Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boozy Chocolate Kahlua Mousse

I have good news, and I have good news!
First, my oven has been fixed by the delayed repairman - he turned up, only 15 minutes late this time, and managed to replace the broken oven fan.  He also scratched the floor when he shifted the oven out, but I'm willing to overlook this because the oven now works!

In other good news, I found a Chocolate Mousse recipe that does not contain raw egg yolk. Because I was 'without oven' for over a week, dessert-time in my household was a sorry affair of ice cream for most nights.  Then I discovered this recipe.

I've always been a bit hesitant about eating raw eggs, so I've avoided making uncooked mousse.  This is a good recipe, though. The whipped eggwhite makes the mousse very light, and the dark chocolate is not too sweet, so even though the mousse seems quite rich, you don't feel weighed down afterwards.  Serving the mousse with strawberries may have helped. Give it a go, and don't skimp on the Kahlua - I highly recommend it. 
Caveats: i) You will need 3 mixing bowls for this recipe. ii) I don't like raw egg yolk, but eggwhite is okay by me.

Chocolate Kahlua Mousse
serves 4

200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 eggwhite
2 tsp caster sugar
300ml thickened cream
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
50ml Kahlua (or a smidgeon more, if you like)
1 punnet strawberries
1/2 cup white chocolate, grated

1.  First bowl: Place chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool
2.  Second bowl: Place cream and coffee powder into a bowl and beat with electric beaters until starting to thicken. Add Kahlua and beat until soft peaks form. Fold one-third of the cream mixture into the chocolate.
3.  Third bowl: Beat egg white until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar beating until stiff.
4.  Back to the first bowl: Fold remaining cream and egg white into chocolate mixture until just combined.
5.  Spoon mixture into 4 x 1 cup ramekins or glasses. Cover and chill for 2-3 hours.
6.  Serve topped with strawberries and sprinkle with grated white chocolate.
Recipe adapted from
In the 3 mixing bowls are: the cream/coffee/Kahlua, the melted chocolate, and the beaten eggwhite.  I used a white chocolate frog (grated) to top the mousse.
In other news, you could also replace the coffee powder and Kahlua with Cointreau.

The mousse will harden in the refrigerator, so remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving, if you want a softer texture.

I will be making this excellent mousse often, even though I have an oven again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spandau Ballet Reformed

Spandau Ballet is further along....

But first,
This is a picture-heavy post on what I did on Friday.

A brilliantly sunny day meant a ferry ride to Mosman Rowers for a work lunch.  The Rowers is situated opposite Mosman Bay ferry wharf in an oldish building surrounded by moored pleasure craft and luxurious homes.

The food at the restaurant/bistro has an emphasis on seafood, with a couple of steak and chicken dishes thrown in.
(top to bottom, left to right):
seafood platter ($50 min 2 persons)); grilled salmon with chips (around $28);
pan-fried barramundi with asparagus (around $28); sides of chips and vegetables;
eye fillet steak with salad (around $30); banana split ($15) for dessert

The seafood platter had mussels, prawns and squid. I bit into a mussel that was off, so I delicately spat it out - the other mussels were okay, apparently.  Then I had barramundi in a very tangy garlic lemon butter sauce, with fried asparagus spears. The asparagus was lovely, the fish was okay. 
Others at our table ordered the eye fillet; they asked for them to be cooked 'medium', but they arrived 'overdone', which is several steps beyond well done.  It looked at tasted really dry, which is a shame as it was a good-quality cut of meat.
Dessert included 'banana split', which included a banana wrapped in puff pastry, in a custard sauce, with a scoop of ice cream. One scoop of ice cream - the picture above is after someone played silly buggers with the plate...
Overall, Mosman Rowers is alright to visit if you live nearby, but, personally, I wouldn't travel to eat there.

I had to leave early to catch the ferry back to Circular Quay, for my date with Spandau Ballet, but here are some scenes of the trip back (below):
(top to bottom, left to right):
Local Mosman wildlife on the water; closer view of the exotic wildlife;
habitats and transportation in Mosman Bay; view from the ferry
After a quick snack of McDonald's fries and small Coke, we made out way into the Sydney Entertainment Centre with high expectations.

Jack Jones was the pre-entertainment, and he was pretty good.  I don't know that much about him, but he played to an appreciative number of fans.
Then Tears for Fears came on:
'Mad World', 'Shout', 'Everybody wants to rule the World' - they played all their hits.  There was a bit of distortion in the sound of the instruments, but Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal sounded great.
Roland talked about his last visit to Sydney, 25 years ago, and how he walked through the Rocks area and was pickpocketed. He walked there again the other day and got a goat's cheese salad. As he said, "That's progress!".

Then, Spandau Ballet...
I am unashamedly a HUGE fan of Spandau Ballet, and saw them at the Ent Cent in 1985. After their acrimonious breakup in the 1990s, I never thought I'd see them again.  Thank goodness I was wrong. By the way, I got my tickets to this concert via pre-sale from Mastercard Applause - but never again: the tickets had a $50 premium (each) on top of the price, and the seats were nothing special.

But the concert was so worth it. Spandau Ballet went OFF!!!

Martin Kemp is my favourite but Tony Hadley is an incredible singer.
They played for 90 minutes, with 'Gold' as an encore.

After the concert, we stopped at Golden Century for supper. It's become like BBQ King - enough said. The food is still good, though.
We had pig's trotters with jelly fish (didn't look anythin like pig trotters to me), and rice porridge with preserved egg and pork, and fried dough sticks ($34 all up)

When I got home, I played my old Spandau Ballet CDs on high rotation. Then I bought the Reformation tour DVD. 
I also dug out the program from the 1985 tour.  For old time's sake, of course.
Bel {loves} Spandau Ballet 4 ever

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anzac Biscuit Sundae with salted caramel sauce

ANZAC Day (April 25th) falls on a Sunday this year, so I thought it would be fun to create an ice cream sundae from the many Anzac biscuits that we will be baking.

I used my standard Anzac biscuit recipe.  Luckily, I baked them before my oven expired, otherwise I would have been extremely peeved - or even more peeved than I was when the oven blew.  By the way, the progress report on the oven is that the oven repairman was due to come last Wednesday arvo, but he called on Wednesday morning saying he had double-booked and could only reschedule for next Tuesday!Think calm thoughts, serenity now, serenity now...

I also tried a new caramel recipe, which is a little different to my usual caramel sauce. It was just on the right side of being burnt, and on top of the sundae, it is really good. 

Salted Caramel Sauce
makes 1 cup

1 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup thickened cream
1/2 tsp salt flakes

1.  Place the sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to the boil without stirring, then let it boil until it becomes a golden colour, about 4 minutes.
2.  Then immediately stir in the butter to incorporate.  Remove from the heat, add the cream and salt and mix well.
3.  Pour some sauce over ice cream.  The sauce can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Making the caramel using a new recipe is always risky - almost burnt it this time, but it's still good.

Put some scoops of ice cream in a bowl. Crumble over an Anzac biscuit, then spoon over the salted caramel sauce.  Add some sliced banana if you like.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thar she blows - Lentil and Chicken Salad

Necessity is the mother of invention.

It's one of those sayings that don't really mean very much until it happens to you.  Well, it happened to me...

Nothing spectacular, mind you. No 'Eureka' moment.  It's just that my oven blew up on the weekend.  I'd just finished baking ANZAC biscuits and kept the oven on so that I could throw a little lamb roast in later.
While the lamb was cooking, there was a funny smell of burning rubber, so I turned the oven off.  The lamb wasn't ready yet.
Then, there was a *POOF!*.  Or, maybe a **pooompf!** and smoke started coming out of the oven.  Dreading the repair bill...

I've been without an oven since, so I've had warm chicken and lentil salad for dinner the last few nights. No baking needed.

It's a fantastic recipe, and very economical.  I didn't invent this dish, but I certainly need it right now.

Warm Chicken and Lentil Salad
serves 2

1  tblsp olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 x 400g can brown lentils, drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
80g baby spinach leaves
250g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed
1/2 cup reduced-fat tzatziki dip, to serve

1.  Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
2.  Add lentils and red wine vinegar. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until lentils are heated through. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in spinach. Season with pepper.
3.  Wipe frying pan clean with paper towel. Add remaining oil to the pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Stand for 3 minutes.
4.  Thickly slice chicken. Add to lentil mixture and toss to combine.
5.  Spoon salad into serving bowls. Serve with tzatziki.

Ingredients, including that student staple, brown lentils
After cooking the chicken arrange it over the lentil and spinach

And add a dollop of tzatziki.
This dish is going to sustain me until the oven gets fixed *fingers crossed*

Friday, April 16, 2010

Must. Have. Sunken Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake.
What more is there to say?

Quite a bit, actually.  I came across this recipe in the same old magazine that had the marbled quail eggs I made last week.  Under the heading of 'Choc Tactics' were chocolate offerings from celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Jill Dupleix, Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith. What a lineup!

This is Rick Stein's Sunken Chocolate Cake.  It is sunken because there is only a little flour to hold it up, and it's very like a brownie in looks - crisp, cracked top and fudgey, rich interior.  The texture, though, is more like a souffle, a light-as-air, chocolatey, melt-in-the-mouth experience.

It is well worth the many mixing bowls I had to wash up after making the cake... 

Sunken Chocolate Cake
serves 8

225g unsalted butter
225g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g almond meal
60g plain flour
6 medium eggs, at room temperature, separated
50g light soft brown sugar
175g caster sugar
Icing sugar, to dust
Thick cream, to serve

1.  Preheat oven to 180 deg C.  Grease a 23cm springform cake pan and line with baking paper.
2.  Place butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the water touch the bowl). Leave until melted, then stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.
3.  Sift together the almond meal and flour. 
4.  Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the light brown sugar and whisk until pale and creamy.  Gently fold in the melted chocolate, followed by the almond meal and flour mixture.
5.  Place eggwhites in a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.  Then whisk in the caster sugar, a little at a time, to make soft meringue (do not let the eggwhites get too stiff, or they will be difficult to fold in).  Fold into the chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon.
6.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes until a skewer poked into the cake comes out a bit wet (the cake is best when slightly undercooked).
7.  Cool, then remove cake from the pan. Serve with icing sugar dusted over, and with a dollop of thick cream.

Recipe from delicious (April 2003)

Some of the delicious ingredients. Rick Stein recommends using Valrhona Noir Gastronomie chocolate. I used Lindt with 70% cocoa solids, which is a brilliant substitute.

Lots of debris while making this cake, including about 4 mixing bowls

My cake didn't sink very much, but its light texture was not compromised. 
Served with a dollop or two of pure cream.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Go for Poh's Char Kway Teow

With the next season of MasterChef Australia about to begin, here is a recipe for Malaysian Char Kway Teow from the first season's runner-up, Poh Ling Yeow. 

Poh has done pretty well for herself since bursting onto our screens last year.  Her giggly, grinning persona is all over the place, from her cooking show, Poh's Kitchen, through to articles in delicious magazine.

In describing this dish, Poh says that to keep the authenticity, the ingredient list is 'uncompromising', with no substitutions.  With this in mind, I made the effort to buy pork fat to make the 'croutons'.  I've never cooked with a piece of fat before, but thankfully the Asian butcher I went to does have pork fat for sale (though the minimum purchase is 200g).  Frying the fat is interesting, and you are left with a couple of spoonfuls of fat that must be carefully disposed of.  Eating the croutons, I had to remind myself to ignore the fact that they were essentially lumps of fat...
The char kway teow is fantastic, though - very tasty and quite easy to make once you prep the ingredients beforehand.

Char Kway Teow
serves 2

2 tbs light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce, extra
2 tsp Shaohsing (Chinese cooking wine)
pinch each of white pepper and chilli flakes
1 chicken thigh fillet, cut into 2cm cubes
10 green prawns, peeled and deveined
100g fresh port fat, cut into 1cm cubes
3 garlic cloves
2 lap cheong (Chinese sausage), sliced on an angle into 3mm pieces
250g thick rice noodles, separated
3 eggs, lightly whisked
2 cups bean sprouts, ends trimmed
3/4 cup garlic chives, cut into 4cm lengths

1.  Combine the light soy, dark soy and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
2.  Combine the Shaohsing, white pepper, extra soy, remaining sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  Add chicken and prawns, then set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
3.  Heat wok over medium heat.  Add pork fat and fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain croutons on paper towel.
4.  Discard all but 1 tblsp of fat from the wok.  Add garlic and lap cheong and stir-fry for 1 minute until garlic is golden. 
5.  Add drained chicken and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes until almost cooked through. 
6.  Add drained prawns and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes until cooked.
7.  Add noodles, chilli, soy mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Push noodles to the side of the wok, then pour egg into the centre.  Let it sit for 30 seconds to brown slightly, then scramble with a spatula until the egg is just set and the noodles have charred slightly.
8.  Add sprouts and chives, then toss until well combined and heated through.
9.  Season, then serve topped with croutons.

Recipe from delicious (April 2010)

Ingredients, including shaohsing wine, lap cheong and pork fat.  Rather than using flat rice noodles, I found some rice noodle rolls (with embedded dried shrimp) that I cut into 2cm widths, then separated out to make noodles

A hot wok with lots of 'wok hei' is ideal for this - you want bits of charred flavour on the noodles

Go, Poh! This dish takes a bit of effort, but the result is worth it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Speckled, freckled, marbled quail eggs

I've always wanted to make Chinese marbled tea eggs but have been put off by having to simmer the eggs on the stove for a couple of hours.  This is an easier alternative that uses quail eggs.  At least, my (inaccurate) thinking was that the smaller eggs would be simpler to cook. Go fig!

But where do you get quail eggs? A great suggestion was from Asian butchers (thanks, @yygal!).  As it turned out, on the day I wanted to make this dish, I visited the Good Living Growers' Market at Pyrmont, and they had a whole tray of beautifully specked eggs for $5, which I bought.  Together with some quail for David Jones, they ended up in this salad of Quail with Marbled Quail Eggs.
The recipe is from delicious magazine, though I've modified it slightly below to allow the quails to cook a bit more.

Quail Salad with Marbled Quail Eggs
serves 6-8
Begin this recipe the day before


For the marbled eggs:
12 quail eggs
2 tsp sea salt
80ml (1/3 cup) light soy sauce
80ml (1/3 cup) dark soy sauce
4 star anise
5 lapsang souchong tea bags

For the quail salad:
100ml dark soy sauce
2 star anise
120ml white wine
50g palm sugar, grated
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
6 quail
150g shiitake mushrooms
2 tblsp sunflower oil
4 cups mixed salad leaves

For the palm sugar dressing:
3 tblsp palm sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil

1.  Place eggs in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.  Tap the shells all over with a spoon until they are all cracked, but do not peel.  The more cracking, the more marbling later.
2.  Place the unpeeled eggs, salt, soy sauces, 4 star anise and teabags into a saucepan and cover the eggs with cold water.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours (top up with water if necessary).  Cool, then transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
3.  For the quail: Place remaining soy sauce, 2 star anise, sugar, ginger, garlic, wine and 1 litre of water into a large frypan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.  Add quail and return to the boil.  Turn the quail to cook through (juices should run clear when they are just cooked). Cool in the liquid.  [The quail and eggs can be prepared to this stage the day before].
4.  To make the dressing: place palm sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heatto high and cook until reduced by half, then set aside to cool.  Add the remaining dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.
5.  Now you need to roast the quail: bring the quail to room temperature, then toss with the shiitake mushrooms in the oil.  Place the quails on a baking tray in a pre-heated 200 deg C oven and cook for 10 minutes (you may want to cover the leg tips in foil to prevent browning too much).  Remove from oven to rest.  Then carve each quail into 4 joints.
6.  Roast shiitake mushrooms in the oven for 5 minutes.
7.  Peel the quail eggs.
8.  Toss the salad leaves, quail, mushrooms and eggs in a large bowl.  Pour over the dressing.  Serve on a platter. 

Recipe adapted from delicious (April 2003)
Ingredients: Soy sauce, quail eggs, star anise, lapsang souchoung teabags, shiitake mushrooms, grated palm sugar, minced ginger, minced garlic, quail.

The eggs are hardboiled first, then the shells are cracked before simmering in the soy, star anise and tea.  If you use teabags, don't do what I did and hang the teabag tags over the edge of the pan - mine caught fire when I turned up the heat - oops!

Serve the salad on a platter with finger bowls on the side...
...You will need to use your fingers to eat the delicious quail.  The meat has a wonderful flavour from the soy, and the marbled eggs have a smoky, salty flavour as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm just a Show girl

Call me old-fashioned, but I love the Royal Easter Show (Sydney).

I love how it's the same every year. I love the district fruit displays, the fruit cakes, the scones, the jams, the paintings and art works.
I love the dagwood dogs and corn-on-a-stick and over-priced chips. I love the crowds of happy families (to some extent). I love Sideshow Alley, the rides and the Showbag pavilion.

Most of all, I like taking photos of everything!
I only bought 2 showbags this year: the Twisties bag, and the Red Rock Deli bag. Both good value ($4 and $6 resp.)

The Power Surge ride looked unreal.  Note that I said 'looked' - I'm not silly enough to go on it, especially after lunch.
Other showgoers didn't have any such qualms.

It's not a Show without the creepy, open-mouthed clowns, or games where 'every child wins a prize'. PS: Can you spot me in the above picture?

Lunch consisted of a plate of Twisted fries smothered with cheese and salt.  See the amazed kid passing by.

We missed seeing Robosaurus in action, but it looked massive as it was towed back to its enclosure. That's a small pony (or a giant man).  I am pleased to report that I did not encounter any farm animals this year except for these pretty chickens and an inflatable cow.

As usual, the district fruit displays were impressive, especially Northern District's 'Dawn of Agriculture' display, complete with a mummy in a casket.

Fruit cakes chock full of fruit.  And delicious lamingtons.

The decorated cakes were amazing this year.

None more so than this Alice in Wonderland 'mad hatter'-style cake. It's by Anna Maria Roche, who was an instructor at the Planet Cake cupcake class I did a few years ago.

Even though I deliberately avoided the cattle, sheep and goats, I could not leave the Show without checking out the dogs and cats.  The cat judging was on and this magnificent white (ragdoll?) cat with one blue eye and one green eye won a few ribbons.
At the dog pavilion, the samoyeds were fluffy, the Cavalier King Charles spaniels were cute, and this blue-shirted famishus spectaclii (juvenile) got lots of attention.

It was a fun day, with quite a bit of walking around.  I can't wait for next year's.
You may also want to take a look at my visit last year.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Journey through Turkish Meze at Efendy

Turkish cuisine – hands up if you know much about it.

My hand is resolutely down, and I freely admit that I know little to nothing about Turkish food (except for gozleme). So, when Simon Food Favourites gave us the opportunity to try it, I shouted ‘Count me in!’. Together with a party of other foodbloggers, we descended on Efendy Modern Turkish Restaurant in Balmain for a journey through the meze of Istanbul.

Our hosts were chef Somer and his wife, Asli, and they provided a feast of dishes for us to try. I won’t go into detail about the dishes, as Simon has written an excellent roundup here.

Just some pictures to whet your appetites like they did ours.

Delicious Turkish pide bread, with olive oil and various dipping mixes, including Baharat and Isot (dried pepper) – very spicy and raisin-y in flavour.

Soguk Mezeler (Cold mezes) included cubes of fava bean paste (with delicious chopped dill). Hamsi (Black Sea sardines, confit-style). Midye Dolma (Tasmanian mussels with rice and pinenuts).

Sicak Mezeler (Hot mezes). Pachanga Boregi (borek pastry of sun-dried beef and kashar cheese) – this was my favourite, absolutely delicious intense flavours.
Kadayifli Karides (Hervey Bay prawns wrapped in kadayifli pastry; this dish has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2007, by popular demand.
Koc Yumurtasi – lamb’s testicles; not my favourite, although it is a popular offal dish that is eaten in late-night restaurants around Istanbul (good for hangovers). In case you’re wondering, the ‘balls’ have a soft texture, like paté, and the taste is sort of milky, for want of a better word. To drink, we tried Raki, which is an aniseed liqueur that is mixed with water and ice.

A beautiful salad was next, Ahirdayi Salata, of chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
The main was Kuzu Kuzu, a tender trio of lamb, including a tradition yoghurt soup with lamb neck. Beautifully tender, pull-apart, Bultarra Saltbush lamb....mmmm....

Desserts included burnt mastic and cinnamon pudding, a 42-layered baklava, and Keskul, a pistachio, almond and pomegranate pudding (beautiful!). The Turkish apple tea with cinnamon stick, and Turkish Delight were a very delightful way to end the meal.

Before the meal, Somer gave us some background on Turkey and its food, and the way in which Turkey’s neighbouring countries have influenced the cuisine. The traditions of the Turkish palace are also a major influence with a huge staff of chefs being an integral part of the old palace. The traditional flavours and dishes are obviously an influence at Efendy, and the care with which the food is prepared certainly comes out in the presentation and quality of the dishes.
To close the evening, Somer and Asli presented a colourfully decorated glass plate clock to Simon for organising.

They also gave us a goodie bag filled with pomegranate molasses, Turkish apple tea, Isot, and Turkish Delight. To emphasise the restaurant’s quest for quality, Somer told us how he originally imported his Turkish Delight from Istanbul, as he couldn’t find any more authentic sweets. Until he discovered the famous Real Turkish Delight manufacturer right here in Sydney, which is even better than the one from Turkey. The rose-flavoured one is so gorgeous, it’s really hard to not eat the entire packet in one go...

We also got a detailed, written description of all the dishes, which I think emphasises the attention to detail that Efendy has. The evening was a wonderful example of Turkish cuisine, and it’s made me hungry for more of their tastes, the meze in particular. And the lamb’s testicles – maybe not...

Efendy Modern Turkish Restaurant is at 79 Elliot St, Balmain, NSW. Ph: 02 9810 5466.
Open Breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and Dinner Wednesday to Sunday.
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