Archive for 2012

Berries, Banana + Walnut Breakfast Smoothie

Friday, 28 December 2012

Ever since I became lactose intolerant (about three years ago now) I've avoided making smoothies because I don't really like soy milk, or I never like opening a whole bottle of lactose free milk because they only come in one litre bottles and I never use them up. I like my smoothies with ice cream and milk, because that's how I made them growing up. Since becoming lactose intolerant, I've also had to stop having my favorite cold (and hot!) drinks - iced white chocolate mochas (my ultimate favorite), Boost juices (although I recently discovered that you can have 'crush' versions of whatever smoothie you choose - they just leave out the yoghurt!), Max Brenner white hot chocolate in a hug mug and white chocolate suckaos!


Anyway, occasionally, I will have one of these drinks... and pay the price. But it's worth it!
It still made me sad that I couldn't have them as much as I would like to have them. The other day, when I got home from the gym, I really, really, really wanted a smoothie. So I decided to try one, using soy milk, for the first time ever. And it was delicious!

Berries, Banana and Walnut Smoothie
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 small scoop of Greek frozen yoghurt - I figured it wouldn't hurt

Blend until smooth + enjoy your delicious and healthy smoothie! (: I called it a breakfast smoothie because I've taken to having it every morning for breakfast (I do variations, of course, with hazelnuts, cinnamon, passionfruit, almonds, honey, blueberries, cranberries, mangoes... whatever I have on hand! And it's so yummy!), but you can have it whenever you like! Smoothies are super filling because although it doesn't feel like it, you're eating four different fruit in two minutes! And so healthy too. Enjoy!


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Thursday, 27 December 2012

I love, love, love crepes and pancakes.
Whenever I'm procrastinating from uni work, or cleaning, or anything else I don't want to do, I make these for breakfast.

This is a really basic recipe that I use as a base for pancakes and crepes.

Basic Batter
Makes about 6 pancakes or 8 crepes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
How easy is that? Beat the egg and flour together with a whisk until combined, and add milk. For crepes, water the mixture down with 1/2 cup of water. Easy peasy! Who needs those shaker bottles?
Heat a small frying pan (or whatever size you like - I like my small pan because I like little crepes) and then add a small smear of butter. When the butter starts sizzling pour 1/4 cup of the mixture in and fry until all the bubbles pop, and then flip the pancake/crepe over. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Fill your crepes with whatever you like. This time, I did one with mango and strawberries with icing sugar, one with strawberries, blueberries and peanut butter and honey, and one with Nutella and whipped cream. 

 I topped them with some blueberries, dusted with icing sugar, and then drizzled maple syrup on the top. A quick, easy and delicious breakfast - perfect for procrastination ;)

xx gee

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Mini Gingerbread Houses!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

I was never a fan of ginger. It was just strange, and I'd pick it out of everything. At Chinese restaurants, they serve steamed fish with soy sauce and so, so many matchsticks of ginger that it would take ages picking them off, separating them from the coriander and scallion curls that I liked. At home, I would make sure my mom left them in thick, thumb-sized chunks when she cooked, so that I could identify them easily and avoid them.

Then suddenly, I started eating pickled ginger. The thin slices of pink or yellow heaps in the corner of your sushi takeaway container. And it was delicious. I had to have it with my sushi, and it made me grumpy when it was an additional 30 cents if you just got a sushi roll as opposed to a box set, and it came for free. At sushi trains, they would have it going round and round on the conveyor belt, and I'd make sure I took one big spoonful of wasabi, and an even big spoonful of ginger.

So this year, I decided that I would make a gingerbread house. It was a big moment for me, because I'd had bad experiences with gingerbread before - the 2006 Gingerbread Disaster, I'm calling it, and last year while away at a friend's farm, there was a gingerbread house kit. It was just awful. The icing wouldn't set, everything kept falling off, the roof caved in, the walls caved in, icing was everywhere... But anyway, I was set on making my little house. And I wanted it to be little, because I like mini things.

So here are my mini gingerbread houses. They are on saucers, to give you an idea of their size.

Gingerbread House
Makes 4 mini gingerbread house

  • 150 g chopped butter
  • 150 g packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup golden syrup (spray the measuring cup with cooking spray first and the syrup will fall right off)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ½ cups plain flour
For the icing:
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C or 150°C fan forced.
  2. Melt butter and combine in a medium saucepan with brown sugar, golden syrup and spices.
  3. Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl, add baking soda and stir. The mixture will foam and fizz.
  4. Beat egg and add to mixture until incorporated. Add flour, one cup at a time, until it is mixed thoroughly.
  5. When it's all mixed in, wrap it up tightly in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  6. Divide the dough into four workable bits. Roll one bit into a ball, and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. Keep the other bits wrapped up tightly until you need them later. Your dough should be between 3 - 4mm thick. I like to use the chopstick method to ensure my dough is even. Place a chopstick of appropriate thickness on either side of your dough circle and then just roll with your rolling pin like normal - your dough will be wonderfully flat (:
  7. Using this template, cut out the shapes. If you want your house to be bigger or smaller, just add or subtract an inch from all sides. I'm using inches for because my ruler is in inches. I also scored my roof, which you don't have to do, and cut out a little door shape. 
  8. Line your baking tray with baking paper and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and trim 3mm from the sides of the roof and wall pieces so that everything will fit nicely. My door didn't work because I forgot that the dough would expand, so the expanded door-hole and expanded door didn't really work. So if you'd like a door, cut one out now (:
  10. Make your royal icing, by beating the egg white till stiff peaks form. Gradually add in the icing sugar.
  11. Assemble! Glue your pieces together, and then allow the icing to set by using cans or something heavy to hold your house together. I like to do the fiddly details of decorating while doing this as well, like outlining the doors and windows and piping on my roof decorations and whatnot. After your house has been cemented together properly, decorate using little sweets and chocolates however your heart desires! 
  12. Wrap it up in cellophane and it should keep for about 3 weeks! (:

And here's mine all wrapped up!

I also made a teeny tiny one to take to work! Here it is (:
It's very, very tiny - the m&ms are mini m&ms - and the side of the house is covered in a Curly Wurly - so about 3cm high!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! (: 
xxx gee

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Bacon, Rosemary and Feta Quiche

Thursday, 20 December 2012

I love making quiches! Especially for picnics. 

They are so easy to make and you can put pretty much anything you want in it. Super handy when you have picky friends like I do. And even if they are picky, they don't notice what's actually in a quiche because everything is hidden. How lovely.

Here is my latest, delicious quiche creation. It has bacon, rosemary, feta, and caramelised onions in it. And made with filo pastry, which I like to pretend is healthier. Jamie Oliver says it is. 

Bacon, Rosemary and Feta Quiche

  • 6 sheets filo pastry, thawed
  • 250g bacon, sliced thinly (or you could use bacon bits, but the little cubes always freak me out, or shredded bacon)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 little cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 200ml heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm quiche pan and line with baking paper.
  2. Lay one sheet of filo pastry and brush with melted butter, and top with the second sheet. Repeat until all the pastry is used up. If you run out of butter, just melt more (:
  3. Heat the oil in a little saucepan and fry the garlic until golden and fragrant. Remove the garlic, keeping the oil in the pan, and sprinkle onto the pastry. Fry onion until translucent. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves then the balsamic. Keep stirring for about thirty seconds then take the pan off the heat. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, and milk until combined and frothy.
  5. Sprinkle the onion, feta, rosemary (crumbled off the stems), and bacon bits on top of the pastry. Arrange your tomatoes nicely on top. Season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Pour the egg/cream mixture on top, and then bake fore 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the quiche is set, but slightly wobbly in the middle.
  7. Go on a picnic, serve and enjoy! 



Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I was in the Hunter Valley over the weekend for my three year anniversary (yay!) and insisted was lucky enough to be taken to Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Wines. And it was delicious. It had just started to sprinkle as we stepped out of the cab, and the maĆ®tre d' rushed out with an umbrella to greet us. The restaurant overlooked the sprawling vineyards and we watched the sun set slowly, tinting everything a pale pink. It was stunning.

We had a choice between the tasting menu ($110pp for food only, $170pp with Hungerford Hill Wines, $210pp with alternate premium wines, or $200pp with single malt whiskey), two courses ($75) or three courses ($95). I really wanted to pick the tasting menu, but Milo  for some reason is super against "lots of little dishes that don't make you full". This saddens me to say, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish a seven course meal, even if the dishes were tiny, by myself. So we decided to go for the three course meal.

The waiters walked around with big white platters of these little house-baked bread rolls, all lined up in little, neat rows. The one in front is a wholemeal roll with sesame seeds, and the one hiding in the back is a caramelised onion brioche. They were both delicious, although I preferred the wholemeal roll. But the real star of the show was...

The butter. I've never been a big fan of bread rolls and butter, I've always been a balsamic vinegar and olive oil girl. My little brother, on the other hand, has a thing for it. When he was eight, we were at a fancy restaurant for Mother's Day lunch, he stood up and calmly asked the waiter for "good, nice butter". When I saw this cylindrical cloud on our table, I quickly sent him a picture of it. His response? "Ohh." 

It was absolutely amazing, like the lightest whipped cream and the perfect amount of saltiness. Perfection. 

And the waiters kept walking around with their trays of bread all night.

The amuse bouche, with compliments of the chef, was polenta with diced peach and crispy quinoa. They were served on giant white plates, which my photo didn't really do justice. In fact, none of these photos are very great, due to lighting issues. Sorry :(

Milo had the confit Milly Hill lamb belly, with stuffed zucchini flowers and lemon zest. And lily pad leaves, which is what I'm calling those round leaves, because unfortunately they changed their online menu since Saturday, and I can't look to check. Whoops! But it was so, so good; the lamb was soft and juicy, and the zucchini flower went beautifully with the cauliflower puree.

I had confit pork belly (I have a thing for pork belly) and blue swimmer crab. It was absolutely delicious, and there wasn't even any crackling!

The palette cleanser was fennel sorbet, which was surprisingly delicious.

Milo had venison with brussel sprouts and broccolini - apologies again for my terrible memory (so unlike me!) - I blame the yummy Moscato I was enjoying. He really enjoyed it, although it was a bit too rare for my liking.

And I had Duck Tortellini with beetroot puree and goats cheese, and caramelised onions and carrots. And the sprinkling in the back was saffron pepper! (I think) It was absolutely divine. Embarrassing confession: I was full after eating one and a half tortellini ): I made sure Milo ate every last schmear of beetroot puree and goats cheese, though!

For dessert, we were tossing up between the baked caramelised white chocolate fondant, or vanilla bean creme brulee. By this stage, I was so full that I couldn't eat anything else, so we ended up having one three course meal and one two course. But then the waitress came by and told us about this new dessert the chef was testing out. Unfortunately, I can't remember what it was called, and it isn't on the new menu. It was something earthy! It had a few different components - coconut sorbet, black sesame, toasted coconut, pomegranate, pistachio and (this is what made us choose it) chocolate mousse rocks.

What are chocolate mousse rocks, you say? They are little domes of chocolate mousse, dipped into nitrogen and instantly freezing! And they were amazing. They taste exactly how you imagine. The good news is, you can get them on the menu! Not the exact dessert we had, but this is on the menu now: Chocolate Mousse Rocks - vanilla marshmallow, salted peanut brittle biscuit, cumquat, warm malted milk. Please, please, please go and try them!

Our dessert was very interesting. All the flavours blended together really well - the sorbet and the caramelised desiccated coconut was light and refreshing, while the black sesame added something else that I can't quite describe. It was really, really good, although it may look and sound strange. The rocks were definitely the best thing, though, so I'm glad they decided to make it its own dessert rather than mixed in with everything else.

And they gave us these mini macarons as well! Raspberry and passionfruit. We both preferred the raspberry, but they were perfect - look at the feet!

So dinner was a fabulous success, and so was the wine! Muse's hat is definitely well deserved, and I shall be back soon. Hopefully (:

Muse Restaurant and Cafe
Hungerford Hill Wines
Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
P: 02 4998 6777

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Welcome to my blog! 

I've been putting off starting one for the longest time for multiple reasons - I'm waiting for a new camera, waiting for uni to end so I have time, waiting for a good blog name, waiting to bake something particularly yummy, or craft something particularly spectacular, waiting to think of a creative and funny subject to start my blog off... But then I just thought I should just start now. So here I am!

My first post is... Salted Caramel Ice Cream!
Because I got an ice cream maker on Saturday! I got this Snack Heroes one by Sunbeam. Although I'm lactose intolerant, I love, love, love ice cream, so decided to make this delicious treat. And it's summer. 

I'm not sure how other ice cream makers work (this was my first time) but I had to pre-freeze the bowl for at least 20-22 hours before using the machine. I left it in there overnight on Saturday and made this in 30 minutes on Sunday. I had dulce de leche leftover from another baking adventure so I just used that - this method is very easy, but takes an hour and a half to make. I highly recommend making it beforehand (and using it in and on everything - apples, brownies, muffins, pies... even in coffee!) and it keeps in the fridge.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Makes about a litre

For the ice cream:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups thickened cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I use this because I love how you can see the little black vanilla dots in the ice cream!
  1. Put the milk and sugar into a medium bowl and stir until all the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cream and the vanilla, and admire the pretty dots.
  2. Remove you bowl from the freezer and set up the machine, and turn it on. My machine's manual said to turn it on immediately so the little paddle doesn't get frozen to the sides! So make sure to read your maker's instructions. Pour the milk and cream mixture in through the ingredient spout.
  3. Let the machine do its magic! It will slowly thicken, and when it gets to the top of the paddle it's nearly ready. 
  4. Get your dulce de leche out and slowly drop spoonfuls into the ingredient spout, until it's all gone. I wanted my ice cream to have lovely swirls of brown caramel mixed in with the white ice cream, which you can't really see in the photos, but I promise that it looks (and tastes!) divine. If you wanted the flavour to be blended in wholly, you could just put the caramel in right from the start, so just pour it in after you put the initial ice cream mixture into the machine. 
  5. Let the machine keep stirring for about 5 more minutes then you're done! Serve immediately for a lovely soft serve, or pour into a container and put into the freezer for a few hours, which is what I've done here (:

For the salted caramel sauce:
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes
  1. Remove the label from the can.
  2. Pour some water into a pot large enough to cover the can, and bring it to a boil. 
  3. Put the can into the boiling water, making sure it is completely immersed in water.
  4. Boil it for an hour and a half, adding water so the can is always completely covered.
  5. Turn the heat off after that and let the can sit in the water until it is completely cooled. If you're in a hurry you can take it out of the water.
  6. When the can is all cooled, open it and stir in the sea salt. Your dulce de leche is ready! 

I also put some in little containers for cute presents! 

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