Friday, September 17, 2010

Do you want your house to smell like a Bakery?

Doesn't everything seem better after you smell a freshly baked  yeasty bun  that has been retrieved from the oven? Well it does for me .
 I love the smell that the house starts to accomodate this yeast, sweet aroma...ohhh goodness.!! (Note the pic on the left is not meant to represent me I just love the artist, I mean how cupcakes don't they?)
I also love experimenting and strongly recommend you do the same when you are in the kitchen. With a recipe for a blueberry sticky bun I then tweeked it a bit and made Milk chocolate and Currant sticky buns...Aren't currants the coolest I totally think that sultana's are overated and that currants are getting the back seat, try them in this recipe delish.
 Now it was 11pm when I got my baked yeasty goods out of the oven and I couldn't stop smelling them, sweet cinnamon.....yeast..... yum!
I am working tomorrow at 8:30am and I just might take some in for Anna and Michelle to smell and devour.
I mean I could of accomplished several things tonight I could have watched Collingwood thrash Geelong (my mum is one happy camper) , or I could of straightened my hair for work tomorrow (yes I have "fool curl" it is  half curl half straight very deceiving) or I could have vacumed. So many lovely options but I always choose baking yeasty sweet treats when I have the chance.
Especially seeing the weather is not really spring like so have a ponder over  the recipes below I thought you would enjoy making; if not for your mates and family then for smell ...admire and turn your house into sweet bakery heaven ....oh  and then eat them of course!!! Yum!

The below recipe is without a doubt ....easy...please do not let the writing in the recipe put you off. It basically is making dough...setting it aside to let it rise(prove)...then making the sugary filling.. ( yum!!! )and then spreading the filling with blueberries rolling it all up ..cutting it and popping it in a muffin tin.The beauty with this recipe is that you can pop it all ready to go in a muffin tin and then put in the fridge ready to bake off for breakfast ( or if you sleep in on Sundays like me, brunch).

Blueberry Sticky Buns (Scrolls)

2 tsp dry yeast
 4 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1 x egg room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1/2 tsp salt
 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
 1 tbsp cinnamon
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I use frozen they are amazing)
1. Combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Spoon a tablespoonful of filling into bottom of each cup of a greased 12-cup muffin tin
1. Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve yeast in water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a mixer a bowl and spoon is fine)
2. Add milk, egg and sugar and blend. Add flour, salt and nutmeg and mix for 1 minute to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.
3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest 1 hour in a draught-free place.
4. Preheat oven to 180c

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle 1/2- inch thick. Spread remaining filling over the dough(the other filling put a teaspoon into each muffin hole in a greased muffin tray), sprinkle with blueberries and roll up lengthwise. Slice dough into 12 equal portions and arrange them in muffin tin.

6. Allow to rise for 1/2 hour. Bake 30 minutes, and turn out onto a plate while still warm and EAT!!!
Next yeasty goodness is Milk chocolate and Currant Buns, now if you really don't like currants well just leave them out but go on give them a go!

Milk Chocolate & Currant Buns of Goodness


4 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons  dried yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice or cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups currants
1 1/2 cups of milk chocolate  buttons
40g butter
300ml milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Combine flour, yeast, sugar, mixed spice, salt and currants in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add milk. Heat for 1 minute, or until lukewarm. Add warm milk mixture and eggs to currant mixture. Use a flat-bladed knife to mix until dough almost comes together. Use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper or rub vegetable oil over it. Punch dough down to its original size and add chocolate and currants to dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 12 even portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1cm apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Preheat oven to 190°C.

Make glaze: Place water and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Brush warm glaze over warm buns. Serve warm or at room temperature or with a cuppa or when ever you want a delicious treat !!

Ok next time it will be about chocolate the best of course Callebaut chocolate and ganache and tempering I am getting excited !!! .. I am off to make a cuppa and have a bun or two .....
Happy Cooking !!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cook Like a Chef -- Order up!

I know I am writing again after a month.... Oops.  I recently got a Casual job just for the weekends so I can afford to purchase the ingredients to keep on cooking and I have no more excuses excpet to say I will no longer make promises . I will however promise to write you with passion and deliver a fantastic blog piece every time that will make you want to grab an apron and cook away. Deal? Deal!!

So in saying that I have been meaning to write a menu for you to conjure up and show off to your loved ones. But after speaking to several foodie lovers I thought not only can I produce an amazing interchangeable menu that each recipe can be adapted and changed to suit you. But I thought about adding the “Laughing Chef Gotta Know” stuff which is basically easy to follow recipes that you and other foodie lovers have come up to me or emailed me asking me “how to make”. So read on and once your done have a try whipping up something, cooking shouldn’t be a chore it should be a treat and something fun. So instead of cooking something you are told to do or don’t know what you are even cooking why not cook something you acutally want to cook.

For example my sister Michelle went to Noosa Queensland with her partner Steve and they ordered Eggs Benedict (poached eggs on muffin with ham and hollandaise sauce) at Aroma Café in Hasting Street. Now this was Michelle’s first time in meeting Hollandaise sauce and Eggs Benedict and ever since Michelle goes on and on about Hollandaise Sauce and how great it is…. But do you guys know how easy it is to whip it up to then dollop on your freshly poached eggs. It is easy trust me please.  So for your next brunch event why not invite your mates over or family and impress them with Poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce….. (Directions to poach an egg are below as well). Michelle I hope you make this for Steve.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tbs water
175g unsalted butter, cut into 1.5cm cubes, at room temperature
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Place a heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan that is quarter-filled with water. The bowl should fit snugly into the pan without touching the water (lift the bowl to check and remove some water if it does).

** It is important that the water is barely simmering while making the sauce - if it is too hot, the egg yolks will cook too much and the sauce will curdle.

Place the egg yolks and the 2 tbs water in the heatproof bowl and place over the pan. Use a whisk to whisk the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until it is thick and pale, has doubled in volume and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.

Add the butter little bits at a time whisking constantly and adding bits of butter when the previous one is incorporated completely. (It should take about 10 minutes to add it all.) If butter is added too quickly, it won't mix easily with the egg yolks or the sauce may lose volume. At the same time, it is important that the butter is at room temperature and added a cube at a time, so that it doesn't take too long to be incorporated - if the sauce cooks for too long, it can curdle.

The sauce will begin to thin when you start adding the butter. However, once the emulsion is established (all butter has been added) it will begin to thicken again. It will continue to thicken as the remaining butter is added.

Remove the bowl from the pan .The cooked sauce should have the consistency of very lightly whisked thickened cream. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately over poached eggs.

Note: Now splitting your Hollandaise can happen trust me I had an order for 25 plates whilst working as a chef at the Windsor Hotel and we cooked our hollandaise on the spot and my Hollandaise split as the flame was too high and well I basically cooked it for too long. However a beautiful Sous Chef walked past and told me to add hot water and whisk… Guess what it works.So if your hollandaise splits you will see it splits as it look grainy…add 2 -3 tablespoons of boiling hot water and whisk.

Poached eggs a la Renee style

Free Range Eggs- Room temperature
White wine Vinegar

Working with 1 egg at a time, crack an egg into a small bowl . Fill a wide saucepan with water until half full. Add vinegar and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low-medium - water should be just simmering, with small bubbles rising from the base of pan and small ripples across the top of the water.

Using a wooden spoon or whisk, stir simmering water in one direction to create a whirlpool (this will help to give your poached eggs a neat shape).

Get a bowl of cold water ready for when the poached eggs are cooked.
Slide egg from bowl into centre of whirlpool, as close to water as possible. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a semi-soft yolk or 3-4 minutes for a firm-set yolk, without stirring.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer egg to a bowl of cold water (this stops the cooking process). Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. During and between cooking eggs, use slotted spoon to skim any foam from water surface. Repeat with remaining eggs. To reheat eggs, bring a clean pan of water to the boil then remove from heat. Add eggs. Stand, covered, for 1 minute. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve eggs on bagel or for Eggs Benedict toast muffin or thick slices of toast, Ham and poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce garnish with chopped chives and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.

Tips for perfect poaching: Adding vinegar or lemon juice to the water when poaching helps eggwhites to set quickly, keeping them attached to the yolks; Eggs purchased from the supermarket generally have a 4-week shelf life - look for those with the furthest away use-by date; Bring eggs to room temperature before poaching as cold eggs will lower the temperature of the water.

Another recipe must know is Mayonnaise so many people are purchasing Kraft full of addvitives mayonnaise  why when you can make your very own delicious mayonnaise and you can add your own flavours by adding garlic, basil, chilli ..yum!!

Laughing Chefs Famous Mayonnaise

 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
400 mls Olive oil
white pepper and salt to season

1. Place egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of Vinegar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until mixture just starts to thicken. (If you don’t have a food processor fear not you can use a bowl and whisk away!!!)

2. With the processor motor running, add oil mixture in a thin, steady stream, scraping bowl with a spatula occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy. Add remaining Vinegar .Season with white pepper . Process to combine.

3. Transfer mayonnaise to a small, airtight container. Place plastic wrap on the mayonnaise surface to prevent a skin forming. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


• For garlic Aoli , add 1 to 2 crushed garlic cloves with egg yolks in step 1 of basic mayonnaise. Add in crunchy baguettes or use as a dressing for potato salad.

The next must know is something I always used to make when I was an apprentice chef and now I know why. It tastes amazing and you make tasty delicious savoury treats with it. The recipe is Caramelised onions perfect in a puff pastry in a  fetta and olive tart or delicious as a garnish in salads or atop of chicken and fish for your main course. Actually my sister Michelle made a great point she was asking me how to make this and then she said “sometimes you get a recipe and it doesn’t make sense as it is not in beginners language”.

Michelle got me thinking there are so many levels there are the people that can cook but just go by the book and don’t embellish the recipe , people that do not know how to cook and literally go by the recipe and don’t taste the food or season and people that can cook but do it as a chore or the people that can cook but start out great and then rush their cooking process to get finished . I am here to tell you it’s ok  as long as you follow a recipe and yeah you might fail but the difference between the people that can cook and those that cannot is the ones that can cook keep cooking the dishes they get wrong until they are right…. So get slicing and cooking have fun.

Caramelised onions.

2 tbs olive oil
3 large brown onions, sliced
2 tbs brown sugar
1-2 tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and Black pepper to season.

Heat oil in a large frypan over low heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes,( you add salt as salt brings the moisture out of the onions and helps them soften) stirring occasionally to prevent them from catching. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up, as you don't want the onions to burn.

When onions are softened and tinged golden, add sugar and balsamic - this will start the caramelisation process. Cook onion over LOW heat for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelised. Use immediately, or store in the fridge, in a sterilised jar or plastic container, and use when required.

Laughing Chef tip for Caramelised Onions

• Cut a small round out of good quality puff Pastry (Careme Pastry) then make a an indent with a smaller circle inside of the circle with a knife (don’t cut through the pastry). Then top with the caramelised onions olive and pop into a 180c oven for 10 – 15 mins until they have puffed up.

• Crumble fresh fetta cheese over each once they out of the oven and drizzle with olive oil and eat (pic below) ….Yum!!!

My local business of the week to promote is called “Aquariam Bakery Café” located 382 High St
One thing that is a bit different is the open plan design that has incorporated a walk-through to a Rare vinyl /Book/ CD/DVD supplier and take my word for it, there are some very interesting bits to be added to your collection.

Aquarium Bakery café kitchen is run by Head Chef Richard Pavlov and it is a refreshing change to find poached eggs cooked to perfection and delicious sandwiches with fresh ingredients and yummy toasties as well as fresh bread on display …amazing coffee as well.

The Aquarium also offers all your usual menu favourites with an early breakfast available and light lunches to satisfy the fussiest of eaters. If you just want to spoil yourself with a morning tea the deli case is brimming with freshly baked loaves of bread to mouth watering cakes, biscuits and muffins - you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. The staff are friendly and with great facilities for the bubba - you’ll be making the Aquarium Bakery Cafe one of your favourite local places to visit.

Laughing Chef Kitchen Must Haves !!!

“Breaking the piggy bank” – Limoges Tea cups $139.95 each

Now for those of you that know me personally you know I love my tea. I love winding up after  a busy day with a cup of hot tea and what better way in one of these gorgeous tea cups.. I have my eye on the blue and the green  but hey I can take them all.

Limoges porcelain is created exclusively in Limoges, France from porcelain paste made with a subtle mixture of kaolin, feldspath and quartz. The range includes Teapots, Cups and Saucers, Mugs, Creamers, Sugar Bowls, Bread and Butter Plates, Deep Bowls, Egg Cups, Butter Dish and Heart shapes Gift Box in beautiful colours including: Parma, Ice Blue, Rose Petal, Pastel Yellow, Pastel Grey, Pastel Green, Old Rose and Ivory.

"Gotta get" -- Olive Wood Board 29 x 14cm - $39.95

I prefer wood chopping boards any day over plastic and the awful glass chopping boards…if you have one don’t worry I won’t tell…just throw it out and buy an Olive Wood board now.

Traditionally olive wood pieces were produced using only the centre 30% of the tree. Berard uses a greater portion which provides not only an ecological advantage but also ensures a stronger piece at a more reasonable price , each with beautiful unique grains. No two pieces are exactly alike.
Contrary to some belief microbiologists have determined through tests* on a variety of tree species that wood is infact more hygienic than plastic. They have discovered that bacteria such as salmonella and listeria will perish in under three minutes on wood but still survive on plastic.

For next time I will be coming up with some more Laughing Chefs must knows and must haves  in the kitchen and checking out some groovy cafes and meeting the chefs to discuss the passion that goes on the kitchen.

Until Next time .....Happy Cooking !!!

Photo taken from "

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Le quatorze juillet - Happy Bastille Day

Bastille Day is the French national holiday which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) and commonly le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July.

When I was a chef in the hospitality industry there was always a set menu for Bastille day and everyone was always excited about it . French treats, dishes and bread were prepared for the long weekly feast. Some of the food we would prepare would be apricot filled brioche, orange crepes, croissants and a menu fit with matching wines from the Bordeaux region.( Bakery in Paris below)

I would like to share some tasty french treats with you that will take you half the time to do and will taste just as good. So get your aprons on.

The first French treat is called “Pain au chocolat “ or “Chocolate croissants”. Now don’t get worried these are simple to make and as soon as you pop these into your oven,your kitchen will transform into a gastronomic French day dream and your visitors will be so impressed.
Ok so normally you would make your own puff pastry which isn’t hard to do it is just extremely time consuming as you roll out dough and add squares of room temperature butter, fold the dough roll and repeat the process (see below). The rolling and process creates the multiple layers of puff but if you are keen on making your own Puff Pastry , that’s great !!!

However for those that are under time restrictions then by all means buy a packet of ready made Puff Pastry. Ok yes I know you are probably thinking “is that ok”… and the reason it is ok is because the Puff Pastry I am referring you all to purchase is called “Carême Pastry ” . This is the best pastry by far and is amazing to bake with .Carême Pastry is owned and operated by William and Claire Wood. Carême Pastry is located in Tanunda in the Barossa Valley South Australia.

Careme Pastry established in 2005 with a clear vision - to provide a range of the finest, hand- crafted pastry products made using traditional methods from natural ingredients, free from additives, preservatives and colourings. Unlike commercial manufacturers they do not use stabilizers, relaxants or any other additives commonly used in mass production. Their products are genuinely hand-made in order to maintain the highest quality.

Carême is named in recognition of the great Master Chef and Pâtissier, Antonin Carême (1783-1833), an orphan of the French revolution and self-educated he became the most celebrated chef of his time. Revered for his skill and ingenuity he likened the art of pastry to that of architecture and the Pâtissier to a master builder. His legacy can be found in the finest European pâtisseries and in the Carême range of traditional pastry.

I strongly urge you all to go out and buy a packet the Puff pastry is divine as well as the vanilla bean sweet shortcrust pastry in a 435gram packet please see website below.

Pain Au Chocolat – Chocolate Croissants

1 packet ready rolled butter puff pastry( I use Careme puff pastry )
100-gram dark chocolate - (use good quality chocolate eg: Plasitowe Nestle, Callebaut)
1 egg beaten


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Unfurl the sheet of pastry and then cut it into 6 squares.
Cut each square diagonally to give 2 triangles (they will appear quite small). Put the triangle with the wider part facing you and the point away from you.
Break off small pieces of chocolate (approx.1cm/half inch) to place about 2cm/3/4-inch up from the wide end nearest you.(see pic below).

Then carefully roll from that chocolate loaded end towards the point of the triangle.
You should now have something resembling a straight croissant, seal it slightly with your fingertips and curl it around into a crescent.
Place the chocolate croissants on a lined baking tray and paint with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and puffy and exuberantly, if miniature, croissant-like. (See pic below)

A really quick French treat which will have people begging you to make more is called "French Chocolate Bark", smooth dark chcolate with apricots, nuts and cranberries. The reason it is called French Bark is because in Paris the French scatter the fruit and nuts over the choclate rather than mixing it in.

Renee's Really Easy French Chocolate Bark

250 gram good quality dark chocolate -
Apricots - chopped
Cashews - salted for that amazing contrast with sweet and salty
Dried Cranberries- can use currants also or sultanas

Melt Chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water, stir till it melts.
Lay greaseproof paper on a tray and spread chocolate in a rectangle shape with a spatula  and then scatter fruits and nuts all over chocolate.
Set it aside and let it harden and once you are able to touch it (about 2 hours) cut it up and pass this treat around. Perfect for having with coffee after dessert.

Another really easy French treat to make is a Puff Pastry Fruit Galette. This is very french and usually eaten in the morning with a coffee in Paris.

French Fruit Galette

These galettes work with a variety of fruit, you could also use peaches, apples, pears or nectarines.

375g carême butter puff pastry
½ kilo apricots or ½ kilo cherries (fresh cherries can be substituted for good quality pitted morello cherries)
400g quark style cheese (if you cannot find quark then use cottage cheese)
pulp from half a vanilla bean
50g (or to taste) castor sugar
zest half lemon
1egg beaten
3 tbsp apricot jam for glazing

1. Pre heat oven to 200ºC.
2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Unroll pastry (do not attempt whilst still frozen this will cause the pastry to crack). Lightly flour the pastry and work surface. Gently roll out the pastry to give you approx an extra 4cm all round or to around 2mm thick.
3. Using a 10cm pastry cutter, cut out 8 discs and place on the baking tray, place this in the refrigerator while you prepare the topping.
4. Mix the cheese, vanilla bean pulp, castor sugar, lemon zest and egg together.
5. Prepare the fruit: halve and remove the stone from apricots, if large cut into quarters. Remove pip from cherries if using fresh.
6. Remove pastry from fridge and top each disc with 2 teaspoons of the gruth mixture leaving a 1cm border. Top each disc with either 5 pieces of apricot or approx. 5 – 8 cherries depending on size.
7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200ºC, reduce temperature to 170ºC and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
8. While the pastries are baking warm through the apricot jam either on the stove or in the microwave. If the jam is chunky pass through a sieve.
9. Remove pastries from the oven and glaze the fruit and pastry with apricot jam whilst still warm.(Galette pic below).

Fruit galettes can be served warm or cold, to re heat place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 160ºC.

Now as this blog is all about all things French, I wanted to include some of my favorite places as well. When you want to swept away by the Eiffel Tower or feel as though you are walking down the “Champs-Elysées “ then have a browse through some of my favorite Frenchy places below.

1. La Parisienne Pates

290 Lygon Street
Carlton VIC 3053

The first Frenchy place you have to visit is called “La Parisienne Pates” it is located in Carlton and as soon as you walk in the door you are jetted off to France. From their amazing meat / deli selections to their French mustards, jams and chocolate you just cannot walk out this store without buying something. For 10 years it was a small shop hidden down a laneway. With a new home, this French delicatessen is turning heads, Parisienne style. In Carlton's La Parisienne Pates restaurant, Australia’s only charcuterie, the smallgoods made by Stephane Langlois are sheer delight. There are game pies made from duck with rosemary jus, rabbit and prune, and venison with mushrooms.

My favourite items was Dijon mustard (below right )  in a gorgeous tin  and fruity French lollipops for $1

2. Le Petit Gateau
458 Little Collins St
Tel: 03 9944 8893

Le Petit Gâteau’s irresistible cakes and tarts are very indulgent and especially designed to impress the most discerning cake lover.. Conveniently located in the heart of the Melbourne CBD at 458 Little Collins Street at the rear of the stylish RACV Club, ideal for catering for inner-city businesses.

This is the place to go to impress or just to sit and have a coffee and indulgle in one of Pierrick Boyer’s many French inspired pastry creations.

Le Petit Gateau’s Head Pastry Chef, Pierrick Boyer (below), has a wealth of international experience, gained in many of the world’s most prestigious venues, and has worked alongside some of the most internationally renowned chefs including Alain Ducasse, Christophe Michalak, Pierre Marcolini and Stephane Leroux.(Amazing Pastry chefs).

Pierrick has received many awards for his outstanding creations and now you can waltz in down to Le Petiti Gateau and see just all of these mouth watering desserts.

The most popular cake sold at Le Petit Gateau is called the Brownie cake pictured below left and with the arrival of Bastille Day Pierrick and his Pastry team worked wonders and produced these babies on the right , "Blue, White & Red macaron Parisien, filled with vanilla butter cream and home made soft raspberry jam"...yum!
Check out

Ok so now I am heading towards the French restaurant scene where you and your loved one (mon ami) or your friends and family can go and indulge in a fancy French restaurant and you don’t even need to leave Melbourne.

Aux Batifolles - French Brasserie
400 Nicholson St
Fitzroy North 3068 VIC

Batifoler means 'to romp or to lark about; to flirt'- appropriate descriptors of this cheerful suburban bistro. Quality, well-priced Gallic classics are prepared and served by an all-French staff, encouraging diners to pull out their dodgy high school French in order to completely capture the French experience. The dishes have a predominantly hearty provincial flavour, with occasional Mediterranean notes from France's southern neighbours , Head Chef is Chef: Stephane Pettier among the other amazing Kitchen staff.

So when you are next in North Fitzroy check out this delightful  French foodie delight.


Libertine Dining
500 Victoria St, North Melbourne, VIC 3051

Libertine is owned and run by Nick Creswick and Zoë Ladyman, a young couple dedicated to their craft of providing not only a superb meal, but an indulgent service experience. They love classic and traditional French cuisine (pic of dessert below left)  and remain steadfast in their intentions to bring back an old-fashioned style of respectful and responsive service. Libertine proudly supports produce suppliers that are quality driven and strive to use the best game, seafood and vegetables available each season. The wines on offer in the restaurant form a small eclectic collection from around the world, always of exceptional quality at every price point, catering for those just starting their exploration of wine, as well as those wanting a very special or rare bottle.

Libertine opened September 2005 with immediate success and acclaim from both local diners and the press. The restaurant was renovated to open the first floor dining room October 2006.

Check out Libertine Dining experience at  and have a listen to the “oh so Frenchy” music .

Now before we end out French journey I wanted to let you all in on a love that I have had since I was a 2nd year apprentice. The love is my love for the “Roux Brothers” and their amazing, brillant pastry work.

The Roux Brothers are legends in the Patissere world and The name is a culinary legend. Michel with his older brother Albert arrived in England in 1971 to open the original Le Gavroche Restaurant in Lower Sloane Street. The address was imprinted immediately onto the gourmets and gourmands across the country. By 1972 when they opened The Waterside Inn, they had another 3 restaurants in London, each a landmark in a city not then known for fine dining. Between them they have trained over 800 young chefs many of whom are now also legendary. Since 1984 the Roux Scholarship is undoubtedly considered the ultimate British competition for chefs.

If you are like me and are remotely passionate about cooking/ pastry and bread making etc then you must get a copy of “The Roux Brothers on Patissere” ..outstanding book and every recipe is spot on and will lead you to a perfect dish.

For more information on “The Roux Fmaily” check out

As promised here is my local business for the week ,one local business that I am loving and hope that you all try and venture out is called “Pope Joan café” in East Brunswick.  I am loving the fact that around the corner from my sisters house  there is a groovy café that serves amazing meals ..simple but delicious.

Pope Joan cafe is a new venture between Ben Foster (long-serving general manager of North Carlton's Kent Hotel and husband of The Age restaurant critic Larissa Dubecki) and Matthew Wilkinson (executive chef of Circa, the Prince).
Located at 77 – 79 Nicholson street East Brunswick , Pope Joan finally opened it’s doors on the 2nd of July 2010 by owners Ben Foster and Matt Wilkinson. Pope Joan is  open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and hope to be opening for dinner mid week soon. A small selection of local beverages of the alcoholic variety are now also available.

'We are hoping to achieve a fresh and eclectic take on a modern cafe. The premises will (hopefully) be licensed and seat around 60 people. Matt's approach to the food will be about making the most of whats on offer, produce driven and certainly drawing on his British heritage and Circa experience. The aim is to create a cafe which is relaxed yet service oriented with a unique take on your standard cafe fare. We'll try to use sustainable, seasonal food sourced locally, with a small Victorian wine and beer list.” Ben Foster”.

So go for a Sunday stroll and get a bite and support your local business, check out

Next blog I will be devising a 3 course restaurant quality menu for you all to try and it will be so simple you will be rushing to put your aprons on.

Until next time…………Happy Cooking or  "Bon Apetit"  !!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Supporting Local Business Owners !!!

Since starting Laughing Chef ..(technically it was started last December with the launch of the Laughing Chef Christmas treats), I have been on the look out for  business owners. I have found myself walking  into local Organic stores and chatting  to the owners about where and how they started, I always leave feeling like I am part of a club now the “small business owners club” and it is a great feeling.

So in saying that I have listed some amazing business'  and each blog I will include some more local business’ to look out for.

The first business I came across mainly because it is where I received my Remedial massages from and was referred by a friend is called Synergy massage located in Reservoir Victoria. Owned and Operated by Melanie Creek , this is one business lady that deserves to be known.

Melanie is a master at her craft and knows exactly what she is doing and offers all clients a professional and warm yet friendly manner.

I remember the first time I went to get a Remedial Massage and met Melanie and wasn’t sure how good the massage was going to be ( I was a sceptic and still hadn’t had a great remedial massage that made me ohh with “you got the spot”) . However one hour of Melanie working her magic on my back and I can seriously say I have never looked back !!. You can really tell Melanie absolutely loves what she does and this shows as sometimes she can be booked out for weeks so get in quick.

Synergy massage offer therapies, treatments and classes for the mind, body, soul and skin, clients have all of their health and beauty needs met under one roof in a quiet and tranquil setting. Synergy Massage is dedicated to providing all clients with a high standard of professional service, ethics and quality treatment.

Open 4 Days. Closed Sunday, Monday & Tuesday .

Do yourself a favour and get pampered or better yet get a voucher for a friend they will seriously love you for it.

Click on the link to read more about the product and services offered -

The next local business I came across is called Elgaar Farm Dairy. I actually came across this last November as I was desperately looking for Milk in a glass bottle. (Remember the days when the horse and carriage would clop around delivering milk …ooops showing my age ).

Established in 1986, Elgaar Farm  are now recognised as one of Australia’s foremost organic dairy companies.

Situated in the valleys of Tasmania's fertile north, their care for the earth is all part of our philosophy of supplying the freshest, tastiest and healthiest food available. Elgaar Farm’s range includes fresh organic milk (packaged in returnable glass bottles), natural yoghurt, cream, cheese and butter.

Elgaar Farm firmly believe that organic farming principles not only take care of the environment, but also produce healthier and tastier food. Skills of true natural farming, with no need for artificial inputs of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals are highly valued on Elgaar Farm. Elgaar Farm products are manufactured using only time honoured methods using only the absolute freshest and best ingredients.

The difference with Elgaar Dairies products is that the they include the packaging in the price in the form of a deposit. This means that once you have finished the product, you can simply return the bottle or jar to the place of purchase, and get 20c or 40c cash back! We then wash, sterilise and refill the bottles and jars our customers return. Each bottle and jar averages nine "cycles". Amazing!

Not only do you not pay for something that you would only dispose of, but you end up with a better tasting product, and also help reduce packaging waste.

The deposit for Elgaar Dairies glass containers is 20c for jars and 40c for bottles (milk).

Among the various products one of my favourites is the Elgaar Milk(pic right) which is as fresh and pure as milk can be. Freshly milked every morning, pasteurized, chilled and packaged in glass bottles and hastily sent on its way to you. Elgaar Farm milk is not homogenised, which means that our with full cream milk the cream will rise naturally to the top.

So next time you go to your local supermarket or Organic Store keep an eye out for Elgaar Farm.

Ok the last business I will talk about before including a delicious recipe for you is called DTU Management . DTU Management and Victoria University have combined to create the International Sport Education Program providing students and athletes from around the world the opportunity to study and experience culture in Australia whilst training under the guidance of internationally acclaimed sports coaches which is called ISEP - International Student Education Program.

I caught up with the man behind it all Daniel Trenton (3rd from left) who won the Silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in Taekwondo, was appointed Taekwondo Head Coach for the 2004 Athens Olympics and is now currently running DTU Management - ISEP with the involvement of Victoria University.

Now being a Red Belt in Taekwondo myself I was intrigued at the business concept and chatted  with Daniel Trenton before he jetted off to China for DTU -ISEP business to find out exactly what ISEP was all about.

Daniel advised me that ISEP was about Providing supreme quality, guidance, and support as we offer students and athletes from around the world the best in sport specific education and athletic direction. Students will have a unique opportunity to realise their academic, career and sporting dreams.

ISEP sports specific pathway program caters for Taekwondo students worldwide, including applicants from Korea, Australia, Taiwan, China and many more.

Daniel added that “ Victoria University has expert lecturers and coaches providing the cutting edge of sports education and training for Taekwondo students-athletes. Students will gain access to high performance preparation and coaching in an intensive daily training environment in the lead up to events run by the NSO, University Games and ISEP.”

The comprehensive athletic and education program caters for students from all parts of globe. There have been over 50 Taekwondo students enter the program originating from Korea and Australia with increasing applications from Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil and Oceania Countries.

Ending our meeting Daniel mentioned that, “The objective of ISEP is to provide access to the high quality courses that specializes in sports education, training and competition. The course develops students to become effective elite international coaches, efficient and organized sports administrators, successful entrepreneurs and elite sports athletes”

So ISEP delivers a balanced program of education within one of Australia’s leading University’s, training in an intensive daily training environment, and competitions amongst world leading athletes in Olympic style Taekwondo, Poomsae(patterns) and Demonstration.

I mean it cannot get any better than dealing with an Olympic athlete’s and the way Daniel Trenton (pic below) speaks highly of the sport, the people it is a given this business is going only up and beyond. Daniel's  Taekwondo training methods are proven for success. You can instantly see the passion when Trenton speaks and this is evident as his business is only getting stronger.

For information on DTU- ISEP click on the link below.

So you all know that Bastille Day is coming up this Wednesday …I love Bastille day. Actually it reminds me of cooking all day start shift at 8am till 12am and cooking a French feast including pain au chocolat, Brioche, Beef bourguignon and of course the amazing Soufflé.

Next blog I will not only be adding local business’ to check out but it will all about Bastille day and everything French. There will be recipes, French restaurants to check out as well some yummy things I have whipped up!!

So until next time Happy Baking from Laughing Chef !

I will leave you with this recipe it is called a “Tarte au Tantin” I learnt this recipe when I was a 3rd apprentice and loved it then and still do. So easy to make I promise so make it for a pre Bastille day dessert 


Tarte tatin is an absolute classic, created in 1889 at a French hotel run by the sisters Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. This spectacular upside-down tart is rumoured to have been created accidentally by Caroline when she was making an apple pie. Finding that the pan of apples cooking in butter and sugar were beginning to burn, she quickly covered them with pastry and placed the whole thing in the oven. Turning it out once the pasty was cooked, she found to her surprise that the tart was a huge success with the guests. It then became the signature dish of the hotel. Tarte tatin can be made with other fruits such as pears but I love Apple served with Double Crème.


 1 x quantity puff pastry

 4 eating apples (Granny Smith is very good or Golden Delicious you will need about 6 apples)

 125g caster sugar

 100ml water

 25g butter

 1 egg, beaten

 Whipped cream, ice cream or whipped cream with a little icing sugar and cinnamon or Calvados, to serve

1. Make the pastry and allow to chill.

2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC

3. To prepare the apples, peel them with a peeler to keep them in a nice rounded shape, then cut into quarters. Remove the core from each quarter and set aside. Don’t worry if they go brown, and don’t cover in water or they will be too wet.

4. Place the sugar and water in an ovenproof saucepan (20–22cm/8–81/2in diameter ovenproof saucepan) set over a low-medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil the syrup until it starts to caramelise around the edges - about 5 minutes. Do not stir once it has come to the boil otherwise the syrup will crystallise. Once the syrup starts to turn golden, you may need to swirl the pan slightly to even out the caramelisation.

5. Once the syrup is a golden caramel in colour, add the butter and swirl the pan again to distribute it through the caramel.

6. Remove the pan from the heat, and place the apple quarters in a concentric circle around the outside and any remaining pieces in the centre, keeping in mind that the tart will be flipped over when serving. The apples must completely cover the base of the pan; you may need an extra apple!

7. Place the pan back over a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes to slightly caramelise the apples, while you roll out the pastry.

8. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to a round about 2cm (3/4 in) wider in diameter than the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and place the pastry on top of the almost cooked apples. Using the base of a spoon or a fork, tuck the pastry in around the edges of the apples. Brush the pastry with beaten egg then, using a skewer or fork, prick a few holes in the pastry.

9. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the apples feel cooked when you insert a skewer through the centre.

10. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for just a few minutes before placing a plate on top of the pan and carefully (it is hot!) but quickly flipping it out. Use a plate with a slight lip to catch the delicious juices. Cut into slices to serve. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or whipped cream with a little icing sugar and cinnamon or Calvados mixed in.