Thursday, 26 July 2012

Baked Walnut Tart

Walnut Tart and runny cream!
I came home from work the other day and the man had been browsing through my latest purchase (rescued from the Library Book Sale for $1) - The Utterly Unrefined Cookbook. It was left suspiciously open on this Baked Walnut Tart. 
 It's a book that includes recipes donated by a variety of chefs and cooks in support of a Breast Cancer Campaign published in 2002. The common denominator  - using unrefined sugar. 

How could I resist. This is a recipe donated by Phil Vickery - I have to admit I have not come across this particular cook before but those in the UK may be familiar.  This was listed under hot puddings, but must say that this was OK warm but much better cold from the fridge the following day. There were no instructions how to make the blind baked pastry case so you could either use shop bought or homemade. I chose to make my own 9''diameter  x 1.1/4''deep case.  

So here are the ingredients for the filing:
4 tablespoons apricot jam
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons rum 
(this made it quite alcoholic, so much so I had to re-read the recipe after I had tasted it to see if it should have been teaspoons - no I had read it correctly, so my advice is less is probably better, maybe 1 tablespoons.  Although it did make it taste quite Christmassy!)
125g/4 1/2oz unrefined golden caster sugar - I only had normal caster sugar
2 pinches of cream of tartar
125g walnut pieces roughly chopped
50g melted butter


Heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4
Put the egg yolks, rum and half the sugar in a mixing bowl, whisk well, until pale and creamy.
Whisk the eggs whites and cream of tartar (to prevent the whites splitting)
Add the rest of the sugar to the whites until whisk until firm and glossy.
Spoon jam into the base of the cooked flan case.
Fold the egg whites, chopped walnuts and melted butter carefully into the egg yolks and then spoon the mixture into the pastry case. 
Bake in a preheated oven until set - about 30 minutes.
Remove and cool before cutting, I preferred this very cold from the fridge rather than warm as it was a little more runny than I would have liked.
The tart will rise and collapse slightly but this is normal.  Serve with cream or icecream.
Before going into the oven
straight from the oven

Don't expect this to be a very firm tart, but I loved it cold.
I intended this to make it into AlfaBakes challenge this month - theme is W  hosted by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes.

But I think I am too late - that will teach me to post the recipe straight after cooking!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Porridge - Plain and Simple

Breakfast can be so many things to so many people.  Sometimes on the run, some long and lingering, sometimes cereal, sometimes continental, sometimes cooked, and then there is   brunch.  As a child I baulked at breakfast, I really couldn't stomach eating so early in the morning, being rushed to get something into the tummy that was good for you before being marched off to school. I was a skinny kid (although not unhealthy - shame I can't say that now!) and can remember not really liking food very much until I was at least 10 years old.  My mother (especially in the winter) would try any number of things to get me to eat breakfast before school. All I really wanted was maybe just a piece of toast.  That was not to be ..... the last thing I can remember my mum trying before she gave in and cooked me scrambled egg, was Farley's Rusks crushed and beaten to within an inch of its life with boiling milk.  The smell of it nearly made me vomit. There was not a lump in sight - it was just the texture I couldn't tolerate - I would have much preferred a dry rusk and a hot mug of milk served separately any day. To make things worse my sister loved them!

I did however find my appetite eventually and over the years my tastes have changed considerably to the point now where I love porridge - plain and simple drizzled with honey.
So on a trip to the UK a couple of years ago we finished off the holiday with a trip to Edinburgh Scotland and stayed at Dalhousie Castle.  The usual hot and cold breakfasts were available, but also there was haggis, black pudding and good old porridge.  How could I resist the porridge - when in Rome and all that.......I was not disappointed it was perfect. The man would look at me sideways each morning I ordered it!

So I could not leave Scotland before I had bought a spurtle - a wooden carved stick to stir porridge specifically shaped to get into the little crannies of a pot so the porridge does not stick.

I make porridge often to the delight of my grandchildren - although they do think its funny that I don't cook it in the microwave!

So here it is plain and simple enough for two.

1 cup of oats
2 cups of full cream milk
Honey for drizzling or homemade strawberry jam

Place the oats and milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Simmer stirring so the porridge doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot for about 5 mins or until oats are soft.

As the man doesn't like lumpy porridge I then wiz this in the blender until smooth and creamy (add more milk if it gets too thick)

Pour into warmed bowls and spoon on the honey. Yum Yum this keeps you going until lunch.

I am entering this in the Breakfast Club Challenge for July themed Holidays over at  Fuss Free Flavours hosted by Helen.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Coq au Vin

In keeping with the slow cook, retro, french theme  that I am on at the moment using my lovely book Slow Cooking by Joanne Glynn I thought this no fuss chicken casserole would be just the ticket for Bastille Day.

This dish is cooked completely on the stove top and is mild enough for fussy eaters and is surprisingly quick to put together.

It is said that the ancient Romans created this dish to demonstrate their superior sophistication to the Gauls, whose French descendants have since claimed it as their own - wonder what the French think about that!

Cooking time 1 hour 20 mins - Serves 8
(as I was only feeding 4 I divided this in half) 
This can be marinated overnight, thereby saving you a little bit of time when you come to cook.
2 x 1.6kg chickens
750ml (1 bottle) red wine
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
250g bacon diced
60g butter
20 pickling or small pearl onions or shallots
250g button mushrooms
1 teaspoon oil
30g plain flour
1 litre chicken stock
125ml brandy
2 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon plain flour.

Chop chicken into 8 pieces each - removing the back bone (or buy chicken already jointed)
Put wine, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper in and bowl and add chicken pieces. Cover and leave to marinate, preferably overnight.

Saute bacon in a pan until golden and set aside.
Melt a quarter of the butter in the pan, add the onions and saute until browned - set aside.

Melt another quarter of the butter, add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5mins - set aside with the bacon and onions.

Drain the chicken - keep the marinade, pat dry the meat.
Season. Add remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the chicken until golden.
Stir in the flour.

Transfer chicken to a large saucepan or casserole dish.
In the pan bring stock and brandy to the boil, stirring, for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan and pour over chicken.
Add everything else, marinade, onions, mushrooms, bacon and tomato paste.
Cook over a moderate heat for 45mins or until chicken is cooked.

If the sauce is too runny lift out the chicken and veg, bring sauce to the boil and whisk in extra butter and flour cook for 2 mins and then return the chicken and veg to the sauce.

This smelt delicious cooking and equally so when it was dished up at the table.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon

This well-known recipe from Burgandy, France best made a day in advance to allow the flavours to develop into a rich dish.

With the imminent arrival of house guests from the UK I thought this would be the perfect dish to make ahead of time so the flavours could settle and also to relieve some pressure in the kitchen on the night of the welcoming dinner.

It was a hit  - and when you are feeding 11 people it made for a relaxed time, by just doing some gentle reheating.

This recipe is from a lovely book by Joanne Glynn called Slow Cooking

Cooking time 3.5 hours - Serves 6 
(I made double to feed our crowd)

1.5 kg beef blade or chuck streak
1 bottle of red wine (750ml) I used Shiraz but the recipe suggested Burgundy of course.
3 garlic cloves, crushed
bouquet garni
70g butter
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour
200g bacon, cut into short strips
300g shallots, peeled
200g small button mushrooms


Cut the meat into the small cubes trimming all fat.

Put meat, wine, garlic and bouquet garni in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160 C (315F Gas 2-3)
Drain the meat, reserving the marinade and bouquet garni.
Dry the meat on paper towels.
Heat 30g of the butter in a large casserole dish.
Add the onion, carrot and bouquet garni and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat.

Heat half the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. Fry the meat in batches for about 5 minutes or until well browned.  Add to the casserole dish.

Pour the reserved marinade into the frying pan and boil, stirring, for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan.  Remove from the heat.  Return the casserole to high heat and sprinkle the meat and vegetables with the flour.  Cook stirring constantly, until the meat is well coated with the flour.  Pour in the marinade and stir well.  Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Easy!

Heat the remaining butter in a clean frying pan and cook the bacon and shallots, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until the shallots are softened.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes or until browned.  Drain on paper towels.  Add the shallots, bacon and mushrooms to the casserole.

Cover the casserole and return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the meat is soft and tender.  Discard the bouquet garni.  Season to taste and skim any fat from the surface before serving.

I cooked some plain steamed long grain rice to accompany this  beautiful rich dish - add a glass of red - perfecto!

Everyone loved it and were looking for seconds!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Magnolia Verandah's Cook Books

 Don't you just love looking through peoples homes - I do - they fascinate me and nothing fascinates me more than their kitchens and the cookbooks it might house. I must admit I have a few myself and my collection doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon. In fact even the monthly book sale at our local library finds me heading straight to the cooking section (as it did this morning) and then I sneak it into the house like a forbidden purchase, before I get the "What on earth do you want that for" look from the man! Mind you on occasion he has been known to bring home the latest cookery book as a gift or when he wants to get into the "good books"!

They are even tucked into the alcoves beside the fireplace

Let's not forget the mag subscriptions
This morning's $1 purchase

What do your cookbooks look like?

Entering this in Random Recipes No. 18 for July
at Belleau Kitchen