Monday, April 30, 2007

Banoffee Pie

A long time ago I had banoffee ice cream, I think it was from Häagen-Dazs but it could have been Ben and Jerry's also. Later I found out it was based on a pie and I made one yesterday.
It was a big hit and not as filling as we'd expected, even my brother loved it and he's kind of picky with new things. Here's how I did it:

Banoffee Pie

1 tin of condensed milk (400 gr)
150 grams of digestive biscuits
75 grams of butter
3 large bananas
250 ml whipping cream
some dark chocolate to grate over the pie

Put the can in a pan filled with water and boil it for 4 hours, make sure that the can stays submerged all the time, otherwise the can may explode! Let it cool down. The milk has turned in to toffee.

Put the biscuits in a ziploc bag and hit them with a rolling pin until you have only crumbs left.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the crumbs and spread this mixture evenly in a pie tin. Let this cool down in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Spread the toffee over the crumb crust.

Peal the bananas and slice them, spread over the toffee layer.

Top this with whipped cream, I added a little icing sugar for sweetness and grated dark chocolate on top for decoration.
This is the end result.

First Flower

The first flower on my chile plants opened today, it's on one of the jalapenos, I hope I'll have chiles soon, but with the warm weather we have at the moment I'm pretty sure they will do very well :-)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Planting On

Everybody in my family loves Mexican dishes and some of the family (including myself) love mega spicy food. Here we have only a limited variety of chiles available so I started three years ago to grow my own.
That year I grew "Spanish peppers" (the local cayenne variety), jalapenos and orange habanero peppers. The Spanish ones ended up in my regular cooking, the jalapenos while green in Mexican dishes and the red ones I smoked in the barbecue for about 7 hours over mesquite wood than dried them further in my dehydrator to make chipotles. Most of the Mexican peppers have different names the moment you dry them.
The orange habaneros I dried and ground into chile powder, except for the first one which I cut in half and my nephew and I both ate it raw. It took a lot of milk to cool things down :-)
Last year I grew other varieties but my neighbor over watered them when I was on vacation so that was pretty much the end of them.

This year I have Jalapenos, Rocotos, Chocolate Habaneros and Long Shengs. Long Sheng isn't the actual name of these peppers but I got a big bag of dried chiles when we were in Long Sheng, China, I couldn't figure out their real name so I just named them after that place. they look like our local cayennes but are a lot hotter.

Today I planted some of the jalapenos on to their final pots, 25 cm. I hope this will stimulate them to produce more chillies than the first year, I had them in way smaller pots than.

The first year I also used regular soil, now I use a mixture of 5 parts soil, 1 part perlite and 1 part vermucelite (available at your local reptile store :-) ). The vermucelite keeps a lot of moisture, the perlite adds a lot of air to the soil. This way the soil doesn't dry out as fast and the roots get a lot of air which they need to grow better.

The first flower buds are almost open, I will post more pictures when there are fruits.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chocolate Truffle Tarts

While surfing the net I found this recipe on Vicious Ange's blog, I'm crazy about chocolate and decided to give it a try.
Our local supermarket discontinued Oreo cookies and I couldn't find any reasonable alternative so I made the pie crust from scratch. I don't have 8 cm tart pans so I used 4 12 cm ones. You can only eat half :-)
As Ange states on her blog the filling is way too much for the tarts, we used it the next day over pineapple slices and topped with some whipped cream!

Here's my version of the recipe:

225 grams flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
150 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold water

300 ml whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 grams dark (over 70%) chocolate, roughly chopped
300 grams raspberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar
cocoa powder to dust the tarts

Making the crust:
Preheat your oven at 190 C.
First sift the flour and cocoa, cut in the butter and add enough water to make a smooth dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, roll out and put in the buttered tart pans. Cover the dough with parchment paper and blind filling (I use beans for that) and bake for 15 minutes, remove the filling and parchment paper and bake for another 10 minutes. cool down completely.

The filling:
Heat 200 ml cream in a pan with the vanilla extract and bring just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stir until dissolved and let this mixture cool down.

Crush half of the raspberries with a fork, and spread over the tart bases, fill the bases with the chocolate mixture. Cover and freeze for an hour or two. (Take them out of the freezer a half hour before serving.)

Combine the icing sugar and remaining raspberries with a fork until the sugar dissolves. Press the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the seeds (next time I make them I will do that for the filling too). Whip the remaining cream and swirl through the berry puree.
Dust the tarts with cocoa powder and top with the berry cream.

Everybody here loved them, but we all agreed that they were way too big :-) They could also be very nice with cherries soaked in brandy instead of the raspberries!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I finally did it!

I love barbecue, I love to barbecue and until now I used my trusty weber kettle for that. But it's hard to maintain a low steady temperature for a long time on a regular barbecue.
So I ordered a WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker) today. I wanted one for quite a while but the reason I waited for a long time was mainly a financial one. In the US these babies go for $199 and if you are lucky a lot cheaper on sale. Here the regular price is €449, at the current rate $610!! But yesterday when I checked the local online barbecue store they had them on sale for €299, which is still $406 but I thought what the heck let's get one! So now it's waiting for it to arrive, put it together and start with all the great recipes I have laying around.
A great place to find info on this smoker is the Virtual Weber Bulletin Board, They have lots of info on modifications, recipes etc.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hello World

Just a little test to see if this is working.