Jan Photo A Day: "Sweet"

OK. So I’ve missed a week. It’s a shame, there were some topics I was looking forward to. Perhaps I will still… However, I had to do the right thing for my family and that meant sleeping instead of posting so that I was fresher the next day.

But for today ‘sweet’ is tonight’s dessert we made. Pineapple and Passionfruit Self Saucing Pudding. We needed yo use up excess passionfruit from our vine. Mission accomplished.

I made the cake. The nanny made the sauce. The boys ‘helped’. The triplets interfered.

‘Twas yum.

(Excuse placemat. I thought it was an odd choice when I received it as a gift in the ’90’s. The kids love them though.)
Get the recipe here

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Roast Pumpkin Pasta

I realised the other day that all my recipes that I have posted on this blog have been sweet. This is natural for me, because I LOVE baking or making desserts. I don’t mind messing around making new meals also, but it’s making sweet things that I’m more passionate about.

So I thought I ought to post something savoury. Since lots of Mums read this blog, why not a quick and easy midweek dinner? This is one of our favourites. It’s on the table in half an hour, but you don’t have to be in the kitchen that whole time, there’s plenty of time available to be interrupted by children while you prepare this meal. I won’t give quantities, I just normally chuck in what is needed for our family, I’m sure it’s simple enough for you to work out what your family requires

Roast Pumpkin Pasta

Minced garlic
Pine nuts
Baby Spinach
Cream (or you could use Philly cooking cream, or ricotta)
Parmesan cheese

While you are dicing the pumpkin and bacon, roast the pine nuts under the grill. Set aside. Throw the diced pumpkin into the same pan, toss garlic and olive oil then roast in oven on a low heat for about half an hour.

During last 15 minutes, cook pasta according to packet directions. You can use any type of pasta, we quite often have ravioli or tortellini, just to bulk the meal up a little more. After the pasta is cooked, pour the pasta into a colander. Use the same saucepan, (I’m a big fan on limiting washing up afterwards!), cook bacon in olive oil. (Sometimes I chuck in some extra garlic while cooking the bacon.) Pour pasta back in the saucepan with the bacon and pour in cream, stir through. Finally stir in pumpkin, pine nuts and spinach. Grate Parmesan on top.

Finished dish, except I forgot the cheese, and there was no spinach, since ours had wilted in the fridge! Not restaurant quality, (would never present it to George and Gary on Masterchef!), still yummy, and a hit with the kids.
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Iced Shoe Cookies – or Biscuits if you are an Aussie … or English.

I’ve used “Cookies” in my title, for the simple reason that if you happen to be searching for some ideas on how to ice your biscuits that just happen to be shaped as shoes, I thought you might have a great chance of finding it on my humble blog. Because it seems that more Americans ice biscuits/cookies then the rest of us… The truth of the matter is that it I hate calling biscuits “Cookies”. It’s so un-Australian, yet more and more people are doing it these days. Since why? I have no problem with a Yankee Doodle calling them cookies, that’s what they call them over there. But here, with our British history, we’d always refered to them as ‘biscuits’ and I see no reason to change.

Ahem. A little ‘hobby horse’ of mine. Surely one is allowed to vent on one’s own blog?

Maybe not? OK, moving right along.

These are my darling creations.

Last year I did a surprise Tea Party for my friend Liz.

Liz’s 2010 Birthday

Because she has a small shoe fetish love affair, I had wanted to make some biscuits in the shape of shoes for her, but I couldn’t find any cookie cutters in the right shape. Shortly afterwards I had found a large array of cutters in an impressive selection of various shapes at Sweet Themes. I was looking for cookie cutters for my son’s dedication (christening) at the time. (I got some gorgeous old fashioned pram cutters and cute tiny bibs, as well as cute cross shaped cutters, although by the time I cut white icing out and placed them on cupcakes, it looked like a cupcake gravesite. But maybe I’ll share that disaster on another day!) Anyway, since I had searched so hard, I couldn’t resist throwing the shoe cutter into the order.

So this year when I was thinking of what to bake for Liz’s 30th, I decided it was time to use the delightful shoe cutters!

Sweet Themes included a Basic ‘cookie’ recipe with the order. I use their recipe all the time for a basic biscuit now. It’s a very yummy sweet bikkie.

Basic Cookie Recipe
175g butter, softened
175g soft brown sugar
2 tsps vanilla essence
1 egg
275 g flour
2 tsp baking powder. (Teaspoons that is, I once put in tablespoons! Not recomended!)

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating well. Sift flour and baking powder into creamed mixutre. Divide into 2 portions. Let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 mins. turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead lightly. Roll dough out to a 5mm thickness. Cut out shapes using your cookie cutter. Place on a greased oven tray. Bake at 180C for 10-15 mins or until pale golden. Makes about 30-35

I normally start really enthusiastically and make double the mixture. But rolling cutting bikkies can be a time sapper, so I normally run out of time. But the dough will keep for ages in your fridge after it has been kneaded and wrapped in plastic.

I was really nervous about doing the icing. For some reason I’ve been scared of royal icing. Maybe because I remember my Mum using it when she used to make wedding cakes so I always associated it with complexity. It’s not though, it’s really quite easy. You want to use royal icing because it pipes well, and you will be able to stack the biscuits as it sets hard.

I used a royal icing recipe I found here at the Woman’s Weekly site.

My piping skills do need improving, but when you put all the components together I thought it didn’t look too bad. I opted out of using ‘real’ piping bags, I’d borrowed Mum’s, but her nozzles were too fine. In the end I used disposable piping bags, but not the included nozzles, because they were too thick. I simply cut the corner of the bag and it worked brilliantly. And I didn’t need to fiddle around cleaning it afterwards, I just dumped it in the bin! Bonus!

I will admit that it was a time consuming project with all the making, rolling, cutting, baking, cooling, icing, (in different stages for the various colours). It did take hours. But I found it enjoyable, and I’m already looking forward to finding the time to make some other iced biscuits.

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Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Last night I had some lovely ladies around and we talked about God and ate chocolate cake. What a great combo! I’ve said I’ll post the recipe on my blog, so here it is! These little beauties are super quick to make. I made them in 20 minutes while rushing around hiding the last minute bits and pieces before my guests arrived. And they are gluten free, so it was a great way to attempt fattening up my skinny gluten free guests! 😉

Thank you Donna Hay for another delicious cooking moment! They were yummy, soft and melt in your mouth, with lovely chewy bits around the outside. This came out of her Modern Classics 2 book. (Love that book!)

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

180g (6oz) butter, chopped
220g (7 1/2 oz) dark cooking choc, chopped
1 1/4 cups caster (superfine) sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 140C (280F). Place the butter, chocolate and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Place the almond meal and cocoa in a bowl and whisk in the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs gradually, whisking until well combined. Grease 12x 1/2 cup capacity non-stick muffin tins.
Spoon in the mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool in the tins. (I had trouble getting them out of tins, better to use butter I think over cooking spray.) Serve with thick cream or chocolate glaze and fresh berries if desired. (I didn’t have cream, but ice-cream went down a treat!)Makes 12. (I made 13)

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Rhubarb, Rhubarb.

I used to love eating rhubarb as a kid. Mum grew it in our vegie garden and stewed it. It used to be one of my favourite desserts with ice cream.

So, I have grown my own rhubarb plant. Sadly, for some reason that I do not know, it’s more green then the lovely red colour I’m familiar with.  Perhaps, one website suggests, it’s because I let the leaves compost around the plant. You shouldn’t do that apparantly. But this is the plants first year of life, so that reasoning doesn’t apply here.

Google has told me that this is fine to eat. So this week, eat it we did.

This year Santa gave me some cooking DVD’s. I wasn’t too enthused, despite my love of cooking, I rarely cook anything I see on TV.

I hadn’t heard of Annabel Langbein , “The Free Range Cook”, before. But once getting over the initial shock that she was a kiwi. And bit my irrational Aussie pride to admit that she was a very skilled Kiwi, I am loving the tasty dishes she whips up in her country kitchen.

So, I chose to eat the first harvest of rhubarb as a Raspberry and Rhubarb Crumble. Here’s the recipe if you are interested. I can confirm that it is delicious. So can the J Bomb. He took two mouthfuls, looked up and said, “This is yum Mum!” I know it doesn’t sound much, but that’s the first time in his 4 1/2 years of life that he has articulated a compliment for my cooking of his own accord. I always know when he’s enjoying something. (He literally hums while he’s eating stuff he enjoys! We call it his good food motor.) But it was a nice moment to hear the words coming from his mouth.

Fruit Crumble

Annabel suggested 1/2 cup of raw fruit in each dessert. It can be any type of fruit. I think mine had slightly more than, I just filled up the ramekins. This is my green rhubarb!

And then I added the berries and mixed through. On the DVD Annabel used some lovely fresh raspberries she picked up from a local market. I used frozen, and they tasted just fine.

Annabels tip to avoid a soggy crumble was to add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cornflour and sprinkle on top.

For the topping:

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup almonds
2 teaspoons mixed spice.
250g melted butter.

Mix all the dry ingredients together then stir in the melted butter. Press the crumble over the top of the fruit and bake in the oven. Mine took about 20 minutes.


This is a huge crumble recipe. I only made half the recipe and it made six individual crumbles and still had some leftover. (I was trying to conserve pantry ingredients in case the trucks weren’t able to get through for awhile. No need to worry as it turned out.) Annabel says you can freeze it and use later. Or she says you can spread it out on a baking tray, cook then sprinkle over desserts or yoghurt. Or mix the crumble with condensed milk, press into a baking tray to make muesli bars. (Drizzle with white chocolate once cooled.) I’m definitely going to try making these homemade muesli bars next time!

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