Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes and Birthday Time

So the other day was my birthday. It was with HORROR that I realised I was actually a whole year older than I thought I was once Harry asked how old I was and I recalculated it! As I was working night shift over the weekend and going into my birthday I thought I would take some food in to share with all the girls. I made these Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and took in some other bits and pieces for us to all nibble on. It was so lovely as the girls all sang Happy Birthday to me in all their different languages so it was sung in Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Arabic, German, English and there was also a really lovely different birthday song in Mandarin wishing me luck, health and happiness. I'm so lucky to work with all these amazing women!

Anyway these cupcakes can be found here. I did have to add a little bit of water to the cocoa, food colouring mix as I found it didn't make a paste at all so I just added enough water to make it a thick paste as I didn't want to alter the consistency of the mix too much. It didn't seem to affect it at all. As well as that I just made my own icing with some cream cheese and butter then some vanilla and icing sugar as I prefer my cream cheese icing to be less 'wet' as it can get when there is a large cream cheese component. This means that it is more likely to hold it's shape if you pipe it on. I topped mine with some edible glitter which always looks better and more glittery than it does in the photos. This was a lovely recipe and made delicious cupcakes.

Dons and I on our way out to dinner the other night
The cake Dons whipped up for me...looks like the house is going to catch fire with all those candles!

Me with Reuben and Harry

Dons, Harry and I

With my too-tall baby Reuben

Friday, March 9, 2012

Degustation at Kermadec

On Tuesday night Dons and I went to Kermadec Fine Dining Restaurant on the Viaduct for their degustation menu. As it's my birthday next week we thought we would have an early birthday dinner to celebrate as on my actual day I'm coming off night shift so will be no good for anything then. I got a voucher off GrabOne which was $120 for both of us instead of each so all we had to pay for was wine...and champagne of course. It really was a lovely experience. We had a fantastic waiter and the place, instead of feeling stuffy and pretentious, felt comfortable and an easy space to be in. So here are the course we had... (note the photos were taken with my iphone so could have been better but really weren't too bad)

Yellowtail kingfish sashimi, hadjiki, pickled peach, sesame, mirin dressing

The picture above was taken halfway through eating as I totally forgot to snap a photo. This course was lovely and refreshing and a great way to start the meal.

Chamomile infused Marlborough salmon, watercress, young vegetables a la grecque, salsa verde

Yum. yum and yum. I LOVE fresh, raw salmon and this course did NOT disappoint. The salmon was perfectly complimented by the accompaniments and had a lovely flavour from the infusion.

Seared Scallops, sweet corn, duck egg, bacon crumb, truffle mayonnaise
The most amazing course of the whole dinner. We both could have eaten just this over and over again. I loved how they got the perfect caramelisation on the scallops without overcooking them at all. All the flavours worked beautifully together. YUM!!!

Crispy skinned Hauraki Gulf snapper, courgette and crab beignet, court bouillon in its entirety
This course had a hard act to follow after the divine scallops. We both thought the fish was a touch overcooked and I had a bone in mine which was no big deal but a bit of a faux pas for such a fancy restaurant.

Wild red venison, sweet corn custard, pickled shitakes, thyme popcorn, Puy lentils, sauce Rouennaise
Neither Dons nor I eat venison but as we were there with the voucher we were unable to change this. While it was better than I thought and very tender, this was my least favourite course. For me the flavours weren't quite right but I was glad that I tried it...

Now I totally forgot the photo of the dessert can you believe it!!!! It was small and a perfect end to the meal and was...Fraisier, Sable Breton, Heilala vanilla cream (fantastic), violet espuma, strawberry consomme (fresh and delicious), wild thyme honey ice cream (repeated a little afterwards and for me the flavour was far too strong)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

Don't be fooled with how this looks....although I love the shape of this Bundt Loaf tin, because it tastes fabulous. The lemon syrup and glaze really add to the lemony flavour and the texture is fantastic. It was also taken to work on Friday and seemed to go down a treat. Delicious, easy and well worth making. I know I'll make it again and again.

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

For the Pound Cake:

225g butter
1 ½ c flour 
1/3 c poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt (I only added 1/4 tsp as I used salted butter)
1 ¼ c sugar
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice 
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Lemon Syrup
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 c sugar

For the Lemon Glaze:
1 c icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess (I used my lovely bundt tin)

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a small bowl, toss 1 Tbsp of the flour mixture and poppy seeds together and set aside.

Melt the butter and whisk to reincorporate any separated milk solids.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined. Fold poppy seed mixture into batter after flour is incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160C and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.

Chocolate Afghans

So I have just finished a set of three long days...which has been more than a shock to my system as I usually work night shift. On Thursday I baked 3 things to take on both Friday and Saturday. These made it to the Friday goodies..... I like my Afghans to be crispy rather than soft so I made sure to cook them for a little bit longer. I also discovered that I had no walnuts left so instead used some toasted slivered almonds which were perfectly good with these biscuits. I also made a yummy chocolate buttercream for the top as this seems to be more traditional to me than a ganache, and it tastes a lot better in my opinion.

Chocolate Afghans

200 g butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
1 1/4 c plain flour
1/4 c cocoa
1 1/2 c cornflakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift in flour and cocoa, stir thoroughly with the butter mixture until combined before stirring in the cornflakes.

Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into a ball and put onto the baking tray then press down a bit with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

Use your favourite chocolate buttercream icing and top with either a walnut or toasted slivered almonds.