Saturday, 20 December 2014

Chocolate Eclair's

I remember as a kid drooling over the chocolate éclair's in the bakery windows.  You would buy one and you got one of two things.  If it was just your mass produce it type bakery you got mock cream YUCK! if it was a real bakery they had either real cream or crème patisserie or if you were really lucky you got both!

Then I had an éclair in France when I was 17 and wow I have never looked back!  And I have not found a bakery in Australia that can compare to true French pastries.  I have this wonderful facebook page that I visit on a daily basis to see wonderful photos of France and they regularly have photos of the Patisserie windows full of their glorious wares.  Yes I do drool over them.

I had a little drama unfold in our house whilst making the Choux for the éclair's, we got a new kitten the same day and well it has been cat drama central since.  My first batch I took my eye off for less than 5 minutes and it went runny, so make sure that you have a drama free house while making the Choux at least.

This is Smudge, the cause of cat drama central.  She can climb on Lala's cooking stool but is too small to see over the bench.

40g butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup plain flour
2 eggs
100g dark chocolate
600 ml whipped cream

Pre heat oven to 220C.

In a saucepan heat water and butter until simmering.  Dump the flour into the saucepan all at once and beat with a wooden spoon over the heat. At this stage you are cooking the flour taste out of the flour.  Keep beating until this paste comes to a ball with no lumps,  when it comes to a smooth ball you can dump the flour mix into your food processor fitted with a steal blade or your mixer bowl.  I find the food processor is the easiest.  Add the lightly beaten eggs to the processor and turn on, allow to go for about 30 seconds to a minute or until mixture thickens and is combined.

Spoon mix into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip or a Ziploc bag, snip the corner off the Ziploc to desired size, remember choux almost triples in size.  Depending on the desired size of the eclair's, pipe to 3 inches for mini eclair's or 6 inches for large or Man sized.

Bake for 8 minutes at 220C then turn the oven down to 180C for a further 10 minutes, turn the oven off and allow the éclair's to stand in the oven for a further 10 minutes with the door slightly ajar.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.


To Ice just melt 100g dark chocolate and dip the top into the melted chocolate,  allow to harden.

When ready to serve cut open and fill with whipped cream.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Rich Chocolate Mousse

You know when you have memories of something that was a super treat as a child?  This is one of those memories,  the reality is just as good as the memory!

Mum and Dad used to have dinner parties when I was a child,  I remember Mum making this for the dessert, I remember sticking my finger in this and getting in trouble.

I did have to beg the recipe many years ago from my Mum, when she finally got around to letting me take the Cordon Bleu recipe books she kept three of them, one had this recipe in it.

I now make this as a treat.  Be warned it is not a light fluffy chocolate mousse, it is a rich dense addictive dessert you devour in silence.  Word of warning, serve it in small glasses you can stick your tongue in as you may just end up trying to lick the glass clean!

200g dark chocolate
4 eggs separated
2 tablespoons espresso
2 tablespoons brandy

In a heatproof bowl melt the chocolate either over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave (your preferred method).  Allow to cool slightly,  beat egg yolks into the chocolate mixture one at a time until smooth and combined.  Add the coffee and brandy beating until smooth.  Set aside.

In your mixing bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks.

Take a spoon of the egg whites and mix through the chocolate mixture, you don't have to be too careful as you are looking to loosen the chocolate and make it easier to fold through the rest of the egg whites.

Fold through the remaining egg whites until combined.  Spoon into glasses and place in the fridge to set for 3 to 4 hours.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and watch your friends and family go cross eyed trying to get the last little bit of chocolate out of the glass!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Scott's Chilli Con Carne

This recipe has been adapted over the years, Scott keeps telling me it is not hot enough, so I up the ante every time I cook it. 

A couple of years ago we heard of a chilli that was grown near us that was the hottest in the world.  So hot that people who ate it went blind.... I'm just reporting the media reports here!  I took Scott on a pilgrimage to the holy place of chilli growth The Chilli Factory and I picked up three bottles of this sauce called Scorpion Strike.

I use it in the Chilli and quickly learnt that you must have the exhaust fan on high or you will choke on the fumes!  I did ask for a gas mask for my 40th birthday, I thought I would get one of those trendy black numbers, however I got one from god knows when in the distant past I think from Russia.

About 12 months ago I was making a batch of Chilli for Scott on a Sunday afternoon, Scott had advised me he would be home by a certain time as we had guests coming and he was late.  Two hours late.  I think I ended up using 3 tablespoons of the Scorpion Strike.  Scott managed 2 lunches through the following week before he gave up and didn't eat the rest,  I still have some in the freezer on standby in case he is late home again!

500g Chuck Steak
2 medium onions chopped
1 red chilli of choice chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground hot chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Chilli sauce
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins kidney beans
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in pan and then sweat your onions until translucent.  While the onions are cooking, cut your chuck into 2 cm cubes and place in food processor with steel blade.  Pulse food processor 5 to 10 times or until the meat is a mix of larger and smaller chunks.

When your onion is translucent add the chillies, chilli powder, cumin and chilli paste to the onions, stir them together and allow to cook for a minute.  Make sure your exhaust fan is on as high as it will go or the fumes may get you!

Add your meat to the onion/chilli mixture and allow meat to brown, approx. 5 mins. 

Add the tins of tomatoes and stir together, bring to a simmer.


Cut a paper cartouche (circle) out of baking paper to put over the chilli while cooking.  Allow to simmer on the lowest flame for 3 hours stirring every hour to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add the tins of kidney beans and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serve and add the toppings of your choice.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Monte Carlo Whoopie Pies


I feel like biscuits, I feel like cake....
Do I have biscuits or do I have cake???
Can I have both????
If you are Australian you grew up with Monte Carlo biscuits!  They are to Aussie kids as Oreos were to American kids growing up.  You twist them apart and eat the filling, a nice mixture of vanilla fake cream and jam, then you toss the biscuit because they were dry and not so nice! ahhh the memories of childhood.
I found a way to have my cake and eat my biscuit too.
115g butter softened
200g soft brown sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 large egg
300g plain flour
11⁄4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch salt
225ml buttermilk
Pre-heat the oven to 170C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
In your mixer beat the butter and sugar together until thick and creamy then add the egg and mix until combined, add mix the sifted flour, salt and bicarb soda then mix in the buttermilk

 Use an ice-cream scoop to spoon scoops of batter onto the baking trays making sure you leave a few centimetres between each scoop, sprinkle each with castor sugar.

Bake for 10- 12 minutes or until they’re firm then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
110g room temp butter
80g room temp cream cheese
250g icing sugar
jam of choice

Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth slowly add the icing sugar until combined.

Spread jam and filling on the cooled cakes join and enjoy.  Alternately you can stir 2 spoons of jam through the cream  to give a ripple effect and pipe the filling onto the cakes adding a little jam as a dot in the middle.

I don't think you will through these ones in the bin.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Maple Syrup Shortbread

While in Canada Mum bought me a great cookie cutter and I was looking for something to use it on and thought I would use this recipe however it is not suitable for rolling out however tastes out of this world so I just keep trying different cookie recipes.

In Melbourne I can bet that my Mother is getting into her pre Christmas routine of Christmas cakes, mince pies and shortbread.  Mum makes fantastic food and both my brother and I learnt to cook from her.  There are a couple of things that I personally don't enjoy such as fruit cake!

I do enjoy her boozy mince pies warm from the oven, once the are cold I don't enjoy them so much.  Mum's shortbread is traditional Scottish shortbread from a recipe she has been using for years.  I find it a little dry and can only eat it after dunking. 

I have looked for years for a recipe that is thin and crisp and moreish, this is the best recipe I have found to date, nice and easy to make and even easier to eat.  Oh and the whole house smells like warm Maple Syrup, how can that be a bad thing?

230gm room temp butter
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1/2 cup room temp maple syrup
2 cups plain flour

In your stand mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy 3 to 5 minutes,  slowly pour the maple syrup into the butter mixture, it may look curdled, this just means the syrup was a little cold it doesn't affect the recipe.

Add the flour to the mixer on low speed until incorporated.


Turn dough out onto some baking paper or kitchen wrap and roll into a cylinder, twist the ends closed and place in the fridge.  Refrigerate for anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days.

Slice the dough to desired thickness, approx. 1/4 cm thick, place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes on 170C.

Sprinkle with a dusting of castor sugar when fresh from the oven.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Rose Sangria

Well summer is well and truly here and the party season is about to start, if it hasn't already started for yourself.

This post is for my wonderful Sister-in-Law Deana.  Deana and my brother live in Canada and for them winter has started and the first snow has fallen.  So I am posting a splash of summer she can make for her friends if she is having a Christmas do.

I was a little sceptical about this recipe and as I am the only one who drinks wine in my house and my wonderful Girlfriend Helen is not allowed to drink, I thought I may be stuck drinking something that I hated.  The other ingredients however do not detract from the Rose and it is very refreshing, I wonder how long it is going to take me to drink it!

1 bottle of your favourite Rose wine
1/2 cup Pomegranate juice (you can get this from the supermarket)
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup castor sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon of Brandy
1 cup chilled water
1 punnet of strawberries hulled and halved
1 punnet of raspberries
ice to serve

The night before your party stir all your ingredients together in a jug and place covered in the fridge.  Just before serving remove from the fridge and stir before adding some ice.

Serve in chilled glasses with some of the fruit and ice.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Sesame Prawn Toasts

I don't know about you, but when we get take away Chinese food we always get a bag of Prawn toasts.  These are divided evenly or there will be death and mayhem in our house.  We all love prawn toasts that much. 

Yes I know you can buy them in the freezer section at the supermarket, however I saw a recipe on a website and kind of had an ah ha moment! You know the light bulb went off over my head and I could see what the heck I was doing!

I had some prawns in the freezer and sesame seeds in the cupboard and I picked up a white loaf from the supermarket (I don't buy supermarket bread, I make my own in the bread maker or get a loaf from the bakery) so a cheap loaf to test this recipe was ideal.

500g defrosted raw prawns
6 slices white bread
sesame seeds


In the bowl of your food processor add the prawns, salt and pepper and pulse until you have a smooth paste.

Cut the crusts off your bread slices.

Divide the prawn mix into six and put on each slice of bread.  Spread the prawn mix evenly to the edges of the bread.

In a bowl filled with sesame seeds place the bread prawn side down.  Gently press to ensure covered evenly.

Cut into fingers or triangles, your choice.

Shallow fry in 1 to 1 1/2 cm of hot oil.  I put mine seed side down first cook for 1 to 2 minutes each side or until golden brown. 

Drain on paper towel and serve hot.

You can freeze at this stage.  Allow to cool on tray lined with paper towel and then freeze.  Bag once frozen.  To re heat place in pre heated 180C oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.