Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Pie of the Month - June

While baking, caramalised pineapple juices sometimes seep out of these pies.
It is every bit as exciting as it sounds.



(It's getting very close to the end of the month, it really is.)

'Fruit for pudding.' - Surely the most devastating three words to hear in the whole of the English language. They certainly were for me as a child. And even though as an adult I love to eat fruit, I still think that it's no substitute for a proper pudding.

Unless you wrap it in pastry, of course.

Recent discovery: barbequed pineapple is sensational.

Recent realisation: I have never cooked with filo pastry.

(Yes. It's true. We are indeed going to the fabulous place you are imagining.)


I couldn't be bothered to get the BBQ out (and I'm not in the mood to apologise), so I decided that using raw pineapple in these Pineapple Paradise Pies (love me that alliteration) would have to do. It did. Does. Will do. Look me in the eyes and bear witness to my absolute conviction: these are delicious.

3 basic ingredients. A few optional extras. You will celebrate me. Oh yes. You will.

Pineapple Paradise Pies

You will need:

1 ripe (I said RIPE!) pineapple
1 packet fresh filo pastry
50g butter, melted

To serve:

crème fraïche
caster sugar
powdered cinnamon

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Peel and slice your pineapple into small-ish chunks.
  2. Take a sheet of filo and cut in half. Brush each half with butter and lay on top of each other. Repeat to create a four-layered piece of filo (do you copy that?).
  3. Arrange a generous portion of pineapple chunks in the centre and fold the edges up to create a neat little pie package.
  4. Place the packages (you should get 6 - my packet of pastry had 12 sheets) on a baking sheet, brush with butter and bake until brown and crisp, around 15 minutes.
  5. Serve sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and a generous scoop of crème fraïche.

Pie of the Month

Look, it's coming OK. I promise. Well, you try working with dry filo/phyllo/whatever on a hot day, with a flat camera battery, and then tell me how you feel.

Don't look at me like that.

Watch this space.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

Today, we will mostly be appreciating the texture and aroma of these cookies. Mostly.

So I've been reading from the Brothers Grimm, and thought I'd like to share a tale of theirs with you today. Its title is 'God's Food', and I had hoped before reading it that it would be the ideal starting point for me to tell you about my really rather marvellous oatmeal and raisin cookies. Let's see what you make of it, shall we?

Once upon a time there were two sisters. The first had no children and was rich. The second was a widow who had five children and was so poor that she no longer had enough food for herself and her children. So she went to see her sister in distress and said, 'My children and I are suffering a great deal from hunger. Since you're so rich, give us some bread.' However, the sister, who was as rich as a gold mine and also had a heart made of stone, replied, 'I myself have nothing in the house,' and she turned her poor sister away with angry words.

After a while the rich sister's husband came home and wanted to cut a slice of bread for himself. However, as he made the first slice in the loaf, red blood gushed out. When his wife saw it, she became horrified and told him what had happened. He rushed to the widow's house to help her, but as he entered her living room he found her praying and holding the two youngest children in her arms. The three oldest children were lying dead on the ground. He offered her some food, but she declined. 'We no longer desire earthly food. Thanks to God three of us are already content, and He will answer the rest of our prayers as well.' She had barely uttered these words when her two little ones stopped breathing, whereupon her heart broke and she sank to the ground dead.


Sadly not what I was expecting. How was it for you?

Three things:

  1. OMG - what a distressing tale (and misleading title!). Thanks, Messrs. Grimm.
  2. So much for sisterly love. Though a 'please' may have helped the situation.
  3. 'Became horrified' - surely the most fabulous turn of phrase ever, and certainly my new favourite.
Well, anyway, forget all that, because I have got cookies for you today, and they are truly amazing. We are going to be thanking Martha for them, and also halving her recipe, because I find oatmeal and raisin cookies especially difficult to say 'no' to, and have issues with portion control. I do not need 5 dozen of these. If you feel differently, adjust the recipe. Or your frame of mind. I don't think anybody needs 5 dozen cookies.

Apologies. I became horrified and forgot to metricate.

Finally! I have one of those 'stack of cookies and a drink' photos on my blog!

I ♥ Fishs Eddy - if anyone from the company is reading, send freebies.

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

You will need:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp plain flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature (that's 113g)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light muscovado sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, wheat germ, oats, bicarb., baking powder and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together. I just used a wooden spoon, and it took about three minutes; this is easy stuff. Add the egg and vanilla; combine. Stir in the dry mixture and finally the raisins.
  4. Using an ice-cream scoop, make little mounds of the dough on the lined sheet. Squish them slightly to help them flatten out (use a fork, or a spoon).
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes or so, then on a wire rack. Makes about 30 cookies.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Originally posted on the fabulous Ko Rasoi. Enjoy!

This cherry is absolutely necessary.


I'm in a bit of a bad way; these cupcakes have made me question everything I thought I knew about baking and cake. Basically, for me it feels as if the whole world has been turned upside down at the moment.

You see, they are eggless. If you don't bake very much, that might not sound like a big deal, but I promise you it is. It's a big a deal as you can get. I remember learning in Home Economics at school that the lecithin and fat in egg yolks were what gave texture to cakes, and that eggs also acted as a leavening agent, so it never even occurred to me that you could bake without them. I thought they were essential.

Reader: I was wrong.

(An aside: Have I ever told you that I wasn't allowed to take Home Economics at GCSE level in school? Nope. We boys had to do Craft and Design, which I was bitter about for years. I'm over the sexism now though. On reflection neither subject has really shaped my life anyway, and having done CDT at least I know how to use a lathe and make egg cups using a vacuum former. I'm such a manly baker...)

Cherry or no cherry? We're going to need a point of comparison for this...

Back to the eggs: I've heard about this eggless baking lark, and it seems like all the cool kids are doing it. But up until now I've resisted. Some of the recipes call for ingredients that I'd have to buy from ultra pricey health shops (I have a bad habit of spending more money than is reasonable in those places - manuka honey anybody?), or wouldn't use for anything else afterwards (like skimmed milk powder for instance). But then I chanced upon a Depression Era cake recipe on a brilliant little blog I follow, Let Her Bake Cake.


A Comparitive Study of the Relative Beauty of Two Eggless Cupcakes

It has no eggs or butter in it, and yet still looks like one of the best chocolate cakes you could ever make. And even better, all the ingredients are cheap, store cupboard staples that I had in the house anyway. I was all set to become one of the cool kids; it would be just like when I was given my first shell suit.

As a result, I am extending an open invitation to The Cool Kids' Club to all of you, in the hope that you too will try these out. I am not vegan, and I don't avoid eggs generally (which is good, because Mr. Other P adds eggs to everything - curry, pasta, noodles, you name it.), but I am planning on making these again. They are not only the simplest cupcakes I have ever made ( and ridiculously so), but also the cheapest. I'll be honest - warm from the oven, I could detect a slight after taste of bicarbonate of soda, but once the cakes had cooled, it completely vanished. I can't wait to try out some different variations of the recipe and am thinking lemon first and foremost.

Texture.

I have tinkered with the original recipe to make these spiced chocolate cupcakes, since they are for the Queen of the Spice Trail, and also completely changed the method used to make them. Mainly because I was making cupcakes, and not a sheet cake. But also because I like to simplify. It's OK, you can trust me; like I said before, I can operate a lathe.

I don't care if you are vegan, eat eggs, have allergies or don't even like cupcakes. Tell me that this isn't the most perfectly topped cupcake you've ever seen. You can't, can you?

My frosting is not vegan. It is cream cheese. But my friend Lucy used to run a company that made allergy-friendly cakes, so I stole her vegan butter cream recipe for those of you who are anti-lactose. You must decide for yourself which one to use.

I metricated the recipe: love me, love me.

Chocolate Spice Cupcakes

You will need:

225g plain flour
150g caster sugar (or granulated)
35g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
75ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar (use whatever type you have)
2 tsp ground allspice
300ml water

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients gently. You can use a wire whisk.
  3. Add everything else, and whisk to mix everything to a smooth, lump free batter. It will be very liquid.
  4. Transfer the batter to a jug, and pour into cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Remove from pan immediately and cool on a wire rack. Then ice with your choice of frosting. That's right - you have a choice:

Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting

You will need:

100g cream cheese
30g butter
400g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp ground allspice

  1. This was going to be green cardamom cream cheese frosting, but my pods were all dried up. I was devastated, but adapted the recipe and like it this way anyway. Cream the butter and cream cheese together, and slowly mix in the sugar until you get the consistency you like.
  2. Stir in the spice, and use immediately. This is a lovely, thick, rich icing. Enjoy it!

Lucy and Nuria's Vegan Version

You will need:

100g soy margarine
250g icing sugar
1 tsp allspice

  1. Cream everything together using a wooden spoon; that's it! (This is such a great icing.)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Teaser


Guess who has been invited to write a guest post for the fabulous Ko Rasoi?

Yup. Yours truly.

I'm not giving you any spoilers (apart from the photo, of course) - you shall have to get yourself over there pronto and check it out. And make this while you're at it - one word: fabulous.

I'll be posting on Delicious Delicious Delicious as normal from next week. See you then!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Tunisian Chickpeas

Obviously, I added LOTS more coriander, and so should you. In photography, as in diamonds, less is more, darling, less is more.



Once, a long time ago, I went to Tunisia. It was awful; I hated it.

That may not be the best way into this, but it cannot be helped. I just have to start from where I have to start from and we'll get there eventually.

We had bad weather. The food was horrendous. I mean literally awful, appalling slop. Limp salads, dry cakes. Tacky buffet style dining. But I was on a package holiday, so I expected that. I learned from it too. No more package tours for me.

There was one time, when we took a trip on the train (which was quite the experience, let me tell you) to Tunis, that I thought it would get better. We found this place, I forget the name (trying to forget the whole day actually, we almost got kidnapped. I'm not even lying!), in a little back street, and they gave us the most amazing chickpea stew on a bed of couscous. It was hot with the flavours of harissa, thick with tomato pulp, and you have no idea how much we loved it. I still say we ate badly on the whole though, because even this lovely place went and ruined it by bringing us flan to eat for pudding.

Eaten in the garden, after being staged.

NEVER bring me flan for pudding (I mean the crème caramel-type thing, in case you aren't sure.); it really upsets me. Food with that texture is wrong on so many levels, and I have spent too much of my time on this planet gulping it down politely and trying hard not to be sick. I feel the same way about chawan mushi, but thanks be, they don't eat that in North Africa.

Anyway, I forgot about that stew until today when I made the most amazing, approximated version (meaning not authentic!) of it from the contents of my almost bare cupboards (Mr. P needs to go shopping - you cannot make lunch from chocolate chips and vanilla alone). I don't normally put 'throw togethers' on here (unless you count these), but I'm making this again for sure. It's already helped to ease the painful memories of that foul flan - I followed this with a cherry topped, spiced chocolate cupcake.

I think I might have some more lunch for dinner.

(Disclaimer: I have nothing against Tunisia - I just had a bad experience. I'm going to go back one day. Promise.)

Tunisian Chickpeas

You will need:

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
1 onion
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (mine had herbs in; add some garlic if yours are plain)
1 tsp harissa
fresh coriander

  1. Drain the chickpeas. Chop the onion and fry gently in the oil with the coriander seeds and cumin for about 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the drained chickpeas, stir, then add the tomatoes and harissa.
  3. Cook for 5 more minutes, then stir though lots of chopped coriander and garnish with more.
  4. Serve with couscous or rice (if like me, you're all out of the former!).

Friday, 4 June 2010

Asparagus Holstein



The English are supposed to be quite patriotic. I don't think I am, particularly. Certainly, when I see the Cross of St. George, my first thought is, 'Oh no. Football fans...'.

What I do like to see bandied about the place though is the Union Flag. The concept of a happy, unified United Kingdom appeals, and anyway, I was always taught to write 'British' on forms asking for my nationalty, so it is the flag I identify most with.



But whatever. The point is, I found one attached to my asparagus today. That means we're really into British Summertime. Finally! Though the sweltering heat had led to believe this to be the case anyway.

I love asparagus, and I really think ours is the best in the word. This little bunch is going to become Asparagus Holstein, which I know isn't the most British sounding dish in the world, but I read about it in 'Nigella Bites' years ago, and it's my favourite way to eat these juicy, jade-green spears.

It's not glamorous; it's a fried egg plonked onto steamed asparagus. But it's the best first course around at this time of year. Why Holstein? Well, I think that's the name of an asparagus growing region of Germany. If this is how they eat it there too, I may have to pay a visit.

How do you eat yours?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Chocolate Ginger Brownies



I am a well-mannered young man. I always say please and thank you. (Unless I forget.) But I do think that sometimes, just saying thank you isn't enough. You have to mean it. Show it.

To my mind, brownies mean thank you. They say I care. Making brownies doesn't take very long, but then neither does saying thank you. Some people do neither (rude!). But I do both. Maybe they should just put me in charge of the world.

Anything with all these spices in can only be delicious.

Remember I said we'd been getting free eggs from Mr. Other P's work colleague who keeps hens? Well, there's only so long you can take someone's eggs and bake macarons and what-not without sending a little sweetness back their way as a token of thanks.

I obviously advocate expressing appreciation every time someone helps you out (in keeping with my previously discussed status as a Good Manners Guardian, and future world leader), but since I have a copy of Martha Stewart's Cookies which I really should be doing more to work my way through, I leapt at the chance to make something from it.

Perfect brownies. I almost never get them as good as this batch.

I always think that chocolate is a really boring flavour for cakes and cookies, but you can't really look at the picture of the chocolate-ginger brownies in this book without wanting to bake them immediately. I think I'm doing pretty well having owned the book for a year or so and having waited until now. They are incredibly moist, sweetly yet mysteriously spiced and the unbaked batter is darkly, seductively inviting: you almost do not want to bake it.

That one batch yields sixteen brownies is further cause for joy and elation. It means I get to give eight to Egg Lady (or Julie, as she is known in the office), stuff four in a pretty box as a 'Happy Belated Birthday and thanks for having me over' gift for a work friend, and snaffle two each for me and Him Indoors. There's really only one word for this, and it's 'fabulous'.

You'll note metric measurements as well as cups; I, too, am fabulous.


Chocolate-Ginger Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

You will need:

1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
3 oz (75g) dark chocolate, broken into squares
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
2/3 cup (95 g) plain flour
1/4 cup (30g) cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp fresh root ginger, grated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 20cm square baking tin (though you could probably use this batter to make brownie cupcakes too. Just an idea, if you don't have the right sized tin...).
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and stir until smooth. (How easy was that? Going to start saying 'thank you' more often, aren't you.)
  4. Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake until set. I gave mine 30 minutes, and they were per-diddley-erfect.
  5. Cool in the pan, and then cut into 16 squares. Or however many you like.
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