pastry

Sweet orange muffins with sticky syrup

Orange sticky muffins 2

This week I had fun at a “girls’ night in” with some of the other lovely ladies in my village. This involved all of us taking a little food, a little wine, all meeting up and having a night of laughter and friendship.

I haven’t had a girls’ night since December (when I had a wonderful weekend in Paris with a visiting Aussie friend) so I was quite excited to be able to get out and let the hair down with the girls. So excited that I took over TCs kitchen and spent the day cooking.

First up was this wonderful quiche recipe from the amazing Carla over at Expat Chef in Barcelona: Asparagus and Red Pepper Quiche.

The only change I made to Carla’s recipe was to add some crumbled feta, and I then scaled it down slightly to fit a standard round quiche dish… and wow, it was delicious. It went down a treat with the girls (all 7 of them) and the very  first comment I got was “OK you’re employed”. Actually, credit goes to TC for roasting the red peppers for me (these are known as capsicums to us Aussies)  – he’s been roasting these a lot lately and it’s something I’ve never actually tried, so he kindly volunteered that job. Actually, that was another small change to the recipe – rather than confit peppers, I simply left them as roasted and peeled then left them to sit with the oil that was still on them until I was ready to drain & cut them – they were still delicious!

So being excited as I was, I also decided to make a version of orange muffins with sticky orange & lemon syrup. Orange sticky muffins 1

I actually adapted these from a Thermomix recipe that I’d wanted to try for quite a while. For those who know what a Thermomix is, you will understand completely how much I miss mine back in Australia. Because I am such a Thermomix fan, I thought this might be a good opportunity to try out the recipe without one and see if I could cope with my little food processor I’ve purchased here in France.

The recipe is the 30 Second Whole Orange Cake from the Thermomix recipe community. If you would like the original Themomix instructions, please click here.  So this is the recipe with almost the same ingredients, and my method with the processor:

Ingredients (makes approx 14 large muffins)

1 whole orange cut into small chunks

1 tbspn orange rind, finely grated

225g butter

3 eggs

200g sugar

300g Self Raising Flour

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin tins with paper liners & set aside.

Place the orange pieces and butter into the food processor and process until the orange is finely processed and combined with the butter (this may take some time, with stopping & scraping the sides of the bowl, depending on your processor). Add the extra orange rind and the eggs, one at a time and process until completely combined.

Put the orange mixture into a large bowl. Combine the flour and sugar and add this (about 1/3 at a time) to the orange mixture, folding in until just combined.

Fill the muffin tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly and while still warm, drizzle with the syrup and top with thin strips of orange rind. (Note: my muffins had browned on top, so in order to help the syrup soak into the muffins, I pierced them several times with a toothpick before drizzling the syrup)

Orange & Lemon Syrup

Juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)

Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)

100g sugar

Combine juices and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat & bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Drizzle over still warm muffins.

I made 12 large muffins but had enough mixture left over to make a small cake to leave behind for TC to enjoy.  Orange sticky muffins 3

So how did the recipe go using the processor instead? Rather frustrating, as my processor is just a little cheapie, so it took quite some time to get the orange and butter finely chopped and blended… stopping and starting many many times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  It is going to be so good to use my machine again next year…

Not that old chestnut…

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Tonight I made my first ever dish using chestnuts – and I’m so glad I did. I’d never even eaten them before yesterday. No, never!

Well for starters I haven’t seen chestnuts in Australia, at least not in Perth where I’m from. However, I am reliably informed by others that they are there – I must have been oblivious to them all these years! These things obviously come out in winter, right? Winter just isn’t that cold down there so they definitely aren’t as prevalent as they are here.

So, I see all these chestnuts appear at the markets and in the shops and I am curious. Then I see other bloggers starting to post their culinary works of art with chestnuts, so of course my curiosity gets the better of me and off I go googling away to my heart’s content, finding out all about these little brown nuggets of winter goodyness. Thanks to google and youtube I got all the info I needed, and then also thanks to Luffy Moogan over at Tosh and Tomatoes, her delicious looking post  and most importantly her recipe – I was off on my premier châtaigne cuisiner journey.

First step according to my youtube video was to cut into the chestnut shells, blanch and then roast in order to peel them. Step one accomplished, check! (Btw, did you know you can actually get chestnut splinters? Yes, yes you can!)

Next up, I sauteed onion and garlic for a few minutes (I like to use a combination of butter and oil for this, just because it tastes good), then added grated carrot, chopped mushrooms and the chopped chestnuts & fried for about 5 minutes.

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After turning off the heat, I stirred through about 1/2 a tub of marscapone and a spoonful of tomato paste, seasoned well with freshly ground salt and pepper and left it to stand while I prepared the pastry.

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Thanks to the wonders of pre-made & rolled puff pastry, the next step was easy – lay out one layer of pastry, pile on the filling, top with another layer of pastry, seal the edges and brush with an eggwash. Now according to one of my favourite TV cooks, Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa – the easiest eggwash for a good result is just a beaten egg with a little water added. Who am I to argue with someone of her calibre, so that’s what I used. And I think she’s right. Well apparently she used to be a whitehouse policy advisor – the woman is no dumb bunny!

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Final step, of course, was to bake at 200C for 30-40min. Thankfully this time I remember my slightly hot oven & got them out after exactly 30 – just in time I think.

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Voila – one of THE most delicious combinations I’ve come across and I will most definitely be making this again! Enjoy…  IMG_2528

RECIPE:

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

350g mushrooms, chopped

a small bowlful of chestnuts, roasted, peeled & roughly chopped

2 small carrots, grated

1/2 tub marscapone

1tbsp tomato paste

a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

freshly ground salt & pepper

2 puff pastry sheets

1 egg (beaten)

Fry the garlic & onion in butter & oil for a few minutes, add the mushroom, carrot and chestnuts, stir & fry for about 5 min. Turn off the heat & after it has slightly cooled, stir through the marscapone, parsley and tomato paste, season with salt & pepper and set aside.

Lay out one pastry sheet for the base, pile on the filling, leaving a wide edge for sealing. Lay over the top layer of pastry and seal the edges. Brush with the eggwash & pierce a couple of holes. Bake at 180-200C for 30-40 minutes.

MY NOTES: I always use a lot of garlic so feel free to use less 😀 I didn’t weigh the chestnuts, but from memory I had bought about 1/2 kilo raw, and by the time they were roasted & peeled I’d thrown away a handful that were black in the middle (and tasted a few), so what was left is what I went with. I also had a very small amount of chopped walnuts leftover from my santa swirl shortbread, so that got thrown in too! (really only about 2 tbspn, so not much). From the look of the pics I might have used more marscapone than Luffy, so I’m guessing that’s also ‘negotiable’.

This quantity made two very large turnovers, we shared one for dinner with steamed veges – and we were starving – so it was quite filling. I estimate this would feed 4 very hungry adults, 6 adults for a regular main dish with sides, or 8 for a smaller meal or snack.

How far do you go for sweet things?

Right now I am enjoying the fruits of the labour of one Monsieur Eric Maury, talented chocolatier and pâtissier with a little shop tucked away in the lakeside village of Marseillan, France. So far I have tasted his to-die-for tarte tartin, grand marnier chou, pistache macaron and his delicious and oh so chocolatey “tarte tentation” – yes, the temptation tart.

If you find yourself in the region, I highly recommend collecting a sample for yourself!

La Bonbonnière,  9 rue Emile Zola 34340 MarseillanImageImage