Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nearly didn't make them, glad I did

So this week's #ShortandTweet challenge focussed on meringues and I claim to not like meringues so this challenge nearly didn't happen.

On Sauturday morning I was checking back through the challenge options and grumpily announced to my husband 'it's meringues' expecting him to look bored, but a hopeful smile ran across his face and after checking he had actually heard what I had said I realised he would quite like some meringues, thank you. So meringue prejuduces aside I went into the kitchen.

Well, they were very easy and very delicious, delicate crisp outer shell and soft mallowy centre, what more can I say.

No piping, no overnight low ovens, just whisk, fold, dollop and bake. Another trouble free winner from Dan Leppard's very impressive book Short and Sweet.

There was also an option to make the easy lemon curd with the egg yolks you would have left from the meringues but I wanted to avoid the buttery richness of lemon curd so I made a citrus sabayon sauce instead. I had a nice batch of blood oranges in the house and orange liqueur a plenty from Christmas so with these beauties and the 3 egg yolks a sauce was quickly made. We had this in the evening as a sort of sundae with the meringues and some fresh fruit, delicious.

I have had a low fat and citrus theme to the week as we needed a birthday treat for a colleague who has to keep their fat intake very low so the answer to that was a pair of fruit salads and some apricot and ginger bisocotti.

The first fruit salad was segmented oranges and  mango in a star anise syrup and the other dried apricots in a cinnamon syrup. The biscotti recipe was from the epicurious web site and the only fat it contains is from the egg yolk so really quite low. I hate it when recipes are referred to as fat free or perhaps more commonly sugar free when what they really mean is no added butter, oil, sugar ingredients etc. It is just misleading to call a recipe sugar free if it is full of dried fruit for example. The recipe for the biscotti   is in american measurements so you will need cups or a conversion chart. I upped the amount of candied ginger as I am a ginger fan. The dough was pretty sticky to handle when trying to shape the log for baking but after that it was no trouble at all.

Here is the baked log being cut into diagonal slices before the second bake. You need to slice when the dough is still warm but not straight from the oven. I also find a serrated knife better than a standard chefs knife to get a clean cut.

The slices are baked for a further ten minues on each side and then cooled.

I could not resist dipping some of them in dark chocolate but they really don't need it, I just cannot help myself.

The final citrus treat of the week was to make marmelade, a small batch of traditional seville orange marmelade and an even smaller batch of bergamot marmalade. A good bergamot is pretty hard to find but my source for the last two years has been the Natoora online shop they sell a really wide range of excellent products so I have a bit of a splurge when it is bergamot season.

Here are the bergamot fruits :

And here is the marmelade:

I kept back some of the bergamot pips/seeds and popped them in compost this morning so who nows in ten years or so I may be harvesting my own fruits.

Hope you have all had a great weekend too!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Drop Everything the Drop Scones are Ready

Well I have always called them drop scones even when the recipe refers to them as Scotch Pancakes or more particularly Betsy's Scotch Pancakes which is how they are titled in Dan Lepard's book Short and Sweet. This was the recipe I chose to attempt from the 3 that were targeted for this week's #ShortandTweet challenge.

They did not go entirely smoothly but here is my plate of fresh off the griddle, ready for the butter pancakes.

My first hurdle was a batter that was too thick, even after adding the full amount of milk, and then I could not get the temperature of the griddle right, way too hot to start with and you can see a rather singed offering peeking out from under some more tender morsels in the picture above.

Getting the heat right so they cook quickly enough but did not burn was not easy and judging when to turn was also a bit tricky to start with but here I have tried to show that you will see bubbles forming, and once they are showing across the whole pancake that seemed the best point to flip them over.

 I was going to eat these for Sunday brunch with a mixture of savoury and sweet toppings so I cut back the sugar from 75g to 50g and am glad I did.

So here is my sample of plated pancakes. The top has blue cheese and a drizzle of forest honey, to the left smoked salmon and ricotta and to the right quince & cider jelly and ricotta.

The blue cheese, Borough Blue, was bought yesterday at Halwill Community Market from the lovely Shebbear Cheese  stall and very good it is too. I cannot remember where I read the suggestion to drizzle honey on blue cheese but it worked really well and I chose a forest honey rather than a floral one to play safe. The quince and cider jelly was a gift from a work colleague and was made by her mother who lives in Germany. It was so much better than the basic quince jelly I had tried to make myself so I will definitley be trying the addition of some good local cider in my next batch.

Yesterday was a bit of a local foodie foray as we started out by driving to Black Torrington to make our first visit to the Reddog Bakery there. The bakery are running some bread making courses this year and as I had signed up for one it seemed a good idea to make sure I knew how to get there. Sat Nav in rural Devon can be a little perplexing when you find a whole village has the same post code, as does my own North Devon hamlet. Well we came away with a wonderful selection of bread, pasties, pain raisin and a superb slab of moist and beautifully spiced carrot cake.

After a stop off at the Halwill market for the cheese and some devon red beef we drove on to Okehampton to visit the new cafe/cookshop called eat toast. I was delighted to find the place buzzing with customers and they served us some really good coffee. I would have sampled the cakes too if we had not already snaffled a pain raisin each from our earlier bakery shop.

A quick flash back to last weeks challenge when I did make the wraps but got them so wrong it did not seem worth a post. I managed to produce something more akin to scandinavian cripsbread than a wrap so I ate one with some chopped beetroot, feta and a sprinking of za'atar but the rest were donated to the chickens' treat bucket. Again I think my downfall was too hot or certainly too long cooking, supple they certainly were not.

Here is a glimpse.