Thursday, September 17, 2009

Teasure Hunting: Gem Iron

This is a gem iron we found in a second hand store in Greytown. As is often the case with treasure hunting, the good stuff is often to be found either hidden away or languishing beneath piles of randomness. It's unusual looking, given that they typically look like this.

Gem irons are a cast-iron baking tray, divided into a dozen ingot-sized units. They're used to make spicy mini loaves called Ginger Gems, an old morning tea staple. Being cast-iron, they would retain their heat for a long period of time. Once warmed up, the ginger gem batter would be poured into the irons and then placed in a hot oven. Gems took very little time to cook and were served straight from the pan with lashings of butter.

Does anyone out there possibly know who the manufacturer of our set is? The foundry? Brand name? Anyone who can come up with some nugget of info on our particular iron gets a custard square (at some time in the future)!

For recipes & further information on using gem irons, pop along to Bron's post on Ginger Gems, as well as Mary at La tavola.

I'll be making some too, at some stage in the future - stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Filthy Chocolate Caramel Slice

Hello! What are you contemplating having for morning tea today? You could trot off to your local bakery and settle for a piece of cake or slice, made, like pretty much everything else gazing at you from inside the cabinet, from premix. Or you could whip up your own slice of gooey, chocolatey, arterial-clogging goodness! Put your health insurance policy to one side (or use it to make one of these), and start gathering the following:
For the base, you'll need -
Half a cup of brown sugar
Two thirds of a cup of dessicated coconut
Two thirds of a cup of self-raising flour
85g butter, melted
Three quarters of a king-sized bar of caramello chocolate*

*People of Aotearoa! If you're using Cadburys, try and track down the bars you see being sold through schools and kindys - those are still made here in NZ using their old recipe and consequently taste a lot better than the Australian mix presently occupying space on our supermarket shelves (yes, I know they've reverted back to the old recipe, but the supermarkets are still trying to get rid of that stock). Alternately, you could just use Whittakers or another brand.

Caramel Filling -
60g butter
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk

Topping -

King-sized bar of milk chocolate
Chocolate shavings
Gold leaf, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, etc

Right - off to battle... Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Dig out a 20cm square cake pan and line it with baking paper. Grab your caramello and chop into rough chunks. Combine the brown sugar, coconut, and flour in a large bowl and whisk like the devil. Hurl in the cut-up chocolate. Add the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Firmly press the mixture into the pan using the back of a spoon.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

Set base aside to cool and start making your caramel. Keep the oven on!

When I first made this, there didn't seem to be enough caramel so I've doubled the amount; you could halve it, but it won't look anywhere near as impressive. Place butter and golden syrup in a pot over medium heat, stirring to melt and combine. Once done, add your condensed milk. Stir constantly over medium heat for about 9-12 minutes, until caramel thickens - don't stop stirring! If you do, it will catch and you'll end up with caramelised flecks. It's not the end of the world if it happens; just take it off the heat & pass it through a sieve to remove them. Pop back into a clean pot and carry on, stirring constantly (listen to me! tsk...)

Spread caramel over the base using a spatula. Pop back into the oven for a further 10 or so minutes, just until the edges of the caramel colour to a pale brown. Remove and let it cool.

Melt the milk chocolate in a small pot over very low heat, stirring frequently. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the cool little double boiler you found in a second hand store in Greytown (yay me!). Spread melted chocolate over caramel. If you have spare chocolate like I did, cut it up into rough chunks and scatter over the slice. And to seal the deal, sprinkle with chocolate shavings or flake. Then buy some running shoes, fatty.

Pop your slice into the fridge for about 15 minutes. Remove, take out of pan and cut into pieces. If you leave it any longer in the fridge, the chocolate could set quite hard, making it diabolically awkward to cut. Oh, and to make cutting easier, pop the kettle on and warm the blade in the boiling water - way easier.

And there you go! Morning tea? Sorted! Serve with lashings of tea and cupcakes to someone beautiful...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On reflection

Hello :-)

It's good to see you (well, all two of you, according to Statcounter...)

Right, where to start? I haven't posted in nearly nine months. It's been so long, I'm actually having trouble remembering how blogger works :-) I had a brief wander around the scene; lots of new food sites & bloggers, with a ton of enthusiasm and vigour on show. Where have I been? I'll fill you in over the next few weeks, but mostly I've just been busy with work, and therein lies the problem. In the process of working so hard and for so long, I've forgotten to actually live a little. Recently, someone very dear to me has gently reminded me of the simple delight to be had in stopping every once in a while to catch your breath. She's also served as inspiration in resurrecting Kai. It's something I thoroughly enjoyed working on, so why let it languish? Thank you, honey...

So, I'm dusting it off and giving it a once over. I'll have to check and update the links here, and maybe give the blog a facelift, but it's going to be a bit of a work in progress, so no dramatic, overnight changes. Just a little nip and a bit of a tuck here and there.

So with that in mind, I'm going to slowly ease myself back into posting by starting off with some linky goodness. Give me a few days and I'll have something more substantial lined up; stuff involving jam, hunting for old kitchen equipment with maybe a gem iron or two...

Thanks for stopping by :-)

  • How to open a bottle of champagne with a sabre! Clickety
  • Retro food recipes (principally British) Clickety
  • Want the best flavoured cookies? Vaccum-sealed cookie dough Clickety
  • How to make a one pot indoor herb garden Clickety
  • How to write (from Vonnegut, no less!) Clickety
  • Nigella Lawson topless jugs!! Clickety
  • The Breakfast of Beasts (UK)! Clickety
  • Country Life - a great show on Radio NZ National featuring stories from the rural sector. A good source of information & entertainment about NZ food in all its forms Clickety Podcast link here