Friday, April 30, 2010

Orange Self-Saucing Pudding

When guests came over last time, I made four(!) desserts. My mum said that the two desserts I planned to make weren't enough to feed 12 people, so I had to make something else. I had oranges and... nothing else. We hadn't been shopping in the past few days, so I didn't have any special ingredients. I was in search of an easy dessert with oranges as the main ingredient. Taste came to my rescue again, with their Orange Self-Saucing Pudding.

Self-Saucing simply means is comes with its own sauce, which means you don't have to slave over the stove with a pot of simmering syrup. At first I didn't realise this but, as an added bonus - it's a microwave dish! My mum is always raving on about how the oven costs so much to use because it uses a lot of electricity, and how I turn it on and off and on and off. I was happy when I found out, because it meant I didn't have to spend much effort making it.

One thing you should note though, is that it uses a cup and a bit of orange juice, so you will need a lot of oranges. I actually ran out of oranges, so I used a mixture of orange and lemon juice for the sauce. Next time, just use shop-bought orange juice, please. If you really want to juice your own oranges, do it, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with making it easier for yourself. Every single component of this dish is made in the microwave, including the sauce. I also downed the amount of sugar, and that along with the lemon juice gave it a sweet and sour taste, which asian tastes seem to enjoy.

The recipe says caster sugar - don't bother. If you have it, use it, but if you don't, just use plain sugar! It really defeats the purpose of a self-saucing pudding if you have to drive to the shops to buy an ingredient, or blitz sugar until it's powder. If you can make something easier for yourself, do it.

The pudding was served with vanilla bean ice cream, which added another dimension of cool, creaminess. Please try this recipe, when you are 1) tired, 2) stressed, or just lazy - it really doesn't take much effort, while still tasting fantastic.


Obtained here.

Serves 4.

1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 orange, rind finely grated
60g butter, melted, at room temperature
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 egg
ice-cream, to serve


2/3 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Lightly grease an 8cm deep, 6-cup capacity, heatproof, microwave-safe dish.

2. Combine flour, sugar and orange rind in a bowl. Whisk together butter, juice and egg. Stir into flour mixture until well combined. Spoon into prepared dish. Smooth surface.

3. Make sauce: Place sugar and orange juice into a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl or jug. Cook on MEDIUM (50%) power for 3 minutes, stirring every minute, or until sugar dissolves. Cook on HIGH (100%) power for 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil. Pour hot sauce over the back of a large metal spoon to evenly cover pudding.

4. Place pudding onto a microwave-safe rack or upturned dinner plate. Cook, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50%) power for 8 to 9 minutes or until a skewer inserted around edges comes out clean but centre is still a little sticky.

5. Cover tightly with foil. Stand for 5 minutes or until centre is no longer sticky. Serve with ice-cream.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lemon Friands

Man, it's been ages since my last post. I have been busy since school started and other stuff. I have created many things since last time, but I only photographed a few, as circumstances weren't suitable for others. Because we eat desserts at night (like normal people) I rarely get the chance to shoot a slice of cake or a cross-section, due to bad lighting. But this Anzac long weekend has granted me the time to try out many new recipes. I have made Coconut Panna Cotta, Zucchini Slice, Apple Tarte Fine, Friands, Orange Self-saucing Pudding, Vanilla Bean Ice cream, Apple Tart, and Caramel Croissant pudding. It's a huge list for four days, but we had guests over for dinner so it gave me an excuse.

I received some vanilla beans a few weeks back, thanks to a good friend, and have been aching to make vanilla ice cream. Vanilla beans are the second most expensive spice, and though they look wrinkly and unappetising, they are great in desserts. The first thing I did with them was make my own vanilla essence. In Australia, vanilla essence/extract/anything is very expensive. That's why ever since I heard you could make your own vanilla essence, I wanted to. Homemade vanilla is simply split vanilla beans seeped in alcohol. Vodka is recommended, but I didn't have any so I used Cognac, a kind of brandy. And don't worry, I did not drink a drop of it (as of yet). You shake the bottle every few days to let the flavour seep out, and it is ready to used in 8 weeks. Once a quarter of the essence is used up, you simply fill with more alcohol. This is much cheaper than buying vanilla from the shops, and they make great presents for other foodies. I will be posting about the vanilla ice cream in a short while.

Now, onto friands. I have read about friands, and I knew they were little cakes made with almond meal and egg whites, quite like macarons, but are much simpler and have, obviously, a different taste and texture. Traditional friands have blueberries in them, but I did not have any, so I searched for a lemon flavoured one instead. It is another recipe obtained from Taste - man I love that website. The leftover egg whites from making ice cream convinced me to make them, plus the woman who was coming over asked me if I knew how to make friands the last time she visited.

I do not have friand moulds, so I used a muffin tray. The mixture is very easy to mix together - no whipping egg whites, no heavy machinery needed - which was great. Do not fret if the mixture is lumpy and/or thick, it is the way it is meant to be. Although I filled 3/4 full, I only got ten friands, opposed to the 12 advertised. Though that did not matter at all. The friands were not overly sweet, with just the perfect lemon flavour and aroma. Every body enjoyed them, and the light dusting of sugar helped with presentation and taste.

Friands are ridiculously easy, and are a welcomed change to cupcakes and muffins. They are not as complex as other recipes which require egg whites - you need not whip the egg whites. So try them when you have leftover egg whites.


Obtained here.

Makes 12 (or 10 in my case)

190g unsalted butter
60g plain flour
1 1/3 cups (200g) icing sugar, plus extra to dust
120g almond meal
5 egg whites
Grated zest of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Melt butter and use a little to grease a 12-hole friand pan. Dust with a little flour, shaking out excess.

2. Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl, then stir in the almond meal.
3. Place egg whites in a small bowl and lightly froth with a fork. Add to dry ingredients with melted butter and zest, stirring until completely combined.

4. Fill each friand hole two-thirds full. Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

5. Remove from the oven, leave in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Caramelised Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Remember how I made a batch of goat cheese the other day? Well by itself, it tasted bland and I didn't quite like it. It's probably the fact that I've never tasted commercial goat cheese before, or goat milk for that matter. But why would I dive head-first into cheesemaking with goat cheese? Well it was to make Caramelised Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets. I've searched online, and it seems only goat cheese goes well with caramelised onions in this recipe, so as to avoid paying more for commercial cheese, I made my own.

Cheesemaking involves heating milk to a boil and adding acid, like vinegar or lemon juice to it, to separate the curds and whey. Once separated, the mixture is poured into a colander lined with a cheesecloth (I just used a kitchen towel) and the whey is strained out. Depending on how dry you would like your cheese, you can tie the cloth up and let it drip for an hour to further extract the whey. In my opinion, goat cheese should not be overly dried.

Because I didn't know just how salty commercial cheese is, I was wary of adding salt. I add a teaspoon, tasted, added some more, tasted again. I seriously could not tell the difference. As much as I hate to say it, it really depends on your taste. I didn't add any herbs because I didn't have any on hand, but herbs would have added a nice touch.

The tartlets were okay, but the crust was too hard. I opted to make my own shortcrust pastry, but I didn't know what went wrong. It was extremely hard, and shrunk every time i rolled it out. They were placed into the fridge for 20 minutes and blind baked for 10 minutes. I made less than planned because the cases that were not in tartlet cases flattened into discs of thick pastry. I caramelised the onions, and they were delicious. Onions are my favourite vegetable when they are cooked, but I don't quite like them when they're raw. They make me cry too much. I topped each pastry case with a quinelle of caramelised onion, and a quinelle of goat cheese. They looked very cute. I brought them to a picnic with a bunch of friends, along with a batch of ham and pineapple pizza scrolls. Adults seemed to like the tartlets, but children seemed to stay away from them and took the scrolls instead.

Now that I have tried cheesemaking, I may make my cheeses from now on. With cheeses so expensive these days, people really should start making their own.


Goat Cheese

1 litre goat milk
1/8 cup lemon juice or vinegar
Salt and herbs
Candy thermometer (I had to use this because I didn't know when to take off the heat)
Cheesecloth, or a clean kitchen towel
Large bowl

1. Pour the milk into a large pot (Do not use aluminium) and heat on medium-low heat.

2. Heat milk to 180-190°F (82-87°C) and take off heat. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar into the milk and stir. Leave for 15-30 seconds to let the milk separate.

3. Place the colander over the large bowl and place the cheesecloth over the colander.

4. Carefully pour the milk into the colander and stir constantly.

5. Once most of the liquid has drained down into the bowl you can tie the corners of the cheesecloth together and attach to a stick, like a wooden spoon. Let hang over a bowl and let drip for 1-1.5 hours.

6. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and season with salt and herbs.


Caramelised Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Obtained here.

Makes about 20 tartlets.

2 tbsp olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 sheets shortcrust pastry
100g fresh goat's curd

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy-based pot. Add the onions and thyme and season with salt and pepper, cooking over medium heat and stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes.

2. The onions on the bottom should become quite dark but not burnt - when it darkens, remove from heat and allow to sit for 3 to 5 mins for the onions on top to sweat and soften those underneath.

3. Stir well, return to the heat and continue to cook for about 10 mins until the onions are completely soft and dark, golden brown, removing the pot from the heat occasionally to allow further softening. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

4. Preheat oven to 180°C.

5. Lay the pastry sheets out on the bench and cut into 5cm circles. Line buttered tartlet cases (you could also use muffin trays) with the pastry and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake blind for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.

6.Spoon equal amounts of caramelised onion and fresh goat's curd into cases and serve.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

I don't know what it's about with me and cheese. I LOVE cheesey pizza with tons of stringy mozzarella on top. I love melted cheddar on toast, with it's tangy saltiness. And I love cheesecakes. I know people 'believe' that cheesecakes should be firm and dense, and should not have excessive air mixed into the mixture. I, on the other hand, do not mind either a dense cheesecake, or a rather light and fluffy one. Light ones are actually easier to swallow (not the literal meaning) because they are not as sticky, and almost mousse-like. But while I adore this product of milk, I know that in every bite of my cheesy pizza, cheddar-topped toast and delicious cheesecake, I am swallowing countless calories. That's exactly why I don't buy  piece of cheesecake at every cake shop I pass. But when a neighbour's friend requested it, how could I refuse?

Originally, he asked for a 'Creamy Mango Cheesecake', but I thoroughly convinced him not to by stating mangoes aren't in season, just because the name says 'creamy' doesn't mean it's any more creamy than other cheesecakes, etc. So in the end he agreed to make Strawberry Cheesecake instead. Apparently, strawberries are one of his least 'hated' foods. I just hate it when someone says, 'Ugh, I hate such and such' or 'I would never eat that!' I mean, I don't like every food in the world, but at least I try everything, and if I don't like it, I don't put it down. I don't say stuff like, ' OMG, such and such is DISGUSTING!' So when my neighbour's kid said, 'Ah, lychees are one of the last few things on the list of food I like', I almost facepunched him.

Anyways, I settled on a recipe from Allrecipes for Strawberry Cheesecake. It looked very appealing, but after reading some reviews I modified it a bit. I reduced the amount of cream cheese to 2 packages, baked it in a waterbath, and since there wasn't any fresh or frozen strawberries at the shops, I used canned strawberries instead. The base and the sauce came together wonderfully, but I have no idea why all my cheesecake mixtures turn out lumpy. I have a theory that my mixer doesn't scrape the edges of the bowl, leaving a layer of cream cheese, and when I scrape that down and start mixing again, it doesn't break down that much. Although none of my cheesecakes seem to have suffered from that which is great.

The strawberry sauce makes leftovers which is made into a deliciously fruity sauce. You really need that sauce to add flavour to the cheesecake, as the strawberriness seems to disappear from the swirls after you bake it. It was actually fairly light, which I prefer, and not a crack in sight, due to the waterbath.

Yesterday, I plunged myself into cheesemaking and made a small batch of goat cheese! I'll be using it in a recipe in a few days, I'll post how it goes.


Modified from Allrecipes (Original recipe here)

Serves 12

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
400g can strawberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 (8 ounce/250g) packages cream cheese, softened
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 eggs
1 tablespoon water

1.Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 9-in. springform pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C. Boil a pot of water for the water bath.

3. In a blender or food processor, combine strawberries and cornstarch; cover and process until smooth.

4. Pour into a saucepan; bring to a boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes. Set aside 1/3 cup strawberry sauce; cool. Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce for serving.

5. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in milk. Add lemon juice; mix well.

6. Add eggs, beat on low just until combined. Pour half of the cream cheese mixture over crust.

7. Drop half of the reserved strawberry mixture by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto cream cheese layer. Carefully spoon remaining cream cheese mixture over sauce. Drop remaining strawberry sauce by 1/2 teaspoonfuls on top. With a knife, cut through top layer only to swirl strawberry sauce.

8. Wrap the bottom of the springform pan with at least 2 layers of aluminium foil. Place pan onto a roasting tray and place in the oven. Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

9. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

10. Remove side of pan. Thin chilled strawberry sauce with water if desired; serve with cheesecake.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mango Mousse

After making Apple Tarte Tatins, I had a rather large batch of wipped cream used to decorate, left over. I thought about making parfaits, mousses and even just eating it right there and then. I trashed the last idea pretty quickly. I looked in the fridge for inspiration, but it struck when I saw a few mangos sitting on the bench. My mind whirled with ideas as I searched for mango mousse recipes.

I found the easiest recipe I could because I was tired and didn't want to make anything overly complicated. It says to use gelatin, but I've never used that in a mousse recipe before. First time for everything! I had to halve the recipe because I remember I whipped 300ml of cream. In Australia, we get 300ml and 600ml bottles of thickened cream... What's up with that? They think that giving us a cup of cream isn't enough, so they give us and extra 50ml? It's rather retarded, the Australian food industry, but not nearly as retarded as the Americans. Watch Food, inc., you'll know what I'm on about.

Anyways, I forgot that I had added 2 tablespoons of sugar into the cream before, so it was a bit too sweet, but only a bit. The mousse mixture turned out quite well, but I had to refrigerate it because it wasn't firm enough for me to pipe. I originally intended on wide straight bowls, but realised there would be too much mousse, and by nozzle wasn't big enough. I settle on small shot glasses, which make them look very sophisticated. I adorned the top with mango cubes and mango slices. They are all very cute.


Obtained here

Serves 6

500 g mango slices
1 tablespoon gelatin
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
2½ cups cream

1. Peel mangoes, cut flesh away from stone and reserve a few slices for decoration. Mash remaining mangoes to a puree.

2. Sprinkle gelatin over water, dissolve over low heat.

3. Add to mango puree with lemon juice and sugar.

4. Whip cream to stiff peaks, fold into mango mixture.

5. Spoon into individual serving dishes or large serving dish, refrigerate until set.

6. Decorate with reserved mango slices and, if desired, toasted almond flakes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Apple Tarte Tatin

The good thing about the school holidays is that it gives me time and an excuse to make more food. I don't have to worry about school the next morning or an assignment I have to complete. I am feeling so happy right now because I am creating something every day. First it was Hot Cross Buns, then the Lemon and Orange Tart, and now it's Apple Tarte Tatin.

This recipe is from 'Ultimate Cake' by Barbara Maher. I decided on it because it was easy to throw together and my neighbour had some apples that I could use up (Yeah, she's very nice). I made a large Tarte and several small ones, but the big one was consumed (by 10 people) before I could shoot it.

The pastry (pâte brisée, which means shortcrust pastry) came together pretty well, but it all started to get a bit wonky when we moved on to the caramel. It says to put 90 grams of butter and 100 grams of granulated sugar into a saucepan and heat until golden brown. I used caster sugar the first time round, thinking it wouldn't make a difference. I also stirred like crazy in the beginning, which was another mistake. My head started spinning as the sugar clumped together under the layer of melted butter and bubbled like crazy. I don't have words to describe it. It was quite disheartening and rather unsightly.

Another try, with granulated sugar, and we were off to a good start, until I realised you shouldn't stir. So as the sugar edged towards the same fate, I cranked up the heat and told my neighbour not to stir. Both of us watched the pot of bubbling sugar and butter in earnest, hoping it would work. After about 5 minutes, I decided to move the pan to a bigger flame. It bubbled more fiercely and colour started creeping in. For a second we were rejoicing, but then the sugar started burning. We quickly moved it back to the small flame and dropped in the apples. They cook in the 'caramel' for 10 minutes and are then moved away. In the end, we ended up with what looked like caramel but I'm not sure that it actually was.
The rest of the procedure worked quite well. Preheated the oven without exploding, greased the tin without droppinng it, placed the apples into the pan without breaking. The only problem was that I rolled out the pastry too much. It was too thin so once I inverted it, the base broke into a few large pieces. That wasn't a problem though, as it was gobbled up well within 5 minutes. The individual ones weren't so bad either, but I only baked them for half the time.
I hope everybody enjoyed their Easter as I certainly did. Now it's time for me to relax as it's the school holidays.


Obtained from 'Ultimate Cake' by Barbara Maher

For the pastry

1 quantity pâte brisée

For the topping

1.5kg small dessert apples
90gr butter
100g granulated sugar

Cake Tin: 24cm moule à manquer tin or heavy-based, shallow, round cake tin

1. Allow the pastry to come back to room temperature. Remove the cores from the apples with an apple corer. Peel and cut them in half.

2. For the topping, put the butter and sugar into a large saucepan or deep fryer pan. Heat gently until melted. Cook, stirring now and then, until the mixture starts to caramelize and turn golden brown.

3. Take the pan off the heat and add the apple halves. Gently turn them over in the mixture until well coated, return to a high heat and cook, stirring gently now and then, for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened even more and the apples are golden brown.

4. Pack the apples tightly into the bottom of the tin, rounded-side down. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a circle slightly larger than the top of the tin. Lift carefully on to the apples and tuck the edges down well around the fruit.

5. Bake in the preheated oven (220°C) for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for 5 minutes so that the juices have time to set slightly; but do not leave longer or the caramel sauce and the apples will stick to the base of the tin and not to the tart.

7. Run a round-bladed knife around the edge of the pastry and carefully turn out the tart on to a plate. Leave to cool slightly. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Pâte Brisée (Shortcrust Pastry)

180g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
100g chilled butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons iced water

1. Sift the flour once more, together with the salt, into a large mixing bowl or on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre.

2. Cut the chilled butter into pieces and add to the flour. Lightly rub the butter and the flour together with the tips of your fingers, lifting the mixture and letting it fall back down, until you have a fine, crumb-like mixture.

3. Add the caster sugar to the bowl and stir in with a fork, making sure it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

4. Mix the egg yolk with the water until well blended. Drizzle over the mixture while stirring continuously with a small, round-bladed knife.

5. Work swiftly yet lightly, continue to stir everything together until the mixture starts to stick together in little lumps.

6. Gently bring the small lumps of pastry together using the heel of the hand until they form a rough ball. The quicker you do this the better.

7. Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lemon and Orange Tart

Happy Easter! Bring on the eggs, the bunnies and the chocolates!

I was originally planning on posting about the hot cross buns I made. Unfortunately, due to my camera's bad (sucky) viewfinder, I was unable to take a good, clear, shot. I've got a Fujifilm S5000, and it is 3 megapixels! 3!!! Currently, I'm saving up for a Nikon D90. Much better image quality and overallness.

So instead, I'm posting about a tart I made yesterday. I made it with my neighbour's kid, who was visiting from Queensland. Apparently, he likes cooking too, but he doesn't have much experience... Quote: 'It says 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, so I think it means just 2 eggs, because there are yolks in the eggs...'

I know. But we worked together and created a beautiful Lemon and Orange Tart, taken from 'Heavenly Desserts' by Linda Fraser. It was delightfully tart and sweet at the same time.

It was the first time I made and actual full-sized tart. I've made tartlets before, but this was a completely different story. The pastry was very hard to work with, and was crumbling on us. Plus, when I took the shell out of the oven, I got this massive burn. It looks like I got stung by a jellyfish or something. But the filling was delicious. We made our own Lemon Curd and folded that into some whipped cream. I didn't whip the cream enough, I think. I whipped it to medium peaks when I should have to stiff peaks. This caused the filling to not hold it's shape that well. It still tasted darn good. It is adorned with a crown of orange slices, which added sweetness and colour. All-in-all, it was a success. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Yes, that is a Wii controller in the background. We were playing Wii!


Obtained from 'Heavenly Desserts' by Linda Fraser

Serves 8-10

115g plain flour, sifted

115g wholemeal flour
25g ground hazelnuts
25g icing sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
115g sweet butter
60ml lemon curd
300g whipped cream or fromage frais
4 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1. Place the flours, hazelnuts, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 30-45ml cold water and process until the dough comes together.

2. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Roll it and line a 25cm flat tin. Be sure not to stretch the pastry and gently ease it into the corners. Chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

3. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or bread crusts. Bake blind for 15 minutes, remove the paper and continue for a further 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is crisp. Allow to cool.

4. Whisk the lemon curd into the cream or fromage frais and spread over the base of the pastry. Arrange the orange slices on top and serve at room temperature.