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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fun Times in Sydney

Well I'm back from my adventures across the water. We had a great time, shopping, site seeing, boat riding, going to luna park (you know it's awesome) and learning a thing or two about the place:

1. Banana bread is EVERYWHERE in Sydney (this is not an exaggeration)
2. There are hardly any cafe's 
3. No-one is over size 12
4. There are no public toilets

Four things which proved to become a little annoying as time went on. Particularly the toilet thing. Even restaurants seem to lack toilets. Have any of you noticed this?

We also did a lot of eating, finding mostly Asian food. A little unexpected at first, but when you see that China Town takes up a large part of Sydney it's not too surprising.

We had our first meal in China Town where we were literally bombarded by people trying to get us into their restaurants. We ended up settling for this which was from one of the many food carts on the road:

Which looks tasty, yes. But it wasn't. Jo's (the top one) was soya noodle knots which were incredibly bland and mine was noodles with coriander and about 10 tablespoons of different types of liquid that came out of suspectable squeezy bottles.

We learn't fast not to go back. However, it did rate higher than my last dinner in Sydney which was from a Korean restaurant, where my chicken was served stone cold and filled with bones and blood. Not so ideal. Jo let me share her dinner which was thankfully very tasty.

We did manage to find something to satisfy our westernized palates however. It was potentially the tastiest meal we had during our entire stay. It was salty, greasy, delicious, and brought sweet memories of home. Yes, believe it or not, our favourite meal happened to be this:

Fish and Chips (feesh and Cheeps). I know right, the only thing we really loved was fish and chips. How cultured and 'out there' are we? If it helps, we were ravenous.

From throwing up in the rubbish bin at luna park (Jo, not me), to finding my dream boots at half price, to cart-wheeling outside the Opera House, Sydney was great. A must see for all.

Let me know if you ever plan to go there - I'll be sure to give you the details of the Korean place so you don't get disappointed with cold, bloody chicken too :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

tinned muffins

Sounds wrong doesn't it? Tinned muffins. But that's exactly what I made. Muffins in a tin.
I think I originally got the idea from the cookbook Gran's Kitchen a while ago. But it is certainly not a new idea. I think Women did it a lot during the war when there wasn't much access to bakeware. Genius really.

I made peach and banana crumble muffins. Unfortunately I didn't write the recipe down as I made it, but you can use any muffin recipe you like.

I filled two tins about 3/4 full, then poured the rest of the mixture into normal muffin tins. Unfortunately I became a bit impatient and didn't wait long enough for the muffins to cook in their tins. One worked out well, the other not so well. So I'd advise you to be more patient than I was and wait.

Here's what they look like:

I suggest putting the jug on, then slicing these babies, smothering them generously with butter. Once the jug is boiled, make a cup of tea and drink it with a few slices of muffin.  Slices of muffin. Sounds a little strange hmm?

Well I am off to Sydney for a week with my lovely friend Joanna, so you may or may not hear from me whilst I am away. We hope to have a merry time exploring the merry or not so merry things Sydney has to offer. I especially can't wait to check out the food scene there. Any suggestions?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Not quite Martha's, but still dandy

If you haven't had a high tea before, then you really must. Especially a Martha's Pantry High Tea. I had wanted to celebrate my birthday there yesterday but they were all booked out. I guess that's what you get if you're a little dis-organised like me. So instead I decided to have my own at the flat. Thanks to the lovely Sophia and my flat mates, we got baking and tea making to enjoy a lovely high tea with lovely people. 

I remembered to take photos before people came...then they started arriving, I got chatting and completely forgot... Sorry. Useless I know. We had lots of pretty tea cups and scrummy cakes and scones and lemon meringue can see some of the pretty cups in the photos, but for the rest, your'll have to use your imagine. 

Maybe I'll be more organised next year for a birthday high tea at Martha's. I promise I'll remember to take more photos.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lemon Curd

Mmm sweet, sweet lemon curd. I was brought up on this stuff. Whether it was a lumpy egg white version given to us from a relative or a thick and creamy version home-made by my mum or a family friend, we usually had a jar of this on tap. And straight to the jar with a spoon we would go! (Bad habits taught to me and my siblings by my dad - yes dad, I'm blaming you).

I've been at home crook this week and something inside me told me I needed lemon curd - nothing like a little nostalgia to make you feel better. I had never made it before, perhaps because it was always in the fridge or maybe I had been put off by people telling me how tricky it can be and how impossible it was to not to get the white lumps. Those people were wrong. It's surprisingly easy, especially if you use a little trick, my mum taught me.

All you need is:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
200g butter, diced evenly
4 eggs, gently whisked to combine

- In a pot, combine sugar, juice and butter. Place over a medium heat and stir until butter has melted. Bring this to the boil. 

- Prepare a larger pot of water to the boil. 
- Add the eggs to the butter mixture and whisk like crazy. 

- Place this pot on top of the larger pot of boiling water and stir until the lemon curd thickens. Once cool, pour into jars. It keeps in the fridge for 10 days.
Makes 2 cups.

If you have the pesky white bits showing from the eggs, you can sieve the curd to get rid of them - a handy hint from my mum.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this velvety goodness, here are a few ways you can eat it:

- Smothered on toast (esp. yummy with bananas and yoghurt)
- As a topping on ice cream
- Stirred through a creamy un-sweetened yoghurt
- A filling in sweet pies e.g. lemon meringue pie
- Getting your paws straight in there with a spoon (or no spoon...)


Monday, September 20, 2010

Baking Date

My friend Sophia and I have something in common. We love to bake. So much so, that we actually have dates where we do just that. Don't judge us. It's a fantastic night really. It involves a trip to the supermarket to get pumpkin soup and garlic bread (special stuff, not the one wrapped in tinfoil), and perhaps some cheese and crackers then back to mine where we get busy in the kitchen, followed by a dvd whilst eating whatever we've made. Bliss.

She came around a while ago and we made this AMAZING Lemon Cheese Pudding. It was so incredibly delicious that we made it again the other night. The name of this pudding is a little deceiving however, as it contains no cheese. In fact, the thing I love the most about this recipe, is that it contains no 'special' ingredients at all and yet it tastes so darn good. I think it might be one of those really old-school Edmonds recipes. Ah Edmonds.

Anyway you're probably wondering how to make this wee slice of heaven. Here goes:

Lemon Cheese Pudding


1 tbsp butter          Rind and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar         1 cup milk
2 tbsp flour            2 eggs (separated)
A pinch of salt

The how-to:

- Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Boil a half- full kettle of water. 
- Beat egg whites until stiff. 
- Cream butter and sugar. 
- Add flour, salt, lemon (rind and juice) milk and egg yolks (Ooo, plus I think a few added tablespoons of coconut would go down nicely at this stage. Give it a go?)
- Pour mixture into three ramekins, or a large dish (ramekins are way more fun) and place these in a pan of boiling water for 15 minutes (longer if in large dish).

Serve with greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

Heaven in a ramekin I tell you. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

K & S

So it turns out being engaged makes for a pretty busy lifestyle. Party after party, email after email, fabric shopping, dress hunting, venue hunting, card making...

It's such a tough life isn't it?

Although it's busy, it sure is a lot of fun. I totally recommend joining the band wagon- everyone's doing it. You might want to find yourself a decent other-half first however...

Last weekend we had our Wellington engagement party which was for all our wellington folk. My bridesmaid, kindly made some cute cupcakes for the occasion. They were decorated with pretty sprinkles and signed with K & S (Kevin and Sarah) on them. Unfortunately I didn't get any close up pictures of the wee gems on my camera but you can get the idea from these photos.

Ahem, yes. A little grossed out? So am I. Especially at Kev's sifty pose. Sorry... Maybe just feast your eyes on these for a second to rid yourself of such horrid things. I don't think Kev knows I'm posting these photos on here. Maybe don't tell him.

Hope you all have a swell weekend.x

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pumpkin and a whole lot of pie

So this was a pie that resulted from my indecisive nature. I wanted pie and cheesecake and couldn't decide between the two, so decided to merge them. It didn't go too horribly wrong but it did turn out a little unexpectedly...

I based the pie/cheesecake using a recipe from AWW: Bake, combined with a cheesecake base, then to top it off I created a wee concoction of nuts, chocolate and sugar as a scrummy topping. Confused? Here's the how to:

Made the Crust/base: 
1 packet of plain biscuits (I used Malt) 
250g Butter, melted

- Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius. Process together in a food processor. Press into a tin/dish of desired size. 

Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Make the filling:
2 eggs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

1. Beat eggs, sugar, maple syrup in a small bowl with an electric beater until thick. Stir in pumpkin, milk and spices. Once base has set pour in the filling.

Place in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. 

While this is in the oven combine the topping:
1 cup nuts, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Combine ingredients and mix together.
After 20 minutes, sprinkle this topping over the pie. Cook for a further 25-30 minutes or until cooked. You may find you need to place some tin foil over the pie to prevent nuts from burning.

So there you have it: Pumpkin pie/cheesecake. Though I think it's more of a pie. Would you agree?
I was surprised to see that the base swelled considerably, giving a thick edge instead of a thin one as most cheesecakes have. Not too sure why this was. Maybe I'll need to make it again. Maybe you should make it and tell me how yours turns out?

I am sure, however, that it was super tasty. I think I will make again. Its very morish so if you do decide to make it too, be warned...

As for the next pumpkin recipe, I no longer have any pumpkin to use! This pie used up most of what was left and then my flat mate used the remaining bit in a yummy roast vege and couscous salad. Sorry I don't have any pictures of that to show you, but I can assure you, your pumpkin won't be wasted on such things. 

So there we have it. Five ways with a pumpkin. Now you have a few pumpkin recipes under your belt for the next time you arrive home from the supermarket holding a pumpkin. 

Yum. Thanks pumpky for delivering deliciousness every time. Now what? 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pumpkin meets pancake and oh, something to tell you...

Third pumpkin recipe: Pancakes. Pumpkin in pancakes. A little strange huh? But totally delicious. I came across the recipe when I was browsing through one of my favourite blogs,  Joy The Baker. She really is great.
She found the recipe from Martha Stewart which can be found here.

A few friends came over to eat them with me. They were skeptical of the pumpkin in a pancake too before they had their first was I. But they were so yum! A must try by all. Do it.

My pumpkin is shrinking fast:

And in other news...

In case you didn't quite catch that, that's a ring on my finger. My ring finger that is. YES, the boy popped the question and now we're engaged! I've been dying to tell you but had to wait until all the fam-dam, and close friends knew first.

So I'm a tad bit excited at the moment. You'll have to excuse my giddiness for a wee while, because I think it's going to linger for some time until the excitement wears off. Yippeee, wedding plans here we come!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pumpkin and Date Muffins

The other night I was lying on the couch flicking through AAW: BAKE, when my flatmate said: "So, do you usually read cook books for fun?" To which I replied, "I don't read them all the time..."

I think I may have an obsession with food and cook books. Please tell me reading through cook books in not geeky? Ok, so it may be a little geeky. Which means I must be a little bit of a geek. Thats okay. I can deal with that. Maybe its time for all the Sneans-wearers out there to stop hogging all the geekiness share a little with us. Yes, you too. I'm sure we're all geeky in our own way. Don't deny it. 

In fact, if it wasn't for flicking through AAW I wouldn't have got the idea for my next pumpkin recipe:  Muffins. Pumpkin and Date muffins that is. I know you're thinking I could have come up with that on my own, as muffins don't sound too adventurous, BUT its been a while since I made these and whoa did I miss them.
And for all those fussy 'dater's' our there, you don't have to use them but could substitute chocolate, or raisins, or nuts, or anything that tickles your fancy. Here they are:

Pumpkin and Date Muffins

2 cup plain flour                    1 egg
1/4 soft brown sugar             1 cup mashed pumpkin
3 tsp baking powder             1/2 cup yoghurt/milk
1 tsp cinnamon                     1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg                      1/4 Canola oil
1/2 cup dates, chopped

Pre-heat fan forced oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a muffin pan (mini, medium or large).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and spices into a bowl. Add sugar and stir together with a whisk or fork to aerate the mixture. 

In a separate large bowl, slightly beat the egg. Add the pumpkin, yoghurt/milk, vanilla and oil. Mix to combine. 

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. 

Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Served warm for breakfast with yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup is pre-tty tasty, or as a snack, or whenever your taste buds would like to savour a sweet, soft, fluffy pumpkin goodness. 

So there we have it. About 2/5ths of pumpky gone. What will be next? Not too sure yet. Stay tuned to find out.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How many ways with a Pumpkin?

Oh pumpkin, oh pumpkin, how I love you. You're versatile, you're delicious, and you're...CHEAP.

I was going to do my usual half -a-pumpkin purchase when I decided to branch out and buy a whole pumpkin. I know, big deal right? - A whole pumpkin. This baby was a whopping $2.49. Not as cheap as the Vege Markets, but still pretty cheap huh?

This pumpky got me pondering. Just how many things could one make with a whole pumpkin? I thought I'd put it to the test and keep you posted in the process.

I started tonight by making this: which used about 1/8th of the pumpkin.

I know, I know, mashed pumpkin reminds me of baby food too. BUT, it was scrummy. Especially with the additional dollop of maple syrup added in the end...

So there we have it. About 1/8th of my pumpkin gone.

That's still a lot of pumpkin left to create some more pumpkin deliciousness. Yusss.

p.s. I think this must be the first savoury meal I have posted on my blog. Fancy that?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Lace Crisps

It was the daintiness of the title that attracted me to making these 'crisps'. A crisp biscuit that would perhaps be served on fine china-ware for a special afternoon tea. I didn't have a special afternoon tea to attend, but I did have one of these tasty crisps to eat at afternoon tea time. They were crunchy, delicate and a little decadent.

The recipe is from the Australian's Women's Weekly "BAKE" cookbook. I bought this a few months ago and love it. It has it all.

Here is the recipe for these little dainty gems:

100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
80g butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup (150g) pain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 (40g) icing sugar

1. Melt chocolate and butter in small saucepan over low heat.
2. Transfer chocolate mixture to medium bowl: stir in caster sugar, egg, sifted flour, cocoa and soda. Cover: Refrigerate 15 minutes or until mixture is firm enough to handle.
3. Pre-heat oven to 180/160 degrees Celsius fan-forced. Grease oven trays: Line with baking paper.
4. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls, roll each ball in sifted icing sugar.

Pace about 8cm apart (they grow big) on trays.

5. Bake crisps about 15 minutes, cool on trays.

Makes about 20

Mmm afternoon tea delights.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Banana and Raspberry French Toast Goodness...

I was a big hater of french toast growing up. In fact I was a big hater of most food growing up. You'd think I was a different person.

There seem to be so many different ways to make french toast these days, it's pretty much not possible to dislike it. Brioche, bread, muffins, croissants, french stick - you name it, it's all good.

Being the great girlfriend that I am* I made my boyfriend french toast in the weekend. It could be filled with nearly anything. Nutella would be especially good I think. I just stuck to using Raspberry jam, a good dollop of butter and sliced banana as well as a touch or more of maple syrup..

Maybe you'd like to surprise a special someone with this sweet goodness too?

Banana and Raspberry French Toast

You will need:
2 slices bread/brioche/muffins/whatever tickles your fancy!
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
vanilla essence
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1 banana, sliced
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar
maple syrup

How to:

Whisk eggs together well. Add milk and vanilla. Spread jam and butter on both pieces of bread. Top one slice of bread with sliced banana then place the other piece on top. Press down together. Soak sandwich into egg mixture, making sure all bread is completely covered.

Heat a dollop of butter in a frying pan, making sure the pan is not too hot (if butter turns brown, pan is too hot). Once the right temperature, place the sandwich on the pan. Cook for about five minutes on each side until golden brown.

Meanwhile, place frozen berries in microwave until soft. Stir in icing sugar.

Top french toast with any left over sliced banana and the raspberries. Do I need to mention drizzle over maple syrup to your hearts content? I didn't think so...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Apricot Granola

I used to get paid to cook family meals, snacks and well anything really. It was mean't to be a nanny job but I spent more time cooking than I did looking after the children. It was pretty great.

My 'nanny mum' often requested this Granola as it was one of her favorites. I hope you like it too.

Apricot Granola

You will need (this recipe is VERY adaptable so if you don't have everything, mix and match):

2 cups nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews etc.)
1/2 cups sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut
4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup maple syrup/honey
1 1/2 cup salad oil
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut however you like them
1/2 cup processed bran

Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Combine all the nuts and grains in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil and maple syrup. Pour this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix together.

Cook in roasting pans for about 45 minutes, turning every 10-15minutes to cook evenly to a golden brown. Remove from oven and mix in apricots and bran.

Serve with milk and fruit, as a topping on yoghurt/ice cream or simply stick your paws into the container and enjoy!