Category: Holidays

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath

Still looking for a quick and easy dessert to make for Christmas Day?  Look no further than my Chocolate Ripple Christmas Wreath!  It’s also as pretty as a picture and delicious to  boot!

Choc Ripple Christmas WreathMaking this could not be easier.  Get a pack of plain chocolate biscuits, whip up some cream.  Add a hefty splash of booze – I chose amaretto but you could use limoncello or Baileys or Kirsch, whatever you have or like.  Add a large spoonful of icing sugar into the cream and stir through.

Then sandwich your biscuits together with the cream mixture and shape into a wreath. 

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath2Don’t worry too much about getting the shape perfect at first.  Once you have the general shape you can push the biscuits together to make a neater circle.  Then cover the top and sides with the remaining cream mixture.

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath3Pop this into the fridge for a few hours to set.  Then decorate – I used cherries, blueberries, strawberries and mint leaves.

Choc Ripple Christmas WreathWow!  Has anyone else felt that 2016 was a tumultuous year?  I am so glad to be coming to the end of it.  I am exhausted and looking forward to the break.  No work for me until 6 January so I have a lot of time for some much required r&r.

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath
A quick, easy and delicious festive dessert.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pack plain chocolate biscuits
  2. 500ml thickened cream
  3. 1 tbsp icing sugar
  4. 1 tbsp Amaretto or liqueur of your choice
  5. Cherries, berries and mint leaves to decorate
Instructions
  1. Pour the cream into a large bowl and beat until firm peaks form. Add the Amaretto and icing sugar and fold through.
  2. Spread each biscuit with approximately 2 teaspoons of the cream and sandwich together. Form into a wreath shape.
  3. Cover with the remaining cream and place in the fridge to set for four hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, garnish with cherries, berries and mint leaves.
Adapted from Woolworth's Christmas Leaflet 2015
Adapted from Woolworth's Christmas Leaflet 2015
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Wishing you all the very best for the Festive Season!  I hope it’s wonderful however you choose to celebrate. 

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Halloween Cocktail – Bloody Sundress

Hey Hey,

How’s your weekend coming along?  I’ve been adding some final touches to my costume for a Halloween party next Friday.  Meaning I now have red glitter glue all over me, the dogs, my dining room table and the good Lord only knows where else!  Time to chill out with a Halloween appropriate cocktail, the Bloody Sundress.

bloody-sundress-1

This comes from the book True Blood Drinks and Bites by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball:

The cocktail celebrates the scene in one of the early episodes where Sookie, goes to Fangtasia wearing this adorable white sundress:

sookie-sundress

And ends up like this:

Yeah, I know, we’ve all had nights like that right?

It does lead to this very memorable line from Pam: 

Ok, so maybe we haven’t all had nights quite like that!

And now for the Bloody Sundress Cocktail.  If this is what vampire blood tastes like then give me more!  It combines the tartness of pomegranate juice with zinginess of limoncello and fresh lime so it is quite tangy   I loved it!  If you really do not like sour flavours just add more simple syrup until it is sweet enough for you!  I also really liked the touch of rosewater in this too!

This could very easily become my go to summer cocktail.  It’s very refreshing and a gorgeous rosé wine colour.  So pretty!  Perfect for a day with the girls!

bloody-sundress-2

Bloody Sundress Cocktail
A delicious tangy cocktail
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 oz of vodka
  2. 1 oz limoncello
  3. 1 oz unsweetened pomegranate juice
  4. 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  5. 1/2 tsp or more (or less) simple syrup
  6. 3-4 drops rosewater
  7. ice cubes
  8. lemon twist
Instructions
  1. Place a cocktail glass in the freezer to chill.
  2. Pour all the ingredients except for the lemon twist into a cocktail shaker.
  3. Shake until well chilled.
  4. Remove the glass from the freezer, add some fresh ice cubes.
  5. Strain the cocktail into the glass.
  6. Garnish with the lemon twist.
  7. Enjoy!
Adapted from True Blood Drinks and Bites by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball
Adapted from True Blood Drinks and Bites by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
bloody-sundress-3

And now for my costume.  Want a hint?  Here you go.  These will be in my hair:

dorothy-bows

Not ringing any bells?  Well, these need a couple more coats of glitter and they will be good to go!

dorothy-shoes

Have a wonderful week.  I’ll be following a yellow brick road somewhere.  What are you up to?  Are you dressing up for Halloween this year?

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Speedy Soufflé for Valentines Day

I made my very first soufflé.  For you, for Valentine’s Day.  

And it’s filled with passion – fruit.

Passionfruit Souffle 3Passionfruit Souffle 9

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make a soufflé.  I have some vague childhood memories of eating cheese soufflés and them not being very nice.  Then again, I ate nothing for two years except vegemite sandwiches so my judgement was possibly awry.  But those memories and the soufflé’s reputation for being notoriously temperamental might be the reasons I have stayed away.  After all, the soufflé come with more rules and regulations than the driving handbook:

  • Don’t beat the eggs too little
  • Don’t beat the eggs too much
  • Don’t fold the egg whites too roughly
  • Don’t open the door of the oven
  • Don’t make loud noises or sudden movements
  • Don’t look it directly in the eyes

Etc, etc.

What they don’t tell you is this.  You can have a decent souffle cooked from scratch and on the table in less than 20 minutes. So let’s get started. 

Butter and sugar coat your soufflé dish.  When you butter your dish, brush the butter from the middle of the dish to the rim and then up the sides of the dish.  This creates tiny channels that helps the soufflé to rise.   Seriously this works.

Passionfruit Souffle

When you are ready to start mix your egg yolk, half the sugar and the passionfruit juice in a bowl until light and creamy. 

Then mix your egg white and sugar to soft peaks.

Passionfruit Souffle 5Then fold the yolk into the white.  Gently does it here.  A little streaky is fine.  Then pour into your prepared soufflé dish.

Passionfruit Souffle 6

Now, into a preheated oven for 12 minutes.  So we’re not tempted to open that door and ruin our “ahem” hard work, let’s talk about romance.  After all it is Valentine’s Day.

The last few Valentine’s Days I have given you some horror stories.  Not so this year.  This year we are talking about two very special romantic moments in my life. 

Let’s start with my first ever boyfriend.  We started going out when I was 15 and he was 16.  There was a local park we used to frequent to get away from prying parental eyes and ears.  So, one Sunday afternoon we rode our bikes down to said park and headed towards our favourite bench to have a kiss and a cuddle.  We had not been there long when, from down the hill we heard some children screaming “Help, help, Angus has fallen in the lake”. 

Passionfruit Souffle 7Well, he took off down that hill, and jumped in, fully clothed  to save what we assumed was a drowning child.  Turned out Angus was a labrador puppy who had been quite happy paddling around in the shallows and had not even noticed the distress of his young owners. Semi disaster averted and there was a little swoony dripping wet with tight tshirt moment.  Made only more adorable by the squirming puppy in his arms!

Young love.  My hero.  And a puppy.  Life did not get much better!

Passionfruit Souffle 8So move forward…..a few decades years to the fussiest eater in the world.  A few weeks ago we were walking the dogs by the lake and noticed that one of the ducks had become entangled in some fishing wire and was only able to move in a tiny circle.  And cue the second Mr Darcy moment of my life. 

Passionfruit Souffle 11

Not only did he jump into the lake (it was only calf deep so no wet shirt here) but he unwound the fishing line from the duck’s leg then we noticed there was also some line knotted around it’s beak and neck. It was really knotted and tight he ended up having to bite through it!  It was both amazing and kind of gross.  That lake water is pretty dirty and I was expecting him to get sick from swallowing even a little bit of it. (He didn’t). 

These moments may not have involved hearts and roses but for me were two of the most generous spirited and selfless acts I have seen.  And that is true romance!

Passionfruit Souffle 10

OK, our 12 minutes is up and the soufflé is out of the oven.  Quickly dust with icing sugar, add a  dollop of passionfruit pulp over the top and serve immediately.  Your souffé will start to deflate from the time it comes out of the oven so speed is of the essence here.

Passionfruit Souffle 9

Have a wonderful Valentine’s day!  And don’t forget to spare a moment to moment to say thank you to the everyday heroes in your life, the people saving dogs and ducks and generally making the world a better place.  If you have a spare 15 minutes  why not make them a soufflé?

And then tell me when the love heart lollies of our childhood took a step into the digital age?  Not only are they now using Twitter….

Passionfruit Souffle 12

But also Tinder!

Passionfruit Souffle 13

Swipe left on that!

Passionfruit Souffle
Serves 2
A delicious passionfruit souffle that can be on the table in about 15 minutes!
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Prep Time
4 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
4 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 egg, separated
  2. 21/2 tbsp caster sugar
  3. 1 can passionfruit in syrup, you will need 1 tbsp of syrup
  4. icing sugar to dust
  5. melted butter to grease the souffle dish
  6. 1 8cm souffle dish
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Butter the souffle dish, spreading the butter from the middle of the dish up the sides. Scatter a tablespoon of sugar into the dish tipping it all around the insides until it is entirely covered.
  3. Strain the passionfruit syrup into a dish, you will need a tablesppon of liquid. Reserve the seeds for later.
  4. Place the syrup with the egg yolk and half a tablespoon of sugar into a bowl and beat with an electric beater until light and creamy.
  5. In a separate bowl beat the egg white to soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar, a little at a time until the mixture is glossy and holding it's shape.
  6. Using a metal spoon, fold the whites into the yolks. A light touch is needed here, you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. It is better to have the mixture a bit streaky than to have it over mixed!
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish to just below the rim then run your thumb around the rim to totally clear it of any sugar, souffle mix etc that will prevent rising.
  8. Pop the dish onto a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
  9. Do not open the oven during this time.
  10. Remove from oven. They are done when a finger touched lightly on the top comes away clean but there is still a slight wobble in the middle.
  11. Quickly dust with icing sugar and add a dollop of the reserved passionfruit seeds and some additional syrup.
  12. Serve immediately.
Adapted from taste.com.au
Adapted from taste.com.au
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

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Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout & Orange Salad

Hello Friends!

Today we are celebrating Lunar New Year, and the Year of the Monkey with a delicious belly stuffed rainbow trout.  Lunar New Year, often called Chinese New Year  is celebrated all over Asia, and all over the world via the Asian diaspora.  It is a time for families to get to together, for the exchanging of gifts and of course food. 

Chinese Lantern Banner

I read this article in Serious Eats recently and as soon as  I read that whole fish was a common item at Lunar New Year dinners I knew exactly what I wanted to cook.  I have been waiting for an occasion to make Sabrina Ghayour’s Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout for AGES and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.   Fish is considered lucky for New Year, particularly at the Reunion (New Year’s Eve) Feast because the word for carp sounds like the words for good luck and gift.

Belly Stuffed Rainbow TrouNow I know some of you might be a bit freaked out by cooking / serving a whole fish.  And believe me, I used to be right there with you.  If you do not like the idea of a whole fish, you could certainly pan fry or bake fillets of rainbow trout and serve with the stuffing mixture.  However, in Chinese symbolism a whole fish represents togetherness and abundance. 

Chinese Lantern Banner

But first, let’s talk Chinese Astrology.  We are about to enter the Year of The Monkey.  Famous people born in Monkey years include Leonardo Da Vinci, Elizabeth Taylor, George Lucas, Charles Dickens, and Lord Byron.  Gillian Anderson is also a Monkey.  Dragging that list down a notch or two from the great and the good,  other monkeys are Miley Cyrus and me!

What can you expect in the Year of The Monkey?

It is a year to act, to innovate and to take your destiny into your own hands.  However, the recklessness of the monkey also cautions us to think before we act so do not be  too hasty in making decisions.  Setting clear goals is important this year.  The monkey is also a sociable creature so this is a good year to nurture and expand your relationships with those around you. 

Chinese Lantern Banner

Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout

I guess I should have made something a bit more Asian to celebrate however Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe for belly stuffed rainbow trout is delicious at any time of the year!  Incidentally a rainbow trout is the only fish I have ever actually caught for myself. 

The fussiest eater in the world is a keen fisherman (yet curiously cannot eat anything he catches; he just throws them back).  A few years ago we rented a holiday house in the mountains and one afternoon set out to go berry picking.  Well the berry farm was closed but the trout farm was open.  He went to the most difficult area and started catching fish left, right and centre.  I was content to read my book but, seeing how easy it looked said that I would have a go.  Well.  We slowly moved from the most difficult to the next most difficult to the next most difficult,  ending up in what was basically a wading pool.  The four year olds (who were the only other people using this pond) and I eventually caught our fish.  Then I cried because I felt bad about killing something.  But my rationale was “If I’m going to kill something then I ‘m damn well going to eat it” so we stopped on the way home and bought some almonds and I made us a lovely Trout Almandine for dinner.

He refused to eat it.  Which resulted in a blazing row where the phrase “I killed a fish for you.  How can you not eat it?” and variations there of were thrown around the room.  Miraculously his piece of trout stayed in the pan and not over his head!

Lesson learned.  This time, we  bought a trout.

Rainbow TroutThe stuffing is a very tasty and gorgeously colourful mix of spring onions, pine nuts, garlic, chilli, coriander and preserved lemons.

Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout2Sabrina’s recipe for Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout can be found here.

My notes on this recipe were that even though I halved the stuffing ingredients  because I was only cooking one trout I still had a lot of it left over. 

This is not really an issue as it is totally delicious and I had the following ideas for the remainder:

  • Scatter over cooked vegetables
  • Add a little olive oil and toss through pasta, maybe with some crispy breadcrumbs
  • Serve on flatbread crisps with a dob of hummus as an appetizer
  • Stir through rice for a pilaf effect
  • Sprinkle onto mushrooms and grill. 

Or you could just do what I did and just eat it by the spoonful while waiting for the fish to cook!

Chinese Lantern BannerBelly Stuffed Rainbow Trout3

Orange & Arugula Salad

To serve with my Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout, I made a very simple orange, black olive and rocket (arugula) salad.  Citrus fruits are a symbol of prosperity, good luck and abundance and lettuce symbolises spring.  So, despite not having Asian flavours my salad has come celebratory significance.

It’s almost too easy to call a recipe but here we go:

Orange, Olive and Arugula Salad
A delicious, fresh and simple salad that is a perfect accompaniment to seafood.
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Ingredients
  1. 100g rocket / arugula
  2. 1 orange
  3. handful of black olives
  4. 1 tbsp orange juice
  5. 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. S&P
Instructions
  1. Place the rocket in a salad bowl.
  2. Segment the orange removing all peel and pith. Do this over a bowl so you catch the juice - this can be used for the dressing
  3. Toss in a handful of black olives
For The Dressing
  1. Mix the orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning to taste.
  2. When ready to serve pour over the salad
You can fancy up this salad with any //all of the following
  1. Chopped toasted walnuts or pistachios
  2. Toasted pinenuts
  3. Pomegranate seeds
  4. Thinly sliced fennel
  5. Thinly sliced red onion
  6. A smattering of feta
  7. Some tarragon leaves
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

Chinese Lantern BannerSome other lucky foods to serve at Lunar New Year include:

  • Spring rolls represent gold bars
  • Celery for wisdom
  • Plums for mental acuity
  • Dumplings for wealth
  • Long Noodles for a long life.

My work is celebrating tomorrow with a yum-cha lunch.  Bring on the dumplings!

Lunar New Festivals will continue until 22 February so you have plenty of time to join in the celebrations. 

Just for fun, I took some fortune cookies to a family dinner and we all chose one to pick our fortune for lunar new year.  This was mine:

Fortune cookieIf you are celebrating Lunar New Year, or even if you are not, you are all my garden of roses and I wish you all a year of joy and abundance!

Have a wonderful week.  I’m off to eat my weight in dumplings!

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Cranberry Party Salad

If Christmas has an official fruit, to my mind it would have to be the cranberry.  We smother our turkey in it, serve it up with some brie for an oh so yummy canapé and knock it back by the bucketful in Christmas inspired cocktails. 

If retro cooking had an official dish, it would have to be the jellied salad.

And if these two met at a party and got a little tipsy on a few too many festive sherries and had their very own love child?  It would look  a little like this:

Cranberry Party Salad
Cranberry Party Salad

 And you know what?  If there’s any rationale for hiding your love children in the attic?  The Cranberry Party Salad from Salads For All Seasons could well be it. 

I wasn’t the worst thing I made this year.  Oh, no, that is a dead heat tie between the Paleo Muesli and the Paleo bread…

Sprouted Seed Bread
Sprouted Seed Bread

 It wasn’t awful like these, it was just way too sweet for my taste to have as a savoury dish.  It’s a problem I have in general with Cranberry sauce.  Sometimes it feels as if someone snuck up whilst I wasn’t looking and smeared my turkey with jam. To me, the thing, the whole raison d’etre of the cran is the tang.

Cranberry Party Salad2
Cranberry Party Salad2

 I was also a little disappointed that the fruit and nuts and…yep ok…spoilers ahead…celery…floated to the top which became the bottom once I turned it out.  Then I looked at the picture in the book and it looks like her fruit is all chunked at the bottom too.

Original Cranberry Party Salad
Original Cranberry Party Salad

 Also, look at her terracotta water cooler in the background.  And look at my Kris Kringle present this year…we do the one where you can steal gifts and believe me, there was nothing coming between me and this baby.  Sadly, I stole it off one of the nicest people in the world.  And she really wanted it because she had stolen it from one of the boys.  Caitlin, if you read this, I’m sorrynotsorry. 

Kris Kringle 2014
Kris Kringle 2014

 I am seriously a couple of oddly placed copper moulds away from having that retro kitchen!!!  That woman also has weirdly large man hands like me too.  And that blue salad?  Will be made. I promise.  I have to see how that particular combination of ingredients becomes blue…we will find out together in 2015.   I may even wear a badly fitting blue dress and have my water cooler in the background for some happysnaps.

Cranberry Party Salad Crackers
Cranberry Party Salad Crackers

Rosemary says this is to be served with light meats and poultry.  But how?  You have to remember that this type of dish is most definitely not in any kind of ancestral memory I have.  Well, having said that, I did ask my mother WEEKS ago to give me the recipe for a salmon and jello type thing she used to make.  Which, I have STILL not got.  Someone’s game needs to be lifted….

Given the spread between chunky at the bottom and clear at the top, it seemed sensible to slice it.  To my mind that just looked way too weird on the plate.  In the end, I treated it like a cranberry sauce and ate it on crackers with ham and cheese.

Cranberry Party Salad and Cheese
Cranberry Party Salad and Cheese

 

Cranberry Party Salad and Ham
Cranberry Party Salad and Ham

 Huh…it doesn’t look too bad in the photos and, in all honesty, this wasn’t awful….just waaaaaayyyy to sweet for my taste.  And I tarted it up by adding fresh cranberries into the mix….

Leave this one with me.  I’m going to ponder it over the next 12 months and next year, I’m going to bring you the best cranberry party salad ever!!!

Cranberry Party Salad Recipe
Cranberry Party Salad Recipe

Any suggestions, you know where to send ’em.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

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