Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Skillet Apple Charlotte

"Out of France", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We are heading out of France with Jacques Pepin to explore other delicious cuisines from other countries. I'm making Jacques Pepin take on Apple Charlotte, a dessert which dates back to 15th-century England, where this dessert was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. (And now there's a Princess Charlotte and Prince George, real cuties!).  (Note : an update : hi-lighted by Mae Travels in the comment below that King George III was born in 1738, so the 15-th century info is inaccurate! Sorry about that, I got that info from food.com when I googled for Apple Charlotte! Thank you Mae!)

Originally this apple dish consisted of lining a ring mould with bread and filled with apples, with the dish being served hot. Jacques Pepin version is to use a skillet to cook the apples over a hot stove until caramelized, and top with bread slices, baked in the oven until brown.

Skillet Apple Charlotte, with yummy caramelized apple wedges.

Firstly, apples (I've used Fuji), are peeled, cored and cut into wedges, arrange them in a non-stick skillet or ovenproof pan. Some butter, maple syrup and honey are added in. I have used all honey as I do not have any maple syrup. Bring it to a boil over high heat, turn down heat to low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes until apples are just tender. Uncover and cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the liquid is completely gone, then continue to cook for another 2 minutes until the apples are caramelized. But by the time the apples are caramelized, there's still some liquid in the pan, and fearing that the already caramelized apples will get bitter if I continue to cook it longer, I have poured off the liquid into a small bowl, reserving it to be used later, if I need to. 

Four slices of white bread are trimmed off the crust, trim on one side of each slice to a rounded shape, so that they form a rough disc when arranged on top of the apples in the skillet. Butter one side of the bread slices, and place the buttered side up on the apple wedges. Sprinkle some sugar (I've used about 2 teaspoons) over the bread slices. Bake in the preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until the bread is browned. I have used a non-stick ovenproof saucepan which can withstand the maximum temperature of 180C, so I have baked the Apple Charlotte at 180C for 15 minutes on the middle rack, and move it up to the upper rack for another 10 minutes until the bread is brown and crispy.

When the Skillet Apple Charlotte is done, I left it to cool just a little (about 3 minutes) in the saucepan, then I unmould it onto a plate. Spread some apricot preserves over the apples. I have used my homemade orange jelly instead and have mixed it with the reserved liquid which I retain from the apples earlier on. The saucepan is still very hot, so I poured back the reserved liquid into the pan, add about 4 tablespoons of orange jelly, stir to combine. There's no need to heat the saucepan, as it still has the heat from the oven. Be careful when handling the hot saucepan! (Ouch!!). Pour this mixture over the apples, sliced into four servings and serve immediately.

This is so yummy! The bread is very crispy and the caramelized apples are tender and delightful. At first I thought that it would be sweet, with the honey and the sprinkling of sugar over the bread slices. But it blends out really well, without being overly sweet, just right, even with the orange jelly. I'll be making this again! A delicious way of using up the balance of one and a half jars of my homemade orange jelly lying in the fridge.

I made this in the afternoon for tea-time for both my daughter and me. We were both really hungry as we had eaten a late breakfast and have skipped lunch. My initial plan is to eat this with my homemade creme fraiche, but I have completely forgotten about it. Daughter had two slices, and I had one, only because I'm keeping the other slice for my son. When he came back from school a little while later, he ate it with a scoop of my homemade caramel ice cream! Now, why didn't I think of that!  

Skillet Apple Charlotte
(adapted from "More Fast Food My Way", Jacques Pepin)
(4 servings)
3 Granny Smith apples (about 1-1/2 pounds total) (I use 2 medium Fuji apples)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoons honey
4 slices white bread
1 teaspoon sugar (I've used 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
about 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yoghurt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core, and cut each apple into 6 wedges. Put the wedges in a small (7 to 8-inch) nonstick skillet and add 2 tablespoons of the butter, the maple syrup, and the honey. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the apples are just tender. Uncover and cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the liquid is completely gone, then continue cooking for another 2 minutes or so to glaze and caramelize the apples. 

Trim the crusts from the bread slices and arrange them touching, in a square on a cutting board. Trim the corners to create a rough disk that will fit into the skillet and cover the apples. Butter the bread on one side with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and arrange the slices buttered side up on top of the apples. Sprinkle on the sugar and place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned on top.

At serving time, if necessary, reheat the dessert on top of the stove to help loosen the apples and unmold the charlotte onto a serving platter. If the apricot preserves are firm, heat them for 30 seconds in a microwave oven to soften. Pour and spread them on top of the apples. Serve the dessert in wedges as is or with a couple of tablespoons of sour cream or Greek yoghurt, if you like.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week 
"Out Of France"



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Banana Blondie

These blondies are delightful, the white version of brownies, using white chocolate. They are moist, soft, tender, with a velvety texture from the melted white chocolate in the batter. I have reduced the sugar rather drastically, as the bananas and white chocolate are already sweet! On top of that, I have replaced the brazil nut toffee with chocolate chips, as suggested by the author. Originally, the recipe has given the instructions on how to make the brazil nut toffee, which is broken into pieces and added into the batter, but the author has mentioned that these can be substituted with chocolate chips instead, and I have opted for this easy way!

Chunky bananas and chocolate chips in a moist velvety white chocolate blondie.

The recipe below is the adaptation for using chocolate chips instead of brazil nut toffee. To make the brazil nut toffee, please refer to the original recipe here.

Banana Blondie
(adapted from "Short & Sweet", Dan Lepard)
225gm caster sugar (I use 100gm)
100gm dark chocolate chips
oil for the tray
100gm unsalted butter
200gm white chocolate
1 egg
2 bananas, peeled and chopped (about 200-250gm total)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
225gm plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Line the base and sides of a 20cm square tin with foil and heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F/gas 5. Heat the butter with the white chocolate in a pan over a low heat until melted then scrape into a bowl, add the sugar and beat with the egg, bananas and vanilla until smooth. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold through the butter mixture with the chocolate chips. Spoon into the tin and bake for 35 minutes until "wobbly" set and golden on top. Leave till stone cold before slicing.

I'm linking this post with :


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quick Chicken Korma and South Indian Cabbage

"June Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We may cook from any of IHCC list of 12 chefs. Since I have the craving for some Indian meal, I turned to Madhur Jaffrey's books, and made two dishes for our weeknight dinner. 

I've made these two dishes, Quick Chicken Korma and South Indian Cabbage, served alongside some basmati rice. 

For the rice, I sauteed some cardamom pods, cloves and fresh curry leaves in a little oil until fragrant, add in the basmati rice (washed and soaked for 20 minutes, drain before used). Stir for a minute or two, till the rice is fragrant from the spices, transfer the rice to the rice cooker pot, add some water and cook accordingly (2 cups rice with 3-1/3 cups water). Please remember to discard the whole spices before serving, they are not meant to be eaten.

Quick Chicken Korma is pretty easy to cook and is delicious. I've used about 1.2 kg of chicken pieces, and only 1 can of chopped tomatoes instead of 3 cans of plum tomatoes, and it tasted really good with only 1 can. And for the spices, as usual I have increased some of the spices slightly, as I love bold flavours in my curries. Some cream is added at the end of cooking time, and the curry is cooked on high heat for the last couple of minutes until the sauce thickened. 

South Indian Cabbage is a veggie dish that I have cooked quite a number of times, usually as a side dish to serve with one of Madhur Jaffrey's curries. It uses asafoetida, a pungent spice and the smell is not what one would call pleasant. But once it is introduced into hot oil, it is somewhat aromatic and really brings a certain flavour to a dish. So do not be afraid to use a generous pinch, the dish needs it. 
Be sure to have all the ingredients ready as everything goes into the wok, in succession rather quickly. I've used yellow split peas which turned a little hard after frying in the hot oil together with the spices, but it is really nice, a nutty contrast with the wilted cabbage and I love it actually. This dish is further enhanced from the fresh fragrant curry leaves, from my garden pot. This is a really tasty veggie dish, and it makes a perfect accompaniment of any curry dish along with some white fluffy rice. 

Quick Chicken Korma (Murgh Korma)
(adapted from "100 Essential Curry", Madhur Jaffrey)
Serves 4
4 cm (1-1/2 in) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 bay leaves
5 cm (2 in) cinnamon stick
8 cardamom pods
4 cloves
1/4 teaspoon black cumin seeds
120 gm (4-1/2 oz) onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander (I use 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ground cumin (I use 2 tablespoons)
3 tinned plum tomatoes, chopped (I use 1 can chopped tomatoes)
1.5 kg (3 lb) chicken pieces, skinned and cut into serving portions
1/4-1 teaspoon chilli powder (1 use 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons single cream

Put the ginger, garlic and 3 tablespoons water in the container of an electric blender. Blend until you have a smooth paste. (I use a pestle and mortar to pound into a paste).

Put the oil in a wide frying pan or saute pan and set over high heat. When very hot, put in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Stir once or twice and add the onions. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes or until the onions turn brownish. Add the paste from the blender, and the ground coriander and ground cumin, and fry for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry another minute. Add the chicken pieces, chilli powder, salt and 250ml (8fl oz) water. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over now and then.

Remove the cover, add the cream and cook on high heat for another 7-8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Stir gently as you do this.

South Indian Cabbage (Dakshini Band Gobi)
(adapted from "World Vegetarian", Madhur Jaffrey)
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
generous pinch of ground asafoetida
1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal, chana dal, or yellow spilt peas
5 to 6 whole fenugreek seeds
2 to 3 whole dried hot red chillies
10 fresh curry leaves, if available, (use fresh basil leaves as substitute)
1-3/4 pounds fresh green cabbage (about 1/2 large head), with its hard core removed and then shredded (as in coleslaw)
1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons salt

Put the oil in a large wok or large, wide pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the asafoetida. A second later, put in the mustard seeds and urad dal. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, a matter of seconds, put in the fenugreek seeds and red chillies. Allow the dal to get red and the chillies to turn dark. Now put in first the curry leaves and then the cabbage and give a few quick stirs. Add the salt. Stira and cook for a minute. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cabbage has wilted completely. (You may add a sprinkling of water, if needed). Uncover and taste for salt. Stir and cook for another minute or two.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week 
"June Potluck"




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