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August 2016
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October 2016

Friday Food: Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

Berries mixed inAt last, here are the cupcakes from what seems so long ago. Right now strawberries are stupidly cheap and so I have made three batches of these cupcakes to take advantage of the fresh berries. This recipe is from the YouTube video channel The Scran Line. Nick has so many new and unusual cupcake ideas that I could just work my way through them all year. I don't think I am as inclined to use tall buttercream frostings, as they are difficult to transport sometimes, and I tend to prefer more cake than frosting.

His method is a little different, but the cupcakes are delicious and it makes at least 24, which is a huge batch. You can definitely halve the recipe and I have done that very successfully. The recipe says to put the diced strawberries into the base of the paper case and then scoop the batter on top. I decided that I liked the berries to be mixed in, as when I removed the paper cases after the cupcakes were baked, there was a squooshy strawberry base and some of the berries stuck to the paper. You can choose whichever method you like. These will keep for about 2 days in the fridge, but they are best eaten soon after they are baked and I piped on the cream and decorated them just before they were eaten. I found freeze dried strawberries in the baking section and if you can't find them, I also used some extra finely diced berries and some fancy pink sprinkles.

 

Strawberries &  Cream Cupcakes     makes 24

  • 429g plain flour
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 375ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 2-4 tbspn (40-80ml) strawberry jam
  • 2-4 drops red food colouring

 

To decorate:

  • 600ml whipping cream, very cold
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 tspn caster sugar, if you like
  • freeze dried strawberries
  • fresh strawberries, finely diced
  • fancy pink sprinkles

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced. Line your muffin trays with paper cases. Prepare your berries by washing and hulling them and then chop into a fine dice, about 1/2cm. 

Dry and wet

Put the dry ingredients into the mixer bowl and mix on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes. Then add the softened butter and again mix on a low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the wet ingredients: milk, oil, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla, in a container, and whisk together. with the mixer on low, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat until they are fully combined. Scrape down the bowl to check for any dry ingredients left, and then mix for a final 20 seconds.

Mix and colour

At this point you should fold in the jam and food colouring, if you are using it. The recipe says to put about 2 tbspn of the chopped strawberries into the base of the paper cases and then I always use an ice-cream scoop to measure out the batter evenly.

And berries

When I used this method I found the cupcakes had the dreaded Mary Berry "soggy bottom".

Berries in the base

So instead I folded the strawberries in along with the jam and food colouring and then just put one scoop of the batter into the paper cases.

Mixing the berries in

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Fill and bake

I always swap and rotate my trays half way through. Leave the cupcakes in the tin for just a few minutes so they are easier to handle and then cool completely on a rack. Once they are cold, place in an airtight container and maybe in the fridge if the climate is warm and you are not eating them until the next day.

Cupcakes and cream

When you are ready to serve, whip the cream (and vanilla and sugar if you like)  until stiff peaks form, and then pipe or spoon the cream onto the top of each cake and top with the freeze dried berries. I put a little bowl of each topping next to the cupcakes and then people could choose one, or all, of the toppings!!!

Strawberry and cream cupcake

Thank you Nick for a marvellous recipe, and as a bonus, I can eat these cupcakes as they have no chocolate, orange, grapefruit or coffee.


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