Thursday, September 30, 2010

Golabki (Cabbage Rolls)

Serves 4
Cabbage Roll Filling
10 large cabbage leaves
250 grams pork mince
250 grams beef mince
3/4 large red onion
1/4 cup medium grain rice
1/4 bunch parsley
4 sage leaves
1 sprig mint
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper

Tomato Sauce
4 large tomatoes
1 garlic
1/4 red onion
splash white wine
1/2 tablespoon beef stock powder
1 cup passata
1/3 cup water
1/4 bunch parsley

Sour cream to serve

Make the basic tomato sauce. Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil. Add the tomatoes, wine and the stock powder. Next add the passata and water and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the parsley and set aside.

Put a large pot of water on the boil. Add the cabbage leaves and let them boil until they have softened. About 10-15 mins. Pull them out and set aside.

For the filling: Fry the onion in a knob of butter add a splash of oil so the butter doesn't burn, in a large pan. Add the mince meat and fry that until it is cooked. Add the rice, cinnamon and herbs and about 1/3 cup water to semi cook the rice. Fry off the meat mixture until there is no water or juices, set it aside to cool slightly.

Divide the filling among the cabbage rolls. Wrap them firmly and place them into a baking dish, that has been lined with extra cabbage leaves. Pour 1/2 the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls with 1/3 cup extra water. Cover with foil or a lid, and bake in the oven for about 30 mins on 180C.

Meanwhile keep simmering the tomato sauce to thicken.

Take the lid off the Golabki's and cook for a further 15 minutes. Serve with the extra sauce and a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raspberry and Chocolate Bit Brownie

I have posted previously about my love of raspberries. I had bought a large frozen packet of them the other day, and I was dying to eat them. I love them on their own as a snack, with breakfast or as a dessert. I love to add them to all sorts of things!

Anyway I decided to make brownies. I was thinking fudgy, dark chocolate chunks with raspberries. Brownies can be one of the hardest things to bake. Basically if you like them quite gooy, bake them for about 15 minutes, a little more cake like 25 minutes. Personally I think that the cake-like ones should be iced, with a ganache.

125 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
180 grams dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs lightly beaten
1/3 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder, I love the nestle one, it is so chocolatey!
1/3 cup chocolate bits, you can add more of coarse
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup frozen berries

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Melt the butter, sugar and chocolate together, in a large saucepan. Add the eggs and mix using a whisk.

Sift the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa into a bowl.

Pour the melted chocolate into the sifted dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

Then add the extra chocolate, coconut and the berries. Then mix.

Pour it into a brownie tin, and bake for desired time. 

Before baking.

After Baking.

I baked mine for 20 minutes. It should feel quite soft to touch. When you take it out of the oven it should collapse and crack slightly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Goat Milk Soap My First Batch....

Me weighing out all the oils and butters.

Making the goat's milk lye, in the ice water bath.

Very happy that it isn't turning a horrid colour, it is staying the creamy colour yey!! 

Adding the goat's milk lye to the oils and butters.

Blending to a trace, just after this I added the fragrance.

Finished the blending and adding it to the mold.

Since I have started making my own cold pressed soap, I have wanted to try and make goat's milk soap.

I was so worried about using goat milk for soap making. There are so many things that can go wrong that I wasn't sure where to begin. Through lots of googling and reading soapy books for recipes, I think I have found a great way to make it. The majority of the soapy community say if you use the goat's milk cold, or freezing to be precise, it is the secret to keeping it a pale colour as well as not having such an unpleasant odour.

So I bought the fresh goat's milk. Weighed the amount I needed and froze it. Got my oils ready and weighed, and tried my first batch....

It is meant to have the most horrid smell, but I never experienced that. Maybe I did something wrong? Who knows, we shall find out. I fragranced it with vanilla select fragrance, and a vanilla oil that I made from cut up vanilla beans soaked in jojoba oil. I sell the Vanilla Beans on Ebay or my Etsy store if anyone is interested in buying some.
This is Chucky waiting very impatiently for me to stop soaping so he can sit on my lap.

"Ahh that's better now all is right in my little world, sleep now..." Says Chuck.

I have since cut the soap and it smells sweet, but not as vanilla like as I was hoping...

Apparently it takes a good 2-3 weeks for the goat milk smell to die down, till your left with the gorgeous fragrance you want. And it's now a chocolate brown colour, due to the fact that I used vanilla fragrance, and fresh vanilla bean extract.

I made this soap on the 18th September, it is already a much nicer and sweeter smell, than it was to begin with. Can't wait to see what happens over the next couple of weeks! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes with Ganache

After reading a blog post Heidi wrote, from 'Apples Under My Bed' about dairy, you can read the post here. I was inspired to eat more dairy. I love cheese, there is no hiding that I love it anytime of day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

In saying that though I don't eat huge amounts of it. I like to have good quality food as much as possible, but small amounts. So a nice little slice of brie, with some pink lady apples is a heavenly snack to me. I believe you can spoil yourself within reasonable amounts. So I love nothing better than taking a recipe I adore, and down sizing it!

I also try not to use as much sugar or butter as most recipes ask. Don't get me wrong I am a huge fan, but my father has diabetes. So it is always in the back of my mind not to over indulge my sweet tooth too much.

Hubby and I went to Newcastle Farmer's Market on the weekend, and bought a very large tub of strawberries for only $10!! I have them sitting in a very large bowl, and we have been snacking on them. Then it occurred to me I could combine the love I have for cheese with these luscious strawberries, in the form of a cheesecake! These mini cakes are not to sweet and really had a strawberry hit. If you want you can add sugar to taste. Add extra sugar by the tablespoon until you are happy with the batter.

But I can't resist a cheesecake. Especially a cute little pink strawberry MINI version, that way it is more of a portion control size. And not a huge slice. Unless, you have more than one....

Makes 6 Texas muffin sized cakes.

Biscuit Base
10 plain biscuits
50 grams butter melted
1-2 tablespoons desiccated coconut to taste, I used 2 tablespoons.
1 tablespoon cocoa, optional. I didn't use the cocoa but thought it would really bring out the ganache.

200 grams cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup vanilla caster sugar
16 strawberries
2 teaspoons plain flour

60grams dark chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons cream

Line the cupcake tin with cupcake pans, preheat the oven 160C fan forced.
Blend the biscuits, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter, coconut and cocoa. Mix by hand and press into patty pans. Place it in the fridge to harden for 30 minutes.

Blend 10 strawberries with the caster sugar. Set aside. Mix the cream cheese with the sour cream. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the strawberry sugar mixture. Then add the flour.

Bake for 20 minutes. Leave them in the oven with the door ajar to cool for at least 15 mins. They will puff up when cooking then flatten once cooled. Leaving them to cool slightly in the oven will help to prevent cracking. Pull them out and set aside to cool completely. Then place in the fridge to chill for about 1 hour.

Warm the cream then add the chocolate, stir until shiny and melted. Spread the shiny ganache onto cheesecakes. Top with a strawberry.
You can double the ganache and have it drip over the sides, but I like the strawberry flavour to come through, not the chocolate.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soap Base

I started to experiment with making cold pressed soap's about 6 months ago. And through lots of trial and error, have come up with a recipe I am very happy with.

I have been using the same base for my hand made cold pressed soaps, then I add special or extra oils, skin safe fragrances from a reputable company, Australian clays, and cosmetic grade pigment dispersions (colours) that are vegan/vegetarian friendly, the list is endless of what you can add to soap. The soaps are also Vegan unless otherwise stated. I will be trying to make a goat milk soap, so that of coarse is not vegan, unless you use goat's milk products!

I like to use the best ingredients that I can afford to buy.

I also cure the soap for at least 6 weeks minimum, usually longer. I find it makes a harder (longer lasting,) and gentler bar.

Anyone can make soap, it is easy, but making a great soap is very difficult. And trying to make a bar of soap affordable isn't easy either, especially when you use great i.e expensive products.

My vegan friendly soap bases are made from:

Organic Coconut Oil, for super lather, it's also great for all skin types.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, conditioning and highly nutritious.
Unrefined Shea Butter, it is hailed for its protecting and emollient properties. Used as a treatment for minor skin irritations. The reason I like to use unrefined as opposed to the 'pretty' white refined Shea, is because they are sometimes chemically extracted, or bleached to make them so white. I prefer as natural as possible, and I like the natural nutty smell.
Mango Butter in equal quantity to the Shea, is highly prized in the cosmetic industry, it act's like a mild lubricant for the skin. Mango butter has a very luxurious feel.
Jojoba Oil, is super rich in vitamin E and very close to skin's own sebum. 
Sodium Hydroxide and Demineralised Water

Monday, September 20, 2010

Etsy Store!!

I opened my Etsy store on Friday night. I am super excited about this as well as very nervous!

I make cold pressed soap. I love making it so much that it sort of got out of hand. I actually never intended to sell the soaps. I selfishly wanted them all. But something happens when you begin soaping, YOU CAN'T STOP!!! You think of different ways to make them, as well as the many different oils you can use, not to mention the different fragrances.

I had to give most of them away, I couldn't possibly use that much soap on my own....

The feedback that I received about the soap is what got me thinking about an online store. Everyone that received the soap's loved them, and wanted to know if they could buy them also. I personally wasn't sure. So I just kept handing them out, wanting as much feedback as possible, before I did the whole store front thing.

So I am taking the plunge and selling them on Etsy. It is very scary for me to be doing this. It is such a personal project for me, I originally started because of my problem skin, that it terrifies me to have strangers want to use my products and be able to judge them, eek!!

Personally I think it is the best thing I have ever used on my skin. But hey I'm allowed to be biased right?

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Newcastle Farmer's Market

Today hubby and I went to Newcastle Farmer's Market.
There was heavy security at the front. It was so much fun. We both love going to farmer's markets and buying fresh produce, and seeing all the character's that run these farms and stalls.

There was everything that we wanted and more! Beautiful cheeses, chocolates, clothing, live music, Angus meat, plants, pink lady apples stand, fresh herbs to grow, fruit and vegetables, including one of the best organic vegetable stalls I have seen!

 I bought a brie cheese and some quince jam to take home. It was delicious!

These chocolates tasted amazing, so many flavours. Chili, Caramel, Mint and Cherry and lots more!

Award winning trout stand, I love trout, I think I would otherwise be vegetarian if it wasn't for this fish.

 This stall was gluten free!! So gorgeous. I wanted one of everything!

Of coarse I bought some of these doggie treats for Chuck. And since we have been home he has already woofed one down! He is normally so fussy, so I didn't buy too many. But next time I'm going to be stocking up!

Beautiful soaps, as well as candles and melts.

I hope everyone had as great a weekend as I did. Looking forward to the new week and all the possibilities! xo