Monday, 30 April 2012

Salted chocolate caramel tarts

Everyone has an absolute favourite dessert out there that they cannot resist right? I have mentioned this before about my partner in crime Betty and her dessert krptonite being caramel. Yes B has a fetish for it in anything: milkshakes, ice-cream, tarts, brulees, fudge, lollies - anything really. So when Donna Hay's latest book hit the shelves and I spotted these tarts I knew what I was making for Mr M's special birthday desserts and for B and her caramel obsession. So with B's caramel obsession and me and my love for chocolate, what more could I ask for? (Besides sitting on a tropical island surrounded by endless supplies of chocolate. Just kidding, I'm not that much of a chocoholic. Much.).

I wasn't always a big fan of making caramel and always burnt it trying to make it but once you have mastered it, it's well worth the effort. You can cheat with this recipe like I did and buy a jar of "dulce de leche" meaning the yummiest caramel you can get without being home made. It's usually at most specialized deli's or you can make your own with condensed milk which I will tell you about in the recipe. Also another option is to buy your own pastry shells. I did make my own for these as it is very simple and worth the effort.
Mr M had a very "SPECIAL" milestone birthday this year and as you are aware B and I are very big on making special cakes for our loved ones. These chocolate caramel tarts were an added extra to the dessert table and I did remember Mr B loading his plate with cake, followed by a WHOLE tart! They're super rich but the touch of salt cuts through the sweetness somewhat meaning Mr B could have that whole tart without feeling too ill!

You will need: (Donna Hay - issue 62 Apr/May 2012)
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1/2 cup (50g) cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup (80g) icing sugar, sifted
125g butter, chopped
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon iced water
1 cup homemade dulce de leche - caramel
1/2 cup (125ml) single (pouring) cream
175g dark chocolate, chopped
sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Place the flour, cocoa, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

While the motor is running, add the egg yolks and vanilla and process to combine. Add the iced water and process until the dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently bring together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to 4mm thick. Cut 6 x 12cm rounds (mine were smaller, depends on the size of your tart tins) from the pastry and use to line 6 x 8cm tart tins. Trim the edges and prick the edges with a fork. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line pastry cases with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the paper and weights, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Allow to cool completely in tins. Remove pastry cases carefully from the tins. Divide the dulce de leche between the pastry cases and use a butter knife to spread evenly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Place the cream in a small saucepan over a high heat and bring to boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir the mixture until smooth and glossy. Spread tarts with the chocolate and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

Sprinkle with salt to serve.

Homemade dulce de leche
2 x 395g cans sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Place the condensed milk in an ovenproof baking dish and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Place the baking dish in a larger deep-sided baking tray and fill with boiling water until it reaches 2/3 of the way up the sides of the dish. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes - 1 hour 45 minutes or until smooth. Spoon into sterilised glass jars. (Just put it into a dish if your using it straight away) Keeps in the fridge for up to 1 month. Makes 2 cups.

YUM!! Enjoy x

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Grilled chicken wraps with salsa verde

We seem to have wraps quite alot at my place. I think because we have lots of little people to impress and doing that can be hard work. I have to admit I learned very fast with my first child Miss 10 that I really thought my cooking skills were no longer required and we were going to have to buy shares in a noodle company and a sauce company and I was going to hand in my apron!! I was a bit sad about this. I had this tiny little person that I was so looking forward to whipping up some culinary delights and here on her plate was plain noodles with tomato sauce. Mind you the sauce wasn't allowed to touch the noodles (heaven forbid!). I tried everything, offering things over and over and trying different things but no luck. Crying to Mr M about our first born,  I was just about ready to wave the white flag. I decided to just let her go with what she was eating and just keep offering her different choices and not make a huge deal out of things.

The turning point at one stage was when we would have wraps and I would cut everything up and place the ingredients on plates and then everyone would make their own wrap! I think my Miss 10 thought it was fantastic that she got to be more hands on and help and make her own little wrap with what she liked and eventually upgraded and added more and more things. Success!

Our wraps vary from time to time and can be more adventurous at certain times depending on how much time I have. These wraps I came across in one of my Donna Hay books was a winner with all 3 plus Mr M and what made things even better we made our own flour tortillas which were so easy.
This recipe can be found in Issue 59 Oct/Nov 2011 on page 145.

You will need:
4  x 200g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
vegetable oil, for brushing
coriander leaves, sour cream and lime wedges, to serve.
salsa verde
2 long green chillies, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
flour tortillas
4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
50g cold butter, chopped
2 1/2 cups boiling water

To make the salsa verde, place the chilli, garlic, green onion, coriander, mint and vegetable oil in a food processor and process on short bursts until combined. Set aside. Makes 1 cup.

To make the flour tortillas, place the flour and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the boiling water and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a smooth dough forms.

Divide the dough into equal size portions and roll each piece out to a 20 cm-round (Don't worry too much on shapes and sizes). Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the tortillas , in batches, for 1-2 minutes each side or intil lightly browned.

To keep warm, stack the tortillas and cover with a tea towel until ready to use. Makes about 18.
Place the chicken, onion salt, chilli powder, oregano, paprika and oil in a bowl and toss to coat.. Preheat a pan or barbecue over high heat.

Char-grill or barbecue the chicken for 4-5 minutes each side or until cooked through. Slice chicken and serve with the tortillas, coriander, sour cream, lime and salsa verde.

You can always use store bought tortillas if you're feeling a little on the lazy side. A nice touch for store bought tortillas is to put them in the pan to heat rather than the microwave, but again sometimes on a Friday night you just want a quick easy meal!

Enjoy! x