Quiche Lorraine

8 Jul


Finally, finally, I have conquered the shortcrust pastry!  This is one of my most exciting posts as it took me more than one attempt to get this right.  It’s always so easy to buy pre-prepared pastry at the supermarket, but I really wanted to create it from scratch.

I’ve never had homemade Quiche Lorraine, it’s always been bought from a patisserie and I’m sad to say, I’ve even bought one from a supermarket as well.  I will never, ever do that again.  The supermarket version, like many things, is so bland in comparison.   The homemade version was so silky and the filling was almost like custard, it was so tasty.

I was so chuffed with how this turned out that I did go on about it a bit only to be crushed by my fiancé letting me know that he isn’t the biggest quiche fan, but then after trying he did have seconds….

SHORTCRUST PASTRY / PÂTE BRISÉE
250 gr plain flour
125 gr cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cold milk
 
FILLING
150 gr cubed bacon
3 eggs
300 ml double cream
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt & pepper
50 gr grated Gruyère cheese (optional, this is not traditional)
 

To make the pastry, pulse the flour and butter in a processor until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Pour onto a very large board (marble if possible).  Sprinkle over the salt.  Make a well and add the eggs and milk in the middle.  Very gently mix together to form a dough.  Knead 5 times only.

Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes (can be overnight).

Take the dough out of the fridge and leave it to warm to room temperature (approx 30 min).  Otherwise when rolling the dough will crack.

Turn the oven to 190 C / 375 F.

Roll out to the dough and roll up on the rolling pin and roll out on the quiche tin (23cm tin, or you can make individual quiche).  Prick the bottom with a fork.  Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes so it doesn’t shrink while cooking.

Blind bake the pastry in the oven for 15 minutes, take the beads out and bake at 170 C / 335 F for a further 5 min or until the base is dry.

Fry the bacon for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl mix the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

In the cooked pastry case, spread the bacon over the base.  Sprinkle over the grated cheese if using.  Then fill to the brim the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Can be served warm or cold.  Enjoy!

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Easy Salmon bake

1 Jul

I’m sticking with the savoury dishes for a while and this one is very easy – if you stick with shop bought puff pastry that is.  Making pastry from scratch is high on my list of things to do, but I’m just procrastinating.  I think because my first attempt failed – which shouldn’t be a surprise, and I just need to shake that one-off and try, try again.

This salmon dish would be great for a small dinner party (the recipe below serves 4), as you can prepare the whole dish well beforehand and then just bake when needed.

85 gr watercress, chopped very finely
115 gr cream cheese
600 gr skinless salmon (very easy to slice the skin off), cut into two even pieces
250 gr puff pastry
salt and pepper
plain flour to dust work surface
milk for glazing 

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F.

In a small bowl, mix the watercress, cream cheese, salt and pepper.

Roll the pastry out to approx 3mm / 1/8 inch thick.  It should be very roughly 8cm / 3 inches longer than one of the salmon pieces and more than twice as wide.  Trim any excess and keep aside for decoration (optional).

Place one piece of salmon in the middle of the pastry.  Cover with the watercress mix.  Top the other salmon piece on top.  Brush the pastry with water and fold the end pieces up and then the side pieces over the entire contents, making sure they overlap.  Press together to make sure it is well sealed.

Brush the pastry with milk.  Top with decoration from the excess pastry if you want and then brush this again with milk.

Make 2 holes with a skewer to allow the steam out.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Test by pushing a skewer all the way in, hold for 5 seconds and then test if the skewer feels hot.

Remove from the oven, leave for a few minutes and slice to serve with salad.  Enjoy!

Homemade sausage rolls

9 Jun

It’s been a while since my last post.  I’ve been travelling for work. weekends away and celebrating.  So this is the first week that I have had time to do any baking for a few weeks!  As we had the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee here in the UK, with many street parties, I thought that I would join into the spirit of things and bake some sausage rolls.  Everyone loves sausage rolls, even the Duchess of Cornwall recently commented that she was a big fan.

My mother used to make them for our parties as children and there were never any leftover.  I found a recipe to use, but I changed it slightly to be similar to what we used to get as children.

My partner ate about 5 when he got home for work.  After he had finished, he asked where I bought them, as he thought they were amazing.  He nearly fell over when I told him that I actually baked them.  I had to show him the used oven tray to prove it.  So they were quite a hit.

250 gr puff pastry (I just used shop bought)
450 gr pork sausage meat (I squeezed the sausage meat from 6 sausage skins)
225 gr beef mince
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper
milk for glazing
 

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F.

Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper and grease with some butter / oil and then chill.

Cut the pastry in half, lengthways.  Roll each to approx a 30 x 15cm / 12 x 6in.  Cover with clingfilm and chill.

In a large bowl mix all of the other ingredients (exclude the milk).  Divide the sausage mix into two.

Lay the chilled pastry out on the clingfilm or floured surface.  Roll the sausage mix into long tubes and lay in the centre of each piece of pastry.

Brush the pastry with the milk.  Fold the pastry over the sausage mix.

Cut the long sausage rolls into 12 pieces.  I found dipping the sharp knife in water in between each cut, made it a lot easier.

Put each sausage roll onto the pre-prepared oven tray.  Make two small cuts on the top of each roll and then brush with the milk.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Eat with tomato or chilli sauce.  Enjoy!

Sourdough and Sourdough starter

10 May

Our local supermarket has a great sourdough that I’m quite happy to continue purchasing each week, however being on a baking quest, I decided to try my own.

A nice idea, but not so simple as I first thought.  This isn’t a baking recipe whereby you buy the ingredients, prep and bake all within the same day.  We’re talking nearly two weeks!  But, each day it’s a 5 minute job and now that I’ve started, I can have fresh sourdough every day!  Bonus.

When researching on how to make sourdough, there were a variety of methods available and there were some very strict rules, but I didn’t use many of the purist methods and it still worked really well.

So first things first and that’s the sourdough starter:

All you need is a good-sized jar and the following:

1/2 cup strong white flour
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons plain natural yoghurt
 
more flour and warm water each day
 

On the first day, I mixed the flour, warm water and yoghurt in the jar and stirred with a wooden spoon.  I then sealed the lid and left it on the kitchen bench.  The next day, I stirred in another 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup of warm water.  On day 3 onwards, I poured out half of the starter and continued to add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup of warm water.

The mixture will really bubble and have a distinctive smell.  Apparently if it really stinks, you need to pour it all out and start again.

After about a week, I began to actually make the sponge and then sourdough loaf and it took 3 days, but again, each day was really simple and only took a few minutes.

Sponge:
100 ml starter
250 gr strong white flour
300 ml warm water
 
Loaf:
300 gr strong white flour
1 tablespoon oil
10 gr salt
 

First off, you need to make the sponge.  In a large bowl, mix the starter, flour and water and mix with a wooden spoon.  Cover with cling film and keep in a refrigerator for 24 hours.

Next day, mix in the loaf ingredients, flour, oil and salt to the sponge and knead for about 10 minutes on a floured surface, until nice and smooth.  This dough is really wet and sometimes sticks to your fingers but it’s quite soft.

Afterwards, add this dough to an oiled bowl, covered with oiled cling film and let it rise for quite a few hours.  Sourdough takes a long time to rise and I let it raise for about 6 hours.   It would work well, if it was left overnight and then cooked in the morning.

Next day, knead this again briefly, mould into an oval shape and place on a floured tray.  Leave this for one hour.  Preheat oven to 250 C / 480 F.

Sprinkle the dough with flour and slash the top with 3 cuts.  Spray the oven with water and bake the sourdough for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 220 C / 420 F, spray the insides of the oven with water again and cook for a further 25 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

How to make Macarons

3 May

Colourful, French macarons.  It’s one of those treats that look oh so amazingly good but way too difficult to make.  I came to this conclusion long before I even attempted them (as I do with baking) so with a friend, I signed up to a macaroon making course.

Thankfully, we had an uber friendly teacher who had the most amazing patience and thought that everything looked wonderful and we were unbelievable fast-learning students; even though you knew that your green macaron colour you had created looked similar to a toxic waste dump then pistachio, which is what you were going for.

Nevertheless, the box of goodies that we left with at the end of the day looked something special and we did feel quite proud of ourselves.  A day later, I was also quite proud of how many I was able to consume in one day without getting sick – quite an accomplishment…

I thought I would share the chocolate macaron recipe as these were my favourite.

180 gr ground almonds
20 gr cocoa powder
200 gr icing / confectioners sugar
80 gr egg whites (you can buy whites in a carton in good supermarkets, which are much easier to measure)
 
For the Meringue:
200 gr caster / fine sugar
75 ml water
80 gr egg whites
 
For the Ganache:
180 gr dark chocolate, chopped
90 gr double cream
Mint essence, optional

Preheat oven to 150 C / 300 F and line oven trays with parchment paper.

For the macaron shells, mix together the almonds, icing sugar, cocoa until well mixed in a large bowl.  Fold in the unbeaten egg whites.  Fold quite gently as you don’t want the mixture to go runny, as thick as possible.  Put this aside.

In a small pan, cook the water and sugar for the meringue without stirring.  At the same time, in an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until full of white bubbles but no peaks.  When the syrup on the stove reaches 110 C / 230 F, turn the mixer with the egg whites on it s highest speed.  Take the syrup off the stove as soon as it reaches 114 C / 237 F and add it very slowly to the egg whites while the mixer is on.  Continue mixing for a further 5 minutes until completely cooled.  This step is obviously a lot easier with a stand alone mixer, however if you don’t have one of these this step may be easier with two people.

Very gently, fold 1/3 of the meringue into the almond paste.  Once fully combined, fold in gently the remaining meringue.

Fill a piping bag with a 1A nozzle and pipe out round mounds onto parchment paper.  Try to make each macaron a similar shape.  Tap the tray on the bench lightly so the macaron shells are smooth.  Let the macarons set at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the tops are set.

Bake in the preheated oven for 14 minutes.  Immediately slide the paper off the oven tray onto a cool bench top.  This helps the macarons release off the paper.  Cool.

Meanwhile, make the ganache by heating the cream to just below boiling point in a saucepan.  Immediately pour this hot cream over the small pieces of chocolate.  While stirring the chocolate should melt.  Leave this to cool as well.

Fill a piping bag with a smaller nozzle and the cooled ganache.  Pipe a good amount on one macaron and then with a similar size make a “sandwich”.  These can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.  They also taste better the next day.  Enjoy!

The Kreativ Blogger Award

25 Apr

I would like to thank Acorn in the Kitchen for nominating this blog for the Kreativ Blogger award.  It was very unexpected and I was very surprised.  Thanks ever so much. Acorn in the Kitchen is a great blog, especially because it evolves around Spanish food, one of my favourites.  You should definitely check it out!

I would also like to thank both Desi Chick from Kolpana Cuisine and Candy from Lovely Buns for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Both fantastic bloggers and I love reading their posts.  Both are definitely worth a visit.

To carry on with the tradition, 7 things about myself are:

1. I have lived in London for just over 6 years and I love the diversity.
2. My partner is from South Africa and he has introduced me to many things about South African food, including billtong and the Braai!
3. I chose holiday destinations based on their cuisine.
4. My favourite books to read are cookbooks and I have far too many.
5. I have recorded enough cooking shows to last me a lifetime.
6. I replace fresh coriander with fresh parsley, it’s just one of those foods that I just can’t enjoy.
7. I am a little food obsessed (in case you didn’t pick that up) and it’s my favourite topic of conversation.
 

And to nominate 7 more bloggers:

1. Eat, Play, Love.  I love discovering foods from different countries and this blogger has the same interest.
2. The Smiley Soyabean Absolutely brilliant photos that just make your mouth water.
3. Finger, Fork & Knife Really different recipes and lots of creations I haven’t seen before.
4. Baker on the Rise  Just the blogs title – genius! On the same baking quest as I
5. Hungry Squirrel Cakes  A professional at cake decorating.  Amazing.
6. @ Down Under Only just discovered this blog and the pictures are fantastic.
7. Girl in a Food Frenzy  Again, only just discovered, but anyone who can blog about dim sum will get a vote from me

Apple and Rhubarb crumble

19 Apr

Having lived in England for over 6 years now, I really have embraced the English puddings (desserts).  They are really hearty and hit the spot when it’s cold.  Which is fortunate as it’s cold all the time – especially this week!

I have never cooked rhubarb before, so this was a new experience for me.  I was planning to make homemade custard to serve with the crumble, but I got impatient and lazy and a quick dash to the local shop for prepared custard hit the spot.

I got the recipe from this website

2 large green apples (Bramley apples if you can), cut into cubes
450 gr (approx 4 stalks) rhubarb, cut into bite sized pieces
45 gr soft brown sugar (for the fruit mixture)
3 whole cloves
cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200 gr plain flour
75 gr butter, cut into small cubes
75 gr soft brown sugar (for the crumble)
 

Heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.

Add to a saucepan, the apples, rhubarb, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and enough water to cover half of the fruit.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is soft, mixing every so often.  This will take 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick, if used.  If there is any excess water, remove from the cooked fruit mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar and with your fingers rub in the butter until it has all been mixed thoroughly and the flour mixture is slightly yellow.

In a baking pan, add the fruit and then sprinkle on the flour (crumble) mixture.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until lightly brown and cooked through.

Serve with homemade (or bought!) custard, or cream, or vanilla ice-cream.  Enjoy!