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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Baked rice pudding

I photographed this prior to cooking. It was requested by my son when he came down to lunch over the weekend, it was something he had recently discovered his girlfriend was very fond of. Of course, his first though was ‘arrange lunch with Mum and have her cook rice pudding’. It is nice to be thought of….

Baked rice pudding

2 cups (500ml) milk
300ml thin cream
1/2 cup (110g) medium grain (calrose) rice, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped (I didn’t have a bean handy so added 1 tsp of extract after simmering)
Pinch of ground nutmeg, plus extra to sprinkle
2 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Combine milk, cream, rice, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean and seeds and nutmeg in a medium saucepan.
Cook over meduim heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until it reaches a simmer.
Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse.
Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
Add egg yolks and stir to combine.
Pour rice mixture into a 4 cup (1 litre) capacity ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle with extra nutmeg.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and custard is set.
Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.


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Vanilla Slice

I am not a huge fan of Vanilla Slice from the bakery, not because it isn’t nice, indeed it is very nice. It is also difficult to eat, that is what makes me choose something else every time. I have never met a vanilla slice that is easy to eat, it always squishes its custard filling out all over the place making you look like you have been eating by yourself for about 9 minutes…unsuccessfully. This one is no exception, its saving grace was that I could eat it at home and not worry about the impression I was making on those around me. I was happy that it tasted as good as its bakery counterparts although I would use less icing in future, I will make it again as long as I can eat it quietly at home without others.

I let mine sit for a good 24 hours prior to consuming. I thought this might make the pastry a little easier to deal with but not really…

Enjoy!

Vanilla Slice

2 sheets puff pastry
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup custard powder
1½ cups cream
2-2½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Icing
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Hot water

Place puff pastry on lined oven tray. Prick with a fork and bake for 10-15 minutes at 220°C.
Put sugar, custard powder and cream into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until it starts to thicken.
Add milk ½ a cup at a time and whisk continuously until the custard is thick.
Let everything cool slightly.
Place in a 22 cm square tin, pastry, custard, pastry then icing.
Icing: Place icing sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl and add enough hot water to make
thin to medium textured icing.

Recipe notes
Best after 12-24 hours in the refrigerator but can be eaten in as little as 3 hours.


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Banana smoothie

Recently it has all been about using up old bananas. There are always old bananas in my fridge. I honestly don’t know where they come from, I think they might be breeding in the back of the vegetable bin or reproducing on the top shelf behind all the condiments. Either way, there are always a few to deal with and after cakes and muffins I was getting a little bored with cakey ways of dealing with them so was born my breakfast for a few days last week. Most days I have a big bowl of sliced bananas and grapes around the mid-morning mark. Faced with yet more old bananas and a distinct lack of young ones I decided to pull out the trusty old blender and wiz what I could find into a breakfast smoothie.

So simple but very quick, tasty and satisfying.

Banana smoothie

3 old bananas, peeled
1 Tbls honey
1 cup milk (I use hilo, a kind of skim milk but feel free to use what suits you)
a sprinkle of Nutmeg

Bung it all in the blender and wiz it up until smooth. Drink straight away.
I suggest adding the honey last else it can stick to the bottom and stubbornly refuse to blend.


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Bread Bun Chicken Pies

Here is a mushroom heavy work of art. Okay it may not be art (that is subjective) but it’s amazing all the same, cute presentation and fun to eat if you like that kind of thing. I do like that kind of thing, because I don’t do it every day so it’s good to get up close and personal with my food once in a while.

You could substitute any powdered soup mix you like or leave it out entirely and just add some powdered stock for flavour. I had a packet of cream of mushroom left over in the cupboard so that is what I used.

We used the bread excavated from the rolls to dip and soak up the mushroom gravy in the rolls and then enjoyed eating the crunchy roll itself with the inside soaked in gravy and tasty chicken pieces. This was a great meal with only a small amount of preparation and it ended up both tasting and looking really good.

Bread Bun Chicken Pies
Serves 4

4 medium, round bread rolls
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, thickly sliced
350g chicken thigh fillets, finely diced
45g packet cream of chicken soup mix
300mls light thickened cream
½ cup milk
½ cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped – optional

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Slice the top off the bread rolls. Set aside.
Using a teaspoon or fingers, gently remove bread from the inside of the rolls, leaving a 2cm thick crust on base and sides.
Brush inside of rolls and underside of tops with 1 tablespoon of oil.
Place on prepared baking tray. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until crisp.
Heat remaining oil in a non stick frying pan over a medium heat.
Add onion and button mushrooms cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft.
Add chicken. Stir until well combined.
Cook for 4 minutes or until just cooked.
Sprinkle packet of soup mix over chicken and stir until well combined. Remove pan from heat.
Slowly add cream and milk, stirring constantly.
Return to heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Stir through parsley if using.
Spoon chicken mixture into prepared bread rolls.
Bake for 5 minutes or until heated through.
Serve.

 


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Cauliflower Cheese

Our trend of vegetable rich meals was furthered with a hearty dish of cauliflower cheese after a particularly nice looking cauliflower caught my daughters eye at the supermarket. Not feeling overly much like any meat we decided that a big bowl of cauliflower cheese on its own would suffice for dinner, so that is what we did.

I think the addition of nutmeg to this recipe should be optional, I am not sure that I love the flavour, I think if you do choose to use it then you need to be very careful that you don’t over do it. No-one wants cauliflower cheese that tastes like it is trying to be a custard.

 

Cauliflower Cheese

Serves 4

1 large Cauliflower, trimmed
300 ml Milk
3 Tbsp Plain flour
50g Butter
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and black pepper
Mustard powder pinch
Grated nutmeg pinch

Cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water for 10-15 minutes until tender.
Drain and place in a flameproof dish.
Meanwhile, place the milk, flour and butter in a saucepan.
Heat, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth.
Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add about three-quarters of the grated cheese to the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the mustard and nutmeg.
Stir and cook for another minute.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the remaining cheese
over the sauce. Grill until golden.
Serve immediately.


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Sunday Breakfast

I Love pancakes, however, I do not make pancakes, that is the domain of my husband. He, however, does not like to make pancakes. As he is an absolute pancake wizard, this is somewhat of a shame not to mention a disappointment. This is also what makes me avoid making pancakes at all costs, they will just never measure up.

I do however make pikelets. Pikelets are a small, puffy batter cake fried in the frying pan, just a smear of butter in the pan for taste and to stop them sticking. The batter is thick so that they don’t spread far and contains baking powder so that they rise as they cook. They are sweet and good and my favourite way to have them is smeared in yet more butter whilst they are still hot.

Lots of people like jam, peanut butter, syrup or any number of other spreads on top but I am a plain butter girl. Lots of people also like to add additions such as sultanas or choc chips, I find this a travesty and a crime against all that is good and pure in the world. Not that I have strong opinions about it.

These were a staple in our home growing up and often featured as both an after soup dessert for Sunday lunch and a quick tasty offering for unexpected guests (back in the days when people just dropped by unannounced). They are one of those things that I grew up being able to cook and I can whip up a batch at short notice at any time.

I Love pikelets only slightly less than pancakes, they taste quite similar and they are super simple to make. They are my answer to not being able to persuade my husband to make me pancakes, as such they often feature as a Sunday breakfast.

 

Pikelets

2 cups flour
4 tsps baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, enough to form a thick batter

Mix flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.
Add eggs and add milk gradually stirring vigorously until a thick batter is formed.
Melt a little butter in a hot pan.
Drop spoonfuls of batter in pan.
Allow to bubble and dry slightly on the top side.
Flip and cook until browned on both sides.
Monitor pan heat carefully.
Serve hot with butter or desired spreads.


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Portuguese Custard Tarts

Yummy! These were just amazing and I found them so much fun to cook.
I love to cook and trying new things is always a big thrill. These little suckers were amazingly good to eat and they taught me a new pastry technique that I had never even thought of. Always a winner!

Portuguese Custard Tarts
Serves: 12

3 egg yolks
115 g caster sugar (I cut down the sugar a little, just used 100g)
2 tablespoons cornflour
400 mL low fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 sheets puff pastry (I used 1 puff and 1 shortcrust, combined them following instructions and they turned out great)

Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tray.
Whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a saucepan until fully combined.
Gradually whisk in milk until smooth.
Over medium heat, cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil.
Immediately remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Transfer custard to a bowl, cover surface with cling wrap and leave to cool.
(I just left it in the pot and draped over a tea towel)
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Cut pastry dough sheet in half, place one half on top of the other. Do the same with the
other sheet. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
From the short end, roll up pastry tightly and cut the ‘log’ into 2 cm rounds (six per pastry
sheet). Lay each pastry round on a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out
to 10 cm circle.
Press pastry rounds into the muffin tins. Stir the cooled custard well. Spoon in cooled custard.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry and custard are golden.
Leave the tarts in muffin tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool
completely, or if serving hot, serve immediately with ice-cream.

Or if you are like us, grab a burning hot one and go for an evening walk. Walk about the neighbourhood with your mouth wide open trying to avoid 3rd degree burns on the inside of your mouth. Hope to not see any neighbours.

Admittedly they were easier to deal with later that evening, but where is the fun in that?