Monday, February 08, 2016

plate 2 plate - jo rodgers chocolate hazelnut and rosemary pie

For this month's Plate Plate post, Juliana suggested something chocolate flavoured in honour of Valentine's Day. I've only recently discovered instagram and in particular Jo Rodgers feed. When I saw these pictures of her Chocolate hazelnut and rosemary pie I thought I'd like to give the recipe a try.

Assembling the ingredients - photo by Juliana.

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As a nod to Valentine's Day I couldn't help myself and dug out my heart shaped cutters. The rosemary I used in the pie came from a small rosemary bush in my garden.

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Juliana and I both made some changes to the recipe. Juliana left the syrup out entirely whilst I reduced the quantity of sugar.

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I haven't made pastry for a while and used my food processor to speed up the process. Jo's pastry was very easy to handle. Oops, just noticed that some-one (that would be me) can't spell hazelnut.

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Here's Juliana's pie out of the oven ready to be cut.

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I'm always worried that the filling won't set so I added a tablespoon of flour to the filling. I needn't have bothered because it came out fine.

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Here's a nice slice of the pie courtesy of Juliana.

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For the original recipe click hereI made some adjustments as I didn't have enough light corn syrup and as it's a hard to find product in Sydney, I used some dark corn syrup and some golden syrup as well. Golden syrup is much sweeter than corn syrup, so I reduced the sugar a little. I always use a tablespoon of flour in my pecan pie to firm the filling a little so I did the same here. I also found that my flour and caster sugar weighed more, so I've noted the weight of the flour and sugar that I used. 100 g of whole hazelnuts wasn't enough to fill my 8 inch pie tin so I halved the hazelnuts. If you use whole hazelnuts, I think you'd need about 200g to fill the pie tin. 

For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C

Jo Rodgers’ Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rosemary Pie (adapted)

For the pastry
1½ cups (225g) plain flour
¼ tsp salt
115g/4oz cold butter, diced
60ml (¼ cup) cold water
1 tbs milk

For the filling
100-200 g (¾ - 1½ cup) whole hazelnuts
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup each light corn syrup, dark corn syrup and golden syrup or ¾ cup of your chosen syrup
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 tbs plain flour
100g melted unsalted butter
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
170g/6oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, for the top of the pie

To serve
Cream or mascarpone

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the diced cold butter and whiz for about 10 seconds or until the butter is pea sized. Tip out on to a flat surface, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the cold water. Using your hands, mix the water into the flour until dough is formed. Otherwise, on a flat work surface, combine the flour and salt, then incorporate the cold diced butter with your fingers. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are no larger than the size of peas then continue as above. Wrap the pastry in plastic and put in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven until they begin to get fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let the hazelnuts cool, then rub off the skins; you can do this with your fingers or a cloth towel.

Grease an 8-9 inch pie plate. Roll out the dough wider than your pie tin. Gently lay the dough into the tin and trim the overhanging dough with a sharp knife. Put the pie tin back in the fridge while you make the filling.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, the syrups, sugar, flour, melted butter, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir in the chopped rosemary. Take the pie tin out of the refrigerator, and brush the edges of the dough with milk. This will help the pie to brown nicely.

Spread the chopped chocolate evenly over the bottom of the pie. Pour the filling over the chocolate then arrange the hazelnuts in concentric circles on top of the filling. If you halve the hazelnuts you'll need about 100g. If you use whole hazelnuts, you'll need about 200g to fill the pie tin. Place the single sprig of rosemary in the centre of the pie.

Bake the pie for 1 hour at 180°C/350°F or until the pie is browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool for one hour before serving. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or cream

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The finished product from Juliana whilst mine is below.

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This recipe was a bit of a challenge for me as it's the first time I've cooked pastry in my new oven. The oven is slow so I found I had to bake the pie for an hour before the filling had set. The verdict - the pie is delicious  and it went down a treat at work but I found it very sweet. Next time I'd reduce the sugar even more, maybe to ½ cup in total to offset the syrup and the chocolate. 

Thanks to Jo for the inspiration and for Juliana for continuing with Plate 2 Plate challenge.

Until next time,


Monday, February 01, 2016

plum and apple chutney

I made a chicken curry a few weeks back and used up the last of my Delhi Chutney, a spicy mango, apple and date chutney. I went out to buy tinned mango, a key ingredient in the chutney, but there was none at the supermarket. I had plums in the house, so I tracked down a recipe for plum chutney on the internet. I settled on a Nigel Slater recipe and as I didn't have  quite enough plums, I used some apple in the recipe.

I quite like making jams and chutneys, so I pulled out my low Le Creuset pan, measured out all the ingredients and set to work.

Once everything is measured out, all you need to do is stir regularly while its cooking and when the chutney is nice and thick, spoon it into hot sterilised jars. It's best to store the chutney for a while to let it mature. I used some on my lunch on Saturday.The chutney is pretty sharp at first but 2 weeks later the chutney had mellowed quite a bit. 

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from this Nigel Slater recipe.

Plum and Apple Chutney
500g plums
250g green apple
350g onions, chopped
125g raisins
250g light muscovado or brown sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp crushed dried chillies
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
150ml apple cider vinegar
150ml malt vinegar
a cinnamon stick broken in two

Halve the plums, discarding the stones. Peel core and dice the green apple then peel and roughly chop the onions. Put the fruit and the onions into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce the heat to low.

Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1½ - 2 hours until the mixture thickens. Don’t forget to stir it occasionally as it may catch if you don’t and you don’t want that to happen! Pour into hot and sterilised jam jars. Seal.

Store in a cool dark place. If you can, leave the chutney to mature for at least a month before using.

Next week Juliana and I are planning something special for Valentine's Day. I've just had a new stove fitted, so I'm hoping all goes well....

Bye for now,


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Blueberry Cheesecake

Today it's my day off and I was busy as ever. I've done a studio shoot; prepared the images from the shoot; visited the travel agent; been to a cycle class; had some blood tests done and prepared the dinner. For my dessert I'm going to have a piece of this blueberry cheesecake.

March is a huge birthday month for me. Today is Farmer Andrew's birthday; last week 3 friends celebrated their birthdays and this week 2 more friends are having birthdays. I made this cheesecake for a workmates birthday 2 weeks ago. It's my usual apple cheesecake recipe but instead of using apples I thought I'd make it with blueberries instead.

I've not tried the cheesecake yet but it was all gone by lunchtime, which is a good sign.

Can you spot my new cups? - my only purchase from my recent trip to Melbourne.

I was quite generous when I cut my slice, so I'm having half the piece for my dessert tonight and I'll have the other half tomorrow night.

I've done a lot of shooting the last 2 weeks so there are many images to prepare. I'll be back on Wednesday with some more photos - maybe the rest of my Dungog photos.

Meanwhile it's time to put the oven on for my dinner so I'll finish here.

See you all on Wednesday,


Edit - oh dear. I've been doing some background work on the blog, tidying up old lay-outs and reattaching broken links. This is a post from 2010 that somehow snuck into 2016. See you all on Monday.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pannacotta Lamingtons

As it's Australia Day tomorrow, I felt duty bound to make some lamingtons. For those of you new to the blog, it's a bit of a tradition around here. Each year I make a batch of lamingtons for Australia Day but each year I like to try something different. One year I made a large lamington cake. Another year I made lamington cupcakes and this year I made some pannacotta lamingtons.

I did not come up with the idea. The credit must go to Nadine Ingram, baker extraordinare from Flour and Stone bakery in Woolloomooloo in Sydney. Her original recipe can be found here. I've not eaten one of these before so I was flying by the seat of my pants when I made these. 

I pretty much used my regular lamington recipe but jazzed it up with the addition of some yoghurt pannacotta. Yoghurt pannacotta is much thicker than regular pannacotta, so I had a bit of trouble getting it to soak into the cake. I binned the first batch and tried again. This time I poured the pannacotta mixture over the still hot cake and pierced it many time with a fine skewer. This time I was much more successful but I was still left with a thin coating of pannacotta on the top of the cake. I forged ahead.

Nadine makes a double layer lamington and she sandwiches her lamingtons with some home made raspberry jam. I pulled out a pot of my home made summer berry jam but when I tried to sandwich the cakes, the top cake slid right off the jam topped pannacotta layer. I could have persevered and turned the pannacotta layer upside down but I couldn't be bothered and I decided my lamingtons would be single layered ones like the originals.

I took the lamingtons in to work and waited for the feedback. They were judged a roaring success, so here's the recipe so you can make them for yourself. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Pannacotta Lamingtons (Makes 24)

Yoghurt Pannacotta
1 tablespoon cold water
1¼ teaspoons gelatine
½ cup full cream milk
Scant ¼ cup caster sugar
½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 cup Greek yoghurt

Butter Cake
125 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter
150 grams (¾ cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
¾ cup milk

Chocolate icing
10g (2 tsp) butter
60g (2oz) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sifted icing sugar
¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (125 ml) milk

3-4 cups coconut, desiccated, shredded, flakes or a combination of all three.

Yoghurt Pannacotta
Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine over the water. Set aside until the gelatine has softened, 5 minutes. Place the milk, the sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatine. Cool to room temperature, and then remove the vanilla bean from the milk mixture. Gradually whisk the milk into the yoghurt and stir together gently. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a jug and leave to one side while you make the cake.

Preheat oven to moderate (180°C conventional). Line the base and sides of a lamington tin (20 x 30 cm) with baking paper.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined well. Add the flour alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk. Spread the mixture into the prepared tin; smooth the surface. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden and springs back when lightly touched.

Place onto a cooling rack and prick the surface all over with a skewer. Pour about half of the pannacotta mixture over the still warm cake. As it’s absorbed, add a little more pannacotta. You won’t use all the pannacotta mixture. Let the cake cool before covering and placing in the fridge over night.  

The following day, make the chocolate icing. Take the cake from the fridge and cut into 24 squares. Dip a square into the icing; drain off excess, then toss the cake in coconut. I normally coat 3 or 4 cakes then toss the coconut out as it becomes stained and start again with fresh coconut. Place cakes on wire rack to set, pannacotta side down. I used a combination of desiccated, shredded and flaked or you could use just desiccated or shredded coconut.

Chocolate Icing
Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir sifted icing sugar and cocoa into the chocolate. Add the vanilla extract and enough milk to make an icing of a coating consistency. As the icing thickens you can thin it out with a little more milk or boiling water or you can zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds on high.

These lamingtons are a labour of love as they take 2 days to make, cool and ice but the end result is worth it. Soaking the cake layer in pannacotta is a genius idea because it makes the lamingtons so moist.

Don't take my word for it, you just have to make these for yourself!

See you all again next week,

Bye for now,


Monday, January 18, 2016

lentil keftedes with dill yoghurt

I've been subscribing to Delicious magazine for a few years. Since Valli Little stepped down as food director, I've not been so keen on the direction the magazine has taken and as I'm running out of space on my shelves I've let my subscription lapse. I still get the magazine delivered to work so as long as I stay employed there (!) I'll be able to check out the magazine.

I looked through the current issue on the train ride home from work and spied these lentil keftedes from the Jamie Oliver magazine. I picked up some spinach, parsley and dill as I already had feta, greek yoghurt and eggs in the fridge. The rest of the ingredients were lurking in the cupboard.

Here's the recipe for you from Delicious Magazine Feb 2016 or Jamie's Magazine Sept/Oct 2015

Lentil Keftedes with Dill Yoghurt - serves 4-6 

Lentil Keftedes
290 ml extra virgin olive oil
200g baby spinach leaves
400g can brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
100g feta, crumbled
70g fresh breadcrumbs
Green leaf salad to serve

Heat 2 tbs oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the spinach and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook 3-4 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Transfer to a colander to drain and cool slightly. Squeeze out the excess liquid, then roughly chop. Set aside.

Whiz the lentils in a food processor to a paste. Add 1 egg and whiz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl with the the dill, parsley, feta, breadcrumbs, drained spinach and the remaining egg. Season to taste.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frypan over a medium heat. In batches, scoops tablespoon portions of the keftedes mixture into the hot oil flattening slightly and cook for 3-4 minutes each side until golden and cooked through. Serve the keftedes with a green leaf salad and the dill yoghurt for dipping.

Dill Yoghurt
1/2 cup dill leaves, finely chopped
1 cup thick Greek style yoghurt
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 tbs olive oil

For the dill yoghurt, place all the ingredients in a bowl. Season then stir to combine. Set aside.

The keftedes made for a quick and tasty Sunday lunch so I'll be adding this recipe to my repertoire.

See you all again next week with something for Australia Day.

Bye for now,


Monday, January 11, 2016

apricot and olive oil cake

Hi every-one. I'm back! Did you miss me? I've been back at work for a week now and as I'm not working in my normal area I feel a bit like a fish out of water. I'm also pretty tired as the work is heavy and most nights I'm fast asleep by 8.00 p.m. I wanted to make something to share with you but I knew it had to be quick, simple to make and delicious.

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With apricots in season I looked through my cookbooks to find something to bake. Last year I bought the book 'Made in Italy' by Silvia Colloca but until now I've not had time to make anything from the book. I watched the companion tv series and I remember Silvia making an apricot cake that was mixed in a saucepan.

I found the recipe in the book and here it is, Silvia Colloca's recipe for Apricot and olive oil cake - serves 8

170g caster sugar
230ml milk
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons mistrĂ  or sambuca (optional; see note)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1⅓ cups self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
7-8 apricots, cut in half
flaked almonds, for sprinkling
fresh ricotta and honey, to serve (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Grease and flour a 21cm square or 27 x 21cm rectangular cake tin (or line it with baking paper).

Place the sugar, milk and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over low heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not let the milk come to the boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla seeds, olive oil and liqueur (if using), then let the mixture cool for 5-10 minutes.

Add the beaten eggs, flour and bicarbonate of soda and whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the apricot halves on top any way you like. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 30-35 minutes or until pale golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool at room temperature for 1 hour before cutting. Serve just as it is or with honey-drizzled ricotta.

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Notes: For an alcohol-free version, replace the liqueur with milk. If using very small apricots, layer quarters on top of each other so that they won't completely sink into the batter as it cooks.

The cake is extremely moist and tastes delicious but I think it could do with a little less liquid. My apricots were small so I made 2 layers of fruit as Silvia suggested, otherwise all the fruit would have sunk to the bottom of the tin. As the apricot season is so short here and the cake is so simple to put together, I'll make it again with either plums or nectarines as and play around with the quantity of liquid.

P. S I just bought a new oven! It means I won't have to use a dining room chair to keep the oven door shut with any longer. I'm also in the process of arranging a trip to Iceland in the middle of the year so I've been busy.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

plate 2 plate - Cracked Green Olives with Cardamom and Harissa

Welcome to the last Plate 2 Plate post for 2015, where Juliana and I take the same recipe but make and style it our own way. Juliana suggested this simple marinated olive recipe from Ghillie Basan's book, Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous.

Here's Juliana's image.

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I looked through my cupboards and was low on cumin and coriander seeds so off to the fruit shop I went, list in hand.

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Isn't this an elegant composition by Juliana?

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The cracked green olives I already had, lovingly prepared by the wife of one of my Greek patients. 

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I bought this mortar and pestle ages ago and I've just been waiting for the right opportunity to use it. It ground those toasted spices in no time at all. Image below by Juliana.

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These olives are really easy to make and pretty tasty. 

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With all that Harissa, I thought they might be a bit too spicy but they're not as hot as I feared. btw, isn't Juliana's berry spoon lovely?

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I always like to give something from my kitchen at Christmas time. I thought a bottle of these olives would make the perfect hand made gift along with some of the other things I've been making, like these sour cherry amaretti and some chocolate coated peanut and pretzel brittle. To make this batch of chocolate coated peanut and pretzel brittle, I used the quantity of ingredients from the chocolate compost brittle but used the method from this recipe

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Here's the recipe for Cracked Green Olives with Cardamom and Harissa from Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous by Ghillie Basan, serves 4-6

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1-2 tsp cardamom seeds
4-6 black peppercorns
2-3 Tbs olive oil
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tsp Harissa
350g/12oz. cracked green olives, rinsed and drained

Dry roast the cumin, coriander and cardamom seed with the black peppercorns in a skillet, until they emit a nutty aroma. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the roasted spices to a coarse powder. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice and add the Harissa.

Put the olives into a serving bowl and spoon the spice mixture over them. Toss well and leave to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The olives will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

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Thanks again to Juliana for the recipe and for her photographs. 

That's my last post for 2015 so all the best to you and yours over the holiday season. See you all again in 2016 with some more recipes from my kitchen.

Bye for now,