Posts Tagged ‘Treats’

Mums Apple Pie.jpgSince my unexpected arrival back in Australia 2 weeks ago, I have been bunkering down at my parents’ house.  It has always been a place that I feel at home, get taken care of and can take some time to get my head on straight. I was fortunate to have one of my Apples.jpgclosest friends K and her baby and husband come up the first weekend for Sunday lunch. This was a wonderful distraction and enjoyable afternoon, a great way to get my mind of my own troubles.

I managed to help Mum whip up some food, making a mushroom risotto and some fresh bread. However in my less than stellar state I let Ingredients.jpgMum cook dessert. Mum’s apple pie (that is actually her sister’s husband’s grandmother’s recipe… yes it is one of those recipes) is sweet, delicious and not like the apple pies you get in the US. It has a sweet shortcrust pastry rather than the more savoury kind you get in the US.Pastry.jpg

Firstly put on the apples to stew… Just peel and slice up some granny smith apples and add them to a pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

For the pastry, beat 125 grams of butter and ¾ cup of sugar together until creamy. Add in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla Rolling.jpgand a pinch of salt. Then gradually mix in 2 cups of self-raising flour, ½ cup of plain flour and ½ cup of cornflour. Mix this until everything is combined.

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The rest is simply rolling out the dough for the base and the top. Filling the pie with thecooled apples and then baking.

It bakes in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The great thing is that because the apples are cooked you’re Pie.jpgjust cooking the pastry until it is crispy.

This is now my new go to sweet choice for when I am down… not chocolate or icecream… Mum’s apple pie. Served with a dollop of icecream or fresh cream, it is just the perfect way to end a Sunday lunch or any lunch or dinner or breakfast… my new comfort food. Thankfully though it isn’t hard to make it is just time consuming enough for me not to make it too often… otherwise I could be in big trouble! Delicious, sweet and crispy… give it a try, it is guaranteed to help warm your heart!

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Passionfruit Choc Brownies.jpgOver the weekend we ran out of sweets. We have been trying to cut back on sweets, which means I have curbed my baking a little but we still like to have one small thing after dinner each night as a treat. So on Saturday when we discovered all our treats had been eaten, I know I had to bake.

I gave J. a few things to choose from and he settled on Passionfruit Choc Brownies. Like every normal person we love chocolate and we are both crazy about passionfruit, even though you can’t get fresh ones here in Arizona.

(I am trying to grow my own vine though…)

Luckily I still have some of the passionfruit nectar in a tin left from our last supply run to Australia!

I must apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos… but it is so easy, the photos aren’t really necessary.

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First up, I preheated the oven to 180C (356F) and greased my square baking tin. I roughly broke up125 grams of 70% dark chocolate and chopped up 125 grams of unsalted butter, putting them into a heatproof bowl. Over a saucepan of simmering water, I melted the butter and chocolate until combined.

Once completely melted I took it off the heat and added 150 grams of light brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is incorporated. To this mixture I added 2 medium eggs and 1 additional egg yolk… (2 whites, 3 yolks). I mixed all of this together before sifting in 40 grams of self-raising flour, 40 grams of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. It is best to use a really high quality cocoa powder for this so you get the best flavor in the brownie.

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When this was all combined I added 4 tablespoons of passionfruit nectar (including seeds) and mixed that in. I poured the mixture into the

tin and placed it on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.

They smelt delicious when they came out of the oven but we were good and went to the gym, had dinner and then ate a brownie. I cut them up and J and I ate one with a glass of milk.The best way to tell that the brownies are done is to insert a skewer and it comes out with some dense crumbs left on the skewer but no gloopy, wet mixture.

The brownies have a great chocolate flavor with just a hint of the passionfruit. I would probably add more passionfruit nectar next time. However, they are yummy and delicious and not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the dark chocolate.

This was the first time I have made them and I will be definitely making them again… J. really enjoys them too – a nice sweet treat after dinner!

We’re back!

We haven’t really been anywhere but it seems as though life got in the way of the blogging for the last few months… However just because we were too busy to blog doesn’t mean we were too busy to eat.

We have been eating as hard as always. The last few months have been a combination of travelling, delicious tastes, addictive drink and great cooking home!

So stay tuned for some tales, recipes, photos and FOOD!

We’re happy to be back…

Shortbread cookies.jpgWe leave for Australia in a week and I wanted to make sure I gave our friends each something special for Christmas before we left. I thought this year since I had the time I would make them all gifts. I spent the weekend baking and cooking for our friends and for us. All of this so I could make little gourmet gift boxes for everyone. J. actually woke up Sunday morning, walked into the kitchen and couldn’t believe the disaster area I had going. I was making 3 different recipes at the same time so it got a little crazy!

First up, I wanted to make something very Christmassy so I decided on shortbread Christmas trees as one of the goodies. IButter.jpg really like shortbread, the melt in your mouth quality of a good piece of shortbread is unbelievable. I only make it at this time of year because it is so incredibly bad for you!

To start I beat 500 grams of softened, unsalted butter in a large bowl. Keep beating this until it is light and fluffy. To the butter I added 1 cup of sifted confectioners sugar. The trick here it to beat all of the sugar and butter together without getting covered in a fine dust of sugar… I did not succeed.

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When the butter and sugar has been combined I sifted 2 cups of rice flour and 1 ¾ cups of plain flour into the bowl. If you want to go gluten free you can certainly just use rice flour but they are very delicate. I went with the recipe Mum had given me. When the flour was all sifted I began folding it into the butter and sugar mixture. This can take quite a bit of time and work. Don’t worry if it seems like it won’t come together, it does eventually.

When it had started forming a ball I got in there with my hands and kneaded it all Dough.jpgtogether for a few minutes until it was nice and smooth. Traditionally you would press the dough out into the pan you were going to cook it in. However I wanted to make shaped cookies so I turned the dough out on to a floured surface and rolled it out until it was about 1cm thick.

Make sure you use lots of extra flour for rolling and cutting because this is a sticky dough. I then just proceeded to use my cookie cutter to cut out the trees. Placing each cooking onto the greased cookie tray. You can put them reasonably close together because they don’t rise Cookie Cutter.jpgor spread too much. Before putting the cookies in the oven I pricked them all a few times with a fork, I actually made them look like lights on the trees instead of just random holes.

Then they went into a 285F degree oven for 35 minutes. Keep an eye on them though because they can brown quickly. Once cooked I removed them from the tray and let them cool. This recipe made 50 large Christmas tree cookies so it goes a long way.

J. and I had a couple and loved them. They aren’t too sweet which I like and the texture is Ready for the oven.jpgamazing. J’s workmates also really enjoyed them when he took them into the office on Monday. They are really easy to make and relatively quick, and so yummy and delicious.

I put a few of these in each of the boxes and gift bags I was making, with a few left for us to share. I think they look great! As for the chocolate balls in the photo that you see, well that is Friday’s recipe! I did have fun playing Santa this week though.

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I was trying to think of a sweet treat for J. that I hadn’t made before. Friday while he was at work I thought I would do some baking so he would have a sweet treat to eat over the weekend (and I wouldn’t have to bake this weekend). So Friday morning I hunted through my recipes to find something new to bake. I saw this recipe for chocolate shortbread and thought they looked easy and yummy.

If J. had his way I would only make Anzac Biscuits whenever I decided to bake cookies. Considering our very limited supply of golden syrup I feel we need to ration that and make something else.

In a large bowl cream 250 grams of butter until light. Gradually add 1 cup of sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. Make sure this is creamed thoroughly and the mixture is light and fluffy.

In another bowl I siftered 2 1/2 cups of plain flour and 1/4 cup of cocoa. I used a really good dutch cocoa because these have a really strong chocolate flavor and you want it to be the best flavor possibly.  Once this is all sifted together gradually add it to the butter mixture, beating it in thoroughly.

When both dry and wet ingredients have been combined press the dough into a ball. Sprinkle flour onto your kitchen bench and roll out the dough until it is about 5mm thick. I cut the dough into rectangles but you can cut into any shape you want. I put my cookies on a greased cookie tray, I pricked each cookie twice with a fork and then cooked them in a slow oven (150 C) for 20 minutes.

I serve these with a glass of cold milk. J. was very happy with his sweet treat, though they are incredibly addictive. They a crunchy but then melt in your mouth as all good shortbreads should. Even at the end of the weekend we have some left, this mixture will make about 50 cookies. I even packed up a few for J. to eat at work today!

Even back when I would get dragged by my parents to watch my brother play football my food of choice at a game has been a pie, a meat pie! There are so many variations on the traditional meat pie now and even a whole chain of franchises built on selling meat pies to hungry Australians. However, I am a traditionalist. I like my pies simple, beefy and sometimes with a splash of tomato sauce (ketchup to all the Americans reading this). I gave J. a choice for his football food this weekend, he could choose homemade pizza or homemade meat pies, like a good little faux-Aussie he went with the pies.

After some deliberation I decided to make mini beef & bacon pies that the boys could eat relatively neatly in front of the games. The main issue with this was what to use as the pie dishes? I had no little aluminium pie containers like back home so I thought I would just use our muffin tins and make them nice and small. Am I an ideas woman or what?!

I like to watch the football too so to make life a little easier on Sunday I prepared the pie filling Saturday night. In a large pot I heated 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then threw in 2 cloves of garlic, 2 large shallots (both garlic & shallots finely diced), 2 small chillies (this is optional but as you know J. likes his spicy food) and 4 rashers of bacon (diced). As the bacon was cooking I sprinkled in some rosemary, probably around a tablespoon.

As this was all cooking in a large bowl I put a cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt and a good amount of cracked black pepper. I just stirred this quickly together before placing my beef (I bought pre-cubed beef that is usually used for stews or kebabs) in and dredging it through the flour. I used around 3 pounds of beef for this recipe. When thinly coated in flour I added the beef to the garlic and bacon and browned it. Once browned add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of beef stock so that the beef is just covered. I also add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of red wine. We also add a lot of ground black pepper for a little bite.

I like to let my beef mixture simmer down and thicken over a couple of hours and then put it in the fridge overnight. This way Sunday when I need it for the pies it is nice and thick and really full of flavour.

Sunday morning I grease our muffin tins. I am just using frozen puff pastry from the supermarket because it is yummy and far easier than making pastry myself. I put some flour down on the bench and roll out the puff pastry. I use the rolling pin just to roll it out a little more. I want it to be nice and thin and flaky. Using a small plate I cut out circles for the base of the pies. The pastry should come up a little higher than the tins around the edges. I use a fork to prick the edges and base before scooping in the beef filling.

Each muffin tin is filled almost to the top. I use a mug to cut the circles for the lids of the pies and then gently put them on the top. Using my fingers I wet the edge and pinch together the top and the base to they are firmly closed around the edge. With a very sharp knife I make a small X incision on the lid for steam to escape. Last thing I have to do is brush the lids with an egg wash. I want the crispiest lid I can get.

The great thing about these is that the inside is already cooked so it only takes 20 minutes to cook the pastry and then they are ready!

These turned out great and are just the right size for a snack during the football. J. said that they were dangerous and he could eat 8!! He hasn’t yet but the day is still young. The filling was rich beefy, tomato flavor with just a hint of chilli and pepper and the crust was flaky and crispy. I am really happy with these and will definitely be making them again soon, perhaps with a different filling.

Back to the football now. GO BEARS!!

A couple of weekends ago we had finished dinner and were both craving something sweet. I remembered a dessert that my mum would whip up really quickly for us when we were kids, caramel dumplings.

WARNING: These are delicious but ridiculously sweet!

First thing is to make the dumpling mixture. In a bowl I use my hands to crumble 2 tablespoons of butter throughout 1 1/4 flour. You don’t need to combine it completely just so that the flour becomes crumbly. After that I just add in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 of a cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix this altogether until completely combined and set it aside.

Sauce time!! In a deep fry pan or large saucepan combine 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 cups of firmly packed brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Just a quick tip, use light brown sugar rather than dark. Mix all of this on medium heat until it comes to the boil. Lower heat so that it simmers gently.

Add heaped spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture to the simmering sauce. The mixture should make six large dumplings (try to make them a little more even than I did). Then it is simply covering and letting them simmer slowly for 20 minutes.

Because they are so rich and sweet you definitely need cream or ice cream with them to break up the sweetness. We didn’t have any but I would serve these hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! Even without they were delicious and quenched the sweet craving J. and I had that night!

 

I guess this is not your traditional tiramisu… there is no mascarpone in it but it is how my mum has made it and J. loves it. I actually don’t like tiramisu so usually when I make it J. gets to eat the entire bowl all by himself (over a few days of course). Anyway, last weekend we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and I decided I would take the opportunity to make it for a group of people who had never tried any tiramisu before.

Firstly, I put 2 cups of espresso on for use a little later. When the espresso is ready I add 1 tablespoon of sugar, mix and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl I beat 4 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of castor sugar. When pale and fluffy I beat in 500 grams of softened cream cheese until completely combined.

In another bowl I will 300ml of whipping cream, when whipped I fold in 1/3 a cup of Baileys Irish Cream liquor. I then add the whipped cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture, gently folding until it is all mixed together.

Now for assembly! First I grate a large block of hazelnut chocolate for the chocolate layer. I use the dry, hard lady finger biscuits (or sponge finger biscuits). I find these soak up the coffee well and don’t get mushy and fall apart. I use a large round bowl and usually about 1 packet of lady fingers.

To create the first layer I dip lady fingers in the cooled espresso, making sure each side has been wet. Do this quickly or the biscuits start disintegrating. When the bottom layer is complete I use 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and spread it evenly as the next layer. On top of that I sprinkle 1/3 of the grated chocolate. Repeat this process 2 more times so that the final layer is a thick coating of the grated chocolate.

I like to refrigerate this overnight just to make sure it is nice and set before eating. I must admit that often it gets eaten well before it has been in the fridge for a night… but try to get a couple of hours at least.

This was a hit with the group of friends and I think it was a great success with a group of people who had never tried Tiramisu before. J. got to enjoy it too and bring home the leftovers!!

 

 

Simple, sweet and fast… just what you need in a cookie. These were just a sweet treat I made J. after sharing this recipe with a friend who needs to eat gluten free.

They literally only take 20 minutes to make and 12 minutes of that is baking time in the oven. Also, this is a good recipe for kids since you can just throw everything in a bowl and mix.

In a bowl combine 1 cup of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of castor sugar, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon of bi-carbonate soda. Make sure everything is mixed in well.

Roll heaped teaspoons full into a ball and place on a greased baking tray. This part gets a little messy because the mixture is very, very sticky. Don’t worry too much about them being perfect balls either since they turn out great either way.

Bake in a 180C preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. This recipe will make about 20 cookies, depending on the size you make.
A great afternoon or after dinner treat and they go great with a glass of cold milk. They have even lasted longer than 24 hours in the house which is nothing short of a miracle… Yum!

A while back now I decided to make J. a pavlova for his birthday. I had planned a great 4 course dinner that would end with a pavlova as his birthday cake. When I moved to the US of A I had even packed tins of passionfruit nectar because on previous trips I had been unable to find any tins or real life passionfruit and pavlova isn’t the same without it.

Another note I should make is that you really need an electric mixer or whisk to make this. Many years ago when I was still trying to impress J. I made one with only a regular whisk and couldn’t use my arms for days after!

This is a recipe of a very old friend of my Mum’s and has always been called Tibby’s Pavlova, I wanted to keep the tradition. So with my new electric mixer in hand I got to work…

Preheat oven to 205 C. Beat 6 egg whites (room temperature) until they form stiff peaks. While beating the egg whites, gradually  add 1 cup of castor sugar, 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt.

When the egg whites start forming peaks add 2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch), 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and a few drops of vanilla essences. Beat until everything is combined.

Cover a pizza tray or large cookie sheet with 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. I like to use a pizza tray because it helps be get the round shape. Gently spoon mixture onto the covered tray and smooth down. Mine was about 2-3 inches high.
Place in the preheated oven and reduce to the temperature to 120C. Cook 1 1/2 hours and then turn off oven and leave in oven till cold. This is very important because if you take it out before it is cool it will more than likely collapse completely.
You can top your pavlova with anything you want. J’s favorites are strawberries and passionfruit so that’s what I did for him. Traditionally you might find bananas, kiwi fruit or berries on top but it is fun to get creative and try out different things!
J. was very happy with his birthday feast and loved his pavalova birthday cake. It might become a bit of a tradition for his birthday every year!