Monday, April 26, 2010

Easy Carrot Cakes & Sausage Rolls

Jared has been working on a huge project at work for three years.  Project Harry.   Our business is getting in a new computer program and Jared has worked as the consultant who has told the computer designers what we need the program to do and then test it to make sure they've done the right thing.  It has been full on!  So many hours, so many disasters, many stressful sleepless nights; plus so much discipline and dedication has been required from Jared - but he has handled it so gracefully. I am so proud of him.  As far as I am concerned, he is Superman!  So tomorrow is "Go Live".  The new program is turned on for the 400 staff and we jump in at the deep end. 

Today is a public holiday in Adelaide but Jared and his team are working all day and into the night to test the system.  It's such beautiful morning right now - I know he'd give anything to be on the golf course.  So yesterday I baked a big batch of carrot cake cup cakes to send in to work to keep everyones spirits up while they work on a public holiday.  I was a little concerned at how these cakes would taste as they require 2/3 cup of olive oil.  My parents have their own Olive Oil company and the oil is phenomenal but I thought perhaps not the best flavoured oil for baking sweets.  It has a real grassy after taste and when I tasted the batter all I could taste was grass!  But after being cooked there was no trace of grassiness.  Just fluffy carrot and walnut.  I'm very pleased with the flavour -although I broke nana's number one rule - don't open the oven door when baking because everything will deflate.  And deflate they did.  The oven has no light!!! I needed to see how they were going.  So that was disappointing but the creamy icing certainly made up for it!

I also made sausage rolls.  Loads of them!!! Normally I do a really fancy method with all sorts of gourmet sauces and spices.  This time I did stock standard sausage rolls and I actually think they are the best I've ever done. 

Carrot Cakes
125 g self-raising flour

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup Olive Oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups finely grated carrot
60 g roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180.  Roughly chop the walnuts.Grate the carrots in a whizzer.
In a bowl, add the flour, sugar and the spices. Add the oil and the eggs and then beat them up with an electric mixer for about 1 minute.Now stir in carrot and walnuts.  Pour into approx 20 patty pans. Bake until golden brown, approx 20 minutes. Let them cool.

Mix about 120g of Philadelphia cream cheese, with 60g melted butter and 250g icing sugar.
Spread over the cakes.

Sausage Rolls

1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g sausage mince
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chicken salt
1 teaspoon tabasco
5 sheets frozen, ready rolled puff pastry, thawed
egg to glaze
sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcious.  Lightly grease a baking tray.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over low heat until soft and transparent.  Transfer to a bowl and mix with teh mince, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce and egg.

Lay the pastry sheets on a lightly floured board and cut each sheet into two strips.  Divide the filling into equal portions and spoon across the long edge of the pastry.  Roll up to make a long sausage shape.  Brush lightly with the egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Cut the rolls into 4cm lengths and place on the tray, seam side down. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until rolls are golden.  Serve with tomato sauce.

NOTE:  Sausage rolls can be frozen for up to 2 weeks after baking.  Thaw and reheat in a preheated moderate oven 180 degrees celcious for 30 minutes.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vegetable Soup with Bacon Bones - AND A NEW KITCHEN!!!

The Kitchen is complete!!  It took a while and quite a bit of stuffing around, a replacement bench top because the one they originally installed was cracked, and the tiler having to come back several times but it is done!  The walls need a bit of paint and there's a hole where the old exhaust fan was but one of Jared's mates is doing that for us next week.  I've never loved being in the kitchen so much.  It's all mine!

Below are the before and after pictures.

So it has been a very boozy few weeks.  We have had birthdays and bucks shows and farewells, we went to Tasmania for four days over Easter to visit Jared's dad; and today we have a wedding.  So last weekend I decided to make a huge pot of vegetable soup so Jared and Jay could fill up on nutrients before heading off to a bucks show and a fourth evening of drinking.  Jared taught me that the secret to a great vegetable soup is to use bacon bones.  You just drop two of them in, cook it all for a few hours and at the end the meat shreds off the bone and you leave it in the soup.  It creates such a comforting, smoky flavour.  Pure bliss.  We polished this soup off over a few days with crusty bread and butter.

All veg diced finely:
2 potatoes
1 sweet potato
2 carrots
3 sticks celery
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 turnip
2 parsnips
1/2 cabbage
1 zucchini
1 head brocolli
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 large container vegetable stock
1 large container chicken consomme
2 bacon bones

Fry the onion and garlic off in some olive oil.  Once soft, add the rest of the vegetables.  Fry off until they begin to collapse and soften.  Add the stocks and 2 bacon bones.  Cover with a lid and simmer on low for at least four hours.  Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Traditional Beef Daube with Aligot Mash

Jared's best mate Jay has moved back to Australia after living in Bristol for 6 years.  He is staying with us until he can find a job, a home and get back on his feet.  It must be so surreal for him to be back in Adelaide after being away for so long, so I'm thoroughly enjoying feeding and pampering him and making him feel cosy.  So for his first Sunday night back I decided to cook something extra special.  I have made this dish once before but I remember getting rather intoxicated with my friend Frances while we made it and I never took photos.  I do remember it tasting amazing and Jared, who was sober - assures me that it was.  I was always so disappointed I didn't get to post it on the blog and Jay's arrival home was the perfect excuse to make it again!

I had my first fight with my new oven when I made this Beef Daube! I was so hungry and so eager to feed the boys that I put it on nice and early so we could eat at around 6pm.  After over 2 hours of slow cooking I took it out to have a look.  To my absolute horror the pot was barely warm.  I had set the oven on DEFROST rather than fan forced. I had to get the manual out before I could figure out what I had done wrong.  So in it went again, for another 3 hours...    By the time I served it I think the boys were very grateful.  They loved it.  Jay was very impressed and I was chuffed.  I didn't eat any of mine.  By the time I served it Laura had come over with a bottle of wine and I was more interested in that. 

The next night, Jared and I arrived home from work and we were starving.  I whacked my serve of Beef Daube in the microwave and we both sat eating out of the same bowl with two forks while swapping stories about our day's.  It was very romantic actually.

P.S. The Aligot Mash is amazing.  So French and creamy and moreish.  It really does compliment the dish and I'd very much recommend doing it!