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...

[Print Recipe]


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)

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


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 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....