Saturday, January 11, 2014

Basic houmous

Contrary to popular perceptions, houmous does not feature all that strongly Turkish cuisine, and you would have a much easier time finding houmous at a British supermarket than anywhere is Istanbul (although I am sure that Turkey's still growing middle class will eventually embrace it much like their British counterparts). This has been kind of a difficult adjustment for me since I moved to Istanbul, as I had previously basically been living on houmous during my student life. It was something cheap and that I didn't have to cook, but which was also not dripping in grease, so therefore the "healthy option". Tesco had several varieties (like roast pepper, Moroccan etc) so I felt I was getting a balanced diet. On top of that, the university newspaper where I worked for about a year had a deal with Hummus Bros at one point so we were getting free houmous in return for advertising. So really if I had to sum up my university experience in one word, that word would be "houmous". 
Yet somewhat surprisingly, I'd never attempted to make it before today. And I am surprised and delighted to discover that it is actually very easy to make, so hopefully this is only the first of many homemade houmouses!

425g canned chickpeas, plus a few more to serve
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a couple more to serve
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
6 tbsp cold water
Ground paprika to serve
Flatbread to serve

1. Combine the tahini and lemon juice in a food processor, and process for about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides.
2. Add the olive oil, salt, cumin and the minced garlic cloves, keep processing until fully mixed. 
3. Drain and wash the chickpeas, add to the food processor a cup at a time, processing in between. Add the water and keep processing until smooth.
4. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the ground paprika and add some chickpeas to serve.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tiramisu yule log

Finally this year I decided to put a stop the the gingerbread houses and villages of previous years, and make something that would take less than half a day (only 3 hours to make this yummy cake). It's a spin on the traditional chocolate yule log because I love tiramisu, and because I love this sponge cake roulade (it gets bonus points for being easily rollable as well as tasty). It was gobbled up fairly quickly, mainly by me, and I used the leftover filling to make some additional tiramisu, so very successful endeavour on the whole.

For the sponge cake: 
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sifted plain flour
3 tablespoons  cornstarch (corn flour)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice 

1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, a 45x30 cm baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and then butter and flour the paper (or spray with a nonstick vegetable/flour spray).
2. While the eggs are still cold separate two of the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. To the yolks, add the additional yolk, and the two remaining eggs. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the flour with the cornstarch. 
3. Place the egg yolks and whole eggs, along with 1/2 cup (100 grams) of the sugar, in your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for five minutes, or until thick, pale yellow, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) Then beat in the vanilla extract. Sift half the flour mixture over the beaten egg mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula, just until the flour is incorporated. Sift the remaining flour mixture into the batter and fold in.
4. In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the lemon juice and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the remaining one tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then add the rest of the whites. Pour the batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly (cannot stress have important this is) with an offset spatula or spoon. Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and when lightly pressed, springs back. Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven sprinkle with icing sugar and then invert the cake onto a clean dish towel. Remove the parchment paper, sprinkle with icing sugar, and roll up the sponge, with the towel. Place on a wire rack to cool.

For the filling:
2 cups milk
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
60 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
250 grams cream cheese (I use mascarpone)

1. In a medium sized saucepan heat 1 3/4 cups milk and 1/2 cup sugar just until boiling. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, flour, and egg yolks. When the milk comes to a boil, gradually whisk it into the egg yolk mixture. 
2. Transfer this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. When it boils, continue to whisk the mixture constantly for another minute or so or until it thickens. 
3. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl. (to remove any lumps). Whisk in the vanilla extract, and butter. Immediately cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming (press the plastic wrap against the custard). Refrigerate until cold, approximately two hours.
4. Once the custard has cooled sufficiently, remove from the refrigerator. In a separate bowl, with a wooden spoon, beat the mascarpone cheese until it is soft and smooth. Gently fold, or whisk, the mascarpone into the cold custard until smooth.

For the chocolate coffee ganache topping:
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons golden syrup (corn syrup) or honey
120g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15g) butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons instant coffee

1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the golden syrup/honey and the coffee. 
2. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using (I recommend you refrigerate).

To assemble:
2 cups very strong coffee
2/3 cups sugar
Icing sugar to decorate

Mix the sugar into the coffee until dissolved. Brush the coffee onto the inside of the spongecake using a pastry brush. Spread the filling and roll. Top with the ganache and refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with icing sugar just before serving.