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    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    Hot Cross Buns - An Oldie But A Goodie

    It's Good Friday and I got up early, to make Hot Cross Buns for Breakfast
    It helped that I was awake reading, no alarms needed in this house, to get me out of bed

    Zorra Kochtopf is holding a Bread Baking Day Event.
    Blogwarming Party, Please Bring Bread
    Zorra is a German Blogger that I follow
    When Zorra does the round up of all the recipes, I will post the link for all to see
    Bread Baking Day #57 - Blogwarming Party - please bring Bread! (Last day of submission April 1st, 2013)

    So I reckon, these lovely buns would be welcome anywhere
    Any other time of year,  just don't pipe the cross on top and they will be Spicy Fruit Buns
    The recipe is actually really easy.
    It does require some kneading and time, but that is not difficult
    4 teaspoons (14g) dry yeast
    1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
    1 cup (250ml) warm milk
    4 cups (600g) plain flour
    3 teaspoons mixed spice
    3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
    80g butter, chopped
    1 cup (160g) sultanas
    2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed peel
    1 egg, beaten lightly
    1/3 cup (80ml) warm water, approximately

    FLOUR PASTE (For Crosses)
    1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
    2 teaspoons caster sugar
    2 tablespoons cold water, approximately

    1 tablespoon caster sugar
    1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
    1 tablespoon water


    Combine the yeast with one tablespoon of the sugar and all of the milk in a small bowl;
    whisk until the yeast is dissolved.
    Cover the bowl and stand in a warm place (on the door in front of a very slow oven is ideal) for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.

    Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large bowl;
    Rub in the butter.
    Stir in the remaining sugar, fruit, yeast mixture, egg and enough water to make a soft dough.
    It took a couple of extra tablespoons of water to get a nice soft dough.

    Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for about one hour or until mixture is doubled in size.

    Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes
    When you knead push the dough out to stretch it
    Then pull it back over and in
    Turn over and keep going till it is smooth and elastic

    Divide the dough into 16 portions;
    Place hand over the dough and using a circular motion, roll the dough into a ball.
    Place the balls, almost touching, on a large greased oven tray.

     Stand in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until dough is almost doubled in size.
     Preheat the oven to 220 deg C (200 deg C fan-forced).

    To make crosses
    Sift flour and sugar into a small bowl;
    gradually stir in enough water to make a smooth thick paste.
    Place the Flour Paste into a resealable plastic bag and snip a tiny piece off one corner.
    Pipe crosses onto the buns.

    Bake the buns for about 15 minutes or until buns sound hollow when tapped.
    (I think I took them out after 12 minutes... they could have done with a little more time)

    Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a small pan and stir over low heat, without boiling,
    until the sugar and gelatine are dissolved.
    Transfer the buns to a wire rack and brush the tops with the Glaze.

     Butter and some Jam...Yum

    Best Prawn Pasta - Quick and Easy

    I always like to keep Prawns in the freezer.
    Quick thaw and you have a meal that is quick and easy and luxurious.
    This dish is in 3 easy stages
    For 2 people 
    So for the Prawns
    First grab however many prawns you would like
    I like plenty!
    Thaw them
    2-3 Tablespoons Olive oil
    Zest of 1 lime
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    The Vege
    1 medium red onion finely chopped
    3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
    2-3 tablespoons vinaigrette
    1-2 chilies finely chopped
    S & P

    The Pasta
    100 gms per person of penne or fusilli 
    whichever you have in the pantry

    Juice of the lime
    Handful Chopped Coriander
    Save a few leaves for garnish

    When the prawns are thawed
    Marinate them in the Olive oil S & P and lime zest
    In a gratin dish

    Season the onions, tomatoes, chili  and pour over the  vinaigrette
    Set aside

    Let the prawns and the tomatoes and onion marinate for about 30 minutes

    When you are ready
    Heat the oven to 210C

    Bring a pot of  salted water to the boil
    Add the pasta and cook for about 8 mins
    Meanwhile pop the prawns in the pre heated oven
    Cook for 6 minutes

    Remove from oven and set aside

    While the prawns and the pasta are cooking
    Place the Tomatoes and onions into a saute pan
    Just gently warm them through

    Now your 3 stages are ready

    Add  prawns juice and all to the tomato mix
    Add lime juice and chopped coriander
    Taste and check for seasoning and adjust if necessary

    Add Pasta
    Toss well
    Serve and garnish  with some extra coriander leaves
    and Voila

    Friday, March 22, 2013

    Spiced Lamp Pita Bread - Kid Friendly Dinner

    Joseph and Mia holding a note. I think they held it for about 20 seconds Much to the amusement of their Grandfather
     Miss Cleo enjoying her dinner

    I saw Rachel Allen make these stuffed Pita Breads on one of her programmes and got the recipe from the site
    I thought it would be excellent for the Kids for Dinner

    They all loved it
    It was lightly spiced... perhaps a bit bland for adults I think
    Nevertheless it was tasty
    I doubled the spices and have noted that in the recipe below
    I also added some  Homemade Tomato Chutney
    I like that added extra


    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed or finely grated

    2 tsp turmeric
    2 tsp ground cumin

    2 tsp ground coriander
    450 g minced lamb
    225 g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm cubes
    75 g frozen peas

    Large dollop of Tomato Chutney
    To serve

    4-6 pita bread
    Greek Yogurt


    Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan on a high heat and, when hot,
    Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
    Fry, stirring frequently, for 6–8 minutes or until the onion is cooked and golden at the edges.

    Add the spices and mince and cook for 4–5 minutes or until the mince loses its raw colour.

    Tip in the potatoes and 50ml of water then cover with a lid.
    Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 8–10 minutes
    or until the potatoes are just tender.
    Add the peas and cook uncovered for a further 2 minutes.

    Shortly before the spiced mince is ready, toast the pita breads and
    Pour the Greek yogurt into a small serving bowl.
    Season the cooked lamb to taste and serve with the toasted pittas and the bowl of yoghurt.

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Best Comfort Food - For The Love of Leeks

    I love Leeks. This isn't exactly Jacques Pepin's recipe but he inspired me to make this.
    Leek Gratin (a Traditional French Dish) is braised Leeks, covered with Cheese sauceTopped with Breadcrumbs and grated cheese
    Baked till bubbly

    I decided to top with mashed potatoes
    Give it the New Zealand touch!
    This makes it a real filling meal

    You can make this Gluten free by substituting flour with cornflour
    As simple as that
    Leeks were cheap at the Supermarket this week.
    I was thrilled, they are so delicious. So sweet and such a pretty colour

    Normally I slice them and saute them in a little butter or oil
    Season with salt and pepper then add about 100 mls water
    Just enough to steam them
    Cover and cook for about 5 8 minutes till they are just tender

    Great base for a Fish Pie also to have as an accompaniment to your favourite protein

    But this recipe is Braised Leeks
    Smothered with a Cheese Sauce
    Topped with Creamy Mashed Potatoes
    I don't make a puree...just normal old mashed potatoes suits me

    Baked and served when bubbling and golden brown
     For 3 greedy people

    2 leeks with hard green leaves removed

    For the Roux
    4 tablespoons butter 
    4 tablespoons flour
    1 teaspoon mustard, I used Dijon
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups milk, warmed
    2 bay leaves

    3/4 Cup Grated cheese. 
    I used Gruyere which is a traditional cheese for Bechamel Sauce

    Extra butter or Olive oil Spray

    3 large potatoes peeled and cubed
    Hot Milk
    Cook the potatoes, till tender
    Add the hot milk
    Add cold butter and beat till it reaches the consistency that suits you

    Clean the leeks and cut into pieces
    Place into a pan with the bottom just covered with salted water
    Lay the leeks in one layer
    Bring to boil and simmer covered, for about 10 minutes
    Till leeks are just tender.
    Drain, reserve the liquor for the sauce
    There won't be a lot
    Place into a gratin dish

     Meanwhile make your Bechamel Sauce
    First make your Roux

    Melt butter
    Add flour
    Stir well and cook out the flour taste, about 3-4 minutes
    Season with Salt, pepper and mustard
    Meanwhile warm the milk with the bay leaf
    Add to roux
    Stir briskly and then use whisk to make sure there are no lumps
    Add the cooking liquor
    Bring slowly back to boil and cook for about 5 minutes
    Add grated cheese 
    Adjust seasoning if necessary
    Pour over leeks
    Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top
    Spread around, and then fork it
    This gives nice peaks to make brown crispy bits
    Either dot with some extra butter. or as I did spray with an olive oil spray
    Bake in 180C oven for about 30 minutes till brown on top and bubbling
    Guaranteed to delight

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    Excellent Lamb and Mint Pasta - Kid Friendly Food

    When I have the kids over on Thursdays I like to treat them like any other Dinner Party Guests. 
    Let's introduce them to new foods, as well as cooking old favourites
    Time to do some research.
    My MYSKY was full of Cooking Programmes that I hadn't viewed 
    I thought, two of my favourites Giada de Laurentis and Jacques Pepin would probably have something delicious for the kids

    The dinner got thumbs up from the kids

    Correct... I found a great Lamb and Mint Pasta Dish from Giada
    This was a Lamb Ragu, I served it over Penne
    It would also make an excellent Shepherds Pie
    This amount fed 4 kids and 2 adults 
    I made my own Marinara sauce and also I used white wine. 
    Use what you have I reckon... and lamb takes white wine as well as red

    500 gms penne pasta

    For the Lamb Ragu
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 shallots, chopped
    500 gms ground lamb
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup red or white wine

    4 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or home made
    1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
    1/2 cup ricotta cheese

    Homemade Marinara
    This is one of the most simple sauces, well worth making extra and keeping in the freezer
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 onion chopped
    2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    1 carrot chopped
    1 stick celery chopped
    2 cans chopped tomatoes
    Sea salt and Freshly ground black pepper
    1 tsp sugar
    2 bay leaves
    Little water 

    Place on pan on medium heat add olive oil
    Add onions saute gently till soft
    Season with Salt and Pepper
    Add garlic, carrot and celery

    Saute another 5 minutes
    Add tomatoes
    Wash the tins out with a little water
    Season again with S & P and sugar

    Bring to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes
    Set aside

    Meanwhile, in a large skillet warm the olive oil over high heat. 
    Add the shallots and the garlic and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
    Add the ground lamb, salt, and pepper. 
    Cook until the lamb has browned and the juices have evaporated.
    Add the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon.
    Simmer until the wine has reduced by half.
    Add the marinara sauce and simmer over low heat until the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Add the mint and ricotta and stir until mixed.

    The Pasta
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. 
    Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally,
    about 8 to 10 minutes. 
    Drain pasta.
    Add the  cooked pasta and stir to coat. Serve immediately.
    And a Chocolate Roulade from Monsieur Pepin 
    This is from his Essential Pepin Website

    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup water
    6 large eggs, separated
    6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
    2 tablespoons very strong coffee

    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
    1 tablespoon icing sugar

    Preheat the oven to 190 degrees, with a rack in the center.

    Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan, 
    bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes to make a light syrup. 
    Put the egg yolks in the bowl of a mixer or another large bowl. 
    Slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over the yolks, mixing vigorously with the whisk. 
    Continue whipping the mixture for about 5 minutes, until fluffy, smooth, and pale yellow in color. 

    Add the melted chocolate and coffee and mix well.

    Whip the egg whites in a large bowl until they hold firm peaks. 
    Add about one third of the whites to the chocolate mixture and mix vigorously with the whisk. 

    Add the remaining whites and fold in with a rubber spatula, mixing just enough to combine the ingredients; 
    do not overmix.

    Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to line a 12- by 16-inch baking sheet (or use a nonstick baking mat). 
    Butter the paper and coat with flour, shaking off any excess.
    Little trick with the paper
    Butter 1 half of it

    Fold in half to spread the butter

    Place in baking tray

    Lift and turn over and push into place in tin
    this stops it from slipping

    Spread the batter in the pan; it will be about 1/2 inch thick. 

    Bake for about 12 minutes until set and puffy. 
    Cool to room temperature; then cover with plastic wrap. 
    (Rolling the cake is a delicate operation, but the wax paper aids in the removal and rolling of the cake. 
    The plastic wrap keeps the cake moist, making it possible to be rolled.)

    Whip the cream until it holds a soft peak. 
    Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and kirsch and continue beating until the cream is firm.

    Remove the plastic wrap and slide a knife all around the sides to loosen the cake. 
    Spread the raspberry puree on the cake top with whipped cream 

    Starting from a long side, roll up the cake, with the wax paper still on, 
    peeling the paper off a little at a time as you roll the cake; 
    avoid pressing down on the cake as you roll, so that the whipped cream is not squeezed out. 

    Continue rolling and removing the paper, and 
    finish with the seam underneath so that the cake looks smooth on top. 
    Use two large spatulas to slide the cake onto a serving platter. 
    Put the icing sugar in a sieve and shake it over the cake to coat the top. 
    Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Cut into slices and serve.
    It needs whipped cream on the side to "cut down the richness" 

    Saturday, March 09, 2013

    Lovely Buttery Veges, Well Seasoned, some Water and Voila Summer Green Soup

    It’s Sunday, I decided that I didn’t want to go to the supermarket.
    End of week… so use up vege in the fridge
    I was reading Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries and he is inspirational,
    It was his phrase, “There’s something jolly about peas boiling”

    I just got up, mid sentence
    I knew I had frozen peas, then
    Looked in the fridge and I have made the “bestest” soup

    2 tablespoon butter
    1 med potato chopped
    3 spring onions chopped
    3 courgettes chopped
    1 cup frozen peas
    1 tablespoon Vegeta vegetable stock
    8-10 mint leaves
    Salt, freshly ground black pepper  and a pinch of sugar

    Sauté potatoes in butter
    Add Vegeta and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    Stir make sure well covered in the melted butter

    Add a little water and let reduce for about 5 minutes
    Add courgettes, spring onions

    Sauté again about 5 minutes

    Add peas, sauté about 5 minutes
    Add enough water, just to cover
    Add sugar,
    Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
    Bring to boil and simmer about 10 minutes
    Add chopped mint


    This was so good, it’s a keeper, will make it again