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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Home Made Fresh Curd Cheese

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I have made this fresh curd cheese three times this week. Having never made it before, I was keen to perfect the technique. It’s important to use full cream non-homogenized milk. This milk has a creamy top to it, has a lovely rich flavour and produces stronger curds which separate from the whey quite distinctly.

It’s important to use a thermometer and watch the temperature keenly. The magic number is 80 degrees C.

This recipe is based on that of Paul West from River Cottage Australia.

Ingredients
2 litres of full  cream non-homonogenized milk – the fresher the better

1/2 tsp of salt

1 cup cream (optional – will produce a creamier cheese, I have made the cheese with and without the cream)

1/4 cup cider or white wine vinegar

Method
Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the 2 litres of milk in a large saucepan. Add the cream also if you want a creamier mix.

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Heat the milk slowly over medium heat to 80 degrees C. Measure the vinegar.IMG_4818

As soon as the milk reaches temperature, add the vinegar. Give it a gentle stir but be careful not to stir too much as this will result in a squeaky curd. Agitate it just enough to incorporate the vinegar into the milk. You should see the curds start to separate from the whey and move to the top of the saucepan.

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Leave for about for about 5 minutes, and watch for any cracks that start to form or any swelling bubbles about to pop on the surface of the pan. You want to maintain the temperature at just below boiling point so pour a small amount of cold water into those spots as you see them pop up.

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Remove the pan from the heat. It should now be done, and have a clear separation between the green-ish colored whey and the curds. The curd is the cheese.

Pour the mixture carefully into a colander or sieve, lined with muslin, set over a large bowl. The whey will drain into the bowl, leaving behind the fresh curd in the colander or sieve.

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Once you have all of the curd in the colander or sieve, set it aside to cool and finish draining to your desired consistency. To facilitate the draining I tied the muslin cloth and gently squeezed the whey from the muslin bag. This is not strictly necessary – it just sped up the process.

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Refrigerate in a container with as little air as possible. Or you can cover with olive oil in a container if you are going to use the cheese in a savoury way.

Use the cheese as you would ricotta. The Fresh Curd Cake in the previous post is a fantastic use of the cheese.

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Fresh Curd Cake with Strawberry Conserve

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Recently I viewed an episode of River Cottage Australia in which Paul West made fresh curd cheese. He then turned it into a kind of cheesecake.

Making the cheese was fun and very satisfying! And lovely to make the cheesecake from my very own curd!

I found the recipe for fresh curd very easy to follow, but from reading a few online recipes, I discovered that you need to use non homogenized milk. The milk is a lot creamier and makes it easier to separate the curds from the whey.

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/18613/fresh-curd

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Fresh Curd Cake

Ingredients

I kg fresh curd

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup cream

4 large free-range eggs

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla paste

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 25cm spring form tin with baking paper.

Place the curd, sugar and cream in the bowl of a food processer and process until smooth.

Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla paste and process until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown and the mixture is set. Timing will depend on the heat of your particular oven.

Serve warm or at room temperature, but not cold, with any kind of fresh or cooked fruit.

I used my own strawberry conserve, as the syrup was a nice sweet counterpoint to the creaminess of the cheese.

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/09/06/strawberry-conserve/

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Hunter Valley Bush Retreat – Shakey Tables

Early 25 September 2013 at Shakey Tables in the Hunter Valley NSW. A crisp morning before the unseasonable heat of the day…

The light, the reflections and the nesting goose were the reward for an early ramble.

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Cakes, Cookies and Slices – Baking for the Class of 2013

IMG_4577 2So it’s good bye to my young friends who provided such inspiration for this quirky writer in her baking this year!

A wonderful and inspiring group, they have given me feedback and appreciation for my cakes, cookies and slices. Some of them are bakers too, and I wish them joy in their culinary and eating adventures!

Niki Ticki!

Here is a selection of the baking they inspired – and ate appreciatively! Use these titles in “Search” to find the recipes.

White Chocolate and Caramel Pecan Cookies with Sea Salt

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Vanilla Butter Cake with White Chocolate and Hundreds and Thousands

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White Chocolate and Cranberry Blondies

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Red Wine Pear and Almond Cake

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Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes

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Cookie Sampler

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Fancy Individual Cakes

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Decadent Brownies

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This recipe was given to me by a young friend. It’s absolutely decadent!

It’s a little like the Roman banquet concept: a live bird baked within a bird within a bird – with the mythical chirruping bird flying free at the end!

Or the contemporary and rather prosaic analogy would be the turducken

The recipe

Use your favourite chocolate brownie recipe and chocolate chip cookie recipe and buy a packet of Oreo cookies.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Make your favourite brownie mixture and cookie mixture.

Line a large baking tin with baking paper and pour brownie mixture into the tin.

Place the tin with the brownie mixture into the oven. Cook for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Wrap the Oreo cookies in the chocolate chip cookie dough (make sure that none of Oreo cookies are showing).

Take the brownie mixture out of the oven (should still be runny) and place the cookie dough containing the Oreos into the brownie mixture. Make sure the cookies aren’t touching each other.

Place mixture back into the oven for a further 15 minutes (keep an eye on it as cooking time differs depending on oven power).

Decadent brownies photo

Test by inserting a skewer into the brownie mixture to see whether mixture is ready (it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit gooey as it continues to cook a little when out of the oven and it’s better to be a bit underdone than overcooked and dry). Remove from oven when you are happy with the set.

Cut into chunks when cool!

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Caramel Oat Cookies With Peanut Butter

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This recipe was recommended by a young friend from the blog Bakeaholic Mama. Here is the link:

http://www.bakeaholicmama.com/2013/05/brown-butter-oatmeal-cookies-filled.html

If you like really sweet cookies this recipe is for you. The salty peanut butter taste can be a bit disconcerting – but you could use less or leave it out I guess!

Ingredients

1/2 cup  butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup plain flour

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

6 jersey caramels

6 tsp peanut butter

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Melt butter on medium/low heat in a saucepan until it turns a nut brown colour – be careful not to burn. Remove from heat.

Mix sugars, egg and vanilla in a food processor.

Add browned butter and process again.

 Add oats, flour and baking powder and pulse briefly.

When the dough has come together, refrigerate for 20 minutes until dough is firm enough to form into balls.

Remove from refrigerator and roll into 12 equal sized balls. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, leaving about 5 cms between balls.

Push half a caramel into the centre of each cookie dough ball. Put half a teaspoon of peanut butter on the top of each caramel. Form the cookie dough roughly around the caramel/peanut butter.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are brown and cooked through.

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Jams, Marmalades and Conserves 2013

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Just a reminder to myself of some of my favourite preserves of the year!

Ingredients
1 kg cumquats,
1 kg white sugar
1 litre water

Method
Slice the cumquats thinly, removing the seeds, and put into a large suacepan.

Add the water, and bring to a rapid simmer, cooking until the fruit is soft, between 25 minutess to an hour. Check regularly after  25 minutes – if the fruit is a little tough still, leave for another 10 minutes, and then check again.

Once the fruit is soft, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached.

Testing for setting point
Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Take out a small saucer previously placed in the freezer, and spoon a little liquid onto the saucer, then return to the freezer for 1 minute. Push the marmalade along the plate with your finger. If setting point has been reached then the marmalade surface will wrinkle slightly and the marmalade won’t run back straight away. If it’s not at setting point, return to the heat and boil again for  a few more minutes (maximum 5 minutes) before re-testing. Repeat until setting point is reached.

Leave the marmalade to stand for 10 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars.

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Seville Orange Marmalade

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This is the last of the winter jam making. The season for Seville orange is almost over in September so when I was able to buy a few from my local greengrocer, I grabbed them.

Seville orange marmalade has a great set as the fruit is so full of pectin. However reaching setting point is tricky – undercook the mixture and you risk the set, overcook and the flavour caramelises. Careful timing and testing for set using the saucer in the freezer approach and you will achieve that lovely, bitter sweet jellied marmalade that is so much nicer than the bought variety!

Ingredients
5 Seville oranges (about 1kg)
10 cups water*
8 cups  sugar*

Method
Wash the oranges in hot water, then remove the peel with a vegetable peeler or a very sharp knife being careful not to cut the pith away as well. Cut the skin into thin slices, and put into a large saucepan.

Halve the oranges and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. Scoop the pulp into the saucepan too, reserving the pips. Tie the pips in a muslin bag and add to the pan.

Add the water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 -2 hours until the orange peel is tender.
The cooking time will be affected by how thickly you have cut the peel. To see if the peel is ready, pick out a thicker piece and press it between your thumb and finger. It should look slightly see-through and feel soft when you rub it.

Carefully remove the muslin bag, allow to cool slightly, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible to extract the pectin from the fruit pulp. Discard the bag.
Add the sugar to the pan, then put over a low heat. Warm gently so that the sugar dissolves completely, stirring occasionally. Do not boil before the sugar is dissolved.
Increase the heat and bring up to the boil but do not stir while the marmalade is boiling.

After 8-10 minutes boiling, test for setting point. Times will vary according to the size of the pan – in a large saucepan this takes 7-8 minutes, in other saucepans it may take 12-15 minutes. As setting point can be easily missed it’s better to test too early than too late.

Testing for setting point
Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Take out a small saucer previously placed in the freezer, and spoon a little liquid onto the saucer, then return to the freezer for 1 minute. Push the marmalade along the plate with your finger. If setting point has been reached then the marmalade surface will wrinkle slightly and the marmalade won’t run back straight away. If it’s not at setting point, return to the heat and boil again for  a few more minutes (maximum 5 minutes) before re-testing. Repeat until setting point is reached.
Leave the marmalade to stand for 10 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars.

*Water and sugar quantities

I found that there was too much liquid in the finished product but I hesitate to specify less water until I’ve done some more testing.

I have specified less sugar than many recipes suggest as I want the marmalade to be not too sweet. You may like to increase the quantity slightly. IMG_4340 IMG_4404

Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Cream, Salad Greens and Irish Soda Bread

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This is a simple lunch or dinner for the start of spring, even better served in the garden! Very rustic and easy to prepare. Jamie Oliver was the inspiration.

Just pile smoked salmon onto a platter with tons of greens – I used a selection of lettuces, snow peas and rainbow chard. Serve with horseradish cream:

Mix a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream or creme fraiche with a teaspoon full of creamed horesradish and a little french mustard.

And serve with any good rustic bread –  I love Irish soda bread –  this is the link to the recipe on a previous post:

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/04/27/irish-soda-bread-with-black-treacle/

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Blood Orange Cake with Lemon Drizzle and Candied Orange

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This recipe is based on the now famous orange almond cake of Claudia Roden, from A Book of Middle Eastern Food (1968).

I have cooked this cake many, many times over the years and made several variations. This version uses blood oranges as I had some left over from jam making.

Ingredients

Cake
2 blood oranges
4 large free range eggs
1 cup sugar
200 gms ground almonds
1-2 tsps baking powder

Candied Orange
1 orange
6 tbs sugar

Lemon Drizzle
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Enough icing sugar to make a lemon drizzle

Method
Cook the oranges whole by boiling in a saucepan, with a lid, with enough water to cover, until the oranges are soft (somewhere between 1-1/2 hours).

Remove from the pan and leave to cool. Process in a food processor until smooth. Add the eggs and sugar, process again. Add ground almonds and baking powder and pulse to mix. The mixture will be quite loose, if too liquid, you can add more ground almonds.

Grease a 22cm springform tin if you want a flatter cake, or a grease a 20cm tin for a slightly higher cake.

Transfer the mixture to the tin and bake in a slow oven (150 degrees C fan-forced, 170 degrees C non fan-forced) for about an hour or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. You can cover the top of the cake with foil if it is browning too quickly.

Remove from the oven to cool to room temperature.

Candied Orange
Make the candied orange in the following way:
Cut the orange into fine slices, removing the flesh and juice , leaving only the skin.
Place into a saucepan of water, and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and drain the rind. Do this twice more.
Finally make sugar syrup with the sugar and 1/2 cup of water. When the sugar is dissolved, place the orange rind into the syrup and cook for 10 minutes or until the syrup is reduced and thickened.
Remove the rind and place on baking paper on a baking sheet making sure the pieces do not touch.
Dry in very low oven for 1-2 hours until the pieces are no longer “wet”.
Store in an airtight jar in caster sugar if not using straight away.

Lemon Drizzle
Mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to create the desired lemon icing that will drizzle down the sides of the cake.

Serve the cake iced with the lemon drizzle and decorated with candied orange pieces.

For this cake, I didn’t have enough candied orange, so added some of my cumquats in sugar syrup from a previous post.

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