Recipes


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“So…start talking.”

I have never worked with yeast before. Ever since taking up my food blog stalking reading habits however, I’ve grown more and more ambitious, ever tempted by crunchy looking crusts, and tender, air-pocket strewn crumbs. And so, I tried. Using the pizza dough recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which was used by the Daring Bakers a few months ago.

Lessons learned before going into the oven:

a) No matter how good someone is at maths, make them take out a set of scales and actually *weigh* the flour.

b) Double check amount of flour in the recipe before dumping it into the bowl.

c) Even if a recipe says the dough will be sticky, it should still not be pourable. See a) for why it is pourable.

d) Trust the weather forecast. Have something that will warm the area enough for the yeast to rise on standby.

e) A table lamp is probably not adequate for anything more than interrogation.

f) Flour is your best friend, when the dough seems to be binding itself at a molecular level to anything it comes in contact with.

g) Don’t go out the day you try to make pizza for dinner, when you’ve never done it from scratch in your life.

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aka Panzanella. This lovely Italian bread salad originates from Tuscany, and is perfect for these lazy spring days that feel far too much like summer. This is just a rough version I threw together with what was in the fridge, no exact measurements I’m afraid. It’s more akin to a bruschetta mix than to a ‘traditional’ panzanella, but everyone seems to have a different recipe, so I’m not overly concerned.

Take a look at these gorgeous tomatoes. The warm weather is back, and you can taste the flavours seeping back into the watery bland tomatoes of winter. In the background, sadly wilted basil, and some bread – Ideally use a well-crusted Italian loaf, seeing as I didn’t have that on hand, ordinary vietnamese bread rolls will do.

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Chop/dice everything up! Clockwise from bottom right, tomato, tomato innards (removed so it didn’t get too watery), minced garlic and basil. Some finely chopped Spanish onion and diced cucumbers would be lovely too!

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Shred the bread (hey that rhymes) into chunks about the size of your tomato pieces. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over sparingly, and grind a little pepper and sea-salt. Toss up, and place it under the grill to golden-ify.

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It’s such a relief to put aside all thoughts of law for a year, beyond the odd debate about suing dangerous drivers on the road. And what better way to celebrate than with a day of cooking and cleaning (okay, so that wasn’t that much fun) for a family dinner? On the menu, we had some gorgeous bread from the famous Victoire Bakery in Balmain, to go with aioli, garlic butter and tzatziki (all of which I will learn to make myself one day), tortellini boscaiola, beef stew, and these lovely chocolate mousse cups. I wanted to try something new with presentation, so Tim bore with me and tried not to get too annoyed at my over-the-top bounciness.

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First, cut some circles from pre-made sponge cakes, whether homemade or store bought – we used store bought, seeing as we were low on time. Use a cutter, or use a glass and cut around it with a serrated knife nice and neatly.

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This was the fun and messy part – Measure out strips of baking paper, about 7-10 cms high, and the circumference of your cake circles, plus 1-2cm (for a handle) wide. Remember in highschool? Circumference = pi x diameter. Fold the 1-2 cm handle backwards. Melt some chocolate, and spread an even layer across the baking paper strip on the side where the extra handle isn’t folded over. Confused? Good. Lick your fingers and try again with a fresh strip 😉 Do this one strip at a time, trust me on that one.

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Pick up your lovingly coated chocolate strip, and wrap it around the cake base, so that the chocolate faces inwards and sticks to the base. Try to stand the ends up so they join together, handle side on the outside. It takes a little practice, but the chocolate won’t go to waste…(at least, you shouldn’t let it…). If any bare patches appear, patch them up with excess melted chocolate and a knife.

Let the chocolate cups set in the fridge. When completely set, carefully peel the baking paper from the outside, fill with desired level of freshly-made mousse, and refrigerate until mousse is set.

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Yum? You betcha. It’d be even better if you knew how to temper the chocolate to have a crispy exterior, but who cares? Our favoutite mousse recipe follows.

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I’ve been awful at updating regularly this semester, and I won’t have the chance to in the next couple weeks…so I suppose this is one I prepared earlier

There is a strand of cuisine that you won’t find on restaurant plates anywhere in the world. Yes, you can find caviar and foie gras, you can try gels, foams, chocolate ‘earth’ and sniff your food out of a test tube, or dive into a plate of deep-fried grasshoppers and snakeskin soup, but you won’t find this, I promise you.

I speak of course, of the food of students. In particular, uni and college students. People who don’t have the luxury of a full refrigerator or well-stocked pantry, who can’t afford to spend hours slaving over a hot stove, or simply can’t think straight due to a hangover.

(In case you were wondering, I currently fall into the second category, and not the third. =P) 

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As mentioned previously, we made cupcakes for the birthday party, 70 or so. It was the first time I’ve ever cooked on such a scale, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, mostly because the recipes made a lot of cupcakes.

Chocolate cupcakes with storebought frosting and silver cachous.

Vanilla butterfly cupcakes with raspberry jam and cream filling, dusted with icing sugar.

Vanilla cupcakes filled with strawberry jam and cream, dusted with icing sugar.

Chocolate cupcakes topped with white chocolate mousse.

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…One makes a lemon tart, of course!

Unlike many of my friends, I find that the longer holidays go on for, the higher the likelihood of my descent into insanity. I first noted this phenomenon in highschool, where I would begin dreaming about going back to school by about the second week of the break, persisting as an almost-nightly occurence until the holidays finished. I simply cannot stand being left alone, at home, with nothing to do but eat, sleep, and chat to friends online.

It has helped that I’ve become interested in cooking for myself – that typically means I’ll spend half the day looking up recipes to attempt, an hour or two cooking, and more time cleaning up (although that probably hasn’t helped my waistline…). And so, in the last few days of the uni holidays, and spurred on by the lovely citrus cremes from Adriano Zumbo, I decided to try my hand at a somewhat time-intensive lemon meringue pie.

My family does have a lemon pie recipe, lovingly copied from a TV show years ago, but I really wanted a softer, more meltingly smooth cream. I decided to try a recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Pierre Hermes (the macaron king) by Fanny at Foodbeam, but halved the recipe so that I’d only end up with one tart.

While long, the recipe isn’t difficult to follow, and the creme came together rather well. The only hitch with the making of the filling came with the blending, as I don’t have a handheld blender. If you read regularly, you would also be aware that I have…issues…with using the blender. I chose to simply strain the creme, and hoped that that would be enough, but as the evening wore on, I realised it probably wouldn’t work. So I enlisted Mum’s help and used a small blender.

At my family’s request, I made a simple whipped cream topping rather than the meringue. I don’t think that made too much of a difference, it was just sweet enough to balance the sourness of the lemon creme.

The recipe for the creme was fantastic, halved without a hitch, and was utterly lemony. It’s not quite as ‘easy’ as the tarts you just put into the oven to bake, but I’m not complaining, it has meant I’ve leveled up – I can now use a double boiler! *game music plays in the background* If you want to do a little less work, then, like me, use a pre-made tart shell. You can buy them pre-baked, or frozen and bake them yourself.

I’d like to try making the tart pastry and meringue next time, but for now, I have a gorgeous lemon creme recipe to play with… And I think next on the list will have to be lemon meringue cupcakes! =)

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When I first saw Fanny‘s picture of these gorgeous snail-like green tea and vanilla sables, I just knew I had to make something similar. I mean, it would be so perfect for my new blog…

So hurriedly, I read the recipe, nodded happily and set out to conquer a new recipe. But then, silly child that I am…I remembered that I wasn’t a huge fan of matcha. And decided to go chocolate instead. Substituted cocoa powder for the matcha powder. All good, right? Vanilla and chocolate? What could go wrong? 

And see, they are really pretty, aren’t they?

 

Then I tasted my attempt. *Insert failure noise here*.

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