Happy Wife, Happy Life…

Over the weekend my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!

Every time I think about it, I have to pinch myself, 40 years… thats a life time.. thats longer than my life time… Mr Lid and I just celebrated 8 months of marriage- my parents have been married 50 times longer than us!

So for such a special occasion we had a family picnic on the beach, not just any beach, it was the beach where we as kids spent most of our summers as it was where my Grandma and Granddad used to live, on the hill over looking the water, it is a place that has such strong memories for me, family, summer, food… Which really made it a lovely afternoon, the kids running in the water and playing in the sand (well crushed up shell), the adults drinking bubbles, catching up and eating way too much food.

For such a relaxed Summers day I thought what better sweet treat for dessert than a Hazelnut meringue.

Light and slightly chewy, smothered with a layer of dark chocolate to give a bit of bite, soft juicy slightly tart Strawberries and lashings of vanilla whipped cream- layer it all together and you have a wonderful dessert to share with friends and family.

Hazelnut Meringue

5 Large Egg Whites at room temperature (I like Free range egg whites)

275g Caster Sugar

2tsp Cornflour

160g Toasted Hazelnuts- (shells removed, cooled, chopped)

Heat oven 120-130c fan forced

Prepare the trays for the meringue before starting- I drew two large rectangles on baking paper to fit my trays, lightly grease trays and place baking paper drawing side down (you will still be able to see the outline- you just wont get pen/pencil in your meringue)

Whisk whites in a large clean dry bowl till firm/stiff peak (when the whisk is removed the whites should stand to a peak without falling over).

One Tablespoon at a time whisk in the sugar, till glossy, when rubbed between two fingers you should no longer feel any graininess of the sugar.

Fold in cornflour and Chopped Hazelnuts till well combined.

Once the meringue is ready divide onto the two paper lined trays and gently push mix to the edges of your drawn outline.

Make sure the meringue is even.

Bake 40 minutes then swap the trays over so that they cook evenly, bake for another 40 min, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly open and leave to cool. I keep my meringues in the oven till I need them- just make sure the kids don’t play with the knobs, or your husband doesn’t try to make you dinner and ruin your meringues!

To finish off my meringues I melted some dark chocolate and covered the two flat sides of the meringue (carefully turn the meringues over, peel off the paper)

Next layer vanilla whipped cream and sliced strawberries (or any berries) carefully place the second meringue chocolate side down on top of the other meringue. Cover the top with more cream and berries and chocolate if you like.

This is great for a crowd or if you are feeling fancy you can make individual meringues and layer them for a amazing dinner party dessert (if making small meringues the cooking time will vary).

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Better than Bread.

I am unsure of anything that is better than a deep dark rich moist fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of orange.

I am sure that a healthy gluten free deep dark rich moist fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of orange that uses up last nights cooked Quinoa is better.

Thanks right, its full of good protein, great fats, no gluten or dairy and packed full of flavour!

Quinoa Chocolate and Orange Fudge Cake

2 cups Cooked Quinoa

5 Eggs

1/4 cup Honey

1/2 cup Agave nectar (if you don’t have any use Honey)

1 cup Orange pulp

(left over from making orange juice- or boil whole oranges for 2hours topping up water regularly cool in the water, strain and blend)

1/4 cup coconut oil melted

1/4 cup Rice bran oil (can use Coconut oil instead)

1 cup Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Coconut Flour

1Tbs Baking Powder

pinch Salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl till well combined. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake 180c 45-60 min. Best to check after 45min- if skewer is not coming out clean bake for longer- I trust you)

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Andale andale arriba arriba

There is something about the salty sour sweet boozy goodness that is a margarita…

The tantalising marriage of lime, tequila, cointreau with a touch of sugar syrup rounded off perfectly with a salted rim- bliss on a hot afternoon especially if its blended with ice to a delicious slushy consistency.. Droooooool just thinking about it

I have a beautiful friend who is having a big birthday soon- not just a party, a dress up party!! I am so excited! I LOVE dress up parties- so does Mr Lid- just proves we were meant to be.

It is a Mexican theme (in an Italian restaurant) I already have a costume in the dress up box- a couple of new years ago we had a Senior & Senorita party and I got a lovely red and black lacy number- but I am not sure I want to wear a dress that is more suited to a hot summers eve- not a 10 degree winters night.

After thinking long and hard and being inspired by some amazing fake flowers, I spent last night crafting away making a Frida Kahalo inspired head band and with a bit of luck, drawing on a mono-brow tomorrow night I will be transformed… and after some crafty sewing Mr Lid will be the most handsome Third Amigo.

I digress, I am making the cake- for my friends birthday-I am thinking Mexican chocolate with lots of spices and a bit of a punch of chilli, and a margarita cake!

So here it is a moist Citrus cake soaked with a margarita syrup- with lots of fresh lime and a good gold tequila, you will just have to keep an eye out for the Chilli Chocolate Cake recipe

Moist Margarita syrup cake

500g Sugar

390g Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

105g Oil

305g Plain Yoghurt (I like a thick greek yoghurt)

3 Eggs

2 Limes Zested

155g Hot Tequila (or Boiling Hot water with Tequila essence- found at home brew shops)

Combine all the dry ingredients, add in the wet ingredients except the hot Tequila/water, mix till most of the drys are incorporated. Next pour in the Hot Tequila/water and mix well till there are no lumps and the batter is smooth.

Pour into a paper lined 8 inch tin. Bake 140c , check at 2 hours – it is done when a skewer comes out clean.

Once out of the oven poke the skewer into the cake all over around 30-50 times.

Lime and Tequila Syrup

200g Caster Sugar

100g Tequila

100g Fresh lime juice

Mix sugar and tequila and heat till dissolved, Add the fresh Lime juice last.

Spoon Warm Syrup over the warm cake- you might not need all the syrup.

White Chocolate and Lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
150g Egg whites, about 5 eggs
250 g Caster Sugar
340 g Butter, cut into cubes at room temperature- not too soft
Juice and zest 4 Limes
Pinch of salt
300g White Chocolate- melted and cooled

Melt chocolate in a bain marie (i use a heat-proof glass bowl over a small saucepan) and set aside to cool- This could also be done in the microwave.
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot to touch.
With the whisk attachment of your mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
Add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). If the mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing until it comes together. Add Lime juice, zest and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add cooled chocolate, and blend until combined.

You can add some Tequila to the Buttercream for and extra punch.

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Despicable me

Today I am taking my niece and nephew to the movies- I am not sure who is more excited- them or me!!! I loved Despicable me 1 and I am sure Despicable me 2 will be just as great!
Here is a cake I made a couple if weeks ago for a little girls birthday- wish I had been invited!!

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Mmmm Cheesecake

Everyone loves cheese cake, but to be honest they are a pain to make on a whim to satisfy 3:30itis or when you get a phone call for a last minute catch up with friends.
They almost always call for a dash to the shop to get cream, or a tonne of cream cheese, or biscuits for the base.
So my mission this afternoon, was to make a cheese cake without leaving the house. Mr Lid and I just had a slice after dinner- so it’s quick.
It’s not overly sweet- almost mouse like and it’s delicious! Unlike normal baked cheesecake that leaves you feeling a tiny bit ill, very rich and overindulgent this leaves you wanting more, and then a bit more, and a little bit more after that.

Honeycomb cheesecake

Base
Seeing as I didn’t have a packet of bikkies to crush I improvised with a mix of dried fruit and nuts, anything goes…
50g Desiccated coconut
50g Soft Dates
100g Walnuts
50g Coconut oil
Blend dates, coconut and walnuts- you don’t want this too fine. Melt coconut oil and add to mixer, mix till combined.
Press into lined tin- I used an 8 inch tin.

Filling
Now this may put you off- please don’t let it- make a dry caramel by putting castor sugar into a pan, non stick if you have it. Heat on a medium heat- do not stir, just leave to melt. Once the sugar starts to melt you can move it with a rubber scraper till its all golden- do not stir too much or you will incorporate too much air which will crystalise the sugar.
Once lovely and golden, take off the heat- add some salt and pour onto grease proof paper to cool. Once cold, break up and blitz in a blender to turn it back into sugar. I like to make around 300g caramel sugar at a time, it can be used in so many ways.

150g Salted Caramel sugar

18g Cornflour

250g Cream cheese

155g Sour cream

2 Eggs

125g Milk

55g Coconut oil- melted

Mix together Sugar, cornflour, cream cheese and sour cream- till almost lump-less.

Mix in 1 egg at a time, lastly add the milk and the warm/hot melted coconut oil.

Pour onto prepared base and bake 120c 1hour 30min or until when wobbled the middle is almost set.

Leave to cool down then pop in the fridge to firm up before unmoulding and cutting to eat. I made extra caramelised sugar and sprinkled it on top, which made this cheesecake almost creme caramel like.

This cheese cake is like no other, it is rich but not overly sweet due to the caramelised sugar. It is quite lite because of the milk and coconut oil. If you do not have coconut oil you could substitute butter.

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Turn your world upside down

 I keep buying fruit that Mr Lid likes, in the hope that he will one day be inspired to take a piece to work to eat for a snack- instead of the lolly bag he has hidden in his filing cabinet.

Instead I have a fridge full of rotting fruit.

This week its pears. I am lucky I guess as nothing says winter like pears.

When thinking of what to make I often sit and think about what I have to use- imagining tasting it, the texture, what will inhance the flavour, what I have in the house to use and how long it will take.

After going through the list in my head- pears, golden syrup, walnuts, ginger, it all starts to come together and nothing is more heart warming or more comforting than pears baked into an upside down ginger cake oozing with golden syrup.. obvious choice.

Upside down Pear and Ginger cake

3 Pears

Golden syrup

150g Butter

150g Brown sugar

2 Eggs

2Tbs Golden syrup + extra for pears

250g Flour

1/4cup Walnuts

1/2tsp Baking Powder

2tsp Baking Soda

1Tbs Ground Ginger

1/2tsp Cinnamon

160g Sour cream

Core and dice the Pears- I left the skins on as I quite like them.

Start with a couple of tablespoons of golden syrup and mix with the diced pears- depends how much you want I think I used about 3 heaped tablespoons.

Pour pear mix into the bottom of a lined cake tin.

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition, next add the 2Tbs of golden syrup- again mixing well.

Add the remaining ingredients folding the mix till just combined- do not over mix, or the cake will be tough.

Spoon onto pears and bake 160-170c  50-70min depending on your oven- its cooked when a skewer comes out clean.

Once cooked let sit 5min but no longer- tip onto a plate and marvel in the glory of such a beautiful cake.

Best eaten warm.

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Warm and sticky

Mr Lid has three Dads.

Dad one is his real father.

Dad two is the father who raised him.

Dad three is Dad because he is currently married to Mr Lids Mum.

In all the time I have known Mr Lid I have met Dad one twice- once to say hello, and the second time was at our Wedding. He is a lovely man, very typical kiwi, still in his stubbie shorts sitting in his shed watching sport on T.V drinking beer.

He lives miles away, up the top of New Zealand with his wife (Mr Lids step mum) needless to say Mr Lids family table at the Wedding was Fun Fun Fun.

We are heading up there tomorrow, and in true newly wed fashion I can not turn up empty handed and I have to impress!

There seems to be a bit of a theme with me and baking- I bake not what I want to, but I bake what the ingredients in my house will let me… racking my brain for recipes or going on the net and typing in what I have in the cupboard and adapting/substituting where I can.

Luckily today I could make a recipe I had without changing it too much- it is not the chocolate chip cookies I wanted to make though.. but I am sure this Sticky Date Cake will be sure to blow their socks off!

Sticky Date Pudding Cake

280g Dates

380g Water

1/4tsp Cinnamon

1/4tsp Nutmeg

1/4tsp Ground ginger

1tsp Vanilla essence

Bring to the boil until the water is NEARLY all gone, pour into a big bowl adding…

280g Brown Sugar

90g Butter at room temperature

Mix to combine, next add..

3 Eggs- one at a time mixing well after each addition

Lastly stir in..

280g Self raising flour

1/2tsp Baking soda

You can make this into individual puddings by pouring into dressed molds (by dressed I mean lightly butter and flour the molds) or you can make into a cake.

Bake 170-180c dependent on size you decide to make and what your oven is like, adjust time… small check after 15min, big check after 30-40min

 I would recommend making double the recipe- so you can freeze one cake for when people pop over and you want to impress.

Butterscotch sauce

300g Brown sugar

180g butter

1tsp Vanilla essence

 300g Cream

Put in a big pot and bring everything to the boil- boil 5min.

This will keep in the fridge for at least a week (if you have that much self control) just heat in the microwave and stir well when ready to serve.

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