Sunday, June 30, 2013

Italian Mozzarella Stuffed Arancini

I'm going to be perfectly honest with you here.....when I made the Italian Mozzarella Stuffed Arancini last week, I was expecting them to be a little bit average.

I mean don't get me wrong, I thought they would be lovely, but I was kind of thinking they might be a little bit bland and altogether un-blog-worthy.....

As it turns out, they were incredible.

My previous favourite caramelised onion risotto ball recipe has been cast aside in shame and replaced with these little flavour packed babies.

But I have to admit, in my pre-dinner non-believer state....I didn't take a photo of them. But earlier that week  I did get this photo of the super moon through Mr B's telescope so I figure that pretty much makes us even.....

To make these Italian Arancini you will need:

1 tbspn oil
3 cups of chicken stock
3/4 cup arborio rice
1 onion, diced
1 tspn crushed garlic
1 tbspn Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
1/3 tspn chilli
200g Mozzarella (cut into 12 cubes)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbspn butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

To begin we need to make our risotto. This is best done the night before as it needs to spend some time chilling out in the fridge.

Heat oil in a fry pan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 mins.

Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 mins.

Add the rice and stir to combine.

Add 1 cup of stock and cook until absorbed. Repeat with remaining 2 cups of stock. This should take around 15-20 mins. The rice should be tender, but still firm to bite. If the rice is not yet cooked, add another 1/2 - 3/4 cup of water and cook until absorbed.

Stir through the chilli, herbs, parmesan and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool in the fridge overnight.

To assemble your arancini you will need to begin by pre-heating the oven to 160C.

Form tablespoons of the risotto mixture into a ball and press a cube of mozzarella into the middle. Ensure the mozzarella is completely covered by the risotto or it will leak out during cooking.

Roll the arancini in the panko breadcrumbs and place on a greased oven tray. Lightly drizzle with oil and bake for 15-10 mins or until crisp and golden.

Serve with salad and steamed vegetables.


Mrs B xx

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mr B's Brandy Snaps with Coconut Cream Filling

Today I'm going to hand you over to Mr B because he has been busy in the kitchen whipping up some delicious creations and I think he deserves all of the credit for them!

Hello BLOGASPHERE its MR B again.
So Sunday I was torn between digging a hole outside or doing some fancy work in the kitchen and as you can see the kitchen won . Turns out that making brandy snaps is really easy, the worst part is waiting the ten minutes for them to be ready to roll but when they are ready its all systems go and as I found out its all in the timing. You either burn your fingers or they go solid before you can roll them so you have to be on your game and yes I found this out the hard way LOL. All good though - the end product is welll worth it .Well I'm going to let MRS B tell you how good they are and im moving on to the next big thing so goodbye for now!

Mrs B here again - these were hands down the best brandy snaps I have ever had. I have had this recipe floating around in my collection for years now and I've always been too unsure to make it, but Mr B was not even slightly deterred and despite my hesitation, decided he would tackle it all by himself.

Mr B's Brandy Snaps

115g butter (salted)
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbspn brandy
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 tspn ground ginger

Preheat oven to 160C and line a baking tray with a silicone mat or baking paper.

Combine the butter, golden syrup, caster sugar and brown sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Allow the mixture to bubble and cook until butter is melted and sugars have dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Working quickly, stir through the flour, ginger and brandy until combined and mixture is smooth.

Spoon tablespoons of the mixture onto your baking tray - I would stick to around 6 per tray (and only one tray at a time) as they will spread out in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes. You want them to be nice and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the bench for 2-3 mins. Keep an eye on them though because they will start to harden up fairly quickly. As soon as you can remove them from the sheet without them stretching too much, you are good to go.

Remove the brandy snaps from the baking tray one at a time and drape them over the handle of a wooden or metal spoon. Press the edges together to seal. Gently slide the brandy snaps off of the handle and place on a plate or tray to cool. If you find that some of your brandy snaps go solid before you have a chance to mould them, simply place them back in the oven for 30 seconds and they will soften right up.

You will see the set up Mr B had in the photos below, it was really effective and meant that both hands are free for rolling and shaping.

Repeat with remaining brandy snaps and remaining mixture.

 Coconut Cream Filling (both chocolate and brandy versions)
For the chocolate version you will need:
1 400ml tin of full fat coconut cream
1 tbspn cocoa
1 tbspn icing sugar

And for the brandy version you will need:
1 400ml tin of full fat coconut cream
1 tbspn icing sugar
1 tspn brandy

Place the tin of coconut cream in the fridge for at least 48 hours. This will allow the cream to seperate. When you open the tin, carefully scoop out the thick cream (it should be fairly solid, almost like butter, but don't worry if there is some softer stuff in there as well.) Don't discard the leftover coconut milk / water either - heat it up and pour over chocolate pieces for a rich hot chocolate or stir through your next curry or casserole!

Place the coconut cream, cocoa and icing sugar in a bowl and blend with an electric mixer (I used my stick mixer) until smooth and combined.

Place in the fridge until your ready to use.

Follow the same instructions to make the brandy version.

Immediately prior to serving place the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large tip. Carefully fill the cooled brandy snaps. If you prefer a slightly softer and chewier brandy snap, I suggest filling them a few hours prior to serving and placing them in the fridge, if you can wait that long!!

I could eat them plain, I could eat them filled, hell, I could eat the batter straight out of the bowl! They are chewy yet crunchy and just everything a brandy snap should be and the coconut cream filling is divine. We discovered it recently and in the last week alone we have made it numerous times, using it as a filling in pavlova nests served with diced banana, piping it onto some cupcakes and now as a filling for these brandy snaps and it worked perfectly in all of the above!


As a matter of fact, I'm off to have one now.....I might even share it with Mr B seeing as he made them!

Mrs B xx

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The arrival of Winter....

Although it has officially been winter for nearly a month now and the weather has definitely been cold, we were yet to see any of those really white winter mornings that we have become accustomed to at this time of year until this weekend.

 Whilst I admit I am not a fan of the cold, I do love sitting in bed on a cold winter's morning with a good book and a hot coffee and seeing our own little winter wonderland right in our front yard.

This weekend was also very special because it marked the first birthday of our little niece, Macy.

We have always thought of Macy as a little old lady trapped in a baby's body because she is always so serious, but every now and then she surprises you with one of these million dollar smiles.....

Unfortunately the party was cancelled as the venue didn't have any power when we showed up, but that didn't stop Mr B and the birthday girl sneaking in some quality time.

I could watch her for hours, such a big personality and so many expressions. I would love to know what was going on in that little head sometimes.

This weekend we have also been enjoying long walks in the sunshine, afternoon cups of tea on the pergola and evenings rugged up on the couch snuggling for warmth!

Mrs B xx

Friday, June 21, 2013

Strawberry Eton Mess

Ok so I know we are here to talk Eton Mess and more specifically Strawberry Eton Mess.....did I mention it also involves Cherry Brandy???

But firstly I want to deviate from that for just a quick second to talk rice.

Yes rice which has absolutely nothing to do with Eton Mess except that my Mum cooked both the Eton Mess and the rice so that's my link and I'm sticking to it.

Did you know you could get black rice??

When Mum dished this black rice dish up to us a few weeks ago, I must admit the first thought that went through my head was that she was a little heavy handed with the soy sauce....

Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was no soy sauce in there whatsoever, it was just the colour of the rice. To me, it tasted a little like brown rice and with the red onion, capsicum, spinach, mushroom, paneer and some herbs it was absolutely delicious and apparently very nutritious as well!

Anyway, now that I have got that out of my system, lets get back to what we are all here for.....DESSERT!!!

Mum and Dad whipped this up the other night and it was amazing. I must say I have never had cherry brandy before and was a little concerned about it being in amongst the delicate flavours of the berries and meringue and cream but it worked beautifully and was a great twist on an old classic!

Strawberry Eton Mess - Serves 4

150ml thickened cream
150ml vanilla greek yoghurt
2 tbspns of vanilla sugar + 2 tbspns extra
4 tbspns of cherry brandy
2 punnets (500g in total) of strawberries
1 punner (250g in total) of raspberries
4 x meringue nests, crushed

Cut the strawberries in half. Combine the strawberries and raspberries in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tbspns of the vanilla sugar and the cherry brandy. Leave to macerate for 15-20 mins if you want a thick mixture or around an hour if you prefer a more sauce like consistency. (Note - we tried it with the second option and it was delicious!)

Remove 4 tbspns of the berry mixture for garnish. Lightly crush up the remainder of the berries and set aside.

Whip the cream until thick and add fold through the yoghurt and remaining vanilla sugar.

To serve combine the crushed berries with the cream mixture and then gently fold through the meringues. Divide the mixture between 4 glasses and top with the reserved berries. This dish is best eaten immediately as the meringues will soften and lose their crunch.


Mrs B xx

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Minestrone with Tortellini

To be honest I have never made minestrone before because I always thought it would be a bit bland and not altogether filling. I mean no one wants a bowl of watery soup that's just going to leave you hungrier then when you started do they?

I think what drew me to this recipe though was the cheese tortellini because I figured even if the soup itself was rubbish there would at least be cheese filled pasta in there to save the day.

As it turns out this soup is not only dead easy, but it's also packed full of flavour and the addition of the chilli gives you that lovely warm feeling without burning your mouth out. Mr B and I both thought this was a great hearty meal for a cold winter's night and served up with some home made bread it was definitely a winner.

Minestrone with Tortellini - Serves 4

1 tbspn olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 heaped tspn of crushed garlic
1/2 tspn crushed chilli
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrot, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
800g diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
500g fresh cheese tortellini
Salt and Pepper to season
Crusty bread to serve

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.

Add the celery, carrot and zucchini. Cook for 5 mins. Add the diced tomatoes and the stock. Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 mins.

Meanwhile, cook the tortellini in a seperate saucepan as per the packet directions. It should generally go into a pot of boiling water and will be cooked after about 7-10 mins.

Drain the tortellini and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve with bread.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oven Baked Mozzarella Sticks

When I was younger Saturday nights at home were a smorgasbord of indulgence. We used to have deep fried mozzarella sticks with deep fried banana, prawn crackers and for dessert, a deep fried tim tam! Now I know your thinking that is alot of deep fried going on right there, but we were a healthy family the rest of the time and this was our night to live on the wild / fried side. Mum and Dad also used to have deep fried zucchini and deep fried camembert but when I was little I a) didn't do greenery and b) didn't do camembert....if only I could go back and have a word with myself!

Anyway, I remember 'Camembert Nights' as being a bit of an event, Mum would be in the kitchen preparing most of the morning, I would spend most of the afternoon trying to pinch little bits of the crumb mix from the fridge and that night we would feast. I would get to spend the night in my room watching tv, listening to music and reading till all hours of the morning and Mum and Dad would have some time out for themselves.

It has been years since I've had cheese sticks or prawn crackers or a deep fried banana for that matter and the one time I saw a shop selling deep fried tim tams and dragged Mr B in there with stories of my youth and how he simply had to try one....well let's just say he hasn't forgiven me yet.

Mr B and I own a deep fryer but we rarely use it.....partially due to the whole trying to be healthy thing and partially due to the fact it's a pain to clean up. Last week we had some leftover mozzarella floating around in the fridge and I decided to try making some cheese sticks and baking them in the oven. They were an absolute success, not quite as good as my Mum's but delicious none the I just need to try it with a tim tam!

For these Oven Baked Mozzarella Sticks you will need:

300g Mozzarella cut into sticks (we cut ours into 4 and then cut each one in half to make 8 nice sized sticks)
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plain flour
Seasoning (we used 1/2 tspn cajun spices on half and 1/2 tspn lemon pepper on the other but you can use italian herbs or whatever you want really)

In small bowl, whisk the eggs. Place the flour in a small bowl and place the panko breadcrumbs and your chosen seasoning into another small bowl.

Roll the cheese sticks in flour, shaking off excess. Then dip into the egg and roll in the crumbs to coat. Dip the cheese in the egg again and then roll in the crumbs again and then place on a plate. Repeat with your remaining cheese sticks.

Place the plate of cheese sticks into the freezer and pre-heat your oven to 200C. Lightly grease a baking tray with oil.

Once the oven is pre-heated, remove the cheese sticks from the freezer and place onto the tray. Drizzle with a little more oil.

Place the tray on the bottom shelf of your oven and bake for 4-5 mins. Turn the cheese sticks and bake for a further 5 mins. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't melt. I turned mine at the half way point and they were perfect but when I went back 5 mins later, half of them had pockets of mozzarella oozing out of them which really doesn't matter, they still taste delicious!

Serve as an entree, part of a tapas dinner or as a main meal with salad.


Mrs B xx

Friday, June 14, 2013

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom and Gouda Toasted Sandwich

Everyone loves a good toasted sandwich.

In our house the usual go to combination is cheese and chutney or cheese, ham and tomato.....personally I am quite partial to cheese, tomato and tuna or cheese and vegetarian sausages but Mr B has never been thrilled with either of those ideas.

Seriously I only just managed to convince him to make my all time favourite cheese and vegetarian sausage special when I was recovering from surgery a few weeks ago  and I am 100% confident that if I hadn't just undergone surgery 3 hours prior, he would have screwed his nose up and refused.

For the record - it was an awesome sandwich.

Toasted sandwiches are usually our go to easy dinner or occasionally our go to 'I'm starving' lunch, but never before have we ventured into mushroom toasted sandwich territory. It was an argument I just wouldn't win. So when Mum and Dad came for tea this week, I made these Caramelised Onion, Mushroom and Gouda Toasted Sandwiches and they were a hit, even Mr B loved them!

Caramelised Onion, Mushroom and Gouda Toasted Sandwiches - Makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices bread
400g mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 onions, diced
Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbspns olive oil
Salt and Pepper
8 slices gouda cheese

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Combine the mushrooms and onions in an oven dish. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Mix it all up and place in the oven until the onions are nice and caramelised. It took about an hour in my oven but I suggest checking it regularly.

Once the mushrooms and onions are done to your liking, you can assemble your sandwiches. Pre-heat your sandwich press (or melt 1 tbspn of butter in a fry pan) Take one piece of bread, top with a slice of gouda followed by a quarter of the mushroom mix and finishing off with a slice of gouda. Top with the final piece of bread. Repeat with remaining mushroom mixture and bread.

Place the sandwiches in the sandwich press (or fry pan) and cook for 3-5 mins or until golden.

Serve with salad.


Mrs B xx

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tiramisu Chocolate Ripple Cake with Homemade Mascarpone

Don't you just love it when an idea comes together?

Some weeks I sit and pore over my recipe folders for hours on end trying to come up with a menu for the following week and absolutely nothing takes my fancy.

Sometimes I look through them and have so many ideas I don't know what to cook first.

But when I stumbled across a recipe for home made mascarpone I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

For as long as I can remember my Mum has been talking about Chocolate Ripple Cake and how she has never tried or made one. Personally I have to leave the room when we go to Mr B's Mothers house and there is Chocolate Ripple Cake for fear of inhaling it all, but I too have never made one myself.

I think the reason I have never made one before was because the average Chocolate Ripple Cake, whilst delicious, just didn't really excite me enough to make my I was always slightly unsure about which direction to stack the biscuits up....

With this in mind I a) found a recipe that told me which way to stack the biscuits and b) set about re-creating one of my favourite desserts in Chocolate Ripple Cake form.

Now you certainly don't have to make your own mascarpone, but I always tend to ignore recipes that use it due to the ridiculously high price of buying it in the shops. This recipe here is not only unbelievably simple, but it will cost you next to nothing and did I mention the end result is a rich and creamy mascarpone that you will be super pleased about because you have created it all on your own!

Homemade Mascarpone

2 cups thickened cream (full fat and not ultra homogenised so not long life)
1 tbspn lemon juice
1 candy thermometer
cheese cloth / butter muslin

In a saucepan over medium heat, slowly bring the cream up to 88C, stirring constantly to ensure it doesn't scald.

Once it reaches 88C, add the lemon juice and whisk for 5 mins while maintaining the temperature.

Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 35-45 mins.

Line a colander or sieve with the cheese cloth / butter muslin and place over a large bowl - try and double it over so you have at least 2-3 layers. Pour the cream mixture into the muslin and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours (preferably 18-24). Scoop the mascarpone into a container or jar and discard the whey (there will only be 2-3 tbspns anyway).

Store in the fridge for up to a week. Not that it will last that long because we are going to use it all to make this Tiramisu Chocolate Ripple Cake!

Tiramisu Chocolate Ripple Cake

1 x 250g pkt of Chocolate Ripple Biscuits
2 cups Mascarpone
300ml thickened cream
1 tspn vanilla essence
2 tbspns icing sugar
1/4 cup strongly brewed black coffee

Combine the mascarpone, cream, vanilla and icing sugar in a bowl. Beat until mixture is thick. Place in the fridge for an hour.

Take your serving plate and smear 1-2 tbspns of the mascarpone mixture in a rectangle shape.

Take one of your biscuits and brush with the coffee mixture. Place 1 tspn of the cream mixture onto the biscuit and stand up on the plate. Repeat with remaining biscuits, coffee and cream to make a row. Continue this process to make 4-5 rows.

Spread the remaining cream mixture over the cake. Chill overnight to set. Serve dusted with chocolate powder.

Holy heck this cake was good. Like awesome good.

I was really impressed with how this came out and truth be told, prefer it to the traditional versions of both Chocolate Ripple Cake and Tiramisu. The biscuits had gone beautiful and soft, the subtle coffee flavour had made it's way into the cream....and the cream....oh I could eat it by the truck load.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a small piece hidden in the back of the fridge and I plan on demolishing it before Mr B finds it!


Mrs B xx

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Raspberry, Nutella and Coconut Brownies

These brownies need absolutely no introduction. They are gooey and fudgey and studded with toasted coconut and juicy raspberries with just the slightest hint of hazelnut from the Nutella.

You don't need any excuses or special occasions to make these.....just do it. It's Wednesday, there is still half a week to go....surely that is reason enough!

For these Raspberry, Nutella and Coconut Brownies you will need

140g butter
90g dark chocolate
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup Nutella
2 eggs
2 tspns vanilla
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
2/3 cup plain flour
2 tbspn cocoa
3/4 cup frozen raspberries

Pre-heat oven to 175C and grease and line a 8 x 8 inch baking tray.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a heat proof jug and heat in 40 second bursts, stirring in between until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, Nutella and sugar. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and mix to combine.

Add the flour, coconut and cocoa and mix. Gently stir through the raspberries.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40 mins or until set in the centre. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Mr B hasn't even complained about the coconut in them....yet!


Mrs B xx

Monday, June 3, 2013

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream and Strawberry Champagne Sauce

Yesterday was my Mum's birthday and we celebrated in style by indulging in some banana bread for breakfast, going to see The Great Gatsby (in 3D) and enjoying lunch on the waterfront at one of Mum's favourite restaurants.

It was the first time Mum and Dad had been to a 3D movie and unfortunately Dad was given a dodgy pair of glasses with one lense blacked out....and even more unfortunately, he didn't know that they were not supposed to be like that so sat through the whole movie thinking that this whole 3D caper is not all it's cracked up to be.....

Those of us that could see the entire movie thought it was brilliant. Those of us that missed out on all of the 3D effects, also thought it was pretty good.....

We stopped at a restaurant called Blue Skies for lunch. When I was younger, Mum, Dad and I used to go there all the time and share a bowl of chips on a Sunday afternoon so it was really nice to go back and share a few different plates of food while we soaked up the sun.

The day got even better later in the afternoon when Mr B started talking about his 'PMS'......he had meant to say 'ESP' and needless to say the rest of us were laughing so hard we were in tears

And last but not least, it was home for presents and cake. This year when Dad suggested maybe we do cupcakes instead of a cake, I knew just the thing. Well Ok I didn't know exactly, but I was thinking champagne, champagne and more champagne. After loads of research I decided on a Champagne Cupcake with Champagne Buttercream and, after initially leaning towards a Champagne Pastry Creme filling, at the last minute decided to go with a Strawberry Champagne Sauce instead.

I was only after a couple of cupcakes seeing as they were just for the 4 of us to share so I halved the original recipe and still got 8 out of this! That's totally fine though because they were amazing and a lovely decadent birthday treat for my Mum. 

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream and Strawberry Champagne Sauce

For the Champagne Cupcakes
55g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla
.85 cup of plain flour
1/4 tspn baking soda
1/8 tspn baking powder
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup champagne

Pre-heat oven to 180C and grease and line a cupcake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat until just combined and smooth.

Spoon mixture into prepared cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 mins or until they bounce back when touched.

For the Champagne Buttercream
1/2 cup champagne + 1 tbspn extra
220g butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla essence

Heat 1/2 cup of champagne in a saucepan over medium high heat until it has reduced to roughly 1 tbspn. Set aside to cool.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale and creamy.

Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the reduced champagne and 1 tbspn extra champagne and beat until light and fluffy. Pipe onto your cupcakes....or eat straight out of the bowl.

For the Strawberry Champagne Sauce
200ml champagne
500g strawberries (hulled and halved)
2 heaped tbspns caster sugar
1 tbspn corn flour

In a medium pot over high heat combine champagne, sugar and strawberries.

Bring to the boil.

Allow the strawberries to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 7-10 mins. You want them to be really broken down.

Place two tbspns of the sauce into a jug and add the cornflour. Mix well to remove any lumps and so that it is all combined.

Pour the cornflour mixture back into the pot and continue to simmer and stir for a further 3-5 mins or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before placing in the fridge.

Spoon over cupcakes to serve.


Mrs B xx


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