Friday Food: White Choc Boozy Gin Fudge

Boozy gin choc fudgeWe are still a tad poorly at our house, so it was with great pleasure I remembered this recipe from The Decorated Cookie. In fact, there is a series of boozy fudges and I have made some with vodka and dark chocolate too. This white chocolate and gin fudge with lime is pretty fabulous. MrsDrWho sent me home with some Bailey's Irish Cream, Kirsch and Butterscotch Schnapps, so I am looking forward to some more boozy fudges. I am thinking about dark chocolate and kirsch with perhaps some dried cherries mixed through??

This is such an easy recipe: three or four ingredients and a few minutes of sifting, mixing and microwaving and maybe some zesting, and the fudge is done. This is definitely for adults only, as the alcohol is not cooked in any way and so it remains alcoholic. I used pure icing sugar which I sifted and ordinary eating chocolate, though I did find some posh chocolate with vanilla. The recipe calls for choc chips or buttons, but I checked, and they are just chocolate with nothing added and our choc chips have things added.  I sprinkled some lime zest over the top, but you could used lemon or even orange zest. They would all be good. I have converted the recipe to grams and I made 1/8 of the recipe quite easily, which yielded 9 2.5cm (1 inch) squares. As it is warm, I did pop it in the fridge to firm up.

The Decorated Cookie says it will keep for about a week in the fridge, and as it is not Winter at Christmastime here, that's where I will keep mine. I do think it will last for longer than a week, as there is nothing that will really deteriorate. I shall be making many, and varied, versions of this for Christmas gifts!!! This is a great recipe, and I can highly recommend it.

 

NB: I shall put the measurements for my 1/8 batch in brackets for each ingredient. I think it would be perfectly fine to round things up or down a little too!!!

 

Boozy White Chocolate and Gin Fudge        makes 60-72 pieces

  • 908g pure icing sugar, sifted     (112g)
  • 236ml gin   (30ml)
  • 340g good white eating chocolate     (42g)
  • zest of two limes    (zest of 1/4 lime)

 

Icing sugar and gin

Before you begin, line a 20x 30cm tin with baking paper. For 1/8 I used a small plastic container measuring about 7 x 11cm.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the gin. Mix to combine.

Melt chocolate

Gently melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Break chocolate into smaller pieces and microwave it in 20 second bursts on Medium or High depending on the microwave's strength. Stir thoroughly after each burst as the chocolate burns very easily. This batch took 60 seconds in all.

Combine

Mix the icing sugar and gin with the melted chocolate expeditiously, as it will set quite quickly.

Set add lime

Spoon the fudge into the container and distribute evenly, smoothing the top. Sprinkle over the lime zest and gently push it into the fudge. Let it sit for 30 minutes and if it is still soft, put it in the fridge for an hour or so before you cut into small squares. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container, especially in Summer!! And then enjoy your boozy fudge: remember, don't eat boozy fudge and drive.

Boozy gin and lime chocolate fudge


Friday Food: Adam Liaw's Easy Cheeseburger

Adam liaw easy cheeseburgerI have finally surfaced from the fog of being poorly, though we do still sleep most of the day. And I know this is hard to believe, but I am not very hungry. Today I remembered seeing Adam Liaw's easy cheeseburger and it was just what I fancied as some proper-ish food. I can't really justify the Heston method of making burgers: too complicated and too expensive to buy my own meat grinder, so this was an easy cheat.

The ingredients are readily available, and the cheeseburgers really are quick to prepare and cook. Do buy the cheapest beef mince: he explains that instead of trying to buy more expensive meat with a high fat content and then mincing it yourself, cheap mince has enough fat for the burger to stay moist. I think that just gently moulding the mince to form the burger, and not squashing or kneading it, also helps. There is nothing to bind the mince. When I was little we called dill pickles, gherkins. Now they have lots of names, but I still think of them as gherkins. Maybe they are something completely different?? I am not dill pickle/gherkin aware.

We don't have a BBQ or a griddle plate, and as I was only making one, I used a little cast iron frypan. It didn't really do a great job heating/toasting the buns, but they tasted perfectly fine. Though the burgers require at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator before they are cooked, they can be ready in about 20 minutes: maybe quicker than going to The Scottish Restaurant!!

The burgers were moist, flavourful and I could almost have eaten another one, well, in my mind. These are really great cheeseburgers: thanks Adam Liaw.

 

Adam Liaw's Easy Cheeseburgers        makes 4

  • 500g cheap beef mince
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) vegetable oil or dripping
  • 4 soft hamburger buns
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, shaved into rings
  • 4 slices tasty cheddar cheese
  • gherkins or dill pickles
  • tomato sauce
  • American style mustard

 

Divide the mince into four equal parts and gently form into a burgers. I made mine and then put it between two pieces of Gladwrap and poked and prodded it until it was the same size as my hamburger bun. It was quite thin. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Mince and burger

Heat a grill or large frypan, I went to 5 on a scale of 6. Brush the pan or plate with oil. Cut the buns in half and place, cut side down, in the pan. Check to see they don't burn, season with salt and pepper and then set to the side if there is a cool spot.

Heat and toast buns

Take the burgers from the fridge and put into the pan. Press some of the shaved onion rings into the top. After just 1 minute, flip the burger and top with a cheese slice and the top of the bun. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, the cheese should be melting. Because the burger is so thin, maybe less than 1/2 cm, it will be cooked through in a short time.

Burger and onion

Squeeze the mustard and tomato sauce onto the base of the bun. Flip the top of the bun with the burger and cheese onto the base and there you are. Your burger is ready to serve with a gherkin on the side.

Cheese, bun and condiments

It is totally delicious, and I interspersed my bites of burger with bites of gherkin: Yum.

Easy cheeseburger

 


Friday Food: Oven-roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato tart with goat's cheeseThere are so many Christmas magazine issues, I feel overwhelmed: in a good way. I mainly focus on the sweet, but this savoury tart in the December 2016 Donna Hay Magazine caught my eye. It looks so scrumptious, I love the array of tomato slices, and it is so simple to make. It is indeed very delicious, because I have eaten it for early dinner and some more for supper!!! I really only needed to buy a couple of out-of-the-ordinary ingredients, and they were not too tricky to find.

I used goat cheese rather then the goat curd the recipe asks for, basically because I could put my hand right on it in the deli. I bought a small roll, 100g, and it was plenty. I could not find any white balsamic vinegar, instead I used a Moscato Glaze, which has a sharpish taste, on the same level as lemon juice. It works really well. I also used flat leaf parsley and spring onions, as I always have those in the fridge. Instead of olive oil, I used avocado oil. It was a gift, along with a few other special oils, and it worked perfectly with the tomatoes and the Moscato Glaze.

So, I adapted the recipe to what I had at home, mostly, and it worked perfectly well. I can see this as a delicious lunch, I ate mine with some broccolini, as a posh entrée or an upmarket side with chicken, fish or steak. This tastes just as good piping hot, warm or cool. I am not sure it will refrigerate well at all, but I don't mind. I will eat it slightly less crispy, and cold, tomorrow!!

 

 

Oven-roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart       serves 4

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted. I used butter puff.
  • 140g (1/2 cup) goat curd/cheese
  • 400g fresh tomatoes, sliced 1cm thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dill sprigs
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 20ml (1 tbspn) white balsamic vinegar

 

Preheat the oven to 240*C.  I would also heat the tray. I usually do this, didn't this time, and wish I had. It just makes the base of the pastry crispier.

Puff pastry

Lay one sheet of the thawed puff pastry directly on top of the other and press firmly together. I also scored a 1cm border around the edge of the top sheet, as this gives more of a puffed crust.

Cheesy goodness

I left the goat cheese out of the fridge to soften, and then spread it out evenly over the pastry with the back of a spoon, which I dipped into some very hot water.

You say tomatoes

My 3 medium tomatoes were almost 500g, but that meant I could cut off the bottom and have nice uniform slices.

Top and bake

Array the slices of tomato atop the goat cheese and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I had some nice sea salt flakes and some chilli cracked pepper. Drizzle over half the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and the pastry is cooked through.

Top with your herbs of choice and drizzle with the remaining oil and the white balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!!

Tomato and goat cheese tart


Friday Food: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Peanut butter cupcakeSometimes, in a state of ennui, I can't think of anything to bake. I sent this link, The Scran Line, to my Sewing friends and they chose two cupcakes: Peanut Brittle and Carrot Cake. Since Wednesday I have made two and a half batches of Carrot Cake cupcakes and half a batch of Peanut butter cupcakes!! I did cheat and actually made toffee peanuts (which can be can be made into a praline) instead of a proper brittle. They have a hidden surprise of chocolate sauce in the centre and vanilla buttercream on top.  You can just make the peanut cupcakes and ice them with some chocolate ganache or an easy peanut butter icing, and not go the whole hog with chocolate sauce, buttercream and peanut toffee.

Suprise inside

The recipe says it makes 20 cupcakes, and I halved it and it still made 12. I filled each cupcake paper with 60ml of batter. We are lucky to have quite a few brands of peanut butter which are just Australian peanuts: nothing else added.  This makes me very happy. The chocolate sauce is just melted in the microwave, it took about 2 minutes, and looks pretty luxurious.

I watched a video from The Australian River Cottage before I made my toffee. I often have bad luck with toffee, it either crystallises before it is melted or it burns. This time I just used 150g of caster sugar and swirled the pan as it melted and it worked really well. I used Australian peanuts and Tasmanian hazelnuts. MrsDrWho doesn't like peanuts so I made her some toffee hazelnuts so she wouldn't feel left out.

After I made half the buttercream recipe, (and I forgot to add the peanut butter but honestly it was fine) I bought an actual Wilton 6B tip and used it to pipe the buttercream after the cupcakes were safely at Sewing. I forgot to take a photo I was so excited at the lovely piping pattern. I am not in love with wondrous architectural buttercream toppings. I prefer a lower frosting to cupcake ratio, so I just piped a ring shape and then filled it with the roughly crushed peanut toffee.

I'll give amounts for the full cupcake recipe, along with the chocolate sauce and vanilla buttercream.

 

NB An Australian tablespoon is, very sensibly, 20ml.

 

Peanut Butter Cupcakes      makes 20-24

For the cupcakes:

  • 430g plain flour
  • 265g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 375ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) Greek yoghurt (I used the top of my passionfruit yoghurt!!)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 4 tbspn (80ml) smooth peanut butter

 

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 400g dark chocolate, I used 70% cocoa
  • 50g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 250ml cream

 

For the toffee peanuts:

  • 100g peanuts
  • 150g caster sugar

 

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 500g butter, softened
  • 1kg icing sugar mixture, sifted. You may need a little more.
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced and line your muffin tray with paper cases.

Dry, butter and wet

To make the cupcakes, I follow The Scran Line's unusual method. It seems to work very well. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for a few minutes on a low speed until it is well combined. Then add the softened butter, I always judge it to be softened if I poke it with my finger and it "gives" a little.  Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I also whisk the eggs into the oil while I am waiting.

Add wet to dry and butter

Next, slowly pour the oil and eggs into the mixer as it is running on a low speed and continue until it comes together. Scrape the bowl once to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom and mix for another 30 seconds.

Add peanut butter

Fold in the peanut butter and the batter is ready. I put 1/4 cup, or 60ml, of the batter into each paper case and then bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, turning the tray halfway through.

Bake and cool

Check they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean.  They will also be slightly golden brown on top and will come away from the edge. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate sauce

The chocolate sauce is so easy to make. Just put everything into a microwave proof container and heat in 20 second bursts on High. Stir well after each 20 seconds, especially at the start when it doesn't look like it needs it. Just heat until it is smooth and glossy. This will keep, refrigerated, for at least a week, and you can make it saucy again simply by reheating gently in the microwave.

Toffee

Before I made the toffee, I roasted the nuts for 5 minutes at 180*C and then put them on some baking paper. I did try to rub off the skins, but I was tired and I gave up. I made my successful toffee by pouring 150g of caster sugar into a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. I then stood there and peered intently, swirling the sugar every few minutes until it really started to melt.

Toffee and nuts

Once it was a nice dark amber colour and all the sugar was dissolved I poured it over the peanuts and hazelnuts. The toffee is BOILING hot, even hotter than that, and for once I managed not to burn myself. I did that on the oven shelf instead. It sets in a few minutes and you can crush it roughly by putting the toffee in a ziplock bag and banging it with a rolling pin. Or you can make praline using a blender.

Vanilla buttercream

The vanilla buttercream takes a little while to make, but it is not difficult. Put the softened butter into the stand mixer and beat on a medium speed for 5 minutes. The butter will change from pale yellow to white and it will be fluffier. The add half the icing sugar mixture and beat till it is combined. Finally add the remaining icing sugar, the milk and vanilla extract and beat for a final 5 minutes. You can add the peanut butter here, I forgot, and beat it in well. I found  the buttercream was quite soft and so I filled my piping bag and refrigerated it until it was time to leave. By the time I was ready to pipe onto the cupcakes, the icing was the right consistency.

Buttercream, filled cupcakes

To assemble the cupcakes, first you core them. I used the large end of the piping tip and pressed down half way into the cupcake and then used a teaspoon to ease out some of the cake. I left at least half the depth of the cake so that the chocolate sauce wouldn't leak out the bottom. Fill the centre with chocolate sauce, then pipe on your desired amount of buttercream, and top with the toffee peanuts. The carrot cupcakes are lurking at the back of the plate.

Cupcakes galore

 

 


Friday Food: Four-Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes

4 ingredient cupcakeDelicious magazine is celebrating its 15th birthday. I used to collect Delicious, but now I use the Zinio for Libraries app to read it on my ipad. This month I was very interested in the 4 ingredient chocolate cupcakes because, well, 4 ingredients and chocolate cupcakes. The 4 ingredients are chocolate, cream cheese, eggs and brown sugar. I was lucky enough to use proper farm eggs, and the whites whipped up in no time flat. There are actually 6 ingredients, but they haven't counted salt and water. I made half the recipe and 15 cupcakes and the recipe says a whole batch is 24, so you might have 30. MrsDrWho tasted the cupcakes and said they were unusual, kind of like a baked mousse. In fact when they came out of the oven they were quite puffed and then sank when they cooled, some even developed a hole. I don't think that really matters.

Once again, the recipe gave the total of the ingredients, but you have to read the recipe really carefully, because you don't use them all in the cupcakes, they are used for the frosting too. I will give the amounts for one whole batch, separated into cakes and frosting.

I was not very successful in making the frosting lovely and shiny as it is in the magazine photo, but my bakes often suffer from being refrigerated and transported. I ended up just spooning on some frosting rather than piping it.

Magazine shiny frosting

I think that is all really, other than the cupcakes being fine for gluten-free people!! I don't think these will keep for very long as they were not terribly moist, and they went a little hard when they were kept in the fridge.

 

4 Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes     makes 24-30

For the cupcakes:

  • 500g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 500g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 250g brown sugar

 

For the frosting:

  • 200g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 500g full fat Philly cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 20ml water (1 Australian tablespoon)
  • pinch salt

 

Preheat the oven to 150*C and line muffin trays with paper cases.

Melt chocolate

For the cupcakes, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Philly

I cubed my Philly cream cheese earlier and put it out in the sun in a big clear tub, with the lid on!!  Once it is softened, beat it with a spatula or spoon until it is smooth.

Combining

Then pour in the cooled chocolate and beat together. Add the egg yolks and sugar and mix well to combine.

Eggwhites

Whisk the egg-whites, by hand or with a beater, until stiff peaks form. There looks to be some yellow in the beaten egg-whites, but it is just a trick of the camera. Any yolk at all in the egg-whites will prevent them from whipping up.

Cupcake batter

Gently fold 1/3 of the egg-whites into the chocolate mixture. This is to loosen it, so that the rest of the egg-whites will be easier to fold in. You always lose a little of the lift from this first 1/3. Gently fold in the remaining egg-whites until no white streaks remain.

Bake and cool

Spoon or scoop into the paper cases, I filled mine to about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. I found it took 25 minutes for my cakes to cook. Set the cakes aside to cool completely.

Choc and cream cheese

Make the frosting by melting and cooling 200g dark chocolate, and softening and beating 500g of cream cheese.

Frosting

Beat the chocolate and cream cheese until smooth and then add the sugar, water and salt. Beat again until smooth. The icing will be thick and they recommend chilling it to thicken. This is when mine went dull, instead of shiny.

Spoon or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and you are done!!!

4 ingredient chocolate cupcakes


Friday Food: Lemon Cheesecake Pavlova

Lemon cheese cake pavFrankenstein desserts are all the go, and while I am not always a fan, I thought the combination of pavlova and lemon cheesecake sounded delicious. This was the cover recipe on the September issue of Taste Magazine, but you can find it online here now. The pavlova needs to be made the day before and cooled overnight in the oven and then the cheesecake added on top and the dessert refrigerated for at least 3 hours. In truth, you could easily serve this as a frozen dessert, which would have circumvented my problem- read on.....

I found the recipe annoying because it doesn't separate the sugar into two parts: one for the pavlova and one for the berries. I had measured it out could not be bothered doing it again, so I just made a 4 egg pavlova and had some extra small pavlovas. The recipe also lumps the toppings in with the general ingredients. I have separated them into better categories. I know I am supposed to read the whole recipe, but I just expect it will be organised the way I like!!!

I used fresh local strawberries instead of raspberries. The raspberries are either frozen, imported from overseas countries where they don't have strict food laws, or unbelievably expensive right now. MrsDrWho and MrsReno said strawberries were fine. I used posh lemon curd from the supermarket, and I added the zest of the lemon I juiced to the cheesecake, because I don't think you can have too much lemon really.

Although I followed the recipe faithfully and accurately, and refrigerated it for 6 hours, the cheesecake portion didn't "set" and oozed over the sides of the pavlova when I removed it from the tin. It still tasted the same, but didn't look spectacular at all. I didn't bother with the white chocolate decorations as this recipe involved many steps, and I was tired by the time it was in the fridge. You can refer the the recipe online for the instructions.

Good and not so good

 

Lemon Cheesecake Pavlova       serves 8-10

For the Pavlova:

  • 3 eggwhites at room temperature
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 1 tspn cornflour
  • 1/2 tspn white or cider vinegar. I have used malt at a pinch.

 

For the Cheesecake:

  • 25og Philly cream cheese, full fat, at room temperature
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 40ml (2 tbspn) fresh lemon juice and the zest
  • 2 tspn gelatine powder
  • 40ml warm water
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 145g (1/2 cup) lemon curd

 

For the topping:

  • 250g frozen raspberries or fresh strawberries
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 passionfruit, or a tin of passionfruit
  • 185ml double cream
  • 125ml thickened cream

 

Make the pavlova first. Line a 12 x 27cm loaf tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 120*C/100*C fan-forced.

Whisk eggwhites

I always wipe the metal mixer bowl and the beaters with some lemon juice or vinegar and it is vital that there is not a skerrick of egg yolk or the whites won't whip properly. Whip the eggs until they are just holding their shape and then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. It generally takes about 10-15 minutes to properly incorporate the sugar. The eggs are ready when you rub a little bit of the mixture between your finer and you can't feel a single grain of sugar: it is smooth and glossy.

Add sugar, cornflour, vinegar

Spoon into the tin and smooth the top and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Bake pavlova

Turn the oven off and leave it to cool overnight. If needs be, you could make the pavlova early in the morning on the day you want the dessert.

Gelatine

Before you start making the cheesecake part, put the the warm water in a small heatproof bowl or glass and sprinkle over the gelatine. Place this bowl/glass into a larger heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the sides of the smaller bowl/glass. Stir every minute for about 5 minutes until the gelatine is totally dissolved. Set aside until it is at room temperature.

Creamcheese lemon

Meanwhile beat the room temperature cream cheese with the sugar until it is smooth. Add the lemon juice/zest and beat briefly to combine and then finally beat in the cooled gelatine mixture.

Add lemon add gelatine

In a new bowl, whisk the thickened cream until it soft peaks form. Fold in about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and then add the rest. Fold gently to combine. Swirl through the lemon curd. The idea is that you will see the swirls of curd in the finished cheesecake.

Combine

Spoon onto the pavlova, even out the top and then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Layer cheesecake on pavlova

Prepare the berries by defrosting them if they are frozen, and blending them with the sugar. You could also push them through a sieve. I don't mind the pips in berries, and there is passionfruit, which is basically pips anyway. Whip the creams till soft peaks form and then assemble the dessert.

Berries

Gently remove the dessert from the tin, spoon on the cream and pour over the berry sauce and passionfruit. You can add some extra berries and white chocolate shapes too. I chose to put a slice of the sad squished dessert on a plate and then added the cream and fruit on top. I wish you better luck than I had with the gelatine setting, but be assured the taste was not affected at all. I think this would be a fabulous frozen dessert for Summer, especially as it can be made beforehand and served whenever you want.

Lemon cheesecake pavlova


Friday Food: Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus bacon rollsI don't have The Facebook, so on The Internet I have to peer above a big opaque box that obscures half the screen. In the gap on Tastemade Facebook I saw something delicious: bacon wrapped asparagus. Yum. Asparagus is plentiful and cheap now and to take advantage I went ahead and made three batches of this recipe. I made the first two with normal sized asparagus spears. I not only cut off the woody ends, I also shaved the bottom third of the skin away. I used teeny tiny asparagus spears for the third batch and though they were cute, there was a low asparagus to bacon and puff pastry ratio. I would stick to the ordinary sized asparagus from now on.

I found that the asparagus rolls worked best with only half the puff pastry and half the streaky part of the bacon. I don't call the "not eye" part of the bacon anything, but I have seen it in the deli with a "streaky bacon" label.  I didn't have any Parmesan cheese and so my rolls have none.

If I was up to it, I would serve this with some roasted tomatoes and maybe some Hollandaise or cheesy sauce. I plan to make a fourth batch and take them to Sewing on Wednesday.

 

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus     makes 12

 

  • 12 spears of asparagus
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 6-12 rashers of streaky bacon
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tbspn wholegrain mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbspn Parmesan cheese, finely grated

 

Preheat the oven to 230*C and line a tray with baking paper. I put the tray in the oven as it heats up so the puff pastry hits the very hot tray and starts to puff up more quickly. Or at least this is what I choose to believe.

Prepare

Prepare the asparagus by cutting off any woody stems and if it is thick, peel the darker green skin off the ends. Cut the thawed puff pastry into 12 thin strips and create 12 long thin pieces of streaky bacon about the same length as the puff pastry.

And roll

Layer a strip of bacon overlapping slightly the puff pastry and twist on lots of freshly ground black pepper. I found the best way to cover the asparagus was to wrap the beginning across to the right and kind of seal the pastry together, and then bring the long end and spiral around to the left. 

One bacon wrapped asparagus

But of course do whatever works for you, I pinched the ends together.

Lay the wrapped asparagus onto the tray, spread on some mustard and then brush with the beaten egg. I did half with, and half without, mustard. This is where you would add the Parmesan cheese.

Brush mustard bake

Bake for 15 -17 minutes. I turned the tray after 10 minutes. They took 17 minutes to bake. They are ready when the pastry is a deep golden brown and crisp. You can cool on the tray and serve warm or cold, or piping hot. I like them every way!!!

Bacon wrapped asparagus


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.


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