Saturday, 30 June 2012

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I have read through many Rhubarb Upside Down Cake recipes - all with tons of sugar-so I decided to make my own version, specially I had lots of rhubarb. Due to the new layering technique I used double the rhubarb amount and I was able to use up all my stock (hurrah- I hate to bin any food). The end result is rather fresh and tangy (not perfect looking), but married up with a dollop of ice cream it was perfect.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake


For the topping
1kg rhubarb 
190g sugar
60g flour
zest of 2oranges
2 tbsp butter

For the batter
125g plain flour 
140g sugar
60g butter
120ml milk
1vanilla pod
1 tbsp baking powder
1egg

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Clean the rhubarb and cut them to 3cm pieces. I placed them straight into the tin to see how much more I need. After the trimmings it weighted 920g based on a 23cm spring form tin.

Place the rhubarb pieces with the sugar orange zest and the flour into a bowl and fold them together, try to coat every rhubarb with the mix. If you would prefer a sweeter rhubarb topping, put 50g extra sugar into the mix.
Arrange again the rhubarb pieces into the tin, (probably you will need a little less rhubarb because of the baking paper+flour coating) and sprinkle on top the floury mixture that didn't stick on side of the rhubarb pieces. 
Learning from my mistake, leave some space at the side of the tin, so when you put on the butter it would leak to the bottom and this thin pastry part would hold together the cake better when finished.
Place the butter on top of the rhubarb, and put it to the oven and bake it for 5-10minutes until you prepare the batter. 

For the batter mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, vanilla seeds and the milk with an electric mixer. When everything is well incorporated add the egg and mix it again.
Pour on top of the rhubarb and bake it for 40-60 minutes or until the inserted wooden skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool for 5minutes, then Turn upside down onto a serving plate. Best served when it is still warm with some ice cream.

Hints and tips
If you don't want to fiddle around with the standing rhubarb pieces, just halve the metrics for the topping (still use the same butter quantity) and simply put the rhubarb into the tin...no need arranging them.



Fanta Slice/Orange and Curd Cheese Cake

So another Hungarian cake. Although you won't find it in any cake shop, this is truly home baking. It isn't sweet, as the main purpose of the cake to cool you down at summer, when temperatures reaches over 30C...but that doesn't mean, you have to live in a warm country to have this. I made this cake for my workplace for my Birthday so I couldn't slice it up to have a nice picture. I also changed my own recipe as the original filling is with butter, but I try to eat as less calories as possible currently.

Fanta Slice

(Orange and Curd Cheese Cake)

For the sponge
3 eggs
pinch of salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
50ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of baking powder

For the filling
250g curd cheese
200ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
3 tbsp icing sugar

For the top
3 oranges(optional, originally we don't have it on the top)
7dl Fanta orange
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 Puding powder-custard flavoured-in polish shop ask for Budyn smietankowym *more on this at Tricks and Recommendations

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 19X25cm cake tin.
Separate the eggs then with a pinch of salt beat the egg whites until it form stiff peaks. While continuously mixing with an electrical mixer add the egg yolks, then the sugar and the oil(mixing between each addition). 
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder in two lots, carefully folding in the mixture.

 If you rush this step you can ruin your whole cake. Two typical mistakes: not folding thoroughly and you will have small lumps of flour in the ready sponge, or you mix it too vigorously and you break up the air bubbles in the mixture(that you created with the mixer) and it won't rise at all in the oven.
Bake for 15-20minutes, or until the inserted wooden skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool then take it out from the pan.

For the filling
Whip the double cream until stiff peaks then add the curd cheese, vanilla seeds and the icing sugar and mix it again. If you prefer the more sweet cake than the sourish refreshing one, add 3 more tablespoon of icing sugar into the mix.


For the top, peel the oranges, cut them half then slice them to 0.5cm pieces. 
Heat 5dl Fanta in a heavy based pan, with 2 tbsp sugar until boiling, meanwhile in a small bowl mix the Puding powder with the remaining of the Fanta to avoid lumps in the liquid later on. Pour the mixture into the fanta while stirring constantly. Within 1-2minutes it should reach a thick creamy, puding texture. Take off the heat and stirring occasionally to cool it down to room temperature just before to set.

To assemble
Line your tin with baking paper. The paper should be higher than the side of the cake by at least 3cm. When the cake will be ready you need that 3cm handle to lift the cake out from the pan.
Place your sponge in the tin then spoon over the curd cheese filling and slightly press it down with a spoon. We want to achieve a stiff, levelled filling with no gaps on the sides. If you leave some gaps on the sides the jelly will go all the way to the bottom.

Even if your sponge shrink a little and it isn't covering the bottom side to side, fill up the gap with the filling. Arrange the orange slices on top and pour your Fanta mixture on top.
Rest the cake in the fridge for at least 3hours preferably over night.
When it is ready, just lift the cake out of the tin, slice and serve.




Hungarian Summer Fruit and Curd Cheese Cake/Ribizlis Túró torta

My favourite cake EVER! No doubt about that and I can eat about 3 slices of these at a go. But actually I am allowed to eat as much as I can, as there is hardly any sugar in it. This cake is perfect at summer time, as it is rather sour and refreshing-typical Hungarian delicacy. 

Hungarian Summer Fruit and Curd Cheese Cake or

Ribizlis Túrótorta



For the sponge
3 eggs
pinch of salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
50ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of baking powder

For the filling
250g curd cheese
200ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
3 tbsp icing sugar

For the top
350-400g forest fruit or other red berry mix (can be fresh, or frozen, but defrost before using it)
1 Greens Quick Red Jel or any other red cake cover jelly



Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 23cm spring form cake tin.
Separate the eggs then with a pinch of salt beat the egg whites until it form stiff peaks. While continuously mixing with an electrical mixer add the egg yolks, then the sugar and the oil(mixing between each addition). 
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder in two lots, carefully folding in the mixture.

 If you rush this step you can ruin your whole cake. Two typical mistakes: not folding thoroughly and you will have small lumps of flour in the ready sponge, or you mix it too vigorously and you break up the air bubbles in the mixture(that you created with the mixer) and it won't rise at all in the oven.
Bake for 15-20minutes, or until the inserted wooden skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool then take it out from the pan.

For the filling
Whip the double cream until stiff peaks then add the curd cheese, vanilla seeds and the icing sugar and mix it again. If you prefer the more sweet cake than the sourish refreshing one, add 3 more tablespoon of icing sugar into the mix.

Prepare your cake cover jelly according to the instructions on the packaging- it is all different for each brand so I won't detail here. Only thing is when it is ready leave it to cool, stirring time to time. The consistency we looking for when it starts to set slightly and almost room temperature.

To assemble
Put back your cooled sponge into the cake tin without any lining. If you use baking paper, you will see the creases later on in the cake filling...not nice.
Spoon over the curd cheese filling and slightly press it down with a spoon. We want to achieve a stiff, levelled filling with no gaps on the sides. If you leave some gaps on the sides the jelly will go all the way to the bottom.
Even if your sponge shrink a little and it isn't covering the bottom side to side, fill up the gap with the filling. Arrange the fruits on top and pour your cake cover on top.
Rest the cake in the fridge at least for 3hours preferably over night.

For serving slightly open the spring form, just to release slightly but not fully.
With a knife carefully run around the edges, releasing the curd cheese filling from the tin. Otherwise what could happen that you just open the tin and the curd cheese and the jelly still stuck to the tin, the cake top would crack. 
After that you can fully open your spring from side, release the cake and transfer it to a serving plate.


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Strawberry Jam With a Twist

This is totally my creation, but I warn you: don't let your husband to finish it as he MAY not read carefully the description of the pectin and he MAY don't put enough in it.(I had to leave and get some more empty jars from a friend nearby, as I run out of them earlier than expected) Otherwise it tastes delicious....but my version slightly runny as my dearest and nearest put  1/10 of the pectin that was required. Anyway.....this is my:

Strawberry Jam with a twist

Ingredients
1.2 kg strawberry
0.8kg jam sugar (or use granulated sugar+pectin-amount of pectin depends on brand, always use the suggested amount)
1 tbsp cinnamon
5-6 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
2 vanilla pods, halved length ways 
1 lemon juice

Put a small plate into the freezer.
Hull and clean the strawberries. Smash half of the strawberries with a potato masher, but leave other half leave in quarters (to have some "whole" pieces in the jam).

Put the strawberries with the sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and the vanilla into a heavy based sauce pan and bring to the boil. Boil the jam for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, checking the setting point every 2 minutes during the last 5 minutes. 10 minutes into the boiling you can add the amaretto liqueur, the alcohol will evaporate, but the taste will stay in the jam. 

To  test the setting point, take the cold saucer out of the freezer, put a little jam on it. Leave it for a minute then push your finger into the jam, if it wrinkles, then it's done. You may put some extra pectin in the jam if it doesn't want to set, but strawberry jam unlikely to set very solid anyway. 

Take off the heat and skim off the scum if needed. Pour into sterilised jars, seal and store.


To sterilise your jars:
Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, then leave in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm. Alternatively, run the jars and lids thorough a hot dishwasher cycle, then let them dry.

Or like my mum did it: put your washed jars and lids into a massive saucepan filled with water and start boiling it, after 15minutes, just before filling take them out one by one. The jar should dry out within seconds as the remaining of the water evaporate immediately.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

This recipe is from the BBC good food channel. I quite like the idea to add something to the traditional jams so it will be something special. The recipe is great, but I slightly reduced the amount of sugar to use, as the vanilla makes the jam sweet anyway.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam


Ingredients
1.2kg rhubarb, weighted after trimming, cut into 3cm chunks
0.9kg jam sugar or granulated sugar and some pectin-according to the recommended amount on the product
2 vanilla pods, halved length ways
1 lemon juice

Put a small plate in the freezer. Put the rhubarb into your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently into, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.

Boil for about 10minutes, skimming off the scum as you go ( the fruit should be soft). 
Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 minutes, push your finger through the jam-if the surface wrinkles it is ready. If not, keep cooking  for 2-minutes intervals, testing in between. 

Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 minutes before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6months in a cool, dark place.

To sterilise your jars:
Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, then leave in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm. Alternatively, run the jars and lids thorough a hot dishwasher cycle, then let them dry.

Or like my mum did it: put your washed jars and lids into a massive saucepan filled with water and start boiling it, after 15minutes, just before filling take them out one by one. The jar should dry out within seconds as the remaining of the water evaporate immediately.


Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam

This recipe is an adapted version from my new favourite book: Preserves and Pickles. The original recipe required 2 handful of elderflower removed from their stalks, but as I live in Southampton it is quite hard to get your hands on. 
BUT my dear friend, the creator of Kabi's Kitchen, just made some elderflower cordial (his recipe here) so I thought I would give it a go. It did the magic: first you will taste the tangy gooseberry, but than the sweetness of the elderflower hits your tongue! Quite special if you ask me!

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam


Ingredients
1kg firm gooseberries, topped and tailed
250ml water
0.9kg sugar
1 lemon juice
4-5 tbsp home-made elderflower cordial

Put the gooseberries into a large saucepan, add the water and bring the mixture to the boil.
Cover the pan with a lid and simmer gently for 20minutes until the fruit is soft. Using a potato masher, gently mash the fruit to crush it lightly. 
Add the sugar, lemon juice and elderflower cordial to the pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for 10minutes, or to setting point.
Remove from the heat, skim off any scum and cool for 5minutes then stir. Pot and seal into sterilised, then leave before labelling.


To sterilise your jars:
Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, then leave in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm. Alternatively, run the jars and lids thorough a hot dishwasher cycle, then let them dry.

Or like my mum did it: put your washed jars and lids into a massive saucepan filled with water and start boiling it, after 15minutes, just before filling take them out one by one. The jar should dry out within seconds as the remaining of the water evaporate immediately.



Friday, 22 June 2012

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

These gorgeous soft hazelnut biscuits are easy to make and tastes yummy. On the same note I have to mention, this is not a cookie on a person who is on a diet. This is from my fist ever baking book in England, from Donna Hay: Chocolate.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

makes about 28
For the cookies
250g butter, softened
175g brown sugar
165g sugar
3 eggs
450g plain flour, sifted
60g cocoa powder, sifted
1tsp baking powder

For the filling
150g dark chocolate
190g sour cream
1cup hazelnut, roasted, chopped

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the butter, brown sugar and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs gradually and beat well. Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix until combined. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls, place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes of until bases are lightly coloured. Cool on racks.

To make the chocolate filling, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat, add the sour cream and stir to combine. Top half of the biscuits with chocolate hazelnut filling and sprinkle with the nuts, top with the remaining biscuits.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Confit of Slow-Cooked Onions

Again trying out a new area: pickles. I had these lovely slow cooked onions with toasted bread (sadly the small corner shop run out of ciabatta bread:(( and because of the Sunday licensing law all the supermarkets are closed), some tomatoes and Brie Cheese, but it think it would be perfect with some Sunday roast as well. 


Confit of Slow-Cooked Onions



Ingredients
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp butter
500g onions sliced
3-5 fresh thyme springs
1fresh bay leaf
2tbsp light muscovado(brown) sugar
50g ready to eat prunes, chopped
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
120ml red wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and black pepper


Reserve 1tsp of the oil, then heat the remaining oil with the butter in a large pan. Add the onions, cover and cook gently over a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.



Season with salt and ground black pepper, then add the thyme, bay leaf and sugar. Cook slowly, uncovered, for a further 15-20 minutes until the onions are very soft and dark. Stir the onions occasionally during cooking to prevent them sticking or burning.


Add the prunes, vinegar, wine and garlic to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently for 20 minutes, on until most of the liquid has evaporated. 


Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning in necessary, adding more sugar and/or vinegar to taste. Leave the confit to cool then stir in the remaining 1tsp olive oil.



Nectarines in Amaretto Liqueur

So my fist ever Preserved Fruit-except I haven't preserved two of the Nectarines......purely for health and safety reason:) Imagine you would keep some nectarines for weeks and when your guest turn up, you would serve a bad fruit...So I HAD to test them...:)

Nectarines in Amaretto Syrup

Ingredients
350g sugar
150ml water
450g firm, ripe nectarines(halved, and stoned)
1vanilla pod
1tsp cinnamon
150ml Amaretto liqueur

Put the sugar in a large, heavy pan with the water and heat gently, stirring until dissolved completely. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10minutes.



Add the nectarines to the syrup. Reduce the heat so that the syrup is barley simmering and poach the nectarines until almost tender with the vanilla seeds and pod, and the cinnamon.Turn off the heat and leave them to stand for 5 minutes: they will cook a little more as it cools.



Using a slotted spoon, lift the fruit out of the pan and pack into hot, sterilized jar.
Bring the syrup to a rapid boil and cook for 3-4minutes. Leave to cool for a 10minutes, then stir in the Amaretto liqueur. (Don't add the liqueur to the boiling syrup because the alcohol will evaporate and the syrup will lose its preserving qualities.) Pour the syrup into the jar, covering the fruit completely. 

I had it with some Amaretto poured on top(as I tested them straight after completing -it didn't have time to absorb this gorgeous liquid), some whipped cream and some vanilla ice cream.
You can have this dessert cold or hot(just put the jar into the microwave for 3 minutes) and with the ice cream: it is divine. You can also play with the sweetness contrast not just the temperature: so you have the warm sweet nectarines and some cold sorbet that not as sweet as standard ice creams.
And this is the best tip: It is an instant dessert for guest. You can prepare this a week ahead, and when the dinner guest arrive, you just have to pate it with some ice cream/sorbet and whipped cream! Perfect if you have a busy week but you need a treat!

Marzipan Cake with Apricots

My friend asked me if I can make a Birthday cake for his boyfriend's party. Obviously I said yes, but as there supposed to be quite many people I ought to make two cakes: One marzipan cake-as that is his favourite, and one Summer Fruits and Curd Cheese cake-Ribizlis Túrótorta in Hungarian-which is her favourite. And then on the same week I forgot I already have one Birthday party to go with a cake,so I ended up making 3 cakes in a 3days time span-and be at the party as well, and work, as it was all on weekdays.
So I did two marzipan cake so I can practise for it, as I never did it before and that was the first time when I used my chocolate transfer sheets in my life. I adapted the recipe from Nigella Lawson's as it is quick to prepare and if you like marzipan you going to love it. And the idea of the cake with apricot in it come from another blogger.

Marzipan Cake

For the cake
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g softened marzipan
150g caster sugar
1/4 tsp almond essence
1vanilla pod
6large eggs
150g self raising flour
8 apricots, washed, halved

For the decoration/optional
either some icing sugar on top 
or like me
250g marzipan
some icing sugar to roll the marzipan out
3-4tbsp apricot glazing-or sieved apricot jam
50g dark chocolate
chocolate transfer sheet for the bow or simple acetate sheet

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 23cm spring form tin. Chop the butter and marzipan to make them easier to break down, and put them in the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the double bladed knife, with the sugar: Process until combined and pretty well smooth. Add the almond essence and vanilla seeds, process again then break the eggs one at a time through the funnel, processing again each time. Tip the flour down the funnel, processing yet again, and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Push half way down into the mixture the apricots, evenly distributing them across the cake.

Bake for 50minutes , but check from 40. Then, when the cakes looks golden and cooked and a cake tester comes out cleanish(as the marzipan in the heat of the oven is still liquidish, it will never come out completely clean, but as the cake cools down the marzipan will harden), remove form the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out.

When the cake is ready roll the marzipan to the size of the cake on some icing sugar. In a small pan heat the apricot glazing until it becomes liquid, take off from the heat and with a brush cover the cake top and sides thinly (this will act as a glue to fix the marzipan layer on). Place on top the marzipan layer and smooth the surface with a cake smoother to have a nice finish.

For the chocolate bow.
Cut 9  3X15cm  and 2  3X13cm chocolate transfer sheets, placing them textured side up on a surface. Melt the chocolate over some simmering water in a bowl, then place some chocolate to all strips and smooth it to cover the whole surfaced with and offset spatula. 
Transfer the 2 long strips to a tray that will fit into your fridge. For the 9 other strips that will make up the bow: when the chocolate starts to cool down an set. pick one up,  bend it, with the chocolate on the inside, to form a tear drop shape and set it on the sides. If it is necessary (depends on the acetate sheets you use) secure the ends together with a small paper clip(but be careful, if the paper clip is still new it can squeeze out the chocolate-therefore it is recommended to loosen it a bit). Repeat with the remaining chocolate-coated strips of acetate than refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set.
When they set, carefully peel off the sheets form the chocolate. Place the two straight piece across the cake(you can overlap the chocolate in the middle, as it will be covered with the bow anyway) and arrange the tear drops on top 2 for the four sides and one in the middle-that I haven't done:)


Hints and tips:
If you don't have enough time to cool down the cake(you rushing home from work, made two cakes and you should have already left for the party...) and you place the chocolate bow on the slightly warm cake..........well it will melt your chocolate work, so don't do it-see picture above. By the time we arrived the chocolate was all melted and there was a flat chocolate cross on a cake:( Rather transfer the chocolate work in a separate tray and place it on before you hand over the cake...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Marcarpone and Strawberry Mini Chocolate Cakes

I bought the Lakeland's 12 hole mini sandwich tin and I had to try it straight away. This cake recipe is originally from their website, slightly changed.

Mascarpone and Strawberry Mini Chocolate Cakes


For the cakes
175g unsalted butter, softened
125g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 vanilla pod
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa
75ml buttermilk
75ml boiling water

For the filling
300g strawberries 
150ml double cream
200g mascarpone
1vanilla pod
3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
2-3tbsp icing sugar


Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Cream the butter with both of the sugars until pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla seeds.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa into the mixture and mix until almost combined. Add the buttermilk and boiling water and continue to mix until smooth.

Divide the mixture between the Mini Sandwich Pan so that each well is two thirds full. Bake on the middle shelf of your preheated oven for about 20 minutes until well risen and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to rest in the tin for 2 minutes and then ease out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the cream whip the double cream to stiff peaks, add the icing sugar, mascarpone, vanilla seeds and Amaretto liqueur and mix it together. Wash and slice the strawberries.

Cut the cooled cakes in half and spread the bottom layer of each cake with the mascarpone cream, add some strawberries and some cream again.
Sandwich with the top layer then add some more cream on top and a slice of strawberry for decoration.

Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

I normally don't make heavy, sticky bars or cakes, but I was determined to use my new chocolate transfer sheets, just been delivered at the day. So I found this recipe in my cookie book, and I have to admit when I made it, it was rather hard and heavy. So I put them into the cookie tin and left there for a week. But then one night we were craving for some sweets and I remembered I have them in the tin. And surprise -surprise they softened and the butterscotch layer was creamy (although still heavy bake for my usual taste) and the base were soft........what can I say, they were gone by the next day:)

Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

For the base
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, diced
50g light muscovado sugar
150g plain chocolate, melted
2 tbsp ground almonds


For the topping
175g unsalted butter
115g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
175ml unsweetened condensed milk
150g toasted hazelnuts
225g plain chocolate


For the decoration 
chocolate transfer sheets-optional


Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a shallow 30X20cm cake tin with baking paper.
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar. Gradually work in the melted chocolate and ground almonds until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the prepared cake tin, prick the surface all over with a fork.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm. Place the tin on a wire rack and leave to cool.

To make the topping, gently heat the butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk in a pan until melted. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until golden(I haven't really achieved the golden effect as I was in the rush....), then stir in the hazelnuts. Pour over the base and leave to set.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Spread over the butterscotch layer. 

If you using chocolate transfer sheet-cut a piece of chocolate transfer sheet to the size of the baked butterscotch bar. I used two different type of sheets. Place the sheets on top of the chocolate layer(textured side down, so the shapes can "transferred" to the chocolate surface) and gently press them to the chocolate surface with your fingers to make sure the entire surface is in contact with the sheet.

Leave to set, then peel off the transfer sheets(now the texture should appear on the chocolate and disappeared form the sheet) then cut into bars.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Filo Vegetable Pie

This is my ultimate, favourite (originally vegetarian) meal. This is the only recipe I know  that everybody(I mean it) likes and even without meat it tastes delicious even for a big meat-eater.

Filo Vegetable Pie



Ingredients
270g filo pasty (shop bought)
150g butter
230g leaks, sliced to 1cm pieces
230g carrots, cubed/sliced
230g mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
150g cream cheese
120g Roquefort or Stilton or other blue cheese
150ml double cream
2eggs, beaten
250g cooking apples, peeled,cored and cubed
200g cashew nuts or pine nuts toasted
salt and pepper for seasoning
400g chicken breast (if you vegetarian just leave the chicken out and add a few slices of vegetables each to make up the space loss)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat 50g of the butter in a large pan and cook the carrots over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the leeks, mushroom and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then take off from the heat.

Cut the chicken breast into 2cm pieces and fry them on some butter in a hot pan for 2-3minutes. It doesn't have to be fully cooked, as it will be baked for 40minutes in the pie.

Whisk the cream cheese and blue cheese, cream and eggs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables. Add the apple, toasted nut and the chicken.

Melt the remaining butter. Brush the inside of a 23cm loose based spring form cake tin with melted butter. Brush two-thirds of the filo pastry sheets with butter, one at a time, and use them to line the base and sides of the tin, overlapping the layers so that there are no gaps. Basically you have to prepare a nest from the filo pastry sheets, thick enough to hold in all the lovely juices inside. 

Spoon in the vegetable-chicken mixture and fold the excess filo pastry over towards the centre of the pie to cover the filling. (See the picture-sorry I meant to take a picture from the empty "nest" itself, but it is quite hard to do everything at the same time and the guest were already at our place at this stage)

Brush the remaining filo sheets with butter and tear them into 2.5cm strips. Cover the surface of the pie with the strips, arranging them decoratively in a rough mound. 
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy all over. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to cool, then carefully remove the cake tin and transfer the pie to a serving plate.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Fruit Tartlets on Macaroon Base

They are lovely and  yummy tartlets. At the first glance you would think they are ordinary, but because the macaroon base they rather special. The base recipe is by Donna Hay.

Cardamom infused chocolate filled fruit tartlets on macaroon base

For the base
3 egg whites
160g sugar
225g desiccated coconut

For the cream
300ml double cream
1tsp gelatine
180g good quality dark chocolate(at least 55-60% cocoa content)
3 cardamom pods
1vanilla pod 

For the top
Selection of fruits
I used raspberries, banana, kiwi, and mango

Preheat the oven to 140  °C . Combine the egg whites, sugar and coconut to make the macaroon mixture and divide between 8X 8cm well-greased tart tins with removable bases. Press firmly over the base and sides. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the macaroon shells are firm.
Remove from the oven and leave to chill.

In the meantime prepare your cream.
Put the cream in a heavy based pan on medium heat until it boils. Dissolve the gelatine in it. When the gelatine dissolved, take off from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until its melted. 
Add the crushed cardamom seeds and the vanilla seeds.

Leave it to cool and taste it. You can adjust the cardamom amount as some type isn't that strong. When the cream is just about to set, spoon it into the macaroon shells and leave to harden a bit.
When the top layer is slightly hardened you can arrange some fruits of your choice on top.

Place them into the fridge for at least an hour. 15-20minutes before serving take them out of the fridge and rest on the work surface. Remove them from the base and serve.