Monday, December 22, 2008

Rice Pudding

I heard that this isn't the way a lot of people eat their rice pudding, it really isn't that sweet, most of the good stuff is placed on top rather then integrated but this is the rice pudding I grew up with. I adore this.

Ingredients: Pudding
1/3 cup of long grained rice per person, rinsed in water until water runs clear

Pinch of Salt
Whole Milk

Ingredients: Topping

Salted butter (around 1 Tbs per serving)

Cinnamon and sugar (as much as people want)

1. Place rice in a saucepan and cover with milk (you want around 1/2 inch over the top of the rice).
2. Bring to a boil.
3. Add salt to taste (not a lot as the butter is salted)

4. Turn down the burner and let it simmer until rice is cooked. You must keep stirring it as it will burn to the bottom of the pan. Also to keep the moisture content up you will need to add more milk during the cooking process to make sure that it doesn't burn. The consistency of the final product is smooth, no graininess, and pretty thick.

5. Melt the butter until brown (you want a hazelnut smelling butter - slightly brown).
6. Place the rice on a plate and squish it down with the back of a spoon.
7. Pour the butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. There you go rice pudding the way I like it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

World Peace Cookies - Dorie to the Rescue Again

These are yet another Dorie Greenspan cookie. They are wonderful, they have no eggs in them, they are chocolaty and they have a secrete ingredient that makes them even better. Salt. Specifically Fleur de sel. It adds a slight grittyness (much like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a weird way), and an amzing uplift to the cookie that is really tasty. The reviews I recieved were all positive for these babies so although they aren't pretty cookies they're seriously tasty cookies. Tasty far outweighs pretty in my book!

Bah Humbug and Stollen

I guess I grew up differently, because at around this time of the year I start to go insane. I think it's the music, the constant repetitive cheerful voices, the people telling me (very happily I might add) about how great it is to have snow (and well, yeah I have to agree there having had xmas in Australia in summer for the majority of my life), and about the virtues of Santa. Anyway, despite my bah humbug ways I decided to make Stollen with two buds from baking class, Sarah and Jamie. It was quite an undertaking and it taught us to read recipes before we decide to make them. This is specifically in relation to yeast and time.

Yeast takes it's sweet time eating starches and suagrs and so it needs a little time to burp. The recipe we used had a starter dough, as well as other rises, and benching proceedures so it took a while. There are plenty of recipes out there, we decided to use one recipe to make three mini stollen, which I think worked out nicely. The ingredients were another matter, specifically the candied fruits required. I went to a few places and found it difficult to get fruit that well...looked something like fruit (what cherries are green??) Eventually I found some (citron is green!) and we used that and a combo of candied citrus peel, golden raisins all soaked in rum for an hour or so.
I grew up on stollen.

We had a European xmas in Australia with the celebration and present opening all done on the 24th. Nanna would sometimes make stollen or buy it, I remember the only part I ate was when she would make/buy the type with marzipan. I would rip out the marzipan and scoff it down while I would casually hide the remnants of the stollen in my hand until I could find the grabage bin and shove it in. Needless to say the stollen I made had a massive amount of marzipan (almond paste) in it and it worked out pretty well.

Stollen pairs brilliantly well with a warm drink (coffee, cider, tea etc) as it is by nature a fairly dry yeasted bread. But, if you like xmas, enjoy baking, want to do a fruit cake type of baked good, I'd give stollen a go.

PS. Sarah and Jamie! I erased the picts of all our stollens after they were made - I'm sorry!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fig, Roasted Hazelnuts, Fennel Seed and Rosemary Bread

Wow, it's pretty jam packed. This bread is a 'quick bread' meaning it doesn't require a starter dough made the night before. However, I did start it around 9 am and finished it at around 2pm... so I guess quick bread isn't really the right name for it. However, it was worth it.

It is half whole wheat, half white bread flour, so it is already nutty without the addition of the hazelnuts. The fennel certainly gave it a anise kick, and the rosemary added some more oomph. The figs were sweet and contributed a lot to the crust color. A tasty bread, good with cheeses as well as with butter.

Taken from the Jeffrey Hamelman book "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes". An amazing bread book.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coffe Cake - Asia Pear and Rosemary Crumble

I started to peel the pears and noticed they were soft - no biggy right? I can put them in something and baked them and all will be well. Then I cut them in half and they were seriously brown. So out they went. I panicked, this was a dessert for someone who was coming over to have dinner with us. I really didn't have much at home to use in the way of fruit (which I adore using). But on the weekend I had bought a couple of Asian Pears (Nashi Pears for the Aussies).

A while ago I went out with a friend and fellow baker Jamie to a place downtown called 'Taste'. It's attached to the art gallery SAM (Seattle Art Museum) We just wanted dessert, and they actually had some great desserts. One of them was a pie with an Asian Pear filling. It was pretty delicious. The pears kept their shape, and they had an unusually flavor, it was served with a side of cinnamon ice cream that complimented the pie nicely.
Having being inspired (and admittedly desperate) I peeled, sliced and used the Asian pears. However they weren't the most flavorsome choice pears, and they weren't particularly moist, so I added rosemary and some pear liquor and well it worked. It had an interesting flavor mostly due to the addition of the rosemary - it was nearly savory. I think a cinnamon ice-cream or even a apple cider sorbet would have worked well with this one. Maybe next time I'll try that?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Choc Chip Cookies

Something simple and quick is what I've been craving to make. Nothing fancy and complex. These are just simply choc chip (bitter sweet choc was used) with a bit of vanilla extract, some walnuts and a whole heap of butter. Another wonderful Dorie Greenspan recipe. I have to admit I love Dorie. Her recipes are simple, straight forward. However they aren't simple in their taste. They often have an adventurous side to them for instance incorporating unusual spices. And, the best part is, her recipes usually work and taste amazing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Future of Food

It isn't usual that I go on about any political issues that may be occurring in the world. But the more I read, the more I visit the local farmers markets and the more I see out in the world the more concerned I am with what we consume, how things are grown, how distant we are from what we do consume and from those who grow it. 

A few months ago Michael Pollan (the author of 'The Omnivores Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food") wrote an amazing article in the New York Times magazine entitled "Farmer In Chief" (you can view the full article here: 

It's an article that kinda makes you sit up and pay attention to what's happening around you. America has some amazing land, that can grow a huge variety of crops, raise plenty of animals, it's just that as a consumer not everyone cares about that. We want what we want, now. Full stop. I want to make a chocolate raspberry tart in the middle of Winter - sure why not we can get berries from Chili. 

I'm worried that we are growing so far away from our food that our children may never have the opportunity to know how it was raised, where it came from or even what season it is tastiest in. 

Try the farmers markets, they are amazing and incredibly inspiring. Write to your government demand that they have a secretary of agriculture who supports local and sustainable agriculture (, ask that foods that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO"s) are labelled. 

Food is so important and so amazingly diverse we need to look after the people growing the food as well as those buying it, namely ourselves. 

Squirrels and other Edibles

The last rotation at school was breads. It was mostly us, the first quarter getting things ready for the next day (weighing various amounts of flour, salt and fresh yeast most of the time). However, some days we did some quirky things. Like these. Squirrels? Weird yes, kinda weirdly cool - I think so. We have a book at school that basically details how to mold bread dough into various forms - masks, wheat stalks, rabbits, chickens, snakes, crocodiles, teddy bears and yes squirrels.

This guy was my favorite - it looks like he just fattened himself up on some tasty acorns.
Next quarter we have to figure out some topping for foccacia that we'll sell down at the bakery at school - does anyone have any suggestions? We've done a lot of toppings that are pizza like ie. feta, olive, capsicum and tomato. But I was wondering if anyone had a topping that they really enjoyed on a pizza or a foccacia that we may try and use next quarter when we make the topping descions (2nd quarters tell the 1st quarters what to put on top). Sweet idea's would be great as well, we had one that was thinely sliced apples, a oatmeal, brown sugar and butter crumble and then some caramel on top as well. That one looked pretty amazing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Veg mini cakes

I love to sneak a vegetable into a sweet treat. I guess it's the deceptive part of me; attempting to make something that usually isn't (or at least shouldn't) be healthy into something that is well, a tad more healthy.

These had an array of veg in them, namely: carrots, parsnip and zucchini, with an apple thrown in as well. It was published in a magazine I got from the local super market called 'Edible Seattle'. I liked the title I have to admit as I like to think that there are amazing places in Seattle to eat, and buy great produce. Unfortunately, there were only a few recipes in the mag, and this was one. Originally it was meant to be a sort of flat cake, one with which you would spread the cake on the bottom, ice it and then cut it into cubes. I decided to make mini cakes, using cup cake containers and then took off the bases. The main reason I removed the cup cake bases was that the cake is extremely oily, and so it soaked right through the cup cake paper.

These were nice, and as mentioned previously I do love hidden veg so it gets bonus marks for that.

Chard, Blue Cheese and Apple Galette

I was talking to a friend and fellow baker Sarah during the week and she was telling me about her rotation on doughs. She said that the only pastry she ever bought (that she made) was a galette with chard, onions, balsamic, apple and blue cheese. I thought I'd give it a burl at home. It was a magnificent combo. The crust is a simple one - I just got lazy. Originally I was going to make some snazzy yeasty thing, but then I couldn't be bothered and so I made a crust without yeast, made some fancy crusts. I then simply washed, chopped and sauteed some gorgeous chard with some red onion, added a ton of balsamic vinegar. I placed thinly slice granny smith apples on the base, placed the chard on top, then the blue cheese. Finally I put on some pine nuts, and then baked it until the crust was a smidge brown. That's it, so simple, and so very tasty!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Earlier this year Josh and I went to New York. It was here that I first tried a pignoli (which is the plural of pignolo meaning pine nut). I remember going into this Italian bakery and looking at a wall of cookies, most of which I hadn't encountered before. I decided to try the one's that appeared most foreign - the pignoli was amongst these. They are delicious, soft and chewy, weirdly dense although the texture is light (I think it's because when you bite into a pignoli the air escapes and you create a dense texture due to the sugar and egg whites mashing together). I love the pine nuts, they add a meaty note to the whole thing pretty tasty all round, and really easy to make. Another egg white left over recipe.

For the full recipe see:
I love these!

Snow Men and the art of piping

I have absolutely no skills in piping, seriously. I have a bit of a shake, and I get nervous at the idea of something being permanently attached to something. But I decided to try and make some of my left over pate sucree into snow men - simple one's without too much glitter and glam.
The easy part was rolling and cutting (although I'd like to have made them closer to 4mm rather than 7mm so they would have gotten a little more firm quicker). When it came to decorating I was stumped having never decorated xmas biscuits except with my nanna and opa (these consisted of a basic white icing with a smidge of lemon, and sprinkles on top - which are delicious, just not, well I guess 'elegant' for lack of a better word). So I started researching what to put on the biscuits, I could so colored sprinkles, colored icing, I could add candy, do some serious piping decorations... I just got lazy and made some royal icing and piped on a scarf, some buttons and a hat.

I really need to work on my piping skills.


This is an Australian treat (or New Zealand treat depending on who you beleive although of course I always was brought up to believe it was Aussie) named after the ballerina Anna Pavlova.
A Pavlova is basically a giant merangue (although you can make small versions that won't take as long to bake) that has a firm outside and a almost soufflee like interiour. I don't know what makes it this way - I've had merangues that are firm all the way through with very little differentiation in the texture (read firm, hard, often on the verge of being brittle), but the good ol' pav (pavlova) has this incredably supple texture.
The idea is that you have this egg white base, and then you pile in freshly whipped cream and fruit. The pav's that I grew up looking at I never really like. They were filled with strawberries, maybe raspberries and passionfruit all pilled on top to resemble something that one regurgitates rather then ingests.
For the pav here, I simple used whipped cream with a touch of vanilla and sugar, a raspberry coulis (simply frozen raspberries from summer simmered with sugar and a smidge of lemon juice and strained through a sieve) with some kiwi fruit and persimmons on the side. It worked out pretty well - I'm looking forward to trying this one in Summer with beautiful fresh berries.
For the recipe I used see Smittenkitchens blog: