Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Best Fluffy American Style Pancakes

I have been meaning to post about these for ages but have often missed the opportunity to photograph them so today I made the effort to snap a shot before I devoured them. Every weekend I have the boys here I make them either pancakes or crepes for breakfast. These are Harry's current favourite although I do make pretty good crepes too (if I don say so myself). I think Harry likes the story I told him about when I was in the States and how the pancakes you get there are stacked really high and are the size of a dinner plate....I mean who can eat that amount of food! He often asks for a stack of three (and no they are NOT as big as a dinner plate!), but never manages to get through them as they are very filling. This was my breakfast with a two-stack of pancakes topped with some proper maple syrup, some fresh strawberries and some yummy yoghurt. Needless to say I am pretty full! But I really wanted to opportunity to share the pancake love and give you this fantastic recipe because it makes the most delicious, light and fluffy pancakes you will EVER have. No need anymore to go out for breakfast if all you order is pancakes...not now that I have given you this recipe, as all you will be is disappointed knowing you can make these at home yourself for a fraction of the cost!

Fluffy American-Style Pancakes

1 3/4 c flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs
3 Tbsp (about 45g) butter, melted

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl and give it a whisk around (saves you from sifting it). Mix in the eggs and milk, then once that is mixed around add the butter and whisk until you get a nice smooth batter.

Heat a pan over a moderate heat, spray with oil or else put in a little bit of butter and cook the first side until bubbles start to appear. Then flip and finish cooking on the other side. 

Stack onto a heated plate. These are also fantastic with Lemon Curd (preferably homemade).

Baking for Nightshift- Lemon Yo yo's

Ok so these don't look very pretty but what they lack in looks they make up for in flavour. Yo yo's are often confused for Melting Moments here in NZ. From my understanding, (and I might be wrong here), is that Yo yo's have custard powder in them and Melting Moments have cornflour. Either which way they are delicious melt-in-the-mouth biscuits joined with a yummy buttercream filling which in this case is lemon flavoured. I made sure to bake them until they were crispy so for the full 15 minutes which, in my opinion, was perfect. I made these quite small as once you get the filling in the middle and join two biscuits together, you get quite enough. There are loads of recipes around for these biscuits and all are pretty much the same sort of thing. However I used this NZ herald recipe.

Lemon Yo yo's

170g butter, softened
1/4 c icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c plain flour
1/4 c custard powder

Lemon filling

50g butter, softened
1/2 c icing sugar
2 Tbs custard powder
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla together until pale. Sift the flour and custard powder together then gently mix into the creamed mixture. 

Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly then place on the tray. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling beat all the ingredients together until smooth then use to sandwich the biscuits together. Dust with icing sugar before serving if you want to pretty them up. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chocolate, Cinnamon and Chilli Cake

I made this cake for when my lovely sister got back from her trip to Rarotonga. Great holiday, bummer of a 40th birthday....which was the reason to go and get away from all reminders of turning 40! I totally get it as I went into my 40's kicking and screaming and even now I find it hard to believe I am officially middle aged! I mean where did the years go?????!!!! It goes without saying to make the most of life. Anyway, this cake was easy to make and tasted fabulous. I has a very slight kick to it although I think I would have liked just a little bit more. It comes from my most favourite magazine Dish and was part of their Mexican spread. I served it with thickened cream but as these photos were taken on our return home (I asked her if I could bring a piece home so I could photograph it for my blog), it doesn't look anyway near as glamorous as it did when we ate it.

Chocolate, Cinnamon and Chilli Cake

200 g butter, chopped
200 g dark chocolate, chopped
1 c caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease and line a 20 cm cake tin.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a pot over a lowish heat. Stir in the sugar and vanilla and leave to cool about 10 mins.

Gradually stir in the eggs and then fold in the flour, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Pour into the tin and smooth and top. Bake about 20-25 mins until set but not too firm.

Leave to cool completely in the tin and on a rack.

Dust the top with 1 Tbsp icing sugar, 1/2 tsp each cocoa and cinnamon and serve with cream whipped with vanilla.

Millionaires Shortbread

This last weekend was pretty full on and a very busy one for us as our son Harry had his much anticipated big end of the year ballet show. Harry does ballet and tap at a lovely dance academy called Rhythm n Steps in Glen Eden. If anyone is looking for a fantastic dance school with a great family vibe and lots of great dance options for themselves or their children, then I would wholly recommend this academy. We started for just a little bit of before-school-starts fun with Fairy dance when Harry was just 4 years old. Now it's a huge part of our lives as Harry is totally committed and absolutely LOVES dancing. In fact it's all he seems to do all day and every day. The big show at the end of the year showcases all the dancers and dance styles in the school. There are two shows and I was parent help for one of them helping the children to get into costume and making sure they looked the part before they went on stage. However the day before I thought I would whip up a couple of treats for the parent fact a few others had the same idea so we were well stocked with treats. I made afghans and this slice. Anyone who knows me will know of my love for all things caramel therefore me making this slice was always going to happen. However, while I have a sweet tooth, even I found this pretty sweet. I think I prefer some of my other caramel slices over this one and I definitely prefer a caramel slice without chocolate on top. Anyway if you want to make this super sweet and decadent slice you can find it here.

Classic Fruit and Golden Syrup Loaf

Well if you thought the previous post was pretty plain, this one is even worse. It's hard to get a good picture of a simple brown loaf. This probably would have looked better with a good slathering of butter. I thought this was pretty plain but the work people seemed to really like it...I did provide butter too (which I think it really needed). You can use whatever fruit you like...I used dried cranberries, raisins and figs but maybe apricots would be better? Anyway this is a good afternoon loaf to have hanging around for when you want something sweet but not too over the top.

Classic Fruit and Golden Syrup Loaf

1 c mixed dried fruit chopped finely
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
70 g butter diced
boiling water (about 2-4 Tbsp)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 c golden syrup
2 eggs
1/4 c milk
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease the loaf tin.

Combine the fruit with the vanilla and orange. Add the butter and pour over the boiling water, baking soda and golden syrup. Stir to combine.

Whisk the eggs with the milk.

Sift the flour, sugar and spices. Fold the fruit into the eggs, then fold into the flour and spoon into the loaf tin (I needed to add a little more milk).

Bake about 1 -1 1/4 hours until cooked.

Afternoon Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf

So this loaf is not going to win any beauty contests. In fact it looks so plain as to be something you wouldn't want to eat. Well don't be fooled. This loaf was yummy and the most perfect thing to have with a cuppa...or in my case a coffee from Planet during a nasty day shift. Give this a can fool yourself that it's healthy but just focus on the carrots and ignore the hazelnuts, chocolate and butter. 

Afternoon Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf

3 eggs
200 g butter, melted
200 g carrot, grated
200 g brown sugar
100 g plain flour
150 g wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
70g hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
70g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the loaf tin (10 x 20 cm).

Combine the eggs, butter, carrot and sugar in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine without over mixing.

Sieve the flours with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the hazelnuts and chocolate.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and fold. Spoon into the loaf tin and bake about 50 mins until cooked (test with a skewer). Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Homemade Papadelle Pasta with Lamb Ragu

The dried pasta

We had this for dinner the other night and it was so yummy I thought I would post about it. I love making pasta but it's so messy I often just use dried. The difference in the flavour and texture of homemade pasta is wonderful especially if you use Tipo 00 flour and beautiful free range eggs from my friends farm. I just use the 100g flour to 1 egg ration, whizz it up in the food processor until it starts to come together i a bag ball, knead it a bit, rest it an hour or so and roll it out. Papadelle needs to be nice and thin so I rolled it to the last notch on the pasta making and hand cut it into wide strips before drying them on a rack.

For the ragu I browned off a couple of lamb shanks in some EVOO and removed them from the Le Crueset casserole. Then I added finely chopped- onion (one), carrot (a couple), celery (a stalk), fresh rosemary, 4 cloves garlic and a few Tbsp parsley and sauted that over a low heat until the onion has softened. Once that had happened in went some white wine (about a glass), some lamb stock (250ml), 2 tins of chopped tomatoes and it was all brought to a simmer before covering it with some baking paper (helps with reduction), popping the lid on and baking about 2 1/2 hours in a 140C fan bake oven. Once it's cooked shred up the lamb and toss in the pasta before finally topping it with parmesan cheese. Yum yum yum and easy!

Individual Lemon Delicious Puddings

Lemon is one of my most favourite flavours...along with vanilla, chocolate and caramel. I think almost everyone has a recipe for the easy and divine dessert. It's almost like a souffle top with a lemony curdy saucy bottom. The best thing is that it saves well and reheats beautifully in the microwave the next day while still being light as if it has just come out of the oven. There are a gazillion recipes for this so I kind of mixed and matched one and was rewarded with this. Apparently people pour cream over it but I prefer it just as it is. Mariam this is a recipe for you because I KNOW you will love it!

Lemon Delicious

2 lemons, zested and juiced
50g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
3 Tbs self raising flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 4-5 ramekin dishes.

Cream the lemon zest with the butter and sugar until pale and beat in the egg yolks.

Whisk the egg whites until firm. Fold in the flour, lemon juice and milk then stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins. Place into a baking dish and pour hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until set, then serve hot with cream.

Baking for Nightshift- Delice au Chocolat Brownies

I can almost hear the groaning of 'not another brownie recipe' and one that looks like a basic chocolate cake too! However do NOT underestimate the total deliciousness of this brownie. I got the recipe when a mum brought a piece for the other mums (that was me too) who were sitting nervously waiting while our babies were in their Grade 2 ballet exam. At first I declined it as I had just had a yummy muffin for my breakfast, but she insisted I give it a try telling me it was pretty good...and OMG it really was. The texture is really like a mousse cake and when you see the recipe you can see why. 

When I woke from my very busy nightshift yesterday I thought that we would deserve a treat if my next night ended up being as frantic as the previous one, so whipped this up before work that night. This would make a wonderful dessert as it really tastes more like a dessert cake than a cakey brownie. Trust me when I say to try this recipe because I know you will not be disappointed and while you might curse me for the calorie load, the flavour and texture will make it all worthwhile.

Delice au Chocolat Brownies

250 g dark chocolate (I used Whittakers dark 62% but the recipe giver uses 72%)
175 g unsalted butter (I used salted)
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs separated
125 g cream fraiche (I used sour cream)
2 tbsp of flour or ground almonds
Pinch salt (I omitted this as I used salted butter)
Icing sugar to decorate

Preheat oven 150 C. Grease 20cm square baking tin (the recipe said a 23cm tin but I liked the height the smaller tin gave me). 

Melt chocolate and butter in pot. In separate bowl beat sifted icing sugar, egg yolks and vanilla essence till mixture turns white and creamy. Add the melted chocolate and butter and beat. Add cream fraiche then fold in the flour or almonds ground. Beat eggs whites with pinch of salt till stiff. Fold delicately into chocolate mixture. 

Pour into tin and bake 35mins. Cool in tin and put into the fridge for about 4hrs. Cut into squares but rinse the knife with hot water in between slices to keep them neat. Dust with icing sugar and indulge.