Monday, 13 February 2017

Choux Pastry

I rarely make choux pastry, however, there was a time when it seemed that I was making it all the time. Choux pastry is the base for profiteroles and eclairs. 

It is not difficult to make with a food processor or heavy duty mixer although the beating by hand is hard work. The paste must be well beaten until glossy, this helps develop the gluten in the flour.

The paste is cooked and then eggs are beaten into the flour mixture.

The paste can be piped or spooned onto a tray or baking parchment.

If making profiteroles or puffs it is easy to just spoon the mixture onto the trays.

The puffs must go into a hot oven so that the high moisture content of the paste is converted to steam causing the puffs to expand and rise or puff up. Once cooked the heat is reduced so that the puffs can dry out inside, residual paste can be removed and the puffs returned to the oven to dry out further.

The yellow 'claggy' middle can be removed.

Fill puffs/ eclairs with whipped cream, pastry cream/custard or chocolate pastry cream/custard and ice with melted chocolate.

Profiteroles have a chocolate sauce.

A large puff filled with whipped cream and fresh berries are a delicious dessert.

Salambbo, puffs with whipped cream/custard filling and a toffee coating.

Choux Pastry

1 cup flour
1 cup water
125 g butter
3 eggs

Put water and butter into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. 
Reduce the heat and then add the flour all at once and stir until the mixture forms a smooth ball.
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes then beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat thoroughly until mixture is glossy and smooth. Use a food processor or electric beater if you have one.
Cool thoroughly before using the mixture. It can be refrigerated.
Spoon or pipe the paste onto trays lined with baking parchment
Bake at 220 deg C for 15 - so minutes and then reduce the heat to 180 deg C.
Cook until golden brown.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Sausage Rolls

Not sure why I haven't shared this recipe before - sausage rolls are a staple in my finger food collection.  Once you get organised it is easy to make them in bulk. I cut them into a variety of sizes according to the end use, smaller bite sized rolls for finger foods and larger for light lunches. If making in bulk  just cook until meat has set and pastry pale golden colour so that they do not get too brown when reheated. Pack the sausage rolls into containers and freeze or refrigerate for two or three days. I like to mince the onion in a food processer and keep the mixture moist, add an extra egg yolk if necessary.

The basic recipe can have spices added or grated vegetables such as carrots and zucchini. Beef sausage mince can be replaced with any other sausage mince or by squeezing the filling from commercial sausages. I once made a delicious variety by using pork and fennel sausages with a little grated apple, however, the gourmet sausages are quite expensive and are something that I use for special occasions.

How To

Cut the pastry sheet in half and place the filling down on each half sheet of pastry. Filling may be piped or rolled into a sausage on a floured board.

Roll the pastry over the filling.

Make sure the filling is totally enclosed.

Cut sausage rolls into desired lengths and place on a tray. The tops can be decorated by snipping with scissors or 
Slashed diagonally with a sharp knife or blade. Glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake in a hot oven (200 deg C)

Sausage Rolls
Meat Filling
500g sausage mince
1 small to medium onion, finely minced
1 egg
2/3 cup breadcrumbs, moistened with a little water.
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
black pepper
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg  beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds

Lay sheets of pastry on the bench to defrost.

Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.

Divide the mixture into four. Using floured hands and board create a sausage the length of the pastry from each quarter of the filling. Alternatively use a piping bag with a large nozzle.

Cut each sheet of pastry in half

Place a sausage along the middle of piece of pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash.

Roll the pastry around each of the sausage mince rolls, making sure the pastry is totally enclosed.

Use scissors to cut a pattern down each of the long sausage rolls or cut diagonally with a sharp knife or blade.

Cut the long rolls into smaller pieces. For finger foods cut into 6 for larger cut into four or two.

Place individual sausage rolls on a tray lined with baking parchment. The seam should be on the bottom so that they do not unroll. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake in a hot oven (200 deg C) until cooked, the meat should be set and the pastry golden brown. Remove a little sooner if they are to be reheated. Small sausage rolls will cook in approximately 15 -20 minutes, allow longer for the larger and reduce heat to 180 deg C after the first 15 minutes.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Faces That Only A Mother Could Love

I spent the last weekend in a workshop with the vey talented Suzanne McRae, you can read more about her on her facebook page Hip Hip Decay. It was a very short introduction into her techniques for producing whimsical and anthropomorphic animals. The workshop was great fun and  left the way open for us to create in her style but not copy.  We needed to come along with our 'heads' made and then the development of our unique animals would take place. With time on my hands and plenty of clay available I made a few heads as per the instructions and left them to dry. A visiting friend remarked  that  they were so ugly that only a mother could love them.

This is Gertie, my first born.

Mug shots, her head needs to be painted and a closer view of her eco dyed/contact print fabric body. The feathers for the wings and tail are chiffon.

The saying that practice makes perfect does not necessarily mean that making five heads is enough for perfection. However, this mother loves her children and will eventually create more bodies / animals to go with the heads or maybe just have an ever growing bowl of heads as I work at perfecting them.

And of course a cat

The group photo

Some more finished than others.

The beginnings of Gertie's body.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Last Cards for 2016

The last two months of the Artists Trading Card Swap for 2016.


Theme: Hats

My card

A Feather in Your Cap   4/4

The swaps

Hats   2/3



Theme: Psychedelic/ Sparkle

My card

The Sparkle of Fireworks   1/4

The swaps

 The Sparkle of Stars   1/4

Psychedelic / Sparkle    2/4

Psychedelic - Glitter   1/4

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Stir Fried Pork with Noodles

 An alternative to salad and perfect for those days when the temperature makes you want to get in and out of the kitchen with minimal cooking time. This is a quick dinner dish, the preparation can be done in advance and noodles boiled as the stir fry is being cooked. This is a concept dish and basic, add more garlic, chilli or ginger and some oyster sauce or sweet chilli for extra flavour. Although I have used pork it is just as good with beef, chicken, prawns or tofu substituted for the pork.

How To

Cook the onion

Then the pork

Combine the onion, pork, cooked noodles and blanched broccoli

Toss ingredients together over low heat

Stir Fried Pork with Noodles
500 g thinly sliced pork (or substitute beef, chicken, prawns or tofu)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small knob of green ginger grated
oil for stir frying.

1 red onion, sliced thickly
250 g green beans or 1-2 bunches broccolini
sliced and blanched/ cooked in microwave for 1 minute

1 mild large chilli or capsicum, thinly sliced/julienned (optional)

1/4 cup stock, water or sherry (optional)
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cooked noodles of choice (drained and hot)

Combine pork, garlic, ginger, soy in a bowl and marinate. If possible refrigerate it overnight.

Heat pan/wok until very hot, add a little oil and then add onions. Toss/stir for a minute or two until starting to brown and nearly cooked. Remove to a clean plate or bowl.

Heat pan/wok again until very hot, add a little oil and then add marinated pork. Toss/stir for a minute or two until pork is brown and cooked. Return onion to the pan,

Combine the broccolini, cooked noodles and capsicum/chilli (if using) to the pork and onions and toss gently to mix. 

Add stock and sesame oil and  bring to boil. Check flavour, add a little soy sauce if needed.

Monday, 23 January 2017

More Bread

Whilst I have written about it before  fresh bread seems to be  universally appealing and something that I have been making a lot lately. Click on the link for the recipe. On a warm day proving is easy and makes the process of making flatbreads and pizza very simple. The flatbreads can also be cooked on a barbecue or an electric frypan which is perfect for Summer cooking. The dough is quick to mix up and it will cope with minimal kneading. It can be made with all white or all whole meal flour according to your taste. Use the dough to make loaves, rolls, flatbreads, scrolls and pizza bases.

The dough can be shaped in a tin (white sandwich loaf) or a free form loaf (combination of whole meal and plain flour)

The pattern on this loaf is created by slashing the loaf with a very sharp scalpel or blade before the second proving.

These rolls are cut with scissors.

The dough can be rolled into a thin flatbread and grilled.

Roll the dough thinly and use it to make pizza. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Fika & Hygge 3

Still working my way through this fabulous book. I have set myself the goal of making every recipe from the book. My friends regard it as my own Julie and Julia  experience. I too am documenting my progress on my blog and instagram. There are sixty recipes in the book and so far twenty six have been made. I have previously written about it here , here and here . As with all cookbooks there are recipes that I have liked more than others and some that I will make over and over, however, so far have not made anything that I didn't like.  There are some that have ingredients not readily obtained or required tins that I either do not have or can easily substitute. Fortunately, a friend who is travelling to London was happy to visit the authors shop and purchase them, the special tins needed for the cake that I intend for my last have been ordered on line.

Coconut tops, page 18

Rum Treats, page 56

Rye Flat Rolls, page 171

Homemade Rye Crispbread, page 167

Othello Layer Cake, page 135

World's Best Cake page 136

Daim Cookies page 21

Sticky White Chocolate Cake, page 76

Medals, page 110

Custard Tarts, page 94

Mazarin Tart with Plums, page 80