Monthly Archives: February 2014

red velvet cake

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I baked this on valentine’s day for my husband, it is a recipe from Annie Bells book. The first time I baked this I used 1/2 tsp but I didn’t feel I got the right dusky red color. Since then I have found that I use a tad more than 1/2 tsp of red color paste to get the rich dusky red.  My suggestion would be to start with 1/2  teaspoon and see how you go.

IngredientsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 For the cake

  • 120g unsalted butter diced
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 230g buttermilkOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 1 tsp find sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20g cocoa powder, sifted
  • Approx 1/2 tsp red food colour paste
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda

For the frosting

  • 180g unsalted butter softened
  • 150g icing sugar,sifted
  • 450g full fat cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 deg C fan forced. Butter two or three (if you have them) 20cm non stick cake tins. Line the bases with baking paper.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the flour in three batches alternating it with buttermilk so you start and end with flour. Next mix in the salt, vanilla and cocoa. Start to add the food coloring, a knife tip at a time, until the mixture is a dramatic dusky red. Mix the vinegar and bicarbonate soda together in a small bowl, they will fizz, and add to the batter.
If using three cake tins, divide the mixture between them, weighing them to ensure you get evenly thick sponges. (If using two tins, add a third of a mixture to each one, bake these and then bake the third one). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until shrinking  from the sides and firm when pressed in the centre. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack, remove the paper and leave to cool top upwards.

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Spinach Lasagne

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Last week I seemed to visit recipes from decades past. I have only ever cooked lasagne once before and that was 25 years ago.  It was such a disastrous experience that I never revisited it. Part of the reason my also be that I have an aunt that makes a mean lasagne so it was always easier to request her to make one. Anyway I decided to put aside my lasagne fears and attempt the same recipe and was I glad that I gave this recipe another shot.  It produced a lasagne full of flavour. Surprisingly it was very easy to make, thanks to freshly made pasta sheets. I used pork mince for this and went a bit easy on the cheese but the flavour of this lasagne was simply delish.

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Ingredients

  • 1 packet fresh lasagne sheets OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 250g packet frozen spinach
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 60g cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp oil extra

Meat Sauce

  • 500g mince steak or pork
  • 1 onion
  • 125g mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes

Cheese Sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • salt, pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 125g cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Method

Meat Sauce

Peel and finely chop onion, slice mushrooms finely. Place meat in a heavy based, shallow pan and brown, breaking any clumps of meat with a fork. Drain off any excess fat. Add onions, crushed garlic and mushrooms, cook until onion is transparent. Season with salt and pepper, add oregano, sugar and the tomato. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Uncover, simmer until sauce has thickened, approx 15 minutes.

Cheese Sauce

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg, blend until smooth. Stir over heat for 1 minute, gradually add mil, stir until sauce boils and thickens, reduce heat, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in grated cheeses, stir until cheese melts.

Place lasagne sheets over base of shallow ovenproof dish – 28cm x 18cm is ideal.   Pasta may have to be trimmed so it lies flat in the dish.  Spread half the meat sauce over the pasta and than cover with half the cheese sauce. (Both sauces are easier to handle if made the day before and refrigerated). Press as much liquid as possible from thawed spinach, speed evenly over cheese sauce. Top with two more pieces of trimmed pasta, spread with remaining half of meat sauce then cheese sauce. Top with remaining pasta. Sprinkle top with grated cheese, bake in moderate oven 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Traditional Bolognese

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Lately I have been in the mood to reminisce.  Here is another golden oldie. The first time I cooked a Bolognese was about 25 years ago. This is the recipe I used. The original recipe uses mince steak, but I use pork, lamb or steak and pork combined.

Ingredients
725 g mince steak or pork
1 large onion
2 tbsp oil
400g can peeled tomato
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
4 cups water
Salt,pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Method
Peel onion, chop finely. Cook in heated oil until onion is golden. Add mince, cook well, mashing with a fork to break up any lumps. Cook until mince browns well. Drain off any excess fat. Add tomatoes, herbs and tomato paste, water ,salt and pepper. 
When sauce comes to boil, reduce heat, cook very gently 1 1/2 to 2 hours, uncovered or until nearly all the liquid has evaporated.
Serve over spaghetti topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

Homemade Pizza

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Over the last 6 months, I have been trying my hand at baking sourdough bread thanks to my friend Ronnie, and I do turn out a kick ass sourdough.  Baking great bread does take a lot of experimenting, and I started this process at a more intermediate level because I had a friend handy to teach me.  Anyway I would like to bake different types of breads so I am starting again at a basic level to get a better understanding of yeast, flours etc.  This is a pizza recipe which tastes fab using basic dried yeast.  I will share my experiments with baking bread moving forward. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients 
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1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
7g dried yeast

NB: Makes one 30 cm/12 inch pizza

For the filling
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto
1 tbsp tomato paste 
150g mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 pun net cherry  tomatoes roughly chopped
1 small yellow pepper halved and sliced
50g prosciutto torn into pieces
8 fresh basil leaves
2 large garlic cloves
50g feta cheese crumbled
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
30ml grated Parmesan cheese

Method
Cream yeast and sugar, add lukewarm water, let stand 10 minutes or until bubble a appear on the surface. Sift flour and salt in bowl, makes well in centre, add oil and yeast mixture. Mix to a firm dough by hand.
Turn dough onto a floured surface, knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth
Place in a lightly oiled bowl , cover and stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in bulk. 
Knock back, punch down gently on lightly floured surface. Roll out pizza dough into a 30 cm round. Place in prepared pan. Mix sun-dried pesto and tomato paste and spread on pizza base. Arrange two-thirds of the mozzarella on top. Scatter with chopped tomatoes, pepper strips, prosciutto, feta, whole basil leaves and garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 220 deg C for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden and crisp.

Zucchini & Mustard Pickle

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I was at a coffee shop earlier this week and came across this recipe in a magazine. I decided to make it and it is rather nice.  Great on sandwiches and also as an addition to grilled meats etc. As the flavour sets in – it gets better
This one is for my mate Chris – he knows the value of a good pickle in a  sandwich.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Red onions
  • 2 tbsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 500g zucchini
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper 
Method
Peel, and slice onions. Place in a large bowl with salt, add mustard seeds and fennel seed. Combine and cover with boiling water.  Soak for ten minutes.
Drain onions but do not rinse.
Grate zucchini.  Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large wide pan, add onions, turmeric, and zucchini.  Cook on high heat for 2 mins.
Add white wine vinegar, sugar and a pinch of black pepper
Cook for 5-8 minutes till liquid evaporates.
Remove from heat and add oil.
Place warm pickle in a jar and store in the fridge.
 
NB: If you want to store the pickle for longer you will need to sterilise a jar.
Fill jar with boiling water, stand for 5 mins.  Drain water, the steam should dry off the jar.  Place warm pickle in a jar.  Store up to 3 months.
Once opened consume within 10 days.

Chocolate hazelnut muffins

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Ingredients
  • 21/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup Nutella
 
Method
Grease 12 hole( 1/3 cup capacity) muffin pan
Sift dry ingredients into large bowl, stir in butter, eggs and buttermilk
Spoon one-third of mixture into prepared pan, top with one level tbsp of Nutella. Top with remaining mixture. Bake in moderately hot oven for 20 minutes.

A recipe for Anushka – Chocolate Chip Biscuits

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My niece Anushka is my biggest fan.  At the tender age of nine – she is my best advertisement.  Not only does she spread the word about my blog to anyone she meets but she has also started to use it to advance her baking skills and that gives me great joy. This recipe is for you Anushka – hope you enjoy baking these yummy biscuits.  

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Ingredients

175g butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Method

Melt butter. Sift flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients. Add condensed milk, vanilla essence and melted butter to dry ingredients. Mix well until combined. Mix in chocolate chips. Roll heaped tablespoon of mixture into balls. Place on greased trays and flatten with a fork. Bake at 180 deg C for 15 minutes or until golden.

upside down peach cake

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Another easy recipe although the end product looks like a lot of effort went into baking this cake.  I served it with dollop of condensed milk ice cream. I didn’t have muscovado sugar so I used brown sugar instead.  The original recipe used apricot, and I think it would be great using pear or apples as well.
 
IngredientsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
For the peaches
  • 30g light muscovado sugar
  • 30g lightly salted butter, softened
  • 5-6 peaches halved and stoned
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For the cake
  • 150g light salted butter
  • 150g castor sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 125 ml milk
  • 200g plain flour sifted
  • 11/2 tsp baking powder
 
Method
Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C fan forced. To prepare the apricot base layer, cream together light muscovado sugar and butter in a bowl until light and fluffy.
Using your fingers, smear the mixture over the bottom of a 20cm non stick cake tin with a removable base.  Place the apricots cut side down on top of the butter and sugar mixture.
To make the cake, place the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the lemon zest.  Incorporate the milk, flour and baking powder. Spoon the mixture on top of the apricots, smoothing the surface.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden and skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Run a knife along the collar and leave the cake to cool for about 15 minutes. Place a plate on top of the cake tin and invert it, pressing the base down until the cake touches the place. Now carefully run a knife  between the base of the tin and cake till the tin lifts off.  Accompany with cream or ice cream.