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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Easter Rocky Road!

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This post is a bit of fun for Easter. I wanted to make a chocolatey creation as a change from traditional Easter eggs.

Rocky Road is always great if you want to throw a few delicious ingredients into some melted chocolate – nuts, marshmallows, glacé fruit all work well.

My Easter Rocky Road is pretty simple –  you can add pretty much what you feel like at the time!

Here’s what I did.

Easter Rocky Road 

Melt a 200g block of dark chocolate and a 200g block + half a block of white chocolate. Pour into a tin lined with foil, dark on one side and white on the other. Leave a little of each chocolate for splattering.

Using a skewer, run some pink food colouring through the white chocolate.

Place as many as you like of the following in the melted chocolate – pink and white marshmallows, Smarties or M and Ms, mini Easter eggs.

I scattered some freeze-dried raspberry powder over the Rocky Road too.

Splatter or drizzle the left-over dark chocolate on the white side and the white chocolate on the dark side.

That’s about it! Have fun and be creative!

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Plum Muffins

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1720FAD7-FD24-44B8-9585-17636C82AAC5 I’m still celebrating late summer fruit in Sydney. Berries are still good, especially raspberries which are plump and juicy, and well priced. But the standouts for me are the last of the stone fruit – peaches and nectarines, and gorgeous super sweet plums of all colours.

So here is a recipe which celebrates plums, baked in the muffin mixture and also as plum pieces on top of each muffin.

The basic recipe is Matt Stone’s from his book The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste, adapted here using smaller quantities and of course the star ingredient, plums!

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

140g raw sugar

1 Granny Smith apple unpeeled and grated

1 plum, diced

75ml vegetable oil

10-12 pecans, chopped (optional)

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

3 plums of various colours, cut into segments, to decorate

A few pecan halves, to decorate (optional)

Method

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and when  the mixture is foamy, slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.

Whisk in the apple, diced plum and oil. Stir in the chopped pecans, if using. 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. Even leaving the mixture for a few hours in the fridge is beneficial.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced, 180 degrees C non fan-forced.

Grease a standard muffin tin and line 6 holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture, adding as many plum segments as you like on top to decorate, and pecan halves, if using.

Put the muffin tin in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there, using a skewer to check if cooked. From my experience, in my oven, they take about 20 minutes.

Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin and place on a wire rack. I leave the baking paper on as the muffins are easier to store.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Great on their own, as they are so moist, but also good with butter, or Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey!

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Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (Aubergine)

I’m cooking quite a few recipes  from Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients at the moment. I love the simplicity of just a few basic ingredients.

There are a wealth of good recipes in the book which are pretty easy to prepare and don’t require a store cupboard full of ingredients.

Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (read Aubergine in Jamie’s original British recipe), is unbelievably easy to make, low in calories and most importantly, very delicious!

As a dedicated foodie I love eating! Sometimes it’s necessary to undergo a little judicious calorie management, so at the moment I am embracing Weight Watchers, an organisation I can speak highly of, with its sensible food plans and non-judgmental mentors. A big shout-out to Wendy at WW in Rozelle and the city!

So it was with delight that I realised that this lovely recipe was very calorie friendly, as well as being delicious.

I made one tiny addition to the ingredients – the sticky sauce was quite strong , so I added a little brown sugar. This worked a treat and I think gave the sauce more of an Asian sweet/salty taste. For Jamie’s original, just leave out!

And if you count the ingredients it’s 7, but who is actually counting?

Ingredients

1 large eggplant (aubergine)
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
20g unsalted peanuts + a few extra for scattering
1 tbls olive oil
2 tbls teriyaki sauce
1 tsp brown sugar (optional – my addition)

Method

Put a 26cm non-stick frying pan on a high heat and pour in 250mls of water.

Halve the eggplant lengthways, quickly slash the skin of each half a few times and place skin side up in the pan, then season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cover and cook for l0 minutes, or until it boils dry and begins to sizzle (listen for the change in sound).

Meanwhile, trim the spring onions. Cut the whites into 3cm lengths at an angle and put aside.

Deseed the chilli and finely slice Iengthways with the green part of the spring onions. Place both in a bowl of ice-cold water and put aside to crisp up.

When the eggplant starts to sizzle, add l tablespoon of olive oil, the white spring onions and the peanuts to the pan, stirring regularly.

After 2 minutes, add a splash of water, drizzle in the teriyaki, stir in the brown sugar and reduce to a medium heat.

Turn the eggplant, jiggle the pan and let it get sticky for a few minutes, then serve sprinkled with the drained green spring onions and chilli and a few peanuts scattered over the dish.

 

Fig and Raspberry Frangipane Tart

It’s fig season in Sydney, late summer, and the figs are plentiful and cheap.  I love the look of  green figs, with their lustrous skins and bright pink centres.

I have a confession to make. I think figs look really pretty, but I’m not always convinced that they taste as delicious as they look. I think recipes can be a little bit hit and miss.

The figs in this recipe do work very well. The recipe is tweaked from an Ottolenghi recipe for little fig tartlets. I love the idea of the frangipane in the tartlets, with beautiful baked figs, so I decided I would make one large tart, filled with frangipane, with slices of figs placed on top. I added raspberries as they are superb at the moment. I think the large tart idea worked well, it looked nice and tasted delicious!

Ottolenghi’s original recipe for Fig and Pistachio Frangipane Tartlets is in his beautiful book Sweet, and the link to the recipe is here.

Here is my Fig and Raspberry Frangipane Tart recipe:

Ingredients

For the sweet shortcrust pastry (you will probably only need 3/4 of the pastry)
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
90g icing sugar
¼ tsp salt
200g unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into cubes
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large free range egg yolk
20ml water

For the frangipane

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
35g ground almonds
35g plain flour
⅛ tsp salt
1 tbsp brandy
4 large ripe figs, quartered (choose the best quarters – you will need about 12)
12-15 raspberries

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and lemon zest, then pulse a few times, until the mixture is the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and water, then add to the mix. Process once more, just until the dough comes together, then tip on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap loosely in cling wrap and press gently into a flattish disc. The dough will be very soft, so keep it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C. Brush a tart tin with melted butter and dust with flour. I used a rectangular tart tin but you could use a circular tin (use a medium diameter rather than a big one).

If the dough has been in the fridge for more than a few hours, let it rest at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before rolling. Put the dough between 2 pieces of  cling wrap or baking paper and place onto a large board. Tap all over with a rolling pin to soften slightly, then roll out to a 2-3mm thick rectangle to fit your tin (or circle to fit a circular tin). Gently ease the pastry into the tin, pressing it down to fill the tin, making sure the pastry comes up the sides. Refrigerate the tin for at least an hour.

Place a piece of baking paper over the pastry and fill with a layer of rice or baking beans, and blind-bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is light golden brown around the edges. Remove the paper and rice or beans, then leave the pastry to cool in the tin.

For the frangipane, put the butter, sugar and lemon zest into a food processor. Blitz on a medium speed until well blended and light but not too fluffy, then gradually add the beaten eggs. Don’t worry if the mix curdles a bit at this stage, it will come together again later. Add the ground almonds, flour and salt. Pulse until combined, then add the brandy.

Turn up the oven to 180 degrees C. Using a tablespoon, fill the baked tart shell with the frangipane. Place a quarter-fig cut side up in rows in the tart, and press down gently, so they  slightly embedded in the mixture. Place the raspberries in between the rows. (Arrange the figs and raspberries in whatever way you like for a round tart).

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the frangipane starts to brown at the edges but the middle is still slightly soft. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then ease the tart out of the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature with a spoonful of thick cream or Greek yoghurt.

Raspberry Meringue Twists

 

Meringues are a lovely gift to make for friends and are so simple to create. I’m fond of all kinds of egg white and sugar concoctions – meringues, pavlova, vacherin and dacquoise. I sometimes make Italian and Swiss meringue, but unless there’s a real need for a more stable structure, French meringue is the easiest option.

I  have always used a recipe from the Australian culinary legend Margaret Fulton, but this time I thought I would try a recipe from another culinary legend from another hemisphere, Mary Berry.

It’s always interesting to try a slightly different approach to our usual recipes, and this recipe I found very successful! The link to Mary’ s original recipe is here.

I wanted my meringues colourful and pretty to look at, so I used rose pink food colouring to create swirls of colour.  I scattered some freeze dried raspberry powder over the meringue before baking. With hindsight (which is a wonderful thing), cooking the raspberry powder made it too dark. I think next time I would scatter the powder over the cooked meringues to maintain the vivid raspberry colour.

I’ve called the meringues raspberry twists because of the raspberry pink twists of colour.

Ingredients

3 egg whites

175g  caster sugar

A few drops of pink food colouring

A teaspoon or two of freeze dried raspberry powder

Method

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C  fan-forced. Line a large baking sheet or two smaller ones with baking paper.

Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. I always use my KitchenAid for meringues.

Whisk on high speed until white and fluffy, like a cloud. Still whisking on maximum speed, gradually add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until incorporated and the meringue is stiff and shiny and stands upright on the whisk.

Take a piping bag and attach a large plain nozzle or star tipped nozzle, and using a paint brush or pastry brush,  paint stripes of pink food colour inside the bag.

Using the piping bag, pipe the meringue mixture into different sized meringues – some quite large, others smaller, onto the baking sheet. It’s up to you what size you want!

Scatter some freeze dried raspberry powder randomly and artfully over the meringues before baking.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for one hour.  Turn off the oven, and leave the meringues in the oven for at least a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better.

Once cool, remove from the baking paper and put on a wire rack until completely cold.

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