Spicy Paprika Pasta

I came up with this pasta dish a while back, during a bit of experimentation, and I fell in love with it. It’s probably not as original as I would have liked to think, but it is a bit different to your typical red pasta sauce. It’s slightly creamy, with a hint of spiciness and the smoky flavours of paprika. The paprika is very mild so most of the spice comes from thin slices of hot pepperoni. I usually add chicken as well for the protein and texture; it doesn’t add much flavour-wise.

The vital ingredient however, is Dolmio Spicy Peppers pasta sauce. I’ve raved before about my love of this particular pasta sauce. It’s so versatile; it’s fantastic with a little cream in a pasta sauce, good in mexican food, and it’s even great for pizza bases. It’s not really cheating if you just use it as a base, right?

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Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 1:39 am  Comments (6)  
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Chocolate Mud Cake

This is my ultimate go-to chocolate cake recipe. It is relatively quick and easy to make, and always turns out wonderfully. I have tried many mud cake recipes over the years but none have come close to this one. I was very lucky to receive the original recipe from a close friend, and only made some slight changes such as reducing the sugar content and simplifying the method. You don’t have to worry about creaming butter and sugar or sieving flour multiple times for this recipe, which is one of the best things about it.

I made this as a second cake for Natalia’s birthday dinner (see previous post) when she informed me on the day that she would need two cakes. I was aiming for more of a chocolate/cherry flavour by adding cherry brandy to the mix but the dominating flavour was definitely chocolate. I did this once before in my Black Forest Cake, but I wouldn’t bother again unless I find a concentrated natural cherry extract or flavouring. It still tasted as moist and delicious as ever though, and I got some very good feedback from those who tried it (“Best chocolate cake I’ve had in Australia” said Nat’s Brazilian boyfriend Neco – and his favourite just happens to be chocolate cherry cake!).

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Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm  Comments (5)  
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White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake

My friend Natalia recently celebrated her 23rd birthday. For her birthday dinner I planned on making her a cake, and settled on white chocolate and raspberry which is one of her favourite flavour combinations. I chose to make a cheesecake because I figured the flavours would translate well, plus it’s always popular and a nice twist on the typical birthday cake.

I waited until the day of her birthday dinner to make the cake. In hindsight this was a poor choice as I underestimated how long it would take to set. I have used variations of this recipe twice before; both baked and unbaked. It tasted much better unbaked in my opinion but I thought it had a bit too much gelatin in it last time. I detest the typical cafe/restaurant cheesecakes because they are so full of gelatin that the textural quality of the cheesecake is ruined. It’s a fine line. You need the cheesecake to be able to support it’s own weight without collapsing, but you also want it to be as soft and luscious as possible, not rubbery and solid. I think this cheesecake came very close to that mark, but it just didn’t have time to set properly so it sank around the edges. The raspberries may have also prevented the gelatin from setting slightly as some fruits do.

The good news is that it tasted excellent. The flavour of white chocolate and raspberry was obvious. The raspberry jelly on top was smooth and fresh against the creaminess, and the almond biscuit base complemented it all perfectly. I reduced the sugar content slightly because I included white chocolate, but I still found it a bit sweet. I guess a certain level of sweetness has to be expected with white chocolate and raspberry, but I try to aim for as little sugar as is needed in my baking. The recipe has been amended to include the amount of gelatin and sugar that I think would work well.

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Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Comments (10)  
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Beef Stirfry

I made this little stirfry a few nights ago and was quite impressed with how it tasted. Usually I would just use sweet chilli and soy sauce, but I put a bit more effort into it this time. I tried to create a balance of sweet and sour by using vinegar and brown sugar, with oyster sauce and hoi sin for the saltiness, and hot chilli sauce for some oomf! I would recommend using a rice vinegar or wine like shao hsing, and good quality, authentic sauces.

I used some purple heirloom carrots which my mum gave me from her garden and just whatever else was in the fridge. I think there was capsicum, broccoli, red onion and eschallots in there, and some corriander to garnish. I don’t recall the exact quantities or ingredients but I will be making something similar to this in the future, it was really yummy.

Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chicken Fettuccine Carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish which is based on eggs, bacon, cheese and pepper. Traditional carbonara is often made with spaghetti, but in Australia it’s more common to find fettuccine being used. I like to add cream, chicken and mushrooms to give it a little more flavour, but bear in mind these are not authentic ingredients.

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Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm  Comments (4)  
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Census Cupcakes

Earlier this week was Census night, which marked 100 years of Census taking in Australia. I registered for a party pack so that I could convince a few people to come over and have some lame fun filling it out together. The pack was a goldmine of stickers, arm bands, key rings, and even a little wooden plane.

To help celebrate I made some fairly simple vanilla cupcakes with a white chocolate & raspberry frosting and covered them in 100s and 1000s to represent all the people filling out their forms around the country.

The actual Census was incredibly boring and I was left out of most questions because I no longer have a job. The best part was when it was over and we got to eat cupcakes. They were pretty good. I’ve actually never made cupcakes before so I don’t have much to compare them to, but the cake was light and fluffy with a tender crumb, and quite moist. They were super easy to make as well so I’ll be going back to this recipe for sure.

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Published in: on August 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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