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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

Category Archives: in the kitchen

muffins3

I have a ton of pureed pumpkin in the freezer from last October when I roasted up the jack’o’lanterns we made (they’d only been out one night, lined by foil, no rotting had occurred) in order to make a pumpkin pie – not a treat normally consumed here in Australia, Thanksgiving or not. Especially not in October, seeing as pumpkins are lucky to be seedlings here at that stage, and my struggle to purchase whole pumpkins prior to my Halloween party was proof of that. Too add to all Canada vs. Australia confusion, we ate our pumpkin pie after Halloween, when normally it would have been consumed two weeks prior. When you can only get your hands on a few pumpkins, you have to switch your holidays around to make use of what you’ve got – doesn’t everyone?

(This continues to happen, too – there were no St Patrick’s day treats at our house due to no green food colouring. I considered doing a Valentine’s repeat instead, however with Easter coming up fast and furious this year I figured we should just keep moving forward with the pink holidays. But I digress.)

So anyway, I woke up the other morning with a major chocolate craving and thought to myself, “Self, how can I turn a chocolate craving into a suitable breakfast food? And self, remember you have no milk, because you’re not so good at keeping up with the dairy needs of this house. But you doooo have tons of pumpkin.” Perhaps pumpkin muffins. With chocolate in them. So I looked up a recipe. See it here. And it was beautifully healthy, counteracting the chocolate within. But – although the town-living Canadian me would probably have the quinoa and/or kamut flour the recipe calls for (or spelt or rice or something along those lines), the country-living Australian in me most certainly doesn’t, and doesn’t even have the option of getting them, short of driving 6 hours to Adelaide.

But no big deal – I just subbed whole wheat flour and plain flour. And our flour is freshly milled at the local mill using local grain (it’s possible some of the wheat the boys grew is in there!) which actually makes me feel really good about the less-healthy option. At least it’s local.

And instead of chocolate chips, which I also didn’t have on hand, I opted for chopped up dark chocolate. I even threw in a few bits of white chocolate in there for good measure (and because I had a bit left that I wanted to use up).

These are seriously delicious, as I found out 20 minutes later… although it was a tough 20 minutes, I’ve never been good at waiting for things to bake! And mine required a bit of extra time due to a dodgy oven seal. So more it was more like 30 minutes of salivating. But so worth it in the end, the house smelled amazing and the muffins were perfect. Such a great way to use up extra pumpkin puree – I’ll be making much more of these in the future.

(And my apologies for the lack of photos. Unfortunately my camera was out of battery and by the time I’d charged it, the muffins were gone. Which means all you get is a quick doodle of a pumpkin and chocolate math equation – making math fun!)

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I was given a box of peaches off the tree this week by a friend – best gift ever! They’ve been smelling so good in my kitchen the last two days that I haven’t wanted to touch them but I woke up this morning wondering what I was going to do with them, because with the hot and humid weather we’ve been having I knew I didn’t have long before they were going to go mushy.

peaches
My first thought was a pie or a tart – but my pastry skills are lackluster at best, and that’s in freezing Canadian temperatures with little chance of the butter melting before it gets in the oven, not in the height of the Australian summer, so I had to rethink. I felt that perhaps the best use for the fuzzy fruits was to make up some sort of cool treat to try to beat the heat. I thought about one of my favourite Canadian treats that got me through many a bad day in university – frozen yogurt.

Unsure what special kitchen tools I was going to need to, I looked up a recipe and was delighted to see that frozen yogurt is pretty much just that: frozen yogurt. No churning need be involved.

colours

So I got to work freezing my plain yogurt and cutting up my beautifully fragrant peaches which were quickly going soft in the heat. I added a bit of vanilla and also a bit of golden syrup because I know my other half is not huge on the ‘plain yogurt’ taste. When it was half frozen I added the peaches and buzzed it up with my hand blender. After washing up, I decided that I wanted something a bit more special than plain old peach, so I added some fresh ginger. Not too much – I think I added only 1/4 of a teaspoon, although in hindsight I could have added more, and then I buzzed it up again (luckily my hand blender is not hard to clean). Back into the freezer, this time in popsicle moulds.

peaches&frozenyogurt

The verdict?

Pretty darned nice.

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It’s valentines day. I’m not usually a huge valentines day person – other than my mom and grandma usually leaving a few beautifully foiled chocolates on my placemat to be found in the morning when I was a kid, I’ve never really ‘celebrated’. Usually a homemade card will do. This year I decided to step it up a little, and thought I’d bake up a present for my valentine. Mostly this was due to the fact that the chickens have been laying like champions as of late and we’re getting a bit of an egg overload – so when I came across these simply beautiful meringues, I thought it was fate…

What the meringues are supposed to look like...

What the meringues are supposed to look like…

Now, I took a look at the gorgeous French Meringues with Strawberry Ganache Filling on the Cafe Sucre Farine’s blog, glanced over the ingredients, and thought to myself, 6 ingredients? How hard can it be? Determined to impress my beau and in honour of St. Valentine, I set forth.

Yeah…. so turns out piping out the meringue is a bit tricky if you’re a first time meringue-er like me. It requires a bit of patience (something which I don’t have a lot of). I may have ended up with pink meringue coating most of the surfaces in my kitchen. At one stage I had to call Jamie in to help me hold my ziploc ‘piping’ bag open while I stuffed it full of the sticky pink stuff – all while he had his eyes closed so as not to ruin the surprise. In the end I was a bit deflated, as they are not as jaw-droppingly, impressively, irresistibly beautiful as I had anticipated, but at least they taste good.

valentine meringue

What I ended up with… laugh it up. I know you want to.

Luckily I’ve got the nicest boyfriend going and he totally ignored the less-than-beautiful look.

I did change up the recipe minorly by making them raspberry flavoured instead of strawberry. I also added some cocoa powder to the ganache because I wasn’t getting quite a chocolatey enough flavour (all I had on hand was cheap chocolate). But it didn’t seem to change the integrity of the ganache.

The one thing I will warn is that these are extremely sweet – delicious, but definitely sugary. If I were to make them again I’d opt for a bite sized version; I made mine a bit too big and I can only eat half at a time. Live and learn.

If you have patience and a good piping bag with the appropriate tip, I’d say give this recipe a shot. If not, maybe just have a laugh on me, and enjoy your valentine’s day.