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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Burnt Orange

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Fish pie before…

One of my current favourite eating places is Burnt Orange in Mosman NSW.

Situated in leafy surrounds in the bushland at the end of Middle Head Road Mosman, the restaurant overlooks Sydney Harbour. The beautiful sandstone building in Californian bungalow style is a tranquil haven to have breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.

The food is fresh, tasty and visually appealing in presentation. The style is contemporary cuisine, with more than a passing nod to the Irish heritage of the owner. The Irish soda bread is a particular favourite of this quirky writer!

http://www.burntorange.com.au/

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Fish pie… after

IMG_2690IMG_2692Fish cake before and after

IMG_2546Berry Eton mess

IMG_2693Mandarin and coconut cream Eton mess

 

IMG_2695Banoffee pie

IMG_0089Rhubarb crumble

IMG_0092Ricotta cheesecake with poached quince

 

 

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Custard Slice with Passion Fruit Icing

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This recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s Custard Slice from The Great Comic Relief Bake Off.
I love passion fruit so I have added it to the icing. Very messy to eat but awfully more-ish!

Ingredients
Rough puff pastry:
225 gms plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
200g butter frozen
140-160 mls water
Crème pâtissière:
500ml milk
1vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
100gms caster sugar
4 free-range eggs, yolks only
40gms cornflour
40gms butter
Passion fruit Icing:
200gms icing sugar
1 passion fruit

Method
1.    In a large bowl mix the flour and salt together. Grate the butter and rub roughly into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Don’t worry if there are large lumps.
2.    Add the water a little at a time until the pastry just binds together (you may not need all the water).
3.    Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a narrow rectangle about 2.5cm thick.
4.    With the pastry vertically in front of you fold the bottom third of the pastry up onto the middle third then the top third down onto the other thirds. This is called a turn.
5.    Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes
6.    Take out of fridge and with a rolling pin roll out again into a narrow rectangle and repeat the turn as before.
7.    Chill again and repeat the rolling and turning once more, so a total of three times. Wrap the pastry in cling film and return to the fridge to rest.
8.    While the pastry is resting, make the crème pâtissière. Pour the milk into a pan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.
9.    Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.
10.    Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the pan.
11.    Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.
12.    Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.
13.    Leave to cool, cover with cling film and then chill before using.

NOTE: My crème pâtissière did not set firmly enough, even in the fridge, so in desperation I used gelatine leaves to try to achieve a firm enough set to provide a firm filling in between the puff pastry layers, with limited success.
14.    Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
15.    Divide the pastry into two equal pieces and roll out both pieces to 20cm square and 5mm thick. Then place each pastry sheet onto the lined baking trays, and chill for 10-15 minutes.
16.    Bake the pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
17.    While the pastry bakes, line a deep 23cm square baking tray with foil with plenty of extra foil at the sides. The extra foil allows you to lift out the assembled slices.
18.    Place one pastry sheet in bottom of the lined baking tray. (Reserve the prettiest piece for the top.)
19.    Spread the crème pâtissière evenly onto the pastry in the baking tray before placing other piece of pastry, on top. Refrigerate while making the icing.
20.    For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in the passionfruit pulper until thoroughly combined and set aside.
21.    Take the custard slice from the fridge and spread the icing over the top layer of pastry.
22.    Place the slice back into the fridge to set.
23.    Cut the finished vanilla slice into eight pieces.
24.    Using the foil carefully lift the portioned vanilla slices out of the tray and place onto a serving platter.

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White Chocolate and Caramel Pecan Cookies with Sea Salt

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Take a basic cookie dough and add white chocolate chunks, caramel sugared pecans, add a piece of two of caramel or vanilla fudge, bake, and finish with sea salt.
This is my tweaking of the classic chocolate chip recipe to satisfy my current obsession with salted caramel!
The resulting cookie has a lovely caramel flavour created from the melting of the white chocolate during baking.

Ingredients
150 gms butter
1 cup dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
1 egg
I/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
100 gms white chocolate chopped into chunks
1 or 2 small pieces of caramel or vanilla fudge, roughly chopped
Caramel Pecans
1 tablespoon white sugar
50 gms pecans
Pinch sea salt

Method
Cream butter and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, process swell. Sift flour, baking powder and salt and add to mixture, processing until smooth.
Stir in white chocolate chunks and fudge chunks.
Make caramel pecans by heating the sugar in a small frying pan until dissolved. Add pecans and cook until sugar syrup just starts to turn a golden caramel colour. Remove the pecans from the pan, scatter with sea salt. When cool roughly chop and add to cookie mixture.
Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking trays lined with baking paper.  Sprinkle sea salt to taste over the top of each cookie. Bake for 15- 20 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.

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Meringues

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Meringues – the quickest party food to make at short notice, and so easy. There are a myriad of things you can do with them – serve them on their own, make meringue sandwiches with a cream filling, flavour them, colour them, or pile them high into a meringue mountain which is my favourite thing to do.
Best served with champagne to cut through the cloying sweetness.

Meringue Mountain

Make meringues – flavour and colour of your choice – and pile up croquembouche style sandwiched together with vanilla cream.

Here is my no fail meringue recipe, originally from Margaret Fulton, via an old recipe of my mother.

Meringues

Ingredients
3 egg free range whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to very slow – 135 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until frothy, add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of the measured sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining sugar at once, fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.

Add your flavouring at this point or food colour. In the images below I made pink rosewater meringues as well as plain ones.

Spoon or pipe onto prepared trays. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Leave in oven for a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better.  When cool, store in an airtight container.

As this Quirky writer is a fan of all things rustic, I like my meringues free form  – but you could certainly pipe them for a more formal effect!

Assemble your meringue mountain in whatever way takes your fancy. I decorated the pink and white rosewater meringue mountain with crystallized rose petals.

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The concept for “Meringue Mountain” originated with the sister of Quirky, a very creative and colourful cook!

Note from Quirky sister:

“I make an even easier version using plain meringues cemented with vanilla flavoured whipped cream. This is great for children’s parties, afternoon teas or to serve at a dinner party. The mountain can be either passed around and individual meringues plucked from it or the meringues can be served in clumps in bowls.

I sometimes colour the cream pale pink or green and decorate the spaces between the meringues. I have used crystallised violets and rose petals – but easier and I think more effective are fresh flowers providing of course they are not remotely poisonous.

For an afternoon tea for another of Quirky’s sister’s 70th birthday I used pink plum blossom. The drought had killed most of our violets and I needed to improvise. Violet leaves or vine leaves can also be arranged in a circle to frame the base of the mountain to great effect. These are just some of the things which I do. I am sure other mountain makers will have loads more ideas.

One thing I have promised myself I will do one day is to use chocolate as decoration by moulding dark chocolate on camellia leaves. This technique was first shown to me by our former neighbour, a conservator and always consummately creative.”

The meringue mountain below is made up of sour cherry meringues and chocolate meringues. The recipes for these meringues are from delicious. December2012/January2013.

Meringue Mountain

The Quirky Cat

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There are a lot of cat bloggers out there! And cats who obviously cook too…So I am introducing the Quirky Cat AKA Possum, so named for her beautiful stripey grey fur, marsupial brown under carriage and thick Possum tail. Some paternal conjecture…

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Moroccan Fish with Couscous and Harissa Yoghurt

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This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Moroccan Bream from his 15 Minute Meals. It’s a simple dish, although it took me a little longer than 15 minutes to prepare…
Some wonderful Middle Eastern flavours, with a heady mix of fiery hot harissa, sweet pomegranate and apricot, tart preserved lemon and cool yoghurt.
Jamie uses bream. I’m not sure if bream in the UK is the same fish as in Australia. Visiting the fabulous Sydney Fish Markets, http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/, I bought some yellow tail bream which looked perfect for the recipe. They certainly tasted delicious.
Jamie’s recipe calls for whole fish, heads and tails removed, but obviously still on the bone. I would recommend fish fillets, preferably with the skin on, if you don’t like picking out the bones…

Ingredients
Salsa
1/2-1 preserved lemon (be careful that the brand you choose isn’t too bitter – if possible make your own)
A handful of dried apricots
A couple of strips of preserved red pepper
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 pomegranate
Fish
2 whole bream, heads and tails removed, scaled and gutted OR 4 fish fillets of choice, preferably skin on
Rock salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 spring onions
A few sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon or to taste of harissa
3-6 saffron threads covered with 100 mls boiling water and left to infuse for a couple of minutes
Couscous
1 cup couscous
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon butter
Salt to taste
To serve
1/2 cup fat free yoghurt
A  handful of pistachios

Method
To make the salsa, blitz the lemon, apricots, peppers and the parsley in a food processor until well blended. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze in the juice of half the pomegranate. Mix, season to taste.
For the fish: score the the fish in a crisscross fashion on both sides, down to the bone if using whole fish rather than fillets. Season all over with rock salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and add the fish, cook over medium high heat for 3 minutes each side for whole fish, 2 minutes for fillets.
Add finely sliced spring onions, thyme sprigs, harissa to taste and saffron threads and their soaking water. Scrunch up and wet a sheet of greaseproof paper and tuck it around the fish. Cook on low heat for the time it takes to prepare the couscous or until the liquid is half evaporated from the frying pan.
To make the couscous, add couscous to the boiling water in a small saucepan. Add salt, cover and stand for about 3 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the butter, fluffing up the couscous as you stir.

To serve:
Pile the couscous onto a serving platter and spoon the salsa over the couscous. Lay the fish on top, spoon over some of the pan juices, and scatter over the pistachios. Hold the other pomegranate half in your hand and bash it with a spoon to release the seeds and juice. Serve with a bowl of yoghurt on the side with a little harissa swirled through for a pretty colour.

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Chocolate and Raspberry Vacherin 

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I  love meringue  – making it and eating it of course. I cook all versions of egg white and sugar creations from pavlovas to vacherins, dacquoises and plain old meringues.

A vacherin is two discs of meringue sandwiched together with cream and a yummy filling. Chocolate flavoured meringue and cream and raspberries go so well together.

INGREDIENTS

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 heaped tbs cocoa or to taste
100gms dark chocolate
250mls cream, whipped
300gms frozen raspberries
1 tbs icing sugar

METHOD

Defrost raspberries with icing sugar.
Drain off excess liquid.
Blitz chocolate in food processor until the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 150degrees C (non fan forced).
Place a sheet of baking paper on each of 2 baking trays.
Roughly mark out a circle on each  – about the diameter of a dinner plate.
Spray lightly with non-stick spray.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.
Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff.
Stir in vanilla and vinegar, then stir in cocoa and chopped chocolate.
Spoon onto paper circles.
Place baking trays in centre of oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar for further hour.

When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.
Place 1 meringue with flat side facing up on a plate.
Spoon cream onto meringue, then raspberries.
Place second meringue on top, flat side down.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Decorate with chocolate shavings or fresh berries as desired.

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