My friend T gave me this cupcake recipe book for my birthday. Until Saturday I'd never made cupcakes before, being more of a muffin gal. To celebrate T, R and B getting back (alive) from their trip to Africa, I held an impromptu lunch chez Gwynneth and made cupcakes specially for the occasion.
Everyone brought something: B brought borek, still warm from the Queen Victoria Market. Walking to the Market during my lunch hour to buy a borek is a King / Bourke Quest favourite of mine... :)
The savoury dish I made was my trusty old standby, Soba Noodle Salad. I normally make this as a mere side salad for barbeques, but decided on a whim to jazz it up with slivers of orange and yellow capsicum for colour and crunch.
The recipe is very easy - boil up and drain soba noodles, then in your wok fry up a bit of ginger, garlic and chilli (and in this case, thinly sliced capsicum). Throw in the noodles and toss with a goodly dose of kecap manis so that the noodles are lightly coated all over. Mix in heaps of fresh roughly chopped coriander and serve!
M noticed that I was about to throw away the coriander stalks, and suggested we whip up a coriander pesto. Alas my kitchen is without a mortar and pestle at the moment, so we improvised with my Vietnamese communist propaganda mug instead. We added a bit of oil and chilli, a few coriander leaves and some cashew nuts I had kicking around the pantry. Without the proper equipment M wasn't able to get the consistency right, but it still tasted yummy spread over the noodles... :)
L made up batches of chicken sandwiches, so to continue her polo-party-at-the-country-club theme I made up a jug of a Pimms-based cocktail - the cocktail that has become THE default cocktail chez Gwynneth - the Year of the Rat.
I've pinched the recipe from the Cafe Vue February Cocktail Night. The first time I made it, I replicated the ingredients (vodka, Pimms, ginger ale, drops of Tabasco, coriander leaf and slice of cucumber), but on Saturday I got so carried away with the soba noodles and the coriander pesto that I forgot to salvage a few coriander leaves for the cocktails. I rummaged around in my fledgling herb garden and settled for Vietnamese mint as a substitute, which was a delicious compromise.
For dessert, we had sinful brownies made at 4:30am by M (don't ask!), a sensationally moist ginger and cinnamon cake made by T, and Cloud Cupcakes made by yours truly. The recipe is as follows:
CLOUD CUPCAKES (makes 12)
Strawberry swirl buttercake
90g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup SR flour
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons strawberry jam (I used my Nonna's homemade raspberry jam instead)
1 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in small bowl with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture has changed to a paler colour.
Divide mixture among cupcake cases in tray; smooth surfaces. Divide jam over tops of cakes; using a skewer swirl jam into cakes.
Bake in moderate oven for 30 mins (here's where I screwed up - got distracted chatting so left them in a bit too long; consequently they were a tad dry. Serves me right for not using a timer!), cool on wire rack. Make fluffy frosting and spread onto cakes.
For fluffy frosting, combine sugar and water in small saucepan; stir over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring about 5 mins.
Syrup should be thick but not coloured. Remove from heat, allow bubbles to subside.
Beat egg whites in small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. While mixer is operating, add hot syrup in thin stream; beat on high speed for about 10 mins or until mixture is thick and cool. We added some food colouring to make the icing a pretty lavender colour...