27 February 2010

Summer Seafood Salad

(Man, I'm going nuts with the post title alliterations!)

My mum, like me, has a serious soft side for good food. Unlike me, she has no particular love of cooking (35 years in a board room will do that to a person) but is prepared to spend big bucks on getting the quality of food she wants.

So we came to an arrangement - once a week, she buys the ingredients; I prepare the meal.

This salad is DELICIOUS - but not the cheapest meal you'll ever have. But it is yummy, healthy and perfect for hot weather.
Summer Seafood Salad (Serves 2)

You will need:

20 prawns (cooked, peeled and deveined)
1 lime
1 cup mixed baby green leaves, loosely packed
flesh of 1 mango, cut into cubes (cut the cheeks off, score and turn cheek inside out to get cubes - run a spoon along the base of the cubes against the inside of the skin and they just pop off)
flesh of 1 avocado, cut into cubes (treat it the same as the mango)
200 g snow peas, topped, tailed and chopped in half
1/2 red chilli, seeded and chopped finely (when you're seeding the chilli, be sure to remove the membrane - it's the hottest part)
1 lemon
1/4 C macadamia nuts
2 tsp macadamia oil
  1. Squeeze the juice of half the lime over the prawns. Cover and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces.
  3. Layer the vegetables into a salad bowl. Top with prawns, macadamia nuts and chilli.
  4. Squeeze juice of remaining lime half and the lemon over the top. Drizzle macadamia oil over the dish.
Too easy. And delicious. And healthy.

25 February 2010

Simple Salmon

I'm still working a fairly ridiculous schedule at the moment, which has put a fairly large crimp in my cooking/blogging activities. Sad. But it at least reminds me why I started this blog - to share recipes that minimize input (time, money, effort) for maximum enjoyment.

In that vein, I bring you the miracle recipe- the dish with no washing up!

Simple Salmon

You will need:

1 frozen fillet of salmon
3 slices of lemon
Spray oil

oven tray
  1. Preheat oven to 200 C. Line oven tray with foil.
  2. Tear off large (approx 0.5 m) piece of foil. Fold in half lengthwise and spray with oil.
  3. Put salmon in the middle of foil on oiled side. Top with lemon and pepper.
  4. Fold the foil over the salmon and fold the edges up towards the centre. Crimp the edges of the foil so it forms a little parcel.
  5. Place parcel on tray and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with salad.
That is it! Add herbs (e.g. chives, bay) or spices (e.g. cinnamon, paprika) if you want extra flavour - but I think it's delicious with just lemon and pepper. Since the tray was lined with foil, it doesn't need washing. And if you use plastic cutlery and plates, the cleanup involves nothing more than throwing a couple of things in the bin. (Not the most environmentally friendly method, but hey, it gets the job done!)

23 February 2010

Emergency Eggs

At the moment, our office seems to have stepped up a gear. After being in there for over 12 hours, I got asked why I was leaving so early when I packed up at 8 pm (my official home time is 4 pm... ) so I'm not exactly flush with time to cook. That combined with the fact that my stove is currently chucking a tanty means that cooking time and resources are extremely limited. As such, I'm discovering a few low effort, low stress recipes I can pull out that take minimal time - and minimal cleaning up.

Today I just needed something comforting - so I pulled out the ol' emergency eggs.
Emergency Eggs
You will need:

2 eggs
2 tsp sour cream (or fresh cream if you prefer)
sprinkle of pepper

boiling water
small ramekin
deep oven tray
  1. Turn on oven and set to 190 C.
  2. Crack eggs into ramekin and top with sour cream.
  3. Place ramekin in deep tray.
  4. Pour boiling water into tray around ramekin and put in oven.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until whites are just set.
  6. Sprinkle on pepper to taste.
Serve with hot buttery toast and salad. Delish and comforting - and SO easy! And since the deep tray only held boiling water, the only washing up is a ramekin, your cutlery and your plate. Really, it's what you need when the going gets tough.

21 February 2010

Lemon Lime Bitters Cupcakes - a healthier take

This recipe marks the completion of my February cupcakes - the flavours have been taken from the classic Lemon Lime and Bitters cocktail. I used low GI sugar (yes it does exist! In Australia, it's sold under the brand name Logicane) and almond meal, which is full of protein, to make these low GI cupcakes. The best part was that they were moist, sweet and zesty - and tasted all together decadent.

Logicane looks a bit like raw sugar - the crystals are a bit tricky to dissolve (hence why I dissolved them in the hot lime juice rather than creaming with the eggs) - but its molassesey flavour and stickiness make it perfect for making SMBC - I actually thinks it makes a much better buttercream than caster sugar! The egg whites thicken up much more quickly than with other sugars.

These cupcakes have been (heavily!) adapted from this recipe.

Lemon Lime and Bitters Cupcakes with Lemon SMBC

You will need:

3 ripe limes
3 eggs
1 C Logicane sugar (or any low GI sugar)
3 C (300 g) almond meal
1 tsp gluten free baking powder.

1 lemon
1/2 C Logicane sugar
1/2 tsp aromatic bitters

2 egg whites
1/2 C Logicane sugar
125 g butter
  1. Preheat oven to 170 C and line 12 cake cupcake tin with patty pans.
  2. Zest and juice the limes (to ensure you've got every drop, microwave the limes for 10 seconds - it really frees up the juice!). Heat in the microwave (or over the stove) until body temperature. Dissolve 1/2 C Logicane in the juice (you may have to heat it a bit more! Just keep stirring and heating until its all dissolved).
  3. Separate the eggs.
  4. Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Using the electric beater, whisk the yolks and 1/2 C Logicane until pale and creamy. Dissolve as much of the sugar as possible.
  6. Fold almond meal and baking powder into lime juice and zest.
  7. Fold whipped sugared yolks into almond meal mixture.
  8. Gently fold in whipped egg whites into almond meal mixture.
  9. Spoon mix into cupcake tin.
  10. Bake at 170 C for 20-30 minutes or until skewer inserted in centre of cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  11. Zest and juice lemon. Combine zest, juice and 1/2 C Logicane in a small saucepan. Boil and stir until sugar is dissolved and syrup has thickened. Set half aside.
  12. Add bitters to remaining syrup in the pan. You really just want to get the aroma of the bitters, not the horrible bitter taste! Cook for 30 seconds - this will boil off any alcohol.
  13. Using a toothpick, prick holes in the tops of the cakes. Spoon bitters infused syrup over tops of the cakes. (Put a paper towel underneath when you do this - that way if you have accidentally pierced through the patty pan, you won't get syrup all over your benchtop!)
  14. Put 2 egg whites and 1/2 C Logicane into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 70 C).
  15. Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
  16. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until SMBC appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add lemon syrup and continue beating 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles. Top cupcakes with buttercream.

Done! Moist, fluffy and zingy. Absolutely delicious, and worth every second. And you can feel a bit less guilty about eating them, too!

19 February 2010

The Cupcake List - February Update

You might remember in this post I outlined my goal for the year - 1 batch of cupcakes per week. And a different flavour every time. I've actually managed to meet it thus far! Since I have been getting home from the office ridiculously late recently, I haven't had anything particularly interesting to post about over the last couple of days, so I thought I'd update you all on the status of the Cupcake List.

I'm also going to try making them *ahem* slightly healthier... yeah, yeah I know I'm betraying the cupcakery cause by doing so, but my poor mum hasn't been very healthy as of late and her doctor has forbidden unnecessary refined sugar or saturated fats (although one could argue cupcakes are always necessary, but still...). I'm going to try substituting honey for sugar (jarrah honey is much lower GI and full of minerals) and fruit puree for half the butter. *Fingers crossed!* I'll let you know how it goes!

Again, please let me know if there are any flavours of cupcakes you've always wanted to see made! I'd love to try and figure out the recipes.

Italicized = Recipes are my own creation

Green = Already Complete

Orange = Not yet complete but I know how I'll do it

Red = Will be made but I'm not sure how I'll do it

- Cinnamon Pancake with Maple Buttercream
- Salted Caramel with Caramel SMBC
- Cinnamon Caramel Fairy Cakes with Cinnamon SMBC

- Cosmopolitan Cupcakes (with Lime SMBC)
- Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes
- Lemon Lime Bitters Cupcakes (this is what I'm making Sunday - I'm adapting a flourless orange cake recipe and I'm going to make a lemon-bitters SMBC!)
- Orange Meringue Cupcakes
- Fig & Honey Cupcakes (with honey cream cheese frosting)

- Red Velvet cupcakes (well, everyone is always going on about them...!) - this recipe
- Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes (low fat, low GI but high taste!) This Recipe
- Blueberry Polenta Cupcakes
- Some form of strawberry cupcake
- Some form of high-hat cupcake

- Carrot cake Cupcakes (for Easter! Yay!)
- Some kind of sweet potato cupcake
- Some kind of yeast based cupcake (eek!)

So people - cupcake suggestions please!

17 February 2010

Easy Peasy Mac'n'Cheesey

At the moment, I'm pretty busy. OK, maybe that's an understatement - perhaps insanely busy would be more accurate. For example, I left for work this morning at 7.30. I arrived home from work at 9.30. To my mind, that constitutes a long day - but I still gotta eat! Now, desperate times call for desperate measures. And this recipe is a pretty desperate measure - it's a) processed (which I'm normally not a big fan of!) and b) really carb-heavy (even by my standards). But it's filling, comforting, and it has quite a bit of protein. And above all, it's easy, even when you get home from a 14 hour day. And it makes you feel all comforted and warm inside.

Normally, packet mac'n'cheese is pretty bland (to say the least). But this trick elevates it into something that is actually quite yummy!

Easy Peasy Mac'n'Cheesey

You will need:

1 packet microwaveable mac'n'cheese (plus ingredients specified by the packet - usually milk, water and/or butter) - I use Basco's (cuz it's gluten free!)
3-4 Tbsp grated good quality Parmesan or Peccorino cheese - the stronger, the better
Tiny sprinkle cracked black pepper

Microwave safe bowl
  1. Prepare mac'n'cheese in the microwave as per instructions on the packet.
  2. As soon as the cooking is finished and the macaroni is tender and the sauce reduced, stir in the grated cheese. It will melt through and make the sauce all gooey and rich.
  3. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper to serve.
That's it! Soooo incredibly easy but a huge improvement over what normally comes out of the packet. There are heaps of variations - you can add chopped ham or other cold meat, or fry up some bacon or mushrooms to stir in - but always start with the Parmesan or Peccorino.

Please - make your mother happy and serve it with salad.

15 February 2010

IC:E - Passion - Fig & Honey Cupcakes

Figs are apparently quite the aphrodisiac. To the ancient Greeks, they were a symbol of fecundity. Even today, figs (instead of rice) are thrown at newlyweds in some Southern European countries (although I imagine they must stain the wedding dress something terrible!).

IC:E is brought to you by the very generous and passionate sponsors:
As such, in the spirit of passion, I give you:

Fig & Honey Cupcakes (Inspired by this recipe)

You will need:

1 1/2 cups gluten free plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 C fig jam (such as from this recipe)
1 1/2 250 g packets low fat cream cheese
1/3 C honey

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add in the egg and beat to combine. Add in the egg whites, one at a time, and beat to combine.
  5. Combine milk and vanilla extract together in a cup.
  6. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the batter in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour. Once the last bit of flour has been added. beat just to combine - do not overbeat.
  7. Divide batter among the muffin tins. Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
  8. Once cool, cut a 2 cm round in the top (retain tops!)
  9. Spoon 1/2 tsp fig jam into the hole and replace top. Press in to seal.
  10. On the lowest speed, beat the cream cheese until just whipped. Add honey and beat until just combined. DO NOT OVERBEAT!
  11. Pipe cream cheese mixture onto cupcakes. Top with a dot of the remaining jam.

13 February 2010

Saturday Morning Fig Jam

The fig tree that resides in my backyard decided that it was going to ripen all of its figs yesterday. The result is that I had about 2 dozen figs with which I had to do something (and I was feeling a bit figged out after eating 5 or so) or else they would go bad and be eaten by *shudder* mice (and again, why grow something if you don't use it?)... so I decided to make fig jam. I looked everywhere but I couldn't find my grandmother's recipe, so this has been somewhat, erm, improvised.... but it still tasted awesome.

Saturday Morning Fig Jam (makes 1 medium jar + a little left over)

You will need

15 ripe figs, skin on, chopped into small pieces
1 apple, grated (I used a red apple and left the skin on - for the pectin)
zest+ juice 1 lemon (zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds to help get the juice out!)
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C boiling water

saucepan + wooden spoon
boiling water
clean jar
  1. Preheat your oven to 120 C. Rinse the jar and lid in boiling water (use gloves - don't burn yourself!). Place jar + lid in oven to dry.
  2. Add apple, figs, lemon, water and sugar to saucepan. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until jam is reduced by about 1/2, has very little free liquid, and will 'set' when put on a saucer and left in the fridge. (This took me about 1.5 hours.) Try to squash any big lumps of fig against the side of the saucepan.
    Notice how it has set on the spoon? That's the consistency you're after!
  4. Remove the jar from the oven (use a mitt!). QUICKLY spoon in the jam (all the way to the top!) and use the skewer to get rid of any visible air pockets. Put the lid on as quickly as possible. The secret is to fill up the jar and leave minimal air - this is how to ensure it remains as sterile as possible. Cool on a cooling rack.
An absolutely delicious way to use up leftover figs! I had a little more than would go in my jar, so I filled (clean!) shotglasses to give to my family. These need to be eaten quickly though!

10 February 2010

Restaurant Review - The Beaufort St Merchant

As the name suggests, the Beaufort St Merchant is located on Beaufort St, Highgate (just before the Mt Lawley cafe strip). Half cafe and half specialty food and wine shop, it features cozy chairs, wooden tables, and a 20% markup. Seriously though - the food is awesome (and the coffee is better!) - but a little overpriced (even by Perth standards).

I went to the Merchant with a few friends for coffee on a lazy Sunday afternoon. My hot chocolate ($6) was delicious - and was clearly inspired by the Max Brenner equivalent (although MB sends it out in a custom designed cup with a tealight to keep it warm and a stirrer cum metal straw to make it easy to drink - and costs $5.50) - but seriously, $6 for a glass of steamed milk and a shotglass of choc buds? Yes, I agree the quality is superior to the crap you get in powder form - but worth double the price of a normal cafe hot chocolate?

The food tells the same story. A single date stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in jambon was $4. Again, it was a complex, intense flavour but was completely overpriced. Paying $9 for 10 chips also felt like a serious ripoff. Once again, they were savory, salty and not quite worth $9.

The Merchant is also renowned for its creme brulee. When I tried to order it a) the staff didn't think they had it (but they actually did), and b) $10 worth of creme brulee apparently fits in a sake cup. Same old story - incredibly yummy - but still a bit of a ripoff.

My friends ordered the special of the day - the Sunday roast. Beef sirloin roasted to a perfect medium, served with a Gorgonzola-potato concoction and honeyed carrots. And a hearty serving at that. Now that I could see the value in. Apparently it was a) delicious, and b) quite good value for $22 (by Perth standards). Certainly not cheap - but you could at least see where your money was going.

All in all - it's a place to go to be seen. There is delicious food available - but not on the cheap. If you have a few bucks to spare, it's a lovely way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Service = 3.5/5. We had to wait for quite a while to get a table - but once we had one, the waiters were knowledgeable (and were prepared to admit when they didn't know something - and were willing to check!) and helpful. Not speedy (but it was a Sunday) but certainly good by Perth standards.

Ambiance = 4.5/5. It's the kind of place you don't want to leave. Absolutely lovely inside. Rustic wooden tables and a hodge podge of chairs, sofas and lounges.

Value = 1.5/5. Apart from their specials, it's monstrously expensive for what you're getting. They are trying to charge restaurant prices in something that seems like a cafe or deli. It all feels a bit much.

Taste = 4/5. What they do, they do well. Although my chips weren't properly cooked all the way through, and I wasn't given enough choc buds to make my hot chocolate properly chocolatey, my date was delicious, and the Sunday roasts were divine.

Overall = 13.5/5. Definitely worth a visit - after payday. The specials menu is your best bet.

09 February 2010

Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes

... also known as Chocolate Debacle Cupcakes.

Arg. Today was a day of debacles on a scale I haven't seen for a while... craziness in the office meant that I was several hours later leaving than I should have been (and that's just the tip of the iceberg - I figure I'll be lucky to do less than 14 hours in the office tomorrow...!). I'd promised to make my sister Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes. She was finishing work late, and was going to swing by my house to pick them up.

So. I was running late - and after realizing I had no eggs in the house, had to make a brief detour to the shops - but I thought I would just have time to make a half batch of Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes.

The only problem - I realized AFTER I had put them in the oven that I had halved all the ingredients except for the butter! Yeah... don't do that. But in true lazy cook form, I wasn't going to waste it - I just let them cook until they firmed up. Hey - they weren't going to blow up the oven at least. Small mercies, hey?

And to top it all off, after rushing around like a headless chook, my sister decided she couldn't be bothered picking up the cupcakes today after all!

Ironically, the cupcakes were absolutely delicious. Incredibly moist, chocolatey, and above all, moussey - just goes to show that, no matter how badly you stuff up, something good can still come of it!

So - here is the recipe as it should have been. I got it from my host family when I was staying in Houston on a choir trip. I can vouch for its deliciousness when it is made properly - as well as when you screw up the recipe like I did!

Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes

You will need

200 g dark chocolate (I used orange and almond, but plain is fine)
95 g butter, cut into cubes (I used 190 g... don't do that!)
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/3 C brown sugar
icing sugar, for dusting

large, deep baking dish (big enough to take the cupcake tray
6 cupcake tray
deep patty pans
2 mixing bowls
boiling water
electric beater
wooden spoon
  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Boil kettle. Line cupcake tray with patty pans.
  2. Put chocolate and butter in heatproof mixing bowl. Pour boiling water in saucepan. Place bowl over (but not touching) boiling water to create a double boiler. NOTE water should simmer, not boil. Mix until butter and chocolate are melted and smoothly combined.
  3. Add egg yolks to vanilla and mix.
  4. Once chocolate and butter are combined, allow to cool for a minute or two. Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla mixture.
  5. Add the salt to the egg whites. Beat until frothy (about 1 minute on medium).
  6. Add 1/2 the sugar and beat until combined.
  7. Add the remaining sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat.
  8. 1/3 of the egg whites at a time, fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold until just combined (don't lose the air!).
  9. Spoon mixture into cupcake tray.
  10. Place cupcake tray in deep baking dish and place dish in oven.
  11. Pour boiling water into the deep baking dish down the side (not in the mix! but so it surrounds the cupcake tray), thus creating a bain marie.
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until fully set. Since this is a mousse cake, the traditional skewer test isn't so effective. Just make sure it's fully set in the middle.
  13. Once cool, dust with icing sugar.
For those of you who think it might be a good idea to use a ramekin instead for that pudding effect - don't. Just don't. See the sad looking collapsed one in the front (below):

Voila! I suggest baking this on a debacle free day - but let me tell you, one or two of these after you've had a debacle will make you feel much, much better.

07 February 2010

Cupcake Crumb Pudding

Part of the lazy ethos is that I don't see the point of making something and then not using it. So when I cut the holes in the CranOrange Meringue cupcakes, I couldn't bear to discard the tops. But gluten free cakes go stale very quickly, so when I came to snack on them this arvo and found they had gone hard, I didn't know what to do - until I came across this recipe in one of my mum's old cookbooks, that is.

Cupcake Crumb Pudding (The cover fell off the book, so I'm not sure who to credit it to!) (Makes 3)

You will need:

leftover cupcake tops from this recipe
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup hot milk
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)

3 ramekins
large, deep baking tin
mixing bowl
measuring jug

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Tear up cupcake crumbs into small pieces. Divide equally between ramekins. Top with craisins.
  3. Pour hot milk mixed with sugar, salt, and vanilla slowly into eggs whisking all the while.
  4. Pour the milk and egg mixture over the crumbs into ramekins.
  5. Place dish in a pan of hot water. (It's easiest to place ramekins in the pan, then put the pan in the oven, then pour in hot water!)
  6. Bake at 180 C for 40 min (mine took 1.5 hours) or until knife inserted comes out clean.
Serve hot or cold with cream.

06 February 2010

IC:E - Passion - CranOrange Meringue Cupcakes

Passion should make you feel warm and toasty on the outside - but soft and gooey on the inside. It should be sweet, but with a bit of a tang. Just like these cupcakes!

These made a great addition to our Waitangi Day picnic - if nothing else, they were a fabulous homage to the dessert all Kiwis like to claim credit for, the Pavlova! Let me tell you, they did not last long - they were all gone before dinner was even finished (or even finished cooking for that matter) - and their gluten free-ness wasn't noticeable (except for the coeliac of course!). Highly recommended!

This is my first IC:E - Passion entry. As usual, a shout out to the wonderful prize sponsors:

These were originally going to be Blood Orange Meringue Cupcakes - but when the shops didn't have any blood oranges and I ran out of orange juice, they morphed into...

CranOrange Meringue Cupcakes

For the Vanilla Custard Cupcakes:
You will need:
3/4 cup self-rising gluen free flour
5/8 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
250g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg white
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 cup muffin tin
Electric beaters
mixing bowl
patty pans
wooden spoon + spatula
measuring jug + spoons

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Line 12-cup muffin tins with patty pans.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before adding filling and meringue.
For the CranOrange filling: (from p85 of AWW Little Pies and Cakes)

You will need:
1/2 C caster sugar
2 Tbsp cornflour (White Wings brand is gluten free!)
1/3 C Orange juice
1/3 C cranberry juice
2 Tbsp water
zest 1 orange
75 g butter, chopped
2 egg yolks

small saucepan
measuring cup + spoons
wooden spoon
  1. Combine sugar and cornflour in a small saucepan. Gradually stir in juice and water until smooth.
  2. Cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. NOTE: if horrible looking lumps of cornflour start to form, don't panic - just use the whisk!
  3. Reduce heat; simmer while stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in zest, butter and egg yolks in that order.
  5. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
For the meringue:

You will need:
2 egg whites
1/2 C sugar

clean mixing bowl
electric beaters
  1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  2. Slowly add the sugar, beating all the while until dissolved.
  3. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.
To assemble:

You will need:
Meringue mix
CranOrange filling
Cooled cupcakes

Sharp knife
piping bag
brulee gun (if you don't have one don't worry - you can use a blowtorch or just heat the oven up to the highest temperature and bake for 3 minutes to brown!)

  1. Using a small sharp knife, cut a 2cm-deep x 3cm-wide round from the top of each cooked cake.
  2. Fill the hole with CranOrange filling.
  3. Allow to cool and set for 15 minutes.
  4. Pipe on meringue mix.
  5. Brulee the top of the meringue with brulee gun. NOTE: keep the brulee gun away from the edge of the patty cases or they may catch alight! The easiest way is to sit the cupcake on a level surface and aim the gun from the side with the flame parallel to the surface - things are less likely to burn that way. Remember, you want a toasty brown, not charcoal black meringue!

05 February 2010

Thankyou Cakelaw!

As part of Cakelaw's Laws of the Kitchen 100 blog post celebration, they randomly selected a poster to receive a copy of the Women's Weekly Little Cakes and Pies cookbook. I was lucky enough to win - and it arrived today! (Blog shoutout here - if you haven't checked out Cakelaw's blog you should - there are some seriously good lookin' recipes in there! And I say that not only because they sent me the book but because it is really worth checking out.)

I gotta say - this might sound cheesy but I felt really touched by how thoughtful Cakelaw was. Not only did they go to all that trouble to send it to the middle of nowhere, but they even took the time to wrap it and send a card...! It just made my day - thanks again, Cakelaw!

So - what to make first? One recipe that's high on my Cupcake List is lemon meringue cupcakes. I'm thinking I might adapt the Blood Orange Meringue Pies and make Blood Orange Meringue Cupcakes instead (using their patty cake recipe).

I'm going on a picnic for Waitangi Day tomorrow with some Kiwi friends. So I'll pretend that blood oranges are somehow related to New Zealand and make a batch to bring. Check back tomorrow for the recipe (and photos).

03 February 2010

Something to aspire to...

I didn't have any new year's resolutions this year. Don't get me wrong, there are hundreds - no, thousands - of things that I want to do before the year is out. But something is sticking with me at the moment - cupcakes. I'm thinking I want to do one batch of cupcakes per week. Every time, a different flavour. A different technique. And all gluten free (natch). No excuses - I want to be able to do this right. And preferably learn to take a decent photograph of them!

In the last 6 months, cupcakes seem to have made the antipodean jump in popularity. Cupcakeries have sprung up all over Melbourne. Yes, I know they have always been popular - but since S&TC turned Magnolia Bakery in NYC into the cooking version of Studio 64, cupcakes have been HUGE in the US. Australia is just a bit slow to catch on. Perth hasn't quite caught up yet - but cupcakes are starting to turn up in mainstream delis and city lunch outlets.

I know, I know, I'm just a bandwagon jumper, but there is something just so satisfying about making something... pretty. Oh god, I'm such a girl. Seriously though, everything in my life has purpose and is thoroughly practical - apart from cupcakes. Hell, I don't even have to eat them to enjoy them - it's how utterly useless but universally loved and always appreciated that gives them their appeal, I guess...

I've always lived a somewhat practical existence - finding ways to optimize efficiency, to do what needs to be done with the least amount of effort, to maximize return on investments. That kind of life doesn't have a lot of room for... frills. Cupcakes are frills. Frippery. But utterly fabulous.

I took this photo outside the Cupcake Bakery in Melbourne Central. That's what I'm aspiring to this year - to get to the point where my cupcakes are almost as good. And that is the point of this post!

So. Flavours thus far:

Italicized = Recipes are my own creation

Green = Already Complete

Orange = Not yet complete but I know how I'll do it

Red = Will be made but I'm not sure how I'll do it

- Cinnamon Pancake with Maple Buttercream
- Salted Caramel with Caramel SMBC
- Cinnamon Caramel Fairy Cakes with Cinnamon SMBC

- Cosmopolitan Cupcakes
- Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes
- Lemon Lime Bitters Cupcakes
- Orange Meringue Cupcakes
- Fig & Honey Cupcakes

- Red Velvet cupcakes (well, everyone is always going on about them...!) - this recipe
- Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes (low fat, low GI but high taste!) This Recipe
- Blueberry Polenta Cupcakes
- Some form of high-hat cupcake

- Carrot cake Cupcakes (for Easter! Yay!)








- Gingerbread cupcakes

What other flavours? Please post your faaaaaaaaaavourite cupcakes!

(Mine so far is definitely Salted Caramel!)

Carbonara - The (Almost) Traditional Way

The Abstract Gourmet (who, by the way, is a FAR better writer than myself - check it out) has recently been espousing the joys of a proper carbonara. Now, I love carbonara - all forms of carbonara (even the boarding school carbonara he despised - 3 years in a boarding school and 5 years in a residential college couldn't put me off it!), including the ones in which I replace the fettucini/spaghetti with rice noodles. (Hey, they're thin and flat - totally counts!) I normally do a quiche-type thing with eggs, bacon, cream, cheese and spaghetti/rice noodles which I then bake in the oven. It's delicious and easy, but not exactly what you'd describe as traditional. However, this recipe from the Abstract Gourmet seems to be a) quick (even quicker than my usual one!), b) almost as easy, and c) slightly less bad for you (2 cups of cream doesn't exactly make the arteries sing...!)

I replaced the spaghetti with rice noodles (I didn't have any gluten free pasta in the house and I couldn't be arsed going to the shops) and bacon instead of guanciale or pancetta (again, the lazy factor came into play) so it's not *exactly* traditional... but it's still yummy and easy!

Since my mum came over for dinner, I served it with some salad - she's the kind of woman who firmly believes a meal is not complete unless there is green on the plate - but it's a meal in and of itself if you can't be bothered being healthy!

Lazy Cook's Take on Traditional Carbonara
  • 4 rashers bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • 2 large cloves Garlic minced
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • handful finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 packet rice noodles
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Extra parmesan, to top
frying pan + spatula
knife + cutting board
  1. Slice the bacon up into small pieces.
  2. Mince the garlic and fry it in a hot pan with olive oil until it’s soft, then add the bacon and fry them together.
  3. Put your noodles into a pot with plenty of salt and boil it until al dente (about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave if you're using rice noodles).
  4. Once the noodles are done, drain it well and then add it to the pan with the bacon, tossing it well.
  5. Crack the eggs and mix them together with the cheese, take the pan completely off the heat and then pour the eggs into the pasta, stirring constantly to combine it. What you’re making is a very simple sauce where the egg cooks just enough from the heat of the pasta to bind it all together with a lovely creamy texture. Add a little of the noodle water if you need to get some more movement happening.
  6. Toss it all together well, add the handful of parsley and a sprinkling of fresh black pepper. Salt to taste.
  7. Top with the extra parmesan and serve

01 February 2010

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes

Ugh. I was feeling absolutely miserable today - first day back at work after my Melbourne holiday. I was absolutely swamped, but I had also come down with a nasty bug. I ended up having to go home early. I tried sleeping for a while, but I was really craving a cocktail - but let's face it, alcohol isn't really the best cure for illness. So I decided to turn my misery into productivity, and made a cupcake version of one of my favourite cocktails - a Cosmopolitan.

The traditional cosmo flavours are lime, orange (through the cointreau) and, of course, cranberry. So I decided to make lime cupcakes with the orange and cranberry flavours incorporated into the icing. Since I didn't use any booze, I tried to make the citrussy flavours pack as much of a punch as possible - and I was rather pleased with the results! The cupcakes were light and fluffy with a big lime hit, and the frosting was creamy, fluffy and delicious. Topping cosmo cupcakes off with a virgin Cosmo - I reckon that's a better cure for a bug than chicken soup...

OK I'll be honest - even after cupcakes and cocktails I'm still pretty sick. But at least I get to be sick and happy!

Lime Cupcakes (based on this recipe for lemon cupcakes from HTEAC)

You will need:

250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1.5 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
zest of 2 limes
juice of 1.5 limes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 drop green food dye (optional)

cupcake tin (12 cupcakes)
patty pans
mix master/hand beater
3 bowls
knife + cutting board
measuring cups + spoons

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Insert patty pans into a medium cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating 1 minute after each addition.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Mix until completely integrated. Add the lime zest, juice, food dye and vanilla. Mix the batter for 30 seconds.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes (mine took 29) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.

Cranberry - Orange SMBC (my own recipe)

1 C cranberry juice (preferably unsweetened but you can use sweetened if you can't get it)
zest + juice of 1 orange
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 C sugar
2 egg whites

hand beater/mixmaster
saucepan + wooden spoon
boiling water
  1. Mix juices + orange zest in a small saucepan. Simmer (do NOT boil! All the lovely aromatic oils from the zest will evaporate) and allow to reduce by about 3/4. It will be slightly syrupy, but not viscous. Allow to cool.
  2. Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 70 C).
  3. Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
  4. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add cranberry-orange reduction and continue beating 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles.
Virgin Cosmo

juice 1/2 lime + 1 slice for garnish
juice 1/2 an orange
1 C cranberry juice

  1. Mix the juices together and shake over ice.
  2. Serve in a tall glass and garnish with lime slice.