Monday, 29 April 2013

From Around The Web

Here are some things I have found from around the web (and beyond) this past week:
These are the greatest looking pancakes. I am so doing this on the weekend.

Liquid Cake. I mean, what even is that.

I am behind on Silent Witness and was just introduced to David Caves as Nick. I am actually going to say that he is better than Harry. Better. Than. Harry.

Why was the Doctor's name in a book? The most important secret EVER, and it is in a book?

This has to be the funniest list ever. I love Buzzfeed. It's a black hole I can never escape from.

As for middle-class problems - this one is me. Except replace skiing (which I am very bad at) with something I am good at, like shopping.

Author's wrote down tips for budding writers on their hands. These two are my favourite (by Garth Nix, who is amazing, and Scott Eagle).

This is how I feel. Like, everytime someone tries to pry me away from my book. Even when 'someone' is homework.

And on that note, I'm off. I'll try and think of something to share next week. Or at least I'll find more things to talk about.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Lamington Fingers



Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same—and War’s a bloody game…

Have you forgotten yet?…
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz—
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench—
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack—
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads—those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?… 
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

- Aftermath, Siegfried Sassoon.

Nothing I can say will ever be as beautiful as something written by Sassoon (arguably one of the best war poets to have ever lived). So today I ask you to read them.

In honour of ANZAC Day (the greatest day to be an Australian) I made some lamingtons (using my grandmother's recipe). While I doubt they are of little comfort to the amazing men and women who serve Australia in the Defence Force, to me, they symbolise Australia and what these men and women are trying to protect.

In honour of those who have fought and died for our country, lest we forget.

***


Makes 16 lamington fingers.

What you need:
For the cake:
115 grams sugar
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
115 grams Fielder's cornflour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
115 grams butter (melted)

For the chocolate and coconut coating:
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp butter
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups coconut (shredded or flaked, your choice)


What to do:

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and liberally grease a brownie pan (or cover the pan with wax paper)

In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla essence together until stiff. This will take around10 minutes. You want to make a sponge cake, so you need the mixture to be white, thick and stiff. To test, dip your spatula in the mixture and when you remove it, the mixture should slightly stand up in the bowl. It takes a while, but is worth it.

Using a spatula, fold in the cornflour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Make sure it is mixed evenly in the mixture – if you have beaten the eggs and sugar together properly, you will notice to cornflour sticks to the bottom of the bowl a bit; you want to evenly spread it throughout the mixture.

Add the melted butter (when it is hot so only melt it now) to the mixture and also mix well. Ensure the cake mixture is white with no butter streaks.

Pour into a regular size brownie pan (or other small rectangle pan) and bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. Lower heat to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for another five minutes. You may not even need this final five minutes. The cake should be browned on top and golden in colour. You do not want to burn it. Watch the edges carefully and lower heat early if needed.

Allow to cool for five minutes in pan and then remove the cake from the pan and cool completely. Cut the cake into 16 fingers.

Freeze for at least on hour before icing cakes, preferably freeze overnight.


Icing:

Mix one cup of the boiling water with the essence and butter in a large bowl, stirring until the butter has melted into the water.

Sift cocoa into boiling water. Add icing sugar. Using a whisk, mix these two ingredients into the boiling water (you can also sift the icing sugar, but it takes a lot of time, and whisking breaks the sugar up in a similar way to sifting). The icing will be thick. If you like this consistency, move on to the next step. If you want to thin the icing a little more, add the remaining boiling water, ¼ cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Set up for the next few steps: remove the fingers from the freezer. Place the bowl of chocolate icing next the cake fingers, and then place the coconut on a plate next to the icing.

Dip each finger individually in the icing, making sure all sides are coated, and then coat in coconut. You can do this by hand (like me) or by using forks/skewers. Place each dipper finger on a plate/oven tray to allow the icing and coconut to set. Repeat for all remaining fingers.

Remember that the coconut will slowly become cocoa coloured from having the fingers dipped in it, so I would recommend only using ½-1 cup of coconut at a time and replacing it frequently so that each lamington finger is coated in white coconut, not brown coconut. You may need more coconut depending on how much you put on each lamington finger. Coat them liberally in it – that’s how we do it!

Allow to set slightly, so that any leftover icing and coconut drips off the fingers, then allow to set properly in the fridge. Store in fridge and serve cold. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

'Apple Pie' Oat Cups

 
These pictures are ugly.

I am forewarning you of this. It's mostly because I'm too lazy to retake them (this was like my fifth attempt - with bad lighting and uncooperative food it was difficult to get a good picture) but also because it's hard to take a picture of these oat cups.

In spite of this, these oat cups are amazing. I make them once a week and eat one cup every few days so that I can enjoy them throughout the whole week. The recipe I have below is for apple-pie style oat cups, and unlike most 'apple-pie' style recipes, these really do a good job of imitating apple pie. It's obviously not quite the same, but they are a legitimate and delicious healthy substitute for a simple weeknight dessert or afternoon snack. They would also definitely work as a breakfast, or as a side dish for a brunch. They are amazing - even my parents liked them!


The recipe is not mine. I adapted it from Including Cake, using the ingredients I had on hand. It worked out brilliantly. For the original recipe, check it out here. While you're there, check out some of the other recipes there - I've made several before and I can honestly say I have not had a failure yet. For apple-pie oat cups, read below.


Makes three oat cups.

What you need:

For the cups:
1/3 cup oats
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp LSA mix (or some other ground seed mix)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp plain or Greek yoghurt

For the filling:
1 tbsp apple-rhubarb jam (or regular apple jam or regular rhubarb jam or some other jam, though another flavour will affect the apple-pie effect of the oat cups)
4 tbsp apple-cinnamon yoghurt (or combine regular yoghurt with a few teaspoons of applesauce and cinnamon)

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Generously coat three muffin holes in a 12-hole muffin tin with butter or oil spray, coating the side of each muffin hole.

In a small bowl, mix the oat cup ingredients together and stir well until a shaggy, brown batter has formed. It will not be attractive.

Divide the mixture into the three muffin tray holes and using the back of a spoon (or your fingers), press the batter into the sides of the muffin hole so that the mixture makes a bowl shape (covers the bottom and sides of the muffin hole).

Bake in the oven for no longer than 10 minutes. Make sure the cups are browned, maybe a little golden, but only just cooked when you remove them.

Serve immediately or if serving later reheat the cups before serving. To serve, place the jam at the bottom of the oat cup and then dollop the yoghurt on top. Serve warm for the apple-pie effect. 


Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Perfect Summer Sandwich


This sandwich is my latest obsession.

I am not even joking. In the past week and a bit since I first made it, I've eaten it at least six times. It is an amazing sandwich. Now I know sandwiches are not really considered recipes, but I had to share this one as it is absolutely amazing. It is very simple, and does require a little more effort than a good old PB&J, but the taste definitely makes up for the extra few minutes you spend making it.


In saying that it takes time, it probably takes around 10 minutes total to whip this up. You probably have most of the ingredients already, if not all. I got the idea for this sandwich when I bought this amazing Raspberry Caramalised Balsamic Vinegar and Rocket and Pistachio Pesto two weeks ago. Now obviously any balsamic vinegar (although a caramelised one is better) and pesto work in this recipe, but for those who were interested in exactly what I used, these were the products I used. I got them from the Eumundi markets but I also found them at Montville in the Fudgy Boombah shop. These are both places in Queensland (both gorgeous places) so fellow QLDers probably know where I'm talking about if they are interested in getting the products.


What you need:

2 tsp Butter
¼ cup mushrooms, sliced
3 small slices haloumi
2 slices sourdough bread
1 tbsp pesto (I used Rocket and Pistachio Pesto)
½ tomato, slice thinly
½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp basil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (preferably caramelised vinegar – I used Raspberry Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar)
Pinch of salt


What to do:

Heat the butter in a frypan over medium heat. Fry the mushrooms and the haloumi in the butter (with salt if desired) until the mushrooms are browned and soft and the haloumi is browned and has a crunchy outside.

Spread the pesto over one slice of bread. Add the sliced tomatoes. Cover the tomatoes with the lemon juice and basil.

Top the tomatoes with the fried mushrooms and haloumi. Add the salt and balsamic vinegar.

Place the remaining slice of bread over the top to make a sandwich. Cut in half and serve warm. I serve mine with a mixed potato hash, which is an absolutely delicious side to this sandwich. 


Monday, 8 April 2013

Half Baked 2.0

As many of you have noticed, there have been some changes around here. The new blog design went live on Saturday, and I'm incredibly happy with it.

It was designed by the incredibly talented and wonderfully sweet Diana Hansen of Custom Blog Designs. Diana was not only quick (this was done in the space of about a week and a half), but reasonably priced and very helpful. I sent her what had to be the most garbled outline of what I wanted the design to be and she managed to figure out exactly what I wanted and she managed to do it. She helped me get the cheapest deal possible yet she did not scrimp on the design elements I wanted. She also had to be the nicest designer I contacted and it was so easy to work with her (especially given since we live on opposite sides of the world). If anyone out there is still using Blogger and can't be bothered to change to self-hosting (like me) and wants an update, I would definitely recommend Diana.

I also just want to say that this blog will not be turning into a baking blog. I know there is a lot of mentions of cake around here lately, and I am definitely going to keep on baking, but I am still interested in healthy living and healthy eating and I believe that cake, and all desserts, is necessary to live a healthy and balanced life. I am definitely way better at baking then actually cooking, and I am still going to be trying to healthify baking, which was my original plan on this blog, but there will be some horribly sugar-filled, chocolate desserts as well. 

Now, I wasn't sure what to talk about this week, so here is a list of things I have learnt in the past few weeks:

- High tea is best enjoyed alongside a chocolate buffet (QLDers - this is a real thing. Check out the amazing Stamford Plaza in Brisbane for a chocolate-themed high tea)
- If you fall into a coma, you may wake up to find the zombie apocalypse has taken place. Of course, if you meet someone like Glenn or Darryl as a result of said apocalypse, it wouldn't be so bad.


- Cheesecake brownies are the bomb.
- I will never get sick of watching Pitch Perfect (Rebel Wilson is a genius and the Treblemakers final song is absolutely brilliant).


- The best way to stop stressing is just to take off and run.
- Trance screws with your mind more then Inception. Okay, not really, but you get the picture. It's an intense movie, but a must-see.


- Blog reading takes up way too much of my time.
- Just when you think Grimm is creepy enough, they do a Halloween episode.


- Conditioner always runs out before shampoo.
- I am seriously going to miss all of my holidays when I get to the real working world in 6 months time.

And on that note, I'm off for the day. I am going to get a decent night's sleep, hopefully, and probably do nothing tomorrow. Then I'll get back into my uni work as I only have a few more weeks until my semester is over.