Monday, July 25, 2011

New Blog

I've started a new blog here -

You will see photos and drawings (eventually) from my home. I would love to see you there.

Feel free to leave comments here still though. They are always very much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Challenge Book #43 - Animal Crackers

These animal crackers are deadly. Not in the figurative sense of being starfish - a creative use of my meagre stock of cookie cutters. Creatures not exactly known for their bloodthirsty cunning and ferocity.

They are more in the line of being deadly to your waistline. Not only are they delicious, they are hard to keep track of being so small. It's all too easy to have just one more!

I was very surprised when I saw this recipe. I had no idea that animal crackers were sweet biscuits. Shirley Temple has a lot to answer for.

They are also very quick and easy to make. I left out the honey, not being a fan and all and added an extra few teaspoons of sugar. It seemed to work well.

Icing them is probably the time consuming task. But it's worth it. I thought they tasted almost exactly like chocolate wheatmeals.

This recipe is of course from Challenge Book #43 in the KJ wants a Kitchen Aid Challenge. This is the first recipe I have made from this book. The first of many for sure.

Animal Crackers
(adapted from Field Guide to Cookies)

1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbspn light brown sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 tspn baking soda
1/4 tspn salt
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
2 tspn honey
1/4 tspn vanilla
1/4 cup cold buttermilk

Grind the oats in a food processor until they are very fine.

Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a stand mixer and mix on a low speed to combine.

Add the butter in pieces and mix to a fine meal.

Add the liquids and mix to fully combined.

Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch. Cut into desired shapes with cutters. Place biscuits on a lined baking tray.

Bake in an oven preheated to 175C for 7-9 minutes. Leave to cool.

Melt together 6oz chocolate and 3 tspn butter. Spread over the biscuits and decorate as desired.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meringue with Pears, Hazelnuts and Chocolate Sauce

Rest assured, I am still here. I have been very bad with posting. I haven't been well, and so the kitchen is collecting cobwebs. Hopefully, I will be back soon with goodies to share. And there is still the KJ Kitchen Aid Challenge. The finish line is in sight!!!

In the meantime I have searched the archives, or should I say archive, for a post. This pear hazelnut meringue was looking awfully sad rattling around in there all on its loneseome. It was time to release it to the world.

Shame on me for keeping it hidden for so long, because it is so good. I adore meringue in any form. But the pear chocolate sauce is an added bonus. It is so, so delicious.

There is nothing particularly tricky here. The most important thing in making meringue is to keep beating until the sugar is dissolved in the egg whites. Maximum result for minimal effort.

Meringue with Pear, Hazelnuts and Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from Jamie at Home)

4 large egg whites
200gm golden caster sugar
pinch of salt
100gm hazelnuts, toasted
2x400gm tins of pears, in syrup
optinal: 2 pieces stem ginger, chopped
200gm dark chocolate
400ml double cream
50gm icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped
zest 1 orange

Whisk egg whites to firm peaks. Gradually add the sugar and salt. Whisk at high speed for 7-8 minutes, until the mixture is white and glossy and all the sugar is dissolved.

Spoon the meringue onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place in a 150C oven and for an hour, until crisp on the outside and a little soft and sticky on the inside. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Drain the pears and reserve the syrup. Slice the pears into thin wedges. Pour the syrup into a saucepan with the ginger and warm gently to simmering point. Take off the heat and add the chocolate, stir until melted.

Whip the cream, vanilla seeds and icing sugar to soft peaks.

Smash the hazelnuts to small pieces. Scatter half over the top of the meringue. Spoon over half the cream and drizzle with some of the chocolate sauce. Divide most of the pear pieces over the top. Pile on the rest of the cream and pears. Drizzle over more sauce and the rest of the hazelnuts. Sprinkle over the orange zest. Serve straight away.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Raspberry-Iced Cupcakes

Is there anything more beautiful than the luscious red of a perfectly ripe raspberry? I think not. Is there anything more horrifying than the cost of said raspberries in the depths of winter? I think not!

Thank goodness for the wonders of the supermarket freezer section. Life is so much better with raspberries in it.

These cupcakes are so easy and so spectacular. Just look at that gorgeous colour. They are a delight in every way.

The cake batter is mixed in a food processor in just a few minutes. They are incredibly light and airy and buttery. If I had any criticism they are a wee bit crumbly. Next time I will also cut back on the baking powder a bit, as I found there was a very slight kinda alkaline after taste.

As for the raspberry icing, a minute or two max and you are done. Just delicious. And did I mention gorgeous!!

Raspberry Iced Cupcakes
(from Sun Herald Newspaper)

250gm unsalted butter, softened
200gm caster sugar
4 eggs
250gm self raising flour
2 tspn baking powder
1 tspn vanilla
5 tbspn milk*
160gm icing sugar
40gm frozen raspberries, defrosted
extra raspberries for decorating

Place butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Gradually add milk until smooth and combined.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake papers to two thirds full. Bake for 15 minutes in a 200C oven or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, place icing sugar and defrosted raspberries in bowl and whisk together. Push through a sieve to remove seeds. Spread the cupcakes with icing and decorate with cachous and extra raspberries.

* This is an Australian recipe. 1 Australian tablespoon (20ml)= 4 teaspoons. 1 US tablespoon (15ml) = 3 teaspoons.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


I must be the only person on the planet who is quite happy they weren't at Woodstock. Not that I was even born or anything, but you know what I mean. I would be dirty and disgusting and tired. That's not the problem, I have been there many times. More importantly, I would be bored stiff, out of my mind in fact.

I have minimal interest in music. I appreciate songs for their association with personal events, rather than for themselves. It's a genetic quirk because noone in my family likes music much either. We had two albums to our name when I was growing up. One was Aker Bilk, which my Dad played occassionally. And the other was bagpipes from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which my Mum played once in a blue moon.

What does this have to do with the nougat you see before you? Well, nothing, but I am so tired of people going on and on about Woodstock. If I hear that Marcia Hines (a deadly dull Australian Idol judge) was there ONE more time, my eyes are going to stay permanently rolled at the back of my head!!!!

Breathing...... breathing......okay, rant over. Thanks for listening.

Now, this nougat. I love nougat. Along with honeycomb, it is probably my favourite sweet. I have tried to make it before with no success at all. A big pan of super sticky runny mess.

But when I saw this recipe in a Delicious magazine supplement, I decided to try again. Apparently, the recipe comes from the Chocolat Cafe in Cairns. I have never been there, but I will make a beeline if I ever get to Cairns again.

I was just delighted when it set. The fact that it tasted so good was an added bonus. My favourite nougat combination is pistachio and cranberry. Cranberry cuts through the sweetness to give a delicious sharp tang. It is just yum!

There are a few important things to know when making nougat. You need the motor power of a stand mixer. This mixture is way to thick for a hand mixer. You have to get it into the pan and smoothed out lickety split, because it starts to stiffen almost instantaneously. Do not get your fingers involved in any way until it is well cooled. Do not store in a jar like this - it will all sink down together into one immovable mass. The story I could tell!!

(adapted from delicious cafe food supplement)

edible rice paper
1/2 cup honey
1 cup liquid glucose
350gm castor sugar, plus extra 30gm
2 egg whites
45gm copha, melted*
125gm nuts, chopped
60gm candied or dried fruit, chopped

Line a 16cm x 26cm non-stick slab pan with baking paper overhanging on all the edges. Line the base with edible rice paper.

Place honey, glucose, sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook uncovered and without stirring until the mix reaches 120C. Continue boiling the mix.

At this stage, whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer (important!!) to firm peaks. Slowly beat in the 30 gm of extra sugar. Continue beating until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Fill the sink with 5cm of cold water.

Once the sugar mix has reached 140-143C (hard crack stage) remove from the heat, and dip the saucepan base into the cold water for 5 seconds or until the bubbles subside.

With the beater on a medium-slow speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream. Once the syrup is incorporated slowly add the copha. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes until thick and glossy.

Working quickly, mix in the nuts and fruit and tip into the lined pan. Smooth the surface, lay over edible rice paper and press gently. (Do not get your fingers involved with the nougat as the mixture will still be very hot and very sticky!!!)

Set aside and leave to cool for six hours. Lift from the pan and cut into pieces.

* Copha is solidified coconut oil. It comes as a white block packaged like butter. When melted it goes clear. Other names include Kremelta or Palmin.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Little Apple Doughnuts with Blackberry Lemon Icing

I think I have mentioned here before what a non-fan I am of deep frying. It's kinda scary and messy and plain old artery clogging. It would only be something with super duper irresistibly delicious potential that could tempt me into it. And here it is people - little apple doughnuts with blackberry lemon icing.

I spotted this recipe in the local paper a few months back. I eagerly clipped it out and every week or so I would pull it out and just gaze at them. So good. They just looked so good! Finally, I just wore myself down.

These were really worth the unfamiliar effort. Soft and fluffy, with a sweet hit of apples and a lovely zesty tang from the icing. They were really good!

While they take a bit of time, there is nothing particularly difficult in the recipe. The trickiest thing is getting the two halves of the dough to stick together. It would all look fine and dandy, only to have them split back into two during the final rise. I found that pleating the dough, as you would a dumpling, worked best.

Actually, there is another problem with these doughnuts. They are all too easy to eat. Three bites max, room for a second, oh maybe another, and just one more, and.....

Little Apple Doughnuts with Blackberry Lemon Icing
(adapted from Sun Herald Newspaper)

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
5 1/2 tbspn sugar*
180ml milk
3 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
500gm plain flour
2 pinches salt
12gm dried yeast
120gm unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, whisked
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/2 lemon, juiced
6 blackberries, crushed (I used tinned)

Cook apples, 2 tbspn sugar and 2 tbspn water over low heat for 30 minutes or until soft. Set aside.

Mix remaining sugar, milk and eggs in a bowl. Place flour, salt, yeast and milk mixture in the bowl and mix with a dough hook attachment for five minutes on low until smooth and soft.

Cover with plastic wrap and place over another bowl of hot water for 40 minute or until the dough has risen. Add butter to dough and mix until combined. Continue mixing for five minutes. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Roll dough out to 0.5cm thick. Use a 5cm cutter to cut out 24 tops and a 4cm cutter to cut out 24 bottoms. Brush the edges of a 4cm round with the whisked egg. Spoon 1/2 tspn of apple mixture onto the middle of the round. Top with the 5cm round and pinch the edges together. Repeat.

Cover with a damp tea towel and keep in a warm place for 35 minutes or until risen.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer to 170C. Cook 2 doughnuts at a time for five minutes, turning halfway through, until golden. Place on some absorbent paper and leave on a rack to cool.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice and blackberries in a medium bowl until thick. Dip top halves of doughnuts into the icing and leave to set.

* This is an Australian recipe, so 1 tablespoon = 4 teaspoons. 1 US tablespoon = 3 teaspoons.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cinnamon Buns

See these, these are cinnamon buns. And they are yummy. Scrummy in fact.

See that icing, that is cream cheese icing. It is oh my god good. I was never all that enthused about cream cheese icing on cinnamon buns. It sounded kinda weird. It's not!! I made sure I did not miss out on even a drip.

The recipe for this came from my sister (who got it from someone who got if from someone who got it from a long forgotten source). She sent it to me ages ago and then hounded me until I baked them. I got a text message every Monday without fail. I'm glad she didn't give up because they are yummy. Did I mention that.

Cinnamon Buns

3 tsp Dry Yeast
1 cup Warm Milk
½ cup Sugar
½ cup Melted Butter
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
4 cups Plain Flour

1 cup Brown Sugar
2 ½ tbs Cinnamon
1/3 cup Butter

8 tbs Butter
1 ½ cups Icing Sugar
½ cup Cream Cheese
½ tsp Vanilla

Dough: Mix Yeast and 1 tbs sugar into warm milk. Leave in a warm place until frothy. Sift flour, salt, sugar and make a well in the centre. Add yeast mix, eggs and melted butter.

Mix to a dough and knead in a bread machine, using a dough hook or by hand until smooth and elastic.

Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch and roll out until approx ½ cm thick.

Filling: Beat butter until creamy, add brown sugar and cinnamon and mix until smooth. Spread over the dough.

Roll up lengthwise. Cut into slices. Place on a biscuit tray and cover and leave to rise for an hour.

Bake for 10-15 mins in 190C oven until brown around the edges.

Icing: While buns are baking, beat the icing ingredients together and spread over each roll while still hot.

Eat while still warm for maximum enjoyment.

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