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
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!)
- 400g unsalted butter, softened
- zest of 4 lemons
- 3 & 1/4 cups of caster sugar
- 3 & 1/4 cups of self raising flour, sifted
- 6 & 1/2 cups of coconut thread
- 1 & 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 & 3/4 cups caster sugar
- 3/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 & 3/4 cups of water
- 3 tbs lemon zest
- 125g unsalted butter
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 4 lemons, juice & zest
- 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.
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
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.
Cocoa Blueberry Banana Ice Drink
Makes 1 large glass (enough to share between 2 if you are feeling generous)
- 1/2 a heaped cup of frozen blueberries
- 1 large frozen banana, cubed
- 2 heaped tsps of good quality cocoa (or cacao)
- good handful of ice cubes (about 8 large ice cubes)
- 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.
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?
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
July 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
As I write this, the sun is streaming in through the open glass doors, shadows lingering as they dance upon the rug and concrete underfoot. It is a delightful day. One that makes you forget all about the realities of being bang smack in the middle of winter. One can peel off the layers, kick shoes from the feet, wriggle toes in warm light and bask in the blissfulness that this sunny day has bought.
Not only that but also this ‘walking on cloud 9′ kind of feeling, one that has me wanting to share its goodness and impart a wee bit of sweetness to the day of another.
These little muddy choc cakes were whipped up in moments and found themselves wandering through the doors of the most beautiful design haven - Milou and straight into the mouth of the lovely creative talent behind it all - Lorelei Jenner.
Perfect way to spend part of the day don’t you think! x
Photos above courtesty of the lovely people at neat places (head over and check out their insights)
Muddy Choc Cakes
Makes 12 individual little cakes
- 1/4 cup oil
- 170ml cream
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 cup water
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line individual muffin tins with patty cases/liners.
In a large bowl combine the oil, cream, hot water and caster sugar. Stir well then add in the egg mixing well til combined. Beat through the baking soda, cocoa and self-raising flour til just smooth (make sure not to overbeat as you don’t want a dense mixture).
NB: the mixture is quite a wet/runny mixture but don’t be concerned at all!! It will bake perfectly.
Bake for approx 15 – 17mins (they are ready when the tops are springy back to your touch)
To make the sugar syrup:
Combine sugar and water in a pot. Heat to simmering point and allow to simmer away for approx 5 mins. You want the syrup to be a slightly syrupy consistency but still able to pour easily.
Pour a good spoonful of the sugar syrup onto each of the wee cakes as soon as they are removed from the oven and while they are still hot, then allow to cool.
Remove cases/liners once completely cool. Slather with cream cheese icing and a good dollop of caramello. You can find a great recipe for both of these in one of my earlier posts, here.
June 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It’s meant to be snowing today. So mr weather man has been telling us. And although, outside is bitterly cold with a chilling to the bone kind of wind there is no white dusting on our lawn outside.
Hopefully though, like us, you are all rugged up in anticipation of this icy blast and with cupboards and fridges stocked full, have plenty on hand to whip up the below. This Pear, Coconut, Cranberry and Almond Crumble will truly satisfy your tastebuds and warm you to your core.
We call these “Pear Crumblies”.
Makes 4 – 6 generous servings
- 2 ripe pears, diced
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup coconut, shredded
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1 tsp cinnamon (you can be a bit more generous if you like!)
- 1/4 cup honey, melted
- 1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees celsius. Line a roasting tray with baking paper/greaseproof paper.
Put the pears, rolled oats, coconut, cranberries, slivered almonds, cinnamon, honey and coconut butter on the tray. Toss lightly til coated in the honey and coconut butter and combined.
Place in the oven and allow to bake for approx 40 mins, turning about every 5 mins so the oaty pear mixture goldens evenly all over. It’s done when it is a lovely rich golden colour and lightly crunchy in texture. You definitely don’t want to let it cook too long or you will get a slightly burnt taste.
To assemble put a layer of crumble then a dollop of yoghurt followed by another layer of crumble. Drizzle with honey and serve. We used the Organic Clearwater Yoghurt as this is our fav! You can read more about it here.
Happy “Snow” Day! x
June 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been asked to cater a sweet table of ‘high tea’ delights for an upcoming 40th birthday bash in july. Whoa! Upon request, obviously my mind got spinning with endless possibilities!!!
Am extremely smitten with the fresh approach of the ottolenghi restaurants over in the UK. This has come about by the vision and hard work of these two exceptional people – Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi. You can purchase a slice of their delectable haven by grabbing a copy of any one of their books here.
These photos of their stores below are seriously drool-worthy and I think would suit as major inspiration for the upcoming 40th bash just fine!!!
With these tantalising images in mind, there has been many a concoction conjured up in the kitchen. These images below are a couple of my wee experiments am thinking will showcase on the night just beautifully – all piled up on an assortment of platters!
Of course any suggestions or delectable ideas would be welcomed!! There is still about 4 weeks before the big night! x
If you like the look of the mini Fig & Mascarpone Tart with Manuka Honey try out the recipe below:
Fig & Mascarpone Tart with drizzly Manuka Honey
Makes 12 individual 10cm mini tarts or one 22cm large tart
- 300g sweet short pastry
- 6 dried figs, sliced in half (to expose their lovely seedy insides. NB: the TASTI brand works really well as the figs are tender!)
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 150mls cream
- 1 tsp vanilla (paste is best)
- 100g dark chocolate
- 2tbs manuka honey, melted
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line the individual tart tins with the sweet pastry and blind bake for approx 15 – 20 mins. The shells are done when they are a lovely light golden colour all over the base.
While the pastry shells are cooling, beat the mascarpone cheese, cream and vanilla bean paste together.
Once shells are cool spread a thin layer of the dark melted chocolate over the base. Top with a good dollop of the mascarpone cream mixture and top with a sliced fig. Drizzle each with a decent amount of the melted Manuka Honey. A dusting of icing sugar never hurt anyone too!
Totally melt in your mouth deliciousness! xx
June 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
It’s been a while. A ‘whole lot’ of while. Over a year to speak more matter of fact. I’ve missed it here, immensely (am not even sure this word can evoke the actuality in its entirety! so just imagine ‘immensely’ X the moon and back).
There has been many adventures and developments over the past year. Arlie is now 4. A not so ‘baby’ anymore. Ready to take on the world of preschool, mass bombs off the sides of swimming pools, trainer wheels long gone and tale upon tale of stories and advice that is absolutely (one of his favourite words) pivotal mum must heed.
We have moved city. No longer in Auckland we have happily ensconced ourselves back into life in Christchurch amidst the blissful seaside shores of Sumner. The beach and morning seagulls can be heard from our window on waking, and beacons many an early morning scooter ride.
I’m thankful to be here. Grateful for the wee side-kick that accompanies me and the adventures that unfold with so much on our doorstep. Truly – the simplicity of life bring happiness.
With the rebuild in full swing it is fascinating to stumble upon and watch so many businesses evolve from this process. It seems creatives have thrived. I get such a kick from wandering down wee streets and seeing things such as this:
2) Shop Eight - Seriously good supreme coffee (thank you!). Definitely worth a wander down New Regent Street.
Amidst all the settling in, getting bearings, finding our feet, there has been a bit of baking done and many a cake and sweet muffin given away to lovely lovely lovely neighbours. This banana caramello cake seems to be a firm favourite around these traps.
Banana Caramello Mini Cakes Recipe:
Makes 12 individual cakes or one 22cm large cake.
For the cake:
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup butter,melted
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup rice milk (or milk of your choosing)
- 2 large ripe bananas (or 3 small), mashed
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup self-raising flour
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line 12 individual muffin tins with baking cups. Mix the oil, melted butter, caster sugar, egg and rice milk together til well combined and lovely and gooey. Add the mashed banana and baking soda and stir briskly. Tip in the self-raising flour and mix til combined. Bake in oven for approx 20mins then remove and allow to cool.
For the cream cheese icing:
- 250g cream cheese
- 1 tbs butter, softened
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 cup cream
Beat the butter and cream cheese together until lovely and smooth and soft, then beat in the icing sugar. Pour in the cream and beat til you get a lovely smooth but almost just over spreadable consistency (you don’t want it too runny or it won’t sit on top of your cakes but rather run all down the sides – which isn’t a bad thing if you are going for the drizzly look!).
For the caramel sauce:
- 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
- 1 cup cream
Combine the soft brown sugar and cream in a pot and heat very gently, stiring every so often, bringing slowly to a simmer. Allow to simmer (stir frequently at this point) for approx 3 – 4 mins. Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof jar/container and allow to cool. As it cools it will thicken. NB: I usually make the caramel sauce the day before so it has plenty of time to cool.
To assemble: Cut wee slits into the center of each of the mini banana cakes and spoon a dollop of caramel inside. Top with the cream cheese icing, another dollop of caramel and a little squiggle of chocolate (a chocolate drop works fine too or a couple of banana chips!).
February 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
ive fallen in love with mairangi bay.
a seaside village (well – as villagy as you can get in auckland), crisp white sand, stunning coastal runs, weekly saturday walk with the amazing sally from fitness fix, scrummy saturday market laden with the most succulent homegrown lettuces you can ever imagine (thanks clevedon herbs & produce).
this lovely market the other saturday had the most beautifully sweet, juice dribbling down your chin kind of variety, deep purple plums. The car came back laden and it was too irresistable not to stew some of them to make the below concoction.
anything tastes good with buttery pasty, melt in your mouth frangipane and vanilla cream goodness. the subtle sweet tartness of these stewed plums was just ideal…yum x
ps – cross my heart to put the recipe up tomorrow…. xx
January 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
yay. welcome to summer. well, lets hope! the rain here in auckland seems to be clinging on to the relic of winter long gone.
firstly, i have some apologising to do. many months have passed since i last posted here (11th november to be exact). not because i didn’t want to, in fact i longed to. life got caught up in the busy mode of juggling work, a little near three year old and that pre-christmas rush, making copious amounts of gin & blackberry jam along with fig and hazelnut panforte to wrap for the hordes prior to christmas day took a tonne of energy and love.
it took a timely and ever so sweet reminder from a dear friend over coffee the other day, to remind me of this. his words were, “there is only one thing wrong with your blog…..you don’t post enough”. let it sink in. reality, very true.
so, heading forwards i will cross my heart and promise to visit this little land and share with you all things scrummy more frequently. and in return, i hope that your heart will smile, that your tongue will savour and that your loved ones will partake in the warmth and pleasure that the joys of food creates.
this little wonder below is the ultimate summer tart (i love this word so much more than ‘quiche’). ruby red little cherry toms, succulently sweet courgettes, salty feta all encased in the butteriest of pastries.
the past two weeks of our summer holiday were spent in christchurch, enjoying all the sumner has to offer. beautiful beaches, seagulls to chase, rocks to throw (presently im sporting a lovely wee butterfly clip thanks to rock to head collision of very good armed near three year old), coffees to savour, bean bags to lounge in, books to devour.
joe’s garage in sumner is worth a wander into. great macchiatos. lovely eggs & spinach on whole grain. endless amount of colouring, truck playing and chalk drawing for little people. great start to many a morning.
heading away was also a wonderful opportunity to devour many a book. i was in hammock heaven! check out this lovely read from nz restaurateur Fleur Sullivan. at age 72 with a string of restaurants and an amazing life behind and ahead of her, the energy in which she writes and the achievements she has bought to fruition is inspiration enough for this green bean.
i’ll leave you with this beautifully zingy sweet blackberry & gin jam recipe (a wonderful ripe deli recipe which has been tweaked and adapted with gratitude).
go on….smother it on your grainy toast with slathers of butter…
November 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
yesterday was a day unlike summer. dull grey cloud covering a translucent blue, a wind that blew continually and drizzle which turned itself on and off sporadically to trickle down ones face. we are bang in the middle of november and these kind of days only make me yearn even more for summer and the many joys that come with it. here is why:
1] no more grey. no more wind. just pure sunshine, sand in toes, fresh mint, frozen lemon cubes, decadent raspberries and ice cream that dribbles down the chin.
2] fresh berries in all shapes, sizes, colours and forms. especially raspberries picked from the raspberry farm in tai tapu in christchurch. they are perfect for making mini coconut and raspberry bites (lets face it everything in ‘mini’ just tastes better)….
ps – i have managed to get my hands on the treasured recipe of these famous little & friday donuts so will definitely be trying my hand at them and sharing the successful indulgence with you all some day soon (fingers crossed) x