Monday, March 31, 2008

where's the draino?

Slush at quirky cupcake (slush, what a fantastic name. one day i want to know how she came up with it), is having bloggers block. she's been blogging much long than i, so she is probably excused, along with the fact that she's the CCH chick, mother, all round great girl by the sound of it. i have no excuse. well, i have a couple

1. i organised 150 high school art students into getting all their work to the one place at the one time and then putting on an opening event and dealing with narky parents. this is actually quite exhausting! there was also a bloke who collapsed during the opening. i thought he'd had a stroke and was cactus. the ambos turned up and got him going again and i am forever thankful to them. i have a policy with my events: people turn up. at least one person has a good time. no one dies. equals successful event. this guy nearly spoilt my perfect record!

2. i have a really pesky report i have to write for uni that's getting on my wick.

that's a couple. right?

there's fun stuff too. JC came for dinner saturday and after a lack-lustre thai curry i made a version of the crumble cake i made easter weekend, but put a rhubarb layer in it this time. delicious. i love this cake. really. i'm working on a quince one now (it's quince season and i've been given lots). saturday was also earth hour. JC and I lost track of time, so we did it from 9.00 until 10.00, an hour late. candles and stuff. was v romantic. if only JC was a bloke!!!

but now i've written it, i'm pondering quinces. any suggestions. help me de-block!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Many individuals have, like uncut diamonds, shining qualities beneath a rough exterior - Juvenal

ah, juvenal. knew i'd be able to get some latin literature onto BHG eventually!!!

but i do have new jewellery.

today when i was in the gallery the manager was asked where she got her beads. one of the students at the school had made them. now, i 'm a sucker for beads and when the student walked into the gallery with a big plastic bag full of them i was forced to purchase! i go these and a slightly more sedate string too.

when i got home these were in the mail box. i've ordered a lot of stuff on line recently, and this is all that's turned up. i'm hoping that a large number of t-shirts will present themselves shortly.


so i will wear one of these for opening night tomorrow i feel. maybe the one on the end with the flower. once this show is open tomorrow i only have one really big one left for the year and i get my life back.

anyone who tells you that working in events is glamorous is lying to you!

Monday, March 24, 2008

end of the long weekend

well it's 9.15 on monday evening, and this will be my last what did you eat today? post for easter. mine should be more along the lines of what didn't i eat. i'm almost looking forward to getting back to work so i don't need to eat three full meals a day anymore.

almost

i skipped breakfast today. breakfast is normally my favourite meal of the day, and one i really enjoy going out for, but i figured i didn't need it this time. particularly as i didn't get up until after 10am and i was going out for lunch

my first job when i arrived at my mother's was to chop the chillies for the piri piri sauce - oh, and to drink a glass of champagne - sorry, sparking white


this was mixed with lemon juice, garlic powder and olive oil and quite frankly would knock the socks off of even the most hardened spice eater. truly.

this is the chicken before it was cooked. it's marinated in a coriander base, and this is what the piri piri looked like once it was done

... ... ... and this is what the chicken looked like after it had been on the barbeque for about 30 minutes. it was truly delicious. it was smokey and flavoursome, but the meat was soft and tender. we ate it with indian bread and a couple of salads and a dab of the aforementioned killer sauce. isn't she cute? she looks like she's about to do some little dance. the chicken dance most likely. tee hee.


and this is a random shot of some deranged looking macrame owl that my mother has hanging by the outdoor table. my grandmother made it a million year ago, and this seems to be it's final resting place. no doubt it keeps the evil spirits away!!


to finish lunch off we had a small slice (and it was small) of flour-less chocolate cake, that had been made to the recipe of a french friend of my mothers. oh yes, and the second bottle of sparkling wine. hic!


and you might think that this was enough food for tot day. really truly it was. but if course i had dinner plans! so i caught a bus into the city (there was no way i had the energy to ride my bike) and went to my friend mirror mirror's new flat. she's just launched herself into the world of chinese language newspapers and is working from home and it's driving her nuts!

we did the short walk to china town to a new place, well not that new but i hadn't been there yet! we started off with szechuan bean jelly and cucumber in peanut sauce. doesn't sound very appetising i know but you spread your wings when you have a lot of chinese friends and this is something i actually quite like a lot. managed to talk her out of the ox tripe and tongue salad.

then we had a thing that she orders all the time but i don't know the name of it. it's a beef and rice noodle and bean sprout sort of thing in a spicy soup that you eat with rice. i an normally famed amongst the chinese for really being able to pack away the food (that's why you're so fat they all tell me in that delicate way that the chinese are so famous for), but tonight it was commented that i hardly ate anything. because i didn't. it was delicious tho. oh, yes and there were also chestnut and sesame seed pastries. i will have to try them again one day when i have more fortitude!!!

so there we have it. easter is over and i am fully cooked and eaten out. and only about 2 mini eggs (although we did have some white rabbit lollies at the lights yesterday).

i'm up at 6 tomorrow and off to the gallery for this year's art show, so i'm now off to sleepy bobos. there are two cats already on the bed that are calling my name.......

Sunday, March 23, 2008

bright light for easter

i know i need to tell you all about what i've been cooking and eating, but firstly i need to talk about the northern lights. not aurora borealis - the adelaide northern lights.

our festival of arts has just wound up - south australia is known as the festival state! one of the free events that was on this year was held along north terrace, one of the earliest streets in adelaide where some of the oldest buildings stand: parliament, government house, the state library, art gallery, adelaide university etc.

this year some wunderkind has taken photos of the buildings and used them to form colourful projections that change every ten minutes or so. below are some of my very blurry happy snaps, but there are much better ones to be found on flickr, just like this site.

south australian state library

mortlock library (newspaper reading room) with print design

mortlock library - en rose

anyway, last time we spoke i had just had lunch with killer cake. as there had also been a bottle of bubbles with lunch, so i lay on the couch and proceeded to fall straight asleep

i love long weekends.

but it left me in a bit of a rush to get to M's for dinner. her house has a bit of a hill that i have to ride up so there may have been some procrastination as well. M has a new slow cooker (house warming present from moi and others) which she's been playing around with. last night it was roast pork, with spuds and pumpkin in the oven. when i got there she asked if i thought the juices would make good stock.
'what about gravy' i said.
'could you be bothered'? was the reply

could i be bothered???? why would you do a roast if there's no gravy!!

so i did the gravy and it was scrumdidleyumptious. there were also chocolate eggs in front of a movie.

this morning i cooked up some less than fresh mushrooms with some garlic, parmesan and ricotta (in place of cream) to go on some of the left over baguette from yesterday

i sat outside, ate it with a cup of tea and read my book for hours. it was totally blissful.

then i did boring stuff like putting an second coat of paint on the toilet, and do some laps at the local pool.

then i road into meet JC at dumpling king. ooooooo... dumpling king. pork dumplings, prawn and chicken dumplings, and chinese broccoli with garlic sauce.

so very, very good. with their fantastic chili sauce


then we went off to see the lights.

but the time i'd ridden home (mingled with the MSG) i was dying of thirst. instead of being sensible and having a glass of water, i went with the cooper family's finest.

now i'm thinking a little schmakeral. maybe a soupcon of icecream before i retire???

Saturday, March 22, 2008

saturday lunch

normally i wouldn't make lunch a post all of it's own, but the end of it was really good.

Lady Miss Fi came for lunch, and it was just lamb fillets marinated in lemon and garlic and rosemary, bbq'd and sliced thinly over salad with a yoghurt dressing.

but i though i'd make a cake for desert. one to get rid of some of the stuff i had hanging around from other baking escapades.

Raspberry and pistachio yoghurt cake
ingredients
2 cups self raising flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
100g melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup frozen raspberries

for the crumble
1/4 brown sugar
60g butter, chilled
1/2 self raising flour

pistachio ripple
50g crushed pistachio
1 tblspn brown sugar
1/4 tspn cinnamon powder

method
  • preheat oven to 170 degrees, and butter and line a springform tin (20cm)
  • make the crumble by rubbing all the ingredients together with the tips of your fingers. place in the fridge
  • sift cake flour into a bowl and add in sugar
  • add yoghurt and eggs to saucepan you've melted the butter in (just melt it, it doesn't have to be a bubbling inferno), and whisk to combine.
  • pour the eggy, yoghurty butter mix into the flour
  • put approximately half the batter into the cake tin, sprinkle liberally with the nut mix and the cover with the rest of the batter.
  • press the raspberries into the top of the cake batter, so they sit flush with the top of the cake
  • spread the crumble mix on top
  • bake 55-60 minutes.
  • dust with icing sugar, serve warm.
this is a variation on a recipe anyway, but the batter was a little thick, so i put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of ricotta in it as well.

very, very nice. rich, moist, berry and nutty. i put a spoonful of yoghurt on the side to serve. will certainly be making this one again!

saturday morning food shopping

just back from the central markets, and these are the spoils of the hunt. i was pleased to note that lots of the stalls were shut, which meant people were off having a public holiday! however i had to scratch around a bit for what i got. here is:
1 large baguette from dough. dough have good bread but they always look at you as if they're sizing up whether you're 'good' enough to buy it from them.
4 royal gala apples
1 hand of bananas
1 red pepper
1 bag of mixed salad leaves. i always buy too many of these and they rot before they get eaten
2 small bags of red chillies, these are for my mum
3 pieces of lamb fillet. one is for lunch today (it's marinating in garlic rosemary and lemon as we speak) and the other two are in the freezer.

i also got a pot of mint and two lemons, but i forgot to put these in the picture.

when i got home i cut two pieces off the bread. one i had just with butter and vegemite. the other one i stuffed with a fried rasher of bacon, salad leaves, red pepper slices and mayonnaise (hellmans, of course)

naturally this small act as turned my kitchen into a battle site, so i'm off now to bake one of my weird, experimental cakes, and to tidy up before lady fi arrives.

Friday, March 21, 2008

good friday dinner

OK, bear with me, this might go on a bit....

after breakfast i 'tided myself over' with a small bowl of organic icecream

and a few sour worms
at dinner time i went to my dads, where we started off with a few olives

before we moved on to a delicious leg of lamb, with a spice crust


which was served with couscous and yoghurt
and a salad.... and a couple of glasses of wine of course. and as a distraction, here is a photo of their new kitten poppy. she's a cutie!

good friday breakfast

you may be looking at the time of this post and thinking that i just didn't get around to uploading my photos for a while. no, i pretty much got up at 11.15 and made breakfast. i haven't slept this long since i was a student.

this is what breakfast looked like before i cooked it.


this is what it looked like before i ate it


i know you can all work this is out, but this is it:
1. two rashers of organic bacon
2. two free range eggs
3. one gorgeous paolo's organic multi grain roll
4. salt, pepper, HP sauce

i certainly won't insult your intelligence by telling the esteemed readers of this site how you cook all of this.

i know you're not supposed to have red meat on good friday but: a) i'm not a christian b) i'm allergic to fish

Thursday, March 20, 2008

a revelation or two

this evening i realised two things. but before i realised them i realised another. i realised that it's thursday late night shopping before easter and i will make my easter long weekend much more enjoyable if i did the supermarket shopping now.

then i realised the two things that are the things i realised. i realised:
1. it's easter and i am allowed... nay i am obliged.... to eat what ever the hell (sorry Jesus) what ever the heck i want to
2. i'd need to put a cardie on before i went out.

these are two very important realisations, i feel.

firstly, it meant it's not a billion bloody degrees anymore.

secondly it meant i can eat anything and know it's all in the name of religion.

cool

then i thought i might just document every thing i eat this weekend. kate on obsessive consumption (i site i just looooove) documented everything she buys, down to photos of the receipts. so this weekend i will photograph and document everything i eat. and maybe the stuff i buy too, we'll see how we go. kate's zine is called 'what did you buy today', maybe i can start another blog called 'what did you eat today'. kate's site, when she was back at uni made me think about how much useless stuff i buy, so maybe this would make me look at what/how much i eat.

anyway, i digress. this is what i bought at the supermarket today:

it came to a grand total of $44.52 (including $2.73 GST..hissssssss). i've got yoghurt and butter and milk, HP sauce (stay tuned for tomorrow's breakfast!), little chocolate eggs so i have something to offer easter guests should i have any. i got myself sour worms, from the natural confectionery company so they're almost health food. and i got two tubs of ice cream, which made up my dinner tonight. i know ice-cream for dinner. shocking isn't it. i must say, the pure chill organic vanilla raspberry ice-cream in the chichi tub at the back was $7.49, while the good ol' Golden North (a south australian company i'll have you know, just like giganis brothers who made the yoghurt) down the front was $6.37. the golden north was delicious, choc full of roast almond pieces and toffee. the organic stuff was boring as bat doo doo.

obviously, the cat food is not for me!! it's for my beautiful boys.

by the way, don't you just love my funky elephant tablecloth. i got it, and a million other funky tablecloths in the markets in jaipur. jaipur is where i had the best egg kofta i think i will ever eat in my life. mmmmm.... egg kofta

laugh, i almost fell off my stool

Mil Millington's site is not one i read terribly regularly, but when i do i laugh in that insane way that usual grips me in public places, like the jubilee line to paddington at 8.15am when you're standing up reading while hanging onto the hand rail and you lose your grip (physically and emotionally) as the train pulls into the station, and the people around you look at you like you may be mad, before you get off the train and walk into an NHS hospital. not that this has ever happened to me of course (thanks very much Geoffrey Williams).

anyway, you really should read the bit about the thing that nearly made him stop the site, scroll down, it's in really large red writing. i'm giggling insanely just thinking about it.....

Monday, March 17, 2008

deep frying, drought and a visit to the doctor

last night i hosted my round dinner party, in the company of JC and Young Jess. really it was just a coincidence that the food i had decided to make was round!

to start with we had arranchini. little balls of risotto, with a piece of mozzarella on the inside, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. mine were a little big, so the cheese in the centre didn't melt properly, but when done right these are extra delicious.

then we had cannelloni. equal parts of spinach and ricotta, a couple of cloves of garlic fried with spring onion piped into pasta tubes, covered in tomato sauce and cheese and baked in the oven.

i was going to do loukamades for dessert, but it was too hot to deep fry again.

Young Jess brought around the fixings for cannoli, but the shells had gone a bit stale. so like the classy women we are we just ate the ricotta filling out of the bowls with a spoon.
of course amongst all of this i totally forgot to take photos of the actual food.

as i was cooking the leftover risotto balls tonight, i remembered that when i was little i used to get a funny reaction from eating that really fatty, delicious, red chinese sausage. really, the tandoori colour i'd added to the risotto was sort of the same thing.....

..... maybe that's why i spent almost four fun filled hours in the emergency department of the royal adelaide hospital in the middle of last night with a face like some deranged monkey. it just puffed up, and the skin gets all tight and red. it truly is very unattractive.

i was so tired when i got home i just collapsed into bed and slept until about 5pm, and could go straight back to sleep right now that you very much!

but good news is at hand! very, very good news. as many of you probably know australia has been in the middle of a horrible, horrible drought for as long as many of us care to remember. for northern queensland recently this has been replaced by hurricanes and flood. for us here in the south, it has been weeks and weeks on end of blistering heat, that has made almost any type of outdoor activity totally unbearable.

but looking at the online weather report tomorrow will be in the high 20s, going down to 24 later in the week. there has also been rain predicted. oh, blessed rain!!!!! not that i'm getting my hopes up. we've been told this before and it normally amounts to about 30 minutes of light drizzle, but right now i think we're all prepared to take what we can get. BRING IT ON!!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

easter cakes

hurrah! the tired, grumpy BHG of yesterday is gone. and in her place (aside from filthy kitchen) is a lovely array of easter cupcakes, which will be the take home prizes after tonight's round dinner party.

I adapted the cake recipe from the february CCH entry from the cupcakery. i altered it a little to suit what i had at home, so this is how i did it:

hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
125g butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup frangelico
200ml cream
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chocolate chips, or cooking chocolate finely chopped (yes, you read right 2 cups!)
1 cup chopped hazelnuts

1. place flour, sugars, baking powder and butter in a bowl and beat until nearly combined, and butter is clumped into small pieces.

2. add the egg, vanilla and frangelico. what there's only a little frangelico in the bottle. may as well drink it. mmmmmm.....

3. add the cream and enough milk to form a droppable batter.

4. fold in the nuts and the chocolate pieces

5. spoon into paper lined trays (this batter made about 18 big cakes for me) and bake at 180 degrees for approx 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. cool complete on a rack before icing.

i totally made up the icing, again to suit what i had in the fridge... still to hot to go to the shops.

1.in a large bowl mix 260g icing sugar with 125 softened cream cheese.

2. over a double boiler melt 160gm milk chocolate with 60gm butter, until just melted. cool a little and add to sugar and cream cheese.

this made a fairly thick icing, but that's ok because i wanted to draw the bunnies, and eggs and chicks (yes, that's what they are) on the top. i did this with a wiltons gliter icing pen.

these cakes are very moist, i guess from the cream, and very rich with all of that chocolate. i really chose this because i had a lot of hazelnuts in the pantry, but i'm sure i'll use this recipe again.

i was a bit doubtful about wasting all that frangelico on cake batter. i ate one of the cakes straight out of the oven, while the chocolate was still melted, and you couldn't taste it at all. this morning the flavour is stronger, but i'm wondering if hazelnut oil wouldn't give the same result. then there'd be more frangelico for me! hurrah!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

don't mock me!

this month i decided to join kate at the clean plate club, for the cookie carnival. in australia we don't have cookies, we have biscuits (JC the chocolate queen will argue this one black and blue with me however), so this is my biscuit entry for this month.

i would like to start by saying that the results of this baking enterprise are in no way a reflection of kate, the clean plate club or cookie carnival (or biscuit bivouac - i'll come up with a better name), in any way, shape or form. the results can rest only with me.

it was a total and utter failure.

but let's start with the recipe. raspberry swirl biscuits (makes approx 2 doz)

ingredients
2 cups self raising flour
1tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn salt
125g butter, room temp
1 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 coconut flakes
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

  • beat the butter and sugar together until creamy
  • beat in the egg and vanilla
  • sift in the flour, salt and baking power and beat until moist clumps form
  • gather the dough into a ball on the bench top. flatten and shape into a rectangle
  • wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight if you like)
  • remove from fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface.
  • mix jam and coconut together and spread over dough
  • roughly chop the walnuts and sprinkle over the top
  • roll dough up along the long edge, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 30 minutes
  • unwrap the log, discard the ends and cut the remaining dough into 2cm rounds
  • place cut sides down, 3cm apart on trays covered with baking paper
  • bake for approx 20 minutes at 180 degrees, or until golden on the bottom
yes, sounds so easy doesn't it. that's what i thought too.

i'm not sure if my dough was too cold, or too warm, or do dry or too sodding something, but it all crumbled and broke apart. i didn't so much roll it up as fold it over. i must say they taste much better than they look.

you know that bit in elephant man, when he says "i am not an animal.." they look a bit like that.

the photo doesn't help. it's too late, i'm too tired and it's still too bloody hot here for me to muck about with lighting so they look very dried out (as an aside i'd like you all to note the article about the heat i've linked to is from thursday. today is saturday).

on a cheerier note, i also made some cupcakes tonight. i don't have the right ingredients for the icing, so i'll let you know about that, and sunday's round dinner party tomorrow. that's right. round dinner party

damn you etsy! damn you to hell!

the trouble with etsy is you go in, casually having a look around. nothing i want here, nor here. no, no, there will be no shopping for little BHG today. then BAM it hits you - the item that you absolutely will die withoutbut they only ship to america and norway (???). how will i live with out a nervous robot tshirt? can my life possibly ever have meaning now?

of course if you live in america - or norway - you can go to dogbone art's shop on etsy and have all the nervous robot tshirts you like.

think of us here down under... ...

... ... bereft of robot tshirts... ...

.....the toast one is great too!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

我有汉字

after months of fartarsing around, i have finally worked out how to turn the characters on on my new PC.

if only my chinese were better and i really had something i could write about!

you have no idea how exciting this is for me. i really must get out more.

brown paper packages

not tied up with strings unfortunately, but can there be any greater happiness than coming home from work and finding a package waiting on the doorstep.

obviously when i was ordering my okervile river albums i wasn't paying too much attention, because two of them are vinyl. but this is OK, because my turntable is in the study, right next to my computer, so while i BHG (or write essays for uni) i can listen to these, and then have two for the CD player in the bedroom.

i have been spending far too much money on line recently. if this does not stop, i won't be able to afford my trip to turkey in september. this would be bad, real bad!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

egg fried rice

mum came for lunch today and i made egg fried rice, which is ironic because my chinese lesson today was on expressing likes and dislikes and one of the people in the dialogue didn't like fried rice because it was too expensive (wo bu xihuan chi danchaofan, yinwei shi hen gui le)

i think it's cheap as chips. mine had egg in it (actually it was just the egg yolks left over from making marshmallow), but on the whole it was dumpling fried rice. when i was at the markets yesterday doing some food shopping i was in one of the chinese stores buying ginger and i had a sudden craving for chaofan - fried rice. i remembered i had some rice in the freezer. then when i got home i realised i had some dumpling filling too. jiaozi, or dumplings, are just one of my favourite things to eat, but i thought i'd put the filling in the rice.

really fried rice is just a good way to get rid of left overs, but here's a recipe anyway.

fried rice
  • a quantity of left over rice, either from the fridge or freezer. freshly cooked rice won't work
  • ginger and garlic finely chopped/grated
  • spring onions finely sliced, with the white and green sections kept separately
  • some sort of meat - left over dumpling filling (pork and cabbage), or bacon or ham or prawns or chicken or pork meat, or these things in any combination
  • a selection of vegetables, beansprouts, carrot and capsicum are my favourite, evenly diced. frozen peas just left to defrost on the bench are really really good
  • dried chinese mushrooms, soaked/cooked according to the instructions
  • egg, beaten
  • sauces/flavourings

cook the egg first. you'll need a hot wok (woks should always be hot), with a little vegetable oil in the bottom. pour in the beaten egg and swirl to cover the sides of the wok. it should then be thin enough that it cooks almost instantly. either remove as pancake and slice, or i just pull it down into the centre of the wok and cut it with my stiry-thing.

wipe the wok clean and re-oil. add the aromatics - ie the garlic, ginger and spring onions (white sections only). if you're using chili, this would be the place to put it in. i like to use a sauce that has beef flavours, blackbean and chili in it. my circle of friends call it stern lady sauce, because - well the lady on the label looks very stern
really i think it is some sort of 'auntie's home style cooking' type of brand. look for one's with stickers on the side in english because there are lots of different types. this one is normally called 'beef and blackbean'.

sorry, i'm getting distracted. you've cooked your egg, and now have your garlic, ginger, onion and stern lady in the wok. it should all sizzle and spit when you put them in, or you don't have the wok hot enough. once these have browned off a bit, add the meat that you're using and get it well cooked, because the rest will happen fairly quickly.

add your vegetables. they should be cut to an appropriate size so that they all cook at the same time (the beansprouts and peas will go in the end because they just need heating through). stir until these are cooked.

add the rice with some liquid. i tend to use a bit of shaoshing rice wine and a little soy. be careful not to make it too salty!!! once the rice has heated through and softened up a bit stir though the peas, sprouts and the cooked egg. use the green section of the spring onion raw, as a garnish. a little coriander would also be nice.

the total cooking time should be under 5 minutes, depending on the meat you've chosen (my was raw, if it's leftover cooked meat you could do this in about 3 minutes). the prep time is longer because you need to slice everything, but if you have it ready it's a good thing to make when you have people coming over because you only need to be away from the table for a few minutes. mmmmmm... danchaofan!

PS. you should never, ever clean a wok by putting in a sink full of water. wipe it down in a wet cloth, try to avoid detergent unless it really needs it (i cooked salt and pepper squid in my yesterday which required a little). use a brush for any stubborn bits. then dry it by placing it back on the heat. a good wok as the oil of all the dishes that have gone before coating it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

she knows my name

OMG! Joy the Baker left a comment on my site. it's just like being at high school and having the cute year 12 boy ask you what the time was, and all you could think was 'he noticed me'!

joy is a total legend. if you haven't checked out her site, you may very well die unfulfilled. and we're the same star sign.... oh my god, it is just like being at high school!!!!

mallow madness

this month the gang-of-three chose marshmallow as the theme for cupcake hero (hereafter known as CCH). from what i can gather marshmallow is very much associated with easter in the states. there also appear to be something called peeps. they look very..errrrr... wholesome.

when i was growing up, my mum's best friend's daughter was lactose intolerant, so she got marshmallow at easter. i remember one easter camping trip at loxton where she got a enormous marshmallow rabbit.

but really i don't think marshmallow is as popular in australia. i've certainly never even thought about making it before! so when marshmallow was announced i had a lot of trouble trying to come up with an idea. as you'll see below i had more than one shot at making the marshmallow, with varying degrees of success. my original idea was to do basically what i've done, but then make mini marshmallow balls to go on top and glue them together with dulce de leche. however i didn't cook the milk for long enough and it didn't thicken properly, and then my first batch of marshmallow didn't set properly and i threw my hands in the air.

these are actually better than i thought they would be. the gooiness of the marshmallow in the centre is a nice counter to these cakes which are quite rich. the cake recipe came from my own cupcake hero JC, who assures me that anyone who uses only cocoa in their cake batter, without actual chocolate, has no idea what they're talking about. JC is haigh's best customer and when she talks chocolate i listen, so i can but assume this advice is sound.

anyway, here is my entry, along with quite a few photos. i'm trying to get better at the picture taking, which i'm not that great at right now, compounded by the fact i have the darkest kitchen this side of hades. but i'm learning a few tricks.

i got the marshmallow recipe from the fantastic clotilde at chocolate and zucchini. clotilde posts in both french and english, because she is european and generally smarter than us anglophones. i try to read her posts in french as much as i can. i made the marshmallow (guimauve) according to her recipe last weekend and had a play around with it. the rose water once is very very nice, and i will be using it for something, somewhere, but it didn't have the right flavour for these cakes. the chocolate one was very nice too, but didn't quite set properly. maybe i used too much water. it'd be interesting to try this in vanilla cakes (maybe next weekend). today, this is how i did

guimauve a la clotilde
14g sheet gelatin
40g glucose or corn syrup
230g caster sugar
3 egg whites.

mix the syrup and sugar with about 90ml of water and put on the heat. once just boiled, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes. while the sugars are cooking soak the gelatin in cold water. after the 8 minutes, remove the gelatin from the water, squeeze the suckers as dry as you can and stir into the hot sugar mix.


while all of this is cooling a little, whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks.

make sure that the sugar syrup has cooled a little, and slowly pour into the eggs in a constant stream, whilst whisking, and continue until the mix has cooled to about room temperature. i must admit i've never been very good at this kind of thing. i'm just not coordinated enough to pour and whisk at the same time, i just do as well as i can and hope for the best.

it looks very glossy and smooth at the end, but if you stick your finger in it to taste, which i would neeeeeever do, it's got the fluffy consistency of marshmallow.
i just left this in the bowl to cool. it started to set remarkably quickly (i have the air conditioning on high at the moment). so about 30 minutes after i started on the cakes.

chocolate cupcakes
100g dark chocolate
100ml milk
30g cocoa powder
100g butter at room temp
115g caster sugar
2 eggs
150g self raising flour

over a double boiler, heat the dark chocolate (i got some extra scrummy belgian chocolate from goodies and grains), cocoa powder and milk, not letting the top pan touch the water - i just use a pyrex jug over a saucepan. sir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted.

now, this is a very important bit. without this the whole cake mixture will be a failure: do not eat the melted chocolate straight out of the jug. it is for the cake, not you! let it cool a little while you get on with the rest.

in a large mixing bowl cream the butter and the sugar. in a pique of disorganisation i failed to take the butter out of the fridge. luckily the extreme heat we've been experiencing recently made it soften easily when left on the outdoor table for 15 minutes. then add the eggs one at a time, combine each one as you go. add the chocolate mix and combine well before folding in the flour in two batches, using a metal spoon.


spoon the mix into a 12 hole cake tin lined with large papers. cook at 180 degrees for 15-20 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. cool the cakes in the tray.

once they've cooled a little, cut a hole in the top of each cake, scoop out some of the cake and spoon in some of the marhsmallow mix. if you make the cake and the marshmallow all in one go, the marshmallow should be just the right consistency to spoon in. piping it would probably give a better result, but if you're like me you're too lazy to clean the bag twice in one day!
icing
200g icing sugar
100g cream cheese

no rocket science here folks, simply mix the sugar and the fat. i added a splash of vanilla essence to help it along.

needless to say there is a huge amount of sugar here, so one cake at a time is plenty. i unfortunately put the wrong nozzle in my piping bag and didn't realise until i'd filled it, so the icing looks a bit patchy.

overall i will forgive you ladies if i don't get the tshirt this month. but one day it will be mine, all mine (insert evil laugh here)

oh my sweet freaking lord

i know things have been a little sleepy on BHG recently. this is partly because of work, but also because of play. i've been out quite a bit recently doing things at the Adelaide Fringe. I have also been buying a ridiculous number of tshirts online.

it's an addiction, i need help!

speaking of which, it's currently 5.30 in the pm in my sleepy little home town. and no wonder it's sleepy, because it's still nearly 40 degrees outside. what else can you do but sleep?

for those from a slightly more northern orientation, this is nearly 105 degrees fahrenheit. and we've days of it to come yet. i get the impression that there are some northerners (it's grim oop north you know) read this, because i have that lovely little map on my site that lets me know where the clicks are coming from.

so, i'm dying to know: this site hasn't been around long - are you reading this, or do you click on some google result looking for something else and then navigate away quickly, thinking Oh my God, this woman is mad? either way, leave me a comment and let me know. i'm a gemini, i'm terribly curious you know.....

but of course what am i doing in the heat? i'm baking. this month's CCH challenge is marshmallow. this has flummoxed me a little and tonight i'm experimenting, so expect some results tomorrow.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

restless

i am restless tonight. i wish i had a tv. then i could just watch something mindless. i could go out, but i have a tin of condensed milk simmering on my stove, and i'm guessing it wouldn't be a good idea to leave it.

at any rate, the event that is going to take place in my uterus very soon is making me rather grump and willing to eat ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. i can not tell you how much i want icecream right now.

i did make myself kali dahl for dinner tonight, which was lovely and rich and creamy and smooth. i love dahl, it is one of life's ultimate comfort foods.

kali dahl
take 250g black urad beans and place them in a heavy based saucepan with 8 cups of water. bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour, or until beans feel soft when pressed between your fingers

drain the dahl, but retain the water

put a roughly chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a 1cm piece of ginger into a food processor to make a paste (or if you're some weird stubborn tattooed chick who knows damn well that 21st century gadgets like this are all just part of some capitalist plot to make us all slaves to 'the man' and dominate our actions in order to further the aims of the world's oil cartels - ie you're me - and you don't have a food processor chop all vegetables finely with a sharp knife). good thing 'the man' isn't around, because my sharp knife is still on the bench. that'd show them. no good capitalist swines, i'll ...... sorry where was i? oh yes, the dahl.

anyhoo fry your vegetables in a little hot oil until they're golden and lovely. add 2 tspn of each ground cumin and coriander. add the beans back to the pan with about 1.5 cups of the water they were cooked in. stir through a teaspoon of garam masala and half a teaspoon of chili powder.

simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, then add about 100ml of cream and allow to heat through before serving with some bread or something, or meat or stuff. don't ask me complicated questions today!!!