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    Entries in Australia (55)

    Monday
    Jun142010

    Queens Birthday Cupcake

                                                              Queens Birthday Cupcake

           Pussy-cat, pussy-cat,

               Where have you been?"

           I've been to London

               To look at the Queen"

             Mother Goose

    Don't I wish!! That I'd 'been in London to look at the Queen' that is, instead of being curled up swallowing antibiotics at regular intervals. 

    It's Queen's Birthday today a public holiday in most of Australia, it's a day when the monarch's birthday is celebrated. It's not the "actual" birthday of our current monarch Queen Elizabeth the 2nd whose birthday falls on April 21st, but rather a set date for a Queen's/King's Birthday celebration: in Australia the second Monday in June.

    Today the Order of Australia and other honours are announced, however for most Australians it marks the last public holiday as we well and truly settle into winter. 

    Back tomorrow, Happy Baking :)

    chocolate cupcake, with chocolate ganache, topped in fondant and modelling paste topper

    Saturday
    May292010

    It's a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll

    Sausage rolls; minced or sausage meat seasoned formed into a tube, wrapped in puff pastry & baked. Often contains vegetables. Vegetarian & gourmet versions are available, but is the beef or beef/pork mix that you will most commonly find. Served with at least one "glob" of tomato sauce (ketchup). 

    "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)"

    AC/DC 1975, Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young

    AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) is synonymous  with Melbourne, so much so there is a Melbourne street named after the iconic Aussie band. The lyrics of the aforementioned rock anthem are often affectionally sang as "it's a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll".

    street sign in Melbourne for AC/DC lane 

    Sausage rolls are a hand held snack/party food; as popular at children's parties as they are at sporting events, a casual get together or as work man's lunch. 

    Sausage roll ingredients ready to be mixed together

    about to be rolled

    they can be cut to size before or after baking, I cut each roll into four after baking

    The recipe I used this weekend was from a recent MasterChef episode, similar to how I usually make sausage rolls but this recipe contains quite a lot of fresh bread crumbs... I thought too much and the resulting sausage roll filling tasted a little "bready". An interesting technique of infusing the onion with garlic and herb is used, plus the carrot puree technique results in delicious carrot that is just as home as a side dish. I used pre-rolled supermarket puff pastry, but I'm sure the sausage rolls would have been extra delicious with the butter puff the MasterChef recipe recommends. 

    onion is infused with herbs and garlic before adding to meat

    MasterChef sausage rolls with hidden vegetables recipe from the MasterChef site here.

    Other sausage roll recipes worth trying;

    from chef/restauranteur Karen Martini a recipe for sausage rolls using the meat from Italian veal or pork sausages & cheese.

    from Jamie Oliver another recipe for sausage rolls where you are using the meat from sausages... this time pork sausages.

    Happy Baking ;)

    Tuesday
    May252010

    Sugar Bark

    coffee sugar bark pieces decorate a chocolate "cupcakecino" 

    This is for my friend Cindy, who is not going to start spinning toffee threads any time soon ;) An easy alternative to traditional toffee garnishes is sugar bark.

    Cons; it doesn't last very long (one hour max) so it has to be made at the last minute

    Pros; it's so fast to make (4-6 minutes) with no toffee pot to clean!!

    You just need sugar, preferably caster sugar (superfine)... and for clear shards that's all you need. You can also add cinnamon/spices, seeds, cocoa nibs, nuts slivers or like I did instant coffee granules & coffee sugar bits.

    Try adding white & black sesame seeds for a garnish for an asian custard dessert, almond slivers look and taste gorgeous in sugar bark or go savoury and pair clear shards with char grilled scallops. 

    Method

    Line at baking tray with a silicone baking mat (at this point my friend Cindy is going to tell me she doesn't have a silicone baking mat... GOOD GRIEF WOMAN... buy yourself one at K-Mart!!)

    Sprinkle caster sugar evenly on the silicone baking mat and bake in a preheated 180c oven for 4 to 6 minutes.

    here I've added a few coffee granules and coffee sugar to get a darker/streaky effect 

    Alternatively you can grill/broil the sugar... either way keep an eye on the sugar, once it starts to melt it browns quickly. Your aiming for a light to mid amber colour.

    thicker sugar on you tray will give you an almost "bubble sugar" look, caster sugar with a little different brown sugar will give you streaks, thin sugar (mine with a coffee granule in it) will give you a clear finish. 

    Cool for 15 to 20 minutes, break into shards use immediately. 

    That's it you have sugar bark.

    Faux Cappuccino

    To make a faux cappuccino, push an unwrapped baked cupcake (preferably moist cake like mud cake) into a cappuccino cup, top with sweetened whipped cream, sprinkle with cocoa or drinking chocolate and top with shards of sugar bark. This works well with for individual tiramisu's too.

    Happy Baking :)

    you might also like;

    quick tiramisu cupcakes

    Saturday
    May222010

    Roses in food

    'love roses cupcake'

    pistachio cupcake with rose water swiss meringue butter cream topped with rose & pistachio sugar pieces. 

    Rose water is inexpensive and easily available where I live, usually found next to the vanilla in the supermarket, but from emails I've received some of you can't get your hands on it. Amazon does have rose water & dried roses, you could pop some in with your next book order or perhaps ...

    Your can make your own simply from dried or fresh roses; 

    Dried 'dried for culinary purposes roses, whole or petals', are found in Asian, Middle Eastern & Indian grocery stores (pick up a bottle of rose essence/extract when you are there too), plus specialist supermarkets/food stores. I bought a large bag of whole rose buds for $2.99 at the local Asian grocery store last week. 

    Fresh roses not sprayed with pesticide from florists or maybe your Aunty's garden. 

    Rose Water for culinary purposes

    Method

    Fill a heatproof bowl with rinsed rose petals (fresh or dried), pour boiling water over the petals & cover with plastic wrap or tight fitting lid. Refrigerate overnight, the next day strain the liquid through a fine sieve. To store the rose water fill an ice-cube tray with the rose liquid, freeze until hard, then transfer the cubes to freezer proof plastic bags. Defrost a cube/s at room temperature when ready to use. 

    Unlike the supermarket version yours will be a pretty colour & will vary in strength depending on the type of rose, how much water you used etc, but you have a perfectly useable and delicious rose water.

    Rose water has many savoury applications but my favourite way to use it is in desserts. Wonderful partnered with dairy, but equally delicious in a cookie try out your rose water in... milk drinks, ice-cream, custards, rice puddings, yoghurt, turkish delight, marzipan, marshmallows, jam, jelly, French madeleine cookies, as the filling for French macarons, or chocolates. Try a few drops of rose water in your next batch of frosting, icing or fondant and you definetly shouldn't miss a sponge cake filled with berries and rose water whipped cream, finish with a dusting of icing sugar... perfection!!

    Happy Baking :)

    Sunday
    May162010

    MasterChef Love it or Hate it....

    "Passion"; chef George Calombaris from the top rating cooling reality show MasterChef Australia uses the word a lot, and you'll get passionate responses from people about the show, from those queuing outside the newsagency to get the first edition of the magazine to those who shudder at even at the mention of MasterChef. Whether you love it or hate you can't deny MasterChef has Australia cooking, including close friend Cindy & the kids.

    Cindy went out and purchased a blow torch from a kitchenware store on Saturday after seeing the Friday night MasterChef Masterclass episode on Crème Brulee, along with many other Australians according the to stores sales assistant!

    Cindy, teenage son David and 12 year old Emma

    Worth it for just seeing the smile on Emma's face!

    Yum!! 

    Cindy and kids thought the desserts where easy to prepare and delicious, but did they take longer to bake than the MasterChef site suggested. Make your own Crème Brulee from the MasterChef site.

    Happy Baking :)

    Monday
    May102010

    Baby Dots

    'Baby Dots' cupcakes; White Chocolate & strawberry, fondant topped with polka dots. 

    Thank you to Eliza and Dan for yesterdays café/patisserie review!! You're wonderful Eliza (you too Dan)... looking forward to your next review. 

    Got these super sweet, super mini foil chocolate/cupcake cases by Robert Gordon off Daniel yesterday as part of my mothers day gift :) Fabulous for truffles of course, but you can also bake darling small cupcakes in them. 

    How cute are they!! 

    Available in four colour pink, red, green and blue in packs of 18 from kitchen ware stores and online at Kitchen Cupboard (Australia)

    Or perhaps you fancy a fruit chew lollipop cupcake topper

                     Happy Baking :)

    Monday
    May032010

    Matt Makes Cookies

                            choc-chip peanut mini morsel cookies

    Last night larger than life MasterChef food critic Matt Preston sporting his trade mark cravat won the Graham Kennedy award for outstanding new talent at the 52nd annual Logies (Australian TV awards). Congrats to Matt!! 

    Matt Preston with his Logie award

    Maybe your a long time follower of Matt Preston's restaurant & cafe reviews in print or radio, maybe you were first introduced to Matt in 2009 in the blockbuster reality cooking show hit MasterChef or maybe, just maybe you are asking "who in hell is Matt?"

    I could bio Matt Preston now, but there is wikipedia for that so lets get straight down to baking because Matt Preston over the years has also shared his favourite recipes, one of which I'm adapting today to make mini choc peanut chip cookies.

    Matt Preston's 'The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie' was first published in Epicure The Age Newspaper in June 2003, re-tweaked by Matt the recipe appears again as 'My Ultimate Choc-Chip Cookie'  in 2006 in the cookbook 'Epicure Chocolate'. Today is the 2006 recipe, where I have added my own tweaks by reducing the chocolate (sacrilegious, I know) and nut varieties/amounts plus I've made them into tiny "mini morsel cookies". 

    Choc-Chip Peanut Cookie Mini Morsels makes 4 to 5 dozen

    Ingredients
    2 cups dark eating chocolate chopped into small chunks
    2 cups plain flour
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking powder
    250g well-softened unsalted butter (1 cup)
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    2/3 cup granulated white sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract or essence
    2 tbsp water
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts
    Method
    ·  Preheat the oven to 180C (360F). Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
    ·  In a mixer, cream the butter and mix in the three types of sugar. Add the vanilla extract, water and egg. Beat together. Beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Drop small teaspoons of the mixture, well spaced, on to non-stick baking parchment.
    Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until golden.
    original Matt Preston 2003 recipe The Age Newspaper
    Epicure Chocolate cookbook 2006 has the updated recipe
    Retro style nut bags from Bake It Pretty
    Sunday
    Apr252010

    Possum On A Hot Tin Roof Cupcake

    possum on a hot tin roof cupcake, possum & roof made from fondant/modelling paste

    Hmmm, this is my first limbed fondant/modelling paste critter,  the left "arm" kept falling off & when I eventually got it to stick it's too low so he now has that "dislocated shoulder" look about him ;) I am happy with the iron roof which I made by laying a thin sheet of rolled modelling paste over drinking straws laid out slightly apart, I added a few dints and "nail holes" & left it to dry for 24 hours. A coat of silver food paint and you have yourself an iron roof.

    I can hear possums outside now spitting & hissing, romping & playing. They like to jump from a great height on to our roof *BANG* *THUMP* just above our bedroom... usually timing this acrobatic feat for around 3am each morning. 

    Saving grace, they are just so cute!! This YouTube video show mother & baby brushtail possums being feed by some people.

    It's Anzac Day a national day of remembrance in Australia & New Zealand. Hope the weather holds out & there is no rain for all those that are marching & participating in services today.

    Friday
    Apr232010

    Pavlova Cupcakes

    lychee, raspberry & rose syrup pavlova cupcake

    Not much in the way of dessert making on MasterChef as yet, but there was a pavlova courtesy of guest judge Donna Hay. Sooo, to mark the return of MasterChef I thought I'd make mini pavlova's for cupcake toppers.

    Ingredients

    12 baked cupcakes in flavour of choice (I used vanilla buttermilk cupcakes)

    3 egg whites (room temperature)

    165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar (superfine)

    2 tsps cornflour (cornstarch)

    1/2 tsp white vinegar

    1 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

    Decoration Ingredients

    300ml (0.63 pint) of cream, whipped. Flavour the cream with liqueur if desired

    Topping can be anything you like, I used lychees, raspberries & a drizzle of rose syrup.

    Other topping suggestions are; passionfruit & flaked white chocolate, strawberries & kiwi fruit, dark chocolate curls and hazelnuts, crushed peppermint candy, milk chocolate & peppermint liqueur cream, mango/paw paw/banana and coconut, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries & red currants, peaches with raspberry puree drizzle, chocolate dipped strawberries, orange and chocolate, fresh or preserved stone fruits.

    Method

    Preheat oven to 120c/250F (100c/210 fan forced)

    Line a cookie sheet with baking paper, trace 12 6.5cm (2.5in) circles onto the paper & reverse the paper on the tray so the ink won't touch the food.

    In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is fully dissolved between additions... this will take a few minutes.

    It should be looking like this now...glossy and shiny meringue

    Fold in the cornflour, vinegar & vanilla.

    Divide the meringue between the circles drawn on your baking paper.

    Bake for 45 minutes or until cases are firm.

    Cool totally in oven with the door slightly ajar; use the handle of wooden spoon to keep the door ajar.

    Pavlova's will have a white thin crispy shell and soft marshmallow interior

    Just before serving spread a little cream or frosting on the centre of the cupcakes to attach the pavlova. Place pavlovas on the cakes and topping with cream and desired topping.

    You might also be interested in;

                                Violets are blue pavlova  

    Wednesday
    Apr212010

    I'm not in Paris Wombat Cupcake

    I'm not in Paris wombat cupake. Fondant covered vanilla custard cake with fondant Wombat.

    When I'm baking I'm in my own little world, as the kitchen fills with the perfume of French vanilla extract, I imagine I'm in Paris strolling down the grandiose Avenue des Champs-Elysées, gazing at the works of Vermeer & Rembrandt at the Louvre or relishing the last macaron in the Ladurée box. But try as my might sometimes I can't keep Paris in my thoughts over the hissing of the possums or the threat of that great hairy legged spider crawling towards me. My personal battle with Australian wildlife started with....

    Emu; The vegemite sandwich was squeezed between my fingers, I could hear "drop the sandwich", "drop the sandwich" coming from the crowd. But I instead I ran like the wind (well, okay as fast as my chubby legs would carry me) away from the emu pursuing me. My eventual rescue by a ranger and that this happened in an animal sanctuary when I ten years old, was perhaps an early warning sign that "bush animals and I shouldn't mix". 

    Brown snake; teen boyfriend & mate found a dead brown snake (one the world's deadliest snakes) & chased us girls through the wintery bush land. We screamed in a pitch only teenage girls can do & ran back to the car. With the snake as a passenger we returned to teenage boyfriends house where teenage boyfriend and mate decided to empty a large jar of nails and fill it with alcohol to preserve the snake. The boys enjoying the drama were holding the snake by the tail ready to lower the snake head first into the alcohol, with appropriate "oooo" & "yuk" sounds from us girls. It was at this point I learnt that teenage boys could scream in the same pitch as teenage girls when the snake jumped, twirled and twisted free. Thirty minutes later a Ranger rescued us as he captured the snake was quite jolly as he told us "snakes hibernate in winter", that the snake was young but could "still cause a fatal bite". 

    Wombat; Teen boyfriend has been replaced by "the boyfriend". The boyfriend, his estranged father and I set off on a bush walk to water fall at the beginning of one Spring. It wasn't going well as the boyfriend picked up a yabby (freshwater crayfish) to show us and his Dad proceeding to slap it off his hand & then slapping him across the head; I didn't need to be told a yabby wasn't out bush walking, it was the curled up tail that told me it was a scorpion. On we walked with boyfriend and his Dad now not talking to each other, making the next 45 minutes of walking tense & miserable.  Then as we pushed past a bush we saw it, a storybook outcrop of ferns & flowers surrounding a glistening waterfall. We were all smiling & as I sat on the end of a log taking in the natural beauty we heard an ominous rumbling sound, I stood just in time for the wombat to come barrelling out of a log I had been sitting on. Up, up, up, I flew, down, down, down, I went 20 feet from where I started. I lost consciousness for a minute or two only to wake to the boyfriend and his Dad standing over me yelling at each other about whose fault it was. There was a major leech incident after this which included my boyfriend trying to remove leeches from me with a steak knife (I still have the scar on my hand to this day) which I could talk about in more detail, but lets skip to the Kangaroo.

    Kangaroo; Different day, same boyfriend. The boyfriend decided we should go bush, we didn't need camping grounds & amenities we needed to "get back to nature". We drove through bush tracks until we found a small clearing, I needed a toilet which in the bush meant I headed off into the scrub with my roll of loo paper. Squatting with my pants around my ankles I heard a loud coughing sound, scared I turned my head to see the feet of a Kangaroo. The Kangaroo was raised to it's full height, was coughing like it had bronchitis. Terrified and still clutching my toilet paper roll I started to make a low moaning sound to attract my boyfriend for help. The boyfriend came looking for me, saw the Kangaroo, the Kangaroo reared up and was taller than my 6 foot 2 boyfriend. Boyfriend jumped backwards in fright, I lost sight of him when I heard the car starting I thought "oh my god, he is going to drive into the Kangaroo", but no he DROVE off. I was still in a squatting position & my legs were shaking, the Kangaroo stared down at me for a another five long minutes before losing interest and hopping off. Boyfriend did return a few minutes after that & said "it was just instinct to escape" that made him drive off. Did not marry that boyfriend.

    Happy Baking, and may thoughts of Paris fill your day!