Chicken Liver Pasta

Chicken liver pasta

I didn’t know chicken liver pasta was a thing until my friend Ham (and Antonio Carluccio) introduced me to it. I love chicken liver, and to think I could combine it with pasta, was very exciting! Previously, the only flavour profile I had for liver was ground pepper and powdered chilli in a liver and eggplant dish my grandma makes. Learning to add different flavours (and not just chilli) to the chicken liver and still maintain the distinct liver taste was really good.

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Kanamadhu Cake recipe

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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.

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Lavender and Lemon Melting Moments

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Lemon and Lavender Melting Moments

Holiday season is upon us and this means warm weather, great food and fun! Although, warm weather isn’t always guaranteed here in Melbourne. The spring hasn’t felt like spring and this year’s summer nights are definitely cooler than last year. I still haven’t been able to pack away my jumpers for summer — Melbourne weather is just too unpredictable.

End of year also means lunches, morning and afternoon teas, and dinners at work. Whether we’re celebrating the year we’ve had, or joining in to say goodbye to a valued colleague, it’s been some sort of gathering that includes food. So for a morning tea at work, I made these Lemon and Lavender Melting Moments.

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Chocolate cake with buttercream flowers

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This post is an homage to my how far I have come in my cake baking process. Every year, for the last 3 years, I have baked a birthday cake for my friend Shazu. And every year, I look to challenge myself and try new things when I am making the new cake. Also, Shazu’s birthday falls in spring, so I seem to have a floral, spring theme to my cakes.

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Lemon and Berry Friands

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I have surprised myself for even having time to write this down, after what feels like a marathon of baking! I am having a tea party for some friends from work tomorrow, and not only am I making a 3-layered unicorn cake, these delicious lemon and raspberry friands are baking away in the oven as I type. Usually after this much baking in a day, by now I would be just flopping myself down on the couch and asking my husband to help with the washing up. Not only have I done ALL the washing from my baking prep, I clearly have the energy to get going with my blog.

I actually have been planning for this weekend for a while. It helped that we had a public holiday (perks of living in footy crazy Melbourne) yesterday. I did all the shopping yesterday and it seems that I have just paced myself and got things done, one after the other.

You know how they say a professional athlete not only practices the sport physically, they also visualise how and what they are going to do? I think I managed to apply some of that here. Hence, I dragged myself to the gym this morning and did some negative chin ups (sorry, cannot help bragging about that one) and then came home, had brekky and boom, whipped out my cake batter. Then did some errands with the hubby (I did forget to buy some crucial ingredients) and got myself a delicious cup of coffee AND binge watched The Good Place on Netflix. I digress, but I absolutely loved that show! Specially the first season where you can see great character development. I was hating on Fake Eleanor at first and then started rooting for her! And two thumbs up for the diversity!

Anyhow, after some Netflix, I then got on to the friands. These gluten-free friands are a great addition to an afternoon tea. And they are so easy to whip up. I especially love them for work functions because there’s always someone who needs a gluten-free option and I can easily make it the night before if it’s a mid-week affair.

These turned out very lemony and soft. They didn’t rise as much as I hoped, and I realised my oven wasn’t hot enough for the first batch. My second batch was better, but it still didn’t rise as much, so I don’t know whether the shape of the moulds made a difference. What I do know is that they are very tasty! Perfect with a cup of tea.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 and 1/3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free flour, sifted
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 °C.
  • Place almond meal, icing sugar, baking powder, flour, egg whites, butter, lemon juice and rind, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk until combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased muffin tray (friands are traditionally made in oval shaped moulds, but I used a standard muffin tray). Top with the frozen berries (I used raspberries).
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  •  Remove form baking tin and place on wire rack to cool.

 

Chocolate mousse tarts

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Spring is here! But it is yet to feel like spring in Melbourne. Apart from the magnolia and cherry blossoms blooming, it certainly doesn’t feel like warmer weather is on the way. Mornings are cold, the winds are chilly and add to that the fear of being swooped by magpies!

I remember when I was first swooped. It was in spring 2011. I was riding a bike down a street in Broken Hill. I didn’t know what hit me when they first swooped. I just yelled out and wildly looked around to see what it was. Then I saw them, THREE magpies, sitting on a tree ahead, waiting for me to go by. Of course, I had no idea they were so crafty, so I just rode ahead and got swooped again. This was when I started to panic. They clearly had a plan. I pedaled that bike for my life, but the magpies weren’t done yet. They were just waiting there, ready to swoop. As I am writing this, I have a vision of poor Rickon. Every meme, every tweet yelled at him to run in zig zags, to avoid Ramsey’s arrow. I’m seeing how, maybe just a little, this could be applied to my situation. But I was no way skilled enough to ride my bike in zig zags. All I had was my helmet. Hence why, spring is my least favourite season, despite the promises of warmer weather and the sweet smelling golden wattles. So in the meantime, instead of venturing outside, I am comforting myself with rich desserts, cheerful dinner conversations and homemade pasta!

I have found the most perfect chocolate mousse recipe here. It’s so easy to make and I like how you just need a few basic pantry ingredients. After I had made this a couple of times, I wanted to do something else with the mousse. This reminded me of a mocha mousse I had made once, where the mousse had turned out quite dense. So I was keen to make a tart with fluffy mousse and the tart base would be the perfect crunch element against the mousse’s creaminess.

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I was browsing pastry recipes and found one with lemon zest in it. I was keen to try this, but felt the mousse might be too wet for pastry and might make the tart cases soggy while the mousse was setting.

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I browsed chocolate tarts and almost 99% of them came with a biscuit base. I found one mousse tart with a pastry base, but the mousse recipe had gelatine in it so I wasn’t sure whether that made a difference. And I had a friend coming over for dinner, so I really couldn’t experiment around with different bases. So I stuck with a tried and tested biscuit base and added orange zest to it. Which worked perfectly! Tasting the orange cut through the richness of the tart!

The menu for the night was a joint effort by my husband and me. He made the sauce for the tasty salmon pasta and a pear and greens salad and I made the fresh pasta and dessert. And our friend just devoured two of the tarts without a second thought! Success!

Ingredients: 

Tart base:

  • 250g packet Choc- Ripple biscuits
  • 125gram butter, melted

Pierre Roelofs’ classic chocolate mousse

  • 170g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 80ml milk
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a pinch of salt

Candied oranges:

  • Orange slices
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Method:

  • Place the sugar and water in a pot and bring to boil, until the sugar has melted. Add the orange juice and then add the orange slices. Keep the mixture on a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. I actually left the mixture on the stove while I was making the mousse, so my oranges would’ve been simmering for over an hour.
  • Place oranges on a cooling a rack. And allow to cool completely. (about 1 hour or overnight).
  • Make the tart base. Process the biscuits in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and process until mixture has come together.
  • Press the mixture onto tart bases and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or till firm.
  • To make the mousse, melt the chocolate over boiling water, in a glass bowl. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  • Gently bring the milk to boil. Slowly add the milk to the chocolate mixture, whisking slowly. Add the egg yolk and whisk. Once the mixture has combined, leave it to cool slightly.
  • In the meantime, whisk the egg whites into firm peaks. Slowly add the sugar and whisk until the egg whites are glossy and firm.
  • Add about a third of the meringue to the chocolate mixture and whisk lightly. Then gently fold in the rest of the meringue, with a rubber spatula till it’s incorporated. Spoon the mousse into the tart tins. Chill for about an hour.

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A seasonal affair: Rhubarb, Strawberry and Thyme tarts

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Rhubarb, strawberry and thyme tarts

We’re now well into winter. Now having passed the winter solstice, it means the days will get longer and eventually, warmer days will be here. I keep dreaming of the gorgeous berries and stone fruits that are in season during the warmer months. But right now, I keep seeing a lot of rhubarb.

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