Tag Archives: sweet

Healthier Oat & Raisin Cookies

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Raisins are one of Mister C’s current favourite foods. They are the bane of my existence, I find the little black shrivelled masses everywhere. They’re especially hard to clean out off the black leather seats in my car. Having said that they usually keep him calm for extended car trips, relieve the sudden onset of tantrums and generally make my life more pleasant, so I’ll deal.

A week or so after we returned from Sri Lanka Mister C and I headed to Green Lake Park in Seattle for a walk with some friends. It wasn’t raining, which is all that can be said for the weather. Now Green Lake was one of those places that sounded amazing, the kind of “hip” place that the radio station I listen to (admittedly it’s NPR) refers to all the time. It’s full of joggers and mums with strollers. I was excited to get out and get some exercise in after being struck down with jet lag.

Now something I forgot in all my excitement was that Green Lake is 2.8 miles around. That’s a long way. That’s 4.5 km long way. Callum started complaining a mile in. Whinging turned to crying and crying turned to full blown hysteria. I threw everything I had at him, spoons, forks, phones….and even raisins. Nada. When the raisins didn’t work, I knew the jig was up. I scooped him up and proceeded to walk while pushing the stroller. He may be a featherweight but even lifting feathers will get to you after 4.5km. I felt terrible that my friends had to stop and start with us. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the other two babies raised their objections to the long,cold walk. Unfortunately there was only one thing to do, keep walking around! That’s the beauty of walking around a body of water.

Lessons learned, walking 4.5 kms around a lake with a baby, even with raisins, is probably a bridge too far… to start with.

I made these for Callum for a special treat. They’ve got a bit of sugar but also have goodness like oats, raisins and wheat germ. Callum will happily munch on a small, Callum hand-sized one of these on our walk home from the park. Maybe Green Lake would have been less disastrous if there had been some cookie surrounding the raisins. These are not “healthy” but I’ve made them healthier by adding whole meal flour, some wheat germ (leave this out if you don’t have it) and cutting down the sugar. But oats and raisins, which this recipe has oodles of, do have their own goodness so don’t despair if you can’t stop at one!

These are based on a recipe I found here at the Beantown Baker.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz, or 115 grams) butter, at room temp
  • 1/3 cup (125 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (95 grams) wholemeal flour
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (120 grams) rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins

Preparation

Cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer. In a second bowl combine, the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir. Finally add the raisins and rolled oats. Pop in the fridge for an hour to chill.

When ready to bake, preheat the over to 350F/180C and line 2 tray with baking paper. I use an ice cream scoop to portion out the dough. I give the dough a slight roll and flatten with my fingers.

Bake for 13-15 minutes until the edges are just golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then gobble these babies up!

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Filed under Baby Friendly Food, Desserts, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Salted Caramel Sauce

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When I first arrived in the States and was looking for something to do, I joined a volunteer group that worked in schools during Summer and helped out teachers. This was pretty soon after we’d moved here. Everything was just new and we were just learning how to speak American. During a lesson about their favourite chocolate sundaes a students asked me how to spell “caramel” but pronounced in the typical American way of “car-mel”. So I asked to her to “sound” it out, she did, and wrote “karmel”. This left me in quite a pickle. For the life of me I couldn’t explain to her why carmel, was spelt “caramel”. I’m still waiting to figure that one out, and simply provide this poor girl with an explanation better than; that’s just the way it is.

Salted caramel is my flavour of choice for macarons and one of my absolute favourite cupcake flavours, if done well. Unfortunately, it often isn’t. I’ve had caramels with far too much salt, with not enough salt. With caramel and salt separate and then big hunks of salt sprinkled on top. There have been caramels that weren’t caramelised enough and others that were far too caramelly. Here’s my version. You can omit the salt if you’re after just a caramel sauce. The key is to add salt to your taste and only if you want.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup  cream
  •  1 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Preparation

Place the sugar in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. As the sugar melts stir, don’t worry about the lumps, just keep stirring.

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Once all the sugar has melted, you’ll see the sugar syrup becoming a dark brown/amber colour.

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Add the butter to the sugar and it will bubble, keep stirring. Take the bubbling sugar off the heat and add the cream. Keep stirring. The mixture will bubble, please take care.

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Once the mixture is smooth  add the salt, taste and leave to cool. I tend to add my salt bit by bit, tasting and every point. Refrigerate any excess.


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This sauce is fabulous to spice up some buttercream, amazing warm over ice cream or on top of cheesecake.

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Filed under Sweet Treats

Cranberry Orange Loaf with a Crumble Topping

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Here’s something ironic. I write a food recipe blog and I have trouble following recipes. I’m forever substituting, deleting, thinking I know better and generally being a know-it-all. Mr Firehouse is always commenting on this fact. Recently he spied me working in the kitchen, pen and paper in hand. He wanted to know what I was writing and I commented that I was writing down accurate measurements for a recipe, to blog about later. He was genuinely shocked. You see, I think he thought that my inability to follow a recipe was innate, something I couldn’t control. But often-times it’s not. Partly it’s my curiosity. Will it taste better with brown sugar instead of white? Will it cook faster if I parboil? And partly it’s a kind of experience. I know that the flavours of one recipe might be perfect, but I prefer not to follow the cooking instructions, because I’ve done it before, my way, and it’s worked. Sometimes, like for this particular loaf, it’s seasonality. I loved the idea of a yoghurty, moist, citrusy cake but blueberries are not in season and rather than use the frozen (and often just as good ones) I thought of trying a classic American fall combination of cranberry and orange.  The recipe for the cake comes from Donna Hay and was shared with me by my good friend and fellow baker Jill, all the way from Australia. I added the crumble topping for extra texture and also because as you now know, I can’t leave well enough alone.


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Ingredients 

  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup caster/superfinesugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated orange  zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted
  • 150 g fresh cranberries

Crumble topping

  • 2 tbsp. cold butter chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. of flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 160C /325F. Place the butter, sugar, eggs,yoghurt, orange zest and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk until well combined.

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Fold through the cranberries and spoon into a lightly greased loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper.

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In a separate bowl place all of the crumble ingredients and using just the tips of your fingers rub them all together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

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Sprinkle over the loaf  and bake for 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

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Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Sweet and Spicy Eggplant

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The other night Mr Firehouse and I were having leftover Chinese take-away for dinner. As carefree as I often am with what Mr C eats, I thought it too early to introduce him to MSG. So I cooked a simple vegetarian stirfry with some home-made plum sauce that I knew he liked. You see, one of the things that I read and totally loved in the many parenting, books, websites and blogs I’ve perused is to always include a “loved food”. Something that you know the child will eat. With Callum fruit is a safe bet so plum sauce it was. I added broccoli, capsicum and carrot and finally added some fried eggplant I had on hand. He tasted the carrot, sucked on the broccoli and capsicum but by the end of the meal, there was not an eggplant in sight.

This was exciting! When I first met Mr Firehouse, he did not eat eggplant. Hated it. Would pick it out or not even serve it on a plate. It’s taken nearly five years of marriage to convert him to an eggplant lover. Seems like my son was born one!

So today for dinner I decided to make a sweet and spicy eggplant dish to go with our Moroccan Meatballs. It’s simple, delicious and like most things cooked with eggplant, improves with a little age.

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Ingredients

  • 3-4 small eggplants chopped into batons (like thick chips or fries)
  • 1/2 cup of oil for frying (this will vary)
  • 1/2 red onion finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red capsicum (pepper) sliced
  • 1 tbsp. cumin ground
  •  1.5 tbsp. brown sugar (or honey, we’re honey free because Mr C shouldn’t have honey till he’s a little older)
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

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In a large frying pan or skillet add a little of the oil and fry the eggplant in batches until the outside has a nice golden brown colour and the eggplant is nice and soft. Make sure the oil is very hot, as the eggplant will absorb cold oil. As you add the next batch, you might have to add some more oil as well to keep the ‘frying’ going.

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Once all the eggplant is fried off, leave to drain on a paper towel for about a half hour. This isn’t critical but helps to get rid of excess oil and make the dish less oily.

In the same fry pan  add a  tbsp. of oil and add the onion and garlic. Fry until the onion is soft. Add the cumin and fry until nice and fragrant. Finally add the honey/brown sugar, vinegar and a splash of water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and wait for the mixture to start boiling. When the mixture is boiling add the eggplant and the capsicum and warm through. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with some fluffy white rice or flat bread.


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Filed under Non-Sri Lankan Food, Vegetable Dishes

Mango Tart

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Pastry can be a beast. It was a beast that I waited a long time to conquer. The first time I baked a chocolate ganache tart, 2 hours before the guests arrived it broke! I hadn’t quite mastered the removable base on the tin and the very short, crumbly pastry. I hated it! I hated the rolling, the sticking, the pie weights and the blind baking. The results never looked right and it was hours of work for one measly, shrunk, broken tart. But alas, my favourite dessert is a lemon tart and I had two options….make lemon tart or live without lemon tart. It wasn’t really a choice.

A few months ago I was perusing Pinterest and I came across the amazing unshrinkable pastry shell from Smitten Kitchen. It’s not perfect (that probably has something to do with my pastry skills) but it’s pretty close. It’s crisp, it’s short and it’s the perfect accompaniment to any tart filling. Unfortunately I can no longer whinge and moan to Mr Firehouse about my tarts shrinking and thus I have no excuse to not make them any more.

This tart can be made gluten free as well and for that I’m going to send you over to my lovely friend Nat at Not From a Packet Mix, who has wonderful pictures and instructions for a GF sour cream pastry.

Mango filling

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mango puree
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 2.5 tablespoons of butter
  • 2/3 cup of cream
  • ¾ cup of sugar

Instructions

With this recipe it’s best to bake the tart shell all the way through, so blind bake for 10 minutes, remove the weights and then bake until brown and cooked through.
I normally pour the mango puree into a jug and add the lemon juice a little at a time and taste. Mangoes fluctuate so much in tartness that 1/3 cup lemon juice might be way too much. I normally add lemon juice till I’m happy with the sourness and then make up 2/3 cup with water. Or if you’re a mango fiend, go all mango.
In a medium saucepan place all the ingredients for the filling and place on a low heat. Using a whisk stir continuously until the mix thickens to the consistency of a lemon curd. You will get eggy bits, don’t panic, just strain the mixture into the tart shell and bake for another 20 minutes in the oven at 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit).
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The filling should wobble a little in the middle when shaken. Now cool and eat with lots of ice cream.
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Filed under Sweet Treats, Tarts

Chocolate Biscuit Pudding

 
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Chocolate biscuit pudding is one of those childhood dishes that make me truly happy. Can you imagine my excitement when my cousin informed me that Latin American grocery stores stocked Marie biscuits, made by Goya brand.
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I was thrilled! I couldn’t wait to make it and when I spied a grocery at Pike Place I couldn’t resist trying to find Marie biscuits. Word to the wise, taking a wriggly baby into a densely packed store is asking for trouble. There was a loud crash at one point that sent the sales assistant running after us,  fortunately it was just noise and no damage was done, but I swear the sales assistant was really excited to see the back of Callum and I. Chocolate biscuit pudding really is magic, chocolatey, buttery and just the right amount of sweet. However, I’m not terribly comfortable with eating raw eggs and have always wanted a “raw egg free” version. Here it is, just as chocolatey, just as buttery but minus the uncooked eggs…woot!
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 3/4 cup of cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 packet of Marie biscuits
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Preparation

In the bowl of your mixer whip the butter until fluffy. Turn it off, add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and keep beating until incorporated. Add vanilla and the pinch of salt and keep mixing. Finally add the cream and whip until the chocolate icing is nice and fluffy.

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Pour the milk into a bowl (big enough to dip the biscuits in).

Dip the biscuits a few at a time into the milk and lay them into your serving dish. I used a small pyrex dish 10 cm x 15 cm and I needed 6 biscuits to make a single layer.

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After the layer of biscuits add a third of the icing mixture, followed by biscuits etc until you finish up with the icing on top.

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Place the whole concoction in the fridge for at least 4 hours, this gives the biscuits enough time to soften.

When ready to serve sprinkle with some nuts (for crunch) and serve with vanilla ice cream or cream.

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September 13, 2013 · 9:56 pm