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Truffle Love

Posted in Chocolate, Recipes with tags , , on November 19, 2008 by thepseudoepicurean

We realised it was B’s birthday 2 days ago, thanks to my wonderful Facebook reminder. After cracking our heads as to what present to get her (and she pretty much has everything; what she wants and doesn’t have, we probably can’t afford!), we decided to make her some lovely home-made chocolate truffles.

We flipped a couple of recipe books (Gordon Ramsay, Vue de Monde, etc) but found the Alton Brown recipe from Food Network the simplest and least fussy of all.

We heated some double cream, melted some butter, and poured the boiling fat over a bowl of Monsieur Truffe’s 70% cocoa chips. Stirred and cooled it over a bowl of ice, and there we had our ganache! It was absolutely easy peasy and such a delight to make!

A whole bowl of ooooozey chocolatey goodness!

Ganache

Ganache

We also had 3 types of coatings – the classic Belgian (couverture chocolate coating dusted with cocoa powder), blitzed pistachios, and lastly some more Monsieur Truffe cocoa chips that we massacred in the blender. My favourite was the classic Belgian truffle, although I enjoyed all 3.

Pistachio Truffles

Pistachio Truffles

Classic Belgian truffles

Classic Belgian truffles

Packed the gems in a spanking new Decor container, tied it up with a ribbon, and voila!

Birthday Box

Happy Birthday B!

And now let’s just hope she enjoys the truffles. They were made with love!

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The Anzac Day Dinner Party

Posted in Chocolate, Cooking, Desserts, Dinner Parties with tags , , , on April 29, 2008 by thepseudoepicurean

It’s nice having girlfriends at work, the kind with whom you discuss anything but work. They’re my lifeline whenever shit hits the fan. Even though we have our regular morning coffee runs and our lunch catch-ups, we’ve never really gone out together before, so over the long weekend last week, I invited the girls over to my place for a dinner party, which hopefully is the start of many more to come!

I have to admit I was pretty stressed out about the menu, which I didn’t decide upon till the very night before. It’s my first time cooking for a party of 5, I wanted to make things look pretty (we’re girls after all), but I also wanted to take this opportunity to try out new dishes that I’d never have a chance to otherwise. The catch was that one of them was vegetarian, and I wasn’t keen on doing a special vegetarian dish for her simply because 1. I was lazy, and 2. I didn’t want her to feel ‘left out’ from the rest of the group. So I did the next best thing of making all my dishes vegetarian, then made a separate dish of moroccan chicken kebabs and parma ham on the side of my starters. It worked like magic – everyone had a great time and my Vegegirl could eat almost everything!

The menu for the night

Starters
1. Antipasto of crusty Dench sourdough ciabatta, grissini, parma ham, olive oil
Jman spotted some lovely parma ham from the continental grocers a couple of days before the party so he grabbed them for me. It had this beautiful melt-in-your-mouth texture and was bursting with flavour without being too salty. This is one of the easiest starters to put together with the least fuss, so it was perfect while I focused on all the other dishes.

2. Salad caprese with buffalo mozzarella
This is another no-brainer that is always the crowd-pleaser. Ripened tomatoes, basil and morsels of delicate buffalo mozzarella is always a winning combination! Mmmm…

Mains
1. Feta, spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Truth be told, I had grand plans of making a spinach & ricotta ravioli from scratch. The Jman bought a wonderful pasta machine a few weeks back and I was eager as a beaver to put it to the test again. But then when I thought of all the work that it involved (and on my small kitchen benchtop), I decided it wasn’t a good idea after all. The last thing I need is to be stressed before a dinner party.

After poring over countless websites and cookbooks for the whole week, I finally settled on a cannelloni because it’s a communal dish that everyone can tuck into (a bit of mess makes dinner parties more fun), it’s easy, and it’s a nice change from the boring ol’ pasta. Most importantly, it was easy to do a vegetarian take on this one! I found a really nice recipe from Taste – nice because it had a bit of a twist to the filling, which included Greek feta cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. I also had some leftover buffalo mozzarella so I tore it up and sprinkled it over the cannelloni.

I made the filling early in the morning, piped them into the cannelloni tubes in the early afternoon, and by the time the girls arrived, dinner was ready without even breaking a sweat! Score!

2. Roasted winter vegetables
The Jman’s mom makes this on a regular basis and I absolutely love this. All I did was cut up some sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, leek, and zucchini (I parboiled the sweet potatoes and pumpkin for about 7-8 minutes until soft), tossed it in some olive oil, a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, then slid some sprigs of rosemary, oregano and smashed garlic. Bake in the oven for half an hour, then put it under the grill for another 10-15 minutes. Voila!

3. Moroccan chicken kebabs
A bit of an accidental dish, this one. I couldn’t decide what to do with the chicken thigh fillets, so I made things up as I went along with the help of the Jman.

4 chicken thigh fillets, cubed
1 tbsp coriander seeds (pounded till fine)
3/4 tsp cumin seeds (pounded till fine)
1.5-2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 clove of garlic
A glug of olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Rind of half a lemon
Squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Mix all the ingredients together, and leave to marinate overnight. Skewer them whenever and bake in the oven. When it’s just about done, put it under the grill to brown and crispen up.

Dessert
No dinner party is complete without dessert. Vegegirl was supposed to bring a pavlova but couldn’t do so at the last minute. It was 2 hours to the party, I had some apples and rhubarb sitting in the fridge, so I did the most logical thing of making an apple and rhubarb crumble! The best bit about this dessert was serving it in the chef’s pan. I shoved the entire thing in the oven, and it kinda had an attitude to it. The portion was perfect, and served it up with some vanilla soy ice-cream, which by the way was a pleasant surprise.

N also came armed with her own arsenal of strawberries and the most decadent chocolate dipping sauce. Apparently, her chocolate sauce had dark chocolate, Toblerone, thick cream and Baileys in it. It was unbelievably wicked!

We had it with the De Bortoli pink moscato that T had brought and I can safely say that dessert was the best part of the meal (probably from the high that we all got after polishing off 3 bottles of wine), but by the time the girls went home, I was so stuffed I could barely move.

Unfortunately in my haste, I had neglected to take a picture of the food, so all I’ve got to my name now are pictures of dessert and starters…which I will post up another time. For now, you’ll just have to believe me that it was a great night.