Lemon and Coconut Brownie

Lemons lemons lemons! I still have more lemons to use up and I do love finding new ways to bake with them. It also helps to have excuses to make these treats and this time the lucky recipients were the Playcentre Mums at one of our meetings. These Lemon and Coconut Brownies certainly proved popular as I came home with an empty container and several compliments. Although the texture is not light like a cake or as dense like a brownie would usually be, I guess they are still best categorised as brownies. The great news is that it’s a one pot mixture that is very simple to make and doesn’t leave you with many dishes. Despite their simplicity they look good and are easy to cut into either small bite size pieces or larger dessert sized pieces. You could even get creative and use a cookie cutter to cut them into shapes. Make sure you are a coconut fan if you are going to try this as it is definitely a dominant flavour in the recipe. Here’s the recipe if you would like to give it a go:

Lemon and Coconut BrownieLemon and Coconut Brownie
250g Butter
1 1/2 cups Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
1 1/2 cups plain Flour
1 cup dessicated Coconut
3t Lemon Rind, finely grated
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
Icing sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 180°C and line/grease a 20×30 baking pan. Melt butter in a saucepan and then remove from the heat. Thoroughly stir in the caster sugar and then stir in the eggs one by one. Sift in the flour and mix well. Add the coconut, lemon rind and lemon juice and mix until incorporated. Tip mixture into your prepared baking pan and cook for 30-35minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan and then cut into squares and dust with icing sugar. (The recipe should make about 16 brownies.)
Recipe adapted from Australian Good Taste.


Mussels with Blue Cheese and Sundried Tomato Fettuccine

Who likes mussels? I am a big fan myself and often forget how ridiculously cheap they are to buy. At Pak’n’Save you will find them for less than NZ$3 per kg. I bought some for our dinner last night without really knowing how I was going to cook them. After consulting my fridge, pantry and Google, I found a recipe that sounded so delicious I knew I needed to try it. Although the mussels were cheap you will see that this particular recipe’s ingredients aren’t so economical. In the end I made quite a few changes to the recipe to make it into a main meal and to make use of the ingredients I had at hand. It went from being a mussel dish to a fettuccine with mussels dish. I served it alongside some homemade garlic bread, which was a good way of soaking up some of the yummy sauce. We loved the dish and if you are a fan of both mussels and blue cheese then I strongly recommend that you give it a whirl.

Mussels with Blue Cheese and Sundried Tomato Fettuccine

Mussels with Blue Cheese and Sundried Tomato Fettuccine (Serves 4)
30 Mussels, cleaned and de-bearded (give or take amount to your liking – you can see there are 7 served on the single plated dish)
2T Olive Oil
1T Butter
1 Onion, finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
2T Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup of White wine
1 cup of Cream
4T Sundried Tomato Pesto
300-400g of Fettuccine (This is approximate, but just measure out a suitable serving for 4 people)
100g Blue Cheese, diced
1t Black Pepper
2T Parsley, chopped (for garnishing)
Heat a large pot of water ready for the fettuccine to cook in once it has come to the boil. In another large pot (big enough to fit all your mussels) heat the oil and butter together. Add onion, garlic and parsley to hot oil and butter, cooking for 5 minutes until onion softens. Season with salt and then add wine, cream and sundried tomato pesto. At this point, put your fettuccine in the other pot of boiling water and cook for around 10 minutes (or as per packet instructions). When your creamy sauce has come to a boil add your mussels on top, immersing as many as possible in the liquid. Place a lid on the pot and let the mussels cook for 5-10minutes until all of the mussels have opened. You will need to shake the pot every now and then so that the mussels move around in the sauce (keep the lid on as the steam will be helping to cook them). Half way through remove the lid just the once to rotate the top mussels to the bottom, replacing lid immediately. Once all of the mussels have opened, remove them from the sauce and put into a large dish in a warming draw or oven set to low temperature. If any mussels did not open, throw them away. Once your fettuccine has cooked, drain out all of the water and add to the creamy sauce along with the blue cheese and pepper, simmering for 5 minutes. Serve fettuccine in bowls and then arrange mussels on top. Sprinkle parlsey on top and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Metro recipe for Blue Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread

It’s certainly been a lot cooler in Auckland of late which has brought me into soup season. In an effort to use up some silverbeet and pumpkin I stumbled across a hearty and healthy Pumpkin, Silverbeet, Beef and Barley Soup (the pictures don’t do it justice for how good it tastes). I have made it several times now and even Israel loves to eat it. I substitute the mince for diced beef and find that it needs a little extra liquid, but otherwise is very tasty. I made this soup one night recently and then as an afterthought I realised that I should have made some bread to go with it. Time was running out but then I remembered Annabel Langbein had a Busy People’s Bread recipe. The recipe is effectively a no-knead bread that lets the dough rise in the oven as part of the cooking time. I have renamed the bread No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread as it helps to identify the type of bread a little easier. I would liken this type of bread to that of a Vogel’s loaf. You could get a bit more creative and vary the seeds that you use for a different taste.

No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread

No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread
2 cups of Boiling water
4t Honey
2 cups of Cold water
7t Dry yeast granules (or 5.5t of active dry yeast)
2 3/4 cups of White flour
2 3/4 cups of Wholemeal flour
3t Salt
2 cups of Sunflower seeds
4T Pumpkin Seeds
Heat oven to 80°C then grease and line two loaf tins. Mix the boiling water and honey in a large bowl. Once dissolved add the cold water and yeast, setting aside for 10minutes. Whisk yeast mixture and then add remaining ingredients except pumpkin seeds. Pour half of the wet mixture into each of the tins, then sprinkle 2T of pumpkin seeds over each loaf. Score top of loaf so that it doesn’t split. Bake loaf for 20 minutes and then increase oven temperature to 210°C, and cook for 30-40 minutes. It should be hollow when you tap the top. Make sure you remove the bread from the tins right away and cool on a wire rack so that the moisture doesn’t absorb into the bread.
Recipe by Annabel Langbein

Brill Banana Cake

As a treat for my husband returning from a work trip, I decided to make him some Banana Cake. I am not a big fan of Banana Cake personally so I wouldn’t usually think to make it. I figured it would be great for morning tea for him and his staff. I decided to try Jo Seager’s Brill Banana Cake recipe for something different, as it includes the use of yoghurt in the recipe. It tasted nice enough to me (as much as Banana Cake can), but my husband and staff loved it. Also I wouldn’t usually think to do a cream cheese icing (instead of chocolate), but it seems that it is quite a popular icing for Banana Cake. If you are a Banana Cake fan then I would definitely suggest you try this recipe (below).

Brill Banana Cake
1 cup Sugar
100g Butter, melted
3 Eggs
3 Bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp Baking Soda
150ml Natural or Fruit Yoghurt (I used Greek Style Coconut Yoghurt)
2 cups Flour (or swap for Gluten Free Flour Mix if you want a gluten free cake)
3 t Baking Powder
Beat sugar, butter and eggs together until creamy, then add banana and beat well. Hear milk on a stove or microwave until nearly boiling and then dissolve baking soda in it. Add milk mixture and also yoghurt to the banana mixture and mix well. Sift in flour and baking powder and carefully mix. Pour into a greased 22cm springform tin and bake at 160° for 50minutes or until firm and a knife comes out clean. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before releasing from the tin, and cool on a wire rack. When cold, ice with your choice of icing e.g. cream cheese, chocolate or lemon icing.
Recipe by Jo Seagar

Cream Cheese Icing
125g Cream Cheese
60g Butter, softened
1t Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Essence
1 1/2 Cups Icing Sugar
Beat cream cheese, butter and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add icing sugar, beating until mixed well. Spread or pipe how you like.

Grape Jam

Recently I was given a very large amount of grapes from my in-laws. They have an abundance growing in their backyard and kindly gave us a whole bucket full. My husband was heading away on a work trip so there was no way Israel and I were going to get through them quick enough so I decided to try use them to make Jam. I am not sure what kind of grapes they were, but they look very much like Concord Grapes which I have seen many jam recipes for. I decided to follow the step by step photograph instructions given by Chef In You. As a newbie to jam, I have discovered it is quite easy to make but very time consuming to separate the skins from the insides of the grape. It took me a good half an hour or so to do this properly – making sure there were no seeds getting caught up with the skins. Check out the recipe below.

Grape Jam

Grape Jam
1.5kg of Concord Grapes (or similar)
3 cups of sugar
Thoroughly wash grapes. Separate the skins from the insides of the grape, squeezing the insides into a large saucepan and placing the skins in a different large bowl. Put saucepan with grape insides on a stove on a medium heat, bringing to the boil and then cooking for around 5 minutes until they are all mushy. Place a sieve over the bowl with the skins, and push the insides through the sieve using a spoon. Discard the seeds in the sieve. Tip grape mixture back into your saucepan and bring to the boil. While bringing to boil, heat sugar in the oven on a tray. After grape mixture has boiled for a couple of minutes, gradually add sugar a little at a time, stirring after each addition. Get the mixture boiling rapidly, stirring constantly, until thickened. Check it is ready by putting a clean metal spoon in the mixture and watching that when the mixture runs off the spoon it is more clumpy than syrup-like. Also coat your spoon in the mixture, put the spoon aside on a plate and within a couple of minutes you will see if the mixture thickened up as it cooled down. When you run your finger through the spoon, the jam should hold it’s place, rather than run together. Pour jam into hot sterilised jars (by heating in the oven) and once cooled a little put the lids on.

Recipe based on Concord Grapes Jam by Chef In You.

Melting Moments

I love trying new things, so when I stumbled across this recipe for Melting Moments I had to give them a whirl.  They are very simple to make, although they are just a little time consuming rolling the dough into little balls. I was in a bit of hurry when it came to assembling them trying to multi-task both Israels dinner and icing the biscuits before we had to head out the door with the biscuits in hand. They definitely could have been iced a little tidier, but as I transported them to a friends house for supper they also got a little knocked around in the process. If you have eaten a Melting Moment before you will understand why they are called that – which is exactly why the soft biscuit isn’t the most ideal for transporting. Never mind, they tasted great and are a lovely treat to have on the odd occassion (as they are certainly not good for the waistline). Check out the recipe below.

Melting Moments

Melting Moments
Biscuit Ingredients
250g Butter
1/3 cup Icing Sugar
1t Vanilla Essence
1 1/2 cups Self Raising Flour
1/2 cup Custard Powder
Passionfruit Filling Ingredients
60g Butter
1/2 cup Icing Sugar
1 1/2 T Passionfruit Pulp
OR: Coffee Filling Ingredients
2t Instant Coffee2t Hot Water
60g Butter
1/2 cup Icing Sugar
Heat ove
n to 180°C. Beat butter and icing sugar til light and creamy. Beat in vanilla essence. Sift flour and custard powder, mixing well to make a soft dough. Roll level tablespoons into about 28 balls, placing on 2 lined baking trays. Flatten slightly with a floured fork. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly golden then cool on a wire rack. Choose either passionfruit or coffee filling, half of each, or your own filling. To make passionfruit filling, beat butter and sugar til light and creamy, then beating in passionfruit pulp. To make coffee filling, dissolve coffee in hot water and leave to cool. Meanwhile beat butter and sugar til light and creamy, then add coffee mixture beating well. Use your filling to sandhich the biscuits together and leave to firm up before serving.

Recipe from Sweet Food by Lynn Lewis

Strawberry Cloud Cake

Last night we invited some friends over for dinner at short notice. Occasionally we do this, by defrosting enough meat in the morning to allow for guests and then seeing if people are free on the off chance. It’s quite a fun spontaneous way to have a fun night. You never know who will end up joining you. Michael was quite keen to showcase one of his very large crayfish he got over Christmas, and some tasty Venison back steaks from his family. The only thing about a spontaneous meal is making sure you have enough fresh food to work with. I wanted to try something new for dessert and over Christmas had received an older recipe book of Annabel Langbein’s called “The Free Range Cook”. I had previously marked a whole bunch of recipes that I wanted to try and one of them happened to be a Strawberry Cloud Cake. Lucky for me I had recently purchased a few punnets of strawberries and had everything I needed to try it out. The biggest concern was that by the time I made it I would only just scrape in for the 4 hours or more freezing time, but it turned out to be just enough. I am not sure what you imagine a Strawberry Cloud Cake to taste like but it was certainly light and fluffy like a cloud might be. Our guests were also very impressed which is a bonus for such an easy recipe. I love that I can store the leftovers in the freezer for another few weeks, provided there’s anything left by then.