Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The blogosphere is quite an amazing place when you stop to think about it. Since starting this blog, I’ve learnt so many new things and “met” so many amazing and talented bloggers along the way.
As a relative newcomer to the scene, trying to find a niche is a daunting prospect. What have I got to offer that might set me apart from the other 146,000,000 (and counting) food blogs out there? I don’t really know the answer to this, but there’s one blogger who has definitely made her mark in the most ingenious way. I’m talking about Megan from Feasting on Art (the title of this post may have given it away), who offers a fabulous mix of stunning photography, interesting art tidbits and of course delectable recipes. Do I sound like a fan? Heck yeah! The first time Megan left a comment on my little blog, I was giddy with excitement - the cool kid at school talked to ME!
And do you know what I find hard to believe? Feasting on Art is not even a year old yet. It turns one in April, and to celebrate, Megan has put together a recipe contest, with the theme Strawberries. The deadline is March 27th , there are a few days yet to enter so put your thinking caps on. Visit this link to find out more.
Without further ado, here’s my entry of a lemon shortbread decorated with fresh pistachios and honeyed yoghurt, topped with a dried strawberry “flower”. I wanted to try and create something visually appealing as an homage to Megan’s blog – hopefully it does her justice.
Happy first blogoversary Megan ☺
Make this part first as it keeps in an airtight container for a day or two. Plan to do this when you are doing other baking so that you can utilise the preheating and cooling down heat of the oven.
It’s pretty simple to make really, just draw some circles on a piece of baking paper, flip over onto a baking tray and use as a guide to arrange thinly sliced strawberries on it. The thinner the better. Make sure the strawberries overlap to help them stick together.
Place baking tray in a very low oven (I started at about 75 ˚C), and leave until the strawberries are dehydrated. Alternatively, after about an hour or so, I put the tray on the very bottom rack when I needed to turn the oven temp up, then after I finished baking, I turned off the oven, put the strawberries on the middle rack and left them in there to dry out overnight.
Carefully peel off strawberries, and store between clean sheets of baking paper in an airtight container. The strawberry flavours will be beautifully concentrated and the texture will be a bit like fruit leather.
(adapted from this basic recipe)
250g butter (room temperature)
¼ cup (about 25g) rice flour
265g plain flour
100g caster sugar
dash of vanilla extract
zested rind from 1 medium lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy, about 2 minutes if using electric hand beaters. Add the vanilla, lemon rind and lemon juice, beat until well combined. Add the rice flour, beat until well mixed. Scrape down side of bowl and clean off the beaters using a spatula. Fold and mix the flour into the mixture in the bowl, using the spatula. Scrape and flatten and fold is the best way to describe it. Do this until the mixture forms a soft dough (it will be very soft).
Scrape the mix onto a square of plastic wrap set on the bench top, flatten into a disc, wrap well and refrigerate until solid enough to handle (about an hour or more).
Preheat the oven to about 160˚C. Roll out half the disc onto a lightly floured surface, cut into desired shapes (don’t forget to flour the cutters too), then bake for about half an hour or until cooked and golden. Repeat with the other half of the disc. The dough is very soft, so dust with flour as needed.
Leave biscuits to cool for 5 mins or so, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Be careful, the shortbread will be very fragile so use a fish slice or large offset spatula to transfer from baking tray to wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.
Yoghurt with fresh pistachios
I dithered for ages trying to decide between using thick cream or yoghurt, but settled on yoghurt because the shortbread is already so rich.
The fresh pistachios were an impulse buy from the greengrocers. The texture of a fresh pistachio is almost like a raw pea, and the flavour isn’t that pronounced, with an almost milky aftertaste. The darn things require a lot of effort to peel so I wouldn’t use them very often. But for novelty value and sheer prettiness I’d buy them again. They’d do well stirred through rice dishes or salads I think. (On an arty note, green is the complementary colour to red).
¼ cup shelled fresh pistachios (could probably substitute dried, but the texture would be altered) – minced finely
about 3 tablespoon thick Greek style yoghurt, depending on taste
about 1 ½ tablespoons honey (again depending on taste)
Stir all the ingredients together and set aside in the fridge.
When ready to assemble, place a shortbread on a plate, dollop the yoghurt on top, then finish with the strawberry flower. Ta-dah! Serve immediately or the shortbread might go soggy.