Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Did It Again.

I made another rodini. I don't even know what you call this thing, it's just a magic basic bread dough, really. It needs the addition of salt, however, otherwise the bleach-y flavour from the flour comes out too strongly.

Soft and fluffy! It came out well. I put mixed herbs through it (dried herbs, ugh) and finely chopped raw garlic, which is supposed to be ridiculously good for you. I brushed the top with olive oil and chucked on some colby cheese (higher fat content, melts better).

I highly recommend that you try this if you haven't already. See recipe here, but note that I only use the basic bread recipe, not the entire cornmeal-and-crap one. I first made it in this shape because Baker's Delight do this round, foccacia-like bread which they call "rodini." Jonny's family love them, so one night I adapted the shape in the form of focaccia. A quick google search shows that as being some kind of tribe in Pakistan, and it doesn't seem to be an Italian word, so I'm not really sure what its origins are but they are great nonetheless. You will love it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

I have wanted to make brioche for a long time now yet haven't really had the time. It's easter! There's a big holiday! Town is closed! Get drunk! Cook! Maybe not at the same time! There's nothing else to do! Accordingly, I adapted a basic brioche recipe, adding spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, ground cloves) and sultanas, which I soaked in hot water for a few hours to make them plump and juicy.


As you can see, it kind of came out ridiculously well.


Brioche is a very rich bread, you make it with eggs and butter (not usual additions to basic bread dough) and it is DELICIOUSO. You should probably try it. They come in many shapes and forms, traditionally they are made in brioche tins which are fluted around the edges, and they have a little round ball on the top, like this:


Here is a basic recipe:

BRIOCHE
1/2c warm full cream milk
3 eggs
3 tsp surebake yeast
1/4c sugar
3c flour
75g melted butter
1 tsp salt

Mix eggs and milk together and sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except 1 1/2c flour and salt) and leave to stand, covered, in a warm place for 15 minutes. Add the remaining flour and salt and knead the dough for around 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. It will be very sticky so you will probably have to use a lot of additional flour. After this, roll the brioche in flour and put it in a bowl covered in glad wrap and leave in the fridge OVERNIGHT. When you wake up, knead the brioche for a minute or so, shape it and place it in the tin you intend to bake it in. Leave it to sit for an hour in a warm place. Bake at 180 degrees and insert a knife to check for done-ness. I don't usually time anything I cook, rather I just keep checking on it. It seems to work okay!

Happy easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dinner Party Fare

I am going to a dinner party tomorrow night and seeing as I have Deadmau5 and Skrillex tonight I thought I'd crack onto the baking today because I won't wake up before 4pm tomorrow. Accordingly, I've started off a lemon (and lime) meringue pie, base is baked and lemon curd is in!

Lemon curd is so delicious and ridiculously simple. You can make it yourself at home and it is more delicious than even the Barker's stuff, and probably a lot cheaper, depending on whether you have your own lemon tree or not.

HOW TO MAKE LEMON CURD:
1/4c cornflour
1c sugar
1/2c lemon juice
2T lemon rind
3/4c water
Put these ingredients in a pan and heat gently, stirring constantly with a whisk. Eventually, when you have lost all hope and are about to tip the mix down the drain, it will start to thicken! Magic. When It is completely thick and lemon curd-y consistency, add three egg YOLKS and a tablespoon of butter. Mix it in and voila! Lemon curd. Delicious on toast, in tea cakes, between two melting moments, in the middle of a muffin...
Bonito.

Obviously this lemon meringue pie still needs meringue-ing (which I will do tomorrow night). I whipped up some chocolate chip easter cookies for the dinner party too. To be honest, I had this ball of raw cookie dough in my freezer because when I make the recipe I leave it unflavoured and freeze half. It will last you for a while in the freezer, then when you need to whip something up unexpectedly you can chuck in a few extra ingredients (ie lemon zest, cranberries, dried apricots, almonds, pistachios, chocolate chips etc), roll it out, cut out shapes and bake them for around ten minutes for a quick and easy cookie solution!

For this batch I finely chopped up some Whittaker's 50% Dark Ghana chocolate (any kind of chocolate found in the cooking/baking aisle of the supermarket is not worth even looking at) and threw it in the mix, then baked them at 180 degrees for around ten minutes, cooled them and dipped them in the remaining dark chocolate with about a tablespoon of butter. The butter ensures that the chocolate doesn't crack and go everywhere when your guests bite into them. Ingenious huh?

BASIC COOKIE DOUGH (so easy you'll remember it by heart)
250g soft butter
3/4c caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/4c flour
1t vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, mix in egg yolk and vanilla. When all this is thoroughly mixed, add flour (and any additional flavourings/ingredients) and mix till a soft dough is formed. Refrigerate for around half an hour, or till firm, then turn out on a floured board and roll and cut your cookie shapes. Bake at 180 degrees for ten minutes or till browned.

Excellent.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Magical Choco-Pie

I saw this amazing pie at whatkatieate.blogspot.com and HAD to try it. It is a chocolate salted caramel hazelnut pie, but I've got it down in my recipe book as "magic choco pie" BECAUSE IT IS.

It is essentially a chocolate pastry base with roasted hazelnuts and caramel on the first layer and then a dark chocolate ganache layer on top of that. AH-MA-ZING.



This is the pie post-caramelling. You basically just boil up some condensed milk, butter and brown sugar and tip it over the roasted hazelnuts. Voila.


Post-ganaching, I sprinkled it with hazelnuts and sea salt. DELICIOUSO.

Le final product. I have a quarter of this pie in my fridge. U mad?

MAKE ONE. MAKE TEN. TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS. IT'S THE BEST THING EVARRRRRRR.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Risotto

We went to Prego in Ponsonby on Friday night for Josh's birthday, and it was, as expected, nothing short of excellent. I had pan-fried snapper with coriander, dill & chervil risotto and a glass of Bellbird Spring Pinot Gris which I am now going to look out for because I don't usually go for white wines. It was excellent. Although I just discovered it was $30 a bottle so perhaps that'll be one for special occasions. We were too full for dessert although I did spy chocolate fondant on the menu which I might have to go back and try. I also had some ridiculous lychee cocktail which was delicious.

On Wednesday night Jonny and I had a slightly poncey dinner, partially because I got a Lodge cast iron skillet (see link) and HAD to cook steak in it because cast iron and steak go together like Bonnie and Clyde. Cast iron browns meat in the most amazing way and stays super hot, so it cooked the BEST. STEAK. EVER. Being a student, the budget stretched only to sirloin but the cast iron made it ridiculously good sirloin. I usually leave the steak-cooking to Jonny (apart from cooking steak, the last time he had to cook an actual meal was probably around October last year) but I took it upon myself to do it this time, with his help of course. We managed to produce perfectly-cooked medium rare steaks, which I then served with mushrooms in a red wine jus. Not bad considering we were through the first bottle of wine before the meal was even served. Good one.


Tonight Gordon cooked spag bol for him and Jonny, I didn't really fancy anything until I trawled through a million and one food blogs and had the urge to cook. Gordon pointed out that I'd said I wasn't too keen on having carbs for tea and that wasn't rice carbs? I said yeah, I just felt like making risotto. He told me I was retarded. I don't think the boys understand the concept of not-cooking-solely-for-the-purpose-of-eating.

When I cook a meal I usually have only a basic idea of what I'm going to do and it all kind of comes together at the end. I knew that I was going to do a mushroom risotto, the rest of it kind of just fell into place.

To make risotto, you need aborio rice. You can get this at the supermarket in the "sun rice" packs for around $3.00 per 500g, I think. To make your risotto, start out by finely chopping garlic and dicing up some onion and chucking them into a saucepan with a little olive oil. After the onion becomes translucent, throw in a handful of aborio rice per person and then stir it for a minute or so to stop the rice sticking, then pour in around a quarter of a cup of liquid (wine or stock usually). Then you just keep adding small amounts of liquid until the rice has the right kind of bite to it and the sauce is all simmered down (the sauce will keep reducing as the rice will obviously keep absorbing the liquid).


I used to be intimidated by risotto but once I tried it I was kind of blown away by how ridiculously simple it is. The beauty of it is that you can have absolutely nothing in the pantry but a few herbs and maybe one or two different veges in the fridge and you have the base for risotto. You could do it with lemon juice and parmesan, tuna and veges, white wine and asparagus, almost anything. In my case I had a third of a bottle of red wine (a rarity in this house), a bunch of button mushrooms and some thyme.


Et voila. Mushroom, thyme and red wine risotto.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rodini (Focaccia) and Pretzels

I had nothing to do today, so naturally, I cooked. I made pasta from scratch which I highly recommend, it's just 3/4c high grade flour to 1 egg per person, then you knead it, leave it at room temperature for an hour and then roll it out really thin on a floured surface and do whatever you like with it, (ie ravioli, fettuccine, spaghetti, linguini, lasagna...). There are 0 pictures of the pasta because I whipped up a basic bolognese sauce for it which Jonny demolished in seconds. THANKS JONNY IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.

I did, however, manage to get photos of the pretzels. I was a bit disappointed with them, mainly because they were too salty and not crunchy enough. I think the secret there is perhaps to make them thinner and use less salt (derp).


I also made Rodini which I've blogged about before (winning recipe, see here). This was probably the best one I've done, look at the texture! Holy moly!


It all went okay in the end, the good outweighed the bad.

HUNGOVER COOKING


I had a pretty ragey night last night and woke up at 5pm from that today. When I'm so hungover I don't know what to do with myself I do what I know: I COOK.

The sushi rice went a lot better than last time, and the cake I have no idea what to do with. If you want some cake, come round and eat it!

I also made pizza from scratch, will take photos next time I do it and share the recipe :)