Monday, February 8, 2010
I couldn’t say no to a post-Christmas celebration with my favourite group of food bloggers. Richard from Here Comes the Food invited us around to his place for a Boxing Day food fest, really the last thing my waistline needed around that time of year. Yes, this post is more than a few weeks late! What was originally going to be a summery barbeque was sadly rained out, but that didn’t stop me from traipsing halfway across Sydney in the rain, braving Cityrail trackwork, with dessert in one hand, umbrella in the other.
When we arrived, Suze was grinning and assembling her infamous Luther Burgers. And yes, they are what they look like – a bacon and egg cheeseburger with a Krispy Kreme donut for a bun. One of these babies probably contains the recommended calorie intake for an entire week, but that didn’t stop us. In fact, the flavour combination was great, in a dirty way, as the donuts leaked runny egg yolk and sugar glaze. The table was quiet – it was a combination of sweet and savoury that actually worked, with the sweetness of the donut and the pineapple working well together. It was a lesson in gluttony - crazy indeed, but definitely worth it.
And onto the rest of the food. Leona brought some Indian treats from Newtown, which I didn’t end up trying! Shez made a lovely foccacia studded generously with ham, tomato and cheese, which I really loved. The Ninja has brought some gourmet sausages, which we teamed with Baconnaise, a worthy investment on Richard’s part, because “everything should taste like bacon”. Simon has brought along his Chicken Surprise – balls of deep fried chicken, each with a different filling – some with smoked cheese, or asparagus, ham or proscuitto. The Ninja has unluckily picked the one filled with Wasabi, but apparently it’s not too bad.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of Richard’s or Billy’s delicious pork belly, or Jacq’s potato salad (thank god someone thought to bring vegetables!), nor the infamous can of whale meat that Billy has brought. I didn’t try any, but apparently it tasted like tuna with the texture of pork.
And then it was time for dessert! Steph has brought along a blow torch, with which to toast the marshmallow topping of her S’more Cheesecake, which was exciting because everyone loves fire. This was incredible! The dark chocolate filling wasn’t overly sweet, thankfully, and the topping was absolutely delicious – melty, toasty, and slightly crunchy with marshmallows from Sweetness The Patisserie. You can find the recipe on Steph’s blog.
Teresa has brought some Momofuku cookies from New York, but I was so full by this point that I didn’t try one. My contribution was a green tea-tiramisu, where the sponge biscuits are soaked in a mixture of brewed green tea and Zen liqueur, with a dusting of matcha powder between the layers and also on top. Pistachios are sprinkled on top, but due to Steph’s nut allergies I served them on the side for the dessert. See the recipe at the end of this post!
Helen, the Cupcake Queen wows us with some delicious strawberry balsamic cupcakes, that are topped with popping candy for some childlike novelty. I like a dessert that makes people giggle, and this certainly did as the strange sensation of the popping candy exploded in our mouths. Jacq’s has brought a refreshing panna cotta with peach jelly, and Shez made a chocolate Christmas pudding (no photo of this, unfortunately) and a lovely citrussy sponge cake layered with whipped cream.
I left for home soon after this, as I was one of the only people present who had to work the following day. I was bummed to miss out on Pictionary and catching up with Yas and Lex who arrived later. Thanks Richard for hosting, and to everyone for sharing such great food! You’ll never come away from a food blogger’s gathering with an empty stomach, that much is for sure.
Green Tea Tiramisu (Tea-ramisu)
Serves 8 - 10
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
Note: Matcha powder is available from Asian groceries. Zen liqueur is available from selected bottle shops (I found it in Crows Nest.) You could also serve this in individual serves. I made a few extra in martini glasses for a more elegant presentation.
• 3 eggs, separated
• 1/3 cup caster sugar
• 200g mascarpone
• Pinch cream of tartar
• 1 cup thickened cream, whipped
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup Zen Green Tea liqueur (or Cointreau if you like)
• 12 sponge fingers/ladyfinger biscuits
• 2 cups brewed and cooled green tea
• ¼ cup matcha (green tea powder)
• Chopped unsalted pistachios, to serve
1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (being careful not to let the bowl touch the water) until mixture is thick and pale. Remove from the heat, then add the marscarpone and beat until smooth.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
3. In another large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and then gently fold in the mascarpone mixture, followed by the egg whites until completely blended.
4. Combine the green tea and Zen liqueur in a shallow dish. Dip the sponge biscuits into the liquid briefly, ensuring they’re soaked through. Layer half the biscuits in the bottom of a 1.5L serving dish. Spread half the cream mixture on top and dust with half the matcha.
5. Repeat layers, finishing with a cream layer and most of the remaining green tea powder. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Just before serving, dust with the remaining green tea powder and scatter with chopped pistachios.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
For me, making pancakes is an act with a history that is still being written. For years it has been the traditional breakfast of Mother’s and Father’s Day, and this year was no exception. But in more recent times, pancakes are a Sunday morning ritual whenever Steve and I are together. Usually he whisks the mixture and I cook them while sipping hot coffee, still in my pyjamas. And since breakfast is usually treated as a rushed (or forgotten) affair, it is wonderful to occasionally sit down and eat with the people I love.
I can’t even count how many pancake recipes I’ve tried over the years, but the one I have kept going back to since the first time I made it is Donna Hay’s recipe from Modern Classics 2. I’ve tweaked it in many ways: adding lemon zest or coconut or vanilla, serving it with strawberries or bananas, or ice cream and maple syrup. But one of my favourite combinations so far was the one I made this morning for Father’s Day breakfast – cinnamon pancakes with pears.
The recipe couldn’t be easier, which I think is especially important in the morning before you’re fully caffeinated. The pancakes are beautifully fluffy, the perfect breakfast in my book. This is also my entry for Hay Hay It’s Donna Day this month, lovingly looked after by Bron Marshall, and hosted by the lovely Suzana of Home Gourmets. I can’t wait to see the round up!
Recipe adapted from Modern Classics 2 by Donna Hay
• 2 cups plain flour
• 3 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ cup caster sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ¾ cup buttermilk
• 1 1/3 cups milk
• Butter, for cooking
1. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar together in a medium size bowl.
2. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the egg with the buttermilk, milk and vanilla extract, then whisk the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth.
3. Melt a small amount of butter in a small frypan over medium-low heat. Add about ½ - ¾ cup of the pancake mixture. When small bubbles begin to form over the pancake, carefully flip it over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
4. Repeat with the rest of the pancake mixture. Serve with maple syrup and pears if desired.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I don’t know what I’d do, or perhaps who might be injured if I were to find out that we’d run out of butter, eggs or flour. Or chocolate for that matter! There are some things a baking-inclined girl just can’t live without. There might also be waterworks if I’d run out of any kind of sugar I keep, or yeast, or lord help us, vanilla! But what about the things we often end up with too much of?
I’ve mentioned before the ever-growing collection of eggwhites in my freezer. I am almost convinced that they procreate in there. Before I made this recipe, there were sixteen! I can only imagine how much worse it will be when I finally purchase a (much-coveted) ice cream machine and use egg yolks six or eight at a time. Though I often wonder, if I could summon up the courage to make macarons, would I be having the opposite problem?
But in the meantime, there’s rochers, French for boulders or rocks, though luckily only in appearance. These are edible, and delicious indeed. Wonderfully crispy and crackly on the outside, but chewy on the inside with a nice chocolate kick, these little meringue cookies are great on their own. However, if you do want to dress them up a little, you can turn them into tiny pavlovas with a dollop of pastry cream or whipped cream and a couple of berries on top. I’m sure they will be a hit at your next dinner party!
This is also my entry to the Meringue flavoured edition of Sugar High Friday, created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and hosted this month by One Messy Kitchen.
Chocolate and Almond Rochers
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
• 1 cup icing sugar
• 1/3 cup almond meal
• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 4 large eggwhites, room temperature
• Pinch of salt
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 150°C (300°F). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
2. Sift together the icing sugar, almond meal and cocoa.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are opaque. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip as you add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Whip until the whites are firm, shiny and hold stiff peaks.
4. Beat in the vanilla. With a large rubber spatula, as quickly but as gently as you can, fold the dry ingredients followed by the chopped chocolate.
5. Drop tablespoons of the meringue onto the baking sheets, leaving about 5cm between them.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, then without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 90°C (200°F) and bake for 1 hour more.
7. Remove the baking trays from the oven and allow the meringues to stand until they reach room temperature. Carefully peel the meringues off the baking paper. Store in an airtight tin or uncovered at room temperature.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Ahhh birthdays. I love making a big deal of other peoples’ but I tend to largely ignore my own. For the last few years, I’ve had to keep celebrations simple because my birthday always seemed to fall right in the middle of my dreaded mid-year deadlines week at college. Unfortunately it’s no different this year, but you only turn 20 once. I’ve been freaking out a little for the last month that my teenage years are over; that it’s the end of an era, so to speak. But while it feels like a chapter may be closing, a new one is most certainly opening. And I’m okay with that, even if it does mean finding a grey hair (!!)
The last year has been quite a roller coaster ride, with highs and lows and everything in between. It feels like I’ve learned a lot about myself – the things I’m capable of and the things I want from life now that my college course is nearing its end – as well new skills that I’ll continue to use years in the future. I’ve crossed things off lists, then replaced them with new things to explore, experience and discover. It’s hard to believe that in less than six months I’ll have a degree and, fingers crossed, a real job…which would be handy, as it’s hard to finance cookbook purchases on a paltry student income! So, I’m excited about the year ahead and the changes it will bring.
In an effort to avoid birthday candles this year, I decided on a semifreddo for dessert rather than a cake. The recipe combines several of my favourite things – chocolate, coffee, figs, hazelnuts… and liqueur! I liked the suggestion of serving it in slices rather than scoops for a more elegant presentation. It was deliciously rich with nice textural contrasts from the crunch of hazelnuts and chewy figs. I especially liked the espresso syrup, which would also be nice on vanilla ice cream, or even drizzled over a chocolate cake. I firmly believe that birthday calories don’t count; mind and metabolism have an unspoken agreement. Though I’d say this is worth blowing the diet for any day.
This is also my entry to the fantastic Frozen Desserts event hosted by Mike's Table. There's still time to get an entry in, I can't wait to see the round up!
I should also mention that I’m leaving for another little holiday in Perth on Friday morning. I must like it there or something! I’ll be back home in early July, but with some luck there may be a post or two written ‘on location’ to document our eating adventures. Hopefully this time I’ll get to visit the two patisseries that were unfortunately closed when I was there in January, try a much-anticipated Little Creatures pale ale, and a repeat performance of those amazing frites!
Chocolate, Fig and Hazelnut Semifreddo
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 2/3 cup espresso
• ½ cup Frangelico liqueur
• ¾ cup caster sugar
• 4 dried figs, halved
• 5 eggs
• 1 ½ cups milk
• 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
• 220g dark chocolate, finely chopped
• ½ cup pouring cream
• 125g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1. Combine espressp, Frangelico and ½ cup caster sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add figs, then simmer over low heat until figs are soft. Cool, remove figs and refrigerate the syrup. Coarsely chop figs and set aside.
2. Whisk eggs and remaining sugar until pale. Combine milk and vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan. Bring just to the boil over high heat, and then pour slowly over egg mixture, whisking continuously until combined. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until thick. Remove from heat and place over a bowl of iced water to cool.
3. Melt chocolate, cool to room temperature and then whisk into the egg mixture. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form, then gently fold into chocolate mixture. Fold through hazelnuts and figs and pour into a greased, baking paper lined loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Slice with a hot, dry knife and serve drizzled with syrup.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I love the concept of learning something new everyday, whether it’s a new word to add to the vocabulary, or a snippet of information you didn’t know. I’ll admit I’m one of those people who love useless trivia. Did you know there are two million possible sandwich combinations that can be created from a Subway menu, or that fish are in fact susceptible to seasickness? I don’t ever want to stop learning, there are so many subjects that I find fascinating.
But one of the things I like most of all is the feeling that you could learn something every time you step into the kitchen. There are hundreds of different cuisines to explore and a countless amount of ingredients, each with its own flavours and properties. It excites me to go into the kitchen knowing that I’m going to make something new, because you’re never quite sure how it will turn out – in triumph or in tears. I remember the first time I made choux pastry, about two years ago. My profiteroles were sad, flat little mounds rather than gloriously risen puffs. I didn’t know what went wrong, and it took me three attempts (and probably some rather choice language) before I finally got it right. Here is a short list of the things I’ve since learned about making perfect choux...
• This recipe has a considerable amount of water. It’s the water turning to steam in the oven that makes them puff.
• When adding the flour, make sure the butter mixture is boiling rapidly. This ensures that the starch cells in the flour will accept more water and create more steam, and consequently more puff.
• I like to sift the flour before adding it to the mixture. You will need to stir vigorously to prevent lumps forming and incorporate the flour evenly.
• Make sure the oven is at the correct temperature before the puffs go in, and don’t be tempted to open the oven door while they are cooking!
• When they are cooked, prick the puffs with a skewer or cut them open to release the steam, and then return them to the oven for 5 minutes, which prevents them from going soggy.
• Cooked but unfilled choux will keep in an airtight container for 3 days or can be frozen for up to 3 weeks.
Choux pastry is a wonderful base for an incredible variety of sweet and savoury dishes; the choice of what to fill your éclairs or profiteroles with is up to you! Crème pâtissèrie, or pastry cream is one of my favourite things to make so I decided to put my leftover ginger to good use with one of its very best friends, dark chocolate. It gave the cream a nice subtle flavour that I loved. I dipped my profiteroles into melted chocolate, but you could also drizzle it on top. This is also my entry for Hay Hay Its Donna Day #20, brainchild of Barbara from Winos and Foodies, now being looked after by Bron Marshall, and hosted this month by Suzana of Home Gourmets.
Chocolate and Ginger Profiteroles
Adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan and Gourmet Traveller
Makes about 40 small profiteroles
Chocolate and Ginger Pastry Cream
• 2 cups whole milk
• About 6 strips of fresh ginger, cut with a vegetable peeler
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tablespoons sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornflour, sifted
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 7 (200g) ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
• 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
• 100g unsalted butter
• 1 cup cold water
• 150g plain flour, sifted
• 4 eggs
• Melted dark chocolate, for dipping
1. To make the dark chocolate cream, bring the milk to a boil, add strips of ginger and infuse for at least 30 minutes. Strain and discard the pieces of ginger.
2. Re-heat the milk. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornflour and salt until thick and well blended. Without stopping whisking, drizzle in about ¼ cup of the hot milk, then add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat, and whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking for 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the melted chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. In the meantime, fill the sink about a quarter full with water and ice cubes. Whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the cream is smooth and silky.
4. Put the bowl into the ice filled sink, and stir occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled. Refrigerate with plastic pressed against the surface of the cream to avoid a skin forming.
5. To make the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F) and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Combine butter and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Add flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
6. Add eggs to the mixture, beating vigorously to combine after each addition before adding the next. To make profiteroles, use either a piping bag or a spoon to make 3cm mounds on the baking tray.
7. Bake for 15 minutes. Prick pastries with a skewer or the tip of a small knife and bake for an additional 5 minutes until golden and dry. Cool profiteroles on a wire rack before filling with chocolate and ginger pastry cream. Dip into melted dark chocolate before serving.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
If there was some kind of prize awarded for procrastination, I’m sure I’d be in the running. I always have the best of intentions, but somehow I end up thinking about things for too long, or I get busy and distracted and don’t have enough time to actually produce the thing I’ve been planning, or at least not quite to the inner-perfectionist standard that I’d hoped for. The deadlines for so many fantastic blog events have passed me by, even though I’d had a page in my little food journal dedicated to a brainstorm of ideas. However, when the lovely Tartelette announced that the theme of this month’s Sugar High Friday was citrus, I made a note in iCal and was determined to get an entry in. And this is why I was in the kitchen at 11.30pm last night...
This is my first time participating in SHF, the delicious monthly event created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. I love almost anything citrus – the bright fresh colours and zingy tastes – but as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t resist anything lemon flavoured. I wish I could say that there was a Eureka! moment, but it was actually a heated game of Scissors, Paper, Rock that fortuitously decided on this lemon flan.
I’ve always loved the combination of lemon and strawberries, so it was nice to play with it here. The flan was creamy and silky, sweet but with a nice lemon tang. It wasn’t too rich or heavy, so the delicate flavours weren’t overpowered by egginess. I think it was the addition of lemon thyme in the syrup that really made it something special. I’d never used any kind of herbs in a dessert before, so I was quite surprised at the result. It’s a subtle taste, but the lemon thyme gave the dessert a sort of casual sophistication. I think this would be the perfect dessert for a spring or summer dinner party, as all the preparation can be done in advance. The flan would also be delicious using different fruits in the compote, like raspberries, blueberries or even thin slices of orange.
This is also my entry to this month's Monthly Mingle created by Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey? The theme is Appetizers and Hors'Doeuvres, of both the savoury and sweet variety. Entries close June 9th, so you still have some time to whip up something spectacular!
Lemon Flan with Strawberry and Lemon Thyme Compote
Adapted from Epicurious
Strawberry Thyme Compote
• ¼ cup sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
• 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 cups strawberries, washed and cut into halves or quarters
• 2 cups whole milk
• ½ cup sugar
• Peel from half a lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler in strips
• Pinch salt
• 2 large eggs
• 2 large egg yolks
1. To make strawberry lemon thyme syrup, combine sugar, water, lemon thyme and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature and then stir in vanilla.
2. Spoon 3 teaspoons of syrup into each of six ¾ cup ramekins. Place ramekins into a large baking dish. Allow syrup to infuse overnight.
3. Combine milk, sugar, lemon peel, and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Uncover and let milk mixture steep at room temperature 1 hour. Return milk mixture to a simmer. Strain into a small bowl and discard the lemon peel.
5. Preheat oven to 170°C (350°F). Whisk eggs and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk warm milk mixture into egg mixture.
6. Divide custard among prepared ramekins. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake custards until centers are set and thin knife inserted at edge of dish cleanly separates custard from dish, about 45 minutes. Remove flans from water. Cool for 1 hour, and then refrigerate flans uncovered overnight.
7. Pour lemon thyme syrup over the cut up strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours maximum before serving.
8. Run small thin knife around flans to loosen. Invert each flan onto plate. Serve with strawberry lemon thyme compote.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Photo credit: stock.xchng
Today I would like to talk about the hard work of Melanie Jeffree, founder of the cancer fundraising group Hope Helps. Two years ago, Melanie’s husband was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma and is still fighting hard against the disease. His positive thinking and amazing spirit were Melanie’s inspiration to do everything she can to help the fight against cancer.
Hope Helps runs a variety of different events and projects including trivia nights, market nights, Daffodil Day, Biggest Morning Tea, and a Girls Night In. All of the profits are distributed between two charities, The Cancer Council and OnTrac@PeterMac.
The Cancer Council’s core business is cancer control. They conduct and support research, as well as delivering support and prevention programs and advocacy to reduce the physical and emotional burden of cancer. The leaders are of international standing and we are significantly and positively influencing the cancer agenda. They are a non-profit organization and rely on the generous support of donors and volunteers.
OnTrac@PeterMac is a state wide, multidisciplinary clinical and research team of healthcare professionals working towards improving the survival rates, quality of treatment and care of Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA) through the:
• Establishment of a dedicated state-wide AYA cancer team
• Development of a research and development program
• Development of a health promotion, training and education program for healthcare professionals working with young people
• Effective leadership in advocacy and policy development in AYA cancer care
OnTrac@PeterMac is currently supporting over 400 young people aged between 15-25 years living with cancer and is now an internationally recognized leader in identifying and addressing the medical, psychological and social issues impacting on young people living with this disease.
The goal at Hope Helps is to give these hard working cancer prevention groups better opportunities to make a difference in the lives of so many people. The money raised will be used to continue research into finding a cure for cancer and helping make a difference in the comfort of patients under going treatment for their Cancer.
Guess what, food bloggers? One of the projects that Hope Helps is co-ordinating this year is a collaborative cookbook. It is still in the planning stage so far, and Melanie is looking for recipe submissions. We are looking for original recipes to be published in the Hope Helps Cookbook. They can be absolutely anything, from a simple snack to an elaborate dessert. The success of this project depends on how many recipes are submitted, so if you can help either contact me at fruitcakey (at) gmail (dot) com or Melanie at melanie.jeffree (at) gmail (dot) com
Alternately, if you live in Melbourne and are interested in any of the Hope Helps events, contact Melanie for information.
In other news, a big congratulations to Jessie from Sui Mai, she won the logo design package offered in Menu For Hope. I’ve been working on the design and I can’t wait to show you what I’ve come up with! Thanks also to every one who nominated my prize for their Menu For Hope donation, and thanks to Pim and Helen for their efforts in organization. $91,188 was the total amount raised, an incredible achivement. Lets hope we can beat that number next time!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I had the most wonderful thought the other day. It made me smile and dream and hope as only ambition can. I love simplicity and most of all, genuine thoughtfulness, and often find more happiness in the little things in life than the so-called milestones. Plus who wants to wait until society obligates you to let people know you care about them. This is why I have mixed feelings toward Christmas and the holiday season. I enjoy the gift giving but not the gift buying.
A sneak peek into the more corporate world of graphic design showed me that it isn’t where I want to be – deadlines for clients you’ve never even met in person! But in this business, it’s all about learning and experience. I may very well end up there for a few years before I can go out on my own and start my own design studio (in a little terrace house with gorgeous wooden floorboards and a fireplace). That’s my dream, and I’ll tell you now, things will be done differently.
In this daydream I was about to start a presentation to a client. It was a project I was excited about, to be working on packaging with an artisan chocolate maker. It was a casual meeting, explaining initial ideas and really getting to know them and their product. In the middle of the table was a plate of freshly baked muffins that I’d made that morning.
It might never happen – who knows what the future will bring – but it got me thinking, it got me hoping and dreaming. And to complete the reverie, I baked some gorgeous blueberry muffins. It was kind of nice to get back to one-bowl basics, since muffins were one of the first recipes I ever cooked. I used Donna Hay’s recipe, but next time I’ll tweak it slightly to be a little more moist, perhaps with some applesauce or yoghurt.
Also, if you haven’t already, go and check out the prizes available for this year’s Menu For Hope. This year I’m offering a fully personalised logo design and development package that I am very excited about! There are only a few days left, so please help us beat last year's amazing total.
Recipe adapted from Donna Hay
• 2 cups plain flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ¾ cups caster sugar
• 1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 punnet fresh blueberries
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar.
3. Place the crème fraiche or sour cream, eggs, lemon zest and oil in a bowl and whisk well until smooth. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture or it will not rise as successfully.
4. Add the blueberries and stir gently.
5. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin. Bake for 12-20 minutes depending on the size of muffins.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
How great is Menu for Hope! I am so happy to be involved, after watching from afar last year before I had actually started my own blog. It is so great to see so many people hop on board with fantastic prizes to raise money and awareness for such a fantastic cause, the UN World Food Program to end the fight against hunger.
The prize that I am offering is a completely personalised logo development package for your blog or business.
A logo says so much about you. It embodies your attitudes, values and style, and helps you stand out from the crowd. It should be recognisable, creative and unique. But a logo is just the beginning of a whole cohesive identity that can extend into business cards, websites, packaging, signage – whatever you need!
So what does this mean? I will work closely with the winner to develop the logo that is right for you. I’ll ask you questions to get to know you better, and from there hit my trusty Powerbook Alice to design your logo.
For first time visitors to my blog, here’s a little bit about my design background. I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer when I was in Year 9 at high school. I got into my first choice of colleges, a place that solely teaches graphic design, but I was also accepted into three others. The last two years have been a wonderful rollercoaster of creativity. I have worked on book covers, magazines, packaging, CD design, posters, illustrations, identities and countless logos. You can check out some of my work on Flickr.
I’ll tell you a little secret. My rate for logo development is up to $500, and many professional designers would charge much more. This is your chance to grow your blog or business and support a great cause.
If you want to check out the prizes on offer throughout the Asia/Pacific region, visit Helen at Grab Your Fork
If you want to check out all of the prizes, visit Chez Pim
If you are interested in this prize, the code is AP19
Here’s what you should do:
1. Go to the donation page at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4
2. Make a donation: each US$10 will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. In the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form, please specify which prize or prizes you'd like, using the prize-code and detailing the number of tickets per prize you'd like to purchase. For example, a donation of US$50 can be 2 tickets for AP01 and 3 for AP02
3. For US donors, if your company has agreed to match your charity donation, please remember to tick the box and fill in the information so we may claim the corporate match.
4. Please make sure you tick the box to allow us to see your email address so we may contact you if you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
5. Winners will be announced on Chez Pim in mid-January 2008.
Good luck, and please give generously!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Re-invention is a theme often on my mind. As a graphic designer, I often find myself drawing inspiration from a huge variety of sources, from food to fashion, people to literature, nature to architecture and so many more, because design would be boring if people looked only to other design for inspiration! It is these individual interests and influences that create difference. Even at college when 30 of us have exactly the same project, everyone’s solution is unique.
This is also why I love the food blogging community. I’ll admit, I’ve been
I am very happy though, that my first blog event is cupcake related, it seems oddly appropriate, as they are quite an obsession for me these days. The dish that I have chosen to reinvent is apple pie. As simple as it sounds, it has always been a favourite of mine, and its infallible popularity suggests plenty of others feel the same way. It is also something that I’ve personally never seen done in cupcake form before.
I started with a cinnamon cake base, filled with a home made applesauce and topped with a custard cream. I really liked the way the flavours and textures came together here. The only thing I would have liked better is a stronger cinnamon flavour in the cake, or even in the applesauce.
I know there looks like a scary amount of steps here, but much of this recipe can actually be done in advance. The sweet pastry can be refrigerated or frozen (see note), and the applesauce and custard cream can both be stored in air-tight containers in the fridge for 2-3 days. The cupcakes taste best when served on the day, but one day (unfilled) in an air-tight container won’t be a problem.
Thanks to Cheryl and Garrett for hosting such a great event!
Apple Pie Cupcakes
• 2 cups plain flour
• ½ cup almond meal (optional, to make it almond shortcrust)
• 1 tablespoons caster sugar
• 150g cold butter, chopped
• 2-3 tablespoons cold water
1. In a food processor or stand mixer with a dough hook, combine butter, sugar, flour and almond meal (if using) until it becomes a crumbly mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add water as needed, until a smooth dough forms and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Roll 12 small balls of dough, of about 1.5-2cm diameter. Place them on a baking sheet covered with non-stick baking paper, about 5cm apart. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and press each down until it is about 0.5cm apart.
4. Roll the rest of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze it until needed.
5. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Peel off the top layer of baking paper and make holes in each pastry piece with a fork. Place in a preheated (180°C) oven the oven for 10 minutes until they are slightly golden.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend making the pastry crust just for these cupcakes. If you have some leftover sweet dough from another recipe, or have other plans for a pie or tart, then go for it, but these cupcakes are truly just as good without the pastry as with. Sweet dough can be refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen for a couple of months.
• 115g butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 ¼ cup flour, sifted
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a standard muffin tray with paper liners.
2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition
4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon
5. Combine milk and vanilla
6. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture alternately, starting and finishing with flour
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool in tray for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack.
Makes enough to fill 12 cupcakes, and probably a small apple pie or two
• 2 medium apples (I used Pink Lady), peeled, cored and cut into 1.5cm cubes
• 4 tablespoons water or apple juice
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place apple pieces in a small saucepan with the water/juice and cook over a low heat, stirring often until apples are very soft.
2. Stir in half of the sugar until dissolved and then add the other half and the cinnamon.
3. Place in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Vanilla Custard Cream
• 1 cup milk
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 egg yolks
• ¼ cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons plain flour
• 1 tablespoon custard powder
1. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale. Add the flour and custard powder and mix well.
2. Place milk and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and heat until milk is just boiling.
3. Pour the milk into the egg mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
4. Return mixture to the pot over a low heat and whisk continuously until mixture is starting to thicken. At this point it depends if you want a runny custard or a thick “pipe-able” custard, but remember that it will thicken slightly as it cools.
5. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl sitting in a dish of iced water. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
1. Make pastry, if using
2. Prepare cupcake batter
3. Place 1 tablespoon of the batter in each of the cupcake liners. Add a pastry disc to each, and add more batter so that they are about three quarters full, and bake.
4. Prepare apple sauce while cupcakes are cooling
5. When cool, use a small sharp knife to cut a cone from each cupcake. (See this post at Cupcake Bakeshop for detailed instructions) Cut off the bottom and set the lid aside. Place 1 teaspoon of the applesauce in each cupcake, then replace the lid. Store in an air-tight container.
6. Make the custard cream.
7. Just before serving, remove paper cupcake liners.
8. Warm cupcakes in the microwave, and either pipe thick custard on top of each cake, or spoon runny custard so it dribbles deliciously down the sides.