October 28, 2009

HHDH: Carciofi Aglio E Prezzemolo

  Hay Hay its Donna Day

Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is in season here. I quite like the green heads of them filling out vegetable boxes in our local growers market. Proudly to say that New Zealand grows our own artichoke, so you know. I also am planning to grow one or two in my own garden next year. I think it will be handy to have them fresh and available in Spring.

I have this old recipe (it was written by Alessandra Zecchini on a culinary magazine as far as I remember), to participate on Hay Hay It's Donna Hay, created by Barbara of Winos and Foodies, once facilitated by Bron of Bron Marshall, and now it is organized by Chez Us and this month is hosted by J of Have Fork Will Travel.

This dish is really good to be served as a starter with a group of people you know well. Sharing laughters over a plateful of artichokes by plucking each leaf is a sensuous affair. Garlic and parsley give great flavour on the basic taste of artichoke, with a generous amount and season, allow yourself licking the mixed flavour lingered on your fingers. A sip of wine perhaps a good idea. I don't drink, so I leave it up to you to choose a good wine to company your relaxing dinner.

Carciofi Aglio E Prezzemolo by Arfi Binsted 2009

In the recipe, Zecchini uses fresh garlic, I use roast garlic instead. I bought smoked garlic from the farmers' market the other day and I roasted it. The flavour is awesome! You can smell the lovely earthy with smoky flavour which you can almost taste it on the tip of your tongue. Mixing it with freshly chopped parsley and olive oil, it is a great journey with this sensational garlicky and herby artichokes.

So, here's what I do with the artichokes.

Carciofi Aglio E Prezzemolo-2 by Arfi Binsted 2009

Carciofi Aglio E Prezzemolo for Two
adapted from Alessandra Zecchini's recipe.

2 small artichoke heads
a handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped well
a good drizzle of olive oil
vegetable stock
3 cloves roast garlic, peeled and minced
1 fresh clove garlic, finely chopped with extra freshly chopped Italian parsley and mixed with a tablespoon olive oil, salt and black pepper

Use mezzaluna if you wish to chop herbs and garlic well.

Mezzaluna by Arfi Binsted 2009

Prepare a bowl of lemon juice and slice from 1-2 lemon(s), pour in cold water. Set aside. Prepare the artichokes. Cut the stems. Use a serrated knife, cut the tip of artichoke heads, just to reveal the heart. Make the parsley paste by mixing the freshly chopped Italian parsley, and minced roast garlic. Stuff this mixture generously in between the leaves and heart. Put these artichokes in a saucepan to fit enough, drizzle with olive oil, and pour in vegetable stock just to cover half-way. Simmer and cook until the artichokes are cooked. You can pluck the leaves easily when they are cooked.

Remove from the saucepan on the serving plate. Spoon the extra mixture of parsley, garlic and olive oil to serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

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October 18, 2009

On the Pink Side

It's October and it is the month of pink. Breast cancer awarenesses everywhere. Buy breast-cancer-labeled bras or knickers and everything in pink, you'll get one free. Special pink month. 

I used to bake for breast cancer awareness fund-raising in the town, but I have no idea why there's no more such an event to participate. I got a pleasure to bake while donate. Don't you?

Last year, we have my fellow foodie blogger, Bron Marshall, hosted Pink Paris Bre(a)sts for Pink October. This year, Susan Vriens of Dragon Musings hosts Virtual Girls Night In to support breast cancer awareness througout the world. Please, feel free to join in and let's be merry with lots of girly pinky winky goodies!

I am sending you all my girlfriends these little gem roses. Well, I call them chocolate buttons. These little gems used to be the main target when my mother asked me to accompany her shopping at a local market. Just like many other children who love sweets, I would eat the icing firsthand. Today, my children do the same. Some genetics, is it?

Anyway, these little sweets are easy to make and fuss-free (except you are not too keen on playing up with piping icing?). These can be a great idea for a special occasion, too:  colour  them differently, wrap in a cellophane bag, and pop in to a lunch box, or even a birthday gift bag for your guests to bring home. Help yourself with larger ideas. You'll find a lot of fun!

Chocolate Buttons2 by ab '09

Cokelat Glasur
Source: Tabloid Lezat. Edisi 141. September 2009.

I made a few changes on the recipe as I don't really like biscuits or cakes which taste overwhelmingly too sweet: using 275g plain flour; 80g caster sugar; and 50g cocoa powder. I also add 1 tsp vanilla extract. I just love the darkness of  chocolate flavour on chocolate biscuit. Next time, I am going to try to make these using dark cooking chocolate. See how it goes.

300g plain flour
1 egg
250g butter
150g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder

Beat butter, icing sugar and egg until soft (what I do is beat the butter and icing sugar until just going pale, and then add the loosely beaten egg). Take a little bit of biscuit dough (I use a teaspoon at a time), roll into marble-size balls, and put on the greased baking sheets. Flatten a bit, and then brush with egg white, sprinkle with desiccated coconut (I omit this step). Bake in a preheated oven to 170C for about 25 minutes or until cooked. Remove from the oven and cool. (I transfer them on a wire rack after leave them on the sheets for 5 minutes).

Chocolate Buttons by ab '09

175g icing sugar
30ml egg whites
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon pink food colouring (I just use a drop of red food colouring)

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl on a simmering water, add in the icing sugar a small amount at a time, keep beating until stiff. (What I do was making a hot sugar syrup and then pour it with a thin stream into the foamy egg whites while keep whisking, and then add more icing sugar to a thicker paste). Add in the lime juice and the food colouring. Mix well. The icing should be a form of paste rather than runny. Put this icing into a pastry bag with a star or rose noozle. Pipe on to each biscuit. Leave it dry and then keep them into an airtight container. Makes heaps!

Besides all the chocolate buttons with pink icing, I also made gluten-free version which suit me the best. I made vanilla biscuits topped with different coloured icing.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Buttons by ab '09

Gluten-Free Vanilla Buttons
Inspired by Tabloid Lezat's Coklat Glasur

350g gluten-free flour
125g unsalted butter
125g margarin
80g icing sugar, sifted
50g milk powder
100g almond powder
1 egg, loosely beaten
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Preheat the oven to 150C. Line the baking tray with baking paper. Put the butters in a mixing bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until just light. Fold in icing sugar and milk powder. Add in the loosely beaten egg. Add in the vanilla bean paste. Mix well. Add in the almond powder and gluten-free flour. Roll into tiny balls (otherwise, you're ending up with golf ball-size buttons rather than marble-size ones). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked and the biscuits are hard but are not brown. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays for 5 minutes before transfer them on wire racks to cool completely. Ice them. Use the recipe above to make the icing. I just play up with different colours. I use pandan paste for the green one. I also drop a few of orange essence on the yellow icing.

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October 08, 2009

Donna's Vanilla and Rosewater Madeleines

It's been a long time I haven't sent any entries for foodie events. Time just flies and the next thing I know, the day has just finished. I am trying this time to send you these little biscuits for High End Treats, as a theme of Monthly Mingle food event, pioneered by Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey. This month, my dear friend, Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is hosting.

I have never baked madeleines and this is my first. I chose Donna's Vanilla and Rosewater Madeleines as they look so simple to make and bake. These madeleines are iced with rosewater icing. I prefer to ice these little biscuits with lemon/lime/orange icing rather than rosewater. However, to taste the combination of vanilla and rosewater, I had to bake as instructed.

 Vanilla and Rosewater Madeleine2 by ab '09

 I like the lightness of these biscuits. The flavour of vanilla is really mild and it is such a pleasant fragrant in a texture of little cakes. However, rosewater is quite overwhelming to combine with vanilla, and if it's used a few more drops, its fragrance will take over. I may be not too familiar with this kind of scent in baking, but it's quite nice to flavour it, for a change.

When I made batch of madelienes the second time, I use vanilla biscuits, flavoured with orange zest and iced with orange icing. Taste much more familiar, really, not too-good-to-be-true-kind-of. They are also really good match with green tea with mint and slices of lime. High end treats, to be true.

Vanilla and Rosewater Madeleine by ab '09

Vanilla and Rosewater Madeleines
Source: Donna Hay Magazine, Spring, Issue 41. Oct/Nov 2008. Page 82.

2 eggs
75g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
75g plain flour (sifted with) 1 tsp baking powder
80g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease madeleine tin. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla, whisk to combine. Fold in sifted flour and baking powder, mix well. Add the melted butter, mix well. Spoon or pour the batter into a 12-hole madeleine tin. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked. Cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla and Rosewater Madeleine3 by ab '09

Rosewater Icing

320g icing sugar
80ml boiling water
1/2 tsp rosewater

Put all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Spoon the icing over the madeleines. Leave to set.
Makes 12.

Have a great afternoon tea, everyone!

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