Friday, 22 January 2010

Apfeltaschen with walnuts

This is a quick, easy yet tasty variation from the traditional apple strudel, which requires a painstaking effort in making its proper pastry sheet. Lightly roasted walnuts gives additional flavour boost, but you can also substitute them with a handful of sultanas. This can be made in smaller sizes, bite sizes even, by cutting the pastry sheets in sections for party treats or get togethers, however I prefer making a larger log as it holds more filling this way :-) Addition of a big pile of whipped cream or ice cream will further enhance the enjoyment when serving!

Apfeltaschen with walnuts

1 sheet of puff pastry, 250-300g
2 firm fresh apples
20g butter
60g walnuts, roughly crushed
60g brown sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
1 beaten egg(optional)

-peel, core and slice the apples into thin wedges
-in a skillet cook the walnuts in melted butter.
-after a minute or two add the apple slices, sugar and cinnamon, continue to cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized, tossing and mixing thoroughly. Apples need NOT be fully cooked, just well coated by the butter-walnut-sugar mixture. Let it cool to the room temperature. (it will be much more manageable to handle the filled pastry when the filling is sufficiently chilled)
-roll out the puff pastry sheet on a lightly greased baking tray (or lined with silicon sheet).
-pour out the apple mixture lengthwise at the centre of the pastry sheet, leaving unfilled about 3-4cm at the end.
-fold over the top and bottom left empty from the filling (to avoid the filling from spewing out).
-then fold over the both side towards the centre, at this point filling should be completely covered with the pastry.
-press rightly to secure, then turn quickly to bring the seamside at the bottom.
-with a sharp knife make several diagonal slits on the surface.
-if desired brush the beaten egg lightly & evenly over the surface.
-bake in the oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Creamy Cup o' Green Peas

This is a very nice comfort dish for wintry evening, you can serve them as a light meal, or alternative to pasta or risotto, as it is reasonably substantial. This can be modified anywhere from mashed potato like texture to a more soupy consistency, depending on the amount of broth added (or omitted). Also for a vegetarian variation, substitute the bacon with a shredded carrot, to be sauteed with shallots!

Creamy cup of green peas

For 3-4
800g frozen green peas
200g cooking cream
4 shallots, finely chopped
100g chopped smoked bacon
vegetable broth (as needed/prefered)
extra virgine olive oil
white pepper

Boil green peas in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not mushy.
In a sauce pan fry the bacon and scallion in olive oil, until bacon is crisp.
Put the hot peas in a mixer until they become a puree.
Add the puree and cooking cream into the sauce pan, dash of salt and white pepper.
Stir well until they are thoroughly heated.
If you prefer thinner (soupy) texture, add some vegetable broth to bring it to preferred consistency.
Serve with fresh baked courton or toasted baguette.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Macadamia Oatmeal Crisps

Inspired by the highly addictive Havreflarn from Ikea Food section, this all butter thin crisp biscuits gear up their goodness yet another notch, with a generous addition of macadamia nuts. It's a good idea to make a multiple dose as they are sure to disappear very quickly!! However make sure to allow the room for each biscuits to spread when you bake them, as they need to be on the thin side and crunchy!

Macadamia Oatmeal Crisps

120g butter (softened at room temperature)
120g brown sugar
120g sugar
1 egg
a few drops of vanilla essence
135g all purpose flour
3g baking soda
a pinch of salt
70g rolled oat flakes
110g whole macadamia nuts, crushed

Preheat the oven to 175°C
Cream together the butter and 2 sugars.
Add the egg and vanilla, mix vigorously until smooth.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix in thoroughly.
Add the oat flakes and the crushed macadamia nuts, mix well to distribute them evenly.
On a lightly greased baking tray, drop small balls of the dough -- space them well and do not over crowd, as a dough ball of about the size of a wallnut will spread into about 8-9cm diametre.
Bake them for 10-12 minutes or until golden, let them cool down to the room temperature.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Risotto al Radicchio

Radicchio is a typical italian vegetable of chicory family, its spicy, tangy taste gets milder as it is cooked with wine, onion and carrot. It makes one of the classic, most loved variation of risotto. I personally like to use the red wine, instead of white to compliment the bright red-purple colour of radicchio, also it seems to bring out the tangier, deeper flavour. You can use the ready made bouillon mix to make the broth, but when it's possible do try with the "real" broth after cooking a roast etc., you will get a risotto with decidedly better flavour and texture!

Risotto al radicchio (Veneto, + northern region in general)

For 2-3 people
-1 cup of carnaroli rice (if you can't find it arborio is fine, but carnaroli is the ideal type for making risotto)
-One big onion, finely chopped*
-One carrot, finely chopped*
(I usually put these two in a food processor)
-1 small radicchio or half of one in larger size (ideally radicchio di treviso) finely shredded
-50g (or more if needed) butter
-1 bayleaf
-100ml red wine
-500-700ml of hot good quality broth
-freshly ground parmigiano (or grana padano)

In a large skillet sautè the onion, carrot and radicchio with butter over middle heat until tender.
Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring thoroughly, until rice becomes semi-transparent.
Add the bayleaf and wine, raise the heat level and bring to boil.
When the wine is almost absorbed, start adding the broth one ladleful at a time, adding another ladleful when the previous batch of broth is well absorbed (but the rice should still remain wet), stirring constantly.
Keep the broth hot by keeping it in a saucepan on a low heat, or microwaving from time to time if necessary.
Repeat the procesure until the rice are cooked "al dente" (firm, not crunchy not mushy)... it should take about somewhere between 20-25minutes more or less.
Serve hot with plenty of parmigiano to sprinkle upon.