Saturday, 23 June 2012

Maple pecan tart

I have been eyeing the recipe for this tart all week with the idea of adding it to the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop.

Yesterday, with my in-laws coming for lunch, I finally had an excuse to make it. Hurrah!

Being a Jamie Oliver adaptation, it’s based on a classic English treacle tart but the addition of grated apples and orange zest make it lighter and more zingy. 

Mr LP and I had to run quality control on it beforehand, just to make sure it met our high standards.

It passed, so we let the family have a few pieces for dessert after lunch.

Then we polished off the rest after dinner. This is exactly why I had to wait until we had visitors to make it.

In my version, I only had a quarter of a loaf of sourdough to crumb so I made up the remaining crumbs using friands I had lying around. Yes, I actually do have this problem a bit. So, in a very Josephine moment, when there is no bread, my advice is to use cake!

Larissa xx

Maple Pecan Tart
(Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s in “Jamie’s Dinners”)

125g cold butter, cubed
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
1 egg
Dash of milk

Tart filling:
55g butter
4 tablespoons golden syrup
250g maple syrup
170g breadcrumbs, half fine, half course (I used half cake crumbs from left over friands)
Zest of one orange
2 grated Granny Smith apples
½ teaspoon ground ginger
100g pecan nuts, halved

To accompany
Vanilla bean ice cream or double cream

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place sifted flour and icing sugar in a food processor.
Add butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Lightly whisk together the egg and milk. Add to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together as dough.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and shape it gently into a thick disk (don’t knead it).
Roll pastry dough out on a lightly floured surface to even 1.5mm thickness.
Line the base of a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin with your pastry and place into the freezer for 30 mins. 
After that time, blind bake your tart using baking paper and baking weights or rice for 15 mins.
Remove from the oven, remove baking paper and weights and allow to cool slightly.

For the filling, melt together the butter, maple syrup and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat. 
In a separate large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, apples, orange zest, ginger and half the pecans. 
Pour in the maple syrup mixture and stir to combine everything.
Pour into your tart tin and scatter the remaining pecans on top.
Put tart back into the oven and bake for 25 mins or until golden. Your kitchen will smell so delicious!
Let the tart cool slightly before removing from the tin onto a serving plate.
Serve with ice cream or double cream.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

I Feel Better Soup

Last night a niggling rawness around the back of my throat and ears that I had been fending off for a week turned into an all-out head cold.

I am grumpy and a bit achy and all I want to do is curl up in bed. But before I do, I want a bowl of goodness. Something clear and steamy and fragrant, packed full of vitamins to help me feel better. I want medicine in a bowl – Luke Nguyen style.

Well, I thought I did until I googled “medicinal soup Luke Nguyen.” Up came what read like a recipe for a spell. Do you have any of these things in your pantry? Dried ginseng, dried lotus seeds, dried goji berries, dried black prune, dried lilly petals, dried longon, raisins, dried white vegetable root, salt. If you do, you should totally try Luke’s medicinal broth recipe with pork spare ribs.

I only had the salt and the raisins and a head that felt like cement, so I wasn’t inclined to go outside the house let alone go hunting for this list.

I looked in the fridge a few hours ago and thought I had enough bits and bobs in there to make up my own, loosely based on a simple chicken pho.

Now, with an empty bowl in front of me, I can declare it a success on the mere basis that I can smell and taste again (even if only temporarily) and my head feels clearer, care of the chilli, ginger, Vietnamese mint and basil combo.

I also used the base broth and the chicken, corn and noodles to make a milder flavoured version for Master N, who I caught this awful cold from. He happily downed it, slurping up the noodles like he does with “s’getti.”

Below is the recipe for my version of medicine in a bowl. Now I’m off to bed.

What is your best feel-good therapy when you’re under the weather?

Larissa xx

"I Feel Better" Soup

Serves 4

1 small chicken
4 French shallots or 2 brown onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 bunch coriander - stems bruised and roughly chopped. Set leaves aside for serving.
1 cardamom pod, bashed with the side of a knife to bruise
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
3.5L cold water appx.

To serve:
500g chicken breast
1 packet flat dried rice noodles
100g Swiss Brown mushrooms
4 green shallots (spring onions), sliced
4 birdseye red chillis, seeds removed and sliced finely
½ bunch Vietnamese mint leaves
½ bunch Vietnamese basil leaves
1 lime, cut into quarters

Begin by dry frying the star anise, cinnamon and cardamom pod in a heavy based large saucepan on a high heat until fragrant (about 30 secs).
Turn off heat and add the whole chicken and the rest of the ingredients for the broth except the fish sauce and the sugar. Make sure that the water covers the chicken.
Bring the broth to the boil, skim any impurities off the top and then simmer for at least 2 hours.
Strain the broth with a fine sieve into a large saucepan. Discard the chicken and vegies. 
Add the fish sauce and sugar to the clear broth and then taste. Add more of each if needed.

Bring the strained broth to a gentle simmer, add the chicken breast pieces and poach for 8-10mins or until cooked through and succulent. About half way through this, add the mushrooms. 
While the chicken is poaching, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the rice noodles, boiling rapidly for 6-8 mins until soft. 
When ready, drain the noodles and place into individual serving bowls.
Remove the chicken breast from the broth and slice on a diagonal angle (it looks nicer in the bowl).
Ladle the broth and mushrooms over the top of the noodles in each bowl and top with slices of poached chicken.
Serve the accompaniments of chilli, green shallots, lime and herbs (including your coriander leaves) in small bowls at the table and allow people to add as much or as little as they want. 
A generous amount of chilli and herbs will instantly wake up your senses and have you thinking more clearly by the end of the bowl. I guarantee it!

If all else fails, there's always my dessert back-up plan of Green Tea and Maltesers ;)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Snap It - Every day

Every day, I ...

Bake for cafes

Sometimes with help

I deliver the products here

and here

and a couple of others. I usually stop at one of them with my little helper for this

He also helps me around the house

And then we go for a walk to the park

Every day, I wear these

And spend a bit too much time on this!

Every day, I feel blessed.

Larissa xx

What does every day look like for you? 

Play along with Snap It at Sarah's blog, Faith Hope & a Whole Lotta Love.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Banana Bread - The One

Winter arrived in earnest this week and as I huddled indoors with Master N, it seemed a perfect time to turn the two over-ripe bananas in my fruit bowl into banana bread. Banana and coconut bread actually. They serve it at my local, Laneway, and I wanted to have a go at recreating it using my go-to banana bread recipe.

It took me a while to arrive at what I consider to be the best banana bread recipe in the world. It’s Bill Granger’s. Well, it was before I went a-tweaking to try to meet the near impossible criteria set by my cafes.  

Turns out baking “cafe standard” banana bread is quite a feat. I needed a really long, really wide and high loaf that was nice and moist (and not too dense) and that would last for up to a week. Oh, and it still had to have that homemade buttery taste but not too much of a homemade rustic look. Not too much to ask, surely?

I tried various recipes, tin sizes and played around with quantities before finding The One. I top mine with Demerara sugar and chopped pecans. It’s soft and fluffy but not crumbly and the coconut adds another layer of flavour that is yum yum yum.

It's wonderful on it's own, especially on the day of baking, but on subsequent days I like to serve it lightly toasted with a smear of ricotta and a drizzle of maple syrup. Has anyone else discovered this MAP vanilla bean maple syrup? Someone should lock mine away from me, fast.

Here, I share the love that is Bill’s banana bread recipe. It’s perfect for a spot of long weekend baking, or keep it up your sleeve for a rainy day like I did :)

Have you ever gone on a quest to find The One recipe?

Larissa xx

Banana and Coconut Loaf
(Recipe based on Bill Granger’s Melt & Mix Banana Bread recipe, published in the SMH’s Good Living liftout in June 2007)
Makes two loaves - one for now and one to freeze for later. Hurrah!

2 tbsp Demerara (or raw) sugar
30g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
375ml sour cream
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
125g butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup caster sugar
2 ripe large bananas, mashed
1 ¾ cups self raising flour, sifted.
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup coconut

Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease and line two 10 x 18cm loaf tins with baking paper.
Mix Demerara sugar and pecans in a small bowl and set aside.
Mix sour cream and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl together and set aside for 5 mins.
Combine sifted flour, cinnamon and coconut in a large bowl.
Melt butter and whisk into the sour cream mixture, followed by eggs and sugar. 
Add the sour cream mixture to the flour, cinnamon and coconut and stir until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix as you don’t want rubbery banana bread.
Fold in the mashed bananas, stirring until just combined.
Spoon the batter into prepared tins and sprinkle sugar and pecans on top.
Bake for appx 60 - 90 mins (or until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean).
Cool for at least 20 mins in tins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
I can never wait until then and usually slice when it’s warm and lovely!
Serve plain or with butter, or my favourite, with ricotta and honey or maple syrup.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Traditional Custard Tarts

We are divided in this household. There are the milk drinkers and then there’s Mr LP, my texturally sensitive husband who shudders at anything smooth and creamy unless it’s chocolate flavoured or frozen*

This rules out yoghurt, cream, plain milk, any form of panna cotta or crème brulee, and also custard. But he will happily eat a tub of Maggie Beer’s burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel ice cream!

Being a girl who eats pretty much anything, it took me a while to understand his kooky tastebuds. He also doesn’t do bananas. I know! So weird.

Master N and I love bananas and all forms of dairy so when Mr LP was away for a few days last week at a conference, I made us a batch of custard tarts. Recipe below.

With my friand making schedule, I usually have an abundance of egg yolks around and this recipe makes good use of them.

I like the Portugese variety, but I still don’t think you can beat a traditional custard tart with short, biscuity pastry, soft creamy custard and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

It made my kitchen smell like a retro cake shop. Like the one Mum used to visit on Saturday mornings to buy us custard tarts for morning tea after netball.

These little tarts are two or three bites worth, made in a 12-hole muffin tin. Feel free to use larger pie tins if you are after a more generous tart.

My one tip is to fill the custard to the brim of each tart shell as it will deflate a little when resting out of the oven.

Enjoy! They are perfect for morning or afternoon tea on these early winter days.

Is anyone in your circle (or you) squeamish about certain foods?

Larissa x

*But not yoghurt. Never yoghurt.

Traditional Custard Tarts
(Recipe is a combination of Jamie Oliver’s sweet shortcrust pastry in “Jamie At Home” and Luke Mangan’s custard in “At Home and In the Mood” with my own additions and measurement tweaks).
Makes at least a dozen

For tart shells:
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg
Dash of milk

For custard:
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
150ml milk
100ml cream
½ tsp quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
60g caster sugar
Ground nutmeg to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place sifted flour and icing sugar in a food processor.
Add butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Lightly whisk together the egg and milk. Add to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together as dough.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and shape it gently into a thick disk (do not knead it).
Cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins. 
Roll pastry dough out on a lightly floured surface to even 1.5mm thickness. Use a medium-sized fluted cookie cutter to cut out tart rounds and place into a 12-hole muffin tin.
Blind bake the tart shells using baking paper and baking weights or rice for 10 mins.
While the tarts are in the oven, prepare the custard by lightly beating eggs and egg yolks together, taking care not to produce any air bubbles. Stir in cream, milk, sugar and vanilla.
Leave the mixture to rest so there are no air bubbles.
When the tart shells have been blind baked, remove the baking paper and weights.
Reduce oven temperature to 160C.
Give the custard a gentle stir and then slowly pour it into tart shells, filling to the rim. Sprinkle each with a little nutmeg before very carefully returning to the oven for 20 minutes or until custard is just set.
Allow to cool before removing from trays.  
Eat one warm. You won’t regret it!