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Published in: on January 3, 2012 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is just the thing to use up those rapidly ripening bananas in the fruit bowl. I used 3 very ripe bananas for this cake which gave it a great flavour. The recipe calls for buttermilk which results in a more soft and airy texture; but like all banana cakes, it is still quite dense and moist. The cream cheese frosting recipe I followed turned out too sweet for my liking so I added more lemon juice, more cream cheese and a decent amount of whipping cream. The resulting frosting was a little runnier than it would have been because of the cream but it firmed up after an hour in the fridge (I couldn’t wait that long to cut the first slice!). I really enjoyed this banana cake and the housemates helped polish it off within 48 hours- that says it all.

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Published in: on March 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm  Comments (6)  
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Middle-Eastern Steak Sandwiches with Moorish Potato Salad

I made these for dinner a couple of weeks ago. I had a couple of cos lettuces from mum’s garden and a bunch of cucumbers from my trip to the market to use. It makes me feel like a domesticated housewife when I decide meals based on ‘what we’ve got to use up’, but it makes sense really and I’m sure that’s how it works in commercial kitchens too. Anyway, I settled on a middle eastern style turkish bread sandwich with thinly sliced minute steaks, natural yoghurt and caramelised onions.

The potato salad was a recipe I spotted in a magazine by Chef Matt Stone who operates the Greenhouse restaurant in the inner-city, which is a very hip, eco-friendly and decidedly alternative restaurant which has been receiving lots of buzz lately. The recipe looked good and it kind of paired with the steak sandwich idea, so I decided to do both. It’s sort of got a burger and fries vibe I guess.

The sandwiches were goooood! I ended up using sour cream instead of yoghurt but I think either would work well. The onions really made it. The potato salad was also delicious, but I have to admit the last thing I wanted after working through that sandwich was more carbs. The potato salad was good for lunch the next day though with leftover sour cream.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Coffee Buttercream

Okay, so I kind of cheated with these. Remember my Hazelnut Mocha Torte from a few posts ago? Well this is it again, but in cupcake form; and with a different frosting. They are still gluten free and still just as delicious – if not more so. The cakes had a slightly crusty surface but the inside remained beautifully moist and tender. On top of each, I spread a good dollop of Nutella and piped a small swirl of coffee flavoured buttercream. I felt like they needed the decadence of extra chocolate so I shaved some dark ghana over the top to finish them off.

The swiss buttercream was new for me and I really enjoyed the process. This type of buttercream is slightly harder than ‘simple buttercream’ involving powdered sugar, butter and a little milk – but it is infinitely better. It is far less sweet for one and also has a much more soft, airy and luscious mouth-feel. There are a few other types of buttercreams with increasing degrees of difficulty, but swiss is a good starting point for beginners like me.

Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm  Comments (9)  
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Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

I only had to cook for myself tonight and felt like something easy. I had a few veggies to use up and I spotted some green curry paste in the fridge and a chicken breast in the freezer – a done deal. I whacked on the rice cooker, and cut up the chicken and set it to marinating in a few spoonfuls of curry paste whilst I prepared the other ingredients. I had a baby zucchini and a few hungarian wax peppers which mum had given me from her garden so they went in, along with capsicums, broccoli and red onion.

I sealed the chicken in a hot pan and added the onions to soften a bit. Then I poured in a bit of water and the zucchini. After simmering for a couple of minutes I threw in the softer vegetables and stirred in about 200ml of coconut cream/milk. A couple of minutes later it was ready to serve with a big squeeze of lime juice and steamed jasmine rise.

Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm  Comments (3)  
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Smashed Pav


It was Australia Day (aka ‘Invasion Day’) last Thursday and I felt inclined to make something Aussie to celebrate. I settled on pavlova due to a surplus of eggs from my mum’s chooks. This was actually my first time making pavlova so I was wary; but it turned out better than I expected, albeit a tad smashed looking. The crust was very crispy and melt-in-your-mouth whilst the inside remained soft and marshmallowy. It came out of the oven looking quite spectacular but as it cooled the crust broke into shards. Once it was topped with cream and fruit it didn’t seem to matter though. I also added banana and passionfruit just before serving. I’m glad I have this iconic dessert in my repertoire now because it was really yummy and a good way to use up eggs.

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Published in: on February 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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Chicken Pesto Penne

Pesto is a great option for flavouring pasta when you feel like something light, flavoursome and healthy. The main ingredient is basil so it’s good for using up excess basil leaves from the garden during summer. The best thing about it is that everything except the pasta is raw – so you get the full nutritional value of all those green leaves, chopped nuts and garlic. A generous amount of fresh parmesan cheese provides the salty flavour that really makes this dish work. I also like to add a bit of chicken for protein but it isn’t really needed. The recipe I’ve taken to using is very basic and rather traditional. The final flavour will ultimately depend on the quality of the ingredients you  use and the type of basil.

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Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hazelnut Mocha Torte (gluten free)

My gluten-intolerant Italian friend introduced me to this amazing cake when she made it for her birthday last year. I finally got around to trying it myself recently and was surprised by how easy it was to make – for a cake with no flour or leavening. The cake itself is beautifully moist and tender with the flavour of hazelnuts and real chocolate. The coffee mascarpone topping is the perfect accompaniment. I was so impressed by how it turned out that I made a second one to bring to Christmas dinner. This is a great flavour combination and a recipe worth trying!

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Published in: on January 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm  Comments (4)  
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Christmas Cookies

I made these reindeer cookies recently for a Christmas dinner that I helped to host. They were a pretty big hit with the party-folk and disappeared in no time. They’re just a simple (but delicious) sugar cookie with royal icing for the outline and red nose. I made these last year and used red smarties instead for the nose which worked just as well, but I couldn’t be bothered buying and sifting through them. The cookie cutter is actually a moose which came in a set from Ikea, but I reckon it looks enough like a reindeer.

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Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 12:09 am  Comments (2)  
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Nachos

I had to cook dinner for one tonight, and what’s easier than nachos? I topped some plain corn chips with a hearty beef and bean sauce, added some hot salsa, cheese, spring onions, and my very own hand-picked olives. I also made a frozen margarita which is currently giving me a healthy buzz. Don’t you judge me.

Yum.

Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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