Potato Cheese Bread

19 Dec

Pao de Queijo.  The elusive Brazillian Cheese Bread.  I had something in Singapore at one of the Japanese bakeries which they named Brazillian Cheese Bread.  Google brought up Pao de Queijo.  I just had to try it.  The consistency I had in mind was that of Mochi.  I tried recipes with tapioca flour which gave a chewy texture somewhat.  But the crust was not nice at all.  Hard at times and it would even squeak when you chewed.  Plus it didn’t keep well at all with the center turning really hard and rough.

There were recipes made from actual potatoes instead but it seemed rather laborious and I still haven’t figured out which potatoes give you a powdery texture and which ones give a sticky one.   So this recipe seemed easy enough and I think everyone agreed that it was fragrant and very yummy just out of the oven.  Even bubs couldn’t keep his hands to himself and kept trying to swipe them away.

It didn’t turn out the way I remembered the bread to be.  But it was light and fluffy, the cheese makes it chewy but not in the mochi kind of way.  Testament to it’s yumminess is bub’s hand in almost every shot I tried to get of the bread.  He kept wanting to take them away for himself to devour.

Potato Cheese Bread

Adapted from food52

Makes 32 balls 1 inch wide

Ingredients

2 cups potato flour

113g butter cold and cut up

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup mozarella

6 tbs whole milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place flour and butter into food processor and process until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Add cheese and eggs and continue processing until just mixed.
  4. Pour milk 1 tbs at a time while processing until a ball of dough is formed
  5. Divide the ball of dough into 32 pieces and roll into balls.
  6. Place balls onto baking paper 1 inch apart and bake for 10 – 15 minutes when the cheese turns golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately.

Tips

  1. If the dough is too soft, chilling it helps the ease in handling.
  2. Dough can be made a few hours beforehand and balls placed in the fridge.  Just pop the dough in to bake prior to serving.
  3. The original recipe suggested pepper, salt and roasted garlic.  I omitted the garlic as it was too much work.  I use salted butter so salt was omitted.  I forgot the pepper and think that it still turned out nice.

How it all started

18 Dec

It wasn’t that I completely don’t cook back in Singapore.  I did.  My mum’s a good cook and there was never any reason for me to take over that job.  Furthermore, work was tiring and there were other things to do.  Fast foward, I got married.  I was inspired somewhat to try out fancier recipes on my off days but the hub’s feedback would alway be lukewarm.  But he’s never been the effusive type.   There were also other things to take care of and settle.  Bubs came along and eating was just for survival.

Then we came to Melbourne for training.  It was stressful and nerve wrecking with a foreign land and an apartment that is completely anti-childproofing!  What do I mean?  The cabinets cannot by any means be locked using those childproofing devices.  There are no locks on the doors.  That’s just to name a few problems.  As with all Aussie rental properties, our apartment came with a dish washer.  Not something I actually needed and it screamed at the bubs to be pressed, along with the oven.  We had to hunt for the mains for the oven and dish washer to switch them off permanently.  They ended up being places for me to store various cooking vessels and implements. Melbourne is a lovely city.  But public transport is not the best and going to buy groceries with a toddler in tow is difficult.  Our initial trip with the bubs was such a nightmare we decided that only the hubs would go next time.  But that meant that I may have missing items and I had to have a good grocery list for him to follow. To add to my grief, the fridge the hubs bought when we came was a BAR FRIDGE.  It had a tiny freezer and almost no space in it to fit any leftovers at all.  Marketing was also done by the hubs and I’d have to plan the entire weeks menu because there was no space of any extras.  NONE. I would have thrown in the towel if it weren’t for the fact that I managed to persuade the hubs to buy another freezer at Aldi when they had a sale.  It made life so much easier.  For the first time in a long time, we could have ice cream!  I could start freezing my herbs for future use.  I could make chicken stock from scratch.  But to make things easier, every corresponding day of the week would see the same dishes on the table so that I didn’t have to think so hard.

One day, the hubs came back with a bag of mussels and said, “You have to try this!”  I rolled my eyes at him.  Having grown up at the seaside for a good part of my childhood, I knew the lovely briny taste of mussels, just caught, barbequed straight on the beach.  It wasn’t something that exciting.  But to do it in a tiny kitchen, how was I going to do that?  That was the challenge. So I dug around for a recipe that sounded easy enough and embarked on it while the hubs entertained the bubs.  By the end of dinner, we looked at each other and agreed that we had to do a weekly “special dinner”.  It cheered me up and allowed me to experiment.  It also meant that as a family we weren’t eating the same dish again and again.  A huge plus was that there were dishes which I could cook which turn out as good as those in restaurants and we’d save a pile!

Back to the mussels.  This dish turned out so nicely that I’ve cooked it a couple of times again after that.  The sister-in-law and husband came visiting and we decided to have mussels again.  So I dug out the recipe and was transported back a few months and enjoying the deja vu feeling while cooking.  There are just some dishes which are special like that. I scribbled the recipe in a notebook and didn’t record the source.  It was back in the days before I kept a blog.  I also scribbled it down in an intuitive fashion so there aren’t any proper measurements. If anyone knows who I should credit, please let me know!  Thanks!

Mussels in white wine sauce

Makes enough for 4 – 6 if as a side dish but 3 as a main meal.

Ingredients

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

A fistful of basil finely chopped

1 onion finely diced

1 carrot finely diced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

Cream 125ml

A dash of white wine

Mussels 1 – 1.5kg

1 tbs canola oil

Method

  1. Fry carrot, onion and garlic in canola oil until tender
  2. Add dash of white wine.
  3. Steam the mussels for 10 – 15 minutes or until the shells open.  Reserve the sauce from the steaming and strain.
  4. Deshell the mussels.
  5. Add the sauce to the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add cream, lemon juice and basil.
  7. Add the mussels just before serving.

Tips

  1. How to tell your mussel is fresh – the shells should be tightly shut, not cracked.  If the shells are opened they should close when tapped.
  2. How to clean your mussels – soak in fresh water for 20 minutes and shake in the water.  Use a hard brush (I use a new toothbrush from the airlines) and scrub the shells.  To debeard, use a pair of tweezers to tug it to the edge of the shell.  Sometimes the beard breaks and may need to be debearded after cooking.
  3. Don’t boil the mussels again as they tend to over cook.
  4. About 0.5kg of unshelled mussel will feed 1 person as a main course.  Half that for an entree.
  5. I don’t add any salt as the mussels have their own salt and the reserved sauce is full of flavor that makes salt unnecessary.

Scallion pancakes 葱油饼

14 Dec

A lot of experiments arise from my cravings.  It probably isn’t that I can’t find these foods in Melbourne but the hunt for it seems quite daunting without a car and eating out here at anywhere good is just pricey.  I was craving 葱油饼 that day.  Scallion pancakes.  I’m not even sure why I craved them.  I hardly ate them at all in Singapore.

I’ve made them 3x so far.  Each time trying out a slightly different recipe and tweaking the way I made it to make life a little easier.  The first recipe I tried was from Appetite for China.  I ended up with very tasty bun-like pancakes.  The bub LOVED it.  But it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  Then I realised that I had probably been too stingy with the oil.  And there were too many steps and ingredients to make it a recipe that I’d dig out time and again.  So I went on another search.  Food Network was the other place that most people seemed to get their recipe from.  So I tried that one out.

With both recipes, I had a terribly sticky dough despite adding and adding more flour.  So I went hunting again and struck gold with Black Girl Chef’s Whites.  Perfect!  The dough was initially dry but with continual kneading, a dough that actually came together smoothly results.  To save washing I also hand mixed everything.  I loved that the layers actually came out beautifully!

This time, I was really generous with the oil.  A teaspoon per pancake when I made it.  But it turned out perfect and exactly what I had in mind!  Incidentally, I just realised that the principle behind it is similar to roti prata from Singapore and croissant from France.  We had the pancakes for breakfast and I made a ginger-soya dip for it.

Scallion Pancakes 葱油饼

Adapted from Black Girl Chef’s Whites

Makes 8 pancakes

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup very hot water

2 TB vegetable oil + more for frying

1 tsp sesame oil

kosher salt

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and hot water and mix with a spatula until it comes together as a ball.
  2. Let the dough cool down until you can handle it with your hands.
  3. Dust the tabletop with flour and knead dough until it is soft and pliable.
  4. Let the dough rest for at least 0.5 hours in a bowl with a wet towel over.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
  6. Take 1 piece of dough and roll it out flat on the tabletop dusted with flour.
  7. Mix canola oil with sesame oil.
  8. Brush 1 tsp of oil on the top of the rolled out dough.
  9. Sprinkle some of the spring onions on the dough, followed by salt to taste.
  10. Roll the dough into a cigar.
  11. Roll the cigar into the shape of a snail’s shell.
  12. Flatten the snail’s shell by rolling it flat.
  13. Fry pancake on a non stick pan until crisp.

Tips

  1. For even better flavor, you can use lard instead.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you that it isn’t good for your health!
  2. If you want to leave the dough to stand for longer than 0.5h, do pop it into the fridge.
  3. I find that by placing the spring onions in a straight line, right through the middle of the rolled out dough makes it easier to roll up and the final spread of the spring onions is more even.
  4. You can prevent the pancakes from sticking by gently brushing a thin layer of oil over the pancake.
  5. The pancakes freeze well too.  Just take them out to defrost and then fry!  It would be best to use freezer film to separate the pancakes for easy removal.
  6. Fry the pancakes on a non stick pan and you can omit the oil.
  7. To make it easier for cleaning up the oil you used, pour the left over flour into the bowl with oil and see the flour soak up the oil slick!  Then throw into the dustbin!
  8. If fried with oil, the pancake turns out slightly flakier but I’m opting for healthier so I omitted the oil.

Vegetable fit for an Emperor

13 Dec

We went to Richmond today to do some Asian grocery shopping.  I love going to Richmond.  The grocery stores are fantastic in terms of the variety of things you can find!  The items are truly mind boggling.

The Asian diet consists of a lot of greens which are stir fried or blanched – unfortunately the variety is rather limited in Queen Victoria Market which we frequent.  So I was delighted to find 王帝菜in one of the stores!

For the uninitiated, 王帝菜 (= Emperor Vegetable)  is apparently known as Basella alba.  It used to be a rare vegetable prepared for the emperor.  Being a green leafy vegetable, it is high in vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.  It is a vegetable with a slightly mucilaginous texture.  In simple words, it’s slimy.  First off, I like slimey vegetables.  Wierd, I know.  But I like the feel somehow.  Furthermore, it’s rich in soluble fibre.  It is also a vegetable that pickles well and the pickling process seems to take away the slime.

I remember it being a fairly rare vegetable to see around even in Singapore.  According to my mother-in-law, it is expensive to boot!  But she said she grew it in her backyard like weeds and when they needed some vegetables for dinner quickly, she’d go and harvest them.  So I thought, why not try our backyard and see if we get lucky here?/

So 1 stalk went into the backyard and the rest into the pan. I must say 1 large colander full actually shrank down to 1 soup bowl full after cooking.  But it was yummy piping hot over rice!

Stir-fried Emperor Vegetables

Ingredients

2 thin slices of ginger

2 shallots finely sliced

1 tsp of dried shrimp in chili oil (available at Asian grocers)

1 portion of Emperor Vegetables (about 1 colander full)

1 tbs of canola oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Pluck the leaves off and separate from the stems.  Put aside to dry.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan or wok.
  3. Add the ginger and shallots and fry until fragrant
  4. Add the dried shrimp and stir quickly.
  5. Add the vegetables and fry until all the vegetables wilt.
  6. Add salt to taste
  7. Serve hot over rice.

Tips

  1. This is very much a traditional Asian way of cooking.  Often when you ask the cook “How much?”, you’ll get the answer “A pinch” or “A smidge”.  I’ve actually tried to give some measurements but can’t tell you the weight of the vegetables.
  2. Fresh vegetables should be firm with no soft spots.
  3. You may want to run the vegetables through a salad spinner to minimise splash when frying.  But I’m lazy.  The initial volume of vegetables is so large, it contains it’s own splatter.  But if it’s your first time, be warned!
  4. The chili oil can get quite irritating to the eyes and nose so the vegetables have to follow fast to keep it down.

 

Cooking for the smells

12 Dec

I’m from the Northern Hemisphere.  Not that we actually had winter but Christmas in temperate countries have always been associated with flurries of snow, a warm fire place with a nice fire burning and a mug of hot chocolate.  But it’s the opposite in Australia.  Or at least it is supposed to be.  Right now, temperatures have been sub 20s with rain and winds.

Anyhow, I suddenly felt that I needed to have something smelling all warm and comforting for the Yuletide season.  The hubs is extremely sensitive to cheap potpourri with their manufactured “scents” and he’d balk at expensive ones especially since bubs is likely to destroy it all.  So I resorted to cooking up my own potpourri.

It definitely doesn’t have the overpowering smell of commercial potpourri but it is scenting the window side subtly and looks pretty standing there!  I like this combination but it is terribly personal.  Find some combination you like and try it out at home!

Potpourri

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 lime, sliced thinly

1 lemon, sliced thinly

Caster sugar

1 tbs of whole cloves

1/2 tsp of ground cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

2 star anise

1/2 tsp of ground star anise

1 – 2 drops of Lemon essential oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Coat the finely sliced lime and lemons with caster sugar and place in 1 layer on the baking tin.
  4. Bake the lemons and lime for 2.5h until the skin is dry and flesh translucent.
  5. Stir all the ground spices together.
  6. Stir in all the ingredients together except the essential oil.
  7. Add the essential oil one drop at a time to the mixture, mixing thoroughly each time.

Tips

  1. I didn’t have oranges but they would make a lovely display!  Especially blood oranges!
  2. Use fresh citrus fruits that are firm to make slicing easier especially if you don’t have a mandolin.
  3. The essential oils and spice powders make the smell stronger but the powders tend to “shed”.  The glass container you use may start to show this.  Don’t use a basket!
  4. Keep the potpourri away from moisture.  Otherwise the citrus fruits start to stick onto everything and deteriorate!

Baked chicken for a flu

11 Dec

We are all down with a terrible flu of varying degrees and I didn’t get the crayfish I thought would be cheap with China not wanting to buy from Tasmania.  Plus the hubs didn’t get anything that could be cooked in a jiffy.  So I was at my wits ends for a 2nd week running. 😦

So to boost all our immune systems and have a tasty meal, I decided I had to add garlic, lemon and red onion to the mix. And chicken soup is supposed to help with flus, right?  I had no soup but had some drumsticks.  I was too tired to stand around the stove so I baked the lot.  Apparently it was very fragrant according to the hubs.  I can’t smell a thing.  But the taste was definitely there and great since I’ve been having close to no appetite for a while.  I sprinkled the top with some fried pine nuts for added texture and taste.  Worked wonders with bub who was asking repeatedly for additional helpings.  I love how the garlic bakes to a lovely creamy paste – and this comes from a garlic hater.

Baked chicken for a flu

Makes enough for 4

Ingredients

4 chicken drumsticks

1 large red onion thinly sliced

1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves with membranes still intact

1 lemon sliced thinly

1 sprig of rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp EVOO to fry pine nuts

Pine nuts 40g

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  2. Rub salt and pepper into the chicken drumsticks.  Line up in the baking pan in a single layer.
  3. Place red onion, garlic, lemon and rosemary over chicken and drizzle EVOO over.
  4. Cover pan with 2x layer of aluminium foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the juices run dry when the thickest portion of the chicken is speared.
  5. Meanwhile, heat up EVOO in a saucepan and fry the pine nuts on medium heat, constantly stirring until golden brown.
  6. Sprinkle pinenuts over chicken when done.
  7. Serve with potatoes or rice as preferred.

Tips

  1. Don’t eat the lemon!
  2. You can bake this together with potatoes.  So that saves time!
  3. Added after feedback from one of my readers:  This method of baking will give a gravy.  Some people may not like it.  If you do not like gravy, then bake without the foil.  My kid finds the chicken baked without the foil too dry though.  But the skin does come out nice and crisp.

Strawberries and cream muffins

6 Dec

I’m sure I’ve raved about how fresh the food is in Melbourne and how CHEAP it is.  At the market, the strawberries were going for ONE dollar a punnet. Who could resist?  I was greedy and got 2 punnets.  It was even cheaper than the time when I got them for 1.50 and thought I had a steal!

But as with all cheap food, the strawberries were on the brink of being overripe and would rot by the end of the day if I didn’t eat them or do something with them.  Jam would be difficult considering how ripe the strawberries were.  What’s more, I had just made another batch of apple jam.  I remembered how Fanny enthused about some really good strawberry muffins.  It all sounded just delicious.  Plus this would be a new thing to try – muffins which weren’t just mixing everything in a bowl and then baking the batter in tins.  It would involve actually layer different flavors in the tins!

I tried to do a step by step demonstration with each muffin tin being one step.  But it was getting dark fast so the other shots didn’t turn out.

By the time the muffins were out of the oven, the sun had set.  So I had to make do with my lousy apartment’s lights.  What a waste!  But the muffins were just out of this world. Especially when fresh out of the oven!

Strawberries and cream muffins

Adapted from lululu at home

Makes 12 medium sized muffins

Ingredients

1 punnet of strawberries chopped

Muffin batter

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup raw sugar

113g butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup milk

Cream cheese filling

100g cream cheese brought to room temperature

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients for the batter in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients for the batter in a separate bowl and mix well.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to just mix into a batter.
  5. Place cream cheese filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  6. Fill half the muffin case with batter.
  7. Then place some strawberries as the next layer.
  8. Cover with a teaspoon of cream cheese filling.
  9. Cover with a tablespoon of batter.
  10. Top with more strawberries
  11. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean after stabbing the muffin.

Tips

  1. I used 3/4 of a strawberry for each muffin.
  2. The strawberries will discolor after a day so it is best to eat it quick! (But honestly, it gets finished really fast anyway)
  3. The quickest way to melt butter is to chop it up and nuke it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and additional 5 second interval until it’s all melted.  I would recommend bringing the milk to room temperature as well.  Cold milk will solidify the butter again and make all your efforts go to waste.
  4. I use 2 spoons to transfer the batter and cream cheese filling for better control and not to spill it everywhere.  1 spoon scoops and the other one scrapes the first spoon.  I know some people use ice cream scoops but I don’t have that.

The BEST lamburger! Ever!

5 Dec

Some months back we were invited to a friend’s place for a bbq and we had what has to be the best burger I had ever eaten.  It was made of Wagyu beef.  So I thought, there would be no way for me to make a great burger without such good ingredients.  I was wrong.

I’ve been ploughing through cookbooks in a bid to try something new which bubs would eat.  There are a whole lotta stuff that I’m sure he would eat but it just wouldn’t be healthy.  Wait.  Actually, feeding him is sometimes like opening a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get!  There are times where he would eat something you thought he wouldn’t and then there are other times where he wouldn’t eat what you thought he would.  And boy does he change his mind.  I guess that’s what being a toddler is.

A lot of recipes get trashed because they either involve too many premade sauces (e.g. Worcestershire sauce) which I’m not too much a fan of (additives and all).  Furthermore, I wasn’t that crazy as to make the sauces from scratch if I was only going experiment.  So this recipe seemed like a good one with no premade sauces at all.  But I wasn’t going to get my hopes up too high.  It IS a tough fight against a Wagyu beef burger from a deli afterall.

I told the hubs that it is close to impossible for me to do any form of photo taking of any meals I make with the bubs awake.  He’s always wanting to “help” stage my food.  Irony is that it’s the best lighting conditions for me.  Baked goods are easier to do as I can wait till he’s safely asleep.

That’s his hand again, telling the hubs where to put what so that he (the bubs) could take a photo of his (the hubs) food.

My last attempt at taking a photo before the bubs stuck his finger into the burger and destroyed it.

The burger was tender and juicy, bursting with flavor.  The usual musky smell of lamb was so well masked by the seasoning!  The yoghurt dressing and lime just made the whole dish pop!

Spiced Turkish lamb & mint burgers

Adapted from The Really Useful Cookbook

Makes 8 burgers

Ingredients

2 slices of leftover bread

Milk for soaking

1 red onion finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

4 tablespoons of chopped mint

600g minced lamb

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

salt and freshly grated pepper

2 tbsp olic oil

1 lemon cut into quarters

Method

  1. Soak bread in milk for 5 – 10 minutes.  Then squeeze dry and crumble into a large mixing bowl.  Add the onion, garlic, mint, lamb, cumin, coriander, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Mix with your hands until combined.
  2. To check seasoning, fry a small amount of the mixture until cooked through and taste.  Adjust the seasoning as required.
  3. Lightly flour hands to form mixture into 8 balls and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium heat, add the matballs and cook for 3 – 4 minutes each side.  Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until the burgers are golden and cooked through.
  5. Yoghurt dressing can be made with 125ml plain yoghurt, 2 tbs chopped mint and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine all into a bowl and drizzle the dressing.

Tips

  1. Mint can be chopped using the chiffonade method.  Stack the mint leaves and roll into a cigar.  Then using a sharp knife, slice away at the cigar in thin strips.
  2. I used the left over milk to hold the patties together a bit more as it was a little dry.
  3. I don’t have an oven safe pan so I seared the patties in a saucepan and transferred into a baking pan.  This also meant that I had to clear burnt bits as I went along.

Ad libbing

4 Dec

Today, things didn’t go as planned.  For a good reason but it meant that we didn’t go to the market and I had to scrap my idea of Greek lamb patties.  But it also meant I had to open the fridge and cook something from it.  It’s difficult because I only have a bar fridge and so our stocks at the end of the week are usually very low.  Thank goodness we have a separate freezer which has a stock of meat and fish.

Flinging the fridge door open, I sighed.  I mean, how am I going to put together a dish with bits and bobs when every week I buy stuff according to a recipe in mind?  And to cook something without a recipe?  Quite unheard of!  But I had no choice.  So I managed to fish out some tomatoes, an eggplant and a bottle of homemade pesto I made 2 weeks ago.  I had some chicken thighs and so I set to work.  Admittedly, it isn’t something terribly original per se but I did surprise myself by the ease of the dish and how lovely it turned out.  The bonus?  The kid actually ate the whole lot of it without much trouble!

Baked Chicken and Vegetables with Pesto

Makes for 4 people

Ingredients

4 Chicken drumsticks

2 large tomatoes, cubed

1 eggplant sliced

3/4 cup of basil pesto

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place chicken in a baking pan and cover all over with pesto.
  3. Place vegetables around the chicken and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Double wrap the baking pan with aluminium foil.
  6. Bake chicken and vegetables for 40 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear when pierced with a skewer.

Tips

  1. To prepare eggplant, wash and slice up the eggplant.  Then rub salt into the cut parts of the eggplant and leave to stand for 30 minutes.  Then rinse well.  Dry with a paper towel before cooking.  This takes away the bitter taste of older egg plants.
  2. You can use a cast iron pot with a lid instead.
  3. The sauce goes well with spaghetti.

Adding to my waistline…

4 Dec

I used to have a friend who’s domestic help was a fantastic baker.  We’d have brownies, cookies and gingerbread men to name a few as treats – home made, no less.  Being the greedy little girl I was, I was terribly envious and always thought it must be difficult to do since my mum (who’s a good cook) didn’t do them.

I have been hoarding the compounded chocolate for a while and finally decided that I was going to make brownies – cheesecake brownies no less!  The thought of it made my mouth water.  So when the bubs went to sleep, I cracked out my baking things, all eager to start on my maiden brownie.  I thought I had all the ingredients nailed.  I did.  But I didn’t have enough.  I was missing one egg to be exact!  GAH!  But I had already started to melt my butter and chocolate and there was no turning back.  So I ended up with plain brownies – the fudgy sort.  A slice of pure heaven.  However it really reminded me of the phrase “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips”…  I had to take some to work to spread the guilt around.

Plain brownies – the fudgey sort

Adapted from The Joy of Baking

Makes 6×9 inch slab of brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line a baking pan with aluminium foil to cover all the sides and bottom.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl places over a saucepan of simmering water.
  4. Remove the melted mixture from heat and add sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Place batter in pan and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges are starting to brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool.
  8. Refrigerate brownies until they are firm enough to cut into squares.
  9. Once chilled, you can use a clean knife and cut up the brownies.

Tips

  1. I don’t actually have heatproof bowl that would fit into my saucepan.  So I used the smallest saucepan which fit into the larger saucepan.  I filled the larger saucepan with water and heated until it was simmering and placed the smaller saucepan in.  Then I tied the 2 handles together so the smaller saucepan wouldn’t capsize or bob up and down.  It worked.  Just be careful not to put too much water and not to let it bubble too vigorously.  You don’t want water in the chocolate as it seizes up when that happens.  (Common sense also says that you have to dry your equipment well before adding the chocolate)
  2. You will have to stir your chocolate constantly as you do not want the chocolate to over heat as it becomes grainy and unusable after that.  As many chocolate addicts would know, until you touch a piece of chocolate, you can’t tell if it has melted.  It’s not a piece of ice or butter!
  3. My baking pan was too big so I used another muffin pan (on any other pan you have) to fill half the pan and lined the remaining area with aluminium foil to get my “smaller” baking pan.
  4. I folded in my flour more than mixed it so I didn’t incorporate too much air into the batter.
  5. I’m impatient so I placed my brownie for about 15 minutes in the freezer and it became firm enough to cut easily!  But do watch that it doesn’t actually freeze over and don’t put a warm brownie near raw food!