wtorek, 27 kwietnia 2010

April's Daring Bakers Challenge - Steamed Puddings

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet

                 I must admit that I was scared. This was my first challenge, plus it was something very traditional process-making wise (not baking, but steaming). Also the fact that recipe recommend using suet was scary enough. 
Suet is specific kind of fat - usually beef or mutton fat, hard one placed around loins and kidneys.It has low melting point so that's why, hard in solid form, it's great alternative for butter. Especially if we are making puddings.
Yes - the puddings. I have some issues with, what you can call, traditional British kitchen. If we left all those greats, post-imperial and post-immigrants kitchens, we face quite heavy and simple dishes. But don't get me wrong - i love simple kitchen, but usually for me it means Tuscany kind not fish-and-chips one. Oh well...
Puddings has very strong position in Great Brittany. They even have Pudding Club
                     I decided to make classic pastry with filling. And as a secret Dulche de Leche lover the choice for feeling was easy. 
See how sticky filling was ? It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g filling...

Dulche de Leche Pudding (for 4 small ramekins)

1 cup of flour (about 250 gram)
100 gram of suet (if you can't find it - replace it with butter)
3 tablespoon of caster sugar
pinch of salt
50 ml of milk (or that amount to get pastry hard enough to place into ramekins)
150 gram of condensed milk tube (sweetened one!)

Mix flour with sugar and salt. Chop with suet and add milk to get pudding dough (easy to roll and quite stiff).
Cool in fridge. 
Now time for secret - easy to make Dulche de Leche. Usually I make one with sweetened 450 gram of canned milk, boiling it in shimmering water for 1,5-2 hours (40-45 minutes for 150 gram tube). But now, since pudding will be steamed on their own for some amount of time, I had to change this process. I just
boiled it for 10 minutes, so its changed color from white to light brown. But still it wasn't Dulche. 
Divide dough into 4 ramekins (left pastry enough to make 4 tops) and place runny milk into those. Make toppings. Be sure it's closed very good - without any holes.
Place into steamer over a pan with shimmering water. Steam for about 30 minutes - check if it's ready, if not steam for another 5-7 minutes. Steaming time depends on how big your ramekins are and how thick you rolled your dough.

The verdict: i still prefer baking pastry not steaming but it was great lesson, plus i liked how easy it was and messy-free.

I like the idea so much that i made additional pudding - this time sponge one with strawberries on a top. I make little twist here by replacing 50-60 grams of flour with Azuki beans puree. Recipe here.

poniedziałek, 26 kwietnia 2010

Plesniak ( Polish Rustic Pie with Jam filling )

                This has to be one of my favorite cakes. In my brain it has easy connection with my Grandma. She made it many times. Especially in hot august, when air was full of smell of sweet apples, worm wind was playing with our mind bringing pictures of sweet Toscany and unexpected storms are strong, quick and refreshing.
Grandma is a very good cook and wonderful baker of many pies, but among others this pie is a winner. 
White tart pastry, next level of sour jam, meringue made from sweet egg white beated until it will be stiff and topping made from "black" pastry. It is truly amazing. In many homes people would add hazelnuts or walnuts as a additional level (after jam , before meringue). I bake it and you know what? - it was very worm day today with this wind - it must mean something. I think I smelled summer...


3 cups of flour 
200 grams of butter
2 tablespoon + 100-120 grams of caster sugar
4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoon of cocoa powder ( if you can use black one, use it )
250-270 grams (one jar) of some sour jam ( i use black currant one)

optional - 2 apples (for baking I usually use some sour ones)

Preheat oven 180C/320f.
Chop cold butter with flour, 2 tablespoon of caster sugar, pinch of salt and 4 egg yolks. Quickly knead dough, it it will be too brittle or too loose - add 1 tablespoon of sour cream. 
Divide it into two parts (you can also divide into tree parts and made two layers of white pastry and one black). Add cocoa powder into one part and knead. Form the balls and cool them in a fridge for about 30 minutes. 
Now time for apples if you use them. Chop them nicely and fry a little on butter (they shouldn't be over-fried, not like form Applepie). You can add some cinnamon. Cool down.
Beat the whites stiff, adding at the end sugar. Beat until you get nice meringue, but not too stiff.
Take a baking mold (classic 24 cm * 32 cm would work) and place bright part of dough on a bottom. Spread a thick layer of jam (if you use nuts, sprinkle them onto jam). Now layer of apples. Now spread egg whites on them. End with black part of dough grated on them. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

czwartek, 22 kwietnia 2010

White kisses - Steamed teatime one-bite cakes

Another day I was thinking about a lovely idea of tea time. It's so old-fashioned and so not-trendy idea. 
When I was younger I loved reading Henry James's or Bronte Sister's  books. Especially those where woman and man relationships were very complicated and everything was unspoken. Characters were just sitting in a room, drinking tea or coffee and not talk about that. It was something that was in the air. In the air of afternoon tea - they were struggling over a bite-size sweet cakes and small sandwiches with cucumber.

White Kisses

100 gram of cottage cheese or hard ricotta
60 gram of rice flour
4-5 tablespoon of coconut milk (if you can find coconut cream use that!)
5-6 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 egg white 
pinch of salt 

optional - filling made from sweet Azuki bean*

Mix your cheese with sugar and salt until it will be smooth. Now spoon by spoon add flour until you get kind of runny cake mixture (amount of flour deepens on what kind of cheese you will use). Beat egg white until it will be stiff and add to a mixture, spoon by spoon. Mix gently. Using teaspoon place cake mixture inside buttered small, paper muffin cups (mine were about 2 inches one). 
Now time for steaming. Use your favorite method - i use chinese, bamboo steamer. Steam for about 7-10 minutes until it will rise a little. You can also made those with filling. Just place one teaspoon of cake on a bottom, drop some amount of filling and end with one teaspoon of cake. 
You can serve them with lavender honey.

* for sweet Azuki bean filling - boil your Azuki until it will be very soft. Made a Azuki puree and mix with preferred amount of sugar ( it must be pretty sweet ) 

niedziela, 18 kwietnia 2010

Lazy Sunday's Basil Biscuits

I love having lazy Sunday. Day when you do have time for your favorite things to do - having late breakfast in bad, walking around your city discover new places to love, having slow time with cup of coffee in local cafe, visiting your friends with homemade cake in your arms.
The only thing I don't like in Sunday is the fact that I don't have access to fresh loaf of bread. You buy your bread on Saturday so, while it's still tasty, it's not the same.
Searching bloggosphere I found this amazing recipe for biscuits. Oh, they sounded so tasteful and perfect for my SB (Sunday breakfast) - serving with homemade butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon...

Recipe can be found here

środa, 14 kwietnia 2010

French Fries? You wish.

Well, not after this post.
People, in general, loves unhealthy finger foods. We love snacking, eating while reading good book, watching great movie, gather on sofa watching fine match. So the idea of food, small enough to eat it with your finger and with one bite, is not new. Even ancient Rome was full of this and they go even farther eating while laying.
It doesn't require any plates, any spoon or fork, just take one hand, add tissue and you're ready.
And when I think about it, it's nothing more popular and pan-cultural than fries. They are EVERYWHERE. You can eat it with mayo, dab of ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, pinch of seasoning, go classic with salt, make a twist with pepper, chilli or whatever you like. I've seen even people eating their dipped in chocolate or some sweet spread. You really can't go wrong with fries. But what if idea of McDonald ones push you away?And even idea of those home, twice fried. Too greasy? Too heavy?

Baked parsley root French Fries

2-3 large parsley root (yes, you can also use parsnip or sweet potatoes, carrots)
2-3 tablespoon of olive oil
pepper, salt or any seasoning you love

Preheat your oven 320F/160C
Take a baking shit and spray with olive oil. Prepare your veggies - boil in chicken or vegetable stock until it gets little soft (on level you could cut it quite easily, but it could be boiled completely). Cut it into thin fries (julliene if you use specific kitchen names), place in bowl and dab with rest of olive oil, salt. Season it with pepper and any herbs you like. I use manly pepper, salt and some dried basil flakes. Bake until it turns golden brown, take from baking shit. You can easily serve it cooled down ( to be honest I prefer them cool - they're like chips) with some great spread - cheese or pepper. Play with it. 

poniedziałek, 12 kwietnia 2010

I'm going bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S! Chocolate-black currant trifle with bananas sponge biscuit

                 I was feeling like going bananas yesterday. And it's not coz I did this amazing dessert using bananas sponge biscuits. No, it's because yesterday were my birthday and, like it or not, it did came along with presents.
Some birthday present are unexpected. Some are good, some...well, not so much. One day you can receive something very uncommon, from someone that you almost forget about. It's weird. You hold a present and think : "what should I do about it?". Decisions, decisions, decisions - it seems like human life is based on that, and what worst, is the fact that usually those are not reversible. If you choose one way - you can't make it back. And this is real reason why I could feel little bananas.
It's not any near to classic trifle but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to...or I should say - mess with recipe if I want to? Anyway ...

Chocolate-black currant trifle

16 small banana sponge biscuits ( mine were about 3 cm srednica )
1 cup of strong espresso ( if it's too strong for you - use chocolate drink or heated chocolate-milk )
50 gram of dark chocolate (plus some sugar if you want, i do not used any sugar - i like dark taste)
1 egg yolk
120 ml of heavy cream
4 tablespoon of black-currant jam

Prepare 2 tins or small 150 ml cups.
Make your espresso (or chocolate drink or heat your chocolate milk). And cool down a little - it must be still little worm but not hot!
On pan fry a little your jam to get it more runny. Turn the heat off.
Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a high saucepan of boiling water (on small heat). Take off from the heat. In a big cup using electric blender whip egg yolk and heavy cream until it get little mousse-y. Pour slowly melted chocolate and using blender mix until you get nice light mousse.
Now take your biscuits and deep them in espresso (or chocolate). Be careful not to hold them too long, coz you will ended up wil bananas-biscuit-espresso mess. Chop them into big pieces.
Place one layer of biscuits, and one layer of chocolate mousse; now second layer of biscuits and second layer of mousse; last layer of biscuits and end with layer of current jam. Cool in fridge. You can serve it with nice spoon of banana ice-cream or cup of strong espresso.

piątek, 9 kwietnia 2010

Leftover Pudding with dates filling

After each holiday season, people around the world are facing one big issue. What the hell to do with all those leftover food? Usually we ended up making sandwiches with cold, leftover ham and turkey, making a pan fried potatoes for evening snack with dinner potatoes, baking mac' and cheese with leftover veggies.
But when you ending up with leftover cakes your are in troubles. Of course you could take it to work and share with your co-workers or grab and visit your distant relative ("No, nothing wrong happened - i just missed you SO MUCH ! And I brought you a present - It's a cake !") but why not spending few minutes and turn your not-so-fresh from the oven-babka into gorgeous, seductive pudding? Since i had almost full bag of dried dates i decided to make the one with a filling. Sweet!

Pudding with dates filling :
some leftover babka ( you can use some sweet bread, like croissant, also) - mine was about 300 gram
cup of full-fat milk
80 grams dried dates
1 pear
2 teaspoon of butter ( for your apricot )
2 teaspoon of sugar
2-3 tablespoon of cream
butter and sugar for your tins 

Preheat oven 200C/390F
Prepare pear. Cut it in small pieces (you can take off skin if you want but i left mine). Take a pan with thick bottom and put 2 teaspoon of butter. Heat until it melt and put your chopped pear. Fry for 10-15 minutes (after first few minutes add 2 teaspoon of sugar) until it will be somewhere between soft mousse with chunky pieces and filling for tart. Cool dawn. Take a boiling water and soak your dates (you can add some rose or pear syrup if you have). Strain and mix with cooled pear. That's your filling.
Cut your babka into slices and pour with milk - you want it to be soaked but not wet completely so be careful ( it's the same method like with tiramisu and its biscuits soaked with espresso).
Take your tins - butter and sugar them. Now you take a slice and put on a bottom and take 2-3 slices to put around. Put your filling  inside and cover with last slice to make closed space. Pour your pudding tin with cream and butter. Make as many as many babka you have. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and will rinse a little.
You can also make a sauce with leftover pear mousse and heavy cream.

poniedziałek, 5 kwietnia 2010

Classic Antipasti my way - Stuffed Mushrooms with feta cheese

               Holiday season (Ester one) came and went. But I still have some thoughts about that I want to share. In most houses I know holiday dinner is a meat dinner. Ham, turkey, chicken - depends on what time of a year we have. But for someone who wants to cut off meat completely, or for meat-lover who just want to try something new, it's hard moment to find exciting dish to replace meat. Personally i always think abut cheese if i need to do that. We have so many wonderful kinds of cheeses that I almost forgot about meat. Cow's, goat's, sheep's. Hard, soft, cream, cottage. Smoked, fresh - whatever you like you could find in even a smallest grocery store. Yeah - writing it down make me really think that we are a world of cheeses. 
Anyway today I came up with this classic kind of antipasti - stuffed mushrooms - which could be either your main course or just a side dish. Or even a sneak, but in this case please,please remember about a tissue and do not wear your holiday best clothes. Grilled cheese situation.

Stuffed mushrooms with feta cheese:

4 big portobellos or 8 smaller white mushrooms
100 gram of feta cheese
variations : 1 cooked farm egg's yolk; 2 tablespoon of smoked peppers (or tomatoes if you like)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard ( you can always use your favorite kind - French or Russian )
1 teaspoon of cream cheese or thick cream
bunch of freshly chopped chives
pinch of black pepper and salt
olive oil for baking 

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
Prepare your mushrooms - take a dirt with paper towel ( since i usually do not wash mine ) and take a button and a skin off.
Mix feta cheese, mustard, cream cheese. Add chives and season it with a salt and black pepper. Now you can make few kinds of fillings: in small separate bowl mix few spoons of stuffing with egg yolk, in another with chopped pepper, in another with you tomatoes. Really there are unlimited options for it. You're almost done - just put your filling in a mushroom.
Take some baking pan and put some olive oil on a bottom. Place your stuffed babies and bake for about 15-20 minutes. You can serve it with some baby potatoes and some fresh lettuce salad. 
Even if anybody say that it's sooo 70s. - enjoy it. Just put your disco music on.

czwartek, 1 kwietnia 2010

Silver pearls with hint of summer

                  Tapioca pearls are so funny. Light, clear, playing with sunlight when you look at them under a sun. 
It has amazing texture of something between jelly and pudding. It is great for all kind of sweet dish, coz it takes taste of things you use and broad to another level. Sweet, spicy, savor - add what you want. I tried Mango version before - it was pure summer in a jar. But now i tried something even simpler.

Tapioca pudding with pink jelly foam:

50 grams of tapioca pudding
100ml of coconut milk
100ml of cow milk 
1 and 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla sugar ( great if you, as I, has real vanilla sugar )
ready-to-make jelly powder in any flavor you like ( mine was raspberry )

Take a pan with thicker bottom. Put your tapioca pearls inside and pour milk on them. Cook on small hit for about 20 minutes. Well you must see that your tapioca becoming clearer and clearer, and your milk-pearls mixture becoming thicker.Remember to stir it from time to time. Take it form the hit and put in some nice jars, bawls or whatever. Cool down and put in fridge.
Now make your jelly exactly base by instruction from its package. Cool until it almost done ( but not until it 100% hard ) and mix it with blender until it become foam-y. Put your foam-jelly on your tapioca pudding. Serve and enjoy summer :D