Showing posts with label Valentine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Valentine. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sweets for your Sweet - Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers

Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? We don’t. Not really. I’ve never been a flowers and chocolates and teddy bears with hearts kinda girl. But I do love love, and Lance and I are romantic just in general, so I’m all for people taking the opportunity to tell that special someone that you love them. Lance and I are actually going to a comedy show for the Fringe Festival on Valentine’s Day. But we’ll have a nice dinner beforehand. Not sure what yet. All I know is that this is our Valentine’s Day dessert. It’s a little different, a little quirky and is most importantly, a little bit lighter and not too sweet in this summer heat! As an added bonus the components are made early(ish) with chilling time, or can be made a day or so in advance and assembled before serving, making it great for dinner parties. Or romantic dinners, where less cooking time means more couple time!
I am a huge fan of sangria. And buttermilk. And nuts. So this dessert is a combination of all of those things. Luckily, Lance is too – so it can feel like I’ve made it for him. Each element here has a small level of sweetness, which combine for a lovely dessert with a fun play on textures – without overwhelming you with sweetness. The buttermilk pudding is smooth and creamy, the sangria jelly has a little chew – not quite jube, but a bit denser than a normal jelly. Add the crunch of the nut wafers and you’ve got a party going. They, by the way, are the easiest crackers to make. And so delicious!
The jelly and wafers make more than you need for the buttermilk pudding portion, but the crackers in particular are so moreish that you won’t find a problem eating the rest of those by themselves! But they both make the best addition to a cheese platter. And I might’ve had some of the jelly with my breakfast granola. And it might’ve been absolutely delicious!

Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers


Sangria Jelly

500mL dry red wine (such as Cab Sauv, or Shiraz)
50 gm caster sugar
8 gelatin leaves
Juice and peel of one orange (peeled in large strips)
Juice and peel of one lemon (peeled in large strips)
2 bay leaves
2 cardamom pods
4 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
Lightly oil a shallow rectangular dish that can will hold 500mL and set aside until required. In a medium pot, bring red wine, sugar, citrus juice and peel, and spices to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside for the flavours to infuse for an hour. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pot and bring back to a simmer. Place the gelatin into a bowl of cold water and leave to soften. When the wine mixture comes to a simmer, squeeze excess water from the gelatin and gently drop into the wine. Stir to dissolve the gelatin then set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.
Gently pour the jelly into the prepared container and refrigerate until set – around half an hour. When ready to serve, turn out of container, and cut into small cubes.
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers

Buttermilk Pudding

(makes 4 serves)
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour
Combine the vanilla bean, cinnamon and buttermilk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until mixture is almost at a simmer. You want it to come to temperature very slowly, so the buttermilk doesn’t separate. It’s much more temperamental when heating than normal milk.
Whisk egg yolks, caster sugar and corn flour in a bowl. Slowly pour the milk into the egg mix whilst whisking. Once it’s all combined, pour into a clean saucepan and put back over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a spout, then pour into your desired serving vessels. Tap onto the counter to get rid of air bubbles. Wrap with cling film and pop in the fridge to chill and set, at least an hour.
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers

Hazelnut and Almond Wafers

¾ cup almonds
¾ cup hazelnuts
3 heaped tablespoons brown sugar
Zest of one orange
¼ tsp ground cardamom
2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 180C
Put the almonds and hazelnuts into the bowl of your food processor and pulse until broken up into tiny pieces. You want mainly ‘meal’ texture, but a few bits a little larger is fine. Add the brown sugar, cardamom and orange zest, and pulse to mix. Add the egg whites and pulse until it comes together in a ball. It’ll be fairly sticky.
Lay out a piece of baking paper the size of your baking tray, put the ball of dough on it, then place another piece of baking paper over the top. Roll the dough out evenly, and thinly (around 2mm) to spread across the size of your whole baking tray. Carefully peel off the top layer and put in the oven.
After about 10 minutes, it will have dried fairly considerably and will have turned paler in colour. Remove from the oven and cut into squares/rectangles with a pizza cutter or sharp knife (pizza cutter is a much easier and neater way of doing it). Place back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes or so until golden. The pieces will have shrunk away from each other and formed individual wafers. Watch them carefully this second time as they can burn easily.
Set aside to cool on the tray and finish drying out for half an hour before putting on a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Assemble the three components however you artistically like!

Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers
Buttermilk Pudding with Sangria Jelly and Nut Wafers

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Crab Pasta with a Gin and White Chocolate Sauce

I know that I suggested that you ‘cook’ a ceviche brulee for Valentine’s Day dinner, but I thought I’d also give you a second option. Also seafood. Also containing gin. And this one is a little more Valentine’s Day traditional in that it also contains chocolate! I’ve dabbled with savoury chocolate dishes a few time. This, so far, is my favourite. The sweetness of the crab pairs with the sweetness of the white chocolate and the red peppercorns provide just enough spice to temper against the sweetness. You’ll possibly have noticed I’m also really into gins at the moment. The one I used in this one is made in West Australia, so it might be a little harder for you to find. You can sub it in for a gin of your choice, but the citrusy hit that “Sabre” has is really suited to this dish. If you can get it, definitely give it a go, it’s really nice!

Given that Valentine’s Day is also soon – if you can’t find crab meat by Friday, I’ll also allow you to sub in prawns.

In the photos you’ll see I served this with a salad of leaves and sour cherries. The tartness of the cherries really pops with the richness of the pasta and makes it a complete meal. And given the gin and citrus, harks back to the Aviation cocktail that I’m a big fan of. That would be this dish’s perfect pre-dinner cocktail!

Crab Pasta with Gin and White Chocolate Sauce
200g crab flesh
¾ cup The West Winds“Sabre” Gin
Zest and juice of one lime
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp pepper corns
½ tsp sea salt
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 big cloves garlic, minced
50g white chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
250g pasta

Cherry Salad
Mixed salad leaves
12 cherries, roughly chopped
½ zucchini, thinly sliced into rings
Assorted toasted nuts/seeds (I used pepitas, pine nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds)
Salt & pepper

Put a pot of salted water on to boil. When boiling, add the pasta to cook at the point where the garlic is cooked.

In a dry frypan, toast the coriander seeds for 30 seconds or so on medium heat until fragrant. Grind with the peppercorns. Set aside.

In the same pan, gently warm the olive oil and sautee the shallots for 5 minutes or so until translucent. Do not allow to colour. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and coriander seeds. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the lime zest, juice and gin, stir through really well and allow to reduce by about half – another 5 minutes or so.

Add the crab, stir well. Then mix in the white chocolate and butter, stirring frequently to allow everything to come together as the chocolate and butter melts.

At this point, the pasta should be al dente. Drain, then toss into the crab sauce. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Romantic Summer - Salmon Ceviche Brulee

Along with our wedding anniversary, Lance and I still like to acknowledge our ‘dating’ anniversary. We’re both fairly romantic folk, so it gives us another opportunity to celebrate us. We just passed our 6th anniversary of our first date. That first date was Epic. With a capital E. With castles and flying roses and passionfruit wine and dancing. It was seriously wonderful and thinking back over that night and everything that has happened between us in those last 6 years makes me all warm and fuzzy. That first night, we had sushi for dinner (something that Lance had not been a fan of before we became friends and I showed him how good it can be) and as a nod to that, we went to a wonderful Omakase and Teppenyaki restaurant in Mosman Park – Fu Ku. It’s a little pricey, but the food is incredible, so if you like Japanese and want somewhere to go for a special occasion, I highly recommend it! But, seeing as I always have recipe ideas running around in my head and things I want us to try, I thought I’d also make Lance a special meal for our anniversary too.

Given the recent heatwave we’ve been having in Perth, a lot of the dishes I have on my ‘to-cook’ list are ruled out as either too heavy to want to eat, or too labour intensive to want to cook. Which lead me to ceviche. We both love ceviche. We had it often on our last US trip, and since coming back we’ve found it popping up on menus around Perth. Don Tapa in Fremantle and El Publico in Highgate both do great ceviche. And it is so incredibly simple. Whilst you can get all fancy about the ingredients, essentially all you need is fresh seafood and citrus juice to “cook” it. On our last day in New York City, Lance and I went to a fantastic Peruvian restaurant that served a few different types of ceviche including what they called Salmon Brulee. A salmon ceviche formed into a neat square, with a layer of cream cheese on top, and a very thin layer of sugar that had been caramelised to a crisp on top. It was so unique and so delicious. So I decided to make a version of that for Lance.

I kept the whole thing very basic for my first attempt and the result was so good. Using my current citrus favourite - grapefruit and a cheeky little shot of Gin. You can substitute the grapefruit juice for lime or lemon (or a combination). And omit the gin if you're not into it - but I think the flavours go particularly well. I served this with a mango salad on the side, and used some of the marinading liquid to ‘dress’ it (this liquid is called Leche de Tigre in Peru and is considered a potent aphrodisiac AND hangover cure!). And a few home made tortilla chips. I also kept the pieces chunkier for my first attempt - nice and rustic. If you are like us, kind of romantic but looking to keep things fairly low-key with dinner at home on Valentine's Day, this is a fantastic quick and impressive dish for you to share with that special someone.

Salmon Ceviche Brulee
250g skinless salmon steaks
Grapefruit juice from one large grapefruit (around ¾ cup)
1 shot (30mL) gin (I used Gin Mare because of it’s olive flavours)
1 jalapeno, finely minced
1/4 tsp good sea salt
100g cream cheese
2 tbsp white sugar
Mango Salad
2 medium mangoes
2 roma tomatoes
½ sweet paprika
1 small Lebanese cucumber
1/3  Leche de Tigre (from the ceviche)

Finely slice the salmon portions (the smaller you cut it, the less time it’ll take to ‘cook’). Sprinkle with salt. In a glass bowl, add the grapefruit juice, gin and jalapeno. Add the salmon and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to cook. As a minimum, 30 minutes. Up to a few hours before you’re going to serve it.

Using a cutter, form a disc (or shape of your choosing) of cream cheese 1cm or so thick. Sprinkle a fine layer of sugar over the top and carefully unmold without pulling the sugar off with it.

To make the salsa – finely chop all of the ingredients and set aside until ready to serve.

When the ceviche is ready, strain through a sieve and reserve about 1/3 cup of the juice. Pour this reserved liquid into the mango salsa salad and mix well.

Form the salmon into a pile, carefully slide the cheese disc on top and use a brulee torch to burn the sugar on top.
Serve immediately with some fresh tortilla chips

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day : Castle Gingerbread

I like the idea of Valentine’s Day, because I think all things love and romance should definitely be celebrated. Love is infectious!  But I find the reality is that when you have a partner, it can be more of an obligation than a loving thing. And not necessarily from your partner! Everybody judging what you’ve spent, how much effort has been put in.  My husband and I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day, instead celebrating the days that are significant to us throughout the year, and spontaneously showing our love to each other with gifts and dates. But it never hurts to show your love and appreciation to the special people in your life. Who doesn't love getting chocolates and flowers!

In the interests of spreading the love and joy and all the good parts of Valentine’s Day, I am going to tell you a story with this recipe of my first birthday with my partner. Hopefully it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If I bring a smile to your face this Valentine’s Day, then I will consider it successfully celebrated.

Early on in our friendship, my husband learnt two pertinent facts about me.
1. That I was moving to Scotland (to live in a castle) and
2. That even as an adult, I still adore the movie “Labyrinth”.

Fast forward about 7 months later and I moved to Scotland, briefly, before moving home again. We then started dating and moved in together. One afternoon on the couch he tells me nonchalantly that he wants to throw me a masked ball, like in the Labyrinth, for my birthday. He’ll host it at his parent’s house, but it will mean him moving home for a few weeks before the party so he can do the gardens up, and prepare and decorate. The set-up is to be a surprise. We plan various things for the party over the next few months, we build a Zoltar machine, we send out invitations, we make our masks. He moves back into his parents’ house, and eventually the party is upon us. When I arrive, I am escorted outside. The garden has fairy lights everywhere, there is a throne for me to sit on and there are hundreds of our friends and family all in masks, looking amazing.

Then it is time for the “ceremony”. He plansed an elaborate presentation (again, based on the movie) in which this wonderful gingerbread Labyrinth castle is revealed to me. The whole thing is edible (minus a few props) and reflects different scenes from the movie. Everything it is made from had special significance to us and our relationship. It took him 3 weeks to bake and assemble the whole thing, and that was working 16 hour days. He took 3 weeks off work to do it! He is not a baker or caterer or anything like that by trade, he just got this wonderfully sweet idea in his head and decided to make it happen for me. For scale, I am a touch shy of 6'2".

So now, I present to you his recipe for  Castle Gingerbread. His notes for this are – heap the spoons of ginger, and best to make a double batch. Maybe you can spread the love and give your special people some gingerbread made from the heart.

Happy Valentine's Day.
Castle Gingerbread
125g butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 ½ cups plain flour
1tsp bicarb soda
3tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tbsp. gold syrup

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add egg yolk, beat well until lighter in colour
Gradually add sifted dry ingredients alternated with golden syrup
Mix well, knead lightly
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness, cut shapes
Place on baking paper on trays
Bake approx. 10 minutes at 180C
The 'Firies', the bog of eternal stench, the worm
The robot door man
Who can forget Hoggle peeing in the pond at the start of the movie?!