Dessert


Creme brulee is that irresistible combination of crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, and of soft vanilla accents amidst the bite of burnt sugar. It’s a dessert so simple and yet, so, so decadent. A whole little pot of cream, enriched with egg yolks and infused with vanilla, topped with caramelised sugar, for each person! Bliss!

There are many variations on this classic French dessert. Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut praline, Coffee Creme Brulee, Baileys Creme Brulee, Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Creme Brulee… You’ll find a selection of those creme brulee recipes at http://www.taste.com.au/. (Just type in creme brulee in the search option.) I used the first recipe on that page, featured in Delicious Magazine. My variations on the recipe: I used a grill to burn the sugar, and the old thing wasn’t quite hot enough to completely melt the sugar – but it still caramelised and had a good crunch to it. Also, I used vanilla paste instead of vanilla bean.

Enjoy! 

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Actually, affogato means ‘drowning’ in Italian, and if you want a dessert that will have you drowning (as well as melting) with pleasure, this is the one for you. It’s quite possibly the easiest dessert to make ever, and one that does not sacrifice an iota of elegance in spite of its quick-n-easy-ness. If you’ve not come across one, affogato is simply a scoop of vanilla ice cream served with a shot of hot espresso poured over. What you end up with is soft, melting, sweetness in a pool of hot, hard-edged coffee. If you’re like me you’ll spoon that into your mouth with a distant look in your eyes… I serve affogato with a little (or a lot) of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) poured in with the espresso, thereby lifting it from merely delectable to positively decadent. Enjoy!

    

Affogato

This easy recipe has no hard and fast rules. What I give here is merely a guide. You or your guests may prefer more or less ice cream or coffee…or liqueur!

Ingredients

Good vanilla ice cream (I make and use Jamie Oliver’s semifreddo)

Espresso shots or plunger coffee, unsweetened

Whipped cream, optional

Method:

Serve each person 1 scoop of ice cream (and dollop of whipped cream)  with 50-100ml hot coffee poured over

Add a tablespoon of liqueur if you like, or more!

 

 When I saw this recipe on epicurious.com, I knew I had to try making it. So this morning, after a week of waiting for my bananas to over-ripen, I was ready to make them. They were worth the wait, because these pancakes are the fluffiest, lightest and most delicious I’ve ever tasted. And then there’s the melting, sweet banana pieces and crunchy macadamia nuts…. These were so good that I ate them standing up, by the stove as I cooked. And ate so many that it’s now almost 4pm and lunch is still the furthest thing on my mind.

Just a couple of caveats – if you’re a fan of pretty, perfectly round and perfectly browned pancakes, this isn’t the pancake for you. The chunky banana and macadamia pieces will not allow the batter to make a perfect circle, nor will they allow the surface of the pancakes to brown evenly. If you sliced the bananas really thin, and chopped the macadamia nuts, you’ll probably make a prettier pancake. (But seriously, do we eat pancakes just because they’re pretty? No? I didn’t think so.)

The other thing about this pancake is that it’s a little trickier to make than the usual pancake. There is sugar in the batter, so it will tend to catch and brown in patches, and the pancakes will be a little more difficult to flip because of that. Just grease your pan really well and be patient because I promise you it will be worth it.

The original recipe calls for orange butter to serve with these pancakes. I didn’t have any oranges, so I served mine with thick, Greek yoghurt and blueberries, and drizzled honey over. The tart yoghurt and blueberries were perfect with the sweet fluffiness of the pancakes. Enjoy.

Banana and Macadamia Pancakes

 

BBQ Man did something rather extraordinary last week. He organised a social event. He’d gotten to know Fidelis through cricket, and Connie through work…and then on Facebook (honestly, where would we be without Facebook?) he realised that they were both married…to each other! So he invited them to dinner and rather adorably (sorry BBQ Man, but it was) said he’d do the BBQ thing AND he would make potato salad. In other words, this was his way of telling me that he would cook dinner. (See? Adorable, right?)

So last night, I had the pleasure of not cooking dinner (I only made the Jamaican jerk chicken marinade from scratch, ie grated nutmeg, juiced and zested lemons, pulled thyme leaves off their stems to mix with 2-3 other spices, and then marinated the chicken, prepped corn, mushrooms and capsicum for the BBQ, set out the sausages for the BBQ and organised a couple of things to nibble on). AND I had the even greater pleasure of meeting Fidelis, Connie and Jemimah. All at once there were smiles all around, happy conversation and laughter, which just increased in volume as the evening wore on. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much!! Needless to say, we had a fantastic time and can’t wait to catch up with them again.

BBQ Man, true to his word, made one of his all-time favourite dishes, potato salad. I created this version of potato salad for him, and it’s just about the only thing he’s learned to cook from me, in all the time we’ve been together. It combines all his favourite foods and he’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All it is is potatoes, bacon, mayonnaise and boiled eggs. If I can get beer in there somehow, he would expire from sheer joy. As it is, whenever I tell him I’m making potato salad, he retreats from his usual chatty self and turns into this tightly wound husk of humanity, anticipation oozing from every pore.

 

 

Anyway – BBQ Man bbqed jerk chicken, 2 kinds of really good sausages and 3 kinds of veggies to absolute perfection. And his potato salad was a hit. Fidelis made dessert and I must say, I loved everything about it. So simple yet soooo pretty and absolutely delish! Sweet and crunchy rice bubbles coated in dark chocolate, and white chocolate with coconut and flecks of bright red glace cherries. Served in red and white paper cups (love love loved them!), arrayed on a lovely white platter. Swoon.

 Thanks for spending the evening with us, Fidi, Con and Jemimah!

 

Meet Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. It’s rather ironic that it’s an old fashioned cake, because this recipe thrills the food geek in me. I was drawn to it mainly because it’s one of her food processor cake recipes. All the ingredients go into the food processor, gets processed and voila, the batter is ready. See? Nothing old-fashioned about that, is there? Plus, it’s easy as to make! But I’ve made it again and again since then not so much because it’s easy, but because I love how this chocolate cake tastes.  Love.it. Chocolatey and not-too-sweet. It’s officially my favourite chocolate cake.

The other thing that the food geek in me loves about this recipe is this : I was given some lovely digital scales for Christmas, and it makes making this cake even more of…a piece of cake! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!) Now, all I need do is to place the bowl of my food processor on my scales, tare it (ie press ‘zero’), and then measure out each ingredient straight into the food processor bowl, hitting ‘zero’ before I add the next ingredient. No messing around with mixing bowls and spoons! Just have fun pressing buttons! I should re-name it the Hi-Tech Choc Cake.

Weigh + Spin

Pour + Bake

Eat!

Here’s the link to the recipe for the cake. http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/1637/oldfashioned-chocolate-cake Most of the instructions are about how to make the icing. Which looks luscious, I have to admit, but I’ve not attempted to make it because it kind of takes away from the quick-n-easy-ness that I like about this recipe. In fact, I iced the cake with Betty Crocker’s Vanilla Icing, because I’d bought some for a kids craft project and there was just enough leftover. And, true to my casual (disrespectful) attitude to recipes, I ignored the instructions to use 2 x 20cm cake tins, and bunged the lot into a 23cm tin.

Enjoy!

Licorice ice cream is either deeply loved or equally reviled. I don’t think there are any fence sitters on this. I’m not a fan of licorice, and while I like ice cream, I could take it or leave it. Having said that, I actually quite like licorice ice cream. Licorice’s aniseed tang tempered by sweet, creamy ice cream-it’s actually an awesome combination. It’s one of my Dad’s GPs (Grand Passion), and also, my Yakky Sister-In-Law’s. I used to make licorice semifreddo for them, and then I discovered a much easier way of making it. Yakky SIL wants to make it tonight, so this is for you, sis, with all my love. x

Easy Licorice Ice Cream

You will need 2L vanilla ice cream, 200-300g soft eating licorice (I used 270g, which was the entire contents of the pack that I had. It made very strong flavoured licorice ice cream) and a food processor.

 Grab a pack of licorice, put 200-300g in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak overnight, or until…

The licorice loses its jet blackness and becomes quite soft

 

Drain well. By this stage you will need to have your ice cream softened, either by microwaving for about a minute on high, or leaving the ice cream out to defrost for about 20-30 mins

Put the licorice and ice cream into a food processor 

 

Process until well combined, with no large licorice chunks left. 

Freeze the ice cream and serve once it’s frozen-after about 6 hours or overnight. Enjoy!!

I remember going on banana benders as a kid. I LOVED bananas. I still like them now, but when I was little, they were an obsession. I used to eat them ever sooooo slowly and savour them. And go back for more. I remember quite vividly, the day my Mum came home from work to find that the bunch of bananas she had bought just the day before, decimated. ‘You are allowed ONE banana a day, Joanne’. Yep. I was put on banana rations. I don’t can’t remember if I stuck to the one-banana-a-day rule, but I don’t think I ever ate a whole bunch in one day again.

Bananas are a little pricey right now, thanks to Cyclone Yasi, which wiped out entire banana plantations in northern Queensland. I figured that making banana bread would be a good way to make a banana last. But I didn’t want to make an ordinary banana bread. I wanted one that was a little special. I trawled the net for a recipe and my goodness, there must be thousands of banana bread recipes out there! I also did a little research on the difference between banana bread and banana cake – the cake has a little more fat and sugar in it, but they are more or less the same thing. Once you slather the butter on the banana bread, the difference will be negligible. It occurs to me now that I’m glad it’s called banana ‘bread’, because then I have a perfectly good reason to butter it. Yum!

      

    

Banana and Raspberry Bread

2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 large overripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup milk

1 large egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Method:

Heat oven to 180C
 
Grease and flour a loaf pan (or a heart-shaped pan like mine!)
 
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, mix well. Make a well in center; set aside.
 
Combine bananas, milk, egg, and vanilla; fold in raspberries
 
Pour batter into center of dry ingredients; fold together until combined. Do not overmix
 
Pour batter into pan; bake 1 hour or until your cake tester/skewer inserted in the center comes out clean
 
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
 
Remove from pan; cool completely
Serve warm with plenty of butter!
 
 

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