Gluten free Self-Saucing Chocolate Puddings

IMG_3932I had a craving the other day for both a chocolate brownie and a chocolate lava cake (what a dilemma I hear you say!) and I just could not decide what to make! Then suddenly I remembered a recipe that I haven’t baked in ages that fits both those bills and is slightly (only slightly) healthier then your average cake! My Gluten free Self-Saucing Chocolate Puddings! Now don’t be fooled, these cakes are not your ordinary gluten free dessert. I have fed this to a Coeliac before, watched them eat the whole thing and then remember their intolerance before asking “wait but this isn’t gluten free, I’m going to get sick”. It was seriously that good that they didn’t even realise that it was ok for them! Additionally, the recipe is so easy you could make it with your eyes closed!!!

So if your after a warm, rich gooey chocolate pudding that literally oozes yumminess then be sure to give this a go! Great for those with a wheat intolerance AND those who enjoy a yummy dessert!!

What you’ll need:
1 cup gluten-free self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup almond meal
65g melted dark chocolate
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
30g butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups boiling water
Double-thick cream/ice cream to serve

What I did:
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and lightly spray 4 large ramekins (or a large baking dish) with some non-stick spray.
2. Combine flour, caster sugar, almond meal and 2 tablespoons cocoa in a bowl. Add milk, vanilla, chocolate and butter and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared ramekins/dish.

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3.Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa in a small bowl and then sprinkle the mixture over the top of each of the ramekins (this will make your sauce). Pour boiling water to cover sugar mixture and then pop into the oven.

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4. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted around the edge of pudding comes out clean. Remember not to cook the pudding too much or you will loose that beautiful rich sauce!

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5. Let them cool slightly (I know that part is hard!) and then serve with cream or ice cream!!

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Happy Baking and Enjoy!!

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 (My bowl after I was done!!)

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Best Ever Waffles

ImageWaffles + Winter = a perfect night in!!

I’ve recently rediscovered a new affinity with waffles and I mean, what’s not to love, soft pillowy cushions of dough drizzled with sweet maple syrup and then dunked into rich chocolate or smothered in vanilla ice cream….oh boy I’m salivating again! I often find though, that when I order waffles from a restaurant or dessert cafe that the waffles themselves are really heavy and doughy, often not quite cooked through in the centre, which for me is super disappointing, especially when waffles are a very once in a while kind of treat (you cant waste a treat on a poorly cooked waffle). So as a result I had just conceded myself to the fact that there were no more waffles for me. But wait, I hear you ask, why can’t you just make some yourself? And right you are! I could make them for myself however I don’t own a waffle iron/press/thingy and I feel that buying one could be rather dangerous to my waistline! This weekend though, my good friend Jamie Oliver revolutionised the way I thought about cooking waffles, suggesting (and showing) that you can actually make them in a griddle pan!! YES!! great success! So after watching the episode (and not writing down the recipe) I found myself following a fan page version of the same recipe.

Essentially, Jamie makes a beautiful fluffy dough, pours it into a hot griddle pan before flipping out a perfectly cooked giant waffle which he then slices into soldiers to be dipped later into hot chocolate. Easy, I thought and on Saturday night I promised my sister that a killer dessert would be served at our girls night in! I was honestly so so excited about the prospect of eating waffles that I pretty much skipped the dinner part of our meal in order to save room for what I imagined were going to be THE BEST WAFFLES EVER!! And finally the time came to get ontomaking them. I decided to halve the mixture as it was just the two of us and diligently followed the fan-page recipe. The final step of said recipe required me to add 1 Tablespoon of bicarb soda, which I thought was quite a lot considering the quantities of the other ingredients. My doubt however, was quelled when the author added something along the lines of “yes I know this seems a lot but i double checked it and a whole Tablespoon is required”. Ok, I thought, that must be right. I let the mixture rest then cooked away before serving what looked like the best waffle I have ever seen. By this stage, I was like a kid at Christmas, filled with so much excitement! This was going to be great! I made melted chocolate pots, scooped ice cream, drizzled maple syrup and cinnamon sugar all over the waffle soldiers before we sat down to eat! Eat your heart out Max Brenner, I thought as I took my first bite….and then I spat it out!

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The waffles had a horrible chemical-like taste to them and while the texture was by far, the best waffle texture I have ever experienced, they just tasted horrid! I was so disappointed! They looked perfect, smelt great, were cooked perfectly, had a lightness and fluffy-ness to them….but were just plain gross. Never before had Jamie Oliver failed me in such a way. I was actually a little devastated.  I am very very sad to say that I couldn’t eat mine and lethargically threw them out. My sister (who has a stomach of steel) ate all of hers, all the while telling me they tasted gross and after some more research discovered that the recipe that I had followed had a typo…I was only supposed to use a teaspoon NOT a tablespoon as instructed!

Needless to say, I have learnt my lesson; number 1, follow your cooking instincts . If you think its wrong then it probably is. And number 2, don’t follow fan recipe pages unless you read all of the feed to get feedback from other bakers.

Aside from all of that though, I’d highly recommend using the correct version of Jamie’s recipe (which I later found online!). The results are honestly so good when done correctly. Perfect, fluffy waffles with a crisp outside and a light, well-cooked centre. Hopefully, you’s taste better then mine (which I’m sure they will because lets face it, Jamie is a genius in my eyes). Serve them with melted chocolate to dip and some vanilla ice cream and you cant go wrong!

You can find the original recipe here:

Serves 4:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 free-range eggs

  • 300 ml milk

  • 225 g self-raising flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 100 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

What to do:

1. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and whisk to combine. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt then whisk until fully combined. Add the cooled melted butter and gradually stir it through the mixture. It’s important not to stir the mixture any more after this or your waffles may be tough. Leave to rest for about 20mins so that it begins to form air bubbles throughout. It looks a little like a bread dough at this stage.

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2. Place your griddle pan over a high heat, add some butter/spray with non-stick spray and pour in the waffle batter, spreading it around to fill the pan using a spatula. Jamie suggests that you could also make smaller waffles, if you prefer – just do 2 at a time.

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3. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook the waffles for around 6 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom. Flip over and continue to cook for around 6 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

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4. Turn out onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into soldiers, or whatever shape you like. Serve with fruit, melted chocolate or ice cream and drizzle with maple syrup.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

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Brown Rice sort-of Seafood Paella

ImageEven though I love baking sweet treats I do spend the most part of my week cooking and eating as healthily as I possibly can. I often try to use recipes that are not so healthy and modify them to make them even better. This can often be tricky as I’m still trying to convince my parents that dinner can still taste great without potato!! But for the most part, they are pretty willing to try whatever strange concoctions I come up with (their pretty great!). So a couple of weeks ago I decided to try a healthy spin on one of my family favourite dishes, Paella. Now Paella in and of itself is pretty good on the health-scale but I of course wanted to see if I could go one better and make it with brown rice instead of a short grain (dad wasn’t too keen and couldn’t understand why I yet again had to change something that I know works perfectly well!) So off to the shops we went, purchasing some beautiful prawns, mussels, squid tubes and choritzo sausage! And then the cooking began. In true Mia style, I’ve researched a whole lot of recipes, putting together all of the best bits and overall I’m really happy with the base recipe. It seems long and fiddly but in reality its just got a few (maybe more then a few) easy steps, that, when put together have a beautiful flavour true to Spanish food.

Normally, (when I use a short grain rice such as arborio) the dish takes about 35-40mins to make but knowing that I was using brown rice I allocated 45-50mins. Off I went, cooking away and the smells and flavours were fantastic (if I do say so myself). I added stock and stirred and tasted and still after almost 45mins the rice was no where near cooked. My family was getting hungry, moving closer and closer to the kitchen so I knew I had to hurry up but there was just no way to speed up the process! I knew that the seafood wouldn’t take very long at all to cook, so I didn’t want to add it until that rice was cooked through. So there I was faced with an ultimate dilemma, keep cooking the rice and have a hungry/angry family or just stick the seafood in and hope that it cooks at the same time as the seafood. I opted for the second option which in the end was not as bad as I had thought. The rice was just cooked through, with a slight firmness to it, while the seafood cooked through perfectly. I’d have to say that the flavours in this Paella were my best by far. Sadly though, (and probably because of the length of the grains of rice) the liquid did not absorb as should happen in a Paella and there was no crispy bottom. As opposed to a traditional Paella, the dish was more a Spanish rice with seafood and tomato sauce, maybe closer to a gumbo then a Paella. That being said, it was absolutely delicious and even my dad (whose not such a fan of brown rice) thought it was great!

So here’s my recipe, I’d recommend it for sure but just allow at least an hour for the rice to cook through and remember that it won’t be exactly like a traditional Paella. But that just goes to show that you can make Paella with brown rice! Alternatively, you can still use this recipe with arborio or spanish rice (I’ve even used sushi rice before and that works a treat!) and could make it with chicken instead of seafood. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!

What you need:

500g Green prawns, peeled

1 Squid tube, cut into rings

1kg Mussels, de-bearded and cleaned

2 sticks of choritzo

1 cup brown jasmine rice

1 onion, diced

1 capsicum

1 tin chopped tomato

1L chicken stock

Smoked Paprika

pinch saffron threads

handful frozen peas

chopped parsley

What I did:

1. First off, chargrill your capsicum over an open flame on your stovetop. I literally leave it sitting on the flame, turning occasionally until the whole thing is black and charred. To remove the skin, pop it straight into a plastic bag and tie a knot in the top. The steam will help to remove the skin and then (while its still in the bag rub it all over to remove it. Take the capsicum out of the bag, rinse under cold water and remove the seeds inside.

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2. Using a food processor, blend your capsicum and diced tomato to make a saucy/liquid,

3. Heat a splash of extra virgin olive oil in your Paella pan and add your diced onion, cooking to translucent but not brown. Then add your diced choritzo sausages and cook for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile heat up your stock in the microwave and add your saffron threads. leave them to “dissolve” and flavour. Add a good dash of paprika to your pan and cook out for 1-2mins, until it starts to give off a beautiful fragrant smell. Then add your brown rice, stirring to coat in the paprika. (I haven’t included a measurement here as its just to your taste).

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4. Finally, add the tomato/capsicum mixture from earlier and about half your stock, stirring it all to combine. Continue to stir your rice, adding more liquid as required for about 45mins (or until the rice is tender and just about cooked).

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5. At this stage, add half your seafood and stir it through, before adding the rest to decorate the top of the Paella. Once this is done, no more stirring, this will help to form a crisp bottom to the rice. Sprinkle with frozen peas and leave for 5 mins.

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6. Before serving, top the whole thing with lots of freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Chocolate Muffins with a Gooey Caramel Surprise

ImageLately I’ve been watching a lot of Masterchef so I decided to give myself an invention test challenge! My sister needed something sweet to take to a friends house and I knew that mum had bought an extra tin of condensed milk (it was on sale this week) so with that i decided something with caramel had to be done. My sisters friend also loves chocolate so I came up with Chocolate Muffins with a caramel centre. Now normally when I cook I tend to look at a variety of recipes and then put together the best components to make my own recipe, but on this occasion I decided to go completely blind just to challenge myself! And it turned out a treat! Beautiful light and fluffy muffins, filled with a rich sweet caramel centre! What more could you want!

I used what I knew about muffins as the basis for my chocolate cake mix (essentially; flour, milk, eggs, sugar, butter & cocao powder) and then used the recipe for caramel that I would normally make for caramel slice! Simple! I also wanted to give my bake a bit of trendy finesse, so instead of using paper muffin tins I decided to use baking paper squares pressed into my muffin tin.

Once the muffins were cooked and cooled I then cut a little hole in the centre, into which I then spooned my caramel mixture! Wow what a combination! I also re topped the hole with the cake that I had removed earlier and then put a nice big blob on top of the whole thing! Overall, I was really pleased and impressed with my bake, especially as it was one of the first times I really went without any guidance on my cooking (even though it was just muffins). I would highly recommend giving this recipe a go, and maybe even adding some salt to the caramel if your a fan of salted caramel like me. Another great reccomendation would be to heat the muffins slightly before eating them so that the caramel melts a little! mmm yum!

Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

What you’ll need:

2Tbs Cocoa Powder

1 Cup self raising flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

80g melted butter

1 cup milk

1 tin condensed milk

1Tbs butter

2Tbs golden syrup

What I did:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Sift your flour and cocoa powder, then add your sugar, egg, melted butter and milk. Mix on a low speed with an electric mixer until combined then turn up the speed for about 2mins until the mixture is light a fluffy.

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2. Lightly spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray then line with squares of baking paper (you could use pre-bought muffin cases). Divide the mixture between 6 muffins and then pop into the oven. They should take about 15mins but test with a skewer to ensure that they are fully cooked. Leave to cool completely.

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3. Meanwhile, add your condensed milk, butter and golden syrup to a saucepan and cook over a low heat. Remember to stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn or get stuck to the bottom. Continue until the caramel turns to a nice dark rick colour.

4. Allow the caramel to cool.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut a small hole into the top of each muffin, keeping the cut out piece of cake. Spoon or pipe your caramel into the hole and then re-top with the cake piece. Add a nice dollop of caramel to top the whole thing off!

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Mediterranean Stuffed Squid with Tomato Salsa

ImageCooking with seafood is often quite daunting for me, particularly because I’m not overly experienced with it. That being said, my family and I have always loved our Seafood and after a trip to Greece last year I reaffirmed my desire to try my hand at cooking stuffed squid tubes. The only thing I was missing was a great recipe (squid tubes are a tad expensive so I was keen to have a recipe that was tried and tested and that I’d know would be a big hit with my family) and luckily, after watching an episode of My Kitchen Rules I felt inspired. Two of the shows contestants cooked a beautiful Mediterranean style stuffed squid, serving it on a rich tomato salsa and a crisp salad. I knew this would be a great dish to cook for lunch for my mum this past weekend (here in Aus it was Mothers Day!). I did have a few variations on the original recipe which can be found here, so here is my take on the girls recipe! Originally I wasn’t going to make the salsa but in the end i am so glad that i did! It really lifts the dish and looks fantastic for presentation!

Hope you enjoy and happy baking!

What you’ll need:

  1. 5 whole baby squid, cleaned
  2. 1 tbs olive oil

Squid Stuffing:

  1. 120g medium grain rice
  2. 6 Green Prawns, peeled
  3. 2 tsp olive oil
  4. 250g chorizo, chopped
  5. 1 onion, finely chopped
  6. 30g chopped pine nuts, toasted
  7. 30g sultanas
  8. ¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Tomato Salsa

  1. 3 tomatoes diced into large chunks
  2. 2 tsp olive oil
  3. 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  5. 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  6. ¼ cup pitted black olives, chopped (I used mixed Olives)

What I did:

To make stuffing:

1. Cook rice in a saucepan of boiling until tender (about 10 mins). Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add chorizo and onion. Fry until onion is soft and brown and then add your peeled prawns (cut into smaller chunks). Cook until prawn is cooked through before adding your cooked rice, pine nuts, sultanas and parsley.

3. Leave to cool completely.

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4. Once cool, spoon mixture into squid tubes, firmly compacting it and then seal the end with a toothpick.

For Salsa:

1. Preheat your oven to 200C. Place your diced tomatoes onto a tray, drizzle with a little oil and roast until tender and slightly collapsing.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook your onion, garlic and chilli until soft. Stir in tomatoes and olives. Season. I also added a little parsley and lemon juice for flavour but thats up to your tastes.

Cooking the Squid:
1. Rub squid all over with oil and season. Meanwhile heat your pan to a very high heat. Add the squid and cook for about 5 minutes, turning so that all sides are cooked through (you can tell that its cooked when it turns from translucent to a white colour). Ensure that you don’t overcook the squid. I found it hard to get the ends to cook as they couldn’t touch the pan due to the toothpicks. To overcome this, remove the toothpicks right at the end of cooking (by now the rice should be cooked and hold in place) and then tilt the ends so that they touch the pan and cook.
2. When serving, make thick cuts in each squid tube so that you can see stuffing, without cutting all the way through. Lay onto plate on top of the salsa

Enjoy!!Image

 

 

Element 6 Cafe

ImageAs a kid, I never really stuck to the whole “3-meals-a-day” thing but sort of spent my days grazing away as I pleased. As I got a bit older and discovered the concept of “brunch” I felt excited at the prospect of having another reason to keep eating away. Nowadays though (and as my trusty metabolism has started to slow down a bit!) I tend to think of brunch as a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family on the weekends over a lovely cup of coffee and a plate of something delicious involving eggs. For me, the best sorts of places are those hidden gems; little local cafes that serve up beautiful homely food at a recent price. The service is friendly and laid back and the decor is warm and inviting. Sadly though, if asked for a local venue that fits this bill I probably wouldn’t be able to think of one. I mean, its not that my immediate local area in Sydney doesn’t have something to cater to this need, but more that I personally am not aware of any such places. Instead, I often venture to places in Rozelle or Alexandria, areas that have sort of made a name for themselves as Sunday brunch venues. Luckily for me though, a friend of mine recommended a fantastic little place thats super close and absolutely stunning, Element 6 at West Ryde.  

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The cafe itself is located amongst an odd collection of old corner and specialty stores on the slightly less pleasant (visually) side of the train station but don’t let that put you off. When you arrive, your greeted by some of the friendliest group of staff I have ever encountered! Literally nothing seems to be too much to ask of them and they somehow always manage to find you a table. The decor is a little unusual, with a collection of random artefacts around the walls but I think they were very much going for an eclectic artsy feel. My mum comments that its a bit like they’ve furnished the cafe with bits and bobs that they found in the op shop two doors down and I’d have to say that I tend to agree with her. That being said, I didn’t really mind that “look”, its comfortable and an inviting.

Taking a look at the menu, I really struggled to decide what to choose because there were so many delicious sounding options. In the end I went for the Moroccan Spiced baked Eggs with haloumi cheese and chickpeas and wow I wasn’t dissapointed. I was presented with a huge moroccan ceramic dish filled with two perfectly cooked eggs (runny in the centre) baked in a rich tomato sauce throughout which were loads of chickpeas and capsicum. On top were two lovely pieces of crisp haloumi cheese, which added a perfect level of saltiness and a fantastic spice blend similar to a dukkah! Every mouthful was heaven! to soak up all the goodness, a soft Egyptian bread was baked and placed on the side of the board. Now I don’t often eat bread but when I do its only if I know its a good one and wow was this bread good! So soft and fluffy and just perfect in every way! I was stuck in a weird position of not wanting it to end but being super full so in the end…i ate it all! To wash it all down I had the HoneyBee Smoothy which was a rich and thick combination of fresh banana, yogurt, honey and cinnamon! You can’t go wrong with that combination!

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My sister also ordered the N6 Eggs which included two huge pieces of organic sourdough bread topped with a mound of buttery, garlicy mushrooms, haloumi cheese, spinach, roast tomato and two perfectly poached eggs! Another divine dish, which I can safely support, considering I had it a couple of days later when we returned! My mum also commented on the coffee, which was nice and hot and very flavoursome!

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Overall, i would highly recommend a visit to this local favourite! A friend of mine eats there weekly and can not stop raving about it! Next time I think the french toast with mascarpone, seasonal poached fruit and pistachio praline will need a definite look in, I mean how can you resist that!! Yum Yum!!

French Flair

ImageA few months ago I discovered Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen and immediately fell in love with the simple, yet delicious recipes she had on offer! Every Thursday night I would rush to my TV with pen and paper in hand, frantically scribbling down her recipes, and giving cross looks to anyone who dared to speak or ask questions (for the duration of the episode my family was sworn to silence!) Every dish was a beautiful celebration of Parisian culture and fresh ingredients and I can honestly say that I sat licking my lips for the most part! I was absolutely devastated when the series finished, and also somewhat disappointed at the BBC’s poor efforts of uploading recipes to their online website (she has a cookbook though which I plan on investing in very very soon!)

One of my favourite must try recipes though was her Chocolate Mousse, which was by far the most decadent, light, creamy, fluffy mousse I have ever tasted! While Rachel served hers with cocoa nibs I made some chocolate bark to top it with, but either option would work perfectly. Sadly I was too excited to eat the mousse to take any pictures of the process so you will have to trust me when I say MAKE THIS DISH!! Especially if you like chocolate, and even if you don’t it will change your mind! It’s not overly sweet but perfectly balanced. Be warned, you’ll only need a little as it is very rich!

So here it is, Rachel Khoo’s Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

For the crème pâtissière (pastry cream)
  • 3 free-range egg, yolks only
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 20g/1oz cornflour
  • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
For the chocolate meringue
  • 3 free-range eggs, whites only
  • 50g/2oz icing sugar
  • couple drops lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 200ml/7fl oz whipping cream
To serve
  • 2 tbsp soft butter
  • 50g/2oz cocoa nibs

Preparation method

  1. For the crème pâtissière, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thick, then whisk in the cornflower.
  2. Add the cocoa powder to the milk and bring to a boil then switch off the heat.
  3. Pour the milk in a slow stream onto the egg mixture, whisking vigorously all the time. (Pour slowly to avoid scrambling the egg.)
  4. Return the mixture to a clean pot over a medium heat and whisk continuously. Make sure to scrape the sides and the bottom, otherwise it will burn.
  5. The cream will start to thicken. Once it releases a bubble or two, take it off the heat.
  6. Pour into a shallow bowl. Cover with cling film (pat the cling film so it sticks directly on to the cream) and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
  7. For the meringue, put half the egg whites into a clean glass or metal bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until white.
  8. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks when the whisk is removed.
  9. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water) or in the microwave on a low setting.
  10. Whip the cream until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.
  11. To make the mousse, beat the chilled crème pâtissière to remove any lumps before stirring in the melted chocolate. Mix in one third of the meringue, then gently fold in the rest followed by the whipped cream.
  12. To serve, brush 4-6 glasses or ramekins with soft butter. Add some cocoa nibs and roll them around the sides and bottom of the glasses until evenly coated.
  13. Divide the mousse between the glasses and chill for at least an hour, but ideally four hours. Serve chilled, sprinkled with cocoa nibs. The mousse is best eaten the same day and should not be kept for more than two days (due to the raw egg whites).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-KWWKGJK1U

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Chocolate Ganache Tart with salted Peanut Brittle

ImageTonight I’ve got a family dinner to celebrate my cousins return from Canada, so what better opportunity to make a tasty, rich dessert! After my deliberation I finally decided to go with a chocolate ganache tart, because, lets face it, who doesn’t love chocolate. But in the back of my mind I just kept replaying something that I heard on my favourite cooking show (my kitchen rules), a ganache tart is far too rich on its own, dark chocolate or otherwise it needs something else to break the chocolate-ness! Now for some of you I am sure this seems like a travesty, when can chocolate be too chocolate but the more I thought about it, the more I tended to agree. So what breaks through chocolate like nothing else, why salted Peanut Brittle of course! It also adds a level of crunch to the dish, which I am started to learn is important when considering and planning a menu, all the senses need to be engaged. If all this thinking was enough for you, I also need to make a dessert that is gluten free! Yikes! Gluten free shortcrust pastry, now there is an added level of stress! But to my surprise it worked out really well for both the regular recipe and the gluten free.

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To make the whole process easier, I made my tart one long rectangular shape (using a spring form tin which I feel is a must for thissort of thing) as opposed to making small individual tart shells. If you were pressed for time you could of course buy a store bought pastry shell, but I feel try to steer away from store bought shortcrust pastry if you can, I don’t feel it will work as well with this recipe. If you’re really pressed try and use crushed up biscuits with melted butter and coconut through instead! The other issue I had (and shhh don’t tell anyone) is that when I lay my pastry into the tart case, the side walls broke off due to the sharp edge of the tin. I simply pressed them back on and hoped for the best, and for the most part this worked. In some places though I did have cracks so I simply re-rolled a small piece and baked it individually, using this to cover the hole! Not my finest work but hey a bakers got to do what a bakers got to do! Another tip is to let your ganache firm up slightly in the fridge before pouring it into your tart shells. This ensures that if there are any leaks, the ganache is thick enough not to seep out, leaving you with a half full shell. Finally, make sure you make this the morning of or day before you want to eat it as it needs some time to set. And now for the hardest part…. resisting the temptation to eat it all before tonight! Wish me luck! 

You’ll Need:

Shortcrust Pastry:

100g Plain flour (GF Plain flour to substitute)

50g Diced cold Butter

1 pinch baking powder

1 pinch salt

1 Egg

30g Caster Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

*NB If making Gluten free 2 TBS of Almond meal also required

Ganache:

50g Milk Chocolate

100g Dark Chocolate

160g Cream

25g Butter

Peanut Brittle:

80g Sugar

20g Water

60g Glucose

90g Peanuts (Raw and unsalted)

Pinch Salt

1tsp Butter

1/2tsp Bicarb Soda

What I did:

Pastry:

1. Put plain flour, butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla in bowl (GF add almond meal) and mix through with your fingers to create a sand-like texture. Add your egg and continue to mix lightly together until just combined in a dough (DONT OVERMIX/OVERWORK IT). Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 15mins to rest.

2. Kneed lightly once or twice on a well floured surface then roll out to desired thickness. Lay into a well-oiled tray and prick the base of the tart with a fork. Fill with baking beads and put into a preheated oven of 200 degrees Celsius (you may have to turn this down later for the last 10 mins). Bake for 15mins and if required, lower the temp to 180 degrees and bake for a further 10.

3. Leave to cool before removing from pastry case.

Ganache:

1. Put your cream and chocolate into a double boiler (bowl on top of a saucepan with water in) on a medium heat. Stir untill chocolate is melted.

2. Remove from heat and add your butter. Pop it in the fridge for an hour or so until cool and thickened slightly

3. Pour into the tart shell to fill and then pop the whole thing into the fridge to set completely.Image

Peanut Brittle:

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1. Put water, sugar and glucose into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Continue to boil for 30seconds before adding peanuts. Cook to a medium caramel colour, stirring continuously. Don’t let it get too dark as it will continue to cook once you take it off the heat. This is very important!

2. Remove from heat and stir in your butter and salt. Add the bicarb soda and continue to mix well before pouring into a lined baking dish. Put into the fridge to set and cool.

3. Once hard, break up using a rolling pin or hard cooking utensil and sprinkle generously over the top of your tart (nows a good time to have a “taste test”.

4. Serve and enjoy!

A beautiful rich chocolate tart, with a salted peanut brittle to break through the sweetness! Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

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Japanese…Yes Please!!

ImageThe words ALL YOU CAN EAT tend to catch my eye any day of the week. Add to that Japanese and you’ve got yourself a winner! Recently, my sister discovered a beautiful little Japanese restaurant in Sydney’s Glebe which I just have to share with you all. Mori Sushi (175 Glebe Point Rd) offers one of the best all you can eat deals that I have ever seen. Last weekend my family and I went for dinner and opted for the $30 all you can eat menu (the restaurant offers 3 types all ranging in price). What’s great about this restaurant is that you can literally order any dish off the menu and stay and eat for as long as you like!! I’m not even exaggerating. The first time we ate there I was a bit sceptical because it all just seemed too good to be true but then our lovely waiter explained that you truly could order anything in as many quantities as you liked! There were no rules that stipulated you must finish a dish in full before you can order another or that you could only order one dish at a time, the waiter even encouraged us to eat as much as we possibly could! And after we had finished there, I’m not sure how they could possibly be making any money!

Throughout the evening we ordered an assortment of hot and cold dishes (probably a few too many to name them all) but one of my all time favourites were the Yakitori (chicken teriyaki skewers)! Moist pieces of chicken, floured and fried to give a crispy finish before being marinated in a rich, thick teriyaki sauce and served on skewers. Mmmm yum! I probably ate about 5 because it was just so delicious! Another surprisingly tasty dish (which I had no expected) was the Crunch sushi roll which was an inside out roll filled with crab meat and cucumber, deep fried to give a crispy outer shell to the rice. Wow! It was like a Japanese version of arancini!! Image

Other recommendations include the sashimi salad, which was beautifully light and fresh with a large portion of mixed sashimi on top and the seafood hotpot, a light miso broth filled with a whole assortment of mixed seafood (including a whole fish!) and served in a stone bowl and kitchen stove/oven! It was very very tasty and a perfect Winter warmer I would imagine. You can’t go past the prawn tempura which is one of the lightest tempura dishes I have ever tasted, and doesn’t leave you feeling overly greasy. 

Aside from all of the wonderful food (from which you really can not go wrong) the waitstaff are so friendly and welcoming, encouraging all of their patrons to eat until their hearts are content. Whilst the majority of people dining on Saturday night were doing the all you can eat deal, food was very fast to be served and of a beautiful, high quality. Everything was very fresh and beautifully presented, especially the mixed sashimi plate, which included a huge collection of fresh sashimi (prawn, salmon, tuna, kingfish and scallop).

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Finally, after almost 2 hours of eating and chatting we were finished and what a beautiful meal it was! Trust me, don’t have lunch before you go and be prepared to eat (maybe wear loose pants too!). Overall, I would highly highly recommend a visit to Mori Sushi. Even if your not interested in the all you can eat menu, the a la carte menu is very reasonably priced and includes a fantastic range of dishes. Hope you enjoy it as much as we all did! PS, I’ll be back for a third visit ASAP!

 

Ricotta, Almond and Lime Cake

I love Ricotta cakes!! They are so light and fluffy and best of all creamy and when used correctly really lift any basic cake recipe to make it something really special. I’ve mostly heard of people using Ricotta in baking to make a ricotta cheesecake (also very very delicious) but on Friday I caught an episode of Good Chef Bad Chef that really got my attention. The shows host Adrian Richardson was baking a beautiful Ricotta, Almond and Lime Cake which just looked divine! So moist and fluffy I was actually salivating watching the whole thing!Image

It was also quite perfect as I had a family picnic planned for the next day (sadly the weather did not agree) and I was hoping to make something sweet to take along. What I really really love about this recipe is that it is so unbelievably moist and light, which is perfect for a Sunday afternoon tea or picnic in my case. Its also not overbearingly sweet, so it’s perfect for more mature taste buds and is gluten free. On top of all of that, it uses ingredients that most people already have in the pantry, making it quick and simple to make! 

I’m going to include the recipe below but again, please remember that this one isn’t my own so I most definitely (and sadly) can not take credit for the flavour explosion that is about to occur in your kitchens once you give it a go! One thing that I think might add to the whole cake for next time (if you were going to perhaps serve it as a dessert at home with a scoop of thick clotted cream or ice cream) might be a lime sugar syrup (lime juice, sugar & water), poured over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. A bit like a Greek style semolina cake. Anyway, the choice is yours because either way this cake is heavenly!! 

What You’ll Need:Image

250g ricotta cheese (I used light)

4 eggs, separated

1 tsp almond extract or amaretto

175g caster sugar

2 cups almond meal

Finely grated rind of 1 lime

¼ cup flaked almonds

¼ cup pistachio, chopped

What I Did:

1. Preheat your oven to 150C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm loose bottom cake tin.

2. Beat together the ricotta, egg yolks, almond extract and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in the almond meal and lime zest.

3. Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture to loosen, then fold in the remaining. Spread into the tin, sprinkle with the almonds and pistachios, and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.Image

4. Cool slightly, then turn on to a wire rack. Cool completely and then serve with a dollop of clotted cream, ice cream or as it is. (If adding a sugar syrup I would do this now, as soon as you take it out of the oven. Simply pour the syrup slowly over the top and let it absorb into the cake as it cools).

(Recipe taken from http://www.goodchefbadchef.com.au/recipes/785-ricotta-lime-and-almond-cake).

Enjoy and happy Baking!!

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