February 29, 2008
The service was faultless as usual so we were able to enjoy a no-rush dinner and be out of there in plenty of time to see the show.
February 28, 2008
Last night we had a Donna beef stir-fry that was in the H/S on Sunday and it was pretty ordinary. And a few things I've cooked from the mag lately haven't been that good either. So I'm thinking the early Donna recipes were much better than her recent ones.
Here's the yummy pork recipe :
Donna Hay's Pork ginger and lime stir-fry
1 T peanut oil
2 T shredded ginger
1 t cracked black pepper
6 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2 cloves garlic, sliced
600g pork fillet, trimmed and sliced
3 T lime juice
2 T brown sugar
3 T sweet chilli sauce
bunch bok choy
Heat oil in a frying pan or wok. Add ginger, pepper, lime leaves and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add pork and stir-fry for 5 mins. or till well browned. Add lime juice, sugar and sweet chilli sauce and fry further 3 mins. or until sauce has thickened slightly. Toss through the bok choy and cook 1 min. Serve with steamed rice.
February 27, 2008
They satisfy two of my passions - cakes and all things miniature!
The macaroons bring back memories of Laduree in Paris where we first bought some real ones and Georgie and I thought we'd died and gone to heaven. Jeff and I had them again in London when we had afternoon tea in Laduree Harrods, and again in Tokyo where we tried two or three different kinds - including Pierre Herme's - from the wonderful department store Isetan Shinjuku.
I nearly got thrown out for snapping the pic above in Harrods! So when we sat down I took this one just to spite them...
How cute are these cheese straws...
The bears wish they had a pot of tea to have with their cakes...
Now I gotta find me a little bakery display case.
February 21, 2008
February 19, 2008
I've spent the morning baking and frosting two dozen chocolate cupcakes for the choir dinner tonight and now the kitchen (which was already pretty hot before I started) is 34C according to the temperature gauge thingy on the wall. And I'm thinking HOW COME I HAVE TO BAKE CAKES AND OTHERS GET TO MAKE A SALAD??
Ok, I've had my whinge. The good news is I now have a great chocolate cupcake recipe. Someone has recommended it on Rose Levy Beranbaum's website which I checked out to find an answer to yesterday's "flat/peaked cupcake" mystery. It seems that leaving the batter to sit for a while results in a "domier" cake. Anyway, the recipe is one from Rose's The Cake Bible. I've had my copy for years - it's practically falling to bits - and the thing Iove about it is that the recipes list the ingredients by cup measure and by weight. I've found most American recipes use only cup measures which are not nearly so accurate. The cakes turned out perfectly light and moist and not too sweet.
Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Fudge Cake(s) (makes 24)
All ingredients should be at room temperature.
85g Dutch process cocoa powder
354g boiling water
3 large eggs
1 1/2t pure vanilla extract
300g sifted cake flour (I used plain)
434g light brown sugar
2 1/4 t baking powder
1 1/4 t bicarb soda
3/4 t salt
227 unsalted butter (must be softened)
Preheat oven to 175C. In a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Leave to cool to room temperature.
In another bowl lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high if using a hand mixer) and beat for 11/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides of bowl. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
Measure into 2 paper-lined muffin tins and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in tins for a minute before turning out. Leave until completely cool before frosting. **
Chocolate Ganache :
Heat 120 ml/g of thickened cream until boiling. Add 160g grated dark chocolate and leave to stand a minute or so until melted. Stir until smooth, add 1 Tab butter and stir until smooth again.
**I had enough mixture for a few small patty cakes as well and most of these separated from the paper liners while they were cooling. Will have to check that website again. This isn't baking - this is SCIENCE!
February 18, 2008
There was a bit of leftover batter (I'll make the 24 a bit bigger next time) which was enough for another 3 when the first lot came out of the oven. The one on the right (below) is the one of the 2nd batch left to stand for 25 minutes. See how it's peaky and the other one flat? No doubt RLB knows why that happened - will check out her site/book later to try and find the answer.
I topped them with the same cream cheese frosting I used for the Red Velvet cupcakes - recipe here.
I'll do a bit of searching tonight to find a nice chocolate cupcake recipe using cocoa. The kitchen is now pretty hot so I'll make them first thing tomorrow.
And just between us ... I nipped down to the corner to buy a takeaway coffee while the cakes were cooling. I left the house in (floury) cut-off tracky pants and thongs and with my bra straps showing. I realised, sadly, that after just 12 days of being retired I'd completely let myself go.
February 17, 2008
February 15, 2008
Recipe as promised yesterday....
Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes approx 24)
All ingredients should be at room temperature.
250g cake flour or plain flour
2 T dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 t bicarb soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 t white vinegar
red food colouring (enough to colour the batter bright red. The amount depends on what kind you're using. I used about 1 teaspoon of Wilton's "Christmas red" concentrated paste)
Preheat oven to 175 C. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs singly, beating until each is incorporated. In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar and vanilla. Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/2 of the wet, repeat, then finish with dry. Stir in red food colouring as above. Scoop into paper-lined cupcake tins and bake for about 20 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool 5 mins in tins before turning out.
These are yummy topped with cream cheese frosting :
250g Philly cream cheese (I read it should be used straight from the fridge - creamier result??)
70g butter at room temp.
1 t pure vanilla extract
Cream together. When smooth gradually add 21/2 cups pure icing sugar.
February 14, 2008
See the creamy coloured ones? They're Red Velvet - a flavour I keep reading about in U.S. cake blogs. I found a million recipes for it one the net and from them made my own version. They taste very good with cream cheese frosting. I'll post the recipe tomorrow. I'm a bit over cakes right this minute. If I ever had the teeniest thought I might like to make cupcakes for money, today I knew I could never do it.
February 10, 2008
For the base :
Process 55g plain sweet biscuits in food processor, add 1/3 cup almond meal and 30g melted butter and process until combined. Press into a paper-lined muffin tin.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place 150g frozen raspberries in a shallow oven-proof dish, sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and bake for 15 mins, stirring once or twice. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Lower oven temp to 140C.For the cheesecake:
Process 500g cream cheese until smooth. Add 3/4 cup sour cream, 2 eggs, a scant cup caster sugar and 1 tspn vanilla and process until smooth again. Pour over bases (I only had enough filling for 8 so I had to discard 4 of the biscuit-lined papers - next time I'll slightly decrease the amount of base ingredients) and bake for 30 mins.
February 9, 2008
February 7, 2008
I don't like the word retirement much. It sounds like something old people do. I certainly don't feel old enough to do it. So I'll just say yesterday was my last ever day working at the library.
My last couple of weeks have been spent frantically pinching everybody's off-desk time trying to get everything up to date for my replacement...whoever that may be. I cleared out my desk, filling up 3 wastepaper bins in the process. I sent farewell messages to all my Interlibrary Loan buddies from other library services, and got lots of replies from them wishing me all the best, good luck, telling me I'd be missed etc, which was lovely and very heart-warming.
My last day was simply fantastic. There was a lovely afternoon tea with speeches and gifts and flowers. And there was singing too! Sweet gorgeous Katie had written a farewell song to the tune of Hey Jude - what else? - and everyone sang ... it was hilarious. Then after work there was a dinner with a dozen close work mates. But it all felt a little surreal too. The library has been a big part of my life for 16 years which adds up to a lot of good times and a million laughs. I felt very sad to be leaving all my workmates. There have been so many special people I've worked with over the years. A few of them have become lifelong friends so of course I'll still see them.
I have no definite plans for the future. I'll have more time to spend meeting friends, reading, patchworking, knitting, exercising, and practising my choir music, and hopefully there'll be some worthy cause that could use another volunteer. But who am I going to make cakes for?
February 3, 2008
Here's the absolutely scrumptious dinner she cooked tonight .....
coconut, lime & chilli chicken (serves 4)
1Tab peanut oil
2 red chillies, seeded and chopped
finely grated rind of 2 limes
12 chicken tenderloins
100g baby spinach
300g beans, blanched
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup coriander leaves
juice of 3 limes
1 Tab fish sauce
Heat oil in pan. Fry chillies, rind and sugar for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook 2 mins each side until golden. Mix dressing ingredients to combine. Place spinach leaves and beans in serving dish, top with chicken and pour over dressing.