Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mango, Passionfruit Coconut pops with kaffir lime sugar and chilli salt.

Here's the truth. I'm not particularly built for making cold desserts. Love them. Hells yes, I am human after all. But it's not often I find myself going into the kitchen with the inspiration for procuring an ice cream influenced dessert from the ravages of my mind. That is until I need to remind myself of summer holidays in Asia like it was nobodies business.
I became obsessed with the dipping of fruit or sweet ices in a chilli sugar and salt combo when I was cooking in Thailand. There is something about being in the hot sun, shoving something cold and sweet in your mouth only to have it followed by this tart, zinging and saccharine sensation that has you smacking your lips and rubbing your cheeks just in front of your ears as the saliva flows only to move to your forehead as the cold headache rages. It might look strange but the party of reactions is sensational.
The weather of late has been questionable to say the least so you are obviously going to have to pick your day/moment to enjoy these to their full effect. And if you want to make a more grown up version, a healthy dash of white rum through the mango mix will help that along nicely. I won't tell anyone. I just expect hope for an an invite so I can share one with you.

Makes 6

Ice pops
Flesh of 1 large mango, chopped
Juice and pulp of 4 passionfruits
200ml coconut milk
palm sugar to taste
dash of lime juice
Dipping sugar salt
3 kaffir lime leaves, deveined, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tsp dried thai chilli
Add the kaffir lime and chilli salt ingredients in a small bowl and toss to combine.
Add the mango and passion fruit to a blender and pulse until a puree – be careful not to over pulse as you want the passionfruit seeds to retain their shape and texture not become little black nightmares that will get stuck in your teeth.  
Scoop the mixture into the base of 6 ice cream moulds.
Add the coconut milk, lime juice and palm sugar (if using) to a saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar has melted and is fully incorporated into the milk. Gently pour over the top of the mango mixture in the moulds then place the moulds in the freezer until firm (at least 3 hours). Run the moulds briefly under hot water to separate the ice creams and serve immediately with the chilli dipping mixture.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A pretty cous cous salad

Time to call a spade a spade and be honest about one thing. Cous cous is two minute noodles for grown-ups. It’s just a bit of weirdly rubbery, but rewardingly tasty stuff that gets boiled in water, lathered in seasoning and inhaled at warp speed with a kind of undimmed fury.

I’ve embraced the notion of dressing it up here with salad that is as close as you might get to eating a bunch of flowers from a plate. Pretty non? There is an emphasis on fresh herbs and some zingy fruit pieces which lightens the whole proposition and if you were wanting to make a real meal out of it, serve it with a silky hummus whipped up with tahini and lots of fluffy, warm flatbread washed down with icy cold white wine. Yep that is definitely a meal for grown ups.
 Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
170g Israeli cous cous
500ml chicken stock
pinch saffron threads
1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled, segmented
saffron threads
1 small handful of cranberries
1 small handful of watercress leaves
6 tbsp Persian feta
1 tbsp dried flowers*

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add couscous and stir to toast and coat (1-2 minutes). Add chicken stock, saffron threads and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until tender (8-10 minutes). Drain off any excess liquid and set aside. While the cous cous is still slightly warm, add the Persian feta and stir gently to combine. Turn out into a serving dish and top with remaining ingredients.
Mix the dressing ingredients, stir to combine and dissolve the sugar then drizzle over the dressing to taste, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

* Available from the Essential Ingredient or the Melbourne Food Depot

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Golden Rough

I had what can only be described as an epic craving for a golden rough – that delightful disc of milk chocolate and coconut. No such luck. I feared it wasn't meant to be – they exist on Ebay in boxes of 100s yes but at any of my local food stores, no.
So I took it upon myself to make a dessert that would quell any current and future needs for all things chocolate and coconut. This is it and you are going to want to get face deep in it immediately. It's a hedonistic mix of coconut chocolate and buttermilk cake, vanilla and chocolate ice cream and coconut macarons. It will see my coconut chocolate fix (and yours) into the next millennium.
Obviously you are going to have more cake than what is needed but when is too much cake EVER a problem? Exactly. My thoughts also. You're welcome.
This also works just as well if you create your own 'mix ins' combining everything into a crunchy, cakey chilled mix to eat at warp speed causing cold headaches and the need to lie down immediately on the couch under the fan post consumption. The only way summer desserts should be consumed.

Chocolate coconut buttermilk cake
130g butter
225g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g plan flour
75g dutch cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
300ml buttermilk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 x 250g block of coconut milk chocolate, broken into chunks
coconut macarons (about 2 per serve)
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate ice cream
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugars until pale and creamy. Add the eggs slowly, beating well after each egg is added. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate soda and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine before adding to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla seeds. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are mixed but be careful not to over mix. Gently fold through the chunks of coconut chocolate then pour into the cake tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to col completely.
Cut the cake and crumble about a quarter of it into a bowl. You want about ¼ cup of cake crumbs per serve so cut the cake according to the number of serves you require. Reserve, covered, until ready to serve.
To serve, place the cake crumb in the base of serving glasses. Top with a scoop of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, a few more cake crumbs and then one or two coconut macarons. Continue layering until you can't fit anymore in. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shredded duck dumpling with spiced hoi sin and green onion crunch

Makes 40

This is a quick, cheating version of dumplings where the craving outweighs the desire for a trip out for your secret local best; particularly so when that secret local seems to also be everyone elses and the idea of a line up or quick n dirty yum cha leaves you cold. 
The need for dumplings often comes on hard and fast – they are easily one of the most intensely powerful comforting foods ever devised by a species – silky skins barely containing a bolus of what one can only presume is meat and vegetable in varying degrees – quite simply they are ahhhmazing.
Despite the shortcuts of bought bbq duck  – there is still the folding and steaming effort involved here but the payoff is legendry. The sweetness of the hoi sin combined with the softness of the meat and the odd surprise crunch of crisp duck skin you accidently/purposefully left in there make these little pillows of goodness belong in the bedroom of your mouth. Immediately.

200g BBQ duck meat, coarsely shredded
2 egg yolks
1 carrot, peeled, grated
¼ cup Chinese cabbage, finely chopped
½ red onion, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon freshly shredded ginger
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 x 40 pack wonton wrappers (I used square wrappers)

2 green onions, finely chopped
fried shallots

Dipping sauce
½ tbsp. Aleppo pepper
½ cup hoi sin sauce or dark sweet soy sauce
Juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

To make the dumplings mix the dumpling ingredients (except for the wrappers) in a bowl.  Arrange 4 wrappers on a work surface; keep the rest covered with a damp paper towel. Brush the edges of the wrappers with water and drop 1 tablespoon of the filling in the centres then fold all four corners to meet at a peak in centre and squeeze edges to seal. Place peak-side-up on a lightly floured tray and continue with remaining wrappers and duck filling.

Heat oil in a large frying pan, add dumplings, peak-side-up (making sure they don’t touch one another) and cook in batches over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a large bamboo steamer placed over a wok of boiling water and steam until skins are slightly translucent and filling is cooked through (4-6 minutes).
Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Toss the fresh and cooked shallots. Top dumplings with the shallots mixture and serve with the dipping sauce.