Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Proof that 'The Stack' has become a food cliche...

Even Miss Four is doing it!

Leftover from our Solstice bonfire... she got bored waiting for marshmallow level coals...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Tuna Vegetable Risotto


Broccoli Penne


Chicken & Vegetable Pies


Individual Chicken & Char-grilled Pepper Pizzas

Freezer Suprise


Pumpkin Soup & Cheesy Potato Damper

Finger food at my nephew's 18th

Weekend Breakfast

Fruity Overnight Pancakes

Check back during the week for the recipes, and as usual, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts, and please come back here for Kids Cooking Thursday when we make .

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova)
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 95ÂșC. Line two baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
(I made a round nest and a heart nest)

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

These nests were filled by a luscious, rich chocolate mousse. I made only half of this recipe, and still ended up with enough to fill the nests (as seen above) and have 3 1/2 cup serves to freeze for the children.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
1 ½ cups double cream
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
(optional - I skipped this)
250g 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or orange juice -
but I used Creme de Cacao instead)

Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.
I made little quenelles with teaspoons.

There was supposed to be a mascarpone cream made with a creme anglaise, drizzled over the top, but I made a mistake because I was halving the mousse recipe on the fly, and ended up making a light chocolate ganache as the start of the mousse. And then I only had enough cream to remake the mousse, and had to skip the drizzle. I could have gone back out to the shops, but I had a lot of other cookery going on, as I made and served these for our anniversary dinner. Which in hindsight was probably a bad idea, because after stuffing myself with prosciutto tomatoes, and beef wellington, and perfectly steamed broccoli that just mopped up all those delicious juices, and roast potatoes, there really wasn't much room for dessert. I made room, because after one bite of the sweet, chewy meringue contrasting with the dark, rich, creamy, bitter mousse, I couldn't stop. But I did, because I could only fit in half, and the rest went back in the fridge. But not before I caught this quick texture shot.

I was trying to capture the contrasts in the textures, but the photo doesn't really do it justice.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cheesy Potato Damper

I had planned on making individual serves of this wrapped on sticks, cooked over an open fire, but it rained tonight, so instead of soup in mugs and damper on sticks outside, we had soup in mugs and damper rolls snuggled up on the couch with blankets and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Cheesy Potato Damper (adapted from Basics to Brilliance: Potato Recipes by Murdoch Books.)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb soda
30g melted butter
1 cup mashed potato
1/2 - 1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a tray with baking paper. Sift flours, salt and bicarb soda into a bowl. Add butter, mashed potato, egg, milk and cheese and mix until well combined into a firm dough.

Divide into ten pieces, and shape into small balls, place on the tray. Bake for around 30 minutes or until hollow sounding when gently tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

This was an entry for
The Cookbook Challenge: Week 32 - Potato.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flash Game Friday


Guide Raye (a spanner looking type thing) around a bunch of pegs, getting them to light up to reach the next level.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kids Cooking Thursday: Apple Chewies FTW!

A cross between dried apples, and the crunchy apples sold with licensed characters on the packets, this was something Oma made for the kids. Ttrue, they didn't help, but if they had been at my mum's place I'm sure they would have enjoyed this cooking activity.

Just peel some apples (my mother used the last from her own tree), and use one of those spiral slicers to make a spring. (very kid friendly!) Then carefully cut down the centre of the spiral to create half rings, and place in a dehydrator. I think it went overnight. Master Two can eat about twenty apples worth of these by himself - he loves them, and it's so healthy - no added sugar, or sulphates, or other preservatives you find in commercial products!

If you'd like to join in with Kids Cooking Thursday please leave a permalink to your own Kids Cooking Thursday post, as per the rules.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gluten Free Strawberry & Mango Cupcakes

You may remember back in February, when I had so much trouble with my Taste & Create assignment of Cupcake Project, because I had such trouble narrowing it down to one recipe. Regular readers might remember that I ended up making two more recipes from Stef's site, after Taste & Create was over for the month, purely because I couldn't resist Pomegranate Mojito Cupcakes or these cute Cupcakes in Orange Peels. Well guess what. This month, I'm paired with Stef again! And once again I had trouble deciding. I almost made these Chocolate Stout Cupcakes, but then I thought I wanted to save them for later in the week, to welcome home DP after a week away for work, and I wouldn't have them made, let alone blogged before the deadline. (so look for them in a week or two!) Then the Jasmine Cupcakes with Raspberry and Honey caught my eye, and I ended up using Stef's technique to bake with the flavour of tea as my recipe this month. I used some beautifully fragrant Strawberry and Mango herbal fruit infusion 'tea'. It was both caffeine and gluten free, being mostly fruit powder.

Melt butter

Obtain 'tea' leaves. I planned on leaving them in, so I crushed them finer

Mix together and cook on low heat for five minutes,
then cool, strain (if you want to) and use as directed in your recipe

I have a friend who is Coeliac and she has promised to come around in the school holidays to play Bop It with Master Six. So I thought I'd use the yummy fruit butter to make her some cupcakes. I looked at a few gluten free recipes, but in the end caved, because really, how many times am I going to use xanthan gum and gluten free baking powder and rice flour for anything else?

Ok, so it's a box mix... but for a good cause!

I followed the directions on the box, using my flavoured butter, and seeping a tea bag for 20 minutes in the water it called for.

Water as directed, flavoured with another tea bag

Ready to cook

I haven't iced them yet, though the box came with gluten free icing mix, because I'm storing these in the freezer until the day before she comes around, when I'll make the icing and ice the cupcakes. I don't trust myself around these not frozen for that long. I've eaten two out of the dozen myself already. Sooo good!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prosciutto Tomatoes

For the times you really want maximum impact, both with flavour and impact, for minimum effort, you need to give these a go. Something I made up just over seven years ago, to impress a certain someone who I met at university. It must have made an impression, because last week we celebrated our seventh anniversary, and this is part of what I cooked for that dinner.

It's really such a simple thing to do. Cut a tomato into wedges, usually 6 - 8, depending on the size of your tomatoes. Wrap each wedge in a slice of prosciutto. The slices I get from the deli usually are long enough to cut in half and use for two wedges - a bonus when you are paying $50 a kilo for what is essentially just fancy pants bacon.

You can secure the prosciutto strips with toothpicks, threaded through along the spine of the wedge, or just let them sit with the loose end sitting tucked under. If you fry the tucked under side first, it should hold if you are careful with it.

Fry until the bacon is crispy and hard, about the time it takes to colour up. The best thing about prosciutto is that you don't have to cook it for very long to get a wonderfully hard crunchy bacon slice.

There you go. Great for company, and $7 worth of bacon will do 3-4 tomatoes, which is enough for around 6 people. Less than $2 a serve if you grow your own tomatoes. I don't yet, but I hope to have some plants in place for this summer! Mmmm... this would be a perfect way to show off just picked tomatoes. *drools and wanders off dreaming...*

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Spaghetti with Meatballs


Chicken Curry Risotto


Chicken Vegie Mac n Cheese (for the kids)

Beef Wellington with Prosciutto Tomatoes, Broccoli and Roast Spuds
(our Anniversary dinner)




Beef & Noodle Stir fry


Soup and Sausage Rolls by the bonfire, followed by Toasted Marshmallows

Sandwiches, after roast at the ILs.

Check back during the week for the recipes, and as usual, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts, and please come back here for Kids Cooking Thursday when we make Apple Chewies.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chocolate Croissants

It's Cookbook Challenge time again, and though I've been falling behind I knew I had a recipe for this week. My library card has been getting a real workout, because even though we've been living here 6 months, we don't have the bookshelves installed yet, so all my cookbooks are still in storage. :( Still, this is so simple, you don't need a recipe at all! I even mixed things up a bit by making some with jam - a rather nice Strawberry, Blueberry and Cranberry jam. These made a delightful afternoon tea once they finally cooled down enough to eat, all buttery and flaky and sweet and perfect with my coffee.

Chocolate Croissants (adapted to Australian ingredients from Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson)
2 sheets thawed puff pastry
100g good quality chocolate
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Cut the pastry into quarters square ways, and then diagonally, so you end up with 8 triangles.

Place the triangle with the points facing away from you.
Break off small pieces of chocolate, and place just up from the widest end of the pastry.

Carefully roll up from the chocolate end to the point.
You should now have something resembling a straight croissant. Seal it slightly with your fingertips and curl it around into a crescent.

Place your croissants on a lined but not buttered tray and paint with beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes until they are golden and puffy and exuberantly, if miniaturely, croissant-like.

We used both Sea Salt, and Blueberry with Almond flavoured dark chocolates.

Master Two approved.

This was an entry for
The Cookbook Challenge: Week 31 - French.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pizza by photos

No recipe, as I think I've linked to my favourite pizza dough enough in the last few weeks, and pizza toppings are a very personal matter. So tonight I thought I'd post a pictorial recipe of sorts. A step by step as you will. Mostly because I like the way the photos turned out and I don't want to waste them :P

We topped with baby spinach, pineapple, diced bacon pieces, char grilled capsicum and tasty cheese. In the background you can see DP's pizza, he only has pepperoni, sauce and cheese. He's very strict with his pizzas.

Flash Game Friday

Ninja Glove

Complete minigames to increase your ninja ranking. Speed is of the essence!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kids Cooking Thursday: Birthday Racing Muffins

Yogurt, Berry & White Chocolate Muffins (adapted from Best Recipes)
1½ cups wholemeal self-raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
40g butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup low-fat strawberry yogurt
1 cup frozen mixed berries
140g white eating chocolate, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line muffin tray with paper cases.
Combine flour and sugar in large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and mix batter until just combined.

Evenly fill muffin holes. Bake about 30 minutes.
Muffins need to cool completely before icing.

Make cars by "gluing" Smarties or M&Ms on a fun size Milky Way bar with melted chocolate. Very gently carve a small hole in the top of the bar and insert a Tiny Teddy biscuit.

You could also use Hershey's Kissables inserted into the sides as wheels, but they have a tendency to cause more severe structural damage to the chocolate. These also make a great party treat just by themselves.

If you'd like to join in with Kids Cooking Thursday please leave a permalink to your own Kids Cooking Thursday post, as per the rules.