Thursday, August 23, 2012


I sort of missed the cupcake trend when it exploded a few years ago. I don't know why, but they didn't really interest me all that much. I was more into cookies. Also inexplicably, I have quite recently begun to love the idea of cupcakes. Andy's friends recently had a birthday BBQ, and something made me really want to make birthday cupcakes for them. But I didn't want to make just any cupcake.  This is what I came up with.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing and Salted Caramel

1 1/2 c. plain flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. bicarb soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vinegar
1 c. water

Heat the oven to 180 and line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarb soda and salt in a large bowl. In a jug or a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and water. Pour these into the flour mixture and mix gently until combined. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 c. icing sugar
3-5 T. soy milk

In an electric mixer, or with a good fork and lots of energy, whisk up the peanut butter until it's a little bit fluffy. Add the icing sugar a bit at a time until the mixture is crumbly. Add soy milk, a tiny bit at a time, until the consistency of the icing is good. This depends on how you want to put it on - for spreading, thicker is better, but for piping you need it to be a bit looser. Mine was too thick, and the cheap piping bag I bought just couldn't contain it - it exploded at the seams, requiring me to lick lots of icing off my hands which was delicious but also made me feel a bit sick. Make sure the cupcakes are fully cool before putting the icing on top.

Salted Caramel
2 T. vegan butter or coconut oil
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. golden syrup
1 1/2 T. coconut cream (or soy milk)
1/2 tsp. salt, to taste

In the smallest saucepan or skillet you have, mix the butter, sugar, syrup and cream. Put onto medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until everything is melted. Stir occasionally as it comes up to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring pretty often, for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 tsp. of salt, then taste (being careful not to burn your mouth) and see if you want it saltier. Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool to not-quite-molten temperature, stirring every so often. Then drizzle spoonfuls over the icing. The cuppers look best on the day you do the drizzling - the caramel soaked into the icing on the ones that sat overnight.

Sweet, yes, but also fancy and sophisticated and quite delicious. The best part about these cupcakes was that the gift box only fitted 6, so we got to keep the spares :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From the Garden

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I've posted last - I am full time now at work, which is good, but also means I am very, very busy. One of the competing demands for my time is the garden, which is going gangbusters.

We've been eating a bit of produce from our own back yard, which I will admit makes me feel very smug. But it's also really delicious! Here is what we've been growing and eating.

One of the quickest crops to grow is radishes, which we love roasted in the oven.

Another easy - and pretty - quick crop is nasturtiums, which have a peppery flavour and make a good salad. This one also features some cherry tomatoes from our garden.

Another one we've had success with is zucchini. We have had so many zukes!

We like them stuffed with garlic bread filling.
Garlic bread zucchini and eggplant pie.
 Or sauteed with kale (from our garden, too), capsicum, and pesto (made with basil from our garden) over pasta.

Grated zucchini makes a good addition to veggie sausage rolls.

But who can go past zucchini in sweets? I think when life gives you zucchini, you make zucchini bread. This is from the recipe in Urban Vegan

This plate is full of home grown - zucchini fritters and sauteed kale with nasturtium flowers. There is also a cauliflower casserole, but we didn't grow caulis in our garden.

Apparently kale is so not a warm climate veggie, but this Tuscan Black Kale seems to be going okay in our winter garden.

But Andy's favourite thing in the garden is easily the tomatoes. This is a Black Russian, a heirloom variety, which was beautiful and ripe and delicious, though it doesn't go very red in colour.

We sliced it onto avocado toast and it was delicious, and we can't wait for the rest to ripen up.

Soon we'll have pumpkins and capsicums and cucumbers and spring onions and maybe beetroots, but for now we'll keep eating zucchini a few days a week!