Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Pot of Carrots Under Every Rainbow...

As I prepare for my normal Saturday morning farmers market run, under the steam of my second cup of ambition, there is a true sense of ambition as to what new discovery will occur today.
Last week I bought the first asparagus of the season and some AMAZING veal chops. I was also lucky enough to be given (yes freebie disclosure) some veal bones to make stock. This is the story behind the veal.
The veal chops just were treated to a quick brown in some butter and 10 minutes in the oven to finish them off, and there simply aren't enough foodie words to describe the tender, sweet, heavenly flavour.
It just goes to strengthen the argument that with the best produces you don't need to put it through 8 different processes, to have it as a gel, foam, a mist or even a soil.
(Oh I just can't wait to try the next deconstructed salted caramel soil, sorry was that too harsh? Maybe I need another cup of ambition?)

With this theory in mind one of my staples purchases at the market are carrots, and yes people carrots aren't just the new orange, they are a rainbow of colour.

This salad can be enjoyed raw, but I opt for a light blanching just to take the raw edge off

Rainbow Carrot Salad
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seed ground (see note)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Salt
  • In a fry pan on medium heat, toast the almonds with the cumin and a pinch of salt, as the almonds heat, their oils will be a glue for the cumin to stick on
  • Using a food processor, slice the carrots into thin slices (do this separately by variety)
  • Blanch 1 variety of carrot for under 1 minute in boiling water, and then transfer into icy water to stop the cooking process.
  • Repeat with remaining varieties.
  • Dry on paper towel (or salad spinner but I'd be worried they'd fly through the slots)
  • For the dressing combine olive oil, lemon juice and honey with a pinch of salt, and shake it baby!
  • Add the carrots to a bowl and coat with the dressing
  • Top with cumin almonds
  • The purple carrots bleed a lot so you want to make sure they are well drained to avoid them staining the others
  • Note: I toast whole cumin seeds and then grind but go with whatever way you prefer
  • I have also added tahini to the dressing and while delicious it makes the salad cloudy and takes away from the brightness of the carrots
  • Also I've used whole almonds as it a worry I don't even follow my recipes??  

I don't have kids, but I think they might like to eat the bright carrot "magic coins", I know I would!
What is your favourite "showcase the produce" meal or ingredient?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let's Get Technical - Great British Bake Off Series 5 European Cake Week

So this week I had to make Mary Berry's Prinsesstårta AKA Swedish Princess cake.

I had said I would not include any spoilers in these posts but I must mention the Eurovision opening to this weeks Bake Off. It was like they had come into my mind and combined my two great loves, Eurovision and baking.

The episode has sparked a flood of rumours that there will be a Great Eurovision Bake Off.

All I'm saying is Belarus you have my me! Have you not seen my buns??

When I watched the episode and saw the cake and time limit, there was a massive amount of fear to this bake. (a little bit of wee came out)

How on earth would I finish this cake in 2 hours and 15 minutes when even Mary's recipe says it takes around 4 hours....
Here is how the bake played out via twitter

I promise it is bad rushed piping that has caused the look of the custard, I do not have lumpy crème pat, not now, not ever!

As if by some baking miracle we have a Princess Cake, now can I have a nap???

After the piping back split with the chocolate, a quick cover up decoration turned the princess into a drag queen...

Like a tabloid scandal the dodgy insides of the Princess are revealed to the world

Defined layers are so last year, it all about the merging this year!
Thankfully the cake has found a home with a group of marathon runners, they can probably spare the calories.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Let's Get Technical - Great British Bake Off Series 5 Pies and Tarts Week

In true Great British Bake Off technical challenge fashion I am setting a time limit on this post.
On your mark, get set, WRITE!

I should post these on Sunday night but to be honest I'm a bit knackered after the challenges and before you know it, it's Sunday again!

For pie and tart week I had to make Paul Hollywood's Mini Pear Pies in 2 hours.

Here is a recap of how the bake happened via my live tweeting:

This is a recipe that I would practice and make again. I'd like to try a beef or lamb wellington version as I really like the effect the spirals have on the pastry.

My syrup was a little thick as I did have to chase a chicken out of the garden mid challenge....they don't do that on the show!!

I like to think the storks are a homage to the Australian landscape after a bush fire, next time must remember the foil hats for protection.

 The pear pies found a welcome home as a Fathers Day dinner dessert with AB's parents

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Let's Get Technical - Great British Bake Off Series 5 Dessert Week

So week 4 of Let's Get Technical - dessert week Mary Berry's Tiramisu Cake and I'll say, this has been the most challenging technical so far. 

The biggest challenge I have had to over come is disagreeing with Mary Berry, I know how does one even suggest such an idea. 

It all started with the first ingredient in the filling 1 tablespoon of instant coffee added to boiling water? No that can't be right? It's a tiramisu ma dove è il caffè, un espresso???

There was a lot of agonising between following my life philosophy of living in a home that does not contain instant coffee or tracksuit pants or following the baking wisdom of Mary Berry.

During this difficult decision, I thought back to that moment of childhood when we first learn that our parents aren't always right and perhaps don't actually know everything. O.K. Done, decision made I am not using the instant coffee, not now, not ever!

Sadly my rebellious phase with Mary did not end there, I would substitute the brandy for some marsala, as I found the quantity of brandy used really over powering (though it may be required to drown out the horrid taste of instant coffee if heading down that slippery slop)

Oh Mary, I am so sorry, it doesn't stop there, what has come over me???

Cutting one sponge to make the layers is just messy and I don't think it is worth the hassle, if I were ever to make this again (unlikely), I would just bake thin layers.

Mary, I'm sorry I doubted you, I know you have immensely more baking knowledge than I do (yet) and I promise to behave from now on, well until I see you with instant coffee, glace cherries or shop bought fondant!

Another technical challenge another day buying more cake tins.

An 18cm loose bottom square tin is something illegal in Australia as no matter how many shops I went too 20cm was the smallest. 

At least the time for this challenge is doable and realistic unlike the baked Alaska

I did feel the urge to channel Nancy at this point "jobs a good'un"

Unlike a band-aid don't rip the baking paper off too quick

Some chocolate "art", thank the stars it's a bake off and not a draw off!

The over sized tin

The chocolate that was meant to be grated and added between the layers, oops a mistake like that would have sent me home! 
Karma for disagreeing with Mary perhaps?

I thought my froth spilling out of the chocolate cup with chocolate covered coffee beans was inspired but realise the execution may be a little more Mr Whippy and dead flies.

AB's Mum didn't mind that the layers were uneven though I was ashamed, embarrassed and realised it most likely ruined her birthday dinner!
Should have weighed the filling in even quarters what was I thinking?!?!

Thankfully I had a back up cake that made up for it
Maybe I've been photographing food too long but apparently you are supposed to put people heads in the shot? 

Like my thoughts on instant coffee, do you have a food you won't allow in your home?