Archive | January, 2012

Easy Spiced Eggplant Canapes

29 Jan

These tender juicy little bites of vegetabley goodness are really cheap and easy to make. When someone thinks of canapés, or hors d’oeuvres, eggplant is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, but these delicious little nuggets are a real surprise that will impress your guests and leave you looking like a master chef!

These little bites are delicious, cheap and easy to make

Easy Spiced Eggplant Canapes

Ingredients:

(makes about 50 pieces)
1 eggplant, cubed
2 Tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup of plain flour
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup of bread crumbs

Dipping sauce:

¼ cup whole egg mayonnaise
¼ cup cream
2 teaspoons chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 stalk sliced spring onions
salt & pepper to taste

How to:

Dice the eggplant into bite-size pieces. Mix 2 tablespoons salt and 2 teaspoons cumin together and dust over the cubed eggplant.

Set up three bowls: place 1 cup of flour in the first bowl; make an egg wash by whisking together the egg and milk in the second bowl; and the breadcrumbs in the third bowl.

Coat each piece thoroughly in flour, then in the egg wash, then coat liberally in bread crumbs.

Heat a fry pan over a medium heat with about a 1mm layer of canola oil (or other low-flavoured oil) to cover the base of the pan. Working in batches, fry the eggplant cubes, turning frequently, until browned and crunchy all over. Remove from the pan and drain any excess oil by placing the cubes on a paper towel.

Making the sauce:

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, reserving a tsp of the sliced shallots for a garnish.

Enjoy!

Tips

It helps to work out a system by which you keep one hand dry and get one hand wet, otherwise the crumbing process turns into a much bigger mess than necessary! You can also use a fork to coat the pieces in egg and transfer them to the breadcrumbs to reduce the mess factor.
You can also fill a bag with flour and a bag with bread crumbs, place the pieces inside and shake well to coat. Do the breadcrumbing in smaller batches to ensure even coverage. I don’t recommend doing this with the egg wash.
These can also be made gluten free, if you substitute the flour and breadcrumbs for gluten free varieties. Orgran corn crispy crumbs make a tasty crispy coating, I found them in the gluten free section of my local supermarket. You can also leave out the milk from the egg wash for lactose intolerant guests.

Vanilla almond biscotti

22 Jan

I seem to be obsessed with all things sweet, and I love spending a Sunday afternoon baking up a batch of cookies to enjoy with an afternoon cuppa (and to take to work the next day to show off my wares). Biscotti are a traditional Italian biscuit, stemming from a Latin word that means “twice-baked”, this double baking process helps keep the biscotti fresh for a very long time. You can use a variety of whole nuts and some dried fruits in them to give them unique flavours, although the traditional kind were only made with almonds.

Vanilla almond biscotti

Vanilla almond biscotti

Ingredients:

(Makes about 80 pieces)

2 cups plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves or nutmeg
1 cup almonds*

How to:

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix together well. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add the vanilla to the egg mixture. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, add the almonds and stir to combine into a smooth dough.

Flour your work surface well, keeping the flour handy, because you will probably need more than you think. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour to the surface and over the top of the mixture if it gets sticky.

Divide the dough in half and roll each portion into a log, about 20cm long. Flatten the logs slightly to create the classic oval biscotti shape.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. When it is ready, it should feel firm, but not rock hard.

Take the logs out of the oven and let them cool.

When cooled, use a serrated knife to cut into thin slices, about 3mm thick. Place the slices onto baking trays, lined with baking paper. I needed 3 large trays for this, and it’s ok to have the biscotti slices touching each other.

Bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until they feel crisp to the touch. Leave the slices to cool on the trays, before storing in an air-tight container.

Enjoy with coffee or tea (chai goes well with the vanilla flavour), or even a sweet dessert wine.

Variations:

Frangelico and hazelnut biscotti: substitute the vanilla for Frangelico, and the almonds for hazelnuts.

Christmas biscotti: Substitute the almonds for unsalted pistachios and add ½ cup dried cranberries.

Macadamia and white chocolate biscotti: Substitute the almonds for macadamias and add ½ cup white chocolate.

Notes:

* I recently found some delicious Coles brand ‘French vanilla almonds’ – almonds coated in a sweet vanilla toffee-like coating, in the deli section at Coles supermarkets. These taste especially good in this recipe. You could also try caramel or toffee almonds.

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