Brown is Beautiful

There is no end in sight to my baking odyssey. Today, my boss (he who wants me to write a blog post about the demise of The Bold and the Beautiful’s Stephanie Forrester), had a hankering for raspberry brownies, and I was happy to oblige.

raspberrybrownies

Here’s the recipe, adapted from a treasured cookbook given to me by a lovely colleague:

  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250g butter, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar (I used about a cup, really. I was tempted to use stevia, but wasn’t sure it would give the same fudgy result)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate powder (I used Cadbury’s powdered drinking cocoa, which contains sugar)
  • 1 1/3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
  1. Preheat your oven to 170C.
  2. Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with baking paper. Leave enough paper hanging over the edges of the tin so it’ll be easy to lift the uncut brownie cake out after baking.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a pan.
  4. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together, then mix in the brown sugar.
  5. Whisk the chocolate-butter mixture into the eggs-and-sugar bowl. You will be tempted to eat a large spoonful of batter at this point. (Maybe that’s just me.)
  6. Sift in the dry ingredients. Mix well. You will again be tempted to eat an even larger spoonful of the batter. Go ahead. I would.
  7. Stir in the raspberries, then pour the mixture into the baking tin.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes. It’s deemed ready if you jab a skewer into it and find a few moist crumbs on the stick. (I tested it at the 40-minute mark and it there was a lot of moist goo as well as crumbs on the skewer, so I turned off the fan and baked for a further 10 mins.) Ironically, even though this recipe called for plain flour, it came out double the height of my famous low-cakes. Take the baking tin out of the oven, and let the brownie cake sit in the tin for at least 15 mins. The middle part of it deflated after a while — this is probably not normal. Lift the brownie cake onto a board/bench, then cut into squares.
  9. Devour.

Back to writing now…

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Experimental Sunday Roast

I’m experimenting with food again. You might be thinking, “Shouldn’t you be writing?” but studies have shown writers have big brains that need constant feeding*. So today, for my brain’s and my book’s health, I made a lamb pot pie using a recipe I made up all by myself. It’s very rustic and simple. A bit like me, really! I meant to make this yesterday to celebrate Australia Day, but we went out for Vietnamese food instead.

IMG_2240

Lamb Pot Pie (serves 2 hungry adults)

A measurement conversion calculator can be found here.

Lamb Pie ingredients

  • 500g diced lamb (you can use mince if you don’t like chunky pies)
  • 1 to 2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
  • 10cm spring of rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbspn olive oil (I use extra virgin for everything)
  • 1 tspn hot English mustard
  • salt’n’pepper
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, cut each tomato in half
  • 250mL red wine
  • 250mL beer
  • 2 large potatoes – I used Pontiac. You may need more depending on the baking dish you use. See point 9 below.
  • cream
  • 1 tbpsn Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tspn Vegemite
  • 1 tbspn plain flour or cornflour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan-forced.
  2. Heat the olive oil, then add rosemary and garlic. Keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  3. On high heat, add the lamb and brown it off. Add the tomatoes.
  4. Next splash in the wine and beer, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. By the way, the beer was hubby’s suggestion and it totally worked in well with the wine.
  5. Stir in the mustard.
  6. You want to the sauce to be like a thick gravy (or I do, anyway) and the lamb to be tender. If the gravy is too thin, put the flour and a few tablespoons of the sauce in a cup and whisk till all the lumps come out, then stir into the lamb mixture and simmer gently for up to 10 mins.
  7. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Vegemite and Worcestershire sauce. If you don’t have or like Vegemite, use a stock cube or whatever kind of seasoning you prefer.
  8. Take off the heat.
  9. Peel one of the potatoes (preferably the biggest one), chop into thick chunks and boil till soft. Add a good slop of cream, and mash.
  10. Scoop the lamb mixture into a baking dish. I used four ramekins as individual pie dishes – 9cm wide, 4cm deep.
  11. Top with an even layer of mashed potato, then sprinkle with cheese. I also put teeny bits of butter on top…
  12. Thinly slice the other large, uncooked potato and artfully arrange two or three slices atop the mash. Reserve some slices for the salad (below).
  13. Place in the oven for about 10 mins or until the potatoes are brown and the cheese is bubbling. Take out and leave to cool a little.

Salad ingredients

  • 1 large potato (left over from the pie portion of this menu), sliced chip-thin
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced a little thicker than the potato
  • a big handful of washed rocket (aka arugula)
  • 1/2 tbspn extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the grill (aka broiler) to 200C.
  2. Spread the oil in a baking tray.
  3. Toss the potato thins and fennel into the tray, and then spread them around in an even layer.
  4. Grill until softened/cooked. It took about 5 mins in my oven. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t turn into charcoal.
  5. Place the rocket leaves in a bowl. Add the warm potato and fennel mixture, and use the oil from the baking dish as a dressing. Mix well with tongs.
  6. Serve with the lamb pie, which should now be cool but not too cool enough to eat.

Bon appetit!

In other news, it’s my cat’s 14th birthday today. She’s all grown up and has her own cyber place at P & P Furball Factory. She is not having any of the lamb pie, nor is she having the apple galettes I’m making later…

*I don’t really know of any specific studies to support this, but it makes sense, don’t you think?

O Christmas Feast… O Christmas Feast…

Happy holidays! Or as we Dutch say, “Prettig kerstfeest!” Or…as our cats say, “Merry Catmas!”

Bow-Peep

We’re heading off soon for our traditional “waifs” Christmas feast with friends. Each year we either have lunch or dinner together — I guess it’s dunch or lunner this time, because we’re tucking in at about 3:30. I’ve made these delish pots of salted caramel sauce for our hosts:

Three Wise Jars

Three Wise Jars

Actually, um, the third jar is my Christmas present to myself. The jar on the left contains a generous splash of Frangelico liqueur. Next time I’ll try adding Cointreau. I’ve been saying forever that I’d like to make caramel sauce, since it’s one of my favourite things on earth to eat. I kept buying the ingredients for caramel-making, but I put off making a batch because I had nightmares about burning the sugar so badly I’d have to throw out my pots. However, this recipe by Stephanie at the Lick My Spoon blog was stupendously easy to follow, and the results are gorgeous. Clean-up was a cinch. No burning or crustiness whatsoever! The consistency is a little thin (it’s still cooling), but it will solidify a little more over time. It’s perfect now to drizzle over vanilla ice-cream, but I really should save room for dunch/lunner.

Hmm… Maybe a little tablespoon of caramel by itself won’t hurt…

In goes the cream... Click on the photo for the Lick My Spoon blog's recipe.

In goes the cream… Click on the photo for the Lick My Spoon blog’s recipe.

Frangelico salted caramel sauce + non-alcoholic salted caramel

Ta-da! Frangelico salted caramel sauce + non-alcoholic salted caramel

Enjoy your cooking adventures, everyone! Have a safe and happy break.