Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bun Fest - eating hot cross buns from breakfast through to dessert

If I had the luxury of one of those deep, stash-a-body sized freezers I would hoard copious amounts of hot cross buns so I could eat them all year round, in the sorts of quantities that would have you think I was inviting friends over for a bit of hot bun and tea, not just enjoying them for myself.  Sure it may tarnish the novelty but it would never take away the epic spicy, yeasty sultana studded goodness that is a hot cross bun. Not one to be limited to a bit of bun and butter I thought I’d share some of the ways I’ve come to enjoy the humble hot cross. Get amongst it people – hot cross buns in their various forms and incarnations from breakfast through to dessert.  

Hot cross breakfast crunch
1 hot cross bun, lightly toasted
¼ cup oats
¼ cup puffed brown rice
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut sugar

Preheat oven to 150C.
Blitz the hot cross bun in a blender until coarsely crumbed. Add to a bowl with the remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden and toasted. Allow to cool before adding to a sealed jar to keep. Serve with fruit, yoghurt and a bit of honey. Or just eat it like you would cereal. It keeps for about a week.

Hot cross lunch
Makes 1

1 traditional hot cross bun, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon good quality goats curd
1 tbsp honey
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ tsp cinnamon
A small handful of red grapes
A few sprigs of fresh herbs (whatever you can find)

Smear the goats curd onto the warm hot cross bun. Combine the honey, vinegar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Top the goats curd with grapes, drizzle over honey vinegar mixture, scatter with herbs and eat.

3 cheese savoury hot cross buns
(adapted from BBC Good Food)
Makes 6

These are crazy delicious, bonkers awesome served warm out of the oven with bacon jam. I didn’t say that. NO I DID, I DID. No I didn’t…

300g strong bread flour
10g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
250ml warm milk
50g smoked cheddar, grated
50g parmesan, grated
50g pecorino or strong bitey flavoured hard cheese, grated
(plus extra of all cheeses for sprinkling)

Parmesan Cross Mixture
2 1/2 tbsp of freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 1/2 tbsp of plain flour
2 1/2 tbsp of water

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Add the warm milk and gently incorporate to make a sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until elasticated and soft. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for at least 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Remove from bowl and knead through the cheeses then divide the dough into six balls. Lightly oil a large baking tray and place the balls on it to prove and double in size again. About an hour.
Preheat oven to 180C.  Slash the cross in each bun using a small sharp knife. Make the cross topping by combining the ingredients to form a paste. You can add to a piping bag or for a more rustic option just use a teaspoon and put the mixture into the cross. Sprinkle over the cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
Hot cross crumble
Makes 4 medium –large serves of crumble

2 apples, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
2 pears, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sultanas
1 teaspoon cinnamon
80g brown sugar or to taste

1 hot cross bun, lightly toasted, blitzed to a rough crumb
100g plain flour
90g chilled butter, cubed
50g coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 200C.
Combine flour and butter in a large bowl and rub with your fingertips until fine crumbs form. Add sugar and hot cross bun crumbs, mix to combine and set aside.
Add filling ingredients to a bowl, toss to combine and add ½ cup water.
Spoon into a 1 litre-capacity baking dish, top with hot cross bun crumble and bake until golden brown (35-40 minutes). Serve immediately with double cream or ice-cream. Please note your cooking time can really vary depending on the sweetness of the fruit, its best to keep an eye on it’s progress or if you are unsure you can cook the filling ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat then turn into a baking dish and putting in the oven just to cook and warm the crumble topping.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Marvellous Creations Chocolate Mousse Cake

Marvellous Creations Chocolate Mousse Cake

Dark chocolate is pretty amazing and better for you blah blah blah but you often can’t eat too much of it, and that seems like such a shame. And its consumption would preclude us from over eating shameless mass-market confectionary in ways that we should probably only discuss with a therapist.
I’m not adverse to the stuff lining supermarket shelves, specifically the love child of Cadbury and Willy Wonka, the crack cocaine of the chocolate world – Marvellous Creations. Not since the Curly Wurly have I been so excited by a chocolate bar, and this Easter marvellous creations mousse cake is in acknowledgement of a worthy childhood spirit animal, or his characters at least, Roahl Dahl.  You will need to buy the popping candy from a confectioner or I have included a few online links below but it tastes pretty darn good even without the pop if you don’t have time to source it.

Serves 10 – 12 (or 8 chocaholics)

200g chocolate biscuits
100g Pascall clinkers
100g butter

200g milk chocolate
200g dark chocolate
1½ cups pouring cream, whipped to medium peak
4 eggs, separated
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 cup marshmallows, chopped
¾ cup Allens raspberries or some gummy bears, chopped
25g neutral popping candy

melted chocolate to serve (optional)
easter eggs to serve

Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm deep-sided springform cake tin. Add the biscuits, clinkers and melted butter to a food processor and blitz to combine – you want a rough crumb so there are still decent chunks of clinker. Add mixture to base of lined tin and press out with the back of a spoon to form the base of your cake. Refrigerate until firm (about 1-2 hours).
Place the milk and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Add the egg yolks and stir vigorously to combine.
Place the eggwhites in a separate bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream and icing sugar through the chocolate mixture, then follow with the whipped eggwhites until combined. Gently fold through the mashmallows, gummy bears and popping candy then spoon the mousse over the biscuit base and smooth the top. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours or until set.
Just before serving, drizzle over melted chocolate (optional) and top with small easter eggs.

I of course couldnt help myself and had to add melted chocolate - if you are going down, best to go down in style I say.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The art of the perfect pad thai

Pad Thai epitomizes all that is good about Thai food – fast, fresh, vibrant in taste and in colour, and when done well a little sweet, a little spicy, a little sour and all these epic flavour sensations zinging round your mouth. This dish or officially phat thai should not be taken lightly. When done well, it is a meal of soul restoring, life fortifying proportions. Done badly and its your edible worst nightmare. This dish is loved in Thailand as much as it is all over the world and I agree with anyone who argues that it is a true signpost of a kitchen – get the pad thai right and you’ve got people who can cook. I like to keep the majority of elements separate –savoury mix-ins so you can control the sweet, sour, nut and heat flavour profiles to your liking. You can replace the fresh prawns with chicken but if you use prawns, make sure you keep the tails – nothing better than a built in handle for your food. I learnt this dish from many months spent cooking under chef tutelage in Thailand so here are some failsafe tips from my pad thai loving belly to yours.

- Make sure you soak your noodles in room temperature water for two hours for optimum texture – you want to be able to wrap the noodles around your finger. This soaking also helps to stop the noodles clumping
- Always use a large flat pan the larger surface area encourages evaporation, which is a must for noodle strands that are cooked while retaining that bit of chewiness. Use a wok if no large pan available
- Use rice stick noodles or noodles that are 3-8mm in width
- Make the pad thai sauce first that way you can taste it and adjust for the balance of sweet, salty and sour. Adding the elements to the noodles will always result in overcooking
- Prep all the ingredients and have them laid out ready before you start cooking.

250g green prawns, peeled, deveined, tails in tact
A very generous handful of rice noodles softened in room temperature water for 2 hours
½ tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp tamarind water
2 tbsp fish sauce
grapeseed oil for frying
25g firm tofu, cubed
1 egg
1 tbsp dried prawns (if unavailable substitute with plain fish furikake flakes – works just as well in my opinion)
To serve
1 small bunch of chives
1 stalk of green shallot
½ cup bean sprouts
2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
½ tbsp. roasted chilli powder
Lime wedges

Drain the softened noodles then add to a bowl with the dark soy sauce, toss to coat and set aside. Add the palm sugar, white sugar, tamarind water and fish sauce to a small saucepan and cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes until dissolved
Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat and flash fry the tofu. Gently remove and set aside. Crack the egg into the pan, turn down the heat and stir. Mix in dried prawns then add the noodles. Turn up the heat and stir fry for about a minute, you want the noodles to darken in colour slightly. Add the sauce and simmer for another minute or so, adding extra oil if you fear the noodles are clumping. Keep the pan moving. Check seasoning. Remove from heat.
In a separate pan, flash fry the prawns over high heat cooking 1-2 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking.

Serve the noodles immediately topped with sprouts and surrounded by all the elements.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Turkish Delight Roulade. Your New Dessert Weapon

 My love for Turkish delight knows no limits. Remember in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when Edmund couldn’t say no to a Turkish delight treat from the white witch? I really felt for the guy – he was me incarnate. There is something about the rose taste, the pink colour and the gelatinous silky texture of it in your mouth that is truly delightful and impossible to say no to. I’ve combined it here with a few other loves – meringue, fresh raspberries and pistachios in a roulade. Roulade is a dessert weapon. It looks super fancy but really is very simple to make. You can make the meringue part in advance then smear the fillings and roll just before serving.

Pistachio, Turkish Delight and Rose Roulade
Serves 6

6 eggwhites
1 ¼ cups caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rose water
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp pistachios, crushed
1 cup double cream
1 cup Turkish delight, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh raspberries
½ cup cup pistachio kernels

To make the roulade, preheat the oven to 170ÂșC.
Line a Swiss-roll pan with baking paper. Grease the paper.
Beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add in half the caster sugar then beat in the remaining caster sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold in the cornflour, lemon juice and rosewater. Spread the meringue evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until pale golden, then allow to cool for about 1 hour.
Place another sheet of baking paper on a work surface and dust with icing sugar and crushed pistachios. Turn the meringue onto the baking paper. Carefully remove the top sheet of paper.
For the filling, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the beaten cream over the meringue with a palette knife. Sprinkle the raspberries, Turkish delight and pistachio kernels over the cream. Use the paper to help you roll up the meringue from the short end. Ease the roulade, seam side down, onto a serving dish and refrigerate for 1 hour. To serve, cut slices and place lying down on a serving plate.