Sunday, July 29, 2012

Easy as Pie

Lamb Pies
We were given a pie maker for Christmas a few years ago and whilst it isn't exactly an appliance I pull out on a weekly basis it is still an amazing gadget (for the kitchen that has pretty much all of them!) All Aussie love a meat pie but who knows what goes into them? Well this pie maker means that I always do! We recently got a bumper slow cooker so I could make multiple quantities of stews to freeze and what great pie filling they make! A quick defrost and then we're a go. I just use the ready made pasty sheets for convenience, cut a few rounds to fit the machine and we're cooking! A great way to engage fussy eater kids and whip up a quick but scrumptious lunch!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

Maggie Beer Inspired Mini Frangipane Tarts
I have been wanting to try making a frangipane tart for a while and when I heard that the Sweet Adventures Blog hop hosted by Dining with a Stud was to be 'nuts' I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it. Having never tried one, I thought I'd better go with a tried and tested recipe, so I found Maggie Beer's Rhubarb Frangipane in an old MasterChef Magazine. I wasn't happy, though not to try something a bit adventurous for the blog hop. My hubbie suggested choc orange as a flavour combo to go with nuts, and when I saw hazelnut meal in Woolies I was convinced that would be a great match. Not content to jump straight into adaptation, I made the original one too but did them in a muffin tin so we could have mini versions of both! They were pretty rustic looking, because the pastry is quite tough to work with in such a small hole, but both worked really well, and they were the perfect size for being able to taste both! Personally I preferred the original with the tart rhubarb, but all the guest loved the chocolate orange hazelnut flavour - rich and gooey with the melted chocolate inside and perfect for chocaholics!

I am not going to post Maggie's Rhubarb Frangipane recipe here, but just the Choc Orange Hazelnut Frangipane. It's based very heavily on Maggie's in the method, but obviously the ingredients differ! Also, I used her pastry recipe with sour cream recipe too - Thanks Maggie for the inspiration today :-)

Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

Maggie's Sour Cream Pastry
100g cold unsalted butter
125g plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
60g sour cream

Blitz the butter, cocoa powder and flour in a food processor till it resembles breadcrumbs;
Add sour cream and blitz again till combined;
Pour out onto the bench and knead until smooth;
Shape, cover in cling wrap and cool in the fridge for 30 mins

Pastry as above
zest of 1 orange
65g unsalted butter
85g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon of orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau would suit - I used Sabra, a Choc Orange Liqueur)
Choc Orange Hazelnut Tarts
1 tablespoon plain flour
100g hazelnut meal
12 squares of dark chocolate
1/4 cup of marmalade
Preheat oven to 200C;
Split pastry into 6;
Roll out cooled pastry till it's about 2 mm thick;
Line hole of a muffin tray with thin pastry;
Trim the edges and smooth out in the tin;
Repeat in 6 of the muffin tray holes;
Pierce the base of the pastry with a fork about 3 times each;
Place in the freezer for approx 15 mins;

Meanwhile, you can start to make the frangipane filling - cream the butter and sugar with the orange zest in the food processor until light and creamy;
Add the egg and beat till combined;
Add the tablespoon of liqueur and blitz again;
Add hazelnut meal and plain flour and process again until combined;

Blind bake the pastry for 10-15 mins (cover the pastry with a small sheet of baking paper and pastry weights);
Remove pastry weights and baking paper and return to the oven for 5 mins, or until the pastry is crisp and cooked;
Remove muffin tin from oven and cool slightly;

Reduce the oven temperature to 170C;
Split the frangipane mixture between the 6 pastry cases;
Push 2 blocks of chocolate into the frangipane mixture;
Put into the oven for 20 mins;
Remove from oven and carefully spread a small teaspoon of marmalade on each of the tarts;
Return to oven for 10 mins or until the filling has puffed up and the marmalade has melted to create a glaze;
Serve warm with thick pouring cream.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Can't cook? Yes you can!

Gary's French Onion Soup
I can't cook is something that I hear many people say! What I don't understand is that there's not much to cooking - at least home cooking that is.

Restaurant quality dishes are challenging and even me as an avid home cook would never have the creativity, food combination intuition or delicacy to put together some of the amazing concoctions that are served in some of the top restaurants.

No, what I am referring to are people who just think that they can't make food like me. I am no pretender, I make it very clear that I just follow a recipe and out pops an amazing dish! What these friends of mine are lacking is the patience to spend time in the kitchen preparing. 

The other day was a great example. I cooked Gary's Masterclass French Onion Soup which looked so amazing on MasterChef that I had to try it! It is such a simple dish - onions , stock, herbs and cheesy croutons. However, I bet the average non cook wouldn't dare - you know why? I spent about 20 mins peeling and slicing onions - the worst job in the kitchen! And then I spent about an hour caramelising then before adding any other ingredients. All it took was time and patience (and a few tissues to wipe the tears from my eyes!) to create a delicious dish. So anyone out there who thinks they can't cook, go on, to the MasterChef website, set aside an hour and a half and you'll see what an excellent cook you can be!
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