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?
It’s hard to believe it’s November already. For me, November heralds the start of the party season and the count-down to Christmas. As your calendar starts to fill up, it’s handy to have some tasty recipes for entertaining.
I actually “borrowed” this recipe from a friend who recently purchased a thermomix. Now I love my kitchen gadgets, but haven’t been able to make the commitment to purchase one, but I’ve heard they are fantastic and she was excited to be experimenting with new recipes. I’ve added my own twist to the ingredients and come up with the below version (no thermomix required). I used a store-cupboard standby with the roasted peppers, but you could roast your own fresh red capsicum if you desire. If you would like a chunkier version of this dip, process the ingredients without the cashews first, then add the cashews and pulse the food processor until you achieve your desired texture. If your dip is a little to thick, you could add a bit of the drained oil that the tomatoes came in to help in getting the desired texture.
Serve your dip with your favourite accompaniments – crackers or vegetable crudités.
What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian
Cashew and Tomato Dip
- 100g semi-sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 birds eye chilli
- 50g roasted red peppers or roasted red capsicum, drained
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 120g raw unsalted cashews
- 30g parmesan cheese
- Add the tomatoes, peppers, cashews, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to your food processor or thermomix bowl.
- Blend until you have achieved your desired texture.
- Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.
What is your favourite stand-by recipe when friends drop by? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
I was meeting friends in Centennial Park today for a baby shower picnic, and was responsible for bringing dips. I wanted to bring one of my favourite dips, tzatziki. After researching different recipes, it seems the secret with this dip is to keep things simple. I was thinking of experimenting with the addition of spices, but the only things that seem to be added are a generous amount of salt and pepper, and either mint or dill. I went with adding both herbs, and some lemon zest and lemon infused olive oil for an extra citrus kick.
The raw garlic actually adds a bit of heat to the dip, so taste as you go when adding the garlic and pepper. Some recipes ask you to peel the cucumber and / or scoop out the seeds, I didn’t but instead allowed the yoghurt and grated cucumber to drain to remove some of the excess liquid. Suspend your strainer over a bowl to allow the liquid to drip through.
Serve this dip with your favourite crackers, or vegetable crudités (I used celery and carrot sticks) or as part of a Middle-Eastern inspired feast.
What I was cooking this time last year: Asian Marinated Salmon
- 1 cup natural greek-style yoghurt
- 1 cucumber
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used lemon infused)
- 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grate the cucumber and add to a suspended strainer.
- Add the yoghurt to the grated cucumber in the strainer and set aside for the excess liquid to drip through.
- Set aside the draining yoghurt and grated cucumber for half-an-hour while you prepare your vegetable crudités.
- Discard the liquid and add the yoghurt and grated cucumber to the blow.
- Grate the lemon zest and finely mince the garlic and add to the bowl.
- Add the finely chopped mint, dill, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix with a spoon until everything is combined.
- Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.
What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
In preparation for embracing the “Swank Diet” in the new year, I am taking steps to wean myself off certain favourite foods. A lot of the diets books I have been reading say it is important not to put your body through sudden and / or drastic changes, so I am currently cutting back on coffee and dairy products, and if I am eating dairy, using low-fat or no-fat versions. If you are regular follower of this blog, you may have detected that I love baking and I believe cake should be classified as its’ own food group. The inspiration for this recipe is to come up with a cake that doesn’t use butter. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s healthy, but for me, it’s a step in the right direction.
The cake has been drowned in a sticky syrup, which you could skip if you want or need to reduce your sugar intake. Delicious served warm alongside a scoop of fat free natural yoghurt.
What I was cooking this time last year: Veggie Burgers
Lemon Poppy Seed Yoghurt Cake
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 3/4 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup zero fat yoghurt
- 1/2 cup rice bran oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 2 lemons
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Generous pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- Turn the oven on to 180°C to pre-heat.
- Add the flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, yoghurt and oil to your food processor bowl.
- Juice the zested lemons, and add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the food processor bowl.
- Mix until the cake batter is combined.
- Add the poppy seeds to the food processor bowl and pulse until mixed into the cake batter.
- Grease a cake tin.
- Pour the cake mix into your greased cake tin, and set a timer for 45 minutes (you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on your oven and cake tin size).
- To make the syrup zest 2 lemons to produce long strips of zest. Add to a saucepan.
- Juice the lemon, to create 1/4 cup lemon juice, add 1/4 cup of water and add to the saucepan.
- Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the lemon zest and juice mix.
- Cook the syrup mixture over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil.
- Take the syrup off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Once the cake is cooked, remove from the tin and pour over the syrup while the cake is still hot.
- Serve warm or once cooled. Enjoy.
What is your favourite healthy(ish) cake recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
One of my all time favourite flavours is lemon. When I was making the Australian Women’s Weekly classic, Caramel Chocolate Slice recently, I was inspired to try a citrusy version. This slice is my Lemon and White Chocolate Slice.
I like to use the zest and well as the juice of lemons to give an extra citrus boost when I am cooking. Cooking the lemon filling is more to cook out the egg yolks than to actually thicken the curd, the reaction between the lemon juice and condensed milk when mixing without any heat produces a thick filling. With the cooking oil you use, I recommend you select a neutral flavoured oil, I used rice bran oil.
I recommend you bring your finished slice to room temperature before slicing if you have refridgerated it, otherwise the chocolate topping will be prone to cracking as you chop (I learnt this the hard way, and the firm chocolate caused the lemon filling to ooze out a little). The slice is quite rich, you I recommend you cut into dainty portions – you can always go back for seconds or thirds if you still have room.
What I was cooking this time last year: Banoffee Pie
Lemon and White Chocolate Slide
* This recipe was adapted from a Caramel Chocolate Slice recipe by The Australian Women’s Weekly recipe cards. I have modified and adapted it to come up with the below reincarnation.
- 120g butter
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup self-raising flour
- 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 400g can condensed milk
- 2 lemons
- 2 egg yolks
- Generous pinch of salt
- 22og white chocolate
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- Turn the oven on to 180°C. to pre-heat.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Add the oats, flours, brown sugar and melted butter to a food processor bowl. Mix the biscuit base mixture until combined.
- Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
- Tip the biscuit base mixture into the lined baking tray, and press out evenly over the base of the tray.
- Cook the biscuit base in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove the biscuit base from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Add the condensed milk to the saucepan used to melt the butter.
- Zest and juice the lemons and add to the condensed milk in the saucepan.
- Add the 2 egg yolks and salt to the saucepan and mix everything to combine.
- Cook the lemon filling over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is hot. Continue cooking for a further two minutes to ensure the egg yolks are cooked.
- Pour the hot lemon filling over the biscuit base, spread out to create an even layer. Set aside to cool.
- Add the white chocolate and cooking oil to a large bowl.
- Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.
- Pour the white chocolate over the lemon filling layer, spread out to create an even layer. Set aside to cool.
- Remove the lemon slice from the baking tray and cut into serving size pieces. Enjoy.
What is your favourite lemon recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
This is a pescetarian twist on the comforting classic carbonara classic recipe. The traditional carbonara generally consists of eggs, cheese, bacon (or similar) and black pepper. I’m not sure what it is about the creamy richness of the sauce, smokiness from the fish combined with the zesty tang from the lemon, but this is my ultimate (savoury) comfort food.
When adding the lemon juice to your cream and egg mixture, add a little juice at a time and stir as you go to combine and prevent curdling (and don’t try and add cream to lemon juice or you really will end up with a mess).
I used hot smoked trout which has a texture similar to cooked fish, but with the delicious smokey flavour. You could also use regular smoked trout or smoked salmon to similar effect. This is to substitute for the bacon flavour in the original carbonara recipe.
Regarding your herbs, feel free to experiment. I used lemon thyme and tarragon because that is what I happened to have growing and both go well with seafood. I added the spinach in a feeble attempt to inject some healthiness into the recipe.
I love the slurpiness of spaghetti, but feel free to use your favourite pasta.
What I was cooking this time last year: Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup
Creamy trout pasta
* This recipe was adapted from a Lemon Linguine recipe in “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson. I have modified and adapted it over the years to come up with the below reincarnation.
- 2 egg yolks
- 150mls cream
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (I used lemon thyme and tarragon)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 spring onions
- 100g hot smoked trout
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
- salt and plenty of black pepper
- Pasta for 2
- parmesan cheese, to serve
- Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil to cook your pasta.
- Finely chop the spring onions and crush the garlic.
- Heat the olive oil in another saucepan over a low heat and add the garlic and chopped spring onions.
- In a measuring jug add the cream and egg yolks. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
- Zest the lemon and add to the cream mixture.
- Juice the lemon and add a little juice at a time, stirring to combine.
- Add the cream mixture and herbs to the garlic and onions and stir to combine.
- Put your pasta on to cook in the boiling salted water.
- Flake the trout and add to the cream sauce, stir to combine.
- Add the baby spinach and stir to combine and wilt the spinach.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the cream sauce.
- Stir to combine.
- Serve, garnished with parmesan cheese. Enjoy.
What is your favourite pasta dish? 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?