Wednesday, 29 April 2009

What The ......

I was at Melbourne Markets yesterday & came across these....

They were the size of an apple, a wonderful vibrant shade of red and had me intrigued.
What were they??

Would you believe they are plums!!
Unfortunately the stall assistant wasn't able to tell me what variety or what the were like but if they are there tomorrow I'll be getting some!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Hot Cross Buns

Have you noticed that when you go grocery shopping at this time of year all the stores are full of different varieties of Hot Cross Buns? I've seen so may types out there: traditional, plain, wholemeal, choc-chip, chocolate, chocolate & choc-chip, mocca (coffee & choc-chip), blueberry (??) and would you believe I even saw a savoury one! I guess some bakers imagination s run riot at times.
Anyway, with all these "interesting" varieties out there I thought I'd make my own Hot Cross Buns. I based this recipe from British Food by Mark Hix. This is a half portion that makes 10 buns.

325g strong plain flour (I used tipo 00)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground mixed all spice
1/4 tsp fresh ground mace
1/4 tsp salt
33g caster sugar
45 g butter
1/2 sachet dry yeast
100ml warm milk
100ml boiling water
1/2 large beaten egg
50g raisins or sultanas
33 g mixed candied peel
To finish
The other 1/2 of the beaten egg
20g plain flour
Few drops of almond extract (I used bitter Almond)
33g caster sugar

Sift flour, spices & salt into a mixing bowl.
Add sugar & rub in the butter.
Add the dried yeast.
Add the milk, water & egg & mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface & knead for about 10 minutes.
(At this stage I let my dough rise in a covered bowl till it had doubled in size - but the recipe doesn't state to do this, so you can skip it).
Add the dried fruit and knead in.
Roll into a long sausage shape & cut into 10 discs and shape into buns (I couldn't count - I made 9).
Place on to a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper, at least 2cm apart.
Cover with cling wrap & leave them to prove for about 30min.
Preheat the oven to 230c.
After they have risen, remove the cling wrap & buns with the remaining beaten egg.
Mix the flour, almond extract & a little water to form a thick paste.
Pipe this paste over the buns to form the x.
Bake in the oven for about 15min then transfer to a wire rack.
While they are still warm, dissolve the caster sugar in a little water & glaze the buns and leave to cool.
I like to eat them while they are still warm, dripping with melted butter

Yes my buns did end up looking almost identical to the picture in the book.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Paper Chef #39

How time flies..
Its that time of month where my creative idea's start running wild & my part just starts running, scared, away from what ever concoction I dream up. Ah yes, the joys of The
Paper Chef.
This month's ingredients were selected by Adrienne from
Hungry Bruno. Adrienne's friends randomly selected three ingredients: Blackberries, Artichokes, Bulgar. The fourth ingredient was her own selection: Salmon. This was going to be fun!
First up, its the wrong season for artichokes & blackberries have just finished. So I had to rely on tinned artichokes & frozen blackberries. Now, what to create :)
I was toying with the idea of a bulgar salad with the artichoke petals, flaked salmon & blackberries, but was worried that the blackberries would turn it into a black mess... So I tossed around a few different ideas & did a bit of googling and decided on pan fried salmon with a blackberry sauce. I was tempted to use the bulgar as a coating on the salmon before frying, but decided against it, maybe next time. The bulgar you can treat like Couscous and is one of the main ingredients in Tabbouleh. My partner Paul decided to pilfer some of the bulgar & artichokes and make a salad (in case my concoction was inedible?). I decided to use the bulgar to coat the artichokes & roast them. Did it work?
Sort of...
The salmon is very hard to get wrong, the blackberry sauce was a complete success & I'll be making it again (Paul says it will be perfect to accompany pork), the texture of the cooked & roasted bulgar was good, but even after repeated rinsing the tinned artichokes tasted of vinegar. So while the ingredients may not have all been in the one dish, they did all work well together.

for the blackberry sauce:
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup red wine (I used Shiraz Cabernet)
1/2 tbls finely chopped fresh ginger
5-10cm stalk of bruised lemongrass
2 tbls vincotto
2-3 tbls sugar
Pinch salt
pinch ground black pepper

Salmon fillets
seasoned flour
400g tin artichokes, thoroughly rinsed
1 cup prepared bulgar
20g butter
Olive oil
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1/2 finely chopped onion

For the blackberry sauce:
Place the blackberries, wine, ginger, lemongrass & 1 tbls of the sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat & simmer until its reduced by about half
Remove the lemongrass stalk and pass the remaining contents through a mouli or fine sieve to remove the blackberry seeds.
return to the heat & balance the sourness of the wine with some sugar
Season to taste.

Halve the tinned artichokes & rinse thoroughly.
in a saucepan, melt the butter and a dash of olive oil. and soften the onion & garlic.
When softened add the bulgar and season to taste.
Add the artichokes and toss to thoroughly coat the artichokes.
Place the artichokes into a greased oven proof dish & spoon the blugar mixture over them
Place into a pre-heated oven (200c) & cook until the bulgar starts browning & crisping up.

Rinse & pat dry the Salmon fillets
Coat in the seasoned flour
Quickly shallow fry on both sides
remove & drain on paper towel.
Serve immediately with the blackberry sauce.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Look Up

You don't know what you will see above the streets of Melbourne...