Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Its a cheese thing

My jealousy of Melbournians and greater Victorians grows after a recent trip to Melbourne and some regional parts of Victoria including the Bellarine Peninsula. I was on a five day famil researching for a story I am writing for an international magazine and part of this included a visit to Drysdale Cheeses. My lordy this is goats cheese like you've never tasted goats cheese. And after visiting the beautiful Corrine and her herd of happy goats I'm no longer surprised. Each goat is named and loved like a child and Corrine is just truly delightful as is her dedication to the process of making cheese. She is really focused on educating chefs rather than just selling to restaurants - a great marketing philosophy to live by although the secret is out and I think the general public are going to be keeping Corrine just as busy as the chefs buying up her cheese. I was particularly taken by one goat Wanda - she was such a poser for the camera, showing me her best side - so sweet.
If you ever get a chance to visit the truly beautiful Bellarine Peninsula make sure you organise to stop by and visit. Just make sure you check the website here to confirm open farm gate times because in the words of Corrine, she might be "talking to her goats or tending to curds". Amen to that sister.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nice Buns....Espresso Caramel Sticky Buns

Nice buns
Espresso Caramel Sticky Buns

My love of baked goods is well documented and the motivation for this weeks Daily Life column. And this recipe is for those that share said addiction for baking and caking; and anyone else keen to eat a bit of insanely delicious sticky messy coffee caramel buns. The caramel indulgently oozes through the buns like a road map, sometimes nesting right inside the swirls of bun, a sweet surprise prowling at their heart. They are bites of comfort, soft, warm, sweet and reassuring like a hug from your oldest friend. But these are not your fancy schmancy French patisserie style baked good. These buns are sticky, punchy and the kind of baked good you want with a mug of builder’s tea rather than a delicate floral blend sipped from Limoge fine china.
And yes they require a commitment of time rather than effort but the get in my face smell of them baking is the kind of pre-eating excitement that gives you goose bumps. What's not to love.

7g dried yeast
375ml warm milk
550g plain flour (try to use low protein flour)
100g caster sugar
1 egg
100g butter, softened
1 egg for wash
Pinch sea salt to serve

Espresso Caramel
½ cup butter
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup cream
60ml espresso

Line a 25cm high sided baking tin with baking paper and set aside. Place the yeast and the warm milk in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the flour, sugar, egg and butter. Stir to combine.  If you have an electric mixer, fit the dough hook and mix on low speed for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If mixing by hand, stir and work the dough for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1 ½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Flour your work surface then plop the dough onto the floured area. Knead into a ball then roll it out to a large rectangle (about 25cm x 40cm).
Add the butter and brown sugar to a small saucepan and place over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until bubbling and sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients, stir quickly to combine and continue to cook until warmed through and slightly thickened.
Pour 1/3 cup of the caramel into the base of the cooking tin, rolling it around so the caramel covers the base. 
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Smear two tablespoons of the caramel over the rectangle of dough – as if you are smearing tomato over pizza dough. Roll the dough into a log then cut into 10 – 12 slices. Place the slices cut side up in the prepared tin. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes. Whisk egg with 1/2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg wash. Cook the buns for 30 minutes or until brown and they spring back to the touch. Spoon over the remaining espresso caramel, allow to cool in the pan slightly before serving warm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mexican Corn & Blackbean Salad with Coffee Chipotle Mayonnaise

Mexican Corn & Black Bean Salad

This recipe is an adaptation from the infamous Mexican food heavyweight Enrique Olvera. He’ll be gracing our shores for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in March next year and to celebrate his impending masterclass debut he kindly shared a corn recipe. A dish that he has become rather famous for. Said recipe calls for chicanta – that’s ground ants for you and I. While I definitely consider myself an adventurous eater I’ve had many a brief and torrid encounters with ants in my lemonade/ribbon sandwich/culinary picnic item of choice in the great outdoors over the years and ants are not for me. I’m being grossly presumptuous and assuming they are not for you either so I’ve swapped in chipotle into the mayonnaise instead. For the authenticity slaves among us, the original recipe is up verbatim on the blog. With this version I’ve no doubt bastardized a Mexican street food favourite but with the addition of black beans, coriander and avocado, this salad tastes great and won’t see you running around headless at specialty food stores asking where they might stock the dried ants.

425g corn, husks removed, quartered
250g baby corn
1 bunch coriander, washed, roughly chopped
1 avocado, deseeded, roughly chopped
1 450g tin black beans, drained
1 red onion, finely sliced

1 egg yolk
20g Dijon mustard
250 ml vegetable oil
20g finely ground coffee
5g chipotle powder (ground dried chipotle chillies)
1 tbspn lime juice, strained
1 tbspn salt

Add the egg yolk and mustard to a bowl. Whisk until they emulsify. Drizzle in the oil while whisking continually until a mayonnaise texture is achieved. Add the coffee, chipotle and lime-juice. Season with salt to taste and refrigerate until serving.

Char grill the corn pieces until cooked to your liking, starting with the quartered corn as this will take longer to cook and adding the baby corn for the last few minutes of cooking. Smear the mayonnaise over the corn, basting and turning the corn pieces until coated, reserving some of the mayonnaise for serving.

Place the coriander, avocado, black beans and onion in a large salad bowl and toss gently to combine. Add the corn and serve warm with the extra mayonnaise.

For more info on the festival you should check out the website and get in quick. The events sell out at lightening speed. I already have an unhealthy shortlist of chefs I'd love to see.

Here is the original recipe for the corn dish of Enrique's. If anyone knows where in Sydney we can get fried ants, please let me know, I really would like to try this dish using the original recipe. Also if anyone makes this, please do let me know how you get on.

*** Update on the Ants. Evidently green ants are part of our indigenous cuisine. Thanks to our friendly reader Claire, aboriginals include green ants with a tart and quite citrus flavour profile to food. Thanks Claire and if anyone finds out how we can get our hands on some ants let us know and I'll update the post.

|  SERVES 4  |


12 ears baby corn, cleaned

1 egg yolk
20g Dijon mustard
250 ml vegetable oil
20g finely ground coffee
5g ground chicatana ant
1 Tbspn lime juice, strained
1 Tbspn salt

totomoztle SALT

4 dried Totomoztle corn husks
1 Tbspn water
250g Colima salt


1 baby corn recipe
60g chicatana mayonnaise
4g totomoztle salt
1 Tbspn totomoztle


Roast corn ears on a comal griddle over medium heat until cooked and browned. Skewer ears on a small wooden stick and keep hot.

Beat egg yolks and mustard until they emulsify. Drizzle in oil while beating until the proper mayonnaise texture is achieved. Add coffee and ground ant, lime juice and salt. Keep refrigerated.

Moisten dried corn husk in warm water until it becomes flexible. Add water to the salt until a pasty consistency is achieved. Remove the husk from the water and fill it with the salt mix; close the husk tamale-style. Bake at 160˚C for 45 minutes to an hour, until salt is compacted. Remove the husk, crumble the salt and set aside.

Spread chicatana mayonnaise on the baby corn ears; dust with a bit of salt. Fill the lec gourd recipient with totomoztle husks.

With a smoking pipe/gun—lit and filled with totomoztle—fill the lec with smoke, add three ears baby corn, re-cover the lec and serve immediately. Repeat for the three remaining lecs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Carrot Cake...but not as you know it.

Friends gather in.
This is carrot cake, but not as you know it. I recently ate a rather questionable amount of carrot cake at the amazing Rosendahl CafĂ© in Stockholm and for a cake that never excited me, I’ve been hooked on it ever since. While most people seem to like the idea because carrot insinuates health motivated consumption, I tend to know where my lines are drawn; carrot and cake were, until my recent conversion, on separate paths that never the twain shall meet. But convert I did and preachy I am.  So I’ve adapted your bog standard carrot cake recipe here to include the lighter floral flavours of orange and violet to make it the perfect cake for summer.  The flavours are a little more complex, layered like. It’s the sort of cake you could be friends with. It will surprise you and annoy you and inspire you and make you laugh and be there for you to eat in copious amounts if you are going through a rough patch. Basically, it’s a really nice damn cake.

3 eggs
3 teaspoons orange blossom water
250ml canola oil
300g caster sugar
400g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
3 tsp cardamom, ground
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
400g carrots, peeled, finely grated

200g soft unsalted butter
200g cream cheese
2tsp orange blossom
3dl (300g) icing sugar
Rind and juice of 1 lemon

Crystallised violets and edible flowers to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Butter and flour two 20cm-diameter cake pans with high sides. Line bases with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, orange blossom water, oil and sugar until thick and smooth.
Sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl and stir gently to combine. Add to the egg mixture with the carrot and stir the batter gently until just combined. Divide between the two baking trays. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, between 40 and 60 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks. Peel off the baking paper and allow to cool completely before icing. To make the icing, beat the cream cheese, butter and orange blossom in a large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the icing sugar and lemon zest.
Place one cake on a platter. Spread the icing evenly over. Top with the second cake. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides if desired. Top with edible flowers and crystalised violets.