Thursday, April 26, 2012

Women's Weekly Chocolate Velvet Cake

It was a cold and miserable ANZAC Day in Melbourne yesterday so chocolate velvet cake was in order! This recipe is from Women’s Weekly The Little Book of Chocolate which was free with this month’s magazine. It’s a quick and easy cake to make because you just place all the ingredients in the bowl and mix! We didn’t make the chocolate glaze but I have included the recipe anyway.

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup (110g) castor sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour
  • 1/3 cup (25g) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2/3 cup (160g) sour cream
  • ½ cup (125m) water
Chocolate Glaze
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 60g butter, chopped coarsely
  • ½ cup (80g) pure icing sugar, sifted
  • ¼ (60g) sour cream

1.   Preheat oven to 180*C/160*C fan-force. Grease a deep 22cm x 32cm rectangular cake pan, line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over sides. (I absolutely hate lining cake tins so I just ripped one large piece of Glad Bake and lined the tin – not as neat but does the job).

2.   Place ingredients in a large bowl, beat with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and pale in colour. Spread mixture in pan. (We used Dutch cocoa powder which is divine).

3.   Bake cake for around 45 minutes. Stand cake in pan for 10 minutes before turning, top side up onto wire rack to cool.
4.   To make the chocolate glaze, stir ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes until glaze is spreadable on the cooled cake.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bullion Stitch Roses

I've made quite of a few of these face wash and hand towels over the years and they are super easy to make once you've mastered the bullion stitch. The pattern is from Inspiration issue 22 (1999) and it usually takes me a good 7 hours to complete the embroidery. Given the effort, use good quality towels, and depending on how well you've anchored and ended the stitches, it washes really well in the machine.

The roses are created using the bullion stitches and my favourite pinks are DMC 601, 603 and 604 (darkest to lightest) and the green is DMC 703. I use to add blue french knots as per the instuctions in the book but find it looks messy at the back. Each bullion is created using 6 strands of DMC thread.

Large Rose
To create the large rose (in the middle):
  • DMC 601 - make 3 bullion stitches consisting of 10 wraps each (to create three rows to make the centre of the rose)
  • DMC 603 - make 4 bullion stitches consisting of 16 wraps each (surround the centre and slightly overlap to make the inner rose)
  • DMC 604 - make 7 bullion stitches consisting of 20 wraps each (surround the inner rose and slightly overlap to make the outer rose)
Small Rose (left) and Bud (right)
To create the small rose (make two):
  • DMC 603 - make 2 bullion stitches consisting of 10 wraps each
  • DMC 604 - make 5 bullion stitches consisting of 16 wraps each

The bud is made (make two):
  • DMC 601 - make 1 bullion stritches consisting of 10 wraps each
  • DMC 603 - make 2 bullion stitches consisting of 10 wraps each
  • DMC 604 - make 2 bullion stitches consisting of 10 wraps each

To finish off, stitch detached chain stitches to make leaves using DMC 703.

Inspiration, published by Country Bumpkin, issue 22 (1999)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Malaysian Style Vegetable Curry

Even though I'm an adult (wellll most of time) and know the importance of including lots of fresh vegetables in my diet, it can be uninspiring. Here is a tasty way to eat lots of veggies so you feel like a proper grown up!

You will need vegetable curry paste (you can buy ready made packets from your Asian grocer), fresh curry leaves (which is selling for around A$90 per kilo - but don't panic because you only need a handful), 200ml of light coconut milk, a packet of bean curd puffs and any vegetables you like. On this occasion we used potato, eggplant, cauliflower, snake beans and tomato. In the past we have included carrot and pumpkin.

Follow the instructions on the pack, but in general fry the curry paste until fragrant and add curry leaves (the paste has oil, so don't add extra). Add water and simmer. Add the vegetables that takes the longest to cook, in this case, the potato and eggplant. Once it it is 3/4 cooked, add the fast cooking vegetables, coconut milk and the bean curd puff which is my favourite because it absorbs all of the curry soup. This is a quick and tasty meal to prepare and you'll be sure to eat all your veggies!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chinese Roast Pork with Crackle

Homemade Chinese Roast Pork with Crackle

Who can resist home made roast pork with crackle? (not me!) I'm not a huge meat eater but I really enjoy this so Dad made it for Saturday dinner.

Marinated the pork belly with salt, five spice powder and oil in the fridge over night. Like most Asian home cooking, measurements are a bit vague so it really depends on how much meat there is and you need to "adjust" the quantities (which I don't have). Prick the pork belly skin with a fork and rub with salt and oil (which is what makes the crackle).

We have a great portable oven which is ideal for roasting (easier to clean and less messy than the regular ovens). Preheat the oven for 15 minutes at 200*C. Place the meat on the rack and cook for 25 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 185*C and cook for a further 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest before cutting (the meat pictured above has not been cut yet). If there are leftovers, the roast pork is lovely braised with shitake mushroom and sea cucumber (such a deceiving name - I use to think it was a vegetable!) in oyster sauce.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Felt Doughnuts

Another food theme project, I know, I know, what's with that? I've made a few of these for myself and friends which always bring a smile to people's faces. The pattern is from Joie Staff's "My Favourite Sweets" and the book is filled with delicious looking goodies. I use these doughnut as pin cushions but they look pretty cute served on a plate! I showed the ladies at a sewing Meet Up group last year how to make these, and we had a fun, calorie free afternoon.

You will need:
  • Felt for the doughnut (I used cream felt which makes my doughnuts a little pasty looking so you may wish to use light brown felt)
  • Felt for the icing
  • Beads for the sprinkles
  • Embroidery thread matching the doughnut and icing felt
  • Fibre fill
It's a super easy pattern as all you need are 2 circular pieces of felt (8cm in diameter) with a hole (1.5cm diameter) cut out in the middle for the doughnut.

Cut a squiggly piece of felt for the icing with a 1.5cm diameter hole in the middle. Place the icing on top of one doughnut felt making sure the 1.5cm holes line up and whip stitch (or blanket stitch if you prefer) using embroidery thread that matches the icing. Doughnuts need sprinkles so sew beads liberally on top of the icing (I've used seed and bugle beads).

With wrong sides together, using embroidery thread matching the doughnut felt, sew around the inner hole using blanket stitch. Once complete, sew the outer edge of the doughnut using blanket stitch, leaving a gap to stuff with filling. I start ftuffing the doughnut when I've sewed 3/4 around the outer edge, and continue to stuff and sew until the gap is closed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lentil, Sweet Potato & Pancetta Soup

Woolworth's Good Taste magazine is a fantastic monthly magazine filled with relatively easy recipes that are wholesome and tasty. I find some recipe magazines a little too fancy, so when I crave regular food, Good Taste is my first reference point (at A$3.95 per issue, it is good value too). Featured in April's edition, Mum made this superb soup last night which I thought was definitely blog worthy (made without the broccoli).

750ml (3 cups) boiling water
1 teaspoon Massel salt reduced chicken stock powder
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
50g pancetta, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g sweet potato peeled, cut into 1cm pieces
400g can no-added-salt lentils, rinsed and drained
400g can no-added-salt diced tomatoes
250g broccoli, but into small florets
Chopped fresh continental parsley to serve

1. Combine the water and stock powder in a large heatproof jug.

2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion, celery, pancetta and garlic stirring for 6 minutes or until soft. Add the sweet potato and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the stock mixture, lentils and tomato. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered for 15-20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender. Add broccoli. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli is tender crisp.

4. To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

This is perfect comfort food for the colder months; although Melbourne is still experiencing pretty fine weather. Below is a photo taken at 9.15am, it is a little hazy but we're expecting a top of 24*C!

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minues
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Nutrition: 17g protein; 4.5g fat (1g saturated fat); 36g carb; 10g dietary fibre; 1030kJ (245 cals).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Port Melbourne

Princes Pier
It was a beautiful Autumn day in Melbourne and I went on a 16km Port Melbourne walk with a Meetup group. It was 27*C which is unseasonally warm for this time of the year, but there were certainly no complaints judging from all the people out and enjoying the splendid weather!

Westgate Bridge
We started the walk at Station Pier, strolling along Beacon Cove esplanade to Princes Pier. We then walked along Sandridge Beach and Todd Road West Gate Park where thankfully, we did not encounter any snakes! We stood underneath the West Gate Bridge, went through Fisherman's Bend before journeying back Station Pier.

I usually don't post photos of myself (well aside from my hands and feet) but that's me in the black cap.
(Photo taken by James Rodrigo)

We finished the walk at 3.00pm and I didn't feel like eating anything heavy but the gelati stand seemed like a refreshing idea! Not really a "meal", but Andrew, Grace and I very much enjoyed it (I had blood orange, mango and strawberry) and Andrew even gave it a Japanese-style bunny ears approval.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Appliqued Teapot Tea Towel

 photo IMG_0204_zps94642e7b.jpg

It's the Easter long weekend and I'm ssiicckkk with the flu! It's terribly unfair as I was planning a few projects but now I'm just moping around the house.

Mum was watching Martha Stewart earlier this week and she really liked a teapot appliqued tea towel featured on the show. I've previously confessed to an obsession with tea towels so I just had to make one!

Martha used linen tea towels and Liberty of London prints which start from A$45 per metre at Clegg's...errr, so I'll stick with an IKEA cotton tea towel for 49 cents and cotton prints I have in my overflowing fabric boxes. I cut up some red print quilter's quarters and ironed on Pellon fusible webbing. There you go, a quick and easy project which can be completed even if one is ssiicckkk!

You might think that I'm only kidding about the tea towel obsession so here is evidence - last year I completed this blackwork embroidery of tea towels hanging on a clothes line from Sonia Lucano's Made in France Blackwork. I even have it framed... sad but true.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pout Exhibition: Fashion Royalty, Integrity Toys, Chadstone

As part of the 2012 L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Chadstone Shopping Centre (which Melbourians affectly refer to as "Chaddy") has organised an exhibition of Integrity Toys' Fashion Royalty dolls. I only collect Barbie dolls, but I appreciate the exquisite design and fine details of these dolls. The display also has doll size Philippe Starck Ghost Chairs which I would love for my Barbie collection. Sigh... rather than just one display cabinet for my 123 Barbies (and 5 Kens - he is an "accessory" after all), I would love a display like this!