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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Pork with a serious, devilishly good (chocolaty!!) twist

If you’re anything like me you will think chocolate and wine are thee very  bestest inventions in the whole entire wide universe. Fact.

They are delicious together. Or separately. For breakfast (well maybe not the wine), brunch, lunch or tea. When you’re happy, sad, bored, stressed or just feel like you deserve a treat. I honestly don’t know what I would ever do if, in a desert island type situation, I had to choose between The Fella and a chocolate-red-wine combo. I’d certainly need a glass of wine to help me mull it over, I may need several in fact.

But… what if you mix these two yummie ingredients with something totally left of field, something completely unusual, something like pork? Am I blowing your mind?! I hope so because this dish is very very special indeed.

This is a recipe from Rachel Allen’s Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends, and it has been a major hit since the first time I made it a few years ago. Initially people are very reluctant to try it, but after a little coaxing and a taste, it gets gobbled up quicker than you can say: but chocolate isn’t supposed to be for dinner! Of course, you don’t actually taste the chocolate; it just adds a beautiful richness and sweetness to the sauce. Midweek dinner this ain’t, this is RICH and filling and unusual, but totally delicious. So I urge to mix it up a bit this weekend and try it, I guarantee you’ll love it, or your money back.

Sweet and sour pork with raisins, pine nuts and chocolate

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Wintertime pear and almond cake

It’s currently wintertime in Sydney.

Now I know that for some of you, the above statement makes absolutely no sense. In fact, you’re sitting there thinking that it’s a pure contradiction in terms. Well I’m here to drop some knowledge people: yes, they do get winter in Australia.

Three whole weeks of it in fact! Burrrr.

I’ve  expressed my opinion previously on the Sydney winter, and therefore am not going to keep talking about it, lest I start to get into rant territory. Instead, I’d just like to share some small thoughts with the dear people of Sydney. For example, did you know that wintertime can be a whole lot less traumatic if you a) get central heating in your house and b) dress appropriately? True story. Another true story: winter happens all over the world. Honestly. Everyone gets it at some point, so you’re not special, sorry. And lastly, don’t you know that winter is the perfect time to stuff your face full of all kinds of calorific yumness? It’s like, why it was invented.

So you see, you’re missing the point! It’s a time for tea and roasts and spuds and pudding with sticky sauce and melting cheese on stuff and many MANY hot ports. Fact.

Today I did some seasonal celebrating of my own by making this delicious pear and almond cake; and I would strongly encourage you all to do the same as it was totally divine. Pears are one of my favourite winter fruits and pairing them with almonds seems to work really well. This cake is dense, sticky and crumbly sweet. It’s the perfect warming reward after a chilly Sunday afternoon jaunt. It’s also a great reward for getting to the end of your chapter, or for keeping the couch warm all day, or for intending to go out, or for….

Pear and almond cake

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Creamy, basily, mushroomy pasta

The Fella and I spent this weekend in Melbourne, where we had a frickin’ deadly time. We were visiting with some of my good friends and had a very enjoyable night out with them on Saturday. Needless to say we were feeling a tincy wincy bit delicate yesterday morning. So in the name of recovery, we all sat around in our jim-jams, drinking coffee, eating sweets and watching reality TV. It was possibly a perfect Sunday morning.

I’m a bit of a closet reality TV fan; my favourites include Four Weddings, Come Dine with Me and One Born Every Minute. But reality TV in Australia takes things to a whole new level; it’s all just so damn dramatic. For example, yesterday we watched a number of episodes of My Kitchen Rules. The premise is very similar to Come Dine with Me; however the contestants not only cook for each other, but also for two professional chefs, who then rate the meal. However unlike CDWM, it was all so very very super SERIOUS. There was minus craic, but plenty of dramatic music and lingering looks. Not so many ridiculous drunken antics but more food snobbery than you could shake a stick at. It was just not enjoyable.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think most people just like easy to cook and eat simple and delicious food? Surely food snobbery just alienates people and makes the kitchen seem even scarier than it should? With that thought in mind I decided to share with you all my quickest, most yumbo pasta-surprise recipe. Haute cuisine it ain’t but it sure tastes goooood.

Creamy, basily, mushroomy pasta

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