Monday, June 25, 2012

Chicken and Kumara Pie with Thyme Pastry

I know I have AWOL for what seems like ages. It's not that I don't have anything to blog fact I have a backlog of photos taken just waiting for some time to get onto the computer and write about them. However we are in the middle of doing some things to our house and I have been painting like crazy before we have new carpet laid in a few weeks. As well as that I have had one small sick child at home which somewhat hampers progress.

Because of all this and because I am about to run out the door to get Harry from school I thought I would at least post the photos of this pie I made last night. It's from my most favourite cooking magazine called Dish (Issue 42...the latest one out). OMG you MUST MUST MUST try this. Buy the magazine or steal it from a friend but whatever you do make this pie. The pastry is so easy and deliver on flavour and texture. The filling is tasty, herbaceous and very very moreish. It was devoured by all of us with the children having seconds. I would have too if I weren't watching my portion sizes (not that I have been all that good lately). There are lots of other fantastic recipes in this issue so you won't regret buying up the Chinese Spiced Beef and Mushroom Pie so watch this space!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cupcakes for a Fundraiser

Selection of the cupcakes

Vanilla Latte Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Filling and Chocolate Buttercream

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Buttercream

Last Thursday we had a fundraiser for a friend of ours. We showed the very sweet movie called 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' at the lovely boutique Bridgeway theatres, had glasses of wine and sold these cupcakes and some amazing, can't-stop-eating-it fudge made by another (and the main), organiser Jo. We also had a raffles with some fantastic prizes and people were amazingly generous both leading up to the night with giving donations if they couldn't make it to the movie, and at the actual event. The night was a total success. I spent the two days before it making around 90 cupcakes. I must admit by the time I had finished it felt like I was leaking sugar from all of my pores! The last thing I could have imagined was eating any of these cupcakes at all....but the that was a different matter!

I made some fondant flowers to decorate them and cut out some fondant hearts. My most favourite decorating thing is edible glitter. It can make the plainest of anything look fantastic as you can see by the very beige-looking Vanilla Latte cupcakes. I also love the silver and gold dusting powders too which I dusted onto some of the flowers. Those little baby cachous are also a firm favourite as I think they look a lot less clumsy than the bigger ones you can buy at the supermarket. 

The flavours of the cupcakes were varied. I made Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing. While I do have a recipe for them on my blog, this time I thought I would try a new one and of course it had to be Martha Stewart's recipe. You can find it here if you wan to try them. It was an easy recipe and apparently they tasted lovely. I always think that Red Velvet is a bit of a boring nothing flavour and more of a carrier for the cream cheese icing but I think the appeal of them is the fact that the cupcake itself is light in texture and has only a slight chocolately flavour rather than being too full on. And lets not discount that really, anything with cream cheese icing on it can't be too bad!

The Vanilla Latte Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream was a recipe I found here on Annie's Eats. I had to wing it a bit as I have yet to find Espresso posed here in NZ and apparently instant coffee is not the same. I made some nice strong espresso and just added a little less of the brewed coffee so the liquid/dry balance wouldn't be out. I did the same with the frosting using espresso instead of powder. This was the first time I had ever made Swiss meringue buttercream. While it isn't all that hard, it is SO laden with butter it seems like a sin to make and then eat it. Then I realised that it was the perfect chance to give it a go as I wouldn't be tempted to eat it! I have to say it is delicious. It has a light and fluffy texture which is lovely to eat and I can see why people rave over it. However two problems I had were a) I was having a dizzy moment (I'm sure it was all the sugar and chaos around me) and got confused with the Celsius and Fahrenheit numbers on the thermometer so heated the initial egg white/sugar mix too high and b) my closed star tip was playing up and making it look like part it was missing so I just couldn't pipe it. I the end I just put it on with a small spatula, decorated them and sprinkled over gold glitter.

The Chocolate ones were an old favourite of mine also here on my blog. This time I made a Marshmallow fluff/filling to zhoosh them up a little. I had a container of Marshmallow Fluff that a friend of mine had got for me at the American store so beat it up with some butter and a bit of icing sugar until I got the texture I wanted, before piping it into the centre of the cupcakes. Yum yum and yum!

Anyway I hope you give these a go....the Vanilla Latte ones are really lovely and well worth it and if you can't be bothered with making the Swiss meringue icing that goes with it, you could make a simple coffee buttercream instead.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sticky Date Cupcakes with Toffee Cream Cheese Icing

The very lovely Meredith on her last night shift
The other night at work was Meredith's last night so was an excuse to eat lots of yummy food and celebrate/commiserate the next step in Meredith's life....namely the BIG OE! Meredith is a truly lovely person. While she is young she is able to relate to a huge range of people. She has a huge amount to offer not only in a professional context but in a personal context too. While everyone is thrilled that she and her partner Paddy get to see the world and have lots of new experiences, I think it's fair to say that we have lost an amazing nurse, work colleague and friend...and I have lost one of my baking mates/students too. Have a fantastic time away Meredith. I really hope you and Paddy have a fantastic time and that you stay safe and happy.

For Meredith's last night, I decided upon these cupcakes which I saw on a lovely NZ blog I follow called Baking=Love. Anyone with English heritage would know what a Sticky Date/Toffee Pudding is. It is a delicious pudding made with dates which have been chopped up and soaked in a mix of boiling water and baking soda. So while you might say that you don't like dates, you don't end up with a datey kind of flavour. It is always topped with a toffee or caramel sauce which only adds to it's decadence and richness. YUM!!!

The mix for these cupcakes is very, very liquid. I was sure that I had done something wrong but they ended up being tender and soft and just perfect once they had cooled. For the frosting I added 2-3 c icing sugar to make it more pipeable as I found the recipe just made it too soft. As well as that I omitted the cornflour as it just didn't seem right. The salt just makes the topping even more delicious and I used Fleur De Sel sea salt which has an almost floral flavour to it...I mean anything salted caramel HAS to be good doesn't it? I used a can of caramel condensed milk as because I was in the middle of night shift I had neither the time nor the inclination to watch over a simmering pan of water for a few hours.

So give these cupcakes a go and whatever you do make sure they aren't lying around or else you might just be tempted to eat them all up yourself.