Monday, October 31, 2011
Libby: Last week was a good week for me and fruit tarts. I managed to visit two of my favourite bakeries: Central Baking Depot in Sydney (little sister of Bourke Street Bakery and Silo in Canberra thanks to a work trip. The tart from Central Baking Depot was a barberry & fig frangipane creation with beautifully flaky pastry. It was my first experience of barberries and I found they tasted like sharp blackcurrants. The tart from Silo was a classic custard & passionfruit tart with short pastry. If you ever find yourself in Canberra, seek out the Silo bakery in Kingston (near the government part of town) this delightful bakery will change your opinion of Canberra and make you think of the city in a more favourable light.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
250g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
140ml sour cream or yoghurt
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.
Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
Fast fudge frosting
120g unsalted butter
1.5 c sugar
1.5 c cocoa
1.5 c cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a saucepan,melt butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa. Gradually stir in the cream. Heat over medium heat, stirring till everything is mixed well and is smooth and hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and a pinch or two of salt, to taste.Set aside to cool. (I left it overnight, after which it was the perfect consistency to spread.)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Libby: Becs picked up three of these cast aluminium gem irons at a local church garage sale for an amazing $1 each! She had first pick at some incredible bargains as she was invited to the sale "preview"!
One tray travelled up to Wellington with Mum and Dad over the weekend and I tried them out on Sunday afternoon. Those sturdy little logs in the background are my first attempt at ginger gems - I was working from an old Edmond's cookbook recipe and instructions were scant so I wasn't quite as light-handed with the mixture as I should have been. My gems were a little on the tough side. Gems are quick and reasonably economical to whip up so I'll give it another go soon to work on my technique.
Miriam: I've been a bit remiss with my favourite things lately. But that's not because I don't have favourite things. In fact, most nights before going to sleep I try to reflect on my 3 favourite things of the day (I exempt food from this activity, as otherwise breakfast, lunch and dinner would have it covered). Research shows doing this exercise every day increases happiness. Click here if you want some instructions, then give it a go and see if you notice a difference.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I was intrigued when I saw these pies in Ray McVinnies food section in the Sunday magazine. I have never been a fan of Ray's recipes, but lately his dishes in Sunday have looked more attractive. On that basis (and the fact that we had lamb mince to use up) I thought I'd give this one a go. I actually didn't use his dough recipe as I didn't have semolina, so instead used my go-to basic bread dough, which I think worked just fine for this recipe.
Although the tarts look quite impressive, I'm not sure they had quite the depth of flavour I would have liked. As my flatmate Jane said, they kind-of tasted exactly how you would expect lamb mince to taste. As the lamb mince is cooked in the dough, there was no opportunity to pour off the fat...it was somewhat disconcerting the see the tarts filled with fat as they were cooking. Although the fat seemed to be absorbed during the cooking, I could definitely taste it when I ate them. I think if I was to make them again, I'd serve them with a mint & yoghurt mixture on top which may help to cut through the fat. Or perhaps I you could cook the lamb mince first, drain off some of the fat then cook it inside the dough?
Here's the recipe as per the Sunday magazine:
Lamb, tomato & feta pies
250ml lukewarm water
1 Tbsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
400g high-grade flour
100g fine Italian semolina
olive oil for the bowl
800g lamb mince
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbst dried oregano
3 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for serving
salt and pepper
200g creamy feta, crumbled
250 cheery tomatoes, halved
Put the water into mixing bowl, add yeast and sugar. Let stand in warm place until the yeast has dissolved and mixture is frothy. Mix well. Add flour and semolina. Mix well, then knead for 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Place dough in an olive-oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until it has doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to 220C. Put lamb, garlic, oregano and parsley into a bowl, Season well with 1tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Divide dough into 6 portions and roll each into an oval shape about 20cm long and 12cm wide.
Place 1 portion of lamb mixture, broken into small lumps, down the middle of each dough oval. Sprinkle each with feta and tomatoes. Brush edges of each oval with watter and pull them up, pinching the ends to make a canoe shape. Place pies on a baking tray and leave to rise for 10 minutes then bake for 20 mins or until the pies are well cooked.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Becs: I have several of these spice tins and they are so handy. Much tidier than having loads of little jars and bags cluttering up the pantry, and easy to use when cooking as there is only one lid to take off. I bought mine at various Asian food stores, they do vary in quality it seems, so go for the heavier stainless steel and ensure the lid fits on snugly. I group my spices how I would usually cook with them, so keep sweeter ones separate. I was inspired to make a chicken curry for dinner after seeing Al Brown's version on Get Fresh; yesterday was quite a spice filled day with lunch enjoyed at the Vegetarian Expo - we ate the most delicious samosas with cumin seed-flecked pastry and a date and tamarind chutney, I love a good samosa.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Becs: I am a big fan of Kings Seeds in Katikati. They sell an impressive array of fruit and vege seeds, lots of them being heirloom or organic, as well as flora and fauna. You order your selection via their website (they also send out thick catalogues that are great to browse through, the variety of weird and wonderful vegetables will amaze you) and a courier drops them off a couple of days later. I can never get through a full pack of seeds before they reach their expiry date, so if you want to share some of mine just leave a comment on this post and I will send out one reader a seed selection!