Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Food that my Mum made ...

So lately I am clearly going through a little spate of making food from my childhood, because just the other day I asked my Mum how to make potato pancakes and now I've attempted potato fans, which I distinctly remember having as a kid. Now that I think hard about it, I have no clear recollection of any specific occasion that I had these and I can't even remember if Mum made them often or not, or even if it was Mum or Dad that made them. I just remember potatoes, cut into fans and baked until golden. I tried to make them once before, a long time ago, and was not impressed. Recently I saw a blog about this exact thing, but called by a different name: hasselbackspotatis, and I was inspired to try them again. This time around, however, I used plenty of salt and oil and had the patience to wait for them to cook properly (I hate baking potatoes in the oven, it takes so long!). They were good - really good. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and each piece of the 'fan' peeled away to give you a bite-sized potato slice. I get the feeling that maybe my Mum used to use smaller potatoes, like new potatoes perhaps, and I reckon that next time I will peel them, though the skin was really yummy and crispy. They are sort of like a cross between roast potatoes and baked potatoes, but more interesting than both.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sweet, Salty, Sticky Stirfry

Plus awesome alliteration. The other day I was having a nosy at all of the recipes that people post on blog-hop linky parties and I found this amazing looking dish called Mongolian Beef. I can't actually remember what linky I found it through, I should have taken note of it, but the blog was called Juanita's Cocina and I will have to check out her other recipes because this was so good! I did have to adapt it somewhat because I wanted to fill it with vegetables, and didn't have quite enough of the sauce ingredients. But I guess that just means that I will have to make it again sometime soon! It was very fast to make, so it was the perfect dish for a cold evening when you've had a long day at work and topped it off with rugby practice (my new sport/hobby, should be interesting considering my lack of co-ordination). The sauce was dark and thick and both sweet and salty at the same time. The sauce was so good, if I had more soy sauce I would have made extra, just for pouring all over my rice.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hearty Chicken Soup

Bad weather and busy days call for a big pot of thick, hearty soup, waiting for you on the stove when you get home. I brought a big stock pot the other day, so now I can make a real pot of soup, and I made so much that I'll be eating this chicken soup for weeks. It's in the fridge, it's in the freezer, and soon I hope that some more of it will be in my tummy. The recipe was the invention of a blogger that goes by the moniker of Bake Up, Little Suzy and I pretty much kept to the original. It was very good, like cream of chicken and vegetable soup, only so full of chunks that it could almost be eaten with a fork. You should definitely make some of this, like, immediately. It really helps when the air outside is full of water (seriously, it's not even raining, there is just water hanging in the air, being blown around by the wind, as if the entire city is stuck inside a cloud, getting us all soaking wet).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quick Cheesy Pasta

Today was far more tiring than your average Friday, and for no apparrent reason because I didn't really do much - I didn't have the energy to do much. By the time the working day was finally over I figured that there must be a reason that I was so tired, and come to think of it I have been eating an awful lot of junk food this week, and probably not enough real food. So, the solution to that? To go home and make something nutritious for dinner, so that tomorrow I will have the energy to go for a run and go shopping and attempt to crochet a pair of booties for a friend's baby-to-be, and basically make the most of it being the weekend! My nutrititous dinner featured wholegrain pasta, because you're supposed to have about 6 servings of wholegrains a day, which is an awful lot, and I doubt that I get that much most days. There was cheese, not something I usually eat much of but sometimes you feel like a change, and I had no meat and a full meal needs a bit of protein. Finally, my favourite, there was brocolli, which gives you lots of vitamin C and iron and all sorts of antioxidants in general.


So that will probably keep me going a bit better than peanut butter sandwiches and too much chocolate cake (there was just lots of cake at work this week, practically every day, and I couldn't help but eat it, really, it wasn't my fault, it was just sitting there, and it needed to be eaten ...). To top it all off, the pasta was really yummy so I'm going to share my recipe with the world (or at least, anybody that is interested).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Little Apple Pies

Today at work we had a going-away morning tea for our secretary, who is retiring (lucky her). I often have difficulty distributing my baking to the staff here because it is generally far too sweet. I'd been planning on making apple pie for ages, because it seems to be everybody's favourite and I think that being able to make a great apple pie would be a good skill to have. Thus the invention of these delicious little things. I had a look at several recipes online, including one by Paula Deen, one by Momswhothink and one by Cookingnook and they all seem pretty much the same, funnily enough. The filling part I could have guessed at and I'm sure it would have been fine, but one thing that they all did was dot the filling with butter before putting the lid on. So I have tried that, and I was going to try a new pastry recipe, but I was tired so stuck with my own sweet short-crust pastry recipe this time around. I made so much filling that I will have to make another, large pie over the weekend but I have modified the recipe below to make a smaller amount (perfect for, say, 20 little pies?)


More Food for Friends

As you might be able to tell, I cook far too much, too often, to really keep up with it on my blog. The other day I posted about the breadsticks and dip that I made last weekend as an appetizer to shared with friends - that of course was not all there was to the meal. The main course consisted of a salad full of flower petals and this stirfry, both featuring plenty of lime because that seems to be the current craze. For us at least. It's really good too! I was wary of making a meat dish with lime because once I had some sort of port cooked in lime at a Chinese restaurant and I thought that it tasted somewhat like dishwashing liquid. This dish, however, most certainly did not! I began by marinating chicken in lime, spices and sugar. The I stirfried it up with vegetables, fat noodles and a bit of extra liquid to make sauce. It was amazing! Definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pancakes for Pancake Day!

Today is pancake day, something that I had never heard of till I came here to Ireland, but I have no large family to feed in the morning and to be honest, I hate getting out of bed in the morning so I just wasn't up to making myself pancakes for breakfast. I think they go down much better in the evening! I decided first of all to make potato pancakes because I remember my mum making them when I was a kid. They are made all over the place and I have sampled Lithuanian and Austrian potato pancakes - everybody seems to think that they have a unique, traditional dish and are disappointed when I tell them that I grew up with these too! I asked my Mum how to make them and below is her recipe. Well, sort of. It's one of those things that you just approximate, so this is an approximate recipe that should turn out good.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Incredibly Edible Appetizers

On Saturday I got to indulge in one of my favourite activities, which is of course to feed my friends lots of yummy foods. I've been wanting to try breadsticks for ages but it wasn't really the type of night for eating soup, so after lots of debating with myself I decided that breadsticks can go with dip as well as nacho chips can. The breadsticks recipe comes out of this great cookbook that I hae that has no name other than 'Home Baking' and has no author other than the brand name 'Love Food'. They turned out really well; they smelt amazing in the oven and they were somewhat addictive when it came time to eat them. The dip was good to, but it was just dip. The breadsticks I could have made again immediately, as soon as they were finished, because they were just that good.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More frosting! (plus some muffins)

My baking for the week may seem somewhat out of season here in the Northern hemisphere because it proudly features pumpkin! I still have plenty of pureed pumpkin in my freezer from last autumn and have been wanting to make these muffins for ages. Years ago, when I was in about my 3rd year of university, I had a pumpkin and did not know what to do with it. First of all, I made pumpkin pie for the first time ever and absolutely loved it. Then I simply typed 'pumpkin recipes' into google and one of the first things that caught my eye was these pumpkin muffins. Of course, that was about 5 years ago now so I have no idea where the recipe came from, and I can't even remember if this is the original recipe or if I have changed it. What I can tell you for sure is that my muffins seem to turn out differently every time and I don't know why. On this occasion I made two batches of muffins, one right after the other, because I wanted to feed plenty of people but I know that you shouldn't leave muffin batter sitting around for 20 minutes while you wait for the first batch to bake (I only have one muffin tin, you see). The only difference between the batches was that I used different baking powders (I ran out, but luckily had cream of tartar and baking soda to make my own) and one batter might have been a little overmixed. The resulting muffins were so different! One batch had sort of small, solid muffins with rough, pale tops. The other muffins were huge and sort of more cake-like, and more browned on the top. How strange is that? They were both delicious though. They didn't even need the cream cheese frosting but I added it anyway, because who can say no to frosting, really?


Friday, February 17, 2012

Amazing Buttercream Frosting

As I mentioned some time ago, I am actually a bit behind in these posts - I just bake too much and couldn't keep up! So now it is Friday and I have, of course, been baking for my 'official' weekly baking day. But, as per usual, I just couldn't refrain from baking earlier in the week. Today I made Pumpkin Muffins but you will have to wait until Sunday to read about those. This post is about what I made on Tuesday, which was Valentine's day, which is of course a silly commercial invention with no real meaning to individual couples, but any excuse to bake is a good one, right?! On Monday evening I suddenly got the urge to make some pretty cupcakes and I don't generally need much more encouragement than that. The cupcakes that I made were basic vanilla ones, and I thought that I must have written the recipe out badly wrong because the texture just didn't seem quite right. Yet everybody that I have given them to reckons that they are the most amazingly soft and moist cupcakes they've ever had so I guess the recipe is fine. I posted this recipe before though, I am just repeating it to add a couple of changes. The real 'pièce de résistance' of the day was the buttercream frosting that I topped the cupcakes with!


I wanted to have a really good recipe to fall back on so I have borrowed this one from 'The Baker Chick' and it was amazing! It's my new favourite, and everybody raved about it. Just don't tell people what's in it, they'll be shocked at how much butter it takes!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vege Soup & Cheese Bread

Here in Ireland they measure out the seasons differently to the rest of the world, meaning that it is already spring here even though it is only February. Where I am from it is still summer. However, the weather here is actually abiding by the official seasons for once and has been really clear since the start of February (though really cold and frosty) and there are already daffodils and crocuses. The days have gotten longer and to look out the window you would often think that it's a suitable day for just wearing a t-shirt. But that's where you'd be wrong because it is freezing out there! So I have made soup again this week, to warm me up when I get home from work. This week I made vegetable soup and it is delicious, but what is even more amazingly delicious is the cheese bread that I made. I got the recipe from another blog called 'What Katie's Baking' and it is so good that I could have eaten the entire loaf by myself! However, I managed to refrain.


This is a quick-bread and the method is just like making muffins, but the texture was quite different to a muffin. The mixture is small so it either needs a small loaf tin, or to be doubled! It was a great recipe and I have not changed it at all, except to add a bit of cayenne pepper because that seemed like a good idea, only I added a little too much so my bread is quite spicy, woops!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spaghetti & Meatballs

My current cooking goal is to to figure out how to make really amazing meatballs. It just seems like a good dish to be able to do well. So the news that next month's cooking challenge is to be spaghetti fell right in with my plans and gave me an excuse to begin playing around with new recipes! I think that meatballs might have been the first meal that I really tried to cook, using a recipe out of an old cookbook, and I'd say I was only about 12 or 13 years old. Then I never made them again, and I'm not sure why. They weren't a failure, though the consistency of the sauce was odd, which may have been due to my trying to thicken it with cornflour without really knowing how. To be honest though, I don't actually remember how the meatballs turned out that time. Now I have finally made them again, and they kept me going the whole weekend. I had a look at several different recipes and most of the basic ones are all the same so I made up my own version, combined it with a chunky sauce that I found online and roasted the whole lot together in the oven. It was good, and really simple, but not absolutely spectacular, so I think I will keep this as my 'basic' spaghetti and meatballs recipe. I will continue to look for something really amazing for the cooking challenge!

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Kiwi Cookies

While I was at home in Invercargill over Christmas, I stopped in to visit a friend one day and managed to time my visit perfectly - she was just pull of tray of cookies out of the oven. Not just any cookies, but really amazingly good cookies. Turns out they are her take of an old NZ recipe, one so old that it is no longer in the Edmond's cookbook. Duskies can be found in old NZ recipe books, and my old Edmond's book does actually have a recipe for them, but I would prefer to make them my friend's way. Among the classic cookies in the NZ Edmond's cookbook are Melting Moments, which are plain cookies sandwiched together with icing or jam. So Duskies are a chocolate version and when you sandwich them together with chocolate icing they become Dusky Twins. The recipe is actually the Melting Moments recipe with cocoa powder and extra butter added. They have a strong cocoa taste, they're not to sweet and they are sort of soft and crumbly. They went down really well with all my friends and colleagues here!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roast Tomato Soup & Bread Rolls

This week I have again made a big pot of soup to keep the cold at bay (though today it's actually not very cold at all!) and this is the most amazingly yummy soup that I have had in ages. I found a recipe a couple of weeks ago called roasted tomato soup and I am so glad that I tried it! Why would anybody make normal tomato soup when you could roast them first and have this amazing soup? To be honest, even without turning it into soup I think I could have happily feasted on the roasted tomatoes, peppers and onions just as they were. This soup is slightly sweet and really full of flavour. My soup was not as red as the picture on the original recipe, perhaps due to a different type of tomato or something, mine was an orange-red colour. But what does the colour really matter anyway? To go with my soup I made bread rolls, based on the french bread recipe that I used to make my cheese and garlic twist. This time I made wholemeal bread full of seeds and I have to say, I absolutely love this bread recipe, I am so glad I found it! It is really fast and the dough is really soft and velvety. The finished bread is soft and slightly sweet and it smells amazing!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

More Yummy Oats

Lately my blog has really been picking up, it is so exciting! Yesterday I had more than 100 page views, in just the one day! That's such a record for me. It's all thanks to the Chocolate Cake Challenge. Possibly it is also due to my baking far too much lately. I've been baking so much that I'm a week behind in posting, so even though it is baking day today, this post is about last week's baking day! The plan was to bake an obscure NZ recipe that I picked up from home . However, I did not quite get around to going to the supermarket and after managing to get out of bed despite the temptation of the snooze button I discovered that I could not make what I had intended, which was Dusky Twins. So what could I make at the last minute? Well, how about more oat cookies, since everybody seems to love them so much? This recipe is based on my Butter Oat Biscuits, only has even more oats, no coconut, and the addition of blueberries! I made them once a long time ago and had been wanted to try them again to get the recipe just right. These ones turned out wonderfully but they were eaten so quickly, they are so good you just can't stop at one!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Garlic & Cheese Bread Twist

Today I was at work and I was hungry, so as I often do when I have 10 minutes to procrastinate I began looking a recipes and food blogs. I hopped from one blog to another until I saw this amazing looking bread - it looked so good that I just had to go home and bake it right away. Now this bread actually comes from two blogs; the original bread recipe is for 'french bread' and comes from a blog called 'Jamie Cooks it Up!' (there are quite a lot of people with my name blogging about food out there), but the presentation of the bread is the awesome part about it, it's all twisty and filled with herbs, garlic and cheese - I found it on this other blog, called 'I'm a mom, not a professional'. So, here is my attempt to recreate this most wonderful looking bread. The recipe looked like it made a lot and I don't have so many people to feed so I have halved the recipe. Not only that, but the recipe uses cups! So I have weighed the ingredients so that all of those people that don't know how to use the metric measuring system properly won't complain. The original recipe used an electric mixer but I have made it my own way, because I don't have a mixer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Cake Challenge

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This month's cooking challenge was chocolate cake and when I read that it absolutely made my day - I had an excuse to make chocolate cake even though it was nobody's birthday! The thing about these challenges is that the recipe is supposed to new to you, so you can't use your classic recipe that you love, and if possible it should be something different to just the usual. Not only that, but it has to come from another personal blog. Which is the part that I find most difficult. The last couple of times that I did this challenge I kept bemoaning to myself how difficult it is to search for recipes from blogs alone, instead of the huge commercial websites. There are loads of blog-rolls out there for food blogs but they don't actually let you search the content of each blog, and I think that google's blog search only brings up google blogs (like mine). But then I remembered that I am actually already part of a website that is all about indexing food-blog entries so that they can be searched! It's called erecipecards and I've been contributing to it for ages to try and get my readership up, so I decided it was high time to actually use it myself. I typed 'chocolate cake' into the search button and actually managed to find something that looked really unusual and unique (and yummy). It was so fast too! So here it is, my food challenge entry, a chocolate cake that features red wine!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice

Once again, I have broken my self-imposed baking restriction in order to make this amazing cake recipe that I saw on another blog ages ago and have wanted to make ever since. I was invited to a friend's place for dinner so of course I absolutely had to make something sweet to bring. At first I was thinking of making some yummy cookies but then I remembered that my freezer is full of pumpkin puree, so I decided to make a pumpkin cake! The recipe comes from The Baker Chick and while mine did not look quite like hers, it was really yummy. I had a lot of really good comments from all of my friends who thought it was absolutely amazing so it is definitely worth having a go at. The original recipe is for pumpkin swirl bars, but I found that it was far more cakey than bar-like. Not only that, but my cream cheese swirl wasn't very much of a swirl, it was more a golden layer on the top, and pockets of extra gooey soft bit in the cake. Of course, everything has to have chocolate so I added a sprinkle of chocolate chips!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Anamika's Chicken Curry

When I was  living in Germany I had a friend from India who, like me, loved to cook. It's great when you meet somebody that you can talk about food with! Before leaving Germany I got to experience her cooking and I enjoyed it so much that I asked for a recipe. Of course, like me, she tends to just throw things together so the recipe was only an approximation, and I will have to make this again and probably again after that because I remember her curry as being delicious and mine was only OK, not to mention absolutely ridiculously spicy! So below you can find a recipe for chicken curry, which is only an approximation of what my friend cooked for me and is also not quite the same as what I made - hopefully it is better! You can of course adapt the recipe however you like and spices don't necessarily need to be measured, so much as sprinkled in until it tastes good. I find that I don't much like the taste of ginger, cloves and cardamom so I use less of these, while I generally use a lot of cumin because I like the somewhat smoky flavour that it imparts. I will be much more careful with the chilli the next time that I make a curry and if I improve upon the recipe then I will come straight back here to change this. For now, however, here is a quite a good recipe for a simple Indian curry.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Milk Chocolate Fudge Biscuits

So lately I have been baking far too often, my once-a-week rule has really gone out the window, but not entirely because I haven't just been at home baking for no reason. I mean, when you are invited to somebody's place for dinner, you should of course brings something with you, like dessert, right? And if you're in somebody else's home and you leave the cookies there (like these ones below) then it also doesn't count. And if I take them all to work to share around and try really hard not to eat them all myself, then I think that's OK too. So these cookies are about the 3rd thing that I baked within a week, and then I baked again last night and have more baking to do tomorrow. So you see I'm running a little behind on these posts. These biscuits turned out very sweet and sort of caramel flavoured. I had Dr Oetker fudge bits to put in them but  you could just use chocolate chunks if you don't have anything else. They were not just fudge in taste but also fudge in consistency, even when cold, so the title would still stand true.