Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter chick crackers, salt dough easter eggs, and an egg hunt

It has been a fun Easter.  We have made chocolate easter egg nests, painted salt dough eggs, baked (and eaten) lots of sourdough hot cross buns, made easter chick crackers for a lunch and had a fun colour coded egg hunt.  Having a 5 year old about is fun.  Sylvia has been very excited about the Easter bunny and eager to go to church to hear stories about Jesus.  So here is a rundown.

On Good Friday, we stayed at home and kept ourselves busy.  Too many hot cross buns were eaten.  At lunchtime I decided to make a light lunch of crackers and cheese.  For a few years I have admired some cute cheese and cracker chicks.  Finally I made them myself.

The chicks were made of garlic crackers, cheddar cheese, black sesame seed eyes and carrots for beaks, feet and hair.  They were easy and yummy.  We also snacked on some smoked almonds so I had fun making them into a nest.

We enjoy chocolate Easter eggs but I love some alternatives, especially when home made.  I decided it would be fun to make salt dough egg cut outs with Sylvia.  I didn't have an egg shaped cutter but we found a cap off a doll's baby drinking cup that seemed about the right shape.  We had also thought about doing flowers.  Any shape would do, especially at other times of year.

Despite following a recipe, the eggs were a little puffy and soft when they came out of the oven.  Not unusual for my oven to be slower than others.  We managed to paint one side of the eggs before Sylvia went to bed.  I painted the other side while she was refusing to sleep.

We took the salt dough eggs to my parents' place when we went there for Easter.  They have a little seasonal tree on the sideboard.  My mum had also made some dough eggs with my nieces.  They had rolled out a dough of flour and water and made decorations on them by colouring some leftover dough and sticking it on the eggs before baking.  All the eggs were strung from the tree and made a very striking centrepiece on the table on Easter Sunday.  And we gave some with Easter eggs to Sylvia's cousins.

As always we ate well when at my parents' house.  On Saturday we had burgers for dinner before going to mass.  Everyone else had meat burgers but my mum grilled some saganaki for me.  It was so good with the charred edges in toasted buns with fried red capsicum. lettuce, onions, tomato and sauce.  Reminded me of the ones we had when I was a child.  Or perhaps it tasted so good after an afternoon swim in Geelong.

I also took along a golden beetroot nut roast for the roast dinner on Sunday.  Plus some chocolate cake (that I will write about later.)  I loved the Toblerone cheesecake my mum made for dessert on Sunday.  And there were hot cross buns galore.

Sylvia had made a special basket for Easter bunny to put eggs into.  She was also very excited about an Easter egg hunt.  I had seen an easter egg hunt with colour coordinated easter eggs.   My dad organises the easter egg hunt and embraced the idea of each child collecting a different colour.  Below you can see his colour chart.

The egg hunt was great fun.  My dad had done a great job of hiding the eggs.  Almost too good, in some cases.  Colour coding the eggs meant there wasn't the mad scramble to be the kid to find the most and there was some interesting cooperation between the kids.  The only drawback was having an extra child unexpectedly turning up.  Fortunately one of the toddlers hadn't turned up yet and never missed it.

Above is another sneak peak of my chocolate cake and just some of the Easter eggs lined up.  E gave me a Koko Black easter egg.  He said he had to queue for it.  Having sampled it tonight, I can understand why you might queue for it.  The chocolate was far superior to many Easter eggs I have tasted.  And that is just the way I want my Easter to end.  With some great chocolate.

I am sending the Easter chick crackers to Louisa from Eat Your Veg for the Family Foodies event which focuses on Healthy Snacks in April. It is hosted on alternate months with Vanesther from Bangers and Mash.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WSC Chocolate Chip and Honey Scones
Two years ago: Zucchini Layer Cake plus random thoughts
Three years ago: Marzipan choc chip cookies
Four years ago: Curried Paneer and Birthday Cheer
Five years ago: Easter Nut Roast and Feasting
Six years ago: NCR Moody Mushroom Stew

Salt Dough Easter Eggs
From Design Mom

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
egg shaped cutter
chopstick
paint
string

Mix flour, salt and water.  Knead briefly until you have a smooth dough.  (It was slightly tacky but didn't really need extra flour).  Roll dough out on baking paper to about 0.5cm thick.  (I am not sure this is essential but it keeps the work surface clean.)  Cut out egg shapes (I used one of Sylvia's toys because we don't have cutters).  Transfer to lined baking tray.

Use a chopstick to poke holes towards the top of the eggs.  Bake at 120 C for 2 hours.  (Mine were not quite done after this so - some had some softness still but I didn't have the time to leave it longer.)  Cool the eggs.

Paint eggs on one side, let dry, turn over over paint other side.  When both sides are dry, threat a piece of string through each egg and tie a knot.

On the Stereo:
Blonde on Blonde: Bob Dylan

Friday, 18 April 2014

Sourdough hot cross buns, playdough and some firsts

Another Good Friday.  Another batch of hot cross buns (HCBs).  I have been making them every year since I started this blog.  I don't get too excited by Easter eggs but I could live on hot cross buns.  All year round.  Homemade of course.  This year I have been excited to be able to use my sourdough starter.  The HCBs take longer but they taste A-Maz-Ing!

I have made two batches of hot cross buns this year.  I haven't actually followed a sourdough bread recipe since making my starter mid-last year.  I can't get my head around them.  Intuition is so much easier.  So I was wary about finding a sourdough hot cross bun recipe.  I thought I needed a practice run in case it all went terribly wrong.


I turned to my sourdough guru, Brydie at City Hippy Farm Girl, and then swapped notes with my mum who is into Dan Lepard right now.  I added my usual HCB crosses and glaze.  By the time I had noted what I had done the first time, I felt I could claim the recipe as my own. 

The first batch was started at 9am and out of the oven at about 7pm.  I was very pleased with it.  My mum tasted the HCBs and declared them to be the best I had ever made.  I agree.  They were soft and fluffy, spicy with sweet sticky chewy crosses. 

The second batch was made last night in readiness for Good Friday.  I started at 4pm, left them for 4 hours before the fold and stretch, left them in the fridge overnight, and finally had them ready to eat at midday.  The dough was so soft that it seemed almost cake-like rather than that tough dough that I usually bash about.  It also didn't seem to rise as much as usual.  I guess it is weighed down by butter and egg.

I have a feeling they would be ok at room temperature overnight (based on a tester bun and previous sourdough breads) but would need to check to be certain.  I also believe that this recipe could be veganised easily with a chia seed egg and non-dairy milk and margarine.  (This is based on making a vegan version of my favourite recipe.)  I was able to confirm that it is best to line the tin with baking paper to stop them sticking.

There is much that is counter-intuitive in this recipe.  Making crosses without any sugar seems wrong but they are just lovely once covered in sticky glaze.  The glaze seems too much for the buns but if you keep brushing it on, you will use it all.

Sourdough baking is so forgiving of a ride to the park or a favourite television show (Janet King).  However this recipe does need a bit of attention at the start.  It is worth it.  The results were every bit as good as the first batch.

Sylvia loves the thick chewy sticky crosses.  She rips off the crosses and leaves the buns.  Which does not make me happy.  I love the crosses too.  At least she is as excited by HCBs as I am and had eaten some of the buns.  Hot cross buns have always been a part of my Good Friday.  It is usually a quiet day at home for us.  There is something solemn about the day that prohibits going out and having fun.

Instead we stayed home and had fun.  In a quiet way.  Once the hot cross buns were made, we made salt dough easter eggs and playdough.  We read Hurrah for the Circus by Enid Blyton.  I made Easter chick crackers.  We even discovered camelia flowers in the garden.  Then Sylvia started to turn over the tub of mint to find worms.  My favourite comment of the day was when she said to me, "You go in and clean up the playdough.  I will look at worms."

In fact, Sylvia has had quite a few firsts lately.  It makes me feel like she is growing up quickly.  I guess school does that to a child.  Here is a list of recent firsts:
  • being on school holidays
  • swimming without a flotation aid and keeping her head about water
  • riding her (new) bike with me riding alongside
  • going to the cinema with a group of friends
  • searching for worms in the garden by herself
  • reading Where is the Green Sheep by herself (almost).
  • making salt dough shapes

Sylvia also believes that Hot Cross Buns are square.  Perhaps it is because I like to make them snuggled together with a cross that joins them together.  I know my HCBs aren't as round and pretty as some but I am very partial to these rustic buns.

I am sending these hot cross buns to Susan for YeastSpotting, the regular round up of all things yeasty online.

Previous Hot Cross Buns on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
Original recipe by Green Gourmet Giraffe, inspired by City Hippy Farm Girl and Dan Lepard 
Makes 16 to 20 buns

Buns:
400g starter (100% hydration)
550g unbleached flour
275g mixed fruit
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
50g sugar
250ml milk (I used soy milk)
100g butter, room temperature (I used margarine)
1 egg
2 tsp salt

Crosses:
1 cup  plain flour
1/2 to 1 cup water

Glaze:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cupcastor sugar
1 tsp mixed spice

Mix all the buns ingredients except the salt.  Cover and rest for 30 minutes.  Mix in the salt - the dough will be quite stiff.  Cover and stand another 30 minutes to 2 hours.


Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 15 seconds and stand covered for 10 minutes.  Knead for 15 seconds and rest 10 minutes.  Knead for 15 seconds and rest for 1 to 4 hours.  (Use a floured board if required.  If the dough comes together nicely you could add a little oil to the board.)

Stretch and fold (or knead for 15 seconds).  Cover and leave for 1 to 2 hours.  Tip the dough onto a lightly floured (or oiled) board and cut into 16 to 20 balls with a sharp knife.  (When I tried 15 buns they were a little big.)  Roll each piece into balls and place in a lined 13 x 9 inch baking tray.


Cover and set aside to rise for 1 to 3 hours until risen.  At this point you can leave them in the fridge overnight.  I think you could also leave them at room temperature but need more experimenting on this.  If you leave them overnight you will need an hour or two for them to come to room temperature the next morning.


About half an hour before you are ready to bake the buns, preheat the oven to 220 C.  When the buns are ready to go into the oven make the crosses by mixing flour and water into a thick paste.  I used about 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water but it changes every time.  I like a thick cross so if you want neat thin ones you may need less flour and water than me.

To pipe the crosses I spoon the mixture into a ziplock bag, seal it and snip a tiny corner.  Then I pipe lengthways and then crossways over all the buns. 

Bake bun for 20-40 minutes (Brydie at City Hippy Farm Girl said 20-25 minutes.  I did 40 for my first batch but did just shy of this for the second batch and it could have been in a little less.  My oven is slower than most.)  They are ready when golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  They will look quite dull until glazed.


About 5 minutes before the buns are ready to come out of the oven, mix all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes without stirring.  When the buns are out of the oven, turn onto a wire rack with the crosses facing upwards.  Place an old teatowel either on the rack before placing the buns or on the surface under the rack.  It will get messy with the glaze.

Brush glaze over the buns.  It seems like too much but just keep brushing over and over until all the glaze is used up.  (Do not just tip over the buns - it will just pool under the buns.)  Wait at least an hour before eating - if you can wait that long.  Reheat for 10 - 15 minutes at 180 C (I find I do 15 minutes but my oven is not over powerful).

On the Stereo:
Love: The Beatles

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Easter chocolate egg nests - two ways

Last week at the swimming pool, a little girl befriended Sylvia and me.  She started to tell us how much she loved egg wraps.  When I said I didn't like eggs she was astonished.  Sylvia however likes to joke that my favourite eggs are Easter eggs.  I guess she is right.  The novelty amuses me.  Yet commercial Easter eggs are not always the best quality and I quite like my chocolate other ways.  Like in a nest.  With Easter eggs.

Yes, it is starting to feel a lot like Easter around here.  Sylvia is beside herself with excitement as only a 5 year old can be.  I bought the M and Ms speckled eggs.  They were opened in an untimely way but were not long for this world anyway.  I quite liked the crunchy centres.  The Cadbury mini eggs were bought a day later.  I was relieved to find they were gluten free so I could use them for some nests for my celiac niece.  But the solid chocolate centres were less pleasing than the M and Ms.

Chocolate Easter egg nests seems quite a common Easter recipe.  It was my first time making them.  I decided to try them two ways.

One was a BBC recipe using cornflakes.  After making them I realised this is actually a recipe with which British children are very familiar.  E said he had them without eggs when he was little.  I think they are similar to Australia's chocolate crackles.  The chocolate coating was quite soft and took some time in the fridge to set.  Even so they were quite fragile

The  other recipe used coconut.  I only had white choc chips and a block of 70% chocolate.  White chocolate seemed too sweet for anyone and dark chocolate seemed too bitter for children.  (But any sort of chocolate could be used.)  These ones set quickly and were quite hard.  They reminded me of coconut roughs.  Which is a very good thing.

These nests were easy to make and even easier to eat.  They are great to make with young children.  Sylvia was able to help counting out eggs, stirring the mixture and arranging the eggs in the nests.

Both versions could be made without the eggs at any time of year.  The cornflake ones would be best in a cupcake paper (to stop them falling apart) and I would make the coconut chocolate into small balls if you didn't them it big enough to hold an egg or three.  In fact, you could even make them smaller nests with just one egg.

These nests are great for sharing.  The day after making them we had a busy day that was fuelled by nests.  Sylvia took some down to my parents to share with her cousins (and grandparents).  E and I went to see Le Week-end at the movies and had some coconut nests after our dinner at the fish and chip shop.  (I had a burger.)  Earlier in the day Sylvia and some school friends went to see Shrek at the movies and we took the leftover easter eggs along, which the kids loved!

I can see these being repeated in Easters to come.  Maybe we will experiment with them further.  Crispy noodles, muesli and shredded wheat are other ideas.  I have also seen them made with butterscotch chips or chopped honeycomb.  And I particularly love the sound of these coconut macaroon nutella nests.  The possibilities are endless.  And delicious.

I am sending these Easter nests to Rachel Coterill for We Should Cocoa, with the theme of Easter this month.  Stuart at Cakey Boi  has chosen Spring into Easter for Treat Petite and Catherine of Cate's Cates has Easter Inspirations for this month.

Previous easter recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Easter eggs with lime cheesecake filling (gf, v)
Easter egg pizza
Hot Cross Buns
Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns (v)

And a few other GGG ideas for filled chocolates:
Chocolates with almond butter filling (gf, v)
Chocolates with healthy caramel filling (gf, v)
Chocolates with healthy peppermint filling (gf, v)
Chocolates with peppermint filling (gf, v)
Orange and sweet potato filled chocolates (gf, v) 

Chocolate Easter Egg Nests (with coconut)
Adapted from Serious Eats
Makes 10-12

100g 70% dark chocolate, broken up
120g white choc chips (or other choc chips)
1 1/3 cups dessicated coconut
packet of mini chocolate eggs 

Melt chocolate and choc chips in the microwave or on stovetop.  Stir in coconut.  Place spoonfuls of mixture on a lined baking sheet.  Press three mini eggs into the middle of each nest.  Allow to set at room temperature.  (This didn't take took long - perhaps an hour!)  Keep in an airtight container.

Chocolate Easter Egg Nests (with cornflakes)
From BBC Food
Makes 12

225g/8oz dark chocolate choc chips
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g/2oz butter (or margarine)
75g/3oz cornflakes
36 mini chocolate eggs (approximately)

Melt chocolate, golden syrup and butter together in microwave or on stovetop.  Mix in cornflakes until well covered.  Spoon a heap onto a lined baking tray and press three eggs into the middle.  Set in the fridge for an hour or two.  Keep in an airtight container at room temperature.

On the Stereo:
The Best of Blur

Monday, 14 April 2014

NCR Pumpkin, bean and apple soup for a protest

A market, a party, another market and a march.  It was a weekend full of perusing stalls, eating (mostly) good food, listening to ukeleles and walking with like-minded people to declare that we wanted Australia to welcome refugees.  Then I ate soup.  Here are some photos.

Above are photos from the Walk for Justice for Refugees - Palm Sunday.  I was glad to be there.  We saw people we knew, listened, walked and had ice cream afterwards.  Sylvia had a lovely time with a school friend we bumped into.

We went to the Fitzroy Market.  Above is the nice lady who sells the icy poles.  I had a rhubarb and raspberry one.  It was so good.  She is taking a break until Spring.  We will miss her.

Sylvia and I went to a first birthday party with my mum.  The little girl is part of a Burmese family my mum has become friends with.  They were so welcoming and friendly. 

I went to the Flemington Farmers Market.  Lots of good food.  I bought mostly fruit, vegies and bread.   The snail on my kale amused me when I hopped into the car to go home.  After the photo we parted ways.

After the march yesterday we arrive home with little energy.  The reason I had to go to the farmers market was to buy some nice in-season apples.  Those from the supermarket were disappointing.  The old apples went in the soup with some old pumpkin and some beans from the freezer.

Last night it was too hot and a little bland.  I enjoyed some rye bagels and cream cheese on the side.  Today we had leftovers for lunch and dinner.  Extra seasoning helped greatly.  The soup was thankfully light on a day of Easter baking.  We made chocolate nest and my first sourdough hot cross buns.  More on them another time.

I am sending this soup to Jacqueline for No Croutons Required, the monthly vegetarian soup and salad blog event co-hosted with Lisa.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Couscous salad and reflections on the week
Two years ago: Choc chip muesli slice
Three years ago: PPN Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake
Four years ago: Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market
Five years ago: Tupperware, Arran and Tomato Soup
Six years ago: Family Favourite: Chocolate Pudding

Pumpkin Bean and Apple Soup
serves 4 to 6

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg butternut pumpkin
1 and 1/2 cups cooked white beans
2 tsp stock powder
1 tsp maple syrup 
2 and 1/2  tsp salt (or to taste)
2 large apples
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry onion for 5 to 10 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic and fry about a minute.  Meanwhile trim, peel and chop pumpkin.  Add pumpkin, beans, stock powder, and maple syrup to the pot.  Gradually add salt tasting as you go (if you use tinned beans you will probably need less salt - however the pumpkin and apple are quite sweet so I found this soup needs a bit of salt).  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. Meanwhile peel, core and chop apples.  Add to pot and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Puree.  Stir in nutritional yeast flakes and as much black pepper as you like.

On the Stereo:
Just enough education to perform: The Stereophonics 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Red peppers: in pasta bake, stuffed and in soup

Sometimes a recipe lodges itself in my mind and refuses to budge.  No matter how I cook around it, I am called by an dinner that must be mine.  So it was with the pasta bake that was called Dad's Friday Night Pasta Dish by Half Baked Harvest which lured me with amazingly beautiful photos, a great story and a simple dish.  The clincher was that red capsicums were dirt cheap.  So let me tell you about my week with red capsicums (or peppers).

I bought a bag of red capsicums on sale.  The pasta bake called but I didn't quite have the time or ingredients.  Instead I roasted a capsicum on a gas flame and made Isa's Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese.  It was very good, especially with the remainder of my sweet potato mash from the enchiladas added.  I loved it but the pasta bake still beckoned.

Then I went shopping and bought more red peppers and basil on sale.  The looming use by date on the basil really pushed me because I knew if I didn't use it, it would be a slimy mess in the fridge.  (Been there, done that!)  I made tofu bacon and considered using the Vegusto vegan mozzarella in the fridge but I just wasn't sure enough (it melted ok but had no strings) and used regular mozzarella.

It was in cooking the angel hair pasta that I came unstuck.  As usual I put on the pasta and checked the packet for time.  This one only took 2 minutes.  Which meant I didn't have the 10 minutes I expected to get together herbed oil to toss the pasta in.  Then a plum crumble slice came out of the oven at the same time the pasta was ready.  In my haste I poured boiling water over my hand while draining the pasta.

The burn really hurt.  I made the rest of dinner with my fingers pressed against a zooper dooper (fruit ice stick) from the freezer and wrapped in a tea towel.  Otherwise it was too painful.  Finally I looked up the web for ideas and wrapped it in clingwrap.  The pain went away.  It was a miracle that I recommend to anyone else unfortunately enough to have this problem.

What with making tofu bacon, grating cheese and chopping parsley, it wasn't quite as quick as the recipe suggested but then I just didn't take short cuts.  It was delicious.  E loved it for the same reason I was a bit unsure.  It didn't have enough vegetables.  It was also a bit oily because I added a bit more oil and the sundried tomato oil.

One of the things I really liked about the recipe was the author saying that when her dad made this dish it was always different.  I would really like to try it again.  Sylvia enjoyed the angel hair pasta tossed with oil before I added the herbs but not after.  I would like more vegies.  I forgot to season the pasta so the bake was a bit lacking in flavour.  I have added a few changes to what I did below to reflect what I would do if I made it again.  If I made it again I would like more capsicums on top.  I'd love to try it with vegan mozzarella.  There are many possibilities.

The possibilities for the dish are not just about how to prepare it but how to use the leftovers.  I also made a lovely vegetable and bean soup last week.  I had decided to serve the remaining noodles with a stuffed capsicum (yes I call them stuffed peppers too - either makes sense to me) but ran out of time.  It was far easier to put the stuffing in the fridge, chop the remaining pasta bake and mix with the vegie soup.  And so delicious.

The next night I had the stuffing and the red capsicums and it was quite easy to just stuff them.  I used home cooked white beans from the freezer, tofu bacon, kale from the farmers market, and some leftover red pepper mac and cheese sauce.  (If you didn't have a cheese sauce you could use some nut butter, nutritional yeast flakes and mustard.)

I used half the vegan mozzarella on top and grated some to mix into the stuffing.  It probably would have been better to cut it into chunks rather than grate it.  The mozzarella on top was brilliant and has converted me from a skeptic to a fan of Vegusto.  The taste is great, the mouthfeel is right and it even crisps on top.  (I still am not a fan of the mozzarella when cold but have been loving it on grilled cheese on toast.)

I was surprised at how well these stuffed peppers worked.  I followed what I did in my nut roast stuffed peppers recipe on the blog.  I wondered if a bit longer might be good as I loved the one pepper was starting to char and blister.  What was really great about this recipe is that most stuffed peppers recipe seem to involve some sort of carbs or grains.  This one is big on protein.  Yet E didn't even feel in need of a slice of bread with this because it was so filling.

I often find stuffed peppers a bit boring and old school vegetarian.  These ones were full of interesting flavours and very modern.  And like the pasta bake, the recipe is open to endless variations.  I am sure I will make these again but with whatever takes my fancy.


I am sending the pasta bake to Manjiri at Slice of Me for Pasta Please which focuses on olive oil this month.  I am sending the stuffed peppers to Avika at A Day Through My Life #70 for My Legume Love Affair, which is managed by Lisa and founded by Susan.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Chocolate lime energy slice, the park and the beach
Two years ago: Purple Pomegranate Stew
Three years ago: Cheesey bikkies: what not to do
Four years ago: Butterscotch Bounty from Ricki
Five years ago: Wholemeal Chocolate Cake
Six years ago: Posh chocolate orange biscuits

Red Capsicum and Mozzarella Pasta Bake
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Serves 6 to 8

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Handful parsley finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
500g angel hair pasta
1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
125g tofu bacon bits, fried til crisp
300-400g mozzarella cheese, grated
3-4 red capsicums (bell peppers), sliced
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Freshly torn basil, for topping

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Heat water for pasta.  Meanwhile, in a pasta dish, about 13 by 9 inch or a little smaller, mix olive oil with herbs, garlic, paprika, pepper and salt.  Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to instructions on the packet (mine only had to be simmered about 2 minutes).  Drain and toss in herbed oil.  Sprinkle pasta with olive, sundried tomatoes and tofu bacon.  Then sprinkle with about 3/4 of mozzarella cheese.  Arrange red capsicums over the cheese.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until capsicums are well cooked.  Keeps for a day or two in the fridge.

Peppers stuffed with white beans and kale
Original recipe by Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 2

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of purple kale, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup PPK Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese sauce
2-3 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup fried tofu bacon bits
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 large red peppers (capsicums)
100g vegan mozzarella

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Heat olive oil in frypan over medium heat.  Fry onion for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown.  Add kale and cook another 5 minutes or so until cooked.  Stir in garlic and remove from heat.  Meanwhile mix together beans, cheese sauce, sundried tomatoes, tofu bacon, parsley and seasoning.  Grate about half the mozzarella into the bean mixture.

Prepare the red peppers by removing stem, membrane and seeds.  Microwave each open side down for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softening but not collapsing.  Stuff each with half the mixture, packing it in with the back of a spoon.  Stand in an ovenproof dish.  (I used a small ramekin in my dish to help the peppers stand up.)  Slice the remaining mozzarella and place over the top of the filling. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and the peppers are soft and starting to blister.  Eat hot.

On the Stereo:
Ball of Wax, audio quarterly, volume 26: a tribute to the anthology of American Folk Music - various artists

Friday, 11 April 2014

Gwyneth's Apple Muffins and the rainy school holidays

 

Yesterday I started my day by baking muffins to take to a friend's place.  When I had planned to bake Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins I had been excited that I had all the ingredients to bake from a Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook from the library.  I hadn't counted on Sylvia wanting to play at 5.30am that morning and my friend's little girl being too sick for us to visit.  Serendipitously, I had another friend who appreciated the muffins.  All was not lost.

Apples are in season right now and this recipe seemed perfect.  Except I didn't really have all the ingredients.  I had most of them.  And what I didn't have, I was able to substitute.  Gwyneth uses spelt flour.  I have used it in the past but don't regularly have it in the kitchen.  There are only so many flours I can fit in my pantry.  I added more regular wheat flour because the mixture seemed so thin.  I was out of wholemeal flour so I used a little wheatgerm. 

I chopped everything finely for Sylvia.  (She has an aversion to bits!)  When it came to sprinkling the crumble topping, she was eager to help.  It seemed there was too much topping for the muffins.  Yet by the time they rose beautifully, they had just the right amount of crumble.  I was most pleased with the muffins.  Perfect golden crunchy domed tops.  The maple syrup gave lovely flavour but minimal sweetness.  And they were soft and comforting.  (My only reservation is that maybe I shouldn't have reduced the cinnamon quite so much.)  It seemed a shame not to share even though we didn't go to see Yav.

Let me pause here to note that the school holidays started on Monday.  They are Sylvia's first school holidays.  It has been a gloomy grey wet week.  I was very glad that I booked Sylvia into a holiday swimming intensive of lessons every morning this week. It has been a great way for her to burn off some energy, even if it is a chore to dry the towels and bathers every night.  It makes me feel better about not being able to get out to the park or riding on her new bike.  Hopefully we will see the sun next week.

I phoned my friend Kathleen and suggested we meet up for a cuppa and a muffin.  We had originally planned to meet last week but I had been sick.  The fates were kind to us.  I was able to share the muffins with an appreciative friend.  Sylvia had great time playing with Kathleen's daughter.  And we were able to have a good catch up after all.  So it seems that the best laid plans of mice and men might go awry but a batch of fresh muffins will always be good thing.


I am sending this post to Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families for the Simple and in Season food challenge, run by Ren Behan.  I am also sending the muffins to Healthy Vegan Fridays #13, hosted by Suzanne at Hello Veggy, Anna at Herbivore Triathlete, and Kimmy at Rock My Vegan Socks.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Topsy Turvy Dinner: savoury chocolate muffins and cauliflower rice - and a cat fight
Two years ago: PPN Holiday cooking - Nut Roast and Pasta Napoletana
Three years ago: Autumn Apple Cake
Four years ago: PPN Mee Goreng
Five years ago: A Nutroast Tribute
Six years ago: A Long-winded Nut Roast Post

Apple and walnut crumble muffins
Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's Notes from My Kitchen Table (online here)
Makes 12 muffins

Topping:
6 tbsp white flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
3 tbsp rice bran oil
1 tbsp soy milk

Muffins:
1 tbsp cornflour
2 small apples peeled and finely chopped (mine weighed 260g)
125ml rice bran oil (or another neutral oil)
150ml maple syrup
150ml soy milk
250g white plain flour
50g wheatgerm
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon (I used 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
60g toasted walnuts (I forgot to toast) finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180 C (or 350 F).  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers or grease.

Prepare topping by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Toss chopped apples with cornflour in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk together oil, maple syrup and milk in a medium to large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except walnuts.  Mix until combined.  Fold in apples and walnuts.

Spoon into muffin tin.  Sprinkle with all of the crumble topping mixture.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (I did 30 minutes).  Cool on a wire rack.

On the Stereo:
Late Night Tales: Nouvelle Vague: Various Artists