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Posts Tagged ‘cranberry

Chive flowers

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Tis the season for chive flowers and oh what wonderful things they are. I love edible flowers, I think it’s so cool you can have this pretty floral thing on your plate *and* eat it and chive flowers have the added bonus of tasting amazing. They start off sweet and a little dry and crunchy on the tongue and you wonder if they are edible actually, or are going to taste like bland pot pourri, and then the flavours open up and they taste sweet and slightly oniony and then as you chew a bit more you get a really spicy oniony hit from the seeds inside. Delicious, and a beautiful lilac colour. They don’t last long so make the most of them now if you have a clump of chives outside. If you really don’t know what to do with them use them as an edible garnish, but this salad is the perfect place for them, with lots of contrasting colours.

Cranberry and almond quinoa salad with chive flowers
Adapted from Melissa W via Dinner with Julie

100g quinoa
75g dried cranberries
3 tablespoons flaked almonds
10 sping onions, diced
Small handful of spinach, shredded
Small handful of chive flowers
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon light olive oil

1. Cook the quinoa in 250ml water, or chicken stock for about 10-12 minutes, or until the water is all absorbed and the germ separates. Drain off any excess water and leave to sit on the hob for 2-3 minutes under a lid to steam; this will make for fluffier quinoa.

2. Add the cranberries, almonds and spring onions to the quinoa and toss well with a fork. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together with some salt and pepper. Just before serving add the spinach and chive flowers to the quinoa, pour the dressing over the top, mix well and serve up.

Serves 2. This is delicious hot but would work well cold as well. If serving cold add the spinach when the quinoa is fully cooled, so it doesn’t wilt.

Written by guffblog

26th May 2011 at 19:02

Posted in Salad

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Perfect parfait

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If you read that in French it reads perfect perfect. Actually, since the first word is English it probably reads more like “garble perfect”. Ok, perhaps I should stick to my language instead of trying pun in other peoples’…

Over the summer I had the opportunity to spendĀ five hours in a kitchen with a real-life chef, who owned her own restaurant for eight years. It was a fairly cool, if slightly scary experience (she frowned when I tasted the sauce by dipping my finger in it. Apparently in top restaurants they have these hygiene rules that mean you have to use a spoon. Urgh.) During this time, besides learning how to make a huge selection of dishes, mayonnaise and Hollandaise from scratch (one is basically a cooked version of the other), a really good tomato sauce (use butter. Lots and lots of it) I also learned how to make a parfait.

I’ve never really been into making frozen desserts at home, partly because I don’t have an ice cream maker, which I thought was a fairly crucial tool for such delights, and partly because I don’t have the space in my freezer. Not to mention that desserts consisting of double cream and egg yolks are not a sensible thing to have lying around in large quantities. However, it turns out parfaits are really easy to make, you don’t need any special equipment (except maybe an electric whisk and, as discussed, I’m not such a fan of them anyway) and you can freeze them in individual moulds so you only eat one. At a time.

The basic recipe for parfait is very simple, egg yolks whisked with sugar and a little alcohol (this helps to make the parfait softer once it’s frozen), with whipped cream and some fruit or other flavouring of your choice. The higher the water content of the fruit, the more alcohol you need to soften the parfait, or you could add some melted white chocolate, to increase the fat content and stop it setting so firm. The flavour combinations you could go for are basically limitless. Having bought a bag of beautiful cranberries, only to discover they are far too sour to eat out of hand (um, is this common knowledge?) So i turned these into a lovely cranberry sauce/jelly-type affair, some of which I used to flavour the parfait, and some of which was served with the parfait. I decided to use some cointreau as well, to give it a nice cranberry orange flavour, and since it was for a dinner party I smartened the whole thing up with some cinnamon tuiles (as far as I can tell, they’re just really, really thin biscuits). All the components can be made in advance so it’s ideal for parties when you have more than enough other things to be worrying about.

Cranberry-orange parfait with cranberry jelly and cinnamon tuile

This was a pretty flawless dessert, if I do say so myself. The one thing I would change next time is to sieve the cranberry jelly before it sets. Although as a rule I despise passing things through sieves since it is tedious, time-consuming and essentially pointless as chances are what you’re discarding is edible, it would make a big difference here. Though I’m sure most of the goodness in cranberries is in their skin, the skins roll up and add a slightly spiky texture to the jelly otherwise. Obviously if you’re not a perfectionist, don’t bother. It tastes just fine with the skins in.

Cranberry jelly

300g fresh or frozen cranberries
120g white sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cointreau
250ml double or whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons cranberry sauce

1. To make the jelly put the cranberries, sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook on a high heat, without a lid, for about 15 minutes, or until the cranberries are soft and bursting out of their skins. The harder you boil the mixture, the firmer it will set. Using an immersion blender puree the mixture. Quickly push the sauce through a sieve to remove the cranberry skins and then set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cointreau until very pale in colour and foamy. In a medium bowl, with a clean whisk, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in 2-3 tablespoons of the cranberry jelly, depending on how strong a flavour you want. You can also swirl this in instead, to achieve a marbling effect.

3. A couple of spoons at a time fold the cranberry/cream mixture into the egg yolks. When done, divide the mixture between 4 ramekins. Cover with clingfilm and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until required.

Makes 4 0.2l ramekins, and plenty of leftover cranberry jelly.

To serve, remove the parfaits from the freezer. Run a knife (nothing too sharp) around the edges of the ramekin and up-end each parfait on a small serving plate. Spoon some of the spare cranberry jelly on, or to the side of the parfait and garnish with a cinnamon tuile.

Cinnamon tuiles

Adapted from AP – and this is a lesson in why you should use recipes from a reputable source, since they clearly tested this recipe exactly zero times. Eight egg whites and two cups of flour produces 36 teaspoon-sized pieces of dough, WTF? However, adapted to make something completely different, and generally ignoring most of the quantities this recipe produced some great tuiles. So that’s ok.

2 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup gf flour blend
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (27g) melted butter
1 tablespoon double cream

1. Preheat oven to 190 C.

2. In a large bowl whisk the egg whites with the sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in the gf flour, salt and cinnamon very gently. Add the cream and cooled melted butter and stir just until mixed.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop 2 tablespoons of the mixture onto the sheet and spread into a very thin layer using an offset spatula. Add another tablespoon of mixture if necessary, but the tuiles should be fine enough you can almost see through them. When the mixture has been evenly smoothed out pop in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to turn brown, and the centre is almost set.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, using a cookie cutter cut out circles from the tuile. Don’t worry about lifting them off the baking sheet just yet, just make sure you have cut all the way through the tuile (it’ll be quite sticky) and through to the paper. Then leave the sheet to cool on a wire rack. Once cool you should be able to lift the tuiles off the sheet with a knife. If the circles have extra bits of tuile still clinging to them these should snap off readily.

5. If you’re not using the tuiles straight away pack them away very carefully between layers of greaseproof paper. Be careful as they will be very fragile. The irregular bits of tuile left over can be eaten straight up, or used to decorate desserts.

Makes at least 6 or 7 baking sheets of tuile, and each baking sheet gave me 10 complete circles (though some snapped). If you have enough tuiles then pour the remaining mixture onto a lined baking sheet so it’s half an inch thick and bake for 10 minutes, until set in the middle. Cut this into little finger biscuits and serve with tea, coffee, or ice cream.

Written by guffblog

9th December 2010 at 19:29

Jam and cake

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Things I learned this week. One: If you bake a loaf of bread with poppy seeds on top, be prepared to get poppy seeds all over the kitchen. Oops.

Two. Always bring meat to room temperature before cooking it. If you’re making a steak dinner there’s no point focusing on the french fries/Hollandaise/veggies/mulled wine/guests if you end up serving steak that’s cold in the middle. Big oops. On the plus side, at least I won’t be doing that again for a very long time.

Three. You can use up odds and ends of jam or fruit sauce by putting it in a cake pan, before adding a very plain white sponge cake on top and voila, you have a fruit upside down cake, plus marginally emptier cupboards. Score. This particular concoction took less than 10 minutes to throw together (one-bowl recipes, always a winner) and a mere 25 minutes to bake. From start to eating, this was under an hour, and it’s a simple enough, plain enough cake, you can make it for no other reason than you felt like it. Plus, it has fruit jelly on top, so a slice counts as one of your five a day*.

Upside-down cranberry jelly cake
Inspired by Food in Jars; cake recipe from Healthy Gluten-free Eating

3 tablespoons cranberry jelly or other jam
70g butter, softened
90g white sugar
2 eggs
80g gf flour blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

2. Lightly grease the sides of a 7-inch sandwich tin. Spoon the cranberry jelly into the base of the tin and even out with the back of the spoon.

3. In a large bowl cream the butter together with the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Slowly stir in the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Pour the batter into the tin, on top of the jelly, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until lightly brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

4. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife round the edge of the pan and then invert the cake on a serving plate. Serve hot or cold with a cup of tea.

Keeps well in the fridge, though the cut edges will go stale very quickly; make sure you cover them with clingfilm or foil to prevent this as much as possible.


*Ok I’m not a nutritionist so this may not actually be true.

Written by guffblog

5th December 2010 at 19:47

Posted in Cakes

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