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Monthly Archives: September 2021

Fruit In Booze

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Fruit and booze – what a great combination! This is a great way to preserve summer fruits.

I blogged this first as Hoarder’s Jam, a curious title as it’s clearly not a jam and why would anyone hoard fruit?

It’s less of a recipe, more some simple instructions on how to combine fruit, sugar, spices and alcohol.

Lovely summer fruit like plums, peaches and apricots can be preserved, and the bonus is the fruity preserving alcohol is a great tipple or the basis of a champagne cocktail.

Ingredients 

Any mixture of stone fruit to make up 6 pieces:

Plums, apricots, peaches

250 g caster sugar

1 long piece of orange rind

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

330 ml alcohol: brandy, rum or gin

Method

Cut the plums  and apricots in halves, the peaches in quarters. Place the fruit and the sugar in china or glass bowl and leave for 1 hour.

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Transfer the fruit and sugar mixture to 1 litre glass jar with a strong lid. Place the orange rind and vanilla bean in the jar. Pour the alcohol into the jar. The fruit should be covered; top up with a little more alcohol to make sure all the fruit is covered. If the fruit won’t stay submerged, fill a small ziplock bag with a little water, seal and place on top of the liquid to keep the fruit under the liquid.

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Make sure you note the date of preserving on the jar. Keep in a dark cool pace for a minimum of 2 weeks or up to 3 months.

You can turn the jar occasionally, or VERY gently shake the jar. This is to help the sugar dissolve. After 1 week, the colour of the liquid begins to deepen, and a lot of the sugar is dissolved, with a residue still sitting on the bottom of the jar.

After 2 weeks the liquid in the jar has turned a deep ruby colour and all the sugar is dissolved.

Refrigerate after opening, although I’m inclined to believe the fruit is well and truly pickled and should survive quite well for a few days in the cupboard.

Very Cherry Tomato Quiche

Sydneysiders are really looking forward to next week when we are allowed to meet friends outside for a picnic – a little easing of our long winter lockdown.

So picnics are the go! And what better for a picnic than a portable tasty treat like a quiche.

Quiche – that versatile combination of short crust pastry, savoury custard and tasty fillings. Great for lunch, dinner or indeed a picnic.

So cherry tomatoes are the basis of this quiche, as well as a handful of sun dried tomatoes. To make the whole thing fresh and light, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms.

The base is shortcrust pastry, for this particular recipe I used Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry. The savoury custard is the traditional filling for a quiche.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Filling
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes (a punnet)
A handful of sun dried tomatoes
4 free range eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball.

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Grease a medium sized fluted quiche tin with a removable bottom. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in the tin.

Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.

Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving some of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.

Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). Place the remaining cherry tomato halves carefully in the custard. Hopefully they will sit artfully displayed in the cooked quiche, but don’t worry if they sink!

Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

Very fresh, very light, very delicious!

Ultimate Victoria Sponge

Victoria sponge is the centrepiece of a traditional tea table. It’s one of my favourite cakes and I’ve been making the recipe on repeat over this winter in Sydney, trying to get exactly the right consistency. It’s a labour of love!

I’ve blogged another version before, see here. That is a great recipe, but I’ve since refined my technique if not the ingredients, to make my current version.

The secret to this recipe is making a sabayon with the eggs and sugar, as you would with a Genoise sponge, before adding the other ingredients. This isn’t a Genoise, but the technique works well. The other secret is cooking the cake at 160 degrees C, a relatively low temperature.

And you need to fill the cake with both strawberry jam and strawberries! As well as lashings of cream of course!

Here’s the recipe. These quantities will make 3x20cm layers or 2x23cm layers. I’ve included the quantities for a smaller cake at the end of the recipe.

Ingredients

Sponge cakes

4 free-range eggs at room temperature

200g caster sugar

200g butter

11/2 tablespoons tepid milk

200g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

200g strawberry jam (homemade is good)

300g fresh strawberries

250ml whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Grease the baking tins, whether you are using 3 tins or 2. Line the bottom of the tins with baking paper.

In an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar for 5-8 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is tripled in volume.

Meanwhile carefully melt the butter in the microwave.

With the motor running, pour the melted butter into the mixture. Add the tepid milk. Turn the mixer off and fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture using a metal spoon, being careful not to lose too much volume.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins, smoothing the tops if necessary.

Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake cones out clean.

Remove from the oven and cook in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful with step – these sponges can be quite fragile!

While the cakes are cooling, whip the cream and the vanilla to soft peaks.

Once the cakes are quite cold, you can assemble them with the filling. Place one cake on serving plate. Spread half the strawberry jam over the layer. Spread half whipped cream on top of the jam. Top with 1/3 halved strawberries (quartered if they’re big).

Place another layer on top and repeat fillings.

(If you’re only making 2 layers, then adjust the quantities of jam, cream and berries.)

Place the top layer on the cake. Dust with icing sugar and place some whole strawberries on top of the cake.

This cake is best cut and eaten a couple of hours after being made. That way the flavours have developed and soaked into the sponge. And while it’s best to eat the cake on the day, it’s still pretty delicious the next day, that is if there’s any left!

Small Cake Ingredients

Cake

2 free-range eggs at room temperature

125g caster sugar

125g butter

1 tablespoon tepid milk

125g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

100g strawberry jam (homemade is good)

150g strawberries

125mls whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons icing sugar

This cake can be baked in 2x20cm tins for 20 minutes.

Mexitalian Pizza

Ok, this is Tex-Mex meets Italian! A pizza with Mexican style toppings.

I’m keen on home made pizza, and recently I’ve been given some inspiration on Tex-Mex cooking from friends recently returned from living in the US.

So I ended up with a pizza topped with lots of Mexican flavours!

This pizza can be made on a barbecue, and I have included a link to my how-to in the recipe. It needs to be cooked on a barbecue with a hood. Or you could even do it in an ordinary oven!

You also need a good recipe for a slow cooked beef stew – use your favourite, but I have included a link to my recipe.

It seems a bit of a faff, but once made it’s really very delicious. And any of the ingredients left over after making the pizza can be easily incorporated into other dishes.

This recipe makes 1 large pizza or 2 medium ones.

Ingredients

1 quantity pizza dough*

1/2 quantity beef casserole**

2 sweet corn cobs

1/2 cup good quality egg mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Lime juice

50g mild farm cheese like queso fresco

2-3 spring onions

1 avocado

Coriander

3-4 lime wedges

*Use your favourite recipe – here’s a link to my Pizza on the Barbecue recipe.

** You can use your favourite beef recipe, here’s the link to my Beef Casserole.

Method

Make your beef casserole ahead of time. Remember it’s a slow cooked recipe.

Prepare your pizza dough to second proofing.

While the dough is proofing, grill the corn cobs on the bars of the barbecue till nicely charred. When cool enough to handle, cut off the corn kernels, remove to a bowl, and mix with enough of the mayonnaise to coat the kernels. Mix in the chipotle powder, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika and a good squeeze of lime juice.

Now shape your pizzas and grill on the barbecue as per the barbecue pizza recipe.

Add the toppings, starting with the beef casserole. “Pull” the beef pieces to get that pulled beef effect. Make sure you spread lots of the tomato sauce on the pizza base. Scatter the corn kernels, spring onions and cheese over the pizza. Sprinkle the rest of the smoked paprika over the pizza.

Cook on the barbecue. Once it’s nicely done, put slices of avocado on top and scatter with coriander. Serve with lime wedges and chilli sauce for those who want an extra kick!

Totally Orange Chelsea Buns

We all love Chelsea buns, myself included. I’ve made a lot! I’ve posted a couple of versions here and also here.

Yesterday I made sourdough and had left over sourdough starter. It is always a dilemma – what to do with your sourdough starter discard.

So I made Chelsea buns, using the left over starter, and a little commercial yeast as well. But you could totally make these buns using just yeast – we don’t all have a sourdough starter on hand! Use 7g yeast and up the milk to 150g.

These Chelseas are heavily flavoured with orange, in the dough and in the filling – juice, zest and candied orange. And some orange liqueur as well!

Very orange and delicious.

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

125g sourdough starter discard

3g yeast

8g salt

50g caster sugar

2 free range eggs, at room temperature

100g tepid milk

Zest and juice of half an orange*

50g unsalted butter

Filling

50g sour cherries

50g cranberries

50g sultanas

50mls orange liqueur

50g very soft butter

50g golden caster sugar or raw sugar

100g marzipan

1 tablespoon finely chopped candied orange

Golden Syrup Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup heated to use as glaze

Orange Icing

Juice of 1/4 orange

100g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

* a blood orange if you can get it

Method

Put all the dough ingredients except the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid. Mix with a dough hook or wooden spoon to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Knead the dough using the dough hook of the electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Add the butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. You can soften the butter in the microwave. Mix using the dough hook until the dough is smooth, soft and windowpanes.

Cover the dough with cling wrap or plastic shower cap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 2-3 hours. (If using all yeast without sourdough starter, leave to rise for 1-2 hours only). The dough should have risen, if not quite doubled in size.

Line a large baking tin with baking paper. I used a 24cm (9.5 inch) round spring form tin, but you could equally use a rectangular 22cm x 23cm (9 inch x 13 inch) tin.

Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a large rough rectangle.

For the filling, soak the sour cherries, cranberries and sultanas in the liqueur for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Spread the very soft butter all over the dough rectangle. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter. Scatter the chopped marzipan, chopped candied orange and then the dried fruit over the dough.

Now roll up the dough along the long side, as carefully as you can.

Cut the long roll into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces into the baking tin, cut side up, packing them in snugly together. If using a round tin, make a ring of buns in the tin and then put the remaining buns in the centre.

Put the tin into a large plastic bag to prove. Place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours.

Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan or 180 degrees C non fan forced. Add a cast iron pan of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking.

Take the tin out of the plastic bag and place the buns in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are golden brown but not burnt.

Once baked, remove from the oven. Brush the tops of the buns with the warmed golden syrup.

When cool, remove the buns from the tin, peeling off the baking paper.

To make the orange icing, mix the orange juice with the icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

Once the buns are quite cool, drizzle the orange icing over the tops of the buns.

Best eaten on the day!

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