Tuesday 24 September 2013

Violet truffles

Yep I know- chocolate again!  But I can't resist flower scented chocs.  I have had this recipe floating around in my recipe folder for ages, so this week I thought now is the time. I ordered some violet liqueur from Mount Tamborine Distillery last week (as any sort of violet liqueur is not easily come by in Brisbane), and I bought some violet colouring so I was good to go.  The recipe does not call for colouring but I thought it would look better rather than plain white.  I was not able to obtain crystallised violets either in shops or online, so I used some little Queen decorating flowers and coloured them with the violet colouring and then chopped them into tiny pieces to sprinkle on top of the truffles.
Chocolate is best made on a cool day so it was probably not a great idea to pick the hottest week for September in years but I didn't let that stop me!
(BTW- I suggest melting the chocolate in a pyrex jug so that you have a nice deep puddle in which to roll your truffles.  You can then stick a skewer through them, jam those into a piece of styrofoam then pull them off and place in petit-four cases.  I  wish I had done this with these!)
getting ingredients together
a few more ingredients
starting to roll the ganache filling in icing sugar
these little beauties look like sausage mince!
dropping the mix into the melted dark chocolate
the finished truffles- don't laugh at their funny appearance- it was hard to do!

Sunday 22 September 2013

Beechworth tomato relish

My mother in law asked me recently to make her some relish for her breakfast biscuits.  Apparently she just eats relish on biscuits in the morning.  Well who said we have to eat cornflakes or toast?
So I hunted up some recipes on the Net and found this rather wonderfully old-fashioned CWA-type recipe.  I love those sorts of recipes and collect CWA and local cookbooks whenever I find them.  They always have such interesting and "steady" recipes; you feel like your grandmum is standing behind you helping you to make the lovely dishes, and that they will always turn out just right.
Here's hoping my MIL likes the relish I made her this week!
(my tip with this recipe:  keep the drained tomato liquid in the freezer and re-use in stews or curries etc).
piling up the ingredients

more ingredients!

about to bubble away
chopped up and ready to go
the finished product

Thursday 19 September 2013


chocolate lovers trying out the diverse flavours of regional chocolate
Okay readers, you know I like chocolate and I like it dark and not too sweet.  That's not to say I won't devour an Easter egg made of compound chocolate, or some other over the top gooey product if thrust in front of me.
I am fascinated by how a cacao bean becomes such a delectable treat after it has been processed.  Those Aztecs/Mayans- I am never sure who-surely were on to a good thing when they first picked up the big pod full of beans and decided to ferment, dry, roast, grind and press them into chocolate heaven.  Well, once they thought of adding a bit of sugar to the mixture anyway.  I suggest googling it to check out photos of the weird pods and beans.
So, Mr Pickings and I headed out on a most beautiful Queensland day last weekend to trendy Paddington,  to check out the incredible Antiques Centre, my fave St Vinnies full of bargains, and Monty's chocolate shop (about which I have blogged before).
Steve the owner was hosting a chocolate tasting with Peter from Cravve chocolates.  They had a range of different chocolates to try, sourced mainly from the Pacific region, all with incredibly diverse flavour accents depending on where they come from.
a table full of regional chocolate

Peter kindly answered a few of my chocolatey questions:
How did you arrive at the name Cravve for your business?
we were formerly byron tea & cocoa but on moving to burleigh felt a name change was due to something not as demographic and defined our philosophy in a single word over time we drifted to crave but for trademark reasons use a 'vv'
What led you into making chocolate and when did you start?
i've spent a lifetime in food and worked with chocolate off and on over the years around 2000 started in drinking chocolate with a origin range which has grown to couverture drinking choc which led to couverture dark chocolate
How did you source your beans? 
mainly through industry contacts made over the years who put me in touch with growers & grower groups across the Pacific
Do you roast and process them into chocolate yourself?
yes, we have the beans harvested and dried shipped to us then we sort- roast- winnow-refine and finally conche the cocoa into chocolate over a 3-4 day period
Do you still love chocolate? J(I assume you did/do)
yes but only dark origin cacaos, i don't have much interest in pretty lolly chocolate.

Steve and Peter in front of Monty's

Monday 16 September 2013

Love enamel dishes!

Yesterday Mr Pickings and I headed out to Paddington which is a hilly suburb with one very long winding street through the middle of it.   Along this street are many cute old Queenslander cottages that have been converted into cafes, galleries, boutiques and with a lovely old St Vinnies.  I cannot resist an enamel dish so these beauties had my name written all over them!  And orange for heaven's sake- never have I seen such delights. So here they are, safely tucked away in my kitchen till they feel the need to migrate to another cook's domain.

Monday 9 September 2013

Hatch & Co.

September is a fabulous month in Brisbane.  The weather is warming up, the birds are singing, the flowers blooming and the festivals are flourishing!   Mr Pickings and I had gotten up early (for a Sunday) and made our way to Southbank to have breakfast and then attend a session at the Writers' Festival.  We listened to Tim Fischer who was erudite and well spoken, and then William Mcinnes who was shall we say a little under the weather after the previous night's festivities.  Hubby then had to give a talk up the other end of Southbank so by the time he got back to me, we were both starving.  I knew that the new Gasworks complex had just opened a few days ago, and there were a couple of places to eat.  We hotfooted it across town, and came upon Hatch & Co.   It was getting on for 3pm by then so we were glad to see plenty of diners still enjoying a meal.   We sat down and the waitress promptly brought menus and water.  We quickly scanned the menu which is mostly sharing plates and tapas type small plates with a few mains and pizza thrown into the mix.  I wanted to try several dishes so we had freshly shucked oysters,  manchego croquettas, house smoked salmon , farmhouse terrine and a seared tuna pasta.  Oh my word!  It was all so very tasty.  Prices are reasonable- oysters were $3.50 each and the croquettas $4.  Pizza ranged from $18-24, and desserts from $9-12.
Our waitress assured us the dessert we had chosen -vanilla panna cotta with salted caramel, malt ice cream and cookie crumb was also her favourite.  And yes indeed it was a delicious finale to our meal.
I am keen to come back and try a few more of the dishes and to enjoy another glass of the very drinkable Tasmanian sparkling I had with my meal.   It is a very pleasant light and air filled space with friendly, helpful staff and seems to have hit the ground running even though the official opening is not till this week.  Hubby and I were very pleased to have tried out a very new establishment and found delicious food, great staff and an all-round pleasant way to finish off our cultural day.

the house smoked salmon was superb-not over smoky just melting and moreish

perfect fresh oysters

tuna that had been seared lightly and served on angel hair pasta

farmhouse terrine with lots of watercress and tiny tasty pickles

I could eat lots of these croquettas!

dessert to die for!

light and airy space with a bit of an industrial feel with hanging lights in wire cages

Hatch & Co on Urbanspoon

Friday 6 September 2013

Coconut lime sorbet

Seeing as how the weather is unseasonably warm (the hottest 12 months in recorded Brisbane weather) I decided to try a refreshing sorbet.  I checked out the Web for some ideas and found this recipe by Ellen from the Orange and Cardamom blog.
I made a few slight changes;  I boiled the sugar and water for a few minutes after the sugar was dissolved to get a thicker syrup,  and not having an icecream maker as previous readers will know,  I whisked the partly frozen mixture after it had been in the freezer for a couple of hours to break up the ice crystals then refroze it till solid.  If you were energetic you could do this twice so it became really smooth!
love my penguin scoop!
So delicious!