Saturday, 28 March 2015

Brandy Snaps

Brandy Snaps are crunchy, golden, creamy tubes of goodness!  Isn't it funny how you eat something over the years that you love, but when you think about making it, it always looks like it would be very difficult. 
This is what I thought about making Brandy Snaps.  I used to buy as many as I could afford from the Sunday craft market when I was a kid, then I would hide and eat them all.  Shhh don't tell my Mum.
Well this happens to be one of the easiest things to make, it just takes time.  Put on some good music to dance to and get yourself into the kitchen.
100gm butter
1/2 cup of treacle or golden syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon brandy
Pre heat oven to 175C and line a baking sheet (or two) with baking paper.
Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add treacle and sugars, stir to combine.

Allow mixture to cook until it starts to bubble.  Allow to bubble for a minute and remove from the heat.

Stir in the flour and salt until combined.

Stir through the ground ginger.

Stir through the brandy.

Place a tablespoon of mixture on your baking sheets, depending on how big your sheet is, mine fit 3, remember they spread out to 4 times the size.

How pretty do these look!
Now the next bit depends on your oven so watch your first batch to gauge the time you need to cook them.  Cook anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes, don't allow them to burn.  Remove from the oven (swap in the next batch) allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes on the baking tray, just enough to allow you to handle them.

Now to make them into the lovely tube shape you need a round, metal handled utensil and a pallet knife.  The pallet knife allows you to lift the still warm brandy snap and wrap it around the handle.

Allow to set slightly about a minute then remove from the handle and move onto the next.

Alternately you can place them over a muffin tin turned over to make a basket for a scoop of ice cream.

See golden tubes of crunchy goodness!

Fill your piping bag or a plastic sandwich bag with whipped cream and fill the tubes.  Don't let them sit for too long as they will go soggy with the cream.

Oops no photo down the end here... that's because there are none left.  The crash test dummies went to town!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Chicken, Cheese and Broccoli Pastry Parcel

This is a great recipe to use up leftovers.  If you have a bit of leftover roast chicken and broccoli from your Sunday roast with a bit of puff pastry and some grated cheese you have a meal or lunch that is easily prepared and even frozen ready for later.
This recipe makes 2 parcels so if you don't have a big family freeze one for a quick weeknight dinner later.
Now this can be quite rich and one parcel will easily feed three or 4 with salad or 2 for a lunch.
Martha Stewart tip of the day. 
You know when you use baking paper and it flicks over into what ever your cooking when you put your pan in the oven? 
Well use a bulldog clip, yes a humble bulldog clip from the stationary supply store.  They clip nicely over the edge hold your paper down and don't melt!
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
2 cups cooked chopped broccoli
2 cups grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 sheets thawed puff pastry
In a bowl place your filling ingredients.

Mix through the mayonnaise and set aside.

Place thawed pastry on a sheet of baking paper.  You will leave the finished product on the baking paper for cooking or wrap the parcel in the baking paper to freeze.

I used a ruler for this and tried (not very successfully) to cut even strips.  Divide the pastry in 3 equal parts I used the ruler to make a dented straight line for the thirds.  Along the outer thirds cut equal strips from the dented lines out.  I cut the corner slices off for ease of folding.

Put half the filling along the centre third.

Fold the end flap over the filling then starting on one side fold one piece of pastry over the end flap at an angle, fold the opposing piece of pastry from the other side so that they cross over.  Continue down the parcel.  Make sure the end flap is folded up before the last side flaps.  At this stage you can fold it up in the paper and freeze it or put it in the fridge for later.  It is better cooked from chilled as you get a nice crisp pastry.

Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake in pre heated 200C oven for 20 to 30 mins.  Keep an eye on it after 20 to make sure it doesn't burn.

Slice and serve.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Robyn's Key Lime Pie

I have always wanted to try a key lime pie.  I love a good French lemon tart so knew a key lime pie would be great.  I have seen many recipes and all use Sweetened Condensed Milk, we never used this growing up, Mum doesn't cook with it in any way that I know of, so I was a little unsure about using it.
I saw this recipe from Robyn at Add a Pinch and knew I had to make it!  Add a Pinch is one of my favourite blog websites, take a visit and enjoy some of Robyn's wonderful recipes.
Now the original recipe does call for a biscuit crust (like a cheesecake base for my fellow Aussies) or Graham Cracker Crust for our North American friends.  I however used a nice new pastry recipe that I wanted to try, this pastry is buttery and crisp and works well with the pie.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lime juice
grated zest of 2 limes
2 tblspn castor sugar
Whipped cream

 Blind baked pie crust.

Zest then juice limes.  I rolled my limes firmly before I juiced them to get the most juice out.

Mix together the juice, zest, egg yolks and condensed milk until smooth and well combined.

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and add sugar, whisking until glossy.

Gently fold the egg whites into the lime mixture until combined.

Pour into the pie case and bake in 165C pre heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temp and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours preferably over night.
Spoon whipped cream as desired and decorate with slices of lime.  Serve.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee (Pastry)

I don't know about you but I have struggled to find a pastry recipe that I like to make and eat.  I have tried many different pastry recipes over the years and have had varied results. 

Late one evening I was watching Martha Bakes while Scott snored beside me (I watch it when he's asleep as he doesn't like Martha) and it was a show on pastry.  Martha made this pastry and made it look so easy.  It was similar to one that I already make however had lovely chunks of butter still running through it when rolled!

Well I have, as you can imagine been wanting to try this pastry ever since.  I did find that the pastry was easy to make and rolls out beautifully.  But the proof is in the eating and Oh My!  The pastry remained crisp and buttery even when filled and a couple of days later.

Martha Stewart Pastry Video

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon castor sugar
230g butter cut into approx. 1 cm cubes.  (chilled)
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Now for this I have found that I get the best result with the butter cut into cubes then frozen.

Place flour, salt and sugar into bowl of food processor, process for a few seconds to combine.  Add the butter and process until the mix resembles course meal, some large chunks of butter is good.  With the machine running pour the water down the feed tube in a steady stream, until the dough just holds together.  Do not process for more than 30 seconds.

Have 2 sheets of plastic wrap on your bench.  Divide the mixture in 2 onto the wrap, use the edges of the wrap to bring the dough together and flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  This mix makes enough for either a base and top or 2 bases.  If just making a base you can freeze the other disk for up to a month.

On a floured service gently roll pastry to desired thickness,  place in pie dish,  crimp pie edge as desired and refrigerate pastry again for 30 minutes.

In a pre heated oven 180C blind bake your pastry case.  Remember to dock (poke your pastry with a fork) your pastry and put baking paper and either pie weights or baking beans/rice in your case.  Bake for 15 mins then remove paper and baking beans and bake for a further 15 mins until golden.

At this stage fill as desired.....

Tomorrow the recipe for the Key Lime Pie filling I used in my test pastry.  Oh YUM is all I can say!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Curried Zucchini Soup

I remember this soup from my childhood.  We always called it curried green soup, we loved it, in winter when everything was dull and boring to get a nice hot bowl of curried green soup and a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich was the best way to warm up!

This time of the year zucchini is in plentiful supply, those of you who grow your own will probably be pulling your hair out trying to think of things to do with your zucchini.  This soup is a fantastic way to use it up and if your anything like me, you will also freeze batches of this to just pull out during winter and save yourself some time cooking.

1 Large onion quartered
1 clove garlic peeled
3 medium or 5 smaller zucchini chopped
2 ltr vegetable or chicken stock
1 to 2 tspn curry powder
Sour cream to serve

Gently sweat onion and garlic for 5 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add curry powder, if you don't like it hot add 1 teaspoon and if you like it hot add both.

Stir the curry powder through the onions and cook off for 1 minute.

Stir through the chopped zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Look at my little spoon holder gadget.  I got it in America, its a Martha Stewart one and is just like a bulldog clip for your wooden spoon.

With your Barmix or stick blender, blitz the soup, it will thicken as if by magic and go a nice bright green.  If you wish serve with a dollop of sour cream and a toastie (Toasted Sandwich in Australia).