Chocolate Olive Oil Cake – Gluten & Dairy free

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I’ve been awfully quiet on the blog. First there was a trip to Thailand, then a spot of camping and last but not least I broke my arm. This puts me out of action on the cooking front although I’m trying madly to find recipes I can make one handed.

Anyway before the excitement of trips away and broken bones I had a few other minor health problems. One of the suggestions to help was a 2 week trial of being gluten free. I was resigned to not baking during that time, but the I stumbled upon this recipe from Nigella Lawson for a gluten and dairy free chocolate cake. I’ve never had much success with gluten free cakes, but if Nigella’s singing its praises it’s worth a go.

And….. it was so very very good. I think it was actually better eaten warm but was still pretty divine the next day.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake – recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson
50 grams cocoa powder
125 ml boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150 grams ground almonds (or Nigella says you can use 125g plain flour so obviously it becomes not gluten free & I didn’t make it this way so I can’t say what it would be like but probably pretty delicious)
½ teaspoon bi carb
200g sugar
3 eggs
150 ml olive oil (I just used everyday olive oil which I think would be best as it doesn’t have a massively strong flavour)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 170°C Grease springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking paper.

Sift the cocoa powder into jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, just runny paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then let cool a little.

In another bowl, combine the ground almonds with bi carb and pinch of salt.

Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of mixer and beat together on high for about 3 minutes until its a pale and like thickened cream.

Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, when its all in slowly add the ground almond mixture.

Scrape down, and stir with a spatula, then pour batter into the tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and centre top still looks a bit moist. Check with a skewer and if it comes out clean with a few crumbs on it its done.

In its tin let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, and gently ease the sides of the cake with a small knife and spring it out of the tin.

Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as we did (thus making it not dairy free but I’m sure you can find a dairy free accompaniment or eat as is which given how good it is is perfectly justifiable)

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Fig and Olive Oil Cake

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I truly believe that there are few things in the world that a cup of tea and piece of cake cannot fix. Bad day at work, cup of tea and cake make it better. Kids channelling the devil, tea and cake to the rescue. I’m quite sure many of the world’s conflict could be chatted out over a cup of team and a piece of cake.

I was recently given a bag of figs. These figs were bordering on over ripe and were sweet and soft. I felt rather lucky as they are so expensive at the shops and never as nice as home gown as they are so fragile. Given they were pretty ripe I set to working out what I could do with them. Of course being the baking addict I am I was like let’s make a cake with them. Out came the recipe books and internet searches before I settled on this recipe. I was a bit hesitant a you 1/2 bake the cake then add the figs, but it totally worked. It was moist, citrusy and figgy and perfect with a cup of tea.

Fig and Olive Oil Cake – recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup extra olive oil
1/3 cup milk
5 figs, cut into quarters
1 1/2 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Mix together the flour, ground almonds, and baking powder in a bowl.

Using a whisk attachment in a mixer whisk the sugar and eggs until fluffy. Add the citrus zest and juice, then stir in the olive oil and milk. Gently fold in the flour mixture then pour the batter into a prepared tin and bake in the oven for approx. 40 minutes.

Push the figs into the top of the loaf. Drizzle with honey and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top is caramelized and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool fully in tin, then remove from the tin.

Brew cup of tea, cut a large slice of cake and enjoy

coconut icecream

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Ice cream is usually made using eggs, and I have been known to make it that way (see champagne ice cream). But the problem with this is I use at a minimum twice the amount of ingredients. This would be because I get very easily distracted. So whilst I’m meant to be carefully stirring the egg mixture of a pot of simmering water I’m off getting distracted by glitter and unicorns or life. This means that if I’m not stirring the eggs at the right moment they over cook and turn into scrambled eggs. Now it may be just me but this is not really a desirable ingredient in ice cream.

So my go to everyday vanilla ice cream recipe is one that may not be as rich as others but it requires no eggs or stirring of ingredients of any kind over heat. I just chuck them in my mixer whisk to a bit frothy then pour in ice cream maker, which churns away for 20 mins and gives me ice cream (well it does after I freeze churned mixture for a few hours).

Anyway I got possessed by the need to make and eat coconut ice cream. After examine a few recipes on the internet I just decided to adapt my standard recipe and threw in some shredded coconut. Topped with melted dark chocolate it was rather like a frozen bounty bar.

Coconut Ice Cream

1 cup chilled cream
1 cup of chilled coconut cream
1 cup chilled milk
3/4 cup sugar
small handful of shredded coconut (optional)

In mixer with whisk attachment whisk together cream, coconut cream, milk and sugar. You want to whisk till the sugar has dissolved and its kinda frothy on op top. Pour into ice cream maker, churn. When it nearly done add in shredded coconut. Then pour into container freezer for a few hours till full frozen. If you don’t have an ice cream maker that ok, whisk it up then pop in freezer then whisk every 20 mins for a about 2 hours and it should get to the consistency of soft serve ice cream at which point add in shredded coconut stir and freeze.

I drizzled over some dark chocolate melted in the microwave and it set pretty quickly (a la homemade ice magic)

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Part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop – Licence to Chill Hosted by the Kitchen Crusader

Saturday is for pancakes, Sunday is for bacon and eggs

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I love on the weekends having time to make a really nice big breakfast, most people who know me know that in our household pancakes rule the breakfast choices on Saturday. But Sunday, well Sunday is for bacon and eggs.

One Sunday recently we sat down for bacon and eggs and assorted accompaniments and I looked at the plate and started to think about what makes the perfect bacon and egg breakfast.

Obliviously it starts with the bacon. Good quality Australian bacon is a MUST. My butcher does pretty good bacon, all made on site, the rashes are not too thin and not to thick and taste amazing. The only flaw is that they are short cut bacon rashes and my husband in particular misses the crispy fattiness of the middle bacon rashes.

Eggs well it’s a given they should be free range, and free range as in really free range, not oh look we meet some flimsy guidelines so can stamp free range on the carton, but ones that come from a farm that actually give their chickens access to free range. We are lucky that we have our own chickens who give us the best eggs. How you cook the eggs is up to you, we prefer to have ours scrambled. Usually I whisk up some eggs with a bit of cream, melt some butter in a saucepan, add eggs and stir with via wooden spoon till done. I’ve even been known the add in some pesto and fetta too.

Tomatoes, now some people grill this or fry them up, but I prefer to drizzle them in olive oil and sprinkle some fresh basil on them and roast them. Obliviously if you are doing whole or even halved tomatoes this takes a bit of time and planning, but I’m not an organised person so usually just throw some cherry tomatoes in the oven as they roast in no time.

For me spinach is a must (for husband it’s a avoid at all costs). Fav way to cook it for breakfast is to sauté it in butter and an whole garlic clove (discard garlic when serving)

And lastly there needs to be toast. Preferably thick cut sourdough toast, with butter, real proper fantastic tasting butter. Others in the family also put things like, honey, jam vegemite etc. on their toast. Not me, when it comes to bacon and eggs I like it with just plain butter.

Others might add sausages or mushroom or even a has brown and I’ve been known to add corn fritter to the list of things on the plate. But what’s above well I think that makes a pretty perfect bacon and egg breakfast.

Cherry and Vanilla Jam

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My kids adore strawberry picking and lucky for me I’m rather fond of it too. The strawberries are so warm and sweet and delicious when freshly picked. So I found myself venturing out with the kids strawberry picking one fine sunny day after Christmas. We picked just under 4 kilograms of strawberries which I’m quite sure if I let them my kids would have eaten them all in one go.

(stay with me we’re getting to the cherry part soon)

Now to get to the strawberry picking it requires one to drive up the freeway and along narrow winding roads in the hills which surround our fair city. Husband normally performs this duty but he was working so it feel to me the nervous hill driver to get us there. And of course I did. Now flushed with success of driving up into the hills I thought why waste it by just strawberry picking lets go cherry picking (plus kids had never seen a cherry tree before). So armed with directions and instructions from a friend we set out to find us a pick your own cherry farm. A few stops for map consultation and playground playing we found a lovely little place. There were row after row of different varieties of cherries all perfectly ripe. The kids were and I picked over 2.5 kilograms of delicious cherries.

Now although my husband loves them and I’ve recently rediscovered them I wasn’t sure we could eat that many. So I hit my recipe books trying to find something to cook with them. I found lots of baking recipes, the problem was we were hit with an insane heat wave and there was no way the oven was going on. Ummm what was I going to do with these cherries. So I put out the call if anyone had made cherry jam, did some googling got some advice and set out to make me some jam.

I used just over 300 g pitted cherries and 275g jam sugar because some recipes said to use 3/4 the amount of sugar then amount of cherries but then some didn’t so I kinda reduced the sugar by a bit.

Cherry and Vanilla Jam (makes 1 250ml jar)
325g pitted cherries
275g jam sugar (the sugar with the pectin in it, if you don’t have this you could use normal sugar and ad din some pectin)
1 vanilla bean
squeeze of lemon juice

Roughly chop the cherries

Put in pan with sugar and vanilla bean. Mix and begin to bring to boil, when it was just on the verge of boiling I mashed the mixture with a potato masher to break down the fruit a bit more not essential if you prefer your jam chunkier.

Once boiling simmer for 10 minutes or until spoonful of jam forms a skin or thickens when placed on cold plate.

Bottle in sterilised jar.

Enjoy

Champagne Ice Cream

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I love champagne, there I’ve said it.

Maybe it’s clichéd, lady in her mid 30’s loving champagne, but it’s quite hard to find a bad champagne. Don’t get me wrong there are some average ones out there, but hardly any I’d class as bad. Plus it’s so celebratory drinking it. Perfect for so many occasions, catching up with friends, tick, enjoying pre dinner drinks, tick, Christmas day drinks, tick.

Last year before Christmas I became obsessed with the idea of making champagne ice cream. I had it in my head would go well with Christmas pudding. So after a fair few attempts (some ending in scrambled eggs) I made a good batch, taste tested it on my work colleagues, then made some for Christmas day, where I served it up with the Christmas pudding and……..

It went amazingly well with Christmas pudding.

There’s just one thing about the champagne ice cream, it requires 1/2 cup of champagne, this leaves an awful lot of a bottle left over. I’m sure like me you don’t want to waste it, so enjoy the rest of the champagne whilst the ice cream is chilling.

Champagne Ice Cream – adapted from Gourmet Traveller

1/12 cups cream

1/2 cup champagne (like most things related to cooking and wine, don’t use anything too cheap and nasty)

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

Combine cream and champagne in a sauce pan and just being to boil.

Meanwhile whisk egg yolks and sugar in bowl sitting over simmering water, whisk until pale and creamy.

Add eggs and sugar mixture to cream and champagne mixture. Whisk to combine. Heat over a medium heat, stirring with spoon, unlit thickened and coating back of spoon. Be careful with this as if you take it too far, it will scramble the eggs in the mixture.

one thickened put into bowl (not glass or ceramic) and put bowl into cold water and stir for a couple of minutes (you want to cool it down and prevent further cooking).

Once mixture is no longer hot, pop into fridge until cold. then churn in ice cream maker, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, that’s ok just beat it with beater, op in freezer 30 min, then beat again, repeat 3-4 times. Freeze until fully frozen.

Serve with Christmas pudding, Enjoy.

Part of the Sweet Adventure Blog Hop Sweets For Santa Hosted by the Hungry Australian

SABH 12 12 Santa 150 Fig, Raspberry & Ginger Ice Cream Cake (Sweets for Santa)

375 ml (1½ cups)                     pouring cream
                    125 ml (½ cup)                     Champagne
                    4                     egg yolks
                    110 gm (½ cup)                     caster sugar

Pear and Vanilla Vodka Granita with Sweetend Lemon Scented Cream

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A while ago on the Sundays with Joy facebook group they made espresso granita with sweet lemon cream. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like coffee, so I really didn’t want to make it as well its coffee flavoured. However I did play around and make granita based on a cocktail I had recently had. At the time I didn’t blog about it as it was the middle of winter and I had a couple of other posts on the go.

Well Summer’s got off to an early start here, cue ridiculous heat and some humidity. So I thought it might be time to revisit it. Its prefect for summer as its cold, icy and refreshing. It’s also really really really easy to make. You are pretty much mixing a few liquid ingredients, freezing then topping with some whipped cream sweetened with lemon infused sugar.

It’d be a delightful dinner party desert and its easy put sounds really fancy.

I’m giving you a recipe but I suggested tasting it and adding more of less of the ingredients to taste

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2 types of vodka (winner) plus the always fancy sounding elderflower cordial are amongst the ingredients

Pear and Vanilla Vodka Granita with sweetened lemon scented cream recipe adapted from Joy The Baker Cook Book

2 cups warm water

70ml of pear vodka

30ml of vanilla vodka

50 ml elderflower cordial

30ml lemon juice

1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 cups cream

3 tbls sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

In a glass bowl dissolve sugar in water, leave to cool for a bit

Add vodkas, elderflower cordial and lemon juice, mix taste and adjust if required.

Put in freezer, after 1 hour take out and scrape and break up with a fork (what you don’t want to happen is for it to freeze into a solid mass, which is probably unlikely with all the vodka), put back in freezer. After 30 mins take out and scrap with fork again. Leave 3-4 hours until frozen into flaky crystals.

Once it’s all frozen  and flaky, it can stay like this for a few day.

When ready to serve, put sugar into mortar and pestle with lemon zest, lightly pound together to release oils form lemon.

Whipped cream for 1 min, then add sugar, keep whipping until peaks form.

fill glasses with granita, and top with dollop of lemon scented cream.

Enjoy on a hot night.