Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Linzer Biscuits

Back to baking again and this time something a little different.  These are the first biscuits I've made using a walnut dough.  

You may have heard of Linzer Torte?  Considered to be the oldest cake in the world, the Linzer Torte was named after the city of Linz in Austria.  It's a pastry made with ground nuts and filled with blackcurrant preserve.  These are the biscuit version of the Linzer Torte.  So instead of a pastry base, you cut out biscuit shapes, bake them and sandwich them with a preserve.  I wonder what's Austrian for hey presto?

I really liked the taste and texture of the biscuits - both crisp and crumbly and just enough of a nutty taste without overpowering. 

They were easy and quick to make and the dough rolled out nicely but if it gets too warm to handle, pop it back in the fridge for a few minutes.   

Next time I'd make them a little thicker and perhaps use next cookie cutter size up for a more substantial biscuit.

As I've noted in the recipe below, I didn't have a small enough cutter for the inner circle so I used an apple corer (!) - which is why the circles are a bit unshapely.

The recipe here uses walnuts, but you can substitute almonds or hazelnuts.  Not having blackcurrant preserve, I used raspberry.

I'm sharing these with the lovely Mairi at Toast who is hosting this month's Sweet New Zealand.

Linzer Biscuits

2/3 cup (100g) standard flour
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (180g) walnuts, finely chopped
1 hard-boiled egg yolk only, crumbled
90g (3 oz) cold butter, diced
1 egg yolk

jam to fill biscuits (I used raspberry jam)
icing sugar

Combine the flour, sugar, walnuts and hard-boiled egg in a bowl.  Add butter and rub in with your fingertips until combined.

Stir in the egg yolk until the dough comes together.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth.

Cut dough in half and roll each portion between sheets of baking paper to 3mm (1/8 inch) thick.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes (leave the baking paper between the sheets).

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C/325 degrees F.  Grease two oven trays and line with baking paper.

Cut circles or fluted rounds from the first portion of the dough and place on the trays about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart.  Cut the same circles from the second half of the dough and then cut out a 2.5cm (1 inch) circle or fluted round from the centre of each circle.  (I used an apple corer to do this as I didn't have a small enough cutter.)

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and cool on the trays.  

Sandwich the biscuits with jam and dust the tops with icing sugar.

The biscuits (without the jam) can be be kept in an airtight container for about a week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Salmon Quiche

I have this theory that Jamie Oliver is on speed which is why he can claim 15 or 30 minute meals that, in my reality anyway, take far longer. I just can’t get the hang of how he sets out the recipes, so I deconstruct and put it all back together again, but differently.  In spite of the time, I find his recipes extremely tasty and I’ve been using them a lot lately but when I really want something quick this recipe is one I use again and again.

It’s one of those self-crusting tarts that is quick, easy to throw together and open to all sorts of variations - which is always a good thing.  Instead of salmon, substitute cooked chicken or chopped ham or roasted vegetables. Lately I’ve been using Regal salmon which makes for a richer (and more expensive) tart but tinned salmon or tuna will do just fine.

I like to drizzle a teensy drop of balsamic vinegar or vincotto on each tomato (I don’t know why, I just do), then finish it off with a good handful of chopped herbs - coriander, Italian parsley and basil or a little dill are good. 

Serve with pickled pears or chutney and a green salad or vegetable dish such as the sweet stem broccoli recipe below.

Salmon Quiche

Serves 3-4

1 onion                                              
3 eggs                                                
50g/¼ cup melted butter               
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
½ cup self-raising flour
1 tin 210g red salmon, drained or 200g Regal wood roasted salmon, skin removed
2 tomatoes, sliced or several cherry tomatoes halved
fresh herbs, e.g. basil, Italian parsley or coriander

Heat oven to 180°C.  Grease a flan tin or dish.

Chop onion finely in a food processor.  Add the eggs, cheese, milk and salt and pepper and whizz to combine.

Pour the melted butter and self-raising flour into the mix and whizz briefly to combine.   Pour into the greased flan dish.

Break small chunks of salmon and place evenly around the dish.  Arrange tomato slices or halved tomatoes across the top (and if you want, dot some vincotto or balsamic vinegar on each tomato).  Sprinkle with herbs.

Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes in the oven.

Sweet Stem Broccoli with Zesty Lemon

For me, the hardest thing about broccoli isn’t the spelling of it (and judging by the grocer’s blackboards, I’m not the only one), but the eating.  Apart from a few odd pieces here and there (drowned in cheese sauce or disguised in Asian stir fries), I have avoided broccoli.  So it was nice to discover a younger, sweeter broccoli that I actually liked eating. Bellaverde Sweet Stem Broccoli is from The Fresh Grower and is local (very local to me) – just strange that I always seem to find it in city supermarkets rather than here.  Maybe I could find a field nearby growing it?

There was a nice recipe on the pack so I’m proud to give you the one (and maybe only?) broccoli recipe on this blog.

Sweet Stem Broccoli with Zesty Lemon

1 pack (250g) Sweet Stem Broccoli (or use ordinary broccoli but cook for longer)
2 tbsp butter
½ lemon zested
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Sesame seeds or pinenuts

Blanch the broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of iced water.

Melt the butter in a pan big enough to hold the stems flat in one layer.  Add the lemon zest (reserve a little to serve) and garlic and stir.

Drain the broccoli and add to the pan.  Stir to coat the broccoli and heat for 2-3 minutes (until heated through).

Toss the broccoli with ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, sesame seeds or pinenuts and sprinkle the remainder of the lemon zest on top.