December 17, 2010

Crispy Orange Tuile, Chocolate Mousse and Szechuan Pepper Ice-Cream

And now for the very last course in the Great 3 Course Jacques Reymond Challenge. Dessert is my favorite course of all time, so this one is going to be a doozie. So far we've had balls, balls and duck, hope you've been keeping track or that just sounds like I have a bit of a fetish....ok no guarantees I "DON'T" have a fetish. So strap your self in people, for this is the course to end all courses.....Chocolate, pepper and orange on one plate. As always, here's the recipe with results and photos to follow.

Crispy Orange Tuile, Chocolate Mousse and Szechuan Pepper Ice-Cream

Serves 4-6

The Candied Tomatoes will be the subject of some lively discussion among your guests, as well as the spicy chili pepper flavour of the Szechuan pepper Ice-cream, which perfectly compliments the chocolate and orange

Orange Tuile
100g sugar
50g butter, melted
25g flour
zest 1 orange
75g almond flakes, extra finely chopped
50ml orange juice

Chocolate Mousse
3 egg yolks
20g sugar
150mL milk
75mL cream
1 gelatin sheet, soaked in cold water
100g milk chocolate
30g dark chocolate (70%)

Candied Tomatoes
50mL sugar syrup
1 vanilla bean
1 punnet Roma cherry tomatoes, halved

Szechuan Pepper Ice cream
200g sugar
8 egg yolks
300mL milk
400mL cream
1 1/2 tbs Szechuan pepper


Orange Tuile

Preheat oven to 140C. In a bowl, whisk together sugar and melted butter. Add flour, orange zest, almond flakes and orange juice, mix well. Spread thinly onto plastic baking sheet in a 8cmx4cm rectangle shape and bake until golden. Remove and while still hot, mould into a cylinder shape, using a small rolling pin or small bottle

Chocolate Mousse

In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar to make a thick sabayon. In a saucepan, bring milk and cream to the boil and pour into the sabayon. Place back in saucepan on low heat and continue to cook slowly until it thickens, do not boil.

Remove gelatin from cold water and squeeze out excess water. Whisk gelatin into custard mix. Cool to room temperature. In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate, and allow to cool to room temperature. When the two mixtures are the same temperature, fold them together. Allow to set in the fridge. Once set, whisk mouse and spoon into piping bag. Set aside.

Szechuan Pepper Ice cream

Make sabayon by heating sugar and water to 118C - use a sugar thermometer to get an accurate temperature. Pour the egg yolks over the mixture and whisk until cool.

Bring milk and cream to the boil and infuse with pepper. Strain after 10 minutes and mix with sabayon. Once cool, churn in an ice cream machine.

Candide tomatoes

sugar syrup is one part sugar to one part water. Add water to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling add sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 50C-60C. In a small saucepan, place the sugar syrup and vanilla bean and warm slightly for 5 minutes to infuse. Strain.

Place tomatoes, cut side up on a tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven on very low heat until dry and chewy but not hard.


On serving plate, place orange tuile upright and slightly off center. Fill 1/3 of the tuile with the chocolate mousse. Place 3 pieces of candied tomato on top and fill another 1/3 of the tuile, balancing a quenelle of Szechuan pepper on top.

December 7, 2010

Ginger Bread Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches

ginger almond ice cream sandwiches

Its December and that means two things, hot weather and Christmas!!!! Its been a funny start to December in Melbourne, hot weather coupled with torrential downpours converting our once mild little town into a tropical oasis. There’s not much you can do to get away from the sticky-ness, apart from jumping in a swimming pool, or if you’re in the city - the Yarra river. Note – I do not advocate the practice of jumping into the Yarra river, do that at your own peril. Another way to get away from the heat is to eat ice cream.

I’ll find any excuse to eat ice cream, I’ve been known to eat ice cream in the middle of winter, and I don’t mean sitting at home on my couch….I mean going out and hunting down some gelato! So considering that Christmas is just around the corner (oh gosh…already!), I decided to make ginger bread almond ice cream sandwiches.

ginger almond ice cream sandwiches 2

The ginger bread cookies are chewy, so when you bite into the sandwich you get the soft spicy goodness of the cookie, coupled with a cool creamy ice cream middle. I wanted to make the ice cream really creamy, similar to commercial ice cream sandwiches so you’ll notice that my recipe calls for 2 types of cream to boost the fat content of the ice cream…hmmmm fat. If your health conscious, you can skip that and just use more of one type, but lets face it, how many people who are making their own ice cream are truly health conscious? I’ve also devised an easy way to make ice cream without owning an ice cream machine. It involves a KitchenAid and funnily enough, a freezer. Check out the recipe for more info.

ginger almond ice cream sandwiches 3

While I was making the ginger bread cookies, Daz asked me to make him ginger bread men. I wasn’t going to deny him, I really didn’t have an excuse not to make them, dough was ready to go and I already had a ginger bread man cookie cutter. And they were so cute in the end anyway, especially with their green t-shirt. Everyone had a lot of fun, until someone got their head bitten off!

chewy gingerbread men

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies


Makes roughly 30 cookies.

3/4 cup malt extract or tracel or golden syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup water
80 gram butter, softened
3 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Combine together the tracel, brown sugar, sugar, water and butter in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Sift together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until all of the ingredients are properly combined. Make a large ball and wrap the dough in gladwrap and place in the fridge for least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to achieve roughly a 5mm thickness. Using a round cookie dough cutter, cut dough then transfer cookies to an ungreased baking paper lined baking tray. Make sure to leave a small distance between each cookie, they wont get much bigger, but you don’t want to run the risk of them sticking together.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. At this stage the cookies can be placed in an airtight container and will keep at room temperature for 1 week. If constructing ice cream sandwiches, once cooled place cookies in the freezer ready to have ice cream filling added.

Almond Ice cream


100ml almond milk
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
50ml pouring cream
80 mL double cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste


1. Bring almond milk to the boil in a small saucepan, once boiled add vanilla bean, and set aside.

2. In a medium sized stainless steel bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar together by hand, then pour almond milk onto the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Cook mixture over a bain-marie while whisking continuously for about 10 minutes or until it begin to thicken thickened. A good way of testing it is if it still smells like raw egg than its not cooked enough, or if it coats the back of a spoon and keeps a straight line when you wipe some away with your finger.

3. Once thickened cool sabayon over ice while still whisking. Once completely cooled whisk both types of cream into the sabayon. Place the mixture into an ice cream machine and follow manufacturers instruction. Or use my method: A couple of hours before starting place your KitchenAid stainless steel bowl in the freezer. Once you get to the cooled sabayon/cream mixture, transfer to the frozen mixer bowl and whisk with your KitchenAid for 2 minutes. Transfer to the freezer for 15-20minutes then whisk again for 2 minutes, making sure to scrap down the sides. Repeat this again 4 or 5 times until the ice cream becomes the consistency of a thick soft serve. No need to buy a ice cream machine, and you’ll get perfect, icicle free ice cream every time!

4. To make the ice cream fillers for the sandwiches, place ice cream in a glad wrap lined rectangular plastic container. For thick ice cream sandwiches, make sure that that ice cream is roughly 2 cm thick. Cover the top of the ice cream with more glad wrap and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours to fully set. Once set, use the same sized cookie cutter you used for making the gingerbread cookies and cut round ice cream sandwich fillers. Place back in the freezer for 10 minutes or so and then assemble your sandwiches. Cookie, ice cream filler, cookie……enjoy!!

While we’re on the subject of Christmas, on the weekend Daz and I went along to the Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar. It was a last minute decision, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to be instore, I was imagine fire breathing donkey’s, three legged men and loads of Swedish meatballs. Sadly, of the three only the last one was on offer. We had a quick bite to eat, devouring Räksmörgås, Æbleskiver's and Frikadeller's . It seemed like fun, so I’ll definitely be adding it to my calendar for next year.


swedish meatballs Frikadeller's

November 30, 2010

Results - Roasted Duck Breast, Braised Turnips, and a Mango and Lemon Sauce

roasted duck with mango and turnip

Sometimes I wonder how chef's come up with flavour combinations. Do they have the Issac Newton moment when an apple falls out of a tree smacking them plainly in the face?, or do they purposefully set out to challenge our traditional take on flavour unions? I'm not exactly sure how Jacques Reymond thought of putting mango and turnip together, but let me tell you it was a stroke of genius! I really didn't think that my favourite part of this dish would be the combination of the sweet juicy mango with the soft but tender turnip. And to be brutally honest, that is the only aspect of this entire dish that I will probably be making again. Before yesterday I had no idea that there was more than one use for a turnip, the first being a implement to throw at your partner when they eat the last piece of chocolate in the pantry.

turnip and mango

I totally failed with the pickeled wombok (aka a Chinese cabbage that sounds strangely like a small furry animal). I don't know if I read the recipe wrong, or I totally missed the point, but I followed every step and at the end of it I was left with slightly damp crisp cabbage. I stared at it for a little while, kinda hoping it would magically turn into the right thing, but 20 minutes later and nothing. So I got frustrated and just wilted the whole lot in a hot pan, I may have committed a culinary sin, but in the end I wasn't exactly overcome with a taste sensation, so I'm not too upset that I got it wrong.

roasted duck with mango and turnip above

The other thing that I really liked about this dish was the orange and lemon sauce. I really enjoyed the fragrant star anise and szechuan pepper in the sauce, and I thought that the whole thing came together really well, who would have thought that orange and duck were a match made in heaven!!! The French may be onto something here. Once again though, the big spoiler was the limp, drab tasting cabbage. I strongly recommend making the rest of the dish and leave out the accompanying pickled cabbage. Maybe just steam some crunchy string beans, or better yet just save your stomach for a huge serving of dessert. Speaking of dessert, onto my last challenge in the Jacques Reymond 3 course dinner. Stay tuned for the sugar high!

roasted duck with mango and turnip side

November 28, 2010

Roasted Duck Breast, Braised Turnips, and a Mango and Lemon Sauce

And now for the main course to the Jacques Reymond 3 course delight! So far the appetizer and the starter have gone well. I'm not so sure about the main course though. While flipping through the Cuisine du Temps book I had a real hard time settling on something. Nothing really caught my eye, other than the suckling pig. But that seemed a little indulgent considering normally you have to buy a whole suckling pig, a challenge even to the well seasoned gluttons that Daz and I are. So instead I'm going to attempt the roasted duck breast. I'm a fan of duck, so hopefully this will turn out well, however the mango and lemon sauce screams a little "sweet and sour" to me which apparently is the whole point to this dish, hopefully it will be a good combination.

After reading through the recipe, it also suggests to serve the dish with a side of pickled wombok. Now, if your a little ignorant like its not a small hairy Australian marsupial, its actually Chinese cabbage. So in fact this recipe includes a bonus side recipe, helping with the all important veggie count.

As always, here is the recipe and stay tuned for the happy ending.

Roasted Duck Breast, Braised Turnips, and a Mango and Lemon Sauce, Serves 4

This Dish is all about the four tastes, saltiness (duck), acidity (lemon), sourness (turnip) and sweetness (mango)

4 duck breasts, skin on
1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt

Lemon Sauce

2 tablespoons palm sugar, grated
1/4 teaspoon Szechuan pepper
1/4 cinnamon stick
1/2 star-anise
3 cardamon pods
zest 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon julienned ginger
25 mL sherry vinegar
250mL orange juice
1 teaspoon custard powder
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ginger juice

Braised Turnips

2 small turnips, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
30g butter
100 mL chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 mango sliced

Clean the duck breast of excess sinew, score the skin and rub with salt. Place the duck skin side down in a heavy frying pan on low heat to render out the fat layer between the skin and the meat. It is not necessary to preheat the pan. Do not turn the breast until it has cooked three-quarters of the way through - approximately 15 minutes. Cook the other side for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from pan and rest for approximately 5 minutes

Lemon Sauce

Caramelise the palm sugar in a small saucepan. Add the spices, lemon zest and ginger and cook until fragrant. Deglaze with sherry vinegar and orange juice and reduce by half to 125 mL. To finish the sauce add the lemon juice and ginger juice to taste. Adjust consistency with custard powder.

Braised turnips

Caramelise sugar in a frying pan until golden. Add a couple of small knobs of butter and the turnips. Once glazed lightly, add a little chicken stock and simmer gently until tender. You need just enough chicken stock so that by the time the liquid has evaporated, the turnips are cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve

Put sliced mango in the center of the plate and place braised turnips on top, then duck breast, skin side up. Pour over lemon sauce. Pickled wombok is also and excellent accompaniment to this dish

Pickled Wombok

A fresher, more textured alternative to traditional sauerkraut.

1/2 wombok
1 salad onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon clarified butter
125 mL white vinegar
125mL white wine
1 bay leaf
2 stalks thyme
3 juniper berries
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75mL chicken stock
pinch of salt

Separate the leaves and stalks of the wombok. Slice the stalks thinly on an angle.

In a medium sized saucepan, sweat onion and pepper in a little clarified butter until soft. Add vinegar and reduce until almost evaporated. Add white wine, bay leaf, thyme, juniper berries and garlic and reduce by half. Add chicken stock to taste, season with a pinch of salt.

To cook wombok, bring pickling liquid to the boil and pour over the wombok. Remove from liquid to serve.

November 22, 2010


6 Russell Pl
Melbourne, 3000
(03) 9639 7822

sarti front door

Daz and I often perve on people…..of both sexes, I know its a little weird and slightly strange, but I'm not like most girls. I love checking out shoes and dresses and I often try to get Daz involved, but he’s just not that into females shoes. I must admit though, I'm the one who actively points candidates out to him. While we were dining at Sarti on a particular warm evening we spotted an attractive lady who had a stunning black dress on. As I was admiring her dress another woman walked in with the exact same black dress on. We all stared and were eager to find out what would happen when they both discovered they weren't the most original pair in the room. About a minute later our curiosity was satisfied when the original lady returned to her seat and noticed the other lady sitting at the next table. A few nervous laughs later and it was all sorted. It was such a fascinating incident, we all know how competitive women can get, especially when out on the town wearing your favourite little black dress. I don’t know what we were expecting, maybe some mid meal entertainment, nothing like a scrag fight!

Enough about the scenery, onto the food. We decided to share some of the stuzzichini to start. If you don’t already know stuzzichini are small share plates similar to tapas. So we had Tartare of wagyu beef, porcini acid, smoked tomato, pine nut oil. Big pieces of fleshy juicy wagyu, crunchy pieces of pine nut all topped with very smoky tiny tomatoes. The oil was quite smoky giving the meat a distinct bbq taste. I really enjoyed this dish, although I couldn’t help but want some nice pickled gherkins.


Next we had Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and herbs, the zucchini was tender but still crunchy. The outer batter was really crispy and the filling was fluffy and pundgent from the mixed herbs and spices added to the mix.

zucchini flowers

There was no way that we weren’t going to order the ‘Neo Nati fritti’, soft shell crab, ‘peperoni’ and ‘n’ duja crumble’. If you didn’t already know, Daz is a soft shell crab enthusiast, in that he will chose that over any other dish available. So we were really pleased when it arrived and lived up to its name. Thick pieces of juicy crab, with a spicy pepper "stir fry" underneath. Once again the outer shell was slightly crunchy with the soft flesh inside still very juicy. The crab was extremely fresh which was a nice little bonus.

softshell crab

The stuzzichini were really good, sadly the rest of the meal was a little bit downhill. I’ll just warn you now.

I ordered the Spinach ‘tortelli’, filled with rabbit, jerusalem artichoke puree, roasted hazelnuts, and rabbit broth. The pasta was a little undercooked, it wasn’t al dente it was “al raw-o”. It was even more evident considering the rabbit filling was very delicate and moist. The puree was fantastic along with the addition of hazelnut and rabbit broth. I really enjoyed it, however the undercooked pasta was a bit of a let down for me.

rabbit tortelli

Miss Coco LV ordered the pasta of the day, Pasta with duck ragout. It was good to see big pieces of duck scattered throughout the pasta, but once again the same issue as above, the pasta was slightly undercooked, so that totally ruined it for me.

duck pasta

Daz being the big red blooded man that he is ordered the Chargrilled 1824 ribeye ‘con la vera caponata siciliana’. The opposite to above happened here. Daz asked for a medium rare steak an instead he got a medium almost medium/well steak. It was such a shame considering it would have been a beautiful piece of meat. The other draw back was that the caponata was really oily, not just a little bit, there was a puddle of oil left over on Daz's plate after he finished. The other weird thing was that the steak was served on such a small narrow plate, making it almost impossible for Daz to eat. At one point the steak almost ended up in his lap.


After the main meals we were really disappointed, not to mention the service was lacking. The were very few of the wait staff that actually smiled, and none of the dishes were explained to us. So as soon as the dish arrived it was plonkt on the table and then not a word was said. I’m one for detail, especially with food, so found it really impersonal. Hopefully the desserts would pick up our mood.

Daz ordered the Lemon tart. Poor Daz, he has such a bad record when desserts are concerned. He was expecting a nice slice of lemon tart, or an small individual lemon tart, instead he got three tiny cubes of lemon tart with a lovely display of fruit and crumble and cream. It was a little strange considering the rest of the meal was served in a very traditional sense, but his dessert had a very modern appearance. The tart was pretty good though, nice and tangy with a crispy caramelized top. However Daz’s disappointment was not overcome by flavour, I guess great expectations are easily shattered

lemon tart

I had the Pistachio ‘panna cotta’, caramel salted popcorn. Fail!!!! The pistachio panna cotta didnt taste like pistachio, it was a little stodgy and the caramel salted popcorn was neither caramel nor salted....but it did have popcorn in it though. I'm not exactly sure what happened here, but the whole thing was a massive failure.

salted caramel popcorn and pistachio pannacotta

Miss Coco LV had the Chocolate semi freddo, traces of pumpkin. Thankfully this saved the day as far as desserts are concerned. The ice cream was really chocolaty and the semi freddo itself was really nice. I didn’t get a chance to try the pumpkin puree though. Nice idea though, matching pumpkin and chocolate together. There were no complaints coming from Miss Coco LV and she managed to finish the whole thing.

semi freddo

From my perspective Sarti was a pretty big let down. The surroundings are modern and really well done, but the service and some of the food weren’t quite up to scratch. I do recommend to go for the stuzzichini, maybe order a couple of cocktails and sit in their court yard and enjoy a few share plates with a bunch of friends, and then go somewhere else for dinner.

*It looks like Sarti is no longer in the top 100 restaurants of Australia. They were ranked 84 when the guide was released earlier this year, but the Gourmet Traveller website only have 98 entrants in the top 100. So at the moment it looks like Sarti and Lucio's are off the list. Stay tuned for more information....if I get any.

Sarti on Urbanspoon

November 13, 2010

Results - Fresh tomato Broth with Saffron, Ricotta Fritter

tomato broth with ricotta fritters2

Has anyone else noticed that I seem to be cooking alot of "balls"? For some reason I seem to be attracted to spherical shaped food items, and you know what?.....I'm not complaining. How can you not love ball shaped food, they're easy to handle, are oh so cute and fit nicely in your mouth.....wait, am I still talking about food? Maybe I should get back on track.

tomato broth with ricotta fritters

First lets talk about the taste. I made the broth and decided to serve it at room temperature, not warmed or chilled like the recipe suggested. It was a pretty warm day when I made it so the soup temperature was just right. All of the flavors blended together reminded me of warm summer day, fresh coriander, tomato, a hint of chili and the freshness of lemongrass . My only problem is that for some reason tomato soups/broths always cling to the back of my throat and give me an unpleasant sharp feeling. I enjoyed the first 5 or 6 mouth fulls, but then I was over it. I did however love the ricotta balls, so cute and tasty. I will definitely be making the fritters again, but as small finger food to kick start a party.

tomato broth with ricotta fritters3

Onto the actual recipe, it could not have been easier. Put everything in a pot and let it reduce, you don't need any skill for that. I was a little concerned at the end of the cooking time when I noticed that the whole process only made about a cup full of broth. I only made a half serve, but that wasn't enough for one person let alone two. So I decided to deviate away from the recipe and crushed the veggies while they were still sitting in my strainer and that seemed to extract some extra juice. I managed to squeeze out more than a few extra serves, so that fixed my problem. I ended up with a lot more tomato pulp but the second straining took care of any extra tomato bits.

tomato consume before cooking

Before cooking

tomato consume after cooking

After cooking

The ricotta balls were even easier. The only difficult part was waiting for the batter to be ready, and that was only difficult because I've always had a issue with patience. At the end of all the frying I was left with a fair bit of batter, so I decided to whack in a heap of cracked pepper, a little extra slat and make little salt and pepper beignet...oh they were so yummy! Might throw in some cheese next time and make cheese and black pepper balls. I've decided that Jacques Reymond is the batter king, so far anything that I've cooked involving flour and liquid has turned out to be awesome. At the end of this, I might turn into a batter ball myself!

biegnet batter


ricotta balls


ricotta fritters

So, we've eaten the appetizers and now we've consumed the consommé, I guess next is the main attraction. And guess what? I haven't even worked out what its going to be!! I think I will have look through the book again........maybe after dinner though.

tomato broth with ricotta fritters4

November 10, 2010

Fresh tomato Broth with Saffron, Ricotta Fritter

My attempt at making the appetizers for my Jacques Reymond 3 course dinner went really well, and now for the starter course. I decided to choose something light and and refreshing, something that reminds me of summer - considering we have some nice warm weather coming our way. So here is the recipe for Fresh tomato Broth with Saffron and Ricotta Fritters. Of course photos and the full wrap up is on its way shortly.

Fresh tomato Broth with Saffron, Ricotta Fritter
Serves 4


1.5kg tomatoes, each cut into 6
1 celery stick, sliced
1 leek
3 shallots
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 red birdseye chillies, halved and deseeded
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 stick of lemon grass, crushed
400 ml of water
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon of sugar (or to taste)
1/4 bunch of coriander
1/4 bunch basil
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads


100g ricotta
1 teaspoon basil, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, chopped
2 teaspoon of semi dried tomatoes, cut into small cubes
salt and pepper


50g plain/all purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
35 mL soda water
10g melted butter
Note: The Beignet batter needs to be made an hour before being used


In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except for herbs and saffron. Cook gently at a low simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add basil and coriander and let herbs infuse for 5 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve and collect broth. Add saffron threads and let infuse for 5 minutes. Strain again and set aside until ready to serve.


In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, herbs and semi dried tomatoes and season. Roll into balls and set aside


In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and mix lightly. Add the soda water and gently whisk. Add the melted butter and mix

In a saucepan, heat the broth, but don't boil.

Heat a frying pan with enough oil to deep fry. Dip ricotta balls in the batter and coat well with a fork. Add to the pan and deep fry. Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb oil.

Pour broth in the bowl and place the ricotta fritter in the center.

NOTE: the broth is also delicious served cold as a very refreshing chilled summer soup

November 2, 2010

Results - Gougères

gougeres ready to be eaten

Gougères are French for yum!
* I thought I would do the smart thing and only make a half serve of the recipe. You know, there’s only Daz and I and I don’t want to be tempted with too many cheesy puffs lying around the house. I know that’s a common problem people could face, so I don’t want to subject myself to it. With these delicious puffy, cheesy clouds of joy Daz and I set a new record. They were all eaten before I even finished taking photos of them. Thats really impressive!! And then came the wave of more cheese puffs to snack on.

air pockets within the gougeres

This has got to be the easiest top 100 recipe I’ve tried so far. It seriously couldn’t be similar, prepare your ingredients, add them together in the assigned order, bake and eat. And yet I still managed to stuff it up!!

gougeres ingredients

The recipe calls for diced gruyere, so that’s what I did. But when I added it to the hot flour/butter/egg mixture the cubes of cheese weren’t melting like I had expected them to. Did I cut them too big? Did I fiddle and fumble too long and my mixture was now too cold for the cheese to melt? The recipe said nothing about chunky pieces of cheese in it. So I thought I would stir the mixture a little more. Still no difference. Ok, I’ll just spoon them onto the tray, cross my fingers and hope they’ll rise.....and thats what they did. But even better than that, the chunky pieces of cheese melted and then went all crispy and caramelised so in every gougère you would have a lovely big pieces of chruncy cheese...oh I’m in heaven. I totally understand now why Jacques said “Don't use other types of cheese or you won't get the right result”, its well worth the result. But I think my over mixing prevented my puffs from “cracking” like Jacques. A small price to pay, but I wont be making that mistake again!

cheesy gougeres bottoms

My other issue was that the puffs took alot longer than 25 minutes to cook. More like 35 minutes, in the end I took them out because I was frustrated by the wafting smell of cheese throughout my house making me extremely hungry, so they weren’t quite as dark as I would have liked. But that had absolutely no impact on the deliciousness of them!

What I really love about this recipe piping bag!!!! Usually with choux pastry you have to pull out the old bag and leave half of the mixture stuck to the side of your implement. Not in this case, all you need is a trusty spoon......oh oh....which means there are much more finger licking opportunities! Bonus score!

raw gougeres

Now I’m really looking forward to the next challenge of my three course Jacques Reymond meal. By the way I’m glad I’m having other meals in between the courses, that way there’s no chance of me starving, considering I’m only cooking one course every couple of days.

ready to be eaten

I’m definitely going to be making these again, although next time I’m going to fill them with crab!!!

*Not actually French for yum.....that's petit miam!

October 29, 2010


Restaurant: Jacques Reymond (Vic)
Recipe from Cuisine du Temps, Jacques Reymond
2011 Rating: Number 15, 2 Stars

jacques reymond book

I'm setting myself a challenge within a challenge. I recently purchased a copy of Jacques Reymond's book, Cuisine du Temps, for two reasons really 1) He's a hot, older French guy and 2) I'm a sucker for fine dining cook books. I was sitting on the couch flipping through my new purchase deciding on which recipes I wanted to try, so I thought wouldn't it be great if I could cook a three course meal using the recipes in this book. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to bring you a three course meal!! Lets start with something easy and most likely extremely yummy....the Gougères. Gougères are savory choux pastry puffs and can be often filled with a multitude of ingredients. In this case they will be serve filling-less. The gougères themselves have been on the Jacques Reymond menu for over 25 years, they gotta be good if they've been on the menu for that long.

So here's the recipe and a picture of what they're supposed to look like. Fingers crossed mine will turn out similar.



250ml water
150g butter, cut into small knobs
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
200g plain/all purpose flour
5 eggs at room temperature
120g Gruyere or comte cheese, dices in 1/2cm cubes. Don't use other types of cheese or you won't get the right result. Australian Gruyere is perfectly suitable for this recipe
extra egg, beaten, for egg wash


In a large saucepan put water, butter and seasoning and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. It is very important to keep stirring so the butter mixes in with the water; that way when you add the flour the dough forms immediately and it doesn't split.

Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the flour. Combine well and keep stirring for one minutes until dough is compact and well combined. Add eggs one by one using a small mixer at a low speed, or if you do it by hand, keep the dough in the saucepan it has been cooked in. It is very important to have the dough still hot while you incorporate the eggs. Once all the eggs are incorporated, fold through the diced cheese.

Using a tablespoon, spoon onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, with a pastry brush, egg wash the tops - ensure not to let the wash drip down the sides as it will prevent them rising evenly.

Bake in a preheated fan-forced over for approximately 25 minutes at 200C or 180C convection oven.

Take out of the oven as soon as they are cooked so they will stay crispy. Gougères can be eaten straight out of the oven or reheated as required.

This recipe is for 15-18 large gougères because once you put them on the table they will disappear in no time. You can make them any size you wish, but bigger is better.

NOTE: You can also freeze raw gougères. When ready to eat, put them straight into the hot oven, do not defrost them, and allow a few more minutes of cooking time.

October 25, 2010

Tea Rooms of Yarck

Tea Rooms at Yarck
6585 Maroondah Hwy
Yarck, 3719
(03) 5773 4233

spinning cup

Do you remember when you were a kid and doing silly stuff for a laugh was the best thing that could happen to you during the day? A favorite of mine while growing up were the giant spinning cups in playgrounds, where all your mates piled into the contraption and span it until someone starting crying out for their mum or someone vomited and then everyone would have to go home. Always such fun, I tell you what isn't fun.....riding one of these when your a little older, with freakish childhood balance control gone, and with a belly full of food. That's exactly what Daz and I did after a recent meal at the Tea Rooms of Yarck.

tearooms of yarck

Yarck is a 'blink and you'll miss it' town north east of Melbourne. In our case we made the trip out to Yarck specially for lunch. I'm not sure how many people randomly stop by for lunch. Judging by the amount of people that day, a fair few made the trip out especially from Melbourne. The space is bright, clean and really welcoming. We were lucky to snag a seat right next to the window in the back area of the restaurant. So to one side we had a view across the garden, to the other we had a view of the entire restaurant, which is always pleasing for me because I get to see other people enjoying their meals and I get a chance to have a look at the dishes I don't get to try myself.

tea rooms of yarck

The Tea Rooms don't have a menu, instead the chef comes up with a list of dishes based on the season. The dishes are then written on a massive blackboard in the middle of the dining area. The Kitchen staff are well versed and can answer any question at the drop of a hat. Considering the menu changes frequently, the wait staff are a well oiled machine. As a diner you can opt for a chef's menu, which consists of a taste of almost everything on offer that day, or choose al la carte. Daz and I opted for the al la carte, purely due to portion control. We had plans to go out to dinner that night and didn't want to end up too full to eat again. What we weren't planning on were the serving sizes, truly value for money I say!!

tea rooms of yarck blackboard

On arrival we were given a big bowl of flat bread, lightly drizzled with fruity olive oil. Seriously a perfect way to kick start the appetite. The bread was really crispy and towards the end Daz and I were fighting over the last remaining pieces.

flat bread

We ordered an antipastini to share as a starter, which included three individual components!!

antipastini platter

First we had the frittata, fluffy egg filled with broad beans, carrots and onions, served with radicchio leaves and Parma ham. So delicious!

vegetable fritatta

Octopus ragout, served with seared veal and tuna mayonnaise. The octopus was so tender, before it even hit your tongue the flesh was already falling apart. It was so saucy and not even a hint of fishy-ness. The veal was such a delight, matching it to the tuna mayo was just a stroke of genius. I wish I could have had a man sized portion of this dish.

octopus ragout veal_tuna mayo

As soon as we walked into the room there were plates of terrine laid out waiting to be carved and served. So I was extremely pleased to see that a slice was incorporated into the antipastini. It was pork terrine, with pieces of pistachios speckled throughout, served with some simple veggies and a beetroot salad. It was all delicious. I wish I could make a terrine that good.

pork terrine

We also receive a bowl of warm fluffy bread, with another smaller bowl of fruity olive oil. Just perfect to soak up all that ragout!

bread and olive oil

We also ordered another dish as a starter. Crudo di pesce, served with Kingfish and fennel tartare, watercress salad, yarra valley salmon roe. I can't remember which fish it was exactly, I'm assuming it was tuna, I should have written it down. The kingfish tarte was fantastic, tiny cubes of kingfish and fennel with a huge dollop of salmon roe on top. Surprisingly the salmon roe wasn't as salty as I had expected, so it added a nice balance to the entire dish.

fish carpaccio

For mains I decided to have the spaghettini granchio e bottarga, spaghetti with huge chunks of blue swimmer crab, chili, orange zest and sun dried mullet roe. This was delicious!!!!! Most times when you order a crab pasta there's very little crab meat to be seen. But not in this case, there was almost more crab than pasta. Both the pasta and crab were perfectly cooked, the sun dried mullet roe added a nice hint of salt and the chili just brought the whole thing together. Nothing better than a good old hit of heat.

crab and chili pasta

Daz ordered the Rollo de maiale. There was no way in hell Daz wasn't going to order this when the waiter described it as "suckling pig de-boned and stuffed with more suckling pig". It was the saddle stuffed with the leg from the pig, along with herbs, breadcrumbs and nuts. It also came with some roasted potatoes. The pig itself was so fantastic, still so juicy and tender, with the outer skin crispy and delicious. The potatoes had begun to soak up some of the juices which made them impossible to avoid. My only issue was that the potatoes were inconsistent, some were cooked well, while others were still undercooked. Not a massive deal.

Suckling pig roll

By this stage of the meal we were chockers. I contemplated not having dessert, but what was the point coming all the way out here without sampling the sweets. This is where Daz and I had a disagreement, I wanted to order the bomolini - small Italian doughnuts, while he wanted the gratinata - apple blackcurrant crumble. In the end Daz won, I think the promise of home made vanilla ice cream won me over. I'm glad I was swayed to the dark size, the crumble had luscious fruit topped with nuts, oats and huge pieces of crumb, not your average breadcrumb size crumbled, so when you took a bite your mouth was filled with generous amounts of each component. The ice cream was fantastic too, loads of egg yolk and vanilla bean. It was fantastic.

gratinata - apple blackcurrant crumble

I loved the Tea Rooms of Yarck. To be honest I didnt expect 'comfort food style' from them. There are only two things that I didn't like about it, firstly that I didn't pick the chefs menu and got a chance to sample more dishes, and secondly its so far away meaning a random pop by would be rare. I guess if I want a quick fix I could always pop by Da Noi in South Yarra, their sister restaurant.

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