Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Project 12

S and I have decided to spice up our lives a bit. Not that there is anything wrong with our lives at all, but we've noticed that on the weekends were at a bit of a loss for something to do, and tend to revert back to doing the same old thing. We eat out a fair bit, we play squash once or twice a week, I go out and play netball, he goes running, I organise the Perth Clandestine Cake Club with a friend... We're not bored, but we could do with something different.

So the other day S came home with a book called "Losing my virginity 52 times" by David Thieck, an Australian guy who decided to do something new, that he had never done before, each week of the year. His suggestion - lets do that! But adapt it, as one new thing a week is a lot! 

So we've decided to make a bit of a theme each month and do AT LEAST one new thing a month, that at least one of us hasn't done before, for a year! Hence the name, Project 12. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities!

So for September, were getting active! We're already reasonably active anyway but it's doing pretty run of the mill stuff. Our aim is to find active things to do in Perth that we've never done before, for all of September!

Any suggestions!?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Citrus cake with marmalade

Some days just call for cake. I don't even eat a lot of cake but I needed to make some anyway. Especially when I see a recipe where I already have everything I need! This was the case with Rachel Khoo's Quatre-quarts aux agrumes, or citrus fruit cake. I had everything except the orange zest. In place of that I had a jar of Maggies Place thick cut 4 fruits marmalade, that I got from my Urban Locavore box. 

This can become something. I think.

It totally did.

A buttery, sweet cake, covered in the contrasting marmalade, which has a touch of sweetness finished off with a kick of bitter orange and a citrus tang! This is a very adult bake, as it is not completely sweet, but sweet enough to know it's cake. To keep it sweet, make a sugar syrup with lemon and rosemary and drown the cake in that instead of the marmalade. Heaven.

I took this to Carolanne's Kitchens 2nd birthday celebrations (I kinda cake crashed! Who brings cake to a birthday party!?) and was happy to see most of it gone! 

Recipe inspired by Rachel Khoo's Quatre-quarts aux agrumes.

4 eggs
250g golden caster sugar
250g plain flour
a pinch of salt
finely grated zest of a lemon + juice
1 tsp baking powder
250g butter, melted and cooled
1 jar of Maggies Place thick cut 4 fruit marmalade (or any brand that is your fave!)

1) Preheat oven to 180C, and prepare your baking tin (original recipe calls for a loaf tin but I used a bundt).

2) Seperate the eggs and in one bowl beat the whites with half the sugar to form soft peaks, in the other bowl, beat the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar, until thick and pale.

3) Gently combine the flour, salt, zest, juice and baking powder with the egg yolk mix and then slowly add the melted butter.

4) Add the egg whites carefully, folding them into the mix until combined.
5) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

6) Leave the cake to cool in the tin, when it has cooled enough to take it out of the tin, heat your marmalade gently on the stove until it has become pouring consistency. 

7) Prick holes all over the top of your cake, then pour over the marmalade. 

NB The original recipe says the cake cooks in 35-40 minutes, however mine was not NEARLY done by then, and it needed an additional 25-30 minutes. You'll have to use your judgement here, and just keep checking your cake after its been in the oven 40 minutes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Savoury cake - Rachel Khoo

My darling bf recently returned from a 2 week trip to England for some family weddings, and tucked away in his bag was a couple of bits and pieces for me! England is SO MUCH cheaper than Australia, and so I managed to snag some great workout clothes, an awesome union jack cushion for the couch and most importantly, Little Paris Kitchen, by Rachel Khoo. What a man! How is this... he knew I didn't have many French cookbooks and so he thought it would make my collection more complete - he also remembered me watching her episodes on YouTube, and knew I liked her. I have found a keeper here ladies!!

Flicking through the book, I loved it. Bookmarking recipes, well, there are A LOT I plan on making. In fact this week is pretty much only recipes from her book - some are involved and fiddly, for a Sunday bake up when you have the time (and will) to potter in the kitchen. Others are so easy they're perfect for a week night meal, which are the ones I'll use this week. Will write more about this book as I use it, as I'm sure I'll use it a fair bit!

So the recipe that popped out for me was the cured sausage, pistachio and prune cake. It's a really unique combination of flavours and it sounded delicious - however I don't have prunes or pistachios in the house, but I do have a jumbo smoked chorizo sausage from Mondos that I got in my Urban Locavore box. Perfect. Rachel mentions that the combo that goes into these savoury cakes can be whatever takes your fancy, or whatever is in your fridge! Serve them with a lightly dressed salad or take them on a picnic. Super versatile.

Heres the recipe - adapted from Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen.

Smoked chorizo, fetta, and spring onion cake


2 cups plain flour 
15g baking powder
1 smoked chorizo (Mondos was delicious!), diced into rounds and quartered
2 or 3 fat spring onions,  chopped roughly
100g fetta (about half the block, I used danish fetta)
4 eggs
100ml milk
150ml olive oil
3 tbsp plain yoghurt
pinch of salt to taste 


1) Preheat the oven to 180C and line a square brownie tray with baking paper (a few drops of oil will help the paper stick).

2) In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sausage, and spring onions.

3) In a seperate bowl, whisk the eggs until they are thick and pale in colour.

4) Gradually whisk in the oil, milk, and yoghurt, then add the salt and pepper.

5) Add the crumbled fetta, and fold the mixture together gently, bit by bit. Don't over mix, better to undermix it (you don't want to develop the gluten like you would in a bread recipe, you want a light cake, not a tough one!).

6) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and cook for 25-30minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool.

NB; If you'd rather use a loaf tin (as Rachael's recipe calls for), then bake for 30-40 minutes.

Check out Eating Those Words for another delicious looking take on this recipe!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Recipes I MUST try!

This is a list as much for you readers to see some new recipes, as it is for me, to remember the recipes that have caught my eye and that I want to make! Feel free to add some of your own in the comments section!

There will be more to come!

Chocolate self saucing pudding
GUILTY pleasure that its made in about 10 minutes AND cooked in the microwave! Good lord.

Zebra cake
Looks so impressive for so little effort!

Eggless marble cake
A good friend of mine is allergic to eggs, and so she often misses out on cakes! This is unacceptable. I will make this one for her!

Friday, August 10, 2012

You can run!

Even in my days of being in the state basketball squad (not necessarily because I was skilled - not many people tried out, I got in by default), where I was playing sport and swimming almost every day of the week, I have never been a runner. Ever. I struggle to run even a minute or 2. I can play a game of netball without a problem, because I can stop and start all the time, I get a break after a sprint! But tell me just to run as long as I can without stopping - blink and you'll miss it. But I've always WANTED to be able to go running, and like it. Never happened so far though.
I still am not a fabulous runner. However I discovered a program that has really helped me improve my ability to run for longer periods of time, and to cover a respectable distance in a respectable time. For me anyway.
Couch to 5km program/app is what has done it for me. The thing is, you're not expected to run that long. The program works in intervals, you run for 60 seconds and then walk for  90 seconds, and you repeat that for 20 minutes, including a 5 minute walking warm up/cool down. It even SOUNDS less taxing than saying "I'm going for a 3.5km run". Once you've done that 3 times (technically you should do them in a week), you go up a level, and run for a bit longer. Each week the length of time you run increases a bit, and eventually, the walking recovery will decrease.

Why does this work?

For me, it's all mental. If I were to just go out and run, I would feel defeated very quickly. I just can't run that far, and it becomes painfully obvious when you go out that you're just not good at this. C25K tells you to stop and walk. It's not cos you can't do it, this is what the program says. It's challenging, but it's not TOO challenging. You're left feeling like this is a totally achievable amount to run, and it's all over in 30 minutes.

I started to look forward to my runs, and I felt totally energised the following day! Me? A runner? Not yet, but I'm getting there!

The app is free on iPhone and Android - with a paid upgrade to the pro version.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Running away from gazelles.

In another post I have admitted my inability to be a good runner. You may have seen the picture online somewhere outlining what you feel like when you're running, and what you actually look like. That is me.

I'm sure most people will agree that this is funny, and unfortunatley probably true for most people. We feel like a gazelle, but really look more like a shuffling, wobbly, mouthbreather. For a long time this actually bothered me a bit, thinking that the gazelles running past me would be judging me. I often run at Lake Monger and I used to dread running past the part that was parallel with the road because people would see me running, and judge harshly. But then I got over it. I thought to myself, that if anyone actually IS judging me for how I look when I run then that is a much worse reflection on them than me, and who really cares what someone so shallow thinks anyway? They don't matter. But they're really unlikely to be worried about you at all anyway. I also then thought that if they DID think anything, they SHOULD be thinking "good on you" for getting out and running and doing something positive for yourself. And if they're not thinking that, then YOU certainly should be.

I recently went running with a friend who had the same  negative thoughts, and while I totally related to her, I realised how sad it sounded. This wasn't me judging her either, as I have had the exact same thoughts myself. It just sounded different coming from someone else. It sounded sad because you're letting other people you don't even know affect how you feel about yourself. You're letting yourself get stuck in the cycle of caring what strangers think about how you look when you run, which then stops you putting 100% into doing something positive for your health, which then perpetuates the negative feelings because you're not doing anything about how you look, which you're sensitive about.

It's not just you who struggles with the idea of going for a run - it's often the gazelles as well. There are always times when going out for a run is low on the list of things you WANT to do. But the gazelles who look so graceful while they're running have been where you are too. Taking the first step out of the house is sometimes the hardest thing, especially if you're already sensitive about how you  look. You feel like people are going to look at you and think all manner of negative things.

They aren't.

What you think is the most important thing - being proud of yourself for taking the first step, and motivated to make plans to continue taking steps are whats important.

Don't even concern yourself with the gazelles. Lions eat them anyway.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Creamy chicken and cashew curry

My cousin LOVES butter chicken. In fact, as part of my payment plan for her giving me her Kings of Leon tickets, butter chicken and lasagne are the accepted currency. I made her a huge lasagne for when she had some friends coming over, which I'm told she LOVED. She also passed it off as her own, so it was lucky that the friends coming over were her boyfriends, not hers - they would have seen straight through that lie!

This time though my sister organised for us to have a pot luck -  she would being entree, I would make the mains and my cousin would bring dessert. So I decided it had better be butter chicken, as she'd been asking for it for a while, and I still hadn't made it. I used a recipe from taste.com.au and while the recipe was easy, using accessable ingredients and really tasty - a butter chicken it was not. That's why I've not labelled this post as butter chicken, it just didn't taste like it, as good as it was!

This was a delicious, mild curry, I liked the inclusion of ground cashews to thicken the sauce, which is the traditional thickening agent used in butter chicken. It's creamy and rich, and it's easy to increase portions to feed a crowd. I didn't add any chilli to this one, as my family are chilli-phobes, but it would be great with a hit of heat to warm the richness of the sauce.

Next time I think I will change this recipe. The way it is now is great for a quick meal to serve a family or friends when you haven't got loads of time (unless you follow the recipe which tells you to marinate the chicken overnight!). I think this sauce would benefit from being cooked with chicken frames to give them flavour - but grilling the marinated chicken and adding it towards the end of cooking to give more depth of flavour.

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients - if you already cook curries, you should have most of this in the cupboard anyway!

Creamy chicken and cashew curry
Serves 4 with leftovers

1/2 cup natural yoghurt
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.5kg chicken thigh fillets, chopped
125g cashews, roasted
60g unsalted butter
1 tbs sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped/blitzed
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 tsp sweet paprika
425g can tomato puree*
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup thickened cream

Serve with Turban Chopsticks Royal Festival Biriyani and naan breads.


1) Combine yoghurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chilli, cumin, ginger and garlic in a bowl. Add chicken and stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight (This is optional, the curry is fine if you do it as far in advance as possible - I marinated it for about 30mins).

2) Place cashews in a food processor. Process until finely ground, and set aside. Since you have the FP out, blitz the onions too.

3) Heat the butter and oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves and cook until the onion starts to soften. Reduce heat to low, then add chicken and marinade, paprika, tomato puree, tomato paste, half the cashew powder and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and cook for a further 10 minutes. Check the sauce, and if it is too runny add more of the cashew powder, and reduce it down a little further.

4) Garnish with whole cashews, chopped coriander (if you don't hate it like I do!) and serve with Turban Chopsticks biriyani.