Thursday, May 31, 2007

Baked, Not Fried

Baked Nutmeg Cinnamon Donut and Hot Cocoa

I never met a donut I didn’t like. Those fried yeasty rings of saccharine indulgence always seem to crush any sort of will power I may have to resist them. There’s no escape, but only to yield to the inexorable temptation that they put forward; and what they put forward sounds like a really good offer- yeasted dough fried up then coated in a sprinkling of sugar and spice, oh that sounds real nice! And having been introduced in 2003 to the beguiling and sinister powers of Krispy Kreme after they set up shop here in Oz; the donut has been given a new evil persona. You just know there is something so sinfully wrong about them, but it’s not until downing five consecutive Original Glazed™ that the shameful recognition of what you’ve done becomes apparent.

Baked Nutmeg Cinnamon Donuts and Hot Cocoa

What is it about the excessive consumption of donuts that brings so much shame? It certainly never stoped Homer Simpson, but neither does an all you can eat buffet until he has eaten all he can physically eat. But that aside, is it because that they boast such an unhealthy reputation? Fried and sweet, the double-edged sword that makes this junk food particularly lethal. Whatever it is, I know that I would rather be caught in a pair of hot pink 80’s leggings than scoffing down a whole box of donuts.

A donut here and there I have been known to enjoy, however when it comes to making them for myself I have always been the reluctant one. For one, I have never had any luck with anything that involves that recalcitrant fungus- yeast. I know that it is probably more a shortcoming on my part, but I guess it’s easier to blame the yeast and avoid it for the most part than to admit that I am incapable of working with it. And secondly, I hate to fry, especially deep fry. It usually takes all my resolve to bring myself to even pour some oil to shallow fry, the only exception are eggs, as I just love fried eggs but then again they require hardly any oil, but other than that I hate anything to do with frying. I have been known to fry but only for special occasions.

Baked Nutmeg Cinnamon Donuts

I enjoy donuts but like most people, when it comes to the frying part, I like to leave it up to those who actually get paid to get the burn marks. Besides the harrowing prospect of sustaining third-degree burns, I hate that oily smog that seems to descend upon the entire house as soon as something is fried, it sticks to everything and you get that greasy film all over the kitchen. I know that many people share this sentiment because I happened upon Heidi’s blog (which I tend to frequent a lot, I mean how could you not?) and her attitude to frying is much the same.

Which brings me to this recipe for Baked Donuts, which I pinched from Heidi’s blog. This is more than a great alternative to traditional donuts; evidently they aren’t fried, although all the other components are there- yeast, flour, eggs and sugar, just without being immersed in a boiling pool of fat. If you are yet to be convinced, then I suggest just giving Heidi’s recipe a go. She spent a whole afternoon perfecting the recipe so really all the work is done for you. I even looked past my frayed relationship with yeast and gave it a right old rip.

Baked Nutmeg Cinnamon Donuts

Okay I must admit they don’t taste exactly like fried donuts, as they’re baked, not fried. But they can be just as satisfying. And if you happen to down more than you should have, just know that at least they weren’t previously swimming in a vat of oil and allow yourself that extra piece or two.

These donuts I paired with a glass of warm hot cocoa, I crusted the rims with the leftover cinnamon sugar I had from dusting the donuts. Just dip the rims into the melted butter, then dip them into the sugar and shake off the excess gently and you have yourself a sugar-crusted glass. Easy. If you don't want to use melted butter, you can use egg whites, but i didn't have any on hand, so the melted butter does the job just as good.

Sugar crusted hot cocoa

And if you happen to be an American, you should be lucky to know that this Friday, 1st June is National Donut Day. Check out how this blogger is celebrating such a holiday.


Baked Nutmeg and Cinnamon Donuts

recipe adapted from here
makes 30 mini donuts

Baked Nutmeg and Cinnamon Donuts

special equipment: donut cutter (alternatively two circular cookie cutters will do, one bigger than the other)

5 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of sea salt
1½ cups full cream milk, warmed*
1 packet active dry yeast (in Australia, most come in 7g packets)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ cup caster sugar
2 eggs

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup raw sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Sift flour, nutmeg and seas salt together in a large bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Place ½ cup of the milk in another bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.
Stir in the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture.
Whisk in the eggs using a fork and add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.
Mix until the flour has taken up the yeast mixture.
If your dough is too dry add a little bit of milk at a time. If your dough is too sticky, then add a little bit of flour, until the dough becomes smooth enough to handle without sticking too much to your hands.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes.
Shape into a ball and place into a lightly oiled or buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm area away from drafts.
Allow an hour or so for the dough to double I size, depending on the temperature.

Prepare 5 baking trays with parchment paper.
When the dough has risen, remove the dough from the bowl and punch down. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about ½-inch thickness.
Using your cutter cut out donuts. Cut the outer circle first, then transfer to lined baking trays and then cut out the donut holes (smaller circle)**.
Cover trays with a clean cloth and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
Bake the donuts for about 8 minutes; do not allow them to get brown.
While donuts are baking, set up your butter and combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.
Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes.
Dip each donut into the melted butter and give it a quick toss in the cinnamon sugar.

*Make sure not to over heat the milk, the temperature should be just tepid so as not to kill the yeast.
**Ensure that the holes are at least 2cm in diameter as that the holes will close more after rising and baking.

Iced Nutmeg and Cinnamon Donut

ALTERNATIVELY: You can ice some of the donuts by combining ½ cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar and 2 tsp milk Add some more milk if necessary so that icing is drizzling consistency. Place donuts on a wire rack and drizzle icing over the donuts. Allow the icing to harden.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cake Of My Dreams

Pistachio and Raspberry Little Cakes

A few years back, I dreamt that I had won $50,000 in a raffle and consequently spent almost the entire length of my morning shower mentally calculating how I would spend the money. A car? A vacation perhaps? Clothes, shoes? Definitely shoes. I had already spent at least half the money when somewhere in between shampooing and conditioning came the stark realisation that this money that I had surprisingly come into was in fact all a dream. Haplessly duped by a mirage of my own mind. So I stepped out of the shower and back into reality, $50,000 poorer.

It seems that I tend to blur that fine line between consciousness and sub-consciousness all too often. Often times my being awake gets all muddled up with the sub-consciousness of sleep, perhaps because sadly sometimes my dreams seem a lot more eventful. One time, I dreamt that there were bush fires near my house and convinced myself of it when I woke up. I rounded up the dog and a few keepsakes and just before I was ready to leave, I realised it was the dead of winter and that I lived in the suburbs with not a spot of bush nearby.

Pistachio and Raspberry Little Cakes

What brings on this train of thought? I don’t know exactly, although I do vaguely remember that these little cakes came to me in some sort of arabesque dream a few weeks back. I dreamed I lived in Morocco as a textile merchant of some sort, but I barely remember the dream now although what stuck with me was the recollection of these little cakes, all I could remember when waking up was that they looked delicious and I wanted them now.

So in my boredom one weekend at work, while pining for those cakes, I searched the Internet for recipes of that sort. I cannot recall now where exactly I found the recipe, I just hastily printed out the thing as soon as I found it for fear that it would somehow escape me in my waking-life. But if I do happen to remember where or whom I pinched the recipe from I will most certainly attribute this adaptation, however this time my memory fails me once again.

Molten Raspberries

I may not have been able to make the money from my dream materialise, but making these cakes a reality were a heck of a lot easier. I altered the original recipe slightly by adding a cup of fresh raspberries to the batter and using ground almonds rather than chopped ones. The result is a springy moist cake, with a sturdy crumb. The raspberries melt and erupt its red juiciness in the oven and provide a burst of surprise when eating them.

The cakes by itself are surprisingly subtle in taste. It is not until your soak the cakes in the syrup that the lemon’s bite brings out its hidden flavours. But beware, the cakes are deceivingly light, you may think after one portion, there is still enough room for another. I made this mistake. But it must be the presence of the all those nuts- pistachios and almonds, that make this seemingly light cake into one hearty bite.

Pistachio and Raspberry Little Cakes

At long last, this little number has bridged that blur between two streams of consciousness. Here’s the recipe.

Little Pistachio and Raspberry Cakes
makes 12 little cakes

Carameised Pistachios

FOR THE CAKES
250g unsalted butter softened
200g caster sugar
2 tsp orange zest
4 eggs
150g shelled pistachios
80g ground almonds
50g plain all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh raspberries
a pinch of salt

FOR THE SYRUP
juice of 1 lemon
50g Demerara sugar
50g shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter and line with parchment paper 12 individual dariol moulds or alternatively a 12-hole muffin tin.
Cream butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine pistachio, almonds, flour and baking powder and fold through the butter mixture until just combined. Make sure you do not over mix.
Gently fold through raspberries.
Divide batter between prepared tins, filling them 3⁄4 of the way up.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes have risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

While cakes are baking prepare the syrup by combining syrup ingredients, in a small saucepan over low heat.
Stir the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.

When cakes are done, remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
When ready to serve, carefully unmould the cakes and place onto serving plates.
Pour the syrup over cakes and sprinkle with some caramelised pistachios.
Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Methinks, that I should say Thanks.

thinkingblogger

She’s not just a pretty blog...


I was delightedly surprised when I chanced upon a post by Megan of Chez Mégane that tagged this blog, among other illustrious ones, with the Thinking Blogger Award. Like I said, I was delighted, however quite amazed and very thankful for the nod. I commented on Megan’s post that I never thought that my musings, or should I say ramblings about food, and on occasion life in Sydney would ever be considered thoughtful. I don’t particularly aim to instigate thought; usually what appears on the blog is a written up version of the verbal diarrhoea that goes on in my brain.

Nonetheless, I am very honoured and thankful that Megan would choose me. And in the spirit if the award, here are four other blogs that I always come away from, thinking. I am a visual person, so it makes perfect sense to me that some of these blogs have a visual or photographic element.

1. THE SARTORIALIST
Aside from food, I love clothes. I know that not all women love to shop, but I happen to belong to the majority who do. With his simplistic yet artful photography style, the Sartorialist, Scott Schuman, combines voyeurism with fashion. I love looking at what people are wearing on the streets and each picture, although not always captioned comes with a story of it own all told through fashion.

And I love that Mr. Schuman has the courage to go up to people and ask to take their photograph. I get very self conscious just taking photographs at the markets, let alone having to ask people to pause for a photo.

2. NORDLJUS Photoblog
If you hail from the food blogging community, then this blog will most certainly be one you are familiar with. Keiko who is at the helm of Nordljus also has a photography blog that isn’t just about food. Keiko’s photos are so inspiring and so awe-striking that I am always challenged, inspired and put to shame by her talent. Her photography always leaves me in a pensive state of mind that makes me long for faraway shores. If you want to be transported then take yourself to this blog and ponder over the beauty of her photographs.

3. PHILBAKER.NET
This blog covers everything from politics to poetry and sport to philosophy with a little bit of humour thrown in. I admit, I don’t check Phil's blog very often although whenever I do venture back there’s always a backlog of posts waiting to amuse and provoke me. So I spend hours poring over his musings on pretty much anything and everything.

4. STUFF ON MY CAT
I hate cats, with a passion, so I cannot explain why I get a kick out of this site but I do. It probably isn’t the first blog to come to mind for initiating thought, but I actually do come away from it thinking about how those wretched cats suckered me into visiting the site again. They also have a sister site called Stuff on my Mutt, for those who prefer canines.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Northside Produce Markets, Miller St

Lavender bunches

I don’t normally go to the Northside Produce Markets, simply because I never wake up early enough to get to t
hem. And besides the drive to get to these markets is the same route I take to get to work and it just pains me to go even remotely that way on my days off. I like to stay as far away as I can from the vicinity of my workplace whenever possible.

Anyway, I did happen to be at these markets as I was picking up some product for some photography work I am doing and managed to get some snaps of the place while I was at it. The sun was out and the morning was just starting to warm up. I quickly unravel the scarf around my neck, take off my jacket and eagerly snap away.

I have to say though, that these markets are a lot harder to manoeuvre around than the Pyrmont ones. The thoroughfares are a lot narrower and it seems that the newest accessory around is a stroller. I don’t mind prams at all, although I do mind mothers that feel they have the right to bulldoze anyone and anything in their way. Just a thought I had when I copped a few rammings to the back of my ankle with a stroller the size of a small car. Intent on getting past me, she just thought the most effective way of doing it was to run me over. But not to worry, there were prettier things to occupy yourself with at these markets than the occasional rouge pram pusher, and here they are.

La <span class= Green Olives
La Tartine organic sourdough baguettes; fresh green olives

Morning Markets

Colourful Toby's Estate
A colourful bouquet of Australian native flowers; a barista at work

Floating Life

Radishes Blood Limes
Bunches of radishes at Grima Farms; native Blood Limes

Shepherd's Bakehouse Breads Rhubarb
Shepherd's Bakehouse sourdoughs; a stack of rhubarb

<span class=
Unopened lilies, waiting for the sun

Herbal Teas
Herbal teas and aromatherapy

Fountain Red
Fountain; I love red phone booths

Northside Produce Markets

Where: Miller St, North Sydney (between Ridge and McClaren Streets)
When: 8am-12noon; every 3rd Saturday of the month
Free Parking available in Ridge St Car Park

Next markets: 16th June, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

La Plage, Bronte Beach

Morning Light
along the Bronte walk and the Bronte Swimming Pool

I adore breakfast. The very concept of it excites me and as one who isn’t at all interested in engaging in anything in the early parts of the day, the prospect of having a great breakfast is enough to pry my lifeless body out of bed. The odds do get slimmer when the climate becomes much cooler, the warmth and comfort of my bed seems to stitch and hedge me in, and it would take something extraordinary to get me out.

I’m sure you all know what I mean. It is a rarity to find a person who isn’t belligerent when woken up from deep hibernation, especially during cold wintry nights. I’m sure a caterpillar won’t have a bar of being taken out of the comfort of its cocoon until the time is ripe; and okay, I am no butterfly, but I feel the same way.

Chalkboard Specials, La Plage
reading the morning paper...

But with every rule always comes the exception- the however. So if there is one thing that will haul me out of bed prematurely in the morning, it is a little place called La Plage at Bronte Beach. The place is nowhere remotely near my place, but whenever G suggests we go and have breakfast there, I am up and raring to go. The café is one of many open for breakfast at Bronte’s beachfront strip and somehow, this one became our favourite breakfast haunt. Nothing in its nature called out to us in particular, it was by pure chance that we unintendedly entered the place and fell in love with it.

The first time was for lunch, although they serve breakfast until 3pm, so of course I have breakfast. The tunes of Café Del Mar play in the background and the cacophony of electric beats and waves crashing hypnotise patrons into imaginings of Caribbean isles and tropical breezes. The bright pastel interiors- walls of sky blue and furnishings of coral and teal all reminiscent of sun-filled summer days. I don’t want to say it because it sounds so cheesy and trite in a home shopping network segment type of way, but no matter how cold it is outside, the weather in La Plage is always balmy.

La Plage, Bronte Beach

I usually only have either one of two things when I go to La Plage; not that the other stuff on the menu isn’t worth trying but it seems that I go into auto pilot when I enter and order the same two things over and over again. At first I was staunchly dedicated to their Big Breakfast- two pieces of Turkish bread, two sausages, two hash browns, eggs of your choice, mushrooms, and a roast tomato. I was never able to eat another morsel for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. Then I transferred my allegiance to their Eggs Benedict. Two poached eggs perched atop two English muffins, with baby spinach and smoked salmon, all topped with a thick slathering of hollandaise sauce and a side of hash browns. Same thing with the Eggs Benedict, I was ruined for another meal for the rest for the day.

So decided that I need to avert the ravenous appetite my eyes have at breakfast and go for something that my stomach can handle. After all I am merely a 5 foot nothing little girl, my stomach can only stretch so far. So I opt for their Banana Pancakes with Honey Ricotta and Blueberries. I was a little apprehensive stepping outside my norm, although when you give the name of the dish a once over, you realise that you can’t really go wrong with that combination.

Banana Pancakes with Honey Ricotta and Blueberries
Banana Pancakes with Honey Ricotta and Blueberries $16.50

My breakfast arrives promptly to our table, and I dig in. It was delicious and even though it’s something one could simply cook up at home, I just cannot abide by cooking my own breakfast. The extent I go to cooking my own breakfast at home is to toast a piece of bread or quickly fry up an egg. So this indeed was a treat.

G who also can’t go past the Big Breakfast decided on something a little smaller and something a little more vegetarian, he needed to give his inner carnivore a rest. So he went for the scrambled eggs with toast and mushrooms. It was simple and uncomplicated and exactly what breakfast is all about.

Scrambled Eggs and toast with mushies
Scrambled Eggs with toast and mushrooms $12.50

The prices are a slight bit on the steep side, but only slightly and when you consider the view you get from your table there really isn't any reason to complain.

La Plage Café and Take Away
481 Bronte Rd, Bronte NSW 2024
Phone: (02) 9389 3527

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Autumn Morning

Lemon Lavender Sables

As the morning breaks
Sleepy eyes pry open
Contemplating the day

Daylight awaits,
The traffic and sounds
Whispers and notions
Hints of commotion

Shades and hues
All waiting for cues
As the day urges to begin

The autumn leaves fall
Evergreens and leaves
All sounding their call

Yearning for beauty
Its beckon so strange,
Waiting and wishing
For something to change

I cannot help but think
That this feeling inside
this longing for something
just cannot abide.

So I give in to you, morning light
Arise and call out its name
You have me by the hand
Lead me wherever you please.

I am in your charge,
Crisp autumn wind,
Blow me to wherever you please.

Sable Dough

Finishing a shift at 7 in the morning at different times comes different sentiments. There are those earnest longings for slumber, just craving to get some much needed shut-eye; and then there are those times, though seldom, that I greet the morning with expectation.You take a huge breath, the new day ahead and somehow it’s yours for the taking. As infrequent as this disposition is to me, I welcome it. I am not always this genial this time in the morning, my nature just doesn’t allow for it, thus I take what I can get.

So I finish work this morning, and due to certain misadventures from the night before- which I wont elaborate on- meant that I didn’t have my car and so needed to catch the train home. Admittedly, I usually hate catching public transport, especially so early in the morning, amidst the peak hour transit; although this time I was actually looking forward to it.

Lemon Lavender Sables

Perhaps it was in quiet veneration of the stillness of the morning, or just something purely out of character, because I am rarely this contemplative so early in the day; but I was eager to make the small detour home. Or perhaps it was the beautiful morning, I don’t know. It's funny how unexpectedly stunning the urban sprawl can sometimes be.

The morning fog was thick, shards of sunlight barely breaching through the misty air. Riding the train through the Harbour Bridge, its imposing iron beams were barely visible, almost as if we were just floating seamlessly though the foggy air. By the time I got to my stop, the fog had already cleared and the gentle warmth of the autumn sun was palpable. What made the journey home even sweeter was coming home to these biscuits.

Lemon Lavender Sables

I had forgotten that I had made them the day before and there they were waiting for me in the cookie jar- these little morsels of Lemon Lavender Sables. Lavender has such a calming effect and after doing a bout of night shifts, I knew that these biscuits were the perfect remedy along with a warm cup of tea. Blossoms are usually associated with springtime, although these biscuits are the perfect things to cosy up to on a mild autumn morning.

Full of flour and butter, these sables fall apart at the touch of your lips. It's the kind of biscuit that you never bite into unless you want a dune of crumbs to form on your lap. Delicate and light, it's hard to stop at just one. So I pry open the cookie jar, the scent of citrusy lavender hitting my nose immediately and there is nothing like it.

Dried Lavender

There is something about these biscuits that remind me of autumn, I cannot quite put my finger on it. This strange enchantment,whatever it is, has me spouting poetry and waxing lyrical about the morning. Really, when do I ever become quite as lyrical? Never. I will probably look back on this, a week later and cringe at the thought at how hospitable I was to the morning, but then again, I take what I can get.

Lavender Sables
adapted from a basic sable recipe from this book
makes 40 sables

Lemon Lavender Sables

225g plain all-purpose flour
25g cornstarch (cornflour)
1 tbsp dried lavender
200g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
100g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt

Sift the flour and cornflour into a food processor and stir in the dried lavender.
Add diced butter and sugar to the flour mixture.
Pulse for a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the egg yolks through the spout of the processor, while continuing to pulse the dough.
Make sure you do no over pulse the dough, and that it still should resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
Spoon the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into two portions.
Roll each portion out into a log and wrap in parchment paper.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight if possible

Preheat oven to 170°C. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper
Remove 1 log from the fridge and cut the dough into 6mm discs.
Briefly knead the dough so that the discs stay together.
Place on baking sheet spaced 1-ince apart and bake for 10-12 minutes until just lightly browned on the edges.
Transfer sables onto a wire rack to cool.
Repeat process with second log.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

No Alarms and No Surprises

Brownies and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Fearing a backlash from faithful readers, I thought I should post about food again. I know you can only take so much of this I love my city so much it hurts chatter. Now back to the grub.

If you ask me, there is nothing more humdrum than a brownie, it’s flat, monochromatic and always tastes of chocolate. It’s almost ludicrous to expect something other than that of a brownie, because really that is what it is, and I must say that this one is no different.

When it comes to brownies I don’t like to stray too much left of centre, I like to keep within the brownie boundaries and never wander off into wild interpretations and unique embellishments. I like my brownie just like that girl-next-door, you know exactly what to expect and there are no surprises. Unlike the girl across the street and down the road to the left, who’s full of twists and turns and palatal meanderings; I like to keep my brownie just as it is.

Brownies and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I've always been this way when it comes to the brownie, even when I was younger. I hated it when mum would put walnuts or cherries or even dates in the brownies, I just wanted them plain, completely and utterly unadorned. Bear in mind, I was also the kind of kid that preferred just butter on my toast and sometimes when I was feeling rather brash and impulsive I would go for some Nutella. But most times it was plain old butter and bread for me.

I am not so plain nowadays, I do fancy a bit of jam on my toast sometimes, and when feeling bold (and sometimes stupid), I spread myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Okay, so I only did this the one time and hated it, and deduced that it must be a North American phenomenon as to how Vegemite is mostly an Australian-thing.

But tried and true, there are just some combinations that marry well. More than peanut butter and jelly and better than pork and beans, brownies and vanilla ice cream go together like the proverbial peas in the pod. I would go even as far to say that the combination is up there in realm of powerhouse combinations like fish and chips or chocolate and churros.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

When it comes to brownies, I think that the best recipes use some form of “real” chocolate, and when I say real, I mean not the powdered kind. There isn’t anything wrong with supplementing the recipe with some cocoa powder although I must say I prefer the taste of brownies that contain some sort of chocolate. And I have to say that the same goes for vanilla ice cream. There’s no use putting all that elbow grease into making an ice cream if you aren’t going to use real vanilla beans. This no time for vanilla extract and god forbid vanilla essence. You don’t exactly need to go for the Tahitian stuff; you can buy inexpensive vanilla beans for around $4.95 that will do the job just fine and is miles better than using and essence or extract.

Here is the basic recipe for brownies, if you aren't as plain as I am be inclined to add a few things here and there, be it some walnuts, some banana or a splash of Brandy, go for it.


Fudgey Brownie Squares
adapted from this book
makes 16 squares

Melt-in-your-mouth Brownies

70g unsalted butter, diced
170g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), roughly chopped
¾ cup raw caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup plain all-purpose flour
icing (confectioner’s) sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare a 23cm square tin with parchment paper.
Set a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
Place butter and chocolate in the bowl and stir until just melted.
Remove bowl from water and using a whisk stir in sugar. The mixture will look grainy at this point but this is all right.
Whisk in eggs, one by one and add the vanilla giving one last vigorous whisk before the flour is added.

Gently sift in flour and salt and using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the flour until it is just incorporated into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a dul crust forms and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Remove brownies from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Turn out onto a cutting board and slice into 16 pieces.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (see recipe below).

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
makes about 1-litre of ice cream


Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

1 cup caster sug
ar
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds extracted (still retain the empty pod)
4 egg yolks
350ml full cream milk
450ml pure cream (35-45% milk fat), refrigerated

In a small dry bowl combine sugar and vanilla seeds, using your fingertips and sugar granules, separate the vanilla seeds that tend to stick to each other.
Place sugar, vanilla seeds and egg yolks together in a large bowl and beat until thick and pale.
Place milk and empty vanilla pod into a medium heavy based saucepan over low heat and bring the milk just to a gentle simmer.
Remove from heat and strain the milk using a fine sieve.
Gradually pour the strained milk into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking slowly as you go.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk the custard until it thickens. (If you have a thermometer, the custard should be at about 60°C.)
Remove custard from heat and pass through a fine sieve again to remove any clumps that may have formed.
Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1-2 hours.
In another bowl, whisk cold cream until just thickened.
Remove custard from the refrigerator and using a whisk, incorporate cream into the custard*.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions**.
When churned, transfer ice cream to a 1.0-litre airtight container and place in the freezer.
The ice cream should be ready to serve after 1-2 hours.

*Ensure that you do not add the cream to a warm custard mixture.
** Under no circumstances should you place warm custard into an ice cream machine, unless you want to destroy it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sydneyscapes III: The Rocks- Markets, Artisans and Textures

Pinwheel

Today the long awaited rain clouds descend upon Sydney. So I look back at my photos of the last weekend just to remember that it wasn't too long go when the sun was out and we enjoyed its warmth.

More photgraphs from Sydney's Rocks District, its colours, its textures and its spirit. Most of these shots are from the weekend markets.

The Puppet Maker

The Rocks Markets

Down to the Puppet Maker

Post Box

Fresh Corn

Weathered

Pinwheels

Bear says Hello