Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Perfect Buddha Bowl

Hello, hi. Yep remember me. Sorry for the lax updates - have been pretending I am one of those jetting off types, actually jetting off to Hong Kong and Boracay for a sneaky and much needed getaway. I'm in the throes of putting together a bit of a must eat list for Hong Kong and downloading photos which I'll put up asap. In the meantime I suggest you get your laughing gear around this buddha bowl. Such a great filling and delicious winter style salad. I'm completely addicted.

 I'd like to introduce your insides to the Buddha bowl. It's multiple downward dogs and soul rectifying therapy in a few mere mouthfuls; a plate of deliciousness zinging with the good stuff that's come from the cold-weather-still should-eat-salad-part-of-my-brain to yours. It's hearty, sweet and spicy, salty and crunchy, and durable enough to last a few days in the refrigerator to be eaten cold or warm, whichever your persuasion. Oh and the obligatory kale has made an appearance so that's an even bigger win for some. There is a bit of chopping and spice blending involved but the resulting hits of ginger, panch phoran and coriander make it all worthwhile.
I like to think eating this and eating donuts would equal out in some kind of real life eating pyramid universe although if you are anything like me you'll end up shoving all of this down your throat in one day sending all pyramid sentiments right out the window. Things like that happen. All the time. I call it life.  And it's just a salad. A really damn tasty one.
Serves 4 
3 organic sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced lengthways
5cm knob ginger, peeled, coarsely grated
2 tsp honey
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp soy
450g tin chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed
1 tbsp sultanas
1 tsp each Cumin, Brown Mustard, Fenugreek, Nigella and Fennel seeds dry roasted and combined (panch phoran)
1 avocado, seeded, chopped
2 tsp black sesame seeds
½ red onion, very finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, leaves pulled, roughly chopped
1 cup brown rice cooked according to packet instructions
1 handful kale, parsley, lettuce – whatever greens you can get your hands on, chopped
Greek yoghurt to serve
1 green chilli, seeded, finely sliced
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Toss the sweet potato pieces, ginger, honey, coconut oil and soy in a large roasting tray and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes until cooked through and the ginger mixture has begun to caramelise.
Toss the chickpeas, sultanas and panch phoran spices in a bowl then quickly fry in a frypan over a low temperature until warmed through.
Toss the avocado, sesame seeds and chopped red onion in a bowl.
Place all the salad elements in a large serving bowl and serve warm topped with the yoghurt and green chilli.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Margherita Pizza Bombs

Margherita Pizza Balls

Margherita pizza would be on my list of five foods to take to a desert island. When done well with the appropriate thin crust, beautiful quality mozzarella and a sprinkling of freshly torn basil, everything seems right with the world. This is a pizza pocket version of the margherita – an ode to the good old days of a few coins taped to a brown paper bag for the pizza pop tart at tuckshop.

The pizza dough here is very much a hands off affair. Add the ingredients to a bowl, use your hands to briefly combine then an overnight nurse is all thats required. Low maintenance – just the way we like it. The end result is crisp and airy despite the filling. And what emerges from your oven is this fantastic molten mess of mozzarella, cooked down tomato goodness and of course the fragrant basil. Its heaven. Baked heaven. One of those hard hitting numbers that makes your house smell amazing and trust me when this emerges from the oven it is on for young and old.

Serves 4

Pizza dough
200g bread flour
200g plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
Generous pinch salt
2 tsp (7g sachet) active dried yeast
300ml warm water, approximately
250g buffalo mozzarella
Basil leaves
Olive oil to coat
Margherita Sauce
1 x 400g Tin cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 small red onion, peeled, roughly chopped
pinch salt
generous pinch of sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
small handful of basil leaves

To make the pizza dough mix the flour, sugar, salt and instant dry yeast evenly in a large bowl.  Add the water and mix together with a wooden spoon until a wet dough forms. Let the dough sit for the flour to hydrate then with your hands pull the dough up then fold it over itself. Repeat this once or twice – you just want everything to come together but you are not kneading the dough as such, just encouraging the elasticity of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then let proof overnight at room temperature. In the current weather I left mine inside the oven overnight.
To make the tomato sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and blitz until relatively smooth. Pour into a saucepan and simmer for about ten minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly and the garlic cooks out.
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Generously oil a baking dish at least 25 x 25cm in size.
Lightly flour your work bench. Pull small handfuls of dough at a time and roll out to 5mm thick. Place about a heaped teaspoon amount of mozzarella in the centre. Spoon over a dessertspoon of tomato sauce, top with a fresh basil leaf then bring the dough together to enclose it into a ball/pocket shape and place in the baking dish. Dont worry, the more rustic looking the better and they puff up so much it really doesnt matter what it looks like as it goes in. Repeat with remaining dough, mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil until you have filled your baking dish. Set aside for thirty minutes for the dough to rest again. Brush generously with additional olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed in appearance. Keep an eye on it as you dont want the top to burn. If it looks like it is burning, turn the oven down straight away. Once cooked, remove and scoop over any few spoonfuls of left over tomato sauce and sprinkle with a few basil leaves. Season and serve piping hot straight from the oven.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Easter Egg Ice Cream Sandwich

Easter, other than an excuse to indulge in overpriced bits of chocolate covered in foil, is also our last gasp opportunity at chasing the sun before the seasonal changes are truly upon us.  So of course we must eat an Easter egg riddled ice cream sandwich because it combines a love of chocolate with a love of cold churned dairy. What's more to love? Wack in a touch of the obligatory salted caramel, some sable for the biscuits and you have got yourself a sweet, salty, soft, crisp chocolate and more chocalety dessert. Perfection.

Salted caramel
200g caster sugar
60g salted butter, coarsely chopped
125 ml (½ cup) pouring cream
Chocolate sable
125g soft unsalted butter
125g sour cream

scant 1/2 cup caster sugar
175g plain flour
50g dutch-process cocoa
Combine the ice cream and smashed easter eggs in a bowl and stir to combine. Turn into a deep-sided freezer proof tray lined with plastic wrap. Cover with wrap and place in the freezer to set.
For the chocolate sable, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sour cream and sugar until light and fluffy. Sieve over flour and cocoa and stir to combine, then turn onto a lightly floured surface, form dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Don't be alarmed if it seems quite sticky and wet – it firms up a lot in the fridge.  Roll out to 3mm thick and using a 10cm cookie cutter, cut rings from the piece of dough. If it gets to warm, return to the fridge and repeat the process until you have about 16 rounds.
Place rounds on a baking paper lined oven tray and bake at 180C for 15 minutes, then cool completely.
For the salted caramel, stir sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook until caramel (4-5 minutes). Add butter, whisk to combine, then add cream (be careful, mixture will foam up) and 1 tsp sea salt or to taste and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.
Remove the ice cream mixture from the freezer and working quickly, gently stir through the caramel – you don't want it to be uniform. Cover and return to the freezer to harden completely, for at least four hours.
When ready to serve, put a chocolate round on a plate. Top with a generous scoop of easter egg ice cream and top with another chocolate round. Repeat with remaining chocolate sable rounds and ice cream.

Monday, March 23, 2015

And we are workshopped!

Last Friday was such a great day! After months of planning, Sneh and I held our first workshop. We combined forces for a food writing, styling and photography workshop at the Cook Republic HQ. Of course the day flew so it felt like we ran out of time but I think that is the sign of a good day. Our group was a fabulous bunch, all interested in working together and hearing each others ideas. I loved it. Normally when you do writing exercises (and I have done my time with writing courses trust me) no one ever wants to read out their work. I'm normally one of them. Not this time! People were so willing to share and it really made the day. I also am a little blown away by the quality of the writing.

We were lucky enough to have some great sponsors help us out including Pressed Juices and Salt, Meats Cheese as well as Breville Australia who generously gave us a Nespresso machine to give away to one of the workshop participants. Meet Ange - she won the machine and I have a feeling it will be put to great use!

For lunch we had a delightful vegetarian pasta dish, one that Sneh cooked for her family Christmas - it is satisfying, colourful and easy. What more could you want? Here is the recipe. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's a Cake Fest and a bit of news.

Wowzers, it seems I am on the cake making train lately. Not that I am complaining, there is something so decadent about a piece of cake that no other dessert can match. This is a cupboard version - nothing fancy schmancy in terms of ingredients - just a great simple choc cake. This number is super moist and superbly easy. Enjoy it xo

¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
250g butter (1 block)
1 cup caster sugar
2 ½ cups soft dark brown sugar
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/3 cups plain flour (low protein if you have it), sifted
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
200ml buttermilk
70ml full fat milk
Chocolate Buttercream
50g unsalted butter, softened
40g cocoa, sifted
350g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
30ml whole milk
110ml double cream (or if you are after a slight tang use sour cream)
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Grease and line 2 x 18cm cake tins and set aside.
Place the cocoa powder, vanilla and 180ml boiling water in a heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Using the stand mixer, add the butter and sugars to the bowl and beat for 3-4 minutes or until well incorporated. Add the cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add half the flour and baking powder and beat until just combined add half the milk and buttermilk continuing to beat and scrape down the side of the bowl. Repeat with remaining flour and milk mix until just combined. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool in tins before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cakes are cooling make the butter cream.  Beat the butter for 4-5 minutes  on high speed then add the cocoa powder and beat until you have a paste. Add the icing sugar, vanilla, salt milk and most of the cream and beat together slowly until combined then high to a smooth consistency. Ice the top of one cake and sandwich with the other. Ice the whole cake and dress with flowers or candles if using.

In other news

The French edition of Bistronomy has hit the shores of France. The French publisher Marabout has slightly edited the cover, this version is dark and moody, I love it although cannot say it beats the original edition which has a very special place in my heart.

Also my delightful editor at Fairfax Daily Life has left Syndey for Washington DC for a 12 month sabbatical and I was tasked with making her going away cake (no pressure). I decided on a vanilla bean sponge with a lemon curd centre and covered it in Italian meringue with some fresh berries, edible flowers and silver leaf. Here is a pic of the end result. It was rather pretty I must say.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Buttermilk Doughnuts with Spiced Mulberry Jam and Chai sugar and dried flower dusting

What are those little puffed magic delights I hear you ask? Oh just some buttermilk doughnuts with spiced mulberry jam and a chai sugar and dried flower dusting THAT YOU WANT SWASHING ABOUT YOUR INSIDES IMMEDIATELY.
Hear this my fellow children of the 80s, these puppies are the food equivalent of the magical library book in the NeverEnding StoryFerris Beuller's Day Off (the entire day), One-eyed Willies hidden treasure in the Goonies and that epic fist pump in the closing scenes of The Breakfast Club. So good!
I realise I am making rather grand proclamations about a doughnut but this batch is particularly tasty and I recommend you get involved. You and the fine people lucky enough to enjoy them will not be disappointed.
Of course you don't have to make your own jam although I've supplied a recipe just in case – you can sub in with a good quality store bought version and I am willing to admit that the dried flowers look super pretty but with all the spice working in these they do not add to the flavour. It's a looks thing so feel free to omit if you don't have any.  
You can also bake these if you don't want to give them a quick tan in some oil and you can swap out the sugar in the dusting for a coconut sugar if you are that way inclined.
Enjoy them. I really think you will.  Best eaten on the day of making.

(Makes 20 doughnuts)

250ml buttermilk, lukewarm
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
450g plain flour
55g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1 egg at room temperature, lightly whisked
35g butter, softened at room temperature
Rice bran oil for deep frying
Mulberry jam
250g mulberries
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sugar dusting
220g caster sugar
2 teaspsoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground fennel
dried edible flowers (optional)


Combine the buttermilk, yeast and vanilla in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of flour and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and whisk until combined. Set aside for fifteen minutes.
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and mix briefly until combined. Continue the motor running on low and pour in the buttermilk mixture, egg and melted butter.  Mix until the dough comes away from the bowl and is smooth and elastic. It will still feel slightly sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
To make the jam place all ingredients in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to the boil and using a large metal spoon, remove any skim that froths to the surface and use the spoon to help breakdown the mulberries. Reduce heat to low and simmer until a jam consistency is reached – about 30 minutes.
For the sugar dusting combine all the ingredients in a large shallow dish and set aside.
Line two large trays with baking paper. Gently roll the dough into golf ball sized doughnuts and place on the trays. Leave some room as the dough will puff and rise again. Cover with a tea towel and let rest again for 40 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium high heat until it reaches 180C. If you don't have a thermometer you can check by adding a tiny bit of doughnut dough – it should bubble lightly around the surface and rise to the top very quickly. Deep-fry the doughnuts in batches, turning often for 2-3 minutes or until puffed, golden and cooked through. Transfer to paper towel to drain briefly and while still hot gently toss in the sugar to coat all sides. Allow to cool slightly.
Transfer the jam into a piping bag and gently pipe into the centre of each doughnut. Serve slightly warm.