Friday, 26 August 2011

orange butter brussels sprouts, sugared pecan crumble

Brussels sprouts. Some think they are the work of the devil. Others sing their praises to high heaven. Me? I don't mind them at all, and can, in fact, be quite fond of them when they are done right. I often cook my Brussels sprouts in a broth over medium-low heat until they're tender and infused with flavours - I find that this keeps them from turning bitter, and brings out their gentler side.

I made these orangey, buttery, nutty Brussels sprouts as a side for lunch recently, and while I don't regard it as my best work, the dish definitely passed the I-can-easily-eat-it-all test, so I am fairly content. Simon liked it even more - he ardently pronounced it delicious. Our enthusiasm for the same dish can often vary, and hey, I certainly do not complain when he's more keen on my dishes than I am - it can be a nice boost for the ego, and serves as a nice reminder that taste is a personal thing.

Without further ado, here's the recipe!

brussels sprouts dressed up with orange butter and sugared pecan crumble

orange butter brussels sprouts with sugared pecan crumble

200g Brussels sprouts
1 small orange
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water or vegetable stock
salt and black pepper, to taste

Halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts lengthwise, depending on their size.
Zest and juice the orange.
In a pan, lightly toast the pecans until fragrant. Grind together with sugar and half of the orange zest with a mortar and pestle until it takes on a coarse sandy appearance. Set aside.
In a saucepan, gently fry Brussels sprouts in butter for 1 minute, turning and tossing them around. Add in orange juice (approximately 1/4 cup), the remaining orange zest, and water or vegetable stock. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until just tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with zesty sugared pecan crumble.

orange butter brussels sprouts with sugared pecan crumble

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Monday, 22 August 2011

story in a cup, south yarra

Winter is finally leaving us. A few more days, and it will be springtime... I look forward to everything being a little bit greener, a little bit brighter. I also anticipate a spike in the quantity of the frozen treats I consume.

I recently visited Story in a Cup (Shop 4, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra), a frozen yoghurt cafe I've been meaning to visit ever since I spied it a few months ago on Urbanspoon with positive reviews.

a generous selection of potential yoghurt toppings at Story in a Cup.

It may be the liberal self-serve mix-and-match concept with a vibrant selection of ingredients, it may be the warm and friendly staff who work there, it may be the knowledge that a percentage of the profits is donated to a cause. But whatever it is, I left feeling good and, with the weather getting warmer, I can see myself coming back for more - particularly as they also do smoothies and hot waffles!

Story in a Cup rotate their yoghurt flavours on a regular basis and I tried all six they had available that day - Original, Mango, Strawberry, French Cookies and Cream, Cafe Mocha and Hazelnut. Being 98% fat-free, they do lack the rich creamy taste that I adore, but they were still pleasant to eat - light, mildly sweet and tangy. I probably liked the strawberry flavour the best, but you might have to ask me again after I've been there a few more times.

What made everything really fun, though, is that I got to create my very own story in a cup. So not only did I opt for a squeeze of all the six yoghurt flavours, churning them out myself slurpee-style, I also darted around scooping up different (and perhaps rather random) toppings to go with them - peanuts, passionfruit coulis, raspberries, boysenberries, honey almond granola and Reese's peanut butter cups.

The end result is then weighed and priced. The story I created in my cup came to $7.15, and it proved to be a satiating late-afternoon snack. I experimented with each bite and while some of my combinations were not quite perfect, most worked out well. I particularly enjoyed the passionfruit coulis paired with the original and fruity yoghurt flavours.

my story in a cup!

I visited Story in a Cup about half an hour before closing time, and chose to eat in. It was fairly quiet, with some stray customers occasionally wandering in, of which a few were clearly regulars. An appreciative shout out to staff member Sandy, who struck up a nice conversation with me and provided some great company while I ate my yoghurt dessert!

Story In A Cup on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

passionfruit and honey ice cubes

honey and passionfruit ice cube.

Just a quick one today... passionfruit and honey ice cubes!

Spoon some passionfruit pulp into ice cube trays, let it freeze until semi-firm, then top up with a generously sweet water-and-honey solution.

Easy to make, pretty to look at, and with its refreshing blend of sweet and tart, I even have them just on their own as an icy snack!

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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

blackstrap molasses panna cotta, ginger syrup, salted peanut crumble

There are three components to this dessert.

Normally, that's two components too many for me.

But I had this idea and I wanted to try it... so here we are.

You will be pleased to know, however, that all three components are super easy to create, and the assembling takes only seconds. It also looks reasonably fancy for something that doesn't require a lot of effort or technique, and delicious enough that I've got my friend asking for the recipe, and craving panna cotta for the rest of the evening. Is this a win? Oh yes, I do believe so.

blackstrap molasses panna cotta with ginger syrup and salted peanut crumble

blackstrap molasses panna cotta with ginger syrup and salted peanut crumble 
(serves 4)

blackstrap molasses panna cotta

300ml cream (10oz)
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatine powder
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons hot water

In a bowl, sprinkle gelatine powder into cold water and whisk well. Let it stand for 6 minutes. Slowly add freshly boiled hot water, stirring until all granules are dissolved. Add blackstrap molasses into the mixture and stir until all dissolved.

In a saucepan, cook the cream over medium-low heat until warmed through, stirring constantly and taking care not to let it boil, then add in the liquid blackstrap molasses and gelatine mixture. Continue stirring until well-combined.

Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. Pour into small dariole moulds if you have them (I didn't, so I improvised with teacups instead!) and refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm. Some of the blackstrap molasses will sink and create thin, dark layer - this is perfectly normal, and creates a cool visual effect!

ginger syrup

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raw sugar
5cm (2 inches) ginger, thinly sliced

To make ginger syrup, combine water and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add sugar, stir till dissolved, and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside until ready to use.

salted peanut crumble

3 tablespoons peanuts
1/2 tablespoon raw sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Lightly toast peanuts in a pan until golden brown and fragrant.
With a mortar and pestle, grind peanuts, sugar and salt until the peanuts break down into small crumbly bits. Keep in an airtight container until ready to use.

To assemble:


To extract panna cotta, briefly sit the moulds in some warm water to loosen it up, and, if necessary, run a knife inside the edges of the panna cotta before turning it onto a serving plate. Spoon over ginger syrup and salted peanut crumble.

blackstrap molasses panna cotta, ginger syrup, salted peanut crumble

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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

lemonade fruit

a lemonade fruit.

I like a good old-fashioned lemonade. You know, the one you make at home with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar, water, ice and lots of love - it's definitely one of life's simple pleasures. So when I spied lemonade fruits - apparently a cross between a lemon and a mandarin - at Ripe Organics in Prahran Market last Friday, I was quite intrigued.

"Are they sour like lemon?" I asked the store assistant.
"No, they taste like lemonade! You can eat them just like that." He says cheerily.

Sold.

Once I got home, I sliced up my lemonade like an orange and tasted it. And it does taste like lemonade. Yes, that familiar hint of lemony acidity is there, but it's gentle on the tastebuds, and comes with a little wave of sweetness that goes down easily. I can just imagine how refreshing they would be juiced and served icy-cold.

Lemonades have a short season in Australia - so if you're interested, keep an eye out for them, get in quick, and share your experiences with me...

sliced lemonade... sweet, sour, juicy.

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