Monthly Archives: June 2013

Rich, chewy wholemeal dark chocolate brownies

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Brownies usually aren’t my thing, but I had to make morning tea for work tomorrow and decided that chocolate decadence was going to be the only suitable option to get us all through the day. I searched for a while to find the right recipe that had some good ingredients in it, and not just copious amounts of white sugar, flour and butter. I found a recipe (original here: http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2012/12/baking-wholewheat-dark-chocolate-brownies-one-bowl-whole-grain-and-delicious.html) and decided to base my brownies on that, adding a few of my own twists to make it slightly healthier still. The end result was blissful chocolatey goodness. The outside crust is crunchy and light, while the inside is soft and chewy. I’ve eaten four already, so needless to say I’m now a brownie convert! I’ll definitely be baking these again and will no doubt divert from the recipe slightly. Some awesome additions would be macadamia nuts or slivered almonds, toasted coconut, sour cherries, fresh raspberries, blueberries, mashed banana, glacé ginger or chopped dates.

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Ingredients:
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp dark brown sugar (raw sugar or normal brown sugar is also fine)
8 tbsp wholemeal plain flour
100g dark chocolate chips

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
2. Put dark chocolate and oils in a bowl and microwave for a minute or so until melted.
3. Whisk sugar into chocolate mix. Add baking powder, salt and eggs and whisk.
4. Add flour to mix and whisk until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Spoon mixture into tin and cook for 18-22 minutes or until middle is set.
6. Let brownie completely cool in tin before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

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Thick, hot chocolate custard (gluten free, vegan option)

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Chocolate – need I say more?!

This recipe came about one evening when I was craving something hot and chocolatey…but not cake or biscuits. I decided to experiment and came up with this recipe. It’s amazing, even if I do say so myself. I love custard and love chocolate – so what better than chocolate custard. It actually reminds me of an Italian Hot Chocolate I had when on a trip to Brisbane. I’ve never found a hot chocolate since that comes close – this recipe is the closest I’ve got!

As this recipe has no eggs so can easily be adapted to become a vegan recipe – just substitute the cow milk with soy, rice, almond or coconut milk.

choc pots

Ingredients:

– 100g bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa or more)

– 2 tsp cornflour

– 2 tbsp cocoa powder

– 2 tbsp sugar (or substitute maple or agave syrup or stevia)

– 2 cups milk of choice (I used 2% fat milk)

Method:

– Add chocolate to saucepan with 4 tbsp of milk. Heat until chocolate has melted. Whisk in remaining ingredients and cook over low heat until thick and creamy.

Best served in a teacup topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

The perfect roast chicken – every time

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I love cooking a roast chicken – or any roast for that matter – especially with homemade gravy. I get a little perplexed that a lot of people my age are completely ignorant when it comes to proper gravy. Gravox or powdered gravy isn’t gravy. It’s gross. Plus, after you’ve put in hours of care to make the perfect roast why wouldn’t you put all those delicious pan juices to good use?! I think a roast chicken is one of the easiest things in the world to make, and this method ensures that the meat stays super tender and juicy every single time. Yes, I’ve cooked probably close to a hundred chickens like this (or so it feels) and I’ve never had one turn out anything but perfect. So all you young people who can’t make gravy – here is your chance. It’s easy. It’s delicious. You’ll never eat any other kind of gravy other than home made again. Promise!

I often cook this recipe on a weekend and can get about 8 portions from a whole chicken. I usually freeze the leftover shredded meat in single-serve portions in zip-lock bags…this way I have shredded roast chicken on hand for other recipes or leftovers.

Ingredients:

Roast chicken:

– 1 large raw chicken (about 2kg)

– 1 cup chicken stock

– 2 medium brown onions

– Olive oil

– Salt & pepper to taste

– 8 sprigs of rosemary

– 4 – 5 cloves garlic

– vegetables to serve

Gravy:

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp butter or fat skimmed off top of roasting juices

Roasting juices

Hot water

Method:

Chicken:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Wash chicken in cold water (to remove any juices/bits that stick in package). Make sure you thoroughly wash the inside cavity.

3. Pat down with paper towel to dry and stuff the inside cavity with rosemary and garlic.

4. Chop onions into 1cm thick slabs and lay in a roasting dish.

5. Rub whole bird with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

6. Lay chicken BREAST SIDE DOWN on the layer of onions and pour in the chicken stock.

7. Place roasting dish in oven and cook for required time, turning the chicken over halfway through – so the chicken is now the right way up. (Cooking time – I allow 30 mins/500g – seems to work out every time as long as you allow enough resting time once cooked).

8. Once chicken is cooked remove from tray and rest BREAST SIDE DOWN – this allows all the juices to run into the breast, making it super moist and juicy – and covered in foil. Rest for approximately half an hour prior to serving.

Gravy

9. Tip all roasting tray juices into a tall mug/bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. You’ll be able to see all the fat sitting on top of the juices. Skim fat off top and discard (I usually place some paper towel into a bowl and tip the fat in there and then put in bin – much better than tipping it down the sink!).

10. Heat pan on stove top and add butter/roasting fat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute.

11. Add remaining roasting juices to flour mix and whisk until smooth. Cook on low for 5-8 minutes, adding water until you get the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve – serve roasted chicken with preferred vegetables and top with gravy.

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Roasted pumpkin and sweet potato soup

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I never really used to think much of soup…don’t get me wrong, it’s nice and all, but I’d much prefer to eat something else – like pasta or potatoes. My parents have always made delicious soups over the years…Dad’s Ham Hock, Chorizo & White Bean soup is still a favourite, or Mum’s Mulligatawny! In the last few years I’ve learned to appreciate a good soup, probably because one of the only ways to survive winter in this place is to load up on as much hearty food as possible. Plus you generally don’t use much kitchen equipment or time to prep/cook soup…and leftovers are the best for lunch! Soup also freezes really well, so you can always have a stockpile for an instant hot meal.

Soup is one of those things that you can make with pretty much whatever you have in your fridge/pantry. I love throwing a heap of veggies into a roasting tray to caramelise and turn golden brown before tossing the whole lot into a pot with some stock and herbs/spices. Cook for 10-15 minutes and then blitz until smooth. How easy is that, right?!

Ingredients:

– 500g Jap/Kent pumpkin

-1 medium sweet potato

– 2 brown onions

– 5 cloves garlic

– 1/4 head of cauliflower

– 2 tsp curry powder

– 1 tsp cumin powder

– 1 tsp ground coriander seeds

– 4 tbsp olive oil

– 1 litre stock (chicken or vegetable)

– Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees Celcius.

2. Peel and cut in to cubes the pumpkin, sweet potato and onion. Place in roasting dish/tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt & pepper and roast until golden brown and caramelised (about 40-60 minutes)

veg for roasting

3. Heat large pot on stove top. Add remaining oil and fry cauliflower until soft. Add garlic, curry powder and spices and cook until aromatic. Add roasted vegetables and stock and cook for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables go mushy.

4. Use a stick blender (or regular blender – you’ll have to do it in batches this way) to blitz soup until smooth.

5. Serve with a large dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.

soup

Healthy fruit & oat muffins

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I love rolled oats…I have them for breakfast every morning and use them regularly in my baking. I’ll sometimes even cook up porridge for dessert in winter time…it’s warm, comforting and way healthier than pudding or cake. Having them cooked/prepared the same way every day can get a little boring though, so finding new ways of using oats is always awesome. I found a recipe for an apple peanut butter oat slice and decided to alter the recipe slightly and add some extra ingredients. (The original recipe is here: http://happyhealthymama.com/2012/11/apple-peanut-butter-snack-bars.html )

These are packed full of both fresh and dried fruit, and are moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I think you could vary the recipe in many ways and they would still turn out pretty well. The original recipe cooked them in a lamington tin and then cut up once cooked – I think making them in muffin tins is way easier, and they’re a little crumbly, so this seems to hold them together well. They’re super easy to mix up and don’t take long to cook. I made a batch of 12 and I’ve already eaten 2, so I don’t think they’ll last long!!

Oat fruit muffins

Healthy fruit & oat muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup dried fruit (I used sultanas, dried cranberries and diced dried apricots)

1 apple, cored and grated (leave the skin on!)

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (or any nut butter of choice)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

2. Add oats, dried fruit, grated apple, cinnamon and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.

3. Heat the peanut butter and honey in the microwave for 40 seconds and add to oat mix. Add banana and egg and stir until combined. Spoon mixture into muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops and edges are golden brown. Cool for half an hour before running a butter knife around the edge of each muffin to remove from tin.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Can be frozen and reheated in the microwave.

Serves 12.

You could always use less oats and substitute other ingredients like desiccated/shredded coconut, quinoa (cooked or puffed), chopped nuts, sunflower seeds etc or add LSA mix, flaxseed or chia seeds.

You can add whatever dried fruit you like – it would be delicious with dates, figs, prunes, currents, raisins or dried apple. I think you could also use other fruits in this dish – try pear instead of the apple, add cherries, chopped peach, apricot or plum. You could always add some extra antioxidants by adding dark chocolate chips…because antioxidants are important!!

Get experimental – there are a million possibilities – just have a go!

Let me know if you make these and any variations you try – I’l be interested to see what other people come up with! 🙂