Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Double Choc-Mint Christmas Cakes



Happy Christmas Eve to all those in blogasphere. An in honour of the date here are my third day of Christmas cakes.

Very handy, as these was also do as a Cupcake Hero entry. It's been ages since I've done the CCH thing, but this month it's white chocolate so these will work for that too.

The cakes themselves are from my mate JC and are one of the best cake mixes you can use (and I'm not really a chocolate fan)

100g dark cooking chocolate
100ml milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
100g butter, softened
115g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 eggs
150g self raising flour, sifted

Put the chocolate, the milk and cocoa powder in a double boiler and slowly heat until the chocolate has melted. Then take off the heat and allow to cool a little.

Meanwhile cream the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs one at a time, combining each one well. Then mix in the chocolate mix and finally fold the flour through with a metal spoon.

Bake in lined cupcake trays for about 18-20 minutes in a 180 degree oven.

.... next I did a white chocolate and peppermint icing.

melt 160g white chocolate with 60g butter. Let it cool for a little then stir through 120g of sour cream, 260g of sifted icing sugar and a few drops of peppermint essence.

Luckily I had bought some bulls eyes for something else and they hadn't been eaten, so I smashed them up and sprinkled them on top. The photo above is taken in my carrier tray before I took them to work for consumption, but the broken lollies made them all sparkly and lovely.

So have a great day tomorrow, regardless of where you are, or what you happen to do on 25 December. Stay safe and eat too much.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

second day of christmas



On the second day of Christmas, gingerbread cupcakes are the go.

There has been much talk of gingerbread houses, and ginger cake, and I had Chinese beef with ginger, snowpeas and coriander for lunch the other day, so why not I say?!

Gingerbread Cupcakes
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tpsn baking soda
1tspn grounder ginger
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
90g butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tblspn golden syrup

then simply sift the dry ingredients into a mixer bowl, add the wet and mix together until golden and light. Put into 12 cups and bake for 20-25 minutes at 170 degrees

Simple Cream Cheese Icing
Mix 30g butter, 80g cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar, add a squeeze of lemon and a bit of zest.

These were rather nice. Needed more ginger, as the cinnamon flavour sort of took over, but they were still good. Just not particularly ginger. But the spice combination added a Christmas feel. They were a little dry, so I might think about putting a little cream or milk in next time.

What I'd really love to do is the whole gingerbread house thing. Maybe next year.

But also a cat update. Thurston's sulking and crying at the door. Apollo's constantly trying to get out and Tony's eating everything.

I like kittens......

Monday, December 22, 2008

ho ho ho and bah-humbug


On the twelve days of Christmas my true love gave to me....

cupcakes a plenty.

well really, the three days of Christmas. One every day until Christmas Day. which is three! hurrah!

And on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me vanilla caramel cakes.

These are a no-brainer. The cakes are dead simple and come courtesy of the lovely Nigella Lawson.

Put 125g of each butter, sugar and self raising flour in a blender/mixer with two large eggs and a little vanilla extract. Mix. Add just enough milk to make a good batter, about a couple of tablespoons. Put into the liners and bake for about 18 minutes.

The caramel was to use up some of the caramel syrup left over from the last daring bakers challenge (speaking of which this month's as yet as no place on my calendar, but I'll see how I go). I simply mixed about 100g of butter with about 200g of icing sugar, added the syrup and enough cream to form the right consistency.

And this icing was lovely. If you remember (or if you scroll down a couple of posts) I found the official one a little sweet. Don't know what it was, but this was better. Either the butter/sugar ratio suited me more, or simply that it make the correct amount so I wasn't slathering it on.

..... which brings me to the bah-humbug.

Please, I beseech thee. I BEG thee.

If you're a recipe writer can I ask that you do two things.

First - write all the components in the order that you need to make them. If you need a syrup, or a glaze or a puree for the main show, say so up front. Don't make me get half way through and then have you say 'add the syrup, see recipe below'. I know you should read all the way through a recipe first, but darn it I'm a busy, modern, work-a-day kinda gal and I forget these things. Put the syrup first.

Secondly, if I need a cup of syrup, can you give me the recipe for this. Not for three litres of the stuff. There aren't enough mouths in my house to use the left over syrup, and as I'm too Scottish to chuck it away, it sits, dormant, in the back of my fridge for years. Literally.

You may be able to tell I've encountered these problems recently. And I think I've totally stuffed up Christmas Day desert. Maybe I'll make an extra batch of cakes!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a new addition to the family

I have just got back from the Animal Welfare League. Meet Antonius Pius (or Tony)


and Apollo



Thurston is still to work out that there are two new cats in the study (or he doesn't actually care). Apollo is already fast asleep. Tony's having a bit of a hunt around.

Quite frankly I think Apollo has the right idea....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the pudding has been eaten, now for the proving

Well the caramel cake below was certainly full of caramel. I took Marilla from Cupcake Rehab's idea of drizzling the left over syrup over the time, and it certainly looked really pretty.

The cake itself was light and very very nice. I think I cooked my syrup a little too long and it was more toffee than caramel, but I like toffee nearly as much as I like caramel so that's OK. The icing however was way, way over the top. Far too sweet and far too much of it. If I were doing this again I would probably make half the amount of icing and spread it thin and flat. I've seen a couple of people who have done cupcakes, and this might cut through the sweetness a bit. Lainie-bird and I ate a small piece each (left most of the icing) then the rest went down to Princess for her clan. They'll polish the rest off, no worries!

But I do have an awful amount of syrup left over. If you've done this challenge and have worked out what you're doing with the leftovers, suggestions are most welcome. I reckon there's a Christmas gift in there somewhere!

You'll also see below that the fonts went crazy on this post. This also happened with the pizza last month. So this time I copied and pasted the recipe into word and then back into my post, but it still didn't like it. Don't know whether I should work out how to fix this or just live with it. The later most likely!

daring bakers - caramel cake



There's been a lot of non-food talk on this site over the past little bit, so Daring Bakers have pulled my up by my bootstraps and got me into the kitchen at last. This month's DB is a Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. And first up, in line with the new DB rules, let me get the credits outta the way. This month's hostess with the mostest is Delores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, with co-hosts Alex from Blondie and Brownie and Jenny of Foray into Food. The recipe itself is from Shuna Fish Lydon from Eggbeater, but this particular recipe is available on Bay Area Bites. You can go straight to this link to get the recipe, but I've broken from my usual practice of relying on lazy links, and have tirelessly typed it out, to make it all metric for those so inclined.

Carmamel Cake with Carmaelised Butter Icing

Caramel Syrup

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelisation
process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When colour is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels s
ticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

These are my before and after syrup photos.


The Cake

140g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe above)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ba
king powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt and cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on baking tray. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramelised Butter Icing

170g unsalted butter
450g icing sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add icing sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all icing sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.


Now, I've been a little late posting this, so I have to admit I haven't tried it yet, there will be guests arriving in about an hour and this will be our desert. What I have tasted (batter and icing) is pretty darn fine. Caramel is a favourite flavour of mine, and this has it in spades. The cake took much longer than expected to cook, so I hope it's OK in the centre.

This was dead easy to get together, even with the three seperate bits. My only advice is that unless you have multiple uses for it, half the syrup recipe, as it produces buckets of the stuff.

I will let you all know later tonight how the proof of the pudding went.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

film foot notes

I was berated today for seeing the afore mentioned awhstraliah - for being commercial drivel. And it's true there has been an amount of commercial interest in the film.

But I've been a fan of Baz's from the beginning. There's always a romantic tint to his films, and I'm decidedly unromantic. But there's more to his films than this (and you may have to bear with me, because there are several tangents coming up now.....)

First and foremost, I see his films being about transformation and redemption. Whether it's Fran who is transformed from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan in Strictly Ballroom, or Lady Sarah who is transformed from the stuck up British trophy wife to the fighter in Australia. Redemption in the form of Scott Hastings standing up for his beliefs in artistic expression, Satine as she moves from prostitute to lover in Moulin Rouge, or the Drover as he learns to express his love for the woman and the child in Australia - they are powerful stories and ones that I'm sure we can all find in our own lives.

And then he paints them with such magic. Australia by no means has the glitz of Moulin Rouge, the sequins of Ballroom or the shimmer of Romeo and Juliette (or the script), but it still has a fantasy about it, the colours, the movement and the scenery.

And beyond that is 'the message'. Quite upfront is the story of the Stolen Generations. Non-Australian's won't be familiar with it, but the Stolen Generations represent decades of Aboriginal children who were stolen from their families and put into missions and trained for service - on the basis that their black mothers were emotionally incapable of caring for them, and intellectually incapable of educating them. These children were not only stolen from their families and friend, but also from their countries and their dreamings, which has lead to unspeakable hurt and discrimination in this country, and a lack of connection for these children with their past. And for many years it has made me very ashamed to call myself Australian. I've never felt I have a right to be here, let alone belong here.

This was, in a very large way, put to rest when the Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, took the bold step of apologising to the Stolen Generations. Something that has been desired by Aboriginal groups, and the Australian community as a whole for a very, very long time. But no politician has had the courage to do this. The closest was a former PM Paul Keating (a total legend), who gave the Redfern Address, many years ago.

But without the apology, I don't know if this film could have been made the way it has. It has started a real healing for this country. Nic is referred to in the film as the Rainbow Serpent, come to heal the land - and I hope this is what is happening here now.

But off on another tangent, there was horrible, hate-filled death on the streets of Mumbai this morning. I love India, really love it, and I send all my best wishes to those affected by today's bombs, and hope that anyone thinking of doing something likewise remembers Baz's lessons of redemption and solidarity.

This is Keating's address. It makes my cry like a baby every time.

(and this is meant to be a food blog?)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Movie Madness

This week I am on leave, after finishing one job, before starting a new one. So there's been sleep and food and beer. Can't ask for more than that, can you really.

Well me ol' cobbers you can. Today me and me mum went to see Australia (awhstrahlia if you're a local).

Blimey - or should that be 'crikey' - she was grouse (=good). OK, that's enough of the Australian-isms.

But it really was a good film. Laughs, tear, that Baz Luhrmann magic. Aside from the dreamy Hugh Jackman and our Nic, it had a star studded Australian cast, Ben Mendelsohn, the wonderful Bryan Brown, Australian film legend Jack Thompson (who was fantastic), David Gulpilil, David Wenham and Barry Otto, as well as some really cute kid who played, well the kid. I don't remember his name, but I suspect he will become the David Gulpilil of the new generation. And of course Bill Hunter. It's not an Australian film if Bill's not in it, but Baz managed to squeeze him in for one of the opening scenes. Non-Australians may not recognise many of these names, but click on the links and there's a good chance you know some of the faces.

Then mum made us a fantastic Thai style salad with grilled lemongrass chicken on top. And raspberry ripple for pudding. Can't get any better than that!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

lamb chops

I was at the butcher the other day and they had the most glorious lamb forequarter chops in the window. I couldn't resist. The lady behind the counter said 'I like to crumb them'.

And all of a sudden I was 12 again. My gran used to crumb chops and they were one of my favourite things in the world. The butcher lady said she shallow fried them, to keep the crumbs moist. I tried this one night, and then baked them the next - like my gran used to. Maybe it was just sentimentalism, but I liked the baked much better. And it's so easy to do. simply dip the chops in a beaten egg (add a little Worcester if you like) and then into the bread crumbs. bake on a parchment lined tray for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees, turn and bake another 20.

mmmmmm.... so totally delicious. and relatively healthy, which is unusual on this site. try 'em tonight!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

it's a bit of a worry, mr president

I've been smiling all day. because of the result in someone else's election.

freaky man.

so far this is my favourite election blog post so far

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

daring bakers - pizza

Finally I've done the latest daring bakers challenge. It's been a while. Actually it's been a while since any post, but more of that later.

This month's challenge was pizza, bought to us by Rosa's Yummy Yums. Recipe and really really badly exposed photos are below:

Pizza Dough
4.5 cups flour (preferably pizza/foccacia flour/high gluten flour), chilled
1 tspn instant yeast
1/4 cup oil
1.75 cups ice-cold water
1 tablespoon sugar
salt


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or if you're a hard core nonna like me, on the kitchen bench).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

you will note from this photo, i put my in a mixing bowl. this is partly because i have no freakin' idea what a jelly pan is. well, i know what i think a jelly pan is, but i suspect the concept is different to what the author had in mind.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan. (sub note: i have neither a stone nor a jelly pan, i used a baking tray!)

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
(picture title: what a tosser)

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.


Now, let me start by saying that these were darn fine pizzas. I put bacon onion and chili on mine, as they are my favourite pizza flavours by far. The dough was very easy to roll out too, which is good as I like mine real thin. I didn't dust the pan well enough though, and it really stuck in some places, but this is totally my fault.

However, this recipe is a lesson in making a simple thing complicated. Don't chill your flour, don't use ice water and prove the darn dough in the sun and you'll be eating your pizza in a little over an hour. TWO DAYS???? Forget that, I'm into instant food gratification baby. And heating the oven for 45 minutes is another lesson - in environmental vandalism. Crank it up and pop 'em in. I probably had to cook mine a little longer, but the oven was on for a far shorter time (good in our Oz summer), and offered up much less carbon waste.

But pizza is good. Cook lots of pizza. Eat lots of pizza.

And yes, once again I've gone dormant. Three weeks and I'll have the last of my uni assignments done. Six weeks and the (current) peak period at work will end. Roll on school holidays, I say (oh look, it's raining!!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

geese

my mum got back from Spain on the Wednesday. Any one who's been to Barcelona will probably be familiar with the geese that guard the Cathedral there. When I was in Barcelona I stayed just up the road from the Cathedral, and the geese drove us NUTS.



I had goose once for Christmas dinner in London. It cost a total fortune, and was full of horribly greasy fat that made totally inedible gravy. We were disappointed. I was poor. Thank god for the vodka jelly or it may have totally ruined Christmas, but it's actually a funny story. Maybe it will be my Christmas post.

Monday, October 6, 2008

five random thoughts

random thought, number one
On Joy the Baker yesterday Joy was talking politics (also to be known as the sublime and the ridiculous) and was also treating us to some of her past favourites. While they all sound delicious it draws to my attention how different the food we eat eat is, even in countries with a common language. Joy talks of cherry pies. sounds great, and I've heard them talked about in films and on tv, but I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to eat cherry pie, let alone taken up the challenge. for me a pie has meat in it! However a whoopie pie is a brand new concept to me. Sounds hilarious, and look a bit like something you can get here, although I'm not sure what we call them. Next time I have soft bananas I'll make them (which is unlikely as I love bananas and generally scoff them before they get bakeable). Then there's liquid smoke. Please, if you know what this is, explain it to me!!!

And it makes me wonder what I eat that is strange to others, particularly anglophones. Vegemite is the obvious, but Brits will just think it's a sub-standard version of Marmite, and New Zealanders Promite (they're wrong). Does the US have a version? I try to have a serve of Vegemite every day, and had it with cheese on toast this morning. And our pies are meat pies, not fruit pies. I'm not sure what else??

random thought number twoYesterday Stakkers brought her kids to my place, after bringing them to Adelaide from Perth. Stakkers and I went to uni together a million years ago, but she then moved to Perth where she got married and spurted out the afore mentioned kids, who spent the afternoon yelling and screaming, deconstructing my house and doing rather fantastic chalk drawings all over the driveway (which have since been washed away with overnight rain). It was awesome to see Stakkers again, hopefully she'll be able to move back to Adelaide in a couple of years and this will be a more regular occurrence. It was also a lovely day yesterday, which allowed me to fire up the barbie. The kids had sausages, while us adults had thai-ish chicken (note the coriander below)


and lamb kebabs, one with a tandoori marinade, the other with garlic and rosemary.


PS: JC, you owe me for leaving you out of the photo!!!

random thought number three 我 先介绍一下
Chinese. I'm not doing enough. I listen to my lessons online most days, but never do any of the extension classes, or vocab exercises, let alone actually put pen to paper to practice my characters. As such, it's going no where fast. And I feel like I never have enough time in my life

random thought number four
Which brings me to random thought number four. I am lazy. Really, really lazy. I've had a four day weekend, thanks to a long weekend combined with tonsillitis. And I could have done so much with this time, but I got no-thing to show. Sure, Princess and I went to visit Shep to book some more ink time, but he was on holidays. And the guys came over yesterday. But that's about it. I've set the alarm to get up and ride each morning (I've become 15kg more of BHG than I was 12 months ago, and that's not good), but I just turn the alarm off and sleep till 10. Maybe I'll just become one of those shut in types that need to taken out through the roof with a crane after they die. Then I can just lie in bed with the cats and eat toast. Sounds OK to me really.

But I really, really, really need to do some study today. I am running out of time and still have 50 hours worth of study to do.

random thought number five
I'm listening to the radio at the moment and they're playing Arcade Fire live at the Wireless tonight. I love Arcade Fire.

Friday, October 3, 2008

getting bigger

no, not just my thighs, although they are expanding rapidly - Australia is getting bigger.

we have the big pineapple

the big sheep

the big banana

the big orange

the big crayfish

and these are all great. Australia has approximately 150 big things, and once I win the lottery - and god willing it will be soon - on of the things on my 'to do list' will be to travel the nation and tick 'em all off one by one.

but now, there is the big dim sim

I'm sure this is a joke, but it's bloody fantastic. I'm going to go and leave a comment right now. We Aussies love our dim sims. both the real Chinese type, and the ones you get at the fish and chip shop, huge, fatty, a skin of dubious origin and deep fried until it's just right to harden your arteries.

mmmmm... about to cook dinner. maybe I'll go down the chippy instead!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

blogging, 101

Hey, I just realised this my 101th post on Boring History Girl. I'm not sure if that's too many, or not enough for the time I've had this blog running, but there you have it.

I wish I had something interesting to say on this momentous occasion. In reality I am sitting in my office, knowing that I should be working on a job application, or a course report, but I am just surfing around looking at rubbish, while watching others drive the streets looking at rubbish. Yes, this week is hard rubbish collection in my suburb, and the scavengers are out in force. I put out a whole heap of old venetian blinds and bits and pieces from the back of my garden, but after only a few hours this is all that is left


I'm not sure what criteria those scavengers who have already visited are employing, but for some reasons these slabs of painted aluminium and a rusty old pot plant holder did not meet with their approval. hopefully by the time I wake tomorrow, they will be gone, because I'd much rather someone used them for something, or sold them onto someone who will use them for something that have them sit in landfill.

And it's funny, because it's actually illegal to remove all of this junk - the council owns it! It must be one of the most regularly broken laws in the kingdom. I guess the council sells some of it on too, but you'd think that the cost of collecting it all, and then the cost of dumping what can't be reused would make them grateful that other people are out there making the most of it. I have a couple of tables and a garden bench thanks to hard rubbish week. I should probably get in the car now and go for a drive in fact. But I shan't, I shall sit here and not do my work instead. I need to do laundry and change the kitty litter, but I have no motivation for even these most classic of procrastination tools.

I wonder what's on TV right now... ... ... sigh.... ... ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

who ate all the pies?

Short answer: I did.

My love of pies is legendary. And there is a new home of the pie (title previously held by Cafe de Vilis, South Road, Mile End)

In the Adelaide Hills is the small town of Hahndorf, settled by German migrants, fleeing religions persecution in their home land, in 1839. Today Hahndorf is a tourist mecca, flooded with men in leiderhosen trying to flog off huge steins of beer and bratwurst and sauerkraut to hoards from Japan and the Philippines, along with sheep wool ugg boots, scented candles, and 'my brother went to Hahndorf and all I got was this lousy t-shirt' t-shirts. It truly is horrendous.

But in the middle of the main street, just past the fifth ompah band, is Pot Belly Pies.

This particular one is lamb, rosemary and mint. The pastry is divine, and the contents cooked with obviously love and care. I've had sterling reports about the beef and Guinness as well as the steak and mushroom varieties. There's also a chicken and cranberry I'd be keen to try.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

sprung

It's not that I don't love winter, lordy knows, and lordy knows we all love the rain, I'm mean really, really, really love the rain. It could rain for another 10 years and the whole country would rejoice (rain, not flood!)...

.... however! The blossom in my neighbours front garden, and the daffs in mine (which I shan't photograph because there is no way of disguising the weeds), indicates that longer days and less night time freezing is on the way.

If only it could rain all day, fine up for my ride home and be cold, but not freezing at night, I'd be in heaven.

On a far more solemn note, today is 11 September. Seven years on, here in Australia, it's kinda easy to not realise just what the date is. And I am by no means saying that thousands, and thousands of people have not died in really, really shitty ways since them. Some of these deaths are the active responsibility of my government, and others' governments.

Someone who is probably in a better position to comment, is Marilla at Cupcake Rehab. Marilla not only bakes up scrummy looking cakes (I nick her recipes regularly), has the best eyebrows in cyberspace and fantastic gear for sale, but is a NYC resident, and she seems like she's got her head screwed on straight.

And I notice she's an Obama supporter. Now, I don't claim to understand all the details of the upcoming American election. I don't even claim to understand how their election system works. But I know this. Our previous PM espoused fear, hatred, war and economic growth at the expensive of those who were not in a position to defend themselves. He ignore what western nations were doing to the environment. He ignored the right that the original owners of the land we now all call home have to dignity and self determination. He ignored the voice of the people.

And it cost him.

And we danced and whooped and laughed. I was with 4,000 strangers the night of the election, and the feeling, amongst this diverse group of people was one of hope and happiness. All is not suddenly roses in old Oz. But mercy, Kevin '07 has taken steps that allow me not to be ashamed of my own country.

So if you have the opportunity to chose who represents you in the world, anywhere in the world - PLEASE!!! think about it. Don't put a tick in the same box you always do. Think how you, and your children, and your children's children, will have to justify the actions of this person you chose to represent you.

Don't be afraid of change, or the harder option, or the uncertain!!! Everything must change.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

toast update

I know you're all wondering what I've been having on my toast. So I though I'd bring you this little duo.
on toasted Turkish bread. On the left we have savoury mince (with lots of carrot and celery, the way I like it!) with stripe of Rosella's best. On the right scrambled eggs. I must admit that I do kick-arse scrambled eggs. I'd rather have mine that go out most of the time (although I don't put cream in like many places do, in respect for my thighs). the eggs have well placed spots of HP.

*sigh*... bliss....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

you're not going to eat that are you?

I found this while wondering around today, on Desperately Seeking Crab (great name). The list below was done up by a guy from Britain called Andrew Wheeler. It's a list of what he thinks all omnivores should eat once in their life. Some of them are great. some of them are gross. some of them I will be googling in about 10 minutes to work out what the hell they are.

Here’s what to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (I need to work out how to do this using blogger).
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black Pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho

13. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich (I think it's fair to say Australians don't eat these)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
(again, not an Australian thing)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle ('fraid to say, I don't understand what the fuss is about)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (why?!)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
(seafood makes me gag)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (but I prefer sweet!)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (but only if you count the ones that fly in by accident when i'm riding)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (in Switzerland. I was sooooo drunk)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (you can get them on the east coast, but not Adelaide. hey it's a doughnut. Give me a jam doughnut from the Royal Adelaide Show any day!)
50 Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
(many, many moons ago. oh, the shame)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe (well, absinthe, not sure what brand it was)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (but I have a funny road kill story, remind me to tell you one day)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (I take it this is a brand. is it like a mince pie? I hate mince pies)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini

81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
(zucchini flowers stuffed with blue cheese. and sugared violets. and rose petals. and nasturtium salad)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate (but I've had Haighs)
91. Spam (Maybe, I remember a can being in the pantry when I was young. i guess someone ate it)
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

I'm afraid I've only just made it over the half way mark. I couldn't work out how to cross through but there's a lot of fish or seafood on this list. Fish makes me vomit. literally. I'm a big fan of squid and octopus (as long as it's not stewed), but most other types of seafood inspire repulsion or apathy. There's also some stuff that I don't think you can get in Australia, like hotdogs from a street vendor, or Hostess Fruit Pies. Then again, horse butchers are a bit thin on the ground - I had horse when I briefly lived in France. So I'm going to go to wikipaedia and work out what I can/wish to add to my list.

Let me know if you do this, so that I can come and check it out!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

daring bakers - eclairs

Having missed last months DB challenge I was very much looking forward to making eclairs, but there was some trepidation regarding the choux pastry and my ability to pull off such a monster.

However, the fear was unfounded and the pastry itself was actually really easy to make, although the adding the flour to the pan was rather odd.

Then came the piping. I've never claimed to be an accomplished piper. There was affirmation of my novice status. the eclair shaped ones were funny little worms with tiny, tiny little tails. So i decided to make some balls. The dough was already in the piping bag. So instead of doing the sensible thing and taking it out and spooning out the balls, i decided to pipe them - despite the fact that I already worked out that I was not good at this!!!

The looked fine. They cooked fine. However because I'd piped them they were hollow on the bottom.

d'oh

It was OK though! I didn't actually make the cream filling (despite many reports that it is deeeelicious), but did the icing top and just filled them, like little pastry spoons bringing a mouthful of liquid chocolate my way!



I was going to have another go this weekend, but the long list of wineries I have to visit stretched on in front of me, and as we speak I'm making a chocolate caramel cheesecake for a do at work on Tuesday. So this is the most complete photo I have. If you'd like to take a better photo, you'll need the full recipe.

However, it's very long and rather involved, so I won't replicate it here. But I'm sure a quick look at the Daring Baker's blogroll will give you hundreds of links to the full recipe!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Once Were Biscotti

hey-ho sugar lovers.

This month's Cookie Carnival extravaganza, brought to you by the good people at The Clean Plate Club, is Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti. Could three words in the English language be more seductive (OK, one of the words is Italian, but you know what I mean).

I baked up a bunch of these with glee and wonder. They were fabbo. Here's how I did it:

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti

ingredients
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
3 cups plain flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
250gm unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tspns vanilla essence
1/2 tspn almond essence
1 cup choc chips

method
heat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line large, heavy baking sheet with parchment paper
  • grind 1/2 cup hazelnuts and set aside
  • beat butter and sugar til creamy. add eggs and essences and beat until well combined
  • whisk four, cocoa, baking powder and soda and salt together in another bowl and then add to the wet ingredients, and beat in well
  • gently mix through both lots of nuts and choc chips
  • mould into two logs and back 12cm apart (they will spread a lot in the oven) and bake 35 mins
  • remove and cool for 15 minutes, but leave the oven on
  • slice into 1.5cm thick biscuits, lie flat on baking tray and bake for another 15 minutes

  • Now, there are two major problems with this recipe. Firsly the dough is so seriously delicious that you may be forced to eat it all before it even makes it into the oven.

    Secondly, it made a lot of biscotti. I gave some to BBITW for her birthday. Took some others for a farewell morning tea at work. Oh look - visitors - well I have some for them. Before you knew it, I was all out. And now this is the only photo I have for you:



    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    mmmm.... hello there

    It has been commented on that I'm a lazy, useless blogger with no right to take up cyber space with my stagnant, uninteresting ramblings (actually, the comment was so and so noticed that you've not posted in a while - but i know how to read between the lines).

    and do ya's know why?

    wine.

    Lots and lots of wine.

    You may remember that I am doing a placement through my industry course looking at tourism in the wine industry in South Australia. Actually it's the wine industry in the Adelaide Hills region. The Adelaide Hills region has approximately 31 wineries, spread out over a huge amount of country. And most of them now know my face, so I can't walk in the door without the cheese platters arriving and glasses of wine being poured. Yes, I know it's hard. It's also bloody bloody expensive. There's great wine being produced in this area and everything I taste I want to buy. My study now closely resembles a cellar. Which is fine now because it's freezing. Come December it will all turn to vinegar.... if there's any left. tee hee.

    Today one of my favourite places I visited Howard vineyards where the lovely Andy and Sophie took amazing good care of me, showed me round their fantastic cellar door and poured me a cab franc that is wonderful. They even have a rose that I bought, and I don't like rose (it will be nice on ice come December!). If you are in the Adelaide region, now or at any time, get yourself in to the Adelaide Hills, get yourself a cellar door guide and discover just how wonderful this region is. The Lobethal bakery makes a cheese cake slice you'd sell your soul for. And I haven't even started on the cheese, the cherries, the almonds, the lamb, the.........

    Saturday, August 2, 2008

    toast

    If you've ever been here before, you know I like to cook, and eat (and if this is your first time, just take it for granted OK?).

    By today I've come to a realisation. An epiphany if you will.

    My favourite thing to eat really could be toast.

    I love toast.

    Really.

    As I was waking from my afternoon snooze, and thinking about maybe indulging in my third serve of toast for the day, I wondered: could you live off toast? And so I started to make a list of all of the things you can have with toast to see how many food groups I could come up with:

    • Mushrooms on toast
    • Cheese on toast
    • Toast with vegemite
    • Cinnamon toast
    • French toast with poached pears, berries and ricotta
    • Toast with figs and mascapone
    • Bananas and honey on toast
    • Mince on toast
    • Soup with toast (hundreds of vegetable options)
    • Cheese and tomato on toast
    • Beans on toast
    • Toast with onion gravy (don't knock it if you haven't tried it)
    • Eggs on toast (poached are my favourite, but they're hard to get right so I normally do them scrambled)
    • Cream cheese and HP sauce on toast
    ... and this is just off the top of my head. Today I had toast and vegemite for breakfast, savoury mince on toast and lainiebird's place for lunch, some cheese on toast as an afternoon snack, and tonight I'm going for curry, which I will probably order with naan bread, which let's face it is just toast too.

    There's a lot of variety on my list, protein, vegetables, fruit, dairy, pulses. Maybe it's possible. And so many sorts of bread to toast: a lovely nutty rye, a rich sourdough, a gloriously chewy baguette, sharp fruit loaf, olive bread, ciabatta, battard - the list is endless.

    So my challenge to you is have toast for breakfast tomorrow, and let me know your favourite thing to do with toast. All suggestions welcome (and possibly tried and posted - if I'm not busy eating toast).

    Tomorrow morning I'm having mushrooms on toast.