Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Banana and chocolate chip muffins

Please find this month's offering for the Sweet and Simple Bakes challenge.

Sweet and Simple Bakes is a great blog run by Rosie and Maria. It's designed for people who just love baking no matter how competant they feel and there is a challenge issued each month for all who would like to join in!

This is the second month that I've joined in and I love it as I'm being introduced to new recipes rather than just re-creating my own usual fare.

Last month was the double choc chip cookies which have gone down a storm.(Little One has asked me to make a batch for her to take to school on her birthday!) This month it's been Banana and choc chip muffins.

These, like the muffins have disappeared rather quickly in school lunch boxes and as pre sports practice snacks. I'm not a fan of cooked banana so can't vouch for their tastiness but the empty cake tin can! They were really easy to make and I loved the very generous amount of chocolate chips that went in them.

If you would like the recipe or to join in the fun with August's challenge then please click on the Sweet and Simple Bakes logo on the right.

My thanks go to the lovely Sal from Vi's pantry and for the great mug and cute tray which showed off the muffin to it's absolute best!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Irish Stew for the All Blacks!

Yes, I know that sounds daft but that's how it is!

Last night we all went to watch the Wallabies play the All Blacks and being a Pommie family we wanted to keep things well balanced and show no favouritism. Having produced the Green and Gold cake for pudding, I wanted to do something black for the mains. Granny had posted her Irish Stew as part of the Pantry Challenge and I thought that if I used stout instead of stock then that would be my 'black' content. It was also pretty cold last night so I wanted something that would act as decent central heating too! I made Granny's Wholemeal Soda Bread to mop up the juices and have to say that it all disappeared rather quickly!!

Now, I'm going to post Granny's recipe and then put the ingredients that I used and see if you can spot the difference!

IRISH STEW (My version everyone has their own)

Approx 1lb/500gms lamb cut into cubes (or beef) 500g beef

6-8 potatoes cut up into pieces or less whatever your taste.

2 carrots roughly chopped

2 parsnips roughly chopped 2 sticks of celery, chopped

1 large leek roughly sliced no leeks!

2 onions chopped

oil for browning

Worcester sauce 4 tbsp maple syrup

chicken stock (2or 3 stock cubes) a small bottle of stout

Dried herbs as desired. a sprig or 2 of thyme and a bay leaf

Salt and pepper


Brown Lamb and add onions in a large pot Stir around and add leeks leave a few mins and add about 1/2 pint water and 1 stock cube herbs and Worcester sauce. Leave to simmer until lamb is tender. Add more water as desired. In another pot boil up potatoes carrot and parsnip in stock. Leave in stock until lamb is cooked. When lamb is tender add cooked potatoes etc, with stock Stir all around and keep heat low. The potatoes should be a bit mushy now Taste and add more stock as desired. Season to taste Turn heat off and leave to absorb flavour

Serve with Brown Soda Bread......What else?

I just layered everything in my slow cooker putting the vegetables in first and the meat in last and left it to cook for 4 or so hours. I thickened up the gravy with a little cornflour.

Soda Bread is something that I've always wanted to try but never done so last night was a first. This time I stuck to the recipe pretty much but used oatmeal and bran instead of the porridge oats and used milk with lemon juice as I'd no buttermilk. I did find that I needed to use less milk as a result. The bread was really lovely and just the thing to mop up the gravy!

Brown Soda/Wheaten bread
8 ozs/225gms Wholemeal Flour
4 ozs/100gms Plain Flour
4ozs/100gms Porridge Oats Or 2oz/50gms Oats and 2oz/50gms bran Approx.
One pint/575mls Butter Milk
1oz/25gms Butter
1 teasp Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda
1 teasp sugar or honey
1 teasp. salt
Greased and floured round sandwich tin
Oven temp 350F 180.C Gas 4
In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub through. Add enough buttermilk to form a soft but easily handled dough. It should not be runny. Knead lightly and quickly into a round and place in prepared tin. (It is essential you use light hands) Cut a deep cross in the bread. Sprinkle with oats if desired Bake for approx 40 Minutes Tastes great straight from the oven so don't hold back
Notes: If you do not have or cannot get Buttermilk add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to ordinary milk and leave for ten minutes or so.
Cover with a tea towel when it comes out of the oven to stop the crust getting too hard
The whole meal was rather lovely as was the game! Well done the Wallabies!
Thanks Granny for some lovely recipes and also for my second award. I'm not sure what I did to deserve it but I'm glad I did and many thanks!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

My First Award!

And here it is! It's been awarded by George from Culinary Travels From a Kitchen Goddess. Her blog is absolutely wonderful and is an inspiration with her lovely photos. I've been lucky enough to trial a couple of her recipes which are going into her book and not only am I looking forward to seeing them in print but also trying out many more new recipes!
Thank you George for all the hard work that you put into your blog and for the help and inspiration it gives me!

A Glut of Lemons!

One of the lovely things about living in Sydney is that the climate is just right for growing citrus fruits and I'm lucky enough to have a lemon tree. There is nothing nicer, I think, than being able to go out and pick a lemon from the tree to go in my G&T! Well, this year the tree went bananas and produced all these lemons (it is only a little tree!) so I've been busy using them.

As luck would have it the Pantry Challenge on Vi's Pantry has a Lemon Pound Cake. This was posted by Granny, a whizz in the kitchen if ever there was one! After reading the recipe and seeing the photo I made for the mixing bowl pretty quickly. The sponge is a lovely simple but tasty one and it rose beautifully. It also turned the most lovely golden brown and it almost seemed a shame to put the icing on it. However, this Lemon Pound Cake is on a mission to be tomorrows pudding before we all go out to watch The Wallabies (Australia) play the All Blacks (New Zealand) in what I hope will be a great rugby match. The lemon butter icing is the crucial 'gold' in my 'green and gold' decoration for the Aussies!

Lemon Pound Cake

250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened

250g/9oz caster sugar

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp natural vanilla extract

4 free-range eggs

250g/9oz self-raising flour,

sifted lemon butter icing


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Grease and line the base of a deep 20cm/8in square baking tin with baking paper.

3. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.

5. Fold in the sifted flour in two batches until well combined.

6. Spoon into the tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean (you can cover the cake loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly).

7. Cool for ten minutes before removing from the tin and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Ice with lemon butter icing.

Lemon Butter Icing

75G/3oz Unsalted butter

100G/4oz Icing Sugar

2 teasps finely grated lemon zest

2 teasps lemon juice

Beat the butter until soft and white. Add lemon zest and juice Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar Spread over the cake

If you follow all these instructions then this is what you get!!