Tuesday 29 April 2014

It's Feijoa Season again! Part 1

We love feijoas! Well, Little Miss and I love feijoas. Thanks so much to our friend Catherine for the glorious box she delivered to our door, we are enjoying a glut of the glorious fruit. Just like the brussel sprout, the feijoa seems to attract either a love or hate reaction from its consumers. Little Miss will eat them all day long given half the chance, but she told me her school friends are very suspicious of her lunch box staple and consider them to smell funny. Her teacher told her she was a special girl for liking feijoas. Maybe she doesn't like them much either. 

Given our bounty, and its short shelf life, we have been pulling out all the feijoa possibilities this week.

Sticky Date and Feijoa Pudding with Caramel Sauce

200g pitted dates 
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
125 butter
1/2 cup dark cane sugar
1 x 395g can of condensed milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 feijoas - don't peel and chop them until the remainder of the mixture is ready as they brown quickly.

Caramel Sauce

30g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
300ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C and grease a large oven dish.

Combine the dates and water in a saucepan and cook until pulpy. Remove from the heat and add the soda. It will fluff up a bit, then settle back down. 

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add the condensed milk and beat again. 

Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. 

Peel and chop the feijoas

They turn brown quickly once exposed to the air, so stir them into the mixture as soon as they are prepared. 

Fold the dates into the feijoa mixture, followed by the sifted flour and baking powder. 

Place the pudding batter into the large greased oven dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes. 

My dish was a little small as the following picture will demonstrate!

While the pudding is baking make the sauce: combine the butter, sugar and cream in a small pot and summer for 10 minutes, taking care not to let it catch on the bottom of the pot. Set aside until the pudding is cooked.

This is a delicious pudding that serves 6 to 8 diners depending on the generosity of the serving size.  

Saturday 26 April 2014

Little Person's Snuggly Snood Pattern

With winter weather nipping at our ears, the season for snuggling in front of the fire with a knitting project is here. Following the northern hemisphere trends for chunky yarns, its great to have some New Zealand made options appearing on the shelves. I particularly like Crucci's new super bulky Terra Firma yarn. It's 100% New Zealand grown and manufactured, and is a beautifully soft and lofty yarn. 

This is my first prototype using this yarn. There is a pattern for an adult snood on the wool band. It uses 25mm needles for a looser stitch and requires just the one hank to complete. 

I have opted to adapt and use the recommended 20mm needles to get a more defined stitch result for this child sized snuggly snood. 

As it is sold in 200g hanks, you first need to wined the yarn into a ball.

Child's Snuggly Snood Pattern

Using 20mm knitting needles, cast on 12 stitches.

I found these lovely short wooden needles at my local wool store.

Work stocking stitch (1st row knit, 2nd row purl, then repeat) until between 1 and 2 metres of yarn remain. Finish with a purl row.

Now work the final row to join the ends and cast off at the same time:

Fold the snood right sides together as shown, with the beginning end closest to you. 

Push the right hand needle through the first loop of the cast on end of the knitting. (the diagram shows completed stitches and a stitch in progress)

Then push the needle through the stitch on the left hand needle. Knit the stitch. This knits the two scarf ends together.

Once two stitches have been completed, cast the first stitch off by passing it over the second stitch. 

Repeat the stitches and cast offs until only the last one remains. Pass the loose thread through the loop and pull tight to fasten. 
Use a crochet hook to weave all the lose end in - most darning needles are not big enough to carry this yarn.

Our little Miss is very pleased with the new snood; it never drags on the ground like a normal scarf, and is much less likely to get lost in the playground. I'm off now to formulate an adult version.

Friday 25 April 2014

Easter Treats - Hot Cross Buns

This year I thought I would try a different Hot Cross Bun recipe. Just for a change. Thanks to last Saturday's The Press we all had plenty of inspiration with three recipes from local bakers to choose from. After careful consideration, and because I didn't have the time to leave the Le Panier buns to rise overnight, I decided on the Bellbird Baked Goods version. Being me, I have tweaked it a bit. The fresh orange and ginger gives these buns a delicious fresh flavour. I mixed these by hand as we didn't have a dough hook attachment at Mum and Dad's house.

Hot Cross Buns - adapted from the Bellbird Baked Goods Recipe

1 whole orange
60g fresh ginger
500g strong flour
200ml lukewarm water
10g salt
50g brown sugar
8g instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground cloves
100g sultanas
100g currents
100g softened butter

Cut up the orange and ginger and blend in a food processor to make a chunky pulp.

Combine the flour, salt, brown sugar, yeast and spices in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl combine the orange and ginger pulp with the water. 

Add the wet mixture to the dry and, using your hands, mix until a firm dough is formed. 

Add the fruit and butter to the bowl and mix again until a soft ball of dough is formed. 

Turn it out onto a clean bench. 

No extra flour or oil is required as the butter stops the dough from sticking. 

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it springs back when pressed. 

Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a sheet of dampened plastic film. 

Leave in a warm place to rise for 2 to 3 hours. 

It should double in size. 

Turn out and cut into 16 even sized pieces. 

The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough in half, then the halves in half again, then the quarters in half again. 

Roll each bun until smooth and place then in a greased meat dish, or alternatively, two large baking tins. 

Cover again with greased plastic food wrap and leave to rise for an hour until well risen. 

While the buns rise preheat the oven to 190deg. C 

Make the paste to pipe on for the crosses: mix 2 tablespoons of flour and a tablespoons of sugar mixed with a little water. Once the buns have risen, brush on some egg wash and pipe on the crosses.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. While still hot from the oven, brush with watered down apricot jam to glaze.  Delicious with butter and a nice cup of tea!

Here is the link to last year's bun recipe.

Monday 21 April 2014

Gluten, Dairy and Refined Sugar Free Almond and Apple Chocolate Brownie Recipe

Though most of the recipes that appear on these pages don't tend to reflect it, I have of late been cutting added sugars out of my diet. Not completely out, just no more empty calories like lollies and soft drink, and smaller portions of cake and biscuits. Here is a gluten and dairy free chocolate brownie with made of dates and grated apple with no added refined sugar. 

Gluten, Dairy and Refined Sugar Free Almond and Apple Chocolate Brownie

2 cups of dates - soaked for 20 minutes in boiling water  
2 cups almond meal                                              
5 eggs                                                                     
1/2 cup cocoa powder                                           
1 teaspoon baking powder                                  
1 teaspoon vanilla essence                                 
1 teaspoon cinnamon                                          
 2 apples 

Preheat the oven to 160deg. C.

Drain the dates, squeeze the water out and process the dates into a smooth paste.
Add the almonds and mix again.

Add the eggs to the food processor a third at a time and mix to a smooth paste after each addition.
Transfer the mixture into a large bowl.

Wash the apples and leaving the skins on, cut out the core and blitz them to a lumpy mix. 

Sift the cocoa, baking powder and spices into the wet ingredients. 

Add the vanilla essence and stir whole lot together with the shredded apple.

Place the mixture into a lined 25 x 35 cm baking tin.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until firm and risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
This slice is nice served warm from the oven, thought, like other almond meal cakes, the flavour improved after a day or so. If you are used to eating full sugar products you might find this less sweet than you're accustom. Happy baking xx 

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Button Cable Scarf

In the last few weeks I've been experimenting with a range of different yarns and scarf patterns. Hand knits are very much on trend this season, and my sister Charmaine is interested in some for her new signature boutique in Dunedin. Northern hemisphere trends have been leaning towards chunkier yarns and lots of stitch detail. Scarves are super easy to design given the repetitive nature of the pattern and fact that the width measurement is not particularly critical to the finished design. So why not give your own winter masterpiece a try!

Here is my first scarf sample: 4 cables with a moss stitch boarder and button and hole fixing.

I used approximately 150g of a 200g hank of chunky 14ply Naturally yarn and 6.5mm (Metric sized) knitting needles. 

New Zealand made of course.

Cable Button Scarf

Using 6.5mm knitting needles and 14 ply wool, cast on 30 stitches.
1st Row: Knit 1, purl 1, repeat until the end of the row
2nd Row: Purl 1, knit 1, repeat until the end of the row
These two rows form the moss stitch pattern. Repeat once more to form the end boarder.

First row of cable pattern: work 3 stitches continuing the moss stitch pattern.  

Now slip the next 3 stitches onto a cable needle. Place the cable needle at the back of the work. 

Knit the next 3 stitches from the left hand needle. 

Now knit the 3 stitches from the cable needle. 

This forms the cable: repeat the sequence 3 more times, then work the last 3 stitches as moss stitch. 

This is the finished cable row. 

2nd row: Work 3 stitches in the moss stitch pattern, followed by 24 purl, then 3 stitches of the moss stitch. 
3rd row: Work 3 stitches in Moss stitch, 24 knit, then 3 moss stitch.
4th row : repeat the 2nd row sequence
5th row: repeat the 3rd row sequence
6th row: repeat the 2nd row sequence

These 6 rows form the cable pattern. 

Repeat them until the desired length is achieved. 
I completed 24 sequences for this scarf.

Final moss stitch boarder and button hole:
Work 2 rows of moss stitch as per the first band. 
3rd row: work 4 stitches moss stitch, yarn over needle, knit 2 stitches together, then resume the moss stitch pattern to complete the row. work one more row moss stitch. Working the yarn over needle will form the button hole.

Last row: cast off in moss stitch. 

Sew the stray yarn ends in and sew the button onto the opposite side and end of the scarf; position it 5 cable sequences up from the end. 

Winter here we come. 

Happy knitting xx