Shortbread cookies

Shortbread cookies use the sweet short crust pastry as a base.  After it is just a matter of having a few cookie cutters at home.  Children can decorate them with coloured sugar balls, sultanas, nuts or fondant.

Ingredients:
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 125 g softened butter
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 1 egg
Method:
  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredient together and form a ball.  Over a few movements, knead it on the kitchen bench to ensure cohesion (20 seconds max). Rest for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Dust the kitchen bench with flour to prevent sticking. Place the dough on the kitchen bench.  Dust the top similarly. Roll with the rolling-pin to 6 to 8 mm thick. Ensure the bottom is not stuck by lifting the pastry gently. Add more flour underneath of necessary.
  3. Using cookie cutters make the shapes and transfer them onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
  4. If the children want to decorate, use sultanas or pieces of nuts or sugar balls. Smarties work well too.
  5. Bake 10-15 minutes on 160 degrees Celsius until light blonde. Remove from the oven and slide the base on a cooling rack using the baking paper.  Allow to cool.

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Butter-free chocolate cake

This is pretty much as guilt free as chocolate cake go: no butter and pretty low sugar. What I like with this butter-free chocolate cake is that it is also much easier to digest than a traditional chocolate cake.  Why? How?  Simply by replacing the butter by very (like very) thinly grated zucchini (a.k.a. courgette).  And if you are on a gluten-free diet, you could also replace the little flour in there by GF flour.

Before you start:

  1. You need a good quality cooking chocolate (in Australia, the 70% cocoa Nestle Plaistowe is suitable)
  2. The zucchini: 200 g of zucchini and no more (a bit less is fine). I have now done the cake a few times, trialing a few variations.  The last one used 180 g of zucchini and was fine! However, if you add more (which I also did), the cake loses some of its moisture from a denser texture.  Two hundred grammes zucchini is one average size piece of vegetable.  You need to peel it and remove the ends.  Then weight it. Grate it over a bowl and make sure to keep all the juice.  I was asked the question: can you use the blender. I tried, it works, just a bit much more washing-up than the grater for little saving, your choice.
  3. The flour: the flour weight is only 50 g.  If you go for a gluten-free option, you can either use cornflour but then you need to reduce it to 35 g as corn flour absorbs more moisture than wheat flour, or use one of the GL flour mix.

guilt free chocolate cake

Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g dark cooking chocolate
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 200 g thinly grated zucchini (see note above)
  • 50 g plain flour (see note above)
  • 100 mL milk (of your choice)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Butter and flour well a 20 cm round cake tin.
  3. Break the chocolate in pieces and melt with half of the milk.  You can either use the microwave on one minutes settings full power, repeat if not fully melted either with 30 second or another minutes (it depends on the power of your microwave). Once the chocolate is melted, stir until smooth and silky, add the remaining milk.
  4. In a clean bowl, separate the egg yolks from the whites.  Beat the yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the zucchini (juice included).  Add the chocolate to the mix.
  5. Finally, mix in the flour.
  6. Beat the egg white to snow and carefully fold into the chocolate mix.
  7. Pour into the prepared tin.  Place in the oven, reduce the heat to 160°C after 10 minutes.  The cake should cook in 20-30 mn depending on ovens.  Remove when the centre is no longer wobbly when gently pressed with a couple fingers. Allow to cool down in the tin for five minutes before transferring to the serving dish:  turn over a metal rack and then over the serving dish.

Tip: if you have a child helping you tell them to mix in the flour and cocoa starting from the centre, always touching the bottom of the bowl , let them enlarge the circle as the centre gets darker. This technique will avoid lumps. 

Tip: wondering what happens if you don’t reduce the oven? The cake will cook quicker and can lose a little moisture but not that much, it will still be quite moist. 

And if you are wondering about the taste brought by the zucchini, I will tell that if people don’t know about it, they are unlikely to guess. Once you know, you will possibly note a taste a little more “earthy”, but, to be honest, nothing preventing the cake disappearing in minutes and for zucchini-advert kids to take a second or third helping!

guilt free chocolate cake

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Black and white checkers cookies

This black and white cookies recipe is taken from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book.  It is a recipe my eight year old daughter decided to do on her own.  As the recipe provides measurement in both the imperial american systems and universal metric system, there was a little confusion for her upfront on the different values.  Once that was sorted out, she ended up doing the cookies pretty much on her own (I was downstairs working).  With or without help from adults, this recipe is a great one to teach children some basic aspects of baking: making a shortcrust, measuring, diving, measuring, using egg yolk as a “glue”.

Makes about 40 cookies. Below is the recipe taken from Williams and Somona. The tips are my addition.

This type of cookie is made by forming dough into a log or rectangular block and chilling it thoroughly. You can also use different types of dough together (vanilla and chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate) to make patterned cookies. Cookies are then sliced off the log or block and baked. When slicing the dough, give the log or block a quarter turn after every half dozen or so slices to keep the cookies perfectly square or round.

black and white

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (315 g)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (125 g)
  • Pinch of salt –  Tip: remove if using salted butter
  • 250 g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder

Tip: for the butter, you can use soft butter or half melted butter.  When you rest the dough the first time, either leve it longer or use the freezer. 

Method:

Tip: I am not using a food processor here as in the original recipe. I find that best learning is achieved by doing by hand and also the mixing is not really hard, so does not warrant the use of a food processor.

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Then, add the butter, vanilla  and egg yolks until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and eventually holds together. Divide the dough in half. Transfer one-half to a lightly floured work surface and knead in the cocoa until incorporated. If the dough is very soft, wrap in cell-wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust the work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out each dough half into a 8 by 21 centimetre about one centimetre thick.  Trim the edges to even out.

    Tip: instead of trimming the edges, you can use a dough scrapper to push and distribute the dough in a rectangle.
     
  3. Place each rectangle on a large baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes (Tip: or 10 minutes if using the freezer). Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the whole egg until blended. Set aside.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using a sharp knife, cut each rectangle into 4 strips about 2 cm wide (you should have 4 strips of each color). Arrange 2 chocolate strips and 2 plain strips in a checkerboard pattern, brushing the beaten egg between the strips and gently pressing them together. Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and use a knife to square off the edges of each block. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes or 10 minutes if using the freezer.
  5. Preheat an oven to 180°C. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Remove the blocks from the refrigerator, unwrap and cut each crosswise into slices 6-8 mm thick. Place them 4 cm apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies feel firm when lightly pressed, about 15 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

 

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Pipis harvesting

Where we live this is the end of the school holidays.  Last week, we went for  few days to the Great Lakes area in NSW. If you that does not ring a bell, think Seals Rock-Blueys Beach-Boomerang Beach-Forster area. That area has long white sand beaches with barely anyone on them.  We went  pipis hunting, or rather pipis harvesting.

What are pipis?

Pipis are clams, in other words, a small edible bivalve species fund in Australia between the QLD/NSW border all the way to South Australia.

pipi clam
A pipi on the sand exposed by a strong wave, quick pick it up!

Pipis are also known as also known as Coorong cockle, eugarie, Goolwa cockle and ugari (Ref – Sydney Fish Market).  Pipis live ten to twenty centimeter deep in the sand in the intertidal zone of the surf.  You will often see pipis shells along the foreshore in areas where these clams are present.

If not harvesting them, you can find pipis at fish mongers, especially in ares with asian communities.

Pipis harvesting

Rule of thumb as for any foraging: only take what you need, no more.

The second consideration is the location of the area. Check, there may be restrictions.

pipi clam
An average size pipi

Last consideration is the size.  Where we go, when pipis in an area are all below 2 cm large, this is probably because they are either over-harvested or not so happy there, I don’t take them then, as normally they would be around 5 cm large.

Be ready to get wet! One way to go about it is to do the “pipi danse”. That method is very popular with children, more fun! It consists of swinging your legs when the wave come up so your feet “dig” into the sand, this will expose pipis or you will feel them with your feet.   The other way is to dig with your hands here and then, this method is generally quicker. Watch out for those bigger waves!

Pipis are really quick at burrowing in the sand, so when some get exposed you will need to be quick and pick it up.

pipi dance
The pipi danse
pipi clam
Keeping an eye out for those pipis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to cook pipis?

 

Pipis live in the sand and open slightly to filter water and feed themselves.  As a result, pipis shells may contain a fair bit of sand.  You will need to desand them by placing them overnight in a large bowl with cool water and salt (30 g / L of water).  If you place them in the fridge, they will not open up and release the sand.

Pipis cook quickly and require heat.  The most simple way is with salted butter and crashed garlic.  Place the butter and garlic in a saucepan or tall edge frypan and once the butter is melted throw in the pipis. Cover with a lid. You will see and hear all the pipis open up. Once they are all open, remove from the heat and serve straight away with a large salad.

You could very well add some fresh chilli during the cooking, or 1/2 glass of dry white wine. You can also used a tomato base to cook them in.

pipi clam

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Crumpets

After trialing a few recipes to make sure my 16 years old niece who has become a fan of this little hot cakes could reproduce crumpets in France, I am putting here my pick of the recipes trialed.

If you want to read about the comparative testing, go to the post dedicated to it HERE.

Otherwise, get some flour, sugar, yeast, milk, salt, bicarbonate of soda and a little butter and get cooking!

Makes 6 medium crumpets.

Ingredients:
  • 200 mL of milk
  • 125 g of flour
  • 1 tbsp of butter chopped (10 g)
  • 7 g of dry yeast
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of sodium bicarbonate
  • 1 tsp of white sugar
Method:
  1. Warm up half of the milk with butter and sugar. Add the remaining milk.  Why do it in two go, you may ask? This will ensure the temperature of the mix is initially hot enough to melt the butter and sugar but with the total volume of milk just warm. The yeast would not like it otherwise!
  2.  Add the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Add together the flour, sodium bicarbonate and salt.
  4. Mix well (use a whisk) until completely smooth.
  5. Set aside for 45 minutes.
  6. Use non-stick crumpets rings.
  7. Oil the bottom of a crepe frypan or non stick fry pan slightly. Heat up the frypan then reduce to ¾ heat.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons of batter in each ring. When bubbles come up and have popped up regularly over the surface of the crumpet (2 to 3 minutes), remove the ring (it should come undone pretty easily by just pulling it up. If the crumpet is not fully cooked on the top, flip back and lightly cook for 10-15 seconds.

crumpet

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Pop Cakes!

Making and eating pop cakes was an amazing experience for the children.  Not only did they get to make the pop cakes and it tasted great, they also got to see them grow or “pop up” in the oven. They found that very exciting! And then they rushed to eat them!

Pop cake moulds are silicone moulds with bite size prints, the mould have a bottom part and a top part.  My mould upper part is transparent, this is how they saw them rise.

I used for the base recipe a very simple cake recipe called a “quatre quarts” which you can translate as “four quarters”.   The recipe has the same weight of eggs, flour, sugar and butter.  To ensure they little shape filled up the whole space I did increase the quantity of baking powder a bit.

Once the pop cakes are ready, we dipped them in melted some white chocolate and shredded coconut (and 100&1000s).

 

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • flour: the same weight as the eggs
  • caster sugar: the same weight as the eggs
  • butter: the same weight as the eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • shredded coconut
  • Toothpicks
Method:
  1. First weigt your eggs, this will be your reference for the flour, butter and sugar.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  3. Beat the sugar and eggs together with a whisk (or using an electric mixer) until pale and creamy.
  4. Then melt the butter and add it once cooled to the mix.
  5. Add the flour and raising powder and mix, being careful not to do lumps (best to swap the whisk for a wooden spoon and start mixing from the centre out expanding the size of the circle as you go).
  6. Spoon the mixture in each bottom print to the top.Place the lid and bake until ready about 15 minutesTip: the mould print with the holes is the top one (it allows for the steam to escape)
  7. Remove from the prints and allow to cool down on a cooling rack.
  8. Melt the white chocolate and place some shredded coconut in a bowl.
  9. Using a toothpick, pick a little cake ball, dip in the white chocolate then in the coconut. Enjoy!

Tip: if you have left over cake mix, make a couple of muffins with it! Perfect for the lunch box! 

 

 

 

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Pizza!

How to get that amazing pizza at home?  The secrets of a good pizza are many but they are simple and accessible to anybody.  I stumbled on them through trial and errors and input from different people, including my brother or a previous flatmate. Now I think we have nailed it!  I say we, because my two daughters are now in charge of the topping and are getting pretty good at it.

We do pizzas regularly, maybe a few times per month.  A pity I don’t take more photos or them, the ones last weekend were amazing! My children invariably ask for the Hawaiian pizza (ham, cheese, pineapple).  Not my favourite! The “grown up” pizza is different depending what we have in the fridge: a salami pizza, a three cheese pizza, a vegetarian pizza and even a tahini based with spices mince pizza.

A variation of the traditional Hawaiian pizza, swapping ham for sausages

Here are my secrets, I expend on each further down:

  1. The dough: keep it thin and simple
  2. The order of the ingredient: cheese does not go on top but directly above the tomato sauce
  3. The quality of the ingredients: good quality ingredients and please no tin food (exception of the pineapples pieces!), use fresh food!
  4. Limit the amount of main ingredients: there should be up to 3 key ingredients above the cheese layer, no more.  See the list below
  5. The use of a hot oven and pizza tray or pizza stone: make sure your oven is super hot, same for the pizza tray.  I use these large aluminium pizza tray (less than $10 each at hospitality stores, same as in pizza shops), they do a great job and are easy to handle.  I prepare the pizza on baking paper which when ready I slide onto the hot tray.

Here we go in more details.

Secret No 1: the dough

Making your own dough at home is not hard nor does it require hard labour.  Feel free to use a food mixer (dough hook) but if you are making just one pizza, your food mixer may be too big for the small amount of dough.  For pizza, I don’t mind doing it by hand from the start.

Preparing the dough

A very large pizza (or 2 medium) will need 250 g plain flour (bakers flour if you have some), 150 g of warm water, 1/2 sachet of dry yeast (4 g), a good pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of honey, a drop of olive oil.

Note here that honey and olive oil are not strictly necessary t the process. I find that the olive oil makes the process easier and smoother and gives the pizza base a little extra taste. The honey is not necessary to the rising of the dough, it does help accelerate it and more importantly for me, give a tiny sweet touch to the base.

It is important not to put the salt in direct contact with the yeast (it kills it).

Mix all together, if the dough is a little dry add additional water one spoon at the time (it can happen as some flours require more water). Once you have a ball, punch that ball on the counter back and forth. it is very easy if you alternate hands each time: push with the right hand to the back (and a bit left for ease), bring back, push with the left hand to the back (and right) and bring back. This move is effortless.

Last weekend, I had some friends of my young children wanting to help in the kitchen towards the end of their playdate, the 6 years old little girl did a great job while chatting away, just to show you how effortless it is.

After 5 minutes your dough will be quite soft and flexible.  This is enough, let it to rest in a bowl covered with a cloth.  If you don’t have much time, give it 1/2 h rest minimum, otherwise, wait until double, knock back gently, this is then ready to use.

A thin dough

Unless you train again and again to master extending the dough when suspended on the top of your fist, you need to find something that works for you.  For me, I simply use a rolling pin with a little flour for dusting . I roll the dough quite thin over a baking paper.  Make sure it does not stick to it, and rest for a few minutes while getting all the ingredients ready (or calling in the kids to do the topping).  And don’t worry if the form tends to look like the map of Australia, even better!

Secret No 2: the order of the ingredients

The order should be:

  1. Tomato sauce
  2. Cheese
  3. If I am using white mushrooms very thinly sliced, this is when I put them
  4. Meat or vegetable
  5. Additional item such as olives, capers, small quantities of blue or goat cheese
  6. And finally some salt if necessary and a filet of olive oil

Secret No 3: the quality of the ingredients

If there is something I do not like it is to get tinned vegetables on my pizza, let it be artichokes, peppers or others, yuk! They taste of tin food, most of the time because they have not been rinsed.

For me, a pizza is a great opportunity to use these remaining mushrooms, or that lonely capsicum which otherwise may have to wait a little longer until I get an idea of finally chuck the all in a soup or casserole! Be creative! And if you are not the creative kind, don’t worry, planning for pizza in your shopping will at least mean no bad surprises!

Secret No 4: limit the amount and numbers of ingredients

Caution! You are not trying to replicate Mt Everest, nor are you trying to empty your fridge.  If so, invite your friends and have a pizza party!

For me, a maximum of three core ingredients is like an unspoken practice. Then there are the small garnishes which can add a lot to a pizza. See the table below.

BaseCore ingredientsAdditions
Tomatored onionsfresh thyme, rosemary
salami, hamlittle specks of goat cheese or blue cheese
pinappleolives
mushrooms (white or the asian styles, which then go on top)capers
capsicum cut in long stripsdash of olive oil
green asparaguspressed garlic (small quantities here and there)
thinly sliced potatoes (the waxy style)cherry tomatoes (cut in halves or full)
anchovies
fresh salmon, prawns, fish pieces, mussel and other seafood (all in raw form)
for a cheese pizza, the different cheese
bocconcini
Thinly sliced fresh tomatoes
Sour creamSalmon (fresh), capersolives, fresh dill (once cooked)
red onion cut in circles
Tahinispiced mince (mix mince with 2 tbsp tomato paste and marocan spice mix)pressed garlic
olives, rosemary, fresh herb (once cooked)
cherry tomatoes (cut in halves or full)
Asian mushrooms and asparagus. This one was a trial, it was actually quite beautiful!
Hawaiian pizza

Secret No 5: the cooking of the pizza

Now, you need a super hot oven to start with and as importantly a hot base. Either you use a pizza stone or a pizza tray, up to you.  The bricks of a wood fired pizza oven play a great role in getting that base cooked and crispy.  If you base is too thick, you will most likely overcook the top.  What temperature? I preheat my oven at 250 °C, and bring it down at 200 for the cooking.

Cooking time ? 10 minutes roughly. Just enough to prepare the side salad!

A table!

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Making Easter chocolates with Kids!

Making Easter chocolates with the kids is fun.  Children are highly unlikely to refuse the task and you may discover some other areas of interest.  One of my daughters really liked measuring the chocolate temperature and seeing the thermometer going up and down (we had a non-digital one), the other one really like painting the base of the moulds to obtain a more creative finish.

eggs chocolate eggs chocolate

Ingredients:
  • couverture chocolate of your choice (milk, dark, white), at least 500 g
  • a chocolate or candy thermometer
  • chocolate moulds, a small brush and a larger one

If you plan to fill them with a truffle ganache, you will need to prepare that one at least 12 hrs ahead. Check out the dark chocolate truffle and the salted caramel truffle recipes.

Method:

Tempering the chocolate is a three stages process, the chocolate needs to be melted slowly (ideally on a bain marie), then cooled down to about 26-27°C.  For that stage, there are a few approaches.  Finally, the chocolate is slightly warmed up to 31-32°C which makes it easier to work with (a little more runny).

The cooling down of the chocolate (step 2) can be done by:

  1. Waiting until the chocolate cools down mixing from time to time.  Pretty straight forward but the longest in term of time.
  2. Adding to the melted chocolate some finely cut pieces of the same chocolate. This exchange of energy will make your mix cool down much quicker. Keep mixing until the added pieces are fully melted.
  3. pouring the chocolate on a marble top, spreading and gathering it with a flat spatula.  You may have seen that method on TV cooking shows.  Go for it if you want to try it, I can’t tell you much about it.
eggs chocolate
measuring the temperature during the tempering process

 

 

For the dark chocolates with fill, I use a salted caramel chocolate truffle preparation to use a filling (at least the day before).  You can choose a plain chocolate truffle if you are not fan of the salted caramel one.

FOR THE LITTLE easter eggs or small PIECES:

Now is the time to use your little moulds, if you want to have them hollow for filling latter, pour tempered chocolate over the mould, distribute to each print, it must be full. Then place yourself over the bowl of chocolate and pour back the excess. Use a large knife to clean the top surface and place to cool down  in the fridge.  Once they are hard, you can do the filling.

If you want full eggs (or other shape), keep the print full, clean the top surface and let to cool down and harden (again quicker in the fridge).  You can choose to mix up colours or to have a little of another chocolate for a feature part of the item, as is the case on the flowers we made.

eggs chocolate

To attach two halves together, heat up a baking sheet (not too hot). Place each half on it to melt the edges a little. If you are filling the eggs with a truffle, fill them ensuring they do not overflow.  Then stick the two halves together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips: try to keep clean hands to avoid leaving traces on the tempered chocolate

Tips: White chocolate, then milk chocolate will harden much quicker than dark chocolate. Tis is directly related to the proportion of cocoa butter in the chocolate. 

Making larger pieces – a large Easter egg or a bunny

This can get a little tricky.  The key is to make sure the thickness of the chocolate is sufficient in the fragile parts: the edges, the collar of the bunny, ears of the bunny , etc.

Pour the chocolate, remove the excess after 2 minutes. Cool down (quicker in the fridge). When solidified repeat and place face down on a baking paper sheet.  If you judge that the edges are too thin, use a kitchen brush to add chocolate along the edges. Cool down completely.  The shapes will actually come undone from the mould on their own, this can take overnight.  Alternatively, when you see it has solidified, you can pull out opposite sides of the moulds to check if the form is ready to come out.  Then you just need to assemble by melting the edges of both pieces on a warm baking sheet and joining together.

eggs chocolate
On this pink eggs, I used some red edable dust used in cake decoration at the bottom of the mould.

eggs chocolate eggs chocolate

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The sugar tarte

The sugar tarte, known in Belgium and northern France as “la tarte au sucre” is a tarte based on a yeasted dough, soft brown sugar and cream.  It is very simple to make and you can get the kids involved all along.

sugar tarte

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 200 g of plain flour
  • 100 g of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp of milk
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 10 g of fresh yeast (or 4 of dry yeast)
  • 1 pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)

For the toping:

  • 125 g of soft brown sugar
  • 1 dL (100 mL) of cream
Method:
  1. In a large bowl, place the flour in the bowl and with a spoon, make a well (a hole in the middle of the flour in which you will place all the other ingredients).
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.
  3. Add in the well, the yeast, butter, caster sugar, egg and salt.
  4. Mix until you obtain a nice dough.
  5. Transfer into a large bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel and allow to rise in a warm corner until almost double.
  6. Preheat the oven on 180°C.
  7. Butter and flour your tarte tin. Transfer the dough and using the palm of your hand, spread it gently making a little edge.  in the centre spread the soft brown sugar, then randomly pour the cream.
  8. Bake until the edges are golden brown.
  9. Eat warm or cold (do not place in the fridge).
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Roasted cherry tomatoes

This roasted cherry tomatoes side is so good! If I had more cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, I would do it more often.

Method:
  • Preheat the grill (or the oven quite high).
  • Use a small tray such as a brownie tin with some baking paper at the bottom
  • Splash a generous amount of olive oil over the tomatoes, grind some rock salt, add if you have rosemarry or fresh thyme. Toss the whole thing. you need to make sure there is only one layer if you are going to do that with a large bunch of cherry tomatoes.
  • Place under the grill for 10-15 minutes until wrinkly
  • Serve with a salad, a quiche, a meat, fish, cheese, anything really!

 

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Banana Bread

This recipe of banana bread is moist, rich and delicious.  This is pretty much what you get in cafes all around Australia.  If you would like a lighter recipe of banana bread look HERE.

Serve on its own, with jam, butter or salted caramel. After the second day, toast and spread some butter on it.

You will need a loaf tin to bake it (Frenchies, the loaf tin is wider than the “moule a cake”).

LOAF CAKE BANANA BREAD

Ingredients
  • 250 g butter
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 to 4 ripe to super ripe bananas (400 g)
  • 125 ml of buttermilk (or homemade substitute by adding 1 tsp of white vinegar to one cup of milk)
  • 300 g of plain flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of sodium bicarbonate (bicarb soda)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of mixed spice
  • If using unsalted butter, a pinch of salt
Method
  1. Pre heat oven to 180 °C.  Butter and line with baking paper a loaf tin
  2. Mix butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add the eggs one at the time. Add the vanilla.
  3. Mix in the mashed bananas, the cinnamon, mixed spice and butter milk.
  4. Add all at once the flour, baking powder and bicarb soda. Mix from the centre out to avoid making lumps.
  5. Pour the mix in the loaf tin and bake for just over an hour (up to 1.5 hour depending on your oven).  If you oven is generally strong, reduce the heat to 160 after ½ hour in the baking.  A baking needle inserted in the loaf must come out just moist, with no uncooked dough on it.
  6. Let the banana bread cool in the tin for ½ h before turning on a rack.

LOAF CAKE BANANA BREAD

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Kids chocolate truffles

These kids chocolate truffles is a must try (and adopt!).  Chocolate truffles can be a bit bitter for children when coated with cocoa.  Well, just change the coating!  Here we used 100s & 1000s.  Great result!  My daughter initiated it for the school end of year class party.

Making chocolate truffles is a great activity for kids and they can pretty much do it all on their own. Oh yes, they will love getting their hands dirty for rolling the chocolate in small balls! You may need a few “no licking the fingers” rules there!

This recipe makes about 30.

Ingredients 

Use a good quality chocolate, a couverture chocolate is even better but you can also use a compound dark cooking chocolate, it will still be delicious.

  • 330 g of dark chocolate 70% cocoa
  • 25 cl (250 ml) of cream
  • 50 g of good quality soft butter (real butter please, no substitute here)
  • a pack of hundreds&thousands or other small size sugar coloured decoration.

Tip: you can always use the mortar or food processor  to further reduce the size of the pieces if to long.

Method:

  1. Cut the chocolate in small pieces with a large knife, place in a bowl.
  2. Boil the cream in a saucepan
  3. Pour the cream on top of the chocolate, cover for one minute then mix well until all the chocolate is melted.
  4. Add the butter, mix well.  Place in a shallow container (aim at 1.5 cm thickness of chocolate) and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum until firm.
  5. When ready to shape the truffles, you have 2 options:
    • Either use a teaspoon, scoop out the equivalent of a macadamia nut (for those who don’t know macadamia, it is between a walnut and a hazelnut). Roll in your hands to form a ball
    • Reverse the chocolate preparation on a chopping board, cut stripes 1.5 cm thick, repeat in the other directions to obtain cubes and roll each cube in a ball
  6. Transfer the balls to a large based plate with 100 & 1000s and roll them until coated (different techniques below).

 

7. Transfer to a storage box and keep in the fridge until you ready to serve.  The truffles can remain at room temperature for some time, it all depends on the temperature.

 

 

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