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Sunday I’ve Got Friday Food On My Mind

An excellent chocolate biscuitsYesterday I baked 75 biscuits. The biscuits I baked are from the Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration cook book. I make these biscuits every year now for MrsDrWho and her sister. Everything else I baked had to fit into a slice tin, but these are extra special. They are very easy to make and take only 12-14 minutes to bake. I used pistachios because I thought I bought pecans, and I totally failed to add the raisins/sultanas. They taste fine, I was assured. I used my new tiny ice-cream scoop, 20ml, to make the biscuits the same size. I dipped it into very hot water every few scoops.

The biscuits are fudgy, and I used 70% cocoa chocolate and three kinds of choc chips. I also used all of the packet because otherwise it is a waste.

And that’s about it, I was determined to finish the year with a Friday Food. I blogged this recipe way back in 2005, but it deserves a new outing.

 

Excellent Chocolate Biscuits    makes about 70

  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 375g brown sugar, I used dark because it was what I had
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 375g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa, I used Dutch processed
  • 150g nuts, chopped
  • 100g milk choc chips
  • 100g white choc chips
  • 100g raisins or sultanas

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced. Line trays with baking paper ready for the biscuits. You'll also need a cooling rack if you have one.

Melting

Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute on High, then stir, and repeat for 30 seconds, and 30 seconds more.

Eggs

Whisk the eggs and vanilla together.

Sugar eggs dry

Stir the brown sugar into the chocolate and butter mixture, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk the plain flour and cocoa together, then add to the chocolate batter.

Choc chips  nuts  raisins

Finally add the nuts, choc chips and raisins/sultanas. I forgot the raisins. Combine very well, so there is no flour left loose at the bottom. I had to swap bowls, it is a big mixture.

I used a 20ml ice-cream scoop to make the biscuits. I didn't cool the dough in the fridge, but I did heat the scoop after 2 or 3 biscuits so as not to make it work too hard.

Bake

I did a test tray, and found that the biscuits hardly spread at all, so I fitted 15 on my trays. I baked them for 14 minutes, swapping and turning the trays half way through.

Cool on the tray and then a rack. These keep for about a week in an airtight container. They seem very extravagant and special for Christmas, but they are easy enough to make for everyday eating.

Excellent chocolate biscuits

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr: that's Hedy on the left and Gilly on the right!!!

IMG_30311


Friday Food: Frosted Gingerbread Slab

Frosted gingerbread slabThis year is my year of Christmas-ing smarter: so I sought out recipes that could all be baked in a 20 x 30cm slice tin. Here is the first, and it was very popular at the Leukaemia Support Group Christmas BBQ. It is so pretty with the teeny tiny gingerbread men and Christmas coloured sprinkles.

What I especially love, is that this is a melt and mix recipe, and the frosting too. It can be made in the saucepan, but you do need a fresh bowl for the frosting. I will not lie, there is a 10 minute wait while the hot melted mixture cools, but I used that time to pre-heat the oven!!!

The dark brown sugar and treacle make this extra special, and I did think I might even add a little freshly grated ginger next time. I have made 5 slabs already and don't know why I haven't thought of it before now.

The frosting is just beaten with a fork or spoon, smoothed on, and decorated. I used some red and green M'n'Ms on one version.

This recipe is from the December 2017 Super Food Ideas magazine. And the very best thing about this gingerbread slab?? It has no chocolate and so I can taste it, and it is gingery and dark and delicious!!

 

Frosted Gingerbread Slab     makes 24 (they say 35) pieces

  • 125g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup treacle
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) ground ginger
  • 1 tspn ground allspice

 

Frosting:

  • 4 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 40ml milk
  • 40 ml lemon juice
  • sprinkles, various, for decorating

 

Melt and bicarb

Choose a large saucepan and add the treacle, butter and dark brown sugar.  Cook over a low-medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and melted. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Stir in the bicarb soda and then set aside to cool for 10 minutes. The mixture will froth up and turn a lighter colour. This is where I greased and lined a 20 x 30cm slice tin and pre-heated the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced.

Egg and dry ingredients

Add the egg and whisk to combine. Sift together the flour and spices.

Add dry and mix

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until well combined.

Bake and cool

Pour evenly into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. I have found 25 minutes to be the time I needed, and I turned the slice tin half way through as well. Cool completely in the tin and then remove to a cake rack.

Icing

Make the frosting by putting the butter, icing sugar mixture, lemon juice and milk into a bowl. I cheated and microwaved it all for 15 seconds. It makes it easier to combine. Whisk with a fork, or beat with a spoon, for 1 minute.

Iced

When the icing is lovely and smooth, spread over the cold gingerbread slab and then decorate as desired. I would consider using 3/4 of the icing, I think it is too much frosting when I use it all. The recipe says the icing will take about 20 minutes to firm up, so make sure you add your sprinkles before that happens. There is no information about how long this will keep, but un-frosted it should last for at least a week in an airtight container. Merry Christmas.

The frosted gingerbread slab


A Week Is A Long Time In Christmas-tics

I have made it through the week. The mind is intact though the body is weak and totally worn out. The days have been packed with activity, one, two or sometimes even three things, for seven days: in spite of all my planning, it just happened.

Also, there is a smudge on my camera lens, I breathed on it just now and gently cleaned it with some soft fabric. This is probably the wrong thing to do, but the smudge went away. I can feel the lens is scratched. I may need a new camera.....

I have had so many Christmas occasions and appointments and my mum came to visit for three days for her birthday: we did so many things and had a wonderful time. I baked lots of things for my mum and sewed her nothing. I did take up her new trousers. We ate curry and toasted sandwiches and a delicious meal at a posh restaurant where I even had a tiny dessert. It was a passionfruit meringue sundae, served in a tiny glass with shortbread crumbs then passionfruit curd, passionfruit ice-cream and a caramelised meringue shard. It was so delicious but I felt far too full!! Mum had the frozen lemon parfait with caramelised mandarin and a scoop of lemon curd icre-cream.

The Labradors have felt neglected. They went for a walk with mum and Hedy is in love with her. She wiggled and waggled and carried on a treat. They both ran very fast as they were so excited. It is good to see Lorelai Gilmore running and being well.

Gilly and Hedy running fast

Gilly is far more sensible. You can tell she is more sensible because she is poking out her tongue!!! We had a lot of rain after the heatwave broke and Gilly and Hedy took every advantage and were totally wet all the time.

Hello we are very wet

Though they may have felt neglected, they were not and there were games and paddle pool adventures at ten o'clock at night.

I have been sewing for my friends. I sewed some Project Bags by By Annie for our Sewing group. I made the third biggest size, there are four, and they measured 35cm square. The back is quilted and the front has vinyl and a zip. I made them to easily hold layer cakes and our Moda Cake Mix papers.

By annie project bags

I made two needle rolls for our Knitting Friend who is going to live overseas. One is for Double Point needles and the other for interchangeable tips, and I left a space for some cables.

Dpn needle roll

Interchangeble needle roll

I sewed Christmas shopping bags for my friends. I didn't go to our 2017 Christmas because my mum was here, so I sent them all off to good homes!!

Christmas 2017 bags1

Christmas bags 2

And finally I sewed some zippy chip/popcorn bags as well. These are always popular and they are well used. The children wear them out so I am happy to make them a new one every year.

Zippy chip bags

Consequently there was no Friday Food, but I made a gingerbread traybake for Leukaemia Christmas BBQ. It was so easy, and though I didn't taste it, I had so many requests for the recipe I sent it off to our nurses for them to email to the group. I can highly recommend it and I will post the recipe this Friday. I did have tiny gingerbread decorations but I could not for the life of me find them so I used festive M'n'Ms. I forgot to take a picture of the bags I sewed for our fabulous nurses, they look after us all so well.

Gingerbread traybake

MrsDrWho has bought an aviary,

Aviary

and furnished it with love in anticipation of finches. The finches are being re-homed and they arrived this week. I am looking forward to seeing them.

Birdies are here

And finally, I managed to take a reasonable photo of The Labradors for our Christmas card. Someone had their eye closed, or was looking away, or would not sit close enough to the other dog!!! This is not the photo, but it is pretty good. I was holding a seaweed rice cracker to entice Hedy Lamarr to look my way. Lorelai Gilmore is a super model, she needs no encouragement.

I am holding a biscuit  Gilly and Hedy want it

If you have read this far, well done and would you like a Christmas card from The Labradors?? There is an Email Me button at the bottom of the side bar, or you can leave a comment and we will email and ask for your address. We sent cards last year and it was lots of fun. We can't promise they will be there before Christmas, but that's par for the course in our lives.

This week I am going to try and sew a dress to wear to the Star Wars The Last Jedi at a quarter past midnight on Thursday morning. Wish me luck. I have my back up Star Wars dress, so we shall see. After our walk tomorrow we plan to sleep ALL DAY.

And finally, The Parliament said Yes, and same sex marriage is now law. People can be married from January 9th I think. I do think it rather rich that some politicians smugly congratulated themselves on the passing of the Bill. I say that we did their job for them and they could have saved the $122,000,000 and done their jobs. We did it for them and they should not steal the credit. Happy New Marriage Year!!!


Friday Food: Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath

Rasp swirl pav wreathI am very pleased with the way this pavlova wreath turned out. It looks so festive and marvellous to the eye, and according to my sewing friends: it tastes delicious. Seconds were had!!! This is Donna Hay's Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath.

 

 

 

 

I love baking pavlovas and I am lucky enough that they seem to like me too: I can whip one up with no trouble at all. I have some helpful hints:

  • always make sure the eggs are at room temperature
  • separate the eggs separately, that way if any yolk creeps through, it only affects one egg-white
  • wipe the bowl and beaters with some vinegar to make sure they have no oil on them
  • add the caster sugar slowly, spoon by spoon
  • whisk the pavlova until it is glossy (not gloss!!), and when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers it is silky smooth- no gritty sugar
  • I use malt, white or even apple cider vinegar, it doesn't seem to matter
  • try to be prepared and make the pavlova the day before, or early in the morning of the day. That way it can cool slowly in the oven

I usually use 50g of caster sugar for each egg-white, Donna Hay weighs and measures far more specifically. I just went with eggs that were 700g per dozen and used 6 egg-whites and 300g of caster sugar.

I tried to push the raspberry mixture through the sieve, and it was not fine enough so lots of the seeds went through. I gently smoothed it through again with a silicone spatula and it was better, but not perfect. I always add vanilla extract to a cooled mixture, as I believe that it is wrong to cook the extract. I don't know why!! Ah, I searched and if you boil the extract, which has alcohol in it, it burns off most of the flavour.

I used freeze-dried strawberries because they were easier to find than freeze-dried raspberries. Nobody cared.

If I was going to bake this for Christmas, and wanted to get ahead, I don't recommend using the raspberry swirl. The pavlova won't keep well. I would recommend just making the pavlova wreath and then swirling the raspberry swirl on the whipped cream topping.

I traced a circle with a permanent marker on the back of the baking paper and then folded it into quarters and then it was easy to make thirds: and ergo, twelfths. I extended the lines so I could make my wreath sections as easily as possible. I didn't have a square enough tray, so I made five extra little pavlova sections separately.

You should definitely make this: wreaths are trending this year for Christmas, and there will be a dessert wreath to suit everyone!!!

 

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

 

Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath    serves 6-8

 

For the raspberry swirl:

  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbspn (8 teaspoons) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

For the pavlova:

  • 225ml egg-white (about 6) at room temperature
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn white vinegar ( I used malt)
  • 2 tspn cornflour

To decorate:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 250g fresh rapsberries (I used some my friend froze from her garden last year)
  • 2 tbspn pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 tbspn freeze-dried raspberries, crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 150*C.

Raspberries and sugar

Make the raspberry swirl by stirring the raspberries and caster sugar, in a pan,  over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes. It will slightly reduce and thicken.

Raspberry swirl

Smooth through a sieve, add the vanilla extract and refrigerate. It needs to be cold before being spooned over the unbaked pavlova.

Egg white and sugar

Beat the egg-whites until stiff peaks form and then add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time every 30 seconds. It took about 10 minutes, I got bored at the end. Then beat for a further 6 minutes or until you feel no grit when you rub a little of the mixture between your forefinger and thumb. It will be very glossy and white.

Vinegar and cornflour

Mix the vinegar and cornflour together and pour over the pavlova mixture, whisk for another 2 minutes.

Make the wreath

Prepare the wreath shape on the baking paper, always on the underside, and then spoon the pavlova into each section, making a wreath shape.

Swirl and bake

Carefully pour a little of the raspberry swirl on top of each wreath portion. I used a 1/4 tspn spoon. Then swirl with the end of a teaspoon. Turn the oven DOWN to 100*C and bake the pavlova wreath for 60 minutes. Then turn the oven off, and leave the wreath inside until it is perfectly cold. I left mine overnight.

Just before serving, spoon a little whipped cream over each section and top with the fresh raspberries. Then sprinkle on the freeeze-dried raspberries and the chopped pistachios. And then it is a special Christmas treat for your mouth!!

Rasp swirl pavlova wreath

An plain pavlova wreath, baked without a raspberry swirl, will keep for at least a week in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard.