Saturday, July 31, 2010

Australian Anzac Biscuits

For me, Anzac Biscuits are like a childhood favourite. The best version is when its crunchy on the outside but softer and moister on the inside. I hope you can all make these simple but homely biscuits if you haven't already tried these iconic Australian biscuits...







Ingredients

120g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp milk

Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare 2 baking trays. Place butter and syrup in a saucepan over low heat and stir occassionally until melted. Set aside. In a bowl, stir together oats, coconut and caster sugar; then sift flour over the top. Combine with a wooden spoon and create a well. Pour butter mixture into the well of the oat mixture and stir together. Add milk gradually; using more if mixture is still too dry. Roll mixture into balls (using around 1 and 1/2 tbsp of mixture per ball) and place about 5cm apart on the trays. Flatten the balls with a fork (flatten slightly if you like thick or more so if you like regular). Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown but still slightly soft. If you want your biscuits to be completely crisp and dry then cook for longer. The cookies will harden slightly whilst cooling.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pumpkin Scone Bread

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that scones are a delicious baked good enjoyed by all. And pumpkin scones are certainly no exception....




In keeping with my buttermilk rampage, these pumpkin scones incorporate buttermilk which is why they are so light and easy to eat. Whip them up for an afternoon tea or a nice breakfast and I can guarantee you won't regret it. (Ps. I'm aware that my scones don't look like store bought high scones, this is because I don't own scone cutters. But they still taste delicious!)

Ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour (plain or wholemeal)
1 tbs caster sugar
pinch of salt
60g butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup mashed pumpkin
2-3 tbs pumpkin seeds
+ optional buttermilk to brush with before placing in oven

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper. Sift flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Add the butter, using fingertips rub butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and add buttermilk, pumpkin and seeds. Use a flat-bladed knife to stir until a dough forms. Knead gently and turn out onto a floured surface. Gently roll out until 2cm thick and using a 6cm round cutter, cut the scones out. Repeat until you have 12 scones. Place them on tray. If you don't have a cutter, simply grap fistfuls of the dough and shape into a ball on the tray. You may wish to brush them with buttermilk before baking for 20 minutes - 30 minutes or until golden and hollow when tapped on top.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vanilla and White Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

I've recently discovered the joys of buttermilk. It makes everything so much lighter...yet moister too. These cupcakes combine the lightness of buttermilk with the richness of a white chocolate topping. Instead of creating a criss-cross pattern on top, you can simply dunk the whole top of the cupcake in the chocolate for an even chocolatier treat. Alternatively, these cupcakes can be iced and decorated as you desire.


Ingredients

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Method
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare around 16 patty cases in a tray. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a seperate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the egg and the vanilla paste or extract, until mixture is smooth. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in. Spoon batter into cupcake tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. While the cupcakes cool, melt some white chocolate. Once they are completly cooled, drizzle white chocolate on top of them or dip your cupcake to cover the whole top of cake.

Apple & Almond Bread Pudding [Low fat]

This pudding was adapted from a recipe from Low Fat Food for Life by the Women's Weekly Magazine. It is en effet a healthier twist on the classic 'bread and butter pudding' and results in a comforting dessert that is just too easy to prepare.

Ingredients
2 medium green apples, cored, quartered and peeled
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbs water
2 1/2 cups no-fat milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 slices thick slice raisin/fruit bread
3 eggs
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
20 whole almonds

Method
Cut the prepared apples into 3mm slices. Dissolve brown sugar in the water and place in a medium frying pan over low heat. Add the apples and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered, or until the apples are tender; stir occassionally. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and grease a 1.5L capacity ovenproof dish that is around 30cm long and 15cm wide. Combine the milk and vanilla paste in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stand, covered for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bread slices into quarters and arrange the bread and apple in alternate layers into the prepared dish; scatter some almonds throughout the layers and leave around 7-8 almonds to sprinkle the top with. Whisk eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg in a seperate bowl. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Pour egg mixture carefully over bread and apple. Sprinkle remaining almonds over the top layer. Place dish in a large baking dish; add enough boiling water to baking dish to come halfway up the side of the pudding dish. Bake, unconvered, in oven for around 1 hour or until set but not too dry. Serve plain or with your choice of sauce (icecream/custard/cream).
Serves 6 (per serving is 3.6g fat without almonds)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pumpkin, Chickpea and Spinach Satay

This is by far one of the best homemade curries I've tasted. On top of that, there are many benefits aside from the numerous vegetables used: it is a low fat version of a satay curry, it is vegan, its easy to make, and its impressively tasty!

Ingredients
generous drizzle of soy sauce
1 onion, chopped
4 medium size garlic cloves, crushed
3 tsp of grated fresh ginger
1.5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 2-3cm cubes
375mL can of light and creamy coconut flavored evaporated milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 large floret cauliflower
1 medium floret broccoli
1 pkt of firm tofu
bit less than 1/2 cup of fat reduced crunchy or smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
150g bag of baby spinach leaves
Optional: + 1/4 cup chopped coriander + 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

Method
Heat a generous drizzle of soy sauce in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, ginger (and optional chilli) and cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine. Add pumpkin cubes and stir to combine. Pour in coconut flavored milk and stock, bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until pumpkin is just cooked. Add the cauliflower and broccoli, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Then stir in the tofu and cover; continue to simmer for 3 minutes. Ensure the cauliflower and broccoli are tender (and the tofu is now less firm to touch) before adding the peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar and chickpeas; stir to combine and heat through. Stir in the bag of spinach (and optional coriander) until all combined. Serve the satay with brown rice and enjoy!
Serves a family of 4 with leftovers; or 6 individuals.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate Buttermilk Surprise Cupcakes

I surprised my friend Natalie with these delicious cupcakes as a thank you gift. Her favourite chocolate is "kinder surprise" chocolate and hence they are fittingly named "Chocolate Buttermilk Surprise Cupcakes." The buttermilk within this recipe makes the chocolate cupcakes light and moist and pairs well with the chocolate buttercream icing. So, who will you be surprising with these chocolately little cakes?

Ingredients for Batter
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup [low fat] buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Icing
260g icing sugar
110g butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
1/3 cup cocoa (more or less to taste)
+ kinder surprise chocolates, chopped up roughly

Method
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare enough patty cases for 24 cupcakes. In a bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then create a well. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla. Pour this into the well of the dry ingredients, and using a whisk, combine the ingredients until smooth and no flour streaks remain. Your batter will be fairly liquidy, but pour them into the patty cases. Bake them for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with a miniscule amount of crumbs. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire tray and leave to cool before icing. To make the icing, beat together the butter and vanilla. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar until smooth. Then gradually the sifted cocoa; adding more or less to suit your taste. Top the cupcakes with roughly chopped up bits of kinder surprise chocolate.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quick Italiana Inspired Salsa

If you're looking for a quick and light salsa to accompany your seafood or poultry, then this is it! I served it with grilled fish, and it was delicious. It has an Italian influence; and is perfect when you want to bring some culinary edge to a simple dish.

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 large tomatoes, sliced into cubes
1 large clove of garlic
1-2 tsp of italian tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
+ basil, to serve
Method
Bring your roughly chopped onion, along with a generous drizzle of oil, to high heat in a pan. Coat the onion in the oil, and add the garlic. Stir for 2 minutes, and then add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Add about 1-2 tsp of italian tomato paste, and then add enough sugar to reduce the acidity. Stir through well. You can also stir through some chopped basil, if you desire. Serve generously with grilled fish or chicken.
Makes enough for 2

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Custard and Almond Tart

When I made my first pastry tart and first batch of homemade custard, I knew that I would soon be experimenting with new tart combinations. I baked this for my French group and it was very well recieved. It's relatively quick and very straightforward. The best thing about it is it looks very impressive...and it tastes even better! The almond meal is optional in the pastry, if you don't want it then just omit it.

Ingredients for Pastry

1 cup plain flour
1/4 almond meal (optional)
90g chilled butter, cubed
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons chilled water (or more if needed)

Ingredients for Custard Filling
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 cups milk (skim or full fat milk)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
flaked almonds

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). Grease 1 tart tin. Make the pastry by sifting the flour into a bowl. With a wooden spoon mix the butter cubes through the flour until the butter is covered. Transfer to a food processor and slowly, and carefully, process the mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, this step can be done with fingers. Then, mix in the icing sugar and almond meal. Make a well in the centre and add the water. Take a spatula and use a cutting action until the mixture comes together. Add a drop more water if necessary, but ensure its chilled. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of cling film. Line the tin with the pastry, and trim away the excess around the edges. Refridgerate pastry lined tin for 20 minutes. After this, line the tins with baking paper and spread baking beads or uncooked rice evenly over the paper. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and beads/rice and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden. To make custard, put egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and gradually add to egg mixture, beating constantly. Strain back into the pan. Stir constantly over low heat until thickens. Remove from heat and add vanilla, stir through. Set aside to cool, with or without plastic cover on top. When custard is cool, spoon and smooth into pastry dish using an icing spatula and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Chill in fridge before serving.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Best Banana Bundt Bread

I literally ran to my computer to upload this recipe because it's so delicious; I just had to share it. As the title of this post promises, I have created the best [ever] banana bundt bread. Why, may you ask is it the best? Well, besides from being insanely delicious, easy to make, fluffy but crispy on the outside and full of banana goodness...it is also low fat and low cholesterol! So now everyone can enjoy a piece of this amazing banana bread. This can also be served with low fat cream cheese icing if your having guests over, and your concerned about presentation; if not it is great without icing and works well as a weekday sweet for lunch.

Ingredients
1 cup plain self-raising flour
1/2 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 large handful of walnuts, halved
4 really very overripe bananas, medium size
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs lightly beaten, and separated
3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method
Line and grease a bundt tin. Sift together the flours, bicarb soda and sugar. Add the walnuts and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Make a well in the center of these dry ingredients and set aside. In a seperate bowl, place the mashed bananas and oil together. Add the lightly beaten egg yolks to this banana mixture and mix together with a fork until just combined. Add these wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon, but stop before the ingredients are combined (ensure there is still flour visible). Stop mixing at this point and add the lightly beaten egg whites. Continue to fold the ingredients together until completely combined. Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp of vanilla essence) and stir until combined. Add 1/4 tsp of vanilla bean paste and gently and slightly fold through. Bake in oven on 150 degrees (fan-forced) for 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack before serving plain or with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
250g lite cream cheese
1/4 cup icing sugar (or to taste)
good squeeze of lemon juice

Method
Beat together all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Alter the sugar, or lemon ratio to suit your taste. Smooth onto cooled cake and enjoy.

Please note that certaines personnes [my family] have demolished almost of all this cake in less than 1 hour.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Honey Mustard Chicken on a bed of Sweet Potato & Thyme Mash with Steamed Greens

We always use this dinner recipe when entertaining a group of guests; and personally I also consider it "comfort food." The marinade is delicious - not too sweet or overpowering - and pairs perfectly with the potato and kumara mash. This recipe comes from The Australian Women's Weekly Good Food Fast cook book, so you also know that its healthy. I've doubled their recipe to serve 4, but there is always some left over the next day...and really who can complain?

Ingredients
1200g chicken tenderlions
2/3 cup honey
4 tbsp seeded mustard
2/3 cup white vinegar
4 tbsp soy sauce
6 medium potatoes
2 small kumara
4 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 cup skim milk
4 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Method
To make the marinade, pour half of the: honey, mustard, vinegar and soy sauce over the chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge for 3 hours, or over night. Preheat your oven to hot, around eg. 190 degrees (fan-forced). Roast undrained chicken, unconvered, in hot oven for around 30 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave combined potato, kumara and garlic until tender; drain. Mash in medium bowl with milk, stir in thyme. While you are doing this, steam asparagus and snow peas in the microwave; drain. Finally, heat remaining marinade in a small saucepan. Serve chicken with potato and kumara mash, and the steamed greens; drizzle whole dish with marinade.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Iced Chocolate & Almond Torte with Red Berries

This chocolate and almond torte is rich and sophisticated; so its perfect for a dinner party dessert. It features macerated red berries which contrasts beautifully against the dark chocolate cake. The icing is optional, but adds an extra edge to this lovely dessert...which tastes even better the next day.

Ingredients for Cake
200g dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
200g milk cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
300ml thickened cream (can be reduced fat)
125g unsalted butter, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs, seperated at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup self-raising flour
2 tbs cocoa powder

Ingredients for Macerated Red Berries
1 punnet of strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
2 generous scoops of cherries, washed but with stalks in tact
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice

Ingredients for Optional Icing
1 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
3-4 tbs cocoa powder, to taste
2 1/2 tbs butter
2 dashes of milk

Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees (fan-forced) and grease and line a round springform tin. To make the macerated berries, combine the fruits, sugar and juice in a large bowl. Cover and set aside for 1-2 hours to macerate and gently stir every 1/2 hour so all the fruits are covered. Meanwhile, place the chocolates, cream, butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring with a metal spoon, for 5 minutes or until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the cooled chocolate mixture. Stir until well combined. Stir in the almond meal. Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Use an electric beater to beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add a large spoonful of egg white to the chocolate mixture. Fold until well bombined. Fold in the remaining egg white and then pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface before baking in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is firm to touch. Set aside in the pan for 20 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the cake with cocoa powder, or alternatively ice with chocolate icing. Either way, serve with macerated berries and cream.

Method for Icing
Sift together icing sugar and cocoa powder; mix in the softened butter and milk and beat until smooth. Add extra milk or cocoa if necessary. Ice the cake and serve with macerated berries, and cream.

Tip
When melting chocolate it is best to use a metal spoon as the moisture in wooden spoons can make chocolate seize (harden).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day: French Custard Tart

These beautiful individual French tarts, based on a recipe by Jane Price, are perfect for a Bastille Day Treat. They are themed red, white and blue which are the colours of the French flag. The pastry is not too thick, sweet or heavy and is accompanied with an amazing and subtle vanilla custard. I can't describe how delicious they are; all I know is that there will be a lot more custard style tarts in my baking future! This recipe makes 8 individual tarts, for 1 large tart simply halve all the ingredients.

Ingredients for Pastry
250g plain flour
180g chilled butter, cubed
4 tablespoons icing sugar
4 tablespoons chilled water

Ingredients for Custard Filling
6 egg yolks
4 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons cornflour
2 cups milk (I used skim milk)
2 tsp vanilla essence
+ fruit for decoration (your choice, or theme it red and blue berry-fruit)
+ 2 spoonful apricot jam

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). Grease your individual tins or 1 tart tin. Make the pastry by sifting the flour into a bowl. With a wooden spoon mix the butter cubes through the flour until the butter is covered. Transfer to a food processor and slowly, and carefully, process the mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, this step can be done with fingers. Then, mix in the icing sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the water. Take a spatula and use a cutting action until the mixture comes together. Add a drop more water if necessary, but ensure its chilled. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of cling film. Line your tins with the pastry, reusing the cut away pastry until you have none left. Refridgerate your 8, pastry lined, tins for 20 minutes. After this, line the tins with baking paper and spread baking beads or uncooked rice evenly over the paper. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and beads/rice and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden.
To make the filling, put the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale. Heat the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, then remove from the heat and add gradually to the egg mixture; beating constantly. Strain back into the pan. Stir constantly over low heat for 4 minutes, or until the mixture boils and thickens. Do not over cook. Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla and stir through well. Immediately pour the custard filling into the cool pastry shell and top with your choice of fruit eg. strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. Melt the apricot jam over low heat, and gently brush a slightly cooled, thin, layer of jam over the fruit (only the fruit not the custard). Allow to set by cooling in the fridge before serving.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chocolate Cheat Croissants [À grace de Nigella]

These quick chocolate croissants featured on an episode of Nigella Lawson's Cooking show. Nigella's method of rolling was a little different, I personally preferred the technique used by beautiful blog baker "Paris Pastry," which you can see here. I whipped them up tonight to surprise my French class as it is Bastille Day tomorrow! We are going to have french music, conversation, food and recipe handouts. If you want to surprise your family with something special for your own Bastille Day celebration I would highly recommend these little golden croissants. If you aren't celebrating Bastille Day, these would also be delicious hot out of the oven and served at a sunny brunch between friends...

Ingredients
1 packet of pre-made puff pastry
1 block of chocolate (I used a mixture of milk and white chocolate)
1 egg yolk, beaten
1-2 tbsp caster sugar

Method
Defrost your puff pustry sheets and cut one square sheet into 4 relatively long-large oblique triangles. Place the triangle with the tip of facing away from you and the widest part closest to you. On this wide part, place cut up bits of your choice of chocolate along, relatively evenly. Roll this chocolate loaded end towards the point of the triangle. You should now have a roll with the thinnest bit of the triangle on top. Continue to do this with as many triangles as you like, until you have enough croissants. Place these on a greased baking tray. Then, place the beaten egg yolk in a bowl and mix in with 1-2 tbsp of caster sugar. Brush the croissants with this egg-sugar mixture. Place in an oven for around 15-20 minutes on 200 degrees (fan-forced). Ensure that they don't burn towards the end, but also be sure to check that the pastry is fully cooked on the inside.

Monday, July 12, 2010

White Chocolate Cheesecake

I made this decadent cheesecake for my friend Natalie. There's not much more to say; other than it was sweet, rich and perfect. 




Ingredients
140g plain digestive biscuits, finely ground
55g butter, melted
handful of milk or dark chocolate chips
170g of white chocolate
400g cream cheese, at room temperature
140g caster sugar
175mL crème fraîche, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, seperated, at room temperature.

Method
Grease a 20cm round springform cake tin. Finely grind the digestive biscuits into crumbs in a food processor. Make a well in the crumbs and pour in the butter. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon so that all the crumbs are coated in the butter. Spread the buttered crumbs over the bottom of the prepared tin, pressing down to make an even base. Sprinkle this base with chocolate chips and press them gently into the crumbs. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, for the freezer for around 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan-forced. Break the white chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Let the chocolate melt slowly, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for around 10 minutes. Beat the cream cheese until soft, then beat in the sugar followed by the crème fraîche and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then fold in the cooled white chocolate. Whisk the egg whites in a seperate bowl until they form soft peaks, then add the chocolate mixture and fold in. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and smooth the surface. Bake for about 50 minutes until firm (but still with a wobble in the middle). Remove the tin from the oven and leave to cool, then chill for at least 4 hours. To serve, carefully turn the cheesecake out. Option is to dust lightly with unsweetened cocoa powder, or just savour it plain!

Note
I believe the secret to getting a good cheesecake is using the cream cheese, eggs and crème fraîche at room temperature. Also, don't overmix - just mix until things are creamy and lumps are gone - this will help to avoid your cheesecake from splitting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Financier au Chocolat (Chocolate Friands)

Lately I've been watching a lot of Nigella Express and other crave-worthy cooking shows. After watching any good cooking show, or reading a cook book or blog, I always come away with a new "to bake" recipe list. I watched Nigella explain how to make "chocolate cheat croissants" and was super excited at how easy they appeared to make. However, I realized I didn't have any puff pastry, and seeing it was late at night I was definitely not going to make my own pastry from scratch.

So, I continued looking through my cooking cupboard and noticed my friand tin. Inspiration came to me, and off I was scrambling around in the kitchen! As I whipped together the eggs and sugar, threw in some vanilla and stirred in a generous amount of almond meal and cocoa, I knew I was onto something yummy. The result was a chocolatey friand, with a soft interior and a chewy crusty outside - almost like a fluffy cake cross brownie. This, my friends, was a true experience of cooking creativity - I would describe it as incroyable. What can I say? Watching endless re-runs of Nigella Express and Masterchef certainly pays off.

Ingredients
6 eggs
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
110g almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
2 tbsp butter, melted (this is optional)
(+ optinal 12 chocolate melts, or other thin chocolate blocks)

Method
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees fan-forced. Grease a friand tin extremely well. If not, your friands will stick very very easily. Beat eggs until they are well beaten and somewhat bubbly, perhaps 40 seconds. Beat in half of the sugar until combined and then the rest of the sugar. Add the vanilla essence and quickly beat again until combined. Place the almond meal and and sifted cocoa over the top of the sugar mixture. On low, combine these ingredients until smooth. Then pour the butter around the edge of the batter and quickly but gently mix in with a wooden spoon. Pour this batter 3/4 of the way into the friand tin. Pop your friands into the oven. Meanwhile lightly toss your chocolate melts in flour and tap off the excess flour. At around the 15 minute mark, when the batter is stiff enough to support the chocolate melt, insert the melt mid way. Continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes. Ensure they're done with a skewer, or the friands should be slightly shrunken away from the edge of the tin. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in friand tin, before turning out. Enjoy plain, or sprinkle with icing sugar, or it also goes deliciously with icecream.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Flan à la Française (French flan)

This french flan is the easiest recipe which results in a smooth and subtle dessert. It has no crust, however the small amount of flour in the recipe falls to the bottom to create a thin base-like texture.


Ingredients

2 cups of milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg

Method
In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Pour into greased 9 inch deep dish and sprinkle cinnamon and/or nutmeg on top. Bake at 180 degrees (fanforced) for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on rack for 1 hour and refridgerate before serving.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beneficial Breakfast Bars

I am a huge fan of museli bars. Whereas some people reach for a comforting bar of chocolate, I am only too happy to settle down with a good museli bar. Today, looking for a more "healthy baking" recipe (if such a thing exists), I made some extremely delicious oat-museli bars. I was inspired by a fellow blogger's recipe for Oat Crunch Cookies but added my own nutritious and delicious ingredients to end up with my "Beneficial Breakfast Bars." I made several alternative bars using the one recipe base, and the benefits of the ingredients are listed accordingly.

Ingredients for Bar Base
150g plain flour (or 150g of wholemeal plain flour)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g rolled oats
120g butter or margarine
90g light brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
(+ ingredients of your choice to make the bars eg. dried fruit, nuts, seeds, spices)

Method
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a small slice tray. Sift the flour and bicarbonate soda into a bowl, and then stir in the oats. Make a well in the center. Then, place the butter, sugar, syrup and water in a saucepan and stir until combined and a smooth mixture. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. You now have your museli bar base. Add desired dried fruit, nuts, spices, seeds or bran to make your own museli bar. I did a few of the following: (Once you've chosen and mixed through your ingredients, bake them for around 20 minutes)

1. Pineapple, Coconut and Cashew
Benefits - Cashews contribute to good cardivascular health and they have no cholesterol. They have a high amount of dietary fiber which is beneficial for weight management. Meanwhile, pineapple aids in digestion, whilst coconut is rich in protein, fiber and even increases the metabolic rate.
2. Cinnamon and Sultana
Benefits - Cinnamon has positive effects on lowering cholesterol, boosts cognitive memory and general brain fuction, and is a great source of fiber and calcium. Sultanas help with healthy teeth and gums, and for women in particular they are important as in conjuction with estrogen they help to maintain strong bones.
3. Cranberry, Puffed Spelt and Pumpkin Seed.
Benefits - Cranberries help with urinary difficulties and they also contribute to a healthy heart, along with puffed spelt. Pumpkin seeds protect against prostate cancer and are a natural cure for depression. They are high in calcium and magnesium.

4. Almond and Apricot


Benefits - Almonds lower cholesterol and are high in fiber, protein and calcium. Dried apricots help to relieve constipation, fight fevers and are low in calories.
All of these can be converted from a slice shape to a cookie shape, if desired. The pineapple, coconut and cashew combination was my favourite...how about you?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Donut Cake

As I have misplaced my Kugelhopf tin, I decided to put a twist on the traditional bundt cake recipe. This cake looks similar to a giant donut, and it is perfect for when you have a sweet tooth or "quand on a un faible pour les sucreries.."

Ingredients for Cake
220g butter
150g brown sugar
50 g caster sugar
4 eggs
190g self-raising flour
2 tbsp milk

Ingredients for Glaze
1/4 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk, or dash more
your choice of extract (eg. vanilla, almond, orange)

Method
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan-foreced) and grease and line a bundt tin. Beat together the butter and sugars until light and creamy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in. Stir in the milk, then pour the batter into prepared tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes and leave for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. To make the glaze, melt the butter. Then put the sifted icing sugar into a medium size bowl. Pour in the melted butter and add the milk, followed by your choice of extract (I chose vanilla). Beat until smooth and creamy, adding dash of milk if necessary. Quickly pour over cooled cake and immediately add sprinkles or decorations before glazing sets. It may be easier to put your cake on a rack over your sink and then pour the icing. This will make your job easier to clean up. Serve, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Greek-Style Roast Chicken

Last week I surprised my family with a 3 course Greek themed meal. It was delicious; so much so that I didn't have time to take proper photos of all the dishes. However, this was the main course - a whole roast chicken with lemon and pistachio rice stuffing, served alongside lemon and thyme potatoes. I've never stuffed a chicken before, but it was very simple and worth the extra bit of time.

Ingredients
1.5kg chicken
4 large potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme [I used lemon thyme]
freshly ground black pepper

Stuffing
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup pistachios, shelled
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

Method
Make the seasoning first by heating oil in a saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft. Stir in the rice until coated with oil. Stir in stock, simmer, covered for around 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in nuts, thyme and lemon rind and let cool. Then, place the stuffing inside the chicken. Tie the chicken's legs together and tuck its wings under body. Place chicken, breast side up, in a large baking dish, bake in moderate oven for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into 1cm slices. After chicken has baked for 40 minutes, place these potatoes around the chicken in the dish. Drizzle chicken and potatoes with oil;and then sprinkle them with thyme and pepper. Bake in moderate oven for a further 1 hour or until chicken is tender and cooked. (Note: cut the breast of the chicken to ensure its fully cooked) Remove chicken from dish; keep warm. Now, bake the potatoes in a very hot oven for a further 15 minutes or until potatoes are browned and crisp. Serve chicken with potatoes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kitty Cupcakes

Yesterday I went to a cat themed birthday party and made "kitty cupcakes" for everyone to share. I used the "feather light patty cake" recipe which I have posted earlier. The decorations include marshmallows for the eyes and mouth, licorice for the whiskers and white chocolate for the ears. I also iced the cake and sprinkled coconut on top to give the appearance of fur.

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