Category Archives: recipes

#recipe: Purple carrot cake

purple carrots 2

I owe this recipe to my sister-in-law, Victoria. Thank you!

The cake was delicious as Victoria first baked it, but I think my small changes have made it a fraction healthier. But then, who cares about healthy?

Where I have strayed slightly from the ingredients or quantities, I have given the original ingredients or quantities in brackets afterwards.

Let’s do it!


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup raw or caster sugar
  • ½ cup oil* – peanut or olive is fine [1 cup]
  • 1 cup self raising flour plus 1/3 cup almond meal [1/3 cup wholemeal flour]
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bi-carbonate of soda [1 1/3 teaspoons]
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt [optional in the original recipe]
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons cinnamon – i.e. LOTS!
  • 2 cups peeled and grated purple carrots – about 3 big ones [approx. 2 big orange carrots]
  • [optional] ½ cup sultanas tossed in flour
  • [optional] 1 cup chopped walnuts

* 1/2 a cup of oil will result in a lighter, drier, fluffier carrot cake. If you like yours more traditional, experiment with the amount of oil you add, bearing in mind that 1 cup is probably the maximum, while 1/2 a cup is the minimum.


  1. Preheat oven to 150 C [Fanbake] or 300 – 325 F
  2. Lightly grease and flour a 19 cm ringform cake tin
  3. Break whole eggs into the mixing bowl and beat until frothy
  4. Continue beating as you add 1 cup of sugar to the eggs, a bit at a time. Beat well between each addition. The egg mixture should become light in colour, thick and fluffy.
  5. Continue beating as you add the oil.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the flour, bi-carb and cinnamon onto the egg mix.
  7. Fold in.
  8. Peel and grate the carrots just before adding them to the cake to stop them from going ‘greenish’ during cooking.
  9. Fold in the grated carrots
  10. Fold in the yoghurt
  11. Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin and sprinkle with almond flakes.
  12. Place in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for approx.. 1 hour.
  13. At the end of the hour [and not before!] test the cake with a skewer. The skewer should be a little greasy but not wet or sticky.
  14. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to stand in the tin for about 5 minutes.
  15. Turn the cake out onto a wire cooling rack.

Serve at room temperature with cream, ice cream or just plain. Or if you’re like us, eat as soon as it comes out of the pan to enjoy the sweet, slightly toffee-like crunch of the outer ‘skin’. Once the cake cools, the skin loses it’s crunch.

The Offspring and I found no difference in taste using purple vs orange carrots, and as you can see from the photo, the purple carrots do not turn the whole cake purple so you can serve it without your guests ever knowing it’s a ‘healthy’ option. 😉

Bon appetit!


Preserved #apricots and a #Wüsthof to grind

After the sadness of the Rickman and Bowie posts, I thought it would be nice to talk about joyful things for a change, and what could be more joyful than food and gadgets?

Before I begin though, let me tell you a little story. Back in the mists of time when The Offspring was but a twig, we lived in a leafy suburb of Melbourne called Heathmont. There I planted an apricot tree which flowered, fruited [abundantly] and sprouted a baby apricot tree of its own. When we sold the house, I potted up the baby apricot tree and it travelled with us for over fifteen years before we finally settled again in Warrandyte.

How that small, stunted apricot tree survived for so long in a pot I’ll never know, but it did, and more amazing still, it’s managed to survive and thrive in the not-so-welcoming soil of Warrandyte. But the proof of how special it is lies, as they say, in the eating, and boy are these apricots amazing. Store bought apricots may look luscious but the flavour is generally tart and ‘bland’. By contrast, the sun-warmed, sun-sweetened apricots from my little tree are incredibly sweet, even when they’re not completely ripe, and I’ve been eating them until they’re coming out of my ears!

Sadly, even my stomach has limits so this morning I stared long and hard at the 20 or so apricots left from the harvest. I tried drying the surplus last year, without much success, so what should I do with them this year?

I dismissed the idea of apricot jam without any hesitation; even I am not stupid enough to make that much of a mess for just 20 apricots. But what about compote? That would be quick and easy with minimal clean-up.

True, I thought, but compote will only last a couple of days in the fridge and I’m really sick of apricots….

Ah! But what about preserves? a sly little voice whispered in my ear.

Are you crazy? I scoffed. What do I know about preserving?

Nevertheless, a few minutes later I found myself typing ‘preserving apricots’ in Papa Google’s search box. That, eventually led to this:

apricot preserves

I’d like to say the process was simple and painless, but that would be a lie and I’m a nice girl. For starters, only one of the guides I read mentioned that it might be a good idea to have a specialist jar lifter on hand. For those not as au fait with this topic as moi -cough- a jar lifter looks like this:

jar lifter

As you can see, this nifty tool allows you to grip the lid of the boiling hot jar without burning yourself. The padded black bits on the feet [for want of a more technical term] stop the boiling hot glass from exploding when touched by a cold, metal implement.

Of course, I did not have a specialist jar lifter on hand, but I did know about hot glass and cold things, so I improvised with oven mitts like so:

apricots and oven mitts

[Don’t even think about doing this with multiple jars of preserves!]

I did manage to get the jar out of the boiling hot water without damaging it, or myself, but if I ever do this again, I will definitely invest in a jar lifter.

Another thing I might invest in is some proper, preserving equipment – like jars and lids. The jar I used originally contained Morello cherries, and I have no way of knowing if the seal still works. It looks as if it has worked as the lid has ‘sucked in’ a bit, but I still think we’ll be eating the apricots sooner rather than later. Just in case.

Once the jar was safely out of the pot, I wrapped it in a clean tea towel because another guide said to let the preserves cool down in a draft free place – again, to stop the temperature differences from damaging the jar…the kitchen…the cook….

And finally a word about the syrup. The first recipe I read called for a ratio of half-and-half for the syrup, i.e. half sugar, half water. Now to me, that would be unbearably sweet, and totally unnecessary as my home grown apricots are/were beautifully sweet already. That said, I wasn’t quite game to use plain water for the syrup, so I heated up 1/4 cup of organic demerara sugar with 2 cups of filtered water and let it boil for about a minute before taking it off the heat. As I was only preserving one jar of fruit, I ended up with about 1/3 of the syrup left over. I’ll update this post with the taste test once we’ve actually tried the preserves.:)

And now, as I’m still in a kitcheny mood, here’s an extra little bit about a wonderful gadget I was given as a gift by a foodie friend:

wusthof knife sharpener

Sorry to make you wait so long for an explanation of the title but I’m in a playful mood.

So. A knife sharpener, a German knife sharpener. What’s the big deal?

Let me start by saying that I have been sharpening kitchen knives since the days of the Wiltshire Staysharp scabbard – you know, the one where you sharpen the knife every time you push it into the scabbard, at least in theory. I also own one of those sharpening tools that butchers use. It looks good, but I’ve never used it because I don’t know how. More recently, The Offspring bought me a handy sharpener that actually does work, but I’m a little scared of sharpening myself with it so it doesn’t get used as often as it should. Net result: my knives spend most of their working lives being blunt.

Enter the Wüsthof.

I swear, I am not getting a commission or any kickbacks for this, but I have never used anything that worked as quickly and easily as this little beauty. The two grinding ‘wheels’ are labelled ‘coarse’ and ‘fine’ so I tried one of my kitchen knives on the coarse one first. I could feel the sharpener biting into the edge of the blade. After a couple of swipes I switched to the ‘fine’ grinding wheel and gave the knife a few more swipes. Then I tested it on a raw chicken drumstick.

Now I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to fillet a chicken drumstick, but it’s not easy. The shape is awkward and the meat lies snugly along the bone, making knife work difficult. But you should see how easy it is when you have a truly sharp knife! I’m just grateful I have a knife block in which to store my newly sharpened knife because I wouldn’t trust it loose in a drawer. Honestly, this thing is like a razor blade now!

So there you have it, some tips on preserving home-grown apricots [from a complete novice] and two gadgets that would be a welcome addition to any kitchen.





Caramelised belly pork with sour [Morello] cherries

With a heatwave forecast for the next three days, I thought it might be a good idea to cook dinner this morning, while everything was still nice and cool. So I did, and it turned out to be one of the yummiest recipes I’ve ever tried. Sadly I can’t post a photo because we ate it before I thought of taking one.

The idea for the recipe came from Aussie chef Kylie Kwong. She makes a delicious looking dish with bacon, red wine and cherries :

My version is a much simpler dish featuring fresh belly pork and sour cherries, two ingredients I almost always keep on hand.

Ingredients [for 2]

4 lean rashers of fresh belly pork :

belly pork

2 cups of sour, Morello cherries and [their] juice. They come in a jar like this and 2 cups will be approximately 2/3 of the jar :

morello cherries jar

1/4 cup raw sugar

2 cloves garlic [crushed]

1 fresh bay leaf or 2? dried ones

1/2 of a large white salad onion roughly sliced

salad onions

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 teaspoon table salt


Mix all the ingredients of the ‘marinade’ in a baking dish just large enough to hold the meat. Arrange the pork in the marinade and spoon the cherries and onion mix over the top – i.e. you cook the pork in the marinade straight away.

Loosely cover the baking dish with foil and place in a moderate oven [approx 150 C] for about an hour.

[I don’t like the flavour of the bay leaf to be too overpowering so I removed it when I turned the meat – after about 1/2 an hour].

When the meat is tender, remove the foil and allow to bake for a further 1/2 an hour or until most of the juices have evaporated leaving a lovely, caramelised sauce over the meat.

Allow to stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving, or make ahead and refrigerate until needed.

[I made it ahead and heated it up for dinner…but only until the meat was just warm and the sauce sticky. Over cooking at this point could burn the whole dish].

The Offspring and I ate a small lettuce and avocado salad first, as a sort of entree. Then we ate the meat on its own. It was so rich we didn’t need anything else. I think this is going to become one of my favourite no-fuss dishes.








Paprikás krumpli betataster needed!

Hi guys. I’m just about to race off to work, but I thought I’d throw this at you before I go – can someone betataste this recipe for me please!

Paprikás krumpli [Literally potatoes with paprika]

This is probably one of my favourite examples of poor man’s food because it is so tasty and satisfying – and so cheap to make.
The basic recipe requires only chopped onion, oil [or lard], sweet paprika powder and potatoes. I usually dress it up a little with either bacon or chorizo, or both, but essentially the flavour just gets better the more you add. Just do not add tomatoes. That would take this dish right over into the realms of Italian food.

Basic Ingredients

1 medium onion
1 chorizo [optional]
3 tablespoons of good quality sweet paprika powder
3 large potatoes peeled and cut in 6ths [i.e. big but not too big]
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
3-4 tablespoons of peanut oil [or oil of your choice]
3 cups COI chicken soup [optional] or water


– Chop the onions, and cut the chorizo in bite-sized chunks. Gently saute both in the oil until the onion is translucent.
– Add the paprika powder, mix in and allow to cook for about 1 minute on low heat.

Before the liquid is added

Before the liquid is added

– Add the potatoes, stirring to coat each piece in the paprika mix. Allow to cook very gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This step is important to get the flavour into the potato before it’s diluted with the liquid.
– Sprinkle with salt and add the soup or water. The liquid should just cover the potatoes.
– Stir and bring to the boil, then cover and lower the heat.
– Simmer until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened a little, and is a rich red in colour.

Serve this dish on its own with fresh crusty bread and a simple salad [traditional], or serve as the accompaniment to a ‘dry’, fairly bland meat.

Many thanks


Does my crepe look fat in this?

-grin- Sorry, couldn’t resist. However, I do genuinely want to know which of the following is the best picture of a crepe! I’ve just written up the crepe recipe for ‘How to eat well on $9.04’ and I want to include a picture of how my crepes turn out. And yes, I do apologise for the poor quality of the photos; I’m a cook not a photographer. 😦

Picture 1

crepes 1 smallPicture 2

crepes 2 smallPicture 3

crepes 3 small


I’m trying to show :

a)  How thin the crepes are,

b)  How you roll them up, and

c)  The ‘golden’ colour

And of course I’m aiming to do all that as clearly as possible. Please tell me which pic you think works best in comments. 

Thanks in advance, guys




Butterless, eggless chocolate cake – DELICIOUS!

One of the ladies I help teach brought in a chocolate cake today, and it was so moist and delicious we all asked for the recipe. I’m going to try it out on the weekend but I thought you guys might like to get the recipe now.

1 1/2 cup self raising flour (do not sift)
1/3 cup baking cocoa powder
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 teasp salt
Mix the above
Make a well, add
1 teasp vanilla essence
1 tabsp vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
Then gradually add a cup of water and mix gently till all is mixed.
Do NOT over mix.
Bake in a preheated oven 190 degrees celsius for 1/2 hour.
Do NOT over bake to maintain its moistness.

Nanki sprinkled icing sugar over the top and we had it for morning tea today. I kid you not, it was wonderful.



Lentil stew – a quick, home-alone recipe

The Daughter is away this weekend, so last night I indulged myself by cooking a lentil stew she hates! If there are other lentil haters out there, turn away now. 😀


1 plain Kransky sausage [or Chorizo or salami or even just a couple of rashers of bacon]

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 or 2 sad, leftover fresh tomatoes [optional]

1 x tin lentils

a pinch of cayenne [hot and optional]

1 tablespoon of oil [I use peanut or olive]


Slice the smoked whatever and gently saute in the oil.

While the meat is sautee-ing, finely chop the onion and add to the meat.

Allow the onions to cook for 5 minutes before adding the finely chopped garlic.

Allow the meat mixture to cook for another 5 minutes before stirring in the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes [if using] and the cayenne. Do NOT add salt as the cured meats are salty enough already.

Empty the tin of lentils into a colander and rinse under cold water before adding to the meat mix. Stir, add about 1/4 cup of water and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. If the stew gets too dry, or looks as if it might burn, add a little more water, but remember – this is a stew not a soup!

The longer you leave the stew simmering the better the flavour becomes, but if you’re very hungry you can serve up as soon as the fresh tomatoes have softened. Last night, total cooking time was about 1/2 an hour.

You can make steamed rice to go with the stew, or even mashed potatoes, but I just ate my quick stew with fresh, crusty white bread. It was delicious, and I had the added satisfaction of knowing I had well and truly had my fibre for the day. Better still, it was faster than getting takeaway, and cost next to nothing as I keep most of the ingredients on hand at all times. If you had to buy in the ingredients this stew might cost $6 – 7, tops.

Lentil stew will never be mistaken for haute cuisine, but if you don’t mind lentils, it will provide a hearty, delicious meal in a hurry.




quince sauce my quincesOkay, that may have been a little misleading – I have two quinces. See them there, next to the apple [on the counter I cleaned just for you]?

I grew those beauties! And tonight they become quince compote. I’ll be serving them, Hungarian style, as the accompaniment to home made chicken schnitzel. No rice, no pasta, no potatoes – just schnitzel and quinces. The two flavours and textures compliment each other beautifully.

Okay, now for a mini cooking class, and for once I actually took pics as I prepared the quinces. I don’t know what’s the matter with me, such efficiency is not normal. 😉

1. First, peel your quince.

quince sauce peelAs you can see, I’m using a fairly heavy duty peeler.

That’s because raw quince is as hard to peel as pumpkin. Harder, actually, as you can’t afford to chop away half the fruit with the peel.

Do persevere though, and when you’re done, run the fruit under cold water as it browns very quickly once it’s naked.

2. Cutting, my way.

quince sauce in halvesLike a pumpkin, raw quince is very dense, and the core is hard to get out, so this is my way of making life easier on myself.

Cut the quince in half as shown in the photo to the left.

Then cut it into quarters, and finally into eighths.

Again, as you cut, dunk the cut pieces into water.

3. Exit the core.

quince sauce in eighthsThis cutting is like origami in reverse, but when you’re down to eighths, you can quite easily cut that section of core out using a sharp knife held at an angle.

Once the bits of core are out, you should be able to slice the remaining flesh quite easily.

I’m an impatient cook so I tend to slice the quince quite fine as it takes longer to cook than, say, an apple.

4. Into the pot.

Most recipes I found online called for insane amounts of sugar – i.e. 1 cup of sugar per 2 cups of liquid. I like to be able to taste the flavour of the quince, and I admit I don’t have a sweet tooth, so my version calls for about 3 cups of water to 1/2 a cup of sugar.

Using whichever set of ingredients you prefer, combine the sugar and water in a pot large enough to take the quinces and bring to the boil.

Pour the sliced quince into the sugar syrup. Jiggle the pot to get the quince settled into the syrup.

Bring the pot to the boil again, and then turn down to the gentlest simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid – i.e. so the syrup doesn’t evaporate too quickly but steam can escape. Then simmer gently for about an hour until the quince are tender.

Tah Dah!

quince sauce in pot

Because I didn’t use a lot of sugar, the quince haven’t gone that delicate shade of pink you’re supposed to get, but I think they taste better. 🙂

Serve hot with a meat [pork is lovely too], or allow to cool and have as a dessert with cream or ice-cream.

And now an apology. I know I’ve been slack lately, but I’ve been working hard trying to get myself some paid employment. I hope to have some news on that front later in the week. Until then, have a great weekend. 🙂





Recipe – Glutin Free & Low Carb Hazelnut Cake

low carb hazelnut cakeMy experiments yesterday were a success! The picture is of Hazelnut Cake Mark II, which is now ready for Christmas Eve.

The cake contains neither sugar, nor flour, but I discovered I needed to dust the greased cake pan with a tiny bit of flour to stop the cake from sticking. I did try using just waxed paper on my first, experimental effort, but the paper stuck to the cake, and would not peel off. If the cake must be 100% gluten free, dust the cake pan with rice flour instead.

So here’s the recipe.


150 gm unsalted, room temperature butter

60 gm Stevia sweetener

180 gm hazelnut meal [finely ground hazenuts]

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract

3 egg yolks*

6 egg whites**

½ a teaspoon bi-carb [soda bicarbonate]

A small handful of whole hazelnuts

1 tablespoon flour [rice or potato flour for 100% gluten free, wheat flour for 99.99% gluten free] to dust the cake pan


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. Lightly grease a cake pan [19 cm diameter x 7 cm deep] and dust with flour. Tap the pan to shake out the excess flour.
  3. With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside in a cool place.
  4. Using the same beaters, cream the butter, Stevia and vanilla. The mix won’t go as soft and creamy as with sugar but don’t worry.
  5. Continue beating as you add the egg yolks one at a time, making sure they are well mixed between additions.
  6. Sprinkle the bi-carb over the ground hazelnuts and add them to the butter mix by hand.
  7. Mix in 1/3 of the egg whites to moisten the batter. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites and place the cake mix into the prepared cake pan.
  8. Put the whole hazelnuts into a blender and give them a short whiz – just enough to break them up into nice chunky bits.
  9. Sprinkle the hazelnut pieces over the cake mix and place in the oven.
  10. Check the cake after 15-20 minutes. Once it has risen nicely, turn the heat down to about 170 C and continue baking for another 45 minutes. If necessary, lightly rest a piece of foil on top to stop the hazelnut pieces from burning.
  11. The cake is ready when it has shrunk away from the sides of the pan, and a bamboo skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. [The skewer will feel greasy but not ‘wet’].
  12. Take the cake from the oven and allow it to stand in the pan for 5 minutes before gently transferring it to a cake rack to finish cooling down.
  13. Once the cake is completely cold, store in an air-tight container.

* I used the left over egg yolks to make custard

** When you’re separating the eggs, make sure NONE of the yolk is mixed with the whites because even a tiny bit will stop the whites from whipping up.

This cake is part of a very low carb Christmas Eve feast I’m preparing for a guest who has Type II diabetes. If you have diabetes, check with your doctor or dietitian before using this recipe as it is not fat free and may not be suitable for your condition!

Well, it’s Sunday morning Downunder, and I still have a million and one jobs to do, so this will be my last post until after Christmas.

Wherever you are, and whatever your plans for Christmas, stay safe, and have a good one. 🙂



Hungarian rizskók [or rice pudding cake]



Like many traditional Hungarian recipes, this unusual cake evolved from ‘poor man’s food’. You can make it from scratch, or you can make it from leftover rice pudding.

My Mum always made it from leftovers because she made rice pudding as often as English speakers would make oat porridge. The only difference was that we would have rice pudding as a dessert, with lots of cinnamon and sugar, after a simple main course such as chicken soup.

The cake itself can be heavy or light, depending on how many eggs you use. The version I made the other night was very light, but so delicious with its slightly granular texture that The Daughter and I had it for dessert, breakfast, lunch and snacks in-between.  I know, mea culpa, but at least I didn’t make chocolate sauce to go with it. That would have been really naughty. 🙂

Few of Mum’s recipes were measured [she was a pantster before they had a name for it] but I looked online for some quantities and I will give those for the rice pudding. If you want to try this ‘porridge’ on its own first, just add a bit more of everything except the sugar.

Rice Pudding

1. Pour 1 cup of water into a medium sized pot. Add one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla essence. Bring this light syrup to the boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.

[The reason I start the cooking with a water syrup instead of milk is that milk can easily boil over, and I hate having to clean up the mess].

2. Add one cup of long grain rice, stir, cover and let the rice simmer until it has absorbed most of the syrup.

3. When the rice is half cooked [and the syrup is almost gone] add one cup of milk, stir and let it continue simmering. The rice has to be fluffy and not at all crunchy so add more milk until it is the right texture, and has a nice porridgy consistency.

4. Serve with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Allow the leftovers to cool in the fridge.

Rice pudding cake

If you are making this cake all in one hit, you MUST allow the rice pudding to cool completely. Warm rice pudding will give you sweet scrambled eggs with rice.

1. Preheat oven to 180 C [or 350 F]. [If you use fan bake, lower that temperature a little].

2. Lightly grease a kuglof tin

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

or a ringform tin. Dust the inside of the tin with flour. Shake out the excess.

3. Separate 4 eggs into two mixing bowls.

4. Using an electric mixer, whip the whites until firm peaks have formed. Set aside in a cool place [not fridge].

5. Using the same beaters, cream the yolks with 4 tablespoons of caster sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence.

6. Measure 3 cups of cold rice pudding into a large mixing bowl. [It’s not necessary to pack the rice in tightly].

7. Stir the creamed egg yolks into the rice pudding.

8. Gently stir 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the rice pudding.

9. FOLD the remaining 2/3 of the egg white into the cake batter. [Don’t be too worried by a few white lumps].

10. Pour the cake batter into whichever type of tin you are using, and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven.

Cooking time will vary but expect it to take between 45 minutes to an hour. Do not open the oven during the first 1/2 an hour of baking. The cake will rise like a souffle, and then it will slowly deflate. It will be done when :

a) It is a rich, golden brown and has pulled away slightly from the sides of the tin,

b) A skewer pushed into the centre comes out moist but not gooey. This cake will never be completely ‘dry’ so the skewer test is just for peace of mind.

Once the cake is done, leave it in the tin and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes. You should be able to touch the outside of the cake tin without going ‘ouch’.

Use a plastic spatula to completely loosen the cake from the tin. Give the tin a little shake. If the cake jumps around a bit it’s ready to be decanted.

Place a serving plate over the tin and flip the whole thing so the top of the cake ends up sitting on the plate. Dust the cake with icing sugar and serve plain or with :

– plum jam and whipped cream, [the picture shows apricot jam so suit yourself]

– a warm chocolate sauce. [And no, sorry, not giving you that recipe because you’ll get fat! I do have a conscience you know].

Enjoy. 🙂



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