Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pear and Leek Soup

This is an elegant soup which I have adapted from a recipe by Beverley Sutherland Smith from her beautiful book 'A Taste of Class' (1980) which is now out of print. If you can find any of her books anywhere, grab them as she is a brilliant epicurean cook and author.

Note: It is important to use green pears as ripe pears will make the soup too sweet.

For the soup:

60g (2 oz) butter
1 bunch leeks (include a little of the green)
1 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 - 3 (500g) firm green pears
1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
salt and ground pepper to taste

For garnish (optional):
Pouring cream and chopped fresh chives or fried leeks.

Slice leeks thinly into rings. In a large bowl of water, wash leeks and leave to drain well in a colander or sieve. In a heavy based saucepan, melt the butter. Saute the leeks until they are soft but don’t let them brown. Add the chopped pears and saute for a further few minutes. Add the potato cubes, cover with stock, season then simmer the soup gently until the potatoes are tender (approximately 30 minutes). Blitz soup until smooth and creamy.

To serve: Pour the cream gently over the back of a spoon to form a spiral pattern. Garnish with chives.

Baby Carrot Cakes

These lovely little morsels have been adapted from Loretta Satori’s Carrot Cake from 'The Cooks Book - Patisserie' (2004). 

Loretta Sartori is described as a pastry-chef extraordinaire, and has the reputation as being Melbourne’s best-kept culinary secret. She has given lessons at (Accoutrement) in Mosman and The Essential Ingredient in Melbourne.

Sartori's original recipe will make two 20cm round cakes. I have made 24 little cakes with the same quantity. The addition of the pineapple (preferably unsweetened) makes these little cakes very moist and although it is an oil based recipe, the cakes are lovely and light.

Baby Carrot Cakes

6 (300 g) medium eggs
400 g brown sugar
500 ml sunflower oil
450 g grated carrots
1 tin (350 g) crushed pineapple, well drained
180 g chopped walnuts
525 g all purpose flour
6 g bicarbonate of soda
10 g baking powder
6g cinnamon
4 g salt

Whisk the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale. Using a slow speed on you mixer, carefully pour in the oil until it is absorbed. Stop the mixer and fold through the grated carrots, crushed pineapples and walnuts. Fold in the sieved dry ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for 20 to 25 minutes. If you prefer to make larger cakes, use 2 X 20 cm round cakes and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

You can sprinkle castor sugar and cinnamon on top before they go in to the oven or leave them plain if they will be frosted later when cold.

Cream Cheese Frosting

500g cream cheese at room temperature
100g icing (confectioners) sugar
1 lemon, zest and juice
zest for decoration

Cream the cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice and zest until light and smooth. Spread over the tops of the little cakes. Sprinkle extra zest on top.