Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pumpkin pecan crunch muffins

 Today is Greedy Gourmand's 3rd Blogiversary.

I shall be celebrating quietly this day; there will be no candles to be extinguished nor cakes to be sliced, instead I will be sitting on my back porch, steaming cup of tea warming one hand with another leisurely picking at a muffin filled with Autumn's essence. Here's to your 3rd birthday, little blog.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 20mins (does not include steaming pumpkin).
cooking time: 25mins.
total: 45mins.

taste: 4/5. Incredibly moist marvellous morsels.

The smell emanating from the oven whilst they baked and bronzed was enough to make you swoon and fall into a sugary-spice induced daze. The muffins themselves had a lovely, crunchy topping that gave way to a burnt umber base flecked with cinnamon and that was as moist as moist can be. They were so soft that I had to be extra delicate when popping them out of the pan. Even hubby declared them a winner.

I reduced the batter sugar amount by 1/4cup which I thought gave them that perfect amount of sweetness without being overly sweet.
I also reduced the nutmeg to 1/2tsp as I find nutmeg can be a little overwhelming, and there were enough other spices to keep it flavoursome.
I used steamed pumpkin in place of canned puree.
This made 12muffins for me.

would I make it again: Yes.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Moist chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

Happy Easter to all!

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 30mins plus 30mins cooling and icing.
total: 1hour & 10mins.

taste: 4/5. Fluffy chocolate heaven.

Whilst normally I am a sucker for all cakes dense and moist like chocolate fudge, sometimes you want something with a lighter crumb sandwiched between layers of feather-light cocoa icing. This cake delivered in spades. Soft, moist, and decadently fluffy this was devoured by many after an Easter banquet.

I used this chocolate buttercream recipe and it was fabulous.

would I make it again: Yes.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vanilla custard with ginger granita & Granny Smith apple

My beloved and I have resorted to behaving like lizards; the moment even the smallest trickle of sunshine appears behind woollen clouds we are racing outdoors to bake ourselves with its heat. Winter is fast approaching and Sunshine has become somewhat of a rare commodity.

Each week we scour weather forecasts, hoping to glance upon a sunny prediction so that we may plan to capture as much of those golden rays as possible. One week in March we finally came up trumps with sunshine predicted to fall on a Sunday. Before our fingerprints had even made a mark on the newspaper we were planning itineraries and filling our tanks.

We eventually decided on a road-trip down Victoria's famous winding Great Ocean Road, where we made pit-stops along seaside towns for replenishment, visited cascading waterfalls set within a lush canopy of trees and moss covered rocks before stopping to watch the waves crash upon the sand and explore microcosms of tiny rock pools on our way home. We utilised every drop of daylight and had a magical day.

Before setting off on our sun-soaked adventure, I had prepared a sweet snack that would await us on our return knowing we would be in need of a pick-me-up after a day spent in nature.

Vanilla custard with ginger granita and Granny Smith apple
from September 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller
Serves 6

2-3 Granny Smith apples

Ginger granita
125 gm caster sugar
80 gm (16cm piece) ginger, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice

Baked vanilla cream
675 ml pouring cream
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
105 gm caster sugar
6 egg yolks

For ginger granita, combine sugar, ginger and 600ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar, then increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and stand to infuse (20 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on ginger to remove as much liquid as possible (discard ginger), then add lemon juice, pour into a shallow tray, transfer to freezer and stir occasionally with a fork until frozen and ice crystals form (3-6 hours). Makes about 600ml.

Meanwhile, for baked vanilla cream, preheat oven to 160C. Combine cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until hot (5 minutes). Remove from heat, cover and stand to infuse (1 hour). Whisk sugar and yolks in a bowl until pale and creamy (3-4 minutes). Reheat cream over medium heat until hot, then gradually pour onto yolk mixture, gently stirring to combine. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug, pressing to remove as many seeds as possible from the vanilla bean (discard vanilla bean). Stand for 5 minutes, then skim foam from surface. Divide evenly among six 250ml ovenproof glasses. Place glasses on a folded tea towel placed in a deep roasting pan, ensuring they are sitting level. Fill pan with enough hot water to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of glasses and cover with foil. Pierce a few holes in foil with a skewer to release steam, then bake until set, but with a slight wobble (30-35 minutes). Remove from oven, remove foil and stand in water until cool (30-40 minutes). Remove from water, dry glasses and refrigerate until chilled and firm (2 hours).

Cut apples into 1cm dice, divide among custards, top with granita and serve immediately.

ease: 3.5/5.
prep time: 1hour & 20mins to get granita into the freezer and custard ready for the oven.
cooking time: 50mins for custard to cook and 2.5hours to set in fridge.
total: 4.5hours.

taste: 4.5/5. Independently, not as a whole.

I felt like blowing a trumpet and sounding the horns when I dug my spoon into the custard's creamy depths. Never have I been able to make a great custard, after so many years of failures I resigned myself to the fact that custard and I would never EVER be friends even though I loved it so; until today. This custard was perfect - velvet soft with delicate vanilla, classic comfort in a cup. I adored the custard on its own, and will be forever using this recipe seeing as though it was my first success.

The granita was cool and sweet with a spicy ginger kick but ultimately refreshing - so snowflake-esque as well in its delicacy. Despite the fact that I left it alone in the freezer without any fork grating, it dissolved instantly on the tongue like snow melting in Spring.
Unfrotunately when paired with the custard it completely took over and buried the gentle custard beneath its punch and the tartness of the apples. When all three combined the custard merely became the 'adhesive' for the granita and apple, such a waste.


would I make it again: A resounding YES to the custard, but NO to the dish as a whole.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pavlova roulade with lychee, banana & passionfruit cream

It seems I gloated too soon...

No sooner had the words 'we haven't been ill for almost three years' left my lips when quite suddenly my husband, and then I, fell ill. Him with a mild cold, and myself with Sinusitis; an old foe of mine. This time around we chose to battle our sicknesses naturally rather than with Western medicine. And as it turned out, instead of taking two weeks on antibiotics like before, I was able to best my old nemesis in less than a week armed with only good nutrition and plenty of rest (mainly composed of reading and napping). During this time I painfully abstained from sugar and dairy in an effort to help my body heal as quickly as possible.

Now that the spring in my step has returned and my cheeks have a healthy blush, I decided I could once again foray into the realm of sugar and dairy. And with some egg-whites calling out to be re-born I thought there couldn't be anything better than a lovely pavlova with fruit from Summer's end.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 35mins (includes baking and cooling)
chilling time: 1hour.
total: 1 hour & 35mins.

taste: 4/5. Old Pav rolls with the tropics.

Marshmallow-y pavlova with its soft sweetness was perfectly paired with the tang of the voluptuous passionfruit cream alongside the tropical lychee and creamy banana. Yum.

would I make it again: Yes.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blueberry pudding cake

A last minute invitation to a home cooked meal is both a blessing and a slight inconvenience; as I cannot turn up empty handed, and in my case, it is almost always a home-made dessert that I bring.

This particular evening's invite left me with scarcely an hour to prepare something sweet using only what I had on hand. Luckily I always keep a stash of frozen berries for cases like these, along with pantry staples such as flour, sugar and eggs which I never allow to dwindle too low. With these ingredients I was able to turn to an old, almost forgotten favourite, one that I haven't yet shared with you.

I first made this blueberry pudding cake on a frost-bitten August evening some four odd years ago, before I began this blog. I hadn't made it since as my recipe record keeping wasn't yet cultivated, but somehow, upon glancing at the frozen cobalt jewels a memory was sparked. One where my husband and I sat huddled over a baking dish, spoons greedily digging into soft and syrupy pudding, warming our bellies with its deliciousness. I hesitated, wondering whether I could trust a four-year-old-food-memory formed when my cooking skills were just barely beginning to bud, but time was slipping quickly so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

I needn't have worried :).

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 15mins.
cooking time: 20mins.
total: 35mins.

taste: 4/5. The comfort of a pudding with the freshness of berries.

This really is a simple, fluffy yet satisfying, softly sweet pudding dotted with sapphire gems and smothered in the most delicious, sticky indigo syrup. They may not look like much but boy are they wonderfully moorish.

I always add a little more blueberries (once I substituted strawberries) to get more of that lip-smackingly-good syrup. I even once forgot to add any sugar to the batter and it STILL tasted good. Thanks pudding :).

would I make it again: Yes.