Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin - chocolate eclairs

You know for many years i thought i hated chocolate eclairs. That firm texture that made them seem a bit stale with tasteless chocolate icing. Then a couple of years ago i realised the truth, i hate supermarket chocolate eclairs. My oldest sister is a fantastic baker and they are one of her specialties and a couple of years ago i gave one a try. My oh my had i been missing out on something! They are amazing, especially with an extra icing and the cream scraped out. I can almost hear your collective gasp, scrape the cream out! Yeh i'm just not a cream person and tend to scrape it off many things. Weird i know.

Anyway since my sister was recently here for a visit i begged a choux pastry lesson from the expert. Turns out it is pretty simple.

Chocolate eclairs

Choux pastry

45g butter
90g flour
3/4 C hot water
2 eggs

Put the water and butter into a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir quickly until well mixed and leave to cool. Add the beaten eggs one at a time beating well after each addition until the mixture is shiny.

Place spoonfuls onto a greased tray.Bake in a hot oven for 20 mins then poke a small hole with something like a knitting needle in each eclair to let the steam escape.
Then return to the oven for another 10 mins.

When cool ice with chocolate icing and fill with cream. 
I find these are better eaten on the first day you make them.

Done! Dessert time.

Melting together the butter and water  

A rolling boil.

 mix in all the flour and stir until it clumps together

 Adding in the beaten eggs, resulting in a glossy colour.

Whoops missed a picture here, but i placed spoonfuls on a tray and cooked them. 

The finished product
Don't they look amazing? They tasted amazing too.

Give this one a go for your next party and you will be very popular.
Take care people

Monday, 29 October 2012

Prickly cuteness

I have a soft spot for these prickly little critters. A nice surprise to see one while out for a twilight walk.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The week gone

A few pictures from the past week

~ Lumberjack cake, one of my favourite birthday cakes.
~ Sharing a slice with a friend willing to brave illness to come and share it with me on the day made it extra special.
~ Pumpkin pie pancakes from the nourished kitchen for breakfast
~ Some beautiful rose china to add to the set
~ Some stock finally cooked up and in the freezer for future meals.
~ (Not pictured) Kindle! Yah a baby kindle has been added to the family, awesome gift from the other half! I love real books but its nice to have a more portable option on occassion.

Nap time

Friday, 26 October 2012

Roasted pork hocks

For the past few weeks we have been on a mission to work through some of the excess in the freezer and the pantry. Digging around for inspiration in the freezer last week i came across 2 ham hocks. My first thought was soup but the other suggested we roasted them. A quick google search later and yes it appears you can indeed roast them.
So we picked out a recipe called Polish pork hocks and off we went.
First up you boil the pork hocks in a pot with veges, salt and vinegar for a few hours. After they were boiled i realised i hadn't burnt the hair off. Ick, i'm sorry i'm a totally towny there should not be hair on my food. So the other half got the job much to his delight as it meant he could do it with his butane torch.

A lighter probably would have done the job but no where near as much fun i suppose.

Then into the oven they go, i only basted them with honey and a sprinkle of salt.
40 minutes later, golden sticky pork hocks.

They were actually very tasty, the meat was tender and had a very mild ham flavour. A good change from the usual pea and ham soup. Also pork hocks are cheap to buy, so double bonus.

I hope you're all having a great week.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin - Vanilla custard

Monday was a public holiday here for us so my week is all messed up and i've just realised i forgot my usual Tuesday post for Sibyl's biscuit tin. So here it is a day late but no less tasty.

Who doesn't love custard, warm, sweet and comforting. But i have never actually made it from scratch. I've always used custard powder. But for the past few weeks i've been on a mission to use up only what's in my cupboard and no shopping except for the essentials. So when the need for custard with leftover birthday arose i stepped up to the challenge. Lol ok not really a challenge, actually super simple and amazingly delicious.

Vanilla custard

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cornflour
1/3 C sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla essence

Have the eggs in their own bowl ready to go. Dissolve the cornflour in a little of the milk, then add the rest of the milk and the sugar to a pot.
 Heat until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pot (this is called scalding the milk).

Stir frequently.
Then grab a whisk and remove the pot from the heat. Then quickly pour the eggs into the milk whisking continuously. Once the eggs are fully mixed in, return to the heat and warm until the mixture thickens. This takes a few minutes. Don't let the mixture boil or it may separate.
Once thickened remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla. 

If you end up with egg white flecks in the mixture you can push it through a sieve to remove them.
If you mix frequently when adding the eggs you should avoid this.

That's it, all done. Pour over cakes, puddings or fruit. Trust me you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy and delicious this is.

Yum lumberjack cake with warm custard. The perfect way to finish of a birthday cake.
Also perfect the next day with fruit and granola. The baby approved, he was shoveling handfuls in his mouth as the spoon was taking too long.

Have a great week and hopefully some delicious pudding!

Monday, 22 October 2012

A taste of spring - Lemon Syrup

On this horrible un-spring like day i thought i'd share a lovely summer drink to brighten your day. Many years ago my dad used to make up bottles of this lemon syrup concentrate each summer and fill the freezer with the bottles so we always had iced lemon cordial to take to the river. It was so nice that a couple of years ago  when i stumbled across the recipe again i started making it myself.

The recipe is so simple and is printed on the back of the citric acid packets over here. It only takes about 5 mins to make too.

Lemon Syrup

Makes 1.5 L of concentrate

3C sugar
1.2 L boiling water
2 T citric acid
Juice and rind of 3 lemons

Dissolve citric acid and sugar in the boiling water. Then stir in the lemon juice and rind.
All done, Store in the fridge or if like me you make multiple batches at once i often freeze a bottle or 2.

Dilute 1 parts syrup to 3 parts water.

Delicious chilled with ice or hot with honey. A refreshing twist is to make it with soda water and add some chopped fruit. Yum. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Give more this year for christmas

I have started donating to charities this year. I've done it in the past but just every now and then. Since having Cohen i have become more tuned into the world around me and particularly how harsh it can be at times. I've also come to realise just how blessed my life is and i want to share a little of that to hopefully help make things a little better in the world. 
What i really want to do is some volunteer work but i haven't been able to find the time to commit fully just yet. I also haven't found the right thing for me yet either. So instead, for now, i try to donate a little bit each month.
This month i decided to support Canteen, an organisation which supports young people, and their families, who are affected by cancer. It was one of those phone calls many of us get for fundraising efforts. It's a great charity so i made a donation and purchased some of their christmas cards. 

I recieved them today and i just wanted to share them with you all.

These are the cards, aren't they lovely? And a uniquely NZ christmas feeling to them. I didn't realise that on the back there was the story of each artist. Stories of young people affected by cancer. It was beautifully touching.

So if you are buying christmas cards this year i urge you to consider supporting this or other charities by purchasing theirs. Give more than just a picture this year.


Just to clarify, i recieve nothing for writing this post other than the hope of making things a little better in the world.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Little minds, Little tummies

I've been trying out a few fun activities with my little one lately. He is such a curious little boy and loves trying something new. One of his favourite activities is baking and he loves to stir ingredients and tip things into the bowl. So when i came across coloured rice on pinterest i thought he would really love it.
It's also super simple and only takes a few minutes to make.

Put dry uncooked rice in a bowl and a splash of food colouring 

 (as much or as little as you want to get the right colour)

Then mix well

Put in the sun to dry for a bit (about 30mins, stirring a couple of times)

Then i just poured some different colours into a container. Added pots, spoons and cups and away he went. He loved it stirring and pouring to his hearts content!
 I loved it too, it feel really nice to run your hands through rice, very relaxing.
And it's pretty to look at, never underestimate the pretty factor!

And if your little one is hungry after all that play try out a recipe i made up earlier this week.

Rice and vege cakes (Leftover special!)

1/2C leftover cooked rice
1/4C grated cheese
1 grated carrot
1/2C diced spinach or other greens
1 small diced tomato
(Think leftovers here and use any other veges, meat or pasta you have)

Add the rice, cheese and veges to a bowl and stir together.

1 egg
2T flour 
pinch salt

Mix well until it is thick and sticky enough to form a patty. If you think it's too wet add a little more flour, it will depend a little on the veges you use.

Form into patties and fry till golden on both sides ( about 4 mins a side).

These are delicious! I loved the slightly creamy texture. I made these for the bubba, but we ended up sharing them for lunch with tomato sauce for dipping.

Yummy and packed with veges. Double win.

Have a great week everyone.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Susan's biscuit tin - cereal slice

A slight change of name for the day in honour of my partners mum's recipe i will be sharing. What a fantastic time i have had sorting through these old recipes - custard pies, fudge slice, banana loaf and gingerbread biscuits to name a few.

I had trouble picking my first recipe to try out. I was looking for something for the boy's lunchbox and and came across cereal slice which sounded healthy right? WRONG! The title is where the health ends. Ok so there's rolled oats, coconut and weetbix in it, but there is also - wait for it - 250g of butter. Yup seriously just for one batch.

So what did i do? Made it of course, anything with that much butter is guaranteed to taste good.

Cereal slice

Melt together
250g butter
4 T honey

In a bowl mix together

2 C self raising flour
1 C sugar
1 C coconut
4 weetbix, crushed
1 C rolled oats
1 C sultanas

Add butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix well. 
Press in a slice tin approx 30cm x 20cm

Bake in a moderate (180C) oven for 20-25mins until golden brown.

Allow to cool, cut into small slices and enjoy.

This is more a special treat slice than an everyday one but the butteriness is delicious and reminiscent of many old baking recipes. Definitely worth a go, all the flavours of the oats and coconut really come out in this recipe. I reckon you could add in anything you wanted to this - nuts, dried fruit etc..

Hope you're having a great week.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Old favourites

Another busy weekend has passed but what a wonderful time we had. Time to catch up with family and chat the night away. So wonderful. I was also lucky enough on this visit to be able to get copies off my partners mums recipe book which was filled with old favourites. I don't know how many times i heard him talk about favourite meals from his childhood and how many recipes i needed to get. Well now i have the whole set!

Don't these recipes look well loved? I bet they taste pretty good too. So i'm looking forward to sorting through them all and deciding where to start first! I see some baking in my future.....

Saturday, 13 October 2012

{this moment} with Soulemama

{this moment} - With Soulemama  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin - bread pudding

Bread pudding is a great old fashioned way to use up your stale leftover bread. It's an even better way to use up stale leftover brioche. Yep i know i've got your attention now.

Such a classic recipe with so many interpretations. Although i love bread pudding i don't make it often and don't have a 'go to' recipe for it. I've tried many in the past, some were too eggy, some too milky, some didn't set well. But, Ladies and Gentlemen i think we have a winner!

From the Aunt Daisy baking book - Bread pudding

2 cups stale bread 
4 cups milk
1/2 C raisins
2 eggs, beaten until light
1/2C sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/4 t nutmeg

(the recipes says the spices are optional, i say they totally are not)

Soak the bread and spices in milk until  the bread is soft (about an hour)
Once soft, mash together
Heat together with the raisins until nearly boiling (i forgot to do this and just chucked it together cold)
Mix together eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.
Add to the bread mixture
Pour into a baking dish and bake until set, about an hour at 170 degrees C

The recipe also said to make this in a water bath - which means placing the baking dish filled with pudding  in a pan of water in the oven. This technique is designed to stop delicate ingredients such as milk and eggs separating or curdling while cooking. Again i didn't do this, partly because i didn't see that instruction in the recipe and partly because i had a screaming toddler on one hip trying to get this finished and in the oven.

Either way it still turned out fine, next time i might try the water bath and see what difference it makes. I'll be sure to let you know!

Brioche all shredded up

Soaking with milk and spices

The mixture before going into the oven.

Golden and ready to eat! This pudding isn't going to win any beauty pageants but it sure is a winner in taste. I  warn you now this is quite spicy so if you're not a spice person i'd half the spices. Or you could do what i did, read the recipe wrong and add 1/2t  instead of 1/4 t of nutmeg. Still amazing but very spicy.

The perfect comforting dessert to end a busy day.
Also the perfect breakfast start to your day
 (hey why not! the food police probably don't know where you live...)

Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Braised chicken Sunday

Such a nice day, the weather started out a bit suspect but the sunshine held out long enough for a family walk to the farmers market. That was great for many reasons, delicious food, fresh veges, cheeses and bread. plenty to make the perfect lunch. It was also great because we needed to buy some seedlings for the garden.

We were doing so well this year and had our seeds planted weeks ago to prepare for an early start on the garden. All was going great until we planted our little seedlings out last week and they nearly all got eaten! I kid you not, overnight we lost about half and within a few days many more. We believe the culprit was slugs so off to buy more slug bait we went. Totally gutting, so to get a head start on the season we decided to purchase a few larger seedlings and sow some more seeds for a second round.

So today was about planting.

And a little weeding. Here's hoping these ones don't get eaten!

There was also some time to put a nice braised chicken on for dinner. I'm really into braises at the moment, the way the flavours all melt together in the pot. Not to mention the way you can chuck it in the oven and ignore it till dinner time. Love that.

Braised whole chicken

1 chicken
1 onion
10 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
kumara (pumpkin would work too)
1/3 C sherry
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
2 C chicken stock
1 bay leave
1/2 C flour
 1/2t salt
1/4 t pepper

Mix together flour salt and pepper and coat the chicken. Fry the whole chicken in a little oil to brown the skin. Once browned add in the onion and garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.

I have a cast iron pot so i can fry on the stove top and then transfer it straight into the oven. But if you don't have one just use a fry pan.

Then transfer to an oven dish and add in the sherry, vinegar, stock, kumara and bay leaf. Cover and put in the oven for about 1 1/2hrs or until the chicken is fully cooked. Take the lid off for the last 10 mins and the chicken will brown up a bit and reduce the liquid.

I didn't have time to brown the chicken much but the flavours were delicious. 

The kumara soaks up the flavours and the whole garlic cloves just melt in your mouth. I think the only thing i would do differently would be to reduce the liquid more and maybe thicken it, but it was still amazing. This recipe is here to stay.

Hope you had a great weekend in your corner of the world.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Lights are on but no-ones home

There has been no blogging for me lately and no reading of blogs either.Work has been on my mind lately. I'm either working or thinking about it. It's a space i hate to be in, hard decisions to make with no clear path but a distinct uneasiness that maybe i'm not doing the right thing. So currently i'm waiting for a clear path through it all, here's hoping it comes soon. I hate this feeling that although i'm physically here my mind is always elsewhere. So much is missed and the worry cycle continues. I think i need some space to breathe, center and allow my mind to clear a little. I thought i'd come and touch base with you all and share a few photos i took recently.
- success with sourdough!
- the view i see most these days
- a $2 bag of fun! pegs are the best toy, add in a small container with a hole cut in the lit for posting and you have a silent bubba for a least 20 minutes. Bliss,

Hopefully your week is a little more settled than mine.

Take care people and hopefully i will be more present this week in every sense. xxx