Singapore Sling – and an Ode to Modern Dance

  IMG_6604 I feel a close affinity to the Singapore Sling cocktail. Think back to the 1970’s when I taught modern dance at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. After teaching two hours of Martha Graham contractions, spiralling falls to the floor and other crazy movements, I was ready for a stiff drink. Len and I would traipse across the street to O’Henry’s Tavern to settle into a Reuben Sandwich and a large Singapore Sling cocktail. Not content with just one cocktail, I swigged down two ‘Sing Slings’ to ease my tired body and to forget I had to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. These two drinks packed a wallop and each time, I wound up with my head face down on the table.

Len’s aunt was working there as a waitress at the time and I said to him, “Please don’t let Aunt Sylvia see me like this!” Well, she saw me alright!

The Singapore Sling was invented at the famous Raffles Hotel sometime around 1910 by Ngiam Tong Boon, although it is doubtful that the modern day cocktail resembles the original one. I’ve heard that the Long Bar at Raffles charges $35 for each Singapore Sling and is already pre-mixed. Better to make your own and make it just the way you like! Singapore Slings typically contain gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple and lime juice and Angostura bitters. You can also add Grenadine, but I left this out since my liquor bill was starting to explode.

Here is a picture of your required ingredients- I highly recommend this cocktail as a refreshing New Years Eve drink, but here’s a warning. Only drink one glass instead of two – Aunt Sylvia may be watching!!  

P.S. Would LOVE it if you’d Like my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Singapore Sling - and an Ode to Modern Dance
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A refreshing, fruity drink- great for New Years Eve or anytime!
Ingredients
  • 60 ml Gin
  • 30 ml Cherry Brandy
  • 15 ml Cointreau
  • 15 ml Benedictine
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Splash of Angostura bitters
  • 10 ml Grenadine (optional)
  • Slice of lime or pineapple for garnish + cherry
Instructions
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes.
  2. Add all the ingredients into the shaker. Close the lid and shake for about 1 minute until the shaker feels cold to the touch.
  3. Strain the ingredients into a glass, almost to the top. Add crushed ice. Garnish with either a lime or pineapple slice, plus a cherry. Enjoy!

 

Tea-Smoked Duck Breast Salad with Mango

IMG_6528Alert the Media! “SMOKING IS GOOD FOR YOU!!” – preparing smoked duck, that is. Smoking duck breasts is easy and the taste is rich and delicious. It’s great in salads and goes well with just about any kind of fruit. Add some mangoes, dried cranberries and fennel and you’ve got yourself a great salad. Yes, Smoked Duck is Good!

 I rarely see Smoked Duck offered in restaurants, so here’s an opportunity to surprise your dinner guests with something a little unusual. Duck is high in protein, niacin, iron and thiamine, although (ahem) a little high on the ‘fat side of things.’

Here is my recipe for Tea-Smoked Duck Breast with Mango- prep time is about 20 minutes and cooking/resting time is about 20 minutes = 40 minutes total.

You’ll need some loose tea leaves for the smoking – I used some Orange Pekoe tea  which has a slight cinnamon flavour – purchased from the T Bar Tea Salon on Gouger Street in Adelaide.

Ingredients

For the tea-smoking mixture

  •  3 – 4 duck breasts
  • 1 cup raw rice (preferably Jasmine)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • peel from one orange
  • 1/2 cup loose black tea leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)

For the Salad Dressing

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad Base

  • salad mixture (choose a combination of baby spinach leaves, green cos lettuce, beetroot leaf, radicchio, etc )
  • 1 fennel bulb, julienned
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • dried cranberries
  • julienned carrot pieces

Directions

  • Prepare the tea-smoking mixture: combine the rice, brown sugar and tea in a bowl. Cut the orange peel into thin, 3 – inch long pieces, being careful not to include the white pith. Add to the dry mixture, along with the cinnamon stick (optional).
  • Trim the fat around the edges of the duck breasts to ‘tidy’ them up. Score the duck skin, making diagonal slices across the skin, being careful not to cut into the duck meat itself.
  • Line a large wok or Dutch oven with a double layer of aluminium foil, leaving at least 3 inches over-hanging the sides. Add the smoking mixture to the wok, spreading it along the bottom to a depth of about 1/4 inch.

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  •  Place the wok over high heat; after 2 – 3 minutes you should notice some wisps of smoke begin to appear. Now place a wire rack on the bottom of the wok, which sits at least one inch above the tea-smoking mixture (I used the round base of a steamer basket).
  • Place the duck breasts on the rack, skin side facing up.

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  • Loosely fold the aluminium edges back over the duck and place a close-fitting lid on top. Reduce the heat to medium and smoke the duck for 8 minutes. Remove the wok from the heat and let stand for 10 more minutes.

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  • Heat a small amount of oil over high heat; with skin-side facing down, sear each duck breast for several minutes until brown and crispy. Reduce heat slightly, turn breast over and repeat on the other side.
  • Remove duck from pan and let cool for several minutes. Slice horizontally into thin pieces – the duck meat should be slightly pink inside. If the meat is grey inside, it is over-cooked and will have a rather tough texture.

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  • In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the salad dressing and toss with a mixture of salad greens (baby spinach, radicchio, etc) then add the julienned fennel.
  • To serve the salad on individual plates, place the lettuce/fennel mixture on the bottom. Arrange duck pieces and mangoes on top and garnish with dried cranberries and julienned carrot pieces.

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White Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red Wine Sauce

 

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Help!! Cherry season only lasts 100 days in Australia! Yes, only 100 days during Spring and Summer (November through February)! Reading this fact on the internet made me scramble to buy my first Cherry Pitting gadget – that wonderful little thing that ‘pokes’ the cherry seed cleanly out of the fruit.

It’s great that cherry season in the southern hemisphere coincides with the Christmas season here, because cherries are made for Christmas – cherry tarts, pies and cakes, you name it!

In order to vent my lust for cherries (and to take advantage of the brief cherry growing season), I present my recipe for a White Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red Wine Sauce.

Don’t let the fancy name throw you – the sauce is simply red wine and sugar heated together on the stove and then thickened with some corn flour. The filling is made with white chocolate blended with ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. Top with the cherries and red wine sauce and you’ve got yourself a delicious dessert!

Tips for making the pastry crust (see detailed recipe below) :

Use 6 individual tart pans (about 5 inches or 12 cm wide).

  •  Combine the flour, icing sugar and chilled butter cubes in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  • Add the egg yolk and water and process until the dough just comes together.
  • Remove dough from the processor, form into a ball and knead on a floured surface for about 30 seconds. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Separate the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a floured surface, using a rolling pin dusted with flour. First, roll the pin forward and backwards on the dough, then turn the dough 1/4 and repeat. Keep on rolling and turning the dough 1/4 until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Transfer the dough onto the fluted tart tin so that the dough overhangs the edges.

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  •  Roll the rolling pin across the top of the tart pan in order to cut through the dough.

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  • Lift the outer edges of the dough away from the tart pan.

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  • Prick the crust on the bottom of the tart pan with a fork – this helps to keep the tart bottom from rising during the baking.

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  • Prepare to Blind Bake the dough before adding the filling: line each tart pan with parchment paper, ensuring the paper sticks up well above the edge of the pan.   Fill the pan with ‘pie weights’ covering the dough all the way up around the edges. This helps to keep the crust edges from ‘shrinking’ down into the tart pan and the crust bottom from puffing up during baking.
  • Note: pie weights are marble-like balls that you can buy at specialty stores. Alternatively, you can fill the tart pan with raw rice.

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  •  Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the pie weights and parchment paper and bake for a further 5 minutes until the crust is golden = 20 minutes total baking time.
5.0 from 3 reviews
White Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red Wine Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A white chocolate tart combined with ricotta and mascarpone cheeses and topped with cherries and a delicious red wine sauce.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (300 g) plain flour
  • ¼ cup (45 g) icing sugar
  • 10 tbsp (150 g) chilled butter- chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ½ cup (100 g) caster sugar
  • ½ cup red wine (1/2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp. corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 cups (450 g) pitted cherries
  • 1 ½ cups (260 g) white chocolate
  • ¾ cup (200 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (250 g) mascarpone
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F (190 C).
  2. Prepare the tart dough from the instructions above. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. While the dough is baking, prepare the cherry sauce. Heat the wine and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the corn flour and water together to make a paste, then add this mixture to the wine/sugar mixture to thicken.
  4. Add the pitted cherries to the pan and simmer for several minutes until the cherries soften. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the tart filling: melt the white chocolate in the microwave or alternatively melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.
  6. Add the ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese to the melted chocolate and mix until smooth using a electric mixer (or blender).
  7. Divide the filling equally between the 6 pastry cases and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Top with the cherries and sauce and serve.

Christmas Trifle

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I just flew in to Adelaide from San Diego, California where we spent the last five months. I miss the mild, sunny weather of San Diego and the incredible Mexican food there, but it’s also nice to be back in Australia with its great beaches, laid-back lifestyle and waking up in the morning to the ‘flute-like’ call of the Magpie.

I find that travelling is more complicated now that I have become a passionate food blogger – everywhere I travel, I seem to accumulate new cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and food styling ‘toys.’ This time, my carry-on bag burst open as I checked-in at the airline counter to return to Australia. Out burst some of my copper canelé moulds, a cherry pitting gadget, my mini POLKA DOT BOWLS, and several other odds and ends. As I frantically tried to scoop my food ‘toys’ back into my bag, I could sense a slight wave of disapproval emanating from the airline attendant. Oh, well …

Here is my recipe for a Christmas Trifle, layered with port wine gelatine, sponge cake, vanilla cream custard and garnished with various fruits to add some Christmas color to your dessert. Hailing from Britain, the trifle is a much-loved Christmas dessert usually made with sponge cake soaked in sherry or fruit juice and layered with various combinations of fruit, cream or custard. I love Trifles because you can layer them with just about anything: chocolate, mascarpone, whipped cream, puddings, fruit or various liqueurs.

Use your imagination to create your own wonderful Trifle- if you have any other great ideas for a Trifle, let me know!

Makes about 4 Trifles

 Step 1 : Prepare the Port Wine Gelatine

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) port wine
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 sachet (10 g) of gelatine powder
  1. Over medium heat, stir together the port wine, sugar and cinnamon stick. Add more sugar to taste, if required.
  2. Heat the water in a separate container until very hot. Add the sachet of gelatine and stir with a fork until completely dissolved.
  3. Add the gelatine mixture to the port wine mixture and stir.
  4. Pour into the bottom of 4 Trifle glasses, filling each glass about 1/3 full. 

 Step 2: Prepare the Sponge Cake and peach layer

  • 2/3 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) fine caster sugar
  • 75 g melted butter
  • 1 small can of diced peaches
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Lightly grease a cake tin or round casserole dish.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. 
  3. Using an electric mixer on high speed, whisk together the eggs and sugar until triple in volume- about 5 – 6 minutes.
  4. Using a spatula or large spoon, fold in half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture.
  5. Gently fold in the melted butter. Pour the mixture into the cake tin or casserole dish and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the cake feels springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  6. Cut a circle shape from the sponge cake, using a pastry ring. If the cake is thick, slice the circle in half and then place the cake round in the trifle glass, on top of the layer of port wine gelatine.

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   7.  Pour the small can of diced peaches into a bowl and mash using a fork or spoon.  Smooth a thin layer of the peaches on top of the cake layer in the Trifle glass.

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Step 3: Prepare the Vanilla Cream Custard and Fruit Topping

  •  250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla favoring
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sifted flour
  • Diced fruit (blueberries, strawberries, cherries, pineapple, etc)
  1. Warm the milk, cream and vanilla flavouring together over medium heat- do not boil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks, then add the flour.
  3. Over medium heat, gradually whisk in the egg/sugar mixture to the milk/cream mixture. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens
  4.  Spread a layer of the custard over the peaches in the Trifle dish. Place the dish in the fridge for several hours until the custard ‘melts down’ and settles into the other layers below.
  5. Remove from fridge and top with diced fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, cherries and/or pineapple. Garnish with a small mint leaf and serve.
  6. Merry Christmas!

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Winner of the Cuisinart Mandoline Giveaway !

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Thank you, everyone, who participated in my recent Giveaway draw for the Cuisinart Mandoline slicer. Angela Montgomery from Adelaide, South Australia, is the lucky winner.

Angela blogs as Sweetrosie (http://sweetrosie.wordpress.com). She obviously knows her stuff because she is a chef by trade and is also a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu/University of Adelaide Master of Arts Gastronomy program.

Besides describing herself as both a gastronomist and a food anthropologist, she also bakes the most fantastic cupcakes; just take a look at these photos!

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Sweetrosie cupcakes

Congratulations, Angela!