Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 11 - Mixed - Lime and pistachio zucchini cake

"What are you putting zucchini in a cake for? That's s**t."

"I like it, so shut up."

This lime and pistachio zucchini cake never fails to provoke mixed reactions. People say they hate it - then they actually try it. While it's not to everyone's taste, I'm a fan. This is definitely a cake I find that girls like better than boys, so may be better suited to a girly afternoon tea, instead of a bbq dessert.

This recipe has actually come from my recipe journal, and is a recipe I copied at some point from my mother-in-law, who copied it from a friend of hers. Both on request after having been served the cake at dinner.

It's like a carrot and walnut cake, with the carrot and walnuts replaced with zucchini and pistachios. The zucchini doesn't really add much in the way of flavour, but does make for a really moist cake, and combined with the pistachios, it also makes it quite green on the inside!

I couldn't find shelled, unsalted pistachios (which would be ideal for making this cake) so I had to shell and chop them. You can't tell they're salted in the cake, but can tell with the ones on the top of the cake. I think it works with that sharp saltiness combining with the sweet buttery glaze I poured over the top.

Lime and pistachio zucchini cake

This cake will keep for about 5 days.

2 cups self raising flour - sifted
2 large or 3 medium zucchini - coarsely grated
Zest of 2 limes
3/4 cup vegetable oil
11/2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup pistachio kernels - finely chopped
3/4 cup almond meal - sifted
2 tsp ground cardamom - sifted

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, fan forced. Butter and flour (I used desiccated coconut) a deep, fluted 22cm cake pan - a normal cake pan won't hold all of the mixture.
Yet it still stuck - I'm a doomed baker, I'm sure this won't happen to anyone else who tries to make this cake.

Whisk the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest in a large mixing bowl until they're well combined and the mixture thickens.

Add the pistachios, almond meal, flour, cardamom and zucchini and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. 

Looks more like risotto than cake mix

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from being inserted into the cake.

Stand the cake for 10 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool. You can either allow it to cool completely, and pour over the lime glaze (recipe to come)  for an icing like effect or pour it over while it's still warm so that it sinks right in to the cake. Alternatively a lime cream cheese icing would also be good with this cake if you like it rich. 

Lime glaze
60g butter
Juice from 1 lime
1 cup pure icing sugar - sifted
1/2 cup pistachios - chopped

Melt the butter with the lime juice over a low heat. Remove from the heat, add the icing sugar and stir to combine. Return to the heat and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat again, and stand for 15 minutes before pouring glaze over the cake. Sprinkle with the pistachios.

If you're more fastidious and less forgetful than me, place some baking paper under your cake rack before you glaze and decorate this cake. It will make a mess.

There you go. That's Something by Kate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slow Fashion - The New Slow Cooking?

Ok, so this isn't a food related post. It's my blog and I'll digress if I want to. Slow fashion is a movement to attain style with a lighter environmental footprint. It's about quality over quantity and clothing made in ways that respects other people and the environment. As part of the Sustainable Living Festival there's going to be a Slow Fashion Parade on February 20th, at Fed Square in Melbourne, but prior to that there's a clothes swap in Carlton next week.

It's a great opportunity to upgrade your wardrobe, exchanging those things you no longer wear or, as foodies let's face it, those things that no longer fit!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Won? And - The Cookbook Challenge - Week 10 - Cool - Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber and Cashew Salad

And the winners of the Bondi Chai giveaway are.....

Sarah from with her suggestion of a vanilla honey chai cupcake, with honey buttercream icing, and Agnes from who said she'd use the chai in a sweet baked ravoli with a chai & ricotta filling. Thanks guys, and congratulations. Email me your postal addresses to somethingbykate at, and you'll soon have some Bondi Chai winging its way to you. I hope you'll make your suggestions soon, and post them on your blogs so everyone gets to see!

I really didn't have time to do ice-cream this week - or post on time, I'm so sorry!!!! As much as I have been desperate to make a strawberry balsamic ice cream, without an ice cream maker, and being back at work meant it just was not going to happen.

Cool, cool, cool??? Cucumbers! Cool as!

Without this week's challenge, I may never have gotten around to making Bill Granger's Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber and Cashew Salad, and that would have been an absolute shame. This dish is awesome! Plate licking awesome, believe me, I saw Mr Something literally licking it clean. He also rarely comments on my cooking, unless he really doesn't want me to make something again, but two bites in, and compliments were flying. Definitely in the Repeat Recipe Rotation.

 I didn't follow Bill's recipe exactly, but I really think that's in the spirit of Bill! He's self-taught, and so casual, I think he wants people to just have a crack.

  • I didn't have any fish sauce, so I substituted a couple of ground up anchovies and soy sauce.
  • I didn't have any mint, so I used coriander - I think the coriander is a win, I won't be reverting to mint next time I make it.
  • I only had whole cashews and was feeling lazy so didn't crush them - it wasn't necessary. 
  • I used only a third of the amount of sugar that Bill recommended and it was still plenty sweet - it may be necessary to use more if you're using fish sauce and not soy, or love it sweet. 
  • I used half the chicken and salad amount but the whole sauce amount - it was perfect.
  • I went nuts with the lime juice.

The ingredients list below show Bill's quantities.

Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber and Cashew Salad
3 tablespoons fish sauce
freshly ground black pepper
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 large red chilled, finely minced
2 teaspoons of sugar
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons caster sugar
200g vermicelli noodles
2 cucumbers, halved and thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cashew nuts, crushed

My fish sauce substitute in the flavour shaker

Whisk the soy sauce, pepper, garlic, chillies and sugar in a bowl. Put the chicken in a separate bowl and pour over half the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Fry the chicken in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on high. Bill suggests putting another frypan on top to make the chicken crisp, I used a plate, and it worked quite well.

Trust me, there's chicken under there.

While the chicken cooks, add lime juice and sugar to the marinade that wasn't added to the chicken, and stir until the sugar had dissolved to make a dressing.

Pour boiling water over the vermicelli and leave it for a minute or two until soft, drain and rinse under cold water. Mix with the cucumber, coriander, spring onions, cashews and dressing in a large bowl. Serve with the sliced chicken.

Since I was juicing a lime, I also zested it, and put the zest in a zip lock back in the freezer.

How much do I love my new microplane?

Is anyone else as big a slob as I am, ending up with food all over their books?

There you go. That's something by Kate.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 9 - Berry - Berry and Yoghurt Muffins

It appears that baking is not my forte. While I love it, and the result is always edible, I seem singly unable to bake something that doesn't stick to the pan. Check out my brownies for an example. This occurred again this week, despite greasing the (non-stick my behind) pans as instructed. If anyone has any tips, I'd be eternally grateful! Even tips for getting stuck muffins out of the pans in as large a piece as possible would be well received!

That's as whole as it gets.

I started back at work this week after a wonderful break, and thought a muffin for breakfast would be a nice high energy kick-start to my working day. AWW Bake produced the Berry and Yogurt Muffins recipe, which with rolled oats, berries and yogurt, how much more breakfasty can a muffin get? Also, I still haven't replaced the mixer that I broke at Christmas, so a recipe that I only needed sifting and stirring was welcome. 

Unfortunately, these were so broken that it was far too embarrassing to share them at work, so they were hidden away for private consumption.

 This is what they're supposed to look like

Berry and yogurt muffins

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
3 eggs
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable
180g fresh/frozen berries 
(I used fresh strawberries as they were STILL on sale at my supermarket - WIN!)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease (and grease, and grease) your muffin pan.

Sift flour into a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients. Do not overmix.

Spoon into pan holes.

Bake muffins for about 25 minutes. Stand in pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack, and turning top side up to cool.

Innocent little pools of muffin batter. They give no indication of the trouble they're about to cause.

Aren't muffins simple? Until you go to turn them out and they just won't budge. GRRRR.... and I tried so hard to make them look pretty, baking them with peach and apple fans, sprinkled with demerara sugar. I should have focused on keeping them whole!

It's still good, it's still good

These are very sweet, and you really can't tell that there's rolled oats in them. Also, strawberries don't seem to bake well. While very nice prior to cooking, they were somewhat bland in the muffins. I don't think I'd make these again, only if they were a specific request, or fit a theme particularly well, because I'm sure AWW Bake can produce much better options than these. It was a bit of a disappointing first outing for the book, but we'll see if we can't make a winner of it yet.

If anyone's getting stuck for what to cook for the challenge, or you just don't have the time to browse for a recipe, check out I can't remember where I came across this, I think Vicious Ange left a comment on someone else's blog, and I was hooked. Thanks Ange! There's a good sample of my cookbook shelf there, and I expect that as more people join, more books will be available to search.

There you go. That's something by Kate.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Giveaway Deadline - Monday 18th!

Just a quick reminder to comment on my post from week 7 of The Cookbook Challenge with a creative way to use Chai in the kitchen. I'll be making a decision on Monday, so only 4 days to go!

If you need some inspiration, check out my panna cotta from week 7, or my bread and butter pudding, or have a go at something like this from Audrey Jansen (sent to my by Martin from Bondi Chai):

Bondi Chai Pork Ribs With Mango chutney
600 grams pork ribs
3 tsp garlic dukkah
3 tsp bondi chai – club cinnamon
3 gloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp mango chutney
300g mixed green salad
2 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp salute olive oil

1. Marinate the pork ribs with bondi chai, 2 tbsp of mango chutney, salt and pepper and set aside for 10 minutes. Before pan frying, coat ribs with the garlic dukkah.
2. In a heated non-stick pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and pan fry each rib until light golden brown. Set aside on a plate.
3. To make the sauce for the salad. In the same pan, add some olive oil and sauté the garlic until fragrant. Pour in vinegar and sugar; let it simmer until the liquid is reduced.
4. Pour the salad dressing over a bed of green salad.
5. To serve, place ribs onto a plate with the extra mango sauce and the salad at the side.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bread and Cinnamon Chai Butter Pudding with Raspberry Glaze

I had half a loaf of Glick's Sweet Challah sitting on my bench, left over from my visit to Costo last week, and was a bit tired of having it toasted with strawberry & vanilla conserve.  I also wanted to play a bit more with the Bondi Chai tea powder that Martin sent me.  How could I combine those two things to make something delicious? Turns out, it was easy-peasy! Old school bread and butter pudding, livened up a little.

The English are famous for their puddings so I turned to Cook with Jamie Oliver for a quick refresher on what goes into the custard, and I was away!

I made the chai butter, by mixing 100g softened butter with 1 1/2 teaspoons of Bondi Chai Club Cinnamon, and spread it on both sides of sliced up Challah bread.

Layered the bread in a shallow baking dish, also spread with the chai butter.

Warm 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 3/4 cups cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste over a really low heat - below a simmer.

While that's heating, beat 6 egg yolks, and 1 whole egg, then pour the warm cream mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly.

Pour the custard over the layered bread, dunking any bits that stick out to make sure they're coated, and leave to soak for about 1/2 hour.

Place the baking dish into a roasting tray, and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dish - making sure it's not so full that you won't be able to lift it into and out of the oven safely!

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees (fan forced) for 45 minutes. After this, microwave 1/4 cup raspberry jam for about 20 seconds on high, and brush generously over the bread tops. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Allow the pudding to cool for at least 10 minutes before you serve it - although it will be tough to wait!

I love the balance of creamy, cinnamon spicy, gooeyness, and jammy toastiness, so try to make sure everyone gets a bit of both when you serve it. Be warned, it's very addictive, and very filling. I had to warn Mr Something not to jiggle the couch too much, because my belly might have overflowed! Yet I still have some left - YAY!

Guess what I'm having for dessert tonight!

There you go. That's something by Kate.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 8 - Sweet - Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve

Wow, week 8 of the cookbook challenge already. Can you believe it? And more food bloggers are still joining us. It's fantastic! Check out everyone who's participating over at Rilsta's blog.

I had no idea what I was going to make for this week's challenge, there were too many options, and I ended up making something that wasn't even on my shortlist at the start of the week. I received January's Australian Good Taste magazine in the mail on Wednesday, and when I got to page 21 I knew I'd found my recipe for the week. What's sweeter than jam?

This choice was made even easier by my local supermarket having a special on strawberries of $1.89/250g and the find I made on my first ever visit to Costco this week:

a 65g jar of Queen Vanilla Bean Paste is currently $10.88 at Coles ($16.74/100g), but this 320g baby set me back only $23.99 ($7.50/100g). Bargain! I also picked up AWW Bake for $44.95 which I've been coveting since Rilsta made the lemon white chocolate mudcake in week 1 of the cookbook challenge. Much cheaper than $100.95 at Borders, where I almost bought it last week!

Anyway, back to the challenge.

This was my first attempt at making jam (sorry, conserve) and it was so easy.

I halved the recipe, except for the vanilla, as I didn't really want 2 1/2 cups of conserve, although I kind of regret it now, and will have to make more soon. I'm consuming it much faster than I anticipated.

Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve

500g strawberries, washed and hulled (I also halved them, as I didn't want it too chunky)
500g caster sugar
40ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Strawberries have to be the most photogenic fruit!

Layer strawberries and sugar in a large bowl, cover, and allow to infuse overnight.

Transfer to a large saucepan with the lemon juice and vanilla. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil. Skim any froth that forms on the surface using a large metal spoon.

Cook, stirring often, for 25-30 minutes. I cooked mine for 25 minutes, and I probably should have stopped at 20.

Check if it's ready by placing a saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes, then spoon a little conserve onto it and return it to the freezer for 2 minutes. Touch it, and if it wrinkles and feels gel-like it's ready.

You probably can't see it, but trust me, it's wrinkled.

Spoon the hot conserve into clean, dry, glass jars. I heated mine (gently, on 70 degrees) in the oven first, but this probably isn't necessary, I'm just paranoid about mixing high and low temperatures and glass. Seal jars and invert for 2 minutes. Turn right side up and leave to cool. I used old pasta sauce jars, and it was pretty awesome that when they cooled the safety seal button depressed! Ok, maybe that's lame, but I was excited to see it.

If you're going to leave your strawberries whole, make sure you use a wide mouthed jar. I used quite narrow jars, and even with the strawberries halved it was awkward to spoon the hot conserve into them.

Don't forget to enter your creative Chai recipe at last week's post, for your chance to win some Bondi Chai. You've got one more week to think about it!

There you go. That's something by Kate.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 7 - Soft - Lamb Shanks, Perfect Pannacotta and a Giveaway!

Sorry I'm late with my cookbook challenge this week. I lost my camera cable and couldn't post without pics. It was "tidied" and I've only just re-located it.

This week's challenge recipes are fresh from the first dinner with the in-laws in our new house. The meal received rave reviews, and both recipes are definitely going on the repeat recipe rotation. Australian Women's Weekly, what would we do without you?

I've been wanting to make Lamb Shanks in five-spice, tamarind and ginger from AWW 501 Low Carb Recipes for ages - it was the reason I bought the book in the first place, but 6 months later I still hadn't done it. The Cookbook Challenge's Soft theme is the perfect week for melt in your mouth, falling off the bone, slow cooked lamb shanks. It takes a while in the oven, but is really simple.

I also needed to produce a dessert that was light and fresh, and able to tone down the chilli flavours from the lamb, while still holding it's own in flavour. You may remember that Martin from Bondi Chai sent me some of their product to have a play with (and giveaway, so make sure you read to the end!), and I thought the Vanilla Honey Chai would be a perfect pannacotta flavouring, so I combined it with this week's Soft theme, pulling out 1000 Best Ever Recipes from AWW which was a much appreciated Christmas gift.

I'll post these recipes in the order I served them, rather than the order I made them.

Asparagus wrapped in proscuitto

Self explanatory really. Steam your asparagus sparingly - no more than 5 minutes.

Lamb shanks in five-spice, tamarind and ginger

2 tsp five-spice powder
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine (I couldn't get any, and used dry sherry)
2 tbsp tamarind puree
2 tbsp brown sugar
40g grated ginger (I was desperate to use my new microplane that I got for Christmas, but the supermarket was out of fresh ginger, so I used the tube stuff)
2 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups water
8 (1.6kg) french trimmed lamb shanks (AWW says this serves 4, but take into account who you're serving - I served 6 shanks to 2 gentlemen and 2 ladies and it was perfect)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Combine soy sauce, rice wine, tamarind, sugar, ginger, garlic and water in a medium jug.

Dry-fry five-spice, chilli, cinnamon and star anise, stirring constantly until fragrant.

Add spices to the jug of liquids, and whisk to combine.

Place shanks in a large shallow baking dish (preferably with a lid) in a single layer and pour the spice mixture on.

Cover and bake for 2 hours, turning occasionally (I did it every 1/2 hour).

Once cooked, remove shanks from dish and cover to keep warm. Strain remaining sauce into a small saucepan and boil, then pour over lamb and vegetables of your choice.

I served mine with mashed potato (not in the spirit of the low-carb recipe) and steamed choy sum and broccolini.

Vanilla Honey Chai Pannacotta

300ml thickened cream
250ml milk
1 vanilla bean (I substituted this for 8 teaspoons of Bondi Chai Vanilla Honey Creamy Tea Latte Powder)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatine powder
1 strip lemon rind (trust me, it's better with 2!)

Stir all the ingredients in a pan over low heat until warm.

Stand until cool.

Strain mixture through a fine strainer into medium jug, and pour into 4 1/2 cup moulds, or martini glasses. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Turn pannacotta from moulds onto serving plates, or leave in glasses.

I served mine with a rosewater strawberry syrup, made by boiling 1/4 cup caster sugar with 1/2 punnet chopped strawberries, 1/4 cup water and a few drops of rosewater essence.

And I promised a giveaway!

While my pannacotta was absolutely delicious, and was eaten even by the person who at first responded to it with cries of "why isn't this chocolate mousse?!?" I haven't been overly creative with my use of the Bondi Chai powder.  I bet you can do better! I have 1 Club Cinnamon Bondi Chai, and 1 Vanilla Honey Bondi Chai to give away courtesy of Martin from Bondi Chai.

Leave me a comment telling me how you would use Bondi Chai powder in your cooking, and the 2 most creative ways will win a packet to create their vision. Whilst I welcome comments from international visitors, I can only post these prizes within Australia, and I will make the final decision based on comments received before 18th January 2010.  You may want to check out the Bondi Chai website for some inspiration, or try their Facebook page.

There you go. That's something by Kate.
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