Tuesday 24 December 2013

Panettone French Toast with Cherry Compote and Brandied Mascarpone

One last post before I sign off for Christmas and New Year!

This is my own recipe for very festive and very decadent french toast. To me, this is Christmas on a plate because it combines so many of the ingredients and flavours associated with this time of year. Italian Christmas bread, cherries, cinnamon, orange, brandy... all my favourite Christmas flavours! It is rich, but if you can't have this at this time of year, when can you have it?! This recipe works a treat with stale panettone, so if you find yourself with panettone leftovers after Christmas, you'll know just how to transform them into something really special :)

For this dish, I believe the key is to getting the compote right. The compote needs acidity to cut through the sweetness of the other components, so make sure you taste it. How much sugar you need will depend on how sweet/tart the cherries are so taste as you go, and add sugar as required.

Panettone French Toast with Cherry Compote and Brandied Mascarpone
an original Diary of a Ladybird recipe
(serves 2)

4 pieces Panettone (I cut a 1.5cm round of my panettone by cutting it horizontally then cut into 4)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.5 cups pitted cherries
caster sugar, to taste (see method)
lemon juice

125g mascarpone
1 tablespoon icing sugar, plus extra to serve
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons brandy
maple syrup (optional)

1. In a wide shallow dish, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Add the panettone to the mixture and let sit for about 10 minutes to absorb the liquid. Turn once midway. Meanwhile, make the compote and mascarpone.

8 pieces pictured as recipe doubled in this instance
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cherries with 1 tablespoon water, a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of caster sugar, adding more if desired. Simmer covered and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
3. Combine the mascarpone, zest, icing sugar and brandy in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat with a little olive oil and a nob of butter. Take the panettone pieces from the dish removing any excess liquid, then cook in the pan on both sides, cooking until golden.
5. To serve, place 2 pieces of panettone on each plate, topped with the cherry compote and a dollop of mascarpone, followed by a dusting of icing sugar and maple syrup if desired.

Buon appetito and merry Christmas! See you in 2014! :)

Anna xx

Monday 23 December 2013

Cranberry, White Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies

Christmas is here! My shopping is done, and so is my wrapping! Just a bit more work to do in the kitchen and I'll be all set. I am looking forward to spending some relaxing time with my family, and am especially looking forward to lots of cuddles with my little Emperor and our new family addition, Little A. The Emperor knows a bit more about Santa this year, and I can't wait to see his face as he opens his gifts on Christmas morning.

Most years I make gingerbread as it tastes great and makes a nice gift. However, as much as I love gingerbread, I don't love making it in 30-something degree heat with high humidity! The dough is difficult to work, and you have to refrigerate the dough a number of times in order to keep your cookies in shape.

These cookies are a great Christmas alternative. The fact that they are so quick an easy too is a bonus. Here is the recipe so you can leave some out for Santa before you go to bed on Christmas eve ;)

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies
an adapted recipe from 'The Sweet Life' by Kate Bracks

125g butter, at room temperature, chopped
150g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 egg
260g self-raising flour
80g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
50g macadamias, roughly chopped
50g dried cranberries (craisins)

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celcius. Grease two large baking trays and line with baking paper.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale. Add the egg and beat until well combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Sift the flour into the bowl and mix until just combined.
3. Add the chocolate, macadamias and cranberries to the mixture and mix it through.
4. Gather the dough together and roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place onto the prepared trays, allowing space for spreading.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden (12 minutes will make them slightly softer, 15 minutes will give you crispier cookies). Leave on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The dough (before it is cooked) can be rolled into balls and frozen for up to 3 months.

Tell me, dear readers, how are your final Christmas preparations going?

Anna x

Saturday 14 December 2013

Plum Cafe, Kenmore

I can't believe it's been exactly a year now that the Ladybird family has been back in Brisbane. A lot has happened this year, and Christmas is just around the corner. Things are just so busy these days, it's hard to get quality time with Mr Ladybird. Dinner dates are impossible, but brunch dates are much more feasible and so we schedule them in whenever we can and really look forward to them.

I am delighted to be posting about brunch at Plum in Kenmore, because it's one of my favourites. Located in Brisbane's western suburbs, Plum has built a name for itself since its opening. It is run by the very dedicated and experienced Lance and Christine Zhou, who took Plum over seven years ago.  Plum is always pretty busy, but weekend breakfasts are especially busy, and with good reason too. The food is excellent, as is the coffee and service.

The breakfast menu is diverse, with eight cooked breakfast options, as well as a number of lighter options including house-made muffins (sweet and savoury). It is also worth mentioning that Plum is also a deli with a wide range of gourmet pantry items, which also serve to whet the appetite when you are dining there alongside them!

But back to the breakfast... Mr Ladybird and I headed to Plum on Wednesday morning and started with coffees, which start at $3.60. A good coffee always sets the tone for breakfast, and these hit the mark. While sipping on our coffee I spotted a fellow patron starting on his house-made granola made with strawberries and yoghurt. It looked so good, I instantly felt order envy!

It wasn't long at all though before our own orders arrived. For me, the Mushrooms ($17.90)
oven roasted garlic and herbed mushrooms, sauteed spinach, cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese with a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil and ciabatta toast. The mushrooms were just delicious, and that goat's cheese.. heaven!

For Mr Ladybird, the Vegetarian Breakfast ($19.90) poached eggs (substituted for scrambled in this instance), haloumi, mushrooms, roasted tomato, avocado, rosti and pesto & fresh spinach. This was one generous and delicious breakfast feast, so much so that Mr Ladybird needed a little help with the haloumi. No twisting of arm required, I was happy to assist! The rosti was excellent - I just love it when you get a proper rosti and not something out of a freezer packet, because there is simply no comparison.

With the most important meal of the day complete, Mr Ladybird and I set about our busy days. And I must say, with such generous portion sizes, this breakfast kept us going for hours! Nothing beats a good coffee and breakfast to set you up for the day. Despite prices being a little on the high side, I would say that Plum offer the best breakfast I have had here in Brisbane, so if you are looking for a place to eat in the western suburbs, Plum is worth checking out.

Ladybird & Mr Ladybird dined courtesy of Plum Cafe.

Plum Cafe
Shop 17, 841 Moggill Rd, Kenmore
Ph: (07) 3378 5422

Plum Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Cockadoodle Cafe & Espresso Bar, Red Hill

Located at the start of Enoggera Terrace a few doors down from Botanica, you will find a quirky and cheerful looking establishment called Cockadoodle Cafe and Espresso Bar. In the area to collect some takeaway salads and with grumbling stomachs, my friend and I decided to stop in with little A in tow for an impromptu brunch.

Finding a nice shady table was easy enough for what is normally a busy time for such cafes on weekends, and pram access was also good. Although we didn't need one, we were offered a high chair which was nice, so I think this is a child friendly venue.

The feel of this place is quite laid-back and I loved the splashes of red in the tableware and d├ęcor.. my favourite colour! :)

With an all-day breakfast menu boasting 15 items, plus breakfast specials, there really is something for everyone here. First up though we ordered coffees. They were nice and strong, but a little on the bitter side unfortunately. Next time I think I'll order something from the extensive list of nice teas on offer.

Onto the food... I opted for the Haloumi & Mushrooms on Sourdough ($15.80), while my dining partner opted for the French Toast with Berry Compote and maple syrup (15.80). The French Toast was lovely, although would have been better had it been left to soak up more of the mixture before being put in the pan. The accompanying compote was delicious and not too sweet.

I really enjoyed my mushrooms and haloumi. The flavour was great and the splash of quality balsamic vinegar to finish the dish was perfect.

All in all a nice spot for a weekend breakfast!

Cockadoodle Cafe & Espresso Bar
5 Enogerra Terrace, Red Hill
Ph: (07) 3369 0610 Cockadoodle Cafe & Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday 7 December 2013

Satvik Foods & a Giveaway!

A little while back, I was fortunate enough to receive this lovely bundle of products to road test by Australian company Satvik Foods.

I am usually a little sceptical when it comes to 'readymade' foods, as I worry about the ingredients and processing, but the Satvik Foods range is a little different. These packets of goodness are pretty straightforward - no nasties, no unpronouncables, no numbers.. just real ingredients. Lentils, quinoa, Ayurvedic spice blends, and salt.

On days when you are short on time and just want to get the food on the table, readymade mixes like these are a Godsend. Preparation of a healthy and delicious meal is made so simple with these mixes - there is no soaking required and they are fool proof! You can follow the packet instructions, or get a little creative and add extra ingredients.

I am in love with the dhal and spice range, in particular, 'Mystic Masala'. For this one, all you have to do is heat a little oil, add the mix, then add chopped tomato, coconut milk and water. Then a short time later you have delicious comforting dhal ready! I love the addition of nigella seeds to the spice blend, it tastes so good. I added a little extra salt, a good squeeze of lemon and fresh coriander (not pictured) and honestly, without any exaggeration, it was the best dhal I have tasted in a longgg time!

The Satvik Foods range is available in many health stores, and online through the Satvik Foods website. But, without further ado, here is the best part...


To WIN a $30 pack of Satvik Foods, all you have to do is leave a brief comment on this post saying why you would like to try this product range.

This giveaway is open only to Australian residents, and closes on Monday, December 16th at 5pm AEST. Please be sure to enter your name and email address in the comment form to submit a valid entry.

*** This competition has now closed. Congratulations to Sue! ***

Good luck! xx

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