Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rhubarb & strawberry buckle

The moment I laid my eyes on this cake in the June 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller I pulled on my raincoat and snatched my car keys to visit my local grocer in order to obtain lovely scarlet stalks of organic rhubarb and ruby strawberry morsels. Shaking droplets of rain from my hair, leaving a trail of mist in the kitchen I set about chopping and stirring and pouring and sprinkling, waiting patiently for the oven to bask the mixture in its warmth and bring it to life.
The moment I pulled it from the oven, its comforting scent enveloped me and seemed to part the clouds spilling sunlight unto my hands as I cut myself a rather generous slice, my knees buckling unto the sofa and my cheeks colouring from the first mouthful.

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 30mins.
cooking time: 1hour & 30mins.
total: 2 hours.

taste: 4/5. Moorishly good.

The tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, caramel-esque rapadura sugar, warming cinnamon and giner and toasty hazelnuts combine to make a perfect remedy for cold weather.

would I make it again: No. It was lovely but it really didn't keep well even with refrigeration.

recipe: http://gourmettraveller.com.au/rhubarb-and-strawberry-buckle.htm

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lemon verbena, chamomile & lavender creme brulee

Custard looks more liquid because of the heat from the torch moments before.

Names have been swirling around my head, projected unto closed eyelids as I try to slip into Dreamland. With the baby's impending arrival the search for possible names has scaled the Ladder of Importance. I've left no country behind nor floral or literary category unchecked as I amass a list that hopefully will yield at least one or perhaps two names that are also to my husband's liking. The biggest challenge so far has been finding names we BOTH like; I highly recommend discussing baby names early on in the relationship to save yourself the trouble caused later on if you find out that you prefer classical names like Alexander or Emily whilst your baby's father prefers the uncommon Ozimandias or Astrix...

Books are not the only place I have searched for inspiration. I have been re-watching my favourite films in case a suitable name lurks within their midst. One such film, Amelie, sadly did not bestow any names deemed suitable to my husband (even though I loved quite a few of the melodic French names) but it did stir within me a craving for one of my favourite desserts, creme-brulee.

Alas we yet to agree on names, but in the meantime, I can at least enjoy a great dessert whilst my search continues...

Lemon verbena, chamomile & lavender creme brulee
adapted from here

500 ml organic heavy cream
5 organic egg yolks
100 grams sugar
2 grams lemon verbena leaves
2 grams chamomille and lavender buds

In a small saucepan, place the cream and the herbs and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and let the herbs steep in the cream for 20minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Temper the warm cream into the yolks and whisk. Strain the custard through a fine sieve.

Place ramekins on a sheetpan. Pour custard into ramekins and bring the pan into a 300 degree oven. Once the sheetpan is on the oven rack, pour some boiling water on the pan to create a water bath. Bake the creme brulee in the 300 degree oven in a water bath for about 20-40 minutes. When lightly shaken, the center should jiggle slightly but not appear liquid.

Refrigerate the baked custards for at least 4 hours. Sprinkle some demerara sugar on top and burn with a torch or under a hot broiler.

ease: 3.5/5.
prep time: 35mins.
cooking time: 35mins plus 4 hours chilling.
total: 1hour & 10mins plus chilling.

taste: 4/5. Dainty floral-scented perfection.

The floral medley carries wonderfully upon the silken smooth custard with its toffee shards. I would have loved the floral notes to be even stronger and will efinitely increase the amount next time around.

would I make it again: Yes.

recipe: http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/2008/06/lemon-verbena-and-chamomile-creme.html

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tapioca porridge with brown sugar bananas

My bulbous belly has not only brought me sore ribs and a sleep cycle that is more akin to a wash cycle than sleep, it has also awakened in me a new found appreciation of citrus. Pre-baby bump I was not particularly impressed by the dimpled coral skin of Oranges and even less so by its less eaten cousins, Lemon and Lime. In fact, unless a recipe called for their bitter skins or mouth-puckering juices, they rarely mingled with the other fruits in my bowl. Until now.
At first it began with a slice of lemon in my water. Then my fingers found themselves tearing mandarin segments apart to nibble with my morning toast. It wasn't long before I was squeezing chartreuse droplets over my salad leaves and grating orange zest into my pancake batter. Before I knew it, I was a citrus-holic; my vitamin C levels have never been better.

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 6mins (but you need to soak the tapioca overnight).
cooking time: 10mins (I cooked bananas whilst tapioca was cooking).
total: 16mins.

taste: 4/5. Amazing melding of asian flavours.

Overall this flavour combination is complex and exciting. The porridge itself has the smooth notes of vanilla, creamy tropical coconut and the fragrant fruity kaffir lime. When paired with the sweet caramelised banana and sharp tang of lime juice it really makes a winning combination. The tapioca pearls add a nice chewiness to the dish. Whilst I loved it, hubby had one mouthful and decided it wasn't for him, blaming the coconut and texture of the tapioca. But his bowl didn't go to waste, my dad happily polished it off for him.

would I make it again: No, only because hubby won't eat it.

recipe: http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/tapioca_porridge_with_brown_sugar_bananas.htm

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Orange chocolate muffins

There are times that call for darkness; not the kind where monsters lurk or the corners of your mind where you do not tread, but the sultry darkness of chocolate. Times when the saccharine sweetness of white and the caramel child-friendly milk will not do. In those moments it is those squares of deep mahogany, all crimson robes and heady wine, that call to you. In mere seconds you find your fingers gently snapping off a shard, your tips already tinged with melted cocoa as you place it softly upon your tongue where it begins its enigmatic melody within your mouth, causing you to swoon and dream of dancing by firelight under an indigo moon.

Today, I indulged my 'dark side'.

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 18mins.
total: 28mins.

taste: 4/5. Vibrant orange and seductive dark chocolate - need I say more?

The fragrant bittersweet of the orange zest paired beautifully with the dusky bittersweetness of the chocolate, together they only amplified each other's flavours more.

would I make it again: Yes.

recipe: http://cupcakemuffin.blogspot.com/2011/05/chocolate-chunk-orange-muffins.html