Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Enigmatic Chocolate Tofu Mousse

Here’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle – decadent dark chocolate paired with healthy silken tofu. In a dessert that looks and tastes just like rich, indulgent chocolate mousse. What?? Lead me to it!
This recipe actually came about because I had a pack of silken tofu that was fast approaching its use-by date – actually, it may have been a day past, but don’t tell anyone. The other half does not really like anything that even whispers “I’m quite a healthy food, y’know”, so I had to find some way of disguising the normally placid (neé boring?) nature of the tofu before it could be served up.
Now I don’t know who came up with this idea of making Chocolate Tofu Mousse (probably not a Frenchman), but once you get over the slightly medicinal soybean-ish flavour of the ‘mousse’, it’s really quite nice. That description probably doesn’t do it justice, but suffice to say that the anti-health food nut gobbled down most of this dessert and came back asking for more.  High praise indeed for food that is borderline ‘off’ (I told you not to tell anyone!)

Chocolate Tofu Mousse
serves 4
300g soft silken tofu
200g dark or milk chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tblsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1.  Process the tofu: Put the tofu in a bowl and use a stick blender (or a normal blender) to process the tofu until it is smooth. Set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bowl).  Stir until the chocolate is melted, then let cool slightly.
3. Gently combine the tofu, chocolate, maple syrup and vanilla together until there are no streaky bits, then spoon into 4 small cups or glasses. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours, then serve.

Ingredients, including soft silken tofu, milk and dark chocolate, maple syrup and vanilla.

The mousse looks lusciously smooth after the ingredients are mixed together, but it still needs time in the refrigerator to set.

Ahem, this sort of reminds me of Foster Clark's tinned chocolate pudding...
Tastes much nicer, though!
Apropos of nothing...
Here are pictures of a curious Tabitha cat.

What's that? What's that? I haven't seen that thing before. Is it food? Gimme a closer look.

Oh. It's just another camera*. 
Get that effing thing out of my face.

* I got a new camera, this one.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Inspiring Chocolate Snaps with Sea Salt

Those ‘Top 10’ lists make fascinating reading, from the top-grossing movies, to the highest-paid stars, to the best-selling books (books? how quaint!) and the most-visited blogs.

Then came the news that the ‘richest chef in the world’ is likely to be Jamie Oliver (this), ahead of other famous pot-rattlers such as Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. Gosh, pushing out a couple of TV shows, endorsements and cookbooks each year certainly pays off, though it must take a lot out of you. Not that I’d know, but it’s probably a good guess.

So where does that leave lesser-known, but popular food stars, like Nigel Slater? Nigel has a lovely TV series on called Simple Cooking, and he has a more gentle approach than the sometimes manic Jamie Oliver. His shows features dishes that are so easy to prepare that even a disorganised amateur (like me) will be inspired and enticed.

Here’s my take on one of his creations. Super easy to whip up, beautiful to look at and makes you want more. That makes him number One on my hit list at the moment.

Chocolate Snaps with Sea Salt
makes approx 9

100g dark chocolate
2 tblsp flaked almonds
½ tsp caster sugar
¼ cup unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped
Sea salt flakes, to sprinkle
Dried rose petals (optional)

1. For the chocolate: Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until it is almost all melted, then remove from the heat and stir to fully melt.

2. For the almonds: Put the almonds on a baking tray and place into a moderate oven (180C/350F) until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove the almonds from the oven and sprinkle over the caster sugar, then return to the oven until the sugar melts, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. Place a sheet of baking paper onto a tray, then spread a heaped teaspoon of some melted chocolate onto the paper, into a circle shape. Scatter over the almonds, pistachios, sea salt and rose petals. You may need to press the nuts and petals into the chocolate so they stick.

4. Chill the chocolate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before peeling the chocolate snaps from the paper to serve.

recipe adapted from delicious (July 2012)

From top: dried roses, flaked almonds, pistachios
The roses are from a pack of rose tea that I got in an Asian grocer; I just rubbed the petals off the roses for this recipe.

The almonds are sprinkled with sugar to caramelise before being dropped onto the melted chocolate together with crushed pistachios, rose petals and salt flakes.

Take my word, these chocolate snaps are really easy to make and even easier to eat.

The sprinkling of sea salt flakes is an inspired touch. I used 'Lindt dark chocolate with Sea Salt' to give an extra boost of saltiness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parmesan Rosemary Biscuits and bein' Chill

I’m quite proud of these Parmesan Rosemary Biscuits, because I whipped them up one evening while waiting for my dinner to cook (roast chicken, or something like that). Since the oven was on anyway, and these bikkies needed an hour in the fridge, they were an ideal way to use up the rosemary that was in the roast chicken.

To look up the recipe (via handy was the work of a moment, and a quick whizz in the food processor later, the dough was ready. It was even easier to roll out the dough and cut the biscuits and to bake them as the chicken came out of the oven. Very easy peasy. Makes me feel quite ‘chill’ to think that there was no rushing around for ingredients and stressing out like I normally am at dinnertime.

And speaking of ‘chill’, check out the latest pictures of Henry and Tabitha – and try and
pick the relaxed cat.

Parmesan Rosemary Biscuits
approx 30

100g butter, chopped
100g parmesan cheese (or half parmesan/half cheddar), grated
1 tblsp rosemary leaves, chopped
¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper

1. Place the butter, cheese, rosemary, flour, salt and pepper into a food processor and mix until it comes together in a ball.
2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a 15cm (6in) disc. Wrap in the plastic and refrigerate for one hour or until firm.
3. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  Line oven tray with baking paper.
4. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to a ½ cm (¼ in) thickness. Use a 5cm (2in) round cookie cutter to cut out pieces of the dough.  Knead together the scraps and roll out again to use up all the dough.
5. Place biscuits on the prepared baking tray and bake, in batches, until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
These biscuits can be stored in an airtight container, lined with foil, for up to 5 days.

recipe from

Some of the ingredients: Rosemary and Parmesan

The dough is easy to make and roll out (refrigerate it first to make this easier).
Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter.
Golden, crispy, cheesey and moreish - perfect with coffee.

PS: Win your own Bialetti espresso maker and some lovely espresso glasses - to enter, click HERE.

Tabitha vs Henry Update
Pick the relaxed Cat

Henry cat is so laid back that he fell asleep against the window while laying on the outdoor table.
Tabitha cat is always on the alert when Henry's around. Here, she is highly offended that he has fallen asleep while she was glaring at him.

A bit of face time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Espresso Granita plus a Fab Giveaway!

 What’s the coffee like at your place?
And, more relevantly, are you a caffeine addict?

Me, I’ve always been a tea drinker, mainly because the smell of coffee is always better than how it ultimately tastes. And I’m very fond of the saying, ‘Some drink coffee because they have to; others drink tea because they want to’, with the implication that coffee addicts need one to get through the morning, while we tea drinkers are so discerning with our white, green and grown-on-a-dewdropped-mountain varieties.

Then, out of nowhere, I’m suddenly having a coffee in the morning, and maybe one in the afternoon. A ‘weak long black with a dash of cold milk’ is my current drink of choice, meaning that I’m well on the way to a one-and-a-half-shot-macchiato-thanks. Really, I can’t get enough of the stuff, dammit!

Here is a beautiful way to get a daily dose of caffeine goodness into your diet. This fabulous espresso granita is not too strong, a little bit sweet, and keeps you coming back for more. Kind of like me, hahaha…

Plus, please stick around for a fantastic giveaway – your very own espresso maker and elegant coffee cups.

Espresso Granita
serves 4

¼ cup caster sugar
2/3 cup water
a few drops of vanilla extract
1 cup of freshly brewed espresso coffee, cooled
Whipped cream, to serve

It’s best to start this recipe about 3 hours before you want to serve it.
1. For the sugar syrup: place the sugar, water and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 4 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile, place a metal loaf pan or shallow metal tray (10cm x 20cm) into the freezer to chill. When the syrup has cooled, pour it into the metal pan together with the cooled espresso. Place in the freezer. After about 1 hour, use a fork to scrape up the partially frozen granita, then put it back in the freezer.  Do the same scraping thing 40 minutes after that, then repeat in 40 minute intervals, 2 more times, or until ready to serve.
3. To serve, spoon the granita into glasses and top with whipped cream. 

The basis for the granita is espresso coffee, made here in a Bialetti Moka Express.
You could win one! Read on...

 After a bit of scraping and freezer-watching, the granita is ready.
Topped with unsweetened whipped cream, it's just like a cold, refreshing Vienna coffee.

 The Bodum Pavina double-walled glasses keep the granita frozen and delicious.
And you could win these glasses - read on!

By the way, I used caramel-flavoured coffee beans, so the granita tasted just like Kahlua, but without the alcohol. Sooo good!
Still waiting for the giveaway? Then read on...

Kitchenware Direct Giveaway!

Thanks to Kitchenware Direct, (and particularly Brad from Kitchenware Direct!) you could Win! Win! Win!

That’s right, make your morning coffee (or anytime coffee) like the Italians do, with this sturdy Bialetti ‘Moka’ stovetop espresso maker. It’s a handy 3-cup size, and it’s so easy to store away, clean and use. 
And to enjoy your just-right brew, the prize comes with a set of Bodum Pavina double-walled espresso cups, to keep your coffee warm and your fingers cool.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post, with the magic words “Un Espresso, per favore!” (or email, details below). Entries close midnight 16th September 2012. Prize can only be delivered to Australian addresses. Other conditions are below. Good luck!
Update: This competition is now Closed.
Congratulations to the winner of the Kitchenware Direct products: Andrea L (via email)

And Thanks to all who entered.

Conditions of Entry
1. Entry to this contest is by a comment on this post containing the words “Un Espresso, per favore!”. Alternatively, enter by sending an email to oohlookbel2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
2. Entries close at midnight 16 September 2012.
3. Winner will be randomly selected
4. The prize can only be delivered to Australian addresses. Prize will be supplied and delivered by Kitchenware Direct.
5. Please include an email address or your blog URL in your entry so I can contact you if you win.