Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the hole would have to be one of my all time favourite cheap eats for breakfast.  It is simple - a slice of bread, with a hole cut in the middle, fried in butter and a little olive oil.  Crack an egg into the hole, fry and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a dash of Tabasco.  I love the crispy buttery goodness the bread takes on from cooking it in butter and oil in a frypan... 

This breakfast is also a fond food memory of my childhood.  I remember my Mum and Dad making them for me as a kid and I always found it funny that the egg was called a 'Toad'.  To this day I still don't really know why, other than the fact that it is 'something' in a hole.  Why not call it a rabbit? or a mole?  With my addition of Tabasco, I am re-naming mine:

Fire in the Hole!

1-2 slices bread (pref rye or sourdough)
1-2 eggs (pref organic, cage free)
smidgen of butter and olive oil
salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce

Cut a hole in the middle of your slice of bread - freestyle it or use a small glass or cookie cutter.  Heat your butter and oil in a non-stick frypan.  Slide your bread into the pan and coat both sides with the oil and butter.  (Fry your 'hole' as well - no need to throw it away).

Crack your egg into the 'hole' and fry to your liking.  (If you like your egg runny, you may want to flip your bread to toast both sides before cracking in your egg).  Season to taste.

For my money it is a great breakfast for the weekend - especially when the pantry is looking a little scant and you wake up feeling like you ate a box of kitty litter.  With all the fast food establishments offering breakfast these days, it is a cheaper, home cooked alternative.  As for healthy, everything is OK in moderation.  I just have to resist the temptation to make 2 as a sandwich filled with bacon, lettuce and tomato... The possibilities are endless...

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Corn Cakes @ Canteen

One of my favourite meals to enjoy 'out' is breakfast.  I love it more than going out for dinner.  It was my day off and once again I found myself at Canteen.  (Some people go to India to find themselves - I go to restaurants, go figure).  Canteen is my favourite little 'find' for breakfast and brunch.  Along with the delightful food, they do seriously good coffee and the service is fantastic. 

I was able to sit in the nook by the window, so I sat with my paper and my espresso and watched the world go by.  One thing I am not shy about is dining solo.  The downside is that there is only one plate of food and I miss the sharing.  I saw the owners of my other favourite restaurant having breakfast sitting outside - so this reassured me that the food must be good if chefs eat here.

The special was crepes with blueberry compote and lemon curd.  I really enjoyed the last sweet breakfast that I had there - French toast brioche with banana, but this time I felt like something savoury.  I told the waitress that I was undecided over the crepes and the corn cakes.  She said that the corn cakes were her favourite item on the menu.  I ordered them on her recommendation and I was not disappointed.

On the plate were 3 generous corn cakes, along with bacon, slow roasted tomato, guacamole and rocket.  The guacamole was a nice addition to the corn cakes, as was the bacon.  The tomatoes were so deliciously sweet, I could have eaten a whole plate of them alone.  I also liked the balsamic reduction that was drizzled around the plate.  It added a nice acid sweetness that was so in harmony with the tomatoes... Oh yummy...

The waitress asked me if I was enjoying my breakfast - I had no words other than 'MMMMM!'  I am absolutely certain I will order this dish again.

Meanwhile, I had a go at making my own corn cakes over the weekend.  They were really good only for the fact that I am still kicking myself for forgetting to buy baby Italian tomatoes to roast as an accompaniment... 

The recipe I developed is just a basic pancake batter made savoury with a good hit of Tabasco and a little finely diced shallot.  I added corn kernels and seasoned with salt and pepper.  If you need a more detailed recipe, just let me know. 

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cupcakes for a Cause - Or, Just Because!

Cupcakes are great.  They are tiny cakes.  They take the pressure off baking a whole cake.  They don't have to be cut, they mostly never fail and you can cover a multitude of sins with a good thick slathering of frosting.  I love baking them and sharing them at work or just to have in my cake tin to gobble away at will.

Two of my friends at work approached me about making cupcakes for the RSPCA cupcake day, to raise money for 'all creatures great and small'.  I jumped at the chance, being one who isn't shy about showing off her baking or cooking prowess.  The whole conundrum for me was - what kind of cupcakes to make?

I instantly wanted to go with my favourite flavour - chocolate, though I wanted to make this a special kind of cupcake, something interesting and something that would sell.  I decided to try to make a chocolate mud cupcake - just because everyone loves the decadence of a mudcake, I think it is the caloric/heart attack appeal that makes them so desirable.  I wanted to make cupcakes that were such a guilty pleasure you feel the need to go to a Confessional after eating.

I wasn't sure how to make cupcakes with universal appeal to both men and women - I can't imagine that men feel all that masculine chomping on a fru-fru decorated cupcake... Or is this not a problem?  I also want to create a 'signature' for my cupcakes - similar to how Sprinkles Cupcakes in LA have the dot, I want to make something that makes my cupcakes stand out.  I know this is for charity, but I can't help but feel a little competitive!  After careful consideration, and pondering what I have done in the past to make my cupcakes memorable, I decided to anoint each cake with a generous flourish of icing - for visual appeal as well as lick-a-bility!

So a week out, close to the big day - I decided to have a practice run using a mud cake recipe I found.  I bought some good quality dark chocolate, and I found some brown cupcake wrappers and sprinkles to coordinate with my 'muddy brown' theme. 

The list of ingredients are pretty stock standard for a chocolate cake recipe, the only thing that brought me to my knees was the amount of sugar it called for - 480 grams!  That and the fact that once I got into the various stages of the recipe my kitchen resembled a demolition site with all the mess I was making!

This recipe yields a generous batter - enough for 2 dozen cupcakes or a tall, dense cake if you chose to bake it as a cake.  The batter was rather thin and I was a little concerned that it would be too thin.  I put the cupcake trays into the oven, did a little kitchen prayer and hoped that all was well in my baking world.

After a nervous wait and many little 'peeps' through the oven door, I tested them with my skewer and it came out clean (Hooray!) I left my cupcakes to cool. (I am always so impatient when it comes to this stage).  I was pleased with how they looked coming out of the oven, so this was a great start.  I started on my chocolate butter cream which I then generously piped onto the cupcakes and then decorated them my assorted little decorating accoutrement.

As this was a trial bake, I took some to work to share with my baking colleagues and also amongst friends.  The best compliment I think I could have asked for was that it was the best cupcake 'ever'.  I also got kudos on my butter cream.  I can't help but feel a little proud. *Cheesy grin*

The big day arrived on Monday, I went to work with Chocolate Mud Cupcakes, Lemon Cupcakes and Red Velvet Cupcakes.  Lou and Kel who baked with me brought along Vanilla, Hummingbird and Banana.  I think we had over 6 dozen cupcakes in total!  It was a successful morning, yeilding over $200 in sales and donations to give to the RSPCA.  It was fun to share our baked treats with everyone.  My Chocolate Mud Cupcakes were a sure fire hit - I could have made 4 dozen and there still wouldn't have been enough to meet the demand!

I really want to share the recipe with you but at the moment I just want to be selfish and keep it to myself for a little while.  It is just that good.  (Plus I know people who want it already for their own cafe).  If you ask me nicely maybe I will share it with you when I am ready.

Until next time...

Kitty xx