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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Custard Powder Biscuits

So, I am driving down the road yesterday and there is a sign, with an arrow, that says ‘Toddler Jam’. Just that nothing else, nothing to indicate what toddler jam might be for those of us who are uninitiated. I make a note to look around more carefully on the trip back…

On the trip back I see 2 more signs, identical to the first, an arrow with ‘Toddler Jam’ printed above it. I look around, trying in vain to see an event that might be construed as a toddler jam or a vending van selling jam specifically formulated for toddlers. Nothing, nothing except the unfortunate(?) placement of an industrial tree mulcher in a layby across the road from the signs with the arrows pointing directly at it…

I am left with an uncomfortable feeling that I had not fully considered the ramifications of the phrase ‘Toddler Jam’ and the feeling (or at least the hope) that the universe was playing tricks on me just for the hell of it.

Custard Powder Biscuits
Makes about 80

3 cups self-raising flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup custard powder
3 eggs, beaten
250 g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 160C.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well.
Add beaten eggs and vanilla.
Pour in melted butter and mix well.
Knead into a ball until all flour and custard is absorbed.
Add a little milk if dry and dough isn’t coming together.
Roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and press down lightly with a fingers on a greased biscuit tray.
Bake at 160°C for 15 minutes or until golden.
Cool on wire rack before storing in airtight container.

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Pan fried cake

Can dessert be any easier than this? I suppose it can but this is really easy and gives you something new and tasty to treat yourself with and uses up those left over bits of cake that might otherwise end up in the bin.

Pan fried cake

Slices of leftover cake
Soft butter
Vanilla Icecream

Spread each side of the cake with softened butter.
Pan fry each side until browned and crisp.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla icecream.
Drizzle with honey or syrup if desired.


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Chicken stuffed with Fetta and Spinach

I have mentioned in passing that I was overseas for a period of time recently. I went to South Africa again and travelled around a bit.

Firstly we stayed a few days in a self-catering cabin the mountains in a farming community, beautiful, misty mornings, green grass, cool weather, rocky gardens, horses, dams stocked with bass, just lovely. Not very ‘African’ though, more like England.

We moved on and spent the second half of our visit at a game lodge with much more of an ‘African’ atmosphere. It was called Shayamoya .

Visit the Shayamoya web page!

There were game drives and boat cruises, tigerfish fishing trips or even in house massage available all of which was very enjoyable (except the massages, I don’t go in for all that touchy feely stuff, I am sure if I did they would have been wonderful though, everything else was). The rooms were comfortable and private (with private outdoor showers, which I loved. There is a bath inside if you are not so inclined)

But of course the one thing that I would take note of over all others was the food and it was well worth the notice! The kitchen staff, under their head chef, outdid themselves night after night. Everything that came out of that kitchen was amazing, even on the night that a snake took up residence under the refrigerator and put a real scare into the staff, they danced around it and still managed to prepare a meal fit for kings.

The gardens that the cabins were set in were beautifully maintained and contained a very interesting collection of aloes and other plants, clearly marked with their names and the view over the wetlands was amazing from our balcony.
It was honestly one of the most relaxing and enjoyable holidays I have ever had and I have to shout out a big thank you to Lindy and her staff for making it so lovely and enjoyable. Trust me, I will be telling everyone, if you want somewhere great to spend a holiday that is relatively inexpensive (at least compared to Australia) book yourself into Shayamoya, you won’t regret it for a second. And the food is fabulous!

Chicken stuffed with Fetta and Spinach

2x chicken breasts
Baby Spinach
Chili Marinated Fetta
Parmesan Cheese

Cut a pocket into each chicken breast. Stuff with as much spinach and fetta as it will hold.
Sprinkle with parmesan and pour a little of the fetta oil over each breast.
Bake in a moderate oven until cooked through.

Garlic Butter Beans

Green beans
Butter
Garlic
Salt & Pepper

Cut green beans as desired (slicing them lengthwise is nice if you have the patience)
Boil or steam to your preferred crispness.
Drain and stir in butter and garlic.
Salt and pepper to taste.


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Meat and Potatoes

So, what to do with half a bottle of balsamic salad dressing (after marinating chicken in the other half)? Lamb steaks!

These little lamb steaks marinated in the balsamic dressing all day and then went into the oven in a casserole dish.
About 200C for around 30 mins (until they looked good).
At the same time I did the potatoes and put them in the oven on another shelf.

Cheesy Garlic Potatoes

4 potatoes
salt
pepper
1/2 cup tasty cheese
60g butter
1 clove garlic, minced

Heat oven to 200C.
Microwave potatoes until almost cooked (about 6 minutes)
Combine butter and garlic in sauce pan, melt butter, salt and pepper to taste.
Cut potatoes into thick slices.
Arrange a single layer in baking pan, sprinkle with
cheese and a little garlic butter. Add another layer of potatoes and repeat.
Finish with a layer of cheese. Bake 15-18 minutes.

 


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Pineapple Cookies

Although I was a little disappointed that they didn’t taste more ‘pineappley’ these were tasty little biscuits that were a breeze to make. They ended up being a soft sweet biscuit with the occasional hint of pineapple. I wasn’t confident reading the recipe that these would be very strongly flavoured by the pineapple and it turns out that they were not but it is always fun to experiment and try new things. My husband likes them so they will go in the keeper folder as a possible re-run one day when I run out of new things to try (hahaha)

Pineapple Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup drained crushed pineapple (this was a whole 440g can minus the juice)
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.
Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir through pineapple and nuts.
Drop by tablespoon onto lightly sprayed baking sheet.
Bake 180C for 12 minutes.


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Cupcakes or Muffins?

What is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? Some muffins are obviously not cupcakes but some pretty much fall into the same category of sweet cakey things and make it hard to tell. I am guessing that cupcakes are usually a lighter mix, whereas, muffins can be quite dense.

In any case, however you call it these muffins are iced with butter icing and that makes them cupcakes as far as I am concerned.

My daughter made these today in her quest to keep me tubby and try every taste combination that pops into her mind. I have an inkling that marshmallows and peanut butter and chocolate may feature in the not so distant future. I look forward to it.

Enjoy!

 

Mint Iced Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mint icing
125g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
1 tablespoon milk
a few drops of peppermint essence
a few drops green food colouring (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir just until well blended.
Fill muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until domed and springy to the touch.
Set aside to cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a bowl until pale.
Gradually add icing sugar mixture and milk, beating constantly until combined.
Add desired amount of peppermint essence and green food colouring.
Pipe icing onto cool muffins.


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Choc-Cinnamon Meringue Topped Cake

Here is a recipe to try that is just a little different. A meringue topped cake.

It was my husband’s birthday on the weekend and what better time to try a new cake recipe? I chose this one because it was a little bit different and a bit fancy, a birthday cake should be a treat, no?

The cake itself was moist yet delicate; the topping was crunchy and sugary.

Cooking time was long, a lot longer than the recipe stated but that was my fault more than anything. My oven runs hot and so as not to burn this special cake I set it a bit lower than the recommended temperature and just kept my eyes peeled. I think it took almost 2 hours in total. If you are more confident in your ovens ability to maintain a temperature, I am sure you could cook this in much less time.

The recipe suggested a slab pan, I would suggest a spring form pan as this was a delicate business to remove from the pan (luckily I had used a silicone pan so was able to manoeuvre it a bit). The meringue crumbled quite a bit in the removal process, this would be eliminated if you used a spring form pan.

Anyway, I made it Saturday and it was gone Sunday so it must have been okay. The recipe suggests that it should be eaten the day it is baked. I imagine that, if kept longer, the meringue would start to absorb the moisture from the cake, making it less crunchy and perfect. It didn’t last, so I can’t tell you…

Choc-Cinnamon Meringue Topped Cake

This cake is at its best eaten on the same day as baking.

125g butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 egg yolks
1 egg
100g dark chocolate, grated
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup milk

Meringue
2 egg whites
1/2 cup castor sugar

Topping
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Grease a 23cm square slab pan, line base with paper; grease paper.
Cream butter and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in egg yolks and egg, beat until combined.
Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in chocolate, then half the sifted dry ingredients with half the milk, then stir in remaining dry ingredients and milk; stir until smooth.
Spread mixture into prepared pan, spread carefully with meringue, sprinkle with topping.
Bake in moderately slow oven for about 50 minutes.
Stand 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.
Meringue: Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar, beat until dissolved.
Topping: Combine all ingredients.
Keeping time: 1 day.