Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Patience Pays Off

Chocolate mousse for breakfast anyone? More like morning tea, but you get my drift. The mousse turned out beautifully. I'm sure if I had used cream, it would've been a little fluffier and lighter but it's just right for me. Thick, rich and delicious. I dusted a mixture of cinnamon and chilli powder over the tops of my mousses, then grated some of the leftover dark chocolate as a garnish. The chilli powder just adds that little hit of warmth, contrasting perfectly with the cold, creaminess of the mousse. I have truly impressed myself this time!

 And as I said last night, I would post up a picture of the risotto I made a few nights ago. It's pretty damn hard to make risotto look nice, but here ya go. I used chardonnay, chicken stock, onion, Chinese garlic shoots, Parmesan cheese, thyme, a little lemon zest and juice with a bit of pan friend chicken thrown in for good measure. The best part about risotto is that you need barely any rice to actually make a decent sized meal. One cup of rice got me three meals. A trick I learned (originally from my mum) is to combine the wine, stock, lemon juice and cooked onion and garlic in a saucepan and heat together. Then slowly add to the risotto rice, all the flavours will combine and the rice will absorb it's yummy goodness. The flavour combinations in this one reminded me of a lemon chicken tortellini that I made a while back for mother's day - I must make that one again.

Alright, time to come back to reality and finish this assignment I've been slowly working on. Signing off from the red and white checked tablecloth.

For the Love of Chocolate

So I had a pretty bad day, and as cliché as I made the title of this post, I followed suit and played with chocolate to cheer myself up. I never usually have the patience for making mousses and the like, purely because I'm more focused on the end product but tonight, the focus was on the therapeutic melting of butter and silky chocolate, (I'm so tempted to use the word "velvety") stirred in with beaten egg yolks and sugar. Next add the milk and beat until the mixture thickens.

Chocolate brown has always been one of my favourite colours, it makes me feel warm and comforted. Just like chocolate tends to do to most females. For me, the darker the chocolate, the better. Whittaker's dark Ghana is one of the best. A couple (well maybe a little more) of dipped fingers licked and my worries from tonight's shift had just melted away.

During my love affair with chocolate, I learned the epic secret to melting it. Having an incredible lack of microwave appliances and a past of burning chocolate on the stove, I searched up a little something something on how to melt chocolate properly. If you have a bar/block, like I did, place it in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water for a few minutes. DO NOT STIR IT, whatever you do, or you'll get a very unattractive mess of watery chocolate. Instead, leave the chocolate to sit in the boiling water, then poke with the tip of a knife to see whether it is soft. Then, gently tip the water off, holding back the chocolate with a spoon or the blade of a knife. VOILA! You have deliciously velvety (See? Couldn't help myself!), indulgently melted chocolate.

I also discovered that I am much better at separating egg yolks and whites using my hands. How did I not know of this until now??

Now, I'm not entirely sure how long I should be leaving these to set, so I'll probably leave them over night. Considering it is now 12am. I'll make sure to update with photos in the morning.. plus I'll share a picture of the awesome risotto I made the other night for dinner. It went down well with a bottle of chardonnay at yet another "me-home-alone-by-myself-forever-alone party". Just kidding, as it says in my about me - I'm perfectly lonely. Just me, wine, chocolate and my red and white checked tablecloth.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Italian Meringues and Procrastination Baking

First post of a new blog. Third time's the charm it seems. Mind you, a bottle of grenache shiraz helps too.

Tonight I had two things on the agenda, studying for those two tests that are sitting there dauntingly on my calendar for tomorrow morning. I tried my best but five thirty came around and enticed me with an unopened bottle of red and the allure of a sweet, rich pasta dish for one. Admittedly I snapchatted my meal to more than a couple of people. I opened up my books and sat down to study with a glass of wine in one hand and a fine tipped Biro in the other.. Then my mind wandered to the egg whites I had in the freezer. All it took was one dip in the sink to defrost them. What's a quick fix for a girl who's dying for a dessert, a poor student with only sugar and egg whites? Italian meringue perhaps?

While "Under the Tuscan Sun" was downloading, I heated a few large teaspoons of sugar with a couple of splashes of boiling water. Add a few drops of vanilla essence and beat it into some egg whites until it becomes a silky, sticky bowl of goodness. Spoon it into small mounds onto a baking tray and leave it in the oven at 100ÂșC for however long you can manage waiting. While their in the oven, pour yourself another glass of wine, like me, and leave some mixed berries in a pan with some brown sugar to warm up.

Let the meringues cool. Generally I'd say leave them in the fridge but after three glasses of wine and trying desperately to avoid studying, I just let them cool to room temperature. Then, if you've got awesome parents like mine, use a gourmet dessert blowtorch to crisp up the edges and give it a bit of colour. Assemble one or two meringues with some of those warmed berries and devour it.

Watching Under the Tuscan Sun is making me want to run away to Italy. We can all dream. Me from my little table with the red and white checked table cloth, signing off.