Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday lunch for 2

To end the week off I had a friend over for lunch today. We sometimes go out for lunch which is nice though sometimes I prefer to stay at home, both have their advantages. Going out with the kids means not having to worry about preparing lunch on a weekday with no help from Michael with the littlies, though I cant really relax fully when out with Chloe pestering me with questions & requests to dance or play with her the whole time! Staying home means that I can relax a little more once the guests arrive & I really do love to cook so even though it takes a very planned approach & nothing too difficult or time consuming in case someone wakes up screaming for a feed at a crucial moment, who says you cant still prepare something nice.

Today I started off early this morning cooking a Lemon Poppy Seed cake from the Hungry Girls cookbook. It's pretty much a butter/egg/sugar & yoghurt combo soaked with a lemon syrup while still hot & in the pan which makes for a very moist & lemony cake, I enjoyed this though would be tempted to add even more than the 3 teaspoons of poppy seeds in the recipe as I love them so much.

Then lunch was a warm potato salad with smoked trout from Bill Granger's Sydney Food. I have to say the potato salad was delicious even though I think the dressing could have stretched to double the potatoes which could then stretch it to feed the 4 people that the recipe actually suggests it feeds. We did get good serving sizes & I wont be needing much for dinner but there is no way the 500g of potatoes could stretch to feed any 4 people I know, which shows what sort of appetite all of my friends have, yes we all love our food!

Relaxing tonight & then off to a wedding tomorrow with hopefully a bit of football squeezed in between the long Greek Orthodox ceremony & the reception.

GO SAINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reasons not to bake in a hurry

Saturday night & to save myself some precious gardening time on Sunday I decided to quickly bake a batch of muffins while cooking dinner & trying to clean the kitchen which was upside down from a day of neglect. I only had about an hour as Michael was leaving me with the kids to go to the footy, (boo hoo, Collingwood lost)! I also had my brother & the inlaws milling about & chatting while I was trying to concentrate.

Once I got the first tray in the oven something clicked in my head & the batter didnt taste quite right when it suddenly dawned on me there was no sugar in the batter, quick scan of the recipe & of course there was sugar which I had stupidly not noticed. So I whipped them out of the oven, scraped them out of the paper cases & back into the bowl, added sugar, tried not to over stir, then back in the oven. Too late I realised I forgot to sprinkle the raw sugar on top (half of which by now was in the muffins anyway) & was so tired I thought stuff it!

The end result was a very moist, unbrowned, no crispy top muffin which amazingly tasted good even though it was missing the lovely crunchy top of a good one.

The recipe was Bourke Street Bakery's so it must be a good one to taste so delicious even though I completely stuffed it up, next time I hope to get it right & they will be perfect

Here is the recipe as requested

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Muffins

2 2/3 cups (400g) plain flour
2 tspn baking powder
300g caster sugar (DONT FORGET)
310g unsalted butter
480ml buttermilk
3 eggs
225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
225g raspberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup (55g) raw sugar
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 190c, Lightly grease 2 large 6 hole (or the normal 12 hole) muffin tins & line with paper cases

Sift flour & baking powder into a bowl & add sugar, mixing well to combine.

Melt the butter in a pan over low heat, then remove from the heat & stir in the buttermilk. Using a whisk, stir in the eggs to combine. Pour over the dry ingredients & whisk to combine. Use a large spoon to gently fold through the fruit & chocolate.

Spoon into muffin cases & sprinkle with raw sugar. Reduce oven to 180c & bake for 25-30 minutes. Dust with icing sugar once cooled

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crispy Onion Rings

As I mentioned in my last post I do like to cook 'adult' food occasionally so when I was in the mood for a nice big juicy steak the other night (actually quite a rarity for me), I made a T-bone with potato wedges & crispy onion rings from Nigella Lawson's Feast. The t-bone I didnt actually enjoy all that much in the end & the potato wedges ended up a bit soggy though were a big hit with Chloe as is anything made with potato which comes a close second to chocolate on her list of foods she can't live without.

The onion rings however were really, really good! I have never made any type of onion ring before so didnt know what to expect. In fact apart from one lot my mum made the only onion rings I have ever eaten are Hungry Jacks & haven't gone there in years. The red onions are soaked in buttermilk overnight, then coated in flour & spices & fried. Rather than deep frying in vegetable shortening as the book suggests I shallow fried in sunflower oil for a fantastic result. They were crispy on the outside & tender on the inside as well as holding together nicely.

A wicked pleasure I will try not to make too often

Make me a cake please mum

Life has been pretty hectic lately, not exciting going to parties hectic but mundane running around after 2 little people hectic. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying it & have had the occasional night out too, just saying that it's my excuse for being so long in between posts.

I have still been cooking & enjoying it greatly though the food mostly is somewhat adapted to suit our current lifestyle, ie dishes that are quick & easy to prepare, though slow cooking is always an option as I have a lot of time to sit around waiting for things to cook now, also mostly I try & cook food that I hope Chloe will enjoy without being too boring. I do have a stash of meals I have prepared earlier in the freezer for her for when I want to cook something more adult for Michael and I, ie lovely, juicy steaks, salads, curries, none of which I have managed to convince Chloe to eat yet. Also sadly when preparing cakes & desserts for now I am bypassing those recipes that include alcohol & am left to merely drink the stuff (in small quantities for now of course).

Anyway the other day Chloe got up from her afternoon nap & asked so sweetly 'Make me a cake please mum' (on thinking back there probably was no please actually), that even though I have been foregoing cakes lately in the so far unrealized dream of regaining my pre-pregnancy body, I gave in. Thinking quickly as to what I had in the cupboards I managed to scrape together the ingredients for this very moorish 'Apricot bar' slice of Bill Granger's from Simply Bill.

Normally Chloe is a pure chocolate girl & doesn't really fancy cakes without this magic of all ingredients. Sadly I had no chocolate in the house so I gave her some apricots to try which she liked & explained that this was the flavour cake we were making, she agreed & was happy with this & eagerly awaited the slices completion. So when it was all cooled down I sliced it up, she took one bite & declared that she didnt like it, the next day she attempted 2 more pieces without finishing one. What can I say, we loved them & luckily my family were over yesterday to help eat them too otherwise I would have polished off the lot on my own.

Here is the recipe for those who will eat a delicious apricot treat

Apricot bars

155g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
95g (1/2 cup) soft brown sugar
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
2 pinches of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g unsalted butter, chilled & diced
130g (1 cup) rolled oats
90g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
450g (2 1/2 cups) chopped dried apricots
100g (1/3 cup) apricot jam
40g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180c. Mix the flour, sugars, salt baking powder & butter in a food processor until a dough forms. Mix in the oats & coconut. Reserve a cupful of dough and press the remainder evenly into a lightly greased and lined 20 x 30cm baking tin. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Meantime, put the apricots & 125ml (1/2 cup) water in a small pan over low heat & cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed. Cool slightly, then spoon over the dough base. Dot the jam over the apricots & crumble the reserved dough over the top. Spoon on the melted butter & bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool completely in the tray. Slice into squares & sore in an airtight container.