Famous last words. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find anything with which to decorate Halloween cupcakes in Adelaide?
After spending hours trying Coles, House, Wheel & Barrow, Foodland, a $2 shop, a party supply shop, A Trip to the Moon in Norwood and Kmart, I eventually found monster cake decorations in Woolworths. Thank goodness.
I decided that chocolate cupcakes with orange buttercream was a suitably Halloween-y combination and started baking.
I do hope the kids like them tonight. I hope you like them too.
(For another Halloween recipe, try my Skeleton Gingerbread Men.)
- 125g butter, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup cocoa
- 1½ cups self-raising flour
- ½ cup milk
- 125g butter, softened
- 1½ cups icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- A few drops red and yellow food colouring to make orange
- Preheat oven to moderate/180 degreesC/160degreesC fan-forced.
- Cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs one at a time.
- Mix in sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk.
- Put spoonfuls of mixture into cupcake wrappers.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in one of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cool before icing.
- Makes about 18 cupcakes.
- Beat butter with an electric mixer until it is as white as possible.
- Add remaining ingredients and continue to beat at high speed until light and fluffy.
- Spread or pipe buttercream onto cool cakes, then decorate as desired.
When my husband and I arrived at Faraja for a surprise birthday lunch, I thought it must be an African restaurant. After all, ‘faraja’ is Swahili for ‘peace, comfort and relief’.
But a glance at the menu revealed an idiosyncratic mix of popular hits from various cuisines, from Italian arancini to Vietnamese fried garfish and Moroccan braised lamb shoulder.
Diners can choose between a range of modestly priced ‘pots and plates’ (similar to tapas or antipasti) ($5.00-$9.00) or more substantial dishes ‘to share’ ($12.00-$22.00). Especially good value is the $12.50 lunch menu which includes a burger, pasta dish, fish and chips, steak sandwich, and a salad.
New to Faraja and keen to experience the full breadth of the menu, we opted for the “Chef’s Choice’ ($40.00 a head), which promised a range of the restaurant’s best offerings.
The first dish to arrive was large wedges of smoky, charred pumpkin served with soft, tangy goat’s cheese and sweet, roasted walnuts. While the flavours married beautifully, this dish was hardly seasonal in October, speaking more of autumn than spring. Charred notes were also evident in the bbq chilli squid tossed through a fresh and lively salad of green papaya, bean shoots and greens.
Next, “nam jim spicy chicken, fresh herbs and roasted peanuts’ partnered nut-topped chicken thigh pieces in a modestly spicy sauce on a bed of green papaya, cucumber and bean shoots and herbs including kaffir lime leaves, Vietnamese mint, coriander and Italian parsley.
The fourth stop in our world tour was the Mediterranean with perfectly cooked, nicely fatty lamb cutlets accompanied by a salad of roasted red capsicum, eggplant and zucchini, and served with chickpeas, couscous, salad greens and purple-tinged preserved lemon salsa.
Finally, sticky beef ribs with pickled ginger salad took us back to Asia, this time to Japan. The combination of meltingly tender beef ribs cooked slowly for 15 hours in a sticky, unctuous sauce with pickled ginger was my husband’s pick of the day.
Desserts include a tasting plate for two — Baileys and espresso semifredo, chocolate cointreau pot, salted caramel tart, warm chocolate hazelnut cake, apple and berry crumble; an affogato; a fig and ginger pudding; a cheese platter and a Spanish fried custard (leche frita).
Faraja’s positives are many: a central location, attractive decor and competent, well-presented food that offers good value for money. With its range of generously portioned and well-priced crowd pleasers from around the world, most diners will find something to like at Faraja.
Tuesday- Friday 10.00am-late
Today we made jam drops. They are a great kids’ cooking project because they are very tactile. Even very small kids will enjoy rolling the mixture into little balls, poking a hole with a finger and spooning in just a little bit of jam — just make sure their hands are clean first!
Jam drops also have few ingredients which makes them a manageable project for kids (and adults).
This recipe is adapted from one found in Cooking: A Commonsense Guide, Murdoch Books, 1999. My version replaces the custard powder in the original recipe with cornflour as I don’t like the yellow food colouring in custard powder.
Any jam can be used in jam drops but I prefer a red jam such as raspberry, cherry, strawberry, plum or rhubarb.
- 80g (1/3 cup) butter
- ⅓ cup caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- ⅓ cup cornflour
- 2 tablespoons red jam (e.g. raspberry, cherry, plum, strawberry or rhubarb)
- Preheat oven to moderate 180C/160C fan-forced.
- Line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the self-raising flour and cornflour and mix to form a soft dough.
- Roll 2 teaspoons at a time into balls and put on the trays.
- Press the centre of each ball with your finger and fill the hole with jam.
- Bake for 15 minutes then cool on trays.
If you grow your own herbs then you’ll love this very old aromatic bath oil recipe, said to have been first published in the 17th century.
I discovered the recipe back in 2006 in a copy of now-defunct Notebook magazine and dug it out yesterday after I wrote my kitchen garden herbs article — it’s such a great way to use home-grown herbs.
The recipe itself is very simple. You add half a cup each of lavender flowers, wormwood, peppermint, thyme, bay leaves and lemon balm to boiling water, simmer for 10 minutes and then allow the mixture to steep. Strain the liquid through a double layer of cloth, add a dash of brandy and then bottle.
But the real beauty of this recipe is as a starting point for more creative combinations of scented herbs and flowers. Imagine a version made with rose geranium leaves and deeply scented dark red rose petals. Or one made with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and orange or lemon peel. The sky’s the limit, really (just be sure you’re not allergic to any of the plants you use).
I’ve been under the weather today with a touch of gastro and I’m looking forward to hopping into a hot bath with a slurp of aromatic bath oil.