Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tricky Tapas Treat!


Normally you get the main followed by dessert, but this time it's the other way round. As you know, from last weeks cheesecake post, it was my hubbie's birthday and I decided to cook up a Spanish inspired tapas selection.

I thought tapas was quite easy - slap a few slices of ham on the plate with a bowl of olives and voila (or rather...ya esta!) - but it was not quite that uninvolved.

The real trick is that lots seem to happen at the last minute. I had stuffed mushrooms grilling, chorizo in cider bubbling, bread baking, tortilla browning, calamari and whitebait frying, garlic prawns sizzling all in the last few minutes. Talk about juggling! The only things that could be done in advance were the ham and olives!

Despite the frenzy in the kitchen, it all turned out and what a feast! Certainly an authenic Spanish celebration meal!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chai & Port Poached Pear Cheesecake

It was my hubbie's birthday weekend so not only did I have to join the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop with a tea inspired recipe, but I had to make his fave - a cheesecake. Well, what better than combine them both. I drink the odd tea to keep warm at work, but I'm not generally a tea person - much more into coffee (can't wait for the coffee blog hop!) I didn't want to wuss out though being out of my comfort zone, and of course I wanted to give it a go. I did choose a tea with a familiar favour though, to combine with the other ingredients.

Chai & Port Poached Pear Cheesecake (adapted from a recipe from "Eating for Goodness Sake" )

Poached Pears
4 pears
1 litre of Chai tea
500ml Tawny Port

Biscuit Base
200g Scotch Fingers
100g Butter
pinch of cinnamon

225g Cottage Cheese
70ml Sour Cream
75g Icing Sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond essence (or Frangelico!)

Icing Sugar to dust on top


  • Peel, core and quarter the pears;
  • Poach the pears till soft in the tea and port, then leave to cool in the poaching juice;
  • Reserve the poaching liquid for sauce
  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Melt the butter for the base;
  • Whizz the biscuits in the food processor;
  • Add the butter and a pinch of cinnamon to the biscuits and whizz till forms clumps;
  • Press the biscuit crumbs into a greased 20cm spring form pan;
  • Line the biscuit base with the quartered poached pears;
  • Whizz the ingredients for the filling together till smooth;
  • Pour the filling over the pears;
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 mins or until the cheesecake has set;
  • Remove from the oven and cool
  • Meanwhile bring the reserved poaching liquid to the boil to reduce
  • Turn out of the spring form pan and dust with icing sugar
  • Serve with extra poached pear and drizzle some of the reduced poaching liquid.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

High Steaks

Best Steak in the World?
This is supposed to be the best steak in the world. Actually whoever made that claim must have travelled far and wide. I have never been to New York but I have heard that they do some passable steaks there. Our Chilean friends reckon they do a pretty mean steak in their homeland too. We have first hand experience of Steak Florentine - a monster Italian t-bone and it would be hard to top that. My hubbie's steak, however, is the hardest to beat if you ask me! We've been on camping trips in the middle of nowhere and had some of the tenderest, juiciest steaks cooked on our camp BBQ. So good is he at steak cooking that I had to write it into our vows that he promise to cook it for me just the way I like it for all our lives!

Balcony BBQ Steak
I am always confident he will cook it perfectly rare to my taste and he times them impeccably so they all arrive at the table together no matter how you like it cooked.

The steak with the lofty promises was great - perfectly cooked and with some great char patterns but nothing can beat a good steak coming off the BBQ on our balcony with some homemade sides of veg for a weeknight treat.

On another exciting note, I got a mention in Pocket Change "Best of the Web" last week! It was such a privilege to be included in their collection of some awesome looking blogs!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tomorrow 2012 begins - MasterChefAU 2012 that is!

Tomorrow 2012 begins! Well Masterchef 2012 that is. I can't wait! I've been having withdrawals from cooking competitions since MKR finished a few months ago, and have been anticipating the start of MasterChef for weeks now!

I have managed to avoid the previews (all but one ad with a couple of hopeful contestants wringing their hands together in a vehicle) so I have no idea what this season will bring!

What I hope though is that they bring the Mystery Box and Invention Test combo back and that we see more of the personality of the Chefs and what they can really do. Last season I wished they would show more of what the Chefs cooking style really was. I know Jimmy from two series ago only seemed to cook curry but wow! what curry that was and it was amazing to see all he could do when given a bit of freedom. The contestants last year though seemed to be on a shorter leash with less personality that showed through.

I also hope that the Celebrity chef challenge is a weekly feature. How inspiring to see the top Aussie chefs in action with their signature dishes.

I am also hoping that I happen across a team challenge some day. Who do you have to know to wangle myself into the pizzeria or sushi bar the Contestants take over for the night?

Finally I am looking forward to being inspired to cook some fantastic meals. I love the recipes I have tried from the Masterchef kitchen and can't wait for some pressure test challenging recipes and to see the judges in action in their Masterclasses.
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