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Life in a bubble: Ultimate Macaroons

10 Jul

I have a tendency to live in a bubble. I call it my little world. It is a lovely place, happy, like munchkin land in the Wizard of Oz. Bright colours, jaunty tunes and maybe even a lolly pop guild. However sometimes, something intrudes into my otherwise happy world and ruins it. Usually poisonous people, not easily identified by being green and wearing a pointy hat. It is always a little soul destroying to find that some people insist on acting selfishly and manipulatively even when they know how much it hurts you. It is at times like this that a girl could lose all hope and trust in humanity. But it also at this time that people can show you their inner Glinda and make you realise that some people aren’t looking for a weak spot to exploit, but rather fiercely protect and support you. Now unfortunately my real life Glinda’s didn’t give me some shiny red shoes when they waved their protective wand over me, but they did do an exceptional job at reminding me not to lose hope.

Such kindness requires a kindness in return and so these little macaroons were made as a gesture of gratitude, for lending a helpful ear, shoulder and in one case a couple of strong cocktails. Please note these are actually macaroons not macarons. Yes I know I sound like a foodie wanker when I point out that people keep calling the French sweet delicacy by the wrong name, but I wouldn’t want to lead you astray with baking miscommunications 😉

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These are dense and coconutty yet still light enough to feel that you could easily have 2 and it wouldn’t stop you floating around in a bubble. They also keep very well in a container for a few days. They are sourced from my baking bible which I simply can never praise highly enough. Thank you Ms Lawson you are always welcome in my special world.

What do like to give as gifts of gratitude?

Ultimate coconut macaroons

Makes 12

Only very slight adapted from Coconut Macaroons by Nigella Lawson in How to be a Domestic Goddess

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 100 gms of caster sugar
  • 30 gms of ground almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of vanilla paste
  • 225 gms of shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

2. Beat the egg whites until frothy with an electric beater.

3. Add the cream of tartar and keep beating until soft peaks start to form.

4. Then add the sugar 1 teaspoon at a time until the egg whites are stiff when the beater is stopped and removed it holds to the beater

5. Add the almond meal, salt and vanilla and fold into the egg whites a couple of times before adding the coconut and folding in until completely combined

6. Using a soup spoon measure out the macaroon mixture and form into balls and place on a lined baking sheet

7. Place into the oven and cook for 20 mins or until coconut is turning golden

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Home Comforts: Easy White Sour Cream Bread

4 Jul

When I went to New York I took a trip out to Ellis Island. I have always had an interest in the migration experiences of people given that I am the child of two migrants to this country. I like to think of myself as an exotic cocktail 😉

The display as you walked around the processing centres complete with photos of those seeking to migrate to the US was really touching and gave you an excellent perspective on how the people lived while they were waiting to see if they would be accepted and allowed to stay. One of the really interesting things was the food served. I can’t imagine the challenge of trying to feed all of those people with all those different backgrounds and ages. They had menus of the typical day on the walls, not an inspiring read. I bought the Ellis Island cookbook while there and then proceeded to read half of it while standing in line waiting for tickets to a Broadway show. One of the reoccurring themes was that many of the new arrivals to Ellis Island were both perplexed and besotted by some of the food they were served, including white bread and cereal or ‘morning soup’ as one arrival called it

Fresh Bread ready for buttering

Fresh Bread ready for buttering

Mutti often talks about the first time she ate white toast, something that was not served in her house, and how much she loved it. I of course was given white bread and toast as a child, but given that I more often than not have multi grain bread, white bread still affords a degree of comfort and pleasure, particularly slathered in too much butter, but we all know how much I love butter 🙂

I made this loaf on the weekend. It caught my eye while reading The Guardian online and it was easy to do and delivered an excellent soft result, particularly good when toasted. I made no real change to the recipe except to only add water as I thought I needed it and I added slightly less sugar. Served as a side to some baked eggs it was like a warming hug on a cold and miserable winters night.

Do you like white bread? What is your favourite comfort food?

Easy White Sour Cream

recipe by Dan Lepard at Sour Cream White Bread

  • 125g cold sour cream
  • 100 ml of hot water and 150 mls of cold water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1  7gm sachet dried yeast
  • 550g  white flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Oil, for kneading

1. Mix the sour cream with the boiling water, 100 mls of the cold water and the yeast, using a whisk or fork to combine.

2. Add the salt, sugar and flour to the cream/water mixture and use your hands to combine until a ball forms. Add the remaining 50 mls of water to ensure the dough comes together using only as much of the water as you need.

3. Leave the bread in a warm spot and cover with glad wrap and a tea towel for 10 mins

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4. Lightly oil surface with a neutral vegetable or rice bran oil and lightly knead the dough for 10 seconds. Leave aside again under glad wrap and a tea towel for a further 2x 10 min intervals with light kneading in between.

5. Then leave the bread aside for 50 -60 mins until the dough has at least doubled in size.

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6. Stretch out the dough with your fingers until 2 cm thick and then roll up tightly and place in an oiled and lined loaf tin and leave for another 60 – 90 mins under a tea towel until the dough has again doubled in size.

Dust the top with flour and place into a hot oven and bake for 40 – 45 mins. The bread should be hollow on the tops and sides when knocked.

Eggs and Toast

Eggs and Toast

Choc Chip Oat Cookies and finding purpose

19 Nov

Hello lovelies.

Yes I know you must be wondering where I have been. Well as it turns out I have been trudging through the last of my assessments for my masters degree (fingers crossed). Does this mean I haven’t cooked for the last month. Certainly not, it just means that I have been cooking to eat quickly and haven’t had time to think, plan and photograph my meals and baked goodies. In fact most of my recent food has revolved around large helpings of chocolate eaten at a computer while trying to construct sensible, analytical and compelling arguments about topics that seemed at the time of choosing them incredibly interesting, but now feel tedious.

So at last I have no new classes to attend, no more essays to write and I can cook, read and engage in other purely recreational activities without guilt…at least in the beginning. Already I can feel the apprehension building about looking down the barrel of a new year with no firm goals in mind. The Christmas festivities will guide me through the early months post purpose but then what? Yes mindfulness and living in the present are absolutely skills that elude me, except when baking.

The following recipe came off a magnet given to me by Mutti after one of her and dad’s road trips. The cookies are delicious, chewy, crispy and most importantly big and chunky. I made these the day I handed in my last essay, they are easy to make and remind you how good the simple things can be.

What are your goals? Are you good at living in the present?

Chocolate Chip and Oat Cookies
Courtesy of Long Track Pantry Jugiong

Makes 15

  • 150 gms of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats
    1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy

3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined

4. Put all the remaining dry ingredients in to the butter mixture and fold to combine.

5. Using a spoon and your hands form the mixture into balls and place on a lined oven tray. Flatten slightly. They will spread.

6. Cook for 10 mins or until just golden.

 

Carrot and Pineapple Muffins

4 Oct

Wasn’t last weekend just delightful! When recounting the activities I had engaged in over the long weekend someone pointed out to me that most of them seemed to revolve around food. I can assure you that isn’t true. My activities don’t revolve around food it is just that food accompanies all of my activities. Saturday saw the grand final which meant that layered nacho dip was the order of the day with champagne, the drink of choice in victory or defeat. Go swans!

Sunday saw a visit to the Opera house followed by a wagyu beef burger and cocktails. So you see it is not that I only do food related activities, rather that all activities are simply better when accompanied by food.

Healthy and tasty bite sized morsels

I went to bed on Monday night after the cheese and olive platter I had indulged in for dinner, feeling like my gluttonous weekend had finally caught up with me. After such an indulgent weekend one feels that they should subsist on carrot sticks and fruit to make up for the excesses. I turned those very things in to a muffin, so I don’t feel like I am denying myself at all. Instead it is like a mini moist carrot cake with none of the guilt and all of the flavour.

Carrot and Pineapple Wholemeal Muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins

Adapted from Best Recipes

 

  • ¾ cup of plain wholemeal flour
  • ¼ cup of plain white flour
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tsp of baking pwder
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • ¾ cup of crushed pineapple drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of rice bran/ other neutral tasting oil
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of mixed spice

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Put flours and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine

3. Add the carrots pineapple and spice to bowl and mix to combine

4. Make a well in the centre and put oil and both eggs in the well and then mix until just combined

5. Spoon into patty cases and bake in the oven for 180 degrees for 10 mins.

Cake Castle: Strawberry and Lemon Yoghurt Cake

25 Sep

King Kong: ‘Wow did you make this?’

Me: ‘Yes of course’

A Castle of cake

King Kong peers into the cake box again ‘Wow how did you make it into that shape, that’s amazing’

Me…stifled laughter ‘Its called a cake tin’ 🙂

I love how baking a cake in a bundt pan, in fact baking in general can make you appear like an alchemist of flour and butter, even if it is not the most difficult of recipes.

Strawberries are in abundant supply at the moment and this seemed like a great way to showcase them. This cake is a lovely moist cake and I received more than the usual number of compliments even days after, so I am guessing this cake is not merely for cake lovers.

What is your favourite way to showcase strawberries?

Strawberry and Lemon Yoghurt Cake

adapted from Strawberry Yoghurt Cake

Serves 12

  • 225 gms of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda and
  • 1/2 tsp of bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 200 gms of natural greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 250 gms of strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Grease and flour a bundt tin thoroughly.
3. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
4. Add the lemon juice and zest and then add the eggs one at a time waiting between eggs until combined
5. Alternate adding the flour and yoghurt in 3 parts, then add in the milk at the end and mix to combine
6. Bake the cake in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until the cake is springy to the touch and the skewer comes out clean
7. Allow the cake to cool in the tine for 10-15 mins and then remove carefully on to a rack to cook

Newly Discovered Talents and Garlic and Parsely Hearthbreads

23 Aug

Anyone who has made bread will know that it requires a great deal of wrist action in the kneading process. I have been told I have excellent kneading technique. While I was of course completely flattered to be told that my kneading technique was superior, by a professional no less, it is rather disappointing to know that one of my few easily identified talents is unlikely to be much use to me in my chosen field of employment. I suppose at least I always have options if the law isn’t for me! 😉

Bolstered by the previously mentioned flattery and the fact that humiliation is a well known companion, I decided that I was going to overcome my fear of making bread. When I find myself in times of baking self doubt Nigella Lawson comes to me, bearing wisdom throughout her cook book ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’. Safe in the hands of my trusted brunette sister I embarked upon the recipe for her Garlic and Parsley hearthbreads, the recipe did not fail and I was able to produce two lovely loaves of gorgeous garlic and oil doused bread.

I can assure you if you are in anyway apprehensive about the baking of bread, this recipe will not disappoint. It is the most luxurious of garlic breads and can be scoffed while standing over the baking tray just freshly out of the oven, so even if it is not a complete success no one will be the wiser!

Who do you turn to for baking wisdom?

Garlic and Parsley Hearthbreads

Recipe by Nigella Lawson

Serves 6-8

  • 500 gms of white flour
  • 7 gms of instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp of table salt
  • 300-400 mls of warm water
  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (you can use regular olive oil).

Garlic and Parsley Oil

  • 3 Heads of garlic
  • Large handful of parsley
  • More extra virgin olive oil.

1. Combine the flour, yeast and table salt in a bowl and put aside.

2. In a jug or bowl place the warm water and olive oil.

3. Using a dough hook on the slowest speed add the water into the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is slightly sticky but combined and forming a ball.

4. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. You should see real bounce back when you stretch the dough. You can do this part with the dough hook at a higher speed but I wanted to utilise my new found talent!

5. Oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough into the bowl covering with oiled glad wrap. Place in a warm spot to rise for approximately an hour or until you can tell it has doubled in size.

6. Once risen, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down using your knuckles to release any air.  Leave it to rest for a further 10 minutes. Divide the dough into two and roll the dough out until about 5 cms thick. Put each loaf on a lined baking tray and then try to stretch the dough a little further using your fingers.

7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

8. Cover the trays with tea towels and put aside to allow to get puffy, this takes about 20 – 30 minutes. Use your fingers to make little dimples across the bread, the oil, garlic and parsley will pool in these little dimples.

9. Pour the garlic parsley mixture over the breads and place in the oven. Bake for 20 – 30 mins or until golden and the parsley mix is dark. Top with some Maldon salt and serve.

Garlic and Parsley Oil

1. Trim the garlic head and place on a small square of alfoil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap the garlic in the foil and then wrap the package in another layers making sure to allow space around the garlic. Place in a preheated oven on 190 degrees and bake for 45 mins.

2. Place a good handful of parsley leaves into a food processor along with the garlic that has been squeezed from its skin and add olive oil while processing the parsley. The oil dressing should be runny and easy to pour. So just keep adding oil until you get the right consistency.

Food Unity: Pork and Black Bean Mexican Burgers

6 Aug

Why go out for a burger when you can have a steak at home goes the old saying. Why? because sometimes nothing satisfies quite like a burger . Now I know what the saying was referring to and I am not suggesting that you start referring to your beloved as a burger, thought quite frankly I am not enamoured by being called steak either, actually lets just stay away from comparing anyone to meat products entirely so as to avoid any unsavoury punning 😉

While staring out my window at work, so as to avoid having the look at the confusing piece of legislation in front of me again, I got to thinking about what I wanted to make on the weekend. What did I feel like I pondered and I was torn between an overwhelming desire for both Mexican and burgers. In a moment of transnational food unity I decided to make a Mexican inspired beef pattie to be paired with toppings and crusty bread to make a Mexican style burger. Aye Carumba!

The patties are a little delicate, although they do keep their shape while being cooked, but I highly recommend placing them in the fridge for an hour before cooking to allow them to firm up. The Mexican seasoning is not overwhelming or hot, but gives a hint of smoky spiciness that distinguishes this burger from other more traditional burgers. Paired with whatever toppings take your fancy, cheese and guacamole being mandatory, this feels like a seeing an old lover with new eyes.

Do you prefer steak or burgers?

 

 

Pork and Black Bean Burgers

Recipe by the Legal Tart

serves 6

  • 500 gms of Pork mince
  • 1 red onion chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 chilli chopped finely
  • 1 can of black beans thoroughly trained and crushed lightly with a fork
  • 2 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of chipotle tabasco
  • 1 Egg beaten lightly
  • 1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • Salt and Pepper

 

1. Fry off the onions, chilli and garlic until the onion is soft then add the taco seasoning and stir to coat the onion mixture. Cook for approximately 2 mins. Put aside to cool

2. Add the slightly crushed black beans to the mince then add the beaten egg and the tabasco.

3. Add the onion mixture and mix with your hands until the mixture feels well combined and is starting to stick together. Season with salt and Pepper

4. Make the mixture into patties and place on a tray in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

5. Place any patties you know you don’t need to cook immediately wrapped and in a container in the freezer or fridge.

6. Cook the remaining patties for several minutes on each side remembering to turn the patties gently to avoid any risk of them breaking up.

7. Serve in a crusty bread roll with guacamole sour cream, cheese and lettuce.

 

 

White Rabbit Gallery Chippendale and dumplings

3 Jul

I caught up with a friend of mine and her son on Sunday. After a trip to see the Colosseum built out of Lego at Sydney University we took a trip to White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale for some tea and dumplings. White Rabbit is actually and art gallery showcasing contemporary art by Asian artists. It has some interesting installations and free admission. But primarily I went because someone mentioned the word dumplings and that is enough to seduce me in to going anywhere.

The eating space is to the left as you enter and is nice and open with birdcages hanging from the ceiling and plenty of light. I doubt that the White Rabbit would claim to be a dumpling powerhouse but they have managed to provide a range of teas and 2 choices of dumplings as well as savoury and sweet tasting plates.

Tea $4.50 a pot

We ordered 2 pots of tea. I had a Rose Oolong which had a prominent rose aroma but a slightly spicy taste and was very drinkable, plus extremely pretty with its small rosebuds floating in the teapot. Miss Fine Arts had a Chrysanthemum tea. We also ordered some chive and egg dumplings as well as a sweet tasting plate for the little man. There are 8 dumplings a serve. They are handmade, steamed and served with both a soy sauce and a chilli dipping sauce. The dumplings were tasty and the skin was a nice consistency with the right amount of filling.

Egg and Chive Dumplings $9.50

The tasting plate consisted of mainly dried fruits and 2 small shortbread style biscuits. It would have been nicer to have maybe a little less dried fruit as maybe some alternative biscuits or slice as a sweet finish to the lunch, but despite this criticism it didn’t stop me picking at the craisins.

A nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Sydney

Are you easily seduced by the offer of a dumpling?

 

Childs play: Creme egg crispies

19 Jun

Have you ever been at a kids party, seen their food and wished you were sitting at the children’s table. I have, I have also been known to wait until they have become distracted by a new plaything and then help myself to their food while no one is watching. You say desperate and sad…. I say clever 😉

It is not simply that the food is in miniature, I admit I have a slightly odd fascination with miniature clothes, cookware and food. But it is also that kids food brings back memories of halcyon days stuffing my face with tasty and fuss free foods, completely unaware of food fads or fat contents.

One of those things that I absolutely loved as a child was the chocolate crackle. While I was making the recipe below Miss Meat and I reminisced about chocolate crackles and she commented how her father still loves them. I suggested  that they should still be served at adult parties, which got me thinking I might need to do a kids themed cocktail party because a chocolate crackle can only be improved by partaking  in a Bosom Caresser at the same time.

In saying that children’s food is simple and fuss free, I did fool around with the concept of a chocolate crackle in making the recipe below. In my defence it was motivated by a desire to get rid of some things left in my fridge, namely a bag of mini crème eggs. But I think it stays true to the spirit.

What’s your favourite kids food?

Crème Egg Crispies

Makes 20 mini crispies.

  • 230 gms of Cadburys mini crème easter eggs
  • 60 gms of copha
  • 60 gms unsalted butter
  • 50 grams of dark chocolate
  • 2 cups of corn flakes.

1. Heat the copha and butter in a pan over medium heat until melted and then add the crème eggs. You will need to keep an eye on the chocolate and stir occasionally until the eggs are completely melted.

2. Add the dark chocolate and stir until melted and combined with the crème egg mixture.

3. Turn off the heat and add the 2 cups of cornflakes and stir cornflakes through the chocolate mixture.

5. Spoon teaspoons of the mixture into patty cases. I used mini ones but you can use bigger muffin patty cases and chill until hard.

6. Serve to those who take delight in children’s party food.

Box of childish delight

The Bosom Caresser

11 Jun

This weekend was a long weekend in NSW to celebrate the Queens Birthday. I don’t have much affection for the Queen but I do covet some of her jewellery, I really think I would suit some of those tiaras. Despite my lack of affection for the English Royal Family I do appreciate an extra day off. Long weekends often mean mini breaks to destinations out of the city with friends or partners. But unfortunately my long weekend held no such adventures, so I was forced to find ways to entertain myself on a rainy long weekend, and I can’t think of a better way for a girl to occupy herself then experimenting with a titillating new cocktail 😉

There are of course slight variations between different recipes for this lovely cocktail, this is simply my preference. It says it should be served over crushed ice, however the overwhelming anticipation of the warm caress of the drink itself meant I didn’t waste time crushing ice, but rather used the ice from the cocktail shaker which worked just fine. It is not sweet, instead it has a slight warmth and a mild sourness that is all to easy to drink. Beware if drinking with strangers, the cocktail might not end up being the only thing caressing your bosom!

Bosom Caresser

  • 1.5 parts brandy
  • 1 part Madeira
  • 1/2 part Triple sec

Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and serve in chilled glasses.

My bosom has never been so caressed!

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