A Week Is A Long Time In Christmas-tics

I have made it through the week. The mind is intact though the body is weak and totally worn out. The days have been packed with activity, one, two or sometimes even three things, for seven days: in spite of all my planning, it just happened.

Also, there is a smudge on my camera lens, I breathed on it just now and gently cleaned it with some soft fabric. This is probably the wrong thing to do, but the smudge went away. I can feel the lens is scratched. I may need a new camera.....

I have had so many Christmas occasions and appointments and my mum came to visit for three days for her birthday: we did so many things and had a wonderful time. I baked lots of things for my mum and sewed her nothing. I did take up her new trousers. We ate curry and toasted sandwiches and a delicious meal at a posh restaurant where I even had a tiny dessert. It was a passionfruit meringue sundae, served in a tiny glass with shortbread crumbs then passionfruit curd, passionfruit ice-cream and a caramelised meringue shard. It was so delicious but I felt far too full!! Mum had the frozen lemon parfait with caramelised mandarin and a scoop of lemon curd icre-cream.

The Labradors have felt neglected. They went for a walk with mum and Hedy is in love with her. She wiggled and waggled and carried on a treat. They both ran very fast as they were so excited. It is good to see Lorelai Gilmore running and being well.

Gilly and Hedy running fast

Gilly is far more sensible. You can tell she is more sensible because she is poking out her tongue!!! We had a lot of rain after the heatwave broke and Gilly and Hedy took every advantage and were totally wet all the time.

Hello we are very wet

Though they may have felt neglected, they were not and there were games and paddle pool adventures at ten o'clock at night.

I have been sewing for my friends. I sewed some Project Bags by By Annie for our Sewing group. I made the third biggest size, there are four, and they measured 35cm square. The back is quilted and the front has vinyl and a zip. I made them to easily hold layer cakes and our Moda Cake Mix papers.

By annie project bags

I made two needle rolls for our Knitting Friend who is going to live overseas. One is for Double Point needles and the other for interchangeable tips, and I left a space for some cables.

Dpn needle roll

Interchangeble needle roll

I sewed Christmas shopping bags for my friends. I didn't go to our 2017 Christmas because my mum was here, so I sent them all off to good homes!!

Christmas 2017 bags1

Christmas bags 2

And finally I sewed some zippy chip/popcorn bags as well. These are always popular and they are well used. The children wear them out so I am happy to make them a new one every year.

Zippy chip bags

Consequently there was no Friday Food, but I made a gingerbread traybake for Leukaemia Christmas BBQ. It was so easy, and though I didn't taste it, I had so many requests for the recipe I sent it off to our nurses for them to email to the group. I can highly recommend it and I will post the recipe this Friday. I did have tiny gingerbread decorations but I could not for the life of me find them so I used festive M'n'Ms. I forgot to take a picture of the bags I sewed for our fabulous nurses, they look after us all so well.

Gingerbread traybake

MrsDrWho has bought an aviary,

Aviary

and furnished it with love in anticipation of finches. The finches are being re-homed and they arrived this week. I am looking forward to seeing them.

Birdies are here

And finally, I managed to take a reasonable photo of The Labradors for our Christmas card. Someone had their eye closed, or was looking away, or would not sit close enough to the other dog!!! This is not the photo, but it is pretty good. I was holding a seaweed rice cracker to entice Hedy Lamarr to look my way. Lorelai Gilmore is a super model, she needs no encouragement.

I am holding a biscuit  Gilly and Hedy want it

If you have read this far, well done and would you like a Christmas card from The Labradors?? There is an Email Me button at the bottom of the side bar, or you can leave a comment and we will email and ask for your address. We sent cards last year and it was lots of fun. We can't promise they will be there before Christmas, but that's par for the course in our lives.

This week I am going to try and sew a dress to wear to the Star Wars The Last Jedi at a quarter past midnight on Thursday morning. Wish me luck. I have my back up Star Wars dress, so we shall see. After our walk tomorrow we plan to sleep ALL DAY.

And finally, The Parliament said Yes, and same sex marriage is now law. People can be married from January 9th I think. I do think it rather rich that some politicians smugly congratulated themselves on the passing of the Bill. I say that we did their job for them and they could have saved the $122,000,000 and done their jobs. We did it for them and they should not steal the credit. Happy New Marriage Year!!!


Friday Food: Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath

Rasp swirl pav wreathI am very pleased with the way this pavlova wreath turned out. It looks so festive and marvellous to the eye, and according to my sewing friends: it tastes delicious. Seconds were had!!! This is Donna Hay's Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath.

 

 

 

 

I love baking pavlovas and I am lucky enough that they seem to like me too: I can whip one up with no trouble at all. I have some helpful hints:

  • always make sure the eggs are at room temperature
  • separate the eggs separately, that way if any yolk creeps through, it only affects one egg-white
  • wipe the bowl and beaters with some vinegar to make sure they have no oil on them
  • add the caster sugar slowly, spoon by spoon
  • whisk the pavlova until it is glossy (not gloss!!), and when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers it is silky smooth- no gritty sugar
  • I use malt, white or even apple cider vinegar, it doesn't seem to matter
  • try to be prepared and make the pavlova the day before, or early in the morning of the day. That way it can cool slowly in the oven

I usually use 50g of caster sugar for each egg-white, Donna Hay weighs and measures far more specifically. I just went with eggs that were 700g per dozen and used 6 egg-whites and 300g of caster sugar.

I tried to push the raspberry mixture through the sieve, and it was not fine enough so lots of the seeds went through. I gently smoothed it through again with a silicone spatula and it was better, but not perfect. I always add vanilla extract to a cooled mixture, as I believe that it is wrong to cook the extract. I don't know why!! Ah, I searched and if you boil the extract, which has alcohol in it, it burns off most of the flavour.

I used freeze-dried strawberries because they were easier to find than freeze-dried raspberries. Nobody cared.

If I was going to bake this for Christmas, and wanted to get ahead, I don't recommend using the raspberry swirl. The pavlova won't keep well. I would recommend just making the pavlova wreath and then swirling the raspberry swirl on the whipped cream topping.

I traced a circle with a permanent marker on the back of the baking paper and then folded it into quarters and then it was easy to make thirds: and ergo, twelfths. I extended the lines so I could make my wreath sections as easily as possible. I didn't have a square enough tray, so I made five extra little pavlova sections separately.

You should definitely make this: wreaths are trending this year for Christmas, and there will be a dessert wreath to suit everyone!!!

 

NB An Australian tablespoon is, very sensibly I think, 20ml.

 

Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath    serves 6-8

 

For the raspberry swirl:

  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbspn (8 teaspoons) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

For the pavlova:

  • 225ml egg-white (about 6) at room temperature
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn white vinegar ( I used malt)
  • 2 tspn cornflour

To decorate:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 250g fresh rapsberries (I used some my friend froze from her garden last year)
  • 2 tbspn pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 tbspn freeze-dried raspberries, crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 150*C.

Raspberries and sugar

Make the raspberry swirl by stirring the raspberries and caster sugar, in a pan,  over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes. It will slightly reduce and thicken.

Raspberry swirl

Smooth through a sieve, add the vanilla extract and refrigerate. It needs to be cold before being spooned over the unbaked pavlova.

Egg white and sugar

Beat the egg-whites until stiff peaks form and then add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time every 30 seconds. It took about 10 minutes, I got bored at the end. Then beat for a further 6 minutes or until you feel no grit when you rub a little of the mixture between your forefinger and thumb. It will be very glossy and white.

Vinegar and cornflour

Mix the vinegar and cornflour together and pour over the pavlova mixture, whisk for another 2 minutes.

Make the wreath

Prepare the wreath shape on the baking paper, always on the underside, and then spoon the pavlova into each section, making a wreath shape.

Swirl and bake

Carefully pour a little of the raspberry swirl on top of each wreath portion. I used a 1/4 tspn spoon. Then swirl with the end of a teaspoon. Turn the oven DOWN to 100*C and bake the pavlova wreath for 60 minutes. Then turn the oven off, and leave the wreath inside until it is perfectly cold. I left mine overnight.

Just before serving, spoon a little whipped cream over each section and top with the fresh raspberries. Then sprinkle on the freeeze-dried raspberries and the chopped pistachios. And then it is a special Christmas treat for your mouth!!

Rasp swirl pavlova wreath

An plain pavlova wreath, baked without a raspberry swirl, will keep for at least a week in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard.


There Is A Season (Burn Burn Burn)

We are melting, like The Wicked Witch of the West from OZ. Oh the weather has been so hot, so hot that it has broken all records for high temperatures in November for all time. I checked last year's November statistics at the BOM and the hottest day was 26.5*C, and the rest of the month was in the teens or low twenties. My brain won't work and my illness makes it much harder for me to endure the heat. Tomorrow it will be 31*C, which is really like 36-39*C on The Mainland. Wish us luck, if we can make it to Saturday it will be only 20*C.

Backyard Labrador fun

The Labradors have remained cool. Gilly spends a lot of time in the paddle pool, and Hedy is young, so she copes far better. They went to the Vet because they had conjunctivitis. Lorelai Gilmore hasn't totally recovered. I think because she is immune suppressed, it takes longer for her to fight things off (like me!!) Hedy is fine now, though she hates me if I have a tube of ointment in my hand. We came to a compromise: she would tolerate the ointment in her eyes if it was just before she ate breakfast and dinner. Phew!! She was in denial at the Vet. Gilly's eyes were red and sore. Poor Gilly.

Sore eyes

I caught up with my friend TinkingBell last week. We had a lovely day of chatting, drinking cups of tea and browsing the shops. It is too hot to stop and take a photo of my lovely Dalek necklace. I love it, so wait on tenterhooks for that!!! I sewed a Doctor Who bucket bag and a drawstring bag. I used this pattern for the bucket bag and I can recommend it. It's free and has only a few pages to print out and tape together. It sews up really easily and quickly. I just made up the drawstring bag. I used my Doctor Who fabric. And my photos are worse than usual.

Doctor who bags

My photo of when a woman walked into a bar was so terrible that Onyi took over. Look at her photo: marvellous!!

A woman walks into a bar

The Darksideknitter has a new job and so we went to a "bar" for drinks. I had 0.9 of an alcoholic ginger beer. I ordered a small ginger beer with ice and the bartender filled the glass almost to the top, added ice and then charged me less than the full price for a less than full glass. I have never come across this before. But ask me how many bars I have been in in the last 28 years?: that would be one, this one. I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken with Korean chilli dipping sauce. There was so much chicken I had to take half home. Women let other women have just one chip, and the chips were very good. They were crispy and salty on the outside and fluffy and hot on the inside. Yum.

Almada for Auntie Dutch

I finished The Seamwork Almada robe for Auntie Dutch. I took the world's worst photo and all Hedy's shredded tissue paper from my new shoes was on her cushion. I have covered it up poorly but it looks like clouds of snow, and that is very cooling. I met Uncle and Auntie Dutch on Monday for afternoon tea and then unexpected dinner. The Labradors had to wait till 8-45pm for their dinner. They coped. This is why they never know when they will be fed: guerilla dining!!! The robe would take two hours to sew, but I did French seams and made my own biased binding and then covered the cuff seam with purchased binding too. Auntie Dutch liked it, and wafted about in it when we went home for cups of tea and patting Poppy the dog. They brought me back a few things from Ikea, and refused to take my money, they are kind and lovely friends.

#114 Auntie Dutch

Forest bunting

I sewed a shopping bag, bag #114, and used the off cuts for some bunting instead of a card. I have made tiny bunting before and Auntie Dutch was chuffed. I must make more.

Iced vovo fascinator

Auntie Dutch made a fascinator to wear to a Melbourne Cup lunch, her mum enjoys the occasion and so Auntie Dutch goes with her. This is an Iced Vovo confection. She sprayed the biscuits with clear varnish of some kind, so sadly, you can't snack on a biscuit on the way home!!

Early christmas present

My mum gave me money to buy a new food mixer, but before I could spend it MrsDrWho and MrsSingapore et al bought me this!! I am so lucky and so excited. I haven't opened it yet, but I plan to make something tonight when it is cooler for Friday Food: a raspberry swirl pavlova wreath from Donna Hay. It is very Christmassy. I am going to use the money my mum gave me to buy new prescription sunglasses.

New wool  gorgeous

I have some gorgeous new wool from Knits Needles & Wool: Rose Hip Knits, a Tasmanian who hand dyes White Gum Wool. The colour is Woods. It is so soft and luxurious and I will be making something warm for my neck next Winter.

Produce box Produce list

This week's produce box makes me very happy. I love broad beans and I have already eaten cucumber and tomato sandwiches and an apple for lunch today. I shall have some kind of stir-fry for tea.

And now we have reached the point where we have been inside here too long. I think a dip in the paddle pool is called for. I may have to stand under a cool shower.....


Friday Food: Candy Cane & Brownie Ice-Cream

Brownie candy cane ice creamOh, we are melting. It is the hottest November ever here, with temperatures at least 10*C above normal. I could not turn on the oven. I was inspired by Gemma from Bigger Bolder Baking and then Donna Hay. I watched Gemma's ice-cream video and it reminded me that I made two-ingredient ice-cream as well. I had candy canes and when I searched I found Donna Hay's recipe. She uses vanilla ice-cream from the supermarket. I felt I had properly made something because I whipped up the ice-cream!! I bought the brownie, well a double choc-chip muffin......

You can add anything to this ice-cream. I chose the brownie and candy cane option, because it is festive and the ice-cream will keep in the freezer and I am a tad prepared for Christmas now!!!

The ice-cream is whipped for 4 minutes and then there is some crushing, crumbing and finally folding: less than 10 minutes in all..

 

 

Candy Cane and Brownie Two Ingredient Ice-Cream     makes 2 litres

 

  • 600ml whipping cream
  • 395g can of sweetened condensed milk, very very very cold

 

  •  Or 2 litres of vanilla ice-cream, softened

 

  • 8 large candy canes, crushed
  • 100g brownie, crumbed
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract, optional

 

Whip

In a large bowl, whip the cream with a mixer until it is thick - about 2 minutes. Pour in the very cold condensed milk and whip until thick again- another 2 minutes.

Candy canes

Remove the plastic from the candy canes and then crush them. I put them in two zip-lock bags and smashed them.

Add embellishments

Add the crushed candy canes and the crumbled brownies. Fold through. Fill a container, I used two 1 litre loaf tins, and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.

And freeze

And serve. This will keep for up to 8 weeks in the freezer, well wrapped and airtight!!

Candy cane brownie ice cream


Friday Food: Cherry & Pecan Brownies

Cherry pecan brownieI lost my camera card. It was almost a blogging emergency. It fell under the lip of Hedy's little box. I had to peer about down low with a torch. Crisis averted. December is not far away and I am planning my celebratory baking. I was going to bake something else, but the RB Digital app isn't working properly (again) and I was left browsing The Internet. Jamie Oliver came to the rescue with this brownie. He calls it Cherry Brownie, but I like to alert people to the presence of nuts in a recipe at the outset. Of course you can leave them out. This brownie is melt and mix and bakes so very quickly!!

I used Morello cherries and decided to double the amount as they aren't as cherry-y as fresh cherries, of which I had none. The pecans roasted for 5 minutes as the oven was heating up, and I do believe it makes a difference with the pecans being toasty and fragrant. I also chose to add the extra chocolate in the form of dark choc chips.

I can't find my 20cm square tin and so substituted one of the disposable 20 x 30cm BBQ trays and made it square by chocking up the baking paper with a box cut to fit. It worked quite well.

The brownie baked for 20 minutes and it is Very Squidgy in the centre. It was still warm after only cooling for an hour, and if it is refrigerated it will be less fragile.

This is incredibly quick to make and bake and it smells so delicious: chocolate, cherry and pecan. It is perfect for celebratory occasions in December!! 

I did taste a few crumbs that fell off when I cut it and it is soooo yummy. I am now making some peppermint tea to help ameliorate any I-Ate-Chocolate-Symptoms.....

 

Cherry & Pecan Brownie     serves 16

  • 130g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
  • 55g fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 55g pecans, roasted
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 55g cocoa powder, Dutch processed is good
  • 75g plain flour
  • 3/4 tspn baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g milk or dark chocolate extra, chopped or use choc chips

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave on High for 30 seconds, stir and then heat for another 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.

Mix

Add the cherries and pecans and fold in. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together and then add to the chocolate mixture, stirring well to combine.

Mix more

Whisk the eggs together and add to the brownie batter along with the extra chocolate if you are using it. Mix for a final time and then pour into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Jamie Oliver says he wants them to be gooey in the centre: the level of gooiness is up to each individual. After 20 minutes and an hour to cool the centre was quite gooey. Cool in the baking tin and then cut into squares.

The cherry pecan brownie

The brownie was so dark and mysterious it was difficult to photograph. And I am not terribly good when all the stars align photographically!!


Love Is In The Air

I have been a wreck all day, ever since I woke up at 6-30am. The ABS man took a full three minutes to announce the result of the Same Sex Postal Survey: it was a YES!! I have cried happy tears all day, every time it was on the news that almost two-thirds of Australians voted YES. Every time I saw Penny Wong cover her face and cry. Every time I saw the man ask his partner to marry him. Every time. Every time. Every time.

I was so afraid we might end up with a Brexit or a Trump result, but my faith in Australians is restored and bolstered.  Overall, it was 61.6% saying YES, and our state, with a terrible record for many years, had the equal third highest YES vote. 133 out of 150 electorates said YES to civil marriage for a woman and a man, a woman and a woman, and a man and a man.

Now we wait for the Parliament to do the right thing, to pass the bill and not allow discrimination by wedding bakers and florists. I was pleased to see James Paterson's bill has been taken down. I have my fingers crossed again. I didn't think I would ever see the day.

I have been recovering from my eye operation, it has only been three weeks, and I have been extra tired. I have hay fever, and I can only take my 'pretend cold tablets' which also make me drowsy. There has been a lot of sleeping. I had a battery of weird and expensive tests and an ultrasound (I didn't have to pay, yay again for Australia). The good news is that nothing has changed, which could also be the bad news, but I choose to think happy thoughts: if my condition ever changes, it won't be for the better!!

Investigating the new paddle pool

Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr have a new paddle pool. It is sooo much smaller then the green one which is 28 years old, but it means Hedy can't monopolise the cool water. Gilly would never push her out and so there's always a spare pool now.

Paris the trainee Guide dog

Sandy's dad and mum don't have a new dog, after Sandy died, but they are Respite care for trainee Guide Dogs. They hosted Paris over the Recreation Day long weekend. Paris is two years old, and she wasn't allowed off her lead as the dam area is not secure. We don't want her running down an almost vertical hill into a gorge of trees like Gilly and Hedy......

Down the dreaded dip

They are good girls and come back when they are called!! Hedy like to roll about, and she especially likes to show you her belly when she has done something wicked, let's say stealing the wraps from the grocery bag, opening the packet and eating them. She loves the grass at the dam.

Hedy rolling in the deep grass

Gilly watches and waits for Sandy or Rafa's dads to arrive.

Gilly looks for Sandy's dad

Rafa is always very popular.

Rafa is very popular

I had planned to sew today as the forecast said it would be cool. It was not. It was 29*C and we always add 5-8 degrees, so if you do the maths it was quite hot. In the end I did cutting out. It will be cooler tomorrow and I plan to sew. I am making the Seamwork Almada Robe in some lovely rayon from Spotlight. This is the photo from the Almada PDF.

Seamwork almada robe

I've also cut out ten Christmas shopping bags, ready to sew up the bodies.

Ten christmas shopping half bags

Although I have The Instagram, and it is so easy to post a photograph, I love my blog. I have found lots of people whose blogs I used to follow, and so I am very pleased to see them again!!

I still haven't knitted with my plastic surgery-ed finger. The weather is warmer now, so I have given up on this year's cardigan. I can sew, so I am making the best of it. I have read four books in the last three days, and found all bar one of my Library books, so I am doing well. I have a week to find it..... One job I want to do is add the 77 books I have read since June to my side bar. I love having a record of the books I read and I am way behind.

I haven't kept up with answering my comments. I want catch up in the next few days. Sometimes they are too far back to appear on my iPad and I am too lazy to turn the computer on!!!!

It is not long until Christmas and I am not panicking or worrying. I even found edible rose petals for my Turkish coconut ice at the deli at the corner. I have been slowly shopping for presents and making baking lists. I love Christmas!!

 


Friday Food: Smashed Potatoes

Smashed potatoesA few months ago there was a show on Our ABC called Short Cuts to Glory, hosted by Matt Okine. It was a beginner's guide to baking, with recipes, tips and hints from famous Australian chefs and bakers. I watched most of the show and borrowed the book from The Library. I have only cooked one thing, and it was spectacularly simple and successful: the Smashed Potatoes. The recipe comes from The Monday Morning Cooking Club, and they are indeed the crispiest potatoes I have ever baked or roasted.

You do need the right kind of potatoes. The recipe specifies chats, which I found out are baby Colibans, but basically any small-ish floury potato. And this is a 3 ingredient recipe, so super easy. I think the trick is to boil and then bake the potatoes. I did half with skin on and half peeled, just to see what happened. The recipe suggests adding chilli flakes, lemon zest, herbs or even bacon to up the flavour ante.

That is all there is to say: gorgeously crisp and tasty smashed potatoes. Yum!!

 

Smashed Potatoes         serves 6-8 as a side

  • 1 kg baby chat potatoes, or other small floury potato
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt flakes

 

Prepare a tray by covering it with baking paper. It says to preheat the oven to 180*C now, but it takes about 25 minutes to boil and cook the potatoes, so I usually turn the oven on 10 minutes before I need it.

Boil potatoes

Put the potatoes, peeled or unpeeled as you like, into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and the boil gently for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. If you poke them with a thin sharp knife and it pierces the potatoes easily, they are done.

Smash  oil  salt  roast

Cool slightly, and place on the tray. Press down with the heel of your hand, or any other flat pressy thing, and gently smash the potatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast for an hour, or until the potatoes are a dark golden brown and crispy. My potatoes took 70 minutes tonight.

Rest on some paper towel if they are a tad oily, and then serve, in all their crispy glory!!!

Best smashed potatoes

 


Friday Food: Creamy Chicken & Risoni Tray Bake

Creamy chicken risoni bakeI think this recipe is from the September Taste magazine, but I also found it on their site here. I made this in September and today when I was feeling tired and not up to any proper baking, I remembered this and how easy it was to make. I even found actual sage on sale in the supermarket, but if you can't find fresh, use dried. I swapped out the chicken drumsticks for thighs as I don't really like drumsticks.

Other than that, I made the recipe as written, though I halved it. The risoni is lovely, pillowy and rich and this is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day. Make sure your baking dish is a deep one, as there is a lot of liquid and I think it needs a large surface area so it can bubble away and reduce. I was too lazy to fry the sage leaves for serving at the end. I know it is cheffy to fry them, but I just tore the leaves, frying was too much of an effort tonight.

Really, that's all there is to say this week: great recipe, all made in the one tray, ready in less than an hour and tastes delicious.

 

Creamy Chicken & Risoni Tray Bake    serves 4

  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 drumsticks or about 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 6 large sage leaves, torn
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 750ml (3 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Optional extras to serve:

  • lemon zest
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • fried sage leaves

 

 

Preheat the oven to 200*C or 180*C fan-forced. Put the baking dish in and leave for 5 minutes or until it is very hot. Pour half the oil over the base and add the chicken, leek, mushrooms and torn sage leaves. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top and bake for 20 minutes.

Prepare and bake

Turn the chicken and sprinkle the risoni in between. Pour over the cream and stock and bake for a further 30 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through and the risoni  has absorbed almost all the liquid. If not, bake a little longer.

Add risoni liquid and bake

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the frozen peas and stir well. Set aside for 5 minutes for the peas to warm, through.

Add peas

Return the chicken to the dish and sprinkle with the lemon zest, Parmesan and sage leaves and serve straight away. This does improve on keeping, so a day or two in the fridge won't hurt!!

Creamy chicken risoni traybake


Friday Food: Cream Cheese & Rhubarb Blondies

Rhubarb cream cheeseblondie sliceRhubarb is in season, and at the greengrocer only $2-50 a bunch, it's $6 at the supermarket. I went back and bought more!! I saved this recipe from the October Woolworths Fresh magazine. I didn't know it would be so very good. It was a big hit with my friends, so I will definitely be making this again.

There are three main steps, but none of them onerous. I didn't even use anything electric to mix or beat, just a big spoon. I did make sure the cream cheese was nice and soft so it was easy to beat and wasn't lumpy.

I chose not to add the cornflour to the rhubarb to thicken it. The rhubarb maintained its shape and there was hardly any juice at all. The blondies were fine, and not really affected. I think the tart rhubarb is perfect with the cream cheese, but you could substitute stone fruit I think: peaches and orange zest, apricots, or plums.

The recipe says only to cool the slice and then serve, and while it may be nice that way, I think it benefits from some refrigeration. It doesn't need anything else, it is perfect as it is. This will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge and makes 20 pieces.

 

Cream Cheese & Rhubarb Brownies     makes 20 pieces

  • 5 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbspn water
  • 1 tspn cornflour
  • 1 tspn cold water, extra
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar, extra
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract/paste
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour

 

Grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin with high sides (3-4cm)

Cook rhubarb

Put the rhubarb and 1/3 cup caster sugar and 2 tspn water into a pan over a medium heat and stir till sugar is dissolved. Once it comes to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 8 minutes. Decide whether your rhubarb is thick enough. If it is not, mix the cornflour and extra cold water together, stir into the rhubarb and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and cool.

Cream cheese mixture

When you are ready to make the blondies, preheat the oven to 180C, in the fan-forced oven I only heated it to 160/170*C. Beat the cream cheese and extra caster sugar together until smooth. Add 1 egg, beat well and set aside.

Blondie batter

Make the blondie by whisking the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and remaining 2 eggs together.

Batter and flour

Sift over the two flours and stir well.

Swirl and bake

Pour the blondie batter into the lined tin and then dollop over the cream cheese mixture, alternating with the rhubarb. Use a knife to swirl the two toppings together and then bake for about 30 minutes. It is ready when it is set on the outside and slightly jiggly in the centre, but firm to the touch. Cool in the pan.

Serve warm, or cold from the fridge. Thank you to MrsReno for the lovely little plate and fork!!

Rhubarb blondie cream cheese slice


Eye Am...Eye Said

Waiting in the eye hospital

Now that The Finger is doing nicely, it is time to have an operation on my eye. I can't have two very sore things at once. A cyst has been growing on my eye for some time now, and yesterday the doctor removed it. MrsDrWho kindly dropped me off and waited for about ninety minutes. It all seemed to go very well and my cyst was appraised as "giant". It was about as big as a peanut M'n'M. I didn't have sedation, just a whole lot of local anaesthetic. I could feel things happening by pressure, but not pain.

Eye operation

My eye doesn't hurt at all, but it is nice to keep the eye patch on because the swelling irritates when I blink. Hedy does not like me: I am some kind of evil pirate from the right, and myself from the left. If she is lying on the left and rolls over and is suddenly on the right she has to scramble to run away. Gilly takes it all in her stride and wants to lie next to me all the time.

I need to go back on Monday to have my eye checked.

Gilly at the vet with hedy

Lorelai Gilmore went to the vet last week for her blood tests. Hedy came too, as she howls like a banshee if left home alone. And vice versa. Gilly's tests were excellent and she doesn't have to go back for six months. She has to continue taking her Imuran tablets every second day for the rest of her life, but they don't seem to have any real side effects. Dr David, who diagnosed her last August, is very pleased and we are very grateful.

Gilly and Hedy at the dam

The weather has been not too hot and we have had lovely brisk walks at the dam. The paddle pool has been in constant use at home, and no-one has fallen in a hole at the dam again!!

Produce box 3

My produce box arrived and it has some different things in it this week. And mint! I love mint. I made tzatziki last week and I will probably make some again, but with mint. I grated the rest of the apples into some pork sausage rolls and made a leek and kale pasta bake with anchovies. This week I am making a Thai red curry and plan to use the Spring cabbage, pumpkin and silverbeet.

Esme's Patchwork has some of the Moda Cupcake Mixes for Charm Squares in stock and I bought one. It is a pad of fine paper, printed with sewing and cutting lines. I am using my Batik from the Quilt Expo and some denim-like quilting fabric.

Cupcake mix 1

You pin the two fabrics right sides together, paler fabric on top. Sew along the dotted lines with a short stitch length and then trim and cut along the solid lines.

Sew cupcake

Press to set, then press open and tear off the backing papers. Sew together in the formation you choose and voila:

My cupcake

I love it, it is pretty much perfect and the points are pointy too.

Now I am tired and need to rest again.