Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WWDH - Too Easy Blueberry Muffins

Chaya chose Donna's Too Easy Blueberry Muffins for Wednesday with Donna Hay this week.  You can find the recipe online here.

As the title of this recipe suggests, these muffins are super easy and can be mixed up in minutes.  The most fancy equipment required is a bowl and a spoon.

When I took these to work, I didn't expect any reaction because they were just basic blueberry muffins.  However, everyone loved them: 

I have to say that these homemade muffins beat the flavour of store bought ones hands down.  As they are so easy to make, I'd never bother buying a muffin again.

To see what our other WWDH members thought of these muffins, visit the LYL section of the WWDH website.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cosmo Cupcakes for Val's Birthday


Last Friday was Val's birthday, and I wanted to make her some cupcakes to celebrate.  Last year, I made her lemon daisy cakes, so I wanted some fresh flavour inspiration this year. 

Recently, I added Peggy Porschen's Cupcakes to my burgeoning cookbook library, and flicked through that hoping to land on the perfect cupcakes for Val.  My efforts were rewarded when I landed on Peggy's Cosmo Cupcakes recipe, inspired by the Cosmopolitan cocktail.  You can also find the recipe online here (I made a half recipe to get 12 cupcakes).  The Cosmopolitan always reminds me of Sex and the City, so I figured the Cosmo Cupcakes were spot on for Val.

Like the cocktail, Peggy's Cosmo Cupcakes are a cranberry and orange flavour combination, with the cranberry coming from dried cranberries and the orange coming from Cointreau and orange zest:

Peggy wanted you to soak the cranberries in Cointreau overnight, but I didn't have that time, so I put the cranberries and Cointreau in a small saucepan and simmered the mixture until the cranberries had soaked up the Cointreau.

Instead of just adding the orange zest to the batter and mixing, I rubbed the orange zest into the sugar before mixing to maximise the orange flavour.

Also, I mixed my cranberries through the batter instead of just sprinkling them on top of the cupcakes, to ensure that the cranberries  were distributed throughout the cakes instead of just resting on top.

Peggy tells you to make orange and Cointreau syrup to bump up the flavour by brushing the syrup on the hot cakes before frosting.  I skipped this step - it was not necessary, in my view.

Note that a half recipe barely made 12 cupcakes, so don't be over-generous when scooping out the batter otherwise you will fall short.

To decorate the cupcakes, I eschewed Peggy's cream cheese frosting and instead opted for my favourite Primrose Bakery buttercream, flavoured with orange juice instead of vanilla and tinted a peachy shade of orange with one drop of red and two drops of yellow liquid food colouring.   I piped the frosting on to the cupcakes in a rose pattern because I hate too much icing (which is what the "Mr Whippy" piping effect gives).

In keeping with the cranberries and orange theme, I made pink fondant flowers to decorate the  tops of the cakes using this mould, and secured a single white sugar pearl in the centre of each flower using a little water brushed onto the fondant.

Once the cupcakes were all done, I boxed them up in my last cupcake box and gave them to Val for her birthday.

I can't vouch for the flavour of these as I didn't taste them, but I received emails from people in Val's team at work and a Facebook message from Val that they were (and I quote), "YUM!"  I'll take that as a win.

Aren't cupcakes pretty?  I don't care what they say about the demise of the cupcake - I'll take one of these little beauties over a galumphing great cronut any day.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mamasita, Melbourne

With popular restaurants these days, it is not uncommon for them to not taking bookings.  This means it is first in, best dressed, and everyone else must either queue, put their name on a waiting list, or take a seat at the bar, depending on the establishment.  Mamasita is a very popular Mexican restaurant in Collins Street in Melbourne, and any day of the week, you will see a large line snaking its way from its unassuming entrance down the street. 

Tim and I had tried to go to Mamasitas once before with two other friends, but despite arriving at 6.30pm on a Saturday night, the wait time for a table of four was two hours, so we decided to go somewhere else.

However, on a recent weekend movie excursion, we decided to give Mamasitas a go with just the two of us for lunch.  Mamasitas opens at 12.30pm, and we were second in line, so we easily got a table.  On entering Mamasitas, you climb a narrow staircase into the restaurant, and are greeted by a bright wooden minimalist interior:  

To kick off proceedings, I ordered a Mexican Sol beer ($9):

The menu is designed for sharing, like a Mexican style family feast.  We ordered enough dishes for the two of us, which came out in no particular order. 

The first dish to come out was the Ceviche Verde ($8.80), consisting of lime-cured market fish, green tomato, jalapeño, cucumber, avocado and spring onion:

The ceviche was served with corn chips for scooping it up.  It had a lovely kick to it, not too overpowering, and was a great way to kick off our Mamasita exeprience.

Next up came the Tostadita de Frijoles (4 for $13.20):

This was a dish of dried tortilla chips topped with black beans, sweetcorn, roasted tomato and queso fresco (cheese).  They were very tasty, and I am a fan of black beans.

Next up came a dish we ordered out of curiosity, Plátanos machos ($7.70) - crispy plantains, cucumber, salsa and queso fresco:

Plaintains are not readily available in Australia, so I had never tried them before and was keen to do so. Tim had never heard of plaintains, so he had to rely on my description of "like bananas".    We enjoyed this dish - the fried plaintain was an unusual alternative to corn chips to scoop up the filling on top.
Our next dish was de Arrachera Taco ($6.60) - grilled flank steak, guacamole, tomatillo salsa and red onion:

What's not to like here - for us, the flavours were familiar, and this dish didn't disappoint.

Our final dish was the Quesadilla de Chorizo ($16.50) - wheat tortillas filled with chorizo, potato and queso fresco with jalapeño crema:

I really can't remember much about this dish, but needless to say, it can't have been bad because we polished it off.

The service at Mamasita was efficient and friendly, and the atmosphere was party like but you can easily chat with your dining companion.

Mamasita was a winner for us and we'd go again. 

11 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 96503821 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Salted milk chocolate brownies

Are you attracted by unusual flavour combinations?  I know that any flavour combination that sounds a little off the beaten track instantly gains my attention and makes me curious.  So it was with Ruby Tandoh's Salted Milk Chocolate Brownies, the recipe for which is online here.

Salted caramel has become commonplace, but salted milk chocolate is new to me, so I decided to give these brownies a burl.  I wanted to make sure that they were gooey in the middle but not too gooey, so even though my photos show that the brownie tops all cracked when I cut them, the filling stayed steadfastly in one piece, and was delightfully fudgy.  I count this as a win.

The salt and milk chocolate (Cadburys, in my case) complemented each other well, making for a brownie with a twist.  I would definitely make these again.

Friday, February 27, 2015

FFWD - Riviera Fish Soup

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Riviera Fish Soup.  It is a tomato based soup made from fish pieces and with flavour added from the fish head.

I bought a whole fish before reading the entire recipe and the reason behind the request for a whole fish (in case you were wondering, it was so you could boil up the soup with the fish head).  In retrospect, I should have just bought fillets.  I am not sure that the head added that much, and descaling and dissecting a whole fish was a pain in the butt.  My fish fillets were sadly ragged, and I ended up cutting them up with the kitchen shears because it was easier.  I made a half batch of soup only.

I find with Dorie's soups that my versions always end up too thick, and this was no exception.  It is so thick that it is visually unappealing.  I ate half the soup, and even though mentally I had logged that it tasted OK, I couldn't bring myself to eat the rest of this claggy concoction.  The very look of it put me off.  The fishy smell was also disconcerting.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this soup, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

EwE - Grilled Tandoori Chicken Breasts

For Eating with Ellie this week, Glennis chose Grilled Tandoori Chicken Breasts from Weeknight Wonders.

This dish as super easy to prepare, super quick to cook, and tasted wonderful.  The yoghurt coating kept the chicken moist and tender, and the flavours were everything that I like.  I served my tandoori chicken with stir-fried frozen veg.

To see what the other Ellie cooks thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WWDH - Pasta with pumpkin and sage brown butter

For our weekly Wednesday catchup with Donna Hay, Margaret chose pasta with pumpkin and sage brown butter from p18 of Off the Shelf.

This dish was as tasty as it was simple to make. The recipe called for different pasta to mine, but I don't eat heaps of pasta and I had pasta shells in the pantry, so that is what I used. The toasted sage and brown butter were the crowning glory of the dish.  Just remember that you need 30 minutes beforehand to roast the pumpkin first.  I seasoned my pumpkin before roasting and sprayed it with oil to give it some flavour.

I really enjoyed this, and enjoyed it again the next day for lunch with a can of tuna mixed through it before reheating.

To see what the others in our group thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Wednesdays with Donna Hay website.