Recipe

Oh, Fudge

I know, I know, what happened to the healthy recipes I started out with? I’ve got more coming, I promise! But since this blog was created in the spirit of passing things on that I find helpful, I can’t not post this recipe. Fudge is a crowd pleaser, plain and simple, and this one’s so easy to pull together at the last minute – as in, when you find out about a bake sale fundraiser with less than 24 hours notice, two shifts at two jobs to get through, and an entire week’s worth of washing, cleaning and grocery shopping to do.

Nigella friggin’ who?

Even better than the convenience of this recipe is how much people love it. It’s made many appearances at parties, beach bonfires and fundraisers over the years. My friend Marc still talks about that time I made some for his birthday, and the leftover bits around the edges from my latest batch were popular enough that when my boyfriend went to have another piece, he discovered his housemates had polished off the lot overnight. Even the bus driver on my way over there asked for seconds!

So no, it’s not healthy or gourmet or even really wholesomely home-made. But there’s a time and a place for this fudge, and it works.

Chocolate Fuge

Make a meal of it:

– 500 grams chocolate (I use Cadbury’s 70% Old Gold, because there’s usually a two-for-one deal on it at the supermarket)
– 1 tin (395 grams) condensed milk
– 2 tbsp butter

Optional:

Nuts, spices, lollies, whatever you can think of to jazz it up a bit! I usually opt for roast almonds and a chili chai spice blend (cinnamon, cloves, allspice and cayenne – all to taste.)

1. Over low heat in a saucepan, melt the base ingredients together. I should probably advise to place the saucepan inside another frying pan with some water to keep the chocolate from burning, but to be honest I never bother with that myself. I’m just careful not to let it get too hot and to stir constantly.
2. Once you have a big, melted ball in the saucepan, stir in the extra spices/nuts/lollies.
3. Spread out onto a large plate or baking dish, lined with baking paper.
4. Poke and prod until you have a more or less flat slab of fudge. Some of the butter may creep to the top during this process – dab it off with some paper towel if you need to.
5. Cover and allow to set in the fridge overnight.

The fudge is melt-proof throughout most of the year, with the exception of Adelaide summers when it’s best stored in the fridge. You can make harder or softer versions by adjusting the condensed milk : chocolate ratio.

oh fudge

Bake Sale Bonus: Carousel cupcakes! I was making the fudge for a fundraiser for the horse shelter I volunteer for, so naturally some horsey-themed treats also had to be created! This was a cute idea that proved very popular with the younger ones and sold fast (even though they were just boring vanilla cupcakes).

carousel cupcake

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Alfajores de Maicena

 

Alfajores are so many things to me that really I need a whole other post to bang on about it. Maybe one day I’ll find the words and write it, but for now all you need to know is that these innocent looking biscuits are, well, not so innocent. They’re close to my heart. We have history. It’s a long story.

They’re made with love and all cliches aside, I swear it’s the ultimate secret ingredient.

Note: this recipe makes Argentinean (speficially, Mendozan) alfajores. Other provinces of Argentina have slightly different variations, as do Chile and Peru. They’re all delicious.

alfajores

Make a meal of it:

200g butter, softened
200g plain flour
300g corn flour (this is the ‘maicena’ part)
1/2 tsp bicarb
2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
3 yolks
1 glug cognac, or whatever’s handy. Rum works fine.
1-2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp lemon rind, grated
Dash of milk
Dulce de leche and shreded coconut, for filling.

  • Combine the wet ingredients, including butter, and add to the dry.
  • Mix and knead everything into a firm dough – usually I have to add a dash or two of milk to get the right consistency – but be careful because too sticky and they’ll be impossible to roll.
  • Refrigerate the slab of biscuit dough for 15 minutes or so, then take handfuls and flatten with a rolling pin until about 3mm thick.
  • Cut into circles using a wine or champagne class.
  • Bake till cooked, but not quite golden-brown. Alfajores have a very unique texture (which is what makes them lovely) and if you make them too crisp then they’ll just break when you try to sandwich them together. Don’t panic if they seem a little soft still, after they cool down they tend to crisp up more than you’d expect. I never understood chemistry but the melt-in-your-mouth thing must not be messed with!
  • Once cool, sandwich them oreo-style with dulce de leche and roll in shredded coconut.
  • Like most biscuits, they’re best when left in a tin overnight first.

alfajoresmaicena

Greek “Pear” Biscuits

 

I discovered these at a distant relative (I think?)’s Big Fat Greek Wedding. Or rather, at the pre-wedding, mother-of-the-bride-hosted Big Fat Greek Feast. It’s probably bad karma or bad superstition to make these for normal occasions, but I do it frequently and so far I haven’t been struck by lightning or anything. They’re pretty, subtly flavoured, quick to make and easy to transport. They’re not knock-your-socks-off amazing, but it’s a good recipe to have on hand for when you want to be polite and bring something along, but not break the bank or stay up all night slaving in the kitchen. The rose flavour tends to get people talking, too. Just.. y’know… don’t put Windex on them.

pear-biscuit

Make a meal of it:

3 cups almond meal
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup semolina
3tsp or so rose syrup (rose water or rose flavouring will also do)
3 egg whites
Cloves and icing sugar

1. Whisk the egg whites till frothy, but not peaking.
2. Add all the ingredients together (minus cloves and icing sugar), mix well. You should have a sweet, sticky ball of dough.
3. Grab tablespoon sized chunks and shape them into ‘pears’, pushing a whole clove in the top to form the stem.
4. Bake for 15-20minsuntil crisp, but not burning on the top. They’ll still be a bit soft on the inside, but shouldn’t be gooey.
5. Dust with icing sugar while warm and presto!

Note: I store these in the fridge just to be on the safe side.

pear-bisctuit2

 

Chimichurri

 

Ok, here’s the thing about chimichurri: everyone has an opinion, everyone has a preference, everyone thinks they know ‘authentic’ better than the next yanqui, and absolutely eeerrrybody has time for it. The authors over at Asado Argentina set a few things straight about all the fuss and the myths surrounding this magical green (and sometimes not green) sauce, and I applaud them for doing so. I mean shit, nobody can even decide if it’s a gaucho thing, an Italian immigrant thing, or if it’s from the Basque word “tximitxurri”: a mixture of several things in no particular order. I’m banking on a mix of all three.

What follows is how I like my chimichurri: chopped, not blended; parsley, not coriander; boozy, spicy, and onion-and-tomato-free. I’m not going to tell you it’s the best, or the most traditional, or that I should know because I’ve attended my fair share of weekend asados. All I will say is it went down pretty well at a barbeque the other day despite my mistakenly telling a house full of Brazilans that the sauce is from Argentina, circa World Cup finals week.

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Oops.

Also, we discovered that the stuff goes even better with kangaroo than it does with beef… ‘straya mate!

chimichurri

Make a meal of it:

Note: I didn’t write down the quantities of everything, mainly because I was too busy chopping and mixing and taste-testing, but also because you just need to test it yourself till it tastes ‘right’. You basically can’t go wrong, as any combination of the main ingredients is going to end up pretty damn tasty anyway.

Roughly:
2 large bunches parsley, finely chopped.
2 tbsp dried oregano, plus a handful of fresh oregano, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp paprika
3 tsp dried chili flakes
Juice of 3/4 lemon
A few shakes of pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Olive oil and red wine to make it saucy

Start with the parsley, oregano, oil, chili, and garlic to form the base of the sauce, then add the other ingredients to your liking. Personally I think the texture of chimi is part of the appeal, so I won’t blend it, and tomatoes & onions should be saved for the salsa criolla, I think – but each to their own. I really do think the bolognese rule applies here and wine makes all the diference. Make a big batch before a barbeque and freeze individual portions in sandwich bags to jazz up those boring steak and salad weeknights.

 

Lassi a la Little L

 

mangolassi

Wandering around Adelaide’s Central Market in a bit of a dehydrated, sleep-deprived daze, I saw some pretty Mexican mangoes arranged in one of the stalls. I thought mangoes. I thought coconut water. I thought smoothie. Then halfway through blending them I thought, ‘Hey, this is almost like a Lassi!’ So I added spices and bam! Delicious & guilt free mango almost-lassi.

Make a meal of it:

250 mls coconut water
1 mango
1/3 cup natural yoghurt or kefir
2 tbsp chia seeds, soaked for ten minutes in some of the coconut water
a pinch each of salt, cardamom and turmeric

mango

Sugar-Free Breakfast Muffins: Banana, Walnut & Oat Bran

 

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With crazy long work weeks over two jobs, a reasonably active social life, and a cottage with a broken heater, some mornings it gets REALLY hard to part ways with my electric blanket. How to get that extra ten minutes in bed and not have any breakfast dishes to deal with before running (literally, most of the time) out the door? Muffins, that’s how! These babies can be made ahead of time and are great to just throw in the handbag on those crazy-busy days. Use this recipe as a base and substitute the dates and walnuts for whatever fillings take your fancy.

Make a meal of it:

2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Handful dates, chopped
2 1/2 cups oat bran
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp baking powder
cinnamon & nutmeg to taste

1. Mix wet ingredients.
2. Mix dry ingredients.
3. Mix together.
4. Spoon the mix into patty pans and bake ’till cooked through & crusty on top.

Jack Daniels Sauce (TGI Friday’s Ripoff)

Yeah, I totally tried this.

It totally worked.

I’m totally gonna do it again sometime.

jack daniels sauce

I started with this recipe and pretty much followed the steps, though I doubled the portions to have enough to freeze. Also I think I more than tripled the Jack – next time I would skip the water nearly altogether and use Jack instead – otherwise, you get all the pineapple and onion, and none of the bourbon. I’d also use just a touch less cayenne. I found some of the steps quite time consuming, painful (mincing onions) and not really necessary since the texture of the sauce wouldn’t suffer if it were blended. The taste is spot on, though. Roasting the garlic is absolutely key, as is making a few too many Jack & Pineapples to drink while you wait for it.

End result: Little L Kitchen Karaoke: Tipsy, Pyjamas and Wooden Spoon Microphone Edition.

Sorry not sorry, neighbours.

tumblr_mmibesybpk1ry2jcoo1_500-1

Make a meal of it:

Note: I followed the original recipe, give or give a bit of extra bourbon. This is how I’ll do it next time, because I found it an unnecessarily lengthy process and I’m pretty patient when it comes to… umm.. slow food?

1 head of garlic, roasted*
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1c pineapple juice
Dash of water
1/4 cup teriyaki
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/3 cups brown sugar (ideally I would cut this down, but I think it needs to be there for a thickener as well)
3 tbsp lemon juice
One small onion, roughly chopped and caramelised
1/3 cup Jack Daniels
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
Pinch cayenne pepper

1. Lightly caramelise the onion in the olive oil.
2. Put onion, pineapple juice and pineapple chunks in a blender till smooth.
3. Transfer back to saucepan and add sugar, lemon juice, jack, teriyaki and soy sauces.
4. Squeeze out roasted garlic from the head. It should come out like a paste. Whisk together with the existing mix.
5. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer, adding a little extra water if it’s too thick.
6. Allow to bubble away gently until desired consistency is reached: the original recipe advises 40-50mins but I have no clue how long it took mine, because I was too busy with the kitchen karaoke.

* To roast garlic, take a whole head and chop the stalk end off so the top of the cloves are sliced into, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and bake till fragrant and mushy.