Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

When a very close friend of mine asked me what she could bake for the Biggest Morning Tea (whilst keeping in mind that it had to be easy and fool-proof because she hasn't made desserts before) I directed her to this chocolate brownie recipe. It had pictorial instructions which are always very helpful and it seemed like a simple enough recipe anyway. Oh how wrong I can be.....but not to despair, there is a happy ending.....

I can't remember the last time I made a chocolate brownie. I've made brownie cupcakes in the past, but not an actual brownie as such. And looking in my pantry I already had the ingredients so thought I'd give it a go, just in case you know.

150g of Butter
300g Dark Chocolate
I only had a 250g block of dark chocolate so made up the 50g with milk chocolate 

Melting chocolate using double boiler method

 1 1/2 cups of Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essense
3 eggs
1 cup Macadamia Nuts
Go in a bowl
(continue to check on the melting chocolate and stir occasionally)

3/4 cup of Plain Flour Sifted in

Mix it really well with wooden spoon

By now the chocolate should be melted

Pour the melted chocolate into the flour mixture 

Stir until well combined

Pour into a greased and lined fudge tin

Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 55mins

When done

So here's the thing, I baked this at around 1pm, allowed it to cool and carted it over to my parents house to eat after dinner. I had such high high hopes that this would be fantastic. And I had a lot riding on it because I told my friend this would be fool-proof and perfect for a beginner baker. Thought it would be so good that I would share it amongst my family and they would all be in awe. Boy was a wrong. Seriously wrong. It was dry. It was crumbly. It was not chocolate fudge brownie as I knew it. My heart sank. To think I suggested this recipe to my friend who thought I was a decent enough cook to ask me for advice. And then for her to bake this and take it to work for a charity event and it sucked?! But I did say there was a happy ending right? Read on......I took my leftover brownie home that night (and sure there was a lot left). I wouldn't throw it in the bin because I hate to waste things. Thought I'd have it with ice cream the next day so it wouldn't be as dry. Everything is better with ice cream.

The next day I was doing some work when I thought I could do with a chocolate break and remembered the brownie. Hmmm should I? It can't be any worse than it was yesterday. So I cut myself a little slither and took a bite. No way! The fudge brownie fairy came overnight and worked her magic and turned my dry, crumbly thing into....what....an actual chocolate brownie??

I couldn't stop at one slice. Not even 2 or 3 or 4. I just kept eating it. I had my Miranda moment from Sex and the City. You remember that episode where she wouldn't fork out for an expensive chocolate cake but instead made her own one? The cake she threw in the bin to try stop herself eating anymore, only to open the lid and eat it straight out of the bin! Hahaha! Yeah....that was me....except I didn't throw mine in the bin. I walked out of the kitchen several times only to come back and pick at it some more, until there was all but one piece left. Damn it was good!

I don't know what happened. But for some reason overnight, it made it right. Perhaps I cut it up too soon? Do brownies need to be made the night before? Well either ways I know now that this recipe does work and will be making it again. Mmmmm could do with some brownie right about now.

Oh, and my friends brownie for the Biggest Morning Tea, turned out to be a major hit!
I love happy endings ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree

When my husband offered to make anything I wanted to eat, this was what I requested - seared scallops with cauliflower puree. I love seared scallops, but haven't tried to make it again myself because it's turned out terribly the last couple of times. I overcrowded the pan, the pan wasn't hot enough, I cooked the scallops too long, ended up steaming them rather than searing them.....list goes on.

This time, however, beautiful! Restaurant quality even ;)  But that just means my husband is a great cook, not me haha!

10 scallops
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the cauliflower puree
Half a head of cauliflower (roughly chopped)
About 1 cup milk (or enough to cover the cauliflower in the saucepan)
2 tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper

1. Place cauliflower, milk and butter in a saucepan. Simmer for 10mins.

2. Blend while still hot (another thing I learnt is that if you blend it once it cools you might get a grainy texture). Season to taste.

5 dollops of cauliflower puree for the 5 seared scallops

3. Pre-heat the frying pan and add oil. Meanwhile, pat dry the scallops and sprinkle salt all over (yes, another not: Sprinkle the salt as high as you can because this will make sure you don't have clumps on one area of the scallop)

 Once you can see the pan is hot enough (ie you will see smoke coming off the pan), throw in the scallops making sure you do not overcrowd the pan (another note: do not swirl the pan as this will release the juices from the scallops which will affect how sweet they taste later). Cook for 1min on one side and then turn and cook for 30 seconds on the other side.


4. Put them straight on top of the puree and serve.

Yet another note: Allow the scallops to rest on the puree for about 2mins before you eat it. In my eagerness to try one it was really chewy, but later trying the others with a squeeze of lemon juice, I found them to be delectable! 

Translucent on the inside, perfectly cooked!  Well done chef!!

And that cauliflower puree.....yum! I literally drank it out of the blender (coz I'm all class!). What an awesome dish. Thanks so much Laurence! I just have to convince him now to do these blog posts for me hehehe

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Boston Baked Beans

Mother's Day this year wasn't much of a relaxing one for me unfortunately. The hubby tore a ligament in his foot and also went and caught Man-Flu as well. He says he'll make up for it next weekend. I can choose something I want to eat and he'll cook it. I'm still deciding......

Right so I was to bring a dish to my brothers place where we would celebrate Mother's Day at his house this year rather than battling the crowds over yum cha or dinner. I was asked to bring a side dish. And since it's cold, so very very cold (my fingers are frozen just typing on the keyboard for this post), I decided to do a hearty side dish that's warming and filling. Couple of clicks later I settled on the Boston Baked Beans from the Taste website (recipe here).

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium brown onion, chopped
4 middle bacon rashers, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 x 400g cans borlotti beans, drained, rinsed
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Heat oil in a flameproof ovenproof dish over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened.

Add bacon and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes or until bacon has browned.

Add paprika. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add sugar, tomato paste, golden syrup and worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until combined.

Stir in beans and tomato. Bring to the boil.

Bake for 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened and beans are heated through. Serve.

You know what, this would be great as a breakfast with toast and a fried egg. I personally found it a little too sweet for my liking but my dad approved (he had one of his molars taken out and could only have soft food so he enjoyed this with some rice....poor guy!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Elmo Cake

For my little girls 2nd birthday I made her an Elmo cake. This is actually an easy character cake to make. The one thing that worried me the most was getting the icing black enough. Remember that icing will set darker (as I found out) and luckily it did because Elmo was initially more a dark pink than red (used up the last drop of the Wilton red, yep all half a jar of it!)

What you will need:
1 quantity of vanilla cake (baked in a round tin)
1 quantity of buttercream
Black food gel
Red food gel
2 extra large marshmellows (I couldn't find them so I made some white fondant)
2 brown smarties
1 Monte Carlos biscuit
Cut a peak at the top like so.
Mark a big smile and scoop out to form Elmo's mouth.

Dye 1/3 of the buttercream in black and the remaining 2/3 in red.
Apply onto the cake.
I suggest doing the mouth first.
I found applying the icing really fun and somewhat therapeutic (sad yes) but it's so much easier than other cakes because you don't have to be perfect and smooth, infact you should be rough while you slather on the red because it's meant to look like fur. I ended up using a dipping/flicking motion to try get a "fluffy" look. Fun!

Ah right, now the eyeballs. I couldn't find extra large marshmellows or this would have been an even easier cake to decorate. So went with making some white fondant, rolling them out and sticking them on the top of the cake with toothpicks to secure them in place.

Pop on a Monte Carlos biscuit for his nose...

Add the smartie pupils and there you have Elmo!

Happy 2nd birthday my dear sweet girl.
May all your hopes and dreams come true.