Waiting for Agnes

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Loophole number three… September 8, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking — titchandboofer @ 3:38 am
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…The virtuous use of leftovers:

Beloved, from bathroom where she is in bath with small (thus trapped and unable to patrol the kitchen) –

“I hear something! What are you doing out there?”

“Nothing, just, you know, putting stuff away”

“What stuff?”

“Um, dishes?”

“Why can I hear chopping?”

“I don’t know. What, do you have supersonic hearing now?”  …whispering “usually you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you from two feet away”

“I heard that! And WHAT ARE YOU CHOPPING?”

“Nothing”…whispering veeery softly “rhubarb”.

Pause. General baby-bathing noises resume. Plug pulled. Bath toys clatter about. Small complaining about end of bath.

Back in the kitchen I am trying to bake and hide evidence as quickly as possible. Mainly this just makes more mess.

“Why are you opening the fridge?”

“Just looking in it.”

Footsteps approaching kitchen. Quick appraisal of scene of crime. “YOU’RE BAKING! I SAID NO BAKING UNTIL SUNDAY! IT’S TUESDAY!”

“Did you just want me to let this rhubarb go off? Did you want it to be wasted and thrown into the compost? SHALL WE JUST THROW SOME MONEY AWAY TOO?!!”

Thrifty Rhubarb Muffins

leftover rhubarb from Wintery Whinypants Cake approx 100 grams (after trimming leaves and ends off), finely sliced (finer than cake, as cooking time is shorter)

160 grams of self-raising flour, sifted

125 grams of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 egg

90 grams of ricotta

65 grams of unsalted butter, melted

handful of white chocolate pieces, originally intended as snack, sliced up finely and thrown in at end for the hell of it

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Line a muffin tin with cases, or grease it very well, or use the little flat-bottom-and-smooth-side paper cases that can just sit on a tray (you will need 9 or 10)

Mix the flour, sugar and chopped rhubarb in a medium bowl.

Mix the vanilla, egg, ricotta and butter in a small bowl/jug.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.

Stir in the white chocolate.

Spoon into muffin tin/cases

Bake for 15-20 minutes. They are done when risen, golden and springy to touch.

“I’m not eating any.”


“But I will take two to golf tomorrow.”


Layer upon layer August 26, 2010

Filed under: Things that aren't sweet — titchandboofer @ 11:11 am
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Do you remember the children’s book The Magic Pudding? The star of the story was a grumpy pudding who could walk and talk and, if I remember correctly, play cards. Magical, because he could be any flavour that you wished for and he never ran out. I don’t recall all the finer details (and possibly have confused bits with Bottersnikes and Gumbles), but I think there was a fair bit of tramping about in the bush, card-playing by the fire, a koala with impressive whiskers, tea drinking and, of course, eating of the foul-tempered pudding. Must have been Australian. Anyhow, rainbow chard is just like the magic pudding, without the attitude or the ability to taste like golden-syrup dumplings (now there’s an idea). Months ago, late Summer if I remember correctly, I filled a little seed-planter with seed raising mix, scattered some seeds in and waited. In the early days I was super excited just to see the seedlings pushing their way up out of the soil. I tended them carefully, watering regularly, chatting to them and marveling at how the colours of the plant were so distinct, even in miniature. They grew strong enough to transplant into the raised vegie bed out the back, sheltering under bird-net to guard them from Agnes. By this time it was late Autumn and I was distracted by other projects, so I just left them to fend for themselves. They grew and grew and grew some more. I snapped off great pot’s full for wintery soups, ricotta pies and braising. I pick it by the handful for the chooks. I even pickled some (don’t bother). I cut bags of the stuff to give to people (anyone who’d take it, The Granny, her work colleagues, the man next door, the woman at the post office). And there’s still masses of it. Really, masses. We’re going to be eating it forever. So now I’m trying to find cunning ways to squeeze it into any dish going.

Grown-Up Lasagne

Adapted from a Valli Little recipe that appeared in delicious. in July 2007

1.2 kilograms of butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into ~2cm chunks

a generous couple of tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon of chopped sage, plus about 20 leaves to serve

1/4 of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg

350 grams of ricotta

1 large saucepan of fresh rainbow chard (AKA silverbeet/swiss chard/five-colour silverbeet)

1 egg

1 cup of grated parmesan, plus extra to serve

8 fresh lasagne sheets

100 grams of unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced)

Butter up a baking dish (square or oval, it won’t matter as long as it’s about 1.5 litres in volume and you don’t mind fiddling about with trimming the lasagne sheets to fit)

Put your chopped pumpkin on a baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the chilli flakes.

Cover with foil and put in the oven for about 1/2 an hour, until tender. Allow to cool a little.

While this is cooking, rinse your rainbow chard. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the same large saucepan over low-medium heat. Put the chard in still wet, adding it a handful at a time, pausing between handfuls to allow it to reduce in bulk. Cook until shrunk right down and tender. Tip into a sieve to drain. Set aside.

Buzz the pumpkin, sage and nutmeg in a food processor until smoothish (no need to overdo it). Set aside.

Clean the food processor.

Process the ricotta, egg, parmesan and rainbow chard until well combined.

Lay 2 lasagne sheets on the base of your baking dish. Spread with half the pumpkin. Lay on another 2 lasagne sheets. Spread with half the ricotta/chard mix. Repeat.

Sprinkle extra grated parmesan over the final ricotta/chard layer. Cover with baking paper and foil.

Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 15 minutes. When nicely golden, take out of the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.

In the mean time, put the butter, extra sage leaves and walnuts into a small frypan/saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the butter is just foaming.

Serve the lasagne drizzled with the sage butter. This is nothing like traditional, meaty lasagne. It’s rich and buttery, with the beautiful contrasting texture of the walnuts, the heat from the chilli and the subtle but certain flavour of the sage. The rainbow chard doesn’t stand out, but you’ll know it’s there, and you can wallow in the virtue of its dark green leafy goodness, while you mop butter from your chin.