29 September 2011

coffs week away

Josh and I just got back from a much needed trip away down the coast. We spent our time camping in Northern NSW, gorgeous! Our trip however was predominantly based around National Parks, beaches, rain forest walks and battling the rain in our tiny tent, definitely not gourmet food. We mainly lived off bakery goods, snack foods and steak burgers, but I did manage to find a few gems to share with you. 

 I hesitated a little before posting this Strongbow cider as it's well, you know, not very fancy. However this pear cider has completely changed my view on this cider brand. It was cold and refreshing and enjoyed after the long hikes that we did during the day.

Carobana Confectionery is a confectionery company that is situated just north of Coffs Harbour. Carob is a legume like plant that tastes similar to chocolate that is conveniently "fat free" with 1/3 of the calories of the equivalent amount of chocolate....need I say more? 

I found these gorgeous carob covered honeycomb nibbles at Honey World at Currumbin on the Gold Coast a couple of years ago and I have been struggling to find a honeycomb that is better than the Carobana brand. 

Although I didn't get a chance to visit the factory it is definitely on my list for the next time I am travelling down south.

Macadamia Castle is situated on the Pacific Highway just north of Ballina and south of Byron. 
We stopped in here for afternoon tea on the way home and I sampled these gorgeous banana pancakes drizzled with honey and macadamia nuts. 

They were divine, definitely the best pancakes I have ever had that were not home made. 
I also loved their huge range of local produce from the surrounding region. 

Josh and I picked up some gorgeous chai tea and coffee as well as Macadamia Castle's specialty, macadamias. 
We sampled the honey roasted, salt roasted and garlic. 

The trip was way to short and I am struggling to come back to reality.

21 September 2011

red velvet cupcakes

There is something about a cupcake that brings me back to my childhood. The icing, sprinkles, amazing colour. A cupcake can be enjoyed as you know that they are a perfect portion size of cake, unless you are me and you end up eating a few cupcakes in one sitting. Less talk about my sweet problem, more about the cupcakes.

recipe from Jamie Oliver's - Jamie's America

You will need a set of kitchen scales for this recipe as most of the ingredients are measured by weight. 
50g butter
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp natural red food colouring
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder sifted
150g plain flour sifted
125ml butter milk, if you don't have butter milk combine 1/2 cup milk with 2 tsp lemon juice or white vinager
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
11/2 tsp white wine vinegar
150g cream cheese
50g butter
100g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla 
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180c and line a 12 hold cupcake tray.
Blend sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, food colouring and salt and blend until combined.

Fold in gently the buttermilk and flour until combined. 
In a small bowl combine bicarb and vinegar mix so it fizzes then mix into batter.
Divide the batter between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25mins.

Transfer to a wire wrack and allow to cool. 

For frosting - add all of the frosting ingredients into your food processor and whiz until smooth and creamy. 

Spoon onto cupcakes followed by a few hundreds and thousands.

I love the way that Jamie describes how the food is cooking. I also love his meals as they're always fast and simple made with fresh ingredients.  

20 September 2011

caramelized onions

BBQ sausages on bread can't be enjoyed without being topped with caramelized onions.

2-3 large onions
50g butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

Melt butter in frying pan. Add onions and sprinkle the brown sugar over the top.

Cover with a lid for 10-15mins so the onions can sweat and cook down.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue to cook slowly stirring occasionally until soft sweet and juicy.

To add extra flavour add to the BBQ with sausages until lightly browned. 

ian macs potato smash

Josh's Dad does a killer potato bake. It's too easy and quick for you not to make for your next BBQ.

1kg washed potatoes
5 bacon rashers, diced finely
1 cup cream
2 cloves of garlic, grated/crushed
3-4 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
grated tasty cheese

Chop potatoes in half, put into a large microwave safe dish. Cover with glad wrap and cook on high for 10-15mins. Combine cream, garlic and Worcestershire Sauce in a jug. At this point you could also substitute the sauce and garlic for a packet of french onion soup mix.

Remove the potatoes from the microwave and pour into a large baking dish, ensuring you drain the water that will form in the bottom of the microwave dish first. Crush with a potato smasher. If you are making this ahead of time allow to cool for 5 - 10 mins.

Sprinkle over bacon before pouring the cream mixture evenly over the top.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 30-40mins in a 180c oven.

You can also make this dish ahead of time. Simply cover with cling film and refrigerate before baking. Can be stored overnight. There won't be much of this left from your next BBQ!

super spring BBQ

This weekend just past was definitely the start of spring, the warm weather had set in and it was shorts and singlet time. We had a BBQ to celebrate the start of the season.
Miss Carney brought over these gorgeous Pumpkin and Feta Mini Tarts. She borrowed the recipe from Fizzle Out, who's recipe list is to die for with not only indulgent but great healthy recipes that I am excited to try out. These tarts were so delicious they literally lasted the first five minutes of them being brought out. 

Will definitely be making these ones again!

Behold our gorgeous spread. Potato bake, summer salad, sausages and caramelized onions. All your Aussie summer BBQ basics. Needless to say we all over ate and we're looking forward to the next BBQ feast!

17 September 2011

cinnamon scrolls

WARNING: This post is full of rant and a million pictures of my cinnamon scroll adventure. This adventure was scary but exciting. Probably the most difficult thing I have made in the kitchen so far. 
I would like to note that the most complex thing I had made before I started this blog was a basic cake or biscuit recipe. Pretty much all of the recipes I have cooked, other than the ones I've mentioned that i have made a millions times, I have never made before.

recipe from Shutterbean and Joy the Baker


1 packet (7g) of dried yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp + 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups plain flour - sifted
3/4 tsp salt
125g butter - melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cloves
2 tbsp maple syrup
125g cream cheese
125g butter - melted
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup butter milk

In an electric mixer with the dough hooks fitted add yeast, warm water and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix and let sit for 10mins until frothy. 
Add sugar, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, egg and egg yolk to the yeast mixture and mix on medium speed until well combined, 1-2 mins. 

Stop the mixer, add flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes away from the walls of the mixer then knead on high for 4 mins. 

I have seen pictures of Kitchen Aids that have been broken on thick batters and I knew that my Mixmaster was quite delecate so I stood there and cradled it the whole time it kneaded pleading with it not to break as there wasn't much more work it had to do. I kind of related what it was doing to the equivalent of me doing a 10km run without any training. This poor thing has only ever delt with cake batter.

Then slow the mixer down and pour in melted butter. At this point I freaked out because I thought I put in to much butter because it had been mixing for a few minutes and the butter wasn't mixing in. 

You will need to use a spatula to spread the dough out so that it makes it easier for the butter to mix in. 

As soon as all of the butter has combined with the dough and it becomes more sloppy turn the mixer on high and knead until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. 

Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with glad wrap and let sit in a warm spot for 2 hours.

Combine cinnamon, sugar, salt and cloves. Then mix in maple syrup.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in extra flour until no longer sticky. 

Roll dough out into a 25 cm x 25 cm rectangular like shape. Spread on cream cheese. 

Fold the dough like you are folding a letter into thirds then again so it forms a square dough lump.

Note: when you roll it out cream cheese will go everywhere, well not everywhere but it will leak out. 

Roll dough out into a 25 cm x 50 cm rectangle. 

Brush with melted butter then add the remaining melted butter to the filling mixture and combine. 

Now spread the filling mixture over the dough. 

Rolling from the short edge, roll the dough up tightly as if you are rolling up a sleeping bag. 
Make sure the seam side is down. 

Chop off each end with a sharp knife, then chop the roll into 8 equal pieces. 
Place each piece into a buttered baking dish like so then let sit in a warm spot for 2 hours. 

My lovely kitchen mess.

Note how gorgeous this looks with the cream cheese and cinnamon sugar mixture rolled through it....arrgghhh.

Bake in 190c oven for 30mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the roll comes out clean.

Make icing mixture and pour over the top. 
These are so amazing. I was so proud of myself  and how I actually made these from scratch.
I emailed pictures of them to all of my family members and even shared some with Lozza and Kris who loved them too....Josh disappointed that the recipe only made 8.
If I can make these bad boys successfully anyone can. 

13 September 2011

dark chocolate walnut macaroons

This is Joshy's pick from the Classic Cookies cookbook. By now you should know that anything that contains chocolate or is topped with chocolate makes him giggle like a school girl and go weak at the knees. 
You must not confuse macaroons with macarons. The macarons are the gorgeous sandwich like biscuits that Adriano Zumbo is the king of. From what I have heard they are extremely difficult to get right. Macaroons however are their much simpler cousin!
These macaroons were tasty and gorgeously indulgent. 

recipe from Women's Weekly Classic Cookies


2 cups of walnuts
2 egg whites
1/2 cup caster suger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
90g dark choc chips, chopped finely
60g dark choc chips, melted

Preheat oven to 150c and line two baking trays with baking paper. 
Process walnuts until ground finely. I then processed the choc chips until they were ground into smaller chips. 

Beat egg whites in the small bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Keep the electric mixer running as you add a tablespoon at a time of the caster sugar ensuring to add it slowly enough so that it dissolves after each addition. 

Stir in with a silicon spatula the sifted flour and cocoa until partially combined. 

Stir in the ground walnuts and chocolate in two batches. While you do this be careful to do it gently so you don't mix the air out of the egg whites. Try to gently "fold" the ingredients in. 

Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture onto the trays with enough room for them to spread between. Bake for 25mins then let cool on trays. 

I melted the chocolate in the microwave using this handy butter/chocolate melter from Miss Lauren Carney - thank you it's well used. Sometimes it's used to spontaneously make chocolate ganache and if Josh had his way he would eat it with a spoon. 

I then put the melted chocolate into a zip lock bag, snipped off the corner and drizzled over the top. 

These macaroons surprised me with how amazing they are. Crispy meringue like on the outside and soft and cake like in the middle. De-lish.