semolina yoghurt bundt cakes

30 Jan 2012

I found this recipe for semolina yoghurt bundt cakes in last year's Delicious magazine diary.  The recipe doesn't contain any eggs so I was really intrigued.

Lots of my colleagues have been on leave so I had to wait until there were enough people to do justice to the cakes. I halved the recipe but it still made 4 mini bundt cakes.

The end result is more pudding-like than cake but the combination of yoghurt and ginger was very yummy. I wasn't quite sure if my test audience would approve though.

I don't normally decorate my cakes with flowers but the little daisies were so so sunny, I couldn't help myself. I had some candied lemon peel left over from my Christmas baking, so that went on the tops of the cakes as well.

I took 3 of the cakes into work and one is still in the deep freeze which in theory is for the cook, but I'll probably take it into work this week for morning tea. I was surprised to find my colleagues really loved them, despite or maybe because of their pudding consistency.

Did you have good weekends? I took Friday off and went to the country to see Farmer Andrew. He whipped up one of his famous pavlovas and I made use of his farm fresh eggs to make a cake, which will be up on the blog in the next week or so. It was a very busy weekend and I have another very busy week ahead of me at work.

I'll see you all again on Wednesday,



25 Jan 2012

Tomorrow is Australia Day so I wanted to make something traditionally Australia. Last year I made a lamington cake but this time I went with the original lamington, a chocolate coated and coconut covered cake. I found them in every cake shop when I was in Croatia last year and apparently, they're popular in Hungary as well. Lamingtons seem to have taken over the world.

A lamington drive was a popular fund raiser at our school. We always ordered a few dozen lamingtons which we'd then place in the deep freeze. Mum thought they'd be safe there until we discovered that frozen lamingtons taste pretty good!

I last made lamingtons when I was in high school and I remembered it being a messy task which ended with all my fingers coated in chocolate icing and coconut. I haven't had a home made lamington in years.

A day before you need the lamingtons, you make the base using either a butter cake or a sponge cake recipe which is then baked in a special lamington tin. I didn't have one so I went out and bought one specially. Once the cake cools you store it in the fridge. Cooling the cake makes trimming the edges and cutting the cake into squares a whole lot easier. Here's a recipe close to the one I used except I added 50 grams of melted dark chocolate to the chocolate icing mixture.

The process was as messy as I'd remembered. It took close to an hour to coat the 24 lamingtons so next time I'd leave half the cake in the fridge until it was needed. 

Using a fork to dip the cakes into the icing is what's recommended but the cake tends to crumble. I found dipping the cake by hand was more effective but that meant I had to wash my hands 24 times.

I stirred the chocolate icing in between each coating and added boiling water to thin out the icing when needed. 

The coconut needs to be renewed regularly as it gets stained brown pretty quickly. I only used enough coconut to coat 4 lamingtons and then would replace the coconut. Desiccated coconut is suggested in most recipes but shredded coconut looks prettier. 

I had one for my breakfast on Sunday and it tasted even better than I remembered. I don't normally eat cake for breakfast but I'd just been to the gym and by the time I'd finished photographing the lamingtons it seemed rude not to try one....

Happy Australia Day,


pronto - sausages with lentils

23 Jan 2012

I was helped in my quest to find some new food favourites, when a cookbook arrived in my letterbox last week. It was the Slow Food Cookbook from Gourmet Traveller, a magazine I've been receiving for more than 10 years courtesy of my good friend Nat. I flipped through the pages on my way to work last week (I catch the train to work for those of you wondering) and spotted this recipe for sausages with green lentils.

When I was growing up sausages were kind of special. We used to order them from Melbourne and Dad would return from the airport with a box wrapped in brown paper tucked under his arm. I've loved sausages ever since then. 

I thought I had some French style lentils lurking somewhere in the back of my cupboards but bought another packet just in case. I knew there were some black peppercorn and beef sausages in the freezer and I already had the other ingredients in my pantry, so I made this for my Sunday night supper. The recipe states you don't have to soak the lentils but they took hours to cook so next time I'll be soaking them before cooking.

The lentils were lovely and would be great as a vegetarian meal if you swapped the veal stock for a vegetable stock and skipped the bacon, as I did. I'll certainly be adding this dish to my winter repertoire.

See you all again on Wednesday,


pronto - ricotta and cherry tomato tart

18 Jan 2012

Last summer I was talking to my friend Jenny and we were discussing how difficult it is to find things to make for dinner when it's summer. It's too hot to make our usual stand-by casseroles and roasts but salads just don't fill me up and stir-fries do pall after a while.

I was looking through the Donna Hay 2008 seasonal diary and came across a recipe for ricotta and cherry tomato tarts. I adapted it slightly to produce what you see here.

As the recipe is so simple, it relies on the best and freshest ingredients you can buy. I used Careme all butter puff pastry and my favourite low fat ricotta cheese from Paesanella.

The recipe is below but I think of it more of a suggestion than a recipe. I'm sure you could use other vegetables like par cooked asparagus or thinly sliced zucchini with a different flavoured pesto or olive tapenade.

Ricotta and Cherry Tomato Tarts
375 gram packet all butter puff pastry
300 gm low fat ricotta
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt and pepper
2-4 tablespoons tomato pesto
12 cherry truss tomatoes
Olive oil spray

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Line a tray with baking paper.

Combine the ricotta, parmesan cheese and the finely chopped oregano in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the puff pastry in half along the wide side. Score a border 1 cm in from the edge taking care not to cut all the way through the pastry. Repeat with the second pastry half. Prick the pastry bases all over with a fork and spread half the tomato pesto over each base.

Gently cover the pesto with the half the ricotta mixture, keeping within the scored edges. Repeat with the second base. Spray the cherry truss tomatoes with olive oil spray and season. Top each of the tarts with 6 truss cherry tomatoes.

Place the tarts onto the prepared baking tray then bake in the preheated oven for ~ 45 minutes or until the tarts are puffed and golden brown.

Serves 4 for lunch or 2 hungry people for dinner.

See you all again next week,


fruit and nut loaf

16 Jan 2012

Do you have any blog crushes? My food crushes for 2011 were David Lebovitz and Ottolenghi, so don't be surprised if a few more of their recipes start appearing on the blog. This fruit and nut loaf recipe comes via David's blog. When Christmas was over I realised I had a whole stack of dried fruit and nuts left in the cupboard and wanted to use them before the nuts went stale. I normally store my nuts in the freezer to keep them fresh but I'd run out of space. I have a tiny freezer.

When I looked through the recipe, I had everything I needed including the dried apricots. When I opened the packet, I discovered I'd inadvertently bought turkish apricots instead of the local product. I never ever buy turkish apricots as they don't have any discernable flavour but when I'm not wearing my glasses I come home from the shops with all kind of surprises. Some good and some, not so good.

So back to the shops I went in search of the real deal. Before I made the cake, I piled all the fruit and nuts into a small loaf tin and it fitted fine so I decided to make a fruit and nut loaf rather than fruit bars or squares.

There's barely any cake mixture, just enough to glue the fruit together, so I mixed the whole thing with my hands before packing it tightly into the tin. The loaf took about an hour to bake and I couldn't wait to try a slice.

The apricots make the cake, so I'm so glad I made the return journey to the shops. As there's been so much over indulging recently and I've got some Christmas cake to eat, I've packed the cake and placed it back in the freezer to be consumed at a later date.

See you all again on Wednesday,


sweet and spicy souvenirs - orzo with lamb meatballs

11 Jan 2012

I was looking through my cupboards and realised I still have a few goodies I bought last year that have yet to appear on the blog.

I decided to make my new favourite recipe, orzo with lamb meatballs, which is based on a recipe from Gourmet Traveller magazine. I paired the meatballs with my new Cote Bastide linen tea towel, which I purchased from Sissy Boy in Amsterdam.

The tea-towel is very large so sometimes I only show the white linen part of the cloth in my photos.

The original recipe used pork, which I don't eat, so I used lamb mince instead. I also added an egg to the mixture which makes for nice light meatballs. The cumin and touch of chilli make these meat balls very yummy.

I hope you like them,


blueberry crumble muffins

9 Jan 2012

I bought Ottolenghi: The Cookbook for my friend Mandy for Christmas. My own copy lay unwrapped because I'd just been so busy in the lead-up to Christmas. Mandy told me these blueberry muffins were the best ever, so I thought I'd better try the recipe for myself.

Blueberry Crumble Muffins from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook -makes about 18 regular sized muffins.
540 g plain flour 
5 tsp baking powder 
2 large eggs 
340 g caster sugar 
140 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 
380 ml milk 
grated zest of 1 lemon 
1 Granny Smith apple (unpeeled), cut into 1cm dice 
200 g fresh blueberries plus extra for topping

150 g plain flour 
50 g caster sugar 
100 g cold butter, cut into small cubes 

To make the crumble

Put the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with your hands to work into a uniform breadcrumb consistency. Make sure there are no large lumps of butter left. Transfer to a plastic container and store in the fridge. It also keeps very well in the freezer. 

To make the muffins
Preheat the oven to 170°C /325°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases. 

Sift together the flour, baking powder and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, sugar and melted butter. Whisk in the milk and lemon zest, then gently fold in the fruitAdd the sifted dry ingredients to the blueberry mixture and fold together very gently. Make sure you stir the mix just enough to combine; it should remain lumpy and rough. 

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases to fill them up. Generously cover with the crumble topping to form small domes over the batter then dot with a few extra blueberries. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Take out of the tins while still warm.

I already had some leftover crumble mix in the freezer, so I used my own oaty version rather than making a fresh batch.

I made half the recipe and it still made 12 muffins, so they must use huge muffin tins at Ottolenghi's. I did have one of the muffins for my breakfast following the first cycle class for 2012 and yes, it was very good.

I hope you enjoyed the weekend. See you all again on Wednesday.


meet the boss

4 Jan 2012

The family cat has not been well lately and I was expecting to find her all pale and wan when I was home at Christmas. Nothing could be further from the truth. She's as feisty as ever and she runs a tight ship.

Miss. M doesn't like having her photo taken and somehow manages to duck whenever she sees a camera coming. All I wanted was a photograph of her bell not her face. It didn't matter how often I explained that to Miss. M, she wasn't having a bar of it. In the end Dad had to wrangle her into position so I could get the shot. Then she shot me 'the look'.

She was clearly unimpressed and yes her eyes really are that shade of blue,

and her tail really is so luxuriant.

After 10 days at home whipping up more gingerbread men and 2 batches of mince pies, it's time to return to more normal programming so I shall be returning to the kitchen this weekend. No idea at all what I'll be making, so you'll have to come back next week to find out!

See you all next week,


xmas 2012 - bespoke press

2 Jan 2012

I spent Christmas with my family in Brisbane. On Christmas Day, I found this gift waiting for me. Look what I found inside.

A whole box of goodies from Bespoke Press, a gift from a thoughtful friend. Wasn't that sweet?

I hope you all had a good break from work and are looking forward to the New Year. Tomorrow is my first day back at work for 2012 and I'm wondering what the New Year will bring?

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