Raspberry lemon loaf

Posted on: November 19th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

For some reason Beans doesn’t like loaves. It’s just the name loaf that he doesn’t like, not the actual baked goodness, so I have to call everything cake. But a loaf is not a cake.  A loaf is something you can eat for breakfast if you want, or as afternoon tea, or for dessert. I feel like a loaf is more versatile than a cake, at least that’s what I tell myself as I eat a slab for breakfast!

In any case, I’d been wanting to make this one ever since I saw it posted on one of my favorite blogs – A splash of vanilla from a few years ago.  I’ve made it lots since then. What sold me on this particular loaf was the combination of both raspberries AND lemon.  My two favorite treat ingredients.  (For those who don’t know – I can’t eat chocolate – sad but true!) I’ve only modified Emma’s recipe a little, but it works wonderfully for me so here it is.

  • 1 3/4 c all purpose white flour (you can substitute 1/2 c of wholemeal if you like)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c Greek yogurt or buttermilk (if using 1/2 cup wholemeal flour, you might need to add a tablespoon more)
  • 1/4 c grapeseed oil (or melted and cooled unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • Grated zest from one medium lemon
  • 1 c raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease and line a loaf tin with butter and baking paper.  I just use a strip of baking paper along the base and up the short sides of the pan.

In a large bowl sift the flour(s), baking powder and baking soda and then mix in the sugar and salt.  Gently stir through raspberries to coat with the flour mixture using a wooden spoon.

In another bowl or jug whisk together the yogurt, vanilla, oil, eggs, and lemon zest.  Add your wet ingredients to the flour mixture and fold until just combined.

Spoon into prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is light golden.

Cool in the pan for 8 minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Thanks to Emma for the original recipe.

Song for this recipe:

“Sweet home Chicago” – Robert Johnson Sweet Home Chicago - Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings

I love blues.  Especially Robert Johnson.  I tend to listen to him a lot on Sundays – it makes it feel more like Sunday for some reason.  I wish I had a porch to rock a chair on, I would spend the day eating fresh baked cake and spiked lemonade, instead of cleaning windows and sweeping twice a day after a shedding dog. This Sunday listen to a little of your favourite old blues (some more I love are Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, Howlin’ Wolf or Skip James) close your eyes for a minute or two and dream…

Swedish apple cake

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by admin 5 Comments

There are some chefs/bakers/cooks who are so solid in their methods that you know even before trying one of their recipes that it’s going to be good.  For me one of those people is baking with Dorie Greenspan.  Obviously I am not the only one who agrees, because ‘Tuesdays with Dorie’ is a massively popular online bake-along with tons of participants from all over the world.


In any case, after an apple filled few weeks, I had just a couple more to use up (they were delicious baked, but not so on their own).  This Swedish apple cake is quite thin, not huge portions, but let me tell you it is literally the best little cake I have ever made.  It was so popular the first time round – and so easy I might add – I made it again, and again etc.  It is all in the consistency and texture.  It has a light crispiness around the outside and the inside is light, moist and bit chewy. It really is my no-fail, ready to bake in 10 minutes, favourite recipe.   I do sometimes use other fruits.  Peaches and plums work well and so do berries.

  • 3/4 c + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1 extra-large egg or 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 115 g (1 stick/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 to 1 1/2 apples (any kind) peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC), Butter a 9 in (22cm) deep dish pie plate or similar size cake tin – or you can use a cast iron skillet if you like.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In another larger bowl use the same whisk and beat the egg(s) and sugar together until thick and pale, then mix in the vanilla and then the melted butter.  This mixture should be smooth and shiny.

Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet, but don’t overmix.  Scrape the batter into the prepared tin.  Top with the apples, but do leave some space between the apples as Dorie says – “so the batter can puff up between the wedges – it looks much nicer with the puffs.”

Pop the cake into the oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a knife or skewer inserted into the middle, comes out clean.  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and leave for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I find it’s best eaten on the same day, but not hot out of the oven.  It is still delicious the second or even third day (cooled and covered), but I guarantee you won’t have it last that long!

This recipe is slightly modified from Dorie Greenspan, but is originally from her friend Ann Brettingen.

Song for this recipe:

“Shortie” Hannah Georgas Shortie - Hannah Georgas

Hannah Georgas has a lovely new second album out by the same name.  She’s from Vancouver, BC and is a really great mix of styles, I find her quite enjoyable. She is a little bit pop, a little bit indie, bit electronica, not too overdone, with a charming voice.  She probably hates being compared to countrywoman Feist, but the two have some similarities for sure.  Enjoy while you eat cake!

Glazed lemon almond cookies

Posted on: September 15th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

It’s not often that I have spare almond meal around the house.  Usually the expensive delicious flour is gone in 60 seconds around here.  But I bought a massive bag for a bargain, so I’ve been using it a lot.  These cookies are a lot like lemony shortbread, the almond meal makes them a hint nutty and makes the texture slightly grainier, but nicely so.  They’re pretty quick and I find a glaze really takes a cookie to the next level.

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c almond meal
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c butter at room temperature

Combine the dry ingredients- the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt, then add the lemon zest and juice, mix well.  The lemon zest will rub into the dry ingredients and really make everything nice and lemony.  Add the butter and egg and mix until it forms a smooth dough.  But not too much mixing.  Roll the dough out into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour. (Please note – sometimes when I make this dough, it’s a little sticky, I think it depends on how moist the almond meal is – so you can add a Tbsp more flour if this happens)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a baking tray.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to a nice 1/4 inch, just over 1/2 cm. Thickish is nice, I find.  Cut out all the dough into whatever shape cookie cutter you have. At this point I like to put the whole tray of cut cookies into the freezer for just a couple minutes, to chill everything again after working the dough for cutting. Then pop into the oven for 12 – 15 minutes.  (Mine usually take closer to 15).

For the glaze:

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c powdered/icing sugar

Mix these two together until nice and smooth.  When the cookies are totally cool, ice using the back of a spoon. We eat them right away, but the glaze should set after about 15 minutes.

Song for this recipe:

“Forget” Lianne La Havas Forget - Is Your Love Big Enough? (Deluxe Edition)

Lianne La Havas is a wonderful young singer from the UK, her new album is called Is your love big enough? I think it’s really a great listen.  I guess she sounds a little like bits of Corine Baily Ray, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Laura Marling or even a little Nina Simone.  Anyway you get the idea.  Seems like there are many many lovely solo girls singing beautiful songs these days.  I like Lianne though, because she’s a little quirky and you can have a little dance to some of her songs too. Plus on a side note –   Forget is my favourite song on the album.

1 banana, banana bread

Posted on: August 21st, 2012 by admin 2 Comments

This week I ate some delicious banana bread and I instantly decided I wanted to make my own.  Seeing as temperatures have been cooling down, I was excited to be able to turn on the oven!  I have a few great recipes for banana breads, but I realized I only had one lonely banana in the house.  So if this ever happens to you – here’s a wonderful recipe for a 1 banana banana bread.

  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c caster sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 c buttermilk (or a combination of plain yogurt or sour cream and milk)
  • (*you can also make a buttermilk substitute – directions below)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • (you can add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts too)

Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Lightly grease a loaf pan.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda.

In another bowl mix together the melted butter and the buttermilk (or substitute). Add egg and stir until well combined, then add banana and vanilla and again stir until well combined. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry mixing until just incorporated. Not too much.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 min, then allow to finish cooling on rack.

Things to note about this banana bread – it’s not a tall loaf.  In fact I love it for this reason.  It cooks evenly, stays nice and moist, no burning the edges with raw insides, or over dryness from longer cooking.  It really  is a wonderful cake.  I was also worried one banana might not be banana-y enough, but no fear, the flavour is everything you want it to be!

*You can make your own buttermilk using milk and lemon juice.  For this recipe 1/3 c milk add 1/4 tsp lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes then use as normal.

Adapted from  theFauxMarthas recipe.

Song for this recipe:

“Caress your soul” – Sticky fingers Caress Your Soul - Caress Your Soul - Single

Sticky Fingers are a Sydney based band who apparently did quite a nutty gig at the Woodford festival beginning of 2012.  This is their latest single off and album that should come out early 2013.  The album will apparently be a unique collection of psychotic surfdub love songs.  I heard someone say of the band  ”sticky fingers some how managed to magically combine whimsical English folk, West Coast psychedelia, and classic dub reggae and make it all work”  I’ll wait for the full album to be the judge, but until then I am enjoying this song very much, so I’m hopeful for the rest.

Squid ink pasta and easy bolognese

Posted on: August 14th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

I’ve always loved squid ink pasta.  Black food is just kind of bizarre and fun. Really this pasta - Tagliatelle al nero di seppia – is a delightful change from everyday golden pasta.  If you like making your own pasta (mmm) you can usually buy squid ink from decent fish mongers or some specialty stores (I included a great site with tips for using squid ink below).  Initially I always thought the color was mainly for effect – to impress guests at dinner parties and such, but actually squid ink has a subtle briny flavor that pairs well with seafood, ideally squid. Nevertheless it will impress your guests and I like the flavor with regular bolognese too.  I didn’t make my pasta, but bought mine dried, it’s not really expensive either.

Prepare pasta as your packet informs.  It’s much the same as regular tagliatelle. Or make your own!

Easy Bolognese

There are lots of bolognese versions, this particular recipe is really simple to make and incredibly tasty.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200 g mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 1 x 400 g tin tomatoes (or thereabouts)
  • (I will sometime use half a tin and 2 big fresh tomatoes, finely diced)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Saute onions until soft. Add garlic and beef mince and brown over high heat, stirring constantly to break up the mince, then add the mushrooms and cook for another couple of minutes on high. Add tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, herbs and seasonings. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes until lots of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick.

Spoon bolognese over top of your cooked pasta and sprinkle generously with shaved or grated parmesan cheese and parsley if you have it.  Serve with salad, maybe garlic bread and red wine!

If you would like to make your own pasta, there’s a wonderful recipe here as well as great tips for working with squid ink.

Song for this recipe:

“Sea legs” The Shins Sea Legs - Wincing the Night Away

The Shins album, Wincing the night away, it still one of my favorites.  They recently released a new one – Port of Morrow, which is proving to be equally comprehensive, even with a band member switch-up.  The American indie rock band is lead by James Mercer who has an impressive talent for writing and singing.  I alway enjoy an entire Shins album, which is a big plus now a-days, when people tend to buy songs more than whole albums.  I like track ten as much as 1, which is a great accomplishment in my book.  I think you should listen to as many ‘sea’ songs as you can while eating squid ink pasta, it makes you feel like you’re on holidays, preferably in Italy.

Puffy pancakes

Posted on: August 5th, 2012 by admin 3 Comments

I love puffy pancakes!  They were my dream breakfast when I was young, but we always had thinner ones at my house.  Which I must say were equally tasty, but I craved the fluffy ones.  Beans does not eat pancakes, so we never used to make them, until we discovered he loves making them and I love having them made for me!!  Ha win win.  This is his recipe – I don’t know how he got it so right, but he makes these for me often on Sunday mornings. What a champ.  You will love them as much as me I’m sure.

  • 1 c flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 egg

Makes enough for 2 people.

Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt).  I like to mix the egg and milk together next, then add the wet to the dry.  Mix thoroughly so that there are no floury lumps.  This is quite a thick mixture, so don’t be alarmed or add more milk.

Heat a non stick frying pan or skillet to medium low heat.  This is around mark 3 on my stove-top if that helps.  You don’t want it too hot, because they’re thick, they need to cook a little slower so that there’s no uncooked centre.

Spoon big spoonfuls into the pan and let cook for about a minute.  Flip when there are lots of bubbles on the surface.  Check your first one by tearing it in half to make sure the middle has cooked through.  Beans likes to pour a little maple syrup into the pan and re-cook/caramelize the pancakes at the end.

We always serve ours with bacon, fresh fruit and real maple syrup, but you can use whatever you like!  Lemon and sugar is another favourite, or like Dad always made them, sprinkled with ground hazelnuts and honey.

Song for this recipe:

“Specialty” – The Breakfast Club Specialty - Breakfast Club

Classic one hit wonders from the mid ’80′s.  I don’t know why the Breakfast Club wasn’t more successful?  They had a lot going for them.  Although they performed for over a decade together, there was only one album.  The band features 2 of Madonnas ex’s, in fact, she was drummer for a while, before leaving to try and take over the world. Despite having a few big hits, they disbanded right after the album was released.  At least we have the one – full of classic 80′s pop beats and synths, Sunday morning fun.

Infused liquor

Posted on: July 14th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

Infused liquor is such a wonderful thing, summer or winter.  You can drink it straight – to taste the flavours you steep in, or use it in cocktails.  It’s summer here so when NYCase sent me through some new recipes for infusions to try, I couldn’t wait to get started.  I tried a version of her cucumber gin first, because it’s so hot right now and we always love a Pimm’s cup or a Cucumber gimlet.

Here’s the ratio for steeping fruits, herbs or spices:

1 litre of liquor will need about 1 cup of cut fruit, 1/2 a cup of fresh chopped herbs, and about 3 tablespoons of dried spices.

Step 1:

Choose your liquor of choice. Most common is vodka but it might also be nice to try a spiced rum. If you are nervous about using a nice bottle of liquor start with something cheaper until you have perfected your technique.

Step 2:

Make a sample of what you are trying to achieve in a small cup. Add cut fruits or spices to a shot of liquor and leave covered for about half an hour. Once you try it you can adjust the ingredients or amounts as desired.  Remember the flavours will be stronger after a couple days.

Step 3:

Wash and cut fruit or herbs. Chunks of fruit will do fine. Berries can either be whole or cut to release flavour. Tear herbs, cut vanilla bean lengthwise and most other spices can be used whole. Fresh ingredients yield the best results. Add to an air tight jar (mason jars work well) and fill it with liquor.

Step 4:

Leave in a room temperature, dark place for up to a week (under the sink works well). Intense flavours such as peppercorn and lemons should only need about 2-3 days to steep. More delicate flavours like watermelon, berries and ginger might need up to a week. Don’t be afraid to taste test. Shake the jar at least once a day if you get the chance.

Step 5:

Strain the fruit, herbs or spices from the liquor through cheese cloth or a coffee filter. And voila! Drink and be merry :)

Some recipes to try include:

  • Watermelon and mint vodka
  • Lemongrass and cucumber gin
  • Pear and ginger bourbon
  • Rosemary vodka
  • Garlic and basil vodka (perfect for a bloody mary)
  • Cranberry and cinnamon rum
  • Clove and orange peel rum
  • Vanilla bean and blueberry vodka

Use your creativity and personal tastes to create a unique base for cocktails or simply a special treat after a long night in the kitchen.

Our batch was cucumber, basil and lemon steeped gin.  It is so delicious we used it up in cocktails so as not to drink it so fast straight.  We made cocktails with the infused liquor and soda water, as well as a couple fresh basil leaves, cucumber and lemon slices.

Now under the sink is pomegranate and rose petal vodka – we’ll let you know how it goes!

Pottery barn mason jar dispensers

Song for this recipe:

“Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear Two Weeks - Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear have a new album coming out in September I believe.  The single just released is pretty good – Sleeping Ute.  I hope they mean ute in the proper sense.  Like going for a spin in my ute this avo.  Personally I like Grizzly Bear a lot.  This song is probably their most well known, but their earlier album is also a great listen.  I guess they’re alternative music, if you have to categorize – experimental American band, I play the album Veckatimest quite loudly and no one ever complains so it must be good.