Meat-style stroganoff

Now there are plenty of vegetarians out there who don't like to eat anything that even resembles meat. I'm not one of them. Given I've been eating fish for the past year, I can't even claim to be an actual vegetarian. Still, even when I was a proper vegetarian, I really enjoyed meat substitutes, especially when they meant I could continue eating my favourite meat meals without having any souls on my conscience.

When it comes to meat substitutes, seitan would have to be king. If you've eaten at a Buddhist restaurant, chances are you're familiar with the range of things it can be made to resemble. My favourite would have to be the tamarind "fish" at White Lotus in West Melbourne. If you're like me, and find the idea of making your own seitan to be too tedious, then lucky for you (us?) there's a growing range of mock meats available at supermarkets. The chicken style strips I used for the stroganoff come from the freezer section, and are pretty versatile. So far I've used them for fajitas and chilli plum stir fry. If you like your meat mock, give them a shot.

Stroganoff

300g mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tspn paprika
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tbspn tomato paste
380g mock meat
1 tbspn parsley, chopped
3/4 cup yoghurt

Method

Heat around 1/2 tbspn olive oil in a heavy based pan. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue sauteing until softened. Add the mushrooms, paprika, lemon juice, wine and tomato paste. Stir well to combine, then allow to simmer until the mushrooms are tender. Add the mock meat and cook, following the packet directions. Finally, remove from heat and stir through parsley and yoghurt.

Exploding stars cake

Not a recipe, but another cake that I'm happy with. It's a white chocolate mud cake, covered with Bakels ready to roll fondant icing. I've tried using supermarket brands, I've tried making my own. This stuff is the easiest to work with by far, not to mention a fair bit tastier than others. It also comes in chocolate, and a range of colours. Definite food hit!

Best ever chocolate cake

Generally speaking, I'm not all that into Mothers' Day. Still, it's a day worthy of a cake, and a fine chocolate cake at that. This recipe makes something in between a chocolate sponge and a mud cake. It's worth making a day or two in advance to let the flavours develop. I covered it in dark chocolate ganache and topped it with chilli chocolate leaves, but it would be equally delicious with whipped cream or custard.

It's also firm enough to use as a tiered cake. I used it to make this topsy turvy for a one year old. The icing is Swiss meringue butter cream, but the cake would definitely hold up under sugar paste or royal icing.

Awesome chocolate cake


200g dark chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tspn lemon juice
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 Celsius. Grease a 23cm deep pan, or two 15cm deep pans. Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and eggs. Add the lemon juice to the milk and stir thoroughly. Add to the chocolate mixture, mixing well. Sift together the flour, cocoa and bicarb soda. Whisk in to the chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pan/s and bake for 75 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Serve with chocolate ganache or whipped cream.

Little pick me up

We're a bit sick of cake, quite frankly. It's birthday season, plus I'm starting another course, and the thought of eating more than a single slice of any cake I make is quite uninviting. Lucky for me, there are a few ways to get rid of unwanted cake, and most of them are pretty appealing.

We've had trifle twice. Interestingly I hated trifle when I was little, but have found making it with a vanilla bean custard makes it something else altogether. Still, a person doesn't want trifle every week any more than they want cake every second day. So today, I looked to the Italians for inspiration and have turned a vanilla genoise sponge into a tiramisu style dessert. Any plain cake would do the job - just make sure it's a flavour that blends well with coffee.

Too much cake tiramisu

Sponge layer

8 eggs
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 cups SR flour
2 tbspn custard powder
2 tbspn butter, melted

Filling

2 cups cream cheese
2 cups cream
4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup marsala
1 cup espresso

Method

For the sponge Preheat the oven to 170 Celsius and grease and flour a large rectangular baking pan. Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and doubled in volume. Check the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers. If it feels grainy, continue beating until all dissolved. Sift together the flour and custard powder. Fold into the egg mixture. Finally add the melted butter, folding to minimise loss of volume. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until the edges have shrunk from the sides and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool before turning out, then set aside for a day to allow the cake to dry out a little.

For the filling Whip the cream and cream cheese together until peaks form. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites and sugar together until frothy. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, and continue beating while gradually adding around half the marsala. Continue beating until the sugar has dissolved and the zabaglione mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon. Add a little bit at a time to the cream mixture, beating until fluffy, and still thick enough to leave a trail when removing the beaters. Any remaining zabaglione can be used as a dessert sauce. Mix the remaining marsala with the espresso, using more or less wine to taste.

To assemble Slice the cake into at least two layers. Place a layer in a large baking or serving dish. Brush with coffee mix, allowing the cake to soak up a good amount. Top with around a third of the cream mix. Add the remaining cake layer, brushed with coffee. Top with the rest of the cream mix and refrigerate. Serve sprinkled with cocoa or finely grated chocolate.
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