Archive | November, 2012

Ginger Rum Fizz Cocktail

26 Nov

Although we don’t have Thanksgiving here in Australia, I love hearing about all of the dishes that are being served up. B’s cheesecake included.

There is something so delicious about a crisp ginger cookie, like B used in the base of her cheesecake. This response post called for a brainstorm over a family dinner, and we decided on a cocktail would use that gorgeous ginger crispness in another way. We are starting to have some hot days, so this was perfect to share with friends on the verandah yesterday. That said, I have had it in winter with more rum, less mixers, and it was perfect.

Here is what you will need:

Fresh ginger, apple for garnish, dark rum, sparkling apple juice, ginger beer and some ice.

I muddled some fresh ginger in with the dark rum, using the end of a rolling pin in a measuring jug. This gives a bit of ginger kick to the rum.

I poured the rum off the ginger in to a highball glass, and then added some ice, half filled the glass with ginger beer, then topped it up with sparkling apple juice. I added some thin slices of apple as a garnish, I gave it a stir and it was ready to go.

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Ginger Rum Fizz

ingredients per glass

45ml/1.5oz dark rum
1 peeled knob of fresh ginger (can be used over and over)
Ice
Half a glass of ginger beer
Half a glass of sparkling apple juice
Thinly sliced apple for garnish

Pour the rum over the piece of ginger and crush the ginger into the rum a little with a muddler, or with a rolling pin handle like I do. Pour the rum away from the ginger, into the glass, and pile in some ice. Fill half way with ginger beer, and then the other half with sparkling apple juice. Mix well. Garnish with thin slices of apple. Serve.

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Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake

19 Nov

Alice’s dessert was so beautifully light, fresh and delicious. This dessert is not light or fresh but is delicious…and rich and decadent. As we are heading into our Thanksgiving week here in the US, it’s a time to indulge in all those rich, decadent foods that you steer clear of the rest of the year.

If you have never made a cheesecake, you might think it’s difficult but it really is not that hard. It’s involved, yes, but not difficult. You’ll make this one in three separate steps – crust, filling and caramel topping. So jump on in and give it a try.

You will need a spring form pan for this. They can be found at most house ware stores. I got mine at Target.

First, you’ll need to make the crust. This crust is a fun change from the traditional graham cracker crust – it calls for ginger snaps. I like the thin little ginger cookies that you can get at IKEA, so that’s what I used. I put them in a zipper bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. Actually, I used a wine bottle, which is what I use as a rolling pin when I can’t find mine.

Melt the butter and combine with the crushed cookies and brown sugar. Remember to pack your brown sugar into the measuring utensil to get the proper measurement.

Pat the crust mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan, making sure to get up to the edges. Then wrap the bottom and sides of the spring form pan in aluminum foil. Later you’ll be baking it in a water bath, so this prevents the water from getting into your cake.

Bake the crust at 350°F (175°C) for 14 minutes until it is slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool, keeping the oven at temperature.

In the meantime, mix together your filling – the actual cheesecake part. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to easily blend all of the ingredients.

First beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Then add the butter and drop the eggs in one by one before adding the vanilla.

When everything is fully combined, pour the filling over the crust and place the pan into a larger pan, adding about one inch of water to the larger pan to make a water bath. This will keep the cheesecake from cracking and will give you a beautifully creamy final result.

Bake for an hour and 10 minutes, until the top shakes slightly when jiggled and is lightly browned.

Remove pan from water bath, remove foil from pan and place hot cheesecake uncovered into the refrigerator overnight.

And now on to the caramel topping. It’s amazing to me that a few simple ingredients can make such a wonderfully complex and rich caramel!

Stir water, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved, then turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. Let it boil without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber color, about 9 minutes.

Pour in the cream and reduce the heat. Let it simmer until thickened and reduced a bit, about 8 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool for about 15 minutes before pouring onto the top of the cheesecake.

Pour the caramel over the cheesecake and spread in a smooth layer. You can sprinkle some sea salt over the top for a wonderful sweet/salty flavor. If you have any of the caramel left over, it also makes for a tasty topping for ice cream.

Chop up toffee bars – I used mini Heath Bars – and sprinkle around the top edges of the cake.

Let the cheesecake chill for at least two hrs or overnight.

Remove the spring form pan ring and serve.

If you are celebrating a special occasion, you can put a candle in it and sing Happy Birthday to your dear friend before cutting into it.

Alice, I don’t know if you could handle all this richness! Where can we go from here?

Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake
Bon Appétit
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

Gingersnap crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (about 7 1/4 ounces)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

Cheesecake:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel topping
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 1.4-ounce English toffee candy bars (such as Heath or Skor), chopped

For gingersnap crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 9-inch springform pan with 2 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Stir ground cookies, butter, and sugar in medium bowl until moist clumps form. Press cookie mixture firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Wrap outside of pan with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Bake crust until firm and beginning to darken, about 14 minutes. Cool crust. Maintain oven temperature.

For cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in butter, then eggs, 1 at a time, until just blended. Beat in vanilla. Pour batter over crust in pan. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cake uncovered until filling is puffed around edges and moves slightly in center when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove pan from water; remove foil. Place hot cheesecake uncovered in refrigerator overnight.

For caramel topping:
Stir sugar, water, and lemon juice in large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened but still pourable, about 15 minutes.

Spoon caramel over top of cake just to edges (do not allow caramel to drip down sides). Garnish top edges with chopped English toffee. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.

Lemon Delicious (A Fluffy Lemon Self Saucing Pudding)

12 Nov

When B made that amazing looking chicken, it made me HUNGRY, and then got me thinking about the traditional Aussie roast. A Sunday roast here, would most likely be chicken or lamb, but was mostly chicken in our family. Not that we were all that traditional, but I think of Lemon Delicious as the classic dessert to go with a roast chook.

It is the kind of dessert that you can usually make without having to go to the shop, especially if you have a lemon tree. Joy.

Here is what you need…

Lemons, caster (superfine) sugar, milk, self-raising flour, eggs and butter. Cream to serve, and also a dusting of icing sugar… if you remember to use it. Spoiler alert… I didn’t.

I used a food processor to blend the butter, sugar and lemon zest until it was pale in colour. Then I added the egg yolks one by one, continuing to blend. Then I alternated adding in the milk and flour to make a smooth batter. And finally, the lemon juice.

In another bowl I set the egg beater on to the egg whites, until they held a firm peak. Then folded them through the batter.

Then I spooned the mix in to ramekins.

They went  in to a pre-heated oven, in a pan that has water half way up the sides of the ramekins. And baked until they are a golden colour, and no longer jiggle when you move them.

Juuuuuuuust right. The cream balances their sweetness beautifully.

The top is like a souffle, and then the base is a gooey pudding, and pretty much as just the name says… delicious.

Over to you B.
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Lemon Delicious

ingredients

1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
90g (3oz) butter
2 lemons, zest and juice only
3 eggs, separated
1 cup self-raising flour
2 cups milk
To serve : Dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of cream

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Cream the sugar, butter and lemon rind until pale, this can be done by hand with a wooden spoon or in a food processor. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating well after each. Add the milk and flour alternately, in small amounts, beating as you go, until a smooth batter forms.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. When the whites form stiff peaks they are ready to be folded in to the batter until just combined.

Divide the mixture in to buttered ramekins, depending on the size, there is around 7 cups of mixture. You should be able to fill around 8 ramekins. Or, if you want, you could use one larger buttered oven dish.

Place your ramekins in a baking pan and fill the pan with water to half way up the level of the mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden. If you give the ramekin a jiggle and there is movement, leave it in a little longer.

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Roast Chicken

5 Nov

Those yummy leeks that Alice made last week made me think about what a great accompaniment they would be to one of my favorite dishes – roasted chicken or roast chook, as we would say in Melbourne.

Our grocery stores do a brisk business selling rotisserie chicken or roast chicken, but it’s so easy to make in your own oven and this way you know exactly what you’re getting. No weird three syllable ingredients, just real natural food without a lot of fuss.

I used Thomas Keller’s method for roasting chicken.

Just preheat your oven to 450° F and while the oven is getting up to temperature, truss your chicken or at least tuck the wings back under themselves and tie the legs together. If you want a good entertaining explanation for why you should truss your chicken and how to do it correctly, please watch the video on the link back there.

Dry your chicken really well inside and out with paper towels. The secret to getting crispy skin is to not have anything that will cause steam.

Place the chicken into a roasting pan and sprinkle it with Kosher salt until it’s well covered, then season with some fresh cracked pepper.

Then pop it into the oven for 50-60 minutes. I got some splattering and smoking, but trust me, it was well worth having the smoke detector beeping at me to achieve this great golden chicken.

When the chicken is done pull it out of the oven, toss some fresh thyme into the pan and mix it around in the juices. Then use those juices to baste the chicken.

Cut the chicken and serve with braised leeks, a lovely crisp salad or anything else your heart desires.

And voila! Delicious roast chicken with crispy skin and tender moist meat.

Simple Roast Chicken

One medium (2-3 pound) chicken
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird.

Salt the chicken in an even manner, using about 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt. Season with pepper to taste.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven.  Roast it until it’s done without basting or touching it for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes in the pan.

Remove the twine. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is meant to be casual. If you wish, you may spread fresh butter on the chicken and serve with mustard on the side. The butter and mustard are not even necessary, as this chicken is beautifully crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside with a lovely fresh simple flavor.

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