I’m freshly back from a wonderful trip to Cuba. While I didn’t discover many amazing foodie delights to share with you, the food I experienced in Cuba was fresh and plentiful, but a bit on the plain side. I did however get a chance to cement my love of mojitos, which I’m fairly sure will be my drink of choice this summer. I also discovered a Cuban cocktail new to me, the Canchánchara at a beach party just outside of Trinidad. The beach party was fabulous complete with bonfire, Cuban band, sun setting into the ocean and the cocktails flowing.
My highlights from Cuba include the proud and passionate people, the amazing architecture – either crumbling or painstakingly restored, the music and salsa dancing.
Rum is cheap and plentiful in Cuba, and forms the basis for most Cuban cocktails. It is made with sugar cane or small guavas, ranging from white rums through to darker aged rums. Havana Club is the brand most easily obtained outside of Cuba, but Barcardi also originated in Cuba. This cocktail relies on a balance between sweet from the honey, sour from the lemon and a healthy kick from the rum. Lime and lemongrass can also be used instead of or as well as the lemon. Feel free to play with the ratios until you get a balance that is right for you. In the spirit of the margarita, and because of the heat in Cuba, you could also add a pinch of salt to replace some of the salts lost through sweating.
What I was cooking this time last year: Seasame Shortbread
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 shots of white rum
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Soda water or sparkling mineral water
- Add the honey, rum and lemon juice to a glass. Stir to combine.
- Add ice and fill the glass with sparkling water. Stir. Enjoy.
What is your favourite summer cocktail recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
In the spirit of the cooler weather that is still lingering in Sydney and July, I wanted to experiment with a mulled wine recipe this week. If you are having a party, it would be perfect to make up a big batch and have it keeping warm in a slow cooker for your guests to ladle.
For me, christmas inspired spices include cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Lots of recipes call for sugar and orange in their mulled wine recipe, I decided to substitute marmalade to give some sweetness and citrus tang. Use a red wine you would be happy drinking, I used an Australian shiraz. It is important to only gently heat your mulled wine and not let it boil, otherwise all of the alchohol will evaoporate away. If you want to pimp up your mulled wine in the alcohol stakes you could add a wee nip or three of brandy.
What I was cooking this time last year: Zucchini Fritters
- 1 bottle (750mls) red wine
- 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed
- 6 cloves
- I star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 kaffir lime leaf
- 1 tablespoon marmalade
- Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan.
- Heat over a low heat until warmed through.
- Ladle serves into mugs or heat-proof glasses, avoiding or straining off the whole spices.
- Your mulled wine is ready to serve with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. Enjoy.
What is your favourite warming drink? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
For my mum’s birthday cake, she put in an order for something with lemon curd. Lemon curd is also known as lemon butter. I had been wanting to experiment with macadamias in a cake for a while and thought a macadamia cake would compliment a tangy lemon butter beautifully.
Macadamias are a nut that are native to Australia and a few other countries in South East Asia. In Australia we are able to readily buy the nuts, either roasted and salted, raw or chocolate covered, and also buy macadamia nut oil, which is good for baking. I used both the raw macadamia nuts and macadamia oil in my cake. Because of the high oil content in the nuts, I processed them with the flour so that I did not end up with a macadamia nut butter type concoction.
This is my twist on recipes that use ground almond meal. I used 2 x 20cm or 8″ round cake tins to bake my cake. I used the lemon curd as a filling with cream for the middle and poured instead of icing over the top. My cake ended up looking quite rustic, because I was too impatient to let the lemon curd set fully and poured it over the cake while it was still quite runny.
To test if something is at “coats the back of a wooden spoon” stage, take your wooden spoon you have been using to stir out of your liquid, and draw a line across the back of the spoon with your finger. If the line you have drawn stays there, and liquid isn’t bleeding down and distorting the line, it is ready.
Macadamia Cake with Lemon Curd Icing
- 300mls double or extra thick cream
- Lemon jelly or jube lollies to decorate
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3/4 cup macadamia oil plus extra to grease your cake tins
- zest from 1 or 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 200g raw macadamias
- 100g butter, chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C, grease 2 x 20cm or 8″ cake tins with a generous coating of macadamia oil and cut out 2 circles of grease-proof baking paper to line the bottom of the tins.
- In a food processor, blitz the macadamias and flour until the macadamias are finely chopped and resemble almond meal.
- Add the baking powder, sugar, lemon zest and blitz to combine.
- Add the eggs, lemon juice and macadamia oil and blitz to combine.
- Divide the cake mixture between the 2 cake tins and smooth the tops.
- Bake the for approximately 25 minutes. When the cake bounces back when touched and is cooked, remove from the oven.
- Leave the cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the tin.
- Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Your cake is ready to serve, enjoy it while it is still warm or once it has cooled.
- To make your lemon curd, add your curd ingredients to a heat proof bowl.
- Half fill a saucepan with hot water and place on the stove top over a medium to low heat, to great a gentle simmer.
- Set the bowl over a saucepan of hot water to create a bain marie.
- Stir the curd over the saucepan of hot water until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove the curd from the heat and the bain marie. Refrigerate the curd until you are ready to assemble your cake.
- To assemble your cake, place one cake on your serving plate.
- Coat the first cake with lemon curd and cream.
- Set the second cake on top of the cream and lemon curd, and coat the top of the cake with extra lemon curd to ice.
- Decorate with your lemon lollies if using.
- Your cake is ready to serve. Refrigerate until you are ready for the birthday candles and singing.
What is your favourite birthday cake? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
While most of us are still getting over our overindulgent Christmas celebrations, it is time to start thinking about celebrating New Years Eve. New Years Eve tends to be a time for reflecting back on the past year (2012 was quite a roller coaster ride for me with a few lows but plenty of highs), remembering everything I have to be grateful for and looking forward to what lies ahead. For me, it also tends to be a time shared with friends, while Christmas is focused around spending quality time with family.
To help get you in a celebratory mood, I wanted to share this cocktail recipe with you. Nothing says celebration quite like the sound of a champagne cork popping (or in Australia, locally produced sparkling wine). For a delicious, affordable Australian sparkling wine, I recommend Yellowglen Cremant.
This drink combines the fizz of sparkling wine with the summer flavours of mint and passionfruit. I normally use Lemoncello, an Italian lemon liquor in this recipe, but my favourite local bottle shop Kemneys was all out, so I improvised and used Cointreau instead. You could use any citrus flavoured liquor you have available.
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.
- 125mls ruby red grapefruit (zest before juicing, if you want to include zest in your recipe)
- 125mls Cointreau, Lemoncello or citrus liquor
- 5 passionfruit
- 20 mint leaves
- Sparkling wine or champagne
- Zest the grapefruit if you are adding zest to your recipe for extra citrus tang
- Juice the grapefruit, and add 125mls to a container with the zest
- Cut the passionfruit in half, and scrape the seeds and juice into the container
- Add the Cointreau or Lemoncello
- Finely chop the mint and add to the punch mix
- Stir your punch mix to combine, then freeze. Because of the high alcohol content the punch mix won’t freeze firm and you will end up with a slushy icy mix.
- When ready to serve, spoon a generous amount of your icy punch mix into a champagne glass, and top with sparking wine or champagne. Your sparkling punch cocktail is ready to serve. Enjoy.
What is your favourite New Years Eve ritual? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
As Christmas gets closer, I wanted to share with you a cocktail recipe that I think looks very festive with red and green colours. I can’t claim the Japanese Slipper cocktail recipe as my own, but I am borrowing it to include in my post today.
I used maraschino cherries or glace cherries, and managed to track down ones with the stems still intact. The stems make it easier to fish the cherry out of the bottom of your cocktail glass to eat when you have finished your drink. I don’t normally like maraschino cherries, but there is something kitch and appropriate about their bright red colour and candy like taste in this drink.
I’ve given quantities for one drink, but you can of course scale depending on how many you are catering for.
If limes are hard to come by or expensive, you could substitute lemon juice, or use half lemon and half lime juice.
- 1 maraschino cherry with stem
- 30mls lime juice
- 30mls Midori melon liqueur
- 30mls Cointreau liqueur
- Add a cherry to the bottom of your serving glass, I like to use a martini glass, but you could use a champagne glass or whatever else you think will look good.
- Fill up your cocktail shaker with ice
- Add the lime juice, Midori and Cointreau to the cocktail shaker
- Shake until everything is combined and chilled
- Strain your cocktail into the glass, keeping the ice out of your drink. Your cocktail is ready to serve. Enjoy.
What is your favourite Christmas cocktail? Has this post inspired any new ideas?