Monday, December 23, 2013

305/984 - Fast chocolate sauce

Last night's special little guest requested a banana split for dessert. Of course banana splits can take many forms and this one came complete with;
Banana (of course!)
French vanilla ice-cream (sadly not home-made)
Pink and white marshmallows
Chopped nuts
Salted caramel (my special secret recipe which I will share if pushed) 
Stephanie's fast chocolate sauce

Sadly I had to miss out on this special treat as I am recovering from a particularly traumatic root canal and am nervous to eat anything that doesn't dissolve in my mouth. 

The fast chocolate sauce really was that; you throw the ingredients into a saucepan and heat. That's it! I didn't even need to grate the chocolate as I buy bittersweet chocolate in bud form which melted in no time. 

The pièce de résistance was my lovely home-made salted caramel and there were squeaks of delight as the kids discovered it draped over their bananas. 

There it was. Dessert made in five minutes...and eaten in about three.

304/984 - Bocconcini, tomato and basil salad

When our little guest requested salad to go with dinner I felt fairly comfortable that the range of options available to me were quite broad. My boys LOVE bocconcini and the herb garden is going bananas at the moment so this salad, found in the basil chapter, ticked a couple of important boxes for me. 

This is a tasty and wonderfully healthy salad. The recipe includes a fair bit of olive oil which can be easily reduced if required (I didn't). I enjoyed using a mixture of tomatoes in my version which kept the taste interesting and also made the plate look very pretty, which is important!

This is a salad that is very easy to put together and according to my family and one special little guest, definitely a winner. 

Yet another photo of my beautiful
lasagna, loosely based on the one found
in The Cook's Companion. It's the
home-made pasta (and the bacon) that
makes it good. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

303/984 - Garlic butter

We have all been dying for it to be holiday time and I promised Jules he could have a friend over to stay once we had all had a moment to catch our breath after a fabulous, but quite busy year. Tonight was the night of the play date and I absolutely loved the menu selected by our little guest; 
garlic bread
banana split.
Not bad choices for a 10 year old! 

Of course I took the opportunity to make this a Stephanie based menu and was pleased to find a garlic butter recipe ready and waiting to be road tested. I started to pound this in the mortar and pestle but very quickly realised that the thermomix would do a much better job. 

I would have loved to have made the baguette myself but on this occasion I thought my energy was best spent focusing on the lasagne which always takes a bit of time to put together. 

The garlic bread was really lovely, only 12 minutes in the oven and the crust was crunchy and the butter beautifully melted. I halved the recipe which was exactly the amount I needed for one baguette. 

We may all be stinky tomorrow but it was absolutely worth it! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

302/984 - Bread sauce to serve with roast chicken

I have always been fascinated by the sound of this recipe, having never before eaten a sauce containing bread. I was not alone it seems; a couple of days after I made this I heard two radio presenters discussing the fact that they had not heard of it before and wondering how it was made.

We had another Yapunyah chicken to roast and so I made this beautiful sauce to serve with it (as per the recipe title!) It was very easy to make, simmering milk with a load of beautiful spices (including mace which I had not used before), a bay leaf and a shallot and then adding freshly made bread crumbs to soak up the liquid. The cream added at the end of course made this even more delicious! 

We had some left over sauce (it makes quite a lot!) and so the next night I fried up onion and garlic and then added leftover chicken, broccoli and capsicum. In went the rest of the bread sauce and a dash of extra cream to make a lovely pasta sauce for an easy dinner.

Wonderful leftovers!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

301/984 - Passionfruit shortbread biscuits

I joined the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap for the second time this year, which is an American run event run by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. Each cookie swap participant is provided with three sets of contact details and commits to baking three dozen biscuits to distribute. On the 11th December, participating bloggers around the world will be posting their cookie recipes and a round up of all pictures and blog posts will be posted on the websites of the administrators mentioned above. The event is a fundraiser for Cookies for kids cancer which means that the event is great fun and also doing great things!

My boys were less than thrilled to see my lovely spotty biscuits laid out, only to be told that they were about to be shipped away. However disappointment turned to glee as my three gorgeous packages arrived! 
From Giulia at Love at Every Bite
I have been lucky twice now, in both years receiving the most beautiful biscuits and also some lovely notes and messages too. The first biscuits I received were from the lovely Giulia from Love at Every Bite. There were two types of biscuits in the beautiful Christmas tin and the kids loved them both. I will definitely be heading to the websites of these lovely ladies to get the recipes and start replicating! 

The Kitchen & the Camera
Alicia from The Kitchen and the Camera sent some amazing shortbread which were so good I will not share how many of these I ate! And lastly, I received a beautiful Christmas case filled with individually wrapped gingerbread men, ladies, reindeer and candy canes from Traci at Cookie Queen Kitsch'n. I have saved a couple of these to share with my nieces and nephew on Christmas day because they were too cute to gobble up all at once!   
Cookie Queen Kitsch'n
The biscuits I decided to send this year were Stephanie's passionfruit shortbread biscuits. My tip for participants of the swap is to always make at least 37 so you can taste one before you send them! The recipe can be found in the traditional hard copy of The Cook's Companion or indeed in the recently launched Cook's Companion app

The only change I made was to halve the amount of icing. I have listed the full amount below just in case I am in the minority and people prefer a generous amount of icing!

Passionfruit Shortbread Biscuits
180g softened butter
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2/3 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of 3 passionfruit
100g cornflour, sifted
180g self-raising flour, sifted
50g butter
1 cup pure icing sugar
pulp of 2 passionfruit
  1. Cream butter, zest and icing sugar
  2. Mix in passionfruit pulp, cornflour and flour
  3. Chill for 20 minutes
  4. Preheat oven to 220°C (430°F)
  5. Pipe rounds or fingers of batter onto trays lined with baking paper (or make balls and flatten them as I did!)
  6. Bake until golden brown, approximately 5-8 minutes
  7. Cool on a wire rack before icing
  8. Melt butter and put icing sugar into a small bowl
  9. Add pulp to melted butter then stir into icing sugar
  10. Beat hard for 1-2 minutes over hot water until icing is really shiny.
  11. Dip or ice biscuits and dry on a wire rack. There will be less drips if you choose to halve the icing mixture as I did. 
And there we have it! Another completely enjoyable cookie swap done and dusted. Thanks again to Giulia, Alicia and Traci.

I am looking forward to next year already!