Tag Archives: Nuts

Classics with a twist: Chocolate Hazelnut cake

25 Aug

I have always been a person who has experimented with personal style. Not always very successfully but I have tried. I remember when much younger I went through a phase of refusing to wear matching socks. We are not talking laziness about finding two matching socks, because heaven knows my socks were always paired rolled and in the appropriate drawer…thanks Mutti. No I carefully matched, mismatching socks to my outfit. I assume this came from some American TV show and I adopted it in an attempt to be different and cool. I clearly failed to understand that cool in child world means fitting in.

As I went through my early teen years I adopted a more refined grunge look. Accessories formed a large part of this particular look. Long layered skirts and dresses with asymmetric hats and doc martens. Of course puberty put an end too this experimentation. It is truly disappointing to realise that floating hippie dresses don’t mix well with boobs and bums 😦 However in all of this experimenting I continue to claim I had a tendency towards trying to add a classic component to any current fashion trend. I now understand that no matter how much I marvel at some girl’s ability to look positively gorgeous in rolled up boyfriend jeans with high heels and a imitation Chanel jacket. I will simply look like a deranged escapee from the Salvation Army store. So I stick with classics with a twist of colour or pattern.

Chocolate hazelnut cake

This cake to me is the perfect mix of a classic rejigged. ‘How passe!’ you exclaim flourless chocolate cake..it has all been done before. Yes indeed it has…. and this version may not be entirely cutting edge, but it is a classic flourless cake with the twist of hazelnut meal. In the same way that mismatched socks represented my attempt at being fashion forward in my youth, I will happily have my current tastes defined by this cake. Classic, decadent and a little boozy and so is the cake 😉

Chocolate and Hazelnut cake

Serves 8

adapted from Donna Hay recipe for Chocolate and Pecan cake featured in Issue 69 Donna Hay Magazine

  • 350 gms dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 150 gms unsalted butter cubed
  • 6 eggs seperated
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 2/3 cups of hazelnut meal
  • 1 tsp of vanilla paste
  • 1 cup if brown sugar
  • cocoa for dusting

1. Preheat an oven to 160 degrees. Line and grease a 22 cm spring formed tin

2. Break the chocolate into a bowl with the butter and place into a microwave on 80% power at 40 second intervals until melted.

3. Beat egg yolks vanilla and 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 minute and then add brandy, chocolate/butter mix and the hazelnut meal mixing until it is all combined. Put this chocolate hazelnut mixture aside

4. Beat the egg whites in a seperate bowl adding the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time.

5. Add 1 half of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate hazelnut mix beating in with a wooden spoon to loosen the chocolate mixture and then fold in  the second half of the beaten egg whites.

6. Pour the stiff mixture into the tin and then bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes 10 1 hour and 25 minutes or until the top is crisp the sides have come away for the edge. there will still be a slight wobbly in the middle  when you shake the pan.

7. Allow the cake to cool in the time before removing. (i did not do this and ended up with a crack in my cake. What can i say i am impatient)


8. Serve with berries and cream


Adventures with Eggs: Pancetta, Ricotta and Spinach Bake

15 May

They say if you have an egg you are wealthy. At the moment I have 25. I have tried buying shoes with them, I have tried paying for my bus ticket with them and well visa apparently doesn’t accept eggs as payment. So I assume I am only wealthy nutritionally speaking. There goes my cunning plan to pay for my cocktails with a carton of eggs and some killer charm 😉

How does one end up with 25 eggs I hear you ask, well I was clearly having a seniors moment when last week I went to the grocery store and thought ‘hmm, I don’t think we have many eggs left, I should buy a dozen, they never go to waste.’ Needless to say to live up to the challenge of an egg not going to waste I have really had to put my brain into action. This post will be one of a few in the coming weeks based around eggs and the wonderful things you can do with them…I hope.

I made this dish to take to a friends house. She is currently moving house and pregnant which is just an awful combination. This made a lovely lunch with some crusty bread. I only very slightly adapted the original recipe by adding pancetta and pine nuts. You could of course keep it completely vegetarian friendly by omitting pancetta, but let’s be honest eggs and bacon a match made in heaven!

Do you ever buy things you don’t need? What are your favourite ways to use up eggs?

Pancetta, ricotta and spinach bake

adapted from BBC Australian Good Food Magazine August 2011

Serves 4

  • 150 gms of pancetta sliced
  • 250 gms of low fat ricotta drained of excess liquid
  • 1 box of frozen chopped spinach defrosted and squeezed of water.
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan
  • 1/2 cup of pinenuts
  • 2 Tomatoes sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

2. Squeeze spinach between a clean tea towel until all the water you can remove is squeezed out.

3. Fry off the pancetta until slightly crispy. Turn of the heat and add the pinenuts to the same pan. Watch the nuts to make sure they don’t burn.

4. Mix together ricotta, eggs and parmesan with salt and pepper in a bowl.

5. Add spinach, pancetta and pine nuts to the ricotta mix.

6. Pour into a baking dish and top with sliced tomatoes.

7. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until set and golden on top.

8. Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

The Constant Gardener and African Chicken and Peanut Curry

19 Feb

Have you seen the film the Constant Gardener. It stars Rachel Weiss and Ralph Fiennes and is part mystery thriller, part love story. I love this movie. I have seen it more times than I can count and I have also read the book.

There are a few reasons I love this movie, firstly it helps keep at bay my desire to see the world. I love to travel but unfortunately can’t do it as often as I would like. Watching movies set in different places around the globe helps satiate my desire to travel for a little while at least. The story is set largely in Africa and the cinematography is beautiful. It showcases the beauty of the continent in all of its rugged an often poverty stricken complexity. Secondly, I absolutely love the character of Tessa. She is a woman I really admire. Passionate and fearless she searches for and takes on the challenges of new experiences and does so without losing her warmth. Her ability to act with integrity in the face of moral difficulties I find inspiring. She doesn’t appear to fear failure nearly as much as she fears not living fully and with empathy. While I like to think I share some of Tessa’s characteristics, I know that often I am constrained by making sure I appear polite and not too demanding. I try to tone down those passionate responses for fear of judgement or being accused of being judgemental. Every time I see the movie I vow to live more like Tessa, passionately and with vigour and unrestrained love.

While I struggle with trying to live my life less concerned about the perceptions of others I also have to keep at bay my desire to travel, at least until my studies are complete. So I use cooking to allow me to access parts of the world I can’t get to right away. As I have said before I can not claim any real authenticity with some of my more exotic recipes, but what I can assure you is that even if the recipe is only inspired by the exotic location you dream of, it can act as a brief sensory trip into another culture and world. Beware this curry does have a little chilli kick!

What country/continent would you like to visit? Do you cook as a substitute for travel?


African Chicken and Peanut Curry

Serves 4-6

Adapted from a recipe found at West African Chicken Curry

  • 4-6 chicken thighs diced
  • Canned cherry tomatoes
  • ¾ can of coconut milk
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 apple peeled and cored and diced
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 70 gms of raisins
  • 1/12 tbsp of crunch peanut butter
  • 2 tsp of curry powder
  • 2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp of honey


1. Brown onion and chicken together. Remove from pan.

2. Add the sweet potato and apple and cook for a further 2 minutes

3. Add the curry powder and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant

4. Add the cherry tomatoes with juice and half the can of coconut milk. This may be all you need but you can add some more later if taste or consistency requires it

5. Add the chicken back to the curry and allow to simmer gently. For about 20 mins

6. Add the peanut butter and raisins, stir until peanut butter is incorporated

7. If you think it needs more coconut milk you should add it now.

8. Add the honey and allow to simmers for a further 10 mins.

9. Serve with rice or cous cous

Saucy Strawberry, Blueberry and Macadamia Crumble

9 Nov

Many of the men I know don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, so I find making dessert for them difficult. I think dessert is an integral, if not the single most important course at lunch or dinner time. I don’t want to go without my sweet end to the meal, so the question becomes do I make the selfish dessert just for me, or engage in some generosity and make something for dessert that may appeal to the boys. The answer depends on whether I am in the mood to share 🙂

What I have discovered, and I do not claim that it is universally true, is that men will often eat desserts that come in a warm saucy form, things like self-saucing puddings and hot apple strudel with custard. With this in mind I endeavoured the other night to make something that would be  satisfying to me and welcomed by the boys. I love the arrival of spring and summer because it means berries. I don’t go much for winter fruits but come summer I can’t get enough of stone fruits and berries. Blueberries and strawberries are in season and ridiculously cheap at the moment. So I decided a strawberry and blueberry crumble was the order of the day.

Saucy and sweet

The liqueur used to macerate the berries acts as both a flavour addition and extra sauce, it isn’t essential but I think it is definitely worth it. I generally believe it is important with desserts like this not to get too stressed about perfection, so don’t get too caught up in making sure all the macadamia’s are chopped to the same size. You are aiming for a more rustic look, so some may be almost whole and others in shards. The macadamia’s add to the crunch and overall texture of the dish. Remember to use a fork when mixing the macadamia’s in to the crumble. If you use a spoon you will compact some of the crumble and fail to get the crunchiness you are after.

One final note. My proportions may not be exactly right. I tend to do things like crumble by sight. Keep adding flour to the butter until you get the rubbly consistency you are after.

Strawberry, Blueberry and Macadamia Crumble

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 Punnet of strawberries
  • 1 Punnet of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of Flour
  • 100 gms Cold butter diced
  • 3 tbsp Brown sugar
  • ½ cup Macadamia’s chopped
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier

Toss berries and Grand Marnier in a bowl. Cover and set aside. Leave for at leat 30 mins

In another bowl place flour and diced butter. Rub butter into the flour using your finger tips until you get a crumbly rubble.

Add macadamia’s to crumble mix and 2 tbsp of brown sugar. Fork through until combined.

Put fruit and any liquid in the baking dish and pour over crumble mix. Top with additional tbsp of sugar.

See the sweet sticky sauces on the outside

Bake in 200 degree oven for 20 mins or until the juice from the fruit can be seen bubbling up the side.

Serve with Ice cream or custard.

What is your favourite type of crumble?

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