Friday Food: Potato Fritatta with Goat's Cheese and Pesto

Potato fritattaThis month's Better Homes & Gardens has a Meatless Monday feature. I quite like meals without meat, but I don't actually have a special day. This fritatta could be a meal in itself or it could accompany a steak, or some fish or chicken. It is quick to prepare, though I found it took a little longer in the pan on the stove than the recipe said. Without the pesto and goat's cheese it is rather bland, but if I didn't have goat's cheese, I would grate some extra sharp Parmesan cheese in with the eggs, and maybe add some chives or spring onions too. Or add some ham or bacon and ignore their Meatless Monday!!!

I used three medium sized waxy potatoes and I just sliced them thinly, those more adept than me could use a mandolin. I substituted baby spinach for the rocket: I am not a rocket fan. Luckily, my frying pan is heat resistant up to 200*C, and although the recipe says to heat the oven to 220*C, I gambled that the fan would compensate for the lower temperature. It did.

All in all, this was a quick and easy recipe, quite filling and you could easily make a version with whatever was in the pantry or fridge. I forgot to add the pesto before I took the photo: oops!!

 

Potato Fritatta with Goat's Cheese and Pesto     serves 4

  • 3 or 4 medium waxy potatoes, thinly sliced : about 600g
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 8 large eggs
  • 20ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g soft goat's cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup baby rocket leaves

 

Boil the kettle and then fill a saucepan with the water, over a high heat, and add some salt. I put the sliced potatoes in a bowl and covered them with cold water while I waited for the water to come to the boil. That way they don't discolour.

Slice potatoes

When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are tender. Don't cook them too long or they fall apart. Drain well.

Boil and drain

Heat the oven to 220*C/200*C fan-forced.

Whisk the eggs and garlic in a large bowl, gently add the potatoes and mix to combine. Season to taste. I had some salt and pepper with chilli flakes.

Eggs and potato

Heat the oil in an oven proof frypan on the stove over a low-medium heat. I found a low heat was not quite enough, but maybe that is the way the hotplates at our house work. Pour in the potato and egg mixture and spread evenly. Cook for 5 minutes, or until about 2/3 of the fritatta is set. I could see it was set beneath the runny egg still on top.

Into the pan

Put the frypan into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the fritatta is cooked through and has a slight golden colour on top.

Bake and embellish

Remove from the oven carefully as, naturally, the handle will be Very Hot. Arrange the cheese and rocket over the top, then remember to drizzle over the pesto before serving. I also squeezed half a lemon over the green leaves.

And it is good warm, hot or cold!!! I think it would be good picnic food.

Potato fritatta and goats cheese


Friday Food: Ricotta Pancakes with Maple Butter

One ricotta pancakeHow quickly has Shrove/Pancake Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, come around?? It is next week. Pancakes do not take too much baking in hot weather and so I whipped up a batch of Donna Hay's Ricotta Pancakes. The recipe says "Serves 4". My word, that must be four very hungry people, because I used my cookie scoop which is 2 tbspn (40ml-ish) and I made 40 pancakes. That's TEN each. Even if they were larger than pikelet size there would still be ten small pancakes' worth. I could easily make just half a batch and still be rolling in pancakes.

The pancakes are light and fluffy, but still have substance. I was able to find fresh ricotta at the supermarket and proper pure maple syrup, rather than maple flavoured syrup.

The maple butter curdled when I just mixed the softened butter and syrup. I would either melt the butter, mix in the maple syrup and refrigerate it, or whip them together with the mix-master. I tell you this because I did the former and then popped the maple butter into the freezer and, of course, it set hard. Oh dear. I let it sit out in the warmth of the afternoon and then whipped it with a fork.

I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, but I found adding the maple syrup and maple butter added enough sugar to the whole pancake situation and I chose not to sprinkle on extra sugar and cinnamon. I like to use sugar when I bake, and each pancake has only 2.75g of sugar as it comes out of the pan: I bake and cook most of the food at our house, and my downfall in Summer is lemon barley cordial. Otherwise, I just use sugar, and its ilk, sensibly in baking and cooking.

The ricotta pancakes freeze very well, and just reheat them in the microwave for a few minutes. I like to make a blueberry sauce to go with them. Blueberries and pancakes go together so well.

 

Ricotta Pancakes and Maple Butter    serves 4, but easily more!!

  • 225g (1 1/2 cups) self raising flour
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs separated
  • 375ml (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 200g ricotta
  • maple syrup and lemon wedges
  • extra sugar and cinnamon to serve

For the Maple Butter

  • 80g butter (20ml = 1 tablespoon)
  • 40ml maple syrup

 

Make the Maple Butter by either melting the butter and syrup together and refrigerate till just set, or, whisk them together. Set aside.

Maple butter

Begin the pancakes by putting the flour, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, ricotta and buttermilk into a bowl that is larger than you think you will need. Whisk together until it is relatively smooth. I think some random small lumps of ricotta add to the charm of the pancakes. And it is too hot to whisk any more!!

Start batter

Meanwhile, whip the egg-whites with the mix-master or hand beater until stiff peaks form.

Egg whites

Fold the egg-whites into the batter. I add about 1/3 at a time and the idea is to keep as much of the air as possible in the egg-whites, and not beat them into flat submission. Once again, some large-ish areas of egg-whites are fine.

Fold egg whites into batter

I melted together some butter and olive oil as the pan heated. I don't have a non-stick pan, so I must use a little something to grease the pan. I tipped the butter and oil into a small bowl and then just added a teaspoon and swished it about before each batch of pancakes was cooked.

Oil and butter

And here's where it almost went to hell in a handbasket. The recipe says to cook the pancakes on low for 3-4 minutes and then flip them. Nope, that was not happening at all. On low, my pancakes were barely less than raw.

Nope, just no

In the end I set the temperature to 3 on a scale that goes up to 6 on my stove. When the pancakes developed little holes in the top, I flipped them over. It worked very well. I would recommend this way.

Lots of pancakes

I kept a few warm in the oven to have for my afternoon snack. Well, five.

Ricotta pancakes yum

Definitely yum


Friday Food: Wagon Wheel Brownie Slice

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wagon Wheel Brownie Slice     makes 16-20 pieces

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

For the ganache

  • 40g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped

To decorate

  • You may need 4 extra Wagon Wheel biscuits

 

 

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

Melt

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

  Mix

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

  Array fill and bake

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

  Little ww brownie loaf

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

  Ganache

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

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

  The wagon wheel brownie slice


Friday Food: Mini Jaffa Cheesecakes

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mini Jaffa Cheesecakes    makes 12

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

 

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

Biscuits and bases

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

Processing

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

Adding eggs and we're done

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

Filling and baking

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

Cool and turn out

Decorate as you wish, and enjoy!!

Jaffa cheesecakes

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

Hand modelling


Friday Food: Yoghurt Berry Banana Pops

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Base

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

And freeze in cups

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

Banana and yoghurt

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

Add berries

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

Freeze and add sticks

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

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

Yoghurt berry pops


Friday Food: Pavlingtons

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pavlingtons     makes 12

For the Pavlovas

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

For the Lamington Truffles

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

For the Raspberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam, warmed and sieved

For the Chocolate Sauce

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

Also 200ml thickened cream for assembly.

 

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

Whip egg whites and sugar

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

Magically pavlova

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

And bake

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

And cool

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

Lamington truffles

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

Truffles

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

Making truffles

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

Completed truffles

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

Chocolate sauce

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

Sieved jam

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

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

Assemble

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

24

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

Pavlington


Friday Food: Hot Chocolate on a Spoon

Oh hot choc on a spoonWhy, you may ask, would someone in Australia be making Hot Chocolate on a Spoon for Christmas? Well, that would be because even though Summer officially started on the 1st of December, and the Cricket Test against The West Indies is taking place, Hobart is expecting snow on the mountain. It was 12*C the other day, that's 53*F.  A bit nippy you would agree. Hot water bottle and hot chocolate weather in fact!!!

I found a plethora of various recipes. I went with a basic chocolate/icing sugar/cocoa mix. I used good dark eating chocolate with a high cocoa content 50% or more, pure icing sugar and a mixture of Dutch processed and ordinary cocoa. Icing sugar mixture has cornflour added, so it may make a drink cornfloury.

Another option is to use a chocolate fudge, like my No Thermometer Chocolate fudge recipe. I did worry a bit about that keeping well in Summer because it has cream in it. Maybe it could be frozen?

I had a bit of a disaster when there was too little chocolate to make my mix come together. That's what I get for averaging out a few recipes. I have fiddled and fussed about and I think the amounts given should be OK. I added some more chocolate and put the bowl back over the not simmering water in the saucepan and gently stirred till the mixture came together. It worked out fine.

I 'set' the hot chocolate mix in the bottom of some plastic cups. I just didn't seem to have the right container. I realise now I could have put it into a small rectangular tin and then cut out pieces. Maybe next time.....

You can use a plastic spoon or an icy-pole or lollipop stick. And I added a marshmallow as well. I cut a slit right through, from top to bottom, with a very sharp, hot knife. I made a label. If I knew how, I would make it into something useful, but as it is I will add it at the end and it can perhaps be downloaded? I really have no idea. The label explains that you heat 250-300ml of milk whichever way you choose, and then plop in the spoon and swoosh it around while the hot chocolate dissolves, and maybe the marshmallow, and Bob's your Uncle: Hot Chocolate!!

 

Hot Chocolate on a Spoon    makes 6-8

  • 250g good dark chocolate
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 80g pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 6-8 plastic spoons or sticks
  • marshmallows

 

Melt the chocolate. I melted mine is a heat-proof bowl over some simmering water instead of the microwave. Stop heating the chocolate while it is still holding its shape.

Melt chocolate

Stir gently until all the lumps disappear and the chocolate is lovely and glossy and smooth.

More melting

Now add the cocoa powder and the sifted icing sugar. Here is where I had my slight disaster.

Oh dear

And so I added some more chocolate and reheated it over the hot water in the saucepan.

There, I fixed it

I weighed my hot chocolate mixture and it was 380g.  I decided I would make 7 Hot Chocolates on a Spoon @ 50g each. I could have added a little more chocolate and made 8. I divided the mixture between the cups and pushed another cup into that cup to flatten the fixture. It worked really well. Then I put a spoon in it. This is where you could add some crushed candy canes, or little chocolate bits and bobs as decoration.

In a cup

I rested the cups in a muffin tin and popped them in the freezer for half an hour or so.

Refrigerate

To release the Hot Chocolate on a Spoon I dipped the bottom of the cup ever so briefly into some hot water. They popped right out. I added a marshmallow. 

And a marshmallow

Finally, I put the Hot Chocolate on a Spoon into a cellophane bag, and added my label.  Stick a spoon in us, we're done!!!

Hot chocolate on a spoon

And here, for your viewing pleasure, are two labels.

Label

Label 2015 2


Friday Food: Fruit Mince Bites

A fruit mince biteI have been poorly this week, what a surprise, but I feel better at last. Better enough to bake some Fruit Mince Bites: the third in my try-something-new-for-Christmas baking. They are basically little shortbread cases filled with festive fruit mince. The smell wafting through the house as these cool is tantalising - Christmas to a T.

They are also easy to make and quick to bake. I found the recipe on taste.com.au and it is from Super Food Ideas December 2007.

I only needed to buy a jar of fruit mince and I was away. I already had a mini muffin tin which has 24 little holes. The recipe says it makes 24. I only made half the recipe and managed 16, so I think it is quite economical. I substituted cornflour/cornstarch for the rice flour. You could use a fig jam or some other festive filing. Lemon curd would be delicious.

It is always round about now that I remember I wanted to make my own fruit mince. Oh well, maybe next year!!

Dust these with icing sugar upon serving- warm or cold. I think even piping hot with custard, and/or ice cream and/or custard. Dusting too early means the icing sugar will just disappear into the 'bite'.

 

Fruit Mince Bites    makes 24-30 ish

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 60g rice flour OR cornflour
  • 1 tspn lemon zest
  • fruit mince, a cup will be plenty
  • icing sugar for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C. My mini muffin tin is non-stick, so I didn't need to grease it at all.

Butter, vanilla and sugar creamed

Cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy: about 5 minutes.

Add flours and lemon zest

Sift in the flours and mix to combine. Add the lemon zest. Continue to mix until the dough comes together.

Make the little holes

Using a 20ml tablespoon, scoop out a level spoonful and roll into a ball. Pop into the tin and then using your finger, or the end of a wooden spoon handle eg, poke a hole in the centre shortbread. Stop before you reach the bottom of the tin!!

Fill and bake

Spoon in about a teaspoon of fruit mince. Bake for 12-15 minutes. I waited for about 12 minutes when the edges started to turn a little golden brown.

And cool

Leave to rest in the tin for about 5 minutes. Mine came out very easily all bar two. I just gave a little twist and eased them out. For the last stubborn two I used the tip of a sharp knife to encourage them out.

I think we have pretty much established that I am not terribly good at presentation, or present wrapping, so here's a pretty Christmas border to distract the eyes.

Festive fruit mince bites


Friday Food: Christmas Tree Brownies

Christmas tree brownie popI always help with some Christmas cooking at school. MrsDrWho spotted a Betty Crocker Christmas Tree Brownie Mix Kit ( endless name) and after going to five supermarkets and making three phone calls I finally tracked some down. It is sensible to ask the aide to cook with something that needs as little explanation as possible. I would use my favourite plain brownie recipe: This one is good, and so is this.

It all went very smoothly and the brownies tasted fine. I tested them on my next-door neighbour!! Icing and sprinkles are included and you only need 1/2 cup melted butter and two eggs. You could use 1/2 cup oil at a pinch. It really is so easy to mix. I baked the brownie in ab25 x 16cm slice tin. The brownie is the perfect depth and only took 30 minutes to cook. I made a little template for cutting out the triangle shapes: an isosceles triangle with a base of 6cm and a height of 8cm. I managed to cut 16 little tree shapes and there was hardly any waste.

I gently stuck a paddle pop stick into the "tree" and it all went very well!!! My paddle pop sticks were as huge as tongue depressors, but that was what I had on hand. All in all, very successful. I made my own simple icing from icing sugar mixture and water and piped with a ziplock bag, and I tried a few different sprinkles. I will definitely add Christmas Tree Brownies to my list this year.

Christmas Tree Brownies  makes 14-16

  • I used a box mix, any brownie mix that is firm should do the trick, or use your own favourite recipe.
  • This mix required 1/2 cup melted butter and two eggs.
  • The box included the icing and sprinkles, however a cup of icing sugar, water and a ziplock bag will do the trick.
  • Any and various sprinkles and/or lollies for decoration.
  • Paddle pop sticks if you are making trees with trunks!!

Packet

If you are using this Brownie Mix, preheat the oven to 180*C or fan-forced 160*C. Melt the 1/2 cup of butter and I do that in an oven-proof bowl while the oven is heating. Put the brownie mix in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and two eggs. Whisk until combined: about ten seconds!!!

Melt butter, eggs and mix

Grease and then line a 25 x 16cm slice tin with baking paper. Spoon in the brownie mixture and smooth the top. I get to use my offset spatula and feel all cheffy!! Bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick or skewer stuck into the centre should come out clean when it is cooked. I always turn my tins halfway through.

And bake and cool

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

Cut the brownie

Cut the brownie in half lengthways and then cut out triangle shapes, using the tessellation idea. This means there is as little waste as possible. You can make a template or just cut away blithely. Carefully lift the trees onto some baking paper and get ready to decorate. There is some frosting in the box or make your own icing and use a ziplock bag with a tiny corner snipped off to pipe.

Decorate

I didn't try to pipe just on top of the tree, I went wildly* from side to side and then cleaned up the edges at the end when the icing was almost set.

*Well not too wildly, but I felt wicked!!

Clean up the sides

In the end I drizzled the sprinkles over the top and reclaimed any excess when the icing was set. I used some 100s and 1000s, and some red sanding sure as well. All in all a very quick, delicious and Christmassy idea.

Brownie christmas trees


Friday Food: Festive Ginger Biscuits

Festive ginger biscuitsAll being well, I am starting a little Festive cooking for Friday Food in the run up to Christmas. I am going to be trialling some new-to-me recipes to determine whether they are worthy of being added to my Christmas Cooking List.

A little bit of Blog-keeping: I have no idea if other people can read the new blog template easily. I can see it on the computer and The Ipad, but I don't know about everyone else.

This recipe is in the December Better Homes & Gardens, Issue 13 for 2015. It's a kind of bonus issue. Quite a few people I bake for love ginger and so I gingered these up by adding some extra naked ginger. If I had had some fresh ginger I would have grated that into the mixture. It is a fabulous recipe because the butter is simply rubbed into the flour, there is no need for any electric appliance.

I made half the recipe and only baked half and ended up with 8 biscuits, so : Maths...... and it would make 32 biscuits. I added extra ginger so I eked out 6 extra biscuits. I measured out a 20ml tablespoon of the biscuit dough and weighed it, and made all my biscuits 23g. People not obsessed with numbers and such-like would most likely just roll out walnut-sized balls.

The biscuits are very festive just as they are, but I attempted the decorations shown in the magazine. There were no actual instructions, so I just made it up as I went along. I bought some M&Ms and some plain Cadbury Dairy Milk Roll, some chocolate sprinkles and white and dark chocolate.  I used a zip lock bag to do the piping. BH&G also suggests that if you don't have the time, or inclination, to bake you can buy Gingernut biscuits from the supermarket.

 

Festive Ginger Biscuits   makes 26-32

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tspn ground ginger
  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup or honey
  • 1 egg
  • optional, 1/2 cup naked ginger, finely chopped (crystallised would be fine)

To decorate

 

Rub the butter in

Sift the flour, bicarb soda and ground ginger into a bowl and stir to mix. Rub the butter into the flour until it has the texture of breadcrumbs. If you shake the bowl a little, the larger pieces come to the top and you can rub them in again.

Wet ingredients and knead

Add the egg, sugar and golden syrup. Mix with a spoon or fork until the dough comes together and then use your hands. Here's where I added the finely chopped ginger. Wetting your hands may stop the dough from sticking. I kneaded it in the bowl for maybe 30 seconds until it was smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap or put in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180*C and line your trays with baking paper. The biscuits need to cool almost completely on the tray, so it is best if you have perhaps three trays ready to go.

Dough and biscuits rolled

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the tray. Flatten slightly. I forgot to do this, but I remembered half way through and did it then and my biscuits seemed to survive well enough. They don't spread very much. I could have easily fitted 12 biscuits on my tray.

Flatten and bake

Cook for about 12 minutes. As usual, I turn and swap the trays half way through. The biscuits are baked when they are slightly golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the tray. They are quite fragile until they cool and harden.

Plain ginger biscuits

I decorated with little thought for neatness and even less skill. Nevertheless, I have made a chocolate coated biscuit with chocolate sprinkles, a reindeer with upside down Choc Bits for eyes, a melting snowman and a Christmas pudding. I had a lot of fun and I think this would be a great activity for children at school or at home.  While you could use any round plain sweet biscuit, I think the Gingernut is more hardy. If you do click through to the Gingernuts, you can see Australians are very picky and choosy and different regions have different styles and types of biscuit. And never the twain shall meet!!!

Decorated biscuits