Sunday, January 12, 2014

Peking Style Shredded Pork


Ingredients
350g pork, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon baking soda
green shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pork Marinade 
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
1½ teaspoons chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon cornflour
pinch of ground white pepper
Sauce 
2 tablespoons spicy bean paste sauce 
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
Method
Marinate the pork with the baking soda for 10 minutes and then rinse clean the pork thoroughly of the baking soda. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and then marinate with the Chinese cooking wine, chicken stock powder, corn flour and ground white pepper. Mix well and let stand for 10-15 minutes.

In a sauté pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of oil on high heat. Add pork and stir fry until half cooked, about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Using the same sauté pan, reduce to medium heat. Add bean paste sauce, water and sugar. Sauté until sauce begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Add back the pork to sauté until fully cooked. Sprinkle over the sliced green onions. Serve with rice.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rolled Oat Biscuits

I ate some rolled oat biscuits at a Xmas family gathering and loved them. Have been wanting to recreate them ever since and finally got around to doing some baking today. They were actually quite easy to make!



Ingredients


180g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar 
1 cup flour, plus extra
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 cups rolled oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup milk

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 150ºC.  Line and grease 2 large oven baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a cake mixer, beat well for about 5 minutes. Sift over the flour, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice. Add rolled oats, fold these in by hand. 
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk, then mix thoroughly into mixture.  
  4. Roll about ½ tablespoonfuls (about walnut size pieces) of the oat mixture into balls and place, about 5cm apart, on the prepared trays. Press down slightly with your hand or a floured fork.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Biscuits will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Notes & Tips
  • Brown sugar helps give the biscuit a browner and richer flavour. It also helps hold in moisture and makes the biscuits softer and chewier. If you prefer a crunchier biscuit, replace with caster sugar instead
  • Make sure that the biscuits are totally cooled before you put them away.
  • To keep your biscuits soft and chewy, place them in a sealed container with a slice of bread. The biscuits will draw moisture from the bread making it nice and soft again. The bread will become hard in a few days though so be sure to change it. This trick also works if you have hard sugar.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Strawberry Mousse Chocolate Cake

This is a revised recipe of my strawberry mousse cake. I first made this cake for my mum's birthday and have since made it again for a Christmas family gathering. 



Ingredients

A) 1x chocolate sponge cake, cut into 2 even layers



B) 400g strawberry
     ¼ cup caster sugar
     1 tablespoon lemon juice
     1 teaspoon strawberry essence

C)  300ml cream
     3 tablespoons icing sugar
     ½ teaspoon pink food colouring (optional)

D) 1 tablespoon gelatine powder 
     50ml hot water 

E)  Extra strawberries sliced and cubed (as much as you like- I used approx 125g)


F)  100ml thickened cream
     1 tablespoon icing sugar, extra

G)  Sugar syrup glaze (optional)

H)  6 strawberries, halved for garnish 

Method

  1. Clean and hull 400g strawberries. Add ¼ cup caster sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes. Purée them in a blender and put it through the strainer. You should get about 400ml strawberry purée  Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon strawberry essence. Reserve 1½ tablespoons of this purée for the swirl effect.
  2. In a chilled bowl, whip 300ml cream with 3 tablespoons icing sugar till mousse state.
  3. Dissolve 1 tablespoon gelatine in 50ml hot water, whisk with a fork, let stand for 5 minutes then stir this into the strawberry purée
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture. Add pink food colouring, if using. Pour into a measuring jug.
  5. Line the inner circumference of a spring form cake pan with plastic cake tape. Place a slice of the chocolate sponge cake at the base, cut side up and top it with half the mousse. Add in the strawberry pieces (leave a 2cm border around the cake). Press the fruits down gently if needed. Top it with some mousse just enough to cover the strawberry pieces.
  6. Top it with another layer of chocolate sponge cake and pour the rest of the mousse on it.
  7. Spoon teaspoonfuls of the reserved purée onto the surface of the mousse on desired positions and swirl it with a toothpick to create the swirls. I put a few teaspoons on the middle of the cake and the rest at clock position of 12, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.
  8. Cover the cake pan with cling wrap (twice). Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  9. Brush the halved strawberries with sugar syrup. Set aside.
  10. Use an electric beater to beat 100ml thickened cream and 1 tablespoon icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. 
  11. Place the cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1cm fluted nozzle and pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake. Arrange some glazed strawberries around the cake between the cream rosettes. 
  12. Cut the cake into wedges to serve. 
To make sugar syrup:

100ml water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unflavoured gelatine powder
  1. Pour water, sugar and gelatine powder into a small sauce pan.
  2. Stir the ingredients to combine over medium heat until the sugar and gelatine dissolves and the water begins to simmer.
  3. Remove the pan from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Brush the glaze over fruit while slightly warm.
Notes & Tips

  • I lined the inner circumference of my spring form cake pan with plastic cake tape and trimmed my cake to be smaller than the spring form pan. This way the mousse will cover the whole cake and you don’t need to cream the cake. If you don't have any cake tape, use baking paper instead.
  • You can make your own plastic cake tape using acetate sheets bought from an arts & craft store. Start by measuring the height of the cake pan (approx 2.5 inches) and cut a long rectangular strip out of the acetate sheet (length of the strip is the circumference of the cake + 2 cm extra).
  • You could also decorate this cake with a patterned white chocolate collar if you wish
  • If you notice that you have not completely covered the cake with the mousse, you could do a bit of patchwork by using up the left over cream for the rosettes- add  ¼ tsp pink food coloring to the cream and spread/fill in the spaces and smooth it out using a cake scraper. 
  • If you don't have strawberry essence, you could use strawberry flavoured gelatine powder instead
  • You'll need approx. 3 punnets of strawberries for this recipe.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Piggy Cupcakes


Ingredients

1 dozen vanilla cupcakes, cooled
store bought white icing/frosting
pink food colouring
24 blue rainbow pearls (eyes)
12 white marshmallows (nose)
pink icing pen (nostrils)
12 pink marshmallows, halved (ears)

Method
  1. Tint the icing with the tiniest amount of pink food colouring. Mix very, very well.
  2. Spread a layer on each cupcake, making the surface smooth.
  3. Place the eyes on the Piggy's using the rainbow pearls.
  4. Place one white marshmallow for the nose.
  5. Using the pink icing pen, make 2 dots on the nose marshmallow to make nostrils.
  6. Take one pink marshmallow and cut through the centre. Pinch each end so they are pointy. Place on cupcake, cut side down as ears on the Piggy's face.
Notes & Tips

Make sure you give the Piggy a generous coating of icing so the marshmallows stick

If you wanted to make these cupcakes look more like Miss Piggy from the Muppets, you could add a set of eyelashes using a black icing pen and adding a bow (made from fondant) in between the ears

Friday, December 20, 2013

Reindeer Biscuits

I had a few packets of left over arrowroot biscuits from the Christmas Carols festival biscuit decorating stall I ran so thought I'd do my own decorating and make some reindeer biscuits for morning tea. These are also great to give away as Christmas gifts- just place a couple in a clear cellophane bag and tie up with some ribbon


Makes 16

Ingredients

1x 250g pkt Arrowroot biscuits (to make face)
1 cup milk chocolate melts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (1 tablespoon per 1 cup of chocolate)
8 mini white marshmallows (to make eyes)
Black icing pen (to make pupils)
16 red jaffas or red Cadbury mini drops (to make nose)
8 mini pretzels (to make antlers)

Method
  1. Cut mini marshmallows in half. Add a small drop of black food writing gel to the uncut side.
  2. Using a serrated knife, cut mini pretzels in half 
  3. Line a tray with non stick baking paper
  4. Place chocolate and vegetable oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium for 30 seconds, stirring after each time until smooth. (The vegetable oil helps to make the chocolate glossy and runny).
  5. Dip one side of the biscuit into the melted chocolate, allow excess to drip off. Place onto tray. 
  6. Gently place 2 mini marshmallows, cut sides down onto biscuit (to make eyes)
  7. Gently place a red jaffa on the bottom of the biscuit (to make nose)
  8. Gently push 2 mini pretzels into the chocolate biscuit (to make antlers).
  9. Repeat with remaining biscuits
  10. Once all the biscuits are decorated, place the baking tray in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened.
  11. Store decorated biscuits in an airtight container. Lay them flat with layers of baking paper in between each level
Notes & tips

Chocolate cools and hardens quickly after it melts, so it is best to have all your decorating items ready for assembly

Make sure chocolate is added to a dry bowl. Even one stray drop of water can cause melting chocolate to seize, or harden, ruining its texture and consistency. Seized chocolate won't melt smoothly, no matter how long you stir it.

You could create 8 reindeer with brown noses and 1 with a red nose just like in the story- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!

Turkish Rice Pilaf

There's a charcoal chicken takeaway place just up the road from where I live and I love eating the rice that is served with the chicken. Wanting to recreate the meal at home one day, I had a go at making my own Turkish rice pilaf. I'm not sure how authentic this Turkish rice pilaf recipe is but it tastes pretty similar to the take away place and was quite easy to whip up.


Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice
 cup risoni pasta
2 cups chicken stock
Olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder

Method
  1. Drizzle 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat and add the risoni when the oil has warmed up. Sautee the risoni until it browns.
  2. Add the rice and combine until everything is coated with the oil and toast together for about a minute. Add the stock (there will be a sizzle and steam) and a generous pinch of salt, bring to a boil, and cover. Drop the stove to very low and let cook for 20 minutes. Do not lift the cover to stir or even check progress.
  3. Once the 20 minutes has passed, uncover and stir the rice. If it still has some liquid in it, leave the cover off and keep over low heat, stirring frequently until it has evaporated. Drizzle over a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Serve.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sesame Street Character Cupcakes

I had some left over coloured frosting from the cookie decorating stall I ran at my church carol's festival last week. Colours left over were red, green, blue and yellow. Thought I'd use it to frost some cupcakes and was wondering to self how I could decorate them and Sesame Street characters came to mind. Since my bible study was also having a Xmas party a few days later (and there would lots of kiddies present) I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to whip up the cupcakes to use the left over frosting. Having never 'decorated' cupcakes before, I was pretty impressed with my creations. Big Bird took me the longest and I was having a lot of trouble piping his feathers because I didn't have the correct piping tip and the frosting was too runny. In the end I improvised and used a mini spatula to create some texture to the frosting.

Some things I would do differently if I were to make these again:

*use gel food colouring instead of liquid food colouring to colour the frosting/icing- it gives a more intense colour and you use less to get the same colour effect. Less liquid also means the icing is less runny. I found my icing hard to work/pipe with at times. To counteract this, I would add a bit more icing sugar and put it in the freezer for 10 mins to set. I would also put the decorated cupcake straight back into the fridge to prevent the icing from melting

* Have all the face bits pre-assembled and ready to go before you start decorating your cupcakes. This makes it easier to unleash your creativity ;)


Cookie Monster

Ingredients

1 dozen chocolate cupcakes, cooled
store bought white frosting/icing
blue food colouring
24 Nestle white chocolate melts & 24 brown mini M&Ms- for the eyes
12 mini chocolate chip cookies, halved (½ per monster with a few for breakage)- for the mouth
1 cup desiccated coconut (dyed blue)- for the fur

Method
  1. Add food colouring to frosting until you get to the Cookie Monster colour. This may be a lot if you are using liquid food colouring or a little if using gel food colouring.
  2. Fill a piping bag with a fluted nozzle and pipe on icing. Alternatively, use a spatula to spread the icing onto the cupcake
  3. Roll iced cupcake onto coconut, shake off excess
  4. Place 2 white chocolate melts on each cupcake
  5. Wedge cookies into the “mouth”

Notes & Tips
  • There is quite a bit of food colouring in these cupcakes for the blue icing. If this concerns you, use a natural food colouring.
  • To make the blue desiccated coconut- pour ½ cup desiccated coconut into a ziplock bag. Put in a few drops of liquid food colouring (not gel) and shake the bag vigorously. Spread the coconut out on baking paper to air dry for 24 hours. 
  • If after adding food colouring to the frosting makes it too runny, add some sifted icing sugar or put into the freezer for 10 minutes to help firm it up
Elmo

Ingredients

1 dozen chocolate cupcakes, cooled
red frosting (fur)
24 Nestle white chocolate melts + 24 brown mini M&Ms (eyes)
12 orange Cadbury Mini Drops (nose)
6 Oreo's, halved (mouth)

Method
  1. Using a grass effect piping tip, squeeze icing over cupcake to create 'fur'
  2. Assemble Elmo's face. For the nose, use an orange Cadbury Mini Drop. For the eyes, place a bit of frosting on the back of brown regular M&M’s and place them onto each white chocolate melt. For the mouth, use one side of an Oreo.
Notes & Tips

I found that cutting the Oreo directly in half was too large. So cut off less than half for each mouth. Use a serrated knife and saw it slowly back and forth. (You should be able to get 2 mouths from each Oreo half.)

Prep the eyes and Oreos first, before frosting the cupcakes with the Elmo fur. You don’t want the red fur to melt or get droopy while you’re doing the cutting. ALSO, after assembling each Elmo, place it in the fridge, to help set the frosting so it will stay furry looking and not melt together. HOWEVER, if you’re using better frosting than the store bought (from a tub) you may not have any issues if you adjust your frosting consistency.

Oscar the Grouch

Ingredients

1 dozen chocolate cupcakes, cooled
dark green frosting (fur)
24 Nestle white chocolate melts + 24 brown mini M&Ms (eyes)
6 Oreo's (mouth)
brown frosting/icing pen (eyebrows)

Method
  1. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a grass/fur piping tip with green frosting. Cover the surface of the cupcake to create 'fur'.
  2. Top each cupcake with a pair of eyes and an Oreo mouth
  3. Use a small star tip (many varieties will work) or a chocolate icing pen to pipe a brown set of eyebrows over the eyes. Don’t worry about making these neat…I don’t think Oscar is really into eyebrow maintenance. It’s Oscar the Grouch!
Big Bird

Ingredients

1 dozen vanilla cupcakes, cooled
yellow frosting (fur)
12 white marshmallows (beaks)
red icing pen (tongue)
small white chocolate melts & black icing  (eyes)
aqua & light pink icing pens (eyebrows)

Method
  1. Cut marshmallows into beak shapes with a pair of scissors
  2. Place a beak on each cupcake, using a small dollop of frosting to glue it on
  3. Cover the marshmallows with yellow frosting. It doesn't need to be neat yet, just enough to cover them
  4. Use a small offset spatula or a knife to smooth the frosting over the beak
  5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a "V" tip with yellow frosting. Make a ring of yellow feathers around the perimeter of the cupcake
  6. Repeat this process, working from the outside in, until the surface of the cupcake has been completely covered by "feathers"
  7. Add a set of eyes just above the beak. Pipe a thin line of aqua and light pink frosting over the eyeballs.
  8. Using the red icing pen, pipe a small inverted triangle inside the beak to create the tongue.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chocolate Covered Coconut Balls

These sweet, bite sized chocolate balls remind me of the chocolate bar Bounty. Pure indulgence :)


Makes approx. 25

Ingredients

1 cups icing sugar
1½ cups desiccated coconut
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dark or milk chocolate melts
1 cup white chocolate melts

Optional ingredients: flaked coconut, chopped almonds, sprinkles

Method
  1. In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar, coconut and milk.
  2. Shape into small balls (approx 15g each). Place onto a tray with baking paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Melt milk chocolate and white chocolate melts, in separate bowls, one at a time, in a microwave on medium for 30 seconds, stirring after each time until smooth.
  4. Line a tray with non-stick baking paper. 
  5. Using a toothpick, dip balls into melted chocolate, allow excess to drip off. Place onto tray; repeat with remaining coconut balls. 
  6. Once all the balls are coated in chocolate, Place the remaining melted chocolate into separate paper piping bags. Drizzle the same or opposite colour chocolate over the coconut balls, allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and then serve.
  7. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes


Recipe from Australian Good Taste magazine, February 2011 issue, page 16

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ cups caster sugar
1 cup buttermilk
200g unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly whisked
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons red food colouring

2 x 250g pkt cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
120g butter, extra, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, extra
Red sprinkles

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line fifteen 80ml ( cup) capacity muffin pans with paper cases. Sift flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Stir through the sugar. Whisk the buttermilk, butter, eggs, vinegar and vanilla in a large jug until combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture. Stir until just combined. Stir in the food colouring.
  2. Divide the mixture among the lined pans (approx. 1½ tablespoons each). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, extra butter and extra vanilla until smooth
  4. Pipe the icing over the cupcakes and top with the sprinkles.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Roasted Carrot Dip

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, Episode 38, aired on 18th October 2013

Ingredients

500g carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cinnamon quills
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon cream cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
pinch of white pepper
dukka, to sprinkle
crackers, to serve

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Place carrots, unsalted butter, cinnamon and water into a roasting pan. Cover with foil. Poke some holes through the foil. 
  3. Roast carrots for 1¾ hours, cool for 15 minutes. Discard the cinnamon quills then transfer the carrots into a food processor. Add honey, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Blend till smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the dukkah and serve with crackers
Notes & Tips

Healthy alternative: substitute the cream cheese with cottage cheese
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