Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bellini Slushies

Bellini Slushies - the perfect drink for the race that stops the nation.

Melbourne Cup is the one day of the year that I don't love what I do. As a freelancer, the joys of not working in an office are endless, except in November when I wish I was with everyone else. Preferably at the race, but if not, off to lunch or enjoying chicken sandwiches and a glass of shampoo together in the boardroom, placing bets and watching the race. I daresay this year though I am prepared. And that preparation comes in the form of bellini slushies for this week's column on Daily Life - a lovely frosty combination of peach nectar and champagne.

The mixed drink seems to have a bad reputation. Sad really when said reputation rarely has anything to do with taste and everything to do with those people who drink something in the hope it says something about how they’d like to be perceived. But let’s be honest, the red wine and cola combo. Heaven. And the lemonade ‘n’ beer shandy. Well, that’s pure genius. The greatest though, hands down, is the Bellini. The heady fruity concoction of peach and the slight tartness of champagne are soul mates, and it is the perfect accessory for the race that stops the nation. It’s pretty to look at, its svelte, long and lean in the glass, it has bubbles and its lower alcohol content means the majority of us can at least numb the pain of the stilettos while maintaining uber-sophisticated race day conversation like ‘form’, ‘handicaps’ and ‘home turns’.

Serves 6

750ml Prosecco
330ml peach nectar
2 tbsp caster sugar

Add all ingredients to a freezer proof bowl. Stir to combine and until sugar has dissolved. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The champagne means the mixture will be icy and pulpy. To serve, quickly run a spoon through the mixture then heap into glasses and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cooking the Books

Kicking off today's cooking the books is the new title from Valli Little, Home Cooking. Pretty much anyone who has ever picked up a whisk has cooked (knowingly or not) one of Valli's recipes. She is the head of the food team at the ever beautiful Delicious Magazine and again with this hard cover lustworthy book, her recipes don't disappoint.

The book is broken up into seasons with the added benefit of suggested menus to ensure epic culinary efforts in the kitchen. It has the kind of recipes with enough tricks to excite you but with the convenience of relatively straightforward ingredients that won't have you running about town in a tizz trying to get your hands on.

To be honest I found this pretty difficult and I dare say this book is going to suffer from plenty of food stains. But I fear the pages may stick together forever on this one. Here is hoping I commit it to memory before then. It's the beautiful, lust worthy apricot tart. Doesn't it look like summer on a plate? What I love best, is it's a more highbrow version of those Nanna's apricot pies we used to eat on occasion when we were little kids.


Valli Little is no stranger to the kitchen - that is probably the be all and end all of what any of us want from someone writing our cookbooks. But beyond that she is also the food editor of the ubiquitous Delicious magazine. She is the author of multiple cookbooks, a trained chef and an old hat at turning out failsafe recipes worth your time and expenditure on ingredients.

Because the recipes are the kind of eating we love to do best. The Spring and Summer chapters are deserving of space under your tree this Christmas. You want people to be making this stuff, who doesn't want to be invited over for something as simple and delicious as peppered tuna. Or there is a recipe for 8 hour pork belly with a peanut relish. Criminal. I've already made it twice. My butcher is now trying to offer me a leaner cut of meat, I think he smells trouble. The kind created by excessive crackling consumption.
This is going to be on high rotation at your old faithfuls - Dymocks and the like. It's online everywhere and a quick google brings up further options. It retails for $49.99 but I'm sure if you put your mind to it, you might find more competitive online prices.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Soft centred chocolate tortini with Ferrero Rocher crumble

If you are thinking “oh no, I possibly couldn’t” or “summer is here” please stop. Walk around the block, mutter a few stern words and give yourself a wee tap on the reality knuckles. This is a TREAT; a use it to woo a lover, eat during an intimate bout of self-loathing, make your skinny friends a little less skinny kind of treat. Comprende? And all that aside, it tastes delicious so why on earth wouldn’t you?  It takes all of 10 minutes to prepare and you can make the batter, refrigerate it in the moulds if time is against you, and whip it out at a moment’s notice like the genius that you are.  I’ll cut to the chase, it’s a winner. And you should cook it now. Then jump on the bat phone and invite me over to eat it. We could be bff’s forever.
Serves 6

160g dark chocolate (70%), chopped
160g butter, coarsely chopped
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
50g plain flour
Vanilla ice cream to serve

Ferrero Rocher crumble
2 tsp good quality cocoa powder
8  ferre roche, refrigerated

Preheat oven to 170C.
Grease and line 6 x 10cm loose-bottom pie tins.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stir to combine and set aside to cool. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, yolks and sugar for 6-8 minutes or until think and creamy. Gradually sift over the flour and whisk to combine, then add the chocolate mixture and whisk for another few minutes. Divide the mixture between the pie tins and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. It is important the mixture is completely cooled to achieve the soft centre when cooking.
Bake the tortini for 10 minutes or until they are firm but their centres are soft. Don’t be alarmed, these are not the sort of desserts meant to rise to lofty heights, you will have thick, dense disks of pudding – more than enough for each person. While the tortini are cooking, make the crumble by gently crushing the Ferrero Rocher in a bowl. Sprinkle over the cocoa powder and toss gently to combine.To serve, gently remove the tortini from the pie tins and place on plates, top with a scoop of ice cream and spoon over the crumble. Serve immediately, then lie down very flat on the couch after you have finished.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coconut Poached Chicken, Mango and Wild Rice Salad

At the moment work is hectic. So the recipes that are most useful to me right now are not those that I can knock up in a few minutes, but those that involve cooking one day for the next. Coming home after a full on day (often in someone else’s kitchen) in the start of summer’s heat to “something I prepared earlier” is a lifesaver. Poached chicken is quite possible life’s answer to being busy. The early part of the week sees you poaching a chicken, letting it cool, then feasting on it for the rest of the week. Here is what I also like about poached chicken. Put chicken in pot and cover with liquid. Add heat. When liquid boils, reduce to a mere simmer and skim off the froth. Add other bits and bobs if using. Do not let the water boil again or chicken may get upset. When drained, said chicken is ready for (A) serving hot or (B) cooling for a later love tryst with the good old mayo and bread, or taste sensations like this colourful Asian flavoured salad (this weeks column on Daily Life). 
This dish also serves well for impromptu Saturday lunch gatherings – it’s so damn pretty to look at with all its colours, a cinch to make, and even better to eat. I have a feeling this is going to be on high rotation this summer.

Serves 4

2 double chicken breasts
400ml light coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar

200 g wild rice
2 small mangoes, cubed
1 large red chilli, deseeded, finely sliced
Juice and zest of 1 lime
½ cup each coriander, Vietnamese mint, Thai Basil, leaves pulled

Place the coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool the chicken in the poaching liquid. Rinse the wild rice under running water then cook in a saucepan of boiling water according to packet instructions. Allow to cool before combining in a large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients. Shred the chicken and add to the salad, spooning over a few tablespoons of the poaching liquid. Serve immediately.

And at long last Kitchen Coquette is finally available on Amazon UK and US sites for purchase. Hip hip hoorrrahhh.