Monday, August 18, 2014

Strawberry and Mascarpone Swiss Roll

This weekend I did something I have not done in a very long time.

I spent the day with my Mum and Dad.

Just the three of us.

Originally we had a day planned for the four of us, but at the last minute Mr B had to go to work. Whilst we were all disappointed that he wouldn't be there, part of me was selfishly pleased to have my Mum and Dad to myself for the day, especially seeing as in a few weeks time chances are that it won't happen again for a very long time.

To start the day off Mum and I had booked in for a bit of pampering. I enjoyed my first pregnancy massage  whilst Mum experienced (and enjoyed!) her first acupuncture session. Meanwhile, Dad waited patiently in the car park......

Luckily my appointment finished early so Dad and I went to suss out a local health food shop and stock up on muesli. I love a good bowl of muesli for breakfast but am fairly fussy on what it has in it so I find the best option is to make my own. Currently my favourite combination is banana chips, raisins, dried cranberries, coconut flakes, almond slivers, wheat flakes and bran straws  - drowned in milk and topped with a big dollop of yoghurt it makes the perfect breakfast (and is also pretty damn good eaten straight from the container....)

By the time Mum was out of her appointment we were all starving and decided to head up to the Mt Nelson Signal Station to enjoy some of their famous lemonade scones, a hot cup of tea, some crispy hash browns and soak up the incredible view. The scones were fresh out of the oven, piping hot and MASSIVE. They were also absolutely amazing with some home made raspberry jam and whipped cream. Now I know you're thinking 'who the hell has scones, tea and hash browns??' but this place also does the crispiest hash browns and we were torn between them and the scones....so we each got our plate of scones with a hash brown on the side and the waitress only looked at us like we were a tiny bit odd.....

With our bellies full we were seriously considering a nap but instead decided to hit the shops. Four hours later we had been to a ridiculous number of shops, I had bath bomb in my hair and up my nose (very long story....), I had shopping bags full of goodies to take home, the three of us attended our first baby shop together and Mum and Dad left with a ridiculously long list of things they just 'had' to buy for bub. We had all achieved things on our to-do lists to the point where we had crossed off things we didn't even know we had to do but the best part was I can't think of a time during the day when we weren't laughing.

By the time Mum and Dad dropped me off at home we were all exhausted and I was super grateful to see Mr B and tell him all about our day, have a hot cup of tea and curl up on the couch for a snooze.

I really could not have asked for a better day with better people.


This recipe is actually from our 4th birthday in July. Each year for our blog birthday cake I try and tackle something new that I haven't done before so when I tried to weasle my way out of making a swiss roll all on my own, Mr B put his foot down and pretty much told me to harden up. Fully understanding that I was not getting out of this easily I decided to bite the bullet. I mean how hard could it be?

I was really worried about the roll cracking when I rolled it up and was very surprised at just how easy it was to do. The finished product was super yummy and visually very specky - no cracks in sight!

Strawberry and Mascarpone Swiss Roll - Serves 6-8

3/4 cup plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
4 eggs separated, at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
250g mascarpone cheese (you can buy or make your own like I did)
2 tbspns icing sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla essence extra
250g strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
2 tbspns caster sugar
2 tbspns orange juice

Pre-heat oven to 190C and line a 15.5 x 10.5 inch swiss roll pan with baking paper, allowing it to hang over the sides.

Place 2/3 of the strawberries in a blender with 2 tbspns caster sugar and blend well. Transfer to a bowl and add the orange juice and remaining strawberries. Place in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour, however the flavour definitely gets better the longer you leave them.

In a bowl combine the mascarpone with 2 tbspns icing sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla essence. Place in the fridge until required.

Sift the plain flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form - this should take 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in 1/3 cup of the caster sugar and continue to beat at high speed until mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form - this should take about 2-3 minutes but the time will vary depending on the speed of you mixer. Set aside.

Using clean beaters and a clean bowl, beat the egg yolks on high speed until they are thick and lemon yellow in colour - this will take about 5 minutes. Slowly add in 1/2 cup of caster sugar and 1/2 tspn of vanilla essence. Continue beating on high speed until ribbons form on the egg mixture when it drips back into the bowl.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg yolks and gently spoon over the beaten egg whites. Gently fold the mixture until combined and evenly coloured.

Spread batter into prepared pan and level. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.

While the cake is baking, sprinkle a clean kitchen towel with 1/3 cup icing sugar.

Immediately invert the hot cake onto the kitchen towel and gently remove the baking paper. Cut off any crispy edges and carefully roll up the cake and towel from the short end. (I actually rolled ours from the long end, it doesn't really matter which end you roll from!)

Allow the cake to cool completely then carefully unroll and spread with the mascarpone all the way to the edges. Top with 3/4 of the strawberry sauce, reserving the rest for decorating.

Carefully roll the cake back up as tightly as you can without splitting it. Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce and dusted with icing sugar.


Enjoy!

Mrs B x

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Macarons with Lemon and White Chocolate Ganache Filling

A few weeks ago Mr B and I were sent a packet of passionfruit flavoured macaron mix to try.

Macarons have been on my 'must bake' list for a long time but to be honest I've been avoiding them - for a cute little snack they are very intimidating!

Anyway I thought seeing as we had now been given this mix to try that was as good a place to start as any and on the upside, if something went wrong, we hadn't lost anything.

As anticipated, something went wrong.

I'm not sure what but I don't think I mixed the egg whites and the almond meal enough because I ended up with these lumpy flat horrible little macarons with a very artificial passionfruit flavour.

Now when I said earlier that if they went wrong it would be OK because we hadn't lost anything? Well that's not exactly how it worked out because by now I was hooked. I knew what I had done wrong and damn it I was going to make macarons. So at 6pm on a cold wintery Sunday night I dragged Mr B to the supermarket in search of almond meal - that's right, we were attempting another batch and we were making these babies from scratch.

And do you know what?

Not only did they work out perfectly but they were ah-mazing!

Reason no. 5679 why you should always make things yourself instead of using a packet mix!


Macarons with Lemon and White Chocolate Ganache Filling 

4 large egg whites (or 5 small) 140g
1/3 cup or 70g caster sugar
1 1/2 cups or 230g pure icing sugar
1 cup or 120g almond meal
2g salt (tiny pinch)
gel food colouring (optional)

Preheat the oven to 150C

Place egg whites and caster sugar in a bowl and mix with electric mixer until stiff enough to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, continue to whip for 1-2 more minutes.  How long this takes will depend on you mixer.  If you are using gel or powdered food colouring add now and continue to mix for a further 20 seconds.

Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve. Fold into the egg white mixture. It should take roughly 30-50 folds using a rubber spatula.  The mixture should be smooth and pipeable - not runny. Over-mix and your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under mix and they will not be smooth on top.

Pipe onto trays lined with baking paper, rap trays on the bench firmly (this prevents cracking) and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check if one comes off the tray fairly cleanly, if not bake for a little longer (make sure you are using NON-stick baking paper or they will stick).

Once your macarons have cooled, arrange them into even sized pairs. Top one half of each pair with roughly 1 tspn of your chosen filling and sandwich together. To fill your macarons you can use jam and cream, buttercream, ganache, lemon curd, the possibilities are endless!

Ours kept in an airtight container in the cupboard for 2-3 weeks.

Lemon and White Chocolate Ganache 
1/4 cup thickened cream
150g white chocolate chopped coarsely
1/4 cup lemon juice

Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until completely smooth.

Add lemon juice to taste (you want to be able to taste the lemon, don’t let the chocolate be overpowering).

Place in the fridge for roughly an hour or until cool and spreadable.

Enjoy!

Mrs B xx

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Crispiest Chicken Ever!

More often than not I find myself so preoccupied with cooking meals that are new and exciting, I forget about the tried and true classics.

Every now and then Mr B has to remind me that there is nothing wrong with dishing up meat and 3 veg for dinner and I have to say it usually takes me until I'm sitting down enjoying the meal to agree with him.

I don't know why there is such a stigma attached to the humble meat and 3 veg, I mean more often than not it's simple to throw together, requires little preparation and is versatile in terms of allowing you the freedom to change the meat or the vegies to suit a variety of budgets and tastes. I'm sure I say this every time we have it (and then promptly forget!) but I really do need to remember to cook this more often.

Recently, after being told by my Dad that it would result in the 'crispiest chicken ever', Mr B whipped up some chicken schnitzels for dinner, but instead of using our go-to panko breadcrumbs, he used crushed up cornflakes. I have always been a bit hesitant about the whole using crushed up breakfast cereal to coat my dinner side of things, but after trying these schnitzels I am absolutely 100% converted. Not only are these schnitzels oven baked but they really were super crispy and tasty!


Crispy Baked Chicken Schnitzel - Serves 2

2 x large chicken breasts
1/2 cup plain flour
1 egg
1.5 - 2 cups crushed corn flakes
Seasoning of choice (optional - we added a 20g pkt of roast chicken seasoning which was lemon, roast garlic and onion flavoured)

Use the palm of your hand to push your chicken breast out to a nice thin schnitzel. (You can pound it with a meat mallet, but I find this way gives it the end result a better texture).

Combine the cornflakes with the seasoning and place on a plate.

Whisk egg in a small bowl.

Place flour on a plate.

Coat 1 piece of chicken in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into the egg and then coat in the cornflake mixture. Refrigerate for 20-30 mins.

(Meanwhile, chuck some veggies on the boil )

Place the chicken on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook for 20-25 mins, turning halfway through or until golden.

Serve with steamed or boiled vegetables and enjoy!

Mrs B xx

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Blueberry Shortcake

As our due date gets closer, conversations at work often turn to baby showers.

Initially I was adamant that a baby shower was not for me, however it soon became apparent that this was a non-negotiable part of being pregnant. Who'd have thought!?

My ideal baby shower is pretty simple really, a relaxing afternoon filled with friends, laughter and a never ending supply of tea....oh and some cake wouldn't go astray either.

This Blueberry Shortcake,which my Mum whipped up for dessert the other night, would be perfect for a girly afternoon tea, high tea, bridal shower, baby shower or anything really! The lemon zest and the blueberries are a match made in heaven and from there you just need a fresh pot of tea, some thick dollop cream, good friends to share it with and you're set!

And the best thing? It's made in the food processor, no melting, no mixing, no multiple bowls, jugs and other random items clogging up your bench (and your sink!) - just the way I like it!


Blueberry Shortcake - Serves 6-8

100g butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 lemons, zested
1 cup almond meal
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
Thickened cream to serve

Pre-heat oven to 150C and grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

Use a food processor to combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and creamy. Add the almond meal, flour and baking powder and pulse until combined.

Add the eggs and vanilla to the mixture and process until combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and top with the frozen blueberries.

Bake for 30-40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cook slightly before removing from the tin. Serve warm with a dollop of thick cream.


Enjoy!

Mrs B xx

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Homemade Pasties

Recently I had a craving for pasties. Not just any pasties but THE pasties I remembered from my childhood. The ones Mum and Dad would dish up with a side of chips and sauce for dinner a couple of times a year.

Yes, they came out of a box.

Yes, they were vegetarian.

And no, I don't know why I remembered them all of a sudden but once I did I had to have them.

And as is usually the case, you can't buy the ones from my childhood any more which left me with no option but to make my own.....and for the sake of Mr B, I added a little bit of mince.

We got a whopping 24 pasties out of this recipe which is great, it means for all of about an hour in the kitchen, I had dinner sorted for that night, plus enough for 3 more dinners to go in the freezer. We have already demolished this batch but I'm thinking these will be great to make right before bub arrives for some easy dinners when we get home from the hospital.


Pasties - Makes 24

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled and sliced
350g beef mince
1/2 cup corn
1 tbspn worcestershire suace
1 tbspn thyme
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tspn curry powder
6 x puff pastry sheets
1 egg, lightly beaten

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Process the potato, carrot, onion and turnip using a food processor.

In a bowl combine the mince, vegetables, corn, worcestershire, thyme and curry powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut each pastry sheet into 4 x rounds (12 - 15cm).

Place a tbspn of mixture into the centre of each round. Lift the two sides of the circle together over the filling and pinch together to make a frill.

Place on a greased baking tray and brush with beaten egg. Repeat with remaining pastry, filling and egg.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 mins or until golden.

To re-heat frozen pasties, place in the fridge overnight to thaw. Pre-heat oven to 175C and cook for 20 mins or until hot and crispy. For the sake of your crispy pastry do not, I repeat do not, re-heat in the microwave.


And Mr B used some of the pastry scraps to make these little jam filled hearts for dessert - so yummy with cream and ice cream!

Enjoy!

Mrs B xx

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

On a cold wintery night Mr B and I love indulging in a big bowl of hot, hearty soup served with fresh home made buttery bread.

We have a few tried and true favourites like Mum's Pumpkin Soup, our Minestrone with Tortellini, our Roasted Tomato and Lentil Soup and Mr B has a weird thing for Pea and Ham Soup (despite being a staunch pea-hater) but I'm yet to jump on the band wagon with that one.

Anyway, recently whilst having my usual struggle with what to cook for dinner, Mr B suggested some sort of soup served in a cob loaf. I don't know about you but to me that just said chowder - which I thought was pretty impressive given I had never eaten, let alone cooked a chowder before.....

After a bit of research, the combination of a number of recipes and a fair amount of 'winging it' we had a huge pot of Cheesy Vegetable Chowder on the stove that is ridiculously easy and delicious not to mention light yet hearty! We have tried this soup both in a cob loaf and in a regular old bowl and I have to say it is pretty spectacular regardless of what you're eating it out of.


Cheesy Vegetable Chowder - Serves 4

2 tbspns butter
1 x onion diced
1 x leek, trimmed and diced
1 x zucchini diced
1 x carrot diced
125g tin of corn kernels
3 sticks of celery diced
1 x head of broccoli diced
1 tbspn crushed garlic
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tbspn plain flour
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups grated cheese

Melt the butter in a large soup pot.

Add onions, carrots, leek and celery and saute over medium heat until tender.

Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes.

Add stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender.

Mix flour with water, add, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened.

Add milk and broccoli, zucchini and corn and cook until vegetables are just tender and soup is heated through.  Stir in cheese, allow to melt, and serve with (or in!) crusty bread.

To serve this soup in a cob loaf, simply pre-heat oven to 175C. Cut a thin slice from the top of a large round cob loaf and hollow out, reserving the pieces you pull out for all important dipping later on! Place the cob loaf (and lid) on a baking tray and place in the oven for 20-30 mins or until bread is cooked to your liking. Fill with soup and serve surrounded by the reserved bread pieces.


Enjoy!

Mrs B xx

Monday, July 14, 2014

Roast Vegetable and Lamb Pasta (or Rice!)

So I had today off work to go and have a Glucose Challenge Test for bub. This meant fasting overnight and getting to pathology bright and early this morning where I rested for 30 mins, had a blood test, had to drink 300ml of glucose water in 5 minutes, wait an hour, have another blood test, wait another hour, have another blood test.....

Wow.

Chugging down the super sweet drink first thing this morning was just peachy, not to mention the whole 3 blood tests in one morning thing!

Anyway, initially I had thought, cool, get the tests out of the way in the morning, spend the rest of the day a) eating, b) getting through my to-do list of things to buy for bub and trying to make a head start on Fathers Day / Birthday / Christmas shopping for the family while I can and c) sitting down and plodding my way through the massive online application for government paid parental leave.....

Good plan yes?

Uh.....no. I have no idea where the day went but achievement levels were not high. Well in the end they sort of were, but I seemed to be rushing through everything in the half hour after Mr B got home rather than cruising through them while he was at work.

Not to mention that when Mr B arrived home from work he found me sitting in the dark, a million windows open on the laptop, an empty plate and cup discarded on the couch next to me, that crazed look in my eyes and when he asked if I would like a cup of tea my response was screeching something about 'yes but right now I just have to get things done!!!'

Yep, no crazy pregnant lady here at all.

Days like this I am glad for leftovers and easy meals.

This Roast Vegetable and Lamb dish is such an easy meal to throw together plus once you have made the base mixture you can serve it over pasta, rice or even a jacket potato to mix it up abit!


Roast Vegetable and Lamb Pasta (or Rice) - Serves 4

200g cherry tomatoes
1 x zucchini, thinly sliced
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1 x capsicum, thinly sliced
2 x sticks celery, thinly sliced
1 x red onion, diced
2 tbspns olive oil
350g lamb mince
1 tspn Allspice
1 tbspn crushed garlic
Salt and Pepper
Pasta or Rice to serve

Pre-heat oven to 180C.

In an ovenproof dish, combine 1 tbspn of the oil, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, capsicum, celery and onion. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Place in the oven and roast for 20 mins or until tomatoes are blistered.

Meanwhile, in a fry pan over medium-high heat add the remaining oil and mince and cook for 5-7 mins or until mince is browned. Add the allspice and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 2-3 mins.

Add the roasted vegetables to the fry pan and mix well, cooking for 3-5 mins.

Serve over pasta, rice or jacket potatoes.

Enjoy!

Mrs B xx

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