Monday 29 October 2007

Daring Baker Bostini Cream Pie - October Challenge!

It’s that time of the month again, a Daring Baker time! The group is going from strength to strength and if you’d like to know more click here you will also find other Daring Bakers pies appearing over the next day or so, so click away! October’s challenge is a Bostini Cream Pie chosen by Mary. This recipe hails from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro. Having had two weeks school holidays and also being away for a few days has meant I’ve been down to the wire in making this one, but I’m glad I did =)

It’s a Boston Cream Pie in restaurant style! It’s one of the easiest challenges I’ve done so far, requireing a rich custard made on the cooker, an orange chiffon cake and a chocolate glaze.

The custard was so rich with one and a half pints of double cream and 9 egg yolks among it’s ingredients! After cooking it is poured into ramekins and left to chill and set properly.

The orange chiffon cake was so light. I’ve long been meaning to make a chiffon cake, and I can definetley see the appeal of a goegeous cake like this with berries and some cream for a pudding. I baked the cake in a rectangular tin and cut our little hearts of cake, because really what makes this different from a regular Boston Cream Pie is the presentation, and I thought hearts would be good.

The chocolate glaze was equal parts chocolate and butter, I used a spoonful per serving, as it was very rich with the butter.

So how to present? Well there were two options, (1) turn the custard out or (2) leave it in the ramekins and in both cases top with cake and cream.

Custard out.

Custard in.
Out of the ramekin the custard out was a lot easier to eat, if a bit fiddly to unmould. Which do you like best? For the recipe visit Mary at Alpineberry, and thank you to the lovely Mary for choosing a delicious pudding =)

Monday 22 October 2007

Honey Pecan Brownies

I’m just leaving a little post to say I’m going to be away for a few days, but will be back either at the end of the week or next weekend. Looking forward to catching up with my reading when I get back. The Pastry Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather arrived from the US today, so I’ll have some sweet reading while away!

I’ll leave you with a brownie, honey pecan brownies from non other than our lovely Dorie Greenspan and her book Baking from My Home To Yours (they are honey-nut brownies in the book). It’s a kind of fudgy sticky brownie, unlike any other, mmm!

Here is the honey I used which a friend sent to me a good while ago from Denmark as part of a food swap I took part in, I thought it was a pretty container, so wanted to share it with you. Thanks again K! See you when I get back.
P.S. To Amanda, Brilynn and Cynthia I've not forgotten your memes! and I will be getting around to them all soon I hope =)

Thursday 18 October 2007

Holiday Hotcake with Eggnog Cream, Mellow Meatballs and Pea & Pesto Soup

Instalment of 8 the Project from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson. I wondered to myself if I must have been crazy giving myself this project, I know why I'm thinking this - because there are so many new cookbooks out or coming out just now, and they all need a bit of attention... Still I'm going to try and do 2 or 3 a week and hopefully fit in the time to blog about some of my other kitchen escapades, and it's coming up Birthday Season in our family, so a few cakes are in the offing too. I bought Southern Cakes - I can hardly wait to try some recipes from there. A couple of hours ago Bill Granger's new book Holiday arrived, fabulous pictures and good food, but more about sweet Bill in another post...

24 & 25 Holiday Hotcake with Eggnog Cream

This one is a spin on a miracle pudding, the one where you pour on boiling water at the end and it sinks down through the pudding to create a saucy base. This one was flavoured with the Christmas-sy spices of ginger and mixed spice. We adults liked it and the cream (a mix of whisked cream and Advocaat) was a great pairing for a December pudding.

It would be more in place in December, but I felt I had to give this one a go now, I think it was the name that lured me really! The spice-y toffee sauce and the more spice-y sponge was warming and comforting. If gingerbread is your thing (and it is mine) you’d probably like this one. I sweetened the eggnog cream with a big spoon of sugar before whipping, I even managed to use one of my Christmas time dishes to hold the cream in =)

26 Pea and Pesto Soup

Water, frozen peas, spring onions, lime juice and pesto with seasonings. A real express soup, it was good, everybody liked it, but I had to add in some chicken bullion liquid to boost the flavour little. I have a favourite pea soup that I make, and this one didn’t top it, but it was still a nice soup. Great colour too. I’d be interested to hear what anyone else who makes this thinks, without the jaded mental image of another favourite to mar the taste!
I served a mug of soup here with a kind of croque monsieur, which wasn't a nigella recipe (Rachel Allen), so I won't discuss it here, but it was good!

27 Mellow Meatballs

These are a real assembly job. The recipe has bought curry paste, meatballs and even included peeled and chopped butternut squash and sweet potatoes from the shops, but I chose to buy the vegetables and chop myself. When I read the recipe I wondered why nigella called them mellow meatballs, because there is 3 tablespoons of red thai curry paste in it, but all was soon revealed. It tastes (to me) like a speedy tagine recipe, although none of the ingredients point towards this, it is what it tastes like a mildly spiced tagine – but with no fruit. My friend Anna made this a little while ago, and said it was high in WW points, I’m trying to watch what I eat more and I found that with about a half cup of cooked white rice I could only just manage my sixth portion. It not so bad to have something hefty in the points / checks / calories department if it fills you up! – and we did like this, I made it for supper after a busy Sunday and it hit just the right spot. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too spicey or chilli hot, because I really thought three tablespoons of red paste was a fair amount, but it was fine, and I say this as someone who would never ever buy a hot hot hot fresh (or dried for that matter!) chilli.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Strawberries, Noodles and Sparkles!

21 Eton Mess
I made my first ever Eton this Summer, and it was quickly followed by another. When my Mum saw Nigella’s variation in TV, she requested it, so here it is. Nigella’s slight spin on the original is to mix the strawberries with sugar and pomegranate juice, I upped the pomegranate a bit (a splosh more) to make the strawberries more juicy, and the juice made it a more perfumed pudding. This is the first time I’ve bought pomegranate juice, and it’s lovely, it tastes to me how I want a watermelon to taste, but never does. A new juice for the fridge!

22 Sesame Peanut Noodles
This is meant to be an on-the-run from-a-box kind of packed lunch. Noodles, raw mangetout, pepper, and spring onions, beansprouts, coriander and sesame seeds bound with a gorgeous dressing of sesame oil, garlic oil, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, lime juice and peanut butter. I made it for lunch at home one day, and we liked it. I was a little spooked by the cold noodles, (just a little, not enough no to eat it though!) and I’d try this again but with hot noodles for immediate hot eating. The dressing was so good on it’s own, and for anyone who has Nigella’s book Feast, it would be better than the bang bang dressing in the bang bang turkey recipe in there, in my chilli shy opinion that is =). This one is not nearly so fiery, just a bit of chilli taste, and a lot of Asian inspired savoury goodness. Or just use it anywhere a satay type sauce is needed, it was really good with the raw mangetout just dipped into it.

23 Marshmallow Crispy Squares
I have a regular crispy square that I make, and in reality it still hold a lot of appeal for me as an adult. My one has some toffees in it as well as marshmallows. This one is straight marshmallows with butter and rice crispies. These are from the Holiday Snaps chapter of Nigella Express, and Nigella dresses them up with some edible glitter. It make them so beautiful, now you might think I’m exageratting – crispie squares beautiful? Try it and see, both children and adults couldn’t resist the shiny edible glitter, this I will definitely be making an appearance at my little ones birthday party. You can see the glitter in the pictures, but in real life they are even glitzier and you can see millions of sparkles, well a lot anyway =)

Eton Mess from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson.
500g strawberries
2 teaspoons caster or vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons pomegranate juice
500ml whipping cream
4 x meringue nests from a packet, broken up

Chop the berries and place in a bowl with the sugar and juice. (I used extra juice)
Whip the cream to thick but still soft, fold in the meringues. Reserve a ladle full of the berries and juice, then fold the rest into the meringue cream. Spoon into serving glasses / bowls and top each with some of the reserved strawberries and juice. Serves 4. (I'd say 4 - 6)

Monday 8 October 2007

Two Blackberry Puddings & Roast Chicken with Potato & Mushroom Gratin

Here is the next batch of recipes from The Project, cooking from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson.
17. Brandied-Bacony Chicken
I should first say sorry for the picture! I forgot to take a pic of the bronzed chicken out of the oven, and only remembered afterwards, still there is enough to see the burnished colour. This was some bacon fried to crispy, the bacon stuffed into the chicken and some brandy added into the bacon fat and juices in the pan, then tipped over the bird before roasting. It was good, but any roast chicken is good, it wasn’t extra special to me though as the bacon and brandy taste didn’t come through when all was cooked.

18. Potato and Mushroom Gratin
This is the suggested accompaniment to the above chicken, sliced potatoes and mushrooms baked with milk, wine and garlic. We liked this, and the garlic-y mushrooms were a good addition, I wondered if it would have worked with cream instead of the milk, maybe single so it isn’t too rich. Ill try that next time. In the words of one of my online friends though, ‘it isn’t pretty!’.

19. Blackberries in Muscat Jelly
This is a spin by Nigella on her raspberries in chardonay jelly, and a very nice spin it is too. The blackberries and the muscat pair together so well. This would be a great special dinner pudding, I would class it as special because the muscat isn’t cheap and you need two small bottles for six jellies. Still I’ll make this next Autumn again =)

20. Blackberry Crisp
Oh how we loved this! One of the real stars so far from the book. Juicy sweet vanilla sugared blackberries with a seedy-oaty-almondy topping, which was speedily made by melting butter and stirring into the dry ingredients including oats, almonds, sunflower seeds and cinnamon (plus flour and sugar). If you have access to a blackberry (or bramble as we would call them in Scotland) bush do try this one, I had to buy mine so it was quite an outlay, but still it’s a real treat. I’m going to give it a go with blueberries and see how that works out too.

Thursday 4 October 2007

Little Mocha Kisses

If the name isn’t enough the sight of these cutie pie hearts should melt away any resistance.

These gorgeous little hearts are from Rachel Allen’s new book Rachel’s Favourite Food For Living (more about this fabulous fourth book in a later post). They are a sort of short crumbly irresistible coffee shortbread sandwiched when cold with cocoa buttercream. If you like shortbread, coffee, chocolate or melting moments you are in for a treat!

I made them with decaf coffee, as I can’t take shake-y coffee and wouldn’t be happy to give it to little one. Though as we made these together I wouldn’t have been right not to let her taste the fruits of her labour. I’m pulling this one out again at Christmas for sure, if I can last that long…

Here’s the warning though - one small bite and half the plate will be gone!

Little Mocha Kisses
From Rachel’s Favourite Food For Living by Rachel Allen

IngredientsFor the biscuits
175g/6oz self raising flour
75g/3oz caster sugar
75g/3oz butter
2 tsp instant coffee powder or granules
1 tsp hot water
1 free range egg
For the chocolate icing
50g/2oz butter, softened
100g/4oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
3 tsp cocoa powder
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. In a cup or small bowl, mix the coffee with the hot water, then add the egg and whisk together.
4. Add this to the food processor and process until the dough comes together. (If making this by hand, rub the butter into the flour and sugar in a bowl, then add the coffee, water and egg mixture and bring together to a dough.)
5. Dust the work surface with icing sugar and then roll out the dough until it is 5mm/¼ in thick and, using a 4cm/1½ in long heart-shaped cutter, cut out 50-60 heart shapes. (If the dough is a bit soft before shaping, chill it in the deep freeze for 10 minutes before using.)
6. Place the hearts slightly spaced apart on two baking trays (no need to grease) and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly firm at the edges.
7. Remove from the oven and carefully lift off the tray with a metal slice while they are still very hot to prevent them sticking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
8. For the chocolate icing, mix the soft butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl using a wooden spoon, or in the food processor, until it comes together.
9. Use the icing to sandwich the cookies together. If you dip a table knife into hot water as you work, it helps to spread the icing. Store in a box for two or three days. Makes 25 - 30 sanwiched hearts.