Monday, 24 March 2014

Profiteroles


The amount of profiteroles I have eaten in the past week is really not good. 

For a couple of days there I thought I was going to have to go to Mr LP's retro party as Mama Cass instead of a Charlie's Angel. There is an urban myth going around that Mama Cass choked on a ham sandwich after a concert in London in 1974, our retro theme year. If I owned a kaftan, it was a definite option.

In the end, Farrah Fawcett wasn't happening either. Wigs are horrid things, all hot and itchy. So my flicky blonde Farrah ebay hair spent the night looking like road kill on the floor instead of on my head. Also, I am short and quite cuddly, this week more so than usual thanks to a thousand profiteroles, so what was I even thinking?

At least the food was on theme! We did, as promised, serve devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon then grilled), vol-au-vents and cocktail onions with annoying toothpicks. There was also cob dip, stuffed potato skins and mini shepherd's pies. I had plans for ham steaks with pineapple but I couldn't find them anywhere. Go figure! Thanks to Mum, Jan, SJ and the amazing Alison for your help in taking everyone for a fun foodie trip down memory lane.




On the dessert table: a superb classic cheesecake made by Mum from her hardback copy of the original Women's Weekly cookbook, my party rocky road, those profiteroles sprinkled with gold dust, and a very tall and melty caramel ice cream birthday cake with caramel sauce, inspired by the one they used to serve at The Paragon cafe in Katoomba. Perfected, the cake might be one for a future post, but today is all about those gold dust rolls.

Did you know that profiteroles are surprisingly easy to make? I wish I didn't. And they freeze very well. So you could, in theory, make them up to three weeks ahead of your planned event and then fill and coat them on the day, or even the day before.

I used this Australian Gourmet Traveller unsweetened choux pastry recipe to make the profiteroles and then filled them with vanilla chantilly cream and dipped them in melted chocolate. The recipe made about two dozen. Keep them in the fridge until you're ready to serve, then pile them on a big plate with berries or, if you are a gold dust woman like me, gently sift a teaspoon of edible gold dust over the top.



Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lemon Coconut Slice


Is anyone else a little fed up with the I Quit Sugar brigade? Well never mind me, but the people who frequent my north shore and city cafes surely are. Double orders of cakes over the past couple of weeks, which is outstanding, but I am in the middle of planning a large party and my work load is interfering. I realise this is a first world problem, but it always seems that life chooses the most inconvenient times to go berserk. 

So what do I do? Add a new product.

These lemon bars may or may not fit into my retro series, but I made them for Bacino because they needed something lemony and a bit more robust and homely than a poshly piped meringue tart. There is nothing worse than seeing my pretty little tarts smudged and withered after a couple of days in the display. So I called time and offered these lemon bars instead. And, double orders! So far, so good. Shhh, just don't tell anyone they're about a thousand times easier to make.



Lemon Coconut Slice
(Makes 12)

Base:
80g butter, melted
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup caster sugar

Topping:
2 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper, making sure the paper overhangs the tin slightly on each side.
Combine dry ingredients for the base in a bowl and mix in the melted butter.
Press mixture into prepared tin and smooth with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 10 mins or until light golden. Set aside on a wire rack while you prepare topping.
Reduce oven to 170C.
For topping, whisk together the eggs, sugar and zest until pale and thick.
Whisk in juice, then flour.
Pour topping onto the base and carefully place back in the oven for 12-15 mins or until light golden brown and the centre doesn't wobble.
Cool completely. Loosen the slice with a knife if needed and then gently lift it from the tin by holding the edges of the overhanging paper.
Cut into straight slices using a knife dipped into hot water and dried with paper towel.
Dust with icing sugar before serving. Slice will keep in the fridge for up to a week.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Pineapple and Raspberry Upside-Down Cake


I have been dabbling in a bit of retro baking in preparation for Mr LP's 40th birthday bash. It's a 1974 theme, the year of his vintage, so it's only fitting that the food be just as hip.

Of course there will be mini everything and loads of annoying toothpicks and paper umbrellas. There will be Vol au Vents (a Mr LP favourite), prawn cocktails and devils on horseback. Can you tell I've been having fun? I mean, when else is it acceptable to serve up prunes at a party? Hot prunes at that.


The best part has been researching desserts. They had some great names. Cherries Jubilee, Bombe Alaska, Bananas Foster. Do any of these ring a bell from your childhood? The 70's are also responsible for chocolate fondue. So many options!

Nigella Lawson has a great retro section in her Nigella Express book and in there is this Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. She uses glacé cherries but I loathe them, so I have replaced them with raspberries.



I need to practice a few desserts in the coming weeks so maybe this will be part one of a retro series. 

Groovy.


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
(Recipe from Nigella Express)

2 x 15ml tablespoons sugar
6 slices pineapple rings
Plus 3 x 15ml tablespoons of the juice
11 glacé cherries (or appx 16 frozen raspberries if using my adaptation)
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 200C. 
Heavily grease with butter a 23cm cake tin, (neither loose bottomed nor springform).
Sprinkle the buttered base of the tin with the two tablespoons of sugar and then arrange the pineapple slices on top in a circular pattern.
Fill each pineapple ring with a glacé cherry (or raspberry) and then dot one in each of the spaces in between.
Place the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, butter, caster sugar and eggs into a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth batter. Pour in the three tablespoons of pineapple juice to thin it a little.
Pour this mixture carefully over the pineapple rings. It will only just cover it so spread it out gently.
Bake for 30 minutes* then ease a spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and turn it upside down in one movement. 
Serve hot from the oven with ice cream or thick cream.
* Resist the urge to get it out early, as I did; you risk the pineapple not being caramelised and sticking to the tin.