Tuesday, December 11, 2018

TWD - Speculoos

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Speculoos, a spicy European biscuit that happens to be perfect for Christmas.

Dorie's recipe suggests simply slicing and baking these biscuits, which is exactly what I did, although you could also roll out the dough and cut out the biscuits.

Before slicing my biscuit dough logs, I brushed them with egg wash and rolled them in gold sanding sugar.  I think it added to the festive nature of these spicy cookies, and I added them to this year's Christmas boxes as an efficiency so that I didn't have to bake extra biscuits for the boxes.

I thought these Speculoos biscuits were rather tasty (I ate the gnarly offcuts from the ends of the dough logs).

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Roast Pork with Cherry Sauce - Red Tractor December

Well, this year is nearly over - where did it go?  I have reached December in my Red Tractor calendar, and the final recipe for this year is Christmas Pork with Cherry Sauce.

The calendar quote says it all:

I was very pleased with the crackle that I got on my roast pork - it is a fabulous colour:

My unusual choice of vegetables with the finished pork arose from the fact that I originally had planned to make stir fry for the week, but ended up making this pork instead. The stir fried vegetables were good, even if they did clash a little with the cherry sauce.

To make your own Christmas Pork with Cherry Sauce, you will need:

2kg boned and rolled pork shoulder (I used pork leg)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Celsius (fan forced).  Unroll the pork and pat the skin dry with a paper towel.  Score the skin diagonally with a sharp knife (and I mean sharp - I used a box cutter).  Re-roll the pork and tie  with string to secure.  

Brush the oil over the pork and rub with sea salt.

Put the pork on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes or until the skin starts to blister.  Decrease the oven temperature to 170 degrees Celsius, and cook the pork for another 70-90 minutes or until the crackling is golden and crisp.

Rest the pork for up to half an hour before serving.

For the cherry sauce:

Melt 60g chopped butter in a saucepan.  Add 2 chopped shallots and 2 teaspoons chopped thyme.  Stir over the heat for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, and cook for a further minute or until reduced by half.  

Add 300g pitted cherries (fresh or frozen), 1/4 cup cherry jam and 1/4 cup water to the saucepan.  Bring  the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the sauce until slightly thickened.  Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Candy Cane Fudge

This year's Christmas box production line is well under way, and a new item that I made for this year's boxes is Candy Cane Fudge from the Australian Women's Weekly website.

If you are scared of making sweets, don't be with this fudge - it is super duper simple.  If you can melt things together without burning them, then you can absolutely make this fudge.

The finished product is creamy and sweet, and the peppermint tones down the sweetness as well as adding festive red and white colour.

To make it, you will need:

500g white chocolate melts
395g can condensed milk
30g butter
1/3 cup crushed candy canes (I blitzed them in the food processor)
extra crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top of the fudge

Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

Put the chocolate melts, condensed milk and butter into a medium sized heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (ie a homemade bain marie).  Stir the ingredients over the simmering water until melted and smooth.

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the 1/3 cup crushed candy canes.  Working quickly before the fudge starts to set, scrape the fudge into the prepared cake tin and spread evenly in the tin.  Rap the tin on the bench a few times to eliminate air bubbles.

Put the fudge into the fridge for ~ 2 hours to set before  cutting into squares.

Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

TWD - Double-Ginger Crumb Cookies

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Double-Ginger Crumb Cookies.  They earn their moniker from fresh minced ginger in the cookie dough and ground ginger in the crumb on top.

When I went to make these, I looked at the photo and thought, "meh".  However, don't be fooled by their appearance - these cookies taste seriously delicious.  They also smell devine when baking.  The ginger taste is subtle rather than in your face.

My cookies baked quicker than the 21-23 minute cooking time stated in the recipe, so it pays to watch them carefully and rely on your nose.

In a first, the recipe said the batch made 18 cookies, and I got 18 cookies!  I was quietly pleased with this as it means I rolled the dough to the right thickness and made the cookies the size intended by their creator, Dorie.

To see what everyone else made this week and what the thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Blueberry Jam

Planning for this year's Christmas boxes is well under way, and I have taken another step in the project by making another item for 12 of the boxes - small jars of blueberry jam.

I used this recipe for blueberry jam from Taste.com.  It was very easy to make, just time consuming in that you have to stay close by the jam while it is on the stove so that it doesn't burn while your back is turned.  The jam gets a terrific citrus-flavoured lift from the addition of Cointreau, which not only brightens the flavour, but makes the jam a little less sweet.

To make the jam look a little bit fancy, I added some free labels from A Family Feast and CSR Sugar:

If you have a yen to make this easy blueberry jam, you will need:

4 x 125g punnets blueberries
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Cointreau
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Put all of the ingredients into a large heavy based saucepan.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Allow the jam to simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the jam reaches the correct consistency (ie when you put some onto a plate that has been in the freezer and run your finger through it, the jam does not run back to fill the gap).

Spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, put the lid onto the jars and turn the jars upside down to allow the hot jam to contact all the surfaces of the jars, then turn the jars the right way up.  Allow the jam to cool completely in the jars before adding labels.  Makes ~ 500ml jam.

Give as gifts or enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TWD - Gateau Basque Fantasie

For the last Tuesday with Dorie this month, the recipe is Gateau Basque Fantasie.  A fantasie is a dish not made strictly in accordance with tradition.  Normally, a Gateau Basque is filled with pastry cream or cherry jam.  Here, it is filled with lashings of fruit and nuts instead.

The filling ingredients that I used were fresh orange segments, orange juice, ginger, apples, red grapes, dried apricots and toasted almonds.  I loved the bitterness of the orange, the crunch of the almonds, the chewiness of the apricots and the sweetness of the apples and grapes.

The pastry for this Gateau did not give me any hassles when making it, as experienced by some of my fellow Dorie bakers.  Where I got grief with this Gateau was in unmoulding it from the cake tin in which it was baked.  Up to that point, everything went to plan.  Come unmoulding time, the gateau cracked, as is apparent in the photo at the top of this post.  This did not detract one iota from the taste, but made it much more difficult to serve in an elegant manner.

As for the taste, this gateau is devine.  The buttery, sweet, biscuit-like pastry is the perfect foil for the fruit inside.  If you can live with a little cracking and untidiness in the pastry, then this is a wonderful dish to make.  It would be great to make it over and over with different seasonal fruits, as suggested by Dorie.

To see what the others made this week and how they felt about it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Gingerbread Bundt Cake for Cake Day

Today, 26 November, is Cake Day.  Who knew  there was such a thing?  I didn't until I saw it mentioned in the newspaper today.  How exciting!  

Of course, I had to make a cake to celebrate Cake Day.  I recently received an email from the Mill House Kitchen as part of their Six Weeks of Christmas campaign which featured a recipe for a Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Maple Icing from Kath of Kulinary Adventures of Kath.  This cake looked and sounded delicious, and is very seasonally appropriate, so that is the cake I chose to make for Cake Day. You can find the recipe on Kath's blog here.

I somehow managed to leave the ginger tea out of the batter, as I had it cooling in the freezer while I did other things towards making the cake.  I was worried the cake might be a little dry as a result, but it wasn't, so clearly it is a forgiving recipe.    I also subbed in rice malt syrup for the molasses, as I did not have any molasses in the pantry.

This cake smelled amazing as it baked, with the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and allspice scents wafting through the kitchen.  The resulting cake was soft, moist (despite the lack of tea!) and warmly spiced.  It is a cake that tastes like Christmas.

The maple icing added a lovely extra level of caramel flavour to the cake.  Red currants are a little hard to find, so I left them off as decoration.  The soft drips of maple icing were enough decoration, I think. 

If you are a fan of Christmas spices and like gingerbread, I recommend downloading the recipe for this cake at the link above and giving it a try.  It is a wonderful, Christmassy cake which holds plenty of promise for the holidays, and is sure to delight most tasters.