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Friday Food: Cream Cheese & Rhubarb Blondies

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

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

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

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

 

Cream Cheese & Rhubarb Brownies     makes 20 pieces

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

 

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

Cook rhubarb

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

Cream cheese mixture

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

Blondie batter

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

Batter and flour

Sift over the two flours and stir well.

Swirl and bake

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

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

Rhubarb blondie cream cheese slice


Eye Am...Eye Said

Waiting in the eye hospital

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

Eye operation

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

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

Gilly at the vet with hedy

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

Gilly and Hedy at the dam

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

Produce box 3

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

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

Cupcake mix 1

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

Sew cupcake

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

My cupcake

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

Now I am tired and need to rest again.


Friday Food: Chocolate Caramel ANZAC Slice

Chocolate caramel anzac sliceThis is the second time I have made this slice, which I found on the Better Homes & Gardens site. MrsDrWho confirmed the first time that it was delicious and so we are taking it to the vet today. Lorelai Gilmore has an appointment and Hedy comes along for the ride as she pines dreadfully if left at home. And vice versa.

I’m not usually a fan of variations on the ANZAC biscuit, but this seemed like a variation on the usual chocolate caramel slice. It’s very easy to make, and only needs 20 minutes in the oven. I made the caramel in the microwave instead of in a saucepan, I prefer doing it that way. I didn’t even melt the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan, I did that in the microwave too! I am fast and free with baking methods today.

You can add some spices to the base, but I didn’t. And I also used milk chocolate for the topping because that is the first chocolate that came to hand. I have a Tub’o’Chocolate, I'll take a photo next time I post to my blog.

The recipe says to refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, but as long as it is cold and the chocolate is set, I think it is fine to cut and eat. Use a large warm knife, dipped into hot water and then dried, to cut the slice. It will keep for about a week in an airtight container.

 

Chocolate Caramel ANZAC Slice          makes 24 pieces

 

For the base:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded, or desiccated, coconut
  • 75g butter
  • 20ml golden syrup
  • 20ml boiling water
  • 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

 

For the caramel:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk

 

For the topping:

  • 200g dark, or milk, chocolate melts- melted

 

Preheat the oven to 160*C and grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin with high sides. I used a foil BBQ tray so I could just take the slice with me and not have to worry about retrieving the tin from the vet.

Dry ingredients

Put the oats, flour, sugar and coconut into a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps of sugar, and to combine them well. Make a well in the centre, let's imagine I have done that.

Wet ingredients

Meanwhile, melt the butter and golden syrup (in a bigger bowl than you think you will need) in the microwave on High for 30 second bursts: it took 60 seconds in the microwave here. Mix the bicarb soda with the water and then pour into the melted butter and golden syrup. It will foam up.

Add wet to dry

Whilst they are still foaming, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until everything is combined and there are no dry ingredients hiding at the bottom.

And bake

Press into the base of the tin. Push into the corners and if you use an oiled spoon, or glass, it is easier to press the base down firmly and evenly. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, and a crust has formed on top. Do not poke the crust to test for 'doneness', as it will break, and there will be a big hole. Ask me how I know this..... Cool for 5 minutes in the tin.

Caramel

While the base is baking, make the caramel. I find it easiest to make the caramel in the microwave. I put the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and microwave for a minute, and then stir like mad. Repeat this until the caramel reaches the colour you desire. As it becomes darker I cut the time to 30 seconds. It may not look as if it is coming together, but the vigorous stirring works a treat. Also, be careful, it is very hot and can give you a nasty burn. Ask me how I know this too.... If you make the caramel this way you don't really need to put the slice back in the oven for 10 minutes, but you can if you are not certain if the caramel is caramelly enough.

Add caramel and chocolate

Set aside for 30 minutes to cool. Melt the chocolate in your preferred fashion. Once again, I use the microwave in 30 second bursts with lots of stirring in between. I always stop just before it is smooth and finish off the melting with more stirring. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and smooth. Make a pattern with it you like, I go up and down with the spoon.

Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, or if you are me, pop it in the freezer for 2 hours and it seems perfect!!! Cut into squares, or rectangles, and it really is best eaten cold straight from the fridge. Not that I eat chocolate, but I do remember what it was like..... It is all about the ........ today.......

Choc caramel anzac slice


Ding, Dong, Bell, Hedy's In The Well

Who put her in?
Little Johnny Thin.

Who Pulled her out?
Lorelai Gilmore and me!!!

 

Hedy trapped in the excavation

A new toilet block, and BBQ area, is being built at the dam. They have excavated a giant hole, which has filled with water, and put a high portable fence around it: which is no barrier to limbo-ing or commando crawling Labradors apparently. We were walking, and I looked around and saw Gilly inside the fence and Hedy was in the water. Hedy was frozen with fear and/or trepidation and would not come for a biscuit or her Billyball. I managed to find a way into the "pool" area and I had to lie flat in the mud and try to pull Hedy out. To no avail. And as I was contemplating my next move, Lorelai Gilmore came back in, leaped into the water and swam around to Hedy's left side and then climbed out. Hedy watched and then, encouraged by Gilly, tried to climb out and I was able to grab the scruff of her neck and haul her out.

Help

Gilly doesn't really swim and so she is a hero for showing Hedy how to climb out and rescuing her.

Gilly is a hero

Hedy Lamarr has been wicked, no surprise there. I put the brownie I had baked on the dining room table ready to take to MrsDrWho's house and as I wandered about getting ready she seemed to be acting suspiciously. I couldn't work out why until it was time to go and I saw this:

Hedy ate brownie

I knew how much dark chocolate was in the recipe and I calculated she had eaten about one third and it was less than 100g. She was fine, but kept us up all night wanting to go in and out and being generally hyperactive. I put the other baked goods up high in the hall.

Hedy is not talking to me

I showed Hedy the brownie and then squirted her with the diluted apple cider vinegar. She wouldn't talk to us for about half an hour and sulked as far away as she could go.

Gilly is looking exceptionally beautiful today

Thank goodness for Gilly, who is such a good girl and paddles happily in the paddle pool, eats grass and plays with her plastic cups!!! I think her only flaw right now is her love for the muddy puddles at the dam.

Gilly loves the muddy puddle

I finished the batik jelly roll quilt. Somewhere in the house there are some jelly roll strips and I know not where, so I added some plains to make up the length. I am so pleased with the way it turned out and I may quilt-as-you-go again.

Jelly roll quilt

This is the first thing I have sewed since August 11th when Hedy chewed my finger accidentally. My finger is almost as good as new. I have normal feeling in the top, but at the sides I feel as if I am touching the freezer in the supermarket whilst having pins and needles. That is where my finger split and they plastic-surgeried it back together. I can see and feel the hard scars. But look, my finger looks like a real one again: it's my middle finger.

My finger

I am sewing two shopping bags for my sister and Bella'sMum. My sister has a Shar Pei so I bought a fat quarter from The Spoonflower and Bella'sMum has a black Labrador and so I found some dog drill.

Two new bags

The Spotlight has Doctor Who fabric and I have it ALL. The comic strip version will be for the skirt of a dress and then the other is to make gifts for friends.

Doctor who

We have the second medium produce box and I am about to be cooking outside my comfort zone: there is kale, a big bunch of kale. I have never eaten or cooked kale, but there are leeks, pumpkin and fresh thyme, so I shall be searching the internet for a recipe.

Produce box 2

I used the cucumber and spring garlic to make some tzatziki, along with the tomatoes in some wraps for dinner. There was not quite enough to save so we ate the tail end for "dessert".

Yummy dinner left overs for dessert

Speaking of dessert, which I can usually never eat when I am dining out, I ate dessert for my lunch on Saturday. I caught up with MrsDrWho and three of TheHouseOfs and I had French toast with nut brittle, ice-cream and salted caramel sauce. It was delicious: the toast was crisp on the outside and pillowy and luscious on the inside. And was there a custardy sauce???

French toast for lunch

Wow, this is a very busy week: unexpected Patient Partner with the Year 4 doctors yesterday, curtain making for a couple of hours on Monday, medical appointments today, lunch tomorrow and then the vet on Friday. And add to that our extremely high temperatures, it was up to 15*C above average: 32 in Hobart and 28 here. Thankfully it is cooler now, but I have a slight heat headache. We are not looking forward to a hotter than normal Summer. Bah Humbug. We shall make hay while the Sun doesn't shine!!!


Friday Food: Yotam's Chocolate Cake

Best chocolate cake everI think I bake more chocolate cakes, biscuits and slices than anything else. I think this is because I can't eat chocolate, and I fulfill my cravings by baking chocolate things for all my friends. I read an article about Yotam Ottolenghi's new Sweet book and it asked if this chocolate cake was the best ever. I wanted to know if it was the best ever too, and so dear reader, I baked this cake!!

The ingredients are very simple for the cake and ganache and I chose not to make the optional espresso cinnamon marscapone cream. I used 70% Nestle dark chocolate and fresh eggs from the three chickens over the road.  The cake took a little longer to cook than the recipe said, so I turned the temperature down 20*C and baked it for a further 10 minutes. Our oven is fan-forced, so maybe this made a difference? The top of the cake cracked, the recipe said it would, and the ganache covered it up nicely.

Is this the best chocolate cake ever? I asked MrsDrWho and her dinner guests and they said it was a good cake, but not the best. The cake was fudgy and rich, but the ganache set quite hard, even at room temperature. It looks softer in the photo with the recipe, perhaps it is our colder weather? I can recommend this cake, it is easy to make (melt and mix) and cooks quickly. It is a great cake for dessert or just with a cup of tea or coffee.

 

Yotam Ottolenghi's World's Best Chocolate Cake       serves 12

For the cake:

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into 2cm cubes
  • 200g  70% dark chocolate, broken into 2cm pieces
  • 1 1/2 tspns instant coffee, dissolved in 350ml of boiling water
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 240g self raising flour
  • 30g Dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/4 tspn salt

For the ganache:

  • 200g  70% dark chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 3 tspn golden syrup
  • 3 tspn unsalted butter, at room temperature

 

Preheat the oven to 170*C and grease and line with baking paper a 23cm spring-form tin.

Melt

Put the butter, chocolate and coffee mixture into a bowl and mix well until everything is smooth and combined. Then add the sugar and whisk in to dissolve. I added the sugar with the other ingredients. I don't think this was a terrible error.

Add eggs

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk again until smooth and combined. There is a lot of whisking in this recipe, but it is not onerous.

Dry ingredients

Sift, then mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Add dry to wet

Finally add the dry to the wet ingredients and whisk together. It is a very liquid batter, but this is the way it is supposed to be.

And bake

Pour into the lined tin and bake for an hour. It is baked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean: no crumbs or wet batter. My cake was still very jiggly after an hour so I turned the temperature down to 150*C and baked it for a further 10 minutes and it was done. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Ganache

Begin the ganache by putting the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup in the microwave until tiny bubbles form around the circumference and then pour over the chocolate. I put a plate over the bowl and let it sit for a minute or so, I believe it traps the heat and optimises the melting. Stir until almost melted and add the butter. Stir some more until the butter is melted and the ganache is shiny. You can also make this in a food processor, the recipe has both methods.

Pour the ganache over the cake, or let it sit for a couple of hours at room temperature and then spread it over the cake. On reflection, if you like a softer ganache it would be a good idea to make it just prior to serving. You can see the fudgy texture of the cake and the generous chocolate topping. All in all, this is a very good cake, but probably not The World's Best. What do you think?

Yotam cake


Instant-gram

There was no Friday Food last week because my cold was still too nasty. I baked a cake by Yotam Ottolenghi, and the recipe asked if this was the best ever chocolate cake. I gave the cake to MrsDrWho for her and her dinner guests, so I will tell you the verdict on Friday in my Friday Food post.

Best chocolate cake ever

Today is the first day I haven't had a residual cold headache. I had an almost four hour nap (not quite sure you can call that amount of sleep a nap?) after my new Exercise Physiologist ran me through some assessment tasks. I can balance on each foot for 45 seconds. If you need a balancer, I'm your woman!!!

If you want mud, then surprisingly, Lorelai Gilmore is your Labrador:

Gilly loves to be muddy

She was in the puddle at the dam with Hedy, but came out the muddier of the two.

Hedy and Gilly in the puddle

And here we have Rafa, Gilly and Hedy at the top of the 'hill' on our walk. It is the place we used to stop to farewell Sandy and his dad as they continued up the hill to their car and we went back down to ours. Hedy is doing a very good job of being a puppy dog!! We have turned Rafa to The Labrador Side and he wants a biscuit now too.

Rafa Gilly Hedy

The weather has been Spring-y. We had some more wild, windy, wet weather and when we went to the dam today, there was a tree half across the road. The Ranger must have been there because some of the tree had been trimmed already.

Tree down

Hedy has been, not very secretly, eating something she shouldn't be eating at home. Well, the plain flour in the shopping bag: the flour on her nose was a dead give away, but she is happily unaware!!

What's on Hedy's nose....

 I have started sewing the Jelly roll quilt as you go baby quilt. Phew, that's a long name...JRQAYGBQ, and the acronym looks like gobbledygook. I used a batik jelly roll MrsDrWho gave me for my birthday and some flannel for the backing. I used spray adhesive to 'baste' the backing and batting together as I am still a bit wary of my injured finger becoming more injured: which is has, which finger do you think The Labradors squashed against the fence and made bleed?? You'd be right if you thought my injured one. It had a bandaid and antiseptic and seems to be healing well.

Quilt as you go baby quilt

I think I am ready to start knitting again. I have some normal feeling in my fingertip, still pins and needles, touch-the-freezer-in-the-supermarket at the sides, but I am going to give it a go. I have some lovely wool, Katia Darling, from the wool shop. MrsDrWho picked it out. They had some new sparkly Opal, but I had just knitted her a glittery pair, which I realise I have no photo of: ahhh, maybe they don't exist??

Katia darling

I have joined The Instagram. I have resisted The Twitter and The Facebook, but it suddenly struck me that people whose blogs I used to follow, now have The Instagram. I can keep up with them through a new medium. And so I joined and then before I knew it I was on The Instagram. I am not sure how to properly drive The Instagram, but I had a quick lesson from the lovely WoolShopDesigner, and she said I am doing OK! I am not at all sure about Instagram Etiquette. When I searched it was all about following and then un-following or some such strategy. I don't want to gain followers, that's not my goal. I just want to keep up. Trying something new makes my brain work hard and keeps it on its toes.

And have I shared my birthday shoes? My sister sent me money to buy a specific pair, or two, of green shoes she had found, but they didn't come in my size. Bah humbug. So I ordered some shoes from The Homyped people. I have to wear sensible shoes because I have a sore knee and it seems silly to endure pain for a high heel. Well I think so. I bought two pairs of shoes, one is a mineral metallic which goes with everything and the other a darker olive than the photo, which I am very pleased with. My sister is very kind!!

Z birthday shoes

 

 

Our Council has instigated a Food and Garden Organics kerbside collection: FOGO. Our bin arrived in the wrong place, but our kind neighbour pulled it all the way around the corner and up the back of our house. We have three bins now: the ordinary Monte Carlo biscuit filling colour regular bin, the yellow lid for recycling and this new bin has a green lid, so we are chuffed. There is also a little FOGO caddy to keep in the kitchen and carry up to the big bin. We don't have a lot of FOGO waste, but I have already put some lettuce core scraps and banana peel into the caddy. It is not a big change, but it might help make a difference.

FOGO


Cold, Always Believe In Your Cold. You’ve Got The Power To Know You’re Indestructible.

I have a cold. Pretty much everyone I know has has a cold, a bad cold, or the full blown ‘flu and I have been lucky. Until Saturday night, and I have had a cold since then. We still go for our walks, because come hell or high water The Walk is sancrosanct. It means Hedy does a lot of running after the ball and catching it, and Gilly can roll in something smelly and then play in a muddy puddle.

Today is the first time I have been out. I went to the shop to buy vegetables for The Labradors and salty crisps for me. And the ingredients for the Feel Better Chicken Soup: garlic, ginger, chilli, chicken, noodles etc. 

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I also changed the bed. I needed a big rest after that. Since the paddle pool was filled there have been many wet and/or muddy feet on the bed.

Hedy Lamarr loves to play with WinnieWinston. He is a black Labrador toy that is meant to suction to a window with his suction feet. Hedy likes to dip him in the paddle pool, and then just duck him under a little more to get him really wet.

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Lorelai Gilmore is losing her Winter undercoat. Big time. It comes out like clumps of merino wool. Luckily she likes to have her legs and fluffy bits ruffled and patted and so we can make a furry mess outside. The weather has been warm, 20*C today, but we had a huge electrical storm with teeming rain at the weekend. Gilly likes to cool off in a puddle, thankfully we have the paddle pool at home.

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And just when Gilly is having a lovely time, along comes Hedy to stick her nose in. She’s putting on the brakes, and I think her ears are air brakes!

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So that has been our little world these last four or five days: bed, a walk and sleep. I have had to cancel outings, and a visit to the vet for Gilly’s blood test. I can’t go to our 100th Knitting Dining Out tomorrow, that’s one hundred months over ten years, and I am sulking about it. I am very cross, but that is just the way it is.

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We had some sad news that one of The Labradors dog friends, Jet, died yesterday. He had been sick for over a year. He was a lovely boy. Here he is playing with Gilly and our lovely Peri Naughty. Jetty is in Dog Heaven with Peri Naughty and Sandy.

We had some marvellous news as well, with one of my friends  becoming a grandmother for the first time. I had a few happy tears tonight when she told me. I must get better and sew the baby’s quilt.

I have my usual appointment at the GP on Friday, so she will be be able to check if I am on the road to recovery. I am so annoyed, my friends are on school holidays and I could be gallivanting about. Well, gallivanting slowly, in a cafe, with a cup of tea!