Boeuf Bourguignon


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My brother, Michael, organizes a ‘world cuisine’ lunch or dinner were our friends and family can gather to catch up and enjoy good food. We pick a different theme each time we get together, the latest being French cuisine. We usually post on the Facebook page he created what each of us is going ot make, so we don’t make the same dishes. I choose to try the boeuf burguignon. Why did I chose this dish you ask?… well I forgot to prepare a meal and my husband kindly reminded me that the lunch was happening the Sunday just gone. Luckily, we were at the supermarket, so I quickly googled French cuisine and chose the first non-chicken based dish I could find (everyone else was doing chicken). I think this came out really nice. It is so simple to make and very tasty!

INGREDIENTS

1.2kg chuck steak, trimmed of fat, cut into 4cm cubes
1/4 cup plain flour
20g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g small button mushrooms
200g bacon, cut into 3cm cubes
12 eschalots or spring onions, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 cup red wine (such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon)
1 1/2 cups beef consomme or stock (preferably home made)
1 bouquet garni
flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, to serve

METHOD

Step 1

Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly coat meat with flour. Heat a large, ovenproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add 10g butter and 2 teaspoons oil. When butter and oil are sizzling, add one-sixth of meat and cook for 6 minutes or until well browned on all sides. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat with remaining meat, adding more butter and oil as required.

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Step 2

Add mushrooms to casserole and cook, stirring often, until golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside until required. Add bacon, eschalots and carrot to casserole. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden. Drain away any remaining oil. Pour wine and consomme into casserole. Bring to the boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen sediment on base of casserole. Return beef to casserole with bouquet garni. Cover and place in oven.

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Step 3

Cook for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and add mushrooms. Return to oven, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper. Spoon casserole onto plates, garnish with parsley and serve with Pommes Anna (recipe published soon).

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Try this for yourself and let me know what you think? What other French inspired dishes do you like?

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Devil’s Food Cake Recipe


You can never go wrong with a Devil’s Food Cake… I came across this recipe a very long time ago and I love it! The trick with this recipe (as with all) is to read all the way through first.

“While you’re making it, don’t panic. The mixture will seem very runny for ages once the chocolate has melted and you will think you have a liquid gleaming glaze, beautiful but unfit for purpose; leave it for about an hour, as stipulated, though, and it will be perfect and spreadable. It never quite dries to the touch, but this is, in part, what makes the cake so darkly luscious. Goo here is good.”

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Recipe by Nigella Lawson

for the cake:
50g best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
100g dark muscovado sugar
250ml boiling water
125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
150g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

for the frosting:
125ml water
30g dark muscovado sugar
175g unsalted butter cubed
300g best-quality dark chocolate finely chopped
2 x 20cm sandwich tins

Method

Serves: 10 – 12

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line the bottoms of both sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  3. Put the cocoa and 100g dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy; I find this easiest with a freestanding mixer, but by hand wouldn’t kill you.
  5. While this is going on – or as soon as you stop if you’re mixing by hand – stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.
  6. Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.
  7. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
  8. Divide this fabulously chocolatey batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.
  10. But as soon as the cakes are in the oven, get started on your frosting: put the water, 30g muscovado sugar and 175g butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
  11. When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.
  12. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting.
  13. Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula. You can go for a smooth look, but I never do and probably couldn’t.

 http://www.nigella.com/

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Blueberry Muffins


I was cleaning the house last weekend and had a sudden desire to fill the rooms with the smell of freshly baked muffins! Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked goods?!  I had some frozen blueberries and threw together a quick batch of blueberry muffins. It didn’t take long for the boys to come in the house from working in the shed, and ask how long they would be. A great treat!

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Recipe by Donna Hay
(makes 12)

Ingredients

2½ cups (375g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
½ cup (125ml) vegetable oil
1 egg
½ cup (125ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g fresh or frozen blueberries

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Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Place the oil, egg, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the blueberries and mix to combine.
4. Spoon mixture into a 12-hole ½-cup capacity (125ml) muffin tin lined with paper patty cases. Add extra blueberries to decorate the top and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Tell me… what’s the secret to your blueberry muffins? Lemon Zest? Sugar on top?

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Fruit Cake


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I recently made a wedding cake for one of my husband’s friends. They wanted a 2-tier cake with one tier being fruit cake. It’s not a big deal, but I’ve never made fruit cake before… so the experimenting began! I tried three recipes – all nice, but seemed bland. So, I took the ingredients I liked from each recipe and came up with a modified version. It’s not a dark fruit cake, but you can add Parisian Browning Essence if you like (I did this with my second attempt at fruit cake, and I didn’t like it much so left it out).

Ingredients:
975g Dried Mix Fruit (I used home brand)
400g glacé cherries, quartered
1 cup (250ml) brandy, plus 1 tablespoon to glaze
250g margarine
230g soft dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons golden syrup
4 eggs
350g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Method

Step 1
Put fruit in a bowl with 1 cup brandy and soak overnight.

Step 2
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Lightly grease a deep 22cm round cake tin. Line the cake tin with baking paper (sides and bottom).
Wrap a folded piece of newspaper around the outside of the tin and tie securely with twine.

Step 3
Beat the margarine and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters until just combined. Beat in the jam and golden syrup.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Step 4
Stir the fruit and the combined sifted flour and spices alternatively into the mixture.

Step 5
Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Tap the tin on the bench to remove any air bubbles. Dip your hands in water and level the surface. Sit the cake on several layers of newspaper in the oven and bake for 2.5hrs (the original recipe stated 3hrs, but I checked mine in 2 then 2.5hrs and it was truly done!). Bake until skewer comes out clean.

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Step 6
Brush with the extra tablespoon of brandy. Cover the top of the cake with paper and wrap in a tea towel.
Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Note:
Why the newspaper you ask? Because the cake takes a long time to bake, the newspaper will act as insulation to prevent the bottom and sides from over-baking.

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Mini Chocolate Cupcakes


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Ingredients:
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla essence
80g butter (unsalted)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chocolate bits (milk, dark or white)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line 24 hole mini cupcake tray.
2. Sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
3. Make a small well in the middle of the bowl and then add remaining ingredients (except chocolate bits).
4. Beat on low speed with electric mixer until just combined.

5. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat on medium speed for a further 2 minutes.
6. Add chocolate bits and mix with wooden spoon.
7. Place tablespoons of the mixture into 24 hole mini cupcake tray until 3/4 full.
8. Place tray into oven for 10-12 minutes or until baked through.
9. Stand for 5 minutes and then turn out onto wire rack to cool.
10. Ice with Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting or leave plain as desired.

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Mini Banana & Honey Cupcakes


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Ingredients:
200g butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (370g) caster sugar
4 eggs
2 3/4 cups (405g) self-raising flour
1 cup (250ml) milk
1/4 cup honey
2 over-ripe bananas (mashed)
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 mini cupcake baking trays with mini cupcake cases (makes 24 mini cupcakes).
2. Cream the butter and sugar until well combined and butter has become pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add honey and mashed bananas, and stir until combined.
3. Spoon mixture evenly among the cupcake cases.
(Fill to 3/4 full: this should create a ‘dome’ on your cupcakes. If you do not want to create a dome, fill to 1/2 way)
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorating:
In the pictures I posted, I use a simple vanilla butter cream frosting and top with a fondant flower to decorate. Otherwise, decorate as you like.
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