Wednesday, August 18, 2010

World's Best....

World’s Best.....

Many years ago I began the world’s largest collection of cookbooks. Thankfully *Goggle (*names has been changed to protect something from whoknowswhat) saved me from going down that path. Goggle is great. I use it to discover most of my dishes and then I print them off and file all the crowd-pleasers into my own folder for future use.

How do you get a great recipe? Well, you can do what I often do and type the following in front of the recipe you are seeking on Goggle: ‘World’s Best.......’

Don’t snicker. If you are going to go to the trouble of cooking; spending all that money on ingredients, using all those utensils, dirtying all those dishes....the result needs to be worth it. Do I hear an Amen? You don’t want to go and break your back and your piggybank for an only so-so dish. I want to be rewarded with a triumph, a crowd pleaser.

So Goggling ‘world’s best’ is often a good starting point. Now of course, there is the occasional issue of a recipe-giver being a little too self-complimentary, and just imagining they have a recipe worthy of the title. Thus it is helpful that most recipe-sharing sites implement a user-rating system and I research THAT as my guide to the authenticity of the World’s Best title.
And through this means I have found World’s Best Brownie
(which I have not cooked yet), World’s Second Best Brownie and World’s Best Choc Chip Cookies, both of which I make all the time and have shared with you. Today I bring you World’s Best Banana Cake!

World's Best Banana Cake


125g salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 rounded cup very ripe, mashed banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs ( Yes, I added one extra egg to the world's best banana cake recipe; trust me on this Sometimes I even add 2! *gasp*)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon buttermilk ( I used plain milk)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius fan-forced. If you don't have a fan-forced oven, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease the side and base of a 22cm diameter round cake pan. Line base of the pan with non-stick baking paper.

Place butter, sugar, banana, vanilla and eggs in a food processor.
Process for about 2 minutes.
Scrape down sides of processor.
Add buttermilk and pulse to combine.
Sift flour, and bicarb of soda together into a large bowl.
Add flour mixture to food processor and process until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer or knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Leave cake to cool on a wire rack. Spread cooled cake with cream cheese icing. Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Icing

90g cream cheese, softened
45g butter, softened
1 2/3 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice and beat to combine. Spread icing over top and sides of cooled cake.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kettle Grill

Solo Girl decided to have a cookout for her pre- birthday sleepover. We had dusted off the kettle grill last weekend and used it for grilling sausages and making S’mores.

This is something we used to do regularly when we were country folk, but somehow the kettle grill has just sat around gathering dust , leaves and rainwater since we became cityfolk.

Well, after the fun of sitting around the grill last weekend, Solo Girl then and there decided she wanted her friends to enjoy the same bonding experience.

I kept the menu simple. Its winter here and gets dark and horribly cold so early. We did sausages and I made a pile of traffic-light kebabs.

Most kids love kebabs and these were the best I have ever made.

Traffic Light Kebabs
*Chicken thigh fillet (I prefer thigh over breast as it is rich and moist), chopped into cubes
*Red, Green, and Yellow capsicum (sweet pepper) chopped into squares that are the same size as the chicken cubes.

I marinated the chicken in a thrown-together ‘Asian flavours Marinade ( this is a very mild version due to me not knowing how well the young visitors would receive stronger flavours. Feel free substitute fresh herbs in place of the dried for more authentic flavour! Also I would normally add a dash of red wine, but didn’t have any on hand.)
• 1/4 cup soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger ( I had none and just used powdered ginger)
• Generous dash of garlic salt ( I am classy like that)
• 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
You know, I always overlooked and passed over the five-spice powder in my pantry….until I saw a part of Poh’s Kitchen at the gym last week. She explained it; made me understand it. Do you know that 5-spice uses the following 5 tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty to bring balance to a dish? The 5 spice ingredients can vary but are typically made from fennel, cloves, Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, and cinnamon. You only need a little bit, but yes! New favourite ingredient!
I marinated the chicken for about an hour (probably a ½ hour longer than the experts recommend)……ahhhh well.
So thread several cubes of chicken onto the skewers before adding a piece of capsicum…..continue pattern, making up the traffic light formation.
Grill till just tender.

S’mores ( Named thus because you always need ‘some more’) I nearly didn't put up these pics , 'cause they are so grainy due to ISO 1600, DUE to taken at 7:00pm outside (that is poor quality camera-speak; never mind me.) But they show so well, the facial expressions of bliss that a S'more eater wears, so they simply MUST be included.)

There is just something special about making S’mores together. A great memory-making experience! Toasting the marshmallows; (ie: charring the first couple to a crisp, dropping the next two into the fire, then finally getting the hang of it!) squishing them between two choc-covered wheat biscuits ; and then being unable to speak due to gooey, melted deliciousness clogging up every space in your mouth. Looking around at each other and doing the S’more moan ‘mmmmm, dursss irrrsss sshhhhooooo yrrrummmmyyyyy !’
S’mores ......
you will need:
Large marshmallows
Choc- wheaten biscuits
BBQ marshmallows on a skewer till nicely toasted yet not charred, then sandwich between two choc wheaten biscuits till the chocolate melts. Mmm mmmm!

And finally: Tip from the top: Choc Chip Cookie Twist

I have always yearned to have access to the variety of choc chip flavours that you can buy in the States. Caramel chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips…... Oh man!
So I felt a little bit of a dimwit when it only just clicked that I can sort of do peanut butter chips. The solution: * drumroll*..............Reece’s Pieces!
We get them in a couple of stores locally. I tried it out yesterday, chucked a cupful into a double batch of my favorite choc chip cookie recipe, along with a cup of milk choc chips. Try it. No need to thank me!