Tag Archives: dessert

Nigella’s Nutella Cake Revisited.

Nigella Lawson is a legend in the kitchen…the original “Domestic Goddess”.

Sadly, we mere mortals can only dream of finding a magic wand to convert our TV dinners, burnt offerings and tinned spaghetti on toast, into something out of the pages of her cookbooks.

Actually, I’m not a bad cook. Indeed, I am renowned for my pavlova, pancakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies and roast dinners. I’ve even successfully tackled Jamie Oliver’s Lasagna.  Moreover, I’ve also been teaching my kids to cook and I must admit, they’ve also been teaching me. I’m not that arrogant to believe that this teaching the kids stuff is a one-way street. I learn a lot too.

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Nigella’a Nutella Cake with Rowena’s Raspberry Cream.

 

However, my trouble is with consistency, which more and more, I’m also attributing to NOT being in the Masterchef kitchen. I know you’re probably thinking that only a bad cook blames their appliances but you just tell me the last time you saw frozen eggs appear in the Masterchef kitchen? That’s right…NEVER!!!

Indeed, I had NEVER EVER seen frozen eggs before either. By the way, when I say frozen eggs, I’m not talking about the ingredients of an IVF stew. Rather, I’m taking about raw hen’s eggs. I store our eggs in the fridge and somehow the temperature control had been moved and we had frozen eggs. Not all of them, just a few. When I cracked them open, they’d turned into sloppy ice cubes and couldn’t be used..especially for Nigella’s cake, which  was built on fluffy egg white. After all, I could hardly separate the yolk from the white when they were fused together in an amorphous blog of ice. Moreover, freezing destroyed the cell membranes. So, even once the eggs finally defrosted, they were completely useless and looked in need of Viagra. I’ll say no more.

So, when I blame my cooking disasters on my appliances, I’m not just making excuses. It’s true!

Nigella Nutella Cake

“The Avalanche”…My first Attempt at Nigella”s Nutella Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache.

Indeed, I think there’s some kind of appliance mutiny or rebellion going on in my kitchen and it’s spreading beyond the fridge. In what might seem an unlikely union of forces, the fridge is in cahoots with the oven.

You see, our oven has a faulty fan. That same fan makes your oven “fan-forced”, which makes quite a difference to the temperature of your oven and cooking times. Moreover, when the fan isn’t working, it also means that your food doesn’t cook evenly and horror of horrors, you might need to open the oven door and turn things around. If you know anything at all about baking cakes, especially sponges, you’ll know that opening the oven door is the kiss of death, which deflates your lofty sponge faster than a speeding bullet.

Just to complicate things further, our oven fan sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t and turns itself on and off during a bake.

Clearly, that oven is not my friend.

So, with a faulty oven and frozen eggs, for a second time I set out to replicate Nigella’s Nutella Cake. I don’t know whether you’d say I was brave or crazy because even before I’d melted the chocolate or whipped up the egg whites, there was trouble. While all those motivation types would tell me: “Never give up” BUT haven’t they heard of what’s meant to be? Or, more pertinently, that something “wasn’t meant to be”.

Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s being a a quitter or a loser when you decide to stop banging your head against a brick wall and try something else. Use a lateral approach. Everybody’s different. We’re not all meant to fit into the one, same pair of shoes.

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Our son smothered his slice with Nutella. Found the cake too bitter. That was without the icing. Neither of our kids like dark chocolate.

The other problem I had with Nigella’s Nutella Cake is that my kids didn’t like it. My son slathered his slice in Nutella to mask the “bitter” taste and my daughter didn’t eat it. Even though the cake does have Nutella in it, which my kids absolutely adore, it also has dark chocolate which they can’t stand. Based on their comments, I’d say it’s more of an adult cake and even then, you only need small portions. It’s quite rich. I also felt it I needed raspberries and cream in addition to the generous covering of whole roasted hazlenuts found in Nigella’s original. She also recommends eating it with a glass of Frangelico and perhaps I should have tried that, but it was a busy night.

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I hope half of this is still in the fridge. I’m feeling sick just looking at all that Nutella….even though I really love it!

So, at this stage, I don’t know whether I will make Nigella’s Nutella Cake again…even with my modifications. Most of my cooking is for our family and I can’t see the point of going to so much trouble to make a cake my kids don’t like when there are other cakes and desserts we all enjoy such as Apple Crumble with fresh custard.

Although the recipe says it’s easy, you’re separating eggs, whisking egg whites by hand, melting chocolate, using two separate bowls…that’s a lot of fiddling around and cleaning up for one cake, which I still haven’t been able to perfect on my second attempt. This time, the cake was good but the icing was still runny.

Still, my husband and I enjoyed it.

On a more positive note, I’ve just returned for a second piece 24 hours later and really loved the cake…with or without the cream and will be making it again. The cake much much more moist. The icing had set and it was a great flourless hazlenut chocolate cake. Something I really would be proud to serve for guests. With Masterchef gracing the airwaves, that’s quite an endorsement.

Perhaps, I am a Domestic Goddess after all and my spirit is soaring… on chocolate wings!

My baking no longer human. It’s divine.

xx Rowena

PS I will be posting the recipe in my next post.

 

 

 

 

My Affair With A Chocolate Mookie.

Yesterday, I met my chocolate Adonais and fell deeply in love. Indeed, staring doe-eyed at his lush sensual exquisiteness, it was love at first sight. I was swooning.

Of course, I couldn’t dream of taking a bite and spoiling such untouched perfection straight away. Or, heaven forbid, brutally stab it with my fork.

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Meeting My Mookie.

Oh no! I had to wait.Soak it all up with my eyes.

A flawlessly smooth, dark chocolate dome with a purple pansy on top and a smattering of magic gold dust, I was in love. Not Tim Tam love, which I experience almost every night with my evening cup of decaf tea. No, this was something inter-galactic. A wild, unrestrained passion, which sent all of my senses into overdrive.

Indeed, my passion was so strong, that I even started to question myself. Blown away by feelings so far beyond lust, attraction and soul mates created in the same forge, I felt such a strong vibe between us. Yet, I am a married woman…a married woman with two kids, two dogs and a home. I had a lot at stake.

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So, naturally I had to wonder whether my love for this luscious chocolate creation called a “Mookie”, equated to a betrayal of my sacred marriage vows. Had I committed the ultimate, unforgivable sin? Me who puts such weight on the importance of good character and holds the Golden Rule as my personal holy grail? Would I now be going direct to hell, without so much as a stop at Go to collect my $200?

It was starting to look that way.

Yet, as I said, I still hadn’t taken a bite. I hadn’t actually crossed that line.

Then, my cappuccino arrived.

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It’s a sign….love on a cappuccino.   Photo: Rowena Newton.

That’s when I knew it was love. Not lust, fancy or a momentary lapse of reason but the real thing. There was a heart etched in the foam. It was a sign! We were going to be together forever and ever living happily ever after.

However, if our relationship was really going to kick off, I couldn’t keep sitting there goggle-eyed. I had to make a move, even if it ultimately meant my lover’s death, as we fused together becoming one flesh.

I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I could feel myself diving through his lush chocolate sweetness in the same way I’d paddled through that chocolate river as a kid watching Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It was an out of body experience.

Adonais, who in real life goes by the name Mookie, could well be described as “a work of art”. However, paint never tasted this good. I savoured each delicate mouthful and then, as I’d long suspected, Mookie had a heart…a heart of rich, red tangy raspberry gel.

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Mookie’s Beautiful heart.   Photo: Rowena Newton.

What more could a woman want?

By the way, while I’m delving into Mookie’s anatomical details, I should also mention that he sits on a biscuit base, known as a chocolate sable (I cheated and had to ask. When it comes to food writing, I am very much a novice and could well have described it as a “whatsy-me-call-it” or “thinga-me-gig”). If you have ever watched Masterchef, then you’ll know that a sensational dessert has to have sweetness, creaminess, tang to cut through as well as that all important “crunch”. So, the biscuit provided the crunch, although I thought I also detected a subtle touch of crunch in the mouse but couldn’t be sure.

Naturally, when you fall so deeply in love, you want to spend the rest of your life together. Say “I do”. Walk down the aisle and head off together on the ultimate chocolate honeymoon.

However, I’m a married woman and there’s the added complication of my kids. How could I possibly run away from home? Leave Geoff and the kids, not to mention the two dogs, behind? Trade all of that in for a Mookie? Or, to to be precise, a succession of Mookies. After all, one Mookie could never be enough.

That was when reality threw quite a spanner in the works and I had to wake up.

So, that was it. I had to leave Mookie behind. Be responsible and call it quits. Of course, our final adieu was filled with such anguish but I took a deep breath and made the break. Toughened up.

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Delectable Delights!         Photo: Rowena Newton.

However, before heading home, I had to atone for my sins. Sorry, Mookie. I didn’t take you with me. Wanting to try more of the selection, I bought a Mango Yuzu (a mango mouse) and a Tiramisu for the family (which, of course, included me!)

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Heaven on Earth.

After all, the family would have killed me once I confessed to going to Koi, a dessert bar in Sydney’s urban Chippendale, not far from Central Station, and didn’t bring anything home.

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                Reynold Poernomo                                                  Photo: Rowena Newton

While you could wonder how my kids know anything about a dessert bar in urban Sydney, Koi is owned by the family of Reynold Poernomo who we all fell in love with on Masterchef 2015. Reynold made the most exquisite desserts, which totally tantalized my tastebuds. Indeed, I found out about Koi when Reynold returned to the show last week and the contestants had to make his dessert: “Moss”.

Indeed, as much as I LOVE watching Masterchef, it can be incredibly cruel watching all those scrumptious dishes on TV and you can’t taste a thing. It’s particularly hard, too, when you’re there eating leftovers and the hero of your dish is a limp carrot, which somehow responded to CPR when it should have been “retired” to the worm farm.

“Such is life”, Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly, said before being hanged at the gallows.

I know what he meant.

So, that is what took me to Koi while I was down in Sydney heading to a medical appointment on the other side of Sydney Harbour. It was to fulfil all of my unadulterated chocolate fantasies and I wasn’t disappointed.

Indeed, I know I’ll be back.

However, before I leave, I have one last wish.

I wish I could be a kid again and lick the plate. While it’s not a good look for a 40 something mother of two (that’s how similar acts of insanity are routinely reported in the news), leaving even those few last remaining crumbs, is such a waste!

I’m sure you’d agree!

xx Rowena

PS I will admit that after I finished my Mookie, I did consider buying a second dessert. I was there alone without anyone watching, pointing the finger or calling me a glutton. I could do whatever I liked. Moreover, it was lunch time and surely God isn’t going to strike me down if I have two desserts for lunch just this once…even if I do have a Vegemite sandwich from home stashed away in my bag. It wouldn’t be the first time that a sandwich has arrived home untouched… Thanks kids!! However, I behaved but only because I know I’ll be back!

Koi is located at 46 Kensington Street, Chippendale, Sydney.

Phone 02 9212-1230.

The Creme Caramel Queen

This week I finally made Creme Caramel for the very first time and I’m so proud of myself. While this might be a seemingly simple dessert to make, I had baggage. My Mum was the Creme Caramel Queen and I had towering high heels to fill. Of course, this fueled my usual fears of “disaster” and the cream sat in the fridge for a week before I could muster the courage to get started.

(Note to self: add “fear of making mistakes” to previous post!)

When I was was a child, my mother used to make Creme Caramel for dinner parties. I remember peering up as she carefully tipped the Creme Caramel with its scrumptious golden crown onto the plate. It was her piece de resistance!

Then, being a fiendish sugar-holic, I’d nab the dish to salvage the crunchy toffee off the bottom with a knife. The next morning, my brother and I would find our left over slithers in the fridge. The scarcity just added to its glory. With it’s caramalised, sugary sweetness, it was heavenly divine.

My mother’s Creme Caramel was an absolute treat!

Given how much I love cooking and how much I loved that precious Creme Caramel, you’re probably surprised that I’ve never made it before…especially as I stubbornly refuse to eat those ghastly supermarket frauds which could never measure up.

I’m sure I did my usual thing of turning a mole hill into a mountain and besdies, watching Mum make it as a child, there seemed to be some kind of alchemy involved. Of course, I forgot that these were the impressions of a 10 year old and I’ve now grown up. I can cook.

What spurred me into action was that my kids like the supermarket version and had no idea how to make a real Creme Caramel.  Indeed, when I explained how it was made, it was just like telling a kid that milk comes from real cows and wasn’t made in a carton! I was flabbergasted and decided that making Creme Caramel at home was about to become an important part of their education. After all, how could I deprive them of the joy of chiselling the toffee stright off the bottom of the dish? That’d be absolutely unforgivable!

So, I dug a recipe out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook, which I believe is Mum’s recipe, and it was nowhere near as hard to make as I’d thought. Just toffee and custard baked in a water bath.

Easy peasy.

Nothing to fear.

That was until I had to convert  pints into millilitres, which is never an easy translation.

Miss helping.

Miss helping.

Then, disaster struck!

Perhaps, I was worrying too much about the measurements or was it my daughter’s chatter  or perhaps it was just me being me, which completely mucked it up. Instead of putting the milk and cream in the saucepan, I’d thrown them in with the eggs. Now, my precious first attempt had just become dog food.

Unperturbed, I read the recipe a few more times and without further dramas, it went into the oven.

This is when further doubts started to surface, just like air bubbles in the gurgling toffee.

How long should it stay in the oven? I couldn’t find small ramekins and so I was making mine in a larger dish, just like Mum. However, the recipe didn’t offer a suitable cooking time, leaving it up to guesswork or Google. This was when I dug up an article from The Guardian about How to Make the Perfect Creme Caramel. It was a bit late now that it was already in the oven but it did mention that my Monster Creme Caramel needed to cook for 1.5 hours. It also warned not to trust the timing and to “make sure it really does have a “slight tremble” in the centre, rather than a definite wobble, before you take it out of the oven.”

I wondered how  much wobble was ideal. I assumed more of a jogging along the beach kind of wobble than a lot of bounce or horror of horrors… sag!

Of course, I couldn’t over-cook it either and on this front it mentioned “rubber”. Ouch!

I had no idea that Creme Caramel could bounce. Indeed, I’d never seen Mum’s Creme Caramel bounce around the tennis court or being chased by the dog. Mine wasn’t about to start bouncing either. As I said, just a “wobble”.

I was going to have to watch that oven like a hawk and somehow pick exactly the right wobble without opening the door a thousand times and killing it altogether!

I know I’d heard of people catching cyberchondria by looking up medical conditions online but I didn’t realise it affected your cooking as well. In the past your dish either rose or it flopped but now there’s so much advice,  that I’ve opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of worries. Now, I was starting to feel like that parent with a newborn feeling completely confused, overwhelmed and wanting to head for the hills.

How could something so simple suddenly become so fraught with danger?

I didn’t know but but my nightmeres weren’t over yet!

I still had to extricate our precious Creme Caramel from the dish.

Of course, I don’t remember Mum’s Creme Caramel ever getting stuck but she was the Creme Caramel Queen. I was just the poor apprentice. She had Creme Caramel running through her veins… the same way she knew how to make the perfect, inimitable sponge.

This isn’t something you simply inherit in your DNA. It’s a gift.

So there I was. After hoping it had the right amount of wobble, I took my first ever, precious Creme Caramel out of the oven and transferred it to the fridge for a good night’s sleep.

Since I’m not one of those TV Cooking demonstrators who always have the next stage “prepared earlier”, we’ll fast forward 24 hours. I’ve now taken the Creme Caramel out of the fridge and with the two kids pestering me to dish it up, the big moment had finally arrived.

Would I, the Creme Caramel Apprentice, be able to get this thing out without it blowing up?

I was about to find out.

The recipe said to cut around the edge with a thin knife.

This I did.

I carefully turned the dish upside down on the plate but didn’t push the matter too aggressively on my first attempt in case disaster struck.

I held my breath and all but said a prayer as I turned the dish upside down, sacrificing my Creme Caramel to the Lord of the Great White Plate.

Humph. Nothing happened. It was stuck.

A huge anti-climax, my heart started to race a little faster. Indeed, the accelerator was flat to the floor. How was I going to get this thing out without destroying it completely?

“Think, Rowena. Think”.

It still wasn’t time to go in with the jack hammer yet but tougher measures were required. No more kid gloves but just enough force to give it a shove. Well, more of a nudge….this time with a broad knife. It wasn’t quite the thin knife the recipe recommended but it could not so subtlely get underneath the custard and lever it out. This is where art was meeting science and where salvaging cakes out of stubborn cake tins finally paid off. I knew exactly how to extract this beast and by jove, I did it!

Our Creme Caramel had landed!

A slice of heaven.

A slice of heaven.

Of course, I was expecting animated “oohs and aahs” from the family…especially as the kids had being eyeing off that caramel sauce like would-be thieves.

I was in for a very rude shock.

Indeed, I’d less complaints when I last dished broccoli for dinner.

I even heard a “yuck”.

Neither of the kids liked the Creme Caramel and wouldn’t eat it. Indeed, they even had the gall to say they preferred the supermarket version.

Our daughter even said it was “like cheese”.

That was like slapping me in straight in the face with a fly swat and boy did it hurt!

How dare they! Yet, I wasn’t surprised. They’re both incredibly fussy and usually drink Soy milk and don’t like dairy. My son is also lactose intolerant so it was probably a good thing.

So, unlike my childhood where I was lucky to procure my precious little slither, Geoff and I will now be feasting on Creme Caramel for a few days.

Things could be worse…

Photoshopped: my Creme Caramel was turned into a Green Slime Monster. No respect!

Photoshopped: my Creme Caramel was turned into a Green Slime Monster. No respect!

Meanwhile just to top off her total lack of respect for my magnificent Creme Caramel, Miss did this on photoshop: Attack of the Killer Slime Monster.

No respect!

Have you ever tried to make Creme Caramel?

xx Rowena

Lemon Meringue Mountain

You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.
-Mark Udall (US Politician)

You could say, that attempting to make Lemon Meringue Pie with two kids was overly ambitious and verging on insanity.It’s the sort of project, like climbing Everest, where you call for professional reinforcements and are very well prepared. You could well also consult the Great Google Guru for a few “chef’s tips” to create that perfect lemon meringue mountain. It’s not the sort of project where you bring in the rookies..despite their oozing enthusiasm and willingness to help!

There is a sacred horror about everything grand. It is easy to admire mediocrity and hills; but whatever is too lofty, a genius as well as a mountain, an assembly as well as a masterpiece, seen too near, is appalling.
-Victor Hugo

However, as a parent, if you always waited until conditions were just right and absolutely perfect, you’d never even get out the front door. I know some parents actually manage to pull off the whole perfect life routine (Pewk!) but most of us are simply bumbling along and patching up the mess as we go.

Thieving fingers!

Thieving fingers!

We even become accustomed to disasters.

Indeed, we expect it.

Yet, rather than being negative or self-defeatist, forewarned is fore-armed. Indeed, armed with all sorts of cleaning and patch-up products, we are prepared…at least, some of the time!!

More Thieving Little Fingers.

More Thieving Little Fingers.

Anyway, many years ago, I was renowned for my Lemon Meringue Pies but I’ve never made them for our family. No doubt for obvious reasons. There are many much less demanding recipes out there it is pretty challenging with plenty of pitfalls…especially trying to make it with kids either under foot or even just “trying” to help!

“Despite all I have seen and experienced, I still get the same simple thrill out of glimpsing a tiny patch of snow in a high mountain gully and feel the same urge to climb towards it.”
-Edmund Hillary

Lemon Meringue Pie not only looks like a snow-capped mountain peak, pulling this showy dessert off is indeed like climbing a mountain. There’s making the pastry and trying to get that perfect consistency but not only that being able to roll the stuff out and actually roll it out well and manage to tranfer it from the bench into the pie plate without it flopping off the rolling pin (no wonder the dogs were parked at my feet. They knew!!). Then, there was making the lemon filling on the stove.This could well get lumpy and the filling needs to have that lemon tang without being overly sour. I was a bit concerned that my lemons were smaller than average so added an extra one to hedge my bets. When it came to making the meringue, I had two kids assisting and a mixmaster under attack. Those little thieving fingers couldn’t keep out of all that sticky white goop…bees to a honeypot!

Why I ever considered making my Lemon Meringue Pie come back baking with the kids, I’ll never know. Actually, yes I do. It was because I wanted them to share in the memories. That  I wanted to share what felt like a very important part of me…one of my very special signature dish. I made my grandparents a Lemon Meringue Pie when my Aunty Lyn died suddenly aged 36 and for some reason, I felt that it would make a difference and somehow it did. For the rest of her life, my grandmother spoke about “that pie”. Sure, she loved the pie but in retrospect, it was the thought…the way it reflected my love for all my family who were grieving…which meant the world to her.

Only when you drink from the river
of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance.
-Khalil Gibran

On Sunday, with my bag full of lemons still stuffed inside the over-crowded fridge, I bit the bullet. We were having Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert. The kids were both very excited. “Mummy’s making Lemon Meringue Pie”. (you can translate this “excitement” into little peoples running haphazardly around the kitchen getting underfoot and in the way!!) With it’s impressive mountain of meringue it is a striking dessert and they thought I was exceptionally clever for being able to make it. They had such faith!

However, I wasn’t quite so sure. It’s been a long time since I’d last made it and I couldn’t find my old recipe and wasn’t feel sure about anything.

A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?
-Khalil Gibran

Of course, the fact that the TV Masterchef series has just launched off again, didn’t help. The show totally raised my unrealistic expectations to all sorts of lofty heights. I was no longer Rowena making humble pie with all the distractions, interruptions and chaos of a home kitchen. No, I was indeed, a French-trained Masterchef managing my ingredients and meticulously moving towards perfection: Bon Appetit.

Well, as they say practice makes perfect.

Practice and more practice.

Indeed, something like 10,000 hours of practice.

That’s a lot of Lemon Meringue Pies.

Miss added that extra special touch swirling around the lemon butter filling. Quite the professional in the making!

Miss added that extra special touch swirling around the lemon butter filling. Quite the professional in the making!

Anyway, after doing battle with the kids, the mixmaster and myself, I have expanded upon my “Kitchen Rules & Principles”

1) Check ingredients before getting started. This wasn’t such a problem this time but Geoff has had to go on mercy dashes to the supermarket for missing\, essentiasl igredients in the not-so-distant past.

2) Chefs have this great term “mise en place”, which basically means having everything set up before you get started.

3) Ingredients only in the mixmaster. Fingers, spoons, spatulas or any other kind of implement are banned from the bowl and mixture while the beaters are moving.

4) The pastry and meringue are not play doh. They do not like being touched and overworked.

5) Keep your thieving fingers off the meringue. This applies to both cooked and uncooked meringue.

Anyway, Miss had great delight piling the meringue up on top of the pie and calling it Mt Kosciusko, which is Australia’s tallest “mountain”. To be honest, there was a  bit too much delight and she would’ve been playing with the meringue for hours if I hadn’t stepped in.In case you weren’t aware, meringue doesn’t like a lot of handling.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
-Edmund Hillary

Miss applying the snowy mountain.

Miss applying the snowy mountain.

I was pretty pleased with the end result but am going to have a few more practice attempts and fiddle with the recipe a bit before I post it. After all, there is nothing humble about the gracious Lemon Meringue Pie.

Miss building her meringue mountain.

Miss building her meringue mountain.

That is until little fingers start pinching bits of the meringue and the snow appears to be melting only in this instance, it’s patches of yellow which are peering through the gaps instead of green.

Decapitated...the mixmaster was looking terminal until Geoff wove his magic.

Decapitated…the mixmaster was looking terminal until Geoff wove his magic.

By the way, I almost forgot to mention that we had a near fatality during the baking process. Probably on account of my poor instructions, Mister pressed the wrong lever and the mixmaster came off its base and then the clip came off and fell inside the stand and later proved to have snapped. We hate needless waste and at the thought of having to throw a good mixmaster away because some clip broke, was unacceptable. Geoff took on yet another engineering “Mr Fix-It” Challenge. He disappeared off into the garage and returned with a clip he’d manipulated out of chunk of a metal hard disk. You can knock people for “keeping” all sort of bits and pieces for a rainy day but when they achieve a miracle like this, I can’t but be impressed.

Any memories or reflections? Would love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

Recycling the School Jam Sandwich

Despite the stories of starving children in Africa and “waste not, want not”, our kids stubbornly refuse to eat their school lunches.After even more full lunchboxes arrived home, this time with sandwiches made using my own homemade strawberry jam which was just  oozing with lusciously plump delectable fruit, I became desperate. I could not… I would not… throw them out.

Somehow, they had to be eaten!

I'm getting sick of the sight of these full lunchboxes arriving home again completely untouched. What is it going to take to get my children to eat?

I’m getting sick of the sight of these full lunchboxes arriving home again completely untouched. What is it going to take to get my children to eat?

You see, I hate waste…particularly food waste.

For awhile there, I dutifully fed their sandwiches to the dog and I swear he could pick a lunchbox from space. Code-named “Garbage Guts”, he simply doesn’t stop eating.

Walking with the dog

Out trying to walk off more than a few kilos worth of school lunches. Bilbo alias Garbage Guts just can’t say “no”.

But there’s waste and then there’s waistline. Unfortunately for the dog, avoiding waste on my part meant he packed on the kilos. After getting slammed by the vet, there were no more sandwiches for the dog.

Yet, I still hated the thought of throwing out perfectly good sandwiches spread with lashings of my home-made strawberry jam so I decided to take up Bob the Builder’s environmental challenge to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and came up with this little invention:

Jam Sandwich Bread & Butter Pudding

Ingredients

6 eggs

4 tablespoons castor sugar

2 teas vanilla essence

1140 ml (2 pints) full cream milk

Cinnamon

125g or ½ cup blueberries or sultanas

4 jam sandwiches, crusts removed

Spreadable butter

Directions

  1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl and heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using a medium-sized bowl, crack in the eggs. Add sugar and vanilla essence. Beat together lightly with a fork or hand-beaters.
  3. Add the egg mix to warmed milk gradually and stir to combine evenly.
  4. Pour into a shallow, ovenproof dish.
  5. Sprinkle blueberries or sultanas evenly over the surface.
  6. Turn oven onto 180° C and grease a shallow, ovenproof dish.
  7. Now to prepare the sandwiches. Using a bread knife, cut the crusts off the sandwiches. Pull the sandwiches apart. They need to have plenty of jam and I prefer my homemade version which contains large, juicy pieces of fruit so you might want to add some extra butter and jam.
  8. Crusts
    Crusts
  9. Arrange the pieces of bread over the top of the custard and they’ll float across the top like boats.
  10. Add a few bits of butter on top of the bread if desired.
  11. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  12. Carefully place the dish inside a baking tin with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. This is called a water bath. See note below.
  13. Bake in a moderate oven at 180° C (160° C fan-forced) for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderately slow oven to around 160° C (140° C fan-forced) and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until set. My oven timer broke sometime ago so cooking times are an approximate science for me.
  14. Serves 8.
The pudding baking in the oven.

The pudding baking in the oven.

Obviously, while this approach worked well with jam sandwiches and could be adapted to include the honey sandwich, obviously it really isn’t an option for your leftover Vegemite or peanut butter sandwiches. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way. It looks like I’ve just set myself my next food challenge.

Enjoy!

Xx Rowena

Note: Why do you bake custard in a water bath?

Baking your custard pudding in a water bath is your best insurance against curdled custard. You see, although you set the oven temperature to 180° C ,the egg proteins which thicken the custard, set below 212°F.This means that unless these egg proteins are protected from the high heat of the oven, they’ll overcook and tighten or shrink, causing your custard to crack or separate into curdled egg and liquid. A water bath insulates custards from the direct heat of the oven because the water can’t exceed 212°F, unlike the air in a 350°F oven. Without a water bath, the outside of your dessert would also overcook before the centre is done. Moreover, in a water bath, you have more time to bake your custard to the perfect degree of doneness.