Nana Glen Mum

More Cakes December 29, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but between the end of the school year, Christmas and birthdays, I have been busy, busy, busy!

Here are some more cake photos::

These are actually from about July, forgot I had made them!  They were for a school dance with an underwater theme.  I got the idea from the Wilton site.

An Ipod Cake for a friend:

Sorry for the graininess and general bad quality of this next photo, but I had to take it on my phone and it was getting dark, plus I was holding back around 15 kids who were trying to get past me to dig in!!

This one is a Chiffon Cheesecake I made for my bff Ange’s birthday earlier this month.  It is wrapped in dark chocolate with the horses stencilled on in white chocolate, then topped with whipped cream and loads of fresh berries.  It was YUM!!!

This next one was for a really good friend’s daughter who will be off to Kindy next year with Miss M.  She wanted a cat cake.

And finally, this cake was for a gymnast.  The inside was a checkerboard design, but I’ll have to post pics later as they are on a friend’s camera.  The spots on the cake are rain drops:

And last but not least, a yule log made for my neighbour.  It was plain genoise cake, filled with chocolate buttercream and covered with a dark chocolate and jaffa (choc-orange) ganache.

 

The Daring Cooks November 2009 Challenge: Sushi! November 16, 2009

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax
Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.
Sushi (寿司 or 鮨 or 鮓) is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi
actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is
simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use left
overs.
Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was
invented in Japan in the 1800’s where a ‘hand-formed’ sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was
eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw
and cooked.

Although I have made sushi numerous times before, this was my first attempt at a decorative style.  It was great fun and much easier than I expected.  The first one was the Dragon Roll:

Dragon Roll

Dragon Roll

It is supposed to be covered in avocado, but I was unable to buy any, so I just sprinkled Nigella seeds on top instead.  the filling was cucumber and smoked salmon.

The second style we made was spiral sushi.  It has 6 different fillings.  I used inari, blanched carrot, cucumber, smoked salmon, red capsicum and fresh asparagus.  Finally, we had to have a go at the hand shaped nigiri.  These I had made before, not that you would guess by the dodgy shaping!!  You can get a printable copy of the recipe here.  Don’t be intimidated by how long it is, they are just detailed instructions, the actual process is surprisingly quick and easy.

Nigiri on the top, and spiral sushi below.

All in all, a delicious challenge as always.  Both daughters loved it and it made a lovely dinner for a mild spring evening, eaten out on the front verandah watching the sun set over the hills surrounding our little valley.  Aaaaaahhhh!

 

Daring Cooks August Challenge – Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish & Artichokes August 14, 2009

Hi everyone, well here I am with my second Daring Cooks Challenge.  This month Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes is our lovely hostess.  I urge you to please check out her yummy sites!  She has selected a Spanish dish for us – Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish & Artichokes by Chef José Andrés who has worked at the world famous El Bulli!  If you like the look of the recipe and want to see more of his work, you can check out the website of his US TV show Made in Spain, which has videos of his episodes.

I must say a personal “Thank You” to Olga for this recipe – it was an excellent dish for my family in more ways than one.  For starters, my six year old daughter Miss J is a self proclaimed vegetarian who refuses to eat meat.  After many lengthy philosophical discussions, we have finally convinced her to still eat seafood as she needs her Omega 3s.  She just doesn’t eat red meat, chicken or pork now.  (I must admit, it was quite a shock that she gave up both spaghetti bolognese and pepperoni pizza – 2 of her all time favourites!!)  In addition to her dietary “restrictions”, I am allergic to shellfish, so when it comes to preparing the family meals, I have to put in a bit more thought these days as I refuse to cook a separate meal for each person in the family.  I am a big believer that dinner is the most important time of the day and that we all sit and share the meal together as a family.  It also turned out that we were having a few friends (9) over for dinner at short notice, making a grand total of 6 adults and 7 kids to feed!  This dish was perfect…easy to cook for a crowd, tasty (even for fussy kids), suitable for myself and Miss J, and almost all of it could be prepared ahead of time.

At first glance, it looks like a fairly complex dish, but broken down into its components it is really quite straight forward. So, without further ado, here is the recipe for Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish & Artichoke.  I have added my comments and changes in this colour.

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available – I used artichoke hearts in a jar, but only half the quantity as the flavour can be very strong)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 glass of white wine (for the pot – 2 for you lol!!)
  • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh – I used squid)
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.  (I used Arborio)
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice) (I used home made vegetable stock as I couldn’t get fish bones being in a rural area)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional (this sauce actually MADE the dish – well worth the trouble of making!!!)

Directions:

  1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
  3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eighths.
  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into quarters.
  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and then add the artichokes mushrooms.
  6. Sauté until the artichokes are a golden colour.
  7. Put a touch of white wine in the pan (from the 1 cup in the ingredients – not from your glass – it’s hard work cooking for that many people!!) so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavourful dish.
  8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit (I added all of it) and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  11. Add some saffron threads to enrich the dish with its flavour and colour. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

Sofregit

(a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times have different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Ingredients for the Sofregit

Ingredients for the Sofregit

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)
Sofregit after ingredients have cooked down

Sofregit after ingredients have cooked down

Next time I make this, I will use tinned tomatoes if I don’t have any in the garden – I think they would  give better colour, texture and taste than bought tomatoes unless you can get REALLY good quality ones.Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

I made the traditional Aioli, and believe me, it was well worth the effort.  It was GORGEOUS and by far everyone’s favourite part of the dish.  It complimented the main part of the meal beautifully.

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
Ingredients:

Aioli Ingredients

Aioli Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  4. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
  7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  8. Add salt to taste.

José’s tips for modern recipe:
(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
(7) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

The Finished Dish!

The Finished Dish!

All in all, this recipe was a success from start to finish.  From being able to prepare all but the final stage before guests arrived, to the delicious flavour that suited various dietary requirements and people used to a variety of food styles.   A definate must cook again!

 

Daring Cooks July Challenge – Skate, traditional flavours powdered (slightly altered) July 13, 2009

I have just joined an online group at the Daring Kitchen called the Daring Cooks where each month they post a new recipe and everyone makes it, then publishes the results on their blog all on the same day.  Today, the 14th of the month is Reveal Day!!, so here it is…Skate with traditional flavours, powdered by Grant Achatz from his Alinea Cookbook (page 230).

Skate, traditional flavors powderedI think that one of their aims in the challenge is to extend your repetoire of both cooking and flavours.  This certainly did both!  I was really dubious when I first read the recipe as it sounded like alot of work, and some crazy ideas…like powdered sauces!!!  I thought it was going to be a really dry, bland dish that would be hard to eat, but boy was I wrong!!!!  It was FANTASTIC!

I had to make a few minor changes as some ingredients weren’t available (I live in a rural area).  I couldn’t get skate, so I had to opt for goodness only knows what it was from the supermarket fish counter, and they only had green bananas on my shopping day, so I had to substitute avocado instead.  Also, I added a few veggies from the garden to the side of the plate (I’m one of those mums that insists the children have vegetables every night).  It was a huge hit with the family.  The kids loved the novelty of brightly coloured powders on their plate that they could swirl around to make new patterns and flavours (yes I know, usually I would call it playing with food, but on this occasion, I told myself they were “exploring new horizons” lol!!)  I wasn’t sure how hubby would take it either as he can be a bit “traditional” in his tastes at times, but we must have spent the next hour discussing different flavour combinations that we thought would be great.  He also said it was definately a dish to be made for visitors!

I must apologise for the lack of photos in the construction phase, but I have had sick kids and hubby all week, and my shoulder has been playing up so I pretty much just wanted to get it done and dusted.

The beans under the fish were simply divine.  They were cooked in half water, half beurre monte which was reduced right down, resulting in a beautiful buttery coating that wasn’t the least bit greasy.

All in all, for my first attempt at Molecular Cuisine, I would say it was a resounding success.  I am definately going to make this again, but will travel to get decent fish that is worthy of such a magnificent recipe.  I also reckon fruit powders would be delicious served up with home made vanilla ice cream.  Might have to try that one out too!

Finally, I really must extend my thanks to Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen who hosted this month’s Challenge.  Please check out his blog and see what other delectable delights he has been up to!

 

Fishing Boat Cake July 11, 2009

Filed under: Cakes — nanaglenmum @ 3:12 am
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Tinnie Cake view 1My friend’s daughter turned 11 the other day and I offered to make her a cake.  It turns out she is saving up to buy herself a little fishing boat, so naturally, that is what the cake had to be! I made a 23cm square mud cake and covered it with Fluffy Frosting which has a lovely smooth and almost shiny finish – not matt like most icings.  I then made up some Piping Gel Tinnie Cake view 3from caster sugar, cornflour, lemon juice and water and dyed it with blue and green colourings for the water.  All the other decorations were made from fondant.  It ended up being a really easy cake to make and transport, and a quick dusting with silver lustre on the boat gave it a nice metallic effect.  Needless to say, she loved it!!Tinnie Cake view 2