February 28, 2012

Cucumber and Elderflower Gin Cocktail

Well the day has arrived.  Today I head back to Uni.  Wow.  I’m nervous, but also really excited.  I’ve been thinking about doing this for a couple of years, and when I found out months ago that I could do a graphic course part-time (it’s surprisingly difficult to do graphic design part-time in Perth at a respected institute, it’s all full-time courses and my mortgage ain’t gonna pay itself so I need to keep working) I got up the courage to ask my boss if I could do it.  He said yep, and here I am.

I’ve got my notepads ready, all the design programs at home now, internet (yeah haven’t had that at home yet, long story), external hard-drives, new desk chair, new dairy.  I’m really excited, did I mention that?

I really want to put up some photos from my holiday but I haven’t had a chance go through them yet.  For now though, I leave you with the drink I consumed every evening as the sun went down – cucumber, elderflower syrup and gin.  I first tried this combination at Bivouac in Perth, and although they wouldn’t tell me there was elderflower syrup in there, I got my sneak on and eventually found it.  They make it quite different to this, I guess my version is the lazy version.  The elderflower syrup is just awesome – so summery.

CUCUMBER AND ELDERFLOWER GIN COCKTAIL
Cucumber
Hendricks gin
Elderflower syrup
Tonic water
Ice


In a short glass, add a two strips of cucumber using a potato peeler.  Add a few cubes of ice.  Add 30ml gin (one shot) and a dash of elderflower syrup (to taste).  Top up with tonic water.  Enjoy!


February 21, 2012

Flourless Orange and Almond Cake

Well hi there!  Today I am blogging from a small town named Dunsborough, one of my favourite places in the world!  My family and I have been coming here for years, and as my brother and I get older, we seem to have become more child-like with the idea of a holiday.  We get really excited, pack way too many things like fishing rods, bikes, cards, board games, a guitar even came down this year!  Oh how I wish I could share a million photos with you but I'm sure you wouldn't find them half as interesting as I do.  But later on in the week I'll share some shots of this amazing place.

So coming down here, being on holidays, it's about relaxing and taking time out to do the things you never have time to do.  For me, this is photography, cooking new things, playing cards, sleeping in, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors.

When I usually holiday in Dunsborough, I make a cake.  It's nice to have a freshly baked home-made cake for morning or afternoon tea.  Before I left Perth, I packed up some baking ingredients, all measured out perfectly to make this cake.  I knew I wanted to make this cake because there's a special meaning behind it.  This cake is a must whenever my mum and I go to David Jones for coffee.  We've been ordering if for years but for some reason I have never even thought about making it myself.  I had a look around in a couple of books and website sites, and all had the exact same recipe.  It's so basic.

This cake is awesome.  It's super moist seems to get better the longer it sits out. 

FLOURLESS ORANGE AND ALMOND CAKE
2 medium size oranges
6 eggs
250g superfine sugar
250g almond meal (almond flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 handfuls of flaked almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting


Wash the oranges well, then place in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer then leave for two hours.  Remove from water and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.  Line a 20 to 28cm baking tin with paper.

Cut out the ends of the oranges (this is optional, but I always find this the most bitter part of an orange).  Place the oranges in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth consistency.

In a large bowl, add the eggs and sugar and whisk until sugar has dissolved into the egg mixture.  Add the orange mix and whisk again.  Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix until all ingredients well combined.  Pour the mixture into the lined tin, then scatter over the almond flakes.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.  The time will vary depending on the size of your tin.  The cake should be golden on top.

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack, then dust with icing sugar.  Serve with a dollop of double cream.



February 17, 2012

Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad

This is a really short post today, mainly because I haven’t really had time all week to deliver an awesome recipe!

With work and preparations for study, plus my new found obsession with yoga and pilates, I have no spare time these days.  The good news is as of Sunday I will taking a week-long holiday in the South-West wine region (I know, again).  This time there will be fishing, relaxing, card games, cooking, eating, and spending time with my family.  Hopefully I will have internet access down there and post up a new recipe.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little cherry tomato salad I make a week or so ago.  I was a bit over the normal tomato salad so roasted these little guys.  The sweet and salty taste of the tomatoes was amazing!  I know they look like just sun-dried tomatoes, but these are still really juicy but also caramelised.  Win!


ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SALAD
Recipe my own
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
Good quality extra virgin olive oil, for roasting and salad dressing
Sea salt flakes
Dried oregano
200g baby bocconcini
Rocket
Balsamic vinegar


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the halved tomatoes on the tray, skin side down, and drizzle over some olive oil.  Sprinkle the sea salt and oregano, and roast for 20-30 minutes.  If your oven is weak like mine, you can put them under the grill for 3 minutes at the end to really caramelise the tomatoes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Place a good amount of rocket in a large bowl, scatter over the tomatoes and bocconcini, and drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top.

Serves 4 as a side.


February 6, 2012

Valentine's Day Heart Cookies

I have a confession to make.  I love eating whipped butter and sugar.  You know the part of a cake recipe where it says “cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy”.  Well, after I’ve done that, I usually have a really large taste.  It starts off with a finger dipped in, and ends with a teaspoon(s) and the beaters licked clean.  I know, it’s so bad for me!  But gosh it tastes goooooddd.  Even worse, I like it when you add an egg too.  That tastes lighter but heavenly.  For this reason, I usually add a little extra butter and sugar to the recipe.  Don’t judge me.  It’s a sickness I tell you.

Oh that felt good to get off my chest.

Onto these cookies.  So last year for Valentine’s Day I made cupcakes.  Now I’m not usually one to celebrate these things.  Working in the field of Marketing and being a little cynical I usually HATE these holidays.  Just like Christmas.  It’s so commercial.  But a while ago someone changed that for me (nawwww).  Don’t get me wrong, I still disagree with it.  I won’t buy presents or go out of my way to spend money, but it’s nice to do something small.  Enter baking.

To be honest, I’ve wanted to make these cookies for a while, so the upcoming Valentine’s Day was merely and excuse.  Do you know what would make these cookies even better – sandwiching a buttercream in the centre!  Hmmm might do that tonight...

VALENTINES DAY HEART COOKIES
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup superfine caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Few drops red food colouring
Few drops of strawberry essence (optional)
Icing sugar, for dusting


In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until the sugar grains are superfine.  Sift in the flour and cornstarch, and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Divide the mixture evenly into three bowls.  In one, add the cocoa powder and mix well.  In another, add the food colouring and strawberry essence.  Add a little at a time – you can always add more but never take from the mix.  Use your hands to mould the dough into a ball then flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two pieces of baking paper until 5 mm thick.  Use a medium shape heart cookie cutter to cut out hearts in the dough.  Using a smaller cookie cutter, cut the centre of the heart with a smaller heart.  Place the smaller hearts to the side and the larger ones on a baking tray.  Continue with the other two dough’s.  With all the large hearts cut out, place the smaller hearts in the centre, mixing up the colours as you go.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until set.  Be careful not to overcook as they will become too dry.

Allow to cool on a wire rack then dust with icing sugar.

Makes 24.


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