I was inspired to make these by a Canberra food blogger ‘Tales of a Confectionist’ after I saw her image of fairy bread macarons! So retro! My childhood memories were more of the explosive kind than fairies (my misspent youth growing up in the country). Besides, I had some popping candy I was keen to use. I recommend buying specialty coated popping candy for macaron fillings, as it lasts heaps longer and doesn’t need to be chocolate coated first. I often have macaron fail by adding toppings to macarons before I bake them – this way you make a sugar syrup and brush the 100s and 1000s on afterwards – why didn’t I think of this sooner? The innards are a buttercream filling with smashed fruit tingles and popping candy. Be warned – these are explosively sweet and tangy. Continue reading
Whenever I go to a new Indian restaurant I always try the tandoori chicken, garlic naan and saag paneer (or palak paneer). These are my benchmarking dishes and I am not ashamed to say my taste for Indian food is not much more complicated than these dishes. If I was stuck on a desert island (apart from feeling like I was in paradise) I’d be pretty OK if these dishes were all I had to eat.
Paneer is a simple cheese, made by heating milk with lemon and separating the curds from the whey. It’s also pretty easy to get in supermarkets these days, though I find store-bought can be a bit hard and the texture a little chewy. Technically this dish made with spinach is palak paneer, as saag can mean spinach or any other ‘greens’, such as mustard leaf.
This is a fantastically easy meal to make quickly, is super tasty and freezes pretty well too. Pity it’s a difficult meal to make look pretty in a photo! Continue reading
I’ve recently discovered quinoa and even more recently discovered red quinoa. I’m sure everyone has heard of the health benefits of quinoa TO DEATH, but it’s also quite yummy. I love its slightly nutty flavour and it makes my boring lunch salad more interesting. It’s also very nutritious and high in fibre. On a sadder note, I have read that its rising popularity has increased its value as a crop so much that it is now no longer affordable as a staple to those who grow it and most rely on it for their nutrition. I hope that the crop can expand in a sustainable and ethical way so that everyone can enjoy and benefit from it.
Quinoa is quite expensive, but a little goes a long way and this wonderful bread is a great way to enjoy it (OK, maybe not for the gluten intolerant!). I love the addition of walnuts and honey and the mustard gives it a slightly complex edge. This bread is a meal in itself, but works wonderfully with poached eggs for breakfast and even with just jam. I use a breadmaker to mix and prove the dough, because I’m crap at kneading bread.
Question. What can you do on a weeknight for dinner with left over goat’s cheese, a leek, a rapidly ripening pear and some dairy odds and ends from the weekend? How about making a light tasty tart? For this, I used store-bought frozen pastry (as this was a weeknight meal not a lazy Sunday afternoon!). So to jazz this up a bit, I rolled crushed walnuts into the pastry case (for extra flavour and texture) and added some fresh breadcrumbs drizzled with olive oil before baking. This tart is perfect for a mid-week light supper or as a starter. It’s lovely and light with the sharpness of the goat’s cheese offset by the sweetness of the pear. Another use for left-over goat’s cheese is this fabulous little snack. Did I mention bacon? Bacon makes everything better.
Goat’s cheese tart with leek, pear and bacon
Makes: 4 mini tarts
- 1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry
- 25 g walnuts, toasted then crushed
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced
- 2 rashers middle bacon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 75 g single (35% fat) pouring cream
- 50 g cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons white vermouth (or dry white wine)
- Few sprigs of fresh sage and a handful of chopped fresh chives
- Salt and ground white pepper
- 100 g goat’s cheese
- 1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
- Defrost pastry on bench then scatter the crushed toasted walnuts over the pastry, fold in half and in half again (to make a square), then roll out to the same thickness as you started with.
- Line four mini (8 cm) loose bottom tart tins with pastry and blind bake by covering each pastry case with baking paper and filling with dried rice or pie weights, then baking for 10 minutes before removing the paper and baking a further 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and turn oven up to 200°C (180°C fan forced) while making the filling.
- In a wide pan, sauté the leek and bacon with the butter over a medium heat until soft (but not browned). Add the flour and stir over a medium heat for a minute until the flour is cooked.
- Add the cream, cream cheese, vermouth and fresh herbs and cook for a minute or two over a medium heat until sauce is thickened.
- Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Crumble over the goat’s cheese and gently fold through with the sliced pear.
- Spoon filling into individual mini tart cases and cover each with breadcrumbs and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Bake tarts in the middle of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is crisp and browned.
- Allow to cool for five to ten minutes before removing from pie cases and serving.
My son had this idea for this spectacular dessert. He wanted a fresh berry cheesecake and I thought white and dark chocolate layers combined with different berries. This dessert was inspired by his triple layer icecream cake.
White chocolate cheesecake formed the bottom layer over a ginger-tinted biscuit base and I started thinking it might work to have a milk chocolate mousse over the top. In the end I decided on a bavarois because well, it sounded fancy and I wanted to try it, and it is supposed to result in a creamier and airier texture. You may well ask what a bavarois is? Well it is Bavarian cream….. basically a crème anglaise with gelatine and whipped cream folded through. Light and airy and very creamy. For the fruits I used raspberries in the white chocolate (as it’s a great pairing) and blueberry with the milk chocolate – frozen because they behave better. Fresh strawberries on top to really bring out the colour. You could use dark chocolate for the top layer (my son prefers milk chocolate) and you could top it with fresh whipped cream, but honestly, I don’t think it needs it. Continue reading