Saturday, 30 July 2022

Chocolate Sponge Self-Saucing Pudding

On a cold Winter's night, there's nothing more satisfying than an indulgent and warming Chocolate self-saucing Pudding. The only thing that comes close for me is my self-saucing Sticky Date Pudding. When a male friend of ours who loves dessert came over for dinner during the week, this pudding came to mind. There's not a lot of fuss required with making this pudding. The batter is simple to make, and then the topping and sauce ingredients can be added just before popping it into the oven. It's just a matter of remembering to put the dish in the oven before sitting down to eat, and after a glass of wine and some pre-dinner conversation, well let's just say, oops, it's easy to forget it.  I remembered only 10 minutes after sitting down to eat though, phew, and magically it was still cooked perfectly just as I started to clear the plates away after the main meal. 

Mid-week dinners are allowed to be slightly more casual don't you think, and this pudding ticks all the boxes perfectly. My only issue is that she's not that photogenic, but then with a dessert like this one there just isn't the time to fiddle around setting up for the perfect photo. Eat it while it's hot, and while there's still plenty of sauce is my motto. Because if it's left too long, some of that soothing sauce will soak into the cake, as with all self-saucing puddings. However what I love about this pudding is that there is plenty of chocolate sauce for everyone. I generally have the sponge batter made and in the dish and ready to cook, with the oven turned on, about an hour before we plan to eat, allowing enough time to finish preparing the main course, have a drink and relax. Then it's cooked close to when we have finished eating, and can be left on the bench for  5-10 minutes, to cool down slightly, without the sauce being absorbed into the sponge cake. Let's be honest, a self-saucing chocolate pudding without enough chocolate sauce is a huge disappointment don't you think?

Mr. HRK eating leftovers the following day with Neapolitan ice-cream

The other great thing about  this dessert is that no special shopping is needed for ingredients. These ingredients are staples really for people who cook. I decided to make it, all the ingredients were on hand, so the whole process was pretty seamless. Given that Mr. HRK volunteered to cook pizza, one of his specialties, I felt that it was a relaxing mid-week dinner all in all. Our guest took some leftovers home with him as well so he was pretty happy.

Let's cook:

Equipment:

Electric mixer and a 6 cup ovenproof dish.

Set oven to 180 deg. C, fan forced.

Ingredients:

60 g butter, softened

1/2 cup castor sugar

1 egg

1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup plain flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder)

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup full cream milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Sauce:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup castor sugar

1 1/2 cups very hot, near boiling, water

3 tablespoons cocoa

Method:

Cream butter and sugar together with your electric mixer.

Add beaten egg and beat in slowly.

Sift the flour and cocoa together into a separate bowl, then add the flour and the milk alternately to the creamed butter until well mixed. 

Spoon into a greased 6-cup ovenproof dish.

Combine sugars and cocoa for sauce and sprinkle over the batter in the dish.

Pour the hot water gently over the top of the cake batter, and bake in 180 deg. C fan forced oven for 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm with ice-cream or mascarpone.



Recipes for my other delicious self-saucing puddings can be found at these links:

Self-saucing Sticky Date Pudding

Lemon Delicious Pudding

Warm wishes and I hope your weekend has been enjoyable.

Pauline



Friday, 29 July 2022

Classic French Beef Bourguignon

Today I present to you one of the most delicious beef stews I have ever made, and folks I've made a lot of them and I've also tasted quite a few Beef Bourguignons in my time, and I reckon that this one is up there with the best of them. This dish is essentially just a beef stew, but not just any classic beef stew. Beef Bourguignon is one of the most well known French recipes acclaimed by everyone who loves French food and delicious food in general. The beef falls off the fork, and the rich red wine gravy and nutritious veges are perfectly balanced with the beautiful flavours of the thyme and bay leaf. This is a big bowl of Winter comfort food. We are only eating beef a couple of times a week now, and for that reason when I cook beef I want to do something really special with it. This dish is within the capabilities of the home cook, which is what I definitely am. I found this recipe on a talented French food writer's blog,  Audrey from "Pardon Your French". She modestly says she is a French home cook, and I think her recipes are to be trusted. I followed hers implicitly, well as closely as I could within the confines of what ingredients I could obtain, so here it is. Pretty darned good I reckon.

This is a perfect example of French long slow cooking and much of that time is needed for cooking it in the oven. If you go out to work each day, it is best cooked on the weekend where you can relax and enjoy the process without feeling rushed. This is a recipe which requires more time and patience than skill, the most skillful part is ensuring the largish beef chunks are browned off properly in batches and not stewed, leave that for the oven to do, and that is detailed later. 

This aromatic stew laced with good red wine originates from Burgundy (Bourgogne), a French region renowned for it's red wine as well as for breeding exceptional cattle for culinary purposes. It's Winter time here in North Queensland, so it's the perfect time to cook an earthy and indulgent stew, rich in flavours, and long and slow in the oven. 

I was nearly very tempted to add celery to the vegetable ingredients in the dish, which is normal for the stews I generally cook, but Audrey says that is a total faux pas in cooking this stew, oops. Thankfully there were plenty of wonderful flavours without the celery. Interesting though that the Mirepoix generally used in stews, which is the term for the trio of onions, carrots and celery originated in France, just not in Beef Bourguignon though.

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 4 very generously.

1.1 - 1/4 kg or 2.5 to 3 lbs chuck steak or other good stewing steak, cut into 4 cm chunks

2 tsp salt

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp (57g) unsalted butter, cut up into 2x2 tablespoon sections

5-6 slices bacon, or 8 ozs cured pork, cut in fine strips

4 sprigs thyme

3 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

10 pearl onions, peeled

4-5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cups (500ml) good quality and very drinkable red wine (see notes below)

2 tbsp (30ml) brandy (optional

2 cups (500ml) beef stock

2 tbsp (50g) tomato paste

1/4 cup (32g) flour

6-7 sprigs parsley, for garnish

For the mushrooms:

2 tbsp (28.5 g) unsalted butter

0.45 kg (1 lb) small button mushrooms (cremini if you can get them) quartered

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Equipment: you will need a large cast iron casserole dish or heavy based Dutch Oven which will move safely from the stovetop to the oven for cooking.

1. Preparation of meat: Around 2 hours before you plan to start cooking, remove the beef chunks from the frig, pat and dry with some paper towel, and then season with salt and black pepper, tossing the  cubes to ensure they are well seasoned. I like to dice up my own meat, I think it yields better results than buying it already cubed for example from a supermarket. Buying it already cut up often results in leaner meat, you need good marbled beef, with fatty streaks running through it to ensure it is tender. However if you are buying your beef from a favourite butcher, they should do it for you. Leave the meat covered, to rest at room temperature.

2. In your large oven proof pot, on the stovetop, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon strips and cook for about 6-7 minutes, keep an eye on them and stir occasionally, until fully cooked and slightly crisp. I found I needed to eat a couple of strips, just to check, who doesn't love crispy bacon. So good.

Pre-heat your oven to 163 deg. C or 325 deg F. with a rack in the middle.

 3. This is where we need to be on task for just a while. In 3 separate batches, add the beef chunks to the Dutch oven and brown them over medium-high heat, allowing about 3 minutes on each side. There should be a brown crust on both sides of the meat. Try not to overcrowd or overlap the meat cubes or they won't brown properly, and it's not a good idea to stir the meat as it's cooking, as tempting as it is, the meat will come off the pan once it is browned. Move each batch to a separate rimmed plate to catch any meat juices. 

This whole important process of browning the meat is called the Maillard reaction, when the beef proteins melt with natural sugar to create new molecules responsible for the roasted aromas, flavours and beef pan drippings. That's why this process is essential for building rich flavous in a stew. Please don't skip it my dears.

 4. Select the garlic, carrots, pearl onions, thyme, and bay leaves. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the pot and add the vegetables and herbs. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the onions are glistening and the beef pan drippings have coated the contents. This will bring so much delicious flavour to the finished dish.

5. Transfer the browned beef and bacon back into the pot. Add the tomato paste and sprinkle with the flour. Stir all the contents of the pot until no dry flour is visible. 

Now pour in the beef stock, red wine and brandy so the meat is just covered. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and carefully transfer the pot to the oven, and cook  for 1 hour 30 minutes.

6. While your French stew is cooking in the oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are just cooked and lightly browned. They will smell delicious.

7. Remove the Casserole pot containing the Beef Bourguignon from the oven, using oven mitts, remember it will be very hot. Stir in the mushrooms. 

8. Return the pot to the oven for another 30 more minutes. 

Take your cooked Beef Bourguignon out of the oven, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Mine was perfect and didn't need any extra salt or pepper.

Let the pot sit for 15 minutes before serving. If you aren't serving it until later, keep reheated in the oven at 100 deg. F

After all of that what do I serve with it on the side?

A Beef Bourguignon is served in France over mashed potatoes or with baby boiled potatoes. However these days, it is acceptable to serve it with rice, polenta or even buttered egg noodles. I chose mashed potato and steamed green sweet peas the first time we ate, the following day I steamed some broccoli.

Which wine should I use?

Firstly it needs to be a wine that is also very drinkable. I used a delicious South Australian Shiraz, I can't remember which one it was, but the Barossa Valley in South Australia is renowned for their Shiraz. However you could use a Pinot Noir (light-bodied), a Merlot (medium-bodied), a Cabernet Sauvignon which is full-bodied. I found that a Shiraz was perfect.

Cook's Notes:

  • Bring the meat to room temperature about 2 hours before cooking. Just write yourself a note to take it out of the frig. As soon as you take it out, season it well with salt and ground black pepper so that the salt can penetrate the meat. 
  • I've added brandy to the ingredients, however if you don't have it, just add 2 extra tablespoons of red wine. 
  • I chose chuck steak to cook this, perfect for slow cooking and still quite affordable if you call $22.00 a kilo affordable. Remember the days when it was only $12.00 a kilo, and not that long ago either.
  • I couldn't find pearl onions, so I just used the smallest onions I could find.

We ate leftovers the next night with broccoli and finely chopped parsley, delicious. 

I am such a fan of the classic French flavours based on using thyme, bay leaves, mushrooms and red wine. At the moment, thyme must be my favourite aromatic herb, I just love the smell of it growing in the garden. When I pick some for cooking, it brings back so many fond memories of visiting a nearby herb farm with my Mum when I lived at home, and it's the aroma of thyme which was growing along the pathways that I most remember.  This is a big succulent beef stew, and we just loved it. 

Your work is done, now sit down, eat and enjoy with a glass of red wine of course. Yum! I hope you enjoy this Beef Bourguignon as much as we do.

Best wishes,

Pauline





























Thursday, 21 July 2022

Raspberry, Oat and Cinnamon Muffins

 

This recipe starts out as a healthy and simple muffin mix, and transforms into something delicious with the addition of Raspberries and rolled oats, or Blueberries and oats, or dried Fig and cinnamon, or whatever you have on hand, or whatever floats your boat at the time really. That is what I love about making muffins, they are quick and versatile, and healthy if we are using wholemeal flour and fruits, always good don't you think? Halve the sugar in this recipe if you wish, the honey imparts a lovely and  naturally sweet flavour, however these are not a really sweet muffin even with the sugar added.

It's my Book club meeting today, and our numbers have been depleted due to Covid and travel etc, but we are a group of booklovers who also love to tuck into a nice afternoon tea, after all there is a synergy between books, food, coffee or tea and good conversation isn't there? We are all taking a small plate of food, and I was asked to just bring something simple and sweet, and these muffins immediately came to mind. Everyone takes a turn at hosting the meeting in their home. I try to have all the ingredients on standby, just waiting for the right occasion, and if you have frozen raspberries or blueberries in your freezer, or packaged dried apple or even bananas in the fruit bowl, then you are good to go to whip up a batch of these very edible muffins. 

I still need to finish the book to be discussed today, and  just in case you are interested, it's a book written by Aussie author Jane Harper, titled "Force of Nature". (She also wrote "The Dry" which was made into a film.) It's a good mystery that really keeps the reader guessing with lots of complex characters, focusing on the tensions that develop between a group of work colleagues going on a challenging hike through the fictional Giralang Ranges as a team building exercise. So whilst these muffins are in the oven I am easing into a comfy chair and finishing the book, which I am reading on my kindle this time, as much as I love reading a paper copy book, after all I was a Librarian in a previous life, sometimes it is just easier to download the electronic variety, especially when travelling. I'm 90% through the book so it will be finished by this afternoon.

I like to bake the muffins in pretty paper cases, note to myself to be on the hunt for some more, which is less washing up in fiddly muffin trays. If you like to bake muffins you will understand what I mean. After I have filled the cases, I always pop a couple of extra frozen berries into the mixture as the quantity of berries in each muffin is hard to control, how disappointing to eat a raspberry muffin without finding many berries in it.

BASIC MUFFIN RECIPE: Adapted from the recipe by a favourite Aussie chef, Donna Hay.

N.B. Extra ingredients of your choice are added after basic muffin mix is made.

Ingredients:

2 cups (300 g) all purpose whole-wheat flour

3 teaspoons baking powder 

1/2 cup raw sugar (110 g) plus a little extra for garnish

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 beaten egg 

1 1/4 cups buttermilk (310 ml) ( or 1 1/4 cups full cream milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar) and let it stand for 10 minutes to develop

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 deg. C (350 deg. F). 

Place dry ingredients into your main mixing bowl i.e. flour, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon and mix to combine. 

Take a separate smaller bowl, and combine and mix the honey, egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until only just combined. (Never vigorously mix a muffin batter.)

Stir through the extra ingredients as listed underneath.

Extra ingredients for my raspberry muffins:

Add 1 cup (160 g) fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries and 1/2 cup (45g) rolled oats (not quick cook oats) to the basic mixture with minimal stirring. 

Add paper cases to your 12x1/2  cup capacity muffin tray, spoon mixture into  each paper case .

Sprinkle the muffins with extra oats, and a sprinkle of raw sugar. I like to pop an extra frozen raspberry into the top of each muffin for presentation and extra fruit content.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer, however when they are beautifully golden on top they should be cooked. 

Serve warm or cold, Serves 12.

(These muffins will also freeze for 1 month.)

Extra Notes:

  • I add the rolled oats to the dry ingredients before I add the egg mixture for even distribution.
  • Add a couple of extra raspberries to the muffin mixture when the cases are filled to ensure everyone is delighted by raspberries in their muffin, how disappointing if somehow someone misses out. It's difficult to measure how many raspberries go into each muffin.
  • I have already mentioned this but the difference between a nice soft muffin and a chewy one, is caused by over stirring the batter. Quick and easy does it.
  • Plain all purpose flour and baking powder still produces a delicious muffin if you don't have any of the healthier whole wheat flour on hand.
  • I never buy buttermilk, as making your own is easy. 
  • Substitute fresh or frozen blueberries for the frozen raspberries if that's wheat you have on hand. Delicious.
  • I've given more suggestions for muffin variations below, or just use your imagination with what is available.
  • Where I live, it's much more economical to use frozen berries in baking.
  • If you are eating them the day after baking, warm them up slightly in the microwave if you wish.
  • I think I prefer this kind of muffin to a patty cake or cupcake.
  • Bran can be substitute for oats.
  • Full fat yoghurt could be substituted for buttermilk
Into the oven they go.


1 dozen little beauties, hot out of the oven.


Two missing already, Mr. HRK loves them, he's the Muffin Man today.

Ready for afternoon tea. Perfect on a Sunday.

Here are some other muffin combinations for you, it's nice to sprinkle them with a little raw sugar before baking:

Blueberry and Apple:  Add 1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries and 1/2 cup (20 g) chopped dried apple to your basic muffin mixture
Fig and Cinnamon: Add 1 cup (190 g) sliced dried figs and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the basic mixture.
Muesli: Add your own, or 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup slivered almonds, and 1/4 cup dried apricots. (I love dried apricots in baked goods.)
Dates and Rolled Oats or Oat Bran: Add 1 cup chopped soft dates and 1/3 cup bran or even LSA to the basic mixture.
Banana, Bran and Cinnamon: Add 2 mashed ripish bananas, and 1/3 cup oat bran to the basic mixture.

Dear Reader, I've tried something different this time in my layout, I've left all of the photos until the end following the recipe. What do you prefer, photos scattered throughout the recipe and method, or left to the end. However, you've done well if you are still reading this at the end of my story.

I hope you can treat yourself to something healthy and delicious to eat this weekend, and that you are well. By the way, I finished the book, and the ending was a real surprise. I'm just pleased that when I was working our team building exercises weren't like the one in the book, I doubt that I would have survived.

It's time for morning tea here, and a leftover muffin from yesterday of course. I've obviously been writing this over a couple of days, that's the beauty of the simple life.

Warm wishes,
Pauline


Sunday, 17 July 2022

Delicious Fruit Mince Tea Cake

 

This is the perfect recipe for using up that large jar of fruit mince at the back of your pantry, which was intended for Christmas fruit mince pies, but it just didn't quite happen. Can you remember way back then? This versatile cake is light enough in taste and texture for a delicious afternoon tea or dessert at anytime throughout the year and then in the lead up to Christmas, the cake can be decorated in the Christmas tradition, some Christmas spirit added, and you have a wonderful cake to share with friends and family. However two pieces later this afternoon, Mr. HRK thinks it is delicious just the way it is.

Christmas in July is popular here in Australia, when during Winter we can pretend we are experiencing Christmas during the cold of Winter, just like in the Northern Hemisphere, and in some areas in the Southern States, it might even snow. This cake is perfect as a Christmas in July fruit cake, just add 1 tablespoon of Rum or Brandy, serve it with cream, mascarpone, or ice cream, and it would be a perfect dessert. I also love it eaten warm for morning or afternoon tea, sprinkled with icing sugar, which is how we ate it today. There's no need to add any extra spices to this recipe, as in a jar of fruit mince they've already been added. Spices like Cinnamon, Dill, Clove, Ginger, Nutmeg and a hint of Coriander, are already included in the Fruit Mince I used, and the smell of this cake cooking in the oven is just heavenly. The aroma filled the house. This cake only takes around 15 minutes to prepare, 50 minutes to cook, and doesn't require an electric mixer, so it is quick to put together and perfect to make on the day of eating. Tea cakes are best eaten on the day of baking. No problem in our house.

Decorated with edible and colourful nasturtium petals from our garden

I used Robertson's Traditional Fruit Mince in a bottle, and I bought two large jars when they were on sale after Christmas. Using the bottled Fruit Mince makes this a very economical fruit cake to bake, as leading up to Christmas, dried fruits become very expensive to make a traditional Christmas Fruit cake, however I still make one every year. I love the tradition. If you make your own fruit mince it would be perfect in this cake.

Ingredients:

Serves 10

2 cups (250 g) plain flour

1/2 cup (110 g) castor sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten

1/4 cup (65 ml) vegetable oil

1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 cups Fruit Mince

1 tablespoon Rum or Brandy (optional)

Preparation method:

Preparation: 10 minutes : Cook 50 minutes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line your tin with baking paper, a 23 x 13 cm loaf tin, or use a 23 cm round tin.

Mix together the wet ingredients, the egg, oil, orange rind, juice and fruit mince, blending well. 

Sift the flour with the baking powder, bi-carb of soda and salt into a bowl, and combine with the sugar, and add gradually to the egg mixture. 

Mix until just moist.

 Pour into the greased and lined  tin.

Bake in your preheated moderate oven for 50 minutes, it might take a bit longer depending on your oven. When cooked, remove the cake from the oven, cool on a wire rack.

This is delicious to eat when still slightly warm. 

And because  it's Winter, I had a large pot of Chicken and vegetable stock, simmering away on the stove at the same time. Makes sense as I was hovering around the kitchen anyway.  Chicken carcasses are such an economical way to make chicken stock, it's too expensive to buy a whole chicken these days for soup. I'll make the stock into Chicken  and Vegetable Barley Soup tomorrow.





Stored away for tomorrow.


Hoping your week goes well.

Warm wishes,

Pauline




















Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Pear and Ginger Tarte Tatin to celebrate French Bastille Day

 


It's French Bastille Day, and how better to celebrate than with a delicious and very simple to make Pear Tarte Tatin. Apparently the French don't say "Happy Bastille Day" they say Happy National Holiday, "Joyeux quatorze juillet!"The holiday marks the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789,  in Paris. The Bastille was originally built as a medieval fortress but then became a state prison. Our son and his family are living in Provence for now, and are travelling around in their camper on holidays, so it will be interesting to talk to them about their experiences on their National Day. When I saw this Tarte Tartin recipe on the lovely Lorraine's blog, @Not Quite Nigella, I had to make it. In fact I made three of them when I was in Cairns, just to perfect it of course. Mr. HRK is quite the fan of a Tarte Tatin. Pears are so plentiful, so it is the perfect  economical dessert to cook right now.

Mr. HRK and I had just arrived  in Marseille in 2009, which seems so long ago, and were amazed on arrival that nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to be open on a working day during the week. We then saw barricades being erected and police arriving, and we realised that there was going to be a street parade. We were really hungry, and the only place we could find open to dine in was a McDonalds. So unashamedly as tired tourists, we stumbled in there, and discovered with my limited French, that it was Bastille Day. However we were very disappointed that we hadn't found a charming little French cafe to dine in. That came the following day. We had been staying with a French family prior to travelling to Marseille, and they hadn't mentioned to us that it was Bastille Day on the 14th July, and what to expect. Oh well, it made us wonder how significant the National day actually is to the French people. I'm sure it is though.

Ginger and vanilla are flavours that marry with pears very well, although  just use vanilla if you wish in this recipe. Golden Syrup is the secret ingredient here, making this recipe very simple to make instead of needing to make a caramel. Lorraine suggests that you could also use rosemary, cinnamon, almonds, citrus and chocolate, for extra flavour enhancement, or a splash of your favourite liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Kirsch, brandy or a dessert wine (yum). It is really a blank canvas to work with with so many options to choose from.

Let's Cook:

Ingredients:

Serves 6, make that 4 in our house

1/3 cup/100g/3.5 ozs golden syrup

2 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced into matchsticks, or small blobs of bottled ginger if you wish

1 vanilla bean, split in half (I used 1 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste)

550 g/1.2 lbs Pears, or enough to fit the base of your springform tin

2 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed

1 1/4 sheets butter puff pastry, thawed in the frig (essential to use butter puff pastry)

Method:

Spray the base and sides of a 23cm/8 inch springform pan with oil spray and line the base with baking paper. A 20 cm pan will be fine as well. 

Just in case, place your springform pan in another tray with a lip on it to catch any drips. This shouldn't happen with a newish pan.

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.5.

Gently warm your golden syrup (about 10 seconds in the microwave) and pour onto the lined base of your tin and spread to the edges with a pastry brush. Then sprinkle the ginger around the base and add the seeds from the vanilla bean halves on top. I just spread small blobs of the vanilla bean paste over the ginger. 

In this photo below, I had used bottled ginger because I was in a hurry, and just placed small spoonsful of it over the golden syrup, and it still tasted delicious. Sometimes we just need to improvise with what we've got on hand and what is available.

Preparing the pears:

The pears need to be peeled, sliced in half from top to bottom, and the cores removed. I found this really simple to do with a teaspoon or with the knife I peeled them with. 

Place the pears in the tin, domed side down. Scatter the cubed butter over the top.

Place the whole sheet of puff pastry over the pears, and tuck in the sides, creating a nice raised ridge. Oops, the large sheet should have gone in first. I corrected this and placed the whole sheet in and then the 1/4 sheet on the top. I wonder if it would really have made that much difference to the result.

 Then place the 1/4 sheet in the centre so that there is some more puff pastry when the tart is cooked, that's always good, don't you think, the more puff the better? Just add more pastry if you think it is needed. It won't be noticeable when the tart is turned out later.

If the pastry is still cold, your tart can be cooked straight away. Otherwise, pop it back into the frig to chill for 20 minutes. The pastry will cook so much better and puff up beautifully.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and puffed. Take it out of the oven, give a little cheer, and leave it to cool for 3-4 minutes.

Now for the slightly tricky part.

Place a serving tray over the top of the springform tin, and I suggest a light serving tray,  and quickly turn upside down, scraping onto the tray any caramel sauce that is left in the tin.

Remove the tin and decorate as you wish. I used mint leaves as I had them and I liked the colour contrast and the freshness and the slightly minty flavour they brought to the dish, however if you use the scraped vanilla beans, they look fantastic, laid over the top of the pie.

Serve with ice cream, preferably ginger or vanilla.


I've also made an Apple Tarte Tatin and a Plum Tarte Tatin over the years. Always delicious.

Bon appetit,

Pauline




























Sunday, 10 July 2022

In My Kitchen July 2022


This IMK post is part of Sherry's In My Kitchen series, and is mostly set in our Daughter's kitchen in Cairns, in Far North Queensland, where we have been for the past month or so, partly house sitting,  partly travelling around, doing lots of gardening and cooking, and loving the Northern Winter, until it started raining.  If you read my last post, you might remember that we drove home to Mackay from Cairns during the week, and as this is a 10 hour trip, and that's if all is going well, and always it seems with road works and lots of traffic, we now break the trip. Which means, we can take time out and stop and indulge at our favourite haunts along the way for some refreshment and some shopping. 

Oliveri's Continental Deli, a wonderful Italian shop in downtown Innisfail is one of our favourites. Innisfail, is another sugar cane town on the Cassowary Coast, also known for it's bananas and high rainfall, and with a large Italian population. Entering Oliveri's is like walking into little Italy, with shelves laden with all kinds of authentic Italian  products and also locally produced items just beckoning to be taken home to my kitchen. Locals are drinking coffee and eating pastries outside on the footpath.  It's a great place to buy gifts and have a splurge. Some items make it back to my kitchen pantry, and some are enjoyed on the way home.


The front window is laden with a marvelous selection of cheeses, olives, salamis and preserves, all very reasonably priced. It's worthwhile saving up just to buy these. Bring on the pizza. 


The shelves inside are stocked with everything you could want, perfectly packaged preserves ready for antipasto platters, Italian baked sweets and delicious condiments and jams.


So many different vinegars, sauces and oils tried to tempt me.


Of course I always leave Oliveri's with some delicious Nougat.


I'm looking forward to trying this Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar.




We thought this Whiskey Maple Syrup looked like fun. The instructions say to use it on meat. It's not Italian, but it looks like a delicious BBQ sauce from Kansas City.


The Spice Girls are a successful Cairns food company producing lots of different spices, teas, and quality cooking ingredients. I bought these from the Jonsson's Farm Market in Stratford in Cairns, which prides itself on a paddock to plate philosophy, bringing the freshest produce and meat and groceries sourced from all local producers and businesses. We loved shopping there, for the local produce in season. 

I bought these during one of my shopping trips which became gifts for friends who kept an eye on our place while we were away.



Far North Queensland is the real home of the banana, and Babinda just down the road from Cairns, besides having the famous boulders and the best bakery ever, is also home to these Sublime dehydrated Bananas.  Delicious to nibble on while travelling.


And I've become quite a fan of a Chai Latte for morning tea, as a coffee substitute.


I  did some cooking and baking in Cairns, however a lot of my cooking and eating was essentially comfort style food designed to be very kind to my gut, as for the first few weeks I was unwell. This led to a course of powerful antibiotics, which caused a painful skin reaction, so I wasn't a happy chappy. However one must eat something, and whilst for a "whole very long week" I eliminated all foods containing histamines, as the antihistamine tablets weren't working, and yes that means cutting out red wine as well, it's a challenge as all the foods we love, including citrus, tomatoes, eggplant, cheese, yoghurt, bananas and alcohol and many other Italian ingredients contain histamines. If you look it up  you will be surprised. We take all of those foods for granted when we are well. I eventually moved onto some very soothing and tasty meals,  however I am still treating hot curries and anything spicy with caution. 

So, when I was feeling on the mend, I made this delicious Creamy Chicken Pot Pie, ticks all the boxes for a comforting meal on a cold Winter's night. It was perfect. You can find the recipe at this link:




There was another Chicken tonight meal, with this very easy and delicious Chicken and Celery casserole, very soothing for the soul and the gut, and it's a family recipe evoking fond memories. It's also a very economical meal, with most of the ingredients except for the chicken and celery being  pantry and freezer staples. When everyone is becoming concerned about the cost of fresh produce and meat, casseroles can be suited to most budgets.

 
Last night I made these Tuna and Potato rissoles, they were so tasty. These are a great way to use up leftover mashed potato and canned tuna. 



Pears and apples are in abundance at this time of year, so Pear Tarte Tatin became a favourite. I made three of them in Cairns, so quick and easy and uncomplicated, Mr. HRK didn't mind one little bit. He even volunteered to make the custard. I also love making the more conventional Apple Tarte Tartin.
l'll publish the Pear Tarte Tartin recipe when time permits.


This is my curveball segment. A visit to a lovely plant nursery in Cairns called Limberlost, and I met Danny the Dinosaur. I would have loved to take him home, but $500.00 was just a touch expensive. Have you noticed lately that a lot of plant nurseries have quite the collection of very large and very tame animals and birds just waiting to be adopted for a price?


If you like Yotam Ottolenghis recipes, and who doesn't, you will love this book by Greg and Lucy Malouf, "A Chef's Journey through Persia". I have a copy on order, after a good friend lent me his for a while. 


I'm sending this to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings who hosts the monthly IMK series. Thanks Sherry.

Warm wishes
Pauline