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27 June 2016

A long long time ago

in a galaxy far away, I stopped blogging for several years. My deepest apologies!

In a nut shell, teacher training was intense as was the first 4 years. I'm halfway through the 5th year and starting to wonder if this is really what I should be doing. So it's back to blogging!

Life in England is different to back Australia. Small towns don't provided the same opportunities as big cities but the also an advantage to this. I've been able to concentrate more of honing my crafts and focusing on the little things.

Like home grown strawberries.

Strawberries, custard and amaretti biscuits 

I made one of these yesterday with home grown strawberries. Whilst not as sweet as the ones from Sainburys, they were still delicious. Both here was made from scratch, I bought it all. The amaretti biscuits have lasted since last July in the pantry, making them a worthwhile purchase. 
The glass itself is from a tasting session with The Lakes Distillery. We had a taste of their vodka, gin and whiskey. I recommend checking them out if you can find them. 

10 March 2013

New starts and taking action

Taking that first step is always difficult. It is even more difficult when you have to take that first step more than once.

 About 3 years ago I was diagnosed with PCOS. I tried a variety of things and started to get in under control last summer. Everything fell apart last year health wise and I finally have a new path to go along. The short of it is, giving low gi a go properly, exercising at least twice a week and new drugs so that I can push a trip to hospital to later in the year.

I'm still planning on keeping this part of my life alive but, you can also find me over on tumblr. Just search for nellimay.tumblr.

The first step was awareness, next one is action. This week is all about action.

11 January 2013

Thai Red Curry Paste

One of my favourite curries is a Thai red curry. It's tasty and goes well with most proteins. You start with a paste and then add too it. The recipe I use is from a book that Dad and I fight over. Technically it's his book but it spends more time at my house.

The recipe says to use dried chilli but I use fresh and it comes out fine. The paste freezes really well and can be used months later with no loss of taste (or at least none that I found).

Thai Red Curry Paste
makes about 10 tablespoons

10-12 fresh, hot red long chillies
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
140g shallots, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lemon grass, slices thinly
3 thin slices peeled fresh galangal or ginger
1 thin slice of fresh kaffir lime rind
6-8 fresh coriander roots, washed and coarsely chopped
freshly ground white pepper
1/4 tsp shrimp paste or 2 anchovies
1/2 tsp gnd cumin
1/2 tsp gnd coriander
2 Tbspn bright red paprika

Stick everything in a blender with some water and blend to a paste.

17 February 2012

Long time no see

It's been a while. Far too long in fact.
The good news is that I have many new things to share since last I was here, the bad news is that I don't have a lot of time at the moment.

See I started a new job recently at a Secondary School teaching years 7-11 Maths and Science. I love my job I really do. I've had a fail week mood wise and so I thought it best to stay at home today. This is something I cannot make a regular habit out of so taking care of my mental health is the priority.

*checks back to see the date on the last post*

Oh, hasn't been as long as I expected....

Well I finished my education course and now have an awesome job. I really do like my job and the people there. Just really not feeling great today.

Here is what is on the cards for the next few months.
- more cake!
- Daring Bakers 
- Daring Kitchen
- Vegetarian things.
- Non vegetarian things
- more cake.

23 April 2011

Roast Pork for Easter

Being a good Catholic is not high on my family's priority list. We tend to use this weekend as an opportunity to get together and have something different for dinner.

Tonight's adventure is roast pork.

We're not normally a pork family as my dad isn't a fan but, for some reason he suggested it the other night. So the menu tonight is roasted pork with an apple mustard sauce, twice baked potatoes and veg.

Fig and Blueberry Hot Cross Buns

I had the urge to do some serious baking yesterday and I wanted fruit toast for this morning's breakfast. After searching through the latest editions of my food magazines I settled on one for fruit bread but I didn't like their bread component. I have not had the best luck with different bread recipes lately so I went to a tried and fabulous favourite of mine, Ree's cinnamon bread. Once you've mastered a basic white bread so many other delicious things can be made from it like hot cross buns.

The reason I've make my buns using figs and blueberries is because that's all we had in the house.


250g mixed dried fruit (I used dried blueberries and figs)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
2 packets yeast
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs


Chop the fruit so it is all the same size. I chopped my figs to the size of the blueberries. Soak in the orange juice and leave for 30 or so minutes. The fruit needs to have absorbed most of the liquid and be nice and soft. Drain off the liquid and set the fruit aside.

In a saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted. Do not let it boil. When the butter has melted, turn the heat off and let it cool until skin hot. Too hot or too cold and your yeast won't work! When it's cool enough to stick your finger in sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 10 minutes. This will activate the yeast.

In a separate bowl mix together then flour, salt and spices. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar together in another bowl until combined. Add the milk and yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Add in half the flour and mix until the flour is incorporated. At this point it is best to switch to a wooden spoon if you haven't already.
Beat in the remaining flour and stir until a soft dough has formed.

Tip dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is a ball. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and spread the fruit down one edge. Fold up the dough around the fruit and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed and the dough itself is elastic. I found that at this point the blueberries were popping out of the dough.

Stick the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. I partly fill a sink with tap hot water and stick the bowl in there covered with a bread board and tea towel.

Knock the dough down and divide into 12 even pieces. Roll each into balls and slash the top in a cross. Place on a tray and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.

Mix together enough flour and water to form a paste and pipe crosses on each bun.

Pop them into a preheated 180-200C oven for 20-30 minutes until the bottoms are sound hollow when tapped.

If you like the tops sticky then whilst they are still warm brush the tops with water that has had 2 tsp of sugar dissolved in it.

27 March 2011

Daring Bakers rising to the occassion

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

This month I got to play with yeast, egg whites, chocolate and cardamom. All things I love to eat and work with. My eaters this month were Monucs and the Vic. Chorale. Joint concerts mean joint rehearsals which means that snacks are required. I'm also planning on taking a batch of cheesecake brownies.

Below is the recipe I used. I noticed on the first one that I had spread the filling too close to the edge and it leaked out when rolling. Yum! The second one I didn't fill as close to the edge and it rolled up much cleaner. You can see the difference in the pictures below. The top one has the cleaner roll.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
1⁄4 cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar 
3⁄4 teaspoon (5 g / 1⁄4 oz.) salt 
1 package (2 1⁄4 teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
1 tsp ground cardamom
3⁄4 cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
1⁄4 cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature) 
1⁄2 cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature 
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla 
1⁄2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped walnuts 
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar 
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1⁄2 cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. 
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. 

Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 1⁄2 cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the 1⁄2 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes: Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 1⁄2 cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 1⁄2 cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.