Monday, January 31

Making a splash at the end of the holidays

The end of the holidays is here.  Eloise is back at school today and my little girls are having their Best Start assessments before they start officially on Thursday.  I'm probably one of the few parents around who has not been counting down the days til the end of the holidays - quite the opposite.  I've been trying to savour each day, I've been a little selfish with our time and having as much Mummy/girl-time as I can.

So these next few days I'll be holding my babies tight before they start on Thursday.

Yesterday we sent out our school holidays with a splash over at my god-sister's house - we're more like sisters and grew up together.  Her Mum is my god-mother and vice-versa and she was my maid of honour at my wedding.  We can talk to each other about anything.   We haven't seen her new house and she's been there almost a year - and we wanted to meet her new baby - Puppy 'Schultz'.
Isn't he ADORABLE?  He poses for the camera and everything!

We also got to 'test out' the pool!

My big girl, can't believe she's starting Year 1 today - love the gappy smile!

Does it get any cuter than this?

Olivia couldn't wait to get in the water!

Uncle James was first in!
And before we knew it we were all having fun!

Uncle James and Aunty Bindy have a great supply of 'fightin' gear'

Lots of fun!

Schultzie had to get in on the action - he sits on the top step of the pool!!


Olivia is gaining loads of confidence in the water - she had a great day.

I love this photo!

Schultzie, your Mummy and Daddy are so lucky I didn't pack you in the car with the rest of my clan!

How was your weekend?

Sunday, January 30

Sunday Baking Project: Decadent birthday cake - Bombe Alaska

When I was a child, this was my birthday cake of choice.  I've said before I'm not really a huge cake lover and I've never been fond of icing as a child but sweet tooth?  Yes, I put my hand up proudly.  Bombe Alaska was 'the' dessert of the 70's along with crepes suzette - but of course no-one wants to give flaming crepes to a child on their birthday do they?  Mmmm crepes suzette...

I have been asking my Mum for YEARS to make one for me and it never has eventuated.  I made this and worked out why.  It's not as easy as it looks - but let me say this - it's totally worth it.  You need to be feeding a crowd or cut the recipe in half (learn from my mistakes - thank goodness for next-door neighbours with teenagers!) and you need to eat it straight away.  There's no leftovers for later.

So hubby knowing how much I wanted one and never having eaten one before requested one of his own for his birthday last week.  I took on the task with enthusiasm and nostalgia.

The verdict is it's very sweet but utterly delicious.  You need to be quite organised at the tail end - it needs to be assembled minutes before you serve it.   Totally worth it for the wow factor.

1 sponge cake (or use my custard sponge recipe)
250g strawberries
1 litre vanilla icecream (or other flavour if you prefer - as a child I liked strawberry)
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tb liquid glucose

Make your sponge and set aside.  Lick the beaters and spatulas thoroughly. If time poor just buy one!

Wash your strawberries and half them.  Set aside.

at least 3 hours before serving
Wash the tin you made your sponge in or find one roughly the same shape as your sponge.
Line with clingwrap and spread your partially melted icecream in the bottom.  Pull the sides of the clingfilm over to cover the top and return to the freezer to freeze hard. (It does need to be hard)

Beat eggwhites until stiff, leave on the stand mixer or just set aside whilst you heat the sugar.

In a saucepan, place sugar and glucose syrup and enough water just to make the sugar slushy.  Put in your sugar thermometer and heat until you get to 121 degrees, quickly remove from heat and take over to your egg whites.

Whilst continuing to beat egg whites, gradually pour the sugar mixture and beat at a high speed.  The mixture may seem to flatten a bit but continue to beat for about 6-9 minutes depending on the speed of your mixer until it becomes a thick meringue.

Cover bowl of meringue and put in the fridge to cool or place in piping bag that's been closed at one end. (personally in hindsight I'd just put in the bowl).

5 minutes before serving
Put griller on the oven and place your tray down low.
Line a large baking tray with aluminium foil and place your sponge on it.

Cover the sponge with strawberries

Unwrap the disk of icecream and place on top of strawberries.

Pipe on, or spoon on meringue until it totally covers the cake and icecream, on all sides - be QUICK.

Place under the grill until the top crisps up a little (do NOT answer the phone) and watch it carefully.

Serve with sparklers for birthdays as candles won't stay upright!

Serve quickly and DEVOUR!

Friday, January 28

Easy peasy tangy tamarind drumsticks

Now I realise you probably won't have tamarind paste in your fridge or pantry - but it's a worthwhile paste to have as it forms the base of many a thai curry and these - which I think have middle eastern origins.  I wanted to serve something aromatic, a little spicy with some freshness and really - this is a fabulous spring or summer dinner.  They are gorgeous cold too.  My kids loved them cold!

2kg chicken drumsticks
1 tb coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch black pepper
2 tb olive oil
3 dried dates
1/2 cup water
3 tb tamarind paste
2 limes, sliced
1 sprig coriander, chopped roughly

In a mortar and pestle grind your coriander and cumin seeds with the cloves until they are aromatic and lovely -about 1-2 minutes (or longer if you've had a frustrating day).

Add your peppers, cinnamon and oil, make into a lovely paste.

Rub the paste all over your chicken and place in the fridge for about 3-6 hours or even overnight.

Prepare the sauce by mixing water, prunes and tamarind paste until it's thick and saucy - then set aside in the fridge.

When you're ready to cook - preheat your oven to 200 degrees c and place chicken on a baking tray (you'll need a lip on the baking tray to catch drippings from the chicken) cook for about 35-40 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish and scatter limes, chopped coriander and tamarind sauce over and toss them through.

Seriously it's not as spicy as you would think, just aromatic and tasty...gorgeous!!

Thursday, January 27

A glimpse at our Australia day - how was yours?

Last year I chastised myself as I hardly took any photos - luckily my friends did but this year we took it to new levels -hardly anyone did!  Only a few and mainly of food (this I call food bloggers curse) but I hope you like them.  Good news is I have a whole lotta new recipes to share with you in the coming days!

It was a pretty laid back affair with most of the food preparation taking place the night before and we were pretty organised - so organised I even managed to whip myself up a quick shirt in the morning.  (See, retromummy is a good influence on me, but my fabric stash says otherwise!) I saw the fabric on sale a few weeks ago and thought it looked aussie-flag-like.  $4 for this shirt, with leftover fabric for a head wrap!

It was nice and cool and THANK GOODNESS because it was HOT.  Steamy would be a more accurate description.  The group of 8 kids we had here got busy in the wading pool, the slip n slide.  After lunch this included the adults too getting into ice-fights, water fights and then by the end of the day, mud fights... ahem.

We had enough to feed an army (I always over cater, cater for blow-ins etc) and friends bought wonderful contributions like Baileys cheesecake, smoked salmon dip (I am SO getting that recipe for you guys!) and of course how could I forget the caramel lamington shaped like Australia?!  (delicious for any time of the year!!).

So the upside of catering for an army is there's lots of delicious leftovers and I get a rest from the kitchen for a few days.  I'm sure there's a few hangovers amongst our party today - and I don't want to point anyone out in particular, but none of those would be the ladies at the party... if you catch my drift.  I'm sure hubby is feeling a little worse for wear at work today and has drunk his bodyweight in coffee...

How was your Australia Day?

Tuesday, January 25

Disneyland's Bengal Beef skewers!

Yes, I'm serious.  Disneyland has a cookbook - a few actually.  This recipe got my attention because they are one of the more popular dishes at Disneyland and it looked spicy, but not too spicy, not too many ingredients and using every day ingredients.

I have adapted it for Australian ingredients so it's not strictly kosher but it's pretty darned good!

The verdict from the family was 'mmmmm YUM!' and the marinade did make alot so I put it in a container and put it with some more beef in the freezer, so all I need to do is defrost, thread on skewers and cook.  You may like the halve the recipe.

1 cup Soy Sauce 
1 tb ground black pepper 
3 tb sesame seed oil 
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced or finely choped
3 tb cornflour              
800g blade or chuck steak
15 skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes

Mix 1 1/2 cups water with the soy sauce, black and cayenne peppers and garlic.  In a separate bowl or glass mix the sesame oil with the cornflour and mix each well.

Combine the two bowls, mix well and set aside.  Cut your beef into thick-ish strips and place on skewer as below:  Pour your marinade over the top until beef is completely covered.  Set aside for about 30 minutes.

Heat your bbq or grill pan until very hot.  cook 3 minutes on first side and 2 minutes on the second side.  

 Set aside to rest before serving with salad or whatever you fancy (I did Greek salad and wedges)

Put a few up on your Australia Day BBQ perhaps?

Monday, January 24

Stationery! My tips and something to win!

Now you may think the only stationery you're going to need this year is for the kids.  Yes, well most schools do distribute a stationery list and then if you have older kids they'll be begging you for the latest, coolest, 'everyone's got' bits of stationery.

I found myself buying a lot more stationery last year.   Permanent markers to label, whiteboard markers to practice writing with Eloise... then pens, where do all the pens go?  And envelopes.  Oh my the envelopes - permissions slips this, fundraising that.  Lots of envelopes. Lastly I bought clear plastic A4 envelopes because they are brilliant to put all the notes that come home from school in.  I got Eloise in a routine of emptying her bag each day and all the notes went in there. I never lost notes thank goodness. The other thing I'd recommend is a highlighter.  Highlight dates things are due back, money required etc on notes... helps so much.

We haven't even embarked on covering books yet!

So I'm organised this year - not only have I bought all the kids' stationery, labels etc but I've bought pens, envelopes, markers and my trusty plastic envelopes (they only cost $1 or so from the supermarket).

And Pilot are giving away a back to school kit for three lucky Frills in the Hills readers!

Each kit valued at $50  and includes:

  • 4 x of the new Pilot B2P (Bottle to Pen) pens - these are made from recycled plastic drinking bottles!
  • 1 x Pilot BegreeN clean eraser
  • 2 x Pilot BegreeN Rexgrip ballpoint - I love the grippy ones
  • 2 x Pilot BegreeN G-Knock retractable pen with the grippy bit!
  • 1 x Pilot BegreeN Spotlifter Dual in Pink/Yellow - double ended highlighter
  • 1 x Pilot BegreeN White line correction tape - messy liquid paper is a thing of the past!
  • 3 x Pilot Frixion erasable pens (btw you can win an iPad with Frixion over at the Pilot Facebook page at the moment!)
(the items from the BegreeN range are made with at least 70% recycled materials too!)

Now to enter:
I want to hear YOUR tips.   How  you stay organised for school - lunches, notes, homework, uniforms, getting out the door without having a nervous breakdown (I need those ones)

Leave a comment here with your entry - 1 entry per person please!
Extra entry if you use that fabulous new little Facebook Share button up the top of the post!
Entries close midnight 4th February and open to those with Australian postal addresses.


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