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Ham and Leek Pot Pies


I’m making lots of pies this winter, as well as sampling the pies of a couple of of really good bakeries. My local Bourke Street Bakery makes some beautiful beef pies, packed full of beef and encased in excellent pastry. Very yummy if you’re in a hurry and can’t rustle up your own.

I posted this pot pie recipe last year. It’s such a simple one to make as the filling takes no time. I made it recently, this time making ham and leek pasties instead of pies.

So here is the recipe from last year.

”I had some chunky ham pieces and a leek in the fridge so decided that they would be the basis for some simple pies. I also had a lovely washed rind cheese, soft and melting, that I thought would go beautifully with the ham and leek. I’m a huge fan of nuts, so it was a no-brainer that I decided to put some walnuts in the pies as well. They added a lovely crunch and texture to the pies  All these ingredients were stirred into a white sauce, piled into the bowls, topped with puffpastry and baked in the oven.

I recommend using a good bought butter puff pastry for the recipe.

The recipe makes two substantial deep bowl pies. You could double the quantities for a larger pie in a conventional pie dish.”

Ingredients

1 large leek
A knob of butter to cook the leek
Salt
200g ham chunks
50g any soft washed rind cheese
A small handful of walnuts or to taste

White sauce
25g butter
25g plain flour
600ml milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 sheets of butter puff pastry or about 180g from a block of puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for glazing

Method

Cut the leek into small slices. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the leek with a good pinch or two of salt. Cook on a low temperature until the leek slices are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Chop the ham into bite sized pieces and roughly slice the cheese. Chop any whole walnuts into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

For the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes, to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked out.

It’s important to do this and the subsequent stirring in of the milk with a wooden spoon.

Gradually stir in about a third of the milk, making sure the milk is incorporated and there are no floury lumps. When the sauce has noticeably thickened, add another third of the milk and repeat the process. Add the last third of the milk and cook until the sauce is nice and thick. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir the ham, leek, cheese and walnuts into the white sauce in the saucepan. Pile the mixture into the individual bowls.

Cut out circles of puff pastry that are larger than the diameter of the bowls and will be enough to completely cover the tops. Brush the tops of pies with the beaten egg.


Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the top of the pies are golden brown and puffed up.

Serve piping hot straight from the bowls!

Fig and Walnut Cake



It’s fig season and I have just picked up a lovely box of figs at a good price. Up until now they’ve been a little pricey, but February seems to be the start of fig bounty which will last till the end of March.

I made this cake at almost the same time in February last year. I’m posting again as I think the recipe is pretty good, and in preparation for the new fig creation that is to come from the aforementioned box of figs!

This recipe for walnut cake is based on my almond cake recipe that I usually make with stone fruit. I have a couple of versions on this blog. This time, I used walnuts, as I was looking for a robust flavour to go with some caramelised figs. In the almond cake recipe, I use bought ground almonds, whereas in this recipe I take whole walnuts and whizz them in the food processor to make ground walnuts with some little nutty bits still remaining. This gives the cake a nice texture. 

The cake is drizzled with a coffee caramel syrup, and figs which have been poached in this syrup are placed on top. I also put some fresh figs on top which worked well too. But the caramelised figs are nicer.


Ingredients

Cake
150g butter
100g caster sugar
50g brown sugar
3 free range eggs
I teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 teaspoon almond essence
150g walnuts
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

Coffee Caramel 
3 tablespoons caster sugar
75mls good coffee liqueur- I used Mr Black from Botanica Distillery in NSW, a cold brew coffee liquor. Any liqueur is fine!
A few splashes of water up to 50mls to thin syrup to pouring consistency
3 figs, cut in half for poaching, or 2 or 3 fresh figs.

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced. Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

Put the walnuts into a food processor and pulse, stopping every so often to make sure you don’t over process. You want some chunky bits as well as some fine ground walnuts. Set aside, but don’t bother washing the processor!

Combine butter and sugar in a food processor, with vanilla extract or paste and almond essence. Add the eggs one at a time and pulse well.
Fold in ground walnuts, plain flour, baking powder and salt.

Put the mixture into the springform and bake for about 45 minutes  or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

While the cake is baking, make the caramel.

For the coffee caramel, put the caster sugar in a small frying pan or saucepan and dissolve the sugar gently over a low heat. Don’t stir the sugar or it will crystallise! Once the sugar is dissolved, cook until it turns light brown, sort of tea coloured. Take it off the heat and add the coffee liqueur carefully, as the caramel is hot. You can add some water if the syrup is too thick. If the caramel has already turned to toffee, don’t worry. Just gently heat the caramel with the liqueur over low heat and the toffee will dissolve. 

Put 6 of the fig halves into the coffee syrup and poach for a couple of minutes over a low heat until the figs are slightly softened.

Once the cake is out of the oven, and while it is still hot, pierce the top a few times with a skewer and pour a few teaspoonfuls of the syrup over the cake.

Serve the cake with the poached figs on top, with a little more syrup drizzled over the figs, and Greek yoghurt or whipped cream or creme fraiche. Or decorate the cake with the plain figs, or a combination of poached and fresh, and a little of the syrup and yoghurt or cream. Either way it’s delicious.

Jamie Oliver Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts

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Super food, super easy and super good! Jamie’s latest book Everyday Super Food is a bit of a revelation, crammed full of beautiful, colourful, easy recipes that are really healthy.

The research, the nutritional information, and the carefully planned and written recipes make this book a must-read and a must-cook. I’m big on flavour, and what I’ve cooked so far is bursting with it …I can’t  wait to cook more!

If you love cooking, love really tasty food, and would like to feel that you are doing your bit to eat healthily, then get Everday Super Food. It’s common sense, not faddish, and do-able!

I made Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts today. I went for blueberries, next time I’ll try raspberries. I didn’t realize till I was making the recipe that there was no sugar – the blueberries are sweet enough – even for the sweet tooth of this quirky writer! The drizzle of honey on the pancakes themselves when serving adds that little extra sweetness which is nice. Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.

Ingredients

320g blueberries or raspberries

1 ripe banana

170ml semi-skimmed milk

1 large free-range egg

250g wholemeal self raising flour

To serve

4 tbs natural yoghurt

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

Drizzle of honey

Method

Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.

You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey over the whole lot. Delish.

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Pecan Maple Sticky Buns

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Here is another venture into the world of sticky buns, cinnamon scrolls and brown sugar sweet treats. I love my bread making, and I am pretty keen on making enriched dough at the moment.

This recipe is my take on Sticky Buns from the Great British Bakeoff and the inimitable James Morton’s Cinnamon Buns.

It’s an enriched dough filled with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and topped with MORE brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and pecans!

James Morton cooks his buns in a casserole dish or pot such as a Le Creuset, as the heavy sided baking dish creates softer buns. He’s right – it’s the way to go for beautiful soft unctuous buns, so I recommend you try this baking method. Whatever you bake your buns in, make sure that the dish or pan has a rim, as the topping might flow over during cooking.

Ingredients

Dough

250g plain white flour

250g strong white flour

8g table salt

7g instant yeast

100g sourdough starter (optional)

50g caster sugar

280g milk, warmed until tepid

1 free-range egg, at room temperature

50g unsalted butter

Filling

50g unsalted butter

75g brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Topping

100g butter (salt reduced or salted is fine for that “salted caramel” flavour)

2 tbs maple syrup

100g pecan pieces (walnuts work just as well)

Method

Place the flour, salt, yeast,  sourdough starter if using, sugar, tepid milk, egg and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix them together by hand or you can use an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead by hand or in the mixer about for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter and add to your dough. Mix it in by hand or use a machine until completely combined. 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 your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide and up to a metre long. Melt the butter and brush over dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with brown sugar and then cinnamon.

Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, but be careful as the dough is quite fragile. Slice this cylinder into 6-9 roughly equal pieces using a knife.

For the topping, process the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until thoroughly mixed in food processor. Grease a large lidded casserole dish and spread the mixture evenly over the base of the dish. Scatter the chopped nuts over the base of the dish and gently press in.

Arrange the buns cut end down in the casserole dish. Place the lid on the casserole and leave to rise for another hour at room temperature, then check to see that buns have risen.

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30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the lid back on the casserole and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes with the lid on and 10 minutes with the lid off.

Remove from the oven and run a knife around the inside of the dish to loosen the buns.

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Leave for 3-4 minutes for the bubbling to subside – no longer as the caramel will set.

Carefully invert the dish onto a plate with a rim, again to stop the topping spilling over. Lift off the baking dish. The buns will be sitting up beautifully covered in the lovely caramel topping!

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Historical Brownies

IMG_8822Fannie Farmer’s brownies

I always read with interest and great enjoyment the posts of My Revolutionary Pie a fascinating look at American culinary history. I was particularly taken with a “Brownies” post, which detailed the origins and evolution of this now ubiquitous sweet treat.

Below are My Revolutionary Pie’s adaptations of one of the first brownie recipes from 1906 created by Fannie Farmer, in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, and a recipe of a former student of Farmer, Maria Willett Howard, published in 1907 in Lowney’s Cook Book.

Both brownies are different from the dense, heavy versions of today. They both contain quite a small amount of chocolate – 2 ounces (about 57 grams). They are sweeter and less chocolatey. I liked the Lowney’s Cook Book version better  – it has more butter and produced a less crunchy texture. The walnuts really stand out in both versions.

However, the photos look very similar – I can really only tell the difference because I photographed them on different plates!

For the full and fascinating early history of the brownie, see the post:
http://revolutionarypie.com/2015/04/10/brownies/

Fannie Farmer’s Brownies
Adapted from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1906 edition)

¼ cup butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
2 ounces (2 squares) (57g) unsweetened chocolate, melted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163 degrees C) Butter an eight-inch (20cm) square baking pan, then cut out an eight-inch (20cm) square of parchment paper, place it in the bottom of the pan, and butter the parchment.

2. Blend melted butter with sugar. Add the egg and beat well. Mix in slightly cooled chocolate and vanilla extract and stir well. Blend in flour, followed by walnuts.

3. Spread mixture evenly in baking pan, using an offset spatula if possible.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until firm. Let rest a few minutes, then invert brownies from pan onto cutting board, peel off parchment, and slice into squares.IMG_8834

Lowney’s Brownies
Adapted from Lowney’s Cook Book by Maria Willett Howard (1912 edition)

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 ounces (2 squares) (57g) unsweetened chocolate, melted
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163 degrees C). Butter an eight-inch (20cm) square baking pan, then cut out an eight-inch (20cm) square of parchment paper, place it in the bottom of the pan, and butter the parchment.

2. Cream the butter briefly, then gradually add the sugar, and cream well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the slightly cooled chocolate.

3. Whisk together the flour and salt, then add to the batter and mix well. Stir in the nuts.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until slightly firm on top. Cut into squares in pan, then let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.IMG_7251

Muscat Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

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This is a versatile recipe as it can be made in different sizes, served as a dessert or just as a treat. It’s quite easy to make – another food processor mixture which I love! The most time consuming aspect is soaking the raisins beforehand.

Ingredients

1 cup of raisins

1/4 cup muscat

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

A handful of chopped walnuts

Muscat syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 water

1/4 cup muscat

 

Method

Place the raisins into a bowl with the muscat and leave to soak for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. For small cakes, grease a muffin tin. Or, for a larger cake, grease a 20cm round cake tin. I happened to have a small square tin on hand, so I used that, as well filling the remainder of the mixture into muffin molds.

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Put all the ingredients except raisins, muscat and walnuts in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Carefully fold the raisins and muscat and then the walnuts into the mixture. If the mixture looks too wet or sloppy, add a tablespoon or two more of flour.

Spoon mixture into the muffin tin or cake tins. Tap lightly to settle the mixture.

Place the tin/s in the oven and bake for 20 minutes for muffins,  35-4o minutes for the round cake tin or until the muffin/cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I cannot be more  precise than this as the mixture has a lot of liquid and it’s difficult to judge exact cooking times.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan, stirring until dissolved. Then boil for 5 minutes without stirring or until the the syrup has reduced to stickiness but not toffee. Take off the heat and add the muscat.

Remove the muffins/cake from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour over the hot syrup.

Cool the muffins/cake in the tin/tins. Turn out carefully as the the cakes can be quite fragile with the infused syrup.

Serve with a scattering of raisins and walnuts in any left over syrup.

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Caramel Walnut Slice

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Another slice recipe! This recipe is adapted from the May 2014 issue of delicious. magazine in a feature on slices. A caramel topping, crunchy with chopped walnuts, on top of a pastry base. The topping is a little bit soft and gooey, making it almost like a walnut tart.

Perhaps I’ll try converting the slice into a tart next!

Ingredients

Base

125g softened butter

2 tbls icing sugar

150g self raising flour

Topping

2 eggs

250g brown sugar

100g walnuts, chopped

90g desiccated coconut

2 tbls extra flour

Method

Preheat oven to 170degrees C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang of paper on the sides.

Combine the base ingredients in a food processor and whizz until a soft pastry like dough forms.

Press the dough into the baking tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown.

Whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the baked base, return to the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the topping is set.

Cool in the baking tin then cut into slices to serve.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

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I found this recipe in a fabulous cook book of mine, the Silver Palate Cookbook. This book, plus the follow up The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, are treasure troves of stunning recipes; some hearty, some fancy, some healthy, some decadent!
The carrot cake recipe is unusual is that it contains cooked carrots. These give the cake a deep, slightly caramelized, flavour.
I have added ground ginger as well as cinnamon, as ginger works well with carrot. You can omit the walnuts, as I did in the pictured cake, for your nut free friends.
The candied baby carrots were my addition, and they looked really pretty and tasted great!
Ingredients
Carrot Cake

3 cups plain flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbl bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 1/2 walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots
3/4cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

250gms cream cheese, at room temperature
100gms reduced salt butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla pate
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease two 23 cm springform tins.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Place on the centre rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about  50 minutes.

Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the icing sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Decorate with candied carrots and sifted icing sugar.

Candied Carrots

Take 6 baby carrots, trim, leaving some green tops.
Keep smaller carrots whole and slice larger carrots in halves or quarters through the length of carrot.

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Add carrots, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until carrots are translucent, about 25 minutes.

In another small saucepan, combine 1.5 cups of sugar with .5 cup water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer candied carrots from the syrup in which they boiled to this new sugar syrup. Let stand until completely cooled; discard the old syrup.

Transfer carrots to some baking paper, gently pat dry with kitchen towel. The carrots can be used to decorate the cake or stored for a couple of days in an airtight container.

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Fresh Fig, Taleggio and Walnut Pizza on the Grill

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Another pizza on the grill using autumn produce. Figs were plentiful, relatively cheap in Sydney and delicious, during the Indian summer and early autumn.

I added my current favourite cheese, taleggio, with walnuts. Taleggio and walnuts are a match made in heaven, in ravioli, in salads, grilled on cape seed bread and of course on pizza.

The grilled pizza is my usual recipe, featured several times on this blog.

Ingredients
Dough

2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups bread (strong) flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings

2-3 fresh figs,sliced
100-150g taleggio cheese, torn into chunks
1 tablespoon chutney or sweet onion relish, or to taste
A handful of walnut pieces, roughly chopped

Method
Pizza
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

Scatter over fresh figs, taleggio cheese, chutney or sweet onion relish and walnut pieces.

Return to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with a scattering of greens – rocket, baby spinach or similar and fresh herbs.

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Ravioli with Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts and Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato

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Last weekend I decided to make fresh pasta. I hadn’t made pasts in ages, and I was a little apprehensive about setting up the pasta machine and actually using it again.

Of course I had forgotten how easy it was…even if I had to be reminded how to to use it via a YouTube video…

I followed faithfully a recipe from Jamie Oliver ‘s Cook with Jamie. I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and have every cookbook. I think that Cook with Jamie is a really great book with its no nonsense approach to basic cooking skills.

I will therefore refer the reader directly to the link for the recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/a-basic-recipe-for-fresh-egg-pasta

This recipe makes quite a lot of pasta dough. I suggest halving the quantities to make about 12 large ravioli.

I mixed in fresh thyme leaves to half of the dough before the kneading stage to make the Thyme, Taleggio and Walnut Ravioli.

For each kind of ravioli, use the pasta machine to roll the dough so you have 2 thin sheets. It’s important to roll the pasta sheets so they are very thin; I didn’t quite get the sheets thin enough so the pasta was a little thick.

Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts Ravioli

Combine a small handful of fresh thyme leaves,100 gms or so of taleggio and a dozen or so walnuts chopped.

Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato

Combine 100 gms or so of pecorino and a small handful of chopped sundried tomatoes.

For each kind of ravioli, place 6 small spoonfuls of each mixture on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into 6 and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.

Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. I dusted the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape as I wasn’t cooking them for an hour or so.

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Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 5 minutes until al dente.

For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams; pour over both kinds of ravioli and serve with additional shaved pecorino.

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