Saturday, September 22, 2012

Random Recipes #20 combined with a Tea Time Treat

This month Dom at Belleau Kitchen has teamed up with Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked to create the fantastic idea of a "tea time random recipe".  As Dom says, tea can mean different things to different people.  To me, a girl from Devon, tea is most definitely something you have mid afternoon - cup of tea and maybe some cake or biscuits or something grander, high tea, lots of tiny cakes and sandwiches.  But certainly not your evening meal. that, to me, is dinner.  The usual rules apply, randomly select a book from your collection, this time only select from books which are tea time based, then from that book randomly select a recipe.

So I stacked up all my cake/biscuit/teatime recipe books (there were over 30 of the lovely things) and used a random number generator which gave me... Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding (with Bryna Levin).   I know Brownies aren't necessarily what you would associate as a British tea time treat, I think they're far to good to miss out on, plus this is one of my favourite "treat" books.  I've cooked quite a few of the recipes already, the basic Fat Witch Brownie is fantastic, as are the PB & J Bars, oh, and the White Chocolate Bars and Banana Bread Brownies...  To pick a recipe I hadn't tried before was going to take a bit of luck but the first page number I picked gave me Hazelnut Cream Cheese Brownies which was new to me.

Hazelnut Cream Cheese Brownies

3oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Brownie Batter
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
5tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4tsp salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Grease a 9x9inch pan with butter and dust with flour.
Preheat the oven to 350F

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth.  Add the egg, lemon juice and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  Stir in the hazelnuts by hand.  Cover the bowl and place in the fridge.

To make the brownie batter, melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beating until well combined.

Sift the flour and salt directly into the brownie batter, mixing gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.  Stir in the hazelnuts.

Spread half the brownie batter evenly into the baking tin.  Spread the chilled filling over the batter, then refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Gently spread the rest of the brownie batter on top of the filling.

Dip a butter knife into the pan and lift straight up, creating a marbled effect in the batter.  Repeat to create a pattern. (I didn't really need to do this as spreading of the batter gave mixed it slightly with the filling to give it a marbled look)

Bake for 33 minutes.  Let it cool for 1hr on a rack.  Cut just before serving.  Uneaten brownies (as if!) should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Another yummy recipe from this book!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A winter tipple

Behind our garage we have a couple of elder trees, last year I made some fabulous elder-flower syrup but this year I was doubled over with a pesky dose of sciatica when they were flowering so I didn't get a chance to make any.  To make up for it I'm trying some elderberry liqueur this year.  I haven't tried this before but I've read that elderberries are full of antioxidants and very high in vitamin C.  So much so that it can be used medicinally to deter colds and flu so, if nothing else, that's a good enough excuse to make some.

I read several recipes online and elsewhere which all differed but appeared to follow a similar theme so when it came to actually putting it all in a bottle I made it up as I went along... We shall have to wait to see what it turns out like!

The berries are sweeter after the first frost so I popped them into the freezer for a week before using them.  I then took an old litre bottle, roughly quarter filled with the berries, added 750ml of vodka (cheap stuff from the supermarket) and then topped up with sugar.  The bottle is now tucked away in a dark cupboard where, when I remember, I take it out for a shake around.  In a couple of months I'm planning on straining the liquid, checking the taste and adding more sugar if necessary before bottling it up again ready for drinking.  I'm also going to try a similar thing with blackberries but will use gin for that rather than vodka as I've read it gives a better taste.

Unlike the plum wine we have bubbling away in the hall, it looks really pretty!