Sunday 28 September 2014

Fruity Chocolate Truffles for Junelle - and they are gluten, egg, and dairy free

Little Miss has had a great term of swimming with Junelle at Aquagym. We always make a little home-made baked gift for her swim teachers at the end of each term. In this case there wasn't much baking involved; one of my gluten free colleagues gave me this recipe a while ago. At the time our kitchen whizz had just blown up, so the recipe got filed. Time poor as usual, and scratching my head about what to make, these were the perfect, quick and tasty treat for a Saturday morning.

I have adapted the original recipe to use different fruits and seeds, and you too can substitute whatever you happen to have in the pantry. The original recipe used walnuts and coconut instead of pumpkin seeds and chia. The combination of natural fruit and energy rich seeds makes them a perfect brain food snack.

Fruity Chocolate Truffles

1 cup pitted dates
1 cup sultanas
1/4 cup dried apricots
a handful of goji berries
1/4 cup preserved ginger - choose the ones without the sugar coating, or just rinse the sugar off.
1/4 cup dried mango - chopped into smaller pieces
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons dark cocoa
1 tablespoon sunflower or canola oil

1/4 cup chia seeds for coating the truffles

First toast the pumpkin seeds in a hot pan. 

Keep them moving around the pan or they will quickly burn. tip into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Once the pumpkin seeds are cool, place all the ingredients except the chia into the food processor. 

Be sure to choose fruit that is not too dried out, or the truffles wont hold together.

Process the mixture until it forms sticky chunks. Don't over process or all the texture will be lost. 

Roll the truffles into even sized balls, then toss them in the chia seeds. 

Leave to sit for a little while so they set. And your done! A tasty snack in no time.

Little Miss just loves Junelle, and so she was very happy to give her this little gift to show our appreciation for all her good teaching.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Very Quick Lemon & Sultana Cake

So in need of a Milo and a piece of cake after another busy end-of -term day. All the preparation for the school's Tonga trip has left me rather time poor. I don't normally like making cakes in the food processor, but this one is tasty and ready in a flash. It's a great everyday cake. I adapted the recipe from an Orange cake by Alison Holst.

Food Processor Lemon Cake and Sultana Cake

2 lemons
125g butter - softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups flour
1 cup sultanas

For the syrup: 2 tablespoons lemon cordial and 2 tablespoons of caster sugar mixed together. 

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C and line a 25cm square tin with baking paper.

Cut the lemons up into small pieces and blend in the food processor until finely chopped. 

Add the softened butter, caster sugar and eggs. Blend for about 30 seconds until well combined. 

Add the baking soda dissolved in the milk, and the flour, vanilla, and sultanas, and pulse briefly until just combined. 
We just got this great Magimix. You need a reasonable sized kitchen wizz to make a cake.

Spread the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Mix the sugar and cordial together. 

The finished cake.

Using a pastry brush spread the sugar mixture onto the cooked cake straight from the oven. 

This ones a great lunch box filler too. Happy Baking xx 

Thursday 18 September 2014

Making my Puletaha for Tonga

As I have mentioned earlier, I'm off on an outreach trip to Tonga in a couple of weeks time. We are going to a small, relatively rural town called Lapaha, to visit our sister school Takuilau Collage. In keeping with the local custom we will all be wearing Puletaha to the formal occasions. Our school set will all be blue. I put this one on to show the girls and wore it all round school showing everyone who was even vaguely interested. 

I drafted this pattern from a top and skirt that one of the Sisters of Mercy wore while she was over there, and then graded up to all the sizes required for our group. This is the sample I made to test my pattern. The weather in Tonga is going to be hot by Christchurch standards, so the thin, floaty 100% cotton layers will keep us cool.

Having cut out the pattern, pin and sew the shoulder seams.
Iron fusing onto the facings. Mark the centre back line in using tailor's chalk. 

Now sew and overlock the shoulder seams, press the seam towards the back, then overlock all the way around the outside of the facing panels.
Placing the right sides of the fabric together, pin the neck facing onto the neck of the garment. 

Pin in place.
New sew around the outside of the neck front and back. 

Sew down into the back-of-neck opening, leaving enough room to cut the fabric down to the bottom of the opening. 
Cut the opening open, then trim the edges from the corners to make them easier to turn out.
 Turn the facing into the inside of the garment.

Now under-stitch the front neck edge by sewing the facing to the seam underneath. Sew this with the right side up. This ensures the facing wont poke out from the seam.

 Press the seams.
 Now top stitch the back neck edge and opening to keep it in place. We top stitch because it would be almost impossible to under-stitch this section.
 Now spread out the body of the garment  and pin the sleeve onto the sleeve opening. Spread out any extra ease. 
 Stitch the sleeve seam then overlock the raw edges.
 Now put the trim onto the top by first pressing the strips into two. 
 Match the band to the bottom of the sleeve pattern. Pin, then sew and overlock. 
 Here is the completed trim ready for the side and underarm seams to be sewn.
Match the side and sleeve seams then sew, and overlock.

Complete the top by overlocking then pressing the hem and the side seams.
Top stitch the hem and small side seams into place.

Make a chain of thread and sew it to the left side of the back of neck opening. Sew a button onto the opposite side.

And the top is done. 
To make the wrap around skirt: 
The skirt is essentially a long rectangle of fabric with darts and a bottom band attached. To make yours, just cut a length of fabric that's roughly twice your hip measurement, and the length you require.

First mark in, then sew the darts into the back of the skirt panel. Don't worry about finishing the selvage waist of the skirt. Sew down the top of the dart.
Now sew the side seams of the skirt panel by folding the seam over twice and ironing into place. 
Now top stitch into place.
Attach the bottom band by pinning the band onto the bottom edge and sewing into place. 

I had to join the fabric for the band as I wanted the pattern of the band to run in the opposite direction to the main skirt panel.
Fold the ends of the band over, placing the right sides of the fabric together as shown in the picture. Stitch the end in place.
Fold the band in the right way as shown. Tuck the seam in along the length of the band. Pin and press into place. 

Use a ruler to check that the width of the band is correct all the way along its edge. 
Top stitch the band into place, taking care that the inside edge is overlapping the first row of sewing so the top-stitching catches it.
Here's the close up showing both sides of the band.

Attach a metre of cotton tape to both ends of the top of the skirt, and you're ready to tie the skirt around yourself.

So simple and easy to make!

Here's the back view showing the loop and button.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Home Hot Smoked Salmon and raising money for Tonga

In two and a half weeks time I will be hopping on a plane bound for Tonga. When I tell people this they imagine tropical resorts, sun loungers and pool side wait staff. But this trip will be far, far different from your average tropical package holiday; because I'm going with 7 staff and 24 students on a Mercy Outreach to visit our Tongan sister school. We've been preparing for the trip for months: the Puletaha traditional formal uniforms are at the sewing factory being completed, the risk analysis has been written, we've all had our vaccinations, and the gear list is as long as your arm. 

Anyway, I wanted to fill the trip's coffers a little more so we could take a few more resources over with us. We all love food, and we've all been quite busy of late, so I thought a morning tea, available by donation, would be just the thing. I kept it quite simple, Cheese rolls, Chocolate Mud Cupcakes, both gluten and gluten free, a gluten free pizza bread and home made Hot Smoked Salmon served with sour cream and capers.

The home hot smoked salmon always goes down well. It's really delicious and really easy to make at home.

Home Hot Smoked Salmon

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
a piece of fresh salmon, about half a side, skin on - I used Akaroa salmon from Rare Fare

a couple of handfuls of manuka wood chips
4 tea bags of black tea
methylated spirits
some matches or a gas lighter
a stainless steel fish smoker

Mix the sugar, salt, vinegar and mustard.

Check the salmon for pin bones, and lay it in the centre of a large piece of plastic food wrap, or in a close fitting tray or bowl. Cover in the marinade, wrap or cover, then place in the fridge for about an hour.

Take the salmon from the fridge. Remove from the wrap and place it on the metal rack of the fish smoker. I always use the rack with the most clearance gap from the tray, as otherwise the wood chips always seem to end up on the fish. Use a paper towel to blot the excess marinade from the fish. 
Prepare the smoker by finding a suitable outside position on a level, non flammable hard surface. Place the manuka chips and tea leaves into the tray of the smoker. Half fill the methylated spirit container. 

Once you have every thing ready, place the tray with the salmon into the smoker and light the meths. Don't try to move the lit meths container as you will probably burn yourself. Place the smoker over the burning meths and put the lid on. 
Because the heat often causes the smoker to buckle, place a heavy pot on top of the lid to encourage a good seal. Smoke for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You can always lift the lid to check. The fish should be a dark colour and firmish to the touch. 

Once done, remove the rack and fish from the smoker and set aside to cool. It is very delicate and needs to be handled very gently to prevent it from falling apart. Once cold, transfer the fish by covering the top side with plastic food wrap and inverting the rack and fish onto a plate. Take care when removing the rack as the fish skin will be stuck to it. Just push down on the skin as you lift the rack. Wrap the fish and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, unwrap the fish and peel off the skin. 

Using either plastic wrap or a plate, invert the fish, then gently ease it onto the serving platter. Refrigerate it until served. 

I usually serve it with crackers, both water and gluten free rice crackers, and a mixture of sour cream, mayonnaise, and capers. 

Thanks so much to everyone who gave so generously to this worthy cause. The morning tea fundraiser was a great success.