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…and another thing…

I’ve been wondering lately…

Am I craaazy, to be considering this idea?

(Guess the great Aussie song I’ve just ripped off)

When I first started blogging, I didn’t really have an idea or a theme for my blog, hence the name Jane B – because I just wanted this blog to be about anything I wanted it to be about.

It’s become known as “the food and stamping” blog among my friends because they’re the two things I tend to write about a lot – my passion for papercraft, and my ongoing love affair with cooking and baking. I also tend to throw in some travel yarns and stories about Penang as well.

But lately, I’ve been thinking of changing the status quo. As much as I like to talk about food and stamping, I don’t know if the two of them really belong together on one blog. So here’s what I’m thinking of doing- splitting the blog in two. Keeping this blog as a foodie/travel/general musings type blog, and starting another blog for the papercraft stuff. I’m wondering if I’m crazy to consider it, which is why I am writing this post and putting it out there. Please share your thoughts on what you enjoy most about this blog, and what you think of my “split” idea. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

(Oh, and there’s some super yummy food posts in the works. Yes, I have been in a big-time “foodie mood” lately, if you haven’t already guessed…)

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Hello lover. It’s been too long since we last met.

Beneath this crackly brown surface lies pure tastebud pleasure:

See, I told you. Look at that goo.

This, my friends is what I call a Gooey Chocolate Pot.  The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s book Feast, where these oozy chocolatey delights are named Chocohotopots. I prefer to call them Gooey Chocolate Pots because they remind me of a dish I ate at a restaurant in Bowral, NSW, many years ago. Oh, the memory makes my mouth water. Think of a crispy shell which you crack to reveal gooey molten chocolate inside. Bliss.

Now, wipe that drool off the keyboard and I’ll tell you a bit more about the recipe.

Gooey Chocolate Pots are very easy to make. I was inspired to make these again after a friend gave me a recipe for that famous five minute microwave chocolate cake that you can find on the internet. These are just as easy and only take a fraction more time to make for excellent results. This chocolate pot recipe also lends itself to all sorts of delicious add-ins, like white chocolate chips, raspberries (a fabulous addition I’ve made many times) or some liqueur.  I recently made this recipe with a few teaspoons of Baileys in it, and it was a great combination – the smooth taste of Baileys permeated each gooey bite. I think a bit of Kahlua or Tia Maria added to the mix would totally knock your socks off.

I’ve halved the recipe to make two, so you can make them for you and a special someone. These babies are so good, they could inspire marriage proposals, so make them for someone you love:

GOOEY CHOCOLATE POTS

  • 65g butter, plus extra to grease your ramekins
  • 65g dark chocolate (make sure it’s good dark chocolate, 70 per cent cocoa solids makes it very decadent!)
  • 1 egg
  • 75g caster sugar (though you could reduce this if you like, as the end result can be very sweet)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup frozen raspberries OR 50g chocolate chips OR 2 teaspoons liqueur 

METHOD
Heat the oven to 200 degrees C and grease two ramekins (they should just be over 1/2 cup capacity)
Then, either in the microwave or in a metal bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter and set aside to cool.
In another bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and flour together until combined then add the chocolate mixture.
Add your optional extras (if using) and then divide the chocolate mixture between the four ramekins.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes by which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate still gooey underneath. Keep an eye on them, they may be done by about the 12 minute mark depending on your oven.
Place each ramekin on a plate with a small teaspoon and serve. Warn your lucky recipients these beauties will be HOT!

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There are some foods I should never expose my taste buds to, because after one bite I am overwhelmed with a compulsive need to devour the remaining portion in one sitting. Even if I live to regret that decision the next day, or month when my pants don’t fit so well…

This white chocolate cranberry fudge is one of “those foods”. Actually, fudge in general for me is one of “those foods” (I have a mouth full of sweet teeth). Actually, can fudge even be considered food, considering it is basically just pure sugar and fat and has zippo nutritional value? Hmm. Moving right along…

I made this fudge to put in the little pouches I made for my Christmas in July card making workshop, and it’s fair to say the ladies attending my workshop enjoyed their little taster of fudge. I’m sure they also appreciated the fact I bought along a little container with extra fudge to nibble on too.

This fudge is embarrassingly simple to make. You could play around with the recipe by using different types of chocolate, as well as adding different fruit, some nuts, perhaps some flavouring essences like peppermint essence… the possibilities are endless.

The recipe comes from an old issue of Better Homes and Gardens (affectionately known as “Better Homes than Yours” in the B household). When I made this the other day I halved the recipe, and it still made quite a lot. I’m giving you the full quantities so you have the power to halve this recipe yourself.

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge

  • 3 x 375g packets white chocolate melts
  • 2 x 395g cans condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar (if you have the pure icing sugar, this is best)
  • 1 cup craisins

Line two 20cm square cake tins with baking paper. Melt the chocolate and condensed milk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (I used my double boiler) and stir until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat, add the icing sugar and craisins and stir to combine. Pour into your cake tins, smooth the surface and put it in the fridge for several hours or overnight until firm. To serve, cut into small rectangles or use some biscuit cutters to cut out fudge shapes. Store in the fridge. Best served at room temperature but still delicious cold from the fridge.

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Time for a bit of shameless self promotion 🙂

One of the hats I’m wearing at the moment is blogger for a new website, www.childless.com.au. I’m writing a blog, the Ex-Pat Files, about my current life as a “lady of leisure” living in South East Asia.

I’m blogging fortnightly about my experiences and put up a new post this week, so go check it out here

And, wouldn’t you know it, I’m talking about food this week…

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I’ve blogged about this elsewhere on the internet before, but having consumed this again recently I’ve decided it needs a post on my newest blog baby.

This couscous salad really is the most fabulous dish, I absolutely love it. My husband also loves it and has been known to put in specific requests for me to make it – and if you know my man, there’s no higher recommendation than that.

Among the ingredients there’s chickpeas, there’s haloumi (that salty, squeaky, toothsome cheese that is at its best when cooked) and there’s mint, chilli, spring onions, paprika and lemon, combining for a fragrant, flavoursome punch.

We eat it just on its own, as is, for dinner, but it would be great served up at a barbecue. It’s great warm but just as edible cold the next day.

This recipe originated from Super Food Ideas (an Australian food mag), I’ve played around with the ingredient ratios again to make something that satisfied two hungry people (with those all-important leftovers for lunch the next day). Oh, and I threw some asparagus into this particular salad (just in case you notice any spears!)

Couscous salad with chickpeas and haloumi

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup couscous
150g haloumi cheese (you can get away with more if you like, we always do!)
1 1/2 cups of chick peas (or a 400g can) drained and rinsed
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 long red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
Dressing
1 small lemon, rind finely grated, and juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat up the stock, either by bringing it to the boil in a small saucepan or boiling the kettle and adding a stock cube (my preferred method!). Place couscous in a large, heatproof bowl, add hot stock, stir with a fork then cover with foil for five minutes and let the stock absorb.
While the stock is absorbing, cut up the haloumi into rectangles (say three pieces). Heat a non-stick frying pan, then add the haloumi and cook for one to two minutes each side until golden.
Transfer to a chopping board, and chop each slice into cubes.
Take the foil off your couscous and stir it with a fork to separate and fluff up the grains.
Add the haloumi to the couscous with chickpeas, spring onion, mint and chilli. Toss to combine.
To make the dressing whisk the lemon rind, any juice from the lemon, paprika and oil in a jug until well combined. Pour dressing over salad, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Put into big bowls and scoff down.

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