February 25, 2010

Bettie puts her right foot in...


Ok, now I know I promised to ease off with the icy taunts, but this is me we're talking about. And ice cream. So naturally that was a complete and utter lie. Hence, a quartet of beauties for your sensory titillation, and after last week's comments, I thought it only fitting that Bettie join us.




From top to bottom (or visa-versa, depending on how you roll), we have:




Coffee ice cream


Coffee ice cream, made with a particularly stunning S3 blend of Brazilians from Sensory Lab. Lusciously delicious, it was indeed plush-deluxe, and to my mind, one of the only times when having both milk and sugar in your coffee is acceptable.



Green apple sorbet


A Green apple sorbet that was refreshing, very appley (in a grassy kind-of way), and very very green. This had a more subtle allure than previous sorbets, but was still rather lovely, and matched particularly well with the following...




Cinnamon honey ice cream


This cinnamon honey ice cream was surprisingly intense, and dreadfully good. Coupled with the apple sorbet, you got a delightful summertime crumble, which was indeed a good thing.

And finally, at the request of Miss Rose, the hokey pokey.



Hokey pokey ice cream


I hate this ice cream. Not because it isn't fantandabulously delectable, but because I spent a great deal of time thereafter humming as to where I should put various parts of my body and sporadically turning around in circles. Not only is it very much not my style, it is also extraordinarily irritating, and while I should probably apologise, the more sinister part of me secretly hopes you are now doing the same...


What I do love about this ice cream, however, is the heavenly vanilla custard that serves as the base, and the discovery that making your own honeycomb is in fact dangerously easy. It is also quite possibly the best hokey pokey I've ever had.



And that's what it's all about...



February 21, 2010

There is a heaven... and it's made of monkey balls...


There are a lot of things I like about food, but if I had to rank them, coffee, doughy/pastry treats and lewd innuendo/silly names would be right up there. So if you gave me a recipe for something that is essentially a pull-apart loaf made of doughnut holes, and then preceded to tell me that this most wondrous creation is called monkey bread, I may just experience apoplexy. At least I managed to finish baking it first…










And then, with a delightful Bolivian San Juan 8 Estrella, heaven suddenly got even better…




February 19, 2010

Absence makes the pork grow saltier...


You may have noticed a rather formidable absence in the previous few postings, so perhaps I should explain…

The reason I’ve been going solo these last few weeks is that Miss Rose has a rapidly approaching PhD confirmation to prepare for and, all things being unequal, it’s simply more important right now. That’s not to say she hasn’t been in the kitchen – I have recently been treated to some amazing slow roasts of lamb and pork shoulder (accompanied by exceptionally puffy Yorkshire puddings, no less), the beautiful and traditional chicken rice to help celebrate Chinese New Year, and what I believe to be the greatest pork crackling ever – it’s just I’ve been a little slack when it comes to acquiring the photographic evidence to prove it (along with my camera’s current and decidedly unhealthy interpretation of what ‘to work’ fundamentally means).

So Miss Rose is certainly still alive and well and baking up a veritable storm, but until she has officially been confirmed, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for just a little bit longer, and of course that can mean only one thing…






I don’t think I will ever tire of ice cream, but I suspect you might, and there are only so many ways I can think of to photograph a ball of ice-creamy-sorbety-goodness, so I will endeavor for this to be my last on the subject… for a while at least. It’s just that there are so many different combinations to try, and but a moment from discovering what I think may be one of the best sorbets ever, I come across something like this…


Zabaglione ice cream


And this…


Blueberry frozen yoghurt


The texture of this zabaglione is utterly gorgeous, and the blueberry a strikingly brilliant purple with such a beautiful and zesty tang. But astoundingly, these were in fact the weaker two of this week’s creations, because first there was this…



Mint chocolate chip ice cream


The custard base is infused with fresh mint, so not only is it a very pretty hue of pastel green but it also tastes like real, proper mint. And of course, once you’ve folded through copious amounts of shaved bittersweet chocolate, it’s simply bliss.

And then, oh lordy, there was this…


Ginger and lime shaved ice with mango syrup


Conceptually there’s nothing to it – a simple sugar syrup infused with fresh ginger and Kaffir lime, shaved, and then drizzled with a dark, sweet mango syrup – but, and I may have to borrow from Miss Rose here when I say, holy crap balls!

Firstly, it’s ridiculously refreshing. It’s also wonderfully complex and amazingly intense, and while I would probably cut down on the sweetness next time, and do the shaving business better, I think what really took me was the ginger. You know that fabulous warm burn you get from a well made ginger bread that’s not afraid to kick it with the ginger? Yep, that’s what you get here, but on ice. Oh yeah!

Speaking of oh yeah, did I mention we made our own bacon?




Mmm, salted pig…


Yup, turns out there are ways other than smoking to end up with your very own cured little piggy. And it involves pork belly, salt, maple syrup, and making sandwiches…






February 13, 2010

It's a citrus frenzy!


Like practically everyone else in Melbourne right now, I’m tired. I’m tired of being hot. I’m tired of being uncomfortable. I’m tired of not sleeping. Yeah, I’m tired. But if you had to find a positive side to insomnia, then you’d probably go with it meaning there’s more time for this:

(It’s pronounced ‘sor-bay’)
Having changed Miss Rose’s mind about sorbet with my visually- and palate-stimulating blood plum and taken on board a few requests, this week’s perpetual summertime restlessness allowed for a little icy exploration into what became a demonstration of the utmost domestic efficiency. Ask nicely, my friends, and you shall most certainly receive…


Guava sorbet



Orange and passionfruit mascarpone sorbet

Lime sorbet, with a twist
And then, partly to make space in the freezer, but more honestly because it is simply the most heavenly sorbet known to man, I just had to whip up some of this…


Blood plum sorbet


_______________

Now, if you’ll bear with me just a little longer, I’d like to introduce you to my latest passion.
Something I’d decided to do before life went resoundingly to hell was to start making my own bread. After all, you can’t well be a Lady Baker without perfecting bread, now can you? By all accounts, making your own natural starter couldn’t be simpler, and with a PhD in microbiology, I figured I was suitably qualified, and that if I couldn’t make this happen, then there must be something very, very wrong with me.
Thankfully, I can report that I am not entirely useless, and we now have a happy new addition to the Pretty Bake Team that will (hopefully) assist our baking efforts well in to the future.
From the outset, everything seemed to go according to schedule. The first week was predictably gassy, but I managed to persevere through the acrid funk of the prokaryotic crash-and-burn, and eventually made it to the more sedate bubblings of the desired eukaryotes.

This is how it starts

Everything bubbles along nicely

…Perhaps a little too nicely

And it might get a bit funky


But you get there in the end
Two weeks of daily feedings later, while I was aware that the flavour would still continue to develop, it was time to attempt my first loaf. Sourdough baguettes were the order of the day, and with all the tender loving care I could muster, I began. Having a very specific and singular shading preference for personal attire was perhaps a little unsuited to the floury kitchen havoc that ensued, and things certainly got hot and steamy there for a while (the oven that is), but ultimately, these were the results:


sponge & first prove


Second prove & a night of relaxation


warming & shaping


ta-dah!



It’s definitely still a work in progress, and there are a number of variables that require opimisation, the least of which being finding something to help transfer the loaves to my baking stone so that they don’t look so “rustic”. But encouragingly, not only did they smell like sourdough, they tasted like sourdough.
Colour me chuffed.

February 3, 2010

Ice cream is gonna save the day...


Woooooooo…
aaaaaaaah…
It’s been warm here of late, a little too warm for proper baking sessions. But that certainly hasn’t stopped me from making ice cream.
So in lieu of joint TPB kitchen productiveness, here are this week’s icy taunts; brought to you by the letters:
B… C… and P…


C is for chocolate gelato #2

P is for (blood) plum sorbet


Woooooooo…
aaaaaaaah…