Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hopping John

Small girl loves beans. This is good, instead of just relying on meat for protein, we do different sorts of beans often. This one is a favourite. From the Dean and DeLuca Cookbook it makes enough for one meal for three for now, and one to freeze (freeze the beans and ham before adding the rice, then heat and add rice as per usual). Sometimes we can't find a ham hock, substituting good quality ham and a cup of stock as part of the 1 litre of water works ok.

225g black-eyed beans, soaked overnight
1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
l litre water
1 smoked ham hock or some chopped up thickly sliced ham
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
225g basmati rice
pinch of ground clove
2 sprigs chopped fresh thyme

For garnishing:
1 chopped tomato
2 chopped sping onions
handful chopped fresh parsley
a few sprigs chopped fresh mint
ground red pepper

Fry the onion, celery and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the water, ham hock (if using ham this can be added later), bayleaf and beans. Either cook in a pressure cooker for 9 minutes or gently simmer for 2 hours until beans are tender.

Remove the ham hock and dice the meat and return to pot, throwing out the bone. If using plain ham, add it at this point. Also add cloves, thyme and salt. If you intend to freeze half of this do it now (rice does not freeze very well).

Add rice (remembering to only add 112g if you have frozen half of the beans and ham) and bring back to the boil. Cover and cook gently (using heat mat) for 20 minutes, then turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.

Serve in bowls with garnishes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Birthday Cake

otherwise now know as 'bob builder cake'. Small girl turned two so we needed a cake. So far I've found cakes the biggest challenge, the pritken style fruit cake is ok, but I didn't think it was birthday cake material. This recipe is modified from the Australian Womens Weekly 'Kids Birthday Cakes'. I've given the quantity for one cake (ie enough for a 18cm round tin), for this cake I tripled the recipe and baked it in a 21 x 31 cm tin.

125g Butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tsp No Egg
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup of milk, plus 2 tbs

Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix the No Egg with the flour, then stir in the flour and milk in two batches. Bake in a moderate oven until cooked. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool.

I found a 'Bob' image on the web, sized it to fit my cake, printed and cut it out. This I used as a template to cut the cake. The cake was iced using Orchard White Icing from the supermarket. I thought about using a butter cream, but this was pretty easy to drap over the cake. Must remember next time to brush the cake with something sugary to help the icing stick.

I then made pin-pricks through the paper template to make a guide for the decorative icing. Here I just used plain chocolate icing, it was too late at night to mess around with colours, and I quite like the monochrome look. I used an icing bag with a plastic nozzle, which meant when the icing started getting a little firm I could pop it in the microwave for a few moments. This sort of icing doesn't stick as well as royal icing, but I couldn't think of any other options.

Chocolate Icing

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbs boiling water
1 tsp butter
1 tbs cocoa

Melt the butter, add the rest of the ingrediants and warm very gently on the stove.

The hardest thing was deciding where to put the candles, they ended up in the hat. The cake tasted pretty good for something without eggs and the birthday girl was delighted.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Drop Scones

I've discovered drop scones. I think some people call them pikelets, they could really just be described as mini-pancakes. And they are quick. I was reluctant to delve into egg replacement products, but how long can you live without pancakes. The amount below is enough to fill one large frypan, which is enough for one hungry toddler and mum for morning or afternoon tea.

½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp NO EGG
1 ½ tbs sugar
1 tbs melted butter
½ cup milk

Mix dry ingredients, add milk and butter (melt butter in frying pan you are about to use), and mix well. Drop spoonfuls onto moderately hot greased frying pan. When bubbles have formed and burst, turn over and cook until done.

Serve with lots of butter and jam.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Spinach and Cheese Muffins

Still on the spinach theme, these are yummy warm spread with cream cheese or butter. They freeze well, this recipe makes approx 18 in a mini-muffin tin.

120ml milk
30ml oil or melted butter
45g grated cheese
40g grated parmesan cheese
70g or half a bunch spinach, chopped well
240g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Mix milk, butter or oil, cheeses and spinach in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until just combined. Place dessertspoons into mini-size muffin tin and bake at 200°C for 20 minutes.