Friday, August 31, 2012

Empty the fridge baking

It's the end of the week and I have a few bits and bobs left in my fridge that I'd prefer to use than throw away. One of these items is 3/4 of a bag of beetroot bulbs. I've seen a few recipes where beetroots have been added to baking to make something sweet, but never tried it. Last year my friend at work made me a chocolate beetroot cake for my birthday and it was delicious - so moist and rich. However, being the end of the week, I had minimal butter, no eggs and no chocolate left... so what to do with the beetroots I just roasted (besides making a salad, which I will have for dinner tonight!!). I did a little search online and found a few recipes for beetroot biscuits. I decided to play with this idea and made some end-of-the-week-fridge-clean-out cookies! They were surprisingly nice, not the most delicious biscuit I've ever made/eaten, but worth a try. They are crumbly and have a nice chocolate hit followed by the sweetness of the beetroot. ENJOY.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who needs a reason to bake?

There are many reasons to bake - birthdays, celebrations, dinner parties... however my reason for baking last night was because I bought a new tin! I have been wanting to buy a bundt tin for ages and finally did over the weekend. I also had some passionfruits and a lemon which looked like they were in desperate need of being used, so that was another reason. Actually, I don't need a reason to bake, I just do it because I love it!

This is a delicious cake to share for morning tea or with coffee. It is moist yet crumbles between the fingers. The flavour is subtle with the butter coming through nicely, however if you'd like a stronger passionfruit flavour, add an extra passionfruit or two. The coconut adds a final tropical flavour and texture to the cake. So yummy! ENJOY.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So Frenchy, so chic

Last night I had my brother and his girlfriend came over for dinner. I use them as an excuse to make something special and generally try something new. Last night, for no particular reason, I decided to go French. I think the direction actually came from the desire to have seafood. I'm not overly confident with cooking seafood as I haven't done it much before, but I found a recipe for a french style seafood soup and thought it looked pretty easy. So, for dinner I made Seafood Bouillabaisse w/ a Capsicum Rouille. The Bouillabaisse was eaten too fast to even get a picture, however I can describe it - a deliciously warming soup with lovely chunks of seafood, a small kick from the rouille and some crunch from the crusty bread (also perfect lapping up the remaining flavours).

Dessert was chocolate cake. This recipe is from a basic French cooking book I've had for year. It is so easy and has minimal ingredients. It's also gluten free, so I like to think that means it's a healthy cake. To make it even more healthy, I wanted to add blueberries, which I had bought yesterday morning from the markets. The cake is so fudgy and rich though, I didn't want to make it too complex by adding the berries to the actual cake, so instead made a creamy topping, which helped balance the richness of the chocolate.

Needless to say, dinner was a hit. Peter and Nadia brought two amazing bottles of wine and as always, we had a great catch-up. Thanks guys and hope you enjoy the left over cake I made you take home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dedicated to Ms Banoffee

Tomorrow is my friend Lisa's last day at work. I've mentioned her before, she's the one we through a baby shower for a week or so ago. Kinda obvious why she's leaving us... This post is dedicated to her.

I started at my current job at QPAC almost 4 years ago. I had wanted to work at QPAC for a long time and was so excited to finally get my foot in the door. Behind my excitement was that awkward feeling you always get when starting a new job and the over-hanging question "was changing jobs the right decision?". On my first day I met everyone in the team and they were all nice. Then I met Lisa and her warmth and instant friendship made me feel right at home. I was suppose to sit with her for about half an hour so she could explain what she does and show me a few things I'd be doing. Suddenly about 2 hours had flown by and we had barely touched on either of our roles. This kind of behaviour continued over the years. She sat separately from our team so I was to act as the bridge between her role and our team. We took this as permission to get a hot chocolate a few times a week and just chat - don't worry, we always took some spreadsheets in case we needed to talk about work. We'd get lost in conversation and completely loose track of time - this pretty much sums up our friendship. She is someone who is instantly accepting and backs me up 100%. I am really sad to see her leaving our team, but over the past 4 years I've developed a really strong friendship with Lisa and am excited that we've manage to be friends at and outside of work (and will continue to be). She's supported me through some really tough periods in my life and is always there when I need that little bit of extra help. I am now looking forward to supporting her and her hubby around the birth of their first baby (if they want me there or not haha). 

So, to send Lisa off properly I have created my own style of her favourite dessert - Banoffee Pie. My version is in a portable and easy to eat form of a cupcake. Enjoy!

The team eating some cake: Kate, Leisa, Dave and Lisa

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy RSPCA cupcake day

Today is RSPCA Cupcake Day. I never had a dog growing up, and even now I don't have any pets (a toddler is enough work), but I was still excited about baking today. Yes, it's raising money for a charity, so yay to yes, but I'm more excited about being able to show off my cupcakes to the team at work and seeing what everyone else has made. 

I saw a post on raspberri cupcakes blog a while ago and really wanted to give it a go. I thought a work bake-off was the perfect occasion! I was a little concerned though that one batch of cupcakes wouldn't be enough, so I got up at 5am this morning and made a batch of double chocolate cupcakes with a sour cream ganach. The smell of chocolate that early in the morning was a bit overwhelming, also proabably aided in the tantrum my toddler through as I tried to get us out of the door in time. Oh well, it was all worth it as we rasied over $250. Happy cupcake day everyone!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A confession and chocolate

A small confession to start with - I use to work at The Cheesecake Shop. This was my first job and it was much better then working behind a counter of a greasy fast food chain. I got to decorate cakes and write messages for special occasions. Instead of smelling like chicken fat at the end of the day (like some of my friends did), I smelt like cream and sugar. This was my first introduction to baking and working with food. It was a few more years before I started my own baking and getting excited about food, but I will always remember my time there as a nice introduction.

The reason I bring this up, is I got to try many different flavours and types of cake while working at the Cheesecake Shop. I have never been much of a nut fan, so I always surprised myself when I tried the pecan pie and then want more and more. The gooey filling with the crunch of the pecans lured me in and was even more amazing when heated up in the microwave for a bit. I haven't worked at the Cheesecake Shop for about 7 years, and since then rarely gone in and had their cakes. A few weeks ago I was given a slice of caramel pecan pie (not from the Cheesecake Shop) and the memories of eating pecan pie and all the cakey goodness came back to me. I decided to make my own pie, which of course meant adding chocolate. So here it is, my homage to my days at The Cheesecake Shop and Pecan Pie!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A burst of summer in winter

Today was cold! Cold for Brisbane anyway. Apparently it was 3 below average this morning. It is definitely Ekka time (always cold and everyone's sick). This morning at the train station I shivered while standing in what must be the coldest platform in Brisbane. I am not really a Summer girl, but I was keen on anything to warm my bones, even a touch of Summer. Luckily last night I did some baking with some classic summery flavours. If I can't be warm, at least I can eat something that reminds me of warmth. A hot cup of tea and one of these for morning tea has made my morning. ENJOY!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Here's to the Mummy to be!

My dear friend Lisa is about to have a baby. A few months ago in a flurry of excitement, another friend from work and I decided we NEEDED to throw her a baby shower (as she was avoiding having one at all). How could she miss having a heap of people around telling her awful birth stories, or playing games that would make a non-pregnant person churn, or stressing over whether people will turn up... doesn't sound all that awesome now I think about it, although it was!

We were a little slack in organising, however pulled it all at the last minute. We had many grand plans with the styling and decorating, but in the end decided simple was best. I also had a disaster day in the kitchen. The food I have baked perfectly a thousand times before stuffed up and the food I usually have trouble with was amazing. I even made two batches of sugar cookies, both for some reason came out of the oven crystalised (any tips onto why would be great). I ended up making two batches of cupcakes (not all successful), caramel tarts, custard tarts, sandwiches, avocado and tomato bites, and roast pumpkin and onion jam tarts.

Lisa was a beautiful Mummy-to-be and we had a wonderful morning. I can't wait to meet the little man! Counting down the weeks.