Seeing Purple

Have you ever had purple cauliflower?  I bought one the other day purely because it was cheaper than regular white cauliflower.  And I was wondering what it would look like pureed into babyfood.  Tastes pretty much the same as regular cauliflower to be honest.  Apparently full of antioxidants – bonus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I roasted mine with cumin – ground and seeds for good measure.  A little inspired by the gorgeous roasted cauliflower recipe we cook ALL THE TIME from Smitten Kitchen, but more of the lazy person’s version (ie no feta yoghurt, pomegranate or mint) but lots of extra cumin, because that’s the way I like it.  Even husband was happy and he normally will only eat cauliflower smothered in cheese sauce like he used to be given as a kid.

Delish.

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Dipping my toes in

It’s been a very long time since I posted anything here.  Not even sure if anyone is reading.  I won’t bother to come up with some long lengthy explanation/excuse, only life got in the way and now the fog has cleared a little from my brain and I’ve got the passion for being in the kitchen back!

Last week I baked up a storm for one of my besties who married her love on a beautiful summers day.  I’ve made a wedding cake before but not such a traditional rolled white fondant one.  Let’s just say my fondant rolling and applying need a bit of work.  Onwards and upwards.  I still think it looked pretty awesome.  And was twice as big as it needed to be.  Noone ever complained about too much cake, right??  I’ll post the recipes soon.

 

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Tuesdays with Dorie – Rugelach

Well, I’m not doing so well with this blogging business.  Seem to go in fits and starts.  And I always remember that it’s Tuesdays with Dorie week on the Sunday night before!!!  Last couple of weeks have been recipe and baking light – have fallen back on a couple of slow cook meals that I’ve done in one go and reheated every night, as the house DIY and baby growing take their toll.  Luckily, I remembered this week that the recipe was Rugelach and had handily scanned the recipe so I had it on my phone and could check the recipe in the supermarket.  Seems I didn’t read the whole recipe though, as you’ll see it made for a tasty but messy substitution!!!

Sooooo – I had no idea what Rugelach was before I read this recipe and had never tried them before.  Rugelach are a tasty pastry of Jewish origin – often made in a crescent shape (like a croissant).   This recipe was for more of a “cut” cookie – when rolled up they reminded me a little of a cinnamon bun. It’s made with a cream cheese pastry, spread with a fruity jam like paste, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar (you had me from here alone!), then nuts and dried fruit, and rolled. From looking at a couple of the posts already up, seems you could bake them flat (like a sausage roll), or standing up like a cinnamon bun.

I’d never made a cream cheese pastry before, but this turned out really great, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more recipes that use it. The recipe said to have the butter and cream cheese at room temperature, but again due to lack of organisation (and impatience), I used cold butter and cream cheese. The dough was light and kind of flaky with that slight tang from the cream cheese.  Delish!  Turns out it’s also pretty great cold, as I’ve just eaten my second one from the leftovers in the fridge as I type this!!!

Chilled Pastry

My lack of organisation meant I didn’t really follow the rest of the recipe properly after the pastry.  I was too disorganised to make the lekvar (like a thick jam) myself, and I forgot to buy nuts.  So I used this really great plum jam we had, and instead of nuts…….  chopped chocolate.  It was actually delicious – the combination of jam, cinnamon and chocolate worked well.  Although it was VERY messy to bake (which might have somethign to do with the fact I didn’t chill it after rolling it up – again the impatience!!!).  The chocolate and jam and sugar kind of caramelised and spread over the baking tray, although when I took them out of the oven I just used a spatula to kind of push it all around the tray and back towards the pastries and they looked ok (well you can judge from the photos).  And tasted GREAT!!!!!

The rolled pastry with jam and cinnamon sugar

Ready to roll....

Cut and ready to bake

The hosts this week are The Urban Hiker and My Baking Heart - the recipe can be found at either of their sites….

The finished (sticky and messy!) product!

* PS – I’ve learnt early on that the recipes in this book make WAY too much for just the two of us in this house – so I made 1/3 of the recipe.  It made about 10 large-ish bun sized cookies/pastries.  (There are only 2 left).  And I was left with a heap of cinnamon sugar.  So I might have to make some more of the White Loaves and use it to make cinnamon bread or buns instead!!!!

**PPS – I promise I’m going to get my act into gear and start posting properly.  And taking some proper photos (that aren’t last minute in the middle of the night).  Promise.  Really.

 

 

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Sunday Supper – Bacon and Broccoli Pasta

The latest Cuisine Magazine arrived in my letterbox the other day.  Oh boy.  Lucky it’s only bi monthly, there are SO many recipes that I want to try in there.  Probably why it’s now celebrating it’s 25th anniversary.  Check out the cake section.  Drool.  Like I need another excuse to make a cake.

Anyway, after spending a nice sunny weekend inside in bed, I felt the need for a healthy, filling, green filled dinner on Sunday to get the week started off on the right foot.  Inspired by this recipe in aforementioned Cuisine, I utilised some left over broccoli, spinach and threw in a bit of bacon, garlic and parmesan for a bit of variation.  Very much a simple Sunday Supper, the recipe is just approximations, and you can basically use whatever you have in the fridge, just throw it all in.  Keep in mind more sturdy greens like beans, or frozen peas, might need a touch longer cooking than spinach or any of the chinese greens like bok choi or pak choy.

Bacon and Broccoli Sunday Pasta

a couple of cloves of garlic
a few rashers of bacon (or if you are like me, quite a few rashers of bacon), cut into small pieces (lardons if you are feeling fancy)
broccoli (cut into small pieces)
spinach or other greens, finely sliced/diced
parmesan cheese, grated finely
salt and pepper

On a medium heat, saute the bacon and garlic until the bacon is starting to crisp. Don’t cook it too long as it will keep crisping up when you add the broccoli. Stir it often to stop the garlic from burning. Add the broccoli and stir around to coat in the delicious garlic and bacon juices. Give it a few seconds between stirs to help the broccoli get nice and browned. If you have used slightly larger pieces and they are taking a while to cook through, add a splash of water to help steam them. Once it’s all ready, turn down the heat and add the spinach and other greens, stir until they are just wilted.
Stir through a generous amount of parmesan and salt and pepper.

Enjoy as you feel healthy and virtuous and forget about all the ginger crunch and chocolate biscuits you ate over the weekend.

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Cinnamon Loaf

I didn’t get to bake the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe this week, unfortunate given it was one of my favourite things – Chocolate Truffle Tartlets.  I’ve been feeling a little under the weather so baking has been off the agenda over the weekend, which was when I planned to bake the scrummy looking recipe.  If you want to still follow the bakers, this weeks recipe was hosted by A Whisk and a Spoon, Spike, Good Eats and Cook Book Habit.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they all came out with, seeing as I’m absolutely planning to try this recipe at some point soon.

However, last week while patiently waiting for settlement day on our new house, I decided to pass the time one evening and get baking.  I seem to be on a bit of a cinnamon roll (excuse the pun).  After the success of the cinnamon swirl loaves for the first Tuesdays with Dorie post, I got to unpacking all the baking stuff from the holidays and found the cinnamon, which got me hunting through my book for the next best thing to cinnamon bread – coconut and cinnamon loaf. As my husband keeps pointing out to me, just because it’s baked in a loaf tin, doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and he’s right, this is much more of a cake/loaf than a healthy bread, but that didn’t stop us eating pretty much the whole loaf in just a couple of days!!!!

I first tried this loaf at Bill Grangers Sydney cafe, Bills, when my now-husband and I visited Sydney for our first overseas trip together.  We were visiting a friend who was living in Sydney temporarily for work, and I made three hungry boys queue up outside Bills on a Saturday morning to get a table for brunch.  And was it ever worth it!!  That breakfast is ingrained on my mind, and after nabbing myself a copy of Bill’s Sydney Food book, the scrambled eggs, corn fritters and coconut loaf earned themselves a place in my handwritten cookbook (reserved only for tried and true, must cook recipes!).

The loaf is slightly on the sweet side, and if you managed to not eat it all in the first go, it slices and toasts really well – opinions differ in my household as to whether it’s best with just plain butter (me the purist), or with lime marmalade (my husband’s choice).

The next two recipes for TWD have just been announced and they look even more fun than the first two.  Um hello – rugelach (pastries made of cream-cheese dough, spread with jam and nuts, cut into wedges and rolled up to resemble mini croissants).  And Irish Soda bread – so appropriate for St Pats Day.  Looking forward to getting properly back in the kitchen soon.

Coconut Loaf (recipe by Bill Granger)

2 eggs
300ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2½ cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup caster sugar
150 g shredded Coconut (I use threaded coconut but you could use unsweetened dessicated, or flaked)
75g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 180°C and lightly butter a loaf tin.

Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla essence together in a jug.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and combine with sugar and coconut.  Stir in the milk/egg mixture until combined, then add melted butter and stir until that’s combined too.

Pour into loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour.  I usually test at about 45-50 minutes with a skewer to check if it’s done – if the skewer comes out clean it’s ready!

Resist the urge to cut into this when it’s still warm, as it doesn’t cut as well to make nice clean slices.

You can serve dusted with icing sugar, also I’ve read that lime butter goes well which might be a nice compromise in our household to try next time!!

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TWD: Baking with Julia – White Loaves

So, it’s the first recipe of the Tuesdays with Dorie group I’ve joined. This week the recipe was White Loaves, hosted by the hosts of the group over at TWD, Jules and Laurie.

I’ve been looking forward to trying this recipe since I saw it was on the list, as the last time I made bread was years ago and it was really dense and not so great. I was hoping my baking had improved over the years, and of course my recipe horizons have opened up considerably since then.

I’ve been a bit distracted the last few weeks, with summer holidays and long weekends keeping me lazing on the beach and reading books rather than baking, but the weather has been too windy for boating this final long weekend (Waitangi Day for those of you who are out of NZ) so I finally got organized on Sunday night and got baking, for fresh bread to have on Monday morning! A little last minute, but who could blame me with a view like this!!

I decided, after reading a few of the comments on the TWD site, to make my loaf with a cinnamon swirl, seeing as we were heading home and unlikely to eat a loaf of plain bread before we leave. Also, I love cinnamon, especially for breakfast.

I found the recipe pretty easy to follow and execute. I was a little worried about making it away from my KitchenAid and dough hook, but it wasn’t too hard, I guess because I halved the recipe and only made one loaf instead of two. I’d read from others in the group that their mixers didn’t handle the dough that well, must be from the quantity so next time I try this at home I’ll have to remember to make a half recipe again too.

The loaf turned out great. I proved mine in the fridge overnight so I could bake in the morning and I don’t think it rose as much as it could have if baking straight away. But it was still light with a great crust and crumb. Definitely way better than my last bread making attempt!! The cinnamon swirl was also a great addition, next time I make it with cinnamon I’ll add more sugar to the dough (over the amount specified in the recipe), but this recipe is definitely getting added to my favourites list, plain or fancy.

Recipe #1 – success!!!! In two weeks time, we’ll be making chocolate truffle tarts. And by then I’ll be in my new house with my new kitchen, so stay posted as I have a flurry of things to post about in the meantime!

* the recipe can be found on the hosts sites as above
** check out the other bakers who have baked this recipe also on Tuesdays with Dorie
*** I used instant yeast and apparently didn’t knead mine as much as some of the other bakers (there was talk of KitchenAid mixers having fits but I didn’t have mine so I kneaded by hand and only for 3-4 minutes! – note to self – read the recipe more….) – but still turned out ok….

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Tuesdays with Dorie

I’ve just joined the new group for Tuesdays with Dorie, we’re going to work our way through Baking with Julia which I am really looking forward to!!

The first recipe to try is White Loaves – sounds like it could be a great recipe to take away with me on holiday, so hopefully my copy of the book will arrive by then!!  I have it ordered from the library just in case.

The rules are you have to post at least one of the recipes each month, and there are two per month.  I think I should be fine.  Feel free to nudge me along if I slack off!

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2012

Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve been here but due to a different kind of “baking” that’s been going on in my belly for the last 4 months, I’ve been a bit off my food lately! Also just to top it off, we have bought a new house and will be moving in 4 weeks, which is super exciting as I’ll finally be able to have some room to move in my kitchen! The new kitchen also has lots of windows perfect for taking photos, so I’m looking forward to being able to really get excited about cooking again!!! Whilst packing I have also found lots of tools and gadgets that have been languishing in the back of my difficult to reach cupboards, and have rediscovered old cookbooks that were lost in the depths of the bookshelves.

We’re going to be in transit for a few more weeks so it will be a bit slow round here for a little while longer, but I do have some baby shower baking to do in the next week or so, and I hope to share the result of Project Wedding cake once I track down some of the photos. Stay posted, promise 2012 will pick up around here!!!!

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Project Wedding – Making Whoopie

I’ve been a bit remiss on the blog lately. Ok, very remiss. I’ve been doing a bit of baking but taking photos has been a bit beyond me, and I feel bad posting just words. Feel free to tell me otherwise.

I’ve been thinking about making whoopie pies for a while. While researching chocolate cupcake recipes for Project Wedding, I kept coming across whoopie pie recipes. And Pinterest is full of pictures of them. Anyway, whoopie pies are the new cupcake. They’re easier to eat, no fussing around with wrappers, and you don’t get left with that annoying bit on the bottom which has no icing left. (Can I convince you T??) Some stories say they were designed to use up leftover cake batter and icing. They’re supposed to be a bit like a cross between a cookie and a cake. The original versions I’ve seen are chocolate with fluffy vanilla icing, a bit like an Oreo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to make chocolate cakes, but with a chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead. This gives a nice creamy taste but without the extra sweetness you’d get from other frosting recipes. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for the buttercream, adapted a little to reduce the amount of butter. I think the butter here in NZ has a stronger taste and I like the flavour and texture of this recipe with less of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Whoopie Cakes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 2 dozen finished sandwiched cakes (24 individual cookie/cakes)

1 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
113g butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice made up to 1 cup milk and left for 5 mins)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar on a medium speed until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, then add vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, either beating on a low speed or folding in with a spoon.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter onto the lined trays, and bake for about 12 mins until middles are set to the touch. Cool on a cooling rack.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

Heat egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water, whisking gently until it reaches 160degrees Fahrenheit. Beat using a whisk attachment on medium speed for 3 minutes, then beat at a high speed for another 7-10 minutes until the bowl is cool to the touch. Add vanilla. Switch to a paddle beater and slowly add the butter piece by piece, waiting until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. The meringue will deflate slightly and will possible stay a bit runny until most of the butter has been added. If the mixture looks like it’s curdling, just keep beating beating beating. Trust me. I was nearly in tears an hour before my birthday party this year, because the caramel icing I was making curdled. I just left it on the mixer, still beating and it miraculously came back together by the time I’d done my hair. Once all the butter has been incorporated, slowly add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until combined.

If you are still having problems, the hints from Smitten Kitchen and also this one from Sweetapolita are genius

This should be enough to sandwich all the cakes together. Use a piping bag and be generous with the filling.

Store the filled cakes in the fridge if you need to, but leave out for a few hours before serving to soften the icing, otherwise it might feel like you are eating solid butter.

I’m still in search for the perfect cupcake recipe, and the wedding is coming up fast. At least I know I’ve mastered the Buttercream though!!!

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Good times – Depot and Sugar Pie

We had one of the most incredible and memorable dining experiences on Saturday night. A last minute decision to head out for dinner on a “date night” led to a night reminiscent of hazy Saturday nights in London; bumping into friends, standing on the street drinking wine out of tumblers and some of the best and most exciting food I have had in a long while.  It’s taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts and settle my excitement, when there is so much to love (from the New York style subway tiles and distressed wood floors, to the wine on tap and of course the food) there is a lot to untangle.

Depot in Auckland’s Federal St is the new abode of Wellington food scene’s constant, Al Brown. I haven’t eaten at any of Al Browns other restaurants yet, although I have long been a fan of his approach to food and hospitality, with emphasis on fresh, responsible and local. Reading his website this morning I am drawn to this quote that sums up completely our evening: “at the end of the day, sharing food, trading stories and having a laugh with good people is what it’s all about.”.

Depot does not take bookings, so we rocked up to put our names on the list and after a sneaky cocktail next door at Red Hummingbird (Luke Dallow’s new joint), we settled in outside with a carafe of the pinot on tap and a couple of tumblers to fantasise about what was to come.  And we were not disappointed.  As soon as we were seated at our table, Al Brown himself came along and suggested some starters – oysters, tortillas with baba ganoush and one of the highlights of the night – turbot sliders.  Two of us shared 3 each of the Tio Point and Orongo Bay oysters, accompanied by a Chardonnay vinegar and shallots.  The oysters were exactly as described, Orongo Bay were sweet and creamy and the Tio Point a bit more salty with a mineraly finish.  The other two non oyster eaters finished up the tortillas.  And then the sliders.  Sliders are a phenomenon that don’t appear nearly enough on Kiwi menus, and these were a great example, a soft bun, crispy piece of turbot with a tangy mayonnaise.  There may have been more to them but we didn’t wait long enough to find out before they were scoffed.

Second round of dinner, as suggested by the gorgeous waitress (I wish I had got her name because her recommendations were spot on) : falafels – crunchy, with whole chickpeas and harissa and a tangy goats curd; snapper tacos – like the sliders, scoffed too fast to notice what was in them, but so good I think they will be a lunchtime favourite any day I can sneak out of the office; roasted pork hock with apple and horseradish and amazing pressed crispy pieces of crackling (what is it about crackling…?); and the ultimate taste sensation – smoked beef brisket with rice and red beans.  The smoky flavour of this piece of beef was intense – I think we spotted pieces of chorizo which would have something to do with it.

Desert was gingerbread with tamarillo, and Sugar Pie, which, as Al Brown told us during one of his multiple visits to our table during the night, is from a recipe he was given by another chef in French Canada.  This pie was amazing.  Like a sweet custard, apparently slow cooked in the shell to make a buttery caramelly sensation.  I tried to recreate this pie the following day, but my pie tin leaked and the custart didn’t set – so stay posted later this week for an update on this when I try again.

I can’t really say more about the food – it was outstanding, simple but tasted amazing and the enthusiasm for the food and the stories behind it were infectious.  There’s no pretence here – it was a serve and share type meal, with a really casual feel – the place was chocka – we had to wait for the Prime Minister to vacate his table before we could sit – which also helped with the bustling atmosphere.  I would love to go back and spend some more time chatting with Al Brown about his food while he is still hanging about in Auckland, but one would imagine that the place will be a bit busy for that over the coming weeks.  I just hope it’s not so busy that I can’t get another fix of those tacos!!

Depot Eatery
86 Federal Street,
Auckland 1010, NZ
09 363 7048

PS – apologies for lack of photos.  I did try and take some on my phone, but we were so into the food, a couple of the courses we had eaten before I remembered to capture.

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