Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Pain de Mie

I assume you're here because you love bread... And if that's the case, let's be friends... best friends.

*NOTE: You can get purpose-built Pain de Mie pans (or pullman loaf pans), but I just used a 3 litre capacity loaf pan (commercial grade) topped with a heavy sheet pan weighted down with a cast iron skillet - it has to be heavy though, that dough has some serious push when it gets in the oven.

Pain de Mie
slightly adapted from here

1 sachet dry yeast
250ml lukewarm water
250ml full cream milk
625g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

Put the water into the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the yeast over.  Leave or 5 minutes to become foamy.  Add the milk, flour, salt and honey and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Stop the machine and let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then mix on low for a further 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it is thin and soft.  This will only take a few minutes.

Turn the mixer onto to low and drop small pieces of the softened butter into the dough, one at a time.  Once all the butter is incorporated, turn the dough out onto a floured board.  It will be silky-soft, but still able to be handled without sticking to everything.  Fold it in half, then turn it 180 degrees and fold again.  Fold it a third time, shape it into a ball and place it in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for about 3 hours to triple in size.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured board.  Fold the dough in half, and repeat two more times.  Put it back into the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and leave for 2 hours to double in size.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board, shape it into a rough rectangle and roll it up into a log shape long enough to fit your pan.  The dough is really floppy, but be confident and just get it in there.  Flatten the top of the dough with floured hands, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for about 1 hour, or until it is about 1cm below the top of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Slide the lid on top of the pan, or weight it down as described in the * note above, and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan and leave to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Blueberry Smoothie Pancakes


Todays post was supposed to be about yesterdays breakfast which was Pain de Mie, but then Shrove Tuesday came along and messed that all up.  Confused yet?  Any hoooo, I was forced - forced I tell you, to make pancakes and eat them for you all in the name of Pancake Day.  Don't ever say I don't to anything for you, mmmK?

NOTE: Pain de Mie recipe here

Blueberry Smoothie Pancakes
adapted from here
Makes 6 large pancakes

For the Pancakes:
320g blueberries
1 ripe banana
170ml almond milk (or your favourite milk)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
250g Atta flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
Cooking spray, to grease the frying pan

To Serve:
Greek yoghurt
Ground cinnamon
Toasted and chopped pecans
Honey (I use orange blossom honey)

Put hlaf the blueberries, the peeled banana, milk, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder, baking soda ad salt into a blender and blitz until smooth (it will be a groovy blue/grey colour).  Fold the remaining blueberries into the batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, spray with a thin film of cooking spray.  Ladel the batter into the pan and cook for abouot 2 minutes, until bubbles start to appear on the surface and the underside is golden brown.  Flip and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes, until golden brown and the pancake is cooked though.  Continue to grease the pan between pancakes and cook until all the batter is used up.

Serve with a generous dollop of thick yoghurt, a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, a drizzle of honey and a scattering of toasted pecans.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Beef and Blue Cheese Burgers with Apple and Radish Slaw

A burger is always a popular dinner option at our house.  They always makes my boys happy.  On a day when I ran a PB, finished all my chores, accomplished all the tasks on my to-do list and even cleared the laundry baskets(!!!), all I needed to really top things off was a burger and the smiles on my boys faces... and a cold beer.

Beef and Blue Cheese Burgers with Apple and Radish Slaw
Makes 6

For the Patties:
1kg ground beef
150g blue cheese (I use Shadows of Blue because it's absolutely delicious and made just up the road.)
Sea salt flakes
Olive oil

For the Slaw:
1 large Granny Smith apple, shredded on a mandoline
6 - 8 radishes, shredded on a mandoline
Juice of 1/2 lime
Sea salt flakes

To Serve:
Your favourite gerkins (I use Kuhne.  Not local, but they are delicious.)
Your favourite sauce (e.g. ketchup, BBQ, hot sauce)
Your favourite mustard (I use French's, because I just about always use French's on my burgers.)
6 soft burger buns

Make the Patties:
Divide the meat into 6 even portions, roll them into balls and pat them out into large patties, about 2cm thick.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.

Heat a griddle pan to screaming hot and cook the first side of the patties for about 3 minutes. or until golden brown.  Flip the patties and place a piece of blue cheese on the cooked side.  Turn the heat down to medium and place a lid on the pan.  Cook until the cheese has melted and the patty is cooked to your liking.  Remove to a plat and keep warm.

Split the burger buns and place them split-side down in the pan.  They will soak up the cooking juices of the patties as they toast.  Once they are ridged golden.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Make the Slaw:
Place all of the slaw ingredients in a bowl and toss to mix.

Build Your Burger: 
Place a patty on the bun and top with the slaw.  Add a sliced gerkin and coniments of your choice, crown it with the top portion of the bun and chow down.  Keep lots of napkins within arms reach.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Lemon Pistachio Cake

Whenever I go for a run, I reward myself with cake.  Cake is my carrot.

Lemon Pistachio Cake

For the Cake:
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
115 caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g ground almonds
100g grouns pistachios. plus extra chopped pistachios for sprinkling
Pinch fine sea salt
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
125g self raising flour, sifted

For the Syrup:
100g caster sugar
100ml lemon juice

For the Glaze:
225g icing sugar, sifted
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line a 20cm springform cake pan with baking paper.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for 5 minutes on medium-high, until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.  Stop the mixer and add the ground almonds, ground pistachios, salt, lemon zest and juice and flour.  Mix on low until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Leave the cake in the pan and set the pan on a wire rack to cool.

Make the Syrup:
While the cake is baking, place the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and put it on the stove over a high heat until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat.

Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the still-warm cake in its pan, going all the way through the cake to the bottom of the pan.  Pour the hot syrup all over the cake.  Leave to cool to room temperature before glazing.

Make the Glaze:
Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and pour it over the cooled cake.  Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

Monday, 1 February 2016

In My Kitchen - February 2016

Here's what's happening in my kitchen at the moment...

Chocolate Covered Everything

That saying "too much of a good thing" definitely applied our Christmas chocolate supplies.  I do love chocolate, but the amount we were given for Christmas was more (much more) than we could eat straight from the box, so I've been making the most of it by putting it into all sorts of sweet treats. Chocolate Mousse anyone?

Condiment Caddy

My newest obsession is trays and caddies to store cutlery, sauces, condiments, napkins etc for easy storage and portability.  I've got one for Japanese sauces (above), one for knives/forks/spoons/S&P, one for vinegars, one for pickles, one for hot sauces, one for all the stuff I need for when I fire up the BBQ... the list goes on. They are really handy to grab off the shelf or out of the pantry... not to mention aiding and abetting my OCD.

Homemade Pasta

When you have laying hens, you'll find any excuse to use their delicious eggs.  Pasta is a case in point.  Nothing compares to the silkiness you get from rolling your own dough made with the freshest eggs.  I made these tiny tortellini one afternoon, but ran out of time to photograph the final dish.  If you're interested in making your own filled pasta, my recipe for Ricotta and Spinach Tortelli with a Simple Tomato Sauce is very similar in ingredients and technique.  But be warned, you my never want Barilla again.

Spice Temple by Neil Perry

One of our favourite restaurants is Spice Temple.  When there's something we want to celebrate, we make a booking.  But now, with the publication of this book, we can knock out a bowl of egg noodles with XO and bacon whenever we darn well feel like it... no birthday or anniversary required.


Homegrown tomatoes are the best.  Every year I stress out about not planting enough, then by late February I'm cursing because I have so many tomatoes, I'm stuck in the kitchen on stifling days making ketchup, tomato sauce and passata... this year, I'm sure, will be no different.

Coffee, always Coffee

After quite a lot of scorching weather, we've had a few milder days to see out the end of the boys school holidays.  Cooler weather and imminent early starts mean sleep ins and coffee in bed.  Ethiopian from the local roasters.

So, that's my kitchen for now.

Pop on over and check out the links to bloggers’ kitchens around the world at In My Kitchen with Maureen at Orgasmic Chef.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Meatball Caesar

It was a hot and thundery night when I made this salad.  It followed a day of binge-watching the tennis.  I do it every year when the Australian Open is on.  I sit down to watch a couple of change-of-ends and by the time I turn around, I've consumed 5 sets.  Then I'm so invested, I keep watching until the end of the afternoon session.  That means dinner has to be cooked and eaten before the evening session begins, just so I don't miss a shot.  Tennis tragic? Game-Set-Match.

Meatball Caesar
adapted from here
Serves 4

For the Meatballs:
500g ground chicken
1 salad onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 egg
Tabasco, to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (I use Japanese Worcestershire)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons panko
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Dressing:
1 egg
1 garlic clove, chopped
Juice 1 lime
1 teaspoon American mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I use Japanese Worcestershire)
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan, some shaved, some finely grated for dressing the salad
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:
100g Kaiserfleisch, thinly sliced
A good-size chunk of sourdough, crust removed and torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
300g mixed salad leaves

Make the Meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 200C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put all the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly using your hands.  Roll the mixture into 20 balls.  Place the balls onto the prepared baking tray and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up.

Make the Dressing:
Put all the dressing ingredients into a small food processor and blitz until smooth.  Set aside.

Make the Salad:
Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Lay the Kaiserfleisch on in in one layer.  Top with another sheet of baking paper, put another baking tray on top, sandwiching the bacon between the two trays and cook in the oven until crisp 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove from the tray and drain on kitchen paper.

Wipe the bottom tray with some kitchen paper and place the torn sourdough on it.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and bake in the oven until crisp and golden, about 7 - 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Take the meatballs out of the fridge, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake in the oven for  25 - 30 minutes,  until cooked and golden.  Set aside.

Put the salad greens into a large serving bowl.  Top with croutons, meatballs and bacon.  Drizzle with dressing, toss gently to coat everything in the dressing.  Sprinkle with shaved and grated Parmesan.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Chewy Choc Chunk Skillet Cookie

This is what you make for dessert when the Cookie Monster is coming for dinner... and by Cookie Monster, I mean me.

Chewy Choc Chunk Skillet Cookie
adapted from here

For the Cookie:
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
200g dark chocolate, chopped 
100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
3 eggs
110g (1/2 cup) dark muscovado sugar
110g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, chopped into chunky chunks
100g toasted pecans
15g (1/4 cup) barberries

To Serve:
French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (or your favourite flavour store bought ice cream)

Make the Cookie:
Preheat the oven to 170C.  Grease a 25cm enamel skillet with butter.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into bowl and set aside. 

Put the chocolate and butter into a heat-proof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don't let the bowl touch the water.  Heat until melted.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In the the bowl of an electric mixer, put the eggs, both sugars and vanilla and beat on medium-high for about 2 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add the melted chocolate mixture.  Once combined, add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.  Turn the mixer off and add the chocolate chunks, pecans and barberries.  Fold them until just incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared skillet and bake for 35 - 40 minutes.  The top should be set, but the centre will still have a little wobble to it.  Remove from the oven, and leave it to cool completely in the skillet.  Serve in wedges with your favorite ice cream.