Monday, May 30, 2011

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Brownies

I have not been able to quash my chocolate cravings, recently. I eat a little piece of chocolate everyday, or indulge in a hot chocolate at night.

I was aching to bake something very wicked. Trawling Amazon, for a cookbook I have been looking for, for a very long time, I came across David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life. Wow this cookbook looks drool worthy, the kind of book I would treasure. And it is French! My favourite food.

I then discovered he has a website, and was trawling through it when I discovered Dulce de Leche Brownies OH MY!!!!!!!!!!!

I knew I had to make these. No question. Off I went shopping for the best chocolate I could buy, and the dulce de leche. Of coarse where I live there is nothing that constitutes a decent kitchen supply store, or anything even remotely like it. So I ducked into Woolies and bought a Top and Fill, praying that this would substitute the caramelly goodness that is dulce de leche.

I decided not to add as much butter, just a smidgen less, and 1/2 the sugar. I like my dark chocolate desserts to be more chocolatey than all sugary. The best thing about this recipe is you melt it all in a saucepan mix it together and pour it into the baking tray, super super easy :)

100 grams butter
170 grams 70% cocoa chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder, the best you can buy
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vanilla caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain flour
250 ml top 'n fill

Melt the butter, and chocolate together, in a medium saucepan. Take it off the heat just before all the chocolate has melted, add the cocoa whisk until combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, and whisk really well. Add the vanilla, sugar and flour, combine.

Spoon half the mixture into a lined brownie baking tray. Spoon, dollops of the caramel top n' fill, over the top of the brownie. Then cover with the rest of the brownie mix.

  Freshly baked brownie!!

Bake for 20 minutes in a 170C fan forced oven. I actually wish I hadn't baked them for so long, maybe even only for 12 minutes. They are fudgey, but not gooey, how I love them. But still fantastic warm with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream ;)

Friday, May 27, 2011

What I'm Craving ATM

I've NOT made it a secret how much I worship at the chocolate alter. I have always loved chocolate. I used to live down the road from Just William's chocolate shop. The smell coming from this tiny store was absolutly intoxicating. I remember my first taste of good quality hand made truffles, and chocolates. I have never been the same since. Cadbury's and other supermarket chocolates just don't look the same.....

Right now it is my weakness!!! My KRYPTONITE!!! I have to not think about it, and how many things I want to bake with it. Lovely molten lava cakes, gooey brownies, chocolate chip cookies, fudgey chocolate cake!!!!

BEWARE Lindt Gold Bunny, that is my husbands, that still!!! sits in the cupboard from EASTER!!!

I have dreams about drinking out of the chocolate river just like Augustus Gloop!  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Turkish Pizza

I love the Masterchef magazine. I have to have it every month. I saw a recipe for Turkish pizza in the may 2011 issue, and just had to try it.

I have always loved pizza, no matter if it is a pide, pizza, gozleme or Turkish. This looked super easy, just the kind of recipe's I'm looking for right now. I am growing larger and larger, and finding I tire so easily now that standing in the kitchen making elaborate dinners, is just not going to happen. I would rather rest up. But I still want to eat healthy and not sacrifice flavour. This recipe was exactly what I was looking for.

I had some Greek gyros bread and used them as the base for the pizza. You can buy the bazaar bread brand from the supermarket, this is pretty close to the original and perfect for this recipe.

makes 2 pizza's

125 grams lamb mince
1 teaspoon ras el hanout
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
1/2 teaspoon coriander ground
1 teaspoon paprika
garlic to taste, grated
1 fresh tomato finely diced
5 mint leaves shredded finely
2 teaspoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon currants
1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

 Meanwhile toast the gyros, in a pan, brush with a little olive oil and warm the bread turning a few times.
Spread the mince mixture over the bread, then place them into the oven,  on 210C for about 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

Before cooking.
 After cooking.

Sprinkle with extra mint, parsley and dollop of Greek yoghurt. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the top just before eating. I had it with a simple side salad.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vegetarian Pie

I love to make this vegetable pie. I find it so easy, you just roast up whatever vege's you like and throw them in the pie. Or it is even quicker if you have leftover roast vegetables!
I don't like to use too much butter or sour cream for my pastry recipe. But by all means if you prefer and much richer pastry shell add much more butter. I first saw the addition of sour cream, in pastry, on Maggie Beer's website. So please by all means try Maggie's pastry is you want it a lot richer. 
1 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
60 grams butter softened
2 tablespoon sour cream
cold water

Mixed vegetables, I roasted pumpkin, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and eggplant.

1/2 cup cream
4 eggs
3-4 tablespoons grated parmesan
pinch salt and pepper

Mix all the pastry ingredients together,
I never have the butter or water chilled, and this pastry always works for me. I also never rest the pastry and have never had a problem, it will shrink a little, but I always compensate for that by having a bit hang over the edge.
Work in enough water to form a dough. Roll the dough out to fit your pie dish. Prick the bottom with a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes in a 180C fan forced oven, keep the oven on to bake the pie.

Throw your vegetables into the pie base. I also dot it with a cheese, either a goats feta or cream cheese, sometimes both. And I also like to throw in some olives 6-8 is enough, otherwise it is too salty for me.

Mix the filling ingredients together and pour over the pie.

Cover the pie with foil bake for about 50 minutes. Take the foil off and continue to bake until filling is set usually another 20-30 minutes. If it browns too much cover it with foil to continue baking.

Let it cool slightly, it makes it easier to cut into slices. I really love this the next day, cold.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cute or Creepy.....

This is my little dog Chucky. I had to share these pics. My husband and I love the fact that he is such a huge character, in a small 2 kilo package!

Yes we did get him from a breeder and we feel terrible for that. But the breeder didn't want him cause he is not able to be 'showed.' He has a broken blood vessel on his right eye, and that made him not "perfect". So he was not able to go to the dog shows. I loved his imperfections and the fact his eyes didn't focus forward!

Since the baby has started moving around in my womb, Chuck has become obsessively attached to me. Resting his head on my belly when he can, listening and feeling the babies movements. Following me everywhere I go. Sitting and staring up at me in such a creepy way. Hubby and I think that Chuck may think this is his baby!!!

He often sucks on his back foot when he sleeps, crazy!

                     Practise wrapping for the babies arrival.
                Chucky clearly not impressed with the wrapping hahahah!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thai Peanut Satay Noodles

I absolutely love Thai food. I have always have a thing for the slippery, fat and moreish rice noodles. I can't get enough of them. And partnered with a delicious satay sauce it sends me into a frenzy.

Being pregnant I have had huge cravings for sour, salty and sweet for a while now. I just can't seem to get enough of the flavour combo. Bring on the salted peanut chocolate buttercups from Just William's I say! They have just the right amount of salty peanuts to fudgy goodness, covered in a delicious milk chocolate.

The only thing I don't like, and never have is chili, BLEG! I have never liked the heat, I don't know how anyone can stand it. To me it takes away from the flavour of the food. I don't mind a small amount of heat, but not a lot. Everyone around me eats it like there is a chilli shortage. My mother even grows chilli, how absurd!!! What a waste of a beautiful pot, when you could have so many other lovely things growing in there!!

Anyway I had my usual Thai food cravings yesterday, but there is no where near where we live that do good Thai takeaway, so with the help of hubby, we decided to make our own! We were so spoilt when we lived in Sydney all the fantastic food. Now if we want something we have to make it ourselves. Sometimes fun, sometimes annoying when you cannot be bothered to cook, or knowing that you could never get the same flavour as your favourite Thai takeaway.

This recipe was fantastic, it was delicious, and just the right amount of sweet, spice, salt and sour. And the best part is I have leftover's for today!! :)

I used a combination of these two recipes Nuoc Leo, and Manu's Satay Chicken.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 garlic, chopped finely
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded finely chopped, add more if you want it spicier
1/3 cup roasted peanuts chopped roughly, leave a little texture to them, reserve some for sprinkling on top of the finished noodles
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup coconut cream
juice of 1-2 limes, depending on how juicy the limes are
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a low heat, add the garlic, ginger and chilli.
Add the rest of the ingredients in one go. Simmer for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth peanut sauce that has thicken slightly.

Next Stir fry whatever combination of vegetable, meat, tofu etc that you like. We used prawns, baby octopus, broccoli, carrots, onions, snow peas and of coarse rice noodles.

Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles. When plating up sprinkle with the reserved peanuts, maybe even some coriander, but we didn't have any.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wedding Fever

I have had wedding fever for a few weeks now cause of Wills and Catherine! I think she looked absouletly stunning. Simple, understated and more importantly herself. Wills looked good too, but we all know that a wedding day it is about the bride.

I have been going through my wedding photos since finding out I was pregnant. I have been so emo, my wedding really gets the tears flowing. I get teary remembering how much fun and love filled that day.

I tried to keep everything simple. Simple dress, simple flowers, and just going with the flow. Not really having too much of a fixed idea of what I had to have really helped. So much easier to have a simple colour scheme and decorations.

I also decided early on that I only wanted to just have a maid of honor, a very good friend of mine, and my brother was the best man, as he introduced us many years ago!

The only thing that hubby and I were determined to have spectacular was the food at the reception. We went with a favourite venue of ours, the GPO in sydney, and poured most of our wedding budget into that. It was worth it the food was delicious, exactly what we were after and more. We had the whole lower ground floor, for our rowdy greek wedding.

I will never forget the feeling of that day. I was filled to the brim with love, happiness, excitement, joy and anticipation of a new beginning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day

My mother came to spend some time with me last week.

I was in desperate need for mother daughter time. Mum has always been such a great help to me. Whether it is emotional, or physically helping me this week with cleaning, cooking etc.

I couldn't ask for a better mother. She is my best friend, my sister, my confidant. Mum knows more about me than I know about myself....


Friday, May 6, 2011

Wholemeal Oaty Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Never watch Chocolat when you are craving chocolate and pregnant!! It is downright dangerous. I should know this by now, as it is one of my favorite movies.

I saved this recipe from taste and then saw this on the gorgeous Heidi's blog wholemeal choc chip cookies. Which gave me the idea to use wholemeal flour, instead of the boring old white I always use.

I have been craving far too many things lately, sweet, savoury, and sour! I can never make up my mind what I want to eat! I knew after seeing the cookies on apples under my bed that I wanted to make these cookies. I had some really good quality dark chocolate that I could cut into chunks and throw into the mix. Perfect for an afternoon tea and chocolate craving without over indulging on a whole block of chocolate :)

Makes 20 cookies.

100 grams butter
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup rolled oats
100 grams chocolate, cut into chunks
1/4 cup toasted almonds
pinch of salt

preheat oven to 180C fan forced

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg and beat until mixed through. Then just add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand.

Scoop out tablespoons full of mixture onto, baking paper, spaced for a bit of spreading when baked. Bake for 12-15 minutes. They will be firm when cool, but still a little chewy, which I love for these cookies. If you want them crispier bake them for 5 or so minutes longer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate and Pear Tart

I have been feeling like comfort food for the last week or so. I have been in a little bit of a funk. I think it is cause of my dog passing away, and not being able to be there to say goodbye. And not being able to spend time with my family at Easter. I love Easter, it is such a special time of year, and not being around them depressed me a little. I have been put on bed rest and not able to travel, Obstetrician's order's!

So it was feet up and let hubby do everything around the house, plus all the cooking for Easter. He did a great job, definitely not complaining about that :) But it is frustrating when I love to cook so much having to sit back and do nothing!!!!

After watching Masterchef last night and the Adriano Zumbo challenge of chocolate, it inspired me to make a chocolatey dessert. My husband and I always watch lots of cooking shows together, and figure out what we would make with the mystery box or the challenges that come up. This is what I would of made in the Adriano chocolate challenge, hands down. I wish I could plate up in a fancy way so the food looked better haha. But I figure as long as it tastes great, that's really all that matters :) 

I love making pastry. I find it so tasty and far better than the bought variety. I think everyone that loves baking should give it a try.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
150 grams cold butter cubed
chilled water, enough to bring it to a dough

125 grams butter softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk

3 large pears, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
put this all into a bowl and set aside.

Chocolate Sauce
2 rows dark chocolate
2-3 tablespoons cream
Melt chocolate and add cream to make a pouring sauce.

Preheat your oven to 170C

1. Place all the pastry ingredients, except the water, into a food processor and blend, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
2. slowly add the chilled water until it looks like a dough. Take it out and form it into a dough, do not knead. Wrap in cling wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. Roll the pastry out to fit your tin. Then blind bake it in an oven for about 15 minutes, on 180C. Take it  out and put the base aside.
4. Blend the butter and sugar together until pale. Then add your eggs one at a time.
5. Slow the mixer down and add the flour, almond meal, and cocoa. Then add your vanilla, cinnamon, and tablespoon of milk. The milk is to just loosen the mixture slightly.
6. Fill the pastry base with the filling, then top with the vanilla pears.
7 Bake for about 45 minutes. Until the middle is just cooked through. Serve with creme fraiche, and chocolate sauce.