Warm potato bowl

June 13, 2011

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

 

The potato salad I made was a vegie medley. I steamed the potatoes in their jackets and tossed the chopped up potatoe pieces with asparagus, radish, and pumpkin that had been saute’d in olive oil with garlic and rosemary. I then wanted to make a creamy emulsion of a vinagrette, using avocado instead of any dairy. I used avocado, salt, pepper, olive oil, mixed italian herbs, a small amount of fetta, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and mashed it all together in a pestle and mortar.  I then mixed it through the warm potato salad and enjoyed. It had a lovely tang and I will be trying to use avocado to make other creamy sauces like over pasta. Do any of you have any other ideas?

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fondant figures for friends

June 13, 2011

Here are fondant figures of my friend Cindy and her husband-to-be Tom I made as a hens party gift. Maybe they’ll even get to go on the cake!

 

 

and here is the bride]


a baking day at home, reward for the rested

June 8, 2011

Ah, nothing like a lovely day off baking and experimenting with your baking tools to make you feel all domestic. I had a lovely day in the kitchen after a not too bad night shift at work. I was on a mission to use up some things kicking round in the fridge like yogurt an cottage cheese and ricotta (gee a lot of dairy) and I wanted to try making some yummy treats like nougat that has been on my to try list for a long long while, after seeing it in amongst the christmas blog recipes. I had a bit of a surf about at work to look for recipes to use up yogurt and cottage cheese, and found mostly the cake and cookie variety (good, I wasn’t in quite the savory mood) and hit the shops, also grabing the lovely fresh fruit veg and herbs for the next few days meals.

 

Here was my reward for  baking, a lovely polenta (cornmeal) and bluberry stuffed lemon and yogurt cake, that I changed slightly by upping the yogurt (as I had more than called for), decreasing the oil (hmmm heart healthier) and drenching the lot in a lemon sugar syrup for an extra sour sweet treat that would keep well in my little cake dome so I can share the cake love around. Mmmmm earl grey and a blueberry studded slice in the sunshine

The later in the afternoon I thought I’d attempt the nougat, one of my boyfriends favourites that I wanted to surprise him with my evil genious candy making skills to show him how awesome I am before he left this morning for his week away at work….sound desperate much 🙂 nah, he know’s I’m awesome already, and lucky cause the nougat mixing darn well almost busted my hand mixer. Note to self: get kitchen aid ASAP! Anyway, the recipe was simple enough, sweet ingredients like honey, sugar, glucose, vanilla flavour, etc, all the liquids go into a sausepan and boil together till they reach 315F degrees. All fine, I’m not scared of sugar, I have a sugar themometer, and I wasn’t afraid to use it. What didn’t help was the mid-boil transfer of the mix to a bigger saucepan to prevent a boil over, then the fear that I’d burnt the crap out of the syrup and it still wasn’t at 315 degrees yet, which the recipe warned me, was necessary for the nougat to set and not seep into a sticky mess. With the fear of a burnt tasting inedible candy and wasting half a cup of precious WA honey that I’d just got from the swan valley, I decided the smell of burning sugar, and the reaching of 300 degrees was near enough good enough. Then into the whipped egg whites the hot syrup was drizzled and I had to mix mix mix for 10 or so minutes till everything cooled. Fine, easy enough, I’ve made butter cream before, I’m no stranger to hard core whipping….except the sticky, thick nougat mix was creeping up the arms of my beaters, threatening to balloon and marshmallow over the whole thing and swallow my hand. I persisted to 8 minutes, then panic’d, added the nuts and cranberries, and then panic’d again as I struggled against the setting candy with a wooden spoon I could hardly force through the mix. Then I proceeded to try and get it out of the bowl, into the pan to set, coating half the bench, and engulfing my hands, and three spoons in the mix that would stick everywhere else than where I wanted it. Did I end up with nougat at the end of this? Yes I did. Was is edible? Yes it was, but I knew it had come close to burning, and am sure, even though it didn’t ruin or dominate the taste, that I could tell I’d burnt it slightly. Was it worth almost killing my beaters and having to clean the entire bench with industrial cloths? It did taste nice, and it did set, although I think a bit longer boil would have made it perfect if it hadn’t burnt, as it wasn’t extremely solid, but didn’t sog up or go everywhere either. It stayed nicely in it’s pieces, but was a bit sticky on the edges. Will I make it again? Talk to me when I have a kitchen aid and I’ll let you know.

 

 

I also made some chocy mouse for Steve, as it’s his absolute fave, and surprised it with him after dinner, a yummy thai beef green curry, with all the fresh herbs hand chopped and pounded to make the curry paste, mmmm lovely and fragrant. Steve even helped do that bit, and get some rice on awwww. Sadly no mouse photos cause the crappy glasses fell out of the crappy fridge and broke the crappy stems, lucky I didn’t use the good crystal huh! I know better, such a disaster area me. He still enjoyed to mouse, minus the glass. Next it’s mini hamburgers with fresh home made lil baby sesame seed buns, they will have to wait till he gets home.

 

Oh all this homely baking reminds me of my cousing in the UK and how much i miss hanging out with her. I am visiting in under a month and just can’t wait to do some cooking in the kitchen with her and go out on the town. I am going to try on a dress tomorrow to take over so I can hit the party running and go out with some sort of style as she is so gorgeous already I have to make an effort so I don’t look too much like a homeless lady 🙂 oh I am so looking forward to it. She and my aunt looked after me when I went over for the first time as an adult and got sick. Even though being sick wasn’t  fun I really cherish the memory of the time I spent there and getting to know them both more. And their crazy crazy pets. But they aren’t as cute as my jet. Here he is with his cousins, Steve’s parents dogs, when we were babysitting them for
Steve’s parents trip. Have a happy week and go bake something to go with the sunshine 🙂