Thursday 28 November 2013

Chocolate Roulade - a challenge

As promised here is an update on my post about Sponge (Swiss) Rolls. I don't recall ever attempting to make a sponge roll before, so failure last month (at the first attempt) was no real surprise to me.
However, I am extremely keen to master the perfect sponge roll. My goal is to make a Chocolate Roulade just like the one that appears on the front cover of the Cuisine November 2013 edition.  And..... and I want to win a case of Daniel Le Brun bubbles for the best entry in their Christmas recipe competition.
One month on I am still trying to get a Chocolate Roulade to roll without cracking and/or splitting. My husband thinks I am getting a little obsessive about it and he is over testing Chocolate Roulades! I followed the recipe carefully. So why is it so hard and why doesn't it look like the one on Cuisine cover? Hummmphh!
I went to my foodie friends and family bakers asking for their tips on 'how to get a sponge to actually roll' without splitting into three pieces.
This is the advice I garnered
Use a bigger/longer tin
Don't use a fan bake oven
Don't cook any longer than 10 mins at 180 degrees C
It should be cooked when you press your finger in the middle and it 'bounces back'
Let the roll cool slightly (what is slightly?), turn onto a damp tea towel, roll up
Turn it out onto a damp tea towel as soon as it is out of the oven, roll up asap
Cool slightly! Turn out onto a dry tea towel dusted with icing sugar - it will roll perfectly
Hubby's suggestion -Roll it long ways, the other way is across the grain - ummm I don't think it has a grain!
My idea - get a new shiny red Kitchen Aid - that will help - it didn't! But I am loving my new cake mixer just the same.
There is more to the perfect sponge roll than I realised!
I have taken all their expert advice on board - to no avail! My latest roll still cracked/split big time when I tried to roll it up. But I am not giving up! Further research on the web suggests to me I need to buy a different tin ( I was not aware tin size depended on how many eggs you used) and to use cornflour instead of flour (thinking about it, that's what my mother used for her sponges). Both tips are worth pursuing and I am going to have another crack at it (excuse the pun). Chocolate Roulade number four is coming up!
The good news is the end result still looks amazing, tastes wonderful and when the rolls are covered in chocolate you don't really notice the splits or,  that it is layers of slabs wrapped in cream.
I will nail the challenge as I love this recipe for its chocolaty richness and hazelnut flavours.
And it will have pride of place on my Christmas 2013 table.
Chocolate Roulade with Hazelnut Cream and Croquant - attempt # 3

Chocolate Roulade attempt # 2 - more like a slab!

Left over Chocolate Roulade for morning tea!

I love my new cake mixer

Sunday 24 November 2013

Farro and Pearl Barley continued...

If you are like me you will have childhood memories of the ubiquitous pearl barley. It was always the standard addition to our mothers homemade vegetable soup, often boiled so long it turned to mush. But (luckily for us) it is now appearing in so many different other ways. I really love the texture of this nutritious grain (note my risotto post using pearl barley). I looks like I'm in a bit of a grain phase at the moment! 
Last week I found myself with the remaining pieces of a 2kg pumpkin. I also had an ongoing problem with a large hoard of things in my pantry, space was limited, so the thinking cap went on. What to produce that would deal with the pumpkin and hopefully use up some of the items that keep tumbling out of my pantry. Low and behold this recipe appeared in our Sunday paper. It is totally delicious and should be very appealing to any lover of vegetables and if you make some adjustments prefect for my gluten free and vegan friends and of course leaving out the meat, to vegetarians!
The recipe is in the similar vein to the Farro recipe I posted last month. However, this one uses pearl barley which has the advantage of being easier to find and is a little less expensive than Farro. The whole meal would work out to be less than $10. The addition of smoked paprika sits nicely with the chorizo and gives the dish a different sort of flavour. Sorry I do not have a photo of the final dish but the recipe is detailed below.
Yesterday I cooked another dish along a similar vein - created by Ginny Grant in Cuisine -  but you add 2tbsp of pomegranate molasses and 1tbsp of olive oil to the cooked warm grain (for this I used a mixture of farro and pearl barley) and the pumpkin was roasted with 1tbsp of pomegranate molasses. Two roast onions are added and a little feta crumbled on top of the salad. I served it as a vegetarian main but for meat lovers it would be great as a side with BBQ lamb.
I finished the dish with a garnish of fresh pomegranate seeds, it looked lovely and tasted delicious. In fact the bowl was almost licked clean!,farro,roasted,pumpkin
So give these grains a try, they add a wonderful chewy texture to your salads and definitely make a change from rice and couscous salads for the summer BBQ's.
Warm pearl barley, roasted pumpkin and chorizo salad
Fiona Smith – SST November 2013
1/2 - 3/4 cup pearl barley
1 kg pumpkin, peeled and cubed 2cm (drizzle with honey for a sweeter flavour if desired)
1 tsp dried oregano or 1tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
Juice and finely grated zest from a lemon
2 tsp red or white wine vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ c pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
200g chorizo, slice 1cm (leave out if vegetarian dish preferred)
½ cup fresh coriander chopped
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Rinse pearl barley under cold water and drain. Cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
Toss the pumpkin with the oregano and oil and season with salt.
Spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook in oven for
20-25 minutes, turning once, until tender.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together paprika, lemon juice and zest,
vinegar and extra virgin olive oil then stir in warm barley and mix well.
Heat a fry pan over a medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook for a minute shaking
the pan, until they pop. Set aside.
Heat the pan or grill till hot, cook the chorizo for 2-3 minutes on each side until brown.
Add the pumpkin, chorizo and coriander to the pearl barley mix and toss all together.
Sprinkle with pumpkins seeds and serve.
Serves 4-6
Note – Gluten free option - substitute gluten free chorizo and quinoa for barley
Farro, pearl barley, roast pumpkin and onion salad with pomegranate

Thursday 14 November 2013

Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Risotto

Here is a simple little gem I made last week. On a night when I had no energy (and no real longing) to cook, I went searching for an inspiration in the fridge -  all I found  was a bunch of asparagus!
'I feel like something made with brown rice, said the man of the house'.
Ok, so that part was easy. One cup of rice and three cups of water into the rice cooker - switched on, done. Thinking what goes with asparagus I came up with peas and a freshly picked lemon. What transpired was a gorgeous, buttery, lemony, risotto that rocked our socks off.
It's often said, the simple meals can the ones we treasure the most and the ones we want to eat again.
Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Risotto
1 bunch of asparagus - steamed until just tender - smothered in butter - chopped in half
1 cup of frozen peas (cook in salted water steaming the asparagus)
1 large lemon - zest and juice
1 cup of brown rice cooked and kept warm in the rice cooker. 
Gently stir in the vegetables and lemon zest and juice.
Taste for seasoning then serve immediately.
Serves 2 greedy, hungry people!