Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge - Chocolate Eclairs

Well, it seems like some time since I have posted a Daring Bakers challenge and in fact it seems like some time since I made the August challenge, as I was very organised and made it the first weekend in August. The challenge this month was chocolate éclairs and was chosen by Meetak of What’s for Lunch Honey and Tony Hahhan.

For someone who has never made choux pastry until a couple of months ago, I’ve made choux creations three times now in the last two months – Dorie’s peppermint ring, savoury choux for a Hey Hey It’s Donna Day challenge and now éclairs for Daring Bakers. It is a lot easier than you think to make, but I am also learning a few tricks along the way – like don’t open the oven door while it’s baking, and beat the hot dough a little before adding your first egg.

If I was in a cake shop I would probably pick a chocolate cream bun or cream doughnut ahead of a chocolate éclair, but actually, anything with chocolate and cream has got to be good. The actual recipe called for a chocolate pastry cream as the filling of the éclairs. However, there was no requirement to make this – provided that you used a chocolate component somewhere in the éclairs. I filled my éclairs with whipped cream and topped them with the chocolate ganache from the recipe.

I halved the recipe but unintentionally made my éclairs a lot larger than I probably should have. I used a plastic bag with the tip cut off to pipe the choux pastry into éclair shapes and then I made a couple of cream puff shapes at the end. I made about 6 eclairs in total and two of them weren’t that good – they had that eggy kind of taste. I wonder if I made them too big?

The rest were delicious though and I found the fresh cream filling not as rich as pastry cream. The topping was a simple, thick ganache with some butter added. The recipe also called for chocolate sauce to be added, but once again I was lazy and didn’t bother.

I would make éclairs again and actually wonder if there is a trend back towards them, as in the latest issues of both Taste and Cuisine, there are recipes for chocolate éclairs with chocolate pastry cream fillings.

Check out how the other Daring Bakers did here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cookies for Isaac

My friend’s son turned 5 yesterday, so I made him these number 5 cookies for his birthday. I made my favourite gingerbread biscuit recipe from Annabel Langbein’s book which she wrote in conjunction with the City Cake Company. The recipe is great as the dough is always the perfect consistency for rolling, without having to chill the dough (which can be annoying!) and the biscuits are always crispy. I think the trick is cooking the biscuits on the tray rather than on a rack.

This time I replaced the ginger with cinnamon, so they weren’t too spicy for little kids. Other times when I have run out of ginger, I have used half cinnamon and half mixed spice. You could even leave the spices out if you like a plain biscuit. I have been asked before what to use instead of golden syrup (it isn’t a common ingredient in the States) and I think I would use either maple syrup or a light molasses in these cookies.

I iced the cookies with just a simple icing made from icing sugar and water and coloured it blue with blue colouring gel. I iced them in the evening and then next morning they had taken on this mottled appearance – this may have been because of the amount of colouring I used, but I quite like the look for something a bit different. To save time I painted the icing on with a paint brush. Don’t forget that the cookies will soften a bit once iced. These are great cookies for a child’s birthday party!

Gingerbread Cookies (from Sweet Indulgence by Annabel Langbein)

150g butter
1/3 c brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 ½ tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 ½ tsp boiling water
2 ¼ flour
3 tsp ground ginger

· Cream butter and sugar; then beat in syrup, then dissolved soda
· Stir in flour and ginger to make a soft dough
· Roll out to about ½ cm thick and cut into shapes
· Bake at 170 for 12-15 minutes and cool on tray
Decorate with royal icing once cold

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wedding Shower Cookies

Before we went on holiday I went to a wedding shower for my friend Susan. We had to take something for the pantry or the bathroom, so of course I took something for the pantry! I bought a lovely tea towel (I actually have a bit of a tea towel obsession – I love buying new tea towels!!) and a little dish and then filled the little dish with these wedding cake cookies. I wrapped the little parcel in cellophane with a big ribbon bow and it looked really lovely.

The biscuits are shortbread, decorated with rolled fondant icing and piped royal icing. Once again, close up they don’t look marvellous, but from a distance they looked quite good.

After a week eating fish in Rarotonga (which was fantastic as fish is my favourite and everywhere we went it was delicious) my husband felt like a steak. So, last night for dinner I cooked steak. In my view sirloin steak is the most tasty for a simple evening meal – although I do love the melt in the mouth texture of scotch fillet. I made a paste for the steak of black, pink and green peppercorns (pounded in my mortar and pestle to a chunky crumb) mixed with a couple of spoonfuls of horseradish, a clove of crushed garlic and some oil and sea salt. I rubbed this into the steak about 30 minutes before cooking the steaks 2 - 3 minutes on each side for rare (the steaks were about 2cm thick). I served them with a a potato dish made by frying off 4 sliced garlic cloves with a teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander, ½ tsp chilli flakes and two tbsp tomato paste. I then added about 500g waxy potatoes cut into medium sized cubes and 1 cup water. I put the lid and simmered the potatoes for about 30 minutes until cooked and the liquid reduced. The potatoes were really tasty. Broccoli was our green vegetable.

Incidentally the week before we went on holiday, broccoli was 59cents a head at Pak n Save. I bought it from the fruit and veggie shop yesterday for $2.99. The only green vegetable I could get under $3 was bok choy and half a cabbage – it will be interesting to see the price of greens at the Takapuna markets on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Catching up with Dorie - Granola Grabbers

Well, I am now back from 10 days in beautiful Rarotonga, where we spent the time completely relaxing in the sun (well, it was sunny probably only half of the time, but always very warm!). Holidays are odd how they come full circle – the first few days it takes a little time to un-wind, then the next few you get in the complete wound down mode and then when it’s only a couple to go, I start to think of home again and the things I want to do when I get there. And of course, after 10 days of not cooking I am keen to hit the kitchen!

While we have been away the builders have started on the garage of our new house. Before we left I made them some cookies to eat, making the granola grabbers which were one of the TWD recipes from when I was away. The cookies were great. My husband and I ate quite a few before we left! We have muesli in NZ rather than granola – I imagine granola to be a bit clumpier than our muesli, so when I went to buy the muesli for the cookies, I looked for a clumpier kind. I ended up getting some craisin muesli from the bulk bins. The cookies also have coconut, wheatgerm salted peanuts and slivered almonds in them. The recipe also called for sultanas, but as I don’t like them, I left them out.

Even though they are not the pretties of cookies, these cookies are absolutely delicious! They are crunchy but chewy and have great texture. I actually think I prefer them to chocolate chip cookies which is saying something! While I am not kidding myself that these cookies are healthy, there is enough goodness in them to make me feel a wee bit virtuous eating one of these.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hummingbird Cupcakes

It has been a while since I made some cupcakes, so I thought I would make some to take to work before I go off on a 10 day holiday!! We had a couple of bananas starting to go quite brown in the fruit bowl, so I took the opportunity to make hummingbird cakes. Hummingbird cakes are kind of like carrot cakes without the carrots but with bananas and crushed pineapple.

Now, to be honest, I am not entirely sure why I chose to make these, as I while I love fresh pineapple, I don’t like canned pineapple and I particularly don’t like pineapple in cakes or muffins, so these cakes are not really my thing at all. However, these cakes are lovely – the banana and pineapple flavours are quite subtle and the hint of spice is just right.

I used a recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake book. It is a really simple recipe where you put everything in a bowl and then mix until combined – not beaters needed. I made ¾ of the full recipe and got 24 cupcakes. The icing is cream cheese icing and I made the little flowers a few weeks ago – one cool thing about my cake decorating classes is that while my flowers are not the best looking flowers in the world, they are (in my view) good enough to make my little cupcakes look a little cuter!

This is my last post before we go on holiday – I will be back in a couple of weeks, hopefully a bit more tanned and relaxed!

Hummingbird Cupcakes (Crabapple Bakery)

2 c flour
1 c self raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each cinnamon and ground ginger
2 x 450g cans crushed pineapple (I just used one when I scaled the recipe down to ¾)
2 c brown sugar
1 c coconut
2 c mashed bananas
4 eggs
1 ½ oil (I used rice bran)

· Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, until smooth
· Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 170c for 25 minutes
When cold ice with cream cheese icing

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies - the Kiwi Version

Recently I have blogged about my quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie, so I thought I would share with you my own version of the traditional kiwi chocolate chip cookie made with condensed milk.
The kiwi version of the ccc is a crisper, more pale biscuit that its American counterpart which is made with an egg and usually two types of sugar. I still like a bit of chew or density in my cookies, so I think my adaptations make my version near perfect.

There are three changes I make – One is that I use half icing sugar and half castor sugar. The addition of the icing sugar gives some of that density (think shortbread made with icing sugar rather than castor sugar). Secondly, I substitute some of the flour for ground almonds. I think this adds to the texture, but I don’t add enough to make the biscuits taste almondy. And thirdly, when I soften the butter in order to beat in the sugar, I soften to the point of almost melting. I am not sure exactly how this changes the texture, but it does seem to add a denseness to the cookies which I like.

For these cookies which I made last weekend, I used chopped dairy milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate. While the idea was good, I actually think that chocolate chip cookies need dark chocolate to give a better contrast between the sweetness of the cookie and the smoothness of the chocolate. Sometimes dairy milk can just end up tasting sweet. Try these and see what you think

And I also wanted to say thank you to those who have made comments this week who havent in the past. I love comments! as it is my only real gauge of how many pepople read my blog. So thanks everyone!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

250g butter
¼ c icing sugar
¼ c castor sugar
200g condensed milk (half a can)
½ c ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
2 – 2 ½ c self raising flour
250g chocolate chips or chunks

· Soften butter to almost melting and then beat in sugars and condensed milk
· Mix in dry ingredients (use enough flour to make your dough not too soft – you should be able to easily roll the dough into balls)
· Roll into large balls, place on trays and lightly flatten
Bake at 160c for 15-20 minutes until light golden

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baking with Belinda

Today is my 200th blog post! I have been blogging for nearly one year and I must say that my blog has so far fulfilled what I wanted it to – it makes me feel like a food writer! My next blog goal is to get more readers. :0) I had every intention of making something nice to celebrate, but kind of ran out of time and so decided to wait until my on year anniversary which is coming up in September

Also, even though I talked about our holiday yesterday, we don’t actually go until Sunday, so time for a couple more posts before then!

About a month ago I bought a book called Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffrey who is an Australian cook. The book is a lovely baking book and is divided into sections such as chocolate, slices, fruit cakes etc. I made a couple of recipes from the book in the weekend including the raspberry muffins pictured above and some polenta shortbread.

The raspberry muffins were lovely and light. They had the juice and zest of an orange in them which gave a lovely flavour contrast to the raspberries. When I make muffins that have got berries in them I like to use paper cases, as otherwise, I find that the berries can stick to the bottom of the muffin tin.

The polenta shortbreads are lovely plain little biscuits. They are quick to make and are made in the food processor. I don’t do a lot of baking in my food processor – mainly because it is a pain to clean! The shortbread are made in the same way as pastry. The other thing that makes them nice and quick, is that you roll the dough into a log, then slice off chilled rounds – a bit quicker than rolling and cutting! You could also add different spices to the basic mix to get different results.

I am looking forward to making more from Mix & Bake.

Polenta Shortbread (from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffrey)

270g flour
160g cornmeal
165g castor sugar
1/8 tsp baking powder
250g butter
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla

· Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar and b powder in a food processor. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles oats
· Beat the egg with the vanilla, then pulse this mixture into the cookie dough until the mixture starts to come together
· Roll dough into a log, wrap well and refrigerate for 2 hours (I froze mine for about 20 minutes)
Slice off 75mm slices and bake at 170c for 20 minutes or until golden brown

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TWD - Blueberry Sour Cream Ice-Cream

Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity has picked this week’s TWD recipe which is blueberry sour cream ice-cream. I was lucky enough to get an ice-cream maker for my birthday at the beginning of the year, so it was great to be able to bring it out again. Although, I must say it’s not really ice-cream weather down here just yet! This is the only frustrating thing about taking part in a mostly northern hemisphere challenge – I bet all those winter warming puddings will be picked when it is steaming hot here!! :0)

The ice cream I have made in the past has had a cooked custard base. However, this ice-cream was made using a mixture of sour cream and cream. It was so easy – simply simmer gently the blueberries (I used frozen) with some lime zest and juice and a little sugar, then blend in the food processor, adding sour cream and cream. Chill, then churn in the ice-cream maker. The ice-cream was gorgeous and creamy. Others said it tasted a bit like frozen cheesecake and I can kind of see why. The blueberries gave the ice-cream a gorgeous purple colour.

As I have mentioned, my sisters were up in the weekend, so I bought some ice-cream cones for us to have ice-creams on Saturday night when we were watching the Olympics (that is watch NZ cleaning up in the rowing heats!!). The honey comb cones were the perfect thing to photograph the gorgeous purple ice-cream in. Thanks to my sister, Hayley, my hand model!! :0) and thanks to Dolores for picking such a cool recipe! (pun intended!!). See how the other TWDers did here.

Unfortunately I wont be able to take part in TWD for the next two weeks as we are going to Rarotonga on holiday. I am so looking forward to some warmth and relaxation!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baking for the Wee Girls

I am the eldest of four girls. I am 34, my next sister is 32, then the youngest two are 28 and 27. However, ever since the youngest was born, we have been grouped in pairs as the “big girls” and the “wee girls”. The wee girls live in Napier and came to stay in the weekend. Whenever anyone comes to stay I obviously do some baking to have in the tins and as I have mentioned before, the wee girls love anything caramel.

So, this time I decided to make a chocolate version of tan square. I love tan square. There is something about the simplicity of it and it great to make a slice that you don’t have to ice. Tan square has a shortbread style base, a layer of caramel and then the remainder of the base mixture is crumbled over the top. When I make vanilla tan square, I sprinkle chocolate chips over the top along with the crumbled base. This time I used a whole can of condensed milk plus about ¼ of a leftover can for the caramel filling because let’s face it, the caramel is really what the slice is about! I really think this is one of the nicest caramel slices I have made!

I’m not sure where this recipe originated from – it is one I wrote in my recipe book when I was a wee kid, so I can guess it probably came from one of those fundraising community recipe books, as when I was a child those books and the Edmonds book were just about the only recipe books we had. I still think those fundraising style cook books haven the best baking recipes in them.

I also made some triple chocolate cookies form Hayley to take home with her. I used a new recipe and while they taste nice they don’t come close to making it into the top 10 chocolate chip cookie recipes! The recipe called them fudgey chocolate chunk cookies. And they were quite fudgey, but not chocolatey enough for me and too flat. Mind you, I ate enough tan slice to make sure I didn’t need to eat any cookies!

Chocolate Tan Square

180g butter
90g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
250g flour
50g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder

· Cream butter, sugar and vanilla
· Mix in dry ingredients to form a soft dough and press 2/3 into a lined 23cm square tin
· Put remaining mix in fridge while you make the caramel

400g can condensed milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g butter

· Melt all caramel ingredients together over a low heat. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes until caramel is thick and golden
· Pour over the base, then crumble over remaining dough
Bake at 180c for 20-25 minutes

Friday, August 8, 2008

Desert Island Cook Book and Jam Drops

I have a very large collection of cook books. They presently take up a whole book case (of the floor to ceiling variety) and I cant wait for my new kitchen where they will be mostly housed in the scullery. However, if I had to pick only one book from my entire collection to keep, it would be The Best of Annabel Langbein.

Annabel Langbein is a New Zealand cook and food writer who has a fantastic style. I have been lucky enough to attend a few of her cooking classes as well as owning most of her books. She approaches food from the simple but stunning angle. Her books have names like “Cooking to Impress without Stress” and “Assemble”. Her recipes and ideas are simple, but looks fabulous and will take you anywhere from a mid week meal for the family to a formal dinner party.

Whenever I am stuck for an idea I head to her “best of” where I am bound to find some inspiration. Favourites include roasted fish with a parmesan crumb, the best fritter recipe ever, Swedish sticky buns and a myriad of pasta, risotto and salad favourites. The book is full of great menu ideas and suggestions of things to put on platters, crostini, sauces for fruit etc.

Annabel Langbein also has a really cool site with ideas and inspiration. You should take a visit, and If you don’t have this book, I recommend you get it!

Last night I did some baking and made the little cardamom jam drops pictured at the top of my post. They are nice wee every day biscuits – good to have in the tins for lunches and to have with a cup of tea. I use the end of a wooden spoon to make the indent for the jam. You could try different jams or even marmalade for a change

Cardamom Jam Drops

70g butter
4 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 tsp ground cardamom
finely grated zest of one small lemon
3 tbsp ground almonds
1 c self raising flour
raspberry jam to fill

· Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg, zest and cardamom
· Stir in flour and ground almonds
· Roll into small balls, place on a baking tray, make small indents and fill with raspberry jam
Bake at 180c for 12-15 minutes

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dinner for Foodie Friend

In the weekend one of my law school friends was up from Wellington and came over for dinner on Saturday night. Susan is a fellow “foodie” and so of course I felt a bit of pressure to perform!! I wanted to make something fairly simple but tasty. I decided to go with chicken and then gave my husband four options to pick from for dessert.

We started with nibbles. I mentioned last week that at the food show I bought some natural, coloured olives. I put these in a bowl and served them alongside some mini wholemeal scones (which I had made a month or so ago and frozen – I re-toasted them in the oven to give them that “just came out of the oven” crispness) topped with quince jelly (home made of course!) and blue cheese. I thought the olives were nice but my husband (in front of our guest!) proclaimed that he didn’t think the olives were all that great. Thanks!

For our main I used a recipe from Dish magazine for pistachio stuffed chicken with lentil salad. This was chicken marylands (ie the thigh and drumstick) filled with a stuffing of good quality chicken sausages mixed with pistachio nuts and herbs, rolled and wrapped in streaky bacon. My butcher kindly cut up some marylands for me, but didn’t completely take out the thigh bone. My husband is actually a butcher by trade (he hasn’t worked as one since before I met him, but a butcher is certainly a handy person to have around!), so I was waiting for him to come and bone the rest of the chicken for me. He was also in the process of dismantling our garage (yes, our new house starts soon!) and I couldn’t wait any longer, so boned the chicken myself. I followed the bone as my husband told me to do and I did a pretty good job!

The chicken was great – the green chunks of the pistachios really made it! And it was perfect with the lentil salad (puy lentils with tomato, herbs and a vinaigrette) and green beans.

As I said, pudding was my husband’s choice – he wanted something chocolatey and chose Julie Le Clerc’s jaffa puddings. These little chocolate and orange puddings were delicious and very rich! I used 72% chocolate and dutched cocoa which I really think added to the intensity! I actually scaled down the recipe to ¾ of the original and still got 6 decent sized puddings. The puddings were meant to be served with a jaffa sauce of chocolate, cream and cointreau, but they seemed rich enough by themselves. Instead I served them with candied oranges which I made last year – very thinly sliced oranges cooked in a vanilla sugar syrup. Provided you keep them in a sterilised, well sealed jar in the fridge, they will keep forever. I think these are one of my favourite puddings.

Jaffa Puddings (from the Julie Le Clerc magazine – I made ¾ of this recipe to get 6 ramekins)

150g butter
200g dark chocolate
1/3 c cocoa
1 1/3 c brown sugar
zest and juice of one orange
1 c ground almonds
4 eggs, separated

· Melt chocolate and butter together
· Stir together cocoa, brown sugar, zest and juice, ground almonds and egg yolks
· Stir in chocolate mixture
· Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently fold into chocolate mixture
Spoon into greased ramekins and bake at 160c for 25-30 minutes until firm.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still on a mission...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I am on a life long mission to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I also mentioned a recent article in the New York Times where the writer had gone on a similar mission. The article also gave a recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, so I tried it out last week.

These are my NY Times cookies.

One of the keys with the recipe was to rest the cookie dough for 24 hours before baking. I did this, but I am not sure that it made a huge difference. The mixture was fairly dry anyway and I don’t know what the chilling added. I thought the cookies were really yummy, but I was still not convinced that they were the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

So, I took matters into my own hands, converting a recipe that I think had the perfect amount of crunch and chew, from a double chocolate cookie to a single chocolate chip cookie. This cookie is the one pictured at the top of this post. This cookie had all brown sugar – no white. I think it turned out really well. It had a certain amount of height and the ratio of crunch to chew was almost perfect. So far, this recipe is my favourite. Although, I have begun to wonder whether I actually prefer the condensed milk version of chocolate chip cookies, which is why I am having difficulty finding the perfect one made with eggs instead!

Almost Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

125g butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 c flour
¼ c self raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 c chocolate chips

· Beat butter and sugar and then stir in egg
· Mix in dry ingredients
· Place spoonfuls on tray and flatten slightly
· Bake at 160 for 15 minutes or until golden brown
Cool on trays for 10 minutes before moving to racks to cook completely

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

TWD - Black and White Banana Loaf

This week’s TWD recipe is chosen by Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen and is Black and White Banana Loaf. This is a recipe which has caught my eye whenever I have read through Baking, From My Home to Yours. The two toned loaf looks delicious and I am always looking for ways to use ripening bananas!

There is nothing nicer than a slice of warm banana loaf, especially with a slather of butter and a glass of cold milk. And of course, I love chocolate, so this banana loaf where you add chocolate to half of the batter and swirl the black and white mixtures together is perfectly delicious! Four eggs is a lot to use for an everyday loaf, so I decided to half the mixture and make it in my mini loaf tins. I got 6 mini loaves from half of the mixture.

One of the key ingredients in the recipe was rum. Unfortunately we didn’t have any rum in the cupboard (a couple of bad nights on rum at university has put me off even the smell of rum – it just makes me feel sick!) and I had forgotten to get rum essence at the supermarket, so I just left that flavouring out. The addition of lemon juice and zest was a welcome one though and you could taste the zestiness in the baked loaf. I also accidentally left out the nutmeg, so my loaves were spiceless.

Because I was working with small quantities, I did find it hard to get a real two toned effect in my loaves. Actually, I am not sure that I am a very good marbler – it is another thing I need to practice on. All in all I was very happy with how my loaves turned out. The texture was lovely and light and the mini loaves were very cute.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Muesli Muffins

It was another wet weekend – although not nearly as bad as the one before. Yesterday afternoon we went to the movies to see Mama Mia and I really think we should go and live on a Greek Island like in the movie, where the sun shines all the time. We could have a boutique B and B and I could cook to my heart’s content! Luckily we have got a holiday to Rarotonga coming up in a couple of weeks, so that may alleviate the pining for a simpler, warmer life for a while!

Yesterday I didn’t do any exciting baking – just the routine muffins for the freezer. I felt like making something a little different, so created these muesli muffins. They have the benefit of being slightly healthy and are pretty tasty. There are two keys to muffins – one is not to over-mix. Your mixture will still look quite lumpy , but that is fine. Over-mixed batter causes peaks in your muffins and also toughness. The other trick is to let the muffins cool for about 10-15 minutes in their tins before turning out. They normally pop out if you give them a small twist after that time.

Dinner last night was a beef casserole flavoured with tomatoes, onion, garlic, ground cloves, olives, capers and bay leaves. It was really delicious and the perfect thing for a warming winter meal. We had it with rice and broccoli. I love making casseroles on Sundays as I have the time to let the meat cook nice and slowly.

Muesli Muffins

2 c muesli (I used un-toasted, but toasted would be better)
1 c flour
¼ c brown sugar
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ c yoghurt
½ c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
¼ c rice bran oil

· Combine dry ingredients
· Whisk yoghurt, milk, vanilla, egg and oil together
· Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet and mix to just combine
Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake at 200c for 15 minutes

Friday, August 1, 2008

Snowflakes and Food Show

I resolved earlier in the week to practice my biscuit decorating so that I get much better at it. Last night I decorated these little snowflake cookies to send to my aunty. I was really pleased with the effect. I tried marbling blue tinted fondant and white fondant and then coated the cookies with that. I then piped round the edges of the cookies with royal icing. It really makes a difference when I take my time on these things!

Yesterday was also the start of the Auckland food show. They have a preview day which you pay a bit more to go to, but it means you’re not fighting the crowds, and the stands are a bit more generous as they know you are there as a serious “foodie” rather than just there for a “free feed”! The show can be divided into three camps – the very commercial food that you can buy in every supermarket (eg vogels, barkers, Lisa’s hummus etc), new products that while they are commercial, are new and different and worth knowing about and lastly the boutique producers – of which there seem to be fewer and fewer, possibly because of the expense in taking part. There is also an awful lot of wine, beer etc.

This year I really noticed a big increase in the number of organic and natural drinks including juices, fizzy drinks and smoothies. There was also more ice-cream. I tasted Kohu which is a fabulous new artesian ice-cream (I especially liked the milk chocolate), NZ natural and a fabulous sheeps milk cheese made in Invercargill. Other highlights for me included olive salt from Telegraph Hill, pecorino from the sheeps cheese / ice-cream place in Invercargill, Posey’s bread from the Hawkes bay (a pizza base style bread which will be so handy to have in the freezer), the most amazing coloured olives which are naturally coloured and will look stunning on an anti-pasto platter, bread from Yarrows in Taranaki which will soon be available in the supermarkets, Bulgarian cows feta (which is the same stuff I buy from the Takapuna markets but they haven’t had it the last few times I have visited) and this amazing no peanut peanut butter made from sunflower seeds that tastes remarkably like peanut butter.

I was exhausted when I left! I didn’t go to any food demonstrations as I am really there to taste the food and find new things. I do find it quite inspiring, but I really wish that some of the smaller producers were able to display their wares. If you went to the food show as well, please leave a comment to let me know what you thought!