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Home-grown honey and home-made marmalade

It is a good week to be a toast eater in this house. We have a slightly wild mandarin tree here that threw out more fruit than we could handle this winter, so I’ve been making marmalade. When life gives you mandarins, etc. This is the second batch that I’ve made (the first had Cointreau in it — very fancy) and I feel like I’m becoming pretty pro at it now. Especially since I have worked out a nifty little hack to get around the most tedious part of marmalade making: shredding the peel. Our mandarins have a very soft, thin peel, which becomes even softer after cooking, and I discovered that it shreds up quite nicely when given a whiz in my Tupperware Turbo Chef. (Oh wow, could I sound any more Soccer Mom?) Of course it’s not as neat and even as hand-cut peel, but it’s a good shortcut in what is otherwise a very slow-food process.

This is the marmalade recipe that I’ve been using, and it’s a winner.

Anyway, no sooner had I proudly screwed the lids on Marmalade Mark II than I received a kilo of some of the nicest honey I’ve ever tasted. And guess where it came from? Our own block of land. A friend of ours had been trialling a couple of hives of bees on part of our block a few months ago and this was our sweet, sticky kickback. Honey generally tastes pretty great no matter where it comes from, but this has a creamy, mellow flavour that is truly delicious. Who’da thunk a bees with a diet of basically nothing but lantana could produce something so yummy?

So it’s been tea and toast more or less round the clock here these past couple of days. You don’t eat much more local than this!

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You know how there are certain treats that are better bought from the bakery because there’s no way you could create the same deliciousness at home? Well, this is not one of those treats. These buttery, caramelised scrolls are so much better than the regular scrolls you find at mainstream bakeries that they almost shouldn’t be allowed to share a name. Yes, they do take a couple of hours to make but don’t let that deter you; the end result is totally worth it.

 

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Macadamia cinnamon scrolls

 

Makes 8 scrolls

Adapted from The New Zealand Bread Book by Simon and Alison Holst

 

Ingredients

Dough

14 grams (about 2 teaspoons) dried instant yeast

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

25g melted butter

2 cups strong flour

 

Filling

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar

Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

 

Topping

2 tablespoons soft butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

 

Method

Making the dough

Mix the yeast, milk, warm water, sugar, salt and half the flour in a large bowl. Allow to stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes in a warm place.

Add the remaining flour and combine into a dough firm enough to knead. Adjust the texture with a bit more flour or water if necessary.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. You can try using the window pane test to see if you have sufficiently kneaded your dough.

Coat the ball of dough in two teaspoons of neutral oil (strong-flavoured oils such as olive will interfere with the flavour of your dough) in a large bowl. Cover with cling wrap or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size. (I use my microwave — not switched on, of course — as it is a reliably draught-free place)

Shaping

When the dough is nearly ready, prepare a 20cm round cake pan with your Topping ingredients: rub the butter all over the inside of the pan, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and chopped macadamia nuts.

Punch down the dough and roll out to form a rough 30cm square. Gather your Filling ingredients; brush the dough square with the butter, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and chopped macadamia nuts.

Roll up the dough to form a long cylinder, then cut into 8 equal scrolls.

Arrange the 8 scrolls in the cake pan. They won’t fill the space completely yet — this gives them room to rise.

Cover the pan and leave in your warm, draught-free place to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Your scrolls will rise even further during baking.

Baking

Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius.

Place your pan on a baking tray to catch any drips (my scrolls leaked caramel all over my oven the first time I made these!) and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Invert your pan over a plate or board immediately and serve while warm.

 

Serving tip: These scrolls are best served while still warm from the oven, but keep ok for a day or two. (Pfft, as if they will last that long!) Just warm them again in the oven or microwave before serving.

bright and cheerful

Moving into a new house means I’ve got renovation on the brain! These four adorable kitchens are providing some inspiration (if only the bank account could keep up). I love how the one in the picture above is actually quite small and simple, but the bright splashes of colour still make it inviting.

pink fridge

I know that happiness can’t be found in objects, but if it could, I think the object would be a pink Smeg fridge. And maybe a matching KitchenAid.

quaint and rustic

I’m not sure where this kitchen is, but something about the flowers drying from the distressed painted ceiling beams and the way the light falls through the doorway makes me want to believe it is in a farmhouse in Provence.

love green kitchen

I think this one might be my favourite. In fact, you could go so far to say that I… love it. Sorry.

 

Which do you like best? And what do you look for in a kitchen? 

All pictures via Pinterest.

You guys. I know there’s a lot of “best ever brownie recipe” recipes out there, but I really think I might have hit upon the best ever brownie recipe ever. It’s a pimped up version of this one, and I share it with you because something this good should not be kept secret. If I could get to my rooftop I’d shout it from there, but for now this blog will have to do.

Best Ever Brownie Recipe Ever

Ingredients

125g butter

125g best dark chocolate you can get your hands on (I love Whittaker’s Dark Ghana 72% cocoa)

1 cup caster sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Pinch salt/ 10 grinds of rock salt

2/3 cup plain flour

Method

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius and line a square tin with baking paper.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a bowl — the easiest way is to do this in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.

Whisk melty chocolate goodness together with sugars and cocoa until smooth. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Whisk in vanilla and salt, then fold in flour.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For extra delicious, chewy brownies: At the end of the cooking time, turn off the oven, prop the door ajar with a tea towel and allow to cool in the oven.

Another brownie tip: I like to trim the edges off so all of the cut brownies have nice even sides, and put the trimmings in the freezer. I intend to use these trimmings to make brownie ice cream, but usually end up eating them straight out of the freezer when rabid chocolate cravings hit. Either way, they’re delicious.

Christmas has come and gone, but not without plenty of baking and a touch of craftiness in this birdie’s bower. Want to have a look at what I made?

gingerbread house

Our gingerbread house

I’ve always thought it would be cool to make a gingerbread house but never had because I thought it would be too tricky. Well guess what — I was right! It’s hard!

This recipe made a delicious gingerbread but had the wrong (or at least very confusing) dimensions for the house. Couple this with the Queensland heat that was making my dough sticky and hard to work with, and we nearly ended up with just a whole lot of gingerbread stars and ninja bread men… granted, worse things could happen. But then my husband stepped in and redesigned the house and we ended up with a little fairytale cottage after all. Decorating it was lots of fun — how cute is the licorice allsort roof? But the most fun of all was eating it! Can you believe that ginger goes with almost every lolly flavour you can think of?

Christmas tree ornament

Arden's first Christmas

The other lovely craft I managed to squeeze in for Christmas was decorating this cute little Christmas tree ornament. My husband and I were blessed to welcome a little baby girl in September last year, and I wanted to make something to mark her first Christmas with us. I found the sweet little stuffed ornament in a department store and stem-stitching her name and the year on it was a cinch. The trickiest part was trying to find red embroidery floss in any craft store two weeks before Christmas. Obviously the other crafty types out there are more organised than I am.

Hope you had a great Christmas too!

Tea and crumpets, if you please

You think you’ve had crumpets before, right? Wrong. Well, unless you’ve ever made them at home, which is what I did for the first time this morning. The round, uniform crumpets I have previously bought in the supermarket paled in comparison to the fluffy goodness I was able to produce on my own. They weren’t even that hard to make!

I got my recipe here, via the lovely craft-and-whimsy-based blog Meet Me At Mikes. I thought I’d hit a snag when I got all the way to the cooking part of the recipe, only to discover I don’t own egg rings (although I’m certain I have at some point… maybe they fell victim to a ruthless spring cleaning attempt?). After rummaging through all my cupboards and drawers, I came up with Christmas-themed cookie cutters and metal measuring cups. And do you know what? They didn’t do too badly. I made a couple of very cute little star- and bell-shaped crumpets, but the best ones were the ones cooked in the measuring cups — they were round and deep and ever so fluffy.

My notes on the recipe:

  • It’s a good quantity for two people — I think I got about 10 good round crumpets out of it, although it’s always good to have a bit of spare mixture with recipes like this in case you burn or generally munt a couple.
  • The recipe says to cook them on a medium heat, but I think the lower the heat the better. I had my electric cooktop on 1 (out of 3) and they turned out golden brown, but any hotter and they would have scorched before they cooked through
  • Grease whatever moulds you’re using really well. I used spray oil really generously and they slid out without any resistance, but the crumpets are the sort of texture that I don’t think would hold up well to much handling. Also, on greasing, the spray oil was great but I reckon they would have been even delicious-er if I’d used melted butter.
  • Serve with an enormous amount of butter and honey and a cup of tea.

Happy crumping!

I’ve been making my own home-made, toasted muesli for a couple of years now, inspired by both my mum and grandma. The toasted mueslis you buy at the supermarket (and even organic / health food shops) have so much more fat and sugar in them than they need, but the untoasted ones lack that satisfying crunch. So this recipe is my happy medium between the two.

The ingredients vary, depending on my mood and what’s available. The quantities are very fluid — I kind of do it by sight — but I’ve included rough quantities here as an indication.

The cool thing about this muesli is you can put almost any dry ingredient in there that tickles your fancy. Avoid anything “wetter” than dried fruit though, or you may wind up with mouldy muesli. And no one likes that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg rolled oats
  • 250 grams shredded coconut
  • Bag (200 g?) of slivered or flaked almonds or, if you’re feeling indulgent, chopped macadamias
  • Bag (200g?) of chopped dried apricots
  • Box (200g?) of currants
  • Sometimes I also include sunflower seeds and bran sticks

Method:

Heat a saucepan over medium or high heat. One ingredient at a time, lightly toast the oats, coconut and nuts until golden, then place in a large mixing bowl. Be sure not to overtoast, particularly the nuts, as these will continue to cook after you remove them from the heat. It’s not a bad idea to give the pan a quick wipe with a paper towel between each ingredient to avoid little pieces clinging to the inside of the pan and burning. Empty the other ingredients into the same mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

Store in an airtight container for as long as you’re game  to — I’ve never had this muesli go off. But maybe that’s because I eat it too quickly!

Serve with unsweetened Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Yum!