Sunday 31 January 2010

Chocolate Fondant for Two

All I need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!
Lucy, Peanuts (Charles M. Schulz)

With Valentine's Day coming up, you might be looking for a special dessert to prepare for you and your loved one. A chocolate fondant is a perfect dessert to complete a romantic dinner for two. So boys, listen up! If you really want to show your lady how much you care for her, go the extra mile and surprise her with this decadent dessert. I guarantee it will melt her heart (but I would encourage you to practise making this at least once before the special day).

These puddings are just cooked enough to form an outer crust, and inside the pudding is warm, luxurious chocolate goodness... all gooey and oozey.. Mmmmm...

This recipe comes from Gordon Ramsay and can be prepared ahead of time - simply keep it in the fridge and put it in the oven when you're ready. Although Mr Ramsay is not my favourite celebrity chef, I must say that this is an excellent recipe. I think this is also a recipe that one could be creative with and come up with some interesting variations. For example, you could add a splash of liquer such as Baileys, or maybe some orange zest.

50 g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
2 tsp cocoa powder
50 g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/3 c caster sugar
1/3 c plain flour
To serve - icing sugar, vanilla ice cream and strawberries (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.
2. Butter 2 dariol moulds/ramekins (I used 100ml capacity dariol moulds) and then place in fridge for 5 minutes. Remove then butter a second time, this time using a pastry brush and brushing upwards and outwards. Dust liberally with cocoa powder and shake out any excess.
3. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl set over a pan of hot water, then take off the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
4. Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg, whole egg and sugar until pale and thick, then incorporate the chocolate mixture.
5. Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in.
6. Divide the mixture between the ramekins/moulds leaving a 1cm space at the top for the mixture to rise. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a crust forms on top of the fondant.

7. Turn the fondants out onto plates and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and a few berries.

  • If you can't find dariol moulds, use ramekins instead. Ramekins are available in a variety of sizes, but I think 100ml (as I used) makes a perfect size.
  • This recipe makes enough to fill two 150 ml moulds/ramekins if you wish, but be sure to cook for a little longer in this case - about 12 minutes.
Enjoy :)

Ladybird x

Thursday 28 January 2010

Badde Manors, Glebe

Every now and then you go to a restaurant or a cafe with high hopes and expectations. I had heard about Badde Manors and I had also heard that it was a vegetarian eatery. Being a vegetarian in Sydney, I was enthusiastic to try it out. However, it was with a fair amount of trepidation that Mr Ladybird and I approached Badde Manors on Monday evening. You see, we've had some bad experiences at vegetarian establishments. But this time I was positive to walk in with a good mindframe - I was optimistic (and hungry).

Mr Ladybird and I walk through the door and exchange the kind of glances that couples share that are almost a language in their own right. Mr Ladybird's face says, "Are you sure you wanna eat here?". Mine says "We should give it a chance..." The reason for our hesitation is the d écor, it is quite dilapidated and I see paint peeling off the walls. I turn a blind eye and we take a seat and start to peruse the menu.

I feel my blood pressure rising.... The menu is a mish mash of dishes - italian, mexican, western - you name it, it's there, but it's all very confusing and I see no direction. I take a big breath and tell myself not to be too harsh and to be open-minded. The waitress also shows us the Specials board. We place our orders and not too long after our dishes arrive.

I have the Eggplant Schnitzel with irish mash, mushroom sauce and vegetables ($15). I am a bit taken back by the presentation..but I won't go into that. The schnitzel is crispy on the outside, and the eggplant tastes nice. The mushroom sauce adds some good flavour to the dish. As I am an Irish-born Australian, I got very excited about the irish mash when I ordered, but alas it is nothing like the scrumptious Colcannon I'm expecting. What is irish about this mash, I don't know... The vegetables are not good, they are great big chunks of boiled vegetables.. I am getting flashbacks of school camp dinners.

My Ladybird has the Mediterranean Platter - three falafels on bed of rocket, served with home-made hummus, cucumber, tomato, fetta, roast eggplant and olives ($14.50). I can't help but wonder what is mediterranean about the platter (?). It is all served with a generous basket of turkish bread.

The platter's felafels impress Mr Ladybird and he tells me the felafels are the best he's had in his life! At once I demand to try some and they are indeed good - crispy on the outside and very flavoursome. He does say, however "What's up with this slab of fetta?!"

I really wanted to enjoy Badde Manors, but I left feeling a little sad. As a vegetarian it is always disappointing to visit a vegetarian eatery and feel let down. I also feel that such establishments perpeuate the stereotype of vegetarian food being hippy-ish and only so-so. It doesn't have to be. Vegetarian cuisine can be as sophisticated and exquisite as 'non-veg' food. There is incredible variety out there - I have seen it in places like India, Singapore and the UK. If only Australian restaurants/cafes would get with the program... and it is my hope that Sydney (being such a great place to eat generally) takes on the challenge- sooner rather than later. I think Australian diners are open-minded and adventurous enough to give something new a go - and if the food is good enough, the fact that there is no meat on the plate should be incidental. Good food is good food.

Badde Manors seems to be a place that people like to go and quietly read or write over a coffee and piece of cake or a quick meal, but I don't think I would go here for a dinner as such. Nor would I bring a non-vegetarian here. But in the spirit of keeping optimistic and giving second chances, I would not rule out trying their breakfast one day. We'll see...

Badde Manors
37 Glebe Point Rd
Glebe NSW 2037
Ph: (02) 9660 3797

Ladybird  x

Badde Manors on Urbanspoon

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Australia Day Cupcakes

There is no doubt that the lamington is an Australian icon. Among other things, the beloved 'lamo' is an favourite food item on Australia Day. So how can a classic be improved upon?.. Turn it into a cupcake of course!

Here is my original Australia Day Cupcake recipe...

Cupcakes (makes 8)
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
1 tbsp hot water
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and put 8 liners in a muffin/cupcake tray.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour with the second egg.
3. Mix in flour and water until just combined - don't overmix.
4. Divide the mixture among the 8 cupcake liners and cook for around 12-15 minutes, but keep an eye on them. Cupcakes should be golden and springy, do a skewer test to check they are cooked.
5. Remove from oven and allow to sit 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, start preparing the Chocolate Dipping Sauce to coat the cupcakes. Here is what you'll need:
150g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp milk
dessicated coconut

1. Combine icing sugar and cocoa powder (no need to sift).
2. With a fork, gradually mix in water and milk until the sauce reaches a smooth consistency.
3. Pour a generous amount of coconut onto a large plate ready for coating the cupcakes.

Now for the fun part - Coating and decorating!
1. Peel the paper liners away from the cupcakes and set the cupcakes aside for dipping and coating.
2. Coat the cupcakes in the chocolate sauce using forks to help you turn them. Allow excess sauce to run off.

3. Transfer cupcake to plate of coconut and turn to coat using clean forks. Carefully set aside.
4. Repeat process for remaining cupcakes, then top with whipped cream and glace cherries.

The spongy cake soaked up the chocolate sauce beautifully, keeping the cupcakes delectably moist. I was delighted with how these turned out, and Mr Ladybird enjoyed them too, proudly declaring that henceforth I should make these cupcakes every Australia Day!

 So tell me readers, do you have any special Australia Day recipes? I'd love to hear about them :)

Happy Australia Day!

Ladybird x

Sunday 24 January 2010

Cherry & Cream Cheese Strudel

There is something about desserts using morello cherries that makes me go weak at the knees - although slightly sour, when combined with a few simple ingredients they are little superstars! I bought a jar of morello cherries during the week and thought it was the perfect opportunity to use a recipe I had bookmarked online a little while ago.

This Hungarian recipe combines morello cherries, cream cheese, ricotta, flaky pastry and crunchy toasted almonds... delicious!

I was unable to find large sheets of filo pastry like the ones used in the video, so I used a smaller square size. Because of this, I had enough cheese filling and cherries for two strudel rolls.

The recipe and instructional video can be found here. If you are thinking of trying this recipe out, here are a few tips:
  • I used 3 level tablespoons of caster sugar as I felt the cheese mixture needed it in order to balance the sourness of the cherries.
  • This recipe calls for clarified butter (or 'ghee'). You can make this yourself easily- just melt the butter and let the white sediment settle. The clear yellow liquid is the clarified part, so just dip your pastry brush into this and use as required.
  • This strudel is best made close to serving time to ensure the pastry remains crispy - over time it will absorb the moisture of the cherry and cheese mixture.
Along with a dollop of double cream, this strudel is an excellent choice for a special morning/afternoon tea at home. May you go weak at the knees over cherries!

Enjoy :)

Ladybird x

Saturday 23 January 2010

High Tea at The Loft (and a Giveaway!)

This afternoon I had the pleasure of experiencing my first high tea! A while back I asked Sharon (of Wee Love Baking) would she be keen to go for high tea somewhere and she suggested we try out The Loft at the King Street Wharf.

It had a great ambience and it was great to enjoy something slightly old-world in a modern day setting. Rather than having the usual sort of high tea, Sharon and I opted for the high tea with a twist. For $45 this included a tea infused cocktail, savouries and sweets, as well as our choice of tea or coffee.

After some much needed cold water, we started with our cocktails. As it was such a hot day today, we couldn't wait to get our hands on them! I chose the Strawberry Pash - Vodka and creme de fraise shaken with homemade apple puree, basil, strawberries and T2's "Mardi Gras". Sharon had the Sencha Quince Fizz - Lilet shaken with a hint of vanilla, fresh passionfruit pulp, pink grapefruit and T2's "Sencha Quince" tea. Both were tasty and refreshing, and we loved the unusual flavour combinations.

 Strawberry Pash & Sencha Quince Fizz

We were seated quite close to the bar, so we had a great view of all of the beautiful cocktails being created.

This bevy of beautiful beverages was prepared for a group of ladies at The Loft for a hen's afternoon tea...

Turkish Delight - Plymouth gin and a touch of Tuaca shaken with homemade rubharb puree, pear cheek, fresh lemon and chilled T2 "Turkish Apple" tea
Soon after our high tea stand arrived - 3 plates of  yummy goodies! It included sandwiches (vego ones for me - hurrah!), mini leek and guyrere quiches, scones, brownies, mini pavlovas and lemon meringue tarts.

Before moving onto our sweets we order our teas - 'Strawberries and Cream' for Sharon and 'Blue Mountain' for me.

While neither of us are big pavlova fans we thoroughly enjoyed the mini pav - it was not too sweet and was just delicious. The brownie was fudgy and chocolatey dotted with lovely walnuts.

 The lemon meringue was gorgeous.. what more can I say?!

And of course the scones... the litmus test of a good afternoon tea. These were freshly baked and still warm inside (joy!).

So, overall? Great food and drinks, good service and a wonderful ambience.. The Loft was a great place to catch up with a friend and I thoroughly enjoyed my first high tea -can't wait to do it again soon!

The Loft
3 Lime St
King St Wharf, Sydney
ph (02) 9299 4770

To celebrate my first high tea, I am giving away two of these adorable necklaces with tiny teacup and teaspoon pendants.
To enter all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me about your best high tea experience in 50 words or less. The competition is open to Australian residents only (sorry!) and closes on January 31st - good luck!

Ladybird x

Congratulations to Lorraine and Kristy - you are the two lucky giveaway winners!

Monday 18 January 2010

Awkward Food Blogging Moments

Or is there?

This is a slightly unusual post as it's not about food - it's about food blogging and my first uncomfortable experiences as a food blogger. Now, to give you some background, I have not been food blogging that long. It has been less than 6 months, but it has been an absolute pleasure. I have learnt a lot, seen a lot and have met some truly wonderful people. However, my experiences over the weekend have left me feeling, well... a bit 'icky'.

Over the weekend I visted two stores in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I will not name names because this is not a name and shame exercise. Dear readers, I am seeking your advice. So here is what happened...

On Saturday I visit a produce store. It is my first visit and I am impressed. Luckily I have my camera with me in the car, so I bring it in and start to take some snaps of the amazing produce and deli section. I order a cheese from the deli that I have been searching for forever, and I start chatting with the lovely man serving me, who is only to happy to answer my questions about different types of cheeses. I take another picture or so, then look up to see a cranky face looking right at me.. I am assuming she is the owner. "Madam, may I ask why you're taking photos?!" she enquires looking rather alarmed. "Oh", I say, rather taken aback.."I have a food blog and I wanted to share with my readers where people can get this type of cheese because it's hard to find in Sydney". "Right", she replies unenthusiastically and walks away. After she says this, I feel like I've done something terribly wrong. I pay for my cheese and leave, and I question whether I need to ask permission to take photos each and every place I go.

On Sunday I visit the second store as I have done several times before but this time I am equipped with my big camera hanging around my neck and my shopping basket in my hand. The produce is looking great and there is a special buzz in the air because it's a weekend. Given my experience the day before, I approach what appears to be the store manager and politely explain that I am a food blogger, and ask would she mind if I take a couple of pictures. "Um no, sorry", she replies as she walks away. Again, I am left feeling a little uncomfortable and embarassed.

I am puzzled. I understand that business owners are protective of their business. However, what I don't understand is why they do not see it as a wonderful opportunity to promote their business through online media - for free I might add... Food blogging is of course more than this, but I'm trying to look at it from a business owner's prespective. So, I guess in summary this is what I am having trouble getting my head around...
  • Am I wrong to feel as though I have done something bad?
  • Is it that they assume I will write something negative when in reality I would have had only positive things to say (apart from the abovementioned negative experiences)?
  • Is it that they think someone will copy something from their store? If so, surely any such intellectual property could be "stolen" simply by walking in as a member of the public and making a mental note of it.

Now, I must say I have never had such experiences in cafes/restaurants. But after the weekend I feel so awkward about the prospect of taking photos at the next place (store, restaurant or other)! And if I feel awkward, then that will probably impede on my enjoyment, let alone the likelihood of my blogging about it.

So tell me, my dear fellow food bloggers.. has this ever happened to you? How do you get around it? I would appreciate your advice :)

Ladybird x

Saturday 16 January 2010

Passionfruit Melting Moments

There are some fruits that are quintessentially summery, and passionfruit is definitely one of them. I saw some beautiful passionfruit in a fruit and veg shop this morning, and thought I'd try making some passionfuit melting moments. The idea came from seeing a fellow blogger's entry a little while back.

So, here is my recipe for easy and failproof passionfruit melting moments. The smell of fresh cookies and the heavenly scent of passionfruit makes these hard to resist. You bite through the crumbly cookie and taste the buttery and slight zingy flavour of the passionfruit filling as it oozes out inbetween- superb!

Melting moment biscuits
125 g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 c icing sugar
1 c plain flour
1/6 c cornflour

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius and line a large tray with baking paper.
2. Sift plain flour and cornflour and set aside.
3. Cream butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
4. Slowly add sifted flours to butter mixture. Beat on slow speed until a soft dough forms and just combined.

5. Roll small, heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on tray.

6. Slightly flatten with the heel of your palm, or with a flat object.

7. Gently press fork down onto biscuits to flatten a little further.

8. Bake for 15 mins. Biscuits should be pale in colour and slightly golden on the bottom.

9. Remove from oven and allow to sit on tray for 5 mins. Then transfer to wire rack to cool.

Passionfruit butter filling
60 g unsalted butter
3/4 c icing sugar
few teaspoons passionfruit pulp

1. Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Stir though pulp one teaspoon at a time until the filling is a good consistency. Adding it gradually is the best way to avoid letting it become too runny.
3. Stick biscuits together with a small amount of filling between each.

The above recipes should make around 12 complete melting moments. Store them straight away in an airtight container, and enjoy!

Ladybird x

Friday 15 January 2010

Eating out (at home)

There's no disputing the fact that a home-cooked meal is a lovely one. But a home-cooked meal made by others in your home is even better! You can sit back and relax with your glass of wine with the comfort of knowing you don't have to drive anywhere (or handle a knife), and give only the occasional direction on where to find something or how to get something working. And if someone else is cooking, you will usually end up eating something you wouldn't normally make yourself.. so in a way it's like eating out in the comfort of your own home!

Mr Ladybird and I had the pleasure of such an experience recently when my brother and his girlfriend visited Sydney. They treated us to a delicious home cooked meal of Pumpkin, Sage and Ricotta Lasagne, followed by Maple Syrup Roast Peaches with Coconut Crumble.

The lasagne was simple and delicious, and it made me think how well the flavours of pumpkin and sage complement each other. Note to self - must add sage to balcony herb garden!

To get the recipe, click here.

My brother's girlfriend, Amber, whipped up these succulent peaches with a crunchy coconut topping in no time. Such a talented little lady...

To check out the recipe for this easy and yummy summer dessert, click here.

And we enjoyed it all with a wonderful Printhie 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Orange. I would highly recommend this wine... It also turns out that Amber is from Orange, so that was a nice coincidence :)

On a side note, I want to let you all know that Amber will at long last be starting her own blog soon, called My Button Cake. Stay tuned...

Ladybird x

Saturday 9 January 2010

Les Amis, Brisbane

This morning I headed for the Fortitude Valley in Brisbane to catch up with my good friends Andrew and Anthony at a french cafe and restaurant called Les Amis. Meaning 'the friends', I thought it was a very appropriate venue :) It is always so great to catch up with them, and what better a way to catch up than over good food and coffee first thing in the morning!

Andrew ordered the French toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup ($10.50) and devoured every tasty morsel in no time.

Anthony had the Sweetcorn and potato hashcakes with wilted spinach and poached eggs ($12.50). He enjoyed it, but remarked that the cakes, although delicious and not oily, could have been a little crisper on the outside.

For me - the Pancakes with cherry compote and vanilla mascarpone ($12.50). They were good pancakes, but I felt that a little maple syrup could have helped as the cherries were quite tart and the mascarpone was unsweetened.

The coffee was excellent, so I asked a waiter what sort it was and I was delighted to hear it was Campos. I didn't know Campos had arrived in Brisbane so that was a nice surprise. We had 2 rounds of coffee - there was a lot of chatting and catching up to be done!

So, all in all a lovely breakfast at Les Amis avec mes amis!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Ladybird x

Les Amis
Shop 1, Green Square North Tower 515 St. Paul’s Terrace
Fortitude Valley Q 4006
(07) 3852 6100
Related Posts with Thumbnails