Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Stuffed Dates

Dates are a favourite fruit of mine.  Sous Chef J isn't so keen but he will prepare some tasty treats from time to time.  These are a perfect home made gift that I am always happy to receive.
All that's needed are

10 Medjool Dates
20 Walnut halves
10 petit four cases

First of all, we remove stones from dates (if necessary) and open the date out a little.  It's best to make the cut lengthwise in the date.

Next, two walnut halves are placed into each date.

Finally, we serve each date in a petit four case.

Variations:  Dates can also be stuffed with whole, blanched almonds, pistachios or marzipan. Dipping them in melted dark chocolate also makes a delicious delicacy!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Pancetta and Cheese Muffins

We spotted this recipe in the M&S Allergy Free cookbook that was a Christmas gift (sadly the same one's no longer listed on their website.)  It includes polenta and is a savoury muffin which I had hoped Sous Chef J would like as a breakfast/brunch item. 

Having decided to use half the ingredients listed in the recipe in this trial bake, we gathered together:-

½ tablespoon Olive Oil
100g pancetta, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
87g self raising flour (Dove's Farm gluten free)
27g polenta
38g grated cheddar cheese
80ml milk (we used home made yogurt)
1 egg (we used a large one)
30g melted butter

Whilst preparing the onions, the butter was melted.
The dry ingredients were placed in a mixing bowl - about a third of the grated cheese was reserved for later.
Having heated the olive oil in a frying pan, the pancetta was browned and then the onions were added.  Once the onions were softened, not browned, the pan was removed from the heat to cool slightly.
Once we had added the melted butter to the dried ingredients in the mixing bowl, the cooled pancetta and onion was added as well. 
Using a wooden spoon, the ingredients were mixed until well combined.
Dessertspoon dollops of the mix were divided between 6 muffin cases.  It is a firm mix and was quite a stiff consistency.

To finish off the muffins, they were topped with the reserved grated cheese. 

The muffins were baked in a pre-heated fan oven (180C) for about 12-15 minutes (this will need checking depending on the mix consistency.)  They were cooled in the muffin tray for 10 minutes.
Delicious warm and still tasty the next day - we  warmed them through prior to serving.
The muffins were a hit although Sous Chef J definitely preferred them warm... and with oodles of tomato ketchup.

These muffins freeze well.  The ingredients we used made 6 muffins.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Indian Vegetable Fritters


 Having finally got around to looking through a cookery book that was a Christmas gift, we spotted a recipe that caught our eye. 

As usual, we gathered all the ingredients together - although we substituted frozen chopped parsley for the chopped coriander the recipe lists.

We used:-
150g Gram Flour
1 large carrot, grated
1 medium brown onion, sliced thinly
60g frozen peas
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon garam masala
⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon baking powder (gluten free - we used Dove's Farm)
⅙ cup chopped parsley
30ml water
vegetable oil for frying

The gram flour was weighed into a medium bowl and the carrot was grated into it.  Then the sliced onion, spices, peas, parsley, crushed garlic, baking powder and water were added to the bowl.

During this time, some vegetable oil was being heated in a small frying pan ready to cook the fritters a little later.
It was then a case of getting the mixture to combine fully.  This is quite a messy, hands on job, which Sous Chef J was happy to leave to me.
Once the mix had been encouraged to combine,  small amounts (about dessertspoonfuls) were formed into a patty and added to the ready-heated frying oil.
Having fried the fritters until were browned and cooked through they were drained on some kitchen paper.

Finally the fritters were ready to serve.  We ate this batch with a chicken tikka curry, mini poppadums and mango chutney.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Nutty Chocolate Traybake

 Whilst on what seems like a regular rummage through the many recipes we have, we spotted a printout from Delicious Magazine called "Gluten-free nutty chocolate traybake recipe". A quick scan of the ingredients and we realised we actually had all the items required... so, the plan to make them was feasible.
Sous Chef J gathered together the following:-
100g dark choc chunks
3 med eggs, separated
70g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
1 teaspoon fresh ground coffee (we used the innards of a one cup coffee bag!)
25g pecans, chopped
The ground almonds, chopped pecans and coffee were put in a bowl.   

Next, the egg yolks and sugar were mixed til light and creamy.  Whilst this was happening, we melted the choc chunks over a bowl of boiling water. 
Once the chocolate was melted it was mixed into the sugar/egg and the dried ingredients were added as well.

After the egg whites had been whisked to stiff peak state, they were combined with the chocolate mix.  Combining the egg white gently by folding it in resulted in a similar mix texture to that of a roulade.

Pouring the mix into a greased and lined baking tray, it was then placed in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 12 minutes when it was checked (we used a larger tray than recommended in the recipe so the mixture was thinner). Having checked the surface still had a spongy feel, the cake was removed from the oven and left to cool in its tray.

Once cooled, the traybake was turned out, sliced and stacked for storage.
It has a light, spongy texture and is good as a snack with a cuppa or be great as a dessert with creme fraiche, cream or vanilla icecream.  Even though it's been packed for storage, it won't last long here!