Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FILLED PATE A CHOUX SWANS - Daring Baker's Challenge August 2012

I love choux buns, and in a lot of older cook books I collect, there are the choux swans.  So this month, when Kat from The Bobwhites challenged us to make the choux swans, I said to the family, ah, finally, I will make some swans.

The Daring Baker's recipe is here, but I used my Pastry Book from Le Cordon Bleu, and used the chantilly cream to fill the swans and top with straw berries and dust with icing sugar.

The mistake - I mis-read the line of baking the neck, and the neck is burnt... so, the black swan neck is not consumed... although the children did mop up the rest of the swans.

Was fun.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lemon Sponge Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Simple cup cakes are good.
Especially when you are busy and tomorrow, there's a morning tea scheduled at work, for someone's birthday.

I'm in the sponge cake mood, so this is it again.

Lemon Sponge Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
--make 12
100 Self Raising Flour
4 eggs
25g corn flour
25ml olive oil (or melted butter)
1 lemon zest and 1/3 of juice of the same lemon
3/4 cup castor sugar

250g cream cheese
2/3 of juice of the same lemon
50g butter
2/3 cup white sugar
50g icing sugar
100ml cream

Beat the room temperature eggs with sugar, till pale and fluffy, very pale, you know it's full of tiny bubbles.
Bench top mixer is a must for me, unless you have strong arms.
Add the oil and keep beating for a minute or so, sift in flours, fold in zest, and divide into 12 casings and bake in 150C oven fan forced for 15-20 minutes - depending on the oven, I seldom actually calculate time these days, so very roughly.

When cool, make the lemon syrup with juice, white sugar and butter, stir and let it cool but not cold - it will become solid otherwise.  Beat the cream cheese (break out the bench top mixer again please) and add the syrup, icing sugar and cream...

It's a quite runny icing, so, don't expect the same consistency as butter cream icing, it's not as easy to mould, but very tasty!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Apple and Cranberry Crumble

It's cold and wet in Melbourne, end of winter, and endless cold and wet days, as it seems.

Compared to my friends who live in Canada, we might be having warm winters, but, as we never lived through snowy days (unless we go up to the ski tracks in the mountains), 12C is cold.

Calorie count is out, and warmth is much needed.

Something quick and easy, and hubby loves a good crumble.

We don't have a lot of fresh fruits in winter days, but, apples are good.

So this is it, apple and cranberry crumble.

Apple and dry cranberries tossed with sugar and cinnamon and all spice, soak with juice of half a lemon.
Crumble top made from flour, half plain half self raising, lots of butter, dessicated coconut, sugar, oats, I think that's it.

Serve with a dollop of fresh cream or 2.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Polenta Banana Bread - Daring Cook's August 2012 Challenge - Cornmeal

Hmm... I'm late.
Better late than never.

This month, Rachael from pizzarosa challenged us to make something from cornmeal. This is the recipe. Cornmeal is a kitchen staple, and in most Australian supermarkets, it's most well known as polenta.

We have a big Mediterranean influence in Melbourne, so we do cook a fair bit with polenta.

But, if I can choose to make something sweet rather than savoury, I will.  As polenta is rather rustic in texture, I decided to do a simple banana cake, suitable for a bit of brekky, morning tea or afternoon tea, and it's mostly guilt free, healthy, if you delete the sugar from recipe, but I didn't use much.

The ingredients:
3 eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
100ml olive oil
100g SR flour
100g polenta
100ml extra light olive oil
150g chopped dates
2 table spoon of fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar, half white half brown.

It's simple, whisk the eggs with sugar, until ribbony, then slowly add in olive oil.  Add in the juice, and banana, then sift in self raising flour and add polenta. I usually add dates last, as it's the chunky bits.
Bake in 150C fan forced oven for 50 min in a well greased and lined loaf tin.

I always love the polenta in the cake, as it's given us a bit more texture, I don't need to use nuts in those loaves.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lemon Cake

It has almost been a year.

I stopped posting when my kitchen was stripped during my house renovation last year. For a horrible couple of months, we lived in the dust, have to eat meals whenever we could get some. I didn't even have a computer.  And then I have a gorgeous new kitchen.  A gorgeous new Italian oven.  All the pain was worth it.  My friends loved our new kitchen, backyard, swimming pool and the new dining and family room.  Looking back, our builder was pretty swift with his job and we didn't suffer all that long compared to some others we know.  3 months?

But I remained silent.

After all the days of take aways and convenient meals during the days with no kitchen.  I had excuses.  Hubby and I had to paint the house.  Then, it was Luke's high school placement.  It was so much stress, trying out for acceleration classes.  We don't live in the school  zone he wants to go.  All his friends will be going there, and very likely, he will miss out, because we can't afford a house in the school zone.

And then, I decided to go back to uni.

Oh.  During that process, really, I started baking again.  Really.  Still not as much as I was doing before the renovation.  I'm still making breads, cakes, dumplings etc.

Baking makes me happy when I'm not.

Baking makes me feel good when I'm sick.

Such is today.

I have been sick, since last Friday.  Started with kids cough and cold, then Luke got throat and ear infection.  Then it was us adults. I have been on antibiotics, as it's pretty bad infection this time.  I had to stay at home, in this dull, miserable day.

Not many fruits available these days, but my lemon tree is producing good quality lemons.  It lived through the extension, and started fruit again.

And I have some eggs.  So, a simple lemon sponge cake to make me happy, and when my kids come home, they will come home to this as well.

A book, an espresso, and a warm slice of cake.

Oh, I have been baking and cooking on instinct these days, even though I still religiously collect recipes.  So I  didn't measure and didn't even check the baking time, although I know the oven was 140C fan forced.  But the Ilve is so strong, I usually have to tone it down 20C compared to normal recipes.

So here, a lemon sponge cake, with no real recipe or cooking time.  with some runny icing on top.  I used eggs, lemon (zest and juice), a bit self raising flour, some white sugar, a splash of extra light olive oil, and the simple icing is just lemon juice, bit of hot water, butter and icing sugar.

Happy days.

Waiting for winter to go away.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Thanks to Peta from Peta Eats, I found a super easy way to do a lovely consomme.

All 3 methods, traditional egg white, gelatine, freezer, and meal supplements, can be found on this Darking Kitchen's Official Recipe on PDF.  Keep it, it will come in handy when you need to do an effort free WOW entree or meal etc...

Nothing exciting about my beef stock and soup, the normal stuff I make all the time.
Chuck steak, a couple of beef ribs, onions, black pepper, button mushrooms, white wine (I didn't want a dark stock), parsley stems, bay leaves.

I make beef stock a fair bit, use the beef in my curries or other stews, this time in pies, and use the stock separately.

Due the renovation happenning at home, I wasn't able to do a lot of cooking, so the freezing methods suit me.  And it works.  After defrosting in the fridge for a day, you can see clearly it's seperating...

I have a very fine siev, that I use instead of mousseline cloth sometimes, I have packed a few items and trying to live with the bare minimum.

And it's just easy to get the clear clear soup...

Will add some dumplings to it? 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home Made Strawberry Yoghurt

I go through my phrases with cooking - I'm definitely not cooking as much lately, as much as I want to.

The thought that I have to pack up everything in the kitchen in a few weeks time does stress me out quite a bit.  I'm trying to use up everything I have in the pantry, and not to increase new ingredients.  It's just too easy for me to pick up bits and pieces for some one off dishes and keep the rest to use later, and end up, having quite a bit of left overs in the pantry.  Some of the items I do use quite frequently.  Like all different types of flour, self raising, chick pea, polenta, semolina, tapioca, whole meal, rye....  They do end up in different jars and containes, and all different types of sugars and syrups etc etc etc.... argg.... the panic of packing!

So the strategy is trying not to replace the item used, including every day items like cheese, butter, flour, I don't mean don't replace any, but reduce to just one type of every major category, so by the time I have to pack up the pantry for the worker to do the demolishing work, it will be easier.

But that also means I have to cook a bit less of varieties of things until my new kitchen's in, which is about a month and 2 weeks away.....

However, there are a few items I'd like to keep it going, including the yoghurt, and the sourdough.  I have to keep the yoghurt culture alive as well as the sourdough starter.  They are my babies, although I haven't really named them yet!

I bought some tubs of strawberries for the children's school lunch box. There were some left so I decided to make some strawberry yoghurts.

It's simple.  Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp water to half tub (around 100g-125g) of cleaned strawberries, bring it to boil on stove top, let it simmer for a few minutes to maximise the strawberry taste in the syrup.

My children don't like the actual fruit in their yoghurt so I took the cooked strawberries out leaving just the strawberry syrup.

The rest steps are the same as making any other yoghurt.

Bring 1 lt full cream fresh milk to boil, I usually let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, let it cool to 110F or 43.6C, add the strawberry syrup to cooled milk, and 2 tbsp of warm plain yoghurt, leave it in the thermo pot to keep the heat over night.

Home made yoghurt are nicer with all the fresh ingredients.