Monday, November 23, 2015

Cardamom Pear Muffins (SRC)

It's Secret Recipe Club time again! Each month a dedicated group of bloggers are assigned a blog in secret to peruse and cook from, and then we all post on the same day. Today is reveal day for group D.

This month I was assigned Nicole's blog Hapatite and wow was I in for a treat. Hapatite ("hapa" meaning half or of mixed racial heritage and "tite" meaning appetite) is an absolute treasure-trove of amazing recipes, all drawing upon her family's Chinese, Cherokee, German and Hawaiian American background. As you can imagine this makes for some fabulous food!

One dish that really caught my eye was Nicole's take on char siu chow fun which is served for Chinese New Year.  But then I also loved her Baked Onion Rings and homemade Filet-o-Fish which was my go-to late night meal back in my uni days!

Nicole is also something of a tea connoisseur and has reviewed some really interesting tea blends. My favourite was the Candied Chestnut Tea and I wish it was available here! I really love tea and have an ever-growing collection of herbal teas so this made for some great reading.

As usual though I was on the hunt for kid-friendly snack ideas and you can't beat a muffin. Enter these Cardamom Spiced Pear Muffins.

Cardamom is one of those spices that seems to get overlooked. I remember making a cardamom cake years ago that I absolutely loved but I haven't really used it since, apart from in curries.

These muffins were absolutely delicious. The cardamom added a complexity of flavour that I wasn't expecting yet it wasn't overpowering, probably because it was paired with cinnamon and nutmeg (and the clove that I added because I love it). My boys loved these and as usual I wished I'd made a double batch because they disappeared way too quickly.

Cardamom Pear Muffins
Slightly adapted from Hapatite

2 cups self raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour + 1 tbs baking powder)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
85g softened butter
2 large eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
1 ts ground cardamom
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts nutmeg
1/4 ts ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup rice milk soured with 1 ts apple cider vinegar)
1 large pear, just ripe, cut into small dice

Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius fan-forced.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the spices and mix well.

Fold through 1/2 the flour followed by 1/2 the buttermilk, then repeat with the remainder.

Fold through the pear pieces.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely (or just eat warm as they are amazing straight from the oven!!).

Thanks for a great month and a delicious recipe Nicole!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Creamiest Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Creamiest Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Happy November everyone! I never intended to be absent so long but life got busy, as it tends to do this time of year. Anyway you'll be glad I'm back because this ice cream is awesome and perfect for the stinking hot weather we're having at the moment (33 degrees C right now if anyone else is a weather tragic like me!)

So ice cream without dairy can be a little tricky, it can swing between too icy or too coconutty (totally a word) pretty quickly. But as 3 out of 5 of us are dairy free I've done a lot of experimenting. You're welcome.

My kids claimed this was the best chocolate ice cream ever and their chocolate covered faces spoke volumes. It was smooth and luscious and intensely chocolatey. The perfect antidote to a hot summer's day.

The weather made it impossible to get a picture before it melted (that and the kids kept opening the freezer every 5 minutes to check if it was ready!)

Make this. It's really good.

Creamiest Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

400g tin coconut cream
400g rice milk (or any dairy-free milk you like)
2 eggs
2 heaped tbs raw cacao
2 tbs arrowroot
120g rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
2 ts vanilla extract
pinch salt

TMX - place all ingredients in mixing bowl and cook 9 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 4.

Don't have a thermomix? Warm the milks in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile in a medium heatproof bowl, beat together all remaining ingredients. Pour the warmed milks into the other ingredients whisking continuously. Tip the mixture back into the saucepan and stir over medium heat with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon, 5-10 minutes.

Pour the custard into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature before placing into the fridge and leaving to chill for at least 4 hours. Make sure you press some baking paper over the surface of the custard to stop it drying out.

Once the custard is completely cold, pour into your ice cream maker and churn for approximately 15 minutes or according to the manufacturer's instructions. It will be soft-serve consistency at this stage so pop it in a glass container in the freezer for a few hours before serving (if you can wait that long).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies (SRC)

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies © 

The last month has been really busy around here. We're 2 weeks into the term and still feel a bit all over the place and not back into our usual routine. My recipe choice for this month's Secret Recipe Club is perhaps indicative of my state of mind at the moment. Here Spring has arrived with a vengeance - the weather has warmed up and the jacarandas are in full bloom - but I'm still making soups and stews and feeling like hibernating. I think it's the stress and busy-ness of moving house that has finally caught up with me!

So when I was assigned Palatable Pastime by Sue for SRC this month it wasn't her amazing array of salads like Apple-Fennel Salad with Almonds that I was drawn to, it was heartier fare like Corned Beef Hash and Rustic Tortellini Soup. As usual though I needed an idea for an after school snack so I started looking for something sweet and ended up making 2 related recipes.

Pumpkin really hasn't caught on here in Australia as an ingredient for sweet dishes. You will never find canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice on the shelves. I decided to finally remedy that and make my first batch of pumpkin pie spice to enjoy whenever I like.

Pumpkin Pie Spice ©

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Recipe from Palatable Pastime

1/2 cup cinnamon
5 tbs ginger
1 tbs nutmeg
2 ts allspice
2 ts ground cloves

Makes 1 cup (I plan on using lots of this over the coming months but Sue's post also gives instructions for smaller quantities as well).

And what to make with this fabulous blend of spices? I couldn't go past Sue's Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies (yep I definitely have a bit of a peanut butter obsession but lucky my kids do too!)

Whether you have access to canned pumpkin puree or not, it is so, so easy to make your own. Simple steam or bake some pumpkin, throw it in a blender or food process and puree until smooth. That's it!

how to make pumpkin puree ©

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Palatable Pastime

60g softened butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
1/2 ts sea salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and beat well.

Add the pumpkin puree, peanut butter, salt and spice and mix until well combined.

Next fold through the flour to form a thick and sticky dough.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the prepared trays.

Dip a fork into some extra coconut sugar and press the cookies flat with a criss-cross pattern.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24 cookies.

Thanks for 2 great recipes Sue! My kids and I LOVED these crispy edged-chewy middle cookies and I am such a fan of the pumpkin pie spice.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Noah turns 2! and a Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake

You know what they say about best laid plans? Well that was us this week. I had planned the most delicious carrot, orange and ginger layer cake for Noah's birthday and guess what happened. Our oven died. Right in the middle of cooking pizza for dinner 2 days before his birthday. We saved the pizza by cutting it into pieces and cooking them individually in our sandwich press. Bit hard to make a cake like that though!

After a bit of panic and a lot of searching I decided it would be easiest to make a frozen cake of some sort and Wholefood Simply came to the recipe. If you haven't visited this gorgeous blog then you are really missing out.

The recipe I chose was a raspberry cheesecake with chocolate crust which I tweaked a little and decorated to suit a birthday. On that note, a huge happy birthday to our beautiful boy who has filled our lives with such joy these past 2 years. We love you Noah!!

Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust
Slightly Adapted from Wholefood Simply

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup raw almonds
10 dates, seeds removed
1 tablespoons raw cacao

Line the base of a 20cm springform pan with baking paper. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until sticky and well combined. Press firmly into the base of the prepared pan and place in the freezer until required.

Cheesecake – Step 1
2 cups frozen mixed berries
8 dates, seeds removed

Blend all ingredients until well combined, spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Cheescake – Step 2
2.5 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked for a few hours first then drained well)
3 heaped tbs coconut oil
2 ts vanilla extract
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup coconut milk (you may need a little more or less liquid than this so don't add it all at once)

Blend all ingredients until smooth and very well combined. Scrape down the sides of the blender and keep blending until you are happy with the consistency. Add the berry mixture and mix until well combined.  Spread the cheesecake mixture over the base, smooth the top and place in the freezer.

1 1/2 cups cold coconut cream
2 tbs maple syrup
2 ts vanilla extract
1 tbs gelatin

Blend all ingredients until thick and smooth. Pour over the cheesecake mixture and return to the freezer for 4 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer at least 20-30 minutes before serving.

To make the number 2 on top I simply printed a big number 2 and cut it out to form a stencil. Lay the stencil over the cake and dust on some cocoa. Make sure you remove the stencil very carefully (you might need an extra pair of hands for this). Very simple but very effective!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Changes are coming and I need your help!

You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here lately. Well that is partly just life becoming very busy but also because things have been happening behind the scenes at this little blog and there are changes coming!

I've been realising that I actually have a lot to say and that the blog in it's current state doesn't really allow me to say it. I'm passionate about whole foods, kids health and eating well on a budget so that is the direction I will be going in.

To do that I would really, really, REALLY appreciate some feedback from you, my lovely readers. I want to know who you are, why you are here and what your challenges with food are.

The direction I'm going in is very different from where I first started when it was all about baking and lots of sugar! Perhaps if you've been reading for awhile you have also been taking steps to change the way you eat.

So if you have a couple of minutes to spare could you please complete this short survey for me? It will be completely anonymous and won't take much of your time. If you have any problems with it or would like to share anything else with that I haven't asked please email me at AT gmail DOT com.

Thank you so much and stay tuned!

Create your own user feedback survey

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Smoky BBQ Pork Ribs

These smoky pork ribs were a seriously delicious dinner! I actually made these for Fathers' Day way back at the start of September and then with the move forgot to post them. Now there are probably thousands of rib recipes out there and I must have looked at dozens before deciding to just wing it and make something up myself. I didn't want anything too spicy and I didn't want to buy weird ingredients like liquid smoke.

While I'm all for making things from scratch I did use bought sauces for this, namely the Fountain Good Choice tomato and barbecue sauces which I reviewed earlier this year.

I wasn't able to find the American style ribs anywhere (admittedly I left it until the last minute!) so used these Aussie pork spare ribs instead and they worked just as well.

The cooking is done in three stages. First they are left to marinate in the fridge overnight which starts to tenderise the meat, then they are baked in the oven and lastly they are grilled and basted with marinade which makes them charred, sticky and luscious. So good!

I served the ribs with coleslaw, avocado, homemade potato wedges and corn on the cob. Hubby and kids all loved it and there lots of sticky smiles and licked fingers.

Remember to start this recipe a day ahead!

Smoky BBQ Pork Ribs

1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
4 cloves garlic
2 ts smoked paprika
2 ts mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste

1.5 kg pork spare ribs

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large dish and combine well. Add the pork and mix well, massaging the sauce into the meat. Cover the dish with 2 layers of plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius, Line a large baking dish with foil and place a rack on top. Lay out the ribs on the rack, reserving the marinade, season with salt and pepper and cover with foil.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, turning and basting with marinade every 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile tip the remaining marinade into a small pot and bring to the boil for a few minutes, until it has reduced and thickened.

Increase the oven temperature to 200 degrees. Remove the cover from the ribs, brush with extra marinade and bake for another half an hour, turning and basting again halfway OR cook the ribs on a barbecue grill over a flame, turning and basting every 5 minutes or so (this will give best results!).

Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Monday, October 5, 2015

Back to school baking

The last 2 weeks have flown by and here we are on the official last day of the holidays. Which means there are only 10 weeks until Oscar has finished grade 1 and Charlie has finished kindy and then it will be Christmas! Wow. So much to do before then though which is why I made a kickstart today with a marathon of baking.

Today I made:
1 x big batch Chocolate Granola
1 x Banana Bread
1 x Grain free Banana Cupcakes
1 x Almond and Chia Protein Bliss Balls
2 x Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I find having a stash like this in the freezer makes life so much easier. I can quickly grab something sweet to pop in lunchboxes for a treat, there is always something for afternoon tea even if we are home late and I can take a snack for myself if I am going to be out and about (saves buying something!).

Only half the banana bread actually made it to the freezer though as it smelt so good while it was baking and the kids needed morning tea so lucky things enjoyed it still warm with lots of butter (delicious!).

Then later I also prepped some savoury meals to help with lunch and dinners. The back to school routine is always a bit of a shock to our systems and I find dinner ends up getting pushed back later and later which then affects bedtime. So I love having dinners either completely prepared ahead of time, in the slow cooker or half-prepped because it just saves so much time.

For lunch today I cooked some chipolata sausages and saved 6 for Oscar's school lunches. My tip is to always separate out the leftovers you want to keep first before you dish up the meal because that way it's there ready to go and doesn't mysteriously get eaten!

Next I made a huge double batch of meatballs using 1 kg of beef mince, a tin of mixed beans and loads of veggies and herbs. Shape them into balls and place on a tray lined with baking paper and then pop them straight into the freezer (seal them in a bag once they are frozen). We will have some for dinner tonight, have leftovers for hubby and the boys lunches tomorrow and then still have another full dinner's worth in the freezer for another night. I like to bake my meatballs as it lets me cook the whole batch at once and saves on the mess.

Anyone else doing some back to school baking? Do you have any tips for make-ahead cooking and baking?