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Walnut and date cake with Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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I made a birthday cake for a good friend of mine, she isn’t a chocolate person but loves caramel so my inspiration for the cake was finding something that went well with Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

For the icing, I use this recipe by Made From Scratch http://madefromscratch.co.nz/banana-layer-cake-with-salted-caramel-buttercream/

The cake is altered from a recipe by The AWW

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Ingredients

125 gm butter softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1 cup plain flour

1 cup self raising flour

1 1/4 cups of plain yogurt

1/2 chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, grease and line a 20 cm cake tin. Mix together the dates, walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together with a electric beater until fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in both flours and yogurt. Fold through the date mixture and pour into your line tin. Smooth the top.

Bake for about 1 hour, then cool in tin for 10 mins before turning out.

For this cake, I sliced it in half then spread a layer of caramel then caramel buttercream through the middle. I then iced it,and piped the top and finished with an extra drizzle of caramel. 

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T2 Pomegranate and Berry Jelly

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I am still on the hunt for healthy desserts, and I have so many beautiful moulds and tins that I thought jelly was a good option. You could use any fruit/berry tea that you like but it needs to be pretty strong for the flavour to come through.

Jelly 1

Ingredients
1 litre of fruit/berry tea. I used T2 Tea Pumping Pomegranate. Brew according to the instructions for a strong flavour
2 cups of fresh mixed berries
A few drops of strawberry essence
4 gold gelatin leaves
Fresh berries and cream to serve

Jelly 2

Method
Brew the tea according to instructions, spray or wipe the inside of a jelly mould with a neutral oil (I use canola)
Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for around 5 minutes. Chop up the fresh berries and put in the bottom of the mould. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin leaves and stir through the hot tea until combined. Pour over the fruit in the mould and leave to set until firm (I left mine over night)
When you are ready to serve, dunk the mould in hot water for 5 seconds. Serve with fresh berries and cream

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Coconut berry Friands

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I have altered an AWW recipe to make these delicious gluten-free Friands. The coconut flour adds a great taste as well as being a substitute for normal flour
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Ingredients
3 egg whites
90 gms unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
3/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup frozen berries

Friands 2
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease a 12 hole friand (or muffin) tin.
Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold in butter, almond meal, sugar, baking powder and coconut flour. Gently fold in berries then spoon into friand tins.
Bake friands for around 20 minutes, cool in pan for 5 mins then turn out onto a rack. Dust with icing sugar once cooled.
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Gingernut biscuits – two ways

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This basic gingernut recipe is really lovely. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the tooth breaking crunch of the supermarket version (they simply are the best dunking biscuits!) but it is still super yummy.

I could easily eat a whole tray of these on their own, but instead I used the biscuits for two difference desserts.

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Basic biscuit dough
INGREDIENTS

200g butter, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup golden syrup
3 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

METHOD
MAKES 24
Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. In a small saucepan, combine butter, sugar and golden syrup. Stir over a low heat until melted and combined. Transfer to a large bowl.
Using an electric mixture, beat mixture until light and fluffy. Allow to cool slightly. Sift flour, spices and soda together. Fold into butter mixture until well combined.
Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Arrange on trays, allowing a little space between each. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Ice-Cream Sandwiches
Serves 4
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8 Giant ginger biscuits (made with the recipe above)
Ice-cream of your choice. I made Whiskey, caramel ice-cream by using this recipe https://afleetingaffair.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/nana-dulcies-ice-cream/ but I used 2 tablespoons of whiskey instead of the Cointreau, and stirred through homemade caramel sauce.

Scope the ice-cream into the biscuits, squash together and eat before all the ice-cream drips down your arm!

Layered Lemoncurd cheese cake

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Gingernut biscuits as above
1 small bottle of cream
1 tub (250 gms) of cream cheese
The juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup icing sugar
Lemon curd https://afleetingaffair.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/lemon-curd/
Strawberries for garnish

Method
Whip the cream cheese in a small bowl until smooth. Add the lemon juice and sugar and mix again. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks. Fold through 2/3rds of the cream into the cream cheese mix and set aside.
Crumble some of the gingernuts into the bottom of a glass or small jar (you want to be able to see the layers) add a layer of lemon curd and smooth, add some of the cream cheese mix. Repeat the layers finishing with a final layer of plain cream. Crumble a few crumbs on the top, and place the strawberry.

Indian slow cooker Lamb shanks

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These are so easy and delicious with very few ingredients. Perfect for those chilly week nights.
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Serves 4
Ingredients
4 decent size lamb shanks
1 jar of Rogan Josh or Tikka Masala sauce (I use Patak’s)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 Onion diced
2 cups of pumpkin chopped into cubes
2 cups of brown rice
2 cups of green beans
2 tsp of sesame seeds

Method
Put the lamb shanks, jar of sauce, tomatoes, onion and pumpkin in the slow cooker and mix. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet
Steam the green beans (I just put them in the microwave with 1/4 cup of water for 3 minutes)
Sprinkle the beans with sesame seeds and serve on top of the rice with the lamb shanks and a ladleful of sauce and pumpkin.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

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I know this looks like a huge list of ingredients but many of the spices you will have in the pantry, and if not, just leave them out. The method is quite simple, and the chicken could always be cooked ahead of time if you wanted to make it for a larger group.
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Serves 4
Ingredients
For the chicken
500 gms boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breast) cut into cubes
½ cup of corn flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion or celery powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil for cooking

For the Rest
1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 thumb size piece of ginger minced
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon HP sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tin of pineapple chunks in natural juice (don’t drain the pineapple, you want the juice as well)
3 carrots peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery chopped
¼ quarter of a cabbage chopped (like you would for coleslaw)
2 packets of udon noodles (I use the trident twin packs)
1 bunch of coriander chopped

Method
Mix the flour and spices (all ingredients in the chicken list except the chicken) together in a bowl, then stir the chicken through the flour. Once the chicken is coated, pour into a sieve over the sink to get rid of the excess flour.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the chicken in batches. In a large saucepan saute the onion, garlic and ginger in a small amount of canola oil. Once the onion has softened add all the ingredients up to (but not including) the cabbage, simmer and reduce until the carrots and celery have softened. Add the cabbage and noodles and stir through. Stir in the chicken then serve in bowls with coriander sprinkled over the top.

Mixed berry white chocolate Blondies

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This is a perfect combination! Berries, white chocolate and cake-e-goodness. This is more a cross between a brownie and a cake (it doesn’t have the chewiness of a normal brownie) but they are still delicious.

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Ingredients

400 gms white chocolate chips
170 gms butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup of raspberry jam

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, line a 25 x 30 cm cake tin (or any rectangular tin)
In a double boiler, melt 325gms of the white chocolate and butter together (I did it straight on the element and it split and didn’t come back together until I added eggs – I live on the wild side 😉 )
Once the two are melted together, take off the heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Once the mixture has cooled a little whisk in 4 eggs and vanilla. Sift in flour and baking powder and mix well.
Pour half the mixture into the tins then sprinkle over the berries and place spoonfuls of jam in the gaps the berries have made. Pour over the remaining mixture (it doesn’t matter if some berries show through) Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips (add a few more if you want to go crazy)
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Bake for 30 mins and then cover with tin foil (as white chocolate can burn) and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan before slicing.
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Five Spice Pork Belly with Pineapple Salsa

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This recipe makes delicious soft rolls or BAP’s. I love pork belly but it is pretty bad for you, so make it a “sometimes” food

Makes 8 rolls
Ingredients

For the pork
1 piece of pork belly (roughly 1.25 kgs) score the skin approximately 1 cm apart, approximately 1 cm deep (or look for a piece that is already scored)
3 teaspoons of 5 spice
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder

For the salsa
1/2 a fresh pineapple
1 red capsicum (finely chopped)
1 spring onion (finely chopped)
1/2 a red onion (finely chopped)
1 loose cup of coriander leaves
The juice of one lime

For the Rolls
8 Long Rolls or Baps
Coleslaw (I use the coleslaw with Wasabi mayo from my previous recipe)

Method
Mix the spices together and rub over both sides of the pork belly and marinate for 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 240C, and put the pork on the rack of a roasting tray skin side up, half fill the roasting tray with water (the pork shouldn’t be in the water, it should be over it) Roast for 30 mins at 240C, and then reduce to 180C, if the skin still isn’t crispy you can increase the heat back to 240 but watch it as it can burn easily. Remove the oven and set aside to rest.
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Chopped the pineapple into 2cm cubes, mix with the rest of the salsa ingredients.

To make the buns, split open a bun and fill with coleslaw, pork and salsa.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Taco’s

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Serves 4-6

This recipe really can be as hard or as easy as you like. There is a lot of talk about pre-packaged products such as sauces and flavouring as many contain extra salt, preservatives etc. I will give you the easy way, and the hard way – you choose what suits.

The Easy way

Ingredients
8 Chicken thighs, or 4 breasts
1 jar of taco sauce – I bought Old El Paso
1 packet of taco seasoning or a few tablespoons of Cajun seasoning
1 tin of tomatoes (salt reduced)
2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce
1 packet of soft shell tacos
1 capsicum (Thinly sliced)
2 spring onions (Thinly sliced)
Half a lettuce (shredded)
A bunch of coriander chopped

Method
Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker, Combine the taco sauce, taco seasoning, tinned tomatoes, and BBQ sauce in a jug and pour over the chicken thighs. Cook on low for 6 hours.
Once cooked, shred the chicken using two forks
Heat the taco’s using the method on the box, put all the ingredients on the table and left people make up their own tacos.

The harder elements

Homemade Taco seasoning
1/4 c Chili Powder
2 Tb ground Cumin
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp ground Roasted Coriander
1 tsp Black Pepper
and 1/2 cup Corn flour
Combine in a small jar and shake

Homemade tomato sauce
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500 gms of ripe tomatoes
One tin of whole peeled tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
salt
pepper
2 red chillies
half a cup of brown sugar
half a cup of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
1 teaspoon of allspice
half a cup of water

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees and add the fresh tomatoes, garlic cloves (whole), thyme and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to a roasting dish. Bake for 1.5 hours until the tomatoes and garlic are soft.

Remove from oven and put the tomatoes, some of the thyme into a saucepan. squeeze the soft garlic out of the skin into the saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients

Bring the saucepan to the boil then lower to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has the consistency you like. Blend with a stick blender if the tomatoes have not broken down as much as you would like.

Pour into glass jars. This will keep in the fridge for around 1 week

Homemade flour Tortillas
Please note, these tortillas are only good for one day, they reheat quite crispy, so are fine as chips, but not soft for taco’s
Ingredients
2 ½ cups of flour (plus some extra to roll them out)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 cup hot water

Method
Mix the flour, salt and BP in a bowl and either using your hand or the dough hook on the mixer pour in the oil and mix until combine, pour in the water little by little until dough looks firm enough to knead
Tip on to a flour surface and knead until smooth. Roll into 12 balls and pop in a warm place for 30-45 mins.
Roll out each tortilla to the size of your hand and ensure there is enough flour on each to stop them from sticking.
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Heat a cast iron pan to med-hot and put in one taco at a time, they will bubble slightly, flip after 30 seconds, they should have light brown spots (if they have dark brown spots your pan is too hot, if they have no spots (or take longer to brown your pan is too low)
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Put on a plate and cover with a warm tea towel until you are ready to eat them.

Buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup

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I have started a weekend tradition called pancake Sundays, really what it means is that Mr Goldie and I sit down to a yummy brunch on a Sunday morning and just take time to chill out and talk. I have made french toast, waffles, and pancakes on different occasions. As we have had the most amazing weather this summer in Auckland, most of the time we will eat outside. It is such a treat.
This Pancake recipe is a Nigella Lawson recipe, and makes the most perfect fluffy pancakes. The addition of banana’s in the batter is magic. It makes them light and fluffy without adding too much sweetness – they still work perfectly with bacon and syrup.

Ingredients
1 very ripe banana (mashed)
150 gms plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
250 mls of buttermilk or natural unsweetened yogurt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
30 gm butter, melted and cooled slightly

Put all the ingredients in a blender (or a bowl using a hand mixer) and beat until a smooth batter forms. Stir in the melted butter just before you are ready to cook the pancakes. In a non stick frying pan, pour in about half a cup at a time. Once bubbles form, flip the pancake and cook on the other side.

I served ours with bacon, plums, blueberries and bacon. Drizzle with maple syrup.

This recipe is so easy, leave it open for the boys to see on your birthday or Mothers day! You will be in for a treat.

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