Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers November - Cannoli

It's Daring Bakers time again, and again we are venturing into new territory. There was no baking this month but there was ... deep frying!

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I've never deep fried anything before - the thought of all that hot oil just waiting to tip over or catch alight scares me just a little bit. Ok a LOT. But this is the daring bakers after all so I was up for the challenge.

I didn't want to purchase cannoli forms just for this one challenge so I decided to cut out some shapes instead. I rolled the dough using my pasta machine (so easy) and then chose some cookie cutters in interesting shapes. Problem was, they didn't cut through the dough easily and when I tried to lift them out they tore and stretched out of shape. I did get one decent heart though ...

Oooh pretty!

I made the chocolate recipe exactly as stated and also used the traditional filling. However because I am a citrus nut I doubled the amount of orange peel and added in the zest of an orange as well.

The recipe is ridiculously long so I won't post it all here. You can find the recipe on Lisa's blog here. Link
The taste test ...

Never having had cannoli before I really wasn't sure what to expect, but these were really tasty! My first batch was a little oily as I don't think the oil was quite hot enough in spite of what my thermometer said. The shells were crunchy and definitely moreish. I could snack on those all day. The filling was what really made it for me though, it was a like a choc-orange flavoured Sicilian cheesecake. Yum!

I think I've conquered my fear of deep drying (I made beer battered fish last night for dinner) but it's still not something I will do regularly.

Thanks for a great challenge!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

So everyone has heard about the fabulous Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day that has been doing the rounds in the blogosphere. But have you heard about Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day? From the same authors, Zoe Francois and Mark Luinenberg, the focus of this new book is on breads with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and even gluten free options. Yay!

Amazon delivered my copy in amazingly good time last week and I have already made my first batch. I decided to go with the master recipe for a plain whole wheat boule to begin with. It was very simple to mix up and I love that the authors have included metric conversions. Makes my life much easier!

Dough mixed

After a 2 hour rest on the bench

Shaped and ready to bake - definitely need to practice slicing the top

Baked and smelling fabulous!

Well cooked, nice crumb but very slightly sticky/gummy in the middle - will try a little less water in the mix next time

Continuing with our plan to use our new bbq every week we decided to do pizzas. Let me tell you, pizza on the grill is out-of-this-world good! One batch of the master recipe was enough for the boule plus 3 large pizzas. No further resting is required for the bases, so after shaping each one just throw on your toppings and get it straight on the grill.

My favourite - ham and pineapple. Yum!

Bread making is definitely an art and I have a lot to learn but I'm really encouraged by the results so far. Making your own bread is not only healthier but kinder on your wallet as well. I would estimate each loaf/pizza base cost less than $1 to make. Beat that, supermarket!

Michelle of Big Black Dog has started a baking group for HBin5. There is still time to join as their first bread isn't posted until January. Click below for all the details ...

I'm on the fence about joining as I have my hands pretty full with TWD, Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks. But I do plan on posting everything I bake so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: All-in-One Holiday Muffins

This week Britin of The Nitty Britty chose Dorie's All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake, an awesome looking cake packed with festive flavours. But sometimes a whole cake can be a bit intimidating. People get scared to take the first piece. So when I needed to bring something to a get-together I decided to make it as muffins - much friendlier!
Yet again there were no cranberries to be had so I used cherries and almonds but kept the rest of the flavours the same. I got 18 full size muffins from this recipe.
The taste test ...
Delicious! Really, really moist and full of flavours I love - ginger, cinnamon, cherries. Couldn't really taste the pumpkin here but it added a lovely colour. I served mine with a maple syrup glaze and a scattering of chopped almonds and it made a perfect afternoon tea. I will definitely be making this again as a bundt cake.
Thanks Britin, great pick!
All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake From Baking from My Home To Yours
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
 Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Icing sugar, for dusting or maple syrup icing (see note)
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan-forced. Butter a 9- to 10- inch (12 cup) Bundt pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ground ginger.
Working with a stand mixer or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin, chopped apple and grated ginger, if you’re using it-don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto the rack to cool to room temperature.
Just before serving, dust the cake with icing sugar or drizzle it with maple syrup icing.
To make the Maple Syrup Icing - Sift 6 tablespoons icing sugar into a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Add up to another ½ tablespoon of maple syrup little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of the spoon. Place the cooled cake on a sheet of baking paper and drizzle the icing over the top. Let the icing set for a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

Pamela of Cookies with Boys chose Dorie's Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies this week, and this is the one recipe of the month that I am posting on the actual date!

After last weeks mammoth effort for the chestnut cake I was really happy with this pick. Only thing was I discovered after I started to make them that I was completely out of cinnamon. (Totally not my fault though as hubby threw away the pack because it wasn't sealed properly and then didn't replace it. Love you sweetie!).

Rather than wait and make them another day I compensated by upping the ginger by 1/2ts and adding in 1/4 ts ground cardamon and a very generous pinch of pepper. I also used treacle rather than molasses as I already had some.

The taste test ...

Crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle and packing a real punch of flavour. They'd be perfect for icecream sandwiches or even just dunked in a glass of ice cold milk. And I don't even like milk! These are definitely going on the list for my Christmas baking.

Thanks for an awesome pick Pamela! You can find the recipe on Pamela's blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meatless Monday - Ratatouille with Corn Cakes

Today marks what will hopefully become a regular thing - a week's worth of meals already planned and shopped for! In the interest of our waistlines and budget we have decided to make 2 or 3 of those meals vegetarian. Tonight's dinner was this Ratatouille with Corn Cakes. So fresh and packed with flavour, I thought it was delicious! Hubby thought it needed beef. Oh well!

Ratatouille with Corn Cakes
p102 'Almost Vegetarian' by The Australian Woman's Weekly Cookbooks, 1993

2 tbs olive oil
1 medium brown onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed (I used 3 cloves - can't have too much garlic!)
3 baby eggplants (180g) sliced thinly
2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
1 red capsicum, chopped finely
1 green capsicum, chopped finely
150g button mushrooms, halved
2 x 410g tins chopped tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped finely
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup parmasan cheese flakes

Heat oil in a large saucepan; cook onions and garlic, stirring, until onion is soft.
Add all other vegetables and cook until tender.
Add both tins of tomatoes and the fresh tomato. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, incovered, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and sugar, 1-2 ts depending on the acidity of your tomatoes).
Serve ratatouille with corncakes, topped with basil and cheese.

2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup white plain flour
130g tin corn kernels, drained
2 x 130g tins creamed corn
2 eggs
3/4 cup (180ml) milk

Sift flours into medium bowl; add combined corn, creamed corn, eggs and milk. Whisk until comined; stand 30 minutes.
Pour 1/4 cup mixture into heated, greased frying pan. Cook until bubbles appear on surface and underneath is browned. Turn; brown other side. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Do you have a favourite vegetarian meal? I'm looking for inspiration so would love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daring Cooks November - Sushi

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Yay, sushi! While I'm not exactly a sushi connoisseur (I'm not a raw fish fan - it's a textural thing) I have made it a number of times at home. This meant I already had the rice, mats, vinegar etc and was ready to get started.

Our challenge this month had 4 elements - first the sushi rice itself, which we then made into 3 different end products. I followed the recipe to the letter and have to say my rice turned out better than it ever has before.

First up - Dragon Roll ...

My dragon roll filled with delicious terriyaki chicken and topped with sliced avocado.

And turned into a dragon. Grrrr!

Yes, I am aware my dragon looks like it was made by a 3 year old. Let's pretend it was!

Next, Spiral Sushi Roll ...

I think I rolled these the wrong way because they look like the regular sushi rolls I buy all the time. Very tasty though, filled with terriyaki chicken, avocado, cucumber, carrot, omelette and sesame seeds.

And last, bite sized Ngiri ...

I made two varieties of these, one with smoked salmon and the other with omelette and nori. Yum!

I won't post the recipes here as they are really long, but you can find a printable PDF version here.

Thanks for a wonderful challenge Audax and Rose!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate-Caramel Chestnut Cake

Today is my dad's 60th birthday and to celebrate we had a big family bbq on Sunday. You can't have a birthday party without birthday cake and this week's TWD pick was perfect!

Chestnuts aren't at all common in Australia. My only experience with them prior to this was in Paris as a 17 year old, and what an eye opener that trip was for a budding foodie! One freezing cold day while wandering through the streets we came across a street vendor selling roasted chestnuts in paper bags. I still remember the rustle of the bag, the warmth and delicious taste of those chestnuts.

Here I had to make do with tins of chestnuts and unsweetened chestnut puree (which I sweetened by blitzing it with 3 ts vanilla extract and 3 tbs of sugar) sourced from a local deli.

This cake is definitely not for the faint of heart, with 1/2kg butter, 1/2 litre of cream and almost 3 blocks of chocolate. It didn't rise as much as I expected so I only sliced it into 2 layers instead of 3. Still managed to use all of that delicious ganache though!

The taste test ...

One word - RICH. Dorie said it serves 16 but I think you could double that easily. There aren't too many times where just 1 piece of cake is enough but this was it. The flavour of the cake itself was absolutely sensational and I will definitely make it again, just without all the chocolatey excess.

It was the perfect finish to a fabulous lunch of roast pork loin cooked on the bbq, lots of salad, breads, cheese and drinks. We just didn't eat much else for the rest of the day.

Thanks for a great pick Katya! You can find the recipe on her blog here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cran-Apple Crisps

Well, first thing you'll notice is there are no cranberries in my crisps. I've bought frozen cranberries many times and although we are only 52(!) days away from Christmas, there were none to be found.

By the way, a big thank you to Laurie for being flexible with this month's posting days. I am saving the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut cake for my dad's birthday next week!

Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef chose Dorie's Cran-Apple Crisps this week and without the cranberries I don't know if I'm a good judge of these or not. Basically it was just an apple crumble. Tasty, but usually our fallback dessert if we haven't planned ahead.

The taste test ...

Like I said, your standard apple crumble. I'm sure the cranberries would elevate this to something more special and give a great contrast with the sweet crumble topping. Oh well, we did enjoy it with a big scoop of vanilla icecream. An easy Saturday night dessert! I'll stock up on cranberries next time I find them just to pop into something like this.

Thanks Em! You can find the recipe (and no doubt some gorgeous photos) on her blog.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Crepes

Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day, particularly on weekends, but lately I can wander around the kitchen for ages before I find something that takes my fancy. It can't take too long to prepare, be too sweet or too heavy. The answer? Crepes!

Lots of crepe recipes are filled with unnecessary ingredients. One recipe I came across had 1/2 cup sugar and 80g butter. Ridiculous!

The recipe I use is from The Original Woman's Weekly Cookbook (circa 1970s) and it is one that has stood the test of time. This weekend we filled our crepes with fresh sliced bananas and topped with a raspberry and lime sauce. Delicious.


1/3 cup plain flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients using a food processor or hand whizz. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile to make the sauce, in a small saucepan add 1 cup of frozen raspberries, 1 tbs sugar and the juice of 1 lime. Warm through on low-medium heat, stirring gently to keep some of the raspberries intact.

Heat a non-stick frying pan (or crepe pan if you have one) over medium-high heat. You shouldn't need to use any oil at all. Holding the pan in one hand, pour in 1/4 cup mixture while tilting the pan in a circular motion to swirl the mixture evenly over the base. Cook for about 1 minute or until the the top of the crepe is dry and the edges are starting to curl. Flip the crepe over and cook for another 30 seconds or until lightly golden. Remove crepe and repeat process.
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