Thursday, 23 August 2012

Peanut Brownies

Peanut Brownies

On the weekend we lit the fire pit in the garden, fired up the BBQ and opened up the bungalow at the end of the garden and used the kitchenette for setting out the food and drinks (instead of trudging backwards and forwards through the house to the kitchen).  We stocked the TV in the bedsit with enough suitable dvds to keep the little ones occupied when they had had enough running around the garden in the dark. It worked well.

Fire pit designed and made by Birthday Boy
BBQ kept us warm too
Two of my children were born a week apart a year apart and so over the years, even though they are a boy and a girl they have had combined birthday parties and so this year we had a double birthday celebration. Everyone brought some speciality for the BBQ (which I will post later) and so it was my job to provide the "something sweet" to take carriage of the candles.
Something easy (always my preference) but something that could be popped in the mouth with not too much trouble in the great outdoors.

Yummy homemade hamburgers

Brownies seemed like the perfect solution - and who doesn't love a little brownie sprinkled with icing sugar small enough to be gone in two bites (or even one!)

Once again dear old Margaret Fulton was trusted (but had to make some alteration to cooking times to take into account a powerful fan forced oven).

1/2 cup cocoa powder
125g butter melted
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
1 cup self raising flour sifted
125g unsalted peanuts chopped
Mix thoroughly

Putting them all together
Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the cocoa
Put the rest of the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the eggs and butter mixture
Beat together thoroughly for at least three minutes

Scrape the bowl clean

Pour the mixture into a lined and greased slice/lamington tin 28x18 cm
Bake in a moderate preheated oven 180C for 30-40 mins or until firm depending on your oven
Mine were more cooked than I would have liked and so next time I am only going to cook them for 20-
25mins.This made 24 lovely little bites - cut while still in the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Birthday boy with his Brownies
The Birthday Girl got my Orange Halva Cake except I used lemons instead. Lemons are so plentiful at the moment and I think I like it better than the orange version.

Make a wish!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Pasta - homemade

We eat quite a bit of pasta. Sometimes twice a week in various guises.  Our fav - the quickest and easiest is spaghetti or fettucini with a meat Bolognaise sauce.  I had never made my own pasta until last year,  I don't think I would go back to having shop bought as I think fresh homemade is just something else. And I was amazed at how simple it is.

On a trip to England last year my daughter and I had a few days down in Brighton.  I hadn't been to Brighton for years. I really love it. The architecture, the Palace, the Lanes,  the little restaurants and tea rooms, the Pier and the rock.  We didn't think we needed to pre-book anywhere to stay, we would just book something when we got there.  What a mistake that was.  It was like trying to find a room at the Inn and we were nearly ready to take a stable. We had my granddaughter with us at the time who was only a baby then, which proved to also add to our woes as some of the lovely little bed and breakfast places said "no children"!
Anyway we later found out that a Union Convention was being held over the weekend and every room was booked. We ended up taking one room here and one room there but it didn't dampen our weekend. It had become an adventure.

On the Saturday night we booked a pasta masterclass at Recipease a Jamie Oliver cafe, larder and demonstration kitchen. It was such good fun. A small group worked together in the demo kitchen and then we ate our own cooked pasta and a glass of red afterwards.  I haven't looked back since.  And I have passed my new learnt skills onto all sorts of men women and children.

What do you need?

100g of "OO" Italian flour and 1 large egg per person (this makes a generous serve)
simple so far......
In a bowl mix the egg into the flour with a knife until all the flour is mixed (the last scrapes can be drawn together with your hand).

Turn the dough out onto a floured bench and knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and the gluten is released = bounces back when pushed with a finger.

Flatten the dough so it can be fed through your pasta maker.
With your pasta maker dial on No.1 feed the dough through the wringer.

Gradually increase the dial number so your dough becomes thinner and thinner.

Keep your dough well floured between each dial increase.

I generally don't go past No. 7 on the dial and I feel this is thin enough.

The cutting part of my pasta maker has two sizes - one for spaghetti and one for fettucini.  If you wanted it thicker you could cut it by hand. If it breaks or falls apart don't worry just re-roll it.

Uncut pasta sheets are perfect to make lasagna as you can cut the sheets to what ever length that suits your dish.

While you are making your pasta put a large pot of water on to boil.  Add salt - this helps to keep the pasta from fraying and becoming to soft on the outside.

It will need to be bubbling madly before you throw in your pasta.

Remember while you are working with your pasta make sure you keep it well floured -  this will stop it sticking together.

Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook so don't walk away and leave it.

Taste a strand as soon as it starts to float to the top of the pot.  Strain when it is cooked to your liking.  Don't rinse.
Serve immediately with your sauce of choice.

And there you have it perfect every time!