Sunday, 29 November 2009

Date Chocolate Loaf w/ Pistachio Crumble

This recipe is great. The cake comes out moist, and I love dates, especially Medjool ones. This recipe was inspired by Ottolenghi's Sticky Chocolate Loaf, which uses prunes and doesn't have a crumble. For this recipe, I used a financier pan and a regular loaf pan.

1 Pistachio Crumble Recipe

200g dried dates, pitted
100ml Armagnac or Cognac, heated so it's almost boiling
100ml Boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
60ml Sour Cream or Yogurt
60ml Sunflower Oil
1 free-range egg
20g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
40ml treacle or maple syrup
115g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
15g cocoa powder
150g dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 170C. Butter 2 small (500g) loaf pans.

Place half the dates in one bowl, half in another. Sprinkle half teaspoon into each bowl, then toss. Pour the boiling water in one bowl, the hot Armagnac in the other, and let it sit for a few minutes so that the dates soften.
Remove dates and blend with oil and sour cream till of mayonnaise consistency.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl.

Transfer date mixture to bowl, add 1 Tablespoon of the Armagnac, egg, sugars, treacle and mix with whisk. Fold in dry ingredients, then add chopped chocolate.

Pour into pans, top with Pistachio crumble and bake in oven for 45 minutes until it's cooked and no longer wet when you test it. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

Crumble of the Pistachio Variety

Pistachio Crumble Topping

I topped my loaf with this crumble. Crumble tastes great sprinkled on savory or sweet loaves, baked pies, even in baked dishes like vegetable gratin. This recipe makes just enough for the 1 date choc loaf recipe, but it's great to make a full recipe's worth and freeze, as it keeps for ages.

To make 1 full recipe for plain crumble, follow recipe but use 100g caster, 200g cold unsalted butter, cubed, and 300g flour, omitting nuts. Store in plastic container in freezer for months.

I picked pistachios to go with the date theme. I bet Rafsanjani would like this loaf (his family hails from Rafsanjan, which dominates the pistachio industry in Iran and around the world).

25g caster sugar
50g butter, unsalted, cold and cubed
75g flour
20g toasted pistachio, grounded (or use hazelnut/almond/macadamia/cashew/pecan)

Mix all ingredients in bowl with hands until crumbly without lumps. Transfer to contained and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Rack of Lamb with Rosemary, Anchovies and Pistachio

I think I've been rolling out everything and anything Middle Eastern because Auntie Shahla's arriving tomorrow morning! The pictures don't do this recipe justice, and I apologize for that. This was heavenly.

1 rack of lamb, about 8-10 pieces, fat removed and sliced into 2-3 pieces
3 anchovies, washed and chopped
4 sprigs of rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
15g pistachio, toasted and grounded
1/2 C white wine
salt and pepper
Greek Yogurt for serving

Mix ingredients and marinade lamb for at least 1 hour, preferably over night.

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Heat oil in an oven-proof pan, then brown lamb pieces for about 5 minutes until nicely seared. Add wine into pan, the place in oven to roast.

Place lamb in over for 15 minutes for medium rare or longer depending on size desired doneness. Let sit for at 5-10 minutes before eating, as it will continue to cook. Serve with yogurt.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot soup makes me feel healthier. It's probably a placebo effect, but I swear my eyesight clears up the day after.

4 slices of pancetta or bacon, cubed into small bits
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 white wine
1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2"" pieces
Juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
7 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably home made, simmering
Fresh Chives or Parsley

Fry pancetta or bacon bits till crispy, then remove and soak oil with paper towels.

Melt butter in large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic; saute for 15-20 minutes. Then add carrots and cook for 5 minutes

Add the stock, wine, orange juice and half the pancetta. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat until the carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes

Puree the soup in a blender or processor (fitted with steel blade). Season with coriander, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives or parsley and pancetta bits. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

Grilled Flank with Soy Ginger Marinade

I did a chinese-style marinade to bring over to Arthur's. He has a sick, heavy duty grill, pretty similar to ours in Vancouver. The recipe is quick and easy, and the Chinese wine seals the flavour.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup Chinese Wine (Shaoxing is what I used, but you can also use Rice Wine etc.)
30g fresh ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili flakes
1-2 pieces of flank steak
3 pieces of short rubs, cut long and thin with bones

Mix marinade together. Make slits in flank steak, then toss both meats (or just one if using one type) with marinade and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

For flank steak, grill for 6 minutes per side, or longer until desired doneness. For short ribs, grill for 3-4 minutes per side, as it is thinner. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Pappardelle in Arrabiata Sauce with King Prawns flambéed in Grand Marnier

In a recent review, I read that Justin Quek, who heads Whisk at the Mira, flambés his prawns with Grand Marnier, so my inspiration for this dish belongs to him. I made a sweet paprika marinade, then tossed the seared prawns in homemade pasta w/ a simple arrabiata sauce.

The prawns are absolutely delicious, and go well on their own as an appetizer, too. Make sure you get only the freshest ones that are plump and juicy.

Fresh Pappardelle Arrabiata w/ King Prawns flambeed in Grand Marnier

4 King Prawns, (I used Japanese ones)

4 tablespoons Oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons spanish paprika (sweet kind, if not use regular paprika)
1-2 dried chilli, minced
salt and pepper

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Wash prawns, then toss in marinade and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a pan with oil and butter on high heat. When smoking, add prawns and marinade into pan and lower heat slightly to medium-high. Sear for 5 minutes till it's red, then flip over and sear for another 5 minutes or more until cooked. If my prawns are large, I cover it for the 5 minutes so that the steam helps to cook it faster without the garlic-marinade burning.

When cooked, remove pan from burner, pour in Grand Marnier and return to burner. Using lighter, ignite alcohol in pan and let it burn, baby burn! Once the flame has gone out, remove shrimp and sauce onto plate and cover to keep warm.

Arrabiatta Sauce:

2 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 dried chillies, minced
1 large can crushed Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons dried thyme
3 tablespoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 Fresh Pappardelle Recipe, or 1 box pappardelle
Handful of Fresh Italian Parsley

In a clean pan, saute garlic and chillies in olive oil. When it's brown, add crushed tomato, herbs and bay leave. Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 minutes but the longer, the better. While the prawns are marinating you should make this sauce and let it simmer on the burner.

To assemble:

In boiling pot of water well salted, cook pappardelle. With fresh pasta, it only takes a few minutes to cook so watch it, stirring frequently.

When pasta is done, drain, then pour into arrabiata sauce. Toss, then add prawns with juice/sauce. Toss, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

*** For a nicer presentation, just pour in the sauce from prawns into pasta and toss, then plate pasta in bowls with a prawn perched on top, and sprinkles with chopped parsley .

Polly wants Fresh Pasta

So here's a recipe with video demonstrations. I found our old pasta machine a few months back. It had been sitting in Stephanie's flat, accumulating dust and rust, so I brought it back to HK, cleaned it up and put it back to work.

Making Fresh Pasta:

2 cups unbleached flour
3 eggs

Pour the flour onto a working surface, shape it into a mound and make a well in the middle.

Crack 3 eggs into the well, then whisk eggs for 2 minutes to mix well.

As you stir, slowly incorporate the flour, shaving off flour from the side of the well, until it's come together into a dough.

Once your dough forms, stick your finger into it. If your finger comes in wet, you need to knead your dough.

To knead dough, flour work surface and your hands. Press the bottom of your palm into the dough, then fold the dough over and turn 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat, folding and turning 90 degree each time before kneading. After about 10 minutes, the dough will come together. Use finger test to make sure the dough isn't sticky.
Let the dough sit for an hour.

Once you're reading to roll it out, slice it into 4 pieces. Take one piece, flatten it, fold it in 3 and feed through the machine at it's widest dial. Once it comes out, fold it in 3 and turn it 90 degree before feeding it back into the machine. Repeat 2 or 3 more times, folding and turning each time until it is smooth and doesn't have holes.

Turn the dial to the next , and repeat steps until you've finished feeding the dough several times through every dial. You will have wide, gossamer sheets.
Dry sheets on clean towels till its dry enough that it won't stick together. Then cut into whatever shapes or types of pasta you want to serve that meal.