Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Random Recipes #29 - Healthy & Happy

For this month's Random Recipe Challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen has us focussed on summer dishes that make you feel healthy and happy. Dom's own random contribution was a prune and almond brownie and as I am a big fan of prunes, almonds and chocolate I know that is one dish that would make me very happy.

To make the random selection I chose 4 books from my collection that I knew either had sections that met the criteria or were all very much feel good summer type recipes. The books I chose were: Sally Clarke's Book, A Mediterranean Harvest by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen, The Cook and the Gardener by Amanda Hesser and For the Love of Food, Vegetarian Recipes from the Heart by Dennis Cotter. From these four the Dennis Cotter was randomly selected by my other half and then excel kindly whirled out a page number for me within the 'Salads' section and the recipe was 'Minted Bean Salad with cumin crispbread'

I have never been to Ireland but if I did the cafeparadiso restaurant Dennis Cotter runs in Cork would be high up my list of places to eat at. I am not a vegetarian but his recipies are quite inspirational. They often require quite a few ingredients and may well need a bit of planning ahead but I have never been disappointed with anything I have made from his books.

This recipe was quite a simple one. I made a couple of substitutions by swapping chick peas for the dried haricot beans and using lebanese flat breads instead of european bread for the cumin crispbreads.

The lightly cooked green beans are mixed with the cooked dried beans and a dressing is made by lightly cooking a couple of chopped shallots and garlic cloves in a little olive oil. After a couple of minutes of cooking the mint (a handful or however much you like) and a splash of vinegar are added and the dressing is cooked for a few seconds more.

Then add the two sorts of beans to the pan and stir around briefly to warm through. It was a cold and blustery June evening so warm salads were more appealing than fridge cold ones.

The cumin crispbread was made by sprinkling olive oil and cumin seeds onto the flatbreads before baking briefly in a moderate oven until crisp.  They tasted pretty good but all the cumin seeds dropped off as soon as I tried to snap them into pieces!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We Should Cocoa Challenge: Mint

A 'skinny' truffle for June's We Should Cocoa Challenge

Garden Mint Truffle
From 'Adventures with Chocolate', Paul A Young
If you who have been around reading my chocolate posts before you will have noticed I am rather fond of the recipes from Paul A Young's book 'Adventures with Chocolate', so no surprise that I turned to it again for the 'mint' challenge. This month's challenge host is 'a kick at the pantry door',
 I was in two minds about this challenge as I am really not very fond of mint and chocolate together and I am sad to say it is still in my 'not bothered' list but this is none the less a simple and clean tasting truffle recipe.
I have referred it as a skinny truffle as there is no cream or additional fat added, just a mint infused syrup that is poured whilst hot onto the chopped chocolate and then whisked to a truffle texture.
I halved the recipe as I was very unsure of liking it and that was a good move.
  • Make a syrup from 50g of sugar and 150ml of water, boiling the sugar to fully dissolve, then add 18g fresh mint leaves to the syrup and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Leave the syrup to cool and further infuse with the mint.
  • Chop 175g of a 64% plain chocolate.
  • Strain the mint leaves out of the syrup and bring the syrup back to a simmer.
  • Pour the hot syrup over the chopped chocolate and stir/whisk well to create the smooth truffle texture.
  • Allow to cool/set and then scoop into small truffle balls with something like a melon baller or suitable teaspoon.
  • Roll the balls in your hands to get a smooth surface and chill a little to firm up.
  • Melt some more dark chocolate in a shallow bowl and place cocoa powder in another shallow bowl. Temper the chocolate if you wish but the cocoa dusting will hide any whitish cocoa butter imperfections.
  • Quickly drop each ball into the melted chocolate and then into the cocoa powder. This bit is messy and I would say use whatever tools you like to move the balls into and out of each bowl. Fingers work but only use one hand in the melted chocolate or you will get completed glued up yourself. Roll each ball around gently to cover with the chocolate and then the cocoa powder and then leave a moment or two to set before attempting to lift the ball out of the cocoa and onto a tray.
Water based ganache truffles are best eaten very fresh as the flavours seem to dull far more rapidly than with a cream or butter ganache.
The 'We Should Cocoa' challenges are hosted by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog, and Chele over at Chocolate Teapot. You will find a list of the previous challenges on Choclette's blog.