Monday, 31 March 2008

Cooking star

Today I feel like a cooking god!

A nice quiet day at home inspires a cooking challenge. What could I make that I had never tackled before? Something that intimidates me a little and whose ingredients I had in my house, after three days of no shops being open.

Choux pastry! I am not quite sure why I've been frightened by it, but it just always has seemed a bit grown up and complicated. I had visions of flat unpuffed blobs of cooked dough coming out of the oven. It was time to face that fear. I did a bit of a search for recipes, and found plenty of them. I had a feeling though that the US recipes would be a disaster for me, being as they are, determinedly non-metric. So the following recipe comes to you thanks to (and specifically from Good Taste magazine) and I am pleased to report a complete success.

Choux Pastry


25-30 profiteroles


  • 80ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 40g butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour, sifted
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • Vegetable oil, to grease


  1. Place water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil.
  2. Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture forms a ball and begins to come away from the side of the saucepan. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Whisk 1 egg in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl, then add it to the flour mixture, beating well with a wooden spoon. Gradually add a little of the reserved egg and beat until the mixture just falls from the spoon but still holds its shape. (Now this is where I was kinda stumped, I couldn't figure out what "just falls from the spoon meant"). Too much egg will make the choux rise unevenly and spread. Not enough egg and the choux will be stodgy.
  3. Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a baking tray with oil to lightly grease. Spoon 25-30 teaspoonsful of the mixture onto tray, about 3cm apart. Alternatively, use a pastry bag fitted with a 1.5cm-diameter plain piping nozzle to pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. Brush the tops with a little of the remaining egg. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden.
  4. Remove from oven and turn the oven off. Using a skewer or a small knife, pierce the base (or top) of each profiterole to release the steam. Return the profiteroles to the oven and leave them for 15 minutes to dry out. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Australian Good Taste - April 2003 , Page 88

My workmates were very happy to be taste testers for this particular recipe, in the form of profiteroles and mini chocolate eclairs.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter time... hot cross buns

Every Easter, my dad bakes hot cross buns. The whole family gathers at my parent's place as the smell of yeast and spices fills the air. Soon rows and rows of scrumptious buns come out of the oven to be devoured with glee. If there manage to be left-overs they are toasted and inhaled the next day.

Now I live in Switzerland. These treats simply don't exist here and I can't help feeling sorry for a nation that has never enjoyed the amazingly fragrant and delicious pleasure of a hot cross bun. I asked my dad to send me the recipe and here it is, so anyone can make these at home. I recommend making a double batch so you can freeze some for another day.

Hot Cross Buns

500g plain flour
30g Fresh yeast (1 sachet of dried yeast)
300ml warm milk
60g sultanas
60g currants
60g butter
125g sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Paste for Crosses

1/4 cup plain flour
a little cold water

Crumble yeast into basin, mix with 1 teaspoon each previously measured flour and sugar; mix in warm milk. Stand in warm place 15 minutes or until mixture is spongy. Sift flour, salt and spices into large basin. Rub in butter, add sugar and fruit. Beat egg well, add it to yeast and milk sponge. Add this to flour mixture, make into a soft dough. Cover with clean cloth,stand in warm place 40 minutes: at the end of this time dough should have doubled in bulk.

Turn onto a lightly floured board. Knead well, turning outside edges of dough into centre.
Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. [It should come off your hands easily] Cut into 15 or 16 even sized pieces,knead each piece into a round. Place in greased lamington tin/tray -2 cms apart. Set aside again in warm place for 10 to 15 minutes.

Make paste for crosses by mixing sifted flour to ery soft smooth paste with cold water. Using plain nozzle, pipe crosses on buns or just drizzle onto buns to make crosses.

Bake in hot oven 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from oven brush with glaze made by dissolving sugar and gelatine in hot water. [Alternately boil equal amounts of sugar and water until syrupy. Less sticky]

Serve hot from the oven with butter.

Have fun and don't be scared to bash the dough around.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

I joined the Foodie BlogRoll!

I have joined the Foodie Blog Roll. Basically its a list of food blogs, but also a forum so we foodies can chat if we want. I guess for me it also gets my face (so to speak) out there to be seen. This blogging thing is fun, addictive but also a bit of work, and getting comments on your posts makes it all worthwhile. I love inventing dishes and rather like the idea that someone out there may just make something from one of my recipes one day. Comments help you feel like you're writing is not simply disappearing into a void, which I sometimes suspect is what happens with my webpage.

I also love seeing other people's blogs; being wowed by the photographs and tempted by the recipes. Check out some of the blogs on the roll by clicking on the link on the bar down on the left hand side of this blog page.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Sushi Making Workshop

I ran a sushi making workshop the other day. As always we made vast amounts of sushi and gorged ourselves silly on rice and associated goodies.

I showed my students a sushi making book that my parents gave to me, and they got all inspired. So as well as the usual sushi:

They made a sushi empress:

and emperor:
Cute eh? The photos were taken by my friend Andrey.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Maple Syrup Cookies

I got spoilt on the weekend - a friend gave me half a litre of maple syrup. Now that is a thoughtful gift eh? So I just had to make Maple Syrup Cookies didn't I? (Even calling them cookies, as I know that the Canadians call what we Aussies call biscuits cookies).
These biscuits are deliciously crisp and tasty. There is a teeny bit of work in preparing the maple syrup, but it's well worth the effort for this crunchy mapley goodness and the recipe is simplicity itself.

Maple Syrup cookies
(original recipe by Kiriel)

1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
175g butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups plain flour

Pour the maple syrup into a small pan and simmer down until it becomes 1/4 cup of liquid with a syrupy molasses-type consistency. Dice the butter, and put it and the caster sugar, brown sugar,and maple molasses in a food processor. Blend for about three minutes until the mix is creamy. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until the dough is mixed. Wrap in plastic and sit for at least two hours or overnight.

Turn on your oven to heat to 180 degrees. Break off a piece of the dough and roll out to around 3mm thickness. Cut out shapes and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until a light golden colour. Cool and decorate. I iced mine with an icing made of icing sugar, maple syrup and just a little teeny bit of lemon juice to help the setting.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Click event... metal

I got all inspired by the latest "click event", the theme of which is METAL. As a photographer I make a great cook, but I couldn't resist having a go, with a photo of some of my favourite vegetable cutters.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Lemon mousse tartlets

Another invention, these wee tartlets were something I whipped up (quite literally) to take as nibblies at the concert I sang in last weekend. They were a great success, and I caught one of my fellow singers polishing off 6 in a row!

So this one is definitely worth sharing as a super simple dessert dish. Its so much fun playing with food! Best of all, this recipe is pretty much a "from the cupboard" recipe, where the only fresh ingredient that is needed is cream so it can be made up at very little notice.

Lemon Mousse Tartlets (Original recipe by Kiriel)

400ml cream
200g lemon curd (also known as lemon butter)
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
yellow food colouring
Sweet tartlet shells (this quantity made 50 tiny tartlets)

Whip cream until it has firm peaks. In a bowl combine the lemon curd, lemon juice and icing sugar, then fold gently into the cream. Add yellow food colouring if you want, to give a stronger colour. Pipe into tartlet shells and serve - this can be done up to about an hour and a half before serving - much longer and the shells start to soften. This simple lemon mousse would also work well served in glasses as a dessert at a dinner party - the quantity above will do dessert for 8. I had some left over which I folded fresh strawberries into, which was divine!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Honey Bears

In the new year a friend came to visit and stay for a few weeks. When he left, I made him make a solemn promise that he would eat properly. But as he pointed out, without me there to cook for him, how could he hope to eat properly? Well, good grace means that I have to agree... so of course I had to bake up some biscuits to send him as a care package. I wanted something that would travel well through the post, be tasty, and somehow give him the warmth and hugs that I couldn't be there to give. These honey bears were just the ticket.

A teddy bear's picnic

Honey Bears
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg
4 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Add the egg & honey (the easiest way to deal with the honey is to weigh the bowl with the butter and sugar in it, and then add 125g of honey while it sits on the scales). Beat until light and fluffy. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix through. Knead lightly then wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Roll out the chilled dough to 1/2 a cm and cut out teddy bears. Place the on a baking tray (lightly oiled or with silicone paper) and decorate.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Cool for a while on the tray until firm then move to a rack to cool. Decorate more if you desire and store in an airtight container.

I have entered my first Food Blog Event! Sugar High Friday, hosted by Habeas Brulee.