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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Earth hour, green layered cake with buttercream blossoms

We recently had a morning -tea at work  to celebrate Earth Hour… the team that I work with love to bake so it was fun to make something sweet and colorful for this event.

The layered green cake was devoured very quickly and it seemed to travel well on public transport which was a relief!

EARTH HOUR, UNITING PEOPLE TO PROTECT THE PLANET

On Saturday 23 March 2013 at 8.30pm, the global community of millions switch off their lights to show of concern for the environment for the 7th consecutive year.

Earth Hour has now become much more than a symbolic action. It’s evolved into a continuous movement driving real actions, big and small, that are changing the world we live in.

Check out the main Earth Hour website
Find the Earth Hour website for your country

Green cake, for earth hour

various shades of green, trio of cakes awaiting the hot oven.

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the pretty pearl centered blooms trailing across the buttercream frosted cake were  easy to do, yet gave a wow factor to the simple cake

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it tasted just as good as it looked….. all demolished in only 10mins, by the hungry work colleagues!




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Easter hot-cross buns

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Easter is such a wonderful time to spend with family… the weather is  generally cooler and having 4 days away from work and being with my gorgeous nephews and niece is a rare treat, and a far cry from the usual chaos of my ‘normal’ week!

I came across this lovely photo the other day, of my nephew enjoying the delicious fruit encrusted hot cross buns that we made together on Good Friday last year.

The process of kneading and mixing was very therapeutic and I think that besides the waiting for the dough to rise [patience is a virtue, especially in the very young!] we both thoroughly enjoyed creating these fragrant rolls for the family as much as they did devouring them!

I hope that you can find the time to make these over the long weekend and that your family and friends are appreciative of your handiwork……

Hot cross buns

1 tbs dried yeast

1 tsp caster sugar

185ml (3/4 cup) warm milk

125ml (1/2 cup) cold milk

50g butter, melted

1 egg, lightly whisked

525g (3 1/2 cups) plain flour

200g mixed dried fruit

70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

2 tsp mixed spice

A pinch of salt

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

160ml (2/3 cup) water

2 tbs caster sugar

Make the dough:

Whisk yeast, sugar and the 3/4 cup of warm milk in a jug. Set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy.

Whisk in the 1/2 cup of cold milk, butter and egg. Combine flour, dried fruit, sugar, mixed spice and salt in a bowl.

Make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to prove for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Shape the buns:

Punch down the centre of the dough with your fist.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes.

Shape into 12 even portions.

Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter to grease.

Place portions side by side on the prepared pan. [don’t place them all together like I did in the below pic, as there is no room to expand and you’ll have far smaller buns]

Cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Easter

Bake and decorate:

Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine flour and water to make a paste.

Place in a sealable plastic bag. Cut 1 corner from the bag to make a 2mm hole.

Pipe crosses onto the buns. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Make the glaze:

Meanwhile, sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Simmer until the glaze thickens. Transfer buns to a wire rack. Brush tops with glaze. Set aside to cool slightly.

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Cannelloni with spinach and ricotta

One of my favorite pasta dishes, easy to do and always tastes sublime.

cannelloni

I tend to make spinach and ricotta filling and use it for  lasagne with roasted pumpkin, or filled ravioli with browned sage butter ….and occasionally cannelloni with a tomato passatta.

Basically I just combined a large amount of fresh ricotta with wilted English spinach leaves, crushed garlic and Parmesan cheese and then I’m ready to fill whatever pasta sheets that I have handy…. in this case I had some store bought fresh lasagna sheets that I just rolled up with the creamy filling.

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I then liberally added a tomato concasse to the filled pan of cannelloni and scattered a handful of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top, before popping into a hot oven to cook away until golden and bubbling.

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Served with a simple leafy salad, this was an easy and delicious meal shared with friends.

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Indonesian thousand layer spice cake

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In the past I have made this cake as a treat, for my ex-partner and his father …as they are of Dutch origin they grew up with this cake, and as a child he enjoyed savouring this multi layered spice cake by peeling off a layer at a time and savouring each thin spiced section of the cake.

It’s a lovely cake and keeps very well, it’s best to only serve a very small slice as it is quite rich.

It’s well worth all the effort of cooking each layer under the grill, even though it may seem tedious at the time …..Patience is a virtue after all!
1000 layered cake

Thousand-Layer Spice Cake

Spekkoek Lapis Legit

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground mace

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground star anise

3oog unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 large eggs, separated

1 1/4 cups flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat the grill. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or spring-form pan. Line with parchment paper and butter the paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mace, cardamom, ginger and anise. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.

In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until stiff.

Fold into egg yolk mixture, being careful not to overmix. Add combined spices  and stir well.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the spiced batter into the prepared pan, spreading to form a thin layer. Place the pan under the preheated broiler for 2 minutes, or until the layer is firm and very lightly browned. Repeat layering spiced batter in the pan and cooking until all the batter is used. Note that the cake typically has between 12-15 layers)

Let the cake cool on a wire rack then turn out from the pan. Place on a cake plate and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Thinly slice and serve warm or at room temperature.


Snowy Mountains rainbow trout

Snowy Mts rainbow trout

A simple dinner with fabulous ingredients, from the Marrickville markets. The star of the dish was the very fresh Snowy Mountains Trout and the inspiration for my meal.

All the fish needed was a simple sauté of leeks and fennel with thyme cooked over a low heat until soft and amalgamated, then a dash of cream to add richness, such a perfect match to the moist fish!

Whilst the vegetables were cooking away on the stove top I popped the lovely fresh trout  into a pouch of greaseproof paper with some dill and lemon slices and a knob of butter, I also put some soba noodles into a pot of boiling water.

Only minutes later all the elements are ready and I plate up a delicious dinner of rainbow trout with creamed leek and fennel served with soba noodles.

rainbow trout

I’ll definitely be heading back to visit their stall at the Marrickville Markets and hopefully some day I’d like visit the farm and see their production inperson.

Here’s the link to the provider of the fabulous trout

http://www.freshtrout.com.au

 

Read the rest of this entry

Sri Lankan fish curry

My first attempt at cooking a Sri Lankan curry, and my no means my last….. so simple and flavorsome, why have I not experimented with this cuisine before now!?

The star of this dish was the awesome freshly caught fish that a work colleague gave to me …she competes in  fishing tournaments most week-ends and luckily she and I both share a passion for cooking. Also lucky for me is that her partner fillets the fish and I get to eat the ‘winnings’ …..fresh fish on a  Monday after their expedition, a win-win I say!!

Sri Lankan fish curry

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I’ve been very inspired to cook something with curry leaves after watching many of the Peter Kuruvita cooking programmes on SBS television.

True to Peter’s Sri Lankan heritage, the Sydney chef and co-owner of the Flying Fish restaurant has made Sri Lankan food his “life and being”. He regularly travels back to the country to gather inspiration for his Pyrmont restaurant.

I hope that you enjoy this light and fresh curry which highlights the aromatics of ginger, the spicy crackle of mustard seeds and the unique smoky, citrus character of curry leaves.

4 x 200g fish fillets

100ml extra virgin olive oil

salt flakes

1 brown onion, sliced in rounds

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into discs

6 large ripe tomatoes, in chunky dice

5 stems curry leaves

1 lemon

Place a large wide-based frypan over high heat. Add half the oil and heat for one minute.

Season the fish with the salt and fry, skin side down, for a minute or two to crisp the skin. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same pan and heat through.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften (about one minute).

Add the potato slices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring until they begin to soften.

Add the chopped tomatoes, stir, season and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes break down and start to form a sauce.

Add 200 millilitres of water and the curry leaves (still attached to their stems) and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The potatoes should be just cooked and the sauce will have thickened.

Check and adjust the seasoning. Make sure the sauce is on the drier side as the fish will release water and moisten it.

Add the fish, skin side up and cook for four to six minutes, or until cooked, with the lid on.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve with steamed brown rice.

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vegetable gardening on a balcony

I bought some lovely homegrown plants the other day from the Farmers Markets, and I am looking forward to harvesting more seasonal produce from my urban, balcony garden.

It’s amazing just how many plants that you can fit into such a small space, but these seedlings will be very welcome in to my ever increasing potager – Kitchen Garden.

vege gardening

Lettuces,  red sorrel, fennel, English spinach, broccoli, cavolo nero and rainbow chard have now been added to my Kitchen Garden.