Chur Burger

ImageIn honour of it being National Burger day here today I thought I’d do a little review on an awesome place I visited on the weekend, Sydney’s Chur Burger! I’ve wanted to visit Chur burger for ages and finally on Saturday night I got my chance. After we had driven around for what felt like forever to find parking we arrived at a small little restaurant/cafe space with a whole lot of people waiting outside! In my mind I was thinking “just great, every other Sydney-sider has also had the same idea as me and also come here tonight!” but luckily the friendly staff at the door took my details and ensured me it would only be a half hour wait. Thankfully, the Ridges was located across the road, so we just popped in there for drinks (I think that most of their customers, if not all, were doing exactly the same thing as us). While we waited, we got chatting with the bar staff who assured as that the wait was this long every night, even on weekdays, and then like clockwork, exactly half an hour later my phone rang with our table! Yay!

If you’ve not heard about Chur burger before (then your missing out!), but think of it as a trendy little burger bar located in Sydney’s Surrey Hills. The bar is owned and run by New Zealand chef Warren Turnbull, which gives some reasoning for the bar’s name (the word “Chur” apparently, is a slang New Zealand term meaning awesome, cool or thanks!). As we entered I found myself in a really cool, very laid back room, which, while small was filled with groups of people. The seating and decor was very eclectic, and I suddenly realised that I was actually sitting on a giant paint tin turned upside down with a cushion on top! It was all very Surrey Hills! Once you walk in you order your food from the bar to your right (they serve alcohol too) and then take your place at your table. The whole thing really reminded me of an old school milk bar with lots of shared tables and benches to sit at.

Between the three of us (myself, sister and boyfriend) we ordered two of the Pulled Pork Burgers ($10) and a Grilled Beef Burger($10)  as well as a bowl of chips with chilli salt ($5) and sweet potato fries with lime and garlic ($5). To drink, the three of us all got the salted caramel milkshake ($8) because, well lets be honest who wouldn’t want a salted caramel milkshake!

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The food arrived quickly but no so soon that you felt rushed. Often at “food bar” type establishments (particularly in Surrey Hills) I feel like I’ve got to eat quickly so that they can turn over the table but not here. We were presented with a beautiful big burger each and wow, just wow it was so good! Just as a burger should be, not showy or fancy but just a good old fashioned burger on a soft fresh bread bun. My Pulled Pork was for sure the winner, with tender pork meat, BBQ sauce, red cabbage and fennel mayo all served on a soft brioche style bun! Seriously so damn good, I couldn’t fault it! The Beef burger was also delish, and I was impressed that the patty was cooked perfectly medium rare! Wow! That one was served with tomato jam, pickle, cheese and mustard mayo, you can’t go wrong there! 

The chips were also amazing, with a crispy finish and light coating of chilli salt. i think my favourite though were the sweet potato fries where the combination of lime, garlic and cinnamon really got my taste buds going. And if your wondering, both styles of chip were the proper old fashioned fat cut! YUM!! I’d probably recommend sharing the chips as the serve is really big, even the three of us with our huge appetites couldn’t finish it all!

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The highlight for my taste buds though was the milkshake which, dare I say it, would have to be one of the best milkshakes I have ever tasted! I felt like I was drinking a salted caramel macaron. It was honestly everything a milkshake should be, served in a tall silver milkshake glass, thick and rich and full of flavour it did not disappoint! Almost a meal in itself.

I think that the only downside to this place was the noise/heat level that quickly built inside and I had to remove myself for a bit to get some fresh air. Aside from that though I can’t wait to go again! Get down there Sydney-siders, this place is sure to impress!

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Cheeky Tiramisu

ImageTiramisu is a classic Italian Dessert and one of my absolute favourites to make because it is just so damn easy! When it’s made properly, its a light creaming dessert that combines a subtle coffee flavour with soft, sponge-like biscotti! How can you go wrong with that!

Personally, I would really recommend this recipe for a dinner party where you want to impress your friends or family. The reason that I say this is because you can make the entire dessert the day before (it actually tastes better if you do this), meaning that you get to spend more time with your guests and less glued to the kitchen! Aside from that, most people tend to think that something that tastes as good as this does is really tricky to make! Thankfully for us home-cooks it is truly one of the simplest desserts to make. Now if that wasn’t enough to entice you, my recipe is kiddy friendly (I didn’t have any alcohol to add to the coffee mixture, but you of course could). PS Recipe serves 4

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What You Need:

1 Cup Cold Espresso Coffee (use better quality for a better taste and please avoid using instant coffee granules if you can!)

200 grams savoiardi biscuits

2 large eggs

75 grams caster sugar

500 grams mascarpone cheese

Cocoa powder (to dust)

What I Did:

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1. Break your eggs into a bowl, keeping only one of the whites. Add the sugar together and whisk together until thick and a paler yellow.

2. Fold in the mascarpone to make a moussy mixture.

3. Pour your cold coffee into a bowl (add alcohol here if you choose) and quickly dip one biscuit into the mixture at a time. Remember it should just be a quick dip on either side of the biscuit as they are very delicate and you don’t want the flavour to be overpowering. As you dip one biscuit into the coffee quickly transfer it to your serving dish (I’ve gone with individual wine glasses but anything with be fine. For my dish, I had to break the biscuit once soaked).

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4. Pour your cream/mousse mixture over the top and spread it smoothly using a spatula (or if presenting like me add some to your glass, continuing the layering process until you have enough). 

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5. Using a sieve, dust liberally with cocoa

6. Put into the fridge to set for at least 4 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Happy Baking!!

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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Healthy Summer Salad

ImageIf you’re looking for a Summer salad idea then look no further! Here’s a recipe for one that I made almost by accident this week (I had a few ingredients in my fridge that were about to go off so I threw them altogether). This salad is fresh, vibrant, tasty and very very healthy and combines pomegranate, sweet potato and quinoa to make a modern tabouli style salad. It’s really easy to make as its one of those chop it all up and throw it together kind of things! I served it with dukkah crusted chicken (which I just baked in the oven, so no oil required at all) and it was such an amazing, flavoursome dish. Great for BBQ’s too! If you’re unsure about where to buy quinoa, most supermarkets sell it now but it can also be purchased from health food stores. Its similar to couscous but is a grain as opposed to being made from wheat, so is suitable for people on a gluten free diet. It’s very easy to cook, simply bring to the boil in water and simmer away (takes about 15 mins depending on quantities) and can be purchased in a variety of colours, any of which are perfect for this recipe. Give it a go, you might be surprised by the taste! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

What You’ll Need:

1 cup cooked Quinoa (Follow packet instructions and then allow to cool)

1 Sweet potato (peeled and diced then bake in the oven until soft)

1 tsp ground Cumin

1 bunch flat leaf Parsley (roughly chopped)

3 Spring onions (finely sliced)

1 can of Chickpeas (rinsed)

1/2 lemon juiced

1 Pomegranate (seeds removed)

Salt and Pepper to taste

What I Did:

1. Combine all your ingredients in a bowl together and toss lightly. Check your seasonings and add more lemon juice/salt/pepper/cumin as you’d like. You can also drizzle with some olive oil for a lovely rich flavour. Serve as a side dish for chicken or red meat or use for your lunches during the week.

You could serve this salad warm but be mindful that your parsley doesn’t wilt (let the quinoa cool slightly before putting it altogether). Tomatoes are a lovely addition and my favourite are the cherry type and pumpkin could also be used if you don’t like sweet potato.

(NB A helpful way to remove the seeds from the pomegranate is to tap it firmly all over the outside before you cut it. Using a wooden spoon is a good idea. This will loosen the seeds so that when you do cut it in half, they should fall out easily when the pomegranate is lightly squeezed. Be careful not to get juice on your clothing though as it will stain very easily. I have read that vinegar helps to get it out)

Bonkers for Banoffee

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A friend of mine is moving to Singapore later this week so naturally I wanted to make her something special for her farewell dinner. I’ve always wanted to make a Banoffee pie but I’ve never really mastered the whole home-made caramel thing, so I was always a bit worried to try a dessert where the main component was caramel. Here in Australia, Banoffee isn’t a very popular dessert so the first time I tried it was on holidays in Malta and I absolutely loved it! My sister is also a huge fan of it (probably a bit more then me) and to be honest I can’t blame her, I mean who could resist crumbly, buttery pastry filled with rich caramel, fresh banana and topped with meringue! I knew this was the perfect dessert to try out, especially after I read about a very interesting way to make caramel (involving condensed milk and boiling water!)

I decided to use the same pastry recipe that I used in my fruit mince pies but this time I halved the quantities. Alternatively you could also use crushed granita biscuits mixed with melted butter but I really like the texture and crumbly-ness of this recipe. If you’ve got the time then I’d recommend it. You’ll need to start the process early though as you’ll need 3 hours plus to make the caramel (trust me its so worth it! the caramel is a thick, rich, sweet consistency that I’ve never achieved before). I also decided to change the shape from a regular round pie shape to a tart shape, either way will still be delicious! Give this a go and enjoy, you wont be disappointed!!

What you’ll need:

Pastry:

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1/4 cup icing sugar

1/4 cup almond meal

1tsp baking powder

80g cold butter

1 egg

1/2tsp vanilla essence

1TBS cold water

Caramel:

1 tin condensed milk

Meringue:

2 Egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

Extra:

1 large banana

2 tsp cocoa powder

 

What I did:

1. Fill a large pot with water and place your tin of condensed milk inside (IMPORTANT: Make sure that the pot is deep enough for the tin to be completely submerged in water the entire time. If it comes uncovered, the tin will explode. You will need to keep checking on it and top up the water as it needs). Bring it to the boil and leave to boil for 3 hours

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 (yes thats right 3 hours). Once its done leave it to cool completely before you open it. It will look like this >

2. In a processor, combine the flour, icing sugar, almond meal, baking powder and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add your vanilla, egg and water and process until it forms a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed lightly before wrapping in cling wrap and pop it into the fridge for 20mins.Image

3.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry on a well floured surface (to about 0.5cm thick) and lay into your prepared baking dish. Cover it with a piece of baking powder and fill with baking beans/rice. Bake for 15mins or until slightly golden in colour. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

4. Once cooled, remove the beans from the tart shell and fill with the caramel. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top and top with sliced banana.

5. Using an electric beater, beat your egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add your sugar until it no longer feels grainy and makes stiff peaks when you lift the beaters out of it. Spread the meringue mixture over the top of your tart and then pop it back into the oven. Bake for about 10minutes but be sure to keep an eye on it as the meringue can colour quite quickly. If it starts to burn on top then turn the heat down to about 150 degrees.

6. Refrigerate for about 30mins before serving and enjoy!!

So rich, so yummy! You might want to cut it into slightly smaller pieces then you would normally as it is very sweet!!

Enjoy! 

Christmas Baking

Christmas is fast approaching and what better way to start off by baking a Christmas Fruit Cake! I think there’s a bit of a misconception that Fruit Cake is one for the oldies (and I must say that on any usual day I would also be in agreement) but at Christmas there is nothing that I enjoy more then making a Christmas Cake. You could say that it has become somewhat of a tradition in my family, one that was first started by my mum and handed down to me. My recipe is one that differs slightly from the traditional Fruit Cake but i’m sure you’ll agree it’s just as delicious (if not more!)

Preferably you’ll need to start around 3 weeks before you want to eat it (if you can resist the temptation) so what better time then now! I usually make two cakes because my dad really struggles with the concept of not being allowed to cut it open until Christmas Day but its completely up to you as to what you’d like to do. For a more kid-friendly version substitute the alcohol with orange juice. 

What I used:

4 cups of mixed dried fruit

1 cup of glace cherries

1/3 cup of rum or quantro (or any other orange flavoured liquor you’d like)

250g butter (unsalted)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2tsp vanilla essence

4 eggs

100g Dark chocolate

2tbsp apricot jam

2 cups plain flour

2tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp mixed spice

125g slivered almonds

Round spring-form cake tin (23cm deep)

What I did:

The day before: Cut the glace cherries in half and combine with the dried fruit. Add your alcohol (or orange juice) and stir well. Cover and soak your mixed fruit overnight for best results (min. 1 hour if you forget to do this part).

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line your baking tin with baking paper so that it doesn’t stick. I cut out two circles to cover the base and longer strips to go around the edges. Make short cuts along the edge pieces so that it sits in snuggly and spray the tin with canola oil spray to get it to stay in place. It should look like this

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Cream butter, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer until its light and creamy looking and then add your eggs, one at a time. Make sure you beat well in between each one. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate and jam together until its smooth and silky. Beat this into the butter/sugar mixture on a low speed.

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Sift into this your flour, cinnamon and mixed spice. Add the almonds and stir to combine. Finally, add your dried fruit mix and stir well. Ensure that everything is mixed really well together.

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Spoon your mixture into the prepared pan like so

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Bake for 95mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly. This can take a while as the cake is very deep. Allow to cool completely in the tin before removing. And now you wait….ok kidding! Before you do that, wrap the cake tightly in foil and store in an airtight container in a cool place in your house (not the fridge). Keep it here until your ready to cut it open and trust me you won’t be dissapointed. The flavours will all have had a good amount of time to combine and intensify beautifully.

When serving, I like to cut star shapes out of melted white chocolate (melt the chocolate and spread thinly on baking paper. Leave to set. Use a cookie cutter to pop out the shapes and place over the top of the cake) and or wrap some nice ribbon around the edge. But again, it’s completely up to you!

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This is the one that I made last year for Christmas and trust me, it was well worth waiting for!!

Hope you enjoy! What Christmas treats do you like to bake for family and friends during the festive season??