Thursday, October 15, 2009

Aoli Adventures.

Aoli and chips. I lived for over 23 years without knowing what this tasted like, and now I know that they were wasted years. The only problem with the stuff is it changes everywhere you go. Cheaper places tend to taste like minced garlic from a jar mixed with mayonnaise, which while edible is not the best. I found some at the supermarket but it had a weird plastic-y taste to it, not very cool. I think the best I have had was at this new cafe in town which is in the old post office, or was it the council chambers? Eh, either way, I got some fish and chips and they gave me some mad perfect aoli, and home made ginger beer which sometimes visits me in my dreams, sigh. I figured that it tasted so good because they made it themselves and because they used all good fresh ingredients. And so the challenge was set.
I looked up a few recipes on the internet and ended up with this one because it had lime in the title and lime ALWAYS = win. Ive never made anything mayonnaise-y before so it freaked me out a little that I was going to make something out of raw egg yolks but I persevered. Yeah, I'm a trooper. After eating this, I definitely think that I, and all other people who ate this earned the right to be called troopers, man alive was this stuff garlicky! And not just like "oh no, I'm gonna need a tic tac!" garlicky, this had like, burning your taste buds levels of garlic. I put this on some fish, then i scraped alot off my fish, then I put some tomato sauce on my chips and went "what? did I accidentally get bbq sauce??" the answer was no, the garlic had just broken my tongue and everything tasted weird as a result. The only person who was a fan was Dad who even used it again the next morning on toast for breakfast. Supertrooper. I think that this recipe would be amazing with ALOT less garlic, that's why I'm sharing the recipe, I think it has potential, I hope you aren't too scared to give it a go!
Pouring in the oil, so so much oil... but i guess that's just how mayonnaise works...
Giving it a good mix, the oil kept gathering at the bottom where the blades couldn't get to it so I had to keep stopping it and giving it a stir.
All done! Looking a little like pureed curried eggs or something, eek. Wow, I'm just really talking this stuff up aren't I! I'm sorry, please ignore my descriptions, I think that with the changes I'm gonna make below we could have a real aoli winner on our hands. You have to trust me, imagine yourself standing on the end of the titanic, you are rose, i am jack, do you trust me? I promise this won't end with us freezing our bums off in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, promise.

Lime Aoli

From Taste (really great website, it has recipes from a few food magazines all in the one place. I always buy Super Food Ideas and Recipes+ but when I cant be bothered looking through these for dinner ideas I pop on this site.)

  • 2 limes
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2tsp dijon mustard
  • 250mls/1cup light olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (so many things wrong with this one, well, two, but they are two very big things. For one, WAY too much garlic, 6?? Really?? I cant believe I even believed this would be a good idea... The new wise Michelle would go for 2 cloves and have a taste. And for number two, i want my garlic to be as small as possible in this sort of thing so I crushed it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Finely grate the limes and reserve a little to garnish. (it says to julienne the rind of one of the limes, but like the garlic, i decided that smaller was better). Juice the limes and measure out 1 1/2T of the juice.
  2. Place the egg yolks, lime juice and mustard in a food processor.
  3. With the motor running add the olive oil drop by drop until the mayonnaise begins to thicken.
  4. Continue to add oil in a thin steady stream until well combined.
  5. Add garlic and grated lime and process to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I was expecting it to get thicker so left it processing for ages but it doesn't really need to, it's a sauce afterall!)
  6. Serve it out and garnish with leftover lime rind.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Fiesta of Paella, followed by a Siesta in a Sombrero.

Before I started this site I spent about a week trying to think of a name for it. I made lists and tried them out on my mum and sister. Some of the names were based around cupcakes and im so glad none of them were successful in the end. A site purely dedicated to cupcakes never would have allowed me to share this amazing recipe with you all, and that would be downright silly. This chicken paella has to be one of my favourite mexican dishes, it has so much going for it, the best of all being the chorizo, my goodness the chorizo. It's making me super hungee just thinking about it, and these pictures definitely aren't helping! The recipe is from this book I got when i was working as a checkout chick at woolies. It came glued to the back of some magazine, then when the next issue of the magazine came out we had piles of this lovely recipe book lying round, so I made puppy eyes at the nicer supervisors and managed to score a couple of them. Ill be forever grateful to those supervisors, and my puppy eye making skills. It is half mexican dishes which is sponsored by Old El Paso, and then you flip it over and get Latina product inspired Italian dishes. Basically its a huge advertisement for both companies but I don't mind at all, the recipes are really good and you can always substitute the ingredients for any brand you like. I've never made anything from the Italian side, probably because every time i get the book out i ended up getting distracted by either this recipe or the Baked Tortilla Beef stack which is on the same oil spattered page. Poor rest of the book, I'm sure you're good, but you just have nothing on these two babies, swoon. (Putting the action 'swoon' in type makes me worried that people think i'm actually saying swoon outloud. I think this comes from when I was teaching english in japan and a student was reading a dialogue and actually said "gasp!" I learnt very early on there how to laugh on the inside.)
My beautiful Chorizo, just before I cooked it to near burnt-to-a-crisp levels. Im a huge fan of burnt, much less scary than undercooked. And so lovely and crunchyyyy.

The colourful dish getting it's serve of garlic, using the world's best garlic crusher. I don't care if saying this makes me sound old: They just don't make them like they used to.

Looking like its going to turn out slightly un-delicious.

Leave it a while and then BLAMMO, the best mexican rice dish in the history of man. Actually I think this may be the only mexican rice dish i've ever had so I really shouldn't be making claims like that, but it's just. so. good.

All served up with some avocado and sour cream. I should really add lime into that description because the avocado mix probably has more lime in it than avocado, I do love limey avocado...

Fiesta Paella with Chicken

From Modern Mexican (I couldn't find any reference for this book through google searching so you just get the link to the Old El Paso website, sorry.)

Serves 4-5

  • 200g chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2cm slices (When i buy this in the deli section of the supermarket it's always like, 150g per sausage so I just round up and get two, it's not too much, it's just right! Plus I like to slice the sausage a bit thinner because i like it crispy but it's all up to you.)
  • 500g chicken (i always just get already cut stir fry chicken but you can get whatever kind you like and slice it up yourself if you like)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium capsicum, finely chopped
  • 1tsp turmeric (thanks to spellcheck i just found out that i have been spelling (and saying) this wrong since, forever. Tumeric. Turmeric. I like the mispelled way...)
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 375g jar Old El Paso Enchilada Simmer Sauce (or any brand, doesnt matter if the size jar you get it a little bigger or smaller. Also if you cant get simmer sauce just get burrito or taco sauce or something, im sure it will work well too.)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (I'm not a big fan of garnishes that do not add anything to the taste of the meal, it just seems silly to buy a bunch of parsley just so it can look pretty for to seconds before you mix it all up. So yeah, if you have parsley on hand and you are all about the parsley taste, go for it, but if not, it doesn't really make a difference)
  • Sour cream to serve
  • avocado and lime juice mixed together. (I use bottled lime juice and it does the trick.)

  1. Cook chorizo sausage in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until golden brown, then remove and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in pan, add chicken, cook until browned.
  3. Add onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook until softened.
  4. Add tumeric, cumin, rice, enchilada sauce and stock. Bring to the boil then cover, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.
  5. Return chorizo to pan, add peas and stir until well combined. Cover, simmer for 5 minutes or until the chorizo is heated through and peas are cooked.
  6. Serve with avocado and sour cream.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Now we're baking with yeast!

You know how a few posts ago i was going on about how i don't BAKE bake, like, i have no patience for bread baking and all that? Well, turns out my curiosity has overpowered my laziness. And now I'm here to tell you that while curiosity didn't kill any cats, it definitely resulted in some meeeean monkeybread. "Monkeybread?!" i hear you fellow Australians say, what the heck is monkeybread??" Well I'm here to tell you that it is not as weird as it sounds, its more, heavenly than weird. Yes, heavenly, that is definitely the word i was looking for. I've seen lots of recipes for it on American blogs, its usually made in a big loaf, and yeah, it didn't really appeal to me, then i saw this recipe on cupcake project. How did she make me take the leap? She did two things: She changed the loaf into cupcakes (probably the same amount of work, but shh, this is not the time to point out such boring things) and she added chocolate and banana to the mix. Genius. Deliciously inspired. All resulted in something that tasted like a doughnut, but better. Well, id better stop rambling and get to the process, there were alot of different steps involved but it was fun and totally worth it, heeere we go!
First thing first: open up the yeast. Second up is being weirded out by the yeast. Isn't it weird? I don't know why i feel this way, i just do. I guess i just pictured it differently...
After much mixing and kneading (i wasn't even TOTALLY sure how to knead, so i was pretty happy it worked at all!) i got this pretty little ball of dough. My little dough baby.
Then after an hour of letting it hang out on the bench it doubled! Magic! My little baby, all grown up!
Next up I got the cinnamon sugar ready. I was pouring out the cinnamon and noticed something weird (yes, weirder than the yeast, which is really saying something). I couldn't get a clear picture but look at the bottom lip of the jar, see those strands of cinnamon? It was like they were magnetic or something. You remember that toy, it is a little box with a mans face in it, with metal shavings, and you give him a beard and stuff? It was just like that, but without the facial hair fun, if anyone 'gets' science and knows what went on here, fill me in yeah?
So here is the ball of dough before i put the banana and chocolate in, just to help you get an idea of how big to make it. It fully doesn't matter though, make them bigger, littler, doesn't matter, but yeah, doing them this size i got 12 cupcakes and had a good bit leftover, so don't hold back.
Some of the prepared doughballs next to the tasty coating production line. With mine i kind of just placed the doughballs on top of one another and you'll see later how they turned out, kinda uneven, but i was still happy with them, i just ripped them apart anyway. Though if you look at the cupcake project's cupcakes they were like, a perfect little dome, if you re aiming more for that kind of look then i reckon you should try and put them in the case right next to each other... Let me know if it works...
So here they are just placed in, you can see the ones at the bottom starting to puff up already, probably lame but it was all very exciting at them time! ... okay, I'll admit it, i still think it's exciting, so here are some before and afters, prepare to be amazed by the magic of yeast!

After! They're just about taking up the whole case now!

Close up before...

Close up after! Pfoosh! (if it didn't happen so slowly i would imagine this is the noise they would make.)

Awesome stuff. Ive always thought being a professional baker would be horrible, those early mornings, bleh, but now i get it, they get to watch this sort of thing happen every single day, lucky bastards.

Sigh, isn't she beautiful?

Okay, one last thing, before you go down and look at the recipe i just want to say that i know it looks like there alot of mad steps, too much to do, too fiddly, but really, its not, i swear! You'll need a bit of time spare but everything involved is super easy and you will be so happy with them once you finish, promise!

Monkey Bread Cupcakes with Banana and Chocolate

Recipe from the Cupcake Project

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1/2 C lukewarm water
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T instant yeast or rapid rise yeast
  • 2 C - 250g plain flour (i only just realised recently that US cups and Metric Cups are a little different so that's why I've gone grams, for those who don't have scales just take out about 1tsp per cup, it usually doesn't make a difference but i thought with dough it might...)
  • 1/2C - 115g granulated sugar (i also just really like using my scales, that's why you're getting even more grams!)
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into small slices
  • chocolate chips or baking chunks to taste (55g) (This is what was recommended but I ended up using sooo much more than this! I just got a block of chocolate, cut the squares in half and put one piece in each ball)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted

1. Place water, vegetable oil, egg, salt, sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl and mix well.

2. Add 1 cup of the flour, stirring to blend.

3. Add the second cup of flour, stirring to make a cohesive dough. (I had no idea what a cohesive dough was, and google was no help, so i just mixed it till it looked good. I'm guessing cohesive is like the glue cohesive, so till the dough sticks together? smart?)

4. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.

5. Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until it's soft and smooth.

6. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and let the dough rise for 30 to 60 minutes or until it's doubled in size. (I left mine for an hour but only because i got a phone call, if i were one of those people who can balance a phone under their chin i so would have gotten to it earlier)

7. Gently deflate the dough.

8. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

9. Place cupcake liners into a cupcake tin and lightly grease them with butter or cooking spray. (make sure that if you spray them you do it as late as possible, i did mine a bit early and later realised it made the colour from the cases stain the tin! Weird...)

10. Pull off a small piece of dough. How small? You should get 24 pieces out of the batter so that you can have two pieces in each cupcake. However, unless you are having a dinner party for exactly 12 people, it doesn't really matter and you can make the pieces whatever size you would like.

11. Stretch the piece out, put a banana slice and several chocolate chips or baking chunks inside, and then roll it into a ball. (If this sounds a bit confusing make sure you check out the original recipe page, she has a picture of this)

12. Dip the ball in the melted butter.

13. Dip the ball in the cinnamon and sugar.

14. Put the ball into the cupcake liner. You should be able to fit two balls into each cupcake liner.

15. Cover the cupcake tin and let the bread rise for 30 to 60 minutes, until it's visibly puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 175C.

16. Uncover the cupcake tin and bake the monkey bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's golden brown and feels set.

17. While the monkey bread is baking, prepare the glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze

Also from the Cupcake Project

  • 1/2 C powdered sugar (i put in a little more cause it seemed a little runny and i didn't want it all to just pool at the bottom)
  • 1 T milk
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

1. Mix all of the ingredients together. 2. Drizzle over the hot cupcakes. 3. The cupcakes are best served warm. If you can't eat them immediately, reheat them in microwave for about 15 seconds before serving.