Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Lamb Kefta

I know if I make meatballs for dinner, there'll be smiles all round. It doesn't matter what kind of meatball or what type of sauce they are in, the last ball in the pan will be fought over and the sauce mopped up with chunks of bread. Meatballs are my fallback position. You know those days when you pace up and down the supermarket aisles for ages, wondering what you are doing to make for dinner and nothing immediately presents itself as a viable option? Those are my meatball days. You can bet, when my head is cloudy and I'm struggling for meal ideas, there's definitely a chance of meatballs. (And yes, I apologise for that last sentence.)

Lamb Kefta
Serves 4 - 6
slightly adapted from here

For the Kefta:
600g ground lamb
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon

For the Sauce:
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150g moghrabieh
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large cinnamon quill
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
1 x 700g bottle passata
750ml chicken or beef stock
100g pine nuts

Toast the Moghrabieh and Pine Nuts:
In a large, wide pan over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the moghrabieh and cook in the oil until golden and toasted. This will only take a few minutes. Add enough boiling water to cover the moghrabieh and boil for about 5 - 8 minutes until they are starting to become tender. Remove from the pan, drain and set aside.

Wipe the pan dry and toast the pine nuts until they too are golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Make the Kefta:
Put all the kefta ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Take 2 tablespoons of mixture and form into balls.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan you toasted the moghrabieh and pine nuts in over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook for about 4 - 5 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over. Remove from pan and set aside.

Make the Sauce:
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, lower the heat to medium low. Add the onions, garlic, cinnamon and cumin and cook for about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to burn the spices. Add the chickpeas and the passata. Bring to boil and add the stock and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes, until reduced by half. Return the meatballs to the pan and add the moghrabieh and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Summer Fruit Tart

I saw this tart on the cover of the latest Donna Hay magazine and knew I had to make it. Given that I have a house bursting with summer fruit, freshly picked berries and am always (always) prepared to make pastry... it was a no brainer. Not to mention a couple of baby birds (aka my sons) who are always (always) ready to eat ... I wonder where they get that from? (Shrugs IDK)

Summer Fruit Tart
slightly adapted from here

For the Pastry:
225g plain flour (I use Tipo "00")
55g caster sugar
100g cold unsalted butter
Good pinch of salt
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
60ml iced water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:
40g almond meal
600g stone fruit, stones removed and cut into wedges (I used a mixture of white peaches, apricots and red plums)
250g fresh blueberries
55g vanilla sugar.plus 1 tablespoon extra for sprinkling
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the Pastry:
Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vinegar, water and vanilla and process until a dough forms. Turn out onto a work surface. bring it together into a ball and wrap it on plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Make the Tart:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the stone fruit, blueberries and vanilla sugar into a large mixing bowl and toss to mix. Set aside.

Roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 34cm round. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the almond meal, leaving a 5cm clearance around the edges. Pile the fruit mixture on top of the almond meal, leaving any juice that has collected in the bowl (you don't want your pastry to go soggy). Fold the border of the pastry up, creating a rim, roughly crimping as you go. Brush the pastry edges with the egg and sprinkle with the extra vanilla sugar. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm it up.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until the pastry is golden

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake

I have a KitchenAid mixer which I adore. It's an absolute treasure and a gift from husband. I love it and I use it almost every day. In fact, I don't think I could live without it. But on days when all I want to do is some gentle stirring, I make cakes like this one. It only requires a couple of mixing bowls and a saucepan and I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from here

For the Frosting:
60ml cold water
75g coconut butter (not coconut oil)
50g dark brown sugar
1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1½ tablespooons cocoa powder
150g dairy free dark chocolate, chopped

For the Cake:
225g plain four
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
75g cocoa powder
300g dark brown sugar
375ml hot water
75g coconut oil
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar

Make the Frosting:
Put all the frosting ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once everything has dissolved turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Leave for a minutes, then give it a stir. It will be smooth and shiny. Set aside to cool.

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C and slide a baking sheet in to heat up.

Line the bottom of a 20cm round springform cake pan with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the flour, baking soda, salt and espresso powder into a mixing bowl and stir to mix.

In a separate bowl, stir the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the oil has melted. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes or until the cake comes away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the oven and leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack.

Frost the Cake:
Give the frosting a stir. It should be a good spreading consistency buy now. Spread the frosting over the unmoulded cake and use a offset palette knife to ease it to the edges. Leave the cake in its tin for 30 minutes for the frosting to set before unmoulding and slicing.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Sticky Gingerbread

'Tis the season to be full of gingerbread... regardless of the actual season. If you live in the Southern hemisphere, you feel me, right?

Sticky Gingerbread
slightly adapted from here

225g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
115g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
115g molasses
115g golden syrup
115g dark muscovado sugar
275ml full cream milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a large loaf pan and line it with baking paper. Set aside. I use my largest loaf pan which is 3 litre capacity.  It's probably a bit too big, but better than trying to cram too much batter in a smaller pan and having the inevitable spill-over. Just use the biggest pan you've got and don't fill it right up to the rim. Or, the other option is to make two smaller cakes, in which case cooking times will vary.

Put the molasses and golden syrup into a small pan and warm it gently until runny. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat the milk and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Put the flour, baking soda and spices into a food processor and blitz for about 10 seconds to mix. Add the butter and blitz briefly until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs. Tip into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk mixture and whisk, then quickly add the molasses mixture, followed by the egg. Whisk until it is a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 - 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out. Wrap the loaf in a fresh piece of baking paper and then in foil and leave for a day before slicing. Store in an airtight container. It will get stickier the longer it is kept.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Beurre Noisette Madeleines

Note to self: Don't underestimate the power of a cup of tea and buttery little cake.

Start this recipe the day before.

Beurre Noisette Madeleines
Makes about 24
slightly adapted from here

150g unsalted butter
3 eggs
150g white caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
150g "00" flour, plus a little extra for dusting the pan
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half and seeds scraped out
Icing sugar, to dust

Put the butter into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. It will melt, then start to foam. Once the foam subsides, it will start to turn brown. Take it off the heat when it's the colour and tea and smells gorgeously nutty. Strain through a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Gradually pour in the melted butter (reserving a little for greasing the pan), add the salt, flour, lemon zest and vanilla seeds and mix until combined. Pour the batter into a jug, cover with plastic wrap and pop it in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 220C. Grease your madeleine pan with the reserved butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Fill the pan ¾ full with the batter (don't overfill).

Bake for 7 - 12  minutes (depending on the size of your pan), until golden.

Leave to cool in the pan for 1 minute and then turn out onto a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

As much as I go on about my love of chocolate, vanilla is actually my favourite flavour... and sometimes coffee is my favourite... then, I do love hazelnut... and caramel... and you can't really beat almond... or browned butter... or gingerbread... or cinnamon...

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Makes about 15
adapted from here

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup "00" flour
¼ cup cornflour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup canola oil
½ cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons milk

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a couple of cupcake pans with paper liners, you'll need about 15. Set aside.

Put both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bow, whisk to mix and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes on high speed. Add the vanilla and oil and beat to mix for about 1 minute. Change to paddle attachment and reduce the speed to low. Add half of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Once combined, add the remaining flour mixture and the rest of the buttermilk. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and fill the liners to half full.

Bake for 12- 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar util light and creamy.  Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the milk a little at a time until it is a piping consistency. Beat for a further minute or so until really whipped and airy. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Pan Telera (Mexican Sandwich Bread)

I'm a self confessed bread maniac. I adore it. I don't just love eating though... I love to bake it, smell it, look at it, crack through the crust of it, butter it, shop for it, share it, watch people make it, admire it, tear it, toast it, travel the world to sample all the different incarnations of it, dream about it, read recipes for it, search the web for it, stuff it, fill my shopping basket with it, lick my finger and pick up the crumbs of it. I'm a lost cause. 

Pan Telera
Makes 8
slightly adapted from here

10g fresh yeast
400ml lukewarm water
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
500g baker's flour
2 tablespoons lard

Put the water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Crumble the yeast in and stir to dissolve. Add the sugar, flour and salt and mix on low speed for 5 minutes, until it becomes a smooth dough. Add the lard in small pieces and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball and pop it back into the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Divide the dough into 8 even portions, roll them into oval balls and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Use your hands to flatten them out a bit, then press two deep tracks along the length of the bun using the handle of a wooden spoon. Turn the buns over and do the same to the other side. Cover loosely with a tea towel and leave to rise for 40 minutes. Press once more with the wooden handle in the same tracks, brush with water and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.