Sunday, 29 January 2012

Kids in the kitchen

We made scones today. Or rather, Jessica and Zoe, my daughters made scones. I stood there and told them what to do - I wasn't allowed to actually touch them.

We started off by reviewing the kitchen rules. These are courtesy of my sister, who has a knack for putting things simply.

Then we put on aprons, collected ingredients and utensils and got to work. We used the "cheat's" recipe with cream and lemonade, because hot little fingers have trouble rubbing butter into flour without melting it. They also get bored very easily, and don't tend to have the staying power needed for rubbing.

The biggest challenge making scones with kids is preventing overhandling of the dough. My high school home economics teacher told me to treat scones as though they were made of GTN. Imagine mixing a bowl of explosives - it gives you a light hand! Given that my kids are girls though, not boys, I didn't think they would understand the concept of things that go bang. I told them instead that they had to be careful not to pop the bubbles in the lemonade. That worked pretty well. Here are some action shots:
Mixing - go gently!

Cutting out the scones

 The dough got kneaded fairly unevenly. I was taught to fold it over, turn clockwise a quarter turn, fold it in half again, turn again - seven times, no more. That didn't quite happen but we managed okay. Then we cut them out and put them on the tray, brushed them with milk, and they were ready to cook. I did do the putting in the oven part - at 2 and 4 they're not quite ready for that!

They did everything else themselves, though. And the scones turned out quite well. I have to admit that I don't often have heaps of success with scones - I've never been the sort who can whip up a batch of light fluffy high scones as I hear the creak of the garden gate. It makes me feel a bit of a failure as a housewife. But my daughters did well. And they did it all without any tantrums or fights, too!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

It's all in the presentation

Here are the choc malt squares that I mentioned in the last post, cut up and presented in cupcake wrappers. I was worried about the wobbly lines, but cut into small squares, as you can see, they look pretty good. In fact, someone at the afternoon tea today thought that they were professionally made!

They were pretty tasty. I got rave reviews - funny because they are very simple :-)

Here is the recipe, for those who asked me for it:

Choc-Malt Slice (from AWW)
250g plain chocolate biscuits
1 cup maltesers
100g unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
400g milk chocolate, chopped coarsely
1 tbs vegetable oil
White chocolate (I used about 50-70g)

1. Grease 20x30cm rectangular pan (I used a 23cm square pan, which worked fine). Line base and sides with baking paper.
2. Process 200g of the biscuits until fine; chop remaining biscuits coarsely. 
3. Crush/chop maltesers (I put them in a plastic bag and got my girls to bash them with a glass). You don't want them powdered - leave some chunks.
4. Stir butter and condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat until smooth.
5. Combine processed and chopped biscuits with maltesers in a bowl; stir in butter mixture. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Then take it out just before you start the next step, or the chocolate will set too quickly.
6. Stir milk chocolate and in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. WARNING: Do NOT let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, or the chocolate might seize and be useless. Some people like melting chocolate in the microwave. I don't because my microwave always burns the chocolate, and I like standing over a bowl of melting chocolate stirring it - it makes me happy.
7. Set aside the milk chocolate, and melt the white chocolate as above.
8. Pour the milk chocolate over slice and spread out. Put the white chocolate in a piping bag (I use a snap-lock bag with the corner snipped off), and drizzle the white chocolate back and forth over the milk chocolate.
9. Take a toothpick or skewer and drag it across the slice to create a pretty pattern (see picture in the last post). Do this before the chocolate sets!
10. Refrigerate about an hour. Cut using a knife dipped in hot water. You'll want to cut this into pretty small squares.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days (although seriously I think you'll be lucky if it lasts that long)

Note: You could do as the original recipe says, and omit the white chocolate, sticking maltesers into the chocolate before it sets. Or you could just leave it as plain milk chocolate, but it won't look so pretty. The other idea, which my friend Catherine does with her malteser slice, is to skip the milk chocolate, top with white chocolate (you probably wouldn't want 400g of it - try 200-300), then before it sets, sprinkle crushed maltesers on top.

Then you'll need to find something to do with the rest of the condensed milk, as the tins hold 395g and annoyingly you only need 125mL. If you have a sweet tooth, you could try coffee the way my husband discovered in Vietnam - get a shot of coffee and pour it over condensed milk, stir, drink, and wait for your teeth to dissolve.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Choc malt slice

I made this for an afternoon tea I am hosting tomorrow. I'll post on that later because tea, and the gathering of people to enjoy it, deserves a post all to itself.

This was created with a list of oh so yummy but oh so unhealthy ingredients: chocolate biscuits, maltesers, condensed milk and butter. And chocolate on the top. This recipe came from an Australian Women's Weekly book I have. It's no bake, just melt and mix - how easy can you get? I modified it a bit - the recipe had it topped with plain milk chocolate with a malteser sitting on the top of each square, but I couldn't be bothered mathematically lining up the maltesers before I cut it up, so I did the white chocolate instead.

My good friend Catherine gave me a similar recipe for Malteser slice which uses golden syrup instead of condensed milk, and scotch finger biscuits. It is brilliant and I LOVE it, but I thought I would try this recipe out.

I was actually going to make brownies instead, but I am on an egg-free diet at the moment as my baby Ella has been having strange nappies and we are investigating food protein intolerances. At least I can have chocolate - for a while there I was dairy, soy and egg free. Not so fun, but actually quite good for my snacking habits.

Anyway, here it is - hopefully it will taste good. The white chocolate is a bit wobbly at the sides because the slice was a bit too cold when I poured the chocolate on and it was already starting to set. Oh well - you live and learn.

Later note: The recipe is posted on this blog. Find it here: Choc malt slice recipe

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Salmon dinner

I adore salmon but don't get to eat it very often since we moved last year and no longer live near the salmon farms. It's so expensive at the supermarket. Last night's salmon cost over $19. Still, it was a special occasion - my birthday - and still cheaper than eating out.

I cooked it in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil, some shallots, lime rind and sliced limes. I sautéed the shallots and rind a bit before I added the fish. I served it with boiled baby potatoes tossed with butter and chives. I would have used dill but the chives were growing in my garden and the dill wasn't.

I also made a salad with a bag of leaves, some mango, avocado, dried cranberries and roasted cashews. Rather than faff around with a dressing I just drizzled some balsamic vinegar over it.

The drink was a mocktail I made with watermelon put through the blender, not quite an equal part of soda water with lime, and a good slug of Buderim ginger cordial. I served it in wine glasses because I got rid of my martini glasses when I moved. The kids still thought it was fun. I tried making mine into a cocktail with a splash of moscato. It worked but if you try it go easy on the moscato, as the sweetness will overpower the melon. It would probably work with sparkling wine replacing some of the soda water, but the moscato was open, and while I'm breastfeeding I'm not going to open a bottle of bubbles just to spike a cocktail.

It was an easy dinner, and, well, yummy.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Hi, and welcome to my blog. I am an unorganised person when it comes to things like blogs, but we will see how we go. Actually, I'm unorganised about most things. My husband points out to me that I should say disorganised because unorganised isn't a word. I point out that "dis" implies that there is organisation there to be deranged. I never had it in the first place. So I stick with unorganised.

This is a blog about food. I don't pretend to be an expert on food, nor do I have the time or the money to be extravagant with it. But I like it and so here we go.

I am a stay at home mum with three young girls - currently 4, 2 and 5 months. This keeps me busy, and presents some interesting culinary situations. I like to cook. I find it relaxing when I don't have kids jumping around me needing things. I like to cook with my kids but don't do it nearly often enough since I am so busy that it's just quicker and easier to do it myself.

My culinary passion is baking. I just love making things with butter, sugar, and chocolate. The only problem is that my husband isn't much of a snacker, and I feel too guilty if I give my daughters too many sweet biscuits and things, so it's usually me who eats it all. Not that I complain, but my waistline does a bit. I quite enjoy making yummy dinners but it is baking that really gets me going.

Here then is my food blog, ready to drift out with all those other food blogs. I don't know if anyone will read it, but even if no one does it will serve it's purpose as a place for me to chronicle all the food I eat, make and enjoy.