Friday, June 29, 2018

609/1038 - Stephanie's quince and browned butter tart

This is the second last of my little run of quince recipes and it is an absolute ripper. And how could it not be? Combine home-made shortcrust pastry (which is a winner every time in my opinion), sensational poached fruit and a burnt butter topping that is so incredibly good it is going to be replicated in my kitchen ad infinitum.  

I am embarrassed to share just how much of this tart ended up in my belly. Let's just say my already snug jeans are relieved that the last piece has been devoured.   

My tips for this recipe:
  • If using a loose bottomed flan tin, set it on a tray in order to move it safely in and out of the oven. I learned this tip the hardest way a few years ago, sliding my hand under a flan tin as I picked it up and popping my uncooked crust and filling up, out and all over the floor. 
  • Don't worry too much about perfect placement of the quince; the topping covers it anyway. I just cut thick slices and squashed them together so that there were no gaps in between. 
  • As always, feel free to substitute the castor sugar for coconut sugar. I had a bit left over from the pancakes which was mixed with cinnamon so I tipped that in there too. Do your taste buds a favour and add a good dash of cinnamon. It is wonderful. 
  • I blind baked the pastry the night before and then ran out of motivation. Feel free to do the same and leave it in a sealed container overnight if required. It doesn't appear to do it any harm. 
  • As soon as your butter starts to brown, get it off the heat! It will continue to cook for a time and so you can swirl the pan off the heat for a minute or so more if required. As soon as you are happy with the colour (and that incredible smell that will emanate) start to tip it, whisking, into your egg mixture. 
Just. So. Good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New York Bagels (Not a challenge recipe)

We have developed a taste for bagels in my house which would not be such a bad thing if they were not so expensive! When I realised we were shelling out $1 per bagel I decided it was time to try making them for myself. I (ever so slightly) adapted the bagel recipe listed on Taste and was very happy with the result. Even better than the taste, they cost just under 10 cents each to make!

Ten bagels for the cost of one? I'll take that.

The centres of these incredible bagels are somehow light and fluffy but also wonderfully chewy. But the centres have nothing on the chewiness of the amazing crust. The only thing I need to improve on is making a bigger hole next time so that there is more crust to enjoy. The best feedback was from my eldest who said, "I like the ones we buy, but yours make me close my eyes when I eat them. So good."

If you are also a bagel lover, this recipe is one you must try! 

Fluffy & chewy New York bagel recipe

1.5 cups very warm water
3 tsp dried yeast 
1 tbsp castor sugar

600g plain flour
2 tsp salt

Oil for tray

2 litres water
1 tbsp castor sugar

1 egg (lightly beaten)
Seeds of your choice (Poppy, chia, linseed, sesame)
  • Combine the warm water, yeast and castor sugar in a bowl. Stir well and leave for 5 minutes or until frothy.
  • Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. (I used my KitchenAid bowl)
  • Pour wet yeast mixture into the flour and knead for 10 minutes by hand or around 5 minutes in the KitchenAid with a dough hook or until smooth and elastic.
  • Put dough in a bowl (or leave in the KitchenAid bowl), cover with a tea towel and prove in a warm place for 30 minutes
  • Oil a large oven tray
  • Divide dough into 10 x 100g pieces and roll into balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each one (make it a decent size) and place on oiled tray, flattening the bagel a little with your hand. Prove the shaped bagels on the tray under a tea towel in a warm place for 10 minutes.
  • Combine water and sugar for boiling in a large saucepan. Stir well and bring to the boil.
  • Boil bagels, 3 or 4 at a time, for 3 minutes each side (6 minutes total). Use a slotted spoon to move them in and out of the water and to flip them at the halfway point. Place bagels back on the oiled tray when they are done. 
  • (Optional) Brush with lightly whisked egg and top with seeds of your choice. I used poppy seed and linseed. 
  • Bake in a 180°C oven for 18-20 minutes. They should be golden on top and sound hollow when you knock on the underside. 
Cool on a wire rack and resist them for as long as you can!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

608/1038 - Quince pancakes for breakfast or brunch

The quince just keeps on coming...

This pancake mix does not need resting and so these are a FABULOUS idea for a fast breakfast; assuming you have poached quince on hand of course! The sugar in the poached quince caramelises as the pancakes cook and so the result is unbelievably sweet. Cream would definitely be too much for these beauties and we opted for a Greek yoghurt topping instead. I also added a tiny pile of poached quince and a sprinkling of coconut sugar and cinnamon which was a wonderful combination. In hindsight, a small pile of toasted almonds would have been lovely on top. Next time...

You need to be very careful making these as they cook quite differently to regular pancakes. Instead of waiting for bubbles to appear on top, keep an eye on the underside and turn them over as soon as they are quite brown. Medium heat is quite sufficient and I found that if the pan was even a little hot they cooked far too quickly. 

I have two teenage boys and this amount was still too much for the four of us. This is not a bad thing as they will make a wonderful snack for us throughout the day. 

I think I am in love with poached quince x

Monday, June 18, 2018

607/1038 - Gooseberry butter (but with raspberries)

This treat was made especially for a dear friend of mine. We have been close for more than 25 years and we have that kind of wonderful friendship that does not change, no matter how much time we spend apart. He is quite simply one of my favourite people in the world and so when I found out he loved raspberry, I just had to find a recipe that would fill my macarons and satisfy his penchant for this fabulous fruit. 

I feel some guilt for switching the fruit in this recipe but have decided that if I ever want to finish this challenge I need to make substitutions for ingredients which are difficult to find. This was a difficult mental hurdle for me to get over but now that I have decided that messing around with main ingredients is not the end of the world, there are more than a few recipes that no longer haunt my thoughts!

There is a reason behind my desire to make this particular friend smile and it is not a good one. While it is true that our friendship has never waned, in some ways it will never be the same as it was. There is a veil of sadness that covers us now when we meet and every day that I do not see him, he is not far from my thoughts. 

The truth is that my friend is not well. In fact we have no idea how much longer he will be able to eat and if I am honest, no idea how much longer he will be with us. My friend is battling the most hideous of all diseases, Motor Neuron Disease. His decline has been rapid and devastating. He still possesses his incredibly dashing good looks, sharp wit and beautiful and wise soul that is largely unmatched. But his body is failing him. He no longer has the full use of his hands and he has been wheelchair bound for some time now. His beautiful singing voice has also been taken from him. I could go on.

...and in this unwinnable situation, I do what I do best; show my love with food.

My tips for this recipe;
  • Castor sugar can be substituted for coconut sugar. It is one of my favourite sugars and so I generally do this when possible.
  • If you see tiny bits of egg in the mixture when you add it, don't panic! It disappears. Just keep stirring (and stirring, and stirring...)
  • I like texture (and hate waste) so didn't bother to strain the mixture. Instead I simply mashed the fruit with a wooden spoon as it broke down.
  • Given my example above, it appears that substituting gooseberries with another berry is a viable option. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

606/1038 - Eliza Acton's quince custard (with mini angel cakes)

Given the wide variety of foods that have been experimented with in my kitchen, people might be surprised to discover that this week's foray into the quince chapter is the first time I have worked with this fruit. 

Of course, anybody who is aware of my zillion different food allergies and intolerances would not be at all surprised. Quince is not really my friend and last night's gut ache confirmed that this is still the case. The pain was absolutely worth it though. This custard is beautifully sweet with a zingy finish thanks to the addition of lemon juice. The best thing about it was that it used up a stack of the quince poaching syrup and took only a few minutes to make. 

Pairing it with little mini angel cakes was a stroke of genius, creating a fabulous and fun little dessert and of course, using up the spare egg whites at the same time. I cooked the cakes in muffin tins, gently prising them out with a flexible spatula. They were like little bite sized pieces of heaven and, unlike me, very good friends with quince custard. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

605/1038 - Poached quince

It's quince season and I will be making the most of it this week.

First up (and first recipe cooked from the quince chapter) is a big batch of poached quince. One of the things I like best about cooking is that it is just one big science experiment. There is something deeply satisfying about putting creamy coloured fruit into the pot and pulling it out hours later a beautiful ruby red. 

I was a bit thrown when I tried to put everything in my beautiful copper pot and realised it was not going to fit! I decided to halve the ingredients and cook one batch in the oven and the other on the stove top. Interestingly they both took the same amount of time to cook which is great to know that I have options next time. 

My cooking tips for this recipe;
  • If you have a mesh bag for making nut milk or even the little mesh produce bags (I used one of each) they work perfectly as the holder of quince cores and pips. Admittedly they came out a little red but a bit of natural colouring can't hurt!  
  • A teaspoon of vanilla bean paste can be used in place of the vanilla bean. 
  • Be gentle when putting the pieces of quince into the sugar syrup or risk ending up with little sticky spots all over your table, floor and clothes. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I will be honest; we like poached fruit but we don't love it. With this (and efficiency) in mind, I will be turning this lovely red pile into a variety of different things this week. Why tick off one recipe when you can tick off several? 

Stay tuned for all things quince.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

604/1038 - Barbecued skewers of bay leaves and pork

I bought the pork fillet for this recipe weeks ago. It went from the fridge to the freezer about four times, oscillating between my good intentions and periods of slothful indifference. 

Yesterday was finally the day I defrosted it fully, made a batch of baguettes and then actually took the time to put this lovely dinner together. For anybody keen to try this recipe out, here are my tips for success! 
  • Use metal skewers. They are relatively inexpensive, don't need pre-soaking and are a good choice for the environment
  • A barbecue is great for those who are keen, but a barbecuer I am not. A griddle on the stovetop, or even a frypan if you don't have a griddle is a more than adequate alternative
  • Rashers of streaky bacon can be used instead of cubes. Simply fold them lengthwise and then in half a couple of times the other way so that you end of with a little folded cube
  • Use the thinnest baguette you can find otherwise risk the slices being so thick your pork won't get a look in on the hotplate. Alternatively, cut each slice in half. If you are a keen baker, simply make your own and roll one much thinner than the others
  • If you send your son into the yard to pick bay leaves, make sure your instructions are clear. Below is evidence of the variety of leaves mine brought in before he finally found the right tree
Finally, enjoy these beautiful skewers! They are packed with so much flavour thanks to the bay leaves and the inclusion of crusty bread was a revelation. Serve with piles of crunchy raw vegetables and you have an incredible and well balanced dinner on your hands.

Leaves from the passionfruit vine, a bunch from the olive tree
 and then finally, some bay leaves