July 31, 2012

Chorizo and Ricotta Tarts


When I'm blogging I really like to use natural sun light as my light source for photographing. The difficulty with living in Ireland is that you are constantly working against big dark ominous rain clouds. Its like working against a big ticking time bomb, sometimes it can get pretty stressful.

Today was one of those said days. The blogging day began great: with sunlight... BUT, of course as these tarts were baking, the clouds moved over my house and blocked every ray of sunshine! Typical. 

How and ever, these tarts got baked, photographed and...eaten. 


These tarts were a fluke. (Sshh, they were well thought out and tested over time!). 

The weather was so lovely earlier on today, the family decided we wanted something light for dinner. I opened the fridge, no exaggeration, all we had was chorizo, puff pastry, ricotta, parmesan, tomatoes and thyme... give or take a few lost souls knocking about the bottom of the fridge. 

These are a perfect mid-week dinner solution. Super simple to make and packed with flavour. 

Luckily I had brought home some red onion marmalade from work during the week. I would suggest you get your hands on some, especially for this dish.   Match.Made.In.Heaven. 

Enjoy,

Holly x


Cherry tomatoes, fresh thyme, Spanish Chorizo, parmesan and ricotta cheese make up the tart fillings.


Cut and score the puff pastry into 5'x2' rectangles.


Top with the ricotta cheese tart filling.

Cut the cherry tomatoes into threes and arrange on top.


Brush the edges with some sundried tomato oil and bake at 200°C for 15-25 minutes.

Recipe, makes 10 tarts

300g Spanish Chorizo
250g Ricotta Cheese
10 Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Thyme
50g Parmesan, grated
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper  
275g Puff Pastry-1 Sheet
Sundried Tomato Oil/Olive Oil

To Serve:
Onion Marmalade
Salad Leaves

Cut the Chorizo into quarter inch dice.
Roughly chop 1/2 tablespoon of thyme.
In a bowl  mix together the Chorizo, ricotta cheese, thyme, freshly cracked black pepper and parmesan cheese. 
Set aside.
Unroll the sheet of puff pastry.
Cut in half lengthways and each length into 5 pieces-5inches by 2 inches.
Take a knife and make a 1cm incision all the way around the pastry-see picture.
Place a teaspoon and a half of the Chorizo ricotta mixture on top of the puff pastry-keeping the mix inside the incisions.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in three and arrange on top.
Place in the fridge for 5 minutes. This give the pastry time to chill, so it'll puff beautifully.
Preheat oven to 200°C and brush the edges of the puff pastry with some sundried tomato oil.
Bake for 15-25minutes or until puffed and golden.
Serve with some salad and onion marmalade.


July 27, 2012

Quinoa Salad {Gluten Free}


Quinoa. KEEN~WAH. Not quinn-oh-a as it is mistakenly pronounced. Say it with me : KEEN-WAH, KEEEN-WAAAH, KEEN-WAH. If you've been pronouncing it wrong, betcha the word feels weird in your mouth. I know it did for me. I learned the proper pronunciation of the word when I was living in New York last summer. The Head Chef in the restaurant I worked corrected me one day-politely of course!

All you need to know-is that you need quinoa in your life. Simple as. It is so powerful. It is one of these new popular whole food products. It is a major source of protein and calcium for vegans, vegetarians and those who are lactose intolerant. Do you feel better and healthier even just reading about it?



I can only describe quinoa as the hotter, healthier, smarter, sexier, buffer, more eligible and elusive best friend of cous-cous. So dreamy. The good thing is you can get your hands on this sexier friend very easily-in the dried food section of your supermarket.

This salad really packs a punch. You should get quite excited about it. The powerful quinoa mixed with crunchy vegetables and the little hit of citrus and spice from the chili and lemon is totes amaze.

I take mine with a little dash of Tabasco because I'm ballsy like that! Get into it!

Enjoy,

Holly, x





Quinoa is roundish and flattish in shape.


 Flavor busting ingredients for this salad: red onion, red chili, lemon juice, chickpeas, sweetcorn, scallions, tomatoes, coriander and extra virgin olive oil.


 Some light dicing and slicing while the quinoa is simmering. 


Once the quinoa is cooked, place into a bowl.

Do you see what has happened as it cooks? It bursts open, expands and flattens out.


Add the red onion, red chili, lemon juice, chickpeas, sweetcorn, scallions, tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil.

Taste and check for salt and pepper. Once you are happy, sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander. 

Recipe for Quinoa, enough for 4-6 people

300g Quinoa
1500ml Water

Bring water to the boil.
Rinse quinoa.
Add quinoa to the boiling water.
Bring back to the boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir occasionally.
After 20 minutes all water may be absorbed-if not strain.
Place in a bowl and mix in ingredients below.
Add half the lemon juice, taste and check for seasoning.
Add salt/pepper and more lemon juice if required.
Lastly, stir in some freshly chopped coriander.

Guidelines for things to add to this quinoa salad-what I used!

1 Can 400g Chickpeas
1 Can 400g Sweetcorn
1 Red Chilli, finely diced
1 Red Onion, diced
1 Lemon, juice
Tomatoes, diced
Scallions, sliced
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Coriander, chopped


July 22, 2012

Pecan and Hazelnut Streusel Bundt


I bought a bundt cake tin about two years and haven't used it once. Until today that is. Obviously it was a spur of the moment thing. 

I remember the first time I found out what a bundt cake was. It was after watching the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the story of how a Greek girl falls in love with an American boy. There is a scene, where her overtly proud Greek parents meet his conservative American parents at a party at their home. The American mother hands over a gift of a bundt cake to the Greek mother as a thank you for inviting them into her home. It is one of the funniest scenes in a movie I have ever seen! The Greek mother confusingly excepts the gift, turns her back to return to the house and says to her friend in a thick Greek accent: 'there's a hole in this cake'. Youtube it, it's hilarious!


I've often wondered why there is a hole in a bundt cake. No, it is not for putting a vase of flowers in - seriously watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding! 

Simply, it appears there is a hole in the middle of the cake to enable it to cook evenly as the cake is so high! Ah, I thought it was going to be something like that the hole in the middle signifies our empty stomach and our hunger for delicious cakes! 

It's official, bundt cakes are my new thing. It's happening, I'm going on a bundt overload! The nutty streusel centre in this bundt cake is surrounded by a pillow of moist vanilla scented cake. It's  nuts (pun intended!). 

I would imagine, but don't quote me on this, that you could half this recipe and bake it in a loaf tin. Try it out if you don't have a bundt tin, just make sure to line it with parchment! 

Get on the bundt bandwagon you won't regret it! 

Enjoy,

Holly x

 


First make the cinnamony, nutty, sugary streusel mixture. With your fingers crumble everything together. Place in the fridge. 


Next make the cake batter. Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the flour, baking soda, baking powder and yoghurt. 


Lightly oil a bundt tin...


...spoon half of the cake batter into the bundt tin, make a well in the centre and fill with 3/4 of the streusel mixture.


Cover with the remaining cake batter and finish by sprinkling the remaining streusel mixture on top. 

Bake for 1 hour at 180°C. 


Once baked, allow to cool for 45 minutes before turning out onto a cake plate. Allow to cool completely before you drizzle the glaze over.

Looks so naked...not for long!


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
Makes 1 bundt.

Streusel Mixture

225g Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
100g Granulated Sugar
75 Plain Flour
100g Salted Butter
100g Pecan, roughly chopped
50g Whole Hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Crumble everything together with fingertips until the butter is the size of large peas.
Place in fridge until ready to use. 

Cake Batter

375g Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
150g Salted Butter
200g Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs
2 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
200g Greek Yoghurt

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time with the vanilla and beat well.
Add 1/3 of the flour and 1/2 of the yoghurt and beat until just combined. 
Beat in the the second third of flour and the remaining yoghurt.
Beat in the remaining flour.
Give the cake batter a final mix with a spatula to make sure it is well combined.

Spoon half of the cake batter into a greased bundt tin.
Make a well in the centre and fill with 3/4 of the streusel mixture.
Spoon over the remaining cake batter, smooth our with a spatula.
Sprinkle with the remaining streusel mixture.
Bake for 1 hour at 180°C.
Remove allow to cool for 45 minutes before turning out onto a cake plate.
Allow to cool completely before drizzling over the glaze. 

Glaze
250g Icing Sugar, sieved
50ml  Milk

Whisk together with 3/4 of the milk.
Add more until you reach the right consistency. Dropping consistency, you don't want this glaze too solid or too lose.





July 20, 2012

Sage, Spinach and Pork Cannelloni



If you go searching online for a cannelloni recipe all you're going to find is the exact same recipe over and over and over. A combination of spinach, chicken and ricotta. 

No joke. It seems to be the only variety of cannelloni going. Naturally I wanted to grace you with something different. So thoughtful!

There is so much more to cannelloni than what the internet is leading you to believe. Sly. Yo' people, share yo' cannelloni recipes.  




To make cannelloni there are several elements for the dish that are a must. Cannelloni tubes (duh),  a tomato sauce, a filling of some kind for the cannelloni, a white sauce and cheese. Once you have these base elements you are good to go! 


I decided to make a minced pork filling with sage. This was a very good choice, in my opinion.  Pork and sage- a classic combination just like lamb and rosemary. I must admit that this is one of the nicest pasta dishes I have eaten in a long time. Usually, cannelloni is topped with a béchamel sauce before being baked. I thought that for the summer a béchamel sauce was too thick. So, I ditched it and used a fresh and light mix of ricotta, cremé fraiche and parmesan. 

My Mother, who doesn't really like pasta or Italian food, said it was the nicest pasta dish she'd ever eaten. Mam's pleased, good sign, it has passed the test, you should definitely make it! 

It is summery, full of flavour and a great dish to put in the middle of the table and serve up to family!

Enjoy, 

Holly x



Cannelloni filling ingredients: onion, garlic, sage, spinach and minced pork.


Dice the onion, garlic and chop the sage. 

Once you chop the sage its aroma is released and it smells amazing!


Gently sauté the onion in butter, oil, salt and pepper for 5 minutes until... 


...translucent. Then add garlic and sage and sauté for 1 minute. 

DON'T burn the garlic!


Add the minced pork and cook for 5-10 minutes until lovely and brown.


Add 1 heaped tablespoon of breadcrumbs and 1 heaped tablespoon of ricotta to the browned pork.

This adds another flavour dimension and helps the filling bind together.


Spread out onto a baking sheet and allow to cool.

While its cooling get on with your tomato sauce and spinach. 


Blanch the spinach by sitting the leaves in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds...


...remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of iced water.


Place the blanched spinach in the centre of a clean tea towel...


..ring out until all the moisture is gone.




Drape the spinach in and around the cooling mixture.


'White Sauce' ingredients: ricotta, cremé fraiche, grated parmesan, salt and pepper.


Combine all ingredients together.

Taste and check for seasoning.


Once the filling is cooled pipe or push the pork filling in the cannelloni shells.

This is a lot easier than it looks. Cut the opening of the piping bag roughly 1 cm smaller than the diameter of the cannelloni shell, so that the piping bag can fit inside the shell. Place the piping bag inside the shell, half way, pipe the mixture in pulling out as you pipe. Remove pipping bag, turn the cannelloni shell around and do the same thing at the other end. 

Equally you can push the filling in with your fingers!


To assemble, pour 3/4 of the tomato sauce into a dish, lay your filled cannelloni on top and pour over the rest of your sauce.

Spread the white sauce on top and tear over the mozzarella. 

Bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes!


Recipe, Serve 6 Generously


Filling
1 Large Onion
4 Garlic Cloves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage
500g Minced Pork
Tablespoon Ricotta
1 Tablespoon Breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Knob of Butter
15-18 Cannelloni Tubes
125g Spinach

Dice onion the onion into a medium dice.
Dice the garlic into a fine dice.
Roughly chop the sage.
In a sauce pan heat the olive oil and melt the butter until it is foaming.
Add onion and slowly sweat until translucent-about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sage-cook for 1 minute, making sure not to burn garlic.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add minced pork and cook until brown all over-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once cooked, stir in breadcrumbs and ricotta.
Check for seasoning.
Spread out filling onto a baking sheet to allow to cool while you blanch the spinach.


Tomato Sauce
Follow this link for the recipe. Leave out the peppers and use only one tin of tomatoes.
or
1 Jar Shop Bought Tomato Sauce


White Sauce
4 Heaped Tablespoons Creme Fraiche
4 Tablespoons Ricotta
50g Grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper
150g Mozzarella, for the top


Mix all ingredients together.


July 16, 2012

Individual Steamed Steak Pies with Suet Pastry {Video Tutorial}

Lights, camera, action -________________- CUT!! 

Looks like making this video tutorial is going to be harder than I expected! Why can't I talk? Where are my words gone? Why can't I form a sentence?

Maybe I won't make it. I can stop now before I've even begun, no one has seen me. It'll be like I never tried.  No, I've got to do it - I've promised my public!! 



I'm glad I got myself together and made this video for you! It definitely was a challenge.  Trying to look straight at the camera lens and not blink like crazy is harder than it seems.  We've got to challenge ourselves though, don't we? If we don't, someone else will and when that happens we won't know what to do. Also you've got to laugh at yourself-a lot. I did a lot of that when I was editing this video. I'm so silly! 

This is my first video tutorial. A little rough around the edges but it comes from a good place. I seem so serious but I was just nervous. I'm usually a lot goofier! 

You'll find everything you need to know in the video and the recipe is written below! 

Enjoy,

Holly x



Recipe, Makes 4 Individual 150ml Dariole Moulds

Suet Pastry

200g Self Raising Flour
100g Suet-Vegetable/Beef
1 Tablespoon Freshly Chopped Parsley 
100ml-150ml Cold Water
Pinch of Salt

Sieve flour and salt into a bowl.
Add the suet and chopped parsley.
Mixing with a fork slowly pour in half of the water and stir.
Keep adding more water until the mixture comes together.
Turn out nto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Filling

1 Tablespoon Freshly Chopped Thyme
2 Onions
4 Cloves Garlic
350ml Beef Stock
15-20 Button Mushrooms
200g Stewing Beef, 1/2 inch pieces
Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Olive Oil


Begin by preparing all the vegetables and stewing beef. Above in video. 
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan.
Add onions, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté on a low heat for 5 minutes until the onions have softened and are translucent. 
Add the 1/2 inch cubes of beef.
Cook for 6 minutes until the beef is brown and slightly golden. 
Add the chopped mushrooms and stock.
Put on a lid and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced by half. About 10 minutes.
Allow to cool.


Assembly


Divide the suet pastry into four equal pieces.
Measure the diameter of your dariole moulds-the circle of pastry will need to be twice this size. 
Roll each piece of pastry into a circle.
Cut out a quarter of each circle and keep for the lid and re-roll into a rough circle.
Line the dariole moulds with the pastry-See video.
Fill the moulds with cooled mixture.
Wet the edges of the pastry and place the pastry lids on top. 
Seal tightly.
Cover with tin foil and tie with twine/cling film-See video.
Steam for 45 minutes.
Remove from steamer. 
Using a tea towel hold the mould and invert the puddings out onto plates.
Serve with potatoes and vegetables. 

July 11, 2012

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies {Egg Free}


Chocolate. Oh my friend. You are just the cat's pyjamas. When I need a quick chocolate fix I'm not concerned about cocoa solid percentages or cocoa butter. I'm not ashamed to admit it-I love shop -bought milk chocolate, Cadbury's especially, but when I'm baking I always use dark chocolate. 

When it comes to cooking, use a good quality chocolate, that is, one that has a high cocoa solid percentage and a low cocoa butter percentage. By following this simple guideline the outcome of what you've baked will be far superior. Depending on what I'm baking I will use a chocolate that has 55-80% cocoa solids. 


These cookies are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. In my opinion the best texture for a cookie! Also, there are molten chunks of chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts throughout the cookies. They are egg-free if you opt to use cornflour instead of custard powder.  The cornflour in the recipe gives a vanilla flavour and a lighter texture. 

Chocolate and hazelnuts are beautiful together. They're like a match made in heaven-simply meant to be. Good thing I put them in these cookies so! A little like socks and sandles...not! 

I'm warning you now-you may eat 3 of these cookies at once!

Enjoy,

Holly, x


Cream together butter and sugar.


Add sieved flour, salt, custard powder and baking powder. Mix until it looks like breadcrumbs.


Chop the dark chocolate into small chunks and roughly chop the hazelnuts.


Add to the butter and sugar mix. 

Using a spatula and mix until it comes together.


You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the mix in order for it to come together. 


Roll into 20 table tennis sized balls and lay on lined baking sheets.


I'm so excited to eat these!

Recipe, makes 20

150g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
150g Caster Sugar
210g Plain Flour
2 Level Teaspoons Baking Powder
75g Custard Powder or 50g Cornstarch
Pinch of Salt
100g Dark Chocolate 55%-74%, chopped
50g Hazelnuts
2 Tablespoons Cold Water

Preheat oven to and line two-three baking trays.
In a food mixer or with a hand held electrical mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale.
Sieve together the flour, baking powder, custard powder and salt.
Add to the butter and sugar.
Begin with the mixer on low, beat until the ingredients resemble breadcrumbs. 
Chop the chocolate into small pieces-chocolate chip size- and roughly chop the hazelnuts.
Add the chocolate and hazelnuts to the butter and sugar mix.
Using a spatula mix until it comes together. 
Take a small handful and squeeze the mixture in the palm of your hand-if it holds together, it's ready. If it crumbles add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water.
With slightly damp hands, roll the cookie dough into 20 table tennis sized balls.
Transfer to the lined baking trays. Leaving 1-2 inches of space around the cookies as they will flatten out as they cook. Don't overcrowd the trays!
Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill.
Bake at 180 for 12-14 minutes. They should be slightly golden around the edges.
The cookies will still be soft after 14 minutes but take them out as they will harden as they cool!
Allow to cool slightly on the trays before transferring to a wire rack.