Sunday, 30 January 2011

Rhubarb and Custard Cameo Cupcakes & a Brand New Blog Layout!

Hello there! It's been a while hasn't it? Far too long I say, but I'm back now and as The Inky Kitchen has had a bit of a facelift I thought it was only right to celebrate with some delicious cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes either, cupcakes that celebrate two of my favourite things - rhubard and custard sweets and Victorian cameo jewellery.

If you're British and born pre-1990 then you will surely remember those little magenta and buttercup coloured boiled sweets, both tart and creamy at the same time , glistening in big plastic jars on corner shop shelves. Their flavour is such a strong childhood memory to myself and so many others, just like the cupcake, so what better than combining the two into one special teatime treat.

Obviously the white chocolate cameos are not mandatory, I was just itching to use my new mould, but if you would like to you can buy the mould here. I bought the little sugar pearls from this online shop where I buy a lot of my baking supplies including edible glitter, cupcake cases and cookie cutters.

I would love to know what you think of the new layout too, do let me know!

Rhubard and Custard Cupcakes
Makes 16-20 depending on case size
Recipe adapted from Cupcakes by Martha Stewart

Rhubard Cupcake Ingredients
125g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
115g sour cream, room temperature
2 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small chunks

Custard Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
120ml milk
75g (one sachet) Bird's custard powder
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
a few drops of pink food colouring, if using

White Chocolate Cameos
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
plastic cameo mould as shown above

Cupcakes Method
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then add the vanilla extract. Add half the flour, baking powder and soda and pinch of salt and mix well, then add the sour cream. Now add the second half of the flour and mix until just combined, before gently stirring in the diced rhubarb.

Divide between the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops spring back when touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Cameo Method
Melt half of the chopped chocolate in the microwave or over a water bath, then remove from the heat and beat in the rest of the chopped chocolate. This is a very easy way of 'tempering' the chocolate so that it has a nice shiny finish when set again.

Carefully spoon the chocolate into the voids in the mould and then tap several times on your worktop to remove any trapped air bubbles. Refrigerate until needed.

Buttercream Method
Heat four tablespoons of the milk until just boiling, and then whisk in the custard powder, set aside to cool a little. Beat the butter and vanilla extract and then add the cooled custard paste along with the rest of the cold milk and the food colouring if using. Beat until well combined and then start adding the icing sugar. You may not need it all, just keep adding and mixing until you get the desired consistency.

Spread or pipe over the frosting and then add your decorations.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Aubergine and Parmesan Involtini

Aubergines are very much one of those love or hate foods. Some people are not fond of the taste and some of the texture, I must admit that undercooked solid aubergine is one of the most repugnant things I've ever eaten. When done right though I love it, and most often this is sliced thinly, brushed with good olive oil and grilled both sides before being sprinkled with salt, a little garlic oil and something delicious like chopped fresh herbs, a finely chopped red chilli or crumbled feta cheese. This is pretty much the only way I ever eat them aside from in a moussaka, so when I saw them in the veg aisle yesterday I snapped one up and challenged myself to come up with something new.

It was actually while reading that I was inspired to make this recipe when someone mentioned involtini (meaning "little bundles") - thin slices of beef wrapped around a filling usually including parmesan cheese, nuts and breadcrumbs. I'm sure I have seen someone doing it with aubergine slices before, probably my beloved Nigella, but I wanted my filling to be a little different with a slightly sharper taste to contrast the nicely bland wrapping. If I want to add sharpness to something, I inevitably add balsamic vinegar. I have a big thing for its sweet tartness and glug it into most soups I make, and also drizzle it over filled pastas with a little extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe is for one as a main meal or would make a nice starter for two people along with a little baby spinach salad on the side. It is vegetarian, but if you are a determined carnivore like my boyfriend you could always go the traditional way using beef or pork slices rather than the aubergine.

Aubergine and Parmesan Involtini
Serves 1

60g glutinous rice (such as arborio or sushi rice)
200ml hot water
1/2 stock cube of your choice
1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
6 mushrooms, finely diced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp parmesan, grated
1 aubergine, sliced lengthways about 3/4 cm thick
2 tbsp olive oil

Place the rice, water and stock cube in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes until the rice is cooked through and of a risotto like texture. Set aside.

In a seperate saucepan heat the oil, onion, garlic and rosemary until the onion is translucent and softened, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Now add the balsamic vinegar, stir in well and then add the butter, stirring until melted in and combined. Remove from the heat, add the rice and parmesan and mix well before setting aside while you grill the aubergines.

Brush the remaining olive oil over both sides of the aubergine slices and cook pereferably on either a grill pan or on a health grill to get the desired char lines. If you don't have either of these don't worry, just use a frying pan but don't add any more oil. The aubergine is cooked when the flesh has darkened in colour and the slices have become soft and flexible.

When cooked, place a heaped spoonfull of the rice mixture onto one end of an aubergine slice and gently rolls it up. Lay onto your plate join side down and spritz with a squirt of lemon juice just before serving.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

I WANT WEDNESDAY - A Tease's Tea Set by Tina Tsang

OK, I realise these delightfully cheeky pieces do not come cheap, but have you ever seen such lovely tea party ephemera?

Blaue Blume Milk Jug - £40.34

If I was rich, and to have any birthday party I would like, I would choose a tea party using only this crockery, with sweets, cakes and pastries from Ladurée, a selection of teas from Metrodeco (thankyou Alex D!) and gorgeous burlesque beauties to entertain my guests.

You know what makes these lovely wares even lovelier? The shoes come in three different colours! Red, black or GOLD. The petit four stand going at the top of my birthday list!

This beautiful ice cream bowl is my second favourite piece. Your ice cream sits in the upturned ladies' skirt, and you remove her shapely legs which are your spoon.

Sigh. Pure porcelain perfection....

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Pistachio, Rosemary and Red Onion Pizza

Like many dishes I cook, this was inspired by a tv show. I am an avid Food Network fan, one of my favourite shows being The Best Thing I Ever Ate, wherein famous US tv chefs tell us about their favourite restaurant dishes. There was recently an episode on pizzas broadcast which included the 'Rosa' from Pizzeria Bainco in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a super thin crist topped with red onion, parmigiano reggiano, rosemary and Arizona pistachios and looked superb. Needless to say, I felt a great urge to cook it, and so I did.

I fail to see how anything could fail to be delicious and beautiful with the addition of pistachio nuts. They work so well with the red onion, and my addition of a little mozzarella adds additional creaminess and that cheesy stringiness I find so intrinsic to a good pizza.

The dough recipe I used was by (heaven forbid) Anthony Worral Thompson, and I have to admit is a very good one, but do remember that the dough has to be left for a few hours to prove and then again for a little while to rest before shaping. Also, try and get it as thin as possible and make sure to keep an eye on it while it's cooking. As there is no sauce you need to make sure you don't crisp it up too much or your pizza will be dry and the delicate flavours lost.

Pistachio, Rosemary and Red Onion Pizza
Serves 2

Pizza Dough Ingredients
175 ml water, lukewarm
1 packet (7g) active dried yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
275g strong white flour
pinch of salt

Topping Ingredients
a little extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
75g mozzarella, grated
50g parmesan cheese, grated
50g pistachio nuts, shelled and finely chopped
1-2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely sliced

Pizza Dough Method
Pour 75ml of the lukewarm water into a jug and mix in the yeast, then place in a warm place for 10 minutes (I put mine next to a radiator. Stir in the olive oil.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix until just combined and then knead together on a floured surface until you get a nice elastic dough. Oil a large bowl lightly and place the dough in it, then cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours by which time the dough should have doubled in size.

Remove from the bowl and knead again until smooth, then set aside on a tray to rest for a little while before shaping - about half an hour.

You now want to shape the dough - flatten it with your fingers onto a floured surface, then drape over your fist and gently stretch it from the outside edge. When you have got the required shape place it on an oven tray dusted lightly with semolina or flour.

Finishing The Pizza
Preheat the oven to the hottest temperature it will reach.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the pizza base, then sprinkle over the mozzarella and parmesan. Now evenly strew over the pistachio nuts and rosemary before laying on as many slices of red onion as you desire.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn. You want the base to be cooked but not to scorch the nuts, cheese or onions.

Serve with a dressed salad or a bowl of good soup.