Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lemon Pound Cake

Um, hi?

I recently made a batch of lemon myrtle financiers with macadamia nuts and berries. (You can find the basic Bourke Street Bakery recipe here - I just added a couple of teaspoons of powdered lemon myrtle to the batter, and added nuts along with the berries.)

To use up some of the left-over egg yolks, I made this cake. And I think it actually turned out better than the financiers. (Apologies for the instagram photo, I'm too lazy to upload another.)

Lemon Pound Cake

90g butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 180 C. Butter and flour a small loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy.

Separately, beat the yolks until light and lighter coloured. Then work the yolks into the butter and sugar.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to the first mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat well.

Blend in the lemon zest and juice and the extract.

Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake about 45 to 50 minutes until golden and baked through.

Cool in pan on rack for about 45 minutes. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly. Pour lemon sauce on top.

Lemon sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
a dash salt
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 -3 tablespoons lemon juice

In a saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Blend well.

Stir in the boiling water.

Keep on medium heat, stirring. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add the lemon zest and the fresh lemon juice.

From Italian Dessert Recipes

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mushrooms with Quinoa

This was my contribution to a Christmas dinner - and yes, I am quite late with these photos. Some of the other dishes:

a-league xmas dinner

a-league xmas dinner
Lentil salad

a-league xmas dinner
Smoked salmon

And here's mine:

a-league xmas dinner

Mushrooms with quinoa and lemon

The original recipe called for pearl barley, for which I substituted white quinoa.

100g unsalted butter
15 sprigs thyme
6 large mushrooms (Portobello or other)
180ml dry white wine
250ml vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
salt and pepper

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
750ml vegetable stock (or less)
110g white quinoa
1 quarter preserved lemon, flesh removed and skin finely chopped
50g fetta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 tbsp basil leaves, shredded
1 tbsp

Start with the quinoa: heat the oil in a saucepan and saute garlic and onion until translucent. Add stock and bring to the boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat, then stir on simmer until quinoa is cooked and liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 180C. Grease a baking tray with 2/3 of the butter, scatter with sprigs of thyme, and place mushrooms on top with stem-side up. Dot each mushroom with butter and season with salt and pepper. Cover tray with foil and place in oven for 15-20 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Leave in their cooking juices until ready to serve.

Remove quinoa from heat and stir in the lemon, feta, parsley and thyme. Season to taste.

To serve, scoop quinoa on to mushroom and spoon some of the mushroom cooking juices over. Garnish with basil and olive oil.

From Ottolenghi: the cookbook

Monday, December 5, 2011

A brief fooding journey through Malaysia

Fishball soup, Imbi markets
Fishball soup at Imbi markets in Kuala Lumpur. Not pictured but consumed at the same location: kopi ais, kropiah, and kaya toast. Yuuuum.

Black pepper crab - Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang
Black pepper crab on Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang, KL.

Jalan Alor
Fruit stalls on Jalan Alor.

Sek Yuen Restoran
Delicious feast of roast duck, sweet and sour fish, ginger chicken and kangkong at Sek Yuen Restoran in KL, where no one knows how to speak English, there are no menus, and hapless tourists (me) are forced to rely upon their mostly-forgotten Cantonese and sign language. It was totally worth it though.

Palate Palette
Cocktails at Palate Palette, a cute bar/restaurant in Bukit Bintang, KL.

More photos after the jump.

Little Dorrit (TBR #9) and The Dragon Keeper (TBR #10)

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (#9)
Merchant's son Arthur Clennan finds himself involved in the affairs of the Dorrits - a wellborn family fallen on hard times, their patriarch now imprisoned in debtor's gaol while his children dance, sew and steal for their suppers. In his attempts to help the Dorrits extricate themselves from their debts, Clennan runs smack-bang into an impenetrable wall of British government bureaucracy.

Dickens as usual is at his best when sketching a scene, skewering the absurd, or bringing his eccentric characters to life - Clennan's former fiancee and her run-on sentences are something else to read, believe you me. There are many passages that made me want to laugh out loud or shake my head or read it over again. He writes with such a clear eye, too, on the bonds of familial love, and the ways people imprison themselves - through religion, through social convention, through fear.

But at the same time, as though he doesn't even know what's best about his own writing, the central characters are so dull and self-righteous - our heroes Clennan and Little Amy Dorrit are so virtuous and gentle and good that I could barely stand it. Give me arrogant Fanny Dorrit over good Little Dorrit any day - or the coldly man-hating Miss Wade and her protege Tattycoram, or the charming Ferdinand and Bar Barnacle. Any of them, please. (And this is also why I love Great Expectations SO much more than David Copperfield.)

The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb (#10)
The first of a projected 4 books in The Rain Wild Chronicles, this is both more of the same and a welcome return to form for Hobb. More of the same because this is more or less a continuation of the epic fantasy world she created in The Liveship Traders - focusing on a trading town in a lush but harsh land where the rivers run acid, and the townspeople find themselves in alliance with a newly hatched generation of misshapen dragons. And a return to form because as far as I'm concerned she's been in a slump since those very same books, published over a decade ago (let's never talk of The Tawny Man and Soldier Son books, okay?).

If you're familiar with Hobb, then this book should feel like somewhat familiar ground. A ragtag assortment of outsiders are our protagonists - this time a lonely Trader woman seeking solace in dragon study, a captain with a secret to hide, and a Rainwilder girl who should have been exposed at birth due to her disfigurements - on a journey without a clear destination - this time, escorting those misshapen dragons to a perhaps apocyraphal ancient city. Hobb's prickly, emotionally conflicted characters fit in well with her history bastard princes and tomboy noblewomen - if you enjoyed those books you'll likely enjoy this - if you've yet to try, I'd probably suggest starting with the Farseer or Liveship books anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Twin Peaks Cherry Pie

Halloween = best time or best time for a Twin Peaks themed morning tea? We all dressed up for the occasion (most of us anyway) and I teamed up with my friend Serena to make this pie, served with some damn good coffee.

Twin Peaks Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lemon
400g unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used 350g)
200g caster sugar
600g plain flour
pinch of salt
brown sugar for sprinkling

1.6kg of bottled cherries, or 4 x 400g pitted cherries, or 2kg of fresh cherries pitted (I used about 1.2kg of pitted Morello cherries)
300g raspberries (I used frozen)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
100g icing sugar
50g cornflour

To make the pastry, mix 2 of the eggs with the 2 egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest and juice. Reserve the third egg for an egg wash later on.

Using a mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until pale and creamy. Add the egg mixture a litle at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Sift on the flour and salt, beating slowly until the mixture just comes together as a ball. Don't overmix or the dough will be tough. Shape the pastry into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refridgerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a tart tin (or don't, if it's non-stick - the pastry was plenty buttery on its own, even with the reduction in the butter I used). Reserve a third of the pastry in the fridge for the topping. Roll out the rest on a lightly floured work surface to about 0.5cm thickness.

Lift the pastry on to the prepared tart tin and ease it in to the edges. Refridgerate for 20 minutes.

(Let me pause for a moment here to share a tip I learnt from - YES - Junior Masterchef. Hilarious, no? Maybe this is a trick everyone else knows already but it was new to me, and it was new to Serena, so: the thing is, in the past, getting the pastry from bench/board to tin has been my downfall. Often have I wept, gnashed teeth, etc, over pastry breaking and splitting in my hands. And then a couple of weeks ago, I saw a kid on Junior MC doing the most simple, amazing thing: he rolled out the pastry on his benchtop, then rolled the pastry back around and over his rolling pin, carried it over and then let it unfurl gently into the waiting tart tin. BRILLIANT. We did this today and it was perfection!)

Line the pastry with foil and fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and weights, prick the base with a fork, and bake for 8 minutes.

Lightly beat the last egg and brush the pastry case lightly. Return to the oven for 2 minutes to seal, then remove from over and if necessary trim edges.

Roll out the reserved pastry to 0.5cm thickness and use a pastry cutter or sharp knife to cut into 1cm strips. If your filling's not ready, cover with a tea towel. (Serena was in sole charge of this part and she was great - she used a serrated bread knife to cut out the strips, which gave them nice little edges.)

We did the filling while waiting around for the pastry to blind bake, but I guess you can do it whenever you like. To make the filling, combine the cherries, raspberries, lemon zest and juice, and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl. Toss together gently to avoid breaking up the fruit. Tip into a colander to drain away excess liquid - we did this a few times, as we had a lot of liquid from the frozen raspberries. Mix gently with the cornflour. Then pile the fruit into the prepared tart shell.

Lay the pastry strips across the top of the tart to form a lattice. Brush the pastry with reserved egg wash, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin.

Serve with icecream (optional), while drinking coffee (essential) and watching Twin Peaks (not essential but a laudable life choice).

From The Good Life by Adrian Richardson, via the Kinokuniya Cookbook Catalogue October 2011.

Twin Peaks Cherry Pie