Friday 28 September 2012

Chickpea, Kale and Corn Burritos

As I left for work today there was a clap of thunder, a flash of lightning and the rain poured down.  Just right for my mood.  It has been a sad week.  In our house we have been missing Dolly.  In the news has been the terrible news of Jill Meagher, an Irish woman living in Melbourne who disappeared when walking home from a nightclub.  A week later she was found murdered.  Such a random senseless sad death.

I would take more delight in finding this glorious purple kale, if it were not for it reminding me of the farmers market where Dolly disappeared without a trace.  It is unlike any kale I have seen before.  The kale to which I am accustomed goes by the various names of Tuscan kale, black kale and cavolo nero.  It has stems that are soft enough to eat.  This purple kale looks pretty but the stalks are so tough they must be discarded.

The recipe is adapted from the Chickpea, Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato from Eats Well with Others.  I have been admiring Joanne's picture which I pinned to Pinterest.   My top photo is an homage to a glorious image.  I wish I had had sweet potatoes but used other vegies instead.  I had thought I had some feta to use but it was too wilted.  The cheddar cheese didn't add much.  Some chunks of avocado would have been a better addition.  Despite this, I loved this dish.  It was a satisfying dinner and made wonderful leftovers for work lunches.

Lastly, I have signed up to Vegan Mofo again because I enjoyed it last year.  I swithered about doing it because I was worried I wouldn't have enough time to commit to it.  Then I decided that if I tried to do at least 20 post in the months (rather than every day like I did last year) it was achievable.  It does mean spending time looking at new blogs, which will put the squeeze on visiting my regular blogs.  But you will get to see lots of delicious vegan food.

I have already started experimenting.  Above is a vegan mofo teaser.  Yes it is covered in dairy cheese.  I have a vegan version that I will share soon.  Can you guess what sort of pizza it is?

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Fruit bread
Two years ago: Orange and Almond Cake
Three years ago: Monsalvat Café – rustic charm

Chickpea, Kale and Corn Burritos
Adapted from Eats Well with Others
Serves 4

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 green capsicum, diced
1 zucchini, diced
kernels from 1 cob of corn
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp maple syrup
dash of cayenne pepper
1 bunch kale, destemmed and torn into strips
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 whole wheat soft tortillas
grated cheese (or chopped avocado to make it vegan), to serve
chopped tomatoes, to serve
Heat olive oil in a large frypan and fry onion, carrot, parsnip and garlic for about 10 minutes or until softening.  Add green capsicum, zucchini and corn kernels.  Fry about 5 minutes.  Stir in smoked paprika, salt, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and chicpeas.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes until kale is wilted into dark shadows.

When kale mixture is almost ready, heat a medium frypan over medium high heat.  Spray with olive oil.  Place a tortilla on the frypan for 30 seconds (or until brown heat spots appear on the underside) and then turn and heat on other side for about 30 seconds.

Place warm tortilla on a dinner plate.  Spoon over the kale mixture.  Scatter with grated cheese and chopped tomatoes.  Eat either with the tortilla wrapped around the filling (the messy way) or with a knife and fork (the posh way).

On the Stereo:
Super Trouper: ABBA

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Making Playdough - either stovetop or microwave

Kids love playing with their food. There are times when it seems that they prefer food to be entertaining than tasty.  That is why making playdough is so satisfying.  Sylvia can play with it as much as she likes and I never have to convince her to eat it.  Ok, I admit I occasionally have to convince her not to eat it.  Kids!

I've now made a few batches of playdough for Sylvia.  We've made orange, purple, green and pink.  It is a great opportunity to use some of our food colouring that never seems that healthy in our food.  When it comes to play, bright colours are fun. 

Initially I made the playdough on the stovetop but lately I have been making it in the microwave.  It was so easy to make, that I wondered why I hadn't made it before.  Fortunately my mum has been making it for Sylvia for some time now, just as she made it for me when I was a little girl.

Sylvia loves playdough.  She often will make little things at her kiddie table.  She loves to fill little containers with playdough, she rolls long sausages of playdough, and she makes little morsels of food that end up in her toy frypan and cupcake holders and plastic cups.  She particularly loves to put little things into it.  At one stage her playdough was full of googly eyes that we had bought for craft.  I seem to spend my life putting the playdough away with a lid on it so that it wont dry out.

My mum made some and put hers in a tub that she had bought goats cheese in.  The other day in the supermarket Sylvia was running around with a tub of goats cheese insisting it was playdough.  I've bought some clear containers for Sylvia's playdough.  This is useful now that we have a few different colours.

Today I was in a shop and looked at a 570g set of 4 pots of playdough.  It cost $20.  I haven't calculated the cost of making playdough at home.  Yet I am sure it is far cheaper.  (And I am finally finding a use for my cream of tartar.)  The website where I found this suggested using this for party bags.  A great idea.  What kid doesn't love playdough!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WHB Raspberry Yoghurt Cake
Two years ago: Rice Noodles with Orange
Three years ago: Champion Crackers and Footy Food

From adelyn Stone

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup table salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cream of tarter
about 3-4 capfuls of food colouring

To make on the stovetop:

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan.  The colour will be darker once the mixture is cooked.  It will be quite thin.  When we made the orange batch the mixture looked like tomato soup.

2. Heat over medium heat.  Stir constantly because it will stick to the bottom of the saucepan.  You will need a strong stirring arm as it cooks.  Keep stirring in the looser mixture at the top until the mixture is quite thick. 

3. Transfer onto a board once it comes together into an ugly blob. Knead until smooth.  The first time I did this, I had to knead in some flour because it was a bit sticky.  The next time I let it get a little drier.  It will be quite soft when kneading the warm dough.  As it cools down, the playdough will firm up a bit.

4. Keep in an airtight container.  The huge amount of salt will keep it for a long time, so long as it doesn't dry out.

To make in the microwave:

Follow part 1 of the instructions for Making on the Stovetop, but put ingredients together in a medium microwave-proof bowl.

Microwave for about 6 minutes (my microwave is not very powerful so if your microwave is more powerful you may need less time).  I stirred mine after 2 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, 5 1/2 minutes and by 6 minutes I was too impatient to wait longer.  It needs a good stir regularly as it cooks around the edges far quicker than in the middle.  I found it harder in the microwave to guess when it was ready so I timed it the second time I did this.

Update: a fun variation is to add glitter - here is an example of glitter playdough.

On the stereo:
Way to Blue: an introduction to Nick Drake

Sunday 23 September 2012

Polenta parmesan thyme crackers and vale Dolly

It has been a week of misadventure.  The easiest way to tell you is to share what I have learnt.  If a fire starts in the back lane, call the police.  If the traffic jams are horrendous, park the car by the pool, walk home and pick up the car later.  If you are changing the camera lens, make sure it is firmly screwed in before picking it up.  If your 3 year old has a new stick of lip balm, keep her away from the computer.  If dinner is late, make crackers.  If you are visiting a farmers market, keep an eye on Dolly.

Regular readers of this blog will be quite familiar with Dolly and her hijinks.  She has been sister, friend, baby and constant companion to Sylvia for almost 2 years.  That is forever for a 3 year old.  Much easier to understand than the idea that Dolly is lost and gone forever.  We looked and looked and retraced our foosteps countless times.  We asked around and found a number to ring.  Finally we went home empty handed.

We are all very sad without Dolly.  She might have been so naughty on occasion that she had to be sent out of the room, but she made Sylvia so happy.  She would wait in the car for Sylvia to come out of child care and it was a joy to see my little girl's face light up as She saw her Dolly.  She snuggled up in bed with Sylvia last thing at night and bounced around with her first thing in the morning.  She helped put chia seeds in the smoothies, she banged on the computer, she jumped up and down, she had hair ties in her bonnet, and she made funny baby noises.  She will be missed.

Perhaps it was the need of comfort that finally made me bake these Polenta Parmesan and Thyme Crackers from Fuss Free Cooking that I recently bookmarked on Pinterest.  As soon as I saw the recipe I knew I needed to make them.  I had bought Parmesan and not used it as intended.  The thyme is going crazy in the garden.  And I just love polenta.

The recipe was quite easy once I managed to get all the groceries away, and got Sylvia's dinner and had told our neighbour about why there were firemen stomping through our kitchen late at night.  Like everything in my life, they took longer than intended. 

I love make crackers but often find that they don't get really crisp.  These did.  In fact the golden brown ones at the bottom of the photo look overcooked.  Yet they were the crispest.  I took mine out a couple of time, even forgot some while taking photos, and they were far better for a bit of colour.

I am sending these crackers to Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes for Bookmarked Recipes, an event founded by Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Sylvia loves halva flapjack, carob cake and apricot slice
Two years ago: Collingwood Cupcakes
Three years ago: Green Home, Green Houses

Polenta parmesan thyme crackers
Slightly adapted from Fuss Free Cooking
Makes about 100 crackers

150g white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
100g polenta
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium large mixing bowl.   Add olive oil and integrate with dry ingredients - ie break up clumps as much as possible.  Gradually stir in water until mixture comes together into a ball of dough.

Knead dough with some flour until you have a supple ball of dough that is neither too dry nor too sticky.  (NB I used a bit more flour than I needed and had to add a little extra water to make the mixture supple again, so I advise only using a small amount of flour unless your dough is very sticky.)

Cut dough into two pieces.  Roll out one half of the dough as thinly as possible (no more than 1/4 of a cm) with a rolling pin and a little flour.  Then cut into squares or whatever shapes you fancy.  Repeat with second half of the dough.  I rolled mine on a sheet of baking paper, cut the squares and then transferred the crackers on the baking paper onto a baking tray.

Bake for 10-20 minutes until golden brown around the edges.  (I think it took me 20 minutes but I had to return them to the oven a couple of times.  It took Emily at Fuss Free Cooking about 7-10 minutes - I am sure her oven isn't as slow as mine).

Cool on a wire rack and keep in an airtight container.

Update 7/10/2012 - I made these again with chickpea flour instead of white bread flour and added a tbsp of pysllium husk powder - the mixture was a little more fragile but basically worked just as well.  Crackers were great and gluten free.

On the stereo:
A short album about love: The Divine Comedy

Friday 21 September 2012

Awards and my ABC of photography

I have been remiss in acknowledging a couple of awards that I was sent a few months back.  As I have done many memes, I often like to given them a theme to avoid going over old ground.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about photographs so it seemed an obvious focus.

Mel from Veganise This awarded me a Food Stories Nominee award.  The award requires me to share a random fact about myself.

I remember my oldest sister's first ever photo.  My mum has on a green corduroy maternity dress.  Sylvia was taking photos by the time she was 2 year old.  My sister was much older but she must have been no more than 10 years old.  I thought she was very grown up to be using a camera.  I can't remember my first photo.  I just know that I didn't take many photos until I had my own camera.  I was probably around 16 years old.

The second award is the ABC Awesome Blog Content Award from Katie of Apple and Spice.  This one asks me to jot down some random facts about myself, one for every letter of the alphabet!  I did an ABC of me a few months back and it was fun.  I never say no to a nerdy wordy challenge so I decided to redo it with a new angle.  Photography.

a - Aperture - I play with it a little but still find it confusing
b - Blurry - usually in my hall of shame but occasionally I love some blur in a photo
c - Canon - I think I am now on my third or fourth Canon camera
d - Depth of field - I am experimenting with this
e - Exposure - not always easy, especially if I use manual rather than auto focus
f - Filter - very handy for protecting the lens (in most cases)
g - Google search by image - upload an image and see where else it is stored (or stolen) online
h - Hands - I don't like putting photos of faces on my blog but I find hands expressive
i - ISO - I don't understand this much but I play with it occasionally
j - Jargon - photography has its fair share
k - 'Kodak moment' - these are so much more common than they used to be
l - Lens - I have three for my DSLR - it seems both excessive and exciting
m - Macro lens - my newest toy - and I am loving it!
n - Natural light - it really does produce the best photos
o - Occasion - what is an occasion without photos!
p -Props - I seem to accumulate more and more
q - Quick - when Sylvia is 'helping', speed is of the essence
r - Reflections - frustrating when this comes from the fluorescent light in my kitchen
s - Strap - I love using mine, especially when I am paranoid I will drop the camera
t - Tripod - I bought one early in the year but have only just started to use it occasionally
u - Upload - I regularly upload images to my computer.  I rarely print them but make photo books occasionally
v - Viewfinder - I use the old fashioned viewfinder with my camera rather than the electronic screen
w - White balance - I have finally learnt what it is but I still find it hard to achieve
x - X-rated - the words I uttered after a bottle of water spilled over my last camera
y - Yousuf Karsh - a great portrait photographer
z - Zoom lens - excellent for keeping out of people's way and for the great outdoors

Thanks Mel and Katie.  Awards with memes are always fun.  Unfortunately I don't have the energy to pass on awards right now.  But you are welcome to take part in the ABC challenge if it tickles your fancy.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

NCR Stew with vegan parmesan - and springtime photos

I wish more trees wore jumpers.  Doesn't this tree look so cheerful.  (Apologies Mother Nature.  I love your work.)  I have been driving past it on the way to work for quite some time now.  I finally took a photo a few days ago.  Just as well.  The jumper has suddenly been cast off.  It is Spring after all.

I am a bit slower to throw off the wintery stews.  They are still appearing in our kitchen.  My mum brought me some kale from her garden.  I just didn't know what to do with it.  I found a couple of soups that helped guide me: Kale Quinoa and Black Bean Soup and Sweet Potato Corn and Kale Chowder

The resulting soup wasn't brilliant.  In fact I might not have posted it if not for the vegan parmesan.  It enhanced the soup like the knitting brightens the above tree.  Merely giving you a work in progress soup seems mean so I am also sharing some random photos.

I was pleased to have an opportunity to get out and take some photos around North Carlton last week.  Hence the tree photo at the top.  This photo above is of some Spring blossoms.  I have been having a lovely time with my new macro lens.  The hardest thing with having three lens for my DSLR is changing lens as I try and work out which lens is best for each setting.

From Spring to the Winter of my Disrepair.  I would be sad at the decay of this old terrace house if I wasn't delighting at its beauty.   Perhaps the ugly modern block of flats next to it, has made this place let go of itself in despair!

This week (in Melbourne) Dr Who had fun with Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.  Meanwhile on Planet Earth we have dinosaurs on a bicycle.  What better mural to have on the wall of a bike shop!

And lastly here is our own garden.  My mum gave us some parsley a few months ago.  It has suddenly flourished, unlike other parsley plants that have never taken off.  The thyme is also doing well in the green pot.  Of course a wombat garden guardian helps, even if the little cat is too sleepy to assist.

I love having thyme and rosemary as my hardy perenniels in the garden.  Whenever I make vegetable stock I cut a handful of herbs to throw in.  In preparation for making the soup, I made a batch of freezer scraps stock

I'd like to say that home made stock made sure that soup was a success.  Unfortunately no!  I overcooked the cabbage, beans and quinoa.  (What a waste of hard-to-find black beans!)  The components all became too much mush rather than interesting textural elements.  In the recipe below I have made some changes to try and made amends.  I have called it a stew even though it was really meant to be a soup.

Far more successful was the vegan parmesan.  It was adapted from Dreena Burton's Let Them Eat Vegan.  I was sure I had tried vegan parmesan before on the blog but I could not find one reference.  This one was fantastic.  I probably could have ground the almonds more but I quite liked a bit of chunk in them.  Dreena oven roasted her parmesan but I fried this because I just didn't have the patience to wait that long for dinner.  This parmesan gave the stew the salty and sharp cheesiness that the stew needed.  Perhaps it means I needed more seasoning in the stew.

I am sending this soup to Lisa for No Croutons Required.  This month the theme is vegan soups or salads. I fear this month's offering is not as fine as last months which was awarded a prize by Jacqueline.  (Thanks Jac and Lisa.)

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: PPN: Meaty Cauliflower and Walnut Lasagne
Two years ago: Green Tambourine Cafe
Three years ago: Simple Feta and Tomato Supper
Four years ago: Pudla – for when your team lets you down!

Kale Potato and Quinoa Stew
Inspired by Whitely Creek and Whole Foods
serves 5-6

2-3 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/4 cabbage, finely sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
4 medium potatoes, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
1 generous tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried wild garlic (or 2 crushed garlic cloves)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
2/3 cup dried quinoa
bunch of kale, chopped
1 tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tin borlotti beans, rinsed and drained

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a stockpot.  Fry onions, carrots, parsnip and celery for about 5 minutes.  Add cabbage and cook another 5 minutes.  It should be translucent but not cooked through.

Add vegetable stock, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomato paste, garlic, smoked paprika and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add quinoa and kale.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until quinoa is cooked.

Stir through beans and heat through.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.  Serve with vegan parmesan.

Vegan Parmesan
Adapted from Let Them Eat Vegan

1/2 cup raw almonds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt

Finely chop almonds in the food processor.   Mix with remaining ingredients.  Dry fry on a non stick frypan for about 5-10 minutes or until lightly golden (but not brown).

On the Stereo:
A Secret History: the best of the Divine Comedy

Tuesday 18 September 2012

WHB Spicy pea curry

Oh joy when Pinterest inspires a meal that is as delicious as the photo is pretty!  Especially when it is a curry.  I just don't make enough of them.  This recipe for Spicy Pea Curry was a simple matter of cooking peas in a puree of tomatoes, onions and spices.  I made it more complicated.  Yet it was still fairly straight forward compared to other curries I have made

Dinner needs to be simple when I am distracted by a wet Dolly and a bold Sylvia who thinks she is old enough to stand on a chair and stir the curry by herself.  Even so, I had dinner made by a reasonable hour.  I served the Spicy Pea Curry with Aloo Jeera (cumin potatoes) and quinoa.  The curry was a little sweet on its own.  (When I re-read the recipe I saw that I had used less salt, but I suspect the real culprit was too much coconut milk.)  With these sides it was brilliant.  E adored this meal.  He said it didn't taste like an Indian curry.  Not your bog standard curry!

Not only was tonight's dinner deliciously spicy and taste, but Sylvia delighted me by enjoying her quinoa.   I insisted she taste some.  We had talked about the clumps looking like flowers.  She  took a mouthful and told me it was 'yucky' but took another when I asked her to and again it was 'yucky'.  After a few spoonfuls she asked for more.  Hurrah!  Mind you, I have had her refuse it on other nights so possibly she will refuse it again.  However when she makes a small step with food tasting, it gives me hope she will eat a yummy curry like this one day.

I am sending this curry to Siri of Cooking with Siri who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging #352, the weekly event coordinated by Haalo and founded by Kalyn.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Gleegan blueberry cake pops for a potluck
Two years ago: SHF Chocolate Crackle Top Biscuits
Three years ago: MM Heirloom Ginger Fluff Sponge
Four years ago: Fridge Door Confessions

Spicy Pea Curry
Adapted from Love Food Eat
Serves 4

1-2 tsp oil (I used canola)
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp chilli paste
400g tin of diced tomatoes
270ml lite coconut cream (I might use half this next time)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp stock powder
2 cups fresh or frozen peas

Heat oil and fry shallots and celery for about 5 minutes.  The celery wont be soft but the shallots should smell great.  Stir in garlic, turmeric, cumin and chilli paste for a minute.  Add tinned tomatoes, coconut cream, salt and stock powder.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add peas and simmer an additional 20 minutes.

On the Stereo:
At the Movies: Ennio Morricone

Sunday 16 September 2012

Pumpkin, corn and feta salad and my weekend

I bought my first ever packet of hemp seeds yesterday.  Then I set about finding some recipes to use them.  I decided to make a version of Angela's Speedy Summer Hemp Power Salad.  I roasted pumpkin, used whatever was in my fridge and forgot to add hemp seeds.  It didn't have much resemblance to Angela's salad but it was tasty.  Before telling you about it, here is a little wander through my weekend.

Yesterday we went to Fitzroy Market.  As we boarded the train, I did a headcount and found that Dolly was missing.  E hopped off at the next station and travelled back to find her at the station master's office.  Dolly came along to the market and had her face painted.

Sylvia and I had a vegetarian sausage in bread and a cupcake.  Sylvia chose a pink iced cupcake and I had the last vegan oreo cupcake.  (But not the last vegan cupcake.)

We listened to a choir and the ukelele collective.  We met friends.  Sylvia's friend Amelia came along.  They played hide and seek and ran around the stalls at the speed of light.  I wandered around the stalls with Heather and picked up a few trinkets.

Later we went to Pastry Art Design in Smith Street for a snack with Heather.  I had a chocolate bombolini.  Very nice (though not as good as those at Sugardough).  Then we hurried home for our house has needed a considerable amount of attention this weekend.

Last night we had to change a lightbulb (sounds simple but not when you have to wrangle with a 1960s fitting that had me heading out to the hardware store for tools) and put together a flatpack set of shelves.  This meant that this morning we could shift around furniture in Sylvia's bedroom and organise her toys in the ever-present quest for more storage space.

Re-organisation usually means chaos before order reigns.  A lunch break at Little Deer Tracks was just what we needed.  The courtyard with its colourful painting is conducive to relaxing time-out.  I had the carrot and haloumi fritters with tzatziki and an avocado and cucumber salad.  Sylvia had the baked beans and a hash brown.  E had the nachos.  All good food.  As I feared Sylvia was not keen on the home made version, preferring her baked beans from a tin.  My fritters were crispy and puffy but I prefer them more dense.  E loved his nachos, which were rather substantial.

After the big lunch, I was glad to have some leftover pizza for dinner.  It just needed some vegetables.  Last night when I made pizza, we had some vegetable sticks with hummus for an appetiser before the pizza.  Tonight, I whipped up a salad with some old pumpkin and feta from the fridge.  If I had had tomatoes and green leaves, I might have added them. 

The pumpkin roasted while I cleaned up and E played with Sylvia outside.  I didn't have an avocado for my dressing like Angela so I made up the dressing.  It didn't have quite the tartness that I was after but the spring onions gave some bite.  The salad was put together without much reference to the recipe that I was supposedly following.  Hence my omission of the hemp seeds.  I am looking forward to trying them out another time.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: If music be the food ...(reprise)
Two years ago: PPN Pea lasagne
Three years ago: NCR Lemony Mediterranean Salad
Four years ago: Hobart Highlights

Pumpkin, corn and feta salad
serves 2-3

1 cup roasted pumpkin chunks
1/2 cup corn kernels (mine were tinned)
1 cucunber, diced
1/2 large green capsicum, diced
2 spring onons, finely sliced
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp raspberry vinegar
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp seeded mustard
sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese

Mix everything except feta.  Taste and adjust flavours.  (I didn't add any seasoning but it may be required.)  Serve scattered with feta.

On the stereo:
(Michael Winterbottom's) Wonderland soundtrack - Michael Nyman

Friday 14 September 2012

Strawberry cupcakes

I was relieved that I had the energy to bake these cupcakes.  They were made at the end of a busy day of reorganising Sylvia's room, sorting old clothes, washing the sheets, getting the car serviced and going out to lunch with my mum.  All done following a long day at an interstate meeting.  (I still haven't recovered from a 5.30am start!)  The key was that I had leftover white chocolate and cream cheese frosting from the pina colada cake.  And it was Dolly's birthday.  Again!

The recipe presented itself without much problem.  I needed a fairly plain cupcake.  Strawberries prices have plummeted to bargain levels.  (The glut might please the consumer but not the strawberry farmers.)  When I asked Sylvia what sort of cake she wanted, she chose strawberry.  So we were agreed.

I had found a recipe in the colourful Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagnman.  I didn't follow the recipe precisely.  Almond meal and wholemeal flour replaced some of the white flour.  Brown sugar replaced the castor sugar, and was reduced.  Soy milk and lemon replaced the buttermilk.

I was surprised at the recipe claiming it made 12 cupcakes and yet it made 12 muffin sized cakes and 11 mini muffins sized cakes.  In my day cupcakes were called little cakes or fairy cakes and were far smaller than muffins.  Perhaps they are called cupcakes because they are lighter than muffins.  They are really quite plain cakes with a few juicy pockets of strawberries.  Perfect for icing.

We baked the cakes just before dinner.  While they baked, Sylvia and I enjoyed the last of the daylight on the front verandah.  She was bouncing around with Dolly on a little plastic chair.  Imagine her surprise when the chair collapsed under her.  Fortunately her friend Gordon came to visit with his mum at that point.  It distracted her from tears and stopped my giggles.

After dinner we decorated the cupcakes.  As I have said before, I am not really into iced cakes.  In fact I left the last batch of cream cheese frosting so long I had to throw it out.  I think that is why I thought I should use this one up fairly quickly.  And Sylvia does love icing and sprinkles.  She had pleaded for me to buy some cupcake papers and flags from the supermarket for Dolly's birthday.

We had fun with the decorating.  They are lovely cupcakes, though plainer than I really like.  (Quite a few have gone into the freezer.)  My frosting has become quite soft after a couple of days.  I suspect the cupcakes might last better without frosting.  Probably my preferred way to eat them.  Or just spread with some cream cheese and more fresh strawberries.   Maybe these cupcakes need more experiments.  After all strawberries are cheap and plentiful right now.

I am sending these cupcakes to the Calendar Cakes challenge.  It is hosted by Laura of Laura Loves Cakes (supported by her partner in baking, Rachel of Dolly Bakes.  This month the theme is Cupcakes in honour of the UK's National Cupcake Week.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Matthews delicious tofu - another familiar recipe
Two years ago: MLLA Holiday Pasties
Three years ago: Fruit scones, yellow and uncertainty
Four years ago: NCR: Spring Strawberry Soup

Strawberry cupcakes
Adapted from Gail Wagman's Cupcakes Galore
Makes 12 muffin sized and 11 mini muffin sized

2 tsp lemon juice
230ml soy milk
185g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g ground almonds
100g wholemeal plain flour
175g white flour
120g brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
175g strawberries, chopped
White chocolate cream cheese frosting and sprinkles for decoration if desired

Place the lemon juice in a small bowl (or a 240 cup measure) and top with soy milk (my cup measure is 250ml so I guessed at the 240ml mark).  Set aside for 5-10 minutes for the lemon to sour the milk - it will become quite lumpy.

Preheat the oven to 180 C and use paper cases to line a 12 cup muffin pan and 11 mini muffin pan.

Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave in a heat proof mixing bowl.  Stir in soured milk, eggs and vanilla.  Gently stir in dry ingredients and then fold in strawberries.

Fill cupcake cases with mixture.  (The recipe actually said to fill the cases 2/3 so you could make more smaller cupcakes if you wished.)  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Ice and decorate if desired.

On the stereo:
Buenos Airies Tango: Astor Piazzolla