Thursday, 25 June 2015

Shortbread Bites with Passionfruit Glaze




Thursdays are eating coconut bread for breakfast and reading magazine days.  They are 9.30am Step Class and drinking coffee with my gym friends days. They are sourdough starter-feeding and re-organising the pantry days. They are market shopping and then trying to stuff my purchases into an already over-stuffed refrigerator days. They are quiet afternoons and well-earned coffee break days. They are late dinners and Netflix days. They are wouldn't have it any other way days.

Shortbread Bites with Passionfruit Glaze
slightly adapted from here
Makes 20

For the Shortbread:
250g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour, sifted
A good pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup custard powder

For the Glaze:
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 passionfruit
1 teaspoon boiling water

Make the Shortbread:
Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until pale. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, salt and custard powder. Mix until combined.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it briefly until it comes together into a smooth ball. Roll it out to 3cm thick, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 15 minutes.

Put the rested dough onto a lightly floured work surface and use a 3.5cm cutter (either round or square) and cut the dough into small cookies. Gather up the remaining dough, roll it out to 3cm thick and cut more cookies until all the dough is used. Place the cookies on the prepared trays and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150C fan-forced.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until light golden and firm to the touch. Leave on the trays to cool completely.

Make the Glaze:
Put all the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan. Heat gently over low heat until warm and runny. Spoon the warm glaze over the cooled shortbreads. Allow to set before serving... or not.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Radiatori with Roasted Pepper Pesto



When you go to the market and pick up a bag of peppers in midwinter for the price you'd normally pay in midsummer, you know the sun gods are looking after you and that roasted pepper pesto will soon be on the menu. I'll be eating this plate of sunshine with my beanie and mittens on under the grey, winter sky. We can't expect too much of the sun gods in June, can we?

NOTE: You will only need about a cup of the pesto to dress the pasta, which means you will have about a cup leftover. Use leftover pesto with roast chicken or to drizzle on croutons and add to a salad.

Radiatori with Roasted Pepper Pesto
pesto slightly adapted from here
Serves 4

6 large peppers (I used a mix of red and yellow)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup roasted natural almonds
1/4 cup coriander leaves or basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g Radiatori (or another short, ridged or textured pasta)
Freshly grated parmesan for sprinkling
Zest and juice of 1emon

Preheat the oven to 240C. Line a baking tray with foil. Lay the pepper on the tray and roast for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the skins blacken and blister. Remove them from the tray and put them into a heat-proof bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to sweat for 20 minutes. This will make the skins easier to remove.  Once cool, peel the skins away and discard the stems and seeds. Set aside.

Warm the oil in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and the paprika and smoked paprika. Allow them to sizzle for a few second, then remove them from the heal and let them cool slightly.

Put the cooled oil mixture, roasted peppers, almonds, coriander or basil into a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Blitz until smooth. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.

Cook the radiatori according to packet instructions. Heat a cup of the pesto in a saucepan over medium heat until warm. Drain the pasta and immediately spoon the pesto over and toss to coat it evenly. Tip the pasta out onto a serving patter, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and finely grated zest of a lemon. Finish with a grinding of pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Dried Blueberry and Pecan Brownies


Workout for an hour, then come home and eat a brownie. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Dried Blueberry and Pecan Brownies
adapted from here
Makes 12

250g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100g dried blueberries
100g pecans, chopped
80g cocoa powder
65g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
350g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt flakes
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 30cm x 20cm brownie pan with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the butter and chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don't let the bowl touch the water. Melt the butter and chocolate until it is smooth. Remove from the heat. Add the dried blueberries and chopped pecans and stir.

In a separate bowl, sift the cocoa, flour, baking powder and sugar together. Add the salt and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Add the eggs and beat with a spatula until they are fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. The brownies are done when the edges are springy and the centre still has a little bit of goo. Leave to cool completely in the pan before slicing. Slice into 12 portions and dust with icing sugar.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Apple Bran Muffins




I love a breakfast muffin that can double as afternoon tea.

Apple Bran Muffins
slightly adapted from here
Makes 12

315ml (1 1/3cups) buttermilk
1 egg
80ml ( 1/3 cup) sunflower oil
50g (1/4 cup) lightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
90g ( 1 1/2 cups) wheat bran
125g (1 cup) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
2 red apples, peeled and grated
Sunflower seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 210C (425F). Spray a 12-hole muffin pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, oil, brown sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Using a spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix.

Spoon two tablespoons of batter (1 small ice cream scoop) into each muffin cup. Divide the grated apple among the cups, spooning some on top of the batter. Sprinkle a little of the Demerara sugar onto the apple and then spoon the remaining batter evenly among the muffins, on top of the apple, covering the fruit. Some of my muffins still had fruit exposed which I quite like. Sprinkle each with sunflower seeds and a little more of the Demerara sugar.

Bake for 16 - 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Leave the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning them out.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Boursin Buns




Make these buns and then find some gravy - from a roast chicken or your Bolognese - and get right in there and mop up like a boss.

Boursin Buns
Makes 8

500g baker's flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 sachet dry yeast
300ml milk
40g unsalted butter, plus extra melted butter to grease the baking dish and brush the tops of the rolls
1 egg
2 x 80 packets of Boursin, at room temperature

Put the milk and butter into a small saucepan and heat until the butter in nearly melted and the milk is lukewarm. Set aside.

Put the flour and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix briefly on low speed to combine. Pour the yeast and the milk mixture into the flour, add the egg and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until it is smooth and silky. Put it into a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in a warm spot for about an hour, until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 30cm x 20cm rectangle. Spread the Boursin evenly over the dough. Roll into a tight cylinder from one of the long edges. Cut into 8 even portions.

Butter a deep baking dish and lay the rolls, cut side up, side by side. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot to get puffy for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until golden. Brush the hot buns with butter. Allow the buns to cool in the dish for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Best served warm.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Salted Caramel Cupcakes



There comes a time with house renovations, when the builders and tradies have gone. When the gaping holes in your walls are healed up and no longer letting in the alpine weather. When you can go to the bathroom without fear of a tradesman wanting your opinion on deck oil or door handles. Where you can walk through your front door and not climb an Everest of builders rubble to do it. Where you have vacuumed and scrubbed every surface free of the dust and debris that sanding and sawing has kicked up and the builders (bless their cotton socks) have walked in. When you can finally sit back with a cup of coffee and a cupcake and admire your altered abode. That moment came at about 3 o'clock this afternoon.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Makes 12

For the Cupcakes:
190g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
140g (1 cup) dark muscovado sugar
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
115 unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125ml(1/2 cup) buttermilk

For the Frosting:
225g (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
75g (2 1/2 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
 125g (1 cup) icing sugar
2 tablespoons dulce de leche, plus extra for drizzling. *See note
Sea salt flakes for sprinkling

*NOTE: If the dulce de leche is a little thick for drizzling, just add a little warm water to get it to drizzly consistency)
I used some of my homemade cajeta. Recipe for cajeta here.

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 180C (350C). Line a 12-hole cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both the muscovado and caster sugars with he butter n medium speed for about 5 minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Mix until just incorporated, then add another third of the dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk, mixing until just combined. Finally, add the last of the dry ingredients and mix just enough to incorporate it.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 22-24 minutes.

Make the Frosting:
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all the ingredients until fluffy. Refrigerate it until it is a spreadable consistency.

Dollop about a tablespoon of the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes and spread it evenly to the edges to cover the tops completely.

Put the dulce de leche into a disposable piping bag, snip a small hole in the tip and drizzle it over the cupcakes. Sprinkle with a tiny amount of sea salt flakes.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Good Ol' Pumpkin Scones



I must have been about 8 years old when I was first let loose in the kitchen. Of course, I had "played" at baking before then. I had often been the recipient of Mum's pastry offcuts. Cutting them into unidentifiable shapes, smudging them with copious amounts of sweet jam and baking them along side my Mum's pies. My poor Dad eating my tough and messy "pies" as I had over-worked the dough to the nth degree and smeared jam from here to eternity. But as I gained confidence with Mum's patient guidance, I progressed to more "sophisticated" projects like pumpkin scones. I think they were one of the first things I ever baked on my own. They were to become a family favourite and my "specialty". You see, pumpkin scones are a very "Aussie" thing, and my parents aren't Australian, so my Mum left the baking of them to me. I'm pretty sure my early attempts were a bit like my "jam pies" - tough and rubbery. I think my baking skills have improved a bit since then.

Good Ol' Pumpkin Scones
Makes 12
adapted from here

400g butternut pumpkin, skin on and cut into 2cm wedges
2 cup self raising four
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pure icing sugar
40g unsalted butter, softened