Tag Archives: Spices

Carrot and Pineapple Muffins

4 Oct

Wasn’t last weekend just delightful! When recounting the activities I had engaged in over the long weekend someone pointed out to me that most of them seemed to revolve around food. I can assure you that isn’t true. My activities don’t revolve around food it is just that food accompanies all of my activities. Saturday saw the grand final which meant that layered nacho dip was the order of the day with champagne, the drink of choice in victory or defeat. Go swans!

Sunday saw a visit to the Opera house followed by a wagyu beef burger and cocktails. So you see it is not that I only do food related activities, rather that all activities are simply better when accompanied by food.

Healthy and tasty bite sized morsels

I went to bed on Monday night after the cheese and olive platter I had indulged in for dinner, feeling like my gluttonous weekend had finally caught up with me. After such an indulgent weekend one feels that they should subsist on carrot sticks and fruit to make up for the excesses. I turned those very things in to a muffin, so I don’t feel like I am denying myself at all. Instead it is like a mini moist carrot cake with none of the guilt and all of the flavour.

Carrot and Pineapple Wholemeal Muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins

Adapted from Best Recipes


  • ¾ cup of plain wholemeal flour
  • ¼ cup of plain white flour
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tsp of baking pwder
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • ¾ cup of crushed pineapple drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of rice bran/ other neutral tasting oil
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of mixed spice

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Put flours and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine

3. Add the carrots pineapple and spice to bowl and mix to combine

4. Make a well in the centre and put oil and both eggs in the well and then mix until just combined

5. Spoon into patty cases and bake in the oven for 180 degrees for 10 mins.


Sunshine on a Plate: Orange, Almond and Honey Syrup Cake

15 Aug

Sunshine is something occurring in a patchy fashion in Sydney at the moment and even when it does occur, the weather is still so cold that you require a few layers to brave it. Despite my love for accessorising with hats and scarves, I find the whole experience of winter depressing. Citrus reminds me of sunshine and warmth and although I tend towards lemons, my favourite of all citrus I decided to make a cake with orange. The cake was very buttery, moist and slightly aromatic.

I stumbled upon a Lemon and Honey Syrup cake recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine Australia and flagged it for later baking. That was months ago. I played with the original recipe slightly because I wanted a denser cake redolent with spices.  With juice and rind added, the cake was filled with orange flavour and just a hint or aromatics. When you pierce the cake to see if it’s cooked you may be concerned because the skewer will have a small amount of sticky batter on it, not much, but this cake won’t pass the clean skewer test. In addition the cake seemed to have quite a few small bubbles or popped bubbles at the top. Once again this is not at all an issue given that it the cake will later have syrup poured on it. This cake keeps extremely well in a tin. 4 days later it was still moist and sticky

The cake was too good!

The first night Miss Wallflower and I had 2 warm slices of cake after dinner, it was so moreish. The following day we also had two slices although spread out during the day so as not to appear gluttonous, we are ladies with bird like appetites after all 😉 The copious cake consumption accounts for the lack of cake left in this photo.we had really hoed in and I was lucky to get a photo at all!

Are you controlled when there is cake in the house?

 Orange, Almond and Honey Syrup Cake

Serves 8

Adapted from Australian BBC Good Food Magazine August 2011

  • 1 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of grated orange rind
  • 1/2 tbsp of Orange Juice
  • 1 cup of greek style natural yoghurt
  • 250 gms of unsalted butter, chopped small and very soft
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg


  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 tbsp Grated orange rind
  • 1 tbsp of orange juice.

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a loose bottomed round cake tin

2. Sift flours into a large bowl and add sugar, baking powder, spices and orange rind

3. In a seperate bowls stir together the eggs and yoghurt

4. Add the butter and 1/2 tbsp of orange juice to the flours and stir with a large spoon until starting to combine then add the egg and yoghurt mixture. Mix until well combined. There may still be some slightly unmixed portions of butter. As long as they are small and infrequent don’t worry about them.

5. Pour batter into a tin and bake for 50 mins to 1 hour or until set and the top of the cake is firm to the touch.

6. Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 mins. While still warm but cool enough to touch the pan remove the cake  from the pan leaving the base of the pan on the bottom of the cake. Place the cake on a cooling rack.

7. You can now make the syrup

8. Heat 1/2 cup of honey with juice and rind in a pot until starting to thicken.

9. Skewer the cake all over and then pour over the syrup slowly while both the syrup and the cake are still warm.

10. Serve cake warm or cold.

A Slice of Dense Citrus heaven

Food Unity: Pork and Black Bean Mexican Burgers

6 Aug

Why go out for a burger when you can have a steak at home goes the old saying. Why? because sometimes nothing satisfies quite like a burger . Now I know what the saying was referring to and I am not suggesting that you start referring to your beloved as a burger, thought quite frankly I am not enamoured by being called steak either, actually lets just stay away from comparing anyone to meat products entirely so as to avoid any unsavoury punning 😉

While staring out my window at work, so as to avoid having the look at the confusing piece of legislation in front of me again, I got to thinking about what I wanted to make on the weekend. What did I feel like I pondered and I was torn between an overwhelming desire for both Mexican and burgers. In a moment of transnational food unity I decided to make a Mexican inspired beef pattie to be paired with toppings and crusty bread to make a Mexican style burger. Aye Carumba!

The patties are a little delicate, although they do keep their shape while being cooked, but I highly recommend placing them in the fridge for an hour before cooking to allow them to firm up. The Mexican seasoning is not overwhelming or hot, but gives a hint of smoky spiciness that distinguishes this burger from other more traditional burgers. Paired with whatever toppings take your fancy, cheese and guacamole being mandatory, this feels like a seeing an old lover with new eyes.

Do you prefer steak or burgers?



Pork and Black Bean Burgers

Recipe by the Legal Tart

serves 6

  • 500 gms of Pork mince
  • 1 red onion chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 chilli chopped finely
  • 1 can of black beans thoroughly trained and crushed lightly with a fork
  • 2 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of chipotle tabasco
  • 1 Egg beaten lightly
  • 1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • Salt and Pepper


1. Fry off the onions, chilli and garlic until the onion is soft then add the taco seasoning and stir to coat the onion mixture. Cook for approximately 2 mins. Put aside to cool

2. Add the slightly crushed black beans to the mince then add the beaten egg and the tabasco.

3. Add the onion mixture and mix with your hands until the mixture feels well combined and is starting to stick together. Season with salt and Pepper

4. Make the mixture into patties and place on a tray in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

5. Place any patties you know you don’t need to cook immediately wrapped and in a container in the freezer or fridge.

6. Cook the remaining patties for several minutes on each side remembering to turn the patties gently to avoid any risk of them breaking up.

7. Serve in a crusty bread roll with guacamole sour cream, cheese and lettuce.



Accompaniment to a Lazy Sunday: Fig, Brandy and Cinnamon Jam

5 Jun

Sunday afternoons at home has to be my favourite time. I love just taking some time out from chores, seeing people and doing things and savouring those last few hours of the weekend. For me this usually means a cheese platter with a glass of wine or if I am feeling particularly naughty, a cocktail 🙂

I do love a good selection of cheeses. Triple cream brie is pretty high up there in the list of things I must have on a cheese platter and a good blue, Stilton or something that is bitey. I usually have some sort of fruit or a quince paste. The sweet and sharp against the salty tanginess of a blue and the luscious creaminess of a brie, is just heavenly. For this reason after handing in my last paper of the semester on Friday (Hallelujah!) I decided this week I would make a fig jam to have with my cheese platter.I love figs and rather than rely on fresh ones I wanted to use dried figs so I could be safe in the knowledge that I could make a sweet accompaniment to my Sunday cheese platter any time of year.

I only halved the figs, in future I would quarter them. They hold their shape quite well and while I love a chunk of fig in the jam, sometimes it really throws out my cheese to jam ratio, and no one wants that. Don’t be concerned about the brandy, it is not overwhelming and simply adds a warmth and depth to the jam that stops it being overly sweet

Sunday afternoon

Be warned this is an extremely sticky and thick preserve, it is completely moreish and we have finished a 1/3 of the jar in our house in the space of a few days I also suspect this jam would be great on scones which I have no doubt I will be forced to make shortly, for the purposes of research and testing obviously 😉

How do you unwind on Sundays?

Fig, Brandy and Cinnamon Jam

2 small jars

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of brandy
  • 1 packet of dried figs or about 20 dried figs stems removed and quartered
  • 1/2 apple peeled and diced
  • rind of half a lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick


1. Heat sugar, brandy and water in a pan on medium to high heat until it has dissolved. Do not stir simply swirl occasionally to ensure that it dissolves evenly

2. Add the apple, figs, lemon rind, lemon juice and cinnamon stick to the mixture and bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally.

3. Simmer for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove cinnamon about 1/2 way through the cooking time, if you like a more aromatic flavour you can leave it in for the full cooking time. The apple should have completely broken down and only some of the fig pieces will maintain some shape.

4. Place in sterilized jars and refrigerate after opening.


Christmas Traditions: Christmas Cookies with Mixed Nuts

12 Dec

I come from a very small family. My extended family lives almost exclusively overseas or on the other side of the continent. This means that our family Christmas traditions aren’t very old. The good thing about this is that our traditions are still young enough for them to evolve, without feeling like a betrayal of the old established ways and Christmas day is generally relaxed. Additional benefits to small family Christmases are:

  1. Not having to forgo drink because you have to drive to another relatives house;
  2. Not having to visit people you don’t want to see;
  3. Only a few well thought out presents to buy;
  4. Spending the day in shorts, t-shirt and no shoes;
  5. Being able to break out the good sparkling red without fear of the obnoxious drunken in-laws drinking it all.

While I am the first to sing the benefits of a Christmas without extended family, I do love tradition and larger families seem to have more traditions because of the intergenerational nature of the family unit. Grandparents are keepers of old recipes and family comes together for the making of pudding and the decorating of trees. Considering I am a person who hates feeling like I may be missing out on the good parts of anything….I am happy to avoid the leering drunken uncle and the revolting wild children running through your house…  I feel it essential that our little family has its own traditions and I will not hear of them being in any way departed from. In fact I can become borderline hysterical at the thought of one of our traditional dishes not being served. After all I generally only get these dishes once a year! 😦  Christmas is simply not Christmas without Dad putting on Handel’s Messiah in the morning while we drink Black Velvets followed by a late lunch including Mutti’s potato salad, Cold turkey and Cranberry pie and Tipsy pudding, an aptly named dessert if ever there was one.

These biscuits entered my repertoire about 10 years ago. I now make them every Christmas. No amount of begging and pleading for them at any other time of year will break my resolve in maintaining these as a Christmas only treat. It is the Christmas only nature of these biscuits that render them, in my opinion a Christmas tradition. This biscuit recipe was adopted from a cook book put out by my high school. Parents and ex students contributed to the book and there are many great family recipes contained within its covers. The biscuits claim to be Irish Christmas biscuits. I certainly don’t have anything like them in my Irish family and I can’t see anything distinctly Irish about them, but I am happy to claim them as food that is representative of one half of my ethnic background. They are delightfully crunchy thanks to a combination of corn flakes and nuts, and the cinnamon lends a real Christmas flavour. They have become an anticipated baked treat for the festive season.

Coming to a gift box near you.....


Do you have any recipe that only gets made at Christmas? Do you have big or small family Christmases?

Irish Christmas Biscuits

From a recipe by Anne Withnell

Makes 25

  • 180 gms butter
  • 60 gms caster sugar
  • 240 gms plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 30 gms of cornflake crumbs
  • 60 gms of mixed nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • icing sugar to coat

1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy

2. Add flour, cinnamon cornflake crumbs, nuts and vanilla and mix together with a wooden spoon.

3. Divide into small balls, about a teaspoon of dough for each ball and place on a baking tray. Press slightly to flatten.

4. Bake in oven on 180 degrees for 25 mins or until starting to turn golden.

5. Cool and dust in icing sugar.

Saucy dinners: Moroccon Beef, Fig and Honey Pie

28 Nov

Some times a girl needs a pie. In my opinion a good pie shares many similarities with a good man. Both should be saucy and rich and leave you feeling indulged and contented. However a pie also needs a good flaky pastry exterior.  Where as a man with a flaky exterior is best avoided and should probably see a dermatologist.

With my mind on all things rich and saucy and a strong desire for comfort food given the wild and woolly weather, I decided to make a Moroccan themed pie. I do not pretend that there is anything particularly Moroccan about puff pastry. I can not claim much authenticity with this recipe at all, except to say I was inspired by some of my favourite Moroccon tagines. What I can tell you is that the aroma and flavour in this pie was bliss. The filling of the pie was slow cooked over a number of hours, in my beloved Aubergine coloured, Emile Henri Tagine, though a heavy based  pot will do just as well. The meat was fall apart tender and it had a richness and depth of aromatic flavour, that is one of the things I so love about Moroccan cooking. The combination of sweet and savoury is just delightful.

You could serve this with cous cous as a more traditional tagine meal. All i can say is however you serve it, you will be glad for the aromas in your house and the satisfaction in your belly.

What is your favourite type of pie?

Moroccan Beef, Fig and Honey  Pie

serves 4 -6

  • 500 gms diced casserole beef
  • 1 capsicum
  • 500 ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp of plain flour
  • 2 tsp Ras el Hanout spice
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic smashed
  • ½ cup of sliced figs
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry cut to fit dish
  • Season to taste


1. Place diced beef flour and Ras el Hanout spice in a freezer bag,  shake until all meat is coated.

2. Place pot or tagine on a stove and heat 1 tbsp of oil . Add sliced onion and smashed garlic, heat until softened.

3. Add meat and brown on all sides until spices are fragrant. Add chilli flakes

4. Add sliced capsicum and then pour over chicken stock until just covered. Add 1 stick of cinnamon

5. Place covered pot in oven on 150 degrees. Cook for 2.5 hours, check after 2 hours and add figs and honey, cook  until meat is tender  and falling apart and sauce is thickened.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Pour slightly cooled meat mixture into pie dish

7. Cover with a puff pastry lid. Ensure that you cut a slit into the lid to allow the steam to escape.

8. Bake in moderate oven for 20 mins or until pastry is puffed and golden.



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