31 July 2008

More Ottolenghi

Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic.

The Ottolenghi book is rapidly becoming my favourite cookbook, gorgeous recipes, gorgeous photos. I am not going to lie, it was a review of this recipe that prompted me to buy the book, I finally got round to cooking this divine recipe as a quick lunch dish for myself. Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic, a few very basic every day ingredients make such a lively, colourful and absolutely delicious dish. I love broccoli anyway but I never thought it could taste this good.

Try it with lemons slices, they really make the dish.
I scaled down the recipe for myself, the original is:

2 heads of broccoli
115ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and black pepper
thin slices of lemon (with skin) to garnish.

Prepare the broccoli by separating it into florets. Fill a large saucepan with plenty of water and bring it to the boil. Throw in the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes only. Don't be tempted to cook it any longer! Using a large slotted spoon, quickly transfer the broccoli to a bowl full of ice cold water. Drain in a colander and allow to dry completely.
In a mixing bowl, toss the broccoli with 45ml of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Place a ridged griddle pan over a high heat and leave it there for at least 5 minutes, until it is extremely hot. Depending on the size of your pan, griddle the broccoli in batches. Turn them over so they get char marks all over.

While grilling the broccoli, place the rest of the oil in a small saucepan with the garlic and chillies. Cook them over a medium heat until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chilli burn - remember, they will keep on cooking even when off the heat.

Pour the oil, garlic and chilli over the hot broccoli and toss together well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve warm or at room temperature. You can garnish the broccoli with lemon just before serving.

Try it...and buy the book, you'll love it!

27 July 2008

My first Daring bakers challenge

The Daring bakers are a Internet baking group with around 1000 members, founded and organised by Lis of La mia cucina and Ivonne from Cream puffs in Venice. Once a month a Daring baker member sets a challenge for the group who then bake and blog it.

I have followed the Daring bakers for almost a year now, I love reading different views on each challenge, what worked for some and didn't for others, I finally took the plunge and joined the group, stepping out of my comfort zone and into new challenges I never would have usually attempted.

This months challenge was a Filbert gateau with praline butter cream set by Chris at Melecotte, you'll find the recipe by clicking on the link.
Now I know the point of joining the Daring bakers was to be challenged but when I looked at this recipe, I nearly fainted :) after reading all 6 pages of it a few times I realised it wasn't so bad, just a lot of steps. This cake, from Carol Walter's 'Great cakes', consists of a filbert genoise, laced with syrup sponge, layered with praline buttercream and whipped cream, covered in a delicious chocolate ganache then decorated with more butter cream.
Once I'd separated the different recipes I set about baking this cake.

The cake itself was a breeze to make, Processed hazelnuts were mixed into a mixture of beaten egg yolks and egg whites, baked and split into three layers, I loved splitting the cake, I have never attempted this before and tackled this by making out the layers with cocktail sticks and sawing threw the cake with a serrated knife.
Things started to get difficult when it came to the buttercream, unlike usual buttercream (butter and icing sugar) this recipe called for egg whites whisked over a bain marie so the sugar dissolved, then blending the butter into the mixture. The praline paste, made by covering hazelnuts in a sugar caramel, setting it, then pulverising it in the food processor, is , at the last minute, mixed into the buttercream.

My buttercream was a nightmare it would not come together at all, I tried everything to resurrect it but that probably just made matters worse, lol. In the end I gave up and stuck the very liquid buttercream in the fridge to firm itself up.
The cake is assembled by layering it up with sponge, sugar syrup, buttercream, whipped cream, sponge and so on , the top is covered with a apricot glaze then adorned with the most heavenly, glossy chocolate ganache. After it's stint in the fridge the buttercream looked a lot firmer, it was fine for layering the cake, although as it was quite liquid it was absorbed into the cake making it a little less photogenic, it tasted absolutley divine, but would it stand the piping for the final stage of the cake.....in a word, no! It did firm up but as soon as I piped the butter cream onto my perfect ganache it flopped, and slid off the cake, here my darling OH stepped in and marbled the buttercream through my ganache in a very artistic manner, it looked very pretty actually.

My first challenge exhausted me, starting off very positive, I was nearly in tears by the buttercream stage, but I think I pulled it off, and my, the finished cake was more than worth it, this cake was delicious, moist, creamy, the ganache was gorgeous and the nightmare praline butter cream made the cake for me, absolutely divine. I will definitely incorporate the praline in to a safer buttecream recipe another time, and a family member asked for the recipe, which always proves it's a winner.

Thank you to Chris at Melecotte for hosting this months challenge, check out her blog for the recipe and her cake, and check out the Daring baker blog roll for more Filbert gateaux.

Roll on next month!

16 July 2008

Black cherry muesli

Black cherry muesli

I adore oats, 9 times out of 10 I have them for breakfast, usually as porridge, occasionally granola and very often muesli.

I always make my own muesli as most commercial brands, well the tasty ones, are full of sugar. As muesli is so simple I make my own and have complete control of what goes into it.

This recipe is based on Nigella's from Feast. The original recipe uses sultanas, I used black cherries and a handful of raisins as a tasty alternative. It is so easy to get a good variety of dried fruit now, I adore the dried strawberries, they are like sweets, so you can easily adapt this recipe to your taste or the seasons etc.

Nigella's original recipe uses mixed nuts, organic oats, sunflower seeds, sultanas and brown sugar. I have altered the ingredients but kept the quantities the same.
This makes enough to fill a 1 litre storage jar.

Black cherry muesli

200g mixed nuts
200g organic oats
75g mixed seeds
100g dried black cherries
50g raisins
1 tbsp brown sugar.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/ 190c
Put the mixed nuts into a food processor and pulse st that some are finely chopped to blend with the oats and others are bigger to give texture.
Spread the oats, nuts and seeds onto a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes. After 10 take the tin out, give it a good shake so that everything toasts evenly, and put the tin back in the oven.
Then, when it's had its full-time, take the tin out again, give the contents a stir around, and then leave in the tin to cool completely.

Once cool stir through the black cherries, sultanas and brown sugar and store in a air tight container.

What I love about this muesli, is that only 1 tablespoon of sugar is used in the whole recipe, I know dried fruit is high in sugar anyway but it really doesn't need any more added to it. It is so tasty and very good using a dried berry mix (cherries, blueberries, strawberries etc.)
Perfect for breakfast with milk or a dollop of fromage frais.

09 July 2008


Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce.

The Ottolenghi cookbook has been on my Amazon wish list for a while, I finally succumbed and it was well worth it. The cake section of this book had my daughter drooling, she has a list of teacakes I must bake soon.

This recipe caught my eye, and as I had everything to hand, decided to give it a go.

Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce
serves 4
100g sweetcorn kernels (fresh or frozen)
3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
500g minced organic turkey breast
1 free range egg
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
sunflower oil for frying

Roasted pepper sauce
4 red peppers
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
25g coriander, leaves and stalks
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small mild chilli, de-seeded
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
tbsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ gas mark 6. To prepare the peppers for the sauce, quarter them with a sharp knife and shave off the white parts and the seeds. Put them in a roasting tray and toss with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, then roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until soft. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with cling film. Once they have cooled down a little, you can peel them, although it isn't necessary for this sauce. In any case, place them in a blender or food processor with their roasting juices and add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Process until smooth, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Set aside.

2. For the meatballs, place a heavy, non-stick frying pan over a high heat and throw in the corn kernels. Toss them in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes until lightly blackened. Remove and leave to cool.

3. Soak the bread in cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble into a large bowl. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the sunflower oil and mix well with your hands.

4. Pour a 5mm depth of sunflower oil into your heavy frying pan. Allow it to heat up well and then fry about a teaspoonful of the mince mix in it. Remove, let cool a little and then taste. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper in the uncooked mixture to your liking.

5. With wet hands, shape the mince mix into balls, about the size of golf balls. Cook them in small batches in the hot oil, turning them around in the pan until they are golden brown allover. Transfer to an oven tray, place in the oven at 200c and cook for about 5 minutes. When you press one with your finger, the meat should bounce back. If unsure, break one open to check that it is cooked inside. Serve hot or warm, with the pepper sauce on the side.
Simple, tasty food, what more could you want. The roast pepper sauce was fantastic, bursting with colour and flavour, a great recipe.