Friday, January 09, 2009

Take Another Look

As you will see from the recipe below - a non-yeast version of not-quite Chelsea buns - because of the acidic yogurt and cheese, again bicarb is used with baking powder. Instead of the filling given, why not spread the dough with left-over Christmas mincemeat.
Shortcut 'Chelsea' buns: makes 12
12 oz (300g) plain white flour
quarter teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
good pinch of salt
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
2 oz (50g) butter, pref unsalted* cut into cubes
5 oz (150g) cottage cheese
3 tblsp natural yogurt
approx 1 tblsp milk
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
2 oz (50g) dark muscovado sugar
1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
4 oz (100g) pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped
Make the dough by putting the flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt* and sugar in the food processor. Give a quick pulse to combine ingredients, then add the butter and blitz to a sandy texture. Add the cottage cheese, the yogurt and the milk and run on slow speed until the ingredients come together to form a soft ball of dough. If too dry, add a little more milk.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll to an oblong approx 12" x 9 " (30 x 23cm). Spread the soft butter over the surface, mix together the dark sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle this over the butter, then with the nuts.
Roll the dough from one of the long sides to form a Swiss roll shape, then - using a sharp knife - cut into 12 even sized pieces. Arrange in a well-greased, tray-bake pan (approx 9" x 8 " (25 x 21.5cm) in rows of three by four, spacing them apart. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from tin and cool on a cake airer for a few minutes, then gently tear apart and eat whilst they are still warm. Can be left to cool but best eaten the day of making. These do not freeze well.
Note: * if using salted butter, then reduce the amount of salt in the ingredients or omit it altogether.

One of the more 'upmarket' nibbles is biscotti, usually eaten with a Starbucks espresso, but they also make a lovely accompaniment to desserts such as creme brulee or a mousse. Delightfully crisp, and made with no fat, the biscotti may well be the 'coffee and biscuits' choice of the well-heeled, but certainly cheap enough to make at home. A plainer biscotti recipe was given some months back, and the following is a slightly more expensive version, but if you have the ginger and the nuts - well, go for it. Even if we can only afford to drink coffee at home (even made the instant way), we can still give guests (and ourselves) the appearance of a yuppie standard of living.
Store the biscotti in an airtight jar or tin and they will keep for several weeks.
Ginger and Hazelnut Biscotti: makes 25 - 30 biscuits
11 oz (300g) plain flour, sifted
7 oz (200g) caster sugar
3 medium eggs
1 tsp baking powder
5 oz (150g) roasted shelled hazelnuts
5 oz (140g) stem ginger, thinly sliced
zest from 1 small lemon
Using a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, eggs and baking powder. Tip into a bowl and add the nuts, ginger and lemon zest. Knead together lightly and form into a log shape just over an inch (3cm) in thickness. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 then remove from the oven and reduce the temperature down to 180C, 350F, gas 4.
While the oven is reducing to the lower temp., cut the log into thin slices about 3mm thick, then place the slices on the baking tray , return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes. Cool on a cake airer.

Sometimes a photograph of a dish can lead us to taking a second look, and the 'filling' below, although intended to baked in an uncooked puff pastry tart base, looked - in the photo - remarkably as though it had been cooked in one of those large 'Aunt Bessie' type Yorkshire puddings. Which of course then led me to thinking 'why not'? Most of us tend to serve these frozen Yorkshire puddings traditional style, with a roast beef dinner (although I know of at least one person who eats them with all roast meats and poultry, and probably with fish as well).
Time I think to take another look at some foods - such as these 'puds' - and use them in different ways, and maybe some of you can come up with ideas. Have not myself gone further than filling the large puds with a good beef casserole (usually Carbonnade), with a green veg on the side, and the following 'filling' is now another suggestion.
Caramelised Onion and Goat's Cheese: serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter
3 red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tblsp caster sugar
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
3 oz (75g) goat's cheese
Melt the butter in a frying pan and saute the onion until softened (takes about 5 minutes). Sprinkle over the sugar and balsamic vinegar, give a gentle stir and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Use to fill either uncooked puff pastry cases or medium to large frozen Yorkshire puddings, dividing the onions equally between the 'containers', and then crumble the goat's cheese over the top. Bake for 15 minutes at the heat needed to cook the pastry or the puds.