Friday, 30 September 2011

:: Providore Review: Adriano Zumbo ::

Adriano Zumbo Master Patissier
:: Megann’s  Kitchen ::

:: an incredible zumbo pastry & a visual delight ::

I recently went on a Sydney trip to visit an Adriano Zumbo patisserie - the master patissier that most Australian contempory pastry chefs aspire to. He thinks outside the square without changing it into a circle, so all of his food is different whilst still being honest & delectable. Sheer brilliance. There is a reason why this man has shot to fame & chosen to be featured on Masterchef Australia numerous times. Adriano Zumbo wants his treats to be affordable & for all people to try them. Zumbo could easily charge at least 50% on top of his prices & people would continue to pay them without blinking an eye lid, yet he doesn’t. This, to me, makes him the true Willy Wonka (old school style please) of the pastry world & a great man. Zumbo pushes the boundaries of sweets & pastry, like putting pop rocks into his cakes for a smashing sensation. Amazing!

:: a modest, yet inviting store ::

When I first walked into his busy Balmain store and was greeted by a modest, say tiny, shopfront but was wowed by the regular flow of customers coming into the store summoned by their sweet tooth. There is no place to sit, so make sure you have a plan in mind or visit one of his other venue’s with (limited) Cafe dining options.
There were so many visually brilliant treats, I didn’t know where to start! I had to consider that I was travelling with the goodies, so there were a few I reluctantly left behind the store glass.
The staff are under the pump but offer service with a smile. They offer great advice to their customers, new & regulars alike, & are extremely helpful.
I wish I could have sampled the whole store, but given my travel restrictions, I could only try a few & I am happy to report a them back to you guys.

:: a zumbo macaron tower ::
:: a macaron tasting plate ::

Adriano Zumbo is famous for his macarons (remember the origional macaron tower on Masterchef- OMG!) & I simply couldn’t leave without a take home box. Well, at $2.30 per macaron I had quite a few! He had flavours such as “Caramelised Palm Sugar” “Chocolate” “Strawberries & Cream” & “Pandan Leaf”. My favourites from the ones that I tried are equally the Chocolate & Palm Sugar. The chocolate could not have been more incredible with an incredible fudgy ganache filling after bursting through a crunchy, meringue layer. The palm sugar had a hint of caramel sweetness which would be delightful with a latte or tea. Mmmmm, perfect.

Macaron Flavours
Japanese Mayo Caramelised
Palm Sugar
Strawberries and Cream, Black sesame, liquorice & lime
Kaffir lime and ginger
Lychee bubble tea
Charred coconut and black rice pudding
Chestnut and mint
Toasted white chocolate

:: layering up the dragon ::
:: the taste sensation- enter the dragon ::
:: inside the dragon ::

Enter the Dragon
The winner of my limited taste selection would have to be “Enter The Dragon” at $9.00 which is a select combination of toasted white chocolate mousse, coriander creameaux, peanut caramel mou, dried chilli sable & almond sponge.
“Oh my gosh, you have to try this!” I said to my husband. He hurried and got his half that I generously cut for him (though I got the bigger half!) “Oh my...” I exclaimed again, giving a little squeal of delight. “Don’t over sell it” he warned. “I’m not” I said savouring every mouthful. He took his first mouthful and then looked up at me, grinned cheekily and said “Oh my...”   End point.
Not only does this dessert look incredible with its attention to detail but its taste surprises you. For some reason I was expecting something else, maybe a little crazy & was pleasantly amazed at what was on my palette. It was a beautiful sweet, caramel, smooth, crunchy, spicy mix, a party in my mouth. Well done Mr. Zumbo, well done.

:: I wonder who this mrs palmer is??? ::
:: a lovely pastry- butter up mrs palmer ::

Butter Up Mrs Palmer
Recommended to me by the assistant, this would be a wonderful afternoon tea treat. “Butter Up Mrs Palmer” at $9.00 has burnt butter castriano and caramelised palm sugar creme legere, palm sugar almond crunch with caramelised puff pastry. It has a combination of divinely smooth, creamy layers then a crunch of pastry to break through the palette. It is a lovely dessert, a safe bet if you like your vanilla slice, which I do!

:: just look at the amazing colour! ::
:: the tart of passion tastes just as good as it looks ::

Tarte Aux Fruits de la Passion
Wow. How refreshing! “Tarte Aux Fruits de la Passion” at $6 is a passionfruit curd and pâte sucrée. Well, I could easily eat this as a dessert on a tropical island somewhere whilst sipping a tequila sunrise watching the sun set on the beach, listening to the waves lap at the shore line. Hmmmmm. The pastry was perfect, the passionfruit curd had the right amount of fruity flavouring to it & the gelatine layer made it visually spectacular. Now, back to that cocktail....

The Selection
OMG. I thought I had died & gone to my sweet tooth heaven. The amazing staff allowed me to take a few snaps to share with you, which is oh so lucky because some of the goodies were a little worse for wear after the long drive home! So enjoy what Zumbo had to offer...

:: exit malt ::
:: don pandan man ::

:: helen where's the garden ::
:: ave a avo ::
:: choc surprise tart ::
:: duck the balls of a l'orange ::

:: a beautiful macaron selection ::

All in all, my Zumbo experience was an amazingly memorable one. I was so excited to try his treats for the first time & his quality sweet goods did not disappoint. After being posted as a defence family around Australia & being rather isolated at times, I can finally say that I have tasted Zumbo delights & what a treasure it was. I have to say that I brought my esky to Zumbo’s & as I wasn’t planning to leave empty handed & to no surprise I managed to fill that baby up! Most of the treats made it home for a photograph after 5 hours of travel in extensive traffic, but I had to eat some straight away... oh well.

I now can’t wait to go back to visit his establishments with his Wonka-like desserts again.

:: adriano zumbo packaging ::

Location: Original Store: 296 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW 2040
Other various locations throughout Sydney, including Manly & Rozelle. See his website for details.
Contact: All phone enquiries Tel: (02) 02 9810 7318

 Adriano Zumbo's Book - Pre-Order Now Available
Good Things: Classes: Adriano Zumbo will be opening up a learning centre at his Rozelle location as soon as renovations have been completed. Holy cow, a chance to work with a genius of this calibre? Where do I sign?
For more information on the Adriano Zumbo Cooking Classes, follow the link.
Book: Adriano Zumbo's new book Zumbo is now available to pre-order online... SIGNED! Follow the links here or on his web site for your copy.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

:: A Lean Lasagne for People in Need ::

Beef & Vegetable Lasagne
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::

:: a healthy lasagne about to go in the oven for baking ::

“It’s your birthday Megann, what would you like for dinner” Mum would ask every year. “Lasagne please” I would always answer. The dessert would vary between traditional American Lemon Meringue & Caramel Meringue pies. I know mum would continuously be surprised as lasagne is a bit pedestrian to have as a special birthday dish for dinner, but for me, it was my go-to comfort food. “Lasagne it is” she would say, and for about 6 years running, that is what I had.
I now make it a lot in our household. I love it, my husband loves it & most importantly, my toddler son loves it. I have adapted mum’s recipe with my son’s nutritional intake in mind to include as many vegetables as possible that I can pack into it without it tasting vegetarian. I tend to look in the fridge, get out an array of vegetables that need using up which will complement the dish and go to town. Sure, lasagne may take a bit of time but if you make it in large quantities, which I do, you can freeze any leftovers for emergency or toddler meals.
This recipe is also perfect for friends in need. This particular lasagne I made one dreary & rainy day to take over to my friend Heidi’s house just after she had her baby. It would be the perfect new mother’s comfort food, full of nutrition & energy for someone recovering from hospital. Enjoy my cheesy hidden vegetable version!

Bolognaise Sauce
750 grams beef mince
2 Tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large carrot, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
½ cup diced button mushrooms
½ cup red wine
1½ cups beef stock
1 800 gram tin diced tomatoes
1 jar of passata
salt & pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce
4 Tbs butter
4 Tbs plain flour
4 cups milk
200 grams cheddar cheese & 50 grams parmesan cheese mix
salt & pepper to taste

Instant Lasagna Sheets
baby spinach, washed & roughly chopped
Tasty cheddar cheese

:: makes 1 x-large lasagne dish

:: adding the vegetables to the mince ::
:: a lovely, healthy bolognaise sauce ::

Bolognaise Sauce
Heat oil in a deep dish saucepan and add the diced onion. Sauté over a low heat, stirring until just transparent and smelling fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic & cook for another 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat & add the beef mince, browning it & breaking it up to a fine mince as you go. Add the carrot, zucchini & mushrooms & cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the red wine & reduce for 3 minutes. Add beef stock & continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes & also stir through the passata, season, cover, and simmer gently 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on your moisture levels & check on it, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

:: spinach- full of iron & oh so tastey! ::

Béchamel Sauce
Melt butter into a saucepan over low heat & stir in the flour. It should be a wet, sloppy dough consistency. Stir for about 2-3 minutes or until you get the fragrance of cookies from the flour, this means your flour is cooked & ready. Don’t let it change colour too much. Remove from the stovetop, gradually whisk in some milk until it thickens, then add some more milk and whisk until it re-thickens. Return to low heat. Keep on gradually adding the milk while whisking until you have a smooth, thick creamy mixture. Gradually add the cheese & when the cheese melts, add more. As you get towards the end, I like to taste the “cheesiness” of my sauce to see if I need to add more. Season with salt & pepper.

:: layering the lasagne ::

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Pre-prepare a large lasagne dish by lightly greasing it with butter. Place approx ¾ cup of the meat sauce on the base of the dish. Alternate between layers of lasagne sheets, meat sauce, cheese sauce & baby spinach, finishing with a cheese & spinach layer. Your dish should take 4-5 layers. Sprinkle with cheese & bake for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through. Rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Kitchen Notes
:: You can prepare & assemble your lasagne up to a day in advance as the flavours that are released through the pasta are exceptional!
:: Resting your Lasagne allows excess moisture to seep into the pasta sheets so it holds form to avoid serving a sloppy mess.
:: Any leftover sauce, I freeze for toddler meals.

:: this basic sauce is not only for lasagna, but for other pasta as well ::

For Needy People
:: When I made my lasagne for Heidi, I prepared & assembled the dish in the morning then refrigerated it. When it was our time to visit the baby, I popped it in a travel bag & as soon as I arrived at the house I continued on with the cooking process in the oven. You could also bake it at home for freezing or reheating when needed. It’s a meal for the whole family to enjoy + leftovers!

Source: Freedom Baking Dish: follow this link

I would also love to see your Megann's Kitchen Creations/photos of recipes that you have made on Megann’s Kitchen Facebook!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

:: It's all in a Muffin ::

Meg’s Blueberry & Apple Muffins
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::

:: freshly baked meg's blueberry & apple muffins ::

STANDING THE HEAT:  Megann Evans enjoy her chosen task. - Picture by Max Mason-HubersWhat a whirlwind of a week! I started back at work and I received my very first, & honoured, press mention in the Good Taste section of the Newcastle Herald in Anita Beaumont's article about local food bloggers. Congratulations to another blogger, Siobhan, who was also featured & a veteran of 5 years, showing us how it's done! The article also included a recipe of mine, my Blueberry & Apple Muffins, of which I happened to have made when they came around to interview me...  & after the GT exclusive I am now sharing them with you!

When I was whipping up a batch my quick & easy blueberry muffins every week, I was starting to think how I could make them that little bit healthier for my toddler, as blueberries & “b-apples” seemed to be his fruit of choice. This is typical of my son, blueberries were out of season & the price point was at a premium but lucky I was still able to buy frozen ones at the supermarket, which he also loves on his teething gums.
Substituting in one cup of wholemeal flour gives the muffins a beautiful country texture without them becoming too crumbly. The grapeseed oil is high in anti-oxidants (just as much as green tea) & plus adding an apple for some extra sweetness & moisture. Make no mistake; these are the new favourite muffin in our household & so simple to prepare!
1 cup of plain flour
1 cup of wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup caster sugar
1 cup of sour light cream
2 large eggs
1 large granny smith apple, grated
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/3 cup grapeseed (or other light flavoured) oil
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
pinch of sea salt, optional

:: Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Prepare your muffin tins with baking paper or by greasing them. Sift the plain flour, add wholemeal flour & baking powder into a bowl & then add the caster sugar. In another slightly larger bowl, add the sour cream, eggs, grated apple, lemon rind & oil & whisk until creamy. Add the flour mixture to the cream mixture until it is just combined. Add blueberries & stir through once as you don’t want to change the colour of the mixture. Use two tablespoons (one to pick up your mixture and one to neatly push it off your spoon) to place the mixture into your prepared non-stick muffin trays. I sometimes like to line mine with crisp, home-made white liners or other quirky muffin liners. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cake tested with a skewer and beautifully golden on top.

:: Makes 18 average sized muffins

:: I scoop mine in with a x-small ice-cream scoop for consistant sized muffins ::

Kitchen Notes
:: Always remember for a soft, moist muffin that rises to their full potential, stir the ingredients until it is just combined. Overworking your mixture activates the gluten, making it tough and dry.
:: I have sometimes substituted the sour cream with natural yoghurt, or half-half when I haven’t had the complete ingredients in my fridge.
:: I also love to use freshly milled bio-dynamic unbleached plain flour. Due to the natural processes of this flour, use the full 2 cups of this flour in your recipe, no wholemeal needed.
:: I sometimes prepare 12 average sized patty tins & with the leftover batter I tend to make mini muffins for my toddlers, which are a hit. These also freeze well for snacks on the run. 
Top Tip: My son loves eating frozen muffins straight out of the freezer when he is teething. So soothing & cold!
:: freshly baked blueberry & apply muffins cooling by the window... perfection ::
Serve: The best way to serve your muffins is fresh out of the oven, after about 10-15 mins of cooling, with a generous slathering of real, salted butter that melts as you bite into it.

:: grapeseed oil; a natural source of goodness ::

Grapeseed Oil: Along with other heart-healthy oils such as Olive Oil & located in your supermarket & health food stores, Grapeseed Oil is starting to make a splash into pantries accross the world. Grapeseed Oil is a fantastic base for making cakes, such as carrot cake & muffins, instead of using traditional butter.  The health benefits outway other light flavoured oils by far, being high in antioxidants, omega-6 (good cholesterol), vitamin E & it also assists with athritis aches, improvement of circulation & general skin health. Grapeseed Oil has also been known to have cancer protection properties because of the high quantities of antioxidents & the fatty acids have also been known to assist with diabetic symptoms.
Grapeseed Oil has a moderately high smoke point of 216°C & has a clean light taste, ideal for cooking on the stovetop & baking.
So, the question is now, why wouldn't you cook with it?

Source: Adapted from my original Blueberry Muffin Recipe
Order in the Kitchen: make your own Parchment Paper Wrappers
Featured Muffin Liners: by Fox Run Craftsmen Australia, purchased at the Essential Ingredient

I would also love to see your Megann's Kitchen Creations/photos of recipes that you have made on Megann’s Kitchen Facebook!

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