Friday, 25 August 2017

Fresh Fruit Tartlets


With an abundance of seasonal fruits everywhere at the moment, these fresh fruit tartlets let you enjoy the ones you love the most. Don't be confined to sticking to a couple of fruits - be bold try a couple of new ones if there's the opportunity. These tartlets give you complete free reign. Taiwanese fruit markets have been stocking some wonderful selections recently. Why not head to your local fruit market to see what's best near you?

The sweet crisp pastry gives you the perfect case for these tartlets. If you're pushed for time, or don't want the extra washing up and baking, store bought ones will do just fine. Filled with a light citrus pastry cream, thanks to the addition of some whipped cream, makes these perfect for eating at any time of the day. But the fresh fruits are the real highlight. Choose a variety... peach for a clean floral taste and grapes for a wonderful pop of flavour and a little tartness. Orange too, why just use the zest? Lastly, some dragon fruit. It's visually wonderful and leaves another clean fresh flavour. I did find the red dragon fruit had more going on the flavour department.

Try out these tartlets for a late summer treat. They're great with plums, cherries, you name it. Sometimes a big tart is just too much handle. These little ones are just right.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                (Makes 7-8 tartlets)

Pastry
200g plain flour
65g caster sugar
80g cold butter
1 egg

Citrus pastry cream
185ml milk
1/2 lemon zested
1/2 orange zested
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
25g cornflour
150ml double cream

Fruit to top
1/4 Red dragon fruit
1/4 White dragon fruit
Handful of green grapes
1 peach
1 orange segmented
(Or any fruit of your choosing)

Method:
  • For the pastry, crumb together the flour, the sugar and the butter. Once it resembles breadcrumbs, add the egg. Combine until you form a smooth ball of pastry. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Whilst the pastry is resting start on the filling. Bring the milk to the boil with the lemon and orange zest. 
  • Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a mixing bowl. When light, add the cornflour to the egg yolks.  
  • Pour the boiling milk over the eggs whilst whisking. Return to the pan and cook whilst whisking on a medium heat. You'll notice lumps will form at the start, persevere, keep whisking and cooking. Soon you will be left with a smooth, lump free pastry cream. 
  • Spoon into a container, top with cling and leave to cool before refrigerating.
  • Roll the pastry out until it's around 3mm thick on a floured surface. Cut into manageable sizes for you tartlet cases. My tartlet cases were 6cm x 10cm. 
  • Press into the case, trim the edges of overhanging pastry off and return to fridge to firm up for 10-15 minutes.  
  • Fill with baking beans or rice lined with oven proof cling film.
  • Bake in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes. Remove the baking beans/ rice and bake for a further 3-5 minutes.
  • Leave to cool before removing from the tins. 
  • Whisk the cream until firm peaks. Give the pastry cream a little beat to loosen it up before folding in the cream. Spoon into a piping bag if using.
  • Pipe the filling into the tart case and decorate with all your chosen fresh fruit.

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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Crispy Roasted Five Spice Pork Belly


From the crackling to the moist meat and all that lovely fattiness in between, roast pork belly can be appreciated by all.

It'd most definitely been way too long since I'd had roast pork belly. To help change up a standard roast, a delicious rub of Chinese five spice was called for. Add a wonderful dipping sauce with the right amount of bite to cut through the natural fat in the pork belly, it was hands-down a winner.

When the pork is near finishing and you're waiting for the last pieces of cracking to... crackle? Be sure to keep an eye on it. The last thing you want is to momentarily forget and for it all to go belly up and burn.

This pork will also work great for sharing. Don't be surprised to see everyone drifting over for more than just one piece.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                            (Serves 3-4)

Pork belly
500-750g pork belly, skin on
1 1/2 tbsp 5 spice
1-2 tbsp Sunflower oil
Table salt
Coarse sea salt
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Dipping sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pureed
6 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp chilli sauce
3 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp five spice
2 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Method:
  • On the meat side of the pork belly, rub the five spice all over before turning over.
  • Deep score the skin on the pork belly, rub with fine salt (1 tablespoon should do it), then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pork belly from the fridge and dab with kitchen roll to absorb the water now on the skin. Rub with the coarse sea salt. Again a tablespoon should do it.
  • Place into a tin foil-lined tray and into a preheated oven at 180°C on the middle shelf. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. 
  • Remove from the oven and now dab or brush the rice wine vinegar over the skin side. Return to the oven, now at 220°C for 15-20 minutes on the top shelf.
  • Remove from the oven an brush or dab with 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Only use what required to coat the pork belly, no extra.
  • Return to the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until you have the perfect crispy crackling on top. 
  • Once crisped to perfection, leave to rest on a wire rack over the tray.
  • For the dipping sauce, whisk together all the ingredients. Taste to check if you'd like more heat - if so add the required amount of chilli. 
  • Once rested, cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and serve. I enjoyed mine with the dipping sauce and some honey roasted carrots with garlic.

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Chocolate & Coconut Truffles


After binge watching the Pirates of the Caribbean, it had me thinking about bounties. Naturally, this led to me creating these Bounty inspired chocolate truffles.

I don't think anyone can openly say Bounties are their favourite chocolate bar, at least anyone I know. Either way, there's always someone that will take a hoard of Bounties of your hands from a box of Celebrations. I'm that person. It's extra chocolate and a sweet treat - how could you resist?!

Taking inspiration from this chocolate bar, these truffles soon appeared. With a white chocolate and coconut ganache, encased in a crisp dark chocolate shell, they are divine. Quite possibly more so than the chocolate bar itself. From the first crunch to the soft, creamy ganache, with all the coconut you could ever want in truffle you will be left longing for relaxing time in the Caribbean.

For more chocolate truffle recipes, be sure to check these out here.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                          (Makes 35-40 truffles)

Ganache
250g coconut cream/ milk
80g desiccated/ powdered coconut
250g white chocolate, chopped
10g butter

Coating
125g dark chocolate
10-20g desiccated coconut

Method:
  • Bring the coconut cream to the heat along with the desiccated coconut. 
  • Once the coconut cream has heated up, add the chopped chocolate and butter.
  • Stir or whisk until all the chocolates melted. Then leave in a fridge to cool and set.
  • Once set divide the ganache into sized balls. Rolling in your hands to create a round ball. (Cold hands are preferable so not to melt the ganache.) Leave in the fridge once again before continuing. 
  • Melt the chocolate for coating. 
  • Dip the ganache balls into the chocolate, let the residual drip off before placing on parchment paper.
  • Either roll using a fork to create a spiky outside or leave to dry smooth. 
  • If drying smooth, add the remaining desiccated coconut to garnish.

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Friday, 11 August 2017

Banoffee Upside Down Cake


All things banoffee are always delicious. Well, that's my understanding anyway. This banoffee upside down cake is by no means an exception.

With gooey, sticky, toffee coating infused into bananas, it's something not to miss. With the addition of some walnuts for a welcomed crunch, it brings this cake together. You'll also be happy to know you're likely to get some delicious random pockets of toffee appear throughout for an extra surprise.

This cake makes a nice change from the usual banana loaves you'd find, so if you're looking for something a little different, this sweet treat recipe is for you.

Recipe 

Ingredients:                                                                                                                          (Serves 8)

Topping
70g soft dark brown sugar
35g butter
1 1/2 bananas, cut into 2cm slices

Cake
60g butter
100g sugar
1 egg
170g self raising flour
200g banana, peeled weight, mashed
80g walnuts, broken into pieces
Milk to consistency

Method:
  • For the topping, melt the butter and sugar together in a pan. Stir till combined and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Pour into a lined 18-20cm tin. Quickly place the banana slices on as you wish before the toffee sets.
  • For the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until pale. Gradually add the egg, beat until combined. 
  • Add the sifted flour and stir until you form a smooth cake batter. 
  • Add the mashed banana and broken walnuts. Fold everything thoroughly together. 
  • If the cake mix is too stiff, add some milk until a soft consistency. 
  • Smooth over the topping in the tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Once cooked leave to cool for 10 minutes before flipping and removing from the tin. 
  • Serve with lovely banoffee cake with a generous scoop of ice cream.


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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Pineapple Iced Tea With Pearls


A road trip to Taichung at the weekend was enough to jog my memory about tapioca pearls. Taichung is the birth place of the bubble tea with pearls. There's a bubble tea shop on virtually every corner.

For those of you who remember my post of, homemade bubble tea with boba, you may remember I mentioned there's a second way of making the tapioca pearls (boba). In this recipe I decide it would be a great opportunity to share it with you. These may the a little more labour intensive and time consuming but it's worth it. Finding tapioca pearls is not the easiest task, tapioca starch on the other hand, certainly is. From start to finish the pearls shouldn't take any longer than 25 minutes.

Pineapple iced tea is great! Whether you are using regular tea, a good quality black tea or even green tea you can enjoy this. The natural sweetness from the pineapple helps this drink a lot, especially letting it have a little brew with the tea before cooling.

For more great recipe to use up any leftover pineapple, check these out.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                               (Serves 4)

Tapioca pearls
50g tapioca starch
15-25ml boiling water
50g soft brown sugar

Iced Tea
500ml boiling water
3-4 black tea bags
100g fresh pineapple, finely diced
Ice cubes

Method:

  • Sift the tapioca starch into a mixing bowl. Add the boiling water gradually (crucial it's boiling or the texture will be very different). Mix well until you can form a smooth firm ball. The water can vary so be sure to add slowly to avoid a soggy mess.
  • Roll the ball into a long cylinder, approximately 6-9mm thick.
  • Cut the cylinder into small pieces to make the balls.
  • Roll the balls one by one to make them spherical.
  • In a pan of boiling water add the brown sugar. Once dissolved, add the tapioca balls.
  • Cook the pearls for 10 minutes to start, check to see if they are ready by lifting a couple from the water and look for a soft texture and lots of bubbles in the pearls.
  • Leave them to cool into the now formed sugar syrup. 
  • For the tea, let the tea bags brew in the water. Whilst brewing chop the pineapple into a small dice. 
  • Add the pineapple to the brewing tea. Once brewed remove the bags. 
  • Add a good handful of ice and shake through the tea. 
  • Place some tapioca pearls, along with some syrup to sweeten the tea into the bottom of a glass. Add the iced tea, be sure to check there's lots of pineapple in there. Lastly top with extra ice and serve. 


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Friday, 4 August 2017

Lemon Curd & Chocolate Shortbread Bars


It's rare to find excess chocolate in this household, but when we had some the other week I had to make something new with it. Combining it with lemon was unexpected, but well worth it.

The key these bars being so good is how crumbly and delicate the shortbread is. The addition of cream and an egg yolk is truly noticeable. If, however, you don't have them to hand, the recipe will still work very well. This chocolate shortbread is most definitely moreish just on its own - with a wonderful zing from the lemon curd, it is transformed. You get this light, easy to eat bar, with a real chocolatey taste before a fresh taste of lemon freshens your taste buds.

You'll be having a bite of these bars in no time with this recipe.

Recipe

Ingredients:

Shortbread
110g butter
60g sugar
1 tbsp cream
1 small egg yolk
110g plain flour
20g cocoa powder

Lemon curd
1 whole egg
3 medium egg yolks (70g)
3 lemons, zested and juiced
170g caster sugar
85g butter

Method:
  • For the shortbread, mix all the shortbread ingredients together until combined and comes together in a ball.
  • Press into a lined 18cm/18cm tin. Bake at 160°C for 15-18 minutes. 
  • Whilst the shortbread bakes it's time to make the lemon curd. 
  • For the curd, whisk together the egg, the egg yolks and the sugar. Add the lemon zest and juice, followed by the butter. 
  • Whisk over a bain marie. Constantly moving the mixture from the edges to ensure even cooking. You will notice it thickening, wait until it starts to leave a trail and remove from the heat. 
  • Pass the curd through a sieve to remove any zest or pips. Leave to one side. 
  • Remove the shortbread from the oven. Pour over the lemon curd whilst hot, then smooth out. 
  • Bake once again for 5-8 minutes until fully set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. 
  • Once cool trim the edges and portion. 
  • Top with a dredging of icing sugar before serving. 


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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Prawn & Corn Dumplings


I took advantage of the free time this weekend due to a possible typhoon hitting the area and unpleasant weather to make some prawn and corn dumplings and play about with shapes.

Making your own dumplings at home is very straight forward. Whether you make your own skins or head to the shop for some, they are something the whole family can do. When it comes to the shapes you can be as creative as you please. With there being almost endless possibilities, just like pasta, feel free to experiment. If you do have open face ones, steam them instead of boiling.

Corn and prawn is a lovely combination and depending on your location, corn may be in season right now. I've gone for baby corn, however, regular corn would also work just as well. These dumplings have a great crunch from the corn with the meatiness of the prawns holding everything together amongst all these fresh flavours.

For another dumpling recipe to try out, these gyozas (pan stickers) are a superb dinner or lunch.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                      (Makes approx. 18 size dependent)

Dumpling skins
150g strong bread flour
Pinch of salt
100ml boiling water

Filling
200g baby prawns
2 garlic cloves, pureed or finely chopped
1 whole medium sized fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh pureed/ finely grated ginger
1/4 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
4 large baby corns, finely chopped
4 large Chinese leaves of your choice, chopped small

Method:
  • Start by making the dumpling skins. If using store bought, head straight to the filling.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the boiling water and incorporate with either chopsticks or a spoon. (Don't add all the water in one go as it may not all be required).
  • Make a ball with the dough, cover with cling-film and leave to rest for 30 - 45 minutes.
  • For the filling. Chop the prawns until they are around 5mm dice. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander. Give it a good mix before seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the chopped baby corn and Chinese leaf. Leave in the fridge until the skins are ready. 
  • Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut 18 even sized pieces. Roll the individual dough pieces on a floured surface until a thin as you can possibly get it. Normally around 10cm diameter. 
  • Place a tablespoon of filling into the centre of the skin. Wipe a little cold water all around the edge of the skin and shape into the dumpling shape of choice. 
  • Repeat for all skins. Once made keep in the refrigerator or cook straight away. 
  • Cook in either salted boiling water, stock or even the soup you may be serving with. Remember these can also be steamed. 
  • Cook for around 5-6 minutes. Remove from the water or cooking liqueur if not being served as a soup and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. I recommend a good sweet chilli sauce or a blend of soy sauce, little rice wine vinegar and some chilli oil. 

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