Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chocolately, chocolately chocolate cake

Yesterday Luke and I were invited over by our friends Robin and Clarisse to play board games, a perfect Sunday afternoon activity. We played Dixit and Small World (I recommend watching the videos I’ve linked to the games, they explain them perfectly), Luke and I hadn’t played either of these before, they were both really fun. I particularly enjoyed the afternoon, as I won! Both games! Yippee!

Unfortunately this didn’t put me in the good books with our hosts, who are both seasoned board game players, luckily though I bought this cake along to share, and all was forgiven.

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Chocolate Buckwheat Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz

170 grams 70% dark chocolate
115 grams salted butter (or unsalted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt)
4 eggs
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup plain full fat yogurt
1 teaspoon powdered vanilla
3/4 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup buckwheat flour

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Melt the butter and chocolate together, I did this in the microwave on reduced power. David says to do this in a bowl over simmering water. To each his own. Either way, melt together until smooth.

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Whisk the four egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar, yogurt and vanilla together in a large bowl. Whisk in the melted chocolate and butter, then stir in the almond meal and buckwheat flour.

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Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually whip in the other 1/4 cup of sugar until and keep whipping until the whites are in firm peaks. Slowly fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture until it’s just combined.

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Pop the cake batter into a springform tin, and bake for around 30 minutes, leaving the center still a little soft. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the cake tin.

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This cake was so yummy, very soft and almost puddingy, and very, very chocolatey. David also suggests making it with hazelnut meal, I’m going to try this next time. Yum!

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Great Ocean Road

After our glorious Tasmanian holiday, Luke’s parents popped down from New South Wales for a visit and more adventures. We hit the road to see more of lovely Victoria via the Great Ocean Road.

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Luke at the helm!

It was a stinking hot day, so getting out and looking around wasn’t as appealing as it might have otherwise been. Regardless, we managed to get out of the air-conditioned car to see the sights. And what glorious sights they were!

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The 12 Apostles.

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The Grotto.

We made it to Port Campbell by early evening, and quickly changed into our bathers and sought relief in the bay. The water was freezing even after days of hot weather, it was the most refreshing swim I’ve ever had. Delicious.

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After a seafood dinner we ate ice creams at the beach, and watched the sun go down. The temperature finally dropped to a manageable level, and I wasn’t a sweaty mess any longer.

In the morning we headed a bit further west to see Warrnambool, visiting a maritime museum and … a vintage shop!

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I sure would like to live in a lighthouse …

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There were ducks! Ducks!

The family had to drag me away from the vintage shop in the end, there were so many treasures.

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I have a thing for souvenir tablecloths.

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This lovely white cardigan is vintage Target. Wish they still sold cool stuff …

After my shopping adventure, we made our way home, unfortunately driving back was not nearly as exciting as driving there. Luke drove us again, while we all napped. What a champion.

On Sunday we took ourselves off to Heide for a wander around the gardens, and to have lunch at Cafe Vue. I love it there, the gardens are gorgeous, and the food is always amazing. I had a sandwich on olive bread, a chardonnay, and an apricot tart. Perfect.

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The perfect kitchen garden.

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Luke. With a corrugated iron cow.

And that sums up our lovely long weekend. Thanks Mel and Neal, come again!

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Banana Cake

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I like bananas when they are only just ripe. Too yellow and they taste icky. This means that we always have an abundance of overripe bananas – either in the fruit bowl or in the freezer. Either are great for this cake. I doubled the recipe and made two cakes, because sometimes one just isn’t enough. As usual, this cake would also be delish full of gluten, just swap the flours listed for regular plain flour.

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Gluten-free banana cake
Adapted from CWA Cakes

250 grams of soft butter
1/2 cup of raw sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
3 eggs
3 overripe bananas
3/4 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup of gluten-free plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 teaspoons of ground ginger

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Fresh on the left, frozen on the right.

Beat the butter and sugars until light and creamy, then beat in the golden syrup and eggs. Mash the ripe bananas and  them stir through. Add the flours, baking powder and ginger and stir to combine. Perfect!

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Pour into a greased and lined tin, and bake at 180 degrees for around an hour. Mine took 65 minutes. Lick the bowl.

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The ginger makes this beautifully bitey, while still being soft, banana-y and moist. Moist! You can top with cream cheese frosting and walnuts if you so please. Or just eat warm from the oven.

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We did both.

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Comida Mexicana

I love Mexican food. Love it. While it can be hard to find authentic Mexican ingredients in Australia, you have more options than an Old El Paso boxed taco kit! Here’s a couple of easy ideas, while they aren’t authentically Mexican, they have delicious Mexican flavour.

Scrambled eggs with beans and corn
Serves two

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4 corn tortillas
4 eggs
knob of butter
a dash of milk
half a tin of corn
half a tin of kidney beans (or black beans would be delish)
a handful of grated cheese
1 spring onion
salsa or hot sauce of your liking
sour cream

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While still in your nighty, pop the kettle on for tea, and warm the corn tortillas. You can do this in the microwave, or on the stove-top in a pan. Don’t crisp the tortillas, just warm them until they are soft and smell nice and corny. Place on plates and sprinkle half the cheese on the warm tortillas to melt a little. Yum.

Pop the eggs, beans, spring onion, corn, milk and the rest of the cheese in a bowl and combine a little. Melt the butter and add the egg mixture. Fold the eggs until cooked, but still soft.

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Place your eggs onto your cheesy tortillas, serve with a touch of sour cream and as much salsa as you please. I buy a lovely salsa verde from Casa Iberica in Fitzroy.

Taco salad
Adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen, serves four

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1 tin of corn
1 tin of chickpeas
1 cup of cooked black beans or a tin of kidney beans
1 onion
1 or 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning (make your own!)
1 cos lettuce
2 tomatoes
1 avocado
coriander
grated cheese
salsa or hot sauce of your liking
lime or lemon
sour cream
bag of corn chips

Fry the onion until translucent, add the beans and corn and warm though. Add as much taco seasoning to make it as spicy as you like, and a couple of tablespoons of water to make it a bit saucy.

Shred your  lettuce, top with the warm beans, then cheese, tomatoes, avocados, salsa, coriander, a squeeze of citrus and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with the corn chips, they are perfect for scooping!

Enjoy!

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Holly loves Christmas

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A little vintage fellow on my vintage silver aluminum tree. The tree belonged to Luke’s grandparents and is treasured.

With a name like Holly, it would be most disappointing if I was one to spurn Christmas. Luckily I love Christmas! What’s not to love? Food, friends, family, holidays, summer (for us anyway!), songs about oneself decking halls, drinking wine and eating shortbread at 11am …

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Gluten-free fruit mince pies – pastry by moi, fruit mince by Mum and Laura.

Luke and I alternate Christmases between my home of Launceston, Tasmania and his home of Lismore, New South Wales. This year was a year to head south and hang with the Brackens. We took some leave from work and headed down to Tassie for 10 days. Bliss!

First off we headed to the north-west coast to visit family, and stock up on Christmas supplies. We did the obligatory pop into Ashgrove Cheese and ate all of the tasting options, twice, but gave the Raspberry Farm and Anvers Chocolates a miss this time. Most restrained of us. Mainly because we already had a house full of raspberries and chocolate treats!

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No one made Luke choose the horse’s arse over a strawberry. No one.

We also stopped at the Berry Patch and the Cherry Shed, both of which provided much amusement. And delicious berries of course.

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The giant cherries were just asking for a pin up pose!

We spent the days before Christmas, cooking, eating, napping, reading, hanging out. Perfection. Then the day was upon us!

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I bought this vintage ‘resort wear’ in Lismore last year with my Christmas money, it was begging to be worn on Christmas Day. It has pockets!  I did change out of it later in the day though in order to fit in more food …

We had a lovely relaxed approach to Christmas lunch. No turkey or overcooked carrots for us! We started with oysters, 12 natural and 12 kilpatrick, then had prawn cocktails, then amazing Tasmanian crayfish in a white wine sauce, then the spread you see below, then pavlova, then plum pudding, then we all exploded.

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Cray legs, boiled new potatoes, broccoli salad, roast chicken, broad beans, caprese salad.

Through out which, we consumed copious cocktails. We began with Santa’s Slays (rum, cranberry juice and sparkling wine), then moved onto a variety of warm weather appropriate cocktails, such as the one below.

Last time we were in Tasmania we attempted a Christmas cocktail hour but were thwarted by a lack of mixers. We only had milk, and to her credit, Laura made a good go of it, offering us a variety of milk based cocktails. However, they didn’t go down very well on a full stomach while sitting in the sun. This has now gone down in Bracken family folklore, meaning “Make me another milk based cocktail!” was an oft heard phrase.

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Laura’s fabulous invention of gin, raspberries, lime and sparkling wine. And not a drop of milk to be seen.

On Boxing Day, we packed up two cars, six people, the dog, a dozen bottles of wine, left over treats and some board games and headed to Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast. This is a glorious part of the world, well worth a visit. Mum hired a fantastic beach house and we proceeded to rest up.

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The view from the balcony. Bliss.

At night we played cribbage, card games and Monopoly. One epic six person game went on for around 4 hours! Some of us enjoyed Monopoly more than others. It’s always more fun when you win, so Laura must of had the best time of all!

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After four days beach-side it was sadly time to head back to Melbourne to commence real life again. Luckily I had one more holiday up my sleeve before work began again, a trip with Luke’s parents down the Great Ocean Road! Which I am sure you shall hear about shortly …

I hope you all had a great Christmas, New Years Eve or just a break if neither of those float your boat. Bring on more family, good food and travels in 2013!

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