Google+ Followers

24 November 2010

New challenges!

Aside from the Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks challenges that have been going on I've also entered a challenge with someone I've met through the Daring Kitchen. It turns out that we live down the road from each other and both of us bought the same cookbook recently.

So last week we picked a section and the challenge was to back 2-4 recipes from it and post on Sunday. At the moment it looks like I'll be doing it all on the weekend and stocking up my freezer.

I generally need to stock up my freezer anyway. What to add other then pasta and curry?

The other news is that my partner and I split up last week and all I want to do is eat my weight in pomegranate frozen yoghurt.

23 October 2010

This is so gross

I've been put onto a tv show called solitary. So I'm watching season 1 episode 3 and they have just had to eat a crap load of food. Watching them eat it all made me want to chuck. Thankfully someone on the show did.

13 October 2010

Recap of the last week

The housewarming went swimmingly. Everyone loved my potatoes and the random bean salad I made. I haven't tasted it yet but it looks good.
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, diced
1 carrot diced
chives, diced
olive oil.

Stick everything in a bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top.

My potatoes were the twice baked potatoes from PW. The changes I made were to omit the cheese and milk from the filling and to flavour it with chives and thyme. I've made it before with everything in there and they came out very soupy. I also made my favourite coconut cake recipe, omitting the lemon curd filling and whipped cream. I just made sure that the coconut was very toasted for maximum flavour. It still tasted great 3 days later.
Unfortunately I have no photos.

I do have photos of cake though. Lots of cake.

02 October 2010

Housewarming 3.1

Okay so third house in 2.5 years so it's time for the third housewarming. If you're wondering why it's version 3.1 then listen whilst I explain.

3.1 is friends
3.2 is one set of family
3.3 is the other set of family

C's family housewarming will consist of parents, siblings, grandparents and uncles. Mine will be parents and maybe my sister. Hence 2 different parties.

We specified byo grog and meat for the bbq so hopefully this will mean that we only have to provide salads and our own protein. I'm expecting to have to provide basic snags anyway as there are always people who forget. The best part is salads!!!! I love a good salad.

At the moment I'm thinking the veg version of twice baked potatoes from PW. I use thyme instead of bacon. As well as a basic green salad and a chickpea/bean with roasted capsicum and greenery of some kind. I'm hoping to avoid providing bread as C doesn't eat it and I don't want it in the house. I'm trying to avoid it. Sweets will most likely be a fruit platter of some sort or some cupcakes. Depends on what I can whip up after my nap. I'm making a lot of cake that week.

Friday is a going away bbq at work for someone I actually like and seeing as work is funding the bbq I asked him if he would like cake as well. I got an astounding YES! Seeing as I don't really know how many people will be going I think I'm going to supply a coconut and lemon slab cake, cupcakes and possibly choc dipped strawberries or brownies. I am known for my brownies at work. The issues is that I'm taking my car in to be serviced on friday morning so transporting everything to work is going to be difficult unless I drop it all off on thursday or really early friday morning. Really early Friday morning might be best I think. Then I can drop my car off early as well before hopping on the bus back to work/uni. Looks like I will be spending most of thursday morning baking. 6am start here I come!

02 September 2010

Where I've been.

I know that I promised to update regularly but it seems that this has fallen by the wayside. Depression does that. Turns out that my hectic lifestyle of full time shift work and part time study has left me stress, anxious and depressed. We're trying to fix this.

In the mean time I have a new project for Monday. My partner and I are moving in together in a couple of weeks and his current housemates are throwing him a farewell dinner. I'm making the cake. This cake to be precise


I can't remember the site I stole this picture from but the design is from a book called cartoon cakes. I should probably start making some of it this weekend so that it has enough time to dry, namely the flag. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Will let you know how it turns out.

02 August 2010

Baking plans for this week

It seems that I am incredibly slack at blogging. I haven't given up baking, I just haven't blogged about it yet. The list so far involves my shiny new kitchen aid mixer. I can't remember if I've posted photos of her yet. her name is Toffee

here is a photo


Yes. She is the 90th anniversary edition Candy Apple red artisan mixer and my new baby. So far we have found made many things

This is my first birthday cake. It's a chocolate mud cake with banana flavoured swiss meringue icing. The mud cake is from a womans weekly book and the icing is from howtoeatcupake. It's completely fructose friendly, made with spelt flour instead of wheat, and was well accepted by the band.

Birthday cake number two is a butter cake with a chocolate cream cheese mousse filling and a  chocolate swiss meringue icing. The sprinkles were the best bit and I made myself sick on the mousse filling the night before.




Two weeks later my man C celebrated his birthday. At his request I made my chocolate raspberry mud cake and took it into band so we weren't left with butt loads of cake.



I made him out of marzipan and he was delicious. C did complain about having a skewer up his bum but he would have fallen off otherwise. Yes, my man is a redhead.

What else has happened....

Well there's this


MY GODSON HAS ARRIVED!!!!


He's so cute and adorable.

Back to the point of this post. I've got a couple of things to bake this week. Firstly is my favourite cherry pie. The only issue is that the book that has my go to recipe for pie crust and cherry filling is sitting in in someone else's house. I loaned it to a friend and he hasn't returned it yet. Thankfully I managed to find the recipe online. I'm also planning on making a blueberry cobbler/crumble fructose friendly so that C can eat it.

Then for Thursday night I said I would provide dessert for a bbq. There's meant to be 20-30 people so I was planning cupcakes and brownies. Or I might just churn out a couple of batches of different cupcakes. So far I'm planning on bringing back my lamington cupcakes or maybe turning them into coconut with lemon icing and then having a separate chocolate thing. To make sure that I get everything baked and ready in time I may have to do some of the baking on Tuesday.

Will post photos of things as I go.

08 July 2010

I promise I'm still here!!

So the last few months has lead to me being pretty absent from my baking blog. I've completed the last few Daring Cooks/Bakers challenges but just haven't gotten around to blogging them yet.

The biggest news is that I went out and bought myself a new shiny kitchen aid stand mixer last week. She's the 90th anniversary candy apple red edition and so called Toffee as here in Australia we have Toffee apples, not candy apples.

I have so far made 2 cakes, 2 frostings and a chocolate mousse in her. Next week will mean another cake gets whipped up, providing I can find my 6 inch cake tin, otherwise I'll have to use the 3 inch tins and they will take forever! The reason I finally splurged is that it was my birthday on Monday and every year I normally treat myself to some kind of baking/cooking course. However, I didn't get my arse into gear early enough and missed out on what I wanted so I spent the money on a mixer instead. She's perfect and takes the hard work out of beating butter and sugar together. My electric hand mixer will still be used. What else will I take with me when I go to other peoples houses.

28 June 2010

exam pain

Doing a take home exam at the moment and its painful!

thankfully I never have to look at quantum field theory again after this.

27 June 2010

Vindicated!

I feel vindicated!

I just read about a need David Lebovitz has to collect jars. You can read about it here. Reading it made my heart sing with joy as there is someone else out there who like to reuse jars as much as I do.

Growing up there were always spare empty jars in the pantry. They were either for shaking up gravy bases or for drinking out of. Since moving out however, my collection seems to have dwindled due to C insisting that I throw empty jars out. Hence anytime my need to jam has arisen, it has failed due to not having enough jars to store the products in. This year however I'm thinking of starting my collection earlier in the year so I can start jamming in spring.

Yes, you're all getting homemade ham for christmas this year!

25 June 2010

I seem to be getting the hang of the whole low gi thing very slowly. It seems that the essence is no more white flour or highly processed foods and more whole grains, fruit, veg and protein. I think if I can stick to the recommendation of 1/4 carbs, 1/4 protein and 1/2 veg I should be fine. Or was it 30/30/40?

Either way, less refined carbs and more fruit and veg.

Tonight's dinner is pumpernickel with low fat cream cheese and turkey breast. Nutritious.

22 June 2010

best and simplest dish ever

ice cream with sprinkles.

NOM!

The whole low GI thing

I found out just over a week ago that I have PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. To me it's rather depressing as it means that I'm going to struggle losing weight and its confirmation that I really am overweight and have health issues. The good part is that I have a blood test to prove the I'm not diabetic or likely to become so anytime soon and PCOS is treatable, but not curable.

One of the first things I need to do is lose some weight (already doing) and start switching to a low gi diet. I prefer things like brown rice and bread anyway so its not going to be that hard except when we combine it with a fructose intolerant partner, meals are going to become tricky.


First things first though, I am now armed with books and I'm not afraid to read them.
I was thinking that my first steps are no more white bread and I need to cut down on the pasta unless its with a very healthy sauce. I think this may involve cleaning out my freezer....

15 June 2010

erm...yes...

I've been a bit misplaced lately in terms of blogging. I've missed the last few Daring Bakers challenges not due to a lack of confidence but due to lack of time and the last Daring cooks also due to lack of time but, I'm aiming to get this months challenge out tomorrow as well as this months Cooks challenge when it gets announced.

I've also joined the aus_cookie_swap on livejournal and will be making that batch of bikkies tomorrow. I'm thinking my fool proof choc chip but I'm not keen to part with it. Maybe some oatmeal choc chip...

09 June 2010

Cakes

Turns out that I haven't uploaded all my cakes into the one spot yet. I realised this whilst talking to a dear friend in the UK and he said that he has never seen my cakes.

This is for you Smittens!

We start with a gluten free chocolate raspberry mud cake for a halloween themed 21st. The birthday girl was told that if she didn't pick her own cake then I would decide and she would end up with a hot pink spider. She loved the idea. So instead of hot pink, she got a sprinkle-back spider. Everything on that cake is edible and gf except the legs and eyes. There is also a lime jelly center but that didn't work so well. It was meant to ooze when cut into but I think the cake soaked up most of it... here is another view



The next cake was due the same day for a wedding in Bendigo. It was at the China gardens and was also a chocolate raspberry mudcake. The only issue we had was that it was over 30C and the icing melted slightly. So the first shot is the nice one from before it left my house and the second one is the slightly melted version that arrived at the reception venue. They loved every bit of it.


before the 90min car ride in stinking hot heat


and afterwards

Next we have a cake that I did not bake. I only covered and delivered it. This fruit cake was for my housemates mother's 2nd marriage. The florist arrived after I delivered it to add the flowers.


      



Cake number four I again did not bake, only iced and decorated. This was for friends I met at uni. Someone else did the bride and groom on top. I did the flowers and butterflies though.




And now we come to the last cake. Please note that these 5 cakes all happened between Oct 31st 2009 and Feb 27th 2010. 

The last cake was for another friends 21st. It was a chocolate cinnamon swirl with chocolate ganache. The cake and icing are both fructose free, some of the decorations aren't. She requested a purple sparkly chocolate dragon that wasn't too rich and fructose friendly.



The small purple candles on the sides were the best $2 I have ever spent. Magic candles are entertaining for all!


30 May 2010

Dark Days Challenge

So I came across this thing today called the Dark Days Challenge.  It's all about eating locally and sustainably at least once a week during the winter months and I thought what a great idea.

The only issue I have is that I live in the city and there isn't much near me in the way of farmland so my spin will be to make a meal each week that comes out of both my Aussie farmers direct box and something I find at the farmers market. If I can find something from the supermarket that also fits the bill then why not but ideally it won't.

Tonight's meal just happens to fit that perfectly. I made beef rissoles with mashed potato. The only things that did not come out of my AFD box were the zuchinni and the cheese.

Rissoles
makes 8 large rissoles

500g Beef mince
1 onion, grated
1 zuchinni, grated
3-4 small carrots, grated

mix everything together in a bowl until well combined and it starts to resemble sausage mix. divide into 8 mounds and pan fry until cooked.

Mashed potato

3-4 potatoes, peeled
1-2 tbsp butter
chunk of cheese, grated (I used devondale vintage chedder
splash of milk

steam potatoes until tender. Add butter and crush with a fork/potatoe masher. Add milk and cheese and stir until the consistency you like.

29 May 2010

LIfe changing events

The last week has been seriously awful. It started with my giving an appalling talk and then handing in an equally appalling essay and it got worse from there until Thursday.

On Thursday I was offered a job that I hadn't even applied for. Someone asked me to come and bake the cakes at their cafe. If it worked out then I would leave my science career behind and start working 3 days a week in a cafe as baker and general kitchen hand. It would mean quitting my current job and picking up some extra shifts during the semester in the first year labs at uni.

The pros are:
- no more evening shift work.
- I'd be doing something I enjoy
- All work is during the day
- Lots of extra skills being learnt

Cons
- Huuge pay cut
- having to work every weekend
- possibly not having enough time to work on my honours project

I am also scared silly about screwing up and not being as good as they think I am.

That being said I think I'm going to take it.

17 May 2010

Woe!

My tops are now starting to feel loose and the jeans are becoming more loose too. This means I will probably have to go shopping in a few weeks.

I hate clothes shopping. Nothing fits right.

15 May 2010

Just another tequila sunrise..


Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Foodhave chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found onwww.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.
So its that time again. It was incredibly tasty but it got demolished or in the freezer before I remembered to take a photo.... So here's the recipe.

Ingredients
1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles) 24 ounces 678 grams - roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely. Other green chiles (NOT bell peppers) could probably be substituted but be conscious of heat and size!)
7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium)212 grams - peel, remove stems
4 cups Chicken broth (32 ounces/920 grams)
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional
Directions:
Roasting Fresh Chiles
1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.
2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.
4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.
5. DO NOT RINSE!

Green Chile Sauce
1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas
1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

Corn Tortillas (from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen)
Makes about 15
1 3/4 cups masa harina
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water
Pour hot water over masa harina, cover and let sit 30 minutes. Add (additional) cool water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is soft but not sticky. Divide the dough into 15 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
Heat a large (two burner) ungreased griddle or two large skillets, one on medium-low and one on medium-high.
Put a ball of dough between two sheets of plastic. If you don’t have a tortilla press, press to a 5-6” circle using a heavy frying pan or bread board or other heavy, flat object. Put the tortilla into the cooler pan or cooler end of the griddle. The tortilla will probably stick, but within 15 seconds, if the temperature is correct, it will release. Flip it at that point onto the hotter skillet/griddle section. In 30-45 seconds, it should be dotted with brown underneath. Flip it over, still on the hot surface and brown another 30 seconds or so. A good tortilla will balloon up at this point. Remove from heat and let them rest while cooking the remaining tortillas. Use quickly.


13 May 2010

Plan for today

So I need to write this down some where so it will actually get done.

The plan for before I head to work is this: stick all the data from December through excel and make sure its graphed and averaged so I can peak fit at work tonight. Ideally I'd like to have the stuff from feb done as well. This is so I can spend tomorrow on my other assignments.

Wish me luck.

Oh and there will be this months Daring Cooks post up in the next few days. Just bare with me!

03 May 2010

Daring Bakers April

I'm late with this one but better late then never right?!


The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.


I've never made steamed pudding before and the thought of having to use suet grossed me out. I don't know why it does. I have no issues with lard, butter or dripping but suet grossed me out. Be proud though, I actually went to the butcher and asked for it. They didn't have any though so I had to use the Suet pudding mix from the supermarket. I halved the recipe on the back of the box and then played around a little as I wanted banana pudding!



Suet Banana Pudding
Ingredients
60 grams of suet mix
2 Tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup semolina
1 eggs, lighten beaten
2 bananas, mashed





Method
1. Mix dry ingredients together then add wet.
2.Spoon into a lightly greased 600ml pudding streamer. Cover securely with lightly greased, pleated greaseproof paper, aluminum foil and twine.
3.Immerse in pan of boiling water. Ensure water comes half way up the sides of the pudding bowl.
4.Steam 2 hours.

19 April 2010

Daring Cooks April







I'm on a role at the moment. Not only did I get out last months daring cooks challenge but I also got out this months daring bakers AND cooks challenge on the same day! :D


More on the Darign bakers later in the month.




This months challenge was Brunswick Stew. A classic dish from America. Cue blog checking lines now:


The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club


My first impressions were 'Easy, I'll knock this out in no time once I get past my aversion for stew this month'. I had already knocked out one or two for the freezer and the thought of having to find another one did not fill me with joy. Luckily it got to the end of the month and I needed food for the freezer at work. I decided to do the short version as I could prepare most of it over a few nights and then just bung it all together at the last minute. The only changes I would possibly make would be to not use pork. It ended up being a little two sweet for me and I didn't add the extra sugar. I made half a batch and forgot the beans.

My chicken chops and pork sparerib. There were 3 spareribs but the other two got eaten....


Rather then make my stock completely from scratch, I semi cheated. The meat was cooked in premade stock with a bay leaf and some peppercorns added for extra flavour.

Once done, the meat gets fished out and the stock goes in the fridge to cool so all the fat will scrap off easily

After sticking everything in the pot and cooking for a while you end up with something like this. I added extra veg from the steam fresh range because I like veg.







Recipe Two, The Short Way

Serves about 10
2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth - yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
Tomato juice
In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

Masterchef season 2 episode 1

!!!!!

It's back! I looove masterchef with a passion. I had some friends demand that I enter in season 2 but I steadfastly refused as I still had another year of honours ahead and as much as I could deal with my life being broadcast on national television, I was not comfortable with my loved ones having their lives invaded.

Today was the top 50 who were about to be whittled down to 24 by the end of the week. Their challenge was to create a nommy bbq dish in 90 minutes. Some looked very tasty. I especially wanted Marian's bbq prawn salad.

The 10 worst dishes had to face elimination where 5 would stay and 5 would go. As their pressure test, they had to make Donna Hay's pavlova. A dish that every Australian has eaten but surprisingly few have attempted. Personally I have only made a chocolate version and even then not very often.

The recipe can be found here.
The tips given were to make sure that the egg whites were stiff before adding the sugar and to add the sugar gradually.

I enjoyed watching this at work whilst communicating with A via sms. We couldn't be in the same room and watch so we smsed instead. It was fun.

Our plan now is to make fructose friendly pizza and pav on saturday night. I think we're using the Donna Hay recipe and maybe the Daring Bakers pizza challenge from a year ago.

10 April 2010

Alas

Girls lunch has been cancelled as one of the girls can't make it. Oh well, we will all see each other at choir camp in a few weeks time. I am head chef. It's all meant to be vegetarian so this is the menu so far.

Morning tea - fruit and biscuits
lunch - tomato and bean/lentil soup and a pumpkin and eggplant tagine. (something exciting and not so exciting) with sandwiches
afternoon tea - antipasto things
dinner - baked potatoes with bean topping, carrot salad, roasted cauliflower and roast veg salad.
dessert - either birthday cake or a fruit cobbler/crumble

morning tea - either PW's cinnamon buns or birthday cake
lunch - leftovers!
afternoon tea - find your own!

I also found out that they would like me to do something special for their next concerts supper. I normally whip up large amounts of choc chip bikkies. This time they are thinking of doing something a bit more professional and have asked for a selection of things. I'm thinking 2 types of biscuits, a slice and some cupcakes. Not sure about normal sized cupcakes or smaller yet but I'll figure it out.

Otherwise, something in my house is making me itch.

Remind me at some point that I have more cake photos to put up from the last wedding and 21st.

22 March 2010

Girls lunch. What to make...

So, I've invited the girls around for lunch in a couple of weeks and I'm a little stuck as to what to make. I think I'll start with the savoury pumpkin and feta parcels I made for Christmas and then some kind of simple, light yet filling and autumn friendly pasta for main. There needs to be fruit somewhere.

The other option is to go back through the Daring Bakers Challenges and try my hand at either savoury strudel or the danish braid. I can also go through my own books and come up with some sort of pie too.

Only issue will be the need to churn out a cake that same day for a birthday lunch on the sunday

 Oh and these are the other girls in the bridal party for next years wedding.

Any ideas on what to make??

Last resort, RISOTTO!

21 March 2010

What to do.

So it seems that I need a new housemate.

The current one has decided that she will be moving in with her boyfriend in early May. This means I say farewell to the blender, washing machine and fridge as well as most of the furniture in the house.

It will mean less of her clutter and I get to go shopping at Ikea for furniture.

I am rather angry about it as our lease is up in September and to me this is something you wait until the end of the lease to do.

More on this later when I'm not so angry. She was my best friend in the later years of high school and I am sad that things are ending this way. I doubt we will see each other much after this.

18 March 2010

More Risotto and my first hosting challenge!

If you were wondering why there was an abundance of risotto here over the last few months it was because my pal Jess and I hosted our first Daring Cooks challenge! We decided to challenge everyone to make risotto and stock from scratch. The recipes are below.
If you scan through the last few entries you can see some of my past results. I'll post the other photos when I find the disk......

It was great to see so many different takes on this challenge, both sweet and savoury. There was also lots of Arancini being made with leftovers too!


The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.


Chicken Stock
Ingredients:
1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek - white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn't matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice
Directions:
  1. Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil
  2. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface
  3. Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
  4. Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
  5. Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!
  6. Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters
  7. Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don't need for later use.
Risotto Base
Ingredients:
olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, quatered
rice 14 oz 400g
Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli.
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
  2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
  7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
  8. Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.
Pumpkin Risotto (OPTIONAL recipe)
Ingredients:
pumpkin, grated 7oz 200g Don't use butternut, the taste will be too watery
thyme, chopped 1 Tbsp
unsalted butter 3.5 oz 100g chilled and cut into small cubes
parmesan cheese, grated 2 oz 60g
Directions:
  1. Melt half the butter in a saucepan. Add pumpkin and cook until tender. Set aside (optional - blend for a smoother texture)
  2. Make the base up until the end of step 8.
  3. Stir through the pumpkin mixture and thyme
  4. Add the final 100ml of stock and hte remaining butter and stir until both are completely absorbed. Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
Preserved Lemon Risotto (OPTIONAL recipe)
Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch
Ingredients:
1 preserved lemon, peel only, finely diced. (The lemons from last months challenge should be perfect by now, otherwise you can buy them. Regular lemon zest will work as well.)
celery leaves, from the heart, finely chopped 1 Tbsp
unsalted butter 3.5 oz 100g chilled and cut into small cubes
parmesan cheese, grated 2 oz 60g
Directions:
  1. Make the base until the end of step 8.
  2. Stir through the preserved lemon
  3. Add the final 100ml of stock and butter and stir until both are completely absorbed. Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
This one has a very strong taste, it is best served as a base with something else. We stirred through goats cheese. It was delicious.
Enjoy!
Resources:
For Stock recipes other than Chicken:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Vegetable-Stock-105762
For preserved lemon recipes:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Moroccan-Style-Preserved-Le...
Videos of risotto-making:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgX3_3JYDFk

01 March 2010

Being sick sucks.

On the upside, before I got sick I managed to turn out a fantastic cake for a friends 21st. Pictures will appear at some point.

Have I mentioned that being sick sucks?

17 February 2010

God and Chocolate

So apparently yesterday was Shrove Tuesday. This means that today is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. A few months ago I was thinking about how I could reaffirm my faith. The general overview is that I believe that there is a God, I just have issues with some of the things that the Catholic Church teaches. Anyway, so my thoughts went along the lines of starting with Lent and doing it properly with the whole fasting thing. After some research, I remembered that the fasting part of Lent is essentially no meat or dairy until Easter Sunday. This would be fine except that I'm a shift worker as well as a student and if I don't eat properly, things just don't happen. Part of me eating properly is eating a balance of protein, calcium and vegies so no vegetarian diet for me.

I then thought about doing something along the lines of no chocolate or no takeaway. Until I was sitting in the car park at McDonald's with my dinner and remembered all this. I thought that I could just start it a day late and see if I could go the 40 days with no take away and then thought of something better.

Instead of improving myself by giving up something, I am going to make myself do something instead.

My aim is to do some form of exercise at least 3 times a week. It started with a Pilates class this evening and will end with a 5 day, 4 night hike over the Easter long weekend at Wilson's Promontory. It also includes the Herald Sun Run for the Kids in 4 weeks. If my heel is up for it then I'm going to walk the long course, otherwise I'm walking the short course.

Now onto the chocolate, I made a half batch of brownie biscuits (recipe on hteac) and only baked a dozen or so. the rest has been sitting in the fridge being snacked on as the week goes by.... Now I need to bake a batch of my special brownies for the open rehearsal tomorrow, sit and watch whip it as I make more sugar roses for a birthday cake.

14 February 2010

Risotto again.......



For the past month I've been experimenting with different types of risotto and I think I've found my go to base recipe. White wine, chicken stock, rice, onion (depending on who I'm feeding) and garlic. Lots of garlic.

I've been wanting to experiment with dessert risotto for a while now and I made an awesome one tonight. Instead of a savoury stock I used hot mi
lk with a little sugar and a stick of cinnamon as my spic
e. Served with some fresh raspberries to cut through the richness and it was amazing. And the thing that made it so rich.....CHOCOLATE!!!!

So here it is.

Chocolate risotto
serves 2

Stock
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
1 stick of cinnamon

In a saucepan combine sugar, milk, cinnamon and cocoa. Stir over medium heat until combined, then bring to a simmer and leave for 5 minutes.
Keep stirring occasionally so the sugar doesn't
burn. Turn the heat off and cover for about 20 minutes to let the heat infuse.

Risotto
2 knobs of butter
3/4-1 cup risotto rice
1/4 cup rum
cinnamon stick ( I just fished out the one in the stock and threw it in)
2 cups stock
1 punnet raspberries

Melt 1 knob of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, when melted throw in rice.

Let it get nice and toasty, then stand back and throw in the rum.





Notice the smudgy fingerprints on the side of this bottle? It's from all the cake decorating I've been doing. Soaking fruit cakes in rum so that they stay happy and fresh. mmmm rum.

When that's evapourated, add the hot stock in 3-4 batches and lower the heat slightly. Keep adding the stock gradually whilst stirring until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked.


If you run out of stock, either add more hot milk or some hot water in small amounts until the rice is cooked. It should be soft with a little bite. Stir through the second knob of butter.

Divide amongst 2 plates and serve with 1/4 punnet raspberries on top of each. I'm assuming that you ate the other half punnet whilst you were cooking.

Enjoy


27 January 2010

Daring Bakers January

So I finally made it back on track and here we have the later challenge. Cue blog checking lines .......... now.

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

So I made these late in the month and after reading all the advice from everyone else in the forums, doubled the amount of chocolate topping. I also cheated. The challenge said to make the graham crackers gluten free and from scratch, however due to time constraints I bought the digestive biscuits instead..... Give me a break I've been working the graveyard shift. recipe to follow!


For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
Ingredients
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients:

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

I also chopped them up into tiny squares a centimetre or two square. Little mouthfuls of deliciousness.




25 January 2010

Baking days are back!

So Australia Day is just around the corner (24 hours to be precise) which means marathon day is getting closer. Marathon day consists of an 8 hour shift at work followed by a street parade in teh city and then a drive out to the country for a lunchtime picnic and gig. The marathon part consists of doing this on very little sleep. Needless to say, I'm not driving that day!

I offered to do the sweets course for lunch and have finally decided on a menu.
This months Daring Bakers Challenge (haven't yet decided if its going to the picnic or work yet)
Australia Day cupcakes - lamingtons!
brownies

The lamington cupcakes are an experiment that I'm hoping will work out awesomely.

After work today (9am) I plan on making the cupcakes, making brownies, finishing touches on the challenge and some laundry.

22 January 2010

awesome risotto

The best risotto in the world has been made, eaten, frozen, reheated and still devoured. And it was all made with random things from my fridge and freezer!

Chicken
Mushrooms
Semi sundried tomatoes
Basil
Parmesan cheese

essentially making a chicken and mushroom pesto risotto.

tastes fantastic!

20 January 2010

I promise I'm still alive!







So there is a backlog of posts that are waiting to be uploaded. The only issue is that I have no time at the moment.

I'm also trying to figure out what to serve for Australia Day. One of the bands I play in has 2 gigs on Australia Day, the city parade and then an afternoon gig in the country complete with picnic lunch. I volunteered to do the sweets part. I'm thinking this months challenge, cheesecake brownies and possibly the danish pastry challenge if I can find it.

I've also had a revelation as to my career.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I'm going to be a teacher

Shocked?

After 3 years of working full time I've decided that I'm really not happy in my profession. I'm bored, unenthusiastic and really just don't care anymore. So my fan is to finish off my honours degree this year and save like crazy so that next year I can quit my job and go back to uni full time to do a Grad Dip Ed.
Oh and I'm also moving out of my current house when the lease is up at the end of the year. Love the house, hate the situation. My housemate and I have known each other for over 10 years but in the last 6-12 months things have gone down hill. The main issue I have is that she is never home. She still pays rent but has essentially moved in with her boyfriend and his family. I hate living alone. More on that later.

Just a taste of what has happened in the last few months