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    Sunday, December 18, 2016

    A Crisp and Crunchy Salad for Christmas

    All the colours of Christmas
    Perfect to sit on The Christmas Table
    I got the idea for this salad on The Bon Appetit Website
    Of course I have adapted it to make it mine and yours in fact

    I love the dressing that was supplied was supposed to go with the salad
    you will find it at the bottom of the post
    But somehow, I don’t think these Asian flavours would go with Turkey, Ham, Stuffing Balls
    So I dressed the vegetables with a Tomato Dressing

    Very simple
    Just make a French Dressing
    Into a jar put

    6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
    1 tsp French Mustard
    Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

    Shake well, leave aside till you need it

    Take 6 Cherry tomatoes
    Cut into quarters
    Marinate the tomatoes in about 4 Tablespoons of the French dressing

    Now prepare the rest of the salad

    3 Lebanese Cucumbers, very thinly sliced
    4 small radishes, trimmed, very thinly sliced
    200 gms Green Beans cut in half diagonally    

    2 bowls of Iced water
    Tomato Dressing
    Chives finely chopped 

    Place cucumber, radishes,
    in a colander set inside a bowl of ice water.
    Press down on vegetables to submerge.
    Let soak, stirring occasionally, until very firm and crunchy,
    at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
    Drain and pat dry.
    Meanwhile, cook the beans in a large pot of boiling generously
    salted water just until their colour intensifies and they are
    barely softened, about 1 minute.
    Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer to a large bowl of
    salted ice water (use about 1 Tbsp. salt for every litre of water).
    Let vegetables cool;
    Drain and pat dry.

    Arrange the drained and dried vegetable in a serving plate
    Add the tomatoes
    Toss gently
    Cover with chopped chives
    Now if you wish to make this salad with the Asian Dressing

    Omit the tomatoes and Toss with this dressing
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
    ¼ teaspoon sugar
    Sea salt, freshly ground pepper

    I shall be trying this after Christmas

    Friday, December 16, 2016

    Simple Italian Style Sponge - Turns into a Lovely Christmas Dessert

    Italian Sponge Cake Pan-di Spagna
    I had some egg whites in the fridge, left over from the lemon curd I made the other day… WHICH was supposed to go on top of a Pavlova…THAT I was supposed to make for some friends who were coming for lunch
    I had found the recipe for this Pavlova on The Epicurious Website
    Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berries
    The inspiration for this recipe came from food stylist (and New Zealander) Toni Brogan.

    The lunch got postponed,
    What to do with the Lemon Curd?
    It keeps well in the fridge

    So I saved it to give the Grandkids for dinner a few days later
    Lemon Curd Recipe
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/2 stick unsalted butter
    3 large egg yolks
    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

    Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan,
    then add lemon juice and butter.
    Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking,
    then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute.
    Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup lemon mixture,
    then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan.
    Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened,
    about 2 minutes (do not let boil).

    Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest.
    Chill, surface covered with parchment, until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.

    With half of the prepared curd
    I put together some little tarts
    Which were really delicious

    I used shop bought pastry shells
    To be honest...hardly worth making them
    Lovely Crisp Pastry and every one of them perfect

    Whip around 100 mls of cream
    Fold the cream into the curd gently until mixed
    Lovely pale lemon colour
    Fill the little cases and top with little blueberries
    Into the fridge so that the lemon mixture sets
    These are wonderful…thumbs up from the kids

    So what to do with the other half of the curd
    “my waste not, want not frame of mind…
    Use the egg whites
    Didn't want to to make a Pavlova
    Thought… maybe an egg white sponge ?

    I thought, this recipe for Italian Sponge Cake
    “Pan-di Spagna" that I found on a website
    was a sponge made using egg whites

    WRONG…turns out it is whole eggs. I read it incorrectly
    Oh well, into the freezer go the egg whites
    I shall use them on another day

    The recipe suggested using Cake Flour…not all purpose
    I found out how to make that
    You can find anything on the web
    Have a look here
    Easy peasy
    So now, I was completely ready

    Ingredients for a 18-20 cm (7-8 inches) pan.
    120 grams granulated sugar
    4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or vanilla extract (optional)
    120 grams cake flour, sifted


    Take out the eggs out of the fridge ahead of time
    or soak them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
    Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C
    Butter and flour a 20 cm (8 inch) pan.
    Put the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer.
    Beat the eggs until very fluffy and pale yellow (about 15 minutes on medium/high speed).
    To test that it has been beaten enough, let some of the mixture fall into the bowl.
    If it remains "sitting" on top it means that it's ready.

    Spoon the flour on top of the egg mixture, a little at a time, and fold it gently with a metal spoon.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
    Don't smooth the top or bang the pan on the counter, leave it as it is!
    Don't open the oven door for 20 minutes
    I found that the cake cooked in 30 minutes
    I tested it with a skewer (or a tooth pick)   

    Turn off the oven but leave the cake inside (put a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it slightly open) for at least 10 minutes so it can cool down slowly.
    After that, remove it from the oven, let it cool for 10 more minutes,
    loosen around the edges with a knife, then flip the cake on a wire rack upside down
    (without the pan) to cool completely.
    Take the remainder of the Lemon Curd
    Combine with Whipped Cream
    Gently fold with a metal spoon

    Cut the cooled sponge in half with a bread knife
    on the bottom half 
    Spread the lemon mix
    Cover with sliced strawberries 
    Whip some extra cream and spread over the other side
    Sponges can get a bit dry so cream it up well
    Sift icing sugar over the top
    Looks Great