12 September 2009

Biscuit disaster averted!

I almost had a biscuit disaster yesterday. Every season so far this year, I do the supper for the Monucs concert. Last season involved 2 days of making cakes, macaroons and choc chip bikkies. This season is just choc chip bikkies, some with nuts and some without.

The disaster began when I realised that I couldn't find my recipe. It's one I stole of a friend and tweaked slightly. Last season I ended up with flat, chewy biscuits of awesome addictiveness. When I couldn't find it, I started the search for another recipe. The only thing I had an issue remembering was how much flour was needed. So I turned to Baked. The differences between the Baked choc chip cookies and mine is in the flour and sugar content. They use 2 cups, I use 3.5 of flour, sugar they use 1 cup brown, 1/2 white, I use 2 cups dark brown.

Then resulting cookies were cakey. I really don't like cakey cookies. So I ended up on the internet trawling through facebook trying to find the recipe again and success!

For future reference
(double batch)

3.5 cups plain flour
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
250g choc chips
2tsp baking powder

04 September 2009

more cook books

So I just did a very naughty thing. I spent money I don't have on more cookbooks event though I have a pile sitting at home that still needs to be worked through.

I will soon be the proud owner of a Field Guide to Cookies, a Field Guide to Candy and Pioneer Woman Cooks. Books by 2 of my favourite bloggers.

The ones still to work through are
Baked (which I found in Borders here in Australia for the first time but, I"m happier with my signed copy direct from the store itself!)
3x Donna Hay books

and many many more.

Oh well, I'll work my way through them all eventually

31 August 2009

So it seems that my complete lack of posting and baking in the last few months can be put down to a few things.
- work
- uni
- life
- housemate
- boy

Everything has now been sorted and things are good. I have found that my need to bake and consume sweet things has decreased in the last few weeks. This is most likely due to the new boy in my life who I am spending most of my free time with. I'm not much of a snacker when with other people.

It's also interesting that according to the spell check, snacker, isn't actually a word. Then again, it doesn't recognise contractions and the non-US spelling of words either so I'm going to assume its wrong.

26 July 2009

happy things from last night's christmas in july

having a "who fits into my tuba case best" competition

the lamb being oh so rare and just cooked
hanging with friends all day, both new and old


evil chocolate mousse (taken directly from a gchat with satan herself

250g chocolate
500ml cream
1 egg
2Tb golden syrup
2 Tb butter
add the egg butter golden syrup and half the cream to a saucepan whisk while heating and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes after the butter has melted
remove from heat add teh broken up chocolate misx til smooth
evil: while that is cooling to room temp beat the rest of the cream til it is stiff peaks sweeten to taste
oh also vanilla
1/2 a teaspoon
evil: when the chocolatey part is cool to room temp gradually add to the cream (or vice versa it doesnt really matter i have found) and mix gently til all mixed in
stick in fridge for at least 4 hours
eat and enjoy!

20 July 2009

The last month or so

The last month or so has been pretty hectic.
Exams are now over and its onto the research part of my course. It looks like I won't actually start the experiment side of it for another few months as the lab hasn't been set up properly. Other then that there has been lots of baking and cooking happening. I have a back log of things to post.
Some of the items are birthday cake and muffins of awesomeness.

The latest in baking news is that we're having Christmas in July this year! The 25th falls on a Saturday. I'm not working that night so we can party. It's pot luck as usual and all I need to do now that I've sorted out what I'm making is to hire the bulldozer and cleaning fairies to clean the house.
I considered taking before and after pictures last night to document just how bad things can get. The only issue is that I did do a bit of a clean last week so things aren't looking too bad at the moment, compared to normal that is....

More on that when there are photos

02 June 2009

3 weeks to go!

Well, it was last Friday.

Panic stage hasn't set in just yet but worry stage sure has. First exam I thought went fine. Turns out I didn't do as well as I had hoped. Still got a Distinction but I wanted more.

This weeks holds a lot in store. I have major exams to start studying for as well as some cooking/baking to do. I missed the inaugural Daring Cooks challenge (ricotta gnocchi) and I'm not missing this one!

Still writing the lit review and pining over kitchen aid mixers. Whilst I don't need one, they do come in handy. Being able to set something beating and walk off would be most welcome.

19 May 2009

Ta Da!!

I just handed in an assignment worth 30% of my grade, 4 days early!!

The rest of the work load looks like this

23/5 Supper for 300 (coconut macaroons, choc chip biscuits and some kind of slice)

25/5 8am - X-ray Diffraction exam
12pm - practice talk in front of entire research group

27/5 10am Honours talk (for real this time)
1pm Electron Diffraction lab (5 hours)

29/5 Electron Diffraction assignment due

5/6 Lit review Due

11/6 Quantum Mechanics exam

19/6 Electron Diffraction Exam

At some point I need to write up and hand in my lab report.

Then I can sleep

10 May 2009


So it seems that writing a Lit review at the last minute properly with references and such, only works when you remember to bring the file with you to work.

It seems that I have left the file along with my ipod (aka, usb stick) at home. This has left me with the option of handwriting my draft and then typing it up tomorrow.

Yes, there is a copy of it in my uni inbox. This is only useful when the text editor you're using opens properly without crashing. Word has decided to die on my laptop, hence the handwriting.

It other news, it seems that my shoulder is still hurting. It's been almost a week and there's a good chance that yesterdays massage made it worse. Pain is annoying as its the type that makes me queasy.

Oh well, back to it.


06 May 2009

My mission tonight

Tonight I intend on doing some serious baking as well as cleaning out the freezer.

The plan is to make more chocolate raspberry cake and possible a repeat of the caramel cupackes.
There may even be a visit to the gym if I get home in time. Otherwise its chicken salad, baking and more study for me.

Oh the pain of my huge work load!

02 May 2009

mmm tacos and exams

It there was one spice combination I love, it would be mexican. That elusive blend of onion, garlic, cumin, paprika and chilli that makes my taste buds sing.

I discovered the spice mix by reading the back of a packet. Yet getting the quantities right still eludes me. At the moment I deal with it by using a packet of taco seasoning and then adding extra cumin, paprika and chilli powder. The onion and garlic just get added anyway.

So the latest creation has no photos as I left the camera at uni. It's a take on beef and bean taco fillings. I'm not the biggest fan of tortilla bread or taco shells. I'll eat them but I do prefer to mix all the fillings together on my plate and eat it that way :D

500g minced beef
taco seasoning
ground chilli
1 can refried beans
2 cans crushed tomato.

chop onion and garlic. Fry until golden. Add the mince and brown.
Stir in spices, seasoning, beans and tomatos. Add a few cans of water and stir to combine.
Simmer for 30ish minutes until think and tasty. Make sure you stir frequently as the beans have a tendency to stick to the pan!

I've been eating this straight the last few days. Tonight however, I jazzed it up with some mashed potato, cheese and sour cream. I found extra light sour cream at the shops which is devine. Most dairy products (cheese, icecream, milk, yogurt, etc) I prefer the full fat stuff. Sour cream however, I prefer the light. Full cream sour cream makes me ill if I have more then a tablespoon. It's also too think to properly melt over everything.

My other news is that I have my first exam in 3 weeks. In the second last week of semester. A 2 hour exam at 8am Monday morning. The good part about this is that it gets it out of the way so I can concentrate on my other two exams which will be nastier then this one. I have the advantage with this subject that its on synchrotron optics and xray diffraction which is what I work with. So I can make a connection between the theory I'm being taught and the reality of what's actually being used.

Hopefully things will turn out well.

The tally so far is 4 assignments, 1 lab and 1 exam in 4 weeks. Then 2 exams afterwards. By the end of June I will be less stressed.

Ideally I will get a chunk done this week as I'm taking 3 days off work to spend on study.

27 April 2009

Pretzels that failed

I tried my hand at pretzels on Easter Monday and I think I failed. The recipe is the original Daring Bakers pretzel recipe and mine came out nothing like everyone elses.

No crusty brown tops or intricate weaves of goodness.

Instead I ended up with incredibly yummy, butter drenched rolls.

What have I done??!!

This the recipe I used:

Hot Buttered Pretzels

Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

For the dough:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (you may need a little more)

For the pretzel topping:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  1. Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Work the ingredients together until you can form a ball. If the dough is very dry, add a bit more warm water until it comes together. The dough will look messy, but don’t worry about it.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading by pushing the dough away with the heel of your hand, and then folding it back in onto itself. Push the dough away again and then fold back in. Continue this motion, working the dough until it’s smooth. This should take anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough in a mixer with your dough hook for 5 to 6 minutes).
  3. Once the dough is done, sprinkle some flour on the dough and put it in a large, oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to an hour. It will rise considerably.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and set aside.
  6. Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a long rope that’s roughly 24 inches in length. (Don’t make it too long or your pretzels will be too thin.)

  7. Taking hold of the ends of the rope, cross the rope over itself to form a circle with about 4 to 5 inches on each end that are sticking out. Twist the ends over themselves and secure each end on either side of the pretzel.
  8. Carefully dip the pretzel in the water and then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
  9. Sprinkle the pretzels with the kosher salt and let them rest for about 15 minutes.
  10. Put the pretzels in the oven for 6 minutes, then rotate the trays and bake for an additional 6 minutes. Keep an eye on the pretzels so that they don’t burn.
  11. Remove the pretzels from the oven and immediately brush them with the butter. Keep brushing them with butter until you’ve used it all.
  12. Serve the pretzels warm with plenty of mustard or another condiment of your choice.
  13. Enjoy!

I'm currently deciding which logo to use on the site. So be prepared for random images

How to add zest to your life

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

That's right its Daring Bakers time again!!! This month was cheesecake. Oh how I lurve cheesecake. My only issue is that it is too rich for me
to consume it in the quantities that make my taste buds sing. We were allowed to flavour it however we wanted provided it was still cheesecake. You'll find the recipe below as well as my adaptations. This months target audience were Choristers. We spent Easter Sunday watching movies, eating a fantastic roast veal lunch (direct from the farmers market) and devouring this gooey lime cheesecake with a chocolate crust. It took 2 days to eat and was well worth the urge to hurl (yes, I ate that much of it and no, I did not hurl. the 4kgs I put on that weekend can attest to it.)
The only thing I would do differently would be to alter the cooking time. Mine was still runny in the middle. I think if I raise the temp to 200C and keep the time the same it should fair better.
My kitchen now owns a new scan pan 32cm (read gigantic and just fits into my oven) pot for waterbath and a new 9 inch springform tin to match. It fills a 9inch perfectly too.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (digestive biscuits work just as well)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup cocoa (add in with crumbs)

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

Replace last three wth the following

zest of 3 limes

juice of 2

2Tbsp lemoncello

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

18 April 2009

Excuse me whilst I drown until a pile of work

I've become a very bad blogger.

It's been almost 2 months since I got back and all I have to show for it is that one measly post. Anyone would think that I've been incredibly unproductive. Well I haven't. Since I've been back I've done quite a bit of baking/cooking. Unfortunately there are no photos to show for it so you'll have to deal with descriptions instead.

The list so far

- Daring Bakers Valentino Cake flavoured with blood oranges
- Gluten Free Chocolate Raspberry Marbled Mud Cake (still needs tweaking)
- uber mac and cheese (realising that my cheese sauce always splits and I never know why)
- This months Daring Bakers challenge
- Coconut and Lemon Chiffon Cake (have I mentioned how much I lurve chiffon cake?!)
- uber mashed potato (add caramelised onion and fresh tomato and I'm in heaven
- Easter Sunday lunch roast veal Om nom nom nom nom nom
- Pretzels (they didn't brown at all but still tasted good)

To come

- This months Daring Cooks challenge
- last months daring bakers challenge (I really need to make the lasagna!)
- the oatmeal raisin cookies from Baked
- beef/lamb stew

and soo much more.

The chiffon cake is currently in the fridge getting nice and cold so when I slather it with coconut cream I don't end up with crumbs in my crust. Then again it would serve me right considering I hopped in the shower and forgot it was in the oven. Luckily I remembered just as the shampoo washed out so I was able to jump out, rescue it from the oven and jump back into the shower :D

below are more photos of my trip.

10 March 2009

I'm back!

See it really did break!

It's been ages since I was last here. The main reason is that I went on a fantastic overseas holiday. I hit New York for a week, London for a day then hopped over to Italy for two weeks. As a result I have a lot of trouble eating Australian cheese now. The mozzarella in Italy was amazing, so good in fact that I went to the Vic Market on Saturday and ordered some. Whilst waiting for it to arrive I tried buffalo mozzarella. It lasted less then 12 hours........

Any way time to spam you with my latest creation. This is a recipe from Jess and her mother. I highly advise eating it with rice or pasta to soak up the sauce.

Directly pasted from my inbox as typing it all out required patience.

How much of ingredients you get kind of depends on how big your pan is. I could only fit two layers of stuff in my pan. But here are the basic ingredients.

Basically you need:

White wine (Yalumba unwooded chardonnay works well but whatevs, just make sure it's dry and doesn't taste like piss)
Dried Bay Leaves
Olive Oil
Tomatoes, or a tin of tomatoes

Marinate the meat (I used two chump chops) in vinegar, salt and paprika, with just enough marinade to coat the meat and a little left over. Marinate for the time it takes to chop everything else (big slices, not diced, except for the onions and garlic)

Fry off the onions and garlic in a heavy-based pot (like a casserole, or in my case, a bessamer pot) until soft. Switch off the heat.

Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks.

In the pan, layer like this:
(if you remember) Tomato
Bay leaves
2 cloves
If you fail like me and forget the tomato, just layer everything else, say "Oh crappy crap" and pour a tin of chopped tomatoes over the top.

Fill to about 3/4 (if in doubt, a little more rather than less) with white wine, and then pop a handful of parsely in on top (don't bother chopping it, just the whole bit, stalks and everything). Grab the olive oil and pour some on so there's a thin film of it.

Put back on the stove and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 or so hours (at least an hour and a half) until the meat falls apart and the potatoes are hard on the outside but nice and fluffy on the inside :)
Serve with rice and modafila (which is for another day, i.e when I've asked my mum for the recipe...it's basically spinach but interesting).

Hope you enjoy :)

Now for the photos!!
I went, I ate, I drank, I bought the book and never wanted to leave

The bestest salad in the entire world

29 January 2009

Light, Crisp and a broken whisk

It's that time of the month again!!

That's right. Daring Baker challenge time. For once I was prepared and got this done weeks ago. It was so simple that if it wasn't for work, I would have made them several times over.
This months challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day an
d Zorra of Ix umruehren aka Kochtpf. They have chosen Tuilles from The Chocolate Book by Angelique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
The challenge involved making one of the above recipes and matching it with something light. I chose to bake classic Tuilles, as it was my first time, and paired them with the mango mousse from last months challenge. This month was bake off month! Last October the challenge was Pizza which happened to coincide with a friends birthday. So we had a pizza night. It was on this night that my good friend Jess decided that she wanted to be a Daring Baker too! It's taken a few months, admittedly live got in the way, but Jess and I have finally had a challenge bake off.. The organisation was done very professionally. We didn't once refer to what we were doing as 'nudge nudge, wink wink' or 'uber top secret flute things'............we're both flautists............No. Not at all...

So we decided to team up this month and have a crazy night of baking. The result. Many, many, many tuilles, giggles and confusing online conversations with other friends.
You'll find the recipe we used below. I decided not to make butterflies, instead I just grabbed and offset spatula and started spreading. From memory, I used limes, lemons, rolling pins, egg cartons and there were attempts at cones.

The are definitely only so many tuilles one can eat at midnight. The rest were left until the next day where they became much chewier after absorbing moisture over night. Chewy but still good.

I won't spoil what Jess filled hers with however, some of it did end up in my tum tum.

The broken whisk mentioned in the last post was the direct result of trying to make the mango mouse. Sometimes, good old fashioned muscle just doesn't work! There's a photo lurking somewhere....

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams /
1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

28 January 2009

My trip

Its been mentioned before but here it is again.

I'm going on my first overseas holiday!!! :D

Although I've been overseas before, I was 6 and it wasn't a holiday. We moved house. This time around I'll be in New York for a week and then its straight to Italy for another 2. The only down side is that I'll be getting back a day or two after honours starts. I miss all the orientation stuff, which can be made up another time so who cares!

If anyone has any must see places at either of my destinations, please let me know.
Whilst in Italy I'm hitting, Naples, Venice, Trieste, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Orvieto (hopefully).

I'll try to keep things updated as I go but no guarantees. Facebook and lj are your best bet.

17 January 2009

Things I've done in 2009

So far in 2009 I have made new friends, tried real Portuguese food thanks to Jess and broken my whisk.

The new friends were found on Beach Trip! I went away with a group of people primarily from Monucs (Monash Uni Choral Society). The rest of the posse was made up of people from the Sydney, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide equivalents with a few non choristers thrown in the mix. I was one of the non-choristers.

Cooking for 50 people each night was an interesting experience.

Some people don't seem to understand that there are many ways of helping the cook. Chopping is one way. Hanging around, talking and keeping her company is another way. All 4 methods will get you on her good side and off the dish duty list.

The whisk died during a battle with egg yolks and corn flour.