Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe - Valentine's Day Dark Muscovado Brownies (not the healthy kind)

 These brownies rock my world.  Universally voted by all who try them as being "the best brownies ever", I have been asked to publish this in time for a last-minute Valentine's bake-off.

Muscovado sugar, with its consistency similar to palm sugar, is the secret weapon.  Don't bother using its poor cousin, brown sugar or even palm sugar.  Muscovado has a taste all of its own which permeates the finished brownie.  It really is worth buying it for the taste.

A word of warning though: cut the brownies into small pieces because like Bill Gates, they're really really rich.

Valentine's Day Dark Muscovado Brownies


350g dark chocolate (55-70% cocoa solids)
200g unsalted butter
250g or 1 1/4 cupes dark muscovado sugar
3 large free range eggs
70g or 2/3 cup plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt


Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 325 degrees F.  Butter and line a brownie tin or deep square cake tin.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heat proof bowl over a pan of hot water or in a microwave on medium and stir until smooth.

Place the sugar in a bowl and if it is slightly lumpy, remove the lumps with your fingers.  Microwaving can help this process.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add this to the melted chocolate mixture, stirring well.

Sift in the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt and gently fold together.  Tip mixture into the tin and bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs.  It should also feel just firm when you place the palm of your hand gently on top (don't burn yourself though!).

Remove tin on to a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes and then cut into pieces.  The recipe recommends 16: I made mine about 3cms x 3cms.  Better to come back for more than create a pain barrier you regret.  Leave until completely cold before removing the brownies, which, can be torture.  Best to leave the house for a few hours so you don't pick, like hubby did below ;-)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eating from the pantry, fridge and freezer: Winner Dinner!

This was my first off-piste recipe so I was a little nervous. Particularly using crab meat. Not really sure how, when or why that made itself into the cupboard, but it was my mission tonight to eliminate it. Forthwith.

But after polishing off my second bowl, I proudly declare this pasta dish to be a double-thumbs-up WINNER!!!

Tomato & crab spaghetti with caperberries and lemon zest


500 grams spaghetti
1 clove garlic, thinly chopped or minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
170g tin crab meat
I 400g bottle tomato passata
2 tablespoons caperberries, halved & stalks removed
Zest of 1 lemon
Parmesan or grana padana to taste


Boil water for pasta.

Heat oil in pan & sautee garlic until light brown. Add tomato sauce, crab meat, caperberries & lemon zest. Heat through on low heat.

Cook spaghetti according to instructions.

Serve pasta with sauce on top. Add a few shavings of parmesan and zest.

Serves 4.

If desired you can forget about the crab meat, particularly for Meatless Monday. The combination of tomato, caperberries & lemon zest adds so much flavour and ZING that it would work regardless.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eating from the pantry, fridge & freezer - Day 2

I can proudly claim Day 2 of the Pantry, Fridge & Freezer (PFF) challenge a resounding success.  Breakfast was the breakfast of champions, home made berry bircher muesli.

Lunch was Morroccan Quinoa Salad (using lentils instead of black beans) with rainbow salad (above).  After I ate it I felt dangerously healthy.  Dangerously.  Which is kind of ironic since I am fighting a sore throat.

As the mercury soared to more than 37 degrees today, the thought of cooking was as about appealing as sticking my sweatty face in a hair dryer.   So after peering into the pantry,  I discovered a pristine packet of rice paper roll wrappers hiding behind the mountains of pasta (but more on that below).  That packet had been nestling there for at least 12 months. 

My rice paper rolls were stuffed with leftover chook from the kids' drumsticks dinner.  Other ingredients?  Peanuts, coriander, mint, bean sprouts, carrot, rice paper rolls, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, carrot, cucumber and tofu (tempeh).  And sweet chilli dipping sauce.

During the day I snacked on my obsession, Emma & Tom's Cacao & Orange Life Bars.

Since I am so in love with these bars *swoon* and can't bear the thought of not having one in my handbag for those mid-afternoon emergency hypo-glycemic moments, I have 2 boxes of 12 in the pantry and don't doubt, with or without the PFF challenge, that they will be consumed.  They ROCK!

Tomorrow's breakfast of bircher is soaking in the fridge and as hubby is going interstate for a few days I suspect the next few days will play host to a few rounds of salads, incorporating some of those pesky and numerous cans of legumes.  How DID I end up with so many???

After the cans, I will tackle the pasta.  Sheepishly: I can now admit to 10 packets (yes, 10) of spaghetti and 7 packets or boxes of short pasta like fusili and penne.

But don't even get me started on the relishes, pickles and condiments!