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    Entries in baking (62)

    Sunday
    Sep112011

    Blue Heaven, have we grown up?

     

     blue heaven milkshake and raspberry and vanilla macarons 

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    When I was experimenting with fruit loop cupcakes this week I was surprised to hear how many adults still start their day with a bowl of fruit loops! I fell into the other camp of "oh, they so sweet and artificially coloured!" I can't believe I ever ate them".  Ha! This was as I bit into my artifically coloured and very sweet macaron.

    I wondered if any of us really grow up at all? Are macarons the fruit loops for grown ups?

    Whether it's a pink frosted cupcake, purple macaron or that spearmint green ice-cream cone you like so much, chances are it's the artificial colour that attracted you and the sugary sweet taste that soothes your inner child. 

    'Blue Heaven' milkshakes are an Aussie icon, I loved the blue milky frothiness  as a child and had absolutely no idea what flavour they were. Recent taste testing in our house led to guesses of vanilla/strawberry, vanilla/pineapple, berries; no one had the same answer so I rang McKenzie's the manufacturer of the syrup during the week to find out "What flavour is Blue Heaven" and the answer is... Vanilla Raspberry.  

    If you are having a retro moment and are planning on serving milkshakes to adults, try going "small" with the serving size; a stomach full of milk loses some of it's appeal as an adult. Baby food jars are perfectly sized for job, as we have no baby at home I buy the apple puree and use the puree in cake recipes. 

    Glass baby food jars perfect for milkshakes, mini layered desserts right through to baked chocolate custards.

    That's it for today, happy Baking :)

    you might also be interested in Raspberry Marshmallow

    Thursday
    Sep082011

    Apricot and Rosemary Syrup Cupcakes 

          apricot and rosemary syrup cupcakes with mascarpone whipped cream

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    Herbs and flowers make a lovely addition to your dessert baking, the trick when using them is a light hand; whilst too much rose water can leave you with a soapy taste, too much rosemary or sage can leave you with a "oh, wow it's roast chicken!"

    Spring has arrived in Australia and our rosemary plant is sprouting new growth, the soft sprigs are a perfect addition to poached dried apricots. 

    Poached Dried Apricots with Rosemary

    Ingredients

    12 dried apricots halves

    2 small sprigs fresh rosemary

    1 cup water

    1/2 cup sugar

    Method

    Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the apricots and rosemary, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until fruit is soft and plumped. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.  

    Mascarpone whipped cream topping

    Ingredients

    1 cup heavy cream

    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla essence/extract

    1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature

    1/4 cup sifted icing sugar (confectioners sugar/powdered) 

    Method

    Mix mascarpone, vanilla and icing sugar together, in a separate bowl mix cream until soft peaks form. Fold cream into mascarpone mixture. Chill.  

    Cake 

    Use your favourite vanilla cupcake as the base cake or as I've used smaller cases today I've included a basic small quantity "Australian" type cake... it's firmer which suits toppings that are moist. 

    Preheat oven to 180C/350F 

    Line two 12 cup trays with paper liners (the small patty/fairy cake size)

    Ingredients

    125g butter (4.4oz)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2/3 cup (150g) castor sugar (superfine)
    3 eggs
    1½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
    ¼ cup milk (60ml)

    Method

    Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, sifted flour & milk on low speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium & beat for 3 minutes until smooth and pale in colour.

    Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the paper liners. Bake about 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes removing to a wire rack to cool.

    Assemble

    brush syrup over cake top

    Brush tops of cakes with syrup from the poached apricots, top with a spoonful of mascarpone whipped topping and a poached apricot half, drizzle a little extra of the syrup on if desired. Decorate with a small sprig of rosemary.

    Whether it's strawberries and basil, lemon and sage, apple and thyme or apricots and rosemary: enjoy playing with herbs in your desserts, cookies and cupcakes. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    Friday
    Sep022011

    Love Caramel Cupcake

                               love caramel apple spice cupcake

    Missing my Mum who passed away seven years ago this weekend :( 

    Mum loved everything "caramel", one of my first food memories is being allowed to have a piece of Cadbury Caramello chocolate. 

    Stroopwafels the Dutch waffle treats are available in most Australian supermarkets. The thin waffle batter is filled with caramel. They can be quiet firm in texture and Mum like to put them over her cup of steaming coffee to soften the caramel to it's full gooey sticky potential. 

    To make stroopwafel cupcake picks use a small cookie/aspic cutter and cut desired shapes. If it's cold weather (or your stroopwafels are past their prime... but hope it's not that!) it might be necessary to soften each waffle in the microwave on low for a few seconds.

    Thread your shapes onto a toothpick. Pop them into your frosted cupcake.

    Pull out of your cake for a bonus treat or if no one is looking try dipping them in your coffee :)

    Apple Spice Cupcakes

    makes 12 cupcakes

    Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

    12 hole cupcake pan lined with paper liners

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour

    1 1/2 tsp baking powder

    1/2 tsp cinnamon

    1/2 tsp mixed spice (pie spice)

    1 1/4 cups sugar

    1/2 cup butter, room temperature

    2 eggs. room temperature

    1 tsp vanilla extract/essence

    1/2 cup tart apple peeled, cored and cut into small dice

    3/4 cup milk

    Method

    Place flour, baking powder and spices in a small bowl, stir with a fork. 

    In a large bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attached, beat together butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs one at time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternatively *beat in fllour and milk, starting and ending with flour. Stir through apple.

    Divide the batter into the 12 holes of prepared pan. 

    Bake 25 to 29 minutes or until light golden brown and the cupackes spring back when gently touched. 

    Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing cakes to cooling rack to cool. Frost once cooled.

    *when beating in the flour, beat until just incorporated... over beating at this stage develops the gluten leading to a tough cupcake.

     

    Martha Stewarts Caramel Buttercream

    Halloween 2004, October Holiday 2004 

    makes 5 cups

    Optional: I added a four drops of a combination caramel flavour/colouring to recreate the caramel taste and colour my Mum liked.this confectionery flavour/colour from Roberts Confectionary Australia

    I could not think of a better buttercream caramel frosting than Martha Stewarts Caramel Buttercream.

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 6 large egg whites
    • Pinch of salt
    • 450 grams (1 pound-4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • caramel flavour/colour (optional)

    Method

    1. Make caramel: Pour 1/4 cup water into a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming. Let syrup boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is dark amber.

    2. Immediately remove from heat; carefully pour in cream (caramel will bubble vigorously). Stir caramel until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.

    3. Whisk together remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

    4. Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff. Reduce speed to medium low; add butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue whisking until smooth.

    5. Switch to paddle attachment. Add caramel, vanilla and caramel colour/flavour if using; beat on lowest speed until combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Frost cooled cakes; I used a large closed star tip.

      *visit the official Martha Stewart site for another fabulous caramel frosting Martha Stewart's Brown Sugar Buttercream and it is easier to make.

    Remembering you Mum this weekend. 

    xx

    Chocolate more your thing? You might be interested in Bubble Wrap Chocolate

      or perhaps Chocolate Peppermint Twist Brownie Cupcakes

    Monday
    Aug082011

    Inspriration

                                    

                                        cupcake inspiration board

    Where do I get my inspiration from? I get asked that question a lot, and I always looked slightly stunned as I start my reply with "ummmm". I thought I'd share with you how I do actually come up with an idea using an inspiration board as a visual guide... kind of like looking into my brain, lol though my brain is far more "messy" and also includes me telling the Maggie May the pug not to come into the kitchen :) 

    1. I received Riedel "O" series martini glasses as a gift 2. the bubble shape reminded me of Robbie the Robot from the 1950's sci fi movie Forbidden Planet 3. sci fi reminds me of "green", that reminds me of midori 4.Midori liqueur reminds me of a cocktail from home state Melbourne the 'Japanese slipper' comprising of midori, orange liqueur and lemon 5. continuing with the bubble shape I think of first impression silicon drop pearl moulds 6. time to hit the kitchen to come up with a recipe :)

    Do join me on facebook for future behind the scenes stories, plus updates on all blog posts. Don't forget to push that "like" button! :)

    Wednesday
    Feb022011

    100 cupcakes

                            

                                           100 cupcakes

    You may or may not know that I'm only posting sporadically for the first year of my husbands new landscape gardening business. 

    We are still in the set up stage and as you can imagine we are in a swirl of PAPERWORK!!! Sooo I'll be spending my time sorting out a few of the envitable problems that have arisen and won't be blogging for a week.

    But for now it's "Yay!" I've reached "100 cupcakes"!!!

    Good grief there is a few in the group I regret, (lol, take heart fondant modelling skills do improve with each one you do!!) and there is a few I just love.... for a closer look check out my Flickr cupcake photostream.

    Personal highlights of my first 100 cupcakes include being featured on 'Cupcakes Take the Cake' on numerous occasions. I adore 'Cupcakes Take the Cake', each time they have chosen one of my cakes I have been thrilled.

    As featured on Cupcakes Take the Cake:

    Christmas tree Cupcake

    Chocolate Valentine's Cupcake

    Bubble Wrap Chocolate Cupcake Toppers

    I bet you've never seen a cupcake quite like this before: Moose on Mouse Cupcake

    5 extra fabulous cupcakes by The Lone Baker

    Interviewed by the beautiful Hani of Haniela's

    Quoted by the MatadorNetwork the worlds top independent travel magazine Wasabi, Bugs & Musk: 15 Strange Candies from around the world.

    I've also been featured on other fabulous sites including; Party Frosting, Edible Crafts/Craft Gossip, Party Cupcake Ideas, The Cupcake Blog & All Things Cupcake

    Looking forward to cupcake 101 late next week!

    Happy Baking :)

    Saturday
    Jan292011

    Eric the Valentine Emu Cupcake

                                 Eric the Valentine Emu cupcake

    Emu; second largest bird in the world by height, native to Australia. Covered with soft brown feathers, the emu male can reach up to a height of six foot six (201 cm) and has knife like nails. Emu's are curious and nosy animals.

    Valentines Day in Australia is different than in the US, we don't buy make or buy Valentines for all our friends and family. Valentines Day here it's all about your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, lover or significant other; it's a time when men book "that" romantic restaurant, shop for lingerie, chocolates and red roses.

    But I digress, it wouldn't be an "Australian animal" if I hadn't had at least one run in with one, so here goes...

    The picnic grounds were crowded, the giant bird waited until the chubby little blonde girl was about to take the first bite of her Vegemite sandwich before confronting her.

    The emu can't fly but the little girl had the "fight or flight instinct" and she ran. Her Mum was first one to yell "drop the sandwich", followed by a chorus of voices "drop the sandwich!", "drop the sandwich!" Try as she might the little girl couldn't drop the Vegemite sandwich that was now squashed between her clenched fist, she was too busy running. But eventually her legs tired and she stopped, dropped her sandwich that was quickly gulped down by the emu. 

    What followed was reminiscent of a 'Law and Order' episode, you know the bit where they throw in a funny one liner over the corpse of the just murdered body; the chubby little girls parents, Ranger Tom and the Emu stood there laughing (well, the emu wasn't laughing but he might as well have been). Ranger Tom quipped "You're a lucky little girl the emu loves you, they can rip out your guts with those claws"... everyone laughed... it wasn't funny!!! 

    Before you dismiss "emu love", take into account that after the female emu lays her eggs the male takes over hatching and raising the children; leaving the female free to find another male. Something to consider perhaps on Valentines Day when you open the fancy box your husband has given you to discover that "red satin sequinned thong"; just want you always wanted (NOT) when all you actually desired was someone to wash the dishes and mind the kids so you could go to yoga class. 

    Eric being made with various batches of coloured fondant/modelling paste

    Roll the fondant/modelling paste paper thin, I mixed the colours together. 

    Use a small sharp knife to cut feather shapes, attach to your bird with cake glue or water. 

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also like to make a batch of raspberry curd this Valentines Day....

                        Raspberry Curd

    To make simple raspberry curd heart cupcakes use a small heart cutter to cut a heart shape from the centre of your baked cupcake. Remove the heart, fill centre with raspberry curd & clotted or pure cream. Top with your heart cut out & dust with icing sugar.

    Thursday
    Jan202011

    Bundy Banana Grog Cupcake and toffee toppers

                bundy banana grog cupcake

    Grog; refers to a variety of alcoholic beverages. The word originally referred to a drink made with water or "small beer" (a weak beer) and rum, which was introduced into the Royal Navy by British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon on 21 August 1740. Vernon wore a coat of Grogham cloth and was nicknamed "Old Grogham" or "Old Grog". In Australia and New Zealand, the word has come to mean any alcoholic drink. wikipedia

    Bundaberg rum; a dark rum first produced in Australia in 1888 to make use of the left over molasses from processing sugar cane, often just referred to as "Bundy".

    All our minds in Australia have been on the floods that have devastated Queensland, the Bundaberg region has been hit particularly hard, half the millions of dollars of sugar crops have been destroyed. Banana crops are fine but with the other fruit crops that have damaged the demand for bananas will push prices up. 

    Today's cupcakes pay homage to Queensland with banana's, Bundaberg rum and sugar. 

    Use overripe bananas, you know... the ones you swear weren't ripe yesterday but all of a sudden they're black and brown. the riper the banana the more intensely "banana" flavoured your cakes will be

    Bundy Banana Grog Cupcakes

    makes 12 cupcakes (I baked small ones today and made 18, baking time was reduced by 6 minutes)

    Ingredients

    1 1/4       cups plain flour (all purpose)
    1 tsp        baking powder
    Pinch       salt
    1 cup       white sugar
    1/2 cup    vegetable oil
    2             large eggs
    3/4 cup    overripe mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
    2 tbls       Bundaberg rum (dark rum)

    12 cup muffin tin lined with paper cases

    Preheat oven 180c (360F)

    Method
    In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.

    In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth. Add banana, whisking well, whisk in rum. Swap to a wooden spoon and add flour mixture, stir until smooth... take care not to over mix as it will toughen the mix.

              rum will preserve the yellow colour

    Scoop batter into prepared cupcake pan. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 26 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

                 resulting cakes are super moist

            Toffee Nuts and Fruits

    I used 'banana chips', honey dried/baked banana pieces today but any oven roasted nut, freeze dried fruit piece will work. Sugar pieces will last a couple of hours before starting to dissolve. You can also use fresh strawberries or dried apricots, figs etc with spectacular results... however the moisture content means you will have to use the sugar pieces within 30 minutes.

    I didn't want too much of an amber colour today as I wanted the banana chip to shine through, so I removed the toffee from the stove top as soon as I saw the colour starting to change. 

    The bubble in the toffee was caused by my impatience as I started to dip before all the bubbles has subsided ;) You can change the direction of the toffee, create curves etc., by manipulating the direction of the skewer when first dipped.

    This is the bit where I say "it's HOT" so take care and make sure small children and pets are out of the room before you begin.

    Ingredients

    18 banana chips or hazelnuts etc., 

    2 cups sugar

    1/2 cup water

    18 wooden skewers 

    old newspaper to cover your floor

    kitchen sink half filled with ice water

    heavy chopping board or object to way down the end of the skewers

    Method

    Cover your floor area under where you will dip the toffee pieces with newspaper.

    Insert skewers into banana chips.

    Place the sugar and the water in a heavy based medium sized saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring now and continue to cook until the toffee becomes a light amber colour. Remove from heat and dip base of saucepan into the cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for 6 to 8 minutes to cool slightly, then dip a banana chip into the toffee, lift out and secure the end of the skewer under your weight.

     excess toffee will fall onto newspaper covered floor

    Let gravity do the rest, the excess toffee will fall onto your newspaper leaving you with a "toffee tail" attached to your banana chip. Leave a few minutes to set. I dipped the end of the banana chips in tempered dark chocolate to finish.

    Pipe a swirl of your favourite chocolate frosting (spiked with rum of course!) onto your cupcakes and top with toffee banana topper.

    * note is you are using hazelnuts or any hard nut, make a hole with a darning needle and then insert your wooden skewer. 

    Donate to the Queensland governments flood relief appeal

    How to clean your (hopefully not burnt) toffee pot;

        Ooops I burnt the toffee again!

    Wednesday
    Jan192011

    Kangaroo Meat 

    Australian Kangaroo Meat Pie... next time I'll make extra hot food to photograph this was actually "moving" with the tugging of the plate... hungry people are so impatient!!!!!! 

    Quote of week from my husband Mark as he sat down to his kangaroo meat pie... "I love Kangaroo, it's my 7th favourite meat".

    A. who has a "seventh" favourite anything?? Do you open a box of chocolates and point to top right hand corner and say to yourself "there's my seventh favourite caramel fudge".  

    B. If it's your seventh favourite, doesn't that mean you don't like it? Daniel and I both asked this but Mark insisted "he loves Kangaroo" ;)

    Kangaroo meat is low fat & low calorie; because it is extremely lean, Kangaroo is ideally served rare to medium rare when barbecued, pan fried or grilled. The tougher cuts are diced in a casserole. 

    Mark bought kebab Kangaroo meat from the supermarket, kebab meat from Kangaroo should be from the striploin, tenderloin or rump... however the supermarket kangaroo meat was a bit of a mystery and definitely wasn't a prime cut. The resulting barbecued meat had that "elastic" snap of sinew, so the meat was transferred to the kitchen to be slow cooked. 

     

    diced mystery cut Kangaroo meat from the supermarket

    Cooking Kangaroo on the BBQ; Red wine and port pair well with roo meat, try marinading Kangaroo tenderloin for a couple of hours in a 1/2 cup of red wine, fresh lemon thyme, cracked black pepper, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic & one tablespoon of oil. Pre heat your BBQ, sprinkle roo fillets with coarse sea salt (you'll get that yummy salt crust) and cook on a well oiled grill, rare to medium rare. Rest the meat before serving/slicing. 

    Basic Australian Kangaroo Pies

    Australian pies traditionally have a shortcrust base and puff pastry top, I'm using commercial pastry today.

    makes 6 small hand held pies

    Ingredients

    1 kilo (2.2lbs) of kangaroo meat (tail, shank or roasting cuts) cut into bit sized pieces

    2 tablespoons of oil

    1 large onion, 1 carrot and 1 stick of celery all cut into a small dice

    2 cups low salt beef stock

    1 cup of water

    1/4 cup of red wine (I like more wine than this but my hubby doesn't, reduce stock to add more wine)

    1 tablespoon tomato paste

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    good pinch of nutmeg

    2 tablespoons of flour

    salt and black pepper to taste

    3 sheets each of rolled puff pastry and short crust pastry 

    oil 

    6 pie tins

    Method

    Heat the oil in a large pot, brown the meat in two batches, remove the meat into a bowl and set to one side. 

    Add the vegetables to the pot, cook without browning for a few minutes, turn up the heat and add flour & nutmeg, stir for a two to three minutes to cook the flour. 

    Add water, wine, stock, Worcestershire sauce & tomato paste to the pot. Add meat back to the pot. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, remove lid and simmer for another 30-45 minutes to reduce liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Refrigerate cooked filling until needed.

    Pre-heat oven to 200C (180 fan forced) - 400 F (360F with fan)

    Line pie tins with shortcrust pastry, *blind bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Divide meat mixture between the 6 pie shells, top with puff pastry and crimp edges with a fork. Glaze with milk or egg wash. Make a few small slashes in the top of the pastry to let steam escape.

    Bake pies for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool a few minutes in tins before turning out and serving. Cooled pies can be individually wrapped and frozen for one month. 

     * blind bake pie shells by weighing down the raw pastry with beans, rice or baking weights. Non stick paper squares make it easy to remove weights after baking. Store your baked rice or beans in a jar and use again next time you are baking pastry.

    Do try replacing the lamb or beef in your favourite curry recipe with Kangaroo too, it really does make for an excellent curry.

    Kangaroo mince can be used in any of your mince recipes such as lasagne, meat balls or burgers. If your using the meat in burgers it must be cooked thoroughly. 

    For an excellent 'cuts of Kangaroo chart' see Southern Game Meats

    You might also be interested in...

    a review of crocodile and kangaroo pies

    or if it's all too much for you then how about pink frosting...

                                          Frosting

    Back to baking cupcakes now. Oh and for the record Mark's favourite meats are: duck, turkey, chicken, lamb, pork, beef &... kangaroo!

    Happy Baking :)

    Monday
    Jan172011

    Star Wars Cookbooks and Salt and Pepper Squid

    many mini wookie cookies & one mad Star Wars fan

     

    Off the shelf

    baking book reviews

    Bringing you food from a galaxy far, far away today with 'Wookie Cookies and other galactic recipes: A Star Wars Cookbook' and 'The Star Wars Cookbook 2 - Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes' 

    Both these books are loads of fun and make perfect gifts for Star Wars fans from 4 to 40! Both books are hard bound spiral books with laminated pages. 

    spiral bound, the food is photographed with accompanying star wars toy figures

    To you and me this might look like a standard cinnamon choc chip cookie, but Star Wars fans will tell you "NO!!" it's a "WOOKIE COOKIE!!"

    Nearly all the recipes in the book are standard servicable recipes for pasta, soup, brownies, shakes, cookies and the like renamed with a Star Wars theme. There is Darth Maul Dip (stencilled with the enclosed Darth Maul stencil), Anikin's Apple Crisp, Jedi Juice Pops and some even take Star Wars shapes like TIE Fighter Ties. 

    TIE Fighter Ties page 45 'Wookie Cookies and other galactic recipes'

    book one comes with metallic stickers to label your food gifts

    book two comes with a Darth Maul hard plastic stencil

    Of course you will now need something to eat your Star Wars cooking with, apparently Star Wars chopsticks, (oops sorry that should be "chop saber's") can be used with everything including cookies ;)

    the tops of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker chopsticks

    Red Darth Vader blue Luke Skywalker Chop Saber's (chopsticks) also available in Darth Maul, Yoda and Mace Windu from Think Geek. 

    According to my step-son Dan (pictured at top) these cookbooks are a "must have" for any Star Wars fan... so are the chopsticks, and lets face it I think we could throw any Stars Wars merchandise here and a Star Wars fan is going to list it as a "must have" ;)

    Books from Amazon...

     

    And now on to the totally unrelated post of Salt and Pepper Squid..... 


                                     
      salt and pepper squid

     

    Well, there is was an upside to blackouts we have been experiencing with the storms, I had to cook up what was in the freezer over the weekend so we got to eat lots of delicious foods!! Of course we will all have to fast for 4 days to "pay for" the over indulgence, but hey we got to eat salt and pepper squid!  

    There is many, many versions of salt and pepper squid available... this is ours;

    I had squid tubes in the freezer, but fresh is always better so if you can get your hands on fresh squid use that instead. I'm using black pepper and Chinese five spice instead of Sichuan peppercorns. 

    Ingredients

    5 small or 3 three large squid tubes

    1 litre (4 cups) of vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil for it's high smoke point and mild flavour)

    1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

    1 tsp sea salt

    1 tsp Chinese five spice 

    1/4 cup flour 

    Optional; small red chilli, spring onions and shao xing wine for finishing

    Method

    In a medium bowl whisk flour, salt, pepper and Chinese five spice together and set to one side.

    Pat your squid dry with paper towel.

    split squid tube length ways and then flip over

    With a sharp knife split your tubes length ways, flip the pieces over so the interior of the squid piece is facing you. Score diagonally, turn the squid and score again to create diamonds. 

    Heat your oil to 180c (360F) 

    Toss your squid in the seasoned flour making sure all pieces are coated. 

    Dry fry in batches until golden brown... drain on paper towel. 

    Serve with lemon wedges or sweet chilli sauce.

    Optional; heat one tsp of oil in a small pan, add chopped chilli and sliced spring onion plus two tsps of Shao Xing wine. Sprinkle dressing over squid just before serving. Note the Shao Xing wine is salty, you may reduce salt in main recipe to 1/2 tsp if preferred. 

    Variations; omit the black pepper & Chinese five spice and replace with 1 tsp each of ground black and white Sichuan peppercorns. Flour can replaced with corn-flour (corn starch) or mix of rice flour/corn flour for a gluten free salt and pepper squid.               

    May the force always be with your baking :)

    Wednesday
    Jan122011

    Flavoured tea, mini bottles, upcoming baking books

                                           perfect tea Christmas gift

    Bits and Bobs

    small, remnant articles and things- the same as 'odds and ends'.

    Today's post is bits and bobs, items that didn't "fit" with other posts.

     

    My step son Dan gave these to me for Christmas

    Flavoured tea or coffee

    Starting with a seriously gorgeous box of assorted tea bags from T2. Flavoured teas and coffees are brilliant for flavouring your cupcakes, cookies and frostings. Take for example 'Gushing Geisha' from T2; green tea with freeze dried strawberry pieces... now that definitely has the makings of a great cupcake or butter cookie. How about 'French Earl Grey' with hibiscus flowers, sunflowers, rose petals & mallow flowers for your next batch of macarons? Coffee drinkers, buy that extra cup of caramel vanilla creme latte to take home and you'll be flavouring up a cupcake batter or silky frosting in no time and don't forget those bottles of coffee flavouring syrups in your pantry double as flavouring for all your sweet baking. 

    Mini liqueur bottles

    Sometimes you do want to make that dozen cupcakes for a thank you gift, know that the recipient loves a certain liqueur but don't won't the expense of buying a whole bottle or perhaps you're delveloping a recipe and wondering if "Midori" would work? Consider liqueur miniatures, they contain just enough liqueur to flavour a cupcake batter and frosting for a fraction of the cost and you won't have that left over liqueur bottle gathering dust in your cabinet. 

    Watch out for

     

    There are two highlights in the upcoming baking book releases so far this year...

    Firstly, Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts: 150 Recipes for Old-Fashioned and Modern Favorites[Paperback] You know I love "Martha" so I've pre-ordered this title already!! From the cover pic it's another Martha book in the series that includes the excellent 'Martha Stewart's Cupcakes' and 'Martha Stewart Cookies'. Release date March 22nd, 2011. 

    Secondly, one from the beautiful and talented Australian food blogger Lorraine Elliot of 'Not Quiet Nigella' 

    Expect a 'Julie & Julia' type memoir with all new recipes too. I'm so looking forward to reading the account of Ms. Elliot's life so far, her adventures in blogging and trying out the recipes! Release date mid 2011.

    You might also be interested in;

    Raspberry Marshmallow with orange liqueur.