Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Traditional Fruitmince Tarts



It seems a bit odd making mince tarts in November, even late November but I really wanted to do this for Anna's event - Festive Food Fair.

The fruitmince part of the recipe was made a few weeks ago and it's been happily sitting in the fridge, maturing. The fruits have plumped up, soaking in the various spirits and juice - there's been a couple of extra splashes along the way.

If you want to lighten the mixture up a little, I suggest grating a pear or apple into the mince. Take the amount you intend to use and place it in the bowl, add the grated fruit, mix well and let it sit overnight.

I'll be presenting the mince tarts in two ways - one traditional and one with a frangipane topping. The frangipane version I started making a few years ago when I saw the domestic goddess herself, Nigella, make it in some cooking show. It looked so fantastic, I went off and made it straight away. It was so good, I've continued making them.

The pastry is probably just as important as the fruitmince - if you ask Paalo, the pastry is more important than the fruitmince. It has to be buttery and soft, yet thick enough that when you bite into it, the tart doesn't crumble.

traditional mince tarts© by haalo


Traditional Fruitmince Tarts
[Makes 24]

Pastry:
230 grams plain flour
70 grams self-raising flour
50 grams icing sugar
150 grams butter, cut into small dice
1 egg yolk
iced water (water with ice cubes)

Fruitmince
icing sugar, for dusting

For this recipe you'll need two 12 hole tart tins.

In a processor, place the flours and sugar and pulse briefly to aerate.
Sprinkle the diced cubes of butter over and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and pulse again until just mixed through, then adding iced water 1 tablespoon at a time, continue to pulse until the dough just begins to come together. This mix needed 4 tablespoons of water.

Place the dough onto a board and basically just mould the dough until it comes together. There's no need to knead! Roll into a ball and cut into half - slightly flatten each half into a disc, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to rest for at least an hour or until the dough has hardened enough to roll.

Each half of the dough will make 12 cases and their decorative star topping. Cut out the stars when you've finished cutting out the cases.



Cook them in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 15-25 minutes or until golden. Let them cool slightly in the tray before removing onto a wire rack.



A taste test reveals that they get Paalo's tick of Pastry Perfection!

Frangipane Fruitmince Tarts

To make Frangipane Fruitmince Tarts all you need, naturally enough is a frangipane mixture!

Frangipane Fruitmince Tarts© by haalo

Frangipane Fruitmince Tarts
[Makes 24 tarts]

Frangipane
80 grams butter, softened
80 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
80 grams almond meal


Follow the instructions for making the Traditional Fruitmince Tarts but you don't need to cut out any stars - the frangipane takes its place.

To make the Frangipane:

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat using an electric mixer until creamy. Beat the eggs in, one at a time - make sure the egg is fully amalgamated before adding the second egg.

Stir in the almond meal.

Spoon the filling into each tart - try not to overfill as the frangipane will rise when cooked.

Frangipane Fruitmince Tarts© by haalo


Cook in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven until golden - about 15-25 minutes.

Frangipane Fruitmince Tarts© by haalo

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Zwiebeltag - Onion Day



Zorra from Kochtopf has asked us to join in and help celebrate Zwiebeltag or Onion Day and with such a gorgeous logo, how could I resist?

I've decided to make one of my favourite Indian starters - Onion Bhajis. It's a simple mix of sliced onion, besan flour, egg and assorted spices. Fried, in odd shaped bite-sized portions they really do make your taste-buds zing. I'm not sure how authentic the spice mix is but it does offer the same flavourings as I'd expect to fine in a real Bhaji - so in this spirit, I refer to these as being Onion Bhaji~esque.

bhajis

Onion Bhaji~esque
[Makes about 16 bite sized Bhajis]

1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly lengthways
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, sliced finely
¼ cup besan flour
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 egg
freshly ground salt, to taste

Sift the besan, turmeric, cumin, garam masala and chilli powder into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and whisk to combine. Stir through the sliced onions and coriander leaves and season with a little ground salt.

The mixture should be quite stiff.

Take scant tablespoons of the mixture and shallow fry - form a flatish, circular shape. Don't be too concerned with making them perfectly round, they look nicer a bit wilder in design. Brown on both sides and then drain well on paper towels.

Serve while hot - coriander flavoured yoghurt makes an excellent accompaniment.

bhajis

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #60 - Recap

This is my very first hosting gig and it's my pleasure to bring you the recap for this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

First up is Ruth from Once Upon a Feast who unfortunately missed out last week but offers up two recipes this week.

The star of this first dish is thyme and it features in a dish guaranteed to cheer up the gloomiest day - Spinach Crepes with Creamy Mushrooms

spinach crepes with creamy mushrooms

Ruth's second dish is Morocco on a plate with it's use of Ras El Hanout, apricots and figs.

Moroccan style shepherd's pie

Moroccan Style Shepherd's pie - and it's made South Beach friendly with its clever use of mashed sweet potatoes as a replacement for mashed potatoes.

Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen is next, the CEO of Weekend Herb Blogging. Kalyn wasn't sure about rosemary and beef but discovers it's a marriage made in herb heaven.

beef & butternut squash stew

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar - there's a double dose of butternut squash, the initial quantity helping to form the rich, thick stock.

Kalyn also helpfully provides an excellent list of butternut squash recipes from around the blogosphere - if you're a lover of squash it's a must visit list. Also check out Kalyn's Blogher post on Squash.

Angie is from Singapore and her blog is My Kitchen:My Laboratory. The subject of Angie's post are the in-season Blood Oranges. She plays around with a couple of Donna Hay recipes to produce, and I hope you agree, the most adorable Blood Orange Curd Tartlets.

blood orange curd tartlets

Neil from At my Table is a fellow Melbournite and he offers up a prickly tale about prickly pears. Neil extracts revenge in the form of his recipe for Spiced Prickly Pears.

Staying in Melbourne, we turn our attention to Anh from Food Lover's Journey - it's a story of love, or is it passion, for Passionfruit. Anh draws inspiration from our recent hot weather to make the most delicious, healthy and refreshing Frozen Passionfruit Yoghurt.

frozen passionfruit yoghurt

Regardless of the weather, you'd love a bowl or two of this!

It's back over to the northern hemisphere where we find Anna of Anna's Cool Finds. Anna has all the good info on Chard or Silverbeet as it's known here.

chard

With this fantastic bunch of Chard, she combines it with Seitan and flavours it with Sweet Teriyaki sauce to make a delicious and nutritious Chard Skillet Saute.

Burcu from Almost Turkish Recipes offers advice on Celery Root and lets us in on it's special relationship with Dill.

celery root à la Turque

Burcu creates this comforting dish of Celery Root à la Turque (Zeytinyağlı Kereviz).

Slow-roasted Tomatoes were a blog hit back in August and they are given a new life by Genie from The Inadvertent Gardener. With just three simple ingredients she turns them into something special - Slow Roasted Tomato Dip.

Slow Roasted Tomato Dip

You just know this is going to full of flavour - you may find yourself doubling the recipe!

Cucina Bella is Sarah's blog and she treats us to a special soup - the stock made from leftover thanksgiving turkey carcass.

Portabella & White Bean Soup

Sarah's Portabella and White Bean Soup will see you happily through those winter nights - along with portabella mushrooms and white beans, a variety of fresh herbs, sage, parsley and thyme are used to infuse the stock adding a lot of flavour without making it feel too heavy.

We now head back down to Australia, this time we're in Sydney where we visit with Em from Kitchem and she puts thyme under the spotlight. Em whips up in no time a perfect weekend meal - Slashed Roast Lamb and Drunken Potatoes.

Slashed Roast Lamb & Drunken Potatoes

A spiced paste of garlic, chilli and thyme is rubbed into the lamb slashes to ensure the flavour permeates through the meat. The baked veggies are treated to a good splash of white wine and thyme as they bake.

What did you eat? is the question Sher sets out to answer in her blog. For WHB the answer comes in the form of Creamy Chicken Enchiladas and Cilantro Coleslaw.



Now the chicken enchiladas can also be made using leftover turkey and with it's cheesy and creamy combination, I'm sure there won't be any these leftover. There's quite an interesting version of Coleslaw using fresh Cilantro (WHB's most popular herb) and a wonderful dressing made from lime and cumin. I just think that sounds so refreshing. Don't forget to check out the most gorgeous Upsie too!

Cate from Sweetnicks is offering another welcome solution to those Thanksgiving leftovers. She creates a moorish stack of Ham and Potato Patties with Horseradish Sauce.

Ham & Potato Patties with Horseradish Sauce

Described as "oozing with cheesy goodness" I think we'll all be lining up for these.

If you've over indulged or just looking for something that's good for you but tastes great, then Lakshmi from Flavors of Indian Rasoi has created a delightfully Healthy Moong Sprout Salad.

Healthy Moong Sprout Salad

Studded with glistening pomegranate seeds, this salad sparkles with freshness - it contains moong sprouts, cucumbers, carrots with a dressing of lime and chat masala. Lakshmi suggests also adding green onions and grated raw mango and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cooking in Westchester is Rinku's blog and she shares her experiences with a vegetable she recently discovered, Parsnip. Rinku has two offerings - Parsnip and Lima Bean Tikki and Lamb with Blackbeans and Parsnips.

parsnip & lima bean tikki Lamb with blackbeans & parsnips

The Tikki are like little fritters, using a base of parsnip, potato and lima beans and spiced with cilantro, chillies, fenugreek, chat masala, ginger and lime. The Lamb stew can be made in a crock-pot and cooked slowly overnight - it's also wonderfully spiced with ingredients such as cardamoms, cinnamon, turmeric and chilli to name a few.

We're back in Australia and in Sydney with the lovely Anna from Morsels & Musings. Anna treats us two recipes - an Afghani dish of Bouranee Baunjan (Eggplant with Yoghurt) and Lamb Koftas with Cumin and Mint

bouranee baunjan lamb koftas with cumin & mint

For the Bouranee Baunjan, sliced eggplant is sautéed until golden and then cooked in a spiced tomato and onion sauce. It's then served on a bed of garlic flavoured yoghurt. Flatbread is essential to mop up the tasty sauces. Anna uses lamb mince and a combination of fresh herbs and spices to make her Lamb Koftas.

Jetting off to France we find Katie from Thyme for Cooking, the Blog. Katie has a huge Bay (laurel) tree and takes advantage of the plentiful supply in her two dishes - Braised Pork with Laurel and Carrots & Potatoes With Bay.

braised pork with laurel served with carrots & potatoes with bay

The pork is slowly cooked with bay leaves, white wine and chicken stock resulting in a succulently soft meat. Reduced pan juices form the sauce. The vegetables are also gently cooked in bay leaf spiked chicken stock.

Still in Europe, we're off to visit Ulrike of Küchenlatein in Germany where she continues her series on sloes by producing a warming Sloe Liqueur called Hexenschreck which roughly translates to witchshocker.

Hexenshreck

Ulrike includes a photographic step-by-step to guide you through the process and unlike the more traditional method which takes 2 months to mature, this only takes one week! When I find some sloes I know exactly what I'll be making.

Back in America we visit Gattina where I hope some extra sunshine will see her Thai Basil plant survive the winter. Thai Basil is an essential ingredient in Green curry - do take note of Gattina's advice and don't try to substitute it with Italian Basil, it just will not give the correct taste.

Thai Eggplant with fish fillet in green curry

Gattina also shows us this elegant dish of Thai Eggplant with fish fillet in green curry.

For Chrispy of Experimentation of Taste, WHB is all about Thanksgiving and she shares four recipes with us - Squash Apple Bake, Fresh Organic Pumpkin Pie, Fresh Cranberry-Orange Relish and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds.

thanksgiving recipes

Do check out Chrispy's other posts on all things squash.

Time to hit the sky again and we join Virginie from Absolutely Green in France. Virginie talks about her latest discovery - Tamarind and an intriguing Tamarind and Chilli Candy found at her local Vegetarian restaurant.

tamarind & chilli candy

Virginie also offers helpful advice on growing Tamarind and it's varied culinary uses.

Dashing back to New York we meet up with The Chocolate Lady from In Mol Araan for her Soy Milk and Hempseed Shake.

soy milk & hempseed shake


It's a trans-atlantic crossing to reach Betul in England and her blog Rustic - Betul greets us with a cheesy snack designed to quell any tummy rumblings.

cheesy snack

It's a quick and easy and all too tasty recipes - baguette slices covered in mix of mashed feta, eggs, onion, tomato, parsley, chilli and mint, grilled until the cheese bubbles and browns - this is bound to cure all ills, including Mondayitis!

One last hop sees us in Canada with Elizabeth at Blog from Our Kitchen. Elizabeth puts her spin on Cherry's Claypot Chicken, the unmistakable aroma of rosemary permeates this dish

cherry's claypot chicken

Skinless chicken rubbed with mixed herbs sit on a base of sliced potatoes, onions and garlic then bathed in a little white wine and a sprinkling of fresh rosemary.

Final stop this week is my own post on Beetroot and a dish of Buttered Grated Beetroot.

beetroot


Next week, Weekend Herb Blogging returns home to Kalyn's Kitchen so send your entries to kalynskitchen AT comcast DOT net.

The recaps of all WHB's can be found here - the rules for WHB are listed here - and you can get a heads up on who's hosting at this link.

Thanks again to everyone that participated - I had such a great time visiting all the blogs and am inspired by the depth and variety of dishes on offer.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #60

A quick reminder that you still have time to get your posts into this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging - just send an email with your post link to me at hellohaaloATgmailDOTcom.

The subject of my post this week is the humble beetroot, as it's know here.

beetroot

I must admit that this wouldn't be my most favourite vegetable in the world. As a child I refused to even get in close proximity to canned beetroot. Just the sight of those white bread sandwiches stained in beet juice was enough to turn my stomach, the smell was another. Actually, truth be told I still don't want anything to do with canned beetroot!

Fresh beetroot like this one, especially those smaller varieties and those wonderfully coloured golden beetroots, are something that I will happily come into contact with. From their leaves to their roots they are completely edible. In fact, Romans used to only eat the leaves, they also thought they were useful for treating constipation and fevers.

Beetroots are high in vitamin c and their leaves are high in vitamin A. They also contain folates and various antioxidants. Beetroot juice is considered to be an aphrodisiac due to it's boron content. It's also thought to help fight heart disease due to the presence of Betaine.

One of negatives with beetroot is that it can take a bit of time to cook, but this quick and easy recipe from Stephanie Alexander solves that problem. Grated raw beetroot is cooked in a little butter and a touch of balsamic vinegar to produce a wonderfully glossy accompaniment that's just perfect with roasts.

buttered beetroot

Buttered Grated Beetroot
[Serves 4]

300 grams grated raw beetroot
40 grams butter
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the grated beetroot, butter, water and vinegar into a saucepan, cover and cook for about 8 minutes under a gentle heat. Stir to ensure even cooking.

Once the beetroot is just tender, remove the lid, and if there is any excess liquid, turn up the heat and boil it off.

Season to taste and serve.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cherry Risotto

Cenzina from Il Cavoletto di Bruxelles has chosen Risotto as the theme for this edition of Hay Hay! It's Donna Day!

I've decided to do something a little different and make a sweet risotto rather than the traditional savoury risotto. This dish is inspired by a strawberry risotto I had a couple of years ago. As a celebration of the season, I've combined poached cherries (you'll find that recipe if you follow the link) with arborio rice and used a milk and cream mixture as my stock to create, Cherry Risotto.

cherry risotto© by Haalo


Cherry Risotto
[Serves 4 or 2 greedy people]

1 cup arborio rice
45 grams butter
3 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Poached cherries, with reserved juice

Place the milk, cream and vanilla bean paste into a saucepan and bring gently to boiling point.

Meanwhile, begin melting the butter in a large saucepan and then add the rice. Stir well to ensure the rice is well coated in the butter. Cook this for a few minutes - you want the rice to get glossy and a bit translucent.

Add a half cup of the boiling milk mixture. This should absorb fairly quickly and as soon as it has, add another half cup. Keep stirring and when this has absorbed add another half cup and 1 tablespoon of the reserved poached cherry liquid. This is going to be my sweetener and it will also colour the risotto.

You need to continue this process of stirring and adding the just boiling milk and poaching liquid - you'll notice that the time between additions will get longer as the rice cooks.

When you've got about 1 cup of milk mixture left - add a half cup of drained poached cherries to the risotto and continue as before.

The risotto is finished when the rice has softened and become creamy - it should by now have a lovely delicate rose blush to it.

Serve hot with a spoonful of reserved poached cherry juice and some extra poached cherries on top.

cherry risotto© by Haalo


It's almost too pretty to eat - almost ;)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sugar High Friday #25

Johanna from The Passionate Cook is hosting this months Sugar High Friday and has chosen the most decadent theme of Truffles.

The warmer weather isn't the most conducive conditions for truffle making but I've managed to come up with two festive inspired truffles:

cherrychocolate christmaspudding

Cherry Chocolate Truffles and Christmas Pudding Truffles

Cherry Chocolate Truffles
I've taken poached cherries, filled with a white chocolate ganache, then covered then in dark chocolate ganache before coating them in edible red and gold glitter.

Christmas Pudding Truffles
A simple combination of fruitmince and dark chocolate ganache, coated in cocoa and topped with a edible red holly bead - a taste of Christmas in a truffle!

The recipes are found by clicking on the appropriate links.

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Cherry Chocolate Truffles

truffles

Cherry Chocolate Truffles
[Makes 12]

12 poached cherries, drained

white chocolate ganache:
40 grams white chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
15ml cream

dark chocolate ganache:
150 grams dark chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
60mls cream

edible red glitter, for dusting
edible gold glitter, for dusting

Make the white chocolate ganache:
Place the chocolate and cream into a small pan and over a low heat, keep stirring until chocolate has melted and the mixture has combined to form a smooth paste. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool before storing in the fridge to harden.

Make the dark chocolate ganache:
Follow the same method as the white chocolate ganache.

Fill cherries:
Take small amounts of white ganache and roll into small cylinder shapes. Place this inside the drained cherries where you'd normally find the cherry stones. Store in the fridge until ready to proceed to the next stage.

filled cherries

You need the dark chocolate ganache to be firm. It's a good idea to use gloves for this stage as the chocolate is quite sensitive to heat.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and roll between your palms to soften slightly, then flatten it out to form a circle. Encase the cherries inside this ganache circle - roll it around your palms to form an invisible seal.

Place this on lined tray while you continue with the remaining cherries. Store them in the fridge to harden slightly.

Decorate Truffles:

Take two bowls and sprinkle some edible red glitter and edible gold glitter into each. Coat each truffle in the red before giving it a brief coating in the gold. When finished, place in the fridge until ready to serve.

truffles

Sliced in half, you should get three distinct tastes layers, the dark shell, the soft cherry and it's white core.

inside

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Christmas Pudding Truffles

truffles

Christmas Pudding Truffles
[Makes about 12 truffles]

100 grams dark chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut dark chocolate)
45mls cream
6 tablespoons Fruitmince
cocoa, for dusting
edible red holly bead, to decorate

Make ganache:
Place the dark chocolate and the cream into a small saucepan and heat over a very low flame until the chocolate has melted and amalgamated with the cream to form a smooth thick mixture.

Add the fruitmince to the melted ganache, stir well and then pour out into a bowl to cool. Place it in the fridge to harden for a few hours.

I've used a small ice-cream scoop to form the balls but you can just roll out spoonfuls of the mixture by hand. Place the balls on a lined tray - return to the fridge to allow them to firm up again.

Sift the cocoa into a small bowl and drop the balls into the cocoa, swivel the bowl to coat the balls, then dust off the excess before setting them into their cases.

Top with a red holly bead and return to the fridge until you're ready to serve them.

truffles

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

King Island Roaring Forties Blue

It's been quite remiss of me that in all the cheese I've shown so far, none have been blue cheese. What better way to redress the situation then to show the 2006 Champion of the 78th Annual British Empire Cheese Show held in Ontario, Canada. The cheese in question is the King Island Roaring Forties Blue.

king island roaring forties blue


This is the second cheese I've shown from King Island Dairy - if you'd link a reminder, just follow this link. I should add that the name "Roaring Forties" refers to the gale winds that lash King Island - the island itself is situated at 40° latitude.

king island roaring forties blue


Underneath the distinctive and knobbly blue wax you'll find a full flavoured rind-less cheese made from pasteurised cows milk and inoculated with Roquefort style moulds. After four to five weeks of maturation, the moulds have developed inside the cheese and it's then dipped in that dark blue wax. In it's oxygen deprived state, the moulds stop developing and the milks sweet and nutty characteristics appear.

king island roaring forties blue


When sliced you'll notice that it's not as heavily veined as a Gorgonzola - it's more the case of having pockets of blue. The cheese is quite creamy and not overly salty and has an excellent mouth feel - there's a good length of flavour in the palette.

I'd class this as the type of Blue you'd give to someone who is a bit unsure of the whole "blue cheese" thing. It's appearance isn't overly confronting and there's enough blue free bits to tempt the most cautious. It's certainly a cheese to consider for that Christmas cheese platter.
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