Monthly Archives: August 2014

Vanilla Marshmallows

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While we were recently overseas in Australia, my son became quite the babycino connoisseur. For those outside Australia, a babycino is basically frothed milk served in an espresso mug with a dusting of cocoa and sometimes marshmallow on the side. If I was having a coffee, he would insist on having one himself. The first time he got a marshmallow, I was worried. My son is super active, what would he do with that extra hit of sugar? Turns out I didn’t need to worry, he took one look at the marshmallow, squeezed it, sniffed it and threw it on the ground. I don’t blame him, I can’t remember the last time I ate a store bought marshmallow. I find them dry, floury and usually tasteless.

My mother always made marshmallows at home. Soft, pillowy ones in a variety of colours. It’s something I’ve taken to doing too, as they’re sure to impress and they’re super easy. A couple of years ago, I boxed red and green marshmallows and gave edible Christmas gifts for friends.

This weekend is Labor Day weekend in the US. Traditionally a day to celebrate the American labor movement, it has also come to mean the unofficial end of summer. Next week the kids are back at school. Most locals celebrate with BBQs, trips to the beach and in our neighbourhood a BBQ and street party. This will be my contribution to the event, some pillowy soft marshmallows. Labor Day parties tend to be themed red, blue and white, so are my marshmallows.

For the full recipe click here

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Wattalappam



 

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A few  weeks ago I was sitting around the kitchen table with my mum and aunties discussing all things life. It so happened that the topic of wattalappam came up. Now, a discussing in a Lankan kitchen is never complete without some heated discussion. The argument over eggs raged on for quite some time. Was 5 eggs per tin of coconut milk enough? Would it achieve the desired porous texture? Was 10 better?  Should the palm sugar be grated? Or heated in coconut milk till it melted? And the most controversial of all….to spice or not to spice? My brother-in-law wont touch anything with identifiable pieces. And how could I forget the great oven versus steam debate.

Wattalappam is one of my all time favourite Sri Lankan desserts, a delicious sweet and spicy custard of coconut milk and kithul/palm sugar. It’s really dependent on the quality of the palm sugar, and nowadays they dark brown rolls of palm sugar available at most Asian groceries will be perfect for the job. I love adding my favourite spices, cinnamon, cardoman, clove and a touch of nutmeg to lighting spice the custard.

 

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Ingredients

  • 350g of dark palm sugar grated
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. group cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 2 cloves crushed
  • 2 cardoman pods crushed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

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Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

In a small saucepan add the coconut milk, palm sugar and spices. Heat gently until the sugar is just dissolved. Take off the heat and leave the mixture to cool and infuse Crack the 8 eggs into a medium bowl and whisk. Add the the cooled sugar mixture to the eggs mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and stir.Strain the mixture into an ovenproof dish.

I find I get the best texture by baking this like I do my creme brulees. I place the baking dish in a tray of hot water and place both in the oven together. Bake for 30 minutes. Test by gently wobbling the pudding, it should be firm all the way across. If it’s still wobbly, leave for a little longer.  The pudding may look puffy when in the oven. Don’t worry it will settle right back down.

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Cool and serve with a garnish of cashew nuts, if you wish.

 

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Spicy Beef Patties

 

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I was cleaning out my freezer and made the awesome discovery of a box of these frozen from a couple of months ago. Yay. Suffice it to say, these spicy, delicious morsels freeze really well. They’re a labour of love but amazingly worth it.

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Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 500g flour
  • ½ cup butter cold chopped
  • ½ lime juiced
  • ice cold water
  • egg yolk
  • extra flour for dusting

For the filling

  • 250g (1/2 lb) beef/pork mince
  • 1/2 small onion chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp. chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder (roasted)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium potatoes parboiled and chopped into small cubes
  • oil for deep frying

Instructions

In a medium fry pan (skillet) place the mince and fry until golden. Add the spices. When the mince is brown add the onions, garlic and curry leaves. Fry until the onion is soft and add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are cooked through and have a bit of colour.  Leave the mixture to cool.

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In the meantime.  Place the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer (or food processor)and add the butter. Mix slowly until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the lime juice and egg yolk and mix well. Now add the ice cold water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Leave the dough to rest for about 15 minutes.

Roll the dough till it’s about 1/4cm or 1/8inch of an inch thick. Use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking or use baking paper on your bench top. Using a pastry cutter or cup, cut circles from the dough. My circles were about 4 inches/10cm

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Using a single circle at a time, place a tsp. of filling onto one half of the circle, keeping close to the middle. Brush egg white (or water if you prefer) along the edge and fold the pastry over, making a little crescent.

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Now use a fork to press along the edges.

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Deep fry the patties in hot oil until golden brown and crisp on the outside.

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Drain well and serve with plenty of tomato or chilli sauce.

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Kid Friendly Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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There was an article last week on Babble or some related “parenting” blog about 10 things people don’t understand till they are a parent. I understood very little before my son would come along. I was adamant that he would fit into my life, not the other way around. “He’ll be flexible” I told anyone that would listen, while my husband and I tut-tutted at parents whose schedules were ruled by errant children. “He’ll be adaptable and I will certainly not kowtow to his demands”, I asserted. He will eat whatever is put in front of him and I definitely won’t be one of those mums that “hides” veggies in foods, my son and I will have an open and honest relationship. HA!  Callum was about 9 months old before I started scouring Jessica Seinfeld’s book about how to hide veggies in his food.  Admittedly he’s not a terrible eater but I always feel that he could be a little more enthusiastic about eating his peas.

There’s plenty of research out there that suggests that instead of hiding vegetables in food, getting kids involved in the growing and preparation of food is incredible powerful. Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation has been pioneering this idea in Australia and now even Jamie Oliver has jumped on board.  I’ve definitely seen that in action as a teacher. I’ve had nearly sixty kindergarten children scrambling to buy silverbeet, spinach and carrots just because they helped grow them. Not to mention a whole class of year ones and twos devouring buckets of fruit salad that they’d prepared themselves.

I find muffins are the perfect recipe for cooking with kids. There are no mixers involved, it can all be done by hand and there’s plenty of steps involved if you’re working with a large group of kids. This recipe has the bonus of being packed with nutritious veggies that are virtually undetectable once baked in,  and it’s free of refined sugar. An adult friend who I gave these muffins to spent almost five minutes searching for the hidden zucchini, adamant I was lying.

If you’re making this with younger kids, have everything prepared and ready to go in individual bowls. Older kids can easily be involved in the measuring and counting.

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For the full recipe, click here

 

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