Monday, July 28, 2008

pear, almond and vanilla 'galette'

This weeks TWD recipe for a summer fruit galette was chosen by Michelle at Michelle in Colorado Springs.

I approached the recipe in somewhat topsy turvy manner... not being summer here in NZ we had 2 ripe pears in the fruit bowl this week, and pears and custard are so good together. Pears, custard and almonds are also good together, so I added a bit of a frangipane theme to things. To stretch my two pears a little further instead of making a galette I made a small tart shell which I blind baked.

Going the tart route I switched the cracker crumbs for (quite a few) toasted ground almonds and my custard became almost like a frangipane mixture. The pear and vanilla jam went on the top instead to glaze the sliced almonds.

I had been looking forward to trying Dorie's recipe for good for everything pie dough, so was annoyed at myself for undercooking the base of this - the sides however lived up to expectation and were lovely and crisp. This was delicious. Next time I will try making it as a galette pairing the custard with its other good friend - rhubarb.

cute carrots, chicken, cider

I have not been very disciplined with thinning out my carrot patch. The idea of of pulling half of them out felt a bit wasteful, albeit in order to give the others room to grow. I finally tackled it last weekend, the result being a nice wee bunch of baby carrots for the pot. They are so cute it seemed a bit of a shame to eat them. Some were so cute ie.tiny that we actually couldn't eat them.

The little carrots were added to our Sunday night dinner...chicken braised in cider with bacon and apples. Based on a Judith Cullen recipe this was pretty good. We soaked up the braising juice with the leftover sourdough but I think it woud be vey good with very crunchy little roasted potatoes.

chicken braised in cider with spring vegetables - for 2
4 chicken thighs, halved (boneless)
4 baby onions or shallots, halved with root intact
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 c cider
1 c chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 rashers bacon
1 apple, peeled and wedged
1 c baby peas
1 handful baby carrots, blanched
Brown the seasoned chicken in a pan with some oil, then remove. Add the onions and garlic and cook to soften, allowing the onions to caramelise a little. I poured bit of cider over them each time they looked like they may burn and let it reduce down. Add the bacon and apples to the pan and continue cooking to caramelise the apples. Add the rest of the cider and the stock along with the bay leaf. Cover and simmer gently for twenty minutes. Add the peas and carrots and simmer another ten minutes until tender and they will have soaked up the flavoursome braising liquid.

West Coast Sourdough

Here is my weekend attempt at making sourdough bread. Created from a 'mature' West Coast bug this bread was delicious, despite my misgivings when the dough stuck to the teatowel when I tried to remove it from the proving bowl, deflating considerably....the long proving time added to the flavour I think. I used a blend of stoneground organic white, wholemeal and rye flours which gave it a lovely nutty flavour. I am going to try and make this once a week and next time will try adding a few grains to it.
It is a bit of a labour of love but the flavour and texture is well worth it!
600g strong flour
50g stoneground wholemeal flour
50g rye flour
260g starter (beg, brorrow or steal this bit...)
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 tsp salt
500ml cold water
pinch dried yeast
Combine all together in a large bowl, it will be quite wet. Knead (hand or mixer) until it forms an elastic dough, do not add extra flour unless absolutely necessary. Place the dough in an oiled bowl (well oiled as will stick!) and leave a few hours to double in size. Fold it back on itself a few times then cover an leave another hour. Gently tip onto a floured bench and cover, leave 20 minutes, shape into 2 tight rounds. Place each of these into a proving basket (I use a teatowel liberally covered with flour which I centre the dough on, then place this into a stainless steel bowl, wrapping the edges of the teatowel over the top of it - you must use a LOT of flour!) Leave another hour then place in the fridge to prove slowly overnight.
The next morning bring out and leave at room temperature for a couple of hours before baking on a preheated pizza stone in a 250c oven for fifteen minutes then turn it down to 220c for another ten minutes or until well cooked and hollow sounding when tapped. A roasting tray of water in the base of the oven helps a thick chewy crust form.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

pear, date and ginger cobbler

TWD this week = Cherry and rhubarb cobbler, chosen by Amanda from Like sprinkles on a cupcake. Owning neither cherries nor rhubarb at this point in time I substituted pears with a handful of dates for good measure, seeing as they go so perfectly with ginger. Not being a cobbler lover I was surprised to quite enjoy this.

After the last cobbler attempt was so bland I decided to add a topping of brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger to the top of the cobbler so it had a nice crunchy sugary crust, and upped the ginger in the dough. This called for a generous pour of yoghurt, hence the pool of it in the pic below...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

classic culinary literature

My lucky find in a charity book sale today, an Alison Holst treasure circa 1967 for the bargain price of $2. Love it.
My vintage cookbook collection is growing slowly but surely...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

a teacup of heaven

The TWD recipe this week is Chocolate Pudding, and was chosen by Melissa from Its Melissas Kitchen and I suggest you visit her blog immediately to obtain the recipe!!
This pudding is divine. The plain jane name comes nowhere near doing this pudding justice, and lacking a picture in the book this is one recipe I would never have been inspired to try without the prodding of TWD. It is like a dense chocolate mousse (I am not into 'fluffy' chocolate mousse) and has the perfect balance of chocolate/cream/sugar so that it is not cloying or overly rich. It has a superb smooth velvety texture and tastes like it should be a lot naughtier than it actually is.
I halved the recipe and still used a whole egg plus the extra yolk. No full fat milk so I figured a splash of cream and some skinny milk would suffice. Dark chocolate with 72% cocoa. I made two generous teacups of pudding, the first of which was devoured spoonful at a time while it was trying to set in the fridge. This is addictive! The second one had been left alone to chill for a couple of days and was even more delicious, the texture was much denser. I ate this one with a spoonful of sour cream which worked beautifully.
Love it and this one shall be reappearing on the menu again soon, just need to figure out a more enhancing name!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

spud scones

To have with our soup this evening - the most divine cheese and potato scones! Adapted from the recipe at Jafa Cafe in Auckland, these are a must try.

The scone dough is quite thin and more of a pastry/crust around the oozing filling, these scones would actually be equally good made calzone style and served in wedges. The filling could easily be adapted to suit what is lurking in the fridge needing to be used up.

I think the texture of the potato makes a difference - a rough mash rather than a smooth puree gives the filling its light texture. My filling was quite wet so oozed out a bit from the scone which made them even more delicious, providing a soft and gooey contrast with the crisp crust...

cheese and potato scones


300g potato, boiled, roughly mashed and cooled
1 spring onion, finely diced
1 handful rocket or baby spinach or chopped fresh herbs
1 handful grated Parmesan

1 handful chopped ham
1/2 c cheese, grated
s&p to taste
2 tbsp milk

Combine all ingredients. Add a little more milk if the spuds are dryish, you want the mixture to be a little wet (not sloppy though) so the filling has lovely creamy texture

1/2 c cheese (extra)

scone dough

200g flour
75g butter
1/2 tsp baking powder (correct, they are not meant to rise much!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp caster sugar
100ml milk

Rub butter into flour, add milk and gently combine to form a soft dough. Roll out into a large rectangle on a floured bench and cut in half. Beat 1 egg and add a little milk to make egg wash, brush one piece of the scone dough with this. Sprinkle 1/2 of the extra cheese over the same half of the dough. Spread over the filling mixture, then sprinkle with the last 1/2 of the cheese. Place the other piece of dough over the filling.

Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, can add extra cheese on top too if you like. Cut into 6 large squares and bake at 200c for 15 minutes, eat while warm!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

a warm winter salad

I pulled out a recipe a few weeks ago from the Sunday paper for a nice looking chicken salad...chicken that has been marinated and roasted in apple syrup and wholegrain mustard tossed with sliced crisp red apple, toasted walnuts, crumbled aged cheddar and rocket leaves with an apple vinaigrette. This salad was a very easy and tasty dinner. It made a nice change from the heavier wintery comfort food-style dinners that are so appealing when the weather first starts to cool but the novelty of which tends to wear thin after a while!

Warm chicken salad with apple, walnuts and cheddar (for 2)
4 chicken thighs
2 tbsp apple syrup
2 tbsp grainy mustard
Marinade chicken in syrup and mustard overnight. Roast chicken at 180c for 20 minutes or until cooked.
While still warm gently tear into pieces and toss with handfuls of rocket, a sliced apple (make sure it is nice and crisp!) toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds, and scatter with some crumbly aged cheddar. Make a vinaigrette with 1 tbsp each of apple syrup, cider vinegar and rice bran oil and gently toss through the salad ingredients.

blueberry pie raincheck

You may have noticed that Dorie hasn't featured yet this week with TWD....the recipe being for a lovely looking Blueberry Pie. Last week I seemed to have on hand all of the components (ie. an excess of ripe bananas, toffee sauce) for banoffee pie ...and with a banoffee pie fiend in the house it seemed appropriate. I will definitely try the blueberry pie next time I have some berries to hand. You can check out how the blueberry pies turned out here, it looks like a goodie. In the meantime here was our banoffee substitute. The topping is half cream, half sour cream and the bottom is a cookie crumb meringue cake with dark chocolate and toasted almonds.

Meringue cake with dark chocolate and almonds
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
250g sliced almonds, toasted and roughly crushed/processed
250g plain sweet cookie crumbs, crushed
100g dark chocolate, melted
Beat egg whites until stiff, gradually incorporate sugar as you would making meringue. Beat until the mixture is glossy. Gently fold in the crushed cookie crumbs and almonds. Pour in the melted chocolate and gently swirl into the mixture. Pour into a cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake at 170c for 30 minutes or so. This is also lovely topped with softly whipped cream and seasonal fruit and served in wedges like a pavlova.

tea for two

A while ago I discovered the Truly Scrumptious Knitted Food website, where they sell patterns for knitted food of all kinds, including tea cosies. Well worth a look just to see the extensive range of knitted food on offer! I chose the hot pink cupcake tea cosy pattern, which was duly emailed through to me and soon after dispatched with materials to a local granny knitting extraordinaire to undertake the task of creating. Last week amidst the wild weather Anna and I sat down to a cup of tea and a selection of pastries from the local bakery...special treats made only once a week.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

cheese, apple, quince

I love trying out new scone recipes, so this weeks TWD recipe for Cheddar and Apple scones, chosen by Karina from The Floured Apron by was right up my alley.

These are very, very good! Admittedly I struggled to taste the (chopped, dried) apple in them, and using vintage cheddar probably helped elevate these scones to further greatness. Texture wise these scones are extremely light and flaky with quite a 'short' crumb. The small amount of polenta in the dough added a subtle but distictive crispness to the crust.

Next time I would perhaps try this recipe without the apple to see if it does in fact add a subtle something to the flavour. I think it was worth using a strong cheddar, it meant the scones had a good strong cheese flavour but without that slightly greasy texture that a larger quantity of cheese can contribute.

They are definitely best devoured minutes after coming out of the oven, the leftover scone I reheated in the sandwich press the next day came nowhere near the freshly baked experience. I made a full batch and froze half, so will try baking from frozen next time I feel a cheese scone craving comes on...

A spoonful of Moutere Gold Quince Jelly took these to scone perfection.