Condiments

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… aka Condensed Milk Madness aka Get Me Outta This Confectionary Nightmare aka WHIMSICAL SALVAGE MISSION 101.

Around a week ago I posted this image. You know, Homer’s struggling to make breakfast for Mr Burns and even his cereal catches alight. I believe this series of stills captures my experience from the get go. With our internet personnas often providing a snapshot of only the excellent successes in our lives it’s a good, nice and healthy thing to occasionally acknowledge some undeniable frustrations.

The Sweet Swap is an exploration of generosty and sharing with all registration costs heading straight to Child Fund Australia so to complain too much of my myriad of kitchen fails may be considered in bad taste, however, in times like these all you can do is laugh so here’s the CONDENSED (ha ha ha ha ha) version of my trials and tribulations. For those who don’t know each participant of The Sweet Swap is assigned three random bloggers to post a box of homemade-with-love treats to and, in return, three entirely random sweet care packages will arrive in the mail from three new friends. Community spirit, man.

Embracing notions of ~seasonal produce~ I made some quince caramels on a whim, possibly the best thing I’d ever tasted but I used a little too much butter and I grew concerned for their mail-worthy safety and thus were ditched (into my mouth hole). I then went out and, for my gluten intolerant friend, bought a buttload of fancy flours to bake some cookies; unfortunately twitter alerted me that baked treats were not allowed. So I then attempted to prepare two kinds of jelly (raspberry + elderflower) to create something like the Zumbo fried egg in his book. From pâte de fruit to bombing the mixture with gelatine… it wasn’t happening (evidence of ensuing insanity lies here). So, I swallowed my pride, my awful and entitled my pride, I conquered my biggest fear and turned to… to… Donna Hay for a simple recipe for fudge. One was to be a spicy chocolate the other a boozy white but despite using coverture white chocolate the entire mixture of my first batch errupted into an oily, buttery mess. The heck? I tweaked the recipe and was left with only chocolate fudge. Dulce de leche was prepared as an accompaniment as I’ve made it dozens of times, and, lo and behold, for the first time ever some water escaped into the bain marie making the final product lumpy and imperfect. OH MAN. But at least I got there in the end, albeit modestly.

Lesson learnt: if you haven’t the time to be entirely focused just don’t do thing because confectionary is a harsh mistress and she will make you suffer a disappointing sugar-laden kitchen death when your priorities currently and unfortunately lie elsewhere. But enough with the whinging! Admittedly I was so mad during the cooking (failing) process I barely took any photos so here are some snaps as I was packaging my extraordinary comedy-of-errors. Before that though, and more importantly, I should share my trio of tempered chocolate perfection I very graciously received; panna cotta lamingtons by Simon of The Heart of Food, home made Snickers by Phuoc of Phuoc’n Delicious and Mallow Rough from Chocolate Johnny. No words, guys. Way to make me feel like an epic kitchen amateur in mere mouthfuls. THANK YOU. #blessed

Now for my dinky treats en route to my three recipients Christine of Cooking Crusade, Gareth of Humble Crumble and Martine of Chomp Chomp. I attempted to save them the only way I knew how; cute jars, twine and a post office delivery on my twee-beyond-words bicycle (please forgive me for I have sinned). I’ve linked back to the original recipes but Donna Hay’s fudge recipe may have some butter issues so… maybe go with my directions instead. Furthermore the spices are just an indication as I didn’t measure very well, taste test as everything is melting ok! Here’s how to get kooky with a few tins of humble liquid gold.













Winter Chocolate Fudge
(original recipe by Donna Hay)
400g chocolate, chopped
1x can sweetened condensed milk
150g butter
2 tbs ground mustard seed
1 tbs chili flakes (+ extra for decoration)
2 tsp salt

1. Place the chocolate, condensed milk and spices in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the chocolate is melted. Add the butter and stir again until everything has completely melted. Taste test and add more spices accordingly. Keep on the heat for a couple more minutes then carefully pour the mixture into a lightly greased 16cm-square tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Smooth over with a palette knife, sprinkle with chili flakes and a little salt and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Remove fudge and cut into small squares and wrap each piece in non-stick baking paper.

Dulce de Leche
(original recipe by The Food Dept.)
2x cans condensed milk
A few pinches of salt (I used a combination of orange + fennel infused and the regular kind).

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a baking dish with salt and stir to combine.
2. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place into a larger baking dish to create a bain marie. Once the oven is ready place the dish in the oven and fill with warm water until almost full.
3. Bake for 1 3/4 hours or until the condensed milk is golden/brown in colour. You’ll need to top up the water in the bain marie every as it evaporates.
4. Remove from oven, (carefully) remove foil and whisk until the dulce de leche is smooth as heck and ready to devour. Store in airtight jars. Adorn with a little extra salt.

Thanks very much to Sara and Amanda for organising the entire project, mammoth effort ladies! I’m looking forward to clearing my schedule in preparation for next year to avoid further disasterchef moments.

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Infused Olive Oil

EDIT: It has come to my attention the below instructable may in fact be a potential biohazard (kinda)! Well, more a health hazard. Plunging raw garlic in anaerobic environments may encourage the growth of botulism spores; a dangerous yet odourless, colourless toxin. To play it safe discard the garlic, add some acid (ie, vinegar or citric acid), keep refrigerated and from my google research these may only keep for around a week. Or just don’t make this, ok? I’ve prepared garlic + herb infused oils before without any problem but the internet now has me all suspicious. Google “infused oil and botulism” for more information. But I’m keeping this post here because I like the pretty pictures despite the irony you’ll discover if you read on. Who knew garlic could be so dangerous? -A

Once upon a time ago making jams, preserving vegetables, baking and growing your own produce was a necessity rather than a trend. The recent rise of grandma-esque crafts is a duel-edged sword for me. On one hand the the popularity of delicious stuff in jars is great. On the other hand Domestic Goddess chic seems to have reared it’s ugly head yet again; ”let’s make some jam hahahahahaaa wow so quiant I’m probably never going to eat this though because #iquitsugar hahah”! #DIY guys! In my eyes the return-to-the-provincial mindset should not be synonymous with quaint-for-the-sake-of-quaint. Growing up the art of canning, etc has always existed as an act of preservation; to store food longer, give it a second chance and/or transform it into something a little bit nice. Think caterpillar-butterfly with delicious results. The other day my Yiayia delivered an enormous jar of eggplants suspended in olive oil. My mum questioned as to how they came to be and she simply replied, in her adorable accent, “oh, you know, I had so many eggplants and they were beginning to turn old”. Nice one, Ya. You’re too legit to quit. You’re the pinnacle of grandma-chic but you’re too cool to even understand what that means.

So a few weeks ago my boyfriend’s sister’s boyfriend (deep breath) gave us a bag of thyme, sage and scotch bonnets from their garden. Touched by this act of kindness on a bad day I vowed to do something excellent with the entire bag. However, a week went by, life got in the way. I used a few leaves here and there but today was both startled and horrified upon discovering the herbs lying dormant, patiently, in the fridge. They were so garden fresh (I know this because I found a babby snail having a suckle) they were still incredibly fragrant despite looking wilted as heck. It was time to put my Yiayia’s philosophy into practice, a beautiful, relevant salvage mission.

Infused Olive Oil

Should I write a recipe format for this? Nah. Find some old jars, buy some extra virgin olive oil. Stuff the jars with some herbs, a clove of peeled garlic and a chili. Top the jars with oil and allow to steep; soon enough you’ll have an enjoyable infused oil to use however you wish. Remove the chili if you’re concerned about your oil turning into fire water. Take a photo of it, give it to your friends and bask in the #DIY glory (but don’t be a jerk about it). Just… don’t wrap it in twine, ok? I think we’re all a little old for that.

Infused Olive Oil

Infused Olive Oil

Infused Olive Oil

Infused Olive Oil

Infused Olive Oil

Infused Olive Oil

Here’s to second chances. #quaintlife

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