Sunday, November 28, 2010

lemon and gingernut cheesecake (a)

Sorry this is another cheesecake post. Actually, i'm not sorry at can never have enough cheesecake recipes! But, we still had a bit of philly left over from our free cookbook splurge. And tonight mum and I are heading to aunty w's for dinner, so I thought I would whip up another cheesecake.
This time, we only had gingernuts in the cupboard (as far as biscuits went) and alot of lemons (from the tree). I figured ginger and lemon goes pretty well together...and set about creating some sort of edible dessert from it.
Again, I made small ones, just because they are more user-friendly, but feel free to make a large cheesecake!
I also baked it...but I think you could have it straight as the mix is so thick. Just skip the baking step and let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Lemon and gingernut cheesecake

125g gingernuts
60 g butter
300g philly at room temp
1/4 c castor sugar
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla essence
zest of 1 (large) lemon
3 tbspn lemon juice (I started with 2 and added extra to make it more lemon-y)

Preheat to 160 degrees
Prepare muffin tray (we have a silicone prep yay!)
Crush gingernuts (best done with a food processor, I tried the bag and smash and they are so hard they broke the bag...)
Melt butter and add to the biscuits. Mix well.
Place 1tbspn of biscuit mix in each muffin case, press down well (a flat glass works best) and place in the fridge.

Chop philly and beat until creamy.
Continue to beat, adding sugar and vanilla essence. Once mixed, add the lemon zest and lemon juice and combine well.
Add the flour and continue to beat until all ingredients are combined, and the mix is lump free.
Remove biscuit bases from the fridge, and place 1 heaped tbspn of creamy mix into each muffin case.

Smooth the top as well as possible.
Place in overn for 25 minutes.

You could probably not bake this recipe, as the creamy mix is very thick. If you want to do this, just skip the oven step, and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden up.
Make sure you taste test the creamy mix to ensure it has enough lemon flavour in it ;)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raspberry Friand slice (a)

I am actually eating this while I write the post.
Lordy Lordy this slice is good.
Mum wanted me to make some raspberry friands, but I decided it would be more fun to make...raspberry friand slice. Easier to wrap up, cut up and share, and great as a dessert too (would go epically well with some whipped cream and fresh raspberries).

Raspberry Friand Slice

125g butter, softened
1/3 c castor sugar
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 1/4 c almond meal (about 100g)
2 tbspn plain flour
around 3 handfulls of frozen raspberries (maybe 100g?)
1 tbspn raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 180 celcius and line baking tray with paper.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between.
Add vanilla and mix.
Combine flour and almonds, and half to the wet mix and combine.
Add the other half and stir in well.
Pour mix into baking tray and level.
Scatter raspberries overtop and press into cake mix.
Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked (skewer should come out clean)
Heat raspberry jam for about 15 sec in the microwave, and brush over cake.
Cool and keep in tin. Probably in the fridge.

For gluten free awesomeness, just use rice flour instead of plain flour!!! YAY!!!
I actually adapted this from an apricot and almond if you want to use apricots, then just drain a 400g tin of apricots and place the apricots in the cake instead of the raspberries and brush with apricot sauce.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heav(enl)y Fruit Christmas Cake (a)

Hello. My name is Alex, and I am a Christmas addict.

I love love LOVE Christmas.

I love going to midnight mass, and the spirituality of Christmas. I love spending time with my family. I love decorating the tree (and the house). I love wrapping presents. I love BUYING presents. I love CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. I love the long drive to my grandparents (or elsewhere). I love getting a 'Christmas dress' and saving it for Christmas day. I love making cards, and sending them. I love the sunny days, and passing out on the grass or couch after lunch.


So, even though we are going to NZ for Christmas this year (wooooo) mum is still gonna pump out the usual Christmas food. We make Christmas cake, fruit mince pies, white choc apricot truffles, hazelnut chocolates, ginger biscuits, pavlova, ham, turkey, roast pumpkin salad and much more. So, as I help mum out this year, I'm gonna post all the recipes. So that next year, I have a reference for them, and hopefully to inspire you to get into the kitchen!!!

First things first, the epitome of Christmas...CAAAKKEEE!!!! I know alot of people dont like Christmas cake, but thats because they are doing it wrong (and probably buying it from a shop). Seriously, this will change your mind. First, you make the cake...this recipe. I'll tell you all about the marzipan later. OH and I got some good pics :D

Heavy Fruit Christmas cake

1/3 c pitted prunes, halved
1 1/2 c (250g) sultanas
1 1/2 c (250g) currants
1/2 c sweet sherry
1/2 c brandy

Combine prunes, sultanas, currants and alcohols into a LARGE bowl.
Cover and leave to stand, the longer (ie: a week) the better, just make sure you stir it at least once a day.
Before using, drain any excess fluid (shouldnt be there if its been sitting for a week though) and save.

SECOND (fruit nut mix):

1 1/2 c (250g) glace cherries
1 1/2 c (250g) diced dates
1 c mixed peel
2 c walnut pieces

After a week or so of the fruit soaking, add these ingredients into the large bowl and stir to combine.


1 tbspn dry instant coffee
1/4 c hot water
3 tbspn plum jam
1 tbspn cocoa

In a small bowl, combine these ingredients until the coffee is dissolved.

FOURTH (cake mix):

125 g butter softened
1/2 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1 c plain flour
3/4 c SR flour
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn mixed spice
1/2 tspn nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl.
Add eggs quickly, one at a time and beat until only just combined between each addition.
Stir in the coffe/jam/cocoa mix (THIRD step).
Add the flour and mix well. Follow with the SR flour, mix well, and finally the spices.

Prepare cake tin (23cm diameter) by layering it with 3 sheets of baking paper.
Add the cake mix to the fruit nut mix and stir well until all combined.

Pour mix into the cake tin.
Cook in slow oven (150 celcius) for 2 hours.
Brush any reserved liquid from the fruit over the cake while it is still hot, and cool in pan.

You dont have to use plum jam...raspberry or strawberry will do.
Try adding pecans or brazil nuts instead of walnuts.
If you didnt have any liquid leftover to brush the cake, just use brandy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pad Thai (a) or a tribute to David Herbert

An Ode to David Herbert

Oh David...
How I love waking up on Saturday morning
Sitting at the table,
Eating my rasin toast
And beating dad to the weekend magazine.
I flick through the glossy pages
Anticipation rising as I reach your column
What will it be this week David?
Sliced pilaf with Pomegranate...
Lamb shanks (italian style)...
Rhubarb chutney...
Simple sweet potato and pea curry (pictured)...
You make my weekend.

Anyways, in tribute to David Herbert (the chef who writes the recipe section of the Australian in the magazine each weekend) and, to my friends Hannah and Alex, I decided that I would make pad thai for dinner.
I've always been a little scared of making PT, just because of this one recipe I read with EPIC ingredients I was worried. However, mum goes...oh i've got a David Herbert recipe for pad thai and I immediately brightened up. David Herbert recipe? I can do that. I only changed one thing, I used chicken instead of prawns because I dont like them.

So here goes, the amazingly simple and unbelievably tasty David Herbert Pad Thai (did I mention he has an english accent??) p.s sorry no pics but the ones I took were bad, and DH doesnt use photos ;)

Pad Thai

1 large chicken breast, sliced
250g flat rice noodles
2 tbspn vegetable oil
1 tspn ground ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 long red chillies
50g bean sprouts
50 g spinach
4 tbpsn lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
2 tbspn Thai fish sauce
1 tbspn brown sugar
3 spring onions, sliced diagonally
2 tbspns chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
quartered lime and coriander to serve

Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water, leave for 6-7 minutes (dont leave longer or they go all mushy and break up).
Meanwhile, heat a large wok over hight heat (i used a big frypan, works ok)
Add oil, ginger, garlic and chilli and stir fry for 1 minute
Add the chicken and cook.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Drain the noodles, add a bit more oil to the pan and chuck them in the pan with the bean sprouts, spinach, lime juice, fish sauce and ginger. Toss this for about 2 minutes, stir in the chicken and cook for another minute.
Serve with coriander and crushed peanuts ontop, and a wedge of lime on the side.

Add 24 medium sized uncooked prawns instead of the chicken, just peel and devein them, and cook until pink.
If you dont have roasted unsalted peanuts, just use normal unsalted peanuts, cook them in the microwave for about 30 seconds, rub them to get the skin on and crush.
Add carrot, snow peas or baby corn to the noodles for a healthier meal.

Monday, November 15, 2010

mango and peach cheesecakes (a)

I blame dad for this recipe. DAD??!! DO YOU READ THIS??!!! ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!!! ok seriously, I don't think pappy even KNOWS I do this...he'd call it a waste of time. He already thinks I put too many photos of food on facebook (you can NEVER have too many photos of food) and would make me paint the house or something instead.

BUT that doesnt say that he wont be tucking into cheesecake for dessert.

ANYWAYS reason why I blame dad is that SOMEHOW we ended up with a tin of slice peaches in mango puree. I like sliced peaches on my weetbix in the morning, but I would NEVER buy them in puree, and neither would mum, so it must have been one of those rare occasions when dad got trusted with the shopping. So, I opened the tin of peaches this morning and thought I would give them a go.


Well, the peaches tasted normal, but the mango puree...made me wanna spew (no joke). Im not really an Australian because, well I dont really like mango, and this was like smushed up over-ripe mango...grrroooossss.

I however decided that I wouldnt WASTE the tinned monstrosity, and figured if I drained the peaches, they would be good to eat (they were) and well...we had three blocks of philly in the fridge, so maybe I could use the mango to make cheesecake (the three blocks of philly is EASILY explained by the fact that if you brought 3 philly products you go A FREE COOKBOOK!!!! FREE!!!)

I also thought I would make individual cheesecakes. With no dinners planned and only 3 people in the house atm, individual cheesecakes could be frozen and pulled out for the right occasion, without having to wait for an army of people to come round to help eat a cake.

Also...this recipe uses NO GEALTIN for all those people out there who dont just HAVE gelatin lying around in the cupboard. It does have an egg though, so isn't vego...sorry, but, you could always experiment leaving the egg out (let me know how it goes!)

Mango and Peach (individual) cheesecakes

125g Milk arrowroot (or marie) biscuits
60g butter
1/2 tspn mixed spice

375g Philadelphia cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 tspn vanilla essence
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
juice from a big (1kg?) tin of canned peaches in mango puree, I think it was about 1/3 of a cup
2 tspns flour
6 of the peaches from the tin

Heat oven to 160 degrees. Prepare muffin tin (I used a silicone one, easiest way).
Crush the biscuits. Best way is to put them in a plastic bag, seal it (no air inside or it will burst) and SMASH IT WITH A ROLLING PIN! else, you can always use a food processor.
Melt the butter and add it to the crushed biscuits.
Add the mixed spice. Mix well.
The biscuit crumbs should be coated in butter, but still separate.
Place a tbspn of biscuit crumbs in each muffin case.
Use a flat bottomed glass (beer glasses are usually good) or fingers to press the crumbs into the bottom.
Place in the fridge to chill.

Place the philly, vanilla essence and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Do not overbeat or the cheesecake will get air bubbles in it and will collapse once cooked.
Add egg and mix well.
Fold in the flour.
Add the mango juice and mix well.
Place a level tbspn of mix ontop of the base. Add half of a sliced peach and then place another tbspn ontop, covering the peach.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Leave the cakes to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

Serve cold with a dollop of cream.

You can freeze cheesecakes!!! yayyy!!!
If you dont want to buy the tinned mango, just use real mango (smush it up), or a mango syrup. I wouldnt use juice, it would be too runny. You could probably use mango baby food as well.
Gingernuts would make an awesome alternative as a base.
You dont need to add the peaches, I just had them on hand. You could use chopped up mango as well.

Enjoy!!! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

fig and pistachio biscotti (a)

soooooooooo, i was procrastinating when i came upon this site... not only do i love the name, but i love the pictures and the brown colouring and, well pretty much everything about this site. soooo...head there to check it out. Meanwhile, I decided to procrastinate in another way, and actually make the fig and pistachio biscotti recipe that I came across - modified a bit, i cut out some sugar, and made the measures a little bit simpler.
Ive never made biscotti before, so i was excited. This recipe, well....they are pretty much figgin awesome ;)


75g butter softened
1/3 c sugar
2 eggs at room temp
2 tspn vanilla
1 tspn orange extract (or orange zest, or lemon zest)
1 c (around 80g packet) shelled unsalted pistachios
1 c chopped dried figs (dried = around 6)
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 tspn baking powder

Preheat oven 180 celcius and line biscuit tray with baking paper.
Combine sugar and butter and mix until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well between each addition.
Mix in the vanilla and orange extract.
Stir in the figs and pistachios.
Add flour and stir until just combined.
Roll dough into ball and place on lightly floured surface. Split ball into 3 segments, and roll each segment out, till its about 3-4cm thick and 20-30cm long.
Place segments on the baking tray, leaving room between each one.
Bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden and warm to touch.
Remove from oven and let them cool a little.
Cut segments into 1-2cm thick pieces (depending on how thick you want your biscotti...thinner will crisp up more, thicker is a bit chewier) and separate pieces on the tray. Make sure they are standing up, don't lie them down (like on the photo guys)
Bake for another 10 minutes.
Let them cool completely before serving-ideally with good coffee :)

If you dont have orange extract (weirdly enough, mum did) then you can use orange zest or lemon zest.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

back to basics (a)

A thought just occured to me. No recipes here folks, just something i wanted to get down (but I might just dig up a good photo or two)

As most of you know, my mum is what inspires me to cook. For as long as I can remember, she has produced baked goods for our lunchboxes (no chips or roll ups) and dinner every night. My mum is traditional...and I have alot of good base knowledge from her.

mum and i hanging in the kitchen

On the other hand, is my aunt, aunty W. While I was living alone in perth, she fed me dinner every sunday night and made sure I was 'vitaminised' for the coming week.
My aunt cooks amazing dinners, is always willing to try a new recipe, and has a wealth of cooking knowledge. Last weekend we had ginger and apricot pavlova roulade, kaffir lime tart, preserved lemon and quinoa salad, lentil, feta and tomato salad, zuchini and parmesan fritters and...I made a plain green salad, just like my mums.

dinner at my aunts :)

Dinner was...amazing, fabulous, the reason I came back to perth. With friends and family, sitting outside by candlelight, eating good food. My tastebuds were doing happy dances and there was a party in my stomach.

Now, this thing that just occurred to me.
As delish as the pavlova roulade was...a normal pavlova kicks butt.
As rich and unlike any chocolate tart I have ever had...a normal chocolate tart with strawberries is always a winner.
As nutty and sour as the preserved lemon and quinoa salad was, or as textured as the lentils and normal garden salad still went down a treat.

the pav roulade...and it was great. i swear. i ate two helpings :D

Can you see what I'm getting at? These days, there are so many recipe books around, and so many ways to cook food that people come up with the craziest ideas...bacon and egg icecream, crispy duck with blood orange sauce and stir fried gai larn or even caramel banana peacan stuffed hotcakes (yes they exist).

When really, simple is just as good. Simple is enjoyed. I LIKE my pav plain, not chocolate, not roulade...just lots of cream and fresh fruit. Although we all enjoyed the experience of eating the chocolate tart, its a well made plain chocolate tart that blows peoples minds and encourages recipe trading.

I dont mean in any way to belittle those adventurous quinoa people. I love to eat their food. But sometimes, I think a step back needs to be taken. Of all the food I ate in europe, a meal of fish and potatoes and preserves with my grandad was one of my favourites. Or just bread and cheese fondue. Chocolate always tasted better as dark (without anything) and nothing beats a good vanilla milkshake.

So, guess I should end by saying I promise not to do any crazy things on here. When I have my will be a return to simple delicious food that we used to eat, but got overtaken by...well...quinoa. I promise to keep it (ok ok mostly) basic, to find the BEST chocolate tart, that will have people begging for more and to embrace the art of simple, good tasting food. off to make filled filo pastries with capsicum and chilli relish with a red cabbage and lemon salad.

wendells birthday cake (a) aka easy coffee cake

So, it was my dads birthday this week (which was the reason I came back from europe early)


On wednesday, I realised that we were going out for dinner, and although mum had made a cake for dad to take to work (under the Rio Tinto cake act) she actually hadnt made one for his birthday. So, I resolved to bake a cake that afternoon. At first, I thought it would be easy...we had plenty of beer, pistachios and lemons. But soon I realised we didnt have much else, so I had to ride to the shops and get essentials like baking powder and flour. Turned out I managed to whip up this awesomely super easy moist cake, and although I made a coffee one, you could easily expand on ideas and make it with coco, lemons, or mint...any flavour really. In fact, thinking about it, it was really a recipe for a giant sized cupcake. HAHAHAHA :) so, please ensure you have the essentials in your cupboard, and try...

Wendells Birthday Cake

170g butter (its supposed to be half butter and half margarine but i dont like using marg to cook)
3/4 c loosely packed brown sugar
1 1/4 c SR flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
3 eggs
3 tbspn coffee (stronger the better for more flavour)

3/4 c icing sugar
40g softened butter
1 tbspn coffee
1 tbspn milk

Preheat oven to 180 celcius and prepare a round baking tin.
Whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs and coffee and mix well.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the icing by combining all ingredients and mixing until light and fluffy.

Once cake is cooked, remove and leave it to cool. Once cool, spread the icing over the top. Decorate with almonds or walnuts.

Add the juice of half a lemon, or 2 tbspns of cocoa instead of coffee to make a different flavoured cake.
Use vanilla essence, mint essence or lemon juice in the icing to make all sorts of yummy flavours
If you're feeling really adventurous, slice the cake in half once cooled, and fill with cream or extra icing.

p. my dads name isnt actually wendell, thats just what we call him. love you dad xox