Rhubarb rice pudding

Rice pudding with stewed rhubarb

Last Friday I took a study day to finish an assignment. I am incredibly insanely grateful that my work is one that offers study leave for people studying degrees that add to the business (I’m studying a Bachelor of Business which OF COURSE is relevant to any business). It also felt glorious to get up, go for a run and then have time to make myself breakfast.

I had something very specific in mind. I wanted stewed rhubarb and I wanted rice pudding. I didn’t want a baked rice pudding though, I wanted something that was a lot more like a sweet risotto. Creamy, sweet, comforting. I knew the recipe existed, I just couldn’t remember where. After a few minutes searching through my recipe collection I hit pay dirt in the Joy the Baker cookbook and it was on.

Rice pudding with stewed rhubarb

The first mouthful of this was almost too… everything. Too sweet, too rich, too tart. All at once. By the second bite though, the flavours started to balance out, and by the third bite I knew I would have to force myself to stop.Rice pudding with stewed rhubarb

Rice pudding with stewed rhubarb

(Adapted from the Joy the Baker cookbook and Donna Hay Issue 74 respectively)

Ingredients

Stewed rhubarb

250g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 2cm pieces

¼ cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick cinnamom

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Rice pudding

2 cups of water, boiled

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup basmati rice

1 ½ cups milk

¼ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

20g unsalted butter

 

Directions

 

  1. In a saucepan combine the rhubarb, caster sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon stick and lemon juice. Place on the stove over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, and cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the rhubarb is very soft. Once cooked place in a bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile combine the rice and salt in a separate saucepan over a high heat. Add the boiled water (this will decrease cooking times) and cover. Cook, checking occasionally until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is al dente. This will take around 10 – 15 minutes. Remove the rice from the saucepan and set aside. Rinse out the saucepan and place back over a low heat. Add the milk, sugar and cinnamon and cook until just warm, whisking to combine.
  3. Add the rice back to the pot and cook, stirring often until the rice is creamy and the milk absorbed. Stir through the butter.
  4. Serve topped with the stewed rhubarb.

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P.S. Happy Easter/Equinox! I will spending it hanging out with Mike, cooking dinner for friends and…doing a lot of homework (sigh)

Chai Latte

Chai latte

As my archives suggest; I’m a bit of a chai addict. I’ve put chai flavours into pancakes, cinnamon buns, french toast and waffles. Plans are afoot to make chai flavoured muffins in the near future.

So it seemed strange that I haven’t actually shared my recipe for a chai latte. I love to make a pot in the morning and taking it into my study.

Chai latte

What’s great about this recipe is it is made with all milk; I did this for two reasons:

  1. I love my chai to milky and creamy.
  2. This way I could take my cup and my tea pot with me to my study without also having to take milk with me as well to add to my tea as I topped it up.

Chai latte

Chai Latte

(Adapted from A Beautiful Mess)

Ingredients

2 black tea bags

½ teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 – 2 teaspoons brown sugar (to taste)

½ teaspoon cloves

1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoons nutmeg

Pinch of ground black pepper

Approximately 2 cups of milk

Directions

  1.        Measure out enough milk to fill your tea pot (this works out to be almost exactly 2 cups for me but it may vary slightly for you).
  2.        If your teapot can be placed directly on the stove fill it with milk and place on the stove. Bring JUST to the boil (what is known as a rolling boil). If you aren’t sure how hot, put your finger in when it starts to feel a bit too hot to drink straight away, remove from the heat.
  3.        If your teapot cannot be placed directly on the stove heat the milk instead in a saucepan until it reaches a rolling boil (refer above) and then pour into your teapot.
  4.        Add the tea bags, spices, pepper and sugar and stir to combine. Place the lid on the teapot and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes. Pour into a cup to serve. If you’re feeling a bit fancy sprinkle some cinnamon on top!

Leek and cheese toasties

Leek and cheese toasties

I love a good toasted sandwich, and am amazed by how many good, and really elaborate recipes there are out there!

This definitely falls into the slightly more complex side of things; we’re cooking leeks slowly until soft, we’re adding beer and making a roux (of sorts). And of course we’re adding lots of cheese.

It’s all in good fun though, and with a long weekend coming up you have plenty of time to make this and spread it over bread.

Leek and cheese toasties

Leek and cheese toasties

(Adapted from Donna Hay Issue 62)

Ingredients

40g unsalted butter

1 leek, trimmed, halved and sliced in 2cm pieces

1 brown onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

¼ cup pale ale

1 tablespoon plain flour

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon mustard powder

2 cups grated cheddar

4 slices of crusty bread

Directions

  1.        Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a low medium heat.  Add the leek, onion and garlic and cook for ten minutes until soft.
  2.        Add the beer and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced. Sprinkle over the floor and stir for 2 minutes until mixture starts to thicken.
  3.        Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Place back on the heat and add the mustard powder and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
  4.        Meanwhile preheat your grill on maximum and place your bread in a toaster for a minute (this isn’t to “toast” the bread, this is more to make it a little bit crunchy and stop the leek mixture from making the bread squishy, trust me you don’t want that).
  5.        Spread a medium layer of the leek mixture on each piece of bread and place under the grill for 5 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for a minute or so.

Rhubarb and apple crumble

Rhubarb and apple crumble

Remember how I said I would make one crumble a month? Well this is Miss April. She’s a bit sweet, but a bit tart as well.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe in the latest Donna Hay magazine; although the recipe in question is for a pie. So you get all the joy of a pie filling, without all dough making and chilling and rolling. Realising this has been a bit of a revelation to me, and I’m now combing my pie recipes for inspiration for crumbles (next month’s is a doozy let me tell you).

Rhubarb and apple crumble

This month though, rhubarb and apple are stewed with orange juice, and then cooked under a ginger spiced crumble. The filling gets those delicious chewy bits around the edges and the crumble is almost a solid layer of crunch. Essentially, yum.

Rhubarb and apple crumble

Rhubarb and apple crumble

(Adapted from Donna Hay magazine issue 74)

Ingredients


50g unsalted butter, chopped

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 2cm pieces

500g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 3 cm pieces

1 cup raw sugar

2 teaspoons orange rind, finely grated

1 ½ tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumble

⅓ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup plain flour

60g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°. Grease a pie dish or casserole dish with butter and set aside. To make the filling melt the butter in a saucepan over high heat, add the apples and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until softened. Add the rhubarb, sugar, orange rind, orange juice and vanilla and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes until the fruit is tender. Transfer to the prepared pie dish and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. To make the crumble; place the sugar, baking powder, salt and ginger in a bowl and toss to combine. In a separate bowl rub the butter through the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar mixture and combine. Sprinkle over the prepared fruit, place on a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden and crisp and the inside is bubbling.
  3. Cool for 5 minutes and serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

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I am baking one crumble a month this year, to challenge myself, to immerse myself in the season, and to just prove that there is a crumble for every month. You can check out all of the recipes here.

 

Hot cross pancakes

Hot cross pancakes

Easter is fast approaching, and one of my favourite things (aside from the total lack of stress surrounding Easter) is hot cross buns. Growing up my mum had weirdly specific rules regarding when food was acceptable to eat; but she considered hot cross buns exempt from any rules aside from get as many in your mouth as you can get your hands on.

So I ate many hot cross buns; ranging from awful to sublime. I fell in love with the spicy sweet flavours, the citrus and the raisins. So naturally when I saw the recipe for hot cross pancakes on Joy the Baker’s website; I knew I had to make them.

Hot cross pancakes

I’ve adjusted the recipe ever so slightly; enhancing the citrus flavour and ditching the actual cross on top. Why? Well because I forgot to buy cream cheese and when I remembered weighed up a run to the shops versus just making it without the cross and the latter one. You can of course add the cross on top if you like (instructions are included in Joy the Baker’s original recipe).

Hot cross pancakes

Hot Cross Pancakes

(Adapted from Joy the Baker)

Ingredients

 

30g unsalted butter, melted and set aside to cool

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup raisins (or currants or sultanas)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 100°C and place a plate inside to warm up.
  2. In a large bowl add the orange zest, lemon zest and caster sugar. Use your hands to rub the zest through the sugar, this will help to release the flavor. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and whisk to combine.
  3. In a jug whisk together the melted butter, egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Pour the west ingredients into the dry and whisk until just combined. Add the raisins and stir until incorporated. Set aside for 5 minutes whilst you melt some butter in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add ½ cup pancake batter at a time to the frying pan and cook for 4 minutes until bubbles appear on the top. Flip and cook for another minute on the other side. Remove and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter when necessary.
  5. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Pear crumble coffee cake

Pear crumble coffee cake
Consider this my autumn rain dance. Only the cake version. I’m sick of the weather’s nonsense lately; the morning starts off all cool and dewy, perfect autumn weather really. This doesn’t last though, and by midday its hot and humid. Urgh, no. I want cool weather. I want to wear a scarf and tights. And I don’t want to sweat again until November.

Pear crumble coffee cake

So I’m making this cake from Joy the Baker, which is studded with pears and full of spices. It’s intensely autumnal and will hopefully encourage the weather to get its act together.

Pear crumble coffee cake

And then we ate it for breakfast. Well by ate I mean scarfed it down. We managed to finish off half the darn thing in one go. It’s really really good cake guys.

Super simple chocolate chip biscuits

Chocolate chip cookies

This weekend was a bit of a bust for me. I had a lot of stuff to do and I achieved…almost none of it. I had a list as long as my arm to get through, and it was almost as long at the end of the weekend.

I did make chocolate chip biscuits though, so it can’t be a total loss right?

This is a simple recipe. You don’t even have to soften the butter. It’s a great recipe for chocolate chip biscuits. In fact, it’s almost too simple for my taste. I’m resisting the urge to suggest you add some cranberries, or maybe some coconut?

No, resist the urge. These are just super simple chocolate chip biscuits and to quote Colin Firth, “Perfect, just as they are”

Unlike a certain person who took these photos not realising her statistics textbook was in the background.

Chocolate chip cookies

Super simple chocolate chip cookies

(adapted from Joy the Baker)

Ingredients

225g unsalted butter
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips
Sea salt for sprinkling on top of cookies just before baking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C. Grease and line two baking trays or cookie sheets with baking paper. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  3.  In a separate bowl place the melted butter and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on a medium speed until well combined.  Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until pale and fluffy.
  4. In batches add the flour mixture, stirring well between additions. Stir through the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour to chill.
  5. Scoop out dough in tablespoon sized balls onto the prepared baking trays, leaving approximately 5 cm between biscuits to allow for spreading. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until just golden brown on top.
  6. Place on a wire rack to cool completely (but if you’re me you’ll wait until it is just acceptable to eat without burning your mouth before diving in with a glass of milk).

Wedding Wednesday: Picking the dress



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Picking the dress. It’s a huge deal. And this is a long story about how I felt about it.

What’s funny is at first I didn’t really think it was that big a deal. I would find something that looked nice, I did have two years after all.

At first I thought something like this would suit; I liked the flow, I loved the simplicity yet elegance.

The dress

Source

Then I was at breakfast with a friend who had just gotten married and we were chatting about the dress and I mentioned the sort of dress I was going for. She paused, and then politely said “Oh, I always pictured you in something rockabilly and tea length”

I replied that I had thought about it, but since it was my wedding dress I thought I should go floor length, since it felt like my one chance to do this.

It seemed feeble as I said it, and by the time I had driven home I was completely turned around. I was going to wear a tea length dress. I realised I had a chance to emulate two dresses I had loved in my life: Lorraine’s dress in Back to the Future and Grace Kelly in Rear Window.

The dress

Source/source

Swoon.

Around the same time I saw a dress on Modcloth; the Aisle Be There dress. It was super simple, and incredibly affordable. I loved it, and continued to return to it over the coming months but it felt too simple. This was my wedding dress after all; shouldn’t it be more? Shouldn’t it cost more? I put it to one side.

In February of this year I went wedding dress shopping with two of my oldest friends. I was looking forward to it, but I was also feeling a sense of dread. Suddenly I was feeling the pressure of The Dress. This was the most important dress of my life. How could I possibly make a decision? How could I make the right decision?

Gulp.

So I tried on dresses. Big beautiful incredible dresses. I waved down at the train behind me because it felt so far away.

I also watched a girl try on dresses near me; she seemed so comfortable in them and so beautiful. I however felt sweaty and uncomfortable and when I saw myself in the dresses, I didn’t feel magical or like this was “the one”. I felt like I was dressing up in my mum’s clothes.

Finally it occurred to me. I was waiting to feel like “A Bride”. Somewhere in my mind was an image that I had had for many years, of what I would look like as a bride, who I would be.

Obviously I am not that person, I am still me, as I am, right now. And I really want to buy my dress the way I bought all of my dresses. The pressure of the perfect dress was too much for me. I didn’t want to spend thousands on a dress I would only wear once, I didn’t want over the top or elaborate. I wanted to be me, marrying Mike.

I ordered the dress from Modcloth, and after an anxious wait it arrived. I put it on and knew it was perfect. It almost fits perfectly, and it makes all my good bits look good. It’s a winner.

Mushroom and caramelised onion scones

Mushroom and caramelised onion scones

This weekend was a bit of a food disaster. Or more a food blog disaster, since I tend to work out my blog posts based around what I make on the weekend.

I made cinnamon roll muffins which tasted amazing but looked burnt and fell apart when I took them out of the pan.

I made a mai tai, but it wasn’t quite right. It was too sweet and too red from the grenadine.

Mushroom and caramelised onion scones

That said, I made these mushroom and caramelised onions scones and they were perfect. Nothing burnt or fell apart, and they were perfect amount of salty, rich and crumbly.

And as you can see I ate 4 of them before they even got cool.Mushroom and caramelised onion scones

Mushroom and caramelized onion scones

(Adapted from Joy the Baker) 

Ingredients

500g Swiss brown mushroom

1 tablespoon olive oil

15 grams unsalted butter

1 small brown onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

15 grams unsalted butter

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 cups plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

175g unsalted butter, chopped

1 egg, beaten

¾ cup buttermilk, cold

1 egg beaten (for brushing)

Directions

1.    Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease and line two baking trays with baking paper. Set aside. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft and golden brown. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan.

2.    Add another tablespoon of olive oil and the second 15g of butter.  Add the onions and cook, stirring for 7-10 minutes until soft and golden.  Remove from the heat, add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge to cool.

3.    In a food processor add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter. Process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Add the wet mixture to the dry and using a knife to “cut” through the mixture to bring it together. Do not overwork the dough, it will be a little shaggy but tip it out onto a well-floured surface and use your hands to bring the dough together and flatten into a 3 cm thick rectangle. Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut the scones into circles. Place on the prepared baking tray Repeat, bringing the dough together to make more scones with the scraps. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm with butter or gravy.

March Gratitude List

March gratitudeWhat I’ve figured out this month:

  • This month I have realised a few things about my time. Time with Mike is precious, and I definitely have been using free time at home to do things which exclude Mike. We’re independent people who like doing their own thing, but I need to stop doing things that specifically exclude Mike, or block him out. To do this I need to reprioritise my time at home. No more hours of study at home (I put my headphones in and ignore everyone). No more going into the bedroom to work on things (separates us physically) and no more listening to podcasts/vlogs (again, headphones in, ignoring Mike). Going forward I am only doing things that I can do near Mike. Reading and working on my blog (it can be done on my laptop) are all in.
  • Realising that I need more time back in the afternoons. Mike’s schedule is non negotiable but I can work to make mine more so. Taking time in lieu and starting a conversation with my boss about working from home are all positive steps towards getting more time back (because we aren’t planning to move closer to work, and I’m not planning to leave my job anytime soon)
  • Autumn and winter are my jive. I don’t know what it is but when it starts getting cooler everything gets clearer, I can tick things off my to do list, the pressure feels off, time feels slower. I have learnt this year that I need to let go of big projects in summer. I need to schedule blog posts ahead (months if possible). I need to have nothing on my to do list. If not, I will flounder and be distracted and not enjoy leisure time and just generally not be pleasant.

March gratitude

Loving:

  • The launch of the A Beautiful Mess shop! I am so excited about this launch.
  • Feeling the passion for my subjects at university. Going back has been a big decision, but one I feel is totally right.
  • Cuddling with Mike in bed at night watching Adventure Time, drinking tea and chatting.
  • Starting a Gratitude Journal. I took inspiration from this post by Gala Darling and now write: 2 things that would make today great, how I want to feel today (happy, calm, focused), 3 amazing things that happen during the day, 3 things I’m grateful for and 2 things I could have done better. Already, I can see this making me happier.
  • Joining in with the 100 Happy Days project (thanks to Elsie from A Beautiful Mess). Share one photo, everyday, for 100 days, of something that makes you happy. This month is all about bringing the joy
  • Early morning coffee with Mike. He was meant to be at work at 6 but it got cancelled at the last minute. So we were up early with no where to be. I didn’t even have to ask, he just went straight to our favourite coffee place.
  • This idea from the latest Home Beautiful magazine. One of the featured home owners mentioned she liked that her house was smaller because she likes using every room everyday. This was an  epiphany for me, this is why our extra bedroom bothers me, this is why the idea of “formal” lounges or dining rooms bother me. I want a house where we use every room every day.
  • March gratitude

Reading

This month I remembered that reading is truly a joy to me. When we got back from holidays I had just finished reading the whole Song of Ice and Fire series, and with starting university/needing to save money I decided to stop reading books. Which is obviously crazy for someone who’s parents joke that I was late being born because I was finishing my chapter. Towards the middle of the month I picked up a book again and instantly felt happier. I then went and joined the library (because I still need to save money). This month I read:

The Happiness Project and Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin: I’m not a big “self help” book person, so I didn’t pay much attention to the Happiness Project at first. Then it started to pop up everywhere; magazines, blogs, friend’s recommendations. I had to check it out. I was so glad I did. In both The Happiness Project and Happier at Home Gretchen assigns one theme (Marriage, Children, Possessions) that she will focus on each month. From there she sets a few resolutions around the theme to keep for the month. The books are full of research, observations and information about happiness. I found it endlessly interesting and am so excited for her next book (about changing habits) to come out.

March gratitude

Watching

Veronica Mars. I was obsessed with this show when it first aired in 2004, and then, shamefully, my love for it was replaced by a love for the The OC. Sigh, teenage mistakes? Anyway I have been binge watching it in the last week since Mike was away. Veronica is so sassy and the writing is killer. Coming off the back of my Twin Peaks obsession I can definitely see the parallels between the two seasons.

March gratitude

Things I love around the web:

  • This moment when Professor Chao-Lin Kuo tells Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde that they have found evidence to prove his theory of inflation. I have honestly watched it 10 times, and I get a little teary every time. Such a beautiful moment.
  • This is a genius way to imitate wallpaper. Mike has no idea what he’s in for when we buy a house
  • Super simple banana bread
  • I really enjoyed this piece from Elsie of A Beautiful Mess about blogging as a young industry. It was both inspiring and realistic.
  • Broccoli, cheddar and rice casserole