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Jun 262012
 

One of the first ‘adult’ cookbooks I was ever given was the Marie Claire “Flavours” – its from Donna Hay’s era writing these cookbooks.  The styling is quite simple – you might even say stark, but holds up surprisingly well for being 12 years old.  I haven’t cooked every recipe, but every one I have tried has been successful.  The lemon or lime tart was my speciality for several years in the early naughties.

This recipe is essentially for an upside-down cake, the intention being that you’ll invert the tin onto a plate, and release a luscious chocolate cake topped with fresh pears cooked in a sweet caramel toffee.  A cake version of a tarte tatin I suppose.

If I can give you one piece of advice, as someone who has the wisdom of hindsight, don’t attempt to cook the cake in a springform pan.  And if you choose to disregard my advice, make sure you have an industrial strength oven cleaner close to hand.

Human error aside, this cake went down a treat with the extended family.

Chocolate pear cake

Serves 8-10
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Meal type Dessert
From book Marie Claire Flavours

Ingredients

  • 80g butter
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2-4 pears ((depending on size) peeled, halved and cored)
  • 185g butter (brought to room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (sifted)

Method

1 Preheat over to 180*. Line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper (bottom and sides).
2 In a pan combine the 80g of butter, 2/3 cup of brown sugar and water and heat over medium until the butter has melted.
3 If you wish you can place the pears cut side down and cook for 2 minutes to caramelize. I omitted this step.
4 Remove pears and sauce from heat. Place the pears cut side down in the lined tin.
5 Pour the sauce over the pears and set aside.
6 In an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
7 Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine.
8 Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture, and then stir through by hand.
9 Spoon the cake mixture over the pears in the tin.
10 Bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer in the middle comes out clean. I found the cake took quite a while to set fully in the middle.
11 Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

 

Jun 182012
 

Can I share something with you?

I don’t really warm to cauliflower.  It’s cruciferous cousin broccoli is close to my heart.  I’ve even come around to brussel sprouts and cabbage (preferably slow-cooked, with proscuitto).  But cauliflower leaves me cold.  I bypass it at the supermarket (I mean…farmers’ market…), I leave it in the fridge if J happens to buy it.

Eventually I decided, enough is enough.   Surely there is a way for me to enjoy it. It doesn’t all have to hark back to the oversteamed/boiled cauliflower of my childhood (sorry Mum!).

Consider this the first step in my education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti with cauliflower and proscuitto

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Website Citrus and Candy

Ingredients

  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 1.2 heads cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices proscuitto
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli (I used sambal but fresh chilli also works)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • zest of 1 lemon (Omitted because I didn't have it - but I recommend adding it)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (finger lime vinegar also works!)
  • flat leafed parsley (coarsely chopped)
  • parm (to taste)

Method

1 Cook pasta according to packet directions.
2 Strain pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
3 Toss the pasta with a little olive oil to prevent stocking and put to one side.
4 In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium high and add in the cauliflower.
5 Season and cook until the cauliflower is cooked and has caramelised.
6 Remove the cauliflower from the pan and set aside.
7 Heat the oil in the same frying pan and add the proscuitto and cook until crispy.
8 Reserve a few bits of prosuitto to crumble on top at the end.
9 Add the garlic and chilli to the remaining proscuitto int he pan and gently fry until the garlic starts to brown.
10 Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce.
11 Add the zest, lemon juice and cauliflower.
12 Add the cooked pasta into the frying pan and toss to combine.
13 Add pasta water if needed to coat the pasta and create a bit of sauce.
14 Season and toss through the parsley.
15 Top with crisp proscuitto and grated parmesan.
Jun 142012
 

I have this dish I bring to parties that is inexplicably popular, and incredibly easy.  It’s called “oreo balls” and the method is simple – crush 1 packet of oreos into 1 tub of cream cheese, roll into balls and then roll the balls in melted chocolate.  I get frequent requests for this dish.  It’s my go-to when I have limited time and inspiration on what to bring.

It’s great, and I recommend you give it a try next time you want something quick, easy and sweet.  But, if you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, this recipe is what I would describe as oreo balls for grown ups.  It can also be called a no-bake oreo cheesecake.  I was inspired by the cover recipe of the April 2012 Delicious magazine, and this recipe is my adaptation.

No-bake oreo cheesecake

Serves 8-10
Prep time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Meal type Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 packet Oreo biscuits
  • 150g unsalted butter (melted)
  • 350g ricotta
  • 350g marscapone cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300g dark chocolate

Method

1 In a food processor, process the oreo biscuits until crushed to fine crumbs.
2 Stir in the melted butter and quickly pulse to combine.
3 Press the oreo mixture into the bottom of a 23cm x 3cm loose based tart pan. Chill in the fridge until firm (30 mins)
4 In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, marscapone, iciing sugar and vanilla until well combined.
5 Grate or finely 150grams of the dark chocolate and stir through the marscapone mixture.
6 Spread the marscapone mixture into the chilled tart shell and chill for a least 1 hour.
7 Melt the remaining 150g of chocolate over a double boiler or over medium-low heat int he microwave.
8 When the chocolate is melted and smooth, spread over a flat tray lined with baking paper until reasonably thin. Set aside to set.
9 Either use a sharp vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls, or, if that is beyond your abilities (as it was mine) simply break into long triangular shards. Decorate the tart with the shards.
Jun 112012
 

Hello!  I hope you like the new-look Sugar Snapped.  J has been working hard behind the scenes, and whilst there may still be some bugs in the archives we decided it was time to go live. 

Full disclosure – J and I were guests of Sono Portside, however all opinions are my own!

J and I walk into the beautiful restaurant and remove our shoes to slide in underneath the sunken tables.  It’s at about this time that I regret my decision to go with ballet flats and not shoes that require socks!  I also question my decision to wear a rather short skirt.  Minor wardrobe malfunctions aside, we relax and get comfortable in our lovely table overlooking the river.  No cruise ships are docked at the moment, so we have an uninterrupted view down the river towards the city.

Our waiter Sho comes around with the menu and recommends the tasting menu (with matching wines/sake) to give us the best overview of what Sono has to offer.  I love a good degustation/tasting, but I leave the wine tasting to J – I ran a half marathon this morning so 6 glasses of wine probably wouldn’t be the smartest idea…

Our first course (and in fact all the courses) arrives promptly.  We have a fresh oyster with a touch of lime juice – it tastes like the sea, and I feel like I am getting more at ease with the tilt-your-head-and-gulp action required to enjoy an oyster. The soft-shell crab is crisp and sweet, and the wagyu piece tender and just barely seared.  J tells me the Cloudy Bay Sparkling is light and matches well with the seafood.

Second course is sashimi, and the wasabi gives it a great kick.  I particularly enjoy the white fish in lemon juice, and I prefer the tuna to the salmon.  J and I agree that, although we don’t mind sashimi, we prefer the flavour when the tuna/salmon is just quickly seared on each side. The Mitchell Watervale riesling is crisp and not to sweet.

Next up is a fried spring roll filled with fresh scampi.  The sauce it is served with is simply delicious, but perhaps slightly too overpowering of the delicate scampi for our tastes.  The cheesy croquettes are excellent and the sauce really works well with those.  I am not normally a fan of wooded chardonnay, but the Giants Step Sexton chardonnay is delicious.

Sushi course, and we enjoy some grilled salmon, tempura prawn and fish cake sushi.  The pickled ginger is divine (and not fluorescent pink like a lot of commercial varieties!) – it makes me want to learn to pickle ginger at home (perhaps a future project?).  J has the sake (Echigo Toji No Sato) with this course, and whilst neither of us have any particular experience with sake he thinks it goes particularly well with the salmon.

For the main, I choose the wagyu beef and J picks the duck.  The beef is lovely, tender, cooked medium-rare according to my request and with a fragrant, rich sauce.  This dish has what Heston would describe as “umami” and certainly satisfies me.  J’s orange duck is also rich and perfectly cooked, but J remarks that a more aged pinot noir than the Roaring Meg could have also have worked with the dish.

Finally dessert!  Normally dessert on the tasting menu is a tasting plate, but as special guests of the restaurant (how fancy!) we are treated to two full sized desserts.  The profiterole swans are lovely, but my heart belongs to the gateau au chocolat, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.

From start to finish our whole experience at Sono Portside was delightful – the service was thoughtful (thanks to Sho!), the food was delicious, the view and company was wonderful.

Thank you so much to Sono Portside for the chance to come and have a delicious meal!

Sono Portside
Level 1
Portside Wharf
39 Hercules St
Hamilton
Ph: 3268 6655
Web: http://www.sonorestaurant.com.au/#/sono-portside/home

 

May 112012
 

I’ve recently signed up to be a “Rocket Fuel Influencer” so you might see a bit more sponsored content on this site and twitter.  I promise I won’t inundate you with too much stuff, and I will only be accepting briefs that align with my personal views – so you won’t see any spruiking of McDonald’s on here!

As a thank you for joining up, and as part of the first campaign, I was invited along to the launch of the Brisbane Times/Fairfax Good Food Guide 2012.  The Guide is a bit of a foodies bible in Sydney and Melbourne where it has been published for several years now.  Prior to 2012, the Guide was only available in Queensland online in a limited capacity.  However, the Queensland version of the Guide has now been launched online and in book form.

The Guide is essentially a guide to restaurants throughout Queensland, and particularly good restaurants are awarded chef’s hats to denote their rating.  I believe three hats is the highest rating to be awarded, and in Queensland this year that honour was only awarded to one restaurant – Esquire in Brisbane.  Funnily enough, J and I went to Esquire only the week before to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  It’s definitely a special occasion sort of restaurant, and I recommend you check it out!

Just four Queensland restaurants have been awarded two hats: Urbane, Ortiga, Aria and the Long Apron.  The Long Apron is the only one I haven’t tried yet, but rest assured it’s been added to the list!

The Guide goes on the list a number of metropolitan and regional restaurants that have earned 1 chefs hat, and a number of other restaurants that, whilst not quite at a hat rating, represent some pretty great eating.

You can purchase the hard copy book in most bookstores and newsagencies, but as part of my first brief I get to offer you half price website membership, for just $4.50!  Website membership allows you to:

  • Access to all the reviews for the Queensland 2012 edition for Brisbane, Northern NSW and Queensland (the book RRP is $29.95)
  • Filter and sort by Hats, score, price and opening hours
  • Read and add your own comments

Personally, I think it’s a bargain (and I’m not just saying that!)

So, to learn more about it, and to get your half price membership, just click through on this link:  http://go.clickmeter.com/SugarSnappedQLDGFG/

It’s a quick and easy process to sign up from there.  Happy eating!

This is a RocketFuel sponsored post.

May 092012
 

I was invited to attend a food blogger’s dinner at the Bavarian Bier Cafe on Eagle St last week.  I was lured by the promise of hearty German food, and some beer-education.

When I arrived, the place was hopping.  Not entirely surprising on a Friday night.  It was also the first week of the “Pure Bier Fest” which is a month-long celebration of the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot).  In their words: ” Arguably the best consumer law ever made, the 1516 legislation declares that pure German bier can only contain four ingredients; hops,
malt, yeast and water – the Bavarian Bier Café’s secret to great tasting pure bier.”

There was a photo booth where you could take photos which proclaimed “I’m the one that knows bier from beer”.  I’m not sure I can really back that claim up, not being a huge beer (sorry bier!) drinker.  I also did my palette a disservice when I was unable to distinguish an inferior mass produced Australian beer from a pure German bier.

I did have  a lot of fun learning about the different biers, despite my ineptitude.  I enjoyed the Hacker Pschort Pilsner in particular, although there was also a wheat beer that had distinct banana overtones – it sounds strange but it worked really well!

We were treated to a German feast.  First course was samples of baby onion and caramelized beetroot tartlet, heirloom tomato salad and chunky chicken terrine with black forest ham and flammenbrot.  We also had delicious fresh warm pretzels – I love my carbs!

Three main courses were on offer – the Hofbrau Dunkel braised beef cheeks – I tried a bite of these and they were melt in your mouth tender.  There was also baked lamb shanks, which looked tender also and met with approval around the table.  Finally there was chicken tarragon sausage, served with house-made spaetzle.  That was the dish I had and it was lovely – the sausage was so fragrant and (much as I hate the word, it really applies here) moist.  The spaetzle was delicious, and I was so impressed to find that it is made fresh by the chef.  The portions are enormous (consistent with my experience in Germany) so take your appetite!

Dessert was baked Rouzaire Coulommier (a soft washed rind cheese), served with truffled honey and warm fruit bread.  It was one of the best combinations I’ve had in a long time.  I do love cheese!

I had a great time at the Bavarian Bier Cafe – it’s not pretentious, just hearty German food and good bier.  There are quite a few events on for Pure Bier Fest, including $10 bier flights on Monday nights, and schnitzel eating competitions on Tuesday night.

Full disclosure – I was a guest of the Bavarian Bier Cafe, but all opinions are my own.  Thanks again for a fun night!

Bavarian Bier Café Eagle St Pier
Lvl 1, Eagle St Pier. The City
Ph: 07 3339 0900

www.bavarianbiercafe.com