Thursday, 14 September 2017

Brownies

I have fond memories of walking past W H Smith circa 2010-2011 at Birmingham New Street when the train station was undergoing refurbishment. Back then, I was studying my Masters degree and would pass time before train transfers to flick through Readers Digest baking book for recipe inspiration. The brownies featured in this book are probably the easiest baking recipe in this book, however when you want a quick chocolate fix, these brownies serve the purpose; they are incredibly easy to make. What's better is these brownies taste amazing, rich and moerish. I added some white chocolate (which is of course optional)  in the brownie mixture which gave it a further chocolate hit. 



Ingredients 
125g buter at room temperature
200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
230g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
60g plain flour
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
100g walnuts

Method
Use a 20cm (8in) square tin. Grease and line with baking parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F Gas Mark 4) . Melt the butter and 115g go the chocolate in a bowl and set over gently simmering water; remove from heat and leave to cool. 
Whisk the eggs in a bowl with electric beaters. Gradually add the sugar; beat continuously until the mixture is thick and foamy and leaves a ribbon - like trail when the beaters are lifted. Add the vanilla essence and the chocolate mixture and blend in thoroughly. Sift flour and cocoa powder over the mixture and scatter in walnuts and the rest of the chocolate. Fold the mixture together with a large spoon. 
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is a rich brown. place a piece of foil over the top if it looks to be in danger of burning. Cool brownies briefly in the tin cut into squares. Cool brownies completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight conner; they will keep 3-4 days. 
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Friday, 18 January 2013

Onion tart

As much as I love making a quiche lorraine, there is a need to branch out from a beloved dish and try something new. The classic onion tart has appealed to me, and I have made a very similar dish a cheese and onion pie (recipe from the lovely Simon Hopkinson). Now this recipe uses 2 kilos of onions and which struck me was will there be a soggy bottom (one of the favourite sayings from the Great British Bake Off)? Not with this recipe as it uses a very unusual method of pastry; most pastry uses flour, butter and water or egg to bind. Not this one, the base for the onion tart uses flour, milk and yeast which is then molded into a a dough, left to rise for an hour, then kneaded out again, left to rise, rolled out then blind baked with the par cooked onions and bacon. This obviously isn't a dish to make if you are in a hurry but if you are having a lazy weekend and fancy a laid back supper this onion tart served with salad and garlic bread is the dish for you.
Here is how my onion tart turned out:
Onion tart

A slice of onion tart:
Slices of onion tart
No soggy bottom:

Ingredients for onion tart
250g plain flour
7g dried yeast
125ml lukewarm milk
125g butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 kilos red onions, thinly sliced
2 eggs
55g bacon finely diced
1/4 teaspoon caraway seed
3 egg yolks
185ml cream

Method
1) Use a 28 cm spring form tin or pastry flan; grease the tin. Place flour in the bowl and make a well in the centre. Sprinkle the yeast onto the milk. Pour into the well in the centre. Sprinkle yeast onto the milk. Pour into well; sprinkle flour from the sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes.
2) Add 1 tbsp butter and the salt to yeast mixture. Knead into a dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Knead vigorously for 10 minutes; leave to rise for a further 30 minutes.
3) Preheat the oven to 220C (gas mark 7). In a frying pan, heat remaining butter and fry the onion until transparent. Whisk the eggs in a bowl; stir in the onions.
4) Roll out dough to lint the tin. Pour in the mixture; sprinkle with the bacon and caraway seeds. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180C. Combine the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and the cream. Pour mixture over tart; bake a further for 50 minutes.
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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Pizza alla Napolentana

Naples in south Italy is renowned for it's fresh seafood and seafood based dishes. This pizza topping is inspired by that region and a classic, the ingredients includes olives, thinly sliced anchovies, basil  and mozzarella. Although the flavours worked, I think what really shone through was the pizza base; I dare to say it was the most authentic pizza doughs I've ever made. Making the pizza is perhaps best made over the weekend as it requires a bit of time, to allow the dough to rise, but I definitely think it's worth the effort, for a classic and authentic pizza.
Here is how my Pizza alla Napolentana turned out:
Pizza alla Napolentana
The recipe is taken from Readers Digest Baking Bible book.

Ingredients
For the Dough
2 teaspoons dried yeast
200ml lukewarm water
340g strong white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the topping
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
800g tinned chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
150g mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
8 anchovy fillets
8 green or black olives

Method
1) Use a 30cm (12inch) round pizza tray. Grease the tray. Sprinkle yeast onto water to dissolve. Place flour in a bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre; add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Mix with a round-bladed knife to make a soft dough; if needed, add a little more water.
2) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured  work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours until doubled in size.
3) For the topping, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the sugar; season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil. Cook, uncovered, until reduced by about half to a thick sauce, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
4) Turn out the rise dough onto the lightly floured work surface and knock it down, then knead very lightly. Roll or press out to a round to fit the pizza tray; place on tray.
5) Stir basil into the sauce. Spread sauce over pizza base to within 1cm of the edge. Arrange the mozzarella, anchovies and olives over the top; leave pizza in a warm place for about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 220C (425F, gas mark 7)
6) Bake pizza for 20-25 minutes or until the crust has risen and is golden and the cheese has melted. Cut into wedges and serve warm.
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