Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce

This was the most delicious thing ever. I don't even have an end photo because we ate it too fast!

For the pudding:
The oven should be at 180. Chop up 250g of dates and cover them with a cup and a half of boiling water and a tsp of bicarb soda.
Then cream 125g of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and a tsp of vanilla essence. Beat in two eggs, one at a time.
By this time the dates should be ready, fold in 1 and 3/4 cups of SR flour and the dates (with the water).

Then put it in a tin or whatever you fancy cooking it in, if you want to be able to turn it out line it with paper, but we just eat it out of the tin.
Cook times depend on how big the tins are, if its in just one tin it'll be at least half an hour. Check it with a skewer. If you do little individual serves the cooking time will be considerably less.

While the pudding is baking, do the butterscotch.
You need 160ml (2/3cup) of cream, 155g (3/4cup) brown sugar, 50g butter (cubed) and 2 tsp of vanilla. Put these all in a saucepan on medium heat and let the butter melt and everything combine for about 5 minutes, then bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for about 5 minutes.
The recipe I got it from said to let it sit for a bit, but you don't really need to.

These are best served together warm. If you're having it the next day (the butterscotch will last for a while in the fridge btw) warm it up, it is so much better.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hey everyone!
I'm not an apprentice anymore! I was finding it a bit too intense, and the Orchard kind of needed someone more experienced so they could take more charge in the kitchen.
I think I'm gonna be better of taking things a bit slow >.< And now I'll be able to cook more at home and write more blogs!

But thanks to everyone who sent me lovely messages about getting the job :3 It was good while it lasted!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Poached pears

Another really easy one! I made it for dessert one time when we wanted dessert, but not something super sweet.. so fruit won!

I got two pears, peeled them, then cut them in half an took the core out. If you have a corer use it! But try to keep the top where the stem is intact for presentation (or don't bother if presentation doesn't worry you)

Then I made a stock syrup, which is one part water one part sugar. Use enough water to cover the pears. And you can leave out some of the sugar if you don't want it so sweet.
I also added some cinnamon.

Once it was almost boiling I put the pears in and covered it with a cartouch (circle of baking paper) to keep them immersed, then let them simmer (NOT BOIL) for about 10 minutes til they were cooked. Check them a few times with a knife or skewer to see if ready though, don't over cook them! But its okay if they're still a little hard in the middle, they're still delicious.

I also made some custard to have with them, and heated some of the left over stock syrup with a bit more sugar and cinnamon and let it turn saucy, but I got impatient so it was still really runny, but made a nice glazey thing to drizzle over the pears and custard.

This can also be done with apples, or peaches, or other fruits. But pears are my favourite.


Easy as pie! And so delicious. I got inspired to make my own pasta after seeing the awesome tortellini at work so made it for lunch on our cleaning day! (We were having an inspection so needed to clean the entire house)

I didn't really have a pasta recipe, I just did about half a cup of plain flour and one egg. But at my work they go with 100g flour to one egg. Which I think is about the same?
Also, work uses 'type 00' flour which is really really fine, but I just use normal plain flour and it works fine.

I started by making the pasta dough, as above, just put the flour and egg in a bowl with a little olive oil and then mix it with hands until its mostly combined, then turn it onto a clean counter or board and knead it until all the flour is worked in and the dough is really smooth.

Now, I let it sit for a little bit covered in glad wrap but I don't think that part is necessary.. it just rests the glutens so its easier to roll out, but if you're okay with some hard work or are in a hurry you can roll it out straight away.

While the pasta rested I made ricotta and spinach for the filling, just got about 150g of fresh ricotta and a big handful of spinach and chopped it up a little, then mixed it together. Voila!

Having a pasta machine is the best for this part, but I don't have one. I just used a rolling pin, which works fine, but the pasta didn't end up very even adn I had some ravioli with thicker pasta then others.. but oh well.
Roll it out pretty thin, probably a 2 on a machine, or about one or two mm thick if you're rolling.

I have little dumpling moulds which I found at an asian shop in Box Hill, I bought them for the amazing translations on the packaging, but they were really useful! I cut out a circle of pasta and laid it over the mould, then you fill it a little, then fold it over and press down adn it makes a pretty edge!
You can easily do it by hand too though, just cut out a circle and fill and then fold by hand and press edges (for the edges, try to flatten them out so they're not too thick, otherwise the rest of the ravioli will cook before the edges)
I re-rolled the left over pasta and used it all, then let the ravioli sit for a little while while I cleaned up.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the ravioli one by one (I put the ones that ended up with thicker pasta in first so they could cook longer) and cook until the pasta is cooked. Which is probably about 7 minutes, but I didn't time it so I'm not sure..

I served it with garlic and onion pasta sauce from the supermarket, but it would be even better with a homemade sauce if you have time!

Also, you can substitute the spinach adn ricotta for whatever you want. Minced meats or potato or corn or really whatever. Can't promise it'd all taste good though !


Friday, January 28, 2011

Hey everyone! I got an apprenticeship!
Its at a little restaurant in Armadale called The Orchard. It does European style food and has a shit tonne of wine and beer.
Its really awesome! I've been there two days and I'm already made some pretty cool stuff.
The head chef is called Steve and he reminds me a lot of our family friend Terri, who was the one who inspired me to consider cooking as a career almost 3 years ago.

Yesterday I just went in for all the menu prep, I made onion rings and pastry and grissini and picked heaps of herbs. Today I was in for lunch service, which was pretty quiet. I made potato and carrot batons, and mashed potato and picked MORE herbs. Then came home and went back for the dinner service which was pretty hectic. I did a lot of dishes, and made a champagne sabayon and assembled a raspberry tart and a platter of amazing things (pictured), and got to see heaps of the dishes from the menu.

So yeah! If you ever had a heap of money to spare (appetisers go up to $20) come have dinner at my work!

Friday, January 21, 2011


So easy. You probably don't really need a recipe, but here's some inspiration :)

You will need some bread dough. Flatten it out on a slightly greased tray, and you have your base!
Then top it with whatever you want.

Tonight I had a couple of friends over and decided pizzas were a great way to make something fun and delicious that everyone can personalise with their own favourite toppings.
I did a tomato base, sliced tomato, ham, rocket and baby spinach, sliced mushroom, sliced cooked potato, crumbled feta, and some vintage cheddar.
I cooked the potato by slicing it up, then microwaving it for a couple of minutes spread out on a plate, then frying it a little to get it nice and crisp and delicious.

One of my other favourites is BBQ chicken.
I get a chicken breast and cut it into small cubes, then fry them until cooked.
Grate a whole lot of cheese, then flatten the edges of the pizza out super thin, sprinkle a line of cheese on it, then roll it over - and you have yourself a delicious stuffed crust.
Then I put BBQ sauce over the base, then sliced tomato, then the cooked chicken, then pineapple, then mushrooms, then caramelised onions, then heaps more cheese.

Have fun!

Cinnamon syrup

So I'm currently halfway through a blog for cheesecake and needed to link this recipe in!
A friend of mine made it for a dinner party and its amazing, perfect with apple pie or crumble or even just on icecream.

I don't have any photos of it, but one day I will make it and put up a photo.

I cup caster sugar
1tbsp cornstarch
1cup boiling water
1tbsp butter
Cinnamon - to your taste (abut a tsp or a little more)

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Add boiling water and cook on low heat, stirring until it thickens. Add more cinnamon to taste, then add butter and continue cooking until melted.

Apple cheesecake with Caramel

My wonderful Aunt Naomi gave me some money for housewarming/christmas to get some more things the house needed, I figured even though I don't make cheesecake very often, it would be wise to have a spring form tin just in case.

I went to the General Trader at Chadstone and got a big one, 22" I think. But also two really small cute ones.
So figured I better make some cheesecake to use them!

My recipe is:
500g cream cheese
300ml sour cream
3/4cup caster sugar
3 eggs

Put the cheese, cream and sugar in a food processor and process it, then add one egg at a time and process til its nice and smooth.

For the base I use a packet of chocolate ripple biscuits or marie biscuits crushed up with 100g of melted butter and then press it into the base, then refrigerated.

From here, you can add anything you want. Take a third of the cheese mix and add melted chocolate, then dollop it over the plain mix and marble it. Add a swirl of stewed fruits. Once set put some jelly over the top. Make the entire thing chocolate. Add crushed oreos for cookies and cream cheesecake.
Really, anything you can think of a way of doing, you can do it. I'm not promising it'll turn out good though :P

Have the oven preheated to 160. Put the cheese mix in the base and bake on the bottom shelf for about an hour, depending on the size of the tin and such. Just make sure the middle is set.

For mine, I stewed some sliced apples in a stock syrup with cinnamon, and lay them over the base under the cheese mix. I didn't think of it at the time but it would have been really great with cinnamon syrup swirled through as well.

I made caramel to go with the cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups caster sugar, 125ml water, 2/3cup brown sugar, and 300 ml cream.
Sugar and water in saucepan over low heat until dissolved, then high/medium heat until boiled, then boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Then add the brown sugar, then remove from heat and add cream, then put back on heat and cook for a couple of minutes.

I don't think I boiled mine for long enough the first time, I got impatient and 'cause we use raw caster sugar it was hard to tell if it was getting too dark.. so it wasn't very thick, but still tasty.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I just found an amazing photo gallary of breakfasts from all over America.
Its amazing, makes me excited to cook breakfast.


Another really great, cheap, easy meal.

My general base is:
A potato or two (or three, or four, depending how much you want to make)
A carrot or two
An onion
Brocolli or cauliflower
A big tin of coconut cream
A small amount of chicken stock (1/4cup ish?)
Chicken peas, I used a tin of them but fresh ones are nicer!

Now, I use my mums curry powder which she makes from her own ground up spices, I have no idea whats in it, but its delicious.
I'm sure you could use any other kind of store bought curry powder or paste, or make a mix of your favourite ground spices to put in.
I also used one chili from my garden, but you don't need to put one in. Mine was pretty little and isn't very hot, it just gave it a little kick.

Cut the potato and carrot into cubes, around 1cmsq but whatever you want really.
Dice the onion.
Heat some oil in a large frypan or saucepan and saute the onion.
Then add the chilli and curry powder and cook a little more.

Then add the stock and vegetables and cook off for a while, until they start to soften.
Then add the coconut cream and chickpeas and cook furthur, until the vegies are cooked and its gotten nice and thick.

Once the coconut cream has gone in I started cooking the rice to go with it, you can do whatever you want with it.

And that's about it! You can substitute pretty much anything in it if you wanna make changes.