Crema Catalana Baked Apples
I was reading the Indulgence section of The Dominion Post when a recipe for Crema Catalana Baked Apples caught my eye. I’d just been wondering what to do with the Granny Smith Apples sitting in our fruit bowl!
The baked apples were nice, pretty much what you’d expect from baked apples but the Cream Catalana (Spanish Custard) made me roll back my eyes in delight.
I think next time I’ll make twice as much custard and skip the apples altogether : -)
Crema Catalana Baked Apples
- 10g (2 tsp) butter (softened)
- 4 medium-sized Granny Smith apples
- 250ml (1 cup) of water
- 100g (1/2 cup) of sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- Cinnamon quill
- Recipe Crema Catalana (below)
- 4 tsp sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease ovenproof gratin dish generously with butter.
Preparing the Apples
Core apples, being careful not to cut through the bottoms. You could use an apple corer, or a small paring knife to carve out a cavity in the centre of the apples about 1cm – 2cm in diameter, and as close to the bottom as you can without piercing it. If necessary cut a tiny sliver of apple from the base to ensure the apple will sit flat.
Place apples in gratin, bottom down.
Preparing the Cooking Liquid
In a small pot set over a low heat, place water, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon quill and stir to dissolve. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour in and over apples. Leave cinnamon quill and zest in the gratin with the apples.
Baking the Apples
Place gratin in the oven and bake uncovered, basting occasionally, for 25-35 minutes till apples are tender and the skin just begins to break. Baking time will depend on the size and ripeness of the apples.
Prepare Crema Catalana (below) while waiting for the apples to cook.
Remove from oven and leave to sit for about 10 minutes. Tip apples to pour off syrup from the apple cavities into the gratin.
Fill cavity with Crema Catalana (below). Sprinkle with second measure of sugar and, using a chefs torch, brulee till dark brown, or place gratin under a very hot grill till sugar has turned dark brown.
Place an apple in each serving plate, drizzle with syrup and accompany with any remaining Crema Catalana.
And this is what a slightly overcooked apple looks like. Ooops.
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 1tbsp + 2 tsp) cream
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 1tbsp + 2tsp) milk
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- Zest of one lemon
- 3 egg yolks
- 66g (1/3 cup) sugar
In a medium, heavy-based saucepan set over a medium heat, place the cream, milk, cinnamon quill and lemon zest and heat to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and cool.
Place egg yolk in a bowl and lightly whisk till just combined, but not frothy or foamy. Add sugar and combine. Pour cooled cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir to combine, aiming, once again, not to create froth or foam.
Wash the cream saucepan and pour the cream/egg mixture into the saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon till custard thickens and evenly coats the back of the spoon. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the cinnamon quill, zest and remaining particles of egg white.
Allow to cool slightly before pouring into the apples.
Weekend Tea and Scones
Tea and Scones on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is a great relaxed way to hang out with friends. I love date scones.
Unfortunately dates seem to be one of those fruit that many people dislike. To cover my bases I make a double batch. One with dates, one with currants.
I use the standard Edmonds scone recipe and just add a cup of dates or currants (some recipes suggest adding cinnamon and brown sugar as well but I don’t think it adds anything to the scones).
Here’s the full scone recipe for those without an Edmonds handy.
- 3 cups of flour
- 6 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 75g butter
- 1 to 1.5 cups milk, approximately
- extra milk
- 1 cup of chopped dates or currants
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add butter (chopped) and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add fruit. Add milk and mix quickly with a knife until it forms a soft dough. Knead a few times. Lightly dust work surface with flour. Roll out dough on to this. I used a glass (floured rim) to cut out scones. Alternatively cut into 12 even sized pieces. Put on baking tray with even sized spaces between the scones. Brush the tops of scones with milk. Bake at 220C for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Have a great weekend.
Greek Influenced Scallop Salad with Lemon Dressing.
This is a very quick and tasty light meal. I was worried that the olives would overwhelm the dish so I only put a few in. It ended up working well. It had the tartness of the olives, the saltiness of the feta and the sourness of the lemon dressing. If you don’t like olives I suspect capers would be a nice alternative.
- Small Spinach Leaves
- Extra Light Olive Oil or Canola Oil
Chop feta, olives, avocado and add to a bowl with the spinach leaves.
Heat the oil in pan to a high temperature. Add garlic and scallops. Don’t cook the scallops too long, as soon as they loose their translucency and turn opaque they’re done. I normally cook until lightly seared on each side, turning once (around 5 mintues cooking).
Once the scallops are cooked place on top of the salad. Quickly add some lemon to the remaining oil and garlic, stir for 20 seconds then remove from heat. Pour a little on to the salad as a dressing.
This Orange Mousse recipe is one of my favourites. Thomas however took this dessert one step further by serving the mousse in brandy snap baskets and topping them with cream and grapes. I am a fan, Mmmmmmm, yes I am.
- 125g Sweet Dark Chocolate
- 4 Eggs – Separated
- Finely grated Zest of 1 orange (optional)
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (Don’t get any water in the chocolate!). Leave to cool a little.
- Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time. Fold in the orange zest.
- Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, fold them into the chocolate.
- Put the chocolate mix into little pots/bowls, place in fridge and let them set, should take an hour or two.
Nice serving size for two people.*
Best of all it’s very easy to make.
*Maybe I was feeling a bit greedy/hungry the first time I made this. As Thomas suggests in his comment it works for 4 or 5 in the brandy baskets.
With my recent posts about pizza and calzone I thought now would be a good time to recommend my favourite brand of basil pesto. I sampled *quite a few* before trying Genoese.
I knew it was a good mix the first time I opened it and smelt it. It smells so good, I went around work encouraging people to sniff it. It didn’t occur to me that that might be slightly odd till after. The taste doesn’t disappoint.
If you have favourite brands for sauces, pestos, mustards etc please let me know and I’ll try them out. I’m particularly after a good provider of sour gherkins (sugar not in the top of the ingredient list! Grr!)
This calzone was the second course for a dinner we hosted last week. Thomas had a day off work so he did all the cooking!
The calzone was made and assembled before-hand so all we had to do was pop it in the oven, which meant no running in and out of the kitchen and more time to sit and talk with friends (and drink wine!).
The bread was golden and crusty and the filling had a lovely tart taste due to a combination of olives and feta.
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 tsps active yeast
- 4 cups ‘strong’ bread flour
- 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- extra flour (for kneading)
- extra olive oil
Prove the yeast by putting the warm water into a small bowl, dissolving the sugar into it and then adding the yeast. Leave in a warm place and the yeast should start bubbling and frothing within 5-10 minutes. If not – you need to start again with better yeast.
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the olive oil and the yeast/water mixture. Mix to combine into a dough. Remove the dough and knead for five minutes on a flat, floured surface.
Put a dribble of olive oil into the bowl and coat the bottom and sides with it. Put in the kneaded ball of dough and move it around so it too has a fine coating of olive oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave in a warm place. It should rise to 2-3 times the size in an hour or two.
Optional – knead the dough again and then let it rise again.
Briefly reknead the dough and then divide into two. Roll/spin/press the first half into a flat sheet. Either flour or oil the tray/pizza-stone you’re going to cook it on and put the dough on it. Then it’s time to start adding ingredients.
Filling Ingredients (adjust to taste)
- 2 tbsp basil pesto
- 1 head broccoli – chopped into small florets
- 1 leek, chopped
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
- 100gms feta, crumbled
- 20 kalamata olives, pitted and cut into two
- 150gm roasted capsicum, chopped
- 100gms mozzarella, grated
- 50gms cheddar cheese, grated
Spread the pesto over the base. Add the rest of the ingredients in roughly the order given, finishing off with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses on top.
Take the rest of the dough and roll/spin/press out into a second flat sheet and use it to cover the other one. It needs to go all the way to the sides so you can seal the calzone by pressing down on the edges.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp rosemary and/or oregano (fresh is best, dried is ok)
Coat the top with the olive oil. Sprinkle on the rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper.
Make three 5-10cm diagonal cuts in the top of the calzone. This lets steam escape while it’s cooking.
Put into a hot oven (220c) until done – approximately 20-30 minutes. Cooking time is fairly imprecise as it’s going to depend on the size and composition of the calzone. Towards the end of the cooking time you may wish to remove the calzone and tip it slightly – any excess liquid should drain out – return to the oven to finish.
Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into long slices (it looks more dramatic that way) and serve. (serves 5)
Zucchini and Onion Pizza.
We’ve just moved to our fourth house-sitting place since returning to NZ. House-sitting place number three lacked a functioning kitchen. It had no kitchen gear and no fridge! (no fridge?!).
Our current place is full of kitchen goodness including a pizza stone. To celebrate we made Zucchini and Onion Pizza.
I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that nice pizza base + pesto + feta + any* leftover vegetables in your fridge + more cheese = a good pizza.
For cooking instructions see:
Potato and Leek Pizza or Broccoli/Mushroom Simple Pizzas
Mmmm, pizza. So quick (well, it is when you used pre-made bases), easy and yummy.
*lettuce being the exception that quickly comes to mind.
Red Wine and Garlic Lentil Soup.
This soup is my entry in the annual super soup challenge hosted by Running with Tweezers.
The soup is rich and thick and reminded us of christmas stuffing (errr, in a good way I promise!).
It’s based on recipe from “The Cooks Encyclopedia of Soups” by Debra Mayhew. I’ve simply added the red wine and rice vinegar.
And as Thomas said when he finished eating it “It’s a keeper!”
I challenge anyone who has yet to experiment with lentils to make this dish.
- 1 cup of red lentils (rinsed, they don’t need to be soaked.)
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 tbsps of olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsps of dried oregano
- 6 cups of vegetable stock
- 1/2 tbsp of rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsps of red wine
- chunky sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Put all the ingredients in a pot except for the vinegar, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then return to a simmer. Simmer for around 40 minutes. Add the vingear, wine, salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.
Eating Outside: Picnic on the beach.
I love eating outside. During summer we often host dinner parties in our backyard. Since it was a beautiful pre-spring day today Thomas and I went for a walk along the rugged coast out past Makara Beach (Wellington, NZ).
I love our make shift table.
We ate the following and it was delicious.
- Crusty bread
- Marinated Feta
- Roasted Capsicum
- Mixed spicy green and black olives
The advantage of picnicking on a stone beach is that no sand gets in your food!
Best Vegetarian Fast Food Burgers.
My vote is in. Burger Fuel has far, far superior vegetarian burgers than Burger Wisconsin, Burger King or McDonalds.
Are there any other fast food style burger places I need to consider?
Burger Fuel even has more than one vegetarian burger so you don’t just have to get the default. My favourite is the:
Beetnik from Burger Fuel
Mushroom, kumara, chickpea and basil pattie, beetroot, melted cheddar, salad, relish, aioli on a bun for $7.50.