Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Libby: my favourite website at the moment is http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/ its the best place to buy cookbooks! They have almost any title you could ever want and the prices are fantastic - especially with the current exchange rate. So far I've bought Ottolenghi & the Bourke Street Bakery books and my wishlist is growing... its a highly addictive website and many hours can be spent browsing.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Before going to sleep I've been flicking through the cookbooks I haven't cooked from in awhile looking for new ideas. I came across ham and gruyere French toast in Bill Granger's Bill's Open Kitchen and decided to make them this morning for a weekend treat.
For two sandwiches:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cut two fat slices of white bread from a loaf and carefully cut a pocket into each slice. Spread the inside with a little Dijon mustard and fill with shaved ham and slices of gruyere cheese.
Beat two eggs with 1/3 cup of milk and a pinch of salt. Place sandwiches into a shallow tray and pour over egg mixture, soak for a few minutes, turning once during this time.
While the sandwiches are soaking heat a heavy frying pan over a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and place the sandwiches in the pan. Cook for 2-3 of minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and put into the hot oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through.
Slice in half and serve!
Next time I make French toast this way I might try a different filling... maybe tomato and mozzarella or feta and baby spinach.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I must admit this recipe wasn't orignally on my want-to-make list from this book. Of all the contributors in the Treasury David Burton seems to have provided the most austere offerings, with his recipes all looking like something NZ housewives would have rustled up during frugal war times. Rock cakes do seem like the poor unfashionable cousin to the glammed up cupcake that is currently in vogue. However the other day I felt like baking something a little restrained, so rock cakes it was.
2 c flour
1 c sugar (They were quite sweet, next time I would do 3/4c)
2 tbsp baking powder
Use two spoons to place rough heaps of dough onto the trays. Bake for around 15 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through cooking until the cakes are golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Ottolenghi is a cafe - actually now a group of cafes - in London that produce deliciously creative food. I have never been there, but have had their first cookbook, Ottolenghi:The Cookbook, for a while now and recently gave Sarah their second book Plenty for her birthday.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
I think this chocolate fudge cake is the most chocolatey chocolate cake I have ever eaten! It's from the beautiful Ottolenghi cookbook. I took it to a friends place for dessert and everyone seemed to enjoy it (some even went back for a second slice) but it did leave most of us feeling slightly ill. Not surprising as it consists of little more than sugar, butter, two types of chocolate and eggs.
I baked the cake in two stages as per the recipe as it was meant to result in two layers: one firmer and more cakey, the other moussy. I wasn't able to distinguish any layers in my cake. If making again I would just bake the cake in one go (this option is also offered in the recipe). It would save a couple of hours of time as you have to wait for the first layer to cool before pouring the second layer on top and baking again.
We ate the cake with softly whipped cream with raspberries folded through as in the raspberry cheesecake brownie recipe. Fresh raspberries would be perfect with this cake if available or some of Bec's berry ice cream as the whipped cream just added to the richness.
A delicious, but incredibly rich cake.
Chocolate fudge cake
240g unsalted butter, cubed
265g dark chocolate (52 percent cocoa solids), chopped
95g dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids), chopped
290g light muscovado sugar
4 tbsp water
5 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
cocoa powder for dusting
Place chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl large enough to accommodate the entire mix. Put the brown sugar and water into a saucepan, stir to mix and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Pour the boiling syrup over the butter and chocolate and stir well until melted. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Set aside until it cools to room temperature.
Beat egg whites and salt to a firm but not dry meringue. Fold into chocolate mixture a third at a time until incorporated.
Pour two thirds of the mixture (about 800g) into a greased, lined 20cm springform tin. Leave the rest of the batter until later. Bake at 170 degrees C for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
Flatten the top of the cake with a palette knife. Pour the rest of the batter on top and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes. The cake should have moist crumbs when checked with a skewer. Leave to cool completely in tin before removing. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.
The cake will keep, covered, at room temperature for 4 days.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This dense, spicy cake is almost like sticky date pudding but with cream cheese icing instead of toffee sauce. I didn't have much mixed spice so added some extra cinnamon, ginger and cloves. I was also short on caster sugar so used a mix of caster and brown sugars. A dusting of icing sugar or (as suggested in the recipe) lemon icing would make a lighter alternative to cream cheese icing.
I'd make this cake again, but probably not until we've got through some of the other date recipes in the book. A Treasury of New Zealand Baking seems to have more than it's fair share of recipes featuring dates, including two cakes quite similar to this spiced date cake.
The recipe says the un-iced cake will keep for 4 days in an air-tight container but as I iced the whole thing so it needed to be eaten within a couple of days. I made it on Sunday and took the rest into work for morning tea on Monday. There was already an enormous carrot cake in honour of a birthday so I put the date cake in the fridge for morning tea the following day. When I opened the fridge the next morning there was one lonely slice left on the plate! I hope whoever ate it enjoyed it!
Spiced date cake - Catherine Bell (Week 13)
250g pitted dates, roughly chopped
1 tsp baking soda
125ml boiling water
110g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
50g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Place dates and baking soda in a bowl and pour over boiling water, soak for 30 minutes and cool.
Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor until pale. Add egg and beat well.
Combine flour, baking powder and mixed spice and tip them into a food processor, with the dates & liquid and pulse until just combined.
Pour into greased & lined 20cm cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes (or until cake is golden and a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. Cool in tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack.
To make icing, beat all ingredients until white and fluffy. Spread icing over cooled cake and dust with cinnamon.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
I have never made belgian biscuits before, having had an aversion to jam for much of my life. I can still recall the crushing disappointment as a child upon discovering a birthday cake - clearly not mine - had been sandwiched together with jam or even worse, had a layer of it sneakily tucked under the chocolate icing. I would have to carefully pick around the jam, forfeit the icing or else abandon the cake altogether if it appeared to be too contaminated.
So perhaps that is why belgian biscuits passed me by? I have to some extent overcome my dislike of jam, although I still think the best place for it is on a freshly baked scone or pikelet and sitting beside some whipped cream. I would never eat it on toast. However after trying my first ever belgian biscuit I may be a convert to other applications for it.
My belgian biscuits were inspired by Libby, who made some using the Ladies, A Plate recipe and suggested I tried Edmonds but with the addition of some cocoa for colour. They were actually surprisingly quick to make, considering they do look rather impressive and fiddly, as I think does any baked good that requires 'sandwiching together'. I loved their pretty pink tops.
125g butter, softened
1/4 c brown sugar
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cocoa (not in Edmonds recipe)
to fill and ice -
1/2 c icing sugar
few drops of raspberry essence and red food colouring
enough hot water to make a spreadable icing
pink jelly crystals or other sprinkles
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until it forms a firm dough.
Roll dough out (I always do this between 2 sheets of gladwrap, to save having to flour the bench and dry out the dough too much...) and use a cookie cutter to stamp out rounds. Bake at 180c for about 15 minutes.
Cool, sandwich together with a little jam, top with a spoonful of icing and sprinkle with the jelly crystals or other sprinkles that take your fancy.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I have been eyeing up these biscuits ever since I first flicked through ATONZB. So a rainy queens birthday seemed like a good time to give them a go. In the intro to the recipe, Al Brown says these are seriously x-rated adult cookies and he makes a bach to take camping each summer. And I can see why. They are so decadent, you need to have had a day of outdoor activity to justify eating them.The recipe is relatively straight forward. I cut down the admin a bit with the chocolate filling by melting the chocolate in the microwave then stirring in the cream - I don't think it suffered too much for my corner cutting. I halved the mixture, which produced about 30 cookies - or 15 once they'd been sandwiched together. I will definitely make these again, but might try making mini ones, as its quite a mission to get through a whole one!
Classic Chocolate-chip Cookie Sandwich - week 11 (Al Brown)
2 1/4 cups standard flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
250g semi-sweet chocolate (preferably buttons)
Preheat oven to 190C. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla until creamy and light. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well Stir in the chocolate chips. Roll pieces of cookie dough into a ball and place on an ungreased baking tray. Press out to 5cm in diameter. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
To make the chocolate filling, place the chocolate in a bowl with the cream. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure no water gets in the bowl. Melt them together until fully incorporated. Pour into a suitable container and set in the fridge. This will take approximately 40 minutes.
Once the filling is set, warm to a temperature that is just pipeable. Pipe the desired amount onto one cookie and press another cookie onto it. Repeat until all the cookies are sandwiched.
Al Brown recommends you eat these with a glass of ice-cold full-cream milk.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The waffles were served with a choice of vanilla bean or cinnamon dusting sugar. Scrumptious!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Becs: I think most of us have good intentions of eating more fish, but it can be difficult to source good quality, fresh fish. Let's face it, most supermarket fish counters leave a lot to be desired, and good fishmongers can be few and far between. Homefresh Deliveries is a Christchurch based business that make it easy to eat more fish. They deliver fresh fish to your door once a week, in our case each Tuesday. You fill in a form when you sign up with them ranking your fish preferences, so they never deliver anything you dislike, but what turns up in your reusable chilly bin each week is a complete surprise. It is such a great way to eat a wide variety of fish, and a challenge to cook it creatively.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
This salad is great for lunch, being both delicious and nutritious. And the lovely mixture of colours makes it especially attractive. I was the envy of everyone in the lunch room! Here's the recipe:
Camargue red rice and quinoa with orange and pistachios
(from Ottolenghi The Cookbook)
60g shelled pistachio nuts
200 Camargue red rice
1 medium onion, sliced
150ml olive oil
grated zest and juice of one orange
2 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 sprigs onions, thinly sliced
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 170C. Toast the pistachios for about 8 minutes until lightly coloured. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and then chop roughly. Set aside.
Fill 2 saucepans with salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer the quinoa in one for 12-14 minutes and the rice in the other for 20 minutes. Both should be tender but still have a bite. Drain in a sieve and spread out the 2 grains separately on a flat tray to hasten cooling.
While the grains are cooking, sauté the white onion in 4 tablespoons of olive oil for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Leave to cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl combine the rice, quinoa, cooked onion and the remaining oil. Add all the rest of the ingredients, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature.
This recipe jumped out at me when I first flipped through the Treasury. A shortbread recipe with ground almonds and big chunks of smashed up Crunchie bar. Yum. I have made these twice now, the second time with self raising flour as we had run out of regular flour. This resulted in chunky cookies rather than crisp shortbread, these were ok but rather ordinary, and I preferred the texture of the shortbread.
The second time I also used half chopped Crunchie bars and half chopped Crunchie bar chocolate block (you can see the difference on the chopping board below...) and it was better with the chopped bars as you get more honeycomb, which melts as they cook so provide a lovely toffee-ish crunch. It looks cool too.
This shortbread would be a fun recipe to make with kids, who I am sure would love to smash up the crunchie bar. Next time I make this (and there will definitely be a next time) I think I will double the recipe, in order to keep one roll of dough in the freezer for last minute baking.
Crunchie Bar Shortbreads - week 10 (Claire Aldous)
250g butter, softened
1 c icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp cornflour
70g (1 pkt) ground almonds
2 x 50g Crunchie bars
Preheat oven to 175c and line 2 trays with baking paper. Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Combine the remaining ingredients except the Crunchie bars, and add to the butter mix. Beat to combine.
Put the Crunchies in a plastic bag and crush roughly with a rolling pin. Gently mix this through the dough, taking care to not crush the larger pieces - you are after a range of sizes.
Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and flatten lightly with a fork. (I rolled the dough into a log, chilled it and then sliced it into rounds) Bake for 12 minutes, rotating trays halfway through to ensure even cooking. Leave shortbreads on the tray for 5 minutes to firm up before transferring to a rack to cool.
This makes about 24
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I use the Edmonds afghan recipe, but always use dutch cocoa, I think this makes a huge difference to the colour and taste of an afghan. I don't use regular cocoa now for anything, it is so pallid and dull compared to the dutched variety. (Which is a bargain to buy in 1kg bags at Moore Wilson!) Kellog's cornflakes are my preference too, other brands don't seem to have quite the same crunch. Libby likes to put Weet-Bix in hers.
The icing recipe I love to make comes from the book Ladies, a Plate, while it has a slightly unusual method I can honestly say it is the best chocolate icing recipe for afghans I have come across. It sets to a perfect fudgy consistency that melts in your mouth. The icing recipe make about twice what you will need for a batch of afghans, but it will keep well in the fridge for next time. While on the topic of Ladies, a Plate, if you visit this link you can sign up to their monthly newsletter with recipes, the May edition features some goodies I am quite keen to try.
Afghans by Edmonds
200g butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c cocoa
2 c cornflakes
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and cocoa, finally fold in the cornflakes. Place spoonfuls on a lined tray and bake at 180c for around 15 minutes. Ice when cold, garnishing with a walnut half. (Make sure they are fresh NZ ones that have been toasted no less!)
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 c icing sugar
3 tbsp cocoa (dutch)
Heat the water, caster sugar and butter until the butter melts and simmer for a minute to form a syrup. Beating all the time, pour about 3/4 of the syrup onto the sifted cocoa and icing sugar, adding extra syrup if needed to make a thick fudgy icing.