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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Muscat Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

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This is a versatile recipe as it can be made in different sizes, served as a dessert or just as a treat. It’s quite easy to make – another food processor mixture which I love! The most time consuming aspect is soaking the raisins beforehand.

Ingredients

1 cup of raisins

1/4 cup muscat

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

A handful of chopped walnuts

Muscat syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 water

1/4 cup muscat

 

Method

Place the raisins into a bowl with the muscat and leave to soak for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. For small cakes, grease a muffin tin. Or, for a larger cake, grease a 20cm round cake tin. I happened to have a small square tin on hand, so I used that, as well filling the remainder of the mixture into muffin molds.

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Put all the ingredients except raisins, muscat and walnuts in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Carefully fold the raisins and muscat and then the walnuts into the mixture. If the mixture looks too wet or sloppy, add a tablespoon or two more of flour.

Spoon mixture into the muffin tin or cake tins. Tap lightly to settle the mixture.

Place the tin/s in the oven and bake for 20 minutes for muffins,  35-4o minutes for the round cake tin or until the muffin/cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I cannot be more  precise than this as the mixture has a lot of liquid and it’s difficult to judge exact cooking times.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan, stirring until dissolved. Then boil for 5 minutes without stirring or until the the syrup has reduced to stickiness but not toffee. Take off the heat and add the muscat.

Remove the muffins/cake from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour over the hot syrup.

Cool the muffins/cake in the tin/tins. Turn out carefully as the the cakes can be quite fragile with the infused syrup.

Serve with a scattering of raisins and walnuts in any left over syrup.

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Salted Praline Ice Cream

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This is an incredibly easy recipe to make – no-churn ice cream in minutes, plus  of course the obligatory freezing time!

Whipped cream, egg yolks and egg whites, sugar and flavourings and you have the basis for a scrumptious ice cream. In this case, the flavour is salted nutty caramel in the form of crushed praline. The sea salt offsets the toffee sweetness really well.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs, separated
7 tbsp caster sugar, divided in half
1 tbsp boiling water
1 1/2 cups cream
Pecan praline, crushed into small and larger pieces

Method

Line a medium sized plastic container with cling film or 4 ramekins or small molds.

Beat the egg whites until frothy then add  3 1/2 tblsp of sugar and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy and of a meringue like consistency. Remove the mixture to another bowl. Using the original bowl – no need to clean –  beat the egg yolks, remaining 3 1/2 tblsp  of sugar and boiling water until the mixture is really thick and pale.

In a third bowl whip the cream till it holds soft peaks.

Gently fold first the egg yolk mixture into the cream, then the egg white mixture, being careful not to knock too much air from the mixture. Lastly fold in the crushed praline pieces.

Pour the ice cream mixture into the container or ramekins, and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer, and gently unmold onto a plate, peeling off the plastic  wrap.

Serve as individual ice creams or as scoopfuls from the larger mixture. Decorate with shards of praline.

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 Pecan Praline

Heat 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Be careful not to stir the sugar – tilt the saucepan to help melt the sugar. Cook for several minutes until the sugar turns a deep caramel tea colour and take off the heat. It’s a fine line between toffee that’s cooked and toffee that’s burnt! *

Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt flakes and pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Quickly scatter over a handful of chopped pecans.

Leave to cool and harden. When completely cold, place the praline in a ziplock bag and bash into pieces with a mallet or rolling pin. Make sure you have small fragments, larger pieces, and some large shards for decoration.

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*Tip for cleaning the toffee saucepan: fill the pan with water and heat on the stove top till just boiling. Turn off heat and leave for a few minutes – the hardened toffee should hopefully dissolve making the pan easy to clean.

 

 

 

 

Save with Jamie: Mexican Chilli Beef

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*For an updated version of this dish please see my 2015 post.

This is a great recipe for lovers of slow cooked food! it’s from Jamie Oliver’s book Save with Jamie:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/books/save-with-jamie

It’s a Mexican chilli dish made with slow cooked shin of beef rather than minced steak.

I’m a HUGE fan of shin beef, and cook with this cut regularly. It’s perfect for casseroles and stews, any dish that needs long slow cooking.

In this recipe Jamie cooks the beef bone in, in one piece. This creates a real depth of flavour. At the end, when removing the bone, you scrape out the bone marrow into the dish for that extra burst of flavour.

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It’s a really easy dish to prepare – nothing complicated – but it takes time. 5 hours cooking. Perfect for a wet weekend when you are staying indoors anyway.

My comments are that I lowered Jamie’s original oven temperature of 170 degrees C to 150 degrees C. If you are cooking for 5 hours you want the temperature nice and low.

Also, my casserole was not as “liquidy” as Jamie’s. Next time I will add a little more water or some more tinned tomatoes to the mix, or cook for slightly less time.

Ingredients

Chilli

Olive oil

2 red onions

4 cloves of garlic

2 fresh red chillies ( the large, not so hot ones – or more if you want more heat)

30 g fresh coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tomato tins of water

1 kg beef shin, bone in, sinew removed

2 fresh bay leaves

1 x 400 g tin of cannellini beans

Rock salt and freshly ground pepper.

Salsa

1 green pepper

4 spring onions

150 g cherry tomatoes

Splash of extra virgin olive oil

Splash of white wine vinegar

Fluffy basmati rice and fat free yoghurt (to serve)

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C.

Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole on the stove top on a medium heat. Add swig of olive oil to the pan. Add chopped red onions and minced garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add chopped chillis and the roots and stalks of the coriander, leaving the tops for the salsa and garnish. Add the spices and a good grind of salt and pepper. Fry till the mixture is caramelized and gnarly, but not burnt.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, fill each tin with water and add these to the casserole. Stir to mix, making sure you gather up all the goodness at the bottom of the casserole.

Roll the shin of beef in salt and pepper to coat, then place gently in the centre of the casserole. Turn to coat in the liquid. Pop the bay leaves into the mixture.

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Place the lid on the casserole and move to the pre-heated oven. Cook for 5 hours. I suggest checking after a couple of hours, and then each hour, to make sure the liquid is not drying up. As I mentioned, my chilli could have done initially with more liquid, or half an hour’s less cooking time to retain more moisture.

Meanwhile, empty the tin of cannellini beans into a frying pan with a swig of olive oil, and fry for a couple of minutes until some of the beans split.

Remove the casserole from the oven, and add the cannellini beans.

To make the salsa,  blitz the green pepper, spring onions, cherry tomatoes and most of the coriander tops in a food processor. Put into a bowl with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar.

Serve the Mexican chilli with the salsa, fluffy rice and yoghurt, and coriander leaves to garnish.

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Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

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Cupcakes are a current sweet favourite at the moment – mostly because they are really easy to make and also because I am trying to teach myself how to pipe icing. Not a quick process but I’m starting to get the hang of it!

These cupcakes have raspberries in the mixture. They are coloured with some lovely bright pink/red food colouring. The icing has red fondant mixed through plus a touch more red food colouring. I decorated with a few crystallized rose petals.

Ingredients

Cupcakes

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

Handful of frozen raspberries

Raspberry Buttercream Icing

50g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tblsp raspberry fondant

A drop of red food colouring

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Method

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a muffin tin with cup cake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the milk and raspberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Carefully fold in the raspberries.

Spoon mixture into the cases, filling the cases equally.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Ice  with the raspberry buttercream icing.

Raspberry Buttercream Icing

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add the lemon juice, raspberry fondant and a drop of red food colouring, beating continuously.

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Blood Orange Mini Cakes with Blood Orange Toffee

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Blood oranges are in season now in August in Sydney, and there is almost a spring-like feeling in the air!

I love the colour and sweet juiciness of the fruit. They are so more exotic than other oranges.

I wanted to feature them in a cake, and decided to use my little cake molds with detachable bottoms. They’re a bit bigger than regular muffin molds and their straight sides make attractive cakes.

I featured blood oranges in the cake mixture, the buttercream and the toffee decoration.

The cake is simplicity itself – made in the food processor. I could call it the “curdled” cake as the mixture is completely curdled until you add the flour! Don’t worry, it all comes together in the end!

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Cakes

Ingredients

2 blood oranges

125g very soft butter

200g sugar

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease some little cake tins or muffin molds. You should get 6 – 8 cakes depending on the size of mold you use. Alternatively, grease a 20cm cake tin for one larger cake.

Chop the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.

Add the butter and sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!

Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.

Fill the molds/ cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes for the smaller cakes or 45 minutes for the larger cake, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in molds/tin before removing to a wire rack.

Buttercream Icing

Ingredients

100g softened butter

200g icing sugar

Juice of ½ blood orange

Method

Cream the butter, icing sugar and blood orange juice with an electric mixer or you can also use the food processor, to make a stiff but spreadable icing.

Blood Orange Toffee

Ingredients

3 tblsp caster sugar

Juice of ½ blood orange

Method

Heat the sugar and blood orange juice in a heavy based saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil without stirring for 10 minutes or until a spoonful of mixture cracks when you drop it in a glass of cold water. Pour onto baking paper on a baking tray to set; break into shards when cold.

Ice the cakes/cake with the buttercream icing and decorate with the toffee shards.

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Strawberry and Lemon Cupcakes

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These little cup cakes are dead easy! The recipe is basically Nigella Lawson’s from her book How to be Domestic Goddess. It all happens in the food processor!

Ice however you like – I chose a strawberry buttercream with real strawberries and a lemon glaze. My piping skills are pretty bad – something I need to learn to perfect!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

75g strawberries

1 tsp lemon juice

50g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

Lemon Icing

2 tblsp lemon juice

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing.

Method

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a muffin tin with cup cake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the milk in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Spoon mixture into the cases, filling the cases equally.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Ice half with the strawberry buttercream and the other half with the lemon icing.

 Strawberry Buttercream Icing

Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor and whiz to purée.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then gradually add the strawbewerry purée, beating continuously.

Lemon Icing

Mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar in a bowl until you achieve the desired consistency.

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Glen Davis, Capertee Valley: Mine Abandon

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Between towering sandstone escarpments in the Capertee Valley, lies a curious ruin.

A shale oil mine, first founded in 1891as the MP1 Mining Development, was later revived as National Oil Proprietary Limited, from 1940 to 1952. What remains is a series of ruins, a testament to a failed vision and also to the endurance of those who persevered with the troubled conditions, logistical, financial and political.

I toured the mine ruin on a visit to the Capertee Valley, west of the Blue Mountains. It was a beautiful, crisp winter day. The light was intense, emphasizing the sheer craggy walls of the escarpment, which enclosed the mine ruins with almost a sense of claustrophobia.

Our guide was affable, loquacious and informed. A storyteller, he regaled us with curious stories of these curious ruins; shocking workplace accidents, awful living and working conditions and a spectral figure caught on film.

My companions described the landscape as post apocalyptic, Planet of the Apes, a moonscape –  some apt descriptions.

However I can’t quite put my finger on the atmosphere. There was no doubt that the pristine day only served to accentuate the foreboding of the valley: there was indeed an other world sense, shadows and intuitions of past difficulty and trouble, hard times and futility.

What was evident was the encroach of nature, the land reclaiming its own. Entropy had set in.

A fascinating and startling landscape to visit.

There is plenty of material to read on the internet. Some interesting photos, some historical, can be found at: http://web.aanet.com.au/bayling/glendavis.html

Below are some photos. I have not tried to order or to name, but rather to give the “feel” of the place. The above website is helpful in identifying some of the ruins.

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