Sunday, 26 June 2016

Chocolate Fudge Toasted Marshmallow Pots

We all know those winter Sundays when you've been out all morning at the farmers market, trudging around the supermarket, working out, gardening, antiquing or, in my case, watching junior football. You come home, put on your fuzzy socks, throw another log on the fire, curl up on the sofa with a good book, a mug of milky coffee and a quilt over your knees and the thing that would really put the icing on the cake (literally) would be a chocolately, fudgy, toasted marshmallowy pot of deliciousness... I've got you covered.

Chocolate Fudge Toasted Marshmallow Pots
adapted from here
Makes 4

For the Base:
8 gingerbread cookies (I used my homemade Gingerbread Oat Cookies, but you can use your favourite store bought ginger biscuits)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Fudge Layer:
125ml buttermilk
125ml cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 egg
125g light brown sugar
45g unsalted butter, melted
50ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch sea salt

For the Topping:
White marshmallows

Make the Base:
Put the cookies/biscuits and cocoa powder into a food processor and blitz to fine crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse to mix.  Divide the mixture between 4 oven-proof jars and press down firmly.  Set aside.

Make the Fudge Layer:
Preheat the oven to 170C.

Put the buttermilk, cream and coffee granules into a saucepan.  Heat on low-medium until the coffee dissolves.  Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and smooth.  Add the cooled buttermilk mixture, melted butter, sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add them to the batter.  Use a spatula to fold the mixture.  Divide the batter evenly into the jars, smoothing the tops to level them as well as you can.

Put the jars into a deep baking dish, pour boiling water into the baking dish so that it comes halfway up the sides of the jars.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the jars from the water bath and heat the grill/broiler to high.  Top the jars with marshmallows, pushing them down onto the fudge layer to get as many as you can on top and grill/broil until lightly toasted.  You can use a kitchen blowtorch to scorch the marshmallows if you have one.  Eat while hot. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Borscht Burgers

For when you really want burgers for dinner, but you ate a brownie with your afternoon coffee.

Borscht Burgers
Makes 4
adapted from here

For the Patties:
30g unsalted butter
200g raw beetroot, coarsely grated
1 brown onion, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
300g mashed potato
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon bottle horseradish
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain flour, for dusting
Sunflower oil, for frying

For the Burgers:
4 brioche buns
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves,
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 teaspoons bottle horseradish
Sprigs of dill

Make the Patties:
Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the beetroot, onion and vinegar and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until softened.  Combine in a bowl with the mashed potatoes, sour cream and horseradish.  Season with salt and pepper and form into 4 even sized patties about 1cm thick.  Put them on a baking tray and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Dredge the patties in flour, shaking off excess, and fry for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden-brown.

Make the Burgers:
Split the buns and toast them.  Top the bottom halves of the buns with the patties, then layer with spinach leaves, sour cream, horseradish and dill fronds.  Press the top of the buns on top.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Passionfruit Melting Moments

I made these on the weekend to take to the volleyball and have with coffee while I sat in the stands of a freezing stadium and cheered for my boys.  A girl's got to keep her energy levels (and core body temperature) up, right?

Passionfruit Melting Moments
slightly adapted from here
Makes 8

For the biscuits:
30ml pasionfruit juice (*Put the flesh of about 3 passionfruit into a small blender, pulse briefly just to loosen the flesh from the pips.  Pass through a fine sieve to collect the juice.)
220g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g pure icing sugar (not icing mixture)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g plain flour (I used "00" flour)
75g cornflour  

For the Filling:
60g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
120g pure icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons passionfruit juice (*Collected the same way as above, adding a few of the pips back into the mixture for visual effect.)

Make the Biscuits:
Preheat the oven to 140C.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put the passionfruit juice, butter, icing sugar and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape son the sides of the bowl and add the flour and corn flour.  Mix on low speed until just incorporated and a smooth dough has formed.

Divide the dough into 16 even portions (about 40g each), roll into balls and places them on the prepared baking trays, making sure they have enough space to spread during baking.  Dip the tines of a fork into flour and press lightly on top of each ball to flatten slightly and leave an imprint.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pans and bake for a further 15 minutes.  Gently transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Filling:
Put all the filling ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until smooth.

Spread the filling on the underside of half of the biscuits, then sandwich them together with the remaining biscuits.

Friday, 10 June 2016

No-Knead Spelt and Pumpkin Bread

I really shouldn't be left at home alone with a fresh loaf of bread. I can do some serious damage with a solitary afternoon and a pat of butter. I baked this loaf off while the boys were at school and my husband was at work. I took it out of the oven in the early afternoon and had the rest of the day to slice and scoff. I only stopped when the kids got home and saw me standing at the kitchen counter, butter knife in hand, crumbs around my mouth and asked if I was okay. Okay? I was in heaven.

NOTE: Begin this recipe a day ahead.

No-Knead Spelt and Pumpkin Bread
slightly adapted from here

600g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
10g dried yeast
750g spelt flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
250ml water
100g semolina

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Line a rimmed baking tray with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put the pumpkin pieces into a bowl, add the fennel seeds and oil and toss to coated the pumpkin.  Tip the contents of the bowl onto the prepared baking tray and spread the pumpkin evenly out.  Add 125ml of water to the tray, cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 220C and roast for a further 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is starting to caramelise. Remove from the oven, mash with a fork and set aside to cool completely.

Put the cooled, mashed pumpkin into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and add the yeast, flour, salt and water.  Mix on low until the mixture comes together to form a smooth dough, it should only take a few minutes.  Scrape the dough into a lightly oil bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Switch the oven on to 220C and pop large Dutch oven in to preheat it.

Sprinkle work surface with half the semolina and turn the dough out onto it.  Flatten the dough out slightly, then shape it into a ball.

Get a large piece of baking paper, put the ball of dough on top and carefully put it into the hot Dutch oven, using the sides of the paper to lower it into the pot.  Sprinkle the remaining semolina over the top of the dough, cut three deep slashes into it, place the lid on and bake for 1 hour.  Remove the lid, lower the temperature to 200C and bake for a further 15 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pan before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Lamb Shanks Braised with Beer, Honey and Oregano

Winter definitely has it's perks.

Lamb Shanks Braised with Beer, Honey and Oregano
adapted from here
Serves 4

4 frenched lamb shanks
4 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1/12 teaspoon ground allspice
1 brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 fresh bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
375ml (1 stubby) dark ale
200ml beef stock

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Drizzle the shanks with 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Season well with salt and pepper and rub them with the allspice. 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Brown the shanks in the pan, being careful not to burn the spices.

Remove the shanks from the pan and add the remaining oil.  Turn the heat down to low and add the onion, carrot, garlic and oregano.  Fry the vegetables for 15 minutes, stirring now and then.  Return the shanks to the pan, add the bay leaves, honey, beer and stock.  Turn the heat up to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

Make a cartouche by cutting a circle of baking paper big enough to fit into the Dutch oven.  Screw it into a ball, run it under a tap, squeeze out the excess water, flatten it out and place it directly on top of the meat.  Place the lid on the pan and cook in the oven to 3 hours.  The meat will fall off the bones and the liquid will have reduced. 

Serve with soft, cheesy polenta or mac 'n cheese or mashed potatoes or buttered noodles... and a bright, fresh salad.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Old Fashioned Jam Doughnuts

If this isn't a fabulous way to start the week, I don't know what is.   

NOTE: Stuff these divine, sugary puffs into your doughnut-hole (aka mouth) while still hot-ish.  It is mandatory for the hot jam to sear your chin as it bursts out.  It's a rite of passage.

Old Fashioned Jam Doughnuts
slightly adapted from here
Makes 14 - 16

400g plain flour
10g dried yeast
50g caster sugar
150ml lukewarm milk
80ml pouring cream
50g unsalted butter, grated
1 egg, beaten
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch fine sea salt
Sunflower oil, for deep frying
1 cup of your favourite jam (I used homemade marionberry jam)
100g vanilla sugar, for dusting

Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, yeast and sugar.  Add the milk, cream, butter, egg, cinnamon and salt and mix on low speed until a smooth dough has formed.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Roll it out to about 1cm thickness, then use a 6cm round cookie cutter to cut circles.  Place the circles on the prepared tray and leave to proof for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan (I use a wok), to 175C.  Deep fry the doughnuts in batches, turning them over as they become golden and puffed.  They should cook in about 3 - 4 minutes.  Drain them on a wire rack set over a baking tray to catch any drips.  Roll them in the vanilla sugar while they are still hot, then use a skewer to stab a hole in the side of each doughnut and pipe the jam into the centre.  

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Almond and Pear Cake

I didn't set out to blog this cake, hence no process photos.  It was just a cake I threw together between my strength and conditioning session at the gym and school pick-up, but it was so good.  Too good not to share as it turns out.

Almond and Pear Cake
adapted from here

For the Cake:
220g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
310g self-raising flour, sifted
50ml whole milk
250g plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon Amaretto
450 pears, peeled and chopped
50g flaked almonds

To Serve:
125ml cup whipping cream
125ml plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 170C.  Grease and line the base of a 23cm round springform cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stop the mixer and add half the flour, then the milk and half the yoghurt.  Mix on low speed for 1 minute.  Add the remaining flour and yoghurt with the Amaretto and mix until just combined.  Gently fold the pears into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the top with flaked almonds.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before releasing the sides.  

To Serve:
Whip the cream and yoghurt together until floppy.  

Serve slices of cake with generous dollops of yoghurt-cream.