Whats leek got to do with it?

So as part of not eating endless bad food I had a good dig through my Save with Jamie cookbook. Because I'm a bit of a fan (hubby buys me a Jamie cookbook every Christmas) and those recipes have the nutritional information on them.

I got a bit excited about trying his Leek and Potato soup….mostly because it had a poached egg sitting proudly on top. (And yes, I'm well aware that I over cooked my egg, but I'm not wasting an egg for a photo. I'll do better next time. Promise.)

So last night, I gave it a go, and was surprised to find I liked it! Although I'll be granted, a bowl of green soup is not necessarily the most eye-pleasing dinner.

Jamie Olivers Leek and Potato Soup

from Save with Jamie, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 leeks, washed and chopped
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
  • olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 750ml boiling water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, poached
  • 2 slices of nice bread

Fry off the leeks and onion with a lug of olive oil and the thyme for about 15mins. Add the potato and water, bring to the boil and simmer for 25minutes until the potato has softened. Blitz with a stick mixer and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Poach the eggs, and toast your bread before splitting the soup between two bowls and topping with a slice of bread and an egg (or two if you're my husband).

 

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Sconing it up

Every now and then things get real in our house. And we realise we've gotten carried away, and have to be super strict on what we eat to get it back into control.

This last two weeks has been like that, and its BEEN HARD. We are foodies. Maybe not fine dining, multiple courses, fancy cutlery foodies, but WE LOVE FOOD. Honest, big serves of deliciousness.

And I have an addiction to baking.

Saturday it got bad. Really bad. My fingers itched, and I couldn't cope with the idea of not MAKING SOMETHING over the weekend. So I went simple, avoiding a trip to the shops where I could be tempted by more and made the simpliest thing I could. And I made them small, heavily portion controlled, and I just ate one.

These are the easiest, with the fewest ingredients. And when you're craving a bake, its a fast way to satisfy the urge.SCONES my friend. SCONES. My earliest baking memories are of my paternal grandma up to her elbows in a big blue bowl making scones.

Basic Scone Recipe

from taste.com.au

Ingredients

  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 80g butter, cubed
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups milk
  • cream or butter and jam to serve

To make

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with parchment.

Sift self-raising flour into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter into the flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the centre and add 1 cup of milk. Mix with a flat bladed knife until mixture forms a soft dough, adding more milk if required.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Don't knead too much or your scones will be tough.

Pat dough into a 2cm thick round. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Place onto baking tray, 1cm apart.

Sprinkle tops with a little plain flour and bake for 20-25minutes until golden and well risen.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When you've given up being patient, scoff with jam and cream or butter.

 

Impossible leftovers

Friday nights are tricky in our house. Generally, we are both knackered from long weeks, and while I used to think cooking something magnificent was a great idea, now I'm more concerned with using up whatever we haven't used during the week. Despite being away for most of the week last week, I was surprised at my choices, so I settled on something that wasn't quite a quiche, wasn't really a pie, but was seriously tasty and used up everything we had left.

Of course it lends itself to endless alternatives, depending on what you have to hand. Nothing here is set in stone.

Leftover quiche

Ingredients

  • Frozen puff pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 6 eggs
  • A splash of milk (or cream if you have it)
  • Diced bacon
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Green shallots
  • A handful of leftover green beans
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, diced
  • A handful of leftover baby spinach
  • 1 chopped, deseeded tomato
  • 6 good pork sausages that you found in the bottom of the freezer cut into chunks
  • Olive oil
  • Feta
  • Salt and pepper to taste, and whatever other herbs take your fancy (garlic would be good!)

Line your chosen baking dish with puff pastry, then baking paper and whatever you use as pie weights and blind bake for 15mins or so.

Meanwhile, fry off your bacon, potatoes, onion, and the sausages in a lightly oiled pan. Add your green beans, shallots, baby spinach and any additional herbs you might fancy, before taking off the heat.

Once you're pastry is ready, remove the baking paper and pie weights and add your fried off ingredients.

Lightly beat the eggs, milk, feta, salt and pepper and pour over the entire pie. Give it a bit of a shake to encourage it to seep into all the nooks and crannies.

Pop it back into the oven (about 200 C) for around 20-25minutes. Once golden and lovely, pull it out of the oven and let it sit for as long as you can bear to. We had ours with some garlic bread. A really good chutney or relish would work well too!

 

 

 

German, Cinnamon and too much syrup

On Saturday it was my brother-in-laws birthday, and while there will be a party in two weeks, I was part of the quieter celebration on the day

In the morning I watched my sister organise the beef for the German Sauerbraten and the gravy base it was made in. There is something lovely about leaning over someone else’s countertop and just watching while they move around in their own kitchen. A confidence in knowing where everything is, and how temperamental things are (despite not being about to find the chinois). Just before lunch we worked together to make a Cinnamon Bundt Cake, which was Lukas’ request for his birthday cake. I left not long after it went into the oven, and returned for a quiet double date dinner with a lot of excitement for the result.

Before my husband and I returned for dinner, my sister had made a cinnamon syrup to pour over the cake, and once we all had drizzled some over our slice there was a lot of giggling and tom foolery about the general mucas-like consistency.

Dinner was Bretzel, German Sauerbraten, mashed potato, sauerkraut and an impreesive gravy that took three days to make. The recipe included ginger snaps! AMAZING! My sister wanted to eat it with a spoon.

The Bundt cake was dense, and thankfully not particularly sweet, but with a wonderful almost Christmasy quality to the flavour. A scoop of vanilla ice cream was essentially to balance out the syrup. Once we’d all had a slice, the remaining syrup (mucas?) was poured over it for the greater family get together the following day.

German Sauerbraten

The hero of this is the marinade. It’s:-

450ml red wine
125ml red wine vinegar
2 onions, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
8 juniper berries, slightly crushed (I ignored this quantity and put in at least double – just poured them out)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
8 black peppercorns (again, I ignored this and probably put in about twice that)
8 cloves (yep, you know what I did here)
2 bay leaves

You boil it on a high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Then you need to get it to room temperature.  The meat is beef brisket, which I had to ask the butcher for (it’s not too expensive either – 1.1kg cost me $10.43).  You put the meat in a non-metallic dish, pour the marinade over it, cover it and put in the fridge for up to four days, the longer the better.

You’re supposed to turn the meat twice a day, but I will admit to forgetting a couple times.

When you’re ready to cook it, you need to make sure you have LOTS OF TIME.

You take the beef out of the marinade, pat in dry,season it with salt and pepper and then rub 2 tablespoons of plain flour of it.  Then brown it on all sides in a fry pan with a little oil.  Take it out, and pop it in your slow cooker.

Next, fry off two sliced onions with a chopped carrot and a chopped celery stick for about five minutes, until the onions are soft.  Pop those into the slow cooker. Finally, strain the marinade, discard the solids and add the liquid to the fry pan.  Add 350ml of beef stock, bring it to the boil and boil until reduced by half.  Add that to your slow cooker.

Now we play the waiting game!  Cook on high for 2 hours, then switch to low and leave it for 8 hours (or the beef is tender).  Take out the beef, and then it’s time to make some gravy.

Add two tablespoons of flour and four tablespoons of cooking liquid together in a small bowl and make a paste.  Then add that back to the slow cooker with 8 crushed gingernut biscuits and stir until smooth.  Slice the beef, smother with the gravy, add some mash and sauerkraut and you’re done!

Sophie’s Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Cinnamon and Vanilla Syrup Adapted from Donna Hay Issue 76 ‘Coffee, cinnamon, hazelnut and ginger bundt cakes with spiced vanilla syrup’ Ingredients for the Cinnamon Bundt Cake

  • 275g unsalted butter + extra for greasing the bundt pan
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour, sifted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons black coffee
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons milk

To make the cake Preheat the oven to 160C. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and combine with the mixture. In a small bowl, mix the coffee, cinnamon and milk into a paste. Add the paste to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Grease your bundt tin, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the tin. Pour the mixture into your greased tin. Tap the tin on the bench a few times to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed, and smooth the top. Bake for 40-45mins, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Invert tin onto a wire rack without removing the tin and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove the tin and let the cake cool completely on the wire rack. Ingredients for the Cinnamon and Vanilla Syrup

  • 3/4 cup (180ml) water
  • 1 cup (220g) castor sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bea, split and seeds scraped

To make the syrup Place the water, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, lemon juice, vanilla bean and seeds in a meduim saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until just combined. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes, without stirring, or until thickened. Discard the vanilla bean and transfer the syrup to a bowl to cool completely. To assemble Place the cake on a pretty plate, or cake stand. Drizzle with syrup. Get in before the greedy hoards.

Sydney Food Adventure

Ok, so the five days I spent in Sydney were not all about food. I actually travelled down for work, which is distinctly NON food related, but took the chance to enjoy eating things I wouldn’t perhaps have at home.

I love the chance to do two things, revisit places I know, and find places that are new, either based on accidentally finding awesome, or other peoples recommendations.

Our first day, we had woodfired pizza, blueberry friands, and because we worked from 5.30pm our office catered and Indian buffet style feast, which I always enjoy.

Sunday was a free day, and I visited a tiny bakery called ‘The Flakey Tart’, but they seemed to be a bit unsure what they are doing. We’d been there six months ago, and it seems to have changed hands, so maybe they are still learning the ropes. I hope so, and will visit again next time to see if they are a bit more confident. My breakfast muffin was ok, but I left wishing I’d ordered something else.

Coffee and chocolates at Guylian kept us going after the endless kilometers we walked from Milsons Point through the Rocks, Circular Quay, and just touching the edges of the gardens before hiding in the Opera House while it rained. It was nice to sit down with a mocha and people watch for a little while.

A walk through Pitt St Mall, and a burger at Charlies & Co before the long walk back to Milsons Point. I know we should have caught a train at this point, but it never occurred to us.

Charlie & Co burgers

I was exhausted, and collapsed in my hotel room, before being tempted out a few hours later for a beef salad at an Italian place I’ve endlessly been curious about, but never brave enough to go in.

Thai style beef salad

The next morning, with aching feet and legs was breakfast of porridge and coffee (not the instant stuff!), and lunch was one of my favourites from a busy noodle shop.

Malaysian noodles

That night for dinner as we walked with no clear destination we could smell a dish from across the road. It was amazing, and all that was needed to tempt us inside for another Indian feast.

Blu ginger – amazing Indian

Ice cream sundae

Pistachio ice cream

Toast and coffee followed the next morning, and lunch was a very tasty baguette with pork belly and salad. Dessert? A giant peanut butter cup (which the bakery called a chocolate and salted peanut tart).

One to share, chocolate and salted peanut tart

We headed into Harts Pub for dinner and beers, which was a lot of fun, and a tasty beef and leek pie and a couple of different beers later made for a giggly walk back across the Harbour Bridge.

Wednesday was the strangest breakfast ever. Foolishly I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, but didn’t realise how weird it would taste when I agreed to a blueberry bagel. Lunch was a Red Lentil and cauliflower burger with jalapeno and chipotle sauce. Just wow. So good. But sadly I don’t have a photo. If you’re at The Commodore and it’s still on the menu, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Then in the airport, a very disappointing, mostly uneaten pecan tart. I think it surprised my travel companions that I got so cross and vocal about the quality. Covering it in a white chocolate drizzle made it too sweet, and whatever they used to thicken the caramel (not sure if it was gelatine, or some kind of sultana based mush) was just strange. It was flavorless and excessively sweet, and now I’m determined to make my own. Keep an eye out for an Angry Pecan Tart post.

Disappointing airport pecan tart….

While I very much enjoyed my time in Sydney, and yes, I did do an awful lot of my real job too, it’s very nice to come home to Brisbane. Especially when my still reasonably new husband was waiting for me at the airport.

Not-so Frenchie

The second series of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Save with Jamie’ has been showing here on Tuesday nights, and occassionally, I manage to catch it. (Despite my love of Jamie’s cooking, I refuse to plan my life around what time a show is on).

One week we watched Jamie make his ‘Frenchie salad’ and we replicated it the next night. And, our thoughts were, white wine vinegar is more subtle than apple cider vinegar, and this could work with other things too.

Last night I needed a side to add to my Chicken and Veggie Lasagna (there is a post to come on that) and thought a salad would be great. Plus leftover salad would be perfect for my lunch. So I made Frenchie salad, but swapped chicken out for bacon and chorizo, added some baby spinach, and a slight sprinkle of feta.

Its definitely Jamie inspired, but now I’d like to think its my own.

Cookie’s Frenchie Salad

Ingredients

  • 400g tin lentils
  • 1 round lettuce
  • a big handful baby lettuce
  • 200g green beans
  • 2 chorizo sausages, diced roughly
  • 200g diced bacon
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 or 4 eggs, if you like

Method

Put the lentils in a frypan with just a little of the water from the tin, a splash of extra virgin oil, and a splash of white vinegar. Heat through on a medium heat tossing occassionally while you get on with the rest. If they start popping, then take them off the heat. They’ll be fine until your ready to put all your elements together.

Fry the chorizo and bacon in a separate pan until crispy.

Put a saucepan of hot salted water on to boil. Meanwhile top and tail the beans.

Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put them in a jug big enough to make your dressing in. Add your crush garlic, mustard, honey, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set to one side.

Boil the eggs in the boiling water for 6 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon, and run under cold water. Put your beans straight in the boiling water for 4 minutes or so. You really don’t want to overcook them. Drain and pop them in with your lentils (which you will definitely have removed from the heat by down).

Peel your eggs when they are cool enough to touch, quarter and pop in with the lentils and beans.

Once cooked, add your bacon and chorizo to the lentils as well.

Cut your lettuce to suit yourself, and add the lettuce and baby spinach to the lentil pan. Pour over your dressing, sprinkle with feta, and dig in.

I had the leftovers the next day for lunch and that worked really well too!

 

Chocolate E’clairs

wpid-Photo-20140907002041.jpg

The messy, but finished product

This is one of those things that I’d long ago pegged as much to hard. Too many elements, too much to go wrong, and without a stand mixer, just too tricky. Then of course I got my beautiful KitchenAid and realised, that perhaps….perhaps it was time to quietly have a go. And I mulled over that for a little while, and let my fingers itch with anticipation of tackling something new.

Then, one of the blogs I follow made them, and made it look easy. So I cleared my weekend, bought the ingredients I was missing, and made my first attempt.

Which went in the bin before I made the crème patisserie.

What I was missing was a calm, patient hand when piping the pastry. I also need to adjust the bake time, as it was devastatingly to short.

Then I had pastry shells which, while still having room for improvement, were definitely acceptable for a first attempt.

Second attempt at the pastry

Second attempt at the pastry

Then I found a white chocolate crème patisserie. So simple, so easy, and the chocolate ganache almost made itself. Added bonus? Mixing the left over ganache and crème patisserie into my ice cream maker for another day. All kinds of delicious.

These babies have an extraordinarily short shelf life. So try to make them the day you want them. That being said, I made them Sunday, and ate the last one Thursday, and it was ok.

Chocolate E’Clairs – from zoebakes.com

make the crème patisserie (white chocolate pastry cream) first.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks (freeze your whites for another bake)
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces
  • 2 tablespoons white rum (optional)
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Method

In a pan, heat the milk and half the castor sugar over a medium heat until simmering. In a separate bowl combine the yolks, remaining sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Once the milk has come to a simmer, ladle a small amount out (I used a 1/4 cup for this) and whisk it into the egg mixture to warm it up. This prevents the eggs from cooking too quickly. Keep doing this until the mixture is warm to touch, then whisk the whole lot into the pot of milk.

Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil, whisk it vigorously for about 3 minutes so that you are sure to cook the cornflour. Whisk in the vanilla, rum and butter until its smooth.

Place in a large bowl and immediately whisk in the chopped white chocolate.

Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Pâte à choux (cream puff dough)

Makes quite a lot, so have plenty of hungry mouths ready when you’re done.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon castor sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature if possible

Method

Preheat the oven to 425oF. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rapid simmer. Dump the flour in all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon over a low heat. Because I cook with a dodgy electric stove top, I had two elements going, one on a medium heat to get everything to a simmer, and another on a low heat that I swapped to once the flour was added.

The dough will come together as a smooth ball and the bottom will have a skim of dough stuck to it. This happened faster than I thought it would. Remove the dough from the pot, and place in the bowl of your stand mixer. Which should be fitted with your paddle attachment. Beat well in between adding each egg individually. Depending on your mixer you may need to scrap the sides of the bowl down between eggs.

Once it comes together as a smooth paste and is thick enough to hold its shape, then you’re all ready for piping.

My cheap disposable pastry bags didn’t come with a nozzle large enough, so I just cut the end of the bag of at a point that suited me. The trick I’ve found is to pipe SLOWLY, this is not a raise. Push as much dough into each pastry shell as you can along about a 3 inch line on your parchment paper. They’ll spread sideways a little, but you don’t need to leave miles of room.

This is where I varied from the original recipe. I baked my eclairs for 15 minutes at the high temperature, then I dropped it to 375oF for the next 25 minutes. Keep an eye on them, everyone’s oven is different, and my first attempt using the lower temp, and a much shorter cook time was a complete fail. When you drop the temp, rotate your trays and swap shelves.

Once baked, let them cool to room temperature.

Ganache

This ganache never sets hard like tempered chocolate, so don’t expect it to crack when you bite into your eclair.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Method

Heat the cream to a simmer. Add the chocolate, swirl the pan to cover the chocolate with the cream and allow to sit for 2 minutes.

Gently stir the cream and chocolate together. You don’t want to whip too much air into it or it won’t be smooth and shiny.

Assemble your eclairs

Cut your eclair pastry shells open along the side with a sharp knife.

Gently stir the pastry cream and pipe it into the pastry shells. Don’t be stingy here!

Dip into the ganache, or paint on and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Welcome

Hi.  I’m Cookie.  No, not a sweet endearment, term of affection, or a delightful baked treat. This name is a hangover from being about 4 years old, and having an penchant for singing ‘C is for Cookie and Cookie is for me’.  Seems to have stuck.  Seems to have quietly fostered a desire to bake, cook, create and repeatedly destroy my own kitchen, and occasional fry pan. Some clever sausage suggested I join the thousands of other people blogging about food.  That clever sausage is probably right, but, I’m a bit inconsistent so we’ll see how I go with commitment.