Recipe: Teeny Tiny Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Spices

I think we all knew it wouldn’t take long before I felt compelled to create a recipe modelled on those fantastic vegetable-based cakes from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache (also known as My Favourite Cookbook Ever Ever Ever).

Of course, if one is going to create a recipe full of stealth vegetables and following Harry Seaton’s methods, one must naturally provide a suitable introductory paragraph.  Hmm, let’s see…

This recipe is sophisticated, yet comforting, like the scent of your mother’s Chanel No. 5 perfume as she kisses you on her way out the door.  The chocolate and hazelnut hug you into a Nutella-flavoured embrace, while the cinnamon and ginger wink slyly at you like your favourite babysitter – the one who lets you stay up way too late and watch all the things on TV that you’re not supposed to.

(OK, I have to say that those blurbs are harder to write than they looked. Or at least, they are if you want to keep them G-rated.  The ginger and cinnamon kept on trying to slide the whole thing into some very dubious territory indeed.  Good grief.)

More straightforwardly, let’s just say that these cupcakes are lovely little bites of spicy, chocolatey goodness – far less ferociously hot than my chilli cupcakes, but still gently warming.  Just right for a winter’s night.

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75g hazelnut meal
50g rice flour
25g cocoa + 20 g for the icing1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
70 g caster sugar
1 egg
100 g zucchini, peeled and very finely grated (do this at the last minute)
100 icing sugar
30 ml boiling water
24 roasted hazelnuts, optional Continue reading

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Fructose intolerance page now has recipes!

Just a note that I have finally gone through my entire recipe collection up to January of this year side by side with the list of fructose friendly and unfriendly foods I got from Shepherd Works, and have updated my low fructose page accordingly.  Note that I have not yet updated which foods are low fructose and which aren’t across my other dietary requirement pages – I hope to get to those in the next few days, along with indexing everything from February to July.

(I’m sure it thrills you to read this as much as it thrills me to do it)!

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Recipe: Easy Overnight Porridge

I’m writing this one down as much for my own use as for yours.  I’ve been sort of curious and appalled by the idea of porridge for years – it looks so dreadful – but I’ve also secretly been aware that I really do like both oats and honey, so how bad can this food actually be?  In fact, the primary reason I haven’t discovered porridge until recently has been, quite simply, that it all looked as though it would take far too long to cook, and I am not a morning person.

Also, hot milk is sort of icky.

Anyway.  Here’s my entirely non-traditional version of porridge.  It replaces dairy milk with almond milk, which I feel is a great improvement, and it has a bit of yoghurt for tang, and honey for sweetness.  Best of all, because you soak it overnight, it cooks in about three minutes, while you are pottering around feeding and tripping over the cats and letting their furry majesties outside (which, in our household, has evolved into an entire ritual requiring each madam to be patted and the cat door opened for her while she peers through and decides whether the outside world is truly deserving of her gracious self.  No, I don’t know how this happened.  I’m pretty sure Andrew started it, because he is far more owned by the cats than I am, but he denies this.  Mystery claims that it has always been this way, and always will be, and who am I to argue with a cat of her magnificence?), and it’s lovely and warming and sustains you all the way through to lunchtime…

Also, I could pretend that this bastion of Scottish Breakfasts is my tribute to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but since I only thought of that as I was finishing off this blog post, I’ll stop tartan up the story with reel bad Scottish puns, and just note that porridge should always, always be served piping hot.  (Bagpipes optional.  Very optional in our house.  I went to a Scottish school that was *obsessed* with bagpipes and insisted on offering free bagpipe lessons to anyone who wanted them, which meant that all our classes were accompanied by the squirl of badly-played bagpipes.  And not just our classes, because we lived close enough to the school that we could even hear the bagpipes from home.  It’s been more than twenty years, and I am still traumatised by this…)

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1/3 cup rolled oats (not the quick oats)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup yoghurt
1-2 teaspoons of spiced honey, or plain honey plus a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Continue reading

Review: Red Velvet Chocolate & Chocolate Heartache – Harry Eastwood

Have you ever had a favourite favourite cookbook in all the world, a cookbook that is perfect in every way, that sings your name in a siren-like voice, a cookbook that compels you to bake nineteen different cakes over the space of about four weeks, because you are nothing if not OBSESSED by the glory that is that cookbook?  A cookbook, moreover, that in addition to producing exactly the right sort of cake for you in every possible way, is also clearly written by a kindred spirit – a person who loves food with the same slightly crazed passion that you do, and who puts the icing on the cake (so to speak) by dividing the chapters of the book by colour and anthropomorphising all the recipes in a deliciously bonkers way?

No?

Well, I do.  It’s called Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache, it is by Harry Eastwood, and it is my favourite cookbook of all time.

9780593062364Here are some things you should know about this book:

1. The cakes all have vegetables in them.  You can’t tell.  Some of them even contain turnips, but they are stealth turnips, so nobody has to know.  This fills me with glee.  Ninja vegetables!
2. Most of the cakes are both gluten- and dairy-free, but you really can’t tell that, either.  This has been scientifically tested on real scientists.  By me.  Almost daily during the month of July.
3. The introductions to the recipes are absolutely adorable and often hilarious.
4. I can’t stop making the recipes in this book.  Seriously, I’ve had this book for two four weeks, and I think I’m up to seven nineteen recipes baked so far.  Eighteen of them have been raging successes.  The nineteenth, everyone else liked except me, and I think I just didn’t make it very well (steamed puddings are not something I make very often)
5. I have already ordered Ms Eastwood’s second cookbook, and will be ordering the third as soon as I can justify it.  Which might be tomorrow.  These things happen.
6. I wish I’d written this cookbook.  Seriously, it’s brilliant.  I mean, what sort of mind looks at a chocolate cake and thinks, you know what would make this even better?  Eggplant.  And what sort of person thinks that and is absolutely 100% right?  A genius, that’s who.  I think I’m in love…

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Recipe: Ravioli with Romesco Sauce and Lemony Broccoli

I don’t even dare look at my blog to see how many weeks have gone by since I’ve written.  I’m so sorry for the hiatus – first work got busy, then I got sick, then I was organising lengthy walks for my walking group and recovering from those, and then I realised that my best friend’s wedding and my overseas trip were no longer so much on the horizon as breathing down my neck, and I was nowhere near ready, and in between, I’ve been obsessively baking cakes from my new favourite cookbook, Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache (which I *will* review any day now), with the result that I haven’t been producing many new recipes and I’ve not had any time to write down the ones I have produced.

So I’m terribly sorry, as I said, and will try to make up for this by getting a few posts out before I go, and maybe even finally updating my recipe indices, which are also woefully out of date.  Aargh.

Anyway, this recipe owes a significant debt to Tom Hunt’s book, The Natural Cook, which I recently bought and am enjoying very much.  Essentially, I’ve taken two of his recipes, modified them to my liking, and then combined them in ways he probably never had in mind and mixed them through some roast vegetable ravioli that I bought at the Bundoora Farmers’ Market nearly a month ago (speaking of things I haven’t blogged about, double aargh).

It’s a lovely recipe, though – spicy and healthy and smoky and fresh – and it’s also one of those recipes I think of as ‘accidentally vegan’, which is to say, I wasn’t aiming for a vegan meal, but I essentially produced one.  The ravioli, come to think of it, probably have a bit of egg in them, but I believe one can get vegan ravioli, and one can certainly get vegan pasta, so altogether, this will be useful one to bear in mind next time I manage to entice The Original Cate over to Melbourne.

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Recipe: Winter Tuna Salad with Fennel, Orange and Hazelnuts

I love salads, but it feels weird to buy tomatoes and capsicums and cucumbers and other summer vegetables when it’s freezing cold outside and probably pouring with rain, too.  So as the year changes, I start swapping out my summer greens and vegetables for more wintry fare – red cabbage, apples, celery, citrus fruits, fennel, kale, and lots of nuts and legumes.

This is a recent lunchbox favourite of mine, making the most of the cooler weather and the beautiful things that are in season even now, when the idea of getting out into the garden isn’t terribly inviting.  I think I even prefer this to my summer tuna salad – I like the acidity of the orange and the earthy flavour of the hazelnuts and chickpeas, and even fennel has started to grow on me.

But mostly I’m posting this recipe because it made my office-mate envious last time I brought it in for lunch, which is a good indicator in my book!

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1/4 red onion
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 125 g tin chickpeas
1 small or half large fennel bulb
1 orange
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 handfuls baby spinach, rocket or parsley, or a combination of both (or any other likely winter greens that aren’t too bitter)
1 x 90g tin tuna packed in olive oil

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Flemington Farmers’ Market

My current nocturnal tendencies (which are driving me absolutely nuts, incidentally) are making it very difficult to get to the farmers’ markets of late, but Sunday was a choir Sunday, which means that one has to get up early anyway… at which point, one would clearly be a fool *not* to take the opportunity to replenish one’s supply of farmers’ market goodies.

Sunday marketing means a return to Flemington for us – we have not yet investigated the charms of the Substation Market in Newport, though I certainly have my eye on it (and also on Bundoora Park for next week, since I’ve heard rumours that Gumtree Pies are there monthly).  And this is rather lovely, as we get to visit old friends – and meet the odd non-market friend, too – as well as investigating the new stalls.

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Recipe: Fruit Mince Filo Cigars

Last weekend, I was invited to a Yule celebration at the home of one of my friends from work.  It was an amazingly fun evening (I think I could become addicted to the werewolf card game, even though I’m fairly terrible at it), and also notable for the incredible quantities of potatoes and cream that found their way onto the menu.  This is, perhaps, inevitable when the host and half the guests are French, and are, moreover, from places like Normandy and Burgundy, where potatoes and dairy products are pretty big stuff.  (I am informed that they do not believe in vegetables in these regions.  Other than potatoes.)

So we had roast lamb, and we had roast potatoes, and roast sweet potatoes, and we had pommes dauphines and we had gratin dauphinoise. And there was quiche, too.  I decided that *some* sort of non-potato vegetable wouldn’t go astray, so my offering was ratatouille.  (Which, actually, I was a bit nervous about actually calling ratatouille in front of a group of French people, as I have no idea what an authentic ratatouille is like, but apparently it was acceptable).

For dessert, since we clearly had not had enough cream yet, there were crèmes brulées (we got to blow-torch our brulées at the table, which instantly elevates this dinner party to the best one I have ever attended.  Also, possibly, the most dangerous one, since the blow-torch came out after the second glass of wine for most people at the table, and when you consider that many of the guests have a tendency to gesture a lot with their hands, you will understand why this was a little alarming…), and also waffles with nuttella and whipped cream.  I had considered once again taking the high path and bringing something with actual fruit in it, but the whole Yule / Christmas in Winter spirit overwhelmed me, and it was absolutely necessary to bring something involving spices, brandy and fruit mince.

Which is when I thought of these little cigars.

I actually made these for the first time after Christmas last year, when I realised I had a bit of fruit mince leftover from my mince pies, and also some filo pastry leftover from turning my Christmas chook into handheld chicken and pumpkin filo pies, and decided to combine the two.

They were amazing – astonishingly rich on the inside, but with a lovely, light, crisp pastry that made them a delight to bite into.  Also, they are surprisingly easy to make, which is a bonus.  And fantastic when dipped in double cream.  Which is not vegan, but a good cashew cream might actually be even better.

Of course, I had no idea what proportions of anything I’d used, so I figured I’d save the recipe until I had a bit more time.  Which was why I was half an hour late to the dinner party – it turned out that I didn’t, really, have that much time after all…

It was still worth it, though.  And after all those potatoes, a dessert that was low on the whole pastry/cake/pudding side of things and high on the rich, dried fruit side of things wasn’t a bad match at all.

(Though I suspect a fruit salad, while less Christmassy, would have been even better…)

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1 quantity of Easy Fruit Mince, made with cocoa butter instead of butter for vegan goodness.
1 handful each of dried cherries, chopped dried apricots, and chopped dried figs.

1 packet of filo pastry from the fridge section.  Please, not the freezer section.  I cannot stress this highly enough.  If you buy your filo pastry from the fridge, it will come out as lovely, soft, fine, layers of pastry, like fabric that roll like a dream.  If you buy it from the freezer and defrost it, it will come out like paper.  Old, crackling, crumbling paper.  And it will stick to itself and it will break when you try to unroll it and then you will end up with little flakes of pastry everywhere and nothing to roll your fruit mince in, and you will be very sad and you will wish you had taken my advice.  Which is good advice.  Seriously, get your filo from the fridge, or don’t bother.  I don’t want you to be sad, and I’m sure you don’t want that either.
Olive oil spray

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Anyone Can Cook Fabulous Vegetarian Food: Vegan Christmas in July

Oh, I am excited about this one.   So excited that I am bringing this allegedly monthly challenge back from yet another hiatus when Life got the better of me.  I know it’s not quite July yet, but let’s face it – the wintry weather has set in.

We don’t really have holly in Melbourne, but if we did, it would have berries on it.  And while it isn’t snowing here, I understand they are having a pretty good ski season up in the Victorian Alps.  Meanwhile, we have the wind wuthering around our house, the weather is cold and dark, and when one goes out in it, it rains.  Sideways.

This may not sound appealing to you, but I actually love Melbourne winters.  Partly, it’s perversity – nobody else seems to love this weather, so I do, wholeheartedly.  (In return, Melbourne very kindly gives me good weather for any events I hold outside, even if the weather has been utterly unpromising up until that point.  We have a very good relationship, Melbourne and I.)

But mostly, it’s because this is such fantastic baking weather. Continue reading

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Recipe: Sweet potato and chickpea curry with roast cauliflower

This was one of those recipes you make up as you go along which then turns out to be rather good, so you sit down straight after dinner to hastily reconstruct what you did before you forget it.  It does use several spice mixes, I’m afraid, because that’s what I do when I’m cooking things that I don’t plan to turn into my own recipes… and of course, there are only two photos, because photographing my food at multiple points in the cooking process is really not something I do unless I’m planning to blog about it – which I wasn’t this time!

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1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas if you have a pressure cooker, or 2 tins cooked
1-2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves
2 red chillis
2 tsp ginger puree
1 finger-sized piece of turmeric, peeled and grate
2 big sweet potatoes – about 1.5 kg, I think – peeled and cubed
2 cups of water
2 tsp Spice Fusion Thai curry blend (contains coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric, ginger, pepper, cloves, fennel, cardamom and white pepper)
1/2 a cauliflower
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp Gewürzhaus tandoori masala
basmati or jasmine rice,  yoghurt, to serve

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