Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Weekly menu - 29th June 2010

 We are still trying to use up the contents of the freezer and the weather here in the UK has been pretty warm so to much cooking has not been high on the agenda. I have a big stash of gluten free bread rolls I got cheap so have been to a large extent been living on salad sandwiches with lots of mustard and cress which I have a really like of currently. I'm waiting on a bunch of seeds to turn up so I can try a whole range of micro salad which is really just the same as mustard and cress just different plants, basically sprouts allowed to grow so they have leaves as well.

This weeks ingredient for the gluten free menu swap was picked by Celiacs in the House and is cabbage. I must admit we mostly eat cabbage in the winter but I do like it cut up thin and fried with a bit of sugar in other words what Chinese takeaways here call crispy fried seaweed ! The recipe she has posted sounds very good as well and I may have to try more things like stuffed cabbage it sounds like a good plan to me.


Monday - roast chicken with boiled new potatoes direct from the allotment (the potatoes not the chicken, we haven't started keeping chickens yet though I would like to.)

Tuesday - Rice or pasta with chicken from Monday.

Wednesday - Hotdog sausages stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon served with creamed savoy cabbage from the IKEA a recipe a day cook book.

Thursday -see what is left to eat up and base something on that.

Friday - Tomato and Eggs.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Daring Bakers do Chocolate Pavlova

The June 2010 Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This recipe is gluten free without any adaptions which is a really nice change from most Daring Bakers recipes. However Audax explained to us the difference between the recipe we were given and a traditional Australian Pavlova and his description of the meringue made me very much want to try his version. I have had pavlova a good few times, after all it can be the only dessert I can have at many places.. well that or icecream, however they are nearly always with fairly crispy meringue not the sort he described. The challenge recipe was much more like the ones I'm used to so I decided to use his way of doing it to see the difference. Audax said "Aussie pavlova has a very thin crust that is dry and crisp while the inside is soft and chewy like the lightest marshmallow you have tasted."  The difference is mainly in the cooking method.

I made my meringues as individual portions using the sort of rings you use to shape rosties and so forth, like a big biscuit cutter though the pudding is so rich we ended up sharing one ! I didn't make the pouring sauce to go with it, well I started and made the custard a few days ago but then hot weather and grumpy kids meant I didn't get round to the rest and it went off :(  We are having very hot sapping weather currently, well for us anyway I know from some places it would just be average but us Brits don't do heat !

I really liked the soft middle of the meringue and will certainly consider doing them again like this rather than the crisp meringue I'm more used to so thanks Audax for showing us the difference.. see his post for a look at what the inside of a big Aussie Pavlova looks like it's so different to a standard meringue !

The mousse is fabulously rich and I still have lots in the fridge so do be aware the recipe below makes quite a lot. I don't believe it is possible to have to much chocolate mousse but if you only want enough to top a 3 egg pavlova you might want to cut the recipe in half!

Recipe - Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Choc meringue
Instructions are mostly Audax's adapted to make it chocolate as per the challenge recipe.
To get crisp meringues as per the original recipe cook at 200º F (95º C) degrees for 2-3 hours and leave out the cornflour and cream of tartar.

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons cornflour (corn starch)

Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F). Dust lightly with 1/2 teaspoon cornflour a sheet of baking paper place on a baking tray. Place a 8” (20cm) x 2.5" (60mm) springform cake tin without a bottom as a container to hold the whipped egg whites on the floured baking paper (This size form is for 6 egg whites so you would need a smaller one for the 3 egg whites this recipe is for. I use three smaller rings to get individual ones.)

2. Using an electric mixer on the highest setting, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a narrow deep bowl until soft peaks form (using a narrow deep bowl ensures the beaters are well into the whites and will build up the greatest volume). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornflour with the last tablespoon of sugar. Dissolving the caster sugar should take about 10-12 mins if using normal granulated sugar about 15 mins. (Test mixture by feeling a small amount of the meringue between two fingers if it is grainy beat longer.)

2a) To make chocolate meringue - Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

3. Spoon meringue into the springform cake tin. Shape the uncooked meringue using the springform cake tin as a guide into one giant meringue. Remove the springform cake tin and place the uncooked meringue cake into the oven. Reduce oven to 100°C (212°F). Bake for 1½ to 2 hours or until dry and crisp, test by tasting a teaspoon of the meringue from the top if it doesn't taste of egg it is done don't worry about the small hole made by this testing it will be covered by the topping. Test at 1½ hours and then every 15 mins until ready. Turn off oven and cool completely in oven (pavlova may sink and crack during cooling). 
I used smaller rings and they were done in 1 hour.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse  1 ½ cups (355 mls) double cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice) (I didn't use this as I was feeding it to small people)

  1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
  2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
  3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.
For the pouring sauce follow the link to see more Daring Bakers !

Monday, 21 June 2010

Weekly menu swap starting again

 A small but very fragrant posy from the allotment

It's been ages since I posted a weekly menu or participated in the Gluten Free Menu swap and while our food planning is better than it was I have noticed we are slipping a bit again on using things up at the right time and so on and so I am going to start again !

This weeks host is Gluten Free Goodness and she picked raspberries which we love. The ones on the allotment are just starting to colour so we might have a few this week if we get them before the birds or finally finish the fruit cage so we can cover them properly! It is very nearly done now.

I'm working through our freezer at the moment to clear it out so a) we eat the things that we never get round to and b) it can have a proper clean, these things need doing every now and then after all.
As a result the menu is based mostly on that and rather more meat based than I would normally do  as I try to do several vegetarian or very meal light meals every week but most of what we have left in the freezer to eat is meat now.

Monday - Pasta and mince

Tuesday - Omelets

Wednesday - Beef stew

Thursday - Fish pie

Friday - Roast Chicken with vegetable terrine

Monday, 14 June 2010

Daring Cooks - pate

I only seem to be doing posts for Daring bakers and cooks currently. I am going to try and get back into other posts I've just been busy so on the computer less and off actually doing things more which can't be a bad thing really.

So on to the challenge !

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

The various recipes covered most options and we love pate here so I was determined to try at least one. The vegetarian version I've made before and in fact made several to help cater an event late last year so I decided to make the Three Spice Liver Pâté: adapted from Ravenous Couple, which was inspired by White on Rice Couple.

I will copy the recipe below and like most pates it is really very simple to make.  I did make one or two adaptations. We dislike totally smooth pates so I kept back some of the pork belly and added it towards then end so it was roughly chopped not pureed smooth like the rest of the mix. The second adaptation was a mistake ! I totally forgot to add the egg but honestly it was great without it and still held together well which is very useful to know as we have a friend who can't have egg.

 I cooked the pate in several tiny loaf tins which made very good individual portions and I must admit we just eat the bacon with the pate.. never did get this whole discard the bacon lark it's the best bit.!

A tiny loaf tin with sewing thread as a size gauge !

The pate was really good and definitely a recipe to go in the keep file. I'm really sorry I didn't do a bread. I did have a plan of what to do but then we had a freezer incident and had to cook up and eat a lot of things all at once and that rather threw all my plans out. The pate got made mostly because i had just bought the liver when we realised there was a problem, instead I served it with salad, and home made chutney which was lovely.

our coarse version -cos we prefer it this way

Three Spice Liver Pâté
Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
1 lb / 454 grams pork liver (or beef or combination)
1/2 lb / 227 grams ground pork
1/2 lb / 227 grams pork fat (or pork belly)
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 2 ml coriander (ground or crushed)
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cumin
3/4 tsp / 3 ml salt
1 tbps / 15 ml coarse freshly cracked peppercorns
2 tbps / 30 ml cognac
2 bay leaves
1 package of bacon

Preheat oven to to 350ºF (180ºC).
Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Grind until smooth.
In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the cognac and eggs.
Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. Place a bay leaf on the bottom and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with another bay leaf and then overlapping pieces of bacon.
Place in oven in the larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs.
The pâté will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices. Remove any excess bacon and discard the bay leaves.