Thursday, 28 September 2006

We are LOVIN' this technology, people!

Just discovered all sorts of wonderful things to play with at - check it out for yourself!

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Here is my handle... Carol explains her exquisite teapot

Carol writes: The teapot was christened today for the inaugural Cook Teasers high tea experience. For the past 8 years this pot has been taking up room in my sideboard, needless to say not much tea is consumed in my house - the ice buckets get a good working out though!!
My Aunties in Holland presented this to us for our wedding day. You can not actually purchase the teapot but rather you have to collect Douwe Egbert Coffee Coupons for redemption.
I was so chuffed with the comments about the pot that I have taken to drinking tea and have used it since. Les laughed at the fact that I had a teapot and was actually making tea, as she has only ever been offered champagne and the occasional glass of white wine at my house (and that’s only when we run out of the bubbles!).

The opiate of the masses: Les bakes Orange Poppyseed Roll

Half a point? Juanita cooks Artichoke & Potato Frittata

This recipe, which tastes wonderful, is - believe it or not - a recipe from that company that uses the 'Points' system for helping you track what you eat (so you can eat that chocolate sundae as long as you eat nothing for the next 62 days - yeah, I can deal with that!).
Juanita tells us that this frittata is half a point a serve (it's supposed to feed 8, so don't get excited at the thought that you can hoe into the whole thing yourself - you need to share!)

For the recipe, click here

Thank you to the Earl! Sherrise reinvents the sandwich.

Sherrise writes: Sandwiches. The bain of a school-mum's life. Certainly my mother's, anyway. (I remember the trepidation with which I opened my lunch box for fear of the soggy tomato, or worse, last night's spaghetti or rissole squashed between less-than-fresh bread.) Thankfully, on this occasion of a most civilised high tea well away from a hot summer playground school bag, there is little else more delightful than fresh ingredients spilling from today's sliced bread. Really, the sky is the limit for sandwich fillings (although I do suggest staying away from left-overs) but on this, our inaugural high tea I couldn't go past the classic cucumber sandwich - a hommage to china cups, extended pinkies and Mr Darcy Himself. Paper-thin sliced cucumber with crustless bread acts almost as a palate cleanser amidst the other delicacies as described. However, the favourite of the trio was the pear and stilton, with the tuna, sweetcorn and mayo mix not far behind for some. (I can recommend these for a Saturday lunch, particularly on a fresh baguette). Delicate or door-stoppers, the sandwich can suit anyone's cup of tea.

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Pear and Stilton Tea Sandwiches

Tuna, Sweetcorn and Mayonnaise Tea Sandwiches

Chock full o' nuts: Sheridan bakes Lincoln Crisps

Sheridan writes:
The call of the biscuit!

I was a bit nervous entering into this 'High Tea' affair with such fantasic cooks at my side. I only attempted to bake an old favouite to ease me in. (Although our aim is to try a new recipe each time! I will from now on I promise.) This is such an easy recipe, a no-brainer - even the kids can help - which they did. They are the sort of biscuit that does not have to be exactly the same shape and therefore having their own creative identity based on the blob from your dessert spoon. As an after thought, once baked you could jazz these nutty biscuits up a bit, by maybe drizzling chocolate on top ( like a florentine) The Cook Teasers thought this would be a nice addition to the plainer version.

Click here for the recipe

Slices of heaven: Christina's Brownie and Bars

Christina writes:
Well, I just had to make two slices! One is an old favourite, the other a new recipe I saw in Cook's Illustrated that I just had to try! The old favourite is a Chocolate Cheesecake brownie that is very easy and very delicious. The second, Key Lime Bars, turned out to be a lush combination of limes, cream cheese and a crunchy biscuit base. So why did I need to make two different slices? Well does anyone need a reason to bake? My excuse is that I wanted some feedback from my fellow Cookteasers as to which slice I should enter in the Royal Show. It was unanimous, Key Lime Bars was the favourite! Let's see what the Judges say this weekend.

Key Lime Bars - for the recipe, click here
Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies - for the recipe, click here

A "Crepey" Experience: Nadia attempts Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

So one of the "rules" of Cook Teasers is that you should attempt to make something that you have never made before. a fit of mental instability, I decided to make Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake - I had seen it in one of her magazines and also online and although a little daunted by the whole 'crepe' thing - I was a 'crepe-virgin' (although I had dabbled in a little 'pancake-petting' in my time) - I thought I would give it a go.
The next time I attempt such madness, please could someone give me a tranquiliser and order me to lie down? Although, in retrospect, the crepe part of the cake was the easiest, I was about done in by the cake filling.

To give you an idea of what the difference between fantasy and reality, check this out:



(Guess which is which??? Where is the height, people?? Where is the lofty loveliness??)

Something tragic happened in my kitchen, ladies and gentlemen. The crepes were fun to make but something went terribly wrong with the filling - way too soupy - it oozed out of the crepes and made a huge mess and a cake about half the height, much more crepey than filling-y. I put it down to having to substitute Dulce de Leche for the required hazelnut paste (an animal not to be found in these parts). In reading through the recipe again, I suppose I could have beaten the egg whites more but something tells me it was the Dulce that let me down. When I tried to spread the filling, it oozed everywhere instead of staying where it was put (bad boy!)
But in my defense the taste was good - quite mud-cake like and a real hit for chocolate lovers, which ironically, I am not. I was proud of my candied hazelnuts - they were fun to make - and they almost look like Martha's!

What I did to make this 'work' for me:

  • I made the batter for the crepes the day before.
  • I used a dip-style crêpe pan (see one here) that was very easy to use once I got used to it. I poured the batter into a shallow dinner plate from the larger bowl in order to coat the pan evenly. With this style of pan, there is no need to flip crêpes as long as they look as though they’re cooked through.

What I would do differently (should I be mad enough to try this again):

  • Unable to find hazelnut cream, I substituted Dulce de Leche, a milk toffee spread with, I think, disastrous results! Substituting the Dulce de Leche for the hazelnut cream, changed the texture of the filling so much that it became incredibly sloppy to deal with. In retrospect, I would have refrigerated the filling for a while. Even further, I think that I would have changed the filling entirely. I think the cake would be spectacular with a simple filling of whipped cream and Frangelico, keeping in with the hazelnut theme. Or a mix of whipped ricotta and that has me thinking...
  • Just had an insight - I think I misinterpreted one of the ingredients - the recipe calls for 'heavy cream' which I took to mean 'thick cream'. Now I realise I would have been better off just using a regular whipping cream, even with it having a lower fat content, as obviously that would have added some thickening agent to the other ingredients. In the words of the Almighty Homer - "D'oh!" I will attempt this again in about 6 months, once the medication has kicked in, and try with the other kind of cream - I feel quite silly really - will have to find a conversion table for Australian and US cream references to avoid said silliness in future. But, in my defense, I may have had a brain short-circuit because of my next point...
  • I would secure the services of a babysitter as there is nothing quite like battling a disaster in the kitchen and a two-year-old who wants to 'help' at the same time. Enough said.

General Observations about the recipe:

  • The quantities for both the filling and glaze seemed excessive. Even though the cake as I made it was smaller in size, it had as many layers as the original (about 30), I still had lots of filling and glaze left over even given that I didn't use as much of it because of its ooziness.
  • This cake has several components with lots of refrigeration periods – be sure to read through thoroughly so you don’t get caught out.
  • There’s a video showing Martha making it with Fran Drescher, of all people.

For the recipe, click here

Saturday, 23 September 2006

First meeting of the Cook Teasers!

Menu for the first gathering of Cook Teasers:
Saturday, 23 September 2006 - Hosted by Carol

  • Lincoln Crisps - made by Sheridan
  • Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies- made by Christina
  • Key Lime Bars - made by Christina
  • Orange Poppyseed Roll - made by Les
  • Traditional Cucumber Tea Sandwiches - made by Sherrise
  • Pear and Stilton Sandwiches - made by Sherrise
  • Tuna, Sweet Corn and Mayonnaise Finger Sandwiches - made by Sherrise
  • Artichoke Frittata - made by Juanita
  • Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake - made by Nadia

Served with Mariages Freres Orange Pekoe and Moroccan Mint teas purchased at Simon Johnson and sparkling wine.

What a great afternoon! It was lovely to meet everyone in the group and also gorge on so many fantastically yummy things! AND for those care about these things - The Eagles won - could life get any sweeter?

And we're off!

We are about to have the first meeting of the Cook Teasers - will post 'menu' once I get back. I decided, in a fit of mental instability, to attempt a Martha Stewart recipe - Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake - despite never having made a crepe in my life and being only a passable pancake maker. Oh well.
The result was not what I hoped for but ya live and loiyne, right?

Friday, 1 September 2006

Pure inspiration!

Welcome to Cook Teasers - the cooking blog that will tempt and tantalise...and will leave you begging for more.
Thanks to Christina for a GREAT name. As we travel down the road of consumption and calories, feel free to join in...