Monday, December 26, 2011

Watch out, a Strawberry Charlatan

We survived Christmas for another year. 

Since having a child, Christmas has completely changed. Santa is once again part of the equation and we set "traps" for him and his reindeer. We also get up at dawn and spend the day with a sugared-up toddler. We are then generally too exhausted to get drunk and end up falling into bed and going straight to sleep.

Another thing to note is Christmas in Brisbane is hot. For some reason, most of us follow the traditions of the colder climates and serve ham, turkey, roast veggies and pudding, ie hot and heavy. As I generally make some kind of dessert to share at our family's Christmas gatherings, I decided this year to make something a little light and fruity. And with the above comments regarding our change of Christmas routine and our cold climate charade, I've decided to call my dessert a Strawberry Charlatan (instead of a Strawberry Charlotte).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Possibly the best fruit cake EVER!

Tis the season to be jolly and one thing which is sure to make you happy is this Rich Chocolate Fruit Cake. It's from multiple Women's Weekly Christmas edition cookbooks, but it taste so good that it deserves to be in multiple copies.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just putting it out there - I love Christmas lights. I am very happy to say that my son has inherited this trait from me. So, here are some pictures from our Christmas light excursion last night. Merry Christmas.

Baked gifts come from the heart

There are some foods you can't go without at Christmas. You have to overdose on ham (breakfast, lunch and dinner), you must eat Christmas pudding smothered in thick custard (YUMMMM) and you have to indulge in practically everything presented to you. As you might be able to tell, Christmas is all about the food for me. However, I also love finding great gifts for people and watching them open them. So, why not combine these two joys? To continue with my baked gifts, this post features what I made for my son's teachers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas surprise cupcakes for the office

Today is my last day of work for the year. It's been a pretty big year starting with the floods that hit Brisbane, the manic clean-up, a new boss, two changes in job title, as well as lots of laughter, a few fights, tears and craziness. So how do we cap it off? With cupcakes of course. 

To say thanks to my workmates for putting up with me, I made some special Christmas surprise cupcakes. The surprise, my Christmas Cherry Jam from the weekend. The jam provides a tantalising sweetness to the cupcakes, perfectly offsetting the buttery icing. ENJOY and THANKS!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week-before-Christmas dessert

Put your ice-cream down. Forget about the cheese platter. Don't even bother popping to the corner store for a Vienetta. I have a pre-Christmas dessert for you (and it's really easy to make). I have been waiting for months for the follow-up of Mowielicious' online magazine. The first one was stunning - beautiful photos, great recipes and the use of superb fresh produce. When I found out his second magazine would be a Christmas edition, I stalked his blog until it was launched. 

A very jammy Christmas

I think I have already mentioned my plans to bake for as many gifts as I can this year. With a week until Christmas, I really have to get moving.

We are doing a type of Secret Santa this year with my husband's family. This post is kinda breaking the surprise (if he or the family reads this post), but one of my people is my Grandfather-in-law. He's a vegetarian and quite hard to buy for (don't worry, was not planning on getting him a chunk of meat, just thought I'd throw that piece of trivia in there). Last year I made him some chocolate sauces and they were a winner. So this year I decided to try jam. At the markets yesterday there were boxes of delicious looking cherries. I hate maraschino cherries or anything cherry flavoured, but I love a juicy, fresh cherry. They are perfectly in season at Christmas, so by default, are the traditional Christmas fruit. So when deciding on a jam flavour, how could I pass up cherry?

Friday, December 16, 2011

A zest for life

Did you know lemons are high in vitamin C and help prevent scurvy? Or that during the European Renaissance, fashionable ladies used lemon juice as a way to redden their lips? I'm not much of a fan of the taste of lemons, so I was unsure of what to write in this post. To keep things interesting, I found some lemon facts. So, to continue, did you know lemon juice is about 5% citric acid and lemons have a pH of 2 to 3. Also, lemonade may have originated from medieval Egypt. Interesting.

The reason I'm writing about lemons is I was recently asked by a friend to make some cupcakes. As always, I made my chocolate cupcakes but wanted to make a second flavour, something a bit lighter for those who don't share my sweet tooth. Lemon it was. To my surprise, the cupcakes were delicious. The use of the lemon zest in the icing instead of the juice gave it an amazing freshness, a zing, something I wasn't expecting. So, here it is, my lemon cupcakes for even the lemon haters amongst us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An angel for the top of the Christmas tree

I love Christmas. I love singing Christmas carols (to myself as I am incredible tone deaf!), I love Christmas food, I love buying presents for people and I love the festive feeling that is in the air. 

Growing up, Christmas was always a big affair full of tradition. We always put the Christmas tree up on the 1st December with carols playing in the background and my sister breaking at least one ornament (age did not stop this tradition). My Mum sat back and watched until it was time to put the angel on the top of the tree - that was her job. I have so many wonderful memories of those years that I want to incorporate some of them into my own family so my son can enjoy them he grows up. My family always used a fake tree, however my husband's family used a live tree. More often than not it would be a massive branch that they found somewhere in a park (or one year, just on the side of the road). My husband has always said he wanted us to have a real tree, so this year, we do. It's not huge, but something that can grow and take on a shape of it's own.

An abundance of raspberries

At the markets yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see fresh raspberries. What was even more exciting though was the sign under them reading: 3 punnets for $5. Now, how can you pass up an offer like that?

There are so many things you can do with raspberries. I contemplated raspberry stuffed profiteroles, white chocolate and raspberry cake, raspberry jam, or something simple like a raspberry smoothy (very likely will also do this one). In the end though, I decided the best match for raspberries was chocolate. So, this weekend we are enjoying some choc-raspberry brownies. Let me hear you say "Mmmmmmmm".