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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Apple Pie

It was my daughter’s Birthday recently. I have been promising to make her an apple pie for months now so we made a deal, I’d make the pie for her birthday. The only condition was that it all had to be homemade, no store bought pie cases or ready-made pastry, everything from scratch. This of course, was the whole reason I had been dragging my feet on the apple pie project from the start. I make a mean apple pie but I have to make it from scratch, it’s just a personal preference, I don’t like to use pre-made pastry products for an apple pie. Trouble is, I HATE to make pastry.

I am good at it, it isn’t complicated but for some reason, I just don’t like to do it. So I don’t.

For my girl, for her birthday, I did.

And I made sure I made a whole lot so that I could make another few things while I had nice homemade pastry on hand. I always make a short pastry without sugar so it does nicely for both sweet and savoury applications.

To make the extra pastry I used 2 cups flour & 1 cup butter, this made a lidded apple pie, a quiche and another open fruit pie.

Apple Pie

225g flour
100g butter
pinch of salt
cold water

5 or 6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced (whatever will fit into your pie dish, the more the better I think)
1 Tbls lemon juice
5 cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar (I like my apples tart, adjust sugar to your liking)

Sift flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and rub lightly into flour with your fingertips until it combines and resembles breadcrumbs. Add a small amount of cold water and cut in with a knife. Add additional water as needed and once it begins to combine begin to work it with your hands into a ball. Chill the pastry while you prepare the apple filling.

Stew the apples with all other ingredients; either on the stove or in the microwave. Remember to count the cloves so that you can remove them all prior to making the pie. Once the apples have begun to break apart remove them from the heat and remove the cloves.

Roll out half of your pastry until it is the correct size for your pie dish. Place pastry in dish and slice of any overhang. Fill pie base with the apple. Roll our remaining pastry to create a lid. Dampen base edges and place pastry lid over pie, use a fork or fingers to crimp the edges down.
Cut a cross in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Cook pie in a 180C oven for 40 mins or until golden brown.



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Spicy Apple and Currant Yoghurt Cake

Here is another cake from the weekend baking bonanza. This one surprised me, it is such a light yet moist cake, the apple disappears completely and you would never know it was there. The result is a lemon scented buttery cake that is both moist and light with a smattering of currants for extra texture and flavour.

Not a bad way to use up leftover yoghurt. Although I used plain Greek yoghurt in this recipe, I think it could be made with a fruit yoghurt if you had that on hand instead.

The baking time in my oven was more like 35 minutes. I don’t know if my oven was running very hot or if the recipe was not correct. Just keep an eye on it!


Spicy Apple and Currant Yoghurt Cake

125g butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
200g carton plain yoghurt
1/2 x 410g can unsweetened pie apple (I stewed up my own apples)
3/4 cup currants
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice

Grease a 23cm square slab pan, line base with paper; grease paper.
Beat butter, rind and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and
fluffy; beat in eggs one at a time, beat mixture until combined, stir in yoghurt,
apple and currants, then sifted dry ingredients.
Spread mixture into prepared pan, bake in moderate oven for about 55 minutes.
Stand 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.
Dust with sifted icing sugar before serving.

Keeping time: 4 days.

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Glazed Mocha Fudge Cake

I was having a bit of a downer on the weekend and wasn’t feeling very zen so I decided to bake. Baking is my go to when I feel blue. Thankfully baking always gives me a feeling of accomplishment that helps me feel a little better. On the downside (?) I now have a houseful of baked goods and, as my husband is away, a limited audience to feed them too. On the upside I have a work colleague who could use a good feed who doesn’t mind eating the excess.

The downside of that today is that the excess was Mocha Cake. He doesn’t normally take caffeine, he had two pieces. So now he is talking incessantly about everything, his favourite colour, his new pink credit card, why I shouldn’t fertilize my garden in winter, the ninja turtles, the list goes on. By talking I mean, without taking a breath between words, a continual flow of non-information. Like my Mother would say ‘That boy could talk underwater with a mouthful of marbles’

Luckily for me he is fairly harmless and if the worst thing that happens to me today is that someone wants to talk to me, well, it’s a pretty good day.

Below is the recipe for that Mocha cake. Perhaps just let the kids have one piece and go outside to play.

Glazed Mocha Fudge Cake

185g butter
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup plain yoghurt
3 teaspoons dry instant coffee
1 tablespoon boiling water

Mocha Glaze
60g dark chocolate
30g butter
1 teaspoon dry instant coffee
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup icing sugar

Grease a 23cm square slab pan, line base with paper; grease paper.
Cream butter, essence and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in egg yolks one at a time, beat only until combined.
Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in sifted flour and cocoa and yoghurt, then combined coffee and water.
Beat egg whites in small bowl until soft peaks form, lightly fold through cake mixture in 2 lots.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, Bake in moderate oven for about 45 minutes.
Turn on to wire rack to cool. Top cold cake with glaze, decorate with walnut halves if desired. Refrigerate until glaze is set.
Mocha Glaze: Combine chocolate, butter and combined coffee and water in saucepan, stir constantly over low heat without boiling until smooth.
Remove from heat, gradually stir in sifted icing sugar.

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Crumbed Fish Fillets

This was a super tasty way to prepare fish. I was a little trepidatious about the mayonnaise coating, I was afraid that it would end up tasting strongly of mayonnaise. I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. I would not have known that mayonnaise was even involved if I hadn’t made it myself.

The mayo actually made the whole process a lot easier and less messy than the traditional egg and breadcrumb combination and the onion powder added a little tasty zing to the whole ensemble.

Of course the traditional thing to have with fish is chips. Sadly I am not much into making chips, I find it fiddly and time consuming, so this is my take on it. Fish and roast potatoes.


Crumbed Fish Fillets

500 g fresh fish fillets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Seasoned breadcrumbs
Lemon wedges
Salt, pepper, onion powder

Wash, skin fish and pat dry.
Cut fish into serving pieces and sprinkle with salt pepper and onion powder.
Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over each side of fish pieces.
Pat on seasoned breadcrumbs.
Place in a single layer on a greased oven tray.
Bake in a 180C oven until cooked through and crisp, about 20 mins.
Serve with lemon wedges.

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Creamy Garlic Prawns

What to have for dinner when you are pressed for time, tired or just don’t want to spend ages preparing anything? Creamy garlic prawns fit the bill perfectly and look like you have prepared a complex and gourmet meal to boot. It’s probably worth mentioning that they taste divine also.

This is so easy to make and the most time consuming portion is cooking the rice that you serve with it. I adore prawns (they have to be pre-peeled though as I am lazy and they are fiddly and kind of yucky) and there is often a bag of frozen prawn meat in my freezer, just waiting for the right time to be unleashed on my taste buds in various forms.

Creamy Garlic Prawns

10 Large Green Peeled Tiger Prawns (I used 500g thawed prawn meat)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Enough to cover the pan
2 Tbls crushed Garlic
1 Tbls chopped parsley
1 cup of thickened cream

Heat the olive oil.
Fry the prawns in the oil until they’re just cooked.
Add the garlic and fry off a little then add the parsley and the cream.
Simmer, reducing the garlic cream sauce just a little.
Serve on a bed of boiled rice.

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Easy Meat and Vegetable Lasagna

Continuing to get our veggies in my daughter and I decided to throw together a lasagne and cram in as many veggies as we could. After a slice each, this was vacuum packed in portions and popped into the freezer for a later date.

I love having meals in the freezer, ready to go. They are great when you are just not feeling like cooking, or to give to people when they need a little help.

Easy Meat and Vegetable Lasagna

Instant lasagna noodles (the dry ones)
500g beef mince
1 onion, diced
1 zucchini, grated
2 carrots, grated
6 button mushrooms, sliced
400g tin crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
400ml jar of spaghetti sauce
500g ricotta cheese
grated cheese

Fry onion and garlic in a frypan. Add beef mince and fry off until brown.
Add vegetables and mushrooms and fry until tender.
Add tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and stir to combine. Turn flame to low and cook for 5mins with a lid on the pan.
Put a thin layer of the mince mixture on the base of lasagna pan and cover with sheets of noodles.
Cover noodles with a thicker layer using half of the meat sauce and then sprinkle over with half the ricotta and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
Cover with another layer of noodles.
Top with remaining mince, ricotta and finish with a layer of grated cheese.
Heat the oven to 200C and cook the lasagne for 30 mins, reduce heat to 150C and cook for a further 20 mins.

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Mushroom Parcels

This was last night’s dinner, whipped up with help of imagination and a recipe that wasn’t really anything like this but got me thinking…

As you can tell, my mushroom and vegetable phobic husband is not at home so my daughter and I are indulging in vegetable laden meals all of which include mushrooms. True to my belief that anything tastes better if you wrap it in pastry, this turned out a treat and used up some ingredients that were getting toward their use by dates.

Mushroom Parcels

2 sheets of puff pastry
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 button mushrooms
3 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 cup ricotta
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup grated cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C.
Cut each pastry sheet into 2 large triangles.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the spinach and heat gently for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season to taste, turn off the heat and then stir in the ricotta and cheese.
Spoon the mixture on to one half of each pastry triangle, brush edges with milk, fold over and press open sides closed. Brush tops with a little milk.
Place in oven for 20mins or until golden and crisp.