Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fruit Loaf

Now that I have sworn off baking & the making of all things sweet temporarily I managed to sneak in this lovely fruit loaf this weekend telling myself it was bread & not a cake so allowed. I don’t make bread very often but every now & again I get a hankering for it, especially after Megan dropped in for lunch the other day & brought along a fabulous loaf that her husband had baked that morning, very impressive & not something Michael would ever do or most husbands/boyfriends I know of for that matter! The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver Return of the Naked Chef & was delicious, its quite a heavy loaf as I find most fruit breads are, but slathered with a little butter it is perfect for breakfast or a snack & I can imagine in a couple of days will go well in the toaster too, it makes a massive loaf which will last for ages.

Fruit Loaf
30g fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
30g sugar or honey
625ml tepid water
1kg strong bread flour
30g salt
extra flour for dusting
Fruit Mix
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 clove, ground
200g dried apricots
100g dried dates
200g dried raisins

Firstly you need to get your fruit mix ready. Put all ingredients in a food processor & chop very finely.

Now to make the bread
Stage 1. Dissolve the yeast & sugar in half the tepid water.
Stage 2. On a large clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour & salt. With one hand make a well in the centre & pour in all of the dissolved yeast & sugar mixture, with your fingers make circular movements, from the centre working outwards, slowly bringing in the dry ingredients until all yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water & the fruit mix into the centre & gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. If needed add a little extra water & also note that you may not need to use all of the water as the dried fruit retains water too, you will have to watch the dough carefully & be the judge. For mine I used the exact quantities.
Stage 3. Knead for 5 minutes & if any sticks to your hands just rub together with a little extra flour.
Stage 4. Flour both hands now & lightly flour the top of the dough. Make into a roundish shape & place on a baking tray. Score the dough with a knife. Leave the dough covered in glad wrap to prove in a warm, moist, draught free place, it needs to double in size, about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200c.
Stage 5. Take the proved dough & bash the air out, then shape into a round & place on a floured baking tray to double in size again, about 40 minutes.
Stage 6. Bake in a preheated oven for 50 mins to 1 hour. Loaf will be cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mushrooms on Toast

Lately Michael & I have been going for nice long walks each weekend & going out for brekky with Miss Chloe which is something we all seem to like & behave for. This weekend however we went out for a quick dinner while giving the grandparents a trial run at babysitting. It didn’t go quite to plan with Chloe deciding she would not drink one drop of her expressed milk from grandma so I fear we will be needing lots more practice before we are able to leave her for more than a couple of hours, which we need to do in December for a wedding and various Christmas functions. Anyway the point of this is that as we went out for dinner we skipped our breakfast ritual & instead I cooked up a delicious breakfast at home. Of course I turned straight to Bill Granger for inspiration as I looovvee his breakfast recipes. This one was from Bills food & was no exception, I used some Hope Farm Rye & Caraway Sourdough that I picked up from the inaugural Carlton Gardens Primary Farmers Market which was delicious. The caraway seeds gave the bread a flavour that I have missed for years, my grandparents used to buy a particular rye bread all the time & have it out for sandwiches whenever we would visit & this is exactly what it tasted like. Thanks Haalo for your market listings which I regularly check & discovered this new market in. The mushrooms were simple & tasty, put the whole lot together with some ricotta & a beautiful dish is created once again.

Mushrooms on Toast

40g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra, for brushing
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g mixed small mushrooms
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 slices sourdough bread
1garlic clove, extra, for rubbing on bread
250g (1 cup) ricotta cheese

Put half the butter with the oil & chopped garlic in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Add the mushrooms, 60ml water & sat & pepper to taste. Cover & cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked & the liquid is syrupy. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, parsley, tarragon and lemon zest. Taste for seasoning & adjust if necessary. Whisk the remaining cold butter through to thicken the mushroom sauce.

Towards the end of the cooking time, brush the bread on both sides with the extra oil. Grill until golden on both sides, then rub both sides with a cur garlic clove & place on serving plates. Top with ricotta & then mushrooms & serve immediately. Serves 4.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chocolate Nut Meringues with Cream and Berries

I am a big fan of Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Pavlova so when I saw this recipe for something similar in Marie Claire Zest, yet with the added bonus of nuts, I just had to give it a try. Well they were just as good & tasted deliciously like ferrero rochers. As you can see I topped mine with strawberries as that’s about all that’s available now, I cant wait to have them with some raspberries & other berries too. They are ideal for the nicer weather now & the fact that you can make them in advance & just put them together at the last minute makes them perfect for entertaining.

Chocolate Nut Meringues with Cream and Berries

3 egg whites
200g caster sugar
2 tablespoons dark cocoa
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
50g flaked almonds
150ml cream, whipped
500g mixed berries

Preheat oven to 150c. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then slowly add the sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is white & glossy. Fold in the cocoa and ground hazelnuts, then spoon the meringue into 6 large dollops on the tray. Using the back of a spoon, create a dip in the top of each meringue. Sprinkle with almonds and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off heat, but leave the meringues to cool in the oven wi the door ajar. Serve topped with whipped cream & berries.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spiced Indian Kofta

With spring in the air, I like all other Melbournian bloggers out there it seems, am very excited about the new food that spring brings with it. Now I know you are all thinking lovely fresh broad beans or asparagus or some such healthy food but I am talking the start of barbecuing again, don’t you just love it when you are walking home around dinner time & the smell of burning meat is wafting past, makes you just crave that first bbq instantly. Anyway I didn’t actually bother with breaking out the Barbie for just Michael & I but I did try out a new recipe for when I do break it out very soon. This comes from Ainsley Harriott’s Ultimate barbecue bible which is jam packed full of interesting ways with meat, fish, veg & all things barbecue. Normally to me a hamburger (or variation of) is a hamburger & they don’t do that much for me, these tasty little morsels however are sensational, bursting with flavour & even a little bit of punch, they are so tasty that they will be on the menu for the next bbq for sure.

Spiced Indian Kofta

450g lean minced beef
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5cm fresh root ginger, peeled & finely grated
2 spring onions, trimmed & finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garam masala
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 green chilli, seeded and very finely chopped
3 tablespoons Greek natural yoghurt
a little oil for brushing
lemon wedges & extra yoghurt to serve

Mix all your ingredients apart from the brushing oil & lemon wedges together well with your hands. Then divide into 8, if skewering, shape each piece into a long sausage around each skewer. Or you can be lazy & just shape into patties to fry up on the Barbie.

Brush with a little oil & barbecue over medium hot heat for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges & extra yoghurt. We had ours on naan with some salad which was lovely.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chocolate Filled Oat Crunch

This week I was off to Megan’s for lunch with the girls & my contribution was these very yummy copies of the good old Kingston bickie. I love the original & of course as always, home made (to me at least) is always better & these are no exception. The biscuits are really very sweet which is ok by me & it was very difficult but I didn’t leave any at home (though I of course did sample a couple first & let Michael in on some too) & the leftovers remained at Megan’s, my willpower is getting pretty good lately, wonder how long it will last?

Chocolate Filled Oat Crunch

180g butter
120g demerara sugar
90g golden syrup
150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g desiccated coconut
60g rolled oats
150g milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 160c. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar & golden syrup until pale & fluffy, then add flour, bicarb of soda. Coconut & rolled oats and beat on slow speed until just combined. Spoon teaspoons of the mixture onto baking paper lined oven trays. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. Meanwhile, melt chocolate, cool to a thick consistency & spread over half of the biscuits & sandwich with the remainder. Biscuits will keep in an airtight container for 5 days.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Caffe Latte Cream

This is the elegant after dinner cake that I made for my Dad for Fathers Day last weekend. It is another Nigella recipe from her Chocolate Cake Hall of fame in Feast. Calling it an after dinner cake is just my thing as the intense coffee flavour seems to suit the late night piece of cake with coffee or even a nice Muscat more than say an afternoon nibble but I’m sure it would be delicious at any time of day. My cake came out really well, for some reason after I poured over the liqueur & let it cool, the top went crisp & didn’t sink at all. I could have eaten a lot of this but for once showed restraint & only had one piece then left the rest a t my mums so temptation was not in my path. I have a holiday to Noosa coming up in 2 months & have been very slack about getting rid of the baby belly, in Winter it hardly seems worth the effort. So now, I’m not going so far as to diet but I am baking less (trying anyway) & only making for visits to other people so I at least only end up eating a bit (and bowl licking of course which is my downfall) but I just cant bring myself to cut out baking altogether. Hopefully my daily walks in the gorgeous spring weather will help & I wont have to intensify my modified eating plan just yet.

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Caffe Latte Cream

150g dark chocolate, chopped
150g butter
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g plain flour
5 teaspoons instant espresso powder
4 tablespoons Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur

Caffe Latte Cream
75g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
375ml double cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Take anything you need out of the fridge to bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180c. Butter & line a 23cm springform tin. Melt the chocolate & butter & set aside to cool slightly. Beat the eggs, sugar & vanilla together until thick, pale & moussey. They should have at least doubled in volume, even tripled. Gently fold in the flour & espresso powder & finally add the chocolate & butter mixture, folding gently again. Pour into the tin & bake for 35-40 minutes until the top of the cake is firm. Immediately pour over the liqueur & then cool completely on a rack in the tin before releasing from the tin.

For the cream, melt the white chocolate & let it cool. Fold in the cream & espresso powder, whipping together to thicken a little. Dust the cake with cocoa & serve with the cream alongside.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chocolate Malteser Cake

Here is a very Kingly looking cake with its lovely malty crown which I thought was fitting for Fathers Day celebrations. The malty flavours running through the cake & icing, topped with the maltesers really gave this cake a unique flavour which seemed to go down very well with all, it was lovely & not too sweet or heavy. The recipe comes from Nigella's feast. For Michaels first Fathers Day, Chloe showered him with gifts & we had a lovely day out at his sisters in Laurimer, which is a lovely estate out in what to me feels like the country, around Whittlesea way. They have a huge house on a humungous block that is really very nice though I can’t imagine living that far away from it all in such isolation from my beloved Brunswick with its unique mix of people, parks, cafes & shops that provide endless hours of walking & entertainment for Chloe & I, especially now that the weather is getting to be just how I like it, sunny & happy! So for now I will stick to my little house that I love so I can be where the action is & dream of the day I can afford a big house in Brunswick with a big backyard so I can have my veggie patch, fruit trees & grass for the kids to play on, who knows I may just get my dream one of these days if I can be patient a little while longer (note patience is not my strong point!).

Chocolate Malteser Cake

150g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
175ml milk
15g butter
2 tablespoons horlicks
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
45g horlicks
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 x 37g packets maltesers

Take anything you need from the fridge out & allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 170c. Butter & line two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking paper.

Whisk together the sugars & eggs while you weigh out the other ingredients. Heat the butter, milk & horlicks in a saucepan until the butter melts, and it is hot but not boiling. When the sugars & eggs are light & frothy, beat in the horlicks mixture and then fold in the flour, cocoa, baking powder & bicarb of soda. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins & bake for 25 minutes, the cakes will spring back when touched when ready. Let them cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes & then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

Put the icing sugar, cocoa & horlicks in a food processor & blitz to remove any lumps. Add the butter & blitz again. Stop, scrape down the sides & start again, pouring the boiling water down the funnel until you have a smooth buttercream. Sandwich the cakes together with half the mix & put the rest on top then finish off with a ring of maltesers around the edge.