27 May 2013

Lime & Pistachio Cake





Grey days make me feel like making soup & baking.  On Saturday I attempted florentines & ended up with one giant florentine.  Boy do those little biscuits spread!  Batch 4 & I still didn’t quite have it right!  Not quite the perfect little rounds drizzled with chocolate that I was going for, though they did taste delicious & what are crunchy, nutty, toffee florentine like shards will make the perfect topping for some ice cream, which I am happy to indulge in all year round.

Sunday’s baking adventures proved a little more successful. Flicking through the latest issue of Donna Hay Magazine this cake was what caught my attention. It was also a good way to use up some of these little beauties given to me by a friend at work.



Along with lime there were pistachio & almonds in lieu of flour & a good drizzle of honey. So this would also be the perfect cake for any gluten free people out there. A zesty, nutty cake that almost sounds like it is good for you with fruit, nuts & honey all present.



Lime & Pistachio Cake from Donna Hay

My only tweak a little more lime.

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

150g unsalted butter, softened
165g caster sugar
2 tbsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature
180g almond meal*
130g pistachio meal*
Honey for drizzling

*If you can’t find nut meal just buy the nuts & blitz them in a food processor.



Directions

Pre heat oven to 160C / 325F.  Lightly grease & line a 29cm x 7cm x 8cm  loaf tin with  baking paper.

Place the butter, sugar, lime zest & vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer & beat until pale & creamy, 10-12 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl & add the eggs one at a time, beat for a moment after you add each one.  Beat for 3-4 minutes more until well combined & then fold through the almond meal & pistachio meal until all mixed together.



Spoon the mixture in to the loaf tin & smooth the top with a palette knife.  Pop in the oven & bake for 1 hour - 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out almost clean with just a few crumbs attached.

Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin & then gently remove.  To serve drizzle with honey.


Zesty, nutty & quite delicious with a cuppa.




If you like this you might like this Brown Buttered Apple & Rosemary Cake
One year ago Puchero
Two years ago Raddichio 2 Ways

This is also my entry for this month's Sweet New Zealand being hosted by Bridget over at After Taste.


Enjoy!

26 May 2013

Aubergine Croquettes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty - IHCC



So while I was in the Hawke’s Bay last month & at the most wonderful supermarket I have ever come across in NZ I picked up some wonderful herbs from Epicurean Supplies.  It reminded me how wonderful all their produce is. I used to get their vegetable boxes delivered regularly & I can’t quite recall why I stopped.  It’s mostly organic, picked, packed & at my door in less than 24 hours.  So it is the freshest, most beautiful produce you are likely to come across.  I also like the surprise of not knowing what you are going to get, it adds a little variety to my cooking & pushes me to try new recipes or dishes.

So having bumped in to them it was time to get a little better reacquainted with Epicurean Supplies & it was a wonderful reunion.  I arrived home to a box packed full of Hawke’s Bay goodness...squash, baby pumpkin, cavolo nero, kale, swiss chard, potatoes, onions, beetroot, carrots, fennel, peppers, lettuce, micro greens & these baby aubergine.



Pumpkin was the star in some winter couscous, swiss chard made for some delicious fritters, kale went in to a frittata, more on both of these soon, & these purple little babies went in to some croquettes.

I should begin by confessing I am not a total lover of aubergines, I don’t really care for moussaka or a caponata.  I do however love them in my favourite breakfast. I do love the wonderfully smokey baba ganoush that Queenies serve up with their Turkish Eggs, which reminds me a return trip must be in order.

So when I came across this recipe that combined roasted, smokey aubergine with mashed potato that was coated in bread crumbs it was a temptation  I couldn’t resist.

Aubergine Croquettes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Makes four starter portions

Ingredients

4 medium aubergines, or a bunch of little baby ones
280g cooked floury potatoes, peeled & roughly smashed with a fork
1 egg, beaten
20g Parmesan, grated
140g feta, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
About 200g white breadcrumbs
Rice bran oil, for frying
4 lemon wedges, to serve


Directions

Firs burn the aubergines, yes burn the aubergines.  You can do them on a gas hob or if you don’t have one pop them on to a foil lined tray & in the oven under the grill for 40 minutes to 1 hour, turning them a few times until they are blackened. Remove from the heat & allow them to cool.  Once cooled, scoop out the flesh avoiding the blackened skin.  Place the flesh in a colander & allow to drain for 30 minutes.

Place the aubergine flesh in a large bowl & add the potatoes, egg, feta, Parmesan, salt & a little pepper.  Mix together gently with a fork until it just comes together.  Add half the bread crumbs, just enough for the mixture to hold together.


Remove the mix from the bowl & divide in to 4.  Roll each quarter in to a long, thick sausage about 2.5cm in diameter.  Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on a plate & roll each sausage in them until they are completely coated  Place on a tray & pop in to the fridge to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

To cook the croquettes cut each sausage in to 5cm long barrel shaped pieces. Pour the rice bran oil in to a frying pan, about 1.5cm deep.  Heat the oil & fry the croquettes in small batches, turning & cooking for 2-3 minutes until golden all over. Drain on kitchen paper & serve straight away with some lemon wedges.



Crunchy on the outside, fluffy, smokey insides...that is all. Croquette perfection.




If you like this you might like these...

Enjoy!

21 May 2013

Crusty White Bread



It’s bean a month or so since I baked bread & these Autumn days have again put me in the mood for bread.  Winter makes me want comfort & along with soup, casseroles, stews & potatoes there is bread.  Bread baking in the over, the smell wafting through the house ti just makes you crave a slice or 2, or even 3, slathered in butter.

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
James Beard

This month’s Twelve Loaves challenge is your favourite bread.  Much as I tend to the brown & the grainy when baking & for breakfast every day it is white bread that is my favourite.  Pour, maligned, evil white bread.  However for me it has fond memories of my childhood back before it became evil incarnate; we hadn’t heard of Dr Atkins back then, carbs weren’t the bad guys & I hadn’t hear of gluten either! This was the ‘80s  & sitting around the kitchen table with friends we would drink cup after cup of coffee & eat lots of toast, white toast, while we gossiped & laughed & put the world to rights. It was also the go to snack at university when you arrived home in the wee hours. 

“I like bread, and I like butter - but I like bread with butter best.” 
Sarah Wiener


Bread & butter is the simple pleasure & for me the other classic with white bread is the bacon sandwich.  The bread should be white, the bacon crisp & the only accoutrement some good butter. To toast or not to toast?  Well I just go whichever way I like, sometimes it’s fresh & sometimes it is toasted.

Toasted reminds me of my Gran.  She ran a B&B on the Isle of Skye & when staying with her over the Summer holidays we feasted on bacon sandwiches after all the guests were fed.  White toast, a lot of butter, bacon & cut in 2 quarters.  So you see for me white bread, toasted or fresh, has always been associated with good memories. As with most things I think a little of what you like is always a good thing, moderation & balance are the key.


Crusty White Bread adapted from here & here

Makes 3 small loaves

Ingredients

1 tbsp runny honey
370ml lukewarm water 500g /1lb. flour, plus a little for dusting
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Place the water & honey in a small bowl & whisk to dissolve the honey. In to a large bowl sift the flour & add the yeast & the salt.  Stir to mix everything together.  Make a well in the middle & pour in the water & honey mixture.  Mix everything together with a fork & then as it is all just coming together use your hands to gently knead the dough in to a ball.  The dough will still be a little rough but that is all OK, we are talking easy & a little bit rustic here.  Sprinkle a little flour over the top, cover with cling film & place in a cosy corner to rise for an hour or 2.



Pre heat your oven to 220C/425F

One the dough has double in size turn it our on to a floured surface.  Divide the dough in to 3 & shape in to little logs. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper & place in the oven, yep straight in to the oven no more proving or rising required.  From here on in the oven will do all the work.

Bake for 15 minutes & then turn down the temperature to 160C/320F.  Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the bread is light golden & cooked through.  Use the tap test, tap the bread & if it sounds hollow it is cooked.

I know here is where I should say let the bread cool....but really?  I can never resist a slice straight away with butter as there is not much that beats freshly baked bread with a generous dollop of butter. Or as my Gran would have it a little bread with her butter!





This bread is a winner, for me not too light & not too heavy & perfect for a bacon sandwich.


“‘A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said, ‘is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.’” 
Lewis Caroll

If you like this you might like this Rosemary & Walnut Irish Soda Bread
One year ago Auckland Eats Villa Maria
Two years ago Beef Bourguignon

Enjoy!

19 May 2013

Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter from Ottolenghi's Plenty - IHCC



So this week it is noodles with Ottolenghi & it was always going to be this saffron tagliatelle with spiced butter. Yes, I do seem to have a thing for butter it does after all make most things better.  This time round it is lots of spice rather than chilli & lime.  Saffron spiked noodles doused in an exotically spiced butter was a combination I could not resist.   It’s a little like Italy meeting Morocco with ginger, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne & turmeric & what a match.  Though this spicy butter would be a good match for so many things...chicken, fish, maybe even the humble spud.  The spices do make the golden tagliatelle flecked with saffron threads really something to savour, but it is the saffron that make it all the more decadent & just a little exotic.

Saffron...the world’s most expensive spice.  Prized since the dawn of civilisation as a spice, a medicine, a dye & even magic potions.  So expensive as each little stigma needs to be harvested by hand & before the flowers wilt at the end of the day.  Small these little threads may be but they are potent so a little goes a long way.  Too much & they can make your dish bitter, but just the right amount & you have a vibrant golden colour with an earthy, almost hay-like flavour that will transport you somewhere exotic.

Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the tagliatelle*

2 tsp saffron threads
4 tbsp boiling water
4 eggs
4 tbsp olive oil
440g /15 1/2 oz "00" pasta flour, plus a little extra for rolling
1 tsp ground turmeric
80g / 2 1/2 oz pine nuts, toasted & roughly chopped
4 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
4 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

*If you don’t want to make the pasta use some good store bought tagliatelle & add a few saffron threads to the cooking water.


For the spiced butter
200g butter
4 tbsp olive oil
8 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
Black pepper


Directions

Place the saffron in a small bowl with the boiling water & leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes. Add the eggs & oil to the saffron & beat to mix. Place the flour & turmeric in the bowl of a food processor & add the saffron mix. Blitz until you have a crumbly dough. Add a little more oil or flour as needed, the dough should be between sticky & dry.

Lightly dust your bench or board with flour, tip out the dough & knead into a ball for a few minutes until the dough becomes silky smooth. Wrap the dough in clingfilm & chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to a day.

When ready to make the past divide the dough into two pieces & keep one well covered. Roll the other piece into a thin rectangle. To start set the pasta machine to its widest setting & pass the dough through. Continue rolling the pasta, narrowing the setting by a notch every time, until you get to the lowest setting. You can either now cut the pasta in to wide ribbons or use the tagliatelle cutter on your machine.* Hang them on the back of a chair to dry for at least 10 minutes.




For the the spiced butter place the butter & oil in a frying pan & cook the shallots gently for about 10 minutes, or until they soften & the butter turns slightly brown, see this butter just gets better & better. Add all the spices, the salt & some pepper. Remove from the heat & keep warm. 


To cook the pasta bring a large pot of salted water to a boil & cook the tagliatelle for 2 to 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain & return to the saucepan. Pour the spiced butter over the pasta & stir well to coat each ribbon, then divide among four plates, sprinkle with the pine nuts & chopped herbs & serve immediately.

*Next time I think I will go not quite to the thinnest setting & hand cut for a little more rustic dish & a little more bite to the tagliatelle.



Yes this one is quite spectacular. Pasta doused in butter how could that not be good??  The saffron come through & the butter is sweet & spicy so the herbs add a welcome freshness that lighten & brighten this dish.  Well worth the effort of making homemade pasta, which, once you have done it a few times doesn’t really take too much time at all.  The clean up probably takes more time!!



Enjoy!

15 May 2013

In Season:Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup



Doing the weekly shop I spotted these little beauties at my local veggie shop. One of winter’s little treats.  They may not look the prettiest but their knobbly bumpy interior hides sweet & nutty flavours that are perfect roasted & blitzed in to a soup to warm one up on what was a wild & wet Sunday afternoon.  

Jerusalem artichokes also known as sunchokes, sunflower choke or topinambour if you are French.  Originally from North America they are a member of the sunflower family they were cultivated by Native Americans. They then became popular with early settlers & then made their way to France in the 17th century & became popular throughout Europe before potato took over in the middle of the 18th century.


These knobbly little tubers pack quite the nutritious punch; rich in carbs, low in calories & packed with potassium, iron & vitamin C not to mention a good dose of fibre too.  They are versatile little fellows, equally at home raw in a salad or boiled or roasted like potatoes & of course they can be the star ingredient in soup.

The wet & the wild weekend allowed this little soup to shine & come in to its own as it warmed me up & brought a smile to my face on an otherwise dreary Sunday.  Though as I think I mentioned before, I am kind of like these days at the moment, especially when snuggled up inside with a bowl of something comforting, taking it easy, reading or watching a movie or just snoozing. I am going to make the most of enjoying these darker days as soon enough I will be pining for Spring!

In the meantime we can enjoy soup.


Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Ingredients

750g Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed clean & dried
2 tbsp hazelnut oil, if you don’t have hazelnut oil use olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with string
2 sprigs rosemary, tied with string
3 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
Sea & pepper
Toasted hazelnuts
Greek yogurt
Another sprig of rosemary



Directions

Pre heat the oven to 190C/375F

Place the Jerusalem artichokes on a baking sheet & drizzle the hazelnut oil.  Yes that’s right no peeling! If some are a little large cut them in half.  Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper & place in the oven & roast until they are cooked through; 35-40 minutes. When done they will feel soft inside when pierced with a knife. 


Meanwhile heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy based saucepan & add the onions, garlic & a pinch of salt.  Sauté until soft & translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the thyme & rosemary & cook for a few minutes more.  Add the stock, Jerusalem artichokes & season with salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil & simmer for 5-10 minutes, really just to allow all the flavours to meld.  Blitz with a hand blender until smooth.




To serve ladle in to bowls, top with a dollop of yoghurt, a few toasted hazelnuts, a sprig of rosemary, a little hazelnut oil & a slice or 2 of crusty bread. The roasting & the hazelnut oil add a few more layers of nuttiness & the yoghurt a little richness. The rosemary provides a fresh herbal hit.



Enjoy!


12 May 2013

Hawke's Bay Eats:Ten24



Can it be only a couple of weeks ago I was cruising around the Hawke’s Bay eating & laughing a lot?  The sun is still shining here in Auckland, well it has returned after some dark, wild, wet & windy days, but there it is now distinctly cooler.  It is time to rug up with hot chocolate & bowls of soup.

As I was sending photos to Instagram & Twitter of my Hawke’s Bay adventure the twittersphere called out to me “You must go here”.  Here being Ten24 where Kent Baddley cooks up his version of country food.  So a few tweets to Kent & we had put the social in to social media & lunch was booked. 


I say his version as this is country food as you have never had it before.  The food is definitely a little more fine dining but the space is a little more rustic.  Rustic in all the right ways, light & airy & most importantly welcoming.  They see your car pull in to the car park & then there is some at the door to welcome you in for a few hours of exciting, creative, flavourful food, beautiful wine & friendly, attentive service.  All at once you feel right at home.

There is a focus on local with the menus changing daily depending on what is available & what Kent feels like concocting in his kitchen.  Seated & sorting out the wine, well Richard our wine expert sorting out the wine, while Steph & I perused the menu & immediately struggled with the starters as it all sounded so tempting.  So rather than the inevitable plate envy for starters we decided to share & try a little of almost everything. A good choice.


While waiting for starters a little amuse bouche, or rather 3 amuse bouche & a sign of what was to come.  The best snails I have ever eaten, crumbed & a top an olive tapenade, the perfect salty foil for sweet, juicy snails.  And then actually one of the stand outs for me a white turnip soup.  Simplicity itself with just a little rosemary to play with  the sweet turnip.  To finish the amuse bouche a perfect fig, vibrant jewel like pink & just perfectly ripe.  As I mentioned here the first fig to exceed my expectations of this little fruit that so many people adore.


For starters; smoked duck parfait that came in a little aubergine on top of some flat bread.  Creamy atop the crispy flat bread a great match.  Next an Ikana petit mussel salad with chilli sauce & yoghurt.  Bright, fresh & light.  The stand out starter for me was the brioche crumbed squid with pink pepper mayonnaise.  I really couldn’t go past either the brioche crumb or the pink pepper mayonnaise.  The sweet brioche & the peppery mayo a most welcome variation on the usual run of the mill squid or calamari.







The mains provided us all with dilemmas.  In the end we all went with fish.  Snapper schnitzel for Steph, ginger palm sugar roasted Glacier salmon with rhubarb for Richard & for me brill fillet, whitebait fritter & celeriac puree.  I just couldn’t go past the whitebait fritter.  I loved how the simplicity of the menu allows for the squeals of delight when our mains arrived in all their glory.  Who would have thought brill fillet & whitebait fritter would have looked like this....?



Or that the salmon & snapper would look like this?




Fresh, local seasonal food does make all the difference. It just all tasted to incredibly bright & fresh.  Perfectly cooked fish, little fritters bursting with whitebait & velvety smooth celeriac puree for just a little sweetness. The other mains just as delightful for my lunch companions.

And then there were the desserts.  We were after all having a long lunch & it being a long weekend we had the holiday feeling so it would have been very wrong not to sample some of the desserts.  Yes desserts, like with the starters we had to share.  Could you go past Sicilian spiced orange cake or fresh passionfruit brûlée with raspberry coulis or marshmallow chocolate brûlée ravioli??  I didn’t think so.




The cake was light & orangey & spiced.  The passionfruit creme brûlée delectable; the brûlée served in the passionfruit with a little popper of raspberry coulis, perfectly gloopy with a crunchy top.  The raspberry & passionfruit the right amount of tart for the creamy brûlée.  This was my favourite.  Though the most memorable would have to be this...


Who would have thought to make marshmallow ravioli?  Well the inventive Mr Baddley would.  Little marshmallowy pillowcases encasing chocolate brûlée like something from Willy Wonka or Alice in Wonderland; whimsical & magical.  Oh & yes on top of the creme anglaise they tasted very good too.


It was an idyllic few hours & all that a long lunch should be.  Great food, great wine, thank you Richard, great company all wrapped up in friendly, welcoming service.  Thanks Kent & team it was a wonderful lunch that we will all remember for quite some time.  Hopefully it is not too long until the next visit!

This is most definitely very fine country dining in the Hawke’s Bay, so if you are lucky enough to be in the Hawke’s Bay go!  Just be sure to book, it is unsurprisingly a very popular place.



1024 Pakowhai Road, near Hastings
Ph: 09 870 6440
Lunch Thursday - Tuesday
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