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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Random Receipes

I couldn't really think of a theme or overarching idea or thing-to-link-these-together for this posting. So let's just call it "Cool Receipes I've Tried and Why They Were". (sounds like a topic for Son 1's Show and tell!). There seem to be quite a lot of curries and spicy foods; coincidence or me rebelling aganst my meat-and-three-veg upbringing??
  • Chicken Laksa: this one I tried as part of my quest  to have our regular Thai-and-movie night home made. It was great fun as I had an excuse to go and explore my freindly neighborhood asian grocery store and find things like fried Asian shallots (which made it look very authentic), kaffir lime leaves (in a jar not fresh, but better than nothing) and Thai basil. Very easy but very delcious.

  • Lamb Red Duck Curry: which taught me that curry is kind-of color coded, with green not so hot but red quite hot! But it did let me use plam sugar again (which I love using as it makes me feel very chef-like grating it up), and my mortar and pestle to pound peanuts, which makes me feel very apothecarian (if that's even a word???)

  • Sri Lankan Chicken Curry: (from 'Amanda's on the Edge' at Windsor Edge winery): this was exciting as I got to make a curry past from scratch! It's funny, as a few years ago, I had dismissed this act as crazy when a foodie mate said that he had done it himself; surely just buy it in a jar?!?!?But it was lots of fun mixing it all together, even if the end result didn't look restaurant quality (still tasted delicious!)

  • Risotto with Red Wine (from Jamie Oliver): I have always been a fan of risotto, ever since I was shown how to make it properyl (thanks Sheree!), but I always used white wine, and most memorably with chicken and pesto (mmmmm). Now I love red wine as much as the next person (especially on a Friday night on the couch with chocolate) but I was a bit wary about how it would go in a risotto. But my fears were unfounded as it was awesome; a lovely winter take on an already wintery dish. I also got to use dried porcini mushrooms for the first time, which was made even cooler by the fact that I had bought them at Salamanca market in Tasmania! Delicious!
 Other recent cooking adventures included a Yule dinner with roast turkey and a encore of the triple-cooked roast potatoes, with sticky date pudding and maple walnut ice cream for dessert (which survived an only partially frozen ice-cream maker bowl), and a tomato soup with molten bocconcini (you cooke dit int he over for a few minutes) served with garlic and parmesan bread (the garlic was roasted first so not as strong a flovour, which is great for hte kids - very yum).

And on that note, I think I will have to go and trawl my thesaurus for new words apart from Yum and Delicious. Either that or stop cooking such yummy food .....

Baked Goods....

 One of the things I love about a new recipe book or foodie magazine is creating the List of New Things To Cook; so much potential!! So much yumminess awaiting! But it is a bit tricky when the recipe are variations on ones I already have in my files. What to do??? Do you stay loyal and not even try the new version? Or give it a try, realising that you may have to part ways with a recipe that has served you faithfully for many years for the younger cooler version?? What a delicious conundrum!

 This happened to me recently after Delicious magazine ran an article about the lady behind The Maven Bakery (which is apparently a very famous in Sydney institution). There was a great selection if yummy things to bake, but there were a few "double ups".

  The first was The Maven Fudge Brownies. I have a fabulous brownie recipe that was sent in to Epicure by a reader and it has seen me through many compliment laden lunches, dinner party desserts, baby showers and "Because It's Friday!"s at work. But they were more at the 'cake' end than the "fudge' end of the brownie scale so I thought it was worth a shot. Similar ingredients and method with melting chocolate and adding ingredients to it; the new one asked that the eggs be beaten for 10 minutes, which with a hand held electric mixer was a bit of a pain (my fairy godmother hasn't procured a KitchenAid yet!). Also walnuts were the added nut whereas my favorite is macadamia. They also did the favoured step of adding coffee to a chocolate dish, which, as a coffee non-fan I am always wary of.


 They were kind of awesome.

 Very fudgy, but still cakey; dense, but not in the make-you-sick way. They received rave reviews up and down my work department (AKA The Guinea Pigs).
But where does that leave my first love? I sense a Brownie-Off in the future where we can compare them side-by-side.

  The next try-out was Double Chocolate Cookies, which wasn't strictly a double up. My first cookies recipe was for Tollhouse cookies and was from the side of the choc-bits packet. Your basic cookie recipe and quite delicious for such an inauspicious beginning. The next version was for Neiman Marcus cookies (from the famous? American chain store). A bit more fiddly, with the addition of oatmeal and grated chocolate, they were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside; the closest home made to a Mrs Fields cookie I had tasted.
So this was a chocolate dough (cocoa was added in with the flour) and white chocolate chunks through. A different technique in that you rolled up the dough into a log, chilled it and then sliced it up (rather than just spooning them onto a tray) to make very profesh looking cookies

 And they were yummy!

 So I think these two can sit side by side and co-exist quite nicely in my repertoire. I can have an Ebony and Ivory (living in perfect harmony), or a piano keys cookie combination!

  The final of the trio was Mandy's Chocolate Cake (Mandy being the Maven Bakery lady). It came with the endorsement of "This is my bulletproof cake. It's easy to make, dense and not too sweet!""

 High praise indeed.

 So my expectations were raised, especially as my Mississippi Mud Cake, is MY "bulletproof cake". So yummy and easy that is had become my standards kids birthday-cake cake, as it will stand up to a tonne of colored frosting quite well.

 Firstly, Mandy's cake was in 2 cake tins, so automatically more washing up. The two cakes didn't rise that much, so I was unable to cut them in half as requested (to make a triple layer cake) which wasn't a big drama, but a deviation none-the-less.

 Then I made the 'filling' - melt chocolate, mix in cream cheese etc etc etc

 THEN I had to make the glaze, which had an egg in it, meaning it was supposed to thicken.

 But it didn't.

 So it was very runny all over the cake and plate and bench and such. Hmmm ....

 So for me the cake itself was easy, but then you still had to make the filling. And the Glaze. And then put it all together. So that part - not so easy (well, doing nothing except putting it on a serving platter is easier!)

 It was dense - quite nice

And it was 'not too sweet', but that may have been the over 1 TABLEspoon of coffee essence! Quite coffee flavoured for a chocolate cake (not not really my thing). So although it was quite nice - the ol' faithful wins out (hooray!)

But stay tuned for the results of the "Brownie Off" ...