Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Celebrity Chef in My Pantry

Our 7 year old daughter’s hero is Maggie Beer and Masterchef is hot conversation. I remember wheeling the cat around in a pram at that age. How is it that kids these days are watching cooking shows?

Ian Palmenter’s Consuming Passions in the early nineties (I was a grown up) is my first meaningful foodie-show memory and his Hungarian Ghoulash, which after turning vegetarian, is still a great success in my kitchen. I recall the delight and fun he inspired.

Apparently, Jamie Oliver tops the table of celebrity chefs who influence the way we cook. Personally, I’m a wannabee domestic goddess so Nigella’s never far from my thoughts. Sticking to our theme of ‘gingerbread inclusive’ recipes, and given that it’s still cold and a bit Christmassy in July, this week, we'd like to share a somewhat festive recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Feast. (for vegetarians, this makes a really nice dish with marinated tempeh) Enjoy!

Gingerbread Stuffing

Preparation time: less than 30 mins Cooking time: 30 mins to 1 hour
Serves 8
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g/1lb 2oz onions, finely chopped
2 eating apples peeled, cored and finely chopped
750g/1lb 8oz streaky bacon (free range or omit
), finely chopped
2 clementines or 1 orange, zest only
450g/16oz loaf gingerbread (or 2 smaller ones to give you 450g)
2 free-range eggs, beaten
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preparation method
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large wide saucepan. Add the onion and apple to the pan and cook until both ingredients have softened and turned golden in colour (about 10-15 minutes).
2. Add the bacon to the softened onion and apple mixture and mix well. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Then add the clementine or orange zest and mix well.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and set a side to cool a little.
4. Roughly cut the gingerbread into clumps and crumbs and add the pieces to the stuffing and mix well.
5. Add the beaten eggs and pepper to the stuffing, and press the stuffing into a buttered baking dish. Bake the stuffing in a hot oven with your turkey for about the last 45 minutes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gingerbread-Inspired Winter Warmers

With the Mercury dipping to temps close to freezing, cooking up comfort food is high on our agenda. Cookbooks and magazines entice us with their alluring images and mention of comfort food, but we wonder - why are we drawn to it during the bleaker months?

Apparently, consuming comfort foods, increases chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, that positively influence our moods - like the way certain drugs also induce a sense of pleasure (anyone for chocolate!?) Right now, even my toddler is loving a whirring oven. "Hot hot, cake?"

There may no longer be a biological need to fatten up during winter, however it’s certainly a great excuse to cook and eat, so this week we’ve decided to share a delicious and decadent recipe which includes our favourite spicy gingerbread flavours; Leche flan with gingerbread crumbs

As part of our 'gingerbread-inpsired winter warmers' week, there is also a chance to WIN gingerbread! We'd like to invite you to share an innovative recipe with us… but here's the catch - gingerbread needs to be one of the ingredients! Our favourite recipe will receive 1kg of gingerbread to make their recipe! Competition opens Wednesday 20th of July 9am and closes Wednesday 27th of July midnight. Head to http://www.facebook.com/gingerbreadfolk to enter our comp!

Leche Flan with Gingerbread Crumbs
Serves 8 Prep time 15 mins, cook 1 hr 25 mins (+ resting, cooling, setting)

440 gm (2 cups) white sugar
4 eggs + 4 egg yolks (free range of course)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
50ml dry sherry
750ml milk

Gingerbread crumbs
130 gm plain flour
½ tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
60 gm butter, softened
45 gm caster sugar
1 egg yolk
90 gm (¼ cup) blackstrap molasses

For gingerbread crumbs, sift dry ingredients (except sugar) and ½ tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper together and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add egg yolk and beat until combined. Add molasses, beat to combine, then add sifted ingredients and stir until just combined. Form dough into a square, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 180C. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick and transfer to a lightly greased and baking paper-lined oven tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Cool, then break into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form.

Reduce oven to 120C. Place eight ¾ cup-capacity (1.5cm-deep) moulds in a roasting pan. Combine 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes or until golden caramel. Divide among moulds and cool until set.

Whisk together whole eggs and egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl, add sherry and milk and gently stir to prevent bubbles forming, then divide among prepared moulds. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of moulds, cover with 2 sheets of foil and bake for 1 hour or until just set. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold. Serve leche flans scattered with gingerbread crumbs.

Note Blackstrap molasses is available from the health food section of supermarkets and health food stores.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our Response to the Carbon Tax

Social commentators often portray small business opinion on the carbon tax as negative, however just like the rest of the country, small businesses have a variety of views. Here is ours;

We can all contribute to reduce CO2 emissions through the decisions we make but there’s only so much each individual household or small business can do. Gingerbread Folk are prepared to wear a cost as part of the big picture for action on climate change because we believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to solve these problems …not just that of big business and government.

Initiatives we already include are a switch to renewable energy supply and a hybrid business car. Some companies pay for carbon offsets. We’re still small enough to do the tree planting ourselves…It’s a great family outing and teaches our kids about how they can contribute to solving big issues.

We’re glad there’s now a carbon policy on the table that we can plan our business around. We look forward to finding new ways of managing a sustainable business and reducing our own carbon footprint.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Facebook - Lots to Like

We’ve just watched The Social Network on DVD (ok so a year or two behind here in the Mountains!)…now we’re ruminating on what it all means.

Is Facebook your social network? Apparently, 1 in every 13 people on Earth is on Facebook and would you believe that Australians, at 7 hours on average, spend more time per month on Facebook than any other nationality. To show how seriously we take it, Court notices and summons sent through Facebook are legal and binding in Australia. Facebook even has its own associated mental disorder – FAD - Facebook Addiction Disorder.

Lots of reasons to like it and plenty to lump it too! From connecting with old friends, keeping up to date with our favourite businesses, raising awareness for topical issues (think the power of the recent Live Export Animal Australia campaign!) to the dangers of cyber bullying, Facebook is really an electronic reflection of our society. For Gingerbread Folk, Facebook connects us with our customers who share their comments and photos. Our gingerbread house customers post their creations and our brides post their wedding shots.

This week we are running a competition on Facebook…Find our cheeky gingerbread man hidden somewhere on our website to WIN. You could be one of the first to experience the prize of our new Gingerbread Tree Kit.

Once you’ve located the gingerbread man, head to our Facebook page. You need to Like our page to enter. Email us at info@gingerbreadfolk.com with your name, address and answer. Remember - don't reveal the location on our wall.

Correct answers will receive 1 entry into the competition. Share our page with your friends to receive an extra entry. Entries open Tuesday 5th of July at 9am and close Tuesday the 12th of July at 11:59pm. The winner will be announced via facebook at 9am Wednesday the 13th of July.

Here’s the little guy to look out for! Good luck and happy hunting!