Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Mint Leaves and Mint-Infused Ganache

 

Mint Ice Cream LR (2) Cropped

My inspiration for this post came from my recent visit to the Hillside Herb Nursery in McLaren Vale, South Australia. I had heard that this nursery is located on 4 acres of land and specialises in herbs and succulents. I was curious to learn more about herbs that I could cook with- plus I was getting a little bored with just the standard herbs sold in supermarkets. Certainly there must be more than one kind of mint I could cook with!

Yes, this visit to the herb nursery should be well-worth the 40-minute drive from my home in Brighton, South Australia.

I initially missed the turn-off to the nursery, then backtracked and drove up the small hill where I was welcomed by their sign:

Hillside Sign (2)

This nursery has been going for 30 years so it offers just about every herb under the sun (or under the shade cloth)!

IMG_7513

Which herb should I look at first? The French Lavender plant struck my eye with its colourful flowers:

IMG_7525

But it was the mint section where I spent most of my time. Did you know there are at least 20 kinds of mint herbs? The Hillside Nursery has 8 different kinds, but my favourite one was the Chocolate Mint. I tore off one of the leaves, had a taste and immediately fell in love! There is the refreshing taste of mint with a subdued undercurrent of chocolate flavour – I felt like I wanted to eat the entire bush (but decided not to)!

There are so many uses for Chocolate Mint (and other kinds of mint, as well). The simplest way to enjoy the fresh flavour of chocolate mint is to crush it and steep it in a cup of hot water – no need to add sugar. Or, you can dry the leaves and add them to cakes, brownies, ice cream and even cocktails.

But for me, I decided to make Chocolate Mint Leaves using the imprint from a ‘standard’ mint leaf to decorate some vanilla ice cream. I also used mint to make some Mint-infused Chocolate Ganache, which added a delicious undertone to the chocolate sauce. This is a very easy recipe, but your guests will think you spent hours preparing it in the kitchen!

 Mint Ice Cream Vertical LR Cropped

 The Method

First, melt some dark chocolate, then use a small brush to ‘paint’ a layer of chocolate on the underside of the mint leaf. Then place the leaves over the handle of a wooden spoon with chocolate side facing up (this helps to retain the shape of the leaves) and place in the fridge for several minutes to harden. Finally, gently peel the mint leaf away from the chocolate – I found it easiest to start from the ‘pointy’ part of the leaf and peel toward the stem.

 

Step 2: Make the Mint-infused Chocolate Ganache

Heat 100 ml of thickened cream with 1 tbsp. butter in a saucepan until the butter melts. Add 10 – 12 fresh mint leaves (not dried) and several stems to the mixture. Simmer for about 10 minutes then remove from heat and let stand for another 10 – 15 minutes until the mint flavour infuses into the ingredients. Strain the mint leaves and stems from the cream.

IMG_7575

Step 3: Combine the cream with the melted chocolate

Next, melt 200 grams of dark chocolate and combine with the cream mixture, stirring until smooth. Spoon the ganache over the ice cream and decorate with several chocolate mint leaves interspersed with real mint leaves.

 

Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Mint Leaves and Mint-Infused Canache
Vanilla ice cream decorated with lovely chocolate mint leaves and covered with a delicious chocolate mint sauce
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Ingredients
  1. Vanilla Ice Cream to serve 4
For the Chocolate Mint Leaves
  1. Dark chocolate, melted (handful)
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. 100 ml thickened cream
  2. 1 tbsp. butter
  3. 10 - 12 fresh mint leaves and several stems
  4. 200 grams (1.5 cups) dark chocolate
For the chocolate mint leaves
  1. Melt the chocolate by placing a handful of it in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or microwave on medium setting for 1 minute).
  2. Spread some melted chocolate on the underside of a mint leaf, using a small paint brush. Make sure the leaf is thoroughly covered with chocolate. Place a wooden spoon on a parchment lined baking tray. Place each chocolate-covered leaf over the handle of the wooden spoon (chocolate side facing up) to help hold its shape. Cool in fridge for 5 minutes to harden.
  3. Remove tray from fridge and gently peel the mint leaf away from the chocolate layer, starting from the 'pointy side' of the leaf. Be careful not to handle the chocolate too much or it will start to melt. Place the chocolate leaves in the fridge while preparing the ganache.
For the mint-infused ganache
  1. Combine the thickened cream with the butter; heat over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the mint leaves and several stems to the ingredients and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand for another 10 - 15 minutes until the mint flavour fully infuses into the cream. Strain the mint leaves and stems from the cream.
  2. Melt the 200 grams chocolate, then stir into the cream mixture until smooth.
  3. To serve, add vanilla ice cream to individual serving bowls. Spread some chocolate sauce on top and decorate with several chocolate mint leaves, interspersed with several fresh mint leaves.
Notes
  1. For this recipe, I used 'standard' mint leaves that you can purchase from a supermarket. However, you could use other types of mint as well, i.e. peppermint or chocolate mint.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
 

 

Braided Bread with Blueberry and Cream Cheese Filling

 

Blueberry Bread  (1 of 2) (1 of 1)

I’ve recently been reading a lot of food blogs from the northern hemisphere, welcoming in the new Spring weather with fresh new recipes. However, in Australia, we’re now moving into Autumn weather, and wouldn’t it be nice to wake up in the morning to a warm slice of Braided Bread with Blueberry and Cream Cheese Filling?

This recipe is not too difficult: rolling out a yeast dough into a rectangle shape, placing the filling in the middle, and then ‘braiding’ the side tabs into the middle of the dough.

But wait! Does this sound too complicated? Not at all! I’ve never braided bread before, and if a klutz like me can do it, so you can you!

The Method

First, make the yeast dough and then let it rise double in size. Roll the dough out into a rectangle shape and then place the cream cheese and blueberry fillings in the center of the dough.

Blueberry Bread  (1 of 3) (1 of 1)

 

Next, on a diagonal, cut the sides of the dough into tabs about one inch wide.

Blueberry Bread  (1 of 4) (1 of 1)

Now, fold one tab at a time into the center of the dough, alternating sides and making sure the tabs overlap. Press the end of each tab gently into the dough after folding.

 Blueberry Bread  (1 of 5 (1 of 1)

 Braided Bread finished - cropped

 Let the dough rise again, brush with egg wash and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. And it doesn’t matter weather you live in the northern or southern hemisphere, this bread tastes good wherever you live!

 P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

Blueberry Bread JPG

Braided Bread with Blueberry Cream Cheese Filling
Yields 2
Easy to make bread filled with a warm, gooey blueberry and cream cheese filling
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the Sponge Yeast Mixture
  1. 1 tbsp. instant yeast
  2. 1 tbsp. sugar
  3. 1/2 cup warm milk
For the Dough
  1. 1/3 cup sugar
  2. 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 4 - 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  6. 1 cup milk
For the Blueberry Filling
  1. 2 cups fresh blueberries
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1/4 cup corn flour
  4. 2 tbsp. lemon juice
For the Cream Cheese Filling
  1. 3/4 cup cream cheese
  2. 2 tbsp. sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Egg Wash
  1. 1 egg mixed with about 1 tsp water.
Instructions
  1. Add the yeast and sugar to the warm milk- lightly stir and let rest for 10 minutes while the yeast dissolves.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until smooth (either by hand or use electric beaters). Add the eggs, salt and yeast mixture and stir until smooth.
  3. Add the milk and 1 cup of the flour and mix. Gradually add the remaining flour, beating until you have a soft, but kneadable dough (beat either using wooden spoon or using dough attachment with electric mixer). If your dough is still too moist, add a little more flour.
  4. Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand for about 3 - 4 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until double in size (1 - 2 hours).
  5. While the dough is rising, prepare the blueberry and cream cheese fillings. In a saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, corn flour and lemon juice. Heat the mixture over medium heat for several minutes until it thickens and the fruit softens.
  6. In a separate bowl, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Set the fillings aside while you finish preparing the dough.
  7. After the dough has risen, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface.
  8. Cut the dough in half and roll out one section at a time into a thin rectangle about 1/8 inch thick (my rectangle wound up being 13 " wide and 9" long).
  9. Place the cream cheese and blueberry fillings in the center of the dough. On an angle, slice the sides of the dough into tabs about 1 inch wide.
  10. Alternating from side to side, fold the tabs one at a time over the filling, over-lapping the tabs. Gently press on the tabs to seal the folds. When finished 'braiding' the tabs, cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again for about 45 minutes. While dough is rising, pre-heat oven at 350 F.
  11. After rising, brush the dough with egg wash and bake in the oven at 350 F for about 25 - 30 minutes until the dough is golden in color.
Notes
  1. Halve the recipe if you only wish to make 1 loaf of the braided bread. You can substitute other fruit fillings for the blueberries, such as apples and cinnamon.
Adapted from The Fresh Loaf
Adapted from The Fresh Loaf
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Smoky Chipotle Eggs Baked in a Skillet

Chipoptle Eggs

I really like ordering eggs at American coffee shops and restaurants. The waitress comes over and asks, “How would you like your eggs cooked, Hun – over easy, over medium, over hard, sunny side up, hard-boiled or scrambled?”

“How about poached, I ask?”

“No worries, poached eggs comin’ right up!”

I’m always amazed at the number of ways you can have your eggs prepared in the U.S. On the other hand, in some other countries we’ve been to, if you say you want your eggs sunny side up, you may get a look bordering on constipation, or if you step over the line and say you want them poached, you may even get run out of the restaurant!

All kidding aside, there’s one more way you can prepare eggs: baked in a skillet on a bed of tomatoes and red beans and flavored with a smoky chipotle sauce. This dish takes less than 30 minutes to prepare but the delicious taste will remain in your mouth long afterwards!

The key ingredient that gives this dish so much zing is the chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce (in a can). The chipotle pepper is a Jalapeño pepper that has been smoked. If you can’t find this product in the supermarket or specialty store, you can just use chili powder. But remember, only use a small amount of the chipotle pepper (I used 1/2 pepper) or you may be running to the nearest fire hydrant to cool your mouth!

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The Method

First, cook the onions and garlic in oil until soft. Then add the tomatoes, red beans, chipotle pepper, malt vinegar, thyme and salt.

Chipoptle Eggs 2

Next, add the grated cheese, then crack the eggs over the mixture, spreading them evenly:

Chipoptle Eggs 3

Then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

By the way, the next time you want to order eggs at a restaurant, try asking for Eggs cooked in Chipotle sauce- they might even say, “Sure, comin’ right up!”

 P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

Smoky Chipotle Eggs Baked in a Skillet
Serves 4
Eggs baked with beans in a smoky chipotle sauce - it will be on your dinner table in less than 30 minutes!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 onion, diced
  2. 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  3. 1 tbsp. olive oil
  4. 2 cups chopped stewed tomatoes
  5. 1 cup red pinto beans (canned)
  6. 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (canned)
  7. 2 tbsp. malt vinegar
  8. 1 tsp dried thyme
  9. salt to taste
  10. 3/4 cup grated cheese
  11. 5 - 6 eggs
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360 F (180 C).
  2. Add olive oil to skillet; sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, red beans, 1/2 chipotle pepper and malt vinegar to the pan and simmer for several minutes. Add the thyme and salt to taste.
  4. Spread the grated cheese on top of the ingredients, then crack 5 - 6 eggs into the pan, spacing them evenly.
  5. Bake for around 15 minutes until the eggs are cooked. If you like the eggs softer, cook for less time.
  6. Serve on individual plates with toasted bread.
Notes
  1. You can use canned chopped tomatoes, but I used fresh tomatoes that I stewed myself.
  2. The canned 'Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce' can usually be found at supermarkets or in specialty stores - use chili powder if you can't find the chipotle peppers.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Julia Child’s Boned Duck Baked in Pastry

 

Duck Duck in Pastry LR

One of my blogger friends once reminded me that blogging should be about sharing, not showing off. I try to follow her advice, but I’m afraid that this post might be edging over a little into showing off.

I recently saw the film Julie and Julia again on TV – I really like this movie; perhaps it’s because of the nostalgia created by the movie sets of an old Paris, perhaps because it has Meryl Streep in it. Anyway, I noticed that the last dish that ‘Julie’ had to make was a fully boned duck, stuffed and baked in a fancy pastry crust – Pâté de Canard en Croûte. This dish was a major achievement for her – not only it was the last of the 365 dishes she had to create over the year, but she had to overcome the hurdle of preparing a complicated dish.

I, too, then decided to leap to the challenge of making Canard en Croûte. At first, I thought this dish might be too ‘fiddly’, but then again it would be good practice for me- in three months I’m off again to Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris to do the advanced cuisine course!

Was this dish worth it? Was it worth the many hours spent in the kitchen and dropping my knife several times on my foot? Read to the end of this post and see!

The first steps to making the dish involve removing all the bones of the duck, leaving the skin in tact. It’s important to start with a positive ‘can-do’ attitude- remember that you are master of the duck!

JC with duck

 

To bone the duck, start with the back of the duck facing upwards. First you cut a deep slit down one side of the backbone (going from neck to tail), pulling the flesh away from the carcass using your fingers.

 

First cut down one side of back bone

First cut down one side of back bone

 As your knife reaches the ball joint of the thigh, you find that you’ve hit a roadblock. You now need to sever or ‘snap’ the joint using your fingers and you can now slice to the end of the backbone.

Snap tendon at thigh ball joint

Snap tendon at thigh ball joint

Continue cutting to bottom of duck

Continue cutting to bottom of duck

Now repeat this process on the other side of the back bone. You will now see a fully exposed back bone with the ribs attached- cut away this part of the carcass to tidy things up and make it more manageable to handle the remaining carcass.

Next you cut very close to the ridge of the breastbone to free the carcass, being careful not to cut the skin. Once the carcass is fully released, you’re not done yet! There are still the bones to remove from the wings and thighs. To remove the bone from the thighs, scrape the meat from the bone going from the ball joint to the tip of the thigh. Repeat with the wings.

Scrape meet from drum sticks and wings to remove bones

Scrape meet from drum sticks and wings to remove bones

At some point, Julia warns us that the whole duck carcass with dangling legs, etc will appear to be an unrecognizable mass of confusion and therefore we should not  be overcome with fright. Several times, I had to remind myself to put on my ‘Julia hat’ and fill myself with confidence. Yes, I can bone six ducks if I wanted to!

JC with many ducks

After boning the duck, you are left with an empty ‘duck suit,’ ready to be stuffed, then rolled and stitched up into a loaf shape.

Fully boned duck

Fully boned duck

Add stuffing to center of duck

Add stuffing to center of duck

 

Fold sides together, stitch up back opening and tie together into loaf

Fold sides together, stitch up back opening and tie together into loaf

Next, you brown the duck in oil on the stovetop. Prepare a chilled pastry dough and roll 2/3 of it out into an oval shape (1/8 inches thick). Place the browned duck on top of the dough with the breast side facing up and bring the pastry up around the duck, patting it into place.

Cover duck bottom with pastry

Cover duck bottom with pastry

Roll out the remaining pastry into an oval shape and place it on top of the duck. Brush pastry top with egg wash. Cut out small pastry decorations using a cookie cutter, using back of knife to press fan-shaped lines into them. Coat them also with the egg wash. Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours at 350 F (180 C). Julia recommends serving the dish chilled, but you can also serve it hot.

Uncooked Duck Pastry

Before serving, you’ll need to lift the top crust off and remove the duck, to cut all of the trussings. Place the duck back into the pastry to serve.

Bake and enjoy!

Bake and enjoy!

 But was it worth it?

Julia Child gave people the confidence to toss out their TV dinners and to get into the kitchen to cook- even complicated things like Pâté de Canard en Croûte. I accepted the challenge and happily succeeded! This dish is indeed an impressive sight when you bring it to the dinner table! So, yes, it was worth it.

But bones are what give meat dishes their juicy flavor – so why remove them? And there are other duck dishes that are more delicious and simpler to prepare (see my Duck Breast in Orange Sauce). So, yes, with this dish Canard en Croûte, I admit I was showing off a bit, but probably I won’t be doing it again! It will be back to my ‘blogging is sharing’ once more.

 

5.0 from 3 reviews

Boned Duck Baked in Pastry
 
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 duck
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 tbsp. cognac
  • 2 tbsp. port
  • For the stuffing
  • ½ cup mined onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup port or cognac
  • 1½ cups each minced pork and veal
  • 1 cup minced pork fat
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • t tbsp orange zest
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • For the pastry dough
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups chilled butter, cubed
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • about ½ cup cold water

Instructions
  1. Cut the wings of the duck at the first joint and bone the duck as per the instructions (above). Lay the bird skin-side down on a cutting board. Slice off some of the thickest parts of the meat from the duck breast and thigh meat and cut into cubes. Place the cubes back onto the duck, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the cognac and port. Roll the duck up and place in fridge while preparing the pastry and stuffing.
  2. For the stuffing, cook the diced onion and garlic slowly in butter until they are tender and translucent. Transfer to large mixing bowl and add the port and cognac, minced pork, veal and pork fat. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, orange zest and chopped walnuts and mix well.
  3. To prepare the dough, place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the chilled, cubed butter; rub the flour and butter together between the palms of your hands until it resembles fine sand. Add the eggs and mix with a wooden spoon. Add enough cold water so the dough easily holds it shape when formed into a ball. Turn the dough mixture out onto your work surface and knead several times until the dough forms a cohesive ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the duck from the fridge. Place the duck skin-side facing down on a work surface. Place enough stuffing inside the duck to cover the center part. Fold both sides inward toward the center and stitch up the opening using kitchen string and a trussing needle. Wrap and tie the string around the duck in 4 – 5 places to hold it together while cooking.
  5. Remove dough from fridge. Roll out ⅔ of the dough into an oval shape on a floured surface. Place the trussed duck on top of the dough, with the breast side facing up. Bring the edges of the dough up around the duck and pat into place. Roll out the remaining dough into an oval shape and place on top of the bottom crust. Pinch or press the edges of the top and bottom crusts together. Brush the top crust with an egg wash. Roll out the remaining pastry dough and cut out small round or oval shapes using a cookie cutter. Use the back of a knife to press fan-shaped lines into them. Decorate the top crust with these shapes. Brush the entire top crust and pastry decorations with egg wash. Place a foil funnel or piping nozzle in the center of the pastry to let out steam during baking.
  6. Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours at 180 C or 360 F. Remove from oven and let cool. Lift the top crust gently off and lift out the duck. Cut off the trussings, place the duck back inside the pastry and replace the top crust. Serve either cold or warm.

Shiraz and Lamb Pie

  Lamb Pie LR Final


♪ Zip-a-dee-do-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay! ♪♪

Sheep photo

This is how I feel when I eat lamb – I love the rich, gamey taste. But, I love it even better when I add it to a pie and flavour it with a full-bodied red wine and some diced vegetables!

So here is my recipe for Shiraz and Lamb Pie – made with puff pastry and lamb that has been slow-cooked in red wine and stock until the meat ‘falls apart.’ For my pie, I used Shiraz wine, made from the dark-skinned Syrah grape. Originally from France, this grape is now grown globally and is especially popular in Australia.

This wine is called Syrah in some parts of the world, but it’s the Australians that popularised the name Shiraz. (Leave it to the Aussies to come up with interesting names for things; i.e. chickens are called ‘chooks’ and breakfast is ‘brekkie’). Whatever you call it, this dish is high up on the list of comfort foods!

For those of you wondering what ‘Zip-a dee-do-dah’ is, I’ve attached a ‘feel-good’ YouTube video at the end of this blog for you to look at!

 Shiraz Pie LR 2

5.0 from 2 reviews

Shiraz and Lamb Pie
 
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 500 g (1.1 lb) diced leg of lamb
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 onion and 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 500 ml (2 cups) beef stock
  • 375 ml Shiraz or other red wine
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 – 8 fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup green peas (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Dust the chopped lamb pieces in some flour and shake to remove the excess.
  2. Heat several tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Brown the lamb pieces over medium high heat on the stove top for several minutes. Transfer to a dish.
  3. Add the diced onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the Dutch Oven (or pot) and cook until tender (3 – 4 minutes). Add lamb pieces back into the pot with the veggies, then add the wine and beef stock, thyme and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a soft boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let simmer on low heat for 1.5 – 2 hours or until the meat falls apart and is easy to shred. If necessary, add more stock to the pot to ensure the ingredients are fully covered by the cooking liquid.
  4. About 10 minutes before the lamb is fully cooked, add the sliced mushrooms and peas (optional) to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Strain the meat and veggies from the cooking liquid. Separate the meat from the veggies and shred it using a fork to ‘mash’ the meat fibers.
  6. Place the shredded lamb and cooked veggies into a pie or casserole dish, filling the dish almost to the top.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C (360 F).
  8. Return the cooking liquid to the stovetop and let simmer until the sauce reduces to about ¾ of the original volume. If required, add a bit of cornflour paste to the liquid to thicken it further. Add the sauce on top of the lamb mixture.
  9. Remove the frozen puff pastry sheet from the freezer and let it thaw for several minutes. Then place it on top of the pie or casserole dish (containing the lamb mixture). If necessary, trim the outer edges of the pie so that the pastry fits neatly around the rim of the dish. Brush the dough lightly with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a little water).
  10. Cook for 30 minutes or until the crust turns a golden brown.

 

Chocolate Easter Eggs with Caramel Filling

 Egg Open

Chocolate Easter Eggs with Caramel Filling – easy to make and even easier to eat!

As a child, I used to love having Easter egg hunts. My Dad would go out and hide the eggs on the front lawn area while us children would wait inside the house. No preliminary peeking was allowed, lest we find out ahead of time where the precious eggs were hidden.

We often dyed our own eggs – first hard boiling them, then dipping them in various dyes. Once, I bit into one of my prize eggs and found it to be quite runny- obviously we hadn’t perfected our egg-dying technique yet. Sometimes, while pottering in the garden, we would find an egg a year later that had been missed – we wouldn’t dare eat it but it was still fun finding the odd egg or two that had been neglected for such a long time.

As an adult, I grew away from Easter eggs but then came back to them when our two children were young. They, too, loved Easter egg hunts and receiving baskets filled with the decorative eggs. Unbeknownst to them, I would sometimes raid their Easter baskets, heading right for the chocolate ones. But I was so disappointed when I bit into a  hollow chocolate egg. “Where is the caramel filling? Where is the crunchy hazelnut filling?” I would cry.

So, this recipe is dedicated to those who love chocolate Easter eggs, not the boring hollow kind, but those that have those wonderful, creamy fillings.

Summary of the Steps (see detailed recipe below)

  •  First, melt the chocolate either in the microwave oven or by placing a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Then pour the chocolate into the egg mold, filling it about 1/3 full. (I used three different kinds of chocolate – dark, milk and also white chocolate). Spread a thin layer of chocolate around the mold using the back of a small spoon.

IMG_7200

  •  Place the molds in the fridge to set – only takes several minutes. Then gently remove the chocolate by pushing the chocolate upward from underneath the mold – should lift out easily without having to use a knife.

IMG_7202

  • Next, prepare the caramel filling, then let cool. Now pour the filling into each egg half, filling about 3/4 full.

IMG_7238

  • Close the two egg halves together. In order to close up the seam between the two halves, rub some melted chocolate along the seam, using your finger. You are now ready to enjoy your caramel-filled chocolate egg!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

Egg Blog re-sized

5.0 from 2 reviews

Chocolate Easter Eggs with Caramel Filling
 
Chocolate Easter eggs filled with a salted-caramel sauce – you won’t be bored!
Ingredients
  • 250 g chocolate
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ cup thickened cream
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, cubed
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate pieces in a plastic bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave oven (low setting).
  2. Pour the chocolate into each mold, filling it to about ⅓ full. Spread the chocolate around the inside of each mold, using the back of a small spoon. Set in the fridge for several minutes until set.
  3. Gently remove the chocolate from each mold by pushing the chocolate up from underneath the mold.
  4. Prepare the caramel filling:
  5. Combine the sugar and water together in a saucepan. Stir over high heat until the mixture boils, then lower heat and stir until the mixture starts to turn brown.
  6. Add the butter cubes a little at a time, stirring frequently until the sauce starts to thicken. Be careful that the mixture does not boil or the butter will ‘split.’
  7. As the sauce thickens, gradually add the cream and the salt. Continue to stir for several more minutes until the sauce continues to thicken.
  8. Remove from heat to cool then place in fridge for several hours until sauce thickens even more.
  9. Remove from fridge and fill each chocolate egg half with the caramel sauce.
  10. Press the two halves together. To close the seam, rub a little melted chocolate over it, using your finger.

 

5 Salads in 5 Days: Pizza with Lemon-marinated Sashimi Tuna Slices

Pizza Salad 3 This is the last day of my series ’5 Salads in 5 Days’ where I have posted 5 different salads over 5 consecutive days. I must say that I have lots of salads backed up in my fridge – enough to last for one week!

My previous 4 salads were Warms Goat’s Cheese Salad, Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad, Sweet Potato and Fig Salad with Balsamic Glaze and Salmon Salad with Avocado and Shrimp.

Today’s post is Pizza with Lemon-marinated Sashimi Tuna Slices. Do I hear you ask, “Is that a pizza or a salad?”   Well, this dish can be both! Place some pizza slices on a platter or cutting board with some salad greens, and you can have your cake (I mean pizza) and eat it too!

This pizza is topped with olives, slow-cooked onions and delicious marinated sashimi tuna slices. Grab a piece while you can and don’t forget the salad greens!

Pizza Salad 2

5.0 from 1 reviews

5 Salads in 5 Days: Pizza Salad with Sashimi Tuna Slices
 
Part pizza and part salad, you’ll love the lemon- marinated sashimi nestled on top of a pizza base covered in soft onions and a few sardines.
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • For the Pizza:
  • 10 g dry yeast
  • 60 g warm water
  • 200 g flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 5 g sugar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • about 20 black olives, pitted and sliced in half
  • small jar of anchovies (optional)
  • For the lemon vinaigrette marinade:
  • 50 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml peanut or vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • For the garnish:
  • ~ 300 g of sashimi grade tuna, sliced thinly
  • Mixed salad greens, including some water cress

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 C (380 F).
  2. Prepare the pizza base: dissolve the yeast in 60 ml of warm water. Add flour to a mixing bowl, add the salt, sugar, egg and olive oil and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the yeast mixture and stir until smooth.
  3. Turn the dough out onto the benchtop, knead several times and form into a ball using your hands. Place dough back into mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the lemon vinaigrette: combine the lemon juice, oils, Dijon mustard and salt/pepper. Slice the sashimi-grade raw tuna into thin slices and marinate in the vinaigrette for at least 15 minutes. Now cook the sliced onions in 3 tbsp oil on the stovetop until soft and set aside.
  5. When the dough has risen, place it onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangular shape, about ¼ inch thick and 6 – 7 inches wide. Brush the dough with olive oil and spread the onion mixture on top of the dough. Add the chopped olives and anchovy pieces (optional) on top of the dough and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until the dough is a light brown color.
  6. Remove pizza from oven, add the tuna slices and anchovies on top of the pizza and drizzle with a little olive oil. Slice into pieces about 3 inches wide, arrange the pieces on a platter or wooden cutting board and garnish with various salad greens (I used pieces of watercress and some cos lettuce pieces).

5 Salads in 5 Days: Salmon Mousse with Avocado and Shrimp

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Day 4 of my ’5 Salads in 5 Days’ series 

Yes, it’s day 4 and only one more day to go! In case you missed my other 3 salad posts, you can find them here: Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad with Pears and Walnuts, Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad and Roasted Sweet Potato and Fig Salad with Balsamic Glaze.

What salad do you think I’m going to post tomorrow – it’s a surprise!!

This salad has different tastes and textures: the creamy softness of the salmon mousse, the crispness of the shrimp, the slight tanginess of the avocado and salad greens glazed with the vinaigrette dressing. What are you waiting for - dive in!

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5 Salads in 5 Days: Salmon Mousse with Avocado and Shrimp
 
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 220 g fresh uncooked salmon pieces
  • ½ cup hot chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. gelatine powder
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cream
  • For the vinaigrette dressing:
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 9 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 Avocados, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Mixed lettuce greens to serve 4
  • 24 shrimp pieces, tails left on
  • salt/pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. (360 F.)
  2. Drizzle the salmon pieces with a little lemon, wrap in foil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the flesh turns light pink. Remove and let cool.
  3. Dissolve the gelatine powder in the hot chicken stock. Add this mixture to a blender, along with the salmon pieces, shallots, mayonnaise, lemon juice and salt/pepper. Blend for 1 minute, add the cream and blend for another 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the mixture into 4 lightly- oiled ramekins or small dishes. Place in the fridge until set (1 – 2 hours approximate).
  5. In the meantime, prepare the vinaigrette dressing: combine the oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt/pepper.
  6. Peel the avocados and slice into thin pieces. Coat with some of the vinaigrette dressing.
  7. Toss the remaining dressing into a bowl with the mixed salad greens.
  8. When ready to serve, place a small amount of the salad greens onto an individual salad plate. Turn out each mousse onto the bed of lettuce. Arrange the avocado slices in a circle pattern on top of the mousse, place several shrimp pieces inside the circle and arrange a few more shrimp around the edge of the plate. Sprinkle the whole salad with a little freshly ground pepper.

5 Salads in 5 Days: Roasted Sweet Potato and Fig Salad with Balsamic Glaze

 

Fig Sweet Potato Salad

This is Day 3 of my ’5 Salads in 5 Days’ series (Day 1 was Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad and Day 2 was Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad)

Figs leaves were used to cover up the (ahem) private parts of Adam and Eve, but I believe I’ve got a better use for them - add them to a salad with roasted sweet potato wedges and dressed with a balsamic glaze. (I’m talking about using the fruit of the fig, of course, not the fig leaf).

Looking back on my childhood, I associated figs with Fig Newton cookies and I must admit I was more fond of laying into a Hostess Twinkie than into a Fig Newton. But figs are my hero in this salad: their plump ripeness goes well with the slight tartness of the balsamic reduction and the roasted sweet potato wedges.

And, oh, I believe that Cleopatra was also fond of figs ….

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5 Salads in 5 Days: Roasted Sweet Potato and Fig Salad with Balsamic Glaze
 
Roasted sweet potatoes resting on a bed of greens with plump ripe figs, and dressed with a balsamic glaze
Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato (~ 400 kg)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (to coat sweet potato)
  • Salt/pepper
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 red chili, sliced thinly
  • 3 ripe figs, quartered
  • 150 g soft goat’s cheese (optional)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fine sugar
  • Salad Greens

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).
  2. Cut the sweet potato into wedges about ½ inch wide. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place wedges skin-side down on baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes, or until soft but still firm. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Halve the spring onions lengthwise then cut into 1.5 inch segments. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in small saucepan, add the spring onion and chili slices and cook for several minutes until vegetables are soft.
  4. To prepare the balsamic glaze, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar together in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes until the liquid thickens (but should be runnier than honey).
  5. To finish, place the salad greens on a platter and arrange the sweet potato pieces on top. Next, spoon the spring onion and chili pieces over the sweet potatoes. Arrange the fig pieces among the potato wedges and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Sprinkle the crumbled goat’s cheese around the platter before serving.

5 Salads in 5 Days: Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad

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Well, this is Day 2 of my ’5 Salads in 5 Days’ marathon. Yesterday, I posted Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad with Pears and Walnuts, a French dish influenced by the cheeses served in the Loire Valley. My kitchen has been all but turned upside down, trying to prepare and photograph five different salads within five consecutive days.

Today’s salad is a Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad, a colourful salad great to serve at Barbeques or at family gatherings. This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Jerusalem, written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. The authors point out that it is impossible to define one style of ‘Jerusalem food’ since the region consists of a huge tapestry of cultures: Jews, Arabs, Christians, Greek and Russian Orthodox, etc.

However, one thing that is common in Jerusalem is the frequent use of olive oil, lemon juice and olives in cooking, as well as pastries stuffed with all sorts of cheeses. But a real eye opener for me was the comment that “food seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place.” It is the one thing that brings people together, not only in Jerusalem but the whole world as well.

With this thought in mind, let us turn to the Mediterranean influenced Mixed Bean Salad. This recipe goes beyond the usual bean salad with its rich blend of herbs and spices, such as cumin and coriander seeds, as well as fresh tarragon.

This salad has many colours – many textures – just like Jerusalem!

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5 Salads in 5 Days: Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad
 
A refreshing mixed bean salad with a Mediterranean influence
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 280 g (10 oz) green beans, trimmed
  • 280 g (10 oz) yellow beans, trimmed
  • 1 large red pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 – 6 tbsp. capers (optional)
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 g (1/3 cup) chopped tarragon
  • 20 g (2/3 cup) flat leaf parsley (or mixture of parsley and corander)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • For the lemon vinaigrette dressing
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (360 F).
  2. Fill large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil; add the green and yellow beans, reduce heat and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until beans are cooked but still a bit crunchy. Refresh the beans by soaking briefly in ice-cold water, drain and pat dry and place in large mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the red pepper into quarters and rub well with olive oil. Place the peppers in oven with skin-side facing up. Bake for several minutes until the peppers become tender, remove from oven and slice into thin strips. Add peppers to bowl with the cooked beans.
  4. Prepare the lemon dressing: whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt/pepper. Add the dressing to the beans and red peppers and toss.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan or skillet, add the minced garlic, cumin coriander seeds and capers. Cook for several minutes then add to the mixing bowl containing the beans and red pepper,
  6. Slice the spring onion into pieces about 1 inch long, then slice again lengthwise. Add to the bean mixture, along with the tarragon, parsley, lemon zest and salt/pepper.
  7. Toss well and serve at room temperature.