Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Apple Tarte-Tatin


Its nearing the end of harvest here and apples have been available in abundance.
There's nothing quite like the taste of an apple eaten straight from the tree…except perhaps for apples caramelised in butter and sugar, topped with puff pastry and baked to perfection!

A tarte tatin transforms this humble fruit into a pudding of sheer decadence.


To create a tarte tatin that will have your guests apple-auding, you'll need:

Ingredients:
12-16 apples, peeled, cored and quartered,
1 T lemon juice,
2 T water,
1 C granulated sugar,
¼ C sugar,
85g butter,
sprinkle cinnamon,
1 sheet ready-made butter puff pastry

Instructions:

Combine the lemon juice, water and 1 C sugar in a heavy bottomed pan that can be used on stove top and in the oven.
Stir on medium to high heat until the sugar dissolves. Then stop stirring and allow to boil – swirl occasionally. Cook until the sugar is brown and caramelised.
Add the butter and stir in. The mixture will bubble and boil and become a thick caramel.
Arrange the apple slices on top of the caramel. Pack them closely together.
Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and cinnamon.
Cover with a lid or foil and cook, covered, for 45 minutes.
Check to make sure the caramel isn’t burning – it can bubble gently. Add more apple slices as the apples shrink and create space.
Remove the lid and cook for a further 15-25 minutes.
Roll out your pastry and drape over the top of the apples.
Tuck the edges in.
Cover with the lid or foil and bake at 205ºC for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover and bake for 15 minutes.
Place a large serving plate upside down over the tarte and flip the pan and plate together to invert the pie onto the plate.


Serve with homemade vanilla ice cream, custard or a dollop of fresh cream.
This will work equally well with pears.

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My recipes and publication-ready images for reproduction online and in magazines, are available for purchase in my Etsy Store




Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Egg-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe


Its been rather hot lately…and along with dreams of a sparkling blue pool, I've been dreaming about this delicious, creamy but light strawberry ice cream.

Its a breeze to whip together and goes down a treat with everyone from the kids to their gwanddads!

I'm fortunate enough to have a super duper electric ice cream maker on my shelf temporarily and this ice cream was ready in 30 minutes…easy enough to whip up & serve if guests pop by for a dip in the pool dams.


You'll need:

2 C strawberry purée,
¾ C fresh orange juice,
3 T lemon juice,
½ C sugar,
2 C cream,
2 T icing sugar

Instructions:

Clean and cut off the stalks of your strawberries. Throw them into a blender and blend to a purée. You can sieve out the seeds if you prefer but I leave mine.
In a pot on low heat, stir together the strawberry, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Allow to chill.
Whisk the cream and icing sugar until it holds stiff peaks.
Fold in the strawberry mix and pop into your ice cream machine. Follow the instructions – in my machine, the ice cream is ready within 20 minutes.


Serve in antique china cups and saucers with a sugar cone and a drizzle of strawberry coulis.



Note: All of my images and content are protected by copyright. Recipes printed here may be used for home use.
My recipes and publication-ready images for reproduction online and in magazines, are available for purchase in my Etsy store.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake Recipe


I've been popping into antique shops recently in search of chairs and despite trying to declutter, I was won over by the most beautiful antique copper bundt pan. It just had to come home with me, even if it meant giving away something else on my shelves (sigh of relief, it didn't! but my aim for the year is to try and give away an item every time I bring something new home…but this was technically not new…right?! 
Of course, an old new bundt pan calls for a cake - without delay.


Lemon & Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Serves 12-14

Ingredients:
For the Cake:
¼ C poppy seeds,
3/4C milk,
200g butter,
½ t vanilla bean paste,
¾ C castor sugar,
½ C lemon juice,
3 eggs,
2 C flour,
1½ t baking powder

For the Icing Drizzle:
2 C icing sugar,
2 T milk,
3 T lemon juice.

Instructions:
Combine the poppy seeds and milk in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla paste until creamy and pale.
Add the eggs one at a time, mix between each addition.
Add the flour and baking powder and mix.
Finally add in the milk, poppy seeds and lemon juice and stir to combine.
Pour into a greased bundt pan or cake tin and bake at 160ºC for 60 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

For the drizzle, sift the icing sugar and add the milk and lemon juice. Drizzle over the cake.

Serve with a steaming hot cup of tea.


And then sit back to admire that gleaming new beauty on the counter top…


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Monday, 1 December 2014

Peanut Butter Dog Treats


I've baked these peanut butter dog treats for the pooch before.

They were received with such enthusiasm that I decided to make a double batch - they're so easy you'll quickly get the knick-knack of them. 


Bailey seems to have a sixth sense - knowing when something I'm baking is intended for him, he then pesters me in the kitchen, dogging my every step.


Of course his dogged efforts eventually pay off and he gets rewarded with some freshly baked biscuits.


I store them in a glass cookie jar adorned with pretty ribbons and a cute button...I couldn't decide between the little sitting dog or the dog bone button.
Doggone it, I just couldn't choose...


…so I went for both...


Individually wrapped in clear plastic bags with a ribbon looped over the top and a button attached, these peanut butter dog treats would make a lovely Christmas gift for a friend who is dog-crazy.

Or hang it on the tree for Fido so your four legged friend gets a treat along with the rest of the family on Christmas morning.



Monday, 4 August 2014

Homemade Hummous (& Tahini)


Its been forever a little while since my last blog post.
Last month I booked a ticket to spend a week in London and flew 36 hours later…
July is a pretty good time to take a holiday from the valley - the days are short, dark and chilly.
Although London wasn't exactly how most of us know mid summer to be, it was light until almost 10 which was a real treat.
I spent most of my a bit of time in Hyde Park: running, walking, reading, listening to music while lying on the grass, people watching, drinking Pimms sun-downers at the Lido and the Serpentine Restaurant - its virtually my backyard when I visit and I love it.


Then just as I was packing for home, another spontaneous little trip happened to the South of France, showing a friend all my usual haunts on the beautiful Côte d'Azur and spending plenty of time lazing by the pool. The next thing I knew, I was away from home for a month! 


I'm incredibly lucky that I have enthusiastic Bailey-sitters and could leave him with them for such a length of time - allowing me to relax and enjoy my time in the sunshine, secure in the knowledge that Bails was in excellent lipstick-covered hands!


Cannes has a wonderful daily fresh food market but one of the things (besides real cheddar cheese) that I found myself craving on this trip and unable to source, was hummous.
So to the trusty Google-machine and then I simply made my own. 
I won't be resorting to the store-bought variety again in a hurry - this recipe is easy and the result is delicious.

To make this creamy hummous you'll need:

400g can chickpeas in water,
1/4 C lemon juice,
1/4 C tahini*,
1 generous T garlic,
1/3 C olive oil,
1 t salt,
1/2 t cumin,
paprika for sprinkling.

*I couldn't find tahini so made my own:
Take 1 C sesame seeds, pour them onto some greaseproof paper in a baking tray and toast them in an oven preheated to 180ºC for 10-15 minutes…tossing regularly so they don't burn. Keep an eye on them.
Blitz them in a food processor and when they form a thick paste, add 1/3 C olive oil.

Once you've blitzed your tahini, scoop it out and store the excess in a jar.
Pop 1/4 C back into your food processor (no need to clean it in between) along with the lemon juice and whiz it up.
Next add the garlic, olive oil, salt and cumin and keep the processor running.
Add half the chickpeas** and give it a good blitz then add the last half. 
Scrape the sides down as you are processing to make sure everything gets blended and is creamy.

If its still a little dry, add more olive oil to your liking.
Scoop it out into a dish and pour over a little more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.


Serve with fresh ciabatta and soft butter.

** I've made this several times and have taken the time to skin the chickpeas and also left the skins on when in a hurry. Using skinned chickpeas resulted in a slightly smoother texture but for the extra effort its hardly noticeable. The verdict: no need to skin them.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup with Bacon Bits


Its good to be back on the farm after the most amazing trip to Prague.


Although the days have been lovely and mild without any wind, the nights are getting cooler and I've finally pulled out the winter duvet…another great way to get through the long nights is to tuck into steaming bowls of hearty soup.


To make this delicious cauliflower soup you'll need:
300g cauliflower, washed.
1 chicken stock cube,
1 C boiling water,
1 generous C milk,
150g extra mature cheddar, grated,
dash Tabasco,
Salt and pepper
2 rashers crispy bacon, chopped,
truffle oil.


Roughly chop the cauliflower and throw into a pot along with the stock dissolved in boiling water.
Allow to simmer and add the milk.
Simmer until the cauliflower is cooked through.
Add a generous splash of Tabasco, salt and pepper.
Use a stick blender to blend until smooth.
Return to the stove and throw in the grated cheddar, stirring until it has melted.


Dish up generous portions and sprinkle with bacon bits, drizzle over a little fresh cream and truffle oil.


Serve with fresh crusty bread and butter...


Snuggle up on the couch in front of a roaring fire and enjoy.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Chocolate Macarons with Kahlua Ganache


Macarons - these humble morsels have a reputation for reducing grown women to tears…both the women tearing their hair out doing the baking and those doing the tasting.


Despite having ample opportunity to taste the real deal while living in France for a year, I've never really understood all the fanfare around macarons. For some reason they never really captured my imagination - or my taste buds for that matter.


That is, until a friend came over for dinner and brought a batch she had made…to say I was bowled over is an understatement.


They were so soft and light, seemingly completely insubstantial, yet packing a punch of chewy sweet delicious lingering flavour…I was smitten…and once they were sob finished, I had to have more…immediately!


Louise mentioned the Ottolenghi recipe so I did a quick search which came up with a few different options as well as instructions and oven temperatures that varied quite widely.
After a few experiments, I've found a combination that works well with my oven. 


In a food processor whizz together:
110g icing sugar, 50g ground almonds, 12g cocoa powder.
Once its a fine powder, sieve into a bowl.
Using an electric beater, whip up:
2 egg whites until stiff.
Add in 40g castor sugar.

Once the meringue forms soft glossy peaks, add half the almond mix and fold in gently. Add the remaining mix and fold until incorporated.


Place a piping bag upright in tall glass to make it easier to fill then scoop the meringue into the bag.

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper. As a guide you can draw circles leaving spaces to allow for the mixture spreading.
Pipe the meringue into each circle forming a disc.
Give the tray a bash on the counter to remove air bubbles.

Leave the trays out for 15-30 minutes for the mixture to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and bake for 12-14 minutes.
At 12 minutes open the oven door to allow steam to escape.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the trays.

Allow to cool.

I have found that the macarons on the bottom tray tend to crack so I pipe fewer onto this tray but after trying countless a few variations in my oven, I've realised they are a necessary sacrifice to prevent the top tray from cracking…they still taste every bit as delicious.


For the ganache, heat 100g double cream in a saucepan.
Once its simmering, remove from heat and add 100g chocolate (I use Cadbury's Top Deck).
Allow to stand for 2 minutes and then whisk until its smooth and glossy.
Add 2 T Kahlua and mix it in.

I put my ganache into the fridge to harden.
After 10 minutes it should be firm enough to scoop between 2 macaron wafers.


Last week I headed out to dinner with friends in town and wrapped a few macarons in a gift box for the hostess.
I decorated my box with beautiful ribbon and an exquisite button from the new Incomparable range


I parted with these macarons rather reluctantly…next time I think I'll pop to the farm stall on the way and take a bunch of flowers instead!
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