Fresh Pasta and Tagliatelle all'Amatriciana

 Fresh Tagliatelle all’Amatriciana with grated pecorino cheese

J & I have started a love affair with our new Marcato Atlas 150 pasta machine. Like two eager kids we attacked pasta making with excitement; taking ‘me, me, me’! turns at cranking out long strands of pasta. Gone are the days of rolling out noodle/pasta dough with a rolling pin and then painstakingly cutting up the dough that never seemed to be thin enough, into equal sized strands (which is quite backbreaking for me). Although there’s some waiting time involved, the results are worth it! The pasta tastes so fresh, silky and has a great bite to it! I have been obsessing about sugo all’Amatriciana this entire week so that’s my sauce of choice to accompany our fresh pasta. Traditionally, sugo all’Amatriciana is made up of “guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese and tomato” but I’ve tasted a version many years ago which incorporated black olives and chilli flakes tossed through rigatoni pasta hence I’m partial to these additional ingredients; gotta jazz it up a little! I’ve used bacon here because I love that smoky flavour. It’s still a simple sauce but the flavours are beautiful especially with a splash of robust, grassy extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkling of pecorino cheese. Perfect for a weekend lunch!

I’m already concocting plans for our new toy; having thoughts about osso bucco ravioli, sweet potato pappardelle, Aunty Jane’s lasagne and even fresh filo pastry for baklava and börek. Bring it on - yeeeeehaaaaa!

Everday Quick Pasta Recipe
(adapted from Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef)
serves 5-6

500 g strong pasta flour (Tipo ’00′) (’00′ flour is superior for fresh egg pastas but you may substitute with plain flour if ’00′ is unavailable)
5 fresh, large free-range eggs ( I used 60 g eggs at room-temperature)
semolina flour for dusting ( I just used the same flour for dusting)

Making the dough (use any of the 3 following methods)

Stage 1- By hand

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork, break up the eggs slightly as you bring in the flour from the sides. As it begins to form a semi-soft dough, start using your hands. Work the dough hard for about 3 minutes or until smooth, silky and elastic. Wrap it in clingfilm and allow it to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

Stage 1 – In a mixer

Use a dough hook on the mixer. Add the flour to the eggs/yolks and mix at a medium speed for about 3 minutes or until it forms a tight dough. Take it out of the mixer and finish kneading by hand for about a minute or until smooth, silky and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

Stage 1 – In a food processor

Plonk it all in and turn it on. Within 30 seconds, it should look like chewy-looking breadcrumbs. Leave it just a little longer to allow it to start working the gluten. It should now start to come together into larger balls of dough. Take it all out ( the bowl should be clean) and work by hand for 2 minutes or until smooth, silky and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and allow it to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

NOTES

  • The general rule of thumb for a basic pasta recipe is 1 egg per 100 g flour.
  •  If the mixture is too dry, you may add some water. Likewise, if it’s too soft, add some flour. A good mixture should never stick to your fingers.

Rolling the pasta into sheets

I followed the instructions that came with our Marcato Atlas 150 pasta machine:

  • Cut the rested dough into 4 portions and roll out the dough one piece at a time; keeping the remaining dough covered at all times (Oops! I forgot to cover mind, so the last piece dried out a little)
  • Set the machine regulator (knob) to position 1 (this is the thickest setting) so that the two smooth rollers are completely open.
  • Pass a piece of pasta dough through the machine, turning the handle; repeat this operation 5-6 times, folding the dough over and adding some flour to the middle if necessary.
  • When the dough has taken a regular shape, pass it through the rollers once only with the regulators set on number 2, then once again on number 3 continuing until you obtain the desired thickness (I stopped at number 5 which gave me a pasta thickness of approximately 2mm.  Number 9 is the finest setting at approximately 0.2mm)
  • With a knife, cut the dough crossways in pieces approximately 25 cm long.
  • Insert the handle in the hole for the tagliatelle/fettucine cutting rollers, turn it slowly and pass the dough through. (You might need a second person to help catch the cut pasta strands at the other end)
  • Place the pasta on a table-cloth and leave it to dry for at least an hour. (I  hung mine on a pasta drying hanger)

rolled pasta sheet ready to be cut into Tagliatelle strands

 Tagliatelle hanging on a pasta drying rack

Foodsze’s Tagliatelle with Sugo all’Amatriciana

Ingredients

200 g streaky bacon rashes (or pancetta), roughly chopped
2 large brown onions OR 3 small onions, sliced
170 g tomato paste
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons or 70 g pitted kalamata olives, halved
handful of Italian, flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons light olive oil
380 ml water
2 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
salt, to taste
1/2 – 1 teaspoons chilli flakes (or to your liking)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to dress the pasta (a full bodied, grassy &  fruity oil goes well with this)
Pecorino cheese, grated to serve
fresh tagliatelle ( or you can substitute with dry pasta if you wish but follow the cooking instructions listed on the back of the packet)

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to the boil ( I roughly dump in 1 - 2 tablespoons of rock salt into 6 litres boiling water)
  2. Whilst waiting for the water to boil, heat up the light olive oil in a separate pan; add the chopped bacon (or pancetta) and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes to render the fat or until fragrant; add in the sliced onions, reduce to medium heat and sweat them until softened (about 5 minutes); stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute; add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes; gradually stir in the water, then the olives; put a lid on and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Season with sugar, salt and chilli flakes to taste; turn off heat and stir through the finely chopped parsley.
  4. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling salted water and cook until al dente (to the bite). (I cooked my 2mm thick tagliatelle for about 2 minutes in two batches)
  5. Strain the pasta and toss through the sugo all’Amatriciana.
  6. Serve warm with a splash of robust extra virgin olive oil and a generous dose of grated pecorino (the cheese makes all the difference so don’t skimp on this  ;-) )

NOTE:

I used all the fresh pasta from the above recipe but if you prefer a saucier pasta, you can hold back a small portion of the uncooked tagliatelle, dust this with a bit of flour and keep this in an air-tight container or bag stored in the fridge. Use within 4 days.

Dig in!

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Lamb & Rosemary Pies

These days, I am extremely fickle when it comes to meal ideas. With massive cravings and nightly food-related dreams (I kid you not), I just could not decide on what to cook but in most cases, convenience and ingredients on hand dictate what I eventually end up cooking. So yesterday I thawed some frozen lamb and considered making an African dish I cooked a few years ago called Liboké de Viande (Meat in Banana-Leaf) but I ran out of peanuts and didn’t feel like having any rice to accompany the flavoursome dish . With fresh rosemary, carrots and onions on hand, I settled for classic lamb and rosemary pies; recipe sourced from Taste.com.au. As I did not have 600 grams of diced lamb, I substituted the variance with diced potatoes. I think there were some errors on the recipe with the quantity of puff pastry sheets required but as with most home-cooking, nothing’s set in stone so you adjust accordingly; in this case, I used 3 instead of 2 pastry sheets and there was a lot of pastry patchwork involved! This rough-and-tumble approach to the pastry produced a rustic looking pie. They were delicious with a simple salad on the side dressed in nothing but balsamic vinegar and very good extra virgin olive oil.

Lamb & Rosemary Pies
(adapted from recipe on Taste.com.auItems in italics are additional notes)
serves 4 ( I made 5 pies)  

Ingredients

3 sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
600g diced lamb leg, cut into 2cm pieces (or 400 g diced lamb + 200 g desiree potatoes, diced into 2 cm pieces)
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
cracked black pepper, to taste (not too much so it doesn’t overpower the lamb and rosemary flavours)
olive oil cooking spray
2 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, partially thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
optional – nigella seeds to decorate

Method

  1. Remove leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs. Cut remaining sprig into 4. Set aside. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add lamb. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until browned. Remove to a plate.
  2. Add onion, garlic, carrot and rosemary leaves to pan. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tender. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Combine tomato paste, wine and stock in a jug. Add to pan. Cook, stirring, until sauce
    comes to the boil. Return lamb (and add diced potatoes if using)  to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until lamb is tender. (if mixture looks too thick, you can thin it down with a little more beef stock; taste and adjust seasoning and cracked black pepper accordingly). Set aside to cool. (Do not fill pastry cases with hot filling as the pastry will become soggy)
  3. Preheat oven to 200°C. Spray four 3/4-cup capacity Texas muffin holes with oil. Cut two 15cm rounds and two 9cm rounds from each pastry sheet. Use large rounds to line muffin holes. Fill with lamb mixture. Brush edges with water. Top with remaining pastry rounds. Press edges to seal. Brush tops with egg. Press in rosemary sprigs (and a sprinkling of nigella seeds if using). (you will need at least 3 puff pastry sheets; to prevent wastage, you can use the pastry offcuts to line the remaining 2-3 muffin holes; patch any holes or gaps to prevent the filling from leaking)
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around pie edges to loosen. Remove from pan. Serve.

Notes

  • To freeze: Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Place, in a single layer, in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.
  • To reheat: Thaw in the fridge for 12 hours. Place pies on a baking tray and heat in a 180°C oven for 15 minutes.

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Bourke Street Bakery's Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins

Oh M Gee! I am so excited! I can feel it- the morning sickness phase is starting to dissipate, oh but I have a nagging suspicion the ferocious appetite and cravings are settling in. The past four weeks have been an absolute *toot* *toot* nightmare!  My body has never been assailed with so many unfamiliar aches and pains and ‘praying to the porcelain altar’ three to four times a day is not exactly my idea of fun! Add in heartburn, indigestion and heightened senses which had me screwing up my nose at four brands of shampoo and handwash and a constant bitter taste in my mouth plus extreme fatigue, I HAD IT REAL BAD!

Despite all the groaning, I AM thrilled about becoming a mommy! J has been nothing short of amazing and supportive; all that running around to get a myriad of weird and wonderful foodstuff and being an absorbent shoulder to soak up tears that seem to just burst out from nowhere; raging hormones it seems :)

So far I have not craved for anything sweet; it’s been savoury all the way until today. My baking mojo has completely flown out the window since we got the good news, so to be able to bake today, albeit the humble muffin is a welcomed change from spending days on end kowtowing to er..said altar.. :P

I had chocolate and frozen raspberries so a quick flick through the pages of my Bourke Street Bakery cookbook and it was decided – Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins which are apparently their best selling muffins. “Warm from the oven when the chocolate is still soft these muffins are a real treat”

Needless to say, I attacked the warm muffins with great relish and if not wanting to run to the loo immediately is any indication, the beginning of the end of morning sickness is near <fingers crossed>

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins
(from Bourke Street Bakery: The Ultimate Baking Companion)
(makes 12) ~I made 12 regular muffins and 6 jumbo muffins (it’s better in jumbo size)

Ingredients

400 g (14 oz/ 2 2/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
300 g (10 1/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
310 g (11 oz) unsalted butter
480 ml (16 3/4 fl oz) buttermilk
3 eggs
225 g (8 oz) dark chocolate (55% cocoa), roughly chopped
225 g (8 oz) raspberries, washed
55 g (2 oz/ 1/4 cup) raw (demerara) sugar
icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190oC (375oF/Gas 5). Lightly grease two large 6-hole muffin tins and line with paper cases.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar, mixing well to combine.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Using a whisk, stir in the eggs to combine. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine – don’t worry if there are still some lumps of flour at this stage. Use a large spoon to gently fold through the chocolate and raspberries.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin holes. Sprinkle the tops with the raw sugar. Reduce the oven temperature to 180oC (350oF/ Gas 4) and bake for 25-30 minutes. It may be necessary to drop the temperature about 10 minutes before the end of baking time if the muffins are starting to brown on top. To test if the muffins are done, push the top gently to feel that is is firm and turn one out of the tray and see that the bottom has coloured.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before eating. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

 

 

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I'm back! with Spanish Churros

No I didn’t disappear to some exotic island but sometime after my last entry in May, I found myself hurled into a whirlwind of The Busy; family flew over for an impromptu visit, completing the final hurdle of Cert III Patisserie, birthday and wedding cake orders, and a new small business venture handmaking toys and how that sucked up all my cooking and blogging time. Procrastination soon grew into a permanent molehill; at least until recently when delicious crisp homemade spanish churros zapped me out of my two month foodsze amnesia! These are simple and quick to make; ingredients are minimal but stirring the stiff flour paste and then squeezing it out through a piping bag requires muscles! I had the paste in a disposable plastic piping bag at first and it split before I even got the first squeeze out, so make sure you use a sturdy polyester bag. Dust these deep-fried spanish doughnuts with icing sugar, sprinkle a touch of cinnamon or better still dip them in some luxurious melted chocolate and you’ve saved yourself a trip to San Churros :-D

SPANISH CHURROS
(adapted from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible)
Makes 8-10 14cm long churros

Ingredients

250 ml water
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt, plus extra for coating
175 g plain flour
1 egg (I used 2 x 60g eggs)
oil, for deep-frying
1/2 lime or lemon

Method

  1. Pour the measured water into a heavy pan, add the sugar and salt and bring to the boil over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, tip in the flour and beat until smooth (requires quite a bit of strength, the dough should come away from the sides of the pan. Leave to cool slightly for approximately 15 minutes before beating in the eggs)
  2. Beat in the egg(s) (one at a time)  until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Set aside.
  3. Heat 5 – 6 cm depth of oil with the lime or lemon in a deep-frying pan to 190oC or until a cube of bread browns in 30-60 seconds.
  4. Pour the batter into a large piping (pastry) bag with a fluted nozzle ( I used a 2 cm star-shaped nozzle). Pipe 7.5 cm strips (I made mine 14 cm long) of batter into the hot oil. (Use a small knife to dislodge the paste from the tip of the nozzle). Fry a few at a time for 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove, drain on kitchen paper and roll in granulated sugar.  ( Or you could simply dust with icing sugar, pinch of cinnamon or melt 200 g of good quality chocolate to serve with the churros)
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Lamb Kofta with Mint and Coriander Chutney on Wholemeal and Besan Roti

I LOVE spices!  Particularly those of the indian and middle eastern variety. You can liken my kitchen pantry to a spice bazaar. Having compiled a list (just so I could keep track of what’s in my pantry) I have:-

  • Amchur (mango powder)
  • Asafoetida (Hing)
  • Bay Leaves ( ok, they should be under herbs but I use the dried leaves for home-blended garam masala)
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Cardamon Pods (green and black)
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chilli Powder
  • Cinnamon (bark, stick and ground)
  • Cloves
  • Coriander Seeds (whole and ground)
  • Cumin Seeds (whole and ground)
  • Curry Powders (assorted for meat, poultry and fish)
  • Dried Chillies
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Fenugreek Seeds
  • Five Spice
  • Garam Masala
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Nigella Seeds
  • Paprika
  • Saffron Threads
  • Star Anise
  • Turmeric

So, am I a consummate spice lover? You betcha!  With such an array of aromatics, even the simplest dish can be transformed into something magnificent. Take this Turmeric Chicken dish for instance; minimal ingredients and fuss-free cooking - perfect when you can’t be stuffed cooking an elaborate meal. I do love my meat but I can be a very happy vegetarian when there’s such an abundance of spices to liven up some of my favourite pulses (lentils and beans) and vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, okra, pumpkin, aloo (potatoes), cauliflowers and more!

Whenever I cook with spices, the meal is often a labour of love; I find it all very therapeautic, be it roasting the spices to release their intoxicating perfume and then bashing them into smithers, stewing or braising spice-rich curries, blending up an accompanying chutney or cooling raita with a few spices tossed through and there’s the making of rotis and parathas as well – so warming and comforting.

These lamb koftas are delicious; the flavours of warming spices and green chillies are balanced and yoghurt imparts a tang as well as a tenderising effect on the lamb mince. As winter approaches and my mint leaves are getting punier by the week, a mint and coriander chutney is in order; luckily my coriander patch is thriving robustly. The chutney complements the meaty koftas so well and to complete our meal, I improvised a wholemeal and besan (chickpea flour) roti.

wholemeal and besan (chickepea) flour roti/flat bread

roughly break the koftas to make wrapping easier

Lamb Kofta with Mint & Coriander Chutney
(adapted from ‘A Little Taste of India’)

1 small onion, roughly chopped
5 cm (2 inch) piece of ginger, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 green chillies, seeded and roughly chopped (I used 1 large green chilli)
15 g (1/2 cup) coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 tablespoons thick plain yoghurt (I used greek yoghurt)
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced lamb
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (I toasted cumin seeds and ground them to a powder)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander ( I toasted whole coriander seeds and ground them to a powder)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 – 4 tablespoons oil

  1. Blend the onion, ginger, garlic, chopped chilli and the coriander leaves together in a food processor until they form a paste. If you don’t have a food processor, use a mortar and pestle, or finely chop everything together with a knife. Add yoghurt to the paste and mix well.
  2. Put the lamb in a bowl, add the paste and mix by hand, kneading the ingredients into the meat until thoroughly combined. Add all the spices, and the salt and pepper, and mix again to distribute evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to allow the flavours to develop and also to make the mixture firmer and therefore easier to handle.
  3. Wet your hands and roll small handfuls (about a heaped tablespoon) of the mince mixture into small balls (wetting hands prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands). You should have about 30-40 meatballs (I rolled mine slightly larger)
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. When hot, but not smoking, add 10 meatballs in a single layer. Brown on all sides by gently shaking the pan for 2 – 3 minutes. Don’t be tempted to turn them over with a spoon or they may break up. Test a kofta by breaking it open. If it is cooked through, there should be no pink meat inside. If the meat is still pink, cook for another minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Mint and coriander chutney is the perfect accompaniment but other chutneys are also suitable.

Mint and Coriander Chutney
(adapted from ‘A Little Taste of India’)

30 g (1 1/2 cups) mint leaves
30 g (1 1/2 cups) coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 green chilli (small)
1 tablespoon tamarind puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons thick plain yoghurt ( greek yoghurt is perfect )

  1. Wash the mint and coriander leaves. Discard any tough stalks but keep the young soft ones for flavour.
  2. Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor, or chop everything finely and pound it together in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Taste the chutney and add more salt if necessary.

Note: If you want a creamier, milder chutney, stir in the yoghurt ( instead of blending it with the other ingredients)

Wholemeal and Besan (Chickpea) Flour Roti

140 g wholemeal flour
60 g plain flour
50 g besan (Chickpea) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons oil
125 ml lukewarm/tepid water

  1. Sift the flours, salt and chilli powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the oil and water and mix to form a soft pliable dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl; cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 4 – 5 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball evenly to a circle about 1 – 2 mm thick. Cover with a cloth to prevent dough from drying out.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan until hot, cook one roti at a time. Cook each side for 1 minute; turn and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes (you can press lightly with a tea-towel. It will puff up slightly).  Cook until you see a smattering of brown patches on the roti.
  4. Remove the roti and keep warm, wrapped in aluminium foil while you cook the remaining rotis.
  5. Serve warm with a smear or ghee or butter.
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Sticky Date Pudding (with Ginger) and Butterscotch Sauce

Warm Ginger Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce, garnished with chopped pistachios

Warm and luscious butterscotch-sauce soaked sticky date pudding; the only consolation for the misery I’ve been feeling (and still do) for the past 2 days. Something I did must have triggered an old neck injury. I can neither look up or down without wincing and turning my head to the left is well, an absolute PAIN IN THE NECK! I’m just resting up now but any more of this pain and it’s a definite trip to the physio.

Neck pain aside, this is a simple but very delicious rendition of Sticky Date Pudding from the pages of ‘COOK’ by Australian Women’s Weekly. However, I did modify the method i.e. creaming the butter and sugar then eggs prior to folding in the date mixture as opposed to the all-in-mixing method of the recipe. I also added a few personal touches like a spoonful of grated ginger to give it a spicy kick, added vanilla extract and a bit more sweetness to the butterscotch sauce and baked it in a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan over a water bath so it’s got that steam-bake action in the oven (for added moistness). The recipe actually mentions baking it in a  20 cm round cake pan; you can do that and cut the cake into slices before drizzling on the butterscotch sauce or you could use dariole moulds for individual puddings (which was what I was aiming for except I don’t own dariole moulds, hence the giant muffin pan). A pinch of salt enhances the butterscotch sauce. This decadent hot dessert is best enjoyed with generous lashings of caramel sauce oozing down and through the recesses of the warm pudding. Simply gorgeous!

Sticky date pudding drizzled with cold (thickened) butterscotch sauce, which eventually soaks through the hot pudding

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce
(recipe adapted from ‘Cook’: Australian Women’s Weekly. Grated ginger, salt and vanilla extract were personal touches to the recipe and method modified from all-in-mixing to creaming method)

1 1/4 cups (275 g) seeded dried dates
1 1/4 cups (310 ml) boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50 g butter, chopped and softened
1/2 cup (110 g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup (150 g) self-raising flour

optional
2 cm piece ginger, finely grated

Butterscotch Sauce

3/4 cup (165 g) firmly packed brown sugar (See Note)
300 ml cream (I used thickened cream)
80 g butter
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to moderate (180oC/160oC fan-forced). Grease a deep 20 cm-round cake pan; line base with baking paper OR if using, grease a 6 cup jumbo-sized muffin pan.
  2. Combine dates and the boiling water  in a food processor. Stir in bicarbonate of soda; cover with lid, stand 5 minutes; roughly process the date mixture.
  3. With electric beaters, cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add in the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Fold in the date mixture, grated ginger and flour until well combined.
  4. If using the 20 cm round cake pan, pour in the batter then set the cake pan into a larger pan or roasting tray; fill with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the 20 cm cake pan and bake uncovered in preheated oven for about 1 hour or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
  5. If using the 6 cup jumbo muffin pan, divide the batter into each well-greased muffin cup; place into a larger pan or roasting tray; fill with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the muffin pan. Grease a sheet of aluminium foil and cover the muffin pan loosely (greased-side against the puddings). Bake in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
  6. Make the butterscotch sauce; stir the brown sugar, butter, cream and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat until sauce is smooth and thickened slightly. Add in the pinch of salt (or to taste)
  7. To serve, stand the 20 cm cake for 10 minutes; turn onto serving plate. Serve warm with butterscotch sauce.
  8. If using the jumbo sized muffin pan, let the puddings cool for about 30 minutes before unmoulding (as hot puddings are fragile and will fall apart if you unmould it immediately). To unmould, run a small knife around the muffin cups then overturn them gently onto a baking tray. To serve, place an individual pudding onto a microwave-safe plate; drizzle on a generous amount of butterscotch sauce and microwave on high for about 20 seconds.

Note:

  • I added 80 g more brown sugar for a richer, sweeter sauce bringing the total sugar amount in the sauce to 245 g. Adjust sweetness to your liking. 

devoured with pleasure

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Pork Ribs and White Radish Soup

Melbourne’s more than chilly weather off late makes me crave for soup. Hot, heart-warming nourishing soup! I think I’m the hibernating kind when temperatures plummet to brrrrrrrfreezing cold (for me at least); my appetite is unusually suppressed during the winter season. It’s the perfect time for soups, stews, roasts, carbs, lots of warm bread and puddings but all I want to do is hibernate (tsk tsk tsk..such a bear). You see, where possible, J and I try to conserve energy and keep tabs on our power usage and yes the bill, hence we rarely turn on the heater (unless my fingers and toes are on the verge of falling off) so having to pile on jackets, scarves and a thick pillow-soft robe means I’m in some state of stupor and all I want to do is count the ZZZZZzzzzs.

White Radish, Coriander from the garden and Red Dates

The heavy pots and casserole dishes will reemerge from their cabinet hideout and soon our home kitchen will be filled with wafts of french onion soup, spicy pumpkin, creamy broccoli and cauliflower soups, sweat-inducing seafood tom yum, tom kha gai (broth of chicken, galangal, lemongrass and coconut milk) and plenty more. That temptress Sticky Date Pudding is definitely singing her siren song and messing with my head right now; gorgeous caramelly dates in a warm cake cocoon drenched in silky lick-your-spoon-clean butterscotch sauce <earth to foodsze earth foodsze..hello..pork rib soup? remember? knock knock>

White Radish

Oh yes, back to my pork rib and white radish soup, this chinese-style soup has a clean flavour where maximum sweetness and flavour comes just from the pork ribs, a handful of red dates, white radish and coriander roots. Seasoning is minimal with fish sauce instead of salt and white pepper to taste. It is dead easy and I’ve simmered mine for 2 hours on the stove but this can be easily thrown together in a slow-cooker before you head to work and the soup’s ready and waiting when you get home. Ok. let’s get rolling; this mama only has sexy sticky date pudding on her mind right now! Whatever happened to all the nonsense up the top about suppressed appetite? Well, when sticky date pudding’s involved, resistance is futile. Stay tuned!

Pork Ribs & White Radish Soup

900 g meaty pork ribs
1 large white radish (mine was about 700g), cut into batons or rough chunks
120 g red dates
4 coriander roots & stems, washed clean (keep the leaves for garnishing)
3 litres water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
white pepper to taste
salt, to taste

  1. In a pot, cover pork ribs in cold water then bring to the boil; boil for 5 minutes to remove the scum that surfaces; rinse out the pork ribs with cold water then return this to the clean, washed pot.
  2. Add the 3 litres of water, red dates, coriander roots and stems to the pork ribs; bring to the boil then simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Add in the white radish batons/chunks and fish sauce and continue simmering for another 1 hour until meat is very tender.
  4. Season with white pepper and salt to taste; garnish with coriander leaves.

Note:
If using a slow-cooker, complete step 1 i.e. remove the grey-ish pork scum then chuck all ingredients in the slow-cooker and hit the ON button ;-)   

~Slurp~ 

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