Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cheesy Chicken and Leek Hot Dogs

I just found out that it's Hamburger Day some where in the world. Why did I not know that until this late in the day? Oh well, I guess I'll just have to have my own Hamburger Day on the weekend to make up for it and hope the hamburger gods will forgive me. Meanwhile, Hot Dogs.

Cheesy Chicken and Leek Hot Dogs
slightly adapted from here
Makes 4

For the Cheesy Sauce:
40g (1 tablespoon) butter
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 onion, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
60ml (1/4 cup) pale ale
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon mustard powder
180ml (3/4 cup) milk
185g (1 1/2 cups) grated Gruyere cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Dogs:
Sunflower oil for frying
4 chicken sausages
4 hot dog rolls

Make the Sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Add the leek, onion, garlic and thyme and cook for about 8 - 10 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the beer and cook until the liquid has almost disappeared. Add the flour and mustard powder and cook, whisking, for about 1 minute. Gradually add the milk and cook, whisking, until combined. Bring to simmering point and continue to cook for another 2 - 3 minutes until thickened. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted, remove from the heat and set aside.

Cook the Dogs:
Put a large frying pan over medium heat and pour about 2 teaspoons of oil on to heat up. Once hot, cook the sausages gently until golden and cooked through, this should take about 10 - 15 minutes. Cooking sausages gently keeps them moist and makes them deliciously sticky.

Heat the grill (broiler) to medium and line a shallow baking tray with foil.

Slice the rolls down the middle, stuff each one with a sausage and dollop and smear each with a generous helping of cheesy sauce. Cook under the grill (broiler) for 3 - 4 minutes, until the sauce is golden and bubbling.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Chocolate Bourbon Cream Pie





I'm not much of a drinker. I like a beer on a hot day or a margarita with my taco, but most of the time I'm happy to stick to a glass of wine with a meal and that's pretty much that. That, however, doesn't stop me from buying pretty bottle after pretty bottle of liqueurs and spirits, mainly for looking at and sometimes for cooking/baking with. Any way, it's good manners to have a well stocked bar... for visitors and guests... and you never know when the urge for a Chocolate Bourbon Cream Pie might hit you.

NOTE: Having said all that, if you prefer your chocolate cream pie without bourbon, you can use 80ml (1/3 cup) strongly brewed coffee instead.

Chocolate Bourbon Cream Pie
slightly adapted from here

For the Base:
350g Chocolate Ripple Biscuits (or plain chocolate cookies), blitzed in a food processor until you have fine crumbs
120g unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
410ml (1 2/3 cups) full cream milk
250ml (1 cup) pouring cream
200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
200g milk chocolate, chopped
60g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
35g (1/4 cup) cornflour
80ml (1/3 cup) bourbon (or 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled)
4 egg yolks

For the Topping:
500ml (2 cups) whipping cream
120g (1/2 cup) sour cream
Cocoa powder for dusting

Make the Base:
Put the blitzed biscuits into a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Press the mixture into the base and sides of a 1.5 litre capacity ceramic pie dish. Set aside in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Make the Filling:
Pour the milk, cream and both chocolate into a medium pan and heat over medium heat until melted. Bring to the boil, stirring. Remove from the heat while you prep the rest of the filling ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk the brown and caster sugars, cornflour, bourbon and egg yolks together until combined. Whisk in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Transfer to a clean pan and place over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Continue whisking for 1 -  2 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Set aside to cool slightly.

Pour the chocolate custard into the cooled pie base. Leave to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, until set and cold.

Make the Topping:
Place the cream and sour cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until firm peaks form. Pile it on top of the cooled pie and dust liberally with cocoa powder.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Sourdough Potato and Rosemary Focaccia

Whoever thought of putting mashed potato in bread had the key to my heart.

Sourdough Potato and Rosemary Focaccia
slightly adapted from here

240g active starter
590g baker's flour
300g water
200g mashed potato
10g fine sea salt (less if your mashed potato is already seasoned)
10g honey
30g olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped
Sea salt flakes for sprinkling

In the evening before baking, mix the starter, flour and water together in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the mashed potato, salt, honey and oil together, then add it to the starter mixture. Get your hands in and squelch the mixture together until it becomes a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until you have a  smooth, slightly sticky dough. Put the dough back into the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

The next morning, line a baking large tray with baking paper.  Pour some olive oil into the palms of your hands and press the dough out to about 2 cm thick. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250C.

Oil your hands with olive oil again and push your fingertips into the dough to create little indentations, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt flakes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 230C, slide the baking tray in and bake for about 25 - 30 mintues, until deliciously golden and cooked through.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Snickerdoodle Macarons



I will not lie, macarons can be a little bit technical to make. I have spent hours reading about and baking macarons and have come to the conclusion that you have to find your own groove when it comes to these little pretties. You can take all the tips, scientific data, intuition etc., put them in a bowl, mash and smear them together, pipe them onto baking sheets, wait for a skin to form, bake them at just the right temperature and you still won't be absolutely positive that you've nailed your macarons until they come out of the oven. Macaron baking is a bit of a black art. It can be fun and frustrating. But at the end of it all, even if your macarons crack or spread, they'll still be delicious with a dollop of buttercream. Because everything is better with buttercream.

Snickerdoodle Macarons
adapted from here
Makes about 30

For the Macarons:
115g ground almonds
230g icing sugar
140g egg whites (about 3 large egg whites)
70g caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt

For the Buttercream:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling

Make the Macarons:
Trace 3.5 cm circles onto two sheets of baking paper. Turn the baking paper over so that the ink is on the back and line 2 large baking sheets with the baking paper. Set aside.

Sift the ground almonds, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl. Set aside

Put the egg whites and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium for about 5 minutes, then on high for another 5 minutes. You will have a stiff merengue.

Add the flour mixture to the meringue and begin to mash and smear them against the sides of the bowl. You don't have to be careful here, the point is to deflate the egg whites. After about 40 folds, you should have a mixture that is the consistency of molten lava - slow flowing. Start checking your mixture at 30 folds and go easy from there. If you over mix, you will have a batter that is runny. If you under mix, you will have a batter that is stiff. Both with be difficult to pipe. You are looking for a batter that, when dropped from a spoonful back into the batter, it disappears back into the rest of the batter in about 20 seconds.

Spoon the batter into a large disposable piping bag and snip a 5mm hole in the tip. Pipe the mixture onto the baking paper, using the circles as a guide. Pipe until the circles are almost full as the mixture will spread a little on sitting.

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Rap the baking sheet against the counter a couple of times. This will get rid of any air bubbles. Leave them uncovered and at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow the macarons to form a skin on the surface. They should feel dry when very carefully touched.

Bake, on tray at a time for 16 - 18 minutes, or until you are able to easy peel the macaron from the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Make the Buttercream:
Put the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat (slowly at first), until fluffy. Add the cream, vanilla seeds and cinnamon and beat for 2 - 3 minutes until whipped.

Spoon the buttercream into a disposable piping bag and snip a 5mm hole in the tip. Pipe onto the bottom sides of half of the macarons and top with the other macarons, sandwiching the filling between them. Sprinkle with cinnamon.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Little Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaves


I love it when you get to eat a whole loaf to yourself.

Little Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaves
adapted from here
Makes 8

1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or a teaspoon of instant espresso coffee granules dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water and cooled)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 egg whites
140g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped hazelnuts, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray a mini loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside.

Put the ground hazelnuts, icing sugar, flour, cocoa powder, coffee and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the egg whites and stir until they are fully incorporated.

Add the butter and stir until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.

Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Roast Pork Loin with Brown Sugar Chipotle Sauce


Crispy, crunchy, juicy, salty, smoky, sweet...  Let me go on... like I blister in the sun.

Roast Pork Loin with Brown Sugar Chipotle Sauce
adapted from here
Serves 4

1kg pork loin, skin on
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup treacle
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons onion salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 cup malt vinegar
2 or 3 dried chipotle chillies (depending on taste), chopped
Sea salt flakes
olive oil

Pat the pork loin dry with kitchen paper. Score deep cuts into the skin 5mm apart. Make sure you don't go all the way down into the flesh. I use a stanley knife for this. Rub a tablespoon of sea salt flakes over the skin and into the cuts.

Put the sugar, treacle, garlic, onion salt, cumin, coriander, vinegar and chillies into a deep roasting pan and mix to combine. Place the pork, skin-side up, into the roasting pan and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Take the pork out of the marinade and pat the skin dry, removing the salt and any moisture. Rub some olive oil over the skin and sprinkle with some more sea salt flakes. Place the pork, skin-side up, back into the marinade and roast  for about 40 minutes, or until done to your liking.

Heat the grill (broiler) to high.

Put a layer of foil onto a shallow baking tray and place the pork, skin-side up, onto it. Grill until the skin is blistered and crispy.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade and cooking juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 - 3 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly. Don't boil for too long or you'll end up with toffee.

Rest the pork for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the brown sugar chipotle sauce drizzled over.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Brioche Buns





The only thing that stopped my family from eating the entire batch of these buttery buns as they came out of the oven, was the promise of burgers for dinner.

Brioche Buns
adapted from here
Makes 12

550g plain flour (I used "00" flour)
1/3 cup caster sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 sachets) dry yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup full cream milk, at room temperature
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm pieces
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt)

Put the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, and beat on low briefly to mix.

Add the eggs and milk and beat on low until the mixture starts to clump together. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and hook down and beat for a further 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and hook again.

Keep the mixer at low speed while you add half of the butter, one piece at a time making sure each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and hook, and continue adding the butter piece by piece, until it is all incorporated. Once all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 4 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and hook and beat for a further 4 minutes. The dough should become smooth and shiny and should slap against the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it briefly. The dough will be very soft. Flatten the dough slightly into a disc, then fold the top and bottom edges in towards the centre and both sides in towards the centre. Turn the dough over so that it is smooth-side up. Tuck the edges in underneath to form a tight ball and put it, top-side facing up, into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot to double in size for about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead again briefly. Form into a ball again, using the same method as before (folding and tucking), until you have a smooth, taught ball.

At this point you have two options. Option 1: You can leave it to double in size at room temperature for an hour. Option 2: You can leave the dough to slowly proof in the refrigerator overnight.  Overnight proofing will give you a better flavour. I proofed mine overnight.

If you refrigerated your dough, take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature (at least 2 hours). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Once the dough is at room temperature, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball using the method above of folding and tucking. Cut the dough into 12 x 90g portions and roll each portion into a tight ball, tucking the edges underneath and making the top as smooth as possible. Put them on the prepared trays, evenly spaced apart to give them room to spread during rising and baking. Spray a tiny little bit of oil on some plastic wrap and cover the buns, oiled side down, loosely to double in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Once puffy, lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash, making sure the egg wash doesn't drip down the sides (which can inhibit rising during baking) and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the tops are a deep golden brown. Leave to cool on the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to your mouth a wire rack to cool until just warm. EAT.