Monthly Archives: February 2010

Caramel Tart

For our six month-iversary, The Socialist gave me Frankie Magazine’s Afternoon Tea cookbook, and I’ve been slowly making my way through the recipes.  So twee!  So tasty!

After the churros at La Paloma, I had a taste for caramel.  I wanted more.  And so I pulled out the recipe for Betty’s Caramel Tart and went to work.

There are three stages, so it’s not the fastest thing in the world to make, but the recipe is pretty straight forward.  And the pastry is one of those fantastically easy mix-it-all-together-and-press-into-dish ones.  No rolling required, which means no shortcrust falling apart all over the place (yes, my pastry-making skills could use some improvement).

The tart is has a lovely crumbly shell, sweet, gooey caramel filling, and a layer of meringue on top. Here it is, untopped in all its caramel glory:

My oven is entirely dodgy and I can’t turn it down once it’s lit or else the flame goes out, so I had to cook the meringue at 180 degrees because that was the temperature for the pastry (I see a new oven and/or kitchen in my near future).  Which means it went golden brown all over in less than five minutes.  Possibly not ideal, but it was still tasty, and the meringue was lovely and soft underneath.

I may not have let it cool enough before cutting, as the caramel was oozing in delicious gooey oozes.  My housemate was standing by, spoon in hand, impatiently waiting for me to finish taking pictures.

Then we ate it, and it was delicious.  Yum!

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La Paloma

La Paloma is one of my favourite places to go for lunch on workdays.  Tucked just off Sydney Road in Brunswick, it’s unassuming, unfussy, very affordable and the food is fantastic.

There’s a bit of South American influence, both in the decor (bright colours, a couple of soccer pictures) and in the food.  The menu is minimal, but what they do, they do very well.  There are rolls with salad (and usually meat, but not for me) for $6.50. Seriously, these are the best salad rolls I have ever tasted – really good sourdough rolls, cheese, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes topped with a little basil, a cos lettuce leaf, and whatever they do to the butter/spread is amazing.  Simple but perfect!

There’s also tortilla, which comes with the same excellent bread and a salad which includes mild pickled chillies (this dish initiated a serious obsession with pickled chillies for me – the hot ones split long ways and added to a cheese toasty has become one of my favourite quick breakfasts).  And they have empanadas on Fridays, but I haven’t tried them.

The coffee is excellent – strong but not too bitter – and only $2.50!  Coffee under $3! It’s incredible!  (They don’t charge any extra for soy, either.)

There’s a small selection of sweets, and last time I went I finally tried the churros ($2.50) I’ve been eyeing off for ages.  They weren’t the greatest churros I’ve ever had (the oil flavour was pretty strong), but they’re smeared with this wonderful, thick gooey caramel that reminds me of the best condensed-milk based treats of my childhood.

La Paloma
259 Albert St, Brunswick

It’s a blintz!

Yeah I like food.  I like food a LOT.  I’ve had a lot of amazingly delicious food over the past few weeks – so delicious that it’s motivated me to get new batteries for my camera, and finally start the foodie blog I’ve been thinking about for the last, oh, forever or so.

First up: Blintzes!

I was inspired by last week’s long, lazy, and lovely lunch last week with Nix, DB, M, and my favourite Socialist at Court Jester (which was in turn inspired by this review).  We all had delicious meals, and then shared a couple of plates of blintzes for desert.  So delicious!  So full!!!

I’ve always been fond of blintzes (they’re like cheesecake wrapped in pancake!), and the compote gave me a way to use the last of the plums that The Socialist had bought over the week before.  This is what I did to make 12 delicious blintzes:

Spiced Plum Compote

I made this the night before (and ate nearly half of it then it was so divine!).

  1. Quarter and pit about eight or so plums and put them in a smallish saucepan.
  2. Add a cinnamon stick, 2-3 star anise, a few cloves, and sliced fresh ginger.
  3. Sprinkle with approx 1/4 cup raw sugar (I didn’t want them to be too sweet, as I wanted the tartness to work against the richness of the blintzes).
  4. Add just enough water to almost cover.
  5. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.  The plums will turn a lovely rich jewel red colour as they cook.

The Crepe Batter

I made this first thing in the morning and let it rest while I prepared the filling.  It was a little bit lumpy because I added the milk too fast, but it didn’t detract from the final product in the least.

  1. Sift 1 cup of flour with 1/4 tsp salt.
  2. Crack an egg into the mix and stir through.
  3. Add milk (I used soy milk) a little at a time until you have a smooth dough.
  4. Keep adding milk until you have a fairly runny batter.  I can’t tell you how much this is, because I always do it by feel.
  5. Put the mixture aside to rest while you make up the filling.

The Blintz Filling

This is the key to everything.  Possibly life itself.

  1. Mix 350g ricotta with a tub of marscapone (250g, I think) until smoothly blended.
  2. Add sugar to taste.  I used 4 tablespoons.  It should be sweet but not too sweet.
  3. Add the zest of one lemon, and a teaspoon of vanilla essence and stir through.

It would also be worth adding an egg yolk to the mix to help it hold together a bit more in the final product.  I didn’t do this, and the hot filling was a little runny, but I don’t think that spoiled the enjoyment in the slightest!

The Assembly

I had some help from The Socialist for this part, and I highly recommend having and assistant.  He cooked the crepes while I filled and folded – the timing worked perfectly!

  1. Pour about 1/4-1/3 cup of the batter into a hot, lightly greased frypan and swirl so it’s very thin.
  2. Once the crepe has cooked through, turn it out onto a clean teatowel, cooked side up.
  3. Allow to cool slightly, then place a heaped tablespoon of the filling in the middle of the crepe, then fold up to enclose completely.
  4. Put aside (folded edged down) and repeat for the next crepe.
  5. When all the crepes are cooked and filled, add a little butter to your frying pan, place a few blintzes in the pan folded side down and fry for a few minutes until lightly golden.  Turn over and fry the other side.  (We just did four at this stage, and put the others in the fridge for later, which worked brilliantly).
  6. Turn out onto plates and top with spicy plum compote.  I also had some fresh black currant grapes, so I added them, along with a little bit of sour cream.
  7. NOM!

No more blintzes 😦

But I love the colour of the sauce.