Monthly Archives: September 2012

Maeve’s Melting Moments (Or: We are joined by an excellent guest blogger)

My friend Maeve is nearly 7 and is one of the world’s best sous-chefs. You can see some very old photos of our previous cooking exploits on my old blog, where we made rainbow cake and pink lamingtons. She visited our house one afternoon when Katie was over and said she wanted to bake us a treat. We declared that she would have to be a guest blogger on New Fat Ladies. She isn’t fat but she is fairly new. I will now hand over to Maeve and her assistant (and mother), Siobhán. – SJ

I wanted to bake these holidays because it’s really fun. I baked with my mum.

I love melting moments but I don’t want to marry them. But that’s why I chose them to bake.

First we softened the butter. We blended (Ed.: creamed!) the butter with electric beaters until it was pale. Then I used the scale and I weighed the flour, icing sugar and custard powder. Then mum gave me a wooden spoon and I mixed them with the butter. It was easy at first and then it was hard!

Will you look at how adorable she is? Also, those clothes? HER MUM MAKES THEM. AMAZING.

We rolled bits of the mixture into balls, and then after we rolled them and made sure they were round, we squished them with a fork. Then we put them in the oven and then we made the icing.

Then I had to go to bed, so Mummy put them together.

The bits I liked best about making them was rolling them into balls, and tasting the icing!

We shared them with Essie and Sajee and Robin, and I think they liked them. They were one of the yummiest things in the whole wide world, along with mudcake, choc chip cookies, chicken satay and fishcakes.

(me again: These really were delicious! The lemony icing really cut through the shortbread biscuits. I actually liked them more than any other melting moment I’ve ever eaten. – SJ)

Maeve’s Melting Moments

Helper’s note: Here’s our recipe, which came from taste.com.au, simplified for the 6yo reader

For the biscuits:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 115g plain flour
  • 45g icing sugar
  • 50g custard powder

For the icing:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 2tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1tbs lemon juice

Tell your grownup helper to preheat the oven to 160°C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. Beat butter until pale and creamy. Add the flour, icing sugar and custard powder and use a wooden spoon to stir it all together.

Use your (really clean!) hands to roll the dough mixture into small balls. Place the balls 3cm apart on the lined trays. Use a fork dusted in icing sugar to gently flatten. Get your grownup to put the trays in the oven, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 15 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from oven (grownup again, sorry!) and set aside for 30 minutes to cool.

Icing: Beat the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice and beat until combined. Spread icing on half the biscuits and sandwich together with remaining biscuits.

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About a week after we moved to our new house, I heard a weird noise coming closer and closer. “What sort of neighbourhood have we moved to? What on earth is that horrible noise?” As it got closer, I realised that it was someone selling fruit and veggies off the back of a ute and hawking their wares over a loudspeaker. It brought back a really clear memory of growing up in Kalgoorlie and having a fruit and veggie truck that came around.

I feel like it is important to note that everyone else I know who lives in our suburb have never heard or seen the fruit and veggie ute so maybe it is all a figment of my imagination. The following suggests it isn’t though.

Now, it has taken a year but I was finally prepared with money and so on when I heard him approaching. Well, Esther was prepared – she ran out and bought us strawberries, apples and a bag of blood oranges.

I ate as many blood oranges as I could in the next couple of days but there were still heaps left. Then some of our friends gave us a bag of lemons and Esther made a several litres of Lemon Cordial and it inspired me.

The rest of the blood oranges which were getting a little bit sad and over-ripe would become Blood Orange Cordial.

Blood Orange Cordial

Inspired by this recipe on Allrecipes.com.au

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 Tbsp citric acid
  • 1 Tbsp tartaric acid
  • juice of 8 blood oranges (approximately. I didn’t count.)

Dissolve sugar in water over heat in a large saucepan.

Add citric and tartaric acids.Stir to ensure that all is completely dissolved and cool.

Stir in juice and bottle into clean, dry bottles.

Store in the fridge.

How to sterilise your bottles

Preheat your oven to 110C.

Wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

Boil in a stockpot (or the biggest saucepan you have) for at least 10 minutes.

Carefully (i.e. use some tongs, you numpty) place on a clean oven tray and dry in the oven for 15 minutes.

Blood Orange Cordial (Or: A delicious spring tipple.)

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A Tale of Two Starters (Or: A long and sordid story involving murder.)

About two years ago, I bought the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook, thanks to a gift voucher from some family members. Now, I’ve never been to the Bourke Street Bakery due to Melbourne-ness and the fact that we never seem to have time when we occasionally go to Sydney, but I had read so much about it and was keen to try out some of the recipes in the book.

I’d also been thinking about wanting to expand my bread making repertoire: I went through a stage of making our bread but it was a fairly boring plain white loaf which was hard to get enthusiastic about.

After leafing through the book, what I needed was sourdough.

I love sourdough. The texture, the taste, the way it makes everything tastier — sourdough is a total winner.

And, more correctly, what I needed was a sourdough starter.

I’m not going to say it wasn’t disheartening when I read about starting a starter in the Bourke Street Bakery book and realising that it would be about a month before I could even make a loaf of bread. And that I would be caring for this starter like it was another pet (which we had four of at the time). And there was still the possibility that it would all go wrong and some sort of chemical shenanigans would render my starter sad and unusable.

However, my reasoning was this:
1. I love bread making and I love working with yeast.
2. I actually find the time that bread making takes is really quite relaxing and therapeutic.
3. This is like making my own yeast!
4. It takes even longer!
5. It results in sourdough.

So I started a starter. I needed to make it like a member of the family so that I remembered to care for it. And so Stefan was born.

I worked hard on Stefan – feeding him, watching him grow, throwing a bunch of him out on a regular basis. He made delicious bread the few times I actually got to use him. I wrote detailed instructions for people house-sitting as to what he needed and when.

Sadly, however, we moved house. And I became a starter murderer.

Look, it wasn’t on purpose! He was moved with the utmost of care! I tried to reinvigorate my love of feeding and caring for him! It just wasn’t happening. I let him languish and he died. I murdered Stefan.

In the last two weeks, I decided it was time to start again.

Everyone, meet Sigrid.

Note: this picture is from a week or so ago. She is much bubblier now.

She seems strong and healthy so far. I’ll keep you updated on how she’s going and, obviously, the delicious things she helps us bake.

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Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup (or, what you could be eating for dinner tonight)

Occasionally here at the New Fat Ladies, S-J and I do a bit of cooking on our own. This recipe is one such meal. S-J is also brewing up a singular sensation recipe of her own that is coming shortly, so look out for that (you’ve probably seen spoilers if you follow us on Twitter and/or Instagram, we’re the @newfatladies at both of those).

So, I have been making this soup for a fairly long time now. It’s my go-to cheer up/don’t be sick/I’ll make you love me with food/today is a day that ends in Y – soup!

It’s fairly basic, if you can chop and stir and reach the stove – you can make it. I made it up based on chicken soups I’ve had in the past. It used to be more complicated with other veggies, herbs and spices, but pared down like this to its basic parts, this is how I love it. Feel free to veg it up (finely sliced kale/spinach is great in it, so is a mix of finely diced potato/sweet potato and turnip minus the cream for a chicken and veggie soup, add parsley and lemon to freshen it up) and slurp it down.

Image

I take terrible Instagram photos because the spiffy camera does not live at my house. NO APOLOGIES!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Time: approx 30 mins for me, so 45 mins if you haven’t made it eleventy billion times
Yield: enough for 6-8 people, freezes well.

  • 4 chicken breasts/5 chicken thighs (or a combination of both)
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 500 ml water (optional)
  • 50 gms butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek (thinly sliced)
  • 3 large carrots (finely diced)
  • 4 celery stalks (finely diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely sliced, or crushed)
  • 4 stalks of thyme
  • ¼ cup Polenta/Cornmeal (uncooked)
  • 1 cup dried egg fettucine (broken into one inch pieces) or orrechiette
  • ½ cup thickened cream or  1/2 cup full cream milk
  • S+P to taste

Note: Please have a heatproof mug/pyrex jug/something that can be dipped into a hot pot, at the ready.

Cook the chicken**

In a medium sized pot pour in one litre of chicken stock, bring to a gentle boil. Add the chicken breasts/thighs and return to the boil (if they are not fully covered, add the extra 500 ml water). Reduce heat and cook at a high simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove one fillet and check to make sure all pinkness is gone. Remove the rest of the fillets to a bowl to cool. Leave stock in pot.

Make the soup bit

In a large pot on medium high heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add leeks and garlic and cook until just soft, add carrots, celery, thyme and S+P and sauté until all coated and shiny and beginning to stick to the bottom. Pour stock from your chicken pot into this large pot, add the other litre of stock and bring up to the boil.

Reduce the heat and allow the vegetables to simmer until tender (but not squishy). Using your heatproof jug/mug/whatever, remove about a cup of the hot liquid. Add the cornmeal to this jug and whisk with a fork into a paste. Set aside. Shred/chop your cooled chicken, set aside.

Cook the pasta, and thicken it all up

Return pot to the boil and add pasta. Boil for 8 – 10 minutes. Reduce heat and add the cornmeal/stock mixture back into the big pot. Stir well to combine. Pour in the cream and the chicken and stir again. Leave to barely simmer for 2 – 3 minutes to reheat the chicken (don’t let it boil again as cream may split). Fish out the thyme stalks. Serve in bowls, and it doesn’t need it, but it is delicious with buttery bread on the side.

Now eat it, I promise that unless you are lactose/protein/gluten intolerant, you will immediately feel at least 10% better than you did before.

** I have also been known to make this with a barbecued chook from the supermarket, just remove all skin and stuffing (or keep the stuffing for sandwiches NOM NOM NOM), shred remaining chicken and add to the pot at the end just before serving.

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Challah! (or, The New Fat Ladies illustrate their love of Jewish baked goods through, well, baking.)

Sesame Challah Glamour Shot

Today we’re baking bread! Rising, resting, kneading, growing, shaping, plaiting, washing, baking, and eating. One of the staples, it is a delicious thing on its own, but is in my opinion, best as a vehicle for any number of sandwich toppings, used in dumplings, puddings, stuffings, crumbing, and baking!

I am a bit of a bread making novice. I’ve used a trusty breadmaker many, many times with success (pour flour, yeast and other things in, press button, walk away, peer in the through the lid, walk away, peer in again, BEEP, have bread!) but have had mixed results with breads made by hand. I think this is down to my lack of ability to put something somewhere and leave it alone. I am forever lifting the teatowel on top on the bowl with the dough in it “just to check” which I’m fairly sure lets out the heat and magic bread air that makes the thing rise so beautifully. So with all that in mind, I was super excited to try bread (and not just any bread, a bread from Deb, our not-so-secret hero) with S-J who has had much more hand-made bread experience and success.

 

So after much excited recipe perusing and exclamations of our secret food dreams, we came to the decision to make Challah (it beat out tortillas, bagels, soft pretzels and cinnamon scrolls), based on the delicious looking recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

There is something so wonderful about Jewish food. So comforting, warming and magical. This bread, with its pretty braided construction and double egg wash finish is the perfect blend of sweet, mellow, and delicious.

I have to say that I think both of us pretty much had the best time ever making these loaves. There was so much high fiving going on it could have been the Olympics of bread-making, and the smell that filled S-J’s and E’s kitchen tonight has to be one of the happiest smells ever.

To be honest, we pretty much followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe to the letter, with the small exception that we left out the sultanas/currants and S-J topped hers with sesame seeds and I left mine unadorned by any seeds of any kind (seeds on/in/around bread is a sadness that I cannot abide). Seriously though, the loaves are the prettiest baked goods I’ve ever seen.

 

LOOK AT THAT BRAID! Well played, Katie!

Challah!!

Adapted from Joan Nathan via Smitten Kitchen
Time: all up about 4 hours for us, but we cooked dinner and baby wrangled too
Yield: 2 loaves

  • 11g of active dry yeast
  • 13g sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 8 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for flouring surfaces)
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

In the large bowl of your mixer (if you have one, or any large bowl if you’re using elbow grease), dissolve yeast and first measure of sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

Whisk oil into the yeast mixture, and then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time. Once incorporated, mix the second measure of sugar and the salt in.

Grease the dough hook attachment for your mixer. Replace the bowl with yeast/sugar/egg/salt/water mixture onto the mixer.
With the machine on low/mixing with strong arms, gradually add all of the flour (you may need to stop and scrape the sides occasionally). When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (Note: Deb expressed concerns about the dough not fitting into a standard size Kitchen Aid. We used S-J’s Kmix with great success for the mixing and kneading. We oiled the dough hook at the beginning which helps to keep the dough from sticking too much. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides and hook quite often until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it feels sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface while you clean out the bowl and grease it with the extra oil, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size (our resting place wasn’t very warm so it was a half-hearted rising and pitiful punch down – but the bread was still good, HAVE NO FEAR!). Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour (second rising, we left our bowl in a sink full of warm water – a much better rise).

Now for the best part, braiding the loaves!

To make a 6-braid challah, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls (S-J was excellent and weighed hers out, I am lazy and went the eyeball-it approach). With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 30 cms long and 4 cms wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another.  Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. Make a second loaf the same way.

We read the instructions out to each other as we braided and this was a much easier way to do it, there’s no way either of us could read and braid at the same time. TOO HARD! At this point you should stand back, high five your baking partner, then do a little (or big) happy dance around your flour dusted kitchen singing about how amazing challah is.

Once you’ve finished your dance, place each loaf on its own sheet pan lined with baking paper.

Beat one egg and brush it on loaves. Leave the loaves to rise for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 180C and with another beaten egg, brush the loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using.

Bake for 30 minutes with one loaf on the top rack and one on the bottom, turning and swapping racks at 15 minutes. Try not to overcook. The loaves will be lovely and shiny and a deep brown.

Cool loaves on a rack.

Nom with great abandon!!

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