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Category Archives: Jams, Marmalades, Conserves and Chutneys

Very Berry Eton Mess

Strawberries, cream and meringue – summer on a plate.

In late September in Sydney we are experiencing 30 degeee days and lots of sunshine. It feels more like summer than spring! This is a happy time when the climate of the two hemispheres is somewhat aligned. Late summer in the north meets early summer here.

So let’s celebrate strawberries in all their glory! Here’s an Eton Mess, more procedure than recipe. My version has a mixture of cream and mascarpone, a pink meringue, some strawberry goo (strawberries cooked with a little sugar until gooey) and strawberry powder sprinkled on top, the latter a serendipitous find at @TheSourceBulkFoodsBalmain, my local providore for nuts, grains, dried fruit etc.

Here is the procedure. I am not giving quantities – just use your judgement as to how much you want of each ingredient.

Ingredredients

Strawberries

Cream

Mascarpone

Crushed meringue

Strawberry fruit goo* (you could just as easily use strawberry jam)

Strawberry powder

Method 

Layer individual glass dishes or one large trifle bowl with  hulled fresh strawberries, cut in half if large, or left whole if small.  Add cream to some mascarpone until the consistency of whipped cream – add a little cream at a time so you can find the “right” consistency.

Pile spoonfuls of the cream mixture onto the strawberries, then sprinkle over some crushed meringue. Add a little of the strawberry fruit goo.  Add more spoonfuls of cream, strawberries and larger meringue pieces.

To finsh, sprinkle over some strawberry powder.

So there it is – Eton Mess with a very berry theme!

*Strawberry fruit goo – cook 250g of very ripe strawberries with 50g sugar in a pan over a medium heat, stirring the mixture until the sugar dissolves, mushing the strawberries a little. Cook until the mixture has reduced and you have a sticky jam like consistency.

 

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Roast Beef with Caramelized Onion and Raisin Chutney on French Bread

Here’s a a lovely combo that’s perfect for an alfresco weekend lunch. Thick slices of roast beef, with an easy onion and raisin chutney, on French bread with greens and cherry tomatoes and anything else you fancy.  Pretty easy to prepare, with the satisfaction of having made your own delicious chutney!

Sweet Onion and Raisin Chutney (adapted from July 2013 delicious. magazine)

Ingredients

100 gm raisins

300 ml sweet fortified wine (I used Pedro Ximenez sherry)

100 ml sunflower or vegetable oil

1 kg large red onions, halved, thinly sliced

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

125 ml white wine vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Place the raisins and and wine in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Immediately remove, then set aside to soak for 2-3 hours (or overnight).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes or until the onions are soft and starting to colour and stick to the pan.

Add the sugar, cook, stirring frequently for a further 30 minutes or until the onions are a rich brown colour.

Add the vinegar and soaked raisins, including the soaking liquid, then cook stirring often, for a further 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat, and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Spoon into sterilized jars and seal. This will give you a few jars, so plenty of chutney to use later.

Roast Beef

Ingredients

500 gm piece scotch fillet (this is enough for 2 large sandwiches)

Sea salt and black pepper

1 tbs olive oil

1 tbs butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Place a heavy based baking dish in the oven to heat through.

Thoroughly coat the fillet in salt and pepper on all sides. Drizzle with the olive oil over all sides. Place in a hot frying pan, searing quickly on all sides to caramelize the fillet. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C. Place in the baking dish in the oven with the pan juices, adding the butter.

Cook the beef for 15 minutes for medium rare or 15-20 minutes for medium. Remove from the oven when cooked to your satisfaction and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing thickly.

Sandwich

Assemble the sandwich with the following ingredients or whatever takes your fancy:

French bread stick, butter, roast beef, cherry tomatoes, baby salad greens, sugar snap peas, sweet onion and raisin chutney, plenty of salt and pepper.

 

 

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Flowerpot Soda Bread

Irish soda bread – the quick and easy bread you can make and eat in a matter of an hour. Which is exactly what I do on weekend mornings when I want freshly baked bread to go with my morning coffee!

My version has a spoonful of treacle to give it a malty flavour, alhtough it’s still quite a plain bread. You can zhush it up into a sweeter, more fancy bread by adding dried fruit – I like adding cranberries or sour cherries.

And baking soda bread in individual flowerpots is fantastic for making great little individual loaves. I love serving winter warming stews and casseroles with baby flowerpot loaves. Very rustic!

Of course, if you don’t have (clean) flowerpots on hand, you could just as easily make these loaves in muffins molds or even as free form loaves.

Here is the recipe for treacle flowerpot loaves and the fruity flowerpot variation.

Ingredients
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbls black treacle
290mls buttermilk

For fruity flowerpots, add a couple of good handfuls or to taste, of dried fruit. For my bake, I made half  plain loaves, half fruity.

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly spray terracotta flower pots with cooking spray. Put a little flour into each pot, shaking the pot to make sure the flour coats the inside of the pot. Shake out any excess. You don’t need to be too precise – the main thing is to roughly coat the flower pot to allow easy removal of the loaf once baked.

Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the treacle to the buttermilk, stirring it well.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk/treacle mixture, mixing quickly to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.) Add the dried fruit if using.

Mix well, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. You can even skip the kneading and pile the mix straight into the pots.

Put handfuls of the dough into the pots, filing to about 3/4 full, to allow for the bread to rise. Place the pots on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the loaves are risen and deep brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the flowerpots. The way to do this is to gently run a knife round the edge of the bread in the pot to loosen it, then turn out.

Serve with lashings of butter and nice jam. Here’s the link to my cumquat jam and other preserves, that I love with soda bread.

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Fig and Frangipane Muffins

 

 

Here’s another muffin recipe – I’m always experimenting with ingredients and tweaking recipes to create new taste and texture sensations.

Figs are plentiful in early autumn in Sydney, and a colleague brought me some beautiful bounty from the Southern Highlands from her very own fig tree. Lucky Ms L to have a tree bearing such luscious treats!

This recipe is based on one from Mike McKenearney’s “Kitchen by Mike” see here for details – with a bit of method thrown in from Matt Stone’s Greenhouse Muffins and my own flavour combo of fresh figs, stem ginger and frangipane.

Ingredients

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of sea salt

80g butter, softened

65ml vegetable oil

150g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

75ml buttermilk (or ordinary milk with a good squeeze of lemon juice added)

6 fresh figs

6 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped

1/2 quantity of frangipane

A couple of teaspoonfuls of a good jam – apricot works well

Handful of flaked almonds, toasted

Frangipane

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

1 free-range egg

Method

These quantities make 6 big muffins. You could probably get 8 or so daintier muffins from the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a six-hole muffin tin with baking paper or paper cases.

In an electric mixer, whisk the butter, oil and sugar until smooth, and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should look creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the buttermilk or lemon-soured milk.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into another bowl and then add  1/2 cup of the flour mixture and whisk on a low speeed until smooth. Be careful not to overmix and this will toughen the muffins.

Fold in the remaining flour mixture, again being careful not to overmix.

Chop 4 of the figs into quarters and then half each quarter. Carefully fold the chopped figs and the chopped stem ginger into the muffin mixture and then spoon evenly into the baking papers or muffin cases.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the egg and ground almonds and process until smooth. (You will only need 1/2 this quantity, if that).

Mix a good teaspoonful of the frangipane into each muffin. It doesn’t matter if it’s not mixed in too well – it’s nice to have an almond surprise in the centre of the muffin!

Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

When the muffins are cool, brush the top of each muffin with jam, then sprinkle on some toasted flaked almonds.

I decorated with slices of the remaining 2 figs. It would be nice too, to bake some fig slices on the top of the muffins. My track record of having baked fruit pieces stay on top of muffins and cakes is not good! They always sink. So I content myself with decorating the baked goods with fresh fruit.

Serve on their own or maybe with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.

 

Strawberry Ripple Cake Revisited

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I was looking back at my archives and I found this lovely cake that I made a while back. I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It’s a simple butter cake, with a strawberry jam ripple. The addition of sour cream makes it a very moist cake too!

Summer in Sydney is all about the berries. Every supermarket and green grocer is practically giving away strawberries! And blueberries and raspberries are, well, as cheap as chips or … berries. So I use berries, and in particular strawberries, in cakes, puddindgs and pies quite a lot.

Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degreees C fan-forced.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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Christmas Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo

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If you’re looking for cold pud ideas for Christmas lunch , this is what I did last year. Jamie Oliver had come up with a delightful frozen ice cream bombe using seasonal fresh cherries (at least for us in the Southern Hemisphere). But you could use frozen cherries if you are living in northern climes.

Cherries + cheesecake mixture =  cherry cheesecake semifreddo bombe, spectacular when frozen in a domed bowl and then turned out. Utterly delicious to eat…

Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries because they’re seasonal for us in Australia, cheesecake which is always a winner and semifreddo for all us ice cream lovers!

It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps. It took me an hour or so on Christmas Eve, then freezing time overnight. It was ready to go for lunch on Christmas Day. I made these changes to the original recipe:

I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries)
I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!
Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

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Blood Orange Upside Down Cake With Candied Orange

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Revisiting September:  Here’s a cake I made in september 2014, a blood orange upside down cake. This cake does blood oranges two ways – candied on the top of the cake, (which started off as the bottom) and whole oranges, skin and all, blitzed through the batter. A lovely introduction to the coming months of spring, when it will be warm enough to have afternoon tea in the garden!

Ingredients

2 + 2  blood oranges

200g  + 200g sugar

125g very soft butter

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Method

Candied Blood Oranges

Finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.

Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Cake

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Line the base with baking paper, cut slightly larger than the circle base, making sure the paper comes a little way up the sides of the tin. This is  as a precaution, in case the syrup leaks out of the tin.

Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.

Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!

Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.

Place the candied orange slices on the paper base in the springform tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottom becomes the top.

Place the batter over the top of the slices. Gently tap the mixture to even it out. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cake is cool (not cold), carefully turn upside down on a serving plate. Release the springform clasp, and carefully remove the ring. Even more carefully, take off the base and peel away the baking paper.

You should have a beautiful upside down cake with fruit intact! Brush the cake with the blood orange syrup, or you could serve the syrup on the side as a sauce.

Serve with whipped cream or sour cream or creme fraiche. I prefer the latter two as the cake is very sweet and needs to be offset by a little sourness.

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