22/06/2014

Soft Cows’ Milk Cheese

I want to make cottage cheese. It never seems to happen though, but I keep trying. The shop bought stuff used to be lovely but these days, to me, it always tastes off, no matter what they put into it. It can’t be that hard, but I never seem to manage it.

Along the way, though, I have ended up with a very nice Something Else. A very fresh, soft cheese.

I had bought some full cream milk (found it in Sainsbury’s) so wanted to use that for my cheese attempt. I had no rennet so lemon juice it had to be. Sainsbury’s Basic lemons are quite possibly the meanest I’ve come across, juice-wise, (it took five of them to get 1/3 cup of juice) but they smelled gorgeous.

Milk and lemons

1 litre Graham’s Gold Jersey milk

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp white vinegar

pinch salt

Put the milk in a stainless steel pan, and heat it gently until bubbles start to form around the edge and the top looks foamy.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and vinegar, plus a pinch of salt, stir and then leave to sit for 10 minutes. It should curdle and start to split. It doesn’t split into large lumps, but it does split.

(If it doesn’t, heat gently again and add another tablespoon of lemon juice. NOT vinegar.)

Line a colander with a large piece of cheesecloth or a clean teatowel.

Pour the split milk into this then bring the corners together to form a bag.

I tied the top of mine with a piece of string that I could then loop over the tap to drain.

I let it drip for around 2 hours, then turned it out into a Tupperware.

I’m going to try rennet next time, as I don’t always want the lemon flavour, but this is really good on bread or crackers with honey on top, and I’m going to stuff peppers with it tomorrow.

For my taste, next time I would also not add white vinegar as it was a bit too strong. It does make for a very tangy cheese for eating on its own, but with a drizzle of honey it’s perfect.

The Gold milk gives it such a buttery colour, so I’ll definitely use that again!

The hunt for cottage cheese will continue…

Cheese

Edited: Later that weekend…

I made a salad. The cheese had sat in the fridge for 24 hours. It crumbled perfectly, and went incredibly well with not just the salad ingredients, but with chargrilled aubergine too. Lovely! Next time I shall try and turn it into feta. Sorry. Salad cheese.

Salad

Those are Essex olives, picked from my own tree and home cured. Smile

Dinner

20/06/2014

CRUMPETS!

This is all entirely Pete Favelle’s fault. All of it. It started with this post over on Kavey Eats. I couldn’t get the things out of my head.

I bought crumpet rings, but the horror tales of not being able to dislodge the crumpets put me off and I hid them away for a few months.

The germ of an idea refused to leave, and one day I decided to make just one BIG crumpet in a frying pan – no rings - and see what happened.

The batter was very thick, so the whole lot just flopped out into the hastily added cake tin. (Added as I realised the skillet had sloped sides and crumpets don’t.)

It was huge, and I faffed at it a lot,  creating the hashtag of #crumpetgate along the way, but I did it, and it tasted really good!

Batter Stage 1Batter stage 2Stage 3 with cake tinStage 4 OMGWILLITCOOKUndersideSplit

Dinner plate sized crumpet

But the thought of individual ones was stuck in my head. So I braved the dreaded rings.

I adapted the recipe as I had no white bread flour, only wholemeal, but you know, it worked! I also added lemon juice to the milk, to make it more like buttermilk, for no reason other than I was curious as to how it would taste.

Crumpets!

4 ounces plain flour

4 ounces strong wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pint milk and water (50/50 mix, ish) – warmed slightly in the microwave, to body temperature

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon light olive oil

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 tsp honey

one packet of dried yeast

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 1 tbs warm water

 

Add the lemon juice to the milk, and mix. It will separate, that’s ok.

Whisk everything together really well, except for the bicarb.

Leave to stand, covered, in a warm place. It should double and froth up.

Pour in the dissolved bicarb and mix very well. It will knock all the air out and hopefully make it pourable. (I had to add a bit more water to thin it out.)

Heat a griddle on a medium heat. Add the rings. I used Lurpak’s cooking mist to properly spray the rings and the pan, and poured in the batter to a depth of about 1 cm.

THIS DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK. The batter is alive. It has its own rules. Crumpet size may go up as well as down.

Gradually the sides will start to dry out, and bubbles will appear. AT NO POINT did I burst these with a skewer. Nope. Not me.

I turned the heat down so that the bottoms didn’t burn. Each one takes maybe 5 minutes to dry out, and then I removed the rings – carefully – and flipped the crumpet to brown the top.

They aren’t as light in texture as a purely white flour mix would be, but they are damned tasty. I am looking forward to toasting some for breakfast tomorrow.

Rings stage 1

Rings stage 2

Released

Released side view

I had one with Blueberry No Sugar Jam for tea.

Blueberry No Added Sugar Jam

Bear in mind this will not last long, as there is no sugar to preserve it apart from that in the blueberries.

1 large punnet of blueberries

2 tsp Splenda

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs water.

Mix everything together well in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer on low until all the juices have reduced and you have a thick jam. Keep in the fridge.

Crumpet in the sun

Bavette, Flat Iron and my version of chimichurri

Whenever I go and stay in Penge on a weekend, it’s very hard not to head straight to The Butchery in Forest Hill. Every single piece of meat that I have bought from there has been exceptional, and the prices are very good considering the high quality of the meat that you are getting.

Last time I was there,  I bought one large piece each of bavette and flatiron steak, two bags of proper pork scratchings and 1/2 a pound of smoked bacon. That was £16. The steaks easily did two dinners, and possibly four had I not eaten all of mine.

I’ve had onglet before, as that seems to be the steak of fashion these days, but I hadn’t had flatiron or bavette, and wanted to give them a try. They have a reputation for being incredibly flavourful, but also for being tough if not cooked right, so I decided on a marinade. Red wine, lots of garlic, thyme. Can’t go wrong with that.

Roughly 2 glasses of red wine, 5 cloves chopped garlic, handful of chopped parsley, teaspoon of dried thyme and a glug of olive oil.

Put the steaks in it, leave for 2 hours, turning every half hour.

Steaks

Cook on a searing, smoking hot griddle for 3 minutes per side. Serve with chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce (not authentic so don’t kill me)

Bunch flat parsley

3 spring onions

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

Chop the garlic, parsley and onions all together until very fine.

Put in a bowl, pour over equal parts olive oil and vinegar.

Stir in 1 tsp sugar until dissolved ands add salt and pepper to taste. Add in some dried chilli flakes if you want a kick.

Almost chimichurri

The steaks cooked up brilliantly, despite it being my first steaks cooked on an electric hob.

Steak and chimichurri

08/06/2014

Tahini & Rose Cookies

This was inspired by a recipe that Rebecca Bakes Cakes put up. I did have some nut butters, but I also had the end of a jar of tahini that I needed to use. Tahini, for me, goes hand in hand with cinnamon and rose, two of my favourite flavours, so I decided to go with those rather than the orange water I’d been contemplating.

I had to adjust the recipe as I think that the egg I used was very large, and tahini may be more liquid/oily than peanut butter. Once I’d mixed in the 100g of flour, I added a bit more, 10g at a time, until the dough reached a roll-able consistency. I chilled it for half an hour to make sure.

I can’t wait to try this again, and have a bit more of a play with the recipe, perhaps make a pistachio honey paste to sandwich the cookies together.

50g soft butter

50g golden caster sugar

50g soft brown sugar

50g Cypressa tahini

1 tsp cashew butter

1 large egg

150g self raising flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp Star Kay White rose extract (the best one I’ve found)

Beat the sugars, butter, tahini, cashew butter, cinnamon and extract together until well mixed and fluffy.

Beat in the egg.

Then mix in the flour.

You should be able to roll the dough into balls about 2cm in diameter. If the dough gets too sticky, pop it back in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Space them out on a lined baking tray about an inch apart and press down lightly with the tines of a fork. They don’t spread too much.

Bake for 13 minutes at 170C fan. I turned them round halfway through. (I know it was 13 minutes, I set a timer and everything.)

Leave them to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. They will crisp up around the edges. If you can resist eating them all before then, well done.

They are quite a light biscuit, and very moreish. The tahini doesn’t overpower, and the rose/cinnamon flavours are in the background.

Tahini batter

Cookies

One missing

15/05/2014

Cattleman’s Smokehouse and Grill – Romford Marketplace

Title bar

Yes. Romford. Not usually the place that you think of when you think of barbecue, but if this place keeps going, then I sincerely hope that will change.

I haven’t been to Pitt Cue, it’s out of my ‘get there in a lunch break’ zone, as is Red Dog, and all the hipster-ish places that have sprung up. Big Easy has opened up near my work, and I will be visiting there soon, but what of weekends?

What if you want a proper pulled pork bun with crunchy coleslaw, or a slab of brisket with a side of rich, smoky beans? Where to go? Not everyone has a smoker in their back garden, and not everyone knows how to do it.

My first experience of proper barbecue was in America, in 1999. We went to a place in downtown Portsmouth called Muddy River Smokehouse, and were presented with what looked like, to us, brontosaurus ribs smothered in smoky sauce, and two half racks of pork ribs. EACH. That was a starter. We resolved after that to have a starter between the two of us each time we ate out.

It also got us started on the hunt for good barbecue. Now, I’m from Cypriot stock. We love a good souvla, with its juicy meat charred over open coals and doused in herbs, olive oil and lemon, but this was a style of barbecue that I wasn’t used to. Smoked, deeply so, and soused with sweet sticky tangy sauces, or dry rubbed with yet more spices.

I think we’ve been on the search for it ever since. We’ve been spoiled by getting the really good stuff on our first try. It’s a hard act to follow.

We’ve been to Bodeans in Poland Street, and they used to almost hit the sweet spot, but lately it’s not been quite as good as it used to be. I’m not sure why. Maybe the menu has gotten too big for them, and they need to stick to what they really know.

During the course of our barbecue hunting, Husband found a sauce called Cattlemen’s. It’s perfect. Sadly, we only found it in a Pound shop, and haven’t found it since.

Today I tasted a sauce that was pretty damned near the mark, and that was in Romford, at the Cattleman’s Smokehouse and Grill.

Cattleman’s is Steve, Rhys and Bob. Old Bob, according to Steve.

They’ve been set up in the marketplace for about 2 months, and I would definitely like to see them make a go of it, because there’s talent, and a lot of knowledge there.

Menu

Stall

They didn’t mind me faffing about taking photos, or nattering at them. Steve is full of ideas about the processes and the finished product. I suspect that this is a man who wants to perfect his art, and then take it that bit further when he’s done that.

There was discussion about the right bread rolls – heavy enough to hold the meat + sauces but not so heavy that they are just a doughy lump.  The proper kind of bacon, that isn’t so thin that it disappears on the griddle. Then there’s the right cuts of meat, with the correct fat ratio. Brisket can dry out if it’s not fatty enough, so when you ask your supplier for a more fatty piece of cow, and they give you the same style every time, you need to look elsewhere. Today they didn’t have salt beef, which is usually brisket,  but they did have smoked clod (beef shoulder) and that was lovely. A light smoke, not overpowering, and it was still tender with a hint of pepper to it. That in a bun with mustard and pickles would be heaven. Indeed, that’s what someone ordered while I was standing there. (rubbish photo ahoy)

clod

I got to try an offcut (go me!) and it was lovely.

The barbecue beans are fabulous too. Full of smoked brisket, and thick with sauce. The pinto beans are properly cooked, but not mushy. I took a pot of those home with me and made them into dinner.

BBQ beans

I had to try the pulled pork. Start with the benchmark, right?

Excellent.

There has been a tendency to make pulled pork into this gelatinous mass of shreds, all sauce and bits, but this was not like that at all. The pork goes in the bun, the sauce gets squeezed on top, then the ‘slaw gets added on that. On goes the top bun and there you go. Pulled pork sandwich. Messy to eat, but with proper chunks of meat that get in between your teeth and give you something to chew on. Excellent pork, still juicy despite a long smoking. Good coleslaw, with minimal onion (Hooray! Thanks Bob!) and good crunch. Their bbq sauce is…yes, perfect.

Dark, tangy but not too vinegary, nicely spicy, sweet but not cloying and decently smoky but not overwhelming. You almost want to get some on your face so you can have it for dessert. (This is the small bun…)

Pulled pork

They also do a bourbon based sauce, which they use for basting their ribs. It’s thinner, but man…The bourbon based one was AMAZING. Liquid spiced caramel. I could have done a shot of that. Actually, a pickleback with that? Line ‘em up.

It’s so good to talk to a man who knows his craft. This is a man who is about to make a new smoker out of an old fridge. Smoking, like cannabis smoking, invariably leads to carpentry or engineering. “Hey! I can make a bong/smoker out of that!”

They already have two smokers. One at the stall, Betty Lou, and one back at HQ, which I think is Bobby Jo.

Personally I can’t wait to go back, and take my husband along. There has to be brisket, there has to be ribs. And if there’s room? There has to be bacon and waffles and maple syrup. They also do coffee, and mugs of tea. Proper.

A breakfast item, in their words:

Saddlebags, a large buttermilk pancake, topped with pieces of home made sausage, crispy bacon, a fried egg and.......warm maple syrup!!!

There is talk of them bottling their sauces, so you can bet I’ll be lining up for those.

You can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cattlemans-Smokehouse-Grill/515432998512094?ref=ts&fref=ts

Here: https://twitter.com/USA2UKFOOD

And Romford Marketplace, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Come on down y’all!

13/05/2014

Moro inspired pork belly.

I blame my friend Karen. She sent me the link in the first place, and it was that link that had me thinking about pork belly so much that I couldn't get it out of my head.

You ever have those times when you read a recipe, or hear about a dish, and you know that until you give in and make it, all you’re going to be doing is thinking about making it? Truly, it’s better just to get on and make it or your brain will nag you.

This is the culprit. Guardian, I hold you responsible for this too you know. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/09/sam-sam-clark-chicharrones-de-cadiz-recipe-pork

I failed to buy a piece of pork belly last time I was at the butcher's, but I resolved to find pork belly strips and go ahead and adapt it anyway. I chose to do this on a day when I was working from home, as it does require time. My husband loves crackling, but not pork fat, so it makes sense to cook this kind of thing just for me.

Onward.

My adaptation of the above recipe. You go with what you’ve got, right?

2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
2 x 400g packages of pork belly strips (there were 4 strips per pack)
2 tsp sea salt flakes

2 tsp cumin powder
½ lemon

Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan. They will darken and release their aroma.

Add in the two garlic cloves and toast them briefly to intensify their flavour. (It was at this point I discovered that the garlic I had was old and sad, which is why I threw the two cloves into the pan with the fennel seeds)

When the garlic picks up a little colour, put the seeds and garlic into a pestle and mortar along with the 2 tsp sea salt.

Pound well until everything is mixed, and all the seeds crushed down.

Rub this mixture all over the pork. I added a touch of olive oil to get it to adhere to the meat better.

Let it sit for half an hour, then lay the strips in a roasting tin.

Bake on 300F/150C/Gas 2 for a couple of hours, turning once. You want the fat to render, but not disappear.

When the slices have turned dark golden on both sides, take them out and let them cool enough to cut into chunks.

Cook them in a dry frying pan until the edges and any fat starts to crisp, then mix with ground cumin and take off the heat.

Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon juice all over and a little sprinkle of sea salt.

These make incredibly moreish snacks.

Fennel seeds

Seeds and pork

Marinating

Stage 1

Mixed with cumin and lemon

Stage 2 finished

PS: do not throw the fat and excess seeds/cumin away from the roasting pan. It makes amazing potato wedges the next day.

11/05/2014

Nigella’s Easy Almond Cake

It was Easter. I like Easter. It means that spring is here. Or might arrive soon anyway.

Easter is an odd time for me, being half Cypriot, because the usual Greek things that happen usually involve family. LOTS of family. I don’t have that, so there’s not the impetus to do things that there used to be. Making the 40 or 50 flaounes is a group activity, and not something I would attempt on my own, plus what am I going to do with 40 of the things anyway? Red eggs are a tradition, but not really worth doing unless you do a lot at once, plus the splatter dyes everything red. Or purple. Or blue, or…

I don’t really feel the attachment to chocolate eggs at Easter that many do, though I’ll certainly not turn one down but, for me, I’d rather bake lots of things and give them away to people. Annoyingly, this year, I was thwarted in this as Greek Easter, for once, was at the same time as British Easter, and many people went on holiday. How could they? Didn’t they know I needed to bake things and give them away?

I soothed my baking itch by deciding to bake some cakes for my husband. He shares my love of marzipan, so when I saw Nigella’s recipe for Easy Almond Cake, I knew it had to be done.

The whole mixing bit gets done in a food processor, which makes me very happy. I apologise to those who do not have one but, for me, it’s a complete godsend. It means less time standing up, plus I can make pastry without my ridiculously hot hands melting the butter in seconds.

Now. The cake. Oh yes. I warn you now, if you are an almond/marzipan addict like me, when you make this, you will find it very hard indeed not to just eat the batter out of the bowl with a spoon. It’s like a gloriously velvety, marzipan scented silken custard.

Little Easy Almond Cakes

Preheat oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/325ºF

250 grams unsalted butter, softened

250 grams marzipan, softened

150 grams caster sugar (I used golden)

¼ teaspoon almond essence (I would up this next time to 1/2 tsp)

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (ditto with this)

6 large eggs (I used 6 Clarence Court Burford Browns, but next time would use 5)

150 grams self-raising flour (I didn’t have any, so added a level tsp baking powder to 125g plain flour)

Chop the marzipan into chunks, and put in the food processor bowl with the butter and sugar. Give it a good whirl until combined.

Add in the extracts, then add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition.

Then add in the flour and baking powder if using, processing again until it’s all mixed. You will probably need to scrape down the sides to make sure all the flour has been mixed in.

I didn’t have a suitable large tin, so decided to bake this as individual cakes. Plus marzipan makes this mixture very sticky, so the silicone moulds give an added non-stick back up.

Adjusting the baking time was tricksy. The original recipe says to bake for 50 minutes but check at 40. I checked at 20 minutes and they were done.

I left them to cool in the mould.

Still quite difficult to get out of the moulds, but they came away in the end.

The cakes are reminiscent of a steamed pudding, very light and, for me, a bit eggy this time around, so next time I will use 5 eggs not 6. That egginess faded after a few days and the cakes got more dense in texture.

Batter

Cakes in silicone tray

Finished cakes

Cake

They keep very well in an airtight container.

Thanks Nigella!

01/05/2014

Flapjacks

I’ve recently been watching a fabulous cookery show called A’Fuine, made by BBC Alba. A down to earth show about cooks up in the Hebrides, all cooking in their own kitchens, with no fancy camerawork, or hipster brown bags of ready weighed out goods. The equipment is well used, in many cases old and handed down, and the recipes are excellent.

I have one Dutch recipe to make when I have the time – Gevulde Speculaas - http://www.thedutchtable.com/2010/12/gevulde-speculaas.html but one I did have time for this weekend was flapjack. So off I went.

Recorded here so that I don’t lose the recipe.

6oz butter (I used salted)

5 oz brown sugar

2 tbs golden syrup

1 3/4 oz plain flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch salt

1/4 tsp orange flower extract

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

12 oz oatmeal (I used Co-op basic porridge oats)

Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup together until liquid and all the sugar has dissolved.

Add in the ret of the ingredients, some dried fruit if you fancy, then spread out on a lined baking sheet.

Press down well into the edges, making sure it’s even.

Mark lines into the mixture so you can just break them apart when cool.

Bake at 180C for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin before tipping out.

Flapjacks

14/04/2014

No Dough Pizza

No dough pizza. (Low carb high protein, NOT low fat at all.)

The cheese is essential to this, really. It holds the base together and gives it a more crust-like taste. You can add chopped fresh herbs to this, different meats, whatever you like. It’s good hot or cold.

6 medium eggs

1 chunk cooked gammon or ham, cubed (about a handful)

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and diced

1 small block halloumi cheese, coarsely grated

2-3 tbs grated parmesan (even the dried stuff is fine here)

1 ball of mozzarella, sliced

Dried oregano

(no salt is needed, the cheeses take care of that.)

Sauté the peppers and spring onions together until very soft, then set aside to cool a little.

Beat eggs and grated halloumi together, mix in the cooked vegetables, oregano, parmesan and chunks of ham and pour it all into a well greased baking dish.

Bake at 170C fan for about 20 minutes until puffed and going golden.

Dot the top with smears of tomato puree, and top with sliced mozzarella, then grill to melt and brown the cheese.

WARNING: the egg + cheese mixture will form into concrete in the corners of a metal tin, so line it well. It stuck so fast to the tin, I had to soak it in boiling water with some of the oxi-action stain remover before it shifted.


06/04/2014

Honey & Lemon Semolina Cake

Another flourless cake, though NOT gluten free as semolina is made from durum wheat.

This is a bloody lovely cake.

125g softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbs finely grated orange or lemon rind*
2 eggs
2 tbs brandy (I used rum as that's what I had)
1 cup fine semolina
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp baking power

Topping
2 packs shelled pistachio nuts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Clear honey
Heat oven to 200C.


Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind together until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Stir in the brandy.
Add semolina, almonds and baking powder then fold in to the butter mixture.
Put into an oiled tin (I used a silicone loaf tin)
Reduce oven to 180C, put the cake in and bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool and then poke holes all over it with a skewer.

Topping

Toast pistachios lightly in a dry pan.
Add enough clear honey to coat them all, then add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
Heat gently to mix. Taste a bit of the syrup, if it is too sharp, add another spoon of honey.
Pour the warm syrup all over the cake.
Leave to soak in.

Honey and Lemon cake

Useful: Oven Temperatures

                              
Very cool              200F           95      Gas 0
Very cool              225F           110     Gas ¼ 
Very cool              250F           120    Gas ½ 
Cool or slow         275F           135    Gas 1
Cool or slow         300F           150    Gas 2
Warm                    325F           165    Gas 3
Moderate              350F           175    Gas 4
Moderately hot     375F           190    Gas 5
Fairly hot              400F           200    Gas 6
Hot                        425F           220    Gas 7
Very Hot               450F           230    Gas 8
Very Hot               475F           245    Gas 9

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

My father in law has Coeliac Disease, and so cake was always a bit of a hit and miss affair, until ma in law made these little cakes.

It’s such a versatile recipe. You can make small ones, one large sheet cake, or bake it in sandwich tins. I’ve used all kinds of chocolate and types of nuts, because it’s so easy to swap and change things around.

Flourless Chocolate cake

200g bittersweet dark chocolate (I used Co-op Orange and Spice)

100g sugar (I used Demerara)

120g butter (salted is fine)

100g ground almonds (I have used coconut flour, ground walnuts, ground hazelnuts too.)

4 eggs separated (Nope, I don’t do this. It all gets mixed together.)

Heat oven to Gas 4 175C

Chop the chocolate into pieces, add the butter and sugar and let the whole lot melt gently over a very low heat. 

Let this cool for 5 minutes.

Then add the ground almonds and stir in well.

Beat the eggs in one at a time. (I added cinnamon extract here.)

Spoon into silicon muffin moulds or one large greased and lined tin.

Bake 30 minutes and let them cool in the moulds.

They can be crumbly, but no matter. Just eat them over a plate so you don’t lose any crumbs!

Cakes

I want to try this using white chocolate and ground macadamias or pistachios. Then perhaps coffee chocolate with pecan meal. White chocolate with added lemon might work, or dark with raspberry pieces…

Financiers

I’ve had a hankering to make small, almondy cakes for a while now. I remembered reading that Chloe had made Friands, and they looked so fabulous, that I think they’ve been in my brain ever since, so when I happened across a recipe for Financiers, I had to make them. That’s a very good site, and I do love a nice video to check things against.

Making the browned butter was interesting. Mine didn’t get the ‘milk solids falling to the bottom’ thing that happened in the video at all.

Butter

The liquid butter just got darker and darker. Maybe the difference between American and Irish (Kerrygold softer) butter? Who knows. It smelled fabulous though. So much so that I want to make a huge batch of it and use it in everything. It was richly buttery and smelled of caramel, like having a pan full of the taste of Werther’s.

Now. You see where is says to use 113g/half cup butter in the recipe? It isn’t. You use 113g/half a cup to make the browned butter, and use a THIRD of a cup in the recipe. I wondered why I didn’t have any left over! Still TASTY cakes.

Instructions taken from the website, my amendments in italics.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) with the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Place 12 rectangular or boat shaped tartlet moulds (each holds about 2 tablespoons of batter) on a baking sheet. (Can also use mini muffin cups. I used silicon muffin moulds.)

Place the butter in a small light coloured saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted let it come to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. As it boils you will notice that a foam will appear on the butter's surface. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned golden brown. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Let cool to room temperature. You will need 1/3 cup (80 ml) of brown butter. Use the leftover brown butter to butter the moulds (use a pastry brush). (I used the cheesecloth I had strained the butter though.)

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, ground almonds, confectioners sugar, and salt. Make a well in the centre and fold in the lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla, and the brown butter. (Here I also added 1 tsp almond extract.)

Fill each mould almost to the rim and bake for about 4 minutes (batter is set around the edges but still soft in the centre). Remove from the oven and gently place one or two fresh raspberries on top of each. Bake a further 5-7 minutes or until the Financiers have become golden brown around the edges and are springy to the touch. (I did not do this. No raspberries. I baked them for 12 minutes until done, in muffin trays that I half filled.)

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. These are best eaten warm from the oven, but they can be covered and stored for a few days at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

I used the last little bit of leftover batter to fill madeleine moulds and baked for 5 minutes. They work very well!

Read more:http://www.joyofbaking.com/Financiers.html#ixzz2y7AnRlDm

My husband was very happy with freshly baked warm almond cakes.

Cakes

 

Leftover batter

24/03/2014

Tahini Cake

Yes, that’s right. Tahini cake.

Tahini isn’t just for savoury things. It also makes the most delicious sweet things. After all, you can have sesame ice cream in Japan, and mochi rice sweets with a sesame filling, yes?

Sesame is one of those things, like cinnamon, which is neither sweet nor savoury, despite the thought that one is sweet, and one is savoury. Both are, in actuality, neutral, but lend themselves extremely well to both, and can be used either way.

I use cinnamon in beef stews, and crushed with garlic and butter to put under and over the skin of a roast chicken. Cinnamon goes in my Bolognese sauce, and my chilli con carne. It’s an undertone mostly, just that hint of something, unless I make stifado, in which case it’s a full on hit, combined with rich, red wine, beef and onions.

Sesame paste is a wondrous thing. I grew up with it in houmous, but my most favourite thing was a coiled cake called tahinopita. Oh how I loved those sticky pastries. I still do.

Tahini cake is an easier way to get that taste, without all the fiddle. If you do not like tahini – and I am aware it can be an acquired taste – then you can use smooth peanut butter. Just warn people in the kitchen about which one you are using, because when as ex of mine took a joyful spoonful of tahini before I could stop him…let’s just say that he was not a happy boy.

I will also admit that tahini can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it can be so bitter that it’s just too overpowering, but at other times, it can be so silky smooth that I could eat it all on its own, just with some warm bread.

My favourite one so far has been from The Turkish Deli in Borough Market. It hasn’t let me down yet.

And so. The cake.

The recipe is taken from my very old Greek cookery book, The Best Book of Greek Cookery, from around 1976 or so. My original one lost the back few pages, and the cover, but oh joy of joys, I found a reprint.

3 cups plain flour, sieved

2 tsp baking powder and 1 of bicarb

1 tsp salt

1 cup tahini mixed together with 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts, sultanas and candied peel if wished

1/2 tsp cinnamon extract or 1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing sugar

Whisk the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt together.

Pour in the tahini/orange/water mixture. (Add the extracts to this if using)

Stir very well. It will be very stiff, more like a dough.

Pour – well, gloop – into an oiled tin 13” x 9 x 1” deep.

Bake in a moderate oven (oh Greek measurements! I set the oven at 170C fan) and bake for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with icing sugar if you like, but I added cinnamon sugar to the top before baking.

For a cake with no eggs, and no oil, it’s pretty light!

Flour and oranges

Finished cake

Cinnamon sugar surface

Enjoy! I know I will.

Turkish Breakfast Rolls - acma

I love bread. Almost all bread. But there is a special place in my heart for sweet, tender, yeasted doughs that yield to the knife with just the merest hint of resistance and accept the butter graciously.

Turkish breakfast rolls are one such bread. I love them, I wanted to make them, and I found a very easy recipe which proved to be not only easy, but fairly quick, and a great success too.

This is very important to me because I am not a confident baker at all, especially when it comes to yeasted doughs. I always desperately want it to work, and it’s never quite how I want it to be.

THIS WAS.

Here is the original recipe, all thanks to Christi at the excellent Honey and Butter blog. Christi is married to a Turkish chap, and has the most brilliant recipes, and stunning photos on her site.

Acma (Rich Turkish Breakfast Rolls)

1 1/2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin because that’s what I always have)
1 medium egg, separated
3 tbs sugar (I used golden caster)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs yeast (1 7g sachet of dried)
500g strong white bread flour

Separate the egg yolk. That is for glazing the rolls later.

Beat the egg white a little and mix with the milk, oil, sugar, salt, yeast and flour. I mixed it all in with a dinner knife, and then kneaded it for a couple of minutes, just to bring it together.

Set aside, covered,  to rise for 1 hour. I left it for 4 hours, and it was still fine.

Divide the dough into egg sized pieces. This made 12 rolls, each was about 78g. Yes, I weighed them. Smile

Shape each into a rope and twist. I DID NOT DO THIS.

Bring the ends together and seal. OR THIS.

I just shaped them into balls using this method by Richard Bertinet (from 12.15 minutes though I could watch him for hours.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOjSp5_YiF0

The dough is incredibly well behaved, and lets you shape and roll with no sticky problems.

Place the rolls on a baking sheet. I use a non-stick silicone liner because they are so useful and truly non-stick.

Brush with the reserved egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Let rise for 30 minutes. Squeak excitedly when they actually rise.

Bake at 375/Fan 170C for 15 minutes. USE A TIMER.

Squeak again when they attain oven spring.

Remove, and let cool on a rack.

TELL TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ALL ABOUT IT  EXCITEDLY!

Egg yolk

Milk and yeast dough first mix

Risen

Shaped and seeded

After 30 minutes

Oven spring

Finished rolls

The finished article. Slightly sweet, rich but not too much. Fluffy and light but substantial enough for sandwich fillings.

Finished roll

Next time I could fill these with cheese and parsley, or a sweetened tahini filling – the possibilities are endless.

Thank you Christi!

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07.05.2014 UPDATE

This bread has been on my mind since the last time I made it, so today I baked it as a loaf, in the hope that I could get it out of the forefront of my cooking brain.

It worked extremely well as a loaf. Soft and airy, almost brioche-like in texture, but without all the butter and eggs. I baked it for 18 minutes at 170C fan.

Here, have some photos, before I eat the whole thing.

Acma shaped loaf

Finished loaf

Close up

Crumb

Torn section