Apr 29, 2013

D94: Making the Most of Your Jaffle Toaster Part 1: French Toast

Bon appetite!
Hub received a jaffle toaster - or an old style toasted sandwich maker - for his 21st birthday (I think).  It was an inspired gift and a must for every household, in my opinion, especially share houses.  My favourite toasted sandwich is banana, and sometimes just plain jam, but I'm a little limited by my lactose intolerance.  For instance, I can't really enjoy Hub's patented egg, cheese and chill sandwich*, but it is glorious to watch.

This model, which attempts to cut each sandwich into two triangles, is what I would call a toasted sandwich maker.  I grew up thinking a jaffle was only ever made with a jaffle iron in a camp fire, but everyone else seemed to say "jaffle" for all the toasted sangas.  As you can imagine, it took me some time, and therapy, to adjust.  The modern ones, which use flat hot plates, are things I would call a toasted sandwich press.  You're welcome to try this recipe in a press, but you must share your pictures.  Good luck.

So, pros and cons of using a jaffle toaster?
  • It's generally neat.  Mess is usually wipe-able. 
  • It's quick, or it'll wait, depending on how soon you need food.
  • It cooks evenly and I can't remember ever burning anything.
  • Everything is a right-angle, scalene triangle.  So if that's not your favourite triangle, shit be hard.  Major con.
It's clean on the inside, and that's what counts.

Here you can see my French Toast in progress.   Yes, the toaster is showing it's age, but it just strengthens and affection I think.  And adds to the flavour.  
Hopefully I'll share my other jaffle recipes with you over the winter months.

Jaffled French Toast

  1. Heat your jaffle toaster.
  2. In a bowl or some such - preferably with a flat base - beat two eggs with a slosh of milk and shake in some nutmeg and cinnamon.
  3. Take two pieces of bread (or whatever will fit in the toaster) and press them into the open toaster to mark where the toast will be divided into two.  Cut along this line. Remembering which piece went where is handy, but not really important.
  4. If you like, put a a bit of butter in each toasting segment and enjoy the sizzle. Wiping the whole thing with a buttered paper towel is also effective. Usually these appliances are 'non stick' so the butter is mostly for crisping and flavour.  Our toaster is old, so buttering every now and then is helpful.
  5. When the toaster is hot, dip your pieces of bread into the egg mix and tuck them into their triangle.  (If your bowl will fit all the pieces flatly, put them in, turn them once, and let them soak up the egg mix.)  Pour any remaining egg mix over the pieces once they're positioned in the toaster.  Close the lid. (Rinse the bowl and wipe up spills - raw egg is like plastic once set.)
  6. Don't bother opening the lid until sometime after you can smell it cooking for the next room.
  7. When you do open the lid, the French Toast will probably deflate.   It's not done yet.
  8. When your toast finally holds it's form, gently prise the prices from the toaster and arrange on a plate with your chosen condiment.
  9. Enjoy.

*Butter four pieces of toast. Spread sweet chilli sauce on the lower pieces of bread, put them in the toaster, buttered side down; lay down sliced tasty cheese on both; crack an egg over the whole thing and swizzle the yolk around a bit; lay down the top piece of bread, butted side up. Attempt to close the toaster; its a bit dangerous to clamp it shut but a heavy item like the honey jar might help control it. Goes best with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

Apr 28, 2013

D93: hrrrr mash

More mash! Actually, the others have been purée. This is potato, sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, butternut pumpkin and cauliflower mash.

 "How thorough and decadent in your baby-food making!" you may say. Alas, no; we chopped veggies for curry and discovered we'd no coconut cream. This is what wouldn't fit in the soup. :|

Apr 26, 2013

D92: uuuuuugh

Okaaaaay! Ghhhhhhhod.

Here, they're done.

Never give me that job ever again.

Apr 25, 2013

D91: Cookie cooker

Baby food again!  I was all good and cooked/froze sticks of pumpkin and carrot too, but Bub seems to prefer actual sticks to those.  Oh well.

Right: Cauliflower & leek       Left: Cauliflower & broccoli

The cauliflower & leek was cooked in chicken stock and I suspect I made it too strong, even after I drained off all but a tablespoon or so of the liquid.  Maybe I'll make a potato mash as a dulling blender.  And as for making more cauliflower & broccoli puree? Well if it ain't broke...

Lactation cookies! Overwhelming let-down ahoy!

Apr 21, 2013

D89&90: Arvo tea-ing

Yesterday's apricot slice, but with a little over half the dough spread over a larger pan and then a very thin crust, with twice as much filling. Yummo! And, at bottom, today's two-tone brownie.

Apr 18, 2013

D89ish: Slump

Over three days this is about all I've accomplished as far as creative things go.  It is the thing I chose to 'pull out and complete' first, before all other things in my stash. Not especially exciting, and certainly not a thing I enjoy.  It may prove to be quite the speed hump.

You might have noticed that I'd skipped a few days over the Easter holiday break. I've decided to not beat myself up about missing a day here and there - it's meant to be for fun and health after all! But my days have been busy and we've celebrations this weekend too so I shan't make any promises.

There are so many things I'd like to have a go at -  cross stitching one of these quotes; some simple but interesting cushions; these little ninjas - check out my bad pinterest effort below, for a sample of my dream todo list. (Totally just got why I'd like, pinterest.  Right then.   Even as a delicious user.) You'd think I'd be super duper keen to chip away at the ooooooooooh dozen or so things I have either unfinished or unstarted - none of which are listed below.  I think I remember myself saying that the last batch of shopping would be my last for a while....

Omg this little girls' dress from Filcolana

This running stitch scarf...
...this McCalls dress...

...any of these...
...home made apple chips! Of course!

And now I realise my penchant for craft shopping is because it's something I can do while Bub's awake!

Apr 14, 2013

D88: Hostessing

I hosted my Bookclub today*. My Sunday plans included adding madeleines and maybe a tea cake or little apple tea cakes to the sweets, plus some cucumber and some ham sandwiches. And then, sad face, two of my five guests pulled out this morning, both home for illnesses, and I decided I had more than enough food already.

Bub and I nicked up the street for some fresh bread, ham and cucumber anyway, so that there were at least some savouries on offer, and we brought back some strawberries too. Even after sending home goodies for partners and missing folk, we've still got some slice, a fifth of the brownies and a small cookie jar of goodies left.

I did not, unfortunately, offload any of my many lactation cookies... Hopefully Hub will help knock them off soon. They're pretty good, but I'm finding the flaxseed meal leaves an aftertaste I don't much enjoy. Luckily he doesn't notice it much.

So, after much ado with tea cups, saucers and whatnot, I still didn't get a shot of the whole shebang. I was sad to miss out on the company of those who couldn't come, but it was lovely to see those who could. Tomorrow is the beginning of term 2 here, so the arvo was a bit of a last hurrah for a few teacher-folk.

In what should be a good thing, the place is clear of all projects: they're all put away, out of sight, so we could seat our guests. Normally this would be awful and torturous. But I'm hoping that if I only pull out, and complete (key step), one project at a time I'll be just as productive and less distracted. #surelycannotfail

*Our book, btw, was The one-hundred-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Even with such a thorough title, turns out there was more to say. But then this isn't a book review blogs so I'll leave it there.

Apr 13, 2013

D87: Preparations

I'm having people around for an arvo tea tomorrow so thought I'd take advantage of a spare Saturday to get in a few baked items ahead of time.

First, two-tone brownies. I've made them before, but this one isn't as good I think. The dark choc layer was very stiff and I'm not sure why. I clearly remember it pouring last time, but today it needed pushing. At least the white choc layer won't have sunk into it though.
On the down side, I burned an edge in my effort to ensure the middle was cooked. Note the sunken centre. Humph.

Second, double choc cookies, also a reliable go-to. No messing with the recipe today and they look pretty good.

Two containers filled with cookies :D

Third! Apricot slice from Cookery the Australian Way. It's actually a Lemon slice recipe, and the apple variation asks for a cup of apple purée, so I've drained can of apricot halves meant for pie, and puréed it to bits. Oh so yum.

How will I not eat any when I slice this up?

Perfectly breadcrumbed butter & flour
In other news, I discovered something a little awesome.  I don't love breadcrumbing butter and flour.  I usually start with frozen butter, which is preferable to soft butter when breadcrumbing, but still tricky.  So today I cut it up quite small and nuked it on a defrost for while, hoping to get it at least a little manageable.  Of course I got distracted and over did it, melting most of it.
But! If you chill it, whip it with a fork and chill it some more, it becomes a cold, light cream and oh my goodness just mix it all up with a fork and voila! Perfect! So even, so quick and easy to make into a dough. Deeelighted!
Rather pleased with the even end result too.

I would list my plans for tomorrow, but I wouldn't want to tempt fate.

D86: Rumble in the crumble

And when I say rumble I mean rhubarb.

My parents try to visit each week, which I love and which I find constantly impressive since they're pensioners and live over an hour away.  It makes a great difference to my wellbeing and I'm delighted Bub gets to see them regularly.

A few weeks ago Dad greeted me with "I know you love rhubarb..."
I really don't know where he got this idea.  Apple & rhubarb crumble was one of two desserts I'd turn down (rice pudding? What the?), plus anything else with rhubarb in it.  (Similarly, Mum thinks I'm not a fan of lamb. I love shank, I love lamb roast and I used to specifically request crumbed cutlets.  Did I mention the oddness of a recent spag bol made with lamb? I'm not sure, but it's otherwise a strange idea whose origin I cannot fathom.)

Anyway, the first time Dad brought rhubarb it was only two sticks, so we chucked it in an apple crumble and it was alright.

Last week he brought three sticks and, luckily, I don't hate it anymore.
I find the flavour hard to describe: It's the closest I've met that I'd actually call 'rustic'.

Apr 11, 2013

D85: Milk & Cookies

These are Lactation Cookies.  They are for making breastmilk, not made with breastmilk.  Subtle distinction.

The recipe looks pretty familiar, except for the key ingredients, then at the end it blithely chucks in 'Makes 6 dozen'.  O_o  Hmm, I wondered, shall we be weaning later than I thought? But in the end it was closer to a mere 4 dozen (minus the several Hub stole).

I used the recipe from bellybelly.com.au.  It's very easy, once you hunt down the special ingredients.  We found the flaxseed meal at our local supermarket, and the brewers yeast at a health food store although not all health food stores have it.  Some supermarkets keep it in their brewing section (down the soft drink aisle) and there are actual home-brew shops around too.  On the upside, one pack goes a long way.

Here is the recipe with a bit of extra info to help.  I didn't find the recipe crumbly at all - almost gooey in fact - but I left that text in case your batch is different.  I beat the butter and sugar till it was creamy and had changed colour and added an extra half-a-cup-ish of sultanas coz you just cannot get enough of them, especially if they caramelise on top.  I also went easy on the yeast, just in case it works really well: My supply only needs a bit of a boost, not a complete resurrection. (Fenugreek tea has been working well, but I don't like the taste very much.)

One generous tablespoon of dough gives a reasonably sized biscuit in 8 mins.  There's no need to shape the dough on the tray.  I made a few large ones (6 to a tray) thinking I'd use them as breakfast cookies, but then changed to small (12 to a tray) in case I didn't like them!

For the most part, they taste like regular oat-and-sultana style cookies, but there is definitely a background flavour of yeast and the flaxseed meal gives it an almost peppery after-taste*.  I'll try to report back on the their effectiveness too.  I've had one so far...

Lactation Cookies

  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • Half an apple, grated
  • 1 cup (250g) butter or margarine
  • 1.5 cups (270g) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 2 cups (300g) flour
  • 1 tspn baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 2-4 tbsp of brewers yeast (be generous)
  • 3 cups oats, thick cut if you can get them
  • 1 cup or more of 'stuff' - chocolate chips/sultanas/almonds/macadamia nuts (whatever takes your fancy)
Preparation time is around 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
1) Mix together the apple, flaxseed meal and water. Set aside.
2) Cream (beat well) butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well.
3) Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to the butter mix. Beat until blended.
4) Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and 'stuff'.
5) Add to butter mixture. Stir in oats then 'stuff'.
6) Scoop or drop onto baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment. 
Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies (1-2 tbsp).
Makes approximately 6 dozen cookies.

Jaffa variation: Substitute the water and apple with the juice & zest of one large orange, and use dark chocolate chips as 'stuff'. Oh my goodness.

These are excellent cookies.  Do not use raisins - they're too big and the cookies breakup too easily.
*The apple is an addition with this update and counteracts the peppery aftertaste.  

Apr 7, 2013

D82: Bread and stuff!

I made bread!

And am planning something crazy and expensive and that has a high probability of failing :D Marvellous day!

Apr 6, 2013

D81: Okaaaaay...

I did take a proper break there... But it wasn't a complete desert!

I completed the Peek-a-boo fabric book with top stitching the edges and tacking the spine.

Tacking and top stitching

I tried out blending two recipes together - or at least the flavours of one with the structure of another. It isn't quite right yet - hopefully I'll nut it out this week.

My Caramel Choc Chip Cookies... a work in progress.  More later.

Gluten-free version of my Caramel Choc Chip cookie trials.

And Bub shall be trying a few new flavours too. 
The apple, pear & banana may be used to temper the sourness of the apple, pear & plum puree of the other week.  It's very tasty, however sometimes Bub hits a sour patch (one time she literally smacked the table) which is hilarious but seems a little unfair.
The Peaches puree has white and yellow peach.  I'm a little curious how blending the two will taste. Hopefully yum!

Pear, Apple & Banana at the top, Peaches at the bottom.

AND I painted a cupboard for my in-laws.