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Food, general thoughts, food…


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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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A recycling triumph!

This post could have easily been titled ‘what the hell are they doing with our bananas?’
This is a popular rant with me lately and it doesn’t seem to be coming to any easy resolution, in fact the problem is getting progressively worse. It started a few years back with apricots and pineapples, then nectarines and peaches, then tomatoes and now finally bananas. Look, I realise that things always tasted ‘better’ when you were young and a lot of that is probably just a combination of poor memory and deteriorating taste receptors but I swear apricots used to be squishy and fragrant, not sour and hard like a golf balls, pineapples used to be aromatic and tasty, not green and scentless. Nectarines and peaches became hard and tasteless and tomatoes that used to be red and ripe are now sold like hard pink cricket balls. Now bananas are sold hard and green, worse yet they don’t ripen! They go brown but are still as tasteless as if they’d stayed green, you may as well eat the peel as eat the fruit, there is hardly a textural difference and the taste is the same. What the hell are they doing to our fruit?

There is this big push to eat more fruits and vegetables but frankly, why would you? It all tastes like Styrofoam and plastic wrap. I realise that the idea is to make them transportable and storable but should that be at the cost of them being edible?

Believe me, if we had an organic, fresh food grocer anywhere in my area I would be there doing my best to get something to eat that is both the correct colour and flavour, unfortunately I am stuck with what the big supermarkets make available to us. It’s no wonder I am obsessed with fitting as many vegetables into my small patch as possible, pity about the fruit though.

Anyway, now that you have sat patiently through my rant I will share with you the reason for my outburst and the recycling heading.

I bought some bananas a few weeks ago, they were yellow-ish (mostly they are sold bright green so I though this an improvement). Now weeks later they are brown, but still hard as rocks, and tasteless to boot. Okay, I’ll make a banana cake, maybe they will improve in flavour once cooked. No, no and no. A beautiful cake emerges from the oven, before it is even cool slices are cut and although it seems to lack that banana-ry scent there is still hope. No. No taste at all. Might as well have cooked the peels into the cake, so dissaapointing! Anyway, long story short the offending cake did not get eaten and sat, mouldering (not really) on the countertop.

Now I HATE wasting food so the search was on for something to do with leftover cake that doesn’t involve trifle (which I abhor!) I found the below recipe and tossed in some white choc-chips, and along with the vanilla something beautiful was born. Now in my opinion a bit of ginger in these would have made them spectacular but as it is, they are pretty darned good and an excellent way of using up left over cake, if you ever have such a thing in your house. I cut the sugar a bit, as I am wont to do. I froze some also (I have truckloads of them) and I am betting that it works out okay.

The original recipe is here (along with other ideas on what to do if this tragedy befalls you also)

 

Cake Crumb Cookies

Mix 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla/lemon/or almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

until thoroughly combined.

Mix in 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup cake crumbs

Add 1 cup dry mix-ins (chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, etc.).

Chill the dough, then scoop out tsps full onto trays.
Bake in an 180C degree preheated oven for 12 minutes.

 

 


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Banana pudding and a shout out for caffeine

Singing the praises of a stodgy English pudding 🙂
This dish sounded interesting to me from the get go, particularly because I have bags of sliced and frozen bananas in the freezer waiting to be made into something sweet and gooey at the first opportunity.

This recipe reminds me (in texture) of many savoury English puddings but, of course, the flavour was something completely different. I expect that this would go very well with a good dollop of clotted cream or some good vanilla ice cream but it was very good just on its own. Although I followed the recipe on this one, I would suggest that there could have been less butter, it seemed a bit much to me, maybe half the amount would do? I used less sugar on top than the recipe called for, maybe 1/3 cup.

All in all a great way to use up bananas that are past their prime as long as you have a lot of eggs on your hands at the same time.

Baked Banana Pudding

6 servings

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 Tbls all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbls vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
3 large bananas, cut into 1cm slices
3 Tbls butter, cut into bits

Preheat oven to 205C.
In a blender puree together 1/3 cup of sugar, flour, eggs, milk, vanilla and salt until mixture is smooth.
Arrange banana slices in one layer in a buttered square glass baking dish. Pour pudding mixture over bananas and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is puffed and springy to the touch.
Sprinkle top with remaining sugar, dot with the butter and broil the pudding under a preheated broiler about 6cm from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it is browned.

By the way, as an infrequent indulger in caffeine, I will sing its praises to the heavens when it comes to helping treat long term migraines. It doesn’t always work for everyone but when it does it is like a unexpected blessing sent to ease your suffering.  After 5 days of a debilitating migraine I ended up with a sugary caffeinated soft drink in my hand on the couch. Within minutes my symptoms eased. I should have thought of it earlier, I have suffered from migraines for years, but they don’t call it a fog for nothing. Sometimes it is hard to think around the pain.
Like I say, it doesn’t always work but when it does….there are just not words. It is certainly worth trying. For more on migraines click here for a good article to get you started. If you don’t suffer, it might help you understand friends or family that do, if you do, then it might give you some tips on how to cope.

Happy Days!


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Caramel Fudge Brownies

Oh this one was delightful. The inside texture is fudgy and the outside slightly chewy. Frankly it couldn’t go wrong really, I mean, white chocolate and a tin of caramel, it didn’t even have the faintest hope of not being fabulous.
Team all that with being quick and easy and you have my vote, 100%.
They should give these things away at the polls…give you some real incentive to be there, above and beyond picking the next nitwit to represent your state. You know that whoever you vote for will only turn out to be a good as the last guy and that isn’t a much of a compliment most of the time. At least if they gave you a good fudgy, chewy, brownie like morsel of heaven to chew on afterwards it might take the bitter, ‘just wasted 4 hours of my Saturday in a queue to do something that doesn’t even seem to make a difference even though I hope against hope it does’ taste out of your mouth….

It did say somewhere that these will last for a week in an airtight container *lapses into hysterical laughter* Not in my house they won’t!!!

Caramel Fudge Brownies

3 eggs
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
100 g butter, melted
200 g white chocolate, melted
1 cup plain flour
1 x 330 g can caramel top’n’fill

Grease and line 20 cm x 30 cm lamington tray with baking paper to cover the base and up the sides. Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl with electric mixer on high for 4 minutes until thick.
Reduce speed and beat in the tin of caramel, then beat in melted butter, melted chocolate and flour. Pour mixture into tray. Bake in preheated oven at 160°C for 40-45 minutes or until firm in centre. Remove from oven, cool brownie in pan, then lift out using lining paper and cut into squares.


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Caramel Date Bars

This tasted a bit like sticky date pudding without the sticky. It had a cakey/biscuity crumbly texture, dryer than the pudding variety. The nuts were best on the first day, toasty and delicious.

I like dates, they look like squished bush cockroaches but they taste really good, I love it when they get kind of candied…mmm. Not that I am authority on the taste of cockroaches, I have seen them eaten by the odd person on the Food Channel but am not about to rid my local park of their pest problem by chowing down myself. I’ll stick to my dates thank you very much. I’ll save the bug eating for the apocalypse, don’t want to run out beforehand now do we?

Caramel Date Bars

½ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup self-raising flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Grease or line a cake pan with baking paper.
Melt butter and sugar over slow heat. Mix well and allow to cool.
Beat egg and add to the butter and sugar.
In a separate bowl, add dates, walnuts and flour.
Add the egg, butter and sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
Press mixture into cake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes.
Allow to cool in pan. Cut into finger lengths.


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Bloomer Bread

I tried this recipe thanks to Home Made With Mess (click the link to go straight to original)

I read this recipe and just had to try it, of course with all the twists and changes that occur when you are rummaging through your refrigerator and need to make something ‘right now’ without all the proper ingredients.

Here is the original recipe with my notes alongside.

Brie, Bacon and Red Onion Bloomer Bread (mine ended up as provolone cheese, sun dried tomato and roasted capsicum bread)

500ml strong white bread flour
10g salt
7g fast action yeast
40ml olive oil
320ml cold water
2 red onions – sliced (couple of Tbls sun dried tomatoes)
4 rashes bacon – chopped (2 roasted capsicums/peppers diced)
1 tbsp olive oil
200g brie – skin removed and chopped (I used provolone cheese)

Place the flour in a bowl and put the salt in one side and the yeast in the other
Pour the oil into the centre of the flour, along with 240ml of the water
Bring the dough together with your fingertips – you may need to add more water as you go along.
You want to bring the dough together so that it is sticky but not really wet.
Once your have brought all the dough together and cleaned the sides of flour then tip the dough onto
an oiled worktop and start to knead.
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic
Lightly oil a clean bowl, put the dough in it, cover and leave somewhere warm to rise. You want it to
triple in size so will take at least an hour and a half
While the dough is rising you can make your filling

Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes to soften
Add the bacon and fry off until cooked and slightly crispy
Grease and line a 20cm taken tin or high sided roasting tin
Ones the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and knock back to get the air out of it.
Knead again for a few minutes to get it back to the smooth elastic consistency you had initially
Divide the dough into three and stretch out so that it will fit the bottom of your prepared tin
Place one of the dough sheets on the bottom and top with half the bacon and half the cheese chunks
Lay another sheet of dough on top and then top with the remaining bacon mix and the brie
Top with the final layer of bread and tuck the sides in
Dust with flour and then place in a large clean plastic bag and leave to rise for an hour
Preheat the oven to 220’C and bake the bread for half an hour
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and setting to cool
completely on a wire rack.
Slice up and enjoy with a thick spread of butter or cream cheese

We ate this hot with no spread straight from the oven. What was left over I had cold slathered in cream cheese over the next few days.
I will certainly do this again and change up the stuffing’s time and time again I am sure.


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Caramel Two Ways

Here are 2 Caramel flavoured slices. This first one I forgot to take a picture of.
The base of this slice was quite biscuity and the topping/filling was a sugary fudgy concoction that went crispy caramel at the edges. It was all good but the edge bits were my favourite. I used a little less chocolate than was called for, I like my chocolate on the thin side when paired with caramel, I don’t like the chocolate taking over.

The second recipe is an un-brownie i.e. it might be a brownie kind of consistency but as you can see from the photo, there isn’t anything brown about it. Is it a blondie? I wouldn’t know, but it was pretty good. I don’t really like baked cheesecake and the topping of this slice is reminiscent of that texture and taste but it wasn’t bad at all. I made it on Saturday and there is one slice left this Monday morning. Quite a few slices made it my way regardless of my predefined biases and that speaks for itself really.
I may not make it again but I can see how it would end up in some peoples ‘keepers’ book.

Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Bars

Crust
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, Softened
1 Cup Pecan Halves

Filling
2/3 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix all crust ingredients except pecans until fine. Press into the bottom of a 13 X 9 pan and sprinkle pecans over crust. In a saucepan, heat butter and brown sugar on medium heat until entire surface boils, stirring constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, continue boiling for just 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat after 1 minute and pour evenly over pecans and crust. Bake 18-22 minutes or until whole top layer is bubbly (oven temperatures may vary). Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread chocolate chips once they begin to melt and allow to cool completely.

Caramel Un-Brownies

125 g white chocolate
30 g butter
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons bottled caramel topping

Cream cheese filling
60 g butter
185 g packaged cream cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat, cool slightly.
Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Stir in sifted flour and caramel topping, add chocolate, stir until combined.
Pour mixture into a greased 16 cm x 26 cm lamington tin.
Cream cheese filling: Beat butter and cheese together with an electric mixer, add eggs and sugar, beat well. Stir in sifted flour and vanilla. Spread cheese filling over brownie base. Bake at 180°C for 35 minutes. Cool in tin, cut when cold.