The Kanamadhu Cake has all sorts of ties to the Maldives. One of the reasons being, I can’t get kanamdhu anywhere else. Kanamadhu, also known as Sea Almond, is a nut I have only seen in the Maldives, and definitely not in Australia. I am forever thankful that the Australian Quarantine lets me have these kanamadhu instead of confiscating it. I have seen kanamadhu being called Indian Almonds as well, but not quite sure if this is accurate.
If you ask my 10-year-old self what my favourite dessert was, I would’ve probably said the Caramel Pudding my mum or grandma made. I love the burnt caramel and the smooth pudding! I also thought it was the hardest dessert to make. I remember my grandma steaming the pudding, and she would fill a large pot with some water, and then put a cake tin or pot inside, making sure the water only came up to it’s sides and then place the pudding on top of the small pot inside. I also felt like she steamed the pudding for ages (but for the 10-year-old me, probably even 40 minutes seemed like hours). The whole process of steaming aside, even burning the sugar to make the caramel seemed like a mean feat!
Choux Pastry is a pastry that I love to make. I love how methodical and easy it is to mix, and love watching it rise in the oven. It was almost 2 years ago when I first attempted making this pastry (and you can check my blog post about it here) and since then, I have always found a sense of comfort while making this.
When I was younger, my favourite thing to eat were eclairs. My aunt made them and at that time, I watched her make it and ate with awe. I only got eclairs at special occasions and it was always such a wonderful and rare treat for me.
When I started making this cake I thought I would be coming out with a delicious recipe. But despite recipe testing, due to the various trials and errors I faced, I ended up mostly writing about what not to do when baking a cake.
As my chef friend Fathun said ‘Cheffing or being a cook is about fixing disasters too, as you have learnt from Masterchef’. I had Fathun’s help throughout this cake-making process. I can say Fathun is one of the people who is most enthusiastic and supportive of my cooking adventures. She’s always excited about new ideas I have and we both have so much fun planning dinners together. We both tend to go over-board when planning these said dinners, and a simple catching up meal will almost end up with a main, sides and dessert.
As soon as I told my friends and family I was heading to Maldives for holidays, I was greeted by multiple requests for pavlova. In fact, I made more pavlovas in that month than I had in a year!
Making pavlovas was certainly an adventure. I have a fond memory for each and every pavlova I have made. When I made a pavlova with my younger siblings at my Dad’s place, I had to beat the egg whites with just one beater in the electric hand mixer. The kids’ enthusiasm to help me out made up for the missing beater though.
When I decided to make one for my cousins (whose requests had been the loudest), they told me it was too hard; they didn’t have all the equipment. I told them I would take everything: bowls, electric mixer, baking paper, etc., they told me to calm down, they didn’t even have an oven! In the end, they bought an oven (not just for my pavlova, but so my aunt could also bake her delicious fish pie). Never have I seen a pavlova being devoured so quickly than when I made it that day.
I also got to connect with a friend I had only really spoken on Instagram. We both had a food-loving mutual friend, and we bonded over delicious looking food photos. So when I headed back, we had a pav-date, so she could learn how to make it. Making the meringue worked like a charm (my friend had all the equipment ready to go), but I was trying to whip the cream and it was taking forever, and not getting any thicker! This was something I hadn’t anticipated. Due to the humid and tropical Maldivian weather, I was told by my friends to put the beaters and the bowl in the freezer to cool them down to be able to thicken the cream. Working in an air-conditioned room could help too.
The end product was always well received and the memories we made were always worth any hurdles we faced. My holiday did turn into a pavlova, as my friend mentioned and it was a lot of fun.
I went through my Instagram account and managed to find some of the pavlovas I had made over the last few years. I’ve included my go-to meringue recipe below. For the pavlova I made today, I steered away form the traditional passionfruit drizzle and made some lemon curd instead. I was inspired to use lemon curd as a topping when my friend from work, Paula, gave me some delicious lemon curd she had made. I had it with some berries and thought about how good it would be on a pav. Plus it is a great way to utilise those egg yolks.
My favourite toppings
I tend to stick to seasonal fruits when topping my pavlovas. I love berries hence, I usually make my pavlovas during summer. Mangoes are also perfect topping for a tropical theme and even stone-fruit like peaches and nectarines will be delicious, especially if you caramelise them first! Blackberries, blueberries and raspberries with a sprinkle of basil and drizzled with fig balsamic vinegar is the favourite topping I have made so far.
What are your favourite pavlova toppings? Feel free to share.
This recipe will make a nice little pavlova enough for about 4-5 people. If you want a bigger one, just double the recipe.
– 3 egg whites
– 150 grams caster sugar
– 1 teaspoon white vinegar
– 1 teaspoon cornflour
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup thickened cream
– fruits to top (strawberries, banana, kiwi, blueberries, mango, etc)
– Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees. Prepare a flat baking tray and line it with baking paper. Draw a 20cm disc (or however big your serving plate is) on the paper and place the pencil side down.
– In a clean metal bowl, whisk the egg whites using a stand/hand held electric mixer until soft peaks form.
– Slowly add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, while beating, until the mixture becomes thick and glossy. A test to see if the sugar has been incorporated is to rub a bit of meringue between your fingers. If it feels grainy, keep mixing.
– Beat in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract.
– Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and smoothen the top. You can leave it rustic, or round the sides using a knife.
– Bake the meringue for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 110, and then bake for further 60 minutes or till the meringue shell is completely dry. Leave in the oven to completely cool.
– Whisk the cream till soft peaks form and spread on top of meringue. Top with fruits and enjoy.
Even if the temperature is not quite summer, nothing announces the arrival of Melbourne summer to me more than the Queen Victoria Night Markets. As usual, we got there early to sip on a cold drink as we browsed the food stalls and direct people as to where we got our drinks.
My favourite was definitely the paella at El Rincon. There was a long queue, which is always a good sign. Standing in line was quite entertaining; I had lots of time to take photos of the huge paella pans and watch them being cooked. It was clear everyone was having a good time. The chefs were singing and dancing as they stirred, chopped and mixed.
As I went up to order my All-Seafood Paella, I was momentarily transported to Spain (my version of Spain, I’ve never been to Spain). All the Spanish I had learnt by watching a couple of Spanish TV shows popped into my head, and the conversation with the girl taking the order, should have gone a bit like this:
Me: Hola! One All-Seafood Paella Por favor Girl: Si, anything else? (In a Spanish-accent) Me: Nada. Gracias!
It was just too busy for this skit to actually take place, so this didn’t really happen.
The Paella was absolutely delicious! I shared half with a friend as I wanted to eat other food, but I could’ve easily eaten the whole thing!
As much as I wanted to try new food, I had to go again to WonderBao for their new bao burgers. I had a mushroom burger with a tasty salad and sauce. I absolutely loved the soft, steamed bun. And washed it all down with some cool lemonade.
We had to check out the Takis Balls for dessert. We got a half-and-half of Nutella and salted caramel. We had fun sharing one whole plate between the 5 of us. I couldn’t bite these in half, so had to pop the balls whole into my mouth. Nothing graceful about this, but oh so delicious!
I usually only get to the Queen Victoria Night Markets just once a year, but there are so many new food delights to be discovered and a second visit will be well worth it. The markets are not only about the food and shopping, but also happy vibes.
Eating breakfast was one of the hardest things to do when I was younger. A struggle bigger than waking up early to go to school. Swallowing down food at 7am was near impossible and I would sit at the table for ages, trying to get through one piece of toast. My parents can tell you stories about how I used to keep food in my mouth without chewing or swallowing. One of mum’s friends once said she lost her appetite just by watching me eat. And this was not even at breakfast time.
My eating habits have changed now, thank goodness! From being an extremely slow eater, I can now keep up with the general population. And breakfasts are no longer a meal I dread, but something I frequently plan, sometimes even before I go to bed the night before.
Step one was actually eating something for breakfast. Next was eating a healthy breakfast, which has been a challenge especially when I’m rushing out the door to go to work. It was all too easy to grab a slice of bread with Nutella or finish a bowl of Milo cereal, but I knew I wasn’t making good breakfast choices. I certainly don’t skimp on the butter or sugar when I’m baking treats, but other times I like to try and make healthy food choices.
When my friend Fathun first got me a bottle of this granola, at first, I could not believe she had made it at home! I mean, she is a chef and all, but it was just so tasty! The best part of this granola was that I knew exactly what was going into it and I could modify it as I pleased. For my own version, I’ve tweaked the recipe she gave me just a bit.
This recipe gives you a lot of granola! I had three trays going and now have a big container full of toasty granola. It smells wonderful and not only is it great for brekky, but makes for a tasty afternoon snack, sprinkled over yoghurt and fruit. And it certainly is a summer-friendly way to eat oats. I’ve been making porridge in the morning a lot, but as the weather has started getting warmer, eating the granola with milk or yoghurt helps to keep cool.
– Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees (140 degrees in fan-forced).
– Mix oats, almonds and seeds together in a big bowl. Then add cinnamon powder and mix well. Add oil, vanilla and maple syrup and mix till combined. Then add the flour and mix. Basically mix, mix, mix!
– Line flat trays with baking paper and spread the mixture thinly on the trays. I needed two big trays and one small one to fit all of it.
– Leave in for 10-15 minutes, stirring it with a wooden spoon every now and then. Keep it in the oven for a further 15 minutes or until golden. Keep a close eye on the mixture to make sure it doesn’t burn and keep on giving an occasional stir.
– Remove from oven and then cool. When the mixture is completely cool, add the dried fruits and mix well. And voila, you’ve got your homemade granola!
The granola has been well received, both from my friends and my husband. I’ve had so much, I’ve been sharing it around a bit. With the holiday season coming up, a jar of this would be the perfect gift to say thank you to someone. So two thumbs up for the granola! Happy eating!