Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas Morning Muffins

I made these orange and cranberry muffins on Christmas morning - it's the fourth year in a row I've cooked them on Christmas Day, so I suppose it's becoming a sort of tradition! They are a Nigella recipe, from 'Feast', I think.

Of all the muffins I make, these are my favourite - they contain butter and are have a crunchy topping, so they are a little more luxurious than the others - but they also seem to have a better texture on the inside.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Squeeze orange juice into a measuring jug, then add milk until it reaches 150 ml.

Add melted butter and egg, then beat to combine.

Add wet to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Lightly fold in cranberries and fill muffin cases.

Top with cinnamon and sugar mixture then cook for 15 - 20 mins at 200 C. Nice spread with butter.

200 g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb
75 g demarara sugar
grating of nutmeg
juice of 1 small orange (about 100 ml)
50 ml milk (approx)
60 g unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
75 g - 150 g dried cranberries (I use a handful)
Topping: 2 tsp demarara mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Strawberry and Cream Cake

My choice of birthday cake this time, and as it's summer, I thought it would be nice to have some summer fruit.

I'd never made this cake before - it's from Tessa Kiros' book 'Falling Cloudberries' where it's called 'Sipi's Strawberry Cake' - and as strawberries are delicious at the moment, I thought it might be a good time of year to make it.

In one bowl put the flour, sugar and 1 tsp of baking powder. Mix in the melted butter, milk and then add the egg yolks and beat in well.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the remaining 2 tsp of baking powder as they start to become frothy.

Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.

Pour the mixture into a 22 cm springform pan, greased and floured.
I lined the base with baking paper, too.

Cook at 180 C for about 1 hour until top is golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Let it cool in pan for a while and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
When cool, cut in half horizontally with a long bread knife. Put base of cake on a serving plate.

This is where you can start filling and decorating the cake. The recipe said to wash and hull the strawberries, leaving a few with leaves if you like for the top.

Dice half the strawberries and put in a bowl with a tsp of lemon juice and a tbsp of the icing sugar. The other half you can use to decorate the top of the cake.

Whip up the cream into soft peaks with the rest of the icing sugar. Mix the chopped strawberries into a third of the cream and spread over the bottom of the cake (I put a layer of cream then the strawberries), then add the top of the cake and spread over the rest of the cream. Decorate with the remaining strawberries. And blueberries as they are very pretty and delicious!

Add candles, have everyone sing 'Happy Birthday' loudly, and then don't get to blow any candles out yourself because your children are so keen on helping. It's what it's all about.

This was a really lovely cake - a lot of that had to do with the fruit being so perfect, but the sponge was substantial and tasty - not a flimsy Victoria Sponge-type thing.

I only added 300 ml of cream to my cake and I thought it was plenty - Tessa Kiros uses 750 ml.

220 g plain flour
180 g sugar
3 tsp baking powder
180 g butter, melted
185 g milk, warm
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract

to decorate:
800 g strawberries (I used about 600 g)
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp icing sugar
750 ml thick/double cream (I used a 300 ml tub)

Best eaten immediately but leftovers will keep well in refrigerator overnight.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Banana Oat Bars

I saw this recipe in a magazine - in an ad for soymilk - although I used normal cows' milk instead.

I thought it looked interesting because it contains no added oil/butter which would make it a pretty low-fat snack if it worked out.

Stir together flours, oats, sugar, sultanas, baking powder and cinnamon (if using - I left this out) in a large bowl.

In another bowl, beat together banana, milk, egg and egg white.

Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and fold to combine.

Put mixture in a lined 20 x 30 cm pan (I used a 27 x 18 cm) ...

... and cook at 180 cm for 30 - 40 mins until golden on top and until skewer comes out clean.
Cut into pieces when cool.

This worked out really well, even though I managed to overcook it slightly and it was a bit more dry than it should have been.

I really enjoyed it - the texture is hard to describe but it was sort of like a chewy sponge; the taste was quite a lot like an old fashioned bread pudding (not the hot bread and butter pudding) and the banana flavour was very mild.

I enjoyed it even more knowing that it contained no oil or butter. I'll be making this again.

110 g (2/3 cup) plain wholemeal flour
100 g (2/3 cup) plain flour
90 g (1 cup) rolled oats
70 g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
90 g (1/2 cup) sultanas
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, mashed
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 egg
1 egg white

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Coconut Ice

I made this coconut ice for the cake stall at my younger sons' school. I've never made it before because I know it is very rich and a full recipe is way too much for our family! But cutting it up and sharing it sounds like a better idea.

Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl (or use 'icing mixture' and don't bother sifting, which is what I did), add desiccated coconut and stir the two together.

Add the condensed milk and egg white and stir together with a spoon, and then your hands, until it forms a soft dough.

The finished dough

Divide into two halves and knead in a couple of drops of food colouring to one half.

Press one half into a lined baking tin (20 x 20 cm or rectangular tin of similar size), then press the other half over the top.

I used my hands to spread out the dough, and then evened it out with the back of a metal spoon.

I wasn't sure the two layers would stick together so I brushed a little water over the first layer just in case.

Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours until firm.

Cut into pieces with a sharp knife. It apparently will keep for a week in the refrigerator, although mine was all sold the next day, and our 'sample pot' only lasted a few minutes before being gobbled up.

840 g (5 1/4 cups) icing sugar, sifted
200 g (2 1/2 cups) desiccated coconut
395 g can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg white, beaten lightly
pink food colouring (I used red)

Recipe from AWW

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Spice Men

I made these Spice Men for a school Hallowe'en Disco last week, so I decided to put some icing eyes and buttons on aswell to entice people to buy them!

I also made some for my little next door neighbour, Emma, who came to the door looking all hopeful with her 'swag bag'. She was the first trick-or-treater I've ever had knocking on my front door, and I had to send her away with an IOU note!! I made it up to her the next day (I hope), by giving her six little Spice Men with pink buttons.

I've blogged about these before, I've just realized, but here's the recipe again.

Put syrup, sugar, water and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and bicarb. Tilt pan around until butter is melted, then stir together.

Sift in flour a little at a time, mixing well after each addition, until a smooth and manageable dough is formed. You may not need all the flour, or you may need to add more.

Cool dough for 30 minutes. Roll out on lightly floured surface to around 3 mm thickness and cut out shapes. Cook for 7 - 10 minutes at 180 C. Cool on tray for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

75 g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
1 tsp mixed spice (I use around a tsp of cinnamon with a grating of nutmeg and a tiny bit of ground cloves) - (or cinnamon and ground ginger if you prefer)
95 g butter, cut up
1/2 level tsp bicarb
220 g plain flour

Sunday, 1 November 2009

One Bowl Chocolate Pudding

I've read about the mug chocolate cake before, and the other day I saw it on The Saucy Onion blog and decided to try it. Mine worked well, even though it overflowed.

Later that day I made another one, this time in a breakfast bowl using double the recipe, and it also worked well, and there was enough for all of us to have a little serve with cream.

Stir dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add eggs, oil, vanilla and milk...

...and blend together to make a batter.

Put in the microwave on high - mine took just under 3 minutes, but this will vary between ovens. (I checked mine after 2 mins and decided it could do with a little bit longer.)

A little unusual-looking, but it looks like the real thing when you scoop some out...

Not bad when you consider it took a bowl, a spoon, a few ingredients and 2 and a bit minutes in the microwave!

And really it's more of a pudding than a cake - you scoop some out and put it in a bowl rather than slicing it up.

Below are the ingredients for a small bowl; halve the amounts for a mug cake.

8 tbsp plain flour
8 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp cocoa
2 eggs
6 tbsp full-cream milk
4 tbsp olive oil
splash of vanilla essence

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Hallowe'en

Not the scariest jack-o'-lantern in the world...

...although he looks a tiny bit more sinister in the dark.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Chicken and Tomato Supper

I'm not keen on the name of this dish - to me it sounds a little bit ' 70s, a little bit Margot Ledbetter or Hyacinth Bucket - but that's the name it has in my recipe book (The Dairy Book of Home Cookery).

At home I call it 'That chicken, vegetable and tomato thing' and then I'm asked: 'The thing with the breadcrumbs on?' and I say 'Yes, that's the one'.

It's a very quick and easy meal to make, and you can vary the flavours and vegetables. The original recipe used zucchini, but I only add that (chopped and added with the capsicum) if I happen to have some around. Also the original didn't include the 'bed' of vegetables, but I think they make the whole thing taste really good.

Gently fry the onion in some oil, chop up the capsicum and then add that. Cook until quite soft, then push to one side, turn up the heat, add some more oil and put in the diced chicken. Let it sizzle for a while, then turn it over until it's mostly sealed.

I cut the chicken up quite small because then the whole thing can be ready quickly and the chicken is less likely to get dry through over-cooking.

Add a jar of passata, some salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar. Also add some herbs like oregano, basil and parsley.

Simmer for 10 mins so that the chicken is cooked through (don't overcook). While this is happening, lightly steam some broccoli (steamed green beans work well too).

Spread the broccoli in a large baking dish and pour the chicken/tomato mixture over it. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated cheese and put into a hot oven for 10 minutes to crisp the crumbs and melt the cheese.

Eat on its own with bread, or to make it go further, serve with rice.

2 chicken breast fillets, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 jar passata (around 700 ml)
dried oregano, a couple of tbsp
small handful of fresh basil, or some dried if not available
small handful of fresh parsley if you've got some, otherwise don't bother
salt, pepper, sugar
large head of broccoli, cut into smallish florets
fresh breadcrumbs (approx 1 cup)
grated cheese (approx half a cup)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Chocolate and Vanilla Biscuits

I suddenly decided to make these thisevening in the middle of making dinner (I sometimes get inspired at strange times) and mixed up the dough, with the children's help, and then let them make their own dessert cookie.

I found the recipe in 'Apples for Jam', and although mine don't look quite like the biscuits in the book, they were pretty good anyway.

In a large bowl, squash together the soft butter and sugar and a pinch of salt, then add the egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour, reserving 20 g for later. Quickly knead to make a soft dough. (I had to add a little more flour as the dough was very sticky and un-kneadable.)

Divide the dough into halves and to one half sift and mix in cocoa powder, and to the other half mix in the reserved 20 g of flour.

Flatten out dough into discs, cover and refrigerate for 30 mins to firm up.

On a lightly floured surface, shape dough with hands or roll out with rolling pin and cut out shapes. I gave some to my children and they had fun making their own cookie each.

Cook at 180 C for 12 - 15 mins until crisp. (I think I could have cooked mine a bit longer than I did because they were more 'doughy' than crisp - probably because they were quite thick.)

The dough spread a bit, so it would work fine with simple cutter shapes like circles, but the detail would probably be lost if more complicated shapes were cut.

These were fun and easy to make, and we decided they taste a lot like chocolate cake!

180 g butter, softened
150 g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
240 g plain flour
20 g cocoa powder

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Oaty Muesli Bars

A muesli bar and a nice cup of rooibos tea.

I sometimes make these for my children to take to school. They are filling, tasty and non-sticky which makes them good for lunch or recess boxes.

Officially they are a cookie recipe, but they are easy to shape into 'bar' shapes, and they don't lose their shape as they cook. I also make a few smaller, round ones for my youngest son.

I usually make double the recipe and put some in the freezer, so they're handy to put straight into lunchboxes every now and then.

Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl until well-mixed. Add egg and vanilla and beat in. Sift in flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon and stir in. Add oats and sultanas, and any other fruit or nuts you like, and mix.

Shape into elongated ovals on a lined baking tray (it helps if you wet your hands as it can get a bit sticky).

Bake at 180 C for 15 mins or so. Don't overcook. Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

They look pretty much the same after cooking, which is perfect!

50 g butter, softened
100 g light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 g flour
pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
100 g quick cook oats
75 g rolled oats
handful of sultanas, and any other dried fruit you like

Adapted from a Linda McCartney recipe.