Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Nemesis

This is my nemesis, Freddie.  

She's an asshole.  Every morning is journey to the center of the earth in her litter box - she just doesn't stop bloody digging until someone yells at her.  She's whiny.  She acts like her shit don't smell but it stinks and she never covers it properly.  Her breath smells like something from the depths of hell.  She looks like she's either plotting to kill me or rip my face off.  Case in point:
She stalks me.  She traps me into being nice to her but then turns arounds and bites me or scratches me.  Cats are bastards.  This little cartoon sums it up nicely.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Afternoon Tea

An Afternoon Tea party is the perfect excuse for me to try new recipes.  Today I invited a couple of family members to join us for Afternoon Tea. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have an abundance of oranges at the moment from my Mother's tree.  They tend to go bad faster than I can eat them so I decided to find a recipe where I could use the oranges.  I found one for Orange Almond cake and adapted it to suit my taste buds.  This cake is fantastic - great for those who are gluten intolerant, moist, filling and simple to make. It's only downfall is the preparation time; the oranges must be simmered for almost 90 minutes.
I also pulled out of my freezer some zucchini I had grated up earlier in the week before they also went bad. I had already decided to use it for a recipe I had found for Zucchini Loaf.  Since I have a sweet tooth, I thought lemon frosting would finish it off perfectly.
No afternoon tea is complete without some kind of sandwich so I threw together a simple open faced sandwich on ciabatta bread.  Herbed cream cheese and salmon team together well to make a delicious snack.

Zucchini Loaf with Lemon Frosting Spread

2 cups of grated zucchini
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup of oil (I used Macadamia Nut Oil)
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of baking powder
2 Tbsp of cinnamon
1 Tbsp of Vanilla bean paste (or pure extract)

Lemon Frosting Spread
2 cups of confectioner's sugar
4 Tbsp warm milk
1 Tbsp soft butter
2 tsp lemon extract or lemon juice

Sift sugar into a bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Beat until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a loaf tin.  In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside.  In a large bowl beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean paste until smooth.  Stir in the zucchini until well mixed.  Stir in dry mixture with metal spoon until well mixed and then pour into the greased loaf tin.  Place in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let loaf cool before frosting.

Orange Cake
2 large oranges
300g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
juice of 1/2 lemon

Wash oranges well and place whole into a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring water to boil then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer whole oranges for 1-1 1/2 hours.  Let oranges cool and then drain water and place oranges into a food processor.  Blend till smooth.  Add in eggs, vanilla bean paste and lemon juice and blend.  In another bowl mix caster sugar, ground almonds and baking power.  Add orange mixture to dry mixture and fold with a metal spoon until well mixed.  Pour cake mixture into greased cake tin.  Place in oven and bake @ 350 Fahrenheit for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Open Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
1 fresh load of bread
1/2 pot of cream cheese
generous squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt
cracked pepper
fresh or dried dill
100g smoked salmon

Slice loaf of bread and set aside.  Mix cream cheese, salt, peper, lemon juice and dill until smooth.  Spread cream cheese over bread slices and top each slice with smoked salmon.  Serve immediately.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Homemade Pizza

Yesterday I made my first from-scratch pizza.  I've made pizza at home before, but using a ready made base from the store. Not only does it save money, but I got great satisfaction from making something from scratch!  I'm not actually a big fan of pizza from big chains like Dominos or Pizza Hut.  I find their pizzas too fatty and salty.  The best pizzas I've ever tasted have come from a traditional Italian pizzeria.Their toppings are very basic and focus on simple, fresh ingredients and herbs.  Now that is my ideal pizza!

The following recipe is for two thin crust pizza bases.

4 cups flour
1 package/7g dry active yeast in 1 of warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Add dry yeast to warm water and set aside for 5 minutes.  In a large bowl add flour, sugar, olive oil and salt and combine with a wooden spoon.  Add yeast and water mixture and stir till it forms a dough.  Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes).  Good arm workout and a good time for thinking! Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn once to coat top surface of dough with grease.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk (about 1.5 - 2 hours).  When dough has doubled in size, punch down, and let rise 20 minutes more.

Preheat pizza stone in oven for at least half and hour at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place dough on kitchen bench and roll out with a rolling pin to make base. I found it easier to knead and roll the dough into a ball before I attempted to roll it out. Take the pizza stone out of the oven and spread a little cornmeal on the stone.  Flop the base on top so it's centered and then form a crust with your fingers by gathering up the dough that's overflowed the edge of the stone and pinching it.  Be careful with this as the stone is rather hot! Top the base with whatever you wish.  Yesterday I had tomato paste, Bocconcini  mozzarella, Parmesan and torn basil leaves.  In an ideal world you would do all the preparation of the base and toppings on a pizza paddle and then slide it onto the stone while it's in the oven, but I don't yet have one so I have to take the stone out of the oven and just make sure I don't burn myself.


  • I've discovered the dough was nicer if I made the dough the night before and left to rise a little further in the fridge once you've done the initial rise in a warm place.  
  • If you don't need two pizzas, put half the dough in a container, lightly covered in oil and then freeze. From reading around, fresh dough only lasts about 3-5 days depending on whose opinion you ask for.  Frozen dough is still awesome and I think it's almost better than fresh dough sometimes!
  • The consistency of this dough is crispy thin base with a chewy crust.

Some of my favourite toppings:

  • Low fat ricotta cheese mixed with 2Tbsp tomato paste spread on base, chopped red onion, sliced cherry tomatoes + mushrooms + eggplant tossed in a little olive oil, torn basil leaves, grated Parmesan, chopped feta.
  • Home made basil pesto (big bunch of leaves + 1/3 cup cashews + 1 tsp crushed garlic + olive oil) spread on base, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped red onions, sliced bocconcini mozzarella, grated Parmesan, sliced black olives