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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Rocky Road for Adults!

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Everyone loves rocky road. Super sweet, with chocolate, peanuts, marshmallow and maybe cherries or jelly pieces, it’s a nice mix of taste and textures.

It’s pretty easy to make, and I often fling a few ingredients together to make rocky road for friends or family.

This is the version that I make that’s “Adults Only”! It’s got lots of stuff in it that adults will like – dark chocolate and ginger for instance. But it’s still got good old marshmallow. You can’t have rocky road without marshmallow.

So here’s the recipe – or rather, the procedure, since there’ s no cooking involved, and quantities are really a matter of personal preference.

Ingredients

200g good quality dark chocolate

a handful of nuts –  macadamias, hazelnuts and almonds are really good

several pieces of crystallized ginger

a handful of glace cherries and/or any other glace fruit (pineapple and apricot are nice)

several pink and white marshmallows

and anything else you think might go well in the rocky road

50g white chocolate for decorating

Method

Line a rectangular or square baking tin with baking paper. Roughly chop the larger pieces of  glace fruit. It really doesn’t matter that much what size the pieces are, as the rocky road eventually gets broken up.  Scatter the pieces any old how over the baking paper.

Carefully melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water on the stove, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour it into the baking tin, so that it covers the “rubble” of ingredients that will make the rocky road.

Leave to set for a few hours, or stick in the fridge for a faster set or if it’s a hot day.

You can decorate the rocky road if you like. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water as you did for the dark chocolate. Drizzle over the set chocolate slab, using a skewer or the end of a knife. When the white chocolate is quite set, break up the large chocolate slab into rough pieces or cut with a knife into even or rough pieces. Great to serve with coffee or wrap up as gifts at Christmas.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Intense Strawberry Flavour

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These beautiful cupcakes are truly strawberry marvels. They have an intense strawberry flavour in both the cakes themselves and in the luscious strawberry icing. I used my usual go-to recipe for the cupcake mixture, based on Nigella‘s cupcake recipe. Adding some strawberry puree which I cooked down to a beautiful paste as well as a handful of chopped fresh berries, gives you the strawberry cake batter. A traditional buttercream icing with more reduced strawberry puree, and some optional strawberry fondant creme make these cupcakes really delicious!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

2 tbls reduced strawberry puree*

Handful of chopped fresh strawberries (about 6 will probably be enough)

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

50g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

2 tbls reduced strawberry puree*

1 tbls strawberry fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cup cake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the milk, reduced strawberry puree and chopped strawberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Carefully fold in the reduced strawberry puree and chopped strawberries.

Spoon mixture into the cases, filling the cases equally.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Ice with the strawberry buttercream icing.

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add the reduced strawberry puree and the strawberry fondant creme (if using) and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

*To make reduced strawberry puree

To make the total amount of reduced strawberry puree needed for both the cakes and icing, puree about 20 strawberries in a food processor or a blender. You will get about 1/2 cup, or 2/3 cup of puree. Put the puree in a saucepan  and heat the puree over low to medium heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by about 2/3 to 4 tbls –  about 10 minutes or so.

These quantities and instructions are rather loose – you need enough strawberries to make a decent amount of puree, then cook them down for long enough to give enough reduced puree for both the cakes and icing. It’s important to cook the puree so that it’s thick, particularly for the icing, so that the icing isn’t too runny.

Also, chill the puree before adding it to the cakes or icing.

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Eating out in Adelaide – From Freakshakes to Fine Dining

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Recently I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Adelaide, South Australia. I was attending a conference over three days, a perfect amount of time to sample some of the delights of Adelaide food. The trip fulfilled its promise: a really good conference with some great papers presented, and the opportunity to indulge in some lovely food experiences.

So what is the significance of the title of this post? Well there was fine dining, and then there was THE FREAKSHAKE. As a lover of all things sweet and creamy, this writer, having discovered this truly weird drink/food, has been keen to try one. Freakshakes, sadly most probably an ephemeral food trend, are milkshakes with all sorts of edible goodies piled on top and lots of syrup and sauce flowing over the top of the glass jar.

Somehow they are quite hard to find in Sydney, so when researching dining in Adelaide, I googled freakshakes and discovered St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream and Dessert http://st-louis.com.au/. As you can see from the photo I was not disappointed!

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I had the Peanut Butter Brownie Shake Peanut Butter Nutella milkshake, topped with a warm chocolate brownie and chocolate coated wafer balls. Drizzled with pure melted milk chocolate. My partner in culinary crime and academic adventure, the quirky Ms R, had the Salted Caramel Waffle Shake Salted Caramel milkshake, topped with warm Belgian Waffle, dulce de leche and sweet ’n salty popcorn.

But the highlights of the stay were discovering some really good restaurants, from chic to adventurous, all within a walk or an Uber drive from our city hotel. And there were a couple of great breakfast cafes, one – Stumps Bar and Kitchen, that looked like its name, ie a bar  – but which produced an amazingly beautiful plate of ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, lemon curd and cream with edible flowers… the photo at the top of the post says it all!  Here is the link: http://stumpsbar.com.au/

Press* food and wine, where we had our first dinner, is aptly named as the restaurant is situated in the old printing works of the newspaper The Adelaide Advertiser. A huge industrial space which suits the down to earth yet inventive cooking style. The restaurant specializes in offal. That option was not for us – we stuck with some great vegetarian options. A salad of ricotta balls and radicchio was fresh and pungent and a truffled mushroom & taleggio pithivier with cauliflower purée was unusual and delicious. However the Bombe Alaska with a peanut brittle and banana ice cream frozen centre was amazing…and it came to the table alight! Here is the link to the restaurant: http://pressfoodandwine.com.au/

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Next, tucked in a laneway reminiscent of Melbourne’s well known city lanes, was Peel St. The dining space is casual, with an open kitchen and bar side dining. That’s where we sat, watching the kitchen action and the prep of the beautiful dishes. The food was great, some of the best dishes we ate in Adelaide. There were two standouts.  Banana blossom chicken, chilli jam and coconut salad with peanuts and crispy shallot was an Asian inspired dish of deliciousness, with contrasting textures and intricate flavours. My photo, unfortunately, is not included as the low lighting didn’t do the dish justice. Dessert, which I did photograph, was a peanut parfait with chocolate mousse, brulee toffee banana and meringue cigars. It tasted as good as it looks! This is the Peel St link: http://www.peelst.com.au/.

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On the last night we visited Africola, a very cool eaterie with the focus on African food. As their website says “compact, simple restaurant with a western soundtrack, for African-inspired vegetables, grilled and smoked meats, flatbreads, pickles and natural wine.” We sat at the bar here too, literally a metre or so from the cooking and prep stations. We watched them cooking our flatbreads on the flame grill, which came to us with some smoky dips. A half cauliflower – cooked on the grill – came seasoned and dressed. A nice way to eat a sometimes predictable vegetable. This is the link: http://www.africola.com.au/

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Another tasty breakfast was Cafe Troppo, where sustainability, community and environment are key themes. Ms R had a traditional breakfast of seasoned scrambled eggs and gourmet bacon on local, hand-made sourdough. I was keen to try the stone-milled whole grain flour waffles, pressed to order, with Paris Creek whipped cream, bacon and thyme honey. Delicious waffles, but I’m not convinced about sweetened whipped cream with bacon… Link here: http://cafetroppoadelaide.com/

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Another nice foodie experience to mention in passing – the fabulous Adelaide Central Market – where one particular patesserie counter caught my eye with their salted caramel doughnuts. Ms R and I had to share one, of course!

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And on the third and last day of our conference, our hosts took us on a cultural tour to the Adelaide Hills, where we had lunch at Deviation Road Winery, which specializes in paellas cooked in enormous paella pans shown in the photo. Here is the link: http://www.deviationroad.com/

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My short sojurn in Adelaide was rewarded with some memorable dining experiences. It’s clearly a city with an exciting and varied food scene, relaxed vibe, and very friendly and knowledgeable service. Go visit!

 

 

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