Month: April 2015

Quinces

quince

A wonderful friend dropped in some ripe quinces prompting me to cook with this unusual fruit. A quince is a quince but the aroma is somewhat like an underripe pear,with hints of spice. However when cooked, and yes that is the secret of their delight, they undertake a personality change and become a deep pink to red colour with the smell of blossom.

Don’t try and eat them raw – peel them like an apple ,remove the core. Place the peeled pieces of quince into a sugar syrup – this bit sometimes sounds hard but is simply 1 cup of water to 1 cup of sugar – if that is too much sugar reduce by half to make a half strength syrup. We require just enough syrup to cover the peeled and cored quinces.

Place into an ovenproof dish and simply bake for around 3 hours on a medium low heat – around 140c (turning them occasionally)- alternately you can just poach on the cooktop for around 2 hours in the same syrup – this method, while faster, won’t undertake the same colour but will still be delicious.

My tip is to add some extra spice to your cooking for example cinnamon, lemon peel, fresh ginger or even star anise

Pop them into some water with the juice of one lemon as they will discolour as soon as you peel them

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Check out Maggie Beers recipe for chocolate quince tart

http:http://http://http://www.maggiebeer.com.au/recipes/chocolate-quince-and-almond-tart

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Cake Inspiration

Whenever I need inspiration for a cake I always turn to my favourite cooking author/cake  maker extraordinary- Belinda Jeffery.

Her cakes are always delicious and work perfectly. They are sweet without being sickly but aren’t difficult to put together.

One of her easy delicious cakes is the Fragrant Pear and Almond Cake

2 large pears are peeled and cored and poached in muscat. Once cooled quarter and keep aside.

Butter a 24cm tin. Place 180g almond mel, 80g self raising flour,1/4 tsp of salt . In a separate bowl whisk 4 eggs with 250g caster sugar ,11/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp almond essence until well combined. to this mixture add 200g of melted butter (which has cooled) .Combine this buttery mixture into the almond meal mixture. Spread the resulting batter evenly into the greased cake tin.

Place the quartered pears decoratively on top of the cake batter

Bake between 160 c to 180c depending on how hot your oven is for approximately 45 minutes.

On top of this mixture

Pasta – Tips To Cook

freshFilledPasta

I love cooking pasta and it is often that pantry meal at our house – not sure what there is to cook for dinner, but know that I always have a few ingredients like onion, tinned tomatoes and bacon that can quickly be thrown together as a pasta sauce.

It is confusing to know which pasta shape goes with what kind of sauce. Here is my guide to matching shapes to sauce.

1. Long strands – ie spaghetti, linguine, angel hair pasta, bucatini – these marry best with olive oil,cream and simple tomato based sauces, and thinner meat and seafood sauce.

2. Long flat ribbons – fettucine, pappardelle, tagliatele – they pair well with meat,cream -based and vegetable sauces.

3. Tubular pasta – penne, canelloni, rigatoni -these work well with thick chunky meat, tomato and vegetable sauces that contain larger pieces such as eggplant, capsicum, or can be used in baked pasta dishes

4. moulded shapes – farfalle, orchiette, conchigile, fusilli – these shapes capture and hold sauce in their crevice and grooves, making them ideal for textured sauces that contain meat or vegetables .

Hope this helps

Flour less Orange Cake

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Asked by a new friend for an easy cake recipe and my immediate reply was did she have a food processor ?

The Classic Claudia Roden flour less cake came to mind simply because it is so easy to make and yet delicious to eat.

There are a few variations about, namely instead of always cooking oranges you could substitute mandarin or even a lime.

If you don’t own a steamer simply boil 2 oranges for 2 hours ( covered in water) when cool cut whole fruit roughly removing the pips. ( the pips make it bitter)

Place chopped oranges along with 250 g castor sugar,250g almond meal , 1 tsp baking powder. Blend until smooth.

Place in a greased lined 24 cm tin at 170c fan forced oven for about 40 mins to 60 minutes.

Baking Secrets at Easter

This week I have been teaching the secrets of baking Hot Cross Buns, Easter bread and making chocolate Easter Eggs. We have also been making Osterzopf  which is a German Easter bread that is decorated with flaked almonds – it is essentialy a sweet bread with sugar and egg, sultanas  added with the addition of lemon and orange zest.

We made two types of Hot Cross Buns , one traditional with the flavour of sultanas and spice and one flavoured with dried apple along with a little cooked apple.We placed the traditional hot cross bun in a straight rows, whilst the apple flavoured hot cross buns were cooked in a circular fashion.

My tips for making Hot Cross Buns and Easter Breads are

1. Use 00 flour – this is bakers flour that has a higher protein content

2. Ensure fruit that is used is fresh and plump – soak in alcohol or fruit juice for one hour before use. If fruit has dried plump up by heating in the microwave for 20 seconds or cover with boiling liquid

3. It is better to make a wetter dough. don’t add more flour just knead a little longer and it will come together once proved . A wetter dough gives a lighter bun

4. Optimum proving temperature is 37c – try a low temp oven, a warm place in the kitchen, near a heater, fill the sink with hot boiling water and put the dough underneath the sink.

5. use a little oil, salt and sugar in the paste to make the cross it will pipe better and taste better.

6. Add extra flavour add the end of kneading, like chocolate chips.

7. Try piping white chocolate as a cross if you don’t like the flour paste.