When Summer froze over for a fifth birthday party

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I think I blinked and suddenly Bubby was turning the big five. Bubby had been so desperate to turn five, that for the months leading up the big event, it was her first topic of discussion upon meeting anyone. “Did you know I’m nearly five?” she would inform them. “Really?” they would respond in mock surprise, as though this was not the third time they had not been informed of this momentous occasion that month. Next up would be the party discussion. “An Elsa party” she would excitedly inform them. “Really?” they would respond hiding their smirk at the pained look on my face.

Since I mistakenly created an (awesome) backyard carnival party instead of the preferred Elsa theme, Bubby has been talking up her ‘Elsa party for number 5 birthday’. There was no escaping it. That’s meant a whole year of Pintrest stalking, recipe planning and losing all the screen shots of Frozen inspired tips and tricks. Grand plans of sugar dusted snowflakes and blue crystal blades at the start of the year became frazzled post-christmas/new year exhaustion turned into heat effected splotchy chocolate Olaf arms and a sparsely decorated ‘snow’ cake. And I don’t know about you, but I also discovered there’s a serious lack of naturally bright blue food out there, so sugar and blue food dye were used unashamedly. It was a party after all.

Note: if anybody has a blue lemonade recipe that doesn’t consist of Blue Curacao (apparently not suitable for a fifth birthday party) or Koolaid please send it my way. Against my better judgement, the recipe I followed complete with image of a bright blue lagoon looking drink, did not in any way come near blue. Purple or reddish maybe. Blue? Not a chance. But in hindsight, I should have known there was no way blue & blackberries would have without some extreme artificial assistance (insert face palm).

frozen jelly

frozen snowman

frozen bread

frozen cupcake

frozen sandwichesfrozen white choc

frozen crown

frozen table

I pulled out my favourite Sweetapolita lemon cake recipe for the birthday cake interior. White chocolate ganache held the cake layers together, with royal icing and topped with my own last minute blue-glass-shard-design-failed-so-threw-on-lots-of-silver-things styling. The rest of the food was coloured or covered blue glorious blue!

Blue layered jelly with sugar snow
Olaf yoghurt
Blue ice crystal bread
Lemon blue ice cupcakes
For the first time in forever sandwiches

And for our little Elsa’s to take home, a simple chocolate snow freckle and Pipla custom crown.

Obviously a Two Houses party isn’t complete without some piñata action. For this party we created a silver geo piñata for the kids to let loose on.

frozen pinata

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Sausage rolls for superstars

Glenn and I now have one proper honest-to-God birthday party under our parental belt. The kind where you invite the whole kindergarten class because you can (and so you do). The kind where you get overly ambitious about how much goddamn fun they will have thrust upon them and enlist your visiting in-laws to  help you cut out large cardboard glider planes, for each little guest. A back breaking and seemingly endless task that possibly made them wish their son had married someone a little less  bossy enthusiastic.

Almost everyone in G’s class RSVP’d a big fat yes, which thrilled us. Except that when I did the maths we realised that with at least 16 kiddies, multiplied by parents and younger siblings, plus our family and friends– we were looking at somewhere about sixty people or more. Whoa. We had hired a local playgroup hall for the event. But food was still going to be an issue. If only the gazillion cardboard glider planes had been edible we would have been set.

When this happens to you, don’t panic. Just make an absolute shitload of these pork and apple sausage rolls. This is a modified version of Glenn’s recipe. I have to mention this otherwise someone will call copycat.

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You will need:

1 packet of puff pastry (4 sheets)

4 Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples (peeled and chopped)

400g pork mince

400g of sausage meat (you can either buy a tube or use the filling from good sausages)

1 bunch fresh sage

1 bunch thyme

2 grated carrots

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup bread crumbs

4 tablespoons sesame seeds (for garnish)

To cook:

Chop the herbs and put everything in a large bowl. Wash your hands and get in there and mix it up. I won’t lie, this is not at all enjoyable. It’s cold and sticky but over quickly and you don’t have to haul out the heavy mixer.

Tip: pre fill the sink with warm soapy water so that you don't have to muck around with taps with your manky hands afterwards.
Tip: pre fill the sink with warm soapy water so that you don’t have to muck around with taps with your manky hands afterwards.

Right, you’re ready to roll. Cut one square of defrosted puff pastry in half. Spoon a good strip of mixture length ways across the pastry. Fold pastry over. Roll and seal gently. Roll again so that the sealed edge is underneath. At this point you can cling wrap and freeze if you like. Otherwise cut into 6 – 8 even pieces.

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Place on a baking tray on a sheet/baking paper, daub with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake in a moderate oven for about 35-40 minutes or until golden.

Pop them out on the party table with some relish and say goodbye!

Makes about 60 sausage rolls. Triple the recipe for outrageously large birthday parties.

 

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Ice cream in a biscuit

Dark chocolate and roasted black sesame seed biscuits with vanilla ice cream
Dark chocolate and roasted black sesame seed biscuits with vanilla ice cream

I’m a first time ice cream maker. Eaten a lot of it. Never made it.  This vanilla ice cream recipe is from a dear friend’s mother. I was assured that not only was it delicious but it’s the old-school sort that does not require an ice cream maker. This was music to my ears as my kitchen is already too jam packed and the thought of adding another toy to it does not appeal. Our bench tops are already riddled with things that have no home.

Just ignore anyone who raises their eyebrows when you say you’re doing it without an ice cream maker. You too can feel the same smugness that I felt when I raced home from work, pulled out the freezer drawer and scraped my greedy finger across the pillowy softness of my very first homemade ice cream.

The ice cream (please note that this recipe is an over nighter)

Ingredients

1 litre of cream

1/2 cup of milk

350g castor sugar

8 egg yolks (beaten)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence OR three vanilla beans

Method 

Whip the cream well and set aside. Use a mix master (or someone with a very strong arm).

Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to the boil very slowly. As soon as the mixture foams take it off the heat and gradually pour into the beaten egg yolks while whisking constantly.

Whisk until thick and creamy
Whisk until thick and creamy

Continue to whisk. At this point add your vanilla (either essence or scrape the pulp from vanilla beans) whisk again and then allow the mixture to cool. It should be thick and creamy.

Fold the cooled egg mixture into the whipped cream. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for 24 hours.

Fold into the whipped cream(it was hard for me to not eat a lot of this)
Fold into the whipped cream(it was hard for me to not eat a lot of this)

Remove from fridge and beat well for two minutes (I used mix master). Pop into a container with a lid and then finally freeze (about 7 hours is about perfect).

I don't want to keep banging on about this but it really is very very soft.
I don’t want to keep banging on about this but it really is very very soft.

OK now for the biscuits.

Dark chocolate and black sesame seed biscuits 

Lick
Lick

Ingredients

125g butter (softened)

125g chopped dark chocolate

2 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds (available from Japanese deli)

1 egg

1 3/4 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup raw sugar

Method

Beat the softened butter and sugars.

Slowly add egg while beating.

Add all other ingredients and beat til a moist dough forms.

Form heaped teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on a tray (leave space for spreading). Lightly press each ball with a fork.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes in moderate oven. Leave to cool on a rack.

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A couple of notes on putting the ice cream sandwiches together: Firstly, make sure that the biscuits are very cold. Put them in the freezer for at least half an hour before serving. Same goes for any dishes you want to serve them on. This gives guests a way better chance of eating them before they melt. They’ll (literally) look a lot cooler for a lot longer.

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Gingerbread Men

Nothing screams Christmas like a gingerbread man. They’re a consistently charming and amusing thing to make (and eat) and although I can just about deal with not getting a stocking anymore, I would be heartbroken to have a Christmas without gingerbread.

These ones are not fancy. They’re not even symmetrical. For some reason our family G-man cutter has always had one leg longer than the other and I believe it just adds to their charm.

simple currants and cherry mouth are the cutest
simple currants and cherry mouth are the cutest

We’ve been making this same simple recipe since we were children. Back in the day, decorations were always just glacé cherries and currants. Occasionally some would be hung in the tree and forgotten about but they would still taste good long after Santa had been and gone.

 

If placed into small cellophane bags and sealed tightly with knotted ribbon - these guys will last a couple of weeks at least.
If placed into small cellophane bags and sealed tightly with knotted ribbon – these guys will last a couple of weeks at least.

In more recent years we’ve let our own kids have a go at decorating them which ends up being a bit more… elaborate. They like to add extra eyes and accidental genitals. But for me it will always just be currant eyes, cherry mouth and currant buttons. Simple and sweet. You can pop them into cellophane bags and give them away. Or take a tin of them to work to spread some gingerbread love. They’re charming and they’re easy. I’m not just saying that. They really are.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

1 pinch salt

4 tablespoon cinnamon

4 cups plain flour

4 teaspoon ginger powder

 

Method

Cream the butter and sugar

Beat in the eggs

Add golden syrup and mix well

Add dry ingredients and mix well

Roll into three large discs, wrap in cling film then pop in fridge for half an hour to get cold

Roll each disc out to 1/2 inch thickness and use your cutter to cut out the G -men

Place on a baking tray and decorate with whatever you like (joking – you must use glace cherries and currants!)

Bake in a moderate oven for 10 – 12 minutes

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Gingerbread creatures made by G.
Gingerbread creatures made by G.

 

 

The spider-faced G-Man. By Bubby. I feel this is excellent.
The spider-faced G-Man. By Bubby. I feel this is excellent.

Beetroot savoury cupcake with creamed goats cheese and horseradish frosting

One of my favourite dishes roasted beetroot and goats cheese with horseradish cream dolled up into a cupcake.
One of my favourite dishes roasted beetroot and goats cheese with horseradish cream dolled up into a cupcake.

Ok so firstly let me apologise for the overly long descriptive name of this blog. Lex rightly pointed out ‘Beetroot Savoury Cupcake’ just wasn’t very enticing, so the full shebang ‘Beetroot savoury cupcake with creamed goats cheese and horseradish frosting’ it is.

The world of Instagram and Facebook with their picture perfect images of food, fashion and homes are a never-ending source of ‘I want’ for me. A few months ago I tried out the new social blog app ‘Pippit’ and whilst the app itself is too cumbersome to use regularly, I did come across this photo of three pretty little cupcakes by user lingyeungb. Chorizo, paprika, potato, smoked salmon – these were not the ingredients of just any cupcakes, but delish savoury cupcakes. I had never heard of savoury cupcakes before. Here they were dressed up to the nines as though they were as temptingly sweet on the palette as their sugary partners, but as if they were off for martinis instead of high tea. It’s had me dreaming about them ever since.

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The photo by Pippit user lingyeungb that inspired my quest to make savoury cupcakes.

Searching for the ultimate savoury cupcakes recipe, I came across a lot of chunky muffins and just stick-another-recipe-in-a-patty-liner recipes, but these didn’t satisfy my idea of what these perfect looking treats should be made of. I imagined them to have the delicate texture of my favourite Nigella vanilla fairy cakes but well, savoury. I hadn’t had one before, and I wanted it to be perfect. The general theme for savoury cupcakes seemed to be turning already successful dishes into a little cake. One of my favourite savoury dishes is roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad with horseradish cream, so I thought I’d start there. For this recipe I’ve modified a basic beetroot muffin with some basic cake baking tips I’ve picked up from Rosie Alyea’s Sweetapolita site, to create a Beetroot cupcake with creamed goats cheese and horseradish frosting. The resulting cake is subtle, sweetened only by the natural goodness of the roasted beetroot and the sharp and peppery-ness of the goats cheese and horseradish blends into a soft cheesy frosting. The cream does tend to soften quickly so I recommend keeping it in the fridge and decorate your cakes just before serving.

Beetroot - my favourite vegetable.
Beetroot – my favourite vegetable.

Ingredients
200g beetroot
2 baby beetroot
1tsp winter savoury
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 egg
50g butter
300mls + a little extra milk
270g cake flour
1tbsp baking powder
150ml cream
60g soft goats cheese
¼ – ½ tsp horseradish

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Peel the beetroot and chop into cubes and place in a bowl. Finely chop the winter savoury and add to the beets with a very small drizzle of olive oil and light seasoning of salt and pepper. Toss through. Line a tray with foil and add the beet mix then wrap it up tightly. Bake for 20-30 minutes. When cooked, place in food processor and puree. Set aside.

Roasted beetroot gems.
Roasted beetroot gems.
Give it a whizz until you have a smooth puree.
Give it a whizz until you have a smooth puree.

Thinly slice the baby beetroot and lay flat on another tray between two sheets of foil. Bake in oven on separate shelf below the beetroot mix. Bake until firm and most of the moisture is gone – roughly for about 10 minutes, checking after the first 5. Take out and set the beetroot discs aside to cool.

Beautiful patterns are created in the beetroot discs as they bake.
Beautiful patterns are created in the beetroot discs as they bake.

Lower the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Beat the egg in the mixer for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the butter and mix until soft on medium. Slowly add the beetroot puree then the milk. Increase the speed for 2 minutes to mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Slowly add to the egg-puree mixture with the mixture on medium. Add the extra milk a tablespoon at a time until you have a smooth cake batter.

Divide into about 24 cupcake holders and smooth off the tops. Bake for 20-15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from liners or tray. If your cakes end up looking like volcanoes like mine always do, remove from the liners and trim the tops off ready for decorating.

xxx
Fill your liners about 3/4 full.
If your cakes end up looking like mine ALWAYS do - remove them from the liners and trim ready to decorate.
If your cakes end up looking like mine ALWAYS do – remove them from the liners and trim ready to decorate.

Put the cream and goat’s cheese into a bowl and blend with a hand mixer until combined and it begins to thicken. Add the horseradish a little at a time until you reach your preferred peppery-ness.

Transfer frosting into a piping bag with a no.1 tip and do your best big fat swirl, topping the mound with one of your pretty little beetroot discs.

Who's ready for a martini?
Who’s ready for a martini?