Monday, 29 April 2013

Epic steamed ginger pudding

Steamed ginger pudding on a cold rainy evening... what could be better?  Steamed ginger pudding with custard and cream, of course!  I love pudding, I have such a sweet tooth.  This pudding exceeded my expectations, though - it was light, moist, spongy, saucy, sweet, sticky, and my flatmate and I went back for seconds... and then thirds!  It was truly an epic pudding, and every time I took a mouthful I thought "Wow! This is amazing!" (even though I had made it myself.  I am usually quite modest.)  I am lucky enough to own a steamer and it is so easy to use.  You just fill the bottom part up with water, place the containers on top, put the lid on, and switch it on to however long you want it to cook.  The best part, though, is that unlike traditionally steamed puddings which have to cook for 2 hours, the steamer cooks my pudding perfectly in only 35 minutes.  Before I had a steamer, I used to bake them in the oven and that worked too, but it isn't as moist.

This recipe came from my old, battered, 1974 edition of the Edmonds Cook Book.

Steamed Ginger Pudding

 4 oz butter 
2 oz sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 egg
8 oz flour
a knob of fresh grated ginger (or 2 tsp ground ginger)
1 tsp baking soda (bicarb soda)
about 150ml milk

Cream butter, sugar and golden syrup together.  (I also added 1 tbsp of molasses, as it is full of nutrients. The label says it can be used as a replacement for golden syrup, but I tried that the second time I made this, and it wasn't as good - not very sweet at all. So best to just add 1 tbsp of molasses along with the 2 tbsp of golden syrup). 

Add egg and mix well.

Dissolve baking soda in milk and add alternately with dry ingredients.  (although I just threw it all in and then mixed it up).

Pour a thin layer of golden syrup over the bottom of your baking dish / casserole dish / steamer bowl).

Pour pudding mix over the top, taking care not to displace the golden syrup in the bottom.

Steam for 35 minutes, or bake for approx 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Serve with your choice of custard, cream, or ice cream.

leftovers were also wonderful for breakfast the following morning!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Thai Green Curry

mmmm... Thai Green Curry.  I had never tried this before until my flatmate made it for me, and now I am hooked.  At the moment at the Mangere markets you can find fresh lemongrass, fresh limes, and chilli's.  Limes at the market are only $6 per kg, as opposed to $26 in the supermarkets.  Limes don't come into season very often, so I am making the most of them on my Saturday morning forays to the market.  And with the discovery of fresh lemongrass at one of the stalls as well... I get the feeling that there are some exciting times to be had in my kitchen this week.

Thai Green Curry       (not from a recipe book this time)

I haven't provided amounts as it depends on how much you are making and how flavourful you want it.    Use whatever you think is appropriate.  I can't eat overly spicy foods or hot foods, and while it looks like there are a lot of chilli's in the dish, using them whole like this provides flavour without too much heat. (Just make sure you don't accidentally bite into one!)

1 packet tofu
1 can bamboo shoots
green curry paste
400ml coconut cream

You can also put in any greens on hand, baby corn, carrots, tomatoes, spring onions, and star anise. Likewise you can omit the kumara, but it adds a lovely sweetness to the curry. You also don't need the tofu; this is the first time I put in tofu - I wanted to add in some protein.  I have used paneer cheese before too, which is nice.  You can use whole chillies and just pull them out later so you don't accidentally eat them.  This saves you both time slicing and deseeding chillies and it saves getting your fingers covered in chilli.

 Pat the tofu dry and chop up.
To prepare lemongrass, remove the top woody section; halve the lemongrass lengthways; then use something hefty to smash it.  This helps to release the lemongrassiness of the lemongrass.  (Note that you don't actually eat the lemongrass, but you want to impart the flavour into the dish.) 
Chop up the limes into small wedges.
 Heat oil in a large frypan.  Add grated ginger, garlic, whole chillies, stalks of lemongrass, star anise.  Squeeze some of the limes into the pan to impart the lime juice and add the skins; add the remainder of the lime wedges.   Fry for 5-7 minutes until everything becomes fragrant.

Drain the bamboo shoots and add to the fry pan.

 Tofu can either be added straight to the pan, or fried first to crisp up the outside. Either fry tofu in a separate pan, or simply push the spices to one side, add the tofu and fry until golden, turning over (tongs make this easy) to cook evenly.  
 Add a large dollop of green curry paste.
 Add sliced kumara, chopped capsicum and any other vegetables you are using.
 Add the can of coconut cream.  Half fill the empty can with water and add this too, to make the sauce liquidy.
 Stir every now and then.
While the kumara is cooking (about 12 minutes), cook the rice until just tender; drain.
 When the kumara is cooked, it is ready to serve.  If plating up in a bowl, put the rice in the bottom of the bowl and serve the curry over the top.  If serving on a plate, you may like to serve the rice on one side and the curry beside it.  
 Watch out for whole chillies! you may like to provide a small plate to put in the bits of lime, chilli's and the lemongrass stalks.  You can suck on the lemongrass stalks and the lime wedges before discarding as they contain plenty of flavour.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Nut and Rice Rissoles and important info for vegetarians!

As a vegetarian, it is important that I eat from all the different food groups.  It is also important that I eat the right combinations of foods to get complete proteins.  I love nuts and seeds for all the vitamins and minerals they provide, as well as for the taste and snackability (is that a word or did I just make it up?) of them!  I enjoy finding recipes that incorporate them into my meal as well, as I always feel good after eating a well balanced meal.

Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are, by themselves, all incomplete proteins, but when combined with their partner, make complete proteins.

The three families are:

Grains eg brown rice, wheat, cracked wheat, barley, oats, rye, bread, corn, millet & buckwheat

Legumes eg lentils, mung beans, aduki beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, broad beans, chick peas, dried peas

Nuts & Seeds eg sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, tahini, cashew nuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, coconut, pine nuts

Grains and Legumes together make a complete protein.  An example of this would be baked beans on whole grain toast; bean or pea risotto; wholemeal pita bread with hummus; lentil curry on rice.

Grains and Dairy together make a complete protein.  For example, muesli with milk or yoghurt; pasta with cheese sauce; bread & cheese; rice pudding.

Legumes and Nuts & Seeds also form a complete protein when paired together.  An example of this would be chickea patties with tahini or a satay sauce; lentil and nut roast.

Eggs, dairy products and soya products are all complete proteins.

These rissoles combine Nuts with Grains to form a complete protein (ground almonds and rice).
This recipe came from a lovely book called "Festivals, Family and Food", by Diana Carey and Judy Large, which contains activities, stories, songs and recipes for the different seasons, celebrations and festivals from around the world.  I served the rissoles with wilted spinach and hollandaise sauce, (which contains egg, also a complete protein) but they would also be good served as vegetarian burger patties, with hummus and beetroot and salad.

Nut and Rice Rissoles

2 oz rice
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 oz butter
4 oz ground nuts
1 egg
2 oz breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp sage
salt & pepper
4 oz cheese, grated
pinch of nutmeg
Cook the rice until just tender.  Drain.
 Heat the butter in a frypan, add finely chopped onion and grated ginger.
In a mixing bowl, combine ground nuts, cheese, breadcrumbs, sage, nutmeg and seasoning.

 Add the onions, ginger and rice.
 Add the egg, stir to combine.
 Form into patties.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown.
Wash the spinach, pour boiling water over it to wilt it.
To serve, place patties on plate, top with wilted spinach, and drizzle hollandaise sauce over the top.

Easy Hollandaise Sauce
This is a wonderful recipe from "The Vegetarian Adventure Cookbook" by Rowan Bishop and Sue Carruthers.  It makes quite a lot, so I usually halve the recipe.  I use a whizzy stick to whizz it all together.

4 egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon style mustard (but if you don't have it, any mustard will do)
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
125g butter, melted

Place the egg yolks in a food processor or blender (or a mixing bowl if you are using a whizzy stick) with the lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a saucepan until bubbling.
Blend the yolks briefly, for about 5 seconds  With the motor still running, add the butter in a thin stream until it is thickened.  Adjust the seasoning, and reheat gently to serve.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Cupcake Toppers!

Cupcake toppers are really cute and they are easy and fun to make.  All you need is some paper, some craft punches, a glue stick, toothpicks, and some small stickers or labels to stick the toothpicks on the back (you can also use masking tape or electrical tape).

I have got a Cuttlebug, which is lots of fun, so I emboss plain paper, and use a tag die for cutting out the bases for my cupcake toppers. If you have a large circle punch or a heart punch, that is also perfect to use for the bases.  Otherwise, you may need to cut out lots of small circles for your cupcake toppers.  I make my bases first, using plain coloured cardstock.  

Use your smaller punches to punch out small motifs.  You can punch them out on either plain or pretty paper.  You can punch them out of embossed paper.  You can also stamp onto the plain paper (either before or after punching them).  You can use both the punched cut-out motif, as well as the paper with the motif cut out of it.  So nothing is wasted!  The black and gold butterfly topper above is an example of using the surrounding paper after the motif has been punched. The dragonfly (right) is also an example of using this method.

Once you have punched out a pile of motifs, you can start assembling your toppers (this is the fun part).  Get a base, choose a motif, and use your gluestick to stick it on.  It is that simple!  Motifs do not have to be stuck in the middle of the base - you can arrange them in a way that is pleasing to you, such as the butterfly below.  Look for colour combinations that work well together.  If you are using pretty paper motifs, it is best to put them on a plain paper base - otherwise it will not have any impact.  

Once you have assembled your toppers, get your toothpicks and small sticky labels (or masking tape).  Turn your topper over, lay your toothpick down on it (make sure the topper is up the right way otherwise it will be upside down!) and place a sticky label over the top of it to attach it.  Voila!  Beautiful cupcake toppers.  

You can re-use your cupcake toppers over and over again - all you have to do is remove the used toothpick and insert a new toothpick. 

I noticed my cupcake toppers made their way into peoples bags after my 40th birthday party!  I thought that was a very nice compliment!

Ginger Lime Cupcakes

mmmm.... cupcakes!   delectable little morsels in their own little paper case with icing on top. They look so pretty and taste so good, with a lovely light texture that makes you want just one more.  So, for my Sunday Baking for something to take to school for my lunches during the week, I made Ginger Lime cupcakes.  Limes are in season at the moment, and are only $6 a kilo at the Mangere Markets (as opposed to $25 a kilo in the supermarket!). So, armed with a bag of limes and a packet of crystallised ginger (which I had to hide from my flatmate to make sure I had some  left for my cupcakes) I took over the kitchen for a few hours (I am not a very fast cook.  I enjoy it, and I enjoy doing things the old fashioned way - using a Crown Lynn beehive mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, and my arm, rather than an electric mixer.  I also don't have a microwave.  Or a TV.)

Ginger and Lime Cupcakes

3 eggs
200g butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn't have this, so I just used milk)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup crystallised ginger, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.  Line a cupcake pan with cupcake papers.  This mix made about 16 normal sized cupcakes and 9 mini cupcakes.

Lightly beat the eggs, add butter and sugar, then mix until light and fluffy.

Add milk and flour, and stir to combine.  Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until light and creamy.  (At this point I did actually use an electric mixer, because my arm was getting sore and the butter wasn't very soft).

Add crystallised ginger, lime juice, and zest, and mix through until combined.
lime zest... mmmm smells so good!
 This is a wonderful little tool for squeezing limes... you open it up... 

put in half a lime face down...
 Then you close it and press down...
... and it squeezes all the lime juice out!  

Divide the mixture between your cupcake papers.  

Bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and firm to touch.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
ice when cooled.

lime and ginger icing
I just mix up a suitable amount of icing for how many cupcakes I have (well, that is my aim anyway), so I don't really measure my ingredients.  I just estimate how much I think I need.

1 spoon butter
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime 
a little hot water
finely chopped crystallized ginger

mix first 5 ingredients all together until smooth; add the crystallized ginger; spread on your cupcakes.

Cupcake toppers are a very easy and cute way to decorate your cupcakes and make them look really pretty if you are having friends around for afternoon tea.  They are expensive to buy in the shop, but are fun and easy to make at home.  I will post instructions on how to make them on my next blog... watch this space!