bouncing back with biscuits & gravy

I’m back. 

It’s been about 3 months since my last post- in those months I was busy at work, planning a wedding, getting married and then enjoying a honeymoon then back to everyday life.  I was still cooking (there’s only so much takeaway you can do!) but just didn’t have the time or energy to keep moving at the same pace.

I’m back home, refreshed and relaxed and now wanting to get stuck into my list of ‘things I want to make and eat’. So this weekend it meant biscuits and gravy for brunch yesterday. Biscuits are like scones in Australia but we generally have them sweet  (cream and jam anyone?) but in the US they are more savoury from what I’ve seen, used to mop up sauces and also sandwich together delicious fillings and make a nice breakfast sandwich. I’ve had on recipe on the cards for some time and that will get made soon but there was a similar and much quicker version in a recent gourmet traveller so I decided to give it a go.

It couldn’t have been simpler.

Start with the biscuits- rub the shortening into the dry ingredients, add wet ingredients- bring dough together (gently gently!) pat out and cut out rounds.  Brush tops with butter. Bake. 

Then just keep them warm while you make your sausage gravy- I wrapped mine up in a tea towel.

Sauce was easy like the biscuits- removed sausage from casing and pan fry until golden breaking up into rough chunks with the spoon- remove when crispy golden and in the the same pan make a roux with butter and flour, add milk, stir still thickened, add sausage back into warm- serve with biscuits.

Quick hey?

I wasn’t sure how to serve it so I just spooned the gravy onto warm plates with the biscuits to the side- I split biscuits in half  and spooned the gravy over and sprinkled with some hot sauce.  It’s real comfort food- rich, but super yum and deeply satisfying.  I’d definitely eat this again.  No idea if my biscuits turned out the same as how they  are meant to be (let me know if you do!) but I was happy with eating the end product!

It’s good to be back 🙂

nailing a tart

It’s about bloody time I finally did a tart justice- -I wanted pastry perfection- well at least something close to that.

A few weeks ago I was flicking thought my gourmet traveller magazine and landed on a delightful chocolate ganache tart recipe- making tasty yummy noises out loud Monkey asked me what I was looking at.  After relaying what it was and seeing his reaction I promised him I’d make it for him over Easter.  So not worried about the ganache filling (it’s all patience) but I wasn’t so sure about nailing the tart- short crust pastry to be exact.

My previous experience with pastry shells have been mixed- shrinking pastry, cracked pastry, undercooked and leaking pastry, overcooked pastry making for a tough eating experience etc etc so whist excited about the choclately goodness that lay ahead I had some mixed emotions about what this goodness would be encased in.

I had a few things to be made that day so I mixed up the dough first.  Generally when making a shortcrust recipe I blitz up the flour and butter in the food processor- however the recipe specifically said minimal handling so I rubbed the butter into the flour and sugar by hand- didn’t take as long as I thought so wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be- end result fine looking breadcrumbs…

Then it was just a matter of mixing in the beaten egg and bringing the dough together- and guess what? It came together easily and beautifully- winning so far.  Then press into a disc shape (makes for easier rolling out into a circle shape) and then into the fridge to relax and chill.

Sufficiently chilled I started to roll out the dough… yeah that wasn’t a great start.  Roll roll roll flip.  Dust with flour… flip again….. then the edges started cracking and swear words began to emerge.  I stopped and took a breath and gathered up the cracks, mended them and rolled out a little slower- the cracks still kept bloody coming but I persevered until the dough was wide enough for the tart tin.

Next challenge- despite my flipping and flouring the dough it was a little delicate to pick up and place in the tin…. How to overcome?  Listen to every single pastry recipe (that I had never listened to) and roll the dough up over the rolling pin and roll back out over the tart tin- worked like a bloody charm!!!! Doing that trick again!  Press into the corners of the tin, smooth out the dough, trim the edges (not too much) and then prick the base with a fork.  The recipe said to chill for about 30 minutes but because I had other stuff happening i the kitchen I left it for an hour or two- given the butter content in the dough this well and truly set which is why I think it didn’t shrink too much. Winning!

Because it was a liquidy filling it needed to be blind baked beforehand.  Blind baking involves popping a lining over the top of the dough and weighting it down and baking for a while- then removing all of that and baking it au naturele for a little longer until lightly golden. This leaves you with a tart case that will stop liquid seeping through the crust while the filling sets.

Tart shell with weights in…

Tart shell once baked…

Isn’t it pretty?  This was then filled with a chocolate ganache mixture and baked until just set- with preferably a slight wobble in the middle. As a side topper white chocolate was melted and then mixed with cream and then whipped- a whole new world opened up to me tasting this- so bloody good I forgot how nice white choclate could be.

What was the end result?  Nice short crisp pastry (it stayed intact and didn’t shatter when sliced!) with a delightfully cool soft chocolates ganache centre- I bloody well nailed a tart for once!

So why did this one not fail???

I think it was because of a few reasons…

This pastry recipe measured everything in grams- even the eggs.  This meant precision and to be honest with baking you need to be precise. 

Secondly I think doing the pastry by hand meant it wasn’t overworked and therefore tough.

Lastly I think the long spell of the pastry in the tin in the fridge meant it was properly chilled which meant less shrinkage in pan which meant more room for the filling and less chance of spillage.

It of course does also help that the filling was this delightful dark chocolate ganache and was topped with a white chocolate cream…

Pastry can be a fickle beast so if you’re looking for something that you’ve not tried to make before maybe try a cake… just not a sponge.

But do try your hand at tarts- they really are something else. Like anything it can take a few goes and a few lessons to be learnt along the way.  End result?  Always delicious tart in one form or another!

compost cookies

I have a long list of recipes that I want to make, one day… just not at the point in time when I read it.  It’s either start this recipe 24 hours (min) beforehand (when I want it that day), too complicated a method to deal with and I’m reading the recipe late in the afternoon or a range of ingredients I just don’t have the time to go and source.  So this list is a long one, it’s not one central list, it’s scattered over Pinterest boards, ear marked in magazines and I know where they all sit in my cookbooks.  But every now and again I do knock them off one by one.

On the weekend I made compost cookies– the recipe is by Christina Tosi who originally started out at Momofuku and makes amazing things like cereal milk soft serve and crack pie (also on the list).  Compost cookies have been on the list for a long time…. in 2012 I first read about it in Gourmet Traveller where they featured Christina because she’d just released her Milkbar cookbook.  What I loved about it was the crazy combination of ingredients, a range of chocolate chips, pretzels, coffee, potato chips and a graham cracker crumb.

This brings me to Sunday- poor Monkey had to work that day so I decided I’d make him cookies.  My Pinterest page has a cookie/biscuit board so I went there for inspiration and landed on the Compost cookie recipe.  I read through it and thought that’s a few steps but that seems do-able today let’s do it.  So I headed to good old Safeway and picked up the stuff I didn’t have in the cupboard; glucose syrup, chocolate chips, potato chips, McVitee’s digestive biscuits (in lieu of graham crackers) and pretzels.  The one thing I couldn’t find from the shops which wasn’t surprising were butterscotch chips and I think that’s the reason why I’d put this recipe off for so many years because I just didn’t know where I would source them from.  I have gradually learnt that’s it’s ok if you don’t always have exactly the ingredients you need in some cases, so this time I supplemented the butterscotch chips with half white chocolate chips and half Reece’s pieces chips (so good!)

You first start with making the graham cracker crumb- whizz up the biscuits to crumbs and mix through sugar, milk powder, cream and melted butter and stir until it forms small clumps- these are mixed through the biscuit batter later- in hindsight I think that they mooshed into the mixture and became lost so I think next time I might crumble it over a baking sheet and bake until slightly crispy and then mix through.

Then it’s onto making the basic biscuit base, cream butter with sugars, add egg, flours etc.  Then came the fun bit, very carefully mixing through the choc chips, graham cracker crumbs, pretzels and potato chips- the kitchen aid did minimal rotations because i didn’t want to decimate the chips!

The mixture needs to be shaped and chilled before baking- they call for using a 70ml icecream scoop but I just used a 60ml cup measure- I am so glad I used something slightly smaller because the cookies are HUGE! Stack on a tray and chill for at least an hour.

When baking them make sure you give yourself plenty of room between each one, don’t try to cram more on, just be patient and be prepared to bake several batches of cookies. The first lot I cooked for too long but then for the next ones I took them out when the edges were just golden, middle still pale and puffed up, and when it cooled it deflated and all the nice chunky bits started to stick out.

So- do I think you would you eat these and go- oh my goodness I can totally taste the pretzels, chips, coffee etc!? No,but I think that what you do end up with is a beautiful salty sweet flavour and a great texture of crunchy and soft- so this recipe will move from the make one day list to the make again list.
Do you have a ‘to make one day list’? What’s on yours?

Additionally- do you know where you can buy butterscotch chips in Australia?