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Lime Chiffon Pie

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Baking in 2012 did not get off to a great start. I had a bbq to attend on a 40 degree day and decided to make a simple tea cake. Except, that simple tea cake just would not bind, and then when finally cooked through, promptly fell apart when turned out of the tin. I contemplated serving Fail Cake for dessert, but decided to not work against the weather and to search for a recipe that involved no baking. I came across this Lime Chiffon Pie on Off the Spork’s blog and could not resist.

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The end result was a really light, airy and delicious pie. I ended up using gluten free sweet biscuits too, so for those allergy sufferers: this is easily gluten and dairy free! I’m not the biggest citrus fan so in the future I may modify this to be a berry version!

Lime chiffon pie

250g plain sweet biscuits
125g butter, melted
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
3 teaspoons gelatine
2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1/3 cup (80ml) water
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar, extra

Grease a deep 23cm pie dish or springform pan.

In a food processor, process the biscuits until they are fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process to combine. Press the biscuit mixture firmly into the base and side of your greased dish/pie. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the egg yolks, sugar, gelatine, rind, juice and the water into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Directly cover the surface of the custard with a piece of plastic wrap to stop a skin forming on top of it. Leave to cool.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the extra sugar, beating until the sugar dissolves. In two batches, fold the meringue into the custard mixture.

Spread the filling into the crumb crust. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

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I made bread.

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Yes, I made bread. It was just a plain white bread, but it was delicious! Nothing beats bread straight out of the oven and the amazing smell that fills your house while it cooks.

Having made it and seen how simple it actually is, I am now planning my next bread adventures into the land of wholemeal and grains.

Also… I made fritters.

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I wont post the recipe, but I just wanted to remind you of the awesomeness that is fritters served with a salad as the weather heats up.

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

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I am not even going to make excuses for my neglect of this blog anymore. Sometimes life just happens. For me, it appears that lifeis happening a LOT.

I made these a while back and they were a big hit. Perfect for those people who don’t want chocolatey desserts, they have just the right mixture of tart and sweetness to truly make these taste like Raspberry Lemonade bars! Highly recommended for BBQs, afternoon teas and of course, sneaky fridge snacks all for yourself! As a bonus, they are really easy to adapt for those of us with dairy allegies!

Raspberry Lemonade Bars
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (or nutellex)
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt

For the raspberry lemon layer:
3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
6 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 175C.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour and salt just until incorporated.  Add the dough to the prepared baking pan.  Press into an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven, maintaining the temperature.

While the crust is baking, make the top layer.  Combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend.  Add the raspberries to a fine mesh sieve and press through, mashing with a spatula, to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, straining out the seeds.  Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk well to blend.  Whisk in the raspberry puree and lemon juice until smooth.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until the center is just set and not longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Cover and chill well in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours.  When chilled, slice into bars.  

Ravioli Soup

Operation ‘Eat Red Meat’ is well underway and I am constantly looking for ways to boost my red meat, without needing to eat a steak! This recipe I found on Annies Eats as Tortellini Soup, but it is also a recipe my Dad used to make all the time in winter, although he puts lentils and beans in his.

Given my dairy allergy, it wasn’t possible for me to just go pick up a packet of Leggos Ravioli, so we had to make a special journey to Thomas Dux for a packet of Passion Pasta Beef Ravioli.

That said, this is super quick to whip up mid week and with spinach included, it gave a good iron hit for me 🙂

Tortellini Soup
Via Annies Eats

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
9 oz. tortellini, any variety (fresh or frozen)
3 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions to the pan and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Mix in the oregano and diced tomatoes.  Add the broth to the pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions.  One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the spinach.  Remove from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with grated Parmesan as desired.

where you been, what you been cooking?

So I haven’t been blogging. We have established this. But what I have I been up to? Well late last year I was offered a promotion that was a huge step up for me. I was excited but very nervous, because it meant becoming part of the executive team where I work and managing staff for the first time. I am 28, so this is a huge show of faith by my employers and there has definately been an adjustment period.

I took on the job in probably the worst possible circumstances. The outgoing manager walked out. In the long run, it was for the best (because she was a cow.) But it coincided with my other staff member falling very ill from stress and needing a lot of time off.

I’m not going to lie. November and December was one of the worst few months of my life. I worked 12+ hour days and weekends. I had to learn to manage staff. I had to learn how to do a new job, whilst conducting my old one as well. I had to hire staff for the first time and I had to (unfortunately) stamp my authority as a manager because people sometimes love nothing more than to try to cut others down.

I had to do a presentation to 200+ people (my biggest fear!) and I had to completely change the way my staff were working to be more efficient.

It hasn’t been smooth. It hasn’t been fun. It certainly hasn’t been easy. But it will be very rewarding for me long-term. I am learning a lot and being so busy has led me to really evaluate what is important in life and what I want for the future.

There are exciting times ahead.

Throughout all of this I have not lost my passion for cooking. Sure there have been (more than I would care to admit!) nights where I just couldn’t face the kitchen through exhaustion. But I haven’t stopped thinking about what I want to make next, what challenges I want to conquer. And I have been cooking, baking, roasting, planning all along and photographing that journey.

But I decided that rather than ‘catch up’ on past cooking adventures, I would just present a big overall picture of some of the yummy things I have made.

There have been delicious chicken sausage rolls, copious amounts of homemade icecream, cupcakes, many failed macaron attempts, risottos, breads, delicious slices and the reintroduction of pork into our diets which left me with nasty chilli burns on my fingers. No seriously – it hurt so bad!

So this is me moving to the next stage of this blog’s life, whatever form that make take. I want this to be my happy space, where I can leave the negativity and stress of work behind and focus on what I love to do most: cook!

Cafe Vue – Evolution of Alcohol. AKA – we just want to drink the cocktails.

I am not sure yet if I am back from my hiatus… I do miss blogging, but I barely have time to think at the moment, let alone bake something yummy and take photos and download them… and well, you get the idea.

However, I recently attended my good friend’s Hens Night at Cafe Vue’s cocktail night and promised I would write about it.

We attended the Evolution of Alcohol – Developing Distillation (Part 3) and at $75 per head, it was a great option for a group of girls.

Given it was so cold out, they very nicely put us in the private room for our event which meant we got to chat to each other in a nice, relaxed environment, although the table was so large it felt a bit comical trying to talk to people across from you.

First up to drink was the ‘Fractional freezing – applejack, sweet vermouth & bitters’


Once I got over the whisky taste to this, I actually quite enjoyed it. It went really well with the ‘Candied Apple’ dish they served:

This was essentially a pork and fennel meat ball covered in some kind of green goo. I wanted to like them a little more than I did… they were still very pink in the middle and the goo didn’t taste like much but had a bit of an off putting texture.

Next up was the  Pot still – Cachaça, kiwi fruit, tomato & chilli. For some reason I did not take a photo of this! I have no idea why not… BUT I really enjoyed this. It had just a hint of chilli and I could not taste the tomato at all. From what the other girls said, it went really well with the Tinned Tuna dish:

Served literally in a tin, the Tinned Tuna was a mixture of cooked and raw tuna served with a tomato and avocado salsa. I really really do not like tuna however, so a few bites of this was all I could handle.

Next up was the star of the night:


This was the Column still – Jameson whiskey, mint, lemon & ginger ale. This was really refreshing and went down particularly well with its matched dish:


Braised lamb shank, stone ground grits & pickled carrots
While I couldnt eat the grits, the lamb shank was so juicy and just fell off the bone! We all really enjoyed this and it made us all so full.

Next up was a Pine cone granita – a foam with pine nuts paired with the drink Carterhead still – Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau & lemon. Reviews were mixed on the granita… some thought it was just air and pine nuts, others liked the mixture of flavours combined with the cocktail.

The cocktail was actually quite a strong sour flavour that I was really not expecting, but once I got past the initial ‘wow’ I really enjoyed this.

Finally, we come to dessert! The crowning glory of any meal.


This was the Deconstructed Brownie – brownie pieces, brownie sorbet and I believe white chocolate on the top. While I couldn’t eat this, from all reports it was a pretty intense experience but very delicious.

I was given a deconstructed pavlova which was really delicious and not too filling after the meal. It had mango sorbet, meringue and fresh fruit as well as dehydrated strawberries.

 

Throughout the night we had been making jokes about Hester Blumenthal and his clear chocolate water… and yet, here we are. With what is technically called Vacuum distillation – Mozart Dry, chocolate & pecan, but really, was alcoholic clear chocolate water. Made from pure dark chocolate (AKA no dairy) this was almost like drinking franjelico… I liked it a lot but for the girls who had eaten brownie it was just a bit TOO much chocolate.

All up though it was a fantastic evening and I would totally go back again for another round. Alcohol wise, while you wouldn’t want to drive… nobody was rediculously drunk either which was good.

hiatus…

Life is crazy. I got promoted at work, which is all yay and what not. But to be honest, I haven’t even celebrated yet. I am taking over from somebody who is leaving to go to another job. She has been absolutely horrible to me since I first started. When I was promoted, they told her and she stormed out. Then she called in sick until her final day (2 more weeks of this crap).

She is a bully so the staff member working for her has been on leave with shingles. So I have taken over a new department, but I have no staff, and have had no training but the work goes on so I have just had to figure it out.

I have been working long long long hours, I have been stressing, and it has only been a week.

I hope next week settles down.. but one thing is clear, I dont have time to blog right now. I have a back log of posts but no time to write them up. But I will be back. ONE DAY. Lets just hope my staff get better and this evil bully dissapears quietly.

See ya soon.

Nanaimo Bars

I don’t really know how I first heard about Nanaimo Bars. But ever since the day I first saw them, I have been dying to make them!

The grand final rematch was the perfect excuse. Cricket was due to start, but the league cancelled the match so everyone could watch the footy. Cue impromtu gathering at the club and a request to “bring a plate”. Checking the Nanaimo recipe, it was super simple to make dairy free, so off I went.

Nanaimo bars are a Canadian dessert, it has almost a hedgehog like base (albeit a lot finer), a custard buttercream filling, and covered in a melted chocolate ganache.

They are super simple to make (less than an hour) and while they are a touch tricky to cut up nicely (see below) they taste amazing!

These went down a treat and were gone pretty quickly. My only advice is to keep them refrigerated until serving as on a warm day they will get very soft! So, Canadians, what other sweets are you hiding from us?

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs (I used Nice biscuits)
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream (I used soy milk. Other recipes use milk so it doesn’t have to be cream)
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer. (I refrigerated at this point to cool it down)

Third Layer
113 grams semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Slice with a warm knife when ready to serve. (If making again, I would make the chocolate first, so it has enough time to cool down before you pour over the slice. If it is too warm it melts the middle layer)

Pop rock cupcake fail

I really wanted to make a Pop Rock cupcake and after a bit of research I discovered that they lose their pop when put in an icing mixture, or cake batter. So I thought I would just sprinkle them on the top before we head out to the party these were making their debut at. But they had lost their pop when we ate them, a mere 2 hours later! So my advice – sprinkle them only on top just as you want to eat them! Or else no pops for you!

Another fail? Pop rocks have lactose! I know right! Who would have thought they would have lactose in them! So I had to have mine without popping goodness.

But, want to know the ONLY redeeming factor of these cupcakes?

Rainbow!!