Monday, 29 June 2009

June's Baking Challenge

June's Baking Challenge

Oh dear. I'm late! I just happened to be browsing the internet and came across Cream Puff's in Venice post and realised that I am late as well! How did that happen? I am normally good with dates but the 27th just whizzed past me without me even knowing it had come and gone! Sorry.

Anyway, The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Thanks Jasmine & Annemarie for this challenge.

Ok, I thought, looks easy enough but what filling do I use. Definitely lemon curd for 1, and Cherry Jam and the last without a doubt was Minced Meat. Pat loves Minced Meat and since I have a jar of that, why not?

Made them last week and gave 2 to my cleaner who said it was so good that they almost did not make it home! hehe

Tart with the 3 different fillings before adding the frangipane
filled tart

Tarts out from the oven
bakewell tart

Not shown in the pictures was how to differentiate the different fillings. Made alphabets with the sliced almonds as in L for lemon curd, C for Cherry and hapharzard for minced meat.

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Annemarie’s notes:
• Add another five minutes or more if you’re grinding your own almonds or if you’re mixing by hand (Heaven help you).

Friday, 19 June 2009

Fried Fish in Tamarind Sauce

Fried Fish in Tamarind Sauce

fish with tamarind sauce

White firm fish fillets - I used tilapia
1 tbsp tamarind mixed with a little water to get a thick paste or cheat's way is to use ready made tamarind paste which they sell here in UK
2 tbsp sugar
1 onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs coriander
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 red chilies - chopped

1. Coat fish fillet in plain flour or corn flour.
2. Heat oil in pan and fry fillets. Fry till brown on one side and flip over and cook other side.
3. Remove to a plate
4. Remove the oil from the sauce pan and add chopped ingredients.
5. Add tamarind paste or water if using, fish sauce, sugar and a little water. Mix well and let it boil.
6. Add more water if the mixture gets too thick. Cook for about 5 mins and spoon over fried fish and garnish with coriander leaves.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Sweet and sour pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet sour pork

500 gms Shoulder pork or belly pork - cut into cubes
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chinese wine
1 tbsp corn flour
1 egg - beaten
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda (optional)

1 carrot - diced
1 green pepper - diced
1 onion - cut into wedges
button mushrooms - sliced
baby corn
spring onions - cut into 1 inch slices
fresh or canned cubed pineapples (optional)

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp ketchup
dash of worchester sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cornflour (optional)

1. Put ingredients (A) into a bowl and mix everything well and marinate for about 15 mins or longer. The bicarb of soda acts as a meat tenderiser.
2. After meat has been marinated, put about 3 tbsp cornflour in a plastic bag and put meat into the bag and shake. Or the alternative would be to put some cornflour onto a plate and add the meat to it. Shake off excess.
3. Heat some oil in a sauce pan and after oil is hot enough, add the coated meat cubes to the oil. Fry in batches and do not overcrown the pan. Fry till meat is browned all over and remove to a kitchen towel.
4. Heat some oil in a fry pan and fry the vegetables in order given. Fry for about 5 mins and then add the gravy and simmer for about 10 mins for veg to soften.
5. Lastly, add meat to the mixture and you can add cornflour slurry to the mixture to thicken up if so wished.
Note: I normally do not add this as the mixture will thickens up slightly.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

June - 1st Daring Kitchen Challenge

Daring Cooks Challenge

This month's challenge is potstickers/gyoza and oops I just did some at the end of April, but that was using ready made dough and this challenge was to make our own.
Hey, good idea, then at least I can say that I've had a go at it and know how it's done. haha. ( I won't put my recipe down as it can be found in my archives)

gyoza 1


This months challenge is hosted by Jen of use real butter and the challenge is Chinese dumplings/potstickes (aka gyoza in Japanese).

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling:
1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried - rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch


shrimp filling:
1/2 lb (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb (225g) ground pork
3 stalks green onions, minced
1/4 cup (55g) ginger root, minced
1 cup (142g) water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp (5g) salt
3 tbsp (40g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches - or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for worksurface

dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

placing the dumplings in a steamer over napa cabbage leaves

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Sugar craft rose cake

Sugar Craft Rose Cake

Was invited to Pat's cousin's 60th Birthday lunch, so thought I'd make a cake to give as a present. My 2nd go at making roses and I am so glad of the end result.

sugar rose 2

sugar rose 1

sugar rose

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Too good to be true

Too Good to be True

We had 2 wonderful weeks - around the end of May with temps going up to around 27 at one stage, sun shining, blue skies, etc. Went downhill after that. Today it's only 16degs. Sigh. That's London for you. Summer's gone! - oh no, I do hope not. You know every year, they forecast a hot summer and this year it's no different, they forecasted the hottest summer on record and well, fingers crossed, hopefully it will change soon.

And now for the latest news.. they will be having a 48 hour tube strike which started tonight at 1900 and ending on Thursday at 1900. So, moi will be working from home as I do not fancy fighting my way in the chaos in London.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Thai Fish Cake

Thai Fish Cakes

Have not made these in a long time. They are quite easy to make. It is a Rick Stein recipe.

450g/1lb white fish fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 kaffir lime leaf or 1 strip or lime zest, shredded very finely
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (leaves and stalks)
1 egg
1 tsp palm sugar or muscovado sugar
½ tsp salt
40g/1½oz French beans, sliced thinly into rounds
150ml/5fl oz groundnut or sunflower oil

For the sweet and sour cucumber sauce:
50ml/2fl oz white wine vinegar
100g/4oz caster sugar
1½tbsp water
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
50g/2oz cucumber, diced very finely
25g/1oz carrot, diced very finely
25g/1oz onion, chopped very finely
2 red bird's eye chillies, sliced thinly

1. For the sauce, gently heat the vinegar, sugar and water in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Bring to the boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and leave to cool
3. Stir in the fish sauce, cucumber, carrot, onion and chillies. Pour into four small dipping saucers or ramekins and set aside.
4. For the fish cakes, put the fish in a food processor with the fish sauce, curry paste, kaffir lime leaf or lime zest, chopped coriander, egg, sugar and salt. Process until smooth, then stir in the sliced green beans.
5. Divide the mixture into 16 pieces. Roll each one into a ball and then flatten into a 6cm/2½in disc.
6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes in batches for 1 minute on each side, until golden brown. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper, then serve with the sweet and sour cucumber sauce.

thai fish cake

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Prawn avocado salad

Prawn Avocado salad

Mixed salad leaves
6 large cooked king prawns
2 hard boiled eggs - cut into wedges
2 avocadoes
½ lemon, juice only
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing
150ml/5¼ fl oz mayonnaise
50ml/1¾ fl oz ketchup
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
½ lemon, juice only

1. Arrange salad at bottom of plate
2. Cut the avocados in half, removing the skin and stone. Slice into four lengthways and arrange on a plate.
3. Scatter eggs on top.
4. Toss the cooked, cold prawns in the lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and olive oil and place on top of the avocados.
5. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and drizzle over salad.
4. Serve immediately.

Prawn avocado salad