Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Self-Crusting Quiche


Quiche without pastry just sounds so wrong. Pastry is amazing; it just makes everything just taste extra good. Oddly enough though, I've been making my quiche without pastry for years and I find it just as delicious. The key is just to pimp out your filling with tasty flavours. It's definitely my go-to recipe when I realise I haven't got a dinner planned because as far as fillings go, anything goes, even your leftovers or vegetables that are no longer looking so fresh.

I don't really have a set list of filling ingredients as the world's your oyster. Fillings I've used range from pumpkin to sardines. All ingredients just get mixed in a bowl then poured in your cooking dish. Couldn't be too much simpler. For the one in the photo we were running low on food supplies so I just used what we had on hand: 1 x 185g tin of tuna in red thai curry, some chopped silverbeet and a teaspoon each of crushed ginger and garlic. It was awesome!

So to get started here is the base-recipe for the quiche.

Self-Crusting Quiche:

3 eggs
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup plain flour (can use self raising flour, just omit the baking powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup grated cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
Seasonings: use anything you fancy, besides salt and pepper you can use whatever flavours you like: ginger; garlic; spice mixes like Cajun, bbq or Indian, or any herbs or spices of your choice.
Fillings: any veges or proteins of your choosing.(For the quiche in the photo I had added 1 x 185g tin of tuna in red thai curry, chopped silverbeet and a teaspoon each of crushed ginger and garlic. It was simple but delicious.)

Method: Beat the eggs in a large bowl then add the other wet ingredients. Add the flour and baking powder and whisk it together to get rid of any lumps, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into a 22cm/9 inch round dish and bake at 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit), for approx 30-40 minutes or until set in the centre.

Makes one 22cm round quiche.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Fig Ice Cream


Making your own ice cream is so rewarding and fun. The world's your oyster when it comes to flavour combinations, and there are different ways to make your ice cream base. For example, some recipes require making a custard-type base using eggs (such as in my pistachio ice cream recipe) and others are more basic like a sherbet using only water and milk. These will offer differing levels of creaminess.

Recently I wanted to experiment with making a creamy ice cream without having to faff about using eggs, basically I wanted to be lazier and also use less ingredients. And here is the result, a rich and creamy ice cream just using sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. I used dried figs and cinnamon as my flavours, which is an amazing combination, but it'd work with millions of other flavours too. I'll definitely be experimenting more with it. Good thing is you don't even need an ice cream machine to get good results, you just need to be aware of a few tips if you're unfamiliar with making handmade ice cream, so I'll be sure to put those with the recipe.

FIG ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

200g dried figs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups whole milk
1 tin of sweetened condensed milk (397g)
(Almond flakes and extra chopped dried figs as optional garnish)

Method:

Add the dried figs, cinnamon and half of the milk (2 cups) to a saucepan.
Bring to boil, simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the figs soften.
Remove from heat and let cool. Blend until smooth.
Now add the rest of the milk (2 cups) and sweetened condensed milk.
Whisk well.
Pour into a shallow, freeze-proof container.
Place in freezer, follow instructions below.
Serve.

Tips:


To ensure a creamier ice cream, remove the ice cream from the freezer as it just starts to freeze around the edges. Blend or beat the mixture to remove the lumps and incorporate air into it. It's best to do this often until it's too frozen to handle anymore. I tend to do it every hour as it takes my ice cream several hours to set, but your timing might be different. You could skip all of this and just leave it to freeze, but the result will be more icy. Also, handmade ice cream tends to freezer quite hard, so you'll need to let it stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before attempting to serve it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grape Tartlets


Recently I was given a whole bunch of grapes. Well technically it was several bunches, and was more than I could eat. So, since necessity is the mother of all invention, I decided to try an incorporate them into some baking. So here this tartlet recipe was born.

I decided to use the grapes to make a jam/jelly type thing, then used it to fill some homemade tart cases. The pastry creates a 'buttery biscuit base' similar to shortbread, but the jam is the highlight. I'd make it again just to use on its own as a jam or a dessert sauce. I never knew or expected grape jam to be so good. It's sweet but not overly so and has a smooth tangy grape flavour, reminds me a bit of rhubarb jam in that it's nice and earthy with a mild tartness. If I ever inherit more of those grapes they will end up being bottled for sure. I don't think this recipe would work so well with certain store bought grapes, especially seedless ones, as you want a strong robust flavoured grape, nothing too sweet or watery. I'm not sure of the variety I was given, but you can see them in the pic below. They were ideal.


I'm now really keen to look more into making jams and preserves, I've only ever dabbled in it. However, the amount of sugar you need in a lot of recipes is quite scary. But no worse than store bought stuff I guess. Plus it'd be quite a handy skill to have, especially when there is an abundance of seasonal produce.

Anyway enough rambling, onto the recipe!


GRAPE TARTLETS
(makes approx 42)

Dough:
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup (225g) salted butter, chilled and cut into small chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt
(note: you can use unsalted butter, just add 3/4 tsp salt instead of 1/4)
1/4 cup ice cold water

Jam:
4 cups (680g) grapes
4 cardamom pods, crushed
Juice of one lemon (approx 3 tablespoons)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used some mandarin sugar which added extra dimension)
Pinch salt

Make the dough:  Combine flour sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (see the pic).  Add the ice water, a little bit at a time, and mix until the dough holds together. Knead the dough into a ball or two then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough keeps well in fridge so you can even prepare it a day or two ahead.

Make the jam: Add the grapes and lemon juice to saucepan. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently, you can even mash them with a potato masher or spoon to help grapes release their juices. Next, strain this mixture through a sieve (you should end up with just under 2 cups juice). Return the juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in sugar and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for approx 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool, stir occasionally. Will thicken up even more upon cooling.

Make the tartlets: Remove dough from fridge, use extra flour to dust and roll out to approx 3mm thick. Use an appropriate sized cutter to cut out disks to fit in the bottom of lightly greased muffin or cupcake pans (I use a 9cm cookie cutter).  Fill the dough cases with a bit of jam liquid, for my sized tarts I used 1 heaped teaspoon of jam. Just note: too much jam will result in it bubbling over.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-25 min at 190 Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).

Makes 42