roast pumpkin and chilli soup

27 Jun 2012

I love pumpkin soup and occasionally I make the soup using pumpkin I've roasted. I found a recipe for roast pumpkin soup with chilli in the April 2012 issue of the BBC Australian Good Food magazine and I've had the page bookmarked ever since. I finally bought some pumpkin on Saturday and roasted it specially for the soup.

When I made the soup I didn't have any fresh chillies on hand so I used a pinch of dried chillies instead. I had to make an emergency dash up to the shops on Sunday to get the fresh red chilli.

I used the leftover stock I had in the fridge, which was a combination of beef and chicken and instead of the sour cream, I used low fat yoghurt.

Once I'd topped the soup with some chopped fresh chilli the end result was a spicy sunday supper. Here's the original recipe for you.

Roast pumpkin and chilli soup
printable version
1 kg butterut pumpkin, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 long red chillies, seeded, finely chopped
4 cups (1 litre) salt-reduced vegetable stock
1/2 cup (120g) sour cream

Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C fan-forced. Combine pumpkin and 1 tablespoon of oil in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once, until golden.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large saucepan on medium. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and three quarters of chilli. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 -15 minutes, until onion caramelises. Add pumpkin and stock to onion mixture. Bring to the boil on high heat. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Stir through 1/3 cup of sour cream. Season. Ladle into serving bowls. Serve topped with remaining sour cream and chilli.

See you all next week,



lemon delicious pudding

25 Jun 2012

This is not the first time I've posted about lemon delicious pudding as it's one of my favourite desserts. I normally make a low fat version but when I was home in Brisbane I didn't have that recipe with me so I used one from my very old copy of the Margaret Fulton Cookbook.

My Dad isn't keen on too sweet desserts so I cut down the sugar considerably. The low fat recipe I use contains no butter but this recipe only uses a small quantity. I made the pudding in an old Pyrex container but we ate the pudding before I had time to take any photos so I remade the pudding once I was home. Instead of making one pudding I halved the recipe and made 2 small puddings, just for me.

Lemon and passion fruit go so well together so I topped the pudding with a little passion fruit pulp to add a bit of zing.

I love the way the pudding separates into 2 separate layers - a sponge topping and a lemon flavoured sauce below. Here's the original recipe for you.

Lemon Delicious Pudding - The Margaret Fulton Cook Book
printable recipe

60 grams butter
1 cup caster sugar
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons self-raising flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Generously butter a casserole dish.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the lemon rind and sugar in a medium size bowl. 
When the mixture is creamy and light, beat in the egg yolks. Stir in the sifted floured alternately with the milk and the lemon juice.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture with the lemon juice, lightly yet thoroughly.
Pour into a 6 cup ovenproof dish, then place the dish in a roasting pan containing enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the dish.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Allow to sit for a moment or two before serving.

Serves 4.

I still have one of the little puddings waiting for me for tonight's dessert, so I'm off to have my dinner. I'll see you all again on Wednesday,

Bye for now,


french onion soup

20 Jun 2012

A few weeks ago the winter issue of Donna Hay magazine arrived in the mailbox. I looked through it and found loads of things I wanted to try. I've been on a soup kick since the weather started to cool down and when I saw the photo of French Onion Soup, that's what I decided to make. I used an old favourite recipe of mine with a few additional tweaks.

The magazine article featured some beautiful images of Paris so I looked through my own archives and added a few Paris pics of my own.

I didn't have 6 brown onions in the cupboard so I used a few red onions as well.

I cheated a little and used pre-made beef stock to cut down on the preparation time. I added a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves just before adding the stock and a tablespoon of Chinese rice wine as well, because there was no Madeira or sherry in my cupboard.

Rather than using melty yellow cheese on the crouton, I used some leftover goats curd that was still lurking in the fridge. The goat's curd was wildly expensive so I wanted to make sure I used every last morsel.

You know, I don't think I've ever eaten French Onion soup whilst in France.

In fact apart from raspberry tarts, I think I mainly ate couscous and pizza when I was last there!

The soup was delicious and I really enjoyed the goats cheese crouton topped with fresh thyme and cracked black pepper. I've attached the original recipe for you minus the tweaks mentioned above.

French Onion Soup from Australian Cuisine by Maureen Simpson
printable recipe
6 medium sized onions, peeled and sliced
1 heaped tablespoon butter
2 level tablespoons plain flour
6 cups beef stock
6 slices French bread, cut 1 cm thick
freshly ground pepper

Put onions and butter into a heavy based saucepan and fry gently for about ½ hour, stirring from time to time.The onions should be soft, glossy and a rich golden brown. Keep the heat low so they don't burn.

Sprinkle in the flour, stir well then add the stock. Stir until boiling then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile put the bread slices onto a baking tray and bake in a moderate oven (190ºC) for 20 minutes or until crisp.

Season soup to taste with salt and lots of black pepper. Pour into 6 individual bowls.

Top with the crisp bread, sprinkle over the cheese and bake for a further 10 minutes in a moderate oven. Serves 6.

Another patch of cold weather is forecast so I might just have to pull out that stockpot again this coming weekend.

See you all again soon,



white chocolate, macadamia and cranberry cookies

18 Jun 2012

I was away in Brisbane last weekend and although I did some baking, I didn't take any photographs. I had a glorious 3-day break of eating, catching up with family and friends and best of all, catching up on sleep. Now that I'm back home again it was time to return to the kitchen. I decided to ease myself back into the routine by making something simple, like a batch of cookies.

I used this Ottolenghi recipe as the basis for the cookies but played around a bit with it.

The original recipe used dried blueberries and hazelnuts but I wondered how the cookies would taste with white chocolate chunks, dried cranberries and macadamias, because that's what I had in my kitchen cupboard.

I took the cookies into work to be taste tested. They disappeared in a flash, which is always a good sign.

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia cookies (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi) 
printable recipe 
150 grams unsalted butter, softened
60 grams brown sugar
60 grams caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
160 grams plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt

80 grams toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
80 grams white chocolate, cut into chunks
80 grams dried sweetened cranberries

Cream the butter and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the beaten egg until combined. Sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and stir into the mixture with the salt. Stir in the nuts, the chocolate and the cranberries.Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before scooping into approximately 25 gram balls. 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Place the balls of cookie dough onto a tray lined with baking paper and space well apart as they will spread.  Flatten each cookie slightly before baking for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire tray. When cool, store in an airtight container. Makes 25 cookies.

I'll be back again with some more food on Wednesday, so see you then.


masterchef and potato gnocchi with exotic mushrooms

13 Jun 2012

I have a very small kitchen so I try to keep my kitchen utensils down to the bare essentials. When I was home at Christmas, my parents had invested in a potato ricer, still unused. I’ve always used a potato masher to deal with my spuds, but as one of my friends swears by a potato ricer, I thought I’d give it a go. The ricer was easy to use, easy to clean and made lovely mashed potatoes so I was sold. It took me a while but I finally bought a potato ricer a few weeks ago, now known as the 'contraption'. My kitchen is no larger than before so the contraption now lives carefully wrapped in a plastic bag in my broom cupboard, which brings me indirectly to MasterChef.

A few weeks ago I was watching one of the Friday night master classes where Gary made potato gnocchi with exotic mushrooms I looked at the potato ricer languishing in my broom cupboard and decided to try out the recipe. I bought a packet of exotic mushrooms at my local fruit market and had everything else I needed in the pantry or the fridge.

I made a batch of potato gnocchi and not much else was needed apart from the mushrooms, some garlic, a few herbs, some grated lemon rind and of course I had to add a little bit of my favourite pecorino pepato cheese at the end.

Overall, though not quite a pronto dish, it was still pretty easy to make, specially now I have a contraption of my own.

I'll see you all again next week, 


chocolate pear and hazelnut tart

11 Jun 2012

Have you noticed the way some flavour combinations just work? When I spied this chocolate, hazelnut and pear confection on Mowie Kay's blog I knew I had to make it. As it's winter here in Sydney, pears are in abundance.

I bought a few Corella pears from my local fruit shop, then tried to track down the original recipe using hazelnuts. I'm sure I could have emailed Mowie and asked him for the recipe but instead I tracked down a copy of the book, Popina's Book of Baking, on the internet and ordered it. It arrived promptly and before I knew it, I was in the kitchen whipping up a batch of chocolate dough.

I've had problems in the past with chocolate pastry. It tends to be soft and crumble easily but this one turned out beautifully.

As Mowie said, it's not a tart that you can whip up at a moment's notice. There are many, many steps but you just take it slowly and before you know it, you'll be taking your tart out of the oven.

I made the tart in my favaourite oblong pan.

With a bit of filling left over and plenty of pastry, I made a little tart, just for the cook.

I took the large tart into work and it disappeared in a flash because it's very, very good. What could be better then crisp pastry, moist chocolatey filling and a yummy glazed pear topping with just a hint of toasted hazelnuts?

The Popina Book of Baking is a lovely book filled with tempting cookies and pastry recipes. I'm sure you'll be seeing many more goodies from the book sometime in the future. Here's the recipe for you.

Chocolate Pear and Hazelnut Tart makes 8-12 slices
printable recipe
1 Chocolate Shortcrust recipe
1 Sponge Dough recipe
1 large pear, peeled, halved and cored (I used 3 corella pears)
20 g shelled hazelnuts (blanched if you like), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons apricot jam, optional
A 23 cm loose bottom fluted tart tin, greased

Chocolate Shortcrust recipe
225g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
85g golden caster sugar
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170˚C (325˚F).

Place the flour, cocoa, butter and sugar in a mixer and blitz until you get crumbs. Add the egg and mix again. (I needed to add a tablespoon of cold water at this stage).Take the dough out of the mixer and bring together into a ball.
Put the dough on a lightly floured surface then roll with a rolling pin until 3-4mm thick. Line the tart tin with the chocolate shortcrust pastry and trim the excess dough neatly around the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Sponge Dough recipe
45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90g golden caster sugar
1 egg
1½ tsp baking powder
90g plain flour

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric whisk to combine. Mix in the egg and baking powder with the whisk, then gently fold in the flour by hand until evenly combined.

Chocolate and Hazelnut cream
90g dark chocolate, finely chopped
90g milk chocolate, finely chopped
180ml single cream
40 g shelled hazelnuts, roughly chopped and lightly roasted in a dry frying pan

To make the chocolate and hazelnut cream, put the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan and gently bring to a boil over low heat, stirring frequently. Pour into the mixing bowl and whisk until you get a smooth cream, then stir in the hazelnuts. Gently fold the sponge dough into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Remove the tart shell from the fridge and pour in the chocolate and hazelnut cream.

Cut the pear into about 12 slim wedges and arrange in a circle on the top of the tart filling. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. To check if it’s ready, insert a skewer into the centre of the tart – if it comes out clean you can take it out of the oven, if not, leave it in the oven for a few more minutes. 
Put the apricot jam, if using, in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted and runny. Brush the jam roughly over the tart (avoiding the hazelnuts) with a pastry brush and leave for a few minutes before serving.

I'm back home in Sydney after a 3 day break in Brisbane and it's just pelting out there. Despite that, I've had a lovely relaxing Long Weekend and I'm in no hurry to return to work tomorrow.

See you all again on Wednesday,


pronto - pumpkin, leek and goats curd tart

6 Jun 2012

As winter closes in here, I turn to my old standby, the humble pumpkin. Last month I found a pumpkin tart recipe in Gourmet Traveller which combined oven roasted pumpkin with goats curd. I knew I had to try it but decided to simplify the whole matter by purchasing my favourite brand of butter puff pastry instead of making the pastry from scratch.

As I wasn't cooking for a crowd I halved the filling recipe and only used half the pastry to make an oblong tart. I haven't decided how to use the rest of the puff pastry - maybe another tarte tartin?

I've been on a bit of a soup kick of late, so dinner was a big bowl of carrot and red lentil soup followed by a slice of the tart with some bitter green leaves.

I'm heading to Brisbane for the Queens Birthday Long Weekend, where I hope the weather will be better then here in Sydney. 

See you all again next week.

Until then,


moist chocolate beetroot cake

4 Jun 2012

When I first started cooking, I used to practise, practice, practise until I got things right. Old habits die hard, because this is the third chocolate beetroot cake I've made recently. The first one from Nigel Slater tasted great but it was too moist and deflated like a soufflé as it cooled so I tried a different recipe; that one was nice but I wasn't keen on the texture so I thought I'd play around a bit with Nigel Slater's original original recipe.

For my third attempt, I reduced the number of eggs from five to four and creamed the butter with the sugar. I just don't like the texture of melt and mix cakes, so if possible I prefer to cream the butter with the sugar and yes, the batter really is that shade of pink. I've attached my version of the cake for you but as it's based on an English recipe, I've used a 15 ml rather than a 20 ml tablespoon. 

Rather than boiling the beetroot, I've discovered it's really easy to cook beetroot in the microwave. You pierce the unpeeled beetroot in a few places, then put them into a small covered container with a tablespoon of water. The beetroot takes about 10 minutes to cook in the microwave on medium high. Once the beetroot has cooled you don rubber gloves to peel them before blitzing in the food processor or you could always grate them if you don't have a food processor.

Moist Chocolate Beetroot Cake (adapted from Nigel Slater)
printable version
250 grams beetroot
200g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
4 tbsp hot espresso
135g plain flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs
200g butter
200g golden caster sugar
additional cocoa

Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Cook the beetroot, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water until they're knifepoint tender (about 30 to 40 minutes) or you can use the microwave method mentioned above. Drain the beetroot, cool under running water, then peel them, slice out their stem and root, and blitz to a rough purée.

Melt the chocolate, chopped into small pieces, in a small bowl resting over a pan of simmering water. Don’t stir. When the chocolate looks almost melted, pour the hot coffee over it and stir once. Allow to cool a little.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Separate the eggs; put the whites into a clean dry mixing bowl. Stir the yolks together.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with half the sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in the egg yolks. Add the chocolate mixture before folding in the pureed beetroot, the flour and cocoa.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the remaining sugar. Fold the beaten egg whites and sugar into the chocolate mixture using a large metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and put in the oven, turning the heat down immediately to 160ºC/325ºF. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes. The rim of the cake will feel spongy; a skewer inserted into the inner part of the cake should test a little damp. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before turning out of the tin.

Dust the cake with cocoa before cutting into squares.

How was this version? The cake is very moist and chocolately and doesn't seem to miss that extra egg. By the way, no-one complained that I'd made the same cake, yet again.

See you all again on Wednesday,

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