16.4.14

Crostoli for Easter

I've seen this recipe appear on re-runs of the Food Safari Italy several times, and after each repeat, I am left bewildered and itching to make it. I think every culture has a version of their own fried dessert or sweet treats, and the Chinese are no exception, but I really wanted to try out an Italian version of course!

Crostoli are traditionally eaten at times of celebration, and what better time to eat it than Easter (if you celebrate it), especially for those that are breaking their fast for Lent. But seriously, it's so easy to make, perhaps just make it whenever you feel the need for a crispy sweet treat.
The Crostoli dough my friends is exactly like what Maeve O'Meara on Food Safari says... it SMELLS HEAVENLY. Citrus, fragrant, even Christmassy if you will, this is so easy to make and I actually find it really therapeutic churning the fragrant dough through the pasta maker multiple times to get to that beautiful silky thin state.



See the recipe after the jump!

13.4.14

Cozy Knits & Coffee



Knit jumper / ASOS (also in Pink and Navy)
Bag / Zara
Skirt / Witchery (here in grey or black)
Booties / Country Road (old, but loving these here)





We shot these photos a couple weekends ago and the weather has literally been wavering around the same grey feeling, it was really hard to try crack a smile! Anyways, it has certainly been the type of weather to be bundled up in wool, boots and loading up with lotsa coffee. I've definitely needed the coffee boosts this week with entertaining the parentals, keeping up with a speedy Thursday morning supporting a friend at Mercedes Benz Australia Fashion Week (meeting favourite beauty gurus along the way), watching the Outdoor opera; Madama Butterfly and then it was a particular trying week at the office.
This weekend just been was filled with a lot of pottering around at home, mainly in part with myself feeling a bit poorly and run down, but I did manage to start cracking on researching Greece and tried out a few recipes. We're going to have more kiwi visitors this week (exciting!) and then we're only A WEEK AWAY FROM going TO AIRLIE BEACH....HOOOOLLLA!!!
I'm hoping to post up a couple more foodie posts this week, so watch this space :)
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6.4.14

The Creme de la Creme of Mushroom Soups

I grew up on my 2 favourite vegetable soups; Potato and Leek and Cream of Mushroom...right out of a Campbell's can!  I don't really recall my Mum making any Anglo/European soups when I was growing up... a close one would perhaps be a Oxtail Tomatoey type soup. That is delicious, and I'm going to work my way to achieving that one soon. But in the meantime, I thought I might try my hand at making Mushroom soup from scratch, and boy did this Jamie Oliver recipe deliver! I don't think I need to try any other Mushroom Soup recipes, because this one was the shizzle!
Here is the lowdown of how I made it, and then also topped it with my own little bacony crunchy sprinkle  :)

The Creme de la Creme of Mushroom Soups Recipe

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients
Mushroom Soup
  • 600gm mix of mushrooms, chopped (the ratio I used was Portobello 450gm, 150gm Oyster & 150gm Swiss brown mushrooms)
  • 1 small handful of Dried Porcini Mushrooms 
  • 1 small Red Onion, peeled, and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs of fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 litre of hot Chicken (or Vegetable) Stock liquid
  • Olive oil
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of Creme Fraiche (or Marscapone if you prefer)
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning
Crunchy Bacon Sprinkle
  • Fresh Breadcrumbs
  • A couple of Strippy Slices of Bacon, finely sliced (omit this or replace with small carrot pieces, if you want to keep it strictly vego)
  • A small bunch of Curly Parsley, chopped 
  • Salt & Pepper for seasoning
Equipment required - Stick Blender, Large Saucepan/Pot and a Frying pan

Makes approx. 1 litre

Steps:
Mushroom Soup
  1. Place the dry Porcini mushrooms in a bowl and fill 1/4 of the bowl with boiled water. Leave aside to soak.
  2. Using a large saucepan / large pot, place on high heat, add a splash of olive oil and and saute the chopped mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add the Garlic, Onion, Thyme leaves and a small amount of seasoning to the mushrooms, and saute together.
  4. Reserving the Porcini liquid, take half of the Porcini mushrooms and chop them up while leaving the remainder whole. Once your mushrooms in the pot are beginning to sweat, add your porcini mushrooms.
  5. Strain the reserved Porcini liquid to get rid of any potential grit that was left in the bowl and add this to the pot. Mix the mushroom mixture through and let fry away until all the liquid is gone from the pot (around 20 minutes).
  6. After most of the liquid is gone, season to taste and then add your hot stock. Turn down the heat and let simmer for another 20 minutes.
  7. Ladle out half of the soup mixture into a large bowl or jug, and using your stick blender, blend this mixture until pureed.
  8. Add the puree back into the pot of the remainder mushroom soup, mix in your creme fraiche and season to taste again
  9. Serve your mushroom soup in medium sized bowls, with a dollop of creme fraiche and a good sprinkling of crunchy bacon crumbs.
Crunchy Bacon Sprinkle

  1. In a separate frying pan, place on high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil
  2. Add the bacon and dry until turning crispy. 
  3. Add the fresh breadcrumbs and chopped parsley and stir fry until the breadcrumb starts to turn golden in colour and the whole mixture is dry
  4. Place in a bowl and let this cool.  Serve over Soup or over a Pasta meal for some added texture!
  5. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


Now that our nights aren't going to be filled with golden light after work, with daylight savings having taken effect, running home to a warm bowlful of soup and crusty bread sounds like a great idea to me!
If you have some soup leftover you can turn it into a great pasta sauce! Heat up the leftover soup in a small saucepan, mix in a bit of Creme Fraiche and Parsley. Throw in some sliced mushrooms and a sprinkle of dried thyme if you have some on hand, when the sauce has reduced to creamy again and the mushrooms are cooked (perhaps after 5-10 minutes), spoon it over some some good cooked pasta (fresh or pre-made), then toss the sauce through and chow down!



There's 15 days until we are off to Airlie Beach for a bit of a group trip away and I can't wait. I'm committed to exercising everyday until then, even if its just for 25 minutes, lets see if I can actually see that through?
It's also Australia Fashion Week this week and I'm off to see a good friend's show on Thursday. I love feeling the buzz around fashion week, the street style fashion, and the wonderful shows. I. Can. Not. Wait!
If I'm not active in posting this week it'll be because I'm in fashion la la land, as well entertaining Jase's Mum & Dad who are currently in town :)
Catch me on Instagram or Twitter if you want to interact, chat or follow along with what I get up to!
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2.4.14

Chocolate Lava Cakes with Salted Caramel Goo

In the past, I would always over bake Lava cakes, resulting in a mini chocolate cake that was moist, but with no lovely surprise lava flow. By inserting a salted caramel centre however, you can be sure that the centre will remain gooey and silky, while the liquid cake mixture bakes around it, forming the perfect moist cake casing.
There's not too many ingredients in this recipe and the prep isn't too hard. But have a watchful eye over the baking time and you will have the most perfect chocolatey caramel dessert!

Chocolate Lava Cakes with Salted Caramel Goo Recipe

(adapted from the wonderful Rachel Khoo's recipe, from her "The Little Paris Kitchen" book)

Ingredients:
Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 80ml Double Cream
  • 1/3 Cup White Caster (Superfine) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel salt (or normal table salt can work)
Chocolate cake mix
  • 80gm (or 1/3 cup) Dark Chocolate (at least 65% cocoa content, I used Callebaut dark chocolate chips)
  • 80gm (or 1/3 cup) Butter, cubed
  • 80gm (or 1/3 cup) Light Brown Sugar
  • 40gm Plain Flour
  • 3x Eggs, beaten 
  • Butter & Cocoa for coating the inside of your ramekins
Steps:
  1. Butter up the insides of 2 or 4 ramekins and then coat with a nice layer of fine cocoa (I had used 2 large ramekins. The chocolate cake batter makes 350ml of batter, you can gauge how big your ramekins need to be based on this!
  2. To make your caramel, place your white sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Slowly heat up the sugar and once some of the crystals start caramelizing, swirl your saucepan around until all white sugar crystals start to form an amber liquid (do not use any utensils to stir the hot caramel).
  3. Once the caramel starts to turn a coca cola colour, pour in your double cream and whisk quickly (watch out for splatters!). Turn off the heat and whisk in the salt. Set your caramel in the fridge until ready to use later.
  4. Using the bain marie method (or microwave on low heat), melt your chocolate and butter together until liquid, let this mixture cool.
  5. Combine your Sugar and flour together. 
  6. Whisk the beaten eggs into your melted chocolate mixture, (ensuring a constant whisk so your eggs don't start to cook, in case your chocolate mixture is not quite cool), and then pour and whisk this combined liquid into your sugar and flour.
  7. Pour equal portions of the chocolate cake batter into each prepared ramekin.
  8. Time to plop a small dollop of salted caramel into the middle of the chocolate cake mixture! The double cream I used resulted in my caramel hardening up in the fridge, so I ended up just plopping in a small thumb sized blob into the chocolate cake batter. If your caramel doesn't harden up, then use a piping bag, fill it with your caramel then pipe a small dollop into the middle of your batter filled ramekin, ensuring you don't touch the bottom of your ramekin with your piping nozzle (your chocolate mixture will rise up in the ramekin as you pipe).
  9. Place the filled ramekins in the oven for 26-30 minutes, if your ramekins are smaller than mine, they may only need 15-20 minutes. Make sure you start checking the tops of your cakes in the last 5-10 minutes of your cooking time. 
  10. Once cakes are ready, take them out of the oven and leave in their ramekins for a few minutes. Your cakes should come away slightly from the edge of the ramekin. Turn them out onto your serving plates and wait for you and/or your friends to be wowed when you take your first spoonful!
  11. Serve alongside some vanilla icecream, or eat on its own!



Ensure that when you cook the cakes, the tops of your cakes  actually are cooked through (about 2cm deep from the top), while the chocolate & caramel centre remains gooey. If the tops of your cakes aren't cooked, then when you turn them out, the caramel will just completely ooze out... and then you'll miss out on being able to stab your cake with a spoon and watch the chocolatey salted caramel oozey action. :)

You could always make this dessert ahead of time, keep the ramekins wrapped in cling fim and then place them in the fridge until you're ready to serve. If you want to be SUPER prepared, make the lava cakes ahead of time, then pop them in the freezer. When ready to bake, place the frozen ramekins in the oven to bake, but add another 20 minutes on top of the normal baking time.

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