Three (or more!) ingredient Nutella Brownies

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I’m pretty skeptical about “three ingredient” anything. Besides, I know I’ll never stick to it. And why would I? Most recipes are improved by the addition of some easy detail. Fresh herbs or a sprinkle of spice. A squeeze of citrus. One of my favourite Aussie food blogs Stonesoup is all about five ingredient recipes. I’ve made a bunch of things on there that have been great, but a lot of time I end up adding three or four more things to the mix. What can I say? I bore easily. I can’t leave well enough alone.

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When I first turned to these Nutella brownies it was mostly out of desperation. I was ill and craving baked goods and there was no sugar in the entire house. None. But there was… chocolate spread. Anyway, I didn’t think it would yield a terribly exciting result, but I went for it anyway.

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I’m glad I did, because actually these are pretty excellent brownies. Soft and gooey and chewy, with that crackling effect on the top that I like so much (which, I suspect has something to do with the eggs). I only made a half batch and they were gone in two days. They were so good I made them again later in the week, so I could photograph and share. Of course my brownies ended up with five ingredients instead of three, but they’re still super simple and suuuuper good. I added hazelnut chocolate to my second batch, but you can add whatever you like.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Nutella
heaped 1/2 cup of plain flour
2 eggs
pinch salt
extras

 

Method:

Combine ingredients! Bake at about 180 degrees for around 20 mins.

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Filed under cookies and biscuits

Mushroom Big Macs

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Some things in life should be messy. Admittedly, most of those things are food-type-things. But one of the most indisputable messy pleasures in the entire spectrum of untidy things that just shouldn’t be messed with are burgers. There’s a reason Rosie of The Londoner refers to the very best she encounters as “filthy”. Aside from the obvious innuendo: a truly good burger is often signified by a trail of sweet burger juices worn down to the elbow.

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But the same is sadly not as true of veggie burgers. I’m not shitting on veggie burgers. I love ‘em and have countless times opted for them over meat, but I don’t know if I could have called any of them “filthy” while summoning the mixture of primal desire and guilty pleasure that Rosie does when encountering an impressive tower of beef. Sure, it’s not exactly the mess that makes the burger good, but when the burger is good and you’re left with a plate swimming in the bloody remains of your enemy/meal it’s all the more satisfying.

IMG_1414Lucky thing is, I don’t think it’s the meat that makes a burger (shhh, I know). It’s all about condiments. Condiments and cheese.

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When I came across Baking = Love’s version of a homemade Big Mac I was intrigued, but didn’t think much of it until eating a not-really-worth-$19 burger the other night. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but I was just a little meh about the whole thing. Poor condiment execution probably. And then, it struck me: what knowing the recipe for special sauce really means is that we are free to make Big Macs to suit our dietary needs/desires! It’s all about the condiments anyway.

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It’s been years since I ate McDonalds and I’ve never eaten it very often. When I was a kid I remember a cousin asking if we were “gonna get Maccas” on the way home and just looking at him blankly, blinking like an imbecile. Er, what you say? Meccers?

I found out years later when a McDonalds actually opened in my home town, but still, aside from those birthday parties back in primary school I’ve never been a very frequent customer. That said, everyone should have the pleasure of a truly trashy, fucking WRECK of a burger, and this, my friends surely is.

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Oh, sure, anybody can get a mushroom to weep into a bun, but this thing has the classic messy burger gratification, plastic cheese for that true junk food feel, and you know what? The thing that makes it taste most like a fast food burger: teeny little pieces of onion. What? What what?

I KNOW

This thing is filthy. It’s sloppy. It’s a beast (to use one of Rosie’s other favourites). But the awesome thing? It’s only metaphorically.

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[My special sauce recipe won't be a close to the original as the one here, because I couldn't get the real american brand ingredients, but it's close, and like I said, the cheese and onion really pull it together in terms of Big Mac taste. You can see the original here.]

Ingredients:

Special Sauce (makes enough for about 4):
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp French dressing
1 tbsp + 2 tsp mustard pickles
1 tbsp finely minced onion
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
pinch salt

Burger:
four large mushrooms
2tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt & pepper
nice round buns ;)
lettuce (I only had baby spinach, but iceberg is probably more authentic)
gherkins, finely sliced
packaged cheese slices
finely minced onion

Do ahead:
Combine ingredients for special sauce. Store in fridge for flavours to develop (you can not do this if you didn’t realise this was a thing). Combine ingredients for mushroom marinade – olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic, salt and pepper, garlic – coat stemmed mushrooms in marinade and let sit for two hours.

Directions:
Put marinated mushrooms on oven tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and top half of them with a slice of cheese each. Return to oven for 30 sec or until cheese is melted. Cut buns into three parts. When mushrooms are done layer ingredients on bun in this order: bottom bun, sauce, lettuce, sprinkle of onion, mushroom, cheese, middle bun, sauce, lettuce, sprinkle of onion, sliced gherkins, mushroom, top bun.

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Pumpkin cake with lime and almonds

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I have been fucking remiss! Doubly so, since despite not blogging for a couple of months now, I have in fact had a recipe photographed and stored up since August. And it’s SUCH a perfect August cake. Not that you can’t eat a delicious citrus-frosted vegan pumpkin cake in spring, just that it’s so much more an autumn/winter thing. Luckily, it’s October – month of the pumpkin! Well, just ignoring the whole Halloween is supposed to be in autumn deal. In any case this cake is still – despite all the flaws of its maker – perfect!

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August is my mum’s birthday and so to commemorate the day my family all came over to my place to crash on the floor for a night and eat cake. Actually, Tom was supposed to be in charge of cake, but I received a text message from him the day before saying he accidentally got day drunk instead.

So proud.

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Actually though, I understand that sometimes you need/want to get day drunk. Sometimes you also have to make emergency cake as a result of someone else’s day drunk. Is cool.

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Anyway, the cake turned out pretty lovely. It’s based on a recipe for pumpkin slice I’ve been using for so many years I’ve forgotten where it came from. The icing I made up myself. The original slice uses just lemons and icing sugar for frosting, but I sincerely believe limes > lemons. For guacamole, for gin, for everything. Pfft, “lemons”.

(Shh. No, Actually I like lemons too, but limes rule so much more)

Anyway, now it’s October (month of pumpkins! – sort of) and since I last blogged I’ve done a huge presentation for uni, participated in a writer’s festival and moved house. And on Halloween it’s my birthday. Which is both horrifying and sweet. So here is a cake that I dare you to not want to eat right now. Along with a promise to be less remiss next time something like this is lurking in my to do list.

IMG_0762IMG_0755 <3 These dorks.

Ingredients:

Cake:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 cups S.R. Flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp salt

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup coconut oil

For on top:
slivered almonds

Combine sugar, pumpkin, oil and vanilla then add remaining ingredients. Cook in moderate oven 1-1.5 hrs OR until middle of cake springs back when touched. Combine coconut oil and icing sugar. Stir until smooth. Then add lime juice. Allow cake to cool. Ice cake. Dry fry almonds or roast in oven. Arrange on top of cake. Eat cake.

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maple bacon and/or espresso dark chocolate doughnuts

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Doughnut worry. Listen to me and everything will be dough-kay. This is nut a drill, but as long as you follow these easy steps we’ll all get out hole.

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Go here. Buy one of these.

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Wait patiently. In the interim check out my mad left-handed egg-cracking skills. If you’re super bored waiting for your doughnut tray maybe you can practise cracking eggs with your less-favoured hand, so one day, like me, you can crack TWO EGGS AT ONCE. I’ll show you that some other time.

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Once you’ve got your tray, you’re ready to make some dough. Nuts.

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When the suckers are in the hot box you have one of two vices to choose from: bacon or coffee. Then either mix up a batch of super smooth and chocolatey glaze:

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Or introduce Mr Maple to Colonel Cream Cheese and Dr Bacon to Mrs Hot Plate:

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When everything is cool put the icing/glaze/bacon on the rings of cakey goodness:

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Admire your handiwork:

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If you’re some kind of super-demon of willpower, brew up a good cup of tea:

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Doughn’t look back:

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For the doughnuts:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Makes six.

For the espresso dark chocolate glaze:
3 tbsp coconut oil
1.5 tbsp agave
4.5 tbsp cacao
1 tbsp freshly brewed espresso

For the maple cream cheese frosting:
1/2 cup spreadable cream cheese
3 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2.5 tbsp icing sugar

For the bacon:
3 rashers of short cut bacon

Directions:
Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Stir together. Oil doughnut tray. Fill doughnut tray. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until spongy on top.

If you are making maple-bacon doughnuts cut bacon into small bits. While the doughnuts are baking add them to a small pan and fry until crunchy – this will take a while. Maybe 20 minutes. If the bacon starts jumping out of the pan turn down the heat.

Take doughnuts out of oven and let cool.

If you are making espresso chocolate doughnuts: melt coconut oil. Then add agave and cacao. Stir. Pour in espresso and stir again. Let sit for a short time. Do not refrigerate.

When the bacon is cooked transfer to plate or bowl and let sit as well.

Dip cooled doughnuts in glaze or ice with knife. Let glaze cool or, if using maple icing, add cooled bacon bits to icing.

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Filed under Bread and yeast, cakes

Maple chilli hot chocolate

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Today I have double the reason to need warming and cheering. Not only has it been cold enough that we’re breathing steam inside gaddayum house over here. Not only has it been cold enough that I have been baking just to get warm. But now, to top it all off, there’s a Red Wedding quantity of blood coming out of me.

Sorry/not sorry. I had to go there. Because this recipe is completely perfect for when your pants look like something from Hannibal. Luckily enough, it’s also great for when you are deep-down-to-your-core cold from sitting still too long, or have just escaped from the torrential downpour outside and put your slippers on. Will Sydney ever stop raining? From the looks of it, probably no.

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To me this is the perfect hot chocolate recipe because you can make the chocolate flavour as strong as you like without it getting too heavy. This recipe also doesn’t have any cane sugar, which makes it (a) better for you (b) easier to dissolve the ingredients (c) more complex in flavour. Win, win, win. Plus there are only three ingredients! The chilli is totally optional anyway – you could add some ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger instead for a less intense variation. And – AND – if you go for cacao powder instead of your regular processed cocoa it’s actually super good for you.

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If you’re fatigued and in need of some serious comfort like me, this’ll pick you up. Or if your hands are purpled and the nerve endings in your nose feel like they’re on death’s door, it’ll sort that out too. Happy no-baby day, everyjerk! Let’s hope, having showed it means business, winter will back off a little.

PS: check out my crochet

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Ingredients:
3 tbsp good quality cocoa or cacao
3 tbsp  hot water
1 ½ tbsp. maple syrup
pinch of ground chilli
milk

Directions:
Combine chilli, cocoa, water and maple in bottom of mug. Stir well. Add the milk of your choice bit by bit, stirring extremely well with the first few additions. Place mug in the microwave and heat in 30 second burst for 1-2 minutes until warm.

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Spanish-spiced split chickpea soup

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I’m in recovery this week. Recovery from last week’s bout of tonsillitis, recovery from various related ailments (hi there, blood test bruising), and recovery from an epic weekend of MURDER. That’s right: last weekend three carloads of my friends road-tripped down to the Southern Highlands to stay in a farmhouse (nay, The Farmhouse), sample some delicious local wines and participate in a murder mystery party.

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It was ridiculous fun. Everyone went all-out with costuming and some of us even went all-out staying in character. I was supposed to be a gossipy French woman married to one of the heir’s to a dukedom – the previous Duke being the murder victim. Turns out, I was also a gold-digging call-girl who unsuccessfully attempted murder with a bowl of poisoned strawberries. (My poisoning skills are about as good as my French accent.)

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Dinner was pretty amazing: three kinds of meat provided by the murder host, seemingly endless bottles of Southern Highlands red, and a whole heap of vegetables prepared by me. Unfortunately I’m not here to share my murder veggies with you (I didn’t really get the chance to photograph them). Instead I’m sharing my recovery food, and surprise, surprise if it isn’t our old friend soup.

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This is the kind of recovery soup that isn’t just about comfort. Not your oh-so-soothing chicken or savoury lentil concoction that you consume at the start of a malady. Nay. This one has a little kick to let you know that, yeah, you’re still a delicate flower, but you also deserve a bit of excitement once in a while.

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I call it “Spanish” because I took inspiration from a vegetarian tapas recipe, but really it’s not of any particular origin. It uses chana dal, which are split chickpeas often used in indian food. These are smaller (obviously) than full chickpeas, so quicker to cook. Also, they are hella delicious. Fortuitously this dish goes down way-too-smooth with a glass of Joadja Cabernet Sangiovese, which Patrick happened to pick up half a case of on our murderous weekend away. The warm berry and chocolate flavours of the wine taste even better with the soft spice of the cumin seeds and the slightly sour tomato and lemon. In lieu of the roaring fire and fur coats that kept us warm all Murder Weekend long, this combination is a pretty appealing way to keep winter at bay.

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Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup chana dal (or yellow split peas if you can’t find them, I guess)
2 onions
2 cups grated pumpkin
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 can  tomato puree
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper

Directions:
Soak chana daal for 4-6 hours. Discard excess water and rinse. Dice onions and sauté on medium to low heat. While those cook dice garlic and grate pumpkin. Add pumpkin, spices and garlic and heat until pumpkin starts turning to mush. Add tomato puree, then fill puree can up with water. Add 4-6 cans of water to pan and let simmer until chickpeas are tender – about half an hour. Add salt and pepper and juice of half a lemon (or to taste). Can be served plain, with a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of cheddar or some other delicious topping. Yoghurt or goat’s cheese, perhaps?  Maybe you’re neither vegetarian nor lazy and you want some chorizo with that? Good idea.

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Filed under soups, vegetarian

Epic four-tiered launch cake

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I’ve been a little off my blogging game over the last couple of months. I put it down to having to juggle writing a thesis with other projects – “other projects” like making a giant fish piñata and cake for the launch of new comedy e-book anthology The Sturgeon General at 107 Projects. Of course I’ve also just been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls and going to Gatsby themed parties at The Victoria Room.

IMG_9648 IMG_9641 But back to the cake, because that’s what we’re all here for. A couple of weeks ago now I went through the process of baking and freezing four tiers of cake in three different flavours, so that on launch day I could ice together a layered monstrosity that had launch guests boggling at its height (not so much girth, it was pretty much regular cake-girth). IMG_9651 The frosting was this one here. Which is a highly unusual recipe using flour and sugar instead of confectioner’s sugar. It is amazing! But, of course I forgot that I no longer have any kind of electronic help in the whisking department and my icing turned out a lot less fluffy and white than I dreamed. It was tasty, and held together the cake component competently, but if you are going to make it try to remember to own some kind of electric mixy thing. Sometimes I am just so fucking hopeless at life/cooking/not being hungover when there are things to get done. Speaking of: the night was sponsored by Raidis Estate, who make pretty darn-tootin’ tasty wines. I’ll have to get my hands on some more for future cooking adventures. IMG_9330 The whole thing was pretty simple in the end – despite having to bake three cakes. I made a rose tea flavoured cake first up, using a cup of cooled rose tea for liquid. Then I whipped up an orange, almond and ginger cake, using almond meal, orange juice + zest and ground ginger; and finally I made a double batch of vanilla cake. IMG_9307 The decorations were also made by hand. While I was painting the sturgeon piñata I also painted both sides of a sheet of paper in the same orange. I then cut out little fish from the paper and glued them to the end of skewers using a square of the same paper as backing. After icing I arranged them with some silver cachous on top of the cake and VIOLA! You have my permission to pronounce this VIE-OH-LAH in your head (or aloud) IMG_9633 Anyway, the launch was super fun: the readers were all fucking hilarious and entertaining (which is so, so rare at any reading), the warm-up act was a blast, the piñata (eventually) got beaten to bits and most of the stupidly large cake was devoured. Good effort kids. You can buy the Sturgeon General on e-reader here. There are five collections from five authors who are all funny assholes deserving of your time. IMG_9509

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Rose tea cake:
1 cup butter
2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup rose flavoured black tea, steeped and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence

Orange almond cake:
1 cup butter
2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
2 cups plain flour
¾ cup almond meal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup orange juice
zest 1 orange
2 tsp ground ginger

Vanilla cake (double if you want four tiers):
1 cup butter
2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla essence

Directions (same for all):
Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one by one. Gradually add dry ingredients. Finally stir in wet ingredients. Bake at 160 degrees until cake is brown on top and doesn’t wiggle on top/ bounces back when touched. Depending on the cake/your oven this could take between 45min to 2 hours – more if you’re doing a double batch.

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