Monday, April 14, 2014

Dark Chocolate Rocky Road

I couldn’t help myself, I had to include this in my Easter posts. With a cocoa content of 70% this is more for the grown-ups than the kids. A piece of this with a tea or a coffee would finish off an Easter lunch perfectly. Or present it in a cupcake patty case, wrapped in cellophane as a gift.

I don’t use the mini baking marshmallows because the taste isn't right. You need the sweetness of normal marshmallows to counter the bitter cocoa. I’m also avoiding the use of coconut as it gives the finished product a rough texture. If your Turkish delight has a coconut covering, it’s fine to use it, just shake off the excess.

You will need to temper the chocolate. You want to do this for a few reasons, the main ones being, it will make it lovely and glossy and you will get a lovely snap when you bite into it. There is a video on how to do this under my video menu, or there you can read the Lindt instructions here .

The fun bit is the presentation. You could go for clusters, a slice, or as I did, in cupcake patty cases. If using a patty case, first put the wet chocolate mix into silicone molds and when set, transfer to a patty case.

Rocky Road for Grown-ups

Recipe Dark Chocolate Rocky Road

200gm dark Lindt chocolate 70% cocoa
100gm marshmallows
150gm best quality rose Turkish delight
120gm macadamia nuts, dry roasted and halved
¼ cup dried cranberries

Slice marshmallows in half and the pieces of Turkish delight into quarters.

Temper your chocolate and allow to cool slightly.

Mix all the ingredients into the melted chocolate and fold through to evenly coat everything.

Spread onto a tray or into a dish that has been lined with plastic wrap. Or into silicone molds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until set.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fruitmince and Coconut Tart

I saw this tart on a counter, in a Café in Mansfield a few weeks ago and I desperately wanted to order it but I just couldn’t fit it in and I couldn’t grab one to go. So I thought I would go home and make my own to satisfy the craving. There’s not much to it and I recommend that you serve it with an extremely generous dollop of cream.

I loved the pastry for the Custard and Prune Tart recipe I used previously, which was taken from Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine. I’ve slightly altered the reproduced pastry recipe below. There is no sugar in the coconut topping, when I first made it, I included some, but it was overwhelmingly too sweet.

Fruit Mince and Coconut Tart

Recipe Fruit Mince and Coconut Tart
410gm Robertson’s fruit mince
Almond pastry
185 gm (1¼ cups) plain flour
55 gm (1/3 cup) pure icing sugar
30 gm (¼ cup) almond meal
125 gm cold butter, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk
Coconut topping
2 organic eggs
2 cups shredded coconut
¼ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 180°C.

For almond pastry, using a food processor, process dry ingredients until combined, then add butter and process until fine crumbs form. Add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon cold water and process until mixture just forms a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to bring together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm-thick place in a lightly greased 22cm-diameter loose base flan pan. Trim edges flush with sides. Prick base with a fork and bake blind until the pastry starts to colour (15-20 minutes). Remove paper and weights, bake until golden (4-5 minutes), then cool completely.

Spread the fruit mince evenly over the pastry base.

In a bowl whisk the eggs and then mix in the coconut, flour and baking powder. Pour over the fruit mince and spread evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cool in tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with cream.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Figs with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Topped with Vincotto and Hazelnuts

I am crazy for this dish and I don’t even like hazelnuts, but because all the flavours work so well together, I stick with them.

Most recipes you see for roasted figs use a blue cheese such as gorgonzola, I use it as well, but I wanted to try a different blue cheese this time. I chose Shropshire Blue which is described as a cross between Stilton and Cheshire. It’s orange colour might be a little alarming, but the flavour was fantastic. But does it add to the visual appeal of this dish?

Figs are in season here in Australia and this dish would make a great starter on any Easter table.

I have to thank my friend Jill for giving me a bag of freshly picked, beautifully ripened figs that inspired me to make this dish. I also have to thank my new work friend Glovuse for also giving me a bag of figs, I guess I'm making fig and pear paste this weekend.

Figs with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Topped with Vincotto and Hazelnuts

Recipe Figs with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Topped with Vincotto and Hazelnuts

8 ripe figs
225g Shropshire blue cheese, divided into 8
8 slices of prosciutto
150g hazelnuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C.

To toast the hazelnuts, spread in a single layer in a baking tray. Roast for 10 minutes or until they start to give off an aroma and their skins start to split. Remove from the oven and place in a clean tea towel and gently rub to remove the skins. Allow to cool and roughly chop or crush in a mortar and pestle.

Increase the oven temperature to 200°C.

Slice a small cross into the top of each fig and place a piece of cheese into the opening. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each fig – use a toothpick to hold them in place if needed. Place in a baking dish.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts and the prosciutto starts to crisp.

To serve top with hazel nuts and a good drizzle with vincotto.

Serves 4.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spelt, Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

I’m starting my Easter blog posts early, for I will be in a tent on the banks of Wakiti Creek - and in all likelihood, eating beans from a can, over Easter.

I had never made hot cross buns before last weekend. I know, weird right? I was going to say I just whipped up a batch for my guests, but when you make a anything that has yeast in it, there is no whipping up, it’s takes planning and time. These little gems took 2 hours of rising time and 30 minutes of cooking time.

Obviously this recipe isn’t for your traditional hot cross bun, there are plenty of those available in the shops, I went for something a little bit different using ingredients I had in the pantry. You can hand knead the dough or choose the easier, cleaner option of using the dough hook of your mixer and embrace the machine.

Spelt, Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

Recipe Spelt, Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

4 cups organic spelt wholemeal flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch sea salt
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup dark chocolate bits
300ml milk
1 tbs dry yeast
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Flour Paste
½ cup spelt flour
5-6 tbs water

1/3 cup water
2tbs caster sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

In a small bowl, warm half of the milk and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the mix starts to thicken.

In the bowl of your mixer combine the remaining dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

In another small bowl, combine the remainder of the milk and eggs.

Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove top.

Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and pour in all the wet ingredients.

Put the mixer on the lowest speed and knead for 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap and put in a warm spot for 1-1½ hours or until the mix has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and give it a quick knead on a floured surface. Divide into 12 even ball shaped portions. Arrange on a lined baking tray with a little space between then - about 1cm.

Let the buns rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Mix the flour paste to a smooth consistency and spoon it into a small snap lock bag, snip off a small corner and pipe crosses onto the buns.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the buns are cooked through.

To make the glaze combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Brush warm buns with the glaze and serve with butter.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crispy Skin Duck, Truffle Oil Parsnip Purée with Red Current and Wine Sauce

I don't cook duck as much as I should, it's such a great meat, but it is expensive. So when I do cook it, I want to make sure I come up with something that is a little bit special. This recipe combines many of my favourite ingredients, duck, truffle oil, red current jam.

Crispy Skin Duck, Truffle Oil Parsnip Purée with Red Current and Wine Sauce

Recipe Crispy Skin Duck

4 duck breasts
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Pat dry the duck breasts with paper towel. Diagonally score the skin of each breast and season well.

In a large fry pan on medium/high heat, add a little olive oil and cook the duck, skin side down until the skin is golden brown, and the fat starts to render off approx. 6 minutes. Turn the duck over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Drain off the fat, turn the duck skin side up and put the pan into the oven and cook for 5-6 minutes.

Remove the breasts from the pan, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

You can use either red currant jelly or jam to make this sauce. Personally, I prefer the jam as I like the texture of the sauce with pieces of currant in it.

Recipe Red Current and Wine Sauce

½ shallot, finely chopped
30g butter
1 cup red wine
½ cup red currant jelly or jam
2 sprigs thyme
Sea salt
Black pepper

In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the chopped shallot and butter, cook for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Add the red wine, currant jelly, thyme and season well. Allow to come to the bubble then reduce the heat to simmer and let the sauce reduce for 5-6 minutes.

I think everyone should have a bottle of truffle scented oil in their pantry. It adds an amazing earthy, depth of flavour to all mashes, potato, sweet potato, pea and one of my favs, parsnip.

I use the Simon Johnson White Truffle Oil, always make sure you get the real deal.  Parsnips tend to be a bit stringy sometimes, so I blitz them in food processor rather than hand mashing.

Recipe Truffle Oil Parsnip Purée

4 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
50gm butter
Truffle Oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cook the parsnips by boiling or steaming until completely soft.

Tip into a food processor, add the butter and a good drizzle of truffle oil. Season and blitz until completely smooth. Taste to see if it requires more truffle oil.

To serve, slice the duck breasts on a bed of purée parsnip with sugar snap peas and a red current sauce on the side.

Serves 4.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tortilla de Patatas

Most of us can whip up a tortilla de patatas, or as we commonly refer to it as, Spanish tortilla, for dinner during the week with ingredients found lurking in the back of the fridge, eggs, spuds, roasted red pepper strips - ok that last ingredient might just apply to me. But you get the picture, a few basic ingredients and you have a bang up, hearty dinner. If you have some herbs and chorizo, go crazy and put them in as well.

This version doesn’t require cups and cups of olive oil. Let’s be realistic here, most of us these days probably go for healthy over authentic.

Tortilla de Patatas

Recipe Tortilla de Patatas

Olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
6 large organic eggs, beaten
500g potatoes
Roasted red pepper strips
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat your oven grill.

Cook your potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) in a large pot of salted water. Drain and allow to cool. Slice the potatoes - to a thickness of about 5mm.

Heat a good dash of olive oil in a large, non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. Fry the onions until they start to soften. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Layer half the potatoes in the pan, then scatter over half the onion and some capsicum strips (optional). Repeat with onions and potatoes. Season the egg mix and pour over the potatoes. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 6-8 minutes.

Take off the heat and place in the oven under the grill and cook until set and golden on top, approx. 3-4 mins.

Invert onto a plate and serve.

Serves 4.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Tapenade on Crostini

It's almost birthday time for Lou's Kitchen Table, that second year went by so fast. I think to mix things up and to keep it fresh and to keep it interesting, I'm going to be breaking the dinner parties down into individual posts. I will not tolerate anyone uttering the word lazy thank you.

This is a quick tapenade because you use bottled or pre packed roasted red peppers. Just make sure they are in oil and not vinegar. But if you are lucky and have the time to roast your own, just add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture to make it moist.

Quick Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Tapenade on Crostini

Recipe Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Tapenade on Crostini

1 baguette sliced 1.5cm thick on the diagonal, lightly toasted
390gm roasted red pepper strips, drained
½ cup blanched almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper
Fresh basil leaves

Hand chop the peppers and put into a medium sized bowl.

In a food processor blitz the toasted almonds for a few seconds, you want a coarse mix, not fine crumbs. Add to the peppers. Add the chopped garlic, mix and season.

Spoon the mixture onto the crostini, top with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

Makes 12 crostini.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Indian Sliders with Spiced Wedges

Sliders are still the cool menu item around town (well, at the time of this blog post anyway). Indian food is always cool. It was only a matter of time before I combined them. Let’s be honest here, I didn’t invent it, but I think my contribution to this craze is pretty passable.

Indian Sliders with Spiced Wedges

Indian Sliders with Spiced Wedges

12 brioche buns, split and toasted
12 Indian chicken patties
1 large red onion, sliced
Sliced cucumber
Spiced Wedges
Yoghurt and Mango Chutney Sauce

Recipe Spiced Wedges

1 kg potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp chilli powder
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Combine all the spice ingredients, along with the olive oil in a small bowl and mix well.

Wash and dry your potatoes. Cut your potatoes into wedges, leaving the skin on. Place in a large bowl and pour the spice mixture over the potatoes and toss to evenly cover.

Tip the potatoes onto a large baking tray and bake for 45 minutes.

Recipe Yoghurt and Mango Chutney Sauce

1 small tub Greek style yoghurt
3 tbs Sharwoods Mango Chutney
1 clove garlic, crushed
Squeeze lemon juice

In a bowl, combine ingredients and refrigerate until needed.

Recipe Indian Chicken Patties

1kg chicken or turkey mince
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 long green chilli, finely chopped
5cm piece of ginger, grated
1 cup of fresh coriander chopped
½ cup mint leaves, chopped
2 organic eggs
Sea salt
Ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour – or overnight.

Preheat the barbecue plate on a medium heat.

To prepare the patties for the bbq, take an ice cream scoop size amount (if making sliders, more if making normal burgers) and shape into 2cm thick patties.

Lightly oil the barbecue plate and cook 2-3 minutes each side.

Makes 12 slider patties.

I love baking bread, but I don’t love standing and kneading. I’m very lazy that way, but I figure I’ve got a KitchenAid, so why not let it do all the hard work for me. For this recipe I use the paddle attachment rather than the dough hook.

This is a modified brioche recipe, it’s a bit lighter on the eggs and butter and makes great hamburger buns. And like most bread based recipes, this takes time, so planning is essential.

Recipe Brioche Buns

1 cup warm water
3 tbs full fat milk
2½ tbs caster sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
50gm butter, softened
1 large organic egg, beaten
1 organic egg yolk, for brushing

Nigella seeds

To make the dough, in a bowl combine the water, milk and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let stand until it becomes foamy.

In the bowl of your mixer, add the flour, salt and butter. On a low speed mix the ingredients until it forms fine crumbs. Pour in the yeast mixture and the beaten egg. Continue to mix on low for about 10 minutes.

Scrap the dough from the sides of the bowl and cover with cling film. Put the bowl in a warm place and let it rise until it has doubled in size. This will take between 1.5-2 hours depending on the room temperature.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts. To shape the dough, slightly flatten each piece into a round and then pull up each side pinching it together in the center. Turn the ball over and place it on the baking tray. Leaving a few centimeters between each bun.

Place a piece of cling wrap over the rolls and let them rise for 1 hour.

Before baking, brush each roll with some egg wash and sprinkle with nigella seeds.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spaghetti alle Vongole

I get super excited when I find fresh clams and pipis at the market. I immediately think spaghetti alle vongole and memories of Italy come flooding back. My first ever dinner in Rome was spaghetti alle vongole, it was so good and so simple, that I can't remember any other food I ate there.

In Australia we can substitute pipis for clams when available. I have fond memories of weekends down at Venus Bay with friends, rolling up our pants and doing the twist in the cold, wet sand finding pipis which we would cook up in a big pot, with loads of garlic and white wine, and a large chunk of crusty bread on the side.

I sometimes give into temptation when I have a craving and buy a can of baby clams, but it’s never the same.

This is a great week night meal, it’s light, it’s tasty and more importantly, it takes 10 minutes to cook. I prefer capers to parsley, but you can do either. Below is a recipe for 2, it's easy to double it or even triple it.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Recipe Spaghetti alle Vongole

190gm spaghetti
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 eschalot, finely chopped
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp rinsed capers
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup white wine
500gm small, fresh clams or pipis
Sea salt
Black pepper

If your clams aren’t already cleaned and grit free you will need to scrub the outsides and then soak them for several hours in a bucket of frequently changed, cold water.

Cook your spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking. In a large fry pan, on a medium-low heat, add a generous slug of olive oil and lightly fry the garlic and eschalot for a few minutes. Then add the dried chilli flakes, capers and tomatoes. Toss until the tomatoes are warmed through. Turn the temperature up to high, pour in the white wine and add the clams. Season, put the lid on the pan, toss it all around and let cook for 3-4 minutes.

Strain the spaghetti and add to the fry pan, stir through. Discard any shells that aren’t open.

Just before serving give each serving a good drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 2.