Monday, October 31, 2011

Spiced (The Kitchen Reader)

It's time for another Kitchen Reader book! This month's was Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials By Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes On in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen, chosen by Libbi of Domestic Wandering.

I wasn't expecting to like this book, because for some reason I thought a memoir would be boring. And yes, some bits I wasn't too interested in the outcome of (relationship stuff? Surprisingly not my thing), but generally it was great. It actually made me want to become a pastry chef, until the rational part of my brain piped in with "No Emily, we've already done that and it wasn't as fun as you expected". Which brings me to the point that I don't think I've ever mentioned on my blog that I started a traineeship with an Italian pastry chef. But I digress!

The whole leaving-my-desk-job-to-pursue-my-dream thing is a bit hackneyed, but I wasn't quite as irritated by it in this book because it's actually real life, not a terrible film storyline. It also seems like nobody ever learns anything in culinary school that is of real value to working in a professional kitchen. Regardless, I really enjoyed the book, and got through it exceptionally quickly, which probably means I was more sucked in to the story than I anticipated. I would recommend this to anyone who is curious about what its like working in a kitchen. In my experience, the chauvinism and dysfunction are a bit hyperbolic in the book, but its definitely a good read.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta (Secret Recipe Club)

SRC time again, already! Having something to do every month really makes me realise how little I post on my blog. This month I was assigned to Ethan's blog, Food in My Hands. I spent the better part of the month trying to decide what to make, everything looks so good. First it was Maple Swirl Bread, then White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies, then Veggie Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce... in the end, though, I settled on roast eggplant and tomato pasta. Because I love me some pasta, and I was keen to try roast eggplant. I made this for dinner at the Friendzone, so instead of adding sausages (because Levi is a vegetarian and veggie sausages are expensive!) I substituted them for mushrooms, and I think it worked out delightfully. I also substituted fresh tomato for tinned diced tomato, thats just because I am lazy. Also tomatoes are expensive at the moment, who knew?

As always, the Secret Recipe Club website is looking delightful and you should head over there.

Serves 4
Time commitment: 40 minutes roasting, 20 minutes actual work
Recipe from Food In My Hands
Cost: $1.82 per serve. 

500g pasta (I used elbow pasta, but I'm sure anything would work)
1 large eggplant
6 mushrooms
400g can diced tomato
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cube the eggplant and put it in a roasting dish with a generous amount of olive oil. Cook for about 40 minutes or until roasted, flipping halfway to make sure its all even. Well, as even as it will get. Fun fact: Smaller cubes that have lots of olive oil go really crispy and are fun to eat straight out of the oven.

2. Slice mushrooms and fry in a little olive oil until browned. Turn heat to medium-low, add diced tomatoes, and heat. Add eggplant and let the sauce thicken.

3. At this point, you can cook the pasta and serve it, or refrigerate the sauce for later. I haven't tried freezing it yet, I'm not sure about how it would go with the texture of the eggplant, but I made mine before uni and threw it in the fridge until dinner and it turned out fine!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gingerbread Cuffins with Cream Cheese Icing

Do you ever get to that stage where you know you've had a recipe bookmarked for ages, but its not until you finally get around to making it that you see how embarrassingly long it has been there for? I realised when I finally got around to purchasing all of the ingredients yesterday that Sian published this recipe in December 2009. Gracious me. I had been planning to make these yesterday, but then my friend who I haven't seen in almost a year (disgraceful!) came over with cupcakes and we had a grand old time which meant I needed to devote the rest of my afternoon to uni work. So instead when I woke up at 8 this morning after having a terrible sleep, I made these for breakfast. Also I can highly recommend the uncooked mixture as one of the more delicious things I have eaten.

Sorry, family members who think I am responsible. It gave me the boost I need to write more of my essay! That counts as responsibility!

I'm still not sure whether to call them cupcakes or muffins... I feel like cupcakes are terribly dainty and adorable and celebratory, and the spices in these make me want to call them muffins. I think the fact that it is cream cheese icing, which must be healthy because its used on carrot cake and that is a cake with CARROTS in it so +50 health points, has swayed me to the "muffin" side. Even though I know what is in cream cheese icing now and its essentially butter icing with cream cheese. Cupcake muffins. Cuffins.

Makes 10 large, muffin-sized serves
Total time commitment: About 40 minutes, including 20 minutes cooking time
Recipe from Monster Girl Writes

1/2 cup SR flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
100g butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat oven to 170C. Combine dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and mix together. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake until springy and golden.

While cooking, combine the following:
30g butter
50g cream cheese
2/3 cup icing sugar

When the cupcakes are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before icing them. Lovely!