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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Oat, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies

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Cookies are so simple to make and so easy to vary and create new flavours and textures.  I found a great cookie recipe recently on Jamie Oliver’s website for gluten free cookies. So I got baking and created some new variations on the original theme.

Here is the link to the original Jamie recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/recipe/gluten-free-oat-raisin-cookies/#osw2GeHae0mJLFAd.97

I made several batches for some hungry thespians, but went “gluten” as no-one eating was gluten intolerant. I also used some different kinds of raisins –  golden and crimson raisins plus a few cranberries too. To some of the cookies I added roughly chopped white chocolate while to others I added chunks of dark chocolate. And for extra zing I drizzled some lemon icing over the top of the biscuits.

The method is so easy because it can be made without a mixer or food processor. The hardest part is melting the butter!

Ingredients

100g butter

100g golden caster sugar (ordinary is fine too)

125g dark brown soft sugar

1 large free-range egg

60ml buttermilk

200g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g raisins (golden or crimson are great) or use cranberries  instead

200g rolled oats

50g roughly chopped white or dark chocolate

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 tbls icing sugar

Lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, making sure the butter does not come to the boil. Place the caster sugar and dark brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the melted butter over the sugar mixture and stir to combine. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, then stir into the mixture with the buttermilk. Sieve the bicarbonate of soda with the flour and fold both into the mixture. Stir in the raisins and/or cranberries, the rolled oats, white or dark chocolate if using and the cinnamon.
Put tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking trays, flattening them slightly with your fingers and leaving a 4cm gap between each.  The cookies will spread a bit on baking.
Place in the hot oven for about 14 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. Mine took a little less than 14 minutes. Leave on the baking trays for 5 minutes to harden slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to make an icing of dropping consistency. Drizzle with a spoon over the biscuits or you could put the icing in a piping bag without a nozzle and pipe. The effect should be rustic!
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Chocolate Honeycomb Cake

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I made a cake for a colleague’s birthday this week. She likes chocolate, and I like honeycomb, so I created a cake combining the flavours. Chocolate layers, with a meringue and honeycomb buttercream, and lots of chocolate, chocolate Maltesers and honeycomb shards to decorate.

The cake is really easy – a one bowl cake, which I made in the food processor to make it even simpler. The meringue buttercream takes a little time, but is worth the effort. And honeycomb is so quick to make, there’s no excuse to buy it!

Chocolate Cake Ingredients
2 cups sugar
3 cups self raising flour
2 tsps sifted bi-carbonate soda
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g softened butter
1 cup natural yoghurt
3 free range  eggs
1 cup hot coffee (instant or brewed)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.  Grease two 20cm round cake tins with butter and line the bases with baking paper. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until just combined and the mix is smooth. Be careful not to overmix as this will toughen the cake.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Keep both cakes in their tins until they are cool. Carefully turn out on to a wire rack.

Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

4 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Method

Mix on medium or medium-high speed while pinching off small pieces of butter and throwing them in. Mix in vanilla. Continue beating for about 5 minutes until the meringue and butter mixture is completely amalgamated and thick.

Honeycomb Ingredients

80g caster sugar
12.5g honey
31g  glucose
1 tsp bi-carbonate soda

Method
Combine sugar, honey, glucose and 30 mls water in a saucepan.  Cook till pale blonde  – 150 degrees C, using a cooking thermometer.
Remove from the heat, add bi-carbonate soda and beat vigorously for a few seconds.
Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper. When the honeycomb has hardened, break some into chunks and pulverize the rest.

Toppings: honeycomb, 50g dark chocolate and 50g white chocolate, a dozen or so Maltesers.

To assemble: When the cakes are quite cold, ice the bottom layer with half the meringue buttercream. Sprinkle some crushed honeycomb over the buttercream, as little or as much as you please. Place the second cake on top. Ice the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Decorate the cake with crushed honeycomb, dark and white chocolate shavings, crushed Maltesers and honeycomb shards.

 

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Winter Pasties Revisited

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I made these pasties in 2014, and with winter almost upon us in Sydney, I am revisiting the recipes to get some inspiration for more winter cooking.

Beef, Tomato and Pedro Ximinez Pasties

The filling was some slow cooked beef cheeks, cooked in Pedro Ximinez sherry. I added in a chopped fresh tomato and and handful of chopped sundried tomatoes. I reduced the tomatoes with the cooked beef until the mixture was thick enough to be used a pastie filling.

Recipe for the beef cheeks follows.

For a dozen pasties, you would need about 1/3 of the recipe quantity. The rest is great served with mashed potato or pasta, root vegetables or green salad.

Ingredients

Beef Filling

1.5 kg  beef cheeks
125 ml  olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlic bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml  Pedro Ximenez sherry or a port or Madeira
500 ml  red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pastry

3 sheets bought (butter) puff pastry

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced.

Increase the oven to 190 degrees C. Take 3 puff pastry sheets, and using a plate as a template, cut out 12  20cm circles; you may have to gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to get all your circles. Don’t worry if you don’t get 12; just get as many as you can from the pastry sheets.

Spoon the stew on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp well to seal.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Eat pasties warm or cold.


Sundried Tomato and Persian Feta Pasties

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Simply chopped sundried tomatoes and crumble some Persian soft feta. Add a sprinkling of fresh herbs like coriander or thyme to taste.

The quantities are up to you – I used 6 sundried tomatoes and 3 small pieces of feta to make 2 large pasties from 1 pastry sheet.

Prepare 3 puff pastry sheets as in previous recipe.

Spoon the filling on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp to seal. These pasties may open during cooking, but as the filling isn’t liquid, they stay intact.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

These ones are best eaten cold.

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Baked Buttermilk Doughnuts

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I love the idea of these doughnuts because they are baked, not deep fried. I made them for Easter this year, as a change from hot cross buns. The recipe is from delicious. magazine, April 2015.

The baked doughnuts are dipped in cinnamon sugar and then in a rich chocolate sauce. I think I preferred them just sugar dipped  – that was sweet enough for me.

They end up more like a sweet bun than a traditional doughnut – there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you are hanging out for that “doughnut” taste.

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Ingredients

2.5 tsps instant yeast

1/4 cup milk, warmed

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 1/4 cups plain flour

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 egg lightly beaten

40g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For dipping:

2 tsps ground cinnamon

2/3 cup caster sugar

Chocolate glaze:

100mls milk

200gms dark chocolate

1 tbls caster sugar

Extra milk for brushing

Method

Combine yeast and warm milk with a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy. Combine the flour and remaining sugar with a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Gradually add the yeast mixture, buttermilk, egg and butter, and knead on low speed for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for  1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knock down. Roll into a sausage and cut into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Divide between 2 baking trays lined with baking paper. Lightly flatten each ball into disc. Using a round cutter, cut out the centre of each ball. You can bake the centres as “additional” doughnut balls on the trays as well. Cover the baking trays with cling film and set aside in a warm place for a further 1 hour or until risen.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Bake the doughnuts one tray at a time for 8-9 minutes or until light golden. Remove from the oven and move to a wire rack to cool slightly.

For the glaze, combine milk, chocolate and sugar in heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted and combined.  remove from heat and cool slightly.

Brush doughnuts with the extra milk. Toss the doughnuts in the sugar mixture, then dip the tops in the chocolate glaze.

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