Monday, April 30, 2012

A few of our favourite things...

Becs: I have been the fortunate recipient of lots of home grown quinces this year...aside from making a few jars of quince paste I have roasted most of them to serve with Posh Porridge.  The method I use is based on one from the Dunsandel Store Cookbook and is the easiest I have tried with minimal prep involved - quince are a pain to cut/core when raw.  Wash the quinces well, rubbing off the fuzz on their skin with a cloth. Cut in half or quarter if especially large and fill a large lined roasting tray.  Cover with a cup of sugar, and add an inch of water to the pan.  Cover with foil and bake at 150 C for 3 hours or so until tender.  Once cool it is easy to remove the skins and cores.  Pour the syrup into a saucepan and reduce until desired consistency and sweetness.  These can be preserved in jars or frozen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

a few of our favourite things

Miriam:  When I was at Libby's a couple of months ago, I admired her recipe book stand, and so (with Libby's blessing) ordered one of my own too.  Coincidentally, I had recently bought a clock made by the same designer and Becs had independently bought a few items from the online store too.  Check out the Objectify store here for the full range.  The Ripe cookbook featured on my recipe book stand is another of my favourite things too - so many great recipes.

Libby: I don't usually have an "afternoon" tea break during the week while at work. It's not that I have a stressful job and am too busy to stop, it's just not a habit. But on the weekend I love to bake something nice and have it with a cup of real loose leaf tea. This weekend, inspired by Time for a Little Something I baked Scott's Farewell Square, (from Ladies A Plate).

Monday, April 16, 2012

a few of our favourite things...

Miriam: Whittaker's Chocolate has featured on Lovely Wee Days before, with their Berry & Biscuit and Ghana Peppermint both getting mentions. The peppermint is normally my favourite in their range, but now this Peanut Butter is a close second. Worth a try if you're a fan of peanuts.

Becs: Well they wouldn't win any prizes at an A&P show, but they are plentiful and delicious!  My crop of tomatoes this year has suffered from watering restrictions, a poor summer, and general neglect. Despite this I have been picking a good haul every few days.  My enthusiasm for preserving has waned a bit by now, so I have moved onto the minimal effort option - roasted tomato sauce.  No recipe needed, just fill a few oven trays with roughly chopped tomatoes, sliced onions, peeled garlic and any other veg you have lying around.  I throw in a few sprigs of rosemary and some fresh bay leaves.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar.  Slow roast for a couple of hours at 160 c until the liquid is cooked out.  Blend up and freeze for a deliciously concentrated pasta sauce.

Friday, April 6, 2012

hot cross buns 2012

I use this hot cross bun recipe Libby discovered years ago, and posted last year. I have always found it to be an excellent recipe but had mixed results this year, and thought I would update the recipe with a few 'critical success factors' that improved them for me. Today's batch was perfect.

So here's the revised recipe for 2012, complete with a few tips...

- Don't be too heavy-handed with the fruit; too much produces a heavier bun

- Soaking the fruit overnight or at least for half an hour makes a huge difference, they are plumped up and delicious. I cover the fruit with boiling water, and grate in the lemon and orange zest at this stage too. (I always soak dried fruit for any kind of baking...or use some of the whisky soaked raisins I always keep in the fridge for the market)

- Using the water from the soaked fruit adds a nice sweetness to the buns, and helps them colour up well while baking, I always do this.

- When leaving the dough/buns to rise it should be covered tightly with clingfilm to produce the warm, humid conditions needed. A teatowel thrown over does not suffice; the dough will dry out and form a crust on the outside, preventing it from rising.

- Making the dough at night and leaving the shaped buns to rise somewhere cool for the 8 or so hours overnight will work in a pinch, but will always be heavier. Ideally let them rise somewhere warm for 1-2 hours; it gives a much lighter result.


100g raisins or sultanas
100g currants

Cover with boiling water and leave for an hour until plump, grate in the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon.

50g flour
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water                     

Combine in a small bowl leave for 10 minutes to go foamy.

500g flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp dutch cocoa (for depth of colour not flavour)
1 cup warm water
60g butter, cubed

Combine flour, salt, spices and 10g of the butter. Mix well and add the warm water (you can use the water from the soaked fruit). Knead for about five minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Add extra flour if needed.

Gradually add the remaining butter bit by bit, kneading it into the dough. At this stage I sometimes add a third of the drained dried fruit.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes then mix in the dried fruit and citrus zest. Add extra flour as necessary - you want the dough to be smooth and satin-y.

Cover with gladwrap and leave to rise for an hour or so.

Shape into 12 buns (weigh them if you want to be exact!) and leave to rise until doubled in size on a tray or in a shallow tin.

In the morning, make a paste with 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1tbsp oil and enough water to make a smooth paste (about 2-3 tbsp).

Using a piping bag, pipe crosses onto the buns then put them into the over for 20-25 mins at 190 degrees Celsius. While they are baking, prepare a glaze with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of boiling water and stir until smooth - add a little orange zest or vanilla paste if you wish. When the buns are baked, place them onto a cooling rack and brush over the glaze.

Enjoy hot from the oven with real butter!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A few of our favourite things

Libby: Lately I've been making a delicious vinaigrette with capers and parmesan. It's basically this recipe by Julie Buiso, though I use red wine vinegar and the only thing I am precise about is the oil to vinegar ratio. As the recipe suggests it's ideal with a sturdy, bitter leaf like radicchio but it's such a tasty dressing it's also good with something plain like buttercrunch. 


Becs: I am a technology laggard at the best of times, so my recent purchase of a Kindle e-reader was quite proactive! I really enjoy reading and wasn't sure if reading this way would appeal so much, but I just love it. (I love its' snug new Cath Kidston case too...) Perhaps best of all, there is now no unfortunate lag between books when I lament the lack of reading material. A new book is just the press of a button away via my amazon account.
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