Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge 52 Pannacotta.

The latest Daring Kitchen Challenge is Pannacotta and Florentines, I was a bit slack with making mine which gave me the opportunity to read Audax’s notes.

The result was Vanilla Pannacotta with Caramel Poached Pears and Hazelnut Florentines.

Blog-checking lines: The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Recipe Source: Mallory used a Giada De Laurentiis recipe for PannaCotta and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I decided to simplify the pannacotta recipe a little and leave out the honey, I also wanted to do some poached pears and found the perfect ones at our local farmers market.

Paradise pears are only 3 or 4 centimeters high about 1 to 1 1/2 inches with all the flavour of a full size pear packed in.

Preparation time:
20-25 minutes to prepare the Panna Cotta - at least 6 hours to chill
20-25 minutes to prepare the cookies 6-8 minutes to bake
Equipment required:
Small mixing bowl
Two medium sized heavy bottom pot or saucepan
Wooden spoon and/or whisk
Glasses or ramekins - something to pour and serve your Panna Cotta in
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Silpat or wax paper or parchment paper
Baking sheet
Small bowl

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
2 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Natural Vanilla Extract
Pinch of salt
1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 30 minutes to soften the gelatin.
2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over low heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until the gelatine has dissolved then leave it aside to cool to room temperature while you do the next step.
3. Whip the cream to soft peaks then fold in the gelatine/milk mixture.
4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the wine glass or ramekin.
5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
I made the Pannacotta mid afternoon and we ate it about 3 hours later. It was amazing, the texture was so smooth and silky it was incredible.

I also poached the Paradise pears

1 cinnamon stick 5 cm
2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
2 cloves
2 pears or 6 small paradise pears
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Heat all ingredients except pears to a simmer, add pears cover and cook over low heat until just soft. After I took the pears out of the syrup I gently simmered the remaining syrup until it was thick and used this over the pears.

The amazing Audax always gives us the most useful of information and to get the whole lot you'll just have to go and join Daring Kitchen however in a nut shell he gave the following recommendations (This is a direct quote)

So to obtain the most flavoursome with the best melt-in-your-mouth textured panna cotta
1. Steep the flavouring up to 48 hours in the milk
2. Bloom your powered gelatin in the cold milk until it is full hydrated at least 30 minutes
3. Gently heat the bloomed gelatin and flavoured milk until the gelatin is fully dissolved (do not boil)
4. Let the dissolved flavoured gelatin mixture cool slowly to room temperature which allows for the protein bonds in gelatin to slowly rearrange and form a tight structured web. If gelatin is cooled too quickly the protein chains form a bulky weak-crossed web which has an unappealing mouth-feel.
5. When the flavoured gelatine mixture has cooled to room temperature heat 3/4 of the cream to blood heat (do not boil) add 2 tablespoons to the cooled gelatin mixture to temper it, then add the rest of the warmed cream
6. Gently whip the other 1/4 of cream (that is very cold) until thickened avoid air bubbles then fold into the gelatin mixture. Let cool 15 minutes then pour into moulds and then place into refrigerator.
7. Don't use any fruit such as fresh or frozen pineapple, kiwi fruit, papayas, pineapple, peaches, mangos, guavas, and figs because the gelatin won't set. They contain enzymes which break apart proteins like the collagen in gelatin. When the fruit is canned or cooked before using, it is heat treated, which destroys the enzyme and the fruit can be used. More acidic fruit, such as strawberries and citrus fruit may require more gelatin to set."

The florentines made a delicous dessert just bloody amazing. I cannot rhapsodize enough about how good this dessert was.

Hazelnut florentines
75 gm unsalted butter
75 grams ground hazelnuts
75 grams granulated sugar
50 grams plain (all purpose) flour
30 ml golden syrup
30 ml whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chocolate of choice

Directions: Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter add hazelnuts, sugar, flour, syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

I didn't do the chocolate and the sandwiching. I am watching my weight and honestly they didn't need it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Memory Food

I am feeling a bit nostalgic today, thinking on things I would like to change and things I wouldn't change. All the steps that have led to me being who I am. Memories good and bad. That led me to thinking on when I worked as a chef in an Italian restaurant,how we would start each day with a loaf of fresh bread and butter and a big mug of freshly brewed coffee. Lunch time was either really early or after the lunch rush and usually pizza. My favorite was a simple base with some olive oil and cheese grated over, when it came out of the oven the pizza guy would spread it with freshly sliced tomato, anchovies and basil and we would stand in the kitchen and eat it straight away. Good times, back when I was 15 years younger and could still eat whatever I wanted.
This led to me having a huge desire for just that pizza, but I certainly didn't want to wait for the dought to rise etc, so I pulled out a tried and true recipe.
Savoury Scone Loaf.
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed italian herbs
1 cup full fat cream
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 cup grated tasty cheese
2 tomatoes finely sliced
3 leaves of basil shredded
anchovies to taste
Set aside 1/2 the grated cheese.
Mix all the other ingredients together. Mix well and knead it lightly in the bowl.

Press out onto a sheet of bake paper and sprinkly the top with the reserved grated cheese.

Bake in a 200° Celsius oven on the top shelf for 15 - 20 minutes or until cooked.
As soon as you take it out of the oven spread the basil, tomatoes and anchovies if you are using them onto the hot scone loaf. Eat straightaway

Monday, February 14, 2011

World's Easiest Lemon Curd/Butter

The Passionfruit and Lemon curd I made a couple of weeks ago is all gone. It was fabulous even if I do say so my self. I had a lot of lemons and a low grade yearning for more so I made Lemon Curd instead, I also wanted it for the cake for Kristens baby shower. So here is the recipe.

Lemon Curd

1 cup lemon juice
200 grams butter
1 cup (220 grams) white sugar
Grated lemon rind of however many lemons you used for the juice
2 eggs
6 egg yolks

1. Check your jars for chips, cracks and nicks. Wash the lids. Wash, drain and preheat your jars in 100° Celsius oven for at least ten minutes.

2. Zest or finely grate the rind from enough lemons to make the 1 cup of juice.
Heat lemon juice, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and simmer until butter and sugar has melted.

3. Whisk the eggs and yolks until smooth and pale (you can use an electric mixer is you want to). Continue whisking slowly and pour the melted butter,sugar, juice,rind mixture into the egg and yolks. Return to the pot and cook over very low heat, whisking continuously until mixture becomes thick and just coats the spoon or is at a temperature of 75° C on your sugar thermometer.

4. Strain into stainless steel bowl.

Immeadiately put the hot put hot curd into the hot jars. Fill to within 1 cm of the lid. Put the lids on tightly immediately. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. Some of the lids will not vacuum seal. Use these first.
Makes approximately 3 cups curd.

Daring Cooks Tempura Challenge

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and
I didn't make the Soba Noodle Salad but I have made it before. It is delicous. I did make the Tempura - vegetables, fish and prawns. So delicous. I used Lisa's recipe exactly and it worked perfectly.
Preparation time:
10 Minutes for the sauce
10 Minutes for the noodles
30 Minutes for Vegetable Preparation
5 Minutes to Serve
Depending on you, I can make this meal, from walking in the door after work to sitting down to eat in under 30 minutes, so it should be pretty quick.
20 minutes vegetable preparation
10 minutes making the batter
30 minutes frying time
Again it depends how much your making and what equipment your using.
Equipment required:
 A Saucepan
 A colander
 Large Bowls
 Small bowls
 Ice
 A Knife
 A chopping Board
 A Deep pan for frying
 Oil for frying
 Small tongs or Chopsticks
 Covered container for shaking dipping sauce

Hiyashi Soba:
Recipes courtesy of Globetrotter Diaries and Food
Serves 4
Soba Noodles:
2 quarts (2 L) water + 1 cup cold water, separate 12 oz (340 g) dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)
Cooking the noodles:
1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.
2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.

Mentsuyu - Traditional dipping sauce:
2 cups (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi Or a basic vegetable stock.
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

1. Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Spicy Dipping Sauce:
¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce 2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.) Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste - roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each
1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.
Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:
Thin omelet strips
Boiled chicken breasts
Boiled bean sprouts
Toasted nori (Dried Seaweed) Green onions Wasabi powder
Finely grated daikon (Japanese radish)
Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger)
All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.
Traditionally soba is served on a bamboo basket tray, but if you don’t have these, you can simply serve them on a plate or in a bowl. Divide up the noodles, laying them on your serving dishes. Sprinkle each one with nori. In small side bowl or cup, place 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dipping sauce into each. In separate small side dishes, serve each person a small amount of wasabi, grated daikon, and green onions.
The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce. Feel free to slurp away! Oishii!

Recipes courtesy of pink bites and itsy bitsy foodies
Serves 4
1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup (240 ml) iced water
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
oil, for deep frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)
Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice ie:
 Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
 Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
 Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
 Green beans, trimmed
 Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
 Assorted fresh mushrooms
 Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
 Onions sliced
1. Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.
3. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.
4. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.
5. Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.
Additional Information:
Great instructions on preparing the noodles
How to make Tempura Soba
Someone who did it well
A collection of videos on how to prepare the vegetables for Tempura

Sunday, February 13, 2011


The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe from the Blog, accro. Accro is French for addicted.
She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.
Joconde imprime /entremets. A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets/ formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect.
This Joconde/spongecake requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. It over baked it will dry out and crack. Once cooled, the sponge may be cut into strips to line any shape ring mold.
Entremets (French baking term)- an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold. Think Trifle in a mold vs. a glass bowl.
A joconde imprime is the outside cake wrapper of the Entremets dessert.
Equipment required:
 Silpat
 ½ baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)
 Mixer (optional)
 Bowls
 Knives
 Offset spatula
 Regular spatula
 Pastry comb (optional)
 Rulers
 Spring form pan
 Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to mold individual desserts)
 Torte/ Entremets mold/ Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)
 Cling wrap
 Parchment paper
 Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional)

Joconde Sponge
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour
3 large eggs - about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted

1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in melted butter.
6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid
COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:
1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. I spread the chocolate paste quite thin and dragged it with a toothed pastry thingy I have.
3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.

4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

I used this for a cake for my daughter in laws baby shower.
I made a quarter of the decor paste and half the joconde sponge recipe to make the my tray full and then used the finished sheet of joconde to line a 9" springform tin.
Next I used a recipe from Renata's blog Testado,Provado e Aprovado for Tangerine Cake I didn't have any tangerines and I wanted to make a lemon cake so I substituted lemon for the tangerine. I didn't have any of the peel and I just used grated lemon rind. I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of natural lemon flavour as the lemons weren't as tasty as I would have liked.
Renata used a ring tin, I didn't want a ring tin as my plan was to cut the cake into layers so I used a 8 1/2" tin which was a perfect size to fit in the 9" springform tin after it was lined. One quantity of this cake was perfect.

I also used lemon curd, lemon pannacotta and in the center there is a layer of almond dacquoise. This used up the whites from the lemon curd.
The finished result is from the bottom up - a layer of lemon cake, a layer of lemon pannacotta, a layer of lemon curd, the almond dacquoise, lomon pannacotta, lemon curd, lemon cake, lemon pannacotta, lemon curd, joconde on the top and sides, yes I did make it upside down.
I didn't make enough of the joconde to line the sides of the ring properly. I patched together the bits. After the layering I covered the whole lot in gladwrap and let it set overnight. The last step was to turn it out and cover the sides of the cake with white chocolate ganache and ran lines of dark chocolate over it too echo the top which is the plain joconde.
Daring Bakers in a great web group, I have made things I haven't made before and things I have made and screwed up I have made successfully with the guidance of the wonderful members of this group