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March 2017

Friday Food: Choctella Cupcakes

A choctella cupcakeThis week I had medical appointments every day except today, when I had a social appointment. There was a lot of sleeping in the afternoons. I started making the frozen caramel slice from the cover of the March Delicious, but I slightly lost the will to continue. Instead, I baked the incredibly quick and impressive Choctella Cupcakes from the March Taste Magazine.

I changed one thing: I only used 85g of butter and I substituted vegetable oil for the remaining 15g. The oil helps to keep the cake moist and gives a nice texture, while the butter adds flavour.

I know there are some people who do not like to use Nutella, as it contains palm oil. There are recipes to make your own Nutella: eg here and here. I don't eat chocolate so I don't eat Nutella, but I am conflicted. I bought another brand, Nutino, which rated a B on the Shop Ethical site.

Baking crisis averted. I can highly recommend this recipe. When I moved the cupcakes to the cooling rack I accidentally tore a little piece from the top of one and I ate it!! It was delicious and I thought a fingernail size piece wasn't going to hurt me!!!

 

Choctella Cupcakes       makes 12

  • 140g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 100g butter, room temperature, cubed ( I used 85g  butter/15g oil)
  • 75g dark choc (I used 70%) chopped
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g (1 cup) self raising flour
  • 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) cocoa, (I use Dutch processed)

To decorate

  • 240g (3/4 cup) choc-hazelnut spread
  • 300ml cream, whipped
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates ( hazelnut chocolate confections)
  • chocolate sprinkles or grated chocolate

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

Everything but the dry

Put the sugar, butter (butter and oil), chocolate and water into a pan over a low-medium heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until smooth. I microwaved mine for 2 minutes on medium, stirring half way through. Cool slightly then add the eggs and whisk.

And the dry

Sift over the flours and cocoa and fold gently through.

Fill and bake

I used a 1/4-ish cup ice-cream scoop to fill the paper cases. The recipe filled the 12 cases perfectly. They should be about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. The cupcakes are cooked when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Put them on a cooling rack straight away. When they are cool, swirl on some choc-hazelnut spread, dollop on some whipped cream, add a Ferrero Rocher and chocolate flakes. The cupcakes look, and taste, fabulous!!!

Choctella cupcake


Friday Food: Pineapple Coconut Cake Slice

Pineapple coconut cakeHow lucky we are, it was only 24*C today, so it was nice weather for baking. I chose to bake the March 2017 Better Homes & Garden Pineapple Coconut Cake Slice, which can also be **muffins. I shouldn't have used the blender part of my food processor. I really should have used the bowl, but after some poking and prodding (with the machine off I hasten to add) everything went swimmingly.

All the ingredients are added in turn and blended and then spread into the tin and baked. It is nice and easy. There is not much pineapple, just a 225g can, nevertheless it is very tasty. The cake really is a slice, quite thin, but you have a pleasing icing-to-cake ratio. The icing uses the juice drained from the tin of pineapple. I drizzled passionfruit over the top and its sharp tanginess contrasted well with the sweeter cake. Icing sugar mixture contains cornflour or something similar. It helps the icing to set more quickly, but it isn't gluten free. Pure icing sugar is, but it needs far more sifting.

The recipe says it takes an hour to cool after it is baked, but it took far less than that. The cake/slice serves 18, and I think this is an accurate estimation. I don't think this is a cake for keeping, it is a cake for eating right now, or in the immediate future. I have decided to think of it as the scone of cakes: it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and mine took 20 minutes to bake.

BH&G suggests several different toppings for the cake/slice: blueberries, toasted coconut chips, diced pineapple, passionfruit, mint leaves and edible flowers. The cake has a very delicate pineapple flavour, and I really enjoyed it. I did actually eat a piece from the stack in the photo because, (Sad!) the icing on top was spoiled by being stacked!!

**To turn the cake batter into muffins, use a 12-hole muffin tray and fill the paper cases 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes.

 

Pineapple Coconut Cake Slice       serves 18

  • 225g can of pineapple pieces/slices in juice,
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut, I used shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture for the icing

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and grease a 20 x 30cm tin and line it with baking paper. Drain the juice from the can of pineapple and set it aside, you will need 1/4 of a cup later on.

Pineapple butter eggs

Put the pineapple in the bowl of a food processor and puree, add the butter and eggs.

Sugar

Blend again and then add the sugar.

Coconut and flour

Almost done: add the coconut and pulse a few times and then finally the flour. Pulse gently. If the cake batter is worked too much it will become tough. If in any doubt, scrape the batter into a bowl and gently fold in the flour.

And bake

Spread the cake batter into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, the cake comes away from the side of the tin, and the top is golden brown.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then place on a rack until it is completely cold.

Icing

Add 1/4 cup of the drained pineapple juice to the icing sugar mixture and whisk until there are no lumps. I thought the icing was far too runny and added at least another 1/2 a cup of icing sugar. Here is where you can add further toppings, it's where I spooned on the passionfruit. Set aside for maybe 15 minutes for the icing to set.

And then ice

Cut into 18 pieces and eat with gusto.

Some pineapple coconut cake


Bedly Nightshade

And so it goes, every morning and every night: The Labradors play on the bed. Lorelai Gilmore feels so well that she is imbued with a new enthusiasm for play. And a biscuit as well, if possible. This is her "Hopeful Biscuit" face.

Gilly is thinking about a biscuit

The best new toy is a hair elastic: it stretches, it pings, it flies, it can make a noise- best toy ever. Tonight they played for most of the 100 minutes I was talking to MrsDrWho on the telephone about her first two days with her new class. They played with the hair elastic, a plastic cup and then the leg of the dinosaur toy. Hedy used to have the upper hand, but Gilly has learned her wily ways and gives as good as she gets. It does make the bed a dangerous place for people who don't want to have their stomachs bounced on unexpectedly, or find themselves staring at a Labrador's belly as their head lies on the pillow.

Hedy's new harness

I let Hedy Lamarr wear her new Walking Harness so I could take some photos. She loves to wear it, as you can see from her proud stance, she thinks it is a delight!! And she walks like a good girl on her lead, so it is a bonus all round.

Gilly's paddle pool play

Lorelai Gilmore has spent rather a lot of time in the paddle pool. The weather has been very humid for the last few days. I know it has not been 45*C, but here 19*C overnight with humidity is a heatwave for us. Gilly likes to dip, turnaround, maybe have a drink and then hop out. Her belly is still a little pink where her fur has not fully grown back yet.

Caramel biscuits

Last time we went to The Vet I took these Donna Hay Caramel Biscuits. They are sooo easy to make and use so few ingredients I am not sure why I haven't made them again.

Neil diamond and video chat hats 2017

I have finished two new hats: The Neil Diamond (Michele) and The Video Chat (Skyping Beanie) hats. Neil Diamond was finished in time for MrsDrWho's God-Daughter's birthday tea. The colour is not right, the grey is much nicer. The Video Chat Hat is an excellent pattern and though I look terrible in most hats, this one might be OK. It isn't for me, it is a hat to knit when I talk on the telephone with the headset on. I didn't have any short 3.25 KnitPro needles and so I cast on fewer stitches for the band with 4.5mm ends and then increased. It means the ribs don't line up from the band through to the hat. I must remember to get new needles.

New timtam flavours

There are four new flavours of TimTam biscuits, made in collaboration with Gelato Messina, which I must confess I have only vaguely heard of. Oh, when I clicked through I recognised some of their gelato cakes from MasterChef. I cannot comment on the flavours as I can't have chocolate, but I shall ask MrsDrWho about the : Salted Caramel & Vanilla, Black Forest, Choc Mint and Coconut & Lychee.

Bags 106 107

What a surprise!! Bags #106 and #107 for my friends MrsMauritius and Bella'sMum. We met about twenty-nine years ago and after we transferred to other schools we continued to catch up over the years. Now we are all retired and we had lunch in town on the first day of school. I am lucky to have such good friends. I made an Australian wild flower bag for MrsMauritus and a "dogs with hats on" bag for Bella'sMum. Bella is a black Labrador.

Hedy stole the zucchini

WeeJock and Bessie's Mum left a zucchini in a bag on the gate. Hedy hasn't had a lot of zucchini and last time she ate some she was sick. Apparently it wasn't the zucchini. I put it on the bench inside the back door, and then later on went outside to find Hedy Lamarr had stolen it!! It is very yummy. I rescued it and Gilly and Hedy had some later on with their dinner.

I must confess that I haven't done any posting. I have spent the better part of every day asleep over the last week. I think because it is cool, I did too much: three social outings in a row and then sewing and knitting and baking: all too much. And I have a slight niggle of a toothache. I have a dentist appointment next week, but I always worry. Dentists are so expensive and my teeth have suffered from all the drugs I have had to take to keep me alive: hmmm, good teeth or being alive?? No doubt it will be something hideously expensive. Still, I must look after my teeth and gums. They are a source of horrid germs, and germs and I don't get on.

I have no idea what I will be baking for Friday Food tomorrow. It will be much cooler, I am making a curry, and maybe something banana or the Better Homes & Gardens super quick and easy pineapple slice?? And it is 11pm so it is time all good (and naughty) Labradors were in bed............


Friday Food: Salmon and Pea Potato Patties

Salmon pea potato pattiesAnd so the end is here. Teachers officially go back to school on Monday and this is the last of the Lunch-box  recipes.  Once again, this is a really easy recipe, the most onerous part is peeling the potatoes. The potatoes should be floury and for mashing, not waxy. There are so many types of potatoes, but perhaps there is a helpful information label at your shop?? I swapped out tuna for salmon. I much prefer salmon and even if these aren't for me, I still prefer the smell of salmon. I left out the dill and added extra chives and parsley. This recipe allows you to change the ingredients to suit your taste: you could use sweet potato and maybe zucchini instead of peas.

Panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese style breadcrumb. We can buy Australian ones in our supermarkets, there are usually some in the Asian section too, but ordinary breadcrumbs are fine. You can make the patties right up to the panko breadcrumb stage and then freeze them for cooking later on, but they will also freeze once they are cooked. I like this, because you can take one out and defrost it in the microwave and heat it up. I like salmon patty on toast!! I used an ice-cream scoop to portion out the patties and I made 15 instead of 16. I suspect if I had been a little more careful I would have easily made 16.

There is a 30 minute wait while you refrigerate the patties. This is an important step, because the patties are less likely to fall apart when you fry them if they are very cold. I sometimes cheat and do 15 minutes in the freezer. They are delicious with a good squeeze of lemon juice, with or without tartare sauce.

 

Salmon and Pea Potato Patties     makes 15-16

 

  • 700-800g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 425g can salmon in springwater, drained
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tbspn chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbspn chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil for shallow frying

NB: An Australian tablespoon is rather sensibly 40ml, or 4 teaspoons.

Potatoes

Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks. Put them in the saucepan and cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Put the lid on, turn the heat down and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Boil and mash

Drain and return them to the hot pan, to dry the out as much as possible. Mash well and set aside until cold.

Combine it all

Meanwhile put the drained salmon, herbs, garlic and lemon zest in a large bowl. Mix together. Add the cold potato, egg and four and combine. Strangely, I have no photo of this, but I remember I used gloved hands to mix it all together and I suspect I just forgot.

Patties and breadcrumb

Form patties using a 1/3 cup measure or an ice-cream scoop. Shape and then toss in the panko breadcrumbs. There is no flour and egg wash and the crumbs stick well.

Refrigerate and fry

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over a medium heat and cook the patties in 3 or 4 batches for 4 minutes a side. They should be golden and heated right the way through. Drain on paper towel. Serve hot, warm or cold.

And so ends the Lunch-box recipe series:  Banana Apple and Muffin Yoghurt Slice, Broccoli Bacon and Zucchini Slice and Banana Coconut Nutella/Chocolate Bread. Happy Back To School!!!

Salmon pea and potato patties


Waffle On. Waffle Off.

There has been much socialising and, ergo, much sleeping ensued!! We walked at the dam this week, but we slept all day and all night. Twice. I think today we have caught up at last. Private school teachers are already back at work and State school teachers return next week, so there has been some determined catching up. MrsDrWho had a BBQ and I made Donna Hay ice-cream waffles. Oh they are so easy and look pretty fabulous. I made all three kinds:

  1. Raspberry and white chocolate ice-cream with raspberries from MrsReno's garden, dipped in dark chocolate and coconut.
  2. Mashed banana and peanut butter with vanilla ice-cream dipped in milk chocolate and pecans.
  3. Chocolate ice-cream with choc bits, a few pretzels and a smear of Nutella, dipped in nothing as they were chocolaty enough.

Waffle ice creams

I bought frozen waffles and filled them and froze them for two hours and then did the chocolate dipping. We had a little heatwave of 30*C so I didn't want to bake. I didn't taste any because I can't have chocolate, but the BBQ people said they were delicious. And as a bonus they keep in the freezer for ages if you don't eat them!!

The next night we went to the posh restaurant at the Casino and then on Sunday I had a long and leisurely brunch with Judy-May. I came over all faint and woozy as it was hot and she kindly reorganised the seating and I spent the bulk of the time over the air-conditioning vent, feeling soooo much better. How kind!!

Rey zippy pouch

I sewed a Rey Zippy pouch. I am a big Rey fan, Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I have been buying material at The BlackSpot of Doomlight (TM) Their Christmas material is on sale for $2-50 a metre, or $1 if you buy the rest of the bolt and with member discount it comes down to 75 cents a metre. I may have been back three times. I did buy some material to make my Rey dress. Now it is home I am not sure it is right.

Rey and matching fabric

There was a better khaki colour but it was plain, and I always spill things on the bodices of my dresses. The Rey material has a tiny bit of green on her outfit, a bronze/khaki colour. I think I might wait and see if there is a better colour later on. This green will not go astray!!

Neil diamond hat one ball

I am racing against time to knit a hat. Today I suddenly remembered a vague promise to knit a hat for MrsDrWho's god-daughter, and it is her birthday tomorrow. We are so old that a god-daughter is perhaps thirty??!!

I need to knit 250 metres by tea time tomorrow. I have knitted a ball so far this afternoon. I've made this hat before, it is the Michele hat, and I have named this The Neil Diamond Hat and I am using Merino Magic 8ply from Heirloom. I am knitting as fast as I can. The slip stitch pattern is easy: one row K6 Slip 1, the next row just K to the end.

Labradors on our walk

Such good news for Lorelai Gilmore at the vet. Her results were excellent and from a starting point of 3 1/2 blue tablets every day, she is down to 1/4 of a tablet every second day, and an Imuran(sp?) every second day too. Dr Tim was very pleased and Gilly seems so happy, playful and normal again. The days have been delightfully cool, but sunny in the afternoons and so Gilly likes to lie on her cushion and soak up the warmth.

Gilly rests outside

Hedy Lamarr pulls like all get out when she walks on her lead so Dr Tim suggested a new harness. I don't have a picture, but as soon as she put it on, she walks like a good girl. MrsDrWho bought Hedy a rope toy for her birthday last week, and she loves to fetch it. I also think it is hefty enough to survive her sharp chewing teeth for quite a while. We are making Hedy work when she wants to play: she has to sit and not bark. She learned to sit in no time flat but she is contrary and barks if throwers are too slow for her. Sadly, that means she has to wait even longer.

Hedy and the rope toy

We haven't really done very much at all, what with all the sleeping and resting in bed. We are very grateful for the cool weather, it even rained this afternoon!! The poor people in Sydney have been suffering from the heat with the hottest month ever in January, but Cooma has had 36 straight days over 35*C. Now I must go back to the couch to watch The Weekly and knit, knit, knit......