I've been on a bit of a baking hiatus over the last few weeks. My thesis was due on the 26th and so I needed to cut out all forms of procrastination. Even so, I still ended up pulling two consecutive all-nighters in the days before it was due, spending every waking moment sitting in front of my computer typing like a mad woman. It was an absolute relief to get that done.
Now that my Masters degree is over, it leaves me with a lot more free time. Not a concept I am yet used to, but I am sure I will soon acquire a taste for it.
The thesis deadline left me with a day to fulfil the Daring Bakers Challenge, so I eagerly set about baking it. My sleep deprivation and general lack of looking after my health for the two weeks prior quickly caught up with me and I fell sick soon after baking this and so I am posting this late. But this dessert was so good it will be worth the wait.
Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!
Have you ever baked home-made puff pastry?
This week is the final installment of the Cook Book Challenge taken from this mini-series (because I am a genius and did #10 weeks ago). Next week we shall return to your regularly-sized version.
Gary Mehigan is another well-known Melbourne chef. He was well known before becoming a judge on MasterChef, but since has become a household name. He began his cheffing career in London before moving to Melbourne and opening a plethora of award-winning restaurants. This book is named after, and full of, my favourite types of eats: comfort food. It's particularly comforting during this cooler part of the year. Choosing a recipe was almost impossible.
Winter, or any time, warmers…
Here's for some more Father's Day bakerage. I spent dinner on Father's Day with my dad, but for lunch we spent it over at my boyfriend's place with his dad and immediate family.
Occasions with his family are often a food-centred affair, but particularly so if it's a celebration. If we go out for the meal, there's usually more food and hot drinks waiting to be consumed at home. If it's all home cooked food, you can be sure that there's going to be more food than you could dream of finishing, and then some. All of it is as delicious as it is plentiful and you will find yourself lamenting the appetite required to try it all. Or at least I do. The boys usually find a way to squeeze most, if not all, of it in. Us girls can seldom match their appetite, but we all still insist on making an enormous amount of food.
When we're dining at his place, I seldom bring things along mainly because there's so much already. I'm often caught somewhere in between feeling like I should contribute, and being too self-conscious about doing so. For this occasion, I decided to bring something. Knowing there would be an abundance of food already, I settled for something small.
After a delicious lunch, there definitely was an abundance of dessert. His sister-in-law brought a delicious ginger cake she'd baked, and his mum provided a hummingbird cake as well as platters of different biscuits, nuts, chocolates and other sweets. In between these two courses, we all had this vanilla cheesecake slice:
Care for a slice?
This month's Daring Bakers Challenge filled me with excitement the second it was posted. Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pâté à choux shapes, filled with crème pâtissiére or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!
For me, there was no choice other than swans. I have been wanting to make these for a while but never found the excuse. What a perfect excuse this was.
“But calm, white calm, was born into a swan…”
Maggie Beer is one of my all time favourite cooks. Not only are her recipes intelligent, perfectly balanced wonders of deliciousness — she also has the most infectious personality. I still remember watching the Twitter feed exploding with adoration when she appeared on MasterChef for the first time. She's impossible not to fall in love with.
So are her cook books.
While her recipes are intelligent, they are also accessible to most everyone. Some require a bit more skill or practise than the next, but they're not recipes you'll feel too intimidated by to try. Her chatty style of writing talks you through the complicated steps and explains why you are doing what you are doing.
There were so many recipes in this book I wanted to try, but I simply couldn't go past the Olive Tart. Not just because I have an obsessive love for puff pastry…
Pastry, om nom nom…
In an attempt to evict the old second fridge/freezer to save both money and power, I undertook the feat of condensing two freezer-loads worth of food into one. My Tetris skills, whilst impressive given the final result, were not so good that there were not casualties. I had a large, space eating bag of frozen prawns that were deemed to big to fit anywhere, so the just had to be eaten. As if that's a shame. Given than this months’s challenge on is seafood, I decided to revisit on old favourite.
I cooked this dish with salmon for the very first week of my cook book challenge, so I thought I'd try it with my favourite seafood.
Recipe and photo spam…
There were so many middle eastern desserts I was wanting to try for Bakebakebake’s challenge this month, so I resolved to do two and then choose which to enter. In the end I only found time for this first one: baklava.
I have to admit to not being a huge fan of baklava. I find often they are soggy masses of sugar-dripping pastry that I don’t find as appealing as everyone else seems to. Then once I had baklava in a scroll form. I loved it. I’m not sure why it made such a difference.
So I decided that when I made it, I was going to try my hand at the scroll.
Time to unravel the scroll…
Wow. It did not take me long to fall off the band wagon with this one. Lately, finding time to cook anything that isn't 2-minute noodles is an achievement within itself.
But here's one to fire this challenge up again. This one comes from Mary-Lou Arnold’s “The All Occasion Chicken Cookbook”.
A move from the sweet and to the savory: though you probably won't be surprised to hear that it involves pastry.
I mean, how many times have you heard me say I love pastry?
Cause I do!
My dad has a penchant for op-shopping. Perhaps too much so. He’s often picking up recipe books for me (almost always cake ones) that I can barely fit in my kitchen. What results is that, more often then not, I flick through them when he gives them to me, like the look of a few things and never remember to come back to it.
So, I’m setting myself a challenge. Once a week, from here until goodness knows when, I will cook a recipe from every cook book I have until I have made it through my entire collection. I will endeavour to cook something I have never cooked before, or something I thought was too hard to try, or one of those recipes that I fell in love with but then forgot. I will then blog my result, good, bad or ugly.
This week, I thought I’d start off with one of the largest cook books I have:
The Practical Encyclopedia of Potato and Rice