Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Eating Europe Part 4 - Poland

Ate soooo much in Poland - this is just from the first couple of days. 
Manbacon's mother presented us with this wonderful meal as soon as we arrived home in Stalowa Wola - freshly made breaded pork and warm, buttered new potatoes with dill, as well as the obligatory plate of pickles. The perfect meal for two tired travelers on a rainy afternoon.
I got hungry during a walk around the neighbourhood, so we headed in to Ekspres Bistro for a pick-me-up meal of pierogi, served with a garnish of crispy fried lard.
Delicious homebaked goodies (again, made by Manbacon's mum) - raspberry cake with a jelly layer on top, as well as Polish-style apple cake-pie.

Oh, and bread from a street stall in Krakow - it was so deliciously chewy I forgot to document it until very nearly the last bite. You'll see little old ladies selling these behind blue metal and glass carts all over Krakow. Did I mention I went to Krakow too? Well, I did.

More to come soon...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

All Smiles

What a lovely couple.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Field Of Flowers - Highwaisted Shorts

You may have caught a glimpse of these shorts a couple of weeks ago in my post about inserting a fly front zipper. Well, they're finally ready, and I think they turned out alright, if a bit crumpled. 
Inexpensive pillowcases and sheets from the op-shops are perfect for testing out new techniques, especially if it's one you think you may muck up. The fly front zipper adds a slightly more professional look to handmade shorts. 
The self-drafted pattern was inspired by a couple of other shorts and a pair of jeans I like wearing. I wanted something slightly highwaisted so others would be spared the sight of my bum when I bent over, and it had to be comfortable without being baggy. Darts were added to give some shaping, and I finished the waist with a facing for a sleeker look. 

I'm actually pretty pleased with the end result - it's got a bit of a bit of a 1950s rock'n'roll vibe to it. Who's ready to dance-fight me? They are immensely comfortable and I can spend all day in them, but they look structured enough that others don't think I'm wearing my PJs in public. In fact, I was so excited with how they turned out that I ended up making another pair, in the same fabric but with a waistband instead of facing, that I will put into the Etsy shop soon. 
Silk blouse - op-shop, shorts - selfmade, necklace - op-shop, tights - supermarket, shoes - Broadway Shopping Centre

Friday, 9 September 2011

Triple C - Chocolate and Coffee Cake with Chestnut Buttercream

This cake came about mainly because I really, really wanted to try making a Swiss meringue buttercream. And no, I couldn't just make the buttercream, because eating buttercream on its own would just be sinful, wouldn't it? Whereas eating buttercream and chocolate cake together is totally acceptable. Yup.
Chocolate and Coffee Cake (adapted from BBC Good Food: All-In-One Chocolate Cake)

175gm selfraising flour
3 tbsp 70% cocoa powder
175gm unsalted butter, softened
175gm golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp coffee flavouring (similar to this)

- Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and baseline two 5-inch sandwich tins. Remove 3 tbsp of flour from the full amount ( the cocoa powder will make up the difference).

- Put all cake ingredients (except milk) into a large bowl and beat until creamy. Add the milk if mixture is too stiff - it should fall easily from a spoon.

- Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins, and level the surfaces of the mixtures. Bake on the same shelf in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until sponge springs back when pressed. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn the sponges out onto a wire rack to cool completely (peel greaseproof paper off if attached to cake).

- Level the sponges if necessary, by slicing off the tops.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Chestnut Puree (adapted from Life Is Great)

340gm butter, cubed, room temperature
5 large egg whites
220gm granulated sugar
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup chestnut puree
pinch of salt

- Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a clean*, heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly over the heat, until mixture reaches about 70C and sugar has dissolved** (rub some mixture between fingers - if it feels grainy, then it hasn't dissolved).

- Take mixture off heat and beat with an electric whisk (or better yet, one of these bad boys if you're lucky enough to have one) on medium-high for about 8 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and mixture has cooled to room temperature.

- Lower speed to medium and start adding a couple of small cubes of butter, making sure it has incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter is added, add in vanilla extract and chestnut puree, and beat until just combined***.

- Sandwich buttercream in between both layers of sponge, and over the sides and top of cake (I'm sure you can make it much prettier than mine - my spatula skills are non-existent. I also found that fish knives make nifty little 'spatulas' for tight spaces.)
(N.B. - this gives enough buttercream for 2 cakes. Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen until needed. Just before using, defrost and bring to room temperature, and whip to a smooth consistency before using.)

* Clean your bowl and utensils with vodka beforehand to ensure there is no residual grease left. 

** I haven't got a sugar thermometer, so tested it with my fingers. Go ahead and dip your fingers in, and feel for a fairly hot and smooth texture. 

***You may find the mixture looks curdled after adding in butter - DO NOT PANIC! Keep beating it and it will smooth out fairly soon. 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Eating Europe Part 3

A mere one and a half days in Germany left us hardly any time for feasting, but that doesn't mean we didn't treat ourselves. After expending about 798372 calories climbing to the top of Cologne Cathedral (over 500 steps just to get up there!), the Manbacon and I agreed that a huge meal was entirely justified. So a huge meal was what we had. 
My dish - pork knuckle with fried potatoes and sauerkraut. It's like Germany on a plate. The pork was cooked to perfection, with the meat falling off the bone with only a tiny little bit of persuasion from the fork. I still dream about the crackling sometimes. In fact, I was so in love with it I was tempted to lie and tell the Manbacon it was horrible, so I wouldn't have to let him try any.

His dish - currywurst and chips. Pretty tasty as far as currywurst goes, although I think my pork knuckle definitely won this round. 

For breakfast the next day, some delicious quark-based pastries from a bus station bakery. I can't remember what they're called, which really annoys me because I want to be able to replicate these at home! 
And then, we got given a free box of Kakao Drink each, while waiting in the rain for our bus to the airport (Flughafen Frankfurt Hahn, where old planes go to die)! Thank you Germany!