Monday, May 29, 2017

Prune Gingerbread

I really like prunes.  As a kid, my Mum would stew them and serve them with rice pudding. To quote Tim, prunes and rice pudding was "grouse".

I was therefore pleased to find a recipe for Prune Gingerbread in a recent issue of Australian Country magazine.  I like gingerbread and I like prunes, so it sounded like a match made in heaven.  This is a full bodied gingerbread, complete with molasses.

I think the gingerbread turned out well, but was just slightly too brown on the bottom for my liking.  Next time, I'd cut the cooking time, but otherwise, I really enjoyed this.

The recipe says to serve the gingerbread warm with sorbet, but it just as well served cold.

If you would like to try thins gingerbread recipe for yourself, you will need:

150g butter
150ml golden syrup
150ml molasses or treacle
125g dark brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (didn't have any, left it out)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour
2 eggs
1 cup plain yoghurt
150g chopped stoned prunes

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 23cm square cake tin.

Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup, molasses and sugar in a saucepan. (Tip for measuring the syrup and molasses - oil your jug or measuring cup so that the syrup/molasses doesn't stick.) Heat gently until it all melts together and the sugar dissolves.  Cool.

Sift the spices, bicarb and flour into the  sugar mixture, and combine with a rubber spatula.  Whisk together the yoghurt and eggs, then combine with the cake batter.  Fold through the prunes.

Pour the cake batter into the cake tin, and bake for 1 hour or until cooked through.  Cool the cake in the tin for 15 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice into squares and serve warm with sorbet or icecream, or just eat it as is!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hoofers High Tea at Big Mouth, St Kilda

Last Sunday, my tap dancing school did a public performance at Luna Park and Acland Plaza in St Kilda to celebrate Melbourne Tap Week. My dances were Kitten In a Blender and the Shim Sham Shimmy. Afterwards, we could attend an optional Hoofers High Tea at Big Mouth, a pub in St Kilda.

The photo at the top of this post features some fellow tap dancers at the Hoofers High Tea, with the school head mistress, Miss Jane,  photobombing in the Jackie O sunnies at the back.

A friend of mine said that as a pub, Big Mouth is quite good. It was clearly not a high tea venue, although some of the food was tasty.

We started off with "scones" (actually, mini brioche topped with pearl sugar) with jam and cream:

These were quite tasty, and were one of the best items on our menu.

Next up came chicken and avocado ribbon sandwiches:

Unfortunately, one side of the bread on these sandwiches had dried out, which detracted from the eating experience.

Next came mini vol au vents filled with cheese sauce - these were also very good:

Next up on the menu was mini vegetarian quiche - these were fairly average:

Much to the bemusement of many, the sausage rolls were served in thin slices - unusual, I will grant you:

A lot of people left after that, because the courses were very spread out.  Two hours after we started, the desserts came out, and featured some of the best items on the menu, so I am glad that I stayed.  I changed tables for dessert because my original table of tappers went home:

Featured left to right are sticky date pudding (meh), brownies (good) and churros with salted caramel dipping sauce (the highlight!).  One wise tapper put the sticky date pudding with the churros dipping sauce, a la butterscotch sauce, which I am sure made it taste better. 

Like my friend said, Big Mouth is a good pub - I just don't think high tea is normally in their repertoire.  The food was a mixed bag, but there were definitely some delicious nibbles.  I think the best part about the Hoofers High Tea was the camaraderie and getting to meet some other dancers.  They were a nice bunch of people, and made me, as a new comer, feel welcome.

Big Mouth
168 Acland St
St Kilda VIC 3182

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hairy Dieters' Chicken Bhuna

The Hairy Bikers have a lot of really good recipes, and their Chicken Bhuna, a curry, is no exception.  I used the chilli and it really pumps up the volume of taste (but if you drink the sauce, it can make your eyes water).

I served my Chicken Bhuna with a little rice to soak up some of the sauce:

The Hairy Bikers use a lot of capsicum, which doesn't always agree with my GIT, so next time, I think I'd cut down on the capsicum and sub in something else for some of the capsicum.  Nevertheless, this is a great recipe.

To make your own Chicken Bhuna, you will need:

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 each of red, orange and green capsicums
40g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
 ½ tsp hot chilli powder
1 tbsp cooking oil
400g can chopped tomatoes
600ml chicken stock
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp cornflour
Salt and pepper

Trim visible fat off the chicken thighs, then cut each thigh into 3 pieces. Season with pepper. Deseed the capsicums and cut into 3cm chunks. 

Cut the ginger into small pieces and put into a food processor with the onion quarters, garlic, curry powder, garam masala and chilli powder. Process into a smooth paste. 

Heat the oil in a large non stick saucepan and add the onion paste.  Cook the paste for 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the chicken and capsicums to the sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and sugar, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender, stirring from time to time.

Mix the cornflour with the water and stir the mixture into the sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve with boiled rice.

Friday, May 26, 2017

White Chocolate Cake - 10 year blogiversary

Today is this blog's 10th birthday.  I can't believe it has been 10 years, but it has.  Despite all the changes in my life over those 10 years, this blog has been a constant.

I started off as a blog lurker 2 years before I started my own blog, and gradually I decided that I could blog too!  Many of the blogs that I used to read no longer exist, and the number of blogs has skyrocketed since I started.

My plans for this blog were quite simple - to document the food that I made.  That was my plan then, and it remains the same.  This simple goal keeps blogging pleasurable.

I am combining my blogiversary with this month's Red Tractor recipe, which is for white chocolate cake.

Here is the calendar quote for the month, to tie in with Mother's Day:

First up, I made this white chocolate cake from the calendar recipe (top sliced off):

To make a half recipe (which is what I did), you will need:

100g chopped white chocolate
175g chopped butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 9" round cake tin. 

Pu the chocolate, butter, sugar and milk into a large saucepan.  Stir over low heat until smooth.  Pour the batter into a large bowl and cool for 20 minutes.  Whisk in the flours, vanilla and eggs.  Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 45-50 minutes, or until cooked through.  Cool the cake in the tin.

It was not clear what kind of chocolate the Red Tractor recipe called for in the ganache recipe. For that reason, I used another recipe for white chocolate ganache, online here.

Once the ganache had started to set up, I decorated the top of the cake with wafer flowers and butterflies and pink disco glitter.

This is a peek inside the cake.  I found the cake to be quite sweet, which is not surprising considering the white chocolate.  If white chocolate is your thing, this may just be the cake for you.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

EwE - Chicken Paella with Sausages - As You Like It

For Eating with Ellie this week, I chose the theme of As You Like It.  This has nothing to do with Shakespeare's play of the same name - it simply means, make what you want.

I chose to make Ellie's Chicken Paella with Sausages and Olives from So Easy.  However, there was one slight problem.  When I went to use my jarred olives, they had grown a healthy layer of grey mould on top - so no olives in my paella.

This was simple to make and very tasty.  I like that the paella is finished off in the oven, which makes things super-simple by taking away the supervision factor. I would definitely make this again.

To see what everyone else liked to make this week, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

TWD - Pistachio and Berry Gratins

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Pistachio and Berry Gratins.  Berries are combined with sugar to help create a syrup from their juices, then placed in ramekins.  The berries are then topped with a pistachio cream.

I used raspberries for my gratins.  I made just two of them by quartering the recipe.

These gratins made a delicious dessert - not too sweet and full of flavour.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Oat Pancakes

Tim recently gave me a sheet of recipes from a nutritionist who had visited his work.  The recipe that immediately caught my eye was for oat pancakes.  I had been thinking of making pancakes for a couple of weeks and not gotten around to it, so I was spurred into action when this recipe landed in my lap.

These pancakes are so easy and delicious:

To make them, you will need:

2 cups oats
2 eggs
1 banana
3/4 cup water

Blend the oats in a food processor to a fine meal.  Add the remaining ingredients and process til smooth.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frypan, and add spoonfuls of batter to the   pan.  Cook until bubbles appear, then flip the pancakes and cook the other side until just browned.

Serve with toppings of your choice.  I used maple syrup, Greek yoghurt and microwaved frozen cherries.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

EwE - Grilled Shrimp Po'Boy - Roll It Up, Roll It Up

For Eating with Ellie this week, Margaret chose the theme of Roll It Up, Roll It Up.  I decided to interpret this as something in a roll, and made Ellie's Grilled Shrimp Po'Boy from Comfort Food Fix

This Po'Boy was very easy and very tasty - grilled prawns in a roll with veggies and a tasty, zingy sauce.  I had to buy a few things I don't normally use (eg horseradish) but it was worth it.  I'd make this again.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beef Goulash, The Hairy Dieter's Way

I love a good stew, especially during the colder months.  Despite my wishing it otherwise, Melbourne is plunging head long into winter - and we are only half way through May!

I am a fan of The Hairy Dieters books, and I found a recipe for beef goulash in The Hairy Dieters - Eat for Life.  You can also find the recipe online here

What is not to like here - beef cooked with the sweet heat of paprika, and smothered in onions and tomatoes and capsicums.  It is rich and hearty, and perfect for those feral cold days where you need something to warm the soul.

I have been making a few Hairy Dieters' recipes recently, and will share them in due course because they are so good, and they won't mess up your diet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TWD - Goat Cheese and Chive Cookies

This week's Tuesday with Dorie (Cookies) recipe is Goat Cheese and Chive Cookies.  These are, as the name suggests, savoury cookies flavoured with goat cheese and chives.

I'll be honest - these were not exactly my cup of tea.  I quartered the recipe and made 6 cookies.  I think they'd be good perhaps with quince paste or cheese on top, but as they were, the didn't do much for me.

To se what everyone else thought of these cookies, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Glass Den, Coburg

A couple of weeks ago, I went for lunch with some friends to The Glass Den in Coburg.  It is set in part of the former Pentridge Jail. 

On the day that we visited, the place was bustling.  We were seated at one end of a communal table in the middle of the cafĂ©.

After ordering coffees, it was on to the serious business of lunch. I ordered a meatball sub ($17.50), which is as pretty as a picture despite its unromantic name: 

The sub is served on a pumpkin brioche roll, which was rather good.  The sauce on the sub had quite a sinus-clearing zing to it, and I loved it.

For dessert, I order The Mafia Boss - millionaire's shortbread with white chocolate and salted caramel:

Everything at The Glass Den is gorgeously presented.  If you have a serious sweet tooth, they do some amazing sweet breakfast dishes, complete with Persian fairy floss.  However, while the ladies seated next to us were delighted when they were presented with the same, I knew that I just couldn't go there.

If you want unique food that is poles apart from the offerings at your local greasy spoon, The Glass Den is the place for you. 

15 Urquhart St, Coburg VIC 3058

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Devil's Food Cake with Mint Frosting for Swee's Birthday

It was my friend Swee's birthday on Thursday, so I squeezed in making her a cake as a surprise when I met her for lunch.  I know Swee likes the choc mint flavour combination, so that is what I went with again this year.

Last year was the Andes Mint (aka Frankenstein's Head) cake.  I wanted this year's cake to be an aesthetic improvement as well as being choc mint.  This year, I made up my own choc mint combination.

First of all, I made the Devil's Food Cake from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook that came with me all the way from NYC two years ago (wow, has it been that long?): 

There was a slight issue in that I forgot to add the egg whites - oops.  However, I had made myself a separate little cupcake so I could taste the result, and apart from the cake being a teensy bit crumblier than usual, it tasted just fine.  (There is baking powder and baking soda in the recipe so density was not an issue.) 

I then mixed up a half batch of Crabapple Bakery's buttercream frosting, and flavoured it with around five drops of vanilla (three, as recommended in the boo, did not cut it) and coloured it green (this year using the dropper to avoid The Hulk look).  I then frosted the bottom layer, whizzed up a Peppermint Crisp bar in the food processor, and sprinkled it on top:

The second layer was added and the whole cake frosted.  To make it pretty, I piped some white icing (thanks to Dr Oetker) around the top and bottom borders with a star tip, and positioned green cachous strategically around the top border.  Finally, I cut another Peppermint Crisp into pieces and positioned them on top of the cake:

I think it looks pretty!

Not sure how the cake went down, but I think it should have been pretty good, having tasted the components.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EwE - Apple and Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops with Mustard Wine Sauce - Mother's Favourite

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is Mother's Favourite, chosen by Kayte.  It coincides with Mother's Day this Sunday.
My mother likes very plain food, and I strongly suspect that many of Ellie's recipes would not appeal to her.  I therefore took the liberty of choosing what I would like for my favourite instead.
The recipe that I selected is Apple and Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops with Mustard Wine Sauce from Comfort Food Fix.  As the title of the dish suggests, pork chops are stuffed with apple, spinach - and sauerkraut!  The hardest part was cutting the pocket in the chops, and on the last one, I managed to cut my finger.
This dish was very hearty and good to eat.  I would make it again.
To see what the others made for this week's theme, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

TWD - Plain and Simple Almond Cake

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I made Plain and Simple Almond Cake.  It is exactly what it says on the tin - a cake containing fat only from eggs, with almond meal and sugar making up the other components of the cake.

Despite its beautiful texture, I did find the cake a little too plain for my taste by itself, so I took up Dorie's suggestion and added jam in the middle of my slice, with some icecream on the side: 

This was a pleasant cake, which was very unassuming in flavour and can be dressed up, for example with berries and cream, to make a lovely dessert. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Queen's Birthday Cake for Sandra

My friend Sandra loves the British Royal family, and in particular, she has a soft spot for Queen Elizabeth II.  She found this recipe for the Queen's birthday cake last year, and asked me to make it.

As it was Sandra's birthday recently, I decided to make this cake for her.  It uses a lot of ingredients - 8 eggs and 450g of chocolate jump out.

This cake did not go that great for me, but Sandra was happy with it.

Here is the cake before being dressed:

It is a sponge cake with just a touch of cocoa.  The cake is then sandwiched with ganache and covered with more ganache - holy dooley:

The layers did not cut nicely for me - I tried for three, but only got two very wonky layers.
Here is a peek inside:

I would not make this cake again, if only because of the incredible amount of ingredients for an end result that was just OK (I am not a huge fan of sponge cake), and high stakes if the end result was not edible.

In any event, Sandra was happy with her cake, which is all that matters in the end.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pussy Cat Cupcakes for Ellie

I recently started tap dancing again for the first time in 15 years or so.  I was inspired, like half the universe, by La La Land - the dance sequence with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling looked like such fun.  And I still had the shoes!!!

My tap class is led by Miss Jane, who is ably assisted by Miss Ellie.  Miss Ellie let us know the week before that it was her birthday, so of course I was going to make her cake if I got the chance.

Luckily, I did get the chance, and I decided to make Ellie some pussy cat  cupcakes (because our dance studio is called Glamour Puss).

I used my favourite Primrose Bakery recipe for the cupcakes and the buttercream frosting:

I then topped the cupcakes with pink rolled fondant (already tinted thanks to Dr Oetker).  The eyes and the bow are cut freeform from rolled white fondant.  For the features, I used edible marker pens, inspired by designs that I found on Google images.

Ellie had also made herself a gorgeous cake but forgot to bring a knife to share it.   Cupcakes are made for sharing, so problem solved!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Echidna Cake - Animals in Autumn - Melbourne Cake Club

The Melbourne Cake Club met on Thursday evening a couple of weeks back, and our theme was Animal Cakes. 

I had by chance purchased a book called Aussie Cakes for a mere $7 prior to this theme being chosen, and as you would expect, it contains quite a lot of ideas on how to make Aussie animal cakes.  This book is more of a design and concept "how to" book; you wouldn't buy it for the recipes as it talks about packet cakes and ready made icing.  However, some of the cake designs are really clever and it is a fun book if you are into Australiana.

After being tempted by the Barbara the Bat cake (after my Bendigo trip), I went for the Emma the Echidna Cake.  The concept is quite simple:  make two chocolate cakes, one large and round for the back (I used a metal mixing bowl to give it a more 3D effect), and one small and rectangular for the snout:  

Carve your snout and glue it to the body with a little melted jam: 

Smother your cakes in chocolate buttercream and use chocolate bits, chocolate melts and a jelly snake to create the  eyes, nostrils and tongue:

Get 3 packets of Woolies choc finger biscuits and arrange them as the echidna's spines, et voila:

Linda Lomelino probably did not have an echidna cake in mind when she wrote her recipe for Chocolate and Espresso Cake in Lomelino's Cakes, but that is the recipe for the cake and icing that I used.  (Yes, as the folks on the Amazon forum point out, the recipe omits what to do with the melted butter in the method for the cake; if you are a baker at all, you can work it out.) Someone else has posted the recipe online here, fixing up the omission,  if you are interested in making this cake and don't have the book (which, by the way, is scrumptious, especially the espresso icing).   

That's me done.  Now onto the other animal cakes brought by the Club.

Here is Sue's gluten free hummingbird cake - a moist tropical delight with cream cheese frosting:

This is Karen's gorgeously decorated Noah's Ark Cake, which hides an orange cake with fig buttercream icing:

Dalya, our Club founder, made a gluten free chocolate hedgehog cake which was superbly moist (and can I add, I just loved those Flake spines):

Our fun evening was hosted by the good folks at Pause Bar in Balaclava, who were very gracious in accommodating us and our cakes.