Saturday, May 31, 2014

Braised Chicken with Spiced Rice - Karen Martini's recipe

I spotted a delish sounding recipe in The Age from Karen Martini for Braised Chicken, Spiced Rice and Cranberries.  I love the fact that the oven does a lot of the heavy lifting during the cooking time - you do have to brown off the chicken, but otherwise, there is not that much prep or hands on time to make this.

I loved all the different flavours and textures - sweet cranberries, crunchy pepitas, spicy rice and soft, braised chicken.  This one was a winner for me.

I served my chicken and rice with piperade stir fry and beans (not shown): 

This was a fab, hearty dinner for cooler evenings.

Friday, May 30, 2014

FFWD - Piperade Stir Fry and Tuna Rillettes


For this French Friday with Dorie, our recipe is the very colourful Piperade Stir Fry, made with all different colours of capsicum (peppers) mixed with raw red onion and red wine vinegar. 

I hate raw onion, so I used cooked brown onion instead.  I also don't have any red wine vinegar, so I used balsamic vinegar instead.  I was pretty happy with the result, and ate it with my dinner of braised chicken with spiced rice:

I also did a catch up recipe from earlier this month - Tuna Rillettes:

Tuna Rillettes is a tuna spread.  I made just enough for one, and spread it on an English muffin for breakfast.  That is not what I normally like to eat for breakfast, but it was a way to get it done.  The tuna rillettes was quite tasty, although I found I needed more cream than I thought to make the paste spreadable.

Check out what the other Doristas thought of the Piperade Stir Fry by visiting the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Happy Friday to all.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Joey B's on the Landing and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, Saint Louis MO

I blame Judy Garland, but until I saw the Sex and the City movie (the first one), when Jennifer Hudson set me straight, I thought that "Saint Louis" was pronounced "Saint Louie".  Our next major stop on Route 66 after Springfield was indeed Saint Louis, home of the Gateway Arch.  We travelled up to the top of the Arch to admire the view:

However, be careful when you get into the little egg capsules that take you up there - I bumped my head getting in one on the way down.  The Arch centre also contains a museum of Wild West artefacts - beware of the bison.

After that, it was over to the Landing for some lunch.  Tim and I headed to Joey B's on the Landing, a sports bar.  I ordered a Bud Light in a very cool aluminium bottle:

To go with it (as I am not one for liquid lunches), I ordered the Ranchero Chicken Wrap ($7.99) - charbroiled chicken, jalapenos, lettuce cheddar cheese and salsa.  It  comes with fries, but for an extra $1.59, you can upgrade to the soup of the day, which is what I did:

I have no memory of what kind of soup this was, although I do recall it being spicy.  I was fascinated by the fact that soup in the US is served with crackers - here, it is served with chunks of bread. 

It was then time to go back to our Route 66 odyssey, where we stopped at a Route 66 icon, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard:

Frozen custard must have at least 10% butterfat and 1.4% egg yolk, and it contains less air than icecream, hence it is much smoother.  The custard is sold as a "concrete", and the regular size costs $3.90.  I ordered Heath Bar flavour:

Here's the sign denoting that Ted Drewes is indeed on Route 66:

Saint Louis turns 250 this year, and there are birthday cake art installations all over town.  Here is the one at Ted Drewes (I found 7 in all of the 234 cakes):

We were not yet finished for the day, and in the afternoon, we ventured to the Budweiser Brewery for a tour:

They have some very fancy stables with stained glass windows for their famous Clydesdales:

There were numerous tastings along the way, and for our last tasting, we could choose what we wanted from the bar.  I ordered a Straw-ber-rita:

This was pretty good and went down smoothly after the beer tastings.  The other ladies wanted one too, because they asked me what it was.  It was kind of like a fire engine cocktail - ie dangerous in that it tastes like soft drink.

The Budweiser Brewery had its own birthday cake out front:

I really wanted to try some gooey butter cake while in Saint Louis, but it was not to be.  As you can see, we had a great day out in Saint Louis - and I now pronounce it correctly.

710 North 2nd St
St Louis, MO
+1 63102 2596
6726 Chippewa
St Louis MO
Ph: +1 314 481 2652

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WWDH - Blueberry Oat and Yoghurt Muffins

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay pick comes from Margaret, who chose Blueberry Oat and Yoghurt Muffins.  You can find the recipe online here.

These muffins are super quick and super easy:

(Don't you love my owl flour sack tea towel from Dick's Five and Dime in Branson?)

These muffins are also super tasty:

I'd definitely make them again. 

To see what Margaret, Sarah, Chaya and Kayte thought, visit their websites.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bennigans Grill at the Hilton Hotel, Springfield IL

However, the highlight of the dinner, and Tim's favourite dish from the whole trip, was the Pecan Bread and Butter Pudding (which we shared):

Think a buttery warm cinnamon roll dripping with caramel sauce and topped with vanilla icecream - OMG.  This was definitely not diet food but boy it was good.

I also want to give a shout out to Moxie Massage, situated near our hotel.  I had managed to hurt my back early on in the trip, and a wonderful lady at Moxie Massage agreed to see me at 8pm on a Sunday night for a remedial massage.  She saved me.  Thanks a bunch!!!

Springfield was the home of Abraham Lincoln before he became president, so while we were in Springfield, we visited Lincoln's home:

Being a lawyer, I was keenly interested in the table where he used to work on cases in the living room:

Springfield is also the home of the Illinois State Capitol:

The Abraham Lincoln presence is everywhere - there is even an Abraham Lincoln totem pole near the courthouse:

We also visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum (we didn't get time to go to the library, in a separate building).  I was fascinated by a series of photographs showing Lincoln's rapid physical decline over the course of his presidency.

I really enjoyed our brief visit to Springfield - it is a nice place.

Bennigans Grill at The Hilton
700 East Adams Street
Springfield, Illinois US
Ph: +1 217 789 1530

Monday, May 26, 2014

Amazing Maltesers Cake

Today is my seventh blogiversary; it is also the last Pilates class that I will have with Yvonne.  Accordingly, I wanted to make a cake to mark these occasions.  I chose the Amazing Maltesers Cake  - a four layer chocolate cake, sandwiched with malt-flavoured buttercream, coated with ganache and topped with Maltesers.

My cake looks a little off centre because I didn't have enough Maltesers to cover the surface of the whole cake.  I just used up what I had and left it at that.

The cake is very short for four layers, as it states in the comments to the recipes - however, I managed to cut four thin layers.  Here's a glimpse inside the cake layers:

and once they had all been sandwiched together:

Where I found the greatest difficulty was in decorating.  The ganache, once placed onto the chilled cake, tended to set up quickly, making it difficult to spread.  It also meant that the Maltesers would not stick very well, so I ended up having to use the small amounts of ganache left in the bowl to  stick the Maltesers on individually.  And then I ran out of Maltesers, leaving me with a lopsided looking cake.  Oh well, I am sure it will still taste good!

Post script - It did taste amazing, although very rich - and half the Maltesers fell off.  Here's a peek inside:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

GePaDe Caffee, Chicago

On a windy, cold Chicago afternoon, Tim and I sought refuge for a coffee.  We stumbled upon GePaDe Caffee, which looked welcoming with its European style al fresco tables and flowers out the front (although there was no way we were going to sit there!).

It was a great find.  The staff were super friendly, and let us sit there for as long as we wanted to - and it was warm inside. 

The coffee at GePaDe was good Italian-style coffee like we are used to - I ordered a café latte:

It tasted very good.  I also ordered a cannoli filled with ricotta and pistachio - how could I resist:

It was crunchy on the outside and smooth in the middle - yum!  An Italian man made it because he came out to ask me how it was.  Answer - super.  Tim ordered his favourite, an almond croissant, which was also deemed good. The prices were very reasonable.  GePaDe also does a roaring trade in frozen yoghurt - two Asian girls ordered huge plates of the mango version.

I was entertained during our visit by a couple sitting outside with two dogs.   I particularly remember one dog, a beagle, because he took a vehement dislike to a man who was walking by and would not stop barking until the man left.

Here are a few snaps from our city tour that morning.  I couldn't resist photographing this man and his three children, who were having marvellous fun climbing onto the back of a brass bull:

Of course, there is the iconic bean:

And don't miss a ride on the L-train - it is good fun:

GePaDe Caffe
60 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
Ph: +1 312 332 2200

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mint chip brownies

During my trip on Route 66, it was not all about the history - I managed to indulge in some very contemporary shopping.  The lovely green plate on which the brownies pictured above are modelled came from Anthropologie in Santa Monica.  I adore Anthropologie homewares, and if I had had the space and was brave to carry more plates on the long flight home, I would have.  I also love their tea towels, but as I had already picked up some lovely tea towels earlier on my trip, I resisted the temptation.

I also got very excited at Walmart over the baking chips - the US has a much wider range of baking chips than here, so I dived in for some cinnamon chips, Heath bits and crème de menthe chips:

I was eager to try out some of my new baking chips, so I altered a recipe for chocolate chip brownies from p276 of  The New Boston Globe Cookbook (which I picked up for a song at Dymocks) to include crème de menthe chips instead of plain chocolate chips.  The crème de menthe chips added a great minty freshness to these cake-like brownies.

While I enjoyed these brownies, I learned that I am clearly in the fudgy brownie camp.  The recipe does say that these are cake-y, so no surprises there.  

If you would like to try this recipe, it has been published online here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

FFWD - Smoked salmon waffles

French Friday with Dorie this week has us engaging in the latest craze of savoury waffles to make Smoked Salmon Waffles.  These waffles actually have small pieces of smoked salmon inside them instead of on top.

I recently bought a waffle pan, being a cheaper alternative to and more space friendly than an electric waffle iron:

One side of the waffles doesn't get good wells in it, but that doesn't matter - you can only pour syrup on one side anyway.

While I was on holidays on Route 66, we stayed at a number of hotels where the breakfast room had the grooviest commercial waffle iron, where you poured in the batter yourself, flipped the waffle maker, then waited it for it to beep to tell you that the waffle was cooked.  I did this every morning when there was a waffle maker. Yum!

Here's my pile of smoked salmon waffles - I got 9 from a half batch of batter: 

On morning one, I ate the waffles with a dab of cream cheese; on morning two, I toasted the waffles to reheat them and ate them with a runny poached egg on top.  They were pretty good, although I found them quite rich.

To see what the other Doristas thought, visit the LYL section of the website.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Butternut Cookie Chocolate Tarts

Today's "recipe" is kind of a non-recipe, but it is a really quick, easy and neat trick for making little caramel or chocolate tarts with an oat base with minimal effort.

In Australia, we have oatmeal cookies called butternut snap cookies, made by Arnotts.  They are the hard, non-flexible type of oatmeal cookie.  They can be used to make little tart cases by heating them, four at a time, in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees Celsius, until they are soft (takes around a couple of minutes), then while they are still soft, pressing them into a patty cake tin or with the back of a teaspoon so that they form perfect little tart cases.  You must only work with a few at a time because they harden again very quickly, and they crack or break rather than curve if you don't work quickly.

Here are the results:

You can then fill them with whatever you please, but for a super easy, super quick treat, I filled them with chocolate pie filling from a can - mine was from Aldi, but you can also buy one made by Nestle.  See the photo at the top of the post for the end result.  Ta da - quick, tasty and no baking skills required.

The recipe idea has been printed all over the place, but one source is here.  I ate one of these little tarts and deemed them good. 

Now for a really sad story.  I attempted to take the rest of the tarts to work on the train in a cupcake carrier - and I mean attempted.  A very rude, very arrogant person pushed past  where I was standing on the train.  He didn't say excuse me or ask me to move so he could get past - he just shoved through.  As a result, he knocked the cupcake carrier out of my hand, and all the tarts fell face down onto the floor of the train.  This created a terrible mess, as you can imagine, and I had to do my best to scoop up the wreckage into the carrier, and went to work with goo all over my hands.  Now here is where it takes the cake - after glancing at what he had done, this person went to move on without saying or doing anything to help or apologise.  I am no wilting violet, so I asked him if he was going to help to pick them up.  His response was to the effect that it was my fault for being in his way, and did little or nothing to help before moving on as though nothing had happened. And there he was, wearing a fancy suit, and probably going to work to schmooze clients and pretend that he was a great guy.

I refused to let this individual spoil my day - I stood with my head held high, cleaned up my person and my cupcake carrier at work, and got on with my day. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WWDH - Creamy Spring Vegetable Soup

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Kayte chose Creamy Spring Vegetable Soup from p18 of Modern Classics I.   You can find a list of ingredients here.

This soup had so many green vegetables in it so as to make the soup itself the side to the vegetables; however, this may have resulted from me trying to quarter the recipe but not succeeding to do so with the vegetables.  I took it to work to eat with my chicken for lunch.  It was pretty good if you like veges.

To see what Kayte, Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought of this soup, visit their websites.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Artists Cafe on Michigan, Chicago

On our first night in Chicago, at the start of our Route 66 adventure, we did not hit our hotel until around 7.30pm, so you can imagine that we weren't in the mood to go exploring.  Our hotel was in Michigan Avenue, and was shared by lots of Comic Con visitors, so we were keen to find something close by and get back to our room before a zombie or a super hero came after us.

Luckily for us, the Artists Café on Michigan was a short stroll down the road on Michigan Avenue.  What I immediately loved about the Artists Café was all the terrific old advertising prints that they had framed on the wall. I am a huge fan of old advertising, so it gave me plenty to look at while we ate.

The menu outside the café is what made us decide to venture inside; the Artists Café has a great range of sandwiches and burgers.  I chose the Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich ($11.95) with coleslaw, onions and BBQ sauce:

Interestingly, I found that a lot of sandwiches in the US come on a burger bun rather than between two slices of bread.  This is not a criticism; it is just unusual from an Aussie's perspective.  I am a huge fan of pulled pork, and this tasty sandwich did not disappoint.  The shoestring fries came as a side.

To make me feel virtuous by having some greens with my meal, I ordered a Café Salad ($6.95) to share.  This was a typical garden salad of garden greens, tomato, capsicum and cucumber:

Tim and I both ordered alcohol and we were amused at being asked to produce ID; I think that sadly we both look older than 21, but I guess it was still nice to be asked.  We also ordered coffees, but although they came from an espresso machine, they weren't quite what we are used to.

Our waitress was friendly and helpful, and we went to bed with happy tummies that night.

To finish off, here's a gratuitous shot of the Chicago skyline from the shore of Lake Michigan with my mug out in front.  The day was bright and sunny, but don't be fooled - there was a killer wind that cut straight through your jacket, and I spent the day wishing fervently that I had worn my polar fleece hat.

412 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago IL 60605
Ph: + 1 312 939 7855