28 August 2015

Season 2 BONUS Recipe #1: Choc-Orange Cheesecake – Intermediate – Baking & Desserts

The bonus recipes are back! As with last season, these are really just alternate ways of using previous recipes from throughout the seasons to end up with a completely different dish.

This no-bake cheesecake seems to go down well at parties, or morning/afternoon teas, or really just any time of the day for any reason whatsoever. Since when did cheesecake require a justification?

1kg cream cheese, at room temperature

This time, you’ll need to change a couple of things around, but I’ve already told you what to do in the relevant videos.

I’ve listed that you can use either dark or milk chocolate ganache here as it’s purely up to your preferences. You will obviously get a richer flavour from dark chocolate, but it won’t be as sweet as it would were you to use milk chocolate. You could even use white chocolate if you really want, but the end result may not look as dramatic.


1. Press the biscuit crumb mixture into a 20cm (8 inch) cake tin with a removable base, ensuring that it is distributed evenly and that it comes all the way up the sides.

2. Place the tin into a fridge for at least 20 minutes in order for the base to harden.

3. Use an electric mixer to beat half of the cream cheese into the orange curd, then cover and place aside until needed.

4. Beat the remaining half of the cream cheese into the ganache, cover and place aside until needed.

5. Spoon half of the orange cream cheese mixture into the biscuit base and spread evenly to the edges.

6. Place your tin into the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until the cream cheese is firm enough to handle the next layer.

7. Repeat Step 6 with the chocolate cream cheese mixture.

8. Return tin to the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until firm enough to handle the next layer.

9. Repeat Steps 6-9 with the remaining halves of each mixture, then place into the fridge to chill overnight before serving. (You should now have 4 layers of cream cheese.)

10. All to rest outside the fridge for at least 20 minutes before removing from the tin and serving. (Otherwise it can be a bit difficult to cut.)

Serves at least 1.

A video of this recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/-TGuy7NJiPc.

22 August 2015

2.12 Lasagne – Advanced – Rice & Pasta

Okay, okay. I know some of you are saying or thinking “but why has he listed LASAGNE as ADVANCED???”. Well, to put it into perspective, you need to make a Bolognese sauce and a Béchamel sauce (both of which are either time consuming or fussy), then assemble everything and bake it for the right amount of time. The full recipe can take more than 3 hours from beginning to end.

Advanced doesn’t necessarily mean “difficult”, but there’s more to it than throwing a few jars of sauce at some pasta sheets and shoving the whole thing in the oven!

ALSO - This is the final episode of Season 2. I'll be back with Season 3 on 2nd October 2015, but there'll be a couple of bonus recipes before then.


As usual, I don’t know how traditional this is as nobody taught me how to make it. You can use this sauce over some pasta if you don’t feel like going the full Lasagne route.

400g Italian pork and fennel sausages, removed from casings
500g lean beef mince
2 large red onions, diced finely
3 large garlic cloves, minced
800ml passata
500ml beef stock
200ml boiling water
150ml red wine
¼ cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tbsp black truffle salt (see notes below)
Olive oil (for frying)

I have specified Italian pork and fennel sausages. This is because they seem to have a higher percentage of meat when compared to other sausages, plus the flavours work. If you want to use plain pork sausages (or another flavour you like), then go right ahead. If you want to get rid of the pork completely, then I guess beef sausages could work, or just use extra mince.

I would recommend lean mince in this as there’s probably already going to be a bit of fat in the sausages, plus you’ll need to add some oil for frying. You can use ordinary beef mince (I usually do), but if you want to get all fancy, feel free to use Angus or Wagyu beef instead. Traditionally, you should be using veal mince anyway.

Passata is just a smooth tomato puree. If you can’t get it, blend a few tins of tomatoes until smooth.

The type of wine doesn’t matter. Just use anything you have laying around. I’m not really a wine connoisseur.

If you can’t get fresh basil and/or oregano, use 1 tbsp dried oregano and/or 2 tbsp dried basil instead.

I use truffle salt to add a hint of additional flavour. If you don’t like truffles, don’t worry, you can substitute it with plain salt and still have a great lasagne. Or, you could use another type of specialty salt, such as smoked sea salt, black sea salt, pink  salt, etc. Not all salt tastes the same. You could even drizzle some flavour-infused oil over the top when you serve it.


1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, fry the onions in some olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until softened, then add the garlic and fry until browned.

2. Add the sausage meat and cook until browned. (Try to break up the meat as much as possible.)

3. Add the beef mince and cook until browned.

4. Stir in the red wine and allow to simmer for approx. 30 seconds to remove some of the alcohol.

5. Stir in the tomato paste, passata, stock, water, chopped herbs, truffle salt and a generous pinch of pepper. (TIP: I would usually pour the water into the empty passata bottle and shake it up to get anything stuck to the sides.)

6. Once it comes to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover the pot.

7. Simmer sauce for 2 hours, stirring every 15-20 minutes. (You don’t need to be too diligent here. Leave the sauce to do its thing, just go check on it from time to time. You don’t want the sauce to be too thin, but you also don’t want it to be too thick as the pasta sheets will absorb some liquid as it cooks later.)

8. Once the sauce is done, put aside until you are ready to assemble. (Like all Bolognese sauces, this gets better if you leave it in the fridge overnight. Just heat it up a bit before you use it to make it easier to pour and spread.)

Makes enough for 1 Lasagne, or several serves of Spaghetti Bolognese.

A video of this part of the recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/lATn05YwnTI.


A fairly standard white sauce. Of course, I have to mess with it a bit (it’s kind of my thing), but I don’t go too crazy with it.

My mother tells me that adding cheese to a Béchamel sauce makes it a Mornay sauce (and from what I can see she's correct), but I don't think I add a large enough amount of cheese to make the distinction. If you have to, then call this a Mornay sauce. Or a Béchamornay. Whatever!

Some people like to use ricotta in their lasagne instead of Béchamel. They are to be pitied.

1L milk
100g unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup plain white flour
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tbsp black truffle salt
½ tsp pepper
Extra milk (if necessary)

The truffle salt is back again! As before, feel free to substitute it for another salt.

You may not need the extra milk, it depends on how thick you want the sauce.


1. Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a pot.

2. Once it is bubbling, add the flour and whisk until combined. (This is called a ‘roux’ (pronounced “roo” for those of you who are wondering).)

3. Continue to whisk the butter and flour over the heat until the roux begins to darken to a light nut-brown colour. (Be careful, you don’t want it to burn.)

4. Pour in the milk and whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened to a custard-like consistency and remove from the heat. (The longer it cooks, the thicker it will get.)

5. Whisk in the parmesan cheese, truffle salt and pepper.

6. If mixture thickens too much, add extra milk as necessary until proper consistency is retained.

7. Place aside until you are ready to assemble.

Makes enough for 1 Lasagne.


approx. 12 Fresh Pasta sheets
3 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Black truffle salt (optional)
Pepper (optional)

There is no real art to this. The amount of each of the above ingredients used is really up to you, and depends on the size, height and depth of your baking dish, as well as how generous you are with the Bolognese and Béchamel.

Fresh pasta sheets seem to work much better than dried, and do not take as long to cook in the oven. If you feel more confident with dried pasta sheets, then use them instead, but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work out the same!


1. Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F).

2. Pour a generous spoonful of the Bolognese sauce into the bottom of your baking tray and spread it to the edges. (This gives the first layer of pasta something to rest on and stops it from sticking to the pan.)

3. Place the pasta sheets in a single layer over the Bolognese. (Try not to overlap. TIP: If there are any large gaps, just cut or tear an extra pasta sheet into strips to fill the gap.)

4. Pour another couple of spoonfuls of Bolognese over the pasta and gently spread to the edges of the dish.

5. Pour over 1/3 of the Béchamel sauce as evenly spread as possible. (Don’t be too concerned if it doesn’t look even, you can press down on the next layer of pasta sheets to spread it out.)

6. Scatter a small handful of mozzarella over the Béchamel. (Optional – you need to have enough Mozzarella leftover to cover the top layer, so be a bit stingy with it between the layers.)

7. Repeat Steps 3-6 as necessary.

8. Once the dish is full, scatter over as much mozzarella, parmesan, truffle salt and pepper as you’d like.

9. Bake for 45 minutes. (The pasta sheets should be cooked by now.)

10. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, and then serve. (A simple garden salad goes well with this.)

I’ve made this for a broad range of people, and based on this experience it can serve anywhere from 6-12.

A video of this part of the recipe is also available - http://youtu.be/Rz2FOAWQ36g.

I hope you've enjoyed Season 2, and I'll see you again soon!

14 August 2015

2.11 Spotlight #3: Chocolate (a.k.a. In Love With The Cocoa)

I hope you’re enjoying the recipes so far, but the time has come for this season’s final Spotlight feature.

This month, I will tease you with images of glorious, glorious chocolate. Just kidding! Sort of. I’ll actually be weighing in on what I consider the best uses of White, Milk or Dark chocolate in cooking. Plus, I’ll share a few handy little tips that will have you ganache-ing your teeth in no time (yes, the dreaded puns have returned…). Plus, a BONUS Choc-Mint Mousse recipe!

If you feel that you can sit this one out, I will be back with another recipe next week. For everyone else, please watch the video at https://youtu.be/-7u1U6vx9s4.

If anyone would like to share their own tips, or even if you just have a question, please do not hesitate to email me.

7 August 2015

2.10 Chilli Chocolate Fondant w/ Raspberry Habanero Coulis – Intermediate – Baking & Dessert

This is my spin on an old classic with a little something extra.

For those of you who are sceptical or unfamiliar with it, chilli actually goes quite nicely with chocolate, so long as you get the balance right. If you REALLY cannot fathom it, just take the chilli elements out of one or both of the fondant and/or coulis and you are left with a perfectly fine and more traditional version. I’ll leave it up to you.

This recipe may sit on the fence between Intermediate and Advanced, but I had to choose a side to put it on, and here we are now.


We’ll start off with this because it needs time to chill. If it’s a bit too daunting, feel free to skip the coulis and serve the fondants with some fresh raspberries instead.

400g fresh raspberries
2 habanero chillis, deseeded and sliced
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice

Two habaneros may seem excessive to some. Why bother adding something like this if you don’t want its presence to be felt? Besides, without the seeds it shouldn’t knock your socks off too much anyway.


1. Over a medium-high heat, stir together the ingredients in a pot until it begins to bubble.

2. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before pouring through a sieve to remove the seeds.

4. Place into a bowl or container, cover, and place into the fridge to chill.

6. Once chilled, it is ready to use! It tastes great with just ice cream, or you could use it as a syrup for pancakes, or you can even add it to cocktails for an interesting hit.


I wouldn’t even consider starting this part of the recipe until the coulis has been in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes.

275g 70% cocoa dark chocolate
225g unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups plain white flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp dried chilli powder
50g unsalted butter, melted (extra)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

This is a fairly basic fondant mix, with the addition of dried chilli powder. If you don’t like the spice, replace the chilli powder with vanilla paste or even some instant coffee granules.


1. Preheat oven to 180°C (or 350°F).

2. Brush 6-8 dariole moulds/small ramekins with the melted butter, then dust with cocoa powder and shake out any excess.

3. In a pot over medium heat, melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally.

4. Transfer to a large jug (or a bowl with a pouring lip) and stir in the sugar, chilli powder and a pinch of salt, then place aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

5. Whisk the eggs together in a jug, then add to the chocolate mixture a bit at a time until combined.

6. Sift the flour and fold it in until smooth.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared moulds/ramekins until each is approx. ¾ full.

8. Place onto the middle shelf of your oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. (Usually 12 minutes is perfect, but some ovens vary.)

9. Loosen the fondants from the moulds (using a sharp knife if necessary), then invert onto a plate gently.

10. Serve immediately with a swirl of the chilled coulis and a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraiche and a dusting of icing sugar. (If you have any leftover White Chocolate Ice Cream from earlier in the season, that would work just as well here.)

Serves 6-8 depending on the size of the moulds/ramekins.

A video of this recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/GHb6ZjqgOu8.