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Author Archives: The quirk and the cool

Cherry and Marzipan Chelsea Buns

 

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It’s no secret that this quirky writer loves bread in all its glorious forms! And I particularly love coming up with my own variations of well known recipes.

Chelsea buns – love them! I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting with different fillings, and I think I may have come up with a winner. Maraschino cherries and marzipan make for a bun with an almond flavour, and are a little  sweeter than ordinary Chelsea buns. I put some marzipan through the dough as well, and this helped to make the buns really moist, and keep fresh for longer too.

You can make your own marzipan – I always do so at Christmas for the Christmas Cake and to make marzipan fruit – but for this recipe I use store bought. A great brand in Australia is Blackwood Lane. They have a marvellous kitchen and baking supplies store in Melbourne where you can buy hard to find baking utensils as well as their famous marzipan. You can also order the marzipan online, and it’s available in supermarkets.

The buns are quite sweet – so feel free to add less sugar or cherries in the filling. I think the marzipan quantities are fine, as you want that lovely “almondy” taste.

Ingredients

250g plain white flour
250g strong white flour
8g table salt
7g instant yeast
50g caster sugar
280g milk, warmed until tepid
1 free-range egg, at room temperature
50g unsalted butter
100g of a 250g block of marzipan, roughly sliced

Filling

50g unsalted butter, melted
70g brown sugar
30g raw sugar or Demerara sugar
150g marzipan – the rest of the block
100g Maraschino cherries, drained, reserving the liquid. (Make sure you take the stems off!)
100g sultanas or golden raisins

Glaze

1 tbls strawberry jam, sieved, mixed with a little warm water

Lemon Icing

200g icing sugar
Juice of 1/ lemon
Liquid from the Maraschino cherries

Method

Place the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, tepid milk, and egg into a large bowl and mix together using an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead in the mixer about for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter and add, with the chopped marzipan, to the dough, mixing until the butter and marzipan is completely combined. This should take 2 or 3 minutes in the mixer.

Cover the bowl (I use a disposable shower cap but cling film is fine) and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, until it has grown to roughly double its original size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.

Melt the butter and brush over the dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with both sugars. Scatter the Maraschino cherries and the sultanas or golden raisins over the dough, making sure you cover all of the dough.

Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.

Line a large baking dish with a piece of baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down.

Cover the dish with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns have risen.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.

Remove from the oven, and brush with the strawberry glaze while still warm. Cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, separate them ready for icing.

For the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and enough of the cherry liquid until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon. Go for the rustic look!

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Cherry Jam Meringue Slice

DBF6387D-B84A-4718-85A6-FA7479BB6492 5DCC3599-F2AE-43F0-A89D-FE36FC88BDE8I was flicking through my mother’s well thumbed and dearly loved hand written recipe book, looking for inspiration for a sweet treat to make. I came across her recipe for German Biscuits, a lovely biscuit, jam and meringue recipe. I have made and blogged German Biscuits before – see here for the post. Where the recipe comes from is a little unclear as my post details, but presumably it would be German in origin!

This time I made the slice, as this is what it really is, with cherry jam, instead of apricot, but really any kind of jam works fine.

Ingredients

2 tbls butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
1 cup SR flour or enough to make a stiff dough
Cherry jam
Flaked almonds

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line a square baking tin with baking paper. I used a 20cm square tin.

Cream the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor. Add the beaten egg yolks with a very little water. Mix in the sifted flour. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, and place in the lined tin.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until the biscuit is cooked and golden on top. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 130 degrees C.

Spread the biscuit with the cherry jam to cover. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating mixture until it is of stiff meringue consistency.

Spoon the meringue over the cherry jam, creating rough peaks. Sprinkle liberally with the almonds. Bake in a slow oven  to dry the meringue for about 15 minutes. You can open the oven door after 15 minutes and check to see if the meringue is firm to the touch but still has a marshmallow consistency. Cook for a little longer if necessary.

Remove from the oven and when cool, remove the slice by lifting the baking paper out of the tin. Cut into squares to serve. 709FC6C5-2BDF-4BCC-8B5C-3D024CA45F50.jpeg

Goat’s Cheese, Leek and Tomato Lasagne


Lasagne is one of those really easy dishes that you can prepare ahead of time, stick in the fridge or freezer for later, and heat up whenever you want.

I recently had a lovely goat’s cheese lasagne at my local pub – a bubbling individual ramekin full of cheesy layers and really quite delicious!

So I decided to make a lasagne this weekend – this time a larger sharing version. It was pretty simple, and really, you can put anything you like in the filling, although I do recommend goat’s cheese for its creamy and slightly pungent flavour.

Ingredients

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 400g tin whole tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 big leek or 2 smaller ones
250g goat’s cheese
1 tbls milk
150g Greek yoghurt
Fresh lasagne sheets – enough to make 3 layers
Parmesan to grate over the lasagne
Cherry tomatoes, sage leaves
Fresh basil leaves

Method

For the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic and fry gently until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and using the tin as a measure, add a tinful of water. Add a good grind of rock salt and black pepper and the teaspoon of sugar. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce is thick and reduced, about 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon occasionally as you stir the sauce.

Wash the leek/s carefully to remove any dirt or grit. Finely chop the leeks. Put another frying pan on medium heat – or you can save washing up like me and use the tomato pan after they have finished cooking! Add the other tablespoon of oil, and when the oil is hot, add the chopped leeks. Stir for a minute or two, moving the leeks around to make sure they are all starting to cook down. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the leeks are softened.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Break the goat’s cheese up, you still wants sine chunks so no need to blend or process. Add the milk to loosen the mix, and then add the Greek yoghurt. You are looking for a thick bit spreadable consistency. Season with a grind or two of rock salt and black pepper.

Now for the layering. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Add 1/3 of the leeks.Now put a layer of lasagne sheets on top. The size of your baking dish will determine how many sheets or partial sheets you need. I used one and a half per layer. Spoon ¼ of the goat’s cheese mixture over the lasagne sheets. Now start again and layer 1/3 tomato, 1/3 leeks, lasagne sheets and ¼ goat’s cheese. Finish with the rest of the tomato, the leeks and a lasagne layer.
Spread the remaining ½ goat’s cheese mixture thickly over the top of the lasagne. Grate as much Parmesan as you fancy over the top, and scatter some cherry tomorrow halves and sage leaves.

Place in the bottom of the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and scatter over a few fresh basil leaves before serving.

NB You could freeze the lasagne before baking, or after cooking, freeze whole or divided into meal size portions.

 

Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

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9AE196DF-0973-4F12-819A-5DE78E2DBF1EI’m a big fan of the little cake – delicious cakes in different shapes and sizes, filled with fruit and drizzled with a little icing. Perfect for afternoon tea.

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and baking molds with varying success. I’ve come to the conclusion that too much fruit in the filling can make the little cakes fragile and hard to turn out. It’s also imperative to grease the molds really, really well to stop the cakes sticking.

Here’s a recipe that works. It’s pretty easy as it’s all made in the food processor. You can use whatever fruit you like – I chose strawberries as they are plentiful at the moment, and blood oranges as they are in season. You could substitute the blood orange juice with ordinary orange juice or lemon juice if you like.

Ingredients

125ml canola oil
175g sugar
1 egg
140g natural yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla paste
150g self-raising flour
100g frozen strawberries
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water

Or substitute the juice of 1/2 lemon for lemon icing

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour your chosen molds. Depending on the size of the molds, you should get 6-8 cakes from the mixture. I used mini bundt molds and some Nordic ware rose molds.

Put the oil, caster sugar and egg into a food processor and blitz until well combined. Add the yoghurt, blood orange juice, orange blossom water and vanilla paste, and blitz again. Add the flour and pulse to combine.

Finely chop the frozen strawberries and stir them through the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the molds.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a rack, easing the little cakes out of the molds trying not to break them!

To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a bowl with the blood orange juice and orange blossom water, or lemon juice. Stir to combine to make a smooth flowing icing. If the icu g is too runny, add more icing sugar, if it’s thick, add a little more juice.

Drizzle the icing over the cakes – letting it drip down the sides. Decorate with slices of fresh strawberry and blood orange. I scattered over some freeze dried strawberry powder too. Serve at afternoon tea or anytime you like!

Chicken Under a Brick – Jamie Cooks Italy

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6D42111C-8E54-4691-9492-1C7303D7ED65I am really enjoying reading and cooking from Jamie Oliver’s new book Jamie Cooks Italy

So many lovely recipes and a really interesting guide to authentic Italian dishes with a Jamie twist.

I was keen to try “Chicken Under a Brick” just because I wanted to cook with an actual house brick! I had a few lying around in the back garden, so I washed one and wrapped it in foil and I was ready to go.

The recipe is for a whole chicken cut in half – I baked just one half, but the recipe below has Jamie’s original quantities.

I ate the left over chicken on toasted ciabatta – it was great cold as well!

6AC1EAAD-E338-48D5-802B-7B1EE1E5B974Ingredients 

1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 fresh red chillies
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 bunch of fresh mint (30g)
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (30g)
300ml extra virgin olive oil
100ml red wine vinegar
1 X 2kg whole chicken
Olive oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C. Get two bricks, wash
well, then completely cover each with a triple layer of tin foil. Place in the oven with a large pan or roasting tray to heat through.

Meanwhile, to make the salsa, peel the onion and garlic, then finely chopwith the chillies and place in a bowl with the fennel seeds. Rip off the top leafy half of the mint and parsley, including any tender stalks, then finely chop and add to the bowl ciawith the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper, and mix well.

Use a large sharp knife to carefully cut the chicken in half lengthways. Slash the thighs and drumsticks at 3cm intervals and rub all over with a little olive oil. Carefully remove the pan and bricks from the oven, then place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Place a hot brick on each chicken half, press down, then cook in the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Remove the bricks and pour the salsa straight over the chicken halves in the pan, ensuring they’re well covered. Leave to
rest for 10 minutes, then pull the chicken out of the salsa on to a platter and serve.

As mentioned in the introduction, I toasted ciabatta and piled left over cooked chicken on top – great for lunch or a snack.

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Jamie Oliver’s Happy Cow Burgers

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IMG_5789There is a current vogue for gourmet burger cafes in Sydney and I guess these cafes are pretty universal too. Although there are a multitude of beef, chicken and and fish burgers on offer, vegetarian and vegan versions are very on trend.

I love all burgers as a “flexiarian”, but I’m increasingly interested in trying out veggie burger options.

This is Jamie’s lovely veggie burger recipe which I am reblogging here. I love that it’s named “Happy Cow Burgers” – there is no “cow” in the recipe!

The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals, and I have listed the recipe pretty much as Jamie wrote it with a couple of tweaks.

Ingredients

Burgers

1 bunch fresh coriander

1 x 400g tin of mixed beans

200g frozen broad beans

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 lemon (zest for the burger mix, juice for the coleslaw)

1 heaped tbs plain flour, plus extra for dusting

Olive oil

2 large ripe tomatoes

Cos or any long lettuce leaves

4 gherkins

75g feta cheese

4 burger rolls or 2 long bread rolls

Tomato chutney, to serve

Coleslaw

1/2 small white or red cabbage

1/2 red onion

4 heaped tbs fat-free natural yoghurt

1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard

1 tsp brown sugar

Method

Put the coriander stalks into the processor (reserving the leaves), then drain the mixed beans and add, along with the broad beans, a pinch of salt and pepper, the cayenne, cumin, ground coriander, grated lemon zest and flour. Whiz until fine and combined, scraping down the sides of the processor if needed.

Tip the mixture on to a generously flour-dusted board, divide into 4 pieces, then roll each ball into a ball and flatten into a patty about 2.5cm thick, dusting your hands and the burgers with flour as you go. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the frying pan, followed by the burgers, pressing them down with a spatula and flipping them when golden. Slice the tomatoes and gherkins and place on a serving board with lettuce and crumbled feta. Heat the rolls in the oven, if you want them warm. If the buns are a really soft and fresh, serve as is.

Swap to the grater in the processor, then grate the cabbage and peeled red onion, and tip into a bowl. Chop the coriander leaves and add, with the yoghurt, mustard, and the juice of the zested lemon and brown sugar, then toss well and season to taste. Remove the rolls from of the oven if heating them, and cut them in half.

Serve burger patties with tomato chutney, coleslaw, feta, tomatoes and gherkins.

 

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Pear and Hazelnut Tart – Jamie Cooks Italy

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C42A5815-2EC1-4519-AA14-8C654E97581FI’ve just acquired Jamie Oliver’s new book, Jamie Cooks Italy. It’s beautiful! A wealth of fantastic recipes which highlight the breadth and depth of Italian cooking. Here is a link to the book.

I couldn’t wait to start my baking, so this weekend I made a lovely chicken dish, “Chicken under a Brick”. More of this in a later post!

I also baked “Pear and Hazelnut Tart”, a twist on a classic frangipane tart. The frangipane is made with hazelnuts rather than almonds. You process whole hazelnuts, so the texture is quite gritty compared with traditional almond or hazelnut meal. Pears are baked on top of the frangipane. The pastry and frangipane are both flavoured with orange zest, which adds to the piquancy of the tart.

Here’s Jamie’s recipe as is. A couple of notes – I roll the pastry between clingfilm as this is far easier and less messy than the traditional way! I also substituted baking paper for non-PVC clingfilm in order to bake the tart blind, as I’m not sure you can get the latter in Australia.

Ingredients 

2 oranges
275g unsalted butter (cold)
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 large free-range eggs
Olive oil
150g blanched hazelnuts
150g golden caster sugar
3 firm pears

Method

To make the pastry, finely grate the zest of 1 orange into a food processor, add 125g of butter, the flour, icing sugar, vanilla paste and l egg, then pulse until it comes together into a ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and pop into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Lightly oil a 25cm non-stick loose-bottomed tart tin. Preheat the oven to l80 degrees C.

On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick, then loosely roll it up around the rolling pin and unroll over the oiled tin, easing and pushing it carefully into the sides. Trim off any excess patch up any holes. Line with a double layer of non-PVC clingfilm, then fill with uncooked rice. Bake blind for IS minutes. Remove the clingfilm and rice, bake for a further 5 minutes, then leave to cool.

For the frangipane, blitz the nuts into a fine powder in the food processor. Add the remaining 150g of butter and the caster sugar and blitz again to combine. Finely grate in the remaining orange zest, crack in the remaining 2 eggs and blitz again. Just before assembling, peel the pears, quarter lengthways and remove the cores, then toss in the juice of half an orange.

Spoon the frangipane into the pastry case in an even layer, then arrange the pear quarters on top. Bake at time bottom of the oven for 40 minutes, or until golden. Leave for 5 minutes in the tin, then release and serve warm. Nice with orange-spiked crème fraîche and crumbled toasted hazelnuts.

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