Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Topless Chocolate Macaroon Tart for Monthly Mingle

Past few weeks have been incredible here in Britain with longer bright and sunny days. It promises me more lazy days sunbathing in parks/beaches, quenching thirst by downing chilled beer and yes also enjoying the very best of summer fruits. Last week we had an amazing beach trip near Wales (finally I could get my super short shorts out and flaunt!).
I have gone for perfect summer "topless chocolate macaroon tart", daring and bearing it all; nothing covering its modesty. I am sending this chocolate macaroon tart to Jeanne of cooksister, who is hosting the "Topless Tarts" monthly mingle this month
I have made a simple chocolate tart shell using some plain flour & coconut flour (sent to me by healthy supplies) and made a macaroon filling with shredded coconut & fresh berries.
Chocolate Macaroon Tart
For the chocolate shell
100g plain flour
50g coconut flour
30g cocoa
120g cold butter, cubed
30g sugar
2 large yolks
Whizz the flour,sugar & cocoa along with butter in a processor untill it forms a rubble. Add the yolks and pulse until the dough comes together. Press into a ball, flatten & chill for 1 hour. Roll out the chilled dough between two cling sheets and line a round tart tin. Patch up with remaining dough if it tears while lining the form. Trim the sides. Pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180C. Line the tart case with parchment & cover with any dry beans or ceramic beans. Blind bake the tart for 15-20 minutes. Remove & let it cool a bit.
For the Macaroon filling (adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson)
140g unsweetened finely shredded coconut
70g natural cane sugar
4 large egg whites
100g fresh blackberries
100g fresh raspberries
1tsp cardamon powder
Blend the coconut,cardamom powder, sugar along with the whites in a bowl. Spread it evenly on the cooled tart shell. Dot the fresh berries all over and slightly push them into the macaroon batter. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden.

In other news: I am all set to travel to Weimar, Germany next month for the plate2page workshop. With the tickets booked, all I am left to do is some shopping and then hopefully some "light" packing. It will be very intensive 3 days with Writing, Styling & Photograpy sessions.

Before I sign off: I have to mention this incredible deli "BELLA-ITALIA" we had been to while we were at friends in Feltham road. Run by a very friendly Italian chap - Nick – a thoroughly genuine Italian – BELLA-ITALIA is probably the only place in the UK that sources and imports truffles and their wonderful by-products, direct from the Abruzzo region of Italy.
BELLA-ITALIA is also a genuine, traditional Italian delicatessen and coffee bar, which offers a wide range of delicious pastas, meats and cheeses. Their hams include San Daniele, Parma (of course) and Prosciutto Crudo. They also have Milano, Napoli, Mortadella and Ventricina salamis, while Parmiggiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, Dolcelatte, Pecorino and Provolone are among the many cheeses on display. They have a very tempting array of panini, focaccia and baguettes, biscuits, desserts, and superb coffee!
Every week, Nick makes fresh pastas and pasta sauces, so ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi are often on the menu. In the chiller cabinet, you’ll find fresh spiced sausages, homemade garlic butter and even luxurious truffle products from the Abruzzo region of central Italy (where Nick is from).
I got back with a big supply of Wafers alla nocciola Balocco, Bella Italia garlic spread, Gorgeous Pecorino, Nick's fresh pastas. My must go to shop for all my Italian grocery.  
For breakfast or lunch orders :TEL:01784 253 968
ADDRESS:123 Feltham Road Ashford Middlesex TW15 1AB

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate Excess Macarons for Mactweets #18

Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food (Michael Levine). I mean dark chocolate, in moderation, can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Research, still ongoing, has pointed out that chocolate in moderation can help prevent cancers and heart disease. I do sure need chocolate to keep me going on Mondays...I need them when I am unhappy/moody...I need them when I am happy...I crave them after a good meal...I need them on my face as a pack when my skin is unhappy...(I even had an emergency chocolate boyfriend replacement kit for a really long time!!!) Yes, Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don't need an appointment (Catherine Aitken). All you need is a good quality chocolate that just melts in your mouth...smooth... releasing some magic that instantly lifts you up. I just dont get it when people tell me they are not mad about chocolates...Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.(John Q. Tullius).How can someone just resist the smell of chocolate? Chocolate is my favourite cake/ice-cream flavour till date; after coffee of course!

My love affair with coffee started way before. My dad used to always buy a bar of "cadbury fruit & nut" the only chocolate I knew of and ate all my childhood. When I met "S", he used to always make me the most amazing hot chocolate for me (I should have know by then that this is the man I am going to marry...silly me!). He introduced me to what became my next favourite; Ferrero Rocher and then fell in love with Nutella. My tastes have changed quite a lot with time & travel and now all I prefer is dark chocolate...Lindt being my favourite at the moment. I still make steaming mugs of Hot Chocolate but with real dark chocolate and a splash of liquor in it...reminiscing our jolly days.
MacSweethearts Jamie & deeba have chosen CHOCOLAT as Aprils theme, asking us to create something sensational, surprising, unique, something beautiful, delectable, tantalizing, something worthy of a Mac Attack using chocolate. They challenged us to use chocolate in some form, some way, whether in the shells or the filling or even both, but blend it, mix it, shake it up with another flavor or two, a spice or a fruit, something sweet or spicy or tart, anything with an alcoholic kick, a novel ingredient which will add texture or flavor or color, something, anything which will accentuate, complement the chocolate flavor and make for one spectacular mac!

I made these Chocolate-Coffee Macaron shells topped with a sprinkle of raw cacao with a White Chocolate Centre & a crunchy Chocolate coated Coffee Bean centre....now that's why I call them Chocolate Excess Macarons. Somehow for me chocolate & coffee are a match made in heaven and I absolutely loved dark chocolate, coffee & white chocolate all together creating a flavour explosion in every bite.
At this point I have to tell you about HealthySupplies who sent the Raw Cocoa a few weeks back, that I have used in the macarons. They have a very good collection of harder-to-find ingredients like the freeze dried fruit powders I use in my macarons. I also love the gluten free stuff they sell like the coconut flour for instance. Do head over to their site and check out the products.
Chocolate Excess Macarons
For the macarons

75 g ground almond
75 g icing sugar
30 g egg whites
10g cocoa powder
4g ground coffee
75 g caster sugar
20 g water
30 g egg whites
raw cocoa nibs
100g melted white chocolate
50g chopped chocolate coated coffee beans
Pulse the almonds,cocoa, coffee powder and icing sugar in a processor until fine. Sieve twice. Mix one part of the egg whites to this. Meanwhile whisk whites till frothy. Bring the sugar and water to boil and let it reach 115-118 C in a candy thermometer. Add this to the whites and whisking all the while on high as you pour till it form glossy peaks. Mix a part of the whites to the almond mixture gently folding it. Mix in the remaining whites till you get a smooth mixture that forms ribbons when lifted. Do not over-mix as the mixture will turn liquidy and difficult to pipe. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe onto a baking sheet with silpat/ non-stick sheet. Sprinkle the raw cocoa nibs on top. Leave the macarons to form a skin for 30 minutes. When you touch them they should not stick to your hand at this point, if they do leave them for some more time. Preheat oven to 140C and bake the macarons for 12-15 min depending on size. They should come off the sheet once cooked. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Pipe desired filling and sandwich the macarons.
For the filling I used melted white chocolate and sprinkled some chopped chocolate coated coffee beans.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Domino’s New Reggae Reggae Pizza

As the weather warms up & we have such gorgeous sunny long days, one thing you love doing is entertain friends & family. Lazying around the back garden with friends & balancing bottles of beer & home-made/takeaway food in your hands (to avoid frequent trips inside the house) is a common sight. You can hear them yell schroooederrr! (after unintentionally spillingbeer or knocking of something) hear the continues giggles, the unlimited swears in every neighbours home. Sometimes it makes you feel why summer doesn't last forever!
This week we religiously gathered at a friends place on Thursday night (yes weekend started a wee bit early for us) for some food, beer & games. So we ended up ordering the new pre-launch veggie version called the Veggae Veggae pizza with Levi Root’s Reggae sauce. We ordered the pizza for a special price of just £9.99 through the Facebook page.
Made using Levi’s famous Reggae Reggae sauce, Domino’s new pizza creates a taste of the Caribbean with roast chicken, tomatoes, green peppers, pineapple and 100% mozzarella cheese. A vegetarian version of the pizza is available with sweetcorn and it can also be purchased as one of Domino’s oven-baked subs. 

The Reggae Reggae pizza can be ordered officially via 'pizza delivery expert’ from Monday 11th April at normal prices.

Verdict: The ordering bit was quite straight forward: Click on the facebook page, takes you to dominos site & order as usual. The pizzas arrived just as we started to feel hungry. So the timing was just about perfect...three cheers for the timing!! 
Ok lets take 'Me', 'S' & 'N': We were not really mad about the Reggae Reggae sauce as it made the pizza very sweet. I would have loved a sprinkle of chilli flakes or heat in some form as the pineapple makes the pizza even sweeter.
Next 'R' & 'A': Surprisingly they absolutely loved the pizza with the sweet Reggae Reggae sauce and packed the leftovers for next day's lunch.
Will we order the Reggae Reggae pizza again? Yes, will definitely try it with maybe some jalapeño or chilli.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

5 Minute Bread? Is it possible...A Review

Five Minute Bread..is that even possible…I mean I have a solid bread baking experience and have slaved for hours in the kitchen covering myself & the Kitchen counter in layers of flour, sticky hands (= unanswered door/phones) and much more. I have waited looking at the dough for hours to make sure its rising and have had to make space in my tiny kitchen for a draught-free area to let the dough rise happily. I have sat in front of the oven seeing my creation bake and have jumped/screamed in joy when I hear that tapping noise.
So when the publishers sent me this "Five Minute Bread"(The discovery that revolutionises home baking) by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois…I was more than excited to try their No Knead, No Bread Machine approach. “The steps from traditional Baking that We Omitted” page is a must read as they surprise you by saying, that you don’t need to make fresh dough every day to have fresh bread, you don’t need to proof your yeast, and you don’t have to knead your dough. The fortuitous discovery of pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture dough in the fridge made sense to me. I will admit though that I kneaded the dough a bit for the Spinach & Feta Bread and didnt bother refrigerating it as I wanted to bake it straight away. But even when I didn’t knead or proof & refrigerated the Brioche (
I did my version with saffron & Indian Spice mix for a kick) dough for 24 hrs, the resulting bread was very satisfying. I do now agree that high-moisture stored dough cant over rise…I stored the brioche dough in a measuring bowl and could see how it rose in the fridge. 
For novice bread makers the "Ingredients" chapter explains the kind of flour & yeast to use, "Equipment list" & “Tips and Techniques” explain the moisture content and how to modify doughs, are precious. "The troubleshooting" chapter is a must for anyone as it tackles issues associated with under-baking/ over-baking loaves, giving you helpful tips to improve your baking. In general, the chapters in the book include:
The Secret
How to Make Bread in Five Minutes
Tips and Techniques
The Master Recipe
Peasant Loaves
Flatbreads and Pizzas
Enriched Breads and Pastries
Some colour bread photos to show the end results would have been an added advantage for beginners, although I like the free-hand drawings throughout the book. I absolutely loved the inclusion of many “accompaniment” recipes, such as the chilled morrocan-style gazpacho to go with ksara (morrocon anise & barley flatbread) or the Bread Puddings made with stale breads or the Fattoush the Lebanese salad made with Pita. Beginner or Pro in bread making, Five Minute Bread is definitely a great addition to any library. I adore “Spinach Feta Bread” which is staple bread I make with soups & loved the buttery Brioche (biting into one as I type). I have bookmarked the "Italian Semolina Bread", "Panettone", "Lavash" & "Ciabatta" to try soon.
Who knew one could make artisan bread in 5 minutes? This book is a must have for those who despise home-made loaves & buy them from supermarkets as making them seems over daunting.
Jeff Hertzberg has been a physician, university professor, information technology consultant & ardent amateur baker. He developed a love of great bread while growing up in New York City.
Zoë Francois is a pastry chef and baker trained at the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to teaching baking and pastry and consulting to restaurants, Zoe creates desserts and custom wedding cakes.
Five Minute Bread is published by Ebury Press, priced at ₤14.99 hardback.
Spinach Feta Bread
Ingredients (I halved the original recipe)
60g spinach (lightly steamed, boiled or sautéed), chopped
375ml lukewarm water
10g yeast
1tsp salt
20g feta
10g sugar
450g plain flour+extra for dusting
Polenta for dusting
  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Squeeze the cooked spinach through a strainer to get rid of excess liquid. Mix the yeast, salt, spinach, cheese and sugar with the water in a 5-litre bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 3.5 litre capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty mixer (with dough hook). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
  2. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
  3. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days.
  4. On baking day: Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
  5. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 230°C, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty boiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.
  6. Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross or criss cross pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before eating.
  7. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
  8. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
Indian Spice mix-Saffron Brioche
Ingredients (I halved the original recipe)
175 ml lukewarm water
11/2 tsp yeast
1tsp salt
4 eggs
4 tbsp honey
175g butter
500g flour+extra for dusting
few strands of saffron
1tsp my indian spice mix (cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper)
1. Mix the yeast, salt, saffron, spice mix, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl.
2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled, don't try to work with it before chilling.
3. Cover (not airtight)
4. Refrigerate in a lidded (not air tight) container (or in the same bowl, covered with plastic wrap) and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days freeze the dough in one pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then allow the usual rest and rise time
5. Defrost the dough overnight in the fridge if frozen. On baking day grease 9 x 4 x 3 inch nonstick loafpan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and and cut off a 1 pound piece (grapefruit size) (Again, I find it easier to dust hands and work surface so you don’t overflour leftover dough). Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.
6. Elongate into an oval shape and place in the prepared pan. Allow to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes
7. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
8. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust with egg wash.
9. Place the bread near the center of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a medium golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, brioche will not form a hard crackling crust.
10. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
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