Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Strawboffee Pie

© Sandra Reisinger

The weather was amazing this weekend and with strawberry season being in full swing in Fife I decided to give this version of a toffee pie a go. If you decide to make one, learn from my mistakes - trying to crumble hobnobs at 7 in the morning is a bad idea....you can't use a blender and it takes forever :)
Anyhow, here we go:

Strawboffee Pie

300g Hobnobs or other oat biscuits
60g Butter, melted
1 tin Caramel (I know this is the ultimate laziness but I don't like boiling sugar....)
400g Strawberries (worked well for us, but just see how it goes)
300-400ml Whipping cream
1 tbsp Icing sugar

Heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Crumble the Hobnobs into the size of breadcrumbs (or put them into a blender and pulse them). Mix in the melted butter and make sure it gets well incorporated.
Find a nice 26cm tin. I used my springform tin which turned out to be a bad idea because it has a slightly raised edge on the base. It still worked fine but if you have a loose bottomed tin with a completely smooth bottom that will make getting the base off it soo much easier.
Press the Hobnob and butter mixture into the tin so it forms a nice even layer.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Let it cool down and then transfer it onto a pretty cake stand or just your favourite plate.
Spread the caramel over the base, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (or until just before you need it).
Cut the strawberries into 5mm slices and avoid the 'one for me, one for the cake' approach :)
Scatter the strawberries over the caramel.
Whip the cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form and spread over the strawberries.
Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea and a good chat.

© Anna Blanch

And with that I'm off for another day of thinking about food and monocular regions in binocular scenes!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Pretty Food :)

Since I'm still in London, today's post is sans recipe....but I can promise you the most amazing french toast recipe on Sunday :) once it's all been eaten by the lovely Deans Court crowd I shall report back!
So some more pretty photos this time.....

This is from dinner I had with my lovely academic sister Vicky who I hadn't seen in too long!!!!

And I feel like this is the most depressing fortune cookie words of wisdom I've ever come across....

Anyhow....have a lovely beginning of the weekend and I'm off to catch my train back home :)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sweet Potato and Cashew Curry Soup

This recipe was inspired by a visit to Nahm-Jim in St Andrews. Is there anyone who doesn't love their food? Anyhow, on a cold Friday night in March a (back then) vegan Katharina got blown away by this curry.
Here's my version of this little piece of heaven in soup form

Sweet Potato and Cashew Curry Soup
2 largeish Sweet potatoes chopped into nice big chunks
1 handful Cashews
1/2 Onion, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp Red curry paste
2 tbsp Cream of Coconut
1 tin Coconut milk
Enough stock to cover the sweet potatoes

Heat some oil in a pan, saute the onions, add the garlic and once it starts smelling all lovely and  garlicky, add the red curry paste and cook for a minute.
Add the cream of coconut and cook for a bit longer. If it goes a bit too thick, add a bit of the stock. Don't forget to stir :)
Add the sweet potatoes the coconut milk and add enough stock so the sweet potatoes are pretty much covered (i.e. you don't want half the chunks to be uncovered).
Simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender.
Depending on how you like your cashews you could either add them relatively early (they go all buttery tender) or just before serving (they'll still be nice and crunchy....well as crunchy as cashews will ever be...).
Enjoy on it's own or with some bread (strips of corn tortillas work really well, too).

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Borough Market

I'm in London at the moment, so no cooking for me.....but you still get some pictures :)
Arti and I went to Borough Market for breakfast and a stroll.

There's just something amazingly amazing about bread. I can understand why people want to cut horrendous shop bought bread out of their diets....but I don't think there's many things on this planet that make you feel so happy and at home as a nice freshly baked loaf of bread does. Once I get back home I shall take advantage of my mum's oven and I'll do some proper baking :)
As for the olives, I just love olives! You've never tried them all and they're just so pretty (I can't wait for dinner tonight). 
Anyhow, that's it for today (I've got some code waiting for me), apart from - Arti if you're reading this - get back to your draft!!!!! :)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Kamut Focaccia

I haven't really kept up with my food shopping lately....so a few days ago my section in the fridge....ok....if I'm honest I normally seem to take over the majority of the fridge (sorry Vinet!) anyhow, the section I tend to take over was nearing crisis mode...but  I found some tomatoes (ok, not in the fridge) and some mushrooms and the idea of making focaccia was born.
As I said I have a thing for Kamut at the moment. Kamut is related to durum wheat and it gives your baked goods a slightly more golden tone than normal wheat would. The flour smells like a hot day at the end of the summer when you're walking past bales of straw...minus the sunscreen smell.
So I decided to give it a go in a yeasty dough

Kamut Focaccia
300g Kamut flour
300g Strong bread flour
42g Fresh yeast
2tbsp Salt
1tbsp Olive oil
about 350ml water at room temperature...just see how it goes...

So basically what you want to do is put the flour and the salt into a bowl (yes, adding the salt right at the beginning is not good for the yeast but adding it later is such a mess...unless you have a nice and shiny kitchen aid it will be incredibly hard to get it to mix in properly).
Make a well in the flour and crumble the yeast into it. Add some water and stir into a smooth paste. It's ok if you mix in some of the flour but try not to mix in too much.
Give the yeast mixture 5 to 10 minutes and then mix it with the flour and add some more water (don't add all at a time....go for small increments....once you have to start adding flour to make a dough less sticky you're on a slippery slope...) and the olive oil.
Now it's time for your arms to get a workout :) get kneading and keep going for 10 minutes. If you haven an electric mixer it should take about 5 minutes on the slow speed.
Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel and leave the dough to rise until it's doubled in size (give it about 2 hours), knock it back and let it rise for another half an hour (a lot of recipes don't do the middle proof but I once read that this is what makes the dough nice and airy...could just be superstition but it really seems to work...)/
You'll want to preheat your oven to about 220 degrees about now.
Knock the dough back again and stretch/roll it out on a baking tray (unless you've got one of those uber-awesome trays that my mum has that nothing seems to stick to even though they're not non-stick, use some flour or baking parchment or one of those nifty silicone sheets) and yes, you might have guessed, leave it to rise again (last time, I promise!). Give it another 20 or 30 minutes.
In the meantime you chop up whatever veg you want to put on top, or if you're just using rosemary, sit back and relax or write a paragraph :)
Now you're gonna punch little wells into the dough (oh the childhood memories...this is just like playing with playdoh!!!)
Put the topping of your choice on...I was very fond of the mushroom, tomato, red onion and garlic combination I went for...
Bake it or 20 to 30 minutes and enjoy the smell of awesomeness wafting through your kitchen.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Quince Buckwheat & Spelt Pancakes

©Anna Blanch

I should really start writing about something other than brunch and cake....but aren't they some of the best things in life?
Anyhow, as promised, here's the pancakes we made a couple of weeks ago when Anna was staying with me for the weekend (I'm sorry I was such a boring host!)
We made them with apples this time but they work better with quince, so if you can find some awesome, otherwise, a rather tart apple should work as well, we had Braeburn and they didn't quite work...
I originally got the recipe from Kim Boyce's 'Good to the Grain' which, if you're into whole grain baking is like food porn :)
Pancakes....the original recipe uses pears and if you ever tried to feed me pears you will know that I'd rather write a chapter than eat pears....but I had these amazingly fragrant quince sitting in my kitchen that I only bought because I love the smell so much (though...quince curry.....hmmm....) and because they remind me of my grandparents garden when I  was little (I had a quince tree there).....and somehow the quince ended up in my pancakes.
The way I like to have those pancakes made my mum shake her head but try it, and you'll understand why this is my favourite breakfast in the world!

Quince Buckwheat & Spelt Pancakes
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup whole-grain spelt flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
11/4 cups soy milk
1 egg
1 large quince (though I'm guessing if you have your own tree you'll need two...) peeled just before you're ready to start

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. I know this might seem tedious but it's really worth the effort! Your pancakes, or any baking for that matter becomes a lot lighter and you don't have to worry about lumps as much.
In a large bowl, whisk the butter, soy milk and egg together and grate the quince into the mixture (quince discolour quite a lot if you grate them in advance, so I'd really only grate them when you need them).
Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Don't overbeat at this step otherwise your pancakes will go this weird rubbery texture....
Now you get to have fun!
Heat a pan over medium heat and rub it with butter (Kim Boyce points out that using lots of butter is what makes the edges go all crisp and buttery....which makes sense but until she pointed it out I never thought about it.....so go for the 'it's brunch....it doesn't count' attitude :) )
Go for about 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake.
Once you get those awesome bubbles at the top of the pancakes, flip them and keep cooking until the bottom is a lovely golden colour.

©Anna Blanch

So back to them being my favourite breakfast in the world.....
A while ago I felt like experimenting so I added some poached eggs, some steamed apples, some grated cheese, and some agave syrup......you know how some dishes just feel like a party in your mouth? Well this is like a slowdance with an incredibly cute guy.....the egg yolks just melt in with the creaminess of the cheese which contrasts the tartness of the apples just to be balanced by the mellow sweetness of the syrup......

Steamed Apples
You'll need 1 apple per person. I prefer tart, crispy apples for this.
Peel the apples, core them and cut them into quarters, then you slice each of the quarters into pound coin thick slices.
Here's where my laziness takes over....stick them into a microwaveable dish, cover and microwave them until they're tender but not falling apart. If you're just making enough for yourself that'll take 2 minutes, if you're going for 3 or 4 apples it'll probably take more like 5 minutes....just keep checking.

You know how to grate cheese....but I've tried it with different types of cheese and you get the nicest effect with a not to mild slightly nutty cheese. Fine, a mature cheddar from your supermarket might work as well....but go and make your local cheesemonger happy!

©Anna Blanch

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

©Anna Blanch

Don't you love those recipes that don't ever fail you?
One of my favourites is that for the Red Velvet Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. I got this recipe from their cookbook 'More From Magnolia' which is my favourite one...not so keen on the other ones....but oh, the amazingness....if I didn't have to sit on my hands to stop the hyperness from taking over I wouldn't mind eating 3 in one go...
If you stick to the recipe (yes, I can't believe I'm saying this...but for this recipe it's true....the batch I made for this year's Eurovision party was an embarrassment....too chocolatey, too dense....do you want me to continue?) it will not fail you. So dig out your measuring cups and spoons and go crazy :)
That aside, I can't think of any cake or cupcake (though I prefer the cupcake version...) that combines all the good things in life....food colouring, sugar...lots of sugar....and the most amazing icing I have ever come across.
Anyhow, here we go:

Red Velvet Cupcakes
makes 2 dozen and a few spare ones you can feed whoever is helping you with the icing
-31/3 cups plain flour
-3/4 cup unsalted butter (if you're metric that is about 85 g), softened
-21/4 cups sugar
-4 medium eggs at room temperature
-Red food colouring - if you're using liquid use 6 tbsp, if you're using paste like me I don't have a clue....I think I tend to end up with about a tsp but I can't get a measuring soon into the tub so go for what I tend to do....use lots :) you want a deep and rich colour
-3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened) - this is where proper measuring spoons come in handy....
-11/2 tsp vanilla extract
-11/2 tsp salt
-11/2 cups buttermilk (if you can't find any in the shops use milk and about 1 tbsp of cider vinegar)
-11/2 tsp cider vinegar
-11/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees.
Line the cupcake tins.
Sift the flour in a small bowl and set it aside.
Cream the butter, add the sugar and keep going for about 5 minutes (and yes, we're using an electric mixer here....unless you've got the most amazing arm muscles ever!!). Once you get a fluffy consistency you start adding the eggs one at a time (beat well after each of them).
Now you mix the food colouring, the cocoa and the vanilla in a small bowl. If you're using food colouring paste you might want to add 5tbsp of water for the consistency. Now you get to feel like a kid because we're adding the colour to the batter :)
Stir the the salt into the buttermilk and add it to the batter alternating with the flour. Splitting the flour into 4 parts tends to work the best for me. At this stage you don't want to overbeat the batter so make sure the ingredients are mixed in but don't worry if it's not completely mixed through.
Now you mix the vinegar and the baking soda and add the bubbling mixture to the batter. Once it's properly mixed in, scrape down the batter in the bowl (make sure the batter is smooth) and fill the tins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes but check with a cake tester before you take them out.
Let the cupcakes cool in the tins for 10 minutes and then put them onto a wire rack so they can cool completely.

The Best Vanilla Frosting
makes enough for your cupcakes and to keep your helping hands happy
-6 tbsp plain flour
-2 cups milk
-2 cups unsalted butter (450 g), softened
-2 cups sugar
-2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the flour and the milk in a saucepan until you have a smooth mixture (i.e. lumps are bad!!!) and put it over medium heat, stirring constantly (no watching 5 minutes of something online or fixing some code or whatever.....) until it becomes really thick and starts bubbling like custard tends to (this should take about 10-15 minutes if you listened to me and put it over medium heat....).
Take the saucepan off the heat and cover the mixture with waxed paper - make sure the paper sticks to the surface (otherwise you get that weird skin custard gets and while it is amazing in custard it will turn your icing into a lumpy mess) and let it cool to room temperature.
If you're struggling time-wise I would do this step either before you start with the cupcakes in the first place or once you've put them into the oven.
Now, once the milk mixture has cooled down you beat the butter in a large bowl for 3 minutes (we're still using an electric mixer...in case you were wondering....) at the medium high speed. It will get smooth and creamy. Slowly add the sugar and keep beating continuously for 3 minutes until it's all fluffy. Add the vanilla.
Add the milk mixture and keep beating for another 5 minutes (don't be tempted to switch to the high speed because you'll get too much air into the icing and it goes all weird...) until it goes whiter - you'll notice it, suddenly it seems to go from it's buttery colour to a lighter shade of off-white...just wait for it....
Cover the mix and put it into the fridge for 15 minutes (any shorter and it's going to be too soft to spread it with a spatula, any longer and it gets too hard...so no running off!)
Now you're ready to ice your cupcakes!

©Anna Blanch

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Kamut Palatschinken with a Bananas Foster Sauce

Over the last few weeks we have been getting into the whole Saturday brunch idea...well....can you call it brunch if people show up at 9 and everyone is gone by 11.....no idea....but it means I get to see people, relax, eat some fab food and then there's no excuse to not do work afterwards....
Anyhow....today we made Palatschinken.
Palatschinken is a Crepe-like pancake you tend to find in Bavaria and Austria and since I can't wait to go home this summer it seemed like a perfect idea :)
I have a thing for Kamut flour at the moment....I just love the flavour and the golden colour just amazes me every time I make something with it....I still haven't gotten around trying Kamut SpƤtzle but I might give that a try this fall....not sure about using only Kamut in pancakes though....the flavour was amazing but it gives you too much of a crumbly texture which was slightly weird in pancakes...perhaps adding spelt would do the job....
As for the Bananas Foster sauce....I bought a copy of the Southern Living 116 Cakes & Pies and I've been wanting to try their version of the sauce for a while...I ended up changing most of it....somehow I couldn't motivate myself to set my flat on fire on a Saturday morning....

When I make pancakes I put the bowl onto my scales and measure everything by weight....my mum says it doesn't make a difference for milk....I'm not convinced density-wise (has milk a higher or lower density than water....lower, right????)....but it saves you the washing-up
300 g flour
6 eggs
350 g milk
1 packet of vanilla sugar (Sandra and I think that's 7.5 grams...)
about a tbsp of oil
a pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients, leave them for about 10 minutes or so....heat up a non-stick pan and off you go (aim for thin but not crazy thin).

Bananas Foster Sauce
60 g butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup of rum
a pinch of ground cinnamon
2 bananas, peeled and sliced

Melt the butter in a pan, add sugar, rum and cinnamon and stir everything together. You'll want to leave it bubbling for about 3 minutes - don't forget to stir!!!!
Add the bananas and leave it on the heat for another 2 or 3 minutes....or until you just can't wait any longer...

Sandra doesn't like bananas so here's the alternative photo for today....Palatschinken filled with cinnamon and sugar with some Scottish raspberries

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