Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Big News

Believe it or not, this is my actual kitchen

Brad Pitt has done it. Kevin Bacon has done it. William Shatner has done it. And now finally, I have done it. We have all used our chiselled cheekbones, charismatic personalities and the rich, deep timbre of our eloquent voices to endorse a product. In Bambi's case, he bafflingly entranced us all into buying Chanel No 5 with nonsensical non sequiturs. Mr 6 Degrees is currently bouncing footloose all over our screens, extolling the virtues of a mobile network that he probably doesn't even use. And who can ever forget Captain Kirk's gleaming appraisal of the Commodore VIC-20. And me? Well, I am about to enter your living rooms via the power of the goggletube to tell you all about dishwasher tablets. Yes, dishwasher tablets. Thankfully, in my opinion at least, the production team behind a new advert for New Finish Quantum with Power Gel, which features yours truly, have done a very good job. Much better than the Hollywood examples. Sure, you might have spotted a clunky insert in this paragraph already and there will be more. But believe me when I tell you this, I am not the new Barry Scott.

The journey towards the advert started off fairly innocuously. I received an invite to attend a blogger event in February organised by Finish, that presented the chance of meeting and cooking with a top chef and to feature in a national TV ad. The chef in question was Florence Knight of Polpetto fame (soon to be re-opened) and to be frank, the notion of rolling meatballs with her was far more appealing than getting my face on the box (be still my beating heart). As PR days go though, it was great fun getting stuck in with everyone, prepping burrata, octopus and making small glasses of tiramisu, all cornerstone ingredients and recipes from the Polpo Empire. Particularly good giggles were had with Claire from Things We Make and Dom from Belleau Kitchen and it was a shame that wine wasn't served really but of course, it was also a casting day so it was probably best that we were all kept in check.

Curiously, I don't remember that much from the video interview I had with the director, a friendly chap called Toby. Principally, he asked questions about me and about the blog but he also wanted to know what I thought of the product, as Finish had sent me stacks of their New Finish Quantum tablets to test beforehand. I think I gabbled. I think I gabbled a lot. With jazz hands. I think at one point I even said "The best thing about these new dishwasher tablets is that they clean dishes really well." Which they did. But I am not sure that I had to extrapolate the recommendation further with star jumps. At the end of the interview, Toby warmly shook my hand and in a totally non-judgemental way said "Thanks Danny, it's been really.......interesting." And I walked out thinking 'Oh well, that's that.' Because we all know what 'interesting' means.

A couple of weeks later though, I received an email saying that the director really liked me and that he wanted to meet me again with his team, this time at my house to have more of a general chat. More New Finish Quantum with Power Gel tabs were sent, which got distributed amongst family and friends, giving me a new found reputation as the Willy Wonka of detergents and more conversation was had on my sofa. The advert by all accounts was to be far more poetic and organic than your usual marketing splash that screams and blasts viewers into submission. Showing me the treatment on his Mac, which was basically a large collection of photos of kitchens, food and people; he demonstrated the feel of the project quite aptly. I was slightly unnerved that a lot of the photos were taken from my blog, Twitter and Instagram accounts, which led me to pause and wonder whether Toby was stalking me. But I was reassured that they were interested in me because I was a normal guy, with a normal family and a normal life but with a big passion for food. They also liked the fact that I admitted during the interview that I was a messy cook, which fell right into the remit. They felt Finish could help me with that.

A day or two later, they got in touch again and said that I had made the grade, along with Nisha, owner of the aesthetically pleasing My Kitchen Antics blog. We were gonna be big stars! (Jazz hands, again).

After that, there was a whole barrage of telephone calls, emails and even more dishwasher tablets were sent. By this point, I thought about always keeping a couple on my person. To tip bellboys and cab drivers and slip in the pockets of doormen outside private clubs; predisposing a lifestyle that surely would soon come. But Mrs FU quickly brought me back down to earth and said that we should save some packets for Christmas presents. The reason for plying me with the tablets was to make sure I was happy with the product and that I could convey that easily when it came to filming.

I have to say, my father-in-law was a boon with regards to the testing process as he would often report back, saying that his tea mugs have come up sparkly clean or that he's finally removed some random stain from a soup bowl (he, not the tablet). I sort of get the impression at some stage though, that he started to gleefully over-egg things, burning casseroles to buggery to purposely prove a point. "Ha! Didn't bloody shift that though Dan!" That's what my mother-in-law told me anyway. Personally, I was captivated by the smell, especially with the lemon and apple tablets. The twins were drawn to them too but for other reasons. So we had to make sure the test packs remained high up on shelves for fear of foaming mouths.
Pensive
The day of the shoot came around quite quickly. A car with blackened windows and leather seats picked me up from my house on a cold spring morning and whisked me to a location in West Hamstead. I say whisked, it took about two hours what with the rush hour traffic but luckily, I had as much water as I could drink to pass the time with. Can you imagine it? Free water! That's when you know you've hit the big time. Well, when I finally got there, I thought I was going to wet myself trying to climb back out of the car. So really, it's not a good thing. And when I saw all the production trucks lining the street, the urge became even stronger. I have done piddly little things before, dancing in front of a camcorder with a wooden spoon, holding a chicken by the neck, that sort of thing. However, arriving at this cavernous, basement flat, filled with equipment and tons of people with clipboards and walkie talkies was something else altogether. It was terrifying. Toby found me almost straight away and led me into the garden to talk about the day ahead and about setting up a scene to do some cooking using a wheelbarrow and he noticed that my leg was shaking uncontrollably.

"Are you cold Danny?" he asked and I just nodded, when really it was the adrenaline kicking in. Being a consummate professional though, with a few deep breaths, I soon knuckled down to the business of looking earnest, with arms folded and sharing the vision before heading to wardrobe and makeup; the latter of which only took 2 minutes (I have such good skin). And then bang, off we went. The whole, long day was spent shooting set pieces, interviews, cooking sequences, jugging dishwater tablets and presenting various dishes for the camera. All quite repetitive really and slightly dull in places, what with all the hanging around, getting the light right, chosing the best lens for the camera, placing props around to create the perfect mood; all very arty. Highlights of the day for me include thwacking steaks and shucking oysters, setting fire to the aforementioned wheelbarrow to make risotto and tantilising the nostrils of the crew with the ox cheek lasagne that I baked. 

Ox Cheek Lasagne
The low point came when I had to hold the said lasagne dish up the air, now clean due to the magic of Finish Quantum with Power Gel, for an inordinate amount of time. My job was to scan it intently and seriously whilst the director of photography got the ultimate, beautifully framed shot. I thought my arms were going to fall off at one point. Yes, it was a hell of a lot of work for what essentially amounts to 30 seconds and at the end of the day, around midnight, I fell back into the car and drifted straight off to sleep, with no water passing my lips. But I must admit that I did enjoy myself.

Jazz hands
Months have passed now and I have seen the final cut and like I said, I am quite pleased with the result. Chuffed in fact. The advert itself airs in a couple of week’s time but I should be getting a link sorted out soon so that readers of FU can get a sneak preview and then you can decide for yourself. One of the final outcomes from the advert, as you would sort of expect, is that Finish hope to persuade consumers to switch and see the difference, a catchphrase that in the wrong hands could belong to the Barry Scott School of Sloganeering. However, I think Nisha and I have managed to lend some credibility to this latest campaign, not just because we write a food blog but because we are regular people. We tested the product after all. On smeared wine glasses, grimy plates and scabby pots and were happy with the results. We've switched and so have some of my family and friends. And my doctor. Oh and the milkman too.

In fact, come over to my house if you want to try them out, I've still got a box under the stairs. Unless you want to wait until Christmas that is.

I told you I was a messy cook

Monday, 29 July 2013

Dehydrated Grape Leaves

You might not know it, but I have long been harboring the fantasy of inventing an entirely new food. Every time I think I've come up with something, someone says, oh it's been done. I don't think this one has. The past few days I've been playing with the dehydrator. I love kale. Really. So I tried beet leaves. Lovely. But someone suggested sorrel. I don't have any but  do have grape leaves. Why not? Sour, olive oil, salt. Then a crunchy delicate snack or garnish. I WISH I could edit this but blogspot is REALLY MISBEHAVING and after three tries this is coming out uncooked. But you get the idea. Dehydrated grape leaves with a flavor like in cooked dolmas, but dry and crunchy. If someone steals this idea, I will come and get you. Unless it's already patented. Just my luck.

The David Gower Selection - Laithwaite's Wines


Cricket has never really been much of a passion of mine and there is a good reason why. Some time ago now, when I was a boy, I went on a trip of a lifetime to Australia to visit family who ensconced down under way back in the 1960's. It would be fitting to squeeze in at this point, all the usual banter about them being criminals, forced to flee the country etc etc, because they were. Well, Great Nanny Clark was. She was a colossal tea-leaf in fact. She had an evil, lustful eye for the pick 'n' mix in Woolworths whenever she came home and had been known to smuggle cutlery out of Claridges in her brassiere on one or two occasions. Harmless, lovable rogues, that's all they were really though and we travelled thousands of miles to see them. 

It was a great holiday, the memories and experience of which still echo in my mind but there was a moment that came towards the end that scarred me forever. I was in the garden of an uncle's house trying to play cricket with my second cousin called Leslie, who was Australian by birth and mad on the sport. I say trying because I was a typical pasty uncoordinated ginga from the UK with little experience of the hallowed game. Whereas handsome and tanned Leslie was that all singing, all dancing kid from the Gold Coast who was good at everything and as a result, a bit of a spoilt brat. 

The goading didn't bother me at first but after a while, it began to intensify and become more personal. I think it's called 'sledging'. So, thoroughly fed up of having to scamper everywhere to retrieve a red leather ball to the sound of mocks and jeers, I decided to give Leslie a taste of his own medicine. Focusing and concentrating on three singular, wonky sticks, poking up out of the ground, I threw the ball with all my might and for the first time that day, it whizzed past his bat and smashed them to pieces.

"OWZAT YOU TWAT!" I screamed, lungs bursting with joy and I started to whip my feet around the lawn in the manner of Michael Jackson and his famous moonwalk. However, I was so caught up in celebration that I failed to notice a crimson faced Leslie who was running up towards me, simultaneously crying and swinging a bat above his head. Being the accurate sportsman that he was (and still is, I should imagine) Leslie planted a hefty piece of willow firmly into my mouth. That he didn't knock any teeth out was a miracle but a canine did pierce and protrude out my bottom lip and blood flowed freely after that, as well as more tears.

The situation was soon placated by a wet sponge, a fistful of Aussie dollars and the reassurance that Leslie would remain locked inside his room until he calmed down. By all accounts, the little cherub was still sore and sensitive after seeing his heroes fall. If David Gower and his cohorts hadn't secured a comprehensive 3-1 series win that summer, therefore recovering the Ashes, he might have been more forgiving. At least that was the suggestion at the time but I have to say, after that episode, cricket sort of lost its allure. I went on to play rugby union instead, which is a much more civilised affair.

Speaking of civilised affairs though, despite having an underdeveloped understanding of what actually happens on a cricket pitch, I rather like the idea of watching as a spectator. Any sport that breaks for lunch and tea sounds good to me but the fact that cricket fans are actively encouraged to bring along a picnic with alcoholic refreshments to serve themselves throughout the day, sounds even better. So when Laithwaite's Wines approached me with the offer of curating a celebratory hamper to enjoy at the 4th Investec Ashes Test v Australia at Durham ICG on August 10th, I leapt at the chance. 

The main deal on my part is suggest food to match wines selected by Mr Gower or Lubo, as he is affectionately and inexplicably known. Curating is an interesting word actually, as it sort of implies a considered approach or degree of artistry. I'll be honest and say that whilst testing the wines that arrived a couple of weeks ago, it was considered but I employed an artistry of a different kind. Piss artistry. But nevertheless, I do sincerely believe that these pairings would keep most members of the Barmy Army happy. This is what I came up with:

Blackstrap Shiraz 2010 - Packed with pepper and jammy fruit with plenty of length (as they say), I was tempted to make the suggestion of packing a disposable bbq into the hamper so that the wine could be enjoyed with a freshly grilled rump steak such as 60 day Longhorn from The Ginger Pig but the Durham ICG probably wouldn't be too best pleased with that idea. Sandwiches made from sourdough bread and packed with cold beef, cooked rare, a small bunch of watercress and a smidgen of horseradish would go down well though.

Villa Broglia Gavi 2012 - I got into an argument with Mrs FU over this one as she asserted that this was a "drinking" wine, which of course sounds absurd because all wines are drinking wines. What she meant was that this Gavi, which is quite fruity yet retains a dry crisp edge, is an Italian wine to be enjoyed on its own. I begged to differ and shoved a plate of marinated anchovies under her nose to try with her next glass. She acquiesced that boquerones were indeed a nice pairing and then shoved me out of the way to finish the bottle in the sunshine, in the garden.

Grande Réserve de Gassac Rouge 2012 - This rich Cabernet Sauvignon came on a journey with us all the way down to Devon, belying the theory that wines don't travel well because this red was delicious and full of bramble berries. After taking the children on their first camping trip, which lasted just two days, we settled into a little family hotel for the night and got stuck into some goodies we bought from a deli outside Barnstaple. Two choices of cheese were made, a nutty Devon Oke Cheddar and a Devon Blue and it was the subtle blue veined cheese that scored top marks so that would have to go in the hamper.

The Rustler Chenin Blanc 2012 - Dry, crisp and grassy with lots of herbal notes, this wine left us stumped (ha!) for a period and very nearly fell back into that "drinking" wine catagory but then Mrs FU came up with idea of serving something quite creamy and decadent, so that the wine would not only pair up but could also cut through the flavours. In the past we've made Salad Olivieh, a Persian salad that can be tweaked here and there but generally consists of diced potatoes, peas, mayonnaise, finely chopped gherkins and grated eggs. I made a variation at the weekend with shredded chicken and chopped tarragon and it complimented the Chenin Blanc perfectly. And vice

So that's my four pairings. The proof of the pudding will be how they all fare together along with the wines, under the heat of the midday sun (or rain) in Durham in under a couple of weeks time and I aim to report back on that. But if England continue on their current trend, then I am sure everything will work out just fine.

I am hopeful in fact that Mr Gower might grace us with his presence as I'd love to find out what he thinks of my selection of food. And I also want to collar him for what my spoilt git of a (second) cousin did to me, way back in 1985.

"See this scar on my lip Lubo," I'll say. "It's all your fault you know."

Salad Olivieh

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Trahanas

I'm pretty sure this is not the traditional way to make trahanas. Though they probably taste much the same. If you have patience, I would exhort you to try this. Take good Greek yoghurt. about a cup. Mix in bread flour and a few pinches of salt to make a stiff dough. Then go outside and roll out little nubbins, exactly as you would boogers, onto a dish towel. It takes a long time, but look how beautiful they are! Leave in the sun for at least a day or two. Boil up and just sprinkle on olive oil and salt. They have a light pleasant sourness, and are chewy. The traditional way is to make flat disks, dried in the sun, break them up and dry again, and then boil them, but these are so much prettier. Like little pine nuts I think.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Object Fetishism

The theme of this year's Oxford Symposium, held a few weeks ago, was Material Culture. It has gotten me thinking deeply about the tools in my kitchen, particularly those on which I absolutely depend. There are a few without which no kitchen could function: knives, spoons, spatulas, I'd add tongs. My grater too. None of these are trophy items. I don't own a single big very expensive knife, though I do have a lot of them. I think of them as tools, nothing more. But then I realized that my most prominent kitchen drawer, above the cutlery, holds these right up front. Why? One corkscrew would do perfectly fine. I actively use all 15 of these, and that's not counting the rabbit, and 6 or 7 other kinds of corskscrew I own but almost never use. So the question is why I fetishize these objects. I think it's because I can tell you exactly where each one came from. I have explicit memories associated with them. And of course my favorites have the most interesting stories. I emphatically don't collect them - especially since corkscrews haven't been allowed in carry on luggage for the past decade. But I'm still wondering why this particular object, apart from the fact that I use them every day? Are there objects any of you hold as dear, and if so, why?

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Crispy Onions


Given that our fair and green land is currently in the grip of seismic thermals, catastrophic heatwaves and somewhat apocalyptic thunderstorms, it doesn't really make sense to do much in the way of cooking at the moment. After standing behind the stove this morning, simply frying an egg, I thought at one point it was all going to end, by way of the Wicked Witch of the West. In that I might melt into the floor, into a puddle of freckles and spectacles, glistening like liquidised lard. This was all in spite of having the fan switched on at full pelt in the kitchen; fluffing and spluttering warm air about the place, burring and wavering like a lumbering drunk. What a useless piece of equipment that is. Even stripping down to my shreddies didn't help. I did think about going one stage further but I quickly stopped dead in my tracks, for fear of spitting fat. And plus I didn't want to scare the kids when I called them to the table for breakfast.

So yes, it's hot. You know it's hot, we all know it's hot and I don't need to go on about it. But what can we do whilst this pandemonium goes on? What can we eat, whilst we slavishly remain glued to the screen, waiting for a name? Any name. What is going to help us keep our cool, in these testing times? What is going to keep us sane? Seriously, I need to know because I keep shouting, nay screaming, at Kay Burley, telling her to "F**k off!" all the time. What sustenance is going to keep me on the straight and narrow whilst the world around me dissolves around me like a Dali landscape? WHAT?!!! TELL ME?!!!!

Actually, I think I have the solution.

CRISPY ONIONS!!!!

And if you are now thinking: "Wow, that's one hell of a tangent, what is he smoking?" Please, bear with me.

Because in this steaming tumult, this concrete jungle, this seething pit of sweat, grime and hysteria, the only damn thing it seems that we can eat is salad. And in my opinion, salad ain't salad unless it's topped with thousand island dressing and most importantly, crispy onions. Ooh those little shavings of deep fried allium gold, ooh they are so delicious and tasty and are excellent for finishing off mountain bowls of leaves, beets, sweetcorn, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and chopped gherkins. You know, just like the sort of salad you used to stack up in Pizza Hut in the 90's. Or possibly the 80's.

So given the current conditions out there, please consider this to be a public service announcement.

Don't cook. Strip naked. Keep your eyes glued to gogglebox. Eat salad.

And remember.........CRISPY ONIONS!!!

*punches air, sobs incoherently and faints*
 
What would make this salad better?
CRISPY ONIONS!! (and thousand island dressing)
Hmmmmm.........crispy onions

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The FIRST tomato recipes 1692-4

It is difficult to fathom the vast gulf separating home cooking from large scale food preparation. Every now and then I offer a lecture/demo/tasting that requires cooking on an extraordinary scale and I am always astonished and exhausted afterwards. The gig is downtown Stockfish, at the Cesar Chavez Library, tomorrow (Monday) at 6:30. DO come, it's free. I'm talking about Antonio Latini's Lo Scalco alla Moderna (1692-4) and cooking three recipes. One of which is among the first three recipes ever printed for tomatoes. It's a minestra alla molignane - or a kind of eggplant stew with squash, onions, tomatoes, spices and oil. That's about it. Oh and verjus. Normally I would sautee the eggplant and onions, add the tomatoes and parsley, etc. And let it cook for half an hour or so. It's sort of an intriguingly spiced ratatouille or version of caponata. But this version is 11 big eggplants, sauteed in 11 separate batches, then a pile of onions browned, then then a big bag of tomatoes and then zucchine cut up and it is now in oven for a few hours. It will be great at room temperature tomorrow, for a crowd estimated at about 50. But this took like 2 1/2 hours just in prep work. HOW do people cook in a restaurant?? I think everyone should try something on this scale just to appreciate the labor involved.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

DOUGHNUTS – the food dept. bring you more of what you love, 4 more fabulous doughnuts

  








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Chocolate sprinkle doughnuts
A luscious shiny glaze and the crunch of homemade sprinkles on top of a fluffy light doughnut, you won't be able to stop at one - Mmmmmm
Makes approximately 12.

• 3 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 cups plain flour and a little extra for rolling
2 tablespoons caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 quantity Dutch cocoa glaze
1 quantity Chocolate sprinkles

1. Place the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and gently mix to combine.
2. Add the milk and eggs and beat to form a soft dough. With the mixer running drop in the butter, a few cubes at a time and beat until all of the butter has been added and is well combined into the yeast dough. The dough will be soft but should not be so sticky that you can’t roll it out.
3. Remove the dough from the mixer and place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and allow the dough to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. The dough can be allowed to stand overnight in the refrigerator and you can make fresh doughnuts to order in the morning! The refrigerator slows the proving process.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and give it a gentle knead. Roll out to 1 ½ cm thickness and cut approximately 12 rounds of dough with a 7cm cutter. Then using a 2cm cutter, cut the holes out of the doughnuts. Gently reroll the excess and cut out more doughnuts. Place onto a tray lined with baking paper, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 45minutes or until they have doubled in size.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large open pot, I find a wok works well, to 180C. Carefully lower the doughnuts into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown.
6. Using a slotted spoon lift the doughnuts from the hot oil, drain on absorbent paper. Place onto a cake cooler lined with baking paper.
7. Once cool dip the doughnuts half way into the chocolate glaze and then turn glaze side up and top with the Chocolate sprinkles.
8. Allow the glaze to set and then serve. These will keep for a day but best eaten the day they are made.


Dutch cocoa glaze

2 cups sifted icing sugar
½ cup Dutch cocoa powder
¼ cup milk or water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl; gradually add the combined milk and vanilla essence. Beat well to a smooth consistency. Use as required.
2. If the icing is allowed to stand for too long it may harden, add a little more milk and beat again until smooth.


Chocolate sprinkles
the food dept. made chocolate flavoured sprinkles but you can make your own sprinkles in plain white and colours to suit whatever it is your making. You will need to start at least 24 hours before you need to use them. If you’re concerned about artificial colours try naturally colouring you own sprinkles with beetroot, spinach or carrot juice.
           
• 1 cup royal icing mix (available at the supermarket or specialty cake decorating stores)
• ¼ cup Dutch cocoa
• 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
• 1 tablespoon water

1. Sift the royal icing mixture and cocoa into a bowl.
2. Add the vanilla and then the water a little at a time until you reach a piping consistency.
3. Place the icing mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain, fine nozzle.
4. Line a baking tray with paper, pipe lines of icing the length of the tray. The easiest way to get them straight is to touch the icing nozzle onto the baking paper, squeeze out the icing and then lift it up and along the length of the tray, let the icing fall onto the tray in a straight line. Stop squeezing at the end of the tray and the icing will fall away from the nozzle.
5. Allow to dry for 24 hours and then break into the required lengths, short or long, whatever takes your fancy.






















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Honey bombolini with vanilla bean custard
These doughnuts use a sweet yeast dough made with honey instead of sugar. The honey helps the yeast to prove and gives them a delicious flavour. They are cut into small rounds and once cooked they are rolled in icing sugar and then a slit is cut on the side and filled with custard.
Makes approximately 24. 

3 teaspoons instant dry yeast 
2 1/3 cups plain flour and a little extra for rolling
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup warm milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
vegetable oil, for deep frying
icing sugar for rolling
1 quantity Vanilla bean custard 
                                              

1. Place the yeast, flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and gently mix to combine. 
2. Add the honey, milk and eggs and beat to form a soft dough. With the mixer running drop in the butter, a few cubes at a time and beat until all of the butter has been added and is well combined in the yeast dough. The dough will be soft but should not be so sticky that you can’t roll it out.
3. Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and allow the dough to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. The dough can be allowed to stand overnight in the refrigerator and you can make fresh doughnuts to order in the morning! The refrigerator slows the proving process.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and give it a light knead. Roll out to 1 ½ cm thickness and cut approximately 24 rounds of dough with a 3 ½ cm cutter. Gently reroll the excess dough and cut out more bombolini. Place onto a tray lined with baking paper and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until they have doubled in size.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large open pot, I find a wok works well for deep frying and using a thermometer heat the oil to 180C (360F). Carefully lower the bombolini into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown.
6. Using a slotted spoon lift the bombolini from the hot oil and drain on absorbent paper, toss in the icing sugar until well coated.
7. Cut a slit across the middle of each bombolini and pipe in some of the vanilla bean custard. Sprinkle with extra icing sugar and serve. Best eaten on the day they are made but they can be served the following day.

           

Vanilla bean custard

1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean pod, split
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
½ cup double cream

1. Place the milk and vanilla pod in a medium saucepan over a low heat and bring to a simmer. Combine the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a medium bowl and whisk until light and creamy. Gradually drizzle in the hot milk while whisking the egg mixture. Once all of the milk has been added to the egg yolks return to the saucepan over a low heat and stir until the custard has thickened, 2-3 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and transfer for a medium bowl, cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and cool. Once cold fold through the double cream.
3. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and use as required.





















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Rhubarb and vanilla jam berliners

Berliners are pillowy soft doughnuts without a hole filled with a delicious sweet jam, custard or cream. We have filled ours with Rhubarb and vanilla jam. Believed to have originated in Germany there are many variations of this type of doughnut from around the world. The best known is probably the American jelly doughnut or what Aussies call a jam doughnut.
Makes approximately 10-12.
                        
• 3 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 cups plain flour and a little extra for rolling
2 tablespoons caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
60g unsalted butter at room temperature, diced
vegetable oil, for deep frying
extra, caster sugar for rolling
1 cup Rhubarb and vanilla jam or you own favourite store bought jam

1. Place the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and gently mix to combine.
2. Add the milk and eggs and beat to form a soft dough. With the mixer running drop in the butter, a few cubes at a time and beat until all of the butter has been added and is well combined in the yeast dough. The dough should be soft but not so sticky that you can’t roll it out.
3. Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and allow the dough to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. The dough can be allowed to stand overnight in the refrigerator and you can make fresh doughnuts to order in the morning! The refrigerator slows the proving process.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and give it a light knead. Roll out to 1 ½ cm thickness and cut rounds of dough with a 7cm cutter. Gently reroll the dough and cut more berliners. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until they have double in size.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large open pot, I find a wok works well for deep frying and using a thermometer heat the oil to 180C (360F). Carefully lower the doughnuts into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown.
6. Using a slotted spoon lift the doughnuts from the hot oil , drain on absorbent paper and toss in the extra caster sugar until well coated. Place onto a cake rack lined with baking paper.
7. Using a narrow pointed knife cut a slit into the side of the doughnuts to create a pocket for the jam. Warm the jam slightly in the microwave and place into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe into the slit in the side of the doughnut. Serve warm.



Rhubarb and vanilla jam

This recipe uses jam sugar, which you can buy in the supermarket. It has the pectin, which sets the jam, already added to the sugar. This ensure that the jam will set every time even when you are using fruits low in pectin, like rhubarb. It also means that the fruits are not cooked for a long time, making sure they keep their vibrant colour and fresh fruity taste.

• 500g rhubarb, trimmed and finely sliced
• ¼ cup water
• 2 x 125g punnet raspberries
• vanilla bean, scrape the seeds and reserve both
• 750g jam sugar

1. Place the rhubarb and water in a large open pot and bring to a rapid simmer, cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to break up the rhubarb.
2. Once the rhubarb is pulpy stir in the raspberries and give a quick wiz with a stick blender to break them up. Stir through the jam sugar over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
3. Increase to a rapid boil and cook for 4 minutes or until the jam wrinkles when tested on the back of the spoon. Using the jam setter ensures the jam will set every time.
4. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Use as required.