Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumpkin and sultana muffins

I try to avoid wasting food as much as possible.  I have found that most vegetables on their last leg are fabulous in a stir fry, and fruit can be included in cakes and jams.

Recently, I had a forlorn piece of pumpkin in the fridge, so I made Phyllis's pumpkin muffins with it.  I have no idea who Phyllis is, but she was a member of The Toowoomba Chronicle Kids Club in 1936 - before my Mum was born!  Phyllis' recipe has been republished, and is online here.

As well as mashed pumpkin, these tasty little muffins contain sultanas.  I really enjoyed these for a change.  Here's a peek inside:

So there you go - if you have a sad piece of pumpkin past its prime in the fridge, whip up some of Phyllis's pumpkin muffins for morning tea - you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Margaret Fulton's Beatles Cake and The Meaning of Life

Forty-two is the number Deep Thought gave as being the Ultimate Answer.  Ford Prefect
The Restaurant at the End of  the Universe, Douglas Adams

It was my birthday recently.  As I do not live near family, if I don't make my own cake, I tend not to get one, so I always make my own.  This year, I had no trouble deciding what cake I was going to make.  After visiting The Beatles in Australia photographic exhibition earlier this year (of which you can read more details in this excellent post), I was fixated by a Beatles party cake in a magazine at the exhibition.  The recipe, which was published in Woman's Day (visible at the bottom of Sewing the 60s exhibition post), was devised by Australia's queen of the kitchen, Margaret Fulton.

I had no idea where I'd get the recipe for this cake, as the magazine in the exhibition was published in the 1960s, way before the Internet, and I had no idea how to track down the magazine.  However, my idle Internet surfing was rewarded recently when I typed in "margaret fulton beatles cake".  By chance, Woman's Day had turned 65 last year, and to celebrate, they had republished Margaret's recipe in an August 2013 edition of the magazine.  Phoodie had published a post about this, so I did another Google search, this time for "woman's day beatles cake".  I then hit the jackpot - the Margareet Fulton Beatles Cake recipe from the 1960s was on their website.  You can find it here.  The cake is described as a burnt sugar party cake, and is frosted with a caramel icing.

You will see from the recipe that Margaret assumed her readers would have some cake baking experience, because while the instructions are adequate for an experienced cake baker, some of the finer details required to make this cake successfully would be lost on a novice baker.  Unfortunately, the link to the Beatles biscuit template does not work, so I had to design my own template, working from the photograph of the cake.  I also decided to use a different caramel icing recipe, as Margaret's version uses 4 cups of brown sugar and is of the tricky fudge variety that is impossible to work with.  That said, the icing that I used got tricky to work with over time, as it dries out and sets fairly quickly.  With respect to the biscuits, I found that they took much longer than the 8-10 minutes quoted for baking time.
Here's a peek inside:

My adapted version of the cake and biscuit recipes is as follows:


1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup hot water 2 ¾ cups plain flour 3 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt175g butter 3 eggs ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk
Grease and line 2 x 8" round cake tins.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place 1/2 cup of sugar into a heavy saucepan and stir over low heat.  When the sugar just turns dark brown, remove it from the heat.  (Don't take the sugar off too early as you won't get a nice caramel coloured cake, but don't leave the sugar for too long or it will taste bitter in the cake.)  Carefully and slowly, add the hot water to the sugar (be careful and stand back, it spits!), and stir the mixture until well combined. Allow this syrup to cool.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.

Beat the softened butter in a stand mixer until soft.  Add the remaining sugar to the butter, beating until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time, and beat well before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and the syrup. 

In a stand mixer on low speed or using a spoon, add the flour and milk alternately to the butter mixture, starting and ending with flour, with three tranches of flour and two tranches of sugar. Mix in each tranche until just combined. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and bake the cake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.  Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning them out onto wire cake racks to cool completely.


125g butter
0g sugar 1 egg yolk 1 cup plain flour 1 cup self raising flour pinch of salt iced waterblack licorice straps for hair and eyescashews for Ringo's noseunsalted peanuts for other nosesglace cherries for mouths 
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius, and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat the softened butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolk.

Using a spoon, fold both flours and the salt into the butter mixture.  Add iced water to the dough and knead in if necessary to make firm dough. (I did add some water.)  Form the dough into a flat disc, wrap it in cling film, and allow it to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface or between two pieces of baking paper until 1/4" thick.  Using a paper or plastic template as a guide, cut out the Beatle heads from the dough with a small sharp knife.  (Cut out 12 head shapes.)  Put the biscuits on to the lined biscuit tray and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Remove the chilled biscuits from the fridge and bake in the preheated oven 8-10 minutes or until pale golden colour. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cut out hair and eyes from the licorice straps, and mouths from the glace cherries, then stick these and the nut "noses" onto the biscuits with a small amount of chocolate icing (see below).

Makes 12 Beatles.   (I only made the four biscuits I needed for the cake - that was more than enough!)        

Caramel icing

I used this icing recipe rather than Margaret's.  Work with it as quickly as you can, as while it is malleable to start with, it firms up quickly.  Use a hot knife to help spread the icing if necessary.

Chocolate icing for piping and sticking on Beatles' "faces"

50g softened butter
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa

Beat together the butter, icing sugar and cocoa in a stand mixer. Add sufficient milk to make the icing a smooth piping texture.   

Cake assembly

Place one half of the cooled cake on a cake board or cake plate.  Spread one third of the caramel icing on top of the cake, going right to the edges.  Place the second cake on top of the first, then spread the remaining caramel icing over the top and sides of both cakes. Pipe music notes around the sides of the cake (and Beatles lyrics if you like) with the chocolate icing. Place the Beatles biscuits on top of the cake, securing with a little chocolate icing if necessary.

Yeah, yeah!

Friday, September 19, 2014

FFWD - Tuna and mango ceviche


For French Friday with Dorie this week, things are a little fishy - our menu item was tuna and mango ceviche.   Dorie did provide an option whereby you could sear the tuna instead (and hence no longer having ceviche), however, I decided to go the purist route and give the original recipe a go.

This dish is pretty easy to make - diced raw tuna, diced mango, diced avocado, lime segments, chilli and red onion with a lime vinaigrette to "cook" the tuna - and a splash of rum and Tabasco sauce.

While I wouldn't say I loved this dish, I didn't mind it either - it was OK.  However, I can't see myself making it again.  I bought a tiny, expensive bottle of Tabasco sauce for this dish, which I will use again - I like it on the hot side.

To see whether the other Doristas made the ceviche or the seared tuna version, or whether they went the optional shrimp route, check out the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WWDH - Caramelised balsamic tomatoes with chicken

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Sarah has chosen Donna's Caramelised Balsamic Tomatoes with Chicken.  I don't know why the recipe title leaves out the chicken, as it is an integral part of the recipe.

This dish was quite tasty.  I served the chicken and caramelised balsamic tomatoes with stir fried vegetables, and it made a hearty complete meal.

For dessert, I tried Peters Caramel Popcorn Fandangles:

There are 10 in a box, which come individually wrapped:

They come on a cool purple plastic stick with stars that allows you to get a code from the box:

to play an online game.  Highly recommended deliciousness!

To see what Sarah, Margaret and Chaya thought of this week's dish, visit their websites.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Apple, Rye and Ginger Teacake

Recently, Frank Camorra of Movida fame published a recipe in The Age for an Apple, Rye and Ginger Teacake.  It looked really good, with an apple layer in the middle of the cake as well as on top.  However, I didn't have any rye flour.

Fate played into my hands when my colleague Swee and I went to a health food store, which lo and behold, sold rye flour (rather pricey at $7.50 for a 1kg bag, compared with 75 cents for a bag of plain flour at the supermarket).

I had apples at home, so a cake was born:   

I am with Frank, who says in his opening comments that:

When making a cake at home I look for one thing: ease. Nothing puts me off more than fiddly, time-consuming recipes.

Amen to that.
This cake was moist from the apple and all round delicious.  It's a definite keeper.
I also bought these gorgeous cupcakes from Sophisticakes, who were represented at a food and wine event in the bottom of my office building: 

Flavours were passionfruit, lemon, red velvet, white chocolate and strawberry, white chocolate and raspberry and salted caramel.  I shared them with my friends and colleagues, but these tasty little cakes were a steal at $2.50 each.  The lemon one (bright green) had a heart on top, but I later found it underneath the strawberry one (butterfly) - probably just as well, as I gave the lemon cake to my boss.

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Angelo's House Restaurant, Toowoomba

Last weekend was my Mum's birthday, and I made the trek to Toowoomba to see her.  When I asked Mum where she wanted to go for dinner, she chose Angelo's House.  As its name suggests, Angelo's is situated in a large old weatherboard house, with tongue and groove internal panelling.  There is a lounge by the bar where you can have a quiet drink while waiting to go to your table, and a fireplace that looks like it would be warm and inviting on a cold winters day.

The food has a strong Italian bent.   We decided to go for a main course and a dessert each.  We started with the garlic bread ($9) - basically a toasted baguette spread with garlic butter, and nothing to get excited about.

For main, Mum chose the  Beef, Thyme and Kipfler Potato Pie served with mashed potato and broccolini ($25.90):

Mum enjoyed this pick, and I have to say that it looked delicious.

I chose the main sized serving of Spaghetti Bolognese ($25.90):

It was a very generous serving, and was rich and flavoursome.  I thought I might not get through it, but it was so good, I had no worries polishing it off.

My brother chose the herb marinated chicken breast with bacon, mushroom, port wine and cream sauce, kipfler potatoes and green beans ($29.90):

He enjoyed this dish, and as he is a very fussy eater, Angelo's created a winner in my eyes.

Mum was going to skip dessert because she thought it was too expensive.  I said nonsense to that, and she was glad, as Mum enjoyed the dessert very much.  I chose the pistachio and lemon cake, made from semolina, almond meal and polenta, and served with honeyed yoghurt and Persian fairy floss ($11.50):

This was a gorgeous cake - it was beautifully moist from the lemon syrup, and the tangy yoghurt accompaniment complimented the flavours nicely.

Both Mum and my brother chose the Apple and Raisin Crumble, with macadamias and coconut, and accompanied by vanilla bean gelato and custard ($11.50):

Mum was not overly keen on the gelato, but found the crumble to be beautiful, and she was especially impressed by the macadamia nuts in the crumble topping.

The front of house service was excellent.  Our waiter did the job but did not match the excellence of front of house, but we did get a lovely, friendly waitress for the dessert course.

We all enjoyed Angelo's House, and there will definitely be a repeat visit.

210 Herries St
Toowoomba QLD 4350
Ph: +61 7 4659 9200 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie - Great British Book of Baking

It had been ages since I made a lemon meringue pie.  I love the fluffy meringue top and tart, toothsome filling, but with so many other things to make, I had overlooked this old-fashioned favourite for a while.

When my colleague, Collette, asked me did I make lemon meringue pie, I decided to prove that I do by making one.

I ended up using Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough for the base, and for the filling, I used the recipe from p168 of The Great British Book of Baking by Linda Collister:

You need to blind bake your pastry shell in a 9" tart pan, and let it cool.  Then you make the filling, as follows:

Lemon Filling

3 medium lemons
40g cornflour
300ml boiling water
3 egg yolks
85g sugar
50g butter

Meringue topping

4 egg whites (I used just 3)
200g sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Grate the zest from the lemons into a heatproof bowl, then add the juice and cornflour and stir to make a smooth paste. Add the boiling water and mix to combine, then empty into a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens, then reduce the heat and simmer for a minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the yolks, then mix in the butter and sugar.  (I then put the mixture in the pan back on the stove and heated it until it thickened a little more because it seemed quite runny and I was worried it wouldn't set.)   Pour the lemon filling into the baked pastry shell. 

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and whisk until it forms a glossy smooth meringue. Spoon the meringue on top of the filling, spreading it right to the edges and completely covering the filling.

Bake the pie in the oven for 20 minutes until the meringue is golden brown.  Allow the pie to cool before serving.  While the recipe says to serve the pie at room temperature, I liked it best chilled.