30 March 2020

Hot Chocolate

At a recent family gathering, we ended up discussing the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. As suspected, the difference is that hot chocolate uses actual chocolate and hot cocoa uses cocoa powder. Since this discussion I've been wanting to try out hot chocolate, it sounded like it would be a lot nicer than hot cocoa.

Now that I've been at home for the whole of March due to the coronavirus outbreak, I'm trying not to spend my days eating, but we had some milk on its last legs, so I decided to use it up in what turned out to be a massively delightful way. I used this recipe as basis, but made a few changes due to not having all the right ingredients. Possibly I should have read through the whole article, but I think my hot chocolate turned out very nice anyway.

Ingredients
Makes 2 portions

70 g dark chocolate
30 g caramel chocolate
5 dl semi-skimmed milk

Method

  1. If the chocolate is in a large block, chop it up into small pieces.
  2. Heat up 2 dl of the milk in a saucepan until it starts steaming, then remove from the heat and add the chocolate.
  3. Stir until the chocolate has melted fully and is well mixed with the milk. Place the saucepan back on the hob and add the remaining milk and heat up while stirring, but make sure it doesn't boil.
  4. Pour into two mugs and drink straight away.

Caramel chocolate is basically white chocolate with caramel in it. It's colour is beige, a bit like latte and it is quite sweet, so worked really well in the above recipe. The dark chocolate I use contains 54.5% cocoa mass and is the one I use when I make pralines etc. It's not too sweet, but also not too bitter.

I also used my trusty Aerolatte frother to foam up the hot chocolate, which helps keep the drink hot I think. It would probably be very nice with fresh marshmallows, I'll need to try and make some for next time. I also might try adding a little cinnamon and vanilla.

2 March 2020

Soft And Fluffy Bread Rolls

At our local National Trust garden, the café serves soup with a wonderfully shaggy granary bread, which is Lundulph's favourite and for years now I've been trying to work out how to make something similar at home. As I'm now housewifing for a bit, I thought I'd dig out the various recipes I've bookmarked and work through them, starting with this one.

The photos on the web page appealed, not the claim to be able to do them in an hour. So I set about to convert to metric system and also weighed things to get a more precise recipe. As usual, I did this on the fly and got a bit confused about the liquids, but the end result was pretty good, so it wasn't bad. I also tried out the dough proofing function of my oven, I've never done this before. I don't think it speeded things up too much compared to room temperature, it wasn't my intention to rush the proofing stages like in the original recipe.

Ingredients

Makes 12 large buns

620 g (9 dl) strong flour
60 g (4 tbsp) granulated sugar
1½ tsp salt
3.85 dl semi-skimmed milk
57 g unsalted butter
20 g fresh yeast
1½ tsp lemon juice

Method

  1. If using proofing drawer, warm it up. Weigh the bowl that will be used for proofing when it's empty and note the weight.
  2. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of the Kitchen Assistent machine. Butter a large baking tin where all the rolls can fit with room to proof and set aside.
  3. Warm up the milk and butter in a saucepan on low heat until the butter just melts, but the mixture is at finger warmth.
  4. Add the yeast and stir until all has disssolved.
  5. Start the machine so that the dry ingredients mix well, then pour in the milk/butter mixture and finally the lemon juice.
  6. Let the machine work for a few minutes until a soft dough forms.
  7. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and fold it a couple of times to form a ball, then cover the bowl with cling film or a lid and place in the proofing drawer of a warm place until it more than doubles in size.
  8. Weigh the risen dough in its bowl, deduct the bowl weight, then divide by 12 and cut up into equal weight pieces. Mine worked out to just under 95 g each.
  9. Shape each piece to a round ball and place in the baking tin. Cover with cling film or a lid and let proof until they've filled up the baking tin.
  10. Remove from the oven and pre-heat it to 190° C, then bake the rolls for 17 minutes - keep an eye on them and cover with a piece of metal foil if they go too brown on top.
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down fully.

I left them in the baking tray overnight and had one for breakfast this morning - I cut it into slices and had it with butter and jam and honey. Yummy and so soft!

Lundulph's verdict was that they were quite sweet and with a bit of sugar glaze on top, they would work very well along with a cup of tea. And it's true, there is a lot of sugar in these, I'll repeat this recipe and reduce the amount a bit, to see how that goes.

The confusion I had was that there should have been 1.75 dl water + 2.1 dl milk.

I've also recently started using the dough hook on my Kitchen Assistent machine, but I'm not sure if it makes much difference. I skimmed through the recommendations in the instruction manual and it seems it's very limited when this dough hook should be used and the few times I've used it, I've always had to "help" it out as the dough either got stuck and wouldn't knead or got plastered on the walls of the bowl mostly. So I'll go back to the more general purpose roller.

28 September 2019

Fig Rolls

Yep, once again I've been watching the Great British Bake-Off and once again I felt compelled to try out some of the recipes, starting with a favourite of Lundulph's - fig rolls. He does ask me to buy these for him every now and then. I'm not too fussed about them, they are a bit too dry for me and the texture of the biscuit reminds me of a very dry type of Bulgarian biscuit that ladies of my gran's generation usually make and which I find quite nasty.

IMG_5838

But home-made fig rolls, where you know what's inside is something completely different. And as per usual, I try to follow the original recipe as closely as possible, in particular since this one was from Paul Hollywood and previously his recipes have been good. As it turned out, this one was too, but the proportions were not quite right, however that is not a bad thing. The original recipe is here.

Ingredients

Biscuit dough 175 g plain flour
1 pinch of salt
%frac14; tsp baking powder
50 g unsalted butter at room temperature
40 g light muscovado sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla extract

Filling
200 g soft, dried figs
25 g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ball of stem ginger in syrup - about 2 cm diameter

Method

  1. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and make sure they are well mixed.
  2. Beat together the butter and the muscovado sugar until pale and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and and whisk until well combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, incorporating each fully before adding the next.
  5. Wrap the dough well and place in the fridge to chill, while you make the filling.
  6. Chop the figs and place into a small saucepan and add the muscovado sugar and enough water to just cover the fruit.
  7. Bring to the boil on medium heat, then reduce the heat to a fast simmer and let cook for 5 - 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The figs should go even softer and the whole mixture should thicken.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blitz to form a paste. Add the ginger and cinnamon and pulse a couple of times to get it mixed in, but not too finely chopped. Spread the filling onto a plate, cover with cling film and chill to firm up for 10 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan. Prepare a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
  10. Cut out a sheet of baking paper and dust with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle no more than 4 mm thick on the baking sheet. Cut along the long side of the rectangle into 10 cm wide strips.
  11. Flour your hands and form some of the filling to a sausage, about 2 cm diameter, and lay along the middle of a dough strip, then carefully use the baking paper underneath to fold the dough around the filling. Use a little water to wet the edges and make them stick together, they don't need to overlap too much.
  12. Repeat with the remaining strips, re-do any trimmed off edges to use up the dough.
  13. Cut each strip into equal pieces of around 4 cm length, then carefully place onto the baking sheets, no need to leave too much room, they don't puff up much.
  14. Using a fork, press down each roll to get the decorative lines on top and bake for 12 - 15 minutes, until they start going golden brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to let them cool down.

These are definitely really tasty and not remotely related to the shop-bought stuff and well worth doing. However, the original instructions don't tell you how thick to roll the dough and I only rolled it to the 25 x 20 cm as it said and it was way too thick. Also the amount of filling was almost twice what I could fit into the dough, I weighed it and it was 322 g, but I had to scoop out 141 g in order to get the dough around the filling. I've tried to make adjustments in the above instructions. But any left-over filling can be used as spread on toast as an alternative to jam or frozen for the next fig roll batch. I'd also say the filling probably works nicely as praline filling as well.

IMG_5831 IMG_5832
IMG_5833 IMG_5834
IMG_5835 IMG_5836

14 September 2019

Pear Galette for Lundulph's Birthday

It's the time of the year, when Lundulph's parents' pear tree is crammed with fruit and I'm racking my brain about what to do with them. Last year, I did work through a lot of my recipes and found one for a pear galette, which seemed rather nice and I decided to try it out this year. A quick google indicated that a galette is a rustic, free-form pie or tart.

IMG_5830

This recipe turned out to be very nice indeed and is really not difficult at all, even if it may seem so, so definitely a repeat, the original can be found here in Swedish. Another huge benefit is that this can be prepared in advance up to the point of baking, so it's very suitable for dinner parties, when all you need to do is bake it while the guests are eating.

Ingredients

Pâte Sucrée - sweet pastry
100 g cold, unsalted butter
3 ¼ dl plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ dl granulated sugar
1 large egg

Almond paste
250 g marzipan
50 g unslated butter
1 large egg
½ dl plain flour
2 tbsp dark rum

Filling
4 - 5 crispy pears
50 g cold unsalted butter
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
50 g blanched almond flakes

icing sugar for dusting before serving

Method

  1. Pinch together the butter, flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the egg and work it in just so everything combines well. Flatten the dough, cover in double clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Grate the marzipan coarsely and melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Stir together the marzipan, butter, egg, flour and rum until the paste is smooth.
  4. Wash, peel and trim the pears, then cut into slices length-wise into equal thickness.
  5. Mix together the muscovado sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 175° C fan.
  7. Roll out the dough onto a piece of lightly floured baking paper to about 3 - 4 mm thickness.
  8. Spread the almond paste over the pastry, but leave a clean edge of about 2 cm all around.
    IMG_5823
  9. Lay out the pears over the almond paste,
    IMG_5824
    then sprinkle with with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
    IMG_5825
    Take care not to go over the edge of the almond paste.
    IMG_5826
  10. Using a cheese slicer or a potato peeler, cut out wide and thin butter pieces, then lay them over the pears, so that they are all covered.
    IMG_5827
  11. Carefully fold up the clean eges of the pie dough, then bake for 50 minutes until everything has gone golden brown.
    IMG_5828

And here is the lovely result, I recommend it's served warm together with vanilla ice cream.

IMG_5829

It was very well received when Lundulph came home together with his parents and we enjoyed a quiet celebration of his birthday. This galette did not last long, large as it was.

16 August 2019

Celeriac Steak With Green Salsa

IMG_5804

For our anniversary, Lundulph and I decided to go on a mini-break to the New Forest. Lundulph made the arrangements and on the first night at dinner, he decide to go vegetarian and ordered the celeriac steak, commenting that it must be magical, as it cost almost as much as a meat steak. As it turned out he liked it, but was upset about the fact that the amount of calories in it were almost nothing compared to a real steak, again not really fair, as just because someone wants to reduce their intake of red meat, doesn't mean they also want to forego the calories. But he liked the taste, so I decided to try and make it at home. It really didn't look that difficult, but as it turned out there is a trick, which the recipe I chose didn't mention. I did also have some things I wanted to use up, so I did some swaps, but I don't belive that caused the failure of my homemade celeriac steak.

Ingredents

Steak
1 celeriac
25 g unsalted butter
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
10 ml miso wine
150 ml chicken or vegetable stock
100 g curly kale, stalks removed
100 ml water
400 g can of mixed pulses

Salsa
1 dl flat leaf parsley leaves
1 dl peppermint leaves
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Carefully peel the celeriac, then cut into 1.5 cm thick "steaks", it should be 3 - 4 steaks in total.
  2. Heat the butter and grapeseed oil in a frying pan and once foaming, add the steaks and press in the garlic and add the thyme.
  3. Cook on one side until the steaks start going golden and caramelise, then turn and do the other side. Keep turning for a total of 10 minutes, while basting with the fat.
  4. Add the miso wine and keep cooking and turning the steaks until it reducec by half.
  5. Pour in the stock and let simmer for 15 minutes until the steaks go soft and can easily be pierced with a skewer.
  6. In the meantime wash and shred the kale and make the salsa.
  7. Put all salsa ingredients in a food processor and blitz until everything is chopped, but not too smooth.
  8. When the steaks are done, remove to a plate.
  9. Now add the kale together with the water to the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes until it starts to wilt and soften.
  10. Finally add the beans and stir through to get them hot.
  11. Serve the celeriac steaks on top of the kale/bean mixture and drizzle over the green salsa.

What failed with the above was that my steaks hadn't fully cooked and gone soft, Maybe I cut them too thick. I hadn't realised how hard a celeriac is and it was difficult to peel, it was a bit knobbly and too large for me to hold safely, so I recommend using a paring knife, rather than a potato peeler. Cutting the steaks evently was even trickier and I haven't given it much thought of a different way to achieving a better result - unfortunately I don't have space in my kitchen for a slicing machine, that would probably be ideal. My mandolin is not quite up to the job either, even the thick slices would be a bit too thin I think, but I might try it.

Otherwise Lundulph thought it was a decent first attempt and as he re-heated the remaining steaks in the microwave, they got softer and better, so the cooking times are approximate and it's important to check the softness. The other thing Lundulph was surprised about was that at the restaurant, the celeriac didn't taste like celeriac. The one I made did and it's not his favourite flavour, though he'll eat it, unlike me, who'll take the time to carefully remove every single piece from my plate. I'm guessing that once fully cooked, celeriac will lose or at least reduce the strong flavour it has in its raw form.

20 July 2019

Macedonian Salad

On our recent visit to Bulgaria, we stopped at a Black Sea resort for lunch. Always when the weather is very hot, I tend to lose my appetite and live on salads, kyopoolu and tarator, so concentrated on the starters section of the menu. Here I spotted what was intriguingly called Macedonian salad and had to order it to find out what it is. As it turned out, it was roast and peeled green peppers in a garlic/dill marinade. Yummy!

Some googling later revealed that Macedonian salad is very similar to the Bulgarian Shopska salad or a Greek salad and not at all what I was served, however I decided to try and make it for our friends' Summer barbecue at the end of July.

Ingredients

1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
0.5 dl olive oil
0.5 dl balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic
9 long peppers - any colour

Method

  1. Make the dressing on the day before - mix together the dill, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and press in the garlic. Place in a glass jar in the fridge and give it a shake now and then.
  2. Roast the peppers - ideally on a barbecue or pepper roaster or electric hob - then place in a saucepan and cover with a lid and leave to "stew" for a few minutes.
  3. As soon as you're able to handle the peppers, peel off the skin and remove the stalks, seeds and pith, then rinse under hot water and cut up into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Place in a serving bowl, pour over the dressing and stir through to mix. It's now ready to serve.

If you choose red, yellow or orange peppers, the end result will have some sweetness to it, if this isn't your thing, select green peppers. I'd chosen a mixture of red, yellow and orange, because the colours looked pretty, however after roasting, yellow and orange became indistinguishable. Still, it turned out to be quite a hit and several people asked me for the recipe. In fact, I thought it was nicer than the stuff I got at the restaurant.

There's a bit more work because of the roasting, but it makes a huge difference and it's a very good thing to do for a barbecue and start with the peppers before the other things, so that while meat and such are being grilled, the peppers get to stew in their saucepan. It's well worth doing, this salad tied in very nicely with the red meats.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.

19 June 2019

Zefir

IMG_5803

I've been working my way through a left-over bag of giant shop-bought marshmallows and wondering how difficult it would be to make them myself. My standard procedure in these cases is to watch videos on YouTube, the site turned out surprisingly helpful and pointed me towards "zefir" or "zephir". This is a Russian type of marshmallow sweet, which looked so beautiful and seemed quite easy to make, so I got on with this, especially since I had strawberries left over from the Rhubarb Dream Cake and a lot of agar agar in the cupboard following my experimentation with jelling liqueurs at Easter. I guess all my recent searches for Russian recipes is what prompted the zefir suggestion. I liked this one best, though I took inspiration from others as well. Below adapted amounts to fit with the strawberries I had to use up.

Ingredients

Makes 20 at 5 cm diameter

265 g strawberries
110 g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 large egg white
78 ml water
212 g caster sugar
2 tsp agar agar powder

icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. First line several baking sheets with paper and make the strawberry puree by trimming, washing and quartering the strawberries and placing in a saucepan.
  2. Add the 110 g caster sugar and lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes and stirring occasionally.
  3. Push through a sieve to remove the seeds and get the puree really smooth and let cool down to room temperature, if it's still warm.
  4. Place 150 g of the puree in a large glass or metal bowl, add the egg white and whisk until it goes pale and very fluffy, like meringue.
  5. In another saucepan make the syrup. Place water,212 g of caster sugar and agar agar. Stir together, then place on the hop at medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil while stirring. Let simmer for a further 7 minutes, while stirring constantly.
  6. When the syrup goes a bit gloopy, it's ready. Remove from the hob and slowly pour over the strawberry meringue fluff, while whisking continuously, very much like an Italian meringue.
  7. Once everything is incorporated and well mixed, transfer the mixture to a piping bag with an open star nozzle.
  8. Pipe 40 rosettes of about 5 cm diameter on the lined baking sheets, then leave for at least 24 h to dry out, it may take longer if the air is humid.
  9. Once a skin has formed on the surface, carefully peel from the paper and stick the bottoms together pair-wise. Sprinkle generously with icing sugar, then brush off the excess and store in an air-tight container. If they are still a bit sticky, cut up the baking paper and put between each or place in paper cupcake moulds.

I quite liked both the texture and the flavour, though I think the traditional size was a bit too big, as they are very sweet. So next time I'll aim for bite-size rosettes. Lundulph wasn't too impressed, he thought they were missing something and suggested they'd be better as decoration of a cake rather than to be eaten on their own.

Here they are on the dining table:
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However, I gave a few to my Russian friend Byala and her response was to say it's the best zefir she's ever had and that she'd eaten almost all of them in one go.

Update on 2019-07-20: During our recent trip to Bulgaria, we found a shop selling Russian food and I bought a packet of pink and white zefirs - I'm pleased to say that I did get them right for texture and sweetness, though of course in the humid UK air, I needed 2 days for the drying and they were still rather sticky. I think Sweden in deepest Winter might be ideal, with its super dry air. My parents weren't too excited either, my Dad didn't like the texture much. I'm wondering if these could be piped on a plain and not too sweet biscuit to offset all the sugar. I must experiment.