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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Raspberry and Walnut Muffins and Blood Orange and Muscat Raisin Muffins

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I made my usual muffin recipe base to a make these breakfast/morning tea/afternoon tea treats. The base recipe comes from a much loved, much thumbed American cookbook The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, one of the best and most inventive vegetarian cookbooks I own.

Here is Molly’s website: http://www.molliekatzen.com/ and this is the website of the Moosewod Collective, with whom Molly was originally associated: http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/

I divided the mixture in half, adding frozen raspberries and chopped walnuts to one half, and some finely chopped blood orange and raisins soaked in muscat to the other.

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Ingredients – Base Mixture

1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tbs honey

Raspberry and Walnut  Mixture

1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Blood Orange and Muscat Raisin Mixture

A couple of slices of blood orange, blitzed in the food processor
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in a couple of tablespoons of liqueur muscat for half an hour or more (you don’t really need the muscat; I had some on hand and it worked well)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers. Expect to make at least 8 decent sized muffins, or more if they’re smaller.

Mix the dry ingredients for the base mixture with a spoon in a bowl until well combined. Divide into two bowls. In another bowl mix the oil, beaten egg, milk and honey.

For the raspberry muffins, add half the liquid ingredients to one bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until barely mixed. Gently fold in the raspberries and walnuts.

For the blood orange muffins, add the other half of the liquid ingredients to the second bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until barely mixed. Gently fold in the blood orange and raisins. Decorate the tops with blood orange segments if desired.

Spoon each mixture into the muffin papers.  Sprinkle the tops with a little demerara sugar for extra crunch. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from the oven – eat  warm or cold.

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Old Rockers Rock the Hunter: The Rolling Stones at Hope Estate 2014

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The prospect of another gig in the Hunter Valley sends a frisson of excitement through this aging (at least physically) and (slightly) arthritic frame: a weekend of fine wine, fine food, good company and of course music! And on this weekend in November I got all of the above, with maybe a few tiny reservations about the latter…

The Rolling Stones in Australia: it’s a gas! We were fully pumped for the occasion: a fine dinner at the inimitable Shakey Tables, the subject of other rapturous blog posts, here and also here on the previous night; rather a lot of good wine consumed; and in order to soak  up the atmosphere, we were able to arrive nice and early on the day. As one would expect, the average age of the audience was …well… old.

At previous gigs I do a lot of crowd watching to find out what the predominant vibe is. This weekend the beer gut was compulsory for males over the age of 35. I grabbed a few shots  – but it was kind of hard to take snaps in case I got my phone ripped from me or I got beaten up – there were some seriously mean beer guts out there, mostly sporting large Stones tee shirts emblazoned with the Famous Lips. I definitely didn’t want to get shirt fronted by one of those dudes!

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The concert was worthy of the hype. We got the Rolling Stones in fine form. There had been a worry that they might have cancelled, as they did their Victorian gig at Hanging Rock the week before. But Mick was clearly dealing with his throat infection, aided no doubt by handing over the vocals to Keith Richards for a few numbers mid set.

You can’t get away from the fact that these guys live and breathe rock and roll and do it with huge style, skill and even after 50 years, an obvious enjoyment for being on stage making music.  Mick, Keith and Ronnie bounced, gyrated and strutted the stage like aging peacocks, while Charlie, my personal fave, applied himself to some pretty amazing drumming with his trademark hauteur.

Thanks to Sharyn for Charlie’s photo!

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The audience loved it. We rose as one to our feet when rock royalty arrived, and just as we had done for Springsteen earlier this year, we stayed standing for the whole set. Numbers like Satisfaction became more an a capella audience experience, as we sang or shouted the lyrics; people bopped, tapped and danced in their seats.

I loved it all. Paint it Black, for nostalgia, Honky Tonk Women for Mick’s sass and sex appeal, and Sympathy for the Devil, for its rather pompous but broodingly dark lyrics, were standouts for me, the latter accompanied by a vast red firescape that engulfed the stage.

The staging was, to use that overworked epithet, simply awesome! A huge lighting rig, audience blinders, enormous banks of speakers, three – yes three! giant video screens with pristine resolution, and fireworks, all made for a spectacular audio-visual event.

My little gripe was that the audience patter formula, trotted out by every major rock act on tour, coming this time from Mick, was a bit too off the cuff and insincere.

” ‘Ow you doing? Awright?” with that slight Cockney twang. Did he really want to know? I don’t think so.

But hey – he’s Mick – he’s 71 and he wears tight jeans, size 28 inch waist, and he’s got knees I’d kill for! Sexy as, for every gender, it was a treat to see him perform. And the final line-up of the band at the end of the gig seemed to show that they still get genuine enjoyment from performing – we all left happy.

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Set List Saturday 15 November 2014 Hope Estate

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Let’s Spend The Night Together

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll

Tumbling Dice

Dead Flowers

Rocks Off

Paint It Black

Honky Tonk Women

You Got The Silver (Keith Richards vocal)

Before They Make Me Run (Keith)

Just Can’t Be Seen (Keith)

Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor)

Miss You

Gimme Shelter

Start Me Up

Sympathy For The Devil

Brown Sugar

Encore

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with Sydney Philharmonia)

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (with Mick Taylor)

 

 

 

Hot Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich – Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food

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I started hot smoking salmon last year and now that’s about the only way I cook it. It’s incredibly easy to do. I followed Jamie’s instructions but then simplified his method to something that works really well.

Basically, you get a foil take away food container, scatter some hickory chips inside, throw some woody herbs on top – rosemary works well. You need to acquire a wire rack to fit on top of the container. The fish fillet/s are seasoned by rubbing with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp caster sugar and 1/2 tsp of sambal oelek (chili paste).

It’s then a matter of laying the seaoned fish fillet/s on the rack and covering the container with aluminum foil.

The foil is pierced with a skewer at intervals – this lets the smoke out. Cook on a very hot barbecue grill. Depending on the size of the fillet/fillets, and the heat of the grill, the fish takes between 10- 20 minutes to cook. I cook a medium sized salmon fillet for about 10 minutes for medium rare and about 12 minutes for cooked through. It’s important to let the fish “rest ” for a few minutes after cooking.

For more information and photos of hot smoking, click here.

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Jamie Oliver’s book Comfort Food has some wonderful recipes including this one for a Hot Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich, giving me another recipe for this method of cooking salmon. This is my version, with a couple of changes which I have noted.

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Ingredients

20og salmon, skin on (piece or fillets)

Home made or good bought mayonnaise, with some pounded basil leaves mixed through

4 slices of streaky bacon

4 slices of nice bread (something rustic)

1 large ripe tomato

1 small ripe avocado

I punnet of cress (I left this out)

1 handful of mignonette or cos lettuce leaves

1 lemon

Salted crisps (I left these out)

 

Method

Hot smoke the salmon according to the above instructions. Remove to a board, discard the skin and flake into pieces (not too small).

While the salmon is smoking, cook the bacon in a frying pan over a medium heat until crispy and cooked through, then remove from the pan.

Swirl the pan to spread the fat out, then toast the slices of bread in the fat to soak up the wonderful flavour.

Slice the tomato, peel, de-stone and slice the avocado.

Spread the toast with basil mayo, then layer two slices with the bacon, tomato, avocado, salmon, cress if using, lettuce and a squeeze of lemon, and the crisps if using. Top with the remaining slices of toast.

 

Baked Ricotta Mini Cakes

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These cakes are based on the Baked Passionfruit Ricotta Flan I cooked recently. The original was made by Dr Rosemary who is an excellent dessert and cake maker. This time I made muffin sized cakes. I mixed the ricotta quite roughly so that some of the curds stayed intact – unintentional – but I rather liked the texture this created.

Ingredients

200 g butter in small pieces

1 cup caster sugar

4 free range eggs, separated

350 g ricotta

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup fresh passionfruit pulp

1 cup self raising flour

Method

Pre-heat  oven to 150 degrees C. Grease a 12 hole muffin mold. Beat the butter and half the sugar with an electric mixer until well creamed and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time until combined.

Beat in the ricotta and vanilla extract, until smooth, or leave it a little rough as I did.

Stir in the pasionfruit pulp and sifted self raising flour.

In a clean bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the rest of the sugar until firm peaks form.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the ricotta mixture, in 2 or more batches, trying not to lose the air in the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin molds. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes until the the cakes are firm to the touch. Cooking time will vary according to how much mixture you put into each muffin hole.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Serve with fresh fruit.

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Strawberry Ripple Cake

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This is a version of a recipe I found while “recipe surfing”. I was looking for something to something to do with strawberries, which are plentiful and cheap in spring in Sydney. The cake has ripples of home made strawberry jam through the cake, creating a tangy – and pretty effect. The addition of lot of sour cream in the mixture is great – lovely flavour, and I hope may give the cake some longevity. That may be hard to prove, as the cake tasters I made it for today have done a thorough job!

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Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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*Home-made strawberry jam

This is an adaptation of my strawberry conserve recipe found on this blog. The difference is much smaller quantities and I mushed the strawberries so that they would ripple nicely through the cake.

Take 200g strawberries and cover with 100g sugar in a bowl (non metallic). Leave for at least 2 hours. The strawberries will have started to give up their juices. Place into a saucepan with the juice of a lemon. Heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When all the sugar is dissolved, boil on a moderate heat until setting point is reached. Mush the strawberries, if still whole, into a jam like consistency. Take off the stove and allow to cool.

For more on jam making, click here

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