Darwin Chili Mud Crab

Mud Crab

As my plane landed in Darwin on a recent holiday, I couldn’t wait to try making one of the local traditional recipes: Chili Mud Crab. Mud crabs (called “muddies” by locals) are found in the estuaries and mangroves of the Northern Territory and are known for their huge claws, which produce ‘bucket loads’ of tasty meat. The crab that I used for my dish weighed about 2.6 pounds (1.2 kgs). 

Crab

Darwin’s food is highly influenced by Asian flavors due to its proximity to Southeast Asia, therefore giving birth to dishes such as Chili Mud Crab. One interesting fact: during the gold rush of the 1880’s, there were more Chinese living in the Northern Territory than European-born people!

To prepare your Chili Mud Crab (you could also use Blue Swimmer or Dungeness crabs) , you first need to remove the legs and claws from the crab’s body, then crack the claws open at several places to make it easier to eat the meat later on.

Remove legs and claws from crab’s body

Crab (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

Next, place your thumb underneath the triangular-shaped abdominal flap and lift off the bottom part of the crab’s body. You will now see the crab’s spongy lungs; remove these and any of the ‘gooey’ roe.

Remove the spongy lungs from the body

Crab (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

Chop the crab’s body into four sections using a cleaver. Then, chop the onion, chili, garlic and ginger and you’re now ready to assemble the dish in a wok or large pot.

Crab (4 of 4) (1 of 1)

For the final assembly, sauté the veggies in hot oil in the wok or pot, then add the tomato purée, chili sauce and white wine. Pop the crab pieces into the wok, cover with a lid for about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat until the meat is cooked and the crab shells turn red. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) and prepare to get your fingers a little dirty as you eat!

Crab

I loved visiting Darwin with the balmy tropical air, the Asian influences and the proximity to national parks such as Kakadu and Litchfield. I was sad to leave Darwin and the beautiful sunsets, however I will return again one day to make more dishes using their wonderful mud crabs!

Darwin Sunset

Darwin Sunset

Chili Mud Crab
Huge chunks of luscious crab meat cooked with an Asian influence
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Mud Crab, segmented (or other type of fresh, uncooked crab)
  2. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, diced
  5. 2 tbsp ginger, diced
  6. 1 red chili, seeded and diced
  7. 2 cups (500 ml) tomato purée (passata)
  8. 3-4 tbsp chili sauce
  9. ¼ cup white wine
  10. Coriander (cilantro)
Instructions
  1. Separate the crab into pieces; first remove the claws and legs of the crab by twisting and pulling them from the crab’s body. Using a cleaver, separate the claws at the elbow joint then crack them open in several places to reveal the meat.
  2. Lift the abdominal flap on the underside to open the crab’s body; remove the ‘spongy’ lungs and clean the roe from the shell. Using a cleaver, chop the body into quarters. Set all body parts aside.
  3. Set the wok or large pot over high heat; add the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and chili several minutes until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato purée, chilli sauce and white wine; let simmer for several minutes. Add the crab pieces and turn with a spatula until all pieces are fully coated with the sauce. Cover with a lid and let cook for at least ten minutes until the crab meat is fully cooked and infused with the chili sauce. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) - goes well served on a bed of rice.
Notes
  1. Adjust the seasoning to your individual taste- if you like more heat, add more chili or chili sauce to your liking.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mango and Banana Caramel Tart

 

Tart 10

I could smell the caramel a mile away when making this recipe. This tart has a calypso feel to it- tropical mangoes and bananas steeped in a rich caramel sauce, then ‘baptized’ in a splash of rum and nutmeg and then anchored in a flaky buttery crust. I’m already howling for more!

I came across this recipe while reading a food magazine near Portland, Victoria in Australia. We had just returned from a ½ mile walk to see a colony of seals and a kangaroo had bolted across our path on our return back. What a great way to finish the day- a close encounter with seals, a kangaroo and now a delicious caramel tart recipe!

The recipe is pretty easy. First, you heat sugar and butter in a fry pan to make a caramel flavored with rum, nutmeg and vanilla bean, then let the mangoes and bananas simmer in the sauce until soft.

Then roll out a pastry dough and place it on top of the caramel mixture- bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Final step- place a serving plate on top and then invert the tart onto the plate. Serve warm, plain or with a scoop of ice cream.

THE PARTY

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Mango and Banana Caramel Tart
Serves 6
This recipe is like a 'Tarte Tatin' but made with mangoes, bananas and a touch of rum.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Pastry
  1. 1 1/2 cup flour
  2. 2 tbsp sugar
  3. Pinch salt
  4. ¾ cup cold butter, cubed
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 tbsp iced water
Tart Filling
  1. ½ cup caster sugar
  2. 3 tbsp butter
  3. 2 mangoes, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  4. 1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped
  5. 1 tbsp dark rum
  6. Pinch nutmeg
  7. 2 bananas, halved, sliced lengthwise
For the Pastry
  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture. Rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the egg; mix well with spoon or spatula. Add the iced water and continue to mix; turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until mixture holds its shape. Form into ball, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for one hour.
For the Tart filling
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Place the sugar and butter in an oven-proof fry pan (about 9 inches wide). Over high heat, occasionally shake the pan until the mixture starts to bubble and turn brown, forming a caramel. This should take about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the mango, vanilla bean, rum and nutmeg; reduce the heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and the mango caramelises. Add the banana slices and cook for another 5 minutes, turning the bananas gently to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick, then shape the dough so that it is 1 inch wider than the diameter of the fry pan.
  4. Lay the dough over the fruit mixture in the pan and tuck the ends under a bit. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Place a serving plate over the fry pan and invert the tart onto the plate. Serve warm plain or with ice cream.
Adapted from Feast Magazine
Adapted from Feast Magazine
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Tagine

Three years ago I bought a tagine, mainly to be used as a photographic prop. It sat in storage for several years, until I decided to take it out to cook a Moroccan chicken stew. Now I am absolutely hooked- I’ve been cooking lots of stews in them, including lamb, chicken, beef and fish. The conical lid of the tagine allows the steam to rise to the top and then fall back down and circulate along the bottom, locking in the moisture and flavors. No pre-heating of the oven is required- just place your tagine on low heat and the cooking takes care of itself.

Most traditional tagines are made of clay and are not designed to be cooked on top of a modern gas or electric stove, unless used with a diffuser. However, some companies like Emile Henry make glazed ‘flame top ceramic’ tagines that can be used directly on an electric or gas hob.

Émile Henry Tagine- can work directly on electric or gas stove top

Emile Henry tagine

My recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives uses a chermoula marinade flavored with preserved lemons, ginger, cumin, ginger and saffron threads. Green olives, chopped potatoes and tomatoes are then added to the base, creating delicious Morrocan flavors! You’ll only need a small amount of liquid to cook your tagine stew; after a few minutes you’ll start to hear your tagine start to bubble away, but no peeking! It’s best to keep the lid on during the cooking.

It took me three tries to get this recipe perfect. The first time, my husband said that this “was not his favorite dish.” At first, he said there was too much lemon taste (I then cut back on the amount of preserved lemon). He also said the taste was a “bit too bland” (I then added a bit more chili and ginger) and I later decided to brown the chicken beforehand to caramalize and lock in the flavors of the meat. On the third try, he said the dish was great and he went back for seconds. It’s great to have a resident taste-tester available!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

 

 

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives
Serves 5
Chicken marinated with delicious Moroccan flavors and slow-cooked in a Tagine
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
For the Chermoula Marinade
  1. 2 diced garlic cloves
  2. ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and finely sliced
  3. 1 shallot bulb, diced
  4. ½ red chilli
  5. 1 tbsp diced ginger
  6. 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  7. 1 tbsp ground cumin
  8. 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  9. 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  10. Pinch of safftron threads soaked in a little water
  11. ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
  12. Salt
Main Ingredients
  1. 5-6 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks with bone in)
  2. 2 tomatoes (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  3. 2 medium onions (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  4. 2 potatoes
  5. 10-12 pitted green olives
  6. 1 cup (250 ml) water combined with the remaining marinade
Garnish
  1. Chopped coriander
  2. ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and cut into thin strips
Instructions
  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Rub ½ of the marinade on the chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours (longer if possible).
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown in a separate fry pan, using several tablespoons of olive oil. Drain the pieces on kitchen paper and set aside. Chop one tomato and one onion and spread the mixture over the base of the tagine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the base). Place the chicken pieces on top.
  3. Cut the potatoes into wedges and arrange around the chicken. Top with the remaining sliced tomato and sliced onion and then push the olives into the gaps. Combine the water with the remaining marinade and pour over the mixture. Decorate with the preserved lemon strips.
  4. Cover the tagine with the lid and cook over very low heat for one hour. Do not lift the lid or stir during the cooking. Garnish the dish with some chopped coriander; serve with couscous or rice.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mussel Saffron Soup

Mussell (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

I really like cooking with mussels because you can get that real seafood experience  without the usual hassles of removing fish bones and skin. And it only takes about 5 minutes to cook the mussels on the stove top- full of flavor but so easy to make!

Living in South Australia for part of the year, I’m lucky to have access to wonderful mussels and oysters from the Port Lincoln area, located on the Boston Bay.

Boston Bay, South Australia

Boston Bay

Boston Bay Mussels

Mussels are ‘filter-feeders’, which means they filter organic matter from the surrounding sea waters. They are very high in iron, protein and omega 3 vitamins. Most mussel recipes caution you to discard any mussels whose shells have not opened after cooking. ‘Murray the Mussel‘ from this little video clip shows you this is a myth!

 

My recipe for Mussel Saffron Soup has a white wine and chicken stock base, flavored with a bit of curry powder and saffron. Mussel broth can become quite salty, so I use some cream to cut the salty taste. Garnished with some chopped parsley, this makes a quick tasty dish for lunch or dinner!

Mussel Saffron Soup
Serves 3
Tender mussels served in a slightly spiced white wine broth.
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Cooking liquid for the mussels
  1. 1 kg (2.2 lbs) mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  2. Olive oil/butter
  3. 2 shallots, finely chopped
  4. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  5. 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  6. 1 leek, white part- chopped
  7. 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  8. Thyme/bay leaf
  9. 1 tsp curry powder
  10. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  11. 3 cups dry white wine
  12. 2 cups fish or chicken stock
Thickening and finish
  1. ½ cup thickened cream
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. Saffron threads- a ‘pinch’
  4. Chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Soften the shallots, garlic, celery and leeks in a little oil and butter on the stovetop.
  2. Add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, curry powder and cayenne powder, white wine and stock. Add the cleaned mussels, place the lid on the saucepan and cook several minutes until the mussel shells open.
  3. Remove the mussels from the pan. Pass the remaining liquid broth through a strainer.
  4. Reduce the mussel cooking broth by about 1/3, then add the saffron threads. Combine the egg yolks with the cream in a separate small bowl, then gradually stir the mixture into the broth to thicken. Pass through a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Remove the meat from the mussels, retaining some in their shells to garnish the soup. To plate, place the mussel meat on the bottom of a serving bowl, cover with the hot broth and garnish with several mussels in their shells. Garnish with some finely chopped parsley.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
 

Banana Cupcakes with Butter Cream Icing

 

What to do with a batch of over-ripe bananas that have been sitting on the counter for way too long? Why, use them to make some banana cupcakes, of course! And adding the butter cream icing on top makes them even more delicious.

I recently finished my course in ‘US Foreign Policy’ at Flinders University in Adelaide; after sweating through the exam, I no longer have to think about concepts such as the Cold War or ‘communist containment’- thank goodness I can comfort myself with these banana cupcakes instead!

Banana Cupcakes with Butter Cream Icing
Yields 9
Cupcakes flavored with real banana pulp and topped with a delicious butter cream icing.
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
40 min
For the Banana Cupcakes
  1. ½ cup sugar
  2. ¼ cup (60 g) softened butter
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. ½ cup mashed banana pulp
  5. 1 ¼ cup white flour
  6. 1 tbsp baking powder
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. Sprinkle of cinnamon powder
  9. 1 tbsp poppy seeds or chia seeds (optional)
  10. ½ cup milk
For the Butter Cream Icing
  1. ½ cup (125 g) softened butter
  2. 1 ½ cup icing sugar
  3. 2 tbsp milk
  4. 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cream together the sugar and softened butter using electric beaters. Add the egg yolks and banana pulp and continue to beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds and cinnamon. Add this dry mixture to the banana pulp/egg mixture, then add the milk and combine all ingredients using electric beaters.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with patty pan (cupcake) liners. Fill each liner ¾ full with the cupcake mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on top. Let cool while preparing the icing.
For the icing
  1. Combine the softened butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl; mix using electric beaters until smooth. Place mixture in a piping bag and pipe onto each cupcake. Optional: sprinkle a few poppy or chia seeds on top of each cupcake.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Whole Baked Snapper + How to Carve it Like a Pro!

Whole Baked Snapper

Having a whole baked fish presented to you on a plate is such a grand experience, with the fishes body shimmering before you, the succulent pan juices dripping on the plate and the tender meat falling off the bone. But how do you eat a whole baked fish- where do you begin? Do you start hacking at it with your knife and fork or approach it like a medical procedure, gently removing bones and tissue?

I first came across this dilemma in Viet Nam several years ago when I ordered a whole baked fish. I took my fork and plowed into the fish, but immediately hit bone. Luckily the waiter came to my rescue and dissected the fish for me.

This post will show you how to successfully carve a whole baked fish (and not die trying!) This is especially useful if you are serving a large fish suitable for several people, and you need to divide the fish up in a tidy manner without encountering any bones.

But first let’s talk about why some of us lust over whole baked fish. The answer is easy- by cooking the fish in its bones, the flesh becomes nice and tender and the pan juices oozing from the fish are wonderful!

Whole Baked Snapper Recipe

The recipe for my Baked Snapper is easy- you simply place some coriander, lemon slices and kaffir lime leaves in the cavity of the fish. Then you make three diagonal cuts on both sides of the fish and rub a chili, garlic and lemon mixture into the skin. After you sprinkle some salt and olive oil onto the fish, it’s baked in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. And then the fun starts of carving and eating the fish!

If you want to skip the part on how to carve a whole baked fish, then please flip to the bottom of the page to view the recipe. And by the way, if you haven’t already done so, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

How to Carve a Whole Baked Fish

Step 1: Make an incision with your knife along the head and along the tail to release the flesh.

Carve Snapper 1

Step 2: Peel back the skin, then make an incision down the middle of the fish

Step 3: Using the edge of your knife, scrape the small ‘pin bones’ away from the top edge of the fish.

Step 4: Repeat on the bottom part of the fish: scrape the small ‘pin bones’ away from the bottom edge of the fish. Then, using the edge of your knife, gradually scrape the top half of the fillet off the bone.

Scrape the small pin bones away from bottom edge of fish

Carve Snapper (15 of 15) (1 of 1)

Gradually scrape the top half of the fillet off the bone

Step 5: Continue to slide the fillet off to the side of the fish, then transfer onto a serving dish.

Step 6: Repeat with the bottom half of the fish: scrape the fillet off the bone and to the side of the fish.

Step 7: Then transfer to the serving dish, along side the other piece of fish. Important: for each step, please test for any remaining pin bones and remove them along the way.

Step 8: You’re not done yet! You still have to deal with the bottom half of the fish. But you’re almost finished. The fish skeleton is now easily visible- simply grab the tail end and lift the skeleton off the fish.

Step 9: Divide the remaining fish into two fillets and then transfer onto a serving dish. You can either add them onto the same dish as the other two fillets, or place them onto a new dish.

To finish: add the pan juices, coriander and lemon slices onto the serving plate with the fish and serve.

Whole Baked Snapper
Whole Baked Snapper with a slightly spicy lemon chili rub. You'll love the juicy pan drippings and tender flaky meat!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. Kaffir lime leaves and several lemon slices
  2. Coriander sprigs
  3. 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  4. ¼ preserved lemon , diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  6. 1/2 lemon, juiced
  7. 1 whole Snapper, gutted and cleaned
  8. Drizzle of olive oil
  9. Salt
For the garnish
  1. Coriander, chopped
  2. Lemon slices
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Make sure all scales are removed from your fish.
  2. Place some Kaffir lime leaves, coriander sprigs and several lemon slices in the inside of the fish cavity.
  3. Mix the chili sauce, preserved lemon, garlic and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Score the skin of the Snapper on both sides using a sharp knife (3 cuts on the diagonal on each side) and then spread the chili mixture all over, working it into the score marks.
  4. Drizzle olive oil generously on both sides of the fish and then season with salt. You can bake the fish immediately, or let it marinate for up to 20 minutes.
  5. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the flesh is cooked and the skin is rather crispy.
  6. To serve, carefully remove the flesh from the top part of the fillet, removing any pin bones. After the top half of the fish flesh has been removed, it is very easy to then lift off the skeleton of the fish to reveal the bottom half of the fish. Remove all pin bones. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and drizzle with a bit more lemon juice.
  7. Serve the fish pieces on a plate and top with the pan juices and lemon slices.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Strawberry Chocolate Box

Chocolate Box

I haven’t posted anything for awhile since I have been busy finishing up my French paper on Émile Zola’s book The Belly of Paris (Le Ventre de Paris). The story is set in mid-19th century Paris in the old market of Les Halles, the giant iron structure that housed meat, poultry, fish, flowers and charcuterie for sale. In his book, Zola uses vast descriptions of the market- whole pages to describe the vegetables, cheeses, ‘stinking fish,’ and freshly-killed calves ‘swaddled in blankets with just the four bloody stumps sticking out.” If I were to die tomorrow, I feel like those images would still remain in my brain into the after-life.

Unfortunately, Les Halles* was torn down in the early 1970’s and I never got to see it. My husband got to visit there and Julia Child describes the market in her biography. Now, the old market has been replaced by a multi-level sterile shopping center, although new renovations are happening there now.

* For those of you wondering how to pronounce the words Les Halles, the ‘h’ is silent, so you would pronounce it as ‘Lay Alles’.

The old Les Halles– Paris

Les Halles

To celebrate my marathon experience of reading and writing about Zola’s book, I made (and ate) a dessert called Strawberry Chocolate Box. Melted chocolate is first formed into a square box-shape, then filled with some chocolate mousse and then dotted with cointreau-glazed strawberries and whipped cream.This dessert would have fitted in well at the old Les Halles market! It’s not too difficult to make- just getting the edges of the ‘chocolate box’ to form a straight line can take a little bit of effort.

To make this dessert, first you place two pieces of foil cross ways inside a square pan (this makes it easy to lift the dessert out of the pan at the end). Then the pan is lined with a thin layer of melted chocolate, coming to about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.The chocolate mousse filling is then poured into the chocolate ‘box’ and placed in the fridge until set. After removing the foil, glazed strawberries and whipped cream are then added.

Adding the chocolate mousse to the chocolate-lined pan

Chocolate Box

I don’t mind getting my face smudged with this chocolate dessert!

Chocolate Box

And by the way, if you haven’t already done so, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Strawberry Chocolate Box
Serves 4
Cointreau-glazed strawberries placed inside a chocolate 'box' filled with chocolate mousse
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Chocolate Box
  1. 5 ounces (150g) dark chocolate
  2. 2 tbsp butter
  3. 1 punnet strawberries
  4. 1 cup thickened cream (to make whipped cream)
For the strawberry glaze
  1. ¼ cup strawberry or cherry jam
  2. 2 tsps Cointreau or brandy
For the Chocolate Filling
  1. 2 ounces (60g) dark chocolate
  2. 1 tbsp Cointreau or brandy (optional)
  3. 2 eggs, separated
  4. ½ cup cream
To make the chocolate mousse filling
  1. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl placed on top of pan of simmering water (i.e. double boiler). Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in the two egg yolks and Cointreau or brandy (optional). Beat until mixture is smooth and thick. Whip the cream lightly with a fork, then add to the chocolate mixture. Using electric beaters, whip the two egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the chocolate mixture. Set aside.
To make the chocolate box
  1. Place two sheets of foil in a square pan, overlapping cross ways. Bring the foil up over the top of the pan to allow easy removal of the chocolate case when set.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl placed on top of a pan of simmering water. Pour into the foil-lined pan and spread thinly along the base and sides; the chocolate should come about 1 ½ inches up the sides of the pan. Try to keep the top edges of the chocolate as straight as possible to form the box shape. Place pan in fridge for a few minutes until set.
  3. Remove from fridge and then pour the chocolate filling into the pan and spread evenly. Place back in fridge until the mixture sets. Remove from fridge and gently peel the foil from the chocolate- you should now have a square box-like shape. (Don’t worry if the edges of the box are not real straight- try to smooth down the edges by running your wet finger along the edges).
  4. In the meantime, heat the strawberry jam and Cointreau (or brandy) together on the stovetop until the mixture becomes like a syrupy glaze. Hull the strawberries and then coat them with the glaze. Whip 1 cup of cream using electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Place the whipped cream inside a piping bag.
  5. Place the strawberries inside the chocolate box and then pipe in some of the whipped cream around the sides and center of the chocolate box.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Authentic Coq au Vin

 

Coq au Vin

I learned this Coq au Vin recipe at the Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris, so it should be ‘authentic’, right? The truth is, there are quite a few variations for this dish, but they all have the same thing in common: a chicken stew cooked in wine, accompanied by mushrooms, smoked bacon and onions and sprinkled with parsley. I’ve added some homemade croutons to my dish for a French rustic touch.

Coq au Vin is a French country dish, evolved from the farm where the resident rooster was cooked in a pot when it could no longer ‘service’ the hens. The rooster’s  blood was often used to thicken the stew- in fact, we were given the option of thickening our Coq au Vin with pig’s blood at Le Cordon Bleu. (FYI, no one in my class opted to use this technique, instead thickening the sauce with butter and flour. In fact, the chef said she would refuse to taste our dish if we used the blood!).

There are some variations for this dish: the Cordon Bleu recipe recommends that you first marinate the chicken pieces in red wine, preferably overnight. As a comparison, Julia Child omits this step with her dish, getting right into cooking the chicken with the wine and stock. (I know which method I’d prefer)! Cordon Bleu also recommends cooking the chicken in both wine and aromatic vegetables, such as carrots and celery. The vegetables, which are eventually discarded, help to give your sauce a much deeper flavour at the end.

And finally, this dish is served so that you can identify each of the ingredients on the plate. In fact, most of the elements are cooked separately (i.e. the mushrooms, onions and bacon) and are then all assembled at the end. No more having the chicken and mushrooms lost in an avalanche of sauce- each ingredient ‘takes pride of place’ and can easily be identified. This dish is Country French at its best!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Authentic Coq au Vin
Serves 4
An authentic French stew, flavored with thick bacon, mushrooms and onions
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr
Marinade
  1. 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  2. 2 carrots, chopped
  3. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  5. 1 Bouquet Garni (2 bay leaves and several sprigs of thyme tied together)
  6. 8 - 10 black peppercorns
  7. 4 cups red wine
  8. 1/4 Cognac (optional)
Main Ingredients
  1. 1 chicken, cut-up into pieces, with bones in
  2. salt and pepper to season the chicken
  3. 1 - 2 cups chicken stock
  4. 1 Bouquet Garni
  5. 3 tbsp plain flour
Onion ‘Confit’
  1. 1/2 cup red wine, reduced to a glaze
  2. 1/4 cup white vinegar
  3. 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  4. 2 tbsp butter
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. Pinch salt and sugar
  7. Binding (thickening) agent (beurre manié)
  8. 3 tbsp flour
  9. 2 tbsp softened butter
Garnish
  1. 15 - 20 button mushrooms
  2. 8 ounces speck (smoked slab bacon)
  3. 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
  4. Crusty bread rolls or baguettes, brushed with oil or butter, toasted in oven
Instructions
  1. Place all marinade ingredients in a large bowl; add the chicken pieces to the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible.
  2. Remove chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside the marinade mixture for later.
  3. Heat several tbsps. of oil in a Dutch oven or large casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then brown in several batches over medium high heat, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan and drain the fat.
  4. Now add the following ingredients back to the Dutch oven or pan: browned chicken pieces, wine and vegetables from the marinade, flour and Bouquet Garni. Add enough of the chicken stock to cover the ingredients (1 - 2 cups of stock). Place cover on the pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the chicken meat is tender.
  5. While the chicken is baking, prepare the onion ‘confit.’ Place sliced onions into fry pan with some butter, add the water, pinch of salt and sugar. Cover with parchment paper and simmer over medium low heat until the oinions soften and the moisture reduces.
  6. In separate small saucepan, reduce the 1/2 cup red wine until it becomes syrup, add the vinegar and simmer for several minutes. Add this mixture to the ‘confit’ onions and set aside.
  7. Sauté the button mushrooms in butter for several minutes until soft and set aside.
  8. Cut the bacon speck into thin strips about 1 inch long and ¼ inch wide, add some oil to a fry pan and brown for several minutes over medium high heat. Remove the bacon from the pan, pat dry with a paper towel and add the bacon to the mushrooms.
  9. When the chicken pieces are cooked, remove the pan from oven, set aside the chicken pieces, strain the vegetables and herbs from the cooking liquid and discard. Reduce the cooking liquid over medium heat until it reduces to about 2/3 of the original volume. To prepare the thickening agent, massage the butter and flour together with your fingers to form a smooth paste. Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whisk and simmer for several minutes until the sauce thickens. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, adjust seasoning to taste.
  10. To serve, add the ‘confit’ onion mixture to the bottom of the serving dish, arrange the chicken pieces, speck and button mushrooms around the dish and then pour some sauce on top. Be careful not to 'drown' the ingredients with the sauce, you still should be able to make out the individual ingredients in the dish.
  11. Garnish with chopped parsley and several pieces of toasted baguettes.
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

‘Little Black Dress’ Chocolate Cake

 

I’ve frequently read that a ‘little black dress’ is an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe- something that can easily be dressed down or up according to the occasion. I must admit I always felt a little intimidated about wearing a little black dress, preferring a knee-length skirt with perhaps some ‘sensible shoes’ instead.

But no more! I’ve come out of the shadows and now proudly parade my special ‘little black dress’- Chocolate Cake– that is! This cake is almost like eating pure fudge with a chocolate ganache icing. And you can add some bling to your cake (little black dress, that is) by adding a dash of edible silver or gold leaf- which you can find at specialty cake decorating stores.

I found this recipe in Delicious Indulge cookbook by Australian author Valli Little. I was immediately attracted to the title of her cake recipe (Little Black Dress Chocolate Cake) as well as the recipe of her delicious-looking cake. But of course, this recipe is not intended only for women, but for all those who love the taste of chocolate.

Chocolate Cake.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 
  

'Little Black Dress' Chocolate Cake
Serves 10
A rich fudge-like cake and ganache icing turns this dessert into a sexy 'little black dress'!
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Chocolate Cake
  1. 3 cups (500 g) dark baking chocolate
  2. 9 Tbsp. (125 g) butter, chopped
  3. 6 eggs, separated
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. ½ cup thickened cream
  6. 2 tbsp. dark rum or brandy (optional)
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. Edible silver or gold leaf to serve (optional)
Chocolate Ganache
  1. 1 ½ cup (250 g) dark baking chocolate
  2. 6 Tbsp. (85 g) butter
  3. ½ cup thickened cream
  4. 2 Tbsp. liquid glucose (glucose syrup)
For the cake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter the insides of an 8-inch (21 cm) springform cake pan and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water- stir until the mixture melts. Set aside and let cool slightly. Whisk the 6 egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture turns a pale yellow color. Add the thickened cream, rum and vanilla extract and cooled chocolate mixture.
  3. Whisk the 6 egg whites in a clean, dry bowl using electric beaters- continue until soft peaks form. In 3 separate batches, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, using a spatula or large spoon. Do not over-mix; try to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. Pour into the prepared springform pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water- stir until the mixture melts. In a separate pan, heat the cream and glucose until almost boiling; combine with the chocolate mixture and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove the cake from the pan; spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake and garnish with the silver or gold leaf (optional).
Notes
  1. Edible silver or gold leaf decorations can be purchased at specialty cake decorating stores.
Adapted from 'Delicious Indulge' cookbook by Valli Little
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Crispy Pomegranate-roasted Pork Belly

Pork Belly

I love pork belly and the crackling sensation of biting into that crispy layer of fat! For this recipe, the flesh side of the pork is seasoned with a rub of pomegranate molasses and various spices – which after baking for several hours, ‘blossoms’ into a wonderful gravy for the roast.

In order to get the crispy texture of the pork fat, you need to first coat it generously with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt- that helps to draw the moisture from the fat and get it crackling. I know I’ve used the word ‘fat’ quite a few times so far- there’s nothing wrong with fat- it’s what gives food so much flavor!

Some recipes call for slow-roasting the pork belly for many hours and then turning the heat up for the last 10 minutes to make the fat nice and crispy. However, I found that roasting it at 170 C (340 F) for two hours was enough to cook the meat to a tender stage followed up with a short blast of heat to crackle the top layer of (yes) FAT.

I’ve also included a recipe for a Pear and Walnut Salad which pairs nicely with the pork belly.

Happy Easter everyone! We’re all enjoying a real 4-day week-end here in Australia- everyone gets off both Good Friday and Easter Monday as a holiday- most stores are genuinely closed! (I just spoke with my daughter in New York and she said “What holidays?”)

Pork Belly

Crispy Pomegranate-roasted Pork Belly
Serves 4
What could be better than biting into a crispy layer of pork fat seasoned with the flavors of pomegranate molasses
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 20 min
For the Crispy Pork Belly
  1. 2 tbsp garlic, chopped
  2. 3 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
  3. 2 star anise
  4. 1 cinnamon stick
  5. 1 tsp dried rosemary
  6. Pinch salt
  7. 30 ml pomegranate molasses
  8. 2 lb boneless pork belly
  9. Olive oil
  10. Salt
  11. 1 ½ cups water
For the Pear and Walnut Salad
  1. 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  2. 1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar
  3. 2 tbsp water
  4. 100 ml olive oil
  5. 2 tbsp thickened cream
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Mixture of salad greens to serve 4
  8. Walnuts
  9. Thinly-sliced pears, skin on
For the Pork Belly
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 C (340 F). Score the fat side of the pork belly in a criss-cross pattern with the cuts spaced ¼ inch apart. Set aside.
  2. To make the spice rub for the pork belly, add the garlic, thyme leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick, dried rosemary and salt to a mortar and pestle; grind all ingredients together. Transfer to the bowl of a blender, add the pomegranate molasses and pulse until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
  3. Rub the flesh side of the pork belly generously with the paste. Transfer the pork to a baking dish with skin side facing up. Drizzle the skin generously with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt, making sure the salt is rubbed into the cuts. Pour the water around the edge of the pork. Bake for1 ½ to 2 hours until the meat is tender, then increase the temperature to 210 C (410 F). Cook for approximately 10 more minutes until the skin becomes crisp and brown. Remove from oven and let the pork rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  4. To serve, place meat on cutting board with skin facing down and slice into square pieces to serve. Drain the juices from the roasting pan and drizzle over the meat to serve.
For the Pear and Walnut Salad
  1. Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, water, olive oil, cream and salt. Place the mixed salad greens in a large bowl and toss with the salad dressing. Add some chopped walnuts and thinly-sliced pears as garnish and serve.
Adapted from Shane Delia's recipe
Adapted from Shane Delia's recipe
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/