Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pie for your pie hole (and a giveaway)

Hello there.
I was in the midst of doing another Kitchen Coquette online magazine ready to post this week but after a small and decent war with Issuu I decided to just do a series of spreads instead. (Ok yes, I lost the war, obviously but don't get me started). So to enjoy the last gasps of Winter it's pies a plenty. And a giveaway for hump day because we are in a giving spirit. Deets below. 

Win a copy of Kitchen Coquette, a copy of  High Season by Jim Hearn and a KC inspired tea towel (which will be available to purchase from next week on the website with a few other design options). I'm pretty excited about these tea towels. They are 100% linen made right here in Aus and I am fairly certain no kitchen would be right without a tea towel with the following kind of sentiments floating about the kitchen.
The Kitchen Coquette inspired tea towel. 100% Linen and a must have in every kitchen don't you think?

A brilliant book - think Kitchen Confidential from an Australian perspective. Such a great read for those obsessed with food or the perfect gift for someone who is.

And of course what's a competition without a copy of KC to giveaway

How to enter
You can enter via any of the options below. Improve your chances and enter each way.

Facebook. Like Kitchen Coquette on facebook. Hang on but you do already? No problems, just leave a comment on this post on the Kitchen Coquette facebook page and you'll automatically be put in the running.

Pin it. Pin your favourite pie spread on pinterest with #thelittlecrumb in the content line.

Twitter. Tweet it with #kcoquette

The Other Crumb.
Yep just leave a comment here and you'll go into the running

The competition will run until 1 August, midnight. Good luck!!

What a tart

Beetroot and balsamic-chocolate tart
Beetroot divides people. It’s a love or hate sort of relationship but I think this tart made for Daily Life just might be the grey area; that hospitable UN-inspired middle ground we’ve all been looking for. For this recipe, beetroot roasted in the oven will give you the best results. Now before you turn away, muttering about its rude staining of your hands, knives, chopping board….life, here are a few wee tips.
Trim the leaves then give the beets a good scrub under running water. Be thorough, like a no-nonsense matron from an Enid Blyton novel, just don’t break the skin. Wrap them in foil, pop them in an oven turned well on its way to hot and cook for an hour or more. Allow them to cool then don some CSI gloves and peel them. If you are still unsure, blitz them and hide them in the chocolate cocoon of this tart where they impart a rich, subtle and slightly earthy flavour. You can skip the balsamic vinegar if you’d prefer although its role in this tart is essentially that of salt – adding the counter tartness and background flavour to the sweetness of the chocolate.

2 eggs + 2 egg yolks,
100g caster sugar
100g butter
400g dark chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp milk (full fat)
260g beetroot puree
1 1/2 tbsp caramelized balsamic vinegar

170g butter, coarsely chopped
40g icing sugar, sieved
1 egg yolk
240g plain flour, sifted
20ml cold water

To serve
Cocoa powder

Grease and line a 24cm diameter tart tin.
Prepare the pastry by adding the butter and icing sugar to an electric mixer. Beat until pale and thick. Add the egg yolk and beat briefly to combine. Sift over the flour and add the water. Use your hands and incorporate until the dough just comes together. Shape into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper then line the tart tin, trimming the edges. Allow to rest again in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Blind bake the pastry tart for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden on the edges. Remove paper and weights then cook for an additional 10 minutes or until just cooked through.  Meanwhile prepare the filling by whisking the eggs, yolks and sugar until pale. Melt the chocolate, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Fold through the beetroot puree and balsamic vinegar. Fold through the egg mixture then pour into the tart shell. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until just set and slightly wobbly in the centre.  Allow to cool and dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Let them eat cake...

Boysenberry and Aperol Yoghurt Cake
Over on Daily Life this week, things got a little cakey with this really simple and delicious fruity yoghurt cake. FYI - I recommend making two, it doesn't ever seem to last long.

Full disclosure. I am a sufferer of easily swayed, fairly consistent and all consuming bouts of cake lust. From the day my mother made me the ladybird from the Women’s Weekly cake book I was gone for good.
I can easily skip those fancy schmaancy fondant laden versions. You know the ones – layered up like a row of terrace houses – purchased mostly by bankers for the sort of fee that subsequently requires it to be owned by a “trust”. Yep, I’ll take the good old humble CWA inspired teacake and all its variants any day of the week. Much the same could be said for Italian aperitifs, anytime after midday, which is why I’ve combined the sweetness of boysenberries with the fruity tartness of Aperol in this cake. And I think it works a treat. Most syrup cake recipes suggest you drizzle over the syrup before serving but I think this works best if you slice and let people do their own drizzle; cake is, after all, personal.
125g butter, softened
220g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
200g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
1 tsp baking soda, sifted
200g natural yoghurt
150g boysenberries (use frozen if not in season)
Aperol berry  syrup
5 boysenberries
¼ cup Aperol
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup water
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin and set aside.
Beat the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs to a bowl with the vanilla bean and whisk lightly with a fork. Add the eggs to the butter mix and beat until combined. Gently fold through the flour, baking powder and baking soda, alternating with the yoghurt. Beat briefly to combine then scrape the mixture into the cake pan. Gently press the boysenberries across the top of the cake. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
To make the syrup add all the syrup ingredients to a saucepan.  Place over low heat and cook until sugar dissolves and the mixture has thickened to a syrup consistency. Remove the cake from the oven. Allow to cool in the pan. Serve cake warm topped with spoonfuls of aperol syrup to taste.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vive Italia

With my impending side trip visit to Italy, I have been a little bit of a pasta obsessive, and seem to be making the stuff every second day. I'm hoping for honorary citizenship. And I think this hand cut pasta with beef short rib ragu might be my golden ticket. Like all secondary cuts of beef, the longer this sits and wallows in the oven, then in its reduction, the better it tastes so it calls for long, languid cooking when time is on your side. 
I use Anna Del Conte's pasta recipe - my only tip - if you use eggs on the smaller side and your dough seems a touch dry, add in an additional egg yolk.

Hand cut pasta with beef short rib ragu

300g 00 flour
3 fresh eggs

1.5kg beef short ribs
1 bottle red wine
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 eschallot, peeled
1 each celery stalk and carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1.5kg beef short ribs
4 cups good quality beef stock
Sprig rosemary
Sprig lemon thyme
1 cup passata

Parmesan and fresh parsley to serve

Place beef ribs in a single layer in a non-reactive container that fits ribs snugly, add 1/2 the wine, cover and refrigerate 
Preheat oven to 130C. Heat oil in a casserole dish over medium heat, remove ribs from wine (reserve wine), pat dry on absorbent paper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden.Remove ribs and set aside, reduce heat to low, add vegetables and stir occasionally until tender (12-15 minutes). Add wine and cook over low heat until reduced by half. Add the ribs and remaining ingredients. Pop on the lid then cook in the oven for 6-8 hours or until the meat is falling from the bone and the sauce has thickened significantly.
Carefully remove the ribs. Remove the bones (they should just fall out at this stage) and shred the meat with a fork. Strain the liquid from the pot into a clean put. Add the shredded meat to the reduced sauce. Season generously. Cover and refrigerate until required.
Make the pasta. Add the flour and eggs to a bowl and bring together with your hands until a course dough forms. Dust your bench with flour, turn out the dough and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Use a pasta roller on its widest setting and run the dough, through the machine, repeating this step until desired thickness, reducing the setting as you go. Dust with semolina to prevent sticking. Gently fold the sheets then cut with a sharp knife into wide strips.
Return the saucepan of ragu to a medium to low heat and cook until warmed through.
In a large saucepan of boiling water, cook your pasta for 1-2 minutes,or until al dente and it rises to the top. Strain, give it a lug of olive oil, season with salt then add to the pot of ragu. Stir gently to combine then serve hot with a slathering of pecorino or parmesan over the top and some roughly chopped flat leaf parsley. Heaven.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A love affair with pasta

Pasta Al Pomodoro

Sophia Loren claimed she owed her curves to pasta. When I try to stake the same assertion it just doesn’t have such a great ring to it. But oh lordy how I love the stuff. If I were of religious fervor, I would most certainly build it temples, and light candles and take donations for its greatness. There is little else in this world as wondrous and as satisfying as a spectacular bowl of pasta; preferably one the size of a world globe. For this dish to move from ho-hum to epic you need to use the sort of tomatoes that are on the edge of bursting with some spectacular fresh pasta and milky, creamy mozzarella.

There is a video on Daily life here where I offer up some tips on how to make your own mozarella - its surprisingly easy and very, very satisfying in a "I could be a cheese maker if I wanted to kind of way." My sous chef Molly (aka my dog) features again. She's a natural in front of the camera.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1kg mix of regular and cherry tomatoes blanched, peeled and roughly chopped.
400g fresh fettucini
¼ cup Parmesan, shaved
3 large mozzarella balls, coarsely torn
120g Sopressa or Chorizo – finely chopped and fried
Salt and pepper to season
Fresh basil and squeeze of lemon juice to serve
Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for 1-2 minutes or until translucent. Add the butter and season then add the peeled tomatoes. Cook over mild heat for about thirty minutes until reduced and thickened. Season to taste and keep warm.
Cook the pasta “al dente” in a large pot of salted water, then drain and add it to the tomato sauce. Add basil leaves torn by hand, a knob of fresh butter, and the Parmesan. Coarsely tear the mozzarella and add to the bowl. Season, stir gently to combine and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In pursuit of perfect roast chicken

After a nasty (read dire) bout of chicken related food poisoning when travelling in Vietnam I had a thing about the bird. It was never my go to option in a way that most people enjoy it. But recently I became a little obsessed with finding the perfect method for a humble roast chicken. A roast chicken is,
upon first inspection, dinner 101. But a great roast chicken, one worthy of Parisian bistros and the like, is much much harder to achieve. The issue is not one of flavour, hands down you get what you pay for, but more one of balance. Roast chicken is the gastronomic equivalent of yin and yang. Juicy meat balanced by an oh so crispy skin. For my column over at Daily Life this week I made a za'atar roast chicken. I even did a bit of a chicken how to - road testing a few different roasting methods, the video is online now here  Be kind, its a little strange to be cooking in front of a camera, more than a bit daunting! But fun and my sous chef Molly (my dog) is loving her five minutes in front of the camera.

This roasting business started my chicken renaissance and led to some quick and easy miso hoisin roasted drumsticks. They take five seconds to throw together and taste delicious. 

Za'atar & Lemon Roast Chicken

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 ½ tbsp. za’atar spice (or more to taste)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 organic, happy, free-range chicken
150g butter, cubed
3 lemons, halved
1 head garlic, halved
Preheat the oven to 220C
Combine the oil with the za’atar and lemon zest in a bowl.
Pat dry the chicken inside and out. Gently loosen the skin and push the cubes of butter between the chicken breasts and skin. Rub the za’atar mix into the skin then place in a roasting pan atop the lemon halves and garlic. Roast for 40 minutes or until crisp skinned and cooked through. Serve with Paris mash and steamed green beans.
Hoisin and Miso Drumsticks

800g chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup miso paste
3 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the chicken drumsticks in a large bowl. Add all ingredients except for the sesame seeds into a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the marinade over the drumsticks, turning to coat. Place the drumsticks in a roasting tray lined with baking paper and roast for 40 minutes. Sprinkle over sesame seeds (black or white) and roast for another 10 minutes.
Serve warm.