Friday, 24 August 2012

Rhubarb & Currant Tarts

My newest mission... To cook something seasonal. Having a massive sweet tooth, my first choice was a dessert.

I decided to attempt a simple but delicious tart. And oh my... I nailed it.

I made two large tarts but had so much mixture left I decided to make mini ones to take into work for a taste test.

The large ones are more delicious but the minis are great and so easy for a party or get together.

The response from work was fantastic. Everyone, although cautious at the mention of rhubarb, loved them.
One even went so far as to call me the "Queen of Tarts" :) a name I have taken a liking to despite the insinuation that accompanies it.

They are so easy to do; I chopped some rhubarb, grabbed some currants and popped them in a bowl with a spoon of cornflour and just enough sugar to coat the contents.

I laid out two sheets of short crust pastry and cut large circles (about 20cm).
I spooned a large amount of the mixture into the centre of the pastry, leaving about a 5cm gap around the sides, then folded the sides in to encase the mixture but left a gap in the centre.

The outside was coated with egg then lightly dusted with sugar.
They went in the oven at 210 degrees for almost 25 mins.

I accompanied it with vanilla ice cream and ate the whole lot.. Thats right, both tarts!!! Boy did I feel guilty but oh so satisfied with ourselves.

I used the left over pastry and mix to make mini tarts with a cookie cutter. They were harder to close over and did open a bit when cooking but still tasted just as good. Just think
I needed to roll the pastry out a little thinner.

Such an easy job for such an impressive taste.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Caramelised Onion & Anchovy Tart

I bought a new book today.... Donna Hay's Seasons - The Best of Donna Hay Magazine.

This thing is fantastic. It is divided to seasons so you can cook with what is seasonal in the current time of year.

I couldn't wait to test it out. I chose to cook a Caramelised Onion and Anchovy Tart.

The house smelled fantastic while the onions were cooking. They had a lovely texture and looked golden brown. Because I'm a little stingy and wasn't prepared to shell out $20 for a sherry vinegar I substituted it with a red wine vinegar and added a bit more sugar instead...

Anchovies gross me out a little so I had my work cut out for me to make a dish that I was going to enjoy. The recipe makes 4 but we're only little people so I halved the recipe and made 2. 

After cooking the onion mixture, I spread it out onto the puff pastry and added the little garnishes. The recipe called for pitted olives, but I love mixed Australian Olives so I used those instead with the pips still in. The anchovies were laid on top, along with some thyme and into the oven they went.

Once in the oven, I continued on with an assignment... 2 minutes in I realise "Oh no!! I forgot to brush the pastry with egg yolks!". I ran to the oven, juggling an egg from the fridge and a bowl, whisking the yolks in a frenzy and retrieving the tarts from the oven as fast as I could put my mitts on. The yolks went on the pastry and the tart was returned to the oven. The only disadvantage being that the pastry didn't rise as nicely as the one in the picture.

This tart tasted fantastic! Easily the best I've ever had... and I'm not just saying that. 
Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think...

Caramelised Onion & Anchovy Tart: 
(Taken from Donna Hay: Seasons - The Best of Donna Hay Magazine. 2009, p 244.)

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1.5kg Brown Onions, peeled and sliced
1/2 Cup Sherry Vinegar (or red wine vinegar if you're tight like us :))
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (add about another Tablespoon if you substituted the vinegar)
Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
2 x 200g Puff Pastry Sheets
1/3 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, halved
12 Anchovy Fillets
12 Sprigs Thyme
1 Egg Yolk, lightly beaten (put it on the bench in advance... near your oven tray... just incase)

1. Preheat the over to 200 C.
2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-
     25 mins or until golden and caramelised.
3. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.
4. Cut each pastry sheet in half and place on baking paper in a baking tray. Score a 1cm border around
     each pastry sheet.
5. Divide the onion mixture among the sheets, top with olives, anchovies and thyme.
6. BRUSH THE PASTRY EDGES WITH EGG YOLK!!!! and bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

I served it with a lovely salad of rocket and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette. Bon apetit!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

After traveling to the UK and the US I developed a new love for the traditional pie.

I ate a divine Shepard's Pie in a small cafe in Tenterden, Kent, England and an enormous chicken pot pie in the Brooklyn Diner in New York.

For a closer to home experience, I was a huge fan of the chicken pot pie at Capital Kitchen in Chadstone Shopping Centre but for some horrible reason it is no longer on their menu!!!

My new love for the pie followed me home and I decided to attempt my own. As luck would have it I had a recipe in the archives so I gave it a whirl.

First step was to actually buy something to bake it in, so I dropped in to a cooking store on the outskirts of the Prahan Market on High St, Prahran and picked up a cute little terracotta dish and headed home.

I had the feeling the heat needed turning up on the pot full of my filling... I ignored that inner voice ... I am usually wrong.

The beautiful finished pie was placed in the oven (after I'd decorated with a few pastry hearts).

When the pie came out it looked lovely... As you can see. The filling was a little liquid-y so I'm not sure if that was whether because the heat was a bit low it didn't reduce enough or whether I need to alter the recipe a little but I can tell you... It tasted fantastic.

Chicken, Pumpkin and Leek Pot Pie.

500g chicken breast chopped into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Plain Flour
1 Leek sliced into small pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1 cube chicken stock
400g jap pumpkin cut into small pieces
300ml light thickened cream
Handful green beans cut into small pieces
1 sheet of puff pastry thawed
1 egg

1. Preheat over to 220 C
2. Lightly coat chicken with flour then cook in frying pan (in oil) until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Cook leek until a little softened. Add the garlic then wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, crumble in stock cube and add the pumpkin. Simmer for 7 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
4. Stir the cream, beans and chicken into the mixture and return to simmer, leave uncovered and simmer until pumpkin is soft and cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spoon mixture into a terracotta baking dish.
6. Cut pastry to the size of your chosen dish and place on top of the mixture, just overlapping the sides. Using the remaining pastry cut out little decorative shapes to place on top (I chose hearts). Brush the top of the pastry with egg and place in the oven for 15 mins until pastry is light brown and crispy.
7. Serve with a small salad and some wine, of course.

Happy Baking!!!

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

A friend and colleague of mine walked up to my desk on my first shift back after my 4 month holiday and explained that he had a mission for me.

He had seen an episode of 'New Girl'... She mentioned Maple bacon cupcakes... He wanted some...

The process was a little strange. You had to fry up the bacon without oil and keep the drippings afterward. The cooled drippings get creamed with the butter to give the cake that bacon flavour. Bacon pieces go in there too.

The icing was fantastic. Maple syrup flavoured. I could have eaten it from the bowl.

When the cakes looked cooked and there was just a very slight crumb reside on the skewer I removed them from the oven. I tried one straight away and the inside tasted undercooked but I couldn't figure out why. They couldn't go back in because the tops would burn... Maybe the temperature was too high.

I decided to take them to work regardless and see what everyone else thought. I sprinkled bacon bits over the top, popped them into the box and off I went.

I clenched my teeth as they went around the room and offered that I was sorry if they were undercooked... Everyone thought I was mad. I picked up a cake myself and had a bite. After cooling the cake had settled and was perfectly cooked. A little greasy for my liking though.

It wasn't to suit my taste. My friend, who is male, loved them... He ate 4. Another male at worked was also a fan. The females were not... Guess it comes down to tastes... But it was an interesting experience.

If you attempt them at home, caramelize the bacon pieces that are sprinkled on top. It will make the world of difference.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

5 Tablespoons softened Butter
1/2 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings (from the pan after cooking bacon, place in fridge to go hard)
1 Egg
5 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 1/4 Cups Self Raising Flour
1 Teaspoon Bi-Carb Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup of Milk
6 Strips of Bacon
Pinch of sea salt

4 Tablespoons softened Butter
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Cup Icing Sugar
Small amount of processed Bacon.
1/4 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 C
2. Cook the bacon strips in a fry pan (only add a drip of oil if necessary, no oil is preferred). When they are well cooked place the bacon strips onto paper towel to dry and keep the drippings in the pan. Place the drippings in the fridge.
3. Place the bacon strips into a food processor and grind into a mince-like consistency.
4. Beat the butter and bacon drippings until light and creamy. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup and beat until combined. Add the egg and beat until just mixed.
5. Sift the flour, bi-carb and baking powder together.
6. Add a third of the flour mixture to the batter, followed by half of the milk, when mixed incorporate another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and then the rest of the flour.
7. Fold in 1/4 Cup of the minced bacon (ensure there is a small amount remaining for the icing).
8. Divide the mixture between 8 cupcake papers and place into the oven for approx 20 mins. Remove when a skewer comes out with a few remaining crumbs.

1. Mix maple syrup and butter until combined.
2. Add the sugar in small batches until well beaten. Spread icing onto cupcakes
3. Place remaining bacon onto an oven tray and sprinkle with sugar. Place in oven for 5-10 mins until sugar has dissolved.
4. Sprinkle caramelised bacon and a small amount of sea salt over the top and voila!

Happy Baking!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

A night of Inspiration - Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio

Avocado, Pear, Eucalypt, Cucumber & White Chocolate

I attended the first Burch & Purchese Dessert Session on August 2nd.

Rose, Apple & Beetroot Crumble 

I am a regular visitor to their store, especially on those days when I have an exceptional sweet tooth and the staff are always more than helpful. Cath even helped me work out ways I could fix my disastrous lemon curd.

I love how there is always an element of surprise about their desserts. There will be a layer of pop rocks or something tangy, it seems, just to make you think about what your eating.

The food was spectacular and the service was even better.

I opted for the entire 5 courses, because in my mind if you're going to do it you have to do it properly, and it was amazing how each had its own personal flavour and idea.

I loved the watermelon course. Easily my favourite.
 The eucalypt jelly balls were fantastic. Looked like caviar and were so strange to eat.. In a good way.
The flavours were intense but not in such a way that you felt overwhelmed. I think they balanced it well.

The table was communal but it achieved a cosy feel. For the girls beside me on a "girls night out" it was a great place for a gossip and catch up.

I pre-ordered my recipe book from Darren and can not wait to share how my creations pan out once I get my hands on it.

If you are a lover of desserts, you should check it out. If you are not a lover... this will convert you.

Passionfruit Cloud

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Beginning - CarT Creations


This has all started with a love for cooking and the desire to share it.

I am Carly.

I am the person who comes into work armed with a box of cupcakes for the office to share. They are generally not the average cupcake. My latest attempt was to create a Maple Bacon Cupcake. The boys loved it, the girls not so much.

I have started this blog to coincide with my plan to one day open my own tea house. 

I will be attempting new recipes and styles of cooking then posting my experiences for all to see.

It will happen and I hope that you will be there to share it.

Happy readings...