Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Taste & Create: Chocolate Explosion Oatmeal Cookies

This month for Taste & Create I was paired with Alisa Fleming of Alisa Cooks... Alisa's blog is dairy free, not a realm in which I oft' walk so reading her blog was an interesting experience for me... further more many of her recipes are gluten-, soy-, egg- and/or nut-free... I had a great time perusing her recipes!

Eventually though, I found her recipe for Chocolate Explosion Oatmeal Cookies made with rolled oats, they are vegan, egg-, nut-, dairy- and soy free - therefore they MUST be a health food... and BOY! are they the tastiest health food EVER! :)
Beautiful, glossy, dark brown cookies...

Deliciously gooey in the centre - yes that's a broken-in half cookie... they're light enough to sit a-top a rose petal!
I was so proud of me - I was going to tell y'all about how I finally, finally followed a recipe to the letter! And then I thought about it... and how I:
  •  halved the recipe...
  • and then I didn't have any ground flaxseed (linseed), so I tried to replace it with wheat germ (apparently you can do that...?) but I didn't have any of that either so I used oat bran instead (I made that alternative up myself)... (ironically, if I'd been at the flat making these I would have been able to use flaxseed as directed...)
  • and then I doubled the vanilla called for because we only had essence, not extract...
  • and I added just the tiniest pinch of cinnamon a la Laura Vitale...
  • and used all coconut cream, rather than coconut flavoured dairy-free milk and olive oil...
So, in the end, I baked like the Kat I am - to my own tune! But the cookies truly are delicious!

I do have one question though - I halved the recipe, but I made the large, 2 Tbsp sized cookies Alisa recommended... a whole 14 of them (after I ate, maybe a cookie's worth of batter... hey! it's egg free, it's all good!)... which begs the question: Have I finally found someone who enjoys eating cookie batter even more than I do? :)

Sesame Orange Salad

To round off my Nigella Feast... of Chicken Nuggets and Baked, Stuffed Potatoes I now present the accompanying Orange Sesame Salad...

Mesclun  salad leaves with an orange, sesame dressing.
Now this one, is based, very very loosely on Nigella's Garlicky Spinach Tomato Salad, in that I borrowed the idea of using the tomato, or in this case, orange as part of the dressing rather than as part of the salad... beyond that the flavouring, although not an original combination are all mine!

See, when in comes to fruit, I am a fussy bugger, and will only ever really eat it just as it comes into ripeness... drives my mother, and the occasional flatmate, up the wall! As such, I had these oranges that my loving mother had sent me, but I had yet to get around to eating them... when... DUN DUN DUN!!! They became far to ripe for human (read: Kat-line) consumption... but I didn't want to just throw them away - that would be rude! So I decided to take a leaf out of Nigella's... DVD collection?... and use it them to make a salad dressing. But rather than using just the juice - I wanted to use the whole of the flesh - as Nigella did with her tomatoes... mixed with some sesame seeds and oil, and just a hint of fresh grated ginger (*ahem* fromatube) to create a rather tasty salad dressing, though I do say so myself.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Now I'm Just Showing Off: Callum's Computer Board Birthday Cake

My younger brother Callum is, affectionately, a computer nerd.

For his 18th Birthday this past April, I wanted to make him a computer-styled cake... as I'm a total novice cake decorator a fair amount of artistic licence was employed... but the basic idea was there... and the cake tasted good!

"Cake" in the broad sense of the word - it was in fact 2 layers of brownie and one layer of blondie... From each layer I cut a circle which I then shoved into another layer so that each was two toned:
Milk Brownie into a Blondie layer...

... Dark Brownie into a Milk Brownie layer...

... and a Blondie circle in a Dark Brownie layer.
Yes... I deliberately off-centred some of the circles - I thought that'd make it all look more awesome! :)

Each layer was sandwiched to the next with chocolate, cream cheese frosting - Callum's favourite....

Then - I coated the whole cake with the chocolate frosting, save for the very top which I used green frosting left over from when I made the carrot cupcake I have yet to upload... Woops!

Did I do a crumb coat? No.
Should I have? Probably.

Did I fridge/freeze the cake before frosting? No.
Should I have? Yeeeah... Probably.

Will I do so in future? If I remember...
Does the world end if you forget these steps? Apparently not.

I wanted the top of the cake to look like a computer chip/board... thing. Hence - the green icing... over the green I drew little yellow lines in square-ish patterns with writing icing, I tried to use buttercream, but I had issues... and I made the "connections" out of little silver cachous.

At the centre top, you can see the failed buttercream... but doesn't it look a little computer chip like...? If you don't know what computer chips actually look like... ;)
The chocolate chips around the edge are to hide the join between the brown and green icings.

Finally, around the vertical edge, I used tempered, white chocolate to make the binary number 0100 0011 which is the combination used to denote the letter 'C'... I tempered the chocolate to stop it blooming, and to give it snap - it's not a particularly difficult process... I might go into detail, one-day... maybe... :)

Mad piping skills right there... Not.
Further reason behind the tempering of the chocolate was - I hoped it'd hold up better when I ferried it from waxed paper to cake surface... All in all, I feel it was a success!

This is was the cake looked like from the inside after all that circling and shoving...

The final product - not bad, in my opinion!
Below, at long last I give you the recipe for the brownies... Each layer was played around with a little... next to no (brown) sugar and less butter than the original for the white layer (with extra vanilla), 1/4 as much sugar as called for for the milk layer, half as much sugar and butter for the dark... etc... For once, though, I'm going to share the original recipe... which came from a recipe book written by a family friend, Rosie Mitchell.

At Last! Nigella's Rizty Chicken Nuggets = Kat's Oaty Chicken Nuggets

Do you remember ages, and ages ago... back when I was trying to post regularly what I ate on Wednesday and I posted about a Nigella Feast that consisted of Blood and Guts potatoes, and Orange Sesame dressed salad and oatmeal chicken nuggets...?

Well. The link to the potatoes is above - but that's as far as I got. Today, I will post for you - the Chicken Nuggets!

Not the most beautiful things, are they?
I attribute the pale-ness of these little babies to their oatie coating, and the fact that they were oven baked, rather than deep fried. The first time I made 'em I used crush cornflakes, Nigella uses crushed savoury crackers - both of these mediums make for excellent crunch... Rolled oats, although not crunchy, will do in a pinch! They feel healthier too...

Nigella says that the buttermilk, or in my case - yoghurt, "marinade" makes for a more succulent, tender nibble - I've never tried without the marinade so I can't validate that - but it sure makes the coating easier!

These are tasty little morsels that are easy to make, and will be made in the future. Valid student food too!