Friday, 26 December 2014

Chocolate Swirl Pavlova with Baked Cherries

What is Bat Man's guilty pleasure? Hard to choose from a selection of hilariously depraved answers like 50,000 volts to the nipples, mason jars, Daniel Radcliffe or Lady Gaga's special bits. Perhaps it might be this pav, if the caped one has a sweet tooth?

These and other non-pressing questions were pondered late into the afternoon on Christmas Day when the decks of Cards Against Humanity hit the table. The red wine flowed, everyone had thirds and fourths of dessert, and it was all down hill from there.

Ahhhh family. They know the best and worst of us, which probably makes them the most fun to laugh with. All of that shared history and the collections of stories, repeated so many times and just as funny with each telling.

Gosh it felt good to be silly. To wrap myself up in my children's excitement and splash around with them in the pool for three hot days in a row. To make plans and dream a little. To allow myself to be distracted from the sadness of this past week in Sydney, which, for a mother's reasons, I have been unable to shake.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. 

I hope your Christmas was just as joyous and full of laughter, surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. 

We served this pavlova for dessert on Christmas Eve, but the cherry/chocolate/vanilla combination will work all summer long. It is light and marshmallowy inside with chocolatey hits of cocoa and the cherries baked with cinnamon are so delicious. Make all the elements a day ahead so all you need to do is assemble and serve. It takes the stress out of entertaining - my gift to you.

Larissa x

Chocolate Swirl Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Cream and Baked Cherries
(Serves 10-12)

300g caster sugar
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons quality cocoa
1 small carton single pouring cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon caster sugar

Baked cherries:
600g cherries, pitted
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of Pedro Ximinez Sherry or port

Preheat oven to 170C. 
Mix the cherries, sugar and cinnamon together. Place in a baking dish and bake for 20-30 mins until the cherries are soft. Cool slightly and mix in the sherry or port. Place in a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the pavlova, preheat oven to 200C. Trace a 22cm circle on a piece of baking paper and place on a large flat baking sheet. Set aside.
Spread sugar in an even layer over a baking tray lined with baking paper. 
Bake for 8 minutes until sugar is hot and beginning to melt at the edges.
Place egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer and, when the sugar has been in the oven for 7 minutes, begin whisking on high speed for one minute.
Take sugar out of the oven and turn mixer to slow speed. Add sugar gradually and when all added, turn mixer to high and whisk for 15-20 minutes until the meringue has cooled.
Add the vanilla extract and cocoa, stirring by hand only a few gentle turns, so that a swirl effect is created and you preserve as much air in the mixture as possible.
Place large spoonfuls of meringue in the centre of the circle on your baking paper and ease out to the edges, creating a large free-form meringue. Using a spoon or spatula, make a shallow basin or well in the centre and tease up the outer rim to make pretty peaks.
Turn the oven down to 110C.
Bake pavlova shell for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Turn the oven off, place a wooden spoon in the door to hold it ajar and leave the pavlova in the oven to cool completely (overnight is ideal).
When cool, take it out of the oven and carefully move it from the baking paper to an airtight container or serving plate covered with a glass cloche.
To assemble, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. 
Spoon whipped cream into the shell of the pavlova and gently top with the cherries and sauce, letting them drizzle over the sides.
Serve immediately. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Butterscotch Brownie Truffles

Someone has played a bad joke on me and it is already December. Deep into Christmas time. Suddenly it is hot and stormy every night, there is a tree in our lounge room and I am baking like a mad woman with barely enough time to scoff a mince pie for lunch.

The past few months have been a bit of a blur so here are some numbers, Bridget style, to fill in the blanks:

Number of months my toddler has been going to daycare: 3
Chest infections he has bought home: 86
Bouts of gastro: 2
Bouts of pneumonia: 1
Hospital stays: 1 
Nights in: 5 !!
Solo parenting stints while husband globe trots for, ahem, work: 10 long days' worth
Emergency escapes North to the beach: 1
Barossa Valley weddings: 1
Read, flights with two kids under five: 4
New cafes stocking LP cakes: 2 (welcome Wild Basket Neutral Bay and Two Penny on Park)
All of which amounts to blog posts: 0 
Grey hairs: 367 and 
Red wine needed: pass me the bottle and a straw...

Given my slightly panicked, reindeer in the headlights (how is there only two weeks until Christmas??) variety of festive cheer, this recipe is perfect. It takes no time, it has a kick of schnapps and the result is quite fancy. I'm going to box them up pretty for my client gifts this year but they'd be an impressive take-along thingy for any party or Christmas do you have coming up. 

L xxx

Butterscotch Brownie Truffles
(Makes about 30)

4 cups of crumbled brownie
100g quality dark chocolate 
100g quality milk chocolate
1/2 to 3/4 cup Butterscotch Schnapps
200g quality dark chocolate extra
200g quality milk chocolate extra
Gold leaf *

Place crumbled brownie in a large bowl.
Melt dark and milk chocolate together gently over a saucepan of simmering water.
When melted, add to the brownie with the schnapps and mix it all together.
Roll generous teaspoonfuls into balls and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
Place in the fridge for several hours or overnight to firm up.
Melt the remaining chocolates over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip truffles into the melted chocolate and place on baking tray lined with a fresh sheet of baking paper. 
Place back into fridge for at least an hour or until set.
Using food tweezers and a small food paintbrush, place a small fleck of gold leaf onto each truffle and paint into place to secure.
Store truffles in the fridge until ready to serve.

*Gold leaf available from specialty food stores. In Sydney, I source mine from The Essential Ingredient, Rozelle

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Pasta Class - Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

It's poor form on my part, but last night I allowed Mr LP to cook his own Father's Day eve dinner - bread pappardelle with lamb ragu.

You know why? He handles our pasta machine like a boss. And it's still a freezing, very non-Spring temperature outside. There's no way I was passing up home-made pasta and slow cooked lamb on a Saturday night!

Let me tell you about this recipe Mr LP has nailed. We learned it from chef Danny Russo at a pasta making class we went to at Mosman's Accoutrement a few weeks back. And I'm allowed to share it with you, you lucky ducks!

We have trotted it out a few times now at family things because it is so damn impressive and relatively easy if you make the pasta ahead, or even if you don't. Mr LP whipped it all up yesterday afternoon. He's good, that man.

If you're intimidated by making pasta, I say have a crack anyway. It's much easier than you think. You just need a bit of clear bench space and to be prepared to get your hands in there. It's quite therapeutic, the kneading process. Nothing dainty, like pastry. Get in and work it!

The Accoutrement class was the first time (gasp) I had ever made pasta, so everything was new and exciting. I was a bit enthusiastic! I took a lot of photos that all looked awful but at least the pasta was delicious.

Danny does a class each year and I highly recommend it. He was patient and easy to follow, and we left with three types of our own pasta, containers of pesto and Parmesan, and full from a three course lunch.

We made our own cavatelle, linguine, and pappardelle made with breadcrumbs. Danny served the cavatelle (like a small, half tube of penne) in a light and super tasty chickpea soup, perfect for this cold snap. The linguine, he tossed gently in a large bowl with raw swordfish marinated in lemon juice, fennel and sea salt. So fresh and delicious! But my favourite was the pappardelle with lamb ragu. The breadcrumbs in this recipe give some texture to the pasta and the sauce is rich and warming. It is all the things you want in a food hug.

Thank you Danny for sharing your tips and your recipe, and thank you Mr LP for mastering it (promise I'll make breakfast xx).

Bread Papardelle with Lamb Ragu
(Recipe by Danny Russo)

300g pasta flour
150g dried breadcrumbs
4 eggs, large
2 egg yolks
Pinch salt

Combine flour, breadcrumbs and salt in a bowl or on a clean bench. Create a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs and yolks together and add to the well. Stir with two fingers, gradually bringing the dry ingredients into the eggs, then increase fingers to whole hand stirring. When the dough starts to come together, knead until smooth. Divide dough into four pieces, wrap in cling wrap and leave it to react for at least 30 mins. Flatten your dough into a rough rectangle and flatten as much as possible before rolling it through a pasta machine until smooth, elastic and approx. 2mm thick. Cut into 15mm ribbons and your pappardelle is ready.

Lamb Ragu
1kg lamb shoulder, diced into 3cm chunks (ask your butcher)
200g finely diced onion
4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
500g tinned tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
100ml white wine
1L chicken stock
50ml olive oil
Salt, pepper
2 bay leaves
100g pitted black olives
Extra olive oil 
Parmesan to serve
Parsley to serve
Grated lemon zest to serve

Preheat oven to 160C. Heat a large oven proof casserole pan and sear the lamb until browned all over. Remove from pan and fry off the onion, celery, rosemary and garlic. Add the white wine and reduce by a third before adding the lamb back into the pan with the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, add salt and pepper, then bake for 3 1/2 to 4 hours until the lamb is falling apart. Stir in olives.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt and cook pasta until all-dente. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the ragu. Serve drizzled with extra olive oil, shaved Parmesan, scattered parsley and grated lemon zest.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads, especially Mr LP, who is a great one. xxx

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Rhubarb and Rose Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze

Roses again! A lady never tires of roses, shoes or chocolate. Or sparkly things or $40 blow dries for that matter. I certainly never tire of pretty cakes. And that's a good thing, as I'm smack in the middle of cake month. Hold that thought - I have an epic chocolate cake recipe to share with you soon.

But for the moment, given Winter is giving it one last crack, let's talk rhubarb and edible flowers.

It's very hip at the moment to scatter edible flowers over everything and I'm so on board. I don't bother with extra long tweezers and fussy placement like a TV chef but I do love the way a liberal scattering of petals can transform a plainish cake into something beautiful, while giving a pop of colour and flavour. 

The combination of almond, vanilla and rhubarb with a hint of orange and rose in this cake is lovely, and it's an easy hand-mix.

It's inspired by this recipe from a favourite blog, Cannelle et Vanille, and it's a kind of variation on the friands I bake for my cafes, like a winter version in a cake. It can be also be made gluten-free by swapping in rice flour for the plain flour.

Tempting though it may be to cut into it fresh from the oven, because it smells all gorgeous and looks all golden and inviting, I urge you to stop and wait until it is cool so you can drizzle over the thick vanilla bean glaze and then attend to the all-important petal bling.

I have used dried edible rose petals by Pariya but you could use any edible flowers to decorate the top of the cake. Buy them from your nearest farmers markets or specialty food store.

Rhubarb and Rose Bundt with Vanilla Glaze
(Serves 12-16)

350g rhubarb, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon caster sugar
285g butter, melted
2 cups almond meal
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1/2 an orange
8 egg whites (store the yolks in the fridge and use them within a few days to make custard/ice cream/pasta/lemon curd etc)
1 tablespoon edible dried rose petals plus extra for the top
Extra butter for greasing tin

Vanilla Bean Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
Seeds from one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 160C. Brush the inside of a 1.5L (22cm) Bundt or kugelhopf tin with melted butter and then dust with flour to ensure the cake doesn't stick.
Place rhubarb slices in a microwave safe steamer with the caster sugar and a dash of water and cook on high for two minutes or until just cooked and maintaining shape. Set aside.
Whisk the egg whites, icing sugar and orange zest together in a large bowl.
Add the almond meal, flour and baking powder and stir until just combined. 
Add the melted butter and stir carefully until all mixed in.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and scatter with rhubarb and rose petals.
Using a skewer, gently marble the rhubarb and rose petals through the cake mix.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cake is cool, make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds with one tablespoon of boiling water until you have a thick, glossy icing. Add a dash more water if needed but be careful not to make the glaze too thin.
Drizzle spoonfuls of the glaze over the cake and let it drip down the sides in pretty rivulets. Scatter with rose petals and serve. 
* For an extra beautiful touch, add some flecks of gold leaf on top of the roses. You may need those long tweezer thingys for this though, and try not to love yourself too sick when you look at the result. Others will do this for you.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Vanilla, Raspberry and Rose Marshmallows

It's not Valentine's Day, nor is there a wedding anniversary any time soon. We have been going about life, heads down, hard at it, bake after bake. And that is when hearts and sweetness are most welcome, in my book. I have been holding my little family close this week. A little tighter. A little more aware of how very lucky I am. I have been, for lack of a better way of saying it, more present.

I made these marshmallow hearts for my mum a while ago. They're sweet and a bit sassy, just like her. In just over a month, we'll be flying to beautiful Broome to celebrate her birthday. For most of the year it has seemed like a far-off hazy something-to-look-forward-to. But now it's nearly here. Our calendar is stacked almost every week until we go, and I'm going to be more swamped with work than ever, but it's nearly here! 

A week in paradise with the people I love most in the world - I am beyond excited. It's these times, when we get to laugh together and let our hair down, the sharing of old stories and the making of new ones. This is what it's all about. It's how I can counter the fear of this random world and the fragile balance that holds everything dear to all of us in place.

Vanilla, Raspberry and Rose Marshmallow Hearts
(Makes 16-20 depending on size of heart cutter)

250g caster sugar
2 teaspoons liquid glucose
6 titanium strength gelatine leaves
2 egg whites
Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean
Two tablespoons freeze dried raspberries*
Two tablespoons dried edible rose petals*
Icing sugar and cornflour for dusting

Line the base and sides of a rectangular baking tray with non-stick baking paper, making sure it overhangs the edges.
Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for five minutes. Squeeze the water from the sheets and melt in a bowl over simmering water. 
Place egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer.
Place 175g of the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 100ml water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for three minutes.
Start whisking egg whites on high until they reach a soft peak, then turn the mixer to a lower speed and gradually add the rest of the caster sugar. 
Continue simmering the glucose syrup for a further five minutes or until it reaches 127C on a sugar thermometer. Add the melted gelatine and the vanilla to the glucose syrup, then, with the mixer still on a low speed, pour the mixture carefully into the egg whites.
Turn the mixer up to high speed and whisk for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cooled and thick and glossy.
Combine equal parts icing sugar and cornflour in a small bowl. Dust the inside of your prepared tin with  the mixture and reserve the rest.
Spread half the marshmallow into tin and scatter with freeze dried raspberries and rose petals, then cover with remaining marshmallow. Smooth top with a pallet knife and place in fridge to set for at least two hours. 
Lift the marshmallow from the tin by the overhanging baking paper and place on a board or flat surface dusted with the icing sugar mixture. 
Dip heart shaped cookie cutter into the icing sugar mixture before cutting hearts from the marshmallow. Dust marshmallows in the sugar mixture before serving. If you don't have a heart shaped cutter, simply cut the marshmallow into squares using a hot, sharp knife.
If doing a chocolate version, skip the dusting step and dip your hearts into your favourite quality melted chocolate (about 200g should do it) and leave them to set on sheets of non-stick baking paper.
* Freeze dried raspberries and dried edible rose petals are available from The Essential Ingredient and other specialist delis and food stores.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sugar-Free Pear and Pecan Cookies

Biscuits are the best. If I give my kids a bickie, all is right with the world and I have two solid minutes of quiet (them) and productivity (me) guaranteed. So it's tempting to give them out a lot! Well, at least twice a day. I'm talking milk arrowroots or those apple bars from Heinz, but I still worry about the sugar factor.

I guess I'm lucky that my boys love most fruit and can eat nuts, so I gave these sugar-free cookies using grated pears a go and cheered to myself as they disappeared at bickie time. Then the next day, I drizzled a few with chocolate and had them with a cuppa. I can quit sugar no problems, but quitting chocolate is cruel!

My cookies are inspired by these carrot ones I saw on the wonderful cooking site for mums, One Handed Cooks. They are kind of like a fruit and nut Anzac and pleasing in a wholesome, I'm-being-an-excellent-mother-right-now way. But I'll be honest, they were vastly improved by the chocolate.

I used Beurre Bosc pears, because they're my favourite to bake with, but any variety would be fine and they're all in season now.

If you buy your pears from Woolworths this month, you can pick up a copy of this lovely new cookbook from Australian Pears, Rediscover Australian Pears: Volume 2. It's free with a purchase of 1kg of pears while stocks last and features recipes from loads of my foodie heroes like Maggie Beer and Karen Martini. Don't fret if you miss out at Woolies. The cookbook will be available from selected retailers from July 28, 2014.

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy and it is full of delicious winter goodness. The Bosc Pear and Almond Butter Cake by Karen Martini is on my kitchen agenda this week!

Pear and Pecan Cookies
(Makes about 16)

1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts
2 Beurre Bosc pears, peeled, cored and grated
1/2 cup sultanas
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, then stir in the maple syrup and oil.
With wet hands, shape mixture into small balls and place on the baking tray, leaving room to spread. Flatten each cookie slightly with a fork.
Bake for 18-20 mins or until golden. Leave to cool on trays.
Store in an airtight container.

*Mummy/Daddy option: when cookies are cool, melt 50g dark chocolate and drizzle over with a teaspoon.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Slow-Roasted Quince

Sometimes I get just as excited seeing an empty weekend on our calendar, where the only thing planned is a walk to the local shops for a "cino" and maybe a visit to the park, as when our schedule is jammed with catch-ups.

Time is such a luxury these days, so when I get a large undisturbed chunk of it in winter, one of the most satisfying things to do with it, apart from a colour/cut/blowdry, is to slow-roast something. 

It would usually be meaty - a shoulder of lamb or Mr LP's excellent beef stew. But I'm still wearing my tutti frutti pants and serving up all kinds of weird to the kids, so I bought some quinces instead and waited patiently for the weekend to roll around.

In their raw state, quinces are pale, hard and bitter to taste. But when cooked long and slow, their flesh becomes beautifully tender and sweet, and it transforms into a deep, earthy orange colour. They taste like the country, if you know what I mean. Kind of somewhere between an apple and a strong pear, and they go superbly with classic baking flavours like vanilla, citrus, and almond.

For my basic roasted quince, I turned to the quince queen, Maggie Beer, for inspiration. Maggie roasts her quince for seven hours, which was a little too much oven hogging time in my kitchen, so I had to tweak.

Here's what I did:

Roasted Quince with Cinnamon and Orange 
(Recipe adapted from Maggie's Kitchen)

Three large quince, peeled and cut into large wedges (reserve the peel)
Juice of two lemons
One orange, zest peeled in wide strips, plus juice
One cinnamon stick
Two vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped out
Two star anise
400g caster sugar
600ml water

Preheat oven to 150C.
Place quince pieces in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice. Set aside.
Tie quince peel and orange peel strips together with kitchen twine and place in a medium sized saucepan with water, caster sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, star anise, vanilla beans and scraped seeds. 
Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat until syrupy (about 10 mins). Remove the twine and zests.
Place quince pieces in a baking dish along with syrup, including cinnamon stick, vanilla beans and star anise.
Cover closely with a piece of baking paper, cut to fit the inside of the baking dish.
Roast for two hours, then turn the quinces and return to the oven for a further one to two hours, depending on your taste and whether you want the quince to be a blushing pink, deep orange or dark crimson. The longer you bake them, the deeper the colour and intensity of flavour.
Keep the fruit and syrup in a container in the fridge until ready to use. It will last about a week to 10 days.

It would be perfectly fine to stop here, and serve these blushing beauties warm, drizzled with their syrup and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

They are also wonderful on porridge for breakfast or you could include them as part of a brekkie parfait, layered with vanilla yoghurt and hazelnut granola.

Here are three other ways I put them to use: 

Quince and Almond Tarts
(Makes 12 small tarts or one large tart)

Six large pieces of roasted quince, thinly sliced

125g butter, melted
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup self-raising flour
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3 egg whites

250g plain flour
50g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten 
Dash of milk

For Pastry:
Place flour and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz until combined.
Add cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Whisk the egg and milk together and add to the processor while the motor is running.
Pulse until the mixture just comes together to form a dough. 
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For Frangipane:
Sift flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Stir in almond meal and lemon zest.
Add egg whites and stir until combined, then carefully stir in melted butter.

Preheat oven to 180C.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a rectangle, about 3mm thick, enough to cover the base and sides of a long rectangular loose bottomed fluted tart tin. Press to the edges and trim any excess. If making small tarts, cut out circles with a pastry cutter and press into a 12-hole muffin tin. 
Place tin in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will help to prevent shrinkage when the tart bakes. 
If making a large tart, blind bake with pastry weights and baking paper for 8 mins, then remove baking weights and bake for a further 8 mins or until tart shell is light golden.
If making small tarts, blind baking isn't necessary. Just bake the tart shells for 10 mins until light golden.
Reduce oven temperature to 165C.
**Because I sometimes have things like left-over salted caramel in my fridge, and just happened to on the day I baked these, I added a teaspoon of caramel in the bottom of each tart. If you have any around, or care to make the caramel in the pudding recipe following, I highly recommend this step.
Pour frangipane into the tart shell(s) and arrange slices of quince along the top.
If making a large tart, bake for 20-25 mins or until puffed and golden brown.
For small tarts, bake for 18-20 mins.
Cool slightly before serving with a light dusting of icing sugar.

Quince Butterscotch Pudding

1 1/2 cups slow roasted quince, sliced
125g butter, melted
3/4 cups caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk

75g caster sugar
65g butter, cubed
1/4 cup cream

For butterscotch, place caster sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and melt without stirring. Tilt the saucepan to spread the molten sugar around the pan surface to ensure it all melts without burning.
When the toffee begins to bubble, carefully add the butter and cream. Take care as mixture will spit.
Turn off the heat and stir until all combined and a nice caramel colour (about 1 minute).
Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 160C. 
Spray the bottom of a medium sized pudding dish with non-stick baking spray.
For pudding, mix all ingredients except quince in a large mixing bowl until combined.
Pour the butterscotch into the bottom of the pudding dish. Place quince slices on top.
Cover the quinces and caramel with the pudding batter, spreading gently to the edges with a spatula.
Place the pudding dish inside a large roasting tray. Pour warm water into the roasting tray until it reaches half-way up the side of the pudding dish.
Bake for 45-55 mins until puffed and golden. If you think pudding is browning too much on top, cover with foil at around the 40 minute mark.
Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with cream or custard.

Chocolate tart with Quince Vanilla Bean Syrup

250g plain flour
50g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten 
Dash of milk

300g quality dark chocolate, chopped
100g quality milk chocolate, chopped
400ml cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Quince Syrup:
3/4 - 1 cup of syrup reserved from roasted quince recipe above

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place flour and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz until combined.
Add cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Whisk the egg and milk together and add to the processor while the motor is running.
Pulse until the mixture just comes together to form a dough. 
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out to 2mm thickness and press into a 23cm round, loose-bottomed tart tin.
Blind bake for 8 mins, then remove baking weights and continue baking for a further 10mins until tart shell is light golden. Set aside to cool in tin.
Reduce oven to 130C.
Pour tart filling carefully into the tart shell and return to the oven with a steady hand for 30-35mins or until just set and filling has a slight wobble in the centre. 
Refrigerate until cold and completely set.
When ready to serve, remove tart from tin, place on serving plate and dust with quality cocoa.
Cut tart with a hot knife and serve drizzled with quince syrup and thick cream. 

Tart Filling:
Place chopped chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
Heat cream in a saucepan until boiling point and pour over the chocolate. Leave for 3-4 mins and then stir very gently until the mixture combines into a smooth ganache.
Stir in beaten eggs.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Prawn and Papaw Rice Paper Rolls with Dipping Sauce

The other day at the park, my three-year-old ran up to me with a couple of his little friends and asked if we could have sushi for lunch, "because that's what Jack is having." 

I said this was fine. And then the precocious mini foodies started discussing what type of sushi they wanted. One was after salmon and avocado, another said teriyaki chicken and Master N announced he wanted avocado and carrot and prawn. I was proud. At three, I don't think I knew what an avocado was, and I certainly wouldn't have stood for anything wrapped in seaweed. I know that kids liking sushi is unremarkable these days - Master N regularly has it at preschool. It's all about what is normal for them. With this in mind, and an unused papaw on my bench, I thought I would put it to good use on my prawn-loving youngster in a rice paper roll. 

He'd never had rice paper rolls before, but I sat him up at the bench with some carrot sticks and he watched as I soaked each wrapper in turn and then he helped me lay the ingredients inside. He even had a go at rolling one, which ended with the rice paper wrapped around his fingers and everything else on the floor. Feeding his pet dragon that lives under the bench, he calls it, whenever he drops food. It's a fat dragon. 

I made two versions of rolls: one with plain cooked prawns, avocado, carrot, slices of papaw drizzled with lime juice and coriander leaves for the kids, and the other with chilli and ginger prawns, shallots, carrot, papaw and coriander for me and Mr LP.

As mentioned in my papaya cheesecake post, papaws have a distinctive smell and getting kids to eat them willingly can be a challenge. I have found that the best way to introduce little people to anything they may be suspicious of is to either pair it something sweet or to hide it. In this case, I hid slices of yellow papaw behind shaved ribbons of orange carrot which were underneath orange prawns. I thought this was especially genius because one of the things Master N liked best about the rolls was how he could see through the rice paper to the contents. And the dipping in sauce bit. 

He ate nearly half a roll before he screwed up his face and inspected the contents closely. He identified the rogue ingredient so fast it made me laugh. "What's this Mummy?" I told him it was papaw and that it was kind of like mango, which he loves. "I don't like it." And that was that until I pulled it out. The coriander too. 

Mr LP though, scoffed three without blinking. So the verdict is that three year olds will be three year olds and that I would happily make these again for friends with drinks as canapés or a light and healthy entree with a tropical surprise. Haha, yes I just said that. Best of all, they're really, really easy and just as yum.

To learn more about the versatility of #aussiepapaw, visit

Prawn and Papaw Rice Paper Rolls
(Makes 12)

1 clove garlic, crushed
12 rice paper wrappers
24 medium sized green prawns, deveined and washed
1 carrot, peeled and shaved into ribbons 
Half a papaw, peeled and sliced
Half an avocado, sliced
Juice of half a lime
Half a bunch of coriander

*For grown up version, add:
6 shallots (scallions), halved length ways and then chopped in two to make 12 halves
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
One Birdseye chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

Dipping sauce: 
Juice of half a lime
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of brown sugar

Sauté garlic in a tablespoon of oil (I used coconut oil) on medium high heat until just fragrant. 
Add prawns and stir fry for three or four minutes until cooked (just firm and colour has changed to a coral pink). Place prawns on a plate and set aside until cooled.
Prepare carrots, papaw and avocado. Drizzle lime juice over papaw slices.
Soak each rice paper wrapper one at a time in a pan of warm water for 5 seconds and then lay flat on a chopping board and leave for 30 seconds to soften.
Place coriander leaves in centre of wrapper in a line, slightly overhanging the top. Leave about 2cm of space at the bottom for rolling.
Place a carrot ribbon on top, followed by slices of papaw, avocado and two prawns.
Roll up tightly from one side, stopping halfway to fold and tuck in the bottom.
Serve with dipping sauce.

For dipping sauce, mix all ingredients in a small bowl. 

* For grown up version, add ginger and chilli to the prawns when stir frying. Add shallots to the rolls when assembling.