Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD - creme brulee

This week’s TWD recipe is chosen by Mari of Mervrouw Cupcake and is crème brulee. When I have made crème brulee in the past, I have made a custard and then baked the custards in a bain marie before caramelising the top. Dorie’s recipe was far less hassle, as you simply mixed the hot milk and cream with the egg yolks and sugar, then poured this into the ramekins and baked in the oven without the use of a water bath and without having to cook the custard.

I was a little nervous as to how they would turn out, as my understanding is that the water bath gives a much gentler heat so the custards will still be silky smooth. I needn’t have worried, as the crème brulees still turned out silky smooth. The only issue I had with mine was the caramelising the sugar on top. Mum and Dad gave me a brulee torch for Christmas a few years ago, but being “a bit quick” (as my husband always tells me!) and not reading the instructions properly, I filled it with the wrong gas and have never been able to use it! So, I had to use the grill (broiler for US readers!), except, the oven at our house (still pre-re-build) doesn’t have a very efficient grill function. But, we do have a great oven at work, so brought the brulees in to work. I still didn’t get quite the brulee effect that I wanted. I may have to ask again for a brulee torch this Christmas!!!

The other thing is that my brulee is not very photogenic!! I did have one goodish photo, but somehow I have managed to permanently delete it! So, apologies for the photo. I also added raspberries to my brulee which you cant see in the photo. I think I prefer the brulee without them. A crisp biscuit such as a tuile or biscotti would be the perfect accompaniment.

Check out the other TWDers brulees here. And, next week is my turn to chose the recipe! I cant believe how quickly my turn has come around! I am choosing the caramel and peanut topped chocolate brownie cake. I can’t wait to make it in the weekend!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Inspired by Peabody

One of my favourite blogs is Culinary Concoctions By Peabody. I love her wit, recipes and photos! I found this variation of Dorie Greenspan’s cookies on her blog. The original recipe is for World Peace Cookies – Peabody adds a new dimension by making them peanut butter world peace cookies, by adding peanut butter and peanut butter chips (something that we cant get here in NZ unfortunately).

These cookies are absolutely delicious. They have this great fudgey texture – crisp yet with the kind of chew that gets stuck in your teeth if you know what I mean! As I said we don’t have peanut butter chips in NZ, but a while ago at the Takapuna markets I bought these Reeses peanut butter candy coated bits – a bit like pebbles with peanut butter inside instead of chocolate. They are a good addition to the cookie, although the dough is of the roll and slice variety, so it is a bit hard to slice through the candy shells.

I would definitely recommend these cookies – the rolled dough freezes well too and you can slice and bake them straight from the freezer. Peabody's cookies look yummier than mine - check out the recipe here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers do Lavosh

September’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was a little different to the earlier challenges, firstly because it was chosen by one of our alternate bakers, so there was a gluten free option and secondly because there are two components – Lavosh bread and then a dip of choice, but the dip had to be vegan and gluten free. This month’s hosts are Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel from Musings from the Fishbowl.

I have made lavosh bread before, but the recipes I have baked before have been more like crackers, without any yeast. This lavosh bread recipe had a small amount of yeast in it. Lavosh bread is meant to be extremely thin and crisp and I think a pasta machine would be the best thing to roll it out. Unfortunately I don’t have a pasta machine, so I rolled the dough by hand and I didn’t get it as thin as I would have liked, although my crackers did crisp up nicely. We were given a choice as to topping for the lavosh – I topped mine with a sprinkling of ras al hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) and smoked sea salt. The smoked sea salt is a Maldon product and is fabulous. I think you need sea salt on lavosh bread, but the smokiness of the smoked salt gave a lovely flavour.

While I found this challenge quite easy, I did leave it to the last minute, meaning that my gluten free vegan dip wasn’t quite as creative as I had hoped. A couple of weeks ago at the market I bought a big bunch of rosemary and it has actually dried itself in the fridge, so using that as the start of my idea, I made a simple cannellini bean and rosemary dip by processing a drained can of beans with a clove of garlic, about 1 tbsp of chopped rosemary, the juice of a lemon and some olive oil, seasoning to taste. I guess this is fusion food – middle Eastern bread and Mediterranean dip! It all tasted yummy.

See the variations that the other Daring Bakers came up with here and stay tuned for next month’s challenge!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wee Treats for Winners

I sent the packages of wee treats off to Jan, Kimberley and Shelley today, so I thought I would blog about what is in them. I decided to make them some wee treats of the variety that I used to make when I was selling wee treats (I did this for a couple of years – just small orders, but now my work as a lawyer takes too much energy!). So I made them yo-yos, baileys and macadamia truffles and also sent some quince paste which I made earlier in the year.

The truffles are yummy – kind of a secret recipe, but they are great to give as gifts and people always seem to like them. Yo-yos are what I think of as a traditional New Zealand recipe – probably because they are in the Edmonds book which is an iconic NZ cook book! Yo-yos are delicate little biscuits, not dissimilar to melting moments, sandwiched together with butter cream. They have a slight custard flavour from the custard powder. I like to make small, delicate little morsels which can be eaten in two bites, but you often see giant versions in cafes. If you have never tried yo-yos you should, as they are easy to make and delicious!

Yo-yos (from the Edmonds book)

175g butter
¼ c icing sugar
¼ c custard powder
11/2 c flour

· Cream butter and icing sugar, then stir in remaining ingredients
· Roll dough into small balls and flatten lightly with a fork
· Bake at 170c for 15 minutes or until firm but still pale
· When cold sandwich together with custard butter cream made by beating together 50g softened butter with 2 tbsp custard powder and ½ c icing sugar

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moustraps and Winners

It’s not very often that I post about something savoury, but when I made these mousetraps for lunch on Sunday, I thought that it might be something that people are interested in reading about.

Mousetraps are like a glorified version of cheese on toast! When I think of mousetraps in the simplest form, I think of the ones Dad used to make us on a Sunday night for tea in front of the tv with a mug of milo, wearing our pyjamas watching the Wonderful World of Disney! Dad’s mousetraps were yummy – white bread spread with vegemite, grated cheese mixed with beaten egg and tomato sauce, toasted under the grill.

Mousetraps are a good stand by for Sunday lunch for me and my husband. I use wholemeal toast bread and they are even better with home made soda bread. I also use tomato relish as a base – my own home made version that was my Nana’s recipe. We go through so much of this! I make two big batches every year and my Mum keeps us topped up in the in between times. I then make a topping of grated cheese, egg to bind, a little bit of whatever is in the fridge (eg chopped red peppers, chopped parsley, left over ham or bacon) and my secret ingredient – a spoonful of seeded mustard – ok, not so secret now! Bake in the oven at 200c for about 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the bottoms are toasted.

These are a great snack cold as well, but are delicious when they are hot and the cheese is a bit melty.

Oh, and of course the winners from my wee competition who will receive some wee treats! Thank you so much for everyone who left a comment on my “blogiversary” post! It is exciting to think that people actually read my blog. I wrote all your names on separate pieces of paper and did a wee draw and the winners are: Jan, Kimberly and the Bacarella Family . If you e-mail me your addresses and I will send your wee treats to you! Thanks again!!

Also, check out the latest feature I have written for the foodlovers web site on Creamy Desserts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD - Dimply Plum Cake

The TWD recipe for this week is dimply plum cake and was chosen by Michelle from Bake-En. Plums aren’t in season here at the moment so I used drained canned plums. The cake is flavoured with orange zest and cardamom which work really well together. The canned plums worked well, but I imagine that this is a different cake to one using fresh plums.

We had this cake warm with whipped cream for pudding on Saturday night. It was yummy, but I don’t think it really had any WOW factor. I guess it is what it is – a good everyday cake to have in the tins. I actually think I over cooked it slightly, as it was a little dry round the edges. I only baked it for 35 minutes – Dorie’s recipe said 40minutes I think, but I wonder if my oven was too hot to begin with as I had been baking other things in it earlier.

I am not sure that I would make this cake again – I have other plum cake recipes which I like better – that are lighter and not so dense. However, the addition of the orange zest and cardamom was delicious.

Wondering what the other TWDers thought? Find out here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ladies, A Plate

We were lucky enough to have my youngest sister, Hayley, come and stay with us again in the weekend, and so of course I had to make her favourite caramel slice. This time I used a recipe from a fabulous new book I bought last week called “Ladies, A Plate”. The title refers to the New Zealand practice of ladies taking a plate to functions – with something on it of course! This book is delightful. It is well researched and is a collection of traditional NZ baking recipes – most dating back to the early part of last century, which the writer has collected from various community cookbooks published in NZ in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

New Zealand has a real tradition of home baking and the recipes are many that I know from my childhood that my Nana and great Aunty used to bake – afghans, miracles, treacle scones and the like. I cant wait to try these new versions and there are also a number of cakes, biscuits and slices that I haven’t tried before that I cant wait to test. The book is beautifully put together, with detailed notes on where the recipes have been collected from and their history.

This caramel slice was delicious – thick caramel sandwiched between layers of chocolate shortbread and topped with chocolate. Yum!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wee Treats for Gifts

Fudge is always a great gift to give – it lasts for a while and is not the kind of thing that people often make for themselves, but most people seem to love it. It also makes quite a bit if you have got a number of gifts to make. I made this fudge on the weekend and split the batch up – some to go with a 50th birthday present, some as a thank you for having us and some for a staff birthday gift. And there was enough for a few pieces for my husband and me to enjoy.

The fudge is similar to Russian fudge but is made with dark cane sugar instead of white sugar. You could add rum as a flavouring, but I added vanilla extract, as I didn’t have any rum, plus I much prefer the taste of vanilla. Actually, the dark brown sugar gives the fudge a delicious caramelised flavour – almost like toffee rather than the lighter taste Russian fudge has.

My fudge was perhaps a little softer than I would have liked – I think this was because I was doing something else at the same time as making it (not a good idea when making fudge!) and I didn’t beat it enough, but it was still very delicious – real melt in the mouth stuff!

And just to add a savoury note to temper all the sweetness! I have mentioned before how I love meatballs, well earlier in the week I made some delicious Greek inspired meatballs by adding crumbled feta and chopped kalamata olives to beef mince. We had them with brown rice which I spiced with cardamom pods and chopped mint, and silverbeet sautéed with browned onion, garlic and chickpeas (inspired by Claudia Roden). Served with my favourite Cyclops thick and creamy yoghurt, this was delicious!

Dark Fudge

3 ½ c dark cane sugar
125g butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
½ c milk
200g condensed milk
2 tsp rum or vanilla extract

· Stir all ingredients except for the rum or vanilla over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved
· Increase heat and boil fudge until it reached 120c on a candy thermometer
· Add vanilla or rum, then beat until the fudge is thick and has lost its gloss
Pour into a 23cm square tin which is greased or lined and mark into squares when set.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Blog Day to Me! and Cupcake Hero

Happy Blog Day to me!! I am finding it hard to believe that today is 12 months since I started writing my blog. It had been a big year of baking and I have loved every minute of it! When I started my blog I had the hope that it would fulfil some of my desire to be a cook book writer – and it does! I have also become involved in some fun challenge communities – Tuesdays With Dorie and the Daring Bakers. As much as I love the sharing of recipes, I love the sharing of lives that the blogging community creates – I love that I have something in common with so many other home cooks and bakers around the world. It has definitely given me an insight and appreciation for other ways of life that I didn’t have before!

Cupcake hero is also turning one this month and to celebrate, this month’s theme was the choice of combining any two previous month’s ingredients. I have decided to post about my cupcakes on my blogiversary. The two ingredients that were featured in the two months before I joined were lime and clove, so I chose those as my ingredients for this month. I know the combination sounds a bit weird, but in one of my Peter Gordon’s books there is a recipe for clove, lime and macadamia cookies and he writes that cloves and lime have a great affiliation, so I thought I would try it!

I adapted a recipe for hazelnut citrus cakes, substituting lime zest for the orange zest and ground macadamia nuts for the ground hazelnuts. The cakes have no butter in them, but there are plenty of ground nuts to add moistness. Separating the eggs and mixing through beaten egg whites gives a lovely lightness to the cakes. I topped them with whipped cream which I flavoured with a touch of ground cloves and a little lime topper which I made from fondant and bright green sugar crystals. The cakes are delicious – kind of a different flavour, but one I think works really well!

I have also been awarded a Brilliante Blog Award by Susan from Food Baby – thanks so much Susan, I am so honoured and great timing! Part of the award is that I have to pass it on to seven other bloggers, a hard choice, but I have awarded it to those bloggers who initially inspired me to get blogging! I appreciate that you all get lots of awards and wont necessarily have the time to pass them on, but Thanks Guys!!

1. Stephanie from A Whisk and Spoon
2. Peabody from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
3. Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen
4. Jen from http://ilovemilkandcookies.blogspot.com/
5. Laurie from Quirky Cupcake
6. Morven from http://www.foodartandrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/
7. Helen from Tartlette

Oh, and seeing that this is a birthday, there has to be presents!! I love comments, so if you leave a comment on today’s post by Monday 22 Sep, and you live in NZ, I will randomly pick three of you to receive some wee treats by Tammy :0)

Clove, Lime and Macadamia Cupcakes (makes 6 – 7 cupcakes)

3 eggs
¾ c castor sugar
zest of 2 limes
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ c ground almonds
½ c ground macadamia nuts
½ c self raising flour

· Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with the sugar until creamy and thick
· Fold in the lime zest, cloves, vanilla, nuts and flour (the mixture will be thick and crumbly at this point)
· In a separate, clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold a couple of spoons of the egg white into the other mixture to lighten, then fold in the balance of the egg white
· Spoon mixture into cupcake liners and bake at 170c for 20-25 minutes
When cold decorate with cream whipped with 1/8th tsp of cloves and 1 dsp icing sugar

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ginger and Chocolate Mini Loaves

In the weekend I did some baking for the painter who is coming to paint our garage – yes, stage one of the major house re-build is well underway with the construction of the garage so that we can store our things in it when we have to move out in a month’s time. These little chocolate and ginger loaves had caught my eye in the first Julie Le Clerc magazine published a couple of years ago.

The mini loaves are moist and sticky like gingerbread, without a really strong ginger flavour, but with cocoa added to give a rich chocolatey taste. The recipe said to use ¼ each of golden syrup and treacle – not having any treacle, I used all golden syrup. The loaves are topped with slices of crystallised ginger, which you put on top of the loaves part way through baking.

These little loaves are delicious. I think next time though I may add more ground ginger and perhaps some sliced stem ginger as well. Also, the recipe only made 4 mini loaves (my mini loaf tins are about the size of 1 ½ standard muffins), so double it if you want to make a decent amount. If you wanted to just make one large loaf, I would also suggest you double the recipe.

Chocolate Gingerbread Loaves (adapted from Julie Le Clerc recipe – makes 4 mini loaves)

½ c golden syrup
¼ c milk
50g butter
¼ c brown sugar
¾ c flour
¼ c cocoa
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp each mixed spice and ground ginger
¼ c sliced crystallised ginger

· Melt golden syrup, milk, butter and brown sugar together
· Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and spices together, then pour the liquid into a well in the middle, stirring gently to make a smooth batter
· Spoon into greased mini loaf tins and bake at 170c for 20-25 minutes, sprinkling with sliced ginger half way through baking
Cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Chunkers

The TWD recipe this week was chosen by Claudia of Fool For Food and is chocolate chunkers. It has been a huge cookie month for all TWDers! I think this is the fourth cookie we have baked in the last 6 weeks, but this has to be my favourite yet! And that is saying something, as all the cookies from Dorie’s book have been fabulous!

The chocolate clunkers were really a whole heap of chocolate chunks and nuts held together with a sticky almost brownie like dough. To make the cookie you beat eggs and sugar together, add melted chocolate and butter, then a little flour and cocoa powder – just like for brownie. To the mixture you then added chunks of dark chocolate and chunks of milk chocolate (or white chocolate), chopped nuts (I used pecans) and Dorie added raisins – I hate raisins and other dried fruit, so I didn’t bother with that part (what is it with Dorie and raisins!!!! – she adds them to so many things that I think are just better left alone!).

I halved the recipe and made 12 large cookies – I so wish I had made the full recipe because these were soooooo good! These cookies had the perfect mix of crunch and chew – slightly crisp on the outer edges, but deliciously chewy and gooey in the centres! I am going to make more later in the week as my youngest sister is coming to stay and I know she will love these! I used milk chocolate as my other chocolate chunk in the cookies but I bet they would be really good with white chocolate chunks – in fact I reckon that Whittakers white chocolate with macadamias would be just perfect!

I loved these and will certainly making them again! See if the other TWDers loved them as much as by looking at the TWD blogroll here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wee Birthday Treats

September is a big birthday month at my firm and the first of these was Carol’s birthday last week. I made her these little almond marzipan chocolates. They were quite simple to make, but I think they look quite effective – hopefully they tasted nice too! Essentially they are blanched almonds, lightly toasted, covered in marzipan and then dipped in chocolate. They would make a good Christmas gift (yes, almost time to start thinking about that!)

Yesterday morning I had a successful mission to the Takapuna markets. For $22 I got organic spinach, organic bok choy, organic agria potatoes and kumara, 4 organic red peppers (small ones), silver beet, an eggplant, a big bundle of rosemary and three small heads of broccoli. I thought that this was pretty economical! I then went to the fish shop and got more cheap hoki.

Last night we had the hoki flash roasted again, but this time with chopped rosemary, sliced garlic, dried chilli flakes scattered over and a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil. We had it with cous cous (mixed with 1 tsp ras al hanout – a Moroccan spice blend, the diced flesh of a preserved lemon, fresh chopped mint and toasted sliced almonds), roast pumpkin and cauliflower (blanched and then sautéed with red pepper, garlic and chilli). It was a delicious meal!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Grapefruit Cakes

My friend gave me a bag of grapefruit and tangelos from her tree and the same weekend the latest Taste magazine arrived with a recipe in if for grapefruit cake. I thought it sounded interesting as I wasn’t sure how the bitterness of grapefruit would translate into a cake. I made the recipe in the weekend. Instead of making one large cake, I halved the recipe and made 7 little cakes in brioche moulds.

These cakes turned out really yummy. They were very moist and the grapefruit added an interesting note – like you know that they are citrusy but you’re not quite sure which citrus fruit. There is grapefruit zest and juice in the cake mixture and the icing is simply icing sugar made into a pourable icing with grapefruit juice. You could substitue any other type of citrus for the grapefruit. The cakes lasted well – the last one got eaten yesterday, so that is four days in the tin which isn’t bad for a cake. I imagine that they would freeze really well too. Making smaller cakes gives a bit more flexibility than making a large cake.

Earlier in the week I made a yummy dinner which I thought I would share. We like to eat fresh fish, but like everything else it is getting more and more expensive. When I was at the supermarket the other day they had hoki on special for $12 a kilo. Now hoki is not my preferred fish, but I bought some and it was delicious! I cooked it simply by coarsely grinding equal amounts of cumin and coriander seeds which I mixed with some sea salt and cracked pepper and sprinkled on the fish. I flash roasted the fish at 220c for 10 minutes and it was perfect. We had the fish with baked kumara (cut into wedges and baked with a drizzle of oil) and a baby spinach salad and dressing of lime juice, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce. It was yummy with nice clean flavours!

Grapefruit Cake (from Taste magazine – I halved the recipe to get 7 small cakes)

250g butter
1 1/3 c castor sugar
4 eggs
finely grated zest of 2 grapefruit
½ c grapefruit juice
2 c flour
3 tsp baking powder

· Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time.
· Fold in zest and juice, then fold in flour and baking powder
· Spoon into a greased 20cm fluted tin and bake at 180c for 1 hour or until the point of a small sharp knife comes out clean
Once cold ice with a simple icing using enough grapefruit juice to thin down 2c icing sugar to a pourable consistency.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Something "healthy" for the tins

Don’t you just love those treats which masquerade as ”healthy” and only the cook knows exactly how much butter and sugar went into them! This muesli slice is one of those treats. When you taste the buttery, sweet goodness, you know that it cant be all that good for you, but then again does the inclusion of nuts, seeds and oats help counteract all that butter and sugar?

This recipe is another that I pulled from Taste magazine some time ago. The slice is actually meant to have melted chocolate on top, but I think that is gilding the lily a little! The slice is made especially sweet and gets its chocolatey look from the inclusion of milo in the mix. For those who don’t know what milo is it is kind of like ovaltine – a sugary chocolate powder usually used with hot water as a drink. Half a cup of honey was the other sweetner, but I substituted that for maple syrup, as I only had manuka honey in the pantry and it seemed too good to use in an everyday slice that I knew my husband would gobble up in a couple of days! I also ran out of coconut, so only put in half a cup, topping it up to a cup with extra rolled oats.

My husband and I both loved this slice. It is so much nicer than bought muesli bars and is more economical too. I think that the bars would keep for quite a while in a sealed container, but ours didn’t get the chance – they were too good and disappeared in a matter of days.

Milo Muesli Slice (adapted from a Nestle recipe in Taste)

1 c coconut
1 c rolled oats
1 c raw peanuts
1 c sunflower seeds
½ c sesame seeds
¼ c pumpkin seeds
¾ c milo
½ c honey or maple syrup
¼ c raw sugar
125 g butter

· Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl
· Melt together the honey or maple syrup, sugar and butter, then mix into the dry ingredients
· Press into a lined 23cm square tin and bake at 180c for 20-25 minutes.
Cool in tin and cut into pieces when cold.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Belgium Bites for Father's Day

It was Father’s Day in NZ on Sunday. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are both a bit odd for me and my husband as neither of us have parents living in the same city and we are not parents ourselves. Therefore, the day often passes by like any other day. Also, while I don’t like to buy into the blatant commercialism of it, I do like to treat my father on Father’s Day with something nice.

One of my Dad’s favourite cookies is Belgium Biscuits, so for Father’s Day, I made him these little cookies that sound a bit like Belgium Biscuits, but are slightly different. They are little spicy cookies with an indent filled with raspberry jam and then iced with dark chocolate on the bases. I called them Belgium Bites. I really like the idea, but I think if I made these again, I would follow my usual Belgium Biscuit recipe, rather than the one I used which had golden syrup as the only sweetner, making the cookies a bit soft – like a soft gingerbread rather than crisp like a Belgium Biscuit. I hope Dad liked them anyway!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart and is Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. The photo of these in From My Home to Yours looks fabulous – the cookies look kind of chunky and perfect with the ice-cream they are photographed with. My cookies look kind of flat and I struggled to get an inspired looking photo of them.

The cookies are chocolate cookies, but are made with malted milk powder, which gives a subtle malt taste to the cookies. They have chocolate chunks and whoppers added to the dough. I used horlicks as my malted milk powder. I have no idea what a whopper is, but I guessed they are a bit like a malteser? So I used maltesers. I personally wouldn’t pick maltesers if I was choosing a lolly or a sweet treat – I have never really liked the taste of malt. Dad used to try and give us a dessertspoon when we were kids, but I never likes it at all. I also accidentally bought dark chocolate maltesers instead of milk, but I actually think that the dark chocolate ones worked out better than the milk ones would have.

I didn’t chop the maltesers like it said to in the recipe, and that was fine too – they kind of melted into the cookie dough a bit and were lovely and caramelised, giving quite a chewy cookie. Instead of 2 eggs, I used one whole egg and an egg yolk and I also left out the milk that was meant to go in the dough. I thought the dough was soft enough without the milk and as it was my cookies spread quite a lot.

My husband absolutely loved these cookies. He ate nearly the whole batch over the weekend. He loved the chewiness of them. I must say I quite liked them as well. I loved the chewiness and the way the maltesers had melted into the cookie dough. I did find them to be a bit flat – I prefer a more robust looking cookie and I was disappointed with how much they spread on the tray. I would make these again and make them smaller in size so I don’t end up with such huge cookies.

Check out the other TWDers Whopper Drops here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baby Shower Cupcakes and Cookies

In the weekend I went to a baby shower – it is that time in my life where all my friends are having babies!! I was asked to bring cupcakes, so made these little rattle cupcakes which I must say, I was rather pleased with!!!! The cupcakes were lemon flavoured with cream cheese icing and I made the little circles out of coloured fondant. I think they look very cute!

I also made some little cookies. Our friends’ surname begins with G, so I piped a G on the front of the little onesies. I was pleased with how the rattle cookies look as well. Lots of photos this time –as you can tell I am quite proud of my efforts!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friends for Dinner

At Christmas time we were given two hams on the bone. We used one over Christmas and put the other one in the freezer. We remembered about it a few weeks ago and so thought we better have some friends over for dinner to eat it up. We did that last weekend.

The guests bought nibbles, but I also opened a jar of olives and made some roasted spiced nuts to snack on as pre-dinner nibbles. I simply tossed some raw mixed nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds and brazil nuts) with some tumeric, cumin powder, salt a little oil and my secret ingredient of about ½ tbsp of brown sugar. You then roast them in the oven at 180c for about 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

I studded them ham with cloves and glazed it with a mixture of marmalade, brandy and orange zest and juice. It was delicious. My mum has always glazed our Christmas ham with pineapple juice and brown sugar, but I really liked the tang of the marmalade glaze. We had the ham with a delicious roast pumpkin, orange and hazelnut salad (tossed through greens) and cous cous to which I added roasted cashew nuts, almonds, drained chickpeas, fresh herbs, sliced roasted red peppers and some ground cumin. Cous cous is great for entertaining as it doesn’t have to be piping hot when you serve it – room temperature is better.

Pudding was delicious. I made the plum and cardamom steamed puddings pictured above. The recipe was a Ray McVinnie recipe from Cuisine. I made the puddings in individual ramekins. You put a spoon of plum jam and some drained, canned plums in the base and then made a cardamom and ground almond sponge to go on top. They were served with orange custard which was flavoured with orange zest and orange blossom water. I also served whipped cream on the side. I made the full recipe and I got 10 mini puddings, so you could easily just make 2/3 of the recipe. When I make individual steamed puddings, I put them in a roasting dish, pour boiling water to come about half way up the sides and then put tin foil over the whole dish (spray the tin foil with an oil spray) and put in the oven for about 25 minutes.

If you love steamed pudding you need to make these as they are one of the nicest I have made. They freeze really well too – just cover well with gladwrap and pop in the freezer. They defrost successfully in the microwave. Find the recipe here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Culling the Collection

I have a box of recipes which I have collected over the years, cut from magazines, printed off the internet or given to me. I often go through the box, culling the ones I no longer think I will make or if I have found something similar in a new book or other magazine. If I make a recipe and love it, I glue it into a hard covered book that I keep specifically for this purpose. If I make it but don’t think I will try it again, it goes in the bin.

This chocolate swirled gingerbread is a Martha Stewart recipe which I printed off her web site years ago (possibly 8 or so years ago!). I am not sure what attracted me to the recipe or why I have kept it for so long, but I decided to make it in the weekend. After keeping the recipe all these years, it didn’t make the cut to be pasted into my book. The gingerbread was nice enough and fairly moist, but it wasn’t that “stick to the roof of your mouth” moistness which I like in a piece of gingerbread. I also don’t think that the chocolate swirled on the top actually added anything – it almost wasn’t enough chocolate to give a chocolatey taste. If you do want to try the recipe, you can find it here. I used golden syrup instead of molasses.

Last night for dinner we had lamb steaks, which I roasted in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200c. I pressed on a topping of chopped pistachio nuts, parsley, mint and garlic which was delicious. We had it with a barley and silverbeet pilaf from the latest Dish magazine and peas. This was delicious! It was basically barley slowly simmered in chicken stock for almost an hour until tender but still with a bite to it, then blanched and chopped silver beet, grated parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes stirred through. I will be making this again!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Plum & Cardamom Muffins

Each week I make a batch of muffins to have in the freezer for my husband to take to work. He takes one out each morning, wraps it in gladwrap and by the time morning tea comes round, the muffin is nicely defrosted for eating. He likes muffins to have a healthy component and I like to try new recipes, so often I find I am creating muffins with a healthy bent for his eating pleasure.

I made these muffins on Sunday, using canned plums that were leftover from Saturday night’s dinner party (more about that later in the week). I used the syrup that the plums are canned in as part of the liquid for the muffins and that worked out fantastically, although the muffins had a slight pink tinge to them! I used cardamom as my spice. Cardamom is a fairly strong flavour and not everyone likes it – you could use ginger or cinnamon instead.

The healthy bits are the addition of bran and wholemeal flour, and if I am making muffins purely for my husband to eat, no matter what the recipe says, I only ever add one egg and ¼ cup oil for the egg and fat component. This works well, although unless you are freezing the muffins, they probably wouldn’t keep that well for more than a day or two due to having less fat in them.

My husband thought these muffins were great.

Plum and Cardamom Muffins

1 c wholemeal flour
½ c plain flour
½ c bran
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
¾ c sugar
one can of drained plums, diced (reserve the juice)
reserved plum juice made up to one cup with milk
1 egg
¼ c oil (I use rice bran)

· Combine dry ingredients
· Beat juice, milk, egg and oil together with a fork
· Add diced plums and liquid to the dry ingredients, mixing just to combine
Spoon into greased muffin tins (I made 11) and bake at 200c for 15 minutes or until cooked

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD - peanutbutter, oatmeal and chocolate chipsters

TWD seems to be going through a cookie phase at the moment. This week’s recipe is peanut butter & oatmeal chocolate chipsters and is chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution. I love peanut butter, so this was a great recipe for licking the bowl!

These cookies were a combination of peanut butter, chocolate and oatmeal (as the name suggests!). Dorie specified either crunchy or smooth peanut butter. I only had smooth in the cupboard so used that, but I did add some chopped salted peanuts which added to the flavour. As I said above, the raw mixture of these cookies was delicious! And the cooked product was pretty good as well. The cookie turned out lovely and crisp, but with a slight chewiness from the oats. The peanut butter flavour wasn’t too pronounced, but I think that the addition of the salted peanuts gave a great boost to the flavour of the cookies.

The other interesting thing in these cookies was a touch of cinnamon – not enough to make the cookies cinnamon flavoured, but just subtle enough to add a little

I would definitely make these again and I actually think that they could become firm favourites. They are perfect with a glass of milk and would be great in school lunch boxes (if I had kids!!).

See if the other TWDers loved them as much as I did by looking here.