Monday, 5 December 2011

Last post here at The Crafty Baking Mama

Hello my few but fabulous readers!
I wasn't feeling the vibe with my blog name, so I've renamed my blog and moved over to here - The old name felt a bit too polished for who I am and what I'm about. I am all about the trying and can relate to the little engine that could as my inspiration!!!  It's something I draw on regularly when my 3 year old gets frustrated.  I encourage him to try, try again.  My mother would say that throughout the years I have taken this metaphor far too far and I would NEVER take no for an answer.  So, it's definitely a strength and a weakness, but it's me.  I'm messy, I cut corners, I fall over but I try and I am enthusiastic about things!!!! (And I use too many exclamation marks!!!!)

I hope you like my new name and I'm not sure I'll blog any more frequently, but I do feel more freedom to blog within these new parameters.  Thank you to the lovelCat and K for the think-tank to help me with my new name! And thank you Cat for helping me redirect my old blog to this new one! Whoa, that was a bit technical for me! xo

I'll be switching over tomorrow, but first wanted you guys to read about it here.

Thank you for reading and I hope you'll join me and my misadventures over at my new blog.  

Love Amy xoxo

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Macadamia and Cranberry Christmas Log - a Savoury Vegetarian Delight!

This is my absolute favourite savoury Christmas dish.  It can be served as a side dish for carnivores on a big Christmas buffet, sliced and plated along with turkey and veg  (instead of stuffing) or as the main event for vegetarians.

This recipe originally came to me as a Chestnut & Cranberry Wreath from my gorgeous Cornish friend whose dad makes this for her every Christmas as her vegetarian meal.  She raved and raved about it and posted me a photocopy of the recipe (from the BBC Vegetarian cooking magazine from many, many years ago).  I have used this rumpled photocopy so much, it’s practically falling apart and is covered in cooking gunk!  Because we don’t have fresh chestnuts in Australia at Christmas time, and because I couldn’t find frozen chestnuts the first time I made this dish, I substituted Macadamia nuts.  I have since made this dish at Easter with freshly picked chestnuts and it is completely different, but absolutely delicious!

I found an online link to the original recipe, however it doesn’t have any photos.  Check it out here if you’re a purist.

Otherwise, here is my version:

  • 50g  butter
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil + extra for greasing
  • 1 large Leek Trimmed and Finely Chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves Crushed
  • 450g coarsely processed unsalted macadamia nuts - see photo. Some you want to be tiny and crumby, but some rough little chunks are brilliant for texture.
  • ½ -1 cup of cranberries (I usually use frozen, however they weren’t in any supermarket last week, so I used dried cranberries and I have to say I actually preferred them! Choose whichever you like! The quantity I will leave up to you also-I can’t use too many or my fruit resistant husband gets cranky!)
  • 150g panko breadcrumbs (from the Asian section of your supermarket. Otherwise, use fresh breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped + extra to garnish 
  • 3 Medium Eggs Lightly Beaten plus 1 extra egg white
  • 550g Granny Smith  apples peeled, cored & coarsely grated (330g grated weight) – it’s about 4 large apples
  • 200g marinated goats cheese, drained
  • 1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
  • 1 Medium Egg yolk Lightly beaten to glaze

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Line & grease a loaf tin
  • Heat half the butter (25g) and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan until the butter is foaming.
  • Gently fry the Leek, and Garlic for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened

  • Add the coarsely processed macadamia nuts, season very well with salt and pepper and gently brown for 5 minutes until lightly browned

  • Mix together the nut and leek mixture with the breadcrumbs, herbs, eggs, grated apples and cranberries.

  • Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.

  • Dot the cheese on top and then cover with the remaining mixture.

  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until the log  is lightly browned and starting to come away from the sides of the tin. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Turn out onto oven tray lined with baking paper and allow to cool on bench and then in fridge. I usually do all of this the day before.

  •  Take puff pastry out of freezer to defrost and using a sharp knife cut out strips.
  • Arrange the pastry strips over the log and then tuck the edges in with a blunt, butter knife.

  • Optional: Cut leaf shapes and berries from the pastry and mark on veins with a knife.
  •  Brush the pastry strips with egg yolk (if doing the pastry leaves, attach now curling and overlapping them to form a number of flower shapes spaced evenly around the ring and the berry balls and dab these shapes with egg wash.)

  • Chill for at least 30 minutes
  •  Preheat the oven to 200c
  • Bake for 30-40minutes until the pastry is risen and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and slide gently onto serving plate. Garnish the with the cranberries (if using fresh or frozen) and extra rosemary sprigs. Serve with roast turkey for meat eaters, and lots of roast veggies as well as gravy and loads of cranberry sauce.

I served this last week for my hopefully-soon-to-be-sister-in-law's birthday along with my first ever roast chicken!!!

Missing from this photo is the LOADS of gravy you must serve with this.  Vegetarian gravy or proper gravy - depending on your meat eating preferences.

This makes the BEST ever Boxing day leftovers too! Cold or hot. YUM!

Here's another couple of photos of when I made it a few years ago, pre-kids so I had to time to faff about making leaves and berries out of pastry!!!

Anyway, I really, REALLY hope some of you try this dish! My brother in law last week said it was one of the best meals he's ever eaten in his life!!! And that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever told me! ; )

Love Amy xoxo

Monday, 21 November 2011

Salted Dulce De Leche Ice Cream

I am completely obsessed with salted caramel and have looked everywhere to buy real Argentinian Dulce De Leche with no success. (Thank you Ana for the correction!)

Then I discovered David Lebovitz. Now, I regularly make Dulce De Leche, his way.  It is incredibly easy.  I also love it because it's not as messy as some techniques (and I am, as you will see from the sate of my benches and stove top in the pictures below, extremely messy!!!) nor is it as scary as the boiling on the stove technique for someone who gets distracted very easily!

I have used it to make Dulce De Leche brownies - also one of David's recipes, as well as an amazing Donna Hay chocolate and caramel pudding.

A few weeks ago we were having friends over for dinner and I was making a buffet of lots of different savoury foods, so I wanted something I could make ahead for dessert.  So I decided to make ice cream. I ended up making three different ice creams!  The first was a chocolate, peanut butter ice cream (which can be found in his book The Perfect Scoop), the second was a white chocolate sorbet which you can find here.

My favourite caramel ice cream is yet another one of David's and is Salted Butter Caramel with praline through it.  It is extreme and delicious. You can find the recipe here.  It is super rich with butter, eggs and cream and with our savoury menu I wanted something "lighter"!!! ;-)

I saw a recipe for Dulce De Leche ice cream on the lovely Lisa's blog and set out to make a version of that.  She has some brilliant recipes over there and I shall certainly work my way through them!  You can find Lisa's original version here.

So this is my tribute to my two favourite ice cream bloggers, using a combination of their recipes.

Salted Dulce De Leche Ice Cream

- 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
-a decent sprinkle of sea salt

-300ml cream
-500ml full fat milk
-1 tsp vanilla paste

-make the Dulce De Leche using David's method - see it in detail here.  I made a double batch for this recipe.

Pour both tins of milk in to oven proof dish.

Cover with foil and put it in a larger dish to create a water bath. Half fill with boiling water and put in 210 degree oven for 1-1.5 hours.  I usually keep it in a bit longer as I like it quite dark.  ESSENTIAL POINT-keep checking the water level in the bath and refill a couple of times through the cooking process.

Remove the foil and add a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

When the Dulce De Leche is still in the oven (but nearly ready), heat the milk and cream in a heavy based saucepan.

When the mixture is almost at a boil, add 3/4 of the still hot Dulce de Leche and the vanilla paste and whisk over the heat until all dissolved and smooth.

Allow to cool, then put in fridge for several hours until very cold.

Churn mixture as per your ice cream maker's instructions.  For mine, it is about 25 minutes on 1.

When the ice cream is thick, add a couple of spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce De Leche and churn gently just to combine and swirl through.

When you put it in a container to put in the freezer, dollop small blobs of  remaining Dulce De Leche and fold through with a spatula.

My husband can not possibly wait another minute to taste the ice cream so he has a taste straight from churning.


Mini scoops of all three flavours for our dinner party.

A few days later, with a freezer FULL of ice cream, I made some choc tops.

Melt 50grams of milk and 50grams of dark chocolate over a double boiler and line 3 waffle cones.  Put in freezer to set.

 Add a scoop of the salted Dulce De Leche ice cream and then quickly cover with the remaining melted chocolate and put back in the freezer to set.

The look a bit revolting, but I like to think it's in a good way!!!!!!!!!  They were extremely yummy!!!

Since making this, I have seen a post for these little beauties and am in the process of knocking them up using another batch of this ice cream for my sister in law's birthday this week. They look a lot more refined than my choc tops!!!

Love Amy xoxo

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pancetta & Ricotta Cups - a la Donna Hay

Although I don't eat red (or pink!) meat, this recipe has become my go to canape for adults and kids alike.  I've been making these for years and have recently brought them out again for my baby's 1st birthday party (as seen here) and my 3 year old's birthday party.  The kids and adults devoured them, so I'm guessing they are tasty!!!  The best thing I've discovered recently about these is that they can be frozen and reheat perfectly. I wasn't sure they would with the ricotta in them, but they were excellent.  This meant I could make them a couple of weeks ahead and leave the day before the party to make cakes and other fresh food.

I got the original recipe from Donna Hay Magazine - Issue 24 Nov/Dec 2005.  I have made small modifications, so I'll outline how I did it below:

Baked Pancetta and Ricotta Cups


  • 12 slices of pancetta, halved
  • 250 grams of fresh ricotta (from the deli so it's not the watery variety - if you can only get it in a tub, then drain out the water before using it)
  • 100 grams of soft, smooth feta
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  • Press the halved pieces of pancetta in to a lightly greased 24 hole mini muffin tray

  • In a large bowl, mix together the cheeses, chives, egg and some freshly ground pepper

  • Spoon the cheese mixture into the pancetta cases

  • Cook for 10-12 minutes until pancetta is crisp and cheese is set

  • Serve warm
  • Optional: top with halved slow roasted balsamic cherry tomatoes (this version is more for the grown ups!)
  • If freezing, do so in a single, spaced out layer and without the tomatoes


Love Amy xoxo