Chocolate Mousse Cake Bakealong

For the longest time chocolate cake was my baking nemesis. I could never seem to get it right. Either the cake would be too dry or the icing wouldn’t work, and after many attempts I remember years ago making a vow that I would never try to bake a chocolate cake again.

Well, then my daughter declared chocolate cake to be her favorite so I knew I had to make amends. Thanks to Tessa Huff (Style Sweet CA/The Cake Blog) and this Ghirardelli devils food cake that I have made so many times now I probably could bake it without the recipe, I have found that I can in fact make a good chocolate cake, so when King Arthur Flour posted the 18th Bakealong challenge – Chocolate Mousse Cake – I was super keen to give it a whirl.

Technically the challenge is Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries, but you can plainly see I’ve used strawberries – they are just so much cheaper at the moment, and I didn’t have a birthday or guests coming over to excuse spending $12 on raspberries for this cake. I actually made it as sort of a celebration of the finishing the first week back at school. Hey, any excuse for cake, right?!!

It was a very straight forward bake really – only changes I made to the cake were I used three 8 inch pans and the batter divided into 2 cups each and I added 2 teaspoons of espresso powder to the boiling water. I also used Greek yogurt over buttermilk, because I had more of it to spare.

For the mousse I didn’t use the Instant ClearJel stuff as I’m not sure where I’d find it in Australia – I did refrigerate the mousse before I filled the cake for a couple hours though. The frosting is full butter rather than half shortening because it is horrendously expensive here.

It was a hot day and I still managed to get everything together without it melting apart as I went, so I was pretty impressed given the recipe left me fearing the worst.

Aaron’s comment was that it’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made. The cake itself was great and I loved the mousse filling, but I must admit that I found the frosting too rich. Think I’ve become so used to Tessa Huff’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Ghirardelli’s Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache that it’s weakened my chocolate frosting tolerance levels.

The strawberries were nice, but I wish I could’ve gotten ahold of raspberries cheaper or had the foresight to go foraging for some wild blackberries instead, because I’ve been really into blackberries lately.

Not that I’m complaining though…this was the perfect way to end a big week!

Throwback Thursday: Ham, Pear & Blue Cheese Quiche from My Paris Kitchen

Throwback to July 2017 when Food52 Cookbook Club was going through David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen. It was such a pleasure to cook through this book and every recipe I try has been mind blowingly delicious. I checked it out from the library again recently (although I do own the Kindle version) and couldn’t believe I had not thought to look there for apricot recipes, including a recipe that uses the apricot pits that littered our house and backyard for over a month. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to try that next summer! I think this may be one of those books that you pick up and find something new each time you read it.

But today I’m going to share with you one of our favourites, that I could eat any day of the week – David Lebovitz’s ham, pear and blue cheese quiche. I’m only a recent convert to blue cheese so have been quite keen to try any recipe that features it. The flavour combination in this quiche really intrigued me and it is such a happy feeling when you try something that you are curious but skeptical of and it turns out brilliant. That is this quiche for me.

The pastry is a combination of cornmeal and flour with butter and egg. It’s mixed in a mixer then formed into a disc and refrigerated. When I rolled it out the first time it fell apart and so in future attempts I always just shape it into the tart pan with my fingers and then refrigerate it, no rolling needed.

The filling is pretty much as the title of the recipe suggests along with the basics of a quiche – eggs, cream, blue cheese and cream cheese, some cooked shallots (lately I’ve taken to just throwing in a cup of fried shallots because I bought too many at the Asian grocer and have no other use for them), seasoning, herbs, chopped ham and pear.  Bake it for about an hour until it’s set and eat up! (One thing I need to remember but always seem to forget is that the quiche seems to brown on top really quickly and so never looks as nice as the picture in the book – I think it should probably be covered with foil until the last few minutes of cooking to prevent that.)

I usually choose nights to make this based on what leftovers we have in the fridge. My younger two aren’t too keen on this dish but us older 4 love it so we easily eat the whole thing between us. Is it weird if I want to make this two nights in a row?!!

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Traditional Madeleines

Food52 Baking Club is going through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours this month so expect many many treats to be hitting the blog and Instagram. I have loved everything of Dorie’s that I have made so far from her two previous books that we’ve gone through and I am pretty sure this book will follow suit.

For my first bake, I finally tried out my new madeleine pan that I got for Christmas by attempting Dorie’s traditional madeleine recipe. It was really quick and simple to put together. Beating eggs and sugar with lemon zest and vanilla, then carefully folding in a flour mixture and then cooled melted butter. Refrigerate the batter for several hours and then bake in a hot oven for 11-13 minutes. Easy right?!

Well, I think madeleines are actually deceptively tricky, because I didn’t achieve the characteristic hump that you get from refrigerating the dough and I don’t yet know what I did wrong. Maybe the oven wasn’t hot enough or too hot? Maybe I overfilled the pan? But what I do know is that the recipe was yum (gobbled up in no time with our big family) and easy and I will try again to see if I can get it to work properly.

Dorie, I’m trying my best not to fail you!

 

 

The Food Lab: Eggs Florentine

Today’s Meatless Monday post is from my husband Aaron. Just FYI there will be a lot of Throwback recipes this month as it’s the 1 year anniversary of Food52 Cookbook Club.

There is a confession I need to make – I absolutely LOVE The Food Lab, and everything Kenji does, so I am biased. But I’m biased because his recipes (and ideas behind them) make good sense. There are a bunch of videos of his on YouTube for various things, including one that talks all about eggs. Just ask Jen. After watching said video, I spent the next hour or so telling her all about what Kenji had to say about eggs!

Eggs Florentine is basically a poached egg with cooked spinach instead of ham or smoked salmon on an English muffin covered in Hollandaise sauce. Kenji shows you how to ensure your mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce doesn’t split. It is probably the easiest Hollandaise I’ve made (and one of, if not THE tastiest). And out of the kindness of his own heart, Kenji gives you two methods to make the sauce – one for if you have an immersion blender, and another for the rest of us with standard blenders/food processors. Basically, you blend egg yolks, lemon juice and hot water, then slowly add melted butter to the blender/food processor to mix all the ingredients, and then season with salt and cayenne (optional). So easy and so nice!  The spinach for the Florentine was cooked with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper – nice and easy, and nice and quick…and again, very tasty.

As an aside, an awesome tip I got from Kenji on poaching eggs is, if you’re having more than a few friends over for brekky, you can poach the eggs the day before (he may have even said up to 5 days before, but I’d check that before trying it!), put them in iced water and keep them in the fridge, then on the following morning, pop them back into the simmering water for about 30 seconds and they will be right to go! Very handy instead of trying to evenly poach a dozen eggs at the same time.

I’d highly recommend The Food Lab’s Eggs Florentine for a very nice brekky, or in our case, for brinner (breakfast for dinner), as it was fairly quick, easy and VERY tasty.

Two Eggs Florentine

 

In My Kitchen: February 2018

January we were in full swing school holiday mode, with lots more busyness about the house for a change!

Anybody else have an odd cheap container that you have in multiples?! We picked up 10 of these from Kmart for $2 each last year for a Year 9 science project and I’ve found that they make the best containers for proofing bread doughs. Now I wonder how I lived without them.

Zucchinis and more zucchinis from work friends and playgroup friends. We love zucchinis so will never refuse!

Another generous gift, a small jar of raspberry rhubarb jam. Had this on toast for breakfast quite regularly this month.

Sick company while making a birthday cake for my now 12 year old. Our poor gorgeous daughter refused to lie down anywhere more comfortable unless Aaron or I were with her.

Speaking of birthday cakes – this special boy of mine chooses the same flavour every year, caramel apple, no matter that it’s January and that’s more of an autumn flavour, his wish is my command. (Notice that 24 hours later, the princess is smiling again!)

And here she is with her morning cup of tea…what is this habit that we have started (don’t worry, it’s camomile)?!!

Every time I grab a recipe from this card file I want to smile and cry at the same time. These ladies gifted me this at my bridal shower almost 17 years ago and I wish we weren’t separated by a great big ocean all the time.

The 2 year old sampling the results of that previous recipe. We picked up this learning tower second hand a few months ago from a lady who made it but it didn’t suit her kitchen – and it even matches our bench tops!

Care package from my mom included this cute little packet of gingerbread peeps. I love marshmallows more than just about anything so these were a lovely afternoon tea treat one day. Nevermind that they’re like 100% sugar.

A present given to one of the kids that graces my kitchen window. To me it’s a little piece of home.

Teenage invaders. We found these recliners on gumtree for a steal and bought them to go in their bedroom under their loft beds so they had a place to sit and chill and read. They spent a fair bit of time this month playing Mario Odyssey in front of the aircon instead, well, until the tennis started and they got kicked out.

My current cookbook spot with library books, food magazines and a few extra books from home.

 

Thanks to Sherry’s Pickings for hosting the In My Kitchen link up for this month. To learn more, click on the logo to the left.

Throwback Thursday: Zucchini & Orange Marmalade Tea Cake from Tartine

Throwback to September 2017, when the Food52 Baking Club was going through Tartine Bakery’s book. I could not get my hands on it, despite it being in our local library’s catalogue, so I ended up spending a lot of time just drooling over what other people were making.

The library actually had pulled it from the collection and chucked it in their annual book sale, I guess because they’d decided it wasn’t worth having on the shelf anymore. I ended up buying it for $2! Only trouble was that it was missing 2 pages. Flash forward to yesterday when I spotted the Kindle book on sale for $5. So now I’ve got two versions of it!

Anyhow, we’ve been graciously given so many zucchinis this month, so I’ve been starting to get creative as to how to use them so we don’t get sick of the old faithful recipes. And I remembered a lot of people raving about this tea cake, loaf cake, quick bread, whatever you want to call it, so I thought it would be worth the risk since it was a cooler day to give it a try.

This batter was crazy easy to put together. I used my stand mixer, even though I really could have done it by hand. You beat eggs, oil, sugar and marmalade together, then add in zucchini and salt and then your dry ingredients and toasted walnuts. I toasted them while I was grating the zucchini as the oven preheated. I sprayed my loaf pan and then poured in the batter and sprinkled on a bit of sugar for a nice, sweet top crust. In the oven for 70 minutes, and voila!

The flavour combination was so unusual to me when I first saw it, but having tasted it, boy oh boy, is it a winner! I will definitely be making this again and again when I have zucchinis on hand. Aaron asked if I could make sure that the coworker who gave us only some of the zucchinis we’ve been given could try it and I thought it would be cool to buy the mini loaf pan I saw on sale in January   at David Jones to make miniature versions so he gets a whole cake rather than a portion of a slice. So when I say making it again and again, I mean I’ll be doing it again this weekend even!

Peek-a-boo!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Boeuf Bourguignon with Buttered Peas and book review

For the final recipe of the month, I chose Julia Child’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon. Because we still don’t have our oven fixed (I know, right!) I adapted it with help from this recipe so we could use our slow cooker instead.

It’s a long recipe, but no part of it is difficult. You chop up an onion and a carrot and the beef and you cook them in some oil and butter, then chuck them in the slow cooker with herbs and beef stock and red wine and cook them for 8 hours on low. Then about an hour before it’s done, you cook the mushrooms and onions (and the boiled potatoes) separately to bring together at the end of the cooking time.

The only trouble we had with cooking it this way is that at the end of the cooking time when we drained the liquid to put in a pot to reduce for a sauce, there was still SO much liquid left. Like none of it had evaporated at all. This wasn’t too much of a problem, it just meant that it took longer to get the sauce we were after.

I stirred the boiled potatoes in with the meat and other vegetables, because to be honest, I’m not a big fan of boiled potatoes and figured this would be the best way to give it more flavor and make it more palatable to my taste.

We served it with buttered peas from the book, adapted again by using frozen peas and cooking it in the microwave. I couldn’t be bothered shelling peas and cooking them another way, and these were really scrummy and seem to have become a regular side dish for us at the moment.

It seems strange to try to review Mastering the Art of French Cooking based on only 4 recipes. What I can say is that everything we’ve made has been fabulous, and that each recipe is very comprehensive. I appreciate the nostalgia of the book, and love the cuisine, but wish that we had done this at a different time of year since I live in Australia and it is the middle of a hot summer. I’m sure that I’ll return to the book in the colder winter months to try out a lot of the recipes that the Food52 Cookbook Club members in the Northern Hemisphere were making that looked delicious, but for me, I really wanted to try a variety of recipes and savoury, but everything summery seemed to be eggs and desserts. The only criticism I have is the lack of photos. I understand why this is, but when you’re working from just a recipe title and most are in French, photos would make it much easier to browse and choose things to cook.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Creamy Sundried Tomato & Spinach Pasta

This is one of those recipes that I had on Pinterest for ages before I tried it, but after I did, it quickly became part of our regular vegetarian meals since the kids love it and it literally takes 10 minutes to make. Because I have to cook for a big family though, I’ve obviously had to adapt it from the original recipe in order for it to feed us all.

First, on a back burner, prepare 500 grams of wholemeal pasta according to the instructions (I use spirals because they cook in 6 minutes). While that’s happening, in a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil and brown 1 diced onion and 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Then add 1 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes and 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add 3/4 cup of light sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup of light Greek yogurt and stir to combine.

Add roughly 3 cups of baby spinach (I just guesstimate – 2 big handfuls) and season with salt & pepper.

Leave that to wilt while you drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, then stir everything together and voila! You are ready to dish up dinner.

We like to top ours with grated parmesan (and lots of red chilli flakes for the adults).