Lemon and Berry Friands

DSC_5089

I have surprised myself for even having time to write this down, after what feels like a marathon of baking! I am having a tea party for some friends from work tomorrow, and not only am I making a 3-layered unicorn cake, these delicious lemon and raspberry friands are baking away in the oven as I type. Usually after this much baking in a day, by now I would be just flopping myself down on the couch and asking my husband to help with the washing up. Not only have I done ALL the washing from my baking prep, I clearly have the energy to get going with my blog.

I actually have been planning for this weekend for a while. It helped that we had a public holiday (perks of living in footy crazy Melbourne) yesterday. I did all the shopping yesterday and it seems that I have just paced myself and got things done, one after the other.

You know how they say a professional athlete not only practices the sport physically, they also visualise how and what they are going to do? I think I managed to apply some of that here. Hence, I dragged myself to the gym this morning and did some negative chin ups (sorry, cannot help bragging about that one) and then came home, had brekky and boom, whipped out my cake batter. Then did some errands with the hubby (I did forget to buy some crucial ingredients) and got myself a delicious cup of coffee AND binge watched The Good Place on Netflix. I digress, but I absolutely loved that show! Specially the first season where you can see great character development. I was hating on Fake Eleanor at first and then started rooting for her! And two thumbs up for the diversity!

Anyhow, after some Netflix, I then got on to the friands. These gluten-free friands are a great addition to an afternoon tea. And they are so easy to whip up. I especially love them for work functions because there’s always someone who needs a gluten-free option and I can easily make it the night before if it’s a mid-week affair.

These turned out very lemony and soft. They didn’t rise as much as I hoped, and I realised my oven wasn’t hot enough for the first batch. My second batch was better, but it still didn’t rise as much, so I don’t know whether the shape of the moulds made a difference. What I do know is that they are very tasty! Perfect with a cup of tea.

DSC_5082

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 and 1/3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free flour, sifted
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 °C.
  • Place almond meal, icing sugar, baking powder, flour, egg whites, butter, lemon juice and rind, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk until combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased muffin tray (friands are traditionally made in oval shaped moulds, but I used a standard muffin tray). Top with the frozen berries (I used raspberries).
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  •  Remove form baking tin and place on wire rack to cool.

 

Advertisements

Chocolate mousse tarts

DSC_4911

Spring is here! But it is yet to feel like spring in Melbourne. Apart from the magnolia and cherry blossoms blooming, it certainly doesn’t feel like warmer weather is on the way. Mornings are cold, the winds are chilly and add to that the fear of being swooped by magpies!

I remember when I was first swooped. It was in spring 2011. I was riding a bike down a street in Broken Hill. I didn’t know what hit me when they first swooped. I just yelled out and wildly looked around to see what it was. Then I saw them, THREE magpies, sitting on a tree ahead, waiting for me to go by. Of course, I had no idea they were so crafty, so I just rode ahead and got swooped again. This was when I started to panic. They clearly had a plan. I pedaled that bike for my life, but the magpies weren’t done yet. They were just waiting there, ready to swoop. As I am writing this, I have a vision of poor Rickon. Every meme, every tweet yelled at him to run in zig zags, to avoid Ramsey’s arrow. I’m seeing how, maybe just a little, this could be applied to my situation. But I was no way skilled enough to ride my bike in zig zags. All I had was my helmet. Hence why, spring is my least favourite season, despite the promises of warmer weather and the sweet smelling golden wattles. So in the meantime, instead of venturing outside, I am comforting myself with rich desserts, cheerful dinner conversations and homemade pasta!

I have found the most perfect chocolate mousse recipe here. It’s so easy to make and I like how you just need a few basic pantry ingredients. After I had made this a couple of times, I wanted to do something else with the mousse. This reminded me of a mocha mousse I had made once, where the mousse had turned out quite dense. So I was keen to make a tart with fluffy mousse and the tart base would be the perfect crunch element against the mousse’s creaminess.

DSC_4838

I was browsing pastry recipes and found one with lemon zest in it. I was keen to try this, but felt the mousse might be too wet for pastry and might make the tart cases soggy while the mousse was setting.

DSC_4932

DSC_4916

I browsed chocolate tarts and almost 99% of them came with a biscuit base. I found one mousse tart with a pastry base, but the mousse recipe had gelatine in it so I wasn’t sure whether that made a difference. And I had a friend coming over for dinner, so I really couldn’t experiment around with different bases. So I stuck with a tried and tested biscuit base and added orange zest to it. Which worked perfectly! Tasting the orange cut through the richness of the tart!

The menu for the night was a joint effort by my husband and me. He made the sauce for the tasty salmon pasta and a pear and greens salad and I made the fresh pasta and dessert. And our friend just devoured two of the tarts without a second thought! Success!

Ingredients: 

Tart base:

  • 250g packet Choc- Ripple biscuits
  • 125gram butter, melted

Pierre Roelofs’ classic chocolate mousse

  • 170g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 80ml milk
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a pinch of salt

Candied oranges:

  • Orange slices
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Method:

  • Place the sugar and water in a pot and bring to boil, until the sugar has melted. Add the orange juice and then add the orange slices. Keep the mixture on a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. I actually left the mixture on the stove while I was making the mousse, so my oranges would’ve been simmering for over an hour.
  • Place oranges on a cooling a rack. And allow to cool completely. (about 1 hour or overnight).
  • Make the tart base. Process the biscuits in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and process until mixture has come together.
  • Press the mixture onto tart bases and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or till firm.
  • To make the mousse, melt the chocolate over boiling water, in a glass bowl. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  • Gently bring the milk to boil. Slowly add the milk to the chocolate mixture, whisking slowly. Add the egg yolk and whisk. Once the mixture has combined, leave it to cool slightly.
  • In the meantime, whisk the egg whites into firm peaks. Slowly add the sugar and whisk until the egg whites are glossy and firm.
  • Add about a third of the meringue to the chocolate mixture and whisk lightly. Then gently fold in the rest of the meringue, with a rubber spatula till it’s incorporated. Spoon the mousse into the tart tins. Chill for about an hour.

DSC_4909

 

A seasonal affair: Rhubarb, Strawberry and Thyme tarts

DSC_4519
Rhubarb, strawberry and thyme tarts

We’re now well into winter. Now having passed the winter solstice, it means the days will get longer and eventually, warmer days will be here. I keep dreaming of the gorgeous berries and stone fruits that are in season during the warmer months. But right now, I keep seeing a lot of rhubarb.

(more…)

Lemon and Rosemary cake

dsc_3161

When I started making this cake I thought I would be coming out with a delicious recipe. But despite recipe testing, due to the various trials and errors I faced, I ended up mostly writing about what not to do when baking a cake.

As my chef friend Fathun said ‘Cheffing or being a cook is about fixing disasters too, as you have learnt from Masterchef’. I had Fathun’s help throughout this cake-making process. I can say Fathun is one of the people who is most enthusiastic and supportive of my cooking adventures. She’s always excited about new ideas I have and we both have so much fun planning dinners together. We both tend to go over-board when planning these said dinners, and a simple catching up meal will almost end up with a main, sides and dessert.

(more…)

Doughnut Time

dsc_3533
Galaxy Doughnuts

I love doughnuts, but I hate frying things. So when I saw that I could make baked doughnuts with a doughnut tray I went on a hunt for one. It was actually quite hard to find it and stumbled on it completely by accident. I was shopping with a little friend E that day and the 6 year old was almost excited at the prospect of me buying it. Since E wanted to make it with me (she didn’t even want me to just make it for her, she wanted to help) I made sure to invite her to come help me decorate the doughnuts.

We decided to try and do galaxy doughnuts and they were so cool! E was very excited to help and she came up with different colour combinations. We had a lot of fun mixing colours, dunking the doughnuts into the glaze and licking the glaze off our fingers.

dsc_3525
Doughnut glaze
dsc_3529
Galaxy doughnuts mixed colours

It was an interesting experience giving E free reign to decorate. I had certain ideas about what I wanted, but E too, had ideas about what she wanted. I think she was more eager to just try new things. I had set colours I wanted to use, but E wanted to try a little bit of everything and the colours turned out great! To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about putting the chocolate sprinkles on the galaxy doughnuts. I thought E would put them on a plain white one or a single coloured one. My mind was fixed on the Instagram pictures I had seen, but E was too happy to play with the chocolate sprinkles in new ways. A learning experience from E; letting myself have fun and experiment, rather than stick to what I know.

dsc_3507

I made 7 doughnuts using this recipe.

Ingredients:
Doughnuts:
– 1 cup flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 egg
– 65 grams brown sugar
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1/4 cup plain yoghurt
– 30 gram butter
– 100 gram dark chocolate

Vanilla glaze:
– 1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2-3 tablespoon milk
– Food colouring and sprinkles to decorate

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (150 degrees in fan-forced oven). Grease a doughnut pan.
  2. Break chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with butter. Sit over a saucepan of barely simmering water, until the mixture is melted and smooth (stirring occasionally). Keep a close eye on the mixture, you don’t want the chocolate to burn!
  3. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and leave it to cool.
  4. Mix the flour, baking soda, bicarb, salt and sugar in a seperate bowl.
  5. Mix the egg into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. The mixture will seize up, but don’t worry, it’ll become nice and smooth when you keep whisking. Add the milk and yoghurt and whisk until smooth.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the chocolate mixture. Stir it until it’s just mixed. Don’t worry if the batter is thick, we want the doughnuts to be a bit doughy.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Alternatively, what I did was to put the batter in the piping bag (a makeshift one with a ziplock bag and cutting the corner) and piped it into the doughnut holes.
  8. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack. You can store these in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
  9. Make the glaze. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and whisk till smooth. Add more milk if you think the mixture is too thick. Dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze and top with sprinkles.

dsc_3546

Happy eating!

 

Market Vibes

dsc_2988

Even if the temperature is not quite summer, nothing announces the arrival of Melbourne summer to me more than the Queen Victoria Night Markets. As usual, we got there early to sip on a cold drink as we browsed the food stalls and direct people as to where we got our drinks. 

dsc_2936

My favourite was definitely the paella at El Rincon. There was a long queue, which is always a good sign. Standing in line was quite entertaining; I had lots of time to take photos of the huge paella pans and watch them being cooked. It was clear everyone was having a good time. The chefs were singing and dancing as they stirred, chopped and mixed.

As I went up to order my All-Seafood Paella, I was momentarily transported to Spain (my version of Spain, I’ve never been to Spain). All the Spanish I had learnt by watching a couple of Spanish TV shows popped into my head, and the conversation with the girl taking the order, should have gone a bit like this:

Me: Hola! One All-Seafood Paella Por favor
Girl: Si, anything else?  (In a Spanish-accent)
Me: Nada. Gracias!

It was just too busy for this skit to actually take place, so this didn’t really happen.

dsc_2957

dsc_2955

The Paella was absolutely delicious! I shared half with a friend as I wanted to eat other food, but I could’ve easily eaten the whole thing!

As much as I wanted to try new food, I had to go again to WonderBao for their new bao burgers. I had a mushroom burger with a tasty salad and sauce. I absolutely loved the soft, steamed bun. And washed it all down with some cool lemonade.

dsc_2965

dsc_2970

We had to check out the Takis Balls for dessert. We got a half-and-half of Nutella and salted caramel. We had fun sharing one whole plate between the 5 of us. I couldn’t bite these in half, so had to pop the balls whole into my mouth. Nothing graceful about this, but oh so delicious!

dsc_2984

dsc_2983

I usually only get to the Queen Victoria Night Markets just once a year, but there are so many new food delights to be discovered and a second visit will be well worth it. The markets are not only about the food and shopping, but also happy vibes.

 

Thoodles at the Night Noodle Market

dsc_2886

Getting into summer means market food time! Long days, sipping drinks in the sun and digging into delicious food with friends. If my summer social outings don’t involve some sort of food, it doesn’t feel right.

The Melbourne Night Noodle markets have been happening for a while but this was my first visit. Set right on the edge of the Yarra River, the area looks small at first, but once you get in there’s more to explore. We got in really early, just as they opened at 5pm, which meant no lines and plenty of seating. We quickly dug into the juicy Hoy Pinoy chicken skewers as we browsed around the food stalls.

dsc_2834

dsc_2835

One thing I was clear on, I definitely wanted dessert. In fact, I was more excited about the dessert options rather than the baos and dumplings. Sydney’s Black Star pastry was here with their famous Strawberry Watermelon cake which I had never had when I lived in Sydney. And I also got to try the N2 Gelato. I’ve always approached the N2 Gelato with some scepticism, assuming it was mostly the hype of the Nitrogen ice cream rather than taste. But watching them make the ice cream with goggles on, dry ice flowing everywhere and working their KitchenAid mixers was something else. I was definitely proved wrong after digging into the Gold Mugger. It was filled with crunchy gold-speckled cookie dough and some delicious brownie/cake thing. I squeezed the Nutellla ganache out of a tiny dropper and it was delicious. My husband said he didn’t want to try it when I offered, and I said ‘Good, more for me’.
Next dessert in line was the Brûlée Cart. These guys, I visit religiously whenever I see their truck parked. Their creme brûlées are so creamy and smooth. I’ve had their Salted Caramel and Ginger brûlée which is just fabulous, topped with caramel popcorn (here it was peanut butter popcorn, I think). One can never go wrong with the Brûlée Cart. Delicious!

dsc_2856

dsc_2853

dsc_2884

For savoury, I could not walk past Wonderbao’s fried chicken baos. Their mushroom steamed buns were tasty as well. It was a wonderful afternoon, nibbling on everyone’s plates, tasting fried dumplings, nasi goreng and thai fish cakes. I felt like I didn’t have as much savoury food. The desserts seemed to be the highlight, particularly because I wanted to eat dessert before the day got cold.

The biggest challenge for me was the photography. I thought since we got in early, there would be plenty of light, but the light was not at all helpful. Taking even a decent photo of a bao was challenging in the afternoon sun. The direct sunlight did not help at all and everything was over-exposed. I had to then get my friend to act as a shade, trying to get out of the sun. I did feel like a bit of a douche, taking photos so seriously with my camera and directing my friends and family around. But I love taking photos of food and I especially enjoy taking photos of market food, so after a while I just got into stride. I couldn’t stop and worry about what others were thinking of me.

Next up is the Queen Victoria Night Market. I absolutely love that! So much market fun in summer. Now Melbourne weather just needs to get itself sorted and give us some more sun.

dsc_2873