Thursday, 16 October 2014

Merryn's Menu: Easy Red Velvet Cake

Merryn's Menu: Easy Red Velvet Cake: A few years ago, I think between Children No 2 and 3 our dear friend came to have Christmas Eve dinner with us.  Her husband was working and she came over for an Indian feast.  Little did I know she would have a food reaction to the red food colouring I used.

Merryn's Menu: Quick Baked Strawberries

Merryn's Menu: Quick Baked Strawberries: We have a big strawberry patch, in fact we have two patches.  Two is usually better than one. This past month saw me lifting out the strawberries to weed and renew them.  There were sufficient to bake with sugar, lemon zest and verjuice.  Delicious.

Quick Baked Strawberries

We have a big strawberry patch, in fact we have two patches.  Two is usually better than one.
This past month saw me lifting out the strawberry plants and extracting weeds from their roots.
Hubby topped up the bed with compost and dirt and laid new straw on top of the bed.
Then the strawberry plants were replaced into the rejuvenated bed and now they are flourishing.

Look at these lovely plump strawberries.
The gorgeous hippeastrums were gifted from a dear, sweet friend. 

These are so simple to bake.   I popped in a bowl full while my Red Velvet Cake was cooking.
This recipe came from an old, dear Italian friend who also loves her garden produce.

Baked Strawberries

2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup castor sugar
grated zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons verjuice

Wash and hull strawberries then place into an oven proof bowl.
Sprinkle over the sugar and lemon zest then splash with the verjuice.
Cover with alfoil and bake at 170 celsius for 15 minutes, until soft.   

Isn't it amazing how we learn and offer so many good food ideas with our friends.

Bon appetito, enjoy Merryn.

Easy Red Velvet Cake

A few years ago, I think between Children No 2 and 3 our dear friend came to have Christmas Eve dinner with us.  Her husband was working and no one wants to be alone on Christmas Eve.
I was heavily into cooking Indian food at the time (I still adore Indian food - the hotter, the better).
We had a wonderful night and a fantastic dinner with six courses of gorgeous Indian food.
Around 10.30pm our friend bade us goodnight with kisses and warm Christmas wishes.

She called on the 30th December to wish my husband a happy birthday and told us that when 
she arrived home on Christmas Eve her body was nearly red all over with a rash.
So, our dear friend spent Christmas in a hospital bed.

What did you put in the food that caused a food allergy? she wanted to know.
I cooked with all of the usual ingredients, but added red food colouring to the Tandoori marinade.

Sine then, I have been very cautious about using red food colouring, 
hence my red velvet cake is not as red as some I have seen.
The red colouring is purely colouring, not flavouring so therefore entirely optional.

This dear friend, is still a dear friend I am pleased to say.
So tell me, have you ever poisoned a friend with your cooking?

Red Velvet Cake

2 free range eggs
1 1/4 cups castor sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (250ml) rice bran oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (150ml) milk with 1 tablespoon white vinegar added to it
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 2/3 cups plain flour
2 small tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon red food colouring

Preheat oven to 170 celsius.
Whisk eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl.  While whisking pour in the oil in a steady stream and continue whisking until well combined.  
Pour the cider vinegar into the milk and add the sifted bicarbonate of soda.
Mix the sifted cocoa with the flour.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir gently until mixed through.  Add half of the milk mixture and stir through.
Than another 1/3 of the flour, mix, then the rest of the milk and finally gently stir through the remaining flour mixture.  Mix until well combined.  Add the desired amount of food colouring.
Pour into a round 20cm paper lined and greased baking pan.
Place on middle shelf of oven and bake for 45 minutes.  

I iced mine with a simple icing of 2 cups icing sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons milk.
Heat butter and milk together in a small bowl in the microwave, then add the icing sugar until well mixed.    Purely because my family do not like butter cream or the heavier icings.

Served here with a lovely, plump baked strawberry.

Bon appetito, enjoy Merryn.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Eggplant and Tomato Galette

I had to smile this morning when opening the mail. 
 My Mother is in New Zealand and sent me this card.

The information is not very detailed but I know she is in Auckland and she is well,
plus she is thinking about us.
Minimal information
that is quite endearing.
Mum is not very 
electronically minded
but she has a heart of gold.

It confirms the theory that less is more,
much like this simple Eggplant Galette.
technically simple yet full of warmth.

This is one of those those simple, straightforward recipes where you put it together, 
place it in the oven then find 40 minutes later, lunch is served.

There are variations to this recipe but I love that the eggplant can be sliced and added, stress free.
This recipe is loosely based on one I found here tomato and eggplant galette.

Galette Pastry

1 1/2 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup ice cold water

Place flour, salt and butter into food processor and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Then add the water in a slow drizzle until it comes together as a ball.  You may need to add another tablespoon of water.  When ball stage is reached, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Eggplant Filling

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into 0.5cm round slices
3 large tomatoes, cut into 0.5cm slices
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 extra tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 egg yolk mixed with 3 tablespoons milk for an egg wash

Preheat oven to 180 celsius.  
On a floured surface roll dough to a 35cm circle.  Place dough onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.   Brush the extra virgin olive oil over pastry, leaving a 5cm border at the edge untouched. 
Distribute the mozzarella and 1/3 cup of the fresh parmesan cheese over the base, leaving the 5cm border bare.  
Place a row of eggplant slices on top of the cheese, slightly overlapping them.  Add a row of tomatoes on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little basil.
Place one more row of eggplant slices on top with another row of tomatoes on top of the eggplant. Season with more salt and pepper and the remaining basil.  Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.
Fold up sides to make an open pie.  
Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese, including onto the pastry.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until lightly golden and the vegetables are soft.

Roll the dough and place cheese then
vegetables on top, leaving a 5cm  border.

Lift up sides of pasty, brush with egg wash and sprinkle all over with fresh parmesan cheese.

The side view when sliced.

I will bake this for lunch for my parents when my mother returns from NZ.
Bon appetito, enjoy, Merryn.