Sunday, April 11, 2010

Healthy Fresh Picked Home Grown Produce

There's nothing nicer that healthy fresh picked home grown produce. Here are some of the lovely fruits, nuts and vegetables grown by my friends - Zdena's and Vanessa. I just wanted to share it with you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nigella's Nutella Cake (Torta alla Gianduia)

I needed something quick and easy to make, yet I wanted it to be special. This is the second time I've made Nigella Lawson's Nutella cake (Torta alla Gianduia) and it fit the bill perfectly.  It's so irresistible and elegant with it's glossy dark chocolate ganache and toasted hazelnuts on top. It is dense and moist with a wonderful hazelnut taste. This, no doubt, comes from a whole jar of Nutella and an added tablespoon of Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur. It has a wonderful texture from the ground hazelnuts and a subtle crunch from the toasted hazelnuts as you bite into it.

I won't reinvent the wheel - the recipe is on Nigella's website (here) and also in her book - "How to be a Domestic Goddess" (page 172).

Hazelnuts fresh off the tree from Zdena's and Vanessa's new little hazelnut tree.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Amazing Orange Cake

I have been very busy in the last two months looking after my very sick elderly friend. I am sad to say that he has passed away. I now have time to bake once again which is a nice way to ease the pain.

I have made this beautifully light, moist orange cake, full of flavor from fresh orange juice and zest. The recipe is adapted from Margie Agostini's Amazing Orange Cake from Caffe Agostini in Sydney via the lovely Jill Dupleix's webpage.

I have halved the ingredients and made the 22cm cake. Serves 8


250 grams unsalted butter
250 grams castor sugar
4 x 60 gram eggs
grated zest of 1 Navel orange (for the best zest)
250 grams self-raising flour
100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
For the icing:
250 grams pure icing sugar
50 ml orange juice

Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar well, until it is very pale and thick - this will take 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and zest and beat well. Slowly add the orange juice, mixing well until it is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in the cake tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool on a cake rack.

Mix the orange juice into the icing sugar. Ice the cooled cake and allow the icing to drizzle down the sides of the cake.

Dark Chocolate, Pear and Pistachio Cake

Edited 19/04/2010
A family gathering for Easter was the perfect excuse to bake a cake. This dark chocolate, pear and pistachio cake recipe has been adapted came from the April 2010, Australian Gourmet Traveller's Chef's Recipes - originally supposedly originating from Tartine in Armadale, Melbourne. According to the FiFi Report 042it was first published in Vogue Entertaining 2001. This moist delicious cake has a wonderful texture. The sweet pears, the fragrant pistachio nuts, along with the dark chocolate, and luscious velvety ganache make this cake simply irresistible.


200 grams good quality dark chocolate, chopped
70 grams (3/4 cup) pistachio nuts (plus extra for garnish)
150 grams unsalted butter, softened
150 grams caster sugar
3 X 60 gram eggs
150 grams plain (all purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 firm ripe pear( peeled, cored and diced)

For the chocolate ganache:
150 good quality dark chocolate, chopped
150 ml pure cream (pouring cream)


Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Grease a 22 cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper.

In a food processor, grind the chocolate and pistachio nuts to a coarse crumb (don't make it too fine). Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir into the creamed mixture.

Stir in the chocolate and pistachio crumbs, then the diced pear. Pour into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until skewer inserted coes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto cake rack to cool to room temperature.

For the ganache, combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a metal spoon until smooth. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, until the ganache is thick and spreadable. Smooth the ganache over the top of the cake and let it drizzle over the sides. Garnish with the extra chopped pistachio nuts. The cake will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.