Vanilla Slice

Next in my adventures in baking the great Australian classics – Vanilla Slice

confession until I made vanilla slice I’d only eaten it once and wasn’t overly impressed.

From what my friend Wikipedia tells me it’s based on a Mille Feuille. This is alternating layers of puff pastry and cream patisserie. A vanilla slice is a simplistic version of this – puff pastry on the bottom, a layer of delicious custard, topped with puff pastry and covered in delicious icing/

This recipes also for those who claim they can’t make custard, because its super easy and you can make custard.

puff pastry action

simple ingrediants for custard

all coming together in

Vanilla Slice

2 sheets puff pastry defrosted

2eggs

5 tbls corn flour

3 cups of milk

3 tbls sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup passionfruit pulp

2 cups icing mixture

preheat oven to 180 degrees

Prick puff pastry with a fork and place in oven. Bake until golden.

cut to size to fit in tin (in this case I used a square cake tin). line tin with a strip of foil or baking paper longer than width of tin (you need it over hang edges of tin). place one sheet of puff pastry on bottom of tin

Whisk eggs cornflour and milk in saucepan. heat over medium heat until it starts to become thick, then whisk in sugar and vanilla. You need the custard to be pretty thick so keep whisking until I gets there.

Pour custard into puff pastry lined tin. {Place second sheet of puff pastry on top.

Put passionfruit pulp into a bowl then mix in 1 cup of icing mixture, keep adding icing mmixture4 a little bit at a time till you get a thick icing, Spread icing over puff pastry. Place in fridge to set

Cut up, eat enjoy

*** if you want to make a pouring custard follow directions above but only use 3 tbls cornflour & 1 tsp vanilla, and heat till it coats back of spoon

*** you can replace passionfruit icing with icing of choice if passionfruit is not your thing

Strawberry and Tim Tam Cheescake

Ok quiz time

What do you get when you cross strawberries, cheesecake and tim tams?

Answer – something utterly delicious that you need to make ASAP (if this was not your answer I’m not sure I can help you).

Today’s offering of a strawberry tim tam cheesecake is not only delicious but utterly easy.

for the base you need 2 ingredients

for the filling just these ingredients

and we are pretty much doing a bit of food processor magic and letting it set. Easy right

Strawberry and Tim Tam Cheesecake

250g Tim Tams (a packet its only 200g so you’ll need 2 packets which will dangerously leave you with most of a packet left over)

2 tbls melted butter

250g Cream Cheese at room temp
1 Punnet of strawberries (you could use raspberries etc although if I were using raspberries I’m inclined to think you’d use the white choc tim tams)
1/3 Cup sugar
300ml thickened cream
1 1/2 tbls of Gelatine
3 tbls of hot water

In a food processor blend biscuits until fine crumbs are formed add butter and process until mixture kinda forms a ball. Press into a springform tin ( I used a 23cm one but I think a slightly smaller one would be better as you’d get a slightly thicker base and higher filling), refrigerate.

Process strawberries and sugar till well mixed, adding cream cheese and blend till smooth.

Sprinkle gelatine over hot water and whisk with a fork until dissolved. Process into the mixture in small quantities (if you add it all in at once into mixture it won’t disperse as well and you’ll get gelatinous chunks, this I found out form experience)

Add thickened cream and process until combined.
Pour over base and refrigerate until set.

Eat with others as dangerously good if alone you’d probably eat more than respectable

SABH August - Berries

Part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop -Berry Nice to Meet You hosted by The Hungry Australian

Sausage Rolls

Everyone can make sausage rolls right, there an Australian classic? Yeah maybe not me. Up until now I’d tried several times to make them with varying degrees of failure. At hearing this people just look at me like I’m crazy and tell me “but they are sausage rolls, they’re so easy to make”.

Based on a conversation like this I set myself a mission to successfully make sausage rolls. I put the call out for hints, tips and recipes for making them and people gave me loads of advice and recipes.

So now I had the problem of lots of recipes. In the end I went with 3 recipes, thinking that at least 1 of them would work out

Guess what they all worked out!!!!

Ingrediants at the ready

The first one I selected was one a delightful colleague at work gave me. it seemed pretty basic, 500g sausage meat, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, herbs and bread crumbs tolled up in puff pastry. How’d it taste? pretty good

The second one was the famed recipe of a friend’s mother. It was pretty basic 500g combination of beef mince and sausage meat, onion, garlic and some dried thyme rolled in puff pastry. How’d it taste? again pretty good

The third one was the Annabel Langbein’s lamb, rosemary and apple sausage rolls. How’d these taste we these were the winners (only just).

Lamb, rosemary and Apple Sausage Rolls recipe adapted from Annabel Laingbein’s The Free Range Cook

400g lamb mince

250g sausage meat

1 apple unpeeled and grated

2 eggs

1 small onion grated

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1/2 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp tomato sauce

2 sheets frozen puff pastry defrosted

preheat oven to 200 C

combine lamb mince, sausage meat, apple, onion, 1 egg, garlic, parsley, rosemary and tomato sauce in a bowl (I just used my hands to mix it all up).

Place mixture along one side of puff pastry roll up to enclose the filling.. I basically just putt filling along one side then rolled it up in whole sheet.

Cut into desired sizes, make a couple of slashes on top of each sausage roll.  Beat remaining egg and brush on top of each sausage roll.

Put onto oven tray and into oven and bake for 35 mins or until golden (which if you have an oven like mine is closer to an hour). They release a bit of fat/liquid soak this up about 10 mins before they are ready to let them really crisp up.

Then eat and enjoy. I also froze these and they defrosted and reheated in the oven really well.

Sundays with Joy – Zucchini Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I’m what one might call an enthusiastic gardener. I have grand plans about growing stuff and plant out, lots of things, but I don’t quite have a green thumb so not everything grows. My vegetable garden attempts are pretty much the same. I often plant out a variety of stuff and some of it grows.

We’ve got 2 smallish veggie garden beds in our garden.

One was larger but as you can see in the background we put in a chicken coup and run. We recently chicken sat a friends chickens while she was on holiday, it went well so we’ll be getting out own. so in front of the chicken run is pretty hot in summer so I’m thinking of planting chillies/capsicum.

At the moment the other garden bed is a mixture of a parsley/kale forest some pea seedlings , which are in a bit late but the kids really wanted to grow them and some tomato seedlings which unlike the peas are probably in too early, as well  garlic in amongst it all. We’ve just fenced this off form our puppy so I’m a bit excited at what we can plant up the fencing wire in summer, probably cucumbers and beans but I’m keen to try melons as well. I suspect we might try to squeeze some corn in there as well as the good ole Zucchinis. I plant them every year and they always grow. At first they seem a bit slow to fruit then suddenly it’s all day of the triffords and they are just going berserk growing massive zucchinis in what seems like a day. This of course gives you a zucchini glut and there is only so much you can give away and put into savoury dishes.

This week the Sundays with Joy Facebook group made Zucchini Cream Cheese Pound Cake which will be perfect for using up the massive glut of zucchini’s.

It was really similar to a carrot cake and I was tempted to put walnuts in it and probably will next time. I iced it with Joy’s brown sugar cream cheese icing which improved on the already yummy cake.

recipe from Joy the Baker cookbook

Sundays with Joy – S’mores Brownies

Food can be a strange thing, but it can also be a historical thing to. I mean what we call biscuits, is known in the UA as cookies, and there biscuits are scone like to us and what they call scones is one big round cut into wedges. Why is this and how did it occur. Some people might not care as long as its tastes good. But I’m sure these subtle food naming difference represent something deeper historically.

This thinking about food history really came about after a colleague went to the USA and reported back about the triangle wedge scones. She said they were similar in texture and taste but not the same as our cones. It posed the question why were scones in USA different from ours. We guessed maybe our strong connection with the English lead us to follow their food and baking traditions long after maybe the Americans had abandoned them. Was it availability of ingredients, was it to serve some other purpose. We couldn’t really get to the bottom of it.

But my point is why food is cooked eaten and named is really a link to the history of a country or region. A dish usually evolves because of need plus available ingredients. So by looking deeper as to why a dish/recipe is the way it is you can understand the history behind it and of the region it comes from. Eg Damper is an example. It’s an Australian bread , but it’s made pretty much with flour salt and water (sometimes milk), but no yeast, it’s also traditionally cooked on the coals of campfires. Why? Well it evolved out in the Australian outback where people did have access to flour and salt but wouldn’t have had access to yeast. They probably didn’t have access to an oven, particularly if they were exploring, mustering, travelling or early settlers. So from all of these we get damper but also a bit of understanding of life in the Australian outback 100 plus yrs ago.

So what does this have to do with the Sundays with Joy facebook group? This week we made S’mores brownies. Now I know brownies are a North American thing, Cleary born form a need for a fudgy cake type slice, but I had no idea what S’mores are. In fact I’m still a bit lost on what they are, I’m suspecting they are something we call something different tin Australia (again why does this happen, what’s the reason behind it). I’m guessing they are marshmallow campfire things. Joy’s intro into the recipe in the book kind of gives that away.

But is uses Graham crackers which really threw me. Some investigation and some help from the Sundays with Joy facebook group gave me the indication they were a basic sweet biscuit (if they are a biscuit then why are they called a cracker, not a cookie?) . I suspect my choice of plain sweet biscuits (Arnott’s Granita biscuits) wasn’t quite right but none the less a set out to bake me something I didn’t quite understand (again what are s’mores?).

The ingredients look pretty promising

The result

whatever county you’re in it was chocolaty fudgy goodness with marshmallows on top and biscuit chunks within and I’m hoping thats what it was supposed to be.

Recipe in the Joy the Baker cookbook

Blog link up via Bakeaholic Mama

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Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart

The tart in the photos was made for a farewell morning tea for a colleague. I’ve worked with her for over 11 years and will miss her knowledge and her willingness to share that knowledge and I’ll also miss her on a personal level.

We had one of my workplace’s famous morning teas to farewell her. Unlike most of my colleagues who are sweet tooths she has a savoury tooth. For that reason instead of making a cake or other sweet baked good I made a caramelised onion and feta tart

This tarts amazing, it has to be as its pushed my incredibly popular spinach dip out the way in most requested thing I make. it sends people into a eating frenzy

Make this and people will be requesting you make it over and over. But that’s ok because it’s so delicious

Lets make us a tart

all of this makes the caramelised onion

and all of this makes the pastry

pastry plus caramlised onions = tasty tasty

Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart – recipe adapted from the Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein

Caramelised Onions

6 red onions cut into thin wedges

375ml water

100gbrown sugar

75ml balsamic vinegar

2tbsp oil

1/2 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil then simmer gently, stirring now and then, for about 1 hour until the liquid has all but evaporated and the onions are very soft. It important to keep a close eye on it towards the end to make sure the onions don’t catch and burn/

Remove from the heat and cool before popping into a container and storing in the fridge.

Pastry – you can use puff pastry instead, but this pastry is really yummy
250g strong white flour the stuff you might use of making bread
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
220g frozen butter grated
4tbsp cold water

To make the pastry, mix the flour and baking powder in food processor.

Add the grated butter and process in bursts until it resembles rough crumbs.

Add the cold water a bit at a time until you have a soft dough, Try not to over work the dough otherwise the pastry will end up tough.
Place a large sheet of baking paper on your work surface and tip the dough onto it. Place another sheet of baking Roll the pastry out between 2 sheets of baking paper until you have about a 35cm circle.

Leave between the baking paper put on a baking tray. Chill in the fridge for min 10 minutes or until ready to use.

Filling
Caramelised Onions (recipe above)
150g feta cheese
2tsp fresh thyme

Preheat your oven to 200C

Take the pastry from the fridge and remove the top layer of baking paper.

Spread the onions over the top leaving an approx. 4cm border all around.

Crumple the feta over the top and sprinkle with thyme.

Fold the pastry edges toward the centre to partially enclose the filling, I will look a little rustic, that’s ok.
Bake for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden and crispy.

Sundays with Joy – Blueberry Orange and Almond Pancakes with Orange Maple Glaze

I make these pancakes every Saturday.  But not today, today as part of the Sundays with Joy facebook group I made what I shall call fancy pancakes.

Some breakfasts call for simple pancakes, some call for fancy pancakes (aka you need to impress somebody, thank somebody, need something from somebody).  These would be the fancy pancakes you make.

I mean just the name of them sounds fancy. You even servie them witha a fancy glaze.  If you served them up for breakfast people would be so chuffed you’d gone to the effort of making something fancy for them.

But you know what made them extra fancy and special besides tasting pretty damn good? They were easy as to make.  A few extra ingrediants than my normnal recipe but pretty much made the same way, combene dry ingrediants, combine wet ingrediants, mix together, cook, enjoy.

Simple

Recipe for super easy suprer fancy pancakes from the Joy the Baker cookbook

Part of the link up hosted by the talented Bakeaholic Mama

Hazelnut Chocolate Orange Scrolls

Did you know there is a world Nutella day? I’m serious, its day to celebrate Nutella and make things with Nutella

I first made these scrolls to celebrate World Nutella day. They were pretty tasty and I’ve been needing an excuse to make them again. The excuse came in the form of the Sweet Adventure Blog Hop – Nuts about Sweets.

But instead of using Nutella from the jar I wanted to make my own version of Nutella. I look at a variety of recipes for it, became horribly overwhelmed by the sheer number of different recipes, pondered what to do, then came up with the idea of making hazelnut butter then mixing it in some chocolate ganache and for a twist adding orange zest. I was worried it would be a disaster, but that worry was wasted as it was amazing.

chocolate, cream and hazelnuts just waiting to be  mixed together

Hazelnut butter just waiting to be mixed into…

Chocolate Ganache

Hazelnut, Orange Chocolate Ganache

1 cup toasted Hazlenuts, skins removed

125g dark chocolate

125g milk chocolate

1/3 cup cream

1/2 tsp orange zest

Place Hazelnuts in food processor, process until they get the consistency of peanut butter. It will take a few minutes so stick with it but it will happen.

Melt both types of chocolate together with eh cream over a low heat. It will look all shiny and yummy.

Add hazelnut butter and orange zest to chocolate cream mixture. Mix well. It will be a bit grainy on account of the hazelnut butter, but taste delicious.

I used a 1/2 quantity of the dough part of Annabel Langbein’s Sticky Buns. But instead of filling it with butter and cinnamon I used my hazelnut choc orange ganache. Rolled it up and cut inot 4cm sections. let them rise again baked at 220 degress c until lightly browned. So very very good.

Part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, this month hosted by Dining With a Stud

All the other delicious nut creations can be found here

Sundays with Joy – Zucchini and Potato Pancakes

I work 2 1/2 days a week. This leaves me with 2 /12 days a week where I’m not at work and my kids are at school. Now some might think I use this non working kid free time to watch trashy tv and drink cocktails in between napping or lunching with friends. I can only wish. I spend these days doing housework, grocery shopping, running errands, attending any appointments, basically doing mundane everyday stuff.

I never really make and effort with lunch on these days, its usually something quick with what I have on hand and sometimes I skip it as I can’t be bothered making anything.

However lunch on one of these days was different. This week the Sundays with Joy Facebook group made Zucchini and Potato Pancakes.

It was essentially a case of mixing all these ingredients together.

I served them with bacon and sour cream, they were amazing.

The whole thing of taking the time to make something delicious for lunch, sitting down in peace and quiet and taking time to enjoy the meal made a refreshing change to lunch. It reminded me that it nice to make the item to do something nice for myself

I made a couple of small amendments to the recipe and used 1 spring onion instead of the onion and self raising flour instead of the flour & baking powder. I also served it with bacon (high recommended),

For the recipe you’ll need the Joy the Baker cookbook

To see how others tackled the pancakes visit the blog link up hosted by Bakeaholic Mama

Sundays with Joy – Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Pops

This week the Sundays with Joy Facebook group make Chocolate Raspberry pops.

It was a bit traumatic. Not because I have some super phobia of chocolate (god forbid) or raspberries or ice cream, Not even because I made ice cream in the middle of winter. But because I had to find my ice cream moulds.

I’ve had my ice cream moulds for a few years. They were given to me by my mother in law. I’ve used them to make a variety of ice cream/ice blocks but hadn’t used them for 18 months. This meant they had moved to the deep dark corners of the tupperware cupboard. The only things I can ever find in our tupperware cupboard are the most used items because these are the things that fall out of the cupboard when we open the door because they are the things shoved in cupboard while the door is slammed shut.

I methodically took things out of the cupboard whilst hunting for all the bits to the ice cream moulds, oh okay I randomly pulled things out the cupboard whilst possibly swearing and vowing to organise it one day (note that would not be the day that I had most of the contents of the tupperware cupboard on the floor, because that would be too easy and I relish the challenge and trauma of doing it all again).

In the end tupperware was scattered all over the place and I was missing one stick bit, but feeling scarred and emotional and slightly triumphant I was ready to go.

Its essentially a custard cooled with raspberries and chocolate chunks added, then frozen (note I used frozen raspberries because they are out of season but mainly that’s what I had on hand). They were delicious even more so after a couple of days. Totally will make again, but maybe in summer.

mmm sugar cornflour and cocoa powder

plus milk cream vanilla and butter

= chocolate custard

raspberrires & chocolate mixed in lead to Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Pops

I only made a half batch because I could tell by other posts that a full batch would be more than my small ice block moulds could handle. I also only mixed raspberries and chocolate chunks into 3 out of the eventual 5 made and left 2 plain for the kids.

They were absolutely perfect for dealing with the trauma of the tupperware cupboard (although gin/vodka/wine would have helped too).

For the delicious recipe you’ll need the Joy the Baker cookbook

And for more delicious versions of the Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Pops see the delightful blog link up at Bakeaholic Mama