Monday, April 26, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Slice

I tore this recipe out of The Age a few years ago and have only just today got around to making it. They've named it "New York Special" but it should probably be called a Heart Attack.

Bottom layer ingredients:
~ 100g margarine
~ 2 cups biscuit crumbs
~ 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
~ 1/2 cup sugar
~ 1/3 cup walnut crumbs
~ 1/3 cup hazelnut meal
~ 3 tablespoons cocoa
~ 1 free range egg
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Middle layer ingredients:
~ 50g margarine
~ 1.5 cups icing sugar
~ Half a packet of "vanilla flavoured instant pudding mixture (dry)" (I used Cottees brand)
~ Milk

Top layer ingredients:
~ 80g dark chocolate
~ 1 tablespoon butter

What to do:
1. Grease a 22cm tin.
2. For the bottom layer, melt margarine and mix in sugar and cocoa. Set aside. Mix together biscuit crumbs, coconut and nuts. Mix into this the egg and vanilla, then mix in the sugar/cocoa/margarine mixture.
3. Press into the tin and place in the fridge.
4. For the middle layer, melt margarine and mix with icing sugar and pudding mixture. Add enough milk to make this spreadable onto the first layer (1-2 tablespoons to start), then spread and return slice to fridge.
5. For the top layer, melt chocolate and butter over very low heat then spread on top of middle layer.
6. Allow to cool/set in the fridge, then cut into little squares. Keep in the fridge, if there's any left.

French Onion Soup

I saw the film Julie & Julia a few days ago (based on Julia Child and a food blogger), hence all this recipe blogging madness!

Yesterday I embarked on a new challenge: French Onion Soup. It's one of those things I don't even bother asking if it's vegetarian at restaurants anymore because it inevitably is not (always a beef stock base). I found a recipe on Gourmet Traveller and slightly adapted it. Be prepared - it takes about 2.5 hours.

~ 1 kg of brown onions, finely sliced
~ 50g butter
~ 1 litre "beef style" vegetable stock (I used Massel brand)
~ 1 teaspoon thyme
~ 1 bay leaf

What to do:
1. Melt the butter in a very large saucepan then add the onions and cover.
2. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every 5 or so, until onions are soft.
3. Remove lid and cook for another hour (yes, 60 minutes), stirring every so often*.
4. Add stock 1/2 cup at a time and stir after each addition for 5 minutes, until 2 cups of stock have been added (about 20 minutes).
5. Add the remaining stock, thyme and bay leaf then simmer for another 40 minutes.
6. At the end of all of this, the soup should be brownish and thick. Take out the bay leaf then serve straight away (cheese on toast is a recommended side, but the soup is good on it's own too).

*I chose to watch 20 minute episodes of Weeds and stir after each one, but that's just me.

Vegetarian Pho

To be honest, I can't 100% remember how I made this Vegetarian Pho but it was loosely based on this recipe. It's the kind of meal you can make up if you're feeling adventurous.

~ 200g rice noodles
~ 250g Firm tofu, chopped into 1cm cubes
~ 100g dried shiitake mushrooms
~ Small packet of mung bean sprouts
~ 1 small piece ginger, finely chopped
~ 1 red chilli, finely chopped
~ Vegetable stock, to taste
~ Soy sauce, to taste
~ Rice wine, to taste
~ Lemon juice, to taste

What to do:
1. Cook the rice noodles according to packet directions (usually soak in boiling water for 5 minutes) then drain.
2. In a giant saucepan, put all of the ingredients (including cooked noodles) and let it simmer until everything is heated through. Taste it along the way and play with the ingredients - you can also add things like bamboo shoots, water chestnuts or chopped spring onion.

>> Fun fact: The Vietnamese name for Vegetarian Pho is phở chay (thanks Wikipedia!)

Leek & Potato Soup

This soup is something I've stolen from my Mum's repertoire - it's cheap to make, easy and tasty.

~ 1 large leek, chopped
~ 4 large potatoes, diced into small cubes
~ 2 tablespoons butter
~ 1 cup water
~ 3 cups liquid vegie stock (or 3 extra cups of water, and 3 teaspoons of vegie stock powder)

What to do:
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan then add chopped leek and fry until soft.
2. Add the water, vegetable stock and potatoes and boil until potatoes are tender (test with a fork).

That is literally the whole recipe... two steps! You can puree the soup in a blender if you're that way inclined, but I like to leave it chunky. You can also easily adjust the quantity by adding more or less water to cover the vegies, and more or less stock to taste. Yum.

Devilled Eggs

I made these Devilled Eggs as an hors d'œuvre for a recent 1960s party - they're a decadent delight!

~ 6 free range eggs
~ 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
~ 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
~ paprika (optional)

What to do:
1. Hard boil the eggs. (Sounds easy enough, but if you're not a seasoned egg boiler: place the eggs into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring this to the boil on highest heat, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Voila! Your eggs are hard boiled.)
2. The eggs will need to be cooled by draining the hot water and replacing with cold, or letting them sit for a while (even in the fridge overnight if you're making them ahead of time).
3. Once cool, peel off the shells and cut the hard boiled eggs ever so carefully in half.
4. Scoop out the yolk into a bowl - don't rush it or the white will break - then mix in the mustard and mayonnaise.
5. Spoon the gooey yolk mixture back into the egg white 'cups' and sprinkle with paprika.
6. Congratulate yourself on being a domestic god/goddess.