Sunday, April 22, 2012

From the Weekend

Cooking at the Kids Can Cook at Lynmall

One of the gingerbread people they made and decorated

Snuggling up to the giant gorilla while I was having a back adjustment

Another trip to the Kids Can Cook but this time another little girl from ballet was they went into the same group. This time was scones and some more decorating of the gingerbread people

At the Silo market having Dutch pancakes

Now with the Hungarian fried bread (far too delicious for it's own good) with watercress and cashew pesto

View of the brdige looking over to the live band....there are even huge beanbags to lounge about on

Must be why it's called the Silo Markets...


On the overbridge

Small markets but fantastic food!...oh and did I mention wine and beer?

Playing on the viaduct

And the bridge went up so we could watch a yacht go under
This weekend and week have been very full. The weather was stunning so we made sure to get out and about on most of the days. On Saturday we took Harry (Reubs was hanging out with a friend), and his scooter down to the viaduct and to the Silo markets. They were small but fantastic. Great choice of food, coffee, wine and beer, live band and lots of places to eat and just relax in the lovely sun. All that coupled with stunning views and a great playground, followed by a visit to the Fish Markets made for a lovely day. Sunday was a trip to the Takapuna Markets for more lovely food and things to buy followed by some baking and relaxing. So all in all a lovely family weekend with Dons and the boys (well Reuben was away for some it and there is no way I would have been allowed to post a photo of him here...even though I do sometimes sneak one in)!

Crackled Chocolate Cookies

When the latest Cuisine magazine arrived in the post last week, I knew these cookies were on my must-make list. Not only did they look easy but the small amount of butter managed to sway me to give them a's this ongoing thing with WW (followed by a big sigh). We are now nearing the end of the school holidays and while Reuben goes back to school tomorrow, Harry gets an extra 2 days off for teacher only days, then followed by ANZAC day on the 25th April. So Harry gets a whole other 1/2 a week off for his holidays. We have been incredibly lucky this break with more summery weather than we have had all summer. It has been stunning and there has been much going on outside for a change....unlike the summer holidays when it seemed to rain constantly! Harry and I whipped these up when we got home from the Takapuna markets where we went for a leisurely shop and stroll this morning. The highlight was probably the Churros which were drizzled with chocolate and caramel delicious and most definitely NOT WW approved. I held myself back and only had one but could have easily polished the whole lot off. When we got home it was time for a little Sunday afternoon baking for a spot of relaxation and a dog walk to work off the churros. You really should give these a go. They taste like they have real chocolate in them and look pretty cool when they are baked. I prefer the Homebrand cocoa as it is rich and dark....and well priced too.

Crackled Chocolate Cookies (from the Cuisine magazine)

150g flour
60 g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
200 g caster sugar
60 g butter (cold and diced)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Icing sugar to coat

Preheat the oven 200 C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles bread crumbs. 

Whisk the egg and vanilla together then stir into the flour mix with a large spoon. Put into the fridge for 30 mins then roll into walnut sized balls and toss in the icing sugar. Place onto the baking trays but don't flatten. Bake about 10-12 mins. Cool for 5 mins on the baking tray then remove to totally cool on a wire rack. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

So last night I had the family over for dinner minus my dad who is currently in Australia. When I was trying to decide what to make for dessert I thought of these puddings that my friend Caroline always makes. I had remembered they were a Delia Smith recipe but I couldn't see it in any of the cookbooks I have of hers. A quick search on Google resolved this easily. Delia Smith is a culinary icon...she's the British version of our very own Dame Alison Holst or the American version of Julia Child/Paula Dean or the Australian version of Margaret Fulton. They are the tried and true, whose recipes almost always work, the icons of everyday and sometimes a bit different food.  

These puddings lived up to their reputation of being easy to make, light and totally delicious. My step dad is from America...the South to be a bit more precise and he had never heard of them. That's because they really are a quintessential English pudding. No doubt there is an American version out there but as far as I know these are English in origin. The dates are softened and even though I don't really like dates, they don't taste very 'datey' in this pudding. The toffee sauce just elevates it all to a sublime level. I added in pecan nuts as directed in the recipe but I really don't think they added too much, if anything, to the finished product. Softly whipped cream is, to me, essential to cutting through the sweetness. Delia cuts the tops off and turns them upside down which probably helps the presentation but I just kept them as they were. I doubled the recipe to make more so I had some in the freezer to have on hand and the recipe doubled nicely.

As Dons and my sister Rochene are both Gluten intolerant I found a GF version online and by all accounts it was fantastic so I'll put that recipe on after this one even though I don't have a photo of them.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

175 g stoned dates, chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
75 g butter, at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
175 g self-raising flour, sifted

For the sauce:
25 g pecan nuts, chopped
175 g soft brown sugar
110 g butter
6 Tbsp cream

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 8 Texas muffin tins or ramekans the same size.

Put the chopped dates in a bowl and pour175 ml boiling water over them.

Then add the vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda and leave to one side. Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, beating until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy.

Now gradually add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

After that, carefully and lightly fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon, and then you can fold in the date mixture (including the liquid). You'll probably think at this stage that you've done something wrong, because the mixture will look very sloppy, but don't worry: that is perfectly correct and the slackness of the mixture is what makes the puddings so light.

Now divide the mixture equally among the eight containers, place them on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. When they're cooked, leave them to cool for 5 minutes, then, using a cloth to protect your hands, slide a small palette knife around each pudding and turn it out. If they have risen too much you may have to slice a little off the tops so that they can sit evenly on the plate. Now place the puddings on a shallow, Swiss-roll tin. Next, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and heating very gently until the sugar has melted and all the crystals have dissolved.

To serve the puddings: pre-heat the grill to its highest setting, and pour some of the sauce evenly over the puddings. Place the tin under the grill, so the tops of the puddings are about 13 cm)m from the heat (knock off any nuts on the top to prevent them browning) and let them heat through for about 8 minutes. What will happen is the tops will become brown and slightly crunchy and the sauce will be hot and bubbling. This step isn't essential though and the puddings could be heated in the microwave before serving.

Serve with extra sauce and either softly whipped or pouring cream.

Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Puddings

55g soft, room temperature butter
1/3 c packed light brown sugar
1 large egg beaten
½ c gf flour
¼ c almond meal
2 tsp vanilla extract 
½ c (75 g) stoned, chopped dates
1/3 c boiling water
1/2 tsp baking soda 
½ tsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C and grease Texas muffin tins or normal muffin tins. 

Put dates in heat proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Add vanilla extract and baking soda. Cream butter and sugar together until fairly light, creamy and fluffy.  It won’t get as fluffy and creamy with brown sugar as with granulated sugar, but flavor is better. Slowly beat egg in, beat well after each addition, it might look a bit curdled but that's fine.

Mix flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder together and carefully fold into butter mix. Don’t over mix, it will still look dry and floury.

Gently fold date and liquid into mix. It will now look sloppy, lumpy, not like a normal cake batter.

Place on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. They wont rise like the other puddings but they still tasted light and yummy. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Follow the same process as you do for the normal puddings above.

Duchess Potatoes

Just a quick post about these yummy potatoes I made for dinner last night. It was basically boiled potatoes put through the ricer so they were nice and smooth, salt and pepper, some butter and some egg yolks (I used about 3 for 1.5kg potatoes). Then you pipe them onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush them with some an egg yolk/bit of water wash and bake them for about 20mins at 180C. They looked glamorous and tasted lovely. Well worth the extra effort!

Chocolate Souffle Cake

I know I have been a bit slack on the posting but I have finally got around to posting about this delicious cake I made to take to work on Good Friday. Being Easter something chocolate was definitely in order and this cake seemed to epitomise all things chocolate. The recipe came form Julie Le Clerc's new(ish) cookbook called 'Favourite Cakes'. I poured over an easy ganache made from chocolate and a bit of cream and it kept it's lovely glossy appearance. I also popped some of the lovely little chocolate, speckled Easter eggs I had in the cupboard...but I have to say from a decorating standpoint it looks pretty amateurish. This cake was easy to make and tasted delicious. It was rich but the texture light. I know I'll make this again. Mine doesn't look as flat as Julie's one did in the book but as long as it tasted good then that's all that counts...I suppose. 

Chocolate Souffle Cake (Julie Le Clerc 'Favourite Cakes')

200 g butter, cubed
200 g dark chocolate (I used 62% because I find the 72% too bitter), coarsely chopped
5 eggs, separated
3/4 c caster sugar
1/2 c plain flour
1 Tbsp cocoa

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and lightly flour a 22cm tin (mine was 23cm).

Melt the butter and chocolate together (I did this in the microwave), stir until smooth and set aside to cool a little.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until thick, pale and fluffy. Gently stir in the melted butter/chocolate to combine. Fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder.

In another clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks hold their shape. Fold about 1/4 into the chocolate mix to loosen in then more gently fold in the rest of the egg white. Pour into the tin and bake 50-60mins until a skewer comes out moist but clean. Cool in the tin for 30 mins then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with ganache when it's cold.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sticky Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Harry with his slice

This year I worked the whole of Easter so the only day I had off with the boys (well Harry as Reuben was away), was the Friday day time. As all the shops were closed, (shock and horror), the day was devoted to enjoying the beautiful sunny day, baking for both us and for work, walking the dog and taking the other Pup, (also known as Harry), for a bike ride at the same time. I have had my eye on this bread since I saw it in the blogosphere ages ago and was pushed to make it when I saw it on one of the NZ blogs I follow so I knew it tasted good and that it fit our NZ ingredients. Well I was not disappointed. You need to set aside time for this bread but most of that wait time is in the rising. It seems like there are lots of steps to making this but believe me it's easy and well worth it. I took the rest of it to work with me along with a Chocolate Souffle cake (post to follow), and I think this was more the star than that. I have seen a glazed drizzled over it but I think it's sweet and delicious enough just like it is.

So here it is in steps.....

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

2 ¾ c + 2-3 Tbsp flour
¼ c sugar
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
½ tsp salt
60 g butter
⅓ c milk
¼ c water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
50 g butter, melted until browned

In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside.
Whisk the eggs together and set aside.

In a small pot, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a couple of minutes.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. It can take a little time for the eggs and flour mix to come together. Add the remaining ¾ cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky so don't worry.

Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.)

In the bowl

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling and set aside.  Melt the 50 g of butter until browned and set aside.  Grease a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.
Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2-3 Tbsp of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. 

Just kneaded and it's soft and smooth (not too sticky but not dry either)

On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 30cm x 50cm. If you can’t get the dough to 50cm long… that’s okay (but I managed fine).  Just roll it as large as the dough will go.  

Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  It might seem like a lot of sugar but just go ahead and sprinkle away.

Sugar mixture sprinkled

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again so you have six stacks of six squares. 
Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Cut into 6 strips (sorry the photos is the wrong way around)


In the pan for the 2nd rise

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 180°C. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. It needs to be a nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board and c
arefully invert so it’s right side up using another plate or a rack. 

Try your hardest to not eat all of it in one sitting!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Weetbix Slice

The other day we got the awful news that my lovely, sweet brother-in-law Kiwi's dad Jim had died suddenly. It's a huge shock as he was only 64 years old, was a very hard worker and one of those guys who was always around to lend a hand and help out where ever he could. At any family event he was always helping to prepare the food, cleaning up, digging the hangi pit (or bringing up the food), washing the dishes....pretty much if it needed doing then Jim was there doing it. He helped out with various moves, building of decks or fences etc etc etc. He and Fiona had been married for 42 years. I can't even begin to imagine how it feel to lose the partner you have slept next to every night and been with for all those years. It must be truly horrific. 

Of course food was prepared by lots of people and these were part of my contribution along with a huge Banana and Coconut cake with cream cheese frosting. I doubled the recipe and if doing it again would make 4 times the caramel recipe. I did double it along but I think quadrupling it would have been even better...well for those of us who love caramel. Even so with the amount of caramel on it, it still tasted fantastic. I'll definitely be making this again. You can find the recipe here.

So rest in peace Jim...he always hated having his photo taken so here is one of the only ones I have of him....trying to hide of course xxx