Cakes & Bakes: Petit fours

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Plate of various petit fours with espresso | H is for Home

We have a few friends coming over for dinner this weekend.

Vegan date & nut petit fours | H is for Home

We must like them because they’re getting 3 courses!

Vegan date & nut petit fours in a vintage tin | H is for Home

We tend to split the cooking – which works out well as Justin prefers to do the savoury dishes and I prefer making the sweets. It looks like it’s going to be poached smoked salmon & asparagus to begin. And he’s just set about making some home-made pies for the main course. They look delicious – and hearty too. Celeriac mash and roasted root vegetables on the side. No one will go hungry, that’s for sure!

Chocolate petit fours with bowls of various toppings | H is for Home

So, after all that, something light to finish seems in order. I often make panna cotta or crème caramel when a big pudding isn’t required. But I thought I’d go even more delicate this time with a selection of three different petit fours. I’m sharing their preparation as this week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe.

Marzipan petit fours | H is for Home

Our guests can have one or ten each, depending on how much room they’ve got left.

Dipping marzipan petit fours into chocolate glaze | H is for Home

Serving them in pretty petit four paper cases really enhances their presentation. They’ll be delicious with an after dinner coffee, port or brandy… a lovely way to end the meal.

Vegan chocolate petit fours
Yields 25
Ingredients
  1. 300g/10½oz dark chocolate
  2. pinch sea salt
  3. 2tbs coconut oil
  4. 215ml/7½fl oz tinned coconut milk
  5. toasted desiccated coconut, chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder to finish
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Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate up into small pieces and put it into a large heatproof bowl
  2. Add the coconut oil and the salt
  3. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to the boil before pouring it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth
  4. Allow to cool, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to set overnight in the fridge (or at least 4 hours).
  5. Put the toasted desiccated coconut chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder into separate wide-bottomed bowls
  6. Using a measuring teaspoon, scoop out a portion of ganache before rolling between your palms to form a ball before putting it on a plate or baking sheet
  7. Repeat until all the ganache has been used
  8. Cover the balls in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  9. Toss in the balls equally between the chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and or cocoa powder, rolling around the bowls making sure each ball is completely coated
  10. Carefully place the balls on to a plate lined with parchment paper, recover carefully with cling film and put them back into the fridge to firm up again
Notes
  1. These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Chocolate covered marzipan petit fours
Yields 45
For the marzipan
  1. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar
  3. 2tsp almond extract
  4. 1 egg white
For the chocolate coating
  1. 50ml/1¾fl oz whipping cream
  2. 7g/¼oz sugar
  3. 12ml/½fl oz water
  4. 45g/1½oz dark chocolate, chopped
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For the marzipan
  1. Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until it comes together into a thick ball (about a minute)
  2. Turn the marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a couple of times
  3. Form it into a pack of butter shape, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about an hour
  4. Bring cream, sugar, and 60ml/2fl oz water to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves
  5. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and the glaze is smooth
  6. Slice the slab of marzipan into equal sized cubes before rolling each between your palms to form balls
  7. Using a tooth pick, dip each ball into the chocolate sauce before placing it on a tray lined with parchment paper
  8. Cover the petit fours carefully with cling film and chill for half an hour
Notes
  1. Any unused marzipan will keep for up to a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Date & nut petit fours
A delicious vegan after-dinner treat
Ingredients
  1. 125g cashews
  2. 40g desiccated coconut
  3. 125g pitted dates
  4. 2tbs coconut oil
  5. ½tsp sea salt
  6. ½tsp vanilla essence
  7. 1tbs water
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Instructions
  1. In a food processor, process blitz the cashews and desiccated coconut to fine crumbs
  2. Add the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until the mixture forms large, sticky lumps
  3. Scoop the dough using a measuring teaspoon before rolling between your palms to form balls. If the mixture is too crumbly add another tablespoon of water and blitz again for a few seconds
  4. Arrange on a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment paper
  5. Chill in the fridge for an hour before rolling in toasted desiccated coconut and/or cocoa powder to finish
Notes
  1. These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for 6 months or more
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Cumin-spiced pumpkin chickpea pies

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Home-made cumin-spiced pumpkin chickpea pies | H is for Home

There were a couple of culinary firsts for me this week.

burying egg with egg shell when making hot water pastry

Firstly, I made a vegetarian hot water pastry, based on one I found in my Pie cookbook.

melting butter and suet in hot water

Instead of using lard, I used a bit of vegetarian suet.

making hot water pastry in a mixer

I’ve never, ever eaten a pork pie (I’ve been vegetarian since the eighties). I had to ask Justin if my pastry was anything like it is meant to be… seeing as he eats this kind of raised pie on a regular basis. In fact he eats pork pie every Thursday without fail – sharing it with Fudge on their walks after an early flea market forage.

rolling hot water pastry in cling film before putting it in the fridge

My other first was cumin-spiced pumpkin & chickpea pies.

lining pie tray with parchment paper

We bought a pumpkin at Halloween so I was looking for a new way of using it.

slicing hot water pastry

I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. Granted, I’ve only had it the once, but it didn’t leave fond memories.

frying off chopped onions an cumin seeds

I much prefer these squash type vegetables savoury rather than sweet.

pumpkin and chickpea pie filling

It certainly makes a good substantial filling for this type of pie – great flavour too with the addition of the very complimentary curry spices.

adding filling to pumpkin and chickpea pies and putting on lids

This recipe makes quite a few, small pies. If like us you’re only likely to eat a few at a time, they can be frozen both before and once cooked.

cooked pumpkin and chickpea pies cooling on a wire rack

They’re the perfect little autumn pies!

Hokkaido milk bread
For the tangzhong
  1. 50g strong bread flour
  2. 250ml milk
For the dough
  1. 50ml double or whipping cream
  2. 55ml milk
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 540g strong bread flour
  5. 85g caster sugar
  6. 8g salt
  7. 10g powered milk
  8. 11g instant dried yeast
  9. 185g tangzhong
  10. 50g butter, softenedHokkaido milk bread ingredients
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To make the tangzhong
  1. Add the 50g flour and 250ml milk to a medium-sized saucepan and mix with a whisk until there are no lumps
  2. Heat over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly. After a couple of minutes (and when it reaches the magic 65ºC) you'll notice the mixture thickening. Lower the heat and continue to stir until the tangzhong begins to come away from the sides & bottom of the saucepan and begins to form low peaks when you lift the whisk
  3. Put the tangzhong into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to cool while you make the dough
To make the bread
  1. In a mixing bowl (I used my Kenwood mixer as there's a lot of kneading involved!) add the cream, milk and eggs and combine for a few seconds
  2. Add the flour, sugar, powdered milk, yeast and tangzhong and, using the dough hook, mix for 3 minutes on a low setting
  3. Add the softened butter and salt and mix for a further 10-15 minutes, again on a low setting
  4. Remove the dough hook, quickly form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with clingfilm and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (45-60 minutes)
  5. Grease 2 small bread tins
  6. Put the dough on a floured work surface, divide into quarters, form each piece into a ball, put them on to a floured oven tray, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to relax in a warm place for 20 minutes
  7. On the floured work surface, one by one, roll each ball into a rectangle using a rolling pin
  8. Fold each rectangle of dough into ⅓s along the long sides, turn over so the overlap is on the underside and re-roll into a rectangle
  9. Roll up each rectangle along the long end and put into a baking tin with the end of the roll facing down to stop unravelling
  10. Cover the pans loosely with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for the 2nd prove for 45-60 minutes
  11. Preheat the oven to 175ºC
  12. Once proved, brush the top of each loaf with egg wash and bake for 35-45 minutes
  13. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating
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Adapted from 65ºC Bread Doctor
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Cheese and celery pies

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Home made cheese & celery pies | H is for Home

National Pie Week is going from strength to strength here in the UK. It’s been talked about all over social media and in the traditional media too. Chris Evans and his team have been waxing lyrical about pies they’ve been sent by bakeries from all over the country.

Flour and cubes of butter in a food processor | H is for Home

 Last year for Pie Week I made a lovely butter pie; this year I wanted to keep with the theme of a vegetarian, rustic, humble pie. I turned to my copy of Pie by Genevieve Taylor that we reviewed last year. I found just the recipe – cheese and celery pies – but with a little twist.

Flour and cubes of butter blended in a food processor | H is for Home

Pastry crumbs poured out on to clingfilm | H is for Home

The original recipe is a single pie done in a shallow pie plate. I quite liked the idea of doing little individual hand pulled pies. I used a couple of cling film-wrapped jars in lieu of a pastry dolly.

Pastry wrapped in clingfilm | H is for Home

Veg stock | H is for Home

Pulled pies are usually made using hot water pastry, but I was being lazy and just whizzed up a quick batch of shortcrust pastry. I think it worked just fine, but I’m sure Paul Hollywood wouldn’t approve!

Cooked off onions and celery | H is for Home

Hand pulled pie cases | H is for Home

This recipe made 4 small pies but you can easily scale it up. We had one each so I put the other two in the freezer – pre-baked – so that they can be taken out and baked off the next time we fancy a pie.

Filling pulled pie cases | H is for Home

Making pie tops | H is for Home

There was a little bit of pastry left over – isn’t there always? I quite like rolling it out thinly, slicing it into long thin strips, sprinkling over with cheese and baking for 15 minutes. What do you do with yours?

Glazing pie tops | H is for Home

Sliced home made cheese & celery pies | H is for Home

I’ve already started thinking about what pie I’m going to make next year!

Cheese and celery pies
Yields 4
for the pastry
  1. 360g/12½oz plain flour
  2. pinch of salt
  3. 180g/6⅓oz cold butter, cubed
  4. 6-8 tbsp cold water
for the filling
  1. 25g/1oz butter
  2. ½tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. ½ head celery, sliced
  5. 125ml/4 fl oz veg stock (or ½ veg stock cube + 125ml boiling water)
  6. 30g/1oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
  7. salt & ground black pepper to taste
  8. a little beaten egg to glazeCheese and celery pies ingredients
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Adapted from Pie by Genevieve Taylor
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Pitta and hummus

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Home-made pitta and hummus | H is for Home

You can say one thing for our recipe posts – they’re definitely international!

pitta and hummus ingredients | H is for Home

We’ve gone from China, via the USA to this week where we’re in the North Africa/Middle East region with pitta and hummus recipes.

yeast & water mixture | H is for Home

Pitta and hummus is a mainstay in our house. It’s a quick, healthy snack when you don’t feel like cooking.

pitta dough | H is for Home

They’re both fairly inexpensive to buy – both less than a pound for a standard pack.

mixing olive oil and salt into pitta dough | H is for Home

Being so easy to pick up in the shops, I’ve never really thought to make my own at home.

rinsed chickpeas | H is for Home

What was I waiting for? Home made versus shop bought – now I know – there’s no comparison, home made wins hands down!

husked chickpeas | H is for Home

So long as there’s a tin of chickpeas in the larder and a jar of tahini in the fridge, you can whip up a delicious batch of hummus in 5 minutes flat… and make it just to your taste. As much or as little lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper as you like – and the consistency you prefer.

hummus mixture | H is for Home

Lots of people insist on making hummus using dried peas. Yes, it will probably turn out even better – but unless you own a pressure cooker (I don’t) which will cook the beans in under half an hour, that quick snack will have to wait until tomorrow. I’ll make some using dried beans some day soon to see how it compares.

hummus mixture in a bowl | H is for Home

You can spice things up a little (or as they say on the X Factor, “Make it your own”). Add a little smoked paprika, ground cumin, caramelised onions, sun dried tomatoes, chopped chillies, coriander or parsley – just not all at once mind!

pitta dough preparation | H is for Home

You can make and cook off a big batch of pitta and store the excess in the freezer – just defrost as needed and pop them in the toaster.

pitta cooking on a stone in the oven | H is for Home

 I have to say that they were delicious straight from the oven though…

pitta sliced with bowl of hummus | H is for Home

… and there weren’t any left from this batch for the freezer!!

Pitta and hummus
for the pitta
  1. 1tbs instant dried yeast
  2. 350ml/12 fl oz lukewarm water
  3. 375g/13oz wholemeal bread flour
for the hummus
  1. 1tbs tahini
  2. ½tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 300g/10½ tin chickpeas
  4. 1 small clove garlic
  5. ½tbsp lemon juice
  6. ½tbsp sea salt
  7. pinch of ground black pepper
  8. pinch of smoked paprika or ground cumin (optional)
  9. few sprigs of coriander or flat leaf parsley (optional)Pitta and hummus ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
For the pitta
  1. In a measuring jug, sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to dissolve
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and form a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture
  3. Bring the flour and yeast mixture together to form a dough
  4. Leave the mixture to rest for 15 minutes before adding the olive oil and salt and mixing well again until the dough begins to stiffen
  5. Using the dough hook mix on a low speed for 5 minutes (or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes) until smooth & elastic
  6. Cover the bowl in cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size (at least an hour)
  7. - You can use this time to make the hummus -
  8. Once risen, preheat the oven to the highest setting, placing a knock back before dividing the dough in half
  9. Divide each half into 4 equal pieces and flatten each piece into a ovals around ½cm thick
  10. Layer & wrap the ovals loosely in a clean, damp tea towel preheat your oven to the highest setting and put a baking stone or griddle pan inside to heat up
  11. Carefully put 2-3 pitta ovals onto the stone/pan leaving space between each
  12. Bake for 3-5 minutes until the bread has puffed up like a balloon
  13. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving
for the hummus
  1. Put the tahini & olive oil into a mini food processor and whiz for 30 seconds
  2. Rinse the chickpeas under cold running water and, if you have the patience, pinch the husks from each chickpea (it took me about 15 minutes); this gives the hummus a smoother consistency
  3. Add the chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice to the mini food processor and purée for 30 seconds
  4. Take the lid off the processor and scrape the mixture down off the sides and whiz again to remove any lumps. If the mixture is stiff, add a tablespoon of water and pulse for a few of seconds
  5. Add salt & pepper and adjust to taste
  6. Sprinkle with smoked paprika or ground cumin, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with coriander or flat leaf parsley and serve
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Mushroom pâté

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Mushroom pate with toast

 

A few weeks ago on Instagram, I was singing the praises of a delicious porcini mushroom pâté that I’d discovered in Lidl. We had a punnet of mushrooms that needed to be used up so I thought I might try my hand at making my own pâté.

I flipped through a few of our cookbooks for a recipe and soon found one in a little booklet supplement that came with the Guardian weekend newspaper, many moons ago. It was a taster from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No.1.

I altered the recipe slightly, substituting the butter and garlic for 50 grams of wild garlic butter that I whipped up the previous week. A very simple and easy to make recipe. You can use foraged wild mushrooms (so long as you’re absolutely sure they’re not a poisonous variety); dried mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelle, morel or a mixture; chestnut or just plain ol’ closed cup white mushrooms.

Mushroom pâté

Yield: makes 350g/12oz

Mushroom pâté

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz mushrooms
  • 30g/1oz butter
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 250g/9oz cream cheese
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper to season
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Clean and trim the mushrooms before slicing thinly
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until softened stirring to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan
  4. Cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms all but evaporates (10-15 minutes)
  5. Allow to cool before spooning into a mini-food processor and blitzing for 20-30 seconds
  6. Add the cream cheese to the food processor and blitz again until well combined
  7. Season with sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
  8. Decant into sterilised jars and refrigerate. Once opened, consume within 7 days

Notes

Delicious slathered over freshly-baked ciabatta!

http://hisforhomeblog.com/cookery/mushroom-pate/