Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Charred Baby Zucchini with Broad Bean Miso

I made this delicious plate of food ages ago and only just realised that I didn't write a blog post for it. I stumbled across the photos as I was cleaning up my photo catalogs.  And by cleaning up my photo catalogs, I mean attempting to sort through thousands of poorly sorted images and getting distracted by the ghost of meals past.  It's a bit like when you get the old family albums out and go searching for that particular photo of you around age 3 with your big brother in the backyard swimming pool, and find yourself five hours later amid piles of old family photos with tears of nostalgia in your eyes... kinda like Sparky in the attic in Christmas Vacation.

Charred Baby Zucchini with Broad Bean Miso
adapted from here
Serves 4

250g double-podded broad beans
30g baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
8 baby (or small) zucchinis (with blossoms attached if possible), halved lengthways
30g pistachios, crushed
Dill fronds, for garnish

Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the broad beans and spinach for about 30 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into iced water to stop them cooking.  Drain well.  Reserve 50g of the broad bean set them aside.

Put the remaning beans and the spinach into a food processor along with the miso and 1 tablespoon of the oil and blitz until smooth.  Add a splash of water to loosen the puree if needed.  Season to taste.

Pour the remaining oil over the zucchini.  Heat a grill pan over high heat and grill the zucchinis until they are tender and charred.

Spread the broad bean miso over the base of a serving plate.  Top with charred zucchinis and their flowers and sprinkle over the reserved broad beans. Scatter with pistachios and dill fronds and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Doughnuts with White Chocolate and Peppermint Glaze

I don't need any excuse to eat doughnuts.  I will happily eat them for breakfast or dessert.  I'm really not fussy about what end of the day I get them, as long as they are fresh out of the fryer and dipped, dusted, dunked or drizzled in something sweet and decadent. I'm not hard to please... really I'm not.

Doughnuts with White Chocolate and Peppermint Glaze
Makes 12-14 (plus holes)
slightly adapted from here

For the Doughnuts:
2½ teaspoon dried yeast
60ml lukewarm full cream milk
110g caster sugar
485g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
250ml buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
40g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Sunflower oil for deep frying

For the Glaze:
80ml cream
100g white chocolate, chopped
240g pure icing sugar, sifted
2 drops green food colouring
4 drops peppermint extract (or to taste)

Make the Doughnuts:
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, milk and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and set aside for 10 minutes to become foamy.  Add the flour and remaining sugar, along with the buttermilk, egg and butter and mix on low for 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap.  Set aside in a warm spot for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to 5mm thick and use a doughnut cutter (Or two cookie cutters measuring 9cm for the doughnut and 3.5cm for the hole) to cut the dough.  Place the doughnuts and holes onto the prepared baking sheet.  Lightly cover with greased plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes to become puffy.

I use a wok to deep fry my doughnuts, but any deep sided pan will do.  Half fill your pan with the oil and heat it to 170°C.  Fry the doughnuts in batches, 2 minutes per side, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool them on a wire rack set over a baking tray. Let them become completely cool before glazing.

Make the Glaze:
Put the cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.  Add the chocolate and stir to combine.  The chocolate will melt in the heat of the cream.  Once the chocolate has melted add the icing sugar, stir to combine and add the food colouring and peppermint extract to taste.  Pour the warm glaze over the doughnuts, letting the excess drip down and onto the baking tray underneath.  The glaze will set within minutes.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Danish Pastries

I love pastry.  I love the thought of pastry.  I love making pastry.  I love the feel of pastry.  I love working with pastry.  I love the smell of pastry.  I love seeing pastry separate into flaky layers and become golden brown on baking.  I love watching people eat the pastry I have made.  I love photographing pastry.  I love eating pastry... which is probably the reason I love all that comes before. I think I'm 80% pastry... the other 20% is pure butter.

NOTE: I made 3 jam filled pastries and 3 Nutella filled pastries.  I made the Nutella ones for my boys who are Nutella-mad and to find out if they worked.  They really did work, but the jam-filled ones are, and always will be, my favourite.

Danish Pastries
slightly adapted from here
Makes 6 (*see below)

For the Pastry:
60ml lukewarm water
125ml milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
350g baker's flour (bread flour)
7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
25g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, cold cut into small dice

For the Filling:
Any jam or spread of your choice.  I used homemade blackberry jam and Nutella.

For the Egg Wash:
1 egg
2 tablespoon milk

For the Clear Glaze:
100g caster sugar
60ml water

For the Sugar Glaze:
100g icing sugar
1 - 2 tabelspoons warm water

Chocolate Drizzle:
50g dark chocolate, melted

Make the Dough:
Put the water, milk and egg into a bowl, mix and set it aside.

Put the flour, yeast, salt and sugar into a food processor and blitz to mix.  Add the butter and process until it becomes a rubble (you don't want it to be completely fine).

Tip the flour mixture into a mixing bowl, add the wet mixture and fold together until it becomes a sticky dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator and leave it to come to room temperature.  On a lightly floured board, roll it into a square about 50cm x 50cm.  Fold the square into thirds, like a business letter, turn it 90° so that the closed edge is on your left.  Roll it out again to a 50cm square, repeating the steps above three times.

*At this point you can cut the pastry in half and use one half for making the Danish Pastries below and freeze the other half for a day when you desperately need would like Danish pastries for breakfast, but can't be bothered with the whole pastry making palaver.

Make the Egg Wash:
Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Make the Clear Glaze:
Put the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan.  Bring to boil and remove from heat once the sugar has dissolved.  Set aside.

For the Sugar Glaze:
Mix the icing sugar with enough warm water to make a drizzling consistency.  Set aside.

Make the Pastries:
Take said half of pastry (**see above) and roll it out to a big rectangle.  Cut it into 6 even squares. Fold opposing corners of each pastry square into the middle using a bit of the egg wash to seal them down and place them on a baking paper lined baking tray.

Dollop a tablespoonful of your chosen jam or spread into the middle of each square and brush the pastry with egg wash.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Brush with the clear glaze and leave to cool completely before drizzling with the sugar glaze (or chocolate drizzle).

Friday, 17 March 2017

Muddy Mud Cake

Friday nights are perfect for predinner drinks, casual meals, loud music, art house movies, cold beers, football on TV, box sets, yoga pants, good books, comfy sofas, card games and chocolate cake... You can probably tell I'm not 20 something and single.

Muddy Mud Cake
adapted from here

300g dark chocolate, chopped and divided
200g unsalted butter, chopped
¼ cup espresso
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup golden caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 160ºC.  Grease and line the base and sides of a deep, 20cm springform cake pan. Set aside.

Place 200g of the chocolate, in a heatproof bowl and add the butter, espresso and cocoa powder.  Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, don't let the bowl touch the water, and heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Add the vanilla, sugar and eggs and whisk.  

Sift the flour over the chocolate mixture and mix until just combined.

Pour half the of the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Sprinkle with the remaining chopped chocolate and pour the second half of the batter over the top.

Bake for 55 - 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.  Leave to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Serve with generous dollops of softly whipped cream.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017