Pulling Sugar

23 Feb

One of my subjects this term is ‘Sugar Work’, it is most excellent.

Today we started learning how to ‘pull sugar’.

Here’s some photos of the proceedings…

The boiling sugar

Pouring the sugar out onto a silicon mat (on a slab of marble) to cool it down

Pulling the sugar

Pieces of coloured sugar under a heat lamp

The start of my ‘ribbon sugar’

Sugar ribbon

Finally….how very awesome!

Le Petit Gateau

8 Feb

Last year in my patisserie course we went on an excursion visiting various patisseries and chocolate shops around the city (a lovely excursion). One of the places we went was Le Petit Gateau on Little Collins Street in the city. It was quite lovely. They had beautiful pastries and cakes (simple but effective), wonderful coffee and a window through to the kitchen so you can watch the chefs and cooks at work (yay).

Today I went back there with two of my lovely friends (hmm…perhaps I should use a thesaurus for the word lovely), Heather and Blair. Along with various beverages, we tried a ‘Black Beauty’…it was quite splendid. I can’t remember exactly what was in it, but it did contain chocolate mousse (anything that contains chocolate mousse is already amazing to me) and some kind of delicious vanilla bean cream (and berry coulis). And then there was the the gold leaf on top!

Here’s my ‘not-so-clear’ picture of it:

… Yes, I like this place quite a lot (even though I have been there all of twice). So you can imagine my excitement when I see signs around William Angliss about a possible work experience opportunity there…fingers crossed, I desperately hope I get it!

Pink & Yellow

7 Feb

Recently my friends Peri and Dylan got engaged.

Peri asked me to make the engagement cake.

The cake was a simple butter cake with marshmallow icing.

Here’s how the decorating went

(She wanted pink and yellow flowers on white iced cake. So I made lots of flowers out of fondant.)

Breakfast is Lovely

6 Feb

I love breakfast!

Usually, I just have a bowl of cereal and go on my merry way. But what I really love is going out for breakfast, or taking the time on a lazy Saturday morning to prepare a lovely cooked breakfast.

This morning after I had already poured my bowl of cereal, I decided that Saturday was not a day for cereal. So I put the cereal away and got to work.

I ended up with toasted turkish bread topped with tomato relish, baby spinach, bacon (sadly we only had rindless bacon in the fridge), a poached egg and of course salt and pepper.

It was all remarkably easy and was definitely worth the extra time it took…so much better than cereal.

How to poach an egg.

– Fill a pot (smallish) with water and tip in some white vinegar (probably about a 1/4 cup)

– Heat the water to just before boiling (you want there to be lots of rapidly moving tiny bubbles)…make sure it’s not actually boiling when you put the egg in because it’s too rough (for lack of a better word) for the egg.

– Crack and egg into a small bowl (make sure the yolk is intact). It’s best if you use relatively fresh eggs because the yolks hold together much better.

– When the water is heated to the correct point, gently lower the bowl into the water and tip the egg gently in.

– Providing the water is hot enough (but not too hot) and you have enough vinegar in the water, the egg should pretty much hold it’s shape.

– Cook for about 2 minutes until the white of the egg is cooked (firm to touch), the yolk should remain runny (you can cook it longer if you don’t like runny yolks). You can test if the yolk is still soft by removing it from the pot with a slotted spoon and very gently touching the area where the yolk is located, it should feel quite soft and liquidy to the touch.

– Drain in a slotted spoon and eat immediately.

A Little More Regarding the Prepartion

6 Feb

After carefully documenting and posting the prepartation of the panna cotta for my Dad’s 50th party, I thought photos from the other desserts I made would provide plenty of fodder for future posts. Not the case.  As obsessive as I get about taking photos, I somehow managed to take very few of both the cooking and the final products. Consequently, I’ve felt very little motivation to come and post about it all.

But here I am, and I’ll make what I can out of the few photos I do have…I do hope it’s not too boring.

I made mini cheesecakes again and found that the overall process was made exceptionally easy by the help of my wonderful new(ish) food processor. There’s just something so delightful about crushing biscuits to smithereens in a matter of seconds. Last time I made them (when I was making around 80+) I had to crush the biscuits in layers of ziplock bags with a rolling pin. Sure it was fun for the first few seconds, but you certainly get over it in a hurry.

Apart from the cheesecakes, I also made individual chocolate mousses which were served with whipped cream, little fishies and segments of Terry’s chocolate orange. If you’re wondering what on earth little fishies are, they’re simply those mandarin segments you get in a can. While we were decorating the the mousses, my lovely sister Bec informed me that she’d read on a blog somewhere that they were called ‘little fishies’, ever since I haven’t been able to get the name out of my head…I find it slightly cute, somewhat creepy and altogether rather amusing.

This is one of the only pictures I took that has anything to do with the chocolate mousse…so here it is.

Some time in the not-too-distant future I intend to make chocolate mousse and use Terry’s Chocolate Orange melted as a substitute for the normal dark chocolate…I imagine it will taste quite amazing (because Terry’s Chocolate Orange is amazing, not because I made it).

That is all.

Panna cotta = cooked cream

29 Jan

Apparently in Italian panna cotta simply means ‘cooked cream’ … rather uninspiring really, luckily it sounds good in Italian.

Although boring in its translation, at least when it’s made in Australia it tastes no less amazing (Well actually…1. I don’t know this for fact as I’ve never actually been to Italy. 2. As it is an Italian dessert it probably is made better in its home country. 3. What food isn’t going to taste better in Italy…I mean…it’s Italy!).

Regardless, it does taste wonderfully good (given a good recipe of course).

Since studying to be a pastry chef at William Angliss Institute, one of my most favourite recipes (that is very easy, and very doable at home) that we’ve made in class has been a coconut panna cotta with a pineapple and banana confit. So when deciding what to cook for my Dad’s 50th party (which is tomorrow night), I simpy had to make it (minus the confit as we opted for the low fuss option of serving it with berries).

And here is the recipe… (as I’m taking this straight from my TAFE recipe book, it serves around 20 (non-greedy) people)

1200ml cream

400ml milk

200gm desiccated coconut

250gm caster sugar

11 leaves of gelatine (no one on the internet seems to agree on the conversion from gelatin leaves to powder, but go with just over a gram per leaf)

320ml coconut milk

80ml Malibu rum (If you don’t have this, just use extra coconut milk)

Instructions

– Toast the coconut (but not in the toaster…hehe), either do it on the stove top in a saucpan or on a baking tray in the oven. Toast it till it’s a golden brown colour (it will smell amazing).

– Add the coconut, sugar, cream and milk into a saucpan and bring to the boil (stir a little).

– Remove it from the heat. Strain about a cup of liquid into a large bowl and whisk in the gelatin (if you’re using gelatin leaves make sure you soak them in cold water first). Allow the rest of the mixture to sit in the saucepan for around 20 minutes to infuse the coconut flavour.

– Strain the rest of the mixture into the gelatin mix and combine.

– Add the Malibu and the coconut milk and mix.

– Allow the mixture to cool and then pour into moulds (the best molds to use are dariole molds because then the panna cotta can be removed from the mold and sit freely on a plate…but I sadly don’t own any so I just used little plastic cups. I’ve also used glass wine glasses before and they looked quite lovely in them)

– Refridgerate till set (they’ll probably take at the very least, 3 hours to set)

– They taste best served with fruit of some description.

When we made it for the William Angliss Bistro, we served it with a pineapple and banana confit (which is amazing) and deep fried wontons coated in cinnamon sugar…lovely.

Here’s the recipe for the confit.

100gm caster sugar

30ml water

300gm pineapple (chopped a similar size to the banana rounds)

1/2 vanilla bean

300gm banana (chopped into circles)

– Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar, increase the heat a little and bring to the boil (don’t stir, but brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization).

– Cook the sugar till it is light caramel in colour and add the vanilla bean.

– Add the pineapple and cook over heat till it becomes a bit translucent.

– After adding the pineapple the sugar mix might become all crystallized…don’t worry, keep stirring it will eventually go away.

– Remove from heat and add the banana…stir.

– Cool mixture and serve it with the panna cotta.

ENJOY

Overcooked Rice

27 Jan

I love Risotto…and I think my Dad does too, although he always says Risotto is just a fancy word for overcooked rice.

A few nights ago I was wondering what to cook for dinner. Mum had just been shopping an bought some aborio rice, so I decided I’d make a risotto (I love risotto).

Initially I was going to cook the usual recipe I make (chicken, mushrooms, bacon, garlic, wine…all things lovely), but then I decided I’d like to try something a little different.

I spent a little time browsing around on the web for recipes (the interenet has some of the best recipes!) and finally decided that I’d try make a lemon and rocket risotto.

Most of the recipes I’d found didn’t quite suit what I had in the kitchen, so I read a few and from there made it up as I went along.

It worked excellently…I’ll definitely try and repeat it in the future.

I don’t know the exact quantities of ingredients I used…but it was probably something like this.

(serves around 4 people)

2 cups aborio rice

70g butter

1 onion chopped finely

1-2 cups white wine

1.2L chicken stock

1tsp crushed red chilli

500g chicken

2 handfuls grated fresh parmesan

2 handfuls of rocket

1 lemon (juice and rind)

dash of oil

salt & pepper

And the recipe went something like this.

– Cut the chicken in to small pieces and fry in the oil with a little salt and pepper and half the chilli (set aside)

– Melt the butter (add a tiny bit of oil and this will prevent the butter from burning really quickly) and add the onions

– Stir the onions in the butter and add the rice, stir until the rice begins to become translucent (if there doesn’t appear to be enough butter to coat the rice, just add more)

– Reduce the heat, add the wine and lemon juice and stir

– After some of the wine and juice has been absorbed (when the overall liquid is reduced a little), add chicken stock (stagger additions of a cup or two), stir after each addition but don’t over stir the mix or the rice grains will break up too much

– Basically keep adding more chicken stock until the rice is soft and creamy (when it reaches this stage stop adding liquid, rice absorbs liquid at different rates so it’s hard to say exactly how much liquid you’ll need)

– When it’s ready, stir in the chicken, parmesan, rocket, lemon rind and any salt and pepper you want

– Eat (a lot of the recipes I looked at had fish instead of chicken…something like tuna…so try that if you wish)

Spiced Macarons

25 Jan

When looking back over my past blog entries I realised something, it’s been way to long since I last made macarons!

And so I decided it was time I gave them another go.

I particularly love chocolate and spices together, so I decided that this time I’d make spiced macarons with a spiced chocolate ganache filling.

I gathered my ingredients.

And then began the process of making them.

And so then the mix was ready to pipe on to trays and let sit to form a shell.

After the resting I put them in the oven to bake.

The first tray I think I slightly undercooked because they were difficult to get off the tray. To ensure the next lot didn’t stick I made sure I left them it a fair amount longer…and thus managed to over cook them (well done Emily). Luckily they didn’t burn, they’re just extremely crispy macarons.

I think I’m going to have a do a tad more macaron research (you’d be surprised at how much information there is out there about them). Find out what (apart from undercooking) makes them stick.

But enough of that, they were not destroyed and I think they ended up looking and tasting quite lovely once they were filled with the spiced chocolate ganache. I got a little carried away photographing them.

Here are a few of the better photos I took (there would have been even more if I was better at actually getting my camera to focus).

Grug

23 Jan

I was thinking, it’s about time I posted about some of the cakes I’ve made for various birthdays and events. The only one that’s made an appearance on here so far is my ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ cake, and that was ages ago.

So to begin with I thought I’d post about Grug.

Grug is awesome…he’s hard not to love.

My friend Justin is semi-obsessed with grug, so for his birthday a while back I made him a Grug cake. It was remarkably simple…and I was very happy with the final result!

Food + Friends = Lovely

22 Jan

Two of my very favourite things are food and friends (in no particular order)…combine them and you’re bound to have an excellent time.

And that’s just what I had a while back with a few of my very closest friends.

We spent the morning in the hills. Ate breakfast at one of my favourite places up there (oh my, how I love going out for breakfast). Drank excellent coffee (there’s something so lovely about an excellent coffee), and then spent a bit of time sitting among the trees at some location that wasn’t exactly where we were looking for, but was lovely none the less.

After that we all trooped back to mine after a quick visit to the local supermarket for the supplies we needed to concoct a delicious, if not belated lunch (and we collected a few other things I needed…plus peaches…I love peaches).

When we finally got back to mine we proceeded to chop and blend (and taste test) till we had some lovely pesto (which included some home grown basil from my herb garden…yay) and some wonderful hommus. We proceeded to eat what we’d just made with some olive bread (which my dad had bought earlier from the local farmers market…I’m still not sure that we were suppose to have eaten it…but it was delicious).

So this is how it went…

We prepared.

We peeled.

We chopped.

We crushed.

We blended.

And finally…it was ready…we ate.

Altogether a lovely day (and it finished with some rather silly/ridiculous happenings…I won’t go into the details, but the words, “I am a fine gentleman”, came out of my mouth).

Oh and thanks to Blair for the photos!