Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Favourite Cookware

Le Creuset

I'm a fan of really good quality bake ware and cookware. I use my Thermomix a lot, but when cooking larger quantities or things that the Thermomix isn't suitable for, I love my Le Crueset cookware. I only have two items that I purchased online and I use these over and over again.

I love the fact that I can brown meat in the pans and get a really dark caramelisation. The  dishes will go on the stove top or in the oven and can cook like a slow cooker. They wash up like a dream, absolutely spotless!

Le Creuset cook ware is an investment, it isn't cheap. It's sometimes available at a special price, but usually only limited colours. I really don't care about colour. I bought the red ones as only blue and red were available.
They're also very heavy, being enamelled cast iron, so not suitable for people who have arthritis or other conditions which would affect their ability to heft a full casserole from the oven.

I used to be a fan of Scanpan, but now only use their baking dishes. I bought the Scanpan frying pan and wok when they first came to Australia and was disappointed as they certainly were not 'non-stick'. The baking dishes, however, are exceptional. Definitely non stick and easy to clean.

You certainly don't need great quality cookware to be a good cook, but it does help. My eldest sister is an exceptional cook and has always had cheap saucepans and kitchenware. I honestly don't know how she's managed to produce the sort of food she has with only the most basic of equipment. It can be done, but I'd rather not have to.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ice Cream Containers

What is it with the manufacturers of ice cream lately? Where have our normal ice cream containers gone?

I asked these questions of my local store owner and was very cross to find that Peters have sold out to Multinational giant, Nestle. How could they do that? I loathe multinationals and try to avoid buying these brands as much as possible.

Nestle, in their weird sort of wisdom, chose to make these strange little tubs with lids that are almost impossible to remove. I fight with the damn things every time my nearest and dearest wants to have ice cream with his dessert (sacrilege). My wonderful local store owner agreed that we should be using local products, so he now buys Bulla ice cream. But, low and behold, they also have the horrible containers with the impossible lids!

These containers may fit into the freezer a bit better, but you can't re-use them. In a world where we're being encouraged to "Reduce, Re-use and Recycle", why have companies taken away the good old ice cream container?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Perfect Patty Cakes

My family seem to love patty cakes. They're easy to eat, especially since they can be just grabbed, even with hands covered in grease, and quickly devoured.
I still go by the name "Patty Cakes", the Australian name, not "Cup Cakes", an Americanisation that is creeping in to our vocabulary.
My no fail recipe is a beauty, because it was originally a food processor recipe, so is perfect for the Thermomix.
I use paper patty pans, available from supermarkets and specialty stores.

Perfect Patty Cakes

240g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
220g butter, softened
150g castor sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

Place butter, vanilla and sugar into the Thermomix bowl and mix on speed 4/3 minutes, scraping down frequently.
Add eggs one at a time on speed 4 and mix for around 30 seconds each. Scrape down in between. Mixture will curdle due to the ratio of egg to butter.
Add sifted flour and mix on dough setting/30 seconds or until incorporated. Use spatula to assist.
Use ice cream scoop to half fill patty pans and bake at 180 degrees C for about 15 minutes.
Recipe makes around 16.

Ice with buttercream icing. The following recipe makes heaps of icing, but it keeps in the fridge for a few weeks. It's adapted from a recipe by Serious Cakes and is fabulous for piping.
I haven't tried this is in the Thermomix yet, but it would be excellent as sometimes the mixer can put unwanted air bubbles in the icing.

Buttercream Icing/Filling

300g salted butter, softened
145g Copha, softened (or other vegetable shortening)
5 Tbsp Cream
2 tsp vanilla
780g pure icing sugar
3 Tbsp glucose

Soften copha over hot water, stirring regularly until smooth and creamy. Add to softened butter and mix with electric mixer until creamy and lighter in colour. Add vanilla. Slowly add icing sugar and continue mixing for about a minute. Add glucose and, depending on the weather, the amount of cream necessary to achieve a good consistency. For piping and in warmer weather, 2 tablespoons may be sufficient.
Add more cream if using as a filling.
Do not refrigerate iced cakes.

I've adjusted this recipe by using less sugar.