Rustic steak and mushroom pie

Rustic steak and mushroom pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets shortcrust pastry
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 800g beef rump steak (with most fat removed), diced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup liquid vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2009)
  • 2 tabs salt-reduced gravy powder (roast beef flavour, or similar)
  • 1 tab cornflour
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (fan-forced) or 200° C (convection).
  2. Grease and flour a pie dish. If using frozen pastry, put the sheets out to thaw.
  3. Place a sheet of shortcrust pasty in the dish. Fill in any gaps with the second pastry sheet.
  4. Trim the pastry in the dish, leaving a 2 cm overhang.
  5. Cover with baking paper, and use either pastry beads or rice to weigh down the pastry.
  6. Blind bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Dice the onion and fry in a pan until soft and clear.
  8. Add the meat and wine to the pan. Cook until just brown, then add the mushrooms.
  9. Allow meat to cook for a further 2 minutes at low heat, stirring occasionally.
  10. Without draining the pan, scoop out the meat, mushrooms and onion and set aside.
  11. In the same pan, add gravy powder to the remaining liquid and stir.
  12. Add vegetable stock gradually, stirring constantly, until desired consistency is achieved.
  13. Taste and check if the gravy needs salt. Add pepper (and salt if required).
  14. If gravy is not thickening scoop some liquid from the pan to a cup, add the cornflour and stir until smooth. Return the liquid to the pan and stir well.
  15. Once gravy is thick, return the meat mixture to the pan and stir until combined.
  16. Pour the meat and gravy mixture into the pie crust.
  17. Place a puff pastry sheet on top of the pie (you may need 2 sheets to cover the pie).
  18. Trim edges and push them down with the prongs of a fork.
  19. Cut leftover puff pastry into 3 leaf shapes, and place in centre of pie to decorate.
  20. Use a skewer to make a hole in the middle of the pie for air to escape.
  21. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  22. Allow pie to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate chilli cheesecake (no-bake)

Chocolate chilli cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups chocolate biscuit crumbs
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 500g Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 2 tabs instant coffee
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 100g milk chocolate melts, melted and cooled slightly
  • 100g milk Lindt Excellence dark chocolate with chilli, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ cup thickened cream, softly whipped
  • Extra chocolate or cocoa powder, to decorate

Method:

  1. Grease a 20cm springform pan.
  2. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter; then press mixture into the base of the pan and refrigerate.
  3. Beat the cream cheese, condensed milk and spices with an electric mixer until just combined.
  4. Dissolve the coffee in the water, followed by the gelatine powder. Stir until completely dissolved.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and gelatine/coffee to the cream cheese mixture; beat until smooth.
  6. Gently fold through the cream.
  7. Pour the mixture over the prepared base. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
  8. Grate chocolate over the top to decorate, or dust with cocoa powder. Slice and serve.

Heart-shaped strawberry hand pies

Heart-shaped strawberry hand pies

Ingredients:

  • Perfect pastry dough (see the recipe)
  • 3 cups strawberries, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 6 tabs raw sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tabs Chambord, or other berry liqueur (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tab water
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, to decorate
  • Freshly whipped cream, to serve

Fresh strawberries

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200° C. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar, berry liqueur and vanilla until sugar dissolves and strawberries disintegrate.
  3. Drain some excess juice (approximately 1/4 cup) from the saucepan to a small bowl; return the saucepan to the heat.
  4. Add cornflour to the separated juice; stir until completely mixed. Add cornflour mix to the saucepan and stir until strawberry mixture is thick; remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the prepared pastry dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
  6. Use a 6 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut heart shapes in the pastry. Roll out the remaining half of the dough and repeat. Form any excess dough back into a ball, roll out and cut again until dough is used up.
  7. Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl; lightly brush around each heart.
  8. On half of the hearts only, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooled strawberry filling.
  9. Cover each ‘filled’ heart with one of the remaining hearts; use a fork to gently press the edges together to seal. Pierce the top of each pie with a sharp skewer to allow steam to escape.
  10. Brush the tops of each pie with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown.
  11. Cool the pies on a wire rack, then use a sieve to dust them with icing sugar.
  12. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Perfect flaky pastry

Perfect flaky pastry

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 tabs caster sugar
  • 170g cold (hard) butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup cold (hard) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Method:

  1. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the flour and sugar. Pulse until combined.
  2. Add the butter and hard coconut oil. Pulse until the butter cubes are pea-sized.
  3. Using a low processer speed, pour the ice water down the processor feeder. Pulse until the dough begins to form a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll into a ball. If some dry flour remains, just sprinkle it with a little more water and knead until combined with the ball.
  5. For pies with a top and bottom crust, cut the dough in half; otherwise leave whole. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for no less than thirty minutes.

Jalapeño chicken soup with lime

Jalapeño chicken soup with lime

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 500g chicken breasts, fat removed
  • 2 jalapeños (or 3 if you like it hot!)
  • ½ small red onion
  • 2 x 400g cans white beans (I use cannellini beans)
  • 1 cup of salsa verde (see the recipe)
  • 3 limes
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil in a large pot. Add the raw chicken breasts to the hot liquid; cover and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat but leave the lid on so that the chicken continues cooking. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and check to make sure there is no pink in the centre of the chicken breasts. Remove the cooked chicken from the hot liquid and set aside to cool.
  2. If you are making the salsa verde, do this now (see the recipe).
  3. Mince the jalapeño and onion in a food processor. Once finely chopped, add it to the pot of chicken broth, along with the white beans and salsa verde. Cover and leave it to simmer over medium heat.
  4. Use two forks to shred the cooled chicken breasts, then return them to the pot.
  5. Stir the soup, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, squeeze the juice of one lime into the pot.
  7. Cut the remaining limes into wedges for serving.
  8. Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro, with a side of lime wedges.

Salsa verde

Salsa verde

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt

Method:

  1. Place basil, parsley, capers and garlic in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
  2. Add oil and lemon juice to herb mixture. Process until well combined.
  3. Season with sea salt and pepper. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Note:  This is great as a pasta sauce, or as a flavour booster in soups.

Mini hamburger cupcakes

Mini hamburger cupcakes

For these cupcakes I like to use mini whoopie pie tins as they are the perfect shape for burger buns and beef patties. For larger cakes you could use regular whoopie pie tins.

Ingredients for the burger buns (vanilla butter cake):

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 150g butter, cubed
  • 55ml (2/3 cup) milk
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • Butter for greasing

Ingredients for the beef patties (chocolate cake):

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 75g butter, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sifted
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • Butter for greasing

Ingredients (for decoration):

  • 6 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g butter, softened
  • Red, yellow and green food colouring
  • Yellow fondant
  • Sesame seeds

Method for the burger buns (vanilla butter cake):

  1. Position a rack on the second lowest shelf of the oven. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease the whoopie pie tins.
  3. Place the self-raising flour, plain flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs and vanilla essence in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix on low speed with an electric beater for 30 seconds or until just combined. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is thick and the butter is combined.
  5. Using a spoon or a piping bag, drop small amounts into each of the whoopie pie sections. Spread if necessary so the filling fills the space and is slightly hollow/sunken.
  6. Bake until the little cakes are just golden (approx. 5 minutes).
  7. Remove from oven and turn the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Method for the beef patties (chocolate cake):

  1. Position a rack on the second lowest shelf of the oven. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease the whoopie pie tins.
  3. Combine sugar, butter, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 2 minutes or until mixture doubles. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Add flour and eggs. Using an electric mixer, beat mixture until pale and smooth.
  5. Using a spoon or a piping bag, drop small amounts into each of the whoopie pie sections (make half as many chocolate cakes as you did vanilla). Spread if necessary so the filling fills the space and is slightly hollow/sunken.
  6. Bake until the little cakes have risen slightly (approx. 5 minutes).
  7. Remove from oven and turn the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Method (to assemble the burger and decorate):

  1. Mix 2 cups of the sifted icing sugar with 50g of the softened butter and, if necessary, just enough water to make a thick icing. You want a dark bright green colour, so add at least 6 drops of green food colouring. Add more if necessary, until you have reached a ‘lettuce’ colour.
  2. Use a ruffle, basket-weave or specialty tip when piping the lettuce. Fill the piping bag with the icing, take half the cooled vanilla whoopie pies, and ice them just around the edge using jagged motions to achieve the ruffled edge appearance of lettuce. After each one, while the icing is still wet, quickly add one of the chocolate whoopie pies on top to sandwich the ‘lettuce’ between the ‘bun’ and the ‘beef patty’.
  3. Roll out the yellow fondant to a few millimetres thick, and cut out tiny right-angled triangles, to make four points of ‘cheese’. On four sides of the chocolate whoopie pie, add a drop of icing (to serve as glue) and stick one of the fondant triangles to each drop (right-angle corner point out).
  4. Mix 2 cups of the sifted icing sugar with the remaining softened butter, and if necessary, just enough water to make a thick icing. You want a bright red colour, so add at least 4 drops of red food colouring. Add more if necessary, until you have reached a vibrant ‘tomato’ colour.
  5. Using another clean piping bag with a round tip, pipe the red icing between the yellow points to look like tomato slices. It doesn’t matter if the icing dribbles a little bit (it will look like tomato sauce), as long as you cover any consistencies with the yellow fondant and icing that may be visible after the top ‘bun’ is added.
  6. After each one, while the icing is still wet, quickly add the final vanilla whoopie pies on top to sandwich the ‘cheese’ and ‘tomato’ between the ‘beef patty’ and the ‘bun’.
  7. Take a small amount of sesame seeds, and press them onto the top of each bun.

Here is a diagram to help you assemble the cupcakes:

Assembling the hamburger cupcakes

Voilà! Beautiful mini hamburger cupcakes!

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