Friday, September 30, 2016

Hairy Dieters' Chicken Tagine

I love a good tagine - spicy, aromatic and textural.  It is a fancy Middle eastern stew, and I am a fan.

I recently made The Hairy Dieter's Chicken Tagine.  This one had both olives and preserved lemon, which really up the flavour ratio with their sharp, distinctive flavours.  You can find the recipe online here.

I made this recipe even simpler by cooking it on high for 5 hours in my slow cooker.  This way, there was no pre-cooking - just throw everything into the slow cooker and switch it on.  Go out, do your thing, come home and dinner is served.  Brilliant!

If you like spicy stews, this recipe is definitely worth trying.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

EwE - Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Avocado Mango Salad - Soup and Salad

For Eating with Ellie this week, Kayte chose the theme of Soups and Salad.  I took the theme quite literally and made Ellie's Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Avocado Mango Salad, a recipe from So Easy.  

The soup was hearty and spicy. The hardest part about making it was blending it smooth, as it kept popping out of the top of my food processor between the lid and the barrel.

The salad added a lovely cooling side with a great flavour combination.

All in all, I enjoyed this dish, which is surprising giving my past indifference to both soup and salad. (Kayte, did you choose this theme to encourage me to  face my food nemeses??).

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Brazilian Banana Cake (Cuca) for Melbourne Cake Club - Olympic Cakes

The Olympics for 2016 are gone but not forgotten.  September's meeting of The Melbourne Cake Club never happened, but the theme was going to be Olympic Cakes.  I decided to make a Brazilian Cuca (Banana Cake) for the occasion, using a recipe given to me by a lovely Brazilian lady, Patricia.

Patricia's Cuca is different to most recipes for Cuca that you will find online in that it doesn't have a crumb topping.  The recipe for Cuca is thought to have come from the German immigrants to Brazil and been adopted as a national dish.

Because Patricia's Cuca does not have a crumb topping, I could decorate my cake in a non-traditional fashion by icing it with vanilla buttercream and placing a very appropriate gold medal on top.  The medal was made from a Mint Pattie, topped with a fondant "1", sprayed with edible gold paint, and "hung" from a fruit rollup lanyard.  I had fun making it. 

Patricia critiqued my cake and said that while it tasted good, it wasn't quite like hers.  For starters, she said that her cake is taller.  I have to admit that I struggled to get enough mixture to make the layers.  She also said that she would have baked it longer.  Oh well, given that I had no idea what I was doing, I am happy with the result. 

Patricia's recipe for Cuca is as follows:

10 tablespoons wholemeal flour
8 tablespoons brown sugar
100g butter
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6-7 bananas, sliced lengthways into thin slices
2 eggs
250ml milk

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and either prepare a regular 20cm round cake pan (or, as Patricia suggests, use a silicone pan).  Do not use a springform pan like I did, as the mixture bakes out.

Mix the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl with your hands to create the batter.

Spread one third of the batter over the base of the cake pan.  Top with a layer of bananas.  Repeat.  Mix the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl and pour over the top of the cake batter.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours or until cooked through.  According to Patricia, the cake should be fairly dry when properly baked.  (Mine was moist, but hey, I liked it that way!)

There you have it - a Brazilian cake from a Brazilian lady's recipe to celebrate the 2016 Brazilian Olympics.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

TWD - Apple Tarte Flambe

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Apple Tarte Flambe.  It is effectively an apple pizza. 

The crust is a yeasted bread dough, which is rolled very thinly before being par-baked.  It is then topped with a mixture of cream cheese, sour cream and yoghurt, and topped with thin apple slices.  The whole thing is then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar before being baked until crisp.

Did this taste fine?  Yes.  Do I see the point? Not really.  Sorry Alsations (the recipe is apparently from Alsace) - this is not a recipe that I will be repeating.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what their views on it were, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mum's Visit - Claremont Cafe, Hopetoun Tearooms, Fatto Bar & Cantina

Back in July, my mother came to stay with me for a week.  It was a bit of a disastrous week because my apartment was flooded and we spent the whole week with carpet blowers and dehumidifiers running, which was rather unpleasant.  However, to escape the noisy, damp and smelly atmosphere of my apartment, we went out as often as we could.  This post showcases some of the places where we had meals.

First on the list is breakfast at the Claremont Café, in Claremont Avenue, Malvern.  I have been here a few times before, and the food is good, with an ever changing menu.

At the top of the post is my brekky, corn and haloumi fritters with avocado, poached egg, coriander and tomato relish ($17).  It looks good, and it tasted good.

Mum has gastrointestinal issues so has to make plainer choices, but her poached eggs with bacon and toast looks pretty good too:

During a trip to the Melbourne CBD, we stopped at the Hopetoun Tearooms for afternoon tea.  The Hopetoun Tearooms can be a frustrating experience if you are not patient enough to wait in the ever present queue.  However, I managed to talk Mum into waiting for 20 minutes so that she could try these old worldy tea rooms for herself.

From the extravagant cake showcase at the front of Hopetoun, Mum chose the pecan pie (~$10):

while I chose the pear tart:

The cakes at Hopetoun are always tasty and beautifully presented, and the interior of the tearooms is from another time, so if you are prepared to wait, it is never a disappointment.

Finally, before a visit to an art show, we treated ourselves to the pre-theatre menu at Fatto Bar & Cantina at South Bank:

Their pre-theatre menu buys you two courses and a drink for $45.  From the set menu, I ordered the crab spaghetti:

For dessert, Mum chose the crème caramel:

while I went for the selection of three gelati (salted caramel, nutella and vanilla) with biscotti:

It was fast and efficient service, and the food was good - perfect for the pre-theatre crowd (or in our case, the pre-art show crowd ;)).

It is a shame that Mum's trip happened to coincide with a minor disaster in my life, but I enjoyed her visit, and we did some fun things.

Claremont Café
 5 Claremont Avenue
Malvern VIC 3144
Ph: (03) 9500 1504

Hopetoun Tearooms
The Block Arcade, 1-2/282 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9650 2777

Fatto Bar & Cantina
100 St Kilda Rd
Melbourne VIC 3004
Ph: (03) 8698 8800

Friday, September 23, 2016

Clean Eating Berry Cheesecake Bars

Recently, I was faced with some soon to expire cottage cheese in the fridge.  I needed a quick recipe to use it up, and a quick online search came up with this recipe for Clean Eating Berry Cheesecake Bars.  I had all of the ingredients in the house, so it was a simple choice. The only change I made is to sub the cranberry topping for mixed frozen berry topping, as cranberries are not readily found in Australia.

Don't they look delish?  The fabulous thing about them is that you can have your cheesecake and eat it too, because it is light and guilt free.

If you are a cheesecake fan but are watching your diet, these clean eating cheesecake bars are the perfect option.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

EwE - Dutch Baby Pancake with Peach Compote - Pancake Pandemonium

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is Pancake Pandemonium, chosen by me.  Ellie has a lot of pancake recipes in her books, so this one was an easy theme for me.

I chose to make the Dutch Baby Pancake with Peach Compote.  This is a baked pancake:

It puffs up in the oven, and when removed, is topped with an easy spiced peach compote.

This was a delicious breakfast for one when a quarter recipe is made.

To see what the others made for Pancake Pandemonium week, please visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Marmalade Cake with Orange Frosting

Recently, I had another birthday.  While I had grand plans for the cake I was going to make, these plans did not come to fruition, as I have been very busy with no time to do anything too fancy.

In the end, I decided to make a Marmalade Cake - inspired by the reference to "Marmalade Skies" in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles.

I wanted to make a different marmalade cake to any other that I had made before, so I hit Google for inspiration.  Importantly, the marmalade cake had to be frosted rather than glazed.  I came up with this recipe for Marmalade Cake, which interestingly was inspired by the Mitford novels.

Key changes that I made to the recipe were:  I included two tablespoons of marmalade in the cake batter; I also included two tablespoons of marmalade in the syrup.  I frosted my cake with an orange-flavoured buttercream rather than the sour cream frosting in the recipe, and I skipped the extra marmalade in the layers and on top of the cake.  I then decorated the top of the cake with orange M&Ms (but I slipped up in the yellowish night light and had a couple of pink ones in there).

I think the cake turned out pretty well:

It was quite sweet, but delicious all the same. I think a single layer would have been enough, as it was quite a lot of cake, even with a thin slice.

This was not the cake I had envisaged making, but it did the job.  I shared it with the people at my secondment workplace, and it must have tasted OK, because it disappeared.  That is a win in my books.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

EwE - Pasta with Sardines and Broccoli Rabe - Mama Mia! Let's Cook Italian!

Mama Mia! Let's Cook Italian!  That is the enthusiastic theme for Eating with Ellie this week, chosen by Margaret.

Ellie has lots of Italian-inspired recipes, including plenty of pasta recipes, and it is a Sicilian- style pasta recipe that I dialled up for this week.  The recipe is for Pasta with Sardines and Broccoli Rabe.  It comprises wholemeal pasta (Ellie used fusilli, I used penne), canned sardines, toasted pinenuts, raisins and crispy-fried greens.  Broccoli rabe is something that I have never seen here, but from a quick Google search, I understood that kale would be a good substitute, and that is what I used.  (Contrary to its name, broccoli rabe is not like broccoli - it is more like bitter greens.)

This pasta is super delicious - the only tweak that I would recommend for next time is using some chilli flakes to give it a bit of kick.

To see what our other Italian mamas made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

TWD - Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday with Dorie has a "back to school" emphasis this month, as US school children go back to school after summer break.  The first recipe for this month is Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These cookies contain nut meal (in my case, almond meal) as well as chocolate chips, which apparently is a very French thing to do.

I made a half batch of these cookies, using chocolate baking chips rather than chocolate chunks, and I ended up with around 24 decent sized cookies:

While these do not beat the Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies, they are pretty good.

It is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl today, so celebrate by sitting down with your favourite Roald Dahl book and have a terrific read.  Roald Dahl loved chocolate, so I am sure that he would approve of these chocolatey cookies.

To se what the others made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Spiced Almond and Fig Cake

Browsing through the online newspapers, I found a recipe for Spiced Almond and Fig Cake by Jordan Rondel, New Zealand's The Caker.   I love almonds and figs and spices, so this seemed like the perfect cake for me.

Here is a look at the undecorated cake - not a work of art but it smelled devine:

Interestingly, I didn't love the taste of this cake, but when I took it to work, I received a number of compliments.  Someone even said that I had outdone myself.  It just goes to show that taste is a very subjective thing.

Here is a shot of a slice of cake in profile view: 

I have now changed jobs, and the nature of my new role is such that there are likely to be less cakes here.  However, I will continue to bake when I can, including for Tuesdays with Dorie.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

EwE - Shrimp Fra Diavlo with Spinach - I'll Have The Shrimp!

For Eating with Ellie this week, Kayte chose the theme of I'll Have The Shrimp!  In Australia, "shrimp" are "prawns", and these delicious but smelly little fellas are immortalised in the idiom, "Don't come the raw prawn with me" (ie don't try to fool me). 

I chose Ellie's Shrimp Fra Diavlo (Shrimp "Brother Devil") with Spinach from So Easy, a recipe featuring pasta, shrimp and a spicy sauce, with wilted spinach added.  The pasta was supposed to be spaghetti, but I used macaroni instead because that is what I had in the pantry.

I really enjoyed this tasty dish - I made a half recipe, and ate half for dinner one night and half for lunch the next day.  This is definitely a repeat dish.

To see what everyone else had for Ellie's shrimp dishes, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sweet Miso Steak with Noodles

I am always on the look out for easy, quick and tasty dinner ideas.  One that caught my eye recently was a recipe for Sweet Miso Steak with Noodles that I found in The Courier Mail.

This is a light, slightly nutty tasting steak dish.  There is also an abundance of snow peas, mushrooms and spring onions.

It is quick to prepare and certainly is very tasty.  If you enjoy Asian flavours, this dish is definitely worth a try.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pecan Sour Cream Cake

I recently spied a recipe for a pecan sour cream bundt cake in a magazine of my mother's.  I could swear that I took a copy of it, but alas, I could not find the recipe.  I had already bought the pecans and the sour cream, so I found this recipe for Pecan Sour Cream Cake on Food to Love and made it instead:

It smelt wonderful when it came out of the oven - rich, buttery and spicy.  It is also an easy cake to eat, with the soft, buttery cake punctuated by a ribbon of spiced pecans.

Wayne had ESP and made a Mary Berry tray bake with pecans and orange zest on the same day.  I actually liked Wayne's better, but only because of the orange zest which gave his a flavour kick.  My cake was perfectly lovely, and I would give it a go again.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

EwE - Korean Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry - Asian Inspirations

I chose this week's Eating with Ellie theme, which is Asian Inspirations.  I had been eyeing off the Korean Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry in Weeknight Wonders for some time, but couldn't find kimchi anywhere.  However, enlightenment eventually came to my supermarket, which is finally stocking kimchi.

This is a terrific and easy stir fry - beef, broccoli, kimchi, onion and chicken broth all contribute to make a flavourful, healthy dish that is perfect for a mid-week meal in a hurry.  I served mine with brown rice to mop up the delicious sauce.

To see what the other Ellie cooks made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.