Chocolate Fudge Cake

This past weekend was one of those weekends that are just a little bit too crazy. Adrian was organising a Regional Youth Rally at Church and with a friday night program the evening before we didn’t end up getting into bed until 2am Saturday morning. The rally was fantastic but needless to say I wasn’t surprised to find Adrian dead to the world when I called him to lunch at about 2pm that afternoon!

IMG_4684

It’s weekends like these that require some very necessary self medication in the form of sugar and chocolate. What better way to give a much needed boost to my worn out Pastor husband than a delicious fudgey chocolate cake and this fudgey chocolate cake is unapolagetically opulent. Its a very simple recipe and within the hour our serotonin levels had peaked with the sugary goodness. What better way to relax on a Sabbath afternoon then with a steaming hot cuppa and deliciously decadent choccy cake.

The best part is enjoying the leftovers now with a nice little cup of tea.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
(adapted from Women’s Weekly Classic Cakes)

Ingredients:
250g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
100g Plain Flour
2/3 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 and line a lamington tin (20x30cm) with baking paper.
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
3. Combine chocolate mixture in remaining ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium until smooth and changed colour.
4. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to stand for 5.

Just what you need on a cool winters arvo…

Silverbeet & Ricotta Ravioli & Rolls

As a kid my mum used to grow enormous amounts of Silverbeet during the winter time… I hated Silverbeet with a passion, it seemed like the colder it got, the wilder it grew and the more we would eat…

20120627-204206.jpg

As the weather gets cooler so the Silverbeet gets cheaper and I live to eat in season because seasonal eating means cheap eats! So i decided to give Silverbeet a second chance and I’m glad i did! Must be a little older and wiser… I love the way that Silverbeet has a meatier texture than spinach… It carries a bit more bite through the cooking process and bring out a deeper flavour if seasoned well… So I decided to mix it with some ricotta and give it a burl as a ravioli filling…

20120627-203826.jpg

Take two big bunches of Silverbeet and trim out the white stalky bit… Wash it thoroughly, slice it thinly then toss in a pan with a finely diced onion, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a good slosh of oil… Season with salt and pepper to taste and a little nutmeg… Silverbeet is cooked when it is wilted but still bright in colour… Drain the excess water, pressing down to ensure the Silverbeet is quite dry…

20120627-204118.jpg

Stir it through 300g of full milk ricotta… because I saved so much on the Silverbeet I was able to splurge a little on some beautiful ricotta… Give it a taste and season if needed… Be careful not to eat too much… For a quick and easy ravioli I used egg wonton wrappers… Fill them quite full… About 1 heaped tbsp… Then fold diagonally, sealing with a little water , and pull the corners together at the front sealing with a little extra water…

20120627-204518.jpg

I served it with a bottle sauce cause I was a bit strapped for time but anything rich and tomatoey would be delicious! The verdict… I don’t rate the wonton wrappers.. They went a little thin and sloppy for my liking but good if you’re strapped for time!

20120627-204755.jpg

The two bunches of Silverbeet make a load of filling for just two serves of ravioli so I added some grated cheddar to the mix and rolled them up in some of that beautiful careme full butter puff pastry… *drool* and I must say they were delicious! We had some for dinner last night and froze the rest… Can’t wait to pop those babies in the oven!

20120627-205218.jpg

Happy Baking!

One week in the middle of nowhere…

Take 40 people, 2 buses, a dusty outback town, a single shower, and a mesh of ideas and personalities, get them to eat together, sleep together and share each others lives for 7 days while they minister to a restless group of kids and teenagers and you create a life changing experience… looking over my dashboard I’ve realised it’s been an awful long time since I’ve blogged… and I am a bad blogger but the situation will be rectified once I can get over the fact that I do not have to work constantly and that yes I can take time to do things I enjoy and not feel guilty because I am not useful to God or Church if I am totally burnt out… hence as of today blogging MUST become a task on my to-do list and as a result, baking also… good.. settled…

So, to my week in the middle of nowhere… Now I’m not the most super energetic outgoing and ferociously social of gals but my week at StormCo in Nyngan forced me to step far outside the bounds of what I find comfortable and add a couple of kms and then maybe just maybe you’ll understand how far out of my comfort zone it was… but outside the comfort zone lies character development and a sense of accomplishment and lifetime memories that will change you from the inside out… My week in Nyngan serving the kids through a kids club, through deep and meaningfuls, through games and laughter and general hanging out did more for me than them… selfish I know but it was an unavoidable by-product of service to others… we all come back different people… so to the baking… luckily there was a way that I could contribute to StormCo that was completely within my comfort boundaries and that was through… baking… YES! I was very delighted to learn that before every StormCo trip there is a fundraiser and this so happened to be a cake auction… recently I’d purchased some cupcake books, you may have heard of them “Hello Cupcake” and “What’s New Cupcake?” I think I talked about them in a recent blog… well maybe not so recent considering my slackness.. anyway they have a super fun and intriguing subway sandwhich cupcake that I just couldn’t pass…

Super easy and super impressive, most of the ingredients are starburst lollies rolled out with a rolling pin and cut into various shapes imitating the ingredients of a subway sandwhich… the lettuce was most impressing to me… some thin green icing tossed through a bowl of cornflakes stuck in the freezer for a few minutes and voila! lettuce! add half a hotdog roll brushed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds and you have yourself a not so healthy (but oh so eye candy) cupcake delight!

I am indebted to my new friend Johnno for these fantastic shots that were far better than anything that I could muster or edit… check out his blog here!

I hope I inspired to not only bake but serve!

Fancy pants getaway take 2…

I know… I know… I was meant to include the second half of our mid-week getaway over a week ago but I tell ya I got super busy last week… no nights at home 😦 but I guess that’s the nature of the job I love… SO.. Where was I? Oooh yes! The High Tea! Absolutely delightful, I think being in a super vintage and massive winged chair in an old style Hotel Lobby while reading Jane Austen made it much more of an experience… not to mention the dainty cakes and the SILVER service… ie. being waited on hand and foot by a white and black professionally clad waitress…

Not to mention the dainty little cakes and sandwhiches…

It was a well earned treat considering all the hard work we’d been doing lazy by the pool all morning with these delicious hunks of smoothie love…

The next day we did the token touristy site seeing… traveled around the magnificent Blue Mountains… across a startlingly deep gorge and down a frighteningly steep mountainside in a dodgy looking train contraption… This was… of course… followed by a relaxing massage and a final stop at our favourite little cafe for a pistachio biscotti and a dark chocolate and pistachio brownie…

Bliss…

Mid-week Fancy Pants Getaway…

There are certain times in ones life when… regardless of the financial situation.. a splurge is absolutely necessary… Last week just happened to be one such time… what better excuse to spend a lot of money and have a lot of fun than your very first wedding anniversary! Wow… typing it makes it feel so much more real… I’ve only been married for a year! It feels like a life time… not in a a bad way of course…

I think you just get so comfortable together that it can feel like you’ve been married for ever… it’s nice… so that is my excuse for not having a specifically food related blog this week… though we did eat some FANTASTIC food… the first evening Adrian took me to Darley’s Restaurant… the two hat restaurant that is a part of the whole Lilianfels area where we stayed in the Blue Mountains… and I tell you… it was magical… unfortunately I’m a little to shy to prance into a fancy restaurant with a big beefy camera and flash snaps of everything but if you’re super keen google the restaurant and you will understand the quality of the food… the next morning we found a quirky little cafe in the main st of Katoomba…

You know I struggle to remember the name of the cafe but I remember we chose it because they had fair trade coffee… aren’t we just so trendy and eco friendly? I think it also helped that they had a delicious breakfast menu… one of which was a “couples” brung… which seemed fitting considering the occassion… this my friends was possibly… dare I say it… the BEST brunch I have EVER eaten… Now, just a little background information… if you know me, you will know that I am quite a fan of the meal called breakfast (just a note: there is no such thing as brunch, its a crock, breakfast can and should be eaten at any time of the day!) so i have had my fair share of breakfasts… be it 8am or 8pm I am always willing to scoff a delicious breakfast and I tell you this was delicious… bircher muesli with stewed rhubarb, scrambled eggs, roasted tomato, mushrooms, pancakes with banana, grilled sourdough with ricotta and a berry compote… I am salivating just typing about it… but breakfast aside there was another highlight to the mid-week getaway…

any guesses? isn’t it lovely… I hope I have piqued your interest because you will have to wait till tomorrow for the rest of our adventure…

better add the token tourist photo…

Happy Splurging!

Peachy Keen…

I absolutely adore stone fruits… but I find it extremely difficult to cook with them… not that there is anything particular difficult or challenging about cooking with a stone fruit… I just get very sad at seeing them baked away to a miserable, sticky slop like peach cobbler or crumble or something else that involves these beautifully sweet, rotund and slightly furry gems being “wasted” in a stinkin hot oven that leaves them a slightly bitter and slushy, peach reminiscent mush… sound overly dramatic.. well I am overtly serious!

My stone fruit philosophy is that a knife a plate and a room temperature yet slightly firm fruit is all that is necessary to truly enjoy this God given delicacy… yet at this time of year they are so incredible cheap that I overpurchased… ie. my eyes were bigger than my belly… and I found that some of my precious little darlings were becoming drab balls of mush… I had no choice… they had to be baked… luckily Donna Hay had the answer… Peachy Lemony Cake… sounds terrible dull and boring doesn’t it?

Well, let me tell you a thing or two.. this cake is anything but dull and boring… try light, sweet, tangy, fluffy, moist, drool-worthy… all these adjectives combined and topped with glimmers of oven dried peach…. aaahhhh gently warmed to the point of concentrated perfection… and the lemon adds an extra depth that encourages every bite… I was flawed to say the least… and it came at a welcome time! Unfortunately, shifting house and starting a new job leave little time for baking…but a passion cannot remain dormant long…

The best part? It’s an absolute breeze to make.. throw it all in the KitchenAid then just an hour in the oven while you take a much deserved bubble path… simple… but then I believe that it’s the simple things in life that a truly the best… the God given things.. like perfectly ripe peaches… a long hot bath.. or a cuddle from a love one… all reminiscent of a God that created all things and wants us to enjoy the life that He has given and the world He created…

Happy Baking

Lemony Peach Cake
Adapted from: Donna Hay’s Seasons Cookbook
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
175g butter
1/4 cup castor sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
3 eggs
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup natural yoghurt
2 fresh peaches, sliced

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Place butter, sugar and lemon rind into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes (very important to beat for the full time).
2. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
3. Add the flour, baking powder and yoghurt, beating until just combined. Spoon into a lined and lightly greased 25cm round cake tin.
4. Top with the peaches and bake for 1hr or until a skewer comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar and leave to cool in tin for 10 mins.

Tea and Chocolate…

I had the most wonderful Sunday afternoon outing today… I don’t often get the chance for Sunday outings and though the time may have been better spent contributing to my current thesis word count, I felt the Sunday outing was an unavoidable opportunity just the same… Generally, I don’t make a habit of looking up the what’s on sections of touristy websites…

I like to think I have a general idea or am in the ‘loop’ enough to know what’s going on… But it just so happened that I stumbled across a museum exhibit! Very exciting… I can’t remember the last time I went to a museum! Also very exciting was the admission price (or lack there of)… Being a student you take all the free entertainment you can get.. And it was a TEA exhibit! Yes that’s right! The history of tea and of all the daily meals… I learnt a lot!

In the 1800s dinner was at 10pm and afternoon tea was invented to stave off the hunger pains… Green tea was the original tea of choice in Britain (here o was thinking it was very modern and chic to drink green tea) and though an afternoon tea usually ran for 3 or 4 hours it was generally good manners to stay between 15mins and up to an hour…

After all that learning I was genuinely needing something to contribute to the sugar levels…

Something sweet and delightful…

So Adrian and I endeavoured to find a cafe or patisserie that was actually open on a Sunday afternoon… Quite a challenge in Adelaide…

Enter the Chocolate Bean Cafe! Aaaah bliss! Pokey, sweet, warm and brown are the best words to describe it… Oversized Tea and coffee and chocolate bliss… We indulged with milk and white chocolate shots, chocolate mousse and chocolate cake… And my favourite thing about this place? Vegan friendly 😀

Praise God for the simple pleasures in life…

My dream… God willing…

Ministry and Cooking are my two greatest passions…. you may have read the about section of this blog and understand that I’m attempting to merge the two… It has been a dream of mine for some time now to make a Ministry out of Cooking and I wanted to share this dream with you… I was stumbling around some wordpress blogs the other day and found a post that is a good example of what I wanna do in the future… at some point in my life… if it’s in Gods plan.. I’d love to open a Church Cafe… It’s an interesting concept… The cafe wouldn’t actually be a church but would operate out of a church building.. or vice versa.. basically a cafe in a high traffic area that closes on Sabbaths for Church, has community programs during the week and evenings and is a place for Bible studies and small groups to operate… all the while still running as a secular cafe during the day… a cafe where mums come after dropping the kids of at school… business men and women come to grab a foccacia for lunch… grandmas and grandpas come in the afternoons for a cup of tea… and kids come after school for milk shakes.. a cafe that is a community as well… that builds a relationship with the customers and provides services and programs at the cafe to meet their needs… a place where people feel comfortable to come to their local cafe for church.. obviously it’s a work in progress.. but this is my dream!

Would you come to my cafe?

Brunchtime!

Nothing says Sunday morning in the Pastor Peterson household better than a nice greasy fry up… possibly the only reason to get out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning…

For some reason (lucky me) the men in my life have taken it upon themselves to become artisans of the Sunday brunch.. My father has managed to hone this skill into a well oiled Sunday brunch machine… single handedly (not joking) poaching eggs, brewing coffees, frying spinach, sauteing mushrooms, roasting tomatoes and toasting crusty bread, coordinating each element with the finest precision.. producing quite a tasty bunch of brunch..

But… now that I have my own little house with my own little kitchen… I started to miss my well oiled brunch making machine… Luckily, my daring husband took up the reigns and decided that he would carry on this brunchy tradition…

Just cleaning up the plate there... what a stud.

AND he did this knowing full well he was up against some tough competition! (what can I say, my Dad makes a mean brunch). He has this incredible ability to make these yummy slices of fried potatoes that are so crisp and soft and potatoey and delicious! So I thought I’d share with you a little family tradition that has become my favourite meal of the week… nothing like brunch with the boys you love!

Isn’t food such a fun way to make traditions? Do you have any food traditions? I’d love to hear them!

Happy Brunching!

The Dairy-Free Dinner Party That Was

Just over two weeks ago a friend and myself decided to throw a small dinner party a.k.a gastronomical feast, for our friends. There was however, one tinsy tiny teeny little catch… My friend is dairy intolerant… poor thing… so this three course extravaganza needed to be completely and utterly dairy-free down to the tiniest last morsel or my friend (who shall remain nameless) would have an upset…. digestive system… to put it nicely… So what do you serve at a dairy free dinner party? Good question… we decided to stick to recipes that were ‘naturally’ dairy-free, that is they didn’t contain any dairy substitutes… which proved even more difficult and quite unavoidable, especially when it came to dessert… aaaahhh dessert… now that was an interesting story…

Finishing touches ready for our guests...

A few posts back Bakerella had made these dainty little.. oh so simple… chocolate dessert cups which looked adorable and would be the perfect little holsters for our delicate and dairy-free poached pears… The concept was profound really… you take a whole lot of water balloons and blow them up, dip them in melted chocolate (the very dark 85% stuff with as little dairy as possible), let them cool and then “simply” pop the water balloons and ta-dah a dainty little chocolate cup that just screams stuff me with a poached pear and call me a delightful dairy -free dessert…

So of we went, blowing up our tiny little water balloons and melting our very expensive, good quality chocolate… getting ourselves all set to make our dainty little cups…. maybe we were just too eager or just a little giddy over the cuteness of these little chocolate sweeties… either way neither of us were thinking straight… you see instead of reading the instructions on the Bakerella site we just looked at the pictures (as all good cooks do…) and failed to see the very important step of letting the chocolate cool before popping our teeny little balloons into the chocolate…

…my husband tells me that for some strange and stupid reason, unbeknownst to me… when you take a little ball of air and pop it in some hot melted chocolate… the air expands and our teeny tiny little balloons explode and shower melted chocolate all over the kitchen… all over us.. a heavily cherished John Mayer t-shirt (had to put that one in)… the floor… the walls.. the oven.. the cupboards and even more hilarious… our faces…

Needless to say it was a disaster… you would think then we would step back… have a little think… maybe go back to the website and read the instructions… but no.. “hmmm” we though to ourselves, “I wonder why it did that” (between fits of giggles) “maybe we should try another one?” (let me just add a little side note: at this stage we had already thoroughly cleaned the kitchen of all remnants of chocolate as well as the John Mayer t-shirt)..

..so as the baking pioneers that we were, undefeated we attempted to smother another little balloon in chocolate… this one made it to the baking tray! Success!

Or so we thought…. an explosion of chocolate and yet again my kitchen… face… entire body.. walls, floor, cupboards… and the John Mayer t-shirt… were smothered in itty bitty splashes of very expensive dark chocolate…. this time we didn’t clean up… 6 more explosions later we decided to give it a rest and get on with the rest of the food prep….

It wasn’t until husband came home about 1hr before dinner party begins and suggests maybe.. just maybe.. the water balloons were meant to be filled with water… not air.. and continued to melt the rest of the chocolate and managed to muster up some dainty little chocolate cups for our dinner party (how he got the water out of those balloons and all over the kitchen floor is another story)..

To this day I am still encountering tiny little flecks of chocolate all over my kitchen…

RECIPES:

For starters we got some packet mini crostini bread things…. from the supermarket and topped them with a little tofutti cream cheese (a tasty little tofu based cream cheese), sliced tomato and a basil leaf.. they went down a treat.

Our first course was a roasted red onion tart with a little rocket salad on top… The pastry was just a simple shortcrust pastry substituting the butter with some nuttelex (another nut based spread)… I found the pastry came out a little grainy and flakey.. not sure what went wrong but I’d recommend the butter next time. The onions we roasted with a little oil and some salt and rosemary and leave them for longer than you think so they are nice and caramelised. We popped them in the tart cases and tossed a little rocket with balsamic and oil and piled it on top… for the dairy eaters a bit of shaved parmesan finished it off nicely…

The pasta was a bit of an experiment.. we roasted a little pumpkin and mashed in some salt, goats cheese, and cooked spinach until the flavour and consistency was good..

Pasta is simple… 6 people = 6 eggs + 600g flour… stir it up with your fingers till you have a nice smooth dough and let it rest…

…put through a pasta machine till nice and thin, then shape into ravioli… fill them nice and full and don’t let any air in… if you’re interested I’ll do a longer post on the delightfulness that is fresh pasta making!

We cheated and put a bottle sauce.. but we tossed through a few cherry tomatoes before spooning it over the pasta…

Finally for the pears.. we made a sugar syrup and through in a few cinnamon quills, orange juice and vanilla extract.. we peeled and pulled the core out of the base of the pear and I think they were poaching for about 2 hrs… really yummy! I think next time I might try to do them in a grape juice to get that nice burgundy colour…

Things I Learnt:

– If you heat up air it expands… and if that air is inside a tiny little water balloon.. it pops.

– Dairy free pastry is not impossible… though I wouldn’t recommend it.

– Goats cheese is dairy free and not as goaty as one might think :D..

– There is nothing better than fresh pasta made and shared with friends… and dairy free..

– Baking is for sharing and sharing creates memories…

Bake, share, love.