How to Fillet a Fish

 

Paris Fish Market

President-Wilson-Market-Paris-Beautiful-Fish-display

Why should I learn to fillet a fish, do I hear you say? “It’s too messy, too much reality!”  Well, the answer is you can make fish stock from the bones, which in turn makes the most delicious sauce. Just ask Julia Child, where would her Lobster à L’Américaine be without real fish stock?

If you go to a fish market in the United States (at least the ones I’ve been to), you rarely see any whole fish. They’ve all been filleted, with the meat already trimmed and nicely packaged- you’d hardly know that what you’re buying comes from a living creature from the sea!

However, the fish markets in France are full of whole fish ready for you to fillet yourself: trout, sole, John Dory, sea bass and salmon, to name a few. Why, I’ve even bought a live lobster myself in Paris in order to make Lobster à L’Américaine. The French are famous for their delicious fish dishes and sauces and the secret is they use the fish bones to get their flavors.

Filleting a fish is not very difficult- you need to first make a cut behind the head, then run a sharp knife closely along the back bone to release the meat. You’ll need a sharp knife and special tweezers to remove the small ‘pin bones’ after filleting.

If you give filleting a try, you will then be ready to try my next recipe Fish Fillets in White Wine Sauce (coming soon for my next post).

Step 1: Lay the fish flat and remove any scales by scraping the back of your knife along the fish, going towards the direction of the head.

Step 2: Use kitchen scissors to remove the fins on the top and bottom of the fish, cutting in the direction of the head.

Step 3: Starting from the belly side, make a diagonal cut along the head of the fish to the very top.

Step 4: Starting from the head end, insert your knife on the top of the backbone and begin to cut towards the tail- keep your knife very close to the bone. As you cut, gradually pull back the flesh away from the knife.

Step 5: After you have cut half way along the backbone, insert the knife all the way through to the other side, still staying on top of the bones (skeleton). Now slide the knife all the way towards the tail and release the flesh near the tail.

 Step 6: After you have released the flesh from the tail, you will notice that the flesh is still attached to the fish at the ribs. Working on top of the ribs, gradually cut the meat away from the bones, pulling the flesh away.

 You have now finished filleting the top part of the fish. One more side to go!

 

Step 7: Turn the fish over and repeat the exact same steps. Run the knife along the top of the backbone, going from the head to the tail. Pull the flesh away from the knife as you continue to cut.

Step 8: Half-way along the backbone, insert the knife through to the other side, staying on top of the bones. Then cut towards the tail, releasing the flesh from the tail. Finish by cutting the flesh away from the ribs.

 After you have finished, there should be almost no meat left on the fish! You are now ready to make some fish stock with the bones. Stay tuned for my next recipe.

Fish Fillet

 

Peanut Butter and Brownie Ice Cream (no-churn)

There are only four letters to describe this ice cream:  E-A-S-Y. There’s no preliminary heating of egg custard on the stove and no churning required.

First, peanut butter is blended with sweetened condensed milk. This is then folded into a mixture of whipped cream and ready-made vanilla custard. If I haven’t got you already hooked on this recipe, then picture the thick brownie batter that is finally swirled into the mixture.

And if you still have room left in your stomach after eating the peanut butter ice cream, there is still a lot of the brownie batter left over from the recipe to make a batch of brownies. Now that’s what I call ‘total decadence.’

 The thing that makes this dessert so easy is I’ve used ready-made egg-less Vanilla Custard that I bought at the supermarket. In my case, I used ‘Paul’s Vanilla Custard’ (available in Australia) but there are other brands out there, as well.

After the ingredients are poured into a pan, the brownie batter is swirled in to make a rich design:

After freezing, the mixture is transferred onto a plate and served in slices (or scoops).  I think this may sound like a recipe for a Semi Freddo, don’t you?

 

 

 

Peanut Butter and Brownie Ice Cream (no-churn)
Serves 8
Peanut Butter ice cream blended with a rich swirl of brownie batter
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For the Brownie Batter
  1. 1 cup cocoa powder
  2. 1 tbsp baking powder
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. pinch salt
  5. 150 g butter, melted
  6. 30 g dark baking chocolate, melted
  7. 3 eggs
  8. 3/4 cup flour
For the Peanut Butter Ice Cream
  1. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  2. 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  3. 1 cup whipping cream
  4. 2 cups Vanilla Custard (store-bought)
For the Brownie Batter
  1. Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. Add the melted butter and dark chocolate to the mixture and stir.
  3. Whisk together the 3 eggs and add to the mixture. Add the flour and combine all ingredients with an electric mixer.
For the Peanut Butter Ice Cream
  1. Mix together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk- set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, whip the cream on high using electric beaters until soft peaks form. Gradually fold in the vanilla custard to the whipped cream, then fold in the peanut butter/condensed milk mixture.
  3. Line a bread pan with plastic wrap with the sides over-hanging. Pour the ice cream custard mixture into the pan, filling it to the halfway mark. Using a knife, swirl about 3 tablespoons of the brownie mixture into the custard. Add the remaining custard and swirl another 3-4 tablespoons of the brownie batter into the mixture.
  4. Place in the freezer for about 4 hours or until completely frozen. When ready to serve, transfer the frozen block of ice cream onto a plate and cut into slices (or you can serve it in scoops, if desired).
Notes
  1. If you want to shorten the steps, you can use a ready-made brownie mix instead of making it from scratch.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Lamb en croûte with Provencal Vegetables

 

    Lamb Crust Bird's eye 2 What’s a world-famous French cooking school like Cordon Bleu doing teaching recipes using ingredients from Tunisia? I thought French cooking was supposed to be very traditionelle -  dishes like Coq au Vin, Quiche Lorraine and Cassoulet. Imagine my surprise then when we were handed sheets of Brik Pastry (warka dough) from Tunisia to make a version of Lamb en Croûte (lamb wrapped in pastry dough).

It turns out that the Cordon Bleu school, although still focussing on traditional French cuisine, is introducing its students to dishes and ingredients from other parts of the world-  such as ceviche, guacamole and brik pastry from Tunisia.

Brik pastry is a wafer-thin pastry, originating from the Maghreb region in North Africa. Made of wheat flour, oil, salt and water, it is similar to filo pastry, but without all the drama of it flaking apart in your hands. It also has a much lighter, crunchier texture than filo and can be shallow or deep fried without soaking up large amounts of oil.

So hooray for brik pastry!- no more laborious rolling out of traditional pastry dough to make my lamb en croûte. All that’s required for my dish is to first make a mousse stuffing, using some chicken breast mixed with minced pine nuts and pistachios. The lamb fillet and stuffing are then rolled up in several sheets of brik pastry, lightly fried on the stove top and then served with some lamb jus. When served with a side of potato wedges and cherry tomatoes Provence-style (i.e. brushed with olive oil and dusted with some dried thyme) you might be forgiven for thinking you were dining somewhere in the south of France (or would it be Tunisia)?

Ingredients

  • 1 lamb fillet (backstrap)

For the Mousse Stuffing

  • 50 g pistachios
  • 50 g pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • parsley, coriander and basil (3 sprigs each)
  • splash of olive oil
  • 50 g chicken breast
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 30 ml thickened cream

For the Lamb Jus

  • Lamb bones (3 – 4 small/medium pieces)
  • 150 ml beef stock
  • 50 ml red wine

Provencal Vegetables

  • Potato wedges
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Dried thyme and olive oil

 Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  • Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to pan and brown over medium high heat, about three minutes each side. Wrap in foil and place in oven for approximately 4 – 5 minutes. Lamb will be cooked to the right consistency when it is pink in the center. Let the meat cool to room temperature then place in fridge. Reduce the oven temperature to 140 C (280 F).
  • Prepare the lamb jus: brown the lamb bones in oil over medium high heat (use same pan that the lamb was cooked in). Remove the bones from pan and let drain on kitchen paper. Drain the excess oil from the pan. Return the bones to the pan, add the beef stock and wine. Let simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bones from the pan and simmer for a few more minutes.
  • Prepare the chicken mousse: slice the chicken breast into cubes, place in food processor with 1/2 egg white, thickened cream, drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Process until smooth and remove from the processor bowl.
  • Place the pine nuts and pistachios on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 140 C for several minutes until the pine nuts turn a light brown. Remove the nuts from the oven and pulse in the food processor until the are finely minced. Roughly chop the garlic, parsley, coriander and basil sprigs and add to the processor with the nuts. Add the chicken mousse and a splash of olive oil and pulse all ingredients until smooth.

  • Place two sheets of the Brik Pastry (warka dough) on your workbench and overlap them in the center. Brush entire surface of the dough (including edges) with egg white.

Lamb Crust (7of 7) (1 of 1)

  •  Spread the stuffing on the bottom of the dough, to fit the width of the lamb- leave a small margin on the sides.

  • Remove the lamb from the fridge and place on top of the stuffing.

  • Spread some more stuffing on top of the lamb, then roll up the dough and lamb until it meets the half-way mark.

  • Fold the sides inward then continue to roll up the dough until finished. (If any of the dough starts to break apart, you can fix it by brushing some egg white on it).

  • Heat some oil in pan and brown the rolled pastry starting with the seam side facing down. Remove from pan.
  • To prepare the potatoes, cut them in wedges with the skin on. Cook in boiling salted water until the potatoes start to soften (do not over cook). Place some melted butter in a baking pan or casserole dish with some dried thyme. Toss the potatoes in this mixture until thoroughly coated. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes turn golden brown.
  • Brush the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and drizzle with a little salt and dried thyme. Place in oven for 10 minutes until the tomatoes soften.
  • Serve the sliced lamb pieces on a plate, top with some of the lamb jus, serve with some potato wedges and cherry tomatoes on the side.

 

Croissant French Toast Casserole + my blog 2 – year anniversary

 

French Toast

Today happens to be Valentine’s Day, so if you haven’t already given chocolates or red roses to your special person, here’s an alternative: Croissant French Toast Casserole. These buttery croissants are filled with lemon-flavored cream cheese and are sure to warm your sweetheart’s heart at breakfast.

Make them the day before and pop them in the oven and serve the next day. You can have them plain or top with a delicious blueberry compote. They’re not only great for breakfast, we also served these for dessert after serving chilli for dinner.

Today also happens to be my second blog anniversary. I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed and how rewarding it has been. The most rewarding experience has been meeting new people through blogging and the support and encouragement you have given me over the years.

When I first started out blogging, only 1 or 2 people would visit my blog each day, and sometimes I had no visits at all (how sad)! Now I am visited by many people each day and it is so rewarding. So THANK YOU!!

 Here is my very first blog post: Easy Chocolate Fondant Cake

Chocolate-Fondant-Food Gawker

 And here is my post on my first blogging anniversary: French Crab Bisque Soup

Crab Bisque

 And now for the Croissant French Toast Casserole recipe: (adapted from Our Best Bites):

Ingredients

  • 5 – 6 Croissants
  • 1  8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered (icing) sugar, divided
  • juice and zest from two lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

For the Blueberry Compote:

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

 Directions

  •  In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the powdered icing sugar and the juice and zest from one lemon. Mix thoroughly with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Croissant 1

  •  Slice each croissant in half lengthwise using a serrated bread knife. Spread some of the creamed cheese mixture on the bottom half of each croissant.

Croissant

  •  Replace the tops and then slice the croissants in halves or thirds.

French Toast

  • Arrange the pieces evenly in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

French Toast

  • Whisk together the eggs, milk, juice and zest of the second lemon and the remaining 1/2 cup of powered sugar. Pour the mixture evenly over the croissants, cover with foil and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  • When ready to serve, pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Bake covered with foil for about 20 minutes (fan-forced oven) or 30 minutes convection oven. Remove foil and let bake for another 10 minutes or until the croissants turn golden brown on top.
  • Serve plain or with blueberry compote.
  • To make the blueberry compote: Combine 1 cup of the blueberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the blueberries and cook for 8 minutes more, stirring frequently.

 French Toast

French Baked Donuts

 Donuts Are you like me- hesitant to make donuts- afraid even to try? Making every excuse to avoid working with the ‘moody’ yeast dough and the messy deep-frying that leaves splashes of oil all over your kitchen walls?

Well, have I got a recipe for you! There’s no yeast involved and no deep-frying; these ‘donuts’ are baked and will be ready in no time. In fact, I ‘invented’ this recipe quite by accident and I’ve named it French Baked Donuts.

Today I was practicing making profiteroles for one of my upcoming cooking classes (see my post profiteroles). I was making choux pastry (or puff shells) for the profiteroles that would be filled with custard and topped with chocolate sauce. Instead, the choux pastry turned out too runny and gloopy.

What to do now? Quick thinking – pour the runny dough into ramekins or custard dishes, place a dollop of strawberry jam in the middle and bake for about 15 minutes. The result? The dough puffs up and around the jam, looking like you just made yourself a delicious donut.

Here’s the recipe:

 Ingredients (makes about 6 donuts)

Choux Pastry

  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 80 g butter, cubed
  • 150 g (1 cup) sifted flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 small or medium eggs

     Garnish

  • 2 tbsp. strawberry jam (or other flavour)
  • icing (confectioner’s) sugar

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)
  2. Combine water and butter in a saucepan and bring just to the boil.
  3. Remove pan from the heat. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. In one go, add these dry ingredients to the water/butter mixture.
  4. Over medium heat, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough and falls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Dough falling away from sides of pan
  6. Beat in one egg at a time, stirring in each egg until the dough mixture is completely smooth. After the 4 eggs have been beaten in, the dough should be smooth and rather runny.
  7. Pour the mixture about 2 inches high into 6 ramekins or custard bowls. Drop about 2 tablespoons of jam or chocolate into the center of each ramekin.
  8. Donuts with jam in center
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes until the dough doubles in size. Let cool and dust with icing sugar.

 Baked Donuts

 Yes, I like my donuts ….

 

 

 

 

When Spinach almost brought down the White House!

 

 

 

Florentine 4 croppedSince discovering a certain secret about the U.S. White House, I’ve never been able to look at spinach again without chuckling to myself. It turns out that spinach, the most noble of vegetables, created such tension and scandal under Franklin Roosevelt’s administration in the 1930’s, that it almost brought down the White House!

In fact, the situation got so bad that national headlines blared, ” FDR DEMANDS NEW DEAL - REFUSES SPINACH- CRISIS STRIKES.” FDR was furious when he read this, but who was the cause of this disaster? It was Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House’s head housekeeper.

Henrietta was hired by Eleanor Roosevelt to plan and supervise all meals at the White House, but what ensued was less than desirable. The President and guests complained that the “soup was watery” and that the salads were frequently filled with chunks of marshmallows and canned fruit. Eleanor herself complained one night that the “peas were as hard as bullets” and it was common knowledge that guests invited for dinner at the White House would frequently dine before arriving in anticipation of ‘ghastly repasts.’

Mrs Nesbitt brushed aside these criticisms, saying that the President was only “having one of his tizzy-wizzies.” Heaven only knows why Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t fire Mrs Nesbitt earlier, but she was finally replaced when the new First Lady, Bess Truman, took over in 1945 (Henrietta was fired for insolence when she refused to let Mrs Truman bring a stick of butter to her bridge club’s pot luck luncheon).

So, why am I telling you all of this? To try to restore Spinach’s honor and present a dish that might have pleased President Roosevelt- Eggs Florentine. This is a French dish with a poached egg served on toast with spinach and topped with a creamy Hollandaise sauce. ‘Simple but tasty elegance’ could be used to describe this dish, and we can guess that even Lady Astor would have been pleased as a White House dinner guest.

Most recipes for Eggs Florentine call for the spinach to be thoroughly cooked, but I only steamed mine for one minute to retain the texture. I’ve also placed my spinach and egg on top of a piece of toasted bread, although you could also use an English muffin.

Here’s to the memory of Mrs Henrietta Nesbitt!  

 

Eggs Florentine
Serves 4
A soft poached egg served on top of a bed of spinach and topped with a creamy Hollandaise sauce (FDR will thank you)!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 rashers of thin bacon, coursely chopped
  2. 1 bag of fresh Baby Spinach (6 oz or 170 g)
  3. 4 pieces of toasted bread or English muffin halves
  4. ¼ tsp salt
  5. ¾ cup (6 oz) unsalted butter, melted
For the Hollandaise sauce
  1. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  2. 2 tbsp water
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. ¼ tsp salt
  5. ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon rashers until crisp, using the microwave or cooked on the stove top. Let cool and chop coarsely.
  2. For the Hollandaise sauce: combine the lemon juice, water and salt in a medium-sized bowl or pan. Add the egg yolks and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Whisk the ingredients vigorously until the mixture starts to thicken and ‘ribbons’ begin to appear on the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually add the melted butter while continually whisking - continue until the mixture thickens and then set aside.
  4. Steam the spinach for about one minute or longer until it reaches the desired texture (I used a steamer basket or you could boil the spinach in salted water).
  5. To assemble the dish, place a piece of toast or English muffin half on a plate, top with a layer of spinach and one poached egg, then pour several tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce on top. Top with some ground black pepper and sprinkle the bacon bits around the plate.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Persimmon and prosciutto salad with walnut dressing

 

Salad 4Have you ever asked yourself, “Should I first peel the persimmon before eating it?” Well, the answer is NO, which luckily for us, makes it so much easier to eat! And presenting this salad at your table is even more fun since it keeps your family and friends guessing what those colourful orange balls are.

For my recipe, I used Fuyu persimmons, which are short, crisp and sweet and ideal for using in salads. For added presentation, I’ve sliced my persimmons very thinly using a mandoline slicer.

 Fuyu Persimmons

Salad Fuyu

 

 When I presented this salad to my brother-in-law (visiting from Baltimore), he said, “Hmm, these persimmons have a nice mild flavour with a touch of je ne sais quoi.” My words exactly!

This recipe makes a nice summer salad and also could be a meal in itself. The dressing has a nice creamy fruity flavour that works well with the rest of the ingredients.

Persimmon Salad

 

Persimmon and Prosciutto Salad with Walnut Dressing
Yields 6
A light fruity salad with a creamy walnut dressing.
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For the Walnut Dressing
  1. 1 small garlic clove, diced
  2. 2 tbsp. walnut oil
  3. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  4. 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  5. 1/4 cup (60 ml) thin cream
  6. salt/pepper to taste
For the salad
  1. 3 ripe persimmons, sliced thinly
  2. 12 thin slices prosciutto
  3. 3 - 4 cups of green salad mixture (butter lettuce, rocket leaves, baby spinach, etc)
  4. 60 g walnut halves, roughly chopped
  5. 1 cup (80 g) shaved parmesan
  6. salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To make the dressing, add the diced garlic, walnut oil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a food processor bowl and process until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the cream until the mixture is smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. For the salad, slice the persimmons thinly widthways using a mandolin slicer. Tear the prosciutto roughly into pieces and roughly chop the walnuts.
  3. To assemble the salad, arrange the salad greens on a plate, top with the persimmon slices, walnuts and parmesan shavings. Drizzle with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
Adapted from Leanne Kitchen from Taste.com.au
Adapted from Leanne Kitchen from Taste.com.au
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

Chocolate Double Mint Fudge

 

 

Fudge 3

 I spent this last Christmas with a larger family group than usual: nephews, nieces, a grand-nephew and niece and various members of blended families. Rather than buying them each a present, I decided to make them each some fudge, wrapped in fancy gift boxes.

After doing some research, I found the perfect recipe by Dessert Girl: Chocolate Double Mint Fudge. This recipe presents a layer of creamy chocolate fudge topped with a layer of minty fudge, with a sprinkling of chocolate chips on top. Sublime heaven! I presented my gifts at a family gathering at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego and I can guarantee there were no bored looks on people’s faces or rolling of eyeballs as they opened these gifts of chocolate.

This recipe calls for some real ‘candy making’ skills to achieve that perfect fudge texture.  You’ll need a candy thermometer to first heat the fudge to 237° F or           114° C  (softball stage). Any less than that and your fudge will turn out “soft and gooey”, any higher than that, and you’ll find your fudge to be too brittle.

And as Dessert Girl points out, it’s important to not heat the fudge too quickly, or the sugar will chrystallize. Heat the ingredients first on medium-low heat until the sugar and chocolate dissolve, then increase the heat to medium-high until the temperature reaches the softball stage.

While the fudge heats to 237 ° F, stir it constantly with a wooden spoon until it reaches the desired temperature, then stop stirring as it cools to 110 ° F. Any agitation during the cooling process may cause large sugar chrystals to form, giving it a grainy texture. Once the fudge has cooled to 110° F or 43° C, beat it vigorously for several minutes until the fudge reaches that smooth, “melt-in-your-mouth” texture. This process is repeated for both the chocolate fudge layer and the peppermint fudge layer.

There are a few steps involved with this recipe, but it’s really not too difficult to make this lovely gift fudge (or you can decide to keep the fudge and eat it yourself)!

 

Fudge 5

After I spread the mint layer on top of the chocolate layer, I found I had some left over, so I made some decorative shapes using Rycraft Cookie Stamps. First, I formed some of the mint fudge into a small ball, rolled it out and then pressed a cookie stamp on top. After letting the shape harden, I also placed this in the gift box, along with the other pieces of fudge.

Making decorative shapes with Rycraft Cookie Stamps

Fudge 6 of 6) (1 of 1)

 Place the fudge in decorative boxesFudge in boxesClose the lid and here’s your Treasure Box full of fudge!

Treasure Box

 

Chocolate Double Mint Fudge
Yields 60
A delicious creamy chocolate fudge topped with a minty white fudge and chopped chocolate chips.
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Chocolate Fudge Layer
  1. 6 oz (170 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  2. 3 cups (600 g) sugar
  3. ¾ cup whole milk
  4. ¾ cup heavy cream
  5. ¼ cup light corn syrup
  6. 1/8 tsp salt
  7. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  8. ½ tsp vanilla extract
Mint Layer
  1. 2 oz (60 g) white chocolate chips
  2. 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  3. ½ cup milk
  4. ½ cup heavy cream
  5. 2 gtbsp light corn syrup
  6. 1/8 tsp salt
  7. 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  8. 1 ½ tsp peppermint extract
  9. Few drops green food coloring
  10. ½ cup chocolate chips, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Line an 8 inch x 8 inch baking pan with foil, letting the sides hang over the sides.
For the Chocolate Layer
  1. Combine the chocolate, sugar, milk, cream, corn syrup and salt in a medium-sized pan. Over medium heat, stir the ingredients until the chocolate and the sugar melt. Increase the heat and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil and reaches 237 F (soft ball stage).
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Let the mixture cool to 110 degrees F; do not stir while the fudge is cooling.
  3. Transfer the fudge to a mixing bowl, add the vanilla extract and then beat with electric beaters for approximately 5 minutes until the mixture thickens and loses some of its shine.
  4. Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Let set for several hours.
For the Mint Layer
  1. Repeat the steps as above. Combine the chocolate, sugar, milk, cream, corn syrup and salt in a medium-sized pan. Over medium heat, stir the ingredients until the chocolate and the sugar melt. Increase the heat and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil and reaches 237 F (soft ball stage).
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Let the mixture cool to 110 degrees F; do not stir while the fudge is cooling.
  3. Transfer the fudge to a mixing bowl, add the peppermint extract and green food coloring and beat with electric beaters for approximately 1 - 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and loses some of its shine.
  4. Pour the mixture over the chocolate layer and smooth with a spatula. Coarsely chop the chocolate chip pieces and sprinkle over the top, pressing them gently down into the fudge. Let set for about 2 -3 more hours.
Adapted from Dessert First Girl
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

Christmas Black Forest Parfait

Parfait

 It’s only six more days until Christmas and I’ve already had to let out 1 more inch from my (already) stretchy pants. What the heck, one more rich dessert couldn’t possibly hurt my waistline, could it?

This recipe is so easy that even Santa (aka ‘Father Christmas’) could whip up this dessert in a hurry in-between his drops down the chimney.

This Black Forest Parfait combines layers of crushed chocolate wafers (or brownies), a creamy ricotta mixture and cherry compote. This recipe evokes the wonderful flavor of a Black Forest Cake, without the fuss of having to make one.

Counting down to Christmas, five, four, three ……

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Parfait (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

 

Black Forest Christmas Parfait
Yields 4
Layers of cream, cherry compote and 'cheats' Black Forest cake make this a perfect dessert for Christmas
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For the cherry compote
  1. 2 cups fresh cherries
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 2 tbsp sugar
  4. 1 tsp lemon juice
  5. Pinch salt
  6. 1 tbsp blueberry or strawberry preserves (optional)
  7. 1 tbsp. cornstarch
For the Parfait
  1. 1 cup ricotta cheese
  2. ½ cup cream cheese
  3. 2 tbsp sugar
  4. 1 tbsp maple syrup
  5. 1 tsp lemon juice
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  8. 12 chocolate wafers, crushed or 1 ½ cups chocolate brownies, crumbed *
Instructions
  1. Remove stems and pits from the cherries; place cherries in a saucepan with water, sugar, lemon juice, salt and preserves (optional). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes until the cherries soften.
  2. Mix the cornstarch with a little water to form a paste, then add to the pan. Simmer for a few more minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Place the ricotta cheese, cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the maple syrup, lemon juice and vanilla extract and process until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with electric beaters until peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream to the ricotta cheese mixture.
  5. To assemble the dessert, place approximately 2 tablespoons of the crushed chocolate wafers (or crumbed chocolate brownies) in the bottom of each parfait glass. Top with 2 – 3 heaping tablespoons of the ricotta cheese mixture, followed by a heaping tablespoon of the cherry compote. Repeat the layers and top with a mint leaf for decoration (optional). Refrigerate for several hours prior to serving.
Notes
  1. * Here, you could substitute crushed chocolate Oreo cookies.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Southwest Corn Pudding

 

Corn Pudding 2

On a recent trip to Borrego Springs in the California desert, I was inspired to try some rustic Southwestern cooking. ‘Southwest cuisine’ is a blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American food and is popular in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Utah. It is similar to Mexican cuisine and is known for its use of spices, such as chile peppers.

Although this recipe is called ‘Corn Pudding’ it is not a sweet dish. Creamed corn is blended with cream, eggs, cheese and green chiles to form a firm pudding. This dish pairs beautifully with chilli con carne or any other spicy meat dish.

Some corn pudding recipes call for white flour, but I think that yellow cornmeal gives a richer texture. I’ve used one can of creamed corn for my recipe, but you can use a can of ordinary corn or fresh corn, if desired.

Corn Pudding (1 of 1) (1 of 1)

 

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Borrego Springs, located in the Anza Borrego desert in California. The brilliant sunrises and sunsets, the red mountains jutting up from the desert floor, the feeling of solitude within the vast expanse of the desert, all gave me inspiration to try conjuring up some new Southwest recipes.

 Borrego 1 (2)Borrego 2Borrego 4Borrego 5

 

Southwest Corn Pudding
Serves 6
A creamy corn pudding beautifully paired with chili or any spicy meat dish
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Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. ½ tsp salt
  4. Pinch of ground black pepper
  5. 1 (15-ounce) can creamed corn or regular corn
  6. ½ cup chopped green onions (spring onions)
  7. ½ cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  8. 1 roasted green or red chile, peeled, seeded and diced
  9. 1 cup cheddar cheese
  10. 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  11. ½ cup melted butter
  12. 1 cup heavy cream
  13. 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Lightly brush the inside of a Dutch oven or casserole dish with melted butter or vegetable oil.
  3. Combine the cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  4. In order to roast the green or red chile pepper, slice it in half and remove the seeds. Rub the skin with olive oil and bake in oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the skin blisters. Remove from oven and let cool; peel the skin off and dice into small pieces.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the corn, green onions, roasted red bell pepper, diced chile and cheeses. Stir in the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter, cream and eggs and mix well.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the Dutch oven or casserole dish, cover and bake for around 30 minutes. Remove the cover from the dish and let bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture firms and turns golden on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. You can use a can of ordinary corn instead of creamed corn, if desired.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/