Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Flourless chocolate and butterscotch bites

Despite the weird weather, we are meant to be heading into party season – that time of year where soirees abound and food is given the recognition it yearns for during other times of the year. Christmas dinner and holiday themed food is a major affair, bringing with it the sort of preparation it takes to raise a small child – fruit puddings made months in advance and hams, turkeys and proteins ordered from gleeful butchers the country over. For some reason, every year people fear a global shortage of ham. I don’t think there has been one since the depression but there they are in October ordering big for fear of a celebration sans ham.  I adore the frenzy, and I love that food goes bite-sized. Miniature delights are the perfect way to eat. The ones you don’t like can be artfully spat into a napkin or swallowed whole; while the ones you love, you can have six of as long as you stand in a direct line to the source of catering and spend the rest of the event hovering nearby. These chocolate and butterscotch bites are exactly that – decadent tastes to be enjoyed more than once. The use of almond meal also prolongs their life – they taste just as good a few days in if kept in the fridge as they do straight from the oven.

200g butter
300g dark couveture chocolate
4 eggs
100g brown sugar
100g almond meal
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
100g butterscotch chips *
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160C.
Melt dark chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs and sugar on high until thick and creamy. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Gently stir through the almond meal, baking powder and butterscotch chips until just incorporated.
Spoon into greased mini muffin tins or tins of your choice. Bake for approximately 20 minutes – the middle should still be ever so slightly soft like a brownie. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Butterscotch chips can be purchased online at http://www.usafoods.com.au or some specialty confectionary stores.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Berries with meringue,vanilla yoghurt and musk syrup

This is my new favourite dessert. Meringue, musk, yoghurt and berries –my ultimate food flavour pyramid would be built on these food groups. Musk might seem like a strange childlike choice but it is heaven mixed with fresh summer berries and meringue, and besides there is nothing like adding a Willy Wonka-esque element to dessert. 

While you can serve this with ice cream or cream, the flavours are a little mouth cloying – the slight sourness and lightness of the yoghurt really does make the fruit and musk syrup zing.  Make sure you compile the dessert just before serving – it tastes its best when just combined.

Serves 6

4 eggwhites
250g caster sugar
½ tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp cream of tartar
Musk syrup
100g frozen raspberries and strawberries
100g caster sugar
70g Lifesaver musk lollies
To serve
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
¾ cup good quality yoghurt
Icing sugar to dust
125g fresh raspberries
125g fresh strawberries, hulled
125g fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 140C.
Add the eggwhites and caster sugar to a food processor and beat on medium-high for ten minutes. Add the white wine vinegar and cream of tartar and continue to beat for a further 5- 10 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and you have firm peaks.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Turn out the meringue mixture and using the back of the spoon flatten out until about 5cm thick, but smear at will – this doesn’t have to be precise – the more adulations and peaks the more pretty the meringue in my book.
For the musk syrup add the musk lollies, frozen fruit, caster sugar and 200ml water in a saucepan. Place over low heat and cook for 15 minutes or until sugar and musk lollies have completely dissolved. Set aside to cool. Blitz quickly in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve. Set aside.
Break the meringue into medium-sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl.
Combine the yoghurt and vanilla in a small bowl then pour over the meringue.  Add the berries, dust with icing sugar then spoon over the musk syrup to taste.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chimichurri Lobster Rolls with Salt & Vinegar Crisps

Have I reached burger fatigue? Not yet and I dare say there will always, always be a place in my heart for an expertly cooked wagyu cheeseburger and a hefty side of pickles (here’s looking at you Rockpool Bar & Grill). But increasingly, maybe it’s the flirtation with the warmer weather, I am looking to mix up my middles – and the good old lobster roll is definitely a worthy contender. It partners as perfectly with beer as it does champagne and the use of lobster makes it a little bit summer sun and a little bit schmaancy. The richness of the meat is also a perfect partner for the salty, tangy spicy kick of chimichurri and salt and vinegar which I’ve incorporated here as much for interest as taste.   And between you and me, I think it tastes pretty damn good.

Serves 6-8

½ cup red wine vinegar
Sea salt to taste
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 green shallot, finely chopped
2 jalepeno chilli chopped
1 large bunch coriander, leaves and stems, cleaned
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
1/3 cup dill, leaves picked
¾ cup olive oil

400g freshly picked cooked lobster meat
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 heaped tbsp garlic aioli or kewpie mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to season
6-8 brioche buns or hamburger buns
Salt and vinegar chips

Combine all chimichurri ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a blender and blitz to combine. Slowly, add the olive oil until well incorporated and the mixture has begun to emulsify. If you want a thicker, chunkier chimichurri, add less olive oil. Set aside until ready to serve.
Mix the lobster, celery, lemon juice and garlic aioli in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper and add more aioli, if desired. Fill the rolls with lobster mixture and salt and vinegar chips and top with a heaped spoon of chimichurri.