Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Last Night's Cooking Adventures

After my failed attempt at making a crochet shrug yesterday, last night I was ready for the day to have some success. Nigella Lawson's instant chocolate mouse seemed really simple and I had all the ingredients ready. I was also going to give making a spinach and cheese filo pie a try, too. Surely the recipe on the packet would be one with a high success rate. They want me to buy their product again, right? Something was bound to succeed.

I just love the sight of the marshmellows melting with the chocolate and butter. Gorgeous, that's art right thar! And it was yummy, too. Teena was in charge of whipping up the cream, as we don't have an electric gadget for that. After finding a suitable bowl, the cream frothed up nice and goodly, this was bound to work out right. It was when we folded the chocolate into the cream that things went south. Down it flopped! The mixture was very runny, and after reading the written version of the recipe at Nigella's website, we worked out we should have waited a lot longer for the chocolate mixture to cool. But we had only watched the utube video, when the whole thing took just a few minutes, and she told us that it would. Anyway, now we have several ramekins full of a very yummy, very rich chocolate mixture that almost resembles mousse that we need to consume in the next day or two. And we are supposed to be on a diet! Making this was fun, but I don't think we'll be doing it again in a hurry. I have a feeling its going to make me put on 10 kg, just like that yummy baked cheesecake David made for my birthday 18 months ago. But I just Love Nigella Lawson, so much so that I think I can forgive her for not telling us more clearly that we needed to let the chocolate cool!

At least the spinach pie looked appetising enough when it came out of the oven. Admittedly, I did a real rush job on the pastry. It was all falling apart from being folded, so I put whole wads of it in, and didn't seperate the pieces properly by spraying each one. The filling turned out nice, just some of the pastry wasn't great due to my hurriedness. With the spinach, I just got a packet of baby spinach and wilted it in some boiling water from the kettle. No need to cook spinach, imho. Hopefully next time I make this, we'll be able to use the homegrown greens from our garden. We've been able to eat a few leaves of rocket on our lunches for the last couple of days, and they are very tasty! Recipes and fillo pastry hints below.

recipe summary - Nigella Lawson instant chocolate mouse
150g mini marshmellows
50g soft unsalted butter
250g chocolate buttons
4 tblspn hot water
280ml whisked cream with 1 tspn vanilla
fold COOLED chocolate mixture into the cream

Spinach Pie (based on Pampas packet recipe with slight variations)
fillo pastry
a bunch of spinach, chopped
a finely chopped onion
a handful of mint (fresh from our garden)
a handful of parsley (fresh from our garden)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
250g ricotta cheese
60g cheese (parmesan and/or grated tasty)
black pepper
olive oil spray

1. Wilt and drain the spinach, add all ingredients except pastry.
2. cut filo in half, spray 10 sheets to make a stack to cover bottom and sides of oven tray
3. spoon in the filling, cover with more sprayed and layered pastry stacks
4. bake in 180c for 40 minutes.

For my future reference, here's an excerpt of how to prepare fillo pastry properly so I have more success next time, from the Pampas website.
Fillo Pastry

  • Always consult your recipe. The temperature will be approximately 190◦C conventional oven. The temperature and time for baking will vary depending on the recipe and your oven’s performance. Fillo Pastry is not suitable for microwaves

  • For best results, line tray with baking paper, or lightly oil the baking tray

  • Allow Pampas frozen Fillo Pastry to completely thaw in the plastic bag, in or out of the box at room temperature for approximately 2 hours

  • Alternatively, for best results, allow Fillo to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and one (1) hour at room temperature. Do not apply heat to accelerate thawing. Pastry should not be thawed in a microwave oven

  • Carefully remove the number of sheets required for your recipe

  • Immediately re-wrap the unused pastry in the film and place in a freezer bag and seal for future use

  • Return to the freezer or, alternatively store in the refrigerator. Do not re-freeze Fillo more than once

  • While re-wrapping the unused Fillo pastry sheets, wrap in 6-8 sheet lots for convenience when reusing

  • Fillo pastry is very thin and delicate and at room temperature can lose some moisture unless it is treated with care. Pampas suggest that during the preparation of your recipes, the Fillo sheets are covered completely with clear plastic food wrap or with a clean damp tea towel

  • For a golden appearance on a finished recipe, brush the surface lightly with milk

  • Tips or edges of fillo pastry can be sprayed or brushed with a little water before cooking to prevent over-browning

  • When using Fillo, it is preferable each sheet be lightly brushed with melted margarine, oil or butter and layered one on top of each other

  • It is important for best results that you work quickly when layering Fillo as drying may occur

  • For waist watchers, brush every 2nd sheet of Fillo pastry with margarine or polyunsaturated oil. Use 2 teaspoons of polyunsaturated oil, instead of the required amount stated in the recipe

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