Sunday, February 22, 2015

{Little Lemon Glazed Cakes}

My littlest school boy does not like chocolate (or school drop off it would appear).  Pretty much all my school baking to date has included dark chocolate because that's what my biggest school boy loves and I like to think its a good option for school, I reckon anything homemade is better than anything bought even if its got chocolate in it plus its full of antioxidants and energy.  

However I now need to find some new lunchbox goodies to suit them both and I started with these, they have a gentle citrus flavour and are as cute as a button. These lovely little cakes will be popped into this weeks lunch boxes, that is if there are any left, they have been given the big tick of approval at our place, you know the one where they keep asking and asking and asking for another one!  

...the cakes
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175g self raising flour
pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp milk

...the glaze
juice of 1/2 a lemon
100g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 and line your cupcake tins with 12 paper cases.

Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, zest in the lemon then add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Gently fold in the flour and the salt, then lastly add the milk, stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into your prepared cases and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Remove from oven to a rack and cool completely.

For the glaze combine the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small deep bowl and stir until smooth, dip the cooled cupcakes into the glaze then pop them back on the rack to set.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

{Five Spice Pork + Rice Noodles}

I may need to start a section on my blog called things topped with a fried egg. OK maybe not.  This dish was inspired by a recipe I came across called taiwanese meat sauce, that's not a name that appealed to me but the idea of it did, it sounded sort of like an asian spaghetti bolognaise. I tweaked the recipe and its name and this is what I came up with.  It is completely delicious, a little bit sweet from the brown sugar, fragrantly spiced by the chinese five spice and has a gentle heat from the black pepper.  It is all good my friends all good.

…the dish
500g pork mince
2 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup crispy shallots
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chinese five spice powder
1 tsp of freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken stock
125g rice noodles (pad thai)
spring onions
free range eggs, fried

sriracha sauce

Heat the oil in a large frypan over high heat and cook the pork, stirring with a wooden spoon for five minutes until starting to brown and there are no large lumps. Add in the crispy shallots, soy sauce, brown sugar, five spice, rice wine vinegar, black pepper and cook stirring for a minute or two.

Next pour in the stock and bring it to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Cook the noodles according the the pack usually its a matter of covering them with boiling water and letting them sit for ten minutes, chop them with scissors into smaller pieces once they are softened. Drain and then add them to the sauce, stir thru, serve topped with a fried egg some sliced spring onions and sriracha sauce is optional but highly recommended.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

{Dark Chocolate + Raspberry Brownies}

So yesterday was valentines day.  We don't make a big deal of it in our house but I did bake something.  Something lush and rich and befitting valentines day and now I am a bit in love with this brownie.  It's completely dense and gooey and so chocolaty it makes me swoon but then the little bites of raspberry tartness lift it from being too full on which means you can eat more and more. I'm still debating as to whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

…the brownies
250g butter
350g brown sugar
220g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa)
4 x free range eggs
140g plain flour
50g cocoa
200g frozen raspberries

Line a 20x30cm (ish) slice tin with baking paper. Melt the butter, sugar and dark chocolate in a large saucepan over a medium heat, stir until smooth and thick.

Next add in the eggs one at a time stirring each one in completely.  Then sift over the flour and cocoa, stir until incorporated then lastly gently stir through the raspberries.

Cook at 160 fan (or 180 no fan) for 35 to 40 minutes until it is set on top and beginning to come away from the sides, you don't want a clean skewer with a brownie.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack using the baking paper to cool further.  Once cool dust with cocoa powder.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

{Vietnamese Chicken Salad}

You know when you can't get something out of your head, a song, a person, a movie, a meal? well that happened to me so I made this to replicate something I ate in Richmond about six months ago. A lunch that got stuck in my brain.  If memory serves me correctly its pretty spot on, it is really quite amazing that what seem like a bland bunch of ingredients, poached chicken, carrot and cabbage can turn into something so amazing.  Its all about the dressing, this dressing is the business.     

Also in other news I think I may need to check into some kind of support group as I am currently eating sriracha sauce on everything, I even found myself putting it on a stock standard roast chicken the other night and that's when it struck me that I might have a problem. 

Oh and speaking of support groups we've just watched the entire first season of Transparent on Stan (via the free trial!).  Its so so good.  I would highly recommend it.  I'm in mourning now its over, like when you finish a good book.

1 chilli sliced thinly 
2 x cloves garlic grated finely
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp sunflower oil

2 x chicken breasts
125g rice noodles (pad thai)
2 x carrots, sliced thinly or julienned
1/2 a cabbage, shredded or sliced thinly
bunch of mint, leaves chopped
bunch of coriander, leaves chopped
3 x spring onions sliced thinly
sriracha sauce 
salted roasted cashews

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, once boiling add the chicken breasts, turn off the heat and leave them with the lid on for 30 minutes.  

While that's happening make the dressing by simply combining everything in a jar or bowl and mix.

Once that's done remove them to your board and allow them to rest and cool for five minutes before shredding the chicken using two forks or your fingers.  Pour over 1/3 of the dressing.

Pop the noodles into a bowl and cover them with boiled water for ten minutes, use scissors to chop them into smaller pieces of around 10 cm (easier to combine into the salad and to pick up with chopsticks) then tip them into a sieve run cold water over them then allow them to drain completely before adding to the chicken along with another 1/3 of the dressing.

Lastly chop up the carrot, cabbage, spring onions and herbs and toss them together with the chicken and noodles and you guessed it the last of the dressing.  Serve with sriracha sauce and a sprinkling of cashews or peanuts.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

{Dark Chocolate & Oat Cookies}

So here we are, school starts tomorrow and so to the kitchen I go to do what I do, bake.  In this instance bake for two little peoples lunchboxes.  I don't know if I want to laugh or cry. 
These are a actually a great lunchbox treat, oats and dark chocolate for energy and they are crunchy, I am firmly in the crunchy biscuit camp.  I do not like a soft biscuit I mean come on you might as well just eat cake. I need crunch, serious and sustained crunch.  These cookies are just that, crunchy, oaty and chocolaty but they could easily be oaty and nutty or oaty and fruity and nutty if you know what I mean, just use the base and add what you and your little people love.

...the cookies
250g softened butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp condensed milk
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
220g dark chocolate, chopped or use chips

Preheat oven to 180.  Cream the butter, sugar and condensed milk until pale and fluffy.  Tip in the flour, baking powder, salt and oats, stir to combine, lastly add in the chocolate give it a final stir until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and press down onto a baking tray lined with baking paper leaving space in between.  I like to make criss crosses with a sharp knife but its just for show.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden, let them sit on the tray for a few minutes before moving to a tray to cool completely.