Saturday, 28 July 2012

Vanilla porridge with honeyed apples

I would have to say porridge was not ever on the top of my breakfast lists. Growing up "Papa Bear" Dad would often have it but mostly during the winter months. I remember growing up in Perth and waking up on weekends and being greeted in the kitchen by Dad standing over his pot of porridge bubbling away and sprinkling brown sugar or honey on top and trying as hard as he could to get B and I to taste it. These days the variety of porridge is unbelievable and even the pot cooking days are over with so many "quick" oats available. My three little Vegemites were a little dumbfounded at the fact I was cooking this particular porridge in the pot and not in the microwave!!

When I first met Mr M (another bear who likes his porridge), he would often cook his on the stove top also. Actually I think his bachelor pad never had a microwave but it brought back memories of my parents eating it. As I have mentioned before on our little Melbourne visit some years ago, porridge was a breakfast 'must-have' and Mr M would devour his huge bowl each morning adding fruit some mornings or just opting for some maple syrup.

I am now giving myself the "Mama Bear" title as I don't mind a nice warm bowl of porridge every now and then. You could almost add any fruit your heart desires but this recipe was found in one of my old favourites Donna Hay and the apples were delicious. Mind you I added some brown sugar and extra maple syrup! Now if only I could get the last two of my baby bears to at least try this tasty breakfast I will be one happy Mama Bear!!

You will need:      Serves 4
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
2 cups (500ml) milk
1 cup (250ml) water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
milk, extra, brown sugar and maple syrup, to serve
for the honeyed apples:
2 red apples, sliced
2 tablespoons honey

To make honeyed apples, heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the apple for 1 minute each side.

Add honey and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until golden and caramelised.

Place the oats, milk, water and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over low heat.

 Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until thickened.

Spoon into serving bowls, top with extra milk, sugar, maple syrup and honeyed apples to serve.

Enjoy! M x

Friday, 27 July 2012

Gingerbread, pear and almond tart

Gingerbread features quite a lot in the M household and I'm sure B will introduce it once baby B is able to push his little kitchen stool into the kitchen and demand to help!! I think B and I were gingerbread mad from an early age as Mum had an old Women's Weekly book that had a great recipe for gingerbread men. We would often make them growing up so any recipes that I stumble across with the words "gingerbread" in them sends me into a cooking frenzy with fond memories of this flavour. This tart that I came across in the Jun/Jul issue of Donna Hay is just gorgeous, the flavours of the pear and almond go so well with the gingerbread base. It was so simple but looked extremely impressive.

You will need:
125g butter, chopped and softened
1/2 cup (90g) brown sugar
2/3 cup (230g) golden syrup
2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons ground ginger, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
1/2 cup (60g) almond meal (ground almonds)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 firm brown pears, sliced
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar, extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (55g) orange marmalade
1 eggwhite, beaten
icing sugar and store bought vanilla custard, to serve

Preheat oven to 160 degrees (325F). Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat for 8 - 10 minutes or until pale and creamy.

 Add the golden syrup, flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda and beat until mixture just comes together to form a smooth dough.

 Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper until 5mm thick. Cut out a 20cm x 40cm rectangle. 

Mix to combine the almond meal and sugar and sprinkle down the centre of the rectangle, leaving a 5cm border. 

Place pears , extra sugar, vanilla and marmalade in a bowl and toss to combine.

Top the dough with the pear mixture and fold the edges over the pears. Brush with egg. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the tart is cooked and golden.

Dust with the icing sugar and serve with custard.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Orange Cheesecake

If you ask Betty I'm sure she would agree with me about our lack of participation in the cheesecake department. It's definitely not from not liking them as our Mum is the cheesecake queen. Growing up she would often make delicious combinations of different fruits and other flavours. From memory Mum was more skilled with the refrigerated version and at most gatherings we would attend, there would sit in all it's glory, Mum's peach or pineapple cheesecake (well it only sat for a few minutes if you were lucky enough to get your hands on a piece). I remember Dad having one of his great ideas (this is coming from a Father that says "I know a shortcut" and would take just as long or longer - must be a Dad thing right?) about making a cheesecake for the family. Actually, from memory I think a young B may have been his sous chef that day! With Mum working at the time and Dad wanting to surprise us with his cooking abilities (thanks to Mum of course) he set about making a blueberry cheesecake (only ringing Mum at work for advice a mere 10 times).

His hard work was all in vain once the gelatine was added. I remember tasting his masterpiece and trying to smile politely as I chewed through big chunks of rubbery jelly pieces of plain gelatine that had set and not blended into the cream cheese mix. I think the gelatine process is where all fridge-set cheesecakes reach their fork in the road - either go in the bin or in the fridge!

I have made a few baked cheesecakes and feel more confidant with them but after I made this fridge-set cheesecake I was impressed by my efforts if I do say so myself. As listed in the recipe the cream cheese mix only contains orange rind but to give it a little more flavour I added orange segment pieces throughout the mix and also added some extra rind in the biscuit base for that extra citrus kick. I think using the "light" (low fat) cream cheese made it light and fluffy so it melted in your mouth. You could use passion fruit, limes, lemons, pineapple, peaches, mouth is now watering! I think a lime one maybe my next time, how about you? What's your favourite or fail-safe cheesecake flavour combo?

You will need:
250g plain sweet biscuits
125g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon gelatine
finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
500g light cream cheese
1/2 cup caster sugar
150g white chocolate , melted and cooled
300ml thickened cream, softly whipped
4 oranges, peeled, segmented
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Line base of a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.

 Put biscuits in a food processor  and process until crumbs form.

 Add butter and process until combined. Press biscuit mixture into base and  up sides of prepared tin. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour boiling water into a heatproof jug, sprinkle over gelatine and stir with a fork until dissolved. Microwave on high for a further 30 and stir until completely dissolved. Let cool.

Put orange rind and juice, cream cheese and sugar in food processor. Process until smooth.

 Add chocolate . Process until combined.

 Transfer to a bowl and fold in cream and gelatine mixture. Pour into biscuit base and return to fridge for 3-4 hours, or overnight if time permits, until set.

Put orange in a medium bowl. Add vanilla and toss to combine.

 Serve wedges of cheesecake with vanilla orange.

Yum! x

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Coconut biscuits

So the Ekka is coming up in Brisbane next month. For those not familiar with the Ekka (short for 'Exhibition') it is Brisbane's Royal Show equivalent, that is, the Ekka is like a big carnival or fun fair (for our overseas readers) complete with carnival rides, animal shows and loads of carnival food (think pluto pups/corn dogs and fairy floss). B has a soft spot for the Ekka and has been almost every year as an adult, visiting her favourite animal and produce displays. However as kids and teenagers visiting with mum and dad, we both have fond memories of the Queensland Butter Board ham and cheese sandwiches, cups of cheerio sausages from the meat hall and of course the iconic strawberry ice-creams (hmmm, that is all food - did we actually do anything else at the Ekka, B?). I always love visiting the cookery and arts/craft displays if I do go as they are the one thing that remains the same. Entries from young and old are displayed proudly with their ribbons (if you're lucky enough to earn one) and for me it is this that gives the Ekka that nostalgic feel of a big country fair that seems to have been swallowed up in so many of the other areas. Kids being kids however still love the Ekka wholeheartedly and it is fun to see it through their eyes.
This recipe comes to us from a lady who is no stranger to cookery competitions and in fact is quite the champion of such events. Merle Parrish is a member of the Country Women's Association (CWA) and these ladies are famous (and fierce!) for their competition cookery. She has recently risen to some fame through her association with Masterchef Australia. Her peach blossom cake is famous because of the show and she has produced her very own old school cook book - Merle's Kitchen. The book pays homage to country fair competition cookery and is definitely serious comfort for winter baking days. Though we haven't entered anything in this year's Ekka, we reckon these coconut cookies of Merle's are a winner. Seriously simple recipe but a cracking bikkie all the same, thanks for sharing your recipes Merle!

You will need:
150g butter, at room temperature, chopped
1 1/3 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essense
1 egg
2 cups desiccated coconut
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to moderate (180 degrees) and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Use electric beaters to cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until white and fluffy. Beat in the egg.

Use a wooden spoon to mix in the coconut, then the flour and salt. At this stage my mix was a touch dry so a added a couple of tablespoons of water so the mix came together.

Shape heaped teaspoons of mixture into balls and place onto trays and flatten slightly with your fingers or folk.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave on the trays for 5 minutes to firm up, before transferring to a wire rack to cool.