Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chocolate Chiffon cake with Espresso icing

I went to my first ever engagement party on saturday!
And, being the crazy person I am, I thought it would be possible to make a cake at 12pm AND clean the house and get to the party on time. I made it to the party, and the cake made it to the party...but the house wasn't cleaned and I got into a little bit of hot water.
NEVER MIND because the cake was delicious and it was all worth it.


Chocolate Chiffon cake with Espresso icing

1/2 c cocoa powder
1/4 c boiling water
2 c self raising flower
1 c caster sugar
7 eggs seperated
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tspn vanilla

Icing (approximates):
200g softened butter
4 Tbspn milky coffee (mix instant coffee with hot milk)
1.5 kg icing sugar
extra coffee
chocolate flakes (cold) or cocoa to decorate top/sides.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line the base and sides of three 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
Mix cocoa and water in a small bowl and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, sift flour into large mixing bowl. Add sugar, cocoa mix, egg yolks, oil and extract. Beat with electric mixer until smooth and mixture has paled in colour.
In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Fold eggwhites into cocoa mixture in 3-4 batches.

Folding the eggwhites into the cocoa mix - tins are ready!

Pour batter into the three tins, making sure each is the same depth (or weight)

Even tins

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when pressed lightly.
Turn onto a wire rack and let it cool.


Meanwhile, make the icing. 
Place butter into large bowl. Add half the icing sugar and the milky coffee.
Using a wodden spoon, beat the heck out of everything. Beat and beat and beat until it turns slightly lighter and there are no lumps. 
Add the rest of the icing sugar. If it becomes too stiff, add a bit of milky coffee. What you want is a stiff mixture, that will stand up in peaks, but is still smooth. right? right.

Now comes the tricky (time consuming part). I find its best to use a piping bag for this - but you can use a flat blade/palette knife.
Use a serrated knife to trim the top off all the cakes to make 3 even surface cakes.

I really need to do an instructional video fro this - I'm sorry but words is all I have right now (and some photos from
trimming the top (
SO. Place the largest cake on the plate/board you want to make your cake on.
Brush some of the coffee mix over the top of the cake.
Fill the piping bag, and pipe a circle, on the top, around the outside of the cake, leaving about 1cm from the edge. Fill the middle in with icing.

Icing the middle - I would leave a 1cm gap between icing/edge of cake (

Place the next cake UPSIDE DOWN ontop.
Brush some coffee mix over the top of the cake.
Again, pipe your circle and then fill in - making a level surface.
Place final cake UPSIDE DOWN ontop (this gives you a flat top to work with)
Pipe icing all over the top, and around the sides of the cake.
Use a palette knife, or flat blade, to smooth top layer.
Smooth sides of the cake.

Smoothing the sides (

If your icing is a bit patchy (coz you ran out, like me), or rough, you can get some flaked chocolate and stick it to the side of the cake.
To do this, pick the cake/plate up with your left hand. Cup some flaked chocolate in your hand and pat it on the cake, moving your hand around the cake.
Wipe excess chocolate flakes off the plate.
Dust the top of the cake with cocoa.
Place cake in the fridge and let it set for about 1 hour. But pull it out before you serve it so that it is at room temperature.

This took around 3 hours for me to do start to finish. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE LOTS OF TIME!
Use cold chocolate flakes to reduce risk of melting in your hands.
If you don't have a piping bag, use a large ziplock bag with a ~3cm corner cut out.
If this is your first time icing a layer cake - unless you have seen someone do it before or can find pictures I really REALLY suggest making one big cake and just icing that - use a 25cm tin. The cake will take longer to cook.
Add chocolate flakes between each layer - just for fun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday dinner #3 - Pizza

I have a confession to make. I don't actually ever make pizza dough. Paul (my bro) always makes the pizza dough. And rolls it. I always 'dress' the pizza. But never make the dough. So, half the credit has to go to Paul - because we all know that the base makes the pizza.


1 c water
1 tspn sugar
1 sachet dry yeast
3 c flour
1 tspn salt
4 Tbspn olive oil

Boil water and pour into large bowl. Mix in sugar and leave it until it has come to room temperature.
Pour yeast sachet overtop and leave for 15 minutes.
Add flour, salt and olive oil to wet mix. Mix this all together (use your hands, go on!) to form a slightly tacky, elastic dough.
Cover bowl with a plastic bag, and leave it to sit somewhere warm for around an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Grated mozzerella cheese

Tomato pizza sauce
Bocconcini - sliced thinly
Procuitto - rolled
Green pepper (sliced thinly)
Fresh basil

Spread the pesto or tomato sauce across the bottom of each pizza.
Top with the rest of the ingredients - in the order listed.
Crack some pepper ontop and put in the oven.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until base is cooked and crisp - and slightly brown.
Cut and serve with beer and/or wine...mmmmmm!!!

Use home-made pesto, it makes it taste so much better!
Buy quality pizza bases - the ones with holes in the bottom are best.
Drain liquid off olives/capers or otherwise the pizza will be soggy.
Wrap the procuitto into small rolls, and don't put too much on, or it will go soggy as well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday dinner #2 - Rogan Josh with lemon pickle and mint yoghurt

I got this recipe from the Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals cookbook. It actually took me around 40 min to do, and I modified it a bit, by removing cauliflower and adding beef and other things (otherwise dad wouldn't have been happy). Actually, it is pretty different. It made heaps of food, at least two nights of dinner and one set of lunch - winning!

Pappadams, lemon pickle, and curry with yoghurt...mmmm!

Rogan Josh with Pickled Lemons and Mint Yoghurt

2 onions - diced
4 cloves garlic - crushed
1 fresh red chilli - sliced
400-600g beef (I got the cheap stuff) - cut into cubes
1/2 butternut squash - cut into cubes
1 bunch fresh coriander
1/2 a 283g jar pataks rogan josh paste
1 tin chickpeas
1 large (or 3 small) zucchini - sliced
1 packet baby spinach (the $3 coles packs)

Rice and pappadams to serve.

Lemon Pickle

1 lemon
2 tspn mustard seeds (or seeded mustard if you're like me)
1 tspn tumeric
1 small fresh chilli

Mint Yoghurt

500g tub natural yoghurt
1 bunch mint leaves
Dash of olive oil

First, get your yoghurt started. 
Empty the yoghurt into a coffee filter and sit in a sieve over a small bowl. Place in the fridge.
This lets all the excess moisture out of the yoghurt.
Leave in the fridge for <1 font="" hour.="">
Remove yoghurt from filter, put into clean bowl. Add the mint leaves and a dash of olive oil. Mix well.

Next, lemon pickle.
Put the pan you will use to cook the curry onto the stove to heat up.
Cut lemon into eights, then deseed and slice thinly.
Slice the red chilli finely.
Add a dash of olive oil to the pan, followed by the mustard seeds, tumeric and chilli. Stir well to avoid burning.
Once it starts to sizzle, add the lemon and stir for around 10 seconds before removing everything from the heat and leaving in a small bowl to cool.
Leave the pan on to cook curry.

Now, curry.
Place the diced onion, chilli and garlic in the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.
Add beef and continue to cook until outside is brown.
While this is happening, loosely cut the coriander (including stalks) - save some for garnish.
Add the squash, coriander and chickpeas (with juices). I also added another half tin of water. Stir, and cover pan with lid. Let the curry simmer, stirring occasionally.
Check the curry after about 10 minutes - add more water if needed.
When squash is almost cooked (after 15-20 minutes), add zucchini.
Cook for a further 5 minutes - or until zucchini is soft.
Remove from heat, add spinach and stir through.

Serve curry over rice with coriander ontop and pappadams, yoghurt and lemon pickle on the side.

ps. this was dessert - fresh raspberries, cream and meringues. WINNING!

Mix the lemon pickle into leftover curry - the flavours will develop and taste amazing!
Add more vegetables (cauliflower, capsicum, tinned tomatoes) for a healthier/larger meal.

Sparrow Indonesian Restaurant

Sparrow Indonesian Restaurant
301 Lord St
9228 2238

I'm saving my pennies. In 3 months I am flying to America, for a looooong time, and I am trying to cut down on spending. This means going out to dinner 2 nights a week instead of 4. And only buying clothes from op-shops!

When I heard about Sparrow, I thought it was too good to be true. $9 for a main meal? Surely not. Surely that was 5 years ago. Noone does a meal for $9 anymore - unless it is fast food - which doesn't count.

So, I called up my friends, and we made a date. Sparrow at 7pm.

I got there early and have to admit, was slightly off-put by the faded paint and sercurity grills on the outside. Inside wasn't much better. There wasn't enough room to swing a cat, and the tables were so close you could reach over and grab the food off your neighbours plate. But, the aircon was pumping away and the 'man in charge' greeted us warmly, moved a 'reserved' sign, gave us some menus and sat us down, while answering the phone twice.

There was a good range of food on the menu, entrees, mains, vegetarian, desserts and exciting Indonesian drinks. We decided to settle for the krokettes (chicken meat and cheese cake (???)), vegetarian me-goreng, beef rendang (3 pieces) and satay chicken (3 pieces). Oh, and ice tea was so cheap I couldn't refuse.

When we first sat down (7pm) the cafe was quiet, with a few people coming in for take-away. By the time our food came out, it was half full - and getting quite noisy. When we left, it was full to bursting, there were people waiting for tables and the kitchen was going full steam ahead.

The food came out - all reasonably at the same time. We started with the kroquettes. Lets just say interesting. There was some weird tasting sauce with them and although they were crunchy, and had the right texture, I was pretty dubious about what else was in them. The chicken satay sauce was AMZZING. Soooooo tasty. But, the chicken was that processed stuff that comes pre-skewered - it would have been a little bit fancier if it was real breast they had cut/skewered themselves. The me-goreng was greasy and slightly bland, and there werent very many veges. But...the beef rendang. omg the beef rendang. the beef was so tender it just fell apart. It was a lovely cut (hardly any fat) and the sauce was just the right amount of spicy. The beef came in large pieces - you basically ordered one piece per person.

The best part about this meal? When we went to pay it came to $32. For everything. Not each, EVERYTHING. Which made the slightly greasy me-goreng and dodgy chicken worth it :)

So, will I go back? Yes. I have also been telling everyone about it. It's not flash, it's super noisy, but its cheap, and tasty.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monday dinner #1 - Lamb and Plum Tagine

I got this recipe from the coles magazine (love free recipes!). 
Dad was a little disappointed with the beans, but seemed to enjoy it! Mum enjoyed it as well, and there will be a 'next time' - SUCCESS!

Tagine - sans mint yoghurt (the photo was being ruched by the hungry people at the table waiting to eat.

Lamb and Plum Tagine

1kg boneless lamb leg steaks
1 tspn olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1tspn cumin
1 thumb finely grated ginger
2 tspn paprika
1 cinnamon stick (not in the pantry so I didn't use)
3 cardamom pods (I used a tspn ground cardamom)
1c chicken or vegetable stock (I used veg)
400g sweet potato cut into cubes
125g green beans trimmed and halved
5 firm plums, cut into wedges
Rice to serve
Coriander leaves to garnish

Trim excess fat from lamb and cut into bite sized pieces.
Heat oil in a large frypan (with a lid) and add onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and paprika. Stir, until onion is soft. Add meat and stir.
Pour all the stock in and stir well, bring it to a simmer, then put the lid on and leave it for around an hour - or until meat is tender.
Stir frequently to ensure the mix doesn't burn - can add extra water or stock.
Once meat is tender, add the sweet potato and cook for around 15 minutes, or until slightly soft.
Add green beans and plums. Cook for a further 10 minutes - until beans are done.

Remove from heat, top with coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice.

I used vege stock, and I think chicken stock would add more flavour.
I also added around 2c of water extra - as it became too thick and started to stick/burn to pan.
You could substitute beans for any vegetables - zucchini, capsicum etc.
This dish could be served with cous cous instead of rice.
I also made a mint yoghurt with this dish - which went really well.

Paul attacking me with beans. yes. beans.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A short introduction to monday dinners

I've moved back home. To save money. Before I go to America. 
One of the conditions of moving back home is that I 'help out' around the house. 
I decided part of this 'helping out' would be to make dinner on monday night. That way, its easier for mum, and I get to write an awesome recipe each week! :D YAY!

Family - Dad, Mum, Luke, Me, Paul

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chai Cheesecake

One of the wonderful things about working at a cafe is that you get free food. Sometimes, you get free samples - of white chocolate frappe mix, chai powder or royal icing. There were 4 packets of chai powder that had been sitting around for almost 6 months under the coffee machine. They got moved to the staff table, and after sitting around there for a few weeks, I decided to take them home.

So, what to do with the chai powder? The first thing I thought of was chai cheesecake. Yes, you may shudder, but really, I think its a great idea. Creamy cheese goodness with spices and a slight caramel taste...yes...yes!

I don't like gelatine cheesecakes, so this is a baked cheesecake - sans gelatine.

Chai cheesecake with blueberries!

Chai Cheesecake

250g packet plain biscuits (I like arnotts nice biscuits)
125g butter

500g cream cheese
1/2c castor sugar
1 tspn vanilla
3 eggs
1 Tbspn cornflour
300mL sour cream
35g of chai powder
2 Tbsp hot water

Crush biscuits in food processor (or place in a bag and SMASH with a rolling pin).
Melt butter and add crushed biscuits. Mix well. You may need to add a little more butter - the biscuits should clump together when rolled into a ball.
Press butter mix into a lined 25cm tin (springform is best) and put in fridge to set.
Preheat oven to 160C.
Place cream cheese in a bowl and beat well - until lighter and smoother.
While that is beating, mix chai powder and water in a small bowl to make a thick paste. Add the sour cream in and stir well.
Back to the cream cheese - rain the castor sugar in slowly.
Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time then cornflour, beating well between each addition.
Add the chai sour cream to the cream cheese mix, beat in well.
Remove the base from the fridge, and pour the cream cheese mix over.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until middle is firm.

Serve with fresh cream and fruit!

-You can make mini cheesecakes using a well greased muffin tin. Place the mini cheesecakes in patty pans once cooked to help maintain shape.
-Cheesecake can be frozen for later use!

My babcias mixer - still going strong!

I had too much bicuit, so made an extra cake - but then didnt have enough mix! It was very thin.

Mini cheesecake fun!