Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Chocolate Meringue Pie

This pie is a bit of a show stopper.  Hence, I didn't present it during yesterday's broadcast of Game of Thrones.  All eyes would have been on me the pie, rather than on Sansa... and we couldn't have that now, could we?

Chocolate Meringue Pie
Adapted from here

For the Base:
180g shortbread biscuits
150g unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:
300g dark chocolate
300g milk chocolate
450ml pouring cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:
440g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
125ml water
150ml (about 4) egg whites

Make the Base:
Put the biscuits into a food processor and blitz until fine.  Add the butter and salt and blitz again until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Press the mixture into a 1 litre capacity pie dish and place in the refrigerator to set.

Make the Filling:
Put the chocolate and cream into a medium saucepan and place over a low heat.  Stir until melted, add the vanilla and pour into the chilled biscuit base.  Place it back into the refrigerator to chill for about an hour, until set.

Make the Topping:
Put 330g of the sugar, the cream of tartar and water into a small saucepan and place over a high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook without stirring, for 3 - 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip them on high speed until soft peaks form.  Add the remaining 110g of sugar one tablespoon at a time, while continuously beating.  Keep the mixer on high speed as you add the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream.  Whisk for a further 3 - 4 minutes.  The mixture will be super thick and glossy.

Spoon the meringue on top of the pie and use a kitchen blow torch to lightly toast it, slightly scorching at the peaks.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Chai Muffins

It's Friday morning and I can already smell the weekend from here... And the weekend smells like freshly extracted coffee and baked bread.  It smells like the sea and the market.  It smells like filter coffee poured from a Thermos and fudgy chocolate cake, hand-held and eaten in the chill of the Autumn air.  It smells like bubble bath and red wine.  It smells like spiced tea and muffins, still warm from the oven... It's okay if I start a day early, yeah?

Chai Muffins
slightly adapted from here
Makes 12

225ml mil of your choice (I used low fat cows milk)
2 Chai teabags
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
400g spelt flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
150g light muscovado sugar
75g natural almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
2 eggs
150ml sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper liners.  Set aside.

Tear the teabags open and tip the tea leaves into a saucepan.  Add the milk and cinnamon and heat over a medium flame until just at simmering point.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and most of the chopped almonds (reserving some for sprinkling) into a mixing bowl and stir it together.

Once the milk is cool, add the eggs and oil and whisk to combine.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until just combined.  Don't over mix.

Divide the batter between the paper liners and sprinkle with the reserved chopped nuts.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Oat Loaf

I'm not sure if anyone is still reading my blog, but if you are (I love you) and I apologise for it being so long between drinks.  Every time I sit down to write a post lately I run out of time, or get distracted... or my life gets in the way (how very dare it!)  I want to assure you that I'm still cooking and baking my heart out and have a scary amount of photos to edit and posts to publish.  I promise to hang in there until my life untangles itself.  In the meantime, if you want to catch up with me, I always find time to post a photo or two to Instagram, so you can say hi there.  I'd love it if you did.

I did find time to share this healthy loaf with you though.  Throw it together, bake it off, slather it with your favourite spread and breakfast like a boss.

Oat Loaf
adapted from here

6 eggs
90ml maple syrup
60ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
350g old fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
100g medjool dates, halved
75g dried blueberries
80g brazil nuts
50g pumpkin seeds
100g black sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 31 x 11 x 7.5cm loaf tin with baking paper. Set aside.

Beat the eggs until broken up and frothy.  Add the maple syrup, oil, cinnamon and 250ml water.  Beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the oats, dates, blueberries, brazil nuts, pumpkins seeds and sesame seeds.  Stir until well mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until the centre to firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  Remove from the pan and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

I served it generously spread with almond butter and sliced strawberries.  It also makes killer PB & J toast.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Beef and Beer Pies

It's Friday night and there's footy on the TV.  Serve these, golden beauties chin-blistering hot with tomato sauce (ketchup) and icy cold beer... but I didn't need to tell you that, right?

Beef and Beer Pies
adapted from here
Makes 8

For the Filling:
Olive oil, for frying
1k of chuck steak, chopped into 2cm dice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain flour, for dusting
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
375ml (a stubby) of your favourite beer
500ml beef stock

For the Pastry:
300g unsalted butter
320ml water
550g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
1 egg, beaten for glazing

Make the Filling:
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Season the chopped meat well with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour, shake of the excess, and brown in batches in a large Dutch oven, using about 1 tablespoon of oil for each batch.  Remove the browned meat to a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if needed, and fry the onions, garlic and celery on medium-low for about 10 minutes, until softened.  Add the meat back to the pan and the tomato paste and fry for 2 minutes.  Add the bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, beer and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Cut a circle of baking paper big enough fit the pan and run it under a tap to wet it.  Scrunch it up and squeeze it out.  Place the paper directly on top of the meat mixture.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours, until the meat it tender.  Check the liquid level from time to time and if it looks like it's drying out too much, add a splash of water.

Remove the pan from the oven, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, and let the meat mixture cool down completely before assembling the pies.

Make the Pastry:
Put the butter and water into a medium size pan.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling and the butter has melted, remove from the heat and add the flour and salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together, then dump it out onto a floured work surface and bring it together with your hands until you have a soft dough.

Make the Pies:
Preheat the oven to 200C.  Grease 8 x 12.5cm pie tins.  Set aside.

Divide the dough into a 3/4 and a 1/4 portion.  Take the 3/4 portion and divide into 8 even portions. Roll each portion into a ball, and then roll each ball out to a circle big enough to line the base and sides of your pie tins.  Once you've lined the tins, dollop a generous amount of filling into each pastry case.

Now take the 1/4 portion and divide into 8 even portions.  Roll each portion into a ball, and then roll each ball out to a circle big enough to top your pies.  Make a small hole in the centre of each lid and press the lid onto the pies, pressing the edges firmly to create a good seal.  Use a sharp knife to trim off the excess pastry.  Brush the lids with beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Place the pies onto a large baking tray and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the filling is piping hot and the pastry is golden.  Serve chin-blistering hot with tomato sauce (ketchup) and icy cold beer... but I didn't need to tell you that, right?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Raspberry and Chocolate Pavlova

If you're looking for a "special occasion" dessert, look no further.  I made (and ate) this on a rainy Friday... which was special enough for me.

Raspberry and Chocolate Pavlova

For the Pavlova:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
220g caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Topping:
250ml cream
350g sour cream
55g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ganache made with 100g dark chocolate, chooped and 100ml cream
250g fresh raspberries

Make the Pavlova:
Preheat the oven to 150C.  Mark a 20cm circle on a large piece of baking paper and line a large baking tray with it.  Set aside.

Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until they form stiff peaks.  Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously.  Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for a further 10 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vinegar and whisk for a few more minutes.  The meringue should be firm and glossy.  Spoon about 1 cup of the mixture onto the circle on the baking paper.  Use a palette knife to spread it evenly to cover the circle.  Dollop spoonfuls of mixture around the circle to create a ring. 

Decrease the oven temperature to 120C and bake the pavlova for 90 minutes.  Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova in the oven for a further 90 minutes.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.

Make the Topping:
Make the ganache by putting the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl and setting it aside.  Then, bring the cream to boiling point in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Leave for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool to a drizzling consistency.

Put the cream, sour cream, vanilla and icing sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until they form soft peaks. 

Pile the whipped cream into the centre of the pavlova and top with fresh raspberries.  Put the ganache into a disposable piping bag, snip a very small hole in the tip and and drizzle over the lot.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Portuguese Egg Tarts

I made these for breakfast, but you can eat them any time of the day.  It's never a bad time to eat little egg tarts... I might get that printed on a T-shirt.

Portuguese Egg Tarts

slightly adapted from here
Makes 15

For the Rough Puff Pastry:

200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chilled water

For the Syrup:

250g caster sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 thick, long strip of lemon peel
I vanilla pod

For the Custard:

25g plain flour
12g cornflour
300ml full cream milk
4 egg yolks, plus one whole egg

Make the Pastry:

Place flour and salt in a bowl, add butter and rub through with fingertips until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water, cutting it with a butter knife, to form a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough into a 30 x 15 cm rectangle. Fold in the two short ends to meet in the centre, then fold in again to make a book fold. Roll the pastry into a 30 x 15cm rectangle again, then repeat folding process. Refrigerate as a small rectangle for a further 30 minutes before using.

Make the Syrup:
Put the sugar, cinnamon and lemon peel into a medium saucepan. Split and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod. Reserve the seeds for the custard and add the pod to the sugar mixture. Put the pan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the syrup to cool completely. Once cool, remove the cinnamon, lemon and vanilla pod.

Make the Custard:

Combine both flours in a mixing bowl. Pour some of the milk in and whisk to form a paste. Bring the remaining milk to a boil over low heat. Gradually add the hot milk to the flour mixture, whisking continuously, until smooth. Then whisk in the syrup. Add the egg, egg yolks and the reserved vanilla seeds. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Set aside.

Make the Tarts:

Preheat the oven to 250C (or to your ovens highest temperature). 

Roll the pastry out as thin as you can to a large rectangle. Brush the surface with water and roll the pastry, using one of the long edges, into a tight jelly roll shape. Cut the pastry into 15 even portions.

Press the portions into the holes of a cupcake pan, using your fingers to work the pastry up the sides of the pans.

Pour the custard evenly into the pastry cups until almost full. Bake for 20 minutes. The pastry should be golden and crisp and the custard should be set and scorched in places. Allow the tarts to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

You can use a spray bottle to mist the tops with a little water as they come out of the oven to make the tops shiny if you like, but it`s totally optional.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


These divine little twists of sesame seed coated bread are perfect with a morning coffee, or split and spread generously with butter and jam, or torn and dipped into your best olive oil and dukkah.  Bread, you've gotta love it.

Makes 10
slightly adapted from here

7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
2 teaspoons caster sugar
375ml lukewarm water
2 1/2 tablespoons thickened cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
475g 00 flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
100ml pomegranate molasses
1 cup sesame seeds

Put the yeast, sugar and water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir with a fork and set aside for 10 minutes to become foamy.  Add the cream and oil and mix with the mixer on low.  Gradually add the flour and mix until a soft dough forms.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230C fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.  Set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into ten even portions.  Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Take a portion of dough and cut it in half.  Roll each half into a long rope about 30 cm long.  Twist the two strips together and press the ends together to form a circle.  Repeat for the remaining portions.

Combine the pomegranate molasses, 100ml water and a big pinch of salt in a shallow bowl.  Put the sesame seeds in a separate shallow bowl.

Dip each ring into the pomegranate mixture, shake off the excess, then dip into the sesame seeds to coat all over.  Place the rings onto the prepared baking trays and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through the cooking time, until golden.