Saturday, June 27, 2009

Assorted Bakewell Tartelettes

Summer's arrived and so has the busy social calender. 
June has been quite a busy month... Birthday parties, baby showers and just entertaining friends and family. It left me so little time that I barely had time to finish the challenge. 

When I first read the Bakewell Tart (um) Pudding challenge, I was wondering if I would have enough time to finish all the different steps... Sounded complicated just while reading it. But when I finally got down to it, the entire thing was done in a couple of hours.

I halved the recipe and baked individual "tarts" in cupcake/muffin molds. I filled two with blackberry preserves, two with strawberry jam and two with nutella. 

I think everyone loved it indeed!  

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Assorted Bakewell Tartelettes

Sweet shortcrust pastry:
4 oz all purpose flour
0.5 oz sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 oz unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
1 egg yolks
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
1 Tbsp cold water

2.25 oz unsalted butter, softened
2.25 oz icing sugar
1.5 eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract
2.25 oz ground almonds (or other nut of your choice)
0.5 oz all purpose flour

Blackberry preserves, strawberry jam and nutella

Prepare the dough:
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the frangipane:
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Assemble the tartelettes:
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pans, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Place the tarts on a baking sheet line with parchment paper and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crispy spring rolls- Dare you to eat just one...

Spring rolls have to be the most recognizable dimsum dish. Even in the "Chinese" restaurants in India where the only thing Chinese about the menu is probably the use of soy sauce and MSG, spring rolls are pretty passable.

Why do they call them 'spring' rolls? According to Wikipedia, spring roll is the most common English translation of Chả giò, a traditional Vietnamese food, which means minced pork roll. Apparently it has nothing to do with spring.

It is one of the easiest and absolutely delicious appetizers you could make. I almost always have wonton wrappers in the freezer. Its so very easy then to make appetizers
when the craving hits or when my housemates (read husband and son) come begging for munchies.

Crispy Spring Rolls

Asian fish sauce- 2 tbsp
Lime juice- 2 tbsp

Serrano chillies, seeded and chopped fine-1

Sugar-1 tsp

Mushrooms, coarsely chopped- 4 oz

Garlic cloves, finely chopped- 1

Small onions, finely chopped- 1

Minced chicken-4 oz

Scallions finely chopped- 4

Egg, beaten-1

Fresh grated ginger- 1 inch piece

Five-spice powder- 1/2 tsp

salt- 1/4 tsp

pepper -to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves- 1 1/2 cup

Wonton wrappers- 8

Vegetable oil- to fry

Mix half of the following to make a dipping sauce: fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chillies.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms till browned. Remove from pan,. Add a little more oil and add the garlic and saute till the raw smell disappears. Add the onions and cook for 5-8 mins till softened.

Mix the remaining fish sauce, chillies, chicken, egg, ginger, scallions, five-spice powder, salt and chopped cilantro in a bowl. Add the sauteed mushroom and onions. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and fry it to test the seasoning. Adjust as needed.

Lay a wonton wrapper on a clean surface. Place a tbsp of the filling from the edge nearest to you. Fold in the two sides and roll tightly away from you. Seal the edge with egg wash. Alternately use a toothpick to seal the edges.

Pour enough oil in a pan to deep fry the rolls. Fry till golden brown.