Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Roasted Pepper & Beef Stir-fry Wrap

So... what happens when you haven't posted anything in an entire week? Do you wait until a bout of fresh motivation to write grabs you or do you write something anyway? Well, just today, I'm going to wing it and write something anyway.

This writing, not writing thing is something I face more often than not. As I have a full-time job, one of the most difficult things to do after a long, tiring day at work is coming home only to switch on ANOTHER computer. Seriously? It's the absolute last thing I want to do, which is why my blog will likely remain something for my pleasure instead of a money-spinner.

Sometimes, cooking dinner too becomes a real challenge. That's when I whip something super simple that is perhaps not to everyone's taste, but who cares really? I'm the one who has to prepare it, eat it and wash the dishes after!

The Roasted Pepper & Beef Stir-Fry Wrap is a breeze to make. All you need to have on hand are some Tortilla Wraps, sliced Beef, Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil and some Guacamole. All store-bought.

What you need to do - Saute the Beef and some Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil with some Salt and Black Pepper. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the Wraps. Lay your Wraps flat on a plate, smear some Guacamole (as much as you want) down the middle, place the cooked Beef on it, wrap it up and eat. All in 15 minutes. What more can you ask for?

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Mocha Java Cakes

So here's what we had (or rather what we didn't have for dessert on cook-out night. We all thought the the scrumptious Lemon Roast Chicken was goin to end on the sweetest of notes with these Mocha Java Cakes, but it didn't. Not quite. Well, so it did in a half-past-six manner. I'm not making any sense? 

You see, the batter was made correctly, but unfortunately the cooking time stated in the original recipe didn't work for the cold oven we baked them in despite preheating the oven to the given high temperature. What did we end up with? Little chocolate puddings that were not set.

We tried to unmould one (tried being the keyword) and we found that it had set on the top but not all around the molten centre. So back in the oven it went for another 15 minutes.

We unmoulded the second pudding and that while better was still not set properly. So, we ate whatever we could and I put the remaining four puds back into the oven for as long as it took for us to finish a bottle of wine... for oh say about an extra 20 minutes with only the oven's bottom heat turned on.

We said our goodbyes at about 11pm. I switched-off the oven and left the four puds to cool in the kitchen overnight.

This morning, I warmed them up and unmoulded one to check. Perfect! It came out with a soft plop and I enjoyed a little death-by-chocolate for breakfast. What a fine start to an overcast Saturday morning!

Adapted from Southern Living

180g salted Butter
200g good-quality Dark Chocolate
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee Powder
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 whole Eggs
4 Egg Yolks
230g Raw Sugar
70g Plain Flour
A little Butter and Flour, for ramekins

Preheat the oven at 180 Celsius. Butter and flour 6 ramekins well. Place them all in a shallow square baking tin (swiss-roll tin). Set aside.

In a saucepan on very low heat, melt the Butter and Dark Chocolate gently. Mix through until smooth and remove from heat. Mix in the Vanilla Extract and Instant Coffee Powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat Eggs, Egg Yolks and Raw Sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer for about 7 minutes.

Add in the Plain Flour and Chocolate mixture. Beat for about 1 minute until well combined.

Transfer the batter into a large jug and pour into the prepared remekins.

Bake the pudding at 180 Celsius for about 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, run a knife gently along the inside of one ramekin. If the knife comes out clean, the pudding is set. If not, put it back into the oven to cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes using the bottom heat of the oven only. Check if its done at the 5 minute and 10 minute mark.

When done, remove from the oven and let them stand for 10 minutes. Then gently run a knife round the inside of the ramekins and turn out the pudding on individual serving plates. Garnish, if desired.

Jamie Oliver's Lemon Roast Chicken

The lovely Jesse, SIL and I had a second cook-out yesterday. This time we had Lemon Roast Chicken and Mocha Java Cakes for dinner and dessert respectively.

I've used Jamie's recipe over the years whenever a roast chook is called for and have never regretted it. It remains to this day one of the best recipes I've ever made with spot-on results.

Preparation for dinner and dessert started at 7pm after Jesse arrived with the shopping. As usual there was a lot of chatting going on during the prep so by the time we sat down to dinner it was well past 9pm!

Still, well worth the wait (as you cannot hurry a good roast) as we were rewarded with a scrumptiously moist and succulent dish. (gobble, gobble) We finished dinner on a sweet note of very molten Mocha Java Cakes (more about that later) and a deliciously crisp, sweet Alice White Moscato.

I toddled-off to bed very tired but happy last night... and am sure the rest did too!

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

2kg Chicken
Sea Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Olive Oil
1.5kg Potatoes, peeled
1 large Lemon
8 cloves Garlic
1 handful fresh Thyme
1 handful fresh Rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
8 rashers Smoked Streaky Bacon

Rub the Chicken inside and out with a generous amount of Sea Salt, freshly ground Black Pepper and Olive Oil. Do this in the morning if possible, then cover the Chicken and leave in the fridge until you're ready to start cooking it for lunch or dinner.

Preheat your oven to 190 Celsius.

Bring a large pan of Water to the boil. Cut the Potatoes into quarters, put them into the Water with the whole Lemon and Garlic cloves. Cook for 15 minutes until Potatoes are done. Drain into a colander and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier Potatoes), then remove the Lemon and Garlic.

Toss the Potatoes and Rosemary in the colander while still hot so their outsides get chuffed-up and fluffy – this will make them lovely and crispy when they roast.

While the Lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times.

Take the Chicken out of the fridge. Push the Garlic cloves, the whole Lemon and the Thyme into the cavity, then put the Chicken into a roasting tray and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes.

After the 45 minute mark, remove the Chicken from the oven. Some lovely fat should have cooked out of it into the roasting tray, so toss the Potatoes and Rosemary in the fat and arrange them at the side of the Chicken.

Lay the Bacon over the Chicken breast and cook for a further 45 minutes, or until the Chicken is cooked and the Potatoes are nice and golden. (You can tell the Chicken is cooked when the thigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)

Serve immediately with a nice cool Salad.

Fudgy No-Butter Brownies

As you know from the previous post, there was nary a lick of butter in the house for weeks. With no time to visit the shops, I desperately scoured the all-knowing Net to look for baking recipes that required no butter. Lucky for me, I found a GOOD recipe. The brownies were delicious!

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

300g Icing Sugar, sifted
56g Cocoa Powder, sifted
200g Ground Almonds
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 whole Eggs + 1 Egg White
2 tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

About 200g Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, divided

Preheat oven to 160 Celsius. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch baking tin with parchment paper, letting it hang over the sides of the tin.

Sift Icing Sugar and Cocoa Powder into a large mixing bowl. Add Ground Almonds and Sea Salt. Stir to combine. Add whole Eggs, Egg White, Milk and Vanilla Extract. Stir until smooth. The batter will be thick. Stir through some Chocolate Chips.

Scrape batter into the prepared baking tin, smooth the top and scatter over the remainder Chocolate Chips. Bake until a shiny crust forms and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist sticky bits, about 30 - 40 minutes.

Cool brownies completely in the baking tin before removing and cutting into squares.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Baker's Gold

I've run out of butter for the first time in many, many years. The freezer - where I keep my stash - is well and truly empty. Horror of all horrors! I'm beginning to have withdrawal symptoms from not having butter around. Why? Because I cannot bake, that's why! What a predicament.

I do love butter. Yes, yes, all skinny bitches say it's chock full of fat. I say *eff* off. I just might outlive you lot. I heard of a little old English lady once who lived to a hundred and when asked how she did it, replied she had a bacon breakfast every morning. Hah! So you stick to your plasticky margarine, while I stick to utterly buttery natural goodness.

Source -

Being a butter fanatic comes with a price (I know I'm not alone). We watch the price of butter closely. When it goes up 10 cents we cringe, 50 cents up we wring our hands in despondence and anything beyond that is just plain daylight robbery.

Where do we buy our precious golden treasure? Baking supplies shops. We get 250g packs for less than what it would cost to buy 227g packs from the grocer. The rule of thumb - for the Australian or New Zealander you head to the baking supplies shop; for the Irish or French you go to your upmarket grocer. Selling price point determines where they are sold.

Source - The Internet

We may switch brands... if ever! May being the keyword here, because we have our loyalties and they lie in the direction of specific brands or countries.

Source - The Internet

My love for baking means I bake all sorts of goodies imaginable fairly regularly. In my kitchen, different bakes call for different types of butter. For instance, I use Anchor for all types of baked goods, Golden Churn for a rich golden Butter Cake, Kerrygold for simple bakes using very few ingredients i.e. Butter Biscuits and Lescure for French delights. On bread it's Kerrygold all the way.

Source - The Internet

Have a look at this article on 30 Great Butters by Saveur. Three of the four mentioned above is on that list.

One last thing - I like my butter SALTED, or Demi-Sel s'il vous plait.