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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Anzac Biscuits

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It’s Anzac day tomorrow – 25 April 2015,  and the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.  The day is always marked, and the Centenary is a huge occasion in Australia this year. Traditionally Anzac biscuits are baked and eaten around this date.

The biscuits were originally made during World War One by women’s organisations in Australia . To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in tins to be transported overseas. The tins were airtight, to stop  moisture in the air  soaking into the biscuits and making them soft. Anzac biscuit recipes, in the form we know them today, began appearing in cookbooks in the 1920s. They were sometimes called “Anzac crisps” or “Anzac crispies” because of their hardness.

The recipe below, from “Better Homes and Gardens” May 2015, purports to be similar to the original recipe, the ingredients being rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water.

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup or treacle*
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp boiling water
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
¾ cup caster sugar

*Golden syrup is more traditional in Anzac biscuits, but treacle also works well, giving the biscuits a nuttier flavour and darker colour.

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C. Line 4 oven trays with baking paper. Combine butter and golden syrup or treacle in a small saucepan and cook over a low heat until butter is melted. Add bicarb and water and whisk to combine. Remove from heat.

Combine rolled oats, flour and sugar in a large bowl, add butter mixture and beat until combined. Form into small balls and put on prepared trays, allowing space for spreading. Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Cool biscuits on trays then on a wire rack before serving.

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Cream Horns

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I love cream horns – an old fashioned treat, full of cream and a smattering of jam.

I wanted to recreate these retro treats, making them a little smaller than the original. I filled them with whipped cream and my homemade berry jam.

Using bought puff pastry and some cone shaped molds, it was really easy! While I agree that making your own puff pastry can be time consuming, I would encourage everyone to make their own jam. I made a quick jam in the time it took to shape and bake the horns, 20 minutes or so. That’s fast, and the beautiful mixed berry jam is so worth it!

And because I love the idea of a “cornucopia” – horn of plenty – I made a large puff pastry horn as well, filling it with berries. A pretty centre piece and you can eat the contents.

The recipe below makes 6 small horns.

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Ingredients

2 sheets of puff pastry partially thawed

Milk for brushing

Caster sugar for dusting

325 mls pure cream

1 quantity mixed berry jam (see recipe below*)

Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C fanforced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cut the sheets of puff pastry into 2cm wide strips. Spray the molds with non stick spray. Wind the strips of pastry around the mold, starting from the tip. Make sure there is a little overlap with each turn so that the mold is completely covered. It’s really easy to do, especially when the pastry is still cold. Try to get all the joints on the one side, but don’t worry too much, these horns are meant to look little rustic!

Place the horns join side down on the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush with a little milk. Scatter the horns with a little caster sugar. This gives the horns a nice sugary crunch.

Bake for 10- 12 minutes or until the horns are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool before gently sliding the horns from the molds.

Whip the cream until soft peak stage, but not stiff.

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Filling the horns

Spoon or pipe the cream into each horn. Carefully add a teaspoon of berry jam to the cream horn, swirling into the cream or just leaving as is.

Serve with mixed fresh berries and more jam and cream for that extra lusciousness…

*Mixed Berry Jam

Ingredients

250g mixed berries – I used raspberries, blueberries and strawberries

150g sugar

Juice of a lemon

Method

Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with the sugar. Squeeze over 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 berries, if still whole, into a jam like consistency. Take off the stove and allow to cool.

If you want to make the Cornucopia, that’s easy too. Make a cone shape, whatever size you like, using cardboard covered with baking paper. Wind strips of Pampas puff pastry around the mold until completely covered.

Bake on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes in a 200 degree C oven. Cool before removing the mold.

Fill with fruit, flowers or anything else that signifies abundance.

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Jamie Oliver’s Mexican Chilli

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I first cooked this delicious, simple and cost-saving recipe from Jamie Oliver in 2014. The recipe has certainly been popular on my blog! I guess everyone is looking for hearty, slow cooked casseroles and stews that can be quietly cooking away for a few hours. The original post can be found here.

The recipe comes from Jamie’s book Save with Jamie. I absolutely love it because it’s cooked with beef shin, bone in! Beef shin is so rich in flavour and gets better and better the longer you cook it.

The recipe needs to be cooked for a long time – 5 hours – and you end up with a lovely, unctous stew with plenty of liquid. The meat just falls apart, it is so tender.

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So here is Jamie’s recipe.IMG_8801

Ingredients

Chilli

Olive oil

2 red onions

4 cloves of garlic

2 fresh red chillies ( the large, not so hot ones – or more if you want more heat)

30 g fresh coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tomato tins of water

1 kg beef shin, bone in, sinew removed

2 fresh bay leaves

1 x 400 g tin of cannellini beans

Rock salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fluffy basmati rice and yoghurt or sour cream to serve

Method

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.

Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole on the stove top on a medium heat. Add swig of olive oil to the pan. Add chopped red onions and minced garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add chopped chillis and the roots and stalks of the coriander, leaving the tops for the garnish. Add the spices and a good grind of salt and pepper. Fry till the mixture is caramelized and gnarly, but not burnt.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, fill each tin with water and add these to the casserole. Stir to mix, making sure you gather up all the goodness at the bottom of the casserole.

Roll the shin of beef in salt and pepper to coat, then place gently in the centre of the casserole. Turn to coat in the liquid. Pop the bay leaves into the mixture.

Place the lid on the casserole and move to the pre-heated oven. Cook for 5 hours. I suggest checking after a couple of hours, and then each hour, to make sure the liquid is not drying up. Top up with water, to loosen if needed.

20 minutes before the end, drain the tin of cannellini beans and stir through. Add a splash of the bean juices if the chilli looks dry.

When the meat is falling apart and the chilli is thick, shake the marrow out of the bone and stir it back into the chilli.

Serve the Mexican chilli with fluffy rice and yoghurt or sour cream, and coriander leaves to garnish.

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Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns

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I love all Paul Hollywood’s recipes. He is a fantastic baker and really knows his way round any recipes involving yeast!

This recipe is from his book, a brilliant guide to all things baking –  How to Bakeand it’s on his website: http://paulhollywood.com/recipes/easter-hot-cross-buns/

The hot cross bun recipe is very good. It’s labour and time intensive, but it makes great buns! There are 3 provings, an hour each, so you need to get cooking early! Paul’s glaze for the warm buns is apricot jam. It gives a really lovely sweet and sticky flavour to the buns.

I left the buns in the oven a little too long. The taste was still lovely, but next time I will watch them carefully. My oven is hot and fast, but it may be worth considering the cooking temperature and time to make sure your buns are perfectly cooked.  Maybe it was just my oven – every oven is individual.

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Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g salt

75g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

40g unsalted butter, softened

2 medium eggs, beaten

120ml warm full-fat milk

120ml cool water

150g sultanas

80g chopped mixed peel

Finely grated zest of 2 oranges

1 dessert apple, cored and diced

2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the crosses

75g plain flour

75ml water

For the glaze

75g apricot jam

Method

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, eggs, milk and half the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.

When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – at least 1 hour, but it’s fine to leave it for 2 or even 3 hours.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and scatter the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon on top. Knead in until evenly incorporated. Cover and leave to rise for a further hour.

Fold the dough inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide into 12 peices and roll into balls. Place, fairly close together, on 1 or 2 baking trays lined with baking parchment or silicone paper. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rest for 1 hour, or until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220°C.

For the crosses, mix the flour and water to a paste. Using a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle, pipe crosses on the buns. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Warm the apricot jam with a splash of water, sieve and brush over the tops of the warm buns to glaze. Cool on a wire rack.

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Jamie Oliver’s Hot Cross Buns 2015

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This is the NEW Jamie Oliver recipe I have tried today. And it’s even easier than last year’s!  (See here).

I like this recipe as it doesn’t take that long to make. There are 2 provings, and the second one is only 30 minutes. This recipe has more yeast in it than the previous version – 2 x 7g sachets. This really gives the buns a good rise.

Jamie suggests stem ginger in his recipe. I wasn’t brave enough to try that variation  –  but I will definitely give it a go next time.

My buns were rather rustic – you could take a little more care shaping them f you want a more “polished” product.

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Here is the recipe from Jamie’s website: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/hot-cross-buns/#OWmJV0a0Dwfm0IAP.97

Ingredients

200 ml semi-skimmed milk
55 g unsalted butter
2 x 7 g sachet dried yeast
455 g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ whole nutmeg
55 g caster sugar
2 pieces stem ginger
1 large free range egg
2 tablespoons plain flour
55 g sultanas or raisins
30 g dried cranberries
2 tablespoons mixed peel
Runny honey, to glaze

Method

Add the milk and 50ml water to a small pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until slightly warm – you should be able to dip your finger in without scalding it.

Meanwhile, add the butter to a separate pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until melted, then set aside.

Transfer the warmed milk mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the salt, spices, a few good scrapings of nutmeg and the sugar. Finely chop the stem ginger and stir it into the mix.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add it to the bowl.

Using a fork, mix well until you have a rough dough, then transfer to a clean flour dusted work surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until soft a Return the dough to a flour dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough to a clean flour dusted work surface. Knock the air out by bashing it with your fist, then sprinkle over the dried fruit and mixed peel and knead into the dough for 1 to 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.  Grease and line a large baking tray.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into balls. Evenly space them out on a lined baking tray as you go.

Cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, place the plain flour and 2 tablespoons water into a small bowl and mix to a thick paste.

Gently pat down the risen buns then use the batter to carefully trace a cross over the top with a piping bag or spoon.

Place the buns into the preheated oven for 15 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack, brush over a little honey and leave to cool.

Slice open the sticky hot cross buns, spread with a little butter and serve – delicious!

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