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December 2015
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February 2016

Friday Food: Wagon Wheel Brownie Slice

Wagon wheel brownie sliceHeat, bushfires, still more heat, then flooding rain. That's Tasmania for you: we are a land "of flood and fire and famine". Anyway, we are made of stern stuff. Well the rest of the people: me? Not so much. So here is Friday Food, even though my letter box was blown off the fence and my big recycling wheelie bin was knocked over by the force of the water!!!

MrsDrWho is back at school this week, unofficially. To ease the stress I baked her a variety of sweet and savoury treats.  The Pizza Scrolls were very tasty, but I am going with The Wagon Wheel Brownie Slice from The Taste magazine, because it is So Easy. I have baked a Chocolate Republic Slice, which was inspired by another Wagon Wheel recipe, but this one uses actual mini Wagon Wheel biscuits: two round biscuits sandwiched with a jam and marshmallow filling, dipped in milk chocolate. Our Wagon Wheels have only, as far as I can remember, been this original flavour, though there may have been a dark chocolate one??

This slice is so easy: melt and mix and bake. I actually melted, mixed and baked and gave the slice to MrsDrWho. It is so easy that I have just whipped up half a batch this afternoon. The baking tin recommended is a strange one:  square 19.5cm and 8cm high. I didn't have a tin like that at all, so I used a deep 20 x 30cm baking tin and shortened it by 10cm with an egg carton. The biscuits really didn't fit into the tin, I found a bar tin a better option and I baked my half batch in a bar tin very successfully. It makes a higher brownie, so I just cut smaller rectangles.

Some ingredients are in very small quantities, so I will put the cups and also the grams. I always use my scales and grams to measure when I cook.

I am not sure that the ganache dolloped on each individual square really works for a lunch box, but I am assured it is fine with no ganache or decorative 1/4 Wagon Wheel.

 

Wagon Wheel Brownie Slice     makes 16-20 pieces

  • 150g butter (2/3 cup) butter, chopped
  • 100g (2/3 cup) soft brown sugar
  • 120g (1/2 cup) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 40g (1/2 cup) self raising flour
  • 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour
  • 30g (1/4 cup) cocoa, I use Dutch cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 16 mini Wagon Wheel biscuits : 2 packets

For the ganache

  • 40g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped

To decorate

  • You may need 4 extra Wagon Wheel biscuits

 

 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/170*C fan-forced.

Melt

Put the sugar, butter and chocolate for the brownie in a microwave proof bowl or jug and microwave on High in 30 second bursts. It is best that the chocolate is not fully melted. Stir till smooth.

  Mix

Sift the flours and cocoa into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients and two eggs. Break the yolks and then whisk together until smooth. NB I also added a pinch of salt as it brings out the chocolate flavour, and a teaspoon of vanilla: totally optional.

  Array fill and bake

Grease and then line a 20cm square tin with baking paper, making sure the paper comes high up the sides of the tin. In truth, I would use two bar tins. Spoon over the brownie mixture, smooth the top and bake for 40-45 minutes, turning half way through. It should be cooked when a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. It is better to under bake, rather than over bake, a brownie. Cool on a rack.

  Little ww brownie loaf

Make the ganache, if so desired, by melting the butter and chocolate as in the earlier part of the recipe. Cool.

  Ganache

Cut the brownie into squares, or rectangles, and then top with a dollop of ganache and a jaunty Wagon Wheel quarter. Or just use the ganache as a frosting, or not. As you wish.

This will keep for about a week un-iced, I think. If it is iced and topped with a quarter of a Wagon Wheel it probably needs to be eaten tout suite!!

  The wagon wheel brownie slice


Friday Food: Mini Jaffa Cheesecakes

Jaffa cheesecakeThe temperature was expectedly cooler today and so I baked some little cheesecakes to take to Nibbles & Drinks. In truth, the oven was only baking for 15 minutes, so I might have managed it whatever the weather. I was browsing recipes on The Internet and  I had no idea what I wanted to cook until I found Mini Jaffa Cheesecakes. Of course, I can't have oranges, but they are delicious and a nice change from lemon for my friends. Although the recipe calls for a mixture of cream and ricotta cheeses, you could easily use just cream cheese if that is what you have.

I liked the idea of using Chocolate Ripple biscuits (I think these are chocolate wafer biscuits in the US, different to our wafers though) for the base: no crushing, or processing, or melting butter. The biscuits were just a tad too big to fit into the paper cases and so I just trimmed about half a centimetre around the circumference. I just did it by eye and thought that if they were wonky, the cheesecake mixture would fill in any gaps. And it did. I used some great foil cases with a paper insert.

The recipe was very accurate. I used an ice-cream scoop to fill the paper cases and it made exactly 12. I think my scoop is 1/4 of a cup. After they came out of the oven I put them in the fridge for 3 hours and then they were so easy to remove from the cases.

I decorated them with some cream, a little dusting of Dutch cocoa powder and some orange zest in toffee. If I wasn't being so tizzy I would just scatter the orange zest over the cream, and really I would have crushed some actual Jaffas if I could have found any in the supermarket. I could not.

These can be made a day in advance, but I don't think they would freeze very well at all.

 

Mini Jaffa Cheesecakes    makes 12

  • 12 Chocolate Ripple biscuits
  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 eggs

 

Put the 12 paper cases into a muffin tin and then trim the Chocolate Ripple biscuits so they fit snugly into the base of each case.

Biscuits and bases

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced. Put the cheeses, sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest into a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth. If you don't have a food processor, use your mix-master or even hand mixer.

Processing

Add the 3 eggs and process on pulse, or low speed, for a few seconds at a time: just until the eggs are incorporated. This is so you don't add too much air into the batter. There was still some egg at the sides and so I poured the mixture into a bowl and used a spatula to finish off combining.

Adding eggs and we're done

An ice-cream scoop, just filled, was perfect for pouring the cheesecake into each case. I did have to scrape the bottom of the bowl for the last one, but it was a perfect amount. Bake for 12-15 minutes. They should still have a wobble in the centre, and will firm up as they cool. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Filling and baking

The mini cheesecakes come out of the paper cases very easily when they have been refrigerated. They slightly shrink, and any gaps in the bases are filled by the cheesecake mixture.

Cool and turn out

Decorate as you wish, and enjoy!!

Jaffa cheesecakes

And here is some incidental hand modelling and gesturing. We all like doing a little $ale of the Century gesturing!!!

Hand modelling


Don't Tell My Heart, My Eighty Eighty Heart.

It's actually eighty-two: that's how many fires are burning around the State at the moment. More than half are not controlled, they're burning wherever and whatever they like. Some small towns have been evacuated, but right now there are no direct threats. The State is blanketed in thick and hazy smoke. It has been here for two days and shows no signs of leaving. We can't see across the river. At all.

82 fires

The smoke seems to make the heat even more oppressive and for the next week we are expecting high temperatures. Next Wednesday it is forecast to be 21*C: what a relief. If only we could have some rain to put out the fires in inaccessible areas. And water the gardens and fill up the dams. Not only is our BassLink cable to The Mainland broken, and we rely on the cable to provide back up power when the Hydro dams are low, but the dams are low: and predicted to fall to 14% of capacity in the next month. It will be the end of March before the cable is expected to be repaired and they may have to cut the Internet fibre cable while the repair the power cable. Oh joy.

Apart from a morning walk, Lorelai Gilmore and I have been hiding inside. I worry about breathing in the smoke and it makes my eyes itchy and throat sore. Gilly has taken the opportunity to play in the paddle pool as soon as we get home in the morning. And at other times, especially bed time. I have no idea what the side eye is about.

Gilly pool fun

The weather is so dry that all the hopping marsupials are braving humans, and the picnic area, to try and find water.  Gilly is unaware there is a wallaby right behind her: Where's Wallaby??

Where's wallaby

Oh, there's Wallaby!! Do not fear that Gilly would ever catch a wallaby. There is a snowball's chance in Hell of that happening. It just hopped across the road in a single bound, well maybe two.

There's wallaby

I ventured out yesterday to Afternoon Tea for the two eldest HouseOf young women, turning twenty-one and eighteen. I made two zippy pouches instead of wrapping paper: the teapot was for the cutest teacup and teapot earrings and the Wonder Woman one because I didn't think Day of the Dead skulls would be very appropriate. I came home at 4pm and, apart from making Gilly's dinner and breakfast, we slept right through until 11-30 this morning. Which is how we have been spending most mornings as it is the coolest part of the day.

Birthday zippy pouches

I am knitting some socks for MrsDrWho's mum's birthday. They are made with some very pretty and soft Regia Design Line in Winter Night. I'm also knitting a cowl for MrsRenos'; birthday. I knitted it sporadically while I watched P&P, the Colin and Jennifer version, over the weekend. I can knit small or short things that don't lie on me and make me warm. Thought the cowl is long, it curls up on itself.

Socks and cowl

We didn't turn the computer on until an hour ago at 8-30pm. I have barely read any blogs or answered any emails. Rest assured that as soon as it is cooler, we will be back to normal programming at our house. So apart from drinking prodigious amounts of tea, nothing much has been happening at our house. We just all hope that the fires are soon out and that the fire-fighters, and everyone else, are all safe.

I must contemplate something that can be made with as little hot oven time as possible for my Friday food. I am planning on some sweet nibbles for MrsDrWho's Drinks and Nibbles for lots of her friends on Friday: little shortcrust pastry cases filled with lemon curd and topped with some cream and a berry. Pastry cases don't take long to bake and the lemon curd is just ten minutes stirring a saucepan on the stove. I think we can bear it.....


Friday Food: Yoghurt Berry Banana Pops

A yoghurt berry popAck, such a long name. In the February 2016 Better Homes & Gardens magazine they say: Creamy yoghurt, banana and berry pops with almond crumb. This recipe is part of their Light and Luscious feature, but I went with full fat yoghurt and some muesli instead of almond meal. The recipe makes 8, I made 4. I must have made giant pops!

I didn't have any smaller moulds so I used plastic cups. I had some extra yoghurt and berries and I blended them together and had the delicious result for breakfast.

These would be a fun breakfast on a hot morning, but would be equally good as a snack or even dessert. I would use whatever berries I had, and I just happened to have strawberries and blueberries: raspberries or blackberries would be great. I think fresh juicy peaches or other stone fruit, maybe even cherries, could replace the banana too. This recipe is easy to up, or down, size.

There's only one tiny downside to these pops, and that is that you have to wait 6 hours or overnight for them to freeze. I can live with a little delayed gratification!!

 

Yoghurt Berry Banana Pops       makes 4-8 depending on size of mould

  • 1/4 cup almond meal or slightly more of toasted muesli
  • 2 tspn water
  • 1 large, or 2 small, bananas - chopped
  • 1 cup yoghurt of your choosing
  • 4 strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

You also need some kind of moulds and paddle pop sticks.

Put the muesli in the food processor with the water and blend until it is relatively fine.

Base

If you are using almond meal, spread on a lined baking tray and bake in a 180*C oven for about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a bowl and add the water.

And freeze in cups

Now, whichever culinary path you have taken, divide the result between the moulds and press down firmly. Freeze for 5 minutes.

Banana and yoghurt

Put the yoghurt and bananas into the food processor, and I remembered to rinse it out so I didn't get crunchy cereal in my smooth yoghurt. Blend till smooth.

Add berries

Add the berries and pulse till the are roughly chopped, but not pureed.

Freeze and add sticks

Divide equally between the moulds and freeze for about half an hour. Then poke the paddle pop sticks firmly into the centre. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To remove from the mould, dip the moulds into a bowl of hot water for just a second, literally a second, and they should come right out. I used my beautiful new plate, which rests on a green metal frame with tiny green birds, for my photo this week.

Yoghurt berry pops


Friday Food: Pavlingtons

The pavlingtonI love quirky food tributes, like the Iced Vovo Tart or Cherry Ripe Brownie, so I was eager to make the Pavlova Lamington, or Pavlington, from the January Taste Magazine. Of course I can't eat it, because it has chocolate, but I am always looking for interesting cakes to bake for my friends. This recipe may not appear to be for the faint-hearted, but it is small steps, small parts, brought together as a wondrous whole.

The pavlova is a meringue with a crispy outer shell and a marshmallowy filling and a Lamington is made of sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing and rolled in coconut. They can also be filled with jam and/or cream. I eschew this version, but needed to source it for the recipe. Luckily it was available in both Coles and Woolies. If the weather wasn't so hot I would have baked my own. If you can't find jam-filled Lamingtons, use the plain kind and add a splodge of jam.

I used my mum's raspberry jam and, apart from buying the Lamingtons, all the other ingredients are things I usually have in the kitchen. The list of ingredients is long, but not tricky. You need two separate amounts of cream and chocolate

The recipe says it makes 9 150ml 'cakes' but I made 12 ordinary cup-cake sized ones. The Pavlington must be assembled from many and various parts, but they can all rest happily in the fridge, or an airtight container, until they are brought together in triumph!!

I don't actually expect that any sane person would want to make these, but I am so very pleased with the way they turned out, and I would definitely make these again, maybe for The Doctors and Nurses at The Vet!!

 

Pavlingtons     makes 12

For the Pavlovas

  • 4 egg-whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar   (220g)
  • 2 tspn cornflour
  • 1 tspn vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

For the Lamington Truffles

  • 360g packet of jam-filled Lamingtons
  • 30ml thickened cream
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 375g dark chocolate melts, or milk chocolate if you prefer

For the Raspberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam, warmed and sieved

For the Chocolate Sauce

  • 2 tspn brown sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate melts
  • 60ml thickened cream

Also 200ml thickened cream for assembly.

 

First make the pavlovas. Preheat the oven to 150*C/130*C fan-forced and line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Whip egg whites and sugar

Using squeaky clean beaters and a metal or glass bowl, beat the egg-whites until stiff peaks form. I also wipe the bowl and beaters with a little vinegar or lemon juice, just to make sure things are perfect.  Then add the caster sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on a high speed. Scrape down the edges of the bowl frequently.  It took me about 15 minutes to add all the sugar as I allow a minute or so between additions., The pavlova is almost ready when a little of the mixture rubbed between the thumb and forefinger feels perfectly smooth. If there are still some grains of sugar it needs more beating. The mixture should be glossy and thick.

Magically pavlova

Mix the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla, add to the pavlova mixture and whisk briefly to combine.

And bake

Divide evenly between the cupcake papers and make cute peaks with the side of the spoon if you like. Though the recipe says to do this, when you assemble the Pavlingtons the first thing you do is crush the top: slightly confusing. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 110*C/90*C fan-forced and continue to bake for 1 hour more.

And cool

Turn the oven off and prop the door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon or something similar. Leave  to cool completely.

Lamington truffles

While the pavlovas are cooling, make the Lamington truffles. Use a food processor to blend together the Lamingtons and 30ml of thickened cream. Refrigerate the mixture until it is firm enough to handle.

Truffles

Roll level teaspoons into a ball, and then refrigerate again until firm.

Making truffles

Melt the chocolate in your preferred manner. I use 30 second bursts in the microwave and always stop before the chocolate is fully melted and stir until it is smooth. Pour the shredded coconut into a shallow container. Dip each truffle in the melted chocolate to coat, and then roll in the coconut and set aside on a baking paper lined tray. You can refrigerate, or freeze for later, in an airtight container. Save the leftover chocolate to use when you assemble the Pavlingtons.

Completed truffles

Make the chocolate sauce by mixing the 60ml of thickened cream, brown sugar and 100g chocolate melts in a jug or bowl and then melting together in the microwave in the same was as the chocolate for the truffles was melted.

Chocolate sauce

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge along side the sieved raspberry jam sauce.

Sieved jam

When you are ready to assemble the Pavlingtons, whip the 200ml of thickened cream until firm peaks form. Re-melt the chocolate saved from the truffles and put into a ziplock bag with a tiny corner snipped off so it is a piping bag.

Gently crush the centre of each pavlova, just so you make a recess for the cream. Leave a border around the outside. Divide the cream between the pavlovas and drizzle with the raspberry jam sauce.

Assemble

I added 3 truffles on top of the cream and 'glued' them together by piping the melted chocolate. I secured one more to the top.

24

Once the truffles are set, drizzle over the chocolate sauce and you are ready to serve the Pavlingtons to your guests!!!

Pavlington


Bye, Baby Bunting, Gilly's Gone A-hunting.

Our walks at the dam are being interrupted and curtailed as The Hydro replace three giant valves at the base of the dam wall. We always thought the swooshy curve was an Art Deco feature, turns out it is just higher to accommodate the valves!! Only one valve is working so they have to carve out and build a temporary road on the other side of the Gorge, and amidst the water that flows out the base of the dam.

Dam unbuilding

There are two big blue machines, one is like a giant jack hammer and breaks up the rock, and the other is multi-purpose and builds the road. On the right side, in the centre, you can just see that only one valve works. The dam picnic area is cordoned off with bunting. Gilly does not let that stand in her way. I hasten to add that is is very safe, and I would not let her go anywhere dangerous. The best smells are across the divide, and it is also a good spot to check to see if Rafa is coming: he is!!

Gilly behind the bunting

We went to see if Gilly would like a swim instead of just a dip in the paddle pool. She would not. At all.

Gilly not swimming

I sewed a zippy pencil case for my mum. She, like me, keeps a pen, lip balm, spare keys and other bits and bobs in a little bag and transfers it from handbag to handbag, I especially love the ends of the zip, where it doesn't pull and drag down. It makes me very satisfied.

Mum's zippy handbag thing

I also sewed a zippy chip bag, covered with vinyl, for our Knitting Christmas tonight. Well is is a zippy popcorn bag. Still, I did the same nice zipper ends too.

Zippy chip bag

We shared a delicious selection of dishes at the restaurant and conducted our annual Secret Santa. Onyi has been away on a long holiday and gave us all some special Christmas Easter Eggs from South America. She remembered I can't have chocolate proper, and so mine are white chocolate and all of them are filled with dulce de leche.

Choc gifts

I have signed up for the free Lucy Neatby Sock Knitalong on The Craftsy. I am making the first pair of socks, but not smocked. I did try the pattern, but the wool looks so much better smooth. I have learned a new cast on trick, an easy way to Slip Purl for the heel flap and I am about to learn a new heel turn. Old dog: new tricks!!! My Unsmocked Sock is looking good. When the weather is hot, socks are the only knitted things I can bear to make.

Unsmocked sock decided

It has been hot, not unbearably so, but hot enough. We like to stand under the sprinkler and lie beside the cool breeze coming in the window. It's going to be a high of 34*C and a low of 28*C during the day over the next week. I see A Lot of ice in our future.

Yesterday we had what is most likely our last Morning Tea with The GardyGardeners. I don't know how to tell Gilly that they won't be coming on Wednesdays any more.  She waits impatiently at the gate at 8am, every Wednesday, for a special pat. Things change, life moves on. We're quite sad, but glad The GardyGardeners are moving closer to their son, to a more appropriate house and a much smaller garden. So long, and thanks for all the gardening.......