Naked Hedgehog

My kids surprise me everyday. One of the things I have done since returning to live in the country is to bake slices. Yes, it seems a country women’s association kinda thing to do. But the advantage of the humble slice, whether it is baked or unbaked, is that they tend to keep well – if they last that long!

In the middle of a recent afternoon baking session the girls gathered in the kitchen to ‘help’ me. This is code for eating mixture, licking bowls and draining the dregs of the condensed milk can. I was making hedgehog with my fail safe recipe when all four girls insisted that I not ice the hedgehog slice. Really? A Naked Hedgehog slice? I was in the habit of making  slab of chocolate icing or using real chocolate if I was feeling generous. But they were determined. A naked, nude hedgehog slice.

I confess it is actually great without the extra sweetness. So here is me, having an afternoon coffee and a sweet treat. And here is the exceptionally easy recipe for you to make for you and yours.
Enjoy. x

Naked Hedgehog Slice

2 packets of Marie/Arrowroot biscuits, crushed ( I use a food processor or Thermomix)
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
250 grams butter
1/2 cup cocoa

Melt the butter, condensed milk and cocoa and mix until combined. I use the microwave and it usually takes 1 min 30 sec. It should be thick and glossy when you mix it all together.

Combine the cocoa mixture with the crushed biscuits. Press mixture firmly into a slice tin or plastic container lined with foil. Place the slice in the fridge until set. Cut into mini bars.

** The basic hedgehog is great with dried fruit and nuts, but my kids prefer it simple.

You can make these too….

Is it too warm for crumpets? I think of crumpets as warm weather food, laden with butter and honey and a hot cup of tea. But I urge you to think outside the square and try this little beauty.

This is not my first time making a crumpet. I think I played with an old school Women’s Weekly recipe back when I was a wee girl. But this recent find has convinced me it is worth the effort. Look out for some larger ‘crumpet’ rings in your local home store. If you have the standard metal egg ring at home that will do as well.

Dry Ingredients:
450gms bread flour
3 teaspoons yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons  salt

Liquid Ingredients:
650ml warm milk
an extra 100ml milk with 1/2 teaspoon Bi Carb soda added

1. Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly and make a well.
3. Pour half the warm milk and mix.
3. Add remaining warm milk and beat until smooth.
4. Cover bowl with a tea towel or glad wrap and allow to double in size.
5. When doubled add the extra milk/bi carb mix and beat until combined.
6. Leave batter for 40 minutes.
7. Heat frying pan and grease crumpet rings and pan.
8. Spoon in mixture and allow to cook until holes form on the surface and the top dries out. (Keep heat on medium – this may take a little time so be patient.) Turn crumpet over and cook until set.
9. Place crumpets on cooling rack.
10. Crumpets can be toasted to serve. They keep well for a2 days in the fridge or a great in the freezer.

* Don’t skimp on the time in step 6, as you need the second resting time to get really light and airy crumpets.
**If you cannot find crumpet rings use your old school metal egg rings – you will just have smaller crumpets.
*** I am sure you could adapt this recipe to use in your Thermomix.

Pastry Perfection

It is bitterly cold here today. Wet. Gloomy. Grey. Cold. It feels like it could snow. Some would say a perfect day in doors by the fire and I just may get some time at home today. I imagine it is the best conditions for cranking up the stove and making and baking – warm, home cooked goodness that feeds the body, mind and soul.

I recently made pasties – a real favourite of mine. I love the fact that you can tweak the inner goodness with a variety of meats, vegetables and spices. Some days our pasties taste like genuine Cornish pasties and other days they have a samosa kinda feel, full of curry, cumin and chilli.

But the real love and perfection of the humble Pastie comes from the pastry. Plain flour, salt, chilled butter, a squeeze of lemon juice all blitzed together in the food processor and then enough cold water so that the “crumb” like flour mixture forms a ball. You must be patient with pastry. It needs to slowly come together and not overworked. It must be rested before it is rolled and shaped. it must be respected and cajoled into doing what it must, encasing the tasty goodness of the mixture. Making good pastry takes practice but it is a skill that every domestic goddess should have mastered. So on this winter’s day, light the fire, make a pot of tea and welcome a morning of baking and playing in the kitchen.

Kuchef ThermoCook Update

Pasta cooked the old fashion way – no Therm Cook!

It would not be fair of me to avoid updating my blogpost about the Aldi Kuchef Thermo Cook. You may recall that we purchased one as a Christmas gift and have been using it ever since. We have made soup, sauces, jam, chutney, curries, sorbet, smoothies. It has been an all purpose work horse and one that the older kids can use easily.

So the mid year recall was somewhat of a surprise. Our only issue had been that on a sustained  high temperature some recipes ( béchamel, curry pastes) tended to ‘catch’ on the inside of the stainless steel jug. This was nothing a good clean could not fix.

Following the recall instructions my handy workhorse aka Thermo Cook was sent back to the manufacturer and replaced. Apparently there had been issues with hot food being expelled from the machine when it was used at high speed – and I suspect someone has been burnt. But my new best kitchen buddy would not work – when assembled and plugged in, there seemed to be a fault.

My days of whipping every green bit of goodness into smoothies for the family, making fabulous no sugar sorbets and trying the wonderful Dulce de leche (decadent caramel) will have to wait. While I have days when I am missing my machine I do not miss the space it fills on my bench top. This is a Western world problem, no?

I wonder if you have had success with the Kuchef version of the Thermomix. The  second model has a new improved base and non stick jug. I would love to hear your Thermo Cook stories.

Happy cooking the old fashioned way…..for now.

Christmas Cake to Easter Buns

Is it too late to show you my Christmas cake? There is actually still a smidgen left in the pantry. This is the first successful use of my Nigella alphabet cutters. Cookie dough tends to stick in the small crevices of the cutter. Whereas the icing falls out nicely, revealing a letter.

Some of us like the cake and others just like the royal icing. So there are lost of requests for the stars. As Lent approaches and we think about Easter I realise that I am not in the habit of Easter baking and gift giving quite like Christmas time. Maybe that should change.

I love cooking, I love dinner

I want to help.

Ok, can you go and get a chair? (Lily drags a chair over to the bench.)

I want to wear this one. I like this one. ( Selects an apron.)

Can you stand on the chair?

Yes…..I want to mix.

Look at the camera, Lily.

I love cooking. I love dinner.

She is nearly two years old and she is loving cooking dinner!

Bella turns 6

I must remember to bring cake tins and ingredients on family holidays. This is the second chocolate ripple cake Isabella has had – this time a butterfly. Without an electric beater in the holiday house I chose to try that truly awful cream in a can…….it loses its fluff in minutes. So here it is…..nothing a few lollies cannot hide!
Isabella has loved her presents. Note AA the fabulous Charlie and Lola book which has been a hit with the whole family. Lily recognised it from the spine as Bella unwrapped it. Thanks for all the love from the family/friends and Uncles and Aunts.