Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Egg-Cellent Christmas Challenge

The good folks at McLean’s Run who are famous for their 'Open range' egg farms contacted me via One Green Bean with a Christmas challenge. Let me just say if I were an egg laying hen I'd like to be living on the McLean's farm with only 1500 hens per hectare. They told me that they would send me some free-range eggs fresh from the farm as long as I was willing to invigorate an old egg-based Christmas recipe with McLean’s Run eggs.

I could do that.

I was expecting a carton of eggs to be sent to my work but to my surprise this giant box came to the office.



For the rest of the train ride home I started to brain storm recipes that was 'very Christmas', not traditional, made with eggs and simple enough to make once I got home after work. I was pretty stuck



So then I broke it down, what’s very Christmas that’s made with eggs? Eggnog. Why isn’t it super popular here? Because it’s best served hot and Australia is sizzling at Christmas! My solution? Eggnog ice cream! Genius!

Eggnog Ice cream with Christmas Biscotti


Eggnog is basically a dairy based drink made with egg yolks and alcohol (brandy, rum or whisky) spiced with freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves (optional). I served my eggnog ice cream with an almond, pistachio and cranberry biscotti made with the left over egg whites (no wastage!).

Below is my recipe Enjoy!
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Eggnog Ice Cream - Ingredients
  • 4 egg yolks from McLean's Run free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 300ml milk
  • 600ml cream
  • 2 shots dark rum (or bourbon or whiskey)
  • 2 cloves (optional)
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg grated

  1. Separate egg yolks from egg whites
  2. In a small pot whisk egg yolks, milk, sugar and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Add 2 cloves and cinnamon stick and heat your custard until it starts to thicken, stirring as you go.
  4. Once the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon pass the mixture through a fine sieve to get rid of the lumps and spices (i.e. cloves & cinnamon).
  5. Allow the custard to cool completely (refrigerate if you can)
  6. In a bowl combine the custard, cream, brandy and nutmeg.
  7. I then churn this mixture through my ice cream maker as per the models instruction. If you do not have one then place the bowl in the freezer and after every 30-40mins take a fork to beat the mixture to get rid of any ice crystals. Repeat this step 4-5 more times before allowing it to freeze fully.

Ta-da!

As mentioned I didn’t want to waste the gorgeous egg whites and decided to pair the eggnog ice cream with an almond, pistachio and cranberry biscotti (a bit of green and red to add a bit of Christmas colour to my dish).

Almond, Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup cranberries

  1. Beat egg whites to soft peaks then slowly add caster sugar.
  2. Once combined fold in nuts, cranberries and flour sifted.
  3. Pour mixture into a lined baking tin and bake at 150c for 30 minutes. Let this cool and wrap it up in foil, let the loaf 'dry out' in the fridge for 2 nights.


Slice the loaf really thinly (the thinner the crispier the result), place pieces on a lined baking tray and bake for 5-7 mins at 150c. Place on a rack to cool



And that is how you turn eggs yolks to custard and egg whites into biscotti. Simple, delicious and perfect for the holidays!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making Chestnut and mushroom risotto

I go through phases and my current craze is making risotto. I remember seeing Isabelle post a risotto recipe using chestnut and mushroom which sounded yummy so I made up my own version.It didn't disappoint.


Ingredients:

1.5 cups of arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 onion diced
3 cloves garlic crushed
6-8 mushrooms sliced
a small bunch of enoki mushrooms
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese shave - keep some for serving.
8 chestnuts boiled & peeled
continental parsley - leaves only chopped.

I've tried this recipe with shitaki mushroom but found the usual ones had better flavour. You may also want to throw in some oyster mushroom for a different texture.

Instructions

Heat oil in a large saucepan.
Add onion and garlic lightly fry for 2 minutes.

Add rice, stirring quickly to coat grains.

Stir in wine and about ½ - 1 cup stock and cook until liquid is absorbed.

Continue to add 1 cup of stock and stir, until liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring.

Once half the stock has been added, add the mushrooms & chestnuts. Continue adding stock and stir until rice is cooked.

When you are almost ready to serve stir through the pecorino romano cheese (the cheese really gives the extra flavour).

Once risotto is cooked serve on dish - add parsley, shaved cheese, and freshly ground pepper.

Delicious!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Viv's farewell lunch @ Cafe Sopra

It's been a while since I have blogged about the various places I've been to, but after being introduced to this hidden gem I felt a little inspired. Cafe Sopra is located above the Fratelli Fresh organic markets in Waterloo. It's very popular with locals but isn't easy to get to unless you drive.

You could easily walk past and into this market without ever realising that there is a popular cafe located on the levels above. To give you an idea of how hard it is to find Vivien had to call to give me directions, the conversation went something like this "Once you see the sign for Fratelli Fresh walk into the markets to the very end, turn left go up 2 flights of stairs , past the cooking school then walk through another floor with pasta and biscuits and the cafe is at the very end!". It took us a while but we finally found it!

Basically Fratelli Fresh is a fresh food market and every thing cooked at this cafe is bought from the store below. On a side note they also offer free cooking classes (which I will come for one day when I have annual leave).


The menu is located on a big blackboard and changes depending on what produce is in season. Prices range from $10 through to $42 with desserts around $12 each. Don't expect to be able to order a coke or lemon lime bitters here, instead choose from a selection of Italian mineral water and soft drink as well as fresh granita in mango, lemon or orange. If there is a bit of a wait then have a drink at the wine bar as their selection is extensive!

The Entrees

I'm not sure how these chips are different to any other chips but they were really flavoursome and crunchy with just a sprinkle of sea salt.

Pumpkin pastries on a fresh beetroot salad.


Buffalo mozzarella with organic fresh tomatoes.
The tomatoes you buy from the supermarket these days just has no flavour, having tasted organic tomatoes on a few occasions now I think it's really worth paying the money to buy better quality fresh produce.


A warm chat potato and oyster mushroom salad
Such an interesting and basic concept but so delicious, it makes eating salads so much more interesting.

The Mains

Risotto Primavera, (I've no idea what the other one is)


Meatballs with fettuccine


I've also no idea what this was but it was something with squid (you can tell It's been a while since I've food blogged).

Have an awesome trip to Beijing Vivien!! See you in 5 months and I expect you to come back being able to speak more Chinese!


We were having fun with Tammy's polaroid camera (that wasn't actually a polaroid),so here is a group shot of everyone. I had to rush off to get ready for Ming's wedding so we missed out on dessert. However I'm definitely coming back to try their amazing looking desserts. Great recommendation Viv!

Cafe Sopra (Located above Fratelli Fresh)
Open Tuesday to Friday from 10am till 3pm and on Saturdays from 8am till 3pm.
7 Danks Street, Waterloo
Sydney
Phone: 1300 552 119

According to the website there's also a Fratelli Fresh located in Potts Point.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wedding Providers

I think I’m at the age now where everyone is getting married, so recently I’ve had a lot of people ask me for recommendations for providers that I used for my own wedding. So if you are getting married or know some one that is getting married you might find this helpful. It’s also proof that you CAN throw together a wedding in 2 months like we did.

Cake
We had a few dramas with getting the cake as our wedding was on Easter Sunday which is also a public holiday. To be honest our cake wasn’t exactly what we had in mind but seeing that we ordered the cake the week of the wedding it did just fine. Our cake was from Sweet Fantasy Cakes in Bankstown: http://www.sweetfantasycakes.com.au/ they have a good website and an awesome showroom. The best thing is they open till 7pm on a weekday which is great for people with work commitments. If you do visit I highly recommend trying out their chocolate ├ęclairs – Yum!

Cufflinks
http://www.1stchoicecufflinks.com/ - if you are looking to have matching cufflinks this site has heaps to pick from and are very reasonably priced, leave plenty of time for mailing. My first lot was lost in transition but they sent out some new ones for free which we gave to the groomsmen as gifts after the wedding.

Dresses
My gown is by Maggie Sottero purchased from Abbey Bridal in the Dymocks building next to Myer on George Street. You can also view her gowns at http://www.maggiesottero.com/ for dress ideas. My tips for dress shopping are:

• Prior to visiting the store print out some photos of dresses that you like. Make sure that you pick a few different styles as the dresses can look quite different to what you imagine once you have the dress on. Show this to the shop assistant and she will find dresses to match what you are looking for. Don’t go in with no idea at all as you end up wasting your time.
• Once you have made a booking and you are at the store make sure you wear good underwear. When dress fitting you pretty much strip right down with the shop assistant in your change room (no room for modesty there!) they are also very picky about how you get the gown on and off so that you don’t soil their dresses.
• Be honest about your budget so that you don’t fall in love with something that you can’t afford.
• Keep in mind that in addition to the cost of the gown you will pay anywhere from $250-$500 extra for alterations.
• Finally check the sale racks you never know what you might find.

Dresses – Bridesmaids
I have had a few people ask me about these but my green cake cutting dress, ties and bridesmaid dresses were all made by my parents. We shopped for material all over the place but a good place to start would be Cabramatta.


Flowers
Depending on the time of the year that you get married you may be restricted on the types of flowers that you can have. I had a few bad experiences with a few florists where once I mentioned the word ‘wedding’ the price of everything doubled! Just when I was getting a little disheartened I made a visit to Primrose Florist (who did the flowers for Christina’s wedding).

The shop is nothing fancy but Mimi and Ben who run the business are friendly and helpful. They have an album of flower arrangements and are happy to talk through your ideas and budget. We were extremely happy with the result and found the prices to be very reasonable. Their website is: http://www.primroseflorist.com.au

Make up/ Hair
I found out about Martha Mok through my Mum who is friends with her mother. Through my own research I discovered that Martha is very well known in the Asian community winning various awards and doing the make up of everyone I know.

I don’t wear much make up day to day so I was always nervous about my make up on my big day. For me the most important thing was that my make up artist knew how to do make up on Asian features (I’ve had some terrible experiences previously). Asian eyes are different and you just can’t use the usual techniques for western features.

Martha provides a unique service where she does hair and make up (she may bring an assistant in the morning) and follows you around all day and all night until after the cake cutting. She does touch ups through out the day (which was handy when I started crying during the ceremony!) and is just there to help out with all the bits here and there: http://www.dmakeupstation.com/. As I wore 3 dresses through out the day Martha changed my hair and make up 3 times with lightening speed.

I recommend having a make up trial so that you can agree on colours and for your own piece of mind.

Music
http://www.mobydisc.com.au/ if your venue doesn't include music as a package then for $350 these guys were a bargain for 5hrs! You select your own songs from a list and they bring all their own equipment and provide a microphone. It saves you the stress of preparing a playlist etc on your wedding day where you'll be very busy. I booked these guys the week of the wedding and was very happy with their service.

Photographers
Photography is expensive but well worth it because after everything is over you can look back on the photos to remember the day. Photography is very personal as you need to pick a style and photographers that you are comfortable with. Be sure to meet with them first and confirm everything from costs, number of photographers, cost of extra prints etc. Our photographers were:

http://www.saxoncole.com/ who did the day shoot and part of the reception (up until cake cutting).

www.tealilyphotography.com/ - who did the photos from cake cutting onwards (they were also our guests so we didn’t want them working!).

You can view the slideshow of the wedding here http://users.tpg.com.au/jcness/

Suit Hire
http://www.spurling.com.au/ - We looked at a few hire places for suits but some were really old looking and didn't fit well, we settled on Spurling in Miranda where we found the service was really good.

That's all I can think of for now, hope this helps!

xo

Em

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Making chocolate truffles

I own many many cook books, I've decided that It's about time that I start to use them.

It's my friend's birthday tomorrow and she's the biggest chocoholic I know so I thought that I'd make something from 'The Book of Chocolate' for her.
I decided on chocolate truffles.
You can put anything in the filling really, heat some sultanas in some rum and you can do rum and raisin ones. I wasn't sure what the others liked so to be safe I chose to do:

1) almond & marshmallow
2) plain almond ones
There's many recipes for the filling of chocolate truffles out there, some requiring egg and more complicated cooking methods - me I'm lazy, so I found the easiest recipe to try.

Melt 400g of good dark cooking chocolate + half a cup of thickened cream in a bowl over boiling water.

Once melted combine your filling.
Pictured is the chopped almonds, mix well then set aside to cool down.
Place in fridge and refrigerate for 2 hours until the filling is firm.
2hrs later....
Put on a pair of gloves and roll filling into bite sized balls, then place in freezer for 15 minutes.

The next part gets a bit messy so no photos between this stage and the final product. From here you can:
1) dip balls in milk/dark chocolate (then add a swirl of white later on)
2) press them into crushed almonds
3) decorate with milk chocolate swirls
4) press into coconut
5) Dust with icing sugar & coco powder
The options are endless.

The final product...
Can be messy to make but very fun.
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On a random note I also made cupcakes today after seeing Helen's post.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Making Sticky date pudding


To start chop 250g pitted dates then place into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and pour 1 cup of boiling hot water over the top.

Set aside for 20mins.

You will also need:

90g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups Self-Raising Flour, sifted

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy.

Add eggs, 1 at a time and beat well after each egg.
Fold through flour and add the date mixture.

Mix together with a big spoon or spatula.

Pour mixture into a greased cake tin and place into a preheated oven baking for 30-40 mins at 170 degrees Celsius.
Butterscotch Sauce

Melt 1 cup of brown sugar and 50g of butter. From my experience if you let the sugar caramelize a little you will get a much better flavour.

Pour in a tub of 300ml thickened cream (or double cream).

Whisk together until combined.

Let the sauce boil (and bubble) until it thickens a little. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool down.

When ready take the cake out of the oven.

Leave it on a cake rack to cool down.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream and top with the butterscotch sauce.

Yum!