Saturday, March 27, 2010

March Daring Bakers Challenge - Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.
This month we were challenged to make a dessert  consisting of several different  layers - pate` sablee, orange marmalade, a flavored whipped cream, fresh orange segments and a caramel and orange sauce. You build the dessert upside down and then unmold the dessert so that the bottom layer (the orange segments) becomes the top layer. Our host was specific in her requirements.

"Variations allowed:
• You can choose to serve the dessert ‘family-style’ and don’t have to make it in individual portions
• You can use your favorite “Pate Sablee” recipe if you have one, but it must be a pate sablee
• You can add any additional flavoring to your whipped cream
• You can play with different citrus in this dessert (grapefruit, blood orange, lemon) at any step in the recipe.
However, you must make the tart dough, the whipped cream, the caramel sauce, citrus segments and marmalade."  
I decided to make individual desserts which I set in my little ceramic souffle dishes because that way I could accomodate with the family's individual taste -you know the drill, one doesn't like this, one screws up his nose to that!  I made the challenge tian, a jaffa icecream tian and a chocolate malteser tian ( for the chocolate lover in the family!).
So I started with the orange marmalade. I normally make lots of cumquat marmalade which is more bitter than this orange marmalade so on toast I found it a bit sweet. However in the end combination of the tian the marmalade was perfect.

Next the pate sablee - it was easy and I did not find any problems. 

I made some chocolate ones, too.

I had some trouble with the sauce. The instructions were -place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. My sugar just burnt and turned into a bitter toffee.

At this point I decided to deviate from the recipe so I mixed half of the orange juice into the sugar and allowed that to foam and bubble. Once golden and caramelized in went the rest of the juice. Finally, success!

The oranges needed to be segmented and marinated in half of the prepared sauce.

The whipped cream was stabilised with gelatine and flavoured with a little of the orange marmalade. I lined the dishes with plastic wrap which I wouldn't do next time because I think it was unneccessary and the finished tian didn't look smooth. Then I arranged the orange segments in the bottom ( which when unturned would become the top), filled with whipped, flavoured cream and topped with a pate sablee disc spread with marmalade (marmalade side down).
Orange Tian - a deceptively light and refreshing dessert!
For the Icecream Jaffa Tian I used a chocolate pate sablee disk, good vanilla icecream with marmalade  folded through interlaced with chocolate ganache topped with the orange segments. Chocolate ganache and orange sauce accompanied the frozen dessert. A cool change!

Chocolate Malteser Tian - pate sablee disk spread with dulce di leche, chocolate flavoured whipped cream and the Malteser topping drizzled with chocolate ganache.  Indugent! 

 Again, a great Daring Bakers challenge where there was something to be learnt for everyone. I will use this recipe but probably not as individual tians but as a "family-style" dessert. This would be great made into a tart to bring along to the next barbeque or group function. Also other versions with berries, stone fruit or even mango would be delightful. You can find the recipe for the Orange Tian here.
Thank you Jennifer for hosting this challenge and for your constant support throughout the month to all the Daring Bakers. Be sure to check out Mary Mary Culinary, Oonsky, Babara Bakes and othe Daring Bakers for their special take on the Orange Tian.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Arancini means "little oranges" in Italian and these Sicilian treats are well loved and enjoyed by many. As is typical of Italian food each household has it's own particular version. This is my version adapted from the recipe given to me by my lovely Calabrian cousin. Her method of mixing part of the sauce through the rice is something I have never seen on another recipe and I believe it is the reason these arancini are the tastiest I have tried. 
Traditionally arancini are filled with ragu`, peas and mozzarella cheese. The ragu` can be your favourite or you can follow my recipe but keep in mind that the ragu` needs to be well made, with the best ingredients and very flavoursome. The ragu` is the make or break of your arancini and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  
These arancini are so popular in my family I am often requested to make them. I love the look of delight when my children follow their nose to the kitchen to investigate what I am cooking and discover their favourite is on the menu. This is also a great recipe to get your children involved in.
Now, first allow yourself at least three or even four hours to prepare this recipe because the rice really needs to cool down and the ragu` should be simmered long and slow. The ragu` can be prepared the day before to make it easier.
Begin with the ragu`. I always make a big batch and freeze the extra for a quick pasta meal.

Marcellina's Ragu`

1/3 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped or minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
500g beef mince
500g pork mince
200 bacon
1/2 cup red wine
1.5 litres  tomato passata
800g tinned peeled tomato
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano ( or 2 tablespoons dried oregano )
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil ( don't substitute dried - it really has no flavour)
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves ( or 1 or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary) 
3 teaspoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup concentrated chicken stock (or 2 teaspoons chicken stock powder plus 1 cup water)
1 cup concentrated beef stock (or 2 teaspoons beef stock powder plus 1 cup water)
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

To finish off:
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen peas

Heat the oil and fry off the onion and garlic. Once golden add the bacon followed by the minces. Stir and fry to brown, breaking up the meat well. Add the remaining ingredients along with a cup full of water. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer slowly for 2 hours. Now, what I do is at this point is take 4 good cups of the ragu` and transfer this to a smaller pan with 1/2 cup peas. The remainder can be cooled and frozen for later use. The portion that has been removed is reduced for about 1/2 hour until it is thickened.Don't forget to taste as you go and adjust the seasoning. This I put into a coarse sieve over a small bowl to collect the excess sauce. You should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid flavoursome sauce to add to your cooked rice.

Now to cook the rice. Are you still with me? Good, keep up, it's worth it!

Take 750g arborio rice and wash well and drain. In a large saucepan bring to boil 4 1/2 cups good chicken stock  add the washed rice, stir and bring back to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to the lowest cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes. Don't be tempted to lift the lid. After the cooking time turn the heat off. Don't lift the lid! Let the rice sit for a further 10 minutes. After this time you should have perfectly cooked moist rice that clings together well. I cook on my largest gas ring then set the flame on the lowest  and also use a flame diffuser. Now tip your rice into a large flat baking dish  fold through 45g butter then leave to cool. Once at room temperature add two beaten eggs, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese and the sauce
strained off from your ragu`. Mix well.

It should look a bit like this.

You'll need 300g good mozzarella cheese cut into large cubes.


Now for the the messy bit and lots of fun. So, assemble all the components required and call the other members of your household in to join the fun.

Have ready rice, meat and cheese. Then beat 2 eggs with 1/2 cup milk in a shallow bowl and place lots of dried breadcrumbs onto a flat plate and you are ready to begin.

Wet your hands - this will make moulding the arancini easier. Take about a tablespoon of rice flatten the middle in the palm of your hand. Add a teaspoonful of meat and cube of cheese.

Add a little more rice on top while moulding the edges of rice around the filling. Press well together making sure no filling shows. Add more rice if necessary. With this quantity of rice you should get 26 or 27 arancini. Too many? Never too many arancini because they are delicious the next day heated slowly in the oven.

Pass it on down the assembly line ( hopefully you have a helper) dip the rice ball into the beaten egg mixture then roll in breadcrumbs pressing well.

Refrigerate your arancini for about 30 minutes.  Now, your almost finished. Stay with me!

Heat some light olive oil in pan to shallow fry as I do. You can deep fry if that's what you prefer. 

All that is left to do now is to bring them to the table and wait for the oooh's and aaah's as your family and friends tuck into the most flavoursome arancini anyone has ever tried!
I know you will enjoy them!  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Slice

When I was young there was a television advertisement that depicted a beautiful lady dressed in a flowing dress swinging on a tree swing. Flowers flowed abundantly and the music was dreamy and joyful. I wanted what she had that made her life so wonderful and she so attractive and peaceful! You may ask what was being advertised? Yes, all this was for the well known chocolate bar Cherry Ripe by Cadbury. So, I surmised, Cherry Ripe bars would delivered to me the perfect life. I've grown up to realise that Cherry Ripe bars cannot solve all the problems of life but they do come close! Really!

So, it stands to reason that this is one of my favourite slices. Crispy base, sweet coconut and cherry filling top with dark chocolate. I found this recipe on the Australian Women Weekly site and have adapted it slightly. Pop a couple into your children's lunchbox and they will be the envy of their class mates. 

 Chocolate Cherry Slice

1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
125g butter, melted
100g crush plain or chocolate flavoured biscuits

1 1/2 cup dessiccated coconut
 395g tin condensed milk
200g glace cherries, chopped
few drops of pink food colour, optional

150g dark chocolate
30g copha or vegetable shortening

Preheat over 180C. Line a 20cm x 30cm baking pan.
Mix ingredients for base and press into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

For the filling:
Mix together coconut, condensed milk, cherries and food colour if using  spread evenly over base and return to oven for a further 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate and copha and spread over cooled slice.
Cut into square when the chocolate is set.

Makes 30 pieces depending on how big you cut the squares.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Espresso Almond Biscotti

Biscotti means twice baked resulting in a crisp biscuit or cookie orginating from Italy. These biscotti are not your traditional hard biscotti that you need to dunk in a good espresso or a glass of spumante to eat. These biscotti are delicious eaten in the traditional way and stay firm when dunked into your espresso but are tender enough to enjoy on their own. I have been making these biscotti in one form or another since the recipe was published in the Australian Family Circle magazine in the winter of 2008. The original recipe contained hazelnuts, only white chocolate and no coconut and made in this way these biscotti really are lovely but of course, the recipe is varied according to what I have in the pantry and what I feel like eating - in this case almonds and coconut. They are so simple and have a fantastic intense coffee flavour.

Simple to make and form into logs for the first baking. 

Cut into 1cm thick slices and back into the oven for the second baking.

Espresso and Roasted Almond Biscotti

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup coffee beans
2 1/3 cups plain flour
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup roasted slivered almonds
50g dark chocolate, chopped
50g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat over to 180C and line a large oven tray with baking paper.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until pale. Add eggs one at a time.  
Put the coffee beans into food processor and process for 2 minutes until finel chopped. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Pulse until well blended.
Stir flour into butter mixture along with coconut, almonds and chocolates and mix until well combined.
Knead lightly and form into two logs about 25cm long on the baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely - about 1 hour.
Reheat the oven to 150C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Using a serrated knife cut logs into 1cm slices and arrange cut side down on baking trays.
 Bake for 15 minutes until firm to touch. Cool on a wire rack.