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Giving it a go. 

Whilst I sit on my proverbial laurels watching the world go by, I’ve been keeping up to date with all the blogs I follow in my reader. One special blog I follow is called tassybakes.com and this lovely recipe was posted about six days ago. It’s a gluten free chocolate and almond cake and is one I’ve wanted to make and eat for a long, long time! Can I just say that it is so moist and delicious and fudgy that I’ll never go past it again for a show stopper chocolate cake. I followed her recipe to the letter but changed out the olive oil for rice bran oil and my cooking time varied quite a bit but that’s what giving things a go is all about isn’t it?


Ingredients.

175 ml boiling water

2 tspn instant coffee granules

80 gm cocoa powder ( I used Plaistowes premium Dutch processed by Nestle)

225 gm ground almonds

1 tspn bicarbonate of soda

1 tspn salt

300gm golden caster sugar

5 eggs

225 ml olive oil

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line the base of a 20 cm cake tin. Grease the base paper again.

Sift the almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.


Mix together the cocoa, coffee and boiling water in a jug and set aside to cool slightly.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and sugar until pale and thick.



Add the cocoa mix and continue whisking until you have a fairly liquid cake batter with no streaks.



Add the almond mixture down the side of the bowl and fold in gently.

( Confession here, I accidentally dumped it in the middle and gave it a brisk whisk before I realised what I’d done and stopped. Didn’t make an ounce of a difference to the end result thankfully! 😂😂😂)


Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes OR until a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.


Now my cake took roughly 85 minutes in the fan forced oven at 170 degrees and I covered it with a loose sheet of aluminium foil halfway through as I tested it at 50 minutes and no way was it anywhere near cooked. Always go by the skewer method or if the cake springs back when pressed gently in centre.

When the cake is cooked, leave in the tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack.

This cake is the easiest fudge like chocolate cake I’ve ever made and I have tassybakes.com to thank. It was originally served with a chocolate ganache topping which would be divine for a special occasion but I didn’t go down that path this time. Go visit her blog. It’s a beauty!

Here’s a couple of pictures of how I served it but it was also just dandy sans any additions with my cuppa 😋


With a light dusting of icing sugar.


With a healthy serve of coffee gelato 😋😋😋😋😋

Bon appetit!

Malaysian style chicken.

I’m back after a nice long break. I’ve had long service leave and we’ve been renovating our ensuite bathroom for the last couple of months and it is finally finished with all but the painting to go now 😃. The following recipe is from the UK version of delicious magazine and we had it for tea tonight. It is a very tasty dish that you could make as hot or mild as you like. Very easy to make as well and I followed the recipe to the letter first time around. I will make a couple of small changes next time I make it by using fresh grated ginger rather than ground ginger powder.

Ingredients.

Vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil)

8 free-range chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves

4 medium-hot red chillies

1 lemongrass stalk, sliced finely, white part only

1 tablespoon ground ginger

Groundnut oil

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

5 kaffir lime leaves

400ml coconut milk

100ml chicken stock

2 teaspoons palm sugar , optional

Fish sauce

Wedges of lime to serve
Method

Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken thighs, skin side down until the skin is crisp and golden. Remove the chicken and set aside.

  
  

Blend in a food processor the onions, garlic, chillies, lemongrass, ginger and a good glug of groundnut oil.

  
Fry this paste in the pan you partially cooked the chicken in over medium heat for a couple of minutes, add the turmeric, cinnamon stick, star anise and kaffir lime leaves, then fry for three minutes.

  
  
Stir in the coconut milk and chicken stock, sit the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side up, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is just cooked and the sauce has reduced. Add the sugar and fish sauce. Serve with lime wedges go squeeze over.

  
  
  
Serve over white fluffy rice and enjoy!

  
Bon appetit! 

Gluten free Parkin.

Tis the season for all those lovely Christmas flavours to be swirling around the house. So far I’ve made 9 Christmas puddings and two Christmas cakes. My refrigerator is groaning with cake and pudding. Two of the puddings and one of the cakes are gluten free for my dearly beloved and I and the rest are all gifts for family and the odd friend. I made a non gluten free version of Parkin for my end of year work party which went down well so I made another one for my husband that he could eat without gluten or the rolled oats. I was more than a tad concerned about what to substitute for the oats and settled on quinoa flakes as they looked very similar in structure.

First assemble all that you’ll need to bake with.

  
Ingredients.

200g butter

1 large egg

4 tablespoons milk

200g golden syrup

85g treacle

85g light brown sugar

100g quinoa flakes

250g gluten free self raising flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

Heat your oven to 160C or a bit less if fan forced. Grease a deep 22cm/9in square cake tin and line with baking paper.

  
Gently melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter together until the sugar has dissolved. 

 
Remove from the heat. 

 
Mix together the quinoa flakes , the GF flour and ginger.   

 
Stir in the syrup mixture, followed by the combined egg and milk (lightly beaten together).

  
  
  
Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 50 mins to an hour until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top.

  
Cool in the tin then wrap in more baking paper and foil and keep for 3-5 days before eating if you can as it apparently becomes softer and stickier the longer you leave it, up to two weeks. 

  
I had to eat this as it smelt so lovely. It worked really well using the substitute quinoa flakes. The flavour is the same as is the texture.  Well worth making but I don’t know how your meant to leave it for a few days. That just won’t be happening 😂😂😂😂😂.

Bon appetit!

 

Spiced honey cake, gluten free.

I’m always on the look out for a tasty recipe that my husband can eat as well. Even though this wasn’t originally designed to be gluten free, I made it this morning by substituting the regular flour out and replacing it with a commercial brand of gluten free plain flour and it turned out just perfect 😋

It is from the latest issue of delicious.uk I think and I thought I’d give it a go. 

Spiced Honey cake.

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter

100g light brown (muscovado) sugar

100g golden caster sugar

175g clear honey

2 medium eggs, beaten

260ml milk (I used buttermilk)

325g plain GF flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp each of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

50g candied mixed and chopped peel

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange (optional) I didn’t  use it.

Preheat the oven to 150 C/fan forced 130-140 C and lightly butter and line a loaf tin (22cm x 12cm x 7cm)

Put the butter, sugars and honey in a pan and stir over a low heat until melted. Leave to cool slightly, then stir in the beaten eggs and milk. I used a Pyrex jug in my microwave on high for 2 minutes which worked just as well. Give it a good stir.

  
  
  

Sift together the flour and salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and all the spices. Add the  caraway seeds and candied peel and make a well in the centre.

  
  
  
Add the butter mixture and beat until smooth. You can add the zest of the lemon and orange here if using.

  
  
Pour the batter into the loaf tin, then bake for 1 1/4 hours or until firm to the touch and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

  
  
This recipe comes with a honey glaze topping which I haven’t used but the recipe follows.

Honey glaze.

1 tbsp clear honey

1 tbsp milk

60g icing sugar

Warm the honey in a small pan. Mix in the milk and icing sugar until smooth. Brush over the cake, then leave to cool completely.

  
It is really delicious and I believe it would also be nice served with butter as well. 

Bon appetit! 

Gathering myself.

We all have times when we just have nothing to say. We look on as observers and take in others words and ideas and process them in our minds. I’ve been doing this for a few months now. It is mental health week in Australia this week and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years it’s to heal yourself or ask for help with healing yourself before you can go help others. I’m of no use to anyone if I’m not dealing with my own problems. 

So I have been gathering myself up and resting mindfully 😊. I have been baking, eating , going to concerts, drinking nice wine and more than the odd glass of pear cider, enjoying time with my husband and going to work.  I have four books on the go at the moment by various authors like Stephen King, Terry   Pratchett, James Patterson and Jonathan Kellerman that I pick up and read a few pages of and can put down if I like. I’ve been playing the odd computer game or two. Nothing like beating the aliens to destress 😉. 

  
This is a Dundee cake I made yesterday from a recipe from Liz at My Favourite Pastime blog. It’s meant to taste better and better the longer you leave it but it will be attacked with joy today. I’ve brushed it over twice with Henneseys Cognac and I made it with gluten free flour so Jason can enjoy it as well. 

  
This is a Chicken and Leek pie made with GF pastry. Wonderful way of using up left over roast chicken 😋. 

  
This is my dear old cat Bubbles loving her brown paper bag. 

   
 
These two photos show a gorgeous native creeper we have here called Hardenbergia. 

  
This is a hybrid of a native kangaroo paw flower. Don’t know it’s scientific name of the top of my head. A lovely splash of colour.

I’ll be back in blog ville very soon dear readers. Thank you for your patience 😄

Lamb shank casserole.

Now I must tell you all that this is not a classically pretty dish to photograph but I can assure everyone that it is very easy to make and tasty to eat on those cold winters nights we are currently getting here in the far south of Western Australia. It is also a meal that needn’t cost the earth to make if you can source some cheap lamb shanks from your butcher or local supermarket. 

The ingredients are purely whatever you have to hand really and these are what I had in my pantry cupboard.

Serves 2

2 lamb shanks

1 tin of tomatoes, 400-440 Gm crushed or diced

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 carrot, roughly chopped

A couple of handfuls of Puy lentils, or others of your liking, even barley will do.

500 ml of good stock, beef, chicken or even vegetable

Plain flour (I used sorghum) salt and pepper to dust the shanks 

2 tablespoons roughly of oil

If you have a handful of dried porcini mushrooms, chuck them in too 😀
Firstly, dust the shanks in the combined seasoned flour then brown in a little oil in a frying pan.

  
Next , place the browned shanks in a heavy based casserole dish or pan. After doing this step,  I like to add the stock and dried mushrooms if I have any to the frying pan to lift up any caramelised bits before I pour this over the top of the lamb shanks.

After putting the lamb shanks in the casserole, place all the other ingredients on top.

  
  
Now all you have to do is cover the dish with either the lid or a good layer of foil/baking paper and place in a preheated 160-170 degree Celsius oven for 2 -2 1/2 hours. 

  
Serve with mashed potato, rice or like I did, a big baked potato and enjoy the sticky soft lamb and yummy sauce.

  
Bon appetit! 

Krung Kaeng Masaman Curry Paste

I’ve been making a few curry pastes of late. I like the ones that are not too hot but are deliciously spicy non the less 😄. My husband Jason is my standard of approval for all my baking and him being a sufferer of Coeliac disease, I’m always on the lookout for tasty gluten free meals. This has quite a few ingredients but is such a lovely paste to make and the curry it makes is quite sublime.

First get your ingredients together.

  
2 teaspoons chilli powder

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon shredded lemon grass

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 

1/2 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg

2 tablespoons oil

2 medium sized onions, finely sliced

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste, roasted
Heat the oil in a frying pan and on a low heat fry the sliced onions and garlic till soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the dried shrimp paste and fry for a minute longer, crushing it in the oil. 

  
  
Put this fried mixture into a blender or small food processor with the lemon grass and the rest of the dry spices and blend to a paste. You can add a little water to help it along if needed. I didn’t need it 😄. 

  
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the curry it made but have included that recipe as well. It is so nice and tastes even better reheated the next day.

Kaeng Masaman curry.

1kg diced beef

4 cups of coconut milk

1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

5-8 whole uncrushed cardamom pods 

1 stick of cinnamon

1quantity of Masaman curry paste

3 tablespoons tamarind liquid

2 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice

1-2 tablespoons palm sugar
Put into large saucepan the meat, coconut milk, peanuts, fish sauce, cardamom pods and cinnamon quill. Bring slowly to simmering point, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, about an hour. Do not cover at any stage or the coconut milk will curdle.

When the meat is tender, lift it out into a clean bowl with a slotted spoon and simmer the coconut milk a little longer until it is reduced by about a third. If it has already reduced a lot during cooking, omit this part. Add the curry paste, tamarind liquid, lemon juice and palm sugar now. Add back the beef to the pan and continue simmering until the gravy has thickened slightly. Serve with rice.

Apologies for no photos here but I can assure you that this is one of our favourite curries. I found it strange to add the actual curry paste at the end but it all worked out well and the taste was lovely. 

Bon appetit!

Fish Stock

Wow! Time sure does fly when your busy doing other things. This is a shortish post showing you all how to make one of the best fish stocks from scratch. I’ve followed the delectable Maggie Beers recipe and couldn’t quite relate to how short the time is that it takes to cook. 😍. My chicken and beef stocks take up to five hours to make to leach the most flavour out of those bones but fish stock is very quick to make. I use this in my Thai Green Curry risotto, fish stews, anything else that requires a fish stock base 😊.  Ingredients. 1kg snapper heads 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 leek, finely chopped 1 carrot, finely chopped 1/2 stick celery, finely chopped 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup dry white wine (125ml) 1.5-2 litres cold water 10 stalks flat leaf parsley 1 sprig of thyme 1 bay leaf    Clean all blood and innards out of the snapper head and discard the gills also. Rinse the head and wings thoroughly. As you can see, I’ve used one massive snapper head and the set of wings that came with it. I love my local Fishermans boatshed market on a Sunday 😍    Put all the chopped vegetables into your big stock pot with the butter and sweat them over a low heat for 2 minutes, do not allow them to brown.     Add the fish head/s and wings ,if using, and sweat them for a minute more. (As my fish head and wings were so huge, I cut the joined wings in half to fit them in)    Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine and boil vigorously for a few minutes. Pour in the cold water, then add the herbs and simmer gently over low heat for 20 minutes, without allowing the stock to boil at any stage. It will become cloudy if allowed to boil.     I cooked my stock for 30 minutes but only because I wanted to make sure I got everything out of the huge fish head and wings.  Strain the stock through a fine sieve or muslin to give a good clear stock. I used both. Allow the strained stock to cool, then freeze or refrigerate if you are not going to be using it that very day.     I bagged my stock up into 500ml bags with a little left over in a 400ml bag and froze it flat for ease of defrosting when I need it 😀. As I bagged it the day after I made it, it had become all jelly like. Yummy!    You can freeze this stock for up to three months. Enjoy making those lovely soups, stews, risottos and Asian dishes .

Thai Green Curry Prawn Risotto

Well hello everybody! Apologies for the long break in blogging. Sometimes it’s good to have a break to recharge the batteries and that’s what I’ve been doing 😄 I also turned 50 on Monday the 20th! 

I’m going through a happy phase of making different curry pastes for freezing for future meals and this green curry paste caught my eye. It’s not too hot at all (but you can add as much green chilli as you like) and is full of lovely flavours. I teamed it up with a prawn risotto and the most delicious meal transpired. I hope you all enjoy it as much as Jason and I did. 

Green curry paste.

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

6 white peppercorns

1 teaspoon roasted shrimp paste (belechan)

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 

4 coriander roots and stems, roughly chopped

2 lemongrass stems, pale part only, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger or galangal ( I used ginger)

2 large green chillies , seeds removed and roughly chopped (you could use the smaller hotter ones and double for more heat)

4 kafir lime leaves, spine removed, roughly chopped

2 red eschalots, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Toast coriander and cumin seeds with the peppercorns in a small frypan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Cool slightly then grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. 

If you can’t find pre-roasted shrimp paste, wrap the teaspoon of shrimp paste in foil and toast in a frypan over medium heat for 1 minute each side to toast slightly. Cool. I then added all the other ingredients to my little stick blender and processor attachment along with the toasted and dried spices and shrimp paste and a tablespoon of water and whizzed the heck out of it 😄. You can bash it up first if you like in the mortar and pestle but I just went  down the easy path and it turned out just fine.

  
Now for the making of the risotto.

Thai green curry prawn risotto.

12 big green prawn, shells and tails removed

750 ml fish, chicken or vegetable stock ( I used my homemade chicken stock) , simmering on stove

1 tablespoon of neutral flavoured oil, (I use rice bran)

1 onion, finely diced

2 -3 tablespoons of your lovely green curry paste

2 kafir lime leaves, finely sliced

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

1 garlic clove, crushed

200 gm arborio risotto rice

150ml coconut cream or milk

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

Good pinch of salt
Put your green prawn flesh in a bowl and add a couple of teaspoons of your green curry paste and stir through. Set aside to marinate whilst the risotto is cooking.

  
Heat the oil in your pan (I used a wide soup pot😊), over low heat and gently fry the onion for 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir in your green curry paste, cook for a few seconds, then add the kafir lime leaves, the ginger, garlic and rice, and cook for a further minute, stirring.

  
Start adding your hot stock, one ladleful at a time, waiting for the stock to be absorbed each time. Continue until all the stock has been used, stirring occasionally to stop sticking. When the rice is cooked to your liking, add the pinch of salt to taste,  pour in the coconut cream or milk and add the raw prawns. Cook till coconut cream is absorbed and the prawns are cooked. Add the lime rind and turn the heat off.

  
This was such a delightful dish to make and eat. Very light and delicately flavoured, not too spicy. I have at least another two risotto meals or curries I can make out of the rest of the paste that was made now stored in my freezer! 

  
Bon appetit!

Friday night Seafood Laksa.

After a stressful and hectic work week, I was craving something tasty, but with a little bit of a difference, to make for our tea. Jason had gone home early from the high school he teaches at with the flu and had a sore throat. What a coincidence it was to discover the latest edition of Dish magazine in my email box with the perfect recipe for Laksa in it! Like Jewish Chicken soup but Thai and made with seafood! I’ve never made a laksa from scratch but the recipe was easy to follow and quick to make. 

First assemble your ingredients for the laksa paste.



Laksa paste ingredients.

1 small red chilli, de seeded

1 stalk of lemongrass, centre only

6 coriander stalks 

4 cloves garlic , chopped

2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons shrimp paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric 

2 tablespoons rice bran or peanut oil

To make the paste, put all ingredients bar the oil in a small food processor, blend whilst adding oil. You could also pound the ingredients in a mortar and pestle if you feel like working out that stress 😉. I just put everything, including the oil in my little processor and whizzed away. It turned out just fine. 



Now you can assemble all your other ingredients for the soup.



4-6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon peanut or rice bran oil

1 1/2 cups of  fish stock

2 kaffir lime leaves , thinly sliced

400ml coconut milk

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Pepper and salt

115gm rice noodles

12 large raw prawns, peeled

100gm firm fleshed fish, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup bean sprouts

Fresh coriander sprigs to garnish

In a medium saucepan over a low heat, gently cook the sliced mushrooms in the oil for one minute. Add the fresh laksa paste and cook for another minute or until it smells fragrant.





Add stock, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and ginger. Gently simmer for 7-10 minutes , then taste and season if needed with sea salt and black pepper.



While the soup is cooking, soak the rice noodles in hot water as per packet instructions. I soaked the vermicelli rice noodles I used for no more than five minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Add prawns and fish pieces to soup and cook till the fish is opaque. Drop in the sprouts and remove from heat.



Divide the noodles between serving bowls. Ladle the soup over noodles and garnish with coriander.



This was such a satisfying dish to make and eat. I’m sure you will all enjoy it as much as we did. 

Bon appetit!