Monday, November 22, 2010

East Meets West... and Begets ‘Mozzarella in Samosa’ with a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Pin It
A few months ago, I saw an appeal from a fellow food blogger for a decent Mozzarella in Carrozza recipe. Doesn’t it sound delicious – Moz-za-relllllllla in Carrr-rro-zza! What a great name for what is essentially a fried mozzarella sandwich.
Naughty? No, just really, really nice!    
For me, the original version - sealed in squishy bread and fried - has never quite lived up to its promise. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. It just seemed too much: too much bread; too much oozing mozzarella; too much fat from frying. Too much!
There was a horrible storm a few nights ago and I couldn’t sleep.  Embarking on a samosa recipe at 3am seemed like a sensible thing to my sleep-deprived brain. I fell into the soothing rhythm – fill, fold, fold, fold and seal. Repeat 24 more times.  It was like Strictly Come Dancing for hands. While my hands were busy with the samosa production line, my head was busy thinking... can this work for Mozarella in Carrozza, (errr... Mozzarella in Samosa?) As samosa aficionado, Barack Obama, might say... Yes! It! Can!

Mozzarella in Samosa at the start of its career...  
These little pastries stuffed with mozzarella, Parma ham, and pesto are a delight. Not too much of anything and just enough of everything.

I’ve given two methods for cooking: oven baked for the low(er) fat option that doesn’t taste ‘low fat’, or deep fried for the “I might as well be hung for a sheep, as a lamb” option.
If you’ve never folded a samosa before, I suggest you print out the diagram and practice with that first!
For approximately 10 you will need...
250g strong white flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Approximately 150mls cold water

Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500mls pasata
½ teaspoon mild chilli powder
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1 ball mozzarella, patted with kitchen paper to absorb excess moisture, then finely chopped
1 tablespoon pesto
3 slices Parma ham, shredded

1.       First make the dough: Mix together the flour, salt and sunflower oil. Mix in the water, a little at a time, using just enough to bring the mixture together in a ball, leaving the bowl clean. Refrigerate for an hour.
2.       Make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened without colouring. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to bubble gently over a medium heat until the sauce has thickened (about 20 minutes). This can be served hot or cold and keeps for a few days in the fridge.
3.       Now make the filling: Mix together all the ingredients for the filling.
4.       Divide the dough into two pieces. Lightly sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 2mm thick. Cut the dough into strips approximately 8cm x 20cm. A pizza wheel is perfect for this job.
5.        Place a teaspoon of the mozzarella mixture about 1cm from the narrow edge nearest you. Moisten the first 5cm of the right edge. Then take the left corner (corner 1), and fold it diagonally over the mixture (to corner 2), pressing to seal the edge you’ve just moistened. Fold diagonally twice more as in the diagram – folding corner 3 to corner 4, then corner 5 to corner 6. (You’re allowed curse while making the first one but you’ll soon get the hang of it). When you have made the third fold, cut away the dough strip, leaving a 1cm border (7 in the diagram). Moisten this flap and fold over the triangular parcel you’ve just made.
6.       Place on a lightly floured surface, while you make the rest (or place them directly on a non-stick baking sheet if you are going to bake them).

Practice makes perfect... (ignore the one on the right!)  
To bake pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)
Place the triangles on a non-stick baking sheet, brush lightly with a little beaten egg, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with the tomato sauce.
To deep fry, pre-heat your deep fat fryer to 190°C (375°F)
Gently lower one of the parcels into the hot fat followed closely, one-by-one, by as many as will comfortably fit in the fryer without overcrowding. You may have to do this in batches. Keep the temperature at 190°C (375°C), turning the parcels after 4 minutes.  When they have had 6 – 8 minutes and are golden brown, remove from the fat and drain on kitchen paper.
Caution: however tempted you are, do not stuff the hot pastry into your mouth – the filling is like molten lava! Serve with that warning, and the spicy tomato sauce.
Pin It

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mini Mango and Ginger Cheesecakes – the best things come in small packages, cupcake!

Pin It
Perhaps because I am snack-sized myself, I have a weakness for mini-food of all types. If there are canapés on offer, I’m there. Too often, by the time I’ve polished off a proper dinner, I have barely enough room left to read the dessert menu, never mind actually tackle the average confectionery... unless of course it’s a cupcake.
When this winter rolls over into January 2011, trendy foodies will be saying “Cupcakes are so last year!”  Tsk! What a shame, because many people – me included – love the endless variation of form and flavour (and mini-ness) that cupcakes represent.
What lies beneath?  
What is going to replace the cupcake in my affections?
I know! The mini cheesecake! It is petite perfection, with about half the calories of a regular old-fashioned slice (unless you devour two). Just like the cup cake, the mini cheesecake can take on endless form and flavour. 
Say "Cheese!"

For approximately 15 mini Mango and Ginger cheesecakes you will need:
Ginger biscuit base
150g Ginger Nut biscuits, crushed
75g butter, melted

1.   First, line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners. Mix together the crushed biscuits and melted butter and divide between the muffin cups, packing the mixture down lightly with the back of a spoon.
Mango cheesecake mix
1 x 568ml (1 pint) packet orange jelly (Jell-O) – I use the 135g Chivers brand
125mls boiling water
350g full-fat soft cheese (low-cal won’t set properly)
110g caster sugar
125mls double cream
1 x 397g tin sliced mango in light syrup
25mls fresh lemon/lime juice or 25mls Maguary Passion Fruit concentrate if you can get it

2.   In a measuring jug, dissolve the orange jelly in the boiling water. A few zaps of the microwave can speed this up a little.
3.   In a food processor, purée the sliced mango with enough of its syrup to make a thick liquid and add enough of this to bring the melted jelly mixture to bring it up to 275mls on the measuring jug (you’ll have plenty left over – I drizzle this over the finished cakes). Stir in the lemon/lime juice or Passion Fruit concentrate. Leave to cool, checking every five minutes or so for the gelling process to start – this is where it begins to thicken ever so slightly.
4.   Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
5.   When the jelly mixture has reached the gelling stage, add it to the cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Finally, add the double cream and beat until just combined.
6.   Divide the mixture between the muffin cups – careful to leave about  ½cm at the top. Refrigerate for about 3 hours or until set. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
To decorate as shown:
Spoon a little of the mango purée over the surface of the set cakes. This gives them the beautiful sunny yellow in the picture.  Draw shapes on baking parchment and fill them in with melted dark chocolate, or drizzle random shapes, remembering to count one for each cheesecake and a few extra for the cook. Leave for about 5 – 10 minutes in a cool room then peel away the paper and decorate the cheesecakes with the chocolate shapes.
Choose another flavour of in place of the orange jelly and add a complementary puréed fruit in place of the mango.
Add a little chopped crystallised ginger to spice up the base, or choose another biscuit entirely – try Oreos, Digestive, Choc Chip...  So many mini cheesecakes, so little time...
Pin It

Monday, November 8, 2010

Double-Hazelnut Vanilla Caramel Cake – quite a character!

Pin It
I read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help over the summer, and I cannot get one of the characters out of my mind. Appearing almost as often as the main protagonist, Minnie’s Caramel Cake seems to be a huge part of the story. It made me hungry every time I picked up the book.
Double-Hazelnut Vanilla Caramel Cake - quite a character!

I’ve tried to find a definitive recipe for Caramel Cake, but – like Irish stew – it appears to be one of those recipes that no matter what version you use, you’ll set someone’s tongue a-tutting.
Soooooo, I’m not going to try and recreate a Caramel Cake. I am going to make a Double-Hazelnut Vanilla Caramel Cake – hazelnut sponge cake, with a layer of creamy Nutella filling, slip in some crushed meringue, add a layer of caramel, another layer of Nutella/meringue filling. Top this sugar-fest with more caramel - the filling doubles as frosting.  You’ll need a sugar thermometer for the caramel topping.
For 10 generous slices you will need...
... to pre-heat the oven to 160°C

For the Cake Batter
200g Kerrygold butter, softened
180g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
150mls fresh milk
1 teaspooon vanilla extract
330g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
50g toasted hazelnuts, chopped


·     First, butter and base-line two 23cm sandwich tins.
·     In a large mixing bowl (or food mixer) beat together the soft butter and sugar until fluffy and paler in colour.
·     In a jug, mix together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
·     In another bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.
·     Slowly add about a quarter of the egg mixture to the butter, beating continuously until combined. Then, add about a quarter of the flour mixture. Continue beating while you add alternate lots of egg and flour to the butter mixture until both have been used up.
·     Finally, add in the toasted hazelnuts and mix until just combined.
·     Divide the mixture between the two buttered, base-lined sandwich tins and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Prod lightly with a finger. The sponges should spring back. If not, give them another 5 minutes or so and test again.
·     Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
While the cakes are baking, make the fillings...
For the Creamy Nutella Filling
240g cream cheese
130g Nutella
220g icing sugar, sifted
2 single-portion ready-made meringues, crushed into pea-sized bits
·     Place the cream cheese, Nutella, and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and with your hand-held blender set to low, beat together until combined in a smooth mixture. The meringue comes in later...

For the Caramel Filling and Topping
330g sugar
250mls milk
30g black treacle
50g Kerrygold butter
8 tablespoons condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·     Place the sugar, milk and treacle in a saucepan and stir together over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Turn up the heat a little, stirring continuously, until the mixture is bubbling and has reached the ‘soft ball’ mark on your sugar thermometer (116°C or 240°F). Don’t worry if the milk separates. It will all come together in the end.
·     As soon as it has reached the ‘soft ball’ stage, remove it from the heat and add the butter, letting it melt. Stir the melted butter into the mixture – it will seem like this is never going to happen at first, but persist! When the butter has vanished into the mixture, stir in the condensed milk and vanilla extract.
·     Leave the mixture to get cold, beating occasionally to break up the surface crust that forms as it cools.

Assemble when the cakes and the frosting are cold
·     Split each of the cakes and fill both with the Nutella mixture. Sprinkle the filling with crushed meringue before joining the cake halves together again.
·     Pour a generous layer of caramel on top of one cake and stack the other cake on top.
·     Pour the rest of the caramel over the stacked cakes, smoothing with a palate knife. Ensure that the sides are covered.
·     At this stage it looks very brown so I coat the sides with chopped toasted hazelnuts (that makes it triple hazelnut!) or desiccated coconut and drizzle the top with dark chocolate which sets hard and makes a lovely contrast to the soft caramel. You may have other decorating ideas. Either way, prepare for a sugar rush.

Use ready-made caramel or Dulche de Leche in place of the caramel frosting if you want to save yourself a bit of stirring.
Pin It