Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Chocolate Pudding in ya Mug

I think I am grateful to a friend who kindly sent me a link to a quick chocolate cake in a mug recipe late one night when it was just the sort of thing I needed. If you haven't come across this before I warn you now, it's dangerous knowledge if you are inclined to "need" chocolate pudding on a regular basis. The main point being that it is cooked in the microwave and it all happens so fast that it's on the plate (in the mug) in front of you before you can question whether or not it really is a good idea.

It's a very simple recipe, and this blog is not about the simple (for me) stuff. Mixing flour, sugar, cocoa etc is not a new challenge. However I felt I could make some improvements to the recipe I was using, so had a bit of a play and think this result is pretty good. I took out the egg, added baking powder and a little more liquid, added some chopped chocolate and reduced the whole thing so that it really could cook in a normal size mug, and fit in a normal size stomach. Not bad for a novice recipe fiddler. Remember, this is basic chocolate pudding cooked in the microwave, so aim your expectations at a reasonable level, but you can be eating it within 5 minutes of thinking about it so it has its merits.

Chocolate Pudding in a Mug

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 tablespoons oil
Drop of vanilla (optional)
A few chunks of chopped chocolate (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet. Add the chocolate.
Cook on full power in the microwave for 1 and a half minutes (in an 1100 watt microwave) or a little longer if needed.

Don't even think about sifting the dry ingredients. Just be approximate with the half measures if you like. Grease the mug if you want to slide the pudding out nicely on to another dish, but neither the greasing nor the sliding out are very necessary. The chocolate is optional but the added moisture makes a big difference. Try a blob of jam dropped in to the middle just before cooking instead of or as well as the chocolate chunks. Serve with cream or yoghurt. Or icecream, or milk, or whatever you like.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sweet Chilli Sauce

I heard on the radio recently that now is the time to buy chillies, so decided now was the time to try making sweet chilli sauce. And this one really was easy-peasy - even more so than the mayonnaise. There is quite a range of recipes out there with more or less ingredients. I went for the most basic but the results were fantastic and I see no reason to mess with it. I love that four simple ingredients can create something better than you can buy, and that it's so easy.

But (I'm sorry there's a but). The challenge is with the chillies. Firstly, you need to find them. I rang Moore Wilsons to check that they had them in (they did), and I needed half of what they had on the shelves. It wouldn't have taken many sweet chilli sauce makers in town to have taken them all. And secondly, they're expensive. I made a small bottle of sauce and it cost me a whopping $7 in chillies. So, much as I would love to make this a regular in my house, it may have to be a rare treat. Give it a go so that you know what you're missing out on, and then we might all be inspired to grow our own chillies. Now there's a topic for another day. 

You'll need a stick blender, food processor or some kind of effective chopper for the chillies.

I used a recipe from taste.com.au but reduced it to one third to make a small bottle and save (quite) a few dollars. Below is the reduced version, it made me 1 cup.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

160g red chillies
1 garlic clove
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup caster sugar

Slice the chillies in half, and remove the seeds & discard from approximately 3/4 of them. Put all the chillies in to the blender, along with the garlic and approximately 1/4 of the vinegar. Process until finely chopped.

Put the chilli mixture in to a pan and add the rest of the vinegar and the sugar. Stir on a low heat for about 5 minutes (until sugar has dissolved), then bring to the boil. Turn down again to a low heat, and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You may like to replace some of the chillies with red capsicum/peppers. I love my sweet chilli on eggs, on cheese and crackers for a 5pm snack, and mixed in with plain yoghurt and chopped fresh mint as a dip.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


I had a go at making mayonnaise a while ago, with the hope I would one day post about it on my future food blog... Here's what happened:

I love the idea of making cheaper, healthier, tastier versions of food I regularly buy at the supermarket. It's just a question of learning how, and hoping it's not too complicated. And hoping it is cheaper, healthier and tastier!

I've only been a regular buyer of mayonnaise in recent times, as I've discovered it's an essential addition to a hot chicken sandwich - a recent favourite in our household. I quite like to slip it in to a lunchtime salad sandwich too. But a read of the label made me wonder what mayonnaise really is. Knowing that is it egg based, and finding "egg powder" well down a very long list of ingredients made me think I could do better. Egg powder just doesn't sound that tasty, and there are a lot of things on that long list that I bet are not in the homemade version.

So I had a go. I decided to hand whisk rather than just use a beater as it sounded somehow easier to control and appealed to my old fashioned-ness. It was fairly quick but certainly took some muscle. And there it was, a jar of mayonnaise in our fridge, simple as that.

But. Well. The thing is. Well, you see... I didn't really... like it. What a terrible beginning to my new venture. Here I was, being a healthy, wholesome, back-to-basics, home-cooking queen, and, um... I just wanted the stuff in the jar. And funnily enough, the problem was that it tasted too eggy.

I dodged the issue for quite a few days, and hoped my husband would eat it up in his sandwiches (he did). But eventually I decided that this wasn't right, so I had a look at some more recipes and decided I would try again. One recipe suggested white wine vinegar as an alternative to lemon juice and suggested adding WAY more than my original recipe. And that, I realised, had been the problem. As well as it tasting eggy, there wasn't enough tang.  More lemon juice or white wine vinegar would certainly add tang.

So I had a go again. I divided my mayo mixture in half after adding the first 4 ingredients, and added plenty of lemon juice to one and white wine vinegar to the other. The white wine vinegar really gave the tanginess I was after where the lemon juice couldn't quite keep up, and I even added a little more. The added vinegar also turned the mixture from a rather distressing bright yellow to a beautiful, creamy buttery colour, and more importantly, it hid the eggy taste. Phew! I liked it.


2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
250ml oil (mildly flavoured, eg canola or groundnut)
2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Whisk egg yolks, mustard and a little salt and pepper together

Slowly add the oil in a thin trickle to begin with, whisking all the time, and continue to add in a steady stream. Continue to whisk for a few seconds after all the oil is incorporated. 

Add the white wine vinegar (or lemon juice), tasting as you go and adding more as you wish.

The Consumer recently tested supermarket bought mayonnaise and they had some interesting comments. The first being, "For a quick salad or a last minute sandwich there's no time to whip up a batch of real mayonnaise. So is there an acceptable version straight out of a jar?" But the verdict was "none of the mayonnaises came anywhere near matching the real thing." So I have to say, whipping up a batch of the real thing is pretty quick and, given the verdict, why wouldn't you?