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)
Method
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)

Ingredients
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)

Method

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.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Picnic Bar for Grown Ups

I'm generally not one for the malarkey of Valentine's Day and the gently simmering bain-marie of the whole industry's chocolate, flowers, table for two forced ideals of romance. But I can always get on board with a dessert – one that covers off on all scenarios for those who embrace February 14 to those who just like chocolate, and those of us who will use any excuse for a spot of baking. Enter the Picnic Tart. All inspiration is blatantly taken from the humble Picnic Bar and all things chocolate, caramel and wafer baked into a tart to ensure this is a simple pleasure done as well as it can be. And that's true love.
Ingredients
1 x sheet Careme chocolate pastry
110g excellent quality dark couveture chocolate
1 egg
125ml cream
1 x packet chocolate or vanilla wafers
Salted peanut caramel
395g caramel con leche (or at an absolute pinch caramel top n fill)
½ cup roasted peanuts, roughly crushed
sea salt to taste
Method
Preheat oven to 180C.
Lightly grease an 11cm x 33cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Roll pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to 5mm thick then use to line the tart pan. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Combine the peanuts and caramel con leche in a bowl until well combined. Gradually add salt to taste. You want that balance of sweet, salty and fat.
Line the pastry with baking paper and pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind bake for 10 minutes then remove paper and weights and bake for 5 minutes or until pastry is dry.
Allow to cool then pour in the caramel and cover the base of the tart. Gently push the wafers into the peanut caramel in a horizontal pattern.
Reduce oven heat to 150C.
Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just below boiling. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted, smooth and completely combined. Add the egg and stir until the mixture starts to thicken and look glossy. Pour the chocolate mixture over the top of the wafers and caramel – there will be just enough to coat over the top. Place in the oven and cook for 10 – 12 minutes until the chocolate top has slightly puffed and just set. Allow to cool then slice and enjoy.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Food Writing and Food Photography and Styling Workshops

I'll be honest, I am slow on the uptake with social media. I only joined instagram a few weeks ago. 
(@kcoquette) I am guilty of dragging my heels in the world of selfies and the me-conomy or so they call it. But there are times that I love it, because often you have chance encounters with people that lead to friendships and likeminds that you may otherwise not have had the opportunity to enjoy. And that is exactly what has happened with Sneh Roy - blogger and cookbook author of the beautiful Cook Republic
Sneh and I, since becoming friends on twitter have become friends in the real world and I love her energy and her eye for beauty with the lens. One of the most gorgeous food photographers in Australia and quite the recipe writer to boot!
Photo by Sneh Roy
We've decided to join forces and we are offering a series of workshops this year. First cab off the rank is a food writing and food photography and styling workshop. Spots are filling fast but we would love to have any Sydney based foodies out there come and join us for a fun filled session where Sneh and I take you through some low downs and experiences in the world of food writing and photography. Whether you are starting out and want to improve your blog or you want to improve your already impressive food writing portfolio we are here to help. And there will of course be amazing snacks and a lunch to finish at the end. We can't wait to meet you.
Photo by Sneh Roy

Photo by Sneh Roy
Photo by Sneh Roy
Photo by Sneh Roy
The details

 A super creative and engaging food writing, food photography and styling workshop. 60% Practical and 40% Theory. Challenge your inner foodie by learning to write for a blog, a newspaper or a magazine. Learn to create fresh new content. Hands on writing and photography practice for different styles and medium whether it is a blog or print publication. Explore the art of travel food writing, food reviews and shooting accordingly. Learn to style food with props to create an atmospheric story of travel and culture.
Date - 20 March, 2015 (Friday)
Time - 10:30am-3:30pm
Venue - The Cook Republic HQ in Hornsby Heights, NSW 2077 (Address emailed once booking confirmed)
Who - Brimming with ideas and inspiration, this creative half day workshop in Sydney will be taught by Katrina Meynink and Sneh Roy.
Katrina Meynink is a freelance food writer and author. She regularly contributes to national and international food magazines and writes weekly for Fairfax’ Daily Life. Katrina has published two books, most recently Bistronomy: French Food Unbound with Murdoch Books and her first book, Kitchen Coquette (Allen & Unwin), was awarded Best First Cookbook 2011 (Australia) at the Gourmand World Food Cookbook Awards. Katrina has a Masters in Gastronomy through Le Cordon Bleu and the University of Adelaide, an Advanced Diploma in Taste through Hautes Etudes du Gout, Paris, as well as qualifications in business journalism; and culinary training through Le Cordon Bleu. She has received numerous scholarships from the James Beard Gastronomy Foundation and the Culinary Trust, USA. Most recently, Katrina was awarded the Julia Child Grant via the Culinary Trust, USA.
Sneh Roy is an award winning food and lifestyle photographer, stylist, recipe developer, designer and creator of the highly popular blog - Cook Republic. Sneh is also the author of the Tasty Express cookbook published by Random House on 2014. She is ELLE Australia's ex-food columnist. Her work has been published and featured in many leading publications throughout the world and she has worked with many leading brands including Feast, ELLE Australia, Taste Magazine, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The Simple Things, Campbell's, Vitamix, I Quit Sugar, Coles, Lavazza, Nespresso, Inside Out, Ford and Huffington Post. When she is not shooting and styling for apps and cookbooks, you can find her at a local market sourcing for unusual ingredients or creating handmade ceramics at a studio nearby.
What
- What exactly is food writing.
- The key differences between blogging and commercial work and what to look out for.
- Styles of food writing and finding your voice.
- Developing and refining your pitch.
- Tips and tricks for improving your food writing.
- Food Photography styles to suit different styles of writing.
- Shooting for a blog and publication. Challenges and demands of editorial food photography.
- Spot briefs and exercises to create food stories and shoot them with the use of props, people and surrounds.
Food - A lovely morning tea will get you started as you eat, shoot and acquaint yourselves over cups of tea and baked goodies. You will also be able to sit down to a delicious lunch with Katrina and Sneh and discuss all things related to food writing, editorial writing, food photography, styling or anything under the sun. Nourishing juices and smoothies from Pressed Juices will keep you fuelled through the day.
Requirements - Workshop is open to everyone from the amateur writer and camera novice to the expert. Please bring your DSLRs, favourite lens and smartphones. You may bring your tablets or laptops for note-taking if you prefer.
Extras - Shop a bargain at the carefully curated Prop Table for beautiful vintage props for your food photography and styling (cash only). Katrina & Sneh's signed cookbooks will be available to purchase.
This is where we will enjoy lunch after the workshop

Developing your story concept. Photo by Sneh Roy



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spiced chocolate brownie cake with pomegranates and raspberries



I know I should probably start the 2015 year off with something truly healthy for mind body and spirit but then I made this. And I had to share it. Just a slice never really hurt anyone anyway....surely.
If including the word lazy in a recipe title was appropriate this is the one I'd reserve it for. Its uncanny how something that looks so freakin get-in-my-belly-good requires such little effort. This is the kind of recipe that can combine your love for chocolate with your love for sitting on your ass with a good book and a cup of tea.
Actually a hunk of this is actually what's missing from the good book and cup of tea scenario. So I suggest you get off said ass and high tail it into the kitchen and make this - you certainly won't regret it. Here the richness of the chocolate, the sweet/tart combo of the fruit and the tang on your tongue after punch of the pomegranate molasses are working together for some kind of epic taste sensation party in your mouth. Eat this and good things will come. Promise.
Ingredients
150g butter
180g dark chocolate
3 eggs
100g flour, sifted
1 tbsp ground cardomom
1 tsp baking powder, sifted

Chocolate cream
50g white chocolate
100ml cream plus a dash
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1-2 generous pinches of icing sugar

To finish
½ pomegranate, hulled
½- 1 punnet (250g) raspberries
freeze dried raspberries (optional) to scatter
cacoa nibs(optional) to scatter
Drizzle of pomegranate molasses

Method
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a 15cm cake mould and set aside.
Place the butter and chocolate in a bain-marie and stir, until just melted and combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add the eggs to the bowl of an electric whisker fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the eggs and light and frothy. Don't rush this step. Add the sugar and beat for another 5-7 minutes – you want the mixture to be light in colour and thickish in texture.
Gently pour in the chocolate mixture, being careful not to beat the air out of the egg mix, and stir gently to combine. Add the flour, spice and baking powder and stir again until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes. Like a brownie you want it to be crisp on the outside and a little molten in the centre. When you remove it from the oven don't be alarmed if it puffs and collapses a little in the middle. It will do this. Allow to cool completely.
To make the chocolate cream, melt the white chocolate and dash of cream in a bain-marie. Remove from the heat and briskly whisk through the cocoa powder. Whisk the remaining cream until soft peak in the bowl of an electric mixer then add the icing sugar and mix until combined.
Gently pour in the chocolate and cocoa powder combo and whisk until well combined and thick. Scoop onto your brownie cake, starting in the middle if it collapsed a little then generously top with pomegranate seeds and raspberries. Sprinkle over the freeze dried raspberry and cocoa nibs if using then sparingly drizzle over the pomegranate molasses and serve.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Awesome eats: Melbourne take 2

L-R George Calombaris, moi, Stefano De Pieri, Andre Chiang
Is it just me or did we all get so used to seeing George Calombaris on our TV screens thanks to Masterchef that we momentarily forgot that first and foremost he is a chef with serious, considered skill in the kitchen? As part of my recent Melbourne trip I got to eat at Press Club Projects - George's experimental test kitchen of sorts with an intimate table of about 10 guests. One of the most relaxed, fun dinners I've been too - helped along by the phenomenal company of chef Andre Chiang (Restaurant Andre) and our Aussie Italian godfather Stefano De Pieri. Good times. Here are some pics of the dishes on the night. Obviously some could be better but I was so overexcited I think I "downed it first, photo later". But it gives you some idea of the food and I hope is teaser enough for you to go and try it for yourself.

think what really got me, despite the technical skill George and his seriously slick kitchen team offered, was the truly beguiling set of dishes based on only one or two striking flavours. Because lets be honest, that is essentially what Greek food is; a distillation of thousands of years of culture and lifestyle in food that is essentially rustic. Was it Greek taverna food gussied up to be some highbrow, new wave 'other'. Hell no this was Greek food that was present - it was modern but it simultaneously embraced tradition and virtue and humour and delight in every mouthful. And goddam there was some cooking skills. I just loved that George could "take the piss" out of Australian and Greek cultures while still being true to them - that probably sounds crazy but I suggest you eat there and you'll understand exactly what I mean.
Liver lolly
Ok I'll be honest, I judge, quickly. To me the appetizer sets the tone of the night - start with a bang and its all culinary oohs and ahhs all night long.  And this creamy, rusty gelatinous livery lolly pop was just the ticket. So delicious. And yes that is raspberry. Ahhh friends, what a dinner.

Hills Hoist Chips and Dips
Next was the hills hoist chips and dips. Now I don't know what sort of hills hoist George had growing up but it was certainly better than mine if it inspired food like this. Mine was more rusty, with grandma's undies swinging like a national flag in the breeze. This hills hoist version made me wish a little bit that I lived near George's place. Superb. Delicate tastes of sweet, savoury and plenty of umami.

The Walnut




Then we had "the walnut".  George's take on a nut, pear and blue cheese salad. So beautiful and delicate - it was the sort of thing you wanted to dab behind your ears. It had subtlety and depth. Such a lovely transition into the other dishes - a perfect palate warm up.

Burnt Bread crumb
Oh my, this was in my top three dishes of the night. Rich, fatty, textural and gelatinous - all in one bite. If the insides of my mouth could write a love song about this dish they would. If I didnt know more was coming I would have been Oliver holding out my bowl "please sir may I have some more". I had to physically restrain myself from licking the damn plate clean. 

Watermelon/oyster/germinated lentils
This was one of those scenarios of eat first, photograph later. The watermelon had been compressed in the feta brine - taking on all the flavours without any of the creaminess. I just found it genius. It let the richness of the oysters shine through, the lentils gave a much needed textural crunch and the freshness of the watermelon and tang of brine just rounded it off beautifully. Eaters seemed a little divided on this dish but I absolutely adored it.

Green Greek Salad
Nuff said really. This was beautiful, bright, pungent and refreshing. A perfect play before the following heavier dishes.

L-R Whiting Dressed Up as Lamb Souvlaki; POrk/Cherry/Cauliflower

My dish of the night. Whiting dressed up as a lamb souvlaki. George had cooked the whiting in lamb fat - so the fish took on all the flavours of the lamb without any of the heaviness. It was genius - in a single dish he seemed to have distilled the thousands of years of culture and lifestyle - to me it epitomised that notion that the greek repertoire doesn't need a fancy dress and expensive uncomfortable shoes - it is perfect as it is - rustic, clever and full of tradition without any need or desire for unnecessary airs and graces. The pork with cherry and cauliflower - well pork lovers - it was unbelievable. The subtle tartness of the cherry cut through the richness while the radish provided the perfect textural crunch. 

Calamari
Lamb/Haloumi


So high on my list of 2015 new year resolutions will be to learn how to make haloumi. I had house made haloumi at Sydney's Nomad and this piqued my interest, and George's version. Holy shit batman - why would you ever have the packet junk ever again - creamy, tangy with just enough resistance in mouth feel. I could wax lyrical about this for hours and I haven't even told you about the lamb. Sweet, so so sweet with just a perfect even layer of fat, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the meat. I wondered if I was dreaming. Perfection on the plate.

Water to Ice


Ok so you know how I mentioned that I was in an eat now photograph later kind of mood. Well I'm sorry dessert paid the price. I was so overexcited I just ate it and it was over. In an instant. And this makes me truly sad because I wanted to share it with you. George started playing Zorba the Greek then the chefs proceeded to smash plates of meringue over a delightful light, slightly tart sorbet. It was such a great end to the night. I am jealous of Melbournians yet again for having an intimate dining experience such as this available to them. One of many of course thanks to the incredible and fun dining culture in Melbourne but if you can get a booking, do it - it will be one of the best meals you eat this year. 

Christmas Lamingtons

Introducing the Christmas Lamington
If ever there was an excuse for a Christmas/Aussie-baking-great mash up I feel the lamington is it. I thought you might feel the same way. So Merry Christmas from me to you, in the form of an unapologetic use of brandy and white chocolate sponge, a smothering of cherry jam, fresh cherries and of course chocolate. I know. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. This is good time overload in dessert form.
I do suggest though, in the Christmas spirit, that you make a double batch. From experience I’d like you to know, these don’t tend to last long.

Ingredients
White chocolate and brandy sponge
225g butter
300g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100g good quality white chocolate, melted
60ml brandy
300g plain flour, sifted
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120ml milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp mixed spice

Filling and coating
Cherry jam (minimum 4 ½ tbsp.)
½ cup dried cherries, finely chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tsp mixed spice
500g dark chocolate
Fresh cherries to serve


Method
Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a high-sided square baking pan with baking paper and set aside. I prefer this to sheet pans so you can cut the cake horizontally through the centre and smother in jam but if you don’t have one a rectangular sheet pan will do just fine.
Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the remaining dry ingredients to a separate bowl and stir to combine. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk and vanilla and brandy, continuing to beat, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Gently stir through the melted chocolate before pouring the batter into your prepared baking tin. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you are using a sheet pan, keep a close eye on the time, you may only need to bake for 25-30 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Split the cake in half. On the bottom half smear the cherry jam then gently place the other piece of cake on top. Pop in the fridge to firm up slightly – it makes the cake easier to work with.
For chocolate ganache coating, combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. When chocolate begins to melt, stir gently until combined and smooth and set aside in a warm place.
Scatter shredded coconut, chopped cherries and mixed spice over a tray, using your fingers to turn over and combine. Cut the sponge into sixteen 5cm squares. Using 2 forks or spoons, dip each square into the chocolate and shake to remove excess. (If chocolate starts to thicken, place bowl over gently simmering water to thin.) Roll each square in coconut mixture, shake off excess and place on a wire rack (sitting over a tray). Stand until the chocolate sets then store in an airtight container. When serving, top with flakes of shaved white chocolate (optional) and the fresh cherries. You’ll be the most popular person at Christmas.