Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pear, Rocket and Spinach Salad with Maple Dressing

For a farewell dinner with the Shanas family last week, I made this salad as our contribution to a fabulous meal prepared by Jill. The standout dish of the night was her fabulous Pomegranate Chicken. It was absolutely delightful - succulent braised chicken that melted in the mouth, braised in a subtle sweet sauce.  The Pear, Rocket and Spinach salad was a well matched side dish with the chicken.  This salad would also be a great match with duck.  

I tripled the quantities for a group of 12, the quantity listed below will serve 4.

150g baby spinach leaves
50g wild rocket leaves
2 firm Corella pears
150g soft creamy blue cheese, crumbled

5 tblsp olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tblsp maple syrup
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Place baby spinach and rocket in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Arrange on flat serving platter.  Halve pears lengthways and cut lengthways into thin slices.  Arrange pears over spinach and rocket, then crumble blue cheese over spinach and rocket.

Heat 1 tblsp oil in small non stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add walnuts and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes or until toasted.  Remove from heat and add remaining oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.  Drizzle warm dressing and walnuts over salad to serve.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Miss Dove's Apple Pie

This Apple Pie is an old family favourite, made by Mum usually to finish off a roast dinner.  It was a favourite of Dad's (Col Skelton) and he loved it served with vanilla ice cream.  Mum wrote all her favourite old recipes in a handwritten recipe journal, but sadly, it has gone missing.  Luckily between us we have been able to resurrect a number of her recipes through memory.  Many of the recipes I recall were in imperial measurements, thanks to Robs for doing the conversions on this one.  This pie is a bit of work to make but well worth the effort.

Preheat Oven to 170c.

3/4 cup soft butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
approximately 1 cup milk (add as needed)
1 lightly beaten egg
3 cups self raising flour - sifted
Scraped vanilla bean
Pinch of salt

6 large granny smith apples - peeled and sliced
9 whole cloves
Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer.
By hand - add egg and vanilla bean seeds.
Mix in flour and salt alternately with the milk (you may not need all the milk) until the pastry forms a ball.
Minimum handling of the pastry at this stage will give it a finer texture.
Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate (best for 30 minutes) while making the apple filling.

Grease a deep ovenproof dish with butter.
Place sliced apples, sugar, water, lemon juice and cloves into a medium saucepan and cook with lid on for approx 10 minutes or until apples are softened.
Take off stove and leave to cool.
When cooled, cut pastry into thirds, using 2/3 for the base and 1/3 for the top.
Roll 2 circles, one to fit the base and come up to the top of the dish, and one to fit and cover the top of the pie.  Make sure you have approximately a 3cm overhang of pastry around the top edge to allow for shrinkage.
Place the larger pastry circle into the greased oven dish lining the base and sides, pushing to fit.
Fill the pie dish with the cooled apple mixture
Place the smaller pastry circle over the apples allowing for an even overhang at the sides.
Using a sharp knife trim the excess pastry off making sure you allow for shrinkage.
Press around the edges to seal with your finger or with the handle of a wooden spoon.
Lightly glaze the pastry top with milk using a pastry brush and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar
Cut some slits in the top to allow the steam to escape
Cook in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moeder's Biscuits

These shortbread style biscuits are affectionately known in my family as Moeder's Biscuits.  For me, I associate them with a warm Dutch farmhouse kitchen and my Grandmother's (Moeder)  blue chenille dressing gown.  My sister and I would eat them still warm from the oven, cooked by Moeder using her farm churned butter milked from my Grandfather's cows.  (Sorry, Suz you weren't born then!)   Over the years my mother also made these biscuits and they filled many hungry tummy's after school.

4 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
285 g soft butter

Cream butter and sugar till light and creamy
Add flour and beat gently till combined
Roll into large teaspoon size balls and place on oven tray
Use a fork dipped in sugar and press down to flatten balls
Bake at 177c for about 20 minutes or lightly golden

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Figs

March is my favourite month as have access to fabulous fresh figs. Just wanted to share a great dessert we had last week. For those who know how to make Tarte Tatin and who have a passion for fresh figs, as I do, replace the apples for 12 fresh figs standing upright in the pan, then cover with the puff pastry.

Instead of finishing with cream I used Mascarpone Cheese flavoured with an aged Balsamic (made by our friend Garry). Then for added crunch, crumbled Amaretti biscuits through the cheese, also giving it a sweetness and subtle almond flavour that marries so well with figs.

This dessert was so decadent and delicious - hot, juicy sweet figs that produced a rose petal fragrance. Then to complete the picture, I topped the mascarpone with Persian fairy floss (from sister in law Jill) - giving the dessert a Middle Eastern touch.

The flavours in this dessert would make a great finish to a middle eastern style dinner party.