Sunday, November 13, 2005

A reason to bake - I do need one!

It was because my sister bought me this little cookie spatular(sp?) that I decided to bake the pumpkin rock cakes with brown butter icing found at Esurientes. Well that and the fact I had to stay home with Elliot while he was sick for the 5th day in a row, I did however find out why he was so sick - Glandular Fever!

I knew I had a piece of pumpkin I hadn't used so it had to be these rock cakes. I was surprised though how many ingredients were in the recipe I kept having to come back and forward from my pantry to the computer. Now that is a new thing to consider in kitchen design three paces from your desktop screen to the pantry, the stove, sink and bench top!

I am not keen on sultanas too (like Niki) and decided to use some dried cranberries instead, I also decied to use pecans and walnuts as I keep a mix of them to use on my cereal most mornings.

Loving the collage!

Ingredients (Makes ~50)
125g / 4 oz butter, softened
150g / 5 oz plain flour
175 g / 6 oz soft brown sugar, lightly packed
225g / 8 oz canned pumpkin or cooked pumpkin
1 medium egg, beaten
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
125 g / 4 oz wholemeal flour
75g /3 oz pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
100g / 3 1/2 oz raisins
50g / 2 oz butter
225g / 8 oz icing sugar
2-3 tbsp milk

I cooked my pumpkin and mashed it with a fork.

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. Using an electric beaer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the plain flour, sugar, pumpkin, beaten egg, and beat with the mixer until mixed well.

3. Stir in the ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon on the vanilla essence and then sift in the baking powder, bicarb of soda and grated nutmeg. Beat the mixture until combined well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add the wholemeal flour, chopped nuts and raisins to the mixture and fold in with a metal spoon or rubber spatula until mixed thoroughly together.

5. Place teaspoonfuls about 5 cm/2 in apart on to the baking sheet. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are firm.

6. Remove biscuits from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat, until pale and just turning golden brown.

7. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar, remaining vanilla essence and milk, stirring. Drizzle over the cooled cookies and serve.

I found that my icing was too runny and had to leave it in the fridge for a while the icing also never completely set which I put down to it having butter so transporting these dudes was not without some hazard. I also used an organic icing sugar while in search of the unrefined icing sugar I discovered the organic icing sugar and decided to give it a whirl - I think it simply results in different coloured icing sugar though along with the brown butter it was always going to have a different colour anyway.


Smoked trout with potato salad

I am having lots more fun lately mucking around with Picasa so I felt better about posting the recipe for this salad from Bill Granger's Sydney Food even though I wasn't entirely happy with my photography.

I have made this salad twice this week, and it is a wonderful entree so easy to prepare and serve and actually quite light and fresh with it's creamy lemon mayonnaise combined with the silky and rich smoked trout. You can make the dressing and mayonnaise in advance and cut up most other ingredients so prior to serving you need only boil the potatoes and assemble the salad.

100 ml (3 1/2 oz) extra virgin olive oil
50 ml (1 3/4 oz) lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic crushed with a little sea salt
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped italian parsely
1/4 cup finely sliced spring (green) onions
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon baby capers
500g (1 lb) unpeeled waxy potatoes (chats or kipflers)
250 g smoked rainbow trout (skin and bones removed)
to serve - lemon mayonnaise

Place olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined. Stir in herbs, spring onions, celery and caperss.

Cook potatoes in a large saucepan full of salted boiling water until tender when pierced with a knife. Drian and allow to cool for 5 minutes before peeling and slicing. Add potatoes to dressing while still warm. Stir gently to combine.

Divide potato salad among four plates, top with flaked smoked trout and drizzle with lemon mayonnaise.

Lemon Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
50 ml ( 1 3/4 fl oz) lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black peper
100ml (3 1/3 fl oz) canol or other mild oil

Place egg yolk, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper in a bowl (or food processor) and whisk until combined. Add the oil drop by drop, whisking constantly. When the sauce start to thicken, add the oil in a steady stream until fully incorporated. If the mayonnaise is too thick, thin with a tablespoon of warm water. Keeps in refrigerator for 5 days.

P.S. I used some curly lettuce too.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

23rd post 5th line

I am awake this morning at 5.00am wondering what we are going to cook for an extra-special dinner tonight. And I thought I would do this meme as well, though I have another meme I have started and yet to finish!

So what was the fifth line:

"To get through one of these efforts means loads of stamina."

Oh so true today. We have only half formed the ideas for the dinner and it is going to be lots of work:

To drink: Moet
To eat: Smoked salmon on chive blini & Rare roast lamb on tapanade bruschetta

To drink: A Hollick Sauvignon Blanc
First course: Smoked trout and kipfler salad

To drink: A Pinot Noir
Main: Hand-made peking duck ravioli with asparagus and broccolini

Dessert wine: Cheese Course
Yet to be decided a creamy french brie and crusty bread.

Dessert: Raspberry Souffle

Okay I started the above on October 8 and I have finally returned to this post and am able to say that as things turned out, the entree was perfect and very little work was involved. Unfortunately I have no photographs of that dinner. In the end we did not make the dessert and had the cheeses instead due our having to make the pasta from scratch - which basically took the entire day!

November 6 - I finally get to return to this post having just farewelled our lunch guests - but this time I have photographs of the lunch we served so I wanted to post about it in its entirety. With this lunch I decided that I didn't want to prepare an entree so I decided to go into a bit more detail with the starters to have with the champagne. One canape I just cannot go past is the herbed pikelet - it is so easy to prepare and the results are very rewarding visually.

Herbed pikelets with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers, lemon and chives

I found the recipe for these pikelets in my littlest but handiest book called Small Food (snack-sized bits to share with friends) by Murdock Books. There are always things that I can pick from this book to serve to guests with champagne on arrival. Sometimes when I get that little bit stressed I almost call off making these pikelets off, but thank goodness I don't because they always make great first impressions

Herbed pikelet
1 cup self-raising flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsely
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage

smoked salmon
creme fraiche

Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually add the combined egges and milk, mixing the flour in slowly. When the flour is incorporated, add the parsely and sage and season well. Whisk until a smooth batter forms.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and spray with cooking oil spray. Drop heaped teaspoons of batter into the pan and flatten them to give 5cm circles. Cook until bubbles appear in the surface of the pikelet, then turn and brown the other side. Lift out to cool on a wire rack.

To top - take thin slices of salmon and cut into 1 cm wide strips and curl into a rosette. Drop half a teaspoon of creme fraiche on the pikelet then place rosette of salmon, a caper and a very small thin slice of lemon. Arrange chives on top.

Prosciutto and zucchini bruschetta (from a previous post)

Chilli and basil prawns with rocket bruschetta

With the bruschetta - I usually rub the toast with a clove of garlic and drizzle some extra virgin oil on top prior to placing the topping. These were green prawns that we marinated in basil oil, chilli and garlic and briefly sauteed prior to serving on top of the rocket - easy peasy.

Braised belly of pork in a rich glaze, truffled mash, asparagus and wilted spinach.

This main was incredibly easy to make. It is the first time I have worked with pork belly. I had been impressed a couple weeks early when my sister roasted a pork belly so I decided to see what else I could do with it. I found this recipe on the web and it is from Gordon Ramsey - it was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C the reduction which I spooned over the top really made it. I served it with a truffled mash - I used dutch cream potatoes, lots of cream and butter and after mixing through the truffle oil, for good measure I drizzled some basil oil over the top too.

1 whole pork belly joint, about 1kg
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
a head of garlic or 6 fat garlic cloves, peeled
100ml sherry vinegar
200ml soy sauce
1.5 litres brown chicken stock
5 star anise
20 coriander seeds
10 white peppercorns
10 black peppercorns

To prepare the pork, use a sharp filleting knife to cut off the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat about 5mm thick. Remove the rib bones and discard. Even out the thickness by taking a slice from any thicker areas and placing where meat is thinner. You should now have an even sheet of boned pork belly. Roll this up quite firmly and tie into a neat, even-shaped roll. (I did none of this I got my butcher to do it!)

Heat a shallow flameproof cast-iron casserole or deep saute pan (with lid) until you feel a strong heat rising. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the pork joint, turning until caramelised all over. Remove to a plate.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and saute the vegetables and garlic for about 5 minutes.
Deglaze with the sherry vinegar and cook until reduced by half, then return the pork joint to the pan, placing it on top of the vegetables. Pour in the soy sauce and stock, then add the whole spices. Bring to the boil and partially cover the pan. Braise slowly over a low heat, or in the oven at 170°C, Gas 3.

I took the lid off for the last 45 minutes.

Cook for 2- 3 hours, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until the meat feels very tender. To test, push a metal skewer into the middle of the joint; there should be a little resistance.

Lift out the meat and set aside to rest on a warmed plate. Strain the pan juices into a pan and bubble to reduce to a glossy brown glaze.

To serve, remove the string and cut the pork roll into portions, or thick slices. Arrange on warmed plates and surround with wilted spinach and steamed asparagus. Serve with pomme puree.

Chocolate cloud cake and strawberries

Of course Niki inspired me to make this it is Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Cloud Cake. I am resigned to the fact that eventually I will end up baking every single cake that Niki and Nigella has done or will do though it will take some time as I need reasons to bake and don't do so indiscriminately - I am so happy I finally had a reason to bake this one.
250g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids *
125g unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175g caster sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
23cm springform cake tin
For the cream topping:500ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)**
half teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC/gas mark 4. Line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate. Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 75g of the caster sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and orange zest.#

In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 100g of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools. When you are ready to eat, place the still tin-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its tin. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges: it's the crater look we're going for here. Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer. Serves 8-12

My extra notes
*I used two 100g Lindt 70% bars of chocolate and I don’t think the 50g made a huge difference
**I used brandy instead of cointreau and I also used the orange zest
#(I didn’t know how long to beat at this stage so I decided to beat the eggs and sugar till the mixture was creamy and thick)

Melbourne Cup - cupcakes

I love my recipe for the cupcakes it basically involves throwing everything together and beating it up, which is exactly what I did on Melbourne Cup eve evening in order to bake and decorate some 80 plus cup cakes for our Pink Thai themed lunch.

The cup cakes went down a treat our pink theme went particularly well - I just remembered I lost at the track but managed to pick up the best dressed at the office! I was particularly proud of the men who donned their best pink bits to participate the office was particularly pretty instead of drab that day. Funnily enough though the next day we three women from my team turned up the next day head to toe in black. Maybe it was the memories of celebrity head played on the day that made us think we better turn up and look like we mean business again!

Cup Cakes

125g. butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 heaped teaspoons butter
lemon juice


1. Pre-heat oven to 180deg.C. Line a 12 cup patty cake or muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until ingredients are just combined. Scrape down with spatula and beat again until the mixture is thick and has lightened in colour.

3. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into each patty case and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and the cakes spring back when gently pressed on the top. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

4. Combined icing sugar and butter in food process and process until well mixed. Add lemon juice, a little at a time, until icing is of spreadable consistency. Using a small icing palette or spatula, top each cake with icing and decorate as desired with silver or coloured cachous, chocolate sprinkles or hundreds and thousands or marshmallows cut into thirds width ways with some good kitchen shears.

About Me

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Mother of two with one of each. Wife of one.Dogless. Busy working five days a week, baking and cooking when time allows. Writing rarely these days. Wishing I had time to read more often.