Friday, July 22, 2011

A sponge by any other name would still taste as sweet

The Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as sponge cake, though it contains additional fat. A traditional Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream, just jam is referred to as a 'jam sponge' and most certainly not a Victoria sponge. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated.

A typical sponge cake is made by beating the eggs with sugar until they are light and creamy, then carefully sieving and folding in the flour (depending on the recipe, the flour may be mixed with a small amount of baking powder, though some recipes use only the air incorporated into the egg mixture, relying on the denaturing of the egg proteins and the thermal expansion of the air to provide leavening). Sometimes, the yolks are beaten with the sugar first while the whites are beaten separately to a meringue-like foam, to be gently folded in later. The mixture is then poured into the chosen cake tin and baked. Both methods take great care to incorporate air in the beating, whisking and sieving stages. This makes a very light product, but it is easy to lose the air by removing the cake before it has finished in the oven.

There are some tricks to making a sponge however and they are below for you.

) Mix the butter with the eggs thoroughly – they should be pale and fluffy, this could take 5 mins or more, even when using a mixer.
2) Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature, it is important to check your oven with a thermometer to be sure it is at the correct temperature as this can effect the rising of the cake.
3) Use eggs & butter at room temperature
4) Use a metal spoon to fold the sifted flour into the eggs, as this cuts through the mixture better.
5) Don't for whatever reason open the oven door till at least ¾ through the cooking time, as the cold air entering the oven will change the temperature and effect the cake from rising.
7) If the mixture is curdling when you are adding the eggs, add a tablespoon of flour. The cake will still taste just the same, but it may have a slightly denser texture.
8) Be gentle with the cake, using a light but quick hand when beating as this will help keep the bubbles in the cake which means it will rise better in the oven.
9) Leave the cake in its baking pan/tin for about 5 mins when you first take it out of the oven before turning it out onto a wire rack.


Ingredients (serves 6)

• 1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
• 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
• 1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
• 4 x  eggs, at room temperature
• 2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar


1. Grease 2 x deep, 20cm round cake tins (or different tins, as directed in individual recipes) and line bases with baking paper. Sift flours and 1/4 tsp salt together three times to aerate.

2. Preheat oven to 180C. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume.

3. Gradually sift flour mixture over egg mixture while simultaneously folding in with a large metal spoon until just combined. Divide mixture between prepared tins. To level batter, gently spin tins on kitchen counter. Bake for 20 minutes (or as directed in individual recipes), or until cakes have shrunk away from the sides slightly and spring back when gently touched.

4. Turn out on to baking paper-lined wire racks. Carefully peel away baking paper, then leave to cool.

Stablized Cream (Thick sweet cream)

Ever added thickened cream to a cake and then found once you retrieved it from the fridge the cream had gone runny well fear no more. Stablized cream is delicious and so easy to make it is basically an easy thickened custard mixture with cornflour and then pouring that mixtrure slowly into whipped cream…one word….DIVINE.
Many people have reported that this recipes has saved their lives!

I made a Vanilla Sponge with lashings of thick whipped cream and strawberries for my cousin's fiance, Maria. Maria had trouble trying to locate a bakery in Melbourne  that made a Vanilla Sponge  cake with Whipped cream and sliced strawberries so I was so wrapt to learn that it reminded her of her childhood and was even more wrapt when I made it for her and she then sent me this picture of her looking "cake happy" on her special day. Happy Birthday Maria !!!

How to make Stablizied Whipped Cream

For 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, use 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of corn flour and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Refrigerate the mixing bowl and (preferably whisk) beater for at least 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan place the powdered sugar and cornflour and gradually stir in 1/4 cup of the cream.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and simmer for just a few seconds (until the liquid is thickened).

Scrape into a small bowl and cool completely to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract (Now this right here is the quickest custard you have ever tasted).

Beat the remaining 3/4 cup cream just until traces of beater marks begin to show distinctly.

Add the cooled cornflour mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly. Beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Then spread on layers of your cooled sponge cake.


Andrew McConnell’s first solo venture, Golden Fields, opened in St Kilda in May 2011.

Modern Asian’ may be the take, but it could also simply be termed ‘Andrew McConnell’s food’, as the chef - who is executive chef (and co-owner of Cumulus Inc. and Cutler & Co.) has drawn broadly from Asian cuisines mixed with his own heritage and training to produce a new version of his own fingerprint.

Sea urchin and crisp lardo on flatbread (above); pork dumplings, fat with steamed dough reminiscent of steamed pork buns; a hot buttered roll filled with crayfish and Kewpi mayonnaise lead the way to poached chicken with sesame paste, housemade rice noodles and chilli and beef brisket with wasabi butter and garlic shoots.

Golden Fields
157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
(03) 9525 4488

Café vue at Heide

Café Vue at Heide offers a diverse range of delicious and affordable meals. Boasting a menu that comprises dishes suited to a casual lunch with friends from the amazing and talented Shannon Bennet (Below on left )who currently owns Vue De Monde.

The menu is diverse and offers a range for adults and children with a “Vue de Monde” twist.


Andrew mcconnell

Andrew McConnell is an artistic chef, the kind who prides the creativity of his craft and the diversity of influences in his culinary environment. Perhaps there’s no better location for him, professionally speaking, than his native Melbourne. McConnell was born and raised in the city and he’s worked his way through some of its many kitchens.

Three, One, Two., his previous restaurant, was named 2007 Best New Restaurant according to both Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine and The Age Good Food Guide. Andrew was honoured as ‘Chef of the Year’ by The Age Good Food Guide 2007. Andrew was awarded ‘Chef of the Year’ for the second time in the 2010 guide.

Andrew was Executive Chef at Circa, the Prince from 2004 to 2008. At the same time, he was Executive Chef and co-owner of Mrs Jones, a bistro on the site of what became Three, One, Two. Andrew’s first independent venture was diningroom 211. He was awarded two hats in The Age Good Food Guide in every year of its operation. Andrew shared the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ prize with his brother Matthew, in 2002.

Andrew McConnell has worked abroad, in Europe and China, feasting his professional curiosity on the grand and varied traditions that inform global cuisine. But throughout his culinary journey, McConnell’s own developing style has exhibited a purity of focus as well as a deft hand at juxtaposing simple elements – the great local products grown and bred on his native land – in powerful ways.

Andrew is currently running Golden fields and owns Cumulus Inc and Cutler and Co.

Shane Delia

Opening his first restaurant MAHA , in February 2008, is a testament to his heritage and passion. Shane has excited diners with his fresh Mediterranean approach to Middle Eastern cuisine.

Shane prides himself on his original culinary style that stems from the eclectic influences that have surrounded him both personally and professionally.
Shane grew up in a large Maltese family where food was more than just a meal, it was a chance for them to gather around a shared meal table and eat with the comfort and history shared by his family.

Shane Delia currently runs and operates Maha Bar and Grill and St Katherines with George Colombaris.

A good friend of mine left Melbourne for Adelaide -- farewell Matt Kelly and his partner Fraser McEachern.
Matt Kelly has set his horizons on opening his new business called Amity Apparel. It is a Online destination for resort and beach wear.  When you get a minute check out
I wish you all the best Matt I miss you !!!

Until next time go treat yourself by whipping up a sponge. Next blog will be about making fresh dips such as Avocado and chilli, Smoked Eggplant and lime & Garlic Bean Dip. Oh and there will be a very easy recipe on the popular Pretzel yes  "these pretzels are making me thirsty"!!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baby it's cold outside!

As it is rather chilly these days I have gathered some new and fabulous places to visit this winter.Ok so let's get started.

The first place to go and visit  is Geoff Lindsay’s new love “Dandelion”. Geoff Lindsay owned and operated Pearl restaurant and Pearl Cafe in Richmond and its catering business were sold to entrepreneur Chris Lucas in October last year.

Geoff Lindsay took some time out after he sold Pearl  to refocus and after six months of hard work and planning has made an inspired return with the much-anticipated opening of Dandelion in Ormond Road Elwood.

Geoff Lindsay is the man behind one of Melbourne's finest and was named Chef of the Year 2005 by "The Age Good Food Guide".

Dandelion showcases Vietnamese Cuisine.. A rich and diverse cuisine that exhibits a wonderfully intoxicating combination of the raw and the cooked, the hot and the cold, the sweet and sour. Light, fresh and healthy, dishes to be savoured and dishes to be shared

Sizzling coconut pancake with crab and BBQ pork and bean sprouts (below)

Now the next palce to venture to see and gasp at has to be “Burch and Purchese” located in South Yarra.

 You may have seen the amazing desert that was recreated on Masterchef last season.(below right ) Unbelievable stuff!

The Studio is a multi sensory retail space specialising in sweet creations perfect for spontaneous indulgent moments through to that very special dessert extravaganza.

Formally from the UK, pastry chef co-owners Burch & Purchese (below ) have built a reputation worldwide for their dessert wizardry; they fuse science with sweetness to create an exciting array of delicious tastes and textures.

Walking into Sweet Studio is unlike anywhere else you've been, a place where you can always expect the unexpected. You may find edible bubbles, a chocolate flower garden, a half chocolate and half jam spread, exaggerated raspberries or rich smoked chocolate, not to mention a magnificent selection of seasonal individual desserts or larger cakes all designed to take home for that special night in.

B&P’s signature cakes are things to behold. No, these ain’t your normal sponge cake with cream . Expect the likes of a raspberry, lychee, white chocolate and Champagne cake, or maybe a chocolate, mandarin and Murray River salted caramel creation, featuring high-reaching ingredients like St Clements marmalade and aerated chocolate shortbread.

Burch & Purchese is less of a store and more like “Heston Blumenthal” meets  the sweets paradise in the Willy Wonka movies… so hold your breath, make a wish, and count to three....................come with me or go and see this place for yourself.

Where: 647 Chapel St, South Yarra

Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6.30pm

Phone: (03) 9827 7060 (03) 9827 7060



* Melbourne Chef Philippa Sibley, who has a new book and a new gig to celebrate. Sibley will join two veterans of the hospitality industry, Stuart Brookshaw and Ruth Giffney, at a new Brunswick venture later this year as executive chef. Although best known as a desserts specialist (the subject of her forthcoming book, PS Desserts), Sibley will be across all aspects of food at Albert St Food & Wine when it opens in November. I cannot wait for this one. (You may be familiar with Phillipa’s cookies, bisects and breads).
The Brunswick venture will be a bar, restaurant, cafe and produce store.

* Rumi's (Lygon street Brunswick) Joseph Abboud (below) had a cult following for his Lebanese pizzas at next-door bar The Alderman.

 Soon you'll be able to find them again at his new Thornbury pizzeria, “The Moor's Head”, in a warehouse behind High Street. YAY!

The Moor's Head (named for the head of the arak still) will have a simple menu of pizza, salads and antipasti.

Traditionally eaten as a breakfast or lunch snack in the Middle East, they will be bumped up in size. Aboud hopes to open in a couple of months.


Philippa Sibley

She has been described as ‘legendary’ and a ‘pastry maestro’. Fittingly, Philippa Sibley has earned a reputation as one of the country’s finest dessert and pastry chefs.

Although Philippa’s passion for pastry emerged early on, it was during a stint in England and France that her fate was sealed. Having secured positions at the renowned Le Gavroche, Est, Quaglino’s and Harvey’s in London, Philippa was then appointed Chef de Partie at France’s three-starred La Cote Saint Jacques restaurant.

After arriving back on Australian soil in 1996, it wasn’t long before Philippa had opened the acclaimed est est est restaurant in Melbourne. Luxe followed in 1998, before Philippa moved to Ondine in 2001.

All three restaurants collected three hats in The Age Good Food Guide, and est est est and Ondine the coveted Best New Restaurant award. It was for her work at Ondine that earnt Philippa The Age Good Food Guide Chef of the Year Award 2004.

Philippa was appointed Head Pastry Chef at Circa, The Prince, in 2005. In 2009, after three years impressing critics and Circa patrons alike, Philippa took the reins at Bistro Guillaume, where her creations were described as ‘timeless things of beauty’.

Check out her website now ….


As the winter chill is definitely setting in how about whipping up a Croque Monsieur one night is Easy, delicious so much fancier than a toasted sandwich. This is dedicated to my girlfriend Lara.

A croque-monsieur is a hot ham and cheese (gruyere cheese ) grilled sandwich. It originated in France as a fast-food snack served in cafés.

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich Recipe


• 2 Tbsp butter
• 2 Tbsp flour
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
• 4 slices Gruyère or swiss cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
• 2 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
• 4 slices of champagne ham, sliced
• Dijon mustard


1 Preheat oven to 200 c.

2 Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.

3 Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want.

4 Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.

5 Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on tray .Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the griller and grill  for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.  :)

A BIG Happy Birthday to my nephew Addison who turned 4 on the 20th June. Addison asked me if I could make his cake.(I recall his mother asking me). Addison wanted a Batman cake.

Next blog is all  Scones, some  recipe's about all that is sponge, knowing the art of making great pastry cream and all things afternoon tea .  

Until next time get in the kitchen and cook !!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tools of the Trade.

Easter came and went quick was that.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and got your year full of chocolate in. I recieved 2 huge Milk chocolate Lindt bunnines as a true fan to the chocolate I had to eat it. But to be honest I only ate the ears which are the best as they are so thick...yum. However  I found a "Humpty Dumpty" Chocolate egg (below ) you can judge by the photo what happened to it.

Other than the chocolate I inspired some people to "bake" their own hot cross buns which was fantastic. One lady said to me "Yeast always scares me, as soon as I read 'yeast' and 'prove' in a recipe I don't bother". So with an easy recipe from me she made the yummiest Hot cross buns. Well Done !

I even make these  buns with  diffrent spices and add chocolate, currants and cranberries and have these for a winter treat. Check out the full recipe on the Laughing Chef facebook page -If you are not a member just go the Laughingchef page in Facebook and "like" it to view recipes  -!/topic.php?uid=114932292338&topic=15058

So as promised I advised I would be writing about Cookery Knives...Now before I start there are so many knives to choose from ..brands, price,size, and the type of knife you are after. I will set out a few brands I have come across and the knives that MUST be in your kitchen.

The first brand I would recommend is GLOBAL knives.
Compared to conventional European knives such as J. A. Henckels or Wusthof, Global knives are made from a significantly harder alloy of steel and are ground to a narrower angle. This produces an extremely sharp knife which keeps its edge longer and allows for more accurate work, but takes longer to sharpen when it becomes dull. Because of this, the manufacturer recommends using whetstones and ceramic sharpening rods as opposed to the European sharpening steel. In addition, Global knives are renowned for their surprisingly light weight and even balance, a trait achieved by hollowing out the handle during production.

The next brand is WÜSTHOF Trident , precision forged knives are goods of only the highest quality. Painstakingly manufactured these knives are pure fun to work with and will turn even the preparation of a dish into a culinary pleasure.

Each one of the WÜSTHOF knife series has a different ergonomic handle design which offers a comfortable feeling for all different likings.

My very first knife was a Mundial Knife however after using a Trident Cooks knife I didn't look back. I went out and purchased my own 26 cm Cooks knife; which I used for all food preparation and used every day as a Chef. I purchased the Trident Cooks knife when I was a 2nd year apprenticeship and didn't look back. This cooks knife travelled throughout my cookery apprenticehship and I still have it today (my baby).

Some of the knives that I believe MUST be in your kitchen to make your cookery tasks easier are below.

* Cooks Knife - Used for all food prepartion * Pairing Knife- A paring knife has a short blade (2 to 4 inches) and a tip that can be either straight or that curves up to the point. This knife is good for peeling apples and other fruits or vegetables, mincing small items like shallots and garlic, or trimming herbs and scallions .

* Boning Knife - A boning knife is a type of kitchen knife with a sharp point and narrow blade. It is used in food preparation for removing the bones of poultry, meat, and fish.

* Bread Knife - Serrated knives are able to cut soft bread without crushing it; but can be used for cutting other items that are fragile or to be left in their original form. Such as slicing through tomatoes, meringue, nougat.

Well that's my  MUST have knife list for you and you can purchase these knives online or at Cookery speciality stores. I have listed some stores below.

With Mother's day upon us I hope you are all cooking a treat for the special ladies in your life ...I have thought a special treat would be "Laughing Chefs Lemon Melting Moments ". So easy to make and trust me the mother in your life will adore these melthing in your mouth treats.



•  125g unsalted butter
•  1/2 cup caster sugar
•  2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
•  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•  1/4 cup custard powder
• 3/4 cup plain flour
•  1/2 cup self-raising flour
•  filling (see Step 3)

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line base of a baking tray with baking paper. In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add yolks and vanilla. Mix well.
2. Sift together custard powder and flours and add to butter mixture. Combine well. Shape tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on tray and lightly flatten with a fork. Bake 12 min, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Sandwich together biscuits with a small amount of filling. Dust with icing sugar, to serve.
3. To make filling, place 40g softened butter into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon zest and juice of one whole lemon  and mix well, adding extra icing sugar, if needed if mixture is too runny.

St Katherine's
26 Cotham Road, Kew

Tel +61 (3) 9207 7477 +61 (3) 9207 7477

Shane Delia and George Calombaris are thrilled to be working together on a new restaurant, St Katherine's, which is scheduled to open in Kew in early 2011.

St Katherine's will be a bustling and varied venue; with a mezze and wine bar downstairs, slick cocktail lounge and an upstairs restaurant where Shane and George will come together to share all their favourite family style dishes.

Diners will note that while the cuisine and style differs, the hospitality is the same. Guests are welcomed into our venues with a feeling of warmth and excitement, by knowledgeable staff and will be treated to some of the best food in Melbourne.

St Katherine’s will embrace a contemporary sharing style menu, with a melding of Modern Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern cultures and food. Defined by its custom made Turkish grill and a wood fired oven, St Katherine’s guarantees a dining experience that is fresh, healthy and filled with flavoursome and affordable food that leaves you craving more.

Set to open in May 2011, there are front of house and chef positions now available check out SEEK for positions.


Laughing Chef would like to send a HUGE Happy 1st Birthday to Sofia Cabrera...seems like only yesterday you were born. Happy Birthday gorgeous.

The Mother's day Classic is on again this Sunday for a great cause ... So donate or even better get your shoes on and support a great cause

Next blog I will meeting up with fellow Chef/ foodie lover and owner of 'Toby's Estate' in Brunswick , Richard Pavlov. I will be talking to him about his new venture and all things Middle Eastern. So stay tuned for that.

Until next time.. Happy Mother's Day.... Keep on cooking !

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's getting "Chilli"

 As it is getting cooler and the nights are getting chilly I thought why not share some delicious chilli inspired recipes.
So sit back and get your note book to write notes or even better get an apron on and go and have a chilli cooking night with friends.

My first Chilli recipe is this amazing chilli chutney the great thing about this is you can serve it with a piece of grilled chiclen in a burger or with some pan seared fish or bottle it in cute little jars and give away as gifts….Love that.

Cheeky chilli-pepper chutney

If you want your chutney to last for a while, make sure you have some small sterilized jars .Place your chillies and peppers over a hot barbecue, in a griddle pan or on a tray under a hot grill, turning them now and then until blackened and blistered all over. Carefully lift the hot peppers and chillies into a bowl (the smaller chillies won’t take as long as the peppers so remove them first) and cover tightly with cling film. As they cool down, they’ll cook gently in their own steam. By the time they’re cool enough to handle, you’ll be able to peel the skin off easily.
When you’ve got rid of most of the skin, trimmed off the stalks and scooped out the seeds, you’ll be left with a pile of nice tasty peppers and chillies. Finely chop by hand or put in a food processor and whiz up. Then put to one side.
8-10 fresh red chillies

• 8 ripe red peppers
• olive oil
• 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• 2 fresh bay leaves
• a 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 100g brown sugar
150ml balsamic vinegar

MethodHeat a saucepan and pour in a splash of olive oil. Add the onions, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook very slowly for about 20 minutes or so, until the onions become rich, golden and sticky.

Add the chopped peppers and chillies, the sugar and the vinegar to the onions and keep cooking. When the liquid reduces and you’re left with a lovely thick sticky chutney, season well to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves. Either spoon into the sterilized jars and put them in a cool dark place, or keep in the fridge and use right away. In sterilized jars, the chutney should keep for a couple of months.

For a quick and easy recipe that can be served on a platter for a dinner party or even just for one for dinner try this amazing Thai chicken recipe.

Thai-style grilled chicken (Gai yang)

Serves 8

2 tbsp finely chopped ginger (about 20gm)
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander root (about 2)
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
2 kg small chicken drumsticks
250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp white sugar

Sweet chilli sauce
80 gm white sugar
50 ml white vinegar
4 long red chillies, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Pound ginger, coriander root, garlic and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle, or process in a small food processor, until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, mix well to coat chicken, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2 For sweet chilli sauce, combine sugar, vinegar and 125ml water in a saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the simmer, add chilli and garlic, cook until syrupy (5-6 minutes). Season to taste with salt, cook for another minute, cool slightly, process in a food processor until smooth. Cool.

3 Preheat a char-grill or barbecue to low heat. Remove chicken from marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until cooked through (10-15 minutes). Serve hot with sweet chilli sauce.

The recipe below  does have Tortillas in it and for those ( like myself) that are intersted in making their very own Tortialla please follow the recipe below and I have added a YOU tube clip on the cooking of a Tortilla.

Fried egg, avocado and chilli Tortillas

80 ml (1/3 cup) canola oil
16 eggs
1 quantity tortillas (recipe below)
4 ripe avocados, sliced
1 cup (firmly packed) coriander, coarsely torn
6 spring onions (green part only), finely chopped
8 small red chillies, finely chopped

To serve: hot sauce and quartered limes

Optional: crumbled feta, crushed fried pork rind (chicharrón), crushed peanuts, chopped kimchi(japanese dried plum), slivers of fried chorizo, sautéed prawns, sliced pickled shallot

1 Heat 20ml oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 eggs, fry until cooked to your liking (2-2½ minutes for soft yolk), season to taste, set aside and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and eggs.

2 Place eggs on tortillas, top with avocado, coriander, spring onion and chilli and enjoy.

How To Make a Tortillas

A really good soft tortilla, any purist will tell you, is made from corn which has been boiled and steeped in a solution of lime (calcium hydroxide, that is, not the citrus) to loosen the skin, washed and then ground to form a dough known as masa.

It’s very much worth making your own, because it’s dead easy, and because there’s a world of difference between a freshly made tortilla and the sort you buy in shops. A fresh tortilla needs only some fried eggs, hot sauce, avocado, spring onion, chilli and lime to make a meal, but also provides the perfect vessel for barbecued seafood, thinly sliced steak, or slow-cooked pork, greens, or whatever else your stomach desires.

The keys to tortilla perfection are getting the consistency of your dough right, then letting it sit, cooking it right and, crucially, letting the tortillas steam, wrapped in a towel, in their own heat at the table.

Tortilla making :


Serves 16
Cooking Time Prep time 20 mins, cook 15 mins (plus resting)

360 gm (2 cups) masa flour (see note)

1 Place flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt, then add 250ml warm water.

2 Mix with your hands to a soft pliable dough (2 minutes), adding more water or flour if necessary.

3 Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and rest for at least 20 minutes.

4 Divide dough into 16 and roll each piece into a ball.

5 Line a tortilla press (see note) with two squares of baking paper, cut to fit.

6 Working with one ball at a time, press gently but firmly in press to form a thin disc, then set aside on paper.

7 Heat a dry comal or pan over medium-high heat, peel baking paper from tortilla (be careful, it’s fragile) and cook tortilla, turning twice, until lightly browned (30 seconds on each side). Repeat with remaining tortillas.

8 Stack cooked tortillas in a basket lined with a tea towel as you go and rest to steam gently and soften slightly (3 minutes).

Note :Masa flour is available from Asian and other select grocers and The Essential Ingredient located in Prahran Market. Tortilla presses and comal griddles are available online from Monterey Mexican Foods

Something Sweet

Churro pastry is choux pastry without the eggs, with oil in place of butter. When you’re making this type of pastry, there’s a fine line between superb and mediocre.

The difference between the Spanish Churro and the Mexican Churro is that the Mexican Churro are piped with a flat piping nozzle as opposed to the ridge effect and the Mexican churro are usually eaten with a hot chocolate for breakfast.

Either way they both sound great to me.

Churros with Chilli Chocolate

Serves 6
325 gm plain flour
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
For deep-frying: vegetable oil
2 tspns Cayenne Pepper

250 grams Dark Chocolate

For dusting:
caster sugar

1 Sift flour and a pinch of salt into a heatproof bowl.

2 Combine oil and 450ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Pour over flour and beat quickly with a wooden spoon to combine.

3 Transfer mixture to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until a very smooth dough forms (2-3 minutes). If you do not have an electric mixer mixer works just as well with a wooden spoon but put some muscle into it.

4 Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a 2cm star nozzle and push down to remove any air bubbles in bag. Refrigerate to rest and chill (30 minutes).

5 Heat oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided frying pan to 180C. Pipe long lengths of mixture (about 15-20cm) into hot oil, creating a swirl, and cut with scissors. Be careful as oil is hot and may spit.

6 Fry churros in batches, turning occasionally with a spider, until golden (3-5 minutes), then remove with a spider and drain on absorbent paper. Toss in a bowl with caster sugar, shaking off excess,.

In a separate  bowl melt Dark chocolate and once chococolate is melted add Cayenne pepper and stir till mixed in . Go to a secluded spot in your home and dip each soft warm Churro into the chilli chocolate and devour!!!

Laughing Chef’s Favourite local business’ of the week

Now I have already written about both of these business' before but I cannot stress enough how great they. So when you get a minute go and visit them...

Jackson Dodds

611 Gilbert Rd, West Preston (at the end of the Gilbert Road tramstop)
Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm
9471 1900

My favoiurite place this week is Jackson Dodds. Jackson Dodds is the new venture from "Small Block" alumni Cameron Willis and his wife Jackie. Initially anxious there would be no demand in West Preston for the kind of café that serves organic OJ and dukkah eggs, the pair have found the locals keen. Cameron makes a mean soy Chai Latte.
Go and check out Jackson Dodds...the Ricotta Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Bacon are to "die for", )pic below)

Pope Joan Cafe

79 Nicholson St, East Brunswick
Daily 7am-4pm
9388 8858

I love Pope Joan is it  the fact that you know the food is going to be great or even the coffee for that matter  or is because of the cute porcelain items on every table. Whatever your reason for visiting Pope Joan  Ben Foster and former Circa chef Matt Wilkinson won't judge you. The menu at Pope Joan uses whatever fresh produce and is reasonable priced. Right now that involves doing all sorts of delicious things with eggs and makes a creamy just right Latte.
An array of sweets including "Chocolate Brownie with berry compote" and "Mandarin and Poppyseed Cake" (pic below).
I was advised the Menu and specials can and will change depending on what is in season..gotta love that.

Next blog will be about knives and what to buy and what are essentially the best...and EASTER stuff... Until then keep on Cooking !!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chef Super Star !!

To be a an amazing chef these days is somewhat of a “super star” and after doing that apprenticeship so it should be. I have had the opportunity to met and work with some of the most talented and amazing chefs the others I admire I have admired from a distance.

I met Adrian Richardson (left)  in 1997 when I was a 3rd year apprentice chef and he came into the kitchen as my Head Chef  Emm Millar went to a trip to Paris to learn about bread. As an apprentice I pretty much did what I was told and kept my work area clean. The day Adrian arrived I remember he always had a smile on his face and went on a tour with my Head Chef. I worked mainly dinner shifts with Adrian and what I can remember is that he has the ability to “not stress” , there was an incident where the restaurant had a full house and a waiter said to him ‘how long Chef” Adrian replied “Give them a couple of magazine’ and he chuckled. I absolutely loved that as it gave me the ability to cook and not stress out even more than I was, but to take pride in what I was  doing.

Adrian gave me full responsibility on creating a dessert (which is the best moment as an apprentice) so I created the Passionfruit Mousse from the Christine Mansfield cookbook. It was a passionfruit jelly on the bottom and creamy passionfruit  mousse on top and then the end result was turning it out so the jelly was on top like a dome. However my jelly didn’t set and Adrian walked over to inspect he said “Ohhh what happened it didn’t work” he then proceeded to taste my mousse and he said “Now that tastes great just keep them in the glasses and serve them like that”. This experience made me realise how great a chef he was how he saw the good in the bad really and that he was  constantly on your side .

Adrian Richardson then went went on to open La Luna Bistro in Rathdowne street Carlton and I went several times to say hello and breakfast was a favourite with the girls (Lara,Daniela, Nadia & Uyen). I continued to rave about the palce to everyone how great the food was the service and more importantly the chef.
Since the opening Adrian has redecorated La Luna and has shared his passion for meat through his acclaimed book "MEAT" (below left) published by Hardie Grant which was nominated for the best designed cookbook at the Australian Publishers Assoc Design Awards for 2008 and was included in Melbourne's Herald Sun "Best Books of 2008" feature. MEAT was given a face-lift and re-released in September 2009 and Adrian's second book is due out March 2011.

Adrian Richardson is in his element at the moment, after 11 successful years of owning and operating his Award Winning La Luna Bistro, a new book launched in late 2008, co-hosting the hit series “Boys Weekend”, which now airs in over 100 countries worldwide, and finishing his first solo TV series “Secret Meat Business”, he is having the time of his life. Adrian also appeared in a Guest Chef Challenge and Finale episodes of the extraordinarily successful series “Master Chef Australia”. In addition to Adrian's other TV credits, he is also a regular guest on Channel Ten's “9am with David & Kim” and was a regular Chef on Ten's hit TV series “Ready Steady Cook”, for the first three seasons. In 2006 he appeared alongside Tobie Puttock in “Jamie's Kitchen Australia”. Adrian's restaurant La Luna Bistro, even received a personal endorsement from Jamie Oliver himself in front of a live audience of 6000 people, in Melbourne during Jamie's live tour (Sept 2006). Adrian can now be seen on “Good Chef Bad Chef” channel 10.

This is one Chef that deserves the “super star” label and so much more!!! Good on you Adrian!

Go check out La Luna amazing food and the crème Brulee as my brother in law would say “is the best”.

Adriano Zumbo is hitting the “super star” level with his new tv series on ABC ; pastries and desserts that are out of this world. This country boy’s first taste of the sweet life was raiding the lollies and cake mix from his parent’s Coonamble supermarket. In his pursuit of mastering the art of pastry, he has trained and worked both in Australia and France with Australian culinary greats such as Neil Perry and international heavyweights Ramon Morato and Pierre Herme.

Inspired by the world around him, his desserts tell a story or take on the personality of their namesakes. Whether it’s Lukas Rides the Tube or Escape From a Columbian Rainforest, Adriano’s fertile mind, exceptional skill and natural curiosity for unlikely ingredients are his biggest assets.

Master patissier Adriano Zumbo, maestro of the macaron and guest star on Ten’s Masterchef, has landed his own SBS series, Zumbo, which began on the  10th February 2011 at 7.30pm.

Check out

Another chef that deserves a mention is Christine Mansfield, Christine pretty much opended up the door to paramount cooking. I remember buying Christine’s dessert cookbook called “Desserts” and I was obsessed with it, still am. You may have seen Christine's vast array of pesto, Harissa, and other delicious products.

Christine is a highly regarded Australian chef, author, food writer, food manufacturer, presenter, teacher and gastronomic traveller whose culinary work draws on the exciting tastes and flavours of many cultures, whose passion and commitment to culinary excellence are world renowned.

Since closing the celebrated Paramount Restaurant in Sydney in December 2000, Christine has continued to expand her knowledge and expertise, regularly travelling internationally as a culinary ambassador for Australia’s gastronomy.

Christine relocated to London in October 2003 to open East @ West in Covent Garden to instant critical acclaim. It was awarded Best New Restaurant by the 2004 London Tatler Restaurant Guide plus the Catey’s Award for Best UK Menu 2004. It closed in early 2005 when the property was sold by the owners. Christine returned to Sydney and opened Universal Restaurant in August 2007 to an enthusiastic audience and instant critical acclaim.

To date she has published five acclaimed and award-winning books with Penguin Books Australia: Stir, Spice, Christine Manfield Originals and Christine Manfield Desserts preceded her most recent book Fire – A World of Flavour released in October 2008. She is currently researching and completing her sixth book.

For more information on Christine Mansfield check out

I need to shout out a massive THANK YOU to Emm Millar who was my Head Chef at Wine Bar 2 (Walters Wine bar) in Carlton . Thank you for being the amazing chef that you were and still are …a workaholic she was called, but to me she was my Head Chef who would tell you if something was not good and then show you how to fix it, would have me in tears of laughter at 12pm after a split shift (9 am– 11pm). Emm thank you for absorbing me into the cookery world and leading me along the way… I will always remember making the 36 egg yolk crème patisserie (custard ) in the hot kitchen and the roasted ducks and so much more French cooking. THANK YOU Emm !!!

Ok so as promised here is my version of the ever so delicious bread and Butter pudding . Now someone said to me “Renee I hate sultanas” …Don’t worry leave them out or add diced apricots, or cranberries. Cooking is all about imagination and really comes down to what you like so explore…

Bread and butter pudding

Serves 6

Cooking Time Prep time 10 mins, cook 40 mins (plus standing)

85 gm (½ cup) sultanas (or diced apricot, cranberries or currants)
5 eggs
2 tbsp Brandy ( optional)
300 ml pouring cream
300 ml milk
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
1 orange, finely grated rind only (optional)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
½ tsp ground cinnamon
8 1.5cm-thick slices of day-old white bread
60 gm soft butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp demerara sugar
To serve: icing sugar and vanilla ice-cream or cream

1 Combine sultanas and brandy in a small bowl and set aside to cool.

2 Combine eggs, cream, milk, caster sugar, orange rind, vanilla seeds and cinnamon in a jug. Whisk vigorously to combine and set aside.

3 Spread both sides of bread slices with butter and halve lengthways. Scatter one third of the brandied sultanas into a lightly greased 1-litre capacity ovenproof dish. Trim bread slices to fit dish and layer, scattering remaining brandied sultanas between each layer. Pour cream mixture evenly over bread slices and stand until bread has completely absorbed cream mixture (about 1 hour).

4 Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter demerara sugar over pudding and bake until golden and custard is firm (30-40 minutes). Serve immediately or at room temperature, lightly dusted with icing sugar, and with fresh berries. Yummm!!

Now if you didn’t know it is Pancake Tuesday and I am the Pancake Chef tomorrow night in my household. Pancake or Shrove Tuesday is the day in which the wives would use up all their ingreidents in preparation for Lent which leads to Easter . It’s a great excuse to have a night of pancakes.Pancakes are the perfect vehicle for all manner of accompaniments. It could be as simple as a drizzle of honey and some sliced banana, or a dollop of yoghurt, a handful of berries and a glug of maple syrup – the real deal please, this is no time for substitutes. Or you could use the maple syrup as a poaching medium for wedges of perfectly firm, ripe pear . As the pears cook, they become fragrantly, lusciously glazed. You can do the pears ahead of time if you like and gently warm them in a pan just before serving. A simple spiced ricotta offsets the sticky sweetness.


Serves 6

Cooking Time Prep time 15 mins, cook 30 mins

180 gm butter, coarsely chopped
450 ml buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
300 gm (2 cups) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 Melt 60gm butter in a small saucepan over low heat, cool slightly, then combine in a large bowl with buttermilk and egg yolks and whisk until smooth.

2 Sift over flour, bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp fine salt, mix until smooth and combined (do not overwork).

3 Whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt in a separate large bowl until firm peaks form (2-3 minutes), then fold into flour mixture.

4 Melt 10gm butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add ¼-cupfuls of pancake batter, allowing room for it to spread. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and edges are golden (1-2 minutes).

5 Turn with a wide spatula and cook until pancake is firm and base is golden (1-2 minutes), transfer to a plate and keep warm in a low oven. Wipe pan with absorbent paper between batches and repeat with remaining butter and batter.

Next blog I will be discussing yeasty baked goods as well as my very own recipe for the “Healthy chocolate cake” and some savoury dishes too.

LAUGHING CHEF is loving ....

Local Business of the week to look out for is called Coco Moloko it is a childrens label based in Melbourne and managed by the talented Nadia Neil. If you get a chance click on the link below and have a look at the beautiful hand made clothing or even better support a local business and buy Australian & hand made clothing. 

Until next time keep on laughing and get into that Kitchen and start exploring.