Friday Food: Coco Pop Choc Mousse Cups

Cocopop cupThe name of the recipe in no way indicates the difficulty involved: basically you make a kind of Mars Bar slice mix and press it into muffin tin holes and then fill with a melted chocolate mix folded into whipped cream. I really enjoyed making these, and the recipe comes from the Woman's Day magazine, where there is also a Froot Loop cake and a Cornflake slice, and whence I sourced the Jelly Cake Doughnuts. If you don't have Coco Pops, you could just use any plain puffed rice cereal. In our house, when I was a little girl, Sundays were the day for Wicked Breakfast Cereals: Coco Pops, Frosty Flakes, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops - they all came out for special occasions only. These mousse cups are a special occasion food as well.

I eschewed the recipe directions and did all my melting, gently, in the microwave with 30 second bursts and lots of stirring. I always err on the side of a little less melting than I think I want and then I stir any lumps into submission. I spooned 2 tablespoons full of the Coco Pop mixture into my muffin tin holes and then pressed them firmly into the base and sides. In the end I had enough left over to cover the base of a loaf tin, and I topped that with the left over mousse: so bonus dessert!!

I greased the muffin tin holes with some butter and then cut strips of baking paper and placed them cross-wise in the tin to make a lining. They popped out perfectly when they were set.

The trick to folding the melted chocolate and condensed milk into the whipped cream is to first add a good dollop of the cream to the melted chocolate/condensed milk and stir that in well to loosen the mixture. Then fold that into the whipped cream very gently. I was very pleased as it was smooth and had a nice texture.

I can only think of one downside, and that is you have to wait 4 hours for the mousse to set before you can eat them!!!!

NB An Australian tablespoon is very sensibly 20ml, or 4x5ml teaspoons.

 

Coco Pop Choc Mousse Cups     makes at least 12

  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 50g butter, chopped
  • 60ml golden syrup
  • 3 cups Coco Pops
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 395g tin of condensed milk
  • 300ml cream
  •  1 tspn vanilla extract

 

Grease and then line the 12 holes of a muffin tin with strips of baking paper and set aside. Melt the milk chocolate, butter and golden syrup in the microwave in 30 second bursts using a Medium heat. As soon as it looks almost melted, stir until it is smooth and combined.

First melt

Put the Coco Pops into a large bowl and then pour in the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly so that every Pop is coated and shiny. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of mixture into each muffin tin hole and use a smaller spoon to press the Pops firmly into the base and up the sides. Make sure the base is covered, add a few more Pops if you need them. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Pops and cups

Start the mousse by melting together the dark chocolate and 1/2 the tin of condensed milk in the microwave. Once again, stir the under-melted chocolate until it is smooth and combined. Set aside to cool.

Melting again

Whip the cream and vanilla till soft peaks form. Spoon a good dollop of the cream into the cooled chocolate/condensed milk mixture and mix firmly together.

Whip, fold a third

Once it is combined, pour into the whipped cream and gently fold together until there are no pale streaks of cream showing.

And fold and fill

Take the cups from the fridge and spoon the mousse in, filling right to the top.

Cocopop cups

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and then serve as they are or perhaps with some cream and shaved chocolate on top.

Coco pop cups


Friday Food: Sticky Date Scrolls

A date scrollWhat to bake, what to bake?? I have made a luxurious chocolate mousse cake, and some brown sugar and oat muffins too, but MrsDrWho seemed delighted with the pink iced sticky date scrolls. So much so that I made two more batches for Sewing on Wednesday. I found these in the "date" feature in June's Recipes+ magazine. They are just so cute and it does really matter which way the icing stripes run. Believe me, it really does.

 

I just used my own scone recipe, which isn't really a proper recipe at all. Lassie Nan, my dad's mum, taught me: basically use two cups of self-raising flour, rub in a knob of butter and when it resembles breadcrumbs, add enough milk to make a sticky, but not too sticky, dough. I can't ever tell how much milk I will need, I just know when the dough feels right. You may have a good scone recipe you like to use.

I read a clever tip somewhere, can't for the life of me remember where, but rub a little oil on the knife before chopping the dates and it stops them sticking- very helpful. I added a few more dates to the date mixture as I felt it was a little too runny, and that's about it. Being scones, the date scrolls will only keep for two days in an airtight container. MrsReno warmed her sticky date scroll in the microwave and ate it with vanilla ice-cream: they're very versatile!!

NB Rather sensibly, an Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 x 5ml teaspoons.

 

Sticky Date Scrolls    makes 8

  • 125g pitted dates
  • 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbspn brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 30g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbspn boiling water
  • few drops of pink food colouring, or one drop of red.

Grease and line a loaf tin, mine is about 22 x 11cm.

Chop the dates

Lightly oil your knife and then chop the dates roughly.

Date filling

Put them in a small bowl and stir through the brown sugar and bicarb soda. Then pour in the boiling water and set aside for 20 minutes. The dates should soften, but I mashed them half way through with a fork to speed the process, because I am an impatient cook sometimes.

Rub butter into flour

Preheat the oven to 220*C/200*C fan-forced. Put the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter. It should be easy and if you give the bowl a little shake, any lumps rise to the surface and can be annihilated. Make a well in the centre.

Add milk, make dough

Pour in almost all of the milk. Leave a little just in case. Gently mix to combine. Don't work the dough too much. I found that there wasn't enough milk and there was dry flour left in the bowl. I added some more milk, a few teaspoons at a time, until the dough was a little sticky, but didn't stick to my hands too much.

Filling, roll out dough

Once the dates are softened, roll out the dough, or just press it out with your fingers, to be about 35 x 20cm.

Add filling, trim

Trim off the raggedy edges and then spread the date mixture over the scone dough, making sure to leave at least a 2cm border all around. Or vice versa. I think it needs a larger border at the joining edge.

They see me rolling

Starting at the long edge nearest you, begin to roll the scroll. The beginning should be quite tight, and then continue rolling firmly until you reach the other long edge.

Eighths

Press the edges together to join and then trim the ends. You don't want to be eating dateless date scrolls. Then cut the roll into 8 equal parts.

And bake

Carefully place them in the loaf tin, with the cute scroll side up. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the scrolls are golden and sound hollow when you tap them. Set aside to cool.

Pink icing

Check the scrolls are cool, if they are too warm, the icing disappears as it melts. Mix the icing sugar, boiling water and food colouring together to form a reasonably runny icing.  It should fall easily from a spoon so that you can swoosh it across the sticky date scrolls.  I think it is Very Important to ice East to West, rather than North to South, as evidenced above. I gritted my teeth and iced the second batch The Wrong Way. I know they will taste the same, but they look wrong.

I loaded up my spoon with icing, and tilted it over the bowl to start it off. Any blobs at the start will fall off into the bowl. Then with lightning speed move the spoon over the scrolls and swoosh from side to side.

Then pull them apart and serve with a nice cup of tea or coffee. Eat them warm or cold, with ice-cream or just as they are. They are deliciously sticky from the icing and the dates!!!

Date scrolls


Friday Food: Blondie

BlondieIt was Nigella Week on Masterchef, but I was a tad under-whelmed by her Masterclass baking. It was a pavlova with lemon curd, cream and toasted almonds. That's pretty much an everyday dessert in Australia: pavlova and cream with some fruit. I make a pretty mean lemon curd, and I can whip up a pavlova in no time at all. I do love making Nigella's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova, and it is always a hit at dessert time. Instead, I was inspired this week by the Yellow Team's Blondie. It has the bonus attributes of having no dark or milk chocolate, so I can eat it, and it is gluten free as well.

In the Fete episode all the teams had to make a fresh jam, but I just opened a bottle of my mum's jam and used that instead. I don't have any fresh raspberries as they are currently $56 per kilo and I refuse to buy frozen raspberries from overseas. I think it works well without the extra berries.

This is a very easy melt and mix recipe and, though there is a little cooling time, once it is all combined it bakes in 40 minutes. I think it is best served cold, as the white chocolate is a little cloying when it is warm, but each to her own!! The recipe says it serves 12 as a dessert, but I think as a slice it would make 24 pieces.

 

Blondie      serves 12/24

  • 200g white chocolate, chopped. I used buttons.
  • 200g butter, chopped
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200g almond meal, I used cashew meal
  • 50g chopped pecans
  • raspberry jam and cream to serve

 

Grease and line a 20 x 30cm slice tin. Preheat the oven to 160*C.

Melting

Put the chocolate and butter into a saucepan over a low heat and slowly melt together. As usual, I take it off the heat while there is still some melting to go, and then stir till it is smooth.

Add sugar and cool

Mix in the brown sugar and vanilla extract and allow to cool slightly.

Eggs and nuts

Now whisk in the eggs, and fold in the almond meal and pecans until it is all thoroughly combined.

Bake and cool

Spoon into the tray and smooth out evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes. I turned the tray half way through and it did take the entire 40 minutes. The Blondie will be golden brown and a little darker at the edges, which will have come away from the side of the tin. Cool on a rack until cold.

Blondie jam and cream

Slice and serve with jam and whipped cream as a dessert. I think it would also be nice dusted with a little icing sugar as a treat. The Blondie should keep for about a week in an airtight container.

 


Friday Food: Jelly Cake Doughnuts

A jelly doughnutI saw these doughnuts in a magazine in the supermarket queue. When I came home I downloaded the Woman's Day magazine using the Zinio for Libraries app and voila!! There's also a Wagon Wheel tart and I might make that too. On the whole, four out of five people gave these the thumbs up: I was the dissenter. I like jelly lamingtons because the jelly has soaked into the cake and it is jelly-y and moist. The jelly didn't soak into the doughnuts enough for my liking, it seemed to set in clumps on the outside. The other four people loved them and they do look so pretty.

If I make these again, and I shall, I will poke the doughnuts all over with a skewer, and let them sit in the jelly on the bench, rather than in the fridge. I think I would use two packets of jelly as well, for optimum jellying. I used raspberry jelly, but you can use any flavour you like.

They don't keep very long, and even in an airtight container I think they need to be used the next day. I was able to buy both cinnamon and sugar doughnuts and I liked the sugar ones best. The cinnamon seemed to interfere with the jelly flavour.

NB  Rather sensibly, and Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 teaspoons.

 

Jelly Cake Doughnuts    makes 12

  • 1 packet of jelly crystals  (85g)
  • 12 fresh doughnuts, cinnamon or sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 2 tbspn icing sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste

 

Make up the jelly, stirring in the cup of boiling water until the crystals are completely dissolved. Add the cup of cold water, pour into a shallow tray and refrigerate for 2 hours. It will be half set.

Jelly the doughnuts

Place the doughnuts into the jelly, turning them a few times. Place back in the fridge to chill for a further hour, turning two or three times more.

After chilling

Pour the coconut into a tray. Shake any excess jelly from the doughnuts and then roll them gently in the coconut. Don't forget the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes so the coconut sticks to the jelly properly.

Lamingtonify

Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Spoon the cream into a piping bag with a large star tip, or just a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.

Whip cream

Use a serrated knife to cut the doughnuts in half and pipe the cream in a swirly pattern.

Piping the cream

Pop the tops back on and they are ready to be eaten. And they look so cute!!

Jelly doughnuts


Friday Food: Nutella Cupcakes

A nutella cupcakeWednesday was Sewing night and I wanted something delicious to bake for my friends. Nothing appropriate caught my eye in any of this month's magazines and so I turned to Cupcake Jemma and her Nutella Cupcakes. They were perfect: perfect and easy to make. The recipe makes 12 small cupcakes, rather than large muffins and I did fill the paper cases with a spoon and not an ice-cream scoop. Still, I always think a cupcake is a cupcake, regardless of the size.

I didn't have any hazelnuts so I used some hazelnut meal I already had. Otherwise, I followed the recipe faithfully. I couldn't find the largest diameter piping tip and so I used a smaller one, which didn't give the nicest plumpest swirls. Hey ho, they tasted fine and if you don't have a piping bag and tips use a ziplock bag. That is what I always did until MrsDrWho bought me a piping present!!

NB Rather sensibly, an Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 teaspoons.

 

Nutella Cupcakes      makes 12

  • 50g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned, pulverised (or hazelnut meal)
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa (Dutch processed is very cocoa-y)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 tbspn milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

For the buttercream

  • 100g softened butter
  • 150g Nutella
  • 225g icing sugar sifted
  • 2-3 tbspn milk

Preheat the oven to 170*C and line a muffin try with cupcake papers.

Make the cupcakes

Put the ingredients for the cupcake batter, bar the milk and vanilla, into the bowl and then beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Then add as much milk and vanilla extract as needed to make the batter smooth and beat again for another minute. And honestly I don't think it a terrible catastrophe if you put everything in at once and beat for 90 seconds. I always give the bowl a few stirs with a spoon, just to make sure there is nothing sticking to the bottom of the bowl.

Fill and bake

Spoon into the 12 cupcake paper cases and then bake for 20-22 minutes. The cakes will slightly come away from the edges, spring back when lightly pressed in the centre and if you poke a toothpick into the centre it will come out clean. My cupcakes needed the full 22 minutes and I turned the tray half way through.

Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes and then place on a rack. Allow them to become completely cooled before you even think of icing them!!

Buttercream starts

To make the buttercream, whip the butter and Nutella on a high speed for 4-5 minutes. It should be a pale colour and very light and silky.

Beat,add icing sugar

Add half the icing sugar and beat well, and then add the rest of the icing sugar. My buttercream did not combine very well and so I needed to add half the milk and then a little more again until it came together nicely.

Buttercream complete

I followed Jemma's instructions and put some Nutella 'stripes' down the inside of the piping bag before I filled it with the Nutella buttercream. It works in the same way as striped toothpaste, and whether you pipe swirls, or splodges, you have lovely two-tone frosting.

And frosting

I sprinkled some nuts on top and they were finished.

Cupcakes all in rows

The cupcakes are quite moist and there is an excellent cake-to-icing ratio happening.

Inside cupcake

The Nutella Cupcakes would keep for a few days, un-iced, in an airtight container, but once the buttercream is piped on top I think they should be eaten sooner rather than later.

Nutella cupcakes


Friday Food: Rainbow Doughnut Pinatas

Hot pinata This week I have baked using the doughnut trays that came with this month's Better Homes & Gardens magazine. I made the Rainbow Cake with Surprise Filling, which is such a bland name for such colourful (and I mean colourful) cakes. I thought about people without a doughnut tray, and I think you could just use an ordinary muffin or cupcake tray and then cut the centre out to make doughnut shapes. Of course the ring-shaped cakes could be cut from a thin sponge, but the fact that there are no cut edges to ice means there are no crumbs to contend with.

I used the Wilton gel colours I bought on sale at The Spotlight. And let us all pause for a moment and realise that darker colours may, when baked, turn out even darker. Oh well, it is a rainbow cake!!! Ordinarily I would have just used the colours from the supermarket. I also think these would be nice as ombre cakes. Ombre cakes are the Bee's Knees, along with Rainbow cakes.

I weighed my batter and it was a little over 360g, so I spooned 60g into the bowls for each colour- it was about two heaped 20ml tablespoons. I will not deny that these are fiddly to make, and in a way it would be better to be making a larger batch of 12 pinata cakes. You could just use a piping, or ziplock, bag to fill a tray with 6 of the same colour. 

I would recommend making maybe half as much again of the buttercream, so 180 g of butter and 2 1/4 cups of icing sugar mixture. I also added a teaspoon or two of milk as I felt the buttercream was too thick. I read today that you have to trust your gut when you bake, and not just blindly follow the recipe!!!

Also, for an unknown reason, some of my photos are rubbish today. This is not unusual, just annoying!!

 

 

Rainbow Doughnut Pinatas     makes 4

  • cooking oil spray to grease, or wipe with some baking paper
  • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 60g (1/4 cup) melted butter
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • food colouring: yellow, orange, red, green, blue, purple
  • M&M, mini or ordinary, or Smarties or whatever you like
  • 100s and 1000s to decorate

For the buttercream

  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter, softened   (I recommend 180g)
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar mixture    (I recommend 2 1/4 cups)

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and grease the doughnut tins. I don't have oil spray, so poured a little vegetable oil into the tin and then used some kitchen towel/baking paper to grease each hole.

Dry and wet

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Mix the wet ingredients together.

Whisk

Pour the wet ingredients into a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Whisk gently until the cake batter comes together. Divide the batter evenly between 6 small bowls and mix in the colours you like, so that no pale streaks remain.

Yellow orange red

Green blue purple

Spoon the batter carefully into the doughnut tin, 2 of each of the 6 colours. I started with the lightest colour, and to save spoon washing, I then just went to the next colour and mixed the batter from the spoon into the bowl. So, from green to blue eg.

Not washing the spoon

Bake for 12 minutes.

Fill tin

I turned the trays at 6 minutes.

Bake, half baked

I tested them 5 minutes later and they bounced back so they were done. Cool in the tins for 2 minutes and then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Done and cooled

Meanwhile make the buttercream icing. Beat the softened butter for 2 minutes with an electric beater and then add all the icing sugar at once.

Butter and icing sugar

Beat on a slow speed until it is incorporated. Then beat on a high speed for 4 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Mine was not, so I added one, and then another, teaspoon of milk and beat for a further 4 minutes. It was perfect.

Buttercream

I made "hot" and "cool" coloured pinatas: yellow, orange, red and green, blue, purple. Construct the cakes on the plates you plan to use. Try not to get the buttercream on the inside of the doughnuts, for purely aesthetic reasons!! Put a little icing on the base of the first doughnut cake (red), and use this to stick it to the plate. I found that icing the doughnuts before I put them on the stack was much easier. Sandwich the three cakes together: red/orange/yellow, with buttercream icing. I used the top of the cake for the top of the stack as it was flatter than the bottom of the cake- which was rounded.

Ice stack fill

Even the sides of the stack as you look from above and fill the centre with M&Ms. I used orange and yellow for the "hot" cakes and blue and green for the "cool" cakes.

Final icing and topping

Frost the top and sides generously. Use a butter knife, or I used a new clean icy-pole stick, and even off the sides and top. Sprinkle on some 100s and 1000s. Repeat this with the rest of the "hot" doughnut cakes, and the green, blue and purple ones to. You should have four, and then you are ready for the big reveal!!!

Rainbow pinata cakes

These little cakes will not keep very well. Once they are iced they will have a slightly longer life. I watched Ann Reardon, on The YouTube, brush a simple sugar syrup onto some cakes to make them moist, and this could work here with maybe a lemon syrup???


Friday Food: No Bake TimTam Slice

SliceI bought the Better Homes and Gardens June 2016 magazine purely for the almost free doughnut tin- it was an extra 50 cents added onto the price of the magazine. I do have one somewhere,  but it was for smaller doughnuts. There is an extra doughnut recipe book, and I plan to make some of the special Doggie Treat doughnuts for The Labradors.  I have stopped buying magazines as I can access them all on my Ipad through the Zinio For Libraries App. They are always there to download and best of all: free! I take screenshots of the recipes I like.

This is all by means of a segue to Friday Food: Choc-espresso Martini slice. Arnott's have brought out more weird and wonderfully flavoured TimTams, and when I say flavoured, I do mean flavoured: there is no actual peanut butter in the Peanut Butter TimTams, no actual banana in the Choc-Banana, no Espresso Martinis in the Espresso Martini Biscuits either. There is some coffee powder and coffee bean, that's something at least.

Timtam weird flavours

You could use any flavour TimTam, or I think any biscuit of the same ilk. Maybe Mint Slice would be good?? There are 9 biscuits in a packet, so the recipe uses 18 in all- 330g. There is no baking, a little heating of chocolate and waiting about while the slice chills in the fridge. It is very easy, and apart from TimTams, the ingredients are basic pantry items. I can't taste it, but what could go wrong with TimTams and even more chocolate???

NB Rather sensibly, an Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 teaspoons

 

No Bake TimTam Slice      makes 24 pieces

  • 2 packets of Espresso Martini TimTams or 330g of a substitute
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) milk
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tspn cocoa powder
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted. I used 150g.

 

Grease and then line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

Crumb the biscuits

Using a food processor, pulse the biscuits until they are fine crumbs.

Add butter, refrigerate

Pour into a bowl, add the melted butter and mix thoroughly until all the crumbs are buttery. Press into the tin evenly. I put a piece of baking paper on top and then smooth with a small plastic container. Refrigerate for an hour, or pop in the freezer for half an hour!!

Make the filling

Meanwhile make the filling. Put the sifted icing sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the milk and oil and sift in the cocoa. Mix well so no streaks of white remain.

  Spread the filling               

Take the chilled base out of the fridge and spoon the filling over it. The recipe says to: Spread paste evenly over cooled base using your hands. Well, I found that a spoon dipped in a cup of boiling water did the job quite well thank you BH&G. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes.

Melt chocolate

Melt the chocolate in any way you like, I usually microwave mine in 30 second bursts and stir well in between. I always like the chocolate to be not quite melted and the stirring makes it smooth. It only took 1 minute. I used 150g of dark chocolate as that was what was in the bag, and I do think that is was easier to spread the greater amount over the chilled base: it cools the chocolate as you work.

Top with chocolate

Pour the chocolate over the filling and smooth, or make lines. I like lines. Refrigerate again for an hour and then cut into 24 pieces, they say long thin pieces, using a hot sharp knife. As you can see, straight from the fridge the chocolate shattered no matter how hot or sharp my knife was. It might be worth adding a little oil, coconut oil or copha to the chocolate to stop this happening.

Cracked slice

It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days.

Timtam slice


Friday Food: Sausage and Apple Traybake

S&a bakeIt was a lucky moment last week when I thought to organise an extra Friday Food, because I have been extra poorly this week, and had to go to the doctor and have antibiotics. I thought I felt a little better today, but then this afternoon I had a bit of a relapse. Gilly is with me, and Hedy is somewhere else wreaking havoc, but there is a recipe, so all's well that ends well!!

This Sausage and Apple Traybake recipe is from the May Taste magazine is a complete meal, and it is very Autumnal. It is also a very user friendly recipe with just one pan for browning and one tray for the oven. It can be frozen and then finished off at a later date in the oven as well.

I used the little pork chipolata sausages from Coles. They are delicious and have very little fat, so they don't spit at you from the pan. I bought the sourdough at my knitting friend's new shop in town: how cool is that??! I was able to buy fennel at the supermarket too, and apple cider at the bottle shop next door. My how times have changed. I especially like the way the crispy sage leaves and sourdough bread worked so well with the pork sausages and the apple. It is a perfect combination of ingredients. I do think it makes very decent serves: I made half the recipe but that still meant 8 little sausages per person. I think if you were serving four people, it would even out nicely and there might be leftovers too.

NB  An Australian tablespoon is, sensibly, 20ml.

 

Sausage and Apple Traybake          Serves 4 generously

  • 20ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1kg good quality pork sausages
  • 1 large leek, pale and white parts thinly sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 1 1/2 tbspn plain flour
  • 330ml bottle of apple cider, or unsweetened apple juice
  • 125ml chicken stock
  • 300g small sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 red apples, sliced thinly crosswise into discs
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 100g sourdough bread, coarsely torn

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced.

Tiny sausages

Heat half the oil in a heavy based fry pan on a medium-high heat. Cook the sausages, in batches, for about 5 minutes or until they are golden brown. Place into a large baking dish or tray.

Vegetables

Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the oil and then the sliced leek and fennel. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes and then add to the baking tray with the sausages.

Saucy sauce

Melt 20g of the batter in the same pan and when it is foaming, add the plain flour and cook, stirring well, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and slowly add the combined cider and stock. Add a slosh at a time, then whisk or stir vigorously and thoroughly until it is all combined. Repeat until all the liquid has been incorporated and then return to the heat and bring to the boil. I make a lot of roux type sauces and so I always chance my hand and add the liquid straight over the heat: I like to cook dangerously!!

Oven ready

Strew the apple slices and the sweet potato wedges over the baking tray and then pour over the sauce. I did this the other way around. It still worked perfectly well.

Cover with foil

Cover the tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the wedges are tender.  Just before you remove the tray from the oven, melt the remaining butter in the pan over a medium heat and fry the sage leaves for a minute until they are crisp. Remove them to drain on paper towel or I used a clean kitchen cloth. Add the sourdough bread and cook, stirring, for a minute and add to the sage leaves.

Sage and sourdough

Now, remove the tray from the over, scatter over the torn sourdough bread and pop back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so, until it is crunchy and golden. Sprinkle over the sage leaves and it is ready to serve.

The bake

The traybake can be frozen after the first 30 minutes of baking in the oven.  Up to a month later, when you are ready to dine, heat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then add the torn sourdough and bake for 15 minutes more and then add the sage.

S and a traybake


Friday Food: Caramel Choc ANZAC Slice

ANZAC sliceThis month's Better Homes & Gardens magazine has what they call an "Aussie" slice on the cover. It's your basic chocolate caramel slice, but with an ANZAC biscuit style base. It is very easy to make, and keeps for a week in an airtight container. I am not really a big fan of fiddling about with the classic ANZAC biscuit, but an ANZAC inspired slice seems perfectly fine!!! I have baked the two classic types of ANZAC biscuits before: I am in the With Coconut camp.

 I often double the caramel layer, but I made it exactly to the recipe, though to be true to my recipe disobedience, I threw a few odds and ends of chocolate into the melting pot so it is probably a thicker layer. I am definitely not in favour of drizzling caramel and chocolate topping over the slice when it is served. All I can think of is icky fingers clouding my enjoyment : if I could eat the slice. Actually, if I left off the chocolate, oh or used white chocolate, I could eat that.

BH&G slice

The ingredients are pretty standard for an Australian kitchen, and desiccated coconut could be used in place of the shredded, which I bought especially. It looks as if there are so many steps to this recipe, but it's actually not that bad, so don't be daunted!! I think the most difficult thing is waiting for the slice to set for six hours, or overnight. I cheated and put it in the freezer so I could cut a piece to photograph.

 

Caramel Choc ANZAC Slice     makes 24 pieces

For the base

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 75g butter, cubed
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) golden syrup
  • 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) boiling water

For the caramel filling

  • 50g butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 395g can of sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate topping

  • 200g chocolate melt buttons, melted

 

Grease and line with baking paper the base and sides of a 20 x 30 cm tin. Preheat the oven to 160*C.

Dry ingredients

To make the base, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and coconut in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly so there are no lumps or clumps. Make a well in the centre.

Melting for the base

Put the butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until it is melted. Bring to the simmer. While you are waiting, put the bicarb soda in a small container and boil the kettle. When the butter and golden syrup is simmering, remove it from the heat.

Adding the bicarb

Combine the bicarb soda and boiling water and pour it in. It will foam up. It shouldn't foam too high. I stirred it a little to make sure it was well mixed.

Add wet to dry

Pour this into the well of the dry ingredients and stir until it is a damp and crumbly mixture. Tip into the lined tin and then press down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20 minutes, it should be light golden. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. It will be going back in the oven anon.

Bake the base

Use this 5 minutes to make the caramel layer. Put the butter and golden syrup back into the same saucepan, and over a high heat, stir until the butter is melted. Bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute.

Caramel melting

Reduce the heat to medium and pour in the condensed milk. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring vigorously, and it should still be simmering. The caramel will darken and thicken. Make sure to stir with a pattern that covers as much of the base of the saucepan as you can, so the caramel doesn't have the opportunity to stick.

Caramel condensed milk

Spread the caramel over the base and put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The recipe says 10, I felt mine needed 15. Now the oven can be turned off, and set the slice aside to cool for 30 minutes, or until the surface of the caramel is hardened and not sticky to the touch.

Caramel layer baked

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between. Mine needed 2 minutes in all, and I always take it out just before it is fully melted and stir until it is smooth.

Chocolate melted

Pour the chocolate over the caramel and then tilt the pan to cover the caramel completely.

Add the chocolate topping

Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Cut into pieces, a hot sharp knife is handy, and keep and left overs (Ha!!) in an airtight container, in the fridge if it is warm where you live.

Anzac choc caramel slice


Friday Food: Upright Pasta Pie

Rigatoni pasta pieI am not exactly sure of the correct name, but I have seen these pasta pies everywhere in Internet Cooking-land. I guess it is a kind of lasagne or pastisto, but with little columns of pasta to fill, rather than sheets of pasta to layer.

There were so many recipes I was overwhelmed so I just kind of made it up as I went along. I expect everyone has their go-to pasta sauce, and that's the one I used. I make my bolognaise sauce with garlic, onion and a little chilli. Of course it can be with, or without, meat.

You need a pasta sauce of some kind, made with about 500g of mince and passata or tomato pasta sauce, some large rigatoni pasta, various cheeses and some eggs. It is a bit of a novelty and looks rather spiffing when you serve it up.

I admit, there is some patience involved, when you stand every piece of pasta upright in the springform tin, but it is worth the effort. The pasta is boiled until it is 2 or 3 minutes away from being ready,  so it is easy to handle and stand up straight. You don't want it wobbly!! Instead of piping or pushing the filling into the pasta, I found if I spread it on top and then tapped the tin on the bench, the filling sank into the pasta. It was easy to see the individual pasta tubes that needed more sauce and I just spooned some on top, and tapped the springform tin on the bench again, until all of the sauce was used up.

It tastes good piping hot, warm, or cold. It reheats well in the microwave and wraps up well to transport. All you need is a simple salad and some crusty bread and you have a great lunch. Or, if you are me, you have it squooshed on toast for breakfast!!

 

Pasta Pie     serves 4-8

  • one quantity of pasta sauce, using 500g mince and 500-750 passata
  • 500g rigatoni pasta mine was about 4cm long and 1 cm in diameter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

 

Heat the oven to 180*c and line a springform tin with baking paper on the base and sides. I greased it a little to help the paper stick. I also turn the base upside down. It is a little trickier to close the tin around the base, but it gives a level surface instead of one with a lip.

You need this to start

Mix the ricotta cheese with the eggs. I found I needed 2 1/2 eggs, but the mixture needs to be soft enough to fill the pasta.

Ricotta and eggs

Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes less than the time recommended and drain well. In a large bowl, mix the pasta and the grated Parmesan cheese. Then starting at the outside, stand each piece of pasta upright in ever decreasing concentric circles. The Parmesan cheese helps the pasta stick together. Spread the ricotta mixture over the pasta and then tap the tin, and continue to do this until all the ricotta mixture is used up.

Upright pasta and ricotta

Then do the same with the pasta sauce, and then top the pasta pie with the grated cheddar cheese.

Pasta sauce and cheese

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pie is hot all the way through and the cheese on top is golden and melted.

And it is done

Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then remove the springform sides,

The pasta pie
and cut wedges and serve.

Slice of pasta pie