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Monday, May 01, 2006

Homemade Custard, mmm that's right not from a packet, actually made with your own hands. When you practice this and serve it to people, they will be impressed with the personal touch, instead of being served yet another bowl of industrially engineered, uniform, average kinda custard. hehe

600ml (1 pint) Milk
6-8 Egg yolks
50g (2 oz) Sugar
1-2 Vanilla pods

Split the vanilla pods lengthways scraping out the sticky seeds. Bring the milk almost to the boil, remove from the heat and add the vanilla seeds and pod(s).

Allow to stand for 15 minutes to allow the vanilla to infuse the milk. Place the egg yolks, sugar and in a bowl, beat until thick and creamy. Remove the vanilla pod(s) from the milk and slowly beat into the egg mixture.

Place in a heavy based saucepan and cook over a low to medium heat (do not allow to boil) , stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. (If the custard becomes lumpy strain) Serve hot or cold.

Here's a New Zealand Recipe favorite.

Pavlova


Ingredients
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour
2 tsp vinegar

Method
1. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into a clean bowl and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks but is not dry.

2. Gradually beat in three quarters of the sugar, about 2 tablespoonfuls at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the remaining sugar. The mixture should be thick and glossy.

3. Sift in the cornflour and add the vinegar and vanilla essence. Beat on a low speed only to combine.

4. Pile the mixture on to a baking paper-lined tray and mould into a 16cm circle, smoothing the top off.

5. Place in a 120°C oven for 1 1/2 hours and then turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool completely with the door closed.

6. Serve piled with whipped cream and seasonal fruits.

There a lots of tricks to helping stabilize the Pavlovas form while it begins baking in this recipe it's primarily the cornflour and cream of tartar that hold the form but their are lots of other variants or "Secrets" to helping the pavlova hold its shape. Good Luck!!

CIABATTA

Starter (Biga):
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (110-115F degrees)
2 cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat and/or rye flour
3/4 cup water

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Measure out 1 teaspoon of the yeasty water and add to the second quantity of fresh (3/4 cup) water. This second batch of water is what you will use - discard any yeasty water remaining from the first cup in which the yeast was dissolved.

The purpose of this step is only to measure out a tiny amount of yeast for the biga so that you will have a slow, controlled fermentation which takes overnight to develop.
Knead the ingredients together and set aside overnight or for 24 hours before use.

Dough:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon yeast
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups lukewarm (110-115F degrees) water

Biga (prepared the day before)
Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in the water and the biga and turn out onto a clean surface or bread board. Knead 5 minutes, creating a soft, sticky dough. Do not add more flour or the bread will not be light and airy and instead will be tough and heavy. It helps to oil your hands with olive oil when handling the dough.

Oil a large bowl and turn the dough around in it a few times to coat, then cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth (depending on whether your house is drafty or not). Place in a warm place, free from drafts, and allow to rise about 3 hours until it is doubled in bulk.

When dough has risen, turn out onto a floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Handle dough lightly to avoid deflating the air pockets created during fermentation.

Fold each piece loosely into thirds, business-letter style.

Place seam side down onto a clean, heavily floured bread cloth or couche, sprinkle with flour and allow to rise again for about another hour.

About 45 minutes after setting aside the dough to rise, preheat oven to 450F degrees. A baking stone, if you have one, is beneficial. Place on center shelf or slightly above.

When oven is ready slip dough onto stone, seam-side up and bake until browned, about 35-45 minutes (check often during the last minutes of baking but try not to open oven for very long).

Serving Suggestions:
When cooled, slice down the center lengthwise, drizzle with your best olive oil and layer with your favorite Italian cold cuts, vinegar peppers, black oil cured olives and provolone cheese, and thinly sliced ripe tomatoes.

This would be a good time to use a panini grill if you have one, or press and grill it outdoors, or just use a black cast iron frying pan. If you're doing these on the grill, you can press it under a hot, clean brick which has been pre-heated in the grill.

Sprinkle with oil dressing (below) and serve.

Oil Dressing:
Combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon each basil and oregano, 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1-2 cloves minced garlic (for extra kick you can optionally add one of the following: 1-2 anchovies, 1/4 teaspoon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Frank's hot sauce, or chopped hot red peppers from a jar, more or less). Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Roasted potatoes make a great addition to any dinner. The best roasted potatoes are full of flavor, crispy on the outside, and soft and velvety on the inside. This can be accomplished easily while preparing your main dish.

First, I start with two pounds of red potatoes. Cut the potatoes into 3/4" to 1" wedges. Toss with 3 Tbs. oil until all pieces are coated.Salt and pepper the potatoes generously. Toss until salt and pepper have evenly disbursed.Place the potatoes in a 9x13 in. baking pan.

Arrange the pieces so that the skin side is facing up. This will give us a nice crust on the cut side as it bakes. If desired, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary over the potatoes.Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for twenty minutes at 425°F. This will allow the potatoes to bake in their own steam to help the insides fully cook.

After twenty minutes, remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for fifteen more minutes. Using a metal spatula, flip all the potato pieces over so the skin side is now touching the bottom of the pan. Try to keep as much of the crispy crust that has formed on the potato pieces as you flip.Another 15 minutes in the oven and the potatoes should be done. You can keep cooking to achieve the level of color that is desired on the cut side of the potatoes. I usually stop once it reaches a light golden color.

For a strong garlic flavor, simply puree 2 cloves of garlic (once garlic has been minced, scrape with a knife to create a fine mush OR use a zester on the garlic cloves) and put it in a medium bowl. Using a metal spatula, scrape the potatoes out of the pan and into the bowl. The hot potatoes will just barely cook the garlic. Toss well.

For a milder garlic flavor, cook the garlic in a teaspoon of oil until it softens (just before it begins to brown). Toss the cooked garlic with the potatoes.

This recipe is essentially chocolate mousse thats made like cake. It's a nice recipe that's not to hard.

INGREDIENTS:
230g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces + extra to butter the pan
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 275°F and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9-inch springflorm pan.

1. Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a large, microwave safe bowl and microwave on high in 30-second increments. Stir after each increment, continuing until the chocolate is completely melted. Allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the egg yolks.
2. Place the whites in a clean bowl and beat to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, beating until stiff and glossy.
3. Whisk 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it.
4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the chocolate into the rest of the whites.
5. Pour it into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
6. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. The cake will have pulled away from the side of the pan and will be just set in the center.
7. Allow to cool.

This is one of my favorite recipes it's esy enough and looks very, very good if done correctly. Most of all it tastes great

Black forest gateau
Serves 10

Cake – you’ll need:
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup boiling water
2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
7 eggs (separated)
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla essence

Here’s how: 1. Grease a 23cm round tin and line with lightly greased paper. 2. Blend cocoa and boiling water in a small bowl. 3. Add to the cocoa mix, the egg yolks, oil and vanilla essence and beat together until smooth and the mixture is consistent in colour. 4. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold into the chocolate mix. 5. In a large bowl, combine sifted flour and sugar. Fold in the flour and sugar into the chocolate mix until completely but lightly combined. 6. Pour into tin and bake at 180ºC for 1 hour; then let cake cool.

Topping – you’ll need:
100g dark chocolate (melted)
300-500ml cream
2 cans cherries (sliced)

Here’s how: 1. Split cake into 3 layers. Whip cream until firm. 2. Combine melted chocolate, cherries and cream and evenly add mixture to each cake layer. 3. Top with extra cream and grated chocolate.

Here's another Chicken Chow Mein recipe that's easy but uses oil


CHICKEN CHOW MEIN

Green peppers
Onions
Celery
1 chicken, boiled & deboned
Mushrooms
Salt
Pepper
2 cans French style green beans
Chow mein noodles
Soy sauce
4-5 tblespns polyunsaturated oil

Saute chicken with green peppers, onions and celery in oil. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and green beans. Add chicken broth (2 cups with 2 tablespoons. flour). Simmer. Serve over chow mein noodles with soy sauce.