Tag Archives: Smitten Kitchen

Rhubarb Triangles

Rhubarb Triangles (7496)I have long been an admirer of Deb Perelman, a.k.a. Smitten Kitchen. What a name ha? Smitten Kitchen…That’s such a great name for a food blog. Let me tell you, I have long been smitten, but to be honest I also have been procrastinating on buying the cookbook, until earlier this year. I tried some of the recipes during the warmest of weeks, which on one hand was a huge mistake (I become a mess when trying new recipes and reviewing books) but on the other I just couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I was skipping for joy. Really.

For the first recipe I went all out for strawberries. I love the stuff so there was no doubt whatsoever about this one, and those fools were good. They took too much time to prepare, and spending a hot afternoon in the kitchen is always going to be a faff, at least for me, but they were worth the time and effort. *That* I will definitely say. The second recipe you will find here is Deb’s Rhubarb Triangles. It also intrigued me because these are on the cover, and you know me and book covers. We have a thing. They look like and are in fact, mini jam tarts, the dough being her take on shortcrust pastry, but with almonds. (There are lots of photos in this post, so be aware!)

Rhubarb Triangles (7532)I know that rhubarb is not in season right now, but there photos have been in my files begging me to publish them, and it’s a special one for me too – here’s my first attempt at baking with rhubarb. I used to pass by the rack every time I visited the market, but this recipe has helped me to overcome the fear! Sounds a little dramatic, and it is, but that’s how edgy I get with new ingredients! On to the recipe, which will give a yield of about 25 mini cookies. Before you start, please be aware that you will have way too much filling, but I used whatever remained poured over vanilla ice-cream. A real treat.

Rhubarb Triangles (7502)Rhubarb Triangles (7508)For the filling:

  • 900g rhubarb stalks
  • 130g caster sugar

Rhubarb Triangles (7507)For the dough:

  • 50g ground almonds
  • 250g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 115g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

To prepare the rhubarb for the filling, wash the lot and trim the ends, and cut into 1cm cubes. Tip these into a large saucepan with the sugar and cook for around 15 minutes, covered on low heat. Now, on medium heat, remove the cover from the pan and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the fruit begins to break down. Remove the mixture from the heat, pour it into a shallow and let it cool well.

In a large bowl, add the ground almonds, flour, caster sugar and salt, and mix. Using your thumb and forefingers, lightly work the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like small breadcrumbs. Add the egg and almond extract. Combine the lot with your hands till you have a dough. Wrap this in clingfilm and place in the fridge for a good 30 minutes.

Rhubarb Triangles Dough (7513)When the rhubarb compote and dough are cold, flour your workspace, place the dough onto it, flour the top of the dough, and gently roll it out to a rough 3mm thickness. Cut out 7cm circles. Fold the edges and pinch them together to get three sides, and pinch the ends to get corners. The dough remains very crumbly, even cold, so be careful.

Rhubarb Triangles Dough (7517)Rhubarb Triangles (7518)Using a teaspoon measure, pour the fruit compote into the middle of the pastry triangle. Repeat this step until you use all the dough. As you go along, place each one on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Rhubarb Triangles (7524)Rhubarb Triangles (7522)Before baking you could place each tray with the little tarts in the freezer, to help them keep the shape. Unfortunately my freezer is the size of a drawer so I couldn’t afford doing this. Don’t worry too much though. Just preheat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC fan. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden. Some will open, but I didn’t mind at all! When they are done, put them on a wire rack to cool.

Rhubarb Triangles (7529)Rhubarb Triangles from Smitten Kitchen (7533)They will keep for 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature and a bit longer if stored in the fridge, which is where I kept them. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman, Square Peg, 2012.)

Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry fools

Strawberry Fool (7433)Strawberry Fool (7401)I know that Wimbledon season doesn’t necessarily mean strawberry season for some. It’s not as if we have been on an exclusive strawberry diet for the past ten days! I just have to reserve a place for them in my kitchen right now. At one time I had so many I just didn’t know what to do with them. For a change I couldn’t bother with a gazillion recipes this year, so I just went to one lady for advice, the incredible Deb Perelman. I cannot think of any foodie who doesn’t know the name Smitten Kitchen. I have been a fan of this blog for a long time and goodness knows how many times I have visited for some much needed inspiration. It also makes a good read and the photos look great.

Books (6967)Now I finally have the book. I have been so looking forward to holding it in my hands that I did a little dance when it arrived in the post. It’s been around for quite some time so I had to get cooking to try to keep up. So I went ahead and made Deb’s strawberry cheesecake fools. I never made a cheesecake before, neither a fool for that matter, though I know of many, so this recipe was a good place to start. It seemed simple enough (this positive outlook changed by the end of the process though) and having done something similar before I thought I would give them a shot, and here they are. I modified slightly the method, the way it worked for me. I thought I would insert the photos as we go along; it helped me break down the method and I hope this will help you too.

Strawberry Fool (7400)Strawberry Fool (7406)Strawberry Fool (7409)Strawberry Fool (7411)Strawberry Fool (7418)Strawberry Fool (7421)Strawberry mixture:

  • 450g strawberries (give or take a few grams)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the fruit mixture, wash, hull and cut the strawberries into quarters or half if they are smallish in size. Put them in a heavy-based medium to large saucepan, together with the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Give them a stir and let them stand for around 15 minutes, gently mixing them once in a while.

Turn on the hob to medium heat and let the strawberries simmer. Cook for not more than 3 minutes. Take them off the heat, put them in a bowl and let them cool for a while before covering and putting them in the fridge to chill well, for around 2 hours.

Strain the strawberry mixture using a sieve over a small bowl to collect some of the juice. You will need 50ml for later*.

Strawberry Fool (7423)

Strawberry Fool (7425)

Sugar cookie crumble:

  • 60g digestive biscuits (5 to 6 – just eyeball it, you’ll be fine)
  • 30g soft light brown sugar
  • pinch or two of cinnamon

To prepare the cookie crumb mixture, put the digestive biscuits, brown sugar and cinnamon into a food processor and grind. If you prefer you can also topple the ingredients into a freezer bag and bash them with a meat pounder or a rolling pin. Whatever works for you!

Strawberry Fool (7427)

Strawberry Fool (7430)

Strawberry Fool (7431)Whipped cream cheese:

  • 175ml whipping cream
  • 170g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 25g sugar
  • pinch salt (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the creams, in a large bowl mix well the soft cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla extract, until smooth. Remove around 100ml of this cheese mixture and set aside. In another bowl beat the whipping cream with an electric beater till you get stiff peaks. Remember the reserved 50ml of that glorious strawberry juice?* It’s now time to fold it gently into the larger amount of the cheese and cream mixture.

For the assemblage, you need roughly 6 x 100ml tall glasses, (though my mixture had a mind of its own and increased by, oh I don’t know…a lot! So I used assorted ones and even a couple of ramekins.) Start layering like so: 1 tablespoon of the strawberry mixture, 1 tablespoon of the biscuit crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the pink cream cheese mixture, 1 tablespoon crumbs and 1 tablespoon of strawberry mixture. Repeat the process and top the glasses with the remaining white cream and frankly whatever’s left.

Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes and eat. They will also keep for 3 days, if preparing ahead.

Strawberry Fool (7436)The kitchen will be a mess by the end of it…well, mine was anyway, and it was a little bit of a faff. I don’t know whether I would want to make this again. If I ever do it’s because it tastes so darn good! Perhaps next time I could forget the fancy pink cream cheese mixture and keep it white. No need to reserve any strawberry juices then. It will probably be soggy but I wouldn’t mind. It will look pretty anyway, and by the end of the process the whole thing (or rather one *cough* portion) will be gone! Enjoy the tennis and have a great weekend!

Rob xx

A simple Greek salad

Greek Salad (6873)So lately I have been reading a number of food and travel books. It’s my new thing. There are times when a recipe book just doesn’t cut it, meaning that you need stories or real-life events behind the food. To me at least, memories make the foodie world that tiny bit extra special. I tend to buy books by the bucket load (this blog is *such a good excuse*) and when I travel I tend to read a lot more. No distractions on the plane, except of course when you have a drunk crazy lady sitting next to you, ranting to the cabin crew about changing her seat because she doesn’t want to sit next to her husband…or when they spill boiling hot tea all over your trousers…yay. Fun. And I don’t sleep much, so I read.

Some time ago I read Amore and Amaretti by Victoria Cosford. I liked it in my first read-through. It was good though I kept it mainly for the recipes. How could I give away a book with Italian food in it? Inconceivable. A real gem I think is Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris. Loved the whole thing – her writing, the recipes – everything. I think it will feature in a future post, so I’ll leave it here for the time being.

The one I just finished is Falling in Honey by Jennifer Barclay. I was browsing the shops before a flight, feeling hot and bothered after passing through security (they almost undress you these days but anyhow), in a hurry. I just grabbed the first book I saw with an attractive cover, paid for it and rushed off to the gate. In case I didn’t tell you yet, that’s totally wrong when it comes to purchasing books, so please don’t do that. I’m so bad I know; I’m ashamed in fact. I liked Falling in Honey – it’s a good read. Missing the Sun in Surrey (almost sounds like a book title right there) makes the book more enjoyable. The book is home to only four recipes at the back, which is a bit of a disappointment, but hey, I can live with that. I will definitely give them a try.

Greek Salad (6876)I don’t know much about Greek food but J tells me it is delicious. Nothing fancy, exactly how I like things to be and tasty. I do have a Greek recipe book back home in storage; it’s not here with me and I could kick myself for that. However I figured that if the lovely J would tell me about what he ate in Greece I could come up with some very simple Greek-inspired food at home. J doesn’t say much, bless him; he prefers eating. To be honest I didn’t break new ground with the following concoction but I don’t care. I love the following salad. It’s fresh, refreshing and it reminds me of the Mediterranean sunshine that we lack so much of right here. It’s summer on a plate. I chop everything in cubes. If you want the make this like they do it on those beautiful islands, simply slice the tomatoes and cucumbers, and add a sliced red onion. Also you could include sliced green peppers, which to be honest I don’t like much. Serves 2 in a mezé.

  • 1-2 cucumbers, weighing about 400g in total, peeled and chopped
  • 100g feta, cubed
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 40g kalamata olives
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons, and some, good extra virgin olive oil
  • Mint (fresh is better than dried if you have it, oregano and dill will also work well, and sometimes I also use thyme)

All you do is mix everything well in a bowl and have a little taste. Add seasoning if you think you need it. Eat. It. Now. Or take it with you on a picnic. That’s what we did. Enjoy! R xx

For a couple more Greek salad ideas you might want to visit Jamie’s recipe or Deb’s take on this. You will love both.