Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A borrowed recipe

One of the things I love about being on Violet's Pantry is the recipes that get shared between members, both in the recipe exchange and by looking at other members blogs. This recipe came from Gail, which I saw again on Maria's blog 'The Goddess's Kitchen'. It took just two times to convince me I needed to make it.
What appealed mostly was seeing how ridiculously quick it would be to make. It is basically Anzac biscuits but made into a slice and topped with chocolate. So none of the rolling and pressing of biscuits, just whack it in a tin and bake. Excellent!
It came out beautifully, chewy and soooooo easy to eat more than a slice. I can truly see this being a faithful lunchbox filler recipe, especially given how simple it is to make. Thanks Gail and Maria for inspiring me to make it!

Afternoon Tea Slice (from Gail on Violet's Pantry)

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tblsp golden syrup
125g butter
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tblsp hot water
300g dark chocolate, melted ( I used dark and white chocolate)

Preheat oven to 160c. Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Place golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat and cook until melted. Mix the bicarb with the water, add to golden syrup mixture and stir to combine. Add to oat mixture and mix well. Press the mixture into a lightly greased 20cm x 30cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 20 mins or until golden. Allow to cool in tin. Pour over the melted chocolate and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares. I drizzled mine with melted white chocolate and melted dark chocolate as I didnt have enough of either to use!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Catch up

There are a number of things I keep meaning to add to my posts- tags and awards from other bloggers but keep forgetting, so will devote this whole post to it!
I received the Excellent blog award from George and Granny
-which was a lovely thought and much appreciated!
I was also tagged by Violet, who wanted those she tagged to describe themselves in 6 words!
After a bit of thinking my 6 words are:


Creative
Fun-loving
Loyal
Greedy
Sarcastic
Passionate

Finally, my top ten foodie photos so far which (it doesn't surprise me) are almost all dessert or cake!

Hot Cross BunsQuick Lamb KebabChocolate Feijoa CakeDelia's no fail egg custardTiramisu on a StickButterfly CakesTea PartyAvocado and CornSlut red raspberries in chardonnay jellyBlueberry and Nectarine GalletteThanks for thinking of me, those who tagged me, I don't know anyone who hasn't already been tagged, most of those blogs are on my list of other great blogs to visit, so make sure you do!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rainy day fun

What better activity for a rainy day than a spot of colourful decorating? Inspired (yet again!) by Nigella's currently screening series 'Nigella Feasts', we decided to give her cut out cookies a go. Visiting again was my good friend Nicki, as well as her kids and nephew, so I thought this might make an enjoyable distraction for us to all get stuck into. Mostly it was, except for my controlling tendencies around my 3 year old when she wanted to upend most of the contents of the pink icing bowl onto her cookie, followed by as many silver cachous as she could cram on before I intervened. Aaaaah the joys of preschoolers! The older kids loved this though, staying quite focused and (even more importantly) quiet for a good length of time. I would definitely do this again!

It was a welcome diversion from the usual electronic forms of entertainment that one usually relies on when the weather is inclement!


Here are a selection of their masterpieces!



Here's the recipe:

Cut out Cookies

Cookies:
6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (85g)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Icing:
2 to 3 tablespoons just-boiled water
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
Food coloring, preferably pastes

Special equipment: cookie cutters

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C)

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and moving towards moussiness, then beat in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you think the finished mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour, but do so sparingly as too much will make the dough tough. Form into a fat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place disk of dough on it, and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the cookies a little apart on 2 parchment or silpat lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes; obviously it depends on the shape you're using and whether they are on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after about 5 minutes. When they're ready expect them to be tinged a pronounced gold around the edges; they'll be softish still in the middle, but set while they cool.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Colour Purple

How appropriate that my 50th post for this year is devoted to a 50th birthday 'cake' creation! My good friend Jacqui recently turned 50 and I offered to take care of the birthday cake as her present. She themed the party 'Deep Purple' so an array of purple cupcakes was what resulted. I went over the top on the purple part, having great fun designing and decorating the whole shebang. My dear husband helped out with the cupcake 'stand', from measuring and cutting the polystyrene layers to decorating them (except the bows, I did those!). My good friend Nicki came for the day to help decorate the cupcakes, it was a totally enjoyable way to spend the day, nattering and catching up while doing something wonderfully creative!



The cupcakes were half chocolate and half lemon syrup cakes. I used standard cake recipes, just cutting down the cooking time for their smaller size. The lemon syrup cake recipe is from one of my older posts, the chocolate cake is Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake from Nigella Feasts. I liked this chocolate cake as I was making 48 cupcakes out of it (I made two double mixes) and as it is all done in the food processor it makes it a so much easier and faster.To ice I used the buttercream icing (for the chocolate cupcakes) and cream cheese frosting (for the lemon syrup cupcakes) from a previous post - both tinted with various shades of purple! Nicki dutifully painted the various coloured flowers and leaves left over from the tea party purple and gold.The party was fabulously fun, with everyone entering into the theme, Jacquii dying her hair purple for the occasion! It was a lovely night for a lovely person!

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup best-quality cocoa
1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter (170g)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream

Special equipment: 2 (each 8-inch diameter) layer tins with removable bases, buttered

Frosting:
6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
Sugar flowers, to decorate, optional

Take everything out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25 minutes. Also, it might make sense to switch the 2 cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don't worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the frosting later.

To make this icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don't want any burning or seizing.

While the chocolate and butter is cooling a little, sieve the confectioners' sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz to remove lumps.

Add the corn syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved confectioners' sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor onto the powdered sugar, with the motor running.

You may need to add a little boiling water, say a teaspoon or so, or indeed some more confectioners' sugar, depending on whether you need the frosting to be thiner or thicker. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.

Choose your cake stand or plate and cut 4 strips of baking parchment to form a square and sit 1 of the cakes, uppermost (i.e. slightly domed) side down.

Spoon about 1/3 of the frosting onto the center of the cake-half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the 2 together.

Spoon another 1/3 of the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with icing and leave a few minutes until set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.

I love to dot the top of this with sugar pansies, and you must admit, they do look enchanting, but there really is no need to make a shopping expedition out of it. Anything, or indeed nothing, will do.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Four (or is it Five?) Fantastic Feijoa Recipes!

Well the feijoas are falling from the trees thick and fast. While we have a tree, as does my mother - and usually this is enough to keep us supplied, this year one of my mothers friends announced she has trees laden, with the fruit rotting as there were too many for them! Well, we had to put a stop to that immediately and trooped over there to gather a good many bags of the little green goodies.
Feijoas are one of those trees that every Kiwi has in their back yards and is available for such a short time that they are usually devoured with relish. We certainly haven't had enough to make relish that is for sure! But for some reason, because they are so plentiful it kind of goes against the grain to actually pay for feijoas, even though they have now become quite trendy (One of 42 Below Vodka's most popular flavours is feijoa!).
Only when they are in oversupply does one think what more can be done with them. It turns out, quite alot!
I have started really looking forward to the fruit ripening on our tree just for this one recipe alone. It is a magical flavour combination- my first reaction to the idea of it was eeeewwww, but it really works. I made this one for the kind pheasant meat supplier as a thankyou, I decorated it with sour cream icing, based loosely on the ganache for the Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake from Nigella's Feast. (I am always loose with icing recipes, I just do what 'looks' right even if I start with a recipe!!!!)

Chocolate Feijoa Cake
185g butter
3/4 c caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c peeled chopped feijoas
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2c Self Raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c sour cream.

Heat oven to 180c.
Combine feijoas, brown sugar and cinnamon in bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir sour cream into feijoa mix and combine well.

Sift dry ingredients into creamed butter/sugar/eggs and add in feijoa mix, combine well. Transfer batter into prepared tin (I use a ring tin) and smooth top evenly. Bake 40-45mins, or until skewer/knife comes out clean. Sit for 5 mins before turning out.

Next up is a very easy but stunningly flavoursome - Feijoa Sorbet. We first ate this at Logan Brown's gorgeous restaurant in Wellington which we have only eaten at a couple of times, both times memorable (and expensive, but worth it!). I cheekily asked for the recipe which they happily gave me! My son has become a dab hand at making it (I love that he will patiently sieve the seeds out of the fruit puree!) and it is so simple but so outstanding! If you love feijoas, this takes things to a whole new level!

Feijoa Sorbet

3kg feijoas
3 lemons, juiced
350ml sugar syrup
50 ml glucose

Place lemon juice in a bowl. Half the feijoas and spoon out the flesh, place in the juice. Puree in the food processor, then pass through a sieve.Add the syrup and glucose. Add a little green food colouring. Pop into an icecream maker and churn or pop into an icecream container, freeze, then break into blocks and put back in food processor to whip up (it should lighten in both texture and colour. When smooth and 'fluffy' pop back in the container to freeze. It is then ready to be used!

For something a little different I also made Feijoa Jelly - my mother very kindly made the juice up for me to just turn into jelly. It is very simple though, you just peel the fruit, cover with water and boil until very soft and pulpy. You then whiz it up and put it into a jelly bag and suspend the bag over a bowl to get all the lovely liquid out of it. With the juice you end up with (discard the pulp) you put a cup of sugar to each cup of juice you have (one for one) and boil it up as you would jam, until it gets to that 'set' stage. Pop in a hot and sterilised jar with a seal lid (as you would jam). Mum also had crabapple juice from some crabapples she had gotten so this got made also. Both were just fabulous served up with freshly made lemonade and cream scones (my new favourite scone recipe!) I have several jars stored away for when I feel like something a little different on scones or my toast!

Feijoas also make the most gorgeous chutney, I made this one to serve up with the pheasant terrine we had a few days ago but it is the perfect foil for just about any kind of cheese too!
This makes about 6 smallish jars.......
Feijoa Chutneys
1.5 kg feijoas
1 kg onions
1/2 cup crystallised ginger
2 cups sultanans
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 litre malt vinegar

Method
1.Peel and chop the feijoas and onions and slice the ginger finely. Combine all ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer until thick, then pour into jars. Seal when cold.

Finally although not a recipe, the other use for this excellent supply of feijoas is with crumble for dessert. I usually put apple in too, this is just the most yummy and easy dessert! I love autumn!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cooking with Carys

After all the cooking I have been doing with Rex I thought I had better find something to do with Carys! Having just watched Nigella Feasts on the tv we decided that the chocolate crackles looked just the thing! It was also lucky that I had just bought the book Feast: Food That Celebrates Life so had the recipe to hand!

This is the absolutely easiest thing to make with a preschooler, she was able to get really stuck into it, from putting the muffin cases into the tins to sprinkling the sprinkles on at the last. As Nigella says, these are too easy to eat and I had to put them in the spare fridge in the garage to give them a chance of setting, or we would have been too tempted!
I must say that I added extra chocolate as I felt that the prescribed amount wasn't going to be enough, so I added in about 50g of extra dark chocolate. We made these again a few days later using rice bubbles, and this time using a mars bar and a small bar (about 60g) of caramello chocolate. They were also lovely!

Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes

Ingredients

55g Mars Bars
55g Unsalted Butter
70g Cornflakes


Chop the Mars Bars into bits and put into a saucepan with the butter.


Melt, over a low heat, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula.


When everything is melted, tip in the cornflakes and turn them with your rubber spatula until they are totally coated.
Fill muffin cases with the mixture and put in the fridge to set for at least an hour.

Aubergine bake

Aubergines are a firm favourite of mine. The rest of my family can take or leave them (usually they leave them!) so I try many ways to incorporate them into recipes where they might not detect them! I love their earthy mushroomy flavour, they are especially good sliced and roasted. This recipe was a throw together of a few things I had to hand, but worked very nicely and would make a lovely lunch with a fruity chutney and a dressed salad.

Layered Aubergine Bake

2 medium or 1 large aubergine
2 capsicums
handful of cherry tomatoes
handful of basil leaves
400 g feta cheese
4 eggs
handful of chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
handful of grated cheddar cheese

Slice eggplant and place on lined oven tray, spray with olive oil and bake in oven at 200C for approx 20 mins. Pop the capsicums in at the same time to roast and remove when blackened. Place capsicums in plastic bag to sweat, then remove seeds and skin.
Whizz feta, eggs, parsley and mint together in the food processor until smooth.
Line a round cake tin with foil. Cover bottom with cooked aubergine slices. Spread over half the feta mixture, then layer more aubergine, the roasted capsicum (sliced into strips), then feta mixture again topped with cherry tomatoes and basil. Layer last of aubergine and top with cheese. Bake at 180C for approx 45 mins and cheese is golden brown.