Sunday, 28 August 2011

Possibly a new hobby..

I can see myself making more of these.


I've never sewn anything before in my life. It took, on and off, about 2 hours. I didn't follow all the instructions, stabbed myself a few times with the needle, but after all that, I made this lil' dude.

He's from this book, Felties, and I can't wait to have another go at making more little critters.

.. Even if they are a little cutesy.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Shifty shortcut: Quick caramelised onions

I love caramelised onions, but I'm too impatient to stand around and wait for it to all happen naturally, the onions softening, the sugars finally coming out and going dark and glassy and delicious.

So, I found a shortcut that I adore~ Thinly slice a red onion, throw it on a screaming hot griddle with a tiny amount of oil (not too much, or it will smoke like crazy) and cook it until it softens a bit and gets a little colour.

Then, splash on a good lug of balsamic vinegar. It doesn't have to be top shelf stuff, but something half decent, and allow the vingear to bubble up and reduce a little.
The sugar in the balsamic will sweeten the onions, the acid will soften them, and they come out beautiful, and have a fantastic smokey-sweet flavour.

If you have cooked some meat to go with, do this process in the same pan, as the vinegar will pick up the meat juices and flavour, and add that to the onions.  
So. Good.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Healer's Market, plus vegan cupcakes~

For a couple of months now, I have been doing the food stuffs for the monthly Healer's Market in Moonee Ponds, while the lovely Sally (who offered me the spot) does awesome coffee and drinks.

It is generally pretty fun, and gives me a rather good outlet for experimental baking, especially concerning dietary requirements. Though after my first market, it because clear that while I had predicted that a mostly-vegetarian menu would be best, a lot of other allergies had been brought up.

So far, I have managed to accomodate for vegans, coeliacs (gluten intolerant/allergy), lactose intolerants, onion intolerants, people who avoid vegetables in the nightshade family (that one I learned on the job; i didn't expect it!)..
I'm pretty happy with what I have been able to put up. But finding something sweet and portable for vegans, apart from a very easy gluten-free vegan shortbread (which I will post at a later date), was beginning to shit me. I'm stubborn, what can I say.

So, I bit the bullet, and tried a simple vegan cupcake recipe. The idea of doing a cake without egg did my head in a teensy bit, but the result left me giggling like a little kid. I was very excited!

Cinnamon vegan cupcakes  -  makes 10

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp baking soda (bi-carb soda)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients:

1 cup soy milk
1 1/2 tsp apple cider  vinegar
1/3 cup rice bran oil (vegetable, canola or sunflower seed would work also)
2 tsp vanilla essence

Method:
  1.  Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12 capacity muffin tray with patty pans
  2. Measure up all ingredients, wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in another. 
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Beat until smooth.
  4. Place 2 tablespoonfuls of batter into each patty pan, or until filled 3/4 of the way up
  5. Into the oven on the middle shelf, for 20 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes out clean
The result? Beautifully risen cupcakes! Quite moist, perfectly lovely normal cake taste..Everyone is happy.

.. Okay, except the coeliacs, soy intolerants,  OKAY OKAY.

Anyway. I also iced them with a vanilla glaze, because I was dead tired and lazy. 

Icing sugar, with 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste, hot water and a tiny bit of lemon juice. I find lemon juice really brings out the white in the icing, and adds an almost sherbet-y taste.


Also YAY FIRST RECIPE.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Cooking backwards? Whoops~

I hate it when you suddenly realise that even though you've done something a few times before, and it has worked fine, it turns out that you've been doing it the wrong way.

I had that with a chocolate ganache icing I made for some wholemeal chocolate and orange cupcakes. I've made it at least a dozen times before, and it siezed on me (went grainy and hard) when I added the cream to the melted chocolate.

Confused, I consulted Mum, who I bounce off of a lot when it comes to anything culinary, who suggested to add more cream.
With my best mate watching in amused, I proceedly to curse and beat the living hell out of this stupid ganache, adding cream until it because silky and smooth.

I triumphantly spread the rescued ganache onto the cupcakes, though a little voice was in the back of my head nagging me. We all ate one, and they taste amazing.
But while everything tasted great, the ganache ended up splitting. This doesn't affcted the taste, it just means a bit of the fat from the cream comes to the surface, which ruins the shine of the ganache.

After a bit more swearing, I figured out that I've been doing it completely backwards. The 'proper' way is to heat the cream, then pour over the broken-up chocolate and stir until it is melted and reaches the right consistency (thanks Larousse~).

So yeah. That's my fuck-up. But it still tastes good. Bah humbug.

Note: If you want a drinking chocolate with a difference, check out the range from Grounded Pleasures. Their orange-scented drinking chocolate converted me to the pleasures of citrus and bittersweet chocolate.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Beginnings.

Nothing is more intimidating to me than a blank page.. A good way to start is to explain a bit more about myself, and where I'm coming from with this blog. So here we go.

Over the last two years or so, I started trying to figure out what I wanted with my life. I started my first job in a cafe, my formal training as a chef, and my next job waitressing. A lot of these changes scared the bajeezus out of me to be completely honest, and none of it was very smooth to start with.

I ended up quitting my job at the cafe, but I learned a lot about myself, and it inspired me to go on to formal training as a chef, which I did a few months later. I still visit that cafe a lot, and they're all awesome people.

I got into waitressing to get a bit of extra cash, and even though it is one of those jobs that cops a bad name, it helped me come out of my shell and has easily been one of the best things I have ever done.
While customer service can be painful every now and then, it is definitely good for building people skills.

I started my training at William Angliss in 2010 with fear, and ended it in 2011 with a passion for food, and oddly enough, an even stronger passion for baking in particular. I used to be scared to make cupcakes, for crying out loud, and now I can't wait to have an excuse to whip up another batch.

But almost as much as creating food, I love talking about it. I have been considering making a blog for years, and now that I have a bit of a break between study, I figured it was about time to get started.

While I will most likely ramble on about food, music and videogames are another two hobbies of mine that I love as well. I tend to love having music on as I cook, and while listening to screaming men and loud guitars might not be everyone's cuppa.. Eh, it works for me~
 I love baking for friends and family, and considering some of these lovely people have some food intolerances or allergies, it can be rather.. Interesting sometimes, to try and work with that. I like to share these recipes and ideas, because it is becoming an issue in our culture now a days.

So, hopefully I'll be able to keep this blog rolling. I didn't want to restrict it to purely food, so I could update without having to stress about having pictures or anything like that. And let's be honest, we all get distracted and/or need to have a rant about random stuff every now and then.

Well, that's a bit about me, and about the blog, and I'm in dire need of tea.
So see you around~