September 19, 2011

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

This weekend for me was all about catching up with friends, and packing.  I go into panic mode when I have to pack for a holiday because I hate forgetting things.  To not have the ‘stuff’ I need while away makes me stress.  So when getting ready for a holiday I write lots of lists, and mostly stand around staring at my bedroom and bathroom thinking of things I need.  Mainly staring more than thinking.

So where am I going?  I’m off to Bali on Thursday for a much needed break.  I’ll be gone a week so you won’t see a post next Monday!

With all the packing and catching up, I didn’t get around to much cooking.  I did however make this yummy pudding for a friends going away dinner that never happened.  Friday night I got home from work, rushed to the shops to pick up some apples and ice-cream, then came home and whipped this up.  While in the oven I get a call from my beloved saying everyone’s going to the pub now.  Dammit.  I doubled this recipe to cater for a few people, so was let with two puddings and no dinner.  Called my brother and gave him one.

With one spare, I took it around to Colin’s (the place we were supposed to be having dinner) plus the ice-cream.  Well, this kind of worked out well - there was no dinner prepared before pub time, so we all devoured the pudding for dinner.  I ate pudding for dinner.  It’s not a first for me, but usually if I am to do this I would eat it at home while on the couch, where no one’s know I ate pudding for dinner.

There’s a couple of ways to make this.  This recipe comes from Donna Hay’s book Seasons, and originally she has written that you stew the fruit in an oven-proof dish over a stove-top then place the cobbler on top and into the oven.  I don’t have that kind of dish so I just stewed them in a saucepan then placed them in a ceramic baking dish.  Also, I didn’t have oats, and to save buying a whole bag for ¼ cup, I just doubled the coconut amount.  In a rush, I also forgot the dust the pudding with icing sugar!  Would have been a nice finish to the crispy and fluffy cobbler with lovely sweet and syrupy fruit underneath.

Apple & Blueberry Cobbler
Recipe by Donna Hay
3 red apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 cup blueberries, frozen is fine
½ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup water
1 vanilla bean (or a teaspoon extract), split and seeds scraped
1 cup self raising flour
¼ cup caster sugar
cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g butter, chopped
¼ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup rolled oats
Icing sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven 180°C.  

In a saucepan over medium heat, add apples, blueberries, sugar, lemon, water & vanilla. 

Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes or until apples are just tender and a nice syrup has formed. Discard vanilla bean.

In a food processor, place the flour, sugar and butter and process until the mixtures resembles bread crumbs.

Place mixture in a bowl and add the milk and vanilla and stir in well.  Add the coconut and oats and stir.  

Place the stewed fruit into a 18 cm oven proof dish (1 litre capacity) and spoon the coconut mixture evenly on top.  Place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream.

Serves 4. 

September 15, 2011

My favourite thing about Spring

This is a bit of a random post, mainly because it has nothing to do with food or cooking.  Now that I think about it I do this quite regularly, the non-food posts.  I hope you don't mind.

But this is the tree that grows at front of my house.  Amazing huh?  I think it's an ornamental plum tree...  does anyone know?  I only get to see it like this for a few weeks per year, then it goes back to a twig looking tree.

My garden overall is like an overgrown bush, so I won't show you any more, at this stage.  I'm currently growing some herbs and such, so might take pics later on and share.  I've been growing basil in my kitchen for a few months, and I tried growing chilli but the seeds wouldn't budge.  I've replanted more now, so fingers crossed I get some bright red little chillies soon!

September 12, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

So after my little whinge last week I’ve realised that although I eat very well (besides the sweet stuff), I think it’s the overall lack of fresh veggies over winter that make you a little pudgy and feel heavier.  Don’t get me wrong, I ate lots of veggies and a few salads over this time, but it was mainly about meat and pasta.  I always  cook with fresh produce and avoid processed foods, but somehow manage to still feel like I’ve over indulged.  I think my serving sizes have got bigger as well.

So, now we are officially in Spring (and how amazing was the weather this weekend Perth people!) I can really get into salads.

I really like this salad, a lot.  It’s the break away from winter salad because it still has a roasted vegetable, but it’s lighter and fresher.  I made this last night to go with a roast chicken, and today it will be my lunch with some more chicken mixed through.

I think most places sell a version of this salad because it’s such a good combination.  You could add or subtract ingredients that you like...  I think a bit of cous cous would work well through this, as well as avocado and sun dried tomatoes.

Large bunch of rocket leaves, enough to cover a the bottom of a serving bowl
500g butternut pumpkin, cubed
Olive oil
Sea salt
Dried thyme
Large handful of pine nuts (about 30g)
50g smooth feta
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar (red wine or apple cider works well)
½ teaspoon mustard (French or whole grain works well)
Good pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cut the pumpkin into cubes (about 2 cm) and evenly place them on the tray.  Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil, sprinkle some salt and thyme, and place in the oven for 45 minutes or until cooked and golden.  Allow to cool.

In a pan over a medium heat, add the pine nuts and toast lightly.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

In a jar with a screw lid, place the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and sea salt.  Shake to mix all the ingredients.

Place the rocket on a large bowl.  Scatter the pumpkin and pine nuts over the top, and crumble over the feta.  Lightly drizzle the dressing over the whole salad.

Serves 4 as a side.

September 9, 2011

Ah Sophia Loren.  Watching Nine on the weekend I realised how beautiful she still is - stunning.   

This quote of hers I love even more.  I'm having a moment lately, well it's more than a moment.  It's a year.  Since I got back from Europe last October (yeah I know right, it's September!) I can't fit into my favourite jeans.  It's no biggie, it happens.  I blame this blog (among other things).  I'm trying new foods all the time, cooking desserts (which I never really did that often), and it's showing.

But hey, I'm Italian!  I love pasta. As Loren says, all you see, I owe to spaghetti (and pudding, and muffins, scones, cupcakes, the list goes on).

And what am I going to do about it...  well, I'm not sure yet.  We'll see.

September 5, 2011

Sticky Date Pudding

It’s spring!  Finally...  after the freezing winter that has just passed we now enter spring.  Only this weekend was cold, and wet.  Spring will be here soon, I hope.

Last weekend when I cooked up my feast, I also cooked some sticky date puddings.  A bit late considering winter’s over, but I needed to make it just once this year.  I like making dessert like this once a year – it makes them more special.  As my brother said “I want to remember this taste so I look forward to it next year”.  That was his reasoning behind having one piece.  I had three.  Over a few days mind you.  Yeah I need to go for a run.

This recipe itself is a special one too.  I'm not sure who came up with it or the history behind it, only that about 6 or 7 years ago, a girl I used to work with bought this pudding in to work.  We devoured it, it was amazing.  I begged her to give me the recipe but she said her mum gave the recipe to no one.  I eventually got it.  It’s hand written on a piece of paper title “Icky Stickly Licky Pudding”. 

Traditionally this is made in a cake tin, but as always, I prefer muffin tins because then I can freeze leftovers.  This never happened because they all disappeared in a few days.   

250g dates
1 cup water
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
75g butter, room temperature
220g caster sugar
2 eggs
220g self-raising flour
150g butter
250g dark brown sugar
150ml cream

Preheat the oven to 150°C.  Grease well a 24cm round cake tin or 12-hole muffin tin.

In a small saucepan, add the dates and water and bring to the boil. Cook until the dates have absorbed the water and are soft and mushy.  Using a food processor of whiz, process the dates until they are a smooth consistency (this is optional, some prefer to keep the texture of the dates).  Return the mix to the saucepan, add the bicarb soda and stir – the mix will expand.

In a large bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat until pale and creamy.  While beating, add the eggs one at a time,then slowly add the flour, continuing to beat until all ingredients come together. Add the date mixture and mix in with a spoon.

Pour the mix into the tin, and bake for 1 hour if using the cake tin, and 40 minutes if using the muffin tin, or until a skewer comes out clean when tested.

To make the sauce, heat the butter, sugar and cream in a small pot over a medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved.  Note – this sauce is super rich so you only need a small amount.

Serve the cake warm with a drizzle of the sauce and a generous amount of ice-cream.

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