Friday 28 December 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR - Ring in the new year with a bright spark!

The food dept reside in Sydney, Australia and as the rest of the world knows, we do love our fireworks. Sydneysiders pack the foreshores of Sydney harbour to view the most spectacular display of fireworks every New Years Eve, which seem to get bigger and better each year.

2012 has been an exciting first year for the food dept and we have absolutely loved working together and bringing you our delicious food features every month. A huge thank you to everyone around the globe for reading our blog and more importantly leaving feedback and comments. We love hearing your thoughts and ideas, so keep them coming next year and we will try to keep delivering what you like to cook and eat.

 We have put together a sparky little animation for you, which celebrates the end of 2012 and the start of another wonderful new year. Enjoy and remember to bring in the new year with a glass of our limoncello in one hand and a sparkler in the other.

Wishing you all a prosperous, peaceful and Happy New Year!

Cook, create + laugh!
Anne Marie and Sally  

This delicious lemon liquer is thought to have originated in Southern Italy. It is sweet and lemony without being bitter. So why not give the gift of this zesty refreshing drink on New Years Eve? Italians know how to party, what better way to ring in the New Year.  
Makes 1.2 litres

• 1 cup sugar
• ½ cup water
• 6 organic lemons
• 700ml bottle vodka
• 1 extra lemon, needed after 2 weeks when bottling the recipe

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Using a mircoplane zest the 6 lemons into a large jug. Juice the lemons and combine the juice with the zest.
3. Stir the sugar syrup into the zest and juice while the syrup is still warm but not hot. Add the bottle of vodka and stir well.
4. Using a funnel decant the Limoncello into clean, glass bottles and store in a cool dark place for 2 weeks for the flavour to develop, give the bottle a shake every few days.
5. Just before bottling the Limoncello for gifts, cut strips of lemon zest from the extra lemon with a vegetable peeler and finally julienne them. Blanch in boiling water and place into the base of clean bottles. Strain the Limoncello to remove the grated zest and pour into the bottle and seal.
6. Label the Limoncello with a tag suggesting it is serve straight from the freezer.

food dept fact: Serve Limoncello in chilled shot glasses after a long lazy lunch.

Saturday 22 December 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND THANK YOU for supporting the food dept's first year!

Fig and pear fruit mince cinnamon tarts
Nothing says Christmas more than the smell of dried fruit, brandy and sweet spices. These delicious little tarts can be made in round base patty pans or a selection of decorative, vintage tins.

• 1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
125g butter, diced
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch salt
1 egg yolk
Fig and pear fruit mince
Icing sugar, for dusting

1. Combine the flour, icing sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until combined and looks like fresh breadcrumbs.
2. Add the egg yolk and pulse until it comes together into a ball.
3. Remove the processor and shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out between floured baking paper to 3mm thickness.
5.Using a cutter slightly larger than the tins you are using cut out the pastry. Use a palate knife to gently lift the pastry into the tins, press into the tins and trim if necessary.
6.Place heaped teaspoons of fruit mince into the pastry and cut a smaller decorative piece to top the pies.
7. Bake in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until the pastry is golden, this will depend on the size tins you decide to use.
8. Serve warm or cold sprinkled with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Fig and glace pear fruit mince
This delicious fruit mince recipe makes enough for you and plenty to package up to give away! Make into fruit mince pies or simply serve warm over vanilla ice cream for a quick festive dessert.
Makes 5 cups fruit mince

2 large granny smith apples, peeled and coarsely grated
200g raisins, finely chopped
200g sultanas
200g currants
100g dried figs, finely chopped
100g glace pear, finely chopped
½ cup marmalade
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup brandy
2 teaspoons mixed spice
125g butter, softened
extra, 2 tablespoons brandy

1. Combine the fruits, marmalade, brown sugar, brandy and mixed spice in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a medium low heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes until the fruits are softened and the mixture is thick.
2. Add the butter and stir until melted. Stir though the extra brandy.
3. The fruit mince can be used immediately or it can be bottles in sterilized jars and stored in a cool dark place for up to 3 months. Refrigerate once opened. The longer it is stored the better the flavours will develop.