Archive | April, 2011

Mastering Meringue

17 Apr

Why all the fuss over poufy white fluff?

The skill of meringue-making is a common kitchen artistry that all aspiring cooks should have in their back pockets. The ability to whip up a perfect bowl of foamy egg whites forms the foundation for perfecting a multitude of desserts/confectionery , some of which include the prevalent Pavlova, mousse, nougat, marshmallows, buttercream, semifreddo, macarons, the list goes on.. The exact measurements in meringue recipes vary according to intended use, but the fundamental techniques are always the same.

However, before you flex those guns’ and crack out the trusty whisk, here are some meringue facts you need to know:

The two most common methods of making meringue:

Italian Meringue – A stable meringue that is made by slowly drizzling hot sugar (112°C to 116°C)  into egg whites as its being whipped.

French Meringue – A more basic meringue whereby sugar is gradually rained into the egg whites as it’s being whisked, with icing sugar folded through at the end.

Less common is Swiss Meringue, which is made by heating the sugar and whites over a bain marie to 110-120°C and then beating the mixture until stiff.

Types:

Hard and soft. Hard meringue is made with a higher sugar content and baked for a long time period at a low temperature. Soft meringue is often used to ice tarts (i.e.lemon meringue tart), cakes or in desserts (i.e. floating islands).

Today, we’re going to tackle the kinder beast, the French Meringue technique. The recipe is easy to remember as it simply calls for equal quantities of egg whites, caster sugar and  icing sugar.

BASIC FRENCH MERINGUE:

INGREDIENTS:

200g egg whites *NOTE: Ensure no residual egg yolk. Traces of yolk (even small ones) can prevent the whites from whisking up)

200g caster sugar

200g icing sugar (sifted)

EQUIPMENT:

A squeaky clean mixing bowl

Whisk (you can either do this by hand or electric mixer)

Spatula

METHOD:

Firstly, make sure that all of your equipment (especially the mixing bowl and whisk) are clean and grease-free. Fat (even in small amounts) will prevent the whites from foaming up. Preheat your oven to a low 120°C. If you’re using a fan forced oven set the temperature to 100°C/105°C.

Place the whites in the bowl (you can add in two drops of lemon juice OR a pinch of cream of tartar to help stabilise the mix, but it would still work without) and whisk on high till it becomes a soft foamy mass  (i.e.bubble bath). DO NOT add in any sugar before it reaches this stage.

At this point, add in the caster sugar a little at a time, whisking continually. You’ll notice the meringue getting denser (resembling whipped cream). Once you’ve finished adding in all the sugar, keep whisking until the meringue is stiff (test it out by turning the bowl upside down. If nothing slops out, you’re set).

Tip the icing sugar into the meringue and FOLD together, confidently but gently, from the outside in (in a figure-of-eight motion). Once the icing sugar is mixed in, STOP folding. Overworking the meringue will cause it to collapse and lose its air. What you’re left with is a pearly, glossy bowl of light meringue that is now ready to be used as your recipe directs *Pat on the back.

To make crispy meringue shells, you can choose to pipe you meringue onto a tray lined with baking paper; either in rosettes using a star nozzle, or in long lines to create logs. If you can’t be bothered, you can spoon them out onto the tray as big blobs (for those wanting a more “organic” look).

These go in the oven for one-and-a-half to two hours. Best thing to do is to turn off the oven after its done baking, and leave the shells in the oven overnight with the door slightly ajar. This allows them to dry out completely, producing crisp shells.

SHIRAZ STRAWBERRY ETON MESS:

You can put your meringue biscuits to good use by whipping up this simple dessert favourite. Traditional Eton Mess is usually made with fresh strawberries, cream and meringue biscuits (some add yoghurt in as well). This is a personal rendition of the dessert with the addition of red wine.

INGREDIENTS:

Meringue shells (about 80g worth)

300ml fresh cream

40g caster sugar

1/2 punnet Fresh strawberries (roughly chopped)

For strawberry compote:

Punnet of strawberries (whole, with leaves off)

1  1/2 cups red wine (use a cheap cleanskin; you can substitute with other grape variety though I’d stay away from pinot noir)

1 cup brown/white sugar

Rind of 1/2 an orange (grated)

A dribble of vanilla essence/extract/paste/pod

Put all ingredients for the compote into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook at a simmer until mixture resembles a chunky jam (make sure you stir from time to time to prevent from burning).

When it has reached a thick gloopy consistency, pour in a splash (about 1/2 cup) of ADDITIONAL red wine – mix and take off the heat. Store covered in the fridge to chill.

Whisk up the cream together with the 40g caster sugar until firm peaks.

To assemble, mix the cream, compote, fresh strawberries and CRUSHED meringue biscuits together in a bowl. Serve in a large dish or in individual glasses. Serve with additional chopped strawberries to garnish (makes about 6-8 serves).

Love that bean – Steven ter Horst Chocolatier

12 Apr

Photo courtesy of Ms Elysia Ang

Chocolate. A tongue’s best friend, the waistline’s worst enemy. Or so, that’s how the myth tells it. Thankfully, many scientific discoveries of late have confirmed the health benefits of the cacao bean, thus restoring the conscience of an entire generation of chocolate eaters.

Adelaide has seen the likes of many chocolate establishments in the past, but few have succeeded in highlighting the decadence, nay,  the refinement, of the art that is – chocolate making. Until now..

Enter Steven ter Horst, artisan chocolatier. Having firmly established itself at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market,  the label set shop in Malvern late last year; knocking out an exquisite collection of hand-crafted chocolates, with a strew of decadent cakes, tarts and cookies on the side.

Steven’s moulded chocolates/truffles lean noticeably towards the “dark side”, with more use of milk and dark couverture and less of white. Pristine and lustrous, these moulded chocolates were the product of an expert’s hands. Each was impeccably tempered with a near textbook-perfect outer shell, giving way to luscious fillings of ganache. The Fleur De Sel comes highly recommended with a decadent, oozy centre of Maldon salted caramel. Other favourites include the Jeanette (raspberry ganache with a hint of creme de framboise), Petit Cassis (Blueberry and creme de cassis ganache) and Lady Jane (fresh lemon milk ganache).

Olio (extra virgin olive oil) was bizarrely entertaining as it uncovered a savoury quality in the chocolate, whilst the ginger number a good-natured wildcard. Overall, the use of fresh South Australian ingredients found its translation in all of Steven’s chocolates as every flavour rang true.

Photo courtesy of Ms Elysia Ang

Gleaming alluringly, the chocolate tarts and petit gateau behind the glass have a dangerous gravitational pull. We fell in temptation to the Hazelnut Heaven mousse cake; a treat of sinful proportions with smooth as silk praline mousse and vanilla currant bavarois atop a crunchy Gianduja base.

To quench your thirst midway, sample the house-made sparkling ginger, orange and lemonade. Specialist coffee (Coffee Barun) and tea (Tea Forte) are also on offer as warming accompaniments.

The melding of dark-wooded fittings against the canvas of white walls, ornamented with embellishments of vintage suitcases, decorative moulds and cookbooks, form a breezy, contemporary setting for an intimate tea. It’s a cosy nook, with seating for few, so grab em’ whilst you can.

Interior

In the weeks to come, the shop will unveil their Easter specials, so pop in for a peep at their beautiful chocolate eggs or pick-out a gift box of 24, 12 or 4 chocolates for a loved one. There are also plans to develop a small macaron range at the shop (they currently make them to order).

So, whether you’re searching for a sweet fix with that finished sparkle, or simply a charming corner to mingle – scoot over to the newfound gem that is Steven ter Horst. Mr Willy Wonka would be so proud.

Steven ter Horst Chocolatier on Urbanspoon

Steven ter Horst Chocolatier
221D Unley Rd,
Malvern 5061,
SA.
(08) 8373 1330
Opening Hours:
Mon – Wed (9am till 5.30pm), Thurs – Sat (9am till 9pm), Sun (11am – 5pm)

Get Me to The Greek

1 Apr

You know those dinners, those well-earned celebratory ones, where you kick back with good mates after enduring an arduous stint of work, when you’re laughing so hard and so carelessly that the table behind turns to stare, with wine flowing merrily and fingers grabbling at food; t’was.. such a night.

Going to The Greek is like coming home. Think warmly-lit  brick walls, white paned windows, roomy corners and nostalgic black n’ white photos. Another reason it feels so, is because this restaurant has a story. For almost fifty years since 1909 the same building operated as a waste incinerator, aptly named “The Destructor”, ridding Adelaide of its bulk of rubbish and generating good ol’ electricity. Today, the building is a friendly space, its towering thirty-five metre chimney a beacon to all those in search of an honest meal.

And what a meal was served up. Our table surface was groaning under the weight of dishes ordered – so much so that we had to uproot to a larger table. We went communal that day and had all our dishes plonked in the centre for picking. Wise.

Entrée was a meze of mixed-plate nibblets. Char-grilled Greek sausages with Ouzo-macerated oranges was a revel of spice-induced meat encased in a juicy packet, whilst the herbed battered calamari a familiar yet agreeable “in-betweener”. Those possessing an affinity with innards will be charmed by the Sikotakia: meltingly creamy pan-fried chicken livers on a saucy reef of soft, sautéed onions. My top-draw for the evening.

Main course was a feast beyond a feast. Spoons wasted no time in diving into the smooth pillow of Moussaka, akin to a  ‘shepherds pie’, remarkably moreish with its creamy stratosphere of Greek white sauce. The expressionistic structure that was the grilled Moreton Bay bugs was rather likeable, but a touch under-seasoned. Whilst the marinated lamb cutlets tittered on the brink of being slightly over-charred, they were cooked to pinky-perfection and scrumptious with the tangy side of lemon bligouri and yoghurt. How sweet and succulent was the delicate flesh of herbed smattered quails, splendid in its simplicity.

Dessert was custard and cream Kataïfi, a homely cake-like offering.  We unfortunately could not manage any more than that as we were busting at our seams by that point (much to the disappointment of the sweet-laden cake fridge). Service was amiable, warm and relaxed. And most importantly, the meal was of decent value with prices reasonably fair for this nature of dining.

The Greek on Halifax is certainly a local “favourite”, having claimed the national title of ‘Favourite Greek’ in the 2010 I Love FOOD Awards; and justly so. We walked away with much cheer, much love and much self-inflicted indigestion.


Rating: 16/20 (Will make for a merry outing)
The Greek on Halifax
75 – 79 Halifax Street
Adelaide, SA 5000
Australia
08 8223 3336

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