Wednesday 31 July 2013

Home made grain mustard

Mr Pickings loves mustard on his lunchtime sandwiches so once a year I make a big batch to get him through till the next time I make it.  I don't mind a bit now and then, but he is a huge fan so I need to make lots.  Neither of us likes that bright yellow gloopy Dijon stuff;  I make a real man's mustard!  I base it on an old Women's Weekly recipe - (I have a cutting from a magazine - no idea how old it is!) - and add a few extras of my own.  I do have a fabulous book by Barbara Beckett called Creating Gourmet Gifts (out of print I think, but I have seen it for sale on which has a few mustard recipes, and of course many other wonderful ones.

Makes 3-4 small-ish jars

Home made grain mustard:


95g yellow mustard seeds
95g brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup firmly packed basil leaves (or you can use about 65g./2.3 oz basil paste from a tube like me)
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic
1/3 cup semi or sun dried tomatoes in oil
60ml honey (I used local honey)
60ml vinegar - I usually use a mixture of vinegars as I keep several different ones in my pantry. I used sherry vinegar, raspberry vinegar, verjuice and balsamic this time. 
1 tsp of ginger paste (from a tube) or 1 tbs of freshly grated ginger
60ml EV olive oil or a citrus infused olive oil  (I have used orange or lemon in the past)
1 tsp of sea salt flakes


Soak the mustard seeds in warm water for 6-8 hours then rinse off and drain well
Blitz the seeds in a processor for a few minutes to start breaking them down, then add the other ingredients and keep blitzing till it is the consistency you like.  I like to leave a fair few whole grains in mine.   Add more salt or honey or vinegar to your taste. 
Pack into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge or a dark place till needed.   Best put away for a month till it matures, but even better the longer you keep it.  

Monday 29 July 2013

Chocolate oat biscuits

As today is such a grey and miserable day out there,  I decided to make a batch of these moreish oat biscuits.  One of my favourite blogs is Faux Fuchsia,  she of the glamorous, funny and well-baked (ha ha!) Brissie lifestyle.   This is an adaptation of her oat biscuits but I add cocoa powder and use some peanut butter chips rather than white choc.  Really you could whatever sort of choc chips you like.  It is very easy and always works out well.  Thoroughly recommended when you feel like a sweet treat. In fact you could whip these up very quickly for unexpected guests if you had a wee bit of warning.

I added 3 level tablespoons of Dutch cocoa to the mix and used slightly less flour than the cup used in her recipe.  Please give them a try readers!  

Friday 26 July 2013

chocolate and raspberry butter cake

Chocolate and raspberry butter cake recipe:
Ingredients for the cake:
·         250g butter, softened
·         1 cup caster sugar
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         3 eggs
·         2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
·         1/2 cup milk
·         2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa
·         80g.of dark chocolate melted and slightly cooled - (melt it after you have made the cake batter)
·         1-2 teaspoons of pillar box red colouring—depending on how red you want it!
·         100g of frozen (or fresh) raspberries thawed and then pushed through a fine sieve so you end up with a smooth puree of fruit

Butter cream icing:


·         370g of butter, softened
·         4.5 cups icing sugar mixture
·         4 tablespoons milk
·         1-1.5 teaspoons of red colouring

Take the cold ingredients – butter, eggs, and milk  – out of the fridge to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of two 20cm round cake pans.

Use an electric mixer if you have one or electric hand beaters to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until pale and creamy.  (You could do this with a wooden spoon and work up some muscles.). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour and milk, alternating, in batches, until just combined.  Divide the batter evenly into 2 mixing bowls; fold the cocoa and melted chocolate into one half, and the raspberries and red colouring into the other half.  Spoon out the batter into the 2 pans –chocolate in one and raspberry in the other, then smooth the tops with a palette knife or spoon and place the cakes into the oven.   Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centres comes out clean.  You may need to check them after 15 minutes and swap them around in the oven to ensure even cooking.

Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans for a few minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool completely.  Make the icing while your cakes are cooling. 

Method for icing:
Beat the well softened butter in a bowl until pale. Gradually add icing sugar mixture and milk, beating well until combined.
Beat the colouring into the mix until well combined and the colour you want.

Now you can cut your cakes into even quarters-  I measured mine with a ruler to make sure they were exact- and place one layer on your serving plate.
Start by putting a red piece then a chocolate piece side by side (the pointy ends facing into the middle of the plate)  sandwiched together with some of your icing, then another red and another chocolate piece sandwiched  together.   You will now have one layer of cake in alternating colours.
Smooth a layer of the icing onto the top of the cake, then place your next layer of quarters on top of the bottom layer, making sure that you have a different colour on the top layer to the one on the bottom.   This means when you cut it,  you will end up with a piece of cake that has raspberry on one level and chocolate on the other.

Now smother the top and sides of the cake with the rest of your icing.  It will seem like alot but it really makes the cake delicious.  Put it into the fridge for 20 minutes so the icing can firm up,  then take it out and add whatever bling you wish.  You can add white chocolate numbers as I did to make it into a clock face,  or add a name or happy birthday in white chocolate fudge writing.   Add cachous or hundreds and thousands,  whatever takes your fancy.
(I adapted this recipe from one on for a basic butter cake.)

I actually made this cake over 2 days; I made the cakes on one day then decorated them the next.   I now understand how the Masterchef cooks must feel when they have to do it all in one short burst of energy and time.   It must be exhausting and stressful!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Flourless peanut butter chocolate cake

Is there any better combination than this?  I just love chocolate and peanut butter together.   For years I have made fluffy PB choc pie but I recently decided to try something different.   The brilliant thing is it doesn't taste overwhelmingly of peanut butter;  it is just moist, chocolatey and delicious.
I found this recipe on a blog by Styling You;  the author has previously won Best Australian Blog 2011 so it must be good!
I was attempting to place the cake in my cake container when it fell neatly apart.   That is why my photo above is showing only some of the cake!  I guess this just proves how moist and tender it was.

Friday 19 July 2013

Lemon curd

This week I made lemon curd- or lemon butter- as a lot of Aussies know it.  It is such a simple recipe, and so delicious.   You can just slather it on toast, or spoon into a pie crust, or eat it by the spoon straight out of the jar!   Once again , I used my neighbour's organic lemons which is preferable as you are going to be adding zingy zest and you don't want to be worrying about chemicals and wax from commercial fruit.
Lemons juiced and zested and ready to go into the saucepan. 
All done!
I use a recipe for Perfect Lemon Curd,  probably the quickest and easiest you will ever make.  I have seen cumbersome recipes where you have to feed chunks of butter gradually into the warmed up juice.   No need to go there, readers!  

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Preserved lemons

On the weekend, I took my basket and skipped over to my neighbour's yard to grab some lemons from her tree (with her permission).
This was in the quest to make some preserved lemons- so delicious with couscous,  sardines,  chicken dishes, roast veggies and so on.
So I gathered my salt and my lemons and a clean, sterilised jar and proceeded.  It is incredibly easy to do.  Basically stuff wedges of lemon into your jar;  sprinkle each layer with salt , then keep squishing down and keep filling till no more room in the jar and cover it with lemon juice.
Just as a guide, use 5 medium lemons, with 1.5 cups of juice and half a cup of salt.    Put it away for at least a month to mature!   When ready to use, grab a piece of lemon, scrape off the flesh and discard; and use the skin diced up in your fave dish.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Stanthorpe break

Mr. Pickings and I took a short break to Stanthorpe for a long weekend.  It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago so we were on our usual annual trip there.  It was amazingly warm this time and we didn't even need the fire on all the time.   The stars are so clear and close, and we always see satellites  going over and planes in the distance and shooting stars.  It is very lovely tho a teeny bit scary. It is extremely dark and silent where we stay- an old farmhouse- and I am afraid my vivid imagination goes into overdrive about serial killers leaping out of the bushes. :)).  As usual we bought heaps of local products, and ate a lot !
We went to a lovely cafe- Jersey Girls cafe- which is part of the Granite Belt Dairy.   They use local produce, their own or their neighbours and make hearty honest fare. If dear readers you are in the area do stop off for a bite or buy some lovely cheese made with milk from the jersey girls! Jersey Girls Website
My lunch- bangers and mash- all produced locally.  Their butcher is in- house.
Mum and joey in the pouch just outside our cottage.  The rabbit proof fence below amazes me every time I see it.  No rabbits in Qld till you get south of this fence. We did see rabbits on the southern side.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Making a Zumbo cake

Today I made a packet mix Zumbo choc mud cake with mirror glaze.   It took quite a while and I am not sure of the result yet !  Which is probably because we haven't eaten it yet:). But it did seem like a lot of trouble - water baths etc- and the glaze tastes a bit odd.  Let's hope it eats ok.
And here's my nephew with the man himself !