Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

I could never follow a diet or a philosophy of eating if it does not give you the option, to at least every now and then, have a bowl full of pasta.

And I do mean pasta.

I do not mean noodles, in all of their variety – although I am partial to mung bean noodles. I do not mean spiralised vegetables masquerading as pasta; they have their place, but let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? They are vegetables, not pasta.

Maybe it’s my metabolism; I can eat a bowl of pasta for dinner and not get hungry again soon after. Maybe it’s the comfort that I seem to associate so strongly to pasta. For me, pasta is my ‘chicken soup’, a bowl full of pasta makes everything better, even for a little while.

Cacio e Pepe

 

This is not a new recipe, but it’s been all over the internet lately, which reminded me of just how yummy, how cheesy and how soothing to the soul this pasta dish is.

I wanted something green to cut through the cheese and provide some crunch and a contrasting lemon flavour, but be a purist if you like, and make this with normal spaghetti and omit the greens. Either way, you will thank yourself for both making and consuming this pasta dish. Unless of course you don’t like pepper…

Come and have a bowlful at this week’s Fiesta Friday with Angie, Lindy @ Love in the Kitchen and Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.

 

Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

Cacio e Pepe with Oven-Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 375g wholegrain spaghetti
  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • sea salt
  • ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (scant) tablespoon ground black pepper (plus a little more to finish)
  • 1 ½ cups finely grated pecorino (plus a little more to finish)

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water as per the packet directions until al dente, making sure to save ½ cup of the cooking water.
  2. In the mean time, preheat the oven grill (or broiler or bbq).
  3. Prep the broccolin and asparagus by trimming all woody and stringy parts. Spread them out evenly on a baking paper-covered sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and season with sea salt.
  4. Grill for to 5 to 7 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice and keep warm.
  5. While the spaghetti and greens are cooking, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the black pepper. Set aside for 3 to 5 minutes, swirling it a few times to allow the pepper to infuse into the butter.
  6. Return the butter to a medium-low heat and add in the reserved cooking water. Bring to a simmer and then add the spaghetti and the pecorino, using tongs to toss the mixture until the cheese melts into the liquid and coats the spaghetti evenly.
  7. Divide the spaghetti amongst four warmed bowls, top with broccolini and asparagus, sprinkle with extra pecorino and pepper, and serve immediately with a crisp, green salad.

 

 

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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
  • Print

 

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.

 

Shortbread Christmas Trees

 

There’s just one more sleep to Christmas, people!

Whether it’s your thing, whether you celebrate it or not, it is the season to be kind, to show appreciation, to hold your family just a little closer, to let go, to celebrate.

It’s also the season for baking!

My chocolate crinkle cookies taste FANTASTIC but no one mentioned that they spread… They do not look pretty…

IMG_2068

 

But my shortbread Christmas tree came out pretty well, I think. Well, except for having to cover up the wrong colour frosting and making a bit of a mess at the top… After all these years of baking, it’s still hit and miss with biscuits and cookies. Give me bread any day!! No matter, it’ll be a cute little centrepiece for Christmas lunch tomorrow.

To all those celebrating Christmas, have a great day tomorrow. To those not celebrating, have a lovely day and enjoy whatever you have planned.

Now I’m heading off to the biggest party, with my little shortbread Christmas trees in tow… Fiesta Friday #100! And the celebration is going to last over two weeks to give everyone a chance to come and party for a little bit over the festive season. A huge thank you to Angie @The Novice Gardener for everything she does and to her merry helpers; this week they are Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju, Molly @Frugal Hausfrau, Steffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen. They are awesome ladies and know how to throw a party, so bring your treats and come say hi!

 

Shortbread Christmas Trees

  • Servings: Makes 4 trees
  • Print

 

IMG_2068

 

Equipment

7.5cm/7cm/6cm/5.5cm/4.5cm/2.5cm star-shaped cookie cutters *

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • White frosting pen
  • Cachous or sugar flowers and icing sugar mixture to decorate

Method

  1. Process the butter, sugar, flours and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor, stopping and scraping down sides with a spatula, if needed, until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to combine.
  2. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until just firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line four large baking trays with baking paper.
  4. Roll out 1 portion of dough between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Using the 7.5cm star-shaped cutter, cut 8 stars from the dough. Repeat with the 7cm star-shaped cutter, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place the stars, 2cm apart, on two of the prepared trays. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned. Stand the shortbread stars on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting 8 x 6cm stars, 8 x 5.5cm stars, 8 x 4.5cm stars and 8 x 2.5cm stars from dough, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place on prepared trays, except smallest stars. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned, adding smallest stars halfway through cooking. Stand on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once completely cool, decorate the shortbread stars any way you like using the frosting pen. (Make sure to have enough frosting left to dab in the middle of each cookie, which will act like the glue holding the cookies together.)
  7. Place 4 of the biggest stars onto presentation plates. Place some frosting in the centre of each star and top with another same-sized star, rotating the cookie so that the points sit at a different angle to the fist star. Repeat layering with more frosting and the remaining stars, two of each size per tree, except for the smallest starts, to form four Christmas trees.
  8. Add more frosting to the top of each Christmas tree. Working with one tree at a time, sandwich two 2 small stars together and stand them on top of each tree, pressing gently to secure. Pipe any leftover frosting on the trees in a decorative pattern. Set aside to set and then decorate with cachous or sugar flowers and dust liberally with icing sugar.

 

* If you don’t have or don’t want to have so many different sized star shapes, you can make these trees still work really well by only using three different sized star cookie cutters – they will just be a little shorter.

Recipe from Super Food Ideas.

 

 

Apple and Strawberry Crumble with a Chewy Oat Topping

There are just too many distractions around me at the moment. Although, I will admit, that it is kind of my own fault…

I’ve just wrapped up a huge project at work and finally got the 84-page monster off to the printer, I’m participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, I’m still trying to find the optimum layout for my spices in my new pantry, not to mention the boxes that still need to be unpacked, and, unfortunately, I am watching a lot of TV.

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

You see, I had to – yes, had to – sign up for pay TV… How else was I going to watch The Great Australian Bake Off?? But access to the food channel brings along with it a whole host of shows that I have suddenly been suckered into watching.

This has made cooking dinner very difficult and taking twice as long as it should…

I am very grateful that these are the worst of my concerns at the moment.

I will admit that I did enjoy a fun evening prepping fruit for a crumble on the coffee table whilst watching some food show.

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

It that time of year again, that even if you are in a different hemisphere, pumpkin and apple goods are appearing everywhere. Or it could be that they have always been there and I’m just paying more attention to what’s around at the moment.

Whilst at the market hunting for some purple cauliflower, I found some beautiful apple cider-toasted oats, and with strawberries on sale at the next stall, an oat-topped apple and strawberry crumble was a no brainer. It’s seasonal for both my fall-happy friends on the other side of the world and for us here who are experiencing quite a fickle spring.

This worked out quite well seeing as I’m co-hosting Fiesta Friday #90 this week with Angie @The Novice Gardener and Lindy @Love in the Kitchen. Can you believe we’ve had 90 awesome fiestas? Ten to go before what I’m sure will be a huge extravaganza! So join in and share your recipes with us this week and stick around to chat with some lovely people.

Apple and Strawberry Crumble

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

The amount of fruit needed for a crumble all depends on the size of the baking dish you are using. Just keep cutting fruit until the baking dish is three-quarters full, which will allow room for the crumble topping. If you fill it right to the top, bake it with an empty baking sheet underneath to catch any juices that might bubble over. The amount of fruit I used filled a 33cm x 25cm oval baking dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 apples (peeled and chopped into small, even pieces)
  • 1 punnet of strawberries (cleaned, topped and chopped into quarters)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup demerara sugar (or a bit more depending on taste or the sweetness of your fruit)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (divided)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • Around 4 grates of a nutmeg seed, or to taste
  • 70g butter (melted)
  • Vanilla ice cream (to serve, optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Toss the chopped apples and strawberries together with the lemon juice and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and then stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, remaining cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in the melted butter and stir to combine. If the mixture is to dry and not clumping, add a little water to help bring the oats together into a soft clumps.
  4. Top the chopped fruit with oat crumble topping, gently spreading the mixture around as much as possible.
  5. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the oat crumble topping is golden brown – it goes from golden to brown very quickly so keep an eye on it in the last few minutes.
  6. Allow to stand for at least 5 minutes, 10 minutes is better, before serving, with or without ice cream and a teaspoon of sticky juice from the bottom of the baking dish.

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
  • Print

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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
  • Print

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
  • Print

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
  • Print

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…

Image

 

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.

 

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