A Show-stopping PEAR!

“Pear & Almond Cake”

This dessert tastes as good as it looks and did I mention

“Gluten Free”

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Ive used Brown pears for this lovely cake. They have been simmered sill tender then the stem and seeds removed and pureed.

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Ive used a gorgeous stencil, and dusted the top of the cake with icing sugar. Giving a delicious cake a beautiful finish!

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It’s all Greek to me!

This is a traditional Greek bake that my mother made and of course a family favourite.

“Papoutsakia” – (translation) Little Shoes

Papoutsakia

If you have eaten the most well-known Greek dish called “Moussaka” a very rich and finger licking delicious fried eggplant bake then you will adore the flavours of “Papoutsakia”. This recipe is a little more delicate and lighter yet robust with the usual combination of a eggplant, tomato based bolognese sauce, bechamel and cheese.

Unlike the original Middle Eastern version which consists of fried eggplant slices topped with a spicy rich tomato sauce the whole eggplant is first simmered till soft in a large pot of water for about 15 minutes. The eggplants that I have used are called Striped Eggplant the size is just right per serve and they are longer in length rather than round and wide like the purple eggplants we see often in supermarkets and green grocers. As they are simmering away you will notice the beautiful purple and white stripes begin to change and the whole eggplant takes on a glorious bronze gold colour.

Drain the water and place the eggplant on a flat surface to cool down. Slice the eggplants in half and gently scoop out enough of the pulp to leave enough room for the mince sauce. (Careful not the break through to the outer skin). Dice the eggplant pulp and add it to the tomato sauce and mix well together. Divide the sauce between the hulled eggplants shells. Cover with the bechemel sauce and grate some parmesan cheese over the top.

Now we are ready to bake!

As all the ingredients are basically all ready cooked and with the assembly now complete its all a matter of allowing the oven to do its job at a moderate heat for approximately 25 minutes. Watch them turn from pale ensembles into golden delights!

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The meatless version of “Papoutsakia” is just as wonderful and can be eaten hot or cold. Both recipes are ideal for parties or as an entree, and can be prepared a day in advance before serving (in fact the flavours develop better a day later) just reheat just before serving.

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Enjoy.

Keeping up with the Kibbeh’s!

It’s no secret that I do love watching ALL those cooking shows!  I think Im a little if not alot addicted. Wait…………………………………that was a commercial for a NEW show, Melbourne Chef – Shane Delia, from Maha Restaurant      “Spice Journey” on SBS!  Sounds Great!

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To tell you the truth, I enjoy cooking Middle Eastern food and learning how to make many of these delicious specialty dishes has always tempted me. Kibbek are mouth-watering deep-fried meatballs stuffed with spiced lamb/beef, pine nuts, aromatic spices and fresh herb. Simply put they are delicious, and very easy to make.

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Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 Medium brown Onion, chopped

150g minced Lamb

150g minced Beef

1 cup Burghul (soaked in 1 cup of water till all water is absorbed)

season with salt and pepper

Filling

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 brown Onion, finely diced

2 Tbs Pine Nuts

1 Tbs Middle Eastern spice mix

2 Tbs Currants

100g Beef mince

1 Tbs Fresh Mint chopped

Method

  1.  To make the filling, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and pine nuts and currants cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add the spice mix and mince and cook, break up any lumps, for about 5 minutes or until mince is cooked. Transfer to a  bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Kibbeh dough, place the brown onion in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the beef and lamb mince season with salt and pepper. Process until the burghul comes together with the meat to form a smooth dough paste and comes together to form a ball. Divide into 15 equal portions.
  3. Using the palm of your hands press out 1 portion of mince dough (wet your hands a little to stop the dough from sticking). Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the centre of the disc. Bring the edges together to enclose the filling, and repeat with the remaining mince dough mixture and filling to make 15 kibbeh balls.
  4. Add enough oil to a medium saucepan to reach a depth of 5cm. Heat to 180°C over medium-high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Add half the kibbeh and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remaining kibbeh, reheating the oil between batches.
  5. Serve with a red onion, parsley and sumac salad. Top with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle with pine nuts to serve.

Notes

Freezing tip: Prepare this recipe to the end of step 3 up to 3 months ahead. Layer the kibbeh between sheets of non-stick baking paper in an airtight container. Label, date and freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Continue from step 4, 15 minutes before serving.

Original recipe was adapted from:
Source
Good Taste – November 2007
Recipe by Alison Roberts

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Shhhhhhh! An American Classic…………Bottomless.

“This bottomless fruit pie is simply indulgent”.

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Make life easy, bake and serve straight from the oven to the table. The beauty of this pie is that you can bake it in a fry pan or your favourite oven proof individual serving bowls, I have even baked it in colourful tea cups.  Yes its a little rustic and homely looking but thats its charm!

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“A lovely pastry thats easy to make, quick to bake”

The filling is entirely up to you, use your own poached fruit or use caned fruit it all works a treat. My personal favourite Apple & Rhubarb or Pear & Raspberry, oh let me not forget Peaches! Ok I think you understand me now when I say I love fruit but this pastry is a perfect marriage! Its become my favourite quick dessert and everyone always thinks I’ve been working on it for hours! “Lets keep that a secret”.  

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Pastry

Ingredients:

1 cup SelfRaising Flour

2 Tablespoons Icing-sugar

1 Tablespoon Custard Powder

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Zest of 1 Lime

100g Butter (cold and cubed)

1 Egg

1/4 cup Sour Cream                                                                                                                  *************************************************

4 cups of your favourite poached fruit ( discard extra liquid)                                                          *************************************************                                                                                                                 

1 Egg lightly whisked to brush pastry

1 Tablespoon Demerara or Raw sugar to sprinkle over pastry                                                             ************************************************

Double cream or Ice-cream to serve

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Method:

1: Place cold poached fruit into the baking dish (remove excess liquid only fill 3/4 of the pan)

2: Pre Heat Oven 180 Degrees

3: Process the flour, icing sugar, custard powder and butter till it resembles a course crumb. Add the egg, sour cream vanilla and zest and process until the dough almost comes together.

4: Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured surface and push together to form a round disk (don’t kneed). Cover with plastic and allow to rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.

5: Roll out the pastry slightly larger than the dish you are using. Place pastry over the fruit mixture. Its ok if the pastry overlaps the dish. Brush the pastry with the whisked egg and sprinkle over with the Demerara sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes till the pastry is golden and crisp. Allow to cool and serve with a light sprinkle of icing sugar.

6: Serve with Cream or Ice-cream………….Enjoy!      

I first saw this pastry published in The Australian Good Taste magazine and its been a favourite ever since. Yes, I have changed it a little but it never lets me down nor those that enjoy it.

*Just a note if you are rolling out the pastry and its a little soft place it back in the fridge for 5-10 minutes then continue again.   

 

What a TART!

Chocolate Tart with a hint of gold leaf
Chocolate Tart with a hint of gold leaf

There are a multitude of beautiful tarts being created everyday by equally amazing pastry chefs. I consider these real works of art. Sometimes to stunning to eat, well you pause take a deep breath admire the craftsmanship and the next thing you know you have just taken your first bite. Pure joy!

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The pastry is fine light and buttery, flaky with hints of chocolate, almond or hazelnut meal and a hint of sweetness as to compliment the finished product and not overpower it. Shortcrust pastry like the more delicate Pate brisee a delicate pastry perfect for savoury tarts. Then there is Pate sucree and Pate sablee both contain a higher amount of butter and sugar making this pastry even more delicate and giving you a wonderful melt in the mouth.

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The filling are equally divine, salted caramel delicious chocolate, nuts, fruit, curds and creme patissiere are only a drop in the ocean of the delights used to make perfect tarts in different shapes and forms. The smell is intoxicating and the individual elements are unique spellbinding so you can be forgiven for giving in to moments when you can’t hardly wait until they are cooked to enjoy one.

Chocolate Tart

Lemon Tart

Caramel Pecan Tart

If I have wet your creative baking appetite then look to buy a book like Pastry Savoury & Sweet by Michel Roux or Baking with Passion by Dan Lepard & Richard Whittington. Still not feeling completely confident take the bull by the horns and follow your passion enrol in a course at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School here in Melbourne student enrol from all corners of the earth.  www.savourschool.com.au  The pastry chefs Robyn and Paul will hold your hands while you amaze yourself and might I add enjoy the fruits or rather the tarts of your labour!

Ever since I moved to Melbourne I haven’t been able to find a good old fashion Custard Tart with a light sprinkling of nutmeg.

Recipe coming soon!