Archive for the ‘Comfort’ Category

h1

Blackforest Cake

January 28, 2011

Untraditionally for Christmas this year, I decided to make a Blackforest Cake. There was going to be a mass of people at our family Christmas this year. We were going to have the traditional pudding, as well as a pavlova but for my SIL I decided Blackforest Cake.

Well maybe not entirely just for her………

It’s not something you see very often in the shops anymore, I remember growing up that this was quite often the fare at events. Nowadays it seems to be cheesecakes…or is that just where I am?

Anyway – I made it, and I had such fun doing it. Was a multiple step process. Starting with the cherry filling, then the multiple layers of cake. My cake had 5 layers I even had the shortcrust base, and the layers themselves…well they left a bit to be desired if you ask me. But, they could’ve been worse for sure! and I had such fun assembling, and grating the fairtrade chocolate all over the cake that who really cared?

Blackforest Cake


Base

125g plain flour
10g cocoa
1t Baking powder
50g sugar
1T kirsch
75g butter

Filling

350g jar of cherries
30g cornflour
25g sugar
3T kirsch

Layers

225g butter at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
2T cocoa
2T milk

Cream

750ml pure cream
2T kirsch
50g icing sugar

Base: Sift flour with cocoa & baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, kirsch and softened butter. Mix using a dough hook or paddle beater until combined. Roll out to a 28cm circle, and place into a lined 28cm spring form tin. I still don’t have a rolling pin at the new place, so I simply tipped the mixture into the tin, and pressed it out to fit. Poke the dough all over with a fork, as below. Bake in oven at 200C for 10 or 15 minutes
Cherry: Drain a jar of cherries (reserving all juice but keeping 4T to the side, put juice into a pot and bring to a boil. Mix cornflour and the 4T of juice until all lumps have dissolved and when juice comes to the boil, take off the heat and whisk in this mixture, returning it to the heat until its thick. Remove from the heat, add cherries and once completely cool add sugar and kirsch.
Layers: Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, cool completely
Cream: Whip cream until peaking, adding in sugar and kirsch until smooth and incorporated.
Assembly: base, cherries, some cream, layer, cream, layer, cream etc….cover outside with cream, grate chocolate and cover whole cake.

Advertisements
h1

Brownie Goodness

January 21, 2011

I have a soft spot for brownies, I don’t so much like eating them. But, I do like making them. I like soft-gooeness of it all…I don’t really know why, but I enjoy it.

I use Nigella Lawson’s Snow-Flecked Brownies as my base always from Feast. I’ve made them with adaptations many times over. Properly snow-flecked with white choc chips, sometimes with dark chocolate, sometimes with no chips and rather walnuts. They’re just a brilliant base recipe. They make such beautiful moist brownies……I love the gooey!

Make sure you don’t overcook it though, otherwise it will loose its gooey and become a cake! They still nice….but not really brownies anymore are they?

Brownies


* 355g unsalted butter
* 370g chocolate
* 6 eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1.5 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 255g chocolate buttons (white, milk or dark)
* About 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line the sides and base of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with aluminum foil or baking parchment. (I used used a muffin tin this time though.)
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan over low heat.
In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the sugar and vanilla extract. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in the buttons. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes. You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dried to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you do need to keep checking on it; the difference between gungey brownies and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will continue to cook as they cool.

h1

Chicken Pie

July 17, 2010


Continuing with my desire to make pastry I decided I’d make my husband a chicken pie. Originally I wanted to make a Chicken & Leek Pie. However, I had no leeks, and actually I only had one onion. Terrible isn’t it? What’s a girl to do then? Improvise of course! That is of course what cooking is about isn’t it?

I used the recipe as a bit of a guide. A starting point so to speak. My improvisation consisted of a cabbage instead of leek. Bit of another way for me to get the Husband to eat more vegetables, which is very important to me. I also used some baby red capsicums that I had as well, they had been sitting in my fridge for awhile so into the food processor they went. The taste was surprisingly great! And it was sneaky enough that the Husband enjoyed it without any complaints and a healthy appetite.

I struggled a touch with the pastry as usual. I have a bit of pastry problem! I didn’t think about it completely, when assembling my pie. I followed the instructions, but obviously not properly. I put my lid on….after folding the edges down! Arg, these are simple things, but I don’t think of them until it’s all over red rover! So it didn’t look great, but it did taste good. So I guess perhaps I should focus on that? failures in looks aren’t really failures are they? The pastry was from How to be a Domestic Goddess

Chicken Pie

2 chicken breasts
¼ cabbage
3 baby red capsicum
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 can evaporated milk
70g feta – cubed
2 cloves garlic
1T dried onion (yes I know the horror)

Pastry
250g plain flour
125g cold butter – cubed
2 egg yolks
2T cold water
1t salt
1T caster sugar

Slice chicken breast up. Put cabbage and capsicum in food processor and chop up. Pour wine into a saucepan and place all ingredients but the evaporated milk and feta in. Boil away until the wine is reduced. Once reduced, add the evaporated milk and feta, and reduce this. Allow to cool.
Whilst cooling make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a dish and put the dish in the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the yolks, water and salt in a cup and put this cup in the fridge.
Then when the time is up tip the flour and butter into the food processor, add the sugar and pulse to combine – until it looks like something similar to sand. Bind with the egg yolks water and salt, and when it looks like its on the verge of coming together, tip the pastry out and work it together with your hands. Divide into 2 discs, one a little bigger than the other. Wrap in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for awhile.
Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a 22cm, springform tin. Roll out the large of the discs and place in the tin with an overhang. Sprinkle the bottom of this with some breadcrumbs and fill with the cold pie filling. Roll out the other piece of pastry and lay over the top, then fold the overhang and press down.
Glaze the pie with milk and egg and stab here and there. Cook for 10 minutes on the 200C before dropping it down to 180C for 45minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving.

h1

Lamb Ragu Suet Crust Pie

July 15, 2010


I have been cooking up a bit of a storm lately I think, and will be popping it all up over the next few days if I can find the time of course! Not all from Giada though but that’s ok, it is the cooking that I am enjoying I am still working through the cookbook slowly though. This entry is from Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites though.

I did a bit of an adaptation thing with the recipe though. What I went with was the Lamb Ragu with Mint. Only mine was sans the mint! Let me explain. I had an urge of late, to be making some pastry I like pastry. It may not be my friend so to speak when it comes to the weight loss that I may be wishing to achieve, however I am pretty happy with a small sample. But to make a small sample, it requires me too make pastry and you can’t really do it in small amounts can you? So I decided to make a pie with the ragu as filling.

Now I didn’t make any old pastry, I wanted to do something a little different for me, a different kind of pastry one I’d not done ever. Come to think of it I’m not really good at pastry which is why I’m trying! So I “stole” this recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess from Nigella’s Steak and Kidney Pudding – the suet crust in fact. And for something a little more different, I steamed it in the slow cooker!

So in terms of what I think about the recipes…..I really liked the suet crust. I could have rolled it out a little thinner; I must admit that in fairness. I didn’t have a large enough pudding basin for my pastry and I just wanted to do it! Plus since I like pastry? The Husband even enjoyed it, just did say that it would’ve been greater if it had been thinner.

The Lamb Ragu….I was really excited about the recipe to begin with. But, once it was completed whilst it was tasty. And I enjoyed it, it seemed to lack the punch I was expecting from it in terms of flavour. I’d want to add some more herbs to it I think. Give it a bit more flavour. But, it’s definitely a good base! Maybe it was just because I was putting it with pastry – it wasn’t a strong enough flavour to cut through the pastry. Maybe if the pastry had been thinner? Who knows…….but I will give it another burl as a ragu sometime.

Lamb Ragu

2T olive oil
2 shallots
1 minced garlic clove
680g lamb mince
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups Marina Sauce

Marina Sauce

½ cup olive oil
2 small onions
2 minced garlic cloves
2 celery sticks
2 carrots
½ t salt
½ t black pepper
2 cans of crushed tomato
2 bay leaves

Suet Crust

350g SR Flour
½ t salt
175g suet
½ t English mustard powder

Make the Marina Sauce. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the celery, carrots, and salt and pepper. Sauté until all are soft. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over a low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Warm the olive oil in a large pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until tender. Add the lamb, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat breaks down and is browned and all the juice is evaporated. Add the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Then add the marina sauce and simmer over a low heat until the flavours blend and the sauce reduces slightly. Recipe suggested 10 minutes, but I did mine for a bit longer.

Remove from heat and cool whilst making the Suet Crust.

Mix the flour, salt, suet and powder in a large bowl. Then stirring with a wooden spoon, add enough cold water to make a firm dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a large circle about 5mm thick and cut away a ¼ segment from the circle to use for the lid. Ease the circle into a world buttered pudding basin with about a 3cm over hang.

Spoon the cold lamb ragu into the bowl, not letting it come up to higher then 2cm from the rim. Roll out the other segment into a small circle to fit the top and seal it with the overhanging edges. Clip on the lid, and place in the slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours on high, or 5 hours on low.

h1

Tiramisu

February 27, 2010

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession

It was a bit of a rush job I must admit, I had to get it in and get it done before I went overseas (I type this entry covertly at 12:30am the 18th Feb….to self publish on reveal day) and so essentially started when it was revealed. There were 2 mandatory items for this challenge we had to make our own savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits and mascarpone cheese with the given recipes. And, we had to make the zabaglione and pastry cream using the given recipes.

It was a lot of fun, I had never made mascarpone before so that was interesting. I toned down the coffee flavour a bit because I was serving it to my family and they aren’t big coffee drinkers but appreciate subtle undertones. It was a hit really and I will be doing it again just stronger flavours next time!

h1

Haloumi bake

January 24, 2010


This Flavour of the Month from Nigella Biteshappened simply because I needed some comfort type food. And, funnily enough Nigella even pops this recipe in her comfort food section!

I was flipping through and pondering what to back, when I re-read the description where she speaks of almost caramelised onions and garlic and the uncompromising plain saltiness of the haloumi and I had just had to make it. The day had started out wonderfully – the Husband and I woke up at around 3am, grabbed some coffee in our travel mugs and hopped into the car to drive 45 minutes to a nearby point so that the Husband could try out his new lens and take some photos. All in practice for our impending trip he tells me, apparently one must practice with a new lens to take perfect shots with them. As you can all probably tell from my photos, me – not an avid photographer! I have a ‘fancy’ G10 – so it’s a bit more upmarket then just a standard point and shoot. And, I don’t use it on full auto, I do use it Aperture Priority, and I do change the ISO and well…I just play until the photo looks ok. I have PE7 installed so I can do some processing, but I don’t get the same enjoyment out of it that the Husband does and he has much more equipment then I do (40D, flash, 2 tripods with 2 heads, 5 different lenses (wants more), filters etc) and has a full version of Photoshop that he will spend hours using to process. Anyway, I digress, anyway the day started out wonderfully…

However, on arrival at said point, I decided that my coffee would finally be cool enough for me to consume and I tipped to take a big gulp, only to have it dribble all down my front! I investigate and the seal on my Brugo is now dead…..gone and buried, so no coffee for me. The Husband has his with milk so he’d been slowly drinking his whilst driving so he could not share with me. We had a pleasant enough time there, he took lots of photos, I took lots – his much better than mine of course and then headed off for breakfast with some friends. Coffee attempted again, this time I thought I’d try a latte, ick…weak! oh no! Good company though, even though they’d forgotten we were coming and so we had a mad dash run around getting ready before we headed out to breakfast. Thankfully they have a little near 2 yo who had them up anyway so at least we did not wake them!

On our way home we stopped so the Husband could get some new batteries for his flash, I grabbed another latte (and some raisin toast…I only had yoghurt for breakfast!) and thankfully this time it was nice! And I grabbed my sunglasses which were finally ready after 2 weeks of driving around with a squint! However, at this point my knee was aching!!! And it was HOT and I was over it! I got home and it was nearly lunch time and I decided that I needed comforting. Ergo, this recipe!

I had to adapt it a little, the Husband doesn’t like sweet potato, and I wanted to have some leftovers, so there was a bit more potato then originally called for and I didn’t have any peppers and I wasn’t willing at this point to go and get them. So next time around, I will add a red and yellow pepper to add some depth of flavour, but it worked out well without them. It just didn’t have all the good-mood colours Nigella spoke of. And I probably made the cheese a little more golden then some like, but it is as always a matter of personal preference.

Potato and Haloumi Bake


5 Desiree potatoes
1 onion
½ head of garlic
4T olive oil
Black pepper
125g Haloumi, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 200C
Cut the potato up. Halve the onion, and then cut into 4-6 segments. Separate the cloves of garlic. Put everything into a large roasting tin and using your hands give potato and onion with olive oil. Season with black pepper. Cook for 45 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Then place the cheese on the top and grill until the cheese is melted, serve.

Original recipe calls for 1 each red and yellow pepper deseeded, and 1 large sweet potato and 1 large Desiree – so try those if you like.

h1

*sigh*

January 13, 2010

I am feeling slightly kitchen deprived. I have had the 365 day challenge to occupy me somewhat but not enough. Now that I have “diagnosis” and a plan of attack to not treat my knee as though it is injured perhaps I can start up again? but on the flip side I’ve got 36 days until I head overseas and one should really be food conscious before going away because of the extra weight one will gain whilst away! Especially in light of the fact that I intend to tick off as many of these as possible!

To pass some time right now, when I should be at the gym and yet aren’t due to said injury I thought I’d do a meme entry – why not hey?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Obviously this is only based on limited knowledge/experience/understanding of what it would actually be like, but the Scottish Highlands ideally, but Scotland in general would be great for me. Some people find cold/wet/snowy weather miserable. Me? not at all, I thrive on it, the longer it lasts the happier and more content I feel. It’s refreshing to me, having said that I do live in Sunny Queensland, and experience a lot of sunshine – much to my chagrin but this is where I live, and I wouldn’t move really, I like being near the Clan, I’d miss them, and if my mother would just hurry up and move over, all would be good in the world!

Which cuisine (don’t say “desserts”!) fascinates you the most and why?
I’m fascinated by them all for different reasons, mostly to do with the interesting and bold ways flavours and textures are mixed together in different cuisines in ways that I as a person influenced heavily by her British Grandmother would think was right/normal/would work. I love seeing and trying different ways people work with different foods.

Celebrity chefs – a godsend or completely overrated?
Ahhh well, I guess it depends on what you hope to get from them. A revival in people cooking again? then a godsend, a plethora of people who just want to dine out in these peoples restaurants then overrated!

Dinner of a life-time… what would it be?
Simple – Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding with all the trimmings and Apple Pie and Custard for dessert. It’s a simple dish, and one that I always love to eat. ALWAYS! it would be my deathrow meal! I food don’t get me wrong, and if anyone asked I’d say Italian food is my “go to” comfort food, but this dish would and always is the perfect thing at the end of a day!

Apart from dessert, what do you take the most enjoyment out in life?
Honestly? I’d love to say just baking/cooking (since this is a blog about that) as it is something I love an enjoy and I use it extensively to make myself feel better, and to show people that I care about them. I’d also like to just say the Husband, and the wonderful pure love I feel from him each day, the way he can calm me down in a storm of emotions simply by being him and his stable self. But, I also love the work I do (at the moment anyway, perhaps I’ll burn out one day and stop) I am a social worker, and I do it because I love it, not because of any monetary benefit, not because of any recognition, but purely because I like to help people! At a basic level that is what it boils down too, whatever way it is that I’m helping them, small or large, if it helps that person in their space then I feel that warm fuzzy feeling and so I guess perhaps I don’t do it just for them? because I do get something out of it yes? but these 3 things are what keep me going, each day, what give me a purpose and a direction.