Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chocolate Orange Cake inspired by the Nigellas

Check out this recipe from Nigella Lawson – a flourless chocolate orange cake that is very simple and tastes fantastic.

It’s from her Feast cookbook although there are a couple of printing discrepancies in the recipe. Thank goodness for the internet and indignant bakers for setting it right (eg. the recipe says to cream the butter and sugar even though there is no butter in the recipe). I also mixed the batter by hand rather than in a food processor, and the recipe neglects to mention the baking powder and bicarb soda (I just threw them into the mix anyway).

Anyhoo, apart from boiling the oranges for two hours (after which the house smelt of … oranges), the rest was very easy. I love to decorate and though it is a plain looking cake to begin with, you can go overboard with cocoa powder, shaved chocolate and so on. And, of course, I just had to use my new cake stand from Wheel and Barrow…

The recipe is below, with the bugs corrected.

Chocolate Orange Cake

2 small or 1 large thin-skinned orange, approx. 375g total weight (I weighed the oranges after they had been cooked)
6 eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g ground almonds (almond meal)
250g caster sugar
50g cocoa
orange peel for decoration, if wished

Put the whole orange or oranges in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft. Drain and, when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips. Then pulp everything – pith, peel and all – in a food processor, or see below if you're proceeding by hand.

Once the fruit is cold, or near cold, preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Butter and line a 20cm springform tin.

Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run the motor until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but still slightly knobbly with the flecks of pureed orange.

Or you could chop the fruit finely by hand, and with a wooden spoon beat the eggs one by one into the sugar, alternating with spoons of mixed ground almond and cocoa, baking powder and bicarb soda, then the oranges.

Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a cake tester should come out pretty well clean. Check after 45 minutes because you may have to cover it with foil to prevent the cake from burning before it is cooked through, or indeed it may need a little less than an hour; it all depends on your oven.

Leave the cake to get cool in the tin, on a cooling rack. When the cake is cold you can take it out of the tin. Decorate with strips of orange peel or coarsely grated zest if you so wish.

Makes about 8 slices.

Recipe adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson

And appropriately (because of the Nigella reference!), this is my entry in Not Quite Nigella’s
Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge. Check it out!

Friday, November 28, 2008

a Community Service announcement

Thinking of popping into Adriano Zumbo Patissier but worried that you'll freak out when confronted with too much choice? Let me help.

Here are some of the gateaux from the summer range. Choose wisely, grasshopper, the road to weight gain is paved with amazing cakes.

And then there's this one - Craigie bam! Chocolate dacquoise and sabayon with salted caramel debris, choc caramel cremeaux and caramel mousse. Sweet!

And for lunch today, I had the lovely Quiche Charlie (potato and chorizo). I normally have the Quiche Sue (blueberries, goat cheese and spinach), but I'm going for Charlie from now on.
Also picked up some of the new macaron flavours:

I mentioned to the cake dude about the descension of foodbloggers on Sunday, to which he replied, "Uh. Cool".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Eat, my Pretties..., eat!

Today’s Zumbo cake is brought to you by bf (or, more accurately, bought for me by bf). It is not the type of cake that I would go for at first glance because it reminds me of … a witch (surrounded by warts of coconut macaroon). Or if you are less easily scared, then it looks like a witch’s hat.

And for those kind friends who’ve tagged me in the past, I might not have responded because there’s not much that’s interesting about me. EXCEPT that I am frightened of green witches. And this cake is a dead-ringer for Witchie Poo or the Wicked Witch of the West **ooh, shivers!**.

Which is all moot, because its real name is ‘Dr Apple’. Maybe Dr Apple’s mother was a witch?

But when I peeled off the green skin, what revealed itself but a heart of pure Pointy, apple cider hat and all!

So maybe its not so bad. After all, some witches (blond ones, like Sabrina or Samantha Stevens) are good witches.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas cards 2008 – ahead of the game!

I finally found time to finish making this year’s Christmas cards, and, believe the hype, they are nothing short of sensational (alright, I’m exaggerating a bit here; they are just OK).

It’s always a strain coming up with ideas, and this time was no different. Especially since 2008 was the year I discovered online scrapbooking shops (hence lots of unused purchases) and my friend Lin Mei became a Stampin’ Up demonstrator (pressure to make something presentable). Which is why I motivated myself with a Ferrero Rocher chocolate after completing every 3 cards.

I settled for the same basic idea for all the cards: stamping on acetate using stazon ink, then embellished with cuttlebug card, ribbon, and stamped image. I didn’t end up using much of my scrapbooking paper (hello Doodlebug velvet embossed, you are still pure and uncut), which begs the question, what the heck am I saving it for??!! (that’s a rhetorical question, no response required).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

my dreams are slowly coming true...

When bf walked through the door today, I nearly swooned. Because he was holding a Zumbo box containing the following cake. My favorite flavour is lychee, so this creation is heaven on a plate. The name is a mystery though ('Have a chat Kai'?? what the?). Can anyone enlighten?

This is a very light cake, but no less delicious. Just makes you want another one. Immediately.

Even Tabitha cat was impressed:

There is also another new white chocolate-looking cake that I am going to gaze at tomorrow. Till then, byeee!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I wish I was on the lounge, too...

Here's today's ration of cake from the Adriano Zumbo collection. The nice cake boy at the shop had the description of this down pat, but I was too excited by the words 'licorice', 'mango' and 'raspberry' to remember what it was.
The discs of licorice around the cake are a soft jelly, with an intense aniseed flavour - bliss if you like licorice.

The name of the cake is 'on the lounge with Zumbo' - a reference to AZ's obsession with eating licorice over mango sorbet while sitting on the couch (as described in November's Gourmet Traveller blurb on Zumbo).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Zumbo cakes - go for it!

Yes, the new Adriano Zumbo cake range is out, and it’s full of the summer hues of oranges, reds and browns. I need to pace myself, so I’m limiting my cake intake to one per day, max.

There are no name tags as yet, so I’ll call the first one Pointy[1]
. It has a pistachio dacquoise base on which sits a wobbly mountain of creamy vanilla bavarois topped with an apple cider jelly summit. The jelly is studded with green apple pieces, and it’s quite alcoholic!

[1] O pointy birds, o pointy pointy,
Anoint my head, anointy-nointy

From The Man with 2 Brains

There are also some new macaron flavours – again, due to the self imposed limit, they will have to wait (although I think
Raging Yoghurt has had a go).

PS: Calling all fans - see you at Zumbo next weekend!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hey, the Donna Hay bandwagon rolls into town

It may be a bit unfashionable, but I’m into Donna Hay’s recipes, stylings and magazines. Sure, her instructions are getting brief to the point of being ‘cook ingredients’ and ‘serve on a plate’, but the recipes are good when you are out of ideas or time.

Which is the point of her latest book, ‘no time to cook’. DH was spruiking the book and launching a new range of cake/cookie mixes at David Jones and demo-ing some of the recipes. Surrounded by a posse of assistants, she was entertaining and efficient, whipping up 4 dishes from the new book and doing a good job of being a walking talking advert for all things DH. And it was all done in 3-inch heels and no apron (apparently, aprons are ‘so Mrs Doubtfire’).

She was ably assisted on stage by the dishy Steven, which prompted ladies in the audience to wonder if he came with a copy of the book (unfortunately, no).

We got a taste of the chocolate brownies at the end of the demo (‘it’s like I am in the kitchen with you’, DH kept saying). They were pretty good for a packet mix, so I bought a box, to be evaluated at a later date. I also got a copy of the signed book. Okay, so, I’ve fallen for the hype…

Not to let the inspiration go to waste, I made one of the recipes that night for dinner. It happened to be the one DH demoed as well, Shredded Rocket and Prawn Linguine. I have to say, it was not bad at all, though it took me longer to make because I didn’t have cute Steven to help peel the prawns. And as with all Donna Hay, it’s all in the presentation. Here is my take on it – what do you think?

So the cookbook gets a thumb up from me – a preponderance of chicken dishes, and mostly, they serve 2 (it’s easier to double the recipes, I suppose). I can’t wait to try the brownie mix next.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the 'I can't be bothered' salad

I don’t know about you, but with the warmer weather comes the ‘I can’t be bothered’ mantra. “I can’t be bothered making dinner, let’s eat out”, “I can’t be bothered eating out again, let’s get takeaway”, “Oh, not takeaway again, I may as well make something”.

This is the type of ‘something’ that usually ends up on the dinner table – light, not too many ingredients, and easily flung together on a warm day. It’s basically requires some shopping and chopping.

When making this, I modified the original recipe below to replace the capsicum with celery (as I didn’t have any capsicum), and I omitted the coriander and mint (as I hate coriander – some mint would have been nice, though). And the dressing is very tasty – make more!

Vietnamese noodle and smoked chicken salad

Serves 4


125g glass noodles (bean thread vermicelli or rice vermicelli)
2 skinless smoked chicken breast fillets (250g total), shredded
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red capsicum, cut into matchsticks
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups (90 g) bean sprouts
½ cup each coriander and mint leaves

1/3 cup (80 ml) lime juice
2 tbs caster sugar
2 tbs fish sauce


Soak the noodles in a bowl of boiling water for about 5 min. Drain, refresh under cold water and drain again.
Place noodles in a large bowl with the chicken, carrot, capsicum, chilli, bean sprouts and herbs.

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Pour the dressing over the salad, then toss well to combine and serve immediately.

Recipe from delicious. November 2008.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food and crowds - it’s the Glebe St Fair

It’s festival season in Sydney, and one of the most popular (and populous) is the Glebe St Fair. Part of Glebe Point Road is closed for this annual event (last Sunday) and it’s lined with stalls selling food, sunglasses, hats and earrings – there’s probably other stuff, too, but hats and sunglasses are at every second stall.

Like the Newtown Festival and Surry Hills Festival, the Glebe St Fair has a laid back inner city vibe about it, though not as hippy trippy as the other two. The stalls are pretty much the same at all of these events but there’s something about munching on a sausage in a roll that makes for a pretty good weekend. And Turkish Gozleme – what would a festival be without the ladies in headscarves turning over the gozleme (with a squeeze of lemon, mmmm!)

And dogs on leashes; can’t have a fair without cute doggies!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

T minus 4 days and counting…

It seems like only yesterday that I was filled with excitement at the launch of the winter Adriano Zumbo range. Well, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? The new range is due out this Saturday, according to the cake boy at the shop, so get in while you can for the wonderful Storm Cloud and co.

Today, I just got some ‘regular’ stuff. I’ve had the dulce de leche éclair before (omg, salted caramel chips on top!), though the Nutty Professor was a first for me. Paté sable, with hazelnuts and pistachios embedded in oozing vanilla caramel…bliss.

Tabitha cat just wishes yours truly would get over it already…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another trendy Balmain restaurant

We’ve been trying to get into this new Balmain restaurant (Wase Japanese Dining) since it opened about 2 months ago and it’s been booked out every Friday and Saturday night since. Honestly, it put me off a bit, because it’s only popular because it’s new, I thought. We finally got in on the weekend by turning up late-ish (8.45pm) and got seats at the long communal table. I would have preferred one of the booths that line the place, as they’re a bit more private, but we were given table seats instead.

The crowd is mainly couples or young groups, and the noise level can get high, though when we got there, most people were finishing up. The waitstaff are fairly efficient given how busy they must get. Interestingly, the one and only sushi chef has a camera trained on his workstation so you can see him preparing on a big screen (nice touch if you run out of conversation with your dining partner!).

We started with Nasu Dengaku (grilled eggplant, $12) and tempura soft shell crab ($18), both of which were good, though oily, which is to be expected with such dishes. The crab was moist and meaty and dark shelled rather than orange. Tasty.

The sushi and sashimi platter took a bit longer to arrive because they were busy (said the waitress). And the plate was tiny! The bf actually asked if it was the large size that we ordered. I think it’s a bit rich charging $32 for 14 pieces. The fish was fresh and good, but the cost didn’t leave a very nice taste. Lucky I wasn’t that hungry after eating a Zumbo apricot Danish (brekky) and passionfruit tart (afternoon tea) beforehand.

Overall, the food here is not bad though the value for money is not the best. I’m not sure I’d visit again because of the cost and the crowding at the communal table (again maybe cos it’s new and trendy). And I think the name of restaurant is wanky (what type of ‘real’ Japanese place calls itself ‘Japanese Dining’?). And the wonton font they’ve used on their sign outside is such a cliché. Sugoi sushi train or Samurai (both down the road) are a better bet if you’re after Japanese in Balmain. Sorry for the rant, I just felt like a bit of a whinge. Moaning Myrtle…out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

bistro cbd followed by cupcakes

Spring is the best time of year, I think, because the weather is brighter, the birds are singing and the flowers are out (great if you don’t have hay fever). It’s also when lots of friends have birthdays, so there are lots of opportunities for birthday lunches.

Such as when C. and I celebrated her birthday at Bistro CBD, in King St (CBD). It’s one of those ‘business lunch’ places that are filled (mostly) with blokes in suits. An upside of this is that these places usually have good service and are pretty quick if you have to get back to work.

Aside from the a la carte menu, they also have a ‘fixed rate feast’ where you can have 2 courses for $30 or 3 courses for $40 (available only at lunch). It’s excellent value, though naturally the course sizes are a bit smaller than the norm.

We both went for the ocean trout for starters. It was beautifully marinated with bits of cornichon and a piquant fennel and radicchio salad. My pork belly main was just right – right size, right crunchy skin, right moist meat. For dessert, we both had the tamarillo, which consisted of a poached fruit with matching sorbet. I thought the serving sizes were perfect, considering you probably wouldn’t want too much food before that afternoon meeting back at the office.

However…on the way back to said office, I passed by the Cupcake Bakery outlet underneath the Ivy complex in George St. So I thought I’d get some cakes to motivate my team. Well, everyone was certainly motivated! I (greedily) snaffled the red velvet cake mainly due to the little red icing love heart. The cake itself was a wonderful deep shade of red, but a bit dry. The overall voted winner was the tiramisu.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Perfect Weekend (part 2)

Here is the craft and cards part of last weekend, when we visited the Sydney Paper Crafts Festival, held at Canterbury Racecourse. Obviously, all the horses were resting up for the Melbourne Cup, so the track was deserted. Not so inside the function centre where the usual crowd of ladies and their fed up men were milling around the paper crafting stalls.

This was a smaller fair than, say, the
craft fair at Darling Harbour, which was a good thing, since I only had limited time to visit all the stalls before getting back on the bus to the Zumbo café. I also wanted to see my friend Lin Mei, who doing demos was at the Stampin’ Up! stand. The SU! stand was the most enticing, with the demonstrators’ creations adorning the wall. It looked really good. LM also did a great job showing off her wonderful stamping and colouring skills.

My highlight was finding some of the new KI Memories Sheer Delights transparencies, which are semi-opaque thick plastic sheets in modern prints with die cut edges. They are lovely enough to use as placemats. I think I should have bought more. I also got some Doodlebug Designs flocked paper (red design in the photo) which will work well on Christmas cards, and a Hambly Screen Print transparency.

And then we topped it off with hot chocolate and dessert at Zumbo. What more could I ask for? (Maybe a win in the office Cup sweep, but that was not to be).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Perfect Weekend

Craft, cards and chocolate – that’s my idea of the perfect weekend.

The chocolate part came courtesy of a foodblogger meetup at the new Zumbo café, which has now been open for 3 days. Time for another visit, naturally. This time,
chocolatesuze, Lorraine, Christina and Tim, and Richard gathered in the lounge area of the café to try the goods.

I don’t want to drool on the keyboard as I’m writing this, so I’ll give a brief writeup of the afternoon (and I’m sure my fellow chocolate lovers will also provide their views):

1. We made ourselves comfy under the stunning red chandelier. Thanks to Lorraine and Suze for getting there early to bags the best area.
2. The hot cherry ripe chocolate was soooo rich and delicious, just like a melted cherry ripe.
3. The waitstaff are really charming and efficient.
4. There were some savoury rolls available, but we were there for the sweets
5. The deconstructed Miss Marple was like the
original from the cake shop, and came with balls of tangy orange jelly and strawberries (and a hair). We ate around it (the hair) and gave it a thumbs up, especially the Grand Marnier-scented filling.
6. ‘I am not a hamburger’ is the name given to a macaron-topped dessert that is the complete opposite of a Big Mac (in a good way)
7. The special was a fondant and peanut butter ice cream creation that is injected with a syringe of raspberry crème. It is served in a kidney-shaped bowl. Hello, Nurse, indeed!
8. Apparently syringes can be purchased from medical supply or possibly cake supply stores. It also helps if you have a relative who is a doctor.
9. The red wine chocolate that I tried (and enjoyed) on my
first visit has a quite alarming name that I won’t repeat here. It caused some degree of mirth/amazement, however, when its name was confirmed.
10. We all agreed that there should be more places like this, where you can enjoy dessert after a meal. Bring it on.

Gosh, that was a bit longer than I’d planned. But we had a great time. Thanks, guys, for being so entertaining! Hope we can meet up for some more sweetness and light soon.

Oh, and where do the craft and cards, come into it? That will have to wait till the next post…