When your dad “unknowingly” buys peaches thinking that they’re nectarines, and then having to worry about what to do with 5 ripe peaches on your fruit basket, what do you do?
Why, make peach melba, of course! (I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe)
Nigella Lawson’s Peach Melba
2 1/2 cups water
5 peaches, halved and de-stoned
2 cups white sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1. Put water, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla essence in a shallow pan. Bring to boil until sugar dissolves, then reduce for about 5 minutes.
2. Put the peaches in the pan, sliced side down. Turn over after 2-3 minutes (depending on how ripe they are). Check if the peaches are cooked by piercing the exposed flesh with knife. If soft, then take them out of the pan and into a plate to cool.
3. Once cooled, peel the skin off. Serve with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.
Halved and de-stoned
And… 15 minutes later, skinned and blushing in its wonderful, sugary vanilla syrup
Now all I need is vanilla ice cream and a sweet, tangy raspberry syrup. Mmmm…
Oftentimes, when a recipe is so good and things work out well between you and “it” from day one, there’s no reason for you to change it, tweak it, or make it your own. Leave the recipe as it is and enjoy its perfection, and you and “it” will have a perfect, happy, harmonious life together.
That is the case with Nigella Lawson’s trustful vanilla cupcake recipe.
The fundamentals of the recipe is just sheer genius: why bother with tedious, painstainkingly hard-to-remember recipes when you can have a simple step-by-step recipe as simple as 1 2 3?
I think I’ve posted the recipe before but I’ll do it again just for repetitions sake. Because I’m OC like that.
Nigella Lawson’s Vanilla Cupcakes (as babycakes!)
125g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsps milk
1 tsp vanilla essence (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 deg C. Line muffin tray with paper cases.
2. Mix all ingredients together except for milk. Once well combined, pulse while adding milk.
3. Divide into muffin tray and bake for 20-23 mins. Cool before frosting.
Simple, divine, and utterly delicious!
NB. The buttercream frosting started melting because it was such a hot day!! But nevertheless… it still tasted good!
Oh, and just another photo of a take away cake from the party. It’s a chocolate mousse cake that I enjoyed (more like devoured ha ha ha) with fresh strawberries as soon as I got home. Yum! I love birthday parties, and I love birthday cakes!
For NYE, we decided to do the unthinkable – secure a spot in Milson’s Point and wait for the countdown. In the 5 years I’ve been living in Sydney, this is the first time I’ve been brave enough to go to the city and mingle with the millions of people to watch the fireworks. And boy was it all worth it! – the long 10 hour wait (we were there from 2pm!), the glare of the sun (I got a nice tan though so no need to go to the beach now!), the back and butt pain from sitting down in a flat, hard ground, and the tedious, hard work of commuting home along with millions and millions of people.
But, this photo of the Bridge taken by the genius that is my good friend, Miss Pia Villarama says it all. We had an awesome vantage point in Bradfield Park, the fireworks were just spectacular, I am so proud of my awesome city, I thank God everyday for the beauty of all that He has created, and I wouldn’t want the NYE to go any other way – IT WAS THE BEST!!!
So that the 3 day long weekend holiday doesn’t go to waste, the boy’s family decided to take a trip to the Hunter Valley – the parents, the boy, his sister, her bestfriend, and me. It was a fun, relaxing weekend, I tell you! Where there’s no set itinerary, no buses, trains, or taxis to catch, no time restraints, and where the food, wine, and great company overflowed.
We went to 4 wineries – Tempus Two, McGuigan, Bluetongue Brewery, and Oakvale – and a few specialty shops, including the Hunter Valley Gardens and the Hunter Valley Chocolate Factory.
The wine was fantastic, the selection of cheeses, dips, infused oils, and jams were endless, and I was just in foodie heaven! I instantly went straight to the whites and tasted the usual favourites: Riesling, Semillon Sav Blanc, Chardonnay, Moscato, and the uber sweet Botrytis Semillon dessert wines. The boy and I bought about 6 bottles between us two – 2 Rieslings, a Chardonnay, a Moscato, a Pinot Gris, and a Botrytis Semillon. He also got himself a 6 pack Bluetongue Traditional Pilsener from the Bluetongue Brewery… after trying out their 6 sampler paddle.
Accommodation, travel, and food were paid for by the boy’s parents, so I’m really grateful. They just wanted the family to get together for a trip and I am so glad to be part of it.
I brought home some local products, including quince paste, brie, lavosh crackers, and a couple of bottles of wine. I also tasted one of the best garlic infused extra virgin olive oil, and I am definitely getting a bottle as soon as I see one in Myer or the Food Hall in David Jones.
I love these small trips to discover different pockets of Australia. Everytime I see a different side of this country I now call home, I find a renewed sense of gratitude to the country that adopted me, and a genuine feeling of wonder and amazement at the beauty of this land. Hurray for more trips to more beautiful places in Australia!
My wish came trueeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! It’s the boyfriend’s Christmas gift!
Ok, it may not be a Kitchenaid, but it’s the red mixer that I want to sit on my kitchen benchtop.
Sunbeam Cafe Series Mixmaster!!!!!
Oh just think of all the good times you, my dear mixer, and I will have!!!
Look at the different mix speeds
No more using of an el cheapo $20 hand held mixer that’s about to break down and retire! No more fidgeting around trying to add ingredients to a bowl and pulsing or mixing it at the same time!
Ooohhh I’m sooo excited! :) I love my boy haha!
Christmas day lunch cupcakes, babycakes, and cake – what a huge baking escapade!
Festive vanilla cupcakes with buttercream
Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream (makes 12 cupcakes)
125g self raising flour, sifted
125g castor sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C. Line muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Put all ingredients except for the milk in a bowl, food processor, or mixer. Mix until smooth.
3. Pulse the batter while pouring milk, until you get a smooth consistency.
4. Evenly divide batter into paper cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
5. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then cool on rack.
I used the vanilla buttercream recipe from here.
Now for the coconut babycakes, I used the same Nigella Lawson cupcake recipe, but substituted the vanilla extract with coconut extract (or 1 tbsp coconut essence) and added about 1/2 cup desiccated coconut. The lemon cream cheese frosting work very well with the babycakes – they actually tasted like coconut macaroons! Recipe for cream cheese frosting found here.
And lastly, the piece de resistance… I wanted to make something more adult-y and countryside-esque but still party-worthy. I went foodblog hopping for hours and hours (while at work! woops!) to find an easy to do cake but still tastes great until…
Chamomile and Orange Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting and orange glace
I got the idea and the recipe from Couture Cupcakes. Hers were cupcakes, and while I wanted to keep the cupcakes uniformed throughout the party, I felt that a cake was calling out to me – so the adults can enjoy a nice slice of cake with tea or coffee while watching the kids play and eat their babycakes. Hehe. I dunno… just some OC stuff in my head I have to follow.
I used a normal lemon cream cheese frosting again for this, to echo the zesty citrus flavours of the cake. And I topped the cake with some candied orange peel that I read about here. They were a perfect combination!!!
Chamomile and Orange Carrot Cake (makes 8 big slices or 16 skinny ones)
1/2 cup orange pulp (or, just use juice of 1 orange)
1 tsp orange zest
2-3 medium carrots, coarsley grated
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk to 1 tsp vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 tsp salt
contents of 2-3 chamomile tea bags
- Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C. Line muffin tray with paper cases, or a round 8″ springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl, put orange pulp (or juice), carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, brown sugar, orange zest, and vegetable oil together. Whisk together until combined.
- In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, salt, and chamomile tea.
- Fold in flour mixture to the carrot batter, in 2 batches.
- Evenly divide batter into muffin tray or cake tin. Bake for 20-23 minutes for the cupcakes, 35-40 minutes for the cake (or until skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean).
- Let stand for about 5 minutes before removing from tin. Cool and frost with frosting.
Orange Candied Peel
1 tbsp salt
2 cups of sugar – 1 cup normal white sugar, 1 cup castor sugar
- Peel the oranges then cut into very skinny julienne pieces.
- Soak the orange peel in 1 cup of water and salt. Let stand overnight.
- Drain and rinse the orange peel.
- In a saucepan, boil the orange peel with 1 cup of water, then drain. Repeat the process 3 times to remove the bitterness of the skins.
- Back to the saucepan again, and boil the orange peel with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white sugar. Let the sugar melt and dissolve in the water, and remove from heat just as soon as the water has evaporated and the sugar has turned into a sticky glaze over the peel. Note be mindful of the saucepan because at this stage the oranges will burn in a matter of seconds if left on the heat for too long because the sugar burns easily.
- Roll glazed orange peel on castor sugar. Refrigerate for about 1 hour so they harden, and use as topping on cakes or cupcakes.
Cakes as Christmas presents for a few family friends. I did a massive 2 cake baking adventure on Saturday night – and continued on until about 1am, then did the frosting the next day. I loved it! I just enjoy the process of baking, of sifting flour and cocoa powder, of creating something spectacular and delicious out of raw ingredients.
First of the cakes is the Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies from Donna Hay’s Chocolate book
Chocolate Cheesecake Brownie (Makes approximately 16 slices)
185g butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
285g cream cheese, softened and chopped
4 1/2 tbsps caster sugar
1. Preheat oven to 160 dec C. Line a 20cm (8in) tin with non-stick baking paper.
2. Mix butter, cocoa, sugar, eggs and flour together until smooth. Pour on prepared tin.
3. On a separate bowl, process cream cheese, sugar, and eggs until smooth.
4. Now, I didn’t follow the recipe which said to put spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and swirl with a butter knife. I just placed the whole motherload of cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate and popped it in the oven.
5. Bake for 45-50 minute. Cool in tin.
The second cake is a good old Banana cake with dessicated coconut, topped with lemon cream cheese frosting
Banana and Coconut Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (serves 10 slices, or 14 cupcakes)
Recipe from Exclusively Food
125g butter, softened (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 tsp salt)
280g very ripe, mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup dessicated coconut (this is optional – only my addition to the recipe)
1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C. Grease and line a 22cm pan or line a muffin tin with cupcake pans.
2. Mix butter, sugar, banana, vanilla and eggs until well blended.
3. Add buttermilk and pulse to combine.
4. Sift flour, salt (if using), and bicarbonate of soda. Add to the banana batter and mix well.
5. Fold in coconut.
6. Pour onto baking tin or muffin tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes if using a baking tin, or 25-30 minutes if using a muffin tin.
7. Leave cake to cool before icing with cream cheese frosting.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
90g cream cheese, softened
45g butter, softened
210g icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1. Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.
2. Add sugar in batches and beat well.
3. Add lemon juice and beat until well combined, and frost cake.
- The bananas I used were about 1 week old that I kept frozen in the freezer. They made the cake really, really, REALLY sweet because they were just ripe to perfection. I would recommend using less sugar if the bananas are the sweetest kind – the cake turned out sweeter than what I wanted it to be (but the tasters were all two thumbs up with the sweetness, so I’m happy).
- If using a muffin tin, the cream cheese frosting might not be enough. So just add in another 1/2 of the quantities of all the ingredients of the cream cheese frosting recipe.
- I topped the banana cake with some dessicated coconut for added taste and texture.
I sliced the brownies into little rectangles and semi-wrapped them in baking paper for some added presentation, and then plated them up on these lovely serving plates mum and I bought from Victoria’s Basement. They were 80% off the original price, so they were perfect as serving platters/Christmas presents!
And then to the cellophane wrap and green and red ribbons they went…
And off they went to the family friends’ houses to become afternoon tea.