Category Archives: Desert

Boilermaker Desert

Chocolate stout cake.  Bourbon icecream.  Bourbon salted caramel sauce. Yes.

Chocolate stout cake with bourbon icecream and salted caramel sauce

Boilermaker desert

This is the kind of desert you make for someone you love.

You make it for them because their favourite drink is a boilermaker (beer with a chaser), and one wintery Melbourne evening while waiting for a tram you had a flash of brilliance and figured out how to translate that into desert form.

You make it for them because you’ve had that Chocolate Stout Cake  recipe bookmarked since forever and a very generous friend just gave you an icecream maker and this is the perfect excuse to try them both out.

You make it for them because they love you, too, and will forgive you when the whole centre of the cake collapses because you still haven’t quite figured out the quirks of your oven yet. And when you spin your decorative sugar strands too early and they collapse in the humidity of the kitchen and turn into strange chunks of toffee sculpture rather than the pretty, delicate nets you envisaged.

Probably they forgive you because this cake is still goddamn delicious, and it’s impossible not to love anyone who serves it to you.  Especially when they serve your favourite drink on the side:


Chocolate stout and bourbon. Yes.

The cake recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.

The bourbon icecream and bourbon salted caramel sauce are from Ezra Pound Cake.

You should put them together and make this desert for someone you love.  Maybe that’s you?


Mr Nice Guy

I’ve been a big fan of Mr Nice Guy cupcakes since my awesome friend Georgia introduced me to them.  My first Mr Nice Guy was some kind of amazing berry amazingness that was the perfect cupcake – light, moist cake with sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavoursome icing.  So as soon as Cindy & Michael posted about the new Mr Nice Guy Cafe in Brunswick (which happens to be a 10 minute walk from my office) I had to go.  Unfortunately, the cafe isn’t open on Tuesdays, so I had to wait a couple of days…and now it’s taken me a couple of weeks to write this up.

The cafe is at the Noise Bar on Albert St in Brunswick.  It’s full of couches and has a few ‘proper’ tables as well –  a blessing for those of use with a habit of spilling food in our laps.  It’s actually quite a charming space, although pretty quiet – I was the first person there when I walked in at 12:15, but a a couple of other groups came in while I was eating.

Along with the famous cupcakes, Mr Nice Guy also serve vegan tex mex and crepes. I had the quesadilla with vegan sour cream on the side ($2 extra) and it was damn tasty, although I wanted something more from it – a bit of fresh salsa would have made everything amazing.

I went specifically for lunch, but there was also no way I was leaving without a cupcake. I picked the Betty White: chocolate cake with coconut icing and flakes of toasted coconut on top – it’s like a bounty bar in cupcake form.

Betty White
Betty White – the Bounty bar of Vegan Cupcakes

I took my camera along with full intentions of documenting my meal, but I got distracted by the tasty food and forgot all about it until I was paying (I took the cupcake photos once I got back to the office).  As I was fishing for my wallet, the amazing crepe cake below came out, and the owners were trying to figure out how to photograph it with dodgy phone cameras.  I offered to let them use my decent-but-not-very-fancy digital and emailed the photos.  This is the crepe cake:

Crepes layered with lemon cream cheese and glazed with berries.

As a thank you for the camera use, I got a bonus free cupcake! It was gorgeous – rosewater cake with a chocolate icing – so tasty!

Rosewater cupcake with chocolate icing

Bonus Cupcake: Rosewater with chocolate icing

The verdict: great space run with a complete lack of pretence, relaxed service, and tasty, tasty food.  I hope they get the custom they deserve and keep on serving up delicious vegan food to Brunswegians for a long, long, time.

Homemade “Ricotta”

Homemade ricotta on toast

The first thing I have to say is that this isn’t really ricotta.  Ricotta is made from whey, and this is made from whole milk enriched with cream.  It’s like super-rich, lightly salted, fresh homemade paneer.  And it’s delicious.

The second thing I have to say is that I’m totally obsessed with it. I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen and I’ve made it three times now.  I kept forgetting to add the salt after the first batch, but I don’t think that takes too much away from it.  Seriously. So good.

The first time I followed Deb’s recipe exactly (opting for the lower cream:milk ratio; no idea why).  It was a little grainier than I’d like, but still delicious.  I mixed the fresh curds with some extra lemon juice and tossed with some just-steamed green beans and toasted almond flakes. Perfection.

The second time I made it to use up dairy products leftover from other recipes (I’m usually a soy kinda girl). I didn’t measure anything, just tipped the leftover milk and cream into a pot and heated it up.  I used leftover yoghurt for the acid, and when it didn’t curdle quite enough, I added a bit of extra lemon juice to get things going.  This was incredibly creamy, sweet, and amazing, and dear Maude I wish I’d measured things so I could repeat it. I scoffed it all with a spoon and you better believe I’m going to experiment with higher cream ratios and yoghurt coagulants until I can reliably reproduce the results.

The third time I made it, I decided to stop mucking around with polite quantities and just go for broke.  I made a-bit-over-double the original recipe with a cream ratio somewhere in between the two previous attempts.  I also miscalculated the acid ratio and used nearly twice the required lemon juice, but it still came out creamy and seriously good.  Better than deli ricotta for about two-thirds the price, and seriously better than supermarket tubs.  I keep sneaking back to the kitchen to eat it by the spoonful as I type.

If you don’t eat the whole lot at once, you have more restraint than me.  You should also transfer it to a plastic container and keep it in the fridge – it will keep for a few days (if it lasts that long).  It will also firm up a bit – mine ended up with a texture and mouthfeel similar to mascarpone.

Hot milk

Heat the milk until it's foamy.

Mmm, curdled

Curdled milk. This is what you want.

Cheesecloth. Ikea curtain. Whatever.

Homemade Ricotta
from Smitten Kitchen

If you’re after a more reasonable amount, you should probably go use Deb’s original recipe – but go for the higher cream content. Despite Deb’s claims, I think it makes a huge difference, but my experiments have not been as scientific as hers.  If you’re after an unreasonably large quantity, use the measures below. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

2L milk
600ml cream
pinch salt
150ml lemon juice (I used 300ml and it worked but had a very pronounced lemon flavour. Maybe have a couple extra lemons on hand in case?)
A couple of good pinches of salt

Combine the milk and cream (and salt! don’t forget the salt!) in a large saucepan.  Place over medium heat.  If you have a candy/deepfry thermometer, heat to 85C (190F).  If you don’t have a thermometer, heat until just below boiling (there will be foamy bubbles on the surface).

Turn off the heat.  Pour in the lemon juice and stir gently – you should see curds start to form.  If that doesn’t happen, add a little more lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until they do.  Leave to sit for a few minutes.

Place a large colander over a bowl.  Line the colander with cheesecloth (I use the excess length of a sheer curtain from Ikea, washed and cut to size.  You could also use a tea towel, but the closer the weave the longer it will take to drain.)

Allow to drain.  The longer you leave it, the drier it will be.  If you’re making the large quantity, you may need to empty the whey from the bowl every so often.

To eat: Spread on toast. Mix through pasta. Drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle with honey. Serve with fruit. Or tomatoes and basil.  Or just-steamed green beans and toasted almond flakes. Or grilled eggplant or zucchini or asparagus.  Or just grab a spoon and go for it. No judgement here.

I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things

Well hello again.  Yes, it’s been a while (again).  Things keep getting in the way – not of cooking and eating, I have been cooking eating – oh, I have been cooking and eating!  But of photographing and writing and, well, doing anything with this blog at all.

I’ve been meaning to tell you all about the cooking and eating, though – about the incredible meals I’ve eaten at Attica and Ezzard (kindly subsidised by my amazing housemate who takes pity on my student budget).

And I meant to tell you how those meals inspired me to cook a 10-course degustation meal for my mother’s 60th (So much work! So much delicious!).

I wanted to tell you about the delicious vegetarian pancakes and vegetarian pho at Thanh Na Nine (I had the faux pho, but there’s faux-free pho as well):

And I wanted to tell you about the bbq “beef” at Yong Green Food. And also their blueberry vegan “cheesecake”, which I didn’t take a picture of because I was too busy eating it.

About making dulche de leche the old fashioned way (by boiling tins of condensed milk on the stove top for 2-3 hours.  Some people are scared of this method, due to the threat of exploding hot caramel, but you just have to use a big pot and make sure you check the water levels frequently.  Also, let the tins cool completely before opening, otherwise, yeah, exploding hot caramel.  Nobody wants that.)

And about the “pie party” we had for new years, which included Smitten Kitchen’s incredible Cauliflower & Caramelised Onion Tart, and a Mushroom, Blue Cheese & Caramelised Onion tart inspired by Sweet Source in North Carlton, and Cindy & Michael’s scrumptions vegan sausage rolls (ok, I was lazy and used the butter puff I had in the freezer, so mine technically weren’t vegan, but damn they were delicious – much nicer than “real” sausage rolls!).

I was going to mention the new (double!) oven that the landlord (finally!) bought to replace the old one which had holes melted through the door.  And the food processor I bought with my xmas monies (Best. Appliance. Ever).

I wanted to tell you about Ilona Staller, which is Ciccolina‘s sister restaurant and opened just before Christmas around the corner from me.  Verdict: delicious food, great drinks, fantastic service, in desperate need of more vegetarian options (there’s only one veg entree and one main, though there’s a good selection of sides, and their deserts are incredible).

I wanted to tell you about Misty’s Diner, which is outstandingly kitsch and serves wonderfully artery-clogging clogging food that conforms to every US cliche you can think of (deep fried! giant serves!) and I don’t care because it makes me happy.

I wanted to tell you about Rachael Kendrick’s kinky brownies because they may well be the best brownies I’ve ever eaten, and I’m compulsively pimping the recipe to the rest of the world.

I wanted to tell you about Mamsita (the corn! THE CORN!) and Naked for Satan and HuTong Dumpling (which I think is totally worth the 100% mark-up over Camy, if you can manage to get a table).

I wanted to tell you about my favourite hangover cure (because a lot of this eating has been accompanied by a lot of drinking).  It’s called shakshuka, and it’s the best.

I wanted to confess that this blog is basically a recap of all the food blogs I stalk.

And that I’m a bit embarrassed by my iPhone photos, but I bought a shiny new camera which takes much better pictures and will be debuting soon.

And that I’m taking off on a Big Fat US Adventure in March and April, and I’m very excited about all the amazing food I’ll eat there.

And there’s still more things I wanted to tell you about, but maybe I’ll leave those for another post.  If anyone’s still reading.

Caramel Tart: The Original

Thinking back, I’m pretty sure this is the first recipe I ever made up.  The first thing I learned to cook was French Toast (which we called ‘fence posts’), although I hardly ever make it now and I seem to have lost the knack.  But this recipe I invented when I was fairly young (somewhere around 10 or 12, I think), and had a craving for caramel that couldn’t be satisfied without inventiveness (I grew up on a small farm and the closest shop was half an hour by car).  I made it again recently after a bit of a caramel revival and while it certainly satisfied my craving for something sweet and sticky, I don’t think it’s a particularly great recipe.  The filling is kind of a cheat’s version of dulche de leche – it’s not quite as nice, but it much faster and much, much safer to make (10 year old me was not allowed to set tins of condensed milk on the stove to boil for hours on end).  I’m posting it because I’m both terribly fond in a nostalgic way, and terribly proud of my 10 or 12 year old skilz.

Jackie’s Caramel Tart

1 sheet puff pastry (This is the original recipe – I think a nice homemade shortcrust would probably be better.  But this is about nostalgia, not quality.)
2 tblspns butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tins condensed milk

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.

Prepare a 24cm(ish) tart tin and line with puff pastry.  Blind bake for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan.  Add the brown sugar and stir to combine – it should look a bit like a dark roux at this point.

Brown sugar like roux

Remove from heat and add a little bit of the condensed milk to form a paste.  Add the rest of the milk and return to heat.  Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  The caramel will thicken slightly.

Pour the caramel into the prepared tart shell and return to the oven for around half an hour.  It should develop a rich, dark colour but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.  It will have a slight crust, and ooey, gooey caramel underneath.

Caramel Tart

Allow to cool, then serve, preferably with a bit of vanilla ice cream to cut through the sugar.  It may not be quality food, but it’s easy and damn satisfying.

Mmmmm, goooooeeeeeyyyyy

Quick Bites

There’s been so much going on lately that I haven’t got to blogging any of it.  So here are some quick bites – snacks, really – about food and, well, food.

1. Radical Grocery, Brunswick St, Fitzroy

After working just up the road since it opened, I finally made my first trip to The Radical Grocery Store on Sydney Rd.  My recent obsession with home made aoli has lead me to rediscover the excellentness of mustard, which has lead me to craving roast beef sandwiches, which lead me to try the Cheatin’ Style slices, and I was surprised by just how roast-beefy they tasted.  Craving satisfied.

I also grabbed the Vegi Deli mock chicken nuggets, and a Funky Pie Chic ‘n’ Cheese, Neither of which I’ve tried yet.  And at the last minute, I grabbed a brownie from the basket of goodies on the counter (damn suggestive placement!).  I nommed that straight away, and it was divine – rich and fudgey and chocolately and delicious!

2. Pies! Pies! Pies!

I seem to have a bit of a pie thing going on at the moment.

Castro’s, Melbourne Uni.  Known for some of the best coffee on campus, as well as the hottest barristers (who have since moved to the new cafe by the ERC).  I stopped by for a quick lunch after meeting my supervisor last week and had the Veggie Korma Pie, which was divine!  Thick, flavoursome curry gravy, yummy veggies, good crust.

Georgie Pie, Sydney Rd, Brunswick.   Their lentil and potato pie is damn tasty.  And they do a great custard tart.

TOFWD, Degraves St, Melbourne.  If I’m running late and haven’t had time for breakfast, I’ll sometimes grab a piece of the Kashmir pie from TOFWD while I’m waiting for my connecting train to arrive (don’t get me started about the Upfield line.  There’s a reason I don’t live in Brunswick anymore).  It’s tasty and nourishing and makes all my public transport rage evaporate with the first bite.

3. Court Jester, Breese St, Brunswick

Speaking of running late and catching the Upfield line, this place is conveniently located between the train station and my job, so I stopped in for breakfast the other day. I really like this place.

The long communal table.

I had the Brunswick Green again, and it’s still good, though not as good as last time.  The asparagus is obviously not in season, so they’d used pickled asparagus.  This wasn’t the gross mushy stuff you get from the supermarket, it was firm and textured and vinegary and rather delicious (but I like the fresh stuff better).  The avocado also wasn’t great – avocados just aren’t that great at the moment.

The Brunswick Green

I really like Court Jester, but I think they’d benefit from a more seasonal menu, or at least making sure their produce is always great quality.

4. New York Cheesecake

I volunteered to make this for a dinner at a friend’s place entirely because I’d started drooling the second I saw the pictures over as Smitten Kitchen, and had been revisiting that post twice a day since it went up.  Then it appeared twice on my RSS feed (both times in veganised form), and I had to make it.  I was a little wary given my ridiculous oven (there will be a new oven in my not-to-distant future), and I kind of whimped out on the price of ingredients and made a 3/4 size filling, which turned out to be just fine, thank you.  And goodness, it was pretty with the cherry topping running down the sides:

Someone else bough a banoffee pie, and desert awesomeness was had by all.

5. Tofu Kapitan

When this recipe from Vegan About Town popped up in my Google Reader, it was all I could think about for the next few hours.  So I checked the fridge and the cupboard, and I had everything required to make it except tempeh, so I made a tofu version, and it was DELICIOUS.  The tender potatoes, the rich sauce, the smell of it cooking…mmmm.  I had plenty of leftovers, and it was even better for lunch the next day.

Gosh, I really do like food a whole lot!

Two Whole (Cup) Cakes

Today I met up with my lovely friend ess_jay for a long-overdue cake date.  I was already going to be in the city to see Edie and Thea for MQFF (which was really excellent), so I suggested we check out the new cupcake shop at QV, The Cupcake Family.  Yeah, yeah, I know, cupcakes are so whenever.  I don’t care.  I heart them.

I had the Blueberry Cream Cheese and ess_jay had the Lemony Sunshine.  They were both delicious, and properly cakey.  I’ve had a few cupcakes that taste pretty much like packet mix, but these had lovely texture or density.  The Lemony Sunshine was especially delicious, with surprise!lemon curd in the middle.  Yum!

I forgot to take pictures while we were there, but I did get a couple to bring home:

The Coffee Crunch was very delicious, with yummy walnut chunks and a chocolate coated coffee bean on top.

The Lemony Sunshine got a little but smooshed on the journey, but was still very yum!

Awesome Housemate and I had half of each each, and he immediately asked me where they were from, which is something of an endorsement.

After a taste of ess-jay’s strawberry macaroon, I decided I’d have to get some of my own to take home as well.  I got strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and green tea.  They were very sweet and moist and chewy and crunchy and AH and I ate them all before I remembered to take photos.  I particularly liked the strawberry and vanilla.

The Cupcake Family
Shop 22, Red Cape Lane, QV
Ph: 9663 0055

Cupcakes: $3.70ea