Saturday, January 30, 2010

lazy Saturday morning

It’s a long weekend here in Auckland. As I’m not going away, I plan to use this time to resume my on-again-off-again relationship with Les (Mills). While deciding which class to attend, I started googling pancake recipes (!) and found this recipe that claims to make perfect pancakes. I convinced myself that the gym could wait and instead whipped up a batch of these.

It was pancakes for two this morning so I halved the recipe which still made plenty. I used a combination of milk and yoghurt rather than buttermilk which worked well. Just as the recipe states the pancakes were indeed fluffy and golden. I served them with brown sugar and lemon juice, apricots that I’d microwaved for a couple of minutes with a teaspoon of sugar (as they were a bit on the hard side) and of course the piako gourmet yoghurt that we’re still working our way through!

I’ll certainly make these pancakes again. However, I don’t recommend them if you’re planning on going to the gym – all they made me feel like doing was putting my feet up and reading the paper. Hopefully Les will still love me tomorrow...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

lemon and berries

Thanks to a generous hook-up we have several pots of Piako Gourmet Yoghurt in the fridge, so I thought I’d make my favourite lemon yoghurt cake. I normally wouldn’t cook with this yoghurt as it’s far too precious, but since we had so much of it I didn’t feel too bad. I used the berry flavoured yoghurt and also added some blueberries to the mixture.

The cake was lovely as always– nice and moist with a good lemon flavour. I normally make the cake in a ring tin, but Jane’s kitchen didn’t have one of these (I must remember that for her birthday) so I used a round spring form tin which required close monitoring to ensure the cake didn’t burn but was cooked in the middle. I was surprised that all the blueberries sunk to the bottom, but I guess in hindsight it makes sense given they’d be heavier than the mixture.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake - Alison Holst

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

frozen & fruity

Here in Christchurch we had some beautiful hot days over Christmas, which inspired me to haul out my ice cream maker and churn up some frozen treats. An ice cream maker is one of those pieces of kitchen equipment that seldom earns its keep...I bought my commercial style one a couple of years ago when I was selling puddings at the farmer's market and had visions of selling ice cream during the summer.

Given the cost of my machine it would be fair to say that the cost per batch of my homemade ice cream is still on the high side, but since making some lately I was reminded of how easy it it to make, especially when not using a custard based recipe which is more fuss. There are some really cheap machines on the market now too, which certainly do the trick.

The first ice cream is boysenberry, but you can use the recipe with any berries you like, or a mixture is good. I haven't tried making it without a machine, but it would probably work well too if you froze the mix and placed it in the freezer, removing after a couple of hours to beat some air into it.

Easy Berry Ice cream

500g berries
250ml milk
1 1/4 c sugar
250ml cream

Place berries and sugar in the food processor and mix until smooth. Pour in combined milk and cream mix and pulse until well blended. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn as per usual.

Another easy recipe we made was banana frozen yoghurt, delicious topped with chocolate sauce, but also really good on its own as a reasonably healthy treat. Banana flavoured foods are often quite fake tasting, (with the exception of Cyclop's banana yoghurt - so good!) so it is a nice thing to make yourself. This mixture froze really solidly so is best eaten freshly churned. It would work well poured into moulds to make ice blocks, or scooped into a smoothie with berries and banana.

banana frozen yoghurt (from Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion)

300ml greek yoghurt
350g banana, mashed
juice of 1 lemon
100g sugar
100ml water

Combine sugar and water and boil until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes, you should have about 1/2 cup of sugar syrup, cool. Place banana and lemon juice in the food processor and blend well until smooth, add the yoghurt and sugar syrup and blend again briefly to combine. Pour into ice cream machine and churn as per usual.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Birthday baking

It was my birthday last weekend so I did some baking to take into work for morning tea during the week. I made Rhubarb Custard Cake from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking and cupcakes using the blueberry cake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Either the cake or the cupcakes probably would have been plenty as there was already a Pandoro chocolate cake in the kitchen at morning tea time. Several people also seemed to be on post-Christmas diets but those that weren't managed polish everything off.

I followed Becs advice and doubled the quantities of rhubarb and custard and am glad I did. I also added extra milk to the custard once it had cooled as it was very thick and gluggy.

The flaked almonds are optional, but I think they finish the cake off nicely. The almonds are essential when cooking in my oven as it cooks very slowly and doesn't give cakes a nicely browned crust. The almonds hide it well.

Rhubarb Custard Cake (Tina Duncan) from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

200g chopped rhubarb
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp water

2 tbsp custard powder
2 tbsp sugar
¾ c milk
1 tsp vanilla

125g butter
¾ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
½ c sour cream
1 ½ c self-raising flour
½ c ground almonds
½ milk
flaked almonds

To prepare the rhubarb combine all three ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until tender, approx 4-5 minutes. Allow to cool

To prepare custard, place the custard powder and sugar in a saucepan and gradually add milk. Add vanilla and cook over a moderate heat until thick and smooth. Allow to cool.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake tin.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the sour cream. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and milk. Spread half the mixture in the base of the tin.

Drop spoonfuls of rhubarb and custard over the mixture. Cover with remaining cake mixture and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake for 1 hour, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin and then move to a wire rack.

For the cupcakes I halved the recipe for blueberry cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Making only half the recipe was a good decision – it made 18 cupcakes which was plenty. I was very pleased to have received a lovely new 12 cup muffin tray from Miriam for my birthday (until then I only had one six cup tray). Without this I would have been up all night baking the cupcakes in batches of six.

The blueberry cake recipe says to ice with cream cheese icing. I used lemon buttercream icing instead but think cream cheese would have been better. The buttercream was just too sweet.

Here's the full recipe for blueberry cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook:

350g unsalted butter at room temperature
350g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
450g flour
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp baking powder
280ml sour cream
250g fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla, flour and baking powder. Add the sour cream and mix well until everything is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy. Gently fold in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into a ring tin (or cupcake cases) and bake for 40 minutes (or 20 minutes if making cupcakes) or until the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave to cool slightly in tin before turning out onto wire cooling rack to cool completely. Ice when cold.

Lemon frosting
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
a couple of drops of yellow food colouring
25ml whole milk

Beat all ingredients except milk until well combined. Turn the mixer down low and slowly pour in milk. Once the milk is incorporated, turn the mixer speed up and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, at least five minutes.

a freshly baked delight

My contribution to the 'communal' blog has been rather limited thus far...due to the lovely Miss Daisy taking up most of my waking hours. She is now 12 weeks old and is busy doing lots of smiling and 'talking'. She loves visiting cafes and listening to Susan Boyle.

Perhaps in a few years Daisy will have some baked goods of her own to display on the blog, whipped up in her very own Daisy-sized Kenwood mixer. (Thank you Aunties Libby and Sarah!)

Battery operated, it is the real deal and comes complete with 3 attachments including a dough hook, and a recipe book featuring sponge cakes and souffles. In the meantime her involvement in things culinary has been restricted to hanging out in the front pack tucked behind my apron, but watch this space...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Berry & macadamia coffee cake

Today I’m embarking on a new adventure – having packed up my life in Wellington, I am on route to Auckland to return to life as a student (well an intern to be precise). Luckily my parents live in Rotorua, so I’ve been able to break up the car journey and stay with them for the night. I thought I’d whip up a cake to bring to my friend Jane who I’ll be staying with in Auckland. Being at home I’ve been able take advantage of the pantry ingredients that could soon be unaffordable for a poor student. (Dad did suggest that I might need to start a new blog called ‘poverty days’.)

This recipe comes from The Best of Annabel Langbein. I decided on this blueberry & Macadamia coffee cake as Annabel says it keeps well for a few days. As we had raspberries and boysenberries in the fridge that needed using, I added these to the recipe along with blueberries. The cake almost has 3 separate layers, with the base, berries and crumble topping – I’d be interested to see how it goes if the berries are mixed into the base a bit more. I probably slightly overcooked the cake, so will serve it with yoghurt to add some extra moisture, and extra berries too (next time I make this I’ll be more liberal with the berries). The macadamias add a nice crunch to the crumble topping – I love nuts in crumbles!

Blueberry & Macadamia Coffee Cake from The Best of Annabel Langbein

2/3 cup plain flour
½ cup tightly packed brown sugar
125g cold butter, chopped
½-1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
125g butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 ¾ cups self-raising flour
½ cup milk
1 punnet blueberries or blackcurrants

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm cake tin. For the topping – mix flour and brown sugar and rub in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Mix in nuts. Put to one side. For the cake – beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour and milk and combine evenly. Spread into prepared cake tin and sprinkle over berries and then topping. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Stand 15 minutes before turning out of the tin. Allow to cool before cutting.

Friday, January 8, 2010

making the most of summers bounty...

It’s Sarah here, younger sister of Becs and Libby (and Miriam!). I have decided to join the blogging bandwagon and write a guest post.

With summer deciding to take a break in Christchurch today, it seemed a good opportunity to try a couple of recipes I had been eying up.

Wanting to make use of the last of the season’s asparagus, the first is Asparagus and Rice Tart from Judith Cullen’s book Dinner in a Basket. This tart was enjoyed by all, with the combination of rice, cheese and asparagus proving delicious. Dad, not usually a quiche fan, even gave his seal of approval by helping himself to seconds. I do feel, however, that the tart could have down with a touch more seasoning to help bring out the flavours. We had the tart with a simple salad of lettuce, snap peas (both fresh from the garden!) and hazelnuts.

Asparagus and Rice Tart- From Judith Cullen’s book Dinner in a Basket
2 cups flour
125g unsalted butter

2 bunches asparagus
1/3 cup Arborio rice
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup Parmesan
¼ Havarti cheese
3 eggs
½ cup cream
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Process flour and butter in food processor. Gradually add 2-3 Tbs of cold water. Wrap dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out pastry to fit 24cm round or rectangular tart tin and chill again for 15 minutes. Bake blind at 200 OC for 15 minutes.

Blanch asparagus and refresh in cold water. Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 8 minutes, drain and cool. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Transfer to a bowl and add rice, cheese, eggs, cream, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into tart shell. Arrange asparagus on top of the tart and brush with olive oil. Bake at 180 OC for 15-20 minutes.
I received The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for my birthday back in May and this recipe for Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie caught my eye straight away. I decided with the abundance of fresh berries around, now was as good a time as any to finally make it. It was delicious for dessert and we decided the leftovers would be perfect tomorrow with coffee for afternoon tea. Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
200g dark chocolate roughly chopped dark chocolate
200g butter
250g icing sugar
3 eggs
110g plain flour

400g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Cream topping
300ml cream
100g icing sugar
150g raspberries,
Plus extra to decorate
Preheat oven to 170OC
For the brownie: Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Beat butter and sugar together in a cake mixer, then add eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in the flour, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. Pour into a prepared baking tray.

For the cheesecake: Put cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in mixer and beat until smooth and thick. Add one egg at a time, while still mixing. Spoon on top of the brownie and smooth over. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is firm to touch and golden around the edges. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours

For the cream topping: Put cream, sugar and raspberries in mixer and beat until firm but not stiff. Turn the brownie onto a board and spread the topping over. Decorate with extra berries.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Circle of choux

This is a favourite dessert that Mum often makes. It’s particularly nice at this time of year when there’s an abundance of berries and stone fruit to accompany it. It’s a light yet satisfying desert and never fails to impress guests. On this occasion we were entertaining the family Lewis – who all seemed to enjoy the circle of choux and left vowing to post their comments/feedback on the blog… comments (and followers) are what motivates a blogger, so I eagerly await these!

I use the Edmonds Chocolate Éclair recipe for the choux pastry:
1 cup water
75g Butter
150g flour
1 dessertspoon sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
4 small eggs

Bring butter and water to the boil. Add flour at once and beat. A tip from the Elkins family is to make sure the flour is ‘cooked’ for long enough until the mixture leaves the sides of the saucepan. Remove from heat, add sugar and vanilla and beat in the eggs one at a time. Place on a tray a sheet of baking paper that you have first scrunched up and run under cold water (this helps ensure the pastry rises and is light and moist). Put tablespoons of the mixture in a circle so they are just touching each other (I used a small plate as my outline). If there’s extra mixture left over add smaller spoonfuls to fill in any gaps. Bake for about 30 minutes at 200°C.

Once cooked, carefully cut the ring in half horizontally and lift off the top half of the ring. Fill the bottom half of the ring with cream, and any fruit of your choice - I piled on boysenberries and blueberries. Place the top back on and dust with icing sugar. I served this with a fruit salad of apricots, nectarines, mango and blueberries to which I added about a teaspoon of sugar and a good swig of sherry. Delicious!
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