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Cooking with Kids Pantry at MasterChef LIVE…

By gingerbread folk

Gingerbread Folk is delighted to announce we’re teaming up with Kids Pantry for the 3rd year running at MasterChef Live. Be one of the first to experience our new DAIRY & EGG FREE GINGERBREAD making a debut here at the show (product hasn’t hit the stores yet!)

The fun begins on Fri 5th October and continues over the weekend at the Hordern Pavilion and Royal Hall of Industries, Sydney

Check out Kids Pantry for more info on how to join one of these classes and meet some of your favourite chefs and MasterChef Contestants …As Kids Pantry says “Dont be afraid to come and ‘Get your mitts dirty’!

 

When is a biscuit not a biscuit?

By gingerbread folk

According to Wikipedia a biscuit is a baked, edible, and commonly flour-based product…but when is a biscuit not a biscuit?

You’re on your way to the US aboard an American airline and you’ve got your cup of tea on inflight service. Thinking of a sweet goodie to dunk, you request a ‘biscuit’ but to your dismay you’re told they don’t serve those…which would come as quite a surprise to someone from a culture where Arnotts Niece twin-packs are standard. (think Driver Reviver!) In fact, with your request for a biscuit, you would have been asking for more of a scone-like baked good to accompany a meal…which frankly is not airline fare. I’ll know next time to ask for a ‘cookie’ or a ‘cracker’ ‘.

Whether you consider gingerbread to be a biscuit or a cookie, the wonderful experience of its aroma, spices and warmth is highly desirable. With an imminent visit to the United States, I took a little look around on the net to see how Americans are enjoying gingerbread and discovered some interesting gourmet items including gingerbread spice chocolate bars, tea and a gingerbread flavoured syrup that can be added to drinks. We even found some products that transcend the edible…candles and a gingerbread liquid handsoap!

Well I’ll be sure to be cruising the snack aisles selecting carefully my 10kg quota of biscuits…err – cookies, allowed back into the country.

Cookie Architecture

By gingerbread folk


Here I am making gingerbread for a living. If you’d put a crystal ball in front of me back in the early 90’s, I probably would have thought I had gone insane…which wouldn’t have been far off the mark as any sleepless architecture student would attest to. Now I don’t sleep for a different reason, juggling a bustling cookie business and a young family. At the end of the day though, I’m still the same adrenalin junkie I was back then.

I applied to do architecture after the idea was suggested to me by my mum. (She’d watched me make a few houses for my teddies as a kid!) Launching straight from my regimented high school education at Sydney Girls, with nothing more than a pinch of maturity (I’m undecided whether my naivety was a help or a hindrance) and a whole heap of obsessive behaviours, I embarked upon this demanding vocational degree with waivering dedication fuelled by techno, caffeiene and an addiction to exercise-induced-endorphins.

Over the next 7 years, I experienced everything from empowerment to hopelessness. I was influenced yet unspoiled, inspired yet vulnerable. I rejoiced in finding an outlet for my stagnant creativity, and cried in the aloneness it brought. I felt both intense admiration and raging hatred toward my tutors and made beautiful friendships along the way. Halfway through my degree I jetted off to study abroad and landed myself with a double culture shock, studying alongside Americans in Denmark. I fell in love with the country, a part of which would stay with me forever.

Last year Gingerbread Folk was delighted to supply the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Queensland and ACT Chapters with gingerbread house kits for their members’ end of year Christmas events. This weekend, our kits are bound for Melbourne where they will be used at a camp for the Institute’s student member representatives from architecture schools around the country. Leading industry supplier Stylecraft have also run competitions where they have given Gingerbread Folk’s house kits as corporate gifts. We thought the 2010 winning entry by Bower Architecture was beautiful.

It was a rocky ride through my architectural degree and I am delighted if my business can encourage and support architecture students on their journey. I hope my experience will reinforce that this education can be a valuable stepping stone to anything in life. It’s about being true to yourself and believing in a vision. It isn’t really clear to me when I ‘departed’ the profession. It wasn’t cut and dry, however it is cool to know that my association with architecture has come full circle.

Fight-or-Flight and Stage Fright

By gingerbread folk

I have been asked a few times to appear on TV/radio and always experience an uneasiness creeping into my being in the week prior. I’ll be honest – It’s unpleasant. Once on camera though, the tension dissapates and I’m left with relative clarity to do the job…Fortunate but not coincidental that the adrenaline is advantageous to the performance.

Apparently, adrenaline is the reason some can down a couple of beers in quick succession right after performing and not feel tipsy for a while (the digestive system is basically shut down) Hmmm handy one to remember!

I had the privilege on Saturday afternoon of joining Natascha Moy on her Food in Focus show on Eastside FM together with Massimo Mele, head chef from Hugo’s Manly. I might add, his Tiramisu won both Natascha and myself over. I am the kind of person who deconstructs food (wherever possible) to understand the parts and the whole so this desert was right up my alley.

Gingerbread Folk join Kids Pantry at MasterChef LIVE

By gingerbread folk
Kids all over the country are tearing in from swingsets and tramps making a b-line for the box. With the clocks about to wind back an hour and Junior MasterChef underway, our (parents’) evenings just got a whole lot shorter! Part of me is pleased that my 8 year old has such an interest in food, but the patience draws thin as I find myself the waiter for the evening – and apparently – my toasted sandwiches are no match for the creations of some of these talented kids!

On the flip side, Gingerbread Folk is delighted to be providing our all natural, egg-free gingerbread and special royal icing for Kids Pantry at MasterChef LIVE’s Junior MasterChef workshops again this year. It’s on 7-9th of October so bring the kids in to learn some fun chef skills.

In other Gingerbread Folk news about town, this weekend I’ll be chatting to Natascha Moy from Food in Focus along with executive chef for Hugos Manly, Massimo Mele. streaming live at http://www.foodinfocus.com.au/radio/ this Saturday 1st oct 4-6pm on 89.7FM Tune in for some great giveaways!

Mall Shopper Not

By gingerbread folk
I don’t mind the odd dose of retail therapy but I’m not a shopper – I get bored. A glimpse up through the mock palms and opaque glass at my local mall has me wondering about the weather on the other side. The distorted view reveals that valuable daylight hours are being whittled away, so I grab a coffee and head on out. I’ll do my shopping later – when it’s dark – and I’ll do it online!

There are many reasons I’ve come to like online shopping…

Some are a bit antisocial – It doesn’t have to be done side by side the masses, I can wear my ugg boots and I don’t have to carry drink bottles and children’s snacks. A couple are just practical – it’s fast and efficient and can be done in the stillness of the night.

After months of cooking up our online shop, we’re very excited to announce it is now open for business. We can’t wait to start posting our products out to all the folk on remote outback stations…not to mention busy parents who do their best shopping – online when all falls silent in the wee hours!

You can now place your orders for freshly baked, all natural and delicious gingerbread directly from us to you. All our products are available online including gift boxes and tins, our house kits and new-for-2011 Christmas Tree Kits and we have a special offer running for our first week only, 10% off all purchases. Look forward to you visiting the Gingerbread Folk online shop http://www.gingerbreadfolk.com.au/shop/home.php

The Celebrity Chef in My Pantry

By gingerbread folk

Our 7 year old daughter’s hero is Maggie Beer and Masterchef is hot conversation. I remember wheeling the cat around in a pram at that age. How is it that kids these days are watching cooking shows?

Ian Palmenter’s Consuming Passions in the early nineties (I was a grown up) is my first meaningful foodie-show memory and his Hungarian Ghoulash, which after turning vegetarian, is still a great success in my kitchen. I recall the delight and fun he inspired.

Apparently, Jamie Oliver tops the table of celebrity chefs who influence the way we cook. Personally, I’m a wannabee domestic goddess so Nigella’s never far from my thoughts. Sticking to our theme of ‘gingerbread inclusive’ recipes, and given that it’s still cold and a bit Christmassy in July, this week, we’d like to share a somewhat festive recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Feast. (for vegetarians, this makes a really nice dish with marinated tempeh) Enjoy!


Gingerbread Stuffing

Preparation time: less than 30 mins Cooking time: 30 mins to 1 hour
Serves 8
Ingredients
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g/1lb 2oz onions, finely chopped
2 eating apples peeled, cored and finely chopped
750g/1lb 8oz streaky bacon (free range or omit
), finely chopped
2 clementines or 1 orange, zest only
450g/16oz loaf gingerbread (or 2 smaller ones to give you 450g)
2 free-range eggs, beaten
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preparation method
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large wide saucepan. Add the onion and apple to the pan and cook until both ingredients have softened and turned golden in colour (about 10-15 minutes).
2. Add the bacon to the softened onion and apple mixture and mix well. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Then add the clementine or orange zest and mix well.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and set a side to cool a little.
4. Roughly cut the gingerbread into clumps and crumbs and add the pieces to the stuffing and mix well.
5. Add the beaten eggs and pepper to the stuffing, and press the stuffing into a buttered baking dish. Bake the stuffing in a hot oven with your turkey for about the last 45 minutes.

Gingerbread-Inspired Winter Warmers

By gingerbread folk

With the Mercury dipping to temps close to freezing, cooking up comfort food is high on our agenda. Cookbooks and magazines entice us with their alluring images and mention of comfort food, but we wonder – why are we drawn to it during the bleaker months?

Apparently, consuming comfort foods, increases chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, that positively influence our moods – like the way certain drugs also induce a sense of pleasure (anyone for chocolate!?) Right now, even my toddler is loving a whirring oven. “Hot hot, cake?”

There may no longer be a biological need to fatten up during winter, however it’s certainly a great excuse to cook and eat, so this week we’ve decided to share a delicious and decadent recipe which includes our favourite spicy gingerbread flavours; Leche flan with gingerbread crumbs

As part of our ‘gingerbread-inpsired winter warmers’ week, there is also a chance to WIN gingerbread! We’d like to invite you to share an innovative recipe with us… but here’s the catch – gingerbread needs to be one of the ingredients! Our favourite recipe will receive 1kg of gingerbread to make their recipe! Competition opens Wednesday 20th of July 9am and closes Wednesday 27th of July midnight. Head to http://www.facebook.com/gingerbreadfolk to enter our comp!

Leche Flan with Gingerbread Crumbs
Serves 8 Prep time 15 mins, cook 1 hr 25 mins (+ resting, cooling, setting)

440 gm (2 cups) white sugar
4 eggs + 4 egg yolks (free range of course)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
50ml dry sherry
750ml milk

Gingerbread crumbs
130 gm plain flour
½ tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
60 gm butter, softened
45 gm caster sugar
1 egg yolk
90 gm (¼ cup) blackstrap molasses

For gingerbread crumbs, sift dry ingredients (except sugar) and ½ tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper together and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add egg yolk and beat until combined. Add molasses, beat to combine, then add sifted ingredients and stir until just combined. Form dough into a square, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 180C. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick and transfer to a lightly greased and baking paper-lined oven tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Cool, then break into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form.

Reduce oven to 120C. Place eight ¾ cup-capacity (1.5cm-deep) moulds in a roasting pan. Combine 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes or until golden caramel. Divide among moulds and cool until set.

Whisk together whole eggs and egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl, add sherry and milk and gently stir to prevent bubbles forming, then divide among prepared moulds. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of moulds, cover with 2 sheets of foil and bake for 1 hour or until just set. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold. Serve leche flans scattered with gingerbread crumbs.

Note Blackstrap molasses is available from the health food section of supermarkets and health food stores.

RECIPE LUKE BURGESS, PECORA RESTAURANT

Our Response to the Carbon Tax

By gingerbread folk

Social commentators often portray small business opinion on the carbon tax as negative, however just like the rest of the country, small businesses have a variety of views. Here is ours;

We can all contribute to reduce CO2 emissions through the decisions we make but there’s only so much each individual household or small business can do. Gingerbread Folk are prepared to wear a cost as part of the big picture for action on climate change because we believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to solve these problems …not just that of big business and government.


Initiatives we already include are a switch to renewable energy supply and a hybrid business car. Some companies pay for carbon offsets. We’re still small enough to do the tree planting ourselves…It’s a great family outing and teaches our kids about how they can contribute to solving big issues.

We’re glad there’s now a carbon policy on the table that we can plan our business around. We look forward to finding new ways of managing a sustainable business and reducing our own carbon footprint.

Facebook – Lots to Like

By gingerbread folk

We’ve just watched The Social Network on DVD (ok so a year or two behind here in the Mountains!)…now we’re ruminating on what it all means.

Is Facebook your social network? Apparently, 1 in every 13 people on Earth is on Facebook and would you believe that Australians, at 7 hours on average, spend more time per month on Facebook than any other nationality. To show how seriously we take it, Court notices and summons sent through Facebook are legal and binding in Australia. Facebook even has its own associated mental disorder – FAD – Facebook Addiction Disorder.

Lots of reasons to like it and plenty to lump it too! From connecting with old friends, keeping up to date with our favourite businesses, raising awareness for topical issues (think the power of the recent Live Export Animal Australia campaign!) to the dangers of cyber bullying, Facebook is really an electronic reflection of our society. For Gingerbread Folk, Facebook connects us with our customers who share their comments and photos. Our gingerbread house customers post their creations and our brides post their wedding shots.

This week we are running a competition on Facebook…Find our cheeky gingerbread man hidden somewhere on our website to WIN. You could be one of the first to experience the prize of our new Gingerbread Tree Kit.

Once you’ve located the gingerbread man, head to our Facebook page. You need to Like our page to enter. Email us at info@gingerbreadfolk.com with your name, address and answer. Remember – don’t reveal the location on our wall.

Correct answers will receive 1 entry into the competition. Share our page with your friends to receive an extra entry. Entries open Tuesday 5th of July at 9am and close Tuesday the 12th of July at 11:59pm. The winner will be announced via facebook at 9am Wednesday the 13th of July.

Here’s the little guy to look out for! Good luck and happy hunting!