Monday, 20 September 2010

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whippe Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls - The Inky Kitchen

Ladies and gents, prepare yourselves for a seriously girly recipe. Pink in colour with a creamy floral flavour, these are some very ladylike treats. Reminiscent of turkish delight, but with a cheesecakey edge to the frosting thanks to the mascarpone and whipped cream. The pureed lychees keep the sponge cake wonderfully moist, although I must admit that their perfume like flavour didn't come across as much as I'd like, so I added some to the frosting to amp it up a little. I do find it difficult to get more delicate fruit flavours to come through in cake batter - watermelon is another flavour that baking seems to cancel out.

The rose syrup tuile curls are like little flowery brandy snaps. Unfortunately they don't hold their crispness for too long so it is best to bake these and add them to the cakes just before serving so they keep their shape and crunch.

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whippe Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls - The Inky Kitchen

It may seem silly to some people to bake a batch of little cookies just to decorate some cupcakes, but that's just how I roll. A dessert on top of another dessert? Yes please! To be honest though, they were more of an experiment to see if I could make a rose version of this cookie from Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book Baking: From My Home To Yours. A real treasury of delicious treats and a must have for the avid baker, Dorie's book shows how to prepare these little cookies using maple syrup; but seeing as I had a lovely bottle of rose syrup on hand I thought it a good chance to have a play around and hopefully make a tasty and unusual cupcake topper. I think I succeeded!

I quartered the recipe from the book and still came up with too many tuile cookies, but adjusting it to make any fewer cookies would result in some seriously difficult ingredient measuring and I would never be averse to eating ten or so little leftover rosey curls...

The curl batter needs to be made the evening or morning before as it needs to refrigerate for at least 3 hours before baking. Of course they are optional, and could be replaced with a simple icing rose if anything at all, although the glitter is a must to create the required ludicrously girly visage.

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whippe Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls - The Inky Kitchen

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls
Makes 12 standard American sized cupcakes

Rose Syrup Tuile Curl Ingredients
15g unsalted butter, at room temperature
15g light brown muscovado sugar, packed
30ml rose syrup
15g plain flour, sifted

Lychee Cupcake Ingredients
180ml pureed lychees (skinned and pitted)
60ml milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

110g butter, softened
400g caster sugar
1 large egg
, at room temperature
2 large egg whites, at room temperature

Rose & Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting Ingredients
80ml pureed lychees
1 tbsp rose syrup (or see notes for an alternative)
75g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100ml double cream
300g icing sugar, sifted

Rose Syrup Tuile Curl Method
Mix the butter, sugar and rose syrup until well combined and then gently stir in the flour until just incorporated. Cover the dish with cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 1 week.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F while you line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and then wrap some more greaseproof around a rolling pin.

Spoon small hazelnut size scoops of the tuile batter onto the tray leaving around 2 inches space between them (they spread a lot) and then bake for 5-7 minutes until the edges turn golden brown but the centres are still a deep pink.

Remove the tray from the oven and leave the cookies to cool for about 10 seconds. Then take a thin flat palette (such as you use to smooth frosting) and gently slide it under a cookie seperating it from the paper. Gently life the cookie from the sheet and place it over the greaseproofed rolling pin - it will wrap around it making the required curl shape. If the cookies on the sheet become solid before you can curl them over the pin, just place the tray back in the oven for a few seconds so they soften up and become pliable again.

Repeat with the other cookies and leave them to cool on the rolling pin while you bake the next batch. When cool place on a piece of greaseproof paper in a safe area where they won't get knocked or broken while you bake the cupcakes.

Lychee Cupcakes Method
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F and line a tin with a dozen standard American cupcake liners or muffin liners.

Mix the pureed lychees withthe milk and vanilla extract and set aside. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream the butter for 2-3 minutes and then gradually add the sugar. When well combined and fluffy add the egg and egg whites and mix until just combined. Now add half of the flour mixture and blend, then add the lychee and milk mixture and combine before adding the final portion of flour. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter between the cupcake liners and bake for 22-25 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and spring back to the touch. Leave to cool for ten minutes in the tray, then remove to a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Rose & Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting Method
Whip the double cream to stiff peaks and set aside. Beat the pureed lychees, rose syrup, mascarpone and vanilla extract and then gently stir in the whipped cream until just combined. Now fold in the sifted icing sugar until you reach the required spreadable/pipeable consistency - you may not need it all.

Spread over the completely cooled cupcakes and top with a tuile curl or your decoration of choice.

And a sprinkle of glitter. Don't forget the glitter.

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whippe Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls - The Inky Kitchen

I bought the rose syrup from my local supermarket in the ethnic foods section. It can also be found in many Asian and Indian supermarkets.

The rose syrup is necessary to make the tuile curls but for the frosting you could substitute the same quantity of rose water and a few drops of pink food colouring.

I think these would look beautiful with little fresh pink rose petals or buds on top, or a little cube of turkish delight would also be very fitting.

I know these seem outrageously feminine, but they got the thumbs up from some nice gents in my office. If you like turkish delight, I'm pretty sure you'll like these.

Lychee Cupcakes with Rose & Mascarpone Whippe Cream Frosting and Rose Syrup Tuile Curls - The Inky Kitchen

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanne Cash's Potato Salad

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanna Cash's Potato Salad - The Inky Kitchen

You'd think that choosing a recipe for this blog would be simple. Sometimes it is. Sometimes I just get inspiration from what's in season, a certain food craving, something mentioned in a book or film or even the weather, but at other times it can be a real toughy. This week took a little thinking, and it really brewed down to a combination of bad weather and carnivorous cravings.

So what could I make that would make me feel a little more summery? Barbecue food of course, and no-one takes it more seriously than our friends in the US. I decided to go with a US BBQ all star - ribs. Simple to get hold of I would have thought, but I thought wrong. I trawled round every butcher, every meat bearing market stall and every supermarket in Loughborough in my search for pork ribs, but to no avail. I found a solitary vacuumed package in a supermarket, but they weren't in a rack and looked pretty meatless.

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanna Cash's Potato Salad - The Inky Kitchen

And then once again, as happens quite often, mum came to the rescue. While complaining to her over the phone about my ribless search she had the bright idea of asking her butcher who definitely came through with the goods! She lives in Shepshed, a village on the outskirts of Loughborough. They have a wonderful butcher called G T Webster who provided me with some of the biggest racks of 'king ribs' that I had ever seen. Truly huge. I asked for two racks of 8 as I was expecting them to be no more than five inches tall. What I actually received were two racks of 6 that were more like two slabs of pork with a bit of bone in them! Wonderful!

I would definitely recommend this butcher, they are located in Shepshed Market Place (LE12 9RT). Whenever we go to my parents' for a barbecue they always have some lovely treats purchased from Webster's - sausages and pieces of chicken to grill along and sometimes some strips of belly pork. If you're in the area and are of meat eating tendencies do check them out!

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanna Cash's Potato Salad - The Inky Kitchen
In order to keep the meat as tender as possible you really need to cook it low and slow and covered over in foil so all the steam and flavour is sealed in. Some of the bones actually fell out of the ribs as I was cooking them, so you can see it is possible to get super tender meat using just your oven! The basting of the sauce onto the ribs at high heat is also very important, it caramelises with the pork fat and you get those delicious nearly black burnished parts that melt in your mouth.... Dreamy.

And to clarify, this potato salad recipe is not my own, it is from Roseanne Cash, Johnny Cash's daughter and musician in her own right. I think this has become my favourite cold potato dish now, I love love love anything will dill in it, and it's all the better as it slightly affiliated with Johnny Cash, the man in black whose music I love so dearly. I think it's only fitting that I put on the American Recordings while typing this out...

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanna Cash's Potato Salad - The Inky Kitchen

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanne Cash's Potato Salad
Serves 4 (with lots of potato salad!)

Root Beer Barbecue Ribs Ingredients
2 x 1kg racks of pork ribs

Dry Rub Ingredients
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp garlic granules
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce Ingredients
1 red onion, chopped into quarters
3 cloves of garlic, bruised with the back of your knife

1 x 330ml can root beer
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 x 24g can tomato puree
1 tbsp maggi seasoning
1 tbsp worcester sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
1 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

Root Beer Barbecue Ribs Method
Preheat the oven to 100 C / 225 F.

Mix together the spice rub ingredients and set to one side while you pat down your pork ribs with some kitchen roll to make sure they are nice and dry. Now take the spice rub and massage it into both sides of the racks making sure they are completely covered, even on the sides. Cover with cling film and put into the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavour to sink in - I left mine for about two hours, with the last half hour out of the fridge so it could come to room temperature before cooking.

Place the matured ribs onto a baking tray(s) and cover completely with foil, then cook in the preheated oven for four hours. While the meat is cooking make your barbecue sauce ready for basting after the four hours are up.

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce Method
Place the onion and garlic cloves into a non-stick saucepan and cook over medium heat until they slightly brown, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients starting with the liquids. Bring up to the boil, then lower the heat slightly and simmer with a lid on for about half an hour, stirring occasionally until you get a nice sauce consistency.

Remove from the heat and take out the onion and garlic cloves. There are not needed so just throw them away and leave the sauce to cool until the ribs are ready.

Root Beer Barbecue Ribs Method Continued
After the four hours are up, take the ribs out of the oven and remove the foil, then turn the oven heat up to 200 C / 400 F.

Next take some of the barbecue sauce and spread it evenly over the ribs, don't use it all as you want to do this basting method another two times. When both racks are nicely coated put them back into the hotter oven and cook for 10 minutes before removing and repeating the basting. Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes and then baste again, this time cooking for a further 15 minutes.

Take the racks out of the oven
- they should be burnished but still a bit sticky. Let cool for a little while before cutting into individual ribs and serving (with lots of napkins).

Roseanne Cash's Potato Salad
(Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Serves about 8 people, so you may want to halve the recipe

Potato Salad Ingredients
1 kg red skinned potatoes, cut into roughly 1.5 inch chunks
6 pickled cucumber sticks, roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped small
4 eggs, hard boiled and roughly chopped
200g mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp dill, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Potato Salad Method
Boil the potato in salted water until tender but not falling apart - about ten minutes - then drain and place in a large bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes before adding all the other ingredients and mixing well but triyng not to break up the potatoes too much. .

Cover with cling film and leave to stand for an hour so the flavours can develop. Serve with the barbecue ribs and enjoy a taste of a gone too soon Summer!

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanna Cash's Potato Salad - The Inky Kitchen

I apologise that there is only one photo of the ribs and the potato salad, I appear to have chosen two recipes that are exceedingly difficult to photograph.

The potato salad recipe makes enough for at least 8 people whereas the ribs will serve 4, so you can either halve the recipe or refrigerate the leftovers to eat the next day like I did.

Full fat mayo tastes the best in the salad, but you can use light - the dill and mustard still give it lots of flavour. Please don't use extra light, that stuff tastes like jellied egg whites and has an awful texture.

Because I am slightly ridiculous, I didn't think the ribs and potato salad alone would be enough food so I also grilled us some lovely locally grown corn cobs on my George Foreman. I got them from Loughborough market and they were amazing but unnecessary!

Oven Roasted Root Beer Barbecue Ribs with Roseanna Cash's Potato Salad - The Inky Kitchen

Monday, 6 September 2010

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi - The Inky Kitchen

Fennel is a new obsession of mine, although to be honest I am yet to do anything more adventurous with it than roast it or use it in this very recipe. I love love love the fresh aniseedy taste, such an unusual flavour for a savoury dish but such a wonderful one that I have loved since first trying it back in February on Pete and I's first anniversary. It is that meal that this dish is loosely based around - a chicken breast stuffed with a mushroom duxelle and wrapped in parma ham, served with roasted sweet potatoes and a creamy white wine and fennel sauce.

We had gone to dinner at a Loughborough restaurant called Browns Lane which I have been going to under it's several different names for about the last ten years. It has always been amazing, and I suggest if you live in Charnwood you check it out one lunch or dinner time. I think it is very reasonably priced for the quality of food you are served and the decor is nice and simple, the eating area being on the first floor while there is a bar (that serves lovely cocktails) on the ground. I like it so much that as I have organised my work's Christmas party this year I have arranged for it to be there. This festive season will most definately be full of deliciousness!

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi - The Inky Kitchen

Back to this recipe however, I am aware that quite a lot of people don't like fennel. If this is the case in your household then either replace it with just 50g of finely chopped celery or leave it out altogether. It will still taste heavenly. I'm pretty sure you'd have to try very hard to make garlic, cream and chicken taste bad. I'd like to think my recipes are more like blueprints for you to amend as you please - that's the real joy of cooking after all.

The little potatoey 'dumplings' are fab with this dish, soaking up the velvety sauce and acting like tiny little garlic breads! I know it seems like a lot of work to make the gnocchi them from scratch but it's not hard at all. Two ingredients! That's all! And a little kneading never hurt anyone, or gentle fork squashing! But I suppose if you really don't want to do it you could just use the store bought variety, just make your own next time OK?

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi - The Inky Kitchen

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi
Serves 2 greedy, or 3 less greedy people as a main course

Garlic Roasted Gnocchi Ingredients
500g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 2 inch chunks
200g good quality plain flour, preferably Italian 00
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
2 fairly big cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil

Creamy Chicken and Fennel Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced into short thin lengths
100g fennel, sliced into short thin lengths
10 fresh sage leaves
2 large chicken breasts, cut into fairly small chunks
3 tbsp white wine
1 chicken stock cube
70g chestnut mushrooms, cut into fairly small chunks
150ml double cream

Garlic Roasted Gnocchi Method
Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F.

Place the potatoes into a large pot of boiling water and cook until just tender - when you push a knife into one you want it to go in with very little give and for the potato to not fall apart - this took ten minutes for me. Remove from the heat and drain well, then either push through a potato ricer or mash until very very smooth - lumps will be very apparent in the gnocchi.

Leave them to cool for a few minutes and then add the flour, salt and pepper and mix together. When it is combined place it on to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until it has come together well and has a more dough like consistency. Next divide the ball into four and roll each one into a long sausage shape that is about 2cm thick, before cutting into 2.5cm lengths and pressing a fork gently into each one to create four indents. Set these aside in a bowl while you bring a large pan of salty water to the boil.

Boil the gnocchi in batches being careful not to overcrowd the pan so they don't stick together. The gnocchi are cooked when they float to the surface of the water. Remove them from the pan and let dry out a little on some kitchen towel. When they have all been boiled and dried off place them in a deep sided baking tray and pour over the olive oil and crushed garlic, then mix gently so as not to break them up and put them in the oven to cook while you make the cremay chicken. They will take anywhere between 20-30 minutes depending on your oven heat - you want them golden and crispy, it helps to give them a stir every ten minutes or so.

Creamy Chicken and Fennel Method
Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan and then cook off the onion and fennel for a few minutes until they become slightly translucent, then add the sage leaves and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Next add the diced chicken and cook until it is coloured all over and no more raw pink meat is visible before adding the white wine and crumbling over the stock cube. Give everything a good stir and then add the chopped mushrooms. Let them soften for a minute or so before stirring them in and cooking for another 7 or 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked through - check by cutting a piece in half and making sure it is white all the way through. Now pour over the double cream and raise the heat slightly, cooking for another 5-10 minutes while stirring frequently so the sauce thickens a bit.

By now the gnocchi should be roasted so plate it up, then pour over the lovely creamy chicken concoction and enjoy!

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi - The Inky Kitchen

I used red Rooster potatoes for this recipe as they are pretty waxy and have a lovely flavour. They're currently my favourite spud!

I think this recipe would also work really well with pork chunks instead of the chicken. Pork and sage is a great combination. Adding a little apple to the sauce would be lovely too I think.

Once again, I would not condone eating this regularly - so much starch and cream is really not good for you, but once in a while in moderation I'd say it's alright to treat yourself to something delicious and calorific! It's a very rich dish too, so I don't think I could eat it regularly if I tried!!!

Creamy Chicken and Fennel with Handmade Garlic Roasted Gnocchi - The Inky Kitchen