Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cook book crazy!

Okay, okay, I admit, my name is Rebecca and I am a cook book addict!  If my collection of fabulous cook books gets much bigger it is going to rival Nigella's!  I have shelves all over my home filled with cook books.  The one above is full of the 'new' books.  I have collected them since I was a kid - getting them for gifts, finding them in second hand stores, school fairs...you name it!  I read recipes like most people read books. 

And lets face it, when life gets a little bit tough its nice to have something so pleasurable to lose oneself in.  I am an 'active relaxer' so time spent in my kitchen is like therapy for me! 

Anyhoo, here is my latest acquisition:

Now I have to admit that I hunted this book down, as I had heard about this gorgeous delight called 'monkey bread' and I was desperate to make it.  I found the book on Amazon in the end and low and behold, the cover photo is actually a picture of the monkey bread.  I have since made it and it really is super yummy, but you really must make it for a crowd of people - least you be tempted to eat too much!

Monkey bread!
Monkey Bread Recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package instant yeast
3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

Brown Sugar Coating:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 American stick) butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1.  For the dough:  Make sure your oven rack is in the medium position in your oven and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.  When the oven reaches this temperature, turn it off.  Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray (or oil on a paper towel), butter a bundt pan (ring mold cake tin) with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set the bowl and pan aside.
2.  Mix the milk, water, melted butter, granulated sugar and yeast together in a bowl or large measuring cup.  Stir the flour and slat together in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook (otherwise use a normal large bowl and the dough attachments on a hand mixer etc.).  With the mixer on slow, add the milk mixture, slowly!  Once the dough has come together, increase the mixer speed until the dough is smooth and shiny (about 6 -7 minutes).  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball.  Place the dough in the bowl and spray with dough with cooking spray (lightly!), cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the warm, turned off oven until the dough has doubled in size - I just put a tea towel over mine and put it in front of the heater and it worked just as well! (about 1 hour). 
3. For the sugar coating:  While the dough is rising, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Place the melted butter a second bowl.  Set aside.
4. To form the bread:  Remove the dough from the bowl and pat into a rough 8 inch square.  Cut the dough into 64 pieces (give or take!).  Roll each piece into a ball, dip in the melted butter then the brown sugar mix, then layer the balls in the baking tin.  Stagger the seams where the dough balls meet as you build the layers.
5.  Cover the tin with plastic wrap and place in the oven until the balls have risen 1 to 2 inches above the pan (about 50 to 70 minutes).
6.  Remove the pan from the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap (very important, ha ha) and bake until the top of the bread is a deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around the edges - about 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a platter and let cool for about 10 minutes.
7.  For the glaze:  While the bread cools, whisk the powdered sugar and milk together in a bowl until smooth.  Using a whisk, drizzle the glaze over the warm monkey bread, letting it run over the top and down the sides.  Serve warm - nom nom!!

Now I know the recipe sounds quite complicated, but if you want to impress guests or loved ones at brunch on the weekend, then this recipe is divine!  We always have ours served with a bit of protein (scrambled eggs usually) and fresh fruit salad. 

Becks xxx

Sunday, 13 May 2012

C'est la vie!

A gift from a dear friend, which just happens to sum up perfectly the events of late!

Ah life!  Just when you think things are going okay, suddenly along comes a bump in the road!  We had a horrible health scare with my dear little son (age 8), but he is home from hospital now and doing much better, although I think hubby and I may have aged about 20 years during the whole event!

A get well card from one of my sons best friends - I had to put it on here as this little lass is well on her way to being a creative wonder like so many of the people in the great blogs I follow.  She made all the decorations herself!

So it was Mother's day here in New Zealand yesterday and we had an extremely low key one.  In fact we all stayed in our pyjama's all day (despite the odd visitor or two, he he!).  We cuddled on the sofa, watched old movies, ate some yummy baking that friends had bought round for us (I think there may be a plot to keep me cuddly!).

My new Mother's Day tea towels!

I just love these new tea towels, to the point where I really don't want to use them and ruin their prettiness!  Maybe I can just sneak them out for special occasions.

Does anyone else in blogland ever have trouble with pets that want to be in every photo?  My mad dog Max took great delight in messing up my pretty tea towel photo shoot!!!

Well I do hope all the Mothers out there have had a lovely special day.  Here's wishing you all a drama free, relaxing week.  Hubby and I have taken the day off work, little son is off school for awhile, while he recovers, so I am off now, back to cuddle on the sofa with the family :-)  Becks xxx

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Tea Time!

I have been such a grouchy cow all weekend!  Just very tired and very irritable.  My garden is looking rather bedraggled, but I didn't have the energy to go and tend to the poor dear, so I sat outside for a bit and simply had a cup of tea.  Oh the bliss of a crisp autumn day, sat outside in the sunshine with the cosy smell of woodsmoke scenting the air and the rustle of the wind in the trees.  It really did help.

While I sat in the garden, sipping tea, my mind wandered back a few years (okay lets be honest and say quite a few years!) to a glorious time when I was a young university student from America on an exchange programme to England.  My College was set in the magical little town of Arundel in West Sussex, which has the most gorgeous castle.  My girlfriends and I (and sometimes the lads we were dating) used to take great delight in popping into the one of the fabulous tea rooms in Arundel.  My friends and I are now scattered all over the world, but I bet their memories of tea in Arundel as just as wonderful as mine.  I think my favourite tea rooms was 'Belinda's below...bliss!

So finally out of my grouchy slump, I snipped a few herbs from the garden, grabbed a few tender leafs of spinach, rocket and silver beet and came inside to make scones.

I just used a plain old recipe for scones, but added bits and pieces of cheese I had left in the fridge...some creamy feta, tasty aged cheddar and a bit of provolone.  I diced up sage, rosemary, spinach, silver beet and rocket and added a large handful of this to the scones.  Mixed it all up, shaped it in to rough rounds and then plonked them in the oven.  Honestly, they were simply Divine!  We had them for dinner with hot cups of home-made tomato soup.  Happy tummies! 

I have a really busy week ahead of me, but I am hoping for a few illicit moments when I can sneak out into the garden to harvest something healthy and then whip it up into something gorgeous and yummy in the kitchen.  Here's wishing everyone a fab week!  Becks xxx