If you are going to be in Melbourne in March 2012 I seriously recommend you book into an event at the Food & Wine Festival. There are going to be some seriously impressive chefs, cooks and wine makers in town! Tickets for some events (hands on masterclasses, idea sessions etc) are already available with the rest of the program to be announced in December – plenty more oppportunities to eat some of the best food in the world! I’ve booked myself into sessions with Christine Manfield, Greg Malouf, David Chang and Massimo Bottura and I have to admit I’m already getting excited….
Inspiration for a spot of baking came easy today. I woke up and saw the two cookbooks at the top of the pile next to my bed (yes I read cookbooks like novels) – Adrian Richardson’s The Good Life and Doherty Fraser’s Superjam Cookbook. My mind started ticking – maybe a jam tart? A quick flick through Superjam revealed the winning recipe… even simpler than a tart… Linzer slice!
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I’ve realised it’s October and the year has flown by. It has been one of the hardest years of my life due to a number of personal reasons but I am finally starting to feel better. Not sure how obvious it has been to others – my partner has felt some of it, my family may have noticed glimpses, but to most it has probably gone unnoticed. My happiness has started to pick up again and the good is finally outweighing the bad again. Thank goodness for that.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I think that the last weekend has been the biggest turning point for me. I started off feeling stressed but ended up having the most amazing time with S. We headed off to Inverloch for a few days of camping and relaxation by the beach. By sunrise on the first day I could feel a change coming over me.
Between visits to farmer’s markets, bakeries (amazing apple/rhubarb cobbler cake), a winery and an antique store I started to feel whole again. Being able to relax at the end of a day filled with laughter and happiness with good food cooked by my lovely boyfriend (amazing chocolate pancakes) just topped it all of for me. One of the best weekends ever.
Here are some of the things I am enjoying this morning for the start of the weekend…
A warming bowl of porridge with honey and milk
Beautiful Australian wildflowers that my dad bought for my mum
A big stack of new cookbooks to work my way through
What are you enjoying this weekend?
This weekend I discovered a new way of eating chocolate fondue. Fondue has always bothered me – I adore the taste and texture of melted chocolate but it is frustrating to find a way to keep the chocolate melted. I find eating melted chocolate over a candle flame too complicated (the bottom always burns) and the alternative of melting chocolate in a double boiler to then pour into a bowl is unthinkable.
I was in the Essential Ingredient at the Prahran market when I spied gorgeous stoneware cups with colourful French writing. I was sold, especially when I read the label and discovered that the cups contained chocolate ready to be used as fondue and the claims actually seemed believable. You simply place the pot in a bain marie for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and when the chocolate has melted you simply put the cup on the bench and start dipping! There are also microwave directions but in my opinion the microwave is the perfect way to destroy good chocolate.
The stone stays nice and warm which means the chocolate stays melted for ages – I got sick of eating it before it came anywhere near close to cooling down. The remaining chocolate resolidifies so that you can store it in the cupboard until you feel like melting it another day, although I’m pretty sure I won’t be waiting very long to use the rest of it. This weekend I tried the dark chocolate with sea salt flakes but I also bought the milk chocolate to try another time. The cups can be used again and again with new chocolate supplies making them seriously good value.
Easy, tasty and beautiful chocolate fondue. Trust the French to perfect it!
Image source: Aux Anysetiers du Roy
So you’re probably sick of reading about my love of Sophie Dahl’s cooking (I’ve already made her granola and orange yoghurt polenta cake this week) but please bear with me while I show you these photos of her kitchen. Okay, so it’s not Sophie’s actual kitchen (it’s actually part of a mega British mansion) but it is used as her kitchen on the television show The Delicious Miss Dahl that goes with her cookbook Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights.
I love the exposed timber, huge expanses of white and the thought that it looks like a well used part of the home. The enamel pots and pans, milk glass cake stand and little collections of herbs and flowers are really grabbing my attention! I would love to be able to cook in this kitchen as it has easy access to lots of cookware and heaps of bench space in easy reach (plus who could forget the Aga) but for now I’ll have to immerse myself in the recipes instead.
Images: BBC2 and LivingEtc
I bought a copy of Bill Granger’s new book Bill’s Basics a couple of weeks ago. It is full to the brim of Bill’s 100 favourite recipes covering everything from chocolate chip cookies and baked lemon cheesecake to thai beef salad and french onion soup. As Bill is such a breakfast champion I decided to make something from the breakfast section first. There were so many great sounding choices but I was intrigued by the recipe for homemade english muffins – and that’s what I woke up bright and early this morning to make!
It is really easy to make your own english muffins and they taste infinitely better than the ones you can purchase at the supermarket. And I finally learnt what gives them that strangely appealing dusty feel (polenta). Want to make them yourself? Here’s how…
(recipe adapted from Bill Granger’s book Bill’s Basics)
- 2 tsp instant yeast (equivalent to a 7g sachet)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 4 C (600g) plain flour
- 1 1/4 C (300mL) warm water
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- polenta for dusting
Combine the yeast, baking soda, water and half the flour. Leave for at least five minutes. In the meantime beat the eggs until they form stiff peaks. Fold the eggs into the dough.
Slowly add the salt and the remaining flour into the mixing bowl. When the dough thickens, tip out onto your bench and start kneading. Knead until the dough becomes smooth, this will take about ten minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling wrap. Leave it in a warmish area until it doubles in size, this will take about an hour.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 2 cm and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Dust the surface of a baking tray with some of the polenta. Use a circular pastry cutter (I used a 6 cm cutter to make mini muffins but feel free to use a bigger one) to cut out pastry circles. Re-roll any remaining dough to make extra muffins. Place them on the tray and dust with some extra polenta. Cover with cling wrap and leave for 45 minutes for the dough to continue proving.
Put a large frypan over medium heat and drizzle with a little oil. Cook the muffins in batches, they will only take a couple of minutes each side. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before eating. It will be really easy to pull the muffins apart with your fingers, but if you can’t use a fork. It’s better than using a knife as you don’t destroy all the little chewy nooks and crannies!
While cooking the muffins I quickly whipped up some scrambled eggs on S’s request. So delicious, and totally worth waiting for all the muffins to rise!