Sunday, February 27, 2011

EGGS AND LEOPARDS

I had a bit of a baking day yesterday and cooked up chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake, gingerbread men and pecan-pear-ginger-caramel tartlets, just because. I also had an omelette for breakfast, this is how they usually look when there is full cream milk in the house (I like them done as):

I am writing this a day later and have just finished another omelette. It makes for delicious breakfast fare, so quick and easy and delicous. Also an easy way to get your 5+ a day, courgette, capsicum, and mushrooms.

I made the gingerbread and realised the recipe I have is essentially a spiced short sweet pastry dough. Accordingly, I added a bit of extra cardamon, golden syrup, nutmeg and cinnamon to half the dough and turned it into pastry cases for some kind of delicious tart, which materialised as these:

They are legit delicious. I drained a tin of quartered pears, patted them with handee towels to reduce the excess moisture and chucked in some roughly chopped pecans.While I was doing this I put my tart tins (with the pastry pressed into them) into the fridge. If you want your pastry to be awesome you have to keep it as cold as possible at all times. You also can't handle it too much or it becomes chewy and tough, you don't want the gluten to develop too much.

I then prepared a simple caramel (100g butter, 1c brown sugar, 2T cream, 1t vanilla essence, mix over low heat till combined and then when cool whisk in an egg) and poured it over the tarts. They then went in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes. Then they emerged from the oven all crisp and caramelly and delicious! You could obviously do this with basically any variation of pastry and filling; date and walnut would probably be great with the gingerbread dough too.

Before I started the gingerbread I had made a teeny cake as a practice birthday cake. I wanted to paint the fondant to look like leopard print and it came out like this:


I'm very impressed with it, although I will have to think of something to do about that border.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

IMMA NEED SOME SOUP UP IN HERE

Soup may be one of the most comforting and versatile dishes in the world. Almost every culture has it's own style of soup; think Gazpacho, Thom Kha Gai, Bouillabaise, Chilli con Carne, Curry Laksa, Gumbo, Irish Stew... there's even Hejangguk which is Korean hangover soup. Soup is particularly awesome when you are ill, self-inflicted or otherwise. Accordingly, you should know how to make a basic chicken soup. It's way easier than one might think and although it doesn't look that amazing it tastes wholesome as.


BASIC CHICKEN SOUP
Serves a few hungover unwell people

Chicken breast
Tinned lentils/chickpeas/beans of some sort
Orzo/quinoa/pasta etc
Veges eg potato, brocoli, carrot, leek, celery...
Half a medium-sized diced onion
Garlic, chopped thinly
Oil/butter
Chicken stock, powdered, fresh, whatever
Freshly boiled water
Salt and pepper to taste

Put a small tablespoon of oil (or butter) into the bottom of a large, heavy-based saucepan. I'm talking the kind of pot you would use to boil potatoes for a family of four. Fry up your onion, garlic and other similar veges (eg leeks, celery) until they are translucent.

Chuck in 1-2 tablespoons of powdered chicken stock (or 1-2 cups of liquid stock). Top up immediately with freshly boiled water, around 3/4 of the way up to the top of the pan. Wait until the water is boiling in the pot and add your potatoes and carrots and other veges that take a little while to cook along with your grains and legumes (pasta and chickpeas, second and third ingredients). Also add your chicken breast whole and let the soup simmer away for around 15 minutes, or until the chicken breast is cooked right through.

When this is done, take it out and put on a plate (do it with tongs, don't stealth mode it and kill yourself) and wait till it's a bit cooler to shred it up into bite-sized pieces. If you have waitress fingers like me and you can deal do it while it's still ridiculously hot. When the chicken is shredded, throw it back into the pot along with the veges that don't take so long to cook (think stir fry veges eg capsicum, brocoli etc).

Let the mix simmer for another five minutes or so and then taste it. Now is the time to add salt and pepper. You can add heaps before you over-salt or over-pepper it, so be lenient but don't forget to taste it after each addition. You could also add basil, rosemary etc about now. Basically once you are satisfied with the taste, it's ready to go. GET IT IN A BOWL QUICK!

And that is that.

Wholewheat Hotcakes

A basic pancake/hotcake batter should be in everyone's repetoire. The general rule is the more eggs and flour, the thicker the pancakes will be and the more milk the thinner it will be. The beauty of the base recipe is that you can do WHATEVER you like with it; use chocolate milk, add chocolate chips, use different flour, add mashed banana, literally whatever. As long as the ratio of wet ingredients to dry ingredients stays in the right balance the world of pancakes, hotcakes, crepes and fritters is your oyster.

 Here is my circulon pan. I cannot stress how excellent I think this thing is; when I cook with it I have to start on a medium heat and gradually turn it down because it holds its heat so well. If you have a good pan you should never have to keep it on the highest setting, even for a decent steak. Good pans hold their heat well and don't have hot spots. This one falls into the class of a "good pan." Also, because it's non-stick (and with a spray-on coating so it won't peel) it means I don't have to use butter or oil to prevent sticking, although admittedly some things are better with butter and oil. YOU NEED ONE.

Enough rambling, here is the recipe.

WHOLEWHEAT BLUEBERRY/CHERRY HOTCAKES
Serves one

1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 cup super trim milk
1 egg
honey & berries to top

Whisk together the batter, pour small amounts of batter into the pan at a time and wait till bubbles rise on the surface of the hotcake. At this point, flip it and wait till the bottom side is nicely browned. Once you have a good stack of them, top with berries and drizzle with honey for a health freak's dream breakfast.

I call these "hotcakes" and not pancakes because they are smaller than pancakes. You can also, as I stressed before, use white flour and not super trim milk but if you don't you can keep this basic single-serve recipe to around 300 calories with the berries and honey.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO MAKE SOME HOTCAKES!