Nana Glen Mum

Daring Bakers November Challenge – Cannoli November 28, 2009

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts. Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, and in fact, makes for an even creamier filling when substituted for part of the ricotta, or by itself. However, cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc. You could also add your choice of herbs, zests or spices to the dough, if desired. Marsala is the traditional wine used in cannoli dough, but any red or white wine will work fine, as it’s not only added for flavor or color, but to relax the gluten in the dough since it can be a stiff dough to work with.

Despite not technically a “baking” challenge, I was SO excited to see this month’s challenge recipe at the Daring Kitchen.  I have only had cannoli a few times, but have always loved their delicate crispy shell and creamy fillings.  We had a choice of fillings, so I made half with vanilla and half with chocolate, and dipped the ends of both in melted dark chocolate.  For the cannoli with chocolate filling, I then dipped the ends into candied orange peel also for a bit of a jaffa flavour.  YUM YUM!!

Anyway, if you would like a printable copy of the recipe, you can find it here.

My first batch, I tried the forming them around the premade cannelloni tubes.  Unfortunately, they blistered and cooked along with the cannoli and I was unable to separate the two without smashing the entire thing into smithereens.  Luckily, I had some stainless cream horn shapes in my cooking stash, and they worked a treat.  Had they not worked, I would have opted for the flat, layered version aka millefeuille/napoleon style.  All in all, a great hit with the family and definately will be made again.  Am hoping Santa will bring me an ice cream maker for Christmas, as I can really imagine these with a yummy home made ice cream filling!!  Delish!


Foodie Fights!!! Peaches and Tarragon August 24, 2009

Filed under: Foodie Fights!! — nanaglenmum @ 10:11 am
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Peach and Tarragon Verrine with Tarragon Flecked Tuilles

If you’ve been following my blog, or even only read a post or two, you have probably realised a couple of things by now:
1.  I love food
2.  I love to cook
3.  I love a challenge; and finally
4.  I spend far too little time doing housework, and way too much time surfing the net looking at pictures of food!
Once you’ve taken all of these things into consideration, they kind of come together in the various challenges that I have partaken in so far.  I guess it was only a matter of time before I came across Foodie Fights.  Needless to say, my interest was immediately piqued, so I put in my application to participate in the next challenge.  I was very excited to see my name on the list of 10 participants for this fortnights challenge – Peaches and Tarragon.  Hmmm, this was indeed to be a challenge!  We are amidst the throws of winter here (although you wouldn’t know it today…being 35oC!!) so fresh peaches are not exactly available.  Added to that, I’d only ever eaten them fresh – never cooked.  Then there was the Tarragon.  I knew it was a herb, often used in French cooking and usually paired with chicken?  I think????  So now I had to come up with a tasty recipe using an ingredient that I couldn’t get with an ingredient I had never used, let alone tasted.  The announcement was out on Wednesday which gave me a few days to ponder my predicament.  Inspiration hit me at about 2am on Saturday morning.  Peach icecream with tarragon tuilles.  I have made icecream before – the old beater and freezer method as I don’t have an icecream maker, and have wanted to make tuilles for ages after reading various peoples entrants in the a previous Daring Bakers Challenge.  However, we ended up with a really busy weekend and I didn’t even get a chance to get in to town to buy ingredients until this morning, so I had run out of time for icecream.  Helene of Tartelette to the rescue!!  She is my absolute idol.  Amazing cook, fantastic food stylist, and unbelievable food photographer.  I jumped on her recipe for Mango and Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Pannacotta.  Perfect.  This looked yum and I figured I could adapt it easy enough, and still use my tuilles as a garnish.  I made a few changes to the original recipe, so here is what I did:

Peach and Tarragon Verrine

1 cup pureed tinned peaches (thank god for the canning process – I used 8 halves of peaches in natural juice!!)
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon water
1 3/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream (extra)
3/4 cup full cream milk

Puree the tinned peaches with half of the finely chopped tarragon and divide among 4 glasses, being careful not to spill any excess on the inside of the glasses.  Place the glasses in the freezer.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom.

In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 cup of cream with the sugar, remaining chopped tarragon and vanilla until the cream is just about to boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until completely dissolved.

Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes then add the extra 1/4 cup of cream and the milk. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can speed up the process by placing your saucepan over a bowl filled with ice but keep and eye on it as it will thicken faster. Once the cream is cooled, slowly pour it over the frozen fruit and let set in the fridge, at least two hours, preferably overnight.

Tarragon Flecked Tuilles

65 grams softened butter

60 grams sifted icing sugar mixture

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork – I use duck eggs for baking)

65 grams sifted plain flour

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan forced.

On low speed, cream together butter sugar and vanilla until just combined.  Gradually add egg whites and beat only until combined to a smooth batter.  Be careful not to overmix.
Line a tray with baking paper.  If using a stencil, place it on the paper

and hold down with one hand while using an offset spatula with the other to gently smooth the batter over the stencil.

You want a thin but even layer of batter.  Now, very carefully remove the stencil.  I found it easiest to start at a corner and pull the stencil up on the diagonal.

Make 3 more in this way then place in the oven for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

As soon as they are cooked, remove from the oven and shape over a folded piece of cardboard.  You have to do this really fast before they cool and set.

This is why you only want 4 biscuits at a time on the tray, otherwise they snap when you try to bend them.  Mind you, the kids think it’s a good thing because they get to eat all the broken ones!!  Allow them to cool completely before removing them from the card to a SAFE PLACE away from curious little fingers!  (Like I said, the kids like to eat the broken ones – they don’t care who breaks them!!!)

When ready to serve, place one or two of the tuilles on top of the cream mixture in the glass, then sit back with a spoon and enjoy!!

So, what did we think of the taste??  Yum yum yum!  The kids both loved it, and Matthew said it is a definate must next time we have people over for a meal.  I was feeling really dubious about it, having never combined fruit and herbs like this, and not being a great fan of pureed anything as it just looks like regurgitated baby food to me, but this blew me away!  The peach puree was lovely and cold and refreshing, and the tiny bits of tarragon through it added a lovely extra “note”.  The cream layer set into a beautiful, silky concoction which delicately melted away with a creamy, but not fatty mouth feel.  The coolness of the fruit perfectly balanced the mousse-like texture of the cream.  The little tuilles on top were a cute finishing touch with a lovely vanilla taste and soft bite.  The tiny flecks of tarragon in them left a really pleasant aftertaste, which also tied them in with the main part of the dessert.

I am definately going to make this dish again, and can’t wait for the arrival of summer so I can make it with fresh juicy peaches.  Thanks Helene for the inspiration and thank you also to Foodie Fights for pushing me out of my comfort zone to find a new favourite dish!  Definately a success!!  Now I’ve just got to go and plant some tarragon in the garden……

Oh yeah, and if you like the looks of this, please head on over to Foodie Fights and vote for me (Nana Glen Mum).  thanks heaps!


First Fire in the Pizza Oven!! August 9, 2009

Woohoo!  It has finally happened, the last brick is in and the dome is complete!  Friday night DH lit the first small test fire inside the oven to see how it would go.  Went great – only a small fire, but reached 250oC easily.  We had friends come over for a feed and to watch (of course) and rang the neighbours over the road to come and check it out.  Lots of oohs and aahs and “how long til we get a pizza”.  We even turned on the fairy lights around the gazebo next to it for a bit of ambience.  Gorgeous!  He has done a fantastic job, especially for someone with no brick laying experience.  Our friend’s uncle even thought he was a brickie!!
August 7Last night we lit the second fire, a bit bigger this time and it went up to 340oC.  He is a clever  boy – even installing a probe thermometer through the wall during construction so we can keep an eye on the temperature.  He is now going to put 3 layers of render over the top with vermiculite in the second layer as extra insulation, and will tint the final layer an earthy reddish brown – think Uluru at sunset.  Once that is all finished, I get to have my turn with the decorating.  Originally I was going to do a mural…but, as we live in a little hamlet called Nana Glen, named after the 2 tailed lizard (a naturally occurring mutation of a very common lizard that the local Aboriginal tribe call Nana), I am going to attempt to make a large 3d sculpture of a August 7 (3)2 tailed lizard draped over the dome of the oven.  Come on, since when did I ever go for an easy, subdued option – it has to be over the top or not at all!!  (Kinda like my cakes lol).  Hopefully I’ll figure out how to do it as I go along as I have never attempted sculpture before except for a mammoth head out of foam rubber for a play in high school (and even then I had an art teacher helping!!)  I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and post them up as I go.  I am also thinking I might do a bit of a write up on DH and how he built the oven as we took lots of photos along the way, right from the laying of the slab and the kids imprinting their handprints!!  It even has wood stowage underneath!
So, Tuesday night is our very first

pizza night!  I am going to try out a new recipe for the dough to celebrate, and now I have to start thinking about what toppings – they have to be special as occasions don’t come much more special than this!  I am SOOOOOO excited!!


Daring Bakers July Challenge – Milan Cookies and Mallows July 26, 2009

Milan CookiesThe July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Yum, yum, yum.

Did I say these were yum?

I’ll start with the Milan Cookies.

These were just scrummy!  I don’t have a real sweet tooth, but I do love to bake, so these are just perfect for me!  The biscuit itself is a gorgeous soft but not soggy lemon scented vanilla, and then you sandwich two of them together (because believe me, one is just no where near enough!!) with…wait for it…JAFFA GANACHE!!!  Now I’m not usually one for jaffa, in fact I still think the best thing to do with them is roll them down the cinema aisles, but this was just cream (my favourite food ever) with dark chocolate (another fave) and the finely grated rind of an orange (donated nice and fresh from my lovely friend over the road).  I followed the recipe to a tee, which is bit of a challenge in itself for me, but instead of piping rounds, I just had to do hearts!  They look so much cuter that way, and my girls got all excited that I had made heart shaped biscuits for them because “I love them”!

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Finished MallowsSecond round was Mallows.  Again, I was thinking I wouldn’t be eating them as I usually can’t stand marshmallows – waaaaaay to sweet for me!  However, I had never eaten home made marshmallows before and they were just delectable!  Not too sweet, and a gorgeous spongy but not too “airy” texture.  With only a handful of ingredients, I highly recommend you give them a go.  I’ll pop the recipe in my recipe pages for you.   Again, I somehow managed to follow the recipe as stated, but opted for star shapes instead of rounds.  Come on, with all those gorgeous cookie cutters out there, why wouldn’t you?

I didn’t mind them, but one was plenty for me.  However, everyone else seemed to “need” 3 or 4 in a row (without stopping to take a breath mind you!!) to decide if they like them or not!  Hubby even snuck a few in before I was out of bed the next morning – not bad for someone who said he would pass because he is watching his figure!

Thanks go out to Nicole of Sweet Tooth for hosting this month’s super yummy Challenge and to Pastry Chef Gale Gand of The Food Network for coming up with such amazingly yummy recipes.  I can hardly wait to see what we will be baking for August – be sure to stay tuned!

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

Finished Mallows - Close up

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.