December 16, 2010

♥ Merry Christmas ♥

I'M BACK!!! (sort of... still haven't got my PC fixed - I am a chronic procrastinator)

For all who have been following my Tweets, Facebook and this blog you'll know that I've had a pretty crazy 2 months, crazy as in bloggers nightmare come true.

1. My home PC blew up - see rant here
2. My work PC also decided to fail me (I swear, I swear it's not me!!! *puppy eyes*)
3. I lost my kitchen - when I say I've lost my kitchen, I mean that "it" (EVERYTHING) has been ripped out so that we can extend it and get a shiny new one in time for the new year! yay! but boo for not being able to bake over the festive season! :'( I had such great grand plans for all the sweets I was gonna make but I guess it'll have to wait until I get a brand spanking new kitchen to devirginise!

See its all gone!!!! ... I do still have my fridge, ohh cold one, how I love thee!!

Admist all these set backs, we had the Annual Food Blogger Xmas Picnic about 2 weekends ago and there was just no way I was gonna go empty handed. So, as they say 'where there is a will there's a way' ...coupled with my very persuasive flattery... I invaded and conquered my lovely girlfriend's kitchen (love ya babe!), early in the morning and banged out some lovely Pecan Pies with Brandy Cream & Caramel! mmmMmmm

Christmas 2010-2

Pecan Pies with Brandy Cream & Caramel

Tart shell - Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry)
Adapted from Joy of Baking

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water

Pecan filling
Adapted from Pecan Pie Recipes

36 individually wrapped Caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon bourbon (optional, but highly recommended)
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves - lightly toasted (shove into an oven at about 200oC until fragrant)

Brandy Cream & Caramel
300ml double cream
1/4 cup brandy (of course you can add more if you want to be naughty... don't think Santa would hold it against u ;P )
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 can Nestle Top & Fill Caramel - don't hold it against me, I didn't have time to make my own caramel - but this stuff is awesome could eat it by the spoonful!!
Extra pecan halves - for decoration

Preheat oven to 180oC, grease 8 mini tart shells or 1 x 9 inch (23cm) tart shell.

For the tart shells
In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined.

Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds).

Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface. If you are using the large tin then roll dough into a 13 inch (33 cm) circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards) Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself. Use a fork to make a decorative border or else crimp the edges using your fingers. If you are using the mini tart pans, grab a ball of the dough (about a fistful) and press into the shell until uniform in thickness. Use a knife to run along the top to cut off any excess dough, repeat for remaining tart shells. Refrigerate the pastry, covered with plastic wrap, for about 30 minutes before pouring in the filling.

For the filling
On the stovetop over low heat, combine caramels, butter and milk in a small saucepan. Stir frequently until smooth.

Remove caramel mixture from the heat, set aside.

Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt & bourbon (if using) in a large bowl.

Slowly mix in the caramel mixture, so the eggs don’t scramble. Add the pecans.

Pour pecan pie mixture into pie crust.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until edges of crust is golden brown.

Allow pie to cool so filling stops cooking and firms up.

For the cream
Whip the cream with the sugar & brandy until it stands at soft-medium peaks.

For the caramel
Spoon out the caramel in a bowl and beat until smooth - it comes out kinda congealed.

To Assemble
Remove the tarts from tin as soon as the temperature allows, let the tarts cool completely.

Top with some cream, then caramel and a pecan!

Enjoy!! Bon Appétit! ♥




These are all some of the lovely people I got to meet and catchup with at the picnic :)

Also FYI, this will be my last post for the year peeps *sob sob* because as of today I will be flying to HK and South Korea for the biggest eating and shopping experience of my life! muahahahha!!! Will be back in early Jan though, so until then....Have a WONDERFUL Christmas!! Party lots, drink even more, be safe and dont forget to share some Christmas loving!! May God Bless you all and I shall see you in 2011! ;)

Here's a gingerbread house I made a few years earlier... will have to live vicariously through old photos since I can't make new ones right now hehehe

Peace out! xxx

November 24, 2010

Technical Difficulties - Pavlova Alert

Error: The Dainty Baker's desktop has blown up... please replace relevant parts to get system up and running again.

Yes, my computer is f*cked (to put it politely). It just wont turn on.

So.. this means no proper blogging until I figure out what is wrong with it and how to fix it :( ... Exactly what I need before the festive season, isn't it?!

Anyways bear with me... I'll be posting piecemeal (not that I don't do that already) and the photos might be a little raw (because I CANT EDIT!) lol

I will however, leave you with a simple yet lovable classic, took the pictures with my iPhone (bless thee)!

Pavlova 1


3 egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence

300 ml Double cream - whipped
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To decorate:
Any fresh fruit of your choosing - I usually use raspberries (you can use defrosted ones), blueberries, passionfruit, strawberries & even mango for a summer twist!

Preheat oven to 150oC. Line a tray with baking paper. You can choose to draw a circle on the underside of the baking paper if you wish, to guide where the meringue should sit but I usually just do it free hand (i.e. pour the meringue on and shape it however I like :P)

Whip egg whites until foamy (bubble bath like). Then add in half the sugar and whip until at soft peak stage (shaving cream like).

Gradually add in the rest of the sugar, corn flour, vinegar and essence and beat until mixture stands at stiff peaks.

Pour onto the baking paper and shape into a nest, bake for 1 hr and then let cool in the oven.

Whip cream together with the essence and sugar, then spread on top of the cooled meringue nest. Finish with toppings of your choice.

Pavlova 4

I love pavlova, its so easy and quick to prepare. The crunch of the outside balances beautifully with the fluffy inside and the fruit takes away the sugary guilt of the meringue ;)


Pavlova 2

Hope you guys are having a better week than me.


p.s. any IT tech heads out there who are willing to gimme a hand.. and maybe even do some charity work hehehe feel free to email me :D

November 12, 2010

Potato & Crab Korokke

I've been having what I call, TWS - Traveller's Withdrawal Symptoms. I miss the anticipation and hype of getting to the airport, walking through the brightly lit duty free stores, getting on a plane (and trying to watch every fricken new movie they have to offer), then finally arriving with a buzzing excitement, in a completely new country, where I just want to immerse myself in the people, culture and atmosphere. Every bone in my body aches for it, oh how I love to travel!!

Potato & Crab Croquette-6

So, in the midst of my TWS, I decided to replicate a dear favourite.... Korokke (Japanese version of croquettes)!!! The story behind these deep fried golden nuggets of yumminess started last year... I went to visit my gf who was studying in Osaka at the time. I spent a good 3 weeks in Japan and I got so hooked on these little babies! I had to have my fix nearly everyday!! It was great because you could just walk to the nearest Japanese convenient store (which are WAYYY cooler than the convenient stores we have here I must admit) and pick some up, along with all the cool Glico snacks and drinks!!

Potato & Crab Croquette-2
I had to share with you all my knife skills.....was thoroughly impressed and surprised with myself hehehe

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Coated potato ovals

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Freshly fried Potato & Crab Korokke

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Potato & Crab Korokke
Adapted from - makes about 30 x 8 cm long oval korokkes

12 medium potatoes
2 x 170 g can crab meat
1 small carrot, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 x 125g can of whole corn kernels
salt & pepper to season
vegetable oil for frying
4 eggs - lightly whisked
flour and panko (breadcrumbs) for coating

Peel and cut potatoes into medium chunks. Boil potatoes until soften. Drain and mash potatoes while they are hot.

Add onions, carrot, corn & crab meat to the mash and mix well. Season with salt & pepper.

Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the potato mixture into the palm of your hand and shape into a flat oval shape similar to hashbrowns. Repeat with remaining potato mixture until they are all shaped.

To coat with crumbs:
Pat the shaped potato with flour, then dip into egg then coat with panko.
Tip: To make this process easier and mess free, line up the flour, eggs and panko (in that order) in separate bowls and have a tray ready at the end of this line to put the korokke on.

Once all the potato ovals have been coated, refrigerate over night or place into the freezer until firm. This makes handling easier as they won't fall to bits when you try to pick them up.

Heat the oil in a large wok. The oil is hot enough when you put a little bit of the panko in and it starts to bubble. Once the oil reaches this stage slowly slide in the korokke one by one, don't overcrowd the wok (depending on the size of your wok, you can fry 3-4 at the same time). Don't fiddle too much with the korokke but turn them over once in a while to get an even goldenness. They will be ready when golden all over.

Remove the korokke from the wok and place onto an absorbent paper towel.

Serve with Takoyaki sauce (sort of like a bbq sauce), you can get this from Asian grocery stores or from Tokyo Mart in Northbridge Plaza.

Potato & Crab Croquette-7

Enjoy!! ♥

November 8, 2010

Homemade Soybean Milk

I love soybean milk!! Not the kind that you buy from Woolworths or Coles... i.e. not the Western ones but the Asian soybean milk that you can only get from Asian grocery stores. It's a lot thinner and more like a soybean flavoured drink than milk really. I love it so much I buy it by the litre bottle, stick a straw in it and drink it straight out! Until I read about it on Scandi Foodie, I never really thought to make my own, just like normal milk... it was always just there... but boy oh boy! You can!! *Squeal*

Soybean Milk-1

The wonders of nature and cooking also really surprised me, see the picture above... what do you think they are?... Well, they're both uncooked soybeans!! Except the ones on the left are dry and the ones on the right have been soaked overnight in water. Don't they look completely different? I was like say what??? Who swapped my beans? hehehe yes, yes I am easily amused :)

Homemade Soybean Milk
Adapted from Scandi Foodie

125 g soy beans (will make litre of milk)
1 litre water
1/2 cup sugar (optional)

Wash then soak the beans overnight in plenty of fresh water.

The following day, drain the beans, transfer to a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes on high.

Transfer beans to a food processor then add water and pulse until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large pot and boil for 10-20 mins on high. Note: This milk will froth and bubble like normal milk so watch the heat and adjust so it doesn't bubble over.

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Sieve the mixture through a fine sieve or through a cheese cloth and recover the soy milk. Add sugar and dissolve (if using). You can adjust the amount of sugar added to control the sweetness of the milk.

Serve hot or cold (I prefer cold) ♥

Tip: The milk can keep, refrigerated for 2-3 days.

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November 4, 2010

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes with Coconut Creamcheese frosting

I've had a very strong craving for anything 'pandan' flavoured lately... might be because I've had House's BTS dessert on my mind (for those who don't know, besides it being AMAZING... its pandan icecream on a fluffy warm toasted brioche drizzled with caramel sauce.. O.M.G)

I wanted to make pandan icecream but with the temperamental weather I opted for something else... Pandan Chiffon... CUPCAKES!

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes-5

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes
Adapted from The Malaysian Cuisine - makes one 25 cm chiffon cake or 30 cupcakes

6 Large Eggs, separated
1 Additional Egg White
2 1/4 cups Plain flour
1 1/4 cups White Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup Pandan Juice (Blend 5 Pandan Leaves with 2/3 cup Water or use Pandan Essence)
3/4 cup Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Pure Pandan Extract (Optional)
15-20 drops of green food colouring (Optional)

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes-6

Separate the eggs and place the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Cover with plastic wrap and bring them to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 170˚C and line 3 x 12 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, sugar (minus 3Tbsp), baking powder & salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg yolks, oil, Pandan juice, coconut milk , and pandan extract, if using. Beat about one minute or until smooth.

In a separate bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 3Tbsp of sugar and until stiff peaks form. With a large rubber spatula or wire whisk, gently fold the egg whites into the batter just until blended (being careful not to deflate the batter).

Spoon 1/2 cup of batter into each cupcake hole. Bake for 20-30 mins until golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool over a wire rack.

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes-4

Coconut Cream Cheese frosting
Adapted from Simply Recipes - covers about 12-15 cupcakes depending on how generous you want to be with the frosting. This frosting is amazing!! Sweet with a slight saltiness laced with coconut bits mMmm..

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
250g Philly cream cheese, room temperature
1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut

Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, taste as you go adding more sugar until you have reached the desired sweetness.
Fold in the coconut. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Sprinkle on a bit of extra shredded coconut on top and serve.

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These cupcakes are the fluffiest!! (It's soooo fluffy I'm gonna DIEE!!!) The coconut milk helps to keep the cupcakes moist and it works so damn well with the subtle pandan flavour. For a truer pandan flavour I would suggest to go with actually making your own pandan juice. I used store bought pandan essence and found that it was quite artificial tasting, so next time I will definately use a combination of real pandan juice with a Tbsp of the essence to enhance the flavour. Also with the green food colouring... you can add as much or as little as you like... just depends how nuclear looking you want your cupcakes to look, I used about 15 small drops and the colour turned out just a slight pastel green.

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Can you see the inside fluffiness!!?! *points downwards*
Pandan Cupcake
Bon Appétit ♥

November 1, 2010

LA Lakers Kobe Bryant Cake

LA Lakers Cake-3

The story behind this cake goes something like this...

Wednesday Morning @ Work
G: "Darl I know this is late notice but could you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make a Lakers cake for A's birthday?" (G is my bestie & A's awesome gf)
R: "Sure when do you need it by?"
G: "This weekend"
R: O.o "But I'm going away for the weekend.. leaving Friday and I'm taking the kids for a movie on Thursday..."

Wednesday late evening
R: "YOU TOTALLY OWE ME! .. buggered as .. come pick it up tomorrow x"
G: "You're the best!"

Thursday afternoon after work

LA Lakers Cake-9
R: :)
G: :D
A: :D

Crazy huh? But boy, I felt on top of the world being able to pull it off and it was worth all the effort once I saw their faces and reactions at the sight of that cake. I think that is exactly the moment I savour most as a baker (next to when the first bite is eaten, of course!), the moment where their eyes light up & pure bliss hits their faces when they see the edible creation infront of them, you can almost see them jumping around inside like a little kid again... such joy! :) That's why I love baking so much, it enables me to bring so much love and happiness to those around me by allowing me to share these special moments & memories with them through my food and cakes.

LA Lakers Cake-2
To make this cake, I used 2 x the recipe here, baked in 2 rectangular pans. To shape the cake, I cut out sleeves for "arms" in the top 2 corners of each rectangular slab cake.

The frosting was one that I had previously made here, the only difference is I added some Frangelico to the frosting too... similarly, before I sandwiched the two rectanglar slabs together with frosting, I brushed/soaked them with more Frangelico. Besides the booze factor, it also helped to keep the cake moist :)

LA Lakers Cake-1

The cake was covered with Orchard's White Icing (a premade fondant you can get from Woolworths or Coles) and I also used Wilton's coloured pastes to colour the fondant.

Tip - instead of using icing sugar, use cornflour whilst rolling out the fondant so it doesn't stick to the surface or your hands.

Happy 24th Birthday A, hope you had a great one! x

LA Lakers Cake-4

October 27, 2010

Pear & Raspberry Bread

Pear and Raspberry Bread-2

Anybody who knows Miss Rhonda, knows that I do NOT like bananas .. infact I detest them with a passion and feel nauseated at the thought of them. I don't know how this innocent grudge started but to put things into perspective I don't remember the last time I went anywhere near anything to do with bananas... banana smoothie .. nope, pancakes & bananas .. nope, banana bread.. nope!

Yet, everytime we go to a café I always see people ordering banana bread... and if I have to be honest with you.. it does look really comforting and I just want to take a bite but I cant bring myself to do it because it contains banana. So instead I have found myself what I believe would be the closest substitute, Pear & Raspberry bread :)

Pear and Raspberry Bread-3

Pear & Raspberry Bread

Adapted from Wabi Wabi

3 pears, grated (for 2 cups pear pulp - I used Bosc pears)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cups plain flour
1 cup castor or raw sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder (I forgot to add this for some reason, but it still turned out ok so meh)
3/4 cup melted butter
3 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180° C and line a large loaf pan with baking paper.

Peel the pears and grate over a medium bowl, collecting all the juice and pulp you can. Douse the pear mush with lemon juice and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Stir in the sugar.

Whisk together the butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a glass jug. Pour into the dry ingredients.

Tip in the grated pears and stir together until just evenly combined (It was a little hard to stir so I just got my fingers into the batter and mushed it all around until it was mixed evenly). Stir through the raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth over the top but don’t be too fussy. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the surface of the loaf is golden and the centre firm to the touch.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. (This is important - don't be impatient like me otherwise not only will you burn yourself, when you cut into it, it will be soft and you won't get nice perfect slices).

Bon Appétit ♥

Tip: If there is left over batter because your bread tin is too small, then pour into individual muffin tins - I actually prefer it this way because that way you don't even need to bother to slice it up and its easier to take to work for morning tea the next day! ;)

Pear and Raspberry Bread-4

This is a great recipe, its not too sweet and every now and again you get bursts of raspberry on a subtle backdrop of pear bread, which is great because I thought the pear would be very overpowering but its not. Also for all those who don't like cooked fruit (which I attribute to the mushy texture it can sometimes have) this will be perfect for you because its not mushy at all and the combo just works so well, as... it IS the bread rather than being bits of mushy pear in bread. Enjoy! xx

Pear and Raspberry Bread-5

October 24, 2010

Buttermilk Scones

When I was young, I went through a phase where all I wanted to eat were scones. I remember I would nag mum to take me to Bakers Delight all the time. I remember one day, I decided to try to make some but it was a total disaster.... the scones were dry and very hard, needless to say it scarred me and I have not attempted to make any since.... until now.

Buttermilk scones-2

These scones are the best thing that has happened to me in a while, they were everything a scone should be, crusty outside, soft insides, delicate yet dense and totally drool worthy! (My brother ate 5 scones in one sitting) The buttermilk gives it a very subtle milky/buttery flavour without being too greasy or over powering. They were just divine straight out of the oven with slashings of strawberry jam and double whipped cream melting into my fingers.. YUM!

Buttermilk scones-1

Buttermilk Scones
Adapted from 'Sweet Old-Fashion Favourites' by Women's Weekly

3 cups self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp icing sugar mixture
60g butter
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 230-240oC. Grease a 23 cm square slab cake pan (can also just use any rectangle pan)

Sift dry ingredients into large bowl, rub in butter. Stir enough buttermilk to mix to a soft sticky dough.

Turn dough onto a floured surface, knead until smooth. (Note: don't add too much flour whilst kneading or the scones will be dry - trick is sprinkle flour onto the dough to stop it sticking to the surface. The middle should be still sticky but should hold together.)

Press/roll dough out to 2 cm thickness and cut into 5.5 cm rounds.

Place rounds in the prepared pan; bake for about 15-20 mins until tops are golden brown.

Serve with jam and whipped double cream (or whatever condiments tickle your fancy... nutella perhaps? ;) )

Bon Appétit ♥

Buttermilk scones-3

October 18, 2010

Fudgy Rich Brownies

So I've been a little lazy lately and haven't been posting ... but can anyone blame me? .. The weather has been sooo good lately and I've been engrossed in either attending a Sydney food blogger's picnic, eating the town away with the SIFF festivities going on or horse riding....

But to share a little something special with you all... here is my favourite brownie recipe. It was once given to me by a dear friend - G and I've held it very close to my heart ever since ♥

Fudgy Rich Brownies-1

Fudgy Rich Brownies

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain flour
Chocolate chips (or chunks of your favourite chocolate - I usually use about 3/4 of a chopped up block of milk Cadbury but feel free to go crazy or less crazy... what ever floats your boat)

Preheat oven to 180oC. Line a square cake tin with baking paper.

Melt butter with cocoa in a medium sized pot over medium heat.

Once butter has melted, remove pot from heat and stir in sugar. Then mix in the eggs. Then flour, mixture should be thick and rich.

Pour mixture into the lined tin and spread so that it is of even thickness. Push your chocolate pieces into the mixture so that it covers the chocolate.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins until it is firm to touch. Note: Don't over cook the brownies or you wont get the soft chewy fudgy centre.

Remove from oven let cool slightly and cut into 4 x 4 squares (or what ever shape you want).

Bon Appétit x

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I usually make 2 or 3 times the recipe above because everytime these little babies go soo quickly. They're rich but not too sweet and chewy but not gooey... I absolutely love them!! Another great thing about them? It's so quick and easy to whip up and there's minimal washing up to do because its all mixed in one pot! Booya! Win on all fronts! .. Cherish it! x

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Another little thing I want to share with you all are the flowers I've received lately, theyre absolutely stunning, don't know what the real name is but I dub them "Avatar Flowers" ♥

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Fudgy Rich Brownies-5

October 4, 2010

My Awesome Bolognese

Ok, so I'm not a bragger but this bolognese recipe is seriously the best and my favourite of all time. I love it because its jam packed with flavour and it is sooo versatile! The chilli adds a bit of a kick to it and really lifts the dish from ordinary "Spagh Bol" to a "Blow your Mind" gourmet pasta dish! ... I've kept this as a secret recipe for too long.. it is unfair to be so selfish, so I've decided to share with you all! Afterall, everyone needs a good bolognese recipe in their repertoire, hope this can be yours too! x



Rhonda's Awesome Bolognese

3 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp extra
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 sprigs Thyme - remove leaves off the stem
handful of Basil leaves
handful of Oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
1 can (800g) whole tomatoes
500g pork & veal mince
1/4 cup red wine
2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
salt & pepper


Heat oil in a medium pot with onions, garlic and bay leaves until onions turn translucent.

Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and break up the whole tomatoes with the back of a fork, bring to the boil.

Once it has reached boiling point reduce heat, let simmer for about 40 mins - 1 hr until it is reduced. At this point, throw in your herbs, chilli (if using - you can turn the heat up or down to your liking by adding more or less chilli flakes) and wine and simmer for about another 15 mins. Remove bay leaves.

Whilst your sauce is simmering, heat the extra 1 Tbsp oil in a fry pan. Cook the mince until browned all over. Add the sauce to the meat and stir. Season with salt and pepper.

Serving suggestions:
Traditional - Over some pasta with freshly grated parmesan
Funky - as the meat filling for lasagna
Naughty - over some buttered toast after a big night out... best hang over breakfast EVER!

* If the sauce gets too acidic, add some sugar to balance out the flavour.
* This sauce tastes better the next day as all the flavours have developed and matured.
* Make a large pot over the weekend and place serving portions into ziplock bags, then place in the freezer for easy hearty microwave meals during the weekdays.

Bon Appétit ♥


P.S: Incase you're wondering, that awesome bottle of wine in the picture above is David Hook's Rosé 2010, it is so incredibly light and easy to drink, perfect for the warm weather coming up! xx

September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge - September 2010

This is my first ever Daring Bakers Challenge!! Hooray! This month's challenge is Decorated Sugar Cookies with the theme of "September" in mind and for all those down under, September means the start of Spring!

Sugar Cookies-42

The cookies that I made are in the shapes of butterflies, dragonflies and hearts. I always tend to think of lush green fields, full of beautiful blossoming flowers with cute little butterflies when I think of Spring. To me it is the prettiest season of the year and I love it because of the awesome sunshine and warm weather it brings!

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Sugar Cookies-28

For the challenge we had to use Peggy Porschen's cookie recipe:

Basic Sugar Cookies
Makes Approximately 36 x 10cm cookies

200g / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp Plain Flour
200g / 1 cup Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted)
Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture.
Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5m. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Leave to cool on cooling racks.
Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

• Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
• It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.
• Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.

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To decorate, instead of using just royal icing I also opted to cover the cookies with Marshmallow fondant and edible glitter as well.

Royal Icing
Adapted from Joy Of Baking
315g – 375g Icing Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Beat on low until combined and smooth.
Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.

• Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Marshmallow Fondant
Adapted from Cake Journal

230 g White Marshmallows (I usually just 2 x packets of the pink & white marshmallows and use all the white marshmallows for one batch and the pink ones for another batch - that way I don't even need to colour the white marshmallows to get pink coloured fondant)
2 Tbsp Water
450g - 900g Icing sugar sifted (plus extra for kneading)
Spray oil
Food colors or cocoa powder (Flavouring optional)

Put the marshmallows in a heatproof bowl and add the water. Put the bowl in the microwave oven and heat it for approx. 2 mins. until the marshmallows puff up.

Stir the marshmallows until they get smooth. This is the time where you can add your chosen food color/cocoa powder or give it flavour. Note: Color the mixture a bit stronger than desired. You can always make the color lighter afterwards by mixing it with white marshmallow fondant.

Now add the icing sugar and stir the mixture with a well greased spoon. Keep adding icing sugar until it looks like a dough. Turn out the “dough” on a greased work board and with your hands greased with spray oil start kneading the marshmallow fondant. Keep adding a little icing sugar at a time until it is not sticky anymore.

Be careful not to use all the icing sugar as to much icing sugar can makes it too dry. It is ready when it feels pliable and ready to roll. If you are not using the marshmallow fondant straight away then rub a bit of spray oil on it and wrap it in cling-film and seal it in a airtight bag.

Note: Some uses the marshmallow fondant right away but I prefer to let it rest for a day before use.

If your marshmallow fondant feels very hard you can always warm it up in the microwave for a few sec. at a time. Then it should be more pliable to work with.

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I had so much fun making these cookies! Hope you all do too!! And a very big thank you to Mandy from What the Fruitcake?! for hosting! x

p.s - Another awesome idea for these beautiful little cookies is they can be given as party bags for kids birthdays or even bombonieres for a wedding.. all you need to do is change the shape of the cookie to what ever you please.. the possiblities are endless!! :)

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The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

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