Well it has been one of those days today, the sun is shining, the sky blue but its cold outside. So of course we are all looking for something to warm us through.
So a delicious risotto is on the cards for this evening.
I do enjoy a rich creamy risotto with some delicious mushrooms, just what the doctor ordered……
I decided that I would use up some frozen vegetables that were in the freezer too, need to make some more space for the up and coming cooking courses.
A risotto is fantastic dish that can be used for a weekday supper or an elegant dinner party.
A few years ago we were on holiday in Corfu and we found a wonderful family restaurant that served Mussel Risotto, it was absolutely divine, I have recreated the recipe and will post it another day. but it did give me a new view of what a risotto should be….
Start off by chopping the onion, relatively small, then prepare the mushrooms, depending on the size of your mushrooms, cut into quarters or halves, you want to keep them chunky.
Add the butter to a pot and allow to melt before adding the chopped onions.
Heat the stock in a pot and add the chopped mushrooms. Allowing the mushroom flavour to enhance the stock.
Allow the onions to cook in the melted butter until softened and add the crushed garlic clove.
Then add the rice and mix well, ensuring that the rice is coated in the melted butter.
Add the wine and allow the rice to cook in the wine, (3-4 minutes), mix to ensure the rice starts to cook in the wine.
When the wine is fully absorbed into the rice, start adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the previous ladle is absorbed before adding the next ladle.
Continue until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Test by tasting.
When the rice is ready, (softened with a little bite) add the mushrooms from the stock pot and mix through.
An optional step is to add extra vegetables, I added some frozen garden peas and chopped green beans, for an added bit of colour and texture.
Add the grated Parmesan cheese and mix through, beating the risotto with a wooden spoon to create a creamy sauce. Add 2 teaspoons of soft butter and allow it to melt into the risotto. Mix again to fully combine.
Now you will have a delicious ‘creamy’ risotto. Enjoy.
Delicious creamy mushroom risotto, ideal for any mid week meal.
Again I have been looking for those fabulous breakfast treats, you know the ones that I mean, the sweet, sticky treats that we can get away with eating at breakfast time, instead of having to wait until the morning or afternoon tea breaks.
So this week it has been the Pain aux Raisin, a version of a danish pastry.
As usual I started my search of the ultimate Pain aux Raisin recipe, looking for that one that ‘just feels right’ as I do with all my recipes.
I already had a few ideas and I have a sweet bread recipe that I use when nothing else feels ‘better’ but this week I thought I would try a brioche recipe. I had some time to work on it and for those of you who know, brioche dough should be made and left overnight in the fridge to firm up as it is very soft and difficult to work with if you don’t do the resting overnight in the fridge.
My search took me to Epicurious which I have been searching a lot lately, they have a great selection of recipes at the moment.
So their recipe for a brioche was a good start, it was simple and easy to work through, I did read the various reviews and went with it as it did point out that the dough was very soft, but it did firm up after a night in the fridge.
For me the results were too soft, the dough after a night in the fridge resting, did produce a firmer dough, but it was still very soft and difficult to work with. So the next time I will go back to my trusty ‘brioche type’ dough that has all the same ingredients but different quantities and the results are always great.
I did follow the stages of the recipe and the recipe for the creme-patisserie was fantastic and will now be my go-to recipe for creme-patisserie. As an aside, I now have a few new ideas for this recipe and will bring them to you soon.
Make creme-patisserie: Pour the milk into a medium sized pot and place on a medium heat and allow to come to a simmer. In a jug or bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and cornflour and when ready, gradually pour the hot milk into the jug while continually whisking. Pour the mixture back in to the pot and cook over a low heat, continue to whisk until the mixture begins to boil. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth, take care not to allow the custard to scorch on the bottom of the pot.
Add the vanilla and butter and whisk until it is all combined, cover the surface with clingfilm and leave to the side and allow to cool to room temperature. (No need to place in the fridge).
Add the raisins to a small bowl and add boiling water to them and leave for 10-15 minutes to allow them to plump up.
So back to the Pain aux Raisin, once the dough was ready, I rolled it out onto a very well floured surface and spread the creme-patisserie over the dough, leaving a small border on the end, (short end), so that when it was rolled, I could seal the log ready for cutting.
Then drain the raisins and distribute them as evenly as possible over the creme-patisserie. Gently and firmly start to roll the dough up like a swiss roll, I used my bread scraper to help, and in hindsight, it would have been useful to have placed a layer of grease-proof paper on the work top and rolled the dough out on top of it, as it would have helped with the rolling and wrapping that is needed next.
Roll up the dough tightly and when you get to the end, wet the edge of the dough and make sure that the edge is sticking to the swiss roll/log. Now place the log onto a large piece of grease-proof paper and wrap it up, this will help with the shape while the log is resting/proving. Cover the log with some cling-film or place in a large plastic bag as I did. I also placed the log onto my baguette tray so as to keep the round shape.
Place the log into the fridge for 1 hour to prove. Remove the log and place on the worktop, slice the log into 11-12 pieces and place them onto an oven tray about 2 inches apart. Turn on the oven (220C) and while the oven was coming up to temperature I placed the tray on top of the oven to help the swirls relax and bounce back (after the cutting).
I baked the swirls in the oven for 30 minutes, I had a little peak at 25 minutes, but they needed the additional 5 minutes until they were golden brown.
I removed them from the oven and left them to cool down while I made the glaze, I placed 2 tbsp of orange marmalade into a small bowl and added about 1 tbsp of boiling water and mixed, just to thin down the marmalade, of course this will depend on how thick you marmalade is. I then brushed some of the glaze of the swirls to give them that lovely glaze and WOW they were ready.
Next time, I will make thin icing sugar glaze and drizzle some across the top, as I think it would have just finished them off, but then I do like a little drizzle of the icing sugar glaze on these types of things.
So I hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as I did and of course I do hope you enjoy eating as much as we did.
Pain aux Raisin - Raisin Swirl
Delicious soft sticky buns with creme patisserie and plump raisins, ideal for breakfast and tea breaks alike. Pain aux Raisins are a great addition to any breakfast table.
Make the dough the day before and allow to rest in the fridge over night.
Make the creme patisserie, place the milk into a medium pot and place on a medium heat and bring it to a simmer.
Add the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour to a jug/bowl and whisk together, ensure it is all fully blended. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking all the time and then pour it back into the pot and return to a low heat and gradually bring to the boil.
Continue to stir the mixture while it is on the heat until it starts to thicken, once it starts to thicken, whisk hard to ensure it is smooth. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the vanilla essence and butter and whisk until it is fully combined.
Cover the creme-patisserie with a piece of cling film, (touching the top) to stop a skin from forming. Leave to one side to cool down.
Place a large piece of grease-proof paper onto the work-surface and cover well with flour, then roll out the dough to a rectangle (18 x 11 inches) and spread with the creme-patisserie, leaving a 1 inch space at one of the short ends.
Drain the raisins and evenly spread the raisins over the creme-patisserie. From the short end of the dough, using the grease-proof paper, start to roll the dough up into a log. When you come to the end of the dough, wet the end with a little water and make sure the end sticks to the length of the log.
Using the grease-proof paper, wrap the log up and place it into a plastic bag or cover with cling-film and place on a baguette tray to rest. All it to rest for 1 hour.
When ready, remove the dough from the bag and unwrap the grease-proof paper, using a sharp knife, slice the log into 11-12 slices and place onto a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
Heat the oven to 220c.
Place the tray onto of the cooker until the oven is upto temperature and then place the tray into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the buns from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the glaze. Place the orange marmalade and boiling water into a cup or a small bowl and mix together well.
Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the buns.
The buns will keep for a couple of days in an air-tight box.
To warm them through, place in an oven 180C for 10 minutes.
It a wonderful sunny day here, there is some heat in the sun and it reminds me that summer is on its way.
We have had so much rain and a touch of ground frost in the mornings, these last few weeks, its hard to believe that we are already into to May, but we are, so the sunshine is very welcome today.
There is more rain on the forecast at the end of the week, but we wont focus on that for the moment, we will just enjoy what we have today.
This sunshine has made me think of what can I make for lunch that will reflect the sunshine and remind me that summer is coming…….
What about luscious, juicy ripe tomatoes……. that definitely reminds me of summer, with a hint of basil, oh yes, I can taste it already……
This is a great recipe to have up your sleeve, vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love it.
You can use shop bought puff pastry or make your own, it just depends on how prepared you are, do you have time to make the rough puff pastry, were you clever the last time you made some and made double and put some in the freezer for another day! either way it will be delicious.
First you need to get the puff pastry ready, either bought or ready made, have it in the fridge so it is really nice and cold, it always puffs up better if it is cold.
Then its the tomatoes, so this works with the size of your tin, if you want to make a large tart, then use medium/large tomatoes and cut them across the middle, try to make sure you have equal halves of your tomatoes.
To work out how many tomatoes you need, take your tin and place the tomatoes into your tin, to fill half of your tin, (no more) as you will be cutting them in half across the middle. If you have a small tin, then use cherry tomatoes, but keep the whole, it is all about the look and taste (if you use cherry tomatoes and you half them, they will cook down too much in the oven before the puff pastry is cooked.
In a large frying pan, on a medium/high heat, cook the onion rings with a little butter, you want them to cook down, but you don’t want any colour, they should be soft, about 5 minutes. Once they are ready, remove them to the tart tin.
Then add more butter and cook the tomatoes in the sugar and balsamic vinegar.
Once the tomatoes are cooked, place them in the tart tin on top of the onions, (cut side UP) this is all about the look of the finished tart, remember you will be turning the tart upside down, so the onions and the tomatoes will be on top.
Layer all the tomatoes in a single layer, making sure you have a nice tight layer, before your place the puff pastry on top.
Now roll out the puff pastry, to approx 2 cm, wider than the tart tin, and place the puff pastry on top of the tomatoes and using a fork/spoon, work the pastry down the sides of the tart ensuring that the pastry touches the bottom of the tin, this will be the crust of your tart when you turn it out of the tin.
Brush the pastry with a little egg wash and place in the oven, and wait until the pastry is cooked, 25-30 minutes.
Once the tart is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cook for approx 5 minutes, before turning it out onto a plate, this is the tricky bit, make sure you have a plate that is big enough to place over the top of your tart tin, place a tea towel over the plate and grab the tin underneath, and then flip it over, making sure you are quick so any juice that is in the bottom of the tin, doesn’t run out when you are turning it over.
Replace any onions that are left in the tin back on top of your tart, and then tear the mozzarella over the warm tart (the heat will melt it) and then the basil leaves, and enjoy the smells and fragrances of summer.
Tomato Tarte Tatin
Makes one 12-inch tart or two 6-inch tarts
Tarte Tatin, the traditional French apple tart that is cooked upside down, is also popular — and beautiful — prepared with anything savoury, like aromatic summer tomatoes.
Tomato Tarte tatin
Tomato Tarte Tatin
Tomato tarte tatin, ripe juicy tomatoes baked in a puff pastry tart, ideal for any lunch or dinner party.
Prepare a 12-inch tart tin. (Make sure the sides are flat on the plate when you turn over, this will help to ensure your don't lose all the juice from the tart with you flip it over)
In a frying pan large enough to hold the tomatoes, melt half of the butter over a medium heat and add the onions and cook gently until they are soft and starting to caramelise, remove to the tin and arrange for the tomatoes to sit on top.
Add the remaining butter into the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook to dissolve it. When it starts to caramelise, add the tomatoes, cut sides up. Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes and turn the tomatoes continue to cook until the tomatoes release their juices.
Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes more. Leaving the juices in the frying pan, arrange the tomatoes, on top of the onions, cut sides up, ensuring the tomatoes are touching the bottom of the tart tin, (so the onions should be laced between the tomatoes. Sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper.
Roll the pastry to be 2 cm larger than the tart tin.. Place it on top of the tomatoes, using a fork/spoon, tuck the pastry down the side of the tin, making sure the pastry is touching the bottom to the tin, as this will be the crust of the tart when it is flipped over. Make small holes in the top of the pastry, and brush with a beaten egg.
Set the tart on the baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 190c. Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
Let the tart sit for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pastry to loosen it from the pan. If there is a lot of juice in the bottom the tart tin, gently pour some off as this will make the pastry soggy. Set a large serving plate upside down on the tart and using oven gloves or tea-towel, quickly turn the plate right side up so the tart comes out, replace any onions that are still in the tart tin.
Take the mozzarella and tear into pieces and place on top of the tomatoes while it is still warm as this will help to melt the mozzarella and then garnish with basil.
If you are not serving this immediately, then leave the tart in the tin, don't turn it out onto the plate as the pastry will become soggy with the juice from the tomatoes.
If you have a fan oven, reduce the temperature of your oven by 20 degrees.