Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday when Reuben got home from school one of the first things he asked me, aside from the standard "what's for dinner tonight?", was "is there any baking?". That's the problem with being on a diet. While I bake when I go to work knowing that the baking is out of the house and therefore out of my sight and reach, baking for home comes to an almost standstill. So today I thought I would make something for the boys to have when they get home from school. After asking them what they wanted, to which a whole lot of ideas came forth, I decided upon these biscuits which I'm sure will fit the brief of being a biscuit, something chocolate and something really yummy!

And these are yummy! Too yummy I think! Not only are they easy to make but they are decadently rich, very chocolatey and totally moreish so pretty much perfect for someone who is trying to do WW. Nigella describes as being chocolately to the point of madness and she is right. Although Nigella only gets 12 cookies out of this recipe, I got 27 so hers must be massive because mine were pretty generously sized too. Here they are waiting to be baked...

So give these a go as they are well worth the point sacrifice and you will be a top favourite with all those people who get to eat one..or two.

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (Nigella Lawson 'Nigella Express')

125g dark chocolate (I used 62%)
150g flour
1 tsp baking soda
30g cocoa sieved
125g soft butter (I used salted)
75g brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cold egg
350g dark chocolate bits

Oven to 170 C.

Melt the dark chocolate and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add the melted chocolate and mix.

Beat in the vanilla and the egg then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir through the chocolate bits.

Spoon onto a lined baking tray but do not flatten.

Bake about 20 mins then cool on a rack.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nigella's Blondies

Finally for the last thing I made for work the other day. This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's book 'Kitchen'. One of my favourite things about Nigella is the way she writes before each recipe. Her take on these made me laugh out loud as she explains that some people might say these are not proper blondies because of the dark chocolate chips (well mine were milk chocolate as this was all I had). Her excuse was that we all know that outside of Scandinavia, there is no such thing as a natural blonde over 24 years. Therefore these with the dark chocolate bits are just the "Blondies showing their roots". Sorry to you blondes out there but I think she may have a point....


200g oats (not instant)- I didn't use the jumbo ones
100g flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
150g soft butter
100g brown sugar
1 can condensed milk
1 egg
170g dark chocolate chips or bits

Oven to 180C and line a tin with baking paper.

Combine the oats, flour and soda in a bowl.

In another bowl beat the butter with the sugar until it is soft and pale then add the condensed milk followed by the oats, flour and soda. Mix well then add the egg, then fold in the chocolate.

Put into the tin and bake about 30 mins. When it is ready it will be quite a pronounced gold around the edges and coming away from the tin. It will look and feel cooked in the tin but will also be quite squidgy. Mine was a little overcooked but it still tasted good.

Baking for Dayshift- Dulce De Leche Bundt Cake

For my long day shift on Saturday I made this cake which was again from The Food Librarian's blog. It was, I think day 17 of her 30 day challenge which was to make 30 Bundt's in 30 days. I could never do this challenge as aside from not having the time, even I wouldn't have the inclination. BUT I do admire her tenacity and her recipes so I'm very happy that someone did this challenge. 

For the Saturday when I took it to work I dusted it with icing sugar which made it look more pretty as this cake doesn't look like much as it cools on the rack. I love all things caramel and I would put it right up there with my favourite flavours...along with vanilla, chocolate and lemon... actually citrus. The beauty of this recipe, aside from how easy it was to whip up, is that instead of going through the whole palaver of boiling a can of condensed milk for hours hoping all the while that it doesn't explode, is that you can now buy the condensed milk already caramelised. Three quarters of the can is added to the cake mix and the other quarter is put in a tunnel around the cake which means when you cut it you get a bit of just the caramel. Is there anything better than that if you are a caramel lover? 

I really liked the cake and it had a lovely texture which is no doubt due to the buttermilk. I think it would have been even better with a bit more caramel but with some softly whipped cream I think it's pretty dam good. If you want to make it you can find the recipe here. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baking for Dayshift- Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake

I have just finished 3 long day shifts which is a little bit like torture for someone like me who really prefers to work night shifts. The one advantage to them is that today I don't feel like my head is on another planet as I live my day is a sleepless, post night shift haze...actually I'm sure the boys will also say the other advantage is that I'm far less likely to be grumpy by the afternoon when the real exhaustion hits and I can barely say a word! So because I was going to be out of the house from 8am to 9.30-10pm each day I knew that I would have to bake on the day before the shifts started. I made enough for the Friday and the Saturday as I really didn't want the baking to be sitting around for too long before it was eaten so therefore Sunday missed out. 

On the Wednesday I decided to bite the bullet and buy a proper Nordic Ware Bundt tin. I have wanted one for ages and I know from previous experience that the cheaper versions just don't work. I was looking for the classic Bundt tin but for some reason no one is bringing them into the country so the choice is very limited. I ended up finding the Bavaria one but I do have my eye on the chrysanthemum one too. The price you pay is well worth it as I had no problems getting the cake out of the tin looking so beautiful although I also used Wilton's cake release just to make sure. 

One of the blogs I follow had her making 30 bundts in 30 days. Aside from the admiration I had in her ability to do so, she also made some delicious-sounding cakes (as well as a couple of savoury options too). Therefore the recipes I used were from her blog as she is clearly quite an expert in making bundt cakes. This one for the Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake is apparently her most favourite recipe. I can see why. The cake itself has a beautiful soft texture and a really lovely flavour with the cinnamon added giving it a whole new dimension. It was my work offering for Friday and it really went down a treat. It does have buttermilk in it which I think really helped with the cakes texture. I did ice it with a chocolate ganache but I really think this cake speaks for itself and doesn't need the icing to sing. Aside from all that it was extremely easy to make and all you need is a pot and a bowl so there is no excuse for not trying this could bake it in a normal tin too if you don't have a bundt tin.

You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Its been awhile... but good things come to those who wait...

I feel like it has been ages since I last posted something. I haven't really had all that much time to bake with all that has been going on AND I finally took the plunge and joined up with WW online. I have done it before and I know it works so rather than let those 5-6 kg I need to lose become 10-12 kg, I need to act now. It's so annoying that to do something you love so much (baking) can be so costly! Mind you I also love food so it isn't just the baking if I'm to be honest. However I will still bake for work as that means I get to have the pleasure of doing the baking and can quickly find a home for it before I get to indulge in it...not that I do eat a lot of my own baking but it's best to not have temptation lying around beckoning to me! Today was lovely as I got to bake a few things. It made me remember how much of a relaxation tool baking is for me. I love the whole process from the finding of the recipe to the process of making it to getting the final product out of the oven. The other day I invested in a bundt tin. They are pretty pricey for a baking tin but I know I'll have it for years to come and I used some of the money I got for my birthday to buy it as a lovely gift to myself (weird I know to buy a baking tin for my birthday BUT it's what gives me pleasure...). I was also inspired by a baking blog I follow which I'll post a link to when I do the recipes later and used a couple of her recipes. I made for work tomorrow a Chocolate and Cinnamon Bundt cake; a Nigella recipe for Blondies; and finally tonight a Dulce De Leche Bundt cake for work on Saturday. I am about to start 3x 13 hour day shifts and as the unit is crazy-busy I thought we would need a welcome respite from all the work. Anyway I'll post about these shortly as I have run out of time for that tonight. But I'll leave you with a couple of photos I just took of Reuben and the other 2 boys in our lives Archie and Louis...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rice Noodle Salad with Stirfried Pork and Chilli Omelette

Last night for dinner I really felt like something light bu tasty. I have made this salad many times and it fits the bill on both accounts. The recipe is from Ray McVinnie's cookbook 'The Modern Cook'. Ray McV is well known for his clean flavours and uncomplicated but lovely food. I have been to many of his cooking classes in the past and he is also a fantastic teacher who has a HUGE wealth of knowledge. He is one of the judges on NZ Masterchef which just adds to his well known profile. This recipe is really quite Vietnamese in flavour. The salad is cold but the omelette has a bit of heat to it and the pork is warm and very tasty. Together it is a flavour sensation...even the boys love it. I add whatever I want to the salad part. Last night the vegetables I added were mung bean sprouts, carrot and cucumber but in the past I have used asapargus, snowpeas, beans so it's up to you really. I really urge you to try this as you won't be disappointed.

Rice Noodle Salad with Stirfried Pork and Chilli Omelette


1 spring onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 eggs
2 small dried chillis
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Lightly beat everything together and make an omelette. Once it is cool, slice it thinly and set aside.

Noodle Salad

250 gm rice noodles (either flat ones or vermicelli)
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into cubes
I carrot, peeled and then peeled into ribbons or julienned
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Any other vegetable you want s above but not too much
grated zest of 1 lemon
chopped, roasted and unsalted peanuts (about 75 gm)
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp caster sugar
1 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp peanut oil
4 Tbsp rice vinegar

Cook the rice noodles but be careful to not overcook them. Soak them in hot water first before briefly cooking them in boiling water. Cool under running cold water (this also stops them from sticking into a gloopy mass). Put into a bowl with the vegetables, garlic and lemon. Mix the fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and oil together and pour over the noodle salad.


2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
400 gm pork fillet, sliced thinly across the grain
3 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar

Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and ginger. Cook briefly then add the pork, fish sauce and sugar and stirfry over a high heat until the pork is cooked through and the mixture is dry and well browned.

Serve the hot pork over the top of the salad with the omelette sprinkled over. Sprinkle over the peanuts, some chopped fresh coriander and some fresh chopped mint (and basil if you want).

Baking for Nightshift- Feijoa Upside-Down Cake

For night shift on Monday night I wanted to make something using some of the delicious feijoas we had managed to get from under the trees when we were up at Leigh over the weekend. Without a doubt feijoas are my most favourite fruit and Ever since I had seen this recipe in the Ripe cookbook I have been waiting for Autumn to come and for the feijoas to start coming. It's basically a ginger cake with feijoas on top. I used way more than the recipe stated and because of that it wasn't as pretty as it could have been if they were more spaced out. It did, however, taste really lovely especially with the generous amount of feijoas I had put on top. I also took in some lightly whipped cream to have with it as it is the kind of cake that just screams out for some cream or nice yoghurt on the side. You can substitute the feijoas for pears, bananas or even tinned pineapple. Unfortunately as I was running out the door I grabbed my container which promptly came apart tipping the cake onto the bench as I hadn't clipped in properly. I did the best I could to put it back together and took it to work anyway. I did make it look even more ugly but I figured that it would still taste the same anyway.

Feijoa Upside-Down Cake

Oven to 170 C. Line the base and grease a 23 cm tin with baking paper.


50 gm butter
1/2 c brown sugar
6 large feijoas peeled and sliced thinly. Toss in lemon juice to stop from browning.

Melt the buter and sugar together until the sugar has melted. Pour into the base of the prepared tin. Arrange the feijoas nicely in the tin. 


50 gm butter
1/2 c caster sugar
1 egg
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 c golden syrup
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp grd ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c warm milk (it doesn't say this in the recipe but I think it would make the cake lighter)

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, golden syrup and lemon juie and mix to combine.

Sift together the flour and spices. Dissolve the soda in the milk. Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately to the butter mix starting and finishing with the dry. Mix until combined. 

our over the feijoas carefully and bake 30-40 minutes. Cool in the tin. Before serving run a knife around the edge of the tin and tip it onto a plate (make sure you put the plate over the tin to tip it or else there will be a mess).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Wedding!

Last weekend on Saturday we got a new sister-in-law when Dons little brother Marcel got married to the very lovely Rebecca...or Bex as well know her as. It was held up at the Leigh Sawmill Cafe which for those of you who don't know or live in Auckland, is about an hour and 1/4 drive away. They had booked out all the accommodation up there so the whole place was filled with family and friends for the day and night. It as great to not have to drive anywhere either which meant that we were able to drink alcohol and not have a designated driver.

It was a  magical and fantastic day filled with family and friends, lots of laughs and wonderful experiences. Marc and the groomsmen looked very handsome and Bex looked stunning as did the bridesmaids. Harry was one of the pageboys and 3 of his other cousins flowergirls. Of course Harry took his role very seriously and did all that was expected of him...and looked so gorgeous doing it. I think there is nothing like seeing your son in a suit for the first time! The day was a stunning sunny day as well so it really could not have been more perfect. All the little details had been thought of to make the whole day unforgetable. The food was delicious and there was plenty of it as well as singing for Marc and Bex from his side of the family and an amazing Haka performed by the boys and men of the family. The kids all ran in a 'feral' mob and had an absolute ball. In fact we had to drag Harry away from dancing and playing to go to bed at 1130pm. No wonder we were all so tired the next day especially as we had been going from early that morning and drinking bubbly from the early afternoon!

Our gift for Marc and Bex was the wedding cake. Talk about stressful! The stress is mostly in knowing that it is for such an important occasion and the desire for it to be perfect is huge. However I think it turned out pretty well. The top and bottom tiers were chocolate with a ganache and the middle tier was banana and coconut with a passionfruit buttercream. I did have a couple of 'moments'...well actually tears and tantrums when after night shift and having no sleep, I couldn't get the fondant to stop tearing when I put it onto the cake. As I was running out of Ivory coloured fondant I was panicking that the cake would be a disaster. I tried a different method of rolling the fondant and putting it onto the cake, (also known as the 'Wilton-way') which finally worked really well. As well as that I was worried that it wouldn't stack well with the porportions or look like I thought/planned it to look. I needn't have worried as it all worked out pretty well in the end. In fact I think it looked really beautiful so all I needed to do was ignore the mistakes only I could see and be glad that things worked out and that they loved it. So thanks to May Clee-Cadman whose book had this design in it with clear instructions on what was needed for this cake.

Anyway here are loads of photos from the day starting with the cake...

Using the nostalgia effect on my camera

Reuben and Harry all ready

Grayson, Elise and Harry (page boys and one of the 3 flower girls)
Harlan, Grayson and Harry the wonderful 3 page boys
About to go feral...
Marcel and his nephew Faran who married them
Jules looking lovely (Dons older sister)
Bros-in-law Kiwi, Dion and Gavin
Marc and nephew Jack
Dion and Dons
Getting married
Odelle (maid of honor), Chelsea and Anna (bridesmaids)
David and Soon (groomsmen) and best man James (Jim)
It's done!
Tarn (sis-in-law) and Billy (bro-in-law)
Denis, Faran, Monique, Barbara (mother of the bride) and Daniel
Lawerence (Bex dad), Sarah, Bex grandparents, Tim (Bex Brother), Sarah (his wife)
Ce-Ce singing Ave Maria all on her own
Proud mum and dad moment after Ce-ce's song
Dons and I
Cake and candle lit for remembrance of those who have passed on
Bex great speech
Dion and Jen (in-laws) after the haka performed by all the boys/men
Jack after doing the haka
Cutting the cake
Dons and I before the wedding
Reubs and I before the wedding