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Autumnal Elixir

I have most definitely overdosed on chocolate this weekend – my bad skin and poor temper will attest to that. This gloriously cool and drizzly weather has prompted me to ignore my sweet tooth for just one minute and indulge my savory side – my stomach is calling for some healthy, soul soothing soup.

If you’re in need of a belly full of goodness after a long weekend of indulgence I can highly recommend this autumnal elixir concocted by yours truly!

soup

The cast:
* 2 spanish onions sliced roughly
* As much garlic as you like – I used 3 big minced cloves
* 1 heaped teaspoon of harisa paste (or chopped fresh chilli if you don’t have harisa)
* 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
* 2 tins of peeled roma tomatos
* 1 tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* Half a bunch of silverbeet, stems removed and the leaves chopped thinly

Added extras:
* Some cheese like feta to crumble on top (I only had cheddar in the fridge though.)
* Toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts on top also add crunch

Lightly caramalize the onions in your biggest pot with olive oil and a little salt to release the liquid. While the onions are simmering away I chop the silverbeet and rinse the beans off.
Once the onions are thoroughly cooked add the harisa paste, ground cumin and the minced garlic, stir and lightly fry for a minute or so. Then add the 2 tins of tomato, stirring to break down the whole tomato pieces and bring to a boil.
Once the tomato has been bubbling away for a few minutes and turned a rich red hue, throw in your cannellini beans and chopped spinach. Stir it well to combine – put the lid on the pot, turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Taste test for seasoning – does it need more salt or pepper, cumin, chilli etc? Or a small teaspoon of brown sugar for sweetness perhaps? If not – it’s time to grab a bowl and ladle up. YUM!

Hope everyone has had a relaxing and enjoyable Easter long weekend. I’m going to snuggle up on the couch and rest in the quiet before the madness that is life takes over once again – what about you?

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let us eat cake


Mum asked me to make this cake for Nana’s birthday. It’s the perfect cake for those who aren’t that interested in the classic chocolate cake but still like something quite decadent. It’s personally a favourite of mine because it combines two of my favourite ingredients – lemon and almond. Winning ingredients in savoury or sweet if you ask me.

It’s probably more of a loaf than a cake, it’s very dense and moist and rich, unsurprising as it has 4 eggs and a stick of butter in it! So, not for everyday, but we only have a birthday once a year, right?

Anyway – here’s the recipe. It’s a Nigella Lawson number from her How to be a Domestic Goddess recipe book, so I’ve made it super fast using the food processor. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Damp Lemon and Almond Cake

The cast:

225g unsalted butter
225g castor sugar
4 eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon of almond essence
grated zest and juice of two lemons

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. My oven is a little on the hot side though so 160 works better for me.

Step 2: Get your zest and juice ready. I love lemons…


Step 3: Cream the butter and sugar until almost white. You can of course use your muscles for this task, but in the spirit of Nigella I opted for the processor.


Step 4: Add in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the plain flour in between each egg.

Step 5: Gently stir in the ground almonds, the almond essence and lemon zest and juice.

Step 6: Pour into a cake tin. I love the new silicon cake moulds as you don’t have to grease them and they clean easy and storing them is as easy as shoving them into the corner of your overcrowded drawer. Not that I have messy cupboards or anything…

It’s not going to rise much as there is no rising agent in this cake, so fill it to the brim. (Or close to the brim, then use a spatula to get every last drop out of the bowl and into your mouth. Lick it clean if need be. You never know how the end product is going to turn out so it’s important that you get something for your efforts.)


Step 6: Bake for about an hour, depending on how your oven goes. You’ll know it’s done if it’s firm on top and a skewer comes out cleanish. I have to cover the tin with foil after half an hour or so otherwise the top burns too much.

Step 7: Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn it out onto a wire rack and rest til cool.

Now, I forgot to take a picture at this stage, probably because I managed to burn the sides a little and it cracked down the top too and was drowing my sorrows with a glass of wine.

But that’s nothing a little sprinkle of icing sugar and some decoy decorating won’t fix.


Bon Appetit and Bonne Anniversaire Nana!

best cocktail ever

This is quite possibly the most cooling, refreshing and inner core warming drink I’ve ever had. It’s like some magical potion that they would serve at Hogwarts dinners, sans the alcohol of course, that is saved for the midnight feasts of young, wayward wizards. Ahh, the magic of underage drinking. But I digress.

Seriously, this Watermelon slushie with ginger mint syrup is magic.
Here, I’ll show you how to concoct one.

This is what you will need.

That’s watermelon, fresh mint, a knob of ginger, some ginger wine and some sugar (icing sugar and castor sugar). Optional, is vodka, or even more vodka. (Highly recommended.)
Exact amounts are not necessary. I can never follow recipes to the dot. Mainly because I have a problem with authority but also because I am lazy at maths.


Anyway, scrape out the watermelon flesh into your food processor. Add a spoon or two of icing sugar to the mix. Whizz it, Drain it, Freeze it. You only waste a wee amount of watermelon pulp, don’t worry. Use a shallow dish to freeze the juice in so it freezes quicker.


Check it every five minutes to see if it’s frozen yet. So exciting! It doesn’t take that long either if you turn your freezer up. Here is where you can add the vodka if you’re feeling adventurous. Just stir it in once the juice starts to freeze.


Next chuck equal amounts of castor sugar and water into a saucepan and heat, I used 1/2 a cup of each, so that it gently boils away and reduces to a lovely syrupy consistency. Whilst it’s bubbling away, finely grate your knob of ginger. When you get bored, stop grating and chuck it in the pot and simmer away til the ginger becomes translucent and flavours the syrup. Resist the tempation to taste test here, it is very hot!


In between compulsively checking the freezer and occasionally stirring your bubbling syrup, tear up a bunch of fresh mint in a heat proof bowl. The original recipe calls for one firmly packed cup. I say however much is in a bunch.

Once the syrup is reduced, say, around 10 to 15 minutes, pour it into your heat proof mint filled bowl and allow to cool.


Look how the mint shrivels up! This is a good time to breathe deeply. Put your head over the bowl, smells SO good, it’s like a facial. yummy mint and ginger steam facial…
Anyway, leave the syrup to cool. Maybe have a nap or something, beats doing household chores.

When you are ready to party, scrape the frozen watermelon with a fork so that magical pink ice crystals blossom. Drain the mint out of your syrup and add a cup or so of the Ginger wine* and stir. Taste, add in a lashing more of ginger wine and stir. Resist temptation to just down the syrup, there and then.

Spoon your ice crystals into a glass, pour 2 spoonfuls of syrup on top, top up the glass with a little more ice crystals and without further ado, down the hatch it slides.


This delicious recipe was spotted over at the lovely Stephanie’s Elegant Sufficiency blog, where all good recipes hang out. See the original recipe on Gourmet Traveller if you absolutely must have exact amounts of ingredients.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! And please don’t judge me for having a half renovated dirty kitchen with no splashbacks. It’s rustic to have a cement wall okay, and a little grease on your cooktop never killed anyone. Did it?

*Stones Green Ginger Wine is available for around $10 a bottle at most liquor stores. Dad said that only bums used to drink the stuff when he was a kid. Ah, the gentrification of cheap liquors.

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