Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Linzer Biscuits December 28, 2008

Filed under: Cookies — smop @ 12:10 pm
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I went through 5 years worth of my Super Food Ideas magazine collection and ripped out the recipes I wanted to keep, organised and filed them; and while doing so came across a recipe for Linzer biscuits, which I found out is an adaptation of the Austrian Linzertorte.  Given that I had a) lots of time, b) had no inspiration to make anything else and c) love sandwiched goodies … melting moments, macaroons, oreos and the humble sandwich itself, I decided to give these a go.

Mum goes to me as I was rolling out dough for the 3rd time, “Don’t you find it time consuming … having to knead, then roll, chill the dough, cut out the cookies, chill it again before you actually bake it?”.
“That’s why I’m doing these!”
And Mum looked at me strangely.  (When she bakes, she prefers things that are quick, easy and require minimal fuss).   These roll-chill-and-then-bake cookies however need time and patience, which is absolutely perfect for taking my mind off things for an hour or two.

The dough rolled out beautifully without cracking and after freezing it for a bit, was lovely to work with — as all the offcuts would come off without a hassle.

cookie cutter.jpg

cooling cookies.jpg

I made a couple of them with holes for it to actually look like the real thing — but Ray having a particular palate, I left most of them as they were as they came out of the oven.  Of course, one could substitute anything for jam .. nutella, peanut butter, frosting even.

linzer star.jpg

heart linzer.jpg

And having some dough left over, I made some gingerbread man shaped ones, and stuck chocolate chips for buttons.  Would’ve been lovely had I been bothered to make some icing for the eyes … another time 🙂

linzer gingerbread 1.jpg

I had a taste test of them and they turned out really good!  They were crisp and the biscuits themselves weren’t too sweet so to allow for the jam to make up for it.  Will definitely make them again!  And invest in a proper Linzer cutter (I spent a while hunting around the kitchen for something just the right size for that hold in the middle).

Linzer Biscuits
(Recipe adapted from Super Food Ideas)

The amount varies depending on how big your cutters are.  I used 4cm cutters and got a good 30-odd prior to being sandwiched.

Ingredients

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional) – I didn’t add any and it tasted fine
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 2/3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Jam or spread of your liking

Method

  1. Beat butter, vanilla & sugar with electric mixer until well combined.  Add egg and mix well.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon over butter mixture.  Stir until mixture forms a dough (may take a bit of time).  Knead gently to bring together
  3. Divide dough into 2 and place between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until 3-5 mm thick (but really just so long it’s not a centimeter, anything will do)
  4. Place in freezer for a few minutes or until firm.
  5. Preheat oven to 180oC
  6. Using a biscuit cutter, cut as many as you can and arrange them on lined trays.
  7. With a couple of them, find a smaller cutter and cut out holes — the original recipe said to freeze them first before cutting the holes but I found that this caused the actual biscuit to crack so it’s best to do it all in 1 hit
  8. Freeze for another few minutes until firm to cut
  9. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly golden.  Allow biscuits to cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring them onto a wirerack.
  10. Before serviing, spread jam over whole biscuits and pop sandwich cut-out biscuits on top.

I had to choose a recipe that didn’t require using ground almonds, given Ray’s allergic to it .. but scour the web and there’ll be a ‘traditional’ recipe!

 

Chicken, leek & mushroom risotto with black truffles December 21, 2008

Filed under: Risotto,Savoury,Truffles — lewislikesolives @ 5:53 pm

If you pause for a moment in our busy lives, you might realise that much of the efforts made in life are geared towards gaining a status or possessions to set yourself apart from those around you, to move up the social economic ladder (or in the case of a mid-life crisis, a porche is often used to reaffirm one’s existance). Such is the way that society defines success most of the time, though how fulfilling such a life would be is beyond the scope of this food blog. Or any food blog really… But one might argue that truffles, with the raw material fetching up to thousands of dollars per kilogram, sits on top of the gastronomic status ladder. Have you made it when you can afford such luxuries in life? or is it a waste of money, what is the fuss about? and more importantly – can you have it at home on a budget?

Well, I have only recently discovered that you can pick up a small jar of truffle salsa for around 40 bucks at quality delis, and trust me, it could last you a while. And seeing that I’m the type of guy who likes fool proof recipes – this is definitely one of my favourites for a hearty meal to impress. Again, like the ice-cream recipe posted earlier (courtesy of chef-extraordinaire & friend Beck), when the ingredients you use are all decadent and delicious in itself, you really can’t go wrong so long as you don’t burn it. Or drop it on the floor. Actually that is not true – truffles in itself is an acquired taste already (some question if is it really gourmet or just gross?), so you can definitely spoil the risotto by adding TOO MUCH black truffle salsa – it’s strong stuff!! In which case, wash it down with a glass/bottle of Moet…

Chicken, leek & mushroom risotto with black truffles
serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, diced & marinated for at least 30 minutes
  • 1/2 brown onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, only use white part, thinly sliced
  • 250g brown swiss mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 3 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 1.5L warm chicken stock
  • 2 & 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp of black truffle salsa, or to taste
  • Unsalted butter as needed
  • Shaved parmesan cheese to fold through, and to serve
  • Cracked black pepper to season

Chicken marinade – 2 tbsb dark soy, 2 tsp corn flour; mix well

Method

Cook chicken through with equal parts butter and olive oil, then set aside. In the same pan on medium heat, sweat onion & leek with a good amount of olive oil until fragrant & soft. Add rice and stir well, allowing rice to absorp the pan juices. Add 1.5 cups of the white wine and stir until all absorbed. Add garlic. Add warm chicken stock, 1-2 ladles at a time to rice, stir well while allowing all the liquid to be absorbed, before the next lot. Do so for approx 30 minutes or until rice is soft and of a risotto texture. Stir in mushrooms and allow to soften. Return chicken to the rice, stir in baby spinach, and turn the heat to low and stir through. Add 1/2 cup remaining wine, stir in 2-4 small cubes of butter, and truffle salsa. Take off heat, stir in desired amount of shaved parmesan. Season with pepper, garnish with shaved parmesan.

 

Sausage buns December 20, 2008

Filed under: Breads,Savoury — smop @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Since Mum had come back from HK, she brought back a heap of Asian cooking magazines; and while poring through them, I’ve been hit by Asian-food cooking fever and then decided that I wanted to try my hands on making sausage buns (腸仔包).

The original recipe is from this site (http://yujai.blogspot.com/2007/08/sausage-bun.html).  I’ve just put the recipe with my own modifications below

This is what they’re supposed to look like …

This is how mine turned out

sausage bun1

Slightly overcooked (the annoying thing about a fan-forced oven) and lacking that sheen, but otherwise not too bad for the first time I guess (even if I say so, heh!).

Sausage buns
Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 40g Bread Flour
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 40g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 160 mL warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 12 cocktail sausages or 6 frankfurts, halved.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine everything except butter.  Beat until well blended (about 7 min) using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (I used a handheld mixer & it was OK!).  Add in butter (in small cubes) and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. 1st Rise:  Shape into a ball.  Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once.  Cover, and let rise in a warm place until 2.5X in size (60-90 min).
  3. Punch the risen dough down completely.
  4. Divide dough into 12 portions.  Cover, and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
  5. To shape for sausage buns, roll each dough into a long strip and roll Roll the strip around the sausage diagonally.
  6. 2nd Rise: Let the dough rise until doubled in size (50-60 min).
  7. Preheat oven to 200C
  8. Brush egg wash or milk on the top of each dough.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Some more pictures.

tray1

prebaked

There was a lot of waiting involved with making this.  1.5 hours for the first rise, then 15 minutes resting and then another hour for the 2nd rise.  I was running short of time as I had to go off to dinner, so enlisted the help of a warm oven to speed the process up a bit.  This was prior to the 2nd rise.

And another baked photo

baked

The bread was alright — it had probably a bit too much of a crunchy crust as opposed to the soft ones found in HK bakeries.  The inside was fluffy and had a sweet aftertaste to it.  While Mum and I were discussing what it was about the ones I made that were different to the commercial ones in terms of taste and appearance, Ray had come along and grabbed his second helping of it.  So I guess they didn’t taste too bad, and even if the bread wasn’t the right thing, at least the sausage tasted nice.

Will try again next time.
They tasted better the next day (I’d left them in the fridge, then nuked it in the microwave for about 40s – soft and sweet)

I’d love to take a course in making Asian breads and dimsims one day.

 

Figs, Honey & Macadamia Nuts Ice Cream December 14, 2008

Filed under: Dessert,Nuts — lewislikesolives @ 10:30 pm
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It has come to my attention recently that most of us take many of life’s wonders and pleasures for granted. And along with this, we all seem to lose that sense of wonder and curiousity as we grow older; no longer do we ask why the sky is blue or why toothpaste is always white. So, even though I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, nor would I consider myself much of a philosopher – I have decided to take on one of life’s big questions this weekend: where does ice-cream come from (other than out of a tub)? And more importantly – can it be made at home?

And just over an hour later, it was evident that the answers to the above questions are resounding “YES’s”, with the downside being that without an ice cream machine, it would have been impossible – the only alternative that I can think of is to stand inside a industrial freezer with the tub of custard and stir the mixture manually while it turned into the said product (as an ice cream maker is exactly that – a freezer that stirs custard to ice cream. Funky huh?) Also, it was a lot of fun as well, mostly due to the fact that you are reassured that what ever you do – it would turn out creamy and delicious. Of course, common sense prevails, I would never anticipate pate flavoured ice cream to be much of a crowd pleaser…

 

  

Fig, honey and macadamia ice cream
Custard

  • 2.5c milk +0.5c
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1.5 tsp cornflour
  • 1.5 heaped tbsp fig jam + 1.5 heaped tbsp honey (or all honey, to taste)
  • 1 cap brandy (2 tsp)

Heat 2.5c milk to simmer in saucepan, then whisk egg yolks, cornflour and remaining milk until smooth.
Pour approx 1c hot milk into egg yolk mixture while mixing before pouring back into saucepan. Heat over low heat until custard thickens. Take off heat immediately. Mix in fig jam/honey and brandy,taste and adjust sweetness. Cool in fridge over night before churning in ice cream maker.

Macadamia/fig mix:

  • 1/2c roasted macadamias, crushed into small pieces
  • 5 dried figs
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 1tbsp brown sugar

Finely chop figs. Put in saucepan with honey and brown sugar and 1/4c water, then cook over low heat until figs are softened and sauce slightly thick (may need to add more water/honey/sugar to taste). Take off heat and let cool. When ice cream is done, stir macadamias and figs through.

Makes approx 1 litre

 (I would like to acknowledge Beck, chef-extraordinaire and friend, for providing the recipe & her ice cream factory, Eton for smashing the macadamia nuts and mushing the figs)

Eatery Of The Week:

  • DOC Pizza & Mozarella Bar – 299 Drummond St, Carlton. Victoria. (03) 9347 2998 No bookings.
    The antipasto was brilliant as was the pizza with lemon. An unexpected combination but really quite fantastic. Also, the music there is so bad it’s awesome – it’s like eurovision.
 

Carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting December 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — smop @ 10:27 pm

I read a number of food blogs, and when all of them post up a recipe, there is always a story behind the creation – let it be a memory that particular recipe reminds them of, or it’s the first recipe they’ve been successful at, what inspired them to make it that day … etc.  Unfortunately, if I were to do that – it would be very boring indeed.  I bake for a couple of reasons – because I’m bored, stressed, wanting to try out a new recipe, have things to use up in my pantry … and at any one time it would be all of them, or just one of them.

For the carrot muffins I made the other day, I really wanted to test out a much-raved about recipe, and the half jar of applesauce sitting in the fridge needed to be used up before mould started growing.

They turned out amazing!  I got a lot of comments about how delicious they were from unexpected people, and even person telling me that I had gotten into the wrong career.  In case this blog somehow finds its way in the prying eyes of my parents, I assure you (and them) I have no intentions of quitting med as yet – to bake on a commercial scale seems to defeat the purpose of home-based baking.

frosted muffin

Carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting
Makes 18

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetend applesauce
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups shredded carrots (3-4 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, and extra to top

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175oC (350oF). Grease and flour muffin pan (or you can use a cake tin – just alter the baking times)
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, brown and white sugars and vanilla.
  3. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon.
  4. Stir in carrots and pecans.
  5. Pour into muffin tins.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
*

Cream cheese frosting

  • 115g unsalted butter softened
  • 225g light cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Beat butter and cream cheese on low speed for 5-7 minutes or until there are no lumps.  With mixer still running, slowly add sifted icing sugar and beat until mixture is light and creamy.  Pipe or spread onto cooled muffins and top with the extra chopped toasted pecans.

carrots

I made a mess of the bench shredding carrots.  And my hands were beta-carotene stained.

shredded carrots

pecans

Mixture resembling vomitus.

mixture

Make sure tins are sprayed well – otherwise it will be a fight against your tin, the muffins and yourself to get it out.

pans

The cooling phase.  Evidently, one has been eaten already.

fresh1

Frosted.
I had a 20 minute lunch break to make the frosting and frost them.  Limited time, no fancy schmancy piping bag (or even one that I could make from baking paper) often leads to haphazard frosting.

frosted

 

Banana and Pear Bread December 2, 2008

Filed under: Banana,Quickbread — smop @ 4:36 am
Tags: , ,

I had 2 pears on the verge of turning into mush and 2 bananas already too ripe for me to enjoy, and they all  begged to be used in a quickbread.  So I did.  I had a hunt around for recipes, and sort of did a mish mash of everything, hoping it’ll turn out OK.  Usually with baking I’m pretty anal about following the correct ratios of dry and wet ingredients (as it’s the chemistry of how the ingredients work together that produces the final product), but decided to give experimenting a go.  It tasted like banana bread (love the stuff) with pear chunks so it was a lovely combination of texture and tastes.

It was certainly a very quick, quickbread.  Minus the cooking time, it took me only 15 minutes to whip up.  (Which was perfect as I had to zip out to the labs in 20.  I left the timer on, and when I got back, I came home to a nice warm banana and pear bread ready to eat).

banana   pear bread

Banana & Pear Bread
Makes 1 loaf

  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 2 ripe pears, cut into ~1cm cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup olive / vegetable oil
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170C (350F).  Mash bananas in big bowl, add in pear chunks.  Add sugars, oil, eggs, vanilla and mix well.  Combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon in another bowl then add it to the wet mixture.  Mix till just combined.  Pop in a lined 9X5 loaf pan (or I’m sure these can be placed in muffin trays).  Cook for 50 minutes or when it tests as done.  Cool, slice, eat and store.

I’ve devoured 3 slices already.  Thankfully the rest have been frozen (which means there’s a chance I’ll forget about them and not finish it all before the weekend is over).