Archive for January, 2010

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Nanaimo Bars

January 27, 2010


The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and http://www.nanaimo.ca.

Daring Kitchen instalment!

I have been wanting to make these since I originally heard of them, but knowing that they sounded exactly like something I would have very limited will power or control over whether or not I ate them, had given me pause. For a number of months actually, however when I saw this challenge I knew it was time!

On a little side note, it amused me that the reveal date for something that is “quintessentially” Canadian was the day after we Australian’s celebrate being Australian. Australia Day! Where I might add, I spent the day in the company of 11 South Africans, and the closest thing to “aussie” food I had was some beetroot (which yes I was looked at oddly when I added this too my salad – the only thing that would’ve made it better was if it was in a burger!)

Anyway, after that little side note – I made these in batches. I started with the Graham Cookies, which were interesting to make to say the least. The dough was incredibly sticky and like some others have said, I used two layers of floured parchment paper to roll them out. I however could not get them too slice into appropriate square/rectangular shapes (or perhaps I just did not persevere enough) and ended up popping them in my Avanti Cookie Press and making delightful round crackers. I could not have been happier with the taste! I was nibbling away happily on them once baked, and I immediately bagged some up to take to work for my GF colleague, provided her with the recipe, whilst emailing on the recipe to my grandmother and a dear friend who are also GF. I then quickly ground up the amount I needed for the bars and sealed away the rest of them before I could eat anymore!

I then started the rest of the process a few days later, I was looking for a cooler day. Alas, Brisbane was not forthcoming in this and I had to rely on a few hours of chilling between each step as well as air-conditioning at full blast (ok…24 degrees, but that’s full!) I was taking this with me to the aforementioned Australia Day gathering of the Clan. In light of this I could not use coconut in the base (though for me this would’ve just made the bar that little bit more divine) as coconut and my SIL do not mix and whilst I was making another dessert to take as well, I wanted the option to eat this to be there for her. So, like a few others I used Rice Bubbles as a substitute – having read some other entries, I think my SIL would’ve been in eating heaven if I’d made the middle layer PB! Though I did happily have some Birds Custard on hand which I used instead and since this is her favourite (and I think actually the only custard she’ll eat) I still did ok I think. Also, because I had gone all out with the base and middle catering to my SIL, I figured I had to go the whole hog, and the chocolate that I used was Fair Trade Dark Chocolate, it actually is one of my favourite chocolates to melts so that worked out well.

I had some leftovers that I shared with some friends, who enjoyed it and the Clan were quite receptive (starting out with just one little piece before having just another little piece) so all in all I think it was a great challenge. It did melt rather quickly when left out to its own devices but I think that just encouraged us all to get into it that bit quicker! I think next time I would make it all a bit thicker though, so smaller size, fatter bar perhaps? And I also need to thank the Husband who was my avid photographer for the day (excuse the cling wrap) my knee was pushed to its limits doing this and I had to sit down and rest after!

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
Ingredients
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients:
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

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Haloumi bake

January 24, 2010


This Flavour of the Month from Nigella Biteshappened simply because I needed some comfort type food. And, funnily enough Nigella even pops this recipe in her comfort food section!

I was flipping through and pondering what to back, when I re-read the description where she speaks of almost caramelised onions and garlic and the uncompromising plain saltiness of the haloumi and I had just had to make it. The day had started out wonderfully – the Husband and I woke up at around 3am, grabbed some coffee in our travel mugs and hopped into the car to drive 45 minutes to a nearby point so that the Husband could try out his new lens and take some photos. All in practice for our impending trip he tells me, apparently one must practice with a new lens to take perfect shots with them. As you can all probably tell from my photos, me – not an avid photographer! I have a ‘fancy’ G10 – so it’s a bit more upmarket then just a standard point and shoot. And, I don’t use it on full auto, I do use it Aperture Priority, and I do change the ISO and well…I just play until the photo looks ok. I have PE7 installed so I can do some processing, but I don’t get the same enjoyment out of it that the Husband does and he has much more equipment then I do (40D, flash, 2 tripods with 2 heads, 5 different lenses (wants more), filters etc) and has a full version of Photoshop that he will spend hours using to process. Anyway, I digress, anyway the day started out wonderfully…

However, on arrival at said point, I decided that my coffee would finally be cool enough for me to consume and I tipped to take a big gulp, only to have it dribble all down my front! I investigate and the seal on my Brugo is now dead…..gone and buried, so no coffee for me. The Husband has his with milk so he’d been slowly drinking his whilst driving so he could not share with me. We had a pleasant enough time there, he took lots of photos, I took lots – his much better than mine of course and then headed off for breakfast with some friends. Coffee attempted again, this time I thought I’d try a latte, ick…weak! oh no! Good company though, even though they’d forgotten we were coming and so we had a mad dash run around getting ready before we headed out to breakfast. Thankfully they have a little near 2 yo who had them up anyway so at least we did not wake them!

On our way home we stopped so the Husband could get some new batteries for his flash, I grabbed another latte (and some raisin toast…I only had yoghurt for breakfast!) and thankfully this time it was nice! And I grabbed my sunglasses which were finally ready after 2 weeks of driving around with a squint! However, at this point my knee was aching!!! And it was HOT and I was over it! I got home and it was nearly lunch time and I decided that I needed comforting. Ergo, this recipe!

I had to adapt it a little, the Husband doesn’t like sweet potato, and I wanted to have some leftovers, so there was a bit more potato then originally called for and I didn’t have any peppers and I wasn’t willing at this point to go and get them. So next time around, I will add a red and yellow pepper to add some depth of flavour, but it worked out well without them. It just didn’t have all the good-mood colours Nigella spoke of. And I probably made the cheese a little more golden then some like, but it is as always a matter of personal preference.

Potato and Haloumi Bake


5 Desiree potatoes
1 onion
½ head of garlic
4T olive oil
Black pepper
125g Haloumi, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 200C
Cut the potato up. Halve the onion, and then cut into 4-6 segments. Separate the cloves of garlic. Put everything into a large roasting tin and using your hands give potato and onion with olive oil. Season with black pepper. Cook for 45 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Then place the cheese on the top and grill until the cheese is melted, serve.

Original recipe calls for 1 each red and yellow pepper deseeded, and 1 large sweet potato and 1 large Desiree – so try those if you like.

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Peaches & Blueberries

January 20, 2010


It was family dinner night last night, and due to a number of reasons I chose a very simple dessert for my offering.

As mentioned on numerous other occasions, my knee injury does limit me. I’m improving slowly and I’m getting to be able to spend more time in the kitchen again (thank goodness) so I’m on my way. But, also considering that I have less than 1 calendar month until I go on a 6 week holiday I was not and am not keen on creating baked goods that are likely to leave leftovers behind which I will end up needing to freeze and divvy out slowly over a period of time. Because, let’s face it, I don’t have the time! I could leave it in the freezer whilst I’m away but 6 weeks is a long time, and my grandmother will be house sitting and she has a lot of things that need freezing. So, I did not want to stock up my freezer with things she can’t eat and that my grandfather shouldn’t! And finally, because we’d had a family Christmas on the weekend due to my BIL, SIL and Little E being back from the UK, I’d forgotten that it was Tuesday, I felt actually like it was the end of the week! I was thrown!

So, in light of these things I went with Nigella’s Peaches and Blueberries! Which she actually calls a “suggestion” not a recipe, I guess it is really. Because one doesn’t do more than slice up some peaches, sprinkle them with simple blueberries and add a few drops of orange flower water. There is a suggestion to sprinkle these with Demerara sugar and cook for 20 or so minutes in the oven but that seemed unnecessary in light of the Brisbane weather.

I did add some sliced mango to the side of the dish (not photographed) to cater to my BIL who’s been missing out on mango’s whilst away, and because apparently we’re in a “glut” (despite the fact that this is not really reflected in mango pricing…at least not in any of my local fruit stores!) and he doesn’t really get them at home, as my SIL does not enjoy mangoes. Having said that, Little E tried a mango for the first time and said “yum” and asked for more, which she couldn’t eat because she got full but still, maybe that means mango will feature more at their house in the future?

Also, I halved the recipe.

Peaches & Blueberries


3 Peaches, sliced
2 punnets blueberries
1 t orangeflower water

Flavour of the Month Nigella Bites

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Carnita

January 17, 2010


I made these awhile back, they were delicious and so moist and juicy. I loved it! I am not a big pork eater usually; the Husband is so I try really hard to incorporate it into our diet every now and then. I think I was influenced by my mum. She hated it, has never liked pork at all, so we very rarely had it. On a few occasions in my life we had some roasted pork – crackling and apple sauce but for the most part we never had it.

I always try to do something with the pork that will appeal to me, it’s not so much that I don’t enjoy the flavour, because I do. In small amounts, but I just never seem to enjoy it in more than 2 mouthful quantities. The Husband, always orders sweet & sour pork when we go chinese takeaway (and thai if they have it) he will ask for pork ribs over beef ribs, pork sausage is his favourite – do you get the picture? So when I saw this recipe and envisioned the ways it could be all moist and good I had to give it a go. Pleased I did I must say!

Carnitas


4-5-pounds boneless pork should, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
water
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoon chile powder
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced

1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt.
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Heat the oven to 180C degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.

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Satay Chicken

January 14, 2010


The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

And let me tell you it was delicious! It was highly amusing for me to see this be the challenge for the month. Because the day before it was revealed my family went and purchased some local takeaway and that takeaway included a beef satay. Which they felt whilst nice, was not “right” it didn’t hit the spot and they requested that I find a recipe to find that right spot! So I had in essence already been set a challenge by my family. So cue the next day and I log on eagerly to see what the Daring Kitchen had in store for me. And voila! How fortuitous!

Now I waited patiently to actually try it out on them, I wasn’t going to start it straight away, not with all the indulging they were to do in a few days, I thought it was worthwhile making them wait until after Christmas and they’d settled back into “normal” foods and make this a little treat.

I did a chicken version instead of a pork, because I was also feeding my grandma who (if you’ve read previous posts) is a ‘vegetarian’ and whilst I considered a tofu option, the Husband would’ve protested and I didn’t fancy doing multiple this time around so I just went with chicken.

I did the long version and marinated the chicken for about 9 hours and did add a bit of chilli and fish sauce but not too much chilli because whilst I wanted a little bit of a kick, I didn’t want it to knock out the grandma who has a sensitive palate!

I also – did not put them on skewers, I know the recipe called for this, but if there is one cooking thing I’m bad with, it’s skewers. I never use them, I can’t do it – I find it frustrating to threat on meat to a stick, just to have people pull it off. I know it looks “cool” but I can present on a plate nicely without them (or at least I think so!)
Verdict? It was perfect! They said it hit that spot and the flavour depth and quality was just the right amount of nuttiness. I also served it with a soba noodle with vegetable mix because of the grandmother’s dietary requirements.

The only thing that the family said to me upon eat it, was that they wished there was a bit more of the sauce to go about. I think that is just a bit of a habitual thing for this family, being used to copious amounts of sauce on things that have a sauce. Rather than a true reflection of the cuisine. Having said that though, part of what I love and enjoy about cooking is the opportunities to take a cuisine and adapt it to suit the tastes of my family as well – so I guess I would be being true to my passion by giving them that extra sauce?

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Cornbread (on-the-cob)

January 13, 2010


So i thought I’d start a little early with my Flavour of the Month I was not going to start until next week, but I needed to do something for dinner that was really easy but not just meat and vegies. That is boring!!!! This recipe seemed perfect for it because you threw it in bowl, mixed it together and you’re good.

So from there I pounced on Nigella Bites simply because it was one of the cookbooks I got over Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary Celebrations. And it was the one I thought most appropriate. The others were very much bread/carb focused which in small amounts if fine, but after over indulgence during the above celebrations I really could not have those things with a 6 week holiday where Ill end up eating whatever I am sure.

So anyway, Nigella suggests these with stews, black bean soup, fried eggs and bacon or just for breakfast. I served them on this occasion for the Husband with sweet and sour pork.

Cornbread (on-the-cob)


175g cornmeal (or polenta)
125g plain flour
45g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1T baking bowder
250ml milk
1 egg
3T olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C
Grease the moulds – if no corn on the cob moulds, grease a square tin, or a bun muffin tin.
Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. In a measuring jug beat together the milk, egg and oil. Then pour the wet into the dry stirring until just combined. Pour into the moulds and cook for about 20/25 minutes. When ready the cornbread should be just pulling away from the sides.

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*sigh*

January 13, 2010

I am feeling slightly kitchen deprived. I have had the 365 day challenge to occupy me somewhat but not enough. Now that I have “diagnosis” and a plan of attack to not treat my knee as though it is injured perhaps I can start up again? but on the flip side I’ve got 36 days until I head overseas and one should really be food conscious before going away because of the extra weight one will gain whilst away! Especially in light of the fact that I intend to tick off as many of these as possible!

To pass some time right now, when I should be at the gym and yet aren’t due to said injury I thought I’d do a meme entry – why not hey?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Obviously this is only based on limited knowledge/experience/understanding of what it would actually be like, but the Scottish Highlands ideally, but Scotland in general would be great for me. Some people find cold/wet/snowy weather miserable. Me? not at all, I thrive on it, the longer it lasts the happier and more content I feel. It’s refreshing to me, having said that I do live in Sunny Queensland, and experience a lot of sunshine – much to my chagrin but this is where I live, and I wouldn’t move really, I like being near the Clan, I’d miss them, and if my mother would just hurry up and move over, all would be good in the world!

Which cuisine (don’t say “desserts”!) fascinates you the most and why?
I’m fascinated by them all for different reasons, mostly to do with the interesting and bold ways flavours and textures are mixed together in different cuisines in ways that I as a person influenced heavily by her British Grandmother would think was right/normal/would work. I love seeing and trying different ways people work with different foods.

Celebrity chefs – a godsend or completely overrated?
Ahhh well, I guess it depends on what you hope to get from them. A revival in people cooking again? then a godsend, a plethora of people who just want to dine out in these peoples restaurants then overrated!

Dinner of a life-time… what would it be?
Simple – Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding with all the trimmings and Apple Pie and Custard for dessert. It’s a simple dish, and one that I always love to eat. ALWAYS! it would be my deathrow meal! I food don’t get me wrong, and if anyone asked I’d say Italian food is my “go to” comfort food, but this dish would and always is the perfect thing at the end of a day!

Apart from dessert, what do you take the most enjoyment out in life?
Honestly? I’d love to say just baking/cooking (since this is a blog about that) as it is something I love an enjoy and I use it extensively to make myself feel better, and to show people that I care about them. I’d also like to just say the Husband, and the wonderful pure love I feel from him each day, the way he can calm me down in a storm of emotions simply by being him and his stable self. But, I also love the work I do (at the moment anyway, perhaps I’ll burn out one day and stop) I am a social worker, and I do it because I love it, not because of any monetary benefit, not because of any recognition, but purely because I like to help people! At a basic level that is what it boils down too, whatever way it is that I’m helping them, small or large, if it helps that person in their space then I feel that warm fuzzy feeling and so I guess perhaps I don’t do it just for them? because I do get something out of it yes? but these 3 things are what keep me going, each day, what give me a purpose and a direction.