Friday, 30 October 2015

Balliol Veggie Bake

Now this recipe takes me back, my daughter was very young and it was one of her favourite things to eat. When grandma joined us for dinner she would often help herself to more of the molten cheese topping than might be considered fair and my daughter would watch her like a hawk as her grandmother dug down rather sideways more than vertically, scooping out more of the toasty cheese. I usually made up for it by transferring some of the topping from my portion to hers, smiles all around.
This recipe is ideal when you need to feed a number of people, easily 6-8 hungry souls in this case, on a tight budget. If you establish a good relationship with your local market greengrocer you'll find he or she will be happy to help out with vegetables at the end of the trading day that can be sold more cheaply, disfigured or uneven size for instance. Where better than the excellent covered market in Oxford.
Tinned plum tomatoes which are a store cupboard essential and almost always cheaper than pre-chopped, boost the savoury flavour. Personally I would never use fresh tomatoes unless you grow them and have a glut. The list of vegetables below is what I had available, but this can be made using a far greater variety, I had some cauliflower left over from the other day and I found edemame beans on offer in the supermarket yesterday. Use whatever you have available, but do begin with garlic and either onion or leek. Roughly 750g of mixed vegetables.

For this recipe you will need;
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
100g of onions
150g of potatoes
200g of carrots
100g of red pepper
100g of cauliflower
100g of edemame beans
1 tin of plum tomatoes
100g of red lentils
200g of bulgur wheat
1 tablespoon of bouillon powder or other vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
200g of cheddar or other hard cheese.

 In a large oven proof casserole, begin by gently frying the chopped garlic in the olive oil. Add the onions and after a minute or two add the remaining vegetables having cut them up into chunks. Add the tomatoes having squished them with your hands (a very satisfying job). Fill the empty tin with water three times and add. Add the stock powder, pepper and red lentils, simmer for ten minutes before adding the bulgur wheat, stirring to evenly distribute. Place the casserole with its lid, in a medium oven 160C and bake for an hour. Take the casserole out, remove the lid and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return the casserole to the oven without its lid, having turned the heat up to 200, 15 minutes should see the cheese thoroughly melted, bubbling and brown. Serve with a crisp salad, filling, delicious and above all inexpensive.

This basic recipe for what is in essence a soup thickened with lentils and bulgur to form a bake, can be varied considerably by the use of different vegetables but also spices and herbs of your choice. The stock can be varied, a great opportunity to rinse out the last of a jar of pesto or similar sauce and added to the 3 tins of water.
This dish is light on protein but you can always increase the amount of cheese if you wish                                                              

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Balliol Apple Cake

There are many apple cake recipes in Britain of course but I do recommend mine, not least because it is a recipe I had to make 5 times, tweaking with each version, before I came up with the final one. This cake is tender, light, moist and full of apple flavour. If you make the extra effort and make the candied apple click here for the recipe, you will be rewarded, however you can make the easier version, using fresh diced apple.

For this cake you will need

200g of self raising flour
130g of ground almonds
230g of light muscovado sugar
160g of melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
300g of candied apple + 100g of grated fresh apple
OR 400g of diced fresh apple
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

Begin by lining a 20cm by 8cm round cake tin, with baking parchment. Make the candied apple if using by following the recipe on the above link, you will need to use 400g of diced apples, 120g of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid but follow the instructions. The proportions are different when you make larger amounts.
Begin mixing the cake by melting the butter and allowing to cool completely, at least 15 minutes. Heat up the oven to 160C.
In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, muscovado sugar, salt and eggs until smooth. Add the ground almonds and mix in thoroughly. Finally fold in the flour followed by the candied apple and grated apple if using or diced fresh apples, Place in the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar on the top. Bake in the center of the oven for and hour and ten minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

It's really important to allow the melted butter to cool completely before mixing in with the other ingredients, if you don't, the heat will activate the baking powder and you will end up with a cake that rises too soon then sinks.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Pecan & Cinnamon Brioche

I'm very fond of pecan & cinnamon Danish pastries, it occurred to me that they could also be made using my brioche recipe rather than a croissant dough. They can, here is photographic evidence and very very good they are too!

For this recipe you will need
1 portion of brioche dough click here for the recipe
2 tablespoons of date syrup
150g of pccan nuts
1 tablespoon of demerara sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder

2 teaspoons of date syrup
50g of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of water

Toast the pecan nuts in a moderate oven 180C for 10 minutes. Once cooled, process in a food processor along with the sugar and cinnamon on a pulse setting 4 or 5 times to just break up the nuts and thoroughly mix the sugar and spice.

At the point where the brioche dough is ready to be taken out of the fridge and shaped, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle roughly 30cm by 40cm. Spread with the date syrup and sprinkle with the nut mixture. Roll up to form a long roll and slice into 12 to 16 pieces. Place in muffin pans lined with muffin cases. Leave at room temperature until doubled in size. I usually shape these last thing before going to bed and leaving them for 8 hours before baking them for breakfast, but of course my house is on the chilly side. Place in a hot oven 200C, turn down the heat to 180 and bake for 17 to 20 minutes. Mix the glaze ingredients and drizzle on the top, return to the oven having switched off the heat. Leave for 3 minutes.

Serve warm!

Apple Crumble Ice Cream

My friend Coral and I go scrumping at this time of year, so along with the apples I grow myself, I have an abundance of them. In the village there is an abandoned orchard with row upon row of old trees laden with large apples, sadly this year may be the last time we can bring back masses of the crisp fruit since the orchard is becoming increasingly taken over by the ubiquitous bramble.

I really enjoy making ice cream and have for some time wanted to create a recipe for an apple flavoured one. There is a fair bit of effort in making the two extra components that transform the ice cream into the completed apple crumble dessert, you can always chose not to bother making the candied apple and the crumble but do consider making the ice cream, the rich creaminess belies the fact that there is a large component of apple.

For the ice cream you will need;
600g of double cream
240g of caster sugar
500g of apples, peeled and cored
3 yolks from large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of citric acid
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Begin by dicing the apples. Add the citric acid or use the juice from half a lemon as an alternative. Add 200g of the sugar and cook over a very gentle heat for 15 minutes or so. The sugar will dissolve and the cubes of apple will change from opaque to translucent as the sugar and the heat draws out and drives off the water. Blend the cubes of apple along with all juices in a blender until it becomes a really smooth puree (always be careful blending hot ingredients, they expand and the lid can be forced off)
Make the custard base for the ice cream by whisking the egg yolks along with the 40g of sugar. In a saucepan, heat up the cream to scalding, just below boiling point. Add the cream to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking while you do so. Return the mix to the saucepan and over a very gentle heat, heat the custard until it begins to thicken, Do this slowly in order to avoid heating too much and causing the custard to split. Remove from the heat and whisk in the apple puree and salt. Place in a container and once cooled, leave to chill in the fridge  I usually leave mine overnight before continuing to churn into ice cream. I would suggest you do need an ice cream churning machine to make great textured ice cream, there are inexpensive ones on the market that require you to freeze the unit before churning. If you wish to make ice cream in larger quantities and often then it's worth investing in a machine that freezes while it churns.
Churn the ice cream and transfer it to a polythene container, pop it into the freezer to complete the firming process, ideally 8 hours.

For the crumble you will need;
40g of slightly salted butter
70g of plain flour
50g of sugar
Rub the ingredients together until you have a breadcrumb like mixture. Form into large crumbs by squeezing together a little before baking on a baking tray in a moderate oven 160C for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crumbs take on  a golden colour. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

For the candied apple you will need;
100g of diced apples
60g of caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon of citric acid

Again bring the ingredients to a slow simmer in a saucepan until the small dice become translucent. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake in a low oven 100C for 40 to 50 minutes or until the apples have firmed up. Allow to cool and chop up a little before storing in an airtight container.

To serve, simple place a scoop of the ice cream in a dish and sprinkle on some crumble crumbs and a sprinkle of the candied apple.

If you chose to make the crumble gluten free, use half GF flour and half ground almonds.
When you store the candied apple, you can add a tablespoon of calvados if you have some.......I dont, sadly!
This is the third flavour in the Cremonezi ice cream series, the first two flavours will be published before too long.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cauliflower & Cheddar Loaf

I think a cauliflower is such a good vegetable, I love it roasted, cooked and served in a rich cheese sauce, in a creamy soup du Barie, curried, pureed and served with seared scallops, there are so many ways that deliver subtle but excellent flavour. As I was driving home from the market this morning I came up with this recipe. A couple of slices served hot with roast potatoes and peas with a mushroom sauce makes a good dish, I enjoyed a couple of slices at room temperature with my roasted beetroot click here for the recipe, delicious!

For this recipe which makes 2 loaves and feeds 6, you will need;
500g of cauliflower
300g of mature cheddar cheese
180g of breadcrumbs
6 eggs
2 teaspoons of Marigold Bouillon Powder or 1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Using a food processor, process the cauliflower until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, place in a large mixing bowl. Process the bread to form fine breadcrumbs, it's important to use good bread, ideally your own sourdough or at least a firm crumb loaf, 2 or 3 days old. Add to the bowl and add the cheese having grated it. Mix thoroughly along with the seasoning and the eggs. Divide between two 500g loaf tins, which should be lined with baking parchment.
Bake at 160C for an hour and 15 minutes, when the loaf should be nicely puffed up and a rich brown on top. Serve sliced either hot or at room temperature.

You can play around with this recipe easily by adding herbs of your choice, perhaps a teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds or varying the cheese.
A slice of this loaf can form part of a sandwich and can be easily brought back to life by frying in a little oil and butter and serving with a fried egg.