Sunday, 16 December 2012

Chocolate Christmas!

Sunday morning...pancakes have been made, devoured and are digesting...slowly. Coffee is hot, the dog is lying in the sunshine, the cat curled up in her corner of the world and the son & heir....well, he's doing what many 11 year old boys do - play cricket on the PlayStation until his little mate arrives to play the real thing. Brushing up his skills he tells me! 

I'm just out of my jammies and into trackies - yes, its all about class here on slow Sundays! Haven't checked the mirror yet for bed hair, sleepy eyes and dream chaos; best not to and just get cooking. It's time for (more) hot chocolate fudge sauce. Same recipe as yesterday, but a little more carefully as I convert to metric, exactly as my scales tell me. This time I also stir the cream, golden syrup (oh my that stuff is heaven!), sugar and cocoa BEFORE I heat the hell out of it and add the chocolate. When I tried this last week, it went a bit grainy because I hadn't combined the ingredients properly. 'From little things BIG things grow' or rather, big mistakes happen (to take a really beautiful song line from Paul Kelly and turn it into a foodie mantra!).

I'm cleaning the old labels from the jars. I've decided soapy water and patience is the best trick, although I've read everything from vinegar to oil to peanut butter works! I'm not wasting good (and expensive peanut butter, especially when I've only got organic macadamia nut paste in the pantry). 

I decide I don't like my labels and spend the next few hours cutting, drawing, and gluing new ones together. I'm happy with plain old brown paper, white tags and string. Simple.

I now have 12 jars of delicious decadence - fudge sauce, salted caramel and lemon curd (thought I'd whip up another batch with the duck eggs I get from a lady at work). They look great, taste unbelievable and now I need a little lie down with a packet of chips, I'm sugared out!



This recipe is adapted from various sources, and I added a bit of this and that to make it my own. Print if you dare! Print Recipe

Friday, 14 December 2012

A tempest in the kitchen!

For years I've been meaning to make Christmas food gifts, but always seem to run out of time, get distracted with having holiday fun and end up buying some mass made, corporation ruled gift. This year I have my 'buy local, eat local' hat well and truly on. It's time to get those old jars off the top shelf of the (very crowded) pantry, get my funky new apron on and cook up some delights. 
I've decided on salted caramel sauce, hot chocolate fudge sauce and lemon curd. I have my labels ready to go, it's raining outside so there's not much gardening to be done. I just went for a wander around the green lush backyard - that until yesterday was looking decidedly dry - and propped up the corianders, now going to seed, standing tall but on a lean. I wrapped them in string and just watch them flower, seed and then move on to the next phase. Sometimes I collect the seeds but generally I am lazy and just let them do their thing where they are. Organic gardening at it's best. Coriander seem to like growing in the same spot. As my mum says - "I am the coriander Queen" - she can't grow it at all. 
Anyway, I digress. Salted caramel sauce is on the agenda. I follow a simple recipe from Recipe Girl, converting tablespoons of butter to grams. It seemed too little butter but I went with it anyway. Caramel has always scared me, its tricky and a bit tempestuous - it looks like a tempest when it's bubbling and gurgling away. I measure everything out before I start (I'm learning, slowly) and I watch it like a hawk. The mixture bubbles peacefully, I add the cream and all hell breaks loose. It spits at me like a hissing feline. Then it starts to solidify, as in lumpy, gooey and not smooth caramelly at all! I add the butter and vanilla, then the salt and whisky away. The lumps stay but the rest of it goes nice and smooth. I take out those little sticky mounds of badness and am left with a delicious caramel sauce. Phew! This is quite stressful.
I'm wondering if there's another version I can try, just because I want to get this right. I go to old mate, Google and find Nigella's recipe. I love her cooking style, it's usually uncomplicated and this one has golden syrup which I love!It's very easy - the measurements are metric which I like as I can use my favourite digital kitchen scales. No satan's uprising here, all is calm on the caramel front and I have another lovely jar of sauce, ready for labelling and wrapping. They both taste fabulous - the 2nd recipe is richer because of the golden syrup and easier - for someone like me who is still scared of hot gurgling sauces that just do their own thing. Conquered part of my fear at least. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A quiet morning in the kitchen

Sometimes I make decisions quickly, mostly I make them slowly. When it comes to baking, I'm slow. I like to take my time, pour over recipe books, my favourite magazines and sometimes I consult the internet; although I’ve learnt that there is a LOT of dodgy recipes out there! So, with a discerning eye (some may call lazy) I find at least 3 recipes I like parts of. I’ve always thought that with baking you have to be precise, it’s such a science. Mostly, this is true – to make a mousse set, fillings not ooze out of their encasings and the right ratio of butter to sugar for that perfect cupcake. However, I have learnt that I can adapt – yes, a huge revelation for me – as long as I keep my measurements about right, I can add flavours and subtle changes to my baked goods.
Spreading out my Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Old Fashioned Favourites’, my collection of photocopied recipes from various sources - friends, old magazines (in the waiting rooms of medical clinics...shhh you have to be quiet when ripping out pages while people are sitting in close proximity) and the internet, which I usually document the origin but with this particular Chocolate Mousse layered cheesecake I did not. The layer I used was adapted from Dorie Greenspans Baking: From My Home to Yours. The 3rd recipe I really liked was from Doughmesstic’s Toasted Raspberry Coconut Cheesecake - for the addition of a raspberry coulis layer. Making life complicated for myself? Hmm.... I've always taken the long road, the scenic route – often coming back to the start but somewhat wiser...I think!

I contemplated getting out of my jammies, but I was comfortable and it’s my kitchen, so what’s the point of getting dressed? Only at the moment where I realised (in mild panic) that my spring-form cake tin was NOT going to fit in any of my roasting dishes. And, yes, I’d already done the base and filled it with the creamy lusciousness of the cheesecake filling. There was no going back to the smaller tin. It was time to face reality and get dressed to solve this problem. Normally I would've rung around my friends – Katie being first, she is an awesome cook and has lots of goodies! But, we are in technological silence here in Port Fairy with the phone exchange being burnt down – no Internet and no phones. Well, extremely limited. I could get in the car, drive around to all my friends’ places until I found a large pan. Or, I could go next door (with my ruler, oh dear....) and see if my lovely neighbour Mary has anything. I know they entertain a lot, so my hopes were high. I knocked on the door and waited...nothing, bugger. I looked around my quiet street and worked out my next target. Judy on the other side has a fabulous fruit and vegetable garden and we are always chatting over the fence. Just as I was walking away, Mary called out to me. She was just getting out of her pyjamas too! That’s ok, it’s only midday. She had the pan, I measured it up, Mary laughed at me and my ruler.
I laughed at me and my ruler.

Back to the (now) epic baking session at hand....all ready for the oven in its cosy water bath, I gently and lovingly placed my lemon cheesecake in to bake for and hour and a half. Now, waiting time until I can lavish it with lemon curd. That will have to wait as I have run out of caster sugar. Talk about organised!

Notes to self: Make sure your spring-form cake tin fits into a roasting dish before you fill the tin and realise your dish isn't big enough and like me, need to run next door and ask your neighbour. Not such a bad thing for community good will.

Mental note – make your kind neighbour something special to thank her. There will be no leftovers on this cake you can be sure, especially when you are taking it to your work Christmas party where it will be devoured in a breath full.

Post it note: I used a different recipe for my lemon curd this time. I consulted the September 2012 edition of Delicious where they had a nice, simple version of this delicious treat, using whole eggs instead of just the yolks. It was either going to be scrambled lemony eggs or a silky lemon delight!

So far, all is well in lemon curd land. Looks like there will be leftovers to pop in a jar with my label and thank my neighbour. [Print Recipe]

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A Sunny Saturday

It's chocolate cake Saturday here by the sea. The morning was spent wandering around the local farmer's market - sourcing free range meat (trickier than I thought), eating Rita's samosas - the best in the district with the queue 10 deep, and checking out the range of macarons, finally choosing triple chocolate. Doggie's nose was on fire with the delectable treats on display - the stall holders guarding their goodies protectively.
The farmers market is always a social event, I never expect to just walk through without a chat. 

After discussing farming methods with a local producer of pork and lamb, I walked away feeling somewhat disheartened at the difficulty in obtaining not only good quality meat products, but sustainable, environmentally friendly and cruelty free. Easier to be vegetarian, but I do like meat, so it's a difficult choice. I will keep on researching. My aim is to find local meat producers, that do not consider their animals as 'waste' products at any stage of their lives and are free to range all of the time. We as consumers are so brainwashed it's scary. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Ok, back to chocolate. My 11 year old son stated earlier in the week that he wanted to make a chocolate cake with chocolate icing today. He wants to give some to his teacher at school and eat the rest, of course. Finding a basic chocolate cake recipe amongst my array of cookbooks and magazines was harder than I thought. Most of them involved extra ingredients and methods - I wanted him to start with an easy one that he could do totally on his own. Baking is such a science and for a 'word' person like myself, I am not brilliant at science. But I am a very ordered kind of person, so baking is perfect - exact measurements and times (well, generally). I helped with the measuring and little things that make baking easier - softening the butter for 10 seconds in the microwave for example. You've no idea how many years it took me to realise this! The amount of times I creamed sugar and butter straight out of the fridge! 

Little friend Oscar turned up, just in time to help clean the beaters (err...lick them 'til glistening). After adapting a recipe from The Women's Weekly Old Fashioned Favourites, we poured the velvety batter into a large cake pan and let the oven do the rest. The boys are outside in the sunshine playing cricket with doggie (he tends to run off with the ball a lot). I wonder how long it will take them to remember the cake in the oven? Hopefully, I will eat my own words along with a moist, chocolately cake that may or may not make it to school on Monday. After all, there are children and a whole Sunday to go before then....


P.S They did remember the cake! We ate half of it when my dear friend Maria and her lovely Irish fella popped in - with pink champagne of course! No time to ice it, straight down the hatch. Now, for that second slice with chocolate icing....






Monday, 22 October 2012

Girls Day In

I've never seen so much PINK! Balloons, frocks, shoes, hair, food, drink, flowers and of course, smiles!
I hosted a Pink Ribbon Day 'Girls DAY In' - what started as a vague idea eventually became a big get-together of friends and girls from around the district. Ladies turned up in pink wigs, floral dresses, carrying flowers, pink lollies and a wonderful feeling of excitement and positive energy.

I'd seen a post on Facebook a few weeks ago about Pink Ribbon Day and thought 'I should do something'. I'll get the girls together. We'll eat pink food and drink pink bubbly. We'll play some games, get together, laugh, talk and meet new faces. My second 'brainwave' was a raffle. I've never organised one before, I had no idea but to hit the main street in my little town and ask for donations. Every single business owner in the town I asked said YES! Donations were piling up in my house and people were ringing me to ask if they could donate. I couldn't believe the wonderful snowball effect of good will. As the prizes piled up I kept adding them to the list. I sat on the floor in my lounge room and sorted out hampers, vouchers, bottle of wine, food baskets and a whole heap of pink cellophane and ribbon to seal the deal!

Food was not a problem with my wonderful group of foodie gals! Between us, we made pink lamingtons, pink chocolate covered strawberries, sponge cake, fairy cakes, cherry ripe slice, pink meringues with rosewater cream and raspberries, fruity punch with cranberry and lots of pink lollies. Savoury ideas were harder but we came up with beetroot and trout dip, beetroot chips, smoked salmon toasts and the ever popular saveloy sausages dipped in tomato sauce (with a little mayonnaise added to make it pink). The table overflowed with pink joy! Bottles of mini pink bubbly were placed in a pink laundry basket surrounded by rose wine, pink moscato, cranberry juice and pink grapefruit mineral water.

We had some rules today - certain words were NOT to be spoken! Swear words were out - that was it, I was broke. The gold coin jar filled up quickly with penalties when anyone said 'pink', 'bubbles', 'girls', 'cake' and 'punch'. Everyone was being dobbed in. 

I'm not one for speeches but I said a thank you to all those that came and others that supported the fundraiser but could not make it. My utmost respect and gratitude goes out to you all. I thought about all the women affected by cancer and a quiet moment for a dear friend of mine who survived breast cancer - with a young child and supportive family by her side. We don't see each other much but she's always in my heart, we've known each other since we were 5 years old. Funnily enough it was her birthday today, so happy birthday Kirsten!


And I really don't want to see pink cream, icing, cake, jelly, punch and sugar for a long time!



Wednesday, 15 August 2012

It's pumpkin time!

I am so lucky that I have not had to buy pumpkin for months now! A work colleague had an abundant crop last summer and now brings in the largest, most beautiful looking pumpkins for all of us. I'm always left with the biggest piece (ha!) and so I am always devising new ways to cook up this tasty vegetable.
My son just loves pumpkin soup - he firmly stated a few weeks back that it is his favourite soup. Well, lucky because it's on the menu at least once a week, plus leftovers for lunch.
I'd had an Asian style sweet potato soup years ago and thought I'd try a similar dish with pumpkin, with a few tweaks and changes (mainly because I couldn't remember how it was cooked). 

I diced up my pumpkin and put it in a roasting pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of palm sugar sprinkled over the top. Then roasted until it was soft and golden. I caramelised red onions on the stovetop, then added the cooked pumpkin, ground coriander seeds (from my garden), black mustard seeds & cardamon, turmeric powder, cumin, cinnamon and a pinch of chilli powder. Mix to coat the pumpkin and cook the spices for a couple of minutes. Then, add a cup (or so) of coconut milk and water. You could use chicken or vegetable stock but I wanted my Asian flavours to really stand out. Cook on a medium/low heat until really soft. I mashed mine, as I like it a bit lumpy but you could give it a whiz if you like your soup nice and smooth.
Serve in big bowls with a healthy dollop of Buffalo yoghurt and a generous sprinkle of fresh coriander.
[Print Recipe]

This is delicious served with my Buffalo Yoghurt & Coriander Damper



Buffalo Yoghurt & Coriander Damper [Print Recipe]

1 1/4 cups SR Flour
1 tsp fresh coriander
20g butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yoghurt

Sift flour, add pinch of good salt, then rub in butter until mix is like breadcrumbs. 
Stir in milk, yoghurt 3/4 of the feta and fresh coriander until mixture comes together (it will be sticky).
Turn on to floured board and divide into 4. Score a cross on each, top with remaining feta and a sprinkle of salt (I used Murray River Pink Salt).
Bake at 200C for 15-20 mins.

Serve warm with soup.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Buffalo Gals!

I know the whole 'cupcake' trend is going wild - to be honest I've never been crazy for them! I don't have a huge sweet-tooth.  Believe it or not, when I bake it's not to eat sweets, it's a stress release. It's love in little muffin trays. It's 'family' in a warm kitchen, oozing out of a chocolate pudding late at night. It's the silence of the whisk as air and mass is moved around to create the right balance of lightness and texture. I can concentrate on this one thing, my mind won't wander off thinking about life's difficulties. 
The creaming of the sugar and butter - my favourite part of a cake, watching it turn pale and ever so fluffy my heart softens. I am mesmerised and content. The kids come in and ask to help. 'Yes', I say. 'You can help lick the bowl and spoons' - because this is my time today, my little bit of peace and quiet where outside noises blur into the background. I don't like to use electric beaters, they disturb my equilibrium, they are noisy and their vibrations are unpleasant. However, they certainly help, no doubt about it and I do use them. But, wherever possible I use my whisk, my delightful pale blue cheapie that I picked up for $2. And my hot pink silicone spatula that my mum bought me. What a great present, thanks mum!

So, I have 3 litres of Buffalo Yoghurt to use up. I just love yoghurt in cakes, it gives a beautiful creamy texture and the buffalo yoghurt is superb, quite unlike other yoghurts on the market. Similar to a Greek-style yoghurt, it has a much lighter, creamier texture and is less 'tangy'. I also have a few kilos of lemons from my mum's lemon tree - she has the most wonderful lemons, the skin is soft and dark yellow, fantastic for zesting. Ok, with my cupcake interest sparked after making orange poppyseed cupcakes last week, I am ready for more. Here we go....

Lemon Zest & Buffalo Yoghurt Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Beat 125g softened butter & 125g sugar until pale and light. Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 Tblsp lemon zest & 2 Tblsp lemon juice. Sift 180g SR Flour, ½ tsp baking powder. Fold into mixture alternating with 200g Buffalo yoghurt.
In a separate bowl, whisk 3 eggwhites to firm peaks. Fold into mix.
Fill muffin cases and bake for 25-30mins. Cool.
Icing: Mix icing sugar, soft butter, extra lemon zest and juice. Spread on cupcakes.

There you have my little cupcake Buffalo Gals!






I made a couple of heart-shaped ones for my man who comes home soon and needs some lovin'...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Meal of the Year


My 10 year-old son came home from fishing, face beaming, with 2 beautiful looking salmon! All other plans for dinner were immediately cancelled (leftovers), as I started to think about how to cook these magnificent creatures of the sea.

I don't cook fish much, even though I love it, so I was a bit stumped for ideas. I rang my partner, who just happens to be a dab hand at fishing and cooking. 'Simple is best' is his philosophy when it comes to cooking fresh produce, especially from the sea. He recommended cooking the fish in a parcel in the oven. I wandered out to the wintery herb garden to see what flavours I could find.

The coriander has re-seeded from my summer crop, little babies grow like grass everywhere (my mum calls me the 'coriander queen' - I can grow it year round down here on the coast). I decided thyme and parsley would go well, along with sage and rosemary. I just love rosemary, with nearly any meat. It is especially delicious with chicken. I remember growing up and only having rosemary with lamb, but that was awhile ago now... how food and flavours have changed. I went back inside and looked at these beautiful, white-fleshed fish, their eyes glistening. We had a moment, I took my time.

I placed all my aromatic herbs in the fish cavity along with butter and sliced lemons (from my mum's lemon tree). I salted the skin with Murray River Pink Salt and added more sliced lemons on top, then wrapped them in foil with some Rowallan Olive Oil from my local farmers market (one of the best oils in our region, in my opinion). Baked for about 20 mins and served with rice and steamed green beans, tossed in olive oil and garlic.
This was the meal of the year in my house so far. I felt happy to be eating such fresh produce, locally and home-grown goods and to see my boy grinning from ear to ear was just priceless. He wanted dessert but I was just so sated, I want the flavours to last forever. I know the memory will.



Monday, 23 July 2012

Orange Poppy Seed Cupcakes

I searched and searched for gluten free muffin recipes on the Internet and through my growing library of  cookbooks. Many of the recipes required flour which I didn't want to use. A lovely lady I work with misses out on many sweet treats because of flour - so these are for her. She doesn't know it, and doesn't need to. My reasons for cooking are sometimes personal. There is deep satisfaction in cooking for people, seeing their smiles and knowing that for a moment, or a day they are instantly happy.
After some research, I decided to combine a couple of recipes I found based on the ingredients I had in the pantry and turn them into cupcakes!
Surprisingly, they turned out really light and moist and passed both the child taste test and the girls at work...


RECIPE
[Print Recipe]


Ingredients

3 eggs
½ cup honey
¼ cup melted butter or oil
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tblsp orange juice
1 tblsp finely grated orange rind
1 tblsp poppy seeds
3 cups almond meal

warmed orange juice & butter, extra to baste (approx. 60ml)


Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C.
2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, melted butter/oil, baking soda, salt & orange juice.
4. Stir in lemon/orange rind and poppy seeds.
5. Whisk in almond meal.
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups. (I filled mine halfway as I didn't want them too big)
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, springy to touch.
8. Baste cakes with a little melted butter and warmed orange juice.
9. When cool, spoon over orange icing or cream cheese frosting.

















* You could easily substitute the orange juice for lemon, make sure it is freshly squeezed though - it tastes SO much better. 
* Make sure to finely grate the rind

Enjoy!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Lemon Curd Muffins


Lemon muffins with lemon curd

Makes about 8 large muffins

Heat the oven to 190°C. 
Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
Sift 200gm (1½ cups) SR flour into a bowl, mix in 100gm (½ cup) golden caster sugar.

Mix together 1 egg, 75ml sunflower oil or melted butter, 150ml milk and ½ tsp vanilla extract in a bowl.
Make a well in the dry mix, add some of the liquid mix into the centre, then stir in (this helps the dry and wet mixes mix together), continue to stir in the wet mix, add some lemon juice if desired.

Fill the muffin cases half full with the batter, then place 1 tsp of lemon curd on top. Top up the muffin cases with remaining batter. Place in pre-heated oven on the middle shelf.
Bake for 10-15 mins (check and give an extra 5 mins if needed), until risen and firm.

For the sugar coating, microwave the lemon curd on high for 20 seconds until melted. Put the sugar into a shallow bowl. Brush on the melted lemon curd top of each muffin and dip the tops of each muffin in the sugar to coat the tops.



Just as I was topping the muffins with the lemon curd & sugar the kids came back from playing footy in the rain and freezing cold! What timing! Silence descended on my warm kitchen as these delights were literally wolfed down. What better gratitutde than the thanks of silent mouths enjoying my food. My Sunday, at best.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Lemon Curd

So many recipes, so little time to read them all....my options are to open up my son's school cookbook and see what the kids think! No double boiler, no fuss lemon curd, that tastes citrus sweet and divine. 

I whisk 4 egg yolks with 2/3 cup caster sugar, add 2-3 tspns lemon zest, 100 mls lemon juice & 60gm butter then bring to simmer over med-high heat, stirring constantly for approx 5minutes. Leave to cool then pour into sterilised jars. Lick the spoon and bowl clean.
Now, off to make some lemon curd muffins, though I may have to wait 'til tomorrow, as it's suddenly dark and I'm in need of leftover bolognese sauce on fresh sour-dough from the market this morning....Definitely need a glass of Maclarenvale red to wash it down....
Until tomorrow, when the muffins will be complete! Unless I eat all the lemon curd of course....



Tuesday, 5 June 2012

In the kitchen

Finding out about my father for the first time in my 40-something years is opening doors and vaults left, right and centre! Discovering he was in a band and meeting a fellow band member, who has ended up on holidays in my sleepy, wintery town is serendipity at its most splendid.

Photos, stories and anecdotes have spilled out onto the table, the 'lazy susan' spinning wildly, not sure which way to go! Food has played an important part in these sharing of memories, with a collaborative dinner cooked by myself and Clive, the banjo player in the 'Caedmon Singers' - my fathers' folk band of the late 1960's.
Moving around the kitchen tonight cooking up a storm - simmering the sugar syrup, sifting flours, marinating  chicken, reducing the sauce to create a rich, thick blend - food and memory, friends and warmth.



Bob Dylan's 'Blonde on Blonde' album played in the background while Clive cooked Marsala Chicken - a delicious dish with mushrooms and a rich, sweet sauce. I made steamed orange puddings with syrup & muscatels, dolloped with thick cream. [Thanks to a Jill Dupleix recipe from today's Age newspaper.]


Whilst I can never be in the kitchen with my own father, I can be with those he knew, creating a family-like bond with food to fill the space. A beautiful evening with new family friends, reconnecting to a long lost father who I will never see but now maybe won't stay so lost, in memory at least.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Scones


I have been thinking about scones for about a week or so now. I've only ever made them once and I'm determined to get them right - light and fluffy. Last time (about 15 years ago), they were like small pebbles. A co-worker suggested adding lemonade. I have also been told cream (not milk) by my dear friend Danni. I trust her, she is a fabulous cook and a creative being. So, the decision. Plain? Fruit? Pumpkin? Cheese?

I think I'll start with the Country Women's Assocation (CWA) recipe and go from there. In it's 53rd edition and first published in 1936, I think they have got something right. The first branch started up in 1924 at Nungarin, Western Australia, located 300 kms north-east of Perth with a small population of around 300. There are now State branches and regional groups. Their aims are virtuous, "to improve the well being of all people, especially those in country areas by promoting courtesy, cooperation, community effort, ethical standards and the wise use of resources" [CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints, 2009]. Not only do they have recipes, however, there are many tips and hints on keeping the home fires burning, from cleaning smoky ceilings with warm water and soda to making a feather pillow from freshly plucked poultry. Makes me realise how easy we have it now.

Back to the job at hand. Scones. I've just read the recipe and it calls for milk powder and water. Well, I guess out in the small country towns that's what you used (probably still do). I'm going to research further, and what better search engine than Google. Type in 'Scones' and you get 14,000,000 results. Wow, this may be more complicated than I thought. Ahh, the Internet, making life so simply complex.
I'm tempted by Donna Hay's recipe but she uses sugar and I don't want them sweet. Another day.
I click on the link to The AGE 'how-to-bake-the-perfect-scone' and from there, go to raspberri cupcakes version of the CWA scone. Now, I have the CWA cookbook sitting on my bench and it is quite a different recipe, so I'm going with the 'tweaked' version. It involves cream and milk - NO butter.


20 minutes later....
OMG OMG OMG, I have just eaten the BEST scone ever! Why, oh why did I wait so long. Not only did they rise, they are the lightest, fluffiest pieces of heaven. So easy, no fuss (apart from quite a bit of flour thrown around. I am going to teach this to my little man. Ok, I'm off there are still 9 more on the tray and they need to be eaten, they must be eaten.....yum!

Tips:
Don't overwork the dough, pat it, no kneading!
Work fairly quickly.
Eat quickly too, with loads of jam and cream!
(p.s I added sugar and vanilla to my cream.)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Baby it's cold outside

Winter has hit with a big icy chill, bucket-loads of heavy, heavy rain and wind whipped straight up from the Arctic ice. It is the wind I dislike intensely but I get out in it anyway, embrace the enemy, my foe. What other options do I have? To be cold and bitter? Well, bitterly cold at the least.

What I do love about winter is food! Hearty casseroles, slow cooked, stirred lovingly & tasted at regular intervals, seasoned 'just right' and then indulged in. Usually with piles of creamy mashed potato, French style. Butter is no issue. In fact, I do like to include most dairy products in my mash - cream, milk, cheese, even yoghurt if need be...
I also love moist cakes. An afternoon cinnamon tea cake, or an almond & orange cake, eaten warm with fresh cream and orange flower syrup. The evening generally calls for a chocolate pudding, soft and delicate with a bit of sweet crunch on the outside, slathered in dark chocolate sauce, ice cream and cream. Dairy intolerance? Thank goodness NO!
I was reading a copy of Delicious at work when a fellow co-worker commented "fantasising again are you Dani?". I was taken aback and gushed, "this is reality, REALITY I am living here". I am memorising these recipes and going to cook them all. Yes indeed, so righteous about my food. I take it seriously. I know that many people don't get enough, and that many over consume themselves to death. What a strange world we live in.

So, tonight was all about leftovers. I'd made a hearty bacon-bone and red lentil soup during the week, just enough left for one big steaming bowl. The son and heir was happy with noodles, yes from a packet. Bad mother, bad. I had planned on a beef bourguignon, but as I type it's still in the oven, cooking slowly and luxuriously. It's going to taste amazing tomorrow. Dessert was the fail-safe chocolate pudding that I'd made for the kids yesterday, making sure to leave some for leftovers. Glass of red in hand, I am sated and can settle in for the evening 'cos baby it's COLD outside.




Saturday, 31 March 2012

If in doubt, BAKE!

Given I am prone to doubt at times, and the usual parent-worrying type of behaviour I have a new mantra - "IF IN DOUBT, BAKE"
....and so I do. My son reaps the benefits of this and he never has to know the thoughts that go through my head that get him treats; from chocolate brownies, banana bread, muesli slice, jelly slice, Anzac biscuits, chocolate mousse, apple crumble with cream & ice-cream to lemon delicious pudding!
I was never much of a baker, well I told myself I couldn't bake. Then one day I decided that I could and I would. So I did. Simple. 
The power of thought is amazing, all it takes is the first step off that one-way treadmill, a couple of cookbooks, the world of the Internet, a few cooking shows AND of course, a great love. A love of food, yes, but also a love for life, a desire to see kids smile as their eyes glaze over in pure foodie delight. A love of fine things, of friends, of family, of art. 

And of course, self love comes straight out of the pan and into the heart. When I cook 'Love Cake' (adapted from Jamie Oliver) for the love of my life, I pour my heart and soul into the mix. I have a special heart-shaped bowl just for him. It gets left on the bench for midnight tastings and walk-by's. It is my way to say I love you, and, knowing how much he appreciates it, I feel incredibly loved in return. All I need is to see his face as he takes a bite, or the empty bowl, devoid even of crumbs.
Cooking is empowering. I can fulfill those I love in a most basic way. And the best thing? My recipients of goodness don't even know about it, they are just sated, their bellies content. And, I too am content.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A New Year

Spending the afternoon with those you love, drinking beers in the (kids) pool, eating ice-creams and chips - yes in that order - was just a lovely way to end and start a year. We chatted about the year that was, the family's that made us, and that sometime break us. Our personal goals, our wish list, completed or not. No grand promises or resolutions, just quiet reflections to be more creative, to push those boundaries. 

To love and be loved, to enjoy our kids, to make the most of every moment. Whether that moment be lying in a pool with a rubber ducky around your waist, or whether it is spent starting that elusive first novel. Just to have my wonderful friends with me, travelling alongside me on the sometimes rocky road that I chose to travel, means more to me than words can express. It's often a feeling, a look out of the corner of the eye, a loud boisterous laugh at each other. But mainly just the company of friends, who love you warts and all. Sometimes friends come and go, for many reasons, but some are here to stay. Stay in my heart, that special place that is private, that is reserved for big love. 

Thank you my two dear 'wusbands' for your support, love and openness over the years. I look forward to many more laughs, food and friendship!