Blogger Wordpress Gadgets

Monday, 28 May 2012

Cynthia's Rhubarb & Orange Meringue Pie

I was given some delicious rhubarb by my very kind friend at work - her mum, Cynthia, has stacks of the stuff, more than she could ever use, so I set about thinking of a recipe to do this much over looked fruit some justice. Rhubarb always to end up in the 'make-do' crumble, but I fancied trying something a little bit different; and so 'Cynthia's rhubarb and orange meringue pie' came about. Cynthia is my friends mum, and I felt she deserved to have this named after her - after all, she was my inspiration!
Mr. B loves anything with a meringue top on it so I knew this would be a good idea, and whilst browsing around my favourite web sites, good old Delia came up trumps with the filling.

You will need :

For the pastry -

250g plain flour
30g icing sugar
125g chilled butter cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
203 tbsp cold water

For the filling -

700g rhubarb
Grated zest and juice of 3 oranges
150g golden caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 tbsp cornflour

For the meringue topping

4 large egg whites
225g golden caster sugar

1. Make the pastry: sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Mix in the egg yolk and enough cold water to make a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge about 30 mins to firm up.

3. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and place into a 10inch loose bottomed flan tin. Return back to the fridge for around 20 minutes if you have time. Line with greaseproof paper, allowing to come up high over the rim of the flan tin, fill the shell with baking beans. Cook in a pre heated oven at 200c/ 180c fan/ gas 6 for 10 minutes.  Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans return back to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry shell has dried out.

Now comes the fun bit!

4. Prepare the rhubarb by washing, trimming and cutting into approx. 2cm pieces. Scatter onto a shallow oven dish and sprinkle over the grated orange zest and caster sugar. Place in a moderate oven for approx. 25 mins. or until the rhubarb is soft. (For those of you who are terribly orangised, you could do this whilst the pastry shell is cooking.) remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

5. Pour the squeezed orange juice into a pan, saving a little of the juice to mix in with the cornflour to make a smooth paste. Heat the orange juice to a simmer and pour onto the cornflour mixture. Then return the whole thing back into the pan and whisk over the heat until it becomes very thick.

6. Strain the cooked rhubarb over a bowl or large jug and set the rhubarb aside in a bowl. Pour the rhubarb juices and the egg yolks into the cornflour mix and return to heat. Whisk for a couple of minutes to bring it back up to the original temperature and then remove from the heat. Pour this mixture over the rhubarb and give it all a good old mix.

7. Now for the meringue topping. Whisk four egg whites, in a large, clean bowl, until they stand up nicely, and then add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time, mixing well between each addition. Keep whisking away until the mixture looks soft and shiny and will stand in peaks.

8. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the pastry shell. Next plop the meringue mix onto the rhubarb, making sure it covers right to the edges. Now you can swirl away until your hearts content. I love trying to get high peaks in the meringue.

9. Place the pie on the centre shelf of your oven at 170c/150c fan for approx. 25 minutes or until the outside of the meringue is a nice golden colour and sounds hollow when you tap it.

You can leave it to stand for a couple of hours before serving, but I never can, hence to slightly runny texture in this picture. It tastes too nice to wait, and I like the filling still a little warm.

This was a lovely Sunday afternoon treat to enjoy with all this glorious weather we have been lucky enough to have. Whenever you decide to try your meringue pie, enjoy your day.

B x

Friday, 18 May 2012

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies ARE good for the soul.......

One of our all time favourites at home are these little round bites of chocolate heaven. They are a doddle to make and easy for little hands to help with - both baking and eating.

Miss B and I made a batch this morning to make up for the fact that her Dance Festival has been cancelled, again. The teachers promise it will go ahead as soon as a fine day is forecast - not this month then!!

You will need :

125g soft unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp condensed milk
125g self-raising flour, sifted
50g cocoa, sifted
100g plain and/or white chocolate, cut into chunks

1. Pre heat the oven to 150c, fan 130c, gas 2. Using an electric hand whisk or mixer (we can dream of owning a KitchenAid, right?), cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

2. Beat in the condensed milk, then add the flour, cocoa and a pinch of salt, and mix

3. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Try not to nibble these if you can.

4. Roll into walnut-sized balls and space at least 5cm apart on lined baking trays. I usually manage around 20 cookies from one mix. You can make these larger which will make less cookies but bigger cookies to chomp on! Bake for around 12 minutes, until just firm at the edges but still soft in the centre.

If there is one bit of advice I can give you, it's that baking biscuits takes practice. Everyone's oven varies in terms of cooking times, hot spots, etc. and only experimenting will allow you to get to know your own oven and how to adjust your cooking times accordingly. Biscuits are tricky little blighters at the best of times and the only way to ensure they do not end up like something you would use in the discus event at the Olympics, is to watch them cooking.
This is where a light in the oven is very beneficial. Sadly, my oven seems to really dislike a light and promptly melts the connector on every new bulb I put in. The times I have seen me sitting with a torch trying to see how my baking is doing - Oh, the joys of having such a naff oven.

5. Allow to cool for a few minutes before lifting onto a wire rack to cool.

6. Sit back and scoff.

These biscuits never last long at home. This particular batch were half gone before they got to the tin. You can just see Miss. B's hand in the corner of this shot, waiting to go in for the kill.
I love my Charlie & Lola tin. A gem of a find whilst on holiday in Buxton recently. I just had to buy it.

I have a few things I plan to experiment on next in the kitchen, but in the mean time children's birthday parties are the main attraction this weekend. Whatever you have planned, enjoy your day.

B x

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sunny Days of Spring

B is for......Blossom

With the never ending rainy and dull days we seem to be having of late I thought a little bit of spring colour was required. I planted three trees in tubs last year - apple, pear and plum, and hopefully we may get some fruit from them this year. They have all blossomed recently but sadly the blooms lasted no time at all thanks to Mother Nature sending all this rain to us!

Apple Blossom

The apple blossom had the most beautiful shades of pink and the fragrance was so sweet.
I have grand plans for home made apple pie in a few months time - whether or not these recipes come to fruition remains to be seen.

Pear Blossom

On the up side to the rainy weather, Miss B has enjoyed splashing in muddle puddles and wellies have been well used. There is a 'dance festival' planned at the nursery this Friday (which has already been postponed once) so fingers crossed the rain will stay away this weekend just long enough to see the little people dancing around as pixies and elves.

Enjoy your day

B x