Tag Archives: Scones

Angostura bitters and venison – wait, what?

This month’s AlphaBakes challenge is being hosted by Ros over at The More Than Occasional Baker, and the random letter is “V.”  I immediately thought of vermouth and vodka, but since I probably spend enough time sounding like a borderline alcoholic, I thought it might be a good idea to go for an ingredient of a non-alcoholic variety.  Other than “vegetable” (which I think might be a little too vague), I drew a blank for a while, until I was perusing my collection of winter recipes and it hit me: venison.  Perfect!  Venison is wonderful in winter-y dishes such as stews, and since it was the winter solstice on Thursday (which means that hurrah, the days are going to start gradually getting longer), it’s definitely the right season for it!  It’s also a very lean meat, so a healthier choice than beef (though usually more expensive unfortunately).  I was initially going to make venison stew, but wasn’t sure if it would count for the challenge as it wouldn’t see the inside of an oven.  I decided that I’d go for venison pie instead, since that would definitely be baked and is still a wonderfully wintery dish.  I just had to decide on a recipe…

Sometimes I go to the library and browse through the cookbooks there for inspiration.  Particularly those that I don’t want to buy since I know that I wouldn’t realistically ever use, but are still interesting to read through.  The Exotic Meat Cookbook is one such book – the opportunity to turn a crocodile, camel or kangaroo into a meal has yet to arise for me so buying the book would be a slight waste of money at the moment, but it’s still fun to read the recipes and imagine the flavours.  And the next time I’m called upon to cook zebra, I’ll know which recipe book to add to my collection.  Actually, it also includes some meats that I wouldn’t really class as exotic, such as veal, rabbit and hare, mutton and… venison.  A recipe for Angostura venison cobbler caught my eye as I was leafing through the book.  I am, of course, familiar with Angostura bitters in cocktails, but cooking with Angostura bitters?  How intriguing…  And by that I mean: oh my gosh, must try!

I’ve never really been sure what exactly cobbler is, but it seems to be fairly similar in concept to a pie but with a topping made of scones, which may or may not cover the whole thing, and no pastry on the bottom.  So basically the main similarity with a pie is that the filling can be sweet or savoury.  I was so intrigued by the  flavours in the recipe that I scrapped the venison pie idea and decided to try this out instead.  Well, it turns out that Angostura bitters goes very well with venison.  Who knew?  (Other than the authors of the cookbook…)  It definitely adds an unexpected, but delicious, flavour to the meat – kind of pepping it up.  It’s an unusual combination, but certainly a very tasty one.  I’ll definitely be experimenting more with Angostura bitters in cooking.  I was expecting the scone topping to cover the whole dish, but the recipe only made enough for a ring around the edge of the dish.  I was initially a little disappointed by this, but the topping turned out to be rather filling so perhaps it would have been too much if the whole dish was covered.  I’ll double the amount of topping the next time I make this and then I can decide how I prefer it.

Angostura venison cobbler

Serves 4-6
Adapted from The Exotic Meat Cookbook

This dish would also work well with most other minces, such as lean beef or lamb.  If you don’t have a casserole dish or something similar that can be used on both a stovetop and in the oven, you can cook the venison in a saucepan on the stovetop and then transfer it into an ovenproof dish for the oven part.  Adjust the amount of bitters that you add to your personal taste – if you’re very sensitive to the taste of bitters or don’t enjoy it very much, use 1½ tbsp, but if you enjoy the taste, go for the full 3 tbsp, though add a little at a time and taste the sauce as you go to check the flavour isn’t too overpowering.  I found that the topping recipe only made enough for a ring of topping around the edge of the dish, so if you want to have the whole dish covered, I’d suggest doubling the topping recipe.

Ingredients

500g venison mince
2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
8-9 fresh sage leaves
300ml beef stock
1½-3 tbsp Angostura bitters
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp cornflour, if necessary

For the scone topping:
170g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
40g unsalted butter
5-6 fresh sage leaves
1 egg
2-3 tbsp milk, plus extra for brushing

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Gently brown the venison in an oven-proof casserole dish (add a few drops of rapeseed oil if necessary).  Whilst the venison is browning, peel and dice the carrots and parsnips, slice the onions and finely chop the garlic clove and sage leaves.  Add them to the venison once it’s browned and cook for a few minutes more.

3.  Pour in the beef stock, along with the bitters and tomato purée, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir. Bring to the boil.  If the sauce is too liquidy, add the cornflour to a small ramekin with a few drops of cold water and mix into a paste.  Stir into the sauce and cook until thickened.

4.  Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven for 20 mins.

5.  Meanwhile, make the cobbler topping.  Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add the cubed butter.  Rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Finely chop the sage leaves and stir into the mixture along with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the egg and a little bit of milk and gently bring together into a soft dough.  Add more milk if necessary.  Transfer the dough to a floured surface and pat or gently roll out to a thickness of 1cm.  Cut out circles of dough with a 5cm biscuit cutter.

6.  Remove the venison from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 190°C.  Arrange the cut-out scone circles in an overlapping ring around the edge of the venison mixture.  Brush with a little milk.  Return the casserole dish to the oven and bake uncovered for a further 20 mins, or until the topping is golden and well-risen.

Enjoy!

PS – You know what else starts with V that I’ve just thought of?  Vanilla.  Which is only one of the most commonly-used ingredients in baking.  Facepalm.

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Happy World Gin Day 2012!

Today is World Gin Day!  How exciting is that?!  (If your answer was not something along the lines of “super duper exciting!” then just a heads up that this post might not be for you…)  Now, I’m a big fan of gin, in case you weren’t aware.  I was clearly spoilt in St Andrews when it came to Gin & Tonics, because every bartender in any pub or bar knows how to make a proper G&T (and if they don’t, they’re soon corrected).  Here in NZ…not so much.  I’ve run up against bartenders that think tonic and lemonade are interchangeable (they’re really not – have you ever tried Gin & Lemonade?  It’s foul.), and almost every G&T I’ve been served has a wedge of lemon rather than lime.  That might sound petty, but it really does affect the taste.  Particularly a gin such as Hendrick’s.  I know, I know – I’m still recovering from that particular experience.  I think I’ve just been going to the wrong bars here, but it’s still a little upsetting.  If anybody happens to know of a bar in Auckland that makes good G&Ts and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for it, then do please let me know!

Just like last year, I’m obviously not going to let World Gin Day pass by without blogging something gin-themed.  I’ve had this recipe idea planned since about April, when Craig sent me a link to a post on Total Food Geeks Edinburgh about lemonade scones, which I’d never heard of before.  The most important ingredient of the recipe is fizzy lemonade.  You know what else is fizzy?  Gin & Tonic is fizzy (though perhaps not quite as much).  You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?  That’s right.  Gin & Tonic scones.  Yes, really.  Clearly the perfect way to celebrate World Gin Day.

Whilst I had the idea back in April, it’s taken me a while to actually try it out, mostly because I was a little confused by the cream situation here in NZ and couldn’t find a double cream equivalent anywhere.  I’ll save the details for another post (bet you can’t wait), but it turns out that standard pouring cream here is somewhere between UK single cream and UK double cream.  So I made do with that.  Thankfully the recipe worked wonderfully.  The scones are light, fluffy and delicious, with a subtle G&T flavour.  I must admit that I could only just taste the gin, but that’s more a reflection on my taste buds than the actual recipe.  These scones would be perfect for an afternoon snack, served with lime curd (I told you that I had something special lined up for the batch I posted about yesterday) and accompanied, of course, by a Gin & Tonic.

Gin & Tonic scones

Makes 10-12 scones
Adapted from Total Food Geeks Edinburgh

Make sure to use a gin that goes with lime, such as Gordon’s, in this recipe.  You’re baking with it, so save your best gin for drinking.  Use freshly-opened tonic if possible to get the maximum amount of bubbles.  These are best eaten fresh, but can be made the evening before and covered with a tea e until the next day.  These are utterly delicious served with lime curd (click for the recipe – it’s very easy to make), but would probably also be tasty with lime marmalade.

Ingredients

300g all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ large unwaxed lime (zest before cutting it in half)
50 ml gin (I used Gordon’s)
100 ml tonic
150ml UK double cream or NZ cream

Directions

1.  Line a large baking tray with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

2.  Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and stir together.

3.  Zest the ½ lime (zest the lime before cutting it in half), and juice it.  Add the juice and zest to a measuring jug, along with the gin and the tonic.  Add the cream and stir together (an ice-cream float type texture is normal).

4.  Gently fold the liquid ingredients into the flour using a large wooden spoon (be as gentle as possible so as not to destroy the air bubbles).  The mixture should come together into a dough – you may need to use your hands towards the end.  The dough should be light and soft.  If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little more flour.

5.  Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Gently roll the dough out to a 2 cm thickness.  Cut out the scones using a floured 6cm round cutter and place them on the baking tray.  Gently combine the scraps to make more scones (these ones might not come out quite as presentably – consider them quality control).

6.  Bake for 16 mins until the scones are golden and risen.  Cool on a wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel (apparently this keeps the tops soft).

7.  Serve with lime curd whilst still just warm.  They’re also delicious fully cooled.

Enjoy!  And happy World Gin Day!!!  (Also, drink responsibly, etc. etc.)

PS – Fun fact: this post contains the word “gin” or “G&T” 22 times (excluding those two)…  Definitely a successful blog post.

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Cinnamon & raisin pinwheels

When I first arrived in New Zealand, I began looking for a recipe book of New Zealand recipes, preferably one categorised by seasons because as I’ve mentioned previously, I was having difficulties convincing myself that apricots in February were totally seasonal.  However, this wasn’t quite as straightforward as I’d expected and even the guy in the bookshop that I found that specialises entirely in cookbooks (uh-oh…) said that there weren’t really many books like that around.  However, apparently there is a big baking tradition, and judging by most of the recipes, this seems to have been brought over by British settlers.  So I walked out of the aforementioned bookshop with A Treasury of New Zealand Baking (after paying, obviously), which is made up of recipes by a whole host of the top Kiwi chefs, bakers and food writers, and there’s a range of recipes for all occasions, importantly using ingredients and fruits available here.  I hadn’t baked from this book yet, so I picked it for this month’s Random Recipes, the theme of which was “If I knew you were coming…” which meant we had to bake something to celebrate the 2nd birthday of Belleau Kitchen.  Happy blog-birthday, Dom!

The random number button on my trusty calculator referred me to page 200, which were the variations on a scone recipe.  I decided to go for the cinnamon pinwheels option, because, well, they sounded delicious.  I’ve never made scones before – to be honest, they’ve always intimidated me a little (a lot).  Scones just seem to be one of those baked goods that are straightforward, but can go wrong so easily, and if you do them wrong, they can turn out inedible.  So I was a little daunted at trying this recipe out, but rules are rules, so I got on with it…

I decided to throw some raisins in, so they turned into cinnamon and raisin pinwheels, and they turned out rather tasty.  I was expecting them to rise a little more than they did, but I think this might have been because I don’t quite have the “lightness of touch” required for scone-making.  I’m sure it’s a skill I just need to practice…  Don’t be surprised if scone recipes start popping up on Sharky Oven Gloves left, right and centre (and if you never see another scone recipe again… you’ll know that the “lightness of touch” skill is still eluding me).  I’m also entering these into this month’s Breakfast Club, being hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families, who happens to be a Kiwi living in the UK (and I’m sure she can correct me if I’ve got the Kiwi food scene completely wrong!).  She chose “Sweet treats and pastries” as the theme – these might not quite count as a pastry, but they definitely count as a sweet treat!

Cinnamon & raisin pinwheels

Makes 12-14 pinwheels
Adapted from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

These make a delicious breakfast, although they do take a little bit of time to put together.  You can make them the evening before and they’ll keep if wrapped well.  It is important to work these lightly or they will lose their lightness.  They didn’t rise quite as much as I was expecting, but I think that might be because I wasn’t quite as gentle with the dough as I should have been – they were still delectable though!

Ingredients

6 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
375g all-purpose flour
3 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp icing sugar
Pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter, cold
100g raisins
1 egg
300g unsweetened natural yoghurt
Milk, to brush

Directions

1.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 240°C/fan oven 220°C.

2.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a little ramekin.  Set aside.

3.  Sift the flour, baking powder, icing sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir together.  Dice the cold butter and rub into the flour mixture using your fingertips.  Stir in the raisins.

4.  Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.  Add the yoghurt and mix together, before pouring into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork to bring the dough together into a soft, sticky dough (add a splash of milk if the mixture is too dry, but it will get stickier as you roll it).

5.  Turn out onto a floured work surface and pull the dough together quickly so that it is soft and smooth.  Lightly roll out into a rectangle of about 20 x 40 cm and 1cm thickness.  Brush the dough with a little bit of milk.  Keep aside about 3 tbsp of the cinnamon sugar mix and sprinkle the rest evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough up from the long side and gently pressure it to make it an even thickness along the roll.  Cut into 2.5cm slices, and place cut side up on the prepared baking tray, leaving about 2cm between each pinwheel.

6.  Brush the tops with a little milk and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 12-14 mins or until risen and golden.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods