17 November 2008

Cupcake advise needed

I've been toying with the idea for a while now of starting my own catering business. Most likely specialising in allergy friendly cakes and bakes as there seems to be a lack of people dealing with this specifically. I noticed this when helping with the catering for an engagement party and Mum's 50th earlier this year. There seem to be plenty of people who deal with wheat cupcakes but not that many who understand or a wiling to do gluten free, for example. We also found that the gluten free packet mixes are fine if eaten the day their baked but dry out really easily. They also don't come in a variety of flavours.

After having many lengthy discussions with friends who have allergies, and those that don't, we pretty much decided that I'd first need a definite product to market.

So my questions are this:

Is there actually a market an allergy friendly cupcakery?

What kinds of cupcakes do people enjoy? (flavours, size, etc)

10 November 2008

Christmas Lunch

So, I possibly did a stupid thing about an hour ago. I sent a massed email to a large group of friends advertising Christmas lunch at my place in a few weeks.

Why you ask?

For the last few years, a few friends have had a Christmas do. One group does a brunch, another spends the entire day together cooking and then we eat everything, and a third just doesn't do anything. As I'm working most weekends in December, and the one weekend I have off is filled with gigs, I decided to host my own.

Its going to be a very casual affair, eating outside (if the weather permits) byo lawn chair, as we have 4 chairs in the entire house, and everyone brings a plate to share. I'm not cooking for hoards in my little oven.

So its going to be a paper and plastic affair, there may even be a picnic rug spread out for some to sit on. Now to decide on what I'm going to bring.....

Damn, now I'm really going to have to clean the house properly!!

09 November 2008

The great chicken soup debacle

I went back to work last Wednesday with a sore throat and no voice. Thursday was spent at work putting the finishing touches on my presentation, giving the presentation, then lying on my office floor waiting for the headache to subside.

That's right, I had the flu/massive cold.

Now, I am the first person to admit that I don't do sick very well. If I really don't feel well and I'm left to my own devices, I tend to mope and sook. Distraction is the key to surviving.

Well that, Coldral and Chicken Soup.

The quest started on Thursday morning when I woke up, after dozing for 8 hours in 2 hour blocks, and left for work early with the intention of stopping at the supermarket and picking up some Coldral and Chicken Soup for lunch. I get there and there is NO Coldral to be found anywhere. Turns out its now pharmacy only. This left me with Ease a Cold. Turns out this stuff is all herbal. I had a presentation to give and needed the drugs!! As it was pretty much the only thing on offer, I took it and moved onto the soup.

Firstly, I HATE tinned soup. There's always this slightly metallic taste and its always way to salty for my liking. Luckily I knew I could get better in the pre-prepared section of the fridge. WRONG!! There was no soup to be found. In the end it was salad for lunch as the smell of anything else made me quite queasy.

Now I know what you're all about to say. Why didn't I just go to the pharmacy and make my own soup?? The answer is, it was 6:30am!!!

So after battling through a day at work, I went home at 7pm via a pharmacy, band (to drop of much needed paperwork) and another supermarket. I arrived home with Coldral and still no soup. Skipped tea that night and went to bed around 930pm.

Friday was a sick day.
I still really wanted chicken soup and a pot or tea. Preferably premade or someone else made, as I really wasn't up to doing anything other then lying on the couch and waiting for a kettle to boil and microwave to go ding. Somehow I ended up at the shopping centre, which has 3 supermarkets and numerous other food places, searching for chicken soup. I ended up with homemade stock from the poultry place, thigh fillets, corn on the cob, broccolli and noodles in order to make my own. There was also a visit to T2 for a teapot and green tea when I realised that I didnt actually own a teapot.

Not being able to find plain chicken, chicken and corn or chicken and noodle soup was very upsetting. I didn't realise how upsetting until I almost burst into tears in the tea shop.

Why is it that in a world where everything edible comes frozen, tinned, dried or pre-packaged into single/family sized portions where you just add water or reheat, you can no longer find a staple such a chicken soup!!!!!

My homemade soup was very tasty and there was enough for dinner tonight too!!

* 500mL liquid chicken stock
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 chicken thigh fillets, diced
* peppercorns
* 1 corn on the cob
* half a head of broccoli
* udon noodles

Brown chicken and garlic. Add stock, a little more water, peppercorns and anyother seasonings you wish.. Bring this to a very slow simmer and leave until the chicken is cooked. In the meantime, dekernel the corn and chop the broccoli.
About 3 minutes before serving, add the corn, broccoli and noodles to the pot and slowly simmer for 3-4 minutes.


05 November 2008

Cup day Cupcakes

Cup Eve, Monday, was meant to be spent at the gym before attending the Russian Film Festival with D. Instead I got a phone call from D to say that his work was having a cup day cupcake competition and he needed help with the baking part of it. So because I am the awesome friend I am, I supervised his baking in my kitchen before the movie. He baked cupcakes whilst I cooked tea.

It was a very scrummy tea, easily made gluten free. Essentially a chicken, pasta and pesto salad. There are no photos but from memory it involved the following

grated carrot
semi sundried tomatoes
lemon juice
wholemeal pasta

Cook pasta and chicken. I pan fry my chicken.
Every thing gets chopped and mixed together. Serve hot-warm.

The cupcake recipe is below. To make both these gluten free just use the gluten free versions of pasta and flour where needed!!

2 3/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
200g softened butter
1 3/4 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 170C. Line two 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake papers

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar had almost dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add a third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process. Add the remaining third of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined. Do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.

Unfortunately we didn't win on looks but they tasted fantastic!!!