Thursday, November 25, 2010

divine decadence - chocolate fondants

Chocolate fondants are one of those desserts that get everyone ooooing and aaaahhing. Everyone I know at least.

They look a little like a souffle when done well, which gives a massive wow factor, and they are very versatile in what you can serve them with. There aren't many things that don't go with a goey chocolate pudding, are there?

I think I'll be trying poached cherries in liqueur and also some orange segments in the new few weeks. But then a dollop of cream or vanilla ice cream also won't go amiss. I made these last week in the middle of the week, and although it's not something I would normally do without lots of time, it was so decadent and fun even. Melting chocolate makes everything better, even a day of crying and high fevers.

I must apologise for the photography. Although I'm not exactly the presentation queen, they did look a bit better in the flesh. These are really simple and totally worth a go. I think the only tricky thing is timing - you just need to go with your gut when you pull them out of the oven. If they still wobble a lot, they're probably not ready. Don't worry about them deflating if you have to put them back in - they aren't souffle-like and will work out just fine!

The aim is a runny chocolate sauce interior that flows out of a cakey exterior. Chocolate perfection


200g dark cooking chocolate
60g butter, chopped
2 eggs
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/3 cup brown sugar


Preheat oven to 180C and grease 4 small ramekins (125ml)

Melt chocolate over a saucepan of boiling water (double boiler). Stir until smooth and allow to cool.

Place butter, eggs, flour and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Then place in another bowl and slowly add the melted chocolate (cool) until combined.

Spoon into the four ramekins and cook for 15-20 minutes. They should be moulten in the middle, but be firm to the touch on the outside.

Leave in the ramekins for 5 minutes, then turn out of the ramekins and serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar or cocoa powder and your choice of accompaniment. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

my 5 favourite foodie things, right now

There have been a rash of these sorts of posts on blogs I love to read; Sarah Wilson, Laura Valerie's blog Life.Beauty.Laughter and also Lemon Butter's blog. I'm not too keen on picking ideas so directly, but them I'm new to blogging, and what's more they are some of the more interesting posts to read.

As this is a food-centric blog, I'll try not to get too far from the point, but obviously cook books are pretty essential too.

Book depository

My mecca. I love how simple they make it to browse and buy books. Not to mention knowing that you need to pay in AUD, and free postage. I've been buying way too many cook books - I make myself feel a little better about this by slipping in the odd children's book for my daughter.

My favourite purchase in the last little while has been Sophie Dahl's 'Miss Dahl's voluptuous delights' , and as you might expect of a multi-career gal, she has a lot to say about food, eating, being fat and being thin. The physical book smells so special too, it's printed on the most beautiful, but slightly coarse paper, and the photography takes me straight back to England.  So many recipes to try out - I'm loving her Dhal with saffron rice recipe at the moment.


Something I've been experimenting with only in the past few months. It's got a slightly nuttier flavour than either couscous or rice, but could replace either in your meals. The major benefit is that it's healthier - with higher levels of protein, and a lower GI than either couscous or rice. And it's gluten free, and although I don't have a particular problem with gluten or wheat, I've become much more conscious of how many foods contain wheat, and that our bodies can become overloaded with it when it is a 3-meal-a-day staple.

I've been eating it instead of couscous, warm, with salad leaves, mixed beans and goat's cheese. Or whatever else I have in the house to throw into a salad and give a bit of variety. It involves a bit more work than couscous (it is essential that you rinse it to get rid of the slightly toxic outer layer) and it needs to be cooked with water for about 15 minutes.

It also makes a wonderful porridge - just place half a cup of quinoa, apple (finely sliced), cinnamon and sultanas in a small pan for 15 minutes with a cup of water or milk and stir every now and again until the quinoa 'pops' open and softens. Yum, and a brekkie full of vitality.

Full cream milk
Duh, boring you'll probably all be saying.
But truly going back to the full fat stuff has really changed the way I eat.
There have been a few reasons for going to the full cream version - firstly, kids need the full quota of fat and protein that is only available in the full cream variety. My little girl has milk in porridge and cereal and loves it already. I'm looking forward to her first birthday when I'll be able to let her drink the stuff, unadulterated, instead of measuring out formula and all those hassles.

I'm also not going to be one of those mums who has 5 types of milk in the fridge - I just can't be doing with it.

I also had problems with my thyroid a few months back - I was on the hyperthyroid side a few months after giving birth. I'm back to normal now, more or less, but am keeping an eye on it, and also learning a bit more about it. Thyroid problems really can have so many knock on effects that are so undesirable - and I found about the link of thyroid problems to soy milk a few months ago. I'd drunk soy milk for a couple of years - that is a few large lattes a day, plus maybe on breakfast cereal. That's a lot of soy for your body to handle. I can't conclusively say it was a soy-related problem, but I thought it was best to drop it for now.

So I'm back to the good old-fashioned stuff. I can't tell you how creamy it makes everything it touches. um, full cream milk in tea feels so decadent and right.

Bring on summer. To me, they are the essence of Australian summer food.
I have previously eaten full crates of mangoes by myself - by mid-summer you can find these on the side of the freeway for about $15-20. At the moment they are still a bit on the pricey side, but still maybe $3 each.

The ones with that really deep, slightly pungent flavour, set my day off on the right foot. I have them with a bit of yogurt, and maybe some passion fruit or blueberries.
They also make for the best pavlovas - looking forward to that already.

Organic Bubs food

No, this isn't really for me. But I do eat a bit of them. It often goes a bit like this in our house; ' mummy try' - then I taste, then I can get my little girl to taste too. She's been a fussy drinker first, then eater, really this whole year. I think we're getting there, in that days of food refusal and the ever pleasant retching seem to have passed.

But mummy's food really wasn't smooth enough for my little girl - and I did have those aspirations of making delicious, organic and interesting food. I just wasn't worth it - and the added frustration of having made the food that is then refused was just too much. After all we all cook food to be loved for it, don't we?

Organic bubs has been a lifesaver. Great products, amazing combinations (Raspberry, apple and rosehip or Pumpkin, apricot and fig, or even Banana and apricot power porridge with quinoa!). The best part is that they have a 'lumps and bumps range' which get your child into more adult textures. I dream that one day we might even eat solid food!

What's even better is that they are local, in our postcode area in fact, in Brookvale. And now you can get them in Coles & Woolies. Thank you Organic Bubs.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

yellow kitchenaid love

Meet my new beautiful kitchenaid. Last majestic yellow one in the country, so I'm told. I just had to have her.
Think she is the new star in my kitchen, and definitely more shapely and decorative than anything else I've got.
A kitchenaid mixer has always been on my list for kitchen wants- but baking has suddenly become much much more important. When I was working for a baking products client we knew that taking up baking was mostly linked to having kids. So true. And more than ever I need to know what is going into my food. Until recently, I would happily buy baked products from a few different places in Sydney - but unfortunately I witnessed a huge delivery of cage eggs to one of these bakeries. The treats just didn't taste the same ever again.

Vanilla gets such a bad wrap, I really dislike that quote about people being described as 'very vanilla'. Bah, they are obviously talking about E numbers replacement for vanilla, as the real deal is such a sophisticated yet straightforward flavour.
I've baked four batches of vanilla cupcakes this week, with many different recipes. I can't tell you how disappointed I was when the first few either didn't rise, stayed soggy, or became balls of cooked butter. Surely this isn't supposed to happen when you have a kitchenaid as a helper?
The fourth lot turned out perfectly, thanks to a few tips from Jasmine...

The recipe is derived from the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York. I would love to go there one day, the cakes look amazing.
This makes 24 cupcakes - so feel free to halve if you aren't catering for a birthday party!

1 cup unsalted softened butter (240g)
2 cups caster sugar(400g)
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour (210g)
1 1/4 cups plain flour (175g)
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

    Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.
    Mix the butter and sugar until really smooth (no longer grainy), then add the eggs one at a time, and beat well.
    Then gradually add the flour and milk and vanilla, alternating between the wet and dry ingredients. Mix well.
    The batter will be thick but also fluffy, then spoon into the paper cases.
    Bake for 20-25 mins, or until the skewer comes out clean.
    Let the cakes cool for 10 mins then turn out on wire racks. Let them cool completely before icing.

    Cream cheese icing
    30g butter
    80g cream cheese
    1 1/2 cups of icing sugar (185g)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      Beat butter and cream cheese together then slowly add icing sugar til light and fluffy.
      Tip - make sure cream cheese and butter are not straight from the fridge.

      Another great tip for beginner bakers is - don't bother buying piping kits etc, just place the icing in a zip sandwich bag and cut off the corner. Saves a lot of washing and fuss too.