Friday, January 30, 2015

FFWD - Croquants

For French Fridays with Dorie this week, we were assigned one of our last dessert recipes - nutty, meringue based cookies called croquants.

I had wanted to make these for ages, so I was really pleased with this week's pick. The recipe sounded just like cookies that are served alongside coffee in one of my favourite chocolate shops, Ganache Chocolate

Croquants are super easy to put together - they are just chop, stir, dollop and bake cookies.  For the nut component of the cookies, I used chopped roasted almonds.

These crispy cookies are perfect on their own, although as Dorie suggests, they would also make lovely icecream sandwiches.

To see what the other Doristas thought of the croquants, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

EwE- Shotgun Wedding Soup

It is week 2 of our new group, Eating with Ellie, where we cook along from Weeknight Wonders by Ellie Krieger.  Kayte had kindly sent me the recipe, but today, my book arrived, so I am in action.

This week, Margaret chose Shotgun Wedding Soup.  I had no idea what this was until I read the recipe, but apparently the name has to do with the marriage of meat and vegetables.  It is a kind of chicken soup with egg and spinach that reminded me of chicken noodle soup from a Chinese restaurant, sans noodles.

I made a half recipe (no idea what I'd do with 8 cups of soup!), which was plenty for two meals for me.  I minced a chicken thigh myself instead of buying pre-minced chicken, which can be a bit dry. 

This soup made a quick, tasty meal.  I liked it rather than loved it, but I learned a new dish.

To see what our other EwE cooks thought, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WWDH - Spinach, Fetta and Almond Risotto

Our Wednesday with Donna Hay pick this week is from Chaya, who selected Spinach, Fetta and Pinenut Risotto, available online here.

I had no pinenuts, so I used chopped roasted almonds in their place.

This risotto was a cinch to put together, as all of the work is done by the oven,  and tasted really good.  I served it as a side with some pan fried chicken:

To see what everyone else thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Wednesdays with Donna Hay website.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TWD - Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, our assignment was brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake.  I was excited to be making this cake because it received rave reviews on the discussion forum from those who had already made it.

Dorie informs us that this cake is called a "weekend cake" because it can be made on Friday and will last all weekend, to be left out for family and guests to help themselves.  In France, a "cake" usually means a loaf cake, like this one. Dorie advises that this cake is best eaten a day after baking so that the flavours have time to develop. 

This cake came together quite easily and smelled marvellous while baking, primarily courtesy of the browned butter in it, which has a nutty aroma. It also looked rather handsome once unmoulded from the tin.

The cake itself is very flavoursome, with both the vanilla and rum flavours being prevalent in the finished product (note that I used vanilla extract rather than vanilla bean). It is sweet without being overly so; for children, you could easily add a glaze to the top of the cake so that they have their ultra-sweet hit. 

To see what the other Doristas thought of this cake, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lamington Slice for Australia Day

Today is Australia Day, and to mark the occasion, I made Donna Hay's Lamington Slice.

Lamingtons are an Aussie classic, but I was attracted by Donna's slice version, which is a twist on the original.

This slice was super easy and quick to make, although I found that I needed more icing than was stated in the recipe.

The resulting slice is true to the essence of a lamington, with a light sponge cake base, topped with moist chocolate icing and coconut.

The verdict - beauty!

Happy Australia Day to all of my Australian readers.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cupcake Decorating on a School Holiday Weekend

Recently, I hosted a cupcake decorating workshop one Sunday afternoon for a friend and her daughters during the school holidays. 

We made chocolate cupcakes together, and I had made carrot cupcakes in advance using the Crabapple Bakery cookbook recipe.

We then iced the cupcakes using a variety of techniques, including piping buttercream roses, swirls and ruffles, decorated with edible glitter, cachous and sprinkles:

then using buttercream and fondant, including colouring the fondant, moulding, rose making and using plunger cutters:

A sample of the end results is pictured at the top of this post.

The previous afternoon, I had attended the opening matinee performance of Strictly Ballroom The Musical at Her Majestys Theatre in Melbourne:

It was glittery, sparkly and fun - I couldn't help but come out with a big smile on my face.  If you liked the movie, or if you like good old fashioned fun, I recommend seeing this musical.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Magic Custard Cake

Recently on Facebook, I spied a recipe for Magic Custard Cake, posted by a friend of a friend.  The recipe was uncredited, but it intrigued me - after all, I love custard, and if this was a cake involving magic custard, well I am in!
The recipe posted was as follows:

4 eggs (whites separated from yolks), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk, lukewarm
powdered sugar for dusting cake
Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Grease and Line 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish with parchment.
Separate eggs and add the egg whites to a mixer and beat egg whites stiff. Place egg whites in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the egg yolks & sugar until light. Add butter and vanilla. Beat for two mins. Add the flour and mix it in until fully incorporated.
Slowly start adding the milk and beat until everything is well mixed together.  Add the egg whites, a third at a time and gently fold them in using a spatula, repeat until all egg whites are folded in. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for approximately 60 minutes or until the top is lightly golden.  
Cool and dust heavily with powdered sugar.
I had no idea how this would turn out, and was rather dubious when I saw how liquid the batter was.  However, I soldiered on, and was rewarded with this:

I clearly have been missing trending recipes, because when I Googled it, the recipe for magic custard cake was all over the Internet in one form or another.  What all of the recipes have in common is that from a one pot, single batter, you end up with a cake with three separate layers - a base, an egg custard filling, and a soft, light, cakey top.

I quite liked this cake, and it was low effort for high reward - a winner in my books.