Archive for month: April, 2010

ANZAC Biscuits

24 Apr
April 24, 2010

anazc close up Tomorrow is ANZAC day. For those who read my blog from outside of Australia and New Zealand, you probably are wondering what ANZAC is. ANZAC stands for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC day, 25th April, is a day where we spend time to reflect on what the brave women and men of our armed forces, red cross, other groups and individuals have done/do during war and peace time to protect their homelands and to assist those that are in need in other countries.

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Cocktails & Canapés

18 Apr
April 18, 2010

30 daysWhat a wonderful way to start the weekend. Friday I was lucky enough to get in early to scoop a seat at the booked out Cocktails & Canapés session at 30 Days of Home and Entertainment which is currently on.

This was a free event held at the “home” which has been designed in a small factory space at Waterloo. They really have done an amazing job. The rooms, which are placed around the walls of the factory, are gorgeous, you just want to go home with their ideas and redecorate.bedroombedroom 2bathroomsheridanUpon sitting down waiting for the demonstration to start you are offered a beverage of either mineral water, white, red or sparkling wine. I opted for a glass of white. The wine partners for the evening were Cumulus and d’Arenberg wines. Also offered was our first canapé to try for the evening, beef carpaccio on a garlic crouton with radish and a parmesan crisp.canape 3The demonstration was presented by Lisa Featherby, Food Editor of Gourmet Traveller and Sean Forsythe from Bacardi Lion.prepkitchenAidmacaroonsLisa and Sean formed a tag team for the cocktail and canapé demonstration. We were shown how to make two canapés and three cocktails over the course of 1 1/2 hours. lisa and seanFirst up was Sean to demonstrate a Bombay Sapphire Collins which he made in a jug. All looks so simple and delicious, why don’t I make cocktails more often? I loved the tips that were given out as he went. Holding a cocktail party? 100 drinks served you will need 20Kg of ice. Ice is important, keeps drink colder and fresher for longer. Ice is our friend.collinsThe aim was to match canapés with the drinks and Lisa prepared roast carrot dip and labna on pita. This was also sprinkled with dukkha, very easy and quite delicious. I can’t believe how easy labna is to make. Place yoghurt in muslin and let it strain in the fridge over night. Once done, roll the curds into balls and place in oil with some aromatics and it will keep for a few days in the fridge.100_5767Bacardi’s Original Mojito was the next cocktail. More tips offered. Don’t rip/tear/cut mint when placing in a cocktail, smack it instead. This releases the mint flavours, if torn you get an bitter, earthy/woody taste in your cocktail, which you don’t want. The mojito recipe also makes a wonderful sorbet with the edition of two egg whites.mojitoIt is now about 6.30pm and Keftas are being whipped up by Lisa, let’s just say as soon as I cold smell the onions hit the pan my belly was rumbling. Lisa also showed us how to make a very easy tomato sauce to accompany them.canape  1Last cocktail was an interesting one, Cassia bark & Blueberry Collins. Sean explained that it is really easy to make a syrup by just adding equal parts sugar and water, pop in some cassia bark and shake in a jar for 30 seconds. You can also do it the more traditional way of heating your water and sugar and adding cassia in to the pot to infuse.

Another great tip, if you are using citrus in your cocktails, squeeze them when you are ready to use them. The flavour diminishes if the juice is left to sit.

Cassia Bark & Blueberry Collins

45mls Bombay Sapphire gin
30mls cassia syrup
4 blueberries

In a glass place ice and blueberries and gently muddle, add your gin and syrup, stir, top with soda and then gently stir again.lisa canapes 2To add to the great demos we were all given a goodie bag. Score! More canapés were passed around at the end. 100_5943more canapes 30 Days of home and entertaining is running right through the month of April with lots of great activities going on. Check out their website for more information.entrance nightRecipes for canapés can be found on the Gourmet Traveller website, along with a multitude of other fantastic recipes, and cocktails at the Bacardi Lion website.

Sara xxx

Loose Meat Sandwich – Taylors Maid-Rite

16 Apr
April 16, 2010

maid rite sign

In January I excitedly visited my good bud Madame Iowa in her home town of Marshalltown, Iowa.

Now being a lover of all things edible the first thing I did after booking my tickets was to start searching the web for what Marshalltown had unique to offer in the way of the digestible.

Low and behold I came across the 80 year strong Taylors Maid-Rite and their loose meat sandwich. When I told Madame Iowa of my desire to go to Maid-Rite, she didn’t really understand why I was adamant on going, breathing “bloody Aussie” under her breath and I could feel her shaking her head at me on the other end of the phone.

She finally understood when I said “but Madame Iowa, we don’t have loose meat sandwiches here is Aus, I have to try one!” The promise was made to take me, yay!

When I eventually got to Marshalltown, I happened to arrive during their worst winter in ages. The weather had warmed up slightly when I got there and was no longer –22 degrees C, but it was still freezing. Snow was everywhere, the lakes were frozen and I was in my element, smiling the whole time. Madame Iowa just continued to shake her head at me every time I would go “ooooo look at the icicles hanging off that road sign/building/car etc”, “wow he is salting the street”, “oooo look the water in the gutter it’s frozen” and “ice storm, way cool”. Her response generally was “stupid bloody Aussie………(mumbled under breath), followed by “Sar, just don’t slip on your arse!” as I would try to capture all this on my camera.100_4671Trees just covered in ice, just soooo pretty

The day we went to Maid Rite there was an ice storm. Schools had been closed for the day and it seemed that nobody but Madame Iowa and I were out and about. We had to drive at about 20Km/hour around town as the roads were pretty iced up.maid rite outsideNow, if you are not aware, Americans call burgers “sandwiches” but you get use to the weird way they speak and how they call things (sticks tongue out at Madame Iowa as she reads this post xxxx). So in fact the loose meat sandwich is a loose meat burger.

We arrived safe and walked in to the diner, it is just so retro USA, I loved it. You are taken back to the 50s. I don’t think they have renovated since then, it is classic. We sat at the counter on our red padded bar stools, very cool. A Taylor’s Maid-Rite is a loose meat sandwich made of finely minced meat or finely ground hamburger if you are American. The mince is cooked and put in a bun, then served with mustard, pickles or chopped onions. You can have your meat either wet or dry. Wet has more juice to it and apparently keeps you more than regular, we went for the dry option.maid rite dinerNo cheese, no fries but now after 70 years ketchup/tomato sauce is available on the counter to add yourself if you desire.

There are about 6 shake flavours and I went for one that to me screamed USA and was a flavour for shakes we don’t find in Australia, peanut butter. The guy serving us asked me if I liked peanut and jelly sandwiches, “sure” I said, “who doesn’t”. So he said he would put a drop of raspberry flavour in with my peanut butter, assured me that it tastes fantastic and that if I didn’t like it he would make me a new one. The other staff were in disbelief that he was going to make me one.

They have sweet pies as well but we opted just to go for the sandwiches and shakes.maid rite sandwichThe sandwiches and shakes arrived, with our server pouring our shakes for us in to small glasses from their large silver milkshake containers. The weeks heading up to my arrival Madame Iowa had said she would pour my milkshake for me so I wouldn’t make a mess. Errr, think I can do it myself?? Now I understand, the shakes are what we would call a thick shake. These shakes are pretty solid so there is a bit of technique to it, shimmy and shake and you are right, get the technique wrong and you have ice cream mess everywhere. I am proud to say I was able to refill my glass and impressed the locals.maid rite shakeThe sandwich/burger was actually really nice. I sprinkled a little salt on the mince, seemed to be the thing to do, and it did actually need it. They don’t add flavour or spices to the mince and they grind their own.

My peanut butter and jelly shake tasted as described, the raspberry syrup they use is really like a jam, thick and sweet and I think it actually was peanut butter not a syrup that was used. They are a meal on their own and very filling. The guy who made my shake was happy I liked it and did a bit of a “told you so” to his fellow work mates. If you get to Iowa, it is worth a visit. There are a few franchises around beside the one in Marshalltown. They also deliver anywhere in the USA, seriously!

Sara xxx

Taylors Maid-Rite, 106 Sth 3rd Ave, Marshalltown
Taylor's Maid-Rite on Urbanspoon


13 Apr
April 13, 2010

This was “the” restaurant on my eat list for New York and when bookings opened 1 month prior to my arrival I booked.

I was surprised when I mentioned to foodie friends of my excitement of visiting WD-50, that a few of them had not heard of the restaurant nor it’s chef Wylie Dufresne. I first caught wind of Wylie on Top chef where he introduced contestants to molecular gastronomy. To me he is the American version of Heston Blumenthal, he is part scientist, part artist and pushes the boundaries to create incredible food.

Wd 50 signSince then I have seen him appear on many programs including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, where Anthony commented he was quite surprised that Wylie was working in the kitchen still as he could quite easily have his own tv show, book deals etc. He is a hands on chef and is generally at the pass of his restaurant most nights. He loves what he does and that is reflected in his food. Read more →

Daring Bakers Challenge – Orange Tian

12 Apr
April 12, 2010


The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I decided for my Orange Tian to make a single large one. The only variation I made to the recipe that we were given to work with was to add dark chocolate to the cream. I just love the flavour combination of orange and chocolate.

Pate Sablee

2 medium sized egg yolks at room temperature
6T granulated sugar
½t vanilla extract
100gms Unsalted butter ice cold, cubed
1/3t Salt
1½c + 2T plain flour
1t baking powder

Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. If you don’t have a food processor you can use the old fashion method of rubbing the butter in to the flour and baking powder by hand until it resembles bread crumbs (this is what I did)

In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor (or bowl).

Process (or mix) until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden. IMAG0336

Sara’s notes: Sadly my base turned out quite thick and this spoilt the texture of the end Tian as it was a bit of an effort to cut through. Take care in rolling out and make sure it is no thicker than 1/4 inch.


¼c + 3T freshly pressed orange juice
1 large orange
cold water to cook the orange slices
5 gms pectin
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.IMAG0333

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor). IMAG0335

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.IMAG0337

Sara’s Notes: I used CSR’s jam sugar instead of adding pectin. I actually have never added pectin to marmalade when making it before due to the way I was taught by my My Aunty Tilly. She made a tart marmalade not a sweet one so pectin was naturally received through the peels in the cooking method, and only normal sugar was used.

Orange Segments

8 oranges

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.


1c granulated sugar
1½c + 2T orange juice

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

Whipped Cream

1c heavy whipping cream
3T hot water
1t gelatine
1T icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1T orange marmalade (see recipe above)

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

Sara’s Notes: I added 100gms of melted dark chocolate to my cream.

Assembling the Dessert

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer. If you are using a spring form pan a tray is not needed.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone or line your tin to ensure nothing seeps out.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter/or tin. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter/tin to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately. IMAG0348

Sara’s Notes: As I used the one larger tin, slices of the tian were served.