Chocolate Sunday

Rose, pistachio and cardamom chocolate bark

Isn’t it great that there’s a whole day dedicated to chocolate?!

Okay, okay, I’m not being serious. And I certainly don’t mean to be insensitive to any religious folks out there. I do realise that for a great many people, Easter is about much more than chocolate. However as I’m an atheist to the bone, this weekend is pretty much ALL about the brown sticky goodness. That and having four days off work of course, could there be a better holiday?!

Almond and apricot chocolate bark

So this week I tried my hand at making chocolate bark; because a chocolate-melting project is always fun and you can really get creative with the flavours and appearance. For a few pointers I checked my infallible The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who like me is a little unable to stick to recipes; basically it helps you to mix and match flavours and gives you pointers and ideas as to what works well together (and why) without actually giving any recipes. I love it. After some flicking I decided to dress up some super-dark chocolate with almond and apricot and also rose, pistachio and cardamom. And what can I say? The Flavour Thesaurus never fails, although when you start with excellent quality, rich, dark chocolate, you would have to have a very serious fail for it not to taste like more, oh so much more.

Rose, pistachio & cardamom chocolate bark

Many thanks need to go to The Fella for helping me out with these photos. I made these on quite a hot day and struggled to take any decent shots in good light before the chocolate began to melt. He’s a bit of a creative whizz with the camera and help me tonnes. He did have quite the incentive though and obviously I rewarded him well! If you’re interested in checking our more of his work check out his website.

Happy chocolate day!

Almond and apricot chocolate bark & Rose, pistachio and cardamom chocolate bark

Almond and apricot chocolate bark & Rose, pistachio and cardamom chocolate bark

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Carrot and orange cake

Carrot and orange cake with cream cheese icing and walnuts

I’ve been writing this silly little blog for nearly two years now, that’s mad isn’t it?! I’ve got to be honest, for the longest time I was a bit weird about it.

You see, the truth is I’m actually quite private. Yeah right you say! But it’s true. Yes, I realise I project my life onto the internet for full public consumption, but that’s easy when you hide behind a pseudo-name and an avatar. It took me years to get a Facebook account, I still am slightly scared by twitter and I can’t even begin to fathom Pinterest, so it came as no surprise that I took a little time to ease into the blogging.

Cream cheese icing and walnuts

For the first few months I barely even told my friends about my project, I certainly never interacted with the wider blogosphere (yes, I did just use that word, a sure sign I am now a bona-fide part-time blogger!). I was so terrified that someone might actually SEE it, shock HORROR! Over time, I have (very) slowly been working on this.

So ten days ago, when I went to a food bloggers meetup group, I was really really stepping outside my comfort zone. The people I met there were amazing and all write such unbelievably drool-tastic blogs that it made me feel immediately self-conscious. They also spoke another language, one I’m not very familiar with; SEO, engagement and PR were just some of the foreign and strange terms being bandied about. I just sipped my wine, nodded, smiled and tried to at least look like I knew what they were talking about.

Carrot and orange cake silce

Seriously though, it was wonderful to meet such lovely, energetic and creative people. Left-brained auld me can always do with a dose of inventive thinking and inspiration, check out some of their blogs below (in no particular order) to get some for yourself.

It has also made me think a little more seriously about what I want to get out of my hobby, which has been good. And I realise that I am what I am. I am never going to take the best photographs, or write the snappiest posts, get 10 bazillion hits a day or even write the most interesting recipes. But that’s all OK. As long as I’m still excited to be in the kitchen, making things that make my belly gurgle and pushing myself to write something that at the very least doesn’t put people to sleep, I’ll be happy.

Also, I made carrot cake and it was good.

Check out all of this yumness: Belly Rumbles, Simon Food Favourites, 84th & 3rd.com, Mademoiselle Slimalicious, The Littlest Anchovy, Raging CravingsOne Small Pot, and last but by no means least Chew Town.

Carrot and orange cake

Carrot and orange cake slice with cream cheese icing and walnuts

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Upsidedown Paddy’s day tricolour salad

Irish flag Aussie salad

Well it’s that time of year again, when the entire world commandeers my nationality and dyes everything green. Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

Paddy’s day as an expat is a strange experience to say the least, although I’d say it would be worse for Irish people living in the States. It’s such a big deal, a day that everyone knows about, but no one is really sure what’s it for. According to the rest of the world St Patrick was some drunk bloke who wore oversized green top hats and said thirty-three and a third a lot.

This year I’m OK with it though, people can think what they want to as long as it makes them happy. And if they get a bit of craic out of it, sure all the better.

Leprechauns and mangos

The Fella thinks I’m an absolute disgrace to my country for posting this picture, he thinks I deserve to get my passport taken off me because of it. But I say, if the world wants leprechauns, why not give them leprechauns?

You can all blather on about corned beef (baffling and disgusting in equal measures), leprechauns (just plain lame) and pots of gold (I don’t know if any of you folks heard, but Ireland is currently owned by the IMF) as much as you like and I won’t bat an eyelid. But, I would really like to remind everyone that there are actually two other colours in the Irish flag. Yes folks, believe it or not there is some orange and white in there too! I know right? It just blows your mind.

I made this salad as an homage to the oft-forgotten tricolour, where mango represents the orange and macadamia the white. An Australian take on my national flag if you were, as mangos and macadamia nuts are a little harder to come by in county Louth.

I will be celebrating Paddy’s day in Sydney CBD with The Fella and his family and I’ve no doubt there won’t be a tractor or a bunch of shamrocks in sight, but it will be fun none the less. And I hope you have the craic too, wherever you are in the world and however you choose to celebrate; but I do ask this: as you’re tucking into your green beer, do save a thought for the tricolour, sure it’s a grand wee flag!

Upsidedown Paddy’s day tricolour salad – spinach, mango and macadamia

Tri colour salad

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Raspberry vodka

Raspberries

This one is for my very very awesome mate, Dr B.

For a long time now, she has been my number one drinking buddy, and no doubt she will remain so for many many years (and hangovers) to come.

This woman is a vodka connoisseur, a discerning, knowledgeable and appreciative consumer, who knows her Gray Goose from her Absolut.

That is until she’s had a few; then all wisdom goes out the window and it’s a free for all. But sure who needs wisdom anyway? It’s totally overrated in my opinion.

Raspberry Vodka Bottle
Whoever thought of mixing fruit with sugar and vodka was a genius, as this raspberry vodka is unbelievably delicious. If you think it’s going to be like the skittles vodka you drank in your student years, think again. This is the grown up version. It’s not too sweet and tastes so strongly of raspberries you almost forget about the vodka, at least until it warms the back of your throat and of course, slams into your synapses.

So now you can get drunk, talk shite and act the maggot, all the while safe in the knowledge that you’re at least getting a little more mature with your choice of drink. Sounds just perfect for a vodka-aficionada-come-messer-extraordinaire I know.

Cheers Doll, I know you’ll enjoy!

Raspberry vodka

RaspberryVodkaShot

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Bread for your belly

Rosemary flecked focaccia

If you haven’t seen the film Anchorman, you should, right now. Stop reading this post and go rent it. I’m serious.

Those of you that have will no doubt remember Ron Burgundy singing at his scotch:

I love scotch.
Scotchy scotch scotch.
Here it goes down, down into my belly…….

And so on.

Well today I am here to confess that I feel much the same way about bread. It’s sad really, scotch and bread don’t really have a lot in common, one takes 18 years to mature, is smooth and effortlessly cool and the other is, well, just bread. But the heart (and by heart I of course mean belly) wants what it wants.

If someone told me in the morning I could never eat bread again I think I might consider slapping them; at the very least I’d shout at them, loudly. I always feel sorry for those women in glossy magazines who profess the benefits of a carb-free diet. I mean, they may be skinny, rich and successful, but could they really be happy? I doubt it. But then again, the less bread they eat, the more there is for me, whoop!

The magic of yeast

Magic stuff, that yeast!

Making your own bread is a lot less effort than you’d think and the results are oh so worth it. You just need time and a little elbow grease. The recipe I’m sharing today is one I’ve adapted from Maureen Tatlow’s The Back to Basics Cookbook. I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes and I just love it.

There are just two things to point out with it, if you don’t put in the requisite kneading time your bread will be heavy and dense; but hand-kneading for 10 minutes is a kind of exercise and so in a way makes up for the delicious carb overload that’s coming. The second thing is, this bread doesn’t keep well, you really need to eat it on the day it’s made, although it does toast really well on the day after. So adjusting the quantities to suit your hunger levels ain’t a bad idea.

Rosemary flecked focaccia

Rosemary focaccia

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