Thursday, 16 April 2009

mexican chocolate cake

Make no mistake - this chocolate cake is for grown ups only! I may look harmless enough, but an innocent chocolate exterior hides a batter laced with chilli and cinnamon. Cover in chocolate ganache and you've got my kind of cake. If you've never encountered the combination of chilli and chocolate before, you must try it. They do the most amazing chill hot chocolate at The Chocolate Boutique in Parnell - definitely worth the trip in from out West for me. At Christmas time I made some truffles, one flavour of which were chilli chocolate. They went down a treat with their recipients, so I started wondering what other chocolate treats could benefit from a warm chilli hit. Thus this cake was born. I took the trusty Edmonds chocolate cake recipe, and added chilli and cinnamon.

Mexican Chocolate Cake

175g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups standard grade flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne/chilli powder (adjust to your taste)
1 cup milk
Dark Chocolate Ganache (see recipe below)

1. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and chilli powder.

3. Alternating, fold dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture.

4. Pour into a lined 22cm round cake tin, and bake at 180C for approximately 50-55 minutes. Leave cake in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. When cool, spread with chocolate ganache.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

200g bittersweet dark chocolate
1/3 cup cream

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces, and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Pour the cream over top.

2. Microwave on High
for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir and heat again on High in 15-second intervals, stirring each time, until fully melted. Remove from microwave and leave to cool.

3. When the ganache has reached spreading consistency, spread over the Mexican Chocolate Cake.

Adapted from Edmonds Food for Flatters cookbook.

Friday, 6 March 2009

end of summer garden update

sad sign of autumn: dead tomato plant

joyful sign of autumn: feijoa ripening on tree

but signs of summer still remain: roma tomatoes

jingle bells mini capsicums ripening

oregano, mrs burns lemon & red rubin basil

green sausage tomatoes


an end of summer harvest: assorted tomatoes, chillis and mini capsicums


What to plant for winter?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

swoon-worthy food for valentine's day

If you're going to celebrate Valentine's Day, you've got to do it right. A home-cooked meal is far more romantic that sharing a restaurant dining room with a multitude of other couples - some of which probably aren't even talking to each other! Diets go out the door, as decadent cholesterol-laden treats are the order of the day.

To be honest, I haven't decided what we will be dining on tonight, but what really matters is the dessert. You know it's true! And it most likely has to involve chocolate. So here are links to my top picks for Valentine's Day desserty, chocolaty treats this year. Take your pick...

1. Valentine's chocolate fondue at 101 Cookbooks.

2. Strawberry white chocolate mousse at Simply Recipes.

3. Chocolate cheesecake at Cafe Fernando.

4. Apple frangipane tartelettes with cheesecake ice cream at Tartelette.

5. Heart-shaped plum cakes at La Tartine Gourmande.

6. Raspberry chocolate brownie parfait at Taste.

7. Nigella's choco-hoto-pots at Oprah. (I think I might go for this one)

and if nothing else works...
Chargrilled oysters at Seduction Meals.

Happy Valentine's Day!

vintage valentine's day cards

We all know that Valentine's Day over-commercialised and corny anyway, so why not add a bit of vintage corniness to it. The corniness somehow seems more acceptable in that era? Head over to Vintage Holiday Crafts and check out their free vintage kids Valentine's Day cards. You can download and print them for free. My man's going to be getting the popcorny one I think!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

pimp my blog/summer garden update

Welcome to the newly pimped goodness of creating! I'm quite stoked with my novice blogging and html efforts. There are still a couple of random Spanish words around the place that I'm trying to figure out how to get rid of (like "Comentario"). Any advice would be appreciated!

With a new look also comes a new resolution to post more often, and try and actually post some recipes to go under the new recipe list I created. I know its early days, but it's good to be organised! So be prepared to hear from me more regularly this year, and hopefully I will also hear from other bloggers more often too! *hint hint*

Freshly dug: purple dragon, nutri-red, and egmont gold carrots

One thing I will be posting about regularly is my edible garden. I'm still relatively new to the gardening arena, so keeping a record of what worked and what didn't will hopefully help me learn from my experiences and get better. Although seed packets advise you on the number of days till harvesting, etc., it actually depends on the climate in your own garden. Auckland weather is quite different from the majority of New Zealand, and is more subtropical, so it does take a bit of trial and error to find optimum planting times. Any gardening advice is appreciated, and hopefully I can offer a few of my own gems of wisdom that I learn along the way.

Dynamo tomato flowers

The garden is in full swing at the moment. Almost more tomatoes than we can eat, a decent crop of colourful carrots (pictured above), chilli peppers and capsicums growing steadily, strawberries still going strong, and jersey benne potatoes ready for harvesting. We're loving not having to buy produce. We haven't even been to the farmers market for ages because we don't need to. For my birthday I got a dwarf meyer lemon and dwarf tahitian lime - exciting! But I hate that I'll have to wait a few years till I can taste them...

Cocozelle zucchini plant in its happier days

There have been a couple of casualties though. My lone zucchini plant was going strong, giving us a zucchini every day or so, until it was struck by the dreaded powdery mildew. I gave it a milk spray two times but no luck. Now it appears to have given up. Due to lack of watering while we were on our Christmas holiday, some of the tomato plants are suffering from blossom end rot. Once you have blossom end rot, I hear there is not much you can do. The green sausage tomatoes were the hardest hit, but I've still managed to get a couple ok ones off there. I'm experimenting with a few varieties of tomato this summer so we will see who comes out on top. So far dynamo is the winner. What varieties do you rate or want to try?

Currently in the ground/pots:

tomatoes (1 black krim, 5 dynamo, 1 roma, 2 green sausage, 1 garden peach)
chillis (2 asian fire)
mini capsicum (1 jingle bells)
zucchini (1 cocozelle)
potatoes (jersey benne)
cos lettuce
dwarf beans (total waste of time!)


bay tree
basil (mrs burns lemon, red rubin, sweet genovese)
italian flat-leaf parsley

New kinds I want to try growing this year:

kale (caverlo nero)
sprouting broccoli/broccolini
different kinds of potatoes

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