Saturday is for pancakes, Sunday is for bacon and eggs

bacon and eggs

I love on the weekends having time to make a really nice big breakfast, most people who know me know that in our household pancakes rule the breakfast choices on Saturday. But Sunday, well Sunday is for bacon and eggs.

One Sunday recently we sat down for bacon and eggs and assorted accompaniments and I looked at the plate and started to think about what makes the perfect bacon and egg breakfast.

Obliviously it starts with the bacon. Good quality Australian bacon is a MUST. My butcher does pretty good bacon, all made on site, the rashes are not too thin and not to thick and taste amazing. The only flaw is that they are short cut bacon rashes and my husband in particular misses the crispy fattiness of the middle bacon rashes.

Eggs well it’s a given they should be free range, and free range as in really free range, not oh look we meet some flimsy guidelines so can stamp free range on the carton, but ones that come from a farm that actually give their chickens access to free range. We are lucky that we have our own chickens who give us the best eggs. How you cook the eggs is up to you, we prefer to have ours scrambled. Usually I whisk up some eggs with a bit of cream, melt some butter in a saucepan, add eggs and stir with via wooden spoon till done. I’ve even been known the add in some pesto and fetta too.

Tomatoes, now some people grill this or fry them up, but I prefer to drizzle them in olive oil and sprinkle some fresh basil on them and roast them. Obliviously if you are doing whole or even halved tomatoes this takes a bit of time and planning, but I’m not an organised person so usually just throw some cherry tomatoes in the oven as they roast in no time.

For me spinach is a must (for husband it’s a avoid at all costs). Fav way to cook it for breakfast is to sauté it in butter and an whole garlic clove (discard garlic when serving)

And lastly there needs to be toast. Preferably thick cut sourdough toast, with butter, real proper fantastic tasting butter. Others in the family also put things like, honey, jam vegemite etc. on their toast. Not me, when it comes to bacon and eggs I like it with just plain butter.

Others might add sausages or mushroom or even a has brown and I’ve been known to add corn fritter to the list of things on the plate. But what’s above well I think that makes a pretty perfect bacon and egg breakfast.

Cherry and Vanilla Jam

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My kids adore strawberry picking and lucky for me I’m rather fond of it too. The strawberries are so warm and sweet and delicious when freshly picked. So I found myself venturing out with the kids strawberry picking one fine sunny day after Christmas. We picked just under 4 kilograms of strawberries which I’m quite sure if I let them my kids would have eaten them all in one go.

(stay with me we’re getting to the cherry part soon)

Now to get to the strawberry picking it requires one to drive up the freeway and along narrow winding roads in the hills which surround our fair city. Husband normally performs this duty but he was working so it feel to me the nervous hill driver to get us there. And of course I did. Now flushed with success of driving up into the hills I thought why waste it by just strawberry picking lets go cherry picking (plus kids had never seen a cherry tree before). So armed with directions and instructions from a friend we set out to find us a pick your own cherry farm. A few stops for map consultation and playground playing we found a lovely little place. There were row after row of different varieties of cherries all perfectly ripe. The kids were and I picked over 2.5 kilograms of delicious cherries.

Now although my husband loves them and I’ve recently rediscovered them I wasn’t sure we could eat that many. So I hit my recipe books trying to find something to cook with them. I found lots of baking recipes, the problem was we were hit with an insane heat wave and there was no way the oven was going on. Ummm what was I going to do with these cherries. So I put out the call if anyone had made cherry jam, did some googling got some advice and set out to make me some jam.

I used just over 300 g pitted cherries and 275g jam sugar because some recipes said to use 3/4 the amount of sugar then amount of cherries but then some didn’t so I kinda reduced the sugar by a bit.

Cherry and Vanilla Jam (makes 1 250ml jar)
325g pitted cherries
275g jam sugar (the sugar with the pectin in it, if you don’t have this you could use normal sugar and ad din some pectin)
1 vanilla bean
squeeze of lemon juice

Roughly chop the cherries

Put in pan with sugar and vanilla bean. Mix and begin to bring to boil, when it was just on the verge of boiling I mashed the mixture with a potato masher to break down the fruit a bit more not essential if you prefer your jam chunkier.

Once boiling simmer for 10 minutes or until spoonful of jam forms a skin or thickens when placed on cold plate.

Bottle in sterilised jar.

Enjoy

Champagne Ice Cream

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I love champagne, there I’ve said it.

Maybe it’s clichéd, lady in her mid 30’s loving champagne, but it’s quite hard to find a bad champagne. Don’t get me wrong there are some average ones out there, but hardly any I’d class as bad. Plus it’s so celebratory drinking it. Perfect for so many occasions, catching up with friends, tick, enjoying pre dinner drinks, tick, Christmas day drinks, tick.

Last year before Christmas I became obsessed with the idea of making champagne ice cream. I had it in my head would go well with Christmas pudding. So after a fair few attempts (some ending in scrambled eggs) I made a good batch, taste tested it on my work colleagues, then made some for Christmas day, where I served it up with the Christmas pudding and……..

It went amazingly well with Christmas pudding.

There’s just one thing about the champagne ice cream, it requires 1/2 cup of champagne, this leaves an awful lot of a bottle left over. I’m sure like me you don’t want to waste it, so enjoy the rest of the champagne whilst the ice cream is chilling.

Champagne Ice Cream – adapted from Gourmet Traveller

1/12 cups cream

1/2 cup champagne (like most things related to cooking and wine, don’t use anything too cheap and nasty)

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

Combine cream and champagne in a sauce pan and just being to boil.

Meanwhile whisk egg yolks and sugar in bowl sitting over simmering water, whisk until pale and creamy.

Add eggs and sugar mixture to cream and champagne mixture. Whisk to combine. Heat over a medium heat, stirring with spoon, unlit thickened and coating back of spoon. Be careful with this as if you take it too far, it will scramble the eggs in the mixture.

one thickened put into bowl (not glass or ceramic) and put bowl into cold water and stir for a couple of minutes (you want to cool it down and prevent further cooking).

Once mixture is no longer hot, pop into fridge until cold. then churn in ice cream maker, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, that’s ok just beat it with beater, op in freezer 30 min, then beat again, repeat 3-4 times. Freeze until fully frozen.

Serve with Christmas pudding, Enjoy.

Part of the Sweet Adventure Blog Hop Sweets For Santa Hosted by the Hungry Australian

SABH 12 12 Santa 150 Fig, Raspberry & Ginger Ice Cream Cake (Sweets for Santa)

375 ml (1½ cups)                     pouring cream
                    125 ml (½ cup)                     Champagne
                    4                     egg yolks
                    110 gm (½ cup)                     caster sugar

Pear and Vanilla Vodka Granita with Sweetend Lemon Scented Cream

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A while ago on the Sundays with Joy facebook group they made espresso granita with sweet lemon cream. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like coffee, so I really didn’t want to make it as well its coffee flavoured. However I did play around and make granita based on a cocktail I had recently had. At the time I didn’t blog about it as it was the middle of winter and I had a couple of other posts on the go.

Well Summer’s got off to an early start here, cue ridiculous heat and some humidity. So I thought it might be time to revisit it. Its prefect for summer as its cold, icy and refreshing. It’s also really really really easy to make. You are pretty much mixing a few liquid ingredients, freezing then topping with some whipped cream sweetened with lemon infused sugar.

It’d be a delightful dinner party desert and its easy put sounds really fancy.

I’m giving you a recipe but I suggested tasting it and adding more of less of the ingredients to taste

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2 types of vodka (winner) plus the always fancy sounding elderflower cordial are amongst the ingredients

Pear and Vanilla Vodka Granita with sweetened lemon scented cream recipe adapted from Joy The Baker Cook Book

2 cups warm water

70ml of pear vodka

30ml of vanilla vodka

50 ml elderflower cordial

30ml lemon juice

1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 cups cream

3 tbls sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

In a glass bowl dissolve sugar in water, leave to cool for a bit

Add vodkas, elderflower cordial and lemon juice, mix taste and adjust if required.

Put in freezer, after 1 hour take out and scrape and break up with a fork (what you don’t want to happen is for it to freeze into a solid mass, which is probably unlikely with all the vodka), put back in freezer. After 30 mins take out and scrap with fork again. Leave 3-4 hours until frozen into flaky crystals.

Once it’s all frozen  and flaky, it can stay like this for a few day.

When ready to serve, put sugar into mortar and pestle with lemon zest, lightly pound together to release oils form lemon.

Whipped cream for 1 min, then add sugar, keep whipping until peaks form.

fill glasses with granita, and top with dollop of lemon scented cream.

Enjoy on a hot night.

Candy Cane Infused Vodka

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas (cue music)

No really it is, there are decorations up in all the shops and here in the city I live in Christmas has been heralded in by the annual Christmas pageant which is one of the biggest, if not the biggest Christmas pageants in the world. Its huge and this year over 350 000 people turned out to watch it (that’s like 1/3 of the city’s population).

Tradition growing up was that we put the Christmas tree up on pageant day, and I’ve continued this tradition with my kids. We blast out the Christmas music (much to my husband’s horror), and set to work putting up and decorating the tree and much of the house. We even had our outside lights up on the same day. Whilst that sounds impressive it’s really 2 strands of solar powered lights which over time have become entangled with a climbing rose and wisteria so we can’t actually pack them up, so all actually do is flick the on switch.

One of my new Christmas traditions is to make candy cane infused vodka. I got the idea to make it whilst listening to the Joy the Baker podcast and Joy and co host Tracey were talking about making infused vodka. I thought candy cane infused vodka would make an amazing present. I was wrong on 2 counts with this. I envisioned little jar of candy canes surrounded by vodka, reality the vodka essentially melts the candy canes within hours so its becomes a pink, sticky vodka mixture. The second reason is the smell. The permit in the candy canes combines with the vodka to make a scent one what one might tactfully call super charged mouth wash. I’ve totally put you off making it now haven’t I, well stick with me on this.

Ok so it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but not being one to waste vodka I put out the call on facebook as to what I could drink it with. A very wise and knowledgeable friend suggested apple juice. So I bought some apple juice and mixed a shot of the candy cane vodka in with a glass of apple juice and hello new favourite Christmas drink. The peppermint worked really well with the apple juice. I’, thinking about this year taking it a bit further and making full cocktail using the vodka, so I’m all up for suggestions on things to mix with the candy cane vodka.

I’m not going to give you a recipe for this as it’s so easy. You just need a glass jar, vodka ( go with mid range stuff) and candy canes. Simply put candy canes in jar pour in vodka so it comes almost all the way up to the top of candy canes (I used 7 full sized candy canes in a 500ml jar then just poured in vodka till almost up to top of candy canes), put lid on leave in dark place for 3-4 weeks shaking every couple of days and ta do, candy cane vodka.

Cinnamon Cake

I’ve been experiencing a bit of meh in the kitchen recently. I really haven’t had that much desire to cook/bake. I mean I’ve been cooking dinners and making lunches etc. but I’ve been doing this more because it has to be done then a burning desire to cook. Perhaps life’s just been to chaotic and tiring I’m not sure what was behind it but this week I got my baking mojo back. I’ve made a couple of cakes and have been pursing recipe books feeling enticed to bake and cook other things. It’s good to be back in my kitchen happy place.

One of the cakes I made is a cinnamon cake. It has a layer of chocolate and cinnamon sugar in the middle and chocolate icing and was really really delicious.

Cinnamon Cake – recipe adapted from Dorrie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours

1 1/4 + 2 tbls cups of sugar

1 tbls + 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

125g + 2 tbls butter, melted

90g dark chocolate chopped

preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease a square cake tin.

stir 2 tbls sugar, 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon together

whisk together flour, baking powder and remaining cinnamon. In another bowl mix together eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture.

Fold in butter. it will look like it won’t mix together but just keep gently folding it in. it will end up a nice shiny batter.

Pour 1/2 batter in cake tin. Sprinkle chocolate over batter, the sprinkle cinnamon sugar. Top with remaining batter.

Bake approx. 40 minutes or until done (skewer will come out clean). Cool in tin 15 mins then turn out onto cooling rack.

Icing

180g dark chocolate

2 1/2 tbl butter softened and cut into pieces.

heat chocolate until it’s almost all melted (I do this in short 30 sec bursts in microwave). Stir in butter, finish melting chocolate, you don’t want it really melted and runny, so if it’s like that just leave it for a few minutes so it’s a bit thicker and easier to work with.. Spread on top of cooled cake. leave to harden up at room temp.

Raspberry Cream Powder Puffs

I’ve really been wanting to make jam tarts. I gave it a go earlier this year with pretty average results. Now on that particular occasion I should have taken it as an omen as I made them for a picnic at the moonlight cinema where on the night we went we got drenched by rain.

Given the failure with my first go at baking jam tarts it’s taken me a while to get up the courage again, but when I saw the theme for this month’s Sweet Adventures blog hop was high tea I thought yes, I small conquer jam tarts. But alas it was not meant to be, as while I was flicking through cookbooks looking for recipes I came across a recipe for mulberry cream powder puffs (or are they sponge kisses?), Mulberries are in season at the moment and dotted all round my neighbourhood are mulberry bushes hanging over front fences laden with fruit. I’ll admit I’ve sampled some of the mulberries hanging over fences but in this case didn’t actually have any. While it crossed my mind to go mulberry picking I thought I might look a bit odd wandering around the neighbourhood stealthy picking mulberries. So I decided to make these powder puffs with raspberries instead as I had some in the freezer.

They were amazing, very high tea worthy, light, delicate, pretty and delicious.

Raspberry Cream Powder Puffs –  recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Baking Day

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbls cornflour

2 tbls plain flour

2 tbls self raising flour

1/2 cup cream

1 tbls icing sugar

1/2 cup of raspberries (or berries of choice)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease two 12 hole shallow patty pans

Beat eggs and sugar until thick pale and creamy.

Triple sift flours then add the egg mixture. Carefully fold in flour. Don’t be to gung ho or else you’ll knock the air out of the mixture.

Drop tablespoons of mixture on to patty pan holes.

Bake 12 mins. Once done turn onto cooling rack.

If like me you only had 1 shallow patty tin you’ll need to wash it, dry it re grease it and bake the second batch.

Once the powder puffs are cool, whip the cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. Gently fold in raspberries. If using frozen berries which you have defrosted be really gently otherwise they’ll fall apart if you are too rough mixing them in.

Sandwich 2 powder puffs together with raspberry cream, repeat with other. Dust with icing sugar.

Make a cup of tea to go with them, hide form children and enjoy

Sweet Adventures October 2012 - High Tea

Part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop – High Tea host by Le Delicieux

Biscuits – roll them out, cut them up into shapes kind

Right it’s the second week of school holidays here.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had time off from work these holidays so I’ve been with the kids every day of the holidays. It’s been lovely to spend time with the kids, but when you’re peppered by chorus of I’m bored, what can I do, plus add one autistic child thrown out of routine into the mix and the 2 weeks can seem long time.

So in order to combat the boredom these holidays we’ve been making the most of this lovely spring bordering on summer weather and doing lots of outside stuff. We’ve been hiking to see waterfalls and as a bonus saw koalas, been on waterslides, been to the beach, gardened together, had picnics, visited play grounds. But we’ve also had some indoor time too doing arts and crafts and cooking in the kitchen. We’ve made butter from scratch, baked cakes and made biscuits. I made these at the kids request as they wanted a biscuit they could write their names with. So I pulled out my stock standard rollout and cut up shapes biscuit recipe and out came our newly acquired alphabet biscuit cutters and we made biscuits.

I love the smell of butter and vanilla and all the ingrediants created a very tasty dough.

Roll out, cut out biscuits – recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson How to be a Domestic Goddess

175g butter at room temp

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g flour

1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Beat in eggs one at a time then beat in vanilla

Mix together flour and baking powder and add into wet ingredients. Mix until dough starts to form. I usually tip it out onto a kitchen bench while it’s almost a bit crumbly and then shape into 2 discs. wraps each disc in cling wrap and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Once chilled its ready to roll out. I roll mine out between 2 lightly floured pieces of baking paper and roll till about 1/2 cm thick. cut out into desired shapes using biscuit cutters. left over dough can be reworked together and rolled out again.

Place shapes on baking paper lined tray and bake for approx 10-15 mins, or until lightly browned. leave to cool on trays for about 5 mins before moving to a cooling rack.

Strawberry and Lemon Lime Melting Moments

Spring is here!

Ok one might say sprint started just under a month ago at the beginning of September, but now, just in the last couple of weeks or so it really feel like the season has changed. The days are getting longer and there is real warmth in the suns rays.

There’s oh so many flowers around. Just in my small front yard alone there is a delightful combination of wisteria, jasmine, daisies, roses, lavender, geraniums all blissfully flowering.

It’s probably because of all the flowers and lovely green shoots that I think spring is pretty and feminine. Much like these melting moments. They are all pretty with the different colours and say eat me outside in the sun with a cup of tea. Of course most importantly they are delicious.

Strawberry and Lemon Lime Melting Moments – recipe adapted from Super Food Ideas August 2012

Biscuit

250g butter softened

1/2 cup icing sugar (I used icing mixture because that’s all I had it worked out fine)

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups plain flour

2/3 cup cornflour

Preheat you oven to 180 degrees, line a couple of baking trays with baking paper

Sift icing sugar into to butter and add vanilla beat until light and fluffy

Sift in flour and corn flour, mix to form soft dough

Roll a tablespoon of the dough until a ball, place on baking tray, repeat until mixture is used up making sure you leave space between each ball. What you want to is make sure the balls are all about the same size, as this will give you biscuits of the same size which is easier for sandwiching together with filling. Once you’ve done that, press down lightly on each ball with a fork to flatten it. Bake in oven swapping trays around 1/2 way through cooking until lightly golden, about 15 mins.

Filling

60g softened butter

1 cup icing sugar/icing mixture

1 tsp strawberry essence

pink food colouring

1tsp finely grated lemon rind

1/2 tps finely grated lime rind

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar in, beat until combined. Put 1/2 mixture into another bow. Add strawberry essence and pink food colouring and mix well. Add lemon and lime rind to remaining icing mixture.

Spread the icing mixture over the flat side of 1/2 biscuits (probably don’t put the strawberry icing on the same biscuits as the lemon lime icing because I’m thinking it might not taste so good). Sandwich the remaining biscuits flat side down on top of iced biscuits.

Eat outside in the sun with a cup of tea

Blue Ribbon Baking- My Royal Show Baking

If you’ve been living under a rock this week in Adelaide the Royal Adelaide Show was been on. For those of you outside Australia it’s similar to a State Fair. About 500 000 people attend the show. There’s rides, show bags, animals, wood chopping, fireworks food, wine, a cornucopia of stalls selling stuff and an incredible variety of competition categories form including cookery.

Last year we had a look at the baking entries and I thought I reckon I could give that a go, so this year I did. for most of the open cookery there is no qualify you just fill out your entry form and pay your entry fee and turn up on allocated day with your baked goodies.

Instead of starting small and entering 1 category I thought I’d tempt a baking induced nervous breakdown and enter 3 categories. Chocolate cake, carrot cake and Anzac biscuits. I bake really good version of these (see my Anzac Biscuits post) so thought I’d give it go.

In the months leading up to it I was intent on baking these things often to get a consistent result. I didn’t bake them as much as I really should have but people I’d still have to suffer through multiple tastings of these baked goodies. My husband at present can’t really face another Anzac biscuit.

So I had the day off work the day before I had to enter my goods. I imagined the day being spent listening to some tunes while I got my bake on. In fact it started with a dog chicken disaster and a sick child at home. None the less behind schedule I started baking. My first carrot cake was good as was my first batch of Anzac biscuits. The chocolate cake however was a complete and utter failure. It fell apart as I was getting it out of the cake tin. I also wasn’t happy with how high it had risen. So back to the drawing board I used another recipe with some modifications. it rose well, but then it too fell apart coming out of the tin. I drunk what seems a bazillion cups of tea and lunch had been cake batter so I was feeling all nervous and jittery on a caffeine/sugar high and getting panicked by the chocolate cake. So I baked another batch of Anzac biscuits which again worked well, then gave the chocolate cake a third time lucky go. Hallelujah it worked. I hadn’t put walnuts in my first carrot cake so thought I might make another with walnuts. By this time it was 9pm and I was all baked out. I put the walnuts in the cake, but forgot the bi carb/orange juice mixture. I realised this after I’d just popped the cake in the oven so pulled it out and stirred it through. But when I go the cake out of the tin it looked 2 toned as I hadn’t stirred it through thoroughly. But I had my first carrot cake so all good. I then iced the carrot cake and chocolate cake without incident (a miracle given it was near 11pm)

So after 12 hours baking and an insane amount of eggs, flour, butter and sugar later I was all done .

I lined up with everyone else to drop off their baked goods the next day. Which was itself fascinating seeing all the people with all their cooked goods, as well as seeing frantic last minute preparations for setting up the show

Well how’d I go? No ribbons for me as you can see in the picks below my entries were different form the winning entries. But I’m ok with that. I’m more impressed that I did it.

My Anzac biscuits

The winning Anzac biscuits (noticeably smaller)

My chocolate cake

The winning chocolate cake

My carrot cake

Th wining one (clearly the cute little carrots on the icing were a winner)

Would I enter again, sure, next year I’m aiming to enter the Anzac biscuits because mine were pretty damn good, just bigger than the ribbon winners, the rock cakes and lamingtons (see my blog post for my amazing lamingtons).