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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese

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This variation on traditional Mac ‘n’ Cheese is from Jamie’s Super Food family Classics. It’s a lighter version of the dish and is full of tasty veg in the form of butternut squash (pumpkin), so it’s very healthy!

I have included Jamie’s recipe with only some slight tweakings here. I made the recipe without the crumbs and popped beans topping, adding a few seeds and basil leaves as garnish.

The photos I took are of a HALF quantity – which was a pretty gernerous dish. The recipe below is for the FULL quantity.

Ingredients

l leek

1 onion

olive oil

1 butternut squash

1 heaped tbls plain wholemeal flour

500ml semi-skimmed milk

450g dried macaroni

2 tsp English mustard

300g cottage cheese 40g Parmesan cheese

For the topping

1x 400g tin of cannellini beans

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 slice of wholemeal bread

My topping

A handful of toasted seeds (pepitas, linseed, sesame or what ever you have in the store cupboard).

Basil leaves

Method

Wash and trim the leek, peel the onion, then finely chop and place in a pan on a medium heat with 1tablespoon of oil. Cook and stir while you carefully halve the squash lengthways and deseed, reserving the seedy core. Chop the squash into 2cm chunks, leaving the skin on, and stir into the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the flour, followed by the milk and 500ml of water. Simmer with a lid ajar for 35 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drain and tip back into the pan. Carefully pour the contents of the veg pan into a food processor and blitz until smooth (working in batches, if necessary) to make your sauce. Taste and season to perfection, then pour over the pasta, add the mustard and cottage cheese, finely grate over most of the Parmesan and mix well. Transfer to a high-sided baking dish (30cm x 40cm), then grate over the remaining Parmesan. Bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

For Jamie’s crumbs and popped beans:

With 15 minutes to go, drain the beans, then toast and dry fry them in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until popped, shaking occasionally. Peel the garlic and put in the processor with the chilli  flakes, seedy squash  core,  rosemary  leaves  and  bread  and  blitz  into  crumbs.  Add to the beans, then toast and toss until crisp and gnarly. Serve the pasta with the toasted beans and crumbs on the side. Good with a lemon-dressed salad.

For my topping:

Serve with a handful of toasted seeds scattered on top and a few basil leaves.

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Salted Peanut Streusel Slice

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I like a good slice, or traybake as they are known in the U.K. In Oz they’re known as a slice, but years of devoted watching of The Great British Bakeoff have taught me that a slice by any other name is a traybake in the UK!

Do you love salted peanuts? I’m mad on nuts, preferably salted, so I have created a slice or traybake to incorporate shortbread, peanuts and a streusel topping.

For the shortbread base, I have used a Mary Berry biscuit recipe which is my latest go-to cookie recipe as it’s quick, rolls out easily and freezes well for future cookie adventures.

And the streusel is just butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon roughly combined.

Ingredients

For the shortbread base:

175g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

175g  plain flour

75g semolina

For the streusel:

50g butter

50g caster sugar

50g plain flour

1tsp cinnamon

Plus

100g salted peanuts in their skins

Extra butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Line a rectangular baking tray – the kind with the low sides that you can make a Swiss roll in – with baking paper. My tray is 27cm x 17cm.

To make the shortbread base, put the butter, sugar, flour and semolina into the bowl of a food processor and mix until a soft dough is formed.

Remove the dough from the processor, and with your hsnds, gently bring the dough together. You could roll it out into a rectangular shape to fit your tray, but it’s just as easy to take pieces of dough and squash into the tray, smoothing and joining as you go. Just make sure the base is a uniform depth.

Make the streusel by pulsing everything in the food processor, being careful not to overmux – you want clumps of rubble streusel mixture for the topping. Put the streusel mixture over the shortbread base, covering all the shortbread.

Scatter over the salted peanuts. Dot the mixture with a little extra butter. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Remove from the oven, cool in the tray, and cut into slices when completely cool.

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Peach, Nectarine and Plum Frangipane Tart

 

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It’s summer in Sydney and stone fruit are plentiful and really delicious. At this time each year I try to find lots of ways to showcase yellow and white peaches and nectarines, and blood plums with their wonderful dark red flesh.

This is a simple tart that is a great vehicle for summer stone fruits. A fillo pastry base, with a layer of frangipane and scattered with slices of fresh peaches, nectarines and plums.

A lovely way to to enjoy the summer bounty of fresh fruit.

Ingredients

For the base:

Half a 375gm packet of fillo pastry  (approximately)

2 tbls melted butter

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

For the fruit:

1 yellow or white peach

1 yellow or white nectarine

2 blooms plums

Demerara sugar, for scattering

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a flan tin with a removable bottom. I used a rectangular one – a traditional round one is fine, although the fillo pastry can be a little tricky to put into a round flan tin.

Place a sheet of fillo into the tin. Brush with melted butter. Keep on layering with fillo, brushing with melted butter between each layer, until you have used about half of the packet of fillo.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well. Spoon the frangipane over the tart base.

Now is the fun part! Slice the stone fruit, and arrange as artfully  – or as rusticslly  – as you please. Scatter some demerara sugar over the fruit slices.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the fillo is lightly browned and crisp around the edges, and the fruit is soft.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve warm or cold, with cream or on its own. Delicious.

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Strawberry Ripple Cake Revisited

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I was looking back at my archives and I found this lovely cake that I made a while back. I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It’s a simple butter cake, with a strawberry jam ripple. The addition of sour cream makes it a very moist cake too!

Summer in Sydney is all about the berries. Every supermarket and green grocer is practically giving away strawberries! And blueberries and raspberries are, well, as cheap as chips or … berries. So I use berries, and in particular strawberries, in cakes, puddindgs and pies quite a lot.

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 170 degrees C or 160 degreees C fan-forced.

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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Borough Market London – Foodie Heaven!

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The Borough Market in Southwark, London, was a destination I was really looking forward to when visiting the UK in December.

I’m a huge fan of markets, enjoying visiting local farmers’ markets in country New South Wales, as well as the city equivalent in Sydney. Orange Grove Market, mentioned in other  posts, is a great Saturday excursion to pick up organic fruit and veg, hot smoked fish, French cheese, farmers’ free range eggs and pastry and bread galore!

I’ve been following the Borough Market online for a while to prepare for the visit. I went twice, on a Saturday a couple of weeks before Christmas and a week or so later midweek. Saturday was buzzing, busy, and a bit tricky to navigate, but still heaps of fun! The next visit was a pleasant stroll and I got to see much more of the market’s delights.

The Borough Market is a little bit of old world London in that sophisticated metropolis. Arches and passageways, nooks and crannies, keep you guessing at what comes next, as you make your way around the market. After my two visits I finally got the hang of the geography. The charm of the Market lies in the mix of the old world with a plethora of multi cultural cuisines.

There is so much produce! I was bowled over by cheese vendor upon cheese vendor! And then the patisseries and bread stalls, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat of every kind, sausages and stews and curries.

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I liberally sampled the baked goods, filled focaccia, croissants, large sticky buns, packed full of fruit, that looked like miniature Christmas puddings, and real muffins.

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I found a little stall selling dried fruit and nuts, and wonderful candied fruit. Whole candied clementines were a great Christmas treat! Another stall sold home made fudge, of every conceivable flavour, which you could pick and mix yourself.

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Two highlights  – a salted caramel milkshake with Bath milk, and robust, fragrant Colombian coffee, much appreciated by this writer, who had been craving really good coffee since my arrival in London.

It was fun to be at the Market at Christmas – there was a buzzy, gregarious mood, and everyone seemed to be having fun shopping for the festive season.

 

 

Battenberg Cake

 

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If you’re a fan of the Great British Bakeoff, then you might have seen a Masterclass from the 2011 series when Mary Berry made a coffee and walnut battenberg cake.

You can see Mary’s excellent recipe here. I have been really keen to have a go, and it’s taken me until now to do just that, spurred on by an excellent purchase on my recent U.K. food trip.

I was very taken with London’s Borough Market  – more of that anon – and when John Whaite GBBO winner 2012 told me about the Borough Kitchen shop, I had a great time investigating their goodies!

So, I found a Silverwood Multisize Cake Pan with Dividers. This is the perfect tin to make Battenberg cake in, to create the lovely chequerboard effect. If you don’t have a fancy tin like this one, you can create the dividers using baking paper folded to divide the tin in two.

My battenberg was coffee and ginger, and I changed the quantities slightly to make more mixture. I also noticed that Mary’s oven temperature and cooking times were different on the TV masterclass from the BBC Food recipe. The masterclass turned out to be right (lower oven shorter cooking) so my recipe reflects that. I’ve tweaked a few other things too, as you do, to suit my cooking style.

Here is my battenberg – a little “rustic”  – but I’m happy with my first attempt!

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Coffee and Ginger Battenberg Cake

Ingredients

For the cake
150g butter
150g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
150g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp milk
2 tsp instant coffee powder
50g stem ginger, chopped

For the coffee butter icing
100g  icing sugar
50g butter, softened
½ tsp instant coffee powder
1½ tsp milk

To decorate the cake
225g/8oz white marzipan
Pecan praline pieces

Method
For the cake, preheat the oven to 160C or 140C fan forced oven.

If you have a multi divider tin, assemble the dividers to make an 8″ or 20cm square tin, and then using another divider, create another division dawn the middle. Grease the square with the divider well.

If you are using a regular cake tin, Mary gives these instructions.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8in square, shallow cake tin.
Cut out a piece of baking paper that is 7.5cm/3in longer than the length of the tin. Fold the paper in half widthways. Open out the paper and push up the centre fold to make a 4cm/1½in pleat. Line the base of the tin with this, making any adjustments to ensure the pleat runs down the centre of the tin making in effect two rectangular ‘tins’ within the tin.

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a stand mixer  until smooth and slightly lighter in colour.
Spoon slightly more than half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of the milk. Set aside.
Mix the coffee in the remaining 2 teaspoons of milk, stirring until it has dissolved and then stir this into the other bowl of mixture with the chopped stem ginger. Spoon the vanilla mixture into one half of the tin and the coffee and ginger mixture into the other half. Level the surface of each half with a knife.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and has shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin.

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then loosen the cake from the sides with a round bladed knife, turn it out, removing the baking paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.
For the butter icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter. Mix the coffee and milk together until the coffee has dissolved, and pour into the bowl. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and you have an “icing” consistency.

Trim the crispy outer edges off the cooled cake with a serrated knife, then cut and trim if necessary into 4 equal strips. Lay one vanilla and one coffee and ginger strip next to each other, then use a little of the butter icing to stick them together. Spread a little  more icing on the top. Stick the remaining two strips together with icing and place them on top to create a chequerboard effect.
Spread more icing over the top of the assembled cake.

Take the marzipan and roll on a work surface lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar, into an oblong, the length of the cake and sufficiently wide to wrap around the cake. Be careful you don’t roll any cake crumbs onto the marzipan. You may have to roll the marzipan a couple of times to get the right size.

Quickly flip the rolled marzipan over, so the top side you have been rolling will end up as the top side on the cake.

Lay the butter iced side of the cake  (ie the top) on the marzipan, positioning it so that when you lift up one long side, it perfectly covers one side of the cake (this way the join will be neatly in the corner).
Spread the rest of the icing over the remaining three sides of the cake (not the ends). Brush off any crumbs from the marzipan and work surface.

Roll the cake over in the marzipan, pressing to neatly cover it, then brush the corner join lightly with water, pressing it to seal.

Turn the cake over so that the join is underneath. Trim a slim slice from each end of the cake to neaten and show off the chequerboard effect. Smooth the marzipan over with your hands to give it a smooth finish. It’s simply a case of trying to make the marzipan look neat!

I decorated my  battenberg with some pecan praline pieces that I had made – but crystallised ginger or plain pecans, walnuts or almonds would do just as well!

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