Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Mousses with Plums and Hazelnut Cookies

Hello-lo as my sister would say! I’m tapping away, about to go and ‘put my face on’ and head off to mother-in-law’s sister’s wedding (as you do), and thought I should get this ready to post. Look at these lovely, luscious beauties!!! This is just my kind of dessert – creamy, smooth, milky Frangelico-spiked chocolate mousse topped with a crunchy crumbling of hazelnuts and a plump, tart plum. I used tinned Watties Black Doris plums for mine, but of course if you fancy, you can preserve your own! (I’m a sucker for the tinned ones – nostalgia maybe..?). Anyhoo, I love the bit of sharpness the plums add to balance out all that rich chocolatey goodness – and the fact that they are an absolute doddle to make – seriously quick and easy – but look so pretty! I served them with some little homemade tuille-esque hazelnut biscuits, but they would be just as good with your choice of thin dessert bikkies!
Feeling a bit nervous about afore-mentioned wedding at which I have been enlisted to take photos – errrp – it’s a bit like a barbecue master taking over the patisserie section…hope it all goes OK! (After this many years I feel pretty relaxed shooting any plate of food you fancy – but people – at night time – using my flash…cross your fingers for me). Anyhoo – current quick state of the nation before I go and get busy with the concealer – Henry is moving flat in Melbourne, or more precisely, is moving out of his flat, but hasn’t quite got a new one lined up (breathing very calmly about that), and still working away at Nique, Rich is getting into the swing of uni life and actually phoned me for a chat today – I just about wet my pants thinking there must be some emergency but luckily it was just for a lovely update, and he’s also coming up for his semester break next Thursday (yippee!), aaand Nick is back up in China doing what he does at the Shanghai office! So, yes that leaves me and the dogs. And my book. And girlfriends for sanity-restoring chats. And wine. And chocolate 🙂
OK – better go – have a great end-of-your-week, and keep an eye out – another new recipe coming for the weekend…

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Mousses and Hazelnut Biscuits

250ml cream
180g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Nutella
1 tablespoon Frangelico
3/4 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts (1/4 cup roughly chopped, and 1/2 cup whizzed to fine crumbs)
1/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon dark cocoa powder
2 small egg whites, lightly whisked
50g melted butter
Poached plums to serve – either home made or bought – I used Watties tinned Black Doris plums
Preheat oven to 200˚C and line two oven trays with baking paper. Heat 1/3 cup of the cream in the microwave or a small pot until just simmering. Remove from the heat and add chocolate. Add Frangelico and leave for a minute for the chocolate to melt then add Frangelico and whisk until smooth. Beat remaining cream to soft peaks then fold through chocolate mixture. Spoon into 6 serving glasses and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight. Whisk 1/4 cup of the ground hazelnuts with flour, caster sugar and cocoa in a  bowl. Whisk in egg whites and melted butter and drop heaped teaspoonfuls onto the baking trays – leaving plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. As soon as you remove them from the oven, carefully use a spatula to lift off the trays and rest over tinfoil/plastic wrap tubes or rolling pins to create a curved shape…otherwise just leave on a wire rack to cool for flat biscuits. Once cool store in an airtight container. 
To serve, cut three plums in half. Sprinkle remaining hazelnut crumbs onto mousses, top each with half a plum and sprinkle with roughly chopped hazelnuts. Makes 12 biscuits and 6 mousses

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Pear and Almond Frangipane Tart with Honey Semifreddo

Omigod – let me tell you (very quickly) about my morning…well I was up super early and primed to shoot a gorgeous recipe I have coming soon which I did for Bonds (vibrant green pizza – the topping is green not the base, it’s not some broccoli base…). Anyhoo, 7:30am, shot set up, camera ready, tethering working (long story), pizza in the oven looking delicious, aaaand then I bumped a reflector board which bumped a backboard and hey-ho dominoes, dived to save my camera while a glass of red wine tipped over and slo-mo glug glug glugged into the carpet and spattered up the curtain. Arrggghhh. So, camera all good, arm scraped and a wee bit tender, carpet stained and curtain ruined.  All by 7:45am. I contemplated a bit of a chin wobble then thought ‘stuff it’, cleaned it up as best I could (oh lordy the curtain…) and rang the carpet cleaners who said they’d be with me by 1:30pm. Back on track I looked forward to seeing the cleaners until they phoned around 3pm to say they wouldn’t make it today. Blergh. Big glass of wine coming up (I’m writing this Thursday evening not Friday morning), and I shall be getting that big glass to my mouth with a steady hand and no spills!!!
Right then – to the tart…as you may know I’m a sucker for tarts of any kind, big, small, sweet, savoury – you name it, I’m in. This recipe is one I shot for Fairax, and a real favourite, perfect for this time of year with a bit of an autumnal vibe. I’m not quite ready for a steamy hot pud, but I do crave something with a little more comfort factor and the sweet soft pears nestled in almond frangipane achieve it perfectly, topped with the honey semifreddo the result is outrageously good. The pears can also be served whole once poached, with a little of the semifreddo, and if you boil the poaching liquid for an extra 15 minutes once the pears are removed, you will have a lovely pear syrup to pour over them too! If you can’t be faffed with the semifreddo just serve with a little vanilla bean ice cream 🙂

Pear and almond frangipane tart:
 5 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out with the tip of a knife
1/2 tsp almond essence
peel from 1 lemon
3 Berre Bosc or William pears
Put all ingredients, (including vanilla bean seeds) except the pears in a big wide pot and bring to the boil stirring for a few minutes to dissolve sugar, then reduce to a simmer. Peel the pears then put into the simmering liquid, if they are not fully covered add a little more water to cover them, and if they bob above the surace, cut a circle of baking paper to place on top. Leave to cook for about 8-10 minutes if you have almost ripe pears and 25minutes for very firm. Test for doneness by piercing one to ensure the it is just soft but not mushy. Gently remove from the poaching liquid and stand upright to cool. Once cool core and cut into eighths – you may not use every piece, but the left over slices are delicious. Sometimes one or more of the pears may be a little brown in the centre – but fear not it will still taste wonderful! Serves 8-10
Pastry:
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup icing sugar
60g chilled butter, chopped
1 egg yolk (keep white)
1/2 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp ice water
Frangipane:
100g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups ground almond
1 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp almond essence
1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting
Put flour, almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and whiz to combine. Add butter and pulse to form breadcrumbs. Add egg and yolk, almond essence and water and pulse until pastry just comes together. Tip out onto a floured bench and form into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour. Spray a 25cm removable base tart tin with cooking oil and roll pastry out with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper to slightly larger than the diameter of the tin. Remove one sheet of baking paper and carefully roll over the rolling pin, then unroll pastry-side-down into the tart tin. Remove top sheet of baking paper and trim, squashing any broken pieces into place. Prick the base with a fork and refrigerate for at least half an hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Whiz second lot of butter, caster sugar, eggs, almonds, flour and almond essence in a food processor. Line the pastry shell with baking paper and fill with baking beans or weights. Bake for 10 mins then remove paper and beans, return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread frangipane evenly into base then arrange pears on top and bake for a further 25 minutes, until the frangipane is lightly golden. Cool before removing from base, sprinkle with icing sugar if desired and serve with honey semif-freddo.
Honey semifreddo:
1/3 cup runny honey
4 eggs, separated
300ml cream
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
Put the honey and egg yolks in a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until thickish and paler then take off the heat. In a separate bowl whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks. In another bowl whisk cream to soft peaks. Fold the yoghurt and cream together. Add egg yolks, honey and egg whites, continue folding until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a sealable container and freeze for 6 hours or over night. 

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Quick Prawn Curry

Hello, hello – this is going to be a super speedy wee note to go with this super speedy prawn curry recipe! I have just arrived back from Melbourne and my long weekend with Pog (Henry), and thanks to the Easter break, Melbourne and heading away again on Friday to Hawkes Bay with Nick, I have ten days work to do in three. Ooooh it was so lovely to see Henry, what a gorgeous fella, working hard, looking wonderful, but living in, it has to be said, a total cesspit of a flat – the only decent room is his bedroom which he has transformed into a stylish haven. Anyhoo, we ate, shopped walked and talked and it was bloody lovely – just so sad to leave knowing I won’t see him for another four months! As an added bonus I had a fab outing with my aunt and cousin visiting the Nicholas Gardens with lunch at The Piggery and all three of us snapping away, I feel that perhaps the photography thing might be a family obsession passion!
Right then – prawn curry – this is a recipe I put together for Fairfax, and is a great little week-night saviour, and also perfect to take a long to a pot-luck curry night. It is way more aromatic than you might expect, with an earthy base and a zesty finish! All you need is some store-bought naan or paratha and freshly cooked rice to serve. And possibly a beer. Enjoy, and I’ll be back soon! 🙂
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 small thumb ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
3 kaffir lime leaves, stripped from stem and finely sliced or finely grated zest of 1 large or 2 small limes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
400ml light coconut milk
1-2 teaspoons fish sauce (to taste – this is the salty element)
500g medium/large raw prawns
1/3 cup coriander leaves to serve
2 limes, quartered, to serve
Put onion, ginger, spring onions and garlic in a small food processor and blend to a paste. Heat oil in a large frying pan and add onion paste. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add turmeric, cloves, chilli and lime leaves or zest, and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add brown sugar, coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, for 5 minutes. Add prawns and cook for 5 minutes until coconut milk is slightly reduced and prawns are cooked through. Serve with extra lime wedges, rice, Indian bread and fresh coriander. Serves 4

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A Waiheke Easter

Gooood Morning from the airport! I’m so excited to be heading over for a weekend in Melbourne to visit Henry – woo hooooo! As usual we headed overseas (haha) to Waiheke for Easter and had a wonderful few days with Hoob up from uni in Wellington, and beautiful island weather to enjoy. Sadly Pog couldn’t get time off work in Melbourne, but I plan on making up for it when I see him with some mum-money dinners! Our Easter feast this year was made on the barbecue – two slow roasted legs of lamb, studded with garlic and cooked on a veritable bush of rosemary. To go with it a salad of rocket, baby ripe cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta and avocado with a herb and yoghurt dressing, and couscous with roasted red peppers, caramelised onions and pine nut dukkah. No pics of that lot I’m afraid, I was way too busy cooking, talking, laughing and drinking wine to get any good photos! We had friends and rellies with a good dose of young people to hang out with – bloody perfect. Thanks to Easter, there are no new recipes on the blog this week (whaaaat?), but fear not, I shall be back and on the case with more next week. In the meantime, hope everyone had a safe and happy Easter break, and I’ll see you soon….!!! 🙂

(A couple more extra sneaky Easter-on-Waiheke pics below)


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