23 April 2011

Roast Pork for Easter

Being a good Catholic is not high on my family's priority list. We tend to use this weekend as an opportunity to get together and have something different for dinner.

Tonight's adventure is roast pork.

We're not normally a pork family as my dad isn't a fan but, for some reason he suggested it the other night. So the menu tonight is roasted pork with an apple mustard sauce, twice baked potatoes and veg.

Fig and Blueberry Hot Cross Buns

I had the urge to do some serious baking yesterday and I wanted fruit toast for this morning's breakfast. After searching through the latest editions of my food magazines I settled on one for fruit bread but I didn't like their bread component. I have not had the best luck with different bread recipes lately so I went to a tried and fabulous favourite of mine, Ree's cinnamon bread. Once you've mastered a basic white bread so many other delicious things can be made from it like hot cross buns.

The reason I've make my buns using figs and blueberries is because that's all we had in the house.


250g mixed dried fruit (I used dried blueberries and figs)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
2 packets yeast
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs


Chop the fruit so it is all the same size. I chopped my figs to the size of the blueberries. Soak in the orange juice and leave for 30 or so minutes. The fruit needs to have absorbed most of the liquid and be nice and soft. Drain off the liquid and set the fruit aside.

In a saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted. Do not let it boil. When the butter has melted, turn the heat off and let it cool until skin hot. Too hot or too cold and your yeast won't work! When it's cool enough to stick your finger in sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 10 minutes. This will activate the yeast.

In a separate bowl mix together then flour, salt and spices. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar together in another bowl until combined. Add the milk and yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Add in half the flour and mix until the flour is incorporated. At this point it is best to switch to a wooden spoon if you haven't already.
Beat in the remaining flour and stir until a soft dough has formed.

Tip dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is a ball. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and spread the fruit down one edge. Fold up the dough around the fruit and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed and the dough itself is elastic. I found that at this point the blueberries were popping out of the dough.

Stick the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. I partly fill a sink with tap hot water and stick the bowl in there covered with a bread board and tea towel.

Knock the dough down and divide into 12 even pieces. Roll each into balls and slash the top in a cross. Place on a tray and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.

Mix together enough flour and water to form a paste and pipe crosses on each bun.

Pop them into a preheated 180-200C oven for 20-30 minutes until the bottoms are sound hollow when tapped.

If you like the tops sticky then whilst they are still warm brush the tops with water that has had 2 tsp of sugar dissolved in it.

27 March 2011

Daring Bakers rising to the occassion

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

This month I got to play with yeast, egg whites, chocolate and cardamom. All things I love to eat and work with. My eaters this month were Monucs and the Vic. Chorale. Joint concerts mean joint rehearsals which means that snacks are required. I'm also planning on taking a batch of cheesecake brownies.

Below is the recipe I used. I noticed on the first one that I had spread the filling too close to the edge and it leaked out when rolling. Yum! The second one I didn't fill as close to the edge and it rolled up much cleaner. You can see the difference in the pictures below. The top one has the cleaner roll.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
1⁄4 cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar 
3⁄4 teaspoon (5 g / 1⁄4 oz.) salt 
1 package (2 1⁄4 teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
1 tsp ground cardamom
3⁄4 cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
1⁄4 cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature) 
1⁄2 cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature 
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla 
1⁄2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped walnuts 
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar 
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1⁄2 cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. 
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. 

Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 1⁄2 cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the 1⁄2 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes: Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 1⁄2 cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 1⁄2 cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

14 March 2011

Peekaboo I see you

Any guess what lies under the tea towels?

07 March 2011

Beef Wellington

When I made this last year you could smell it halfway round the building. As my old job required working shifts, I liked to get creative in what I ate. Reheated pasta only goes so far with me. So when the new season of Masterchef started I was ecstatic. New recipes to try. New takes on old recipes. 

One of the challenges when they were going from the top 50 to the top 20 was beef wellington. Having always wanted to make it but never getting up the guts to actually do it, I put my Daring Cook hat on and decided to give it a try. This was actually a challenge for the Daring Cooks over a year ago but I never got around to making it.... This recipe is taken from the Masterchef Australia website.

Here we go!


2 cups (300g) plain flour 
2 eggs 
2½ cups (625ml) milk 
1 tablespoon melted butter 
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
50g butter, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g small beef bones 
2 eschallots, thinly sliced
6 black peppercorns
4 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic, bruised
1 bay leaf
80ml port
200ml red wine
500ml veal stock
80ml veal glace
40g chopped butter

Mushroom filling
80g dried porcini mushrooms 
2 tlbs (40ml) olive oil
30g butter, chopped
2 eschallots, finely chopped
200g swiss brown mushrooms, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Beef Fillet
500g beef fillet 
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large sheet puff pastry approx (30 X 32cm)
Eggwash: 3 egg yolks mixed with a pinch of salt
4-5 slices Iberico Ham

For the crepes, sift flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs and a quarter of the milk. Whisk vigorously from the middle incorporating the flour, add a little more milk and continue to whisk to form a smooth thick batter, whisk in the remaining milk and melted butter to form a loose smooth batter the consistency of thick cream.  Set aside to rest for 15 minutes. Stir in herbs.

Heat a little chopped butter in a large non-stick frying pan, Ladle some of the crepe batter into the pan and quickly swirl around to cover the base to make a crepe about 25cm in diameter. Cook until the crepe is a slight golden brown, turn over and cook until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat using the remaining mixture. You must have at least 4 crepes.

Meanwhile, start the sauce. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place a non stick roasting pan onto the stove top over a moderate heat, add oil and the beef bones, colour evenly, place into the oven for 20 minutes until caramelized and golden. Remove from the oven and tip the bones into a colander to drain away excess fat.

For the mushroom filling. Place dried mushrooms in a bowl and add just enough boiling water to cover, stand 15 minutes, drain. Rinse under running water to remove grit. 
Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add eschallots, fresh mushrooms and garlic, cook until soft and golden. Stir in re-hydrated mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Tip the mushrooms into a colander allow to cool to room temperature. Process mushroom mixture, parsley, tarragon and mustard in a food processor until finely chopped but not a paste.

For the beef fillet. Season the beef fillet with salt and pepper. Heat a lightly greased large frying pan, add beef and cook until all sides are well browned. Set aside to cool. Brush with the Dijon mustard.

To assemble the Beef Wellington. Preheat oven to 200C.
Place a 40cm length of baking paper on bench top. Lay the Iberico ham slices slightly overlapping onto paper. Place an even layer of mushroom mixture over the ham slices, then place the beef fillet on top. Roll over to encase the beef tightly. Square off two sides of each crepe. Lay crepes, slightly overlapping on bench top, top with beef roll and roll to encase tightly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Rest in the freezer for 10 minutes, making sure it is cool and firm making it easier to handle. Remove plastic wrap from beef roll, place beef roll in the centre of the pastry sheet. Cut four small corners out of the pastry so it creates a large thick cross shape, ensuring it is long enough on all sides to enclose the fillet completely. Carefully lift side flaps of pastry up over the beef roll so they just overlap, trimming as necessary. Seal with egg wash. Carefully lift remaining pastry flaps, so they just overlap, trimming as necessary. Seal with egg wash. Place on a baking paper-lined non stick roasting tray, making sure that the seam is at the bottom. With extra pastry, cut a 6cm disc and place in center of beef roll. Cut a 1cm whole in top of pastry for air.. Egg wash the top and sides evenly removing excess egg wash with the pastry brush, place in freezer for 10 minutes to cool the pastry. Repeat eggwash and freezer process. Bake for about 35 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the fillet inside. It should be around 46-52C or just warm to the top lip for a perfect medium rare. Allow the beef wellington to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile finish the sauce. Place the drained bones into a large saucepan add the sliced eschallots, peppercorns, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and season with salt. Cook, stirring until eschallots are golden. Add the port and red wine and reduce by two thirds. Add the veal stock and glace. Bring to the boil and skim away any scum or impurities that rise to the surface. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until reduced to a sauce consistency; season to taste. Strain the sauce through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean saucepan to remove any sediment. The sauce should be viscous enough to sit on the plate well without being too runny but not too thick to be sticky, you may need to reduce it further after straining. Then slowly whisk in enough small cubes of butter to add shine.

To serve, carve beef wellington and serve with the sauce.

27 February 2011

Wibbly with just enough wobble to not fall over

Not only have I completed a challenge but I've also remember to post it! Go me :D

This month was panna cotta and florentines. It was divine and all things nommy. I didn't use the florentine recipe provided as proper Aussie florentines involve cornflakes, nuts and glace cherries. The panna cotta made it all the way to Birchip in my tupperware snack cups. The perfect size! So here we go.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk *I used skim
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat) *2 cups full cream 1 cup light cream
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey * replaced with sugar and 2 decent tsps of vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
  1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
  3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes. *I used the cup of light cream and a cup of full cream here. The remaining cup I whipped to soft-stiff peaks.
  4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. *Fold through the whipped cream Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

The florentine recipe came from taste.com.au

  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 100g slivered almonds
  • 100g chopped glace cherries
  • 2 tbs mixed peel
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 250g good-quality dark chocolate



  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Combine the sultanas, cornflakes, almonds, glace cherries, mixed peel and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl. Place spoonfuls of the mixture on baking trays, leaving enough room between each for biscuits to spread. Bake for 10 minutes until light golden brown, then set aside on a wire rack to cool.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly then spread over the underside of the florentines. Use a fork to make wiggly lines in the chocolate, then place, chocolate-side up, on a wire rack until set.
I served mine with fresh mango puree

26 February 2011

Watch this space.

I'm still here. Honours is over and I start my new course on Monday.

Monday will also involve new posts. I have a few Daring Kitchen posts lurking around as well as other things.

Oh yeah, my new course is education. I'm going to be a secondary school teacher. Maths and Physics!!! Yes, I turned down patisserie but only because I couldn't afford it.

24 January 2011

The great brownie challenge

Today's thesis distraction is a brownie challenge. Which is better cocoa or chocolate?

Cocoa batch is in the oven now. It split. I'm hoping that baking can save it otherwise I'm off to the shop for more cocoa.