Homemade Sauté Apple Tart

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This Apple Tart is really quite delicious, I’ve taken it from this recipe book called Patisserie by Leonard J Hanneman. The shortcrust pastry is actually quite easy to make and comes out great too. The recipe is broken into three parts but all are manageable and not out of anyone’s experience.  I recommend baking the shortcrust pastry first, then Apple Saute, and lastly the almond filling because the filling doesn’t require it to be cooled to room temperature.

Checkout the recipe I’ve used below: (The changes I made to the recipe are in brackets and italics)

Sweet Shortcrust Dough (123 Pastry)
Yield: 650 g pastry

Ingredients
200 g unsalted butter
100 g caster sugar (50 g sugar)
50 g egg (1 x 55 g egg)
300 g plain flour
pinch of salt

Method
1. Cream the butter and sugar lightly, using the paddle attachment.
2. Add the egg and continue creaming until absorbed.
3. Carefully fold in the flour and salt, mixing only until combined. The dough will be very sticky, and more like a biscuit paste. Wrap in plastic and chill prior to use.
4. Cut the chilled dough into manageable sized pieces, knead lightly first to soften, then roll out using dusting flour.

How to Blind Bake
1. Take a chilled pastry case. For a quicker chill, the freezer works wonders.
2. Place a piece of non-stick baking paper into the pastry case, then line it with foil, pressing the foil flush with the base of the pastry case and up the sides.
3. Fill with baking weights of beans, ensuring that the weights press up along the sides to support the walls. There can be fewer weights over the centre of the pastry. It is important to have sufficient weights to support the sides as it is the sides that will slump as the pastry heats during the baking process.
4. Blind bake the pastry at 170°C for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the thickness and the size of the cases.

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Here is the apple tart recipe below (and a slice of the tart above):

Sauté Apple Tart

Yield: 1 x 28 cm tart lined with 123 pastry, prebaked

Ingredients
6 apples, Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
60 g unsalted butter (Cooking margarine)
1 x 28 x 2cm or 2 x 16 x 2cm tart cases lined with sweet shortcrust and blind baked
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract)
60 g sugar (30 g sugar)
almond filling (below)

Method
1. Peel and core the apples; cut into 8 wedges
2. Melt the unsalted butter and add the vanilla pod (or cinnamon). Over high heat saute the apples in the butter and sprinkle over the sugar. Toss as they cook to a golden brown, though still firm. Do not overcook. Set aside to cool.

Almond Filling

Ingredients
80 g unsalted butter
60 g sugar (30 g)
120 g almond meal
100 g egg (2 x 55 g eggs)

Method
1. Cream the butter, sugar and almond meal, add the eggs and continue mixing until absorbed and the mixture is light and pale.
2. Spread the almond filling into the pre-baked and cold shortcrust shell/s.
3. Nestle the cool saute apples into the almond filling, wedges facing upward rather than fanned, to create height.
4. Bake at 170C for 50 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Impressions

I like this recipe because the shortcrust is nicely short and has a nice bite to it but overall it melts in your mouth like it should. The almond meal adds this grainy texture to the overall tart, however if you don’t like this more ‘whole wheat’ kinda taste then you can try food processing the almond meal a few times, and maybe sieve it as well so it comes out much finer.

Overall it’s a good recipe that is easy enough to make, the only trouble you may have is with rolling out the pastry dough in a warm environment. It can get soft and unmanageable very easily. So if it does become too soft when you start rolling it flat and trying to place it into the case, either place it in the fridge or freezer to let it harden up a bit and try again.

Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps

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Ginger snaps or even ginger cookies are one of my favourite little treats. It’s quite funny though since I have a strong dislike for ginger in general, whether it’s raw, in a stir fry, congee, steamed fish etc. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com a few Christmas’s ago and have made it a couple times now and I like it because it feels ‘healthier’ even though wholemeal/wheat flour isn’t really all that much better for you considering the other ingredients in these cookies. I’ve made a few changes as I didn’t have a few of the ingredients and to make it less sugary sweet.

Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps (Allrecipes)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Makes: 5 dozen (60 cookies)

Ingredients

1 cup butter or margarine (Slightly less)
3/4 cup white sugar (Caster sugar)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup molasses (Slightly less)
4 cups whole wheat flour (Wholemeal flour)
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Extra sugar for the topping

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs, and then the molasses. Combine the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, and  cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture just until blended.

3. Roll the dough into small balls, and dip the top of each ball into the remaining white sugar. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are cracked. Bake longer for crispy cookies, less time for chewy cookies. Cool on wire racks.

 

Impressions:

I like this recipe because these cookies are nice and crunchy and you get a nice cinnamon and ginger taste that isn’t particularly overpowering. These cookies aren’t like your usual ginger snaps that are wafer thin and ‘melts-in-the-mouth’ since it doesn’t contain icing sugar and it has wholemeal flour for that grainy texture.

Just a warning though, the cookie dough is extremely sticky because of the molasses so it’s quite difficult to shape but somehow they all turned out round.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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My sister gave me a link to a Red Velvet Cupcake recipe from Amy’s Food Adventures, in which she has adapted her recipe from the Food Network Canada. Apparently, I’m her guinea pig for recipes she finds. We had a gathering coming up and I thought, why the hey.

I had Red Velvet cupcakes a couple of times, the most famous one being Magnolia’s in New York and that was pretty darn good actually.

I was pretty interested in this recipe because it lacks butter, I’m assuming that’s the case with all Red Velvet cupcakes but I was keen to try it out after I realised that.

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This recipe uses a lot of red food colouring. A bit more than half of the food colouring bottle to give it that vibrant red colour.IMG_6455

 

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe to my liking, with **. With the icing, I found it to bit a tad plain, so I added more lemon juice and zest to it to give it a really nice freshness to the whole cupcake and icing. The icing was pretty much a trial and error so I can’t remember the exact measurements, but if you want it slightly more lemony just keep adding some more juice until you feel it’s right.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes
Yield: 24

Ingredients
Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of sugar (375 ml) *3/4 cup to 1 cup*
1 1/2 cups canola oil (375 ml)
1 cup of plain yogurt (250 ml)
2 tablespoons red food coloring (30 ml)
1 teaspoon vinegar (5 ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 ml)
2 1/2 cups of flour (625 ml) *plain flour for cakes*
1 tablespoon cocoa (15 ml)
1 teaspoon baking soda (5 ml)
1 teaspoon salt (5 ml)
Icing
2 cups mascarpone (500 ml) *can use cream cheese too*
1 cup icing sugar, sifted (250 ml) *1/2 cup to 3/4 cup*
1/2 cup 35% cream (125 ml)
Zest of 1 lemon and *lemon juice*

Directions

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
In a food processor, mix the eggs with the sugar, oil, yoghurt, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Blend until just incorporated.
Place cupcake papers into a muffin pan, divide the batter in the cupcake papers, pour only halfway so batter doesn’t overflow, and bake, rotating half way through, for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Icing
In a bowl, beat the mascarpone, icing sugar, cream and lemon zests together until the mixture is smooth.
Spoon a dollop of mascarpone cream on the cupcakes. *I piped mine onto the cupcakes so if the icing mixture is a bit too running or soft to pipe, just place it in the freezer or fridge until it hardens up a bit.*



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IMG_6451I was extremely happy with this recipe. The cake was so moist. My first batch of small ones were a bit undercooked so it was a bit more ‘redder’ then I would have liked, but it tasted great. My second batch in the oven was slightly darker and looked great. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

 

Mocha Nut Cookies

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I was given this recipe from my sister who bought an entire book dedicated to cookies called The Golden Book of Cookies. Nuts, coffee and chocolate were an appealing combination so I asked her to send me the recipe so I could try it out.

We had to make some alterations to the recipe. One: all cookie recipes appear to be ridiculously sweet so we cut down on sugar and chocolate. My mother’s love of nuts and something crunchy knows no bounds, so of course extra nuts were added.

Makes: around 20 cookies

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 20-25 minutes

 

Original Recipe:

2/3 cup (100g) all-purpose (plain) flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

12 oz (350g)  biitersweet (dark) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (125g) butter

3 large eggs

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)

1 1/2 cups (150g) coarsely chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups (150g) coarsely chopped hazelnuts

1 cup (180g) semisweet (dark) chocolate chips

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Altered Recipe:

2/3 cup (100g) all-purpose (plain) flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

300g  biitersweet (dark) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (125g) butter

3 large eggs

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)

1 1/2 cups (150g) coarsely chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups (150g) coarsely chopped hazelnuts

+ extra chopped nuts ~ 50g more

 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheight (170 degrees Celsius)

2. Set out two baking trays

3. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl

4. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water

5. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and thick

6. Beat in the chocolate mixture, coffee granules and vanilla

7. Mix in the dry ingredients, pecans, hazelnuts and chocolate chips (if you want an extra chocolate kick)

8. Drop tablespoons of the dough 3 inches (8cm) apart onto the trays

9. Bake until lightly cracked on top, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to cool racks

 

Impressions:

I found these to be quite good if you like crunchy chocolate and nuts cookies, with a hint of coffee. With less chocolates added, it still has a great chocolate flavour but it doesn’t overpower the whole cookie. Quite an easy recipe to follow too.

I only had a horrible time trying to make them look nice and round, and with all the nuts it was quite a challenge. As you can see, I didn’t seem to fulfill my goal but they taste great nonetheless.

 

 

Chocolate Souffle

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I’ve always wanted to eat souffle, and when we went to the Conservatory at Crown, their chocolate souffles were quite the popular dessert so I didn’t have a chance to taste it.

So at last, I tried making it myself. I found this recipe on Taste.com.au, and it’s the basic run of the mill type of recipe but since I had never made it before and it didn’t require that many eggs I chose this one

Chocolate Souffle (Taste.com.au)
Preparation Time
20 minutes

Cooking Time
20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)
Melted butter, to grease
4 1/2 tbscaster sugar
60g butter
2 tbs plain flour
160ml (2/3 cup) milk
210g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
125ml (1/2 cup) thin cream
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Icing sugar, to dust

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush six 160ml (2/3-cup) ovenproof souffle dishes with melted butter to grease (using upward strokes on side). Sprinkle the inside with 1 1/2 tablespoons of caster sugar, shake out any excess.

2. Melt 30g of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and use a wooden spoon to stir for 1 minute or until mixture is smooth and begins to bubble. Remove from heat, gradually add milk, stirring until smooth and combined. Return to medium heat, stir until mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in 125g of the chocolate and remaining caster sugar until combined. Transfer to a bowl. Add egg yolks and stir until well combined.

4. Use an electric beater to whisk egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Use a metal spoon to fold one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until just combined.

5. Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared dishes. Place on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until well risen.

6. Meanwhile: combine remaining chocolate, remaining butter, brown sugar, cream and vanilla essence in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is well combined. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Place in a jug.

7. To serve, place ramekins on plates. Dust with icing sugar. Use a spoon to make a hole in top of each souffle, pour in a little chocolate sauce.

Impressions:
I found it to be quite nice and moist on my first tasting, but I wasn’t too sure if I was doing it right since they seemed to sink after taking it out of the oven. You also kinda need to serve them all hot and fresh out of the oven otherwise it just doesn’t retain that moistness. Unless I was just doing it all wrong. I don’t know

Chocolate Mousse Torte

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I found this recipe in one of Coles free food magazines. It looked like a really nice mousse and I guess that’s how they get you! By having attractive and delicious looking pictures. I commend their photographer for making it look delectable.

I made a couple of alterations to the recipe. I substituted the Oreo cookies with just a packet of Arnott’s Chocolate cookies and 250g of Dark Chocolate. I also reduced the sugar to around half as well, and with the top layer I reduced the butter by just half and I used Crunchy Peanut Butter.

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Here is the recipe below;
Chocolate Mousse Torte
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves 10

Chilling Overnight
150 g Oreo Cookies
40 g butter melted
250 g Coles Milk Chocolate chopped
50 g dark chocolate chopped
½ cup thickened cream

Chilling Overnight
4 Coles Free Range Eggs separated
10 g sachet powdered gelatine
¼ cup boiling water

Chilling Overnight
¾ cup caster sugar
small Easter eggs and white chocolate curls to decorate

Ganache Topping
¾ cup dark chocolate melts
½ cup Coles Smooth Peanut Butter (see tip)
40 g butter chopped

Method
1. Line base of 20cm springform pan with plastic wrap. Spray sides of pan with cooking oil and line with baking paper.

2. Place cookies in a food processor. Process until crushed. Add butter and process until combined. Press into base of prepared pan and refrigerate while preparing filling.

3. Melt milk and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Whisk in egg yolks. Whisk together gelatine and boiling water until gelatine dissolves. Add to chocolate mixture and mix to combine.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Carefully fold into chocolate mixture until just combined. Pour over biscuit base. Refrigerate overnight until firm.

5. To make ganache topping, combine chocolate, peanut butter, butter and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan. Stir on low heat until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

6. Pour ganache evenly over top of mousse and refrigerate for 2 hrs, or until ganache is firm. Unmould cake and place on a serving plate. Decorate with Easter eggs and choc curls.

Tip: You can replace the peanut butter in the Ganache ingredients with ½ cup cream and then omit the water added in the method.

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Impressions
While the torte was pretty easy to make, I wasn’t too fond of the top layer. Either I over heated the chocolate or I probably should have used the correct amount of butter because it wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. Also the nuts probably may have made a slight impact on the texture too.

The bottom layer wasn’t as rich and tasty as a Oreo base would have been, it didn’t taste like those cookies you find in a Cookies & Cream ice-cream or the bottom of ice-cream cakes. I was just confused on whether the filling of those Oreos were to be processed too so I opted for a different brand.

The mousse of the other hand, was light and fluffy. It was moist and smooth, and nicely aerated. So I deemed the whole cake a success because the mousse was just how I wanted it. Maybe my cake base was too big for the mixture, but I’d also prefer a higher mousse filling so maybe If were to make it another time, I’d use a smaller base.

Seafood Risotto

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Every time I go to an Italian restaurant or even just a cafe that has risotto, I just have to order it. My first taste experience was at Sofia’s Restaurant in Ferntree Gully, and well I found it to be delicious. I don’t think Sofia’s is an example of true authentic Italian food but it tastes quite good and I can’t argue with that.

So I’ve wanted to cook risotto for some time too, just something that seemed fun to do since we hardly go to Italian restaurants so it was just another way to eat it.

I found a couple of recipes on the internet but I needed one that had a seafood mix (Scallops, prawns, mussells, fish, squid rings) since we bought the frozen type at the supermarket and some of the risotto recipes get you to buy different types of seafood for the stock so it wasn’t any use to me.

I finally decided on the Taste.com.au’s recipe, and just bought some fresh mussels to use for the stock as the mussels in the mix were already opened. I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe though.

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At first I couldn’t find Fish stock, so I bought some Ikan Bilis stock cubes from my Asian Grocer, and then I found a small carton of Fish stock at my local supermarket so I mixed them both to make my fish stock.

For my dry white wine, I used Somerton 2010 Semillon – Chardonnay, one of the cheapest dry white wines I could find at Dan Murphy’s actually.

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I didn’t have enough prawns in my mix, and forgot to buy extra prawns but it didn’t impact upon taste really. It’s just a matter of what seafood you prefer.

I really like the recipe but one thing I forgot to do was to add more passata into it after I added another half cup of arborio rice so it was a bit drier then I would like but the taste and flavours were all still there. With my fresh parsley straight from my herb garden, chilli flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, my Seafood Risotto came out pretty well I thought.

I also pretty much used all the stock available because I added more rice, so it wasn’t as wet as what you might get in a restaurant but still moist enough.

If I made this again, I would probably use less mussels and more prawns, just because of preference and there were probably too many mussels in there and slightly overwhelmed everything else. Other than that, I really enjoyed making it and the end result was great too.

Seafood Risotto (Taste.com.au)
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 1/4 cup (310ml) dry white wine
500g black mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1.25L good-quality gluten-free fish stock (see note)
1/4 tsp saffron threads
40g unsalted butter
2 tbs olive oil
500g prawns, peeled (tails intact), deveined
2 squid tubes, cut into rings
8 scallops
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups (440g) arborio rice
1/2 cup tomato passata (see note) or roasted-tomato sugo (see related recipe)
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus extra to garnish
Chilli flakes
Grated parmesan cheese

Method
1. Place wine in a wide pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then add mussels and cover. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3 minutes until almost all shells have opened (discard any mussels that remain unopen after this time). Strain, reserving liquid, then remove mussels from shells and set aside. Place reserved liquid, fish stock and saffron in a pan and keep at a simmer over low heat.

2. Melt 30g butter with 1 tbs oil in a large, heavy-based frypan over medium heat. Add prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning, until cooked through. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Increase heat to high. Add squid and scallops. Cook, turning, for 1-2 minutes until just opaque and almost cooked through. Set aside with prawns.

3. Reduce heat to medium and melt remaining 10g butter with remaining 1 tbs oil. Cook the onion, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add garlic and rice and stir for 1-2 minutes to coat the grains. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir until absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1 ladleful at a time, stirring and making sure each is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente. This will take about 20 minutes. (You may not need all the stock.) Stir in the seafood, passata or sugo and parsley. Season and cook for 1 minute until heated through. Serve garnished with parsley, chilli flakes and parmesan.