Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Miss Kitty bakes: pumpkin and feta loaf

I could start this post by apologising profusely for my absence, but I sense it might be a bit of a theme this year (we have so much going on) and the blog is a bit of a low priority at the moment (amongst other such life changing discussions as "build me a house" and "shall we try to have another child?" etc.). So I will be back and forth, posting when I can or when people ask for specific recipes.

Don't you just love instagram? I live on it. And that's where I saw a variation of this recipe, from the gorgeous Rachael Finch. The recipe originally appeared on her website. I am trying to convince Mr K that we should eat less meat, somewhat unsuccessfully, but if I can find more things like this then I think I am in with a shot.

I didn't have enough almond meal for the recipe and although I had raw almonds and could have made some, I also had a bit of quinoa languishing at the back of my cupboard, so I decided to adapt the recipe to suit what we had. It was delicious. I will definitely be making it again.

The best part for me was that it actually held together! So many of my quinoa experiments have been failures as I have yet to find the right texture and binding agents. My quinoa patties always fall apart. I just tend to throw it in salads or serve it as a side with meat or a stew, but this time it really worked well.

Here is the link to the original recipe, which I have adapted below. Rachael actually adapted it to fit what she had in her cupboard, so it is a very forgiving loaf. You could add whatever veggies you like to it - I think it would be great with roasted eggplant, zucchini and capsicum and served with a chunky tomato sauce in winter, or do as we did and serve it with a salad. This served three hungry people easily, but you could fiddle with the amounts and make a larger loaf to feed more.

Pumpkin and quinoa loaf

1/2 a small butternut pumpkin
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
Handful sundried tomatoes, sliced
100g feta cheese, roughly crumbled
3 free range eggs
1 tablespoon chives
1/4 cup milk
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Remove the skin from the pumpkin, cut into bite size cubes and roast on a greased tray for 20 minutes or until coloured and soft. Let the pumpkin cool.

Cook the quinoa in a pot over a low heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, mix together eggs, milk and almond meal, quinoa then add all other ingredients. Fold gently to mix well. Pour into baking tin lined with baking paper & bake for 30-40mins, or until crisp on top.

Let the loaf cool for about 5 minutes before removing from tin. Serve with a salad or steamed veggies.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Busy Busy Kitty!

Two steps forward, one step back.

Or that's what life seems like at the moment for the Kitty folk.

Just as one gets better, the next comes down with some mutant strain of bleeeeaaauuugghhh... At the moment Mr K is laid up with it but I was unwell mid-week and Little G was sick the previous week. It seems to get worse everytime it moves from person to person. Lord knows how we will cope with the move to 2 days daycare next year.

We purchased a block of land 5 weeks ago (very exciting and something that has been on the cards for a couple of years for us) and, despite our best efforts to have plans sorted out before settlement, we are waaaaay behind schedule. Majorly. I guess I have to look forward to this being my life for the next few years, right? Unsurprisingly, life gets in the way of the best of intentions, nothing ever goes to plan when you build, right? Right...?

At this point, we are all looking forward to a relaxing week over Christmas with my parents and my brother and sister and their families. We just have to get there. Hopefully in one piece.

Kitty xx

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: Gateau au Yaourt a la framboise

When all else fails, bake.

This seems to be my motto at the moment, along with the Kitty Family mantra: Never Knowingly Under-catered. The two go hand in hand.

When my brain is about to explode, filled with so much going on, it is sometimes the only form of release I have.The mindless therapy of stirring and beating and mixing and pouring, then waiting for the house to fill with the glorious sweet scent of home baked cakes and treats. It's so soothing for me and helps keep the chaos of my mind slightly more ordered.

Today was such one day - I felt compelled to bake. Beyond all reason. G has come down with a cold very suddenly - one minute fine, the next, a streaming mess of clingy toddler snot. Mr K is completely bogged down with work so once G went to sleep for her nap (albeit a very small one), I just had to make something.

This Gateau au Yaourt, or Yoghurt Cake, as it is known in English, is simplicity at it's best. You can use whatever sugar you like - either white or golden castor or brown sugar, and you can flavour it with whatever you like: sliced peaches work beautifully when they are in season, lemon zest and blueberries work all year round, poached quinces or pears are lovely for a winter treat. But this variation with raspberries and almond meal is my favourite. The almond meal makes it a little more rustic and dense - you can replace it with a little more flour if you choose.

The recipe is a traditional French treat, often made by children with their mothers. The simplicity comes from the fact you can use a single yoghurt pot as a measuring cup for the majority of the ingredients. I simply use a half cup measure - French yoghurt pots are 125ml each, or half a cup. I got the recipe originally from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini.

Despite her cold, Georgie ate an entire piece of this magical creation. So it must be good. It lasts well but it never lasts long around here.

Gâteau au Yaourt à la Framboise

2 tubs (or 1 cup) of plain yogurt, I used Jalna organic fat free because that's what I have but any yoghurt works in this cake
Use one of the empty tubs to measure out :
2 tubs of brown sugar (or 1 cup)
1/2 tub of oil (1/4 cup - I use vegetable oil but you could use coconut or light olive if you like)
3 tubs of sifted plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tub ground almonds (1/4 cup)
You will also need :
3 eggs
1 Tbsp baking powder
a good pinch of salt
300 g raspberries (fresh or frozen -- no need to thaw them if they're frozen)

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Copiously grease and line a 9-inch (22 cm) round cake pan with baking paper.

In a medium bowl measure out then combine the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the almonds. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, the oil and the sugar with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three or four additions, and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

Alternatively, use your food processor to mix the batter, adding the ingredients in the same order as indicated above.

Pour half the batter into the cake pan. Cover evenly with half of the raspberries. Pour the other half of the batter, and arrange the other half of the raspberries on top.

Put into the oven to bake, for 50 to 60, until the top is springy and a cake tester comes out clean. If it looks like the top of the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the rest of the baking time.

Let rest on the counter for ten minutes -- I repeat : let rest on the counter for then minutes -- then run a knife around the cake to loosen it, and turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Miss Kitty Cooks: Chinese Chicken salad

Okay, I'll admit, this isn't exactly "cooking" (unless you count roasting or poaching the chicken), more assembling. It's a very easy and quick summer's dinner. You can make it with freshly poached chicken, or - do as I did - roast one you have in your fridge (Thanks Vic's Meats Market Day!). Or, you can always do what I usually do - which is use the white meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken. Delicious any way you look at it.

It's an adaptation of a recipe my mum used to make years ago. She got it, I think from a US recipe book, or maybe she had it in a restaurant once? I forget the provenance but the recipe is that good it has stuck around for years. That's testament to a delicious salad in my book!

The salad measurements are loose - it's the dressing that has to be spot on. I always make sure I have all of the ingredients on hand. It makes a fast and easy supper on nights when you just can't face cooking again.

Miss Kitty's Chinese Chicken salad

Serves 2 hungry people

2 cooked chicken breast fillets (either roasted or poached), skin removed and meat shredded
1 lebanese cucumber, sliced
4-5 large cos lettuce leaves, sliced
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 packet Changs Fried Noodles (leave these out if you want a healthier version)
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup coriander leaves


3 tablespoons Hoi Sin sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
Juice from one lime (more if your lime isn't all that juicy), you are after 3 or so tablespoons
One tablespoon rice wine vinegar
A few drops of sesame oil, about 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Combine all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

Add all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine. Taste dressing for balance - I often find I need to add more lime juice to make it a little more tangy. You are looking for a good balance of sweet, salty and tart in this dressing.

Pour dressing over the salad and sprinkle with more coriander.

Eat with gusto. Try to share. Don't be too distressed if you can't. You could also make a vegetarian version with fried tofu (yum yum).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Miss Kitty Goes: Honkers

Another day and another apology. Since we got back from Hong Kong we have been overwhelmed by STUFF. Things to do. It's party season here for the little bug so we are busy trotting off to those on weekends and there is an awful lot of work to be done for the Jewel Collective over the next few months. Plus we are attempting to buy a house... It's never just one thing is it?

We met lots of lovely potential suppliers at the trade show in Hong Kong. Alas, there wasn't an awful lot of time left for other, more fun things. We had a few dinners out (one reasonably posh one) but the rest of our meals were very utilitarian, unfortunately. Ahhh - the joys of travelling with a child. For work. The best of both worlds!

We did manage to squeeze in a little bit of fun - a small amount of shopping for the bug. Some yummy food. Suffice to say we are looking forward to another trip next year.

Yummy Katsu from Ginza Bairin and pork buns from Tim Ho Wan:


And leopard print macaron boxes from Laduree. I mean, did you EVER??

I did manage to buy a few small things for myself - a couple of scarves at Zara, a bangle from Shanghai Tang and this little amethyst and pink sapphire beauty from the Trade Show from a Thai jeweller who had the most spectacular things...
 Despite the heat, I even managed a few good hair days:

Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Frappucinos: I miss you so much, but my thighs do not miss you at all.

Georgie scored well - two pairs of Melissa shoes and this awesome fur gillet from Zara. They do have fantastic kids clothes!


And we toasted the end of our trip with a few cocktails at Aqua, whilst watching the gorgeous lights of the harbour below us.

Honkers, you never cease to amaze us with your beauty and fast pace. Hopefully we will see you again next year!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Miss Kitty Does: My new project

First up, apologies for the silence slash sporadic posting over the past few months. Georgie is going through a bit of a delightful phase at the moment and it's really hard to tear yourself away from them when they are just this cute. Really cute. And occasionally snotty (which is even more high maintenance)...

Also, I do have news to share with you all. My new baby. For the last four months or so I have been working on my new business idea, The Jewel Collective. We are heading off to Hong Kong next week to meet with manufacturers and potential suppliers. It's very very exciting but also nerve wracking. Occasionally I feel like I want to vomit with so much going on (and more than occasionally just having a very quiet freak out over here) but I am loving the whole process, even the mundane stuff. Jewellery is something I have been passionate about, ever since I was a little girl, so it just feels right for me to move into this space.

I am currently on track to launch in March 2014 (fingers crossed). I would gladly appreciate any advice you have about running a small business, online or otherwise. It's a big call for someone who has never done it to start working for herself. But I am excited and thrilled to be launching something of my very own.

Stay tuned for more news and sneak peeks of the first collection!

Kitty xx

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: spiced apple cider fruit bread

Mr K is a fairly undemanding spouse. When I asked him what he wanted me to bake him for Father's Day, he said immediately: "a loaf of bread."

"A loaf of bread? Just a loaf of bread? Not a cake, or something, I don't know... Challenging?"

"Yes. A loaf of bread," he replied.

So a loaf of bread it was. However, knowing him and his likes, I decided to make it a little more special than just your average white loaf. He has a soft spot for my hot cross buns, so I thought I might make something like that but in a loaf form.

I adapted a recipe from one of my newest cookbook acquisitions, the Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook. It's actually a really great book, full of good tips and hints and excellent recipes for everyone from the basic baker through to the most polished of patissiers.I really enjoyed the TV show and have already earmarked a number of the recipes to try at home.

This is a fairly easy bread to make. the dough is quite stiff in the beginning but it does rise well. The main changes I made to the recipe include substitution of fruit (we had no currants and we don't like mixed peel) and upping the spice levels. We have been nibbling away at it for most of the morning - the heady cinnamon and spice smell in the house keep drawing us back to the loaf. It would be fabulous toasted, but frankly, I don't think it's going to last that long here.

And Mr K's all important verdict? Delicious. That says it all, really.

Miss Kitty's spiced apple cider fruit bread
(adapted from this recipe)

¾ cup raisin
¾ cup sultanas
335ml bottle of dry apple cider, warmed (I used Monteith’s Apple Cider)
3½ cups white bread flour
Zest of one orange
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

Soak the raisins and sultanas in the warm cider while you measure out the other ingredients. Add the flour, spices, zest and yeast to a warm bowl and make a well in the centre. Strain the cider from the fruit, reserving the fruit. Add the liquid to the dry mixture. Knead well (15—20 minutes by hand or about 7-8 minutes in a kitchenaid) until the dough is stretchy. Add a little more water (2-3 tablespoons) if the dough doesn’t come together. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size — about 45—60 minutes. I popped my dough back into the Kitchenaid bowl and into a sink half filled with warm water – our kitchen was cold this morning.

Knock back the dough and add the fruit. Knead until the fruit is evenly distributed. Shape into an oval loaf and place on the baking tray. Cover with baking paper and a clean tea towel and prove a second time for 30 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C. Dust the loaf with flour and score it with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack and eat slathered in good butter.