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Monday, 30 September 2013

Egg flip fantasy

Egg flip fantasy

I've had something of a Pavlov's dog experience with alcohol this year. The last few times I've had a tipple, I've come down with some freaky-deaky illness. 

We're not talking the two day vapors, but 7 days of cold sweats, body aches and weight loss. And not the good kind of weight loss, just pure lean muscle. Thanks illness - so thoughtful!

So you'd understand that since my last bout of craziness, I've laid off the booze completely. Not even a cheeky sip on my own in the dark of night ( or especially?!). It's been so long now I'm starting to get judgemental. I'm just the kinda person to liven up your next party. I'd sit in the corner and sulk, spitting advice at people who don't want or need it. Delightful!

But some things haven't changed in the least. As a part of my egg series recently, I thought I'd whip up an egg flip of fantastic proportions. One to knock Big M off its perch. So calorie-laden it's like we're surgically removing all goodness that ever existed in the egg. And so fiddly you'd almost never choose to make it at home - cos that's the kind of recipe you want to see on a food blog, amirightladies?

How did I know that, deep down, my old-lady-screaming-at-passers-by-surrounded-by-cats-pushing-a-trolley-filled-with-crap alcoholic tendencies still lurked beneath the surface? Because everyone knows a good egg flip has a nip of something strong included. And my pouring arm has not weakened. 

I had a sip of the flip (yep, been trying to work that line into a post for a while now) and it packed serious punch. So much punch my eyes rolled back into my head. I may have started krumping on the spot. But I knew this one had to go down the sink and whip up a new batch. The recipe below is the safe version. Depending on your definition of safe.

Egg flip fantasy


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
1 shot brandy or your poison of choice
1/4 tsp vanilla paste

Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan and dissolve over low heat. Bring to the boil and heat to the soft ball stage (once a few drops of the syrup are dropped in a glass of cold water, they should form soft balls).

Meanwhile, separate one egg and beat the white in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks have formed. Slowly add your sugar syrup and beat until cool.

In a blender, combine the remaining yolk, the extra egg, milk, vanilla and alcohol. Blend for 20 seconds and pour into a glass. Top with your meringue mixture and serve.

Egg flip fantasy

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Parmesan popcorn with bay leaf salt

Parmesan popcorn with bay leaf salt

There is one single taboo topic left in my family's house. Not what happens between the bed covers, not the colour of your skin, not even the miracle of life. Nope. The unspoken topic in our house was internet banking.

My brothers were (and still are) massive computer nerds. Early adopters as far as the internet goes, they were paying their bills online since the dawn of netbank. Dad, on the other hand, believed Al Qaeda ran internet banking, and payments for your monthly gas bill go straight to funding their next 'operation'. I wish I were joking.

There's a fundamental distrust of technology going on there. Heaters don't keep a room warm for as long as open fires and air conditioners cause colds and flus. Microwaves are a whole other story.
I hate to say it, but I have to agree with that last one.

Parmesan popcorn with bay leaf salt

Microwaves give me the heebie-jeebies. I'll reheat a container of soup, but that's about it. When it comes to popcorn, I'm always reaching for the loose kernels rather than the paper bag of microwave corn. Can I actually pop the corn on the stovetop? No siree Bob!

I've burnt the kernels, and soaked them for hours in oil with no result. Every time we went to chow down on a bowl of corn, we came up greasy, smokey disappointments.

Parmesan popcorn with bay leaf salt

A little research and I stumbled on the best method. Heat the oil over a medium heat. Drop in three kernels and wait for them to pop. Whip them out, then throw the remainder in the pop. Cover, then remove from the heat for about 20 seconds to bring them up to temperature. Pop them back on the heat then let them pop their hearts out.

The flavours? Ain't nothing better than cheese on popcorn if you're living on Savoury Street. But plain old cheese doesn't cut the mustard. My buddy JacDav had snaffled me some bay leaves from her tree and dried them especially. Their scent was totally outrageous. Grind those babies up and they add a totally savoury, herby twist to your regular old popcorn. A bit of smokey salt and we were away.

You'll see that I've enjoyed the corn with a little sweet liquid treat. Egg nog. Uh yeah. That was a cracker. But you'll get that recipe soon enough. Focus: today we're creating the popcorn. And you won't even need a microwave. Now those terrorists won't be able to spy on you while you're watching Hilary Duff's latest blockbuster. Or whatever.


1/3 cup popcorn kernels
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 bay leaves
1 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Cook popcorn on stovetop according to directions above. In a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the bay leaves with salt until fine. While still warm, add cheese and butter in three batches, stirring week between each addition. Sprinkle over the bay salt and enjoy.

Parmesan popcorn with bay leaf salt

Monday, 23 September 2013

Eclair ecstasy

Eclair ecstasy

I'm really giving my horn a good ol' toot today, aren't I? But I can't take all the credit for these suckers. The grand ol' dame of Australian cookery, Margaret Fulton, is responsible for the choux recipe. And Shannon Bennett, chef from Vue De Monde (do yourself an expensive favour), created the creme patisserie (I've modified it here). Pretty reliable stuff.

I had planned on posting about these a few months ago, but my piping technique was a little, shall we say, phallic. Bulbous on one end and peaked on the other, I had managed to whip up some crisp golden doodles for dessert. Not really suitable for the office.

It reminded me of a time growing up when we were served sausages and mash. As soon as Mum's back was turned, my brothers were plastering their food into an exact replica of David's most valuable assets. Bennetto's are a classy bunch.

On this occasion I managed to make a far less offensive dish. The eclairs are fairly uniform in shape and there'll be no awkwardness polishing them off in front of your colleagues.

The shining star of this is honestly the pastry cream. This is a new level of richness that just won't quit. The vanilla is so pronounced: it doesn't play second fiddle to the chocolate. It's a good idea to fill these as close to serving as possible. Sog reduction is key.

I've probably made about a thousand different chocolate sauces on this blog before, so at the risk of repeating myself, I've linked back to the crazy old baked cheesecake from a few months ago. You won't be sorry.

Eclair ecstasy

So I promise my next post will be far less bawdy. No more references to anatomy, puerile humour or titter-worthy gags. This is a once-off. I don't usually do this.

That's what she said...


1 cup water
125g butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Bring the water and butter to the boil slowly, melting butter. Reduce heat and add flour, stirring until the mixture comes together in a ball. Remove from heat and add the mixture to the bowl of your electric mixer. Mix on high, adding eggs one at a time. Make sure you mix thoroughly to ensure the dough does not split. Add the sugar and salt and mix until incorporated.

Place the dough in a piping bag. Pipe onto a lined baking sheet in 10cm lengths. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 180ºC and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Eclair ecstasy

Creme patisserie

1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla paste
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp cornflour

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream and vanilla and bring to the boi slowly. In the meantime, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Add the cornflour and whisk to combine.

Add 1/2 cup of warmed milk to the yolk mixture and stir to combine. Add to the remaining milk in the saucepan and return to a low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. You may wish to whisk the mix if it thickens to quickly. Once the creme has thickened and just boiled, remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator.

To fill the eclairs, fill a piping bag with the creme patisserie. Poke a small hole in the ends of the eclairs and pipe in the creme.

Top with chocolate sauce.

Eclair ecstasy

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Scrambled eggs with asparagus and mandarine juice

Scrambled eggs with asparagus and mandarin juice

Everyone hates a grandstander. You know the guy: arrives 10 minutes late to a meeting, dominates conversation, argues for the sake of arguing and has an opinion on everything. Mostly stuff they have no clue about.

I also like to call them time vampires. They suck the minutes from your day, using 20 words to explain a 5 word concept. I'm guessing their motivation is to hear the dulcet tones of their own voice. Meanwhile, I'm imagining climbing across the table and socking them in the throat just to. make. it. stop.

Before you quickly delete your Pretty Tasty bookmark and back away slowly from your computer, let me explain. My calendar, both personal and private, is pretty chockas. I spend my day running from one meeting room to the next and I naturally develop a little bit of hatred for people that cause me to run late. I do a good enough job of that myself.

So I like my meetings short and sharp. Get to the point, show people the courtesy of assuming they understand ideas without explaining every last point. The only exception to this would be when we're discussing our latest meal. Wax lyrical for hours. Tell me where you bought that hanger steak! You did WHAT with a an artichoke? I can hardly believe the size of that turkey leg! I'm captivated for hours and my responsibilities float away on a cloud made of Persian fairy floss and marshmallow. Rose flavoured.

This happened yesterday. About to launch into a quick meeting and a colleague mentioned her breakfast that morning. Steamed asparagus topped with orange juice and scrambled eggs. I was intrigued: I'm normally not into scrambled eggs. I find them just a bit too much. They're often loaded with butter or cream and the serving sizes just do me in. I'm more of a poached egg lady myself.

Scrambled eggs with asparagus and mandarin juice

But the addition of orange juice? It could be either really great or bin-worthy. A risk I was willing to take, particularly in asparagus season. I'm in, feet first.

I had no oranges in the fruit bowl, so mandarines were a happy substitute. I gotta say, this recipe is now firmly in the regular rotation. The juice is subtle (if you go easy in the first place) and adds a nice background of sweetness to the fluffy eggs. And asparagus? No brainier at this time of year. If you want to up the fatty ante, you could sizzle some strips if streaky bacon. This soon-to-be bride opted out of that situation.

So my thanks to Sue for holding up our meeting describing this dish. It was worth the five minutes of running around and apologising at my next appointment. Though that could have been my incessant grandstanding. I never said I'm perfect.


5 asparagus spears
1 shallot
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs
juice one small mandarine

Steam asparagus until cooked to your liking. Slice the shallot and saute in olive oil until translucent.

In a small bowl beat eggs until yolk is broken up. Pour into the shallots along with the mandarine juice and stir to ensure they cook evenly. Remove from heat when mostly cooked but still slightly runny. Season well and serve over the steamed asparagus.

Scrambled eggs with asparagus and mandarin juice

Monday, 16 September 2013

Kale, cheddar and streaky bacon omelette

Kale cheddar and streaky bacon omelette

I wish I could come up with a witty story for you this fine day. But I'm flat broke, imagination-wise. Sucked dry, devoid of all frivolity in my fun-tal cortex. "Why?" I hear you ask. All weekend, my wakeup time has been 5.30am and my brain has been slowing going into meltdown.

5.30 is OK when you hit the hay at a reasonable hour. But I try to extend my bedtime a little later to trick my body into waking slightly later. But alas, my brain is clinging to a time before sunrise. I don't even have to look at my clock now - I know it's stupid o'clock when my eyes open.

Kale cheddar and streaky bacon omelette

So I've been rolling out of bed at this crazy time and hitting the road for a run. Either that or squatting up a storm with some kettle bell swings. Did I ever tell you about my experience in Rebel Sport? I was new to this whole fitness caper and was in search of some equipment. "Do you have kettle balls?" I asked the young salesperson. He quite rightly looked at me like I'd said something reasonably obscene. "Aaahhhhh, over on the far wall you'll find the kettle bells I think you're after." I slunk off and refused to make eye contact with anyone else in the store.

After I've returned from sweating it up, sleepy-style, I've normally got a crazy hunger on. Given my wake time is so early, I've got a bit of time to whip up a cooked breakfast and take the time to enjoy it over a short black. Omelette is my go-to breakfast. Up with protein! Down with carbs! Well, at breakfast time, anyway.

Kale cheddar and streaky bacon omelette

Kale cheddar and streaky bacon omelette

This is a little more indulgent than I'd have on a weekday. I'm a egg-white kinda gal, and don't usually include the cheddar. But now that I have partaken in this delight, it'll be hard to go back to a leaner, meaner version of this dish. There's the salt from the cheese, the sharp bite of the kale and richness the eggs deliver. Smoky salt seals the deal.

So I'm done for today. It's hay time and I've barely lifte a finger. That's a lie. I made an omelette. Time to take a well-earned nap. Toodle-pip!

Kale cheddar and streaky bacon omelette


2 eggs
2 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup finely sliced kale
2 rashers streaky bacon, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
smoked salt flakes

In a stainless steel pan, heat half the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the bacon for 2 minutes, then add the kale. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring regularly until the kale is wilted and slightly crispy. Keep warm on a plate

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until combined. Heat the remaining olive oil in the pan and add the eggs. Cook over medium heat until the eggs are set. Sprinkle over the cheese and some cracked black pepper. Over one half, add the kale and bacon, as well as a sprinkle of salt. Carefully loosen the egg from the pan and fold the bare half over to cover the kale. Slide carefully onto your plate and enjoy!

Kale cheddar and streaky bacon omelette

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Baked eggs with pumpkin, cauliflower and kale

Baked eggs with pumpkin, cauliflower and kale

My Saturday morning normally starts something like this: I wake up at 6am to Kitty mewing at the window. I’ll stumble out of bed, panda-eyed and stinky-breathed, let her in and climb back under the covers to return to a peaceful slumber. That slumber never eventuates because I’m too busy deciding which café to visit for breakfast.

Matty’s Saturday morning? Sleep. When it’s a reasonable time to wake up, sleep some more. Ignore your girlfriend’s subtle elbows in the side. Instead, continue sleeping your mouth open and breathe all over her face until she’s forced to roll over. Once it hits 12pm, start reading the news online in bed. Reject any suggestions for breakfast at a local café.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Broad bean risotto with asparagus and egg


After a week and a half of a funky tummy, I'd had a gutful of potatoes and rice. Pun intended. A limited diet couldn't have happened to a worse person. The first meal back was a big deal: ideally it would consist of some kind of trough arrangement with different kinds of pastas, roast meats and dumplings all ready to be gorged upon. Shit was about to get real.

In the end the pressure was too much. Anything with chilli, dairy or caffeine and I'd be back in Toilet Town. And I couldn't play favourites with my roasts, so I decided to keep it simple. A poached egg on toast. A better choice couldn't have been made. The yolk was runny, the white just set. A sprinkle of sea salt and a grinding of pepper was all that little beauty needed.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Spring has sprung!


But only just. We're two days into spring and Melburnians are already getting a mean sunburn. Sunday topped 25ºC here and by Wednesday we're heading for 26. If you think I'm a little obsessed with the weather, you'd be wrong. Not just a little. It's the first thing I check in the morning, and the last site I read before bed. I've been watching the days grow longer by minutes, day after excruciating day.

With spring, our world has turned technicolour. I've been craving shades other than dull oranges and browns for months and all of a sudden, they've hit. Pinks, greens, yellows, reds and purples have all popped out of nowhere and taken over our garden. I picked up some bulbs from Tesselaar online and threw them in the ground a few months ago. They were late in, but still managed to liven up the place when spring hit.


My intention with gardening is always to plant one or two shrubs and walk away. The trouble is, I see the colour and start scheming my next steps: colours that compliment or shapes to fill in the gaps. My 'easy-to-maintain' garden has just become bigger than Ben Hur.

I've popped in some jonquils, a couple of types of daffodils, snapdragons, tulips, cornflowers and others. When I say "and others" I mean they looked pretty on the website and I paid good money for them and now cannot, for the life of me, remember their names or how to care for them. I figure all plants like a good soak of seaweed and fish solution every so often, right? (Please tell me I'm right.)

Pink flowers

So while I've been unable to cook anything other than rice over the last week (yes, for realsies, this stomach bug is still kicking my butt, both literally and figuratively, 7 days later) my new focus has been my garden. I can potter for 10 minutes or so before I need to retire to the couch to watch an episode of Ellen that's at least 12 months old. Or watch the back of my eyelids. Or, in my cases, both.

I'm figuring over the next week I'll focus on things other than food. You don't need a recipe for baked potatoes and it'll force me to broaden my creative horizons. Let's fancy up this one trick pony.

Front garden