Thursday, 30 August 2012

Mushroom Crostini

Today is my Dad’s birthday.

Want to know something pretty weird? My parents are born in the exact same year. Because of this, I always thought that everyone’s parents were the exact same age. This was mostly untrue.
But, in another weird twist, my roommate Marnie’s parents are also both born in the same year. In fact, the same year as my parents. Her dad is also a few months older then her mum. And I am only one month older than her (not even a month).

So, there’s some random information you guys don’t care about.

As for these crostini’s – they’re for my Dad. When I was in high school and incredibly stressed, or whenever I complained about being hungry and that there was nothing in the house (which was A LOT), he would offer to make me toast with cheese and soft mushrooms. It was, and remains, one of the best things he can make.

These crostini’s, in my opinion, are not like my Dad’s. They comes close, but they’re not quite the same. He made his on toast or sourdough, with buttery fried mushrooms and different cheese – not necessarily ricotta all the time.

Having said that, please do try this dish. I’m not trying to scare you away. This is a really good, quick entree or light meal. I would totally make these as canapés for a party (served warm from the oven), or as an entree at a dinner party or for a light lunch or snack. You don’t have to make them baguette style – you can always make them on regular bread (though I’d recommend some kind of yummy, thick, doughy, bread like sourdough).

I would not recommend changing the cheese on these – the flavours of the ricotta, mushrooms and parmesan just work so well together. The mushrooms are soft and tangy, while the bread is dense and chewy. The ricotta is much heavier tasting the parmesan, but the sharp kick from the sprinkle of parmesan definitely adds something to this dish.

So, Dad, this is for you. Thanks for making sure I survived high school and that awful first year of university. Thanks for making sure Mum and I didn’t kill each other. Thanks for making sure I didn’t kill my brother (which as we all know, may still happen). Thanks for teaching me the value of kindness. Thanks for believing in me.

Level of Difficulty: Easy – oh, so easy
Average Cost: $$ - depends on the mushrooms and the bread you buy
Main Ingredients: mushrooms, parmesan and ricotta
Menu Options: I really wouldn’t recommend changing too much about this recipe. It is pretty simple, very easy to make and does not require a lot of time or attention. You can change the cheeses around – goats cheese or fetta might work, but you would have to play with flavours as I don’t think parmesan would suit either goats cheese or fetta. You can obviously use your favourite type of mushrooms – mine just happens to be swiss brown mushrooms.

Makes 8 crostinis- nutritional value is approximate here, as it is difficult to calculate how much bread, parmesan, lemon juice and thyme is used.

What you need:
-          Large wholemeal baguette or sourdough loaf
-          4 large swiss brown mushrooms (or other type, these are just my favourite)
-          2 tbsp butter
-          1 crushed garlic clove
-          2 tbsp ricotta cheese
-          Parmesan, to serve
-          Lemon juice, to serve,
-          Dried thyme, to serve

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. While the oven is heating up, cut the baguette into 8 thick slices. You don’t want the bread too thick, and most times I can cut my baguette into 16 slices. If you wish to make 16 crostinis do so, just remember to double the recipe.

Slice the mushrooms finely. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a frypan. Add the garlic to the butter when it is just starting to melt, so the flavours combine. Add the mushrooms to the frypan and the bread to the oven at the same time.

Bake the bread for five minutes, turning halfway.

Fry the mushrooms for five minutes, constantly stirring to ensure they are coated in garlic and butter.

When the bread is a golden brown (which may take longer than 5 minutes depending on your oven) remove from the oven and play on a tray.

Leave the mushrooms over heat.

Divide the ricotta evenly among the baguette rounds, using a knife to spread the cheese over the surface of each round.

Add the sautéed mushrooms to the top of each baguette, dividing the number of mushrooms evenly among the baguette rounds.

Top each crostini with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, a tsp or so of lemon juice (simply squirting the juice unscientifically from the bottle is fine), and dried thyme.

Serve while warm.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

WIAW - Finally eating some veggies

No long preamble this week I promise. Straight into the WIAW party. As usual, a huge thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting the party. Also this week I'm going to this cute little questionaire I took from Jessie where after each picture I post some answers to some questions about different meals in the day.

These is what I ate this Sunday.

Breakfast was a stacked oatmeal cake - pretty much baked oatmeal with strawberries topped with Chobani strawberry yoghurt (idea from Everything Oat). Yes, Chobani! It is finally being sold in QLD! I took advantage of the 5 for 5 bucks sale, that's for sure.It is definitely worth the hype. If you live in Australia, go buy some now. I totally recommend it.

Breakfast questions:

Favorite breakfast as a child?
Coco-pops. Or hashbrowns. Totally a tie here. Both were 'special breakfast' foods.

Coffee or Juice?
I don’t drink coffee at all. So juice - but not at breakfast. Mostly on special occasions, or when it's freshly squeezed juice from the trees at home.

The one food you eat most often at breakfast?
Oats - hot or cold. Best ever.


Lunch was a brown rice salad with salmon, zucchini and spinach.

And one of these. Recipe will be up soon. I was taste testing.

Lunch questions:

Sandwiches are generally considered a “lunch food.” If you had to choose between a grilled cheese and a peanut butter and jelly, which would you pick?
Oh, probably a grilled cheese. I actually don't really do peanut butter and jam together on sandwiches. And you can add anything to a grilled cheese - like tuna! That would be a great lunch sandwich.

You can only put four ingredients in your salad (not including greens); what do you throw in the mix? Additionally, which greens and dressing do you pick?
I would choose tomato, cheese (any kind, I looove cheese), salmon/tuna/grilled chicken (but usually one of the fish) and avocado. I use spinach pretty much exclusively - I don't really like lettuce. And I don't do dressing - I find it gross. If anything, I have a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but not much.

One food you can’t live without at lunch?
Probably yoghurt or a piece of fruit. I find I can't finish lunch or dinner on a savory note. I need a small sweet kick - even if it is a couple of strawberries dipped in yoghurt or a spoonful of yoghurt, or a banana with PB.


I had this fabulous snack after the gym today (another 5km on the treadmill, and ankles didn't hurt) - wholemeal english muffin with peanut butter, honey, banana and LSA.


For dinner I made crumbed and baked chicken, topped with spinach and a tomato and onion salad. On the side I made pan-fried mushrooms, baked sweet potato and baked carrot.

Dinner questions: 

It’s the end of the day. You’re tired, hungry, and your fridge is empty. If a fast food (from a chain) is your only option, where do you go and what do you order?
Probably subway. Or grill'd. Or Sushi Train. Haha, I suppose they're the 'better' fast food chains. Do they count?

TV/computer on or off while you’re eating?
We don't have a table. Awkward for a food blogger. So yes, always TV or computer.

The one food you eat most often at dinner?
Oh, probably potato. I'm trying to cut down on it, but usually potato or sweet potato. This is because it goes with pretty much everything - fish, chicken and meat - and I alternate eating those foods.


I was so full by this time, but like I said, I can't not eat something sweet. So I had a few spoonfuls of yoghurt. Obviously no picture.

Dessert questions:

Choose between these two American desserts: cheesecake or apple pie?
I suppose apple pie - cheesecake is really rich and not my kind of thing. I don't really like 'pie' per se, like sweet, really sugary pies. I love apple desserts though, so if the pie crust wasn't too sugary, I would totally go for apple pie.

Choose between these two foreign desserts: tiramisu (Italy) or flan (Spain)?
I don't think I've ever had either - and if I had, it's only been a bite or two because I don't really like them. I always chose other desserts when I'm out - usually apple crumble, sticky date pudding or some kind of dark chocolate thing. 

Ice cream: cone or cup?
I don't eat ice cream, because I don't like it, but whenver I tried to eat it as a child, I went for the cone.

And now I'm off to check out all of this week's WIAW's. Hope you are all having a fantastic week. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Caprese Salad Bites

My Ed Sheeran tickets arrived the other day!

Which is awesome. Especially because there's not a lot of other concerts to go to here in Brisbane. I miss Coldplay in November because I have to go home for my brother's graduation. Maroon 5 is not coming to Brisbane (suuure guys, two cities is a 'national tour'). The Fray is coming to Brisbane but only to play before Kelly Clarkson and I'm not paying a lot of money to see them for only a few minutes. 

Though I'll probably go see Matchbox 20 with my Mum in October. They're her absolute favourite band, so she's going to fly down to see them. I quite like them so it should be a pretty good concert.

And I'll be praying the Goo Goo Dolls come next year. For some reason.

I don't have much to say today. I don't have the time - my roommates are desperately waiting for me to finish using my computer so we can use it to watch the last season of Doctor Who before the new one comes back this weekend.

As for these salad bites, they are very easy to make. They are no mess, no fuss, no trouble. It does not take a lot of effort, it does not take a lot of time. They are light and delicious. They make a beautiful, simple entree or canape, or a light lunch. Or a delicious, small snack. I make these frequently - there is no reason not too - relatively healthy, super easy and perfectly delicious.

Level of Difficulty: Pretty much the easiest thing you will ever have to do.
Average Cost: $ - depends on the cost of mozzarella I suppose.
Menu Options: Well as I say below, you can change the mozzarella cheese for bocconcini cheese (which as we all know, is mozzarella anyway). I just used mozzarella because it’s cheaper and more available. But this isn’t really an interchangeable recipe – it doesn’t require a lot.

Makes 8 bites.

What you need:
-          2 four-square Salada biscuits (so when they are torn up there are 8 squares). You can use any kind of savoury biscuit which you put salad on. I don’t know if Saladas are sold worldwide, but essentially they are savoury crackers. I also use the 'light Saladas'.
-          1-2 tomatoes, depending on size
-          8 slices mozzarella or 8 bocconcini balls
-          4 large basil leaves, halved
-          1 tbsp olive oil
-          ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

What to do:

Tear the Saladas up into 8 squares. Each Salada is about as big as one or two bites.

Cut the tomato up into 8 slices; each slice should be relatively thick. Place a slice of tomato on each Salada.

Cut the mozzarella into 8 thick slices and put (or place 8 bocconcini balls) on the tomato slices.

Tear the four large basil leaves in half and place on top of the cheese.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and whisk until combined. Evenly pour the oil mixture over the 8 Salada slices.

Serve straightaway. 

P.S. The US Open starts tomorrow/today. Go Murray. And Djokovic. And I suppose any Australians there.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Roasted Cherry Brownies with Roasted Cherry Ganache

I just want to say something.

You guys are amazing. I had a lot of lovely responses to my last post and I want to thank everyone for your help. I was incredibly worried about that post, but you guys totally made me feel ok about my article idea.

I was also stressing about another article, in which no one I wanted to interview had replied to me, so I went crazy contacting people today and I got a ton of replies. So I'm feeling a lot better about everything. It's been a crazy week. 

Also - why does the conditioner always run out before the shampoo? I mean, why? Now I have to buy one conditioner, but no shampoo.

And I apologize for the insane amount of brownie photos this time. I was in love with them all.

These brownies are amazing. They are fudgy and dense and chewy - everything a good brownie should be. The chocolate is irresistably dark. The cherries add an extra kick. The ganache is delectably thick. I could go on forever. It's just easier for you to make these for yourself. They are also very easy to make - do not be scared by the long ingredient list or the long list of directions. It's very easy - it's pretty much my one bowl brownie mix with some cherries.

Level of Difficulty: Relatively easy – do not be put off by the long directions! I was trying to be very thorough – these are very easy to make – pretty much need two bowls, a brownie pan and a tray. It just involves a bit of switching the oven temperature around.
Average Cost: $
Menu Options: I’m sure you could change the fruit if you want, but I’m not sure how you would roast fruit or for how long. It would be best to stick with the cherries. You could totally change the type and quantity of the chocolate, but I find the dark chocolate the best. And the quantity works well with the cherries and chocolate ganache.

Makes 21 small brownies – this is how I cut them to restrict how many I eat, but you can cut them into however many brownies you want.

No nutritional value this time guys – I’m sure we all know these are not healthy – but they are damn delicious.

What you need:
For brownies:
-          2 cups pitted cherries
-          1 tbsp brown sugar
-          125 g dark chocolate – be sure to use at least 70% cocoa chocolate
-          ¾ cup butter
-          ½ cup brown sugar
-          1 cup sugar
-          3 eggs
-          1 tsp vanilla
-          1 cup flour
-          1 tsp salt
-          ½ cup of dark chocolate bits (unsweetened chocolate bits work best)

For roasted cherry ganache:
-          2 cups pitted cherries
-          1 tbsp brown sugar
-          150 ml light cream
-          100 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Grease a brownie pan and line it with parchment paper. I always advise this because it so easy to remove the brownies from the pan.

Make sure the cherries are pitted correctly. In a small bowl, combine the cherries with the 1 tbsp of brown sugar. Mix well. Place on a baking tray (well oiled) and bake the cherries for approximately 10 minutes. When the cherries are done, juices will be flowing from the fruit and they will look a darker red.

Change the temperature on the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. While the temperature is cooling down, or while the cherries are roasted, prepare the brownie mixture.

Break up the chocolate and place in a large, microwave proof bowl with the butter. Microwave the butter and chocolate in 30 second increments until the butter and chocolate have melted together.

In the same bowl, provided it is large enough, add the sugars. Whisk until the mixture is well combined.

Add the eggs and vanilla at once and whisk until well combined.

Sift the flour and salt into the mixture and using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture together. Be careful here not to overmix the brownie batter.

Stir the chocolate bits and roasted cherries into the mixture. Make sure both ingredients are evenly spread throughout the brownie batter.  

Pour the batter, which should be heavy and thick, into a brownie pan. Place in the oven and cook for 20 - 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the brownies after 20 minutes because you don’t want the edge of the brownies to burn.  As there are cherries in the mixture, it may need to cook for at least 25 minutes. This will depend on the oven though. The mixture may seem slightly undercooked when you first take it out of the oven, but once it has cooled the brownies remain fudgy yet firm.

Allow the brownies to cool for 10 minutes, while changing the oven temperature back to 230 degrees Celsius.

While the brownies are cooling, make the roasted cherry ganache. Follow the initial step when making the roasted cherries – combine the pitted cherries and brown sugar in a bowl, and then roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Once the brownie has cooled slightly – it does not have to be fully cooled – pour the roasted cherries over the brownie mixture. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, whichever is easier, spread the cherries over the entire brownie surface.

Leave this to cool. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, mix the cream and dark chocolate together to make ganache. The ganache will be done when the mixture has turned a dark brown and is really thick. Take the ganache off the heat and allow to cool for a moment.

Then, pour the ganache over the brownie base and roasted cherry. Very carefully spread the ganache so it covers the entire surface of the brownie. It should cover most of the cherries, but some will stick out.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.