Friday, October 28, 2011

Key Lime Pie

Harry with Bobby

In the tin
Last night was my step-fathers birthday dinner. He is from the Southern part of the USA so I wanted to make a dinner with that sort of influence. For dessert I remembered him telling me ages ago that Key Lime Pie was his favourite so I knew I had to make that for dessert. Having never made this before I really had no idea what it should have looked and tasted like. We don't get key limes here so I had to use normal limes (which are horrendously expensive at the moment). As well as that we don't have graham crackers here so I had to use wholemeal digestive biscuits which apparently are quite similar to them. This was a really easy recipe to make and I have to say it tasted pretty good too. While I would have liked to pipe the whipped cream on top so it looked pretty I ran out of time so it just spread on. Excuse the photos too but I didn't have time to zhoosh the pie up so had to quickly snap a couple as best I could. This pie is so good. I would really recommend it. Bobby said it tasted just like it should which was music to my ears!

If you want the recipe go here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kiwi Day Out

Harry and Cousin Hollie

Samoan Group

Fun in the free bouncy castle


Would no 1 hip hop group called ???

The Museum in the distance

Dons and I

Patea Maori Club

Australian Idol KIWI Stan Walker (he was amazing especially having just got off a plane)

Waving to the camera

Harry and Aunty Tarn

Hols and Tam
Just a few photos from the great day out we had on Labour day at the Kiwi Day Out. The kids had a fantastic time and ate far too many free ice did we! The day was lovely and crowd very family-focused. Thanks Fonterra...BUT cheaper milk still would have been better!!!!

Black Forest Brownies

Tonight is my Texan step father's birthday and he and my mum (and my dad) are coming here for dinner. I needed to have something that was easy to make as I have to get the boys from school and Harry has piano afterwards meaning we will be later home than usual. As well as that I wanted something with an American vibe so finally settled on Pulled Pork which has a spiced rub all over it and is cooked in the crockpot. It's meant to be mixed into some BBQ sauce and you have it on rolls but I'll see how it goes once it's cooked. I have also made a potato salad and a coleslaw to have with it as it seems like it's more of a BBQ/summer kind of dish. For dessert I have made Bobby's favourite (well at least I think it is), of Key Lime Pie. I'll post about this later. I also wanted to have a 'back up' sweet thing in case the pie is no good so whipped these decadent babies up last night. 

I first saw this recipe on a Kiwi blog I really like called Baking Makes Things Better. What appealed the most was that it used an entire block of Cadbury's Black forest chocolate. Now I went off Cadbury's chocolate when the whole palm sugar/recipe change fiasco happened and straight onto Whittaker's, but I have to say this Black Forest flavour rather rocks my boat...even now! I think it's those little chewy jelly bits which does it the most for me. So the idea of a dense and rich brownie using these flavours sounded pretty good to me. This recipe did NOT disappoint. The end result is a rich, fudgy and delicious brownie which is very easy to make and I know everyone will like it tonight.

If you want to make it here is the link to the recipe.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chocolate Lamingtons

Yesterday my lovely friend Michele came over for lunch and a catch up. She also came to photograph Harry in ballet-action so watch for some of those in a later post. Michele is probably my oldest friend as we were best friends at school together...good old St Mary's College. Although we lost contact for awhile after school we reconnected some years later and pretty much picked up where we left off. Michele is an AMAZING photographer and artist. She just has 'that' eye. Harry was thrilled to be the subject of a 'photo-shoot' and did not hold back offering various ballet poses and suggestions. I know the photos will look fantastic. 

Anyway I wanted to make something yummy for lunch and our catch up. As I have said before in other posts, I have a bit of a cookbook addiction. Unfortunately, (or luckily depending on how you look at it), at this time of year loads of cookbooks are released obviously to catch the pre-Christmas rush. Because of this I have happened to get the new Annabel Langbein book 'The Free Range Cook in the City' as well as Julie Le Clerc's new book 'Favourite Cakes'. I'm almost embarrassed to also admit to a few purchases from Amazon too.... anyway I digress! Annabel Langbein is my most favoutite cook. As such I have all of her books (except the basic 'Anyone Can Cook/Bake' books) so was really excited when this one was finally released. It does not disappoint. I have already made quite a few recipes from it and ended up choosing the Salmon Noodle Bowl for our lunch which was easy, fast and really yummy. Of course I had to follow it up with some baking and after looking through some of my books, ended up choosing a retro theme of Lamingtons and Custard Squares. I have made Lamingtons once before but have never made the humble Custard Square. 

I ended up going to a lovely book I have called 'Ladies, A Plate' for the Lamington recipe thinking that as it is a book based on all the old-fashioned things it would have a good recipe for these. I made the cake from this book then found the chocolate icing recipe elsewhere as I didn't quite like the sound of the one in the book. The cake was less like a light sponge which is what we would expect from a lamington but it still tasted good. They are a pretty messy thing to dip then coat in coconut, but still they are pretty easy to make. I made the cake the day before and stored it in the fridge overnight so it would be less crumbly for coating the next day. I think it definitely made it easier and the cake then softens again once it is at room temperature and coated.

Chocolate Lamingtons 

115g butter, at room temp
150g caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temp
180g flour
1 tsp baking powder
115ml milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter until smooth then gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs one at a time beating for a good minute after each addition. Sift the flour and baking powder and to the mixture alternately with the milk.

Bake about 20 mins until golden and cooked. Cool on a rack.

Put in the fridge overnight.

Chocolate Coating

3c icing sugar
1/2 c cocoa
30g butter
1 tsp vanilla
about a 1/2 c milk

Warm all ingredients in a pot over a low heat until at coating consistency (you may need to add more milk).

Skewer the lamington and dip into the milk then coat in coconut (I used thread coconut but you can use dessiccated which is more traditional). 

Split and fill with cream and put a dollop of raspberry jam,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies- Annabel Langbein

After what seems like forever Annabel Langbein's new book ' A Free Range Cook In The City' was finally released. You know your addicted and have a cookbook obsession when you wait trying to be patient for the release date of a new cookbook. In my defense Annabel Langbein is my most favourite cook. I love her recipes and her books and pretty much have every single one. Luckily for me Dons bought it for me as a surprise before I had a chance to get to the bookshop myself (she had to get in quick!). It was worth the wait and there are loads of recipes I want to try. 

Today is a lovely Sunday relaxing family day so I asked Harry if he wanted to do some baking. I knew he would be keen and I also knew he would choose chocolate chip biscuits. I have posted many a chocolate chip biscuit recipe and this one is not all that different to the one I make all the time. There were a few differences in the recipe quantities but the one thing she does is to chop up the chocolate so you get little slivers and some big chunks. This makes for a really good biscuit. The condensed milk helps to make them crispy and I love how rustic and homemade they look. Make these, they are so easy and fun to do with a little one. I only made half the recipe but I'll give the full recipe here so you can choose what you do with it. You can get 70 biscuits out of the full recipe apparently.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Annabel Langbein)

500g butter, softened
1 c sugar
1/2 c condensed milk
4 1/2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
500g chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 160C and line trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar well then add the condensed milk and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate, flour and baking powder. Put into the fridge for 15 mins to firm up a bit then roll into walnut sized pieces. Flatten with your hands then press down again with a fork to get that nice homemade effect. 

Bake about 15 minutes until a golden brown. Leave on the tray for a few minutes then put the biscuits onto a rack to cool properly.

Happy Birthday Dad-Am and Dylan!

Dad and Dylan 

Banana cake whipped up at the last minute

Todd and Dylan

Dons and Pup

Jake and Todd
Just a quick post to say Happy Birthday to Dad and Dylan. On Friday it was my lovely Dad's birthday which we celebrated by having a family dinner. I actually made Dad the amazing cheesecake I made for Reuben's birthday except this time I got the oven settings right so it looked much better on top. If you ever want to make a cheesecake, make this one. I mean lets be honest cheesecake is NOT a low fat option so why not the whole hog (pun intended) and make this one. It is so fluffy and creamy and totally divine so well worth the caloric indulgence. 

Anyway on the actual day of the dinner I found that it was Dylan's 9th birthday the next day. Dylan is my sister's partner Todd's little boy and he is a real darling. So at the last minute I whipped up a banana cake which is his favourite. I made a yummy chocolate buttercream icing and quickly decorated it in the last 5 minutes before they arrived. Dylan was really happy with it as he hadn't expected it all...and besides what kid doesn't like having a birthday cake and having people sing Happy Birthday to them.

Happy birthday Dylan and Dad xxxxxxx

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- Lemon Whoopie Pies

Just cooked and cooling

The small ice cream/dough scooper
So tonight is my last night shift before I have next week off on annual leave for the school holidays. Adelle at work is also on tonight and the other day ordered some whoopie pies for tonight after seeing my post on the last ones I made, for tonight. As I have hardly slept today (only 3 hours), I had plenty of time to whip these up. The added bonus is that it keeps me off the couch feeling dopey and sorry for myself because of my lack of sleep. 

Whoopie pies are so so so good! They are easy to make and really versatile in that you can change both the flavour of the pie itself and the filling. I was thinking a chocolate salted caramel one might be my next whoopie pie treat. They are easy to eat and you don't get the messiness you can get with a cupcake when you eat them. These ones are delicious. I was a little bit skeptical as the recipe has brown sugar in them which I thought might make them a bit caramelly. But it didn't. The lemon in the pie is subtle but with the lemon buttercream, they are really delicious. I put a photo on of my little scooper so if you want to buy one you can see what you are looking for. Just don't buy the big one or your pies will be massive as they do spread quite a bit.

Lemon Whoopie Pies

2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
115g softened butter
1/2c white sugar
1/2c packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2c buttermilk
zest of a big lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Oven to 170C and line trays with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

Cream the butter and sugars until light and creamy. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice and beat until combined (it will look curdled but don't worry because it all comes together).

Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the other half of the flour, mix on low until incorporated then increase the speed to medium and beat until well combined (about a minute).

Drop spoonfuls onto your trays but space them as they do spread. Bake about 12 minutes, cool on the trays for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sandwich them with a yummy lemon buttercream (don't be stingy with the butter) and sprinkle the tops with icing sugar.

Baking for Nightshift- White Chocolate and Cranberry (and Dried Blueberry) Cookies

My little boy Harry really likes to watch cooking shows. In fact he will sit through one quite happily asking questions all the way through about what they are doing and why. So the other day we were watching Rachel Allen show on the Food Channel when she made these cookies. They looked really easy as well as pretty tasty so I thought they would be good to make for both the boys and for work. The recipe was an easy one but as I ran out of dried cranberreis I used some dried blueberries which I got from the food show in July. These dried blueberries are so delicious and I think they tasted better in these cookies than the cranberries. This is a soft cookie and while I did like them I don't know if I would make them again in this form. BUT the best thing about them is that you change the chocolate and the fruit to make them into whatever you want. If you want the recipe you can find it here.


For ages now I have been wanting to make croissants. They are time-intensive so I set aside the first morning of the school holidays to make them for the boys lunch. There are loads of recipes out there but the one I ended up using was the Alison Holst one from "The New Zealand Bread Book". Alison Holst is really the Grand Dame of cooking in New Zealand...a bit like the Kiwi Delia Smith, Margaret Fulton or Julia Childs. Her recipes almost always work and her instructions fantastic. I knew I could have found a more traditional recipe for croissants in one of my many, many cookbooks but I liked the fact that this one had 150g butter in it as opposed to 300-500g which even though I know, is an important part of the flavour, it just seems a little too indulgent. The croissants tasted really good. I know I should have rolled the dough a bit thinner but I was surprised at how 'proper' they tasted especially once they cooled down. I won't be posting this recipe as the method is pretty long but I'm sure you can find one online, if not the Alison Holst one itself. If you want to try something a little different in the kitchen, give croissants a go.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ready for baking after being rolled with my little scoop

Just out of the oven

Last night I decided to take these to work and leave the Whoopie Pies for tonight's shift. I don't know about anyone else but I am in a constant search for that perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. It's a difficult one because I love the crispy ones but the chewy ones are also yummy too. I found this recipe on the Patent and Pantry blog and thought it looked worthy of a go. I really love the flavour of brown sugar in a cookie as it gives a really good slightly caramely flavour. In fact that reminds me of brown sugar shortbread....hmmmm....

Those of us who live in NZ will know the Cookie Time Cookie which is also a soft cookie with big bits of chocolate in them. While they are quite sweet they are also really yummy. I thought these ones looked a lot like those and had the same sort of texture but didn't have that overly sweet flavour of the Cookie Time Cookie. I loved this recipe. I once again used my little scooper so they were all the same size. You don't flatten them instead letting the oven do the job. The result is a really yummy, soft and chewy cookie with big hits of chocolate through them. I used 50% dark chocolate and white chocolate but you could use just one type or a mixture of any chocolates. Next time I'll try milk chocolate...and there will be a next time as these will become my go-to chocolate chip cookie.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

175g butter, softened (I always use salted butter but if you use unsalted butter add 1/2tsp salt)

1 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c flour
2 tsp cornflour (apparently it makes them chewy in the centre)
1 tsp baking soda
250g milk, white or dark chocolate, cut or broken into chunks (or use a mix of all or some)

Preheat oven to 170C. Live baking trays with baking paper.

Cream butter and both sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until just blended. Fold in chunks of chocolate.

Drop cookie dough by spoonful (or use your handy scooper) onto the lined sheet and bake until just golden brown around the edges, between 8 and 10 minutes.

Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack. Remember these are soft in the middle