Sunday, 22 February 2009

Orange Cupcakes

These cakes caused a bit of excitement in our house because I never usually ice anything! They have a delicate orange flavour (and a little bit of vitamin C if it survives the cooking process!)

Beat together the butter and sugar (I used an electric hand whisk), then beat in the orange zest and egg. Fold in flour then gradually mix in the milk and then orange juice.

Spoon mixture into cake cases and cook at 180 C for 16 - 20 mins.

I added a simple icing made of icing sugar, a drop of food colouring and a few drops of water mixed into a thick paste.

100 g butter, soft
80 g sugar
1 egg
1/2 orange - zest and juice
200 g SR flour
100 ml milk

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Currant Buns

I always associate currant buns with elephants - they seem to be standard elephant food in old children's stories.

These are quite old-fashioned buns, and the recipe didn't specify any spices, but I decided to add a sprinkling of cinnamon and cloves - but not too much because I didn't want them to taste like hot cross buns. I wanted them to be like slightly sweet and spiced bread rolls, which is how they turned out.

First you rub butter into flour that has a little salt added (and spices if you like), then add the yeast/milk/water mixture, as well as sugar and currants (soaked for a few mins in warm water to make them plump). Mix to a dough and knead for 10 mins, leave to rise.

When risen, shape into buns (or a loaf if you prefer). Allow to rise while the oven heats to 220 C and cook for 15 mins or so - careful not to burn the currants on top.


...and after.

My currant buns would have looked more authentic if they had been glazed after cooking with a wet pastry brush dipped in honey or golden syrup (as suggested in the recipe) but I decided that would make them a bit too sticky for lunchboxes, so this time I left that step out.

450 g strong plain flour
1 tsp salt
25 g butter
25 g sugar
100 g currants
25 g fresh yeast or 4 tsp dried
150 g milk, lukewarm
150 g water, lukewarm

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Chicken Fillets with Soy Glaze

This chicken is very simple and tasty, and goes really well with jasmine rice and steamed vegetables (preferably broccoli or green beans - my peas and corn aren't particularly sophisticated!) Despite having a fair amount of orange juice in the sauce, it doesn't really taste orangey, just very tasty.

Slice chicken breasts horizontally and lay them in a baking dish. Pour over the marinade (a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, pepper, orange juice and vinegar - see below), cover and put in fridge until you're ready to cook.

Cook in oven at 180 C for half an hour until chicken is cooked - careful not to overcook or it will be dry. Serve with rice and veg, and with sauce spooned over (it is quite thin, so I reduce it a little in a pan first.)

2 chicken breast fillets, halved horizontally
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
100 ml orange juice (one orange is normally enough for this)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Bread Rolls (with different flour)

This flour is apparently 'excellent to prepare leavened dough used for pizza and cottage brioches, which are extraordinarily nice-smelling'

My favourite deli/supermarket/butcher (Lamonica's in Haberfield) doesn't sell normal bread flour, but Mr Lamonica showed me this flour which is used 'per tortellini, lasagne, gnocchi di patate e di semola, pane, focacce, pizze...' - so I gave it a go.

I made my normal mini white bread rolls, and the dough was not as elastic as with bread flour, and didn't rise as much. I carried on anyway, and these were the resulting rolls. Slightly yellower than normal and with a more scone-like texture and taste. (No complaints from the children though - they seem to be enjoying them in their school lunchboxes.)

I'll use this flour for other recipes in future - but I'll stick to the normal bread flour for this recipe.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Sloppy Joes

The finished sloppy joe - like 'savoury mince' in a roll

This is a very easy and tasty meal that I've been meaning to make for a while, and reading Coby's blog finally persuaded me to try it. I remember Sloppy Joes from the Roseanne TV show - I think she and her friends open up a shop that serves them.

All you have to do is process bacon, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and oregano until finely minced, then fry it for 10 mins until soft. Add minced beef and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. Stir in tomato soup - or if you prefer (which is what I did) the equivalent amount of passata, a slosh of milk and a little sugar - and some Worcester sauce. Put lid on and simmer for 45 mins. Serve in rolls (or as Nigella says: "apply to face")

The finely minced bacon and vegetables frying

The finished sloppy joe sauce

This is a similar idea to hamburgers, but the flavour is quite different. It reminds me of 'savoury mince' - a bit of a 1970s meal I think. I'll definitely be making this again.

4 rashers pancetta or 2 rashers of streaky bacon
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 small -medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp parsley leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500g minced beef
1 x 400g can Heinz tomato soup, or same amount of tomato passata, slosh of milk and a little sugar
Good sprinkling of Worcestershire sauce
8 buns or soft bread rolls

Mini Beef Burgers

Mini beef burgers - go well in mini bread rolls

This is one way to make dinner without adding more heat to the kitchen in hot weather, and without having to fiddle around with the barbecue (if you saw our garden at the moment you'd know why I don't want to use the barbecue).

I set up my electric frying pan on a little table outside the back door, and cook sausages or beefburgers for dinner.

As Coby was saying in her blog, mince is useful for feeding several people with not very much money.

Today I was making mini burgers - I sometimes make them normal size and put them in a roll with onion and tomato - but making them smaller means they cook faster, and for some reason less meat goes further - maybe because they're 'cute' and 4 or 5 small burgers look more filling than one big one! We eat them with salad vegetables, bread rolls or sliced bread, and plenty of tomato and barbecue sauce.

There are lots of different ways to make these, but this is how I make mine:

500 g minced beef (good quality, and not the extra lean type or the burgers may be dry)
1 egg
1 good handful of fresh breadcrumbs (I grate frozen white bread)
A good sprinkling of herbs and spices eg. dried oregano, mixed moroccan spices, allspice
A generous squirt of barbecue sauce
salt and pepper

Squish the ingredients together with your hands, form into small patties - about 24, and fry in a little olive oil. (Leaving the patties in the fridge for half an hour or so before cooking them helps prevent them falling apart in the pan.)

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Mini Milk Bread Rolls

I like to make my own bread sometimes, even though it's hard to compete (tastewise and costwise) with the bread you can buy around here - there are lots of very good Italian and Vietnamese bakeries.

These are really easy rolls to make, using the same dough as for the White Milk Loaf but the dough is made into 18 rolls instead of one big loaf, and cooked for 20-25 minutes. I also add a handful of unprocessed bran to the flour to make them more dense.

They're great to put in children's school lunchboxes instead of ordinary sandwiches, or plain as a snack, and they go really well with mini beefburgers inside (will be writing about these soon).