Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rhubarb and Pear Crumble

There's a stronger chill in the air and the fingers are feeling more like ice blocks in the morning - there's no doubt about it, we are heading into winter.

Winter weather for me means crumbles so why not take advantage of the seasons superb rhubarb

rhubarb© by Haalo


To add a little sweetness to the dish I've added shards of fresh pear to the mix.


rhubarb and pear crumble© by Haalo


Rhubarb and Pear Crumble

5 stalks rhubarb
1 pear, peeled, quartered, cut into shards
50 grams self-raising flour
50 grams soft brown sugar
50 grams rolled oats
100 grams melted butter
handful flaked almonds
handful shredded coconut


Prepare the rhubarb:

Wash and trim the rhubarb. Remove the stringy skin from larger stems and cut into finger sized lengths.

Place a cup of water and half a cup of sugar in a pot over a low heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved and droop in the rhubarb. Simmer until the rhubarb just begins to soften.

Make the crumble:

Place the flour, soft brown sugar and oats into a bowl - break any lumps of brown sugar with the back of a spoon to ensure they are well mixed. Pour over the butter and stir - finish off with flaked almonds and shredded coconut - keep stirring until just combined.

Assemble the crumble:

Arrange the rhubarb into the base of an oven proof dish with a little of the poaching liquid - top with the pear shards.

Scatter the crumble mix evenly over the base.

rhubarb and pear crumble© by Haalo


Place the dish on a baking tray and cook in a preheated 160°C/320°F oven until the crumble is golden and firm.

rhubarb and pear crumble© by Haalo


Let it cool slightly before serving.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #181 Hosting



Thanks again to Rachel for hosting - be sure to check out the rather tasty and always fascinating recap.

This week Maninas from Maninas: Food Matters will be our host.

To participate:
Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - I encourage participants to read the rules to ensure that your post does qualify.

Posts must be written specifically for Weekend Herb Blogging during this week (April 27th - May 3rd) and the deadline is:
3pm Sunday - Utah Time
10pm Sunday - London Time
9am Monday - Melbourne, Australia Time

Send your email to maninas.wordpress AT yahoo.co.uk with WHB#181 in the subject line and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • Attach a photo: 300px wide

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

Rachel from The Crispy Cook is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have an Italian staple, zucchini.

zucchini© by Haalo

I am quite picky when it comes to zucchini - small is definitely better. Always choose those that feel firm and have a glossy skin - check the ends for any signs of softening as this will give you a good indication of how long ago they were picked.

Having grown zucchini in the past, I know first hand that you should never dally and leave them to be picked for another day. The perfect hand sized zucchini will turn into arm sized monsters literally overnight - at this size they are a watery mass of seeds and rather unappetising.

The dish I'm making is straight from my mother's repertoire and it's a dish that celebrates the zucchini season. It was always a treat to be offered these Stuffed Zucchini.

stuffed zucchini© by Haalo


Stuffed Zucchini

8 mid-sized zucchini
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2 parlsey stalks, finely diced
4 sage leaves, very finely sliced
150 grams minced beef
fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg
breadcrumbs
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Prepare the zucchini:

Slice the zucchini in half lengthways. Steam or gently simmer until the flesh is just tender.

Take each zucchini half and using a small spoon carefully form a hollow. Reserve the flesh and when all the zucchini are prepared, chop the flesh into a small pulpy dice. Keep to one side while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling:

Heat a good knob of butter in a pan over a medium-low heat - when the butter has melted, add in the onion, garlic, sage leaves and parsley stalks. Sauté gently until softened and just beginning to colour.

Tip in the minced meat and stir well - cook until the meat is well browned.

Add in the reserved zucchini flesh and increase the heat to evaporate any excess liquid. The mix should be fairly dry at this stage. Stir in the parsley, taste and season with ground nutmeg and a little freshly ground white pepper.

Put this to one side and allow it to cool completely.

Once cooled, add the egg and stir well. Sprinkle over some breadcrumbs and a generous handful of freshly grated Parmigiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning - if the mixture is too soft, add some more Parmigiano and/or breadcrumbs. The filling shouldn't be firm or heavy, there needs to be just a little slackness to the mix to keep it light.

Assemble the dish:

Make sure the zucchini are dry and arrange them on a baking paper lined tray. Generously spoon the filling into the channels - don't press the filling into zucchini, keep it nice and light. Finish off with a generous sprinkling of more grated Parmigiano.




Bake in a preheated 180ºC/350ºF oven for about 30 minutes - or until the zucchini have heated through and a golden crust has formed.

stuffed zucchini© by Haalo


Best enjoyed hot from the oven - serve with a salad for a complete meal.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #180 - Hosting



Thanks go to Prof. Kitty for hosting - be sure to catch up with the delicious recap.

This week we welcome back Rachel from The Crispy Cook as host.

To participate:
Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - I encourage participants to read the rules to ensure that your post does qualify.

Posts must be written specifically for Weekend Herb Blogging during this week (April 20th - April 26th) and the deadline is:
3pm Sunday - Utah Time
10pm Sunday - London Time
9am Monday - Melbourne, Australia Time

Send your email to oldsaratogabooks AT gmail DOT com with WHB#180 in the subject line and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • Attach a photo: 250px wide

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Broccoli Leek and Taleggio Roll

Prof Kitty from The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have the much maligned, broccoli.

broccoli© by Haalo

It's odd that people will gladly eat cauliflower but wince at the thought of eating broccoli. As with other brassica's like Brussels sprouts and cabbage, I do believe that it is bad cooking (boiling until gray!) that leads people to have such negative thoughts towards these vegetables.

Broccoli is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals - just one serving contains over 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirements. There's also Vitamins A, B5, B6, E, K, Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin and Thiamin. To ensure as many nutrients remain, it's best to steam rather than boil.

The dish I've made is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's rather delicious broccoli and gorgonzola pie.

I've foresaken the puff pastry for filo and Gorgonzola has been replaced with another favourite Italian, Taleggio.


taleggio© by Haalo

Taleggio is a washed-rind cheese, stinky and soft, it manages to balance flavour and creaminess with ease. It may be pungent but its flavour is never over-powering. Feel free to substitute your own favourite cheese.

Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll© by Haalo


Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll

8 sheets Filo pastry
melted butter
finely grated Parmesan

Filling:
2-3 large leeks, tops removed, sliced thickly
2 medium heads broccoli
1 tablespoon cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
finely grated Parmesan
Taleggio, diced


Prepare the broccoli:

One of my favourite parts of the broccoli is in fact the stem so please don't throw it away. It has such a sweet flavour and a lovely texture that even in larger stems where the outer layer may be a bit tough, peel it away and savour that tender core. If you are using smaller heads then you won't need to peel it.

Cut the stem into bite sized pieces and steam for a minute or two - you aren't looking to cook them through just to give them a start.

Cut the rest of the heads into florets and steam these for a minute.

Set this aside.

Make the filling:

This needs to be done first and allowed to cool completely before using.

Place a good knob of butter in a pan over a low heat - when melted add in the sliced leeks. Cook very slowly and without colouring until soft.

Add a tablespoon of cream, increase the heat slightly and stir well until the cream reduces and thickens. Season sparingly with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper before removing from the heat.

Sprinkle in a little grated Parmesan and then tip in the broccoli pieces and gently toss through. Let this cool completely before proceeding.


Make the filo roll:

Lay a sheet of filo on a large sheet of baking paper. Brush the surface generously with melted butter and a scattering of grated Parmesan. Top with another sheet of filo. Repeat the process until all 8 sheets are used.

Place half the filling evenly along the length of filo - offset it from the long edge closest to you by a couple of inches and by an inch or so from the shorts ends. Dot with cubes of Taleggio and then cover with the remaining filling. Finish off with some more Taleggio cubes.

Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll© by Haalo

Brush the sheet with butter, fold in the sides and brush the now exposed folds with butter. Take the long edge and wrap it around the filling until it has just covered it. Stop and brush the length of the roll with more butter - continue to roll, stopping to ensure the exposed pastry is well coated with butter. When you reach the end, tuck in ends and position the roll in the centre of your baking paper. Brush with more butter and finish off with a light sprinkle of Parmesan.


Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll© by Haalo

Make sure that the ends are well buttered too.

Bake in a preheated 170ºC/340ºF oven until golden - about 30 minutes. I can tell you as it cooks you'll have such a wonderful aroma coming from your kitchen - you might be confused and think you have Cauliflower cheese baking in the oven.

Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll© by Haalo

Let it sit for a few minutes before turning it out onto your serving dish.


Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll© by Haalo

Cut into generous slices - you'll have pockets of softened cheese intermingled with the creamy base of leeks and soft textured broccoli. It truly has a wonderful mouth-feel and that crisp pastry provides a lovely counter point.

We enjoyed this with a salad of heirloom tomatoes and basil - a seriously good offering that would put a simple on the face of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to...

baci cakes© by Haalo


So far, it's been a day I rather forget but perhaps these little baci cakes will make it a little better. A feather light, chocolate and hazelnut concoction topped with a dark chocolate ganache. There's plenty to share..

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #179 Hosting


Thanks to Chriesi for hosting this Easter edition of WHB - there's more feasting to be enjoyed in the recap.

This week we welcome Prof Kitty from The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty as our host.

To participate:
Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - I encourage participants to read the rules to ensure that your post does qualify.

Posts must be written specifically for Weekend Herb Blogging during this week (April 13th - April 19th) and the deadline is:
3pm Sunday - Utah Time
10pm Sunday - London Time
9am Monday - Melbourne, Australia Time

Send your email to profkitty AT gmail DOT com with WHB#179 in the subject line and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • Attach a photo: 300px wide

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hot Cross Muffins

As much as I love Hot Cross Buns, I don't always have time to make them. So to take some of the pressure off but still leave me with those lovely aromatic hot cross bun flavours, I've played around and whipped up a rather suitable replacement - in muffin form!

I think the key flavours of hot cross buns are the mix of dried fruit and spice - in this case I've used mixed spice and cinnamon. The dried fruit are sultanas and glacé orange. While I detest mixed peel, I adore glacé orange. To balance out the sweetness of the sultanas you need something with a little tang - I suppose you could substitute finely grated orange zest if the glacé orange is hard to find.

To make the cross, I've gone for an easy option - using icing sugar & water mixed to a thick paste, I've piped out the cross on the cooked muffins. If you want to be more creative, pipe the crosses using melted white chocolate.

hot cross muffins© by Haalo

Hot Cross Muffins
[Makes about 16]

300 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
50 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
150 grams sultanas
50 grams glacé orange, diced
80 grams melted butter, cooled
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup buttermilk


Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon powder together into a bowl. Stir through the sultanas.

Sprinkle a spoonful of the flour mixture over the diced glacé orange and stir - this will coat the orange with flour and help stop them from sticking together. Add this to the flour mix and stir through.

Lightly whisk the eggs with the milk and buttermilk.

Briefly stir the cooled, melted butter through the flour mix before tipping in the egg mixture. Stir until it is just combined - the key to a soft muffin is minimal mixing.

To keep with the hot cross bun theme I've used square cases but you can use regular muffin cases and pans if that is all you have.

Three-quarter fill the cases and place on a baking tray. Cook in a preheated 170°C/340°F oven until golden and cooked through - about 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly before piping on the cross.

hot cross muffins© by Haalo

Best enjoyed just warm - inside they are light in texture but well studded with fruit.

hot cross muffins© by Haalo




More Easter Baking:
Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Farfalle con Tonno di Coniglio

Marye from Baking Delights is hosting Presto Pasta Night and in this time of the year when things can get a bit hectic, Pasta is one of those food items that I turn to to relieve the stress.

This dish I'm making is one for the time challenged and would be equally as good, served hot or cold as a salad item.

Any short pasta will do but I've gone for a favourite, Farfalle

farfalle©by Haalo


which means Butterfly though for some reason, Bow Ties has become the more usual translation.

The other ingredient is my Tonno di Coniglio.

The dish is so simple, it doesn't need a recipe. While the water is boiling and you cook the pasta, remove the Tonno from the fridge to get it back up to room temperature.

As soon as the pasta is done, quickly drain it and toss it immediately through the Tonno - the heat from the pasta will be enough to will warm up the rest of the ingredients.

Farfalle con Tonno di Coniglio© by Haalo


In less than 20 minutes, you'll have a stress free, comforting and nourishing dish of Farfalle con Tonno di Coniglio. Serve with some bread to soak up that flavoursome oil.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tonno di Coniglio

Chriesi from Almond Corner is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I'll be using one of the herb staples, Parsley

parsley© by Haalo

As we are approaching Easter I thought it would be appropriate to make an Italian Lenten dish - a somewhat quirky offering called Tonno di Coniglio which translates to Rabbit Tuna.

This is a dish from the Piedmonte region of Italy and the story goes that the monks would dunk rabbits into the lake and then pull them out where they would then be baptised as fish. This meant they would be able to eat them during lent as they would be eating fish and not meat.

The dish itself is a two part process - the rabbit is simmered in a simple stock until tender. The meat is shredded from the carcass and stored in an olive oil and lemon mix, flavoured with various herbs and vegetables, for a day or two.

Some recipes will have sage as the main herb but in this version from Geppy Dezani, parsley and basil are used instead. It's important that you use the best extra virgin olive oil you can find as it is a major component of the dish and its flavour comes through the dish.

Tonno di Coniglio© by Haalo


Tonno di Coniglio

1 rabbit
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
cloves
peppercorns

Marinade:
fresh parsley, roughly chopped
fresh basil, ripped
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
olives, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers
sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1-2 lemons, juiced

To serve
parsley leaves, chopped
basil leaves, ripped


Prepare the rabbit:

rabbit© by Haalo

When choosing a rabbit, select rabbits that still have their liver intact. The liver is a great indicator of the quality and freshness of the meat.

Place the rabbit in a large pot, add in the chopped onion, carrot, celery, cloves and peppercorns. Cover generously with cold water and put it on a medium heat - when it comes to the boil, turn the heat down and let it barely simmer until the rabbit is tender and beginning to fall from the bone.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow the rabbit to cool in the liquid.


Make the marinade:

Place the rosemary, parsley, capers, olives, onion, garlic and basil in a non-reactive bowl. Stir in the lemon juice.

Remove the rabbit from the stock and pull the meat from the bones - leaving it as uneven shards. Place the meat in the marinade, stir and then add enough olive oil to cover. It's important that all the meat is covered by liquid.

Cover and place this in the fridge to rest - at least overnight.

Tonno di Coniglio© by Haalo


As the oil will solidify over the mixture, you'll need to bring back to room temperature before you can serve it - depending on the ambient temperature, 15 to 30 minutes should be enough. You can also just remove a portion at a time but make sure you keep it covered with olive oil.

Before serving stir through some extra fresh parsley and basil.

Tonno di Coniglio© by Haalo

It can be served as is, with good crusty bread on the side or as the topping for a tasty bruschetta.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #178 Hosting


Many thanks to Ivy for hosting - it was a very busy week hosting not one but two events - be sure to check out the tasty recap

This week Chriesi from Almond Corner is our host.

To participate:
Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - I encourage participants to read the rules to ensure that your post does qualify.

Posts must be written specifically for Weekend Herb Blogging during this week (April 6th - April 12th) and the deadline is:
3pm Sunday - Utah Time
10pm Sunday - London Time
9am Monday - Melbourne, Australia Time

Send your email to friedblogs AT gmail DOT com with WHB#178 in the subject line and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • Attach a photo: 300px wide
Emails must be received by:
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 9am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Fried Padron Peppers

Ivy from Kopiaste is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have finally managed to score this most elusive vegetable, Padrón Peppers

Padrón Peppers© by Haalo

Although the season here in Australia runs from December to May, this is the first time I've seen them available.

These bite sized peppers have a quirky characteristic - about 1 in 10 will be hot and there's no way to tell until you bite into them. You'll see it often described as "Russian roulette with Padrón."

When it comes to eating them, best have something refreshing to douse the heat just in case you happen to be the (un)lucky one.

To serve, it couldn't be easier. You could stuff them with cheese and bake them or simply fry - either shallow or deep, until the skin puffs and starts to pull away from the flesh. I've gone for the simple option.

Fried Padrón Peppers© by Haalo


Fried Padrón Peppers

Padrón Peppers
olive oil
sea salt

Clean the peppers with the damp cloth and then dry them completely. Leave them intact - don't remove the stalk.

Shallow or deep fry, a few at a time, turning them as the skin stars to puff. Once the skin is all wrinkly, remove and place on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt and continue the process until all the peppers are done. You will notice that the peppers will deflate on cooling.

In the batch I had, the hottest was probably a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, most had a sweetish, fresh pepper taste that went well with a good glass of Shiraz.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Blueberry Shortcake Crumble

The pantry moths have given me a none too subtle hint that I haven't baked in a while so I've immediately correctly that situation - much to the pleasure of the resident sweet-tooth. I've headed to that stalwart, the Australian Women's Weekly for the solution, a recipe by Suzanne Gibbs for Raspberry Shortcakes won out. The original was a mix of cinnamon, raspberry and walnut but because I can, I've changed the mix to be blueberry, vanilla, white chocolate and almond.

blueberry shortcake crumble© by Haalo


Blueberry Shortcake Crumble
[Makes One - 20x30cm/8x12 slice]

150 grams softened butter, cut into cubes
120 grams pure icing sugar
250 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
70 grams flaked almonds
300 grams frozen bluberries
60 grams white chocolate buds

A word on vanilla:

vanilla bean paste© by Haalo


When I want a vanilla flavour, rather than use vanilla extract I use this Vanilla Bean Paste. I just love the fact that I just don't get that pure vanilla flavour but I also get all those tell-tale speckles of vanilla bean seeds.

Make the pastry:

Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste into the bowl of a mixer and beat until creamy and pale.

Tip in the flour and beat briefly on the lowest speed until just combined. Sprinkle in the flaked almonds and continue for a few seconds just to spread them through but not break them up too much.

The mixture should be very crumbly - it should not look like a homogenous dough. Take out 100 grams of the mix and set to one side.

Line your baking tray with baking paper and then sprinkle over with the crumble mixture.

blueberry shortcake crumble© by Haalo

Use your hand to press the mixture down so it forms a flat even base.

Scatter over the still frozen blueberries and white chocolate buds.

blueberry shortcake crumble© by Haalo

Take the reserved crumble mixture and sprinkle it evenly over the top.

blueberry shortcake crumble© by Haalo

Bake in a preheated 180C/350F oven for about 30-40 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

blueberry shortcake crumble© by Haalo

Let it cool in the baking pan before you try to remove it. Since it's very short it needs to be cold before it can be handled without breaking.

blueberry shortcake crumble© by Haalo

Finish off with a dusting of icing sugar.

Just try stopping after one slice!

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