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 🙂


My own cake challange

May 28, 2011

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

As I’ve let others know on the DK website, I am unable to make this yummy sounding desert. Instead I’ll share pics of the celebration cake all my time this month has been dedicated to. It is to celebrate the conclusion of the volunteer ambulance service I used to belong to. As the metro expands, this country volunteer depot is now filled by paid staff. It’s a shame that the community members can’t help and volunteer here any more, but we’ll have fun celebrating with each other tonight.

 

The cake is a chocolate 4 layer cake layered with raspberry swiss meringe butter cream, from the recipe by sweetapolita’s site. Covered with choc ganache, rolled fondant, piped with some royal icing, be-ribboned, and hand painted details, as well as the crowning fondant figurines and model fondant ambulance equipment, and dead patient 🙂

 

hope everyone else enjoyed the rich marquise.


tasty mouse

April 27, 2011

Hi all

Here is my creation:

vegan maple mouse, using gelatine, not agar agar. I am trying the use of silken tofu in deserts due to the lower cholesterol benefit. I have eaten it fried in japanese food before, but never in a desert and was scarred. I made a base with a hazelnut almond and pecan pastry, precooked in the oven, and then the vegan maple mouse on top, 300g silken tofu, blended smooth, then with gelatine disolved in 1/2 c maple syrup and some lime juice to try and disguise the nutty flavour of the tofu. It ended up making a very thin cheesecake, and very sweet with the sweet pastry and the super sweet maple syrup in the mouse. Although I enjoyed it, not all the tasters could get through a whole slice due to the sweetness, but they all said they were happy to eat it, and it wasn’t tofu-y. I topped it with drizzled choc and some broken up nut brittle I’ve made to pack up for mum on mothers day.

Here are some cute pics of cupcakes I recently decorated too, consolation for the late photo entry:

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!


crunchy crisp potato cups

April 14, 2011

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I made some crispy (in places) potato cups. The idea was to make potato crisp style spoon shapes, which burnt to a crisp, but I had also used up some of the left over thin potato peelings into cups, layering them over mounded aliminium. These I salted lightly, sprayed with oil and baked in the oven. I had planned, if the spoon ‘crisps’ worked out, to top them with a savory cream cheese dip for snacking. However, the cups were still delicious, and after trying to run 7k yesterday (I am ever so slowly trying to get to a half marathon, ha! that’s a distance in the future) I woke up ravenous, and needed something substantial for breakfast.

The potato cups made a lovely gluten free alternative to toast, so I filled them with some bbq baked beans, boosted with bits of bacon, tomatoe, red onion and herbs, and had it along side a poached egg. Yum yum yum was all I could say, I even wished I had more!

Can’t wait for the challange of sweet edible containers, I’ve been keeping an eye on what’s been shared on the DK site and they all look impressive and lovely, and given me some yummy ideas on what to try.


Papa’s

March 14, 2011

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I got lazy with the papa’s and instead of making a filling from scratch I used a quite lovely (if I do say so myself) bolagnase sauce that I’d had on fresh pasta a few days before. I wasn’t really a fan of them, maybe I wasn’t really in the mood.  All I could think about while I was mashing the potatoes was how yummy they’d be just with a big glob of butter on it ….Mmmmmm. But my boyfriend, who often doesn’t like the ‘strange’ things I make from DK’s, despite being one of my taste testers, “approved” the meal. He is a man of simple tastes so mash and mince worked well for him.

Here’s a pic of the finished product with some beans. The raw fish of the challange did not sit well with me so I skipped that.


panacotta or milk jelly?

February 28, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I’m not sure what happened with my pannacotta. It seemed to set well. I followed Audax’s suggestions in his post to cool the cream mix at room temp before refrigerating and set some cream aside that was not heated, to make the panacotta extra creamy and relax the gelatine.

The panacotta was yum, and set well and creamy to taste, but there was a film of what I think was set milk, along with the settled vanilla seeds at the bottom of the glass. This didn’t taste bad or bland, but was really flavourful, like a jelly, so that’s what makes me think it was the milk. What made it separate? I don’t know. Everyone else seemed to like it. I topped it with a champagne jelly, which not everyone liked, including me, especially as I forgot to add sugar to the first bit that I put in. It was a vanilla champagne so I thought it would match the panacotta and I put in some berries. The berries alone would have been lovely with the panacotta, and I wish I’d left it at that.

I didn’t make the exact florentine recipe. It didn’t appeal to me. I’ve made florentines before and loved them, but they were made with more honey and held together lots of nuts and glace fruit, not like these plain ones in the recipe at all. I wasn’t going to make anything, but tried out an oatmeal choc chip cookie with pecans and cranberries later this month, so I’ve just included a pic of that to show I can bake biscuits!

Probably won’t make the panacotta again as I can’t figure out why it split and it seems a shame to make it when it’s not going to work well, even tho the taste was nice. An frankly, it’s just too fatty to think about, really something more of a special occasion that I would have it when I’m out to dinner, and then only once.


slurpy cool soba noodles

February 14, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

I’ve always been afraid to try soba noodles, the idea of something made with something as health and ick sounding as buckwheat really didn’t lead me to think too highly of it. But I’m glad I tried them in this challange. They were so easy and fast to cook and flavor with the dressing, and very tasty and cool for summer. Slurping them up from a pool of dressing and crunchy julienne vegies was a real treat to eat, I felt like such a kid again.

The tempura I wasn’t so fond of. I’ve had tempura before and liked it,  but this batter was limp and chewy. I know tempura is meant to be chewy as well as crisp, but this just wasn’t, even though I had my batter ice cold with ice blocks in it. It’s not tempura, but next time I think I’ll make my favorite extra crisp batter for the tempura: add to a bowl of flower 1 ice cold corona, and it is crunchy crisp batter.

I will enjoy making the soba again. Here are the dipping sauces to poor over your soba once you have cooked and rinsed according to the packet. I topped my noodles with julienne carrots, snowpeas, cucumber, nori roasted seaweed, sliced ham and egg white omelette strips:

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

Ingredients
2 cups (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

  1. Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

Ingredients
¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
ÂĽ teaspoon (1ÂĽ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each

Directions:

1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.