Friday, November 20, 2015

A Spelt Blueberry Tart, a Deep Dish Pizza for Summer.... and a random Macaron Rocky Road Smash

Yes yes, I am playing catch up. Somehow the weeks keep ticking over and before I know it, a month has passed and I havent been here. Can I be that guy and blame the tricky balance of work deadlines, trying to write again, a two year old and a 3month old baby? Will you give me that?  If you won't maybe these recipes will convince you to forgive me. 
Hope everyone is looking forward to Christmas. We are staying put this year, just spending time with family and friends. I cannot wait. 

Blueberry, spelt and crystallised rosemary tart

Love it or hate it, that time of year is upon us. That time where we have to dig out the red lipstick, don something more respectable than sweats and invite people over. It's the holidays and you want to be slightly impressive. Impressive with both the red lipstick and the food offering. So I suggest you try this blueberry tart. It's delicious. And fresh. All the while still being sufficiently indulgent enough to call it dessert. Basically it's a multi-tasker. The very best kind and one that is dreamy beyond compare.
Blueberries and rosemary are a match made in heaven. In heaven I tell you. Get baking. Preferably in the red lipstick just to give the whole process a sense of occasion.
1-2 sprigs rosemary
1 eggwhite

60g caster sugar
500g blueberries
¼ cup dried blueberries
1 cup thick yoghurt
1 tbsp honey

Spelt pastry
2 cups spelt flour, cold
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2/3 cup butter, cubed
pinch sea salt flakes
3 tbsp sugar (use caster or rapadura)
5-7  tbsp ice water

Brush the rosemary sprigs with eggwhite, pulling at the individual leaves so they are covered then sprinkle with caster sugar. Place on a baking paper lined tray and set aside for 12 hours or overnight to dry.
Grease and line a loose bottomed pie tin (I used a 23cm tin but there is enough pastry for a 28cm tin).  
For the pastry add the flour, vanilla bean seeds, butter, salt and sugar to a food processor and pulse until a crumble mixture is achieved. Add the ice water slowly as needed until the mixture is just coming together. You don't want to overwork the dough. Once combined, turn out and form a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out between 2 sheets of baking paper until it is about ½ cm thick then line your tart tin with it, gently pressing it in. Allow to rest again for 20-30 minutes then cover with baking paper and pastry weights and blind bake (12-15 minutes). Remove weights and bake until nice and golden (7-10 minutes), then cool completely.
When ready to serve smear the yoghurt over the base and drizzle over the honey. Top with the fresh and dried blueberries then scatter over crystallised rosemary. To serve, cut indecent sized slices with a sharp knife. Best served on day of making.
The deep dish pizza of your dreams
 Deep. Dish. Pizza. Other than I Love you – no utterance of three words fills me with such infinite joy. So I'll say it again, just to bring you along for the ride. Deep. Dish. Pizza.
I've never been to Chicago. One day I'll definitely get there but for now I sustain myself with things the city is renowned for – like binge watching the Good Wife and one of the greatest culinary concoctions - the deep dish pizza. Gah, you get the best of both worlds – sh%tloads of topping and s--tloads of crust with every happy freakin mouthful. Why hello dear friend! I've tried to spin a more summer inspired version here with zucchini, mint, lemon and just the smallest hint of chilli. Pizza night just got a little more interesting….
1tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ sachets (about 10g) instant dried yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups pizza flour
2 cups plain flour
generous pinch sea salt flakes
1 tbsp milk powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 zucchini, finely sliced on a mandolin
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 x ball buffalo mozzarella, coarsely torn
¼ cup soft Persian fetta
¼ cup smoked cheddar, grated
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of Aleppo pepper
1 tbsp olive oil to drizzle

Grease and line a loose bottomed 28cm pie tin.
Combine the brown sugar, warm water, oil and yeast in a bowl. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until it froths slightly with bubbles on the surface.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook combine the flours, sea salt flakes and milk powder. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the yeast mixture and kneed until the dough comes together, it will be slightly sticky but should look smooth and a little shiny. Usually about 8 minutes.
Place dough in a medium bowl lightly oiled with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled.
Preheat oven to 200C.
Knock back dough then divide into two balls. Spread one ball out to a rough circle and push into the bottom of the pan, spreading to cover the base. Roll the other ball out, like a sausage and then press this around the sides, using your fingers to combine the base and sides. It will be quite thick so to prevent it falling down, allow it to cover the top of the lip of your tin. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for another hour to rest and rise again.
Bake for 10 minutes until it turns barely golden brown on the crust.
Reduce oven heat to 180C.
Allow pizza crust to cool slightly then smear the base with the tomato paste. Add the zucchini and cheese in layers with half the mint leaves. Season generously then place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is cooked through, nice and brown and the cheese is bubbling nicely. Remove and drizzle over the olive oil, add the Aleppo pepper flakes and the lemon rind and some fresh mint. Season and serve piping hot.

A random but delightfully pretty macaron rocky road
If Willy Wonka and Santa got pissed together in the kitchen, I am convinced they would come up with something like this after about their fifth vodka. Something all together random but completely tasty and festive. And for something that is so wildly pretty to look at, it's spectacular to know that no actual cooking skills are required to complete it, making it perfect for the upcoming Christmas agenda.
If ever there was a time for edible gifts it is now and I think this rocky road is pretty much Christmas wrapped in a cellophane bag*.
*Drinks not included.
400g dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
250g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
200g vanilla marshmallows
10 macarons, half roughly chopped, half reserved for top
1 cup plain biscuits, roughly broken into chunks
1-2 funsize kit kats, roughly broken
1 x 50g bar Cadbury aero mint chocolate, broken into chunks
Any other confectionary you feel like putting into it
Optional toppings
20g freeze dried raspberries for scattering
silver leaf for scattering
hundreds and thousands for scattering
melted chocolate for drizzling, optional
Grease and line a 25cm x 16cm cake tin with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang (for easy removal). Melt the milk and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally with a metal spoon, until smooth but don't overly mix, the two colours of chocolate make a lovely marbling effect. (2-3 minutes).
Combine the remaining ingredients except half the macarons and the silver leaf in a bowl. Pour over the chocolate and stir to coat. Spread mixture evenly over baking tin, scatter with freeze-dried raspberries, push in the remaining whole macarons and scatter over a few bits of silver leaf (if using) and hundreds and thousands. Drizzle over extra melted chocolate if you feel like it.
Set aside until firm (at least 2 hours). Turn onto a clean surface and cut into rough glorious chunks ready for over consumption.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spiced apple pound cake with cinnamon butter cream

Apple spiced pound cake with cardamom butter cream

If you had to add a third cake to your baking repertoire outside chocolate and vanilla, I dare say this is it. A gorgeous, spiced brown sugar pound cake. It might not be a high rise, teetering on the edge thanks to 10kg of adornments but it doesn’t mean this cake is any kind of wallflower, it is small but mighty. And oh so perfect with a cup of tea.

180g brown sugar
240g butter
4 eggs
190g plain flour, sifted
1 heaped tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tsp each: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg
1 cup dried apple, chopped

Butter cream (makes 450g)
1 tbsp ground cardamom
100g butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
75ml double cream (or use milk)

Preheat oven to 175C.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and spices.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and chopped apple.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, beating until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top, and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. If you find the cake is browning too much on top., cover tightly with foil and return to oven to continue cooking.

For the butter cream beat the butter for 4 minutes on high speed until pale. Add the sugar, vanilla, cardamom and cream and beat on low speed to bring it together, then turn up and beat on high for another 2-3 minutes.

Generously ice the cake, concentrating the icing on top of the cake and create loose, decadent swirls in the icing with a knife.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bringing Back the Berg

Can we take a moment? Just a brief one, so we can properly rejoice in the return of the iceberg lettuce? It never left some tables (or some peoples tacos) but when the mixed bag and then kale came riding into town she got pushed aside. So I gladly welcome her return to menus this country over.
Why she ever left I don't know – there are very few foods in the world that taste like a crisp glass of water (honestly how good is that), and none so willing to be the vessel that allows other adornments to shine. I was playing around with what I had in the fridge and came up with what I like to think isChristmas/Summer/Good times in a salad.
And she is so damn pretty to look at and a joy to eat with all her punchy complexity. The tomatoes and pomegranates work amazingly well together – a curious combo of sweet and sweet while the smoked salt adds a bit of intrigue; the black garlic is reminiscent of caramel, molasses and good times.

Head of iceberg, washed thoroughly, outer leaves discarded and cut into 4 wedges
250g punnet of mini roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 pomegranate, hulled, seeds and juice reserved
½ small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of black garlic, finely sliced
A few mint leaves
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
Smoked salt to taste
Herb dressing
¼ cup coriander leaves
¼ cup mint leaves
¼ cup pistachios
4 tbsp grapeseed oil
Tahini Yoghurt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
½ cup natural yoghurt
1 tbsp tahini paste
Nigella seeds and mint leaves to serve
Combine the tomato, pomegranate seeds and juice, red onion, black garlic and pomegranate molasses in a bowl and set aside. After about twenty minutes, season with smoked salt to taste.
Add the ingredients for the herb dressing to a blender and blitz until a rough pesto like consistency is achieved. I like it still quite rough and chunky so be careful not to over blend.
Combine the tahini yoghurt ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
To serve, arrange the wedges on a large serving plate and spoon the pomegranate salad over the top. Drizzle a little of the herb dressing and add a dollop of the tahini yoghurt. Scatter with nigella seeds and extra mint leaves just before serving.

Friday, October 9, 2015

PInk lamingtons

As promised I am going to fill your feed with pink recipes this month. And I feel its my duty to share this one - pink lamingtons. Gah, who doesn't need pink lamingtons in their lives! The athletes may have their arm bands but the bakers, well the bakers get limited edition polka dot Kitchen Aid bowls. I know, I know. So stupidly pretty. And even more importantly Kitchen Aid are donating some of the proceeds of each and every sale to the Breast Cancer Network Australia and New Zealand.  I love interchanging the metal and ceramic bowls depending on what I am doing with the mixer so its functional as well as beautiful. The bowls are available anywhere that sells the mixers but if you wanted to check first check the Kitchen Aid website for stockists before you schlep to the shops.

Now to the recipe! I used one of those individual brownie tins but you can also use a regular muffin pan which is something everyone is more likely to have. The cooking time/outcome doesn't change at all whichever cooking tin you use.


½ cup (75g) self-raising flour
¼ cup (30g) plain flour
⅓ cup (40g) corn flour
½ cup (80g) caster sugar
90g butter, softened to room temperature
2 x 60g eggs, at room temperature
75ml milk, lightly warmed
½ packet strawberry jelly crystals (reserve remaining for coating)
100ml thickened cream
1 tbs strawberry jam
¾ cup (70g) desiccated coconut
1 tbs extra strawberry jelly crystals

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Grease the base and sides of a mini muffin tin well with butter.
Attach the flat beater to a stand mixer. Place the flours and sugar in the mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.
Add the butter, eggs, and milk to the flour mixture. Mix until combined. Increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute.
Divide the mixture between the holes of the muffin tin, filling each hole to about ¾ full. Bake on the lower centre shelf 8-10 minutes or until the little cakes are golden and just firm.
While the cakes are baking, make the jelly, following the instructions on the packet, but using only half the packet of crystals and only half of the water recommend. Refrigerate until just syrupy, this takes anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the coldness of your fridge.
When the little cakes are firm and lightly golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool 3-5 minutes before carefully removing from the pan. Place on a cooling rack.
Attach the mixing bowl and whisk to a stand mixer. Add the cream to the bowl and beat until soft peaks form.
Spread one flat edge of the cakes with a little jam and sandwich together with a little cream.

Quickly dunk and toss each lamington in the jelly, lightly coating and roll in the coconut combined with extra jelly crystals. Place on a rack to set. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Best eaten on the day made.