Chocolate fudge slice

Chocolate fudge slice

Here’s a great little recipe to make during summer, since it doesn’t use the oven and just the stove top. I used sultanas, but to make it a more festive perhaps you could use mini mashmallows, cranberries or pistachios.

I took it along to my art and craft class breakups and it got favourable comments and someone even asked for the recipe. So here it is.

Chocolate fudge slice recipe

90g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped sultanas or walnuts
250g Milk Arrowroot biscuits, crushed

Topping
200g dark chocolate
60g butter

  1. Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, cocoa powder and sultanas in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Cool and then stir in the crushed Milk Arrowroot biscuits. Spoon mixture into the tin, press and smooth with the back of the spoon. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.
  4. For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over low heat. Cool for 15 minutes until thickened slightly.
  5. Spread the topping over the slice.
  6. Leave to set and then cut into squares or diamonds.

Apple cider fruit loaf

cider-fruit-loaf

This fruit loaf is made with apple cider, spices and dried fruits. It is perfect with marmalade – actually I had it with my Aunty’s cumquat marmalade and it was delicious. I think this could be nice with half a cup of dried apple added. I’ll try that next time I make it. I used the new James Squire Orchard Crush Apple Cider – which incidentally is a nice drop on it’s own.

I go through periods of having fruit loaf for breakfast, but I wonder how much sugar the store bought ones contain. This one doesn’t have any. Alas I have fallen off my sugar-free challenge. I have made leaps and bounds in reducing my sugar intake, but I’m still having some!

Isn’t it strange most bakeries don’t sell fruit loaf?

Apple cider fruit loaf recipe

1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup sultanas
335ml bottle of dry apple cider
3 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
7g dried yeast

  1. Soak the dried fruit in the apple cider while you measure out the other ingredients.
  2. Add the flour, spices and yeast to a bowl and make a well in the centre.
  3. Strain the cider from the fruit, reserving the fruit. Add the liquid to the dry mixture.
  4. Knead well for 15 to 20 minutes until the dough is stretchy. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size – about 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Knock back the dough and add the fruit. Knead until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  6. Shape into an oval loaf and place of a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a tea towel and prove a second time for 30 minutes or until doubled.
  7. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  8. Dust the loaf with flour and score it with a knife. Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Espresso, date and pecan muffins

espresso-muffin

These espresso, date and pecan muffins are an ideal morning tea treat.  I’ve adapted this from a recipe which was originally figs and walnuts, so you could substitute those instead. The espresso gives them a nice coffee kick which helps blow away the cobwebs.

Espresso, date and pecan muffins recipe

200g dried dates, pitted
150ml strong coffee
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g brown sugar
250g plain flour
a pinch of salt
115g butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
75g pecans, roughly chopped

  1. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin papers, and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Finely chop the dates and then soak them in the coffee in a bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Put the sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt.
  4. Combine the melted butter and eggs in a bowl or jug.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones, add the date and coffee mixture, the pecans and stir together quickly. Do not overmix.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared cases and bake for 25-30 minutes, until well risen and golden.

Makes 12.

Dukkah bread

dukkah-bread

It took me a couple of goes, but I have finally mastered making bread. This recipe makes a light loaf and is flavoured with dukkah. I actually used an Australian version of dukkah called Ockkah by Herbie’s Spices, but either would work well here.

Occkah contains Hazelnut, Sesame Seed, Coriander Seed, Pistachio Nuts, Wattleseed, Cumin Seeds, Sea Salt, and Native Pepperberry. Whereas Dukkah contains Hazelnut, Sesame Seed, Coriander Seed, Pistachio Nuts, Cumin Seeds, Salt, and Black Pepper.

The resulting loaf gives a beautiful aroma and is best suited to savoury toppings, or serve simply with a drizzle of olive oil.

Dukkah bread recipe

50g packet of dukkah or Ockkah
3 1/4 cups white bread flour
7g dried yeast
2 tsps salt
2 Tbsps olive oil
300ml warm water

  1. Put the flour into a bowl and the yeast on one side and the salt on the other side. Roughly combine. Add the oil and mix until combined.
  2. Pour in 200ml of the water and the dukkah, and combine. Gradually add the rest of the water until the dough just forms a ball and no flour is left on the side of the bowl.
  3. Knead well (15-20 minutes) until the dough is stretchy. Cover and leave in a warm place until double in size – about 45 minutes.
  4. Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  5. Knock back the dough and form a ball onto baking paper on a baking tray.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Thank you to Herbie’s Spices for providing a sample. 

Best recipe: Trifle

Trifle

Trifle is one of the dishes on my 100 foods to cook in your lifetime challenge but because it’s part the way through the week, I’m not going to cook every element from scratch.  I’m also wanted to make something British to celebrate the arrival of the Royal baby boy. I’ve tried to make it as traditionally as possible, but there is some debate about whether to add jelly or not to a trifle. I like the strawberry wobble, so it’s staying.

The British touches I have used are reminiscent of strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. My British mother-in-law sets the fruit in the jelly, so you could try that but leave a few strawberries aside to decorate the top of the trifle.This trifle is a celebration of all things British and seasonal for their summer time.

I’ve used mini Jam Swiss rolls for the cool effect it gives to the side of the glass bowl, but you could also use Madeira cake or Victoria sponge.

Congratulations Kate and William on your new baby boy. I wonder what he will be called? We have our fingers crossed for George.

British Trifle

1 packet of strawberry flavoured jelly
150ml Madeira or sherry
250g Jam mini rolls, or Madeira cake or Victoria sponge
600ml pouring custard
1 punnet of strawberries, halved
300ml pure double cream
50g milk chocolate, grated (Green & Blacks)

  1. Make up the jelly following the instructions on the packet. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to set.
  2. Cut the cake into small chunks and soak in the Madeira or sherry.
  3. Assemble the trifle, by layering the cake around the base of the bowl.
  4. Then add a layer of jelly, strawberries, and then custard. Repeat with the cake again and the other layers until finished.
  5. Whip the double cream with an electric hand whisk until it is firm but still floppy. Use cream for the final layer and decorate with some strawberries, and grated chocolate.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

Best recipe: ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits

The original ANZAC biscuit recipe is easy to find online, but I decided to go with a moist and chewy ANZAC biscuit recipe as that’s how I prefer them. The original ones were hard though, as they had to last the journey across the sea to the men fighting in Europe. Most recipes share the same ingredients and just vary the amounts. Curtis Stone in his latest cookbook, “What’s for Dinner?” calls them “Oatmeal Coconut Butter Cookies”!

I guess I could have waited until ANZAC day to make these, but I thought they’d be simple to make and something good to start learning to cook with.

My first problem was that I don’t own any baking trays, so I had to use a roasting tray. Then it took about 20 times to start the gas powered oven – I hope it’s not on its way out!

I mixed together all the dry ingredients, but the brown sugar left lumps, so it took about five minutes to squish them against the side of the mixing bowl. Then I moved on to the wet ingredients. It was taking a long time to pour the CSR golden syrup from the squeeze bottle into the measuring spoon.

Matt said “You know you can take the lid off of that.”

“Now you tell me” I replied. “I’m nearly finished!”

“Well, you need to work on your muscles.”

I combined the dry and wet ingredients and them popped the biscuits in the oven. In the meantime, I decided to do the washing up. I hate washing tongs, wooden spoons and plastic containers, and this load had all three! The stupid timer stopped with four minutes to go. Fortunately I noticed.

The first batch was a little under done and one of the biscuits crumbled apart as I slid them onto the wire cooling rack. I reread the instructions and saw that I was supposed to let them “Stand on trays for 5 minutes” but I missed that step. The second batch have a distinctive home-made look about them, but they are still not brown enough! The third and final batch were just what I was looking for in an ANZAC biscuit.

ANZAC biscuit recipe
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour*
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda*
125g butter, organic
2 tablespoons golden syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Prepare baking trays by lining three of them with baking paper.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients – oats, flour, sugar, coconut, and bicarbonate of soda – in a bowl.
  3. Place butter, syrup and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted.
  4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients by stirring the butter mixture into oat mixture.
  5. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on baking trays about 5cm apart. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden. Stand on trays for 5 minutes.
  7. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Variations

I made my biscuits wheat-free by swapping the 1 cup of flour and bicarbonate of soda, for one cup of Melinda’s Gluten-Free Goodies Self Raising Flour. To make them gluten-free swap the oats for quinoa flakes.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

Almond Flour

Almonds are high in manganese, vitamin E and magnesium. As they have a high fat content, it is important to store them properly to stop them from becoming rancid. Store shelled almonds in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. Almonds and nut flours can be stored in the refrigerated for several months, and in the freezer for up to a year.  Almonds still in their shell have the longest shelf life.

Almond meal is the same as almond flour.

Here are some of the Australian companies that can supply you with bulk quantities of almond flour for cooking:

GAPS Australia
$105 for 5kg certified organic blanched almond flour
Email: linda@gapsaustralia.com.au

Almondco Almond Hut
Sell almond meal (blanched) in a 10kg carton for $100.00. Freight to Queensland will be a further $33.65.
Phone: 08 8586 8800 Email: admin@almondco.com.au

Queensland Fruit and Nut Distributors
Almonds blanched meal is $12.80 per kg. Delivery to Brisbane was $7.58.
56 Parramatta Rd, Underwood, QLD 4119
Phone: 07 3208 9488 Email: sales@qnf.com.au

Hellene Food Brokers
Almond meal is $10.50 per kg in a 10kg carton. Delivery to Brisbane is $1.00 per order.
17 Duncan Street, West End, QLD 4101
Phone: 07- 3844 2822 Email: sales@hellenefood.com.au

Kumari Spices and Things
$13.30 per kilogram. No minimum amount.
199 Robinson Road, Geebung.
Phone: 07 3265-2099

Mrs Flannerys Natural Grocers
Sells almond meal for $18.99 per kilogram. No minimum amount.

Prices current as of August 2011.

Winning rum balls

rum-balls

Here is my top-secret recipe for winning work’s rum ball competition. There’s no coconut, condensed milk, weetbix or biscuits. It’s not something to eat all time, but an easy one for a work night.

I’ve used a store-bought cake to cut down on the preparation time and I’ve tried a number of different varieties – plain cake with jam works well, so does the chocolate version (see photo) for a double dose of chocolate. I did scrap the mock cream off though. If the mixture is a little damp leave it for 10 minutes or so for the chocolate to harden up a little. Roll in coconut at the end if you wish.

These are rich, decadent and moist.

500g swiss roll or Madeira cake
150g dark cooking chocolate
25ml rum

  1. Crumb the prepared cake in a large glass bowl.
  2. Melt chocolate as per instructions on packet.
  3. Mix the melting chocolate into the cake mix, then mix in the rum. Keep mixing until well combined.
  4. Scoop out and roll into balls. Place on a tray or container lined with baking paper.

Keep in the fridge, especially during summer.

Berry coulis with chocolate cake

As this blog is supposed to be about fruit and vegetables try to ignore the chocolate cake for a moment.

How easy is coulis to make? Absolutely lick-out-the-container-delicious and dead easy. You don’t even really need a recipe. Well, you won’t after the first time.

Raspberry Coulis

¼ cup of raspberries blitzed in the blender
add juice from half a lime (or quarter of a lemon) and 3 teaspoons of sugar to taste

You can try other fruits to make coulis (French for uncooked fruit sauces), such as strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, and kiwi fruits.  If you are  pedantic, you may like to  strain out the seeds. Drizzle over chocolate cake or dessert of choice.

Chocolate Cake

For this gorgeous gluten free chocolate cake I used Cocoa Farm chocolate to give it a hint of fruity shiraz. It’s great to see an all Australian company coming up with innovative products. I can’t wait to try their Orange Organic Dark Chocolate.

150g chocolate
100g butter
100g brown sugar
150g almond meal
3 eggs, organic and free range

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C
  2. Melt together butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. (Or use microwave on low if you are game).
  3. Separate eggs and set whites aside.
  4. Cream together yolks and sugar until pale and doubled in size. Add melted chocolate to egg mixture and beat on slow speed until combined. Fold in almond meal with a spatula.
  5. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks.
  6. Fold whites through cake mixture.
  7. Transfer mixture to a greased cake tin.
  8. Bake for 25 to 40 minutes.
  9. Cake should be springy in the middle and skewer should come out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

B.T.W. Try to avoid blitzing frozen raspberries near clean washing up. It was hard to mop up and hide the evidence of all the red segments flicked all over the place. Blend in the sink people.

Damper

Australia isn’t known for it’s breads, but we do have damper. To make the traditional campfire bread more festive I’ve added some herbs from the garden, some left over semi-dried tomatoes and a heirloom tomato. The green and red flecks of colour make it ideal to serve at this time of the year. We prefer semi-dried tomatoes to the full sun-dried ones. I’m predicting that heirloom tomatoes will be trendy soon, just like sun-dried tomatoes were a few years ago.

A heirloom tomato was the second vegetable to be harvested. As our compost doesn’t get hot enough to kill the seeds, there are tomato plants dotted all around our garden.

2 cups of self-raising flour
30g butter
2 tbps chopped chives and basil
1 tomato
6 semi-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk

  1. Sift flour into a bowl and rub in butter with your fingertips.
  2. Add the herbs and chopped tomatoes and mix.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the combined water and milk in batches.
  4. Mix quickly to form a soft dough. Add more flour or water/milk, if required, to get the right consistency.
  5. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush with milk.
  6. Bake at 220°C for 15-20 minutes.

Baked for Bread Baking Day #15: Festive Breads.