It’s the second week in December and I’ve only just made my first Christmas recipe. Biscuits and cookies make great gifts at Christmas and when I’m organised, I like to make a few of them. I’ve started with these gluten free chocolate pistachio biscotti as I want to get a few sent off in the post and biscotti are great for keeping well.
It’s always useful to have some simple but delicious and portable food up one’s sleeve for this time of year. Our British summers can be quite changeable and embarking on a picnic or al fresco dining is often a last minute affair. Higgidy quiches are ideal for these occasions, as is this orange ginger carrot salad, which fits the bill perfectly. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe.
There are few things more exciting than receiving a box of organic fruit and veg in the post when you’re not quite sure what will be in it. I received such a box recently from Delicado48 in Spain. One thing I was pretty certain of was that it would contain oranges and I was not disappointed. A beautifully fresh tasting orange kefir smoothie became our breakfast staple for the next few days.
Easter is fast approaching and as it gets ever nearer, my thoughts turn to chocolate, although to be fair, my thoughts are rarely far from this exquisite food of the gods. Over the years I’ve made many Easter chocolate cakes, some more child friendly than others. These ones, containing rather a lot of rum are definitely of the adult variety.
A couple of weeks ago The Book Shop, here in Liskeard, had a Books Are My Bag party with a local author coming in to read to the kids, music, a living statue in the window, jugglers and more. The colour for the event was orange, so what could I do but make some orange cakes?
It was a friend’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and we had been invited over for lunch. This was to be followed by a walk from Respryn Bridge at Lanhydrock to Duchy Nurseries so we could indulge in a cream tea. But first a cake was in order.
Some time ago, I received a set of chocolate making kits from Chocolate at Home. I made the milk chocolate truffles almost immediately and was impressed, both with the kit and the resulting chocolates. I was saving the other kits up for Christmas. With the party season in full swing, I was pretty sure there would be an occasion to use the Dessert Canapé Kit and I wasn’t wrong.
Sadly and rather frustratingly, both CT and I have been hit by the flu – a result of overcrowding on the trains I suspect and no easy escape from contagious fellow passengers. I can only assume that the old saying, “coughs and sneezes spread diseases” did for us. The result being a rather low key Christmas with no outings in site. Tomorrow our friends hold their annual Solstice dinner and I was saving the canapés for the occasion. Well, we can’t go now, but I’m hoping the canapés can.
This kit was just perfect in my time of need. Cooking and baking is still beyond me at the moment and if truth be told, I don’t fancy eating that much. I was able to make the canapés simply and easily, but still feel I had a hand in the creative process. Both the effort required and the washing up were minimal and I finished the task feeling a lot better than when I started. Contents:
- 15 chocolate canapé cups
- 100g dark chocolate mousse powder
- 40g caramelised hazelnuts
- 50g candied orange peel
- piping bag
Unlike the first kit, when I followed the exact instructions, I thought I’d add my own twist on this one; I created an orange and rhubarb flavoured chocolate mousse, with a bit of a kick to it. I added some organic orange zest and a little of my rhubarb liqueur.
This is how I made:
Orange and Rhubarb Chocolate Canapés
- Poured 125g milk into a bowl and added 1 tbsp rhubarb liqueur.
- Added the mousse powder and whisked briefly.
- Grated in the zest from half an organic orange and whisked again for a few minutes until the mousse was smooth and silky.
- Spooned the mousse into the fifteen chocolate cups provided. A piping bag was provided for this, but as my mousse wasn’t that firm due to the added liqueur, I didn’t think this bit necessary.
- Allowed the mousse to settle and firm up slightly, then removed the cups from their holder and placed on a serving platter.
- Decorated the mousse with the candied orange peel and caramelised hazelnuts provided, then dusted with a little edible glitter (not provided).
The mousse tasted like a sophisticated version of Angel Delight. It was very chocolatey and the orange and alcohol fortified without overwhelming. The chocolate cups were all set at a slight angle, giving an elegant tilt to proceedings and making for a stylish end to any feast.
It’s the last day of National Cupcake Week and I’m just getting in by the skin of my chinny chin chin. With the Great British Bake Off in full swing everyone seems to have gone baking mad. Home Bargains is one such and they have given me a helping hand with my cupcakes by sending a box full of baking goodies. Their brief was to create a Home Bargains showstopper.
With Easter fast approaching and any number of Easter bakes and posts to write, time was running out for this month’s Random Recipes. Now it just so happens that RR has joined forces with the new round of AlphaBakes and it has been decided to start at the very beginning this time, with the letter A. Using my usual Eat Your Books method of selection I came out with the book Pasties by Lindsey Bareham. I must confess at this point that I felt a bit jittery. I may well come from the Land of Pasties, but my pasty making skills lean towards the imperfect end of the spectrum. I was hoping the book would fail to provide me with a suitable recipe, but in this I was foiled. A recipe for plum pasties with almond cream leapt up from the index and my heart skipped a beat.
OK, no need to panic. In my usual style, I would adapt the recipe. My mother had made a recent delivery of some rhubarb from her garden (for some reason our plot seems incapable of growing any), so I would substitute that for the plums. I would add some grated white chocolate to the pastry, some orange zest to the almond cream and most importantly of all I was going to make one large pie, not six individual pasties – I really just didn’t have the time to faff around. My concession to the pasty would be to crimp the edges of the pie in true pasty style – hence the name pasty pie.
This is how I made:
Rhubarb and Almond Cream Pasty Pie
- Cut 150g cold unsalted butter into 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white) with a knife then rubbed it between my fingers until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Grated in 20g white chocolate.
- Mixed in 2 tbsp Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp water with a knife, then brought the mixture together with my hands to form a ball. Covered with a plastic bag and placed in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Creamed 100g unsalted butter with 100g cardamom (caster) sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 1 tsp powdered orange rind (or zest of an orange).
- Beat in a duck egg (or large hen’s egg).
- Stirred in 100g ground almonds.
- Washed, trimmed and chopped 350g of rhubarb into smallish pieces.
- Divided the pastry into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.
- Rolled the larger portion out into a round to cover a deep 20 cm pie dish.
- Covered the pastry bottom with the rhubarb, then covered the rhubarb with the almond cream.
- Rolled out the smaller piece of pastry to cover the top of the pie.
- Crimped the edges together, brushed on a little beaten egg mixed with milk and sprinkled about a dessertspoon of cardamom (caster) sugar over the top.
- Baked at 200C for 15 minutes, then turned the oven down to 180C for a further 20 minutes until the top was nicely browned.
So how did it all work out? It was pure heaven and although you couldn’t expect an angel to bring this down from on high during Lent, it sent CT and I into raptures. It was a truly indulgent dessert. I’ve not made pastry with white chocolate and yogurt before, but I will most certainly be doing it again. The rhubarb cut through the rich creamy filling and it all hung together very nicely.
It just so happened that I’d recently had delivery of a bag of Rodda’s goodies which I’d won in their #crownyourpuds competition for my Chocolate Pots. So to crown my rhubarb and almond cream pasty pie, sat a dollop of Cornish clotted cream. Show me a pudding that isn’t improved by clotted cream and I’ll eat it, quipped CT – a man after my own heart.
So this Rhubarb and Almond Cream Pasty Pie is my entry to the joint Random Recipes and Alphabakes challenge with A for Almond. Dom of Belleau Kitchen, Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes have put their heads together this month and come up with this fun and clever challenge.
As everything is made from scratch, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.