Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ina Garten's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing for Valentine's Day

Now I wake up happy

Warm in a lover's embrace
No one else can touch us
While we're in this place

(Split Enz, Message to My Girl)

Love it or loathe it, it is Valentines Day today.  The story goes that it celebrates the life of Saint Valentine, who was imprisoned by the Romans for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry. Accordingly to Wikipedia, the day was first associated with romantic love by Chaucer.

I have been wanting to make Ina Garten's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing ever since I first saw them on The Barefoot Contessa (it wasn't that long ago - the Food Network in Australia is still new).  I thought these decadent cakes would tie up wonderfully with Valentines Day - my excuse to make them!  You can find the recipe online here.

These little cakes are just magical - rich and decadent, and with the killer combination of chocolate and peanut flavours.  I substituted the sour cream in the cakes for Greek yoghurt, and it worked just fine.

To those who celebrate it, Happy Valentines Day!


A big shoutout to The Dessert Parlour and Collins234 for this delicious raspberry donut, which I received gratis as part of a Valentines Day promotion.  Thanks! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

EwE - From the Sea - Wok-Charred Lettuce and Spinach Noodle Stir-Fry with Shrimp

This week's Eating with Ellie theme, From the Sea, was chosen by Margaret.  In Weeknight Wonders, there is a whole chapter devoted to seafood, so that is where I went to choose my dish.

I selected Ellie's Wok-Charred Lettuce and Spinach Noodle Stir-Fry with Shrimp (in 'Straya, that's prawns).  This dish comprised spinach fettucine, prawns, gem lettuce, spinach, shallot and garlic all stir-fried with soy, sriracha, vegetable broth into one delicious dish.

This was easy to make, and quite tasty.  I would make it again.

To see what the other Ellie cooks made this week, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

TWD - Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes

For Tuesday with Dorie this fortnight, I made Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes.  These are what I would call chocolate fondants - chocolate spongey cake puddings with a gooey chocolate centre (see top photo).

This dessert needs to be eaten warm so that the centre stays gooey.  I made just one, because with 50g of chocolate in each one and no-one else to share these with, I don't think making the full batch was a great idea.

This little pudding was delicious - rich and decadent, with the soft chocolate sponge hiding the warm gooey chocolate centre.  Delicious!

To see what the others thought of this recipe (or the other recipe this month, a panna cotta), visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hazelnut and Coffee Dacquoise - Process Shots

For those of you who are interested in how the Hazelnut and Coffee Dacquoise that I made for the Melbourne Cake Club last week was put together, here are the process shots to guide you through the recipe:

Nutty meringue base x 4:

Coffee icing piped on:

Layers assembled:

 Coffee icing covering entire cake:

Chocolate glaze to finish off:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Warm Steak, Capsicum and Asparagus Salad

In my eternal hunt for interesting dinners, I found a recipe for Barbecued Steak with Asparagus, Baby Peppers and Rocket in the January Coles magazine. I don't have a barbecue or a grill pan, and it was cheaper to buy cubed steak than whole pieces, so I took the basic elements from the Coles recipe and made it into a warm salad.

Accordingly, I stir fried the cubed steak, coated in the spice mix from the recipe; I also stir fried one whole yellow capsicum cut into strips (rather than several baby capsicums), the asparagus and the chickpeas.  I used mixed salad leaves as the salad base, poured over the recipe dressing, then placed the warm elements on top (including the steak juices).  And voila - a healthy, tasty dinner based on the original Coles recipe, tweaked to suit what I had and what I like.

This is a terrific, light summer lunch or dinner, and I would make it again.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hazelnut and Coffee Dacquoise with Chocolate Glaze for Melbourne Cake Club - Go Nuts!

On Thursday night, I attended another meeting of the Melbourne Cake Club.  Our intrepid host, Dalya, expertly found us another inner city venue, Aer Rooftop Bar at European Bier Cafe in Exhibition Street, Melbourne.  Our party was six strong (7 if you count Abi's gorgeous baby Joe), with Dalya's sister in law, Laura, joining us again. It was a slightly cool evening at the open air rooftop bar, so the staff fired up the heater next to our table to keep us warm.  

Without further ado, I will describe the cakes.

At the top of this post is Abi's fabulous Pistachio Baklava Cake, made from this recipe. It was wonderfully light and delightfully honey flavoured.  Here's a peek inside:

I made a hazelnut and coffee dacquoise with chocolate glaze from this recipe:

The nuts I used were almond meal and hazelnut meal.  My glaze isn't as perfect as the one in the photo, and it got knocked a little in transport, but it still tasted great, if quite rich.  Here is a peek inside:  

Dalya made a hazelnut chocolate mousse cake with a lovely hazelnut-rich base:

Yep, that's ganache on top!

Sue made a Persian love cake from her self-published book:

 Her cake was rich with cashew nuts, and was beautifully moist with a soft hint of rosewater.

Alex made a fig and nut roll, and brought in cheese and crackers to accompany it.  However, because the venue sold crackers and cheese, we weren't allowed to have it:

Here is my selection of cut cake:

To accompany my cake, I ordered the Champs Elysees Cocktail ($19):

 It comprises Chambord, Grand Marnier, strawberries, basil and cranberry juice.  I can assure you it, was delicious!

It was another fun night at Melbourne Cake Club.  If you want to come along, please join us through

Thursday, February 4, 2016

EwE - Wrap It Up - Carribean Chickpea Curry Wraps

Eating with Ellie is taking a different turn.  From now on, instead of choosing particular recipes, we are allocated a theme each week and can make whatever we want from Weeknight Wonders that matches the theme.  I have never participated in a group like this before, so I will see how it goes.

This week's theme was chosen by Kayte.  It is "Wrap It Up".  I took it quite literally, and chose Carribean Chickpea Curry Wraps.  These are comprised of a wholemeal tortilla wrapped around a hot and spicy curry of chickpeas and butternut squash.  

On the whole, I enjoyed this dish, but would tone down the spices a little next time.  I found it slightly too hot for my tastes, and added a dollop of yoghurt to my wrap to cool things down a little.

To see what the others made of this week's theme, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.