Coq au vin July 24, 2009Posted by croissantandbagel in savoury.
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I was reading Gourmet Traveller’s Bastille Day edition and everything in there looked so nice that I actually got my act together and decided to make something. Usually when it comes to magazines I flip through them, look longingly at recipies and then decide we are missing some ingredient or another so I put it off for another day. They then get buried under several editions of ‘The Advertiser’ and the occasional dental reminder before Dad has an OCD episode and throws out everything that isn’t nailed down.
Anyway, my recipe of choice was Coq au vin. It was different to anything I’d made before (I’ve never really made anything casseroleish). I also convinced myself it was healthy, although this is probably debatable. I used a shiraz, although it was perhaps a bit robust because my chicken took on a purple tint, but oh well. It certainly isn’t the most photogenic thing I have ever made but it tasted ok.
I recently bought a blow torch and I figured that if I was going to make a French main, I may as well use the excuse to make creme brulee before my pyromaniac sister vapourised the bananas in the fruit bowl and used up the butane. It was very rich but I was happy with how it turned out, although Dad told me the toffee looked like ‘Bob the Builder’s BBQ’. I guess my blow torch skills need a little work.
Coq au vin (adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
- 5 Maryland chicken cuts (ie the leg and some of the breast attached)
- 20gm butter
- 2 onions
- 1 celery stalk (finely chopped)
- 1 carrot (finely chopped)
- 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 200g bacon (cut into pieces)
- 250g Swiss brown mushrooms
- 750ml red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Several stems of fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 shallots
- 400gm mini Brussels sprouts
- Handful sage leaves
- Preheat oven to 200C
- Fry up chicken with the butter in a fry pan until each side is golden (about 7-10 minutes per side). Place in casserole dish in oven.
- Add vegetables, garlic, onion, shallots and 100g bacon and 50g Swiss mushrooms and fry until golden (about 7 minutes).
- Deglaze pan with red wine, then add to the casserole with stock, bay leaves and thyme.
- Leave casserole in oven until chicken is cooked through (30-40 minutes).
- When chicken is nearly done, boil up water and cook Brussels sprouts (do not make them too soft- just heat them through). In another pan fry up remaining bacon and mushrooms.
- Remove chicken from casserole and keep warm while reducing the liquid to a sauce.
- Cook up polenta in boiling water, adding butter and salt to taste (I kept mine very simple)
- Divide polenta, sprouts, mushrooms and bacon between plates. Place a chicken leg on top of the polenta and drizzle with sauce.
The actual recipe used Porcini spatzele but I used polenta instead for simplicity, and I didn’t have any porcini. I think anything starchy that sucks up flavour could be used. It is a very rich dish, at least compared to the sort of thing I usually eat but I think I’ll play around with these sorts of recipes more before winter finishes.
Joconde attempt 2 July 21, 2009Posted by croissantandbagel in desserts.
Now that exams are over and I have wasted a week of holidays, I thought it was a good time to try joconde again. This attempt was significantly more successful than the first one- I was careful to make sure the biscuit was very thin and I cooked it for a little longer. This meant I had to sacrifice the edges but the middle was easier to work with (last time it was too sticky).
It is very fiddly and took me several hours to do, but I was happy with the result. It was almost mum’s birthday so I decided to make the middle a variation on Black Forest cake. Over the years this has sort of become the traditional birthday cake for our family. It was made up of 2 layers of chocolate cake, brushed with brandy and cherry juice, chopped tinned cherries and two layers of chocolate mousse. We were out of kirsch, but brandy worked quite well.
Pate a cigarette:
- 75gm butter
- 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2 egg whites (room temperature)
- Dash of vanilla
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1/4 cup dutch cocoa (dark)
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Gradually add egg whites and vanilla, scraping sides and beating well in between
- Add flour and cocoa and beat until combined
- With a rubber spatula, spread a thin layer on a silpat mat placed on an oven tray (or other large tray). Use a comb to make patterns.
- Refrigerate until ready to cover with joconde.
- 30gm butter (melted)
- 3 egg whites (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- Preheat the oven to 220C
- Whisk the whites on low speed until they become foamy, then gradually up the speed until they are being beaten on high speed. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the egg whites a glossy and form stiff peaks
- In a separate bowl, beat the almond flour, icing sugar and eggs together until light. Add the flour and beat lightly until combined.
- Gently fold egg white mixture into almond mixture with a rubber spatula. Add melted butter and fold in until just combined.
- Evenly spread a thin layer over the cigarette paste (about 3mm thick).’
- Bake for about 5 minutes in the oven. Keep an eye on it, they bake very quickly. The edges may get crispy, however ensure the middle is properly cooked before taking it out.
- Thin chocolate cake (i used one that was reasonably fluffy, to absorb the brandy)
- Chocolate mousse
- Tinned cherries
- Chocolate ganache
- Cut strips of the joconde and place them in circular molds. Cut to size and press the edges together. Do not cut the strips too short or the mousse escapes and sticks to the mold.
- Cut out circles of chocolate cake for the base using a circle cutter the same size as the hollow inside the joconde. They should be relatively thin (~5mm)
- Brush these with a mixture of the liquor and cherry juice and fit them into the bottom of the mold.
- Place some chopped cherries over the cake and then cover with chocolate mousse.
- Repeat with a second piece of cake and more cherries and chocolate mousse.
- Leave to set in the fridge for several hours.
- Cover the top with a layer of chocolate ganache, ensuring it does not run down the sides.
I personally really like tinned cherries, so I didn’t mind using them in the cake. Alcoholic cherries could also be used, I just prefer a more subtle alcohol taste. As can be seen, it required a lot of components but I was very happy with the result. They were also about the right size, as chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache can really be a bit much in large quantities…
Poached pear tartlets July 14, 2009Posted by croissantandbagel in desserts.
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As we have had so many family visitors over the last few months, full dinners and lunches have significantly increased in number. I never thought I would say this, but I am almost sick of going out to dinner. This time we had a traditional Sunday roast (simple tends to be Grandpa’s style). I left the meat cutting and vegetable peeling to mum and took charge of dessert, as usual.
Pears are sort of the fruit in season at the moment. The ones we buy are pretty crispy (on a side note, I like fruit that keeps its shape when bitten into, rather than dissolving and getting stuck in my teeth- maybe this is why we buy hard pears) so they need to be poached before cooking to give them some flavour. I poached them in sweet wine with orange juice, zest, cinnamon and cloves. At the end I added a squeeze of lemon juice. I left the skin on while I poached them, but i cut them into quarters. They were quite soft and juicy by this point so I put them on paper toweling to dry off before I added them to the tart.
The base was just puff pastry cut into circles- it is a bit lazy but it works brilliantly. I put a thin layer of apricot jam on the pastry and then covered that with almond meal to mop up some of the pear juices. The pears were arranged on top. They browned slightly in the oven but not too badly. There was quite a bit of left over poaching juice, so I reduced that down to make a syrup for serving. It was very sweet but the rest of the table seemed to like it.
These turned out to be a simple (and quite cute) dessert. They are lighter than some of the other desserts I’ve made and cooking with fruit rather than having it plain was a nice change.
Choc-mint cupcakes July 5, 2009Posted by croissantandbagel in cupcakes.
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My little sister has just left for the snow. That requires a day of driving, so i promised her a treat to take with her for the car ride. I figured something with a lot of sugar might keep her awake. I had been meaning to try choc-mint cupcakes for a while because I love the combination. Mum used to buy packets of chocolate covered mint sticks for dinners but soon gave this up as a waste of time up because I would eat most of the packet while she wasn’t looking. My father and I soon discovered that leaving an empty packet would ensure mum never found out until later.
The cupcakes were better than I was expecting. I was trying a new type of cocoa and I think this really made the difference. I also decided to exercise some patience (cake is usually something I make in a hurry) and let the butter and eggs reach room temperature before I started. This really seemed help the texture and made the cake very light.
- 100g cubed butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup self raising flour
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 190C
- Beat butter until soft (if it is at room temperature this only takes a second) and then gradually add sugar. Beat until fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each. Add the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl sift flour, cocoa and salt. Combine them with a whisk.
- Add about a third of the dry ingredients, then the milk. Keep adding small amounts alternatively.
- Fill patty pans about 1/2 full.
The cakes rise quite a bit but they have a flat top. They are cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
- 200g chocolate
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3 mint leaves
- Peppermint essence
- Melt the chocolate and cream over a double boiler
- Add peppermint essence to taste
- Crush the mint leaves in the ganache to give fresh taste.
Kate is quite fussy so i kept the mint taste subtle, but it can be easily made stronger or lighter. I must confess that the fresh mint leaves were an afterthought and i just used a spoon to crush them in the mixture. It may have been better to boil them in the cream. I will have to play around with the method a bit.