Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Croquembouche

Starting out again, the May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I tried. At the very least, it tasted delicious. Although my original plans to make an arch rather than a tower fell through as My sugar support beams wouldn't do their job. Oh well. It still tasted delicious, even if it was a little on the small side, tower-wise, as I had made an Arch sized batch. Both caramel and vanilla flavoured creme patissiere fillings were used.

The Recipes:

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere
2 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. cornflour
200 g. sugar
2 large egg
4 large egg yolks
60 g. unsalted butter
2 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

To make caramel creme, I added A shot of monin caramel syrup to the vanilla mix.

Pate a Choux (I got 21 from this recipe)
175 ml. water
85 g. unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
125 g. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time, stirring each in completely before adding the next.

Pipe the choux in 1 inch size mounds onto a baking paper lined tray. flatten tops with finger to make them round. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately. (I didn't, because I like darker, burntish caramel. It does get very hard though)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pumpkin, Pearl Barley and Pine Mushroom risotto

Final update for the day, I promise! This is a Pumpkin, Pine Mushroom and Pearl Barley risotto. pearl barley instead of arborio rice works marvellously. You need to stir it far less than rice, but it does take a while longer to get to the right mouth feel.

Pine mushrooms are giant orange things, look a little scary, you need to brush the pine needles off and slice them up, fry them before adding to the risotto (I put them in right at the end of this one). They taste wild (wild as in not farmed, that is). It is pretty good.

So I diced and roasted the pumpkin, began the risotto with an onion and some garlic, a cup of pearl barley and a glass of wine. Used a chicken stock as the water, kept adding as the barley soaked up the liquid (standard risotto stylings). Towards the end add roast pumpkin. At the very end, add pine mushroom (that you have sliced and cooked in some butter in a medium heat frypan beforehand).

Served on rocket with parmesan.

2x2 peoples worth:
1 cup pearl barley
1 glass wine
Chicken stock (as needed)
1 large white onion
6 cloves garlic
1 large pine mushroom
400gm pumpkin, diced.

Rocket to serve

A slow cooked black bean stew

We bought a new slow cooker a little while ago. When the last lot of essays came in I had an excuse to stay home and put in some serious hours marking. This, conveniently enough, gave me time to watch over the slow cooker as it spent eight hours turning a motley collection of black beans, onions, chorizo and bacon into a delicious aromatic stew.

In a slow cooker, this type of thing is ludicrously easy. No need to do anything at all to the meat or veges, just in the cooker and ignore for a few hours. So here is the recipe (open to any tweaking you desire):

2 large brown onions, roughly chopped.
2 spicy chorizo, roughly chopped
Garlic - half a head or so, chopped.
2 cups dried black beans (Soaked overnight in water, drained)
Mushrooms (couple of cups of tiny brown buttons in this case, but whatever you want will do)
2 cans chopped tomatoes
150gm good bacon (buy a chunk, cut it into wedges)
Spices (paprika, chilli, some hot sauce, salt and pepper)
4-5 cups of beef stock (use low salt stuff if you can, the saltiness builds up in this dish)

Eat with cornbread (Recipe from a friend who I know doesn't mind me sharing it, but who might not want her name on a blog, so...)

3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten

In a large bowl measure cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and
salt. Blend well. Add buttermilk and butter slowly. Pour in eggs. Stir
only enough to blend the mixture thoroughly. Pour into 9 x 9 x 2,
baking pan (greased) and level with a spoon or spatula.

Bake in 400 degree preheated oven until the bread tests done when
pierced with a metal skewer, wooden toothpick, or the blade of a
knife. If it comes out clean and dry, the corn bread is done. Cut into

I found this too sweet the first time, so drastically reduced the sugar content. Still works, but you might want to play with it until you find a balance you like.


So it turns out that I am at least partially competent, and succeeded in making a pavlova that looks almost worthy of the name. Here are two pictures, the whole and a slice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge!

Ok, and here we go for the month. Recipe was brought to us by Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food. They have chosen a Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

I have fiddled with bits and pieces of it because some of the ingredients were hard to get in Melbourne. In particular, where the original recipe below calls for Anaheim chiles, I used whatever the right sized ones were from Vic market, and my tomatillos were canned.

1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles)- roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely. Ot
7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium)
4 cups Chicken stock
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons brown onion, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Cornflour (dissolved in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
El Yucateca hot sauce.
2 Boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm).
6 ounces Mexican cheese, grated (just asked at Casa Iberica for a good one - important it is melty)
Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional

Burn and peel the skins of the chiles, on a gas burner or with a kitchen blowtorch. Cool, peel and chop. Add with chopped tomatillos (canned ones don't need prep) to a pot with the stock onion, garlic, salt, pepper. Boil and reduce for 10 minutes, then add cornflour mix and reduce more, for 15 mins or so. Add some hot sauce for a kick.

Grill and cool then shred chicken breasts. Stack tortilla's (I'm assuming you have precooked ones) by layering first sauce, then a tortilla, then sauce, chicken and cheese, then tortilla, then chicken, cheese and sauce... Until you have the requisite stack height (3-4). Final layer should be cheese and sauce. Bake 20 mins or so, let rest for 5-10. Eat.