Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quince and Almond Crumble

quince crumble

We’re now well and truly into winter here in Sydney. I usually sound like a little ridiculous whinging about our relatively mild winters, but it has been truly cold the last few days! Sydney city has been having record low temperatures, but it’s been even colder where I live, as low as 1°C when I’ve left the house in the mornings. There’s frost on the windows and the grass, and a couple of nights where the temperature has dipped below zero. But as much as I’m willing the short days and frosty nights to be over as soon as possible, there’s also a lot to love about winter. Inspired by MAV and her summertime list, here are a few of the things I’m most looking forward to:

Fireplaces, soup, cup after cup of green tea, buying new boots, whiskey, sleeping in, chocolate fondant, baking all weekend, wearing my favourite red coat, cuddles with the boy, self-saucing puddings, lunchtime walks in the sunshine, Sunday roast, cosy restaurants, comfort food, polka dot gumboots, hot chocolate and churros, Rutherglen Muscat, reading in bed, red nail polish, homemade baked beans, Christmas in July, crumbles, quinces.

quince. vanilla. bay leaf (177/365)

You’d be crazy not to cook with quince in winter. I only discovered them last year, but they are already one of my favourite fruits. They can’t be eaten raw, as the fruit is quite hard and sour, but when cooked slowly for a long time they turn a magical ruby red. The taste is somewhat like an apple or a pear, but more beautiful and floral. They can be used in many kinds of desserts as you would expect, but I’ve also eaten them cooked with duck, which was delicious!

Crumbles are one of my favourite desserts in winter, and I found this fantastic recipe on a great blog called The British Larder, where the quinces in the filling were poached with vanilla and bay leaf. I was definitely intrigued by the combination. The smell coming from my kitchen as the quinces were cooking was divine, and it tasted beautiful. I used my usual almond crumble topping, and served warm with a big scoop of ice cream, this is the ultimate winter dessert.

quince crumble

Quince and Almond Crumble
Adapted from The British Larder
Serves 4

Topping (you will probably have some leftover, which you can keep in the freezer until next time)
• ¾ cup plain flour
• ½ cup almonds with skin
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• Pinch salt
• 65g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
• 200g caster sugar
• 150ml water
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 quinces

For the topping, place flour, almonds and brown sugar in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse until just blended. Coarsely crumble in a shallow baking tray and chill for 1 hour.

For the filling, place the sugar, water, vanilla seeds and bean, bay leaf and lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil over very low heat. Let the syrup boil for 2 minutes and then start to prepare the quinces.

Peel and core the quince, cut into 1cm cubes and place into the hot syrup. Half cover the saucepan with the lid, allowing the steam to escape. Slowly poach the quinces over low heat so that they retain their shape but cook at the same time. Once the quinces are tender, turn off the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and place 4 espresso cups on a baking tray. Spoon the quince mixture evenly into the cups. Sprinkle with crumble topping. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotate tray and bake for another 10 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Cool to warm or room temperature and serve with ice cream or custard.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

lemon poppyseed cake

Hooray! I’ve finally managed to cross off another recipe from the “To Make” list, approximately two and a half years after I first put it there. Even though there are several hundred things on there, it still feels good to cross something off. I’ve mentioned my list-making tendencies before, but these days I need lists to keep track of my lists, and I’d be absolutely lost without them. These days, I carry a notebook wherever I go, always on hand to scribble things down, and I must make the people sitting next to me on the train hungry while I brainstorm dessert ideas.

But back to the cake. I first saw this in a Jamie Oliver cookbook and fell in love with the photographs. He said this recipe belonged to his Nan, and it got me thinking about my grandmothers. From the way that my Nanna always had a tin of biscuits waiting for us when we would come over for our weekly piano lesson, and picking lemons, figs and pomegranates from her garden, or the way she would pipe icing onto my finger when she was decorating a cake.

lemon poppyseed cake (14th June)

Or how I would help my other Nan make self-saucing chocolate puddings, dipping my little fingers into the green bowl that now resides in my cupboard and makes me think of her every time I open it. Simple, comforting things and memories I’ll have forever, and for some reason it’s the memories of food that resonate most strongly. I hope that one day, my grandkids will form the same kind of memories too. Maybe I’ll even make them this cake.

Coming from Jamie, I knew this recipe would have a big lemony kick and it didn’t disappoint with the delicious lemon flavour coming through in all the different components – the cake itself, the syrup and the icing. The ground almonds were a really nice addition to the flavour and texture of the cake, and I really liked the slight crunch from the poppy seeds in every bite. It’s a great afternoon tea cake, so serve alongside a cup of your favourite tea.

lemon poppy seed cake

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Serves 8-10

• 115g unsalted butter, softened
• 115g caster sugar (I used leftover lemon sugar)
• 4 large eggs
• 180g ground almonds
• 30g poppy seeds
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Zest and juice of 2 lemons
• 125g self-raising flour, sifted

Lemon Syrup
• 100g caster sugar
• 90ml lemon juice

Lemon Icing
• 225g icing sugar
• Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform cake with non-stick baking paper.

Using an electric whisk, beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating each in well. Fold in the ground almonds, poppy seeds, lemon zest and juice and the sifted flour. Transfer the mix into the prepared baking tin and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. Allow the cake to cool on a rack.

Make the lemon syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. While the cake is still warm, make lots of little holes in the top with a cocktail stick and pour your syrup over.

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon zest and juice, stirring until smooth. When your cake is almost cool, put it on a serving plate and pour the icing carefully over the top. If you pour it onto the middle of the cake, then let gravity disperse the icing down the sides, you get the drizzle effect.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PB&J Cakewich

PBJ cakewich

Since I started blogging, I’ve noticed a change in my shopping habits. I don’t just lust over shoes as I used to, instead it’s plates and props, and unusual baking ingredients! Who knew there were so many types of baking pans and cupcake liners. Shopping online is even more dangerous! Steph and I put through a rather large Urban Outfitters order, which resulted in us purchasing much cool stuff, but most excitingly, I bought what is known as a Cakewich pan.

cakewich pan

I mean, a cake in the shape of a giant sandwich? Yes please. The slogan is “the only thing better than sliced bread is cake” and I couldn’t agree more. There’s an inherent novelty value, and I had to have it. And with my birthday around the corner, the timing couldn’t have been better. I’ve always loved peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, so I decided to make the recipe on the box to start with, however there are endless flavour combinations for other cakewiches that I can’t wait to try out! Imagine giant fairy bread! And one day I’d also love to make an actual sandwich shaped loaf of bread.

The cake itself was a little more dense than I thought it would be, especially considering it contained 6 eggwhites, but it was still pretty tasty. Next time I think I would use a chiffon cake for a lighter texture. I really liked the peanut butter frosting, it was easy to make and delicious. I think I’ll use it on other cakes! The silicone pan is fabulous, and the cake popped out easily without sticking. The original recipe gave the butter measured in cups, which is a pet hate of mine, but I’ve converted to grams below. The Cakewich was definitely a novelty, fun to make and fun to eat, and fun to come up with crazy cake concepts!

cakewich (20th June)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cakewich
Recipe adapted from the box
Served 6-8

Cake
• 2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 175g unsalted butter, softened
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 6 large egg whites
• ¾ cup milk

Frosting
• 63g unsalted butter, softened
• Heaping ½ cup creamy peanut butter
• ¾ cup icing sugar
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup fruit jelly, slightly warmed

For the cake, set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 160°C (315°F). Grease the inner bottom surface of your Cakewich pan. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, mixing well with a whisk. Whisk together egg whites and milk in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat vigorously. Reduce the speed to low and add one quarter of the flour, then one third of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Repeat until all ingredients are just combined.

Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the Cakewich pan and smooth the top. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 1 hour, then unmold it to finish cooling right side up.

For the frosting, place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer for several minutes or until just combined. Gradually mix in the icing sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.

To assemble, use a serrated bread knife to slice off the “dome” of the cake, then slice again through the center horizontally. Spread the peanut butter frosting on the first layer of the cake. Spread a thin layer of jelly on top of the frosting. Place the second layer of cake on the first, making sure the cut side is visible. For easier cutting, refrigerate cake for one hour before serving.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Circa, The Prince

circa, the prince

There's one thing Melbourne does better than sport and bad weather. It does really great restaurants. On our final day, we’d ventured to St Kilda for a spot of shopping and had made a booking at Circa, The Prince. I’d heard of this lovely restaurant through an article in Gourmet Traveller in February and after looking at their absolutely beautiful website online, it was on.

The entrance was marked by a spot of astro turf, a nice touch. Up the stairs was the restaurant, and our lovely waitress gave us a quick tour of the other rooms and the balcony before leading us back to the main dining room. Another couple had sat at our table, so we were encouraged to sit anywhere, and picked a nice spot in the corner. I loved the space, and coveted the furniture but what I loved most of all was the fresh herbs and vegetables they had growing in middle of the dining room! Not only did it give a fabulous focal point to the room itself, you know this place is serious about the quality of their produce if they’re growing it themselves! There is also another garden on the rooftop.

circa, the prince

The wine list was impressive, almost like the Gazebos in style, displayed in a ring binder with beautiful artistic dividers for each section by Studio Racket. We picked a gorgeous Riesling that was just lovely with our meal. The menu we were given was actually the dinner menu, not the lunch menu from the website (which has since been updated). A bit odd, and I was a little disappointed as there were a few great dishes I’d wanted to try from the lunch menu like Quail Kiev and the Crispy Shrimp Dumplings with Green Tea salt (which I might just have to try at home with the recipe from GT!)

But there was a lot that took our fancy on this menu, and made the choices difficult! To start we were given a homemade bread roll with lovely Holy Goat’s curd, or the option of butter. The goat’s curd was so lovely with the delicious warm bread.

circa, the prince

We shared an entrée of the Warm Partridge Salad with Rhubarb and Heirloom Vegetables. What really struck me was that every single dish arrived at the table plated differently and so much more beautifully to how I’d expected. The potato “bracelet” was deliciously crispy and the prefect textural contrast to the salad elements. I really loved the rhubarb and the baby vegetables that gave a burst of sweetness. I’d never tried partridge before, but it was perfectly cooked and served as a terrine, along with a confit breast. It was a really lovely way to start the meal, and I would have eaten this whole plate by myself if given the opportunity!

gnocchi with artichoke & creamed spinach

For our mains, I broke the cardinal rule of food blogging and ordered the same as my cousin. But I’m glad I did because it was undoubtedly the highlight dish of the whole trip. It was Potato and Chive Gnocchi with Globe Artichoked and Creamed Spinach, again more beautiful that I’d imagined, a celebration of vegetables, like a garden on a plate. The lightly fried gnocchi sat atop splodges of vibrant green spinach puree.

gnocchi with artichoke & creamed spinach

Scattered around the plate were gorgeous young artichoked, carrots, a lone baby onion and my favourite, crispy confit garlic cloves that tasted sweet and really made the dish into something special. It was lovely, it was fresh, and I haven’t eaten a dish that excited me so much in a while!

winter tart with honeycomb ice cream

Of course, we had to order dessert, and this was a particularly difficult decision as all of the options looked fabulous. We eventually decided on one of their shareable options, the Winter Tart with apples, chestnuts, quince and honeycomb ice cream. The tart was served on a crunchy, buttery biscuit base. The quinces were the perfect shade of blushing pink. But the star of the dish that tied all of the elements together beautifully was the ice cream, studded with generous chunks of melt-in-your-mouth honeycomb. It was gorgeous, and we finished every bite.

The restaurant itself was stunning, I loved the décor and the atmosphere. The tables weren’t too small or too close together. Our waitress was very knowledgeable and could answer all of our questions about the menu without hesitation. This was a fabulous lunch, and a fitting end to a wonderful weekend in Melbourne filled with eating adventures with my beautiful cousin Jess.

Circa, The Prince – 2 Acland St, St Kilda

Circa, the Prince on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rhubarb & Ginger Cordial

rhubarb ginger cordial

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I have quite a few cooking fears. I can bake like a demon and deep-fry with the best of them, I’ve made macarons, a croquembouche and bread galore. But I’ve never attempted making jam, because I freak out about sterilising jars. I also have issues with making cocktails and drinks for some reason. I’ve been bookmarking recipes for ginger beer for months now, but the instructions always sound more like a science experiment and then there’s the whole “bottle may explode” thing to contend with.

rhubarb & ginger cordial

So while those projects sit untouched for now, I’m taking baby steps. When I saw a recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger cordial in Jamie Oliver magazine, the first thought I had was “he stole my idea!” and the second thought was, “well I guess I better make it then.” The flavour combination sounded absolutely fantastic. Rhubarb is in season at the moment, and I already had some fresh ginger at home. The process was much less painful than I thought it would be, and I’m not sure why I was ever concerned about it in the first place.

rhubarb & ginger cordial

I replaced the caster sugar with an equal amount of vanilla sugar that I had for an extra dimension of flavour. This cordial was pretty sweet though, so I would even suggest dialling down the sugar to 150g if you prefer. What I really loved was the subtle ginger flavour. It wasn’t overpowering but it was definitely present and made this a really nice, refreshing drink. Definitely one for rhubarb lovers like me!

I can imagine taking this on picnics in spring to drink alongside a lunch tasty sandwiches, cakes and cookies. And I imagine it would also be absolutely delicious with vodka and lime. Now I’ve made one fantastic cordial, I can’t stop thinking of other flavour combinations that would be fabulous as well. Next up, home-made ginger beer, and hopefully no exploding bottles!

rhubarb & ginger cordial

Rhubarb and Ginger Cordial
Makes about 500ml
Adapted from Jamie Oliver magazine

• 1 orange
• 400g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm pieces
• 150g vanilla sugar (or golden caster sugar)
• 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, sliced
• Soda water or lemonade, to serve

Cut thick strips of orange zest then squeeze the juice into a saucepan. Place the rhubarb with the vanilla sugar, ginger and orange zest in the pan with the juice and set over a high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Place a sieve over a mixing bowl. Carefully press the rhubarb through the sieve with a wooden spoon, pressing down to extract as much of the juice as possible. Discard the solids and allow the juice to cool before pouring it into a sterilised bottle. Chill, then dilute to your taste with soda water or lemonade.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baked Lemon Doughnuts

lemon doughnuts (12th June)

Baked doughnuts. It’s almost an anomaly, like non-alcoholic beer, or decaffeinated coffee! Aren’t doughnuts supposed to be deep-fried to golden brown, and terribly bad for you? I have to admit, I was a little sceptical when I saw the recipe for Lemon and Ricotta Baked Doughnuts in this month’s Gourmet Traveller. But the flavour combination sounded sublime, and so I decided to give them a try anyway. The recipe was not without its problems, which I’ll talk about later, but the best thing about it was actually the fabulous texture of the baked doughnuts!

I decided to make my own ricotta for the recipe, which is actually one of the easiest things you’re ever likely to make in your kitchen. I heated two litres of milk in a saucepan and added a teaspoon of citric acid, which I find is more effective than vinegar or lemon juice. The curds separate, and then all you need to do it scoop them out with a slotted spoon into a muslin-lined sieve and drain in the fridge over a bowl overnight. That is then thrown into a food processor with some sugar, the juice and zest of one lemon and an egg and whizzed until smooth. The mixture was quite runny, and that caused a few problems later on in the recipe.

lemon doughnuts

The dough itself was easy to make, similar to any other sweet, yeasted dough (brioche or cinnamon buns, etc) although the recipe itself was written quite poorly, and I ended up mis-reading it and adding far too much butter, rather than reserving some of it for a later use. But luckily that misstep didn’t cause too many problems as far as I could tell. The dough is left to prove, then rolled out and cut into rounds. I didn’t have 7cm and 8cm cutters as the recipe stated, so I used my 5cm and 6cm cutters to make smaller doughnuts. When I placed a teaspoon of the ricotta filling onto the smaller rounds and tried to press the bigger one down on top of it, the filling oozed out everywhere. I wasn’t sure how much was left in the doughnut itself!

If the filling had been thicker (maybe leaving out the egg would help), this wouldn’t have been an issue. It turned out that there really wasn’t much filling left inside the doughnuts themselves, but I thought they were great even without it! Perhaps you could pipe in the filling after they’re cooked like you would with custard doughnuts. Or omit it completely, I’ll leave it to your own discretion! The doughnuts baked up perfectly into little orbs of fluffy goodness. Not as gorgeous and crispy as deep-fried doughnuts but absolutely delicious nonetheless. The lemon sugar was a fabulous addition, and eating one of these doughnuts was like sunshine for your tastebuds.

I really love making doughnuts, there is something about them that reminds me to have fun when I’m cooking and not to take things too seriously. If you haven’t seen the Doughnut feature in this month’s Gourmet Traveller, check it out! It’s not often that I’m so inspired by the pages of a magazine. All of the recipes look fabulous and I’m looking forward to trying some of the others over the next few weeks. In the words of the Great Homer Simpson, mmmmm doughnuts.

lemon doughnuts

Lemon and Ricotta Baked Doughnuts
Makes 12 large or about 20 small doughnuts
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller

• 750g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 140g raw caster sugar
• 7g dried yeast
• Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
• 250ml (1 cup) lukewarm milk, plus extra for brushing
• 80l (1/3 cup) buttermilk
• 2 eggs, at room temperature
• 30g butter, melted
• Oil, for greasing

Lemon Ricotta Filling
• 250g ricotta
• 55g (1/4 cup) raw caster sugar
• Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 egg

Lemon Sugar
• 1 cup caster sugar
• Finely grated rind of 1 ½ lemons
• 50g butter, melted for dipping

To make the doughnuts, combine flour, sugar, yeast and lemon rind in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix to combine. Whisk together milk, buttermilk, eggs and melted butter and, with motor running, add to flour mixture. Mix on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic (4-5 minutes). Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 – 1½ hours)

Meanwhile, for ricotta lemon filling, process ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until required.

Knock back the dough, turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll to 5mm thick. Cut an equal number of rounds with a 5cm and 6cm round cutter, re-rolling scraps if necessary. Place the smaller rounds 5cm apart on baking trays lined with non-stick paper. Place a heaped teaspoon of lemon ricotta filling in the center of each. Brush edges with milk, cover with larger rounds and press to seal edges well. Trim with a 5cm cutter. Cover and stand in a warm place until risen (1 – 1½ hours)

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Bake doughnuts for 8-10 minutes or until just golden.

For lemon sugar, combine sugar and lemon rind in a bowl. Spread on a tray. Dip hot doughnuts immediately in melted butter and toss in lemon sugar. Serve hot.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Little Creatures, Fitzroy

little creatures

There are a lot of birthdays in June. In my family alone, I share a birthday with a cousin in Queensland, and another cousin Jess has her birthday the day after (she’s a few years older than me). Not to mention several friends whose birthdays also fall that week! Since we’ve never really celebrated together, Jess and I used the excuse to spend a girls’ weekend in Melbourne! I haven’t been there since October 2008 and was long overdue for a visit, so I was very excited about visiting what is probably my favourite city in Australia.

little creatures bar

Saturday was spent in Fitzroy, but with so many fabulous vintage and boutique shops to visit, we came back on Sunday as well! One of my favourite places in Fitzroy is the Little Creatures Dining Hall. I’d been there before, and also to the brewery in Fremantle a few times, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t wait to go back. Shopping is thirsty work and it was high time for a beverage. I had left my camera back at the hotel, so I’m doing something I’ve never done before and using only iPhone photos in a blog post! These were taken using an app called Shake it Photo for the polaroid effect, which I really love.

pipsqueak cider

We started with a Pipsqueak cider each. I’ve been into cider in a big way lately, and this is one of my favourites. Until now I had only tried it bottled, but it tastes even better on tap. And yes, we did order a second cider each later.

burger

For lunch, it was a hard choice between a pizza or the burger special. I’m a big fan of the Little Creatures chips, and that was the deciding factor. For me, the key to a good burger is to have both aioli and sauce and what a good burger this was! And the chips were fabulous as always! Happy sigh. I think my favourite part about them is that the potatoes aren’t peeled, so there’s a very slight chewiness to go along with the lovely crunch.

fish of the day

Jess had the fish of the day, barramundi this time, pan-fried with potatoes and sauce gribiche. She loved the crispy fish and it was a lovely match for the sauce, which I had heard of but never tried. It reminded me of a chunky tartare. It was actually great to see so many Melbourne restaurants offering fabulous vegetarian dishes, and this was one of them.

bill

Unfortunately we had no room for dessert, although the choices were very tempting – a quince and rhubarb crumble or warm cinnamon doughnuts that I’m sure would have been delicious! Our bill was brought out in a second hand book, a quirky touch. Somewhat appropriately we were given a cookbook, where I noticed other tables had vintage novels or children’s books.

little creatures

The Dining Hall is a perfect venue for a casual meal. I think this would be quite a busy, buzzing spot on a Friday or Saturday night and a great place to have a few drinks. The staff are knowledgeable and their friendly attitude adds to the whole appeal. Good food, good beer and good fun, in a city that really understands the value of all three. And if you're so inclined, you can borrow one of the bicycles and ride around the city! What more could you ask for, than for Little Creatures to open a restaurant in Sydney!

Little Creatures Dining Hall - 222 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rhubarb Bougatsa

rhubarb bougatsa

I clearly remember the first time I tried bougatsa, at everyone’s favourite Greek restaurant Perama in Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Petersham (check out their new website, with some of my photos on it!). I’d just eaten my body weight in delicious Greek food, but there was still miraculously room for dessert. The filo wrapped custard parcel was so pretty, delicately flavoured with mandarin and just perfect with the accompanying caramel baklava ice cream. It was a revelation! On subsequent visits, the bougatsa made an appearance every time, but David flavoured them using different seasonal fruits, like passionfruit which really worked well and made this a delicious as well as versatile dessert.

I had some leftover filo pastry from the pomegranate baklava I made recently, and I remembered seeing a recipe for bougatsa in Gourmet Traveller a few months ago. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try it for myself, and what better flavour than rhubarb and custard! The baked semolina custard was a breeze to make. The rolling took a little bit of getting used to at first, but soon it became a methodical kind of process, one step at a time, and I found it quite theraputic, like making pasta.

The little parcels bake up beautifully to a lovely golden brown, with a nice crunch due to the crisp filo pastry. The rhubarb is a lovely addition, and goes nicely with the hint of rosewater in the custard. This recipe is a great starting point for any variety of flavour you can think of – the custard can be modified to include lemon zest or orange blossom water if you like, or perhaps you’d like to try adding raspberry or passionfruit? The choices are endless! One day I’d like to try this recipe with home made filo pastry, but in the meantime it was a lovely and easy dish to make for afternoon tea or dessert!

Rhubarb Bougatsa
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Makes 12

• 1 litre milk
• Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
• 220g (1 cup) caster sugar)
• 90g (1/2 cup) fine semolina
• 4 eggs
• 220g butter, softened
• 2 teaspoons rosewater (optional)
• 12 sheets filo pastry
• 2 thin sticks rhubarb
• Pure icing sugar, to serve

Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Combine the milk, vanilla seeds and half of the sugar in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat to dissolve sugar and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, scatter over the semolina and whisk constantly until mixture just comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and remaining sugar in a bowl until frothy, then gradually add to semolina mixture, whisking well to combine. Add 60g butter and rosewater, stir to combine and pour into rectangular cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 1½ hours or until firm. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until cold. Turn custard out onto a work surface. Cut into 12 even pieces and set aside.

Preheat the oven to to 180°C (350°F). Melt remaining butter. Cut rhubarb into sticks the same length as the custard squares. Working with one sheet of filo at a time, place on a work surface with shortest edge closest to you. Brush with butter and place a piece of semolina custard centered on the edge closest to you. Place 2-3 pieces of rhubarb on top. Fold pastry over custard, brush with butter and roll to enclose. Place seam-side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper and line top with butter. Repeat with remaining custard, filo and rhubarb.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly and sift over icing sugar liberally before serving.

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