Brioche with Lemon Curd Filling

Brioche larger

This post has taught me a lesson: never leave your food lying around while you are setting up your food photography shot, or it might get eaten before you’re finished! After setting up my brioche shot, I went away for awhile and when I came back, someone (aka my daughter) had taken a huge bite out of the brioche. Good thing I had a few ‘spares’ lying around. Then, I went away again and found that my daughter-in-law had now taken a huge bite out of the new brioche! I guess brioches are so good that people just can’t help themselves!

Are they bread or pastry?

As I started to write this post, I wondered whether a brioche is considered to be a bread or a pastry? Wikipedia has shed some light on this question, saying a brioche is made in the same way as bread but has a ‘richer aspect of pastry’ due to the addition of the extra eggs, butter and sugar. Whatever brioches are called, I love them; they’re extra light and flaky, no doubt caused by the large amount of butter incorporated into the dough. I added a personal touch to my recipe by adding a dollop of lemon curd in the center of the brioche after being baked. Hmmm, I think my brioche is starting to sound like a pastry, don’t you?

The French typically eat les brioches with jam and butter for breakfast or with a coffee break, but one might be forgiven for waking up at midnight to have a bite or two. Julia Child has a 7-page long instruction on how to make brioches in her book Mastering the Arts of French Cooking but my version is a lot simpler using an electric mixer or food processor.

Brioches are usually made with some sort of fluted tin that flares outward a bit- I used several small tart pans for my brioche with the lemon curd filling and then used a regular cake pan for my larger brioche (with no filling).

The brioche dough is rather wet and gloopy after the first rising so you’ll need to place it in the fridge for several hours (or overnight) to be able to congeal the butter and allow you to shape the dough. After resting in the fridge, the dough is formed into small balls; one ball is first placed in the center of the baking tin, then 5 balls are arranged around it and then one final ball is placed on top. After doubling in size, the brioches are baked in the oven, the ‘top ball’ is then removed and a lovely dollop of lemon curd placed in the middle of the brioche.

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 5 balls are arranged around a center ball, then one final ball placed on topBrioche

Mmmm, les brioches straight out of the oven!

Brioche

 Large Brioche baked in a cake panBrioche

Brioche with Lemon Curd Filling
Serves 6
A soft, flaky brioche with a sumptuous lemon curd filling.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Required Equipment
  1. 4 small tart pans, about 4 ½ (11 cms) inches wide or one large oven-proof bowl
For the brioche
  1. 1 sachet (7 gm) dried yeast
  2. 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  3. 1/2 cup caster sugar
  4. Finely grated rind of 1 orange
  5. 2 1/3 cups plain flour
  6. 3 eggs + 1 extra for eggwash
  7. 6 oz (185 gm) softened butter
For the Lemon Curd
  1. 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  2. 3/4 cup caster sugar
  3. 1/3 cup (80 gm) softened butter
  4. Zest and juice from 2 lemons
For the Lemon Curd
  1. Whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve into a small bowl and place in fridge until ready to use.
For the brioche
  1. Combine the dry yeast and warm milk in a small bowl; let rest for a few minutes until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the sugar and orange rind and stir; transfer ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook (or food processor fitted with a 'dough blade’).
  2. Add the flour in 3 batches along with an egg with each, kneading (mixing) until smooth between each addition. With the motor running, gradually add the softened butter and mix for 3-4 minutes until the batter is smooth and shiny.
  3. Transfer to a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap in a warm place until the mixture doubles in size (1 - 2 hours). Knock the dough back down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and weight the dough down with a plate. Place in fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight.
  4. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for one minute into a ball shape. Divide the dough into small balls about 1 inch wide (the size of the balls will depend on the size of your tart pans or the bowl that you use). Place one ball in the center of your pan, then arrange 5-6 balls around it. Using your index finger, make a small indentation in the center ball; this is where the lemon curd filling will go after the brioche has been baked. Now place one more ball on top of the center ball.Repeat this with the other tart pans.
  5. Cover the pans with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Brush the dough with eggwash (one egg combined with a little water) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C (350 F) for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough has turned golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Remove the brioche from the tins (or bowl); remove the top ball from the center of the brioche and add a small amount of lemon curd into the center of each brioche. Serve warm on the day of baking or lightly toasted the following day.
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snapper with Mango Salsa – a step in the right direction!

 

Snapper with Mango Salsa

I’ve been taking Salsa dance lessons recently, loving the Latin rhythms, the hips moving, the quick twists and turns. (Hubby won’t attend the classes with me but reluctantly allows me to teach him a few steps at home). So with the word ‘Salsa’ on my mind, I decided to let this blossom into a recipe for Mango Salsa, served on a moist piece of Snapper. (This wouldn’t be the first time that dance movements have inspired food recipes)!

This Salsa recipe combines mango, red onion, fresh chili, coriander and lime juice- I love the combination of the sweet, sour and spicy flavors of the salsa that go beautifully with fish. On our recent road trip from Adelaide to Western Australia, I made this recipe several times along the way, using fresh Pink Snapper from Western Australia. Although it was Winter on our trip and fresh local mango was out of season, I was happy to see fresh mangoes for sale from Mexico! (See my recent post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef)

Mango salsa goes well with Snapper, but you could use any white fish with this recipe. Whether it’s dance or food, I think Salsa is the way to go!

 

Fish Salsa

Snapper with Mango Salsa
Serves 2
A topping made of mango, chili and coriander that will liven up your fish dish!
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Ingredients
  1. Snapper (or other white fish) for 2 servings
  2. 1 mango, peeled and cubed
  3. 1/2 red onion, diced
  4. 1/2 red chili, seeded and diced
  5. 3-4 tbsp. chopped coriander (cilantro)
  6. juice from 1 lime
  7. 1/2 tomato, diced
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
For the salsa
  1. Cut 1 mango into small cubes of about 1/4 inch and place in mixing bowl.
  2. Add the red onion, red chili and tomato to the mixture. Finely chop 3 - 4 tbsp. of coriander and add this to the bowl along with the lime juice.
  3. Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste (you may want to increase the chili if you prefer it spicy).
For the fish
  1. Wrap each serving of fish in foil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the fish is cooked (larger fish may require longer cooking).
  2. Remove fish from oven and top with the mango salsa.
Notes
  1. Instead of baking the fish in the oven, you could also pan fry it gently in a little oil and butter. I served my fish on a layer of steamed baby spinach (optional).
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Chocolate Kahlua Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu 1

I think my dessert might be classed as a ‘cheat’s tiramisu’ because I left out the sponge cake or ladyfingers- but it does have a delicious blend of whipped cream and mascarpone cheese layered with coffee-infused melted chocolate and a splash of Kahlua. Oh yeah, we can forget about those lady fingers this time!

Unfortunately, I’ll have to forget about going on a diet for the time being. I gained 6 pounds on my recent 5-week road trip that took us from Adelaide, South Australia up through the coast of Western Australia to Exmouth (see my post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef). I find it hard to maintain my weight while travelling, with long hours sitting in a car and eating many meals in restaurants. For dinner, I always ordered just one bowl of soup and then ate a few morsels from Len’s dinner in order to cut back, but the weight still kept piling on. Maybe it was all the lobster and oysters I ate on the trip!

But first I’ll eat this delicious dessert and then go on a diet. Tell me, dear reader, do you tend to gain weight when you travel?

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Chocolate Kahlua Tiramisu
Yields 4
A creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream blended with layers of melted chocolate and a splash of Kahlua.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
  2. 1/2 cup (125 g) mascarpone cheese or ricotta cheese
  3. 1/4 cup (40 g) icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
  4. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  5. 100 g dark chocolate, melted
  6. 2 tbsps. liquid coffee, cooled
  7. 3 tbsp. Kahlua liqueur (or other coffee liqueur)
Instructions
  1. Whip the cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and sifted confectioner's sugar, then stir until the mixture is smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vanilla extract, liquid coffee and Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur). To serve, spoon 1 tbsp. of the melted chocolate mixture on the bottom of a serving glass, followed by several tbsps. of the cream/mascarpone cheese mixture. Continue alternating layers of the chocolate mixture with the cream mixture, ending with several pieces of chocolate bits on top.
Notes
  1. You can substitute ricotta cheese for the mascarpone cheese, if desired.
Adapted from Donna Hay
Adapted from Donna Hay
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Spaghetti with Lobster- the Australian experience

 

Spaghetti with Lobster Sauce

Len and I have been driving through the Australian Outback for the past 3 weeks, part of a 10,000 km round-trip tour from Adelaide, South Australia to Exmouth, Western Australia (see my post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef). After driving across the treeless, dusty Nullarbor Plain, we finally reached Cervantes, Western Australia– famous for its lobster and fishing industry. I couldn’t wait to pick up a few lobsters so I could try cooking with some of the local produce.

In order to learn more about the Western Australia Rock Lobster industry and to pick up a lobster or two, we first toured the Lobster Shack, a lobster processing plant started by the Thompson family in the 1960s. During the self-guided tour, we learned that the Western Australia Rock Lobster industry contributes about $600 million to the overall Australian economy and is responsible for 1/5 of the lobster output of the country. What impressive stats!

Western Australia Rock Lobsters being processed- “I’ll take that one, please!” photo attributed to planbooktravel.com.au

Lobster Shack

The processing of the lobsters is highly automated and driven  by technology imported from Iceland. First, the live lobsters are placed in cold water to stun them and then are placed on a conveyer belt for grading them into different baskets according to their weight. An ‘A-graded’ lobster is the lightest and an ‘F-graded’ one is the heaviest. I was amazed to learn that the whole process is computerized and the conveyer belt ‘knows’ which basket to direct the lobsters to.

Grading the lobsters according to weight- small ones go to the ‘A’ basket and big ones to the ‘F’ basket

Grading lobsters

It turns out that the Japanese prefer the smaller lobsters and the citizens of Dubai prefer the larger 2 kg (4.5 lbs) lobsters. I think I’d go for the larger ones, myself!

The baskets of lobsters are then carried to tanks where they are ‘purged’ for three days- given no food and relying only on nutrients from the water piped into the tanks. The lobsters are then packaged in saw dust and other wrapping material and transported to Perth International Airport, where they are shipped all over the world.

 Holding Tanks where the lobsters are ‘purged’ for three days

 “I’m off to Perth International Airport for shipping to other parts of the world”

With the two lobsters that I then bought, what better way to honor my visit to the Lobster Shack than to make a recipe for Spaghetti and Lobster– to be prepared at my little rented cabin by the beach. Simple enough to be prepared in a small kitchen, yet mouth-watering delicious.

 The Method:

  • To prepare the lobster sauce, detach the tail and claws from the lobster body and remove the meat from them (note: the Western Australia Rock Lobster does not have big claws, therefore there’s not much meat in them).
  • Gather all the shells together and break them up loosely using a rolling pin or meat cleaver.

Breaking up the Lobster Shells

  • Heat the shells in a pan with some oil, then add the leek, onion, garlic, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock- let simmer for at least 20 minutes.

  • Strain the ingredients- return the liquid to the pan and reduce to 50%; thicken sauce with cubes of cold butter and season with salt/pepper. Add sliced mushrooms (optional) until cooked, then add the chunks of cooked lobster for a few minutes until re-heated.
  • Serve the sauce on top of cooked spaghetti and garnish with several parsley sprigs.

 

…. 

Spaghetti with Lobster
Serves 2
Spaghetti with chunks of fresh lobster and a delicious homemade lobster sauce.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cooked lobster (minimum of 750 grams or 1.6 lbs)
  2. 1 packet of spaghetti (enough to serve 2)
For the lobster sauce
  1. lobster shells
  2. green part of one leek, chopped
  3. 1/2 onion chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  5. 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  6. 1 tomato, diced
  7. 100 ml white wine
  8. 200 ml fish or chicken stock
  9. 125 cold butter, cubed
  10. salt/pepper
For the garnish
  1. 6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
  2. several sprigs parsley
Instructions
  1. Remove the tail and legs from the cooked lobster- remove the meat and set aside. Crush the lobster shells using a rolling pin or meat mallet.
For the lobster sauce
  1. Chop up the green leafy part of a leek, then add to a pan with some hot oil along with the chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves and the lobster shells. Lower the heat and stir until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomato paste, white wine and fish (or chicken) stock. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve and then reduce the sauce to about 50% of its previous volume.
  2. Gradually add the cold butter cubes and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the sliced mushrooms and lobster pieces to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.
  3. Serve the sauce and lobster pieces on a bed of cooked spaghetti. Garnish with several sprigs of parsley.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef

 

Great Australian Bight, South Australia

Nullarbor

We’re bound for Western Australia!

Map

One of the advantages of belonging to the ‘Grey Nomads’ set is being able to take off when you want, for as long as you want, to wherever you want (almost).  So Len and I decided to take advantage of our privileged status and set off on a road trip that would take us from Adelaide, South Australia to Exmouth, Western Australia- a round-trip of almost 10,000 km (6,200 miles) that would take us through some stunning Outback scenery.

A lot of Australians huddle close to the large capital cities and rarely venture out into the Outback. I thought it was important for us to experience the vast open spaces of Australia with its miles of flat scrubland, the kind of experience that turns your thoughts inward at times.

Our daughter had lived in Western Australia for 5 years and spoke of places like Monkey Mia and the Ningaloo Reef- located far up the coast from the capital of Perth. Were there really monkeys living on the coast of Western Australia? I just had to see for myself! (ha ha)

In order to travel by car from South Australia to Western Australia, you have to first cross the Nullarbor Plain, a desolate expanse of some 1,100 kms (685 miles). The word Nullabor means “no tree” in Latin, so you can get the drift of what it’s like crossing this vast, treeless, almost mesmerising plain.

Edward Ayers, the first European to cross the Nullarbor Plain in 1841, described the area as “a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams.” But he didn’t have the benefit of a paved road or air-conditioned car to travel in, so here are some of the gems that he may have missed:

Head of the Bight, South Australia     Distance: 1,055 kms from Adelaide (655 miles)

Starting from Adelaide, it took us two days of driving to get to the Head of the Bight, SA. Stunning Bunda Cliffs overlook the area where Southern Right Whales breed between June and October each year. These cliffs are made of limestone and form the longest uninterrupted line of sea cliffs in the world.

Nullarbor (4 of 4) (1 of 1)Nullarbor (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

The whale-watching platform is 20 kms off the main road, where you can view the whales doing their tail slapping, blow-holing and belly rolling. We saw one whale with her calf- it’s amazing how these mammals can exist in the ocean. Whales can hold their breath for 15 minutes and even longer for sperm whales.

head-of-the-bight-mother-and-calf-whale-

 Nullabor Roadhouse  1,130 kms from Adelaide

Our first night on the Nullarbor Plain was spent at the Nullarbor Roadhouse- very basic but comfortable accommodation. We were blessed  with lovely storm clouds and a double rainbow at sunset time.

Nullarbor Rainbow

 Cocklebiddy, Western Australia   1,537 kms from Adelaide

After crossing the border into Western Australia, we stayed at a tiny roadhouse in Cocklebiddy- only 8 humans live here and 1.234 million kangaroos. That’s what I call being outnumbered. I was so excited to finally arrive in W.A. that I said to Len, “Are we getting close to the coast yet?” “Heck no, we’ve got another two days of driving yet to go,” said Len. Driving distances between towns and roadhouses can be huge in Australia- I guess that’s why we call this the Outback!

Cocklebiddy SA

 The ‘Longest Straight Road in Australia’   1,602 kms from Adelaide

Arriving at Caiguna, Western Australia, we encountered the beginning of the longest straight road in Australia (ranking number two in the world)- stretching 147 kms or 90 miles of “straight, unaldulterated boringness.” It wasn’t so boring for us, though- we listened to our old CD’s of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and the Kingston Trio. You can definitely tell we’re old throwbacks from the 1960’s!

Straight road

We passed briefly through Gingin, a small agricultural town 92 kms north of Perth. You never know what you’re going to run into when you’re travelling- Gingin was full of purple bras strung out on lines all over town and many women were wearing their purple bras on the outside of their clothing. It turns out that the town was sponsoring a cancer awareness campaign.

Purple bra campaign in Gingin, WA

Purple Bras

After 7 days of travelling, we finally arrived in a small coastal town called Cervantes, Western Australia situated close to The Pinnacles in Namburg National Park. There are hundreds of limestone structures looming up from the sandy floor, created from the breakdown of seashells millions of years ago. We got drenched with rain there but fortunately the storm didn’t last very long.

The Pinnacles

Pinnacles

 Pinnacles WA

 Monkey Mia, Western Australia  3,475 kms from Adelaide

On our way to Monkey Mia (pronounced MY-AH), we stopped briefly in Geralton to buy two Western Australian Lobsters so I could make Spaghtetti with Lobster Sauce for our next night’s dinner. Then on to Monkey Mia which confirmed my belief that there are no monkeys living there! The word ‘Mia’ means ‘home’ or ‘shelter’ in Aboriginal language and it’s thought that the town derived its name from a pet monkey that early Malay pearlers owned in the area.

Monkey Mia is known for its Bottlenose Dolphins that come to feed on the shoreline. The dolphin feeding is restricted to three times in the morning so that the dolphins will still be encouraged to hunt for their own food.

Shark-Bay-dolphines

Monkey Mia is located on Shark Bay and one of my favourite experiences was taking a 4 km walk through the bush, overlooking the beautiful bay.

Nullarbor Monkey Mia (13 of 13) (1 of 1)

This dolphin came close to our boat as we toured Shark Bay to view various marine life.

Monkey Mia Dolphin

We took a 4WD tour of Cape Peron National Park near Monkey Mia and learned a fascinating detail about this area. In 1818 the French explorer, Louis Freycinet, spent two weeks surveying the area around Cape Peron. One day he encountered the Malgana Aboriginal people living in the area and in order to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation, the ship’s artist, Jacques Arago, played the castanets and danced to the rhythms. The Aboriginal elders joined in and danced wildly and the two parties then exchanged gifts. It’s amazing to learn that someone had played the castanets on such an isolated place so long ago!

Cape Peron National Park (near Monkey Mia)  where castanets were played 200 years ago by a Frenchman

Skip Jack Point

After  full day of 4WD touring, a delicious meal of seafood awaited us at the Monkey Mia Resort restaurant. 

 Monkey Mia Cafe

Ningaloo Reef at Exmouth, Western Australia  4,800 kms from Adelaide

Coral Reef located close to the shoreline

ningaloo photo

After 2.5 weeks on the road, we finally reached Exmouth, Western Australia- which is our turn-around point before heading back to Adelaide. Ningaloo Reef is located on the East Indian Ocean and is 260 km long and is World Heritage listed. It is a ‘fringing reef’ which means the coral reef is located very close to shore – I was able to put on my flippers and snorkel mask and wade right out into the coral area, close to the shoreline.

We also took a glass-bottom boat ride that took us further out into the coral reef. Here’s a picture of me donning my snorkling gear before plunging into the pristine water. I was greeted with valleys of exquisitely shaped corals and wondrous flows of different fish- including a sea turtle that floated past.

Fish Monster!

Ningaloo Snorkle

I snorkeled in about 15 feet of water, but I still wanted to hang onto my yellow ‘noodle’ for safety!

 Coral ReefTomorrow we start home to Adelaide. There’s nothing like home, but I won’t look forward to having to change from wearing my shorts here in the tropics to donning my tracksuit in ‘wintery’ Adelaide. I hope you can visit the west coast of Western Australia sometime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherry Cheesecake Dump Cake

 

Dump Cake (1 of 1) (1 of 1) Dump Cake

The first time I heard of Dump Cake was in the 1970s when I was living in Baltimore. A friend said she was going to bring a ‘Dump Cake’ along to dinner and I was certainly intrigued by the name. Then 40 years later, I decided to buy a cookbook that features over 250 dump cake recipes- yes, it was time for me to take the ‘dump plunge.’

Dump Cakes usually require a 1-2-3 DUMP strategy: first you ‘dump’ a can of fruit or pie filling into a cake pan (but it can be fresh fruit), then you add a packet of cake mix on top, followed by a stick of butter- I can’t think of anything easier! It takes less than ten minutes to assemble and only 20 – 30 minutes to bake.

I find that the texture of a dump cake is crispier and slightly crunchier than traditional cake- almost like a cobbler.

Instead of using canned cherry pie filling, I made mine from ‘scratch’, using drained cherries from a jar, sugar and corn flour (see detailed recipe below). 

For my Cherry Cheesecake Dump Cake:

First I ‘dumped’ the cherry pie filling into a cake pan, followed by slices of cream cheese.

Dump Cake

Then I added a packet of white (or yellow) cake mix on top:

 Finally, I placed 1/2 cup butter slices on top of the mixture, followed by some slivered almonds.

Dump Cake

Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 20 – 30 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve plain or with ice cream or whipped cream.

Are you up for the Dump Challenge?

Dump Cake

 

Cherry Cheesecake Dump Cake
Serves 4
A delicious cake with a cherry and cream cheese filling. Fast and easy!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
For the cherry pie filling
  1. 4 cups tart cherries from jar, pitted and drained
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1/4 - 1/2 cup corn flour or corn starch
Remaining ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (125 g cream cheese) cut into small pieces
  2. 1 cake mix (white or yellow cake mix)
  3. 1/2 cup butter, cut into thin slices
  4. 1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
To make the cherry pie filling
  1. Drain the cherries and place in saucepan with the water and sugar. Bring to boil, reduce heat and then stir in the corn flour. Let simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  2. Pour mixture into cake pan and add small pieces of cream cheese on top.
  3. Spread the cake mixture on top, then add the thin slices of butter. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top.
  4. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (optional).
Notes
  1. To serve my cake, I added extra juices from the cherry filling as a garnish.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Fruit Tarts with almond cream filling

 Tart

 This recipe should get your creative juices going. I, myself, am lacking in artistic talent (sorry, I can only manage to draw stick figures), but when confronted with a bowl full of fruit to decorate my tarts with, I’m in seventh heaven!

Fresh raspberries, strawberries, peaches and pears are all part of my ‘palette’ with which to decorate my tarts- the only thing I’m missing, perhaps, is Kiwi fruit. Unfortunately they are not in season here in Australia. Perhaps you can think of other fruits to use- persimmons maybe or melon?

These tarts are filled with a delicious almond cream made with almond meal. The pastry crust is not too difficult to make – you can use a food processor to ‘blitz together’ the dough and no blind baking is required. And the whole tart is finally brushed with a luscious apricot glaze- now my creative juices are really flowing!

Tip: to view photos on how to fit the dough into the tart pan and to trim it, please refer to my post Pear and Frangipane Tart with Apricot Glaze.

Fresh Raspberries

Fresh raspberries

 

Pears and Raspberries

Pears and Raspberries

 

 Peaches

Peaches

 Almond Cream Filling

Almond Cream Filling

Now it’s up to you!

 

Fruit Tart with almond cream filling
Serves 4
Have fun decorating this delicious tart with your favourite fruits!
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For the pastry dough
  1. 250 g plain flour
  2. Pinch salt
  3. 2 tbsp. sugar
  4. 125 chilled butter cubes
  5. 1 egg
  6. Extra chilled water, as required
For the almond cream
  1. 120 g softened butter
  2. 120 g sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 120 g almond meal
  5. 1 tbsp vanilla essence
For the fruit topping
  1. Any combination of your favorite fruits
For the apricot glaze
  1. 3 - 4 tablespoons of apricot jam mixed with a splash of Cointreau or water
For the pastry dough
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  2. Place the butter, salt, sugar and flour in a food processor bowl and pulse until the mixture becomes like coarse sand. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl; add the egg and stir with a large wooden spoon until the mixture becomes moist and ‘holds its shape’ when formed into a ball.
  3. If the mixture is too dry, add a little additional cold water.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead it 5 -6 times until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough ball into four equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a floured surface, leaving a margin of about 2 cm larger than the diameter your mini-tart pan.
  5. Transfer the dough to the inside of your tart pan and press it against the sides. The sides of the dough should now hang about 2 cm over the edge of each tart pan. Trim the edges of the dough by passing a rolling pin over the top of each tart pan, pulling the excess dough away. Prick the dough on the bottom of each tart pan using the end of a fork.
For the almond cream
  1. Cream together the softened butter and sugar using electric beaters. Add the egg, vanilla and almond meal and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the inside of each tart, filling it almost to the top. Place the tarts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the almond cream mixture turns light brown.
  2. To make the glaze, place the apricot jam and Cointreau (or water) in a small saucepan; heat on stovetop until the mixture becomes like a thick syrup.
  3. Let the tarts cool to room temperature then brush the tops with the apricot glaze. Decorate the tops with fruit pieces then brush the tops of the fruit with the glaze.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Fish Fillets in White Wine Sauce (Filets de Poisson Dugléré)

 

Fish Fillet

Filets de Poisson Dugléré

This is a dish that I learned at the Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris and it has a very special background. It was invented by the French chef, Adolf Dugléré (1805 – 1884) who was chef for the Rothschild family and was named the ‘Mozart of Chefs’ by Rossini. Dugléré eventually became the head chef of Café Anglais, the most famous Paris restaurant of the 19th century.

Despite its distinguished background, this dish is not too difficult to make. I recently taught this recipe to my French Cooking Class in Adelaide and everyone gave it the thumbs up (and seemed to enjoy filleting their own fish)!

Adolf Dugléré

Chef-Adolphe-Dugléré

Any fish recipe served Dugléré- style means it is cooked with diced tomatoes, onions and parsley and is topped with a delicious buttery sauce made with fish stock. You will get the best result by using real homemade fish stock,  but store-bought stock will be alright.

For my home-made fish stock, I filleted my fish (snapper) and used the bones to make the stock. The fish bones are added to a pan with water, white wine, some onion and shallots and some herbs- the stock only needs 20 minutes to cook. (For detailed instructions on how to fillet a fish, refer to my post How to Fillet a Fish- and not die trying!)

Home-made Fish Stock

Ingredients

  • Fish bones
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, flattened
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • several sprigs each of parsley and thyme
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • water

Directions

  • Fillet the fish. Chop the fish bones into several parts using a cleaver; let soak in a pan of water for several minutes to remove any impurities. (You can use the head of the fish to make the stock, but you should remove the eyes first).
  • Remove the skin from the fish and any small pin-bones from the flesh. Set the fish aside.
  • To make the fish stock, roughly chop the onion and shallots and flatten the garlic clove. Add the butter to a large saucepan and sweat these veggies until translucent. Add the fish bones, white wine, parsley and thyme to the pan; add enough water to cover the bones and the other ingredients. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes and then strain.

You now have your fresh fish stock (‘liquid gold’) ready to make the rest of the dish.

Fish Fillets in White Wine Sauce (Filets de Poisson Dugléré)

Recipe adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Sauce

  • 100 ml white wine
  • 300 – 400 ml fish stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 125 g butter
  • salt/pepper

Vegetable Garnish

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 medium or large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Directions

  • Prepare the vegetable garnish: remove the skins from the tomatoes: remove the top core of each tomato and place an ‘x’ on the bottom. Place each tomato into a pan of boiling water until the skin loosens. Remove from the pan and immediately place into a bowl of ice water to stop further cooking of the tomato. Remove the tomato skins and cut into quarters. Remove the seeds and then finely dice the tomatoes.
  • Chop finely the ½ onion and two shallots.
  • Butter a fry pan generously. Over medium heat, add the onions and shallots first to the pan, then add the tomatoes and fish pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then add the 100 ml wine on top.

Duglere tomates

 

  • When the fish stock is ready, pour this over the fish mxture, just enough to cover the fish and vegetables. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-8 minutes until the fish is cooked (do not over-cook).
  • Finish the sauce: remove the fish from the pan and cover with foil. Let the sauce reduce for 6-10 minutes, then gradually add 125 g cold butter cubes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Duglere sauce

  • To Plate: place one piece of fish in the centre of the plate, then top with some of the sauce. Sprinkle with the diced parsley.

Duglere

 

 

 

 

How to Fillet a Fish- and not die trying!

 

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/