Tag Archives: sweet

Here’s an idea

What’s with this weather? What’s with my body? I’m freezing! Where are the curtains I ordered (in September)? I want my curtains so that I can shut out the weather. I want to cocoon myself in a centrally heated, thick (heavily interlined) curtained house. No, hang on. Scratch that. Actually I want to hibernate. Yes, that would be better. Why can’t humans hibernate? Avoid the cold and the damp altogether, avoid S.A.D. syndrome, avoid over-eating starch because it temporarily makes you feel better but leaves you feeling and looking like a little human butterball by the Spring.

Wake me up when it’s Spring, would you?

dreamy-doormouse

Photo from the Daily Mail online

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Chocolate Tart

choc-eggsThis tart is perfect to celebrate Easter but when it comes to chocolate I think most of us agree that anytime is the right time to eat this! 

This recipe (only very slightly adaped) is from Rachel Allen’s excellent book ‘Bake’.

INGREDIENTS

For the sweet pastry:

200g (7oz) plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

100g (3-1/2 oz) chilled butter, cubed

1/2 – 1 medium egg, beaten

For the tart:

1 x quantity of sweet pastry (using the above)

175 ml (6 fl oz) double cream

125 ml (4 fl oz) milk

125g (4 -1/2 oz) milk chocolate, chopped

175g (6 oz) good quality dark chocolate, chopped

2 eggs, well beaten

Optional decoration (for Easter) …

250g (9 oz) sugar-coated chocolate eggs, to decorate

Otherwise … a handful of toasted almonds or chopped pecan or pistachio nuts.  

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You will also need a 23cm (9 in) diameter tart tin

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Method:

First, make the pastry …  Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly.  Add half the beaten egg and continue to whiz.  You can add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.  (If making by hand, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together).

Then, with your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm (3/4 in) thick.  Wrap it in cling film or place in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  (‘Resting’ the pastry like this is important because it stops it becoming too sticky and reduces shrinking during cooking).

Once the pastry is rested, preheat the oven to 180C  / 350F / Gas mark 4.  Roll out the pastry to no more than 1/4 inch thick (Rachel recommends placing the pastry between two sheets of cling film to do this) making it big enough to line the tart tin.  Bake the tart blind at the above temperature for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry.

To make the filling …

1.  Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan to boiling point then immediately take off the heat and stir in the chocolate to melt.  Allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then stir in the beaten eggs.

2.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the baked pastry case and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until just softly set.

3.  Allow the tart to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin.

If serving at Easter time, you can decorate with sugar-coated chocolate eggs.  Alternatively at other times of the year add a handful of toasted hazlenuts to the chocolate mixture and bake as step 2.

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Cooking dilemmas: Too salty / too sweet

What now?!Getting the right balance of flavours in food can sometimes be tricky.  If you’re reducing any liquid on the hob, bear in mind that flavours will be intensified so be careful about how much salt you add to begin with.  To state the obvious : It’s easier to add more after reduction than it is to take away! 

GRAVY: 

Be careful particularly when making gravy  The juices left at the bottom of your roasting pan often have intense flavour, including saltiness, so extra seasoning is rarely necessary.  You may be tempted to reach for the wine (for the pan – not you!) in order to balance things out.  Don’t.  Wine tends to further emphasise saltiness. In the case of over-salted gravy, add more stock or water and some parsley to absorb the salt.  If you find your gravy then lacks flavour add one of the following: a little redcurrant jelly, butter, a tablespoon of medium or sweet sherry or even a small piece of stock cube (because commercially made stock cubes are, in themselves, salty)!

OTHER FOODS:

All may not be lost and depending on what you’re preparing, you have a few options: 

For soups and stews add a raw potato and continue to cook for about 15 minutes.  As the potato cooks it will absorb some of the salt and you can remove it at the end.  

White bread-crumbs, cream and parsley will all help mask too much salt.

For French dressing or any sauce that you think could take a hint of sweetness, adding a little sugar will balance out the flavours.

Conversely, if you have made a food too sweet and you think it can take it, add a pinch of salt or a dash of vinegar.

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Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals (particularly vitamins A and C) and they are higher in complex carbohydrates than ordinary potatoes, so as well as helping to regulate blood-sugar levels, they will also make you feel fuller for longer.  …Could be good news for dieters therefore (not that any of us are thinking about diets right now)!

Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Makes 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch thick rounds

3 tablespoons of olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespons of fresh thyme leaves or a healthy sprinkling of any dried herb you fancy – I suggest ‘mixed’ herbs or oregano

Half a teaspoon of salt

Half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (if you can’t get these you could substitute paprika)

Set the oven at 230C  / 450F  / Gas mark 8

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Pre-heat the oven.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss.  Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on a heavyweight, rimmed baking sheet or in a 13×9-inch baking dish.  Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned – about 35 – 40 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

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