Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Chocolate, Pistachio & Dried Cranberry Slice...

I am off to Susy's for dinner and I thought I would take a little something to have with our coffee.

This is a recipe that appealed to me because of it's ease but I did alter it a little... I have included dried cranberries and milk chocolate to ease the bitterness of dark chocolate, naturally I have ALSO added cream just so things are really smooth...

350g dark chocolate
250g milk chocolate
150ml cream
1 can of condensed milk
30g butter (unsalted)
150g pistachios
200g dried cranberries

In a bowl, break up your chocolate, add the condensed milk, cream, butter and a pinch of salt, now zap this in the microwave for 1 minute check it then go for one more minute. Stir this to see that all the chocolate is melted and and you mix is smooth. Add your cranberries and pistachios. I did cut my pistachios in half so as to ensure that I would get to see the green interior but it is not necessary.

Line a tray with silverfoil and pour your mix in smoothing the top. Refridgerate until set. Slice and serve.

Vida x

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Lemon Creams with Cherry Compote...

Not sure how well this translates in pictures but take my word for it, it was yummy. Very refreshing, creamy, smooth, sweet and tart at the same time and just so easy!!

I put it in my white "love dove" mould which I got at an op shop years ago. I usually hangs on my kitchen wall when not in use. I spooned it out into serving plates and this is such a soft set that I was afraid it would not hold it's shape. If you really wanted it to shape, you could try using gelatin leaves... I think it's one sheet per cup of liquid...

875ml or 1 1/2 pt double/thick cream (35 per cent fat content)
finely grated zest and juice of 2-3 lemons
170g or 6oz caster sugar

Cherries to serve, I had both fresh and compote. I had purchase the compote in a deli and they were very sweet but richly coloured. I also used ginger biscuits to serve with for added texture.

In a saucepan, heat the cream to 75C or 165F. Remove from heat and cool to 65C or 150F.

Add the lemon zest, juice and sugar to the cream mixture and mix well. Allow to cool, then pour into moulds, glasses or bowl. Now refridgerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

You have to love a recipe that has only three basic ingredients and takes less than half an hour to get ready as well as being able to make it in advance!!! It is perfect for this time of year when you want something cool for after lunch or dinner.
I was having new friends over for the first time and I served this with "steak sandwiches". I bought an extra large baguette and filled it with fillet steak, caramelized onions, mayonaise, seeded mustard and mixed baby lettuce. I think I was supposed to add tomato but I did not get around to it but you feel free to do so... I served the baguette whole on a wooden chopping board and allowed my guests to cut "slices" and serve themselves. I hope they enjoyed it... they were far too polite to say they didn't... I had invited them over for a drink and in the end, drinks were exactly what I forgot to serve... all afternoon without so much as a glass of water and it was 35 degrees outside at the least... I am NOT the hostess with the mostess!!!

Vida x

Monday, 3 December 2007

That was Latin America now we head to Central America...

Dr Pepper... this is for someone else, not my cup of tea!!
Now these are more me... I can decorate my cakes..
These are just for fun...
Marshamallow spread, well that is more cake decorating!!!

Just a few of my favourite things...

Vida x

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Chile 3... Argentina 1... Goal...

Well I think I might have found a new career... a tour guide is what I was today to some blogger friends... We visited 3 Chilean bakeries and 1 Argentinian... I even managed to sneak in a visit to an Italian deli... I think I had some happy customers... not to mention the shop owners when my guys started their buying frenzy...

First point of call was Haley's, this is the oldest of the Chilean bakeries... We could not buy any Chilenitos (biscuit wedged together with dulce de leche then covered in meringue and lightly baked) because they had just sold the entire tray to one man... never fear this was only our first stop...
Secondly we headed to Empanadas las Penas... these guys do the whole bread and cake thing too but they specialize in empanadas (chilean pies, filled with mince meat, onion & spice mix, olives and a slice of boiled egg)... this is the more traditional type they also had on offer a seafood version and the cheese which is deep friend whilst the previous two are oven baked...
Next stop Argentina... we strode in and our heads were dizzy with the sweet smell of pastry, all vanillery and toffee-esque... I was immediately transformed to childhood and I swore I smelt the scent of fresh ice cream, all milky and creamy... I was almost a baby suckling.... no, please, no visuals... we cannot go there!!! It was just the sweetest smell... here they had lots of little bitty cakes filled with fruity jams, creamy custards and caramel...
Last stop transported us back to Chile with a cake shop called Marciano's... Marciano walked in shortly after us and I teased him about his ever whitening hair... maybe it was flour but somehow I doubt it... here we could have Chilenitos galore and pan de pasqua (Christmas bread), filled with dried fruit and very pengent and spicy, we noted cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in our tastings that Marciano's daughter offerred us...
So it goes like this, Hayles for Chilenitos, Empandas at Las Penas (the do the best empanadas) and lots of imported liquor, chillie paste, mayonaise, jams, soaps, baby perfume, and chewing gum, Monica's (Argentinian) for little cocktail pastries and Marciano's for birthday and special occassion cakes. They do them filled with dulce de leche with flakey pastry, or sponge with pineapple and syrup, or tea enfused sponge, apricot jam and dulce de leche then the whole thing is covered in merengue, the soft Italian type, delicious. I had in tow Thanh and Furry, the lovely Ella (Purple Goddess) and they seem enraptured... Furry had indeed lived around these very parts and Thanh does so now and neither believes they would ever have found these places on their own... they had no idea such bakeries existed and in their own backyards... I was pleased to share my bounty...

Last and very quick stop was Clayton Road Deli where we were in an Italian nirvana... all the pannetone one could wish for, the cheese of the pizza gods, seeds for those who have to grow their own vegies and basil, vinegar, rice, flour, PASTA by the shelf load, no quince paste but there was sweet potato, there was guava, there was... well I don't remember what else there was but it was plentiful.... I left my friends at this point to pick up my Ella Bella Ballerina... my work was done...

Vida x

Friday, 30 November 2007

Yoghurt Cake in thanks to Mrs Stickyfingers...

Mrs Stickyfingers of http://www.deepdishdreams.blogspot.com/ was kind enough to give me a recipe of a cake she posted on her blog, even though she was extremely busy when I asked, she somehow found the time and energy to post the recipe and I am extremely grateful. So it is with gratitude that I post this recipe in exchange.

I will start by saying that there are many versions of Turkish yoghurt cakes. This version is like a light, airy, lemony cheesecake and comes to us curtesy of Claudia Roden.

4 large eggs, seperated
100g caster sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
Grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
400g Greek-style yoghurt (I got mine at Cleo's deli at the Prahran Market) try King Island Dairy as a substitute but not the white, sour, Greek yoghurt from the supermarket, it's just not nearly as luscious, AND as Mrs Stickyfingers once described me as luscious (or did she say I was a lush?!?!?) then we must use luscious yoghurt and nothing else!!!

Heat oven to 180 c

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a thick, pale cream. Beat in the flour, then the yoghurt, lemon zest and lemon juice until thoroughly blended.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the yoghurt mixture. Pour this into a round non-stick baking tin (about 23cm) greased with butter or lined with baking paper. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top is brown. This cake will puff up like a souffle', then subside. Let it cool, then turn out onto a serving plate.

I serve this with more yoghurt and a citrus salad or you can use cream or ice cream. Today I added blueberries to bring out the colours in the serving plate.

Enjoy Mr and Mrs Stickyfingers.

Vida x

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The apple never falls far from the tree...

I was off to pick up Ella from dancing and I promised Alana when I got home I would make Yo Yo's for her. She had tried them at a friend's house a few weeks before and thought them yummy. My usual reply was "we can do that"... It's become a catch cry with me, I seem to think my girls can do or make anything...
She asked me to leave the recipe with her to look at before I went... I got back home to this!!!

My clever girl had made them AND what it impressed me the most is she said "mum I remembered to take photos for your blog"... well I beamed with pride... there was my girl supporting me little addiction to blogging!!!!

Note the little blooms for decoration, the glass of milk as a serving suggestion, two shots from different angles, man she had it all covered, the before icing and the after icing... the sliding of one biscuit off the other to properly show the filling... this girl is going places... The Grasshopper has surpassed the Master (if only I was one) and all is good!!!
Like Mother, like Daughter...

Vida x

185g butter
60g icing sugar
60g custard powder
185g plain flour

2 tablespoons of butter, softened
4 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 160 c.
For the biscuits, cream the butter and icing sugar until pale. Sift your dry ingredients and mix into your creamed butter and sugar mix.

Roll teaspoonfuls into balls and place on tray. With a fork, flatten your biscuit mix slightly by dragging the fork across, thus giving a pattern too.

Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes.
Leave on tray for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Slide off tray onto wire rack to cool completely.

Cream all ingredients together and use to sandwich two biscuits together, giving you a Yo Yo.


Nigella Express...

For those of you foodies that are interested, Nigella Lawson's new book Nigella Express is going for half price at Borders.... around $35... I am off to get one now, I figure at the price I cannot go wrong... That is Australia anyway but I did not for those of you from England that Amazon also has it at half price around 12 pounds 50, from memory...

If you want a sneak peek, http://www.sarah-cooks.blogspot.com/ has been putting up a few posts about it...

Vida x

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Roast Pear and Green Bean Salad with Red Wine Poached Fillet...

Today I had lunch with the lovely Paul, from http://www.eatmefood.blogspot.com/ and he had a salad with green beans in it and it reminded me to put up this post. This one is for you Paul... I give you the measurements and details here but I warn you I am not always a rule player. The recipe called for cream in the dressing so I used sour cream, it said red wine vinegar but I used balsamic, it said to measure out the said ingredients but I didn't... Then for the meat, well I just did whatever I thought was easiest... I bound the fillets with string but I doubt it makes any real difference... I used black peppercorns, thyme, garlic, red wine and stock... The liquid should be at a simmer, it must cover the meat completely and you cook it for 6-10 minutes depending on whether you like it rare, (6) medium (8) or well done (10) and then you remove the meat and keep it warm... take out some of the stock/wine and reduce it to a third of it's original volume, take it off the heat and stir in a few cubes of butter (2-3 teaspoons), adjust the seasoning and pour over your meat... I serve this with the bean salad, some chat potatoes boiled in their jackets and smashed, seasoned and buttered... it was a nice meal... Vida x


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sour cream

Place all ingredients in a screw-topped jar and shake well.


3 firm beurre bosc pears
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
30g caster sugar
800g green beans, topped and tailed
50g hazelnuts chopped

Preheat oven to 180C

Cut each pear into halves and then each half into thirds.
Lay pears on a roasting pan and drizzle with 3 TB oil and the red wine vinegar and sugar. Roast for 20-25 minutes until soft.

Toss the beans in 2 TB oil and put in a single layer on another baking ban. Roast for 20 minutes (or alternatively, quickly blanch or microwave beans to partly cook until just crunchy.)

Cool to room temperature and combine with dressing. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts.

Serve immediately. (I don't even follow this rule).... V x

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Semifreddo for Thanh!!

Thanh paid me some lovely compliments and this is my way of saying "thanks".

This is what we are making...This is what you need plus...
One cup of whipped cream...Lets get started...

Pistachio, Rasberry and Rosewater Semifreddo...

6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons rosewater
200 gm raspberries (more to serve and garnish)
3 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

Beat the egg yolks and honey together with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until thick, pale, creamy and doubled in volume. Lightly fold in the whipped cream and rosewater.

Line the base and sides of a 1 litre loaf tin with plastic wrap, leaving the sides overlapping so you can use it cover and also lift the semifreddo out.

Freeze for 1-2 hours, or until partially frozen, then remove from freezer and stir through the raspberries and pistachios. Recover with the plastic wrap and return to the freezer until completely frozen.

Before serving leave it to soften in the fridge for about 15 or 20 minutes. Slice and serve with extra raspberries.
This can easily be made the day before a dinner party leaving you free to enjoy the meal knowing dessert is done.

It is a very simple dessert to make and has good "wow" factor. You could do these in individual ramekin or dariole moulds lining them in cling wrap. You could change this to honey and walnut, also all the glace fruits look like jewels on slicing and also have good "wow" factor. Use your imagination and give this a go...
P.S. the 6 egg whites can now be used to make a pavlova. Pavlova can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. If it crushes over the time you have it store, just make Eton mess, which is pavlova crushed and whipped cream and fruit on top. As a final layer I put toasted slivered almonds for a crunchy texture.
If anyone has a request for a recipe, please let me know and I will do my best to post it...
Vida x

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Bloggers Night Out...

We Aussie bloggers got together last night thanks to Ed from http://www.tomatom.com/ who organised it. It was fabulous to see faces we had never seen but imagined in our cyber minds. These were my meagre contributions... it was quite a feast had last night... people were extremely generous and very talented...

These are haloumi cheese parcels, haloumi with some greek oregano and a little strip of chilli wrapped in roasted red capsicums and tied with chives, a drizzle of lemon and I think they were good, I didn't get a chance to try any as they went quickly... I am proud to say there were none left so I hope they were enjoyed...

My chocolate sour cream cake was enjoyed by Sarah http://www.sarah-cooks.blogspot.com/, VERY thrilling because she is a great baker...
Goats cheese pizza with roasted eggplant, pinenuts and chocolate balsamic sauce was all eaten up too... I was extremely nervous and almost left my food hidden in my basket when I saw what was on offer... But I am glad I got up the courage to put it all out and share it with everyone...

I have only posted what I brought as I imagine everyone wants to show their own food.. I thoroughly enjoyed the fabulous pizzas, the glorious macaroons, muffins with walnut topping were to die for, macaroni with cheese that was delicious and presently in the cutest way... barramundi that smelt like heaven.... Ed's decadent chocolate and banana pizza, yum... there was so much food and it was all delicious...

I loved meeting you all and I especially thank you Ed for allowing us all to meet and enjoy a great night in a fabulous place...

I don't do the night justice with my explanations but check out Ed's sight for the names of those who attended and their blogs will give details too and Ed has posted 100 photos from everyone's cameras onto Flicker...

Vida x

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Slimming Summer Salad...

We had had some lovely summery days and these days call for salads... honestly that is the only reason...

Well maybe... because the doctor is on my back to lose weight and reduce my cholesterol etc...

So Asian salads seem to be the best way to go and this one was pretty good...
400g fillet steak
marinated in 4 tbls of hoi sin sauce for a couple of hours.

200g glass noodles soaked in boiling water then refreshed with cold water and drained

I lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup corriander leaves
2 long red chillies finely sliced
4 tbls crushed roasted peanuts
2 tbls fried shallots

3-4 tbls grated palm sugar
juice of 2 limes
3 tbls fish sauce

Fry off beef. (I had sliced this thinly and it only took a couple of minutes)
Put cucumber, chillies, corriander and noodles into a bowl and dress with the dressing. Add your beef and mix it all up as best you can. Lastly scatter peanuts and shallots over the top and munch away....

Vida x

Friday, 2 November 2007

Panna Cotta with Rose Wine Jelly...

I had some Rose open that I had not particularly liked so I cooked it up with some sugar, added the gelatine and lined some dariole moulds (I got some plastic ones for 75cents each at Essential Ingredient)

I then made the panna cotta, this is the easiest thing in the world. Heat up 250ml cream with 1/3 cup of sugar and a vanilla bean. Soak 1 gelatine leaf in cold water and add it to the cream and take it off the heat. Take out the vanilla bean. Once it's a little cooled and the wine jelly is set in the fridge, gently add the panna cotta layer and leave to set. To turn it out I put the bowl into some boiling water for a few seconds to soften it and then turn it out. If you feel it won't work try running a knife around the edge.

I was rumaging around trying to find something to decorate my plate and went out onto the balcony and there was my rocket seedlings sprouting up and guess what... I thought they looked nice... I am sure that Tobie Puttock once used purple basil sprouts to decorate a dessert and Jamie uses thyme in cakes so.... the peppery smell and taste was odd with the jelly and cream but beggars cannot be choosers.... V x

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Please sir can I have some more.... Vida

October's issue of Gourmet Traveller had caught my eye. It's RED cover was a huge drawing card (my favourite colour) and it read Taste of Spain...
Sumptuous seafood feast
Melbourne's (amazing) MoVida
Modern tapas & sexy saffron
Churros, paella... all the classics
You get the picture, I mean I see my name in lights and I am off... no I am joking, it's that MoVida just happens to be named after me..... NO NO NO, I am just joking again, though the poor waiter in the restaurant did believe me briefly and I spotted him checking my credit card and wondering. MoVida is a wonderful spanish restaurant in Melbourne. My favourite in fact with Lola coming up a close second, but Santiago has the best hot chocolate.
Vida in Spanish means "Life", not that my parents had any idea of that when they named me. It is a shortened version of my paternal grandmother's name and she had passed away just prior to my birth. My father gave me the name. His mother had died very young and she was very loved and sorely missed. Obviously I never met her but I am told I look very like her. I did see photos but it's hard to see yourself in someone you never met.
I went on to marry a man who speaks Spanish and all I can say is, life is funny!! Sometimes I believe our paths are set....
Anyway this was just a little something I wanted to share with you all.... I think Paul and Chef Jules will appreciate this story...
Vida x

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Cheese cake...

Just your average New York cheese cake but I liked that the egg yolks were mixed in with the sugar, cream cheese and sour cream and then the egg whites were whipped up to soft peaks with some sugar and then folded into the whole mix before baking. It resulted in a much lighter cheese cake and great texture.

The recipe instructed I use a 28 inch pan but I only had 26 so it made for an extra high cake but it looked and tasted great.

Vida x