Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas 2008: Chocolate Pavlova and Lemon Curd Tartlets

It's been too long since my last post. I've thought of a long list of excuses as to why it has taken me 3 months (!!) to finally blog again: started full time work, facebook, social events (baby showers, weddings), camera battery was never charged, I usually cook/bake at night (bad lighting for food photos), etc.

Enough excuses. I am sure you are all tired of looking at those broad bean photos. ;-)

I love the holiday seasons because I associate it with spending time with family & friends, sharing food and baking. Lots of it! It's become a tradition that I make the dessert for the Christmas day feast with Quikong's family. I usually make the 'best ever baked cheesecake' which is always a crowd pleaser. But this time I wanted to make something to suit the season (it is after all summer downunder). So after some consultation with Quikong's mum and sister, I decided to try something different this year: Chocolate Pavlova with fresh berries. Since I needed to use up the remaining egg yolks, I also made lemon curd tartlets.

This is my last post for 2008 and hopefully I will get my blog mojo back for 2009. :-)

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year!!!

Chocolate Pavlova
By Nigella Lawson, 'Forever Summer' p. 189
Serves 8-10


For the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tblspns cocoa powder, seived
1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
500ml double/thickened cream
Vanilla bean
500g raspberries or any berries that are in season
2-3 tbspn coarsely grated dark chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
3. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate.
4. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
5. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approx. 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top.
6. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150C and cook for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.
7. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
(Note: This can be prepared 1-2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. )

To Serve
1. When you're ready to serve, invert onto a big, flat-bottomed plate.
2. Scrape vanilla bean and put it in a big bowl together with the cream. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the berries.
10. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don't want the berries' luscious colour and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top. I also threw on some edible silver pearls. Serve immediately.

Lemon Curd Tartlets

For curd
(Recipe from Maggie Beer)
4 egg yolks
½ cup castor sugar
60 g unsalted butter
3 teaspoons zest of Meyer Lemon
100 mls Meyer lemon juice

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until sugar is dissolved and the mixture well combined but don’t allow to become frothy. Then put that mixture and other ingredients all together in a heavy non reactive saucepan at low temperature and bring to a simmer. As it becomes thicken and you see bubbles appearing take it away from the heat continuing to stir. Allow to cool. Cover until ready to fill the pastry cases.

Use your favourite sweet shortcurst dough recepe. Roll out the dough to the desired shapes (i.e. a big tart or tartlets) and fully bake the pastry according to the recipe. Allow to cool before filling it with curd.

Serving suggestion
Dust with icing sugar and serve with something as luscious as double Jersey cream. I kept it simple by decorating the tartlets with a few strands of shredded mint leaf.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Posh Broad Beans on Toast with Jamie Oliver, Bill Granger, Maggie Beer...and a poem

A Short-lived Love Affair
Unlike many veggies which are available all year round, broad beans have a distinct season. They appear in the markets from winter into spring, and then they’re gone until next year. Of course one can find dried and frozen broad beans anytime, BUT IT”S JUST NOT THE SAME! I have to part with my lovely broad beans soon. Therefore, for the September My Legume Love Affair event, created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and hosted this month by Lucy of Nourish Me, I present to you these lovely Broad Beans, 3 Recipes that accentuate all their goodness, and a Poem.

Broad beans are also known as field, winter, tick, horse, English, Windsor, faba or fava beans. Bean Beans are among the oldest cultivated crops a legume, it is a distant cousin to the garden snap bean. Like all legumes, broad beans are rich in protein, iron, zinc and fibre.

Playing with food is fun!

Select the smallest broad-bean pods you can find or, if you have a garden supply, pick the smallest ones first to eat whole and then the larger ones later to eat shelled. Go for bright perky-looking beans and avoid any that appear tired or floppy.


Preparing broad beans is a labour of love. It’s fiddly but easy. Put on your iPod, MP3 player, CD. Then, remove the beans from the shell. Next, to make it easier to peel away the tougher outer skin, blanch the beans in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds - bring a pan of water to the boil, toss in the beans, and let the water come to the boil again, which usually takes about 30 seconds. This loosens the outer skin on the broad beans, which can easily slip off. The bean is now "double peeled".

(Sources: Steve Manfredi, Burkes Backyard)

from Two Aussie cooks Maggie Beer and Bill Granger, and Jamie Oliver. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of these dishes because these beans never made it to the bread this time round because I was popping them in my mouth like popcorn! I love all three recipes because it brings out the best of fresh broad beans so do try them. If you really have to, frozen broad beans can be substituted.

Broad Beans with Pecorino
by Maggie Beers
From the TV series The cook and the Chef

3 cups broad beans
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo) plus last moment drizzle
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
80-100g pecorino
4 slices sourdough bread for bruschetta

Serves 4. Maggie sorts large pods and small pods into different piles before peeling, and where possible uses the smaller ones. Blanch the broad beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes and refresh in cold water immediately. Heat a grill pan until hot, brush the slices of sourdough with a little olive oil and grill until well toasted on each side.

Add a little more evoo to the beans. Mix with mint and a little more evoo as needed. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Spoon onto the grilled bruschetta and serve with shavings of pecorino and an extra drizzle of evoo.

Broad Bean, Feta and Mint Bruchetta
by Bill Granger

500g broad beans
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
100g creamy feta
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp finely shredded mint
Chargrilled bread, to serve

Blanch the broad beans in a saucepan of lightly boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Peel outer skins.

Place broad beans, olive oil, feta, lemon juice and garlic in a blender or food processor and process until a rough paste. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add mint and pulse for a few seconds until just combined.

Incredible smashed peas and broad beans on toast
from Jamie at Home

Jamie warns: “Don’t use frozen peas and broad beans for this because it sort of misses the point. Made with raw peas and sweet fresh broad beans, the whole thing will taste alive and just like summer.”

700g broad beans in their pods (about 250g shelled weight)
500g peas in their pods (about 150g shelled weight)
a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
50g finely grated fresh pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving
juice of 1 lemon
4 slices of sourdough bread
1 clove of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella cheese, torn in half
a handful of pea shoots

Serves 4. Pod the peas and broad beans, keeping them separate. Put any really small ones to one side to use in the salad.

This next bit is best done in a pestle and mortar, in batches if necessary. (You can pulse it in a food processor instead, but you won’t end up with the lovely bashed and bruised flavour that makes this dish incredible.) Bash up half the mint leaves with the peas and a pinch of salt. Add the broad beans a few at a time and crush to a thick green paste.

Mash in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make the paste spreadable. Stir in the pecorino. If the mixture is a bit stiff, add a little more oil to loosen it. Add about three-quarters of the lemon juice – this will bring it all together. Have a taste and see what you think. You want the richness of the pecorino and the oil to balance nicely with the freshness of the peas, beans and mint. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Toast the bread on both sides, either on a barbecue or in a hot griddle pan. Rub each slice twice only (very important) with the cut side of the garlic and top with some smashed peas and half a ball of mozzarella.

Dress the pea shoots, the remaining mint leaves and the reserved small peas and beans with the rest of the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and scatter this salad over the crostini. Finish with a little more olive oil and a grating of pecorino.

Check out how Jamie plates the dish here. Soooo gooooood!

Lastly, a Poem
(This must be my longest post ever!) If you feel inclined....Australian poet Les Murray accurately and humorously described the appeal of broad bean pods in The Broad Bean Sermon:

The Broad Bean Sermon
© Les Murray, Lunch and Counter Lunch 1974

Beanstalks, in any breeze, are a slack church parade
without belief, saying trespass against us in unison,
recruits in mint Air Force dacron, with unbuttoned leaves.

Upright with water like men, square in stem-section
they grow to great lengths, drink rain, keel over all ways,
kink down and grow up afresh, with proffered new greenstuff.

Above the cat-and-mouse floor of a thin bean forest
snails hang rapt in their food, ants hurry through several dimensions:
spiders tense and sag like little black flags in their cordage.

Going out to pick beans with the sun high as fence-tops, you find
plenty, and fetch them. An hour or a cloud later
you find shirtfulls more. At every hour of daylight

appear more than you missed: ripe, knobbly ones, fleshy-sided,
thin-straight, thin-crescent, frown-shaped, bird-shouldered, boat-keeled ones,
beans knuckled and single-bulged, minute green dolphins at suck,

beans upright like lecturing, outstretched like blessing fingers
in the incident light, and more still, oblique to your notice
that the noon glare or cloud-light or afternoon slants will uncover

till you ask yourself Could I have overlooked so many, or
do they form in an hour? unfolding into reality
like templates for subtly broad grins, like unique caught expressions,

like edible meanings, each sealed around with a string
and affixed to its moment, an unceasing colloquial assembly,
the portly, the stiff, anf those lolling in pointed green slippers ...

Wondering who’ll take the spare bagfulls, you grin with happiness
– it is your health – you vow to pick them all
even the last few, weeks off yet, misshapen as toes.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Spring into Lavender Shortbread

Today is the first day of Spring down under. I knew that spring was coming because I could her the "tweet! tweet! tweet!" from the baby and mommy birds at dawn....and when my lavender bush started to flower for the first time a few weeks ago. Quikong planted this lavender bush many months ago as a surprise because he knew that lavender is my favourite essential oil. I love rolling the fresh flowers between my palms and breathing in its soothing aroma. Even the leaves and stems of the lavender has a fragrance.

After an exhausting but rewarding pre-spring cleaning weekend, I thought that these Lavender Shortbreads were the perfect way to welcome spring. Although Quikong was initially apprehensive about consuming lavender, even he was surprised how delicious these were.

I used this Lavender Shortbread recipe from Jen of Milk & Cookies (thanks, Jen!!) who adapted it from this award winning matcha (green tea) shortbread recipe. The result was as Jen promised - "blissful buttery texture that melts in your mouth....aromatic sweetness". It also keeps its shape perfectly (great for more elaborate shapes if you wish) and is simple to make.

Kitchen Notes:
- I didn't coat the cookies in granulated sugar before baking.
- Make sure that you use lavender specifically for baking. The ones for potpourri usually has chemicals added into them.
- Vary the strength of the lavender aroma:
(a) Stronger: For a stronger lavender flavour without adding more dried lavender - crush the lavender in a mortar and pestle and let the aroma infuse over night by mixing the crushed flower into the sugar.
(b) More subtle: Omit the dried lavender. Instead, roll a few whole fresh lavender stems between your palms and place it in the sugar overnight. Remove the lavender before using the sugar in the recipe.

I think these shortbreads are rather elegant and make great gifts. Since the recipe uses dried lavender, you do not have to wait for spring to make these shortbread.

To our Muslim readers: Wishing you all a blessed month of Ramadan. These shortbreads and a cup of tea could be a sweet way to break a day of fasting. :-)


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

All that Zest - Cumquat Marmalade

Photo & Bread by Eva

Cumquat (Aus) / Kumquat (USA, UK) / kin kan (Jap) / aranja de ouro (Brazil) is native to China and means "gold orange". Fresh cumquats can be eaten raw (skin and all) or easily preserved whole in syrup. Sticking to seasonal cooking and keeping with the Beijing Olympic theme, I present to you, Cumquat Marmalade.

Making marmalade is a real winter treat since it’s citrus and slow-cooking season. A refreshing aroma also permeates through the whole house - it's my kind of aromatherapy! But move over Seville, blood and navel oranges....cumquat marmalade is our current favourite. No traces of bitterness and the perfect balance of sweet and sour. However, not everyone likes marmalade, so I am usually slightly hesitant about giving it away as a gift unless I know that the recipient is a fan.

My friend Eva (of Sweet Sins) was the lucky recipient of a jar of this marmalade ("lucky" because Quikong originally wanted to keep it all for himself! He is a marmalade fanatic). I'll link Eva's post here when it's ready so that you can hear what a non-marmalade fan thought about this particular cumquat marmalade and also for Eva's recipe of this gorgeous looking bread. She ran out of rye flour and used maize flour instead - clever girl! (Thanks to Eva as well for these lovely photos!)

Photo & Bread by Eva

Winter Fruit
With mid-late winter being the height of cumquat season in NSW, we were lucky enough to be able to freshly pick (for free!) a kilo of home-grown cumquats at a homestead/vineyard that we were staying at in the Hunter Valley region last month. The lemon I used in this recipe was also home-grown from a neighbour's garden.

Cumquat Marmalade
Adapted from The Produce Bible (by Leanne Kitchen)

1kg unwaxed, organically grown cumquats
1.25L (5 cups) water
1 large lemon, juice (about ¼ cup) & zest
1.25 kg sugar
muslin cloth


(a) 24hrs before – Prepare the fruit:
Wash and dry the fruit. If waxed, scrub the kumquats under running water to remove any wax. Place a sieve over a large non-reactive container (with a lid), pot or bowl. Cut each fruit in half and squeeze out the juice over the sieve. Collect the pips and place it in a piece of muslin cloth. Tie it securely & place it in the container together with the juice. Using a sharp knife (I used a kitchen scissors), cut the peel finely or coarsely, according to your preference. Add the peel and water in the container with the bag of pips and the juice. Cover and leave to soak overnight or for 24 hours. This helps to extract the maximum amount of pectin from the fruit pulp and pips, which will give a better set. It also helps to soften the peel, which will reduce the amount of cooking needed.

Soaking Cumquats Overnight with Bag of Pips

(b) Next day:
- Place 2 saucers in the freezer.
- Place the cumquats, water, pip bag, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large saucepan. Bring the contents slowly to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes.
- While cumquats are simmering, warm* the sugar by spreading it in a into a large roasting tin/baking dish and putting in the pre-heated oven (150-170°C) for 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through. (I used a microwave).
- When the cumquat is tender, tip the warmed sugar into the saucepan and stir over low heat, without boiling, until dissolved. Return to a boil. Boil rapidly and stir often for 20-30 minutes.
- When the syrup falls from a wooden spoon in rather thick sheets, remove saucepan from heat and put a small amount on a saucer that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a minute or two - it should be slightly jelled and will wrinkle just a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it is. (Quikong prefers a thicker set, so I cooked the marmalade for a bit longer).
- Remove the bag of seeds when the marmalade is done. Wait for about 10-20 minutes before ladling into hot sterilized jars to prevent the zest from floating to the top. You can then safely store it in canning jars, freeze it, or keep it in the fridge. Makes about 6-7 cups.

Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks. Too much light is not good for storage, while a damp or steamy atmosphere can cause mould to develop on the surface of the marmalade.

- Use Earl Grey or Jasmine tea instead of water.
- Add half a dried-out vanilla bean to each jar.
- If you like a darker, Oxford-style marmalade, then add 1 tbsp treacle when you add the sugar.

Marmalades are not just for toast:
Don't just spread it on a buttered toast! Warm it up slightly and use it as a glaze for cakes (e.g. cheesecake), swirl it through a chocolate cake mixture before baking it or to fill vegan thumbprint cookies. And don't forget savoury dishes like glazing roast duck, chicken or carrots.

*What do you think?
I’m not convinced that warming the sugar actually does anything, but many recipes mention it. If someone has scientific or even anecdotal evidence to back this up, I’d be interested to hear from you.

Photo & Bread by Eva

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Beijing 08.08.08...Fortune Cookies and Chinese Custard Tarts

In case no one noticed, the date yesterday was 08.08.08 ("8" is a very auspicious number in Chinese culture) and not surprisingly, the date chosen for the opening ceremony of the Olympics held in Beijing. When Quikong invited our friends, N & T, over for dinner last night, I thought that it would be a great excuse to have Chinese as the theme for the meal. And a terrific reason for me to go food shopping in Chinatown! It's amazing the kind of interesting ingredients that one can find there. It certainly fires up my culinary juices.

The Menu:
Starters - BBQ duck buns, Chive dumplings, Scallop siu mai and Prawn gow gee (all steamed)
Mains - Crab Fried Rice, Sweet sour garlic prawns and stir fried baby pak choy
Dessert - Homemade fortune cookies and Chinese custard tarts (recipes below)

The most fun part of the evening was watching our friends N and T crack open their personalised fortune cookies. Quikong was the mastermind behind the funny "fortunes". I don't recall where I got this fortune cookie recipe from. I think that it tasted good and looked authentic but after a day, it lost its crispiness. Perhaps the container that I stored it in was not airtight. If anyone has a reliable Fortune Cookie recipe, please let me know. I am keen to try again because it really is so much fun to serve at dinner parties.

Fortune Cookies
1 extra large egg white
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
pinch of salt

- Cut 3- by 1/2-inch strips of paper and write or type your own fortunes with non-toxic ink.
- Preheat oven to 180°C. and butter a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl whisk egg white just until foamy. Add flour, sugar, essences and a pinch salt and beat until smooth. Depending on the size of your egg and the type of flour (it varies in every country), add a few drops of water to achieve the desired consistency.
- Put 2 teaspoons of the batter on buttered area of baking sheet and with back of measuring spoon (or your index finger) spread batter evenly into a 3 inches diameter circle. It has to be rather thinly spread out (almost translucent), otherwise the cookie will not be crispy.
- Bake cookie in middle of oven until golden around edge but pale in center, about 5-8 minutes. - Working quickly, with a spatula remove cookie from the baking sheet and invert onto a kitchen towel. Put a folded fortune in middle of cookie and fold cookie in half. Bend pointed edges of cookie toward each other. Use a muffin tin to hold the cookies in shape as they cool (stick the pointed ends down into the tin).
- Make more cookies with remaining batter in same manner, letting baking sheet cool slightly between cookies. Makes about 10 cookies.

These custard tarts remind me of my childhood. Bakeries in Singapore are commonly run by Singaporeans of Chinese backgrounds so these tarts can be found everywhere. Some were made with shortcrust pastry while others with flaky pastry (similar to Portuguese-style custard tarts); some were round and yet others were oval in shape. My sis was the custard tart connoisseur - we've lost count of how many different eggs tarts she has "tested". We used to judge bakeries by its custard tarts and dinner rolls. :-)

Chinese Custard Tarts
(from Australain Women's Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook)

Tart shell:
Your fav. short crust pastry/pâte brisée recipe#

3 extra large eggs
1/3 cup
caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
few drops of yellow food colouring*

#Use half butter/half shortening to achieve a lighter, flakier crust
*This can be ommited but it does give the deep coloured custard that is characteristic of these tarts that are commonly seen at Chinese bakeries and dim sum restaurants.

- Roll out the dough to 3mm thickness. cut out with a 8cm fluted cutter. Put into buttered patty tins. No need to blind/par bake the tart shell.
- Beat together eggs and sugar. Gradually add milk. Add vanilla essence and food colouring (if using). Mix well but try not to produce bubbles. Pour custard carefully intro prepared pastry cases.
- Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 180°C, cook further 10-15 minutes until the custard is set.

: The filling makes approx 30 small tarts.If you end up with leftover custard mixture after all the tart shells have been filled, butter a ramekin and bake the custard without the shell.


As for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics - I was really blown away!!! Did you catch the opening ceremony? What did you think of it? It was also Margot's (Coffee and Vanilla) birthday, so Happy Birthday, Margot!! I hope that you had fun with M & the kids. :-)

Have a nice weekend and a terrific week ahead everyone!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Pacri Nenas - Spiced Pineapple Chutney

Moving from Two to Four Seasons
Growing up in Singapore, we like to pretend that we have seasons – simply categorised as “rainy/wet” or “hot and humid” seasons. This is not surprising since Singapore is just a tiny, tropical island located near the equator. Now that I live in Sydney, Australia, I have been reflecting on how the four seasons has changed the course of my culinary adventures. When I started this blog, one of my intentions was to document this metamorphosis, but it did not quite work out that way....

Seasonal Cooking
Since moving to a Sydney, I also noticed that the seasons or weather does influence what we cook. While everyone in the northern hemisphere are frolicking on the beach and eating sorbet, we are bundled up in several layers and often find ourselves turning to nourishing foods like soups, casseroles, stews, roasts, risottos and curries.

Curry in Winter
How very strange that I now associate curry with cooler weather - I used to eat it regularly in Singapore and it is almost always hot and humid there. I recall that it was the norm to get all sweaty after tucking into a good bowl of curry – it was worth it!

How Hot can You Handle?
Another interesting observation is that Indian restaurants in Sydney and possibly all other countries outside of Southeast Asia label the curries “mild”, “medium”, “hot”. This creates problems between me and Quikong when we eat out because even though he thinks he was Indian in a previous life (he LOVES Indian food), we get into arguments over which curry I am “allowed” to order. He does not like his food (chilli) hot. If you are a regular reader, you already know that I am the opposite - when it comes to certain Southeast Asian dishes, the hotter the better! I usually give in, and try to get my chilli fix another day.

An Accompaniment for Curry
Today, I am not posting a recipe for curry because I am not expert in that department. While my curry skills are getting better and better, I find it impossible to replicate Mom’s curries. What I would like to share is a popular accompaniment for curry or spiced-based dishes such as nasi beryani/biryani. Mom’s combo of lentil dhal and nasi beryani meal is not complete without pacri nenas (pineapple chutney). The combination of sweet, sour and a touch of spice really whets the appetite.

While I was frying the spices, the wonderful aroma that resulted reminded me of Mom’s kitchen and instantly comforts me. In my version, I added some chopped dates and it was a winner with both Quikong (I served it with beef curry) and my neighbours (it makes a great gift!).

Pacri Nenas
(Spiced Pineapple Chutney)
Loosely adapted from Nirmala Magazine

1 fresh ripe pineapple, peeled (about 600g)
1-2 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
1 red (Spanish) onion (or 6 shallots), sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 x 4cm cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
2 whole cardamoms
15 fennel seeds
¼ tbsp cumin powder
3cm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
½ cup water
1 tsp each of salt and sugar
(optional: 100-150g pitted dates, chopped in half)

- Cut pineapple into 8 sections lengthwise. Cut the core off & discard. Slice the pineapple flesh into 1cm thick pieces. Reserve the juices from the chopping board.
- Heat oil in a non-stick pan/wok. Fry the onion and garlic over medium heat till wilted (be careful not to burn/brown the garlic or onion). Add spices, ginger and chillies and cook till fragrant. Add pineapple pieces and till slightly wilted. Add reserved pineapple juice, water, salt and sugar. Cook till pineapple is wilted. Add chopped dates and stir carefully. Let it cool. Adjust seasoning if necessary (e.g. more salt or sugar or dash of lemon juice). Store in the fridge for a week or two.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Bread Activity for a Rainy Day: Poppy Seed Pinwheels

It rain all day today. On my day off!!!

I had to put away my running shoes and decided I may as well get some chores done. The best kind of baking between three loads of laundry is bread making. This time, I decided to do something creative and made these pretty pinwheels with poppy seed fillings. The dough reminded me of a lighter cousin of brioche and was perfectly paired with the poppy seed filling. The sweetness and richness of the filling was just right.

I am so glad it rained today.

Bread Rolls with Poppy Seed Filling

350g unbleached plain flour
1 ½ tsp instant yeast
25g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup milk, lukewarm
50g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

250g poppy seed filling (e.g. Schwartau Mohn-Back#)
50g ground almonds (or hazelnuts/ walnuts)

1 egg yolk and a little milk

# Lucky me, my German friend Eva "imported" it for me. You can purchase this product on-line: US, Canada, Dublin and UK.

- Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add all the liquid to the centre of the flour and mix to a soft dough. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oil bowl, cover with a clear film and leave in a warm place for 1-1 ½ hour, or until doubled in size.
- Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and knock it back (punch down) lightly then roll it out to form a rectangle. This is the part you can get creative. I rolled it quite thinly (17x11 inches).
- Mix the poppy seed filling with the ground almond. Using a spatula, spread the filling evenly on the dough. Trim the edges, if desired.
- Mark the centre of the short end of the dough. Carefully roll up the dough on one side of the long edge, stopping in the middle. Do the same with the other side. Gently press the two rolls together. Cut the bread to fit the pans you are using and gently lift them into the lightly buttered pans. Using a fork, prick the top of the dough. Cover with cling film and leave the rolls in a warm place for 30-60 mins or till it increases in size (they won’t double in size).
- Brush the top of the breads with a lightly beaten egg yolk mixed with a little milk.
- Place the breads in a preheated oven (190° C) for 20-30mins or until golden brown. Turn out onto a wire rack. Slice and serve warm with a cup of tea or coffee.

Dough recipe adapted from The Complete Book of Bread and Bread machines by C. Ingram & J. Shapter.

Rolling the dough to make the twin pinwheels

Golden brown and boring looking, but wait till you slice it...

Ooooh, moist poppy seed goodness!

Since I like mini-anything, I also made a mini version, and...

with the scraps, I kneaded the filling into the dough and got these mini rolls.