Pipis harvesting

Where we live this is the end of the school holidays.  Last week, we went for  few days to the Great Lakes area in NSW. If you that does not ring a bell, think Seals Rock-Blueys Beach-Boomerang Beach-Forster area. That area has long white sand beaches with barely anyone on them.  We went  pipis hunting, or rather pipis harvesting.

What are pipis?

Pipis are clams, in other words, a small edible bivalve species fund in Australia between the QLD/NSW border all the way to South Australia.

pipi clam
A pipi on the sand exposed by a strong wave, quick pick it up!

Pipis are also known as also known as Coorong cockle, eugarie, Goolwa cockle and ugari (Ref – Sydney Fish Market).  Pipis live ten to twenty centimeter deep in the sand in the intertidal zone of the surf.  You will often see pipis shells along the foreshore in areas where these clams are present.

If not harvesting them, you can find pipis at fish mongers, especially in ares with asian communities.

Pipis harvesting

Rule of thumb as for any foraging: only take what you need, no more.

The second consideration is the location of the area. Check, there may be restrictions.

pipi clam
An average size pipi

Last consideration is the size.  Where we go, when pipis in an area are all below 2 cm large, this is probably because they are either over-harvested or not so happy there, I don’t take them then, as normally they would be around 5 cm large.

Be ready to get wet! One way to go about it is to do the “pipi danse”. That method is very popular with children, more fun! It consists of swinging your legs when the wave come up so your feet “dig” into the sand, this will expose pipis or you will feel them with your feet.   The other way is to dig with your hands here and then, this method is generally quicker. Watch out for those bigger waves!

Pipis are really quick at burrowing in the sand, so when some get exposed you will need to be quick and pick it up.

pipi dance
The pipi danse
pipi clam
Keeping an eye out for those pipis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to cook pipis?

 

Pipis live in the sand and open slightly to filter water and feed themselves.  As a result, pipis shells may contain a fair bit of sand.  You will need to desand them by placing them overnight in a large bowl with cool water and salt (30 g / L of water).  If you place them in the fridge, they will not open up and release the sand.

Pipis cook quickly and require heat.  The most simple way is with salted butter and crashed garlic.  Place the butter and garlic in a saucepan or tall edge frypan and once the butter is melted throw in the pipis. Cover with a lid. You will see and hear all the pipis open up. Once they are all open, remove from the heat and serve straight away with a large salad.

You could very well add some fresh chilli during the cooking, or 1/2 glass of dry white wine. You can also used a tomato base to cook them in.

pipi clam

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Trialing homemade toasted muesli

There is such a large variation of breakfasts available, especially in Australia where the options between savoury and sweet breakfasts are many. Oats were not (and still are not) a popular choice of breakfast in France. Here is how I ended up recently trialing homemade toasted muesli.

A few years ago, I would not have considered a savoury breakfast before the clock showed at least 10 am. Now, I don’t mind a fresh piece of bread with avocado and ham early in the morning, yum!

I grew up on bread and butter, or rather bread and jam or bread and honey, as I was not a big fan of butter when growing up. Forget Nutella. Nutella didn’t make its way into my mother’s kitchen until many years later. We used to make a chocolate spreadable out of a can of condensed milk and a tablet of chocolate. If you ask me now, I would not put that recipe on this blog.  Back to now, most mornings I leave the house quite early – to avoid some traffic knots – and have breakfast a bit later.  I have been trying out a few brands of muesli and toasted muesli.  Of course, curiosity obliging, I gave a try doing toasted muesli.

muesli homemade

How to make your own toasted muesli?

The key is to define upfront the flavour(s) you want as dominant and the “medium” you are after.

Flavours:

Do you want nuts as the dominant flavour? Or is it dry fruits? Is it berries? Keep one dominant flavour and then build round it.

Each main flavour will dictate the rest of the ingredients.  For example, if you want dry fruits such as cranberries and apricots, you would not add more than two types of nuts as it will become a very “busy” muesli and will lack the simplicity of good simple things. With cranberries and apricots, you may consider adding shredded coconuts, maybe some almonds and possibly some chia seeds.

Medium:

Typically muesli uses rolled oats. Commercial mueslis are composed of between 60% (for the gluten free ones) to 80% (more often) of rolled oats and other cereals flours (by weight).  If you are gluten intolerant, you could choose to use buckwheat based cereals or a mix of corn flakes or puffed rice.

My first toasted muesli mix were quite heavy on nuts and seeds.  I would now aim at 60% oats.

Other ingredients:

Some recipes do not add anything else than the medium, nuts, seeds, fruits. I like to add a little oil and honey (not much) and a pinch of salt. It adds a lot to the flavour and to the colour!

So, how to go about it?

Well, this is pretty simple, get a big baking tray out.  Cut large nuts (almond, hazelnuts and up size-wise) to smaller chunks. Cut dry fruits similarly. Place all dry ingredients in the tray.  Warm up a little the honey and oil, pour over and with your hands “massage” it through. Then, all you have left to do is bake the muesli in the oven while keeping an eye on it and mixing from time to time.

The recipe? Check HERE.

Note: you can add the dry fruits after the baking if you don’t like them too hard.

A few  ideas of combinations

Combinations for toasted muesli are endless. Here are a few I tried or some which jump to my mind.

Go nuts muesli!   Oats (50%), hazelnuts, walnuts, chia seeds, coconut, macadamia nuts.  You can use almond there too, almonds and I don’t agree well, so I would only put very little or avoid them. That muesli was quite nutritious.

Fig and apricot muesli: oats (60%), hazelnuts, macadamia, dry apricots, dry figs, pepitas.

muesli homemade

Northern america muesli: oats (60%), dry cranberries, dry apricots, coconut, chia seeds, almonds.

Chocoholic muesli: oats (70%), hazelnuts, almond or walnut, cocoa powder, chopped dark chocolate (to add at the end).

 And the price bit?

On my last muesli, I calculated that to come to the same price as a box at the supermarket, I would need to have 40% oats and plenty nuts (hazelnuts and macadamia are quite expensive). And that was using supermarket based ingredients i.e. no bulk price considerations!

I also calculated that is you use 60%, your cost become half of the commercial cost. So definitely worth it!

muesli homemade
Five minutes peace !
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Managing your choux pastry

Managing your choux pastry can be easy for some, disheartening for others. Well, good news, I struggled with it this week and because it was not the first time, I decided to write about it and share my choux pastry secrets.

Why choux pastry this week?

This weekend was Father’s day for us in Australia. My older daughter (8 y.o.) wanted to bake a treat for her father.  To get a change from chocolate cakes (please! – I never though I would say that), I made a few suggestions and she decided to go for eclairs.  Yes, of course she knows what they are! I have gourmet kids!

nd by the way, if you are going to make the choux pastry with your kids, it is a great opportunity to teach them and get them to practice the piping technique since it does not drip all over!

A small note: if you have access to a thermomix, save all the hard work and use it. I have had the opportunity to use one for a month last year and I must say that choux pastry is one thing I would praise it for (although not buy one just for that!).

Things don’t always go to plan

Because when you cook a dessert, prepare bread on the side, manage the younger child on Reading Eggs (an interactive program for early readers) and I can’t remember what else, you tend to be a little distracted.  In the end, round one of eclairs ended up flat, very flat. Check for yourself!  So, not willing to disappoint my daughter I expedited a second round of pastry (it takes 10 minutes really), this time with my full attention.  To be honest, I knew it was not going to work before baking round 1 when I realised the dough was more than coherent and flexible, getting towards Nutella consistency.

example of missed flat choux
Missed flat choux. The dough was too wet , we also placed a double line of dough for each eclair, a bad idea.

How choux pastry works?

Choux pastry is only made of flour, butter and water really (and eggs, sure).  Well, there is no rising agent or yeast.  But there is a fair bit of elbow oil, you would remember that if you have had a go to the recipe! To make the dough rise, there is only one way: trapping the steam made by the water and butter during baking with the gluten matrix of the flour.

Here you need to think more bread making that cake making.  The flour contains gluten.  When you work the dough, we speak of gluten development and this means the development of the structure of the gluten through alignment of the strands.  Professionals speak of short mix, improved mix and intensive mix to define how much structure development is required. It is worth noting that gluten can be overdeveloped and then can lose  its structural properties, but rest assure that cannot happen with manual handling.

In brief, the steam released during baking is trapped inside the choux structure and rises the choux or eclair.  It makes the “skeleton” of the choux.  The next stage is to get it to dry so the structure can hold its own weight.

Critical steps and tips

There are a few factors that make this pastry hard to master but not impossible.  For reference, the recipe can be found on its own page HERE.

Here are the tips for you to consider before starting:

The temperature of your saucepan

Early in the recipe, you will be asked to add the flour suddenly to the water.  Then you have to “dry” the dough over low heat until the dough detaches from the saucepan.  Here the amount of water lost during this stage will strongly depend on the type and temperature of your saucepan.  Keep that in mind, but do remove the saucepan from the heat when the dough detaches well from the sides of the saucepan.

The size of the eggs

The next point of attention is the size of your eggs. The recipe calls for four eggs.  If you use 60 g eggs (700 g box of 12), you will likely need three to three and a half.  If you use small eggs, this is the other way around, you may need an extra half to one egg.

To add half an egg at the time, beat the egg slightly in a small bowl and pour half of it.   What difference does it make? The dough will not be firm enough if you put too much egg.  It will not be liquid either but will not be firm enough to retain its shape and the shape will collapse in the oven.

Mixing hard to develop the gluten structure

The gluten development happens when you energetically mix the egg into the dough.    So make sure you mix heartily, no shortcut here!    When will you know the dough is ready? This is the multi million dollar question! The dough must be firm yet flexible:

  • So the “strands” must not break when you mix it.
  • the “shapes” made by the dough when mixing must remain 3D and not collapse to 2D.
  • expect gaps between sections of your dough as the ball of dough is moved one way and another by your wooden spoon.
  • If you know what the surface tension  of a fluid is, great! Imagine it here, there need plenty to keep the shape.

 

Doing the right thing during baking

Finally the baking.  All recipes will tell you to use a very hot oven for the first 10 minutes.  Some recipes will then ask to reduce the heat while leaving the door of the oven slightly open with a wooden spoon, others will only ask to reduce the heat.  The process during that stage is the drying of the skeleton of the choux (this is assuming the choux have reached their full size which often takes more than 10 minutes I find).  What happens if you do not dry your choux sufficiently? Well, the choux will look great for 2 minutes when pulled out of the oven and will then collapse. What a pity!

choux pastry
Flat choux (missed pate a choux) on the left, successful choux on the right

Father’s day eclairs

Curious to what the colours of our artisan eclairs hide?  You would have guessed the dark ones are chocolate eclairs.  The pink one is inside a vanilla, nutmeg and grilled pistachio custard.  The icing is a raspberry (using the juice of 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries) icing: raspberry juice, hot water, drops of lemon juice and icing sugar.

choux pastry

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Yes for apples, only a little differently

Definitely yes for apples….

I probably buy two big bags of apples each week at this season.  Where do they go? Lunchboxes, snack and occasionally dessert.  Last week, I wanted to do an apple based dessert but I did not feel like any apple tart or any traditional recipe.  Taste wise I wanted something different. Yes for apple, only a little differently!

…Only a little differently

I am about to share two recipes with you. One savoury, a piece of pork cooked on a bed of apples and in cider; and one sweet one, a red pepper apple and  strawberry crumble. I strongly recommend the two of them!

Pork belly roast on an apple bed and in apple cider

This is a different way to roast pork.  It is really tasty. I have adding chesnuts around as well in subsequent versions.  The recipe is HERE.  Like for any pork roast, this recipe requires a fair amount of cooking time.

Roti de porc aux pommes

Note:  the chesnuts would need to be peeled beforehand. Make a small cut in the skin.  Place them in boiling water for one minute and peel the skin.

Red pepper apple and strawberry crumble

This is what I ended up cooking last week. Three month ago, I stayed at some friend one night and was offered a beautiful dinner.  The dessert followed a recipe of baked apple by Yotam Ottolenghi.  In this recipe Yotam Ottolenghi used pepper cracked over baked apple to subtlety change the flavours and bring up different aromas. It was delicious!

This crumble recipe is inspired from that dish. Here, I used black pepper and mostly pink peppercorns.  You will find pink peppercorns in deli stores, at Paddy’s market (Sydney Haymarket) and online spice shops such as Herbies.   The rest is pretty much like a normal crumble. Recipe HERE.

crumble pomme poivre

 

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Sunday night diner

Sunday night diner is the wrap up of the weekend and the last step before the start of the new week. It has this homy comfortable feeling. Yes, but…

We, or rather my daughters started a silk rope class on Sunday afternoon.  They love it! I find it great too. By the time we come home it is often after 6 pm , sometimes after 7 pm. So, not willing to cook much at this stage of the day, I devise a quick meal.  One that came back a few times recently is a bean and sausages bake.  Dessert tonight – yes, there is always dessert – was a flan patissier.

The bean and sausage bake

You can rarely do easier and it require strictly no cooking skills.  All you need are cans of beans, tomato sauce and sausages! Pretty simple! Still need the recipe? Click HERE.

sunday evening bake

A flan patissier for dessert

Flans patissiers need to be made in advance preferably as they taste better warm or cold.  I made mine this morning before heading across Scotland Island through bushland on gorgeous little tracks.  Flan patissier are a typical French dessert, it is like a (homemade) baked custard.  Quite nice.

The recipe is HERE.

flan

 

 

 

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Seeking the right crumpet recipe

For the last two weeks we have been trialing crumpets recipes.  Why now? First because this has always been on my mind, but never a top priority.  At the moment, we are hosting my French niece. She has discovered crumpets with friends of ours while staying with them for a few weeks (I sent her there in June to ensure a full English immersion).  Stating the obvious, crumpets are an english breakfast item.  No chance to find them in France in supermarkets! We decided she may as well go home with a recipe that works well. So we have been actively seeking the right recipe!

crumpet

The first go at crumpets was with a recipe out of an internet search, far from being a success.  The next go was using a recipe from my yellow cooking notebook.  I do not recall where that recipe came from, I had scribbled it on a piece of paper a couple of years ago, inserted it in one of the plastic sleeves, and it was there waiting for the right day!  The “yellow notebook” is the second one of the type, there is also a red one, now full.

After that, I did another internet search and decided to put to the test three recipes simultaneously:

The comparative test

First I brought back all recipes to 200 mL of milk.  This is expected to produce 6 crumpets of 10 cm diameter. Plenty to trial with and judge!

As indicated below, the main difference is in the amount of yeast and the use of butter or not.  The Jamie Oliver’s recipe has slightly more flour. As a result that dough is a little tighter.

 Yellow book recipeJamie Oliver recipeGourmet Travellers recipe
Milk200 mL200 mL200 mL
Plain flour125 g150 g125 g
Butter 1 tbsp (10 g)None10 g
dry yeast7 g4 g2 g
bicarbonate soda1/2 tsp1/4 tsp1/4 tsp
salt1/2 tspNoneNone
white sugar1 tsp1/2 tsp1/2 tsp
oil/butter for cookingoiloilbutter

The verdict:

crumpet

As represented in the above photo from left to right.

Yellow book recipe: Very good, very tasty, more complex flavour (due to the butter and the strong flavour brought by the fresh yeast

Jamie Oliver’s crumpets: Very good. closer in taste to commercial crumpets (the dough is a bit heavy)

Gourmet Travellers’ recipe: surprisingly chewy, not my favourite, but the dough is a pleasure to work with (perfect consistency)

The cooking:

I used my crepe pans, perfect for that. I had some non-stick crumpet rings.

We wanted to try the with and without flipping the crumpet methods. The benefit of not flipping it is to keep the bubbles open at the top so when you place butter, honey, jam or maple syrup over the crumpet, it all falls into the holes. Double yummy!

I found that flipping the crumpets ensures that they are cooked on both sides, it is a nice finish look also.  When we did not cook them on the other side, we have had some dryer results and a few burnt bottom ones.  It may be worth looking into using a lid so the steam can be cooking the top part of the crumpet.

crumpet
The second crumpet from the left was left cooking slowly without turning it over.

The winning recipe:

Personally, I am quite happy with the recipe that was in my yellow book.  I however find the ratio of yeast to flour a bit high and may reduce it in the future. For indication 7 g would be used with 250 g of flour.

The full method is HERE.

crumpet

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Fish of the week: Barramundi

Fish of the week: barramundi!

We have been getting these beautiful barramundi fillets from the Sydney fish market.  They are really big and one is enough for a family of up to six people. When  I go to the fish market, I bring a big esky bag and choose fish to freeze and stock for a month.  The choice is not completely out of random but neither is it a planned thing.  It is the second time that I buy those large barramundi fillets, they are a treat really, but what a nice one!

Today, I am sharing a dinner menu and fish recipe from the last couple days.

The Menu (dinner)

Entree – Soft goat cheese and grana padano souffle

Main – Barramundi fillets on a bed of soft onions and brussels sprouts, served with green asparagus and hollandaise sauce and side salad

Dessert – Fruit (mandarin)

The souffles were beautiful, they rose so high! And of course collapsed afterwards!  The barramundi was delicious and with the Brussel sprouts and other greens a great combination.

Cooking  the barramundi

Did I have a recipe? No.  I don’t for those types of last minute dinner challenge.  This time I somehow managed to get a semi-passable photo of the dish before my plate become cold and the dish got eaten, so finally a recipe of a savoury dish!

barramundi fish fillet

Barramundi marries very well with lemon flavours and either on of the following: four spices, coriander ground, nutmeg.

Underneath the fish, I placed seven brussels sprouts cut very thinly, half of an onion cut very thinly, 2 garlic cloves cut thinly, 15 g of butter and a cup of water.  I salted the fish on both sides and when the butter was melted, placed the fish on top, added the juice of one lemon, a few small heads of parsley, a dusting of all spices mix and reduced the heat and covered to let cook slowly.

It took about 20 minutes to cook. In the meanwhile, I was frantically getting the asparagus steamed and the hollandaise sauce (also quite lemony) prepared.

For the full recipe, click HERE.

Grilled Barramundi fillets

A good fish is very good with minimum dressing.  barramundiA previous time, I simply seasoned it with salt, a dash of olive oil and coriander grounds on top and placed it under the grill.

Next time I will use something else than baking paper as a support…regardless it was also delicious.

Enjoy Barramundi!

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No more porridge wastes!

This is it, no more porridge wastes! What do you do with left over porridge? Generally there aren’t any left over when there is porridge.  However, I must say,  quite recently my daughters have doubled up on breakfast requirements and I came home twice last week with a saucepan and left over porridge in it.  There is no such thing as serving porridge twice, eurrhh.

So, last night , while some left overs were heating up, I scooped the porridge, added a little this and a little that and Voila!

Moist (almost) gluten free porridge Cookies

No need to waste your leftover porridge, make these (almost) gluten-free cookies with your leftover porridge!

If you are wondering, which cereal I used, the recipe uses rice flour.

Recipe HERE.

GF porridge cookies GF porridge cookies GF porridge cookies

 

Note for GF people: Are oats gluten free?

It is a little complicated here. Oats are a different cereal to wheat. Oats do not contain any gluten.  They do contain, however a protein called avenin which can induce an immune reaction in one out of five coeliac persons.

Added to that is the fact that oats can be “contaminated” at the farm by equipment also processing (harvesting, storing or transporting) wheat.

As a result in Australia, oat products cannot be called gluten-free.

If you want more info, you may want to read Coeliac Australia ‘s position statement.

And look what just came out of the oven! I can still hear the crust cracking!

I don’t mean to be out of consideration to people who are unfortunately affected by coeliac conditions.  For those who read my blog for the first time, I am not coeliac and I have been making our bread for 2 1/2 years.  Today I increased the water ratio in the sourdough recipe, let it rise in the fridge when wandering around with the children all day and shaped and bakes these baguettes tonight.  I am very happy with the result!

high water content sourdough

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A comforting dessert: the chocolate souffle!

A comforting dessert: the chocolate souffle

Souffles always have that waho factors, don’t they? Do you know what? They are not that hard to make! Even with a poor oven.  Trust me, mine is pretty average, slow and inconsistent if you want to know.  The one in our Balmain home was so much better! To be successful in souffles there are a few rules to follow.

With the current coldish short winter days in Sydney, the “healthy diet” needs a break for a bit of comfort.   With guests staying overnight at the end of this week, after a day at work, there was no plans for desserts in execution.  As it happens, Ben took charge of the main and prepared a great roast chicken! As dinner did not feel complete at the end of the week without dessert, once the dishes were done and the children almost in bed, I made a dessert and opted for a chocolate souffle.

It had been a while I had not made a chocolate souffle.  I had not been too happy about the previous results and went back to scan a few french recipes. Once you know the recipe is sound, there shouldn’t be many reason to not succeed on your souffle!

Tips to demystify the making of the souffle!

  • Do NOT open the oven door while the souffle is cooking.  The sudden drop of temperature is very likely to make your souffle collapse and it will not rise again.  If you really have to towards the ned to check the cooking, do it quick and DO NOT remove the dish from the oven!
  • Serve you souffle as soon as possible once out of the oven because it always deflates a little and seeing the souffle change shape is fun too!
  • The souffle needs either to be baked in ramequins or in a round dish with tall vertical sides.  What is important is that the width is about 1.5 size the height of the sides, not much more, and the sides must be vertical.
  • The sides of the souffle dish need to be buttered and coated with either flour, caster sugar of cocoa to prevent the souffle to attach to the sides when rising.
  • If times allow, you can prepare the souffle mix a little in advance, let it rest in the fridge. Before it goes in the oven, make sure you use the point of a knife to go between the dish and the first centimeter or two of the souffle mix.
  • Make sure your egg whites are well beaten and inserted without breaking them i.e. they need to be folded in, not mixed in!

The sharing version or individual version

I prefer the souffle family version or sharing version, when it is served in a large tall round dish.  This is a personal taste, some may prefer the individual ramequins.

souffle au chocolat
Chocolate souffle and cake – here the souffle has already deflated.

 

tea and treat

And, would you like the recipe with this chocolate soufle?

Sure, here you go…CLICK HERE.

goozy inside
This souffle is just cooked to make it very oozy

 

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It is all about pears

At the moment it is all about pears. Did you notice? They have arrived in many kind and are just beautiful.  My favourite to eat is the Pear Williams, when they are just ripe and full of juice. For some reasons, many Australians like their pears stone hard. I just don’t get it – apart for having a less messy fruit – because a hard pear has so little flavour compared to a ripe pear!

When it comes to dessert, pears can be used a number of way.  My latest addition to the blog is the “Poire Belle Hélène”, the hero dish of the week. There are plenty more family desserts with pears either comforting or elegant, all delicious! Here you go:

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The Poire Belle Hélène (Pear Belle Helene)

A French classic, elegant, light and always impressive.  The pears are poached in a syrup often composed of white wine, spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and served with a hot chocolate sauce.

For my recipe, click HERE.

poached pear

A family Pear and Almond Tart

tarte poire et amande This is a very easy tart. A recipe from Donna Hay.  The beauty is that you do not need to worry about a pastry, there is none.

A number of pears variety work for this tart: Corella, Williams, Packam.

The recipe is HERE.

 

 

 

 

The mid-week pear and chocolate flan

Now, this is a family’s favourite, as much for children as for adults!  It takes 5 minutes to make.  A great way to use pears that need eating! Soooooo easy. Recipe: HERE! 

flan poire chocolat

The Pear and Chocolate Tart

A chocolate glazing hiding a melty creamy pear filling! This is a little more elaborate, not your mid-week type of dessert as it takes a bit more time to make.  But yum yum yum!  The photo is not exceptional I realise, time to do it once more and this time do mouth watering photos.

hidden pear & chocolate tart

Another simple poached pear and its yogurt cake

Poached pears can be served just as such because they are truly beautiful. This pears were poached  similarly to the “Poire Belle Helene“.  The yoghurt cake is HERE.

The ever simple pear tart

If you are after something simple, not fancy, stop here.  A pear tart is just that, similarly to an apple tart.

Use option B of the “Everyday apple tart” recipe and add the almond meal. Pears are juicy and the almond meal will soak up the juice and avoid a soggy tart.

 

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Three easy meals with leftover slow cooked meat

Three easy meals with leftover slow cooked meat! Yeah!

Ahead of a long day away from home, I sometimes use the convenience of the slow cooker to have dinner ready by the time we come home.  Just practical, nothing fancy.  Recently, I cooked a pork shoulder into pulled pork and we had quite a bit of leftovers.  It can be quite difficult to find ideas to serve the leftovers pork differently.  At other times, it may have been lamb or beef.  Today, I am sharing three easy meals with leftover cooked meat.

Mushroom & pulled pork risotto.

This is great with any type of pork seasoning you may have used as you can use the risotto stock and type of cheese you use to balance the taste. Here I used the large king brown mushrooms; these mushrooms never made it to the quiche I had in mind at the back of my head when I bought them!  Preparation and cooking time: 20-30 minutes or 30-40 if you take your time!

The Recipe is HERE.

leftover risotto pork mushrooms

The good old shepherds’ pie (hachis Parmentier, in French).

What a crowd pleaser for all ages.  Tasty meat with delicious mashed potatoes? You cannot go wrong.  Here you can add tomato sauce, garlic and additional spices if required to balance the flavours or add some vegetables to make it a bit lighter and increase the volume of the lower part of the dish is this is necessary. There are hundreds of ways to go about it.

Preparation and cooking time – 40-50 minutes with a lot of hand free time between steps!

Recipe HERE.

hachis parmentier

The pulled meat rolls or wraps

I love wraps filled with lamb, a bit of yogurt, some green leaves and fresh chilli! Preparation and cooking time is very low, you only need to reheat the meat throughout and prepare your green leaves, lets say 10-15 minutes maximum!

Recipe HERE.

slow cooker

I hope you enjoy these recipes. While I am finishing writing this post, I have a chocolate banana brownie baking for this week’s lunchboxes.

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It ended up with chocolate

It ended up with chocolate

I can’t remember how it all started.  I think I was browsing through some cookbooks .  As it happens (a lot) I got interrupted after a few minutes and left the books on the coffee table.  Fast forward a few hours, I can’t remember, my 8 y.o ., like a curious little possum, goes through the books and starts selecting pages. I am not even aware of that at the time.  In the end, we got these chocolate crackle tops for lunch boxes and a beautiful chocolate cake for dessert. Yes, you guessed right, those cookbooks I was browsing were all chocolates books, this is how it ended up with chocolate!

Chocolate crackle tops

These chocolate crackle tops are quite interesting.  By the way, the recipe is HERE.   It is best not to use a strong chocolate (50% or so is fine) and to add, as per the recipe, a good cocoa. And yes, please make me a favour, use a good cocoa and even preferably a dutch cocoa! But if like me you only have 70% cocoa chocolate handy and couverture chocolate on top of that (that was for the first batch- we did two batches over the week), you need to adapt a little the recipe.  I would recommend sticking to compound chocolate (i.e. your supermarket cooking chocolate) for this one.

chocolatebiscuits

We had a good time doing those, I think Ambrine has now mastered the centrifugal icing sugar coating force! Instead of pushing the ball in the icing sugar, we used a light plastic bowl with a handle which she could spin rapidly. It is a lot of fun to have several balls racing on the edges of the bowl (and not flying everywhere!).

Coating in icing sugar , ready, steady, roll!

And the chocolate cake?

mmmmm.  I need to do it again! Just for the photo, of course! It is a recipe from Valli Little called the Yin Yang Chocolate cake. Coming soon…

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