The Moroccan

The Moroccan was the perfect cocktail to kick off last weekend’s Moroccan dinner party, an orangey, sweet elixir with hints of coriander seed. So good I’ve been dreaming of it all week and couldn’t resist kicking off this Saturday night with a revisit.

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The Moroccan

INGREDIENTS
For the coriander simple syrup (makes plenty to jar and save)
1 cup water
1 cup honey
3 Tablespoon coriander seeds
For the drink
60ml Cointreau
60ml dry vermouth
30ml coriander simple syrup
5-6 dashes of blood orange bitters

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat the water, honey and coriander seeds over medium heat until it begins to boil. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or longer; the longer it sits, the stronger the flavor. Drain the liquid from seeds and set aside.
2. To mix the drink, combine all ingredients (including the simple syrup, but not the seeds) over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over ice.

I found this fabulous recipe here.

A Simple Chocolate Bar Cake

My kids always have something sweet in their lunch box. I’m sure some mums don’t agree with this, providing only wholegrained, raw food, pure & natural options. But I’m more of an ‘everything in moderation’ sort of gal. And, I’m quite comfortable with sweet, particularly when it comes straight from my kitchen.

Here’s one of my favourite, quick and easy, lunch box recipes – simple chocolate pound cake. And…it freezes really well too!

Chocolate Pound Cake
from taste.com.au

2 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
150g butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sifted
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
2 eggs

Chocolate frosting
50g butter, chopped
1/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup icing sugar mixture
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 3cm-deep, 17.5cm x 27cm (base) slice pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing 3cm overhang at long ends.

Combine sugar, butter, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and 1 cup cold water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 2 minutes or until mixture doubles. Transfer to a large bowl. Cool for 15 minutes.

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Add flour and eggs. Using an electric mixer, beat mixture until pale and smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn, top side up, onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make frosting: Place butter, caster sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Gradually add butter mixture. Stir to combine. Cover. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until frosting thickens. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable. Spread cake with frosting. Serve.

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I cut this into squares that fit perfectly into the boys’ lunchboxes and then pop it into the freezer in an airtight container leaving a little space between each piece so they don’t freeze together.

What to Buy at the Tupperware Party

Wondering what to buy when you’re next invited to a Tupperware party?

My recent purchase and current favourite Tupperware product is the Smooth Chopper.

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I had baulked at buying a Smooth Chopper for years as they aren’t cheap. At $80, there was always something else I could find that I needed that came in a little cheaper. But after a run of parties I had pretty much worked my way through the slightly less expensive ‘must have’ Tupperware.

So here are the reasons why I love the Smooth Chopper.

1. A quick and easy way to make a soffritto – the finely diced, carrot, onion and garlic base for a spaghetti bolognese.

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2. A great way to chop herbs evenly. Perfect for cutting curly parsley for tabouli salad.

3. A portable mini food processor for camping.

4. No more crying when you dice onions.

5. Super easy pesto maker, chopping and blending herbs, nuts, garlic and oil.

And that’s just using the blade attachment. I haven’t even tried the whisk yet! But apparently it’s fantastic for sauces, mayonnaise and chocolate mousse.

So what’s your favourite Tupperware purchase?

Quick Quilt for the Birthday Boy

I love quilting but I have really only ever hand quilted – a long, slow and very rewarding process.

When I decided a quilt would be the perfect keep-sake gift for my son’s 10th birthday I had only days to make it, so it was going to have to be quilted with the machine.

I decided on a red and navy theme and got to sewing stripes of fabric.

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This quilt introduced me to a lot of new techniques. The first being spray basting.

This process is so simple and quick!!! As long as everything is well pressed and lying flat it really is quite easy.

I ironed my backing fabric and then lay it out on my table-tennis table. I used masking tape to keep the fabric stable on the table and then carefully placed the wadding on top of it. The fabric was a little bigger than the table so I had some overhang on one side. To start the gluing process I folded the wadding back over itself perfectly evenly on the long edge. I then carefully sprayed the first half of the wadding with glue following the manufacturers instructions. I then lifted it back and pressed it evenly onto the fabric to ensure it was smooth, starting in the centre and working out. I then repeated the process with the other side. I first needed to move the overhanging fabric onto the table and secure it with tape. I then folded the wadding back onto the glued side and repeated spraying it with glue and smoothing it over the fabric.

Next I pressed my top fabric so all the striped seams were facing in the same direction. I repeated the spray gluing process, this time with the fabric on top of the wadding. I spray glued on the floor rather than the table-tennis table this time.

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Once the top fabric was securely attached I started machine quilting, in the ditch. This was my first time doing this and it wasn’t as hard as I expected. I sewed up in one direction and then back in the other direction to ensure the fabric was evenly spread and didn’t start twisting. I rolled the fabric into a big tube so I could more easily manage it as I sewed.

Once I finished I trimmed the overhang of the backing leaving a 4cm seam around the outside.

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This overhanging fabric then became my binding. I folded it in and hand sewed it in place.

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It’s not perfect but I’m really happy with how it looks. Here’s a view of the back.

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My son loves it! I hope it is in his life for many years to come.

Super Easy Birthday Cup Cakes

Late this afternoon my nearly 10 year old decided he’d like to take cupcakes to school tomorrow for his class to celebrate his birthday.

Cringe….I love baking but it was time to prepare dinner not whip up a batch of cakes.

But then I found this super easy recipe where it’s just a matter of adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring and adding to the cupcake papers.

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I like to use a mini ice cream scoop to neatly and evenly transfer the batter from the bowl to the cupcake paper.

Here’s the recipe. You’re going to want to keep this one up your sleeve!

Classic Cupcake
from taste.com.au
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup milk
125g butter, melted, cooled
2 x 59g eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Queen Natural Vanilla Essence

Icing:
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 12 x 1/3-cup capacity muffin pan. Alternatively, line holes with paper cases. Combine flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.

Add milk, butter, eggs and vanilla to flour mixture. Using a large metal spoon, stir gently to combine.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Make icing: Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add water. Stir until smooth and well combined. Spoon icing over cakes.

The recipe indicated that this recipe would make 12 cupcakes. I doubled the mix and ended up with 36 medium cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. That’s plenty for all the kids at school plus a few for us to enjoy at home.

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Cocktails at the Ready

Do you find it hard to have on hand all the ingredients you need for a cocktail? Sometimes I’m super organised and plan ahead to make sure I have the right mixers in the pantry, but then so often I end up throwing out the majority of the juice that is left over.

But I’ve recently got into the habit of freezing the left over juice in an ice cube tray. Reduced wastage AND a quick and east way to make frozen cocktails.

I keep containers in the freezer with the frozen cranberry juice cubes and grapefruit juice cubes.

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My favourite grapefruit martini is then just a whiz away from hitting my martini glass. I generally add three grapefruit cubes, one cranberry cube, a shot of Finlandia grapefruit infused vodka and a dash of Cointreau to the blender.

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So delicious! And if I’m not in the mood for a frozen version I make it up, race around and do the vacuuming, and then enjoy!

Spiced Kangaroo with Coconut Cauliflower

Many years ago I tried kangaroo for the first time. I loved it. Very similar to steak with a slight gamey taste. But, until recently, I had never tried cooking it myself. In Australia, kangaroo meat is now quite widely available in the supermarket in a variety of cuts. It’s low in fat and high in protein. Tonight I used kangaroo filets to make an all round thumbs up dinner.

Curry Spiced Kangaroo with Savory Coconut Cauliflower Spiked with Lime
based on recipe from MacroMeats
1 1/2 – 2 pounds of kangaroo loin or filet
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (you can run coconut flakes in the food processor to shred it)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 head of cauliflower, grated or finely chopped
Juice of one lime
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste

Mix together 3 tablespoons of olive oil plus salt and curry powder. Rub all over the outside of the kangaroo loins.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add kangaroo loin and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.

Let meat rest 5-10 minutes then slice (I left mine whole) and sprinkle sea salt on top.

To make cauliflower, warm 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes, then add the shredded coconut. Continue to sauté until the coconut is nicely browned.

I highly recommend this recipe.