Coconut Lime Cupcakes

What happens when you are given a huge bag of limes from a friend’s backyard? You start looking for every lime recipe known to man (or woman, more likely) and you get baking.

You decide on the tropical-sounding Coconut Lime Cupcakes first because it’s a miserable, rainy day and you’d like to imagine you’re on a sunny Caribbean Island soaking up some rays…and then you get that song stuck in your head. You know what I’m talking about, and now it’s stuck in your head, isn’t it!

You put the lime in the coconut,
You drank them both up

You put the lime in the coconut,
You drank them both up…

repeat over and over until you drive everybody crazy, basically. Thank you Harry Nilsson (and The Baha Men, Dannii Minogue and Jimmy Buffet, amongst others who’ve covered it…I think even Kermit the Frog did a version?) for recording such a catchy Calypso number that has stood the test of time.

So you really do put the lime in the coconut in this recipe…let me elaborate:

Coconut Lime Cupcakes – makes 12

Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut

Frosting

  • 125g butter
  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 ½ cups coconut flakes
  • sliced or candied limes, to decorate
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted remove from heat but allow to stay warm in saucepan.
  3. In medium bowl, mix together melted coconut oil and sugar, then stir through coconut milk, milk, vanilla and lime zest until combined.
  4. Add flour, baking soda and bicarb soda and salt. Mix until smooth then add coconut and stir until combined.
  5. Distribute amongst cupcake cases, and bake for 23-25 minutes until the top has some springiness. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Beat butter in stand mixer (or by hand) for 6-8 minutes until pale and creamy, then add sifted icing sugar and lime juice and beat for a further 10-15 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir through lime zest.
  7. Spread frosting onto cupcakes, and roll in coconut flakes until covered. Decorate with lime slices or candied lime slices as desired.

I’d recommend not making a double batch like I did today, because even though we each had one for morning and afternoon tea, gave away a plateful to the lime-tree owner as thanks, and squirelled some away for tomorrow, you’ll get to 9pm and realise you’re up to #3 for the day…oops.

This was a seriously delectable way to use up…3 limes. So stay tuned for another 17 lime recipes over the next week…unless I just buy a case of Corona’s and call it a day!

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I feel like Chicken Tonight, like Chicken Tonight…or maybe soup?

Last week I picked up a cookbook from the library called Fabulous Food, Minus the Boombah – it wasn’t just the catchy title that grabbed my attention but that the author is none other than Jane Kennedy, a comedic heroine from my teenage days.

Anyone over the age of 30 who has grown up in Australia surely remembers either the D-Generation, The Late Show, or has at least seen The Castle (classic Australian film, please watch it if you haven’t yet!) or The Dish. I remember rushing home most Saturday nights in the mid 90’s from my part time job at a take-away Pizza shop so that I could watch The Late Show on the ABC – their skits were corny and mostly send-ups of TV shows, celebrities, politicians and sportspeople, and were absolutely hilarious…this was before political correctness went crazy mind you!

So after hearing Jane had put out not just one cookbook, but has a second called OMG! I Can Eat That?, I knew I had to take a look. In my search to find a copy I discovered that Jane is not only married to one of my other comedic heroes, Rob Sitch (yes, from The Late Show!), but that they have 5 young children together! (Throw Uncle Santo Cilauro in and I’m hooked).

Here’s a classic Jane & Rob skit I found on you-tube…it’s fairly harmless but probably not suitable for kids to watch unless you want them singing it for the next week – catchy!

Jane is introduced as someone who loves to cook and eat, but as someone who can’t eat anything she wants to because she gets FAT. She defines Boombah as food that makes your arse huge – Jane, I hear you!

Her recipes are mostly low-carb and low in sugar and added fats, with the usual breakfast, starters, dinner & dessert categories. She also has some interesting ideas for entertaining, and a great chapter on Takeaway substitutes such as a low-fat Beef Vindaloo. Her personal anecdotes (she has tried seriously weird diets that are alarmingly familiar to me!) and refreshingly honest quips make this cookbook a delight to read. There’s lots of lovely clean photography, minimum-fuss recipes, and Jane looking gorgeous and totally real.

On the downside, It’s not particularly vegetarian-friendly. One of the recipes that did jump out at me was the Creamy broccoli and leek soup.

After a particularly chilly night here last night (we’re Queenslanders, we don’t deal well with anything under 20 °C !) and a cool morning, soup sounded perfect.

Truth be told, upon reading the ingredients this recipe sounded terrible. Broccoli, Leek & mustard…in soup? I’d already decided on a quick and easy chicken dish for Mr B. and the kids, so whilst it was in the oven baking I decided I’d give the soup a go.

Creamy broccoli and leek soup with feta

Adapted from Fabulous Food, minus the boombah

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 375g broccoli florets
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 Tablespoons oregano leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon natural yoghurt
  • firm feta, to crumble
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute garlic, broccoli, leek and mustard for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the stock and oregano and bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat to allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then blend or process to a smooth puree. Season with salt/pepper then stir through yoghurt.
  4. Crumble feta over soup and serve hot.

Notes

* Jane’s original recipe uses chicken stock and Greek yoghurt – I wanted to keep mine vegetarian, and I only had natural yoghurt, but I thought the feta was a nice compromise – it probably increased the fat content though!

The verdict? amazing and no boombah! The wholegrain mustard definitely adds the lift, and I will absolutely be making this delicious soup again.

And the others? They really did have chicken tonight…Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and potatoes.

They feasted on Nigella’s recipe which can be found here, but seriously, its so easy I can probably describe it in a few sentences. I reduced Nigella’s proportions to make use of what I had in the fridge…bung a few chicken thighs in a well oiled baking tray, add some chopped potatoes and sliced chorizo. Sprinkle over oregano and red onions (no onion fans in this house so I omitted this), then zest an orange over the top.

Bake for 50 -60 minutes…I pulled mine out after 40 minutes to add some sun-dried tomatoes. Plate up and drizzle pan juices over the top…there is a LOT of boombah in this dish!

It was very well received…kids went gaga over the sausage so next time I’ll remember to add more of that…they can handle a bit of boombah every now and again!

Kids in the Kitchen – Anzac Day Biscuits

Anzac Day is coming to a close here and the batch of Anzac Biscuits we baked this morning is also disappearing…I’ll have to put the last few remaining biscuits in one of my ‘hidey spots’ so there will be some left for lunchboxes tomorrow. It’s ironic that Anzac Biscuits were originally devised as a treat that had a long shelf life (in order to be sent overseas to our troops), yet once they are made they really don’t last long – how can one resist those crunchy, golden biscuits cooling on the tray?

It’s also quite interesting (to me anyway!) that there are so many different recipes and variations for something considered an iconic Aussie ‘classic’ – differing quantities of flour/oats/sugar, differing cook times to result in either soft & chewy or golden & crunchy, and possible additions of sultanas or choc chips.

To complicate matters further, my mum’s recipe (which I now follow) seems to be a ‘standard’, yet she often made hers as a slice. She would push her biscuit mixture into a greased slice tin, bake then drizzle the cooled slice with chocolate icing. This seemed sacrilege to me for many years – they are supposed to be biscuits Mum!

Being a parent now myself I think I understand her logic – after getting my kids to help make Anzac Biscuits today I can see how bunging it all in a pan and jazzing it up with icing was so much quicker & easier!

So Anzac Biscuits were on the cards today, of course. After Mia and Mr B. came home from the march in town, we lazed around long enough to get bedsores – at this point it was baking time. Mia donned her apron and Oliver followed…I assisted with measuring ingredients and the stove-top component, and let the kids take over. For a little while…

Mixing the dry ingredients is the easy part…Once the saucepan ingredients are ready it’s time for mum to step in.

Once that exciting chemical reaction between the bicarb and golden syrup/butter mixture occurs it’s time to combine it all…

Those lovely green laminate benchtops? Yes, straight out of the 80’s I know. They’re going one day…I’m not really attached to them you see.

So…back to our biscuits. Once combined, kids are the perfect little helpers to roll the mixture into balls for the tray. This part was quite, uh, fun. And messy. Mia lasted a few biscuits, whereas Oliver (just a tad OCD, our boy) played with one handful then wanted his hands washed. He was also very concerned about the increasing amount of crumbly mixture ending up on the floor.

Can you see our lovely malformed biscuits at this point? Charming is one word I’d use to describe them! Mia knows exactly which ones she made and hones in on them within seconds of spotting the finished product.

The kids lost interest at that point. I love that they can run off and play and leave me with the washing up – my own fault for not encouraging them in those endeavours too!

Out came our lovely crispy Anzac Biscuits – we ate, and we ate, and we ate. Then we had to walk along the beach to compensate for all that butter and sugar. Lest we Forget.

Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 125g butter
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon Golden syrup
  • 1 teaspooon bicarb soda
  1. Preheat oven to 170 °C. Combine sifted flour, oats, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  2. Place butter, golden syrup and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until butter has melted. Remove from heat and stir in bicarb soda.
  3. Pour mixture into dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Roll mixture into balls and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on trays.

Lunch in Paris book review – with chocolate!

I was feeling apprehensive when I began reading my copy of Lunch in Paris- a delicious love story, with recipes. Having recently read both Julie & Julia (Julie Powell) and My Life in France (Julia Child), I was hungry for more tales of French cooking (and eating).
‘Foodie Fiction’ and ‘Foodie memoirs’ as I call them, have long been favourite genres of mine; really, who can resist the opportunity to salivate over ‘Rice Pudding with drunken raisins’ whilst tucked into bed at 10pm in your PJ’s, with not an ounce of calories to worry about!
The apprehension was due to my memory of another blogger-expat-recounts-her-struggles-in-France memoir – Petite Anglaise, which I’d read a few years ago. The author, Catherine Sanderson, bristled me the wrong way, and I found it very hard to identify with her or enjoy her French journey.Elizabeth Bard, however, is charming and paints a picture of her new life in France as not only exciting but full of struggles that are so easy to relate to. A new cross-cultural romance sees this American finding her feet in Paris, and her daily worries revolve around things such as feeling like a giant on the beach next to the petite French women, unemployment and finding a Parisian flat.

Elizabeth discusses food at great length – the importance of the meal as a cultural ritual for the French, choosing the correct line to wait in at the butcher, and modestly requesting the petite slice of dessert all form part of the larger picture of living in France. 

Her book is described as ‘part cookbook, part love story’, and contains 22 chapters and around 60 recipes. Her first chapter describes not only the delicious green tea concoction made by her new lover, but the post-coital dessert and impromptu pasta he made – and then finishes the chapter with recipes for each. As each chapter progresses, the recipes continue – 2-3 at the end of every chapter. The recipes are mostly French dishes with a few ‘family’ recipes thrown in.

It’s not your typical cookbook – there are no glossy photographs, and I feel the recipe instructions are somewhat vague at times, which might prove difficult for novice cooks. The writing is great however, there is a good variety of tantalising recipes, and her memoirs leave you wanting more…luckily she has a blog which you can follow, complete with more recipes, yippee!

When it came time to road test one of Elizabeth’s recipes there was never a question as to what I would make – the Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes were a clear winner. Although I’ve seen these doing the rounds of the cooking shows for years (also known as Chocolate Lava cakes) I’ve never attempted them – until now!
Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes
Moelleux au Chocolat ‘Kitu” (French for Death by Chocolate!)
Adapted from Elizabeth Bard’s ‘Lunch in Paris
Ingredients
150 g unsalted butter
150 g good quality dark chocolate – 70% cocoa
good pinch of sea salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 Tablespoon plain flour
1. Preheat oven to 220º C. Generously grease 6 x ½cup-capacity ramekins with softened butter.
2. Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave. Add sea salt.
3. Beat egg yolks, eggs and sugar with your handheld beater/whisk/stand mixer until light and slightly foamy – this will take a few minutes.
4. Add the egg mixture to the warm chocolate and whisk quickly to combine – it should be quite thick.
5. Divide room-temp batter evenly amongst ramekins – approximately 3/4 full, and carefully place into oven.
6. Bake for 7 minutes for a thin outer shell with completely molten interior, or 8 minutes for a slightly thicker crust and gooey heart (I did mine for 7½ minutes!)
7. Remove from oven and allow to sit on bench for 1-2 minutes – restrain yourselves people! Slowly upturn onto serving plate and watch as it effortlessly glides out looking absolutely perfect! Serve with dusted icing sugar, cream, ice-cream, strawberries or whatever else you so desire. Bon appétit!

 Notes

* These can be prepared ahead of time and placed in the fridge until you’re ready for dessert. Leave on the bench for a good half hour or so before putting into the oven as they need to return to room temperature before baking.
* Even better, the batter can be frozen directly in the ramekins and cooked straight from the freezer! Elizabeth recommends giving them 10 minutes on the bench, then cooking at 200º C for 15-17 minutes. This is perfect if you don’t have 6 people to impress in one sitting – simply freeze the ones you don’t need for another night – perfect!
Mine did sink a little on top – I’m guessing some degree of this is normal judging by how many photos I see of these with a strawberry or dollop of cream sitting on top to hide it! The chocolate is so very rich and decadent, and really does ooze out of the centre like gooey molten….mmmmmm! It’s a very impressive dessert for minimal effort really.
I wish we’d had ice-cream left in the freezer to serve but alas not this time…luckily there are more molten cakes in my freezer for another night, so no guesses for what I’m putting on my shopping list this week!
These were so much easier to make than I’d expected and I’ll be trying a few more ‘French’ recipes with less trepidation now.

Anyone reading any good foodie-fiction or foodie-memoirs at the moment?

Lemon, passionfruit and ricotta Anzac tart

A few weeks ago, VERY new to blogging, I saw the theme for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop this month was lemons. Lemons….gah how could I resist?!  Anything lemon-y is my thing. You know how you meet a certain friend for coffee and they predictably order the friand, hold the cream? I’m the one who always orders the citrus tart. Or the Lemon meringue pie… most definitely with cream. Predictable yes, but loyal to my citrus love.
I was so excited to join the blog hop for the first time this month, but self doubt kept creeping in. Then all the ‘yummy’ things were already made…I’d decided to give it a miss this month and put it out of my mind. Instead, I started searching for an Anzac recipe I could make for next week.
I stumbled across an Anzac Tart on the CSR sugar website – not only will it be a perfect Anzac Day treat, but it contains Lemon! It was also a good opportunity for me to use some of the passionfruits my mum had been collecting from her vine. The clouds opened, the sun shined through and the Universe aligned….behold, I give you the Lemon, passionfruit and ricotta Anzac Tart!

 

I adapted the recipe slightly to create 8 individual tarts rather than one large one. It’s a little more work to pack the tart tins properly with the Anzac base, but they look gorgeous.
Lemon, passionfruit and ricotta Anzac tart
Adapted from CSR sugar recipes
Ingredients
Base
1 cup plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup instant oats
100 g butter
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Golden syrup
Filling
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoon lemon rind
375g ricotta
1/3 cup natural yoghurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 passionfruit
1. Preheat oven to 180°C for conventional or 160°C for fan forced oven.
2. Base: sift flour into a bowl and add coconut and oats. Combine butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until butter has melted. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and pour butter mixture into flour mixture and stir until well combined.
3. Press mixture into base and sides of 8 x 12cm round loose-bottom tart pans. Bake for 10 minutes, then leave to cool.
4. Filling: add lemon juice, rind, ricotta, yoghurt, eggs, caster sugar and passionfruit in a bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Pour into tart cases and bake for 30 minutes. Cool in pan, then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Serve drizzled with cream and golden syrup.
Notes
* Use low-fat ricotta and yoghurt for a slightly healthier option. I also used the natural yoghurt to serve rather than cream for a lighter result – the tart is fairly rich and sweet on its own!

 

This tart has that lovely crunchy Anzac biscuity-base, and the sweet Lemon filling is dotted with little bursts of sunshiny passionfruit seeds. They are the perfect size to share with a friend for an Anzac morning tea, or keep it all to yourself!
I love that this Sweet Adventures Blog Hop has given me a whole new arsenal of Lemon recipes to try…there are some amazing looking lemon creations offered up by some very talented bloggers this month, and I’m so excited to be part of it!
Pop on over to le Delicieux to check out all the other fantastic Sweet Adventures Blog Hop entries!

 

Zucchini & Tomato Tartlets

Before my youngest was born a few years ago, I quite happily cooked a fairly large repertoire of healthy dinners for my family. A week after Oliver was born however, Mr B. started working away from home – his usual roster is 2 weeks away, 2 weeks home. With two small children and a newborn to keep me busy, my dinner routine was shot whenever Mr B. was away.
I started looking for meal options that I could freeze – not a new concept I know (and huge on Pinterest right now!), but being vegetarian I wanted tasty dinners that weren’t your standard pumpkin soup or casserole. My lovely librarian at the time (who kept a keen eye on my borrowing habits and always knew exactly what I needed!) suggested the Frost Bite books by Susan Austin, which I took home and tried a few recipes from. The meals are designed to be part or fully cooked, frozen and reheated for an easy dinner or when you want to impress unexpected guests. Oh these? I just whipped them up this morning one-handed whilst I rocked the baby to sleep with my other hand! It has genius written all over it!
Even though dinner times are a tad easier as the kids are getting older, I still tend to bake my little heart out when Mr B. is home and stock the freezer, as it takes the pressure off when he’s away.
One of the recipes in the ‘lunch’ section of Frost Bite was originally made and devoured before I could even get them to the freezer – the Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Tarts were absolutely perfect and have become a firm favourite around here. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made these over the past few years and not only taken them to barbecues, picnics etc, but also how many people I’ve passed the recipe on to! One of the problems with these is that when I take them to a function, they get snatched up so quickly by the meat-eaters that the vegetarians (uh, me!) get left with the crumbs – now that I’ve cottoned on to that I make sure I hide a few for myself first!

The lovely Susan now has a blog and a shiny new book – the new version contains the best recipes from the first two books. The recipes contain detailed instructions for freezing and reheating, which many other ‘freezer-friendly’ recipes often lack.

Here’s my adaptation of the Zucchini Tarts from the Frost Bite book – the original recipe and the freezing/reheating steps can be found here. Instead of pie tins, I bake mine in a standard sized muffin tray and end up with 12 tartlets. I usually freeze these in batches of 2-3 for meals for me when Mr B. is away and I’m doing something meaty for the kids. 
Zucchini & Tomato Tartlets
Ingredients
3 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
300 g Zucchini (around 2 medium sized), grated
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150g ricotta
70g grated parmesan
handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
6 cherry tomato or 4 cocktail-sized tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 180°C, and grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin. Cut 4 circles from each sheet of pastry then ease into pie tins. I use a 1-cup capacity ramekin to trace around on the pastry with a sharp knife to get the correct size for my muffin tray holes.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients except tomatoes in a large bowl and mix well to combine.  Spoon the zucchini mixture into the pastry. Slice tomatoes and place on top of each tartlet, pressing them in slightly. I used piccolini cocktail tomatoes cut into thirds today but I usually halve cherry tomatoes.


3. Place the tartlets on a tray and bake for around 35 minutes, or until the zucchini filling has set and browned a little, and the tomatoes are a little shrivelled. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
 Delicious served with a salad for lunch or dinner, and a crowd-pleasing canape to boot!

Salted spiced Caramel Slice

A week or so ago Better Homes & Gardens featured a variation of a caramel slice on one of the cooking segments (I think it was actually a repeat, but I don’t watch it often enough to remember, and wouldn’t own up to it even if I did!)…now the caramel slice is already pretty close to perfection, so I wondered how they could possibly make it any better.
This version is salted and spiced – I watched in wonder as Karen mixed not only the spices into the caramel mixture, but also threw in an Early Grey teabag. The finishing touch was a sprinkle of sea salt over the chocolate…I could barely wait for the newsagency to open the next morning in order to find myself a copy of the magazine with enclosed recipe. The look on the newsagent’s face when I impatiently paid my money over the counter revealed I wasn’t the first crazed housewife to rush in for the mag.
With visitors arriving yesterday afternoon, it seemed the perfect excuse to try the slice and have someone to share all those delicious calories with.

Salted spiced Caramel Slice
Adapted From Better Homes & Garden magazine, 05/12
Ingredients
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
120g unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Filling
50g unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 tin condensed milk
Topping
220g dark chocolate
30g unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon Maldon (or other good quality) sea-salt flakes

1. Preheat oven to 160 °C and line base of a slice tin with baking paper.

2. Put flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a food processor until combined. Press mixture evenly into prepared tin. Smooth surface and bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly golden.

3. Put golden syrup, butter, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and tea bag in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter has melted. Gradually bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Your mixture will be a lovely dark colour. remove and discard tea bag.
4. Add condensed milk to pan and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until mixture has thickened and slightly darkened again. Remove cinnamon from pan and discard. Pour mixture over cooled slice base. Bake for 8-10 or until bubbling and lightly golden. Set aside to cool until caramel is firm.

5. Place chopped chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Heat until almost melted, then remove and stir until smooth. Spoon over caramel filling and smooth surface with the back of a spoon.

6. Sprinkle sea salt flakes over topping, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Once firm, cut into slices and enjoy!

The spices add a subtle depth to the caramel, and the salted chocolate leaves your tastebuds tingling and wanting more! I was hoping the flavours would be too much of an odd combination for my children to tolerate, but they gobbled it up and asked for more!