Friday, 19 December 2014

Home-made Irish Cream

I think most people will succumb to a glass or two of Bailey's or similar liquid refreshment every once in a while.  All that mellow creaminess just slides on down the throat with nary a tickle, until you end up rolling off to your bed at some ungodly hour of the night (or is that just me?).  This version is incredibly easy to put together, and somewhat cheaper than the bought stuff even if you use good Irish whiskey which I do!  I have made this with a non-Irish whiskey before but it didn't have the same pizazz.  I just think you have to have the real stuff to get this right.  And I bet Santa would love a glug of this as he goes on his merry way after sliding down your chimney (ha ha!  in Queensland?), and gets back onto the reindeer sleigh to head off to the next household.

File:Santa and his reindeer.jpg
(stock image) 

There are heaps of recipes for this online, but I add a little secret something that my Mum taught me, and I think it adds a nice little twist.  So here's to you all.  Have a great Christmas, and drink up!


250mls Irish whiskey
250mls thickened cream
1 tin of condensed milk (395g I think they are these days)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 scant tsp coconut essence (the secret ingredient) or use 1 tsp coffee powder if you prefer
2 large tbs chocolate syrup


Put everything into a blender and whizz till combined.  Or do as I did, put it all into a jug and whizz away with a stick blender.  This time I only got a little bit all over me!!
Drink with ice.

pouring in the whiskey

adding essences

adding chocolate syrup

and now the condensed milk 

blend away- try not to get it all over yourself:)  

give up on the blender and whisk by hand :) 

pour into little bottles so you can give some away and keep the rest for yourself!  

I cannot believe the week I have had!  I have ruined 2 library books- one with coffee, and the other with champagne going all over it.   I have had my ancient blender erupt milk all over the kitchen floor as the rubber seal seems to have melted away.  I have spilt endless things all over me and the kitchen, and then of course this morning the stick blender decided to throw this drink at me!  I am becoming terrified to touch anything liquid at the moment!  Well, here's hoping you all fare better than I did in the liquid wars.
Have a great festive season!

File:White Reindeer.jpg
(stock image)                                  

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Violet Truffles

Last year I made these for the first time, after sourcing some Violet liqueur from a local (ish) distillery.  It is not easy to get unless you buy a French one costing the earth.  I mean this one wasn't cheap but a hell of a lot cheaper than France's best.  I still have rather a lot of this left so I thought it was time to make another batch of these flower-scented little beauties.  I may be a bit odd, but I adore chocolates and sweets that reek of roses or violets or even lavender. Though lavender can be a bit too much Granny's pocket handkerchief-like.  I still remember with a shiver how when we had to kiss our Granny's cheek, it was always covered in her scented powder which left a gritty taste on the lips. Aaaagh, not pleasant.  She was one of those tough old birds who never admitted to pain or discomfort, and wouldn't let you do so either.  I guess women of that generation (who had been through the Depression and the War which followed) had to be damn tough and stoic.  They had to make do; oh how could I ever forget the chopped-up phone books in the toilet?  At least the pink ones were pretty.:)  It is an absolute miracle that the toilets didn't back up in those days due to the incredibly hard and shiny paper thrust down them.  Perhaps they did?  I guess Granny wouldn't have told us anyway. Well, enough of toilet talk.  Here is the recipe for violet truffles- a much nicer topic.


200g. of white chocolate melts or chips
60mls of creme fraiche or in a pinch,  3 tbs of sour cream and one of thickened cream.  (I have 15 ml tbs)
45mls Violet liqueur
food colouring if desired- I used Queen's natural extracts; about 10 drops of purple and 8 drops of pink
icing sugar to roll the truffles
150g of dark or milk chocolate
bling! - if you wish you can drop bling on top of the chocolate- sprinkles, cachous, edible glitter etc.


Melt the chocolate in the microwave- mine took about 80 seconds on high
Stir in the creme fraiche, then the liqueur and colouring- mix well
Whack into the fridge for several hours till firm or if in a hurry like me, into the freezer for 2-3 hours
Take out of the fridge/freezer and roll into walnut-sized balls in a bowl of icing sugar so they are well coated
Put back into the fridge till very firm and cold
Then melt the dark/milk chocolate, cool it a little, and either dip the balls into the chocolate or do as I do when the weather today is well into the 30's- spoon on a lovely little chocolate cap onto each one
Add bling!
Place into the fridge
Wrap in cellophane and tie with a ribbon for gifts

adding sour cream/creme fraiche

adding the liqueur- looks murky I know!:) 

colouring stirred in

after a couple of hours in the freezer- a very soft mixture

icing sugar

cute little cases ready for the truffle mix

rolling in icing sugar (oops I left my phone on the table)

ready for their chocolate tops

mmm- chocolate!

bling added!

wild violets (image David Anstiss)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Home-Made Worcestershire Sauce- revisited

Well, today is the big day!  This morning I got up early (sleep was hard to find last night) and decided that this amazing stuff had to be bottled right this minute as the 2 weeks steeping time was up.  I opened up the jar and was met by the most wonderful, intense and a wee bit fishy aroma.  Just gorgeous!  So I grabbed the brand-new and freshly rinsed and dried Chux cleaning cloth to go about the filtering business.  I squeezed and I squeezed and I squeezed!  Till there was nothing left but dregs of the chillies and fish, and other goodies.  Then I poured it into little bottles, ready for use and for gifting to friends for Christmas.  I would heartily recommend this to anyone who likes a strong condiment.  This sauce is not for wimps!  Check out my previous post 2 weeks ago for the recipe.

ready for straining and bottling after 2 weeks steeping

use a new Chux to strain it

Santa being my little helper :) 

you need strong hands here

the final wringing out

lovely little bottles of sauce

all done!

This is a really tasty sauce, and not too fishy at all.  I used Ortiz anchovies which are not like those over-salted, bony little bombs you get in the tins.  I was amazed that you could make your own Worcester actually; it had never occurred to me that it was possible in the home kitchen.  I remember seeing a recipe for Coke a while ago, but it was for commercial quantities - i.e. take 300 kilos of sugar, etc. which I thought was hilarious.  I am going to hunt up other secret recipes and see what I can find and make:)

This is supposedly the secret ingredients for Lea & Perrins sauce found in a skip in 2009!  I don't think I will be attempting this version.  

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tim Tam Nutella Balls - or should that be truffles?

What is better than Tim Tams?  Tim Tams AND Nutella of course.   The other day my groceries turned up in my kitchen with a massive 750g jar of the stuff (I had only ordered a small one and this was a substitute).   I had planned to make some Tim Tam balls as gifts this week, so I thought why not add some Nutella to the mix?  And let me tell you readers, it is quite delicious in these balls.  Now I just have to think of some more recipes for the other 700 odd grams left in the jar. I have a feeling these toothsome little truffles (Mr Pickings said I have to call them truffles- he thinks balls is too undignified) are going to be popular, so I may have to make some more soon.  Ooh, I have a recipe for Nutella liqueur too...


100g hazelnuts
250g Tim Tams
250g cream cheese
2 tbs Nutella
150g dark chocolate, melted


Roast the hazelnuts in a 180C oven for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. 
Cool them, then blitz in a food processor till they become fine meal. Make sure you don't turn them into paste!
Put aside till you do the rolling. 
Throw the biscuits into the processor and blitz till you have fine crumbs
Add the cream cheese and Nutella and blitz till combined
Spoon it into a bowl and place in the freezer for 20 minutes
Take it out and form into balls of whatever size you desire 
Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes
Roll them in the hazelnut meal
Into the fridge they go 
Melt the chocolate and cool for 5-10 minutes so it is still melted but not too warm
Spoon the chocolate over the tops of the balls
Back in the fridge to chill
Wrap in cellophane for gifting

I actually roasted and blitzed 200g of nuts so I have some ready for my next batch!   I had bought one packet of biscuits not knowing they only come in 200 grams now so I had to rush off to the corner store to get more. But disaster, they had none. I bought some other sort of chocolate cream biscuits to make up the other 50 grams and it was fine.  I certainly picked a crazy day to make these, as it was 31C and super humid.  But it all worked out fine, and they are sitting happily in the fridge ready to be wrapped up and given to friends.  I saw a recipe the other day for a Tim Tam layer cake; someone had made the comment that it looked great but what was a Tim Tam?  I feel sad for those other countries that don't have Tim Tams on their shelves:)