On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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A childhood favourite

I bet without even mentioning anything, my Mum could guess which of the things I baked as a teenager would be the “favourite”.

But in case Mum needs a hint. It’s a slice.

A slice is my thing. Cookies are Mr Fussy’s. And all the other things, muffins, cupcakes, loaves and cakes, well they’re all nice too, but if you asked what my favourite type of baked item was, it’s a slice.

And we all know (if you’ve been reading along) caramel is my favourite. And this slice has caramel in it.

Before I get ahead of myself too much I will explain we were in Akaroa this weekend. I was slightly nervous about the non-baking weekend. It never stopped me reading blogs or looking at Pinterest, but I knew it was unlikely I would get the time to bake.

Akaroa is 75km from Christchurch. It’s a French settlement. It’s a tourist spot now and it’s a windy hilly hour’s drive. Mr Fussy loves it. He loves the opportunity to really drive. And it was the first trip to Akaroa in our new car. And Mr Fussy had a ball. We took Yvonne, my Matron of Honour, she didn’t have such a great time in the back of the car as Mark continued to drive around all those corners, changing gears multiple times, braking for corners, then powering out of them. We had to make an impromptu stop, but there was not “decorating the car” as Yvonne threatened put it.

Akaroa

We had hired a holiday home for the weekend. The trip is always worth it. And it was great to see the famous Fish & Chip shop having recently opened. We were last at Akaroa in March last year for our 10th wedding anniversary, and the week following the Fish & Chip shop caught fire and burnt to the ground.

Because of the earthquakes in Christchurch the big cruise ships can’t dock at Lyttelton Port. So they come to Akaroa. Akaroa has benefited, but not been protected from the damage of the earthquakes. Many of their buildings have structural damage and are awaiting repairs, or more likely awaiting the outcome of an insurance assessment. But Akaroa seems to be thriving, despite another the very recent fire, this time destroying the bakery.

This weekend there was a Dragon Boating competition, so the little settlement was heaving with activity.

We made our way back home with more time than I had expected. So I was able to catch up on the weekends usual chores and just have enough time to bake ONE thing.

I don’t know where this recipe came from. From Mum’s family I would guess. It’s called Skites. I don’t know why.

This slice (a bar if if you’re from America or Canada) is unashamedly simple. It comes from a time when there weren’t baking chocolate, or chocolate of varying percentages of cocoa. From a time when icing was just icing. Nothing more than butter, icing sugar and water. Or if you wanted chocolate you added a bit of cocoa powder. Just simple ingredients, nothing fussy, but flavours that I still remember and think back on with very fond memories.

Childhood favourite

I could have changed this recipe to make it more “now”. Glorified it a little with real chocolate “frosting” and a more “real” caramel filling. But I didn’t do those things. I wanted the same flavours as I remember from my childhood.

I scrambled up to the cupboard where all my old recipes are and hoped that I had actually kept this one. I found it. Typed out on a real typewriter. I remember typing up several of Mum’s recipes when I left home. And there is was, on the same piece of paper as Pavlova and Boysenberry Delight.

It was typed in imperial measurements, and I’d missed a vital ingredient out. Which I realised as soon as I had the filling in the pot and it was all melted together. I knew it was missing the brown sugar. It didn’t look or smell the same. So I added what I expected to be the logical amount and it turned out like I remembered.

Ingredients

Skites

Ingredients

Base

  • 125gm butter at room temperature
  • 85gm sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 143gm flour
  • 1 Tbs Cocoa (I used Dutch processed, which of course wasn’t around, but the only Cocoa I had in the pantry)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling

  • 1 tin Condensed Milk
  • 75gm butter
  • 1 Tbs golden syrup
  • 70gm brown sugar

Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups Icing Sugar
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1.5 Tbs cocoa
  • 2 Tbs water

Instructions

Heat oven to 180deg Celsius.

Base

  • Line a Sandwich tin with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar.
  • Add the egg and incorporate (see photo, it wont fully mix in).
  • Add sifted dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  • Spread into a Sandwich tin.
  • Bake 15 minutes.

Filling

  • Put all the ingredients into a pot and heat on medium-low until melted and thickened slightly.
  • Pour over the warm base and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Icing

  • Sift icing sugar and cocoa.
  • Mix in the butter and water until all the ingredients come together.
  • Spread icing over the cooled base and filling.

My Notes:

There’s not a lot of base and you might think it’s not enough for a sandwich tin but it is. I spooned little bits and then used damp fingers to press it in until it was mostly spread out. I then used an offset spatula to smooth and spread it evenly in the tin.

A Sandwich tin is 20cm X 30cm (8” X 12”), and yes, it’s a metal tin.

The original instructions had the base baking for 20 minutes and the filling poured over when it was hot. I chose to bake the base for 15 minutes then put the filling on and return to the over for a further 5 minutes (20 minutes all up). This cooked the caramel a little more. I remembered that some times the caramel was still a little sloppy and would ooze out a bit. But watch you don’t end up cooking the caramel until it burns.

I put the icing on a little too soon and it almost melted a little on the top. Because the light was disappearing too fast I had to work faster than I wanted to get a slice and take photos. The icing hadn’t set properly.

The base isn’t crunch or hard or dense, it’s almost cake-y.

Feel free to “tart” up the recipe replacing the very humble chocolate icing for an icing made of chocolate.

In actual fact my recipe just said “When filling set ice with chocolate icing”. That’s how it was when I was a kid. Everyone knew how to make icing. You didn’t need to weigh or measure anything. You just knew Smile

Base & Caramel

See how the caramel filling wanted to bubble up and cook a little too much. Just watch for that. Though it’s handy for seeing where the oven cooks fastest.

Skites

Mr Fussy has never had Skites. He was happy to scrape the pot out of the remaining caramel filling. But I’ve never made Skites since we’ve been married. He seemed happy enough with it. But I don’t think it holds a special place in his heart like it does mine. It tasted how I remember it.

Hopefully the icing is fully set because it’s time to finish cutting it up and putting it away. I suspect there might be one piece less to put away when I get going. It’s an occupational hazard Winking smile

Slice of Skites

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Garfield food (aka Lasagne)

For some reason I seem to be making dinners that I’ve not made in donkey’s years (that’s a really long time, in my case 20+ years).

I give you Lasagne.

Lasagne3

There are things I’d change, but we’ll get to that.

I don’t think I even need to say that I trawled Pintrest looking for a recipe, right? I guess it was timely that I also saw a tweet from a chef giving his “secrets” to the perfect Lasagne.

I love looking at recipes and deciding what I do and don’t like about the ingredients and the instructions to making a dish. As it turns out I took the things I liked from this recipe, and this recipe.

lasagne2

My plan had been to have this for dinner Sunday, and I was of the mind to make it on Saturday so that the flavours could mature a little. I expected to be making it during the evening, but the 29 deg heat put an end to my afternoon run, so the time was spent making the meat sauce instead. It was really nice having Mum’s company while I was busy tossing this all together and waiting for the liquids to simmer away.

Ingredients_for_lasagne

I have never before used lasagne sheets. I was somewhat nervous but can you believe I couldn’t find lasagne other than the small stuff. Cooking the lasagne (or noodles if you please) first wasn’t a problem, I wasn’t concerned about the few extra minutes that would take. But I wanted large pieces of pasta. I was actually expecting the lasagne would be a bit like cardboard not having had enough sauce to soften it. But it was OK. And when I say OK, I mean OK. It’s one of the things I would change. And that’s not a problem anymore because during Sunday afternoon we bought a pasta maker, this is before the Lasagne was assembled. But learning how to make the dough and figuring out the pasta maker is a little more pressure than I needed with just an hour before I was putting this altogether.

dishing_up_lasagne

So let’s see what I did with merging the bits of the two recipes I liked.

Lasagne

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 3 garlic clove, smashed then minced
  • 1 pound minced beef
  • 1 pound minced pork
  • 100gm tomato paste
  • 2 x 410gm cans peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups Red Wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 200gm Gruyere Cheese
  • 275gm Mozzarella
  • Lasagne

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil to a large pot along with the onions, garlic and carrot. Cover with a lid and cook over medium low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. The moisture released by the vegetables should keep them from burning, but if they start burning, turn down the heat and add a little water.
  • Once the onions are cooked, remove the lid and turn up the heat, sautéing until the mixture is 1/3 the original volume and starting to caramelise.
  • Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the beef and pork. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the clumps.
  • Add the milk and boil, continuing to break up the clumps until the beef is cooked and there is no liquid left.
  • Add the wine and boil until most of the liquid has evaporated and there is no smell of alcohol remaining.
  • Add the tomatoes, using your hands to crush them into small pieces, and then add the tomato paste, salt, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper.
  • Simmer the sauce over medium low heat until it is thick (30-40 minutes).
  • Place the oven rack in the top position and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Put the Mozzarella and Gruyere in a bowl and toss to distribute evenly.
  • Assembly
  • Put down a layer of sauce that’s just thick enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Cover with the pasta, cutting the pasta as necessary to fill in the spaces. Repeat so that you have 3 layers of pasta.
  • Once you have 3 layers of pasta, finish by spreading the remaining meat sauce on top of the last layer of pasta. Cover with enough cheese so that you cannot see any sauce underneath.
  • My Notes
  • No bake pasta is really hard to cut (when your sheets don’t meet the edges of your lasagne dish. Another reason for using different pasta).
  • I loved squishing the tomatos between in my palms. It was almost therapeutic.
  • I was a little worried I didn’t have enough meat sauce for the size of dish. You know, the first is just enough to cover the bottom, then the next you’re a little tentative because you still have another layer. You could measure the meat sauce after covering the base so you know just how much you need.
  • Because the meat sauce was cold it wasn’t so easy to just “spread” around. Instead I had to place clumps and then press it down on the lasagne, hoping the pressure wasn’t too much and would crack the pasta (another thing that wont be a problem is you’ve parboiled pasta, or made your own).
  • My dish was 32 by 22cm. The amount of meat sauce was just right. I didn’t need to worry, but there wasn’t a scrap left.
  • stages_of_cooking_meat_sauce

assembling_lasagne

So there we have it. A dish I’ve not made for such a long time. I have ordered it when we’ve eaten out on occasion. It’s not like I’ve gone cold turkey Winking smile

So what did Mr Fussy think? He wasn’t fussed on the pasta (he’s not alone) but agreed that this was quite tasty.

Yep, I’ll make this one again, probably before another round of donkey’s years pass. When I get the hang of the pasta maker and looking for some way to use the pasta I think this will be the perfect place to start.

lasagne1

I got 8 servings out of this. Which was way more than we needed for the 3 of us, but it’s meant that we had another really easy meal during the week (tonight).


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Lemon Curd Muffins

Lemon_curd_muffin

Let’s overlook that these muffins are glazed. Okay, you can’t really overlook that. Let’s not talk about the humble muffin, that little sweet/healthy  snack that seems to be getting closer and closer to a cupcake and further from a healthy snack.

Good. So we can continue on.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of lemon. Of all citrus. Well maybe not so much on Grapefruit.

It was time to make a lemon muffin. But not just a simple muffin. I didn’t want a sugar/lemon zest topping. The past two muffins have each had something similar on top.

I got to thinking about the Lemon Muffins at Muffin Break. They have a really thick gooey dollop of lemon “something” in the middle. That’s what I was aiming for.

I made the lemon curd that I’ve had in the past. That was Friday night. The curd was easy and quick to make, especially if you’ve got lots of frozen packs of lemon juice tucked away.

I’d found a recipe which was “the best”. It was for Blueberries but I figured it should work for lemon too.

Ingredients_for_lemon_curd_muffins

I was looking forward to this recipe since it used both buttermilk and oil. One of my favourite types of recipes.

The recipe was specifically written for a muffin so I didn’t go wrong like last week’s Rhubarb Crumb Top muffin recipe which I adapted from a cake recipe and mistakenly creamed the butter and sugar.

muffin_mixture

As is expected when you’re not over mixing, the batter is still a bit lumpy, and there’s evidence of some flour not quite mixed in completely.

I was expecting 12 muffins but got 15. So the extra 3 from my muffin tin I decided to play around with. I not only added a dollop of lemon curd into the centre, but I also put another dollop on top and then swirled this in. I almost expected that I’d be disturbing the middle dollop.

making_lemon_curd_muffins

When I put the top bit of batter on I sort of did it in such a way as to lay it over the tp by starting from one side then moving the spoon to the other. This seemed to work well but I still had to check that they were “sealed” and there wasn’t any curd poking out the side.

The photo below was one of the last 3 where I added the extra dollop on top and swirled it into the batter.

Inside_lemon_curd_muffin

There’s not nearly as much curd “blob” as I wanted. Boo.

That doesn’t mean to say these are no good. But they’re not “the best” of anything like I had in my mind. The muffin still tastes like lemon, but it’s quite subtle, and given I rather more than less, it is a little disappointing. But that’s just my preference. There’s no reason not to make this recipe. And I wonder if it works better with the blueberries that it was originally for.

So onto the recipe then?

Lemon Curd Muffins adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe: The Best Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 240gm sugar
    2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    57gm butter, melted and cooled slightly
    1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Lemon Curd
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cream (or milk)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 190deg Celsius.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Whisk sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick, about 45 seconds.
  • Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined.
  • Whisk in the buttermilk and lemon juice until combined.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy with a few dry spots of flour – don’t overmix. This is the key to moist and tender muffins.
  • Spoon enough batter to cover the bottom of the muffin case.
  • Place a small teaspoon of lemon curd into the centre of the batter.
  • Cover the lemon curd with enough muffin batter to fill the case 2/3rds full.
  • Bake until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Cool muffins in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool.
  • Make the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar, cream (or milk) and lemon juice.
  • Dip the tops of the muffins in the glaze.
  • Leave the muffins for an hour or so to let the glaze set.

whisking_egg_and_sugar

The 45 seconds whisking the egg and sugar felt like forever. I’ve got a new whisk having recently busted my previous one with one of the metal loops having come out of place. The new whisk (a KitchenAid) has a shorter handle. I’m not sure if that was a contributing factor, or my weak shoulder from surgery and my lack of strength exercise. But you can see how thick I got the eggs and sugar.

glazed_lemon_curd_muffins

Despite a few dribbles of glaze, these have in fact set. And I’ve put them in the freezer already glazed. I can confirm that they defrost fine and you wouldn’t know the glaze had been done ahead of the freezing.

Of course you don’t have to glaze them all. Or you could double dip them if you want a thicker cover. I had glaze left over. I’ve frozen that in a zip lock bag. Who knows when I’ll find a use for them. I’m thinking cinnamon rolls or something along those lines.

glazing_lemon_curd_muffins


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Pavlova, a New Zealand staple

LCPav

There’s a tussle between New Zealand and Australia about who owns the Pavlova recipe. As far as I’m concerned, because I’m a NZer, it originated in New Zealand.  Besides, when I was living in Melbourne and I saw what they did to our Pav, I feel safe in saying it’s ours. What I saw while living in Australia was the beautiful pav being baked then unceremoniously tipped upside down onto a plate. What?! The indignation didn’t end there. The next thing was whipping up cream using normal granulated sugar. I mean given we live so close, our cultures are so close, they sure did muck about with ruining one of our national delicacies. Yes I know I’m winding people up and I’m expecting some backlash. That’s what the Aussies and Kiwis do. We dig and poke and point and call names but deep down we all get along famously and respect our cousins from “across the ditch”.

Ingredients

Given a Pav has so few ingredients it has so much going for it. I guess in some ways it’s a blank canvas. There are so many possibilities to the way you decorate and garnish a pav. You never lose it’s sweetness (yes it’s sweet), it’s delicate crunchy outer or its fluffy marshmallow inside.

Marshmallow

To achieve all this you need to understand a little about soft and firm peaks. Whipping egg white is straight forward but there’s still the possibility of overdoing or underdoing the whipping.

Peaks

When I begin, I start really gently. Getting the little air bubbles in the whites are so important, and it’s delicate. So you need to start slowly before gearing up into a full on whip. I’m not sure if you can see so clearly in the top two photos that the egg white is still quite loose. You can see it still a little bit foamy. This is the soft peak stage and the point at which you begin to add the castor sugar (fine granulated sugar).

You need to make sure the sugar has been properly whipped in. There shouldn’t be any grainy feeling when you take a little of the meringue mixture and rub it between you finger and thumb. There’s a fine line. You don’t want to over whip the whites and end up with a dry mixture. You still want it to be glossy.

After folding the cornflour (which is what makes the inside soft and marshmallow) and white wine vinegar you get to pile it sky high on a plate.

 Skyhigh

No, that’s obviously not how I left it. But it was fun.

Baking at the right temperature is really critical too. So long as all the sugar has been fully incorporated then you wont end up with any weeping as it bakes. Actually the more I write the more it seems like baking a pav is for the brave-hearted. But truly it’s not.

If you look at the following group of photos you’ll see how the pav changes as it bakes. I started out with a pav that had very straight sides, albeit at an angle. You can see that it expanded (the parchment paper helps you see this) and flattened as it baked.

BeforeAfter

One of the beauties of a pav is its whiteness. Again achieving this (and one of the hardest things I find) is down to the temperature of your oven. I’d say this is the best pav that I’ve baked when considering all of the things you’re looking for in a pav. And I’ve baked quite a few over the years. Each time you move house and have a new oven it’s like you have to start the experiment all over again until you finally have a meeting of minds with your oven.

LCBowl

I served the pav with Lemon Curd Cream. It’s the first time I’ve done that. I’ve only really heard about making Lemon Curd Cream when I was looking around for a Lemon Curd recipe. I made the same one I did prior to Christmas. It did not disappoint. Lemon Curd Cream is nothing more than using equal quantities of lemon curd and whipping cream. Gently whip the cream then fold in the lemon curd. It was spectacular with the pav. Even if the weight of it made the middle of my pav collapse and then spill out when I cut into the pav. That was completely forgotten when I took my first mouthful.

LemonCurdPav

Because of the way I shaped the pav, this pretty much became a bowl for the lemon curd cream. What a great way to serve up the lemon curd cream.

I also had some frozen mixed berries which were taking too long to thaw, despite another 30 degree summery day. So I put them into the new Kenwood mixer/blender/masher thingee we recently bought and blitzed them a little and then mixed in a little icing sugar. We spooned the berry mixture over the lemon curd cream. Delicious. Really it was.

Pavlova – by Donna Hay (yes she’s Australian!)

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
  • Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, beating well until the mixture is glossy.
  • Sift the cornflour over the mixture
  • Add the vinegar and fold through.
  • Pile into an 18cm-round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
  • Place in the oven, reduce the heat to 120°C (250°F) and cook for 1 hour.
  • Turn the oven off and allow the meringue to cool in the oven.
  • To serve, top with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
  • Serves 6–8.

My Notes:

Two of the four egg whites had been frozen since 17 November last year. I took them out of the freezer the night before and left them in the fridge.

Pull the whites out of the fridge the following day. The whites should be at room temperature when you whip them.

Wipe every thing that will be in contact with the egg whites with vinegar. I wipe out the bowl, the whipping attachment and the spatula all with a bit of white wine vinegar dabbed onto a piece of kitchen paper. Any trace of fat, oil, grease can prevent the whites from expanding.

I use a 9 inch circle of parchment paper. I put a small dollop of pav in the centre and then turn it upside down. This stops the parchment from sliding around on the oven tray.

I use a spatula to make furrows around the outside of the pav essentially making a bowl. Don’t hollow the pav out too much from the centre.

Expect the pav to both expand and flatten a little.

I used 1 cup of cream (35% fat) and 1 cup of Lemon Curd to make the filling.

This easily serves 8 people. Pav is sweet so you don’t need a lot. But who cares about need, it’s all about want. And you will want more of this.

Extras

Do you know what would be the horror of all our insistence that NZ or Australia were the creators of the Pavlova recipe, if someone else claimed they were first. Then you’d see both Kiwis and Aussies join force. And we have done battle together in the past (ANZAC), we’d do it again.

You can find out what the Wikipedia has to say about Pav from this link. And by the way, isn’t that an unattractive photo of a Pav. Surely they could have found a better example.


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Buttermilk Scones

IMG_7137

Not long ago I tried my hand at making scones with none other than soda water and cream in place of butter. It was revolutionary to me. And it was damn good. I’ve made them several times since.

I had yet another carton of buttermilk begging to be finished off. I’d found the recipe for Buttermilk Scones when I was looking for none other than a Blueberry Muffin recipe. As is common for me, as I go looking I end up weaving my way from one blog to the next and I’d come across Blueberry Buttermilk Scones.

By now I’d used all my blueberries in this and this. And I wasn’t sure if I had enough buttermilk to actually make the scones.

As a last minute thing, with Sunday lunch looming I decided to measure out the buttermilk. I had exactly 1 1/4 cups. I needed 1 1/4 cups. Clearly this was a sign I should proceed and try my hand with buttermilk scones.

So here goes.

Stages

Blueberry Biscuits by One Lovely Life, barely adapted.

Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients

  • 3c flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups mixed berries (don’t thaw if using frozen)
  • Instructions
    • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
    • Add the butter and combine with a pastry blender or two forks or in a food processor until very crumbly. The pieces should be no larger than peas.
    • *If desired, you can prepare the dough up to this point and refrigerate up to 1 day until ready to continue.
    • Combine egg and buttermilk and pour into dry mixture.
    • Add blueberries or other fruit, and gently stir with a fork until just combined.
    • Flour the bench and turn dough onto the bench.
    • Pat out to a square, about ¾″ in thickness.
    • Being careful not to slice all the way through, slice into 16 squares, keeping the dough in one large piece.
    • Carefully transfer scored biscuits to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this is easier with a spatula or a bench scraper).
    • Bake at 200  degrees for about 15 minutes, or until tops are just golden.
    • My Notes:
    • I used frozen mixed berries. I find frozen berries a little less sweet and flavoursome.
    • I sprinkled the top of the dough with castor sugar to give it a little additional sweetness.
    • I put my dough directly onto the Silpat and patted the dough out into a square. Even if I didn’t have a Silpat I’d have been inclined to do the same directly onto baking paper. That means it’s easier to transfer to a baking tray.
    • I can’t recommend enough a dough scraper. That’s what I used to “score” the squares. It’s a little safer than using a knife, especially when “cutting” directly onto the Silpat mat.

 

You can see the butter still sitting in the dough. Using frozen fruit meant that as it started to defrost during shaping, it was leaking juice into the dough. You could actually feel it squishing in the dough. Given the colour went quite grey I was pleased the tops baked nicely and lost the grey colour.

Scones

If I were to make these again (and they are a good way to use up left over buttermilk) I wont used mixed berries. The Sujon brand, which is my preference, has whole strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. The fruit really is a bit on the large size for scones.

Don’t be put off making these if you don’t have buttermilk on hand. You can make buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Stir it and then leave it to sit for 5 or so minutes. By that stage you should see some clumping and you’ve got yourself buttermilk. Easy as.

I wasn’t sure if Mr Fussy would be that fussed with these. He’s pretty particular about his scones. They must have passed whatever scale he uses since he’s wrapped up some left over scones to take for lunch.


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More blueberries, lemon and a tart

Continuing my enjoyment of blueberries, I spotted a tart recipe while searching for a Blueberry Muffin recipe.

Meet the Blueberry Lemon Shortbread Tart.

BlueberryLemonShortbreadTart

I still had 250gm of blueberries left from the bags I bought at the Amberley Farmers Market. This tart recipe required a pound. By my math that’s 500gm. I was short. Despite blueberries being in season, they’re not cheap. It worries me slightly when I calculate the berries alone cost $16.00. This is not a cheap dessert. I’m going to have to start charging!

This recipe also didn’t turn out the same as the recipe I used. I think there’s a mis-interpretation of what “thick” is when it came to beating the eggs and sugar together, essentially creating a sponge, which is referred to as a custard in the recipe.

Steps

Because I had “thick custard”, the topping more than covered the blueberries. If you look at the recipe I followed you’ll see how our finished tarts look quite different. Which also meant eyeballing the tart while it was baking was different too. I could see the custard. Not that it helped me understand if it had baked properly. It started to brown so I placed a piece of tin foil over the cake tin. But then I made a bit of a boo-boo when I was lifting the tin foil off to check how the tart was baking. And I accidentally lifted part of the top. Which in some ways was lucky because I could clearly see that it hadn’t baked all the way through.

Bugger

I’ve tried to cleverly take photos hiding the roughed up top as best I can, but now you know, you can see like the tart, I’m not perfect.

With my tart essentially being 3 distinct layers, cutting it cleanly wasn’t so simple either. I thought about trying to touch up this piece, but it seemed too fiddly. And sometimes when you try to fix something you end up making things worse. Believe me, I’ve been there. So I left well enough alone, and for that, here’s what this lovely fresh tasting tart with its slightly crunchy base looks like.

slice2

At first I thought it was pleasant enough, but then I found myself really enjoying it. The subtle taste of the lemon in it was just enough. Which is an odd thing for me to say, because I love citrus and would normally have said more is better. But the subtleness kept me coming back for more, it was almost a tease. Mr Fussy was warned that if he didn’t pick up the pace I’d be helping him clean his plate. He is a slow eater though. Or is it me that inhales my food? Actually it’s both, which makes both his slowness and my speed more pronounced.

Originally this recipe came from Rachel Ray, and it was for a Raspberry tart. But as is encouraged, variations are welcome. And so the recipe I followed was for blueberries, a very good variation.

I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, other than ending up with a thicker “custard” by comparison to the photos. The following is straight from Lick the bowl good’s blog.

Blueberry Lemon Shortbread Tart

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (1 pound)

Shortbread Crust:

  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Lemon Custard:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup juice)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Drain the blueberries in a strainer set over a bowl. Preheat the oven to 400°.

For the shortbread crust: Using your fingers, combine the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar and 11/2 cups of the flour and blend together until coarse crumbs form (I used a pastry blender to incorporate the ingredients, but a food processor works well too). Pour the mixture into an ungreased nonstick 9-inch springform or cake pan and press down evenly to form a crust. Bake the shortbread crust until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.

Remove the shortbread from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°. Scatter the drained blueberries evenly over the baked shortbread.

For the lemon custard: Beat the eggs with the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until thick and pale yellow. Whisk in the lemon zest, the lemon juice and a 1/4 cup of flour. Pour the lemon cream over the raspberries.

Bake the tart until the custard is set, about 30 minutes (My tart took about 50 minutes for the custard to set in the middle). Let cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar.

NOTE: The top of the custard doesn’t brown much so it’s hard to tell if it’s done, but it shouldn’t be wet and liquidy. The custard is done when it firms up in the center. This may take longer than 30 minutes.

My Notes:

My oven was set at 190 degrees Celsius for the shortbread and for the tart 160 degrees.

It may pay to put a baking tray on a lower shelf. My tart leaked toward the end which resulted in an unplanned oven clean.

Because my sponge top (or custard) was thick it created a layer on its own meaning it was clear to see if it was browning. You may need to cover the top of the cake pan with a piece of tin foil to prevent the top from over browning. Or don’t beat the egg/sugar mix thick, leave it runny so it just settles in around the fruit but doesn’t cover it.

My tart baked for 50 minutes like Monica from Lick the bowl good found.

 

I had Mum and my nephew over for dinner. Is it wrong that I was counting how many slices would be left and knew there was enough for dessert tonight?

Mum asked if I ever made any of the recipes a second time. I do. There’s several I’ve made twice, sometimes more. And this recipe will be another. Though I’ll be waiting until I see blueberries on sale. ASlice


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Ginger & Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Goodness

GooeyChocolate

Yay, I finally made brown butter. There are so many recipes that I could choose, so many. But I chose these Ginger Chocolate Chunk hunks of cookie. I read the recipe during the Christmas holidays and had it earmarked for my brand new Silpat mats which Mr Fussy put with my Christmas present (thanks to me ordering them).

BrownButter

I actually wasn’t sure if I might have burnt the butter. I’ve never made it before. But from what I’d read I’d “know”. But how? So the night after making the cookie dough I went through YouTube watching how others made it. Gosh there are so many ways. Well essentially they are all the same, but whether you put it into another bowl after it’s browned, and whether you put it through a sieve. Well all those things seem to be up to the individual. So I just did what I thought was right. For better or worse.

GingerChocolate-2

CookieDough

I mostly followed the recipe I used for the Chocolate Pistachio Cookies by David Lebovitz. I left the dough overnight in the fridge and rolled the dough and sliced it rather than rolling balls, flattening them and then leaving the ready made cookies in the fridge for 12 hours. I just don’t have that sort of space to do that.

Baking

Anyway, this recipe can be found here. I’m copying it word-for-word despite having changed the method as described above.

Ginger & Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients

  • 11 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
    1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, that’s I Tablespoon)
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons fresh ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
    1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    Fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional but highly recommend)

Instructions

  • Melt 10 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan (set the remaining 1 Tablespoon aside).
  • Cook over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns brown and develops a rich nutty aroma- about 5-8 minutes, depending on the heat. {Note: The butter will go through a “foamy” stage, once it settles down, keep a close watch on the colour.}
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
    In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the granulated sugar and fresh ginger.
  • Use your fingers to rub the ginger into the sugar until it’s slightly moistened and fragrant; Set aside. {Note: If you’re using ground ginger, just toss it in with the dry ingredients.}
    In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar (and ground ginger, if using instead of fresh).
  • Add this mixture to the bowl of granulated sugar/ginger.
  • Whisk to combine. Add the cooled brown butter and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter.
  • Using the paddle attachment, beat on med-low until you’re left with something that resembles clumpy, wet sand. 
  • Add the egg and beat on low until just combined.
  • Switch over to a large rubber spatula and fold in both chopped chocolates.{Note: My batter was a tad dry, but once I started forming the dough into cookies, it became more cohesive.}
    Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. For each cookie, measure out about a 1/3 cup of dough. Form each into a ball, place on the cookie sheet, and flatten slightly (to a little less than 1/2-inch thickness).
  • Once all the dough has been measured out, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and chill for about 12 hours. {Note: The longer you chill the dough, the better the flavour!}
    When you’re ready to bake: Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Line another cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place about 4 cookies on the sheet–leave about 1-inch of space between each cookie.
  • Sprinkle with a little bit of Fleur de sel (if using). Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden in colour. {Note: My cookies were perfect after 9 minutes.} The cookies may look uncooked in the middle but they will firm up as they cool. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for about 8 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

My Notes:

I used Whittaker’s 72% ad 62% chocolate.

I left the cookies on the tray until they had cooled before moving them to a cooling rack.

My temperature was 190 degrees Celsius for 11 minutes. I turned the rack part way through baking.

I got 15 cookies.

CookieStack

The Ginger is subtle. Though Mr Fussy said his last mouthful (of the cookie we shared) had a bit of ginger in it, so he got was pleasantly surprised. As for whether these cookies “cut the mustard”, he said they were good, but didn’t stand out above any other chocolate chip cookie.

I love how the chocolate is still melted even when the cookie is properly cool. So while I have the Rhubarb Crumb Topped muffins for my lunches this week, Mr Fussy has these cookies.

Cookies&Milk

Last word belongs to the Silpat mats. Mr Fussy has used them numerous time or fries or battered fish, but this was my first time for baking. I was pleased with how the bottom of the cookies baked. And more so the Buttermilk Scones I made for lunch too. There was so much frozen berries in them, so a high content of moisture, but the bottoms were still nicely browned and baked.