chocolate tarte

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

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.