Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ham Egg Quiche with homemade shortcrust pastry

I am quite excited.

Sorry, couldn't keep it in for much longer. The food processor just bought is a not-too-big model that comes with heaps of attachments like a liquidiser, juicer, several blades, a grinder mill, citrus squeezer, a little whisk thing, and more. I actually wanted the next model down, which has fewer attachments, but the store had none left. Fortunately, this one was on sale and there's a cashback offer as well, so looks like an early Christmas present for myself.

I've been trying to use it now as much as possible, though to tell the truth, I've forgotton where I've stored all the bits and pieces, like the juicer. I've been using the normal cutting blade most of all. I'm quite happy about the processor, as it's a nice change from the tiny bowl attached to a stick mixer that I used to use.

One of the easier things to make using a food processor is shortcrust pastry, as all you do is put the ingredients in the bowl and turn the knob. I found this pastry recipe in the cookbook that came with the processor and adjusted it using tips I found online. Then it got turned into the most delicious ham and egg quiche (processor not required). I know Thanksgiving is just passed, but I am thankful for my food processor and its ability to make pastry and my life a little easier.

Ham and Egg Quiche
serves 6

200g sliced leg ham, chopped
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup pure cream
1/4 cup grated mozzarella or tasty cheddar cheese
6 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Shortcrust pastry
makes enough to line a 23cm (9") tin

265g (1 3/4 cups) plain flour
125g chilled butter, chopped
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked
2-3 tblsp iced water

1. For the pastry: Place the flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until the the mixture turns pale yellow and crumbly, like fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the dough just starts to stick together. Add a little more water if it is too dry.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
2. For the quiche: Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 23cm (base) loose-based fluted flan pan. Roll pastry out on a flat surface to form a 26cm square. Line base and side of pan with pastry. Trim excess pastry. Place pan on a baking tray. Line pastry case with baking paper. Fill with ceramic pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove rice or weights and paper. Bake for 7 minutes or until base is light golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine ham, chives, cream, mozzarella and 3 eggs in a small bowl. Season with pepper. Spoon mixture into pastry case. Crack remaining eggs over ham mixture, keeping yolks whole. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve.

recipe adapted from taste.com.au

Making pastry with your new food processor: Ingredients are chilled cubed butter, egg yolk, flour and chilled water; the processed mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, then you add the egg and water and it forms a dough; roll out the dough (I really need a bigger rolling pin); line the baking dish with the nicely rolled dough.

Ingredients for the quiche: eggs, chives, ham, parmesan and tasty cheese;
the eggy hammy cream mixture is poured into the pre-baked pie crust that was made in your new food processor

Delightfully golden quiche. And the pastry is light and crispy.

Finally, let me just say that I have tasted the Nancy, Sue, Charlie and Lorraine quiches from Adriano Zumbo Patissier, and this humble ham and egg quiche BEATS THEM ALL. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happiness is...Mango Lychee Sorbet

One of my favourite desserts is the sorbet trio at Blue Ginger restaurant in Balmain (Sydney). The trio usually includes a lychee sorbet, and it is sublime – sweet yet subtle with the unmistakable fragrance of luscious lychees. I even bought the Blue Ginger cookbook to see if I could make it using their recipe, but unfortunately, it requires an ice cream maker which I don’t have.

So what to do? Well, in my case, I just pined over the lychee-sorbet-that-was-not-to be for a couple of years. Until last week. And all because I had 2 eggwhites left over.

After making some spaghetti carbonara that needed 2 egg yolks, the remaining eggwhites languished in the fridge for a couple of days while I mulled over what use them for. I’m NOT a macaron maker, so macs were out of the question. Eggwhite omelette? Too boring. Then I did what I should have done first off – type ‘2 eggwhites’ into the search at taste.com.au. It came up with this fantastic Lychee and Mango Sorbet that is every bit as good as the one at Blue Ginger (and with the bonus of mango). I pine no longer.

Mango and Lychee Sorbet
Serves 6

3/4 cup caster sugar 
565g can lychees in syrup, drained
425g can mango slices in light syrup, drained 
2 eggwhites, lightly whisked

1. Combine sugar and 1 1/4 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, without stirring, for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and cool completely.

2. Place lychees and mango in a processor or blender. Process until smooth. Press through a sieve into a bowl. Discard pulp. Add sugar mixture to fruit mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into a 3cm-deep, 20cm x 30cm (base) lamington pan. Cover and freeze for 1 to 2 hours or until almost firm.

3. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Add eggwhites. Process until smooth but not melted. Pour mixture into a 6cm-deep, 11.5cm x 21.5cm (base) loaf pan. Cover and freeze for 3 hours or until firm. Serve.

recipe adapted from taste.com.au

Ingredients: Canned mango and lychees (great if they're not in season); lightly whisked egg whites (warning: this dessert contains uncooked eggs); process the lychee and mango then push through a sieve; frozen delicious sorbet is the result

This sorbet is wonderfully smooth as long as you combine the eggwhites well with the mango/lychee slush.

These raspberries are so brightly coloured. All the better to contrast with the mango/lychee!

A frosty sweet treat that's worthy of a restaurant.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

easy chewy BIG choc chip cookies

Do you ever get those times when you're craving a biscuit or something sweet?
To heck with the bikkies, what I want is a whacking BIG COOKIE!

I felt this way just the other day. It was a slow Saturday afternoon and I'd just returned from a walk to check out Rozelle markets, where I'd scoffed a hot dog with mustard and tomato sauce ($3). But it was a small hot dog (which was part of its appeal) and I needed something to tide me over till dinner time, which was still hours away. 

A simple recpe was called for, not too many ingredients and using items already in the pantry. Chocolate chip cookies are the answer (to life and everything!). In this instance, the cookies were made large, so they were soft on the inside and a bit crispy on the outside.

And because they're biggish, it's easy not to get carried away and eat to many. Well, that's the idea, anyway. I managed to put away 3 of these babies before I realised what had happened. And that's the beauty of a simple, big choc chip cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approx. 25

2 cups plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp.baking soda
170g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 160C/325F. Line baking sheet/s with baking paper.
2. Use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, mixing well.
3. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and add to the butter and eggs. Stir until just combined, then add the chocolate chips and gently fold them through the batter.
4. Roll 2 tablespoons of the batter into balls and place onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving room for the cookies to spread. Flatten the balls slightly if you prefer a crisper cookie. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients, including flour, white and brown sugar, vanilla, eggs and chocolate chips

Various stages of preparation: before creaming the butter and eggs; post-creaming; after adding the eggs.

The taller the scoop of cookie dough, the higher and therefore chewier the cookies will be.
Even a reflective photo screen is no barrier to Tabitha cat when there's cookies around.

As always, I ended up with a veritable mountain of cookies.

I stored what was left of the choc chip goodies cookies in a cake tin I got for my birthday (from Peter's of Kensington) - it's cat safe.
A motto for our times: Keep calm and bake on (or eat on, in my case).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jamie's electro pea and broad bean fritters

I tell you what, I'm loving this digital reader caper!
Since we last spoke (ie. since I last blogged), I've gone crazeee! downloading books and magazines to read on the e-tablet.

I started by getting copies of books that I already have in hardcopy, that are great reads but a bit bulky, eg. Bill Bryson's Down Under, numerous Jilly Coopers. These are perfect on an e-reader.
Then there are the 'nostalgia' books, the ones I remember reading when younger and that still hold an allure, eg. Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, still thinking about getting the Trixie Belden series.
And the new books that I've held off buying till now because I didn't want more dead trees clogging up the house, eg. The Churchills by Mary Lovell (excellent gossipy biography) and the Agatha Raisin books (about a crime-solving, retired PR lady; just starting my first one and am really enjoying it).

Last, but definitely not least, there are the COOKBOOKS! Well, actually, I'm still hesitating over a lot of books, so I've only downloaded the free ones. Some are better than others when it comes to electronic reading. The Neil Perry Rockpool Bar and Grill book is a fine example of digital form, with embedded videos on how to prepare certain dishes. Others books, I found, look like they've just been scanned in and are nothing special. This may be due to them being free, but it will make me think twice about getting the e-version of them.

Ooh, and I mustn't forget the MAGAZINES! I've bought Super Food Ideas (only 99cents!), Gourmet Traveller, Martha Stewart Living, BBC Good Food, Donna Hay, MasterChef... and many more. My fave is Donna Hay because it has great recipes (naturally), the first issue is free, and it takes advantage of the digital format by having animations that make the food look extra beautiful.

This recipe is from the Jamie Oliver Recipes app - you get 10 recipes for free, then you can buy packs of additional 10. It's a bonus that the recipes have nice how-to pictures and you can even email a list of the ingredients to yourself.

Pea and Broad Bean Fritters
serves 2

85g frozen peas
85g frozen broad beans
1 egg
60ml milk
1 tsp baking powder
80g plain flour
salt and pepper
35g pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated
100g baby cherry or roma tomatoes
20g black olives
1 tblsp thyme leaves
50g mixed salad leaves

1. Put the frozen peas and broad beans into a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water. Wait 30 seconds, then drain in a sieve. Peel (double-pod) the broad beans. Set aside.
2. For the batter: In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg, milk, baking powder, flour, salt and pepper until well combined.
3. Combine the drained peas and beans, together with the pecorino, into the batter. Mix well. 
4. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick frypan over medium heat. Cook fritters in batches by adding 2 tablespoons of the batter to the frypan. Don't let the fritters touch each other. Cook fritters for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Transfer to a plate when cooked.
5. For tomato salad: Roughly chop the tomatoes and combine with the olives and thyme.
6. To serve, place some salad leaves on a plate and top with the fritters and tomato salad.

Preparing the fritters, with ipad instructor and Tabitha cat observer.

Chop some tomatoes and olives and thyme for accompaniment to the fritters.

For a rustic look, serve on a clean wooden board.

Very colourful and easy to make.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Digitally enhanced Spiced Chicken Salad

Good news, my friendly reader(s)! Bel from Ooh, Look has finally joined the digital age and got an ipad ™.

The reason for this extravagance is to help cut down on the amount of magazines and cookbooks that I buy by downloading them instead.
So far, this has work reasonably well because I think twice about getting the latest issues, but then I realise that some of my favourite magazines aren’t available yet in digital form. Dang and blast! Get with the times, man! (This means you: delicious/House and Garden/Real Living. By the way, have you seen the new Donna Hay digital magazine? It’s magically brilliant)

So rather than using the ipad purely as an Angry Birds game console, I’ve started making online recipes directly from the source (or rather, website). This is an example of something I found on the Sydney Morning Herald’s site. I added my usual preferred dressing and dinner’s ready. Easy to read, easy to make and easy to eat.

Spiced Chicken Salad
Serves 2

2-3 chicken thigh fillets, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
Olive oil spray
2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tblsp fish sauce
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Pinch of caster sugar
1 tblsp water

1. Place the chicken and five spice powder in a bowl and spray with a little olive oil. Mix until combined.
2. Heat a frypan over high heat and add the chicken and cook until browned all over and cooked through.
3. For the dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
4. To serve, place the salad leaves on a plate with the mango and cooked chicken. Drizzle over the dressing.

recipe inspired by smh.com.au/lifestyle

Ingredients, including salad leaves, fish sauce, chilli flakes, mango and chicken

Tabitha cat is fascinated by the ipad screen, which is why I downloaded a cat toy app for her.
Chicken pieces are mixed with Chinese five spice powder.

The dressing is super versatile.  It's great on brussels sprouts, too.

A deliciously fresh-tasting salad.
You could substitute roasted sweet potato or pumpkin for the mango.