Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Australian Gingerbread

It's that time of year again, but rather than decorate my house in cheap tinsel (not that I have anything against cheap tinsel, I just haven't got around to it yet) I decided to make something I hadn't made in a long, LONG time: gingerbread.

I love the IDEA of gingerbread, I mean, how can you go wrong with brown sugar, spice and golden syrup as the star ingredients?  But when I bite into it ... I dunno.  I'm often hit with uber-ginger then get that bitter taste of all the mixed spice, and the texture also seems to miss the mark, all too often.  I like a subtle, cinnamon-y, slightly chewy with just a hint of crunch texture at the end.  Too particular?  Maybe.

Anyhoo.  I adapted this very easy recipe from Taste (check here for the original recipe if you're into more traditional flavoured gingerbread), which hit the spot.  I even gave the men a miss and made it all about the ladies, cutting out love-hearts and decorating them into bikini tops and bottoms.  They were a bit of a hit.

Ingredients:

- 125g butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup golden syrup
- 1 egg, separated
- 2 & 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp bi carb soda
- 1 cup icing sugar (sifted)
- few drops green food dye
- few drops red food dye

How to:

Heat oven to 180 degrees C.  Beat the butter and sugar until pale, add the golden syrup, egg yolk, then gradually sift in the flour, bi carb and spices, and mix until combined.

Dust a clean bench with flour and knead together, pressing down to form a rough 'disc' shape.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Roll out between two sheets of baking paper, until about 3mm thick.  Cut as many shapes as you can, then re-roll and cut more.

Eat remaining raw dough (it's completely delicious and more-ish) with a strong coffee.  Okay you don't have to do that last part. But. Trust. Me. It's. That. Good.




Put onto a non stick (or paper lined) baking sheet and bake approx 20 mins until it starts to brown slightly.  Basically, the browner it is, the crunchier it will be.



Meanwhile make the icing, beat egg white until soft peaks form, then mix in the icing sugar.  Separate into two bowls and add a colour to each, mixing to combine.

Wait until the boobs/bums are cooled completely, then pipe the icing using either a piping bag and small round tip, or alternatively an old (clean) sauce bottle will also do the trick (and is easier for young kids who want to "help").


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Chocolate Quickie

Who doesn't love chocolate? You love it, I love it, everyone loves chocolate.  I especially love a Chocolate-Quickie-Custardy-Pud.  Four ingredients and five minutes to sweet, sweet ecstasy.

Ingredients

3 cups whole milk
1 block (about 200g) dark chocolate
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup cornflour

Method

Whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk with cornflour in a small bowl.  Heat the rest of the milk in a medium saucepan, whisk in the cornflour mixture, and heat until it thickens slightly. 

Add in chocolate, a few squares at a time, and whisk into the milk until it's all melted through.  Stir and heat until nice and thick, then pour into small bowls or jars.  Serve as-is or enjoy with fruit.

Optional:  Try adding some other flavours to the 'pud' like ground cinnamon, ginger, or even chilli. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Moussaka (Greek "lasagne")

My introduction to moussaka happened on my first trip to Greece in 2000, and I've been hooked ever since (both to the dish and to Greek food in general).  If you google "moussaka recipe"you'll get about a bazillion different versions of this very famous and popular dish; some use potatoes, others only eggplant, some include zucchini or other vegetables.  I've tried loads of different recipes over the years and here's my favourite version, it uses mixed beans which makes it lighter and not so "meaty", but just as delicious and filling as the original.  You could even try sneaking in some finely chopped vegies.

Base Ingredients:

1kg mince (lamb is the authentic way but you can use any mince eg: pork, veal, beef, even turkey!)
two large eggplants (or 3-4 smaller ones)
1 large jar passata (Italian tomato sauce)
1 can of mixed beans
1/2 cup water
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 brown onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Bechamel topping Ingredients

100g salted butter
100g plain flour
600ml full cream milk
nutmeg
2 eggs (lightly whisked)
Grated cheese

Make Base:

Put onions and garlic in hot pan and sautĂ© til tender, then add mince and brown.  Add passata, beans and water, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice, stir and turn heat right down to lowest setting.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and the sauce is very thick (may take up to two hours). 





Meanwhile, cook the eggplant: slice into ½ cm slices and fry until just softened – I use the “George Foreman” grill without any oil.  BBQ also works well and adds a nice smoky flavour. 



Next, make the topping…

Make Bechamel topping:

Put butter and flour into large saucepan and melt, stirring, until combined and the mixture bubbles and changes colour.  It should go from light brown, to a cream colour, then back to a caramel colour.  This takes around five minutes, keep stirring while this happens.  Add all the milk and use a whisk to combine it together.  Let it heat, whisking every minute or two, until the mixture starts to thicken to a creamy consistency.  Add eggs and whisk again, at this point the mixture should thicken up a lot.  Once that happens, remove from heat, and add a sprinkle of nutmeg and white pepper for flavour.




Assemble Moussaka:

Divide eggplant into three batches, divide mince mix into two batches.

Put one layer of eggplant on the base of a large casserole dish, then put a layer of mince on top.  Add another layer of eggplant, and another layer of mince.  Finish with the last of the eggplant, then top with bĂ©chamel topping, and grate some cheese over the top.

 


Bake in a hot oven (180 degrees C) until brown on top, approx 25 minutes.




Disclaimer: NOT the most aesthetically pleasing dish this blog has seen, but as we know, looks can be very deceiving.  Especially where food is concerned.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Easy Benedict (with five minute hollandaise)

I woke today feeling totally disenchanted at the state of our political system and in dire need of some pampering.  With only eggs in the fridge and one stale slice of bread in the tin, I needed to get creative.

I'm gonna be straight up here.  I love hollandaise, but I don't have time or patience to muck around with  endless whisking and staring at the stovetop and measuring in bits of butter at set times.  I'm a "throw it all in the pan and mix like mad and hope for the best" kinda gal.  I know I'm not alone here.

Easy Benedict 

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks
approx 100g melted salted butter (microwave it!)
juice from one lemon
cracked pepper
eggs for poaching (or scrambling, or frying, or however you like them)

How to:

Put a small pan of water (about an inch) on to the stovetop and bring to a simmer.  On the top of the pan, place a bowl (not touching the water) and throw in the the egg yolks.  This is where you start whisking.  As you whisk the yolks, slowly pour in the melted butter, keep whisking the mixture until it starts to pale and thicken, then add the lemon juice.  Once you get to your desired level of thickeness, take it off the heat and add some pepper.  It should look a bit like this.


Poach or whatever your eggs.


Spoon over your awesome kick - butt, five minute hollandaise, and get into it.


 (Oh, and with the leftover egg whites, you can make this.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chocolate and date torte

At a local cafe recently I spied an interesting chocolatey, nutty, cakey thing and decided I must try it.  It was the most delectable chocolate nut torte, with a smattering of dates, of all things.  Their chewy earthy sweetness melted beautifully with the chocolate and I immediately went home to try making one myself (the cafe would not give up their recipe!).  This recipe is a mish-mash of a few different torte recipes found all over the internet, but I think this is one of the simpler ways of throwing it together on short notice.

Ingredients:

1 cup roughly chopped pitted dates (or any other dried fruit you like)
1 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate (or choc bits)
1 cup almond meal
4 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or any other nut)

Method:

Pre heat oven to 180C (or 160 fan-forced).  Line the bottom of a springform cake pan with baking paper. 


In a medium bowl, throw together the dates, chocolate, almond meal and nuts.  


In another bowl, beat together the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.  


Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue, then spread into the cake pan.  


Bake for approx 45 minutes until lightly browned on top.  Cool, then remove cake from pan.  Serve with cream or ice-cream and a strong coffee.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Apple Tarte Tatin

Last picking season for Tim's family at their orchard before taking a well earned hiatus.  We visited several weekends ago - our first proper family roadtrip with little L - and collected some boxes of apples, possibly the last for some time.

I'm into simple these days, well, I always was.  But even more so now I have a little bub to tend to and waste lots of glorious time with.  I'd always meant to try making apple tarte tatin and found a simple recipe in an old cookbook, here it is (with slight modifications):

Apple Tarte Tatin:

Ingredients:

110g salted butter
185g caster sugar
6 large royal gala apples, peeled, quartered and cored
1 slice pre made/rolled butter puff pastry, unfrozen

Method:

In a large non stick (and oven proof) frying pan, melt butter and add sugar.  Cook stirring for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves, then take it a bit further and let turn a golden brown colour.

Cook apples in two batches over low heat, approx 10 minutes each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Turn up the heat and cook the syrup until it goes from runny to a more sticky consistency.


Arrange the apples in the pan, then place the pastry on top, gently pushing down the edges with the back of a wooden spoon.  Place in a pre heated oven (220C) for approx 30 minutes or until pastry has turned golden.



Allow to cool a little then turn out onto a serving plate, serve with cream or ice cream.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

A new level of sickly decadence ... Tim Tam Cake!

Credit where credit is due.  I did not invent the tim tam cake; you can find the recipe here.

I did invent a crafty short-cut.  No-name brand cake mix, for sale at my local small supermarket for 71 cents a packet.  Super easy to prepare.


I also took the blog author's advice and crushed up a pack of tim tams, scattering them over the filling rather than lining the middle with whole tim tams.  Much easier to cut up the cake that way!



Be warned.  It's disgustingly tasty.