Tag Archives: dessert

June cook-a-long: Wrap-up

Hello my beautiful friends!

Here we are. Another month gone by in a blink of the eye. Goodness gracious me! We are almost half way through the year already!

As the nights are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, all I can think about is what to cook that will warm me up! The answer? Soup, soup and soup!!!

Fortunately, thanks to the June issue’s of ABC delicious. Magazine, there has been no shortage of fabulous soup recipes.

Having made at least six different soup’s this month (much to the disgust of B4), I can honestly say that THE BEST one was the Vietnamese chicken, lemongrass & rice soup from the June cook-a-long. So much so that I actually made it twice in one week!

Me

I just love the combination of spring onion, ginger, lemongrass and chilli. In fact, I often have to hold myself back from cooking Asian food every night of the week. I seem to be drawn to those flavours.

It seems though that I may have put a few of you off with the recipe I chose this month, which resulted in a bunch of you not getting time to cook-a-long with me this month. (sad face)

For those of you who don’t have time to make your own stock, I can only encourage you to just try it once. In actual fact, it cooks itself. Just pop all the ingredients in a pot on the stove and let it gently simmer for a few hours. Until you taste it, you won’t realise just how much better homemade chicken stock is. Comfort in a bowl…

Dessert

As a huge chocolate fan, I have to confess to not actually loving the dessert this month because there was too much chocolate in it!!! Here’s what I DID love about Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate & orange croissant-bread-and-butter pudding:

  1. I didn’t actually have to make it. My little sister Beck whipped up dessert. It was that easy! (Thanks Beck!)
  2. Croissants.
  3. Butter
  4. Cream
  5. Need I list any more?

Thank you so much to those that did actually participate in the cook-a-long this month. I really hope that you and your family enjoyed the recipes as much as we did.

Just a reminder that cook-a-long will now take place on the third Wednesday of the month. The July cook-a-long will take place on Wednesday 17 July. The Facebook event is now open. Don’t forget to head over and join in and invite your friends!

Until next month.

Take care,

X Bree

Stay tuned: Next month we have a fab new recipe to cook and a GIVEAWAY! Yay!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cook-a-long, June

Good riddance April!

Oh me, oh my. Thank goodness April is over. What a month.

I have to confess. I really struggled to stay motivated this month. REALLY struggled. Fussy kids and unappreciative husbands nearly made me want to quit. It made me think “why? why? why?”

The other thing that I was overwhelmed by was my need to cook every single cover recipe. What was I thinking when I set that as a ground rule? This month I was good – I didn’t leave them all to the last two days. But I was totally overwhelmed by all the chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE chocolate as much as the next person. But out of the twelve April cover recipes to cook, nine were sweets and eight of those included chocolate (the other one was caramel). Blah!

Here’s a little secret. I’ve taken to halving the dessert recipes. Why? Because the cover recipes are often so decadent (cream, chocolate, sugar etc) and I am very conscious of only consuming these types of things in small quantities. Otherwise my hips and my health can’t handle it! They also often have a very short shelf life and as a family, we just can’t get through them quick enough, even after sharing the leftovers with our extended family.

And here’s a confession. I actually didn’t cook all twelve covers this month! I know. I know. What a disappointment. But I really couldn’t bring myself to do it. (I only skipped one) Please forgive me? It won’t happen again…

Here's the cover I skipped this month...

Here’s the cover I skipped this month…

On to the fussy kid saga…

Pretty much every night B4 asks me “what’s for dinner?” His usual response is either tears, or hysteria, or running screaming from the room, or a combination of the three. It turns out he’s more of a meat and no veg kind of guy. Like that is ok… Yes, there are nights that he goes to bed hungry.

After more than my fair share of these shenanigans this month, I took him aside one night and asked him what he really wanted to have for dinner. Turns out it was lasagna. A simple request, and one that I will fulfil sometime in May. Until then, he has to keep trying the new stuff I am making.

On another occasion, after a week of very poor dinner eating on B4’s behalf, I was driving to my parent’s house where B2 and B4 were to have dinner and a sleepover. Around the corner from my parents house B4 piped up with “I wonder if grandma is going to make me something yummy for dinner?” I replied with something like “well of course honey. Grandma always cooks yummy dinner.” B4 then replied “yes and I will love it and eat it all up!” (Because I never cook anything you love. And breathe…)

Sure enough, grandma produced the trifecta – roasted chicken, roasted lamb and roasted potatoes. The boys proceeded to inhale their dinner like they hadn’t eaten for a week. (sigh)

So, in honour of the sh#ttiest month ever, I present you with my high’s and low’s – what I loved to eat, what I didn’t and what I’d make again:

The High’s

  1. The cook-a-long. How freaking awesome was it? I was completely overwhelmed by how much people really got into it. I can’t wait for May. Thank you so much, everyone!
  2. Meat-free Monday – I have really enjoyed going meat-free on a Monday and have found that it is a pleasure to create delicious, flavoursome, meat-free meals. My children may disagree!
  3. Huevos Rancheros (Apr 2008, p. 86) – definitely recipe of the month. Simple. Tasty. Delicious. A great Saturday morning brekky. Give it a go.

 IMG_20130426_190552IMG_20130420_150103IMG_20130429_175128

The Low’s

  1. Chocolate fondants – COVER (Apr 2008, p. 74) or as someone so politely commented on Facebook “steaming poo”. Thanks Paul. LOL. Something went terribly wrong. Not sure I care enough to try to correct it and make them again.
  2. Pear & ginger crisp (Apr 2002, p. 114). Another dessert disaster. Curdled, eggy, grossness.  May we never speak of it again.
  3. Pearl barley risotto with roast pumpkin, capsicum & rocket (Apr 2009, p. 126). There was a huge uproar in the house when I served this up for meat-free Monday. I think the concept is good, but the execution was not so good.

IMG_20130402_180719IMG_20130404_183413IMG_20130415_183639

More please…

  1. Mascarpone, prosciutto & rocket pizza – COVER (Apr 2007, p. 12). Homemade pizza. Yum!
  2. Roast pork steaks with tomatoes and pine nuts (Apr 2005, p. 139). A few simple ingredients packed with flavour. It was a winner.
  3. Mushroom carbonara (Apr 2012, p. 84). Another recipe with a few simple ingredients that translated to a delicious, easy, weeknight dinner.

Did I mention that neither B2 nor B4 ever complain when offered dessert, or pizza?

Here’s a link to the full list of what I cooked in April.

And to end the month of April, here is the most memorable piece of feedback I got from Mr Picky Palette during April, which pretty much sums up the month:

Me: How was your dinner honey?
Mr Picky Palette: I ate it didn’t I?

The end.

X Bree

4 Comments

Filed under April

Farewell to February

Some of my February favourites

Some of my February favourites

It’s official. I have made it through the first month of the My Delicious Year challenge! Round of applause please?

In the end I managed 31 recipes in 28 days. Not a bad effort for the first month of the challenge. In all honesty though, it has been a whole lot of fun.

Here’s a quick recap on some of my favourite recipes from the month:

Top 3 desserts

Real strawberry jelly (Feb 2011, p. 44)
Vanilla panna cotta with roasted plums – COVER (Feb 2003, p. 10)
Strawberry & almond crumble with crème fraiche (Feb 2004, p. 81)

Top 3 easy weeknight dinners

Minced chicken with Thai basil (Feb 2006, p.76)
Prawn, zucchini & mint tagliatelle (Feb 2011, p. 52)
Honey lemon chicken wings (Feb 2004, p. 104)

Top 3 fancy weekend dinners

Smoked salmon & pea risoni with a coriander mojo (Feb 2007, p. 80)
Ravioli with roasted pumpkin & herbs (Feb 2002, p. 128)
Roasted vegetable strudel with pesto sauce (Jan/Feb 2002, p. 86)

Top 3 cheap and cheerful

Tuna-stuffed capsicum (Feb 2004, p. 74)
Stir-fried pork and pickled cucumber on rice noodles (Feb 2008, p. 96)
Chicken dumplings in broth (Feb 2005, p. 62)

This whole little project has been good for me. I used to be a disorganised cook, often waiting until mid afternoon  before I would start to think about what I would cook for dinner. Now I sit down at the start of the week and plan my meals out for the week and only shop once or twice.

It has also been good for the rest of the family. B2 and B4 are your usual fussy eaters. But they have been really great. Trying lots of new things. Finding new things that they like. Generally being awesome little dudes – except for the one or two times I have had to spoon feed them or threaten to send them to bed without any dinner!

Even Mr Picky Palette has been awesome. He is the first to remind me that I am a quitter or that I never finish what I start. But I have proved him wrong so far. He happily wolf’s down the food I make, offers his two cents on what I should or shouldn’t have put in it, and then asks for seconds. I’m happy with that…

I would really like to thank each and every one of you that are reading my blog, leaving comments and liking what I am doing. That is really what keeps me going each day, knowing that I have your support. If I have inspired just one of you to try something new, then my job is done! Thank you so much! 

Now that March is underway, I can’t wait to get into some delicious Autumn food! I look forward to continue sharing My Delicious Year with you!

Take care,

X Bree

P.S You can find a full list of what I cooked during February here.

1 Comment

Filed under February

I made an ugly cake…

So I made this ugly cake.

Well actually it was a brownie – a chocolate cheesecake brownie.

I should have known better.

You mix together the ingredients for the brownie base and then you mix together the ingredients for the cheesecake.

Two thirds of the brownie mix goes in the bottom of the cake tin, followed by the cheesecake, followed by the last third of the brownie mix. Then you swirl it all around and bake it.

Here's where it starts to get ugly

Here’s where it starts to get ugly

Here’s where it got ugly. There was SO much cheesecake mixture. It involved almost a kilogram of cream cheese after all! My gut told me that it wouldn’t all fit in the 24cm square cake pan suggested. I ignored my gut and just followed the instructions.

So I spent the next hour nervously watching it bake in the oven.

And as I expected, it slowly rose up, up, up and over like warm chocolatey lava. Disaster!

It didn’t help that I was in a hurry too. I had planned on taking the brownie out to my parents house for morning tea, but I was running late. After it broke its banks and oozed up and over that stupid little pan I switched off the oven and left it there. I would deal with whatever was waiting for me when I got home.

When I got home and opened up the oven, the brownie had kind of sunk violently in the middle with some serious chocolate hanging over the baking paper and cake pan.

Cracked, sunken and overflowing - sigh!

Cracked, sunken and overflowing – sigh!

I left the cake to completely cool in the pan and then dragged it out. Things just got uglier…

Every time I tried to cut a nice piece to photograph and share with you lovely people, the cake cracked more, bits fell off, oh it was just a disaster! U-G-L-Y!

But, those little bits that kept falling off the cake kept falling in my mouth and, oh my goodness, they were yum! Chocolatey, gooey, chewy, sweet, cheesy, deliciousness!

In the end I hacked it into square like pieces and sent it off to work with Mr Picky Palette for his co-workers to enjoy. They didn’t seem to mind ugly cake.

Moral of the story:

  1. Go with your gut instincts
  2. Use a bigger cake pan
  3. Or halve the cheesecake mixture
  4. Ugly can still taste delicious

X Bree

At this point I gave up trying to cut a piece pretty enough to share with you...

At this point I gave up trying to cut a piece pretty enough to share with you…

Chocolate cheesecake brownies

Makes 16

delicious. magazine (Feb 2009, p. 101)

250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
250g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
750g cream cheese, softened

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius. Grease and line a 24cm square cake pan.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). I melted mine in the microwave – it’s much quicker and uses less dishes!

Meanwhile, place butter and 1 1/4 cups (275g) sugar in a bowl, then beat with electric beaters until thick and pale. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. Add melted chocolate and flour, then continue beating until well combined.

Spread two-thirds of the chocolate mix in the pan. Set remaining mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining 3/4 cup (165g) sugar with electric beaters until smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over the chocolate in the pan. Dollop the remaining chocolate mixture over cream cheese layer, then use a fork to swirl the chocolate through the cream cheese.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the centre is just set. Cool completely in pan, then carefully remove from the pan, transfer to a board and cut into 16 squares.

4 Comments

Filed under cake, February

The cake that nearly broke me

Under normal circumstances I would never attempt a cake like the Summer layer cake, the cover recipe from the February 2012 issue of delicious. magazine. However, you may recall that when I started this little project, one of my “ground rules” was that I would cook every single cover recipe. This whole exercise was designed to push me out of my comfort zone and cook things I would ordinarily deem too hard.

The plan was to make the cake for my birthday, a Wednesday. But the night before, during a quick scan of the recipe to ensure I had all the necessary ingredients, I came across the dreaded words “Begin this recipe a day ahead”. I was not off to a particularly good start. There would be no birthday cake.

As it turns out, I got busy and I didn’t end up starting the cake until Friday.

The first stage was making the cake and berry mousse which would be sandwiched between each layer of cake. This stage was pretty straight forward, except that I don’t own two springform pans. And the one I borrowed from my mother was a different size to mine. This is kind of critical when you are making a multi layered cake that would set overnight in said pan. In the end I made do using three pans almost the same size and hoped for the best.

Having had a terrible incident with smoke and electricity (and a trip to the bin) with my own mixer late last year, I borrowed my mother’s beautiful vintage Sunbeam mixer. I would say it is over 40 years old, but it is still working as new. They certainly don’t make them like they used to.

My mother's vintage Sunbeam mixer

My mother’s vintage Sunbeam mixer

The cake is the usual cream butter and sugar blah blah. No drama there.

While the cake was baking I got on to making the berry mousse. It’s quite a simple process of mixing together strawberries, raspberries, cream and gelatine. The trick is to gently fold the whipped cream into the berry puree and keep the mixture light. This was so good. I could actually have eaten it on its own. No volunteers required for bowl licking here!

What came next was a whole lot of cutting, trimming, glad wrapping and finger crossing. I had to cut one cake in half and slice the top off the other two to make them all about the same size. I glad wrapped the cake pan I baked one of the cakes in and then put the first layer of cake into the bottom, topped it with a third of the berry mousse mixture and repeated to make four layers of cake and three layers of mousse. It was then sealed with more glad wrap and tucked up into bed in the fridge over night.

The next afternoon I finally got the courage to finish the cake off. In my eyes this was the hard part – making the marshmallow icing and assembly.

I have never come across a marshmallow icing recipe before, but this is a revelation. Since I made it I have been trying to come up with other uses for it (I’m thinking cup cakes!!!). It is a bit of a process to make it, but well worth it. Over a double boiler on the stove you whisk the egg white, sugar and cream of tartar until the mixture kind of doubles in size and becomes frothy. You then add the chopped up marshmallows and transfer it over to your mixer and beat it at top speed for about ten minutes until it becomes thick, pale, shiny, cool and DELICIOUS!!!

Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3

As for the final stage of assembly, well, um, it tasted good!

I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked in the end. It wasn’t anywhere near as pretty as the original in the delicious. magazine.

I think each of the layers were quite even, I was happy with that. I found that I had to work pretty quickly to get the marshmallow icing on as I noticed it starting to slide off the cake. I also failed to get the dessicated coconut onto the sides of the cake. Not sure how they managed that one…

Before the marshmallow icing

Before the marshmallow icing

The end result

So four days after originally planning to be eating cake, we finally sat down and tried it.

The cut

The cut

My piece!

My piece!

It may not have been that pretty. It may have taken two days. I may have had to adapt the recipe a little to fit in with the equipment I had. But I did it! It didn’t break me! But it was hard work!

I’ll leave it up to B2 to sum up for you how the cake actually tasted. A picture tells a thousand words…

Finger licking good

Finger licking good

X Bree

6 Comments

Filed under cake, February, ground rules, special occasion

Pasta and Panna Cotta – A fancy Sunday night dinner

In our house Sunday night dinners are not flash. They usually consist of scrambled eggs or fridge leftovers. But since I embarked on this cooking extravaganza Sunday nights dinner have been a bit more fancy.

Tonight we took a trip back to 2002 and 2003 and enjoyed Ravioli with roasted pumpkin & herbs and Panna cotta with roasted plums. One word = yum!

I have made fresh pasta before, and in fact, the recipe calls for fresh, shop bought lasagne sheets a la Latina style. But I chose to make my own using my faithful Jamie Oliver basic pasta dough recipe. It’s a simple recipe – 100gm of strong “00” flour to each egg. Make as little or as much as you like. I use my food processor so it is whizzed together in a moment. I make enough for six so I can freeze half. Once you’ve made it a few times it is simple. The hardest part really is the rolling out and getting the texture smooth and silky.

Rolling out the fresh egg pasta

Rolling out the fresh egg pasta

The filling for the ravioli is a simple mix of roasted butternut pumpkin, ricotta, egg yolk, parmesan, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs (I used sage, basil and thyme) and a pinch of nutmeg (which I forgot – whoops!). I’m not a fan of butternut pumpkin. I find it kind of stringy. I prefer the blue or jap and would probably use that next time. Any herbs will do. Whatever you like to eat. Fresh from your own garden is even better!

The ravioli filling

The ravioli filling

Next is the most difficult part – rolling and filling the ravioli. The secret is not to overfill the ravioli and to make sure that you get all of the air out before you seal each one. I made little round ones because that is the only cutter I had, but you could also cut them by hand into squares or use a fancy crimper cutter. Whatever…

Even little mounds are best

Even little mounds are best

Perfect little packages

Perfect little packages

While you are boiling your ravioli in salted water (4 or 5 minutes until they rise to the surface) you can make the sage flavoured oil by warming your extra virgin olive oil and dropping in a dozen sage leaves till they sizzle and crisp up.

The result is perfect little pillows with a sweet and savoury pumpkin and cheese filling. Really delicious. Give it a go!

The end result

The end result

Now for the panna cotta. Confession! This recipe is SO easy I actually whipped it up 15 minutes before I went to bed on Saturday night. I’m not sure why I thought it would be more difficult. Maybe it’s Masterchef’s fault. Or Matt Preston. You’ve got to get your “wobble” right. Miraculously, I did.

This recipe is NOT low-fat. It consists of cream, cream, vanilla, sugar and more cream. It is very rich, very sweet and very much a sometimes food! But so, so good.  You simply heat the two types of cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a pot and bring it to a simmer and switch it off. Let it cool for a few minutes then add your softened leaf gelatine. Strain it and pour it into little dariole moulds, or if you don’t have them, just pour it into whatever you want to serve it in. Leave them in the fridge over night to set. The recipe said it would make six. I made eight. Any bigger and I think I would have had a sugar convulsion (did I mention this recipe is rich?)

While I was cooking dinner last night I made the roasted plums, which is pretty much that. Plums, sugar, more vanilla bean roasted in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

The trickiest part of this recipe is getting the panna cotta out of the dariole moulds. The easiest way I found was to run a knife around the edge of the mould to break the seal, dip the mould into warm water for a minute, turn it upside down onto the plate you want to serve it on and give it a little bang. Ta da! Magic! All the little seeds from the vanilla bean have now settled on top of your panna cotta which makes it look pretty. Add a couple of plums and you have a very good-looking dessert.

Vanilla panna cotta with roasted plums

Vanilla panna cotta with roasted plums

These two recipes were published in delicious. magazine more than ten years ago, yet they have not dated a bit. If you want to impress somebody, without going to a whole lot of trouble, you must give them both a go.

However, after such a decadent dinner last night we are one fruit and salad today! Until dinner of course, where I am planning on using the rest of my fresh egg pasta to make another delicious dinner!

X Bree

5 Comments

Filed under February, special occasion