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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

cauliflower-crust-pizza

Oh hello, how was your weekend! I slept like a baby for most of Saturday - clearly not healthy but I do feel more invigorated now. Sunday was mostly spent gardening and I finally harvested my carrots. Not amazing but some produced decent lengths and overall, a much better harvest than previous failed attempts. Watch out for my upcoming musings on my first year of gardening!

Meanwhile, dinner Saturday evening was pizza! Does anyone else do this too? Every now and then, Gareth and I go into a mini slob mode over the weekend whilst we go grocery shopping. What do we make for dinner tonight? Chicken? Pork? Salad? Nah… let’s do pizza!

cauliflower-crust-pizza

Typically, we grab the pack of two pre-made pizza crusts and then sprinkle our own fresh toppings. Two pizzas ago however, I had the idea of trying out a new concept I’d discovered: pizza crust/base made from cauliflower!

I adapted this recipe, nearly broke the oven and felt much healthier after eating this pizza than normal ones! Give it a try and let me know what you think?

Basic Info

Prep time: 20 mins

Baking time: 25 mins

Makes 1 medium pizza, serves two hungry people!

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 medium raw cauliflower
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules or powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the topping:

  • 1 tomato
  • small tin of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup mushrooms
  • as much ham as you want
  • 25g mozzarella cheese

Recipe

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper and preheat oven to 210 Celsius.

2. Process the cauliflower in a food processor until finely crumbed (but not puréed)

3. Microwave the cauliflower crumbs for 5 minutes

4. Combine the crumbs with the egg, cheeses, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well until fairly stiff.

5. Place the mixture onto the tray and smooth out until it becomes a large circle or rectangle, about 1.5cm thick.

6. Spray the top with some cooking oil and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

7. Take the base out of the oven and fill it up with all the toppings, garnishing it with the cheese.

8. Place it back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes more, until cheese has melted.

cauliflower-crust-pizza


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Baketober: Classic Croissants

baketober croissants

I’ve been plagued by a seriously nasty throat infection since last week, which has since developed into a terrible ongoing cough. It’s times like this where your body forces you to slow down, take rest and cherish the good moments.  October has long passed now but I’ve yet to post up my final and most memorable Baketober post yet. So here we are. Finally!

I’m here today to recount my experience in making croissants from scratch! That’s right, the oh so frenchy and chic classic croissant.

So why croissants? Well, apart from simply wanting to create this French staple because it is pure gold, I wanted to try to conjure up the smell and memories of my time spent in France several years ago. Eating £1.40 croissants most days of the week from the university canteen (and even they were delicious), to savouring mouthfuls of freshly baked ones from the local bakery near where I was living at the time… croissants in its native country not only smelled divine, but they also impressed like no other.

And really, I can’t be the only one that has always been curious about how the layers of the croissant were made. Given I hadn’t dabbled in bread or pastry making up until now, this was a massive roller coaster ride in terms of baking and complexity. My recipe here has been adapted from that heavy book I ordered on Amazon and lugged back from San Francisco: Bouchon Bakery (it’s so comprehensive, very glad I did lug it back after all)!

Basic Info

Poolish prep time: 10 mins + 15 hours rest

Croissant dough & butter block prep time: 1/2 day

Baking time: 35-40 mins

Makes 2 sheets, with 10 small croissants per sheet

Ingredients

For the poolish:

  • 100g plain flour
  • A pinch of instant yeast
  • 100g water (room temperature)

For the butter block:

  • 330g quality unsalted butter (in one block)

For the croissant dough:

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 200g water (room temperature)
  • 100g quality unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 15g salt

For the egg wash:

  • 1 well beaten egg

Recipe

Begin the night before with the poolish…

To begin, you first need to make and set the poolish (fermentation starter) the night before:

poolish-before-after

1. Combine flour and yeast in a medium bowl and mix together.

2. Pour in water and mix until combined, should be pancake batter-like.

3. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 15 hours.

The next day, you’ll notice that the mixture has firmed up, risen slightly and formed tiny specks of air bubbles on the surface. This means it is ready to be used.

The butter block…

Now you’re ready to prepare the butter block. Get ready for a whole lotta butter - what else would make croissants so delicately delicious?

1. Place some baking paper on the bench top and place the butter in the centre.

2. Top with a second piece of baking paper and start to pound the top of the butter from left to right using a rolling pin, in order to begin flattening the butter.

3. Continue to do this and with each roll, flip it over and turn it 90 degrees.

4. Repeat this flattening process until you have a flat piece of butter measuring 17 x 19 cm. Wrap this tightly in baking paper and keep in fridge.

Make the dough…

Now with the butter prepped, let’s begin the real doughy business:

dough-before-after

1.. Combine flour, sugar and yeast into this bowl and mix together well. I began with a spatula and then switched to my hands. If you’re one of the lucky ones and have a stand mixer, then use a dough hook at a low setting.

2. Pour half of the water around the edges of the bowl of poolish to help release it. Add the poolish to the bowl mixture, along with rest of the water and mix together - but keep 50g of water to the side.

3. Add the butter and continue to mix together, making sure all flour has been mixed in. 

4. Sprinkle in the salt and continue mixing. If the mixture feels dry at this point, add in the remaining water you set aside earlier. Continue to mix for 20 minutes or if you’re doing the manual way, until your hands feel sore and everything is really well mixed in. 

baking

5. Now scrape off all the dough from the bowl and transfer it to your workbench. Stretch the left side of the dough outward and fold it over the centre of the dough. Then do the same for the other side, like as if you were folding a letter.

6. Repeat this for the top and bottom of the dough. Turn the dough over and place it in a suitably sized bowl or tray, sprayed with some oil. I used a square baking tin. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1hr.

croissants-1

7. Once an hour has passed, uncover the dough and remove it from the bowl/tray, transferring it to a lightly floured workbench. Be careful not to disturb its shape. 

8. Gently but firmly pat the dough into a rectangular shape measuring 25cm x 19cm. Press out any air bubbles that form. Transfer this shape to a baking tray/pan of suitable size, lined with baking paper - see below. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20mins.

croissant recipe

Now you need to lock the butter into the dough:

recipe croissants

9. Lightly flour the workbench again and a rolling pin. Turn the dough out onto this surface and dust lightly with flour. 

10. Roll the dough outward from the centre, lightly flipping and fluffing up the edges by hand as you do this. Continue doing this until the dough measures 40cm x 19cm.

croissants-2

11. Lay the block of butter across the centre of the dough (see pic 1 above).

12. Stretch and fold over the two longer sides so they meet in the centre and pinch by hand to seal it. There should be no exposed butter up top (pic 2).

13. Using the rolling pin, press down firmly on the dough across the seam from one side to the other. Continue rolling it like this to lengthen the dough, add flour when needed to prevent sticking. Stop rolling once you have it measuring 56cm x 24cm (pic 3).

14. Fold one third of the dough over like as if you were folding a letter. Then fold the other third over on top. Turn the block so that the dough looks like a book, with the opening to the right side (pic 4). In steps 15 and 16, you need to make sure it’s in this same position before you begin rolling. You’ve just completed your first turn process, make a note of this. Now transfer this back to the pan, cover with plastic wrap and let freeze for 20mins.

15. Now it’s your second turn process: basically repeat step 13, until the dough measures 56cm x 24cm. If pressing on the dough cracks it, it means that the dough is too cold, so wait for it to warm a little. Again, repeat step 14 for folding, cover up and freeze for 20mins.

16. Now it’s your third turn process: repeat step 15.

17. Hoorah, you’re nearly there with all the folding and rolling! Place the dough on the surface with the opening to the right again. Make sure the dough remains cold and roll it out again until it measures 60cm x 24cm. 

18. Cut the dough in half, making two rectangles of 30cm x 12cm. Stack them on top of each other with some baking paper between them and transfer back onto the tray. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20mins.

Guess what? Do a happy dance now, because the dough’s ready!!

Turning the dough into croissants…

Folding the croissants:

croissants-3

19. Flour the work surface, remove one rectangle piece of dough from the freeze and place on workbench.

20. Roll out this dough until it measures 48cm x 23cm. Now trim it so it’s 46cm long. Slightly trim the other sides only to neaten up (see pic 1 above).

21. Starting on one side, measure about 9.5cm along the bottom edge and cut up to the top corner, making a triangle. I used a pizza cutter but you could also use a knife. For the adjacent triangle, measure 9.5cm along the top edge and cut straight downwards. Continue doing this until you reach the end of the dough. I ended up with having more or less 10 similar sized triangles (pic 2).

22. Hold one triangle up with a hand and use the other to stretch out the dough gently until it measures about 30cm (pic 3).

23. Place the dough flat onto the surface. Use your cutter to do a small slice in the centre of the base (pic 4). Once sliced, pull both edges away a little. It kind of looks like t-shirt sleeves now.

24. Now you begin rolling, starting from the cut sleeve-like edge, turn it in towards the pointy end and roll it all the way to the tip. Place on a baking tin lined with baking paper. They should look something like this:

croissants

25. Brush the croissant surface with the egg wash. 

26. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and use the upper and lower third racks of the oven. Bake for 35-40mins, making sure to rotate the trays on the racks half way through. Once the tops are a golden brown, you’ll know it’s ready! And you can start smelling it too.

baked homemade croissantsbaked croissants

They’re best eaten immediately after. Or on the same day. I only ended up using one sheet of dough and have kept the other in the freezer. Can’t wait to take the second sheet to my family’s place and make the rest there, baked fresh!

And there you have it. A mammoth post to wrap up Baketober 2013!

Thanks to those that took part and for those that cheered me along the way, I really appreciate the love and interest. I learned a whole heap and found my baking abilities highly challenged this year - and have definitely grown. Bring on Baketober 2014 I say!


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D’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant

darrys verandah restaurant

If you had to ask me where my favourite meal was from my Adelaide trip earlier this year, it would be a no brainer. Nestled within the Mclaren Valley, the entire d’Arenberg experience impressed. Its restaurant, D’Arry’s, boasts a grand view, top service and the food… ahh the food…. let’s just say wow. My mind was going insane at how delicious and beautifully presented everything was. Just go there. Quick, go there!!

Their menu changes seasonally plus they have a degustation menu if you’re really up for a fest. There’s an outdoor and indoor dining area but in both cases, depending on where you’re sitting, you get a peek of the beautiful luscious landscape. The photo above is taken from the restaurant, pretty huh?

So instead of hearing me raving on anymore, I’m going to let the photos do the talking. Hopefully you’ll be able to see for yourself how great it was! 

mclaren valley

Hokkaido Scallops with Pig Tail Cube, Cauliflower Puree & Pea, Fennel, Caper Salad

mclaren valleyaldinga beach adelaide

House Made Bread with Paprika Almonds, Diana EV Olive Oil & Brian’s Marinated Olives

mclaren valley

Lobster Medallion with Blue Swimmer Crab & Prawn Ravioli & Lobster Bisque

darrys verandah restaurant

Slow Roast Pork Belly with Fig Chutney, Fennel, Radicchio & Miss Merbein Fig Salad

darrys verandah restaurant

Roast Pumpkin & Preserved Lemon Gnocchi with Roast Garlic Cream, Labne,
Baby Spinach & Pistachio Dukkah

darrys verandah restaurant

Rice Pudding with Poached Apple, Rhubarb Compote & Oat Biscuit

I don’t know how else to put it. The food was seriously incredible. I had the pumpkin gnocchi and I’m normally very unimpressed with gnocchi but it just sounded too good so I gave it a try. The texture was so chewy and soft, it was not like any gnocchi I’d ever tasted. And the scallops? Perfectly cooked. The dessert was a beast, I couldn’t even finish it but I tried so hard because it was truly delicious. 

If you’re ever in Adelaide, even if you’re not a wine fan, go to the Mclaren Valley and make sure you have a meal here. Even splurge a little. Obviously this place isn’t cheap but it will play with your senses. Trust me. You can thank me later.

D’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant

Osborn Road McLaren Vale, South Australian 5171 Australia

Open Monday - Friday, lunch from noon.


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d'Arrys Verandah on Urbanspoon

Baketober: Hearty S’mores Cookies

heart-smores-cookiesbaketober cookies

Here’s the first edition of Baketober for 2013!

I decided to kick it off with a creation that is simple, sweet and inspired by my recent American adventures: hearty s’mores cookies.

S’mores are an American classic, they’re pretty basic: chocolate and marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers (sweet biscuits such as Arnott’s Marie biscuits). Apparently, the name is a contraction of ‘some more’ which is cute, given how Americans seem to make fun of Aussies and our love of shortening words and phrases!

This is really very simple, they’re not particularly healthy but something sweet now and then never hurt anyone, right? Plus, I think they’d be a great dessert pleaser if you’re holding a dinner party...

Basic Info

Prep time: 35 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Makes 10 very large cookies; you can make the cookies smaller for a larger quantity.

Ingredients

For the chocolate heart cookies:

180g unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Note: this makes a lot of cookies, you’ll have plenty left over as stand alone cookies or you can freeze the left over dough for a future batch!

For the cookie base:

1 cup sweet biscuit crumbs (e.g. Arnott’s Marie, Graham Crackers etc)

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

125g unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Marshmallows, as many as you require depending on the number of cookies you’re making

heart chocolate cookies

Recipe

To make the chocolate heart cookies:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugar together.

3. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence, until well combined.

4. Add flour and cocoa powder and mix well.

5. Roll up the dough, place in some cling wrap and store in the freezer for 15-20 mins, while you begin making the cookie base. I find that colder cookie dough makes it easier to roll out and cut shapes from.

6. Roll out the cold dough and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to create the hearts.

7. Place hearts on baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. These cookies won’t enlarge in size, so you can keep them quite close to each other on the baking tray.

baketober smores cookiesheart smores cookies

To make the cookie base:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Combine the crackers, flour, baking soda and salt - set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until well combined.

4. Add in the egg and vanilla extract to this butter/sugar mixture.

5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.

6. Take spoonfuls of the mixture into your hand, roll them into flat balls the size you require and place on baking tray.

7. Bake for 8 minutes, the cookies should start to brown lightly. These cookies will enlarge quite a lot in size, so make sure to keep plenty of room between each cookie.

8. Take them out of the oven and press a marshmallow into the centre of each cookie. Leave to cool completely.

9. Place the cookies with the marshmallows back into the oven, bake for 2-3 minutes until the tips of the marshmallows are very lightly toasted. 

10. With the cookies out of the oven, lightly push a heart cookie into the top of each marshmallow.

And ta-da, that’s it! I adapted a combination of this and this recipe to come to my own. I hope you find them just as cute as I do. I’ve had too many since making them yesterday afternoon, I really think I need to start giving some away… who wants one?

Don’t forget to use #baketober via Twitter/Facebook/Instagram so I can see what goodies you’re baking up this month! Or you can leave me a link to your blog post. Happy baking y’all! 

baketober cookies