Orange and Almond Cake

Ever since I first saw this cake being cooked on Food Safari years ago, I have had it on my ‘to do’ list. It didn’t disappoint! This cake is quite dense and very moist, but because it contains almond meal instead of flour it is extremely easy to eat, as it’s not too rich or heavy. I was worried the orange flavour might be too intense and bitter, but it turned out beautiful. Unfortunately I bake very rarely because any baked goods don’t last long with me around, and this cake was no exception!

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Posted in Baking, Desserts, Middle Eastern | 1 Comment

The Great Australian Vanilla Slice

I have always had a fondness for the classic vanilla slice. Less celebrated then the pavlova or the lamington, but just as Australian. It is one of those slices you will come across in just about every bakery.

When I visited my sister in Melbourne last year we passed numerous bakeries who had competed in the annual Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph competition. I came back determined to reproduce the beautiful slice I tasted while in Victoria. The vanilla custard filling was thick and creamy, and not at all gelatinous, like some of the sub-standard vanilla slices sold in some places.

A piece of the World's biggest vanilla slice in Flinders, VIC

My previous attempt to make vanilla slice was a bit disheartening because my filling didn’t set completely so when I cut it it was a bit messy (see my post here). Since then I have been hesitant to try it again, so I decided to make a different recipe by Donna Hay this time. I have altered the recipe a little and this time I have managed to produce a vanilla slice that is just right! Continue reading

Posted in Australian, Baking, Desserts | 3 Comments

Lamb Shanks in Cranberry Sauce

It’s been a long time between posts and I am excited to be able to post one of my favourite winter recipes! I had a bit of a break from the recipe blogging to go on a diet in preparation for going to France in May, so I could enjoy as much as I could over there! We ate out in a lot of bistros and bouchons, sampling a lot of traditional, rustic food. Before we went I didn’t think I knew a lot about French food, just the stereotypes and a sense that French food was complicated and too much of an effort to try. I have come back with a new appreciation for French cuisine. I actually realised that modern Australian cuisine has taken a lot of it’s inspiration from French recipes and techniques. I  have now keenly perused some French cookbooks and hoping to try to reproduce some of the beautiful meals I ate while there (in moderation, of course!).

The French love their slow-cooked casseroles and this recipe is something I imagine most people would love in Winter. On a cold day there is something so comforting about having the oven on in the kitchen, with the scent of hearty food wafting throughout the house. Lamb shanks are a favourite of mine and I think this recipe is my favourite way to eat them! The cranberry sauce in the recipe give a lovely sweetness to the sauce, and reducing the liquid at the end of the cooking time makes the sauce slightly sticky, so it coats the shanks beautifully. Continue reading

Posted in Lamb, Slow Cooking | 2 Comments

Seared Scallops with Chorizo and Roasted Capsicum

I headed down to Sydney last weekend to visit my family. Whenever I go down for the weekend my family tends to have a big Sunday lunch, which I figure is the perfect chance for me to try out some new recipes. So with a delicious magazine at my disposal, my Mum and I worked out a yummy lunch menu to try out. Seafood was on the agenda, so we had beautiful scallops, barbequed prawns, salad and then a yogurt panna cotta to top it all off!

I have been wanting to try out some scallop recipes for a while. I love the sweet taste of scallop flesh and they look so gorgeous served on the shell! Whenever I order scallops at a restaurant they tend to be served either with sweet and salty pork belly, or with fresh Asian flavours, so I really wanted to try something a bit different. When I came across this recipe by Rick Stein which uses Spanish flavours instead I wanted to cook it at once! I thought it was a perfect idea to combine the sweetness of scallops with the smoky flavour of chorizo. When I cooked it I was not disappointed with the result! No complaints from the family either.  🙂 Continue reading

Posted in Seafood | 1 Comment

Asparagus, Bean and Persian Feta Salad

I love making salads in summer. I haven’t always been a big salad person though. Salad growing up was usually iceberg lettuce, tomato, capsicum and cucumber, with a bit of dressing thrown on. And whilst that is a perfectly fine salad to have, it just doesn’t make me want to go back for seconds. But since the popularisation of the famous Changs fried noodle and wombok salad (now a staple at any Aussie BBQ), the salads at my parent’s dinner table, as well as my own, have been a bit more interesting.

This Asparagus, Bean and Persian feta salad is a great way to enjoy asparagus while it is still around. I am not usually a huge fan of bean salads but I find this one is a great accompaniment to barbequed meats. The creamy feta in it is beautiful with the beans and asparagus. If you are able to get it, Persian marinated feta is the best, but any marinated feta will do. The veggies in it are served cold, but they also taste fantastic warm (just don’t refresh the veggies in cold water after they cook). Continue reading

Posted in Salads, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Baked Figs with Gorgonzola

Once upon a time I was at a lovely Italian restaurant in Enmore and I ordered an entree of Baked Figs with gorgonzola. I love both figs and blue cheese and when it arrived I was overwhelmed at how fantastic the figs, prosciutto and creamy gorgonzola sauce tasted together. Even though that dinner was years ago I have still remembered that dish very fondly and have been hoping to find a recipe to help me recreate it at home. I finally stumbled across a recipe months ago by Antonio Percuoco so I have been waiting impatiently for figs to be in season so I could give it a try.

Luckily fig season coincides with Valentines Day. What a perfect romantic meal to cook for your Valentine! Well, we didn’t actually have a Valentine’s Day dinner this year. Instead I got surprise Happy 17th February flowers instead (take THAT commercial money-making event!). Luckily I had planned to cook this recipe that night anyway!

This recipe is my entry for the Cook book challenge this fortnight. The theme this fortnight is LOVE. I loved this dish and I hope you do too! Continue reading

Posted in Cookbook Challenge 2011, Italian | 3 Comments

Spice-fried Pork with Noodles in Spicy Coconut Broth

I have finally gotten around to posting my entry for the 3rd Cook book challenge theme. Bit over a week late but I figure better late than never! The theme was Rice/Noodles. I really struggled with finding a recipe to cook for this theme, partly because there are so many great recipes out there that would fit the theme. The other problem was I am trying to eat a lot healthier at the moment and most of the recipes I really wanted to try were a bit too loaded with carbs and fat. That means the arancini balls, the sticky rice puddings etc. will have to be put on the back burner for now.

I found a lot of lovely healthy Asian recipes I could try which fit the theme but the weather has been so hot lately that in the end I chose a recipe that seemed very quick and simple. After all, who wants to be sweating over a hot stove in the middle of summer?

This recipe for Spice-fried pork with noodles in spicy coconut broth is from “Instant Entertaining” by Donna Hay. Unfortunately it was a huge disappointment for me. The main reason was I decided to try a different brand of red curry paste from what I normally get. It was awful! All I could taste was the chilli and none of the flavours I usually associate with a red curry. The pork in the recipe with the five-spice coating would have been very nice with some other dishes, I imagine, but I didn’t think it went with red curry at all. Finally, I know this cook book is all about cooking quick meals you can serve while entertaining, but I can’t imagine serving something so plain to guests and anyone being impressed. At the end of the day, this dish consists of pork, noodles and beans. Forget cooking it, and order a proper red curry from the local Thai place instead! Continue reading

Posted in Asian, Cookbook Challenge 2011, Pork | Leave a comment

Barbequed Prawns with Mango and Chilli Lime Mayonnaise

I have been loving seafood lately! I don’t tend to eat a huge amount of seafood during the colder weather, but come summer I love eating seafood that has been cooked on the barbie. Of course, my favourite type of seafood to cook on the barbeque is PRAWNS. The sweetness of the prawn flesh and the smoky flavour from the barbeque is beautiful together and all you need to add is a little cracked pepper and sea salt!

I usually serve barbequed prawns with a mayonnaise dip. Often my family will have a wasabi mayonnaise which is just mayonnaise with a little wasabi paste added to taste. But recently when I was entertaining guests I felt like having something a little fresher. I adapted a recipe I found for Mango and Chilli lime mayonnaise which just screamed summer to me. Prawns and mango are a classic flavour combination so what could be better for an easy lunch with friends?

I really enjoyed the flavour of the mayonnaise in this recipe. The mango chilli and coriander work really well together and the lime juice gives it a bit of a zing. The mayonnaise recipe below would probably be enough for 2 kg prawns if you have a lot of people to serve, and would be great as a finger food dish at a party. Continue reading

Posted in Australian, Fingerfood, Seafood | Leave a comment

Ocean Trout with sticky Asian sauce

I’ve decided I need to branch out a when it comes to seafood. I always hated seafood as a kid, and I still haven’t brought myself to cook anything with eyes or fins still attached (shudder…). Up to a few years ago I had never even peeled a prawn! But this year I’ve decided that’s all gotta change and I’m going to start being adventurous. Maybe after watching Bear Grylls on Man vs Wild eating larvae and drinking elephant dung I’ve realised nothing I cook can possibly compare!

So until now the seafood I cook at home has consisted of salmon fillets, prawns, squid and mussels. All delicious but nothing that looks or smells like fish. I wanted to be brave so I have searched around for whole fish recipes that looked yum and I came across one for Ocean trout which sounded delicious. Then I realised buying a kilo and a half fish for 2 people was a bit over the top. But by then I was determined to cook this recipe regardless so I adapted it for ocean trout fillets instead. Ok, I know ocean trout fillets are not much of a leap from salmon fillets but it’s a start!

I loved the sauce in this recipe. Any sauce labelled “sticky” automatically sounds to die for, doesn’t it? The sauce has a beautiful balance of sweet, salty, sour and heat in it, from the palm sugar, tamarind, lime juice, fish sauce and chilli. I enjoyed the ocean trout a lot. I thought it was going to taste just like salmon, but I found it to have a much milder taste and the flesh was so soft and moist. This recipe is definitely a keeper. It was quite easy and quick to cook yet looks so beautiful when plated. Perfect for impressing people! Continue reading

Posted in Asian, Seafood | 4 Comments

Lemon & Ginger Creme Brulee Tarts

The theme for the Cookbook challenge this fortnight has been “Citrus”. Whilst I love citrus flavours I had a lot of trouble choosing just one recipe to cook because there were so many citrus recipes I wanted to try! This recipe by Callum from Masterchef, season 2 won me over. The thought of creme brulee in a tart was too good to resist. I am a pushover for creme brulee and the lemon and ginger infused custard filling seemed irresistible. This recipe also looked fairly easy to make which is always a bonus. The only problem now is I have lots more tarts in my fridge which I have to get through. Creme brulee tarts can be part of a healthy balanced diet, can’t they? Continue reading

Posted in Cookbook Challenge 2011, Desserts | 5 Comments