Thursday, 15 January 2009

The best stuffed tomatoes - ever!

One of my favourite blogs is Orangette written by a gorgeous woman called Molly. I have probably told you about her before, she takes wonderful pictures and every recipe I have made has become a favourite - like the eggplant curry.

I have a new favourite which Molly demanded everyone make, and if I may be so bossy, I think you all should as well! Rice stuffed tomatoes adapted from Luisa Weiss.

The photo isn't terribly exciting but the flavour (and the ease) of this recipe make them perfect! Yum. I made them a lot before it turned really hot over here in Adelaide. Now, I try to avoid using the oven as pregnancy + heat doesn't mix!

4 large, good-tasting tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
Olive oil
1/3 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup water
5 fresh basil leaves
baby potatoes, sliced into rounds

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Holding them over a bowl, scoop out their insides – flesh, seeds, and juice – and let it all fall into the bowl. Set the tomatoes in a lightly oiled 9”x13” baking dish. Then fish the flesh out of the bowl, and chop it. Return it to the bowl with the juice and seeds.

In a medium saucepan, warm a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add the rice, and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Add the tomato flesh, juice, and seeds – it may look like a lot, but add it all – as well as the water. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces, and add them too. Add a generous pinch or two of salt. Reduce the heat slightly, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, and if needed, add more salt.

Spoon the par-cooked rice mixture into the tomatoes. Top them with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Arrange the potato slices around the tomatoes in the pan. Give everything a good drizzle of olive oil. (You might want to flip and rub the potatoes a bit, to make sure that each has a nice coat of oil.) Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The tomatoes should shrivel a bit and release some of their juices, and the potatoes should cook through.

Cool for 15 minutes or so before eating, so that the tomato juices have time to settle.

Sathya-rating *****

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

December Daring Bakers Challenge - French Yule Log

Its time for Daring Bakers! Yay!

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

I am a little late as I was in a rural part of Australia, Streaky Bay, without access to a computer and I couldn’t do it before we left on 27 December as posting day was 28 December. Hopefully I am not banished for this. We shall see though, as Daring Bakers has become much more organised and regulated in 2009.

This time last year the Daring Bakers made a Yule Log so when I first saw the challenge was a Yule log, I was a little disappointed as I thought it was the same, but I have since learnt that a French Yule Log is very different! I must say, however, that I enjoyed last years much more in taste and preparation.

This recipe took a lot of time and effort to prepare, so please don’t attempt unless you have those 2 things in abundance, which I didn’t at this crazy time of year plus being 7 months pregnant!

Thanks you to Hilda and Marion for hosting Decembers challenge. It can’t be easy to choose a recipe that both hosts are happy with and that they imagine all Daring Bakers will be happy with! Hats off to you ladies!

I think as Daring Bakers we need to be honest and open and give our feedback on these recipes so that is what I will do. I did not enjoy this challenge, preparing or eating it. Disappointing huh? I think it was partly the recipe, and partly me and my kitchen! Firstly, it was about 32C degrees (90F), my kitchen light had blown and I couldn’t change it as the ceilings are so high, my KitchenAid was playing up and finally the batteries in my scales ran out. Humph.

The taste testers enjoyed this though and it looks like many of my fellow Daring Bakers did as well so don’t take too much notice of me. I’m terribly hormonal!

FRENCH YULE LOG RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

80g almond meal
50g icing sugar
15g plain flour
3 medium egg whites
50g sugar

Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).

Sift the flour into the mix.

Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.

Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.

Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.

Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
Bake at 180°C for approximately 15 minutes Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g powdered gelatin
40g sugar
10g glucose or golden syrup
15g water
3 medium egg yolks
175g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
350g heavy cream (35% fat content)

Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)

Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).

Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.

Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.

In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.

Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.

Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

50g sugar
135g heavy cream (35% fat content)
135g dark chocolate, finely chopped
45g unsalted butter, softened

Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).

While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.

Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir
until smooth.

Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.

60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
80ml whole milk
8g unsalted butter
35g plain flour
15g beaten egg
3.5g sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil

Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.

Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.

Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.

Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
100g milk chocolate
25g butter
30g praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K (I used cornflakes)

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.

Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.

Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

115g heavy cream (35% fat content)
115g whole milk
4 medium-sized egg yolks
25g sugar
1 vanilla bean

Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.

Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).

Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.

Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
60g heavy cream (35 % fat content)
60g granulated sugar
¼ cup water
30g unsweetened cocoa powder

Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.

Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.

Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.

Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.


You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.

Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.

Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.

Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.

Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.

Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.

Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.

Close with the Dacquoise.

Freeze until the next day.

The next day...

Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.

Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...

Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

Sathya-rating **