Nothing Special!

Steak with fried Gnocchi

A lot of people post about great food they have had at a great place or about something new they have tried at home and don’t get me wrong, I do that too.

But tonight I’m too stuffed to be fancy. Last nights’ Parent/Teacher Interviews did me in. Having a 70th birthday party to go to straight after this talk fest with parents that finished at 7pm didn’t help. Today I dragged my arse into work looking haggard and after having spoken to 70 parents was not in a talkative mood…difficult when you are a teacher… apparently communication is a key part of my job!

I wanted to be curled up on my couch in my pjs watching the hail come down but I was teaching my Year 7 English class…well, not really teaching as every single kid had their faces plastered to the window watching the hail storm…not much teaching going on. I had no interest in the storm and so just sat in my not too comfy chair and thought about my dinner…steak, fried gnocchi and creamy mustard stuff poured over the top!

I love gnocchi done this way and I like my steak rare and usually like it cooked on a grill but tonight I wanted it just like my mother used to make – fried in a pan on high heat in loads of wonderful butter. My work here is done!

Later tonight I’m going to brew me some strong coffee and finish off that cake I brought home for myself from the birthday party last night – a sponge cake soused in frangelico, filled with nutella and topped with icing sugar – life is much better now!

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Bougatsa sounds like a swear word!

Bougatsa (Greek Semolina Custard in Phyllo Pastry)

A lot of Greek words sound like swear words and that’s probably why I have a Greek background and not a French one! I love to use certain Greek words toward certain people to make them think I’m swearing at them when in fact I’m not…plays with their mind! Mean? Probably! Fun? Totally!

‘Bougatsa’ is one such word. Although I don’t recall ever having called someone a ‘bougatsa’ but it sounds so good I just might have to…of course it’s the Greek swear words that I teach all my friends. My Greek is not perfect but my swear words are awesome!

Bougatsa is different to the Greek sweet ‘Galaktobouriko’…it’s the street version. You can buy these from little Greek men and women who sell them fresh on the side of the road and eat them while you walk. They are wrapped in pastry and are not drowned in sugar syrup. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good drowning in sugar syrup but that sweet is time consuming to make and you have to make a huge tray of it otherwise it’s not worth making. When you buy Galaktobouriko, you need to sit down and have a coffee and lounge for hours (not a bad idea either).

This is much simpler. Doesn’t take long at all to make and it’s one of the few times I use phyllo pastry. Taste sensation and fun with words!

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups of whole milk
  • sliced peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of semolina
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 12 sheets of commercial phyllo dough
  • 6 ounces of butter, melted

Method

Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and add to the pan, stirring over medium-low heat until it reaches a creamy custard consistency. Remove from heat, take out and discard lemon peel, and allow to cool completely. Stir occasionally to keep the custard from forming a skin on top.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Lightly brush a baking pan (13 X 9 X 2 or equivalent) with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet well with the melted butter. Add the custard filling. Fold the excess phyllo that overlaps the pan in over the custard. Top with the remaining phyllo, brushing each with butter. Use a scissors to trim the top sheets to the size of the pan. Spray the top lightly with water and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon while hot, and serve warm.

 

Mid Week Chocolate Cake

A Healing Chocolate Cake

My daughter came home from school today having had “the worst day of her life.” If you have a child and they come home and you know something isn’t quite right and they burst into tears, then you understand how much it breaks your heart. I’m terrible as I’m supposed to be strong and offer wise advice or just listen and tell her that everything will be OK but all I really want to do is cry too. I can’t cope when my daughter cries. I fall to pieces myself, before I even know why she’s crying.

My way of coping in a crisis, especially a teenage daughter crisis is to bake a chocolate cake. Believe me it works! Well, it works for me anyway. I’m decidedly cheered up when baking a cake. When I take out a cake that has risen evenly and fills the house with the most wonderful aroma, everything is always better. My daughter is always amused by my childlike love of chocolate cake and it brings a smile to her face. Suddenly the only thing on her mind is when will the cake be ready for frosting.

This is quite different to the old fashioned chocolate cake I made a few weeks ago (another crisis resolved by cake). This one is even better. I like the fact that you add melted butter to this rather than creaming the butter. Everything is simple and the cake turns out light and fluffy. Just what everyone needed on a cold mid week evening to go with our hot chocolate.



Ingredients

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups self raising flour

2 tbs cocoa

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

pinch of salt

125g melted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl

Add the melted butter, vanilla and milk

Beat together for 2 minutes

Add eggs and beat for another 2 minutes

Place in greased lamington tin

Bake in moderate oven for 35 minutes (170C)

Ice with chocolate icing and dust with icing sugar.

The Urge To Bake A Sponge Cake

When I started baking

During winter last year I woke up one day and had this urge to start baking. I’ve mentioned before that baking wasn’t my thing and was quite happy to cook anything you could think up but baking made me break out in a sweat.

Not only did I have the urge to bake but it had to be a sponge cake. At the time I didn’t know whether sponge cakes were meant to be easy or difficult to bake so I watched a few youtube videos and chose a recipe I thought looked good.

The result was wonderful and there and then began a new love for baking. I have baked many things since June last year and have had a couple of disasters but not many…like the time I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses and mistook 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 1/2 cups and boy did those jam drops just spread and spread and turn into one big sugary mess!

My partner (bless him) insisted on eating them until I couldn’t cope any longer and threw them out. I have made them since and they were great. I never make the same mistake twice as I always find a new mistake to make.

This, however, has been my favourite (apart from the pavlova, which I’m still really proud of) dessert so far. My mum made wonderful sponge cakes when I was a kid and they bring back really lovely memories.

Ingredients

1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
4 x eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
pinch of salt

Method

Sift all the flour and salt together. Sift about 5 times. This ensures it is incorporated and aerated.

In another bowl add eggs and sugar and mix at high speed with an electric mixer for about 6 mins. This mixture will triple in size.

Using a flat rubber spatula, add the flour to the egg mixture, gently folding it in.

Gently pour batter into springform cake tin and bake in pre heated oven at 180C for approx 20 mins.

Let cake stand in tin for 5 mins then remove and cool completely on cooling rack.

Using a serrated knife slice cake in half and cover the bottom half with strawberry jam and whipped cream. Place the top of the cake over the jam and cream and dust with icing sugar.

*You can use this recipe to make ‘lamingtons’. You would then bake it in a square or rectangular tin and store it in an air tight container for 24 hours then cut the sponge into squares. Melt dark chocolate and using a fork dip each square into the melted chocolate and then roll each chocolate coated square sponge piece in coconut. These are delicious and when I get around to making them again I will post pictures.