Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Baking for Nightshift- Lemon Yoghurt Cake

Even though I have done nothing but bake for the last few weeks, yesterday while I was in the middle of night shift I really felt as if I was being pulled towards the kitchen. I felt the need for relaxation and as I am an 'active relaxer', baking something for work seemed like the logical option. For Christmas I was lucky enough to get 2 books that had been on my list to get. They were the new Donna Hay book called 'Fast, Fresh, Simple' and the new 'Ripe Recipes' from one of my favourite deli's. My aunt also gave me an Amazon voucher as well which I happily used to buy 4 new cookbooks...but more on those when they arrive! Both of my new books are wonderful and I have spent lots of time perusing them and determined to start cooking from them. Unfortunately I suffer from too-many-cookbooks-and-cooking-magazines-syndrome as I'm sure a lot of you can identify with, and therefore can get a little overwhelmed by the amount of recipes I want to try. This can lead to not making them at all or very few of them! I had spotted this recipe in the Donna Hay book and it seemed like the perfect cake to make in a sleep deprived and dehydration headache state as everything is just put into a book and that that. The cake itself tasted really good. It had a tight crumb and a lovely moist texture. The lemon flavour was there but next time I would put in even more rind as I love lemons. I also made a lemon syrup to pour on top even thought the recipe had a sugar and lemon juice topping. It would be good served with lemon curd and yoghurt but I whipped up some cream and took that along to have with it. It seemed to go down well though and I will be making this again.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

3/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 Tbsp (20 ml) lemon rind
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 c thick plain yoghurt
1 3/4 c caster sugar
2 c self raising flour

Oven to 180 C.

Grease a 24 cm fluted tin or else a 23 cm tin (and line if you are using this tin).

Mix the oil, eggs, rind, juice, sugar and yoghurt together and sift over the flour stirring until smooth.

Bake about 40 mins.

Pour over a syrup (made from lemon juice and caster sugar heated until sugar is dissolved) while it is still warm.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stained Glass Jelly for Christmas Day

One of the blogs I follow had a post for this Jelly. My children LOVE jelly and in fact, I do too. You can use whatever colours you want depending on the occasion. I know I should have gone with the Christmas theme of red and green but I couldn't resist going to multi-coloured. It is very easy and I think for the effect it's well worth making again. it is quite sweet but with some icecream or cream it would be pretty good. You can also cut out squares and put them into cupcake liners if you were presenting them as part of a dessert platter. The next one I want to try is the coffee jello which is apparently like the Vietnamese style of making coffee with condensed milk in it. Great for a hot day when you need that coffee but it's too hot to make one.

Stained Glass Jell-O

4 packets of jelly in whatever colour you like (I always use Greggs)
1 tin of condensed milk
4 1/2 tsp gelatin (or 2 packets)

Make each jelly up in only 1 c of boiling water and set in a shallow containers (not a bowl).

Once it is set cut into squares.

In a separate bowl 'bloom' the gelatin in 1/2 c cold water, then pour over 1 1/2 c boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add in the condensed milk and stir until melted. Cool right down or it will melt the jelly when you pour in it.

Take the squares of coloured jelly out of the containers and mix them carefully. I used my hands so the jelly didn't break up. Pour over the milk mixture and set in the fridge before cutting into squares. I lined my dish with cling film to make it easier to remove. 

Christmas Gifts From the Kitchen

This year I decided that some of the gifts I gave would be ones I made myself. This isn't an easy nor is it an inexpensive option but I love that it sends the message that you care enough about a person/people to want to make an effort to spend time making them a gift. It feels like I have spent days and days in the kitchen amounting to at least 2 1/2 weeks with the end of school, Harry's birthday and Xmas day. I must admit that I was almost over the kitchen and especially baking after Xmas... honestly!! This afternoon when I woke up, (I am in the middle of nights), with a headache and feeling really quite dopey I had a fortifying cup of tea and a couple of bikkies then I thought I would whip up a lemon yoghurt cake for tonight and voila headache gone and I now feel much better. Amazing to think a bit of baking can be so relaxing for me that it can even cure a headache!

Anyway back to the post about the Xmas gifts. For the neighbours this year I made this amazing slice called Rocky Road Slice. It is a Nigella Lawson recipe and is very easy to make for maximum deliciousness and effect. Everyone I know loves it and it can be very hard to stop at just one piece. The recipe will follow below.

Wrapped and ready for the nieghbours
Promise I hadn't eaten all this...well maybe just one piece!

Goodies for Maureen across the road
The obligatory Pecan Tarts for Helen- recipe can be found here.
Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread

White Chocolate, Apricot, Cointreau and Macadamia Truffles (Oops I see it says Pistachio...must have the Xmas exhaustion)

Dark Chocolate and Fresh Mint Truffles

Brandied Fruits, Prune and dark Chocolate Xmas Cake decorated by me

Hopefully you can see the edible glitter on the pretty.
I know I should have taken more photos but because I was busy making all of this as well as other things, I either forgot or just didn't have the time. George and Russ got the Xmas cake (a really lovely recipe from an old Dish magazine) which I covered in fondant and cut out fondant stars to decorate it. I also brushed over some really beautiful edible glitter which sparkled and twinkled in the light. They also got a box with homemade granola, hot cocoa mix blogged about here, the Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread, (found on the Foodlovers website), as well as both sets of truffles. 

I think the gifts went down well and they certainly looked impressive. I hope everyone else had a lovely Xmas day with lots of fantastic food.

Rocky Road Crunch Bars (Nigella Lawson 'Express')

125 gm butter
300 gm dark chocolate (I used Whittakers 62%)
3 Tbsp golden syrup
200 gm superwine biscuits, crushed so there are some crumbs as well as some bigger bits
100 gm mini marshmallows

Melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate in a pot. Once it's all smooth take out about a 1/2 cup of this and set it aside. Cool a little. Add the biscuits and marshmallows then tip into a lined tray (about 24 cm square). Push in as best you can with a spatula so it comes together. Pour over the reserved chocolate mixture and refrigerate. Slice when cold and dust with icing sugar.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day

Setting up for Santa

Giving Grandad his present

With the present Harry bought for Gandad from his own money

Remembering to read the card
Dad-am and George

Reubs (with hat-hair) and Archie in the morning

Nana Helen and Harry

Grandad with the dart board set up

Cousin Renee and Harry

Shaz (the boys aunty) and Helen 

Shaz, Helen, George and Russ

Archie waiting for his Xmas treat

Lunch...after the fact

The end of a lovely Xmas day up at George and Russell's beachhouse in Mahurangi with a beautiful sunset

Xmas day this year was up at George and Russell's beach house in Mahurangi. The day started out at 315am with a VERY excited Harry waking to see what Santa had brought him. Needless to say he was made to go back to sleep even though he managed to snore and still keep us awake before waking every so often to ask if Xmas had started yet. By about 6 am we gave up and so it began. Harry was beside himself with excitement and loved opening all of his presents. Reubs also loved it and there was paper everywhere. We had a lovely breakfast of Sabato pastries, fresh fruit, homemade granola and good yoghurt before George and I set to to finish off the Xmas lunch preparations. I'll blog about the food properly later on as I managed to get a couple of photos...not high on the list of priorities when you have lunch to prepare on top of a couple of glasses of bubbly! However in a nutshell we had.... glazed ham, boneless turkey stuffed with a cranberry stuffing, boneless leg of lamb done on the BBQ, potatoes roasted in duck fat, a really lovely roasted kumara and avocado salad, a fresh seafood salad, a 'red' salad and bread rolls. For dessert we had a chocolate and cherry trifle, pavlova with strawberries and blueberries, stained glass window jelly and a yule log. We also had homemade Xmas mince pies and pecan tarts too as well as plenty of bubbly and wine. So needless to say we were stuffed full. Thankfully the weather on the day improved after lunch as it had been a bit windy and overcast so we were able to have a swim in the pool and walk the dog. Overall a lovely Xmas day which would have been perfect if all the family had of been able to be there. 

As a quick aside Boxing day has been wonderful. Perfect hot and sunny weather with lots of swims in the pool, lazing around and eating leftovers with a obligatory trip to the Big Red Shed in Snell's Beach for the boys to spend some of their Xmas money. After a fair bit of drama from Harry with a bleeding tooth, it finally fell out! So this photo was taken after the tears over the blood.
Finally losing his other front tooth

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Whole Lot of Bits and Pieces- Family and Food

Well with the huge workload of things to do in the month before Christmas there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging. So this post is a whole lots of bits and pieces from all the stuff I have been up to lately with the family and, of course, in the kitchen. Hopefully this will make my friend Adelle at work happy as she keeps me on track to keep on making posts. Besides I could hardly sleep today because of the heat. We have finally lost the rain and are back to sunshine but the heat does make it hard to get any proper sleep. Therefore I have some time to blog...even though I'll pay for it tonight at work.

For Xmas this year I am making some homemade gifts. I won't post exactly what at this stage but I have also discovered some fantastic easy gifts to make. The first of these, which is not photographed as it is WAY too hot for it, is a Hot Cocoa Mix. THIS is a revelation I have seen it posted in a few blogs and have heard how delicious it is so thought I would whip some up. The blogs were right....this is amazing and puts bought hot chocolate mix to shame. I think I will really enjoy it when the weather gets colder.

The recipe is as follows:

Hot Cocoa Mix

1 1/2 c milk powder (I used low fat)
1 c icing sugar
3/4 c cocoa (Dutch processed would be good but I used garden variety Pams and it lovely too)
3/4 c white chocolate chips, drops or chopped white chocolate
1/8 tsp salt

Put it all into a food processor and whizz up. Store in jars. Mix in with hot milk for a divine hot chocolate.

For work last night I had really wanted to try a recipe I have seen for Caramel Crackers. There are a few different recipes out there, but I used the one from the latest Dish magazine to base mine on. I had heard how delicious these were but really DON'T make them if you don't have anyone else to share them with as they are moorish and extremely yummy. I kind of took a bit from here and there when making mine and ended up lightly sprinkling over some Fleur de Sel salt. 

Salted Caramel Crackers

225 gm butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Salada crackers
Chopped dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Line a shallow dish measuring about 22x32 cm with baking paper. Line with a single layer of crackers.

Melt the butter and sugar together in a pot and stir until it comes to a boil and is mixed in. Pour evenly over the crackers and put in the oven for 8-10 mins until the caramel is beginning to darken and bubbling all over. Mine took about 10 ins.

Remove for the oven and sprinkle over the chocolate. Wait for it to melt then spread with a spatula. Now you could sprinkle over chopped pistachios and chopped dried cranberries (or whatever else you want), or sprinkle over Fleur de Sel salt. I love the salty caramel flavour but make sure you don't use normal salt as it will taste awful.

Cut when it has started to cool and whatever you do, try to stay away form eating too much of it!

Other things I have made lately are a heap of cupcakes for Harry's last day at school as it was his birthday on the same day. I thought the class and teachers might like them and by all accounts they did. I have also made a carrot cake with cream cheese icing for my sisters-in-law Jules and tarn who also have their birthdays in December, as well as these delicious mocha chocolate chip biscuits (recipe to follow once I find it), the obligatory Christmas cake  from an old Dish magazine and other bits and pieces. Because it has been so frantic I keep forgetting to photograph my baking BUT I promise to be a bit more onto it from now on. I have lots to do for Xmas day as well as for the gifts I have planned so will blog about those as I make them. 

Mocha Chocolate Chip Biscuits
Some photos from over the last month....

The trophy Harry won last year for ballet

His name engraved on

With the trophy and the medal his group won at the show this year (in his PJ's by the way)

Last ballet class for the year

Trying on his suit for his pageboy gig when Uncle Marc and Aunty Bex get married in March

Handsome, beautiful boys

Jesse and Reubs...before you wonder where the photos's are of Reubs, it can be notoriously hard to get a teenager to pose!
Our cat Louis

Our dog Archie