Friday, August 29, 2008

Wow! I've been given an award!

And here it is!
I've been awarded this by the lovely Maria over at Maria has a lovely blog full of brilliant recipes and is well worth a visit. I'm amazed and really flattered that she has awarded this to me, so a huge thanks Mara!
Awards bring responsibilities and I've printed the rules for this award below.
1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and their contribution to the blogging community.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.
4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5. Show these rules.
I would like to pass this award onto

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Peanut Butter Biscuits.

What a mad time we've had over on my favourite foodie forum 'Violet's Pantry'! I think I shoulder some of the responsibility as I posted a picture of the Snake Pit cake just after Kerryanne had posted a picture of her Peanut Butter Biscuits. They were truly beautiful and round but received no comments due to the aforementioned Snake Pit.
Anyway, one thing led to another and we ended up having a PBB challenge with photos being posted of our efforts. Kerryanne, with the help of her emu avatar, Ernie (Please don't ask!!) drew the winners name out of a hat and the winner as well as having the kudos of winning the challenge and eating some very scrummy biscuits also has a packet of Australian tea winging its way to them c/o yours truly.
The challenge has finished now but if you'd like to have a go at the recipe then please do as it really is a great and tasty treat!
Peanut Butter Cookies by Kerryanne
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g unsalted butter, brought to room temp.
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (280g) crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (50g) chopped raw unsalted peanuts, plus extra to decorate (I didn't decorate)
Sift flour,baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugars with an electric beater on medium until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and beat until just combined. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Add flour mixture and gently mix on low speed until combined. Stir in peanuts. Scrape dough onto a board and divide in half (If it is very soft,chill briefly so it's easier to roll into logs) Lay a large sheet of foil on bench, then top with baking paper. Gently work one piece of dough with your hands to bring together, then roll into a 5cm thick log. Sit the log on one end of paper, then roll up to enclose. Enclose in foil and twist ends tightly in opposite directions to form a bon bon..Repeat with remaining dough. Chill for 2-3 hours until firm (or freeze for up to 5 weeks and defrost in fridge before slicing). Preheat oven to 150oC. Unwrap logs, then carefully slice into 6-7mm thick rounds.Place biscuits about 3cm apart on baking paper lined trays, (you will need three trays) Press extra nuts into each biscuit, bake 20-25 mins until crisp and golden brown, rotating trays halfway if cooking unevenly. Cool on trays for 3 minutes, then cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to five days, or freeze up to 3 weeks then defrost at room temperature.
Now you may notice a bit of a difference between Kerryanne's perfect biscuits and my own. I made the classic mistake of not reading the recipe correctly and made my biscuits very thick indeed. I couldn't believe that they needed to be 6-7cms thick so cut them 2-3cms instead. It would have been so much easier to have re-read the recipe!!! I also added chocolate chips rather than peanuts.
And the winner..........? I finish with a picture of Kelly-Jane's challenge winning peanut butter biscuits! Well done Kelly-Jane!

Back to Soup!

We had a couple of days of milder weather last week which made me feel that spring was on the way but then the wind changed direction and we're back to the cold. So, cue more soup!

I had a cauliflower in the fridge and some cheese which was said to me 'Cauliflower cheese soup'. This was garnished with some crispy bacon croutons and mopped up with some home made crusty bread. Inner central heating if ever there was any!

I made the soup as I went along so there's no ingredient list but it's as easy as anything to make and is open to all sorts of variations. let your imagination run riot!

Gently fry up a chopped onion and a celery stick in a little butter or oil. Try not to let it colour too much. Add a cauliflower broken up into florets (this depends on the size of your cauli or how much soup you want to make!) and cover with vegetable stock. Home made is great if you have any but a good quality stock cube will do the job too. Simmer until the veggies are soft then remove from the heat and add a good chunk of grated cheese. I used Australian Tasty cheddar but any blue cheese would work. Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning to taste.

If you like a thicker soup then add a peeled and diced potato when you add the cauliflower or thicken with any spare mashed potato in your fridge!

Fry or grill a couple of bacon rashers and dice before sprinkling on top of the bowl of soup.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's in the bag!!!

I know I'm a bit old fashioned...well, perhaps a lot, but I admit to having a difficulty with the trend of making up party bags for the guests at the end of parties. After all, a slice of birthday cake wrapped up in a napkin was good enough for us. However, that's my stuff and not wanting to put Little One in a difficult position I think I've come up with an ideal solution.....the Thank You cupcake!

Firstly, I made a batch of 12 cupcakes using a standard victoria sponge mix, that is

4 oz butter
4 oz sugar
4 oz self raising flour (plus 1/2 tsp baking powder if you're doing the all in one)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Put everything in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add a little milk to slacken the mix if it's too stiff.
Spoon into 12 large cake cases and bake for 10 -15 mins at 180 degrees. The cakes are done when they are spongy to the touch.
Leave them to cool and they should look like this.

I then sliced the tops off to give me a flat surface and smoothed buttercream icing to act as glue because the piece de resistance was then applied. I'd ordered a set of 12 edible cake decorations with a jolly photo of Little One and 'Thanks for coming' printed on. These were put on the cupcakes and the join was iced over with mauve butter icing rosettes.
I had a bit of an upset as I'd wanted to wrap them in cellophane but there would have been too much wrapping swamping the cakes so after a quick dash out to the $2 shop I put them in cellophane nests in little carrier bags spruced up with a bit of shiny ribbon.
Now the cake is done and the party bags ready...bring on the party!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Welcome to the snake pit!!

I've just finished washing up after a 5 hour marathon cake decorating session. Let me show you the Little One's birthday cake! She had the whole of Debbie Brown's 50 Easy Party Cakes to choose from and this was the one that got the vote.
The party is on Sunday at the local circus school. I'm trying hard not to imagine 12 young girls on stilts, unicycles or the trapeeze. Will the fruit juice and crisps (SO healthy!!) stay down? Will they want to eat the cake?
The baking isn't finished yet as there's still 30 chocolate cookies to make for the class on THE day (Monday) and tomorrow I'm making the 'party bags'. Well, they're not really party bags but my updated version of the slice of birthday cake wrapped in a napkin. I'll post a picture when they're done, not before as they might be rubbish!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Malibu Muffins!

I'm busy baking for a birthday at the moment but while I was getting the cakes done I had enough time and oven space to have a little experiment too and these were the result! I've named them Malibu muffins because the main ingredients are coconut and pineapple. Sadly I had no actual Malibu or that would have gone in too!
I had the idea for the combo from the contents of my fridge. I had a cup or so of light coconut cream and some pineapple that needed using up so I pulled out my old faithful muffin recipe that I add anything to and went for it. For 12 muffins you'll need:
1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup canola oil
Chocolate chips and chopped pineapple to taste
Put all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the liquids together in a jug and then lightly mix into the dry stuff. Add the chocolate chips and pineapple before putting into muffin cases.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 20mins.
I used my silicone moulds which were perhaps not the best thing but it hasn't stopped the muffins from disappearing!
My thanks to Linda from Thinking about Food for the beautiful cloths that she sent to me to enhance my photos. They work!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tomato soup with spaghetti and meatballs

We're still in the middle of winter here and a hearty soup is most welcome as a warming supper. I was really taken with this recipe that appeared in the latest copy of Delicious and had great fun trying it out. It helps that we have an award winning sausage maker in town and I grabbed 500g of his gold medal winning chicken and sweetcorn sausages to turn into the meatballs. The soup is wonderfully 'tomatoey' and plates were cleared very quickly!
1 tbs olive oil
1 thinly sliced onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1tbs tomato paste
2, 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1.25l chicken stock
500g thin chicken sausages
100g spaghetti, broken into 5cm lengths
Basil leaves,grated Parmesan and crusty bread to serve.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 mins, stirring until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring for a further minute. Add the canned tomatoes and 625ml of the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 mins while you make the meatballs.
For the chicken meatballs, place the remaining 625ml chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings and form into about 30(3cm) meatballs. Add the meatballs to the stock and simmer for about 10 mins until cooked through. Remove the meatballs to a plate with a slotted spoon and return the stock to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, then drain, discarding the stock.
Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. Add the cooked spaghetti and meatballs to the soup and warm gently for 5 mins over a low heat.
Ladle the soup into warmed bows and garnish with basil leaves and Parmesan, serve with the bread.