chocolate tarte

the (mis)adventures of an aussie girl in a kitchen somewhere in europe

01 August 2007

Compote comeback!

Chocolate Tarte has been a touch slack recently but all of those fan letters urging me to keep on blogging coupled with a wonderful family trip to Vienna have inspired me to cook up Papa's Kaiserschmarren served with a plum compote. Guten Appetit!

Plum Compote

serves 2

6 plums

80g sugar

juice 1 lemon

2 cloves (optional)

half a cinnamon stick

Halve the plums and remove the stones. Place all ingredients in a pot with enough water to just cover the base of the pot. Cook gently, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until soft and aromatic. Allow to cool (works well made in advance)


60g plain flour

pinch of salt

4 T caster sugar

100 ml milk

1 egg, separated

butter for frying

ground cinnamon and sugar for dusting

Mix flour, salt and sugar. Whisk in the milk and egg yolk to form a batter. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white until very still and gently fold into the mix. Over a low heat melt enought butter to cover the bottom of the pan and when foaming subsides put in the batter (which should preferably to 2cm deep). Gently cook until golden brown underneath, then flip to just cook the other side. When just set, cut into wedges, sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mix and serve with the plum compote.

22 März 2007

mrs clinton's cookies

Way back in 1992 while her husband was on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton caused a scandal by declaring she was not going to sit at home and bake cookies while Bill was off running America. In an effort to win back the cookie-baking vote, the Clinton team was forced into serious damage control mode. The magazine Family Circle then held a bake-off publishing a cookie recipe from the potential First Ladies, Mrs Clinton and Barbara Bush. Readers of Family Circle then sent in their votes and declared Hillary's cookies a clear winner. The baking tradition has continued and at every American election since Family Circle has printed cookie recipes sent in by the wives of the political leaders contesting the presidency, and each time the winner of the contest has gone on to become America's First Lady!

We've come a long way since 1992 and it remains to be seen whether Bill also has a top bickie recipe up his sleeve. But he has had some heart problems so I've healthied-up the original recipe a little subsituting butter for the shortening.

Hillary Clinton's Cookies
95g flour
3g salt
2g baking soda
100g butter
110g packed brown sugar
50g white sugar
3 ml vanilla extract
1 egg
80g rolled oats
170g semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180g. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Cream the sugars with the butter then add the vanilla extract and the egg and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour, salt and baking soda. Then stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Spoon batter onto baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Leave for a few minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 20 cookies

05 März 2007

mamma mia!

This cannelloni dish courtesy of The Naked Chef is really notable for its placement of the pasta tubes. Rather than laying them on their sides as is traditional, here you stack them facing upwards so that they resemble a honeycomb pattern. For this you require a casserole pan that snugly fits 500g of cannelloni tubes. When I took the first shot, I was still blissfully unaware of the catastrophe that was about to eventuate.....I ended up stuffing my shortfall with absolutely everything at arm's reach- ricotta, a drizzle of milk, extra parmesan....And mamma mia, it was as "bloomin' tasty" as Jamie promised.

We've also been enjoying this hazelnut plum cake, served with a tiny sliver of afternoon sunlight!

Honeycomb Cannelloni (from "Cook with Jamie")
serves 6
salt and pepper
2 handfuls grated parmesan cheese
500g cannelloni tubes
olive oil

for the ragu:
handful dried porcini
150ml olive oil
3 carrots, diced
4 sticks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 leek, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
5 Portobello mushrooms, chopped
5x400g tins tomatoes
fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves picked

for the spinach:
680g fresh spinach (I used frozen)
dash of olive oil

for the super quick white sauce:
500 ml creme fraiche
285 ml single cream
4 anchovies, finely chopped
handful grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cover the porcini mushrooms with boiling water and leave to sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, over a medium heat sweat the onion, leek, carrots and celery in olive oil for 8 minutes, then add the garlic and portobello mushrooms. Then add the porcini mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes. Strain the porcini liquid and pour into the pan along with a cup of water and reduce a little before adding the tomatoes and chopped basil stalks. Cook away for up to 45 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick. Then add the basil leaves.

Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and set aside. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C and combine the ingredients for the quick white sauce.

Spoon half of the white sauce over the bottom of the casserole dish (20cm in diameter, 12.5 cm wide) and sprinke with extra parmesan cheese. Then add the layer of spinach, followed by half of the ragu sauce. Now stand the cannelloni tubes in and press down into the sauce. Add the rest of the ragu sauce, the rest of the white sauce and finish with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Plum Cake (from Marie Claire magazine)
4 fresh plums, de-seeded and chopped ( I used about 6 small ones from a jar)
155g butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
170g ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and a half cups flour
1 and a half tablespoons baking powder

Heat the oven to 180 degreesC and line and grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Place the plums in a food processor, whiz until smooth and put to one side. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and beat well. Then stir in the plums and remaining ingredients, pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes. Serve with cream and extra slices of plums.

01 März 2007


A trip to Paris in the summer holidays seems so achingly far away. But a simple French supper can be whipped up in about an hour. And makes the waiting so much more bearable.......

Filets de Poisson a la Provencale (adapted from Julia Child)
serves 2
2 cod filets
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 onions, minced
500g tomates, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
100 ml vermouth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon flour blended with 1 teaspoon softened butter
fresh herbs (parsley, basil etc)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Fry the cod quickly on both sides in olive oil in a hot pan. Remove and place in a casserole, then over a moderate heat, slowly fry the onions until translucent, add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, cover and fry for 5 minutes. Spread over the fish, cover with a lid or aluminium foil and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the fish, keep warm, and over the stove pour the vermouth into the tomato sauce and reduce. Stir in the tomato pace, simmer and correct the seasoning. Off the heat, add the butter and flour paste, then simmer again, stir in the fresh herbs and spoon over the fish.
Serve with potatoes and/or peas.

Cherry Clafoutis (from Bill Granger's "Simply Bill")
serves 8
250g cherries, pitted
4 tablespoons sifted flour
110g sugar ( plus 1 tablespoon extra)
125 ml milk
180 ml cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs

Heat the oven to 18odegrees C. Grease a 28cm diameter flan dish, scatter with 1 tablespoon of sugar and arrange with the cherries. Mix the sugar and flour together then stir in the milk, cream and vanilla. Add the 4 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour carefully over the cherries and bake for about 35 minutes.

14 Februar 2007

apples and oranges

I'm ignoring Valentine's Day (because Mr. Big reckons it's always Valentine's Day, awwwwww!), instead bringing some really fruity stuff from the UK weekend papers that we have eaten recently. And this first dish, a pork fillet with a wonderful gingery apple sauce from Nigel Slater is so good we've had it twice already. It has been really fun learning about all the different kinds of apples, last night we used Topaz. The recipe, from an article in the Guardian charts this brilliant writer's search to find the perfect apple tree for his garden after the scaffolder's uprooted his Blenheim Orange.

The orange cake is from The Telegraph and I made it because I can't bear to see my half-consumed polenta packet sitting unloved and ignored in the pantry any longer. And although I know Mr. Big can't bear polenta I felt confident I could hide it in a cake amidst thin, soft, sweet slices of organic orange, served with a big dollop of thick Greek yoghurt. And there were no complaints!

Roast fillet of Pork with Apples and Cider
(from Nigel Slater)
serves 2
400g fillet of pork
olive oil
2 onions
50g ginger, peeled and chopped finely
3 large apples
350ml cider
thyme (a small bunch of fresh is best but I used dried)
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Season the pork fillet with salt and pepper then place in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil and sear until browned all over. Set aside.
Dice the onions, roughly chop the apples and combine in a bowl with the ginger, thyme, salt, pepper and some olive oil. Put into a casserole and gently cook on the stove, when the onions become translucent, put back in the fillet of pork, place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
Remove the pork and wrap lightly in al-foil and let rest. Pour the cider into the roasting tin and bring to the boil on the stovetop, then simmer, reducing the liquid by half, stirring occasionally.
Carve the pork into thick slices and serve with the apple sauce. Mashed potato (if you can bring yourself to give it a go) works well as a side.

Sweet Orange Polenta Cake (from The Telegraph)
3 organic oranges
110g butter
3 Tbs+ 110g+ 2Tbs caster sugar
140g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
60g polenta
pinch of salt

Slice one orange really thinly, bring a wide pan of water to the boil and simmer the orange slices (minus the top and bottom ones) for about 2 minutes, remove and dry on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C . Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper and place however many orange slices you need over the base, filling the gaps (hopefully better than I did). Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Cream together the butter, 110g sugar and the pinch of salt. Grate the rind of 2 of the oranges and fold in together with 2 tablespoons of flour. Beat in the eggs one at a time and pour in the juice of one orange half. Fold in the remaining flour, baking powder and polenta.

Pour the mixture over the slices of orange and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (I needed only 30 minutes!). Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the cake tin, peel off the baking paper and invert. Combine the juice of 1 and a half oranges with 2 tablespoons of sugar, make lots of little holes in the cake with a skewer, then slowly pour the sugary juice over the cake.

05 Februar 2007

seven letters, starts with "L"

Mr Big and I were lucky enough to get hold of 1 cent flights to Ireland last weekend. We love Ryanair. We love Ireland. And I love the weekend papers and the Observer Food Monthly.

Since getting back from our break in this beautiful country I have slowly been working my way through copious recipes included in an article from this excellent monthly liftout entitled "Brain Food - are you getting enough?". We've had Best Fruit Nut Mix for breakfast, Best Fish Patties, and now this Best Herby Veggie Bake. Accordingly, we are expecting our registration forms from Mensa any day now.

Here is the recipe for the Herby Veggie Bake, a vegetarian lasagne. Jamie Oliver has an amazing recipe for meatballs with cumin and parmesan which really livens things up so I was intrigued to try this spice out again in a surprising way. The white sauce is made from soya milk, full of essential fatty acids and isoflavones to help protect against osteoporosis, menstrual problems and crossword trouble.

Best Herby Veggie Bake (from the Observer Food Monthly)
serves 6
for the white sauce:
50g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
500 ml soya milk

for the lasagne:
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 tbs flaxseed oil
3 zucchinis, diced
1 aubergine, diced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbs tomato puree
3 tbs fresh oregano
400g dried lasagne (I used much less)
3 tbs Parmesan, grated
6 fronds fresh dill
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 7). Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove from the heat, stir in the flour and cumin and put back on a gentle heat and stir continuously for 2 minutes, slowly adding the soy milk until quite thick.
Sweat the onion and garlic in a frying pan, then add the chopped veggies, oregano and tomato puree, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
Put a layer of veggie sauce into a lightly greased baking dish, then the lasagne sheets, alternating and finishing up with the veggies. The pour over the white sauce and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter the parmesan and fresh dill and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

14 Januar 2007

drizzle drizzle

Inspired by the constant downpour I baked this intensely citric Drizzle Cake a week ago from my new life manual, Jamie Olivers' "Cook with Jamie". And it is still pattering down.

Meanwhile, I did another Alice Medrich I-can't-believe-it's-low-fat Chesnut Cake, using up the tube of chesnut paste I bought in Strassbourg. Now I realize I was being led to the chesnut spread by higher forces because the cake amazingly good. Moist, decadent, brilliantly chesnutty. And unfortunately demolished before the photographer got here.

The Lemon Drizzle Cake is good though, definitely better than the Ricotta Hazelnut. But not a patch on the Chesnut.

Lemon Drizzle Cake (courtesy of Jamie Oliver)
115g butter, softened
115g sugar
4 large eggs
180g almond meal
30g poppy seeds
2 lemons, juiced and zested
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

for the syrup:
100g sugar
90g lemon juice

for the glaze:
225 icing sugar
juice of l lemon

Heat the oven to 180g. Line the sides and base of a 20cm springform cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar using an electric whisk, then add the eggs one at time. Fold in the almond meal, poppy seeds, lemon zest and juice, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Then pour into the cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.
Make the syrup by dissolving the sugar with the lemon juice in a saucepan on the stove, stirring constantly. When the cake is still warm-ish, poke lots of small holes in the cake and then pour the syrup over.
When the cake has absorbed the syrup and is cool, make the glaze by sifting the icing sugar and then stirring in the juice of 1 lemon. Pour over the cake and try to create a better drizzle effect than I did.