(Saturday breakfast: I hadn't had finger buns in a very long time. Far, far too sweet!)
Monday, June 29, 2009
(Saturday breakfast: I hadn't had finger buns in a very long time. Far, far too sweet!)
So last week marked the Winter Solstice here in the Southern hemisphere - and happily it also happened to be a Sunday. Excellent excuse for a pork roast, I say! But I won't go through the “ins and outs” of what I think makes the best pork roast here - I'll save that for another post. Here I'll concentrate on the mulled wine and the Yule Log that I couldn't help but make.
I’m certainly no wine connoisseur, but I think that Australia does some lovely Shirazes - so I picked up a bottle of that. I really do think you need a nice fruity red for this - to nicely complement the sweetness of mulled wine. To make approx 300mL mulled wine: 250 mL Shiraz or other fruity red wine 1/3 cup water 2-3 tbsp honey (to taste! So leave the honey out) 1 tbsp each of orange juice and lemon juice 3 cloves 1 tsp nutmeg 1 cinnamon stick Simmer over a very low heat for approximately 20 mins, ensuring honey is dissolved. Add more to your taste. I preferred it quite sweet! And Food Critic Andrew agreed with me that this was a nice, sweet wine. Strain into glasses and Serve warm.
I hadn't really intended initially to make any sort of dessert for roast pork lunch, and I didn't. A dinner invitation was extended to us by some dear friends so I thought I'd make a Yule Log in the spirit of the winter solstice. I'd also bought a jelly roll pan so obviously (!) had to take it for a test bake. This was a hit with everyone. I was initially a bit worried about the chocolate fudge icing, wondering if it would be a bit too rich overall. As it turns out though, the icing was exactly right, and was the thing I am most proud of. The sponge was OK - but actually I think I would prefer a more chocolate-ey affair. The sponge turned out nicely raised - I must have whipped the egg white enough! I am so tempted to make another sponge just so I can actually believe that I can do a great job baking one. I wish I’d taken a picture of the inside now that I'm writing this so you could see what I mean, but you'll just have to believe me. The whipped cream filling was a slight disaster. It soaked into the sponge and was barely visible (except at the ends). A quick survey of the internets suggests that the fact that I had used a Tatura ‘pre-whipped’ cream may have actually contributed to this considerably. I don't usually use it I promise! But I was running out of time, and the nearest convenience store only had the pre-whipped stuff. (Food Critic Andrew is quite happily eating it from the can as I write, probably! It’s very sweet. Far, far too sweet for me). I was quite appalled - I mean, who doesn't carry cream in their convenience store? Not very convenient, evidentially. They did have ‘pure’ cream, but I was actually slightly unsure as to whether it would whip OK, given that it has no thickener. So, not wanting to abandon the entire project I chose the pre-whipped stuff. The internets now assure me that whipping pure cream is do-able as well. I will experiment with that! (As a side note, I also discovered the difference between clotted cream and regular whipped cream. Sounds delicious - I've just found a recipe. Gosh I love this job).
Chocolate Sponge (adapted from “Cookery: The Australian Way”, Cameron, Russell and Williams, 5th ed):
½ cup (75 g) plain flour
3 tbsp (30 g) cornflour
1 tspn baking powder
½ cup (125 g) caster sugar
15 grm cocoa
2 tbsp (40mL) water
Either: 250 mL whipped cream, or 1 quantity chocolate fudge icing.
Chocolate fudge frosting:
120 grms best dark cooking chocolate
¼ cup (50 g) unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
175 g icing sugar
Making the chocolate roll:
Set oven to 190 celsius
Sift flours, cocoa and baking powder
Separate the eggs, and place whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff, gradually adding sugar whilst doing so.
Add egg yolks, and beat until mixture resembles thick cream
Gently fold in sifted flour
If it is very thick, add water (do not overmix)
Pour into a greased swiss roll or lamington pan
Bake at 190 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Turn sponge onto a clean tea towel that has been sprinkled with caster sugar. Remove any baking paper, and trim any crusts that have formed.
Stand for 2 minutes
Unroll, and spread cake with with whipped cream or fudge frosting.
Place chocolate and butter in microwave and melt for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (until smooth).
Add egg and beat until combined
Add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth and glossy.
Pour most of the mixture over the roll for a glossy base.
Leave to cool and thicken, then spread with a butter knife over for a “bark” effect.
Sprinkle with some sifted castor sugar
So I decided to make exactly half of this [LINK] recipe I found on the Woman’s day Australia site, and see how that turns out. And in fact, the puddings turned out quite lovely – especially with a drizzle of lemon at the end. The only thing I would change is that I would put them on whilst cooking dinner (they have a 40 minute cook time), so as to minimise (or at least contain!) the dishes I need to do (I felt like I did 2-3 lots of dishes last night!).
So here’s my version (makes 3 ramekin puddings)
¼ cup castor sugar
¾ cup sifted SR flour
1/8 cup milk
Finely grated zest of half a lemon
Lemon wedges, to drizzle
Cream, to serve
Beat butter and sugar together until creamy
Add egg and mix until mixture is fluffly and pale
Fold in flour and milk
Lightly grease and flour 3 (3/4 cup size) ramekins
Divide pudding mix between the ramkins
Cover each one tightly with greased aluminium foil, and seal (you can use kitchen string to tightly tie – I just “overfolded” the foil, so there was little chance of water getting in
Place in a large soup pot, and add boiling water until the water is halfway up the side of the ramekins.
Bring to boil, then turn heat to low and let it simmer for 40 mins.
Remove from pot, and turn into bowls. Drizzle with lemon juice, and serve with cream.
Yum! And frugal – lots of people have these simple ingredients already in their cupboard. That’s what I like about this recipe.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
500g Kangaroo mince
1 large onion, diced
Finely chopped garlic (I used almost half a bulb but that may be pushing it for some)
5 dried chillies, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Tomato paste, approx. ½ cup
- Toss the onion, garlic and chili together in a frying pan with some olive oil until the onion caramelises.
- Add the roo mince and brown.
- Add the tomato and mix it all together for a few minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, Italian herbs and stir.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and let simmer for approx. 10 mins stirring occasionally.
It should be noted that this simplest of simple recipes came out of me trying to make a spag. bol. sauce, believing I had tinned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and pasta in the pantry. As it turned out, I had none of the above – a fact I only discovered after I had chopped the onion, garlic and chili as well as defrosting the mince.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
As previously mentioned, I am trying to divest my freezer of some of its contents in the hope that I will have some room for some ice cream (vanilla, and I have some marvellous ideas for how it can be jazzed up considerably. I’m doing this all for you, dear reader!)
I have some frozen leftover quail wrapped in bacon, which I had initially thought I should make some soup with. I need an excuse to make yet another pie! I also have a leek clogging up my kitchen which I need to use as well.
The pie was quite delicious, and could be made with leftover roast chicken if you have some of that lying around. Food Critic Andrew nodded his approval – this is definitely repertoire – or at least a great start to a repertoire kind of dish! I have seen some recipes that add extra things for flavour such as white wine, so I’m tempted to add that and a lot more pepper next time. I tend to think that I am a chronic under-seasoner – something I am trying to work on!
1 quantity sour cream pastry
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry, thawed
2 (cooked) quails wrapped in bacon,
(Or – alternatively – 350 grm (approx) shredded cooked chicken pieces and 2 rashers cooked bacon). Remove any stuffing
1 leek, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp garlic, to taste
Oregano flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp cornflour
½ cup chicken stock
Blind bake the shortcrust pastry
Whilst it is blind baking, sauté the leek and onion in a pan with garlic.
Add the quail/chicken and bacon and continue to cook for a few moments.
Add cornflour and stock, enough to ensure the mix is nice and moist. You may need to add more in the same ratio, if you prefer a more liquid-ey pie.
Add salt, pepper and oregano flakes to your taste.
After the shortcrust pastry has been blind baked, pour the mix into the base, and affix the puff pastry over the top. Press down on the sides to ensure no leakage.
Using a small sharp knife, cut a small ‘x’ in the top of the pastry
As a side note – the picture above is of one of the baby apple pies that I made with the leftover shortcrust pastry.
Mini apple pie filling –
1 peeled and cored apple, cut up then stewed with castor sugar makes enough for 2 mini pies.
Before adding the lid, (I used shortcrust for these lids) sprinkle over some cinnamon.
Cook at 180 degrees celcius for about 40 mins, or until pastry is nice and browned.
Serve with whipped cream. Oddly, we didn’t have any! But I’m assured by Food Critic Andrew that the apple pie was very lovely nevertheless.
I am not gluten intolerant, but we have a regular visitor who is. So I am constantly on the lookout for gluten free recipes, to ensure our lovely guest doesn’t go hungry. I am trying to make my gluten free meals to suit us all, and with minimal cost or extra effort. I am planning my famous chicken udon soup, made instead with some rice noodles I have about. I am slightly concerned about how the rice noodles will hold up. For dessert, there will be rice flour crepes served with jam and cream.
And that’s as far as I’ve planned so far. I’ll certainly update you if I try anything exciting. Food Critic Andrew’s Mum, Guest editor Shirley, has supplied me with some wonderful recipes for me to try. I’ve had this amazing craving recently for a fruit cake or mince pies of some description, so will try Shirley’s recipe for sultana cake. It looks great – and I can hardly wait till the weekend to try it out.
Last week at work we celebrated my colleague’s 1st year anniversary at our workplace. We planned a proper ‘morning tea’ with some lovely teas and some fancies to enjoy. I made scones, (served of course with jam and cream) as well as custard powder cupcakes (they turned out very nicely, but I have some more experimentation to do before I present a jammy version to you!). Helen made some absolutely amazing almond and honey slice. It was just the right side of crunchy for me – but Helen assures me that they are even better when they are a bit softer.
1/2 quantity shortcrust pastry (I used a whole packet of milk arrowroot biscuits for the one the other day)
90g unsalted butter
1/4 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup hiney
1 tbs cream
1 tbs brandy or other liqueur or spirit
100g flaked almonds, pine nnuts or sunflower seeds
1. Preheat oven to 200oC. Line a 30cmx20cm baking tray with baking paper and then with pastry. Bake blind for 20 minutes, then remove weights and foil. Turn oven up to 220oC.
2. Bring remaining ingredients to the boil, stirring.
3. Spread evenly over pastry. Bake until topping is bubbling and evenly caramelised, about 15 minutes.
4. Remove from oven very carefully - the topping sticks like toffee and if touched can result in a nasty burn.
5. Cool completely before cutting into 5cm x 4cm pieces.
variations: I sometimes include finely chopped candied angelica or glace fruit in the topping.
Source: Stephanie Alexander The Cook's Companion 2nd Ed p 497.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I had been a bit too efficient and had already cut the pastry in half, as per my recipe for sausage rolls, so decided I would make 2 small galettes. You know how sometimes when you start cooking you're really not sure how they're going to turn out? Well this is one of those times. But they were utterly, amazingly great, and I'll definitely make these again. I did a plain apple version, as well as a apple and rhubarb version. Top marks from Food Critic Andrew, who even eschewed a bit of cheesecake for a slice of this:
1 granny smith (or similar cooking type) apple
Cut up rhubarb
1 sheet thawed puff pastry, cut in half
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp raw sugar
- Shape the pastry into 2 small rectangular tart tins (lined with baking paper)
- Spread 1 tbsp of sugar over the bases of the pastries
- Core the apple, and cut into the smallest, thinnest segments you can, and then arrange them, overlapping on the pastries.
- Arrange some cut up rhubarb over the top.
- In a small saucepan, heat the butter and the remaining sugar for a few minutes until caramelised.
- Dribble the syrup over the pastries and then bake for approximately 20 minutes in a 220 degree oven, or until the pastry is cooked and risen, and the fruit has some colour.
- Cut into slices or squares
- Serve warm and crispy with whipped cream
A note about the sausage meat: the first time I made these, I tried to go all gourmet and make them with some kind of yummo luxury mince.But they just don't taste as traditional as I had wanted! It's very important for the taste of this recipe that you use the cheap packet of sausage mince that you buy in the meat section of your local friendly supermarket. I'm not even sure what kind of meat it is, and I'm not sure I even want to know. As a side benefit, this is a nice frugal meal.
So here's my recipe
makes 12 large, or 24 small sausage rolls
500grm sausage roll meat (the packet type from Woolworths/Safeway or Coles)
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1/4 cup of Parmesan/parmigiano reggiano or other strong tasting hard cheese
2 tbsp of tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
dried or fresh oregano
Fresh parsley, if you have some
3 sheets of store bought puff pastry, thawed (or equivalent amount if you can make the stuff!)
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius
- Drain both the grated carrot and zucchini (this is very important so the rolls don't get soggy!)
- Finely chop the onion
- Cut pastry sheets in half
- Mix all filling ingredients together with your hands
- Take just over half a cup of the filling mixture, and lay down on one of the long edges of the pastry.
- Roll the pastry across to form the sausage roll, and seal the edges with a little bit of water, pressing down.
- Cut either in half or quarters, depending on which size you like. (Or, like me - a combination of both!)
- Bake for 10-15 mins , then turn down your oven by about 20 degrees and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Turn them over if you like a crispy base for a few more minutes
- When the pastry is nice and crispy, remove from oven, and serve with a dollop tomato sauce (if it pleases you!)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Or tex-mex for that matter? Sydney is curiously bereft of mexican (and when I say that, I do mean tex-mex cuisine - I'd love to try 'mexican' but the concept is probably a bit too much for Sydney so far. Baby steps, people! I absolutely love Cafe Pacifico in East sydney, and am looking forward to visiting again soon when our West Australian via Brisbane via Mackay friend visits, hopefully with much tequila imbibement.
I have spent a curiously long time looking for authentic mexican recipes - but am wondering that perhaps I need my spanish to be better first.
So this time instead of doing the fiddly bit with the cutting out of the baking paper I just whacked in some extra wide baking paper that I had found. And what was the result? Not much difference, except cosmetic (from the baking paper). The base still looked the same, so I guess it went better than I thought on the first go!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
For the filling:
one granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
juice of one lemon
a few drops of rum essence or a spoon of real rum if you have some!
tablespoon of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of hazelnuts, which I roasted in a skillet pan; skinned and lightly chopped
One sheet of ready made puff pastry
enough bread crumbs to lightly cover the pastry
1 egg yolk
Mix the filling;
spead bread crumbs lightly over pastry
spoon mix into middle of pastry, then roll into a log shape.
Seal with the egg yolk
Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge, brush the top of the pastry with egg yolk then bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees (c).
Serve with whipped cream!
I actually loved this, but Andrew wasn't such a big fan. I made it quite sour and tangy tasting - which I love - but you could actually make this far sweeter (use less lemon and rum) if you have more of a sweet tooth.
It's definitely a dessert thing! All that rum makes it not so much a breakfast treat!
Next time I may make it sweeter to try that out, and I think this strudel recipe could really be substituted with all sorts of different fruits and nuts.
I would also probably cut the log into wheels - I think that the pastry would be a bit more golden-ish looking on the sides if I did this.
Monday, June 1, 2009
So what am I planning on cooking this week?
Well, firstly I need to explain the amazingness that was my weekend cooking - but that's probably for the next post. I made cranberry bliss bread, lemon tea cake, pannacottas, zucchini pancakes, roasted quail.....And I now have a fridge that is truly bursting! with food.
Fairly easy night tonight - steamed up some basa fillet and served it with capers and lemon juice, and a nice side salad. Sometimes Mondays are about taking it easy and light, especially after a big weekend of eating.
Tomorrow night - Food Critic Andrew is making his famous Spaghetti bolognaise.. Fairly sure this is a scret recipe, but I will try to take some photos for the blog, and possibly glean some of his secrets.
Other things I'd like to try this week - include a simple beef casserole, with yorkshire puddings.
And I'd love to get my hands on some quandong jam to make quandong ice cream...yum