Wednesday, August 31, 2011

{Salted Caramel Sauce}

I found this recipe over at always with butter she has a chocolate cake over there with salted caramel buttercream frosting, oh man, that sounds so good, I don't think I could be left alone in the house with that cake. So any who this is the salted caramel sauce which you can use to produce said salted caramel buttercream but its also perfect for icecream, or poured over a sticky date pudding. 

Jack thinks I am a total rock star in the kitchen after producing this, bless him, I think it would make a gorgeous christmas pressy, it keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge (yeah fat chance) and it is easy peasy to make.

...the sauce
1 cup water
2 cups white sugar
1 cup thickened cream
1 tsp sea salt

Pour the water into a medium sized saucepan and then pour the sugar into the centre, not touching the sides of the pan. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, don't even think about stirring it, then turn up the heat to high and boil it until it turns golden brown, still not stirring.

Warm up the cream in the microwave for 45 seconds then slowly add it into the sugar using a whisk to stir it and prevent any lumps. Continue to boil until thickened (remembering that it thickens a fair bit once cooled) take it off the heat and stir thru the salt, (taste it, you might like it saltier). Cool it, pour it into jars and pop it into the fridge.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

{Espresso & Chocolate Cupcakes}

I'm not very good at piping icing, I think it always looks a bit like something dogs do at the park, especially with this glossy chocolate icing, however its the thought that counts as the saying goes and I whipped these up with our neighbour in mind. We often meet at the letterbox for a chat, she is most often walking home with a coffee in her hand, I am negotiating with the wee peas whose turn it is to get the mail. She loves coffee and is not well at the moment, she told me her doctor said she needs to put on weight for her treatment and well, that's something I can help with. Get well soon M. x

The recipe is from over at m.e, do you know she bakes all kinds of delicious cakes and never eats a bite of them, clearly we were separated at birth. Not. This recipe makes 16 cupcakes, 1 is left and its been less than 24hours, say no more.

...espresso cupcakes
115g butter, room temperature

115g raw sugar
115g brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
125g self raising flour, sifted
125 plain flour, sifted
125ml milk, room temperature
splash of vanilla
1/4 cup of brewed strong espresso

...chocolate butter cream
150g butter, room temperature
120g icing sugar
60ml milk, room temperature
60g cocoa
3 tbsp of golden syrup

Preheat oven to 180 or 160 fan forced, line cupcake trays with papers. Cream the butter and sugars until mixture is pale and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, sift flours together in a separate bowl, add espresso and vanilla to milk and add then add flour to butter mixture in 3 batches alternating with the milk and ending with flour until all added and mixed well. Spoon into cupcake papers and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden, test with a skewer, it should come out clean. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the butter cream just pop all the ingredients into your mixer bowl and mix until light and fluffy, add more icing sugar if needed (I added an extra 2 tbsp to get the consistency I wanted).

{Pork, Potato & Gherkin Goulash}

If I was a vegetarian I would miss bacon the most, and if we got rid of our TV I would miss thursday nights on SBS (and the Bold and The Beautiful shhhhhhhhh). The new series of Gourmet Farmer starts tonight, I'm beside myself with excitement, this is one of Mathews recipes, its out of the new SBS food magazine, Feast, I've subscribed to it and I love it, it even feels nice.... weirdo.

Anyway best squeeze this comfort food recipe in pronto, it was the gherkins that enticed me, I love gherkins, and seeing as we've had a week of 20 degree days and yesterday on a walk we picked jasmine and daphne its a sure sign that the bbq will soon be lugged out from the side of the house, the spiders brushed off and we will start eating in the garden on warm evenings, hooray for that, I've got some new salad recipes I can't wait to try. Bring it on.

...the goulash
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg pork shoulder in 5cm peices (I actually halved this)
1 tbsp plain flour
2 onions finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1/3 cup tomato passata
400g baby potatoes, halved
80g dill cucumbers
100g sourcream

Preheat oven to 150. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, dust pork with flour and cook in batches till evenly browned. Transfer to a plate. Add the onions and a little more oil if necessary and cook till softened and starting to colour, add in the paprika and garlic and stir for a minute then return the pork, the passata a tsp of salt and some freshly ground pepper, stir in two cups of water and bring to the boil.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 1.5 hours, give it a stir and add in the potatoes, push them down into the liquid then return it to the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour till they are tender (at this point my pork was falling apart).

Stir in the sourcream and chopped gherkins, check seasoning and serve with something green.

Monday, August 22, 2011

{Nanaimo Bars}

As soon as I read the words custard butter cream I knew I'd be making this, its my new favourite slice and you don't even need to turn the oven on, bonus. I made it to share with friends, we drank coffee and nibbled on little triangles of chocolatey custardy perfection while sitting in front of their open fire, our bellies full of slow cooked lamb and cous cous. The big and the little people agreed this one is a winner, a total crowd pleaser and did I mention the custard butter cream ...

1/2 cup (113g) butter

1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1/3 cup (30g) cocoa powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) crushed digestive biscuits
1 cup (65g) coconut
1/2 cup (50g) nuts (I used almonds), coarsely chopped

1/4 cup (56g) butter, room temperature
2 - 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tbsp (20g) vanilla custard powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups (230g) icing sugar
120g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tbsp butter

Spray and line a 23 x 23 cm slice tin.

Start with the bottom layer, in a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg, drizzle it in slowly. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, biscuit crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts then press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared tin. Cover with gladwrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

For the middle layer use your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk or cream. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Now the last layer, chop the chocolate into small pieces and in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the custard butter cream layer and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or just until the chocolate has set. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares, if the chocolate cracks when you try to slice it up leave it for a few minutes at room temperature and try again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

{Zucchini Pickles}

These pickles are famous, as famous as a pickle can be that is, they are served on a burger at Zuni Cafe in San Fransisco and I've come across mention of them a few times on my travels and so I had to make them. Turns out they are worthy of their fame, we ate half a jar just "testing" them, I am hoping there will be some left for the burgers I plan to make next week but considering we also gave away a jar to friends as part of a housewarming gift I may just be whipping up another batch before burger night rolls round.

This recipe also goes out my Auntie Sue who has more zucchinis than she knows what to do with over there in her London allotment, maybe you could use a few of the babies for this recipe Suzie.

...the pickles
450g zucchini (medium-smallish)
1 small onion
3 tbsp salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
1 scant teaspoon ground turmeric

Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them thinly using a mandolin. Slice the onion thinly too. Place together in a large but shallow bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt.

After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini, it should be slightly salty and softened. Drain, and dry very thoroughly between tea towels or paper towels. The zucchini needs to be very dry otherwise it will not be stay crisp. Rinse and dry the bowl you were using.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, and turmeric in a saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside and cool until room temperature. Put the zucchini back in the bowl and add the cooled vinegar, stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickles to sterilised jars (makes 3 medium sized jars worth, I just boiled them and their lids for 10 minutes then allowed them to cool). Cover and refrigerate for at least a day before serving they will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

{Turkish Lamb & Okra Stew}

This recipe is inspired by an old boss and friend Jenet who introduced me to okra many years ago, she brought this delicious lamb and okra stew into work and shared it with me, she was always so generous to me especially when it came to food and although she couldn't give me a proper recipe for the dish (her brother Ender made it) over the years I've kept making versions of it and this has become my favourite one. 

This is not exactly the dish I shared with her that wintery day all those years ago but the lamb and okra are there and every time I eat it I think of her. Make a big pot of this and share it with someone you care about.

...the stew
500g lamb shoulder in 3cm dice
1 onion, large dice
1 red capsicum, large dice
1 zucchini, sliced thickly
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 litre chicken stock
800g tin of okra

Preheat oven to 160. Heat a splash of olive in an oven proof casserole dish with a lid, season the lamb and brown all sides, set aside. Add the onion, capsicum, and zucchini to the pan and cook them till softened then add the garlic, cumin and coriander and cook for a further few minutes. Add back in the lamb the stock the tin of tomatoes and juice of half the lemon, season with s +p and pop it into the oven for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven, the lamb should be falling apart by now so stir in the okra along with the juice from the other half of your lemon, put it back in the oven for half an hour to heat thru, check seasoning and serve with either turkish bread or some pilaf or even just on its own.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

{Real Strawberry Cupcakes}

That's real strawberries as apposed to "strawberry flavoured", to be honest they took a bit of faffing around and are quite sweet but they were a big hit with the little people in the house, Jay unfortunately missed his chance when he declined to take one to work for lunch , he thought there would be some left when he got home that night, rookie.

I'd like to add that they are delicious and although they come with a sugar high if you channel and time it properly you can use it to your advantage and dash round the house like a fembot cleaning up the days debris, cooking dinner, bathing the wee ones, folding the washing whilst sweeping the floor and emptying the dishwasher, along with all the other things you didn't get round to because you were faffing around all afternoon making strawberry cupcakes.

...strawberry cupcakes
150g strawberries
2 tbsp sugar
115g butter, room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g self raising flour, sifted
125g plain flour, sifted
125ml milk, room temperature

..strawberry butter cream
strawberry puree
125g butter, room temperature
30ml milk, room temperature
500g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180/160 fan forced, line cupcake trays with papers (my batch made 16).

To make the strawberry puree cut strawberries into quarters and pop in a small saucepan over low heat for a couple of minutes until liquid starts being released, add the sugar and allow to cook for a few minutes until strawberries are soft. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth, cook on low heat for a minute longer then take off heat and allow to cool.

On to the cupcakes, cream the butter and sugar until its pale and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, sift flours together in a separate bowl and add the vanilla to the milk. Add half the flour, and milk mixtures to the butter, combine then add the rest of the flour and milk and mix till all combined and smooth.

Remove a cup of the cupcake batter and add half the strawberry puree. Spoon the plain cupcake batter into cupcake papers, then divide strawberry mixture between cupcakes, and using a skewer, swirl the mixture to create a marbled effect. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden, test with a skewer. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then pop on a wire rack to cool completely.

Now on to the buttercream, cream the butter for a couple of minutes then add the strawberry puree, milk and a cup of icing sugar, continue beating for a few minutes until smooth, then gradually add the rest of the icing sugar beating it until its really light and fluffy. Ice those cooled cupcakes and eat em.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

{Parisian Pumpkin Soup}

We've been eating a lot of soup, at the beginning of winter I planned to make a soup a week and I have done that, you may have picked up on it if you are a regular here and if you don't like soup you may have lost a bit of interest but this will be the last one, promise, well for this year anyway.

With four weeks left of winter I've already got a lot of salad recipes lined up ready to try, we had a really good potato & egg salad last week which I'll post next time I make it, the day after we had the leftovers in beautiful sourdough ham sandwiches and I am still thinking about how delicious they were!

This is how they do the humble pumpkin soup in france, it is the only pumpkin soup I make since I tried it about three years ago, its full of sourcream and butter, its lush, bon appetit.

...the soup
1 kg pumpkin (I love kent)
1 litre chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
250ml sourcream

...the croutons
90g cold butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 thick slices of nice bread (I used sourdough)

Pop the peeled and diced pumpkin into a large saucepan along the with the stock, sugar and bay leaf, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Let it cool a little, remove the bay leaf and then blitz it smooth, pass thru a sieve back into the pot and bring up to a simmer for a couple of minutes then reduce the heat and add the sourcream and s+p, stir till combined and gently heat it thru.

Remove the crusts from the bread and chop into large dice. Melt the butter in a frypan over a medium heat, add the garlic, parsley and bread and toss until bread is crisp and golden, serve a few in the middle of your pumpkin soup.