Thursday, October 28, 2010

thursday baking - lemon, lime and poppyseed syrup cake

I love the Meyer lemons that are around at the moment - lovely and juicy with bright yellow zest - the perfect lemon for baking with. They were on special at the supermaket last week so I bought a bowlful (I don't have my own lemon tree, sadly) and made these loaves. The recipe says to use a ring tin but I made these cute wee loaves. I had intentions of freezing some but they were so yummy they all got eaten before they made it to the freezer.

The addition of lime made these little loaves especially tangy - I'm going to try using a mix of lemon and lime next time I make my favourite lemon yoghurt cake (Alison Holst's recipe) as although delicious, this recipe didn't have the keeping qualities of the Alison Holst recipe. This surprised me as I expected drowning the little loaves in syrup would have kept them moist but instead they were showing their age after a couple of days.

Lemon, lime and poppyseed syrup cake - Catherine Bell -Week 27

125g butter, softened
2 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
250g castor sugar
3 eggs
200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp poppy seeds
100ml natural yoghurt

3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp castor sugar

Preheat oven to 180c. Place butter, lime and lemon zest in bowl of cake mixer and blend well until light and creamy. Add sugar gradually, beating well after every addition. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Combine the flour, bp and seeds and fold into the butter, alternating with the yoghurt. Spoon into a greased and lined 4-cup capacity ring (or bundt) tin. Bake 30-35 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow cake to stand in tin for 5 mins, then turn onto a rack.

To make the syrup combine all ingredients in a small pan, simmer, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved, then boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Poke holes all over cake with a skewer or fork, and pour syrup over the hot cake. Serve warm or cold with dollops of yoghurt.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

dinner date - fig and goat's cheese tart

This tart was inspired by the goat's cheese frittata with port and black pepper caramelised figs on Nessie's blog. I made it for dinner last Sunday night for our first dinner back at home after two months away. It was probably a little ambitious for a "first dinner" given all the steps involved: making the pastry, chilling it and baking it blind, preparing the figs, caramelising the onions, and roasting the potatoes, then assembling it all... it took several hours from start to finish, (including chilling time for the pastry) and by the time I slipped it into the oven I was exhausted. So exhausted that it wasn't until the tart was nearly cooked that I noticed the goat's cheese still sitting on the bench! So it had to be crumbled on top at the end instead.

I didn't even notice the lack of cheese when I took this photo before baking:

Next time I make this I'll use less figs (maybe 50g) or leave out the caramelised onions. For the quantity of eggs/cream I used there was too much sweetness from the figs and onions combined. It tasted a little bit like dessert rather than the main course!

Here are some rough instructions:
Line a rectangular tart tin with your favourite homemade pastry (or bought pastry to save time). Bake blind for 15 minutes then remove blind-baking material and leave to cool.

Prepare your figs - I used Nessie's recipe and used red wine instead of port. Half the recipe will be plenty, especially if using caramelised onions too.

Caramelise 2-3 onions or use the bought stuff.

Peel and cube 2-3 potatoes (I used Agrias because I love them). Roast in a little oil for 20-30 mins at 200 degrees Celsius or until cooked through.

Beat 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons of cream and season with S&P and a little thyme.

Crumble 60g of soft goat's cheese.

Now assemble - place the figs, onions, potato and cheese into the prepared tart case, pour over the egg mixture and bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

If you can, leave to cool for half an hour before eating. I couldn't - it was nearly 9pm by the time my tart came out of the oven! We ate the tart with a few green leaves mixed with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil which was a suitably plain accompaniment for a tart which perhaps had a few too many ingredients crammed into it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

thursday baking - chocolate, raspberry & coconut slice

As we bake our way through A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

This post comes from our newest Thursday Baker - Jessica.

As a long-time fan of Louise Cake, I was keen to try this version of the traditional slice which has the addition of cocoa in the shortcake base, and grated chocolate in the meringue mixture. Unlike Miriam, I am also a lover of all things coconutty, especially when paired with chocolate (I've been known to eat a disgustingly-large amount of Whittakers coconut rough in one sitting) so was interested to see if this was a baking revelation.

I found the lay-out of this recipe a little confusing and almost misread it and put an entire cup of sugar in the base mixture. I have amended it below to have sugar listed twice, with the first measure to be added to the base and the second to the meringue topping. The original recipe also suggested using 3/4 of a cup of raspberry jam. I thought this sounded a little excessive given the sweetness of the other parts of the slice and so reduced it to 1/2 cup, which I thought was more than ample, and in fact would probably reduce it even further in future.

Chocolate, Raspberry & Coconut Slice, Fiona Smith Week 27
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs separated
1 1/2 cups standard flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup sugar
100g chocolate, grated
1/2 cup long-thread coconut (I toasted this in a pan first as I always think it makes it taste nicer, especially if it's been in your cupboard for a while)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Grease an 18 x 28cm tin and line with baking paper. Cream the butter and first measure of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together and mix into the creamed mixture. Spread into a prepared tin. Top with raspberry jam.Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly beat in the second measure of sugar and then beat until stiff. Fold in the grated chocolate and coconut. Spread this mixture over the jam. Bake for 30minutes, or until the meringue is golden and firm. Cool and slice in the tin. Store in an airtight container for 3 days.

I decided to compare this recipe to my trusty old Louise Cake recipe, courtesy of the Edmonds cookbook. The basic recipe was actually identical other than having 1/2 a cup more flour in the base and 3/4 of a cup more coconut in the meringue. I think if I was to make this recipe again I would use the Edmonds quantities of flour and coconut, as I think this would have resulted in a less crumbly base and a more prominent coconut flavour. Also, I'm not sure the additional hassle of grating chocolate for the meringue was worth the effort, however I did like the chocolatey taste of the base. All in all, I'm not sure I'm a convert to this new recipe. Although quite delicious, I think I'll be sticking to the traditional Louise Cake in the future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

dinner date - spaghetti with crispy crumbs

This is one of our favourite standby dinners. Quick and easy and really delicious. Spaghetti tossed with crispy bacon, sliced semi dried tomatoes, roughly chopped Italian parsley, baby spinach leaves, freshly grated parmesan and the best part, crispy, garlicky breadcrumbs. These crumbs give the pasta the most amazing texture, and really make this dish.

To cook the crumbs, just heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Add a few sliced garlic cloves and cook gently, you don't want it to fry and burn, it's more about allowing time for the garlicky flavour to mellow and blend into the oil. Add a cup or two of coarse fresh (homemade) breadcrumbs and toss to coat in the oil, stir them regularly over a low heat until they turn golden and crispy.

It's lovely too if you add a couple of anchovies with the garlic too, smushing them up into the oil; they don't taste at all fishy, rather they add another layer of savoury saltiness. These crumbs are spectacular over pasta with finely chopped broccoli, lemon zest, a little chopped red chilli and some grated parmesan.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A few of our favourite things...

Becs: I have been making the most of fresh lemons by making old fashioned lemonade. Just combine 200ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons) along with the finely grated lemon zest, 2 1/2 c sugar, 500 ml boiling water and 1 tsp citric acid. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then pour into bottles and refrigerate. This makes enough to fill a large preserving jar plus some. Pour the syrup over ice, fresh mint and lemon slices, and top up with still or sparkling water - a ratio of 1:6 suits me.

Miriam: Thanks to my brother David doing a trial at work on avocados and my friend Bridget scaling her neighbours avocado tree, we have an abundance of these delicious fruit. Guacamole, mashed avocado on Vogels and burgers with avocado will be the menu at my place for the next few weeks!

Libby: We spent a few days in Thailand on our way home last week and while there tried a banana "pancake" - a thinly stretched roti filled with a beaten egg and chopped banana, fried until crispy on the outside and cooked in the middle, sliced into little squares and drizzled with condensed milk! Roti Chenai in Wellington have a banana roti listed on their menu which I have never ordered but wonder if its similar. I am long overdue for a visit to Roti Chenai so will investigate in the coming weeks. I ate my banana pancake before a photo could be taken but you can see how they're made here:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

thursday baking - cheese muffins

This was the second time I made these little muffins. The first time I made them in a hurry to take as a plate to Playcentre, where, it would be fair to say, they didn't exactly bring the house down. I thought it might be nice to have something savoury for a change, but they were well and truly trumped by the chocolate weet-bix slice that someone else brought along. I ate quite a few to make a dent in them, so as not to have to take home an embarrassingly large tinful!

Anyway, despite their humble appearance they are tasty little muffins. Light and soft in the middle, with a crunchy, cheesy crust, and not as rich as my usual cheese muffin recipe. I left half plain, with just cheese, and to the other half of the batter added a tablespoon of basil pesto and tomato chilli jam. These would be delicious made as larger muffins to serve with soup.

I flagged the melted brie bit, but guess it would be nice if eating them with drinks, although I am not a huge fan of melted brie, finding it a bit greasy. Daisy very happily munched her way through one for morning tea, taking an impossibly long time to eat one mini muffin but enjoying it all the same! Next time I make them I will add some grated veges and freeze them for her snacks.

cheese muffins with melted brie - Kathy Paterson - Week 26

2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 c grated tasty cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c oil (I used rice bran)
1 1/2 c milk
200g Camembert or brie, cut into even sized pieces

Preheat oven to 220c. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cheese. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients, and add to dry, mixing just enough to combine. Spoon into greased mini muffin tins. bake for 10-12 minutes. If using the brie, make a small split and place a piece of brie in it. Bake till cheese has melted and serve hot.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

dinner date - Vietnamese chicken salad

Ok so sadly this post is coming to you from Christchurch not Vietnam...however the fresh flavours of this salad are perfect for spring when you are over casseroles and other rib-sticking dinners. The recipe is a bit vague, just make it up as you go along, depending on what you have in the fridge and how many you have to feed. I think one chicken thigh per person is plenty but suit yourself.

The dressing is fantastic, make a jar up at a time, it will keep forever in the fridge, and just needs to be diluted to serve. Use it as a dipping sauce with fresh spring rolls too.

The crispy fried shallots can be bought at Asian supermarkets, they are cheap as and addictive. Possibly not very PC (hmmm not really loving that palm oil...) but so tasty, adding a sweet crunch to this salad. This salad is all about texture so the crunchy mung bean sprouts, nuts and shallots are essential!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

chicken thighs
vermicelli noodles
mung bean sprouts
cucumber, deseeded and julienned
red pepper
fresh mint and coriander
peanuts, roasted and chopped
crispy fried shallots


1-2 red chillis, finely chopped
1 tbsp white or wine vinegar
1/2 c fish sauce
1/4 c fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c sugar

Poach the chicken thighs by placing in a roasting dish, covering with water and baking at 180c for about twenty minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife. Cool and shred.

Blend all dressing ingredients in bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Store in a jar in the fridge. Dilute with one part dressing to one part water before serving.

Toss chicken through the cooked noodles with the prepped veges of your choice. If I use carrots and red peppers I blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so just to make them a bit easier to eat. Toss through with dressing to taste.

Serve bowls of fresh mint, chopped peanuts, crispy shallots and extra dressing on the table for people to add as they like.

Monday, October 11, 2010

a few of our favourite things...

Miriam: I first tried this salad at a family BBQ a year or so ago and just loved it. I've never written the recipe down so it tends to be a bit different every time I make it, but the concept is the same. This version used pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds and peanuts, roasted with turmeric, cumin and coriander seeds (keep a careful eye on the nuts and seeds as it's very easy to burn them). Stir this mixture through some chickpeas, chopped celery and beetroot. Dress with balsamic vinegar, and add fresh coriander if you so desire. This is a robust salad with great flavour and texture, which we now call the 'lets go nuts salad'.

Becs: I think the best ciabatta in NZ is made by artisan baker Rachel Scott. She bakes just twice a week, but the ciabatta keeps quite well, freezes perfectly, and toasts up beautifully. Rachel's bread is freighted nationwide, and at around $5-$6 a loaf is I think value for money when you compare the quality to most other bread marketed as 'ciabatta'. Try it toasted and filled with caramelised onions and thinly sliced rare beef for the ultimate steak sandwich.

Libby: With the temperature in the 30s and high humidity here in Hoi An, I have been enjoying fresh watermelon juice as a lovely refreshing drink. It's just like a slice of fresh watermelon but without all the annoying little black pips! I have no idea how much watermelon is required to fill a glass and doubt I'll ever be making this myself at home but it's been a delicious treat on hot days.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cha Ca La Vong, Hanoi

Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi serves only one dish: cha ca grilled fish. It's a dish I've seen on lots of menus around Hanoi but apparently it originated at Cha Ca La Vong and they've been serving nothing but this one dish for the last 135 years.

Cha Ca La Vong receives very mixed reviews on internet travel forums with some diners pronouncing it the best fish they've eaten in Vietnam and others calling a complete rip-off served up by incredibly rude staff. We decided to give it a go for ourselves and enjoyed the experience! I have to agree about the service though!

To avoid any confusion as to what we would be served, this no-nonsense sign was slapped down on the table in front of us:

Then the components of our meal slowly arrived at our table - vermicelli rice noodles, a big bowl of dill and skinny spring onions, roasted peanuts, herbs (vietnamese mint I think), a bowl of dressing (fish sauce, rice wine & chilli perhaps?) and finally, a sizzling pan of tumeric spiced fish atop a flaming burning.

From what I gathered from the waitress's gestures and watching other diners, we were to tip the bowl of greens (spring onions & dill) into the pan immediately, let it sizzle a bit then serve over the noodles and garnish with the dressing, herbs and peanuts.

I've seen this dish translated as "grilled fish" but its more deep-fried as it comes sizzling and spitting in a centimeter of tumeric-tainted oil. The generous serving of greens went a (very) small way towards negating the greasiness of the fish but it is an oil, salty, dish.

If you take it for what it is and don't get hung about the lack of service or whether your meal is worth 120,000 dong (only about NZ$7-8!) it's a fun way to eat. It's also the closest I've come to cooking my own dinner in awhile and that's quite novel in itself!

Friday, October 8, 2010

old school baking

Some recent baking with a retro theme...classic ginger crunch from Chloe's blog, and an old favourite, St Mary's chocolate cake from our school days. The ginger crunch is a recipe for GC purists with the requisite thin biscuity base, rather than the substantial slabs more often seen in cafes these days. Delicious. Although I do also love the oaty version made famous by Takaha's Wholemeal Cafe.

The chocolate cake recipe was the one provided for the baking competition at our primary school flower shows, and is a perfect tin filler - whipped up in a flash with one bowl, and reliably good without being too rich or fancy. The incredible chocolate icing makes it a bit more special, this is truly the BEST way to top an (everyday sort of) chocolate cake. Although sometimes we used to cut the cake in half, sandwich it together with mock cream and dust the top with icing sugar. How's that for nostalgic...

I made a coffee cake too, with walnuts in it, something else we used to make a lot as kids. The recipe is over at pod and three peas, and the cake provides more retro deliciousness.

St Mary's Chocolate Cake

1 c milk
4 eggs
150 melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp cocoa
2 c sugar
2 c flour

Combine wet ingredients in a bowl and beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Bake at 180c for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday baking...and the winner is

Jessica! Congratulations. Please email us at the address below so we can arrange delivery of your new book & you can start baking.

We were astonished by the number and quality of responses from those of you eager to join the LWD baking family. And we're keen to take advantage of your enthusiasm!

We are always thrilled to have special guest posts. So, we've made a list of all the recipes we are yet to bake from ATONZB. If something takes your fancy and you'd like to post it for Thursday baking, then please send us an email at We'll provide you with the recipe, which you can then bake, photograph, write up and email to us to be published one Thursday. Here's the list of treats still to be baked - we look forward to hearing from you!

All-in-one Pavlova
Almond, Cherry & Cranberry Cookies
Almond Sponge with Citrus Yoghurt Cream and Summer Berries
Baked French Chocolate Tart
Caramel Meringue Slice
Caramel Pecan Slice
Carob Espresso Brownie Slice
Carrot Cake
Cheese Muffins with Melted Brie
Chocolate & Hazelnut Biscotti
Chocolate Custard and Fruit Pastries
Chocolate Date Crumble Slice
Chocolate Raspberry & Coconut Slice
Coconut Meringue Cake
Courgette Slice
Courgette Walnut Loaf
Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortcake
Dark Ale Fruit Cake
Date & Orange Muffins
Delicious Family Favourite Banana Cake
Dream Kisses
Eccles Cakes
Fay's Mumbles
Fig & Aniseed Plaited Scone Loaf
Forgotten Cookies
Fresh Peach Cake
Fresh Plum Cake with Spicy Plum Sauce
Fruity ANZAC Biscuits
Ginger Shortbread
Greek Yoghurt & Honey Cake
Hazelnut Meringue Cake with Grapes
Jewel Nut Cake
Jilly's Chocolate Cake
Lemon Cream Cheese Cake
Lemon, Lime & Almond Cakes
Lemon, Lime & Poppyseed Syrup Cake
Lemon Yoghurt Cake with Orange Blossom
Lolly-Scramble Cupcakes

Louise Cake
Macaroon Dessert Cake
Madeira Cake
Manuka Honey Ginger Snaps
Margaret Price's Ginger Gems
Melting Moments
19th Century American Spiced Apple Cake
No-Bake Ginger & Coconut Chocolate Slice
Oat & Barley Scones
Olive Oil Cake
Orange & Hazelnut Cakes
Orange Blossom Water Madeleines
Orange Muesli Slice
Orange Sponge Cake
Pineapple Cake
Plum and Cardamom Shortcake
Rhubarb Cake
Rhubarb Friands
Rich Christmas Cake
Rose Petal Shortbread
Spiced Date Cake
Summer Berry Baked Cheesecake
Superb Chocolate Cake
Sweet Orange Angel Food Cake
Tamarillo Friands
Upside-down Blueberry Polenta Sponge
Vanna's Chocolate Cake
Viennese Pineapple Cake
Walnut & Orange Passover Cake
Walnut, Prune & Apricot Slice
Wee Choc Almond Cupcakes
Weekend Cake

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

communication cookies

At work, I teach a couple of group sessions on communication skills, with a focus on developing skills of negotiation and assertive communication. As a bit of fun, I put people into pairs, give one person 3 biscuits and the other none, then let them negotiate how the biscuits will be shared.

Although it's a new group each time, I always like to bake something different. There's a big pack of macadamia nuts burning a hole in my freezer at the moment, so I made some old favourites; white chocolate & macadamia nut cookies. I think this is another recipe that I got from Becs way back in our high school days, when this combination was all the rage (we'd probably scoff them after having a smoked chicken, cranberry and brie panini). I still love the texture of the macadamias and the richness of the brown sugar and golden syrup all combined with white chocolate and buttery goodness. An oldie but a goodie!

White chocolate and macadamia cookies

200g butter
1 3/4 cups of brown sugar
1 heaped tbsp golden syrup
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup macadamia nuts
king sized block white chocolate, chopped

Cream butter and sugar. Add golden syrup. Mix in dry ingredients, chocolate, vanilla and nuts. Roll into balls and lightly flatten. Bake for around 12 minutes at 180C. Makes approximately 2 trays.

Here are the biscuits all packaged up and ready to be negotiated for!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

dinner date - paella

I hosted a dinner party last weekend, and when trying to think of an appropriate dish to make, my friend Debbie suggested paella. I don't recall having ever made it before, but it always seems like quite a fun meal. I did a bit of a google search and came up with this, Jamie Oliver recipe.

Chicken, prawns, bacon, chorizo, this paella has it all! It had a great smokey flavour from the paprika. I haven't really cooked with saffron before, but bought some Equagold saffron extract to use in this dish. I'm not sure it added anything (or there may have just been so many other flavours I didn't notice). A tip mum taught me, is to always buy frozen (or fresh) prawns uncooked i.e. grey rather than pink. Some cooked prawns were mistakenly bought in my household for another dish a few weeks ago and we will never do that again - they were very tough and chewy.

I'd certainly make this dish again, and it's great to make when cooking for guests, as you can do lots of the prep beforehand. Plus, it's relatively low maintenance, as it doesn't involve lots of dishes, and you can just plonk the pan onto the table to serve. Delicious!

Monday, October 4, 2010

a few of our favourite things...

Miriam: I planted poppies in the garden well over a month ago, and have been upset to see most of them battered around with all the wind and rain. However, Sunday was a beautiful day in Auckland, and after being out in the Waitakeres walking the stunning Omanawanui Track I was excited to come home and discover that this pink poppy had emerged. It looks oh so cheery and reminds me that summer is well and truly on its way.
Becs: I love my Mastrad mandoline, and use it regularly, mostly to finely shred cabbage, slice potatoes thinly and evenly for gratins, and apples for puddings. Not a kitchen tool for the faint-hearted - a steady hand is required - a mandoline makes quick and perfect work of vege prep. If you were so inclined you could also use the fancy rippled edge option to make retro garnishes...It's plastic, and pretty cheap at $60, compared to the stainless steel versions that can cost hundreds, but does the trick for a utensil used maybe once a week or so and is still nice and sharp a few years later. I bought my mandoline from one of my favourite sources of kitchenware - Table Pride. This little shop in Tauranga boasts an extenstive array of top brands, and their excellent website guarantees their prices to be the lowest online. Be sure to check their site before buying elsewhere!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

L'Isle sur la Sorgue - a market visit

L'Isle sur la Sorge is a small village in Provence that gets completely overtaken by a the market on Sunday mornings. Stalls line its narrow streets and riverside footpaths. I've been to a few markets now and taken many, many photos of all the food especially the fruit and vegetables but this market was the highlight. Stall holders take such pride in how they present their products. On mum's advice (she loves this market too) we arrived early and avoided the crowds.

Here's a selection of (mostly) food photos. There were clothes, jewellery, quilts and olive oil soaps on offer too but I was there for the food!

I would have loved to have bought lots of delicious goodies but being on the move it wasn't really practical so I chose a cute little bowl to add to my collection...

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