Opera Cake

Opera Cake

Opera Cake

One of Patrick’s favourite things to do in the kitchen is make buttercream and decorate cakes – he even has an entire instagram page devoted to his cake decorations (Check it out here: www.instagram.com/pogicakes). So when we decided to bake a cake for a friend, buttercream was at the forefront of our minds. This decadent cake consists of layers of sponge cake, buttercream and chocolate ganache, topped with a layer of chocolate glaze. We chose to serve our cake sliced, decorated with edible gold paint, but traditionally the cake would be served whole, with the word “Opera” piped on top in chocolate ganache. Either way, it’s a decadent hit of chocolate and coffee goodness best to share with friends so you aren’t tempted to go for a second slice!

Joconde Sponge Cake:

  • 85g   almond meal
  • 75g   icing sugar
  • 25g   plain flour
  • 120g eggs (around 2 medium eggs)
  • 80g   egg whites
  • 10g   caster sugar
  • 30g   butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix together the almonds, icing sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time and mix well until the batter becomes smooth and pale. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar together until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the batter into the whipped egg whites, then fold in the melted butter.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with baking paper to 5mm thickness, smoothing the mixture to ensure an even layer across the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cake is golden and firm to the touch. Remove form the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

  • 5g instant coffee
  • 15ml boiling water
  • 250g sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 90g egg yolks
  • 300g butter, softened
  • 4ml vanilla extract
  1. Dissolve the instant coffee in 15ml of boiling water and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil until the sugar syrup reaches 115°
  3. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg yolks until they are thick and pale.
  4. As soon as the syrup reaches 115°C, pour it slowly into the egg yolks, continuing to whisk constantly.
  5. Continue to beat until the mixture has completely cooled. The yolks should be very thick and pale.
  6. Continue beating the mixture as you add the butter a little at a time.
  7. Beat in the vanilla and coffee mixture. If the buttercream is too soft to spread, refrigerate until it becomes firmer.

Dessert Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp instant coffee

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring the boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the coffee and stir well.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250g double cream

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a hot water bath. Heat the cream and add to the chocolate. Mix well and chill.

Opera Glaze

  • 350g dark chocolate couverture
  • 60g peanut oil

Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a hot water bath. Stir in the oil. Allow to cool a little before using. (Makes a thin coating which sets solid but can easily be cut with a hot knife)

To assemble:

  • Joconde Sponge Cake
  • 50g dark chocolate, melted
  • Dessert Syrup
  • Coffee Buttercream
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • Opera Glaze
  1. Cut the sponge into 3 equal rectangular portions. Spread one piece with a think layer of dark chocolate, then refrigerate to set the chocolate
  2. Remove the chocolate coated sponge from the refrigerator, turn chocolate side down and brush with the Dessert Syrup.
  3. Spread a layer of Coffee Buttercream above the sponge rectangle, about 5mm thick.
  4. Place the second sponge rectangle on top. Brush with the syrup and then spread a thin layer of Chocolate Ganache on top.
  5. Top with the third and final layer of sponge. Brush with the syrup and spread with a layer of Coffee Buttercream, about 5mm thick. Smooth the top carefully with a palette knife.
  6. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. The cake must be quite cold so the warm glaze doesn’t melt the buttercream.
  7. Place the cake on a wire rack over a tray and pour over the warm Opera Glaze. Smooth the surface with a palette knife and refrigerate the cake until the glaze has set.
  8. Remove cake from the rack and trim the sides of the cake with a hot knife.

To Serve:

  • ¼ tsp gold powder
  • ½ tsp gin

If you like, cut the cake into rectangular slices approximately 5cm x 10cm. Mix together the gold powder and gin, and using a fine paintbrush, decorate the top of each slice with a triangle of golden glaze. Use a piece of baking paper cut to purpose as a guide to ensure a uniform triangle on each slice of cake.

Alternatively, using chocolate ganache, you could pipe the word “Opera” onto the top of the entire cake and serve whole.

Chicken Asado

Chicken Asado

Chicken Asado

On our recent trip to The Philippines, we spent a week visiting Patrick’s family. As everyone knows, nothing tastes better than your mother’s cooking! We were treated to homemade sinigang, adobo, caldareta and Mommy’s famous Chicken Asado. This recipe is our attempt to replicate the experience of eating your mother’s home cooking, but with modern plating. If you’ve never tried Filipino cuisine, this is a great place to begin. It’s an easy but tasty dish with no challenging ingredients. Let us know if you enjoy it!

This recipe serves 6 people. Serve with rice.

Ingredients:

  • 100ml soy sauce
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 6 whole chicken legs (Marylands)
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 85g liver spread or chicken paté
  • 300g tomato passata
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 green chillies, whole
  • salt to taste
  • parsley and sorrel leaves, to garnish

Method:

  1. For the marinade, combine soy sauce and lemon juice in a large bowl and add the chicken legs. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.
  2. Cut half of the carrot into matchstick shaped batons approximately 3cm by ½cm. Slice the remaining carrot and the potatoes into ½cm thick slices. Using a 4cm cookie cutter, cut the sliced vegetables into rounds. Then, using a 2.5cm cookie cutter, punch a hole through the middle of the carrot circles, to create a carrot ring and a smaller circle.
  3. In a pan, heat the oil and then shallow fry the potato and carrot until tender and brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Fry the chicken in the same pan, browning both sides but not cooking all the way through. Remove and set aside. Once the chicken cools a little, french the bone by cutting through the meat around the bone 1 inch from the base of the leg. Remove the skin and flesh by pulling it from the bone. Clean the bone by scraping away any remaining meat with a knife.
  5. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté until slightly brown, then add the liver spread or paté and continue to sauté until this has browned as well.
  6. Add the tomato passata, brown sugar, pepper, water and marinade. Mix together and add the chicken pieces back to the pan. Simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Add the bay leaves and chillies and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove the chicken from the sauce and set aside. Strain the sauce through a fine metal sieve into a large bowl, and use a stick blender to emulsify the sauce. Wipe out the pan and return the sauce, then return the pan to a medium heat, reducing the sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

To Serve:

Swirl 3 tablespoons of sauce in a circular pattern across each plate. Place a chicken leg on one side of the plate, and pour another tablespoon of sauce on top of the chicken. On the opposite side of the plate, arrange the potato and carrot circles and batons according to your preference. Finely chop some of the parsley and use it to garnish the chicken leg. Decorate the plate with some sorrel and parsley leaves. Sarap!

Traditional Asado

If you’re curious to try a more traditional Asado, or just can’t be bothered with fancy plating, simply change a few steps above.

At Step 2, slice all of the potatoes and carrots into 1/2 cm thick slices.

At Step 4, there’s no need to french the bone.

At the end of Step 8, return the chicken, potatoes and carrot to the pan, stir well and serve immediately with rice.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

It’s been a while between posts here on Recipe Road! Since we last posted we’ve been travelling, first to South Korea and Italy, and recently to The Philippines. We plan to bring you recipes from each of the countries we visited, starting with today’s Italian post!

In Italy we indulged in our love of Italian food, visiting the world’s #1 restaurant, Osteria Francescana. We also stayed on a farm in Tuscany, where our hosts cooked dinner each night from the produce in their garden. Another highlight was taking a pasta making class in Rome, which is where we learned today’s recipe. Our host taught us how to prepare fresh pasta, and we made linguine and ravioli. The final recipe we prepared was spaghetti carbonara, and our host insisted this recipe must be made with dried pasta, from a packet. He was also quite insistent that this dish must be made with pork cheek, not speck or bacon, and using pecorino cheese, not parmigiano-reggiano. It is a simple peasant dish, and traditionally uses these cheaper ingredients. However, if you have trouble sourcing pork cheek like we did, we won’t be offended if you use speck or bacon! Many people think carbonara sauce uses cream, but traditionally the amazing creaminess of the carbonara comes just from the egg, cheese and cooking water alone. We hope you enjoy this simple and tasty classic Italian dish.

Ingredients:

  • 30g pork cheek (guanciale) or speck per person
  • 100g dried spaghetti per person
  • 1 egg per person
  • 50g pecorino cheese per person, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 small continental parsley leaves per person (optional)

Method:

  1. Finely dice the pork cheek or speck and place in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the fat has melted and the meat is slightly toasted, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the spaghetti. Take note of the cooking time on the packet, and drain the spaghetti 2 minutes before the cooking time is completed, reserving a cup of the cooking water.
  3. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl. Add the grated pecorino, reserving a little for garnish. Mix well and add the cooked pork cheek and its fat, then the cooked pasta. Stir and toss the pasta in the egg mixture for a minute or two to cook the egg and melt the cheese. Add some of the reserved cooking water if necessary, continuing to mix until the sauce’s consistency reaches your liking.
  4. To serve, divide the spaghetti between plates, garnish with the reserved grated pecorino, season with freshly ground black pepper and add a final garnish of one or two parsley leaves if you like. Serve immediately!