Daring Bakers: Life of Pie

The end of June is approaching, meaning it’s time to share another Daring Bakers’ challenge!

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens. Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie.

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Pies are something that I love but get really easily intimidated out of in the kitchen. It’s more to do with the crust than anything. When I first started baking I attempted a number of pies, and they were largely hit and miss. Mostly miss, for when I tried unmoulding them from the tin they would either stick or snap or crumble or all of the above. So I ran away from pies. This challenge was a good way for me to test the waters again and see how I’d go now that I have many more kitchen hours under my belt.

There were four pies on offer. I went from saying I’d do one to taking on three of them!

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Cook Book Challenge: Week 40

The next couple weeks of the cook book challenge are following on from the supermarket freebie theme. This one is another Leggo’s book, but unlike the pizza book I didn’t even catch this in the supermarket. This one was gifted to me from my partners mum. It’s called Fast Italian, and is the third volume in their Italian cook book series. The first book is called Cook Italian, and was featured in my 8th cook book challenge. The second volume, Love Italian, seems to have slipped my mind and will surely feature soon.

Fast Italian is, as the name suggests, all about the quick meals. It delivers 60 recipes that all promise to take less than half an hour to dish up. A time frame that suits my mid-week meal apathy.

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I’ve made a few meals out of this book so far, and all of them have been received well. For the challenge, I’m sharing with you their ‘Pork with Tomato Salsa and Polenta Dumplings’. I hadn’t cooked with polenta before, though my assumption was that it shouldn’t be difficult. As promised, this recipe delivered a quick, easy, but flavorful dish I’ll definitely be making again.

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Cook Book Challenge: Week 39

I love shopping freebies. If there’s one way to get me to buy a product, it’s to include a free cook book with it. Especially if it’s a product I often buy anyway. Leggo’s and Philadelphia do this a lot. And that suits me just fine, because it gives me an excuse to stock up on their products more than I already do.

But this week did one better. It offered a free cook book, and a free pizza tray in exchange for buying three Leggo’s products. I’ve been meaning to get a proper pizza tray for so long, and to be able to snag one for $6 worth of tomato paste, one of my most used ingredients at meal time, was about as good as it was gonna get. Get in muh trolley.

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Pizzas aren’t an especially difficult thing to cook. Especially if you’re anything like me and are happy to eat most anything shoved on a pizza. What is it about pizza bases that makes everything taste 3000 times better? I don’t really bother with recipes. I’ll make up the base and just throw on an assortment of ingredients I have on hand and voila! Dinner’s served.

Even still, the recipe book “Love Pizza” presents a bunch of delicious flavour combinations I hadn’t thought of before, and can’t wait to try. But for this week’s Cook Book Challenge, I chose one of the most unconventional pizzas of the bunch.

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Panna Cotta

On a fairly regular basis I’ll ask my partner for ideas of things to make for him. I tend to ask hoping for some super complex brilliant idea of a dessert he’s wanted for ages but has been some unattainable challenge of epic proportions. But usually, he just wants custard. So I tend to ignore that and make something else anyway. I guess what I’m really asking is, “What do you want that I want you to want?”

Ever since we started going out and I started cooking for him and asking him for ideas he’s asked me for panna cotta. I usually put it off due to its perceived ease. 6 years later, I thought it was about time I finally obliged.

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 One morning before we headed off to the football I decided to whip up a quick batch of it. I kept it a surprise and wouldn’t tell him what I was making when he asked me. I was almost finished. I strained the mixture into a jug, left it to rest on the sink and turned away to find a safe place to rest the still hot pot it had cooked in. That’s when I heard it. The thud of the unattended jug falling into my sink. I turned in time to see almost the entirety of the mixture swirl down the drain.

Maybe it was trying to tell me something.

There was enough left for a small serving, so I dejectedly poured it into a mould and gave it to him for dessert. He reported that it was the best panna cotta he’d ever tasted. I don’t know if that made it better or worse.

Take two happened a couple of weeks ago. Delicious, but it didn’t end up perfect and pretty like I wanted. So this weekend I embarked on take three. That’s what I get for sneering at this simple dessert. And I suppose the triple batch of panna cotta in the last month is exactly what Cam deserved for waiting so long.

But don’t be fooled by my dose of karma. This is an incredibly simple dessert, and the result is ever so rewarding.

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Super Mario Bros. Cake

Some of you might remember the Zelda cakes I made for Game Art HQs Link's Blacklist Tribute. Well, a little while ago another artist tribute caught my attention. It's called "Virtual Worlds We Loved" and, as the name suggests, is completely focussed on the worlds, levels or places depicted in games. I love tributes that move away from the protagonists and otherwise famous characters and allow scope for the under-appreciated, unseen, or unusual.

The tribute features 30 different artists and allowed for no repeats of games. I almost claimed about Zelda game, but instead decided to depict the first game I ever played: Super Mario Brothers. Ah, the good old days of playing the NES as a kid. We owned 3 games and I repeatedly played each of them. I fell in love with the 8-bit world so I couldn't resist the chance to bring it to life with cake.

Our cake is in another castle…

Chicken and Choc Dog-friendly Cookies

Rounding off the birthday box of treats I sent to my friend, these cookies were a little something to be shared. While I was sending her some noms I thought I'd send a few for her little furbabies, Rusty and Bella.

These cookies have to dairy, salt and cocoa removed to make them safe for puppy tummies. A treat you won't love, but your canid certainly will.

Let’s pounce on it…