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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rich chocolate truffles + a fish tank story

Fish tank
From this....

When we first arrived in Melbourne, we bought a fish that started off a small fish keeping obsession. Yogi was a beautiful, blue Siamese Fighter that came in a little plastic tank.

We soon realised that although Siamese Fighters can survive in small unheated tanks, they're actually much happier with more space. So we bought him a slightly bigger tank with a water heater. And since we had a larger tank, it meant that we could add more fish. And with more fish... well, eventually we had to upgrade to an even larger tank. Were we satisfied with that? Hell no! Eventually we bought a 130 litre tank, along with an improved water pump and more fish.

For a while we were really into fish keeping, but then we got cats. With the arrival of the cats, the fish stopped being as interesting. Gradually the fish keeping obsession eased and we stopped at the tank shown above.

The tank and its fishy occupants moved with us three times. Sadly Yogi died a couple of years ago, but one fish that has been with us for about four years is Big Fella, a kissing gourami (the pink/white fish in the tank above). Big Fella was a bargain price of $2.50 and we think that he's probably a fish that someone returned to the fish shop. They get quite large and can become aggressive with other fish, so unfortunately this is a very likely scenario. He is most likely at least five years old. Boy, is Big Fella a trooper. He's survived several tanks, three house moves, as well as the addition of many fish, all of whom have died apart from another gourami (imaginatively named Little Big Fella).

Yesterday, we were sitting on the couch, when there was an almighty bang that sent the cats flying upstairs. The fish tank had cracked, sending water gushing on to our carpet.

Fish tank
To this!

Oh boy! It was fortunate that the tank burst while Alastair and I were at home. It sent us flying into action - I grabbed buckets, while Alastair prioritised and unplugged my Bro's Xbox 360. Yup, never mind the litres of water pouring on to our floor, make sure the gadgets are okay! We managed to catch most of the water in buckets and although it still smells like wet carpet in the house, thankfully the damage was negligible.

Fish tank
A new home

The tank is obviously worthless, so Big Fella and his friend have a new, much smaller, tank to call home. If this one breaks at least it can't cause much damage!

Yesterday I had been intending to finish off some posts when I got side tracked into catching and mopping up water. So how about just a recipe for chocolate truffles instead? These truffles were the only sweet item I made for our orphan's Christmas. We left them out of the fridge and they became all soft and gooey. Not a bad way to eat them.

Rich chocolate truffles

Rich Chocolate Truffles

From Kitchen Classics: Sweet and Savoury Bites

Makes about 30

185 ml (6 fl oz or 3/4 cup) thick (double/heavy) cream
400g (14 oz) dark chocolate, grated
70g (2 1/2 oz) unsalted btter, chopped
2 tablespoons Cointreau (I used cherry brandy)
dark unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling

Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Rmove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it is completely melted. Add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in the Cointreau. Transfer to a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for seveal hours or overnight, or until firm enough to roll.

Quickly roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls, and refrigerate until firm. Roll the balls in the cocoa, shake off any excess and return to the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

Note: The truffle mixture can be made and rolled up to 2 weeks ahead. You will need to roll the balls in cocoa again close to serving time.

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