Friday, 25 June 2010

Recipe 21 - Eclairs

This week it's eclairs. A good one is amazing. A poor one is a crushing disappointment.

And a great one? Divine!

I have my fingers crossed for ours. This recipe is from a great blog called Butter + Cream, who themselves got it from the incredible tartine.

I'm not going to include all of the instructions here, just the ingredient list - that's to encourage everyone to check out the lovely detailed descriptions and photos on Butter + Cream!

I'll have a discussion with Her and check what time frame we have to play with. If she's busy we may use whipped cream rather than the pastry cream recipe shown there. I know she'll worry about it after the vanilla slice episode! I think it'd be good for her though - get the custard / pastry cream monkey off her back.

For the pastry cream:
480 ml whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
30g cornstarch
115g sugar
2 large eggs
60g unsalted butter

For the choux paste:
120 ml nonfat milk
120 ml water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
115g unsalted butter
120g all purpose flour
5 large eggs

For the chocolate glaze:
115g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tbs light corn syrup
120 ml heavy cream

Monday, 21 June 2010

Her results - Simple Cherry Sorbet

I wasn't able to get sweet red cherries from my nearby grocery, so I decided to try these pink and yellow ones. I forgot to photograph them before I pitted them, but they were undoubtedly prettier before I went at them with a knife and my fingers. Pitting them wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I ended up making a full batch.

The recipe was very simple, and everything was together in a saucepan in no time.

As they heated, they got a little frothy.

It was taking forever to cool, so I ended up putting it in a water bath to lower the temperature more quickly.

After that, I had to put it in the freezer for hours upon hours. At first it just wasn't freezing as quickly as the recipe suggested it might. After two hours there was basically no progress. After four hours, it was getting slushy. I went away to work in my garden for a few hours, and when I got home I found that I'd left the freezer cracked open. It was completely liquified again. So I shut the freezer, went to bed, and tossed it in the food processor the next morning.

I have a decent food processor, but it took a really long time to get this stuff ground up. I haven't figured out why. I live in an apartment, and I bet my neighbors really wanted to know what I was doing with that machine on at full blast for 30 minutes. In the end, it was worth it.

Yum! The sugar and heat really brought out the flavor of the cherries. I'll have to admit that while I love the idea of cherries, I usually find them to be one of the less tasty fruits. Whether or not you share my opinion, this is a good way to make the most of cherries. I added the almond extract but not the kirsch. I can't taste the almond flavor, which I'm happy about. The texture gets nicer and creamer when it sits outside the freezer for a few minutes. I'm going to have another scoop right now.

Friday, 18 June 2010

His results - Simple Cherry Sorbet

I think the cherries look pretty tasty in this photo but they were much more attractive in the brown paper bag I brought them home in and even better in the display at my local greeengrocer. I wish I'd taken a photo of them there so I could share it with you. This recipe is so simple, and has such a small ingredient list, that it is simply a celebration of these little gems. They deserved it too; they were totally delicious. So much so that it's a wonder there were enough left to make the sorbet...

I love this skillet. It was one of my finer purchases. I really appreciate having nice equipment to use. It makes me happy to take this, or the skyline pans that I've mentioned a few times on here, out of the cupboard. Not that the skyline pans are especially good quality, they are just pleasing to me in design and 'feel'.

So you weigh stuff out, bubble it,

freeze it,

whiz it,

and eat it.

So, so simple!

It's wonderful too. I keep taking a spoonful everytime I walk by the freezer. Personally I'd leave out the almond and keep it a pure cherry flavour but the flavours do work fantastically well obviously. I'm sure this would work out equally fantastically with a whole host of other fruits. I'm pretty excited to try it out. Pineapple? Plum? Pear? Peach? Passionfruit? Papaya? Pomegranate? That's only one letter of the alphabet and already my mind is spinning from the delicious possibilities!

We're having another weekend out of the transatlantic kitchen this weekend. Perhaps I'll use the time to experiment with some more fruits. Then again it's a while since I had cake...

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Recipe 20 - Simple Cherry Sorbet

I finally bought a copy of David Lebovitz' Ready for Dessert and I could not wait for us to make something from it. I became a huge fan of Lebovitz when we made his Fresh Ginger Cake last month.

One of Lebovitz' specialties is frozen desserts, but there's no room in my tiny apartment for an ice cream machine, so I honed in on a recipe that doesn't require one. I am so hopeful that he can find fresh cherries in England. They're all over the place here, and I've been eating them a lot lately. Seasonality here versus there can be problematic.

I halved the recipe.

Simple Cherry Sorbet
Makes about 1.5 cups (375ml)

2 cups (.75 pounds/340 g) sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
.25 cup (50 g) sugar
.5 cup (125 ml) water
.5 tablespoons lemon juice
a drop of almond extract
.5 tablespoons kitsch (optional)

In a large skillet or saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar, water, and lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries have softened and released their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the almond extract and kirsch, if using. Let cool completely.

Transfer the cherries and their syrup to a shallow container, cover, and freeze until firm, at least two hours.

Once the cherry mixture has frozen completely, remove it from the freezer, break it up, and process it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until completely smooth.

Serve right away.

Storage: Once sorbet is processed, you can return it to the freezer until ready to serve.

Her results - Chocolate Basil Torte

The jury's out on this cake, but I have no idea what he's talking about when he mentions it being tinged with the flavor of sausage grease. It makes me totally happy that he thinks that, but what a strange reaction!

5+ years ago, back when I subscribed to Gourmet Magazine, I made these rosemary shortbread cookies. Ever since then, I've been terrified of herbed sweets. In my opinion, it's usually too much. I reserve the right to hold that opinion until I find a recipe that helps me disagree. I was worried that I'd feel the same way about this cake. But the basil turned out not to be too big of a deal.

To start, the recipe came together nicely. This was my first time pulsing basil and sugar. And I was happy when I tasted the green paste and it was delicious. Maybe I would have stopped there and eaten it.

But we kept on, and I was so happy that the cake came out well again. This makes several weeks of success. By success I mean "not burnt" and "not raw." I have set the bar low. Only time will tell whether this weekly project will leave me a confident baker or whether it will instill a well-rooted baking performance anxiety.

Here's the batter in the pan before and after baking:

Flipping the cake out and seeing the underside reassured me that I wanted to make the ganache. The top of the cake is more presentable, so if you skip the ganache you probably want to serve it right-side up.

I must have warmed my ganache too hotly because it went a little thick, oily and grainy, but there was nothing wrong with the taste.

I suggest the ganache. It provided a good textural contrast. The cake was surprisingly light and the ganache was creamy. It was by no means a "light" dessert, but it was not texturally stodgy.

My opinion is that you should avoid using 85% cocoa dark chocolate like I did. Between the chocolate and the basil, it was too rich. But those who tried it claimed to like it, so perhaps it doesn't have to taste too rich or like sausages after all. ;) If you like basil and you love chocolate, try out this recipe. It's more about chocolate than it is about basil. It's a sophisticated dessert, and this is a well-written recipe. I'm apt to make it again using a lighter chocolate and some fresh basil from my garden when it's ready. This recipe might even be good using fresh mint instead of basil.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

His results - Chocolate Basil Torte

I'm a little undecided on this one. I love basil. I love chocolate. I love the two of them together. I'm just not all that crazy about them in this recipe I think.

I really loved making it. It was great playing with the sugar and basil. The sugar was very tasty indeed!

As usual I had a hearty sample of the batter. It was really, really nice.

It baked pretty well but sank a little in the middle. That's better than it turning out dry though. It was lovely and moist in the centre, even four or five days later after storing it in the fridge.

I decided to make the ganache. It was lovely and had a beautiful pure chocolate taste. It was very rich though. On another desert it would probably be too much. It was good on this though. It played off well against the basil.

We had a slice straight out of the oven and it was good. The next day though I wasn't too sure. It didn't have the lovely fresh basil taste it had earlier. Now it was kind of earthy and meaty almost. The best way I can describe it is it's a little like someone took a normal choclate torte recipe and replaced some of the fat with the fat that's left in the pan after you fry some really nice sausages. It's not at all unpleasant, I quite enjoy it, it's just a bit strange.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Recipe 19 - Chocolate-Basil Torte

She's a bit busy this weekend. To work around the time constraints she has I was set a couple of restrictions for this week's recipe. Basically it had to be quick and something that could be eaten straight after making - no cooling etc required.

I finally settled on this Chocolate-Basil Torte recipe from Hogwash. I've had my eye on it for a long time. This recipe was one of the beaten finalists when my friends chose the Japanese Cheesecake a few weeks ago. I think this has to be a winner. Dark, rich and chocolately. The basil should work excellently and, as per instructions, it can be eaten more or less straight from the oven! I wonder whether this really needs the ganache. I have a felling it doesn't and would go great with some fromage frais or yoghurt. I may try it without, I'll decide on baking day.

Chocolate-Basil Torte

TIME: 40 minutes active time
MAKES: 8 to 10 servings

For the cake:

110g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing pan

110g dark chocolate, chopped

150g sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 packed cup fresh basil (leaves only)
3 large eggs, room temperature
50g unsweetened cocoa powder

For the ganache:
110g chopped bittersweet chocolate (65% to 75% cacao)
95ml heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and center a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of wax paper or parchment paper, and butter the paper.

Place the butter and the chocolate in a small saucepan and melt over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the mixture is smooth, transfer to a large mixing bowl, stir in the vanilla and salt, and set aside.

Next, make a basil sugar: pulse the sugar and the basil together in a food processor until the basil is very finely chopped and uniformly green in color. The sugar will look slightly wet.

Add the basil sugar to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, blending completely between additions. Sift the cocoa powder over the batter and fold it in until no dry spots remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.

Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the cake barely begins to crack. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then invert the cake onto a round serving plate.

While the cake cools, make the ganache: place the chocolate and the cream in a small saucepan, and stir constantly over very low heat until melted and smooth. Using a flat spatula or knife, spread the ganache over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides, if desired. (Hint: Using the ganache immediately will mean a thin coating that drips easily down the sides of the cake; in this case, it’s best to frost the cake over a cooling rack, then transfer it to a serving plate. You can also let the ganache cool a bit, then spread it just on the top, more like a thin frosting.)

Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, let cool completely, then cover and keep at room temperature up to 3 days.

Her results - Carrot-Zucchini Bread with Candied Ginger

I liked this bread enough that I included it in my daily meals morning, noon and night over the first few days, cleaning out my supply quickly and making me wish I'd made two loaves.

I had hoped that the nearby grocery, Fiesta, would have candied ginger, but they didn't. They did have ginger candy. I bought a packet of it, tried it, decided it definitely was not candied ginger, and then used it anyway! It was quite gummy and hard to chop, but it looks cool! I think it's from Indonesia.

A day after we made this, I finally bought David Lebovitz' new book "Ready For Dessert" and read his recipe for candied ginger. I wish I'd seen that earlier! I'd never thought of making it. I'd also never heard of ground ginger, so I assumed the recipe was asking for grated fresh ginger. My substitutions seemed to give satisfactory results, but I wish I could have taste-tested my loaf against his.

The batter looked like something unappetizing that I won't name. Trust me, it looks better in the picture.

It baked up really nicely! I was so happy that everything went well. I think I baked the loaf for around 45 minutes (my oven runs hot).

The flecks of carrot and zucchini, and the little dots of melted ginger candy looked pretty in my slices. I'm not going to shout my love of this recipe from the rooftops, but I like it a lot and I suggest making it.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

His results - Carrot-Zucchini Bread with Candied Ginger

It was a nice gentle day in the kitchen. I enjoyed this one. I seem to say that quite a lot but it's true. I like chopping, stirring and mixing. I also love the eating!

The batter looked lovely I thought, but she didn't agree. I like the colours and it had a nice texture. I was slightly concerned that it tasted so strongly of cinnamon because I'm not a big fan.

My oven seemed to behave itself this week which was a relief. It took about 50 minutes or so which is a little longer than I thought it might but not ridiculous.

It looks so nice in slices. I chose to chop the ginger fairly coarsely and I'm glad because it gave a lovely textural interest. It's lovely and moist and holds together exceptionally well in slices which is pleasing. It's definatley a good cake to transport for pack lunches or picnics. The flavour is mellow, slightly spicy and pretty great. The cinnamon mellowed quite a lot in the oven thankfully. It won't rock your world with its novelty but it's very, very nice and you could happily chomp your way through a fair few slices. Try to save some though because it gets better and better over a few days.

I'd recommend you make it. It's a great solid tea loaf and looks wonderful on a plate. If you have a picnic you need to prepare something for then this is a great, solid choice.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...