Archive for April 2014

Honeycakes with Blackberries and Almond Brittle

Thursday, 24 April 2014

'In the Queen's Ballroom they broke their fast on honeycakes baked with blackberries and nuts...' - A Storm of Swords

I know those are raspberries on the top, but I ran out of blackberries because I didn't think what I would do with the extra baby cake, so had to make do. They are equally as delicious, and anyway the blackberries are inside the cake. 

These honeycake like mini soufflés, and were deliciously light and fluffy, and they also happen to be gluten free! Whaddayaknow. 

We had them with vanilla and honey whipped cream, berry compote, and almond brittle. Why settle for one treat when you can have four. Right?

Really, though, this recipe has so many elements that are really quite unnecessary because the honeycakes are delicious on their own. 

Serve them straight from the oven or with some ice cream, everyone will still love them. Or go all out, because it was even more delicious with everything. 

<u> Blackberry and Almond Honeycakes </u>
<I> Makes 16 mini cakes or one small cake </I>

- 2 cups almond meal
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup Manuka honey 
- 1 vanilla bean, halved and deseeded or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or essence
- 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt 
- 1 cup blackberries (or raspberries or any berries)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a muffin tin and line the bottom with some baking paper. (I cut off the pleated part of cupcake liners because I wanted it the cakes to be smooth. Alternatively, use ramekins)
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, or until you can hold the bowl upside down over your head and nothing falls on you. 
3. Beat the yolks, honey, vanilla, bicarb, and salt together until thick and creamy. Fold in the berries.
4. Gently fold the egg whites in, one spoonful at a time. Be really careful to not squash the air out of it (like a soufflé).
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

* To make a cake, grease two 6" cake pans. Don't put in the berries. Fill up both cake pans evenly and bake until the cakes are golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack, so that the top gets flattened down. Cut the cakes in half if you want a four layered cake, otherwise fold the berry compote with the vanilla and honey whipped cream and sandwich between the cake layers. Top with cream and berries, and press toasted almonds into the sides of the cream.

<u> Berry Compote </u> 
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients on medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and berries are broken down (about 8-10 minutes).

<u> Vanilla and Honey Whipped Cream </u>
- 1/2 cup thickened cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or essence/extract
- 1 tablespoon honey

Whip all ingredients together until soft peaks form. 

<u> Almond Brittle
- 1/4 cup almond slivers 
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water 

1. Toast the almonds in a frying pan over low heat or in the oven until they are golden brown. 
2. Spread nuts out evenly in one layer on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Make sure the tray is on a trivet, cooling rack or a coaster.
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water. Stir continuously until sugar has dissolved. Brush down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water to ensure no sugar granules are getting stuck. When the liquid is light golden, take the pan off the heat immediately, and then quickly pour onto the nuts. There is a small window of time between toffee and burnt sugar, so watch that pan really carefully and pour the toffee out as soon as it turns a light, pale, golden colour. 
4. Using oven mitts, tap the pan onto the kitchen counter a few times to make sure the toffee sets evenly. The toffee should cover all the nuts, if it doesn't, move the nuts around with a skewer or a fork. 
5. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, or if you're impatient, like me, stick it in the freezer for 5 (keep it on the cooling rack still though).
6. When it is cooled and hardened, break into chunks with a knife or your fingers, and then serve with the honeycakes.


Simple Green Smoothie Challenge

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I'm participating in the Simple Green Smoothie challenge this month! I love smoothies/juice and it always makes me sad when I have to pay $8 to buy one, so I'm going to make one every day for this month. These are some of the smoothies I've been having. It's not really a challenge at all, really, because it's so easy and quick to make, and if I'm not feeling hungry enough to have one at breakfast, I'll have it at lunch.

The key to ensuring your green smoothies are smoothies and not watery salads is blending the greens with liquid before adding in everything else. So for every recipe, blend the greens first for about 2 minutes until there are no leafy chunks. I've made the mistake of doing it all in one go and it was not very fun... I had to chew each chunk of kale.... 


Raspberry, Mango and Banana 
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangoes
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Peach, Coconut and Mint 

  • 1/2 cup baby kale leaves
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 peaches, quartered and de seeded
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Strawberry, Watermelon and Carrot

  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 carrot, chopped into 4 or 5 pieces
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup watermelon

Passionfruit, Mango, and Strawberry

  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • pulp of 3 passionfruit
  • 1 cup mangoes
  • 1 cup strawberries

Blueberry, Banana and Watermelon

  • 1/2 cup baby kale leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup watermelon
You can basically put whatever you want in your green smoothie - any combination of fruit, liquids, and greens. 



Two Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Mousse

Monday, 14 April 2014

These cupcakes are technically two ingredient, but they aren’t really. I was really skeptical about trying this out, because they are often pinned with the tags ‘low calorie’ and ‘diet’ and ‘healthy’, and because the two ingredients are… boxed cake mix and a can of diet soda.

I know right.

So anyway, I put it out of my mind as an ‘Eh, it could be yummy but I don’t need to try it’ fad.

Then one night last week as I was at a petrol station looking at the $2 nail polish bin, there was a $1 box of Green’s chocolate cake mix. And then a whole stack of soft drink cans next to it. So I decided, why not.
So I bought these very expensive ingredients, and drove home.

I was still skeptical. I haven’t used a boxed cake mix since I was twelve, and it felt a little traitorous to being a foodie.
But anyway.

I got out a mixing bowl. Poured out the chocolate icing sugar – sorry, I mean cake mix, and then opened up my can of Coke Zero and poured it in.

It fizzed and bubbled and I could just smell the Coke-y smell and felt very confused about how it would turn out.

Anyway, so I preheated my oven. Prepared my cupcake liners. Spooned the batter (which is really liquid-y) into them. The Coke/Cake Mix batter makes a lot more than the dozen cupcakes the box is supposed to yield. I still felt unsure, so I pressed in a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream kiss in the middle of each cupcake. Why not, right?

Chucked them in the oven. And in about 5 minutes they were done. Skewer came out clean and everything.

The verdict?

They’re delicious. Moist with just the tiniest hint of Coke, and the melted Kiss in the middle was a happy surprise treat.

I didn’t fill them up enough, though, because they didn’t rise at all. So I had to make some icing to go on top.
I picked peanut butter mousse. I could have used the chocolate icing that also came in the box but… That felt like a bit much.

The end result was a quick, easy, supposedly healthy (well, maybe not because of the mousse) treat that I would probably make again. Maybe with a different flavor combination in a few months.

Has anyone tried this recipe before? What did you think?

Two Ingredient Cupcakes
  • 1 box cake mix (I used Green's Chocolate Cake)
  • 1 can soft drink of your choice (I used Coke Zero)
  • Optional: Hershey's Kisses, or anything else you would like to mix in
Preheat oven to 180C. Line two baking trays with cupcake liners (this makes a lot).
In a large bowl, whisk these two ingredients thoroughly. It will fizz and look like a Science experiment, but it'll work. 
Fill your cupcake liners until almost full, because these won't rise. I would say 7/8ths full. Or 3/4 full if you are going to put Kisses/what-have-you in. 
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Mousse
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup thickened cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Whip the peanut butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a medium bowl until combined. Add in the cream and beat until light and fluffy (like how you would normally make icing).
Put into a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes, or just dollop them on with a spoon. Or just eat it. :)

* I used crunchy Kraft peanut butter, but the nuts kind of got in the way when I was piping the icing out. If you're going to pipe the icing, use smooth peanut butter, otherwise, use a bigger nozzle. 


Garlic and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with a Mint and Honey Glaze

Saturday, 12 April 2014

'Her cooks had prepared them a magnificent meal of honeyed lamb, fragrant with crushed mint and served with the small green figs she liked so much.' - A Dance with Dragons

As promised, here is the recipe from our feast last Monday! It was incredibly delicious, the insides still a little pink, and really flavorsome because of all the herbs. 

If you aren't a fan of garlic, feel free to halve the amount used, but it's not overpowering especially when combined with all the herbs and the sweetness of the glaze.

Garlic and Herb Crusted Lamb with a Mint and Honey Glaze

- 2 racks lamb
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs 
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped finely 
- 1/4 cup rosemary, thyme and oregano leaves, chopped finely
- salt and pepper 
- 2 tbsp honey 
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard 
- 1 tbsp barbecue sauce

For the glaze
- 1/4 cup honey 
- 1/4 cup mint leaves or 1/4 cup mint sauce
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced. 
Mix together the honey, mustard and barbecue sauce. 
Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic and herbs and salt and pepper in a bowl (or blitz everything, leaves whole, in a food processor for a few seconds). 
Brush the honey-barbecue-mustard on the lamb, and then crumb it. You can do this super professionally by grabbing handfuls of the breadcrumb mixture and patting it onto the lamb. I leave it to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but that's optional. I also put in a few extra sprigs of rosemary, because we have a very determined rosemary bush that likes to take over the herb garden.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crumb coat is golden. 
Meanwhile, heat the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Brush over lamb and then return to oven for another 20 minutes. Serve. 


Game of Thrones Feast 2014: All Men Must Die

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Season 4 of Game of Thrones premiered yesterday! I was so sad that we missed the Gastropark Game of Thrones feast last year and was determined to go this year... But it doesn't seem to be on? Come on, Sydney! Singapore has a Michelin-starred chef making a feastWe had to make do without, so like last year, we had a feast at home to commemorate. 

The worst thing about Game of Thrones is the waiting game. There are only ten episodes a season and a whole year's wait in between. The books are a whole other story. Luckily we have George R. R. Martin's surprise spoiler chapters to look forward to, and his regularly updated blog and numerous games and such. And re-watching the episodes and rereading the books helps when you're feeling too sad in the interim. But once you get to the last book, you're back where you started and wanting more.

I would highly recommend having a Westerosi feast should you be feeling resentful toward G R R Martin, and HBO, as a reminder that this incredible man dreamed up not only this food but this entire world. With different languages and seasons and a political system that I sadly understand more than I do my own. Just please don't kill anyone else (: thanks!

'The stewards began to bring out the first dish, an onion broth flavored with bits of goat and carrot. Not precisely royal fare, but nourishing; it tasted good enough and warmed the belly.' - A Dance with Dragons

For starters, we had a dish from the Wall - onion broth with goat and carrots. This recipe was inspired by Inn at the Crossroads, the official Game of Thrones food blog (can I come and work for you?). I learned from last year that there is a GOT food community that has thousands of inspiring recipes based on real medieval recipes. Amazing.

I have only ever eaten goat in curry, so was a bit unsure about this and was going to substitute for lamb. Luckily I didn't. The goat is slow cooked with speck so the meat falls off the bone, and tastes like Icelandic Lambmeat Soup. It is delicious and wonderfully comforting.

'And they dined in the solar with cheese, capons and brown oatbread'. - A Clash of Kings

The broth is supposed to come with 'loaves of coarse brown bread, warm from the oven. Salt and butter sat upon the tables'. I wanted to make breadrolls instead Oat breadrolls. I could have bought these but because I have three essays due this week I made them from scratch, and they were fluffy and light and delicious and oaty.

'Her cooks had prepared them a magnificent meal of honeyed lamb, fragrant with crushed mint and served with the small green figs she liked so much.' - A Dance with Dragons

Dany feasted on this with the Green Grace in Meereen, and when I made it was as delicious as it sounds. The lamb is crusted with garlic, mint, rosemary and breadcrumbs, and glazed with minted honey and mustard.

'This evening, they had supped on... quails drowned in butter. Lord Janos allowed that he had never eaten half so well.' - A Clash of Kings

I couldn't find quails so I used spatchcock instead, swimming in butter and lots of paprika. It was the most buttery, melt in your mouth piece of poultry I have ever had.

'Then came lamprey pie, honeyed ham, buttered carrots, white beans and bacon, and roast swan stuffed with mushrooms and oysters.' - A Clash of Kings

White beans and bacon is yummy. White beans, bacon, and onion.

Dutch carrots always looked so rustic to me, so I roasted them with coconut oil and cinnamon, because the quail had enough butter in it.
'My fellow magisters have doubled the size of the city guard,' Illyrio told them over platters of honey duck and orange snap peppers one night at the manse that had been Drogo's.' - A Game of Thrones

Pentoshi honeyed duck, from before the wedding to Khal Drogo. Adapted from The Inn at the Crossroads. The duck is glazed with a mixture of honey, orange, lemons and butter, on a bed of sweet potato purée. and is so deliciously divine. I imagine this is what duck a l'orange tastes like, and everyone were all pleasantly surprised by how much we liked it that I might even try making duck a l'orange one day. Maybe.

'In the Queen's Ballroom they broke their fast on honeycakes baked with blackberries and nuts...' - A Storm of Swords

Dessert. The honeycakes are airy and light, made with almond meal and served with berry compote and fresh whipped cream with vanilla and honey, and almond brittle.The blackberries were freshly picked from Duffy's Forest, because I didn't know they could be bought and I am a master procrastinater.
Full recipes to follow.

What did everyone think of the first episode? xx


Corn and Quinoa Polenta Fritters with Smoked Salmon

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Brunch is my favorite meal. I can't even describe why. It's at the perfect time, and you can eat basically everything and anything and it's delicious, and then you can just do nothing for the rest of the day. I think that's probably the most appealing thing about brunch! It's weekend-y and luxurious and just a little bit more special than breakfast.

These corn fritters are really easy to make, and in no time any day could be a brunch day, not just on weekends. You could even have them for dinner :)

The quinoa and polenta are completely optional, as the corn fritters are still delicious without. My mom used to make fritters with just corn, eggs, and flour as a base, and then just add in whatever she felt like that day - carrots, zucchini, mushrooms (delicious), leftover chicken and fish (not so delicious). I'm a big fan of polenta so I like putting it in anything that I can. The first time I tried it was on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco when I was six, and I remember thinking it was mashed potato, or maybe an omelette. (It was for breakfast, with two little mini sausages and I was so excited) I'm not sure if I can say polenta is better than mash, but it's delicious and I'll find any excuse to eat it.

Corn and Quinoa Polenta Fritters with Smoked Salmon
Serves 4
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk because I can't have lactose, so feel free to substitute with whatever you would like) 
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels 
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small chilli, chopped finely, or 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups baby rocket, spinach or kale
  • 250 g smoked salmon
  • Greek yoghurt or ricotta
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large bowl, mix the polenta with the water and then cover and leave to stand for 10 minute.
  2. Meanwhile, put the oil, lime, sugar, garlic and chilli (if using) in a jar, screw shut, and shake well to combine. Add in the cherry tomatoes and give a firm shake to coat and let sit.
  3. Add the milk, eggs, corn, and quinoa to the polenta. Beat well until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet (or oil a non-non stick one) and then fry heaped tablespoons until golden brown on each side. Shape them with a silicone spatula so they are even circles, or make any shape you like.
  5. When all the batter is used up, serve on top of some baby rocket, or any greens you like, add the tomatoes. Put the salmon on top, a dollop of yoghurt or ricotta, and then drizzle with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat. 

Happy brunching!