Monday, 23 June 2014

Seriously Simple Choux Pastry

This recipe is something we saw in the Guardian and thought it looked nice and simple... with just a few ingredients (always something we like!)  As coffee choux buns were a favourite of mine in my teens and the thought of making our own, with a recipe that looked do-able, was too much to resist.  Giving it a go on a hot weekend in June may not have been the best time of year but the results were judged 'worth it' which was a relief.

The ingredients required to make the dairy free choux pastry were -
50g cornflour
20g pure vegetable fat (such as Trex)
90ml water
1 egg, beaten

Taking the vegetable fat and water and putting it in a pan, it was heated to boiling point.  This mix was then added to the cornflour and whisked before being left to cool a little.

Whilst the mix was cooling, a baking tray was oiled, run under the cold tap and excess water poured off. 

The oven was heated to 180ºC.

We prepared our make-do piping bag - using a nozzle and a plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off.

Once the mix had cooled a little, the egg was added and the stick blender was used to whiz the pastry ingredients together.

Supporting the make-do piping bag in a jamjar, the pastry mix was scraped in and piping began...

... the recipe says to pipe "eight finger-thick sausages", which we did...

... however, the recipe writer clearly has much thicker/fatter fingers than us, so we also piped some swirls with the remaining pastry.

Placing the pastry creations in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, the temperature was then increased to 200ºC for a further 10 minutes.

Once the pastry was a light golden colour, the buns were put on a wire rack to cool.

Our eclairs were very small - if we'd piped them half the length, they'd have made fab one-bite-sized petit fours - they were full of air, crispy and light.

We whipped some cream to fill the pastry cases, having cut them in half, and the tops were coated in coffee icing (made using espresso and icing sugar).  The Guardian recipe uses a dairy free 'creme patisserie' filling which we will try another time... as it does sound tasty!

These will definitely be a recipe we make again - learning from this time, we'll make them bigger/fatter and will remember to smooth the peaks left from piping so the pastry top is sleek.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Warm Potato Salad

This recipe is another we've made for's a different take on potato salad.  We serve it year round but it was first made as a barbecue dish.

The ingredients required are -
For the dressing
1 Tablespoon (15ml) grainy mustard
75ml Red wine vinegar
75ml Olive oil
For the salad
3 spring onions, sliced
Potatoes - boiled or steamed (we used about 5 medium sized, skin on and quartered)
One pack (about 90g) Pancetta or cubed bacon, fried

This serves 3 people, although the dressing can be stored in a fridge and will be too much for a small quantity of potatoes - how long it lasts will depend on how large a salad you make!

Place dressing ingredients in a jar, attach lid securely, and shake well.  The mustard will act as an emulsifier which allows the vinegar and oil to combine.

The spring onions were sliced whilst the bacon bits were fried until crispy.

Having steamed the potato pieces, skin on, they were placed in a bowl and the bacon bits and spring onions were added.  Next, whilst the potatoes and bacon were still warm, some of the dressing was poured over (the amount of dressing made will be enough for 2 or 3 salads - but, as mentioned earlier, this depends on the quantity of potatoes used) and combined.  Aim to coat the potato mix in the dressing - less is more to start with, add more if you need to.

We love serving this warm salad with barbecued or griddled meat.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Gluten Free Product Finds

... we've found quite a few new (to us) products recently.  This post will cover some of them and share where they've been bought.  However, as the 'market' never stays still and buyer change the line up of suppliers and goods, seemingly randomly, some of them may suffer from 'reliability of availability' issues - a subject that drives many a tweet/rant and has been mentioned in blogs before.

We found these Genius Pains au Chocolat at Waitrose, North Walsham, Norfolk.  Unfortunately, they aren't stocked at our local store but, as they're deliciously crumbly and taste very good indeed, it's probably no bad thing we have to make the effort to find a store that stocks them - a treat for special occasions will be how we consider them. 

Also from Waitrose, we like these falafels... and often have them with our Curry Houmous as a dip.

Genius foods also sell these cupcakes - a two pack of either chocolate or lemon - which we like for days out treats.   Apparently there is quite a selection available in Tesco and Asda but we've yet to get into these stores to see if they're stocked locally.

Online, Ocado has a great range of gluten free goods on sale.  We bought these Eskal Wafer Rolls a while back and, last time we looked, they weren't available... however, Ocado's twitter feed said there's a problem with supply.  Hopefully this will be sorted in time for the summer as Sous Chef J really likes them!

Also from Eskal are these Ice Cream Party Tubs - we leave a pack in the car for days out use when Ice Cream vans don't have a Gluten Free option - a dollop of sorbet in them works wonders if the ice cream isn't gluten free. There's no reason why basic flavours of ice cream should contain gluten, but some do, and this is something we always check.

Eskal also do a range of biscuits including these Tea Biscuits and a Lemon Wafer which is very much like the Pink Panther wafers (which are our staple "take to other people's houses so everyone can eat them" food offering - we buy ours in Sainsbury's)

At ocado, Celia Organic Lager and Clive's Pies were offered as a bundle deal - so that was a good way to get B a different brand of lager to try.

Sainsbury's usually has the largest range of free from items of all our local supermarkets and Marks and Spencer has recently enlarged its range of Gluten Free (made without wheat) products which we blogged about here.

Lazy Days make a range of Gluten Free and other freefrom biscuits and snacks that we also like.  A particular favourite is the chocolate dipped ginger biscuits... yum!

We hope this post has given you a few ideas and shown there is a wide range of Gluten Free products about... even if you do have to shop around to get them.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Paprika Chicken

This is a really simple way to cook chicken breasts.  The only ingredients needed are a chicken breast per person, some paprika and freshly ground black pepper. 

Cover the surface of a chopping board with a piece of cling film/wrap that is large enough to fold back over the meat. 

Lay out the chicken breasts and sprinkle paprika over then add freshly ground black pepper.

Fold the cling back over the meat and use a rolling pin, meat tenderiser or pan to batter the chicken to an even thickness.

Line the grill pan with foil and place the chicken pieces on top.

Cook under a hot grill for 5 minutes (time required will depend on thickness of the meat)....
... then remove from the grill and turn the chicken over and return to under the heat.

Check the thickest parts of the chicken are cooked through by piercing with a knife - if the juice runs clear, the meat is cooked, if not return to the heat for a few more minutes and check again.