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Passionfruit melting moments

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B’stilla

B’stilla, pronounced pas-tee-ya, is a delicious pie traditionally made with young pigeon for special occasions…. but as these are rather hard to come by a chicken will suffice

This is a simplified version, and the end result is a fragrant chicken pie that will soon become a family favourite.

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1.6kg free-range chicken, quartered

2 Spanish onions, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/4 cup each chopped flat-leaf parsley and coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra, to brush

50g butter

2 tablespoons caster sugar

175g blanched whole almonds, roasted, chopped

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped

13 sheets filo pastry

Icing sugar and ground cinnamon, to dust

Place chicken, onions, ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, saffron, herbs, oil and butter in a large saucepan.

Add 750ml (3 cups) water or just enough to cover chicken.

Bring to a simmer over low/medium heat, then cover and cook for 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken from pan and, when cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding the skin and bones.

Simmer cooking mixture, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 500ml (2 cups). Allow mixture to cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Combine sugar, nuts and remaining cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, combine chicken, eggs and cooking mixture.

Oil a 23cm, 5cm-deep cake or pie tin.

Lightly brush a sheet of filo with oil, top with a second sheet and place in the tin to just cover the sides and base, extending beyond the tin on one side.

Repeat 5 times, arranging each double layer at a slight angle to the previous layer, so the pastry case looks like the spokes of a wheel.

Scatter half the nut mixture over the base, top with chicken mixture, then remaining nut mixture.

Fold in overhanging pastry, tucking excess down inside of pan. Brush remaining filo sheet with oil, fold in half and place on top, tucking in excess.

Brush the top with oil and bake for 35 minutes or until golden. If it browns too quickly, cover the pie with baking paper/foil.

Serve the b’stilla warm, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon.

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Easter hot-cross buns

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Easter is such a wonderful time to spend with family… the weather is  generally cooler and having 4 days away from work and being with my gorgeous nephews and niece is a rare treat, and a far cry from the usual chaos of my ‘normal’ week!

I came across this lovely photo the other day, of my nephew enjoying the delicious fruit encrusted hot cross buns that we made together on Good Friday last year.

The process of kneading and mixing was very therapeutic and I think that besides the waiting for the dough to rise [patience is a virtue, especially in the very young!] we both thoroughly enjoyed creating these fragrant rolls for the family as much as they did devouring them!

I hope that you can find the time to make these over the long weekend and that your family and friends are appreciative of your handiwork……

Hot cross buns

1 tbs dried yeast

1 tsp caster sugar

185ml (3/4 cup) warm milk

125ml (1/2 cup) cold milk

50g butter, melted

1 egg, lightly whisked

525g (3 1/2 cups) plain flour

200g mixed dried fruit

70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

2 tsp mixed spice

A pinch of salt

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

160ml (2/3 cup) water

2 tbs caster sugar

Make the dough:

Whisk yeast, sugar and the 3/4 cup of warm milk in a jug. Set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy.

Whisk in the 1/2 cup of cold milk, butter and egg. Combine flour, dried fruit, sugar, mixed spice and salt in a bowl.

Make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to prove for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Shape the buns:

Punch down the centre of the dough with your fist.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes.

Shape into 12 even portions.

Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter to grease.

Place portions side by side on the prepared pan. [don’t place them all together like I did in the below pic, as there is no room to expand and you’ll have far smaller buns]

Cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Easter

Bake and decorate:

Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine flour and water to make a paste.

Place in a sealable plastic bag. Cut 1 corner from the bag to make a 2mm hole.

Pipe crosses onto the buns. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Make the glaze:

Meanwhile, sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Simmer until the glaze thickens. Transfer buns to a wire rack. Brush tops with glaze. Set aside to cool slightly.

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Indonesian thousand layer spice cake

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In the past I have made this cake as a treat, for my ex-partner and his father …as they are of Dutch origin they grew up with this cake, and as a child he enjoyed savouring this multi layered spice cake by peeling off a layer at a time and savouring each thin spiced section of the cake.

It’s a lovely cake and keeps very well, it’s best to only serve a very small slice as it is quite rich.

It’s well worth all the effort of cooking each layer under the grill, even though it may seem tedious at the time …..Patience is a virtue after all!
1000 layered cake

Thousand-Layer Spice Cake

Spekkoek Lapis Legit

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground mace

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground star anise

3oog unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 large eggs, separated

1 1/4 cups flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat the grill. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or spring-form pan. Line with parchment paper and butter the paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mace, cardamom, ginger and anise. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.

In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until stiff.

Fold into egg yolk mixture, being careful not to overmix. Add combined spices  and stir well.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the spiced batter into the prepared pan, spreading to form a thin layer. Place the pan under the preheated broiler for 2 minutes, or until the layer is firm and very lightly browned. Repeat layering spiced batter in the pan and cooking until all the batter is used. Note that the cake typically has between 12-15 layers)

Let the cake cool on a wire rack then turn out from the pan. Place on a cake plate and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Thinly slice and serve warm or at room temperature.


Sri Lankan fish curry

My first attempt at cooking a Sri Lankan curry, and my no means my last….. so simple and flavorsome, why have I not experimented with this cuisine before now!?

The star of this dish was the awesome freshly caught fish that a work colleague gave to me …she competes in  fishing tournaments most week-ends and luckily she and I both share a passion for cooking. Also lucky for me is that her partner fillets the fish and I get to eat the ‘winnings’ …..fresh fish on a  Monday after their expedition, a win-win I say!!

Sri Lankan fish curry

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I’ve been very inspired to cook something with curry leaves after watching many of the Peter Kuruvita cooking programmes on SBS television.

True to Peter’s Sri Lankan heritage, the Sydney chef and co-owner of the Flying Fish restaurant has made Sri Lankan food his “life and being”. He regularly travels back to the country to gather inspiration for his Pyrmont restaurant.

I hope that you enjoy this light and fresh curry which highlights the aromatics of ginger, the spicy crackle of mustard seeds and the unique smoky, citrus character of curry leaves.

4 x 200g fish fillets

100ml extra virgin olive oil

salt flakes

1 brown onion, sliced in rounds

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into discs

6 large ripe tomatoes, in chunky dice

5 stems curry leaves

1 lemon

Place a large wide-based frypan over high heat. Add half the oil and heat for one minute.

Season the fish with the salt and fry, skin side down, for a minute or two to crisp the skin. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same pan and heat through.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften (about one minute).

Add the potato slices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring until they begin to soften.

Add the chopped tomatoes, stir, season and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes break down and start to form a sauce.

Add 200 millilitres of water and the curry leaves (still attached to their stems) and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The potatoes should be just cooked and the sauce will have thickened.

Check and adjust the seasoning. Make sure the sauce is on the drier side as the fish will release water and moisten it.

Add the fish, skin side up and cook for four to six minutes, or until cooked, with the lid on.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve with steamed brown rice.

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Make-ahead option….twice baked cheese soufflé

I love any dish that I can prepare so that I can actually enjoy my dinner guest’s company.

These fabulous soufflés are a perfect entree or luncheon option, they certainly have the wow factor and are so easy to make ahead of time and just heat and serve with various accompniments.

My favourites side dishes for the goat’s cheese soufflé are; grilled figs wrapped with prosciutto and served with balsamic glazed rocket leaves …or the below option of grilled asparagus with parmesan shavings.

souffle

Twice baked goat’s cheese soufflé

450ml milk
2 fresh bay leaves
80g butter
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
100g goat’s cheese
2/3 cup (70g) finely grated parmesan
6 egg yolks
5 eggwhites
1 cup (250ml)  cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease eight 200ml-capacity ovenproof ramekins. Combine the milk and bay leaves in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until mixture bubbles. Gradually add hot milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring constantly until well combined. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens. Add goat’s cheese and 2 tbs of parmesan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Add the egg yolks to the cheese mixture, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Use an electric mixer to whisk eggwhites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Use a metal spoon to add half the eggwhites to the cheese mixture and gently fold until just combined. Add remaining eggwhites and fold to combine.

Spoon mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and roasting pan and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside edge of each mould to loosen souffles, then turn out on to the tray. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill.

Set oven temperature to 200°C.. Place souffles on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Pour cream over and around each souffle and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

Arrange the souffles and side salad on individual plates and serve.

* recipe modified from Taste.com.au

Homemade Cordial

Homemade cordial come with three big benefits – first, you can make it far tarter than most of the commercial ones; second, it actually tastes like the fruit you’ve made it from; and, finally, you get to see quite how much sugar goes in to making the cordial, which means you’ll be more cautious about how much you use!
This recipe will work with pink grapefruit [pictured below] lemons, madarin or a combination of citrus.
3 cups of strained juice
finely grated zest from 4 fruit
2 kg castor sugar
1 litre water
30g citric acid
30g tartaric acid

Heat the sugar and the water in a large saucepan until the sugar completely dissolves

Add the citric and tartaric acids and stir them to dissolve as well.

Add the citrus juice and the zest to the sugar syrup.Leave to infuse for 1/2hr then strain into a jug

Using a funnel, slowly pour into sterilised bottles.  

Ensure that the glass bottles are hot when you add the hot fruit syrup, as the hot syrup will crack them otherwise. [Wear washing gloves as this will protect your hands and wrists from the hot syrup]

To serve: dilute with 2/3 sparkling water or soda water or perhaps a clear spirit for the grown-ups like Gin or Vodka….whatever takes your fancy!

Pink Grapefruit Cordial