Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Strawberry shortbread

Simple and sweet, this invention was inspired by the wonderful strawberries in season at the moment. It will be a way to use the delicious dehydrated strawberries I dried this very week.

Strawberry shortbread (original recipe by Kiriel)

175g flour
75g semolina flour
20g dried strawberries (the crisp kind)
250g chilled butter
75g caster sugar

Chop butter roughly. Put all ingredients in a foodprocessor and process until a ball of dough forms. Be careful not to over process, or the shortbread will toughen.

Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.

Roll out on a lightly floured board to 5mm and cut out shapes. Bake at 190 degrees for 15-20 minutes until very lightly golden.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Breakfast bread

I invited a friend over for breakfast the other day and I really wanted to have fresh bread to offer among other things, but had no desire to get up super-early to knead. I am SO not a morning person.

What I needed was a bread recipe that I could make up the night before, and allow to rise overnight.

This Paillasse recipe was the perfect thing, and, in fact I didn't actually have to knead at all. A little bit of a pity in some ways, as kneading bread is rather fun. The overnight rise gives it a lovely flavour as it gives the yeast time to develop. I would make it again any time... hmm.. maybe I will whip up a half batch right now for tomorrow!

You simply will not believe how easy this is. Go on... give it a bash.

Pain Paillasse

500 gms flour (try to get flour with a decent amount of gluten in it rather than super-white pastry flour)
300 ml cold water
7g instant yeast (1 sachet)
1 tsp Salt

Put ingredients in a mixer with dough hooks and mix for 5 minutes.

Oil a dish (around 20cm square) and put the dough in the dish. Cover closely with plastic film.

Refrigerate for at least 10 hours. (basically overnight)

When you get up in the morning, put the oven on to 250 °c. Sprinkle your bench with some flour, and maybe some sesame seeds if you fancy them. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into two or three pieces. Form into logs and twist each twice.

Pop onto a baking tray and slide it straight into the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes at full temperature, then drop the oven temperature to 200, and turn the loaves so that they will brown evenly. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Voila - you are done! Incredibly easy eh?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Chicken, basil & prosciutto sausage rolls

I had a Tupperware party on the weekend; a good excuse to get together with the girls and drink champagne.... and a good excuse to cook party food!


Chicken, Basil & Prosciutto Sausage Rolls (original recipe by Kiriel)

200g chicken breast fillet
150g prosciutto
1 onion
6-7 basil leaves
pinch of salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 sheet of puff pastry (around 30x40cm)

Put the oven on to warm up to 180 degrees.

Roughly chop the onion, chicken and proscuitto. Put into a food processor with the basil leaves and blend until combined.

Cut the sheet of puff pastry in half lengthways. Take half the filling and place in a sort of sausage along the long edge of one piece of the pastry. Brush the opposite edge with water and then fold the pastry over to make a roll. Place seam side down. Repeat with the other piece of pastry.

Cut the rolls in 3cm lengths. Brush the tops with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm. (These can happily be made the day before and reheated in the oven)

After posting this recipe up, I stumbled across a "food for plastic" challenge, hosted by What's Cooking. Apparently Tupperware in the US will be donating a percentage of sales this month to Boys and Girls clubs. That seems like a good cause, so I am throwing this recipe and my hat into the ring.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Challenge: Pineapple & Blue Cheese

I am getting addicted to these food challenges. This one really quirked my interest... "TRGWT: They Really Go Well Together". These challenges are based on molecular gastronomy food pairings, and this month the challenge was to pair pineapple and blue cheese (being hosted by David at "Eat Foo(d)")

Now I had already eaten blue cheese and pineapple on one of my home made pizzas, and so knew that the potential for all sorts of deliciousness was there... the problem lay in the timing. I found out about the challenge on Monday morning (31 March) at about 1am when trawling the internet in a bout of insomnia. On Monday nights I have my singing lesson followed by choir and don't get home till after 11pm. The challenge closes on the 1st of April. That gave me one day to think of something and 1 evening in which to perfect it. Phew!

So... my contribution? Something very simple indeed:

Pineapple and blue cheese soup (original recipe by Kiriel)

2 small onions
30g butter
60 blue cheese
480g pineapple (I was in a pinch so used drained pineapple in natural syrup)
2 cups chicken stock

Dice the onions finely and sweat in the butter until they go clear. Chop the pineapple into pieces (if using fresh pineapple make sure you remove the hard core) and add to the butter. Sweat until the pineapple has absorbed the butter and softened.

Blend the pineapple in a food processor or blender. Add the chicken stock and return to the pan. Simmer for about half an hour to give the pineapple more time to soften. Crumble in the blue cheese and remove from the heat. Stir to blend the cheese in but don't over stir - you want to discover lovely little nuggets of cheese as you eat.

I tried two different versions of this recipe. The first used St Agur which is a mild creamy blue cheese, quite solid in texture and with a nutty taste. The second used a cave-ripened roquefort, strong, sharp and acid.

Both had their merits and in the end I simply couldn't decide which was better, although I think I lean just a teeny bit towards the milder St Agur. I also couldn't define for you why the soup ended up tasting so good... it just does! Go on... be brave and give it a try.

Red Fruit Crumble

On the way home from work I popped into the shops to buy some mince for dinner. And there in the supermarket were glorious red stalks of rhubarb. mmmmm... yummm. Time for apple and rhubarb crumble methinks! But whats there? Strawberries... fresh ripe and rosy red. So red apples instead of green and all the makings are there for a gloriously fresh and delicious fruit crumble. And in perfect timing, this month's Monthly Mingle is on the theme of Spring Fruit Sensation, and Mike's Table is focusing on Strawberry Seduction... mmmm...

Red Fruit Crumble (original recipe by Kiriel)

500g Strawberries, hulled
330g rhubarb (2 long stalks or 3 medium)
3 gala apples
2 dessert spoons caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

100g butter
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oates
3/4 cup brown sugar

Clean the rhubarb and cut into pieces about 2cm in size. Core and chop the apple into chunks a similar size to the strawberries and sprinkle with the lemon juice to keep the apple white. Put rhubarb, strawberries and apples into a wide casserole dish. Just before topping with crumble, sprinkle with the caster sugar.

To make the crumble: Rub butter into flour to create something the consistency of breadcrumbs. Mix in brown sugar and oats.

Spread generously over the fruit and bake at 190 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool just a little so the sauce will thicken up before serving.