Baby Oh Baby & Coconut Lemon Syrup Cake

August 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

Up until the other week I had no idea what a “Gender Reveal Party” was.  And no – get your minds from the gutter – I’m not talking a big ‘coming out’ or anything of the sorts!!!  This kind of party involves all things of shades pale blue and soft pink, wee knitted booties and balloons in aforementioned tints.

Mallory, the besotted and beautiful Mummy to be is half-way through her journey into the land of ‘bump’ (or “bean” as everyone fondly talks of her beautifully shaped belly).

A few Sundays ago was a blissful afternoon, filled with warmth, laughter, family and friendships – all gathering to celebrate the revelation of whether her wee ‘bean’ would be a girl or a boy. I was honoured and secretly (or not so secretly) delighted to be gifted with the task of creating the main stage centerpiece – the “reveal cake”. No small feat. And something totally new to me.

We decided upon a Coconut Lemon Syrup layer cake.  Tiered to the hilt and slathered in melt in your mouth cream cheese icing and generous dollops of home made lemon curd.  This cake is decadently moist and has a beautiful rich texture due to the long shred coconut and syrupy lemon sweetness. One slice (no matter how big!) may not be enough – be warned!

On cutting – all was revealed – a center brimming this layer cake with the bluest of jellybeans.

So congratulations sweet Mallory (& Andrew) on your arrival to come. A boy of blue.

There is nothing sweeter than the life we give. x

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The below recipe has been adapted with love from the best bakers out. They turn out marvelous creations like no other. Be sure to check out little & friday. You will be equally smitten.

Coconut Lemon Syrup Cake

Makes 4 Tiers (one huge layer cake!)

  1. 400g unsalted butter, softened
  2. zest of 4 lemons
  3. 3 & 1/4 cups of caster sugar
  4. 3 & 1/4 cups of self raising flour, sifted
  5. 6 & 1/2 cups of coconut thread
  6. 1 & 1/2 cups sour cream

Lemon Syrup

  1. 1 & 3/4 cups caster sugar
  2. 3/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  3. 2 & 3/4 cups of water
  4. 3 tbs lemon zest

Lemon Curd

  1. 125g unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup caster sugar
  3. 4 lemons, juice & zest
  4. 3 large eggs

To make the lemon curd:

Place all ingredients except the eggs in a large metal bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until the sugar has dissolved completely.  Check this by dipping your finger in and rubbing your fingers together – it is not ready if the consistency is still grainy.

Remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer then add to the sugary butter mixture, continuing to beat til well combined.

Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the zest then place back over the simmering water and cook slowly until thick enough to coat a spoon.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. (this goes beautifully on grainy toast too!).

To make the lemon syrup:

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and boil away for about 5 minutes until slightly syrupy.

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius. Grease x4 21cm cake tins (I used the silicon cake tins so didn’t have to grease or line. super easy and the cakes tipped out perfectly!).

Beat the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy in colour.  Add in the eggs one at a time making sure to beat really well after each addition.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix to combine (don’t beat heavily at this point – you want to just combine the flour & baking powder so you still get a really light cake). Lastly fold through the coconut thread and sour cream.

Pour into the prepared tins and bake for approx 30 – 40mins. The cakes will be done when they are slightly springy to touch. Make sure not to over cook.

When the cakes are cooked, pull from the oven and immediately pour the hot lemon syrup over each of the cakes. This will absorb into the cakes as they cool and add to the refreshing zingy lemonyness of them!

When completely cool, assembled the cakes on a cake stand. Spread a decent layer of lemon curd followed by a good slathering of cream cheese icing then another layer of cake. Repeat the process piling each cake layer on top of the next.  Decorate with flowers and dollops of lemon curd.

Yum!!!

ps – the inside of this cake is actually hollowed out to allow for the blue jellybean center. Silly me should have photographed this as I was layering it up!!!!! Guess thats what happens when you are winging it and still have to drive an hour to get to the ‘big reveal’ in time!! xx

Cocoa Blueberry Banana Ice Drink

August 13, 2013 § 5 Comments

yum. yum. yum. icy cool.

This has to be the ultimate go-to drink on those afternoons when the energy levels stoop for no apparent reason. Loaded full of frozen blueberries, banana, cocoa and handfuls of ice – you cannot get anything more satisfyingly refreshing or slushy like.

I sat curled back in a chair under the verandahs eve, staring up at the sky as the clouds formed and passed on their way. Each mouthful spooned and savoured as the icy goodness melted against my tongue.

Sheer afternoon bliss.

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Cocoa Blueberry Banana Ice Drink

Makes 1 large glass (enough to share between 2 if you are feeling generous)

  1. 1/2 a heaped cup of frozen blueberries
  2. 1 large frozen banana, cubed
  3. 2 heaped tsps of good quality cocoa (or cacao)
  4. good handful of ice cubes (about 8 large ice cubes)
  5. enough coconut water to form a slushy consistency (about 1/3 cup)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend til smooth and icy like (just the right consistency to enjoy with a spoon rather than drinking through a straw). Add slightly more coconut water if required (but just add a tiny bit at a time til you get the slushy/icy consistency you are after)

Spoon into cups and dust with cocoa (or cacao) to finish.

Enjoy straight away.

Paleo Bread

August 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

This here decadent post came direct to my inbox the other day.

Ever since I have been non-stop dreaming about it and longing to recreate it for my very own. With visions of the numerous toppings it would be slathered with and devoured – avocado with cracked pepper and sea salt. Ricotta with the reddest tomatoes and torn fresh basil. Drizzle upon drizzle of hazelnut oil then more to mop the dripped residue left lingering on the plate.

Seriously, the list is long. And, because this Paleo Bread is so nutrient dense and good for you – I know I will have endless months to create topping after topping til my hearts content as it looks to be a weekly feature in our household. Thank you David and Luise!

So, with that said, feast your eyes. Switch your oven on.  Get your toppings ready!!

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Paleo Bread

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With the Paleo Bread recipe below, I used what I had on hand in the cupboard. Usually the cupboards are well stocked with both hazelnuts and almonds which David and Luise use in their recipe (which would have been utterly delectable!), but I was well and truly out yesterday!  So, I tweaked the quantities around, added the nuts and seeds I did have on hand and incorporated some black sesame seeds for a bit of extra colour.

They turned out beautifully, were readily devoured and a few popped away in the fridge for tomorrows breakfast. Truly cannot wait to make them again!  Feel free to play around with whatever nuts and seeds you have on hand – am sure they will turn out just as good!

Paleo Bread

Makes approx 9 individual buns

  1. 1 tbs psyllium husks
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 3/4 cup white sesame seeds
  4. 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
  5. 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  6. 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  7. 1/4 cup flax seeds
  8. 1 tsp sea salt
  9. 1 1/2 tbs good quality olive oil (i used organic cold pressed)
  10. 1 big handful of raisins or currants

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

In a jar/jug combine the psyllium husks and the water. Stir to combine then set aside for about 5 minutes to form a gel like consistency.

Cut all the chunky seeds roughly then combine all seeds into a mixing bowl.  Stir through the sea salt and olive oil til well coated, then stir through the psyllium gel.

Allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour.  This allows everything to bind together a bit better.

Spoon into greased muffin tins (the above recipe will fill approx 9 of the 12 cups) and bake in the oven for about 40 – 45 min.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into them (this is to give the centers time to dry).

NB: Lasts covered in the fridge for about a week and is able to freeze easily too.

Crackle Bar

August 10, 2013 § 2 Comments

Its a cloudy day out today.  A foggy haze lingers, hugging the hilltops with its breath, content to rest sleepily, idly.

We have had  a busy morning amidst bus ride adventures to town to forage through the city library and sit cosied up on beanbags, towers of books peering over us, monsters and dinosaurs of every colour, size and shape staring back at us from the paper pages thumbed under fingers.

It has been a delightful morning, one completed by the most perfect macchiato, flat white and chocolate dusted fluffy in the warming surrounds of Under The Red Verandah (UTRV). Seriously worth a visit if you have yet to go there.

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And now, upon returning home I’m enjoying being perched at the breakfast bar, savouring the lingering scent of this delicious nutty paleo bread wafting from the oven as it bakes away (oh the anticipation for its goodness isn’t coming fast enough!!).

But, the point! These lovely ‘Crackle Bars’ below are a great addition to any lunchbox and survive many a bus ride. Little or big kid alike will delight in their goodness and readily devour them. They have been adapted from a recipe in Simon Bryant’s “Vegies” cookbook and I seriously cannot rave enough about them.  Being vegan, gluten and dairy free (if not coating with the chocolate) they will leave you fully satisfied and ease that sweet tooth should you be needing a little boost of sweetener come mid afternoon.

If you were a little kid, would you be excited to discover these in your lunch box?

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Crackle Bars

  1. 1/2 cup Almonds, chopped
  2. 1/2 cup Brazil nuts, chopped
  3. 1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup Sesame Seeds
  5. 1/2 cup Dried Apricots, chopped
  6. 1/2 cup Dried Figs, chopped
  7. 1/2 cup Coconut, shredded
  8. 3/4 cup Puffed Rice (“Ricies”)
  9. 1/2 cup Honey, melted
  10. 1/2 cup Tahini
  11. 1/4 cup Peanut Butter
  12. 3/4 cup LSA

In a large bowl combine the almonds,brazil nuts, sesame seeds, apricots, figs, pumpkin seeds, coconut and puffed rice.  Toss to combine.

In a pot over a low heat combine the honey, tahini and peanut butter.  Heat through til the honey is just melted.

Pour over the nutty/seed mixture and stir til everything is lovely and coated in the honey mixture. Add in the LSA and stir to combine.

NB: The LSA is what binds this all together.

Pour into one large slice tin (make sure you have lined it with baking paper first or your slice will stick!).  Press down firmly and pop into the fridge to firm up for about 20 minutes or so. You can also pop them in the freezer to cool down quickly if you are in a bit of a hurry!!! You want your bars to be about 1.5cm thick or thicker.

This bit is optional: When cool and holding together, slice into muesli bar sized wedges and coat the tops with dark chocolate (70% works & tastes best!).

Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Shredded Red Cabbage Salad

August 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today is a day for salad. For colours of vibrant purple, richest greens and dazzling hues that only the contrasting of avocados and salty feta can bring.

Truly a visual delight, this salad will leave your taste buds tingling, your mouth watering and add a renewed energy to your step.

If I’d had some pumpkin seeds on hand, these would have gone brilliantly, lightly toasted and tossed in for some additional crunch. Feel free to add your own liberties to the recipe below x

Shredded Red Cabbage and Pumpkin Salad

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Shredded Red Cabbage and Pumpkin Salad with Avocado and Feta

Serves 4 as a side (2  as a main)

  1. 1/2 a small red cabbage, shredded (1/4 of a large one)
  2. 1 cup of pumpkin, cubed and roasted
  3. 1 avocado, peeled and cubed
  4. 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  5. few handfuls of rocket

Dressing:

  1. Glug of olive oil
  2. 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
  3. Juice & Zest of 1 lemon
  4. Salt & Pepper to taste

To make the dressing combine all the above ingredients and stir briskly to combine. Set aside.

To make the salad:

Season pumpkin with salt & pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and allow to roast away in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius until golden in colour and tender to the bite (about 20 – 25 mins).

In a bowl combine the rocket, shredded red cabbage, cooled roasted pumpkin, avocado and feta. Drizzle with the dressing and toss lightly to combine.

Enjoy x

Pick me up

August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Quinoa and me go together like cinnamon and grainy raisin toast, slow roasted banana and maple, succulent figs and drizzly manuka honey, hand picked coriander paired with fish straight from the ocean or warm baked bread drizzled with hazelnut oil (seriously – you should try it!).

We are an inseparable breakfast combination. Especially during winter. And especially since waking at midnight last night to a little lad struggling to keep his dinner down. Let me tell you – organic lamb sausages and broccoli are far from a winning combination.  And definitely not on fresh white sheets.

Oh for the sound of deep sleep, sunny rays to dry clean sheets and those midnight cuddles with eyes longing so much for a restful and blissful slumber.

If it weren’t for this winning combo of banana, mango, raspberries, shredded coconut, rice milk and quinoa,  I’m sure our meander along the beach wouldn’t have been half as energetic this morning, considering the night we have just had.

All I can say is ‘Thank God for Quinoa’!!!!!

Apologies for the shortness of this post and quality of photographs. I shot these frames off seconds before my camera battery cried out to be recharged! Yes – not a priority at 7am this morning.

Enjoy x

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Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Banana, Mango, Coconut and Raspberries

Serves 1

  1. 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked using ratio 1:2
  2. half large banana, roughly chopped (or 1 small banana)
  3. 1/2 ripe mango, cubed
  4. handful of raspberries
  5. 1/4 cup long shred coconut
  6. drizzly goodness of rice milk (or milk of your choosing – almond milk is totally delicious too!)

Rinse and cook your quinoa using water ratio of 1:2.  During the last few moments of cooking, add in the roughly chopped banana, mushing through slightly with a fork to combine. (if you find the quinoa isn’t quite cooked – add slightly more water before adding the banana).

Spoon into a bowl while still hot and decorate with the mango, raspberries and coconut. Drizzle with rice milk (or your fav milk of choice!).

NB: I love the mushy sweetness and texture that the banana adds to the quinoa. It gives it a really creamy porridgy consistency –  definitely a go to comfort meal!

NB 2: If you are new to cooking quinoa, this is a great link to read.

Sharing the sweetness

July 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

The other day I had to make up a wee sweet box of treaty delights for a tasting sampler.  I wanted to create something that captured the senses, made the mouth water and upon tasting melted each person to the core with its textures and flavours, as close to it’s natural state as possible – real and untainted.

It saddens me that food has gotten so commercial. So plastic in its appearance and taste.  That we consume so much into our bodies in a rush to calm that hunger pang that we do not consider whether the thing we are eating is fueling our body with good or rather injecting so much sugar and so much processed that our body is tricked into thinking that this stuff is good for us.

Now, I definitely cannot promise that these tarts are ‘good’ for you in the health sense kind of way. But, I can promise that they taste as you once may remember food. Food the kind your Nana may have made, having beat the yellows of the eggs til they were pale in colour and voluminous in texture – the old fashioned way, watching the milk heat just to simmering point but definitely not a split second over, adding just the right amount of vanilla ensuring you scraped every seed possible from the pod, dipping a finger into the couli to double check the raspberries had just the right amount of zing – no extra sugar necessary – let them sing of their season.

It is my hope that you will enjoy the imagery below and delight in the moments you have cherished with your loved ones baking in the kitchen and linger just that one moment longer before deciding to opt for the supermarket variety of cake or biscuit.

For is not the kitchen the heart to every home and should not the realness of food be tasted in all its beauty?

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Images of tarts above:  Slow Roasted Rhubarb and Vanilla Bean, Sticky Pear, Gooey Caramel and Walnut, Black Cherry with Frangipani and Vanilla Bean, Little Muddy Chocolate Cakes with Caramello and Cream Cheese

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