Sunday, January 30, 2011

Valentine's Day Cupcakes

I originally planned to make Pink Butterfly Cupcakes today, however, when I assmebled the first test cupcake I didn't really like the appearance.  So as I stood in my kitchen, piping bag in hand and my pj's still on, I thought of other ways to decorate cupcakes involving a cut out shape.  Finally it clicked...love hearts! And what perfect timing seeing as Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  You simply need to bake your favourite cupcake, cut out a heart shape and fill in the hole. 

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare enough muffin trays and liners for 15 cupcakes.  Lightly beat the eggs together in a bowl, then add to the butter and sugar.  Beat together, with electric mixers, the butter, sugar and eggs until combined and creamy.  Sift the flour and pour the milk and vanilla over the top of this mixture; beat until smooth and combined.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Ingredients for Buttercream
1/2 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Beat together all ingredients until smooth and combined.  Cut love heart shape into the top of the cooled cupcakes.  Lift out this shape so that there is now a love-heart shaped hole in the cupcake.  Put icing into a 1cm star shaped nozzle and pipe a love heart shape into the hole in the cupcake.  Serve!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lovely and Light Biscuit Fingers

These biscuit fingers have been on my 'to make' list since before Christmas.  It feels great to finally have crossed them off.  I tweaked the original recipe to come up with my version, which is written below.  I'm very happy with how they turned out. I'll be making them again for sure! They are light and airy; unfortunately this does mean that they are far too easy to eat...

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp full fat milk
1/2 tsp natural yoghurt
1/2 cup cornflour
2/3 cup plain flour
60g dark (or white) chocolate melts
1/4 tsp vegetable oil

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and prepare two baking trays by lining and greasing them.  Using electric beaters, beat the sugar and butter together.  Add vanilla, zest, milk and yoghurt; beat to combine.  Sift flour and cornflour over this mixture and beat until well combined and mixture is smooth for piping.  Spoon mixture into piping bags with a fitted 1.5cm star nozzle.  Pipe 4cm (1 1/2 inch) lengths onto prepared trays.  Bake biscuits for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Leave to harden slightly, say 5 minutes, on trays before moving to a wire rack.  Meanwhile, place chocolate and oil in a small bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, place in a piping bag and pipe onto biscuit fingers.  Altneratively, use a fork or spoon to drizzle over biscuits.  Allow to set, then serve.  Biscuits should last for 3 days in an airtight container, keep in a cool and dark place. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Honey and Coconut Cake

This cake was a huge hit amongst my family.  As it was baking, I could smell the spices of this cake from downstairs!  And like any honey or cinnamon style cake, it was delicious to eat straight out of the oven.  Once it cooled, I topped it with Honey and Cream Cheese Frosting.  There's nothing better than a simple homemade cake on a Saturday morning.

Ingredients

125 butter, softened
2/3 cup raw sugar
2 large eggs, lightly  beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 honey
1/2 heaped cup desiccated coconut
1 3/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for Honey and Cream Cheese Icing
150g cream cheese, softened
2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 28cm x 18cm x 3cm slice slice tin.  Using electric beaters, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.  Gradually add the eggs and beat again.  Add vanilla and honey; beat well until all combined.  Now using a large spoon, stir through the coconut.  Sift the flour and spices over the batter mixture; mix slightly with a spoon.  Pour milk in and mix with spoon until batter is smooth and combined.  Pour into tin and smooth out.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Method for Icing

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese with electric beaters.  Add honey and sugar; beat until smooth and spreadable.  Spread evenly over cooled cake.  Store iced cake for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

I've shared this recipe at Sweet's for a Saturday which you can visit here to see many other fabulous entries.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nougat

Nougat is one of my Dad's favourite treats except I've shied away from making it because it seemed difficult.  You need a sugar thermometer, the perfect timing, the right amount of beating and not to mention nougat is rather sticky!  But, I don't apologize for sharing this recipe; however finicky it may be.  In the end, it's very much worth the effort.

Ingredients
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup liquid glucose
1/2 cup honey
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
100g almonds, unblanched, (and toasted, if desired)
120g glacé cherries

Method

Prepare a 18 x 28cm baking dish by lining it with baking paper (or simply use a throw-away foil tin).  Put the sugar, glucose, honey, water and salt in a saucepan.  Stir over low heat until sugar is pretty much dissolved.  Bring to the boil and cook for around 8 minutes or until mixture reaches 122 degrees (or 225F) on a sugar thermometer.  Correct temperature is important for the mixture to set properly. 
Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl with electric beaters until stiff peaks form.  Slowly pour 1/4 of the sugar mixture onto the egg whites in a thin stream and beat for up to 5 minutes, or until the mixture holds it shape.  Put the remaining syrup over the heat and cook for 2 minutes (watch that it doesn't burn) or until mixture reaches 157 degrees (315F) on a thermometer.  Pour slowly onto the meringue mixture with the beaters running and beat until the mixture is very thick. 
Add the vanilla and butter and beat for a further 5 minutes.  Stir in the almonds and cherries with a metal spoon.  Turn the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.  Refridgerate for at least 4 hours, or until firm.  TUrn onto chopping board and cut into pieces (using a hot knife may help).  Keep in fridgerator.  If you want softer nougat, leave your serving of nougat to sit at room temperature before eating.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Date, Nut and Banana Bread

I feel like I haven't posted in a while! I've been so busy.  I feel like I've finally got time to do the things I've wanted to do.  I've been gardening, riding bikes, socializing and reading.  I've also enrolled in my uni course!  In March I'll be studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics.  It's all very exciting.

Admist all this excitement and fun, I've had little time for baking.  This is a bit strange for me because, like many of you, I bake almost daily.   Luckily, I've now found the time to bake this delicious 'Date, Nut and Banana Bread' for Australia Day tomorrow.  It is seriously delicious - both dense yet light at the same time.  I think the dates gave it that dense buttery flavour whilst the egg whites lightened it. 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup white self raising flour
1/2 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites
30mL water
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
+ margarine or butter, to serve, if desired

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a 22 x 11 x 6cm loaf tin.  Place flours, cinnamon, sugar, oil, egg whites, water, bananas and milk in a bowl.  Using electric mixers, beat until smooth and combined.  Fold the nuts and dates through the mixture and pour into the prepared tin.  Bake for 1 hour of until skewer comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Coffee, Choc-chip and Walnut Muffins

Baking ultimately is a demonstration of our love for those around us.  These muffins are no exception.  You see, I rarely make treats with coffee in them.  Personally, I don't really like coffee cakes.  But today I decided to treat my loved ones with these coffee and choc-chip filled muffins.  And even I enjoyed them; particularly when they were warmed up.

 Ingredients
100g walnuts
2/3 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
125g unsalted butter, soft
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup natural yoghurt, or sour cream
2 tbsp offee granules
2 tbsp boiling water
125g baby choc-chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a 12 hole muffin tray.  In a food processor, process the walnuts and only 1/4 cup of the brown sugar.  Do so until walnuts are almost dusty; some little chopped bits may remain. Transfer to separate mixing bowl.  Cream the butter and remaining sugar together in the food processor.  With motor running, gradually add the egg and process until smooth.  Add yoghurt/sour cream, vanilla and process until combined; pour into bowl where processed nuts are.  In yet another separate bowl, combine the coffee granules and the boiling water.  Pour coffee into main batter bowl.  Stir through.  Now add the choc-chips and stir these through.  Distribute batter into 12 muffin cases.  Bake for 20 minutes or until springy when touched.

I even processed the nuts and sugar with extra love!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baked Rice Pudding

This is my Grandmother's recipe.  We called her "Marga" because my sister couldn't say Grandma.  I want to dedicate this post to her.  She was not only a beautiful and gentle woman, but a wonderful baker and lover of sweets.

This recipe has barely any sugar, so it's not going to harm all of your New Year 'healthy eating' resolutions.  I also know that many of you are currently experiencing a heavy snowfall.  So sit by your fire, curl up, and enjoy this traditional Baked Rice Pudding.  Serve with a good lashing of pouring custard.

Ingredients
1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice
3 eggs
2 generous tbsp sugar
700mL milk, skim or full cream
1 generous tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp butter
sprinkle of nutmeg

Method
Heat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and get out a square baking dish or flan dish.  Beat eggs in a large bowl and add in sugar; beat again to combine.  Pour in milk and vanilla extract; stir together.  Add in rice; stir.  Pour into dish and place small knobs of butter on top of the mixture.  Sprinkle with some nutmeg.  Place in oven for about 1 hour, or until golden and brown.  Serve hot or cold with custard.
Thank you for making my childhood sweet, Marga.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Muesli Muffins

The smell of these in the oven are incredible.  Everyone walking past stopped to ask what I was making.  They don't have much butter in them, and so I'm classifying them as low fat.  In fact, I made these as a healthier option for the baked good appeal for those in the floods.  You see, on the news they asked people to bring in treats that they could distribute to the families in the evacuation centre.  Hopefully the muffins, and their little message we attached, will bring a smile to someone's face.

Ingredients
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1/2 self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
75g rolled oats
3/4 cup milk
60g unsalted butter
80g sultanas
1/2 cup orange juice

Ingredients for Topping
1 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
35g toasted muesli
20g unsalted butter, melted

Method
Preheat the oven to 210 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a muffin tray (either 15 small cases or 12 large).  Sift the flours and baking powder into a bowl.  Add brown sugar and muesli; stir through.  Add milk, melted butter, orange juice and sultanas.  Mix with a fork quickly until all ingredients are combined.  Spoon mixture into muffin cases.  Top with the topping.  To make topping, place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.  Sprinkle topping on top of muffin batter.  Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. (Can be frozen for 3 months.  If so, reheat in a 180 degree oven for 10 minutes). 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

This morning, I went to heaven.
First, I was met by a creamy cloud of Chocolate Buttercream. And then, fell into a soft bed of chocolate cake.And then there was a surprise...Do you know what I'm talking about?  Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes. That's right, under that bed of chocolate cake lies a sweet and salty layer of golden caramel.

 Now I'm back to reality, I can explain my heavenly experience to you. I was actually inspired to make these by Chele's recent post of Cherry Ripe Mud-muffins.  Her's looked so good, so I thought I'd do my own version but with Caramello Koalas.  (Caramello Koalas are an Australian chocolate, so if you don't have them you could just use any other candy bar with chocolate and caramel). Either way, these are serious bliss and I urge you to try them yourself!

Ingredients
100g butter, soft
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup best quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 cup milk
1 pack of 12 Caramello koalas, frozen

Method
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and line 24 cupcake/muffin tray.  Cream soft butter, the sugar and vanilla until fluffy and combined.  Gradually add the eggs until just combined.  Now sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb soda over this sugary mixture.  Pour the milk in as well; stir well to combine.  Evenly distribute the batter out between the 24 cupcake cases.  Remove caramello koalas from freezer and cut every caramello koala in half midways.  Now place one piece of the havled caramello koalas into each cupcake case.  Using a teaspoon, push the halved caramello koala to the base of the cupcake case.  Now smooth over the batter (which would have been pushed up due to the caramello koala being pushed down).  Bake in over for 15- 20 minutes.  Allow to cool before icing.

Ingredients for Chocolate Buttercream
170g butter, soft
2/3 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp milk - 2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp cocoa powder

Method
Beat all ingredients (except the milk at this stage) together until combined and fluffy.  Gradually add the milk to the mixture and beat together until combined.  Place in piping bag with 8mm star tip, pipe on to cupcakes.

African Style Chicken with Vegetable Couscous

This is the easiest meal to make; but it is packed with incredible flavour.  Essentially all you need to do is marinade the chicken, then pop it in the oven, and you are on your way to a flavourful and nourishing meal.  My mother always said that anything with apricot jam in it is delicious.  She's right; you can taste a hint of sweet behind the warm mustard and spices.  Recipe for African Chicken adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen p.47

Ingredients for Chicken

4 chicken legs
750g of chicken breasts, cut into pieces
240mL worcestershire sauce
180mL tomato sauce (ketchup)
6 tsp mustard powder
3 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp apricot jam
2 brown onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic

Method
Mix the worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard powder, ginger, apricot jam and onion in a casserole bowl.  Add chicken pieces and legs to this marinade; allow to marinade for around 3-4 hours, or overnight.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees (fan-forced).  Get out a baking dish (the shallower the better, but ensure its deep enough for marinade/chicken not to spill) and drizzle with oil.  Mince the cloves of garlic and lay out evenly in the baking dish.  Pour marinaded chicken (along with marinade) into the baking dish and cook for 1 hour, or until chicken meat is white when sliced open.  During the cooking time, turn over once or twice; while doing so scoop up extra marinade in the pan and pour over chicken pieces.  This will ensure chicken remains succulent and tender.

Ingredients for Couscous
1 red onion
4 small zucchinis, halved lengthways
3 large carrots, halved lengthways
300g pumpkin, chopped into pieces (not cubed at this stage)
1 red capsicum, cut into 5cm wide strips
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

Method
Place prepared vegetables in a baking tray along with some olive oil.  Bake in oven on 220 degrees (fan-forced) for 20 - 25 minutes.  Once cooked, chop into diagonal pieces.  Store in a casserole dish to keep hot whilst making couscous, or while waiting for chicken to cook.  Make 2 cups of dry couscous (read directions on packet) or simply boil 2 cups of water in saucepan along with some oil and salt.  Remove water from heat and add in 2 cups of couscous and leave, covered, for 2-3 minutes.  Return to  low heat with 3 tsp butter, and using a fork, separate the grains. Toss vegetable pieces through couscous; add thyme.  Serve with African Chicken.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Domestic Goddess Muesli Bars

If you can fill your fridge with home-made basics like bread, muesli bars or biscuits, than I believe you are well on the path to becoming a Domestic Goddess.  This recipe comes from the Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. And I absolutely love them! In the coming week I will definitely be needing to make simple goods, such as these, because my city is becoming inundated with water.  Fortunately my home, and family, will remain safe.  However, our main streets are being flooded and certain suburbs are being evacuated.  All my thoughts go out to those Australians affected by the floods.

Ingredients
250g rolled oats
395g sweetened condensed milk
425g mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruit or coconut

Method
Heat the condensed milk in the saucepan.  Combine the rolled oats, nuts and so on in a bowl.  Pour warm condensed milk over the dry mixture; stir to combine.  Pour into a rectangle pan and bake for one hour on 130 degrees (fan-forced).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Marble Pound Cake

To my delight, my Dad has recently become really interested in the TV show Cake Boss.  This is seriously fun for me, because usually my Dad is only interested in action movies or war commentaries (Dad is in the Defence Force).  But Cake Boss seems to entertain him.  He laughs at the bakers' fights and is in awe at their crazy creations.  Yesterday he kept repeating "fondant," "modelling chocolate" and "marble pound cake." Funnily enough, he had no idea what these words meant!  Eventually he came to me for clarification.  After I explained what a marble cake was, he decided he wanted to taste it himself.  So, here it is! Dad's Marble Pound Cake.  Mum and Dad devoured half of it in less than half and hour.  Now I'm just waiting for him to ask me what fondant tastes like! Then we can go on a hunt to buy some!  (None of us have tasted it because it is so hard to find/buy where I live). 

Ingredients
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract, plus 1/2 tsp extra
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
50mL full fat milk
50g cocoa powder

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced).  Prepare a round 20cm cake tin.  Cream the butter until soft; add in the 1/2 tsp vanilla extract extra and mix. Add sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Whisk the eggs and the vanilla extract together in a small bowl.  Gradually add the eggs to the butter mixture, beating all the time.  Sift the flour and baking powder over the top of this buttery mixture; fold gently through.  Add milk and mix gently again until batter is smooth and combined.  Tip half of cake batter into a separate bowl, and in this separate bowl sift the cocoa powder in.  Stir to combine until smooth.  Now in the prepared tin, alternatively blop the vanilla and chocolate mixture.  Smooth the top of the cake out slightly.  Be wary not to over mix otherwise cake will not have a clear marble look.  Bake in oven for 45 - 50 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.  Turn cake out on to wire rack after 5 minutes of cooling in tin.  Top with desired icing, such as Buttercream (as pictured).

Quick Fried Rice

Yesterday my sister and I couldn't decided what to have for lunch, and there weren't really many ingredients in our fridge.  On impulse (and using what I could find) I threw together this yummy fried rice.  You can substitute the ingredients for what you have, but just ensure there is a balance of colours as this is important in Asian cooking. 

Ingredients
2 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 small onion, chopped rougly
1/2 clove garlic
sesame oil
3  thick slices of ham, cubed
1/4 cup broccoli, chopped very finely
1/2 small zucchini, chopped finely
1/2 cup corn kernels, drained
1 egg
1 tbsp soy sauce

Method
In a saucepan, heat sesame oil on medium heat.  Cook onion until soft; then add garlic.  Add broccoli and zucchini; cook until almost soft.  Add ham; stir through.  Add rice and soy sauce; stir through.  Add corn kornels; stir through.  Make a well in the rice, quickly crack egg into this whole.  You must act quickly now, and stir the egg evenly through the rice so that everything has a good coating.  Turn heat off once you are sure all of the egg yolk is cooked through.  Rice will still have a slightly slicked/sauce like texture.  Don't expect it to be dry.  Serve

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Churros

Churros are delightful little doughnut sticks, orginiating from Mexico.  They are covered in cinnamon and sugar and can be eaten plain, dipped in chocolate, or a syrup.  Either way, they are so delicious and a real treat.   I made them for breakfast at a recent girls' night sleepover.  I bet you can imagine our giggles and gasps over how yummy they were...

I'm also now entering this as part of the "Forever Nigella" blogging challenge.  Go to page 138 of Nigella's Kitchen for the full recipe for Churros with Dipping Sauce.  Yes, she even has a fantastic recipe for chocolate ganache style sauce.  We didn't make the Dipping sauce as we were short for time, and knew they would be just as fabulous with plain melted chocolate.

Ingredients

50g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp olive oil
250mL freshly boiled water
+ around 500mL of vegetable oil, for deep-frying
+ melted chocolate or maple syrup, for dipping sauces

Method

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish; set aside.  To make the churros, put the flour and baking powder in a bowl; stir to combine.  Then beat in the olive oil and water with a whisk.  Keep whisking until you have a warm, sticky dough, and leave to rest for around 10 minutes or as long as it takes for the oil to heat.  Heat oil in a smallish saucepan (as it's less trobulesome and easier to manage).  Oil needs to heat to 170 degrees.  Take care with the hot oil.  When oil is ready, scoop mixture into a piping bag with a large star shaped nozzle (8mm-10mm).  Squeeze out the mixture, into the hot oil, and snip off the end of the dough with scissors to disconnect from the piping bag. Squeeze the churros out to your own desired length (but roughly 5-7cm long).  Cook about 3-4 at a time, and once they a deep golden-brown, remove them from the saucepan using tongs.  Place them on a plate lined with baking paper and let sit for 5 minutes before rolling them in the cinnamon and sugar.  Continue to make churros, in lots, until no mixture remains.  Serve, dip, and enjoy!  Make roughly 16- 18 depending on size.  Recipe by Nigella Lawson. 
Dip away..
                                      

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate and Banana Muffins

When I read about these, I was dubious about the flavour combination.  Banana and chocolate...would that work?  Let me tell you, Nigella made it work.  All of her recipes are perfect; so why did I even doubt? These little muffins turned out moist and tender. Nigella writes, "these beauties kept their moist, eat-me texture long after those less favoured [muffins] have staled and lost their allure."

Ingredients

3 overripe bananas
125mL vegetable oil
2 eggs
100g soft light brown sugar
225g plain flour
4 tbsp best quality cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarb soda

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 (fan-forced) and line a 12 muffin hole tray.  Mash bananas; set aside.  I used a balloon whisk to add in the oil, followed by the eggs and sugar.  Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and bicarb together and add this mixture to the banana mixture; combine.  Spoon batter into muffin tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Cool in tray for 5 minutes, before moving to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Couscous

I was watching Nigella Lawson's Kitchen on TV today and she claimed she was a "frequent flyer," in the sense that her kitchen cupboard held all the ingredients necessary to travel to exotic places.  Inspired by this, I turned to my "Food of the Mediterranean" cookbook.  Words like "rich blend of Arabic" and "exotic background" gently coerced me to choose this Moroccan Chicken Stew with Couscous.  I absolutely adored it, as did my family; and I know that you would too.  As a result of slow cooking, the chicken is tender and succulent which is complimented by an awakening of spices.  This is definitely worth a 10/10.

Ingredients
1.5kg whole chicken (suitable for stewing)
olive oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 ripe red tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup couscous, uncooked
3 small zucchinis, sliced and quartered, steamed in microwave
400g pumpkin, cut into cubes, cooked in microwave (or oven)

Method
Rinse chicken under cold running water and drain.  Joint the chicken into 8 pieces, first removing both legs and cutting through the joint of the drumstick and the thigh.  Cut down each side of the backbone and lift it out.  Turn chicken over and cut through the breastbone.  Cut each breast in half, leaving the wing attached to the top half.  Remove the skin and discard it. 
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot, add the chicken pieces and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium, add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until onion has softened.  Stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper.  Add 4 cups of water.  Bring to boil.
Halve tomatoes crossways and squeeze out the seeds.  Coarsely grate tomatoes over a board/plate, down to the skin, and discard the skin.  Add grated tomato into the saucepan, along with the tomato paste, sugar, cinnamon stick and 1 tsp salt and some black pepper.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the chicken is very tender.
Remove chicken to a dish/board.  Using 2 forks, shred the chicken off the bones.  Discard the bones and any extra bits of unwanted fat.  Return shredded chicken to saucepan along with 2 cups of water and return to the boil.  White it is boiling, gradually pour in the couscous, stirring constantly.  Stir through steamed zucchinis and pumpkin cubes before serving. 
Be transported to Morocco! Serves 4.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Museli Mix Up Slice

My Dad returns to work after New Years holidays today.  So, I made him some museli bars for his work lunch.  But really they are nicer than museli bars which is why I named them a "museli mix up slice." In my mind, slice is usually moister; with an iresistable soft-but-chewy texture.  Feel free to change the dried fruit, seed or nuts to your own taste.

Ingredients
50g margarine (or butter)
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup honey
generous 1/2 cup of rolled oats
1/3 cup crushed up Special K cereal
1/2 cup self-raising flour
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
50g sultanas
40g dates, chopped roughly
1/3 cup almonds, chopped roughly
1 tbsp full cream milk powder
1 tbsp water

Method
In a saucepan, on medium heat, melt together the margarine, sugar and honey.  Meanwhile, combine the other ingredients in a bowl, except for the 1 tbsp of water.  Once the sugar in the saucepan has dissolved, pour it over the dry ingredients.  Stir together until mixture comes together; add water in.  Pour into a lined and greased square tin and bake for 25 minutes on 170 degrees (fan-forced).  Remove from oven when golden brown; texture will firm up upon cooling.  Leave in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  Cut into 6 medium size museli bars.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nutty Banana Bread

I know I should start the New Year off with something creative and breathtaking, but in reality, simple and classic sweets are what we eat more frequently than pastry chef style desserts.  Banana bread is definitely one of those simple but fantastic things to have stored away in the kitchen. This recipe was based on an official Starbucks recipe as I do think that Starbucks' is the best I've ever had.  Let me know if you have a good recipe; because it's our favourite cake at home.

Ingredients
1 cup plain flour
1 cup Italian 00 flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup caster sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 heaped tbsp thick greek or natural yoghurt (ie. not overly sweetened)
1 tsp vanilla bean or extract
3 ripe medium-large bananas, mashed
1/3 cup crushed walnuts or almonds + 1/4 cup crushed walnuts or almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced).  Line a loaf tin.  Sift toghether the flours, salt and soda; set aside.  Mix the egg, sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil together in a jug using a whisk until combined; when whisking try to lift so that some air is incorporated for lightness. Pour into flour mixture and stir.  When just combined, add in yoghurt and mashed bananas; stir to combine.  Fold through desired 1/3 cup of nuts, then pour into loaf tin.  Now sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of nuts on top of loaf mixture.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.  Leave in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from tin.  Serve!

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