The C-raté Kid

I missed my window for Friday Food last week. I baked cupcakes on Friday and we ate them on Saturday night, but by Sunday it was just too late. In good news, it means I have already prepared this Friday's Friday Food.

Cupcake

Hedy has been preparing something. I wasn't quite sure what, but it looked ominous.

Not sure what Hedy is planning.....

What she was preparing was a complete evisceration of her cushion in her crate.

Hedy in her little box

Of course now, she hates it. She tries to find a spot that is comfortable, and there is no good spot. There are just lumps of green filling, so she has to sleep on the plastic base and look balefully at us.

Lorelai Gilmore is feeling very well. She went to the vet with Hedy Lamarr last week, just to have a happy visit where no-one took blood, or put a thermometer somewhere uncomfortable. Gilly had lots of pats and treats and Hedy didn't bark at all: though I did show her the little bottle of diluted apple cider vinegar a couple of times.

Gilly on the steps

Gilly is alert and interested and happy and this week she took off several times on our walk and once ate old bones. Hedy was Not Happy when she couldn't find her sister and she showed her displeasure by trying to fit all of Gilly's head in her mouth when Gilly came back. It is pretty marvellous that Lorelai Gilmore feels well enough to be a bit naughty.

Gilly ran away, Hedy bites her

Hedy shows her displeasure by both ignoring me, and woofing at me.

Hedy, not Hedy not looking then pay attention to me

I have started knitting some new socks with my Opal Sweet & Spicy 3 Kiwi. It knits up so beautifully and I am trying a new gusset decrease, where you decrease every row, with no rest rows. I think it will be fine. Here is the first Chinese Gooseberry sock.

Chinese gooseberry start

I have two new sewing patterns. The first is Cashmerette's Upton Dress. It comes with a full bust adjustment already in the pattern for the bodice. Of course I still want to draft a new Princess Seam bodice with a FBA for this year, but I am eager to try one which might already fit. I bought the paper pattern from Sharon at Stitch56 and she could not have been more helpful. I emailed more than once to ask if the pattern had arrived in the country and then when I couldn't work the Cart, I rang up and she processed the transaction for me speedily and happily. The Upton Pattern is beautifully presented and Sharon wrapped it in pink tissue paper and posted it promptly!! Great Service. I plan to buy Colette's Rue Dress from Stitch56 soon. The second pattern is just a quick dress for when the thermometer goes 'way up, though I will probably do away with the ties at the shoulder.

New patterns

One of my social outings last week was catching up with Mrs Madcage. She's just back from a long trip up the east Coast of Australia, and she brought me back a lovely gift: fat quarters from towns along the way!! How kind of her and I love them all!!

Madcage material present

The days are gradually lengthening and this weekend Daylight Saving starts. I hate the whole "Spring Ahead" part of the "Spring Ahead, Fall Back". It takes us quite a while to adjust to the lost hour, but we love the longer evenings. I don't know an Autumn mnemonic to help me remember, so I have to resort to a USA one. Here are The Labradors outside just before their dinner. It is still light after 6pm.

Gilly looks right and well and Hedy too

And now I am half way through the foot of the new sock and I am recording Gruen so I can start watching anon.


Don't Go Cake-ing My Heart

Gilly is doing well. Dr David is very pleased with her progress, and my own GP thinks she is doing well too. She has the correct amount of platelets and her Red Blood Cells are below normal, but not terribly much so.  I didn't realise how well she was responding until we again met The Golden Retriever with the same thing. He has been very unwell, can't eat, has lot 3kg and has a large sore on his back. Gilly is doing very well indeed.

There are no blood tests this week, but we are going to visit The Vet and have some lovely pats and tasty treats so Lorelai Gilmore doesn't think going to The Vet is a not-very-nice thing. Still, there are Liver treats and Gilly thoroughly inspects the room to make sure she has them all.

Gilly at the vet

Gilly is enjoying her walks again and can keep pace, more or less, with Hedy Lamarr if she wants to. This is a terrible picture, but it shows how much Gilly has improved: she trots along, tail wagging, interested in what she can find and see.

Gilly and Hedy as normal

There are a lot of smells to be smelled.

Gilly on the trail of a scent

And her fur is starting to grow back properly at last.

Lorelai's fur growing back

Hedy Lamarr's friend Rafa the Border Collie is not coming for a walk, he's at The Kennels. Hedy loves to play with Rafa and her pretend stick. Rafa pretends to be cross and barks at Hedy, then they swap and he runs with the stick and it is Hedy's turn to be cross.

Hedy, stick. Rafa , bark

While Rafa is away, Hedy is playing with Sandy instead. Sandy has had a sore back, but he is well again.

Sandy and Hedy play with the toy

But Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr especially love walking together. Hedy has learned not to bark incessantly in a shrill manner in the back of the car, and she is trying to learn not to bite Lorelai Gilmore. The little bottle of watered down Apple Cider Vinegar is a good deterrent, and most of the time I just show her the bottle and there is no need to squirt the vinegar. Hedy Lamarr is almost as big as Lorelai Gilmore, and she is 8 months old!!!

Hedy and Gilly happy on the walk

In the afternoon they snuggle up together on one too small cushion that Hedy has begun to eviscerate.

The Labradors on the cushion

I haven't done very much, other than look after Gilly and try to keep things ticking along: badly. I have almost finished the 2ply Loop de Loop. I have finished my BoHo not BooHoo socks,  which I started on 3rd July. They are lovely, and I have another same-but-different ball of green striped Nako Boho too, and a ball of Kiwi fruit inspired Opal too. I see more socks in my future!!

BoHo not BooHoo socks 2016

I should have suspected something when I caught both Gilly and Hedy in the kitchen on Saturday morning. I shooed them out and thought nothing of it. Little did I know they were on a fact finding mission. I baked a delicious chocolate orange fudge cake for MrsDrWho and left it to cool when I went out to dinner on Saturday evening. When I came home at 9pm I realised that I hadn't tied the baby gate shut and that the empty tin just inside the back door meant that they had eaten a whole cake. A cake that had 200g of rich dark chocolate in it. I rang the emergency number for The Vet and Dr Rob was on duty. He said that other than keeping a eagle eye on them, there probably wasn't anything to worry about. If they started vomiting or lost their balance they would need to go straight to The Vet and have a drip. The only drip was me, and now the baby gate into the kitchen is doubly secured with a green occy strap. $2-95 at Woolies, but priceless when it comes to peace of mind.

The reason I baked the cake a day early was because the power was off all day Sunday for power pole replacement. My next-door neighbour had the bright idea of taking the ingredients to MrsDrWho's house and baking it there, and so I did. It is an easy recipe (I didn't bother separating the eggs) and you melt and mix and it bakes in 25 minutes.

The Cake Emergency didn't break any hearts, or bank balances, though I may have just put a new pair of green sandals on lay-by today: new green shoes always cheer me up.

New sandals

And now we will all do what we have been doing an awful lot of: going to bed and sleeping. Lorelai Gilmore is taking fewer blue tablets, so she doesn't need to go outside so many times during the night, but I think the worry just makes me need more sleep. Hedy Lamarr doesn't always want to sleep, so sometimes we have to throw the Squeaky Toy until she's worn out. Hedy is a lovely girl, and we are so lucky to have her. She loves Gilly, and I think Gilly is glad to have a puppy to snuggle up with, but not one that bites her ears, so we are working on that!!

 

 


Friday Food: Bacon and Pea Slice

Bacon and pea sliceI really have no recollection why I put most books I request from The Library on Hold.  I can't remember where I saw, or heard about, them. They just appear, as if by magic, on my shelf in The Library. The Mama Bake Book is one such Hold, and it makes me wish I had a passel of children to feed, because it is an excellent meal planner. It is an Australian book, so it uses familiar measurements, ingredients and terms. It is organised into weekly menus to feed a family of four and has step by step preparation charts too. There are Slow Cooker, Vegan, Meat Free, Oven Bakes, I Don't Have Time To Cook , Budget, Pies, Toddlers, High Protein/Low Carb, Homemade Takeaway, Sickness Recovery and even Big Batch meals and sweets: Too many to mention.

MamaBake is "a baking community where mothers get together in their local neighbourhood to cook one big batch meal each and then share the dish with the others, resulting in everyone going home with a week's worth of freshly cooked homemade dinners." (MamaBake page 10) Since this is an ABC book, I think I probably heard about it on the radio.

I have already made a full batch of the Bacon and Zucchini Pea Slice for MrsDrWho to take for her school lunch, and today I made half a batch for me. I replaced the zucchini with peas, but I would also use broccolini, or carrot and celery too. I think it is a good vehicle for whatever vegetable you like, and tomato and pumpkin too, which are fruits. I bought some local bacon and I put it in the oven to crisp while the oven was preheating, so I saved a pan. I used Parmesan cheese and added some finely diced red onion, because I like onion. You can replace the plain flour and baking powder with 1 cup of self-raising flour too.

This slice is just so easy to make, and it keeps for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.

 

Bacon and Zucchini Pea Slice      makes 8 large or 16 small pieces

  • 6 rashers of bacon, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of peas OR 4 zucchini, grated
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 100g tasty cheese, grated
  • 20ml olive oil and a little extra to fry the bacon
  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180*C and if you want to save a pan, place the rashers of bacon on some baking paper on a tray while the oven heats up. In about 15 minutes it will be relatively crisp and ready to slice up. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm slice tin ready for baking.

Bacon bakin'

Otherwise, slice the bacon and fry in a little extra olive oil for five minutes until it is crispy and then drain on some paper towel.

Eggvengers assemble

Put the peas (zucchini), grated cheese and olive oil into a medium size bowl. I added the red onion here too. Mix together then add the eggs and finally the bacon, salt and pepper.

Come together, right now

When it is combined, add the flour and baking powder and mix well until the flour disappears.

And bake

Spoon the batter into the lined slice tin and press gently so it is level. Bake for 30-40 minutes. It is ready when the top is golden and mine came away from the sides of the pan.

Slice

Allow to cool completely and then cut into 8 or 16 pieces, or any combination you like. Refrigerate for a week or freeze for a month in airtight containers or freezer bags.

Lunchbox substitute

I don't have a lunch box, but if I did it would be green and contain a Granny Smith apple. This is my Twinings Earl Grey Tea tin!!!


Friday Food: Salted Caramel Ice-Cream Bombes

Bombe caramelThere is no baking at all in this recipe from Woolworths' Fresh Magazine 9/2016. And as a bonus for me, I can eat this dessert because I can have all the caramel I like. The ice-cream bombes can be prepared earlier and kept frozen before being whisked out at the last moment and served with a salted caramel sauce: a smear of sauce. I was able to buy the Woolworths' premium Gold brand salted caramel sauce, otherwise I would have made a salted caramel sauce: Nigella has an easy one here that doesn't require a thermometer.

I couldn't buy any toasted coconut flakes, I went to four supermarkets, so I used desiccated coconut. It didn't give the same effect visually, Caramel saucebut it tasted fine. I used Crunchie bars and chopped off the chocolate as there was no plain honeycomb. Of course you can leave the chocolate on if you prefer. I find it increasingly difficult to buy what I consider to be normal supermarket products. They are stocking fewer items and replacing them, sometimes, with their own range, if at all. I also couldn't buy the Salted Caramel Haagen-Dazs ice-cream in the recipe. It is apparently not stocked here, so I settled for their own brand. 

These were so easy to make, and easy to customise: maybe some raspberry ice-cream rolled in crushed Chocolate Ripple biscuits and a raspberry sauce, or Mint Cookies and Cream rolled in chopped up Mints Slice biscuits and a chocolate sauce. I think I could just be inspired by looking in the freezer at the shop!!

The recipe calls for a litre of ice-cream and makes 4 bombes. That's a cup of ice-cream each. I think I could stretch this easily to make 6 serves.

 

 

Salted Caramel Ice-cream Bombes      serves 4-6

  • 1 litre of salted caramel ice-cream
  • 1 cup crushed honeycomb - maybe 4 to 5 Crunchie bars (50g)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 300g of salted caramel sauce
  • extra salt flakes for serving if you like

 

Icecream and tray

Prepare a metal tray, lined with baking paper and put it in the freezer. It will be nice and cold when you need it and help the ice-cream bombes to set more quickly. At the same time take the salted caramel ice-cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften a little. 

Prepare the honeycomb

Prepare the honeycomb if you don't need, or want, the chocolate.

Honeycomb the bombes

Mix the honeycomb with the toasted coconut flakes, if you have them. I chose to coat with the honeycomb first and then let the coconut fill any gaps. I used an ice-cream scoop to make my bombe shape. I dipped it into hot water and then wiped it clean each time before I scooped.

Bombes ready to freeze

Freeze for an hour. I found the bombes needed at least 2 hours to be properly set again. Smear some salted caramel sauce on each serving plate, heat it slightly if it is not runny enough, top with an ice-cream bombe and sprinkle on a little extra salt. I didn't really need the extra salt, but it looked nice!!!

Salted caramel bombe


Simply The Test, Better Than All The Tests.

Today we had some better news about Lorelai Gilmore's health, which was a relief. Her platelets are in the normal range,  but her Red Blood Cell count is now low. Dr David lowered her steroid last week and she has been feeling a lot happier.

Lorelai's fur growing back

She played with her plastic cup this morning and ran up the hill (slowly, but it was a run) on Friday. We go back next week for another blood test and she may have to take an extra quarter of a tablet every evening. Dr David was also very pleased that Lorelai Gilmore wasn't a "butterball" and hadn't put on any weight at all. We are vigilant and diligent and she is slim, but hungry. Her fur is growing back too, which is great.

Hedy and Gilly happy on the walk

Hedy Lamarr has grown, she is almost as tall as Gilly now. Hedy is also growing in wickedness. She sits when you come home, but now she woofs. And she barks crossly if she doesn't get her way, or things are not to her liking. She has to be squirted with the watered down apple cider vinegar squeezy bottle. She totally wrecked the treat pocket and zip of my dog walking zippy-uppy top. The top was over the computer chair, and when I put it on and tried to zip it up this morning, I realised that there was something wrong. I quickly sewed it up, but I shall have to do something about it: either buy a  new zip or a new top.

Gilly can put Hedy in her place, but not very often. I encourage her to bite Hedy back or growl, but she doesn't want to.

Gilly is sometimes boss of Hedy

Hedy is in love with The pretend Stick. She plays with it all the time on her walk, and especially loves to play Chasings with Rafa.

Hedy, stick. Rafa , bark

And when we walk by ourselves it is my turn to throw The Stick and Hedy's turn to be very playful. She waits until you get close then tries to grab The Stick and run away!!

Hedy loves her stick

There has been very little crafting. I have started a Mohair Bias Loop: Loop de Loop, for Auntie Dutch. I am using Naturally Delight 2ply and 6.5mm bamboo needles. I did an invisible provisional cast on and though I missed knitting two stitches, I caught them a few rows up. This is nice and samey, it needs very little thought and I can just count the stitches every few rows and adjust the slant if I need to. I could have worked out the pattern, but I was happy to pay for someone else to do the thinking for me, with everything else going on - and it is also the right thing to do!!

Looping the loop

And a while ago I sewed Tote Bags #89 and #90. I used the last of the Peri Naughty/Gilly material and I found a Doctor Who fat quarter for Uncle Dutch.

Bags 89 and 90

Our local bakery is always right up to date with what is trending: it was first in town with Nutella doughnuts and now: Pokemon biscuits!!!

Pokemon biscuits

The Labradors are asleep, and soon we will all be in bed. Going to The Vet takes a lot of energy and it was especially hot there today. I might even knit a few rows of Loop de Loop. I have until the end of October, but I might finish before then!!


Friday Food: Asparagus Cannelloni With Easy Cheesy Sauce

Asparagus cannelloniAnd we're back with Friday Food. This week I baked something savoury for a change. It is indeed easy and looks as if you have spent quite a lot of time preparing. This would make a fancy entrée or, could be served with some pan fried salmon with a lemony butter sauce. I did toy with using some broccolini, and I think it would be an excellent substitute, though I would lightly steam or microwave it. If I made this again I would do the same to the asparagus, or I would trim it much shorter. I always feel there is more than a little waste with the trimming of the asparagus spears. The edges of the fresh lasagne sheets were less than soft, but not terribly much. I think I should have covered more of the pasta with the sauce, though in the picture from Taste magazine's September issue, they didn't.

I bought fresh ricotta at the supermarket deli and my cottage cheese had spring onion and chives mixed through. I may have added a little extra Parmesan cheese, because I do love cheese. Cheese is my downfall.

It took me less than five minutes to prepare the easy cheesy sauce and wrap the asparagus and then just half an hour in the oven and it was ready to eat. I didn't have any capers, so I just left them out. This was very yummy and I ate mine topped with some chopped spring onions and a big squeeze of lemon juice. I made half the recipe and made 5 rolls.

 

Asparagus Cannelloni with Easy Cheesy Sauce     serves 4

 

  • 350g fresh ricotta cheese
  • 200g cottage cheese
  • 160ml milk
  • 2 tspn Dijon mustard
  • zest of a lemon
  • 40g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives/spring onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bunches of asparagus, trimmed
  • 40ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 small fresh lasagne sheets ( approx 12 x 15cm)
  • 1 tbsp baby capers
  • chopped chives/spring onions for serving
  • salt and pepper

NB an Australian tablespoon is, sensibly, 20ml or 4 teaspoons.

 

Preheat the oven to 200*c/180*C fan-forced and grease a 20 x 30cm baking dish with half the olive oil.

Easy cheesy sauce

Put the ricotta and cottage cheese, milk, Dijon mustard, lemon zest half the Parmesan in a blender. Blend till smooth and season to taste. Spoon half the easy cheesy sauce over the base of the baking dish.

Asparagus and roll

Toss the trimmed asparagus in the rest of the olive oil and season to taste. Roll three spears of asparagus in each sheet of lasagne. Carefully place in the baking dish, seam side down, and gently press into the sauce. It seems to help the rolls stay rolled. Continue, placing the rolls side by side.

Sauce and bake

When all the pasta and asparagus is exhausted, top the rolls with the rest of the easy cheesy sauce ( and in my mind I say this every time with gusto and amusement) and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and the capers. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cheesy topping is golden. Sprinkle with extra chives/spring onions and you are done.

Asparagus cannelloni with easy cheesy sauce


Chandler Bing: No, Beth doesn't die. She doesn't die, does she, Rachel?

Spoiler: if you have never read Little Women, there is a spoiler below. So, why not just enjoy this short video of an echidna outside the back gate at our house yesterday. In suburbia. Waddling along to next door's garden and a safe hiding place.

 

 

In the episode of FRIENDS, The One Where Monica And Richard Are Just Friends, Rachel lets slip that in Little Women, Beth dies. In order to ameliorate the pain, Joey and Rachel put the book in the freezer, and then, nothing bad can happen to Beth.

I would like to have put the last two weeks in the freezer. No-one has died, but it has not been a very happy time at our house. Lorelai Gilmore went for her Dental Check with Hedy Lamarr and the vet found one of Gilly's big back teeth was fractured, it needed to be extracted ASAP.

Hedy sits to attention in all the photos at the vet. She is on her best behaviour, when she isn't barking with excitement. We are working on that. Gilly's tooth came out and though her face was a little swollen, she seemed happy.

Gilly, before and after the dentist

It all seemed to go well at her post extraction check-up, but then last Friday on our walk her mouth was filled with blood.

Gilly and Hedy in the mud

We went immediately from the dam to the vet, and after a day of tests and poking and prodding, we found out that she had an auto-immune reaction to something, and had no platelets, so her blood wasn't clotting. Maybe it was the anaesthetic, or the long operation, or just the shock of the tooth coming out, as it took almost an hour to remove it. Dr David was also worried about a tumour being the cause. Poor Lorelai had to start taking steroids and more tablets to stop her feeling poorly after she had eaten. She had another blood test on Sunday. We had to go for a walk while we waited and we met Auntie Dutch, so it was immensely exciting!!!

Walking and waiting

Today she went back again to have x-rays and scans. When I went in to see Dr David I thought, at first, he said it was bad news and I wondered why he was smiling and looking relaxed. As he spoke, I realised there was some good news. Lorelai Gilmore doesn't have any cancer or tumours, and so all we have to deal with is the auto-immune reaction. Dr David seems pleased that her platelet levels have risen and we go back again next week for more blood tests. He hopes that over time the dose of steroids can be reduced to nothing, and she will be as well as can possibly be expected.

In the middle of all this I had the most horrid sinus infection that the first batch of ordinary antibiotics couldn't fix. My next-door neighbour had to drive me to the doctor again a few days later as all my teeth were aching, my face was throbbing, the glands in my neck were swollen and I was a pitiful mess really. It was a relief when the doctor said that I was actually very unwell and gave me the giant horse sized antibiotics. It has taken five days, but I am beginning to feel like myself again.

Poor Hedy Lamarr has been left to her own devices. Luckily she has been busy with a new toy, a present from her Auntie BionicKnitaWoman:

Hedy's new stick toy

She is happy to go into her little box (crate) and sleep while everyone else is at the doctor or the vet. Or lie outside in the sun.

Hedy sunny

Poor Lorelai Gilmore has been struck down with something akin to my weird and not-wonderful illness, but at least hers may be easier to treat. We aim to be positive, since I have managed to live for fifteen years when the doctors held out little hope. The vets seem to hold out quite a lot of hope for Gilly, and we are happy to grasp any straw right now.

Well, that escalated quickly. Life is going along smoothly and then it all goes to hell in a handbasket. There has been no new knitting: The Betty Spencer Hat was finished before the hell in a handbasket started, and WeeJock&Bessie's Mum likes it very much.

The betty spencer hat 2016

So on we go. And after all, tomorrow is another day and we are being grateful that there is another day to be going on with.

Let there be much more cheery news to come and maybe even some sweet Friday Food this week.


Friday Food: Cherry Ripe Cupcakes

A ganache cherry ripe cupcakeAs I mentioned over a week ago, I was intending to bake the Cherry Ripe Cupcakes, from the August Taste magazine, for Sewing supper. I was struck down by a bug and so we all went to bed for three days and I ended up baking on Sunday. Although you can tizzy these up to the nth degree, the basic recipe is quick and easy, and they look nice with some, a bit, or all the extra embellishments. I found some fresh cherries at the supermarket, so I added those to lighten the richness. If you can find the Mini Oreos and freeze dried strawberries, that's great. I managed the Mini Oreos, but popped a fresh cherry on top as a replacement for the strawberries.

MrsDrWho, a seasoned cake aficionado, says that these are Very Rich and you may only be able to eat one fully embellished cake!!

I didn't take pictures of making the buttercream, I slightly lost the will to keep standing up, but there are lots of buttercream tutorials on The Internet. My ganache for drizzling was a tad too thick, but I just went ahead and drizzled thickly. I made half the recipe and, using my ice-cream scoop to fill the cupcake papers, it yielded 8 cakes.

I shall make these again, and decorate them simply, because they were so easy to make: melt and mix, and even just with a little ganache and a Cherry Ripe wedge, they look rather special.

Plainer cherry ripe cupcake

NB Sensibly, an Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 x 5ml teaspoons.

 

 

 

 

Cherry Ripe Cupcakes      makes 12-16

  • 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • 110g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 30g (1/4 cup) cocoa, I used Dutch processed
  • 150g (about 2/3 cup) butter, melted
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) coconut cream/milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 x 52g bars of Cherry Ripe, cut into 1cm pieces
  • optional, some fresh cherries, chopped

For the ganache:

  • 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
  • 2 tbspn thickened cream extra

For the buttercream:

  • 375g butter, softened
  • 450g (3 cups) icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tbspn milk
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • red food colouring

And extra decorations:

  • 1 packet of Mini Oreos
  • 3 x 52g Cherry Ripe bars cut into long triangular shapes
  • fresh cherries to pop on top

 

 

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Dry ingredients

Place the flour, coconut, sugar and cocoa in a large bowl and whisk together.

Combine wet and dry

Combine the melted butter, eggs and coconut cream. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in.

Mix, add extra yummy things

Add the Cherry Ripe pieces and fresh cherries, if you are using them, and then gently mix together until everything is well combined.

Bake

Scoop into the cupcake papers, I used an ice-cream scoop, and then bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then move to a rack to cool completely.

I usually make my buttercream while the cakes are baking. Please use the clicky links at the top of the post for the method. I made the batch of buttercream and divided it in two, and then added melted chocolate to one half and red food colouring to the other. I then whisked each furiously to combine. Fill some piping bags with tips, or not, and set aside.

Ganache the top

Meanwhile make the chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate and cream in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring well, until the chocolate is almost melted. Then stir till smooth. Allow to cool for 20 minutes until it thickens a little. Reserve 1/2 a cup and add to it the extra thickened cream. This will be for drizzling.

Spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cooled cupcakes.

Add buttercream

Pipe the chocolate buttercream onto each cupcake and then top with a pink buttercream swirl. Cut each Cherry Ripe bar into 4 wedges, 12 in all but be more judicious if you have 16 cupcakes, and poke one piece into each cake, artistically. Add a Mini Oreo on the other side to balance and then pop a cherry, or whatever you choose, on top. Finally, warm the remaining thinned ganache and drizzle over the cupcake.

Cherry ripe cupcakes

Un-iced/decorated these cupcakes can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer in an airtight container. Once they are fully decorated they really should be eaten sooner, rather than later.

Ganache cherry ripe cupcakes


Lie-low and Stitches

In between the snow and rain and wind, we have had some sunny days, and there is nothing a Labrador enjoys more (well, apart from eating and walks) than lying in the sun soaking up the Winter warmth.

Lying in the sun

All went well when Hedy went to the Vet to have her stitches removed. We went straight into a consulting room as there was a very barky unhappy-to-be-there dog in the Waiting Room. The nurse whisked Hedy out to the surgery and Gilly waited for her. Waited and waited, even though it was only five minutes. She was quite worried.

Gilly worries about hedy

Hedy cared not one jot, she was ready to run and play again.

Hedy at the vet after stitches removed

Instead of being like an angry giant parrot on the end of a stick, Hedy was allowed to run free at last. I am not sure Gilly was so happy, she liked being Boss of the Walk. You can just see Gilly, being Boss of the Walk, far away up the hill. She was rather naughty to run up there, but since Hedy was on the lead, she took the opportunity when it arose.

Gilly far away

Now things are back to normal, with Hedy Lamarr at Lorelai Gilmore's heels.

First walk off the lead

We all went to bed yesterday and most of today as I had a migraine. The DVR in the lounge-room has decided not to Timer Record any more, so I had to use the others. I have two old DVD recorders that can only tune in SD stations. The remote control may have been on the bed so I could turn the news on. Late this morning I was awakened by a strange noise.....

Demoted remote

Oh dear, this is Hedy's first official Naughty Thing. Gilly was shocked, shocked and horrified. It can not be all Hedy's fault as she had access to the remote. It still works, but intermittently. What good luck it is the remote for the DVR that is broken. Household appliances know when your Tax Return is expected. They know. So far we need a new DVR, a new Rice Cooker and a new mixer. The Rice Cooker costs less than $20 and works very hard almost every day, so I am not so bothered by that.

I am knitting WeeJock&Bessie's Mum a hat in some soft and luxurious Debbie Bliss Andes: mulberry silk and alpaca. I have only made the ribbing, twisted ribbing, thus far and I need to buy some more short 4.5mm ends to do the actual hat. This will be the not so slouchy version.

Hat band

I am also sewing a Star Spangled Jacket. Here is a tip: always cut sequinned fabric out on a sheet or some other protective covering. Ask me how I know. There are sequins from dawn till dusk all over the house. The jacket doesn't have a full lining, and the spangled fabric is not solid, so I needed to make my brain work extra hard to figure out how to work the full lining and facings. I am almost to the putting it all together stage. When you are about to take a photo and you say "Wait" to The Labradors, this is what happens: Gilly waits patiently and Hedy just rolls on into the picture.

Star spangled jacket with help

Our Sewing night has changed this term, so I have to be organised and sew this fortnight's block and bake some cakes for tomorrow night. I am thinking of baking the Cherry Ripe cupcakes from this month's Taste magazine. I bought some fresh cherries to tizzy them up. I am not sure about the overflowing chocolate ganache. Sure, it looks great, but it is not very eater friendly.

Cupcake

 


Friday Food: Salted Caramel Brownie

Slice of brownieThis brownie does not follow the recipe as written on the BBC GoodFood website, because I wasn't completely paying attention as I baked. Regardless, it worked out very well, all things considered.  Not only did I confuse the method, I also baked it in the wrong tin. It was not my best baking hour, but MrsDrWho and her mum pronounced it delicious. The recipe uses ingredients that are usually in my pantry and I just needed to buy some caramel in a tin, or Top'n'Fill as it is called here. The recipe calls for two different kinds of dark chocolate, I compromised with 100g of the 70% cocoa and then just some ordinary dark chocolate of unknown percentage. We can't buy golden caster sugar, so I substituted roughly 2/3 caster sugar and 1/3 light brown sugar.

I made a quick chocolate sauce from a runny ganache at the last moment, because my friends are like the Masterchef judges and love a dessert with a saucy addition!!!

There isn't much to add, I used a hand whisk and other than that there is just some melting and combining before you bake. In a warm climate I would store this in the fridge, but here in Winter it will keep for a week in an airtight container in the cupboard.

 

Salted Caramel Brownies     makes 16 pieces

  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 100g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
  • 100g dark chocolate, 50% cocoa solids
  • 1 395g can of Top'n'Fill or other caramel
  • 1 tspn salt flakes, and a little extra for sprinkling
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 130g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa, I used Dutch processed

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, sides and base.

Melting chocolate and butter

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with the butter in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Stop melting just before all the chocolate is melted and then stir until smooth.

Caramel eggs sugar

Put half of the caramel, the salt, sugar and eggs into a large bowl and with a mixer, or hand whisk, beat until well combined. Whisk in the chocolate and butter mixture.

Add choc butter flour cocoa

Finally sift in the cocoa and plain flour and fold in until the batter is smooth and even.

Brownie base and caramel

Spread half the brownie batter into the base of the tin, then spread over an even layer of the remaining caramel in the tin. Dollop the rest of the brownie mixture over the top of the caramel and swirl through with a spoon or knife.

Top and bake

Sprinkle a little of the extra salt over the top and then bake for 25-30 minutes. There should be a firm crust on top, but the centre will still jiggle when you wriggle the tin. Let the brownie cool completely in the tin and then cut into 16 even pieces. Serve with a chocolate ganache sauce for an extra indulgence.

Salted caramel brownie