Tag Archives: orange flower water

Recipe: Vegan Cheeseburger Cupcakes

This is the time of year when bloggers do their retrospectives, but I don’t feel like doing a blog retrospective for 2015.  For one thing, I did hardly any blogging, and barely kept up with reading other blogs.  For another, the end of 2015 was made absolutely horrible for us by the disappearance of our beloved cat, Mystery.  She slipped out on the evening of December 22nd, and has not been seen since.  We’ve letterboxed and doorknocked and rung vets and visited shelters, but to no avail, and at this stage, we hold out little hope.  It’s been a painful and distressing way to end an exhausting year, and it’s very hard to look ahead and come up with plans, resolutions, or even hopes for 2016 at this point – because right now we are all too aware that life is uncertain and cannot truly be planned for.


So no perspectives from me, just a remarkably silly recipe, inspired by Rosanna Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies Cookbook.  She has a very fun recipe for a cupcake that looks like a cheeseburger, with a brownie patty, coconut lettuce, and buttercream piped to resemble cheese, tomatoes.

It’s very cute, but it also looked terribly sweet.  Also, I was cooking in part for Steph, so I needed a vegan recipe, and frankly, I found the idea of a vegan cheeseburger cupcake absolutely hilarious and thus irresistible, so off I went.

To avoid the excessive use of buttercream, I decided it would be more fun to give the burger a fruity sort of theme. Mango fruit leather strips make an excellent (and truly revolting-looking) substitute for plastic cheese, jam makes a fine substitute for tomato sauce, and tinned plums replace the beetroot that is a necessity in any Aussie hamburger. Mint leaves made a delicious substitute for lettuce, and at that point, you’re done.


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Recipe: Easter Egg Thumbprint Macaröns

closeapricotSo, what’s a macarön, I hear you ask?  Well, a macaron is a shiny, posh, filled biscuity thing made of egg-whites and almond meal and currently very much in vogue, and a macaroon is a rough, rustic, old-fashioned biscuity thing made of egg-whites and coconut.  This is a rustic but shapely, semi-filled biscuity thing made from egg-whites and almond meal, and thus neither fish, flesh or fowl.  Which, actually, is good, because who wants fish, flesh or fowl biscuits?  Let alone foul biscuits.  That would be no good at all.  Anyway, it’s a macarön, because it falls somewhere between the macaron and the macaroon and therefore deserves it’s own name.

It’s also a handy way to use up those egg-whites you set aside when you were making egg-yolk candies.

Also, I must admit, after seeing the truly stunning things Donnamarie did with her Easter eggs, I felt challenged!  The least I could do was cunningly make two kinds of sweet Easter egg out of actual eggs – one using the yolk, and one using the white.

(I have to say, the things everyone has come up with for this challenge have absolutely blown me away)

These are faintly Middle-Eastern in their inspiration, because that’s how I feel about almond meal, and also, that’s where my local ingredients tend to lead me, but you could make them utterly British with raspberry jam and vanilla, or Sicilian with lemon zest and blood orange marmalade… the possibilities are endless.

Your Shopping List

6 egg whites (and you know what to do with the yolks, right?)
525 g almond meal (you may want a little more if the dough is too wet)
200 g caster sugar
250 g icing sugar
2 tablespoons of pistachio and cardamom sugar, if you have it, or use 2 tsp cardamom and make up the bulk with ground almonds or ground pistachios. 
1-2 tsp rosewater or orange flower water
apricot or fig jam, for the yolks. 

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Recipe: Strawberry, Orange and Blue Curaçao Cupcakes for Ovarian Cancer Morning Teal

icedgroupYou may be getting the impression that my workplace is all about cake, or at the very least, all about morning and afternoon teas.  And… you might well be right.  But, you see, our research covers so many different things, and they all have fundraising days!  And then there’s the fact that a goodly proportion of staff and students are also involved in non-medical-research-related fundraising, and basically the outcome is a lot of morning teas.

It’s dreadful.  I don’t know how I cope.

Anyway, the Division just along the corridor from my two has a lab devoted to ovarian cancer research, so naturally a morning tea was required – or rather (since teal is the ribbon colour for ovarian cancer research), a Morning Teal.

(You know, I can’t help wondering whether all these morning teas are conditioning me to hear ‘cancer’ and immediately think ‘cake!’.  But then, just about everything makes me think ‘cake!’, so my psychology was probably pretty abnormal to start with.)

I’m telling you now, I have never seen so much blue food in the one place in my life.  It was both gorgeous to look at and somewhat disturbing.  I think that, as an Institute, we probably consumed at least two bottles of blue food colouring this morning.  I didn’t notice any personality effects resulting from this, but then, I had my share of food colouring too, so I was probably running with the hyped-up crowd on this one.

Anyway, teal in food terms pretty much means blue curaçao in my book.  My first thought was that evil blue curaçao marshmallow pie I made for Eurovision last year, and indeed, I did make that.  But it is my practice to always make something dairy, egg, gluten, soy and nut-free for these events, because so many of my favourite people at the Institute are allergic to many of these things.  Hence the cupcakes…

I could tell you that these cupcakes are gorgeous and tangy and strawberryish, and strangely friand-like in texture for cupcakes that involve absolutely no nuts.  They are also decidedly teal and mildly alcoholic, icing-wise (though, I must confess, far less so than I’d hoped – but then, the number of people who were told the ingredients for my curaçao tart and kind of went teal themselves contemplating that much alcohol that early in the morning suggests that I covered the alcoholic crowd sufficiently with my alternate offering), but really they speak for themselves.  No, really, they do.  It’s the blue curaçao that does it.  If they aren’t speaking to you before you eat them, eat a few spoonfuls of the icing and the application of wild blue food colouring and high alcohol content to your bloodstream should do the trick…

Your Shopping List

zest and juice of one orange
zest of one lemon (and keep the juice aside, just in case you need it later.  You can always freeze it in an ice-cube tray for future lemon juice needs if you have spare)
1 1/2 cups rice milk
2 tsp raspberry vinegar
2/3 cups canola oil
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2 punnets (500g un-hulled) strawberries
3 cups gluten-free flour mix (or gluten-free flour from a packet)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 cup tofutti cream cheese
1/2 cup nuttelex or other non-dairy margarine
4 cups icing sugar
20 ml blue curacao


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Adventures with Ingredients: Kadaifi Pastry, Sweet Cheese, and Kunafa bi Jibin

sideI’m on leave at the moment, and also engaged in a terrifying cookbook cull, which is causing me to madly read as many cookbooks as possible in order to feel less guilty about my terrible cookbook habit (it has, at least, reduced from the 3-book-a-week habit I had in the late 90s, but it’s still pretty severe, not least because I’ve graduated from little tiny Women’s Weekly cookbooks to more expensive and exotic tomes.

One of these is The Arab Table, by May Bsisu.  It’s a book that fascinates me and also fills me with fear – every single recipe seems to go for pages and is *unspeakably* complicated.  The idea of cooking a full meal from this book is terrifying.  (The recipes are all very traditional, and, to be fair, their length is largely due to Bsisu’s conscientious descriptions of exactly how to do things.)

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Recipe: Jasmine and Orange Blossom Cupcakes for Sensitive Souls

Another day, another fundraiser at work (and another cupcake recipe on this blog), and since I am now officially She Who Bakes Allergy-Friendly Foods, I had to come up with something gluten-free and vegan that my friends could eat…

The fun part about this recipe is that I actually don’t like these cakes much at all.  But everyone else did, so I have concluded that perhaps I just don’t like jasmine tea very much. You might think I would have checked this before going off and inventing a recipe based on it, but no.  You see, I’ve never drunk jasmine tea – I don’t actually like tea, though I have tried very hard to do so – but I love the smell of jasmine tea.  Love it. 

I’m always buying Andrew jasmine tea so that he can drink it, because Andrew can generally be relied upon to steep his tea for ages, and then forget about it and leave it around the house somewhere, and then reheat it, and then decide it’s too hot, and leave it to cool, and then forget about it… which may sound like a terrible thing to do to tea – I don’t know, I don’t drink tea – but it does mean that the whole house winds up smelling of jasmine for hours. Which is a win for me.  I’m not sure about whether it’s a win for Andrew, too.

(Andrew says I’m exaggerating about his tea-drinking habits, but that’s what it looks like from the outside.  And until he gets a blog of his own, he’s just going to have to live with my version of the story, ha ha!)

Anyway, all of this prompted me to look at the matcha tea cupcakes in my Vegan cupcake book and decide that they would be *even better* if I totally changed the technique and made them gluten free and, oh yes, used jasmine tea instead of matcha tea.  People who like tea tell me that they are indeed even better.

But sadly, I have once again failed to like tea.  Even jasmine tea.  Even in a cupcake.  But if you do happen to like jasmine tea, then these cupcakes are probably for you.

(I may not like eating them, but I do like the way they smell…)

Your Shopping List

2 tsp jasmine tea (loose leaf), + 1 tsp for the icing
2 cups almond milk (rice milk is fine if you can’t eat nuts)
2 tsp raspberry vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 3/4 cups rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornflour (the squeaky kind)
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp guar gum or xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp orange flower water
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
40 ml boiling water
2 tsp butter
24 raspberries, or marzipan flowers if that floats your boat

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Recipe: Nearly Raw Truffles of Two Kinds!

Between work, singing and this allegedly-healthy global walking challenge, I seem to be in a constant state of exhaustion at present, which is not conducive to blog posts.  It doesn’t help that I’m so tired I’m actually following recipes at the moment…  However, I have a big excursion planned tomorrow for my walking team – we’re going to leave work at 3:30 and walk 13 kms to Williamstown, and then go on a Ghost Tour after dinner.  My team is, in fact, the slowest of the three teams at work, but we are also the coolest, because we do outings!  And surely that’s what really counts?

I’ve planned this outing in ridiculous detail – 8 weeks into the challenge, a lot of us are flagging or have minor injuries, so not only have I planned a very precise route, I have arranged it so that every kilometre or two, we get within shouting distance of a railway station or a bus stop, to allow anyone who needs it to ride the rest of the way. 

And, of course, I am providing snacks – healthy, energy-giving snacks, to speed us on our way.  I recently made Almost Vegan’s Five Minute Blondies with Hannah’s Raw Chocolate Icing (with avocado!), which were awesome, but a bit messy for my purposes, so I turned the blondies into truffles, and added a bit of ginger and cinnamon to suit their caramel goodness.  But I couldn’t stop at one recipe, and I had leftover dried figs and dried apricots from a pilaf yesterday, and hazelnuts and pistachios also hanging around the house, and raw cacao, and before I knew it, I had two recipes on my hand. 

Herewith, before I fall asleep on my keyboard, Nearly Raw Chocolate, Hazelnut and Fig Truffles and Raw Apricot, Orange and Pistachio Truffles.  The chocolatey ones are kind of amazing – I didn’t think they tasted very chocolatey, but the chocolate sort of creeps up on you – you taste it for several minutes after you have one.  The apricot truffles are a lot like those little apricot delight squares they used to sell at the canteen at my primary school, but with pistachios and orange-flower water giving them a lovely, perfumed flavour.   And they are so healthy!  Ish…

Your Shopping List for Hazelnut, Chocolate and Fig Truffles

150 g raw hazelnuts
2 tbsp (40 ml) raw cacao, or good cocoa powder
200 g soft dried figs
50 ml maple syrup
50 g goooood dark chocolate, chopped

Your Shopping List for Apricot and Pistachio Truffles

300 g dried apricots (the soft kind work better)
zest of 1 orange
50 g pistachios
1/2 teaspoon of orange flower water

Optional Extras

You could roll the hazelnut and chocolate truffles in cocoa powder, if you liked.  And, while it seems a pity to spoil the middle-eastern nature of the apricot ones, by doing this, you could roll them in coconut.  Or dip them in white chocolate and the others in dark chocolate, which point you’ve pretty much admitted that you aren’t trying to be health-foody any more.

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Recipe: Linzer Torte, Traditional and Sydney Road Style

Mothers’ Day has never been something we’ve really celebrated in our family (Mum just wasn’t into it.  Maybe because I would have quite liked to do breakfast in bed when I was little, and she feared what I would do to the kitchen?  A justifiable fear, to be fair).  Anyway, this year my mother *did* want to celebrate Mothers’ Day, so to make this much easier for my brother and me, she promptly went gallivanting off to Perth for a ten day holiday, two days beforehand.  (Apparently, the best Mothers’ Day celebration is one that puts a largeish continent between you and your children.)

OK, I should probably stop being cheeky now and get to the point(s) of this post, which are that a) we are doing Mothers’ Day ten days late and b) I decided the most appropriate thing I could make Mum for her belated Mothers’ Day would be her mother’s Linzer Torte.  It’s the perfect gift recipe, because it’s a family favourite, but it’s also really fiddly and annoying to make, and thus not something that any of us make very often.

My philosophy with fiddly and annoying foodstuffs is to make them in huge quantities, so that all that fiddly annoyingness pays off for more than one meal (or one batch).  I therefore decided to triple Oma’s recipe.  But then I started mentally composing blog-posts about it (as you do) and realised that while hazelnuts or walnuts might make interesting variations, the one I really wanted to try was pistachios.  Because who wouldn’t like green pastry?  And of course, pistachios and apricots are absolute Middle East favourites.  It turns out that pistachios make a very fragile, but delicious, pastry.  The one thing I’d do differently next time is not forget to move the biscuits to the cooling rack, so that they will crisp up better.

So herewith, two recipes for the price of one: Oma’s Linzer Torte, and my Sydney-Road inspired Coburger Torte.

(Happy Mothers’ Day, Mum!)

Your Shopping List for Linzer Torte
200 g plain flour
180 g butter
100 g sugar (raw caster sugar is good)
160 g coarsely ground almonds
1 egg yolk (optional, but if you use it you can make meringues with the white!  Or a very, very small pavlova!)
250 ml plum or raspberry or cherry jam
Your Shopping List for Coburger Torte
160 g pistachios
200 g plain flour
180 g butter
100 g sugar (raw caster sugar is nice)
1/4 tsp of cardamom (optional, which is to say, I meant to put it in, but forgot
1 egg yolk (optional, but you can use the whites for macarons, and you know you want to!)
250 ml apricot jam
1/2 tsp orange flower water

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Recipe: Moroccan Snake Cake

This recipe is adapted from a Claudia Roden recipe (which I think turns up in different forms in several of her books).  It’s fairly heavily adapted, actually.  For one thing, my version is vegan, though yours doesn’t have to be.  For another thing, she claims that this amount serves 30 – 40 people, but I’ve fed this cake to hungry scientists and believe me, 30 people barely got through half of it, largely because it is very rich.  I usually halve the recipe and still wind up taking the recipe to work.

This cake isn’t as tricky as it looks, but I’m warning you now that the central section *is* tricky – your filo sausages will not want to coil tightly around themselves without breaking.  Fortunately, once you get past the middle few coils, the outer ones help to hold them in place, and the cinnamon and icing sugar will cover all the breaks anyway…

Your Shopping List
1.5 kg ground almonds (I find this works well with half almond meal, half whole almonds processed into coarse crumbs)
1 kg caster sugar (this tells you all you need to know about the glycemic index of this recipe)
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
150 ml rosewater
100 ml orange blossom water
500 g filo pastry (refrigerated, not frozen.  This would be a nightmare with de-frosted frozen pastry)
olive oil spray
(optional: 2 egg yolks for glazing, but since I never remember this, I can promise you it works without)
icing sugar and extra cinnamon for decoration

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Recipe: Pistachio and Cardamom Kourabiedes

I intended to go to the Food Bloggers’ picnic in Melbourne today, but just couldn’t drag myself out of bed again today.  And then I spent the day alternating between lurching, zombie-like around the house, and feverishly baking because I wanted to use all those exciting new spice mixes from yesterday!  Apparently, I can be awake and alert while cooking even if the rest of me is completely absent.  Oh, and I did manage to do some music theory worksheets, but I kept on zoning out and writing everything in seven sharps or seven flats, for reasons that are still not clear to me.  Possibly, I just like writing sharps and flats on things.  So that wasn’t very productive.  And now the house is full of spiced biscuits and spiced chocolate bread and vanilla sugar meringues and nobody to help us eat them.  It’s a hard life…


But!  I did have this brilliant idea about Christmas presents for everyone this year, so all is not lost!  This is definitely a case of buying people a present I would like to receive myself, but I think it would be fun to give people one or two really interesting spice or herb blends, along with a recipe card for something gorgeous to make with said spices or herbs.  There are probably people I know who wouldn’t want anything of the sort, but I suspect I can get through a lot of my list in this fashion.

So the recipe that follows probably isn’t going to be of much use to anyone who doesn’t have access to the pistachio and cardamom sugar from Gewürzhaus… though, of course, you could make it with ordinary sugar and a teaspoon or so of cardamom, and get some of the idea.  It’s pretty lovely like this, though.

Your Shopping List

125 g butter, softened
50 g pistachio and cardamom sugar, or 25 g icing sugar + a teaspoon of cardamom
25 g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange flower water
150 g plain flour
150 g ground almonds (I used the coarsely ground ones which still have some of the skins in them – very untraditional, but nice)
1 tsp baking powder

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Recipe: Apricot and Orange Sweetmeats

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re doing Pericles tomorrow, which means I am cooking like a maniac to prepare a middle-eastern themed feast, and my head is full of lists of things to make, things to decorate, things that need to be set out, things that need to be soaked, things that need to be rolled in pastry and baked, and things that need to be written down into lists so that I don’t forget to do them

Also, I am beginning to fear that I am actually making far too much food, a statement that should strike fear into the heart of anyone who has seen the amount of food I produce when I think there might not be enough…

Anyway, I just invented these sweetmeats which are easy and delicious and should surely have been invented by someone much cleverer than me already, but just in case they haven’t, I’m writing them down before I forget.  The orange flower water is a stroke of genius, if I say so myself – to me, it always has a faint hint of apricot, and a faint hint of orange, too, as well as its perfumed scent, and it really works here to unite the ingredients.

Your Shopping List

350 g Turkish dried apricots (the soft kind)
150 g glacé orange slices
1 tsp orange flower water
icing sugar to dust

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