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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

For those of you on Pinterest, have you been making any pins? Even though I haven’t been posting any Make a Pin Monday posts, I’ve still been doing lots of Pin-related creating, on the culinary front at least.

New here and curious for some MAPM background? Go here. The basic philosophy of MAPM – don’t just pin it, do it!

Today I’m going to share some savoury recipes I’ve pinned, cooked and loved. A lot of these have been dinners at night, hence there’s no photos (and they would be some pretty ugly photos if there were any!) But enough inane chatter, let’s talk recipes:

I’ve made these apple sage chickpea burgers and chickpea hummus burgers in bulk and stashed them all in the freezer. Come lunch time, I pull one (or two) out, defrost in the microwave and pair them with a big salad, and either a lemon vinaigrette or some Greek yoghurt dressing. Both of them are really good recipes but I think the apple sage ones are my favourite – the earthy, herby sage takes the taste of these veggie burgers to a whole other level.

This pearl barley and Puy lentil salad was fabulous – as is the photography for this recipe (and in fact, all the recipes on this woman’s blog.) I can’t wait to play around with the pearl barley/Puy lentil combination and add some different ingredients.

This quick corn cake was the perfect vessel for a snatched lunch involving leftover chili, some avocado and a dollop of Greek yoghurt (are you getting the feeling I like Greek yoghurt? Obsessed may be a better description right now.)

I love the flavours of this twice baked sweet potato, though it does take a little time to cook in the oven.

And I haven’t made these little pies, but I ate them at a friend’s party and could not stop shovelling them into my mouth. Pastry, soft mash potato and meaty, minty, satisfyingly savoury lamb? These are absolutely addictive.

I just did a count and I have made just over 20 of the 200+ recipes I have pinned. Some of the photos I’ve pinned are purely because I like the food photography, so all in all, it’s not bad going. Plus, trying new things from articles I’ve pinned is inspiring me to try new recipes sitting in my cookbooks, my folder of tear outs…you get the idea.

As for how many pins I’ve made from my Crafty Inspiration folder…umm *cue crickets chirping*. Get on it Jane!

Until next Monday (one hopes!) happy pinning and happy creating!

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{Food} Pancakes. Crepes. Whatever.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Tuesday. What was originally known as the day for purging the pantry before the beginning of Lent is now known to many as a day to stuff as many pancakes into your face as you can.

But why are pancakes the food of choice? Pancakes are made out of sugar, fat, flour and eggs – the foods traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting of Lent. The forty days of fasting begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday but for today, we feast on pancakes.

I try to always cook up a batch of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, as I love any excuse to eat a pancake. I’d eat them on a weekly basis if my waistline could get away with it (alas, it can’t.) One of my favourite things about pancakes is just how versatile they are – pancakes are equally delicious served sweet with lemon and sugar, or savory with cheese and ham.

I have so many great food memories associated with pancakes – pancake dinners as a child, indulgent pancake breakfasts with friends in my uni days – but today, I’m sharing a story about Mr B, the man who created one of my most used pancake recipes. Many years ago I was on a camping trip with friends and Mr B was part of the camping party (no, we weren’t dating then.) After a barbecue dinner we were sitting around a campfire and Mr B just casually started whipping up these pancakes for everyone, using just a little pan and a small gas cooker. Served with a little butter and golden syrup, these pancakes were light and thin, with crispy golden edges, and utterly moreish. And Mr B was able to flip them over using just the pan, just like they do in the movies. Let’s just say I took notice (and was a teeny bit impressed)… though at the time I would have never guessed I would end up marrying the guy three years later…

The title of this post is what we call Mr B’s pancake recipe at Casa B. Some people would label Mr B’s pancakes as crepes, he firmly adheres to calling them pancakes. Whatever you call them, they are super simple to make and super easy to eat. They are now my go-to recipe for pancake making, and I’ve even learnt how to flip them in the pan, just like Mr B. Sweet or savory, we’ll be scoffing these lovely pancakes down this Shrove Tuesday.

MR B’S PANCAKES, CREPES…WHATEVER.

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • About 1 cup milk (be prepared to add more)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (a pinch)
  • 1 egg
  • Butter, to melt in your pan
  • Your favourite pancake condiments, to serve

METHOD

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until you get a smooth, runny batter. You may need to add more milk if it’s still a bit chunky – you don’t want it to be lumpy. Let the mixture stand while you get your pan nice and hot, hot enough to have a little knob of butter sizzle and melt once it hits the pan. Once the pan is hot, ladle some of your mixture into the hot, buttered pan and swirl around in the pan to make the pancake nice and thin. When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, flip the pancake over, either using an egg flip or some fancy pan-flipping skills. Allow the uncooked side to brown (it should take about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the heat of your pan) and then serve with your favourite pancake condiments. We both love lemon juice and sugar, or either maple syrup or golden syrup as a sweet option. But really, what you top your pancakes with is only limited by your imagination.

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Strawberry cupcakes. The idea for these has been percolating in my mind for months, but I finally bit the bullet and baked these babies just in time for Valentine’s Day this week (hence the hearts, I just couldn’t resist the kitsch.)

My thinking was if I was going to make a strawberry cupcake, I didn’t want it to just be a vanilla cupcake with strawberry essence subbed in. No, I wanted these cupcakes to be pink and bold and bursting with strawberry flavour.

These chocolate blueberry cupcakes were my inspiration for the idea of roasting the strawberries. I was hoping the roasted strawberry juices would naturally colour the batter pink, just like the blueberries turned the cake batter a vivid purple. It worked, but the end result was, not surprisingly, nowhere near as vivid. The roasted berries turned the cake batter a soft pink, and the taste…like the best strawberry jam you’ve ever eaten. Smooth, subtle, elegant strawberry flavour.

I paired these pastel pink cakes with a buttercream swirled with my favourite strawberry sauce. A brilliant idea on my part, if I do say so myself. This icing meets the “bursting with strawberry flavour” requirement to a tee. Even Mr B was impressed with this buttercream – one taste and he was trying to steal the bowl, and I hadn’t even iced the cupcakes yet…

If you love cupcakes, make these. If you love strawberries, make these. If you have a glut of strawberries, make these (and lots of that fresh strawberry sauce!) Oh, and you should also make the roasted strawberries on their own and put them on top of some ice cream or yoghurt. Absolutely divine.

ROASTED STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE BUTTERCREAM

Makes between 12 to 18 cupcakes (depending on how much you fill your cupcake cases.) Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

For the roasted strawberries:

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • A few grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 115g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quantity roasted strawberries (see above)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed (I used two)
For the strawberry sauce buttercream:
  • 180g butter
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup strawberry sauce, pureed in the blender
  • Sprinkles or extra strawberries for garnish, if desired.
For the roasted strawberries, preheat oven to 200C. Mix the cut strawberries with the sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and spread out on a lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the strawberries are soft, the sugar has dissolved and the sheet is covered with strawberry juice. Take out and put aside to cool.

For the cupcakes, drop the oven temperature to 180C, and line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy (about three minutes.) Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined, another two to three minutes. Add your flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl, turn the mixer onto low speed and gradually increase the speed as the mixture comes together. Scrape in the roasted strawberries and beat on medium speed until the berries break down, about two minutes. You will still have a few strawberry pieces, but as long as the batter is a pale pink colour you’ll know all the berries and juice have been distributed through the batter. You want the mixture to have a smooth cake batter consistency, so if it’s still a little stiff, begin adding 1 tablespoon of milk at a time and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling two thirds of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until cake is set – test with a skewer; if the skewer comes out clean, they’re ready. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.

For the strawberry sauce buttercream, put the butter in the bowl of your mixer and beat until smooth. Add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low, increasing to medium-high speed once the sugar has been added. Add in the strawberry sauce, and mix until combined, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time. It’s meant to be a soft buttercream but if it seems a little too soft, add extra icing sugar. Place the icing in a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the top of your cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles or even place a strawberry atop each cupcake, if desired.

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Even though it’s been a while since I posted about my Make a Pin Monday progress, I’ve still been making an effort to make those “pins” more than just a good idea.

Mind you, a whole heap of new pins have joined my boards in recent weeks; it’s just way too easy to lay down on the couch in front of the TV with the laptop and pin…

I don’t have photos for any of the things I’ve made (they’ve been eaten too quickly, or given away before I could take a photo) but allow me to present a virtual smorgasboard of what I’ve been doing:

  • I made cranberry curd, inspired by this pin. I used a Nigella recipe for cranberry curd instead of the recipe listed though. Must say I love the idea of a cranberry curd (as well as the vivid magenta colour of the curd) but the end result…I must admit I’m not totally in love with it. One to work on, perhaps.
  • I made these gingerbread cookies as Christmas treats. Not bad, but not really what I was hoping they’d be. A soft, spicy, light golden gingerbread like my sister-in-law’s eludes me yet. And she won’t give me the secret recipe…
  • These were made for my card making class and also sent with Mr B into work. Chocolate chip cookie bars with a cheesecake filling – I liked the idea, and these bars were quite moreish. But they didn’t really set my taste buds on fire with strong desire. Not in the way Caramel Loaded Brownies do, or the way the double deckers do, for that matter. Give them a try though – they may float your boat.
  • And for a little balance on all the sugar, I made these for the thousandth time. I could eat a kilo of these on their own, but Mr B doesn’t get as excited about them as I do. They are definitely worth trying for yourself, you may find them as addictively scoffable as I do.

On a crafty note, we made these cards at my card making class in November. But in all seriousness, next year I just need to bite the bullet and sew some pretty bags and clothes. The thing that scares me though is “wasting” some nice fabric by making a mistake – or ten. In other words, I just needs to harden up, take the plunge and learn from MY mistakes. I’ll keep you posted, because putting it in writing makes me accountable.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this Make a Pin Monday post – and remember, don’t just pin it – do it!

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Make a Pin Monday

Happy Monday, people! There’s not much left of Monday in my corner of the world, but I wanted to continue with my Make a Pin Monday posts and actually post on a Monday!

So if you didn’t see my last post about the inspiration behind MAPM, go check it out here. I am continuing to justify my newest social media habit by trying out my “pins”, although they still seem to be inclined towards the food variety (with side trips to the papercraft world.) I’ll have to delve into my fabric stash soon and get my crafty on, methinks.

Anyway, today’s pin is a wee bit of a cheat – I made it last week as part of morning tea for a meeting. But it’s a recipe too good not to share:

Salted Cornmeal Sugar Cookies from neverhomemaker. This is another “fit foodie” type of blog I follow, with some excellent vegetarian recipes. I’m no veggie or vegan by any means, but I sure do love eating vegan and vegetarian food. This blog features some fantastic recipes of that persuasion, especially of the “healthified” baking variety.

These cookies were part of a Christmas series last year, and I can’t believe it’s taken me almost a year since to make them, as they’re fantastic! You get the soft, crumbly sweetness of a sugar cookie, with the satisfyingly gritty crunch of cornmeal – I’ll definitely be making these again.

But, I must confess, I think my favourite part of this cookie is the salted frosting. I think it’s well established by now that I love mind-bending salty/sweet combinations. It may sound strange, but the frosting really makes this cookie. Think compulsive combination of salty/sweet/crunchy.

Just a tip from me – halve what the recipe says for the quantities of frosting. I had way too much left over, and frosting like this is a little dangerous to have in the fridge. Or perhaps that’s just me…

Anyway, go check out the recipe here (I just love the purple icing Ashley used – it almost looks silver!)

If you’re a pinner, don’t just sit at the computer admiring other people’s pretty work – get out there and make something pin-worthy yourself this week. Happy Creating!

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Wow, it’s been a busy start to the week. Meetings, appointments, functions, and a whole lot of baking (accompanied by a whole lot of washing up.) I don’t think I want to see another vanilla cupcake for a while…

It’s already Wednesday (and November…how did that happen?) and I’m tired. I’m a little under the weather today and while I was lying on the couch, getting sucked into the visual vortex that is Pinterest, I decided it was high time to write my first Make A Pin Monday post…even if it is Wednesday.

What is Make a Pin Monday? MAPM (as I will refer to henceforth) is my attempt to make my growing Pinterest habit a productive one.

But first, what is Pinterest? It’s a website which acts as a virtual pin board for all those cool things you see on the Internet. Whenever you see a recipe you’d like to make, a craft tutorial you want to try, a photo which takes your breath away…you can “pin it” to one of your boards, thanks to some clever software. You can follow your friends, and people you admire, and see what is inspiring them too. Browsing through Pinterest’s visual library is amazing…and the pinning thing is kind of addicting.

So, to make sure these images don’t just stay in my mind as ideas, I’m trying to make something from my pin boards at least once a week and sharing the end results to keep myself accountable, hence the idea for MAPM (and besides, it’s a pretty catchy name, you have to admit…)

Surprisingly, I’ve made a lot of “pins” already, mostly of the food persuasion (are we really that surprised people?) The “try new things” philosophy has also extended to other areas of my life, and I’m working my way through my paper files of inspiration too.

Today I wanted to share one of my “pins” I have made – triple chocolate donuts from The Edible Perspective. I first tried Ashley’s gluten-free donut recipe for cinnamon donuts about a month ago, and was blown away. The texture was incredible – just like a donut you would buy from the shops, but they’re baked, not bathed in fat. There isn’t too much “bad stuff” in the ingredient list either. Mr B and I tore our way through that batch in no time at all – and I haven’t seen Mr B demolish baked goods like that in ages. I’ve got a picture to show you how cute and close to real donuts they look:

I used a donut pan I’ve had for years to get the shape – I’m sure you’d be able to find a pan on the Internet somewhere, considering every single food blogger seems to be making these donuts at the moment.

Since making the cinnamon donuts, I had been thinking of how delicious a chocolate version would be, and Ashley beat me to the punch. One look and I had those suckers pinned – I couldn’t wait to try this recipe out.

Don’t those babies look amazing (if I do say so myself?) I had three different toppings; the chocolate sprinkles, the tiny silver chacous and a caster sugar/cocoa/cinnamon mix. My icing was a little different to Ashley’s – I melted 3 tablespoons of butter, mixed in 1/2 cup icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, dunked the donuts in then coated them in sprinkles.

The end result? So good, especially while still a little warm. Gooey chocolate goodness, with the tender chew of a cake donut…and relatively healthy to boot. Mr B thinks these donuts are best eaten the day they’re made, as he took the batch in to work the next day and wasn’t as blown away as he was by the cinnamon ones. But his colleagues didn’t seem to have any complaints…

I can’t wait to try more of Ashley’s donut variations – I have quite a few pinned away, waiting to come to life in my kitchen.

Want to make these chocolate delights yourself? Here’s the recipe. Oh, and here’s the recipe for the cinnamon ones too. Goes without saying I want to try the lemon ones…

Just a note: sweet rice flour in Australia is known as glutinous rice flour – you can find it in Asian supermarkets and some grocery stores.

So that’s my first MAPM…on a Wednesday. Here’s to me actually posting next week on Monday!

Thanks again to all who commented on the blog your heart post. I honestly value and appreciate every single one of you, and thank you for your support. 

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The week that was…

This week, I…

…did a lot of exercise outdoors, including a hike up to Moon Gate 5 on Penang Hill. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, for various reasons, and boy it felt good to hit the hiking trail again. Having good company along for the hike is always a bonus, and I’m sure I’ll be doing this trail a couple of times each week for at least the next month. I’m hiking Kota Kinabalu in mid-November and I have not done anywhere near enough prep work; better get working on that. I’ve also been doing workouts on the resistance equipment at Youth Park, interspersed with quick jogs around the track. It’s a nice change from the gym, being out in the morning sunshine (though I had my share of indoor time with my PT session).

…had such a great time making cards at my card making workshop. The cards for the troops are now all packaged and ready to be sent.

…enjoyed cooking up a storm for the workshop, and found myself wishing I had more opportunities to bake. There’s so many recipes I want to try, I’d be baking a cake or a batch of cookies each day. Perhaps I need to host a morning tea, or just randomly surprise people by dropping off cupcakes at their door…

…went and tried out the new Kopi Cine (or Kopi C/China House as its now known) with a friend. The verdict? This place is going to be amazing; it already is and they’re still finishing off the finer details. A cafe space, fine dining room, reading room, art gallery…they also had an impressive arrangement of baked goods which reminded me of CWA afternoon teas, and a list of ice cream flavours which made my mind boggle. The food was divine and the sour cream and brown sugar ice cream I tried was pretty darn seductive (I want to make it at home!) I didn’t take any photos as I was too busy chatting and scoffing down food, but trust me, I’ll be going back soon.

…did take a photo on my “Kopi Cine day out”…of washing on the line. My friend may have thought I was nuts, but I loved the colourful batik prints, the lush plants and how both contrasted with the peeling wall. I had visions in my head of playing around with the picture in Photoshop, and this is one of my experiments so far:

…signed up for Pinterest. I’ve been resisting this phenomenon, telling myself I don’t need any more social network time sucks in my life… but then a friend sent me an invite, and I succumbed to the allure. And yes, I was definitely a pin-a-holic for the first few days. It’s addicting, but at least it’s allowed me to tidy up my folder of bookmarked websites into organised and pretty inspiration boards. I’m planning to institute a “Make A Pin Monday” so that I’m doing something with this inspiration at least once a week. We’ll see how that goes…on Monday. And if you want to jump on the Pin bandwagon, just leave me a message and I’ll send an invite. It’s only fair to spread the addiction love…

… Came to the realisation I have all the ingredients for Cosmopolitans in my kitchen. Except the martini glasses, which are back in Australia in storage. It’s just not the same, drinking a Cosmo from a tumbler, is it?

Next week, I…

…hope to complete at least three hikes up Penang Hill, as well as my regular gym workouts.

…want to go take photos down in Little India in the lead-up to Deepavali.

…try and attempt to do one “Make a Pin Monday”.

…really would like to do dim sum again. And visit Kopi C again. Is that too much eating out for one week? (Don’t answer that, Mr Personal Trainer…)

Happy Saturday people!

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