Monthly Archives: September 2012

Almond Brandy Cake


I love cakes that are moist and dense and rich, cakes that you can chew.  So I love cakes using almond meal.  This cake isn’t too heavy or fudgelike, but it has a wonderful texture that you can enjoy with the flavour.  The almond flavour may be a bit strong for many kids, so I think of this as an adults cake. The brandy flavour is subtle so you can skewer the cake when it comes out of the oven and pour more brandy over the top – it can easily take another 1/4 cup without getting soggy.


  • 250 g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 t almond essence
  • 1 c raw caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c self raising flour
  • 2 c almond meal
  • 1/2 c brandy

Line a 23cm springform pan with baking paper. Preheat oven to 160C.

Using a large mixing bowl, beat butter, essence, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flours over butter mixutre and beat in.  Add almond meal and brandy, and stir until well mixed.

Spoon cake into prepared pan, and smooth top with a wet spoon or spatula.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Stand pan on rack to cool before turning out.


  • 200 g butter at room temperature
  • 3 c icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c milk, or enough to acheive the desired consistency

Beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla together, gradually adding milk until the icing reaches the desired texture.

Serve the iced cake with a generous helping of fresh berries.  Generously serves 12.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2009, p44.

Pepperoni and Potato Salad


Potato salad: the age old stand by for casual parties, barbecues, family dinners.  A bad one is bland and dull and very uninspiring. A good one though can be a fabulous addition to a menu.

I love this one because it has a bit of spice, some un-potato-salad-like flavours, and the homemade aoli is gorgeous. It is worth the effort to make your own – and it really is easy.


  • 1.5 kg baby potatoes
  • 125 g pepperoni
  • 2/3 c well drained sun dried tomatoes
  • 4 T pine nuts, toasted

Boil the potatoes until just cooked and cut into large chunks. Cut pepperoni into thin slivers and dice the tomatoes. Gently mix all ingredients together.

Basil Aoli

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 c grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil.

Beat egg yolks, garlic and juice in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in the oil, initially a few drops at a time.  Once you’ve added about 1/3 of the oil, you can add the remainder in a fine stream as you beat the mixture. Stir in the basil.

Adapted from Salads / Australian Women’s Weekly. Sydney: AWW Home Library, 1992.


Kale Pesto Dip


Some time ago my dad, Prof, challenged me to find a blog worthy recipe for kale.  He loves kale. He raves about its health benefits and he grows a lot of it. It is one of the staple vegetables in his diet. He also knows that I haven’t been such an avid fan. I often find it is bitter and has a strong aftertaste, so I am sure he was snickering to himself and thinking I would fail!  But, in accepting the challenge I set out to investigate what could be done with this rugged little green leaf. 

The first thing I learned on my kale discovery adventure was that it isn’t readily available in the shops nearby, and when I do find it it is often a bit sad and tired. The second thing that I learned is that kale needs to cook for much longer than spinach – those leaves are pretty tough. The third thing that I learned is that when cooked in the right way, I can actually enjoy this healthy green vegetable.  The recipe below is SO good, which means that I met the challenge and won – but Prof has forced me to change my views, so it’s a win for him too! Thanks Dad!

The recipe here was inspired by one I found on the mamacino blog: (lovely blog  with some delicious recipes – worth a look).



  • bunch of kale, washed, de-stemmed and lightly steamed
  • 1/2 c fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 1/2 c roasted cashews
  • 1/4 c grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated

Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor and blend. Scrape the sides.  Add the oil in a thin stream as you continue to blend until smooth.  You can keep for up to a week in the fridge.  It has the same versatile uses as a traditional basil pesto.  It’s especially tasty in soup!


  • 4 T kale pesto
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 c Greek style yoghurt

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve with chopped raw vegetables, corn chips, or crisp breads.  Shown served with Roasted Tomato and Capsicum Salsa (




Roasted Tomato and Capsicum Salsa


Salsa is one of my favourite dips.  It is a great spring time dip – so fresh and light. It is also fabulously versatile because you can use it as an accompaniment to so many dishes.


  • 6 large tomatores
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 T finely diced onions
  • 2 stalk celery finely diced
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 c fresh coriander, chopped
  • olive oil

Brush oven tray with oil and preheat oven to 200C. Chop tomatoes and capscums into quarters, and peel and slice the garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft.  Chop tomatoes and capsicum into small chunks.  Finely chop garlic.

Place 0nion and celery in large saucepan and saute in 1 T olive oil until cooked through.  Reduce heat to low, and add cumin and enough water to keep ingredients from sticking to the pan.   Add tomato mix to pan. Add coriander to the pan and cook until heated through.  Remove from heat.

Once cool, serve with plain corn chips or chopped vegetables (cauliflower is especially good).

Honey Cakes


A friend has passed and it is a terribly horribly sad thing.

Today food is a comfort. Lots of good comfort food is sweet – and in these moments honey seems to work best.

These cakes are sweet and moist and delicious.


  • 4 T honey
  • 2/3 c self raising flour
  • 1/3 c almond meal
  • 1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t bicarb soda
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 t grated lemon rind
  • 1 egg. lightly beaten
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 1/3 c Greek style yoghurt

Preheat oven to180C.

Spray 4 ramekins or a 4 cake flexible teflon tray (my preference) with oil. Place one tablespoon of honey in the base for each cake. Mix flour, almond meal, sugar, nutmeg, soda and lemon rind in medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, yoghurt and butter together.  Stir into dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Cook for 20 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean.

Invert on serving plates and serve with honey sweetened whipped cream.

Date Cornflake Cookies


Cornflakes are a rarity in our house.  Cereal is generally a pretty boring affair, with high-fibre and low sugar being the key factors for choosing.  Lots of bran and oats – yum.  So cornflakes are only bought as a rare treat.  It says a lot about my kids’ diet though that they never even think to ask for things like Coco Pops or Fruit Loops!  When we do have some cornflakes about, I will often make some cookies with them.

These cookies have a lovely soft texture on the inside, with bites of chocolate and date sweetness, and a crunchy outside.


  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 c raw sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c plain flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 c dried dates, chopped
  • 1 c dark chocolate bits
  • cornflakes

Line baking trays with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 180C.

Beat butter, sugars and vanilla together until batter is light and fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time and beat until well mixed. Mix baking powder with flour, and add to egg batter in batches, mixing well with each addition.  Add dates and choc bits and mix until well combined.

Roll into teaspoon sized balls and roll in cornflakes, pressing them into the dough.  Place on baking tray with room for them to spread.

Cook for about 10 minutes to until just set.  Leave to cool fully on trays.

Hand-moulded Sushi


Sunday was Father’s Day.  Father’s Day means that Wal got woken up nice and early by his two loving kids. They jumped up and down on him, read him stories and gave him lots of cuddles. I spent that time at the other end of the house reading a book – really enjoying the attention being poured upon Dad.

I wasn’t surprised when Wal suggested a trip to the fish markets to buy some sushimi.  I decided to treat him to some sushi for a bit of a change.

A big platter of sushi, a glass of white wine, and a sunny backyard – perfect Father’s Dad afternoon.

Recipe Steps


  • 2 c prepared sushi rice
  • 225 g sashimi tuna, sliced thinly (it it crucial that you buy only the freshest sashimi grade fish)
  • 2 t wasabi
  • 1/2 c prepared dipping sauce
  • medium bowl with cold water with 1 T rice vinegar

Sushi Vinegar

  • 1/2 c rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt

Mix ingredients together and set aside until required.

Dipping sauce

  • 1/2 c light soy sauce
  • 1/2 t sesame oil
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest
  • 5 cm length spring onion, very finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together and set aside until required.

Sushi rice

I generally use only Australian produced rice, and so the sushi rice I use is SunRice Japanese-style sushi rice. Cook rice as per instructions (I use the absorption method).

Once cooked, spread rice in a large flat bottomed non-metal bowl. Using a paddle or spatula slice through the rice repeatedly to break up the clumps and to make it cool more quickly. As you do this, gradually add sushi vinegar to the rice. You may not need all the vinegar, you don’t want the rice to become too wet or mushy.

Moulding the sushi

Once the rice is cooled and ready you need to mould it into shape.

Dip your fingers into the water bowl and shake off the excess water. Pick up about a tablespoon of rice and gently squeeze into a rectangular shape with rounded edges. Next, pick up a slice of fish, and gently press onto the rice. The rice is very sticky so the fish will stay in place. If desired you can spread a small amount of wasabi along the centre of the fish before pressing it, wasabi side down, onto the rice. Otherwise, you can have wasabi on the plate to add as the sushi is eaten.

Serve on one large communal platter, or on individual platters, with wasabi and a small bowl of dipping sauce on the side.

Sushi preparation adapted from Cooking Class Japanese / Australian Women’s Weekly. Sydney: Network Distribution Co., c2001.