Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls – My First Culinary Adventure of 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve spent today getting reacquainted with my baking spirits, which is always a worthwhile activity, even when it is stinking hot. And even when it’s not always appreciated by others.

And it was important that it happen today. You see, I am starting a new tradition. Okay, more like ‘borrowing’ and running with someone else’s tradition.

 

Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1

 

As some of you know, I bought Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries III when it first came out – no way was I risking that one on the Christmas list… what if no one bought it for me??? I would be bereft of Nigel…

So I had already read his entry for New Year’s Day, which he called Rising. In it, Nigel talks about how the new year comes to his kitchen quietly, with a pot of soup and freshly baked bread. He writes:

‘I like the notion of yeast rising, of new life in the kitchen on the first day of the New Year. Eccentric, daft even, but to me it just feels right.’

Is that not a glorious notion?

And I think that those with bakers’ souls will feel a certain affinity with this notion…

 

Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 2

 

Yeast rising in the kitchen on the first day of the new year can become a quite a compelling metaphor for an unbelievable number of different things, for an unbelievable number of different people. So don’t forget to make 2016 the best year you can for yourself.

And you can start by joining the fiesta party! Our hostess with the mostess, Angie @The Novice Gardener, and her lovely co-hosts – Judi @Cooking with Aunt JujuMolly @Frugal HausfrauSteffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen – are extending the party over the festive season, so come along and share your first dishes of 2016.

 

Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls

  • Servings: makes 6 rolls
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Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1

 

Ingredients

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 7g sachets instant dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 350ml water
  • 3 large sprigs of rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 100g goat’s cheese (cut into small chunks)

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add almost all the water and mix to a sticky dough.
  2. Continue to mix for a further minute or so – the dough will gradually become less sticky. Add a touch more flour or water until you are left with a dough that is soft and springy, yet slightly sticky to the touch.
  3. Flour a large work surface and gently knead the dough for 10 minutes without treating it aggressively. It should feel soft, smooth, light and springy.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to prove for an hour in a warm place.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it back onto a floured surface. Knead it again for 30 seconds.
  6. Work the rosemary and cheese into the dough so that they are evenly distributed.
  7. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and shape each piece into small rolls.
  8. Lay the rolls on a floured baking tray, leaving a good amount of space between them.
  9. Decorate each roll with a few rosemary needles on top.
  10. Leave to rise in a warm place under a tea towel for 45 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  12. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  13. Great as a burger bun. Fantastic eaten warm and slathered in butter.

 

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on BBC website.

 

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Orange Blossom Madeleines with Burnt-Honey Crème

I’ve had this beautiful recipe for orange blossom madeleines bookmarked for a very, very long time.

You see, I had a very small bottle of orange blossom water that was of indeterminate age so I threw it out and made a mental note to pick up a new bottle; a mental note that kept popping up now and then and quickly disappearing back into the vortex of recipes and ingredients.

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. The lovely older gentleman at the fruit and nut store assured me that orange blossom water lasts an age, and that his own half-full bottle was first opened over ten years ago.

Now, I’m not entirely convinced that I believe him, but it turns out that my new bottle of orange blossom water smelled exactly the same as the one I threw out. So don’t be put off by the overly perfumey smell of it, in small doses it produces an absolutely delightful flavour and aroma in food.

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And then, the stars aligned.

I was happily googling and found my way to FoodimentaryTM, only to discovered that June 27 is orange blossom day. I had the recipe. I had the orange blossom water. It was time to get me some madeleines.

Now for those who don’t read recipes all the way through before beginning, please note that you have to start this recipe the day before as the batter needs to be chilled overnight.

I am going to be a little bit sneaky here… as I posted this minutes before Miss Angie over at The Novice Gardener posted her Fiesta Friday #22, I’m going to quickly share these yummy, orange-honey scented madeleines with this week’s party goers!

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Orange Blossom Madeleines with Burnt-Honey Crème

  • Servings: makes approx. 24 madeleines
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* Before starting this recipe, please note that the madeleine batter needs overnight chilling.

Ingredients for the Orange Blossom Madeleines

  • 190g butter (coarsely chopped, plus extra, melted, for brushing)
  • 20g honey
  • Rind of 1 lemon (finely grated)
  • Rind of ½ orange (finely grated)
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 210g plain flour
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1½ teaspoons orange blossom water (or to taste)

Ingredients for the Burnt-Honey Crème

  • 80g honey
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40g caster sugar

Method

  1. Cook butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until lightly golden, about 3-4 minutes and then remove from the heat.
  2. Stir in the honey, lemon rind, orange rind, orange blossom water and vanilla, and then cool to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk flour, sugar and eggs in a bowl until smooth and creamy, then set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Gradually add the cooled butter mixture to the flour and egg mixture and beat until smooth and just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest overnight.
  5. For the burnt-honey crème, cook the honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until caramelised, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and add cream (be careful as hot honey will spit). Return to the heat and whisk to combine, then bring to the simmer.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar in a bowl until the sugar dissolves, about 1-2 minutes. Add the cream mixture and whisk to combine. Return mixture to the saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until mixture coats a spoon thickly, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside until required. The burnt-honey crème can be served warm or chilled.
  9. When ready to bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly brush a madeleine tray with extra melted butter, mopping up any excess that pools in the bases, then spoon in level tablespoons of the madeleine mixture into each mould.
  10. Bake until golden around the edges and humped in the middle, around 15 minutes or until firm in the centre, and then remove from the tray.
  11. Serve madeleines warm with burnt-honey crème.

This recipe is from the July 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Paneer Frankie

The trick to street food at home? Make it family style! It’s also fun when there’s some assembly required too… messy, but fun.

A Frankie is essentially the Indian version of a wrap or a Mexican burrito. It was created by Amarjit Tibb, ‘a self-confessed foodie who used to run a salt refinery’. He came across Lebanese pita bread wraps in his travels, altered the type of flatbread, fillings and spices used to suit the Indian palate and opened his first Frankie outlet in Mumbai in 1969.

Nowadays there are many, many different recipes out there for Frankies, stuffed with an assortment of fillings; and what the vegetarian Frankie recipes seem to have in common is paneer.

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I’ve had a list of paneer recipes I’ve been meaning to try out, but it’s taken me a while to finally figure out that the difference between making ricotta from scratch and making paneer from scratch is pressing… but more on this when I actually have time to press it!

So you could say that paneer has been on my mind lately… And then Miss Fromage Homage asked us to pair cheese with fresh herbs for June’s Cheese, Please! challenge. What goes well with paneer? Coriander! So I figured I’d be a little cheeky… did you know that coriander is a herb when its leaves are used and a spice when its seeds are used?

Paneer Frankie

  • Servings: makes 6 frankies
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Frankie Paneer

Ingredients

  • 40g butter
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 long green chilli (finely chopped)
  • 450g paneer (cut into 2.5 cm cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon chaat masala spice*
  • 1 lime (zested and juiced)
  • 1 cup coriander leaves (roughly chopped, plus extra to serve)
  • 6 pieces paratha**

To Serve (optional):

  • 1 telegraph cucumber (cut into 12 batons)
  • 2 carrots (cut into 24 batons)
  • Red onion (thinly sliced)

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes or until the onion is lightly golden.
  2. Add the paneer and chaat masala and cook, tossing occasionally, for 4 minutes or until the paneer is golden.
  3. Add lime zest, lime juice and the coriander leaves and cook for a further 2 to 3 minute or until combined. Season with salt and pepper, top with extra coriander and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Heat or toast the paratha and serve with the herbed paneer, cucumber and carrot batons and raw red onion slices.

* Chaat masala is a sweet-sour spice from Indian food shops. Substitute equal quantities of garam masala and crushed coriander seeds.

** Paratha is a type of Indian flatbread. It is available from supermarkets in packets or in the frozen section of Indian food shops

Recipe from the SBS Food website.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Have you noticed that there is a negative side to food trends? Where the oh so last year dish that was raved about and declared divine is discarded for the new trend, fad, ingredient or flavour?

I recently overheard someone in a café complaining how smashed avocado is so passé, and yes, they used the word passé. Okay, so you can pretty much get a version of smashed avocado from any café these days, but so what? If it tastes good and you like it, why can’t you order it? Whatever happened to each to their own? Maybe loudly opinionated food snob whingers should become passé…

Smashed Avocados

And just the other day I read an article that argued that sourdough is so overused, and that our obsession with it is a fad that’s going to pass when ‘foodies’ decided it’s time to worship a new type of bread. There was no sense that the author had done any research on sourdough in the midst of the sweeping generalisations, otherwise they may have noticed that sourdough can be traced back to the California gold rush of 1849, if not back even further… 165 years is hardly ‘temporary’…

But how are bloggers different to hoity-toity café goers and reporters who tell you what you should and shouldn’t be eating? Isn’t one of the main ‘reasons’ for blogging to get your opinions out there?

Sure.

But as a general rule, food bloggers offer their opinions in quite an unassuming way, and usually by sharing their stories. They very rarely annoyingly parade their opinions about, loudly shoving them in your face and belittling you if you don’t automatically bow down and agree…

So, if there are past food trends that you still eat, even though they seem to have fallen out of favour, then more power to you and your culinary tastes!

Now onto more important things… like smashed avocado… This recipe is the basic starting block. Get the base mix to your liking and you can build the toppings from there, from a simple garnish of fresh herbs, chilli or dukkah, to basil and lemon juice-topped cherry tomatoes, to fried or poached eggs, with or without smoked salmon.

Oh, and in case sourdough just doesn’t do it for you, or you can’t get your hands on some, rye bread is a fantastic substitute for smashed avocado toasties.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Smashed Avocados

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe but firm avocados
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 100g Danish fetta
  • 4 slices of sourdough or light rye bread
  • 1 tablespoon of dukkah

Method

  1. Slice and halve the avocados, remove the pits and scoop the avocado flesh out into a medium bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, crumble in half of the fetta and mash roughly with a fork until just combined. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown.
  4. When ready, scoop ¼ of the avocado mixture onto each slice of toast. Top with the remaining crumbled fetta and scatter with dukkah. Serve with lemon wedges.

Mushroom, Sage and Chilli Pizza – A Cheat’s Pizza for a Friday Night

Some Fridays, I’m itching to get home from work and cook something a little more extravagant for a weeknight dinner; obviously it’s something I googled during the workday… Other Fridays, I just shrug and order take out, or grab something on my way home from the many cafes and restaurants that I pass.

Growing up, Friday-night takeout with my family was pizza, not fish and chips. So some Fridays, I still crave/want/expect pizza. And it doesn’t matter if it’s pizzeria pizza, homemade pizza, fresh toppings on a store-bought base, pita bread pizza or puff pastry pizza. As long as it can still be labelled as a ‘pizza’ it’s all good. I do draw the line at frozen pizza though…

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But making pizza dough from scratch on a weeknight is a non-starter for me. So if you are looking for a pizza dough recipe, you might like to check this Sweet Potato and Goat’s Cheese Pizza recipe out instead.

This is a versatile topping recipe. You can swap out the sage for thyme, parsley or tarragon, and you can either use more chilli or take it out completely. Best of all, you can mix and match the mushrooms to your heart’s content – I used a mix of Shitake, King Oyster, Oyster, Swiss Brown and Enoki mushrooms.

But the best thing of all about having pizza on a Friday night is sharing it with everyone at Fiesta Friday #19, hosted by Angie over at The Novice Gardener.

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Mushroom, Sage and Chilli Pizza

  • Servings: makes 2 pizzas
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Mushroom, Sage and Chilli Pizza

Ingredients

  • 2 pre-prepared pizza bases
  • 1 cup pasta/pizza sauce (divided)
  • 400g mixed mushrooms (roughly chopped, divided)
  • 10 fresh sage leaves (finely sliced, divided)
  • 2 fresh, long red chillies (deseeded, finely sliced, divided)
  • 200g havarti (grated, divided)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Heat two baking trays in the oven for 10 minutes and then remove.
  3. Set one pizza base on each heated baking tray.
  4. Spread half of the pasta/pizza sauce over one of the pizza bases. Top with half of the mushrooms, half of the sage, half of the sliced chillies and half of the grated havarti cheese.
  5. Repeat with the second pizza base and the remaining ingredients.
  6. Bake, swapping the trays halfway through, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the havarti melts and the pizza bases are heated through and crispy.
  7. Slice, serve and munch.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Pies

To my knowledge, this month was the first time that I ever had rhubarb.

Is that strange?

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I don’t consider myself a picky eater anymore, but I do admit I am still a cautious eater… if the smell of something make me wrinkle my nose, I’m most likely not going to try it.

So, finicky eating habits and growing up with a Mediterranean mother means that there are still a lot of foods and dishes out there that I haven’t tried yet. And up until a couple of weeks ago, rhubarb was one of them.

I saw the lovely red stalks at the market and grabbed a bunch, knowing that my baking bible would help me out with a recipe or an idea once I was home. My only worry was the taste as I had no idea what to expect.

And it turns out that I love it! Rhubarb is delightfully tart and, as most already know, pairs beautifully with strawberries.

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie2

I may be late to both the rhubarb party and to The Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday #17 party, but at least I arrived with style with these cute little rhubarb and strawberry pies.

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Rhubarb and Strawberry Pies

  • Servings: makes 4 pies
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Rhubarb Strawberry Pie1

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 150g butter (cold, cut into cubes)
  • 1 egg

Rhubarb and Strawberry Filling Ingredients

  • 4 large rhubarb stems (coarsely chopped)
  • 250g fresh strawberries (coarsely chopped)
  • 55g caster sugar + 2 extra teaspoons
  • 2 tablespoons water (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • Butter for greasing
  • 1 egg white (lightly whisked)

Method

  1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and butter and process either by hand, in a food processor or with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly.
  2. Add the egg and mix until combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
  3. Shape the dough into a disc, cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the dough is in the fridge, begin making the filling. Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and half the water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 3 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the corn flour and the remaining tablespoon of water and stir to mix into a smooth paste. Add it to the rhubarb and strawberry mixture and stir gently until the mixture begins to boil and thicken.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, gently stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove form the heat and set aside to cool.
  7. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it warm slightly.
  8. Grease 4 loose base mini tartlet pans (12cm) with butter and set aside on a baking tray.
  9. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry between sheets of baking paper to about 4mm thickness. Cut our four rounds to fit the base and sides of the tartlet pans. Gently press dough rounds into each pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  10. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C.
  11. Roll out the remaining dough between sheets of baking paper, again to a 4mm thickness and cut out four rounds to fit the top of the tartlet pans, with a bit of dough overhang.
  12. When ready, remove the tartlet pans from the fridge and spoon the fruit mixture evenly across the four pastry cases.
  13. Brush the edges of the top dough rounds with the whisked egg white and place over the filling, pressing the edges together to seal. Brush the tops with the remaining egg white, sprinkle with the additional sugar and cut a small steam hole into the centre of each pie.
  14. Bakes pies for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  15. Stand pies in their pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Bake cookbook.

 

Maggie Beer’s Walnut Bread

Making yeast bread still freaks me out. It’s smelly and so many tiny little things could or could not happen that result in not necessarily a failure, but not exactly a success either…

This time though, following a recipe by the delightfully cute Maggie Beer, I baked beautiful bread that rose perfectly and tasted pretty good.

In fact, it tasted so good, still warm and slathered in butter, that I knew I had a great base for my blue cheese-inspired crostini… But more on that soon…

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Walnut Bread

Recipe by Maggie Beer, as found in her book, Maggie’s Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 250g walnuts
  • 180ml full-cream milk + 2 tablespoons extra
  • 15g fresh yeast (or 1 x 7g sachet or 1½ teaspoon  dried yeast)
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 200g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 100g wholemeal plain flour
  • 50g rye flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil (plus extra for greasing)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). To make the walnut bread, roast the walnuts on a baking tray for 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden, checking them frequently to make sure that they don’t burn. Wrap the walnuts in a clean tea towel, then rub to remove the skins. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 180ml milk in a small heavy-based saucepan until lukewarm, then set aside.
  3. Mix the yeast, caster sugar and warm water in a small bowl, stirring to form a paste, then leave for 10 minutes or until foamy.
  4. Combine the flours with 2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, then stir in the walnut oil. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the centre of the flour mixture, and then add the yeast mixture.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the warm milk, mixing until it is incorporated and a soft dough forms. Add the walnuts.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured workbench and knead for 5 minutes. Brush the mixing bowl with a little more walnut oil and return the dough, rolling it around the bowl to coat with the oil. Place a piece of plastic film loosely over the surface of the dough, then set aside for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured workbench and knead for a minute or two, then shape into two 23cm x 10cm logs. Leave to rise again on a baking tray dusted with flour for 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional).
  9. Whisk together the egg white and 2 tablespoons milk and then brush over the surface of the dough.
  10. Bake the bread for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature at 180C fan-forced (200C conventional) an bake for another 15 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and the bases sound hollow when tapped.
  11. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

 

Apple and Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

It seemed that we had just ushered in 2014 when hot cross buns first made their appearance this year. Seriously, they’ve been commercially available for so long this year that they don’t really seem like a special treat anymore.

Treat or not, when I saw the first hot cross bun of the year back in January, I decided that this was they year I would finally make hot cross buns… and not just any hot cross buns either; I was going to make sultana-free hot cross buns!

So people, happy Easter, happy Pesach, happy hot cross bun season.

Hot Cross Buns

 

Apple and Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

Makes 20 hot cross buns.

Recipe very slightly altered by Emma Knowles, as found on the Australian Gourmet Traveller website.

Ingredients

  • 325g raw caster sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1½ Granny Smith apples (unpeeled, cored and diced)
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 750g plain flour
  • 100g dried apple (diced)
  • 30g candied orange (diced)
  • 14g dried yeast
  • 3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 380ml milk
  • 100gm butter (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Combine 260g sugar and 375ml water in a saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half a lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, cut remaining lemon half into 5mm-thick slices, add to pan with the diced apple and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Strain, reserving fruit and syrup separately. When cool enough to handle, dice lemon, combine with apple and set aside.
  4. Combine 700g flour, dried apple, candied orange, yeast, 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, allspice, rinds, remaining sugar, reserved apple mixture (not the syrup) and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  5. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm.
  6. Whisk in the egg and then strain the milk and egg mixture into the flour, stirring to form a soft dough.*
  7. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
  8. Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 30-40 minutes.
  9. Knock back the dough, divide it into 20 even pieces, then knead each piece into a smooth ball.
  10. Arrange dough balls into two concentric circles on a large round or rectangular baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand.
  11. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 220°C. Combine remaining flour and 70ml cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 200°C and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, combine reserved apple syrup and remaining ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy and combined.
  15. Brush thickly over hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

* It is important to strain the egg and milk mixture into the flour mixture so that you can catch any bits of egg that might have scrambled from the warm temperature of the milk.

 

Banoffee Pie – The not Terrible at all Pie

I have to admit that the first time I heard of banoffee pie was while I was watching Love Actually. The odd sounding word, which is apparently a portmanteau of banana and toffee, got stuck in my head until I had to research what the hell this apparently ‘terrible’ pie was.

Sweet, buttery biscuit crumb base or sweet pastry base… yes, yes, yes to both.

Toffee or caramel… I love toffee AND caramel.

Banana… Bananas are good.

Sweetened whipped cream… I can take it or leave it.

Chocolate shavings… Oh hell yes!

Um, what exactly is so terrible about this pie? Provided you like all the above mentioned ingredients, absolutely nothing at all!

Enjoy this no-cook version of Banoffee Pie while I run along to experiment with a baked version… I’ll keep you posted…

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Ingredients

  • 250g of your favourite plain biscuits for biscuit base (such as Granita, Marie or digestive biscuits)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 125g butter (melted)
  • 300ml whipping thickened cream
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 380g can Nestle Caramel Top ‘n’ Fill (or dolce de leche)
  • 2 bananas (thinly sliced)*
  • 50g dark chocolate (grated)

Method

  1. Using a food processor, or a plastic bag and a rolling pin, process the biscuits until fine crumbs are formed.
  2. Add the brown sugar and the melted butter and process or stir until well combined.
  3. Lightly grease a 23cm tart tin with a removable base, and then press the biscuit mixture evenly over the base and sides of the tin.
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the thickened cream and white sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside for the moment.
  6. Remove the biscuit base from the tart tin and place onto a serving platter.
  7. Gently spread the caramel over the base evenly. Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on top of the caramel.
  8. Top with dollops of whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Serve.

* Remember to not slice the bananas too early as they will turn brown and look unappealing. One the biscuit base has been cooling for an hour and is holding together well, the pie does not take long to put together, so don’t sacrifice your bananas!

Apricot and Cardamom Galette with Honey Mascarpone

A few years ago I looked up galette, wanting to know what the difference was between these little French tarts and other sort of tarts.

I found out that galettes are pretty much just free-form, rustic tarts.

Well, I’ve been making those for years!

Interestingly though, galette is also the term used for a type of buckwheat crepe that is popular in some areas of France… but let’s focus on the tarts for now…

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My usual go-to fruit for tarts and pies are apples, but a dear friend loves apricots so I thought I would branch out, seeing as it’s apricot season and all…

The other small tweak I recently made was to the pastry itself. In the past, the pastry I used for any kind of tarts was a kind of bastardised version of a sweet shortcrust pastry. They were always nice, but never quite as flaky as I would want a French, rustic pastry to be.

This is where one of my Christmas presents comes into play… again… yep, you guessed it, it’s David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert. His galette dough is absolutely scrumptious and very easy to make, or as he puts it: ‘very forgiving, and almost impossible to botch’.

At the end of the day, the filling of a galette doesn’t really matte because it can be anything you want it to be. Provided you have a great pastry base, you can fill it with any combination of fruits, fold the edges over, bake it and wait impatiently to eat it.

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Apricot and Cardamom Galette with Honey Mascarpone

Remember that apricots become more tart when they are baked, so if you are not overly fond of tart flavours, you may need to add a bit more sugar or you may just choose to omit the cardamom. The honeyed mascarpone does mellow the sourness.

Pastry recipe by David Lebovitz, as found in Ready for Dessert.

Ingredients

  • 210g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 115g unsalted butter (cut into 3-cm cubes and chilled)
  • 90ml ice water
  • 6 to 8 apricots (stoned and cut into 1.5cm slices)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (from approx. ½ tablespoon cardamom pods)
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons honey (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 10g unsalted butter (melted)
  • 60g Demerara sugar
  • 250g mascarpone

Method

  1. In a large bowl using a pastry blender, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix together the flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and mix until the butter is broken into pieces about the size of large corn kernels. Don’t worry if a few pieces are in larger, rough chunks; they will make the dough nice and flaky.
  2. Add the ice water all at once and continue mixing just until the dough begins to hold together.
  3. Shape the dough into a 13-cm disk, wrap it in cling film, and refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the apricot slices, ground cardamom and 2 tablespoons honey. Stir to coat and set aside.
  6. In yet another separate bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cornflour and apricot jam and stir until smooth.
  7. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  8. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough into a circle about 36 cm in diameter. Transfer to the prepared baking tray.
  9. Smear the jam sauce over the dough, leaving a 5cm border.
  10. Arrange the apricot pieces over the jam sauce, spooning some of the honey juice over the top.
  11. Fold the border of the dough over the apricots and brush the crust with the melted butter. Sprinkle half the Demerara sugar over the crust, and the remaining half over the apricots.
  12. Bake the galette until the apricots are tender and the pastry crust has browned, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Slide the galette off the baking paper and onto a wire rack to allow the filling to cool slightly before serving.
  13. Meanwhile, combine the mascarpone and 2 to 3 tablespoons honey, to taste. Stir until the honey is fully incorporated and smooth. Drizzle over individual galette pieces before serving.

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