March 19, 2011

Autumn preview...

The day started like this...




Chicken stock, garlic, chilli... clearly I was feeling a little under the weather, but I wasn't about to let that stop me from enjoying a much needed baking session. There was no particular plan, but after a quick flick through the usual resources and a slow and feverish trip to the markets, one leftover ingredient led to another recipe, and things were soon well underway.

Excess egg whites became these beautifully moist and crunchy flourless walnut cakes...





Gâteaux aux noix sans farine


The astonishingly splendid idea of dusting your cake tin in almond meal soon led to the favoured combination of pear and ginger being effortlessly transformed into a luscious and dense afternoon tea cake...





Gâteau au gingembre frais et aux poires
And the ginger theme continued with these immensely comforting baked blackberry and stem ginger puddings...

Baked blackberry and stem ginger pudding
The recommendation was to serve these charming puds with a dollop of thick cream, but I thought a scoop of winter rhubarb ice cream would work pretty nicely too...
Winter rhubarb ice cream
Messy delicious
It's never fun taking time out for malaise, but if you do have to spend the day in, there are certainly worse ways to do it...

March 13, 2011

Recovering with carrots...

This time I'm making no excuses. Not much has happened this past week in kitchen TPB, and for very good reason... it's been Melbourne Food and Wine Festival week.




Broadsheet cafe
  

This was the first year I made any real effort to attend more than just the obligatory event, and I very quickly learnt that I'll need to be more tactical in future. The trouble with there being such an incredible array of talent on offer lies not only in the decision of when and what to eat, but in having a sufficiently sturdy constitution to make the most of it. I was certainly defeated, and as far as unmissable events go, I didn't even begin to scratch the surface...

But from what I did manage, a couple of daytime highlights included the brilliantly conceived Broadsheet cafe and an exceptionally pleasant summer afternoon spent wandering by the river at Cellar Door, Farm Gate. It was lovely to enjoy the pleasures of the likes of Five Senses and Dead Man a little closer to home, and taking in the deliciousness on offer from some of Victoria's finest producers on such a glorious day was undeniably bliss.


 goodies!


By night there was the sweet architextural delights of those thoroughly zany jellymongers, Bombas & Parr who, together with their sacchariferous partners in crime, created such an overindulgent spectacle that even Marie Antoinette would have been tickled. Some delicious Malaysian fare was enjoyed in the offerings of the ineffable Mr Pelaccio, but for me this year's festival highlight goes to the creative genius of Misters Burch and Purchese and the absolutely heavenly evening they presented together with the crew at Der Raum. As we spent the night reinterpreting dessert, I ate things I've never before consumed (liquid nitrogen-filled meringues, anyone?), experienced such divine textural and flavour combination's that my brain had minor conniptions, and ultimately had so much fun it was ridiculous. Thanks gents, 'twas both an honour and pleasure indeed.


 Reinterpreting Der Raum


So as you can by now hopefully appreciate, not only has kitchen time this week been few and far between, but after such luxurious gluttony I've been subsisting on no more than the occasional celery stick in a bid to recover.
And so just a single offering this week, intended to help sustain those of us not entitled to tomorrow's holiday. A slight adaptation on one of my greater loves, these little carrot, pear and pecan muffins should certainly hit the spot.




muffin-tage!



Carrot, pear & pecan muffins... delish!

March 6, 2011

Dessert series: slowly taking over the world... part 2

As you all know, I'm a fan of life's simple pleasures, and so if it were up to me I'd probably just hand you a spoon and a tub of blackberry and rose geranium sorbet and call time...





...but I'd wager that if you're intending to take over the world, then people will expect you to put in a little more effort. So with that in mind, when it came to plotting the next in my series of "desserts to die for" I decided to up the ante.

Now I was reasonably close to not posting this because, as you'll soon see, the execution is still going to need a bit of work. Conceptually, however, it's the bomb, and so I'm calling first dibs, patent pending.

_______________

For months now these white chocolate espresso parfait sandwiches have been on the top of my 'to do' list, but since I'm still rather obsessed with the potentials of rose geranium, I thought I'd offer a slightly different slant.

The base was to be hazelnut meringue, and while these did turn out to be reasonably delicious, they are also the subject of future tweaking.






Admittedly, meringues have never been my greatest achievement, and I am in no way assisted by a frustratingly temperamental oven that is disinclined to work at low temperatures. I also tend to forget some of the more vital steps involved, and so for future reference - if you fail to oil the baking paper before spreading a thin sheet of meringue, while some will be recovered relatively unscathed...




...others won't necessarily make the grade.




So although things were already starting to look a little more bastardised-Eton-mess than ice cream sandwich, I stuck to the plan and carried on regardless. A burnt raspberry caramel was prepared...




 ...as was a subtle yet heavenly rose geranium ice cream...




...and then it was all combined into a rather spectacular sandwich, of sorts.




 After a night in the freezer it was time to assess, and ladies and gentlemen, I think we're on to something here...





Technically there's still some work to do, and care must be taken not to overpower the delicate rose geranium with the stunning intensity of the raspberry caramel. But captiousness aside, it was still notably divine and has all the attributes of much-loved classic. It is, afterall, love...