Category Archives: Culinary Adventures

6 recipes/ideas to start your amazing journey with Paneton French Bakery’s new chocolate pastry


If you have ever tried making short crust pastry, you would know that while it isn’t very difficult (at least when compared to making puff pastry), it does take a bit of time to make and rest before you can roll it out for baking. Add to that my preference for a chocolate shell to go with a dark chocolate ganache – I end up making far fewer tarts than other desserts.

Cue Paneton French Bakery. Their short crust pastry has always been, in my view, an exemplar of pastries.  When they released the ready-rolled chocolate pastry, I felt as if a weight has lifted off my shoulders – I can finally make tarts quickly!!! I then went about challenging myself to see how many things I can make using this gem! Here are my 6 recipes/ideas, for now 😉

1. Chocolate tarts – Solomon’s Gold 70% smooth dark chocolate ganache with Lewis Road Creamery double cream

The pastry is not very sweet and it serves as a very good base for any dessert tart. Here are my favourites:

– Solomon’s Gold 70% smooth dark chocolate ganache with Lewis Road Creamery double cream

– Solomon’s Gold dark orange chocolate ganache with Lewis Road Creamery double cream and Fresh As Freeze dried mandarin segments

– Forty Thieves‘ salted macadamia butter with chocolate ganache

– Forty Thieves‘ cacao hazelnut butter with chocolate ganache

Makes 10 individual tarts

Ingredients:

  • 500g roll of Paneton French Bakery Chocolate Pastry,
  • 300g Solomon’s Gold smooth dark chocolate or dark orange chocolate, chopped into small pieces in a heat proof bowl
  • Forty Thieves nut butters
  • 375ml Lewis Road Creamery double cream
  • Decorations – Valrhona crisp pearls, batons, Fresh As Freeze dried fruits, Solomon’s Gold cacao nibs

Instructions

    1. Thaw pastry overnight in the fridge.
    2. Carefully unroll the pastry to prevent any breaks (but it is ok if it breaks! Just push it back together)
    3. Using a sharp knife, cut out squares or circles of pastry to fit your tart mould.
    4. Push the pastry into the moulds carefully, be sure to mend any breaks. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.
    5. Blind bake in 180C oven for 9 minutes. Let cool on a rack.
    6. Make ganache by heating cream in a pot till just starting to boil, then pour over the the chocolate pieces.
    7. Let is sit for a minutes for the chocolate to soften, and then mix it till the mixture becomes glossy and thick.
    8. If using nut butter, add a dollop onto the baked shells before the next step.
    9. Pour ganache into individual tart shells, and decorate!

2. Ice cream bowl – individual dessert bar

Here the pastry is shaped into a bowl (I used the Wilton’s cookie bowl mould ) and used to serve up Kohu Road Cookies and Cream ice cream. Perfect with a tray full of garnishes for you to decorate to your heart’s content. Halzelnut praline, freeze dries raspberries and Manuka honey, Valrhona chocolate crisp pearls and batons…hmmmm

3. Ice cream sandwich with Kohu Road Cookie and Cream

Scoop the ice cream into a flat container and refreeze to solidify the ice cream again. Cut out rectangle slices of ice cream and sandwich them between rectangular shaped pastry cookies.

4. Biscuits with Fresh As freeze-dried powders

J made some rocket ship and butterfly biscuits here with cookie cutters. We then dipped them into melted chocolate, followed by a sprinkle of Fresh As freeze dried raspberry powder. The acid tang was sooo good with the bitter pastry biscuit.

5. Tim tam cheesecake

Instead of lining the whole mould with the pastry, place a disc of it on the bottom of the mould. Bake and after cooling, pour in your favourite no-bake cheesecake filling (see my Tim Tam cheesecake) and let it set in the fridge.

6. Chocolate soil

This is as simple as baking the chocolate pastry and then crumbling them in a food processor or by giving them a good bash in a zip bag with a rolling pin. Sprinkle over or on the sides of desserts and voilà you have a Masterchef style dessert 🙂

Hope this gets you going with your adventure using Paneton’s Chocolate Pastry!

The Auckland Food Show 2016 Preview


Thanks to the Food Show and the PR Shop, I was able to experience the Auckland Foodshow Preview and I am so excited to share with you some of the highlights of my day. (A quick note here that I will return to the show over the coming days and may update the post with any new found gems…)

Without further ado, let me introduce my top stalls of the show:

Soda Press Co

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The flavour profiles were profound and distinct; yet not overpowering. It was so hard to choose which of the range to buy as they were all very, very delicious.  In the end I thought about the macarons I would make with these and decided on Blueberry and Lime, Raspberry and Mint (I think this is going to be a winner), Gingerale, Old Fashioned Lemonade and Pink Grapefruit. Did I mention they contain 40-50% less sugar than other syrups? Cam from Soda Press Co tells me that their ingredients are locally sourced from NZ and they will be fully certified organic by the end of the year. With their fabulous show special, who can resist?
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Barrys Bay Cheese

They had their entire range out for sampling and what made them stand out from the crowd was the detailed knowledge they had about each of their chesses, how each tastes and pairing suggestions. Here are some of my favourites: Maasdam and Cheshire.
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Paneton Bakery



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Finally, chocolate pastry, ready rolled. Need I say anymore? Hurry up and rush to get your hands on some. These are buttery and dark, perfect for a chocolate mousse tart with rich chocolate, mascarpone cream and a cherry compote. They come in 250g and 500g packs, and I think the 250g will be perfect for small batches of tarts and cookies while the larger pack would be great of a large tart. Perfect for this wintery kind of weather, wouldn’t you agree?

Women’s Bookshop

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I love cook books – for the new recipe ideas and magnificent photography. The Women’s Bookshop at the show has all the cookbooks you can think of – plus it is located right next to the Whirlpool Cooking Theatre, where the chefs will come from after their cooking demos and do book signing. Here I picked up the Masu by Nic Watt from the fabulous chef at Masu, our favourite Japanese restaurant in Federal Street in the center of Auckland. It has beautiful photography and the recipes are easy to follow, using ingredients that can be sourced locally.

The Whirlpool Cooking Theatre

The highlight of my day was going to Josh Emett’s cooking demo with Jane Leong, head chef of Madam Woo, which serves traditional Malaysian Hawker food in a modern setting. They started first in Queenstown, then Takapuna, Dunedin and now Hamilton. I picked up a few tips at the demo (and learned just how much they can spend on cucumbers!) and can’t wait to take the family to Madam Woo asap!

KOAST Limoncello

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Their range features Limoncello, Cream Limoncello and Orangecello, which are all made free of preservatives, additives or colouring. I tried all three and decided on a sampler pack so I could – guess what – make macarons XD. The flavour is bold and beautiful, you can easily drink it as an aperitif or mix with soda water for a nice refreshing drink, make icepops and bake a cake with it.
Their words not mine “100% Natural. 100% New Zealand. Handmade by our family, on the Kapiti Coast with lots of love, care, and time.” Wonderful, isn’t it?

L’Authentique Charcuterie

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Sampling here takes an average of 10 minutes – Wade patiently takes you through their range, inviting you to try all of them before deciding which one you like the most. Their sausages are handmade with 100% free farmed meat, dairy free, gluten free, with no additives or preservatives. The taste? Simply the best. Our favourites are their Toulouse grind which we use to make meatballs or dumplings, Peking Maximus which is made with Hallertau Maximus Craft beer and Pork and Fennel.

Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter
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Most couldn’t believe something this tasty only has 2 ingredients – peanuts and salt! (if you prefer they have a no salt version which means there is only 1 ingredient in it – 100% peanuts.) That’s what people discovered when Pic’s was launched in 2008. Once you’ve tasted this you wouldn’t want to go back to any other. They now also have almond butter, cashew butter and peanut oil in their range.

Heller’s

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Their new pork schnitzel and nuggests were out and one sample was not enough! The schnitzel was baked in the oven for 25 minutes, and was juicy and tender. Thumbs up from the family and definitely keeping on the shopping list for quick weekday meals. I could also pour over a Japanese Tonkatsu sauce and it would be just like how Saika does it…

and…
Because I ran out of time, here’s a list of the stalls I’m returning to conduct further product analysis and investigation 😛

  • Urban Hippe Miso
  • Lewis Road Creamery (no excuse except that I wasn’t going home direct from the show and cannot take the milk, butter and ice cream with me then)
  • Silver Fern Farms (ditto)
  • Nanam Eatery (for a proper lunch)
  • Simon Gault – for the stock and seasonings. I recommend the fish and Beef stock, Morrocan and Indian spice seasonings. They are also running a special with Turks chicken, I just hope they don’t run out!

Review: The White House Restaurant, Wellington


To celebrate local produce in the Greater Wellington region, more than 100 restaurants put out special menus for the month of August in the name of Wellington on a Plate. Out of all those restaurants, I’ve decided to try The White House, an establishment situated on Oriental Parade. In search of dishes that I don’t normally prepare myself, I had wanted to try their degustation menu. However once I spotted their normal dessert menu, I had my eyes set on one special item that meant this will be an a la carte evening.

To start, I was served a warm cauliflower velouté drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with more truffle powder. On the side is house made bread and butter.

Cauliflower veloute
The first impression was the smell. The truffle smell was intoxicatingly earthly, and I think it is an acquired taste. Those who read my earlier post about the food show would know that I like truffle, so this was something I was very eager to try.

But no I had to take photos first of course.

What surprised me next was that the truffle oil on top trapped the heat and it was still very hot when I finally started to eat it. The soup was extremely smooth, just thick enough and the truffle was a perfect match to the cauliflower. Hmm ideas are now flowing abound in my head over what I could do to a humble cauliflower.

Main: Medium rare Angus pure beef fillet, fried scampi, Worcestershire spatzli, ham poached young carrots, carrot puree, oxtail juice

WOW. That’s my impression when the plate was laid in front of me. The beef was cooked perfectly. The carrot purée smear was done with such precision it showed how confident the chef was in plating up. I need to practice that! The oxtail juice sauce was exquisite – the thickness was just right, not runny yet not too thick nor congealed. When you lift it with the fork, it has a certain tension and elasticity to it, rendering it sticky. Nice.


The spatzli, a German type of pasta, is the one that I didn’t initially get, but as I tried more of the dish the more I feel this was the right carbohydrate to go with it. It is quite light and together with the sauce it made a nice combination.

Sides: Hand cut chips with truffle salt.

These were very good (because of the truffle element) but were a tad bit soggy and perhaps too salty (I hear my GP saying “low salt diet” in the back of my mind).

Dessert: Snow egg, passionfruit fool, meringues and passionfruit granita.

This was beyond description. The snow egg was a baked meringue, soft and pillowy. The passionfruit granita cuts through the fool, and the crunchy meringue florettes made a perfect contrast to the snow egg. I’m obsessed with the tartness from fruits cutting through richer and creamer sauces lately, and this one is right up there amongst the best. Heavenly.

What a perfect end to the meal.

Score: 9/10 just a point off for the less than perfect chips.