Eight Bells

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fruit Brioche

Any recipe that begins with 'Day one: the brioche base' is going to be fairly involved. This is a lot of time and effort and is quite technical so not for beginners. This is real baking and the success of this recipe largely depends on your eye for dough texture, consistency etc. Don't be put off though it is great fun to make and the results (if it all goes right) are simply amazing, I ate four straight from the oven! This recipe is taken from the book 'Baker' the best of international baking from Australian and New Zealand professionals put together by Dean Brettschneider and Lauraine Jacobs and published by Tandem Press.

Brioche Base
250g of strong flour
5g of salt
25g of granulated sugar
5g of dried active yeast
25ml of water
160g (3 1/2) eggs, cold from the fridge
125g softened butter

Poached Fruits
500ml water
250g sugar
Fruit (we used bottled plums from last years harvest and a can of cherry pie filling)
1 cinnamon stick

Cinnamon Sugar
100g granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2-3 drops of olive oil

Day one: the brioche base
1. Sieve the flour onto your work surface. Make a well and add the salt, sugar and yeast
2. Slowly add the water and 3/4 of the egg, knead the dough well for 6-7 minutes or until the dough is almost fully developed (it is important to develop the gluten structure before all the egg is added). It will look like basic bread dough at this stage.
3. Continue to add the balance of the egg slowly while the dough is still being kneaded. Add sufficient egg to achieve a very soft, elastic, smooth and shiny dough.
4. While kneading, slowly add the softened butter in small amounts. Knead in all the butter to achieve a smooth, elastic, silky dough. Do not over mix as this will cause overheating and the dough will become oily and greasy.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container covered with plastic wrap and give a bulk fermentation time of 1 hour in a warm draft free place. The dough should have doubled in size.
6. Gently knock back the dough to expel all the gases, reactivate the yeast and strengthen the gluten structure. Finally push the dough out to a thickness of 5cm, place into a shallow container and cover with plastic wrap.
7. Place in the refrgerator overnight (12 hours). This makes the dough easier to work with and mould.

Day two: poached fruit
If you prefer you can use fresh fruit without poaching.
1. Place water and sugar into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer.
2. Place your selected fruit into the simmering sugar syrup and poach until tender, don't let it get too soft.
3. Remove the fruit from the syrup and cool. Cover and set aside.
4. Place the sugar, cinnamon and oil into a bowl.
5. Using your fingers, rub the oil into the cinnamon and sugar to ensure an even distribution and prevent separation. Set aside until required.

1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scale off into 10 dough pieces at about 60g each. Mould each piece into a round ball, place onto a floured tray and return to the fridge for 5 minutes.
2. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into a circle or disc about 10cm in diameter.
3. Place the brioche discs onto 2 baking trays lined with baking paper, 5 per tray. Lightly sprinkle each disc with the cinnamon sugar.
4. Cover with plastic to prevent the dough from skinning and then put in a warm place for around 40 minutes to allow the dough to proof. Place a selection of fruit on top, pressing down slightly to prevent the fruit from coming off during baking.
5. Place each tray into a preheated oven at 180C and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
6. Allow to cool and serve warm by themselves or with cream or ice cream.

Venison and Mango Salad

Simple, delicious and low fat. We slightly over cooked the venison, the meat should be pink if done correctly. Serves 2 as a main course.

400 grams of venison cut into thick slices
The juice of a lime
1 tablespoon of honey
5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of pumpkin seed oil (obviously this will be almost impossible to find so just substitute more olive oil like we did)
The juice of a large orange
Salt & pepper

1 mango, finely sliced or a tin of mango slices
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, rocket, salad greens etc
Salt & pepper
t tablespoons of toasted pinenuts
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds

Combine the marinade ingredients together, add venison, coat the meat and set aside.
Combine the dressing ingredients. Briefly cook the venison in a frying pan over a high heat until cooked but still pink. Heat the mangos in a pan and add the balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper, reduce slightly.
Place the salad greens on a plate, top with the venison and mango slices and drizzle over the dressing. Sprinkle with the pinenuts and pumkin seeds.

Pan Roasted Scallops with Crispy Potatoes, Asparagus and Anchovy Butter

It's one of my favourite 'foody' times of year, scallop season. They are fat, plentiful and relatively cheap at the moment and we go through dozens of them. This recipe is taken from the September edition of Listener magazine and serves 4.

20 asparagus spears
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter or olive oil
12 gourmet potatoes, cooked and cut into 5mm thick slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
24-30 scallops depending on the size
The juice of a lemon
3 tablespoons of anchovy butter
2 teaspoons of finely chopped chives

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and plunge in the asparagus. Cook until just tender-a maximum of 3 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the water, drain on a wet tea towel and the roll it up to keep the asparagus warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in large frying pan and cook the potatoes until crisp. Season lightly with salt and pepper, drain on absorbent kitchen towel and keep warm.
Wipe the frying pan clean and return it to the heat. Put the scallops in a bowl and mix with the remaining melted butter until they are well coated. Carefully add the scallops to the hot pan and cook until just golden. Season with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice then remove from the pan and lower the heat. Add the anchovy butter to the pan and let it melt slowly while stirring through the pan juices. Place a small pile of potatoes in the center of each plate and lay five asparagus spears on top. Divide the scallops between the plates and pour anchovy butter over each stack. Sprinkle with chives (we omitted this part of the recipe, I'm not a huge fan of chive garnish). Yum.

Anchovy Butter
300g of unsalted butter, softened
5 anchovies
The juice of a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Puree the ingredients without the pepper until smooth. Season with pepper, place the butter on a piece of greaseproof paper and roll into a log shape. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep for many months in the freezer.