Thursday 28 August 2014

A Bird's Pie

This winter we've been feeding the birds in our garden. Having got a couple of pre-made bird-pies, Little Miss and I thought we'd have a go at making our own. 

I couldn't find a net bag or even an old pair of fishnets anywhere, so had to quickly crochet up a bag using triple and chain stitch.

Bird's Pie

a 454g tub of dripping
1/2 cup linseeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup rolled oats
a crochet or netting bag to hang the pie in

Leave the dripping at room temperature for a few hours to soften up.
Stir the dripping in a large bowl until its soft and workable. Stir in the seeds and oats. 
Lay the bag or net onto a piece of food wrap. Spoon the dripping mixture into the bag. 
Tie or crochet up the bag. Use the food wrap to help for the ball without the dripping sticking to everything. 
Using string or a chain stitch attach the whole thing to a tree. Once attached remove the food wrap, then wait for the birds. I'm not sure who was more excited, LM or the birds.

Saturday 23 August 2014

125 Cheese Rolls for the Disco

There has been a huge amount of excitement and anticipation in our house this week because the school Disco was on Friday. I suspect Little Miss 5 and her school buddies have been talking it up all week. Here she is, all dressed and ready, busting her dance moves on the way out the door to go there.

My contribution to the night was to make some good old fashioned Cheese Rolls for the children to have for their disco supper. Popular belief says that the cheese Roll originated in Southland, and there are many different variations on the basic recipe. I'm sure they were probably dreamed up by a dairy farmer, as they are definitely all about the dairy products. Here is my adaptation, as well as one I modified to cater for the gluten free attendees. 

I used the gorgeous bread from The Village Bakehouse in Ilam for the main batch. Made by a genuine little French baker using traditional methods, this bread is delicious and makes the best toast ever. Be warned, once tried you will never go back to the supermarket variety. For the gluten free ones I used the Freedom brand of gluten-free bread.

The recipe below uses about 2 loaves of bread; that makes about 32 to 34 rolls. For the disco I made three and a half times this recipe and used 7 loaves of bread.
Cheese Rolls

1 small onion
40g butter - for sauteing the onion
2 cups grated tasty cheese
a 425g can of evaporated milk
1 packet of Maggi onion soup mix
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
50g butter - for brushing the top of the rolls
2 block loaves of sliced Village Bakehouse bread - the block loaves have squared off tops

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a large baking sheet with paper.

Finely slice the onion and saute it in the first measure of butter until it is soft but not brown.

Add the evaporated milk, followed by the onion soup mix and mustard. Use a whisk to properly combine the powdered ingredients. Now add the grated cheese and stir constantly over a medium heat until the cheese is melted and the mixture has thickened. Do not let it boil or the protein in the cheese will harden and it will end up tasting chalky.
Take from the heat and set aside to cool a little while you prepare the bread. 

Using a bread knife and a good sawing action, cut the crust from the long edges of the bread. This is best done in batches. 
Lay the bread out on the board and spread with a generous coating of the cheese mixture. Work quickly so the bread doesn't stale, as this will make it hard to roll. 

Now fold the bread into three starting and ending with a crust edge. Lay them with the crust down on the baking tray. Push them down a little to ensure they stick together.
Melt the extra measure of butter and brush the tops of the rolls. 

Because these rolls were being reheated later, I baked them for just 10 minutes. If they are being eaten straight away, bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. To reheat, bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 180deg. C

Its a good idea to let them stand for a few minutes before serving as the cheese is molten hot.

Gluten free Cheese Roll Version

1/2 onion
20g butter
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/4 teaspoon pure mustard powder
2 cups grated tasty cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
extra 40g butter for brushing the tops

This is enough mixture to make two loaves of Freedom Gluten free bread. The cheese will store in the fridge for a few days, but can't be frozen successfully.

Melt the butter and saute the onion until soft but not brown.
Add the cream and mustard powder, but hold back a couple of tablespoons of cream to mix with the cornflour. 

Heat the cream until boiling point, then take from the  heat and thoroughly stir in the cornflour mix. Return to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and boils. Take from the heat again and stir in the cheese until it is all melted. There is no need to return the pot to the element, as there is enough heat in the cream mixture to do the trick. Lastly stir in the parsley once the whole mixture has cooled. 

Cut the crusts from the bread and spread each slice with the cheese mixture. Fold over once and secure with a tooth pick. Gluten free bread isn't very pliable, so don't worry if it starts to break. 

Brush with the extra melted butter and bake at 180deg. C for 10 to 15 minutes of until they start to turn brown.  

I didn't take any photos of the gluten free version, as it was getting late at night! I'm sure you will enjoy them. I put the parsley into the Gluten free batch so their could be no confusion over which cheese mix was which.

Saturday 16 August 2014

Aunty Nancy's Cranberry and White Chocolate Oaty Cookies

I'm a little ashamed to say that my lovely Aunty Nancy gave us this cookie mix jar for Christmas, and we have waited until now to make them. Off to stay the night with Mum and Dad, I needed a baking solution in a hurry. What better time to crack out the cookie jar mix. I was a little worried the ingredients might have become stale, but they were fine sealed in the glass jar.

Nancy is a lovely, generous and caring lady. She is also an excellent baker, and the treats she brings when she visits are very much anticipated. Nancy gave everyone in the family a cookie jar mix for Christmas. Here is the recipe that came with it. 

All I needed to do was mix the egg and melted butter together.
Then mix it into a dough.
Roll it into balls, and flatten a little on the tray.

Then bake for 10 minutes at 180deg. C.
These are a great cookie. The cranberries give them a little tartness, and the oats give texture and crunch. I will certainly make them again. Thanks so much for a lovely gift Nancy, they were just the thing to take for our weekend away. 

Sunday 10 August 2014

My bake-off entry: Roasted Pumpkin, Cheese and Kale Pesto Scones

This year's school staff bake-off was a little more of a challenge, as sugar was officially banished in favour of savoury categories only. This forced us all to put our thinking caps on to come up with new and interesting entries. Judging our creations this year was the lovely Anna Worthington, of Cakes By Anna fame. With her creative flair and rustic presentation in mind, and wanting to keep it seasonal, I did some experimenting with pumpkin scones. With the addition of some cavalo nero kale from our garden, this creation was made. In a typical morning rush, I forgot to photograph my entry prior to morning tea, so above is my half eaten entry.

Roasted Pumpkin, Cheese and Kale Pesto Scones

For the Pumpkin Puree:

1/4 of a large gray crown pumpkin, or any other variety you have.
salt and pepper, 
1/8th teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C. 

Place the quarter of pumpkin, cut in half and skin-on, into a roasting dish. 

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Roast for about 40 minutes until soft. Turn twice during cooking. 

Allow to cool, then peel off the skin and mash the flesh. 

Add the nutmeg and check the seasoning. 

This is enough pumpkin for two batches of scones. The left over will happily freeze until needed.

For the Kale Pesto:

6 cavalo nero kale leaves
1 generous handful of parsley
1 clove garlic - peeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons grated parmisan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons walnuts

Wash the kale and parsley, and separate and discard the stalks. 

Put all the ingredients into the food processor and whizz until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and cover and store in the fridge until required.

Push the plastic wrap down onto the pesto to stop it from discolouring. 

For the Scones:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g butter
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup pumpkin puree

Filling and topping:
1 cup grated tasty cheese
about 1/2 cup kale pesto
about 2/3 cup extra pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds, plus extra for the top.
3 tablespoons grated parmisan cheese for the top

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C

Sift the flour, sugar, salt, mustard and cinnamon together. 

Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like crumbs.

Combine the egg and butter milk. 

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture and first measurement of pumpkin puree. 

Stir gently until just combined and turn out onto a floured piece of baking paper.

Press out it a large rectangle shape using another piece of baking paper to stop it from sticking to your fingers.

Spread with the pesto, followed by the extra pumpkin puree, tasty cheese and pumpkin seeds. 

Roll up along the long edge and cut into 3cm slices. 

Place the slices into a paper lined baking tray. Cluster them together. 

Top with the grated parmisan and extra pumpkin seeds. 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and risen. Allow to cool before transferring to a serving board. This is the one I did as a practise during the weekend. 

For the competition I served the scones with butter and garnished with deep fried cavalo nero and fresh bay tree sprigs. 

Happy baking xxx

Monday 4 August 2014

Winter Baked Stuffed Apple Recipe

Continuing the theme of seasonal desserts, here is a  classic 'oldy but goody' the baked, stuffed apple. This recipe is based on Peter Gordon's version; however my version of this is based on a copy of a copy so I'm not sure how true to the original it is. I've added a couple of flourishes in the form of chia seeds and walnuts. 

To be fear I overcooked this lot a little, care of some lively dinner conversation. Never mind, it's quite a forgiving recipe; and it also reheats well for breakfast left overs the next day.

Baked Stuffed Apples

8 even sized cooking apples - I used Granny Smith
100g butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons liquid honey
8 dried apricots
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons walnuts 
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C

Prepare the stuffing ingredients by slicing the apricots and walnuts, and combining with the raisins, chia and cinnamon.

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add the oats and stirring constantly cook until golden and foamy. 

Add honey and stir. 

Add the fruit and nuts and cook for a further minute. 

Take from the heat and set aside while preparing the apples.

Wash the apples and remove the core using an apple corer. 

Use the corer to hollow out the remainder of the core of the apple. 

Use a peeler to peel a strip from the centre of the apple. 

As you core them, roll the apple in the fillings melted butter; then place in the baking dish and stuff with the filling. 

Repeat this until all the apples are prepared. Pour any remaining butter over the apples. 

Place into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until soft and fluffy. 

We served ours with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. 

Happy cooking xx Prudence