Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cheat's Hollandaise Sauce

It's Boxing Day, you've got left over Christmas ham, you're in a hurry to get to the sales but you still want a nice breakfast. My solution is Eggs Benedict with Cheat's Hollandaise Sauce. Here is a quick recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
  • 250g cream
  • 2 egg yokes
  • Lemon juice


Melt the butter and plain flour in a sauce pan over medium high heat. When the mixture is smooth and combined, slowly add the cream and whisk in eggs one at a time. The mixture will become thick and then add lemon juice to taste. Pour over Egg Benedict and retain the rest for another breakfast or to pour over some dinner vegetables.

$1.99, GONE

Unfortunately I ate the object to this post on the way home. I've recently discovered I'm pretty happy with the quality of the Apple Crowns in the Coles Bakery section. They are beautifully light, crispy pastries with a dab of soft apple nested in the center. Purchase one yourself for a princely $1.99. However be warned ... they will disappear in the blink of an eye and you'll probably want another one.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Classic Lasagna

Let's face, we live in an instant coffee, microwave society. We are all pushing to make deadlines and want everything like yesterday. However this does NOT excuse you from whinging, "I have no time to cook." If I had a dollar every time someone told me this, I would be a million zillion billionaire. I want you to make you to make time and there is no easier way to do than freezer food. Make a couple of different things on the weekend and you'll lunch for weeks. All you have to do is take it out and reheat it in the microwave. So easy.

One of the most freezer friendly recipes I have is for the classic lasagna. My recipe comes from the a 'Cook's Book of Pasta: Carbonara Marinara Napolitana.' This lasagna comprises of layers of Bechamel Sauce and mince. The mince is enriched with sauteed onion and garlic, tinned tomatoes, red wine, basil and oregano. It's really simple recipe and makes approximately eight serves. Cook, cool, freeze and make all your co-workers jealous!

Caramelised Apple Crepes

Some children can be described as academic, others sporty or musical. I have always been an average Jo and in order to achieve anything need to spend time slowly absorbing and refining the required knowledge/skill set. I'm still working on my crepes, so today I made Caramelised Apple Crepes. I made the caramelised apple filling with:
  • three granny smith apples (peeled and diced),
  • three table spoons of caster sugar,
  • 20g of butter,
  • Cinnamon.

I then popped the apple, sugar and butter into a fry pan to cook and continued to add a drizzle of water as the apple cooked the Carmel had reduced. Once the apple had cooked, I mixed through the Cinnamon and started work on the crepes. Delicious.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Custard Tart and Decorating with Toffee

In 2009, David Herbert released 'The Really Useful Cookbook' as a follow up to 'Complete Perfect Recipes. It costs almost twice as much as his first book, contains a number of drool-worth colour photos encased in a hard cover. It is worth it? I can't say I have used it as much as 'Complete Perfect Recipes' but if you are a fan of David Herbert's non fuss food, it's a must.

My dear friend Mellie and her lovely fiancee Aaron are back in Brisbane for Christmas. So when Mel text me today to see if I had time to hang out, I just jumped at the chance and said I would bake a Custard Tart. Slightly selfish on my part as I love Custard Tarts and wanted to try out my brand new tart tin.

I've only made mini tarts from this David Herbert's Custard Tart recipe so I was keen to try out a 25cm tart. Here is a photo of the filled blind baked shell.

2 large eggs, 3 egg large egg yolks, 100g caster sugar beaten until thick. Combine with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of brandy. Heat 500ml of cream until small bubbles appear around the edge of the saucepan and pour into the egg mixture.

Because I was expecting guests I decided to present the tart with some toffee. I placed 250g of caster sugar and a tablespoon of water in a saucepan, stirred until all the sugar was dissolved and then left the mixture to become golden. Once it was golden I then grabbed a spoon and drizzled the mixture on oiled paper to create gorgeous webbing. Here is result, served with vanilla ice cream. Mmmm.

P.S. To clean your toffee coated saucepan, add some cold water to the pan and pop it back onto the stove to dissolve. So easy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ah my nemesis, we meet again

Everyone has a nemesis - Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader, Dr Who/the Master, Queen Elizabeth/Mary, Queen of Scots and the list goes on. My culinary nemesis is the crepe as the result is too thick, too thin and/or stuck. However, I'm determined to get it right and have been using this basic crepe recipe to practice.

My favourite crepe filling has always been chocolate and strawberries. Here is a simple chocolate ganache I made from 1/3 cup of cream and 250g of 70% dark chocolate.

Plentiful amounts of sliced fresh strawberries are a must.

Towards the end of my epic crepe battle, I started to produce something vaguely resembling a crepe. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the upper hand on this dastardly villain:
  • Crepes should be cooked on medium heat.
  • Have a small dish of soften butter and a pastry brush on hand to slightly oil the pan before you ladle the crepe batter into the pan.
  • Only flip the crepe when it is cooked. You will know it is cooked as the edges will curl slightly and like pancakes, small bubbles will appear.
  • As I continued to make the crepes, I found the batter was thicker at the bottom of the bowl. I would suggest adding a little milk to keep the batter viscous.
Hopefully these tips will assist you to produce beautiful crepes and minimise the amount that look like this:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rubber Ducky, You're the One!

A very merry Christmas to all my 'Eats Food, Hates You' readers. Before the epic traditional food-a-rama begins at 5pm, I thought I would show a really neat present I received and even the bag is adorable.

Here it is, it's a T Duck, tea infuser! This adorable little tea infuser comes with a little stand that you can rest your rubber duck on when your cup of tea is brewed to perfection. I know you all are oh so jealous of my little friend, so to ensure he isn't ducknapped, you can get your own at Chalet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Love You Cantonese Cuisine

Lemon Curd, Tart, Shortbread ... reading this blog you would never suspect my favourite cuisine is actually Cantonese Cuisine. Cantonese cuisine comprises of classic dishes such as fish steamed in soy sauce, dressed with ginger and shallot, summer melon in clear broth and mountains of snowy white rice. It is a clean cuisine full of balanced sweet and savoury flavours and I often describe this experience as akin to a sour cream and onion chip. I also love how it strives to use all parts of the animal. Prince Philip famously commented, "if it has got four legs and is not a chair, if it has two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

Ah Prince Philip, you saucy old fart, you make me laugh and my heart swell with pride. But I've veered off on a tangent and point of this story was to inform you all (a) how much I LOVE Cantonese cuisine and (b) due to the majority of my family specialising in this type of cuisine, I've never had a need to cook it and as a result I've gone a bit wild in the land of dessert. However there comes a time when you do crave that lightness and balance and this where Bill Granger comes and answers my prayers. Bill Granger's 'Simply Bill' features the most divine Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. Though you can purchase great stock these days I recommend you go through the process of making the stock yourself. Behold the result of my craving:

Old Faithful: Potato Salad

There is something extremely comforting about potato salad. It can be served hot or cold, takes only minutes to prepare and is always a crowd pleaser. My Mother asked me to whip up a potato salad for tomorrow's traditional Christmas food-a-rama so here is one of my quick and easy variations. This recipe is extremely flexible so feel free to exchange the whole egg mayonnaise for sour cream or add finely slice spring onions for some extra zing. I personally can't abide cold eggs so I always leave them out.

  • 2.5kg of washed baby potatoes
  • 440g whole egg mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3 rashers of bacon, diced
  • chives.


Roughly slice all your baby potatoes in half (or quarters if they are a little larger), place in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover. Boil the potatoes until tender, drain using a strainer and place back into the stockpot.

Pan fry your diced bacon and once the fat is translucent, remove from fry pan and place in a large bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the bacon, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, seeded and dijon mustard. Once the potatoes are warm, pour the contents of the large bowl into the stock pot and combine. Prior to serving the salad, sprinkle some finely dice chives. This salad can be served either hot or cold.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lab Bar + Restaurant

For the last few years I've shared Christmas Eve Eve dinner with friends at the Lab Bar and Restaurant (The Lab). This normally involves great company, a glorious meal, before braving the sultry Queensland heat to marvel at the Myer Christmas Windows. However this year, Summer has been unseasonally cool and filled with days of rain. It seemed almost wrong that I was dressed in winter silks, stockings and patent leather shoes but it complimented the European feel of restaurant and the robust menu set out by chef, Craig Betteman.

After being seated, we were faced with the tough decision of making a choice from the menu. Some of the main options included:

  • Potato gnocchi, celeriac, lemon, beurre noisette.

  • New Zealand lamb, beetroot, mint, pea, hummus, yoghurt.

  • Veal scaloppini, crab, asparagus, desiree potato, hollandaise.

  • Roasted spatchcock, herb stuffing, vegetables, gravy.

  • Braised beef cheek, bacon, mushroom, red wine, onion, potato.

Choices, choices, choices. Though I would have been happy with almost anything off this menu, I decided to select the Veal Scaloppini and wasn't disappointed. The veal was tender, the potato was perfectly balanced by the glossy jus and the hollandaise had enough zing to provide lift to the rich dish.

After the wide choices of main I must admit I was a little dissappointed with the limited dessert selection. The choices were:

  • Assiette of a contemporised classic pumpkin scones, cream and jam.

  • Rice pudding, coconut, kaffir lime, lemongrass

  • Lab trifle, pedro ximenez, sponge, custard, seasonal fruit.

  • Ice cream and hokey pokey.

  • Rhubarb and apple pie, chestnut, cinnamon, icecream.

Was this menu designed for men? Ample range of cheeses, but what happened to the chocolate? Lucky for the Lab my palette tends to gravitate towards citrus and I selected the Rhubarb and apple pie. Mmmmm, behold the food porn. I believe this dish will speak for itself.

So should you go there? Absolutely. The staff are friendly and attentive, the restaurant has an old world charm that only rich timber can give, the the food was generous without being excessive and I had a fabulous evening catching with friends.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: 12/15 Adelaide Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000.
Open: Daily, 9am-10pm.
Phone: (07) 3306 8647.
Price: Entree: $16-$26. Mains: $28-$39. Desserts: $12-$14.

Lab Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shortbread: Biscuits wrapped in Lies

One of the first cook books I ever purchased was David Herbert's Complete Perfect Recipes. This cook book is indeed what the title proclaims it to be, 250 simple, solid recipes that work, enclosed in a small, no fuss, square, soft cover publication with black and white photography. I've made a number of recipes from this book including his Shortbread recipe.

For the majority of my life, I have believed that Shortbread are buttery biscuits wrapped in lies. It isn't bread, it's a delicious biscuit. Why would the Scottish People lie to us? So after a little research I discovered Shortbread originated from a medieval biscuit bread which was a twice baked bread roll, rolled in sugar and spices. I'm gathering it was as unappetising as it sounds as the yeast was eventually replaced with butter, resulting in the lovely buttery biscuits we know and love today. Let us now embark on a visual field trip into the world of Shortbread.

250g of butter combined with 1/2 cup caster sugar, 2 cups plain flour and 1/2 cup of rice flour.

After resting the dough for 20 minutes, I rolled it out on a floured bench, cut out my shapes and gently placed them on a lightly oiled baking tray.

Three trays in a preheated oven set at 150°C for 15-20 minutes.

The result? Delicious buttery Shortbread. Still wrapped in lies, but ignore this issue. I suggest you make your own and enjoy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Caffarel: A Love Story

When we think of where the world's best and most famous Chocolatiers reside, our minds bypass Italy and head straight to Belgium and Switzerland. But Italy does make some fabulous chocolates, think - Baci Perugina, Ferrero Rochers and Caffarel. Caffarel? I hear you asking. As a certified chocaholic, I hadn't heard of them either, until my recent lunch time dash to Black Pearl Epicure for some pantry essentials. As I stood at the counter my gaze fell upon a basket of distinctive red and gold foiled cubes. They were so visually appealing so I made the impulse decision to purchase a bag. From the moment I saw these petite chocolates, I was in love. I loved how each morsel was a piece of art, lovingly wrapped to reveal a smooth velvet chocolate, accented with hazelnuts.

Chocolates from Belgium and Switzerland are so good, they probably should be illegal, but what sets Italian chocolate apart is the passion. Let us examine this statement through images ...

Apart from those aesthetically pleasing cubes, Caffarel also make a range of products. The gold foiled chocolate on the far right is the company's flagship product, the boat shaped Gianduia (pronounced john-doo-ya). Gianduia is a combination of milk chocolate and hazelnuts and to us modern folk this is a classic combination. But back in 1856, Gianduia was born of necessity. In the turbulent years that followed the Napoleonic wars, exotic chocolate was rationed, so Chocolatiers mixed chocolate with local hazelnuts to extend the precious ingredient. Thank goodness they did.

Milk chocolate hearts are one of the more simple items a Chocolatier's repertoire ... so it was a pleasant surprise to find this dainty heart had a message. Love isn't a solitary bold gesture, it is spoken in numerous ways and it is evident there is volumes of love and passion in Italian chocolate. So don't forget about Italy when you think chocolate. She is there waiting to be discovered and loved. Viva Italian Chocolate!

Damascus Steel is Dead

Photograph sourced from Nesmuk. reports Nesmuk have released one of the world's most expensive chef knives for a mere AUD $43,953.42. Crafted by Lars Scheidler, the Nesmuk Brilliant Knife features 800 layers of Damascus Steel and a hilt of patinated sterling silver, inlaid with eight diamonds.

I love the evocative sound of the words Damascus Steel but I do get oh so grumpy when people bandy the term around. Damascus Steel was a term used to describe the type of steel used in Middle Eastern swordmaking in the period of 1100 to 1700AD. The swords were reputed to be resistant to shattering, sharp and characterised by distinctive banding and mottling.

Unfortunately the technique was lost to mankind circa 1750 AD and several modern theories include the loss of knowledge due to secrecy, the lack of trace impurities in the metal, the breakdown of trade routes or a combination of all of the above.

All modern attempts to duplicate the metal have failed and so the Damascus blade will remain the stuff of myth. I mean really what would a chef need a Damascus blade for? A crusade on Brussel Sprouts?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Candied Orange Slices Battle: Part One

As there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat and there are also many ways to candy fruit. In the quest for understanding, I've decided to test two recipes. The first is from the Repressed Pastry Chef and the second is from Brownie Points: a good girl's notebook of her culinary world. The Repressed Pastry Chef's method is quicker. It's as simple as dissolving some sugar in water, adding the orange slices, reducing the liquid until you are left with beautiful gem-like candied orange slices, which you can enjoy au naturale or dipped in dark chocolate. However I was also intrigued by Brownie Points' idea of immersing the orange slices in sugar syrup and lovingly adding 100g of sugar daily over two weeks. So to determine which method is best, I'm pitting Candied Orange Slices against Candied Orange Slices and here is how part one played out:

Brownie Points Immersion Method: Some lovely Valencia Oranges, sliced and then halved.

Brownie Points Immersion Method: Blanching the orange slices in boiling water. I then cooled these in iced water before transferring them into an air tighter container and immersing them in sugar syrup.

Repressed Pastry Chef Method: After dissolving the sugar in water, I added the orange slices.

Repressed Pastry Chef Method: This is my favourite stage. When the liquid has dissolved you are left with gorgeous translucent orange slices.

So at the end of the Candied Orange Slices Battle: Part One, the Brownie Points Method embarks on its two weeks of immersion, while the Orange Slices subjected to the Repressed Pastry Chef method have been rolled in sugar and stored in an air tight container. Which Candied Orange Slices Method will rein supreme? Return in a couple of weeks to find out!

While we're waiting, I'll introduce you to Miss Baci. Miss Baci is an attentive kitchen assistant, who would just love me to drop something edible.

Merry Christmas, Jo!

I've been such a good girl this year so brought myself a couple of Christmas presents today. I've been having a great time cooking with them this weekend and hopefully you will enjoy the results.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Golden Syrup Horse Treats

I have often wondered what it was like when the first human had the foresight to tame a wild horse and ride. One of my greatest pleasures in life is my weekly dressage lesson and I count myself as an extremely fortunate individual that not only am I given the opportunity but that such a generous creature would allow me on its back. Most horse treats comprise of a number ingredients, that home cooks simply do not have access to or just aren't aesthetically pleasing. Here is a simple recipe I put together using home ingredients. You can make a number of modifications to this recipe such as substituting the rolls oats for bran, golden syrup for molasses, apple for carrot etc.

Golden Syrup Horse Treats
Makes approximately 60 treats.

  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of golden syrup
  • 1 grated granny smith apple


Preheat oven to 190°C. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. If necessary add more flour until the mixture becomes a malleable piece of dough.

Roll out the dough to approximately 5mm in thickness and using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut out your shapes and space evenly on an oiled tray. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the treats to cool and then store in an air tight container.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'When I Get Home' - Matt Moran

Super star chefs are today's celebrities and Matt Moran is no different with two restaurants, a string of media engagements and two published cook books. Following the super star chef mould Moran's first cook book was a compilation of his signature dishes and largely unusable for the average home cook. However his second foray into the world of cook books is far more user friendly and comes beautifully presented with a die cut hard cover and tactile spine. 209 pages of modern Australian cuisine which includes recipes such as Haloumi with Watermelon and Mint and Smoked Trout and Asparagus Tart. I've recently made this tart twice and it is just outstanding. It's delicious, presents well but a word of warning ... do not try unless you have a spring form tart pan. It's a must have piece of equipment.

Smoked Trout and Asparagus Tart
Serves six.


  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml cream
  • 100ml milk
  • 1/4 bunch dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 300g piece hot-smoked rainbow trout
  • 50g parmesan (preferably reggiano)

Shortcrust pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • pinch caster sugar
  • 160g butter, slightly softened
  • 1 egg
  • 20ml milk


To prepare the shortcrust pastry, rub the flour, salt and sugar with the butter until you form a crumb consistency. Mix in the egg and milk and knead gently two or three times. Wrap the pastry in plastic film and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and allow the pastry to come back to room temperature before rolling.

Roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 5 mm and line a 25cm tart tin. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, several times, then return to the fridge for about an hour to rest.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Cut out a round piece of baking paper about 5cm larger in diameter than the tart tin. Line the pastry case with the paper and weigh down with some dried beans or rice. Bake for about 12 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. Brush the inside of the tart case with some beaten egg and return to the oven for 2 minutes (this will prevent the pastry from becoming soggy). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Slice each asparagus spear into three pieces. Blanch in boiling salted water for 10-20 seconds, then drain and cool in iced water. When the asparagus is cold, drain off the water.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, milk, dill, salt and pepper. Remove the skin from the trout and carefully flake the flesh, taking care to remove any bones you find in the process. Scatter the trout and asparagus inside the cooled tart case, the pour on the custard. Finely grate some parmesan over the top and bake for 15 minutes or until the custard is set. Allow the tart to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin and cut into wedges to serve.

Source: 'When I Get Home' - Matt Moran.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Delicious Lemon Curd

"When fate hands you a lemon make lemonade lemon curd! - Dale Carnegie (Bastardised).

As a grumpy young person, I find Christmas annoying. Mariah Carey is set on high rotatation, parking is a nightmare and frankly its an expensive time of year. However there is one aspect that I do love, it's the opportunity to thank the special people (near and far) in your life and tell that you love them.

This year I've found the ultimate Christmas gift - it's economical, quick, fail proof, ultra tasty and homemade from the heart.

Lemon Curd
Makes one and half cups.


  • 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80g) chilled unsalted butter
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons


Whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve into a sterilised jar. Lemon curd keeps, covered, in the fridge for 2 weeks.


This recipe is easily doubled and I was really happy with how this recipe turned out. As you can see from the photograph, I chose to present mine with Gingham Check, Toile and matching ribbon. To achieve this look you will also need jam jars, rubber bands and pinking shears. If you prefer a more rustic look I've also seen jars presented with brown paper and twine. Happy cooking!

Eats Food, Hates You

For Jo the search of fine cuisine and the art of cooking was ingrained before birth. Born into a family of Chefs, she spent the greater part of her childhood in a kitchen and by age five knew chiming, "da har mei" (Cantonese for 'Big Prawn" as she was too young to know the word for Lobster) would yield an exquisite meal. By age ten she was already baking on her own but was encouraged to study hard and choose a career away from the kitchen.

Jo currently works in Marketing and in her spare time enjoys horse riding, training her delinquent Border Collie - Baci, cross stitching, studying and naturally cooking. The name, 'Eats Food, Hates You," is designed to be provocative and acknowledges the author's cantankerous nature. Jo hopes reading this blog will be akin an evening fueled by Vodka. Harmless at first and suddenly you will wake up somewhere unfamiliar ... preferably some kind of delicious patisserie or in your kitchen inspired to cook!