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I may have sworn at the cauliflower…

… last time I was at the supermarket.

I was shock to see the vegetables are so expensive, $3.90 for a head of broccoli and half a head of cauliflower at $4.50! Even The Pom was gobsmacked at the hefty price tags and grunted, “That’s ridiculous! I’m going to grow my own cauliflower from now on.” Well, I know he wont really do it, but if the cost of living is really getting higher each day then perhaps it is time for everyone to really think about growing their own vegetables to maintain a sustainable living.

I’ve been spending fair bit of time in the kitchen off late and slowly converting into a locavore, or a nanna. I’ve been busy making my own sourdoughs, cheeses and cupcakes, and the vege patch will also need a new life in Spring, there’s no stopping me now.

But is not all fun and game for me, playing masak-masak (Malay means cooking) in the kitchen all the time. Things are a little hectic on my end lately with the launch of the cookbook. Lots of things to be organised including pre-launch book signing and dinner events in both Sydney and Melbourne. I will announce the dates soon, so hopefully I will see you there!

Oh by the way, have you pre-ordered ‘Have You Eaten?’ and entered into the competition to win a Trip for 2 to Malaysia? Just to clarify, the competition is for PRE-ORDER ONLY and closes on 31st August 2012. So if you are planning to get a copy, then may as well pre-order now because you never know your luck, you might be sipping cocktail somewhere in Malaysia before you know it!

Apart from the cookbook, there are also other exciting projects happening in the next few months and also 2013 – cooking classes, regional photography masterclasses  (particularly excited about this one!), fundraising events and also pop up dinner events.

 

As promised, this is my favourite cupcake among the three I’ve baked recently. Imagine it is like a Banoffee Pie, but with Salted Caramel! This salted caramel recipe is actually in my cookbook, and I love the fact that you can actually use this salted caramel in many other dessert recipes. That’s what cooking is all about, develop a component that can be adapted in different recipes, that’s smart cooking and sustainable.

I still have the salted caramel leftover in the fridge which I can reheat and drizzle over vanilla ice cream, or as a macaron filling, or simply eat by the spoonful really.

Banana cupcakes with salted caramel icing
(makes 12 cupcakes or 24  minis)

Salted Caramel
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup thickened cream
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
50g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Banana cupcakes
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
A pinch of bi-carb baking soda
A pinch of salt
115g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 2 ripen bananas)

Salted caramel icing
250g cream cheese, room temperature
50g butter, softened
2 cups (confectioners’) icing sugar
4 tablespoons salted caramel

 

1. Best to make the salted caramel the day before. Put sugar and water into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Then turn the heat up to high and stop stirring let it boil for about 5 minutes or until the sugar starts to caramelise and turn into toffee. Keep an eye on it, as the sugar changes colour rather quickly. Once it reaches the dark golden colour, pour cream into the hot sugar; be very careful as it will splatter. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon and bring the caramel back to the boil, add the salt and cool for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk the butter in to caramel one cute at a time. Pour it into a heatproof jug and set aside to cool. Transfer to fridge and let it set overnight.

2. Sift flours, salt and baking soda into a mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a food mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy. Turn the speed to low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the mashed banana and mix well.

4. While the mixer still running, add 1/3 of the flour and mix well, then repeat until all flour is in.

5. Turn oven on to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases. Use an ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture into a case and repeat until all cases are filled. Transfer to oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted and comes out clean. Remove the tray from oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes then turn out on a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

6. To make the icing, beat cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer on high speed until softened. Add butter and continue beating until well combined. Add icing sugar, one tablespoon at a time until all used. Add salted caramel and beat until well mixed.

7. Scrape the icing into a piping bag with 1 cm hole round tip. Pipe icing on top of cupcakes. Garnish with banana chips and extra salted caramel.