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Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sugar Shortbread Cookies

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I love cookies and make a load of them every other week. There are always small – and big children – in my world who need feeding with…cookies of course!

I have been experimenting with a Mary Berry recipe for biscuits that I found online.  See here for Mary’s recipe. It’s actually a basic shortbread recipe, ie butter, flour, sugar (no egg) with some add ons. I’ve made my own version, as outlined below.

Ingredients
175g butter, softened
100g raw sugar
75g sweetened condensed milk
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g semolina
2 tablespoons raw sugar, for rolling
50g milk chocolate chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Line 1 large baking tray or 2 smaller trays  with baking paper.
I make the dough in a food processor, but you could make it in an electric mixer – but the food processor method is super easy.

Put the butter, sugar, condensed milk, flour and semolina into a food processor and  process until the ingredients come together into a soft dough. It’s better to process in a few bursts so that you can make sure you don’t over process.

Place the dough on a floured work surface. Bring the dough together into a ball, and then shape into long sausages about 5cm/2″ diameter for smaller cookies or 8cm/3″ diameter for larger cookies. You need to make two sausages as it’s easier to shape them if they are not too long.

Wrap the sausages in cling film. They will still be quite soft, so you can continue to shape in the cling film, tightening the sausage shape. At this point put in the fridge and rest for at least a couple of hours to make the dough easier to cut into discs. You can leave overnight and the dough freezes really  well too!

Remove from the fridge, umwrap, and with a sharp knife, cut into slices – the thickness is up to you. Roll each cookie on both sides in raw sugar, gently pressing the sugar into the dough. Place the cookies onto the baking sheet/sheets, with space in between. They do spread a little, but largely keep their shape.

Once on the trays, you can leave as is, or press  chocolate chips individually onto the top of each cookie. It sounds labour intensive but actually doesn’t take that long!

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. If you cut your cookies quite thick they may take a couple of minutes  longer.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Pumpkin Ravioli 2 Ways: Goat’s Cheese and Watercress Filling; Goat’s Cheese, Pumpkin, Thyme and Hazelnut filling

 

I love home-made pasta, and I’ve been using my benchtop pasta machine over the years with success. I recently began using the pasta making attachments to my Kitchen Aid. The roller and cutters are essentially the same as the benchtop version, except that there’s no hand turning, as the machine rolls and cuts using the Kitchen Aid’s motor. This is really great as you’ve now got two hands free to feed and guide the pasta to create pasta sheets and beautiful cut pasta!

The basic recipe I use for the pasta dough is a Jamie Oliver recipe, from his Cook With Jamie. Click here for the original recipe. It’s straightforward and easy to follow. For my pasta, I added some mashed baked pumpkin to give the pasta a lovely orange colour  and subtle taste. (I used half Jamie’s quantities which made a good 2 dozed or so ravioli). I filled the ravioli with goat’s cheese mixed with wilted watercress, and also pumpkin, thyme and hazelnuts. I was very happy with the tasty results!

Ingredients

Pasta

3 large free range eggs

300g Tipo ’00’ flour

3 tablespoons or so of butternut pumpkin (squash) baked in the oven with a little olive oil, then mashed. The amount you use will depend on how “orange ” you want the pasta to be. If you add too much, the pasta will be too soft to roll, so start out adding less – you can always add more.

Filling

3 tablespoons or so of any soft goats cheese or curd

1 tablespoon or so of wilted watercress ( a few good handfuls of watercress will wilt down to 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon mashed baked pumpkin

2 teaspoons roast chopped hazlenuts (about 10 or 12)

A few chopped thyme leaves

Method

Put the eggs and flour into a food proccesor and whiz until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to the work surface and bring the dough roughly together. Add the baked pumpkin, starting off with a little at first, then adding more if you need to. Bring the pasta dough together into one lump.

Knead the dough and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, until the pasta dough starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury.  Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.

Now is the time to prepare your filling, so you are ready to fill the ravioli once the pasta is rolled.

To wilt the watercress, place it washed in a small frying pan or saucepan with the barest amount of water. Cook over a low heat until it wilts. Break up the goat’s cheese with a fork, and mix in salt and pepper to taste.

To half the goat’s cheese add the watercress, and to the other half mix in the mashed pumpkin, thyme leaves and roast chopped hazelnuts.

I should note here that I inadvertently mixed in some wilted watercress into some of my pasta dough –  so I went with it – creating some lovely green speckled pasta dough that you can see in some of the photos. A happy accident!

For the pasta, dust your work surface with some Tipo ‘00’ flour, take a lump of pasta dough the size of a large orange and press it out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the lump of pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times. It might seem like you’re getting nowhere, but in fact you’re working the dough, and once you’ve folded it and fed it through the rollers a few time, it should be smooth and silky.

Now roll the pasta dough working it through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to around the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. When you’ve got down to the narrowest setting, fold the pasta in half lengthways, then in half again, then in half again once more until you’ve got a square-ish piece of dough. Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll it down through the settings for the last time, you should end up with a rectangular silky sheet of dough with straight sides. For ravioli, roll the pasta down to the point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.

Once you have rolled the pasta, you will need to work quite quickly, as the pasta dries out. Place the rolled pasta on a lighly floured board. Cut the pasta sheets into two if they are really long, or use two rolled sheets if they are the right length to make the ravioli. You can cover the unused sheets with a tea towel for a few minutes while you are making ravioli with the other sheets.

Place small spoonfuls of the filling on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into individual ravioli and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.

Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. Dust the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape if you’re not cooking immediately, or alternatively pack them carefully into freezer bags and freeze for cooking in the future.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until al dente. The fresher the ravioli are, the quicker they will cook.

For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams and add lots of black pepper. Pour over the ravioli and serve with shaved parmesan.

 

 

 

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Ottolenghi Roast Chicken with Mandarins or Clementines

This is a fantastic Yottam Ottolenghi recipe from his beautiful book Jerusalem. The recipe is based on his Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Arak.

As is my want, I have made some variations to the dish, through personal pereference or, in the case of the clementines, because I couldn’t get them!

I loved the idea of the sweet clementines cooked with the chicken, but, as we don’t have clementines readily available in Australia, I used mandarins instead. They worked really well!  They cooked down to a sticky softness.  I’m not a big fan of anything aniseed , so I used cumquat brandy instead of an aniseed liqueur. An orange liqueur, or brandy, would be fine too. For the same reason, I substituted shallots for the fennel bulbs.  I also cut down on the sugar in the recipe.

Ingredients

100ml orange liqueur or any good brandy. I used a lovely home made cumquat brandy I had on hand.
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grain mustard
1.5 tbsp light brown sugar
6 shallots
8 chicken thighs with the skin and on the bone
4 mandarins unpeeled, sliced horizontally into slices  (or clementines if yuo can get them)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed
Salt and black pepper

Method

Put the liqueur/brandy, olive oil, orange and lemon juices, musard and brown sugar in a large bowl with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk well and set aside.

Peel the shallots and add to the bowl, with the chicken pieces,manadarin/clementine slices, thyme and fennel seeds. Stir well to make sure the marinade covers the chicken pices.

Leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking dish that’s large enough to fit everything  in a one layer.  The chicken should be skin-side  up.

Put the baking dish in the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is brown and cooked through. Remove the dish from the oven.

I served the chicken straight from the baking dish at the table.  There was a lot of lovely juice, so I served the dish with lots of wild rice. Couscous would be great too.

The original recipe says to remove the chicken, mandarin/clementine slices and shallots to a serving plate, while you reduce the cooking liquid in a small saucepan. The sauce is then poured over the chicken.

Up to you – it’s a really delicous dish either way!

Apple and Rosemary Muffins with Lemon Glaze



My go-to recipe for muffins these days is Matt Stone’s wonderful Greenhouse muffin recipe, blogged here.  His book The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste is one of my favourite reference cookbooks at the moment. This recipe works well, as Matt suggests letting the mixture sit in the fridge overnight to let the flour hydrate and the flavours deepen. The resulting texture and taste are exceptional!

I’m experimenting with different flavours for this recipe. This recipe features rosemary, a fragrant woody herb, which gives the muffins a lovely intense aromatic flavour. I’ve used  apples, and lots of cinnamon and ground ginger. I drizzled the muffins with a lemon icing, which complements the rosemary beautifully.

Ingredients

4 free-range eggs

280g raw sugar

200g apples, unpeeled and grated

150ml vegetable oil

10g chopped fresh rosemary

300g  or wholemeal plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a lemon icing that will glaze the muffins, and drip a little over the sides

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced 180 degrees non fan-forced.

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and once things start to get foamy, slowly begin to pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the apple, oil and chopped rosemary. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away, but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge too.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

I used my fancy new Silverwood molds instead – available pretty easily in the UK, but if you’re in Australia like me, you will need to go to Blackwood Lane in Melbourne to buy them. If you want to use a fancy mold, my advice is to butter and flour very carefully to avoid the muffins sticking. I actually butter the molds, stick in the fridge for 10 minutes, then butter again, and finally flour.

Here is a photo of the molds I used:


Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, checking with a skewer to see if the muffins are cooked.

Once cooked, remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin, peel off the baking paper and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency.

Spoon the lemon glaze over the muffins, allowing a little to drop down the sides.


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