RSS

Tag Archives: recipes

Now, what have we learned from this young lady?

I’m not too proud to admit that for every glorious success I have in the kitchen, I have as many disastrous failures. Once trying desperately to impress my husband’s family with my cooking skills, I tried making profiteroles three times and each time they failed miserably. Almost in tears and definitely out of eggs, I gave up. It just wasn’t my day to make choux pastry.

So today I awoke with bright-eyed enthusiasm at the thought of cooking…macaroons! Let me just preface this whole story by saying I’d already tried making these babies a few times…once with success…twice with failure.  But today I was determined to make these work. I did everything the little pink book told me to and worked that kitchen like a boss. By the time I got to letting them set, I was feeling good. They looked just right.

Waiting patiently for my ‘macs’ to get a nice crust.

Then into the oven with them. I was being overly cocky and yelled out to my husband “They look perfect! They’re going to work!” But then everything started to go horribly wrong. They were cooking too quickly and colouring up more than they should. I escalated this situation to code red and pulled those soldiers from the hot zone. Sustaining one heck of a burnt hand injury in the process. So…they didn’t cook and deflated more quickly than my spirit.

Who are you trying to kid?? Those are just failure cookies with chocolate on top.

I still made the chocolate ganache which is supposed to sandwich each half together but most of them were not coming off the paper. So I just dumped the chocolate on top with a ‘whatever’ shrug of my shoulders. I sat there despondent, with a distant stare and ate about five broken cookies. They still tasted ok. But I was making them as a gift for a friend and there was no way these passed quality control. So they got dumped into a container to make a ‘macaroon mess’. A few berries and ice-cream…and voila!

So, what have I learned from this experience?

  • That macaroons are more fickle than a five-year old;
  • Leftover chocolate ganache is easily turned into a lunchtime snack of chocolate milk by your husband;
  • Don’t choose difficult baking items as a gift for friends;
  • Even the most unappealing things can still taste delicious; and
  • Never count your macaroons before they hatch!

And to show you what they should look in all their perfection…here is a picture of the one and only time they worked for me. If you have a macaroon secret….I would love to know it. I will not let these little almond delights beat me!

Tower of perfection.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A weekend of family and food = 152,698 calories.

It’s true…a thoroughly modern woman can do anything. Which I think is evident from the crazy weekend I just had. Let me fill you in.

It all started last Thursday (imagine wavy lines appearing to give you the impression we’re travelling back through time). My brother was in town and was staying at my house. As we don’t see each other that often, its always a grand affair. He also shares my passion for food so I had to turn up the heat and provide a mid-week masterpiece. Because a modern woman can work full time and produce gourmet meals…right? Hmmm. 

I served up a delicious tray of baked salmon fillets, king prawns, asparagus and procuitto. Accompanied by a pear, parmesan and rocket salad and steamed baby potatoes. All finished with a banoffee pie and ice-cream. Now, the only reason I made this feast after I had worked all day, run a thousand errands on my lunch break, then driven the 40 minutes home to stop at the supermarket a second time for a few last minute items, was because it was all supposed to be all made in 30 minutes. Or so the recipe alluded. The tray of seafood was easy and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But the rest was just a little too much for this weary woman.

My little bro…eagily awaiting my (more than) 30 minute meal.

Friday was another early start with a day of woodchopping in store. And what does any good team of lumberjacks need for such an occasion? A lumberjacks breakfast of course. I made buttermilk pancakes with raspberries, bacon and maple syrup. I know you’re thinking…woah lady…high carbs, high sugar, high fat. Yeah…true, true, true. But as I ate these at 8am and didn’t eat anything else until 6pm, and helped chop two tonnes of wood, I say “meh?”

Looking like a pro wood chopper after my breakfast. Technically I didn’t ‘chop’ any wood…but I stacked a heck of a lot.

Saturday! A day of rest? Bah! Another early start with an appearance at a little girls 2nd birthday party. I was happy to eat a piece of her Elmo birthday cake at 11am simply because I didn’t make it. Then we were off again with a family trip to the beautiful Botanic Gardens for a stroll through leaves and trees and crisp autumn air. We did stop at the coffee shop but I was terribly disappointed, so that’s all I’ll say on that.

When I ordered a Snickers slice…I expected a little more than a hard, un-inspired block of sugar. Poor form coffee shop…poor form.

Saturday night – Indian takeaway and beers! Besides having a rather close encounter with a hot vindaloo, it was a wonderful meal shared with precious people.

So we’ve finally arrived at the pièce de résistance! Sunday – Mothers Day. My husband, my brother and his girlfriend (who arrived the day before) were on hand to create a mouthwatering mothers day spectacular for our mother. I was up early to make the dough for my much loved cinnamon rolls. See here for recipe. We then prepared, in a flurry of knives and bowls and hot pans the following:

  • Steamed and fried wantons with a spicy chicken filling
  • Thai fish cakes served with cucumber dressing
  • Thai chicken curry made with homemade paste (a first for me, and making your own paste really does make a kick ass curry)
  • Cinnamon Rolls served with chocolate and caramel ice-cream

    The ‘kids’ made mother cry from happiness with this Asian inspired lunch.

Needless to say I was rather exhausted by the end of it all and probably a few kilograms heavier. With all the marathon cooking happening, I did have a very vivid dream that I was a contestant on the reality TV cooking show – Masterchef. In the dream I made sausage rolls of which George Calombaris refused to try because he said the meat looked too dense. I happily argued the point with George but he still didn’t try my sausage rolls. Why George? Why?

And that concludes my amazing weekend with my amazing family. I hope you spoilt your mum rotten this Mothers Day!

 
14 Comments

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cookie Mania!

Shazam!!! This is a super quick post today because I have 37 minutes before I’m leaving the house for a photo shoot and I still haven’t packed my gear. BUT…there is always time for cookies….and posting about cookies!

Here is my never fail, super quick chocolate chip cookie recipe. Seriously, it’s so quick, its quicker than getting in the car to drive to the shops to buy cookies. So, let’s go! (I only have 35 minutes left).

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 125g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 chocolate chips (or more if you’re greedy like me)

Pre-heat your oven to 160C degrees. Cream your butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add your egg and vanilla. Stir in your flour until combined and then add your choc chips. I actually let my mixer do both the flour and choc chip part too…I mean, that’s its job right?

Roll out teaspoon size balls onto a greased or lined tray. Bake for 10 mins for softies or 15 mins for hardies. Remember, there is only like 1-2 minutes between the perfect golden cookie and a blackened, cremated cookie. So please, keep an eye on them ok?

Cool on the tray until they can be moved to a wire rack. Make yourself a cup of tea and say “Gee, thanks Jen, these really are awesome cookies!”. You’re welcome kids.

White Choc Chip mouthfuls of heaven. Mmmm.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fo’ Shizzle My Pickle!

I was recently given a beautiful gift of green tomatoes from my precious mother-in-law. Her tomatoes have

The beautiful green tomato.

gone nuts this year and she generously let me have a few kg’s. I knew all along I was going to make green tomato pickles with them. But I also wanted to try fried green tomatoes. I did. And they were yum.

So just to mix things up a little…I’m going to interview myself about the process.

Me: Ok Jen, tell us why you wanted to make green tomato pickles?

Also Me: So glad you asked Jen. Well ever since I can remember my mother has made her own green tomato pickles and they were the bomb. Nothing is sweeter than a corned beef sandwich with fresh bread and pickles.

Me: Sounds delicious. Have you ever made them before?

Also Me: Nope. I’ve always just been lucky enough to been given them from my mum. But…she’s been a little busy lately so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.

Me: Does she have a secret family recipe?

Also Me: She sure does Jen and it comes in a bottle called Wild’s Ezy Sauce. I don’t know where it originated but I’m pretty sure it’s as old as the hills. You can make all sorts of pickles, chutney’s and sauces from that one little bottle.

Me: Fascinating. Really. Well then…are you going to tell us how to do it or what?

Also Me: Cool your heels little lady…I was just getting to that. Please find below, the always easy, never disappointing recipe. Enjoy pickle fans.

My secret weapon....mwahahhaaaa!

Green Tomato Pickles

  • 5.5kg green tomatoes (up to half can be substituted with cauliflower if you wish. I didn’t)
  • 2kg white onions
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1.5kg sugar
  • 1 370ml bottle Wilds Ezy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric

The day before you want to get into some pickle action you will need to slice your tomatoes and onions and mix with the salt. I used the slicer thing on my food processor. It was super easy. Make sure you have a very large bowl or two bowls to put it in. Mix the onions and tomatoes and sprinkle over the salt and combine. Cover well and leave overnight.

The next day get a big pot and put your mixture in there. Bring to the boil and add the sugar and the Ezy Sauce. Reduce to a simmer and leave for 2.5hrs stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom.

Combine the spices and cornflour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add this to the tomato mixture and combine until it thickens. Spoon into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Try to hold on to as many bottles of this as you can because you’re going to eat it like crazy. Another favourite of mine is to have it on toast topped with cheese.

So there you go. Oh, just one last thing. When you are cooking this bad boy, your whole house is going to smell like vinegar and onions. Be prepared. That is all….enjoy!

 
18 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s time for limes!

It’s lime season!!!

I always think its time for lime but right now, limes are particularly spectacular. Big, fat and juicy. And I’ve been buying up big on them because you don’t have to re-mortgage your house to get a few. So what does one do with a mountain of limes? Make a Key Lime Pie of course.

I’ve always wanted to try making a Key Lime Pie, just the sound of it makes me feel all “sitting in a cabana on the beach” like. Little did I know that the original recipe called for key limes…hence the name. But I guess they are native to Florida so the recipe has been adapted for regular garden variety limes…or persian limes.

What I didn’t figure upon trying this recipe is how easy it is. The story goes…that a reaction occurs between the lime juice and the condensed milk which actually cooks the filling or makes it thicken substantially. Although, you’re still required to cook it for a short time. I used 4 limes for this recipe but think that you could use more. It’s very sweet and I think it needs a bit more acidity from the lime juice. Although if you have a super sweet tooth, 4 limes might suit you. Here we go!

Key Lime Pie

Crust

  • 16 biscuits (I used Anzac biscuits because it’s nearly Anzac day…but any plain biscuit will do)
  • 125g melted butter
  • 45g caster sugar (I used this but I don’t think you really need to)

Filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
  • Juice of 4-5 limes
  • 200ml cream

Pre-heat your oven to 175c. Blitz up your biscuits and slowly add melted butter until it comes together.  Press into a 22cm (across the top) greased glass or ceramic pie dish and push up the sides. Bake in the oven for about 10 mins or until lightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a bowl add egg yolks and whisk a little. Then add condensed milk, cream and lime juice. Grate some lime zest in there too if you like. Whisk lightly until it all comes together. Pour into your pie crust and return to the oven for 15 mins.

Remove from oven, cool and then pop it into the fridge for a while. We had ours with cream but I didn’t think it needed it. If anything, I’d have mine with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

I can tell when my guy likes something…he takes a bite and his eyes go big and round like saucers. This pie…got saucer eyes.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Easter Cinnamon Buns

Easter is approaching! My first thought is yay….hot cross buns!! Until I remember I’m deathly opposed to the sultana, my arch-enemy. I love a hot cross bun, all that soft, pillowy, spicy goodness laden with butter. But then I’ll bite into a sultana and feel my sunny world come crashing down. Why dried fruit? Whyyyy?

It also reminds me of the great Christmas Pudding Dilemma of 1992. Christmas pudding…a festive dessert tradition in these parts – I cannot stand it! Not only does it contain the despicable sultana, it is laden with many other dried fruit relatives. Necessity is the mother invention as they say, and my mother was forced into inventing our version of the Christmas Pudding….an ice-cream pudding (in the shape of a traditional pudding) laden with bite sized pieces of chocolate bars and marshmallows, drizzled chocolate on top to resemble custard. She even put a little holly sprig on it. Needless to say it was an instant hit in our house and lived on through many more Christmas’.

So fed up with missing out on a traditional hot cross bun (yeah, I know they come without sultanas and even with choc chips instead of sultanas, but they are just not the same) I decided to create my own hybrid version of the hot cross bun and mix it with a cinnamon roll. I know I know….its way exciting isn’t it?

Here we go!

MY CROWDED BUNS - HEY, MAKE SOME ROOM WILL YA?

Easter Cinnamon Buns

Dough:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 7g (2tsp) dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 5 tbsp very soft butter

Filling:

  • 220g brown sugar
  • 2.5 tbsp cinnamon (I actually used 2 tbs mixed spice which has cinnamon anyway and then half a tbs extra of cinnamon)
  • 5tbsp very soft butter

Icing:

  • 125g very soft (almost melting) butter
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method

  1. Heat cream and milk slowly until warm.
  2. Using a mixer with dough attachment I added all the dry ingredients, mixed then added the milk and cream mixture. Give it a stir to combine then add the eggs and butter. I then gave it a good 10 mins to work the dough.
  3. After 10 mins, oil a large bowl, put in dough, cover and rest 1 hr until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees or 180 fan forced.
  5. Dust a large surface with flour and turn out dough. Roll out to form a large rectangle just less than 1cm thick.
  6. Combine dry filling ingredients in a bowl. Spread rectangle of dough with soft butter and then sprinkle with sugar and spices etc. Makes sure its thick!
  7. Roll up to form a sausage. Then cut slices off about 2cm thick…or to your preference.
  8. Place on lined baking tray.
  9. Cook for approx 10 mins or until light golden brown.
  10. While cooking, combine all icing ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork until combined.
  11. When rolls are done, cool for a few minutes then spread icing on so it melts.
  12. Eat with friends, enjoy with family, spread the love.

Just a couple of things I learnt from making these beauties.

  1. Unlike the traffic in New Delhi, they don’t like being crowded on the tray. Give them room to grow.
  2. If you don’t want monster size rolls, don’t cut such big sizes.
  3. DO NOT take off your apron before you’ve finished cooking, especially if you’re supposed to be leaving for a lunch date in 15 minutes.
  4. Don’t answer the phone while you’re trying to ice them. You will leave a sticky mess from one end of the house to the other.

Have a really super holiday people. Thanks for all the support so far this year! HAPPY EASTER!

My little beauties dripping with their golden cream cheese icing.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Get in on my tart action!

No seriously, you’ll want to.

So here’s the story. My friend has started hardcore fundraising for the RSPCA. She bakes sweet treats and sells them at our place of work and donates all the proceeds to the charity. As I love ‘fluffies’ as one of my friends put it, and baking, I volunteered my services.

CARAMEL TARTS – Makes 12

  • 150g melted butter
  • 240g plain flour
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 20g butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Preheat oven to 180C.

This recipe works really well if you have digital scales and silcon tartlet cases. If you don’t have 12 tartlet cases (silcon or otherwise) you can use a silcon muffin tray.

In a bowl mix melted butter, flour and sugar. Stir until it combines. Divide into 12 portions. There is no need to rest, knead or roll out this dough.

If using individual tart cases, shape each portion into a ball, place in the middle of the tart case and start pushing out the pastry in a circular movement until it covers the entire base. If using the silcon muffin tray, it will take a bit longer to work up the sides and go about halfway. Make sure its not too thin. Bake for 12-15 mins.

To make filling combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a pan over low heat. Stir until smooth and slightly golden. Do not boil.

Fill cases with hot caramel and return to the oven for 5 mins or until caramel browns around the top.

Cool completely before removing from cases. Eat, indulge, smile, happy.

A sweet tart is always worth the effort.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pear & Apple Paste – Make Your Own Fruit Cheese

If you love a good cheese platter…then don’t stop reading!

For Christmas last year I decided to make some pear and apple paste or fruit cheese. Along the same lines as quince paste, you know, the stuff you serve with a nice strong cheddar or blue cheese? At the time, I didn’t think it was such a great success but still gave it to my nearest and dearest. Little did I know, it would turn out to be such a hit. But more of that later…now on to the making.

A gift of apples...

I was lucky enough to be given a bag full of homegrown apples from my friends tree. She even picked them and delivered them to my door. Thanks Mrs B. She said they were not great eating apples but were fantastic cooking apples. I thought about making my own apple pies or maybe some apple sauce but then I remembered  that how great the paste was.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1kg cooking apples (granny smith or the generous friend kind)
  • 1kg firm pears (the green ones not the brown ones)
  • 1kg caster sugar
  • 500g water
  • 1 clove
  • preserving wax (sold in preserving or home-brew stores)
  • small serving pots

You will need to peel, chop and core the apples and the pears. I did this by hand the first time but it took forever. This time, another good friend of mine lent me her little apple peeler thing and it worked an absolute treat!

Apple peeling the easy way.

Works for pears too.

Put the chopped apples and pears into a big pot with the water. Simmer away for about 12-15 mins. Once softened, removed the clove and push through a sieve or blitz in the food processor to get a fine consistency. Measure out the fruit. The recipe says use 750g sugar to 1kg fruit. But I say do it to your taste buds. The first time I used 1kg sugar and yeah, it was sweet but tasted great with strong cheese. This time I forgot to weigh my fruit so guessed and put 750g sugar in.

Return to the heat and bring to the boil and then simmer for 50 mins or until fruit thickens and becomes glossy. Now be careful at this stage because it gets really thick and looks like a volcano erupting. I think its best if you half cover it with a lid. I did sustain a hot apple lava bomb to the face last time.

Its a hot fruit volcano.

Once its cooked out, turn off the heat. Oil your little dishes with some spray or wipe with olive oil. Spoon the mixture in to the pots but leave about 1cm at the top to put on the wax. And make sure there are no high spots, it will make it hard when trying to cover with the wax.

Use lots of different dishes or the same. It really looks good in little espresso cups.

Melt your preserving wax as per the instructions and spoon over the hot fruit. Leave to set. You can then store them in your pantry for up to a year they say. Of course, mine won’t last that long. And I kept mine in the fridge. But that’s up to you. When ready to eat, run a knife around the wax seal and it should pop off.

It takes 3 days for the fruit to set. And last time I tried it at the 3 day mark. And that’s why I thought I failed. It tasted like overly sweet baby food. However, about 6 weeks later I had one lonely pot left so I took it on a trip to visit my little bro. Fearing the worst, we popped the wax seal and tried it. It was DELICIOUS! So that’s the trick, you need to let them sit for at least 6 weeks to develop in flavour. We thoroughly enjoyed it with a kick ass cheese plate.

I know it seems like a lot of trouble, but really it’s not. And because it lasts for such a long time, you could make one big batch a year. Now…will I be able to wait 6 weeks for this lot?

Ooooh la la...the finished product.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,