Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Cacao Nib Muffins with Dark Chocolate Glaze

I looked up "cocoa nibs" and it said "cacao nibs".  I looked up "cacao nibs" and it said "cocoa nibs".
I'm so confused.  I guess I'll just have to have another cup of coffee, eat another muffin and study some more.

Cacao Nib Muffins with Dark Chocolate Glaze
slightly adapted from here
Makes 12

For the Muffins:
90g (3/4 cup) plain flour
40g (1/4 cup) polenta (cornmeal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
45g (1/4 cup) cacao nibs
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
130g (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) caster sugar
100ml (7 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
70g (5 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vermouth
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes

For the Glaze:
80ml (1/3 cup) thickened cream
60g (1/3 cup) dark chocolate, chopped
Cacao nibs for sprinkling

Make the Muffins:
Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).  Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper liners.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, polenta, baking powder and cacao nibs in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg, egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until you reach the ribbon stage (where the batter falls from the beater in ribbons which slowly dissolve on the surface). 

In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, butter, vermouth, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt together until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, add the oil mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just incorporated. Stop the mixer and tip the dry ingredients in.  Mix on low speed until just combined. 

Transfer the batter to a large jug. This is a very wet batter so it's easier to pour the batter into the paper liners, rather than trying to spoon it in. Pour the batter into the liners, filling them almost all the way to the top.  

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top springs back to the touch.  Leave the muffins to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the the Glaze:
Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium until until it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Leave to stand for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.

Pour the glaze over the cooled muffins and sprinkle with cacao nibs.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

In My Kitchen - September 2015

Here's what's happening in my kitchen at the moment...

Dark Coconut Toffee Organic Chocolate:
If you hang out with me long enough (like for say, 5 minutes), you'll soon realise that I like chocolate. Whenever I see a new flavour, brand, variety, size or shape, I must try it.  I have a whole pantry shelf dedicated to chocolate.  Willy Wonka's got nothing on me. Oh, and check out the fine print - butter and sea salt, CRUNCHY AND TOASTED. They didn't need to convince me, but I'm glad they did.

Capi Ginger Beer:
My sons cooked dinner last night.  When it's their turn to cook, they trawl through cookbooks and magazines with the freedom of knowing they can choose whatever they like to cook and eat.  (Last night they cooked Piri Piri Pork Fillet with Apple Slaw.)  When they cook, it usually means a quick trip to the store. (Because they inevitably choose something I don't already have in the house - and if you saw my pantry and fridge you'd wonder how they managed it, but they do.)  On our shopping trip, they found this ginger beer. (They don't get soft drink very often, so ginger beer is a treat) and asked if they could try it.  According to the Dan Murphy's website, "Capi Ginger Beer is a blend of fresh Australian ginger juice, lemon essential oils, chilli and capsicum extract.  The up-front aromas immediately reveal the fresh ginger, while the lemon essential oils ensures a perfectly balanced flavour profile.  Finally, the chilli and capsicum extracts provide the perfect amount of spice kick on the back palate."  The boys gave it a big thumbs up (the grown-ups drank gin mojitos). I did have a sip, and it was really refreshing. Might have to find a cocktail to test it on.

Cacao Nibs:
These crunchy little nuggets have been making an appearance on my granola and porridge at breakfast time lately. They were sprinkled in and on some Cacao Nib Muffins with Dark Chocolate Glaze earlier today.  They are chocolaty, without being sweet. Which is pretty sweet when you want a punch of cacao in the face without the sugar high. Which, if you're anything like me, is pretty often.

Tomatoes in Cans and Bottles:

Fresh tomatoes at this time of year suck.  I've used up all my homegrown preserved tomatoes, so I headed to the fabulous local Italian delicatessen and stocked up on all manner of canned and bottled toms.  I can make pasta sauce to my hearts content until the fresh ones start appearing in my garden.  (I'll tell you a secret.  I'm just a little bit in love with the packaging. I like to open my pantry and gaze at my stash. Does that make me weird?)

Colavita Black Olive Tapenade:
My eldest son is mad for olives and he loves this stuff.  It's so quick and easy to slap on some crackers for an after school snack. And seriously, finding healthy snacks is a full time job.

Mr Pitta Traditional Pitta:
I usually make my own pitta (recipe here), but on days when I run out of time/energy, I turn to Mr Pitta.  It's the second best pitta around. All my Greek friends tell me so.

Honey and Co.: The Baking Book by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich:

I'm a sucker for a good baking cookbook, I will not lie, and this is a good one.  Check out my slightly adapted versions of their Pistachio, Rose and Strawberry Buns and Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Sandwich Cookies with Tahini Cream if you don't believe me.

Anyway, that's my kitchen for now.

Pop on over and check out the links to bloggers’ kitchens around the world at In My Kitchen on 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Pistachio, Rose and Strawberry Buns

A breakfast of golden buns filled with pale green pistachio butter and perfumed with rose water has got to put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. It won't matter if the guy at the grocery store is rude to you, or somebody cuts you off in traffic, or you stub your toe on the furniture, you are going to float through the day ahead on an invisible magic carpet after eating one of these perfect little pillows and sipping a glass of mint tea... Promise.

NOTE: Begin this recipe a day ahead.

Pistachio, Rose and Strawberry Buns
sightly adapted from here
Makes 8

For the Dough:
70g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
20g fresh yeast (or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast)
1 egg
30g caster sugar
100ml buttermilk
300g baker's flour
Pinch of salt

For the Pistachio Butter:
80g pistachios
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
80g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon plain flour

For the Rose Syrup:
100g caster sugar
100ml water
1 tablespoon rose water

8 teaspoons strawberry jam

Make the Dough:
Put all the dough ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low for about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Make the Pistachio Butter:
Put the pistachios in a small food processor and blitzed until they are a fine meal. Add the butter, sugar, egg and flour and process until they form a thick paste. Set aside,

Make the Rose Syrup:
Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Boil briefly, just until the sugar dissolves and set a side to cool. Once cool, add the rose water. Set aside.

Make the Buns:
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it our into a 40cm x 20cm rectangle. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough in half lengthways, then in quarters across the width. You should end up with eight 10cm x 10cm squares.

Grease 8 cups of a muffin tin and line them with a square of dough, pushing the dough down firmly into the edges and leaving the corners of the dough overhanging. Fill each with the pistachio butter and dollop a teaspoonful of strawberry jam on top of each one. Fold the corners over the filling. Put them back in the refrigerator to proof overnight.

The next morning, take the buns out of the refrigerator and leave them to come to room temperature (30 - 40 minutes). Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 180C and turn the pan around. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush generously with the rose syrup. Allow to cool in the pan slightly before serving.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Mega Chicken Salad Sandwich with Homemade Marble Rye, Aioli, Pickled Cucumbers, Schmaltz and Gribenes

Obviously you can buy rye bread, aioli, pickles and even a ready-cooked chicken from a store and make a decent enough sandwich.  But there's a reason this sandwich is mega and it's not just about the size (though it is... generous).  Making your own fillings makes this sandwich a blockbuster. And I don't know about you, but I can't buy a chicken salad sandwich complete with blockbuster essentials like schmaltz and gribenes for love nor money where I live.  So if I want a megastar sandwich, I have to make it myself.

NOTE: Chicken grease = schmaltz.  Golden, crispy, crunchy roasted chicken skin = gribenes. (for the uninitiated)

Mega Chicken Salad Sandwich with Homemade Marble Rye, Aioli, Pickled Cucumbers, Schmaltz and Gribenes

slightly adapted from here
Makes 2 sandwiches

For the Sandwiches:
4 slices of marble rye
2 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
Sea salt flakes
2 spring onions, finely sliced
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

For the Aioli:
2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
125ml grape seed oil
Sea salt flakes

For the Marble Rye:
Recipe here (or use a good bakery rye)

For the Pickled Cucumbers:
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
100ml water
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into very thin strips using a vegetable peeler or mandolin

For the Schmaltz and Gribenes:
Skin from the chicken thighs (above)
Sea salt flakes

Make the Aioli:
Put all the ingredients into a blender (or use a stick blender) and blitz until you have silky, smooth, galicky mayonnaise. If it's a little thick, add a little water to thin it. Check seasoning. Set aside.

Cook the Chicken:
Pull the skin off the thighs and set it aside to make the schmaltz and gribenes (below). Put the skinless thighs into a saucepan, cover with water, add a generous sprinkling of salt and bring to a simmer, but do not boil. Keep on a gentle simmer for 40 minutes, until the chicken to cooked. Drain and set aside to cool.

Once cool, discard the bones and shred the meat. Add the spring onion, lemon juice, parsley and enough aioli to lightly coat the chicken. Season to taste. Set aside.

Make the Pickled Cucumbers:
Mix all the pickle ingredients and set aside to marinate.

Make the Schmaltz and Gribenes:
Preheat your oven to 180C.

Cut the chicken skin (that you pulled from the thighs earlier) into 2cm pieces with a pair of scissors. Lay them on a baking paper lined baking tray, sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven for about 20 -25 minutes, until golden and crisp. Take the tray out of the oven, remove the crispy skin (gribenes) to a plate and pour the grease (schmaltz) into a small bowl.  Set aside.

Make the Sandwiches:
Spread the schmaltz evenly on all four slices of the bread and lightly grill (broil).  Lay 2 slices of the bread on a board. Spoon the chicken mixture evenly on them.  Top with drained pickled cucumbers, and gribenes. Place the remaining slices of bread on top and serve warm... with napkins.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Mega Marble Rye

You are going to need a humongous loaf pan for this monster loaf.  Mine is a 3 litre capacity pan that I bought from a specialist baking store years ago and it was only just big enough. If you don't have a loaf pan that looks like it belongs in the land of the giants, you can shape your loaf and bake it straight on a baking sheet. Either way, you'll feel like you're in an episode of The Flintstones when you put it on the table and start slicing.

Mega Marble Rye
slightly adapted from here

For the Light Layers:
75g (1/2 cup) rye flour
560g (4 1/2 cups) baker's flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons (1 sachet) instant dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
300ml (1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water, plus a little extra if needed
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing

For the Dark Layers:
75g (1/2 cup) rye flour
560g (4 1/2 cups) baker's flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons (1 sachet) instant dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
300ml (1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water, plus a little extra if needed
1 tablespoon black treacle
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
A few drops of brown food colouring (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for glazing

Make the Light Dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the rye flour, baker's flour, salt, yeast and caraway seeds.  Add the water, golden syrup and oil and mix on low speed for about 8 minutes.  Add a little more water if needed.  This should be a smooth, soft dough.  Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to double in size, about 2 hours.

Make the Dark Dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the rye flour, baker's flour, salt, yeast, caraway seeds and cocoa powder.  Add the water, treacle, oil and food colouring of using, and mix on low speed for about 8 minutes.  Add a little more water if needed. This should be a smooth, soft dough.  Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to double in size, about 2 hours.

Shape the Loaf: 
Grease a large loaf pan with olive oil or line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Cut each portion of dough into two even pieces. You should have two light dough balls and two dark dough balls. Shape the portions into balls and put them on two baking paper lined baking sheets. Cover with clean cloths and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Take one of the light dough balls and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface until it is about 1cm thick, shaping it into a rough rectangle as you go. Take one of the dark dough balls and roll it out until it is also a 1cm thick rough rectangle. Lay it on top of the light dough rectangle. Continue rolling and layering the dough until you have four layers of alternate colours.

Roll the dough lengthways until it is a log shape.  Put the log, seam-side down into the prepared pan or baking sheet and cover loosely with a clean cloth. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).  Make three deep slashes in the top of the loaf and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a wire rack to cool completely before brushing the top with melted butter.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Strawberry, Ginger and Honey Pie with Golden Spelt Crust

The end of the working week deserves a slice of pie... or at least I do. Have a delicious weekend guys. x

Strawberry, Ginger and Honey Pie with Golden Spelt Crust
slightly adapted from here

For the Crust:
375g white spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
55g caster sugar
250g cold unsalted butter, diced
60ml apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:
500g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
175g honey (I used Italian orange blossom honey)
110g caster sugar
35g cornflour
2 knobs of stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash
1 tablespoon demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Creme fraiche to serve

Make the Crust:
Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and blitz until it resembles course breadcrumbs. Add the vinegar and 165ml of chilled water and blitz briefly until it comes together into a ball, adding a little more water if necessary. Cut the dough into two even portions and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for an hour.

Roll one portion of dough out to 3mm thick. Line a 22cm shallow pie dish with the dough and chill for 30 minutes. Roll the remaining dough to 3mm thick and use a pizza cutter to cut it into 4cm-wide strips. Place the strips on a baking paper lined tray and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Slip a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Make the Filling:
Put the strawberries, honey, sugar, cornflour and ginger in a bowl and stir to mix. Spoon the filling into the pastry case. Arrange pastry strips in a lattice pattern on top of the filling, pressing the sides and strips together to seal. Trim excess pastry. Brush pastry strips and edges with egg wash and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Put the pie dish on the hot baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180C and bake for a further 30 minutes until the crust is dark golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving with genereous dollops of creme fraiche.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Lahoh Wraps with Bisbas and Zhoug

Run 10ks, come home and eat my weight in Lahoh wraps... Story of my life.

Lahoh is a Yemeni sourdough flat bread.  It's like a sourdough pancake-crumpet hybrid. You need to start the starter 3 days prior to cooking.

NOTE: It's a long list of ingredients and takes some time, but most of the time is spent watching the starter ferment and most of the ingredients are blitzed in a grinder/blender/food processor.

Lahoh Wraps with Bisbas and Zhoug
adapted from here
Makes 6

For the Lahoh:
For the Starter:
1 cup water
1/3 cup wholemeal flour (I used Atta flour)
1/3 cup baker's flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast

For the Dough:
1 cup cornmeal (polenta)
1 cup baker's flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Paste:
1/4 cup baker's flour
1 cup water, plus an extra cup water for the batter

Make the Starter:
Put all the starter ingredients into a bowl and whisk until smooth.  Cover with a lid and leave the lid slightly ajar to let some air in.  Leave the starter to ferment for three days.  On the first day, it will be bubbly.  After the second day, a brownish liquid will form on the surface.  By the third day, the mixture will smell slightly beer-y.

Make the Dough:
Put the starter, cornmeal, flour and salt into a bowl and mix with your hands until it comes together.  Add more water if needed.  Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and smooth.  Put it into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave to rise for 40 minutes.

Make the Paste:
Put the flour into a small saucepan.  Gradually whisk in the water.  Put the pan on medium heat and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and forms a thick paste.  Remove from the heat.

Make the Batter:
Put the dough into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the paste and 1 cup of warm water and mix on low speed until combined. The batter should be thin, like crepe batter. Add more water if needed to get it to the right consistency. Pour the batter into a large jug and cover with plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface,

Cook the Lahoh:
Put a pizza stone in a cast iron pan (or use a heavy based frying pan) and heat over high heat.  Lightly oil the stone or pan with cooking oil spray and pour the batter to form a 22cm circle, using a swirling action and starting from the outside.  Cook the lahoh for about 5 minutes, until the underside is golden and the top is dry and covered in tiny bubbles.  This bread is only cooked on one side. Remove from the heat and lay on a clean kitchen towel to cool.  Continue with the remaining batter.

For the Bisbas:
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
6 dried small red chillies
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric

Make the Bisbas:
Preheat the oven to 150C.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside.

Put all the ingredients into a spice grinder or blender.  Grind until fine.  Spread the spice mix out onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 -20 minutes, until dry.

Put it back into the spice grinder or blender and blitz to a powder.  Spoon into a bowl. Set aside.

For the Zhoug:
slightly adapted from here
1 big bunch coriander
1 big bunch parsley
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
100ml olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
50ml water

Make the Zhoug:
Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Set aside

To Serve:
Greek yoghurt sprinkled with sumac
A tomato salad of halved cherry tomatoes and sliced red onions spritzed with lemon juice, lemon zest and sprinkled with sea salt flakes
200g feta, crumbled
Lemon wedges

Lay your lahoh on a plate. Spread a generous amount of zhoug down the centre. Top with tomato salad, crumbled feta, dollops of yoghurt and a good sprinkling of bisbas. Fold and apply to face.