Monday, July 7, 2014

Easy Peasy Pear Cake

People tell me all the time that they hate baking because they find it SO hard, with the need for precise measurements and little room for error or improvisation being the main complaints. 

This recipe will ( hopefully) restore your faith in baking. It truly is super easy and rather fun to make. I discovered this recipe one day while watching this video of the delightful Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella in which she demonstrates how simple it really is. 

Pears are still in season at the moment too so grab yourself a big bag of pears ( or apples if you prefer) and get baking.

Easy Peasy Pear Cake
Original recipe by Not Quite Nigella here



ingredients
3/4 cup plain wholemeal flour
3/4 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup caster or superfine sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
125g/4ozs melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
400g/14ozs. pears or apples, chopped into small chunks
2 tablespoons cinnamon or vanilla sugar
Icing sugar to serve (optional)

method
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line an 20cm/8inch springform tin with greaseproof paper.

Mix both flours, sugar, butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Press 3/4 of the mix into the base of the tin. It will be like a sticky, buttery dough. Scatter the diced pears on top. Then place small pieces of the dough on it in a patchwork pattern so that the pear is not entirely covered up.


Next, sprinkle on the sugar and bake for 40-50 minutes. If using a cinnamon with your sugar, your cake will emerge looking quite brown but don't despair it is definitely not burnt. I love cinnamon so I added extra to mine pictured below.


When cooked, allow to cool before slicing as it is rather delicate when warm. Sprinkle some icing sugar on top to make it all pretty (optional). 



Serve as is or for a little indulgence add a big dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, custard or a delicious scoop of vanilla ice cream. 




Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cointreau spiced tea

Yesterday I was holed up inside with the air-conditioning set on a balmy 27 degrees. 

I was cold. 

It was warranted. Really. 



As we are well and truly in the midst of winter now, I decided to make this warming tea using one of my favourite liqueurs. 


Super easy, it took me no time at all. The Cointreau adds a lovely subtle sweetness to the tea so you don't have to add any extra sugar. 

I used Tetley Cinnamon Orange tea bags to make this but only because Mum recently brought over a box of it for me to try. Regular black tea will work nicely too - just remember to not brew it too long though (unless you like it strong).




ingredients
Cinnamon twills ( 1 per glass)
Black or orange flavoured tea 
Orange Peel
Cointreau Liqueur

method
Simply brew a cup of tea as you normally would. Then add a few pieces of orange peel, one cinnamon twill and 1 tablespoon of cointreau to each cup of tea.

Sit back, pump up the air con or heater and enjoy.



Monday, June 23, 2014

afternoon tea w/ bakers delight

As a new Mum, it's very easy to get caught up in the flurry of nappies, fruit purees and loads of washing. After all, I'm sure they made me sign some kind of declaration at the hospital relinquishing all future 'Me' time from the moment I had my son. That said I can't pass up a good scone and my friends at Bakers Delight do a mean date scone. Moist, packed full of dates and always fresh, they are my favourite.


Scones and tea cake remind me of afternoon tea time at my Nan & Pop's when I was a child. An apple and cinnamon tea cake or apple and custard scroll from Bakers Delight were firm favourites with all of us. Served buttered and enjoyed with some good old fashioned English Breakfast tea.


These days, tea time is a treat. It’s a skinny cappuccino and perhaps a snack on the run, rushed in between chores or meetings – if at all! 

So why not bring back afternoon tea and make it a regular thing again? Bakers Delight is committed to helping us do this by bringing back tea time. They are encouraging all Australians to become reacquainted with the everyday ritual of afternoon tea. 

If date scones aren't your thing, perhaps you might like to try another of their 14 different scones on offer.



With everyone so busy these days, it's nice to be reminded that we should take time out each day to recharge and re-set.  So make time for yourself, put your feet up and enjoy a nice cup of tea and a scone or piece of tea cake. 

Tell me, what is your favourite scone?


Friday, June 13, 2014

Flashback Friday w/ Kidspot - Wheels

Happy Friday the 13th!

This week's Kidspot Flashback Friday prompt was chosen by the lovely Tash from Little Bit of Thyme who selected the theme 'Wheels'.


I chose this photo of me because it in terms of wheels this pic doesn't get much better. It features a wheel trifecta :  A walker ( top left) circa 1980, a pale pink and blue shoe ride-a-long thingy ( middle right) and the yellow wheeled push-a-long (center). Nevermind poor plush Donald Duck which looks as though he has been bowled over by one of the many wheels pictured.

If I had to caption this picture it would definitely be something along the lines of 'Standback or you could be taken out!'        

Have a great weekend everyone x


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dining @ The Park Hyatt

With spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House, the Park Hyatt Hotel is something special. And a place that is very close to my heart. I actually worked at the hotel for several years long before its renovation in 2011. It was special back then and is even more so now. 


I've shared many a special birthday at the hotel's restaurant and Pete and I also celebrated our wedding reception in The Dining Room in 2010. 



The hotel exudes charm and class and what I loved about working there was that it had a real elegance to it, without being stuffy. The service was, and remains professional and friendly and the food and accommodation was always impeccable. Add to that Sydney's best views and you can understand why it truly is a special place.

On a recent visit we met with new Executive Chef Franck Detrait who has recently joined the hotel after working for the Hyatt brand in Dubai and Paris. 



Photo Source: Park Hyatt
Chef Detrait is warm and friendly and very passionate about his craft. Having never visited Sydney prior to his appointment at the hotel he tells us he is keen to explore the regions of New South Wales to scope out fresh and unique produce and work with local producers.


Sampling a variety of dishes which feature on the new menu, standouts include the terrine of duck foie gras topped with hibiscus & Jamaican peppercorn jelly, berries & umeboshi ($38). 

Two warm pieces of t
oasted brioche are the perfect vessel for the rich foie gras. The addition of berries and umeboshi provide a nice acidity to the dish and balance out the richness of the foie gras.

Terrine of foie gras
Featured on the new winter menu is the Green pea & mint gazpacho with Jannei fresh cured goat cheese ( $19)


Photo Source: Park Hyatt Sydney

The corn fed chicken breast is cooked perfectly and is deliciously moist, served on a bed of sweet corn & curry which is sweet and silky. Crispy chicken skin and popcorn provide a nice textural element to the dish and the snap peas and baby corn are warm and still retain that fresh crunch.  

Each dish was matched by wines selected by our friendly sommelier who happily answered our many questions and provided a fantastic commentary on each wine.

Corn Fed Chicken ($42)
The evening finished with dessert - A crisp and sweet mille-fleur filled with vanilla bean crème served with strawberry salad and a subtle rose infused ice cream.


A few weeks later we head back to enjoy High Tea and celebrate my first Mother's Day with some of my family. 


We order a combination of traditional ($49) and champagne ($65) High Tea which comes served with a glass of NV Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Rosé.

A combination of savoury and sweet treats arrive on tiered stands and include the classic cucumber sandwich, smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese sandwiches and my new favourite - Comte cheese and truffle.


The warm vanilla scones are light and airy, served with the perfect accompaniment of clotted cream and rich strawberry jam.



My Favourite Scones!

The macadamia praline cheese cake and the raspberry, vanilla and pistachio tart are so good and it's really hard to pick a favourite after already devouring the 'A la Folie' Macaron and the Valrhona chocolate delice.

Valhrona Hot Chocolate
While my family happily chat away, I sip on my delicious hot chocolate and peer out across the water at the Opera House, happy to have created yet another happy memory at the Hyatt.  


The Food Mentalist and Pete dined as dinner guests of The Park Hyatt.
 Afternoon Tea was paid for separately.







Sunday, June 8, 2014

cider sunday - winemakers cider co. red delicious

Made using red delicious apples sourced from the renowned Goulburn Valley.This cider was produced in Australia for the Pinnacle Liquor Group. Formed by Woolworths, the Pinnacle Liquor Group, brings together wine production, marketing and product development teams for the supermarket's own brands. To read more about this and how it may affect the market click here 



Dorrien Estate, a five-star James Halliday rated winery based in the Barossa Valley, forms part of this group producing "benchmark wines by exclusively partnering with leading winemakers and sourcing from some of Australia's most celebrated regions". And, interestingly, Vinpac International also forms part of this group, providing specialist wine packaging, wine making, bottling and warehouse/dispatch services.

With a fresh finish and very low acidity, what I like about this cider is that it is not overly fizzy, lending itself to a very fine carbonation. However, this cider is very very sweet and doesn't have many layers of complexity. I do howeve
r like the difference in flavour provided by the red delicious.

It would be best served in a small glass without ice before a rich meal. I don't think it's something you could drink a lot of and it is definitely not one for traditional cider enthusiasts.

At 5% alcohol, a 750ml bottle will provide you with 3 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased Winemakers Cider Co Red Delicious at Dan Murphy's.

RRP $7.99 per 750ml bottle.