Sunday, February 23, 2014

Zucchini and Carrot Cake

This is the time of year when gardener's around the country find their veggie patches overrun with an abundance of zucchini.

Like most people they will whip up the usual zucchini slice, possibly some zucchini pancakes and even some zucchini pickles.

They will BBQ it, fry it and bake it.

And yet they won't have even made a dent in their supply.

That is the situation my Mum and Dad are faced with at the moment. They are fortunate enough that their veggie patch, and especially their zucchini crop, is doing fantastically well, but short of doing sneaky midnight zucchini drops on their neighbours doorsteps, they are fast running out of things to do with it.

That was until Mum rediscovered her Zucchini and Carrot Cake recipe. That first mouthful of warm, fresh from the oven cake instantly took me back to eating it when I was younger. This is a lovely moist cake which makes it suitable for morning or afternoon teas, lunch boxes or even dessert! Plus it's a great way to use up any extra veggies and even sneak them past the kids!

Zucchini and Carrot Cake

1 cup lightly packed grated carrot
1 cup lightly packed grated zucchini
2 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1 tspn bicarb soda
1/2 tspn mixed spice
Pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 350C

Combine all ingredients except the carrot and zucchini. Mix until smooth.

Add the carrot and zucchini and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a greased 8" ring tin. Bake for 40-45 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before removing.

This is delicious served cold and even better served warm for dessert drizzled with cream!


Mrs B xx

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Black Forest Ripple Cake

Are you Ripple Cake-d out yet?

I know. Mr B and I thought we were too.

But Mum and Dad had other ideas.

They had one more trick up their sleeve.

A Black Forest Ripple Cake.....

.....and as it turns out we weren't as over it as we thought because we demolished it in record time.

It was awesome and so so simple - take one chocolate ripple cake, top with cherries and ta-da!

Ok so there is a teeny tiny bit more involved in it then that, but you get the picture right?!

Black Forest Ripple Cake - Serves 6-8

600ml thickened cream
1/3 cup drinking chocolate
1 pkt Arnotts Chocolate Ripple Biscuits
415g stoneless black cherries in syrup, drained
Grated chocolate (or a crushed up Flake bar) to serve

Place the cream and drinking chocolate in a bowl and beat until the mixture is thick.

Take your serving plate and spread 1-2 tbspns of the cream mixture in a log shape.  Use half of the remaining cream to sandwich the biscuits together and stand upright on the tray to form a log shape. 

Spread the remaining cream mixture over the entire surface of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve topped with cherries and sprinkled with grated chocolate.  Cut on an angle to serve.


Mrs B xx

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Homemade Egg Noodles with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

Over the last 12 months, Mr B and I have been getting right into the whole 'why buy it if you can make it' thing and I have to say we are really enjoying it!

Yes it can be a little more time consuming, but the end result is always so much better and the satisfaction you get from knowing you made it yourself is pretty good too.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't completely turned into Martha Stewart and when I'm pushed for time I do still grab the pre-made stuff, but when I've got some extra time up my sleeve, I will always go for home made over store bought.

Making my own pasta is something I have always wanted to try but despite my home made crusade, I still saw this as a bit of a tall order, especially considering I don't have a pasta machine.

That was until I read a recipe in one of my cookbooks for egg noodles and the recipe sounded so simple that I really had nothing to lose by trying it. Plus the recipe used up the majority of the egg yolks I had leftover from making the Chocolate and Summer Berry Pavlova so it was win-win.

One thing I didn't realise going into this whole pasta making experience was just how much the noodles would expand during cooking. We rolled the dough out really thin, or so we thought, but as soon as they went into the boiling water they just puffed up, so this meant we had to cook them for a bit longer than we planned and we ended up with some fairly chunky, but still delicious, noodles. Next time I think we would roll them out as thin as we possibly could (or invest in that pasta machine!!).

The thing I loved about this recipe though was that the noodles and the tomato and basil sauce were just bursting with fresh home made flavours, that is something you can't buy on a supermarket shelf.

Egg Noodles with Tomato, Basil and Cheese - Serves 4

300g (2 cups) plain flour
1 tspn salt
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
8 ripe roma tomatoes
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 tspns brown sugar
1 tspn red wine vinegar
1 handful of roughly torn fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper
shaved parmesan and crusty bread to serve

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a seperate bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the flour mixture and then mix quickly to combine. You could also do this step in a food processor.

Knead for 3 minutes or until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in lightly greased cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. I made mine the day before and left it in the fridge overnight which is also fine.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 4mm thick then fold over four times to create layers in your noodles. Roll the dough out again until it is 1 - 2mm thick. Then cut into roughly 4mm wide strips.

Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan over medium high heat, add the oil and the tomatoes and cook for 5-7 mins or until softened. Mix in the sugar and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to simmer for 7-10 mins. Just prior to serving, stir through the basil leaves.

Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water for 5-7 minutes (depending on the thickness of your noodles) until al dente. Drain well and divide between 4 bowls. Top with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan. Serve with crusty bread.


Mrs B xx

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spiced BBQ'd Lamb Chops

Like most people, when the sun is shining Mr B and I love having a BBQ dinner.

But sometimes we get stuck in a BBQ rut.

Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of our typical hash brown, onion, pineapple ring, egg and burger BBQ but sometimes it's nice to step outside the box and do something different.

Whilst flicking through Fast Eddy's cookbook The Food Clock a few weeks ago, I found just the thing! These Spiced BBQ'd Lamb Chops were Mr B all over......

....except for the first time I made them and I put a whole tablespoon of cinnamon in the spice rub and Mr B told me they were like eating a lamb donut......

But the second time I made them, I paid super careful attention to my measuring and they were a real hit!

Which is just as well really because I don't think I could have handled another evening of watching Mr B try and dutifully chew his way through a plate of 'lamb donuts'.....

Spiced BBQ'd Lamb Chops - Serves 2
4 lamb leg chops
1/4 tspn cinnamon
1/3 tspn smoked paprika
1/3 tspn cumin
1/3 tspn tumeric
1/3 tspn salt

Combine the cinnamon, paprika, cumin, tumeric and salt. Rub the mixture into the lamb chops.

Cook the lamb chops on a BBQ or grill plate for 3-4 mins on each side or until cooked to your liking.

We served ours with corn cobs drizzled with lime juice and an easy fry up of zucchini, tomato and onion.

And the best thing is it can all be cooked outside on the BBQ!

See even though I personally don't eat lamb chops I'm still a big fan of anything that involves the BBQ because that means Mr B cooks outside whilst I pretend I'm doing the washing up or something when I'm actually laying on the couch, sipping a cold drink with my feet up.....

Ahhhh summer time!


Mrs B xx

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Steak Sandwich Salad

I am always on the look out for hearty salads that I can serve Mr B without leaving him starving or picking through the piles of lettuce leaves in search of some sustenance. Plus during the warmer months, I quite enjoy having a salad for dinner and secretly I think Mr B does too. 

I first stumbled across this recipe for a Steak Sandwich Salad in the newspaper a few weeks ago and then when it popped up again in a magazine I was reading I took that as a sign that I was destined to give it a try. 

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this salad. I mean I thought it would be nice, but I wasn't expecting it to be THE BEST salad I have ever eaten....but it was, oh it was. In my opinion the roasted cherry tomatoes are the star of this dish, but every element on that plate just works beautifully together to create the perfect hearty salad, and if you're feeding it to boys, it doesn't hurt that it tastes just like a steak sandwich!  

Steak Sandwich Salad - Serves 2 

100g sourdough bread, torn into 
3cm pieces
250g cherry tomatoes
120g swiss brown or button mushrooms, halved
1 tbspn crushed garlic
1 leek, cut into 1cm 
thick rounds
1 tbsn balsamic vinegar
1 tbsn brown sugar
1 tbsn water
500g steak (I used a pepper and worcestershire steak I found at the supermarket but regular scotch fillet would be fine)
1.5 tbsn sour cream
3-4 tspns lemon juice
1 tspn wholegrain mustard
2 cups shredded lettuce
Grated parmesan to serve

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan forced and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

In a jug or small bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice and wholegrain mustard. mix to combine and season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge until you're ready to use.

Scatter the bread on one of the prepared trays and spray with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 8-10 minutes or until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

Place the tomatoes and mushrooms onto the second lined tray and spray well with oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. I just leave mine in there until the cherry tomatoes are beautiful and blistered and starting to get a bit of colour.

In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, cook the leek for 5 minutes or until golden. Add the vinegar, brown sugar and water and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until caramelised.

Meanwhile heat a large non-stick frying pan or barbecue over medium high heat and add the steak. Cook, 
turning regularly, for 5-7 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Allow the steak to rest for 2 minutes before thinly slicing.

Whilst the steak is resting, you can start assembling your salad. Divide the lettuce between two plates and top with the croutons, tomatoes, mushrooms and caramelised leek. Top with the steak and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with a small amount of grated parmesan cheese and serve.


Mrs B xx

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I spotted this gorgeous book in our work book club called Peggy Porchen's Boutique Baking and from the second I picked it up, I was in love.

I don't know about you but I'm always disappointed when a recipe tells you to just 'pipe or spread the frosting onto the cake' and you already know yours is not going to look anything like the polished one in the photos. That is what I liked most about this book, every page is filled with beautiful recipes and the step by step instructions to create and decorate them yourself, plus a useful list of the equipment you need to get your creation looking exactly like the ones pictured.

There were so many recipes  in this book that I wanted to try, I just couldn't wait to get started. So last weekend I made a batch of the Cosmo Cupcakes for Mr B's lunches and he tells me they are the 'bomb diggity' which translates to 'super awesome' in anyone's book.

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes - Makes 24

For the sponge
150g dried cranberries
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour

For the frosting
200g cream cheese, softened
200g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges

For the sugar syrup
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
150g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 175C and line 2 x 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake cases.

To make the cupcakes, place the butter, sugar and orange zest in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and slowly add them to the butter mixture whilst beating quickly. If your mixture starts to seperate, stop adding the egg and beat in 2-3 tbspns of flour to rebind the bater. Continue adding the eggs until they are all incorporated.

Sift the flour over the batter and add the cranberries. Mix gently until just combined to ensure the sponges stay light and fluffy.

Fill your cupcake cases until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15 mins or until the cupcakes are golden brown and spring back when touched.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the sugar syrup. Place the orange juice and caster sugar in a microwave safe jug and heat for 60 seconds on high or until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

Once the cupcakes are baked, take them out of the oven and allow them to rest for 10 mins.  Use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the tops of the cupcakes whilst they are still warm.

To make the frosting, beat the butter using an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the cream cheese, icing sugar and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy. Chill until you are ready to frost your cupcakes.

To frost the cupcakes, fit a piping bag with a large star nozzle and fill with frosting. Pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes and enjoy!!

Mrs B xx


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