August 29, 2012
Littlej is an enthusiastic student
Actually, on her report card her science teacher used the word Boisterous- but in a good way, she did get an 'A'
One of those kiddies who love going to school, love their subjects, and love their teachers. She also loves extra-curriculars and throws herself into them entirely without thinking of the consequences when they all coincide.
This is one of those weeks
Three days this week are off classes- One at a Peer Review training day on Sustainability, One as a full day practice for an Academic tournament (they won silver last year for all Australasia), One at a Junior United Nations (training for International Crisis Management- will it stop her arguing with her sister though?)
One evening at her self defence class (in case International Peace Keeping Talks break down perhaps)
One evening at a further rehearsal for the Tournament
All day on the Weekend at the Tournament
Plus 2 assignments due, including a hand crafted example of Medieval history- in this case making a portion of chain mail armour... link by link by link by link by link.......
littlej is confident she can handle it all in her stride
Mum is yet to be convinced
Anyway, my Mission Impossible this week is to keep her healthy, happy and well fed- not as easy as usual with so much running around and odd appointments. The answer to this dilemma was obvious: Impossible Pie
A couple of minutes to make, thrown together in one bowl with the crust forming Impossibly while it bakes. Tasty hot or cold, lunch or dinner- even breakfast (well it is eggs and bacon right) Imagine the possibilities!
1/3 cup Gluten free Flour
1 1/2 cup lactose free Milk
1 1/2 cup Cheese/Cheesy style substitute like soy cheese (Mini Chol available at Coles is good)
1 cup Bacon pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste
(Various Extras to taste)
One of the great things about this pie/quiche is that you can mix and match the filling to what you have on hand
I've included spinach and spring onion, but you could use a tin of salmon, grated carrot or zucchini, shredded cooked chicken or whatever happens to take your fancy at the time
Pop the flour, eggs, milk and seasonings into a bowl and give them a quick whisk until nice and smooth with no lumpy bits
Just like this one
Add in the bacon, cheese and Various Extras, then stir through
Pour into a well greased oven proof dish, just making sure the filling ingredients are well distributed so share-sies are fair-sies
Bake at 200*C for 40 mins, then check to see if the pie is nice and set without too much wobble, but give another 5 minutes if needed
Can anyone spot my deliberate mistake? I purposely left mine in for that extra 5 minutes to show you what-not-to-do. I'm nice like that :)
......Mine obviously didn't need that extra 5minutes... or the previous 5 minutes either
I blame my new Microwave/Oven/Grill thingy for the burnished top as I'm still getting used to it and am finding out I need to drop the temperature just a bit as compared to my beautiful big oven.
My microwave recently gave up on me, and I decided that Convection combi was the way to go. There's nothing wrong with my other oven but I thought the little one would be handy if I just wanted to cook a small dish. It is- but I'm still figuring it out :)
BTW the top wasn't burnt, it's just the spinach bits that look really dark- but I caught it just in time!
Let's just ignore the top for the moment shall we, and concentrate on looking at how the flour sort of sifted down to the bottom of the pie to create a firm base. Obviously not flaky and crispy, but perfect for holding it's form and offering stability to the pie
Despite the extra time in the oven, the pie is lovely and creamy inside and was a big hit with littlej stuffing it down at 4pm for an early dinner to hold her off until she was back at 8.30pm for more. It was also handy for holding cold wedges one handed while grabbing her bags and running out the door, and nice to eat warmed up with the new oven on microwave mode for lunch
Mission Complete. Impossible?.... Not with this recipe!
Pie flipped over for photos to show you how the base looks (not to hide the burnt bits, I promise :P )
So Dear Readers, have you ever had an Impossible Week, and have you had trouble adjusting to a new appliance before?
August 24, 2012
This isn't a recipe really
it's me bragging about my lunch last Friday
Today is just another Winters day in Canberra, except it's snowing!
Not a terribly common occurrence here. Sure we get dustings of snow on the mountains, but not usually here in the suburbs.
And today's snow is not sleet, not gritty little almost tiny hail like stuff, but big fluttery fat flakes. It almost looks 'real'!
Snowy days are such a treat that I decided I would celebrate with a Wintry treat of my own. I've had my little stash of truffle goodies hiding away for a while now and what a great reason to go-for-broke in the Winter Indulgence stakes.
I wish you could smell this!
A while ago I made a Truffle compound butter
I used a good quality butter and folded through some finely chopped gorgeous fresh truffle that I got at the local farmers market. I softened the butter, mixed through the truffle, formed it into a log, wrapped it very firmly in wax paper then plastic wrap then froze it. How handy in case of truffle cravings! This is lovely smeared under the skin of a chicken before baking,dotted on a perfectly poached egg, spread on some toasted bread, or with a dollop melting over a lovely medium rare steak- yummo
I also had some yummy truffle oil, and some Truffle Salami that I found at Aldi of all places!
Now to build the ultimate Winter Sandwich!
I started with a Scharr brand focaccia
Spread with some fabulous truffle butter
Generous amounts of truffled salami
Topped with a delicious French style goat cheese
Popped into a warm oven for about a minute- just until the fridge chill is off the ingredients
Freshen it all up with some nice peppery rocket and earthy beet leaves, drizzled with decadent truffle oil and a touch of white balsamic to cut through the extra richness of it all
Top with the rest of the roll, serve with a side salad drizzled with more truffle oil and white balsamic
AND DIG RIGHT IN!
I curled up on the couch with a furry rug, a purring kitty, a good book, and watched the snowflakes fly. All I needed was an open fire and it would have been perfect indeed
Now for the extra extra special bit:
Would you like to see the perfect end to my pretty perfect lunch.....
that's right... A Gold Dusted Truffle Macaron!
So Dear Readers, do you think that was a lunch worth bragging about, and do you enjoy truffles?
August 20, 2012
In the hope of encouraging an early Spring, I'm sticking with my botanical theme today and creating light-as-air Angel Food Cakes flavoured with Jasmine.
The air outside my window is full of the scent of Daphne at the moment, and in a few weeks it will be heavy with the smell of blossoms competing with fresh cut lawn on the weekends. It will be a couple of months until my jasmine blooms, but if I close my eyes and eat one of these little cakes, I can imagine myself away from frost and freak snow showers and basking in the sunlight of Spring.
I collect weird and wonderful flavour bases, I've recently acquired this lovely Monin syrup in some great flavours like violet, jasmine and cucumber, and I found this great concentrate at an Indian Supermarket. Perfect for my baking needs
Angel Food Cake isn't one I've ever actually tried to make before, or one I've actually ever eaten before, but the name is so lovely and the idea of a fat free-gluten free-dairy free cake was just too hard to pass up, I would really be doing us all a favour by taste testing this recipe- wouldn't I? I thought so, so I will!
I did learn some lessons along the way that will make my next attempt at heavenly snacking a bit easier: don't use fancy-pantsy cake tins just because they look cute, it's the same with shoes- sometimes function over form actually is important; don't forget the flavouring ingredient until after you have mixed the cakes- it's not as easy to re mix without losing air bubbliness as you might think; don't infuse stain inducing berries on your favourite blouse just because you think it would make a pretty backdrop for your photo and you don't have anything else those colours to use.
Words of wisdom People
The recipe for today actually comes from a ratio
I got this recipe from Michael Ruhlman's aptly named cookbook- Ratio. 'The simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking'
It breaks down a variety of recipes into their simplest form, a ratio that works every time if you just follow a few simple rules. It's so handy, and much easier to remember than a full recipe when you're in a hurry and don't have time to muck about finding a full recipe.
Angel Food Cake= 3 parts egg white: 3 parts sugar: 1 part flour (in this case, gluten free of course)
The only other ingredients needed are a dash of flavouring essence, a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice to help stabilise the whites when beating. Easy Peasy
Instead of whole eggs today I used just egg whites, available at Woolies etc. in the refrigerated section. Much handier for these type of recipes that don't need the yolks
Divide the sugar in half, then mix one half into the flour and mix together
Now the tricky bit.... beat the egg whites on medium then add the salt, lemon juice and flavour essence. Once the mixture is opaque, start to drizzle in the half measure of sugar
According to Ruhlman, 'the egg white and sugar mixture should not be whipped feverishly; it should be whipped on medium to medium-high in order to prevent over mixing. If it's whipped to hard and becomes to stiff, it won't rise properly. There's a point in the mixing when it's white and fluffy but still pourable, and then a few moments later it's just stiff enough that it won't quite pour but neither is it so stiff that it holds a stiff peak'
Got all that?
Sift the rest of the sugar and the flour over the egg whites, then gently fold it in
Pour into your un-greased pan. The traditional pan is a tall straight sided tin with a central core that leaves a hole in the middle of the cake. The centre tube means the batter can raise from the middle as well as the sides and allows a larger surrounding edge for the cake to stick to as it rises.
As I didn't have a proper Angel Food cake tin, and wanted individual sized ones anyway, I used some pretty little heart shapes that were just to intricate with all the ridges on the sides. Next time I'll use my straight sided individual push-up tins with a removable base, or even cupcake pans, they should work much better
I baked these little lovelies for 20 minutes at 180*, or until a skewer comes out nice and clean when stuck in the middle of one of the cakies
After baking, the cake pan should be inverted while cooling to prevent the cake from falling in on itself, then left until completely cooled down so the sugar-protein network can completely set. The purpose built cake tins have little feet on the rims so that the cooked cake actually hangs from the base of the pan as it cools.
One of the little lovelies. Just stuck a little at the sides, but I promise you it will still taste good!
Angel Food Cakes are usually served with syrup and fruit, like berries or a coulis. I really tried to to come up with a fruit that I thought would compliment the jasmine flavour.... pear? nectarine? blackberry! I don't find blackberries as assertive as raspberries or even strawberries, but love their sweet earthiness and thought they would match up well.
So pretty and ready to fill:
I macerated some frozen blackberries in the jasmine syrup while the cakes cooled, then filled up the centre of the hearts with the fruits while letting the juices dribble down and soak into the cakes- Yummo!
Such a nice cake indeed! A real cross between a meringue and sponge cake- so light and airy, not too sweet at all.
How can you resist this? Gluten free, dairy free, fat free.... Guilt free!!!
So Dear Readers, what is your favourite type of cake, and do you have any good tips for removing blackberry stains?
August 13, 2012
I am a tea lover
MiddleC is very well trained and puts the kettle on as soon as she stumbles into the kitchen in the morning so it's ready for when I stumble into the kitchen in the morning. I don't feel ready to start the day until I've had at least one cup of my favourite Dilmah Earl Grey...... or maybe two.
I have a fancy-pantsy De Longhi coffee machine that does everything a coffee machine should do and more, but it sits there on the bench while I dunk my little baggie into my mug of hot water and wait for the magic to happen.
I needed to make a cake for afternoon tea, for when littlej stumbles into the kitchen after a hard day at school. This one has dried fruit, fresh fruit, and Tea. Just what you need mid-afternoon to keep you going until dinner, with a bit of an extra kick from the tea.
Afternoon Tea Tea Cake
2/3 cup dried Dates
2/3 cup Sultanas
1 1/2 cup SR gluten free Flour
150g Butter or dairy free alternative
3/4 cup strong Tea
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Bicarb Soda
First things first, boil the kettle and brew a good, strong cup of tea. I used Dilmah Earl Grey, my absoloute favourite tea in the world. So fragrant and refreshing, perfect for a pick-me-up any time of the day or evening
Put the dates, sultanas, hot tea and bicarb in a bowl and let steep for about 10 minutes. This will soften the fruit and help break down the fibres
Blitz in a food processor/blender/ or even easier use a stick blender to whizz it all up until nice and smooth
Add in the eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar and beat well
Grate the apples- I don't bother to peel them,
then add in to the mix with the flour and mix through until thouroughly combined
Pop into a greased loaf pan and bake at 160*C for about 50 minutes until nicley browned and cooked through all the way
I burnt mine juuuust a little, but nothing that a quick trim and flipping the cake over can't fix. My excuse is that I was trying out my new Convection/Grill/Microwave Oven and it was the first time I baked anything in it. I think I've figured it out now, and next time will know to pop it on the rack to allow for even cooking instead of opening the door all the time to fiddle with it :)
Serve your cake with, of course, another lovely cuppa for a lovely afternoon tea snack. A smear of butter is yummy, but not strictly necessary- I'll leave that to you and your wasteline to decide. I think I'll sit in the sun and read a good book while I nibble and sip my steamy cup of Earl Grey, then I'll be ready to take on the rest of the day.
So Dear Readers, are you a tea or coffee fan, and which blend is your favourite?