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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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Going Nuts, in the best way possible

I love nuts. Although this looks like primarily peanuts (which it is) there were quite a few oddments included, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds to name a few. I had a few bags of nuts in the cupboard, bits of leftover this and that from various recipes that called for them, and I had a craving for something sweet and spicy to make them just a bit more interesting than a bag of nuts is wont to be. I did some digging and came up with this. I think it could have used a little more spice personally; it had a tiny zing of heat but needed a bit more of a kick to be truly satisfying. Maybe a little lemon juice or cider vinegar for an acidic touch or maybe a little fish sauce for a bit if an Asian bent, if you like that kind of thing, or even cinnamon if you are into that sweet Christmasy touch. It was a good starting point anyway and I ate the whole lot over a stretch of about 3 days.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

4 cups of untoasted nuts (whatever varieties appeal to you, or you have handy)
1 tsp salt (I used a little less as some of my nuts were already salted)
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup water
1 Tbls butter

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. (This might be a good idea, I did mine on the trays and they stuck like limpets)
Combine nuts in a large bowl. Add salt, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper; toss to coat.
Heat sugar, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted.
Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Slowly pour butter mixture over the bowl of nuts and stir to coat.
Transfer nuts to the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
Bake nuts in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir nuts until the warm syrup coats every nut. Spread into a single layer, return to the oven, and bake until nuts are sticky and roasted, about 6 minutes.
Allow to cool before serving. (This IS a good idea, these things are blisteringly hot when straight out of the oven as the scorch marks on my fingers and tongue prove quite conclusively)


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Berry Cobbler

Time for sweets! The kitchen was a mess from an earlier baking foray (by persons who shall remain nameless) when the need to bake hit me. Not particularly wanting to clean up trays to bake biscuits on before I even started, I opted for a dessert (then cleaned everything afterwards). I enjoyed this recipe; it was certainly different from the normal cobber recipes that I have tried previously. I will cook it again but try different fruits next time. Berries whilst lovely, can be a bit overpowering for me at times so I would like to experiment with different flavours, I am thinking apricot for a start.

We had this with cream or ice cream depending on preference. The syrup absorbed into the dish completely and as I noted below, I didn’t bother to sugar the top, it was sweet enough for my tastes as it was. The sugar on top would have given the top a caramel crunch which would have been a lovely but over the top edition to something already so sweet.

Berry Cobbler

1 cup butter, divided
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup milk, room temperature
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

In a 25cm round or oval baking dish, melt 1/2 cup butter; set aside.
In a saucepan, heat sugar and water until sugar melts; set aside.
Place flour in a mixing bowl; cut in remaining butter until fine crumbs form.
Add milk, stirring with a fork until dough leaves sides of bowl.
Turn out onto a floured surface; knead three or four times.
Roll out to an 20x25cm rectangle 5mm thick.
Spread berries over dough; sprinkle with cinnamon.
Roll up, jelly-roll style. Cut into 5mm thick slices.
Carefully lay slices in baking dish over butter.
Pour sugar syrup around slices (syrup will be absorbed).
Bake at 180C for 45 minutes.
Sprinkle sugar over top and bake 15 minutes more. (I didn’t bother with this step)
Serve warm or cold.


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Date Bars

This is spur of the moment cooking. I knew I had the ingredients and the desire just came over me to cook something. In the middle of the morning I trip downstairs for a coffee and then return less than an hour later with freshly baked slice (it was a public holiday in half the country today and things were pretty slow at work. Last week when we had a public holiday I worked all day so I feel like it works out in the wash…)

This slice is very light and the dates give it a deep caramel like taste. Add that to the fact that I love anything with nuts in it and you have another winner. I will probably be the only household member that actually likes this but I am okay with that (all the more for me!!) I made a lemon cheesecake for my husband over the weekend so I am working on credit at the moment (I can do no wrong), it should last me for a week or so.

Date Bars
Makes 18 bars

1 Cup Pitted Dates, finely chopped
2 Tbls Apple Juice
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Self-rising Flour
1 Cup Walnuts, chopped
Confectioner’s Sugar

Preheat oven to 180C.  Prepare a 20cm baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine dates and apple juice.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Gradually beat in sugar until thick and lemon-coloured.
Gradually beat in flour.  Stir in nuts and date mixture.
Spread in prepared baking pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centre feels firm to the touch.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a cutting board.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into squares.


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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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Apple and Berry Slice

Tangy and tart and sweet, the best of all worlds. This fruity slice would make a wonderful dessert teamed with vanilla ice cream, a blob of clotted cream or even custard. I love cooked apple and the berries added an extra tartness that was definitely welcome.

I used frozen berries, a mixture of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

 

Apple and Berry Slice

BASE:
375g Plain Flour
185g Butter
2 Eggs
90g White Sugar
250g Apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
250g Blackberries or Raspberries (use frozen and thawed if fresh not available)

TOPPING:
4 Eggs
90g Caster Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
60g Plain Flour

BASE:
Rub together flour and butter. Add the eggs and White Sugar and form into a smooth dough.
Pat pastry into the base of a shallow baking tin (37 x 25cm) and press into corners.
Prick surface of pastry and bake blind in oven preheated to 190C for 10 to 15 mins or until pale golden.
Cover the pastry with sliced apples and berries.
TOPPING:
Beat the eggs, Caster Sugar and vanilla essence together until mixture is pale and fluffy. Fold the flour in gently.
Spoon the mixture evenly over the apples and berries.
Return to the oven, reducing the heat to 180C and cook for 20 to 25 mins.
Cut into slices when cool.


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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.