Hand Made Heaven | Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

I have a lot of cook books. Like, a lot. I’ve just realised that, of the bookshelf that is entirely dedicated to cook books, it’s full. I have come to the conclusion that I can never ever move from my current house, because moving the books is just too damn hard.

Whether you have overflowing selves like me, or no shelves, or you just want a book that covers all your day-to-day baking needs, get your hands on this. Hand Made Baking is an instant classic, and will be your go-to bible for years to come. Everything is practical, within reach of beginners, but with enough finesse to please a more seasoned baker. His tag line of simple, sophisticated, delicious is just about the perfect description for every recipe.

And Kamran? He writes over at The Sophisticated Gourmet, a gorgeous blog that I’ve been following for a little while now. Oh, and he’s 22. That’s right, TWENTY BLOODY TWO. To be so good, so young, Kamran quite simply had to be born to this. And we are all the better for it.

The forecast for Perth this weekend is pretty monstrous – storms, wind, rain, and cold, AKA Bri’s dream weather, on the proviso I can spend it in bed with books and movies. And probably a bowl of this, because why wouldn’t you? 

This apple crumble is perfect all on its own, but I couldn’t help but add lashings of salted butter caramel that I had tucked away in the fridge. There are few recipes that I make more than once, but I made this every weekend for a month, for the guys at work, for Rob, for friends at a party, because there is no one who won’t love this recipe.

P.S. Kamran’s tip of using half sweet apples and half tart is the perfect way of getting a balanced, not overly sweet crumble. Genius.

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

Adapted from Hand Made Baking by Kamran Siddiqi

2 tsp lemon juice
6 apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup caramel sauce (store bought is fine, or something like this)

120g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of cinnamon
85g cold unsalted butter, chopped
150g traditional oats
70g brown sugar

Heat your oven to 200*C. Spray a brownie pan with oil, or grease with butter.

Combine the sliced apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Combine the sugar, salt and cinnamon, then add to the apples and carefully stir to coat. Pour into the baking dish, scatter tablespoons of caramel over the apples.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl large enough to get your hands into. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the oats and combine.

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Cover the apples with the crumble, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the crumble is golden. Serve with custard or ice cream

 
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The cure to all your problems

It took no more than 3 days after Perth’s cold weather kicked in for one of my housemates to come down ill.

The Plauge Man-flu is as merciless as it is swift and incapacitating. The sniffles and aches, headaches and sneezing; it’s truly a wonder that health organisations don’t take it more seriously. There is, of course, only one known cure for man-flu – the magic of chicken soup.

Now, before you tell me that’s an old wives’ tale, science has my back (thanks, science!) on this one. With its anti-inflammatory properties and congestion clearing super-powers, getting a big bowl of this into your belly is probably the best life choice you can make when curled up on the couch with a box of Kleenex and 6 seasons of Sons of Anarchy.

I loved this recipe because it’s packed with vegetables for nutrition, pasta to fill you up, and plenty of juicy chicken, which is everyone’s favourite part. The stock base for the soup can even be made in advance and frozen if you’re a little short on time.

So, as soon as man-flu kicked in, a pot of this went on the stove, because there’s nothing in this world that is more comforting than this soup. Promise.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

4 carrot
4 sticks celery
3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
sea salt
4 whole peppercorns
1 free range chicken (see note)
1 large knob butter
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
200g fresh egg pasta
200g baby spinach
1 lemon

 

Roughly chop 2 carrots and celery sticks, then add to a large pot over medium heat with the chicken carcass, 2 diced onions, bay leaves, peppercorns and a big pinch of salt. Cover the chicken completely with water – roughly 1.5 litres. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.

 

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While the stock simmers, dice the remaining carrots and celery into even pieces. In another large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; add the garlic, remaining onion and parsley and gently cook until soft but not brown. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.

When the stock is done, remove the chicken and shred the meat, setting it aside. Discard the carcass. Strain the stock, reserving the liquid and discarding the vegetables.

Add the stock to your second pot. Bring the soup base to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add the egg pasta, baby spinach and shredded chicken and simmer for a further couple of minutes until the pasta is cooked. Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a really good piece of sourdough slathered in butter. Seriously.

 

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NOTE:
So, in terms of the chicken you use, you can go two ways.
1) If you use a whole, raw chicken, you can break it down into parts following a video like this one. Breaking it down makes the chicken easier to handle once it’s cooked.
2) If raw chicken freaks you out, you can simply use a roasted chicken from the supermarket. Pull roughly 2/3 of the meat off the bones, shred it, then leave it in the fridge until a few minutes before serving – stir it though and simmer for a couple of minutes to warm it up. Add the carcass and remaining meat to make the stock in the first step.

Good eye might: An Australian education

Shameful admission time: until this week, I had never made a pavlova before.

I can only put it down to mum not being a fan of them, and as such, I never thought to make them either. The pavlova can be a tired, worked cliche, however a well made one is still a thing to marvel.

With Eat Drink Blog being such a big event, there were plenty of other duties to partake in. First of all, was welcoming our fantastic international blogger Adam Roberts from Amateur Gourmet, all the way over from LA. We arranged a BBQ beach dinner for him, in conjunction with the brilliant team from Tourism WA, Experience Perth and Rich Keam, WA’s Taste Master. You can check out Adam’s post on our dinner here – and yes, it was me who taught Ads to ruin the English language, in true blue, ocker style.

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I told our international guests to be kind with their evaluations of my first pavlova; that if I failed at making one, then I’d be sent to Tasmania as penance. Yes, if you do badly in this life, you get shipped to the penal colony, and if you do bad in the penal colony, you get shipped to Tassie. I’m not sure they realised I was kidding.

I used this fool-proof recipe from SBS Food – it was gorgeously crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I split the mix in half and made two pavs, then stacked one on top of the other, but whichever way you do it, it’s all good!

Mixed Berry Pavlova

Adapted from SBS Food

6 egg whites
330 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp cornflour, sifted
600 ml thickened cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 handful strawberries, sliced
1 handful blueberries
Handful of mint leaves, shredded
Strawberry syrup, recipe here

Preheat oven to 130°C.

On some baking paper, draw around a large plate or cake pan as a template for the size of your pav. Turn the baking paper over, then line a baking tray.

Using a mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Continue mixing, adding a tablespoon of sugar at a time, until the mixture is glossy and thick. Gently fold in the vanilla paste and cornflour until combined.

Pour the mixture onto the baking paper, and smooth to the edges of the circle you’ve drawn. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and leave to cool with the door closed. I left mine overnight.

Whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the pavlova, then decorate with berries, syrup and mint leaves.
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I have abandonment issues.

Everyone is leaving me. I wish I was kidding.

One close friend packed up and moved to Melbourne late last year. Another moved to Dubai, and flits in and out with the predictability of a cyclone. The Best Friend is moving to Canberra next month to join the Army. I’m beginning to get a complex, maybe it’s me.

But the latest jewel in my string of goodbyes are the team of gorgeous people I worked with before swapping roles in November. They’re moving offices, leaving me with no one to fist bump at random points during the day. Who will I palm my baking experiments off onto now? I do have other friends, but I happen to also like these ones. You guys are selfish. Stoppit.

Anyhow, sulking aside. All these farewells mean only one thing: Tequila Food. Barbecues, morning tea, dinners. In typical fashion, I expressed my begrudging happiness for my friends in the only way I know how.

I love cherries. They’re how I know it’s Christmas time, and when I got older, they were the reward at the bottom of champagne cocktails. I hate champagne. Glace cherries were always quickly funneled out of mum’s pantry. The morello cherries are slightly sour, giving balance to the overly sweet glace.

Cherry Ripe Tart

Pastry – from What Katie Ate
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
100g chopped butter
3 tbsp chilled water

Filling – from Taste
1 1/2 cups (265g) morello cherries in syrup
1/4 cup caster sugar
200g chopped red glace cherries
3 tsp arrowroot or tapioca flour
1 cup shredded coconut
150g dark chocolate
2 tbs pouring cream

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add the sugar, and stir to combine. Add the butter, and work to a consistency of fine breadcrumbs (or dirt, which is kind of what it looks like). Add water, a tablespoon at a time and mix until a dough forms. You may not need all of the water, so add slowly. Wrap the dough in cling wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

2) On a floured surface, roll out the dough. Line a loose-bottomed tart pan with the pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork, then line with baking paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and weights and further bake for 5 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

3) Drain the cherries, keeping 1/2 cup of syrup. Place the sugar, morello and glace cherries and syrup in a small saucepan medium over heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine the arrowroot with 2 tbsp of the liquid from the pan, mixing until a smooth paste. Add the paste to the cherry mixture and stir for a minute, cooking, until thick. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Fold the coconut into the cherry mixture, then spoon into the tart and refrigerate for an hour to set.

4) Warm the cream in a pan over simmering water. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, stirring while it melts. Set aside to allow the ganache to cool for 10 minutes. Spread the cooled ganache over the tart, slice and serve.

Tapioca flour or arrowroot is a thickener, akin to corn flour. You could probably swap them if you don’t have arrowroot, however it may make the mixture a little cloudy. But that’s ok, it won’t impact the taste at all.

The cherries I found in my local supermarket, in with the tinned fruit, not where you find the glace cherries. Also, if you can’t be bothered making the pastry (you should though, it’s really easy) you can sub in Careme chocolate shortcrust pastry (300g worth), found in the supermarket of IGAs.

REVOLUTION.

Tomorrow is May 19.

Not too long ago, I was asked to chaperone (read: babysit) a friend’s boyfriend on a trip to the supermarket. He had been tasked with making cauliflower cheese. He was a 26-year-old engineer. Who didn’t know what cauliflower was.  Needless to say the rest of the trip through the supermarket didn’t go well, as the only thing he knew how to find was Coke and garlic bread. Seriously.

I’m aware that I’ve had a very lucky upbringing with food. I’m also aware that not everyone likes everything. But to not know what a common vegetable was? I was completely gobsmacked.

Turns out, this is a little more common than you might imagine. Kids growing up who can’t identify that milk comes from a cow. Don’t recognise vegetables. Who will not eat anything that doesn’t come out of a carton or a paper bag. Ask your friends who are teachers just how horrifying school lunchboxes are.

I love a sneaky take out as much as the next person. I’m the first one to beg for a bacon and egg mcmuffin if I have a hangover. But that’s not a way to eat. Every. Single. Meal.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is May 19. Food Revolution Day.

It’s a concept being championed by Jamie Oliver. You don’t have to like Jamie to get behind this one.

We all know the stats about obesity, heart disease, diabetes. We also have been hearing the stories about the terrifying things that Americans are having their food filled with (pink slime – sounds delicious). It’s real, it’s serious, and it’s actually going to kill you.

Tomorrow. Visit your local farmers market. Talk to your local butcher. Go fishing. Make something from scratch. Anything. It doesn’t have to be hard, time consuming or complicated. Teach your kids, teach yourself that you and your body deserves more than what a deep fryer can give you.

Damn the man, save the Empire!
But make ‘the man’ food corporations, and ‘the Empire’ yourself. You get what I mean.

Peanut butter ice-cream time!

I get cravings. Cravings that make pregnant women seem perfectly sound of mind. My cravings, when they kick in with full force, turn me manic with borderline Terminator-level focus.

This time around, it was a little unusual. Kitsch in Leederville is one of my favourite places for a feed. It also serves up my favourite dessert, a peanut butter ice cream sandwich. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but trust me. It’s amazing. So, when the need kicked in while I was at work one afternoon,  I bounded out at lunch and headed straight for the closest gelato shop. Then the next one. And the next one. And the one after that.

No one made peanut butter ice cream.

Sure, I made do with cookies and cream, but it wasn’t the same, the craving remained.
You know what they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and luckily for me, my mother bought me an ice cream maker.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

From Recipe Girl

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate peanut butter cups (8 to 10 regular-sized PB cups)

1. In a mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add milk and mix on low until sugar is completely dissolved. Mix in the cream and vanilla and beat until combined.

2. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, and mix according to instructions. I mixed mine on the lowest setting, and it only took about 15 minutes of churning. Just before you’re done mixing, add the chopped peanut butter cups if you’re using them. The ice cream should be a soft-serve consistency.

3. Keep ice cream in a sealed plastic container in the freezer.

I also love the idea suggested to me by my gorgeous friend at Colpanna, to warm a little strawberry jam and pour over the top. PB & J sundae, anyone?

As fate would have it…

Some meals are like serendipity.

It’s been a long weekend. Sadly, not in a ‘I’ve had 4 days off’ kind of long weekend; it’s just that I haven’t stopped yet. Between birthdays and dinners, markets and movies, rugby and one seriously large puppy play date… I barely had a minute to stop and realise it’s completely pouring with rain outside. Perth’s first day of serious rain all year. It was gorgeous.

My first stop on a Saturday is always the Subiaco Farmers Markets for my week’s shopping. I love getting advice from the farmers as to what they like best, or product recommendations for anything I plan on cooking.
Stopping to see The Beef Guy, I was quickly sold on some beautiful, slightly fatty mince. I didn’t have plans for it but just couldn’t say no.

As fate would have it, Saturday afternoon brought a delivery from Urban Locavore. This month’s box features some gorgeous fresh pasta from Golden Ravioli. My impulse beef mince was quickly becoming a cold weather feast of classic comfort food – bolognese.

Simple Spaghetti Bolognese

1 tbs olive oil
20g butter
2 brown onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g beef mince
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 tbs dried oregano
3 dried bay leaves
375g  spaghetti

1) Cook onion and garlic in the oil and butter in a large saucepan, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion softens. Add the mince, breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until the mince changes colour.

2) Add the tomato paste, wine, tomato, oregano and bay leaves, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 1 hour or until sauce reduces and thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

3) Cook the pasta to packet instructions. Drain

4) Divide the spaghetti among bowls and spoon over bolognese sauce. Grate over the parmesan and serve immediately.