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Author Archives: The quirk and the cool

Butterscotch White Chocolate Brownies

 

8DFD5202-E170-4C55-AAA6-7F0D9467AA263EA60341-3CA7-4246-8481-20B26F7A6FB2These brownies are based on a recipe from a new favourite of mine, “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook”, the  classic American cookbook updated by Marion Cunningham. The link to buying the book is here.

I was introduced to the rich history of American cooking through a fellow blogger Revolutionary Pie. One of her posts on brownies introduced me to the legendary Fannie Farmer, and inspired me to bake some “historical” brownies, see my post here.

So when I found the book online I instantly bought it and have been dipping in and out of this 1,230 page tome ever since!

Here is an ultra easy recipe for Butterscotch Brownies from the book. Because the recipe was so simple I decided to pimp it up with some white chocolate chunks! With or without, the butterscotch/ caramel flavour is delicious and the brownies are a nice change from the traditional chocolate.

Ingredients 

1/2 cup melted butter

2 cups dark brown sugar

2 free-range eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups plain flour

2 tsps baking powder 

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup chopped macadamias (or walnuts or pecans)

3/4 cup chopped white chocolate chunks

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 9×13 inch baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all the ingredients together, combining them well. Spread evenly in the tray and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. Cool in the tray, then cut into squares or fingers.

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Jamie Oliver Pizza

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Here’s Jamie Oliver’s simple recipe for pizza dough. I love it and it’s always my go-to recipe when I’m in the pizza making zone!

 I use my barbecue with a lid and a temperature gauge as the oven. You can really heat up the barbecue very high and you get great crusty pizza.

Jamie Oliver’s recipe is really straightforward and easy to follow, and it freezes really well. I tend to make a batch of dough, then divide into portions to freeze. I can then defrost and make pizza whenever I like!

This is the link to Jamie’e original recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/basic-pizza

Here’s Jamie’s recipe, with a couple of tweaks I have made to the original. The quantity below gives you 4 small pizzas, enough for 2.  Doubling the quantities gives you pizzas for 4.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour

1/2 level tablespoon fine sea salt

1×7 g sachet dried yeast

1/2 tbs  caster sugar

325 ml lukewarm water

Semolina for dusting

Method

Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add  yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using one hand to stretch the dough toward you and the other hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size for about 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Flour and cover each ball with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.
Take a piece of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick. Tear off an appropriately sized piece of tin foil, rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour or semolina and place the pizza base on top.  Do the same with the other pieces and then, if you dust them with a little flour, you can pile them up into a stack and cover them with cling film.

Preheat your barbecue till very hot (at least 250 degrees C) with the lid closed.  Heat 2 baking sheets in the barbecue.
Put two of the rolled-out dough rounds onto each of two baking sheets, scattering each sheet with a dusting of semolina first.  At this stage you can apply your topping. Smear the tomato sauce over the base of your pizzas and spread it out to the edges. Scatter over your fillings, tearing  the mozzarella into rough pieces. Drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Put the baking sheets onto the barbecue, lid down. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.

Easy Tomato Sauce Or Passata

Ingredients

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked and torn

3 x 400 tinned plum tomatoes

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place a large non-stick frying pan on the heat and pour in a couple of  generous lugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, shake the pan around a bit and, once the garlic begins to colour lightly, add the basil and the tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mush and squash the tomatoes as much as you can.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat. Strain the sauce through a coarse sieve into a bowl, using your wooden spoon to push any larger bits of tomato through. Discard the basil and garlic that will be left in the sieve, but make sure you scrape any of the tomatoey goodness off the back of the sieve into the bowl.

Pour the sauce back into the pan, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes to concentrate the flavours. It will be ready when it’s the perfect consistency for spreading on your pizza.

Store the sauce in a clean jar in the fridge – it’ll keep for a week or so. Also great to freeze in batches , so you can defrost exactly the amount you need.

Fillings for Pizza

Anything goes! You can start your pizza off with the tomato passata, or go for a white pizza (bianca). Cheese is almost always good and mozzarella makes for a beautiful gooey pizza. Add anything you think will work!

I made two tomato, mozzarella and basil pizzas, basically a pizza margherita, and for the other pizzas I added passata, artichoke heart, caramelized onion and a simple scattering of thyme leaves.

 

Orange Pistachio Cake

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0E31CC2B-1514-4526-BB02-13F098CBAA18Recently I was at lunch at a friend’s – the energetic Mrs B! She made a beautiful lunch, the piece de resistance of which was a gorgeous orange and pistachio cake, based on a recipe from Philippa Grogran’s and Richard Cornish’s wonderful book Phillippa’s Home Baking. The link to the book is here.

The original recipe is for Lemon Pistachio Cake, but Mrs B made it with oranges. She also served the cake surrounded with orange slices.

Here’s my interpretation of Mrs B’s version of Phillippa’s cake! The photos are of the wonderful cake that Mrs B served.

Ingredients 
40g unsalted pistachios
300g cultured butter – softened (cultured butter is readily available now in supermarkets)
240g caster sugar
4  free-range eggs
A pinch of salt
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
130g ground pistachios 
90g ground almonds
40g arrowroot flour or cornflour

Syrup topping
Finely grated zest & juice of 1 large orange
50g caster sugar

Orange slices, to serve.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line the base of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove and rub in a clean tea towel to remove the skins, then roughly chop.  Set aside until you make the syrup.  Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/145°C fan-forced.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add the salt, vanilla seeds and orange zest and mix well, then gently fold through the ground nuts and flour, a third at a time.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes – 1 hour 25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and rest in the tin for 5 minutes before placing a plate over the tin and upturning the cake onto the plate.  Gently peel off the lining paper from the bottom of the cake.  Place another plate on the bottom of the cake and upturn the cake again so it is right-side up.

To make the syrup topping, place the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened and syrupy, but fresh and tangy in flavour.  Stir in the chopped pistachios and orange zest, then spoon evenly over the cake while it is still warm.

Peel 3 oranges carefully, making sure you remove all the pith. Slice thinly, and surround the cake, spooning any remaining syrup over the orange slices.

This cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Waffles with Cookie Crumble and Golden Syrup

 

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This morning I really felt the need to make waffles, and obviously, eat them too..

I have a “good” heavy duty waffle maker, and because it’s so cumbersome, I don’t tend to get it out of the cupboard that often. I recently bought a light weight waffle maker from one of those generic super stores where you can buy  anything for ridiculously low prices. So this was the trial run and I’m happy to say the light weight waffle maker passed the test.

I followed a Martha Stewart recipe for buttermilk waffles. Very easy and very quick. However, I must fess up and explain that the first waffles were rather flat and a bit disappointing. So I added spoonful or so of extra flour and anothter 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the remaining mixture. This did the trick and the the rest of the waffles were thick and fluffy! However, I hope that if you followed the inimitable Martha’s recipe as is, it will work out fine for you.

I included my recipe troubleshooting as I always like to be as accurate as possible as I describe my cooking experiences.

Martha’s original recipe is here. I served the waffles with some macadamia cookie crumbs – I crushed up a couple of cookies I had left over. Add a good drizzle of golden syrup, some whipped cream and a few raspberries and strawberries and you’re in the waffle breakfast business!

Ingredients

2 cups plain (all-purpose flour)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda (baking soda)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 free-range eggs

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, bi-carbonate of soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs, then add the flour mixture, and mix until batter is just combined.

Heat the waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and brush with a little oil. Pour batter onto the grid, spread batter if necessary, but make sure you don’t overfill the grid. Close the waffle maker and cook until the waffles are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

The waffles will be cooked but maybe a little soft. At least mine were. Put them in the preheated oven for a couple of minutes to crisp up and also to keep them warm.

Make the rest of the waffles in the same way.

I served the waffles with the aforementioned cookie crumble, golden syrup, whipped cream and raspberries and strawberries. Serve them with whatever takes your fancy!

Two Ingredient Pancakes!

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ED75524F-EC2D-4259-B525-AB34C98E51C6Weight Watchers is a fabulous organisation with a no fuss, straightforward approach to weight loss. They provide a wealth of great recipes online that can be created easily and quickly. Many of their recipes are “0 points”, meaning that they tick the box as having ingredients which don’t count towards the points total in the WW food plan.

This recipe is so named as the basic pancake has only two ingredients, banana and eggs. To serve, I added fresh fruit and no-fat yoghurt, which are also 0 points. For a little bit of pizazz, I did serve my pancakes with a drizzle – or maybe a slurp – of maple syrup!

Ingredients 

1 medium banana

2 free-range egg whites

1 medium free-range egg

To serve, pineapple, raspberries, no-fat yoghurt and maple syrup.

Method

Combine the banana,  egg whites and whole egg in a food processor and process until smooth.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. You don’t need cooking oil spray, but  spraying a little in the pan won’t hurt if you’re worried about the pancakes sticking. Drop a tablespoonful of the batter into the frying pan. Cook for 20 seconds on one side or until golden brown, then flip the pancake and cook for a further 20 seconds. You need to be careful cooking the pancakes as they brown very quickly. Repeat with the rest of the batter – you will probably get at least 4 medium pancakes.

Serve the pancakes topped with the no-fat yogurt, a pile of pineapple chunks*, fresh raspberries and a little maple syrup if you dare!

* A great idea to make the pineapple super sweet, is to dry fry the chunks in a frying pan over medium to high heat, for a minute or two – cooking carmelises the sugar – they taste fantastic!

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ANZAC Biscuits 2018

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55B6B95B-BA83-4195-9AF4-3C4B727731C6I haven’t made ANZAC biscuits for a couple of years so I thought it was time to get out the oats and start baking!

I came across this recipe from my one of my favourite recipe sites Queen Fine Foods. It’s a kind of ANZAC biscuit recipe – however it doesn’t have coconut or golden syrup but it does have nuts. I’m very happy about that inclusion as I am a total nut freak!

The link to the original recipe is here.

I changed a few things in my version  – substituting macadamias for pecans and adding another current favourite ingredient, malt.  I added some sour cherries to some of the biscuits too. Finally I put some of the bikkies together with ginger buttercream to make a pretty substantial cream biscuit sandwich!

So I ended up with a few different ANZAC style biscuits ready for ANZAC day – but they didn’t last that long. There are however a few left for the big day  tomorrow.

Ingredients

150g plain flour

90g rolled oats

160g brown sugar

1 tsp sea salt

60g macadamias, chopped

150g butter

1 tsp Queen vanilla bean paste

1 tbls malt (Saunders Malt is good)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp boiling water

1 heaped tbls sour cherries (or raisins or cranberries) to add to half the mixture

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Melt the butter, vanilla and malt together in a medium saucepan or microwave carefully.

Stir the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water together in a small bowl, and then add to the butter. The mixture will foam up.

Quickly add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together with a spoon.

At this point you can mix in the sour cherries to half the mixture if you like.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and roll them into walnut sized balls. Place them on the baking trays, leaving lots of room between them to allow for spreading.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until dark golden brown. The biscuits will have spread and will be very soft. Leave them to cool on the trays for at least five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool properly.

To make the ginger buttercream sandwiches, cream 50g butter with 100g icung sugar and 1/2 tsp ground ginger. Loosen with a splash of milk if the buttercream is to stiff. Spoon or pipe the buttercream onto a few of the biscuits and then place more biscuits on top to finish the sandwiches.

That amount of buttercream gave me 3 sandwiches. Just make a larger amount of buttercream if you want more sandwiches.

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Nutty Praline Slice

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I love nuts! I will put them in all kinds of recipes, sweet and savoury, just to get that lovely crunch when you bite into something yummy.

I made this Nutty Praline Slice when I had some left over sweet pastry and lots of hazelnuts. I made some hazelnut praline as a topping, and incorporated hazelnut praline paste into the slice.

Ingredients 

Sweet Pastry Base

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

60g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

130g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 free range egg yolk

10ml water

Hazelnut Praline Filling

60g butter

60g caster sugar

50g praline paste*

35g plain flour

Lemon Icing

Juice of half a lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a runny icing

Hazelnut Praline  

3 tbls caster sugar

75g hazelnuts

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and salt into 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 in cling wrap and press gently into a flattish disc. Put the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven (fan-forced) to 160 degrees C. Grease and line with baking paper a 27cm x 17cm baking tin.

Roll out the pastry into a rectangle and ease into the baking tin.

To make the hazelnut praline filling, blitz the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the praline paste, then add the flour and pulse until the mixture come together into a smooth filling.

Spread the filling on top of the pastry base, smoothing the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until the filling and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Leave in the tin until cool.

For the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a runny icing. Spread or drizzle the lemon icing over the slice.

For the praline, spread the nuts onto a piece of baking paper on baking tray. Put the caster sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy based frying pan. Carefully melt the sugar over a medium heat, being careful not to stir the sugar or it will crystalize. Once the sugar has melted and turned a tea colour, carefully pour the hot toffee over the nuts and allow to set. Once set, bash the praline into small pieces.

Scatter the crushed praline over the top of the slice, and cut into squares to serve.

*You can buy hazelnut praline paste from specialist food supply stores. I actually had to buy the praline paste in Melbourne, not sure why I couldn’t get it in Sydney!

I know it’s readily available in the UK from Callebaut.

You can also make your own – I found this recipe works well: https://snapguide.com/guides/make-hazelnut-praline-paste/

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