Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Muffins for the cool kids...

Anyone fancy eating like a caveman?
That’s what one of the latest food fads, paleo, will have you doing.
While we’re at it, if I see another recipe brandishing #cleaneating or #rawfood come across my computer screen I may just scream.
Personally, I like my dairy from cows, my sugar from cane and my flour from grain.
You can keep your nut milks and butters, chocolate substitutes and “natural” sweeteners.
Don’t take that as a swipe at the nut family, because I love nuts and use them a lot in my cooking.
In fact I often use almond meal if I run out of flour, or if I feel like adding that deliciously nutty and mealy texture to a cake, biscuit or slice.
This was one of those occasions – these almond blueberry muffins are gorgeously moist and moorish, yet so simple to make.
You can make your own almond meal by blitzing up some almonds in a processor until you get that mealy consistency.
I guess you could call these muffins gluten free and if you replace the milk with water they would also be dairy free, which is great for those out there that actually suffer from gluten or dairy intolerance (and not just jump-on-board-the-fad-bandwagon syndrome).
Otherwise, just call them muffins and enjoy them. #yum

Almond Blueberry Muffins

2 cups almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup olive oil
3 eggs
1 cup blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a muffin tin with cases (I usually get 8-10 muffins from this mix).
Combine almond meal, baking powder and sugar, whisking to disperse any lumps.
In a jug, whisk together milk, olive oil and eggs before folding into the dry mix until combined.
Fold through berries and spoon mix into prepared tin.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Silky and sweet

AS visitors to my blog will know or as its name might suggest, I don’t usually cook too lavishly but rather I bake good food on an everyday basis to feed myself and the lads in my life.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I do like to get a little bit fancy in the kitchen – provided it’s easy enough and doesn’t take six hours to prepare.
This recipe is a “wait until the little lads are in bed this one is too good for them” kind of deal.
Yes, I regularly hide food from my children.
I strongly believe there are certain things they don’t need to know about yet, like the joys of this magnificent chocolate tart. Because I fear like their mother, they are yet to master the art of self control.
This tart is definitely for sharing with big people because trust me, you will want to show this sucker off. It’s silky, chocolately goodness hugged by pastry. What’s not to love?!

Silky Chocolate Tart

150 g softened butter
100 g caster sugar
225 g plain flour
50 g almond meal
1 egg yolk
Juice of ½ lemon
½tsp vanilla bean paste

200ml full fat milk
250ml cream (I use Bannister Downs)
30g caster sugar
250g dark chocolate – at least 70 per cent solids
2 large eggs

Mix butter and sugar together in a mixer or food processor, add flour and almond meal and mix to combine. Add egg yolk, lemon juice, vanilla and a tablespoon or so of iced water, mixing until the dough comes together. Shape into a disc and wrap in cling wrap, before putting in the fridge to rest for an hour.
Evenly roll out pastry between two sheets of baking paper and gently place into a fluted tart tin (about 24cm). Ensure you have a good fit in your tin before trimming the edges (push, pull and adjust as needed).
Blind bake at 180C for 12 minutes, before taking out the baking paper and whatever you’ve used to weigh it down, before baking for a further 8 minutes or until golden.

For the filling, combine milk, cream and sugar in a saucepan and whisk gently while slowly bringing to the boil. Take off the heat and add chocolate, whisking until smooth before adding the eggs.
The easiest way to pour the filling into the tart case is by placing your case into the oven on a tray and then carefully pouring the filling into the case.
Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes, it should still have a slight wobble to it but will set as it cools.

Serve with a nice blob of cream and enjoy!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A win for the veggie smugglers!

The big lad has a general aversion to anything with obvious vegetables and if he had it his way, would just eat pasta and the occasional sausage for dinner. I'm still winning with the little lad, he just likes food in general - any way he can get it. Although that appetite can sometimes extend past the kitchen into the garden, but I figure some extra veggies will counteract all the rocks and dirt he eats... right?
Anyway, this recipe is a serious brag - I jammed some mashed carrot, spinach, onion, bacon and fetta into some pastry, told the big lad they were "cheesy bacon wraps" and he demolished them. I'll admit, I did tell him, "no, no, that's not carrot, it's just orange cheese..." but he ate it so where's the harm?

Apologies for the dodgy amounts given in the ingredients list, but I kind of just threw it together without paying much attention. The beauty of things like this is, you can just use whatever you have in the fridge and adjust it accordingly!

Veggie Smuggler Parcels (aka cheesy bacon wraps)

1-2 carrots or the equivalent amount of pumpkin
1/2 onion
2 rashers bacon
1 handful baby spinach, chopped roughly
A good chunk of soft feta cheese
1 1/2 - 2 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds (not essential)

Peel and chop veggies and boil in a saucepan of water, until soft. Mash, adding some salt and pepper to taste.
Cook onion and bacon until soft and golden, before adding spinach until wilted. 
Mix the onion and bacon in with the mashed veggies, before crumbling in the feta and mixing well. 
Cut your pastry into triangles (I just cut one sheet diagonally each way to create four triangles) and place some mix in the centre, towards one corner - so you have enough room to fold the pastry without the mix going everywhere. 
Before folding the pastry, brush the edges with egg so it holds. Then fold and press down to seal. Brush the top with egg.
With any remaining pastry, cut shapes and stick them on the top of the pastry - trust me, doing this is a winner. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if you have some handy!
Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.