taste.com.au

150ml red wine (we just used some of the plum juice)
2 tbs brandy
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 star anise
1 orange, juiced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs redcurrant jelly
825g can plums, drained, pureed

Place the wine, brandy and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add orange juice, then return to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the mustard, redcurrant jelly and plum puree. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve (making sure to remove the spices).

I had the best turkey sandwich EVER with these leftovers. Fan-friggin-tastic!!!

I'm already looking forward to next year :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Baking

We decided to take the homemade option this year and made lots of yummy things to give as gifts and of course to enjoy ourselves!

Passionfruit Melting Moments
These were lovely but I am slightly discomforted by the little speckles of food colouring that refused to dissolve! You can find the recipe here.

Espresso-Chocolate shortbread
Another successful Dorie recipe. That makes 3 in a row, woo-hoo! These were fabulous. Incredibly easy to make and roll and with a real flavour hit (as long as you like coffee and chocolate and really why would you make or eat these if you didn't??). I only had one little piece as not-yet-born people don't like caffeine.

Fruit Mince Truffles
A variation on a basic truffle recipe (just chocolate, cream and vanilla). You can find the recipe here. We left out the brandy though so I could have some!

Peanut Butter Squares
My all time favourite that I could eat by the truckload! These are Nigella's version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and they come as close as anything else I've tried. Only annoying thing is that is impossible to slice without the chocolate layer cracking (and I've tried everything from letting it sit out, a hot knife, slicing upside down etc ... all to no avail)

Ingredients for the Base

50g dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
50g unsalted butter
200g peanut butter

Ingredients for the topping

200g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
20g unsalted butter

Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer (or just a wooden spoon and a bowl), stir all the ingredients for the base together until smooth. You may find that some of the dark brown sugar stays in rubbly but very small, lumps, but don't worry about that. Press the sandy mixture into a 9-inch square brownie pan and make the surface as even as possible. Place in the fridge to firm up. To make the topping, melt the chocolates and butter together and spread over the base. Place in the fridge to set. When hardened, cut into very small squares as it is incredibly rich and more-ish!

Classic Christmas Cake

It's become a tradition that I make this cake, one for us and one for my grandparents. I was actually quite organised this year and managed to not only soak the fruit for a few days but make the cakes 3 weeks ahead of time so they would mature and taste even more amazing. You can find the recipe here. A huge oversight is a lack of spices (?!?!?) so I always add at least 3 teaspoons of mixed spice or whatever takes my fancy.

We turned all these goodies into gift plates to be handed out on Christmas Day. Yummy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

Just the name says sweet, cosy comfort food don't you think? I don't really have much experience with sugar cookies. I remember making a few as a child and decorating them garishly but they've never been a big thing in our family.

I was originally planning on cutting shapes from these but after reading how puffy and mishapen they could be I went for the easier slice and bake option.

Again, no problems making, chilling, cutting or cooking these. I love it when things go according to plan!

The taste test ...

Oh. My. God. How can something so simple taste so good?? I only baked 1/4 of the dough and the instant they came out of the oven I was wishing I'd done more. They were sweet without being overpowering, slightly crispy around the edges and a little chewy in the middle. Absolute cookie perfection. I was planning on adding a basic lemon glaze but honestly they didn't need anything. Thank you Dorie's Grandma and Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein!

Update - I have since made the rest of the batch, sprinkling some with cinnamon sugar after baking, and rolling a log in raw sugar before slicing and baking. Both divine! These have ended up on some Christmas gift plates and been very well received!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Linzer Sables

One bite of these and I was instantly transported! I can't remember where or when I've eaten these but the taste and aroma of these lovely biscuits was incredibly familiar.

I had no issues at all making these. The dough came together easily, rolled out well, cut well and cooked perfectly. I used hazelnut meal and raspberry jam for these but really the possibilities are endless. I ended up using an apple corer to cut out the little holes in the middle because nothing else was the right size!

I made a full batch of the dough but only cooked 3 biscuits, 1 for each of us. The rest of the dough is biding it's time in the freezer, ready to be made into Christmas gifts. I took the advice of others and made sure to roll the dough very thin, so the whole cookie sandwich is probably 1/4 inch.

The taste test ...

Simply fabulous. The hazelnuts and ground cloves gave it a rich, aromatic earthiness which worked perfectly with the raspberry jam. Loved the crunch! I much prefer crunchy biscuits to soft cakey ones any day. I will definitely be making more of these!

Thank you to noskos of Living the Life for this wonderful pick.

Next week: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies (which I've already made but will wait to post next Tuesday).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Buttery Jam Cookies

So I made these early for a few reasons. Firstly they were the least likely gifts of all the cookies this month. Secondly, I apparently can't read and thought these were actually supposed to be made this week. Doh!

The making of these cookies heralded the arrival of Summer in Brisbane.

Without really thinking I got the butter out of the fridge about 9pm the night before. I got up to a puddle of oil with a blob of yellow in the middle. Ew. I decided to persevere though as these were destined for a morning tea in just a few short hours so I weighed the blob, made up the amount with extra butter and waited a mere 20 minutes for it to be soft enough.

The dough itself was incredibly soft. I think I can blame that on the weather rather than the recipe, but I'm interested to see what everyone else thinks.

The taste test ...

These were very different from what I expected. 'Buttery' made me think of cookies that are slightly crispy around the edges and soft in the middle. These ended up being very soft and very cakey the whole way through.

My tip ... choose your all time, absolute favourite jam for these because that is where the bulk of the flavour comes from. However just as Dorie says, the jam really does add something to the texture, making them slightly denser and chewier than you would expect.

Because of the cakeyness these are screaming out for add-ins. Next time I make these (and I do foresee a next time!) I would add some toasted almonds to the apricot jam, or use raspberry jam with dark chocolate chips.

My only other issue came from baking these in batches. You can see from the photo that some look smooth and others look textured on top. The smooth ones were the first batch. By the time the tray was cool enough to use again the baking powder was doing its job and 'fluffing up' the mix. I liked the look of batch number 2 better!

Thanks to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl for this pick which of course was supposed to be for next Tuesday, 16th December. It was fun!

Sometime in the next 2 weeks - Linzer Sables and Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Coming Soon

No TWD this week for me but keep an eye out for the Linzer Sables over the next few weeks! We are planning on making our Christmas presents this year and these gorgeous cookies will be a wonderful addition. I know they are freezable but I would rather make everything fresh closer to the day.

Thanks to Laurie for being so flexible with this month's posting. I plan on making everything but it won't probably won't be in order or on a Tuesday!

And just because this is such a short and boring post, here is a pic of one of our cats... Yes he is sitting in a paper shredder :)

Giving Thanks

Hmmm about 6 days ago I said this post would be coming 'tomorrow'. Woops!

Even though Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Australia we decided to have a special dinner, and of course we had Thanksgiving Twofer Pie for dessert. It obviously wasn't a holiday here so 'special' in this case meant a lovely roast chicken (which I never do midweek), real gravy (which I hardly ever do) and stuffing (which I only ever make for Christmas). It was really nice to sit down together and enjoy a meal a like this, for no real reason ... just to be together. Which is, I think, the point of Thanksgiving??

Despite a difficult year we do have a lot to be thankful for. Not the least of which being that after our 19 week scan last Wednesday we now know that we are having a healthy baby! Everything looked perfect and we could even count the little fingers on each hand.

We also know the gender because curiosity got the better of us and ...
Back to food for a moment seeing as this is a food blog. This is my recipe for Cranberry and Macadamia Stuffing (which never actually got stuffed anywhere but you can if you want to).

Cranberry and Macadamia Stuffing
a Food.Baby original

approx 200g day old bread, preferably sourdough
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup macadamias, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1 red onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 rashers of bacon, diced
a few good pinches of dried thyme and any other herbs you like
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs

Tear the bread into large pieces then pulse in a food processor to form large crumbs. Set aside.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and fry the bacon until it starts to crisp, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. You shouldn't need to add any oil as the fat will render from the bacon.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the egg) and check for seasoning.

Add as much egg as you need to bind the mixture. It should hold together but not be stodgy.

Pour the mix onto a large piece of alfoil lined with baking paper. Shape into a rough log, roll up and twist the ends to seal.

Bake at 180 degrees C for approx 45 minutes.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers November - Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Frosting

With a recipe title like that is there anyone else whose arteries quivered at the mere thought of this cake??

This fabulous creation is Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe which you can find at Bay Area Bites, and this month's hosts are Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo) and Jenny of Foray into Food. Thanks guys, great pick!

This month's challenge was posted just in time for this to be my Dad's birthday cake back on 10th November. He loves caramel just as much as I do so it was the perfect pick.

The recipe is a little complicated in that it requires a caramel syrup to be made first which is then added to both the cake and the frosting.

My first attempt turned into a hideous blackened mess! Part of the problem was our 30 year old electric cooktop which is about a subtle as a sledgehammer. The other part was me being slightly distracted during which time the syrup went from amber to black and smoking while my back was turned (reading the recipe in my defence!)

My second attempt went better but I probably erred on the side of caution and didn't let it cook as far as it needed to. The taste was still a little sugary rather than caramelly, but it was still delicious and a gorgeous colour!

The cake itself came together beautifully. It did look a little curdled at one stage but I'm used to adding the milk and flour alternately and it always comes back together when the dry ingredients are added.

I tried out a slicone baking pan for the first time and I'm not sure why but it stuck to the bottom and was really difficult to remove. In retrospect it was probably good it happened because I was able to bend and stretch the pan to eventually release it without doing too much damage.

The only other issue I had was with the frosting, which was incredibly dry and crumbly. I ended up having to add double the amount of both cream and syrup to get it to a spreadable consistency. There was also far too much as I ended up with a full 1 1/2 cups leftover.

The taste test ...

The cake itself was incredibly good and one of the few 'caramel cakes' I've had which actually tasted like caramel rather than just sugar. I found the frosting incredibly, tooth-achingly sweet, which is probably the result of having to add extra syrup rather than the fault of the recipe itself. Now I love frosting but I ended up scraping a lot of it off my piece.

Overall a big thumbs up from all the taste testers. We had been out for dinner earlier and then came home to have cake and coffee for dessert. Despite being very full everyone ate their whole piece which is always a good sign!

Would I make it again? Probably, but not anytime soon because of the fiddlyness of the syrup. But for a special occasion it would absolutely be worth it.

Thanks to all the hosts for a great pick. It is something I wouldn't have tried otherwise!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday with Dorie: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

Despite not being in America and not normally celebrating Thanksgiving, we decided to do so this year. I will be posting about our dinner tomorrow because this post is all about the pie!

This week's Thanksgiving inspired recipe for Twofer Pie was chosen by Vibi of La Casserole Carree.

Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie aren't very common in Australia so I always order them whenever I see them on a menu. As with everything else it seems there are delicious versions and horrible pallid stodgy versions. So I was very curious to see what a blend of the 2 would be like!

This is only the second time I have used Dorie's pastry. The last time was for my peach and raspberry galette. We really enjoyed it at the time but I was disappointed with the lack of flakiness. Deb of SmittenKitchen very conveniently posted lots of pastry tips this week and while I tried to incorporate some of her techniques I still ended up with a very shrunk pastry shell! So frustrating!

I initially thought there would be far too much filling but it only spilled over the crust in a few spots, and they were the spots where the crust had shrunk considerably.

I made a few changes to the recipe, using fresh steamed pumpkin as canned is not available here, replacing the corn syrup with golden syrup and using cream instead of melted butter in the pecan filling because I was too lazy to melt any butter! I know all of these things could have affected the cooking/setting time so I wasn't worried about that at all.

It did take far longer to cook than suggested - 1 hr 25 minutes all up - but it definitely needed it and I didn't have any problems with the crust getting too brown like some others did.

The taste test ...

Wow. This was really tasty. The texture was a lot lighter than I expected and it smelt divine. My piece was just warm in the middle which made the icecream start to melt. Yum! I'm really hoping this freezes ok (I know custards can be a problem). There's no way we can (or should!) eat this between just the 3 of us!

Next week: Linzer Sables

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Cookies: Florentines

Hard to believe but there are only 5 weeks until Christmas ... 5! We are planning on making most of our gifts this year and I am going to tackle jam making for the first time which i'm looking forward to. I'll be posting about all the goodies we make over the coming weeks.

I first made florentines as a child and have fond memories of very sticky fingers from both the making and the eating! It is the perfect Christmas biscuit made with with cherries, dried cranberries and of course chocolate. I must admit they were pretty messy to make in the current weather. Humidity and chocolate are not friends! But the end result is absolutely worth it.

This post is my submission to the second annual Eat Christmas Cookies Event run by Susan at Food Blogga. Click here for all the details on how to participate and make sure you visit the round up page to see all the scrumptious submissions by clicking the logo below:

This is a Karen Martini recipe which I copied down while watching Better Homes & Gardens back in September

250g cornflakes
380ml (1 tin) condensed milk
2 tbs honey
150g roasted peanuts
100g dried cranberries
60g glace ginger
100g glace cherries
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1/2 lemon
250g dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 trays with baking paper and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a very large bowl then pour over the honey and condensed milk. Stir well to combine. You can start off with a spoon but you may need to use your hands as it will be very sticky.

Using a 6cm cookie cutter as a guide, spoon the mixture onto the prepared trays. Allow space between them as they will spread a little. (I made half this way and the other half on a biscuit tray).

Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays. Don't try to move them until they are completely cool because they will crumble and break apart.

While the biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.

Using a palette knife, spread a little melted chocolate over the base of each biscuit and then place chocolate side up on a cooling rack to set. This will take around 20 minutes.

Makes approx 30. The biscuits will keep for a week in an airtight container, if they last that long!

Key Lime Cheesecake with Candied Lime Slices

Could there be anything that screams 'Summer!' more than this? The instant I had this idea I knew I would be making it, it was just a question of when. That time came with Sunday lunch with N's mum and it was the perfect end to a meal of perfectly cooked roast lamb.

I've made a lime cheesecake for years now but this recipe will probably become the new go-to cheesecake. I didn't get a great shot of the layers due to bad light but the contrast between crunchy biscuit base, tangy lime custard, creamy filling and smooth sour cream topping was absolutely sublime. Then the candied lime slices on top gave it an extra zesty boost!

There are no other words ... just make it!!!

Key Lime Cheesecake

For the lime custard...
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice (I used 4 tbs bottled)
1 teaspoon lime zest

For the crust...
250g plain sweet biscuits (I always use Nice)
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling...
500g cream cheese, softened at room temp
2/3 cup sugar
2 large whole eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice w/pulp
1 tablespoons lime zest

For the topping...
500g carton sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients for the lime custard and whisk over medium heat until it thickens and bubbles around the edges of the pan. Let bubble about 30 seconds then remove from heat to cool slightly before scraping into a bowl to cool to room temp.

In a food processor, crush the biscuits until they form fine crumbs. With the motor running drizzle in the melted butter and process until combined. Press mixture onto the bottom and about half way up the sides of a 9 x 3" springform pan which has been wrapped tightly with layers of aluminum foil. Place in the fridge to set.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pulpy lime juice, and zest. Mix until smooth and creamy.

Once the crust is set (approx 20 minutes), carefully spoon the lime custard into the bottom and smooth evenly. Then spoon the filling over the lime custard, again carefully smoothing to completely cover the first layer.

Set the springform pan inside the large baking pan and then place on the oven rack. Slowly pour very hot water into the large baking pan until the level reaches about half way up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 45 minutes. It should not be puffy and center will move slightly when shaken. Combine the sour cream with the 3T of sugar and then carefully spread over the top of the cheesecake. Put it back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, just until the topping is set.

Remove the springform pan from the water bath and let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Using a sharp knife, carefully run the knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it a bit. Then cool completely at room temperature. Cover the pan tightly, and refrigerate overnight. Release the sides before serving. Serve cold.

Candied Lime Slices
(I can't remember where I got this recipe from!)

3 limes, scrubbed to remove wax etc
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar, extra
1 cup water

Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Slice the limes into thin rounds and blanch the slices in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and repeat.

Using the same pot, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer then add the lime slices. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the white pith becomes translucent. The thinner your slices the quicker this will happen.

Remove the lime slices and place on a cooling rack to drain and dry for a couple of hours.

Place the extra sugar on small plate. Once the limes are dry coat both sides of each slice with sugar. You may need more sugar.

Store in an airtight container, with greaseproof paper in between the layers to stop them sticking. The slices can also be frozen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Black & White Arborio Rice Pudding

First let me say I adore rice pudding. It is pure creamy comfort in a bowl. But oh how I wish I had read the P&Q before making this one!

I did a few double takes while reading this recipe. First at just 1/4 cup of rice with that much liquid for 4 serves. Ummmm, what the...? Next at just 30 minutes cooking time to absorb 80% of the liquid into such a teeny tiny amount of rice? Eeek.

I have made rice pudding with arborio many times and we always have it in the pantry. The parboiling worked well but there simply was not enough rice. Even after close to 50 minutes cooking time it was still pretty soupy and never really thickened in the fridge.

The taste test ...

Despite the soupiness this was lovely. I much preferred the plain vanilla to the chocolate, partly because the chocolate flavour was too intense but also because it ended up with an odd grainy texture which was not at all appealing. Let the record show that N disagrees with this point - he is all about the texture. So, next time more rice, more cooking and less chocolate. Then we will have a winner!

Thank you to Isabelle of Les Gourmandises d’Isa for this week's pick. Even the weather cooperated, with temps dropping from mid 30s to low 20s (celsius). Perfect for rice pudding!

Next week: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Kugelhoph

Another first for me this week but this one was an absolute winner! Considering I have never made brioche and breadmaking is generally a bit hit and miss I was delighted with how this turned out.

I used a fluted tube pan which was conveniently exactly the size needed so I didn't need to fiddle with baking times etc. While it rose beautifully (I leave the bowl in the oven with the light on) I was a bit concerned by how soft the dough was. The instruction to "pull the sides of the dough away and let it slap down in the bowl" didn't happen because as soon as I touched it I was left with sticky stringy cobwebby bits of dough stuck all over my fingers. After it's final rise in the pan before baking I was still concerned by the consistency because it wobbled like a bowl of jelly, unlike any dough I've ever seen before!

Still, you can't argue with results and this was divine.

The taste test ...

Warm, incredibly buttery and very delicate. I love fruit breads so I left the raisins in and also added the zest of an orange to punch up the fruit flavours. This also helped to give a lovely golden colour. To be honest it really didn't need the soaking in butter at the end but I really wasn't complaining as I licked my fingers clean after my third piece!

I will definitely be making this again. And again and again and again. Yum!

Thanks to Yolanda of All Purpose Girl for this week's pick.

Next week: Arborio Black & White Rice Pudding.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Spreading the Love

I have been very slack in posting a couple of blog awards I received recently. Which is even more shameful considering how gleefully I received them. It's the nicest thing in the world to receive a compliment, which is essentially what all blog awards are, so now it's definitely time to spread the love and pass them on.

Firstly from Karen of Something Sweet by Karen came the E is for Excellent award way back in September. Karen is one of my favourite bloggers and I was stunned that the day she received her award she was considering deleting her blog! That would have been a real loss. Make sure you check out her site if you haven't already for yummy recipes, great stories and truly beautiful photography.

I have picked 5 blogs to pass this on to:

Sass & Veracity

Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Joy the Baker

What Geeks Eat

Mevrouw Cupcake

Next more recently came the Yum-Yum Blog Award from Cakelaw at Laws of the Kitchen, a fellow Australian who whips up yummy (usually sweet) treats on an amazingly regular basis. It's always a pleasure to stop by for some inspiration. I'm not sure what the rules are for this one but I have picked another 5 blogs to pass this one on to:

The Food Librarian


Something Sweet by Karen

Engineer Baker

Veronica's Test Kitchen

Over the next few days I will get around and let everyone know!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Despite the lack of posts over the past week or so I have actually been cooking. And I've managed to make some pretty tasty dinners despite the recent development of light headedness practically every evening. Blah.

So in no particular order (and without recipes because to be honest I just made this stuff up) ...

Chicken Caesar Salad with giant homemade croutons, bacon and lots of crispy cos lettuce

Quick ham and asparagus macaroni cheese

Herb and mustard marinated pork steaks with herbed couscous and greek yoghurt

Chargrilled greek style chicken with rice and coleslaw

Quick vegetable fried rice with bbq pork belly


Tuesdays with Dorie: Rugelach

I have to admit I had never eaten, seen or even heard of rugelach before this week. I actually don't even remember seeing them in Dorie's book when I first flicked through so I had no idea what I was going to find!

While I intended to make them exactly as in the recipe, time and energy ran out so I made do with what was in the pantry ... strawberry jam, flaked almonds, 72% cocoa chocolate and no currants.

I loved the dough. LOVED. Well I love anything with cream cheese actually and ate quite a few little chunks of it while I preparing the dough ... for quality assurance purposes of course!

I also rolled the dough into a (rough) circle but got nowhere near as many triangles as Dorie suggested.

The taste test ...

Hmmm. I have to say these really weren't my favourite thing. They were ok. Not great, but nice. Not sure if that was the combination of ingredients or just me. I can definitely see potential for making them with other fillings and the dough would be fab in a whole range of things. I think it needed a sweeter chocolate too.

Oh well, can't love everything and I'm glad I had a go!

Thanks to Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal for this week's pick. Make sure you check out the other TWDers for better results than mine.

Next week: Kugelhoph!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers October - Pizza!

A big thank you to Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums because I loved this month's challenge! We make pizza at home pretty regularly but lately have resorted to pre-made bases because none of the dough recipes have been turning out very well. Until now that is!

We made 5 different types on 2 occasions and can honestly say the bases were some of the best I have ever eaten, at home or abroad. I am delighted to be able to add this recipe to my repertoire.

We also kept the toppings to a minimum on each - a maximum of 4 ingredients or flavours per pizza which is just how I like them usually. Light and simple and not overly weighed down with cheese.

Apologies for the bad photos. The light in our kitchen is shocking and I wasn't about to let my slices get cold while I played around!

Classic Ham and Pineapple

BBQ Chicken with Red Onion and Mushrooms

Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

Cheesy Potato and Spring Onion

Dessert - Nutella with Flaked Almonds and Raspberries

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast (I used 1 1/2 ts)
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. ( My dough was too sticky and delicate to toss)

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes. (I needed 10 – 12 minutes)

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