Wednesday, 30 March 2011

:: A sprinkle of food ::

I recently held a 'Baby Sprinkle' for a dear friend of mine. For those who don't know, baby showers are traditionally only given to first time mums, and other pregnancies have often gone by the wayside. In recent years, more and more women, their friends and their families are increasingly celebrating the excitement of the pending arrival of their second, third and subsequent children with a shower. It has become perfectly acceptable to still throw a party, but call it a sprinkle instead.

baby sprinkle anyone?

A sprinkle is a baby shower, but only on a smaller scale as the mother tends to already have the big ticket items but still needs to restock as number two can be born in a different season & even be a different sex altogether! It is more about coming together to celebrate with the expectant mum and alleviate her worries over integrating baby into an already full house. There is a sprinkling of gifts, a sprinkling of advice and laughter falls like a warm sprinkling of summer rain.

great decorations for any party 
I thought about my friend's baby sprinkle, the sex unknown, for weeks in advance & not knowing which angle to attack this event first. When I found some Japanese lanterns in a discount store with beautiful butterflies on them in different colours, I knew I had found my theme. Butterflies are just gorgeous. Each perfect & individual in every way, much like a newborn, it was an easy theme to follow through.

As it turns out, there is not much out there on the internet that is under the 'free' websites that have tasteful design qualities to them coinciding with enjoyable games. I managed to find a good website which had a few select games which I printed on 100gsm quality paper so everyone didn't have to lean on magazines or books. For music, I simply enlisted the help of and played songs with baby in the title from a pre-selected favourites folder, which I prepared ahead of time. It was great watching the old film clips with the girls as well!

baby, baby songs - from amy grant to justin beiber

 The food was a joy. I planned a menu, keeping in mind of any known dietry requirements, then went on planning my recipes & ideas. I will post just a few, including the ever so popular sausage rolls and chocoloate brownies.

celeb baby - match hollywood names to star parents

:: Orange & Poppy Seed Tea Cake ::

Orange & Poppy Seed Cake
:: Megann’s  Kitchen ::

:: orange & poppyseed cake with orange vanilla cream cheese frosting ::

This cake is refreshing & delightful. I decided to gather the best aspects from a few recipes to make a dense cake perfect for an afternoon tea. I love the texture of the cake - it originally was meant to have a syrup poured over it. The cake isn't light & fluffy at all, but full & wholesome. I also adore that the seeds "pop" in your mouth as you bite into it adding a fantastic textural element.
Last time my friend Heidi & her mother came for afternoon tea they had this cake & enjoyed it so much that they asked for the recipe, so when it was time to bake for her baby sprinkle it wasn’t even a question! I also knew that the neutral colours of the cake would be ideal for my theme.

¼ cup black poppy seeds
¾ cup full cream milk
200 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 orange rind, zested with a microplane
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
½ cup orange juice
¾ cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups of plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder

250 grams cream cheese, softened
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
1½ - 2 cups of soft icing sugar, sifted
  (taste for sweetness)
1 tbs orange rind

Preheat oven to 160°C. Pre-prepare a 20cm round, lined cake tin. Put the poppy seeds & milk into a jug, stir, then set aside on your workbench to start on the other ingredients. Place the butter, orange rind, vanilla paste & sugar into a bowl, then beat with an electric mixer/beaters until light, creamy & pale in colour. Add eggs, one by one, mixing between each one. Add sifted flour & baking powder, milk poppy seed mixture, orange juice, & mix until ingredients are just combined. Pour into prepared cake tin & bake for 50-60 mins, or until cake tested with a skewer.
Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare your cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese, butter & vanilla paste until smooth with electric mixer/beaters. Add icing sugar ½ cup at a time so you don’t end up with one big ‘poof’ of sugar in your kitchen. Finally, add orange rind. Combine.

:: orange & poppyseed cake for Heidi's baby shower ::

Party Style
:Use a palette icing knife to spread out the icing from the centre. You can either add a sprinkling of extra poppy seeds or orange rind on top, but this time I went for baby booties made of icing instead. Choose a ribbon the colour of your theme to go around the cake, it is such an easy touch but speaks volumes.

:: edible booties as a cake topper ::

:Baby booties are from Cupids Cake Decorating Supplies
:I discovered a tutorial online for piping roses! It is by Australian Good Taste & I found it very helpful for piping iced roses onto a large cake.

:: orange & poppyseed cake with piped on flowers ::

Quick Kitchen
:To make a quick orange syrup to pour over the top instead of the icing, place 1 cup of Orange Marmalade Jam into a small saucepan with 1/4 cup of water. Heat til warm & well combined. Remove cake from cake tin, top-side up, onto a wire rack. Spoon half the syrup over a hot cake then allow to cool. Serve cake with double cream & remaining syrup.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

:: Oh So Good ::

Chocolate Yummies
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::

double chocolate fudgy yummies - oh so good!

These little chocolate pieces of goodness are simply delightful. They are indulgent, yet not too much because they are so tiny & they will leave your guests wanting more. The white chocolate chunks inside actually soften the blow of the fudgy richness, but for extra impact, serve slightly warm. Yummy!

200g dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
100g white cooking chocolate, chopped into small chunks
250g ‘lurpak’ salted butter, cubed
1¾ cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1¼ cups plain flour, sifted
¼ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 160°C. Put the butter & broken chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, & stir constantly until mixture is completely smooth. Sit on the bench to cool slightly whilst you prepare your other ingredients.
Place the sugar, eggs, cocoa, flour & baking powder in a bowl and stir until just combined. Add the chocolate mixture, stir, then add the white chocolate chunks and mix well. Spoon the mixture into prepared mini muffin tins, lined with mini muffin liners. Bake for 20mins; keep in mind that they are meant to be soft & fudgy in the middle.

delightful baking cases

Style: I put a drop of melted chocolate on the top to hold the sweet Donna Hay pastel pink and blue sugar pearls in place, then inserted them into gorgeous Robert Gordon pink and blue spotted mini patty cases.

sugar pearls add the final touch

Robert Gordon Patty Mini Cases

:: The Forgotten Party Favourite ::

Chicken & Vegetable Sausage Rolls
:: Megann's Kitchen ::

:: golden brown sausage rolls - ready to eat ::

500g chicken or turkey breast mince
1 egg, plus 1 extra beaten egg for glazing
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
½ brown onion, quartered
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
¼ cup coriander, chopped
¼ cup italian parsley, chopped
4-5 sheets puff pastry
1 tbs white sesame seeds

:: Preheat oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Process onion on pulse in food processor until it is just minced. Change to grater implement & feed in the carrot + zucchini. Place into a bowl and add mince, parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, coriander and parsley. Bind ingredients together, I like to do this by hand.
:: Leaving the pastry plastic on, place your sheets of puff pastry & cut them in half. Spoon the mixture along the centre of the pastry lengthways making a nice, long, skinless sausage. Pick up one edge of the pastry, roll it round and tuck it on the underside of the filling, roll it around to seal it with egg wash or water. Repeat it with the remaining sheets.
:: for a Megann’s Kitchen sausage roll secret, see kitchen notes below.
Cut the rolls into 3cm pieces with a sharp floured knife, take the pastry plastic off, then place onto your prepared baking trays.
Brush with a beaten egg on the tray & sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown & cooked right through.

:: sausage rolls that are semi-frozen, ready to cut into portions ::

Kitchen Notes
:: I find that chilling the sausage rolls before cutting them helps enormously. Once rolled, leave the blue plastic on (to prevent drying & freezer burn) & simply assemble on a tray & place in the freezer for 20-25  minutes, or until firm. Cut into desired portion sizes.
:: When coming to an end of a bread loaf that is becoming a bit stale, I simply blitz it in a food processor/blender & then place it in 2 cup portions in zip lock bags in the freezer for future recipes.

Quick Kitchen
:: Freeze option; leave the blue pastry plastic on when cutting them into portions & assemble into a freezer safe container. Simply pull off the plastic, brush with egg wash or milk & place straight in the oven on a baking tray for 30-35 minutes. I pull them out when needed- perfect for an unplanned guest, quick dinner with vegetables or football game snacks.

Allergy Alteration
:: One of Will’s friends is allergic to eggs, so I have made these sausage rolls egg free! I left out the egg in the meat mixture & added a little more cheese to help bind it when cooking. I also replaced the egg when brushing the tops with milk.

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