Category Archives: photos – food

Chocolate mousse dome entremet with Valrhona and Ponthier fruit puree


My ultimate favourite chocolate is Valrhona. Recently I had a mini sampling of the range at Sabato. I thought I would be persuaded to fall for a different type (hello Azelia – hazelnut) and Itakuja (passionfruit)) and was surprised to find myself steadfast in loving Manjari. The fruity notes first captured my love for Valrhona and it’s still my favourite.

I paired the Manjari with Caramelia (think caramel and salted butter), added blackberry and raspberry fruit puree to make a mousse.

I have already made this 3 times in as many weeks!

In order to facilitate the making of the domes, several of the elements had to be made in advance. The beauty of this is that I can break up the prep work over the weekend or nights, only spending a little time for each step. You can do this in one go, but this is how I managed the prep:

  • Chocolate brownie – baked in a square pan, cut rounds out of the pan (making sure that the diameter of the rounds is less than that of the silicone mold), and horizontal cuts were made to get thinner discs.
  • Fruit jelly – puree and gelatin were used to make these. They are freezeable.
  • Mousse – the last of the element and the day you make the mousse is the day you need to have enough space in the freezer for them to chill.
  • Mirror glaze – the drips can be saved if you prewrapped the catch tray with plastic wrap. You can safely reuse this for 1-2 weeks.

Makes 6 domes with extra mousse for about 4 smaller flat shapes.

There will be enough brownies, jelly and glaze for another round of mousse domes at least. For the second batch, I only needed to make up more mousse as the other elements were already complete! How easy is that 🙂

I’ve written the recipe below with the instructions immediately following the ingredients. This was easiest for me while making them as I did the elements separately.

Ingredients and instructions:

Brownie:

My chewy chocolate brownie. Usually entremets have a sponge dacquoise layer. Since I was making brownies, I thought maybe I should try it with my chocolate brownie? It gives a deep caramel flavour and chewey texture to the dessert. I had really good comments about this from my tasters 😉

Fruit jelly:

  • 125ml fruit puree
  • 1.5 sheets of gold strength gelatin

Soak gelatin sheets in cold water for at least 5 mins. Heat the fruit puree till it begins to boil. Squeeze water from gelatin sheets and add to puree. Stir to melt and pour into silicone moulds. Place in freezer to harden. Try different moulds for different presentation.

Here I’ve used a mini half sphere dome as an insert for the sphere dome shapes and also a spiral as the topping for the flatter round shapes like below.

Mousse:

  • 110g Caramelia (milk)
  • 40g Manjari (dark)
  • 40g Ponthier Blackberry puree
  • 40g Ponthier Raspberry puree
  • 170g whipped cream

Chop chocolate to small pieces. Bring puree up to a boil and pour over chocolates. Leave for a minute before mixing until smooth and shiny. You may have to heat this bowl over a water bath to melt it all.

Whip cream to soft peak, and add half to chocolates. Mix well, and add the rest of cream.

Here comes the fun part. For the silikomart domes, choose shapes that don’t have sharp edges. Pipe mousse into the silicone mould, filling halfway. Push a jelly dome in, which will squish some of the mousse to the rim. Fill with a bit more mousse and add a brownie disc on top. Freeze over night. Big tip: Only remove from freezer and unmould when your glaze is ready to be poured.

Mirror glaze:

  • 23g glucose
  • 53ml cream
  • 62ml water
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 26g dutch cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
  • 2 gold gelatin sheets

Presoak gelatin sheets in cold water. Cook glucose, cream, water and sugar to 103 degrees C. Add in cocoa powder and mix well. Squeeze water from gelatin sheets and add to the glaze mixture. Use a stick blend to blend the glaze till smooth. Place a piece of cling wrap directly on the surface of the glaze (touching it to reduce contact with the air), store for use later. Reheat to around body temperature (37 degrees C) and pour over mousse domes that has just been taken out of the freezer and unmoulded.

Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Reheating will darken the glaze. It’s so shiny you can even see my reflection if you zoom in!

Overtime, you’ll find yourself pouring more confidently. The operative word is confident. Pour from the centre and then outwards, and aim to cover it quickly. If you want to see this in action, go to my Instagram stories and look for the Sweet Recipe highlights. Give this a go and let me know if you like it or any flavour combos 🙂 Try different shapes too and don’t forget to decorate with Fresh As freeze dried raspberries and a bit of gold 😉

Raspberry Panna Cotta


These beautiful Raspberry Panna Cottas are super easy to make! Made using Fresh As’ panna cotta mixes, it requires only the addition of milk and cream. No complicated prep or cooking at all. J’s latest favourite dessert to have and make by herself.

Recipe adapted from Fresh As.

Ingredients

  • 150ml full cream
  • 50ml milk
  • Fresh As Raspberry Panna Cotta (one packet)
  • 2 dariole moulds or serving bowls
  • Fresh As Freeze dried whole raspberries, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat milk and cream in a pan to lukewarm, around 40 degrees C. Remove from heat.
  2. Gradually sprinkle the Panna Cotta pack contents over the cream mixture, gently whisking until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. Spray dariole moulds with a neutral flavour oil. Wipe away excess with a paper towel.
  4. Pour the cream mixture evenly into 2 dariole moulds. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Run a knife around the edge of the moulds and gently tip the panna cotta out to serving dishes.
  6. Garnish with raspberries.
  7. Alternatively, you can pour it directly into serving bowls to set and serve.

* If the panna cottas don’t release easily, you can dip it into a container of hot water for a few seconds to release it. Don’t do this for more than a few seconds though!

Gailaan – Chinese Broccoli – with chicken stock 上湯芥蘭


This is a traditional dish from the South China provinces, where fast cooking brings out flavours and aims to maintain the nutrients of ingredients. It tastes similar to broccoli. Here’s a quick recipe:

  1. Rinse the vegetables (these are from The Fresh Grower, and I hardly needed to pick off any tough leaves). Using a sharp knife, cut a lengthwise slit down the bottom of the trimmed stem. Blanch in boiling salted water for 2 mins. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a pan on high heat, add a bit of oil and fry off slices of garlic.
  3. Add chicken broth to the pan and return gailaan to the pan. Cook a further 2-3 minutes till al dente.
  4. Serve with the broth.

Enjoy!

The Auckland Food Show 2018 experience


The biggest foodie event of the year in Auckland – the Food Show – is here again. I look forward to it every year and start planning the day once the first list of exhibitors is out.

It’s a time to see my favourite brands, discover new products and be inspired by all the design work in the food industry. Thanks to the good people at the PR Shop, I went along as media this year, on the first day of the four-day event, which is the preview day with less crowds.

Here are some of the highlights of my day.

Fresh As – They are renowned for their freeze dried fruit powders, used by bakers and executive chefs worldwide. I’ve come back for their ready to make Panna Cotta mixes – Just add milk and follow the recipe. Each packet makes 2-4 servings. There are two flavours – Doris Plum and Raspberry. $10 for 3 packs. Don’t forget to stock up on your freeze dried fruit for your desserts. (I’ll soon be running a giveaway on my Instagram for these goodies!)

Proper Crisps

I discovered these new popcorn that is unlike any other – it is first soaked with water and then partially popped – perfect crunch!

Ghiotti

Gelato 800ml, 2 for $5 (yes that is correct!!) We picked Vanilla and Chocolate flavours.

They also have delicious cheese bites, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano wedges.

The Apple Press

Beautiful apples from Hawke’s Bay – they are hand-picked at their peak ripeness, cold pressed and bottled. The juice are variety-specific – meaning you get the singular flavour from varieties like Braeburn, Jazz and Royal Gala in the one bottle.

Home Grown Farm Fresh

Dion and Ali’s Wairarapa farm produces amazing lamb and beef. They offer half and full lamb boxes, tomahawk packs and also 13kg Angus beef packs.

I learnt that the lambs in the boxes are always female, and that the breed is Charollais ram. As fat’s laid down intramuscularly, the lamb tastes more tender and juicy than other breeds.

Last year J and I stood at their stand for a long time, listening to their stories and eating the juiciest lamb. It was just like we were hanging out at a neighbour’s barbecue!

Living Goodness

I like their sauerkraut – our favourites have been the Naked kraut (I’ve been adding them to my breakfast, on top of toast even!) and beet kraut.

They’ve now released two new products – freeze dried beetroot and kimchi – they add the perfect texture and crunch to dishes. I couldn’t hand over money fast enough for these LOL. Think sprinkling over poke bowls…yum!

The Fresh Grower

The Fong family have been growing vegetables since 1948 in Pukekohe. They have long become part of the local landscape. I like their quality produce and will soon be sharing with you tips on how to cook kailaan (Chinese broccoli), choy sum and wong bok properly. Watch this space!

Mitchells Bone Broth

I’ve been looking into increasing J’s nutrition intake through broths lately. When I saw them from half a show-hall away, I walked straight over to sample their broth. Turns out it’s quite easy to make: simply add 2 teaspoons of Bone Broth powder to a cup of hot water, mix and add fresh ingredients to make your version of broth: a pinch of salt and a slice of fresh ginger for a warming, spicy drink.

The powder is made from New Zealand grass fed beef bones and onions, carrots, celery, parsley, apple cider vinegar, black pepper corns, bay leaf and rosemary.

Full of amino acids, these are indeed good for you.

Farmland Foods

Premium European streaky bacon – they are thinly sliced and there is no extra liquid in the packs. This means it crisps up beautifully and quickly.

I learnt some tips from chef Mark Southon in preparing a bacon butty: Toast the bread with the bacon oil straight in your griddle pan!

Serve it with your own Brown Sauce (ie. HP sauce) by cooking: dates (giving a fruity tang); Tomato sauce; Tamarind; Molasses; Chilli; Garlic; Apple juice and Orange juice. Simmer for an hour. Cool and blend.

Keas cookies

If you are in need of great tasting gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free baking, look no further than these. Their range includes Chocolate Chip; Double Choc Chip; Macadamia; Vanilla; Hokey Pokey; Gingernut; Almond; Peanut Brownies, Lemon Coconut and Coconut. They also have an organic chocolate cookie.

Simon Gault

I always stock up on their beef and chicken stock and Morrocan and Indian spice seasonings. 5 for $30. Simon’s new Chipotle Ketchup ($7) launched at the foodshow. Sweetened 100% with vegetables just like their tomato sauce, Gault’s Chipotle Ketchup has the perfect balance of sweet and heat – just a tiniest kick of smoked chipotle chilli. Gault’s Deli is their online shop where you can buy all sorts of goodies including my favourite Fruit Puree by Ponthier (I made chocolate mousse domes with these puree – you can see the photos of them on my Instagram feed).

They are also running a special with Turks chicken, $20 for 2 whole chickens with a seasoning or $20 for 4 bags of drums, nibbles, skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts. They come with a chill bag too. They also have a new product – stuffed chicken in an oven ready roast bag. These 1.5kg birds come in two flavours.

Aoraki Salmon

Freshwater King Salmon from the ice-cold waters around Mt Cook.

The salmon is gently smoked with oak wood chips following a Scottish inspired method, which uses a mixture of salt, golden syrup and black rum. This enhances the taste experience with a sweet smoky layer. The softer notes of oak, never distract from the original qualities of the salmon.

Appleby Farm Icecream

Their award winning ice cream is made in Nelson, with milk straight from their farms 15 minutes down the road. Cow to cone! What’s special about these ice creams? It’s made with A2 protein milk, so it’s better for those who are lactose intolerant.

I love the Bedford Vanilla Bean, made with Madagasgan vanilla beans, the Brown Eyed Girl (which is the coolest name for chocolate brownie ice cream) and Doubleshot Ipanema. They also have Bad Boys & Berries (Boysenberry) and Tangled Passion (Passionfruit) which both won awards at the 2018 New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.

Good Chow NZ
NZ Blackfoot Paua XO Sauce – traditional chinese XO sauce with a kiwi twist: dried scallop, chillis prepared with NZ paua (that’s abalone). XO sauce 2.0 and so good with stirfrys. This is good with traditional chinese turnip cake (law bak gao) and rice rolls (cheung fun).

They also have in their line up: Sambal Fish Roe Sauce, Kiwi Moo Beef Jerky, Fluffy Fried NZ Cod Flakes and Aromatic Chili Oil. Made in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, none of their products have any preservatives or artificial additives.

First light

Grass-fed Wagyu scotch fillet just off the pan – so tasty! They have meat packs on special too.

Jersey Girl Organics – Their milk is full of Omega 3 and A2 Protein, is fully certified organic that comes direct from their farm in Matamata. When tasting, the milk is full-bodied and creamy. Pure deliciousness. You can now bring your own jar to fill up with at the farmers markets – just $3 a litre. Make sure the jars are clean and of known volume.

WaHiki
Wahiki does coconut icecream that is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and made in NZ. The new flavour, turmeric latte is pretty special.

Wild Fennel Co’s range of gourmet seasonings is naturally addictive. Dan, the creator behind the seasonings, was formerly a fine dining chef and naturally is inspired by traditional flavour pairings from different cuisines around the world. The flavours are slightly unusual but surprisingly good. They have collabed with the likes of Silver Fern Farms to create spices specific to the cut of meat.

Silver Fern Farms

Good from Scratch soup – chef Michael Van De Elzen. Loved these!

Hellers have some interesting soup flavours: Pumpkin & Smokey bacon, Sweet corn & bacon chowder, Chicken & Smokey bacon and Spicy tomato & Chorizo soup.

We also picked up some Hot & Spicy pork ribs – these have been slow cooked for 4 hours, and only needs 20 mins in a 180C oven. $8 each.

Cooking demos

Here are some of my suggested must see demos:

Annabelle White – Thursday 10.30am, Friday 11am

Jess’ Underground Kitchen – Thursday 1:45pm

Simon Gault – Friday 12:15pm, Saturday 2:45pm, Sunday 11am

Nadia Lim – Friday 2:45pm, Sunday 2:30pm

Monique Fiso – Saturday 12:45pm, Sunday 12:15pm

Brandhouse Drinks Masterclass

This is where you’ll learn the differences between your prosecco and champagne, take a brewery master class and taste Cognac! Classes are timed through the weekend. I’ll be at the brewery master class to learn about craft beer.

With over 300 stalls at the show, I know I’ve potentially missed mentioning some goodies here. However the following are my last minute dash stalls that I will have to remember to pick up goodies from on Sunday, when I return with Miss 8:

  • Amplify Kombucha – fizzy fermented tea which J also likes! I love the fact that there’s hardly any sugar in it, which makes it a healthier drink.
  • I Love Food giant cookies – 4 for $5, and sour cream pastry for home cooking
  • Top shelf – dips!
  • Perfect Pork – 3 for $25 – their range of grain-fed New Zealand pork includes sirloin and pork belly.
  • House of Dumplings – we love the Nepalese Spiced Lamb and Korean Sesame Beef dumplings. J misses them as they are no longer at the La Cigale French Market.
  • Dish magazine – I love their stories and food styling! I renewed my subscription and received a gigantic goody bag.

Top tips:

  • Register your ticket if you haven’t already done so, and have it within easy reach like in your pocket. Scan them at the stalls you visit and gain entry in the respective competitions and giveaways.
  • Get there early if you can. 11am to 2pm is the busiest at the show.
  • Keep hydrated (plenty of water coolers inside but bring a cup or bottle) and wear light layers as it’s warm in the showgrounds.
  • Keep track of time if you have a particular cooking theatre session you want to see. It can be a bit chaotic when you realise you are in Hall 3 when the cooking session in Hall 1 is about to start in 5 minutes.
  • Mazda chauffeured shuttles will pick up and drop off at designated stops around the showgrounds, making it easier to buy more. Gold coin donation for the Auckland City Mission.
  • The show is on till Sunday 5pm.
  • Here are some more photos from the show:

Honest Chocolat – I always go for their Pure Water Ganache.

Beautiful Parma Ham.

Whaiora smoothie blends – I recommend the berry flavour.

Check out Emma’s food bag – menu is viewable online before ordering and ingredients are sourced as local as possible.

Trade Aid chocolate – the dark raspberry is new!

Nata is the only Portuguese Bakery in New Zealand, and their traidtional Portuguese custard tarts are baked fresh every day. Delish!

Not that you’ll be hungry, but if you want a rest over a decent meal, there are plenty of food in the Street Food Alley. Dumplings from Akemi’s Gyoza, Clevedon Coast Oysters, juice from I Press, Vietnamese from Indochine Kitchen, fried chicken from Peach’s Hot Chicken (must check out!) and Mexican from Taco Loco.

Iced cookies or edible art?


opHopefully you are already sold on these cookies after seeing photos of them here.

They are incredibly easy and fun to make. My daughter and I spent quite a few weekends and school holidays making these. She loved decorating them and have now taken to designing what our next creation would be. (Which may or may not involve creating custom cookie cutters via Cookie Cutter Kingdom who 3D prints cookie cutter designs!)

After deciding what the cookie will be, she will plan the colours required to go with them, and the relevant consistency of the icing. For example, white for outline and flooding; red for flooding; grey for outline etc.

Once you’ve prepared the dough, it can be frozen, saving you one step in your weekend activity.
Just seal them tightly with cling wrap and freeze in sealed bags with a clear label. That way it’ll be easy to defrost the cookie sheets.

Simply defrost in the fridge, cut with cookie cutter into desired shapes and bake. Let cool completely on racks before you start decorating them.

Ingredients

  • 300g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5g (1 tsp) baking powder
  • 2g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 226g unsalted butter (I use Westgold), room temperature
  • 140g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp Princess Emulsion (omit if you can’t find this in the baking stores)
  • 3 and 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 2 batches and beat until just incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough in half.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, very lightly dust the dough with flour and roll out between 2 pieces of parchment paper until about 3cm thick.
  6. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  7. Cut cookies with your preferred cutter. Gather scraps and repeat steps 5 and 7.
  8. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 175 degrees C. Bake the cookies, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until just golden, 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, make the icing: Sift the icing sugar and meringue powder into a large bowl. Beat in 6 tablespoons water with a mixer on medium speed until soft, glossy peaks form.
  10. Take the required amount of icing and add desired icing colours. Add water bit by bit (or with a spray bottle) till you reach a consistency like runny honey. This is the ‘medium’ consistency and best used for outlining and flooding.
  11. Fill piping bags with icing and decorate to your heart’s content!

Come fly away with me~