Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The great broad bean bake-off

I must admit, I have never been a fan of broad beans. Dad however, has always been a most devoted follower of the bean. Growing up I would politely decline a serving of the insipid vegetable and yet they would still appear piled high on my plate. These would quickly be transferred to Dad’s plate, and he would delight in a lengthy rhetoric along the lines of ‘you people don’t appreciate good food...’

In recent years, I have learnt that when the skin is removed, the vibrant green bean inside is actually quite tasty. So when I discovered Dad proudly preparing the broad beans Mum had loving grown for him, I thought the opportunity had come to rewrite the childhood memories and make something delicious with them. I consulted our food expert, Rebecca, on how best to prepare and serve them. However, Dad wasn’t having a bar of this ‘It’s all about history you see… we shall have the broad beans simple, the way we always have’ and ‘you buggers leave my beans alone!’

On Rebecca’s suggestion it was decided we could have a cook off – and see which style of broad bean was most popular. After intense negotiations, Dad reluctantly allocated me 1/2 of his precious bean harvest to serve as I like, and the remainder would be prepared by Dad – using the boil then serve method.

Below are the pictures of our respective dishes, which I think speak for themselves!
Miriam's Broad Beans:
I prepared my dish by blanching the beans and peeling the outer layer off each one. I also blanched some asparagus, and made a salad with the beans, asparagus, fresh mint, feta, and a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.

Gearad's Broad Beans:
Dad prepared his beans by 'bringing a little salted water to the boil, then dropping the beans in for 4 minutes and 59 seconds and serving with a little bit of freshly ground pepper and a soupcon of love.'

Mum diplomatically pronounced the home grown beans the winner – I guess she values her marriage!

Lime and mango cake

I planned on making a favourite tried and true lemon yoghurt cake this morning
But while reading through Bill Granger Holiday I discovered a similar recipe for Lime and Mango Cake which sounded nice and suited the almost tropical weather we’ve had lately.

The recipe annoyed me a bit in that everything was in weights rather than cups, so I’ve converted it for your convenience. Unlike the lemon yoghurt cake, it uses butter rather than oil, so not quite as quick to make, but still pretty simple.

I took a risk and left the cake unattended while I popped out with the family to look at an open home down the road. Realising we’d been away for 40 minutes, Dad was sent home to removed the cake from the oven, unfortunately, the top of the cake had got slightly burnt. However, I cut away the burnt bits, and was liberal with the icing, so the cake was able to be salvaged.

I served the cake with some passionfruit Piako yoghurt The cake was good, nice and moist and the mango was soft and delicious. I didn’t feel the lime flavour came through very much, except in the lime icing which really lifted the cake – next time I would add extra zest and maybe some juice to the mixture too. Actually next time I think I would use Alison Holst’s lemon yoghurt cake recipe, but substitute the lemon with lime and mango.

The cake is presented on the Family's precious Royal Doulton Wild Pansy china (thanks David for your continued efforts to ensure there's a complete collection).

Lime and Mango Cake – from Bill Granger's book Holiday

300g (2 1/3 cups) plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder
180g unsalted butter, softened and roughly diced
250g (1 ¼ cups) caster sugar
1½ tsp finely grated lime zest
4 eggs
200ml (1 cup) plain yogurt
1 large mango, diced

For the lime icing
185g (6½ oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar
2tbsp lime juice
1tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (325°F/gas mark 3) and grease a 26cm (10½ inch) ring tin. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Beat together the butter, sugar and lime zest until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, alternating with the yogurt, in two batches. Gently fold the mango through the batter and pour into the tin, smoothing the surface. Bake for 45 mins or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the lime icing. Beat together all the ingredients for 30 secs, or until smooth. The icing should be of a pouring consistency. If the icing is too thick, add a touch more lime juice
When the cake is baked, leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle generously with lime icing and decorate with shredded lime zest.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Indian feast

Yesterday I spent the day in Waikanae with my friends Anna, Tim and Charlotte. For dinner we hoped to have crab curry. Charlotte and Tim our hunter gatherers set forth into the ocean with hearts full of hope and a crab pot loaded up with squid.

After 45 minutes of eager anticipation, the crab pot was retrieved from the sea to reveal a total yield of one medium sized crab and one runt. Tim decided we couldn’t justify sacrificing two crabs, so the lucky pair were set free and they quickly scurried back into the ocean.

To ease our disappointment Anna whipped up an Indian banquet – home made naan bread, chicken curry, carrots and baingan ki sabji eggplant curry with raita. It was a delicious feast and totally made up for the lack of crab!

Below are the recipes courtesy of Anna:

Naan bread (modified from Annabel Langbein recipe):
1 c warm water
1 t yeast
1 t sugar
3 c flour + more
Yoghurt – ½ cup or less if you want to save some for the curry or raita

Mix water, sugar and yeast and leave for at least 5 minutes to foam. Then beat egg and add egg, salt (which I always forget), oil (or melted butter) and some yoghurt to the water mixture, stir briefly and add the flour. Stir in, get your hands all gluey and get someone to pour some flour on to the bench for you. Tip on to bench and knead away, for as long as it takes everyone else to get the crab pot ready and handle the squid (or until it is nice and soft and round). Leave to rise in oiled/buttered bowl.

Take slightly bigger than gold ball size balls and roll out thin. The thinner you get them the more they will puff. Heat grill (or get tandoor oven hot) and cook a couple at a time, watching for burning as they puff up against the surface of the grill.

Grated carrots
Cumin seeds
Lemon juice
Combine quantities for look and taste.

Chicken curry
Chicken (a whole one cut up – more flavor with the bones and better value for money) or pieces if you prefer
Garlic - a few cloves – to suit really – chopped finely
Ginger - a centimetre knob chopped finely
Chillis – to suit. I usually start with one and then add more flakes
Ground tumeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, pepper (can also use curry powder) – just dumped in to taste but about a teaspoon of the first three spices and a little bit of cinnamon
Tomatoes – can or fresh but then you have to skin them (see why use canned)
Red lentils
Green Veg
Garam Masala
More chilli

Cut up whole chicken. Brown in a little oil and then take out of the pan. Add a little more oil (or butter or ghee) and slowly soften finely chopped onion. When it looks good add garlic, ginger and chillis finely chopped. Soften, stirring and not burning.

Add spices and fry briefly. Put chicken back in the pan and fry, then add tomatoes, lentils and water. Just make sure there is enough water for the lentils – you can always simmer it off. Simmer away for awhile covered until the chicken is cooked and the lentils are soft – the longer the better. Taste and season as required. Add some green veg – I usually use silverbeet, spinach or green peas. Add approx 1t of garam masala. Simmer, taste for as long as desired. Take off heat, stir in a dollop of cream or yoghurt and sprinkle with coriander.

Additional comments – many people toast seeds in the oven and grind with mortar and pestle for fuller flavor. You can also use a few mustard seeds in this with the spices.

Baingan Ki Sabji (eggplant & red chilli curry)
From Cuisine Magazine Jan 2010
2 tablespoons tamarind block
1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons ghee
8 curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 long red chillies, sliced lengthways into quarters
1 teaspoon gram masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely sliced mint leaves

Soak the tamarind in 2 tablespoons boiling water for 20 minutes. Push through a fine sieve and set aside. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 8 wedges then cut each wedge in half. Heat a wide saucepan over moderate heat and add the ghee. When melted, add the curry leaves and cumin seeds, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the eggplant and brown each wedge on all sides. Add the chillies, garam masala and salt, and cook for 5 minutes or until eggplant is soft then add the strained tamarind, stir through, add the shredded mint and serve immediately.

Cucumber chopped finely
Mint chopped finely
combine all above ingredients and serve with curry

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A delicious bundt cake

I bought a Bundt pan a few weeks ago and hadn't used it yet. I found a recipe in Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan for this Brown Sugar Bundt Cake and decided to make it because it contains my favourite dried fruit: prunes.

I mostly followed the recipe but didn't have buttermilk so used half yogurt and half milk. And I hate almond essence so left it out. I wasn't sure if the oven at my new place would be up to baking such a dense cake but it was fine – the heavy cast aluminium Bundt pan helped evenly distribute heat.

I was a little worried the cake might not come out of the pan easily so greased and floured the pan but I think I over-did it. Next time I will just spray it with cooking spray as it has a good non-stick surface.

It is a delicious cake, quite moist with the fruit and ground almonds but I think it could do with more fruit, especially prunes. I added extra but think you could add at least a cup, if not two. But maybe that's just because I love them!

It would also be lovely made with apples and sultanas or rhubarb and ginger instead of pears and prunes.

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. ground almonds (or 1/4 c. more all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c. (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract (optional)
1 c. buttermilk, at room temperature (I used half milk/half yogurt)
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 c. moist, plump prunes, snipped into 1/4-inch pieces
Icing sugar, for dusting

Getting Ready:
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 12 cup Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, nuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract, if you're using it. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately - add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. With a rubber spatula, stir in the pears and prunes. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted deep into the centre of the cake comes out clean. (If the cake looks as if it's browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a foil tent.) Cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a rack.

When you are ready to serve, dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the quest for brownie perfection...

I love brownies, and always like to try new recipes for them, ever searching for the 'perfect' brownie recipe - which in my view would replicate the divine raspberry and white chocolate version sold at Traiteur in Christchurch. These are ultra gooey, with a ganache like centre and beg to be eaten slowly with a strong espresso...

This brownie recipe won the 'Grand Champion' prize in the recent 'NZ's favourite recipe' competition and contains pretty shocking amounts of butter and sugar etc but to be fair it does make a huge trayful. I made the 'flash' version with frozen raspberries, an essential ingredient to a good brownie if you ask me, to cut through the sweetness.

As with all brownies the edges unavoidably ended up more well done than the gooey centre. You can see in the picture that the chopped dark chocolate sank to the bottom, while the frozen raspberrries which get sprinkled on at the end stayed on top, creating a kind of layered effect that was quite nice albeit unintentional.

All in all these brownies were pretty good - very fudgy and dark thanks to plenty of cocoa. Easy to make too with no chocolate melting required - and I dare say they would be delicious made without the chopped chocolate through them too.

The roasting tray was duly divided up and samples travelled north to Wellington and Auckland - grateful recipients feel free to add a comment with your opinion...You can find the brownie recipe by clicking here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The first of many....

Today’s an inside kind of day in Wellington, so there’s no excuse for not starting up this much talked about blog! Hopefully my post will now inspire my fellow bloggers, Becky & Libby to also start posting.

I though I’d try out Blueberry Sour Cream Slice from my new cookbook A Treasury of New Zealand Baking.

The slice was delicious and I will certainly make it again. I used a slightly larger tin (due to a lack of appropriately sized tins in the cupboard) - next time I’ll stick to the recommended size, as I would have preferred the slice to be a little bit higher. I’m not sure if I’ll use the redcurrant jelly glaze again, as I quite like the finish without it.

Blueberry Sour Cream Slice

125g butter
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup standard flour
1 tsp baking powder
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod (I used 1 tsp vanilla paste)
2 cups blueberries fresh or frozen
2 cups sour cream
½ cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly, melted

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 25x15 cm baking dish. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, the fold in flour, baking powder and vanilla. Spread the batter over the base of the prepared tin. Pile the blueberries on top. Beat together the sour cream, sugar and egg yolks. Pour this mixture over the blueberries. Bake for 55-60 mins, or until set. When cool, melt redcurrant jelly in the microwave and brush on to glaze Cut into squares and serve at room temperature.

I also made some tasty cheese straws using an adaptation from an Alison Holst recipe.

Cheese Straws

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g cold butter
½ cup grated tasty cheese
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-2 tbsp cold water

Combine all ingredients except water in a food processor. Slowly add just enough water to dampen the mixture until it comes together. Roll out thinly and cut into shapes or long sticks. Cook at 200C for 5-10 minutes until golden watching carefully as they can burn quickly.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...